conduct in this kind of negotiation have, I confess to you (but never let it go further), given me occasionally a kind of suspicion of his not being perfectly sincere. At any rate when he is to outward appearance most deeply impressed with a sense of what he has done he has his wits most thoroughly about him to take advantage of any palliation or anything else in the argument which may suggest itself. In short he has a thousand and one ways, indescribable on paper, of diminishing the sorrow one should otherwise feel at so harsh a step being found necessary, and I am almost sure that as to the degradation to a lower rank of society he will not feel that at all, even if it should come upon him. I may just hint to you, I hope, that it is not proposed to leave him at once destitute, but pray let this go no further, as I do not know that I am justified in communicating it at all till the other part of the transaction is finally settled, and this cannot be till the middle of October at our statutable time of admission. How had this better be communicated to Southey? and when? and by whom? It struck me that it might be better for you to tell him as much of this letter as you think proper before he leaves London, as he might gradually prepare Mrs. Coleridge for it and perhaps begin to look out for some safer and better situation for the poor youth. Any service that I can be of to him, short of giving him a good character in the particular respects I have mentioned, would give me real pleasure, and I am determined never to despair of anyone, particularly one bearing the name of Coleridge. But if ever I was certain of any college duty, it is that of declining absolutely to make him full Fellow.
Letter from RICHARD WHATELY, Fellow of Oriel, to HARTLEY COLERIDGErelative to non-admittance to Fellowship.
[ June, 1820.]
Your letter, painful as was the subject, gave me some pleasure still interested as I am in your welfare, on account of the frame of mind described in it, whose sincerity I do not question, and whose permanence I earnestly wish for. With regard to the point in question, you seem not clearly to perceive the nature of the case, tho' I have before now endeavoured to explain it to you. There is no punishment contemplated, no sentence, no condemnation: the matter is not judicial, but purely deliberative: a man petitions to be allowed to place himself under our inspection for a year, that we may judge (not what he is likely to become, but) what he actually was at the time of election: at the end of that year we are called on to deliberate whether we were justified in that opinion of him with which we originally elected him: and if we decide in the negative, that does not imply that we judge him incurably bad, but that we