(i) discussing coleridge's periodical 'the friend', whose mode of publication he criticises (as 'the most unsuitable that could possibly be chosen for matter of close reasoning & high philosophy') and suggesting a more logical series of essays arranged in distinct groups according to 'amusement' or more serious matter ('...so as to put the great children who read it in good humour...so that they may be ready with open mouth to swallow a tonic bolus every now & then before they are aware of what is coming...'), the main concern being to 'give them something that they can talk about'; he goes on to agree with Coleridge's proving 'those mad scenes in Jeronymo [The Spanish Tragedy] to be Shakespeares'; enquires about having an essay on Spanish ballads 'showing how much worse they are than the English'; comments on George Coleridge's conduct (which 'exemplifies the precious consequences of substituting faith for good works, & talking about religion till you cease to feel it'); gives other news of his work for Ballantyne's New Register and his appeal to Sir George Beaumont to get Mulgrave to help Southey's brother Tom; and comments on Coleridge's 'interesting' issue No. 8, suggesting the possiblity of a life of Wesley for The Friend, 3 pages, 8vo, address panel ('To S.T. Coleridge Esqr'), trace of seal, 25 [October 1809], seal tear, light soiling
Coleridge's journal The Friend had been launched on 1 June 1809. Despite his declaration in early November 1809 (Collected Letters, III, 260, No. 792) that he would take Southey's advice given in the present letter, the periodical ran for a total of only twenty-eight issues until 15 March 1810 (see lot 43).
(ii) about the unauthorised publication of his 'wat tyler' (...I have no reason to regret the apparition of my Uncle Wat, since with the recollection of old times, it has brought back some of their feelings also...'), discussing at length the injunction against it that he tried to bring in Chancery and the derisive allusion to Southey's predicament made in the House of Commons by William Smith, as well as commenting, sometimes tartly, on other or related matters and disputes, with reference to Murray, Hunt and others
...I learn also that they have procured a man to perjure himself, & swear that I made a free gift of the manuscript...I have addressed two letters to Wm Smith...I am at issue with the Grand Murray & some of his privy council...I have not heard who was the Resurrection-Man in Uncle Wats affair, it will come out in due time, & may very possibly be traced to the Old Serpent coterie...I never knew but one man who was the son of a whore & an Atheist...a hypocrite & a rascal...I have just learnt that my appeal for an Injunction is refused...
4 pages, 4to, address panel, postal marks, Keswick, 21 March 1817, seal tear
This substantial, unhappy and revealing letter relates to the appearance of Southey's early play Wat Tyler, written in 1793-4 with the enthusiasm of a young radical, the piratical publication of which in 1817 was clearly an embarrassment to the then highly conservative poet laureate.
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