Letters of Hartley Coleridge

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

lanes--his trowsers, which were generally too long, doubled half-way up the leg, unbrushed, and often splashed; his hat brushed the wrong way, for he never used an umbrella; and his wild, unshaven weather-beaten look--were amazed at his metamorphose into such a faultless gentleman as he appeared when he was dressed for the evening.'

Still another correspondent wrote to Derwent:

'It is no uncommon thing to see an old man with hair as white as snow; but never saw I but one--and that was poor Hartley--whose head was mid winter, while his heart was as green as May.'

Only two things broke the uneventful tenor of these years, the school-mastering at Sedbergh and the preparation of the critical introduction to Massinger and Ford; otherwise Hartley's existence was but a succession of births, marriages, and deaths, interspersed occasionally by picnics, parties, or excursions; and more than any of his letters, this group is but a record of Hartley's mind and character.


LETTER 48
To MRS. HENRY NELSON COLERIDGE, No. 1 Downshire Place,

Hampstead, near London.

Grasmere--Day before Easter Sunday [Postmark, April 21, 1835.]

My Sister dear, and dearer now than ever
Since I am one of a poor family,
That like an old and thunder-stricken tree
War with the winds, with desperate endeavour--
A few leaves clinging to the age-warp'd boughs,
A small knot on a lower branch together
Wooing with kindred smiles the captious weather,
Taking all good the sneaking time allows--
And one poor leaf, that ventures to put forth
In the chill aspect of the boisterous north
High in a bare and solitary branch,
A single tree upon a mountain side,
Rooted in desperate patience to abide
The downfall of the threatening avalanche,
Since you, and I, our brother, and our 'Mother',
Need most of all the love of one another,
Strange must it seem, that with a love so strong,
I have been mute, so very, very long.
I fear, alas, you deem my heart is rotten
And all my childish love of you forgotten--

-169-

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