Letters of Hartley Coleridge

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

and discipline a Junior Fellow, but to enable us to find out his real character.

E. COPLESTON

Provost.


C

Excerpt from letter of JOHN KEBLE, Fellow of Oriel, to JOHN TAYLOR COLERIDGE.

June 19, 1820.

The fact is, My dear John, and I grieve to say it on your account as well as on his, that Hartley, as we have just discovered and ascertained upon unquestionable testimony, has been living in habits of such continual irregularity and frequent sottishness, with all the degrading accompaniments of low company, neglect of College duties etc., as to make it quite wrong and unfit for the College to admit him to his actual Fellowship, or to retain him on the foundation any longer. After repeated warnings (for though I have but just known of the matter, it was known it seems to Whately and a few others long ago) he has still gone back again to his old courses, promising amendment continually, with the deepest apparent humility and contrition, but without any practical good effect. In short I am convinced that he is as utterly deficient (I will not say in good principles but) in moral energy and self-control, as he is wanting in conversational tact and good sense, and though it is most painful to have to say it, I am sure we should not be doing our duty if we kept him. It would be making a mere mockery of the probationary year. You know most of us too well, my dear Coleridge, to suspect us of coming to such a determination as this upon motives of personal dislike or pique at his oddities, or upon any motives whatever, without great and serious consideration. I can truly say that as far as his manner in conversation goes, his oddities never were of a kind to disgust me, or to make me wish him out of the company. I was only amused by them. When he has been reading in chapel, or declaiming in hall, I have sometimes been annoyed by the thought of his being never likely to prove at all useful to the society in any official character, but never without completely satisfying myself with the thought of which I was verily persuaded, that his abilities (which are certainly very great and his character, which I fancied peculiarly blameless) were more than enough to counterbalance that defect. Do not think, because I write so coolly about this sad affair that I want feeling either for poor Hartley himself or for his Mother and Sister, and other relations to whom I fear this will be a great blow. He knows our purpose himself, and has known it for this week past, and fully acquiesces in the justice of our decision at the same time that he has in different ways attempted to get each of us individually to alter his own opinion. Some parts of his

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