child, you can conceive--and yet Southey says, that the Boy keeps him in perpetual Wonderment--his Thoughts are so truly his own. He [is not] generally speaking an affectionate child, but his Dispositions are very sweet. A great Lover of Truth, and of the finest moral nicety of Feeling--. . . yet always Dreaming. . . . If God preserve his Life for me, it will be interesting to know what he will be--for it is not my opinion, or the opinion of two or three--but all who have been with him, talk of him as of a thing that cannot be forgotten. Derwent . . . is a fat large lovely Boy--in all things but his Voice very unlike Hartley--very vain, and much more fond and affectionate-- never of his Feelings so profound--in short, he is just what a sensible Father ought to wish for--a fine, healthy, strong, beautiful child, with all his senses and faculties as they ought to be-- with no chance, as to his person, of being more than a good- looking man, and as to his mind, no prospect of being more or less than a man of good sense and tolerably quick parts.'
TO DERWENT COLERIDGE, ESQRE., c/o J. Moultrie, Esqre.
[Postmark, June 24, 1823.]
Was there ever any thing like it? I have written a long and elaborate page upon half a sheet of paper, and now it's of no use at all. I can't copy it, for I would sooner eat my words than repeat them, and yet, I assure you, it was curiously penn'd, most quaintly composed of good set phrases, interspersed with sundry scraps of good counsel, very pithy and profitable. Well, it is gone--you will never look on it-- suppose it all that is admirable, and by no means judge of it by what I may now write instead thereof. I am in a very idle, whimsical, prosing, versing, preaching, punning humour, and having this present 18th of June dismissed my pupils for the midsummer holydays, I will bestow some pages of my tediousness upon thee, little as thou hast provoked such return at my hands. Thou hast most certainly discover'd that brevity is the soul of wit--never was so short a thing so long in coming as thy most tantalizing epistle. Abortive births are generally too hasty--the mightiest animals have the longest periods of gestation--but thy brain, after an elephantine pregnancy, has dropp'd the moon calf of a mouse. Howsoever, I thank thee, and receive the favour as a civil dun accepts a promissory note in hopes of something better