Samuel Taylor Coleridge: A Biographical Study

By E. K. Chambers | Go to book overview

XIII
BROKEN TIES

May 1810--April 1813

COLERIDGE had shot his bolt in The Friend, and it had missed its mark. Early in May 1810 he felt the need for a change of scene, and went to Keswick, while Mary Wordsworth was again confined. He had intended to return after ten days, but in fact stayed for six months, and was never thereafter a housemate of the Wordsworths. Dreams of his love for Sara Hutchinson, recorded in a temper of exalted idealism, still haunted his walks. Mrs. Coleridge describes him as on the whole in good spirits and kindly disposition, but writing nothing, although he said he was.

The last No. of the 'Friend' lies on his Desk, the sight of which fills my heart with grief and my Eyes with tears; but I am obliged to conceal my trouble as much as possible, as the slightest expression of regret never fails to excite resentment.--Poor Man!--I have not the least doubt but he is the most unhappy of the two.

He began to read Italian with her and his daughter, but the only traces of literary activity during these months are in a critical letter to Wordsworth on The Lady of the Lake and a few contributions to the miscellany of Omniana which Southey had in preparation. Hartley was now 14 and Derwent 10, and their mother did not know what would become of them unless her husband arose from his lethargy and exerted himself. Moreover, Josiah Wedgwood had written that she must henceforward pay the property tax of 10 per cent. on the annuity. Francis Jeffrey was at Keswick during the autumn, and met both Coleridge and Southey.1

Coleridge now had little prospect away from London, and for London he started at the end of October. He passed through Grasmere, where Mary Wordsworth thought him bloated and swollen up with fat and to her mind looking

____________________
1
C.179; G.214; M.6; H.L.122, 125; W.407, 410, 419, 426; Asra.318: B.L. (ed. Shawcross), i. 217; Cockburn, Jeffrey, i. 199.

-235-

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