referring to the recent 'events of great importance to me', namely the brief letter he received on Christmas day from Josiah Wedgwood, which he here copies in full ('...We therefore request, that you will accept the inclosed draft with the same simplicity, with which it is offered to you...'), this 'draft' being, says Coleridge, 'for an 100£'; Coleridge then goes on to explain that, having 'received an invitation from the Unitarian congregation at Shrewsbury to become their minister', he finally decided to return the draft (enclosing a copy of his letter to the Wedgwoods, 'No. 1', no longer present), upon which he received another letter from Josiah and Thomas Wedgwood which he also encloses in a separate copy ('No. 2', present)
...I have only to state the proposal we wish to make to you. It is that you shall accept an annuity for life of £150 to be regularly paid by us, no condition whatsoever being annexed to it...
the consequence being that Coleridge accepted their offer with all gratitude and declined the offer by the Unitarian Society, who wrote 'a very complimentary & affectionate letter...expressing their regret...but approving my motives' and who wanted him to publish the six sermons he had delivered there ('...which I declined, having preached them extempore, & consequently, not able to appreciate their real merits...'). After further comments on his feelings and family news, coleridge discusses the progress of his 'tragedy' ('osorio') and the not unexpected lack of an answer from the untrustworthy R.B. Sheridan who had commissioned it
...I set myself in good earnest about it, finished the piece in a much better style than I had supposed myself capable of doing, & transmitted it to Sheridan...In all probability, Mrs Sheridan has made thread-papers with it...
Coleridge's letter 3 pages, folio, with address panel ('Revd G. Coleridge / Ottery St Mary'), Stowey near Bridgewater, '8' [i.e. 9] February 1798, slight fraying
(i) Copy of the letter by Josiah Wedgwood offering Coleridge the £150 annuity, with full explanation of their reasons, this text copied above the opening of a letter by his friend Thomas Poole and apparently in the hand of Poole's young secretary and assistant Thomas Ward, 2 pages, folio, Penzance, 10 January 1798, minor tears, paper loss affecting text at foot
This is the enclosure 'No. 2' to which Coleridge refers in his letter.
(ii) A copy or draft (with deletions) of a letter apparently by George Coleridge to his brother the poet (addressed 'Dr Brother', but unsigned), assuring him of his concern for his happiness, discussing their differences of political views, especially in relation to the French Revolution, and making reference to the 'unequivocal liberality' of the Wedgwoods (...To you I have avowed [these sentiments] as a Preventative to any unpleasant or unbrotherly dispute should you and Mrs Coleridge pay us a Visit at Ottery...'), 2 pages, large folio, [?late February-early March 1798]
This letter, which is apparently unpublished, may possibly be the 'kind & interesting Letter' to which Coleridge refers in his important letter to George of c.10 March 1798 (Collected Letters, I, 394-8, No. 238) in which he seeks to clarify his current political thinking and establish 'the opinions common to us'.
Coleridge's letter published in the Collected Letters, ed. Griggs, I, 383-5 (No. 231), and Wedgwood's on pp. 373-4 (No. 222). See also the account of this period in Coleridge's life in Richard Holmes, Coleridge: Early Visions (1989), esp. p. 174 et seq.
these letters relate to one of the major periods of coleridge's life, when he finally achieved some financial and domestic stability and was also engaged on his most famous poem, 'the rime of the ancient mariner'
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