Samuel Taylor Coleridge: A Biographical Study

By E. K. Chambers | Go to book overview

XII
THE FRIEND June 1808--April 1810

WHEN the lectures were over in June 1808 Coleridge took refuge with the Clarksons at Bury St. Edmunds. Mrs. Clarkson had the gift of sympathy, and in companionship with her he recovered to some extent his physical and mental balance. 'Catherine', he said, 'I shall soon be a poet again; you will make me a poet.' Later she regretted that he had not stayed longer, when 'the Truth, the awful Truth' would have been revealed to her. This is rather cryptic. Certainly Mrs. Clarkson knew all about the separation and the opium. Probably what she had not realized was the opening rift between Coleridge and Wordsworth, for she adds, 'He must have acknowledged that the cause of failure was in himself. He went to Grasmere & it was put upon the change he found there.'1 Coleridge's review of the History of the Abolition of the Slave Trade by Thomas Clarkson, whom for his absorption in the subject he called 'the moral Steam-Engine or the Giant with one idea', appeared in the Edinburgh Review for July, much bedevilled, according to the usual fashion of Francis Jeffrey, by the insertion of paragraphs exalting the share of Wilberforce in the agitation above Clarkson's, and qualifying some praise which Coleridge had bestowed upon Pitt. It brought Coleridge, however, twenty guineas. Probably he would have liked nothing better than to become a regular contributor to the Edinburgh. In writing to Jeffrey he expressed his personal indifference to the alterations. But to others he described them as shameful mutilations, and when Jeffrey also made an attack upon Davy broke out, 'It is high Time, that the spear of Ithuriel should touch this Toad at the ear of the public.'2

____________________
1
G.216; R.32; W.277, 284, 291, 319, 341, 391; L.211.
2
C.168, 169, 171; G.192, 195, 202 (misdated); A, p. 184.

-214-

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