Samuel Taylor Coleridge: A Biographical Study

By E. K. Chambers | Go to book overview

III
THE 'WATCHMAN' January 1795--May 1796

ABOUT Christmas 1794 Coleridge told Southey that he meant to walk down to Bath. He did not come, but remained in London, considering a proposal, apparently made to him through George Dyer, of tutorship to some young Erskines, relatives of the Earl of Buchan. They were probably sons of the Earl's brother, Henry Erskine, the Whig lawyer, to whom one of the Morning Chronicle sonnets had been addressed. Early in January, however, Southey came up to reclaim his stray, tracked him to the 'Angel', and shepherded him down, first to Bath, and a few days later to Bristol. Coleridge meant to return to London.1 But now Pantisocracy seems to have resumed its appeal, in spite of a modification in the scheme, suggested by Southey's Welsh friend Charles Wynn, and supported by Lovell. Wynn's idea was that, before attempting America, an experiment should be made by taking a co-operative farm in Wales. Coleridge protested that the conditions of Pantisocracy could not be realized there, and accused Southey of wrapping himself 'in the mantle of self-centring resolve', instead of reasoning. Finally, however, he gave way, America, of course, still remaining as the ultimate objective for all parties.2 It was probably now that he added to his Chatterton poem these autobiographical verses.3

Poor Chatterton! he sorrows for thy fate,
Who would have prais'd and lov'd thee, ere too late.
Poor Chatterton I farewell I of darkest hues
This chaplet cast I on thy unshaped tomb;
But dare no longer on the sad theme muse,
Lest kindred woes persuade a kindred doom:
For oh! big gall-drops, shook from Folly's wing,
Have blacken'd the fair promise of my spring;
And the stern Fate transpierc'd with viewless dart
The last pale Hope that shiver'd at my heart!

____________________
1
C.46; G.18; Rem.405.
2
C.43 (misdated), 52; Rem.406; Southey ( L.). i. 232.
3
P.W.130.

-37-

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