Letters of Hartley Coleridge

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LETTER 9 TO GEORGE MAY COLERIDGE, Christ Church, Oxford.

Ottery, St. Mary, Jan. 3, 1820.

Dear George

All the world are wishing for you (I mean all the Ottery world) and I'm sure, if loves and compliments were half as ponderous as the lightest gas, my letter would be enough to break the Coach down. We have had several parties--vain attempts at merriment--but alas--it's all body without spirit --Nitrogen without Oxygen--the tragedy of Hamlet with the character of Hamlet left out. A young man in the neighbourhood, who has pick'd up a smattering of Astronomy from Guths grammar, has publish'd a woeful new ballad call'd the aberration of Georgium Sidus--with the tears of Venus--the malice of Saturn etc., very pithy and profitable. Babes cry for you--fair maids sigh for you--you are as the Apple of their eye to the young--and teeth to the old. I have been intending to write to you for a week at least, but it is the plague of epistolatory correspondence, that ever and anon it brings to mind the sad recollection of your absence. Ottery is very pleasant, very pretty. Summer and yourself alone are wanting to its perfection. For my own part, I have [been] treated with as much humanity as I had any right to expect--and have not been once horse-whipp'd, kick'd down stairs, or even pull'd by the nose. I am much obliged to you for the deep insight you gave me into the state of the human animal in these parts--only you were rather too diffuse on the grotesque--not a word of the beauty and fashion of the place--which however forgets not you so--for you are, in truth, the adored of the adorable. By the way I most sincerely beg your pardon for forgetting your letter, but I never am above half-witted when on the eve of a journey--and such a journey as I had too--never take your advice in that matter again--forced to wait at Whitchurch for almost 17 hours. No room inside--could not for the soul of me keep my eyes open on the top--off went my hat--gone--Coachman would not stop--rain--damn'd cold--so I thought the wisest way all things consider'd, to stay all night at Hindon--and next morning--(Sunday)--I contrived to purchase a cover for my skull, which, may by courtesy, be call'd a hat. Roads confoundedly heavy--sleet--did not arrive till 7, found a good fire and a hearty welcome. How do you get on with Aristotle,

-24-

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