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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. IV. 1801-1803
Samuel Taylor Coleridge to William Godwin, 22 September 1801

Contents Vol. I
Ch. I. 1756-1785
Ch. II. 1785-1788
Ch. III. 1788-1792
Ch. IV. 1793
Ch. V. 1783-1794
Ch. VI. 1794-1796
Ch. VII. 1759-1791
Ch. VII. 1791-1796
Ch. IX. 1797
Ch. X. 1797
Ch. XI. 1798
Ch. XII. 1799
Ch. XIII. 1800
Contents Vol. II
Ch. I. 1800
Ch. II. 1800
Ch. III. 1800
Ch. IV. 1801-1803
Ch. V. 1802-1803
Ch. VI. 1804-1806
Ch. VII. 1806-1811
Ch. VIII. 1811-1814
Ch. IX. 1812-1819
Ch. X. 1819-1824
Ch. XI. 1824-1832
Ch. XII. 1832-1836
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Greta Hall, Keswick, Sep. 22, 1801.

My dear Godwin,—When once a correspondence has intermitted, from whatever cause, it scarcely ever recommences without some impulse ab extra. After my last letter, I went rambling after health, or at least, alleviation of sickness. My Azores scheme I was obliged to give up, as well, I am afraid, as that of going abroad at all, from want of money. Latterly I have had additional source of disquietude—so that altogether I have, I confess, felt little inclination to write to you, who have not known me long enough, nor associated enough of that esteem which you entertain for the qualities you attribute to me, with me myself me, to be much interested about the carcase Coleridge. So, of Carcase Coleridge no more.

“At Middleham, near Durham, I accidentally met your pamphlet and read it—and only by accident was prevented from immediately writing to you. For I read it with unmingled delight and admiration, with the exception of that one hateful paragraph, for the insertion of which I can account only on a superstitious hypothesis, that, when all the gods and goddesses gave you each a good gift, Nemesis counterbalanced them all with the destiny, that, in whatever you published, there should be some one outrageously imprudent suicidal passage. But you have had enough
of this. With the exception of this passage, I never remember to have read a pamphlet with warmer feelings of sympathy and respect. Had I read it en masse when I wrote to you, I should certes have made none of the remarks I once made in the first letter on the subject, but as certainly should have done so in my second. On the most deliberate reflection, I do think the introduction clumsily worded, and (what is of more importance) I do think your retractations always imprudent, and not always just. But it is painful to me to say this to you. I know not what effect it may have on your mind, for I have found that I cannot judge of other men by myself. I am myself dead indifferent as to censures of any kind. Praise even from fools has sometimes given me a momentary pleasure, and what I could not but despise as opinion, I have taken up with some satisfaction as sympathy. But the censure or dislike of my dearest Friend, even of him whom I think the wisest man I know, does not give me the slightest pain. It is ten to one but I agree with him, and if I do, then I am glad. If I differ from him, the pleasure which I feel in developing the sources of our disagreement entirely swallows up all consideration of the disagreement itself. But then I confess that I have written nothing that I value myself at all, and that constitutes a prodigious difference between us—and still more than this, that no man’s opinion, merely as opinion, operates in any other way than to make me review my own side of the question. All this looks very much like self-panegyric. I cannot help it. It is the truth, and I find it to hold good of no other person; i.e. to the extent of the indifference which I feel. And therefore I am without any criterion, by which I can determine what I can say, and how much without wounding or irritating. I will never therefore willingly criticise any manuscript composition, unless the author and I are together, for then I know that, say what I will, he cannot be wounded, because my voice, my looks, my whole manners must convince any good man that all I said was accompanied with sincere good-will and genuine kindness. Besides, I seldom fear to say anything when I can develope my reasons, but this is seldom possible in a letter. It is not improbable, that is, not very im-
probable that, if I am absolutely unable to go abroad (and I am now making a last effort by an application to
Mr John King respecting his house at S. Lewis, and the means of living there), I may perhaps come up to London and maintain myself as before by writing for the Morning Post. Here it will be imprudent for me to stay, from the wet and the cold. My darling Hartley has this evening had an attack of fever, but my medical man thinks it will pass off. I think of your children not unfrequently. God love them. He has been on the Scotch hills with Montagu and his new father, William Lush,—Yours,

S. T. Coleridge.”