Letters of Hartley Coleridge

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

send them a copy of my protest, and of all the papers in our possession necessary to the elucidation of the affair.

[This letter breaks off thus.]


LETTER 16
TO LADY BEAUMONT.

[ December, 1820.]

Dear Madam

The generous kindness you have ever shown towards me, and the honorable place I have held in your estimation, add the sanctions of duty to my wish to prove myself as worthy of that kindness and that esteem as possible: and if, from past folly, I have laid myself open to imputations, that may cause you to regret your bounty, and recall your good opinion, it the more behoves me to step forward in my own defence, and confessing the imprudence of which I have been guilty, to deny the charges of which I was ever innocent. You have not, I suppose, to learn, that my election at Oriel has not been confirm'd: it is probable that you have heard reports, vast and vague, of the delinquencies that have occasion'd my rejection: and, you will very likely be told, that I have confessed them all. Trusting to that charity in your Ladyship's nature, which is the offspring of hope, I will fearlessly state how far I have been faulty; and confiding in your sense of justice, I will tell you how cruelly, though perhaps unintentionally I have been slander'd.

The Fellows of Oriel form a society, of closer union, and greater esprit de corps, than any other in Oxford. Electing their Members upon general good report, and approved literary competency, they set apart the first year for Probation; which they explain to mean, not an opportunity for their new associate to approve himself worthy, but an interval in which they are to discover whether he was so at the time of his election: in short, they do not want to find what he is likely to be, but what he is, and has been. And this Probation is, to the most regular men, a very severe trial. I have heard my fellow-probationers, whose conduct has past without reproach, complain of it, tho' they were acquainted with the severity of it, before they offer'd themselves as Candidates, which I was not.

Not only is strict conduct, regular compliance with

-51-

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