Letters of Hartley Coleridge

By Grace Griggs Evelyn; Earl Griggs Leslie et al. | Go to book overview

While he was teaching at Ambleside Hartley was self-supporting; but from the time he gave up the school he was always partially dependent on his family. His mother sent him small sums of money from time to time, usually through the medium of Mrs. Wordsworth; and she, as well as Mrs. Derwent Coleridge and Sara, provided him with clothing--indeed, his letters are full of acknowledgements for their gifts.

When Hartley left London in 1822 he saw his father for the last time; Sara never returned to the Lake country after her marriage in 1829, and Mrs. Coleridge returned only once ( 1831) after leaving the north with her daughter; Derwent saw Hartley but twice, once in 1843 and again on Hartley's death-bed. Thus Hartley was separated from his family, devoted as he was to them, throughout most of his life. Nor was his exile entirely voluntary. Every one felt that he should remain in the north, where he could be cared for. Wordsworth, indeed, wrote,

'It is far better for him to remain where he is--where everybody knows him, and everybody loves and takes care of him.'

But Hartley suffered over his separation, as the following extract from his note-book shows:

'I am far from all my kindred--not friendless indeed--but loveless and confined to a spot beautiful indeed--and dear-- but where I am not what I might be elsewhere--where much that was dearest to me has been taken away--where I want a motive to strengthen my will--and worse than all--where I daily know myself my own heart's enemy.'

Hartley was, however, never friendless. Every rustic cared for him; and such families as the Wilsons, the Lloyds, and the Foxes watched over him tenderly. Mrs. Coleridge seems to have delegated to the Wordsworths her responsibility for her son when she left with Sara for London; and they, too, opened their house to him, tried to keep track of his wanderings, and even took charge of the small sums of money sent by Mrs. Coleridge for his needs.


LETTER 29
TO ALARIC A. WATTS.1

Grasmere, May 3, 1829.

Dear Sir

Gratified as I was by the offered opportunity of enrolling myself among the Contributors to the Literary Souvenir, and

____________________
1
Alaric A. Watts, to whom this letter is addressed, was the editor of the Literary Souvenir and the author of several volumes of poems, now forgotten. To the Literary Souvenir Samuel Taylor Coleridge also contributed in 1827 and 1829. Hartley's belated contribution, Address to Certain Gold Fishes, appeared in 1830. No further contribution has been identified.

-96-

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