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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. IV. 1801-1803
Samuel Taylor Coleridge to William Godwin, 4 June 1803

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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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
Greta Hall, Keswick, June 4, 1803.

My Dear Godwin,—I trust that my dear friend C. Lamb will have informed you how seriously ill I have been. I arrived
at Keswick on Good Friday, caught the influenza, have struggled on in a series of convalescence and relapse, the disease still assuming new shapes and symptoms; and though I am certainly better than at any former period of the disease, and more steadily convalescent, yet it is not mere low spirits that makes me doubt whether I shall ever wholly surmount the effects of it. I owe this explanation to you. I quitted town with strong feelings of affectionate esteem towards you, and a firm resolution to write to you within a short time after my arrival at my home. During my illness, I was exceedingly affected by the thought that month had glided away after month, year after year, and still had found and left me only preparing for the experiments which are to ascertain whether the hopes of those who have hoped proudly of me have been auspicious omens, or mere delusions—and the anxiety to realise something and finish something, has, no doubt, in some measure retarded my recovery. I am now, however, ready to go to press with a work which I consider as introductory to a System, though to the public it will appear altogether a thing by itself. I write now to ask your advice respecting the time and manner of its publication, and the choice of a publisher. I entitle it ‘Organum verè Organum, or an Instrument of Practical Reasoning in the Business of Real Life; to which will be prefixed, i, a familiar introduction to the common system of Logic, namely that by
Aristotle and the schools; 2, a concise and simple yet full statement of the Aristotelian Logic, with references annexed to the authors, and the name and page of the work, to which each part may be traced, so that it may be seen what is Aristotle’s, what Porphyry, what the addition of the Greek commentators, and what of the Schoolmen; 3, of the Platonic Logic; 4, of Aristotle, containing a fair account of the ”Οργανόν, of which Dr Reid, in ‘KaimesSketches of Man,’ has given a false, and not only erroneous but calumnious statement—as far as the account had not been anticipated in the second part of my work—namely, the concise and simple, yet full,&c.,&c.; 5, a philosophical examination of the Truth and of the Value of the Aristotelian System of Logic, including all the after additions to A. C. on the characteristic merits and demerits of Aristotle and Plato as philosophers in
general, and an attempt to explain the vast influence of the former during so many ages; and of the influence of Plato’s works on the restoration of the belles lettres, and on the Reformation; 7,
Raymond Lully; 8, Peter Ramus; 9, Lord Bacon, or the Verulamian Logic; 10, Examination of the same, and comparison of it with the logic of Plato (in which I attempt to make it probable that, though considered by Bacon himself as the antithesis and antidote of Plato, it is bonâ fide the same, and that Plato has been grossly misunderstood); 10, Descartes; 11, Condillac, and a philosophical examination of his logic, i.e. the logic which he basely purloined from Hartley. Then follows my own ‘Organum vere Organum,’ which consists of a Σύστημα of all possible modes of true, probable, and false reasoning, arranged philosophically, i.e. on a strict analysis of those operations and passions of the mind in which they originate, and by which they act, with one or more striking instances annexed to each, from authors of high estimation, and to each instance of false reasoning, the manner in which the sophistry is to be detected, and the words in which it may be exposed. The whole will conclude with considerations of the value of the work and its practical utility in scientific investigations, especially the first part, which contains the strictly demonstrative reasonings, and the analysis of all the acts and passions of the mind which may be employed in the discovery of truth:—in the arts of healing, especially in those parts that contain a catalogue, &c., of probable reasoning. Lastly, in the senate, the pulpit, and our law courts, to whom the whole, but especially the latter, three-fourths of the work,—namely, the probable and the false, will be useful. And, finally, instructions how to form a common-place book by the aid of this Instrument, so as to read with practical advantage, and (supposing average talents) to ensure a facility in proving and in confuting.

“I have thus amply detailed the contents of my work, which has not been the work of one year or two, but the result of many years’ meditations, and of very various reading. The size of the work will, printed at 30 lines a page, form one volume octavo, 600 pages to the volume, and I shall be ready with the first half of the work for the printer at a fortnight’s notice. Now, my dear friend,
give me your thoughts on the subject. Would you have me offer it to the booksellers, or, by the assistance of my friends, print and publish it on my own account? If the former, would you advise me to sell the copyright at once, or only one or more editions? Can you give me a general notion what terms I have a right to insist on in either case? And lastly, to whom would you advise me to apply?
Longman and Rees are very civil, but they are not liberal, and they have no notion of me except as a Poet, nor any sprinklings of philosophical knowledge that could in the least enable them to judge of the value or probable success of such a work. Phillips is a pushing man, and a book is sure to have fair play if it is his property, and it could not be other than pleasant to me to have the same publisher with yourself—but—Now, if there be anything of importance that with truth and justice ought to follow that ‘but,’ you will inform me. It is not my habit to go to work so seriously about matters of pecuniary business, but my ill health makes my health more than ordinarily uncertain, and I have a wife and three little ones. If your judgment led you to advise me to offer it to Phillips, would you take the trouble of talking with him on the subject? and give him your real opinion, whatever it may be, of the work, and of the power of the author?

“When this book is fairly off my hands, I shall, if I live and have sufficient health, set seriously to work in arranging what I have already written, and in pushing forward my studies and my investigations relative to the omne scibile of human nature, what we are, and how we become what we are: so as to solve the two grand problems, how, being acted upon, we shall act. But between me and this work there may be Death.

“I hope that your wife and little ones are well. I have had a sick family, at one time every individual, master, mistress, children, and servants were all laid up in bed, and we were waited on by persons hired from the town by the week. But now all are well, I only excepted. If you find my paper smell, or my style savour, of scholastic quiddity, you must attribute it to the infectious quality of the folio on which I am writing, namely, ‘Joh. Scotus
Erigena De Divisione Nature,’ the forerunner by some centuries of the schoolmen.

“I cherish all kind and honourable feelings towards you, and am, dear Godwin, yours most sincerely,

S. T. Coleridge.

“You know the high character and present scarcity of ‘Search’s Light of Nature.’ ‘I have found in this writer,’ says Paley in his preface, ‘more original thinking and observation upon the several subjects he has taken in hand than in any other, not to say in all others put together. His talent also for illustration is unrivalled. But his thoughts are diffused through a long, various, and irregular work,” &c. A friend of mine, every way calculated by his tack and prior studies for such a work, is willing to abridge and systematize that work from eight to two volumes,—in the words of Paley, ‘to dispose into method, to collect into heads and articles, and to exhibit in more compact and tangible masses what, in that otherwise excellent performance, is spread over too much surface.’ I would prefix to it an Essay, containing the whole substance of the first volume of Hartley, entirely defecated from all the corpuscular hypotheses, with more illustrations. Likewise I will revise every sheet of the abridgement. I should think the character of the work, and the above quotation from so high an authority (with the present public I mean) as Paley, would ensure its success. If you will read, or transcribe and send this to Mr Phillips, or to any other publisher (Longman and Rees excepted), you would greatly oblige me—that is to say, my dear Godwin, you would essentially serve a young man of profound genius and original mind, who wishes to get his Sabine subsistence by some employment from the booksellers, while he is employing the remainder of his time in nursing up his genius for the destiny he believes appurtenant to it. Impose any task on me in return. Qui cito facit, bis facit.”