Letters of Hartley Coleridge

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

LETTER 74
To MRS. CLAUDE

Surgery, Ambleside, March 21, 1841. The product of six pipes--Smale--False--I only smok'd one pipe and a precious black one.

Dear Mrs. Claude

Fell says, an undoubted and lamentable truth, that I'm a great sinner, adding as a corollary thereto that I have not written to you. Here we have general--original--sin, as the major term, and an actual sin (of omission) as the minor-- the conclusion you will draw yourself. I wish it were equally easy to remove it by confession and amendment. But sins are like wounds, which however well healed leave an unsightly cicatrice. The Man who promised that he would so unite a broken bone that the fracture should be stronger than the never- broken parts, was a Quack. But perhaps the heaviest part of my offense is, that I have not acknowledged Mrs. R. [H. M.] Rathbone's book. Now you know an establish'd mode of rebutting, is recrimination. I have nothing, indeed, to recriminate upon you; but in publishing the Sonnets written in Jane's and Louisa's Albums I must say, the Lady has somewhat exceeded her instructions.1 They were not intended for publication: and the former is so irregular in its measure and faulty in diction, that I should never--myself--have put it forth without considerable corrections. The latter is, in its way, nearly as good as I could make it, but I do not like to print things expressive of my personal feelings towards individuals, albeit those feelings may have been among the happiest and least censurable of my life. However, no great harm is done. It is only the attachment of an elderly man to a child, and I would not have you say any thing to Mrs. Rathbone about it. I wish I had appended a short note to the verses on Katey Jones, simply to say, that she is the darling of a blind grandfather, without which the drift must be obscure to those who are unacquainted with the fact. Some of her own and daughter's productions I like much. One I presume to be from the pen of her husband, which is very affecting. The selection in general is good. I could, perhaps, have given her a few extracts from Greek and Roman

____________________
1
Hartley's contributions to Mrs. H. M. Rathbone Childhood ( 1841) were: "'The Sabbath Day's Child'", "'The First Birthday'", "'Primitiae'", and "'To K. H. J.'"

-247-

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