Letters of Hartley Coleridge

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

LETTER 32
TO DERWENT COLERIDGE.

Begun August -- Finished August 30, [1830.]

My dear Derwent

The only possible excuse I can utter for not having sooner written to thank you for your acceptable present of apparel, was the hope of announcing better tidings with regard to St. Aubyn1 than at last I can give. We will begin therefore, with that business at once, and then, I know not how long I may scribble about other matter, postage being out of the question--a saving which may possibly reconcile your orthodoxy to receiving the pacquet from the hand of a Quaker. Some weeks ago I had a letter from St. A. confessing the debt, with much apparent candour, and desiring to be inform'd of its amount and circumstances. I replied, with perhaps more gushing of kindness than some folks might think suitable to the case, not even alluding to the two letters which I had previously written and of which he had taken no notice, but simply desiring him, at his earliest convenience to transmit the money to you. That he has not so done, is I fear, but probable. In your hands, I therefore leave the business, much thanking you for taking such an ungracious deal of trouble upon you. I do not now think that St. A. requires any forbearance from me; he is, or ought to be, rich, and whatever weakness of toleration I may have for such as from imprudence or even self-indulgence, contract debts without the means of discharging them, I profess none for the wilful neglect of payment, when ample means are at command. By no means, however, incur any expense on your own part, nor run the risque of offending any whom your heart or interests would preserve or acquire as friends. I do not deserve it of you, and you as a husband and father, have duties of far greater moment than the facilitating my relief from the penalties of my own folly. If the money can be recovered, it is our Mother's. At all events, I am determined to be free from pecuniary obligations to her before Christmas, well knowing not only the privations she necessarily undergoes from the narrowness of her income, but the poison which such worldly dealings mingle with the pure streams of affection. The sense of obligation is the bane of gratitude, and hard it is to love

____________________
1
St. Aubyn was the student whom Hartley had tutored at Oriel; apparently Hartley had not been remunerated for his services.

-105-

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