Collected Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge - Vol. 6

By Samuel Taylor Coleridge | Go to book overview

APPENDIX A
THE DEATH AND BURIAL OF COLERIDGE

The last days of Coleridge's life, his death, the post-mortem examination, and his burial are described in a letter of 5 August 1834 from Sara Coleridge to her brother Hartley:

On the evening of the 19th he [Coleridge] appeared very ill & on Sunday the 20th of July came a note—which I opened—Henry being at Church. We sent to him there & he went to Highgate immediately. My dear father had often seemed near death before so that it was not impossible that he might rally. Still from the tone of the note I mourned him as one about to be taken from us. Henry returned in a few hours. My father since he first felt his end approaching had expressed a desire that he might be as little disturbed as possible. He took leave of Mrs Gillman & did not wish even to see his beloved friend Mr Green. The agitation of nerves at the sight of those dear to him disturbed his meditations on his Redeemer to whose bosom he was hastening & he then said that he wished to evince in the manner of his death the depth & sincerity of his faith in Christ. Henry, however, was resolved to enter his room & see him for the last time. He was just able to send his blessing to my mother & me, though he articulated with difficulty & speaking seemed to increase his pain. Henry kissed him & withdrew—never to see him living again. He continued to suffer much pain in the chest or bowels & had an impression that there was water in the chest. Mr Green brought a physician who examined him with a stethoscope & thought there was not much water. Henry continued to visit the Grove but made no attempt to see my father again, & we all agreed that it would be useless for my mother & myself to go to Highgate or for Derwent or you to come up. Mr Taylor, Mr Gillman's Assistant, . . . constantly attended on my father, which was better than his seeing Mr Gillman—such interviews would have been too agitating to both. . . . My father had a most faithful & affectionate Nurse in Harriet, an old servant of the G's, & a few hours before his death he raised himself a little in bed & wrote six or seven lines recommending her for a legacy. . . . The writing, though feeble, is readable. On Thursday Henry brought word that by injections of laudanum the medical attendants had succeeded in easing my father's sufferings. This was a great relief indeed to our minds. He was able to swallow very little—but had taken some arrow-root & brandy & a dose of Laudanum. He had told Harriet that he had no feelings of dissolution upon him & feared his end would be long & painful. Thank God this was not so. On Wednesday—no Tuesday [Thursday?] he saw Mrs Gillman for the last time & took leave of James Gillman. James then saw him raise his head in the air—looking upwards as in prayer—he then fell

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Collected Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge - Vol. 6
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Illustrations vii
  • Abbreviations and Principal References ix
  • 1504. to Unknown Correspondent 531
  • Appendix a the Death and Burial of Coleridge 991
  • Appendix B Additional Letters, 1705-1831, 1003
  • Index 1059
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