Letters of Hartley Coleridge

By Grace Griggs Evelyn; Earl Griggs Leslie et al. | Go to book overview
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LETTER84
To MRS. SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.

Nab. Feb. 7, 1844.

My dear Mother

A few lines to day will be better than a great many tomorrow. I am very angry with myself for giving you cause to suspect me of indifference to you and your concerns, and the undeserved mildness of your rebuke makes my self-reproach the sharper. Poor dear Sara! I suppose the Psoriasis is something different from the nettle rash which tormented her childhood--but she was always prone to cutaneous irritation. I trust this will find her better, though perhaps her perfect recovery may be delay'd till the weather is improved.

Your account of the young ones is agreeable. Herby's fault is a good one, but letter writing is a juvenile propensity, and sometimes decays with age--when folks have more painful things to tell. Derwent is an excellent correspondent, at least as far as his wife is concerned. Indeed, he is most exemplary in all relations, and has no fault but a certain measure of, I will not call it presumption but assumption, probably owing in part to his habits of command and a little to the worship universally paid him--which is greater than either his father, or W. or S. obtained at his age. A man must be weak indeed if after twenty he is elated by praise of his talents, his genius, or even his poetry; but to be at once loved and admired, to be look'd up to as an oracle by his equals, and set forth as an example by his superiors, is a severe trial for any human humility. Of course, you have read Moultrie's address to him.1 I confess I should not like to be so praised in print, but alas! I know that I deserve it not. It is not, however, good policy to overpraise a man in public. It not only embitters enmity if any exist, but it irritates friends who cannot themselves go quite so far. Derwent, however, can bear it, for he has few faults for any to discover. If he had, his freedom of rebuke and fearless assertion of his opinions, which are not those, not precisely those, of any sect, party, or denomination in Church or State would provoke some people to expose them with little mercy. I am glad that Herby taked an interest in his sister's studies. My coldness--and I am

____________________
1
Book III of Moultrie The Dream of Life, 1843, is inscribed to Derwent, along with a quotation from Wordsworth's 'Immortality Ode'.

-273-

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