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The room at the Vicarage, Ottery S/. Mary, Devonshire, in 
which Coleridge was born, on October 2lst, 1772. 



The West Country 

Their Friendship, Work, and 
















~^HE two friends, and brother -poets 
A William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor 
Coleridge lived with their households in Dorset 
and Somerset, during part of the years 1795-1798: 
Wordsworth at Racedown in Dorset, and after- 
wards at Alfoxden in Somerset ; Coleridge at 
Nether Stowey in the latter county. There they 
began their immortal poetic work for the world, 
both as conscious and unconscious co-operators 
in one of the greatest and most enduring of 
literary movements that Britain has known, before 
they left their native land for a short time. 

Towards the close of 1798 they both visited 
the continent of Europe, going in different 



directions and staying at various places Words- 
worth and his sister at Goslar, and Coleridge at 
Ratzeburg and Gottingen, but they were only 
absent for a few months. It is, however, to what 
they accomplished in the years they spent in the 
south-west corner of England, and also to the 
generous aid given to them by one or two sym- 
pathetic friends, that this small book is devoted. 
In it I have endeavoured to focus the exist- 
ing material, which has been dealt with more 
particularly by the late Mr. Dykes Campbell 
in his Life of Coleridge, and the notes to his 
edition of the Poems. I have not referred, except 
when quite necessary, to my own Life of Words- 
worth (1889), to the two editions of his Poems, 
viz. the Poetical Works, issued in 1882-6 by 
William Paterson, Edinburgh, and the subsequent 
Eversley edition of them, published by Messrs. 
Macmillan in 1896-7. All that I had then to say 


either as to Wordsworth or Coleridge was 
included in these volumes. 

In this one I endeavour shortly to record some 
of the more remarkable features of that move- 
ment, which arose from the heart of the Anglo- 
Saxon race, towards a new understanding, and a 
more correct appreciation, of what I have ventured 
to call "the Philosophical Undertones of Modern 
Poetry"; and which I have tried to explain orally 
to many audiences, both in England and America. 

At present I limit myself mainly to the dawn- 
ing genius of the two men who were the chief ex- 
ponents of that influence, in the poetic renaissance 
of England at the beginning of the nineteenth 
century. They had many illustrious predecessors, 
who sowed some seed in scattered places : but 
theirs is the everlasting honour of having "begun 
and continued " although happily they did not 
" end " the most remarkable revival of the ideal 



as opposed to the prosaic actual, in the poetic 
work of Britain. 

I may add that Chapter I, which deals with 
" the first meeting of Wordsworth and Coleridge," 
was contributed to The Academy of May 2oth, 
1905 ; and that Dorothy Wordsworth's Alfoxden 
Journal was published in the Eversley edition 
of her brother's works, in the year 1897. 

Perhaps most readers of this book will be 
chiefly interested in the record of that marvellous 
friendship, which began at Racedown and de- 
veloped at Alfoxden, between William and Dorothy 
Wordsworth ; a friendship of brother and sister 
which has, me judice, no parallel in the recorded 
literary history of the world. Where else is there 
the record of a tie so intense, so disinterested, so 
mutually helpful unbroken by a single domestic 
incident or accident so full of restful solace 
and inspiring stimulus, with an indebtedness the 


one to the other, that was scarcely a conscious 
possession, but a permanently abiding treasure ? 
Their contemporaries Charles and Mary 
Lamb, with Henrietta and Ernest Renan are the 
only ones that approach them ; but they follow 
at a very easily measurable distance. 

W. K. 


The Cottage at Clevedon, in which Coleridge and his wife 
began their married life. 






YEAR 1795, AND AFTER . . 1 8 









STOWEY . ... 101 

TEN AT ALFOXDEN IN 1798 . .126 




OTHER POEMS. . . .160 




AT ALFOXDEN . . . 209 

RIDGE . . . 221 


IN SOMERSET . . 227 



[ xiv 



OTTERY ST. MARY . . Frontispiece 

Drawn from a photograph borrowed by Mr. Elkin 
Mathews from Mrs. Wilson, the daughter of a late 
Chaplain Priest of the parish, showing the outside of the 
room in which S. T. C. was born. 





No. 54 COLLEGE STREET, BRISTOL, 1906 . . 13 

RACEDOWN . . . . . 19 


The chief street of the village. Thomas Poole's house 
is the last but one on the right-hand side. 


As it was before the Nineteenth Century alterations. 
Drawn under the direction of Mr. M. J. Moore, who lived 
there as a boy, and described it to the artist in detail. 



List of Illustrations 






PORLOCK BAY . . . .161 

MINEHEAD BAY . . . . 179 

KILVE . . ... 208 





Coleridge and Wordsworth 
in the West Country 


Coleridge and Wordsworth 
in the West Country 



IT seems strange that a doubt should still 
exist as to the exact date, and place of 
the first meeting of these poets ; whether 
it occurred at Racedown or at Bristol (for 
nowhere else could it have happened) ; and, 
if it was in the latter, where and when in 
that city it took place. Much has been 
surmised, and a good deal written on the 
subject : but neither point has as yet been 
determined with accuracy. 

In T'he Life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge by 


Coleridge and Wordsworth 

James Gillman (Vol. I, p. 74), the writer 
says : 

" Some years since the late Charles 
Mathews, the comedian (or rather, as Cole- 
ridge used to observe, 'the comic poet acting 
his own poems'), showed me an autograph 
letter from Mr. Wordsworth to Mathews' 
brother, who was at that time educating for 
the Bar, and with whom he corresponded. 
In this letter he made the following obser- 
vation : ' To-morrow I am going to Bristol 
to see those two extraordinary young men, 
Southey and Coleridge.' ' 

Gillman does not give the date of this 
letter, and his story contains several in- 
accuracies ; for he goes on to say, "Mr. 
Wordsworth was then residing at Alfoxden," 
whereas when he first met Coleridge, and 
for nearly two years afterwards, he was 
the tenant of Racedown. If the letter 
of Wordsworth to his friend Mathews was 
extant and accessible, the difficulty could be 


Their First ^Meeting 

cleared up at once ; but all that we can 
gather from this extract is the fact that he 
went to Bristol from Racedown, on a par- 
ticular day, to see both Southey and Cole- 
ridge, presumably to see them together, 
and that these two "extraordinary young 
men " were already acquainted. Cole- 
ridge's own statements on the subject are 
ambiguous, and in later years his memory 
failed him.; so that it is impossible to say 
whether, in what he then wrote, he refers 
to a first interview, or to the beginning of 
intimacy and friendship. 

Fortunately we have two more explicit 
witness-bearers, viz. Mrs. Wordsworth and 
Sara Coleridge, (i) On November 7, 1845, 
Mrs. Wordsworth wrote to Sara Coleridge, 
the daughter of S. T. C., as follows : 

" With my husband's tender love to you, 
he bids me say in reply to a question you 
have put to him through Miss Fenwick 
that he has not as distinct a remembrance as 

[ 5 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

he could wish of the time when he first saw 
your father, and your uncle Southey ; but 
the impression upon his mind is that he first 
saw them both, and your mother and aunt 
Edith at the same time, in a lodging in 
Bristol. This must have been about the 
year 1795. Your father, he says, came 
afterwards to see us at Racedown, where I 
was then living with my sister. We have 
both a distinct remembrance of his arrival. 
He did not keep to the high road, but leapt 
over a gate, and bounded down a pathless 
field by which he cut off an angle. We 
both retain the liveliest possible image of 
his appearance at that moment. 

" Most affectionately yours, 


(2) Mrs. Henry Nelson Coleridge the 
same daughter Sara in the biographical 
supplement to the Eiographia Liter aria 
(1847), Vl- U> PP- 345~6, writes : 

" The whole spring and summer of this 


Their First ^Meeting 

year (1795), he, i.e. her father, devoted to 
public lectures at Bristol, making in the 
intervals several excursions in Somersetshire, 
one memorial of which remains in the 
Lines composed while climbing Brockley Coomb 
(May, 1795). It was in one of these 
excursions that Mr. Coleridge and Mr. 
Wordsworth first met, at the house of Mr. 

This statement would doubtless be made 
on the authority of her mother, Mrs. Samuel 
Taylor Coleridge. Now we know, from 
Dorothy Wordsworth's letter to Mrs. Mar- 
shall, of September 2, 1795, that she and 
her brother were with the Pinneys at Bristol 
about the end of August, 1795, previous to 
their receiving the loan of the farmhouse 
at Racedown. Coleridge's Lines written at 
Clevedon are dated August 20, 1795. He 
was married in October, 1795 ; and, if 
Wordsworth came in from Racedown to 
Bristol to see him and Southey (as he tells 


Coleridge and Wordsworth 

us he did), and if Mrs. Wordsworth was 
correct in reporting her husband's recollec- 
tion of meeting the two young Bristol poets, 
and the two Miss Prickers whom they 
married, at the same time in the same house ; 
and if, in addition, Sara Coleridge is correct 
in her report that her father and Coleridge 
first met in Mr. Pinney's house, it is almost 
proved that the meeting took place, not 
during a country excursion out of Bristol 
(as her daughter Sara suggests), but in the 
city itself, and in the early autumn, viz. 
August or September, of the year 1795. 

I have only recently found out where 
Mr. Pinney's house in Bristol was, and now 
is ; for it is still standing. It is a large, 
commodious, eighteenth-century mansion, 
No. 7 Great George Street, Brandon Hill, 
Clifton. Wordsworth could not possibly 
have invented a meeting with Coleridge and 
Southey, and the two Miss Frickers, in the 
lodgings which the poets then occupied in 
25 College Street. And as we know that it 


Their First ^Meeting 

took place in the autumn of 179 5, before Cole- 
ridge's wedding in October, we are almost 
shut up to the conclusion that the meeting 
took place in Mr. Pinney's house in Great 
George Street. 

I have obtained the following informa- 
tion, gathered from the title-deeds of 
the present owner of the property. In 
the year 1788 John Pinney built 7 Great 
George Street on part of the land known as 
Boar's Head Ground and Bullock Park. In 
1817 John Pinney gave the house to Charles 
Pinney. By a marriage settlement, March 6, 
1831, Charles Pinney settled the house on 
his wife; and in 1861 Charles Pinney and 
his trustees sold it to the present owners. 
It is a substantial house, solidly built. 

There it was, in the house immediately 
opposite the steps leading up to the southern 
entrance to St. George's Church on Brandon 
Hill, that the three men Wordsworth, 
Coleridge, and Southey first met ; and 
thereafter, Wordsworth paid a return call 


Coleridge and Wordsworth 

at the lodging of Coleridge and Southey in 
College Street. Another item of evidence 
may be gathered from S. T. C.'s poem, 
Lines written at Shurton Bars, near Bridg- 
water, which was dated "September, 1795, 
in answer to a letter from Bristol." It is 
evidently addressed to his fiancee, Sarah 
Fricker ; and it contains the first printed 
reference to Wordsworth which Coleridge 
made. He mentions the glowworm, moving 
with "green radiance" through the grass, 
and in a footnote tells us that the phrase is 
" borrowed from Mr. Wordsworth, a poet 
whose versification is occasionally harsh, 
and his diction too frequently obscure ; but 
whom I deem unrivalled among the writers 
of the present day in manly sentiment, 
novel imagery, and vivid colouring." The 
only poems at that time published by 
Wordsworth were An Evening Walk and 
Descriptive Sketches. Little could Coleridge 
then forecast their joint literary work- 
manship in the Lyrical 'Ballads. But 

[ 10] 

Their First ^Meeting 

the above note was probably written in 
1795, when the Lines were composed, and 
it was certainly published in April, 1796. 
The house in College Street, where Cole- 
ridge and Southey lived together, was then 
numbered 48. It is now No. 54, is built 
of stone, has a single shop-window and 
door, but no shop on the ground floor. It 
has two windows on each side of the upper 
stories, and of the attic. It is in a street of 
some eighty modest, well-built, eighteenth- 
century houses ; most of them of brick, but 
some of ashlar free-stone, all three stories 
high. No. 54 is now marked by a tablet 
with the inscription, " Samuel Taylor Cole- 
ridge, Poet, lived here, 1794." 

It may be of use to mention the places in 
which Coleridge lived during these eventful 
years, with approximate dates. In the sum- 
mer of 1794, at the close of a pedestrian 
tour in Wales, he reached Bristol ; and walked 
thence with Southey into Somerset, to see 

[ ii J 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

their common friend Burnett at his father's 
house, and discuss the recently formed 
scheme of Pantisocracy and emigration to 
America. On August 18 he met Thomas 
Poole at Nether Stowey ; and, returning to 
Southey's mother's house at Bath, met and 
became engaged to Sarah Fricker, to whose 
sister, Edith, Southey became engaged. He 
stayed thereafter at Bristol for several weeks, 
writing and lecturing ; then went to Cam- 
bridge, which he left for London in Decem- 
ber. Early in January, 1795, Southey went 
up to London, and brought him back to 
48 College Street, Bristol, where he (Southey) 
lodged with Burnett ; and there Coleridge 
remained with Southey, sharing rooms with 
his two friends, writing and lecturing till 
summer. Then they separated, Southey re- 
turning to Bath, and Coleridge going alone 
into rooms at 25 College Street, a house 
which no longer exists. In September he 
went down to Nether Stowey to visit Poole. 
Returning to Bristol, he was married to 

Their First ^Meeting 

Sarah Fricker, in the church of St. Mary 
Redcliffe, on October 4, 1795, and at once 
settled in a cottage at Clevedon. This he 
soon found too far from the Bristol library, 
and removed to rooms on Redcliffe Hill. In 
February, 1796, he went to Nether Stowey 
to visit Thomas Poole ; but returned to 
Bristol, to a house at Kingsdown. Thence 
they went to reside in Nether Stowey, on 
December 31, 1796, where they stayed till 
1 800. A narrow pathway communicated with 
Poole's garden. There was no quiet possible, 
and there were almost always visitors. Poole's 
library was near, and the "jasmine arbour" 
close at hand. Yet here Coleridge's finest 
poetic work was done ; and hither came 
the Wordsworths, Charles Lamb, Hazlitt, 
Thelwall, and others. 

During the same period of their early 
genius Wordsworth was at Racedown, 
arriving with his sister in October, 1795 ; 
where he began his tragedy of The 
^Borderers, and also the Ruined Cottage. In 

[ -5 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

1796 when S. T. C. published his Poems, 
and Southey his Joan of Arc Wordsworth 
finished his tragedy, and began to write 
lyrics. Coleridge went out to see him 
at Racedown on June 16, 1796, again 
on the a8th, and on July 2 ; returning on 
that day to Stowey with the Wordsworths, 
who remained there a fortnight, before they 
settled at Alfoxden. 

It should be mentioned that both the 
Racedown farmhouse and the Nether 
Stowey cottage are still very much as they 
were at the close of the eighteenth century : 
Racedown entirely so, with the exception 
of a porch ; and Stowey with the addition 
of an ugly projecting wing on the right-hand 
side of the old cottage. Racedown still 
belongs to the Pinney family, and their tenant 
is glad to show the house and grounds to 
visitors. The Rev. William Greswell late 
of Dodington Rectory, Bridgwater did 
much for the Stowey cottage, and charged 
himself with its upkeep ; but it is greatly to 
[ 16] 

Their First Meeting 

be desired that the room in which The 
Ancient Mariner, and Christabel, Kubla Khan, 
Frost at Midnight, Fears in Solitude, and many 
another lovely lyric were either written 
or revised, should become the property of 
the nation, as Dove Cottage at Grasmere 
is. Or, if local effort can start a public 
library for the village, some generous donor 
who is a lover of the poets, as well as a 
friend of the people might surely be found 
to purchase the cottage and its garden, take 
down the ugly annexe, and build a room 
behind to hold the books, the librarian and 
the caretaker living in the historic ones. 

I may add that much light is cast on 
these days, places, and persons by the Letters 
of the Wordsworth Family, issued by Messrs. 
Ginn and Co., Boston, U.S.A. 

Since the second last paragraph was written, 
the Stowey Cottage has been bought, and 
secured for the Nation in Perpetuity. 



WHERE Wordsworth spent the entire 
summer of 1795 is not now know- 
able in detail. Early in that year he was 
at Penrith, and he probably accompanied 
his sister thence to Halifax. He afterwards 
travelled up to London, where part of the 
autumn was spent. Thereafter, he went 
down to Bristol, on a visit to Mr. Pinney, 
a rich merchant there, who had also a 
residence at Racedown, in Dorset, which 
became Wordsworth's abode towards the 
close of the year. 

What led him to make Racedown his 
first home in England is told us in one of 
his sister's letters to her friend, Jane Pollard, 
who was married on the 5th of August to 

[ 18] 

///(/vir'.'i'.'-.'-.'.V.V.X'.'V-.V^'".'.^ ; 

,: :.-...?// ;... -7 i ..)/'. ;;-'-'''-- 
-- .--. .-'^ 

Wordsworth at Race down 

Mr. John Marshall, of Leeds. Mrs. Mar- 
shall's brother had gone to Bristol to visit 
Mr. Pinney, who had handed over the 
country house at Racedown to his son ; and 
the son offered it furnished and rent-free, 
with garden and orchard-ground attached 
to Wordsworth, on the sole condition that 
its owner should come down occasionally 
and stay for a few weeks when he desired a 
change of air or scene. Mr. Montagu 
Wordsworth's friend then wished him to 
take charge of his boy Basil, offering 50 
a year for his board ; and Wordsworth ex- 
pected to have Mr. Pinney 's son (aged 
thirteen) as a second pupil ; while Dorothy 
was asked to superintend and teach a cousin's 
child, three and a half years of age. 

The following is an extract from Dorothy 
Wordsworth's letter to Miss Pollard : 

" MILLHOUS.E, September 2, 1795. 

"... I am going to live in Dorsetshire. 
You know the pleasure I have always attached 
[ 21 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 


to the idea of home a blessing I so early 
lost. I think I told you that Mr. Montagu 
had a little boy, who, as you will perceive, 
could not be very well taken care of, either 
in his father's chambers, or under the un- 
certain management of various friends of 
Mr. M., with whom he has frequently 
stayed. ... A daughter of Mr. Tom 
Myers, a cousin of mine, is coming over to 
England by the first ship, which is expected 
in about a week, to be educated. She is, I 
believe, about three or four years old ; and 
T. Myers' brother, who has charge of her, 
has suggested that I should take her under 
my care. With these two children, and 
the produce of Raisley Calvert's legacy, we 
shall have an income of at least jQjo or 
;8o per annum. William finds that he 
can get nine per cent for the money upon 
the best security. He means to sink half 
of it upon my life, which will make me 
always comfortable and independent. . . . 
Living in the unsettled way in which my 

[22 ] 

Wordsworth at Racedown 

brother has hitherto lived in London is 
always unfavourable to mental exertion. 
. . . He has had the offer of ten guineas 
for a work which has not taken up much 
time ; and half the profits of a second edition, 
if it should be called for. It is a little sum, 
but it is one step. ... I am determined to 
work with resolution. ... It will greatly 
contribute to my happiness, and place me in 
such a situation that I shall be doing some- 
thing. ... I shall have to join William at 
Bristol, and proceed thence in a chaise with 
Basil to Racedown. It is fifty miles." 

In this Racedown house half-way be- 
tween Crewkerne in Somerset, and Lyme 
in Dorset Wordsworth began what was to 
continue till his death to be the one supreme 
aim and object of his life. 

The following is a description of the 
house, as seen in the summer of 1887. 

" We approached the old farmhouse, over 
meadows bright with yellow iris and purple 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

foxglove, through lanes lined on either side 
with fern, and hung with honeysuckle and 
wild rose. Large beech trees shade the 
entrance-gate ; the house, and its clustering 
farm buildings, stand on the slope of Black- 
down ; open grass fields surround them. 
From the terrace-garden on the western 
side of the house, wide views of hill and 
valley are obtained. Below, in meadows 
famous for daffodils, winds Cindreford 
brook. The hollow is well wooded, the 
remains of an avenue of Scots firs being 
a prominent feature. On the opposite side 
of the valley rises Greggy, with quaint 
clumps of fir trees on the ridge of the hill. 
Beyond, a glimpse of Lambert's Castle is 
to be had, and of another hill locally 
known as Golden Cap, from the brilliance 
of the gorse when in bloom, which is said 
to serve as a beacon to ships. The sea 
itself is visible from the top of the house, 
and its reviving breezes may be felt in the 
garden. The house, built of dull red brick, 

[ Ml 

Wordsworth at Racedown 

covered in front with grey stucco and much 
weather-stained, is three stories high ; but 
has no beauty beyond that of situation and 
association. A porch, recently added, opens 
into a fairly wide and airy hall, with an old- 
fashioned staircase. The room on the right 
hand, looking out to the grass fields in front 
and to the large beeches at the entrance- 
gate, is the one which Wordsworth occu- 
pied. It is square and low, with two deep 
recesses, and a highly ornamented plaster 
ceiling. A small room over the hall is said 
to have been used by the poet as a study." 

In this farmhouse, well stocked with 
books, William and Dorothy Wordsworth 
began their life of closely associated labour 
They spent their time industriously in read- 
ing " if reading," Wordsworth wrote to 
his friend William Mathews, 1 " can ever de- 
serve the name of industry" in writing and 
in gardening. Wordsworth told Mathews 
that he had begun to read Ariosto with his 

1 March 21, 1796. 

[ 25] 

Coleridge and JVordsworth 

sister ; and she, writing to Mrs. Marshall, 
said that her brother " handled the spade 
with great dexterity." The post brought 
them letters only once a week, and they 
had no society to distract them. Never- 
theless, four years later after they had ex- 
perience of Alfoxden and of Germany 
Dorothy wrote of Racedown as the place 
dearest to her recollections upon the whole 
surface of the island ; it was the first home 
she had ; and she described " the lovely 
meadows above the tops of the coombs, 
and the scenery on Pilsden, Lewisden, and 
Blackdown Hill, with the view of the sea 
from Lambert's Castle." 

It is somewhat strange that the first literary 
venture which Wordsworth attempted at 
Racedown was to make experimental essays 
in both Satire and Tragedy, the two kinds 
of poetical composition in which, of all 
others, he was least fitted to excel. To his 
friend William Mathews, he wrote : " Not 
entirely to forget the world, I season my 


Wordsworth at Racedown 

recollection of some of its objects with a 
little ill-nature. I attempt to write satires : 
and in all satires, whatever the authors may 
say, there will be found a spice of malignity. 
Neither Juvenal nor Horace were without 
it ; and what shall we say of Boileau and 
Pope ? " 

He sent his imitations of Juvenal to his 
friend Wrangham in November, 1795, and 
on the 2Oth of that month he wrote : 

" Soon after I left you, I completed some- 
thing like an imitation, though extremely 
periphrastic, from Juvenal. I will transcribe 
it for you to correct, in some future letter. 
In the meantime, the following verses are 
at your service to insert in the poem, if 
you think them worth it. There is not a 
syllable correspondent to them in Juvenal." 

He first quotes twenty-eight lines, and then 
adds : 

" The two last verses of this extract were 


Coleridge and Wordsworth 

given me by Southey, a friend of Coleridge." 
He continues : " I have said nothing of 
Racedown. It is an excellent house, and 
the country far from unpleasant ; but, as 
for society, we must manufacture it our- 
selves. Will you come, and help us ? We 
expect Montagu at Christmas, and would 
be very glad if you could come along with 
him. Have you any interest with the book- 
sellers ? I have a poem which I wish to 
dispose of, provided I could get anything for 
it. I recollect reading the first draught of 
it to you in London. But since I came 
to Racedown I have made alterations and 
additions so material that it may be looked 
on almost as another work." He refers to 
his verses on " Guilt and Sorrow." 

On the 3oth of November, 1795, Dorothy 
wrote to Mrs. Marshall : 

" I never more fully intended anything in 
my life than to write to you very soon after 
my arrival at Racedown. . . . We are now 

[ 28] 

Wordsworth at Racedown 

surrounded with winter prospects without 
doors, and within have only winter occupa- 
tions books, solitude, and the fireside ; yet, 
I may safely say, we are never dull. Basil 
is a charming boy ; he affords us perpetual 
entertainment. Do not suppose from this 
that we make him our perpetual plaything : 
far otherwise. I think that is one of the 
modes of treatment most likely to ruin a 
child's temper and character ; but I do not 
think there is any pleasure more delightful 
than that of marking the development of 
a child's faculties, and observing his little 

" We found everything at Racedown 
much more complete with respect to house- 
hold conveniences than I expected. You 
may judge of this when I tell you that we 
have not had to lay out ten shillings on the 
house. We were a whole month without 
a servant, but now we have got one of the 
nicest girls I ever saw. She suits us exactly, 
and I have all my domestic concerns so 

[ 29 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

arranged that everything goes on with the 
utmost regularity. . . . We walk about two 
hours every morning. We have many very 
pleasant roads about us ; and, what is a great 
advantage, they are of a sandy soil, and 
almost always dry. We can see the sea, if 
we go two hundred yards from the door ; 
and, at a little distance, we have a very 
extensive view terminated by the sea, seen 
through different openings of the unequal 
hills. We have not the warmth and 
luxuriance of Devonshire, although there 
is no want either of wood or cultivation ; 
but the trees appear to suffer from the sea- 
blasts. We have hills, which seen from 
a distance almost take the character of 
mountains ; some cultivated nearly to their 
summits, others in a wild state covered with 
furze and broom. These delight me the 
most, as they remind me of our native 

"Our common parlour is the prettiest little 
room that can be, with very good furniture, 

H^ordsworth at Race down 

a huge box on each side of the fire, a marble 
chimney-piece, with stove and an oil-cloth 
for the floor. The other parlour is rather 
larger, has a good carpet, has sideboards in 
the recesses on each side of the fire, and has, 
upon the whole, a better appearance ; but we 
do not like it half so well as our little break- 

" A little brook which runs at the distance 
of one field divides us from Devonshire. . . ." 
[She added that the peasants were miserably 
poor; theircottages being u shapeless structures 
of wood and clay," " not at all beyond what 
might be expected in savage life." 

" Mr. Montagu intended being with us a 
month ago, but we have not seen him yet. 
I have the satisfaction of thinking that he 
will see great improvements in Basil." 

On the i gth March, 1796, Dorothy 
wrote again to Mrs. Marshall : 

" RACEDOWN, Sunday night. 
11 You ask to be informed of our system . . . 

[ 3* ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

respecting Basil. It is a very simple one, so 
simple that, in this age of systems, you will 
hardly be likely to follow it. We teach 
him nothing at present, but what he learns 
from the evidence of his senses. He has an 
insatiable curiosity, which we are always 
careful to satisfy. It is directed to every- 
thing. . . . Mary Hutchinson " (afterwards 
Mrs. Wordsworth) " is staying with us. 
She is one of the best girls in the world, and 
we are as happy as human beings can be, 
that is, when William is at home : for you 
cannot imagine how dull we feel when he 
is away. He is the life of the whole 

Before this (on February i, 1796), she 
had written to Mrs. Marshall, giving an 
account of the Pinneys' visit, thus : 

" The Pinneys have been with us five 
weeks, one week at Christmas, and a month 
since. They left us yesterday. We all 
enjoyed ourselves very much. They seemed 

[ 3' ] 

Wordsworth at Race down 

to relish the pleasures of our fireside in the 
evening, and the excursion of the morning. 
They are very amiable young men, particu- 
larly the elder. He is two-and-twenty, has 
a charming countenance, and the sweetest 
temper I ever observed. He has travelled a 
good deal in the way of education, been at 
one of the great schools, and at Oxford, and 
has always had plenty of money to spend. 
This, instead of having spoiled him, or made 
him conceited, has wrought the pleasantest 
effects. He is well informed, has an un- 
commonly good heart, and is very agreeable 
in conversation. He has no profession. 
His brother has been brought up a mer- 
chant. . . . When the weather was fine, 
they were out generally all the morning, 
walking sometimes. Then I went with 
them frequently, riding sometimes, hunting, 
coursing, and clearing wood," which she 
adds, " is a very desirable employment, and 
what all housekeepers would do well to 
recommend to the young men of their 

D E 33 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

household, in such a cold country as this ; 
for it produces warmth both without and 
within doors. We have had snow upon the 
ground this week past. Had we not seen 
this sight we should have been almost un- 
conscious that we had lived our winter in 
the country. We have had the mildest 
weather I ever remember. Till within the 
last week, we have never wished for a larger 
fire than prudent people might think them- 
selves authorized to have in a country where 
coals are expensive. 

" I have not spoken of Basil yet. He is 
my perpetual pleasure, quite metamorphosed 
from a shivering, half-starved plant to a lusty, 
blooming, fearless boy. He dreads neither 
cold nor rain. He has played frequently 
for an hour or two, without appearing 
sensible that the rain was pouring down 
upon him, or the wind blowing about him. 
. . . Our life affords little incident for 
letters. We had our neighbours to dine, 
while our friends the Pinneys were with 


Wordsworth at Racedown 

us. ... William is going to publish a 
poem. 1 The Pinneys have taken it to the 
booksellers. I am studying my Italian very 
hard. . . ." 

A little later in the year, Wordsworth 
wrote to his friend Mathews : " I am going 
to Bristol to-morrow, to see those two ex- 
traordinary young men, Coleridge and 
Southey." At this period dates are some- 
what difficult to determine. Correspondents 
did not always date their letters ; and, when 
they did, their entries were often erroneous, 
and many of those they gave are now per- 
plexing. So late as November, 1845, four 
and a half years before his death, Words- 
worth said to Sara Coleridge that her father 
came to see them at Racedown in 1795 ; 
and Dorothy wrote to a friend in 1797: 
" You had a great loss in not seeing Coleridge. 
He is a wonderful man. His conversation 
teems with soul, mind, and spirit. At first 
I thought him very plain, that is for about 

1 Most probably The Borderers. 


Coleridge and Wordsworth 

three minutes. He is pale, thin, has a wide 
mouth, thick lips, not very good teeth, 
longish, loose-growing, half-curling, rough 
black hair. But, if you hear him speak for 
five minutes, you think no more of them. 
His eye is large and full, and not very dark, 
but grey, such an eye as would receive from 
a heavy soul the dullest expression ; but it 
speaks every emotion of his animated mind. 
It has more of the poet's eye, in a fine 
frenzy rolling, than I ever witnessed. He 
has fine dark eyebrows, and an overhanging 

"The first thing that was read after he 
came was William's new poem The Ruined 
Cottage? with which he was much de- 
lighted; and, after tea, he repeated to us two 
acts and a half of his tragedy, Osorio. The 
next morning William read his tragedy, The 

It was fortunate, both for the brother and 
the sister, that this Racedown farmhouse 
1 Afterwards part of The Excursion. 

Wordsworth at Racedown 

was at the time of their entrance " well 
stocked with books." 

During the autumn of 1795, the winter 
of 1795-6, and the summer of 1797, he 
finished his one tragedy, The Borderers. 
It is extremely probable, as his nephew and 
biographer suggests, that the subject occurred 
to him when he lived at Penrith, or visited 
Keswick where many ruined castles carry 
us back to the period of the drama, viz. the 
reign of Henry III and Wordsworth him- 
self tells us that he read Redpath's History of 
the *Borders^ in order that he might under- 
stand the local historical allusions. 

It is even more noteworthy that during 
that ever memorable time at Racedown, his 
sister's influence over the poet developed in 
many ways. As he wrote afterwards at 
Grasmere : 

She gave me eyes, she gave me ears. 

He said that before they came to live 
together : 

[ 37] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

I too exclusively esteemed that love, 
And sought that beauty, which (as Milton says) 
Hath terror in it. Thou didst soften down 
This over-sternness. 

He wrote that, but for his sister's in- 
fluence, the self-confidence of his nature 
would have kept him like 

A rock with torrents roaring, with the clouds 
Familiar, and a favourite of the stars : 
But thou didst plant its crevices with flowers, 
Hang it with shrubs that twinkle in the breeze, 
And teach the little birds to build their nests 
And warble in its chambers. 1 

More than this. In the autobiographic 
analysis of himself, and of the state of mind 
he passed through when in France, and 
after his return to England which he 
narrates in the eleventh book of The Prelude 
in the period of unsettlement which 
followed, when the scrutinizing intellect was 
at work and he lost all sense of conviction, 
giving up for a time every moral problem in 
despair, and was on the verge of becoming 
like " the Solitary," whom he afterwards de- 
1 The Prelude, Book XIV, 11. 251-256. 


Wordsworth at Racedown 

scribed in The Excursion then it was 
that, travelling together on foot through 
Yorkshire dales and Cumbrian valleys, his 
sister corrected his despondency, brought him 
back from what was almost misanthropy, 

and as he put it- 
Maintained for me a saving intercourse 
With my true self; . . . 

She whispered still that brightness would return j 
She in the midst of all, preserved me still 
A poet, made me seek beneath that name, 
And that alone, my office upon earth. 1 

Elsewhere he writes of her : 

Her voice was like a hidden brook that sang ; 
The thought of her was like a flash of light, 
Or an unseen companionship. 2 

Again : 

Birds in the bower, and lambs in the green field, 
Could they have known her, would have loved ; 


Her very presence such a sweetness breathed, 
That flowers, and trees, and even the silent hills, 

1 The Prelude, Book XI, 11. 341-348. 
* The Recluse, Book I, Part I, 11. 91-93. 


Coleridge and Wordsworth 

And everything she looked on should have had 
An intimation how she bore herself 
Towards them and to all creatures. 1 

It was all a process of gradual develop- 
ment. Nothing in Wordsworth's life was 
abrupt. He learned by slow degrees that 
"peace settles where the intellect is meek"; 
and the renewed influence of Nature's voice, 
along with that of his sister's, 

led him back through opening day 
To those sweet counsels between head and heart 
Whence grew that genuine knowledge, fraught with 
peace. ' 

No poet in the world's history was ever 
so happy as Wordsworth was, in the un- 
selfish and continuous ministry of a devoted 
sister. Nay, from Chaucer downwards, we 
find none in the annals of English literature 
who was so fortunate in the service rendered 
by all the women who surrounded him. 

This rare devotion, however with all its 
unselfish tenderness could not have done 

1 The Prelude, Book XII, 11. 165-171. 

2 The Prelude, Book XI, 11. 352-354. 


Wordsworth at Racedown 

so much for Wordsworth as it did, had it not 
been accompanied by that wonderful insight 
which Dorothy possessed. She had quite 
as clear and delicate a perception of the 
rarer beauties of Nature, which the common 
eye never sees, as her brother had. Super- 
abundant evidence of this will be found in 
the Journals which she wrote at Alfoxden, 
and afterwards at Grasmere. They disclose 
an intellectual second-sight, and a knowledge 
born of love, which made both the brother 
and the sister poets. It was her insight and 
her service combined that made her so in- 
valuable a companion to Wordsworth. 

L 4 1 ] 



/COLERIDGE'S correspondence with 
\-^ Thomas Poole, before he settled at 
Stowey in December, 1796, and while 
negotiations were proceeding for the acquisi- 
tion of the " wayside cottage " there, cannot 
be reproduced in full. It can scarcely even 
be summarized in this book ; but one of 
the letters (December 1 1) in which he tried 
to meet Poole's objections to his taking the 
cottage, has an autobiographic value. In 
it he wrote : " I mean to work very hard, 
as cook, butler, scullion, shoe-cleaner, 
occasional nurse, gardener, hind, pig-pro- 
tector, chaplain, secretary, poet, reviewer, 
and omnium-botherum shilling-scavenger. . . ." 
" If I live at Stowey, you indeed can serve 

[42 ] 

Coleridgfs Arrival at Stowey 

me effectually by assisting me in the acquire- 
ment of agricultural practice. If you can 
instruct me to manage an acre and a half of 
land, and to raise on it (with my own 
hands) all kinds of vegetables and grain, 
enough for myself and my wife, and sufficient 
to feed a pig or two, you will have served 
me most effectually, by placing me out of the 
necessity of being served. ... In the name 
of Heaven, what can Cottle or Estlin do for 
me ? They do nothing who do not teach 
me to be independent of any except the 
Almighty Dispenser of Sickness and Health. 
. . . My habits and feelings have suffered a 
total alteration. I hate company, except 
that of my dearest friends, and systematically 
avoid it, and when in it keep silence, so far 
as social humanity will permit me. Lloyd's 
father inquired how I should live without 
any companions ? I answered him : ' I shall 
have six companions : my Sara, my babe, 
my own shaping and disquisitive mind, my 
books, my beloved friend Thomas Poole, 

[45 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

and lastly Nature, gazing at me in a 
thousand looks of Beauty, and speaking to 
me with a thousand melodies of Love. If 
I were capable of being tired with all 
these, I should then detect a vice in my 
nature, and would fly to habitual solitude to 
eradicate it.' My objects (assuredly wise 
ones) are to learn agriculture (and where 
should I get instruction except at Stowey ?) 
and to be where I can communicate in a 
literary way. God bless you, and . . . 


This was his first letter. In the evening 
he wrote a second (endorsed December 12, 
1796), which he continued on the 1 3th : 
"... I heard from Birmingham that Lloyd's 
father should insist on his son's returning 
to him at the close of one twelvemonth. 
What am I to do then ? I shall be again 
afloat on the wide sea, unpiloted and un- 
provisioned. I determined to devote my 
whole day to the acquirement of practical 

Coleridge's Arrival at Stowey 

horticulture, to part with Lloyd imme- 
diately, and live without a servant. . . . 

" If Charles Lloyd and the servant were 
with me, I must have bought new furniture 
to the amount of ^40 or ^50, which, if not 
impossibility in person, was impossibility's 
first cousin. We determined to live by 
ourselves. We arranged our time, money, 
and employment. We found it not only 
practicable, but easy. . . . With only two 
rooms, and two people their wants severely 
simple there can be no great labour in 
their waiting upon themselves. I should 
have devoted my whole head, heart, and 
body to my acre and a half of garden-land, 
and my evenings to Literature. What had 
I to ask of my friends ? Not money, not their 
interest. I can accept no place in State, 
Church, or dissenting Meeting. Nothing 
remains possible but a School, or Writer 
to a newspaper, or my present plan. I 
could not love the man who advised me to 
keep a school, or write for a newspaper. 


Coleridge and IVordsworth 

. . . To pass across my garden once or twice 
a day for five minutes, to set me right and 
cheer me with the sight of a friend's face, 
would be more to me than hundreds. . . . 
But Literature, though I shall never abandon 
it, will always be a secondary object with 
me ; and I would rather be an expert, 
self-maintaining gardener, than a Milton, if 
I could not unite both. . . ." 

A few days afterwards he wrote to John 
Thelwall : " I am not fit for public life : yet 
the light shall stream to a far distance from 
the taper in my cottage window." 

On the 3oth of December, 1796, Cole- 
ridge left Bristol with his wife and child, to 
live in the humble cottage at Nether Stowey, 
which soon afterwards became closely asso- 
ciated with his "poetic prime." 

The first literary thing he did, after his 
arrival at that cottage-home, was to add 
to the poems he had already written, 
and which had been published by Cottle ; 
and to plan out a second edition, for which 

[48 ] 

Coleridgis Arrival at Stowey 

he had begun to prepare in the year 

Cottle offered him twenty guineas for an 
edition of five hundred copies of that volume ; 
but there seems to have been much delay in 
the printing of it, as it was not completed 
till March, 1797, when Coleridge wrote to 
Cottle that Charles Lloyd had given him 
ten of his poems to be included in the book, 
and that he would hand them over to be 
printed, after Charles Lamb's poems were 
inserted. It is clear from this that Cole- 
ridge wished that there should be a sort of 
tripartite authorship. 

There is little to record as to the early 
months of Coleridge's settlement at Stowey ; 
and, in fact, until Wordsworth's arrival, he 
led a disturbed and somewhat distracted 
life. Sheridan asked him to write a play 
for the Drury Lane Theatre ; and he worked 
on it at desultory intervals during the 
autumn, until in the October of that year 
he sent in the MS. of Osorio. Meanwhile, 

E [ 49 1 

Coleridge and JVordsworth 

he was carrying on much self-imposed, un- 
toward, unremunerative, and resultless work, 
by preaching in Unitarian chapels near 
at hand at Bridgwater and Taunton 
without any arrangement or offer of re- 

The most helpful thing that befell and 
befriended him, during these early months at 
Stowey, was the free access which he had at 
all times to the excellent library of Thomas 
Poole close at hand, of which he made 
almost daily use ; while in the mornings he 
taught his pupil, Charles Lloyd. Gradually, 
however, his funds got very low ; and in 
June, 1797, Poole saw that something of a 
very practical kind must be done for him. 
In the realization of this, he obtained the 
help of one or two friends, whose names are 
unrecorded. It is needless to enter on par- 
ticulars as to these sad days. For details, 
the reader must consult Mr. Dykes Camp- 
bell's Life of the poet. The chief events to 
Coleridge in the earlier half of the year 

Coleridge's Arrival at Stowey 

1797 were his visit to Wordsworth at Race- 
down, and the publication of a new edition 
of his Poems. 

The volume was issued under the title 
Poems by S. T. Coleridge ', second edition, to 'which 
are added Poems by Charles Lamb and Charles 
Lloyd (printed by N. Biggs for J. Cottle, 
Bristol, and Messrs. Robinson, London). A 
great deal that was in the first edition was 
very prudently left out. The new pieces 
included a dedicatory poem to his brother 
George, a revised version of his Ode to the 
Departing Tear, two new sonnets on the 
birth of his child Hartley, and the companion 
poem on The .^Eolian Harp, entitled Re- 
fections on having left a place of retirement 
(which was Clevedon), and the Religious 
Musings in an altered form. But as his 
best biographer, Mr. Dykes Campbell, 
points out, 1 " Nothing in the volume 
gives the least hint that Coleridge was 
already on the latch of the magic casements 

1 See his Life, p. 69. 
[ 51 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

which were to open on the perilous seas sailed 
by The Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan" 

The small house at Stowey, " to be let at 
seven pounds a year," which Poole advised 
him to take, although it was in a somewhat 
unsatisfactory state, is referred to in a letter 
to his friend and benefactor, endorsed " Dec- 
ember, 1796." In it he said : "We might 
Rumfordize one of the chimneys. I can 
endure cold, but not a cold room. If we can 
contrive to make two rooms warm and whole- 
some we will laugh in the faces of gloom and 
ill-lookingness." The cottage was entered 
in the Christmas week of 1796. 

On February 6, 1797, he wrote to his 
friend Thelwall : " We are very happy, and 
my little David Hartley grows a sweet boy. 
I raise potatoes and all manner of vegetables; 
have an orchard, and shall raise corn (with 
the spade) enough for my family. We have 
two pigs, and ducks and geese. A cow would 
not answer to keep, for we have whatever 
milk we want from T. Poole." 

Coleridge* s Arrival at Stowey 

Mrs. Sandford writes, however, that "Mrs. 
Coleridge was not altogether wrong when 
she remembered the house as a miserable 
cottage ; and, indeed, the day was not far 
distant when Coleridge himself could write 
of it as " the old hovel." It was afterwards 
transformed into a small public-house, and 
even then was a better and larger house than 
it was when Coleridge inhabited it ; for its 
size was increased by the addition of a mis- 
cellaneous block of buildings at the back. 

In Coleridge's time it would seem to 
have consisted of two small and rather dark 
parlours, one on each side of the front door, 
looking straight into the street ; with a small 
kitchen behind, wholly destitute of modern 
conveniences, and where the fire was made 
on the hearth in the most primitive manner 
conceivable. There cannot have been more 
than three, or at most four bedrooms above. 
The back door gave access to a long strip of 
kitchen-garden, along the bottom of which 
was the lane through which was the means 

[ 53 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

of access into Tom Poole's garden, which 
ran down from another part of it. 

It is said that Coleridge after preaching 
a remarkable sermon at Bridgwater walked 
to Racedown to see Wordsworth ; and it is 
reported that he wrote from Racedown two 
letters to his friend Estlin, who had been 
made the treasurer of a fund, organized by 
Thomas Poole, " asking him to give Mrs. 
Fricker and Mrs. Coleridge five guineas 
each out of the subscription money." 

It is pleasant, along with the record of 
these slight financial details, to remember 
how Coleridge wrote to Cottle, telling him 
that Wordsworth admired his tragedy, which, 
he added, " gives me great hopes" ; and that, 
in a fit of rather extravagant eulogy, he con- 
tinued that Wordsworth's drama is " abso- 
lutely wonderful. . . . There are in it those 
profound truths of the human heart, which 
I find three or four times in The Robbers 
of Schiller, and often in Shakespeare, but in 
Wordsworth there are no inequalities." 

[ 541 

Coleridge's Arrival at Stowey 

It is very difficult I fear quite impossible 
for anyone now to follow and trace out 
the dates of all Coleridge's visits from Stowey 
to Racedown in the early summer of 1797. 
I do not myself think that there was more 
than one of them [already recorded in de- 
tail]. But it is certain that on the 2nd of 
July in that year he returned from Racedown 
to Stowey, bringing back with him both 
Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy. They 
stayed in the Stowey cottage for a fortnight 
before they went on to Alfoxden, there to 
settle as tenants in that somewhat remark- 
able home. It had been Coleridge's wish, 
and was now his realized achievement, to 
have his friend and brother-bard living so 
near to him that they could have frequent, 
if not daily, meetings. It was this that led 
Wordsworth doubtless on Coleridge's sug- 
gestion to migrate from Racedown to 
Alfoxden ; and it was doubtless the impres- 
sion produced on the latter, during his friend's 
ever-memorable first visit, which led him 

[ 55 ] 

Coleridge and W^ordsworth 

to write that wonderful description of 
Dorothy : 

" Wordsworth and his exquisite sister are 
with me. She is a woman indeed ! in 
mind, I mean, and heart : for her person is 
such that, if you expected to see a pretty 
woman, you would think her rather ordi- 
nary ; if you expected to see an ordinary 
woman, you would think her pretty ! but 
her manners are simple, ardent, impressive. 
In every motion her most innocent soul out- 
beams so brightly that who saw would say 

Guilt was a thing impossible to her. 

Her information is various; her eye watch- 
ful in minutest observation of Nature; and 
her taste a perfect electrometer. It bends, 
protrudes, and draws in at the subtlest 
beauties, and the most recondite faults." 

[ 56] 



COLERIDGE wrote to the Rev. J. P. 
Estlin from Stowey in 1797: "Our 
house is better than we expected. There 
is a comfortable bedroom and sitting-room 
for C. Lloyd, and another for us, a room for 
Nanny, a kitchen and outhouse. Before our 
door a clear brook runs, of very soft water; 1 
and in the back yard is a nice well of fine 
spring water. We have a very pretty garden, 
large enough to find us vegetables and 
employment ; and I am already an expert 
gardener, and both my hands can exhibit a 
callum 2 as testimonials for their industry. 
We have likewise a sweet orchard ; and, at 

1 This no longer exists. 

2 A piece of hard skin. 

[ 59 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

the end of it, T. Poole has made a gate, 
which leads into his garden, and from 
thence either through the tan-yard into his 
house, or else through his orchard over a 
fine meadow into the garden of a Mrs. 
Cruikshank, ... an old acquaintance who 
married on the same day as I did, has now 
a little girl younger than David Hartley." 

On February 6, 1797, he wrote to John 
Thelwall : 

" Dr. Darwin 1 will no doubt excite your 
respectful curiosity. On the whole, I think 
he is the first literary character in Europe, 
and the most original-minded man. ... I 
never go to Bristol. From seven till half-past 
eight I work in my garden. From breakfast 
till twelve, I read and compose ; then read 
again, feed the pigs, poultry, etc., till two 
o'clock ; after dinner, work again till tea ; 
from tea till supper, review. So jogs the day, 
and I am happy. I have society, my friend 

1 The father of Charles Darwin. 

In Somerset 

T. Poole, and as many acquaintances as I can 
dispense with. 

" There are a number of very pretty young 
women in Stowey, all musical, and'' I am an 
immense favourite, for I pun, conundrum- 
wise, listen, and dance. The last is a recent 
acquirement. God bless you, and your 



In Joseph Cottle's Early Recollections we 
find the following letter from Coleridge to 
him, of which the date was probably in- 
correctly given as "June, 1797" : 


" I am sojourning for a few days at 
Racedown, the mansion of our friend Words- 
worth. . . . Wordsworth admires my tragedy, 
which gives me great hopes He has written 
a tragedy himself. I speak with heartfelt 
sincerity, and (I think) unbiassed judgment, 
when I tell you that I feel myself a little man 

[ 61 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

by his side ; and yet I do not think myself the 
less man than I formerly thought myself. 
His drama is absolutely wonderful. You know 
that I do not commonly speak in such abrupt 
and unmingled phrase, and therefore will the 
more readily believe me. T. Poole's opinion 
of Wordsworth is that he is the greatest man 
he ever knew ; I coincide. God bless you. 


Coleridge was at Taunton on June 5, 1797, 
and " on the evening of that, or the next 
day, he arrived on foot at Racedown, some 
forty miles distant," says Mr. Ernest 

Writing to Southey in July, 1797, Cole- 
ridge said : " I had been on a visit to 
Wordsworth 's, at Racedown, near Crewkerne, 
and I brought him and his sister with me, 
and here I have settled them. By a combina- 
tion of curious circumstances a gentleman's 
seat, with a park and woods, elegantly and 
completely furnished, with nine lodging 
[ 62 ] 

In Somerset 

rooms, three parlours, and a hall, in the most 
beautiful and romantic situation by the sea- 
side, four miles from Stowey this we have 
got for Wordsworth at the rate of twenty-three 
pounds a year, taxes included ! The park 
and woods are his for all purposes he wants 
them, and the large gardens are altogether 
and entirely his. Wordsworth is a very 
great man, the only man to whom, at all 
times and in all modes of excellence, I feel 
myself inferior ; the only one I mean whom 
I have yet met with, for the London literati 
appear to me to be very much like little 
potatoes, i.e. no great things, a compost of 
nullity and dullity. 

" Charles Lamb has been with me for a 
week. 1 He left me Friday morning. The 
second day after Wordsworth came to me, 
dear Sara emptied a skillet of boiling milk 
on my foot, which confined me during the 
whole time of C. Lamb's stay, and still pre- 

1 Charles Lamb's visit to Stowey lasted from July 7 
to July 14, 1797. 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

vents me from all walks longer than a furlong. 
While Wordsworth, his sister, and Charles 
Lamb were out one evening, sitting in the 
arbour of T. Poole's garden, which com- 
municates with mine, I wrote these lines, 
with which I am pleased." I quote most of 
them, because they contain the best poetic 
description that exists of Coleridge's cottage- 
garden, and of what was to be seen in it 
and from it : 

This lime-tree bower my prison ! I have lost 

Beauties and feelings, such as would have been 

Most sweet to my remembrance even when age 

Had dimmed mine eyes to blindness ! They, meanwhile, 

Friends whom I never more may meet again, 

On springy heath, along the hill-top edge, 

Wander in gladness, and wind down perchance, 

To that still roaring dell, of which I told ; 

The roaring dell, o'erwooded, narrow, deep, 

And only speckled by the mid-day sun; 

Where its slim trunk the ash from rock to rock 

Flings arching like a bridge ; that branchless ash, 

Unsunned and damp, whose few poor yellow leaves 

1 The lines were entitled This Lime-Tree Bower my 
Prison, beginning, " Well, they are gone, and here I 
must remain." 


In Somerset 

Ne'er tremble in the gale, yet tremble still 
Fanned by the waterfall ! and there my friends 
Behold the dark green pile of long lank weeds, 
That all at once (a most fantastic sight !) 
Still nod and drip beneath the dripping edge 
Of the blue clay-stone. 

Now, my friends emerge 
Beneath the wide wide heaven and view again 
The many-steepled tract magnificent 
Of hilly fields and meadows, and the sea, 
With some fair bark, perhaps, whose sails light up 
The slip of smooth clear blue betwixt two isles 
Of purple shadow ! Yes ! they wander on 
In gladness all ; but thou, methinks, most glad, 
My gentle-hearted Charles ! for thou hast pined 
And hungered after Nature, many a year, 
In the great city pent, winning thy way 
With sad yet patient soul, through evil and pain, 
And strange calamity ! Ah ! slowly sink 
Behind the western ridge, thou glorious sun ! 
Shine in the slant-beams of the sinking orb, 
Ye purple heath-flowers ! richlier burn, ye clouds ! 
Live in the yellow light, ye distant groves ! 
And kindle, thou blue Ocean ! so my friend 
Struck with deep joy may stand, as I have stood, 
Silent with swimming sense ; yea, gazing round 
On the wide landscape, gaze till all doth seem 
Less gross than bodily ; and of such hues 
As veil the Almighty Spirit, when yet He makes 
Spirits perceive his presence. 

F [6 5 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

A delight 

Comes sudden on my heart, and I am glad 
As I myself were there ! Nor in this bower. 
This little lime-tree bower, have I not marked 
Much that has soothed me. Pale beneath the blaze 
Hung the transparent foliage ; and I watched 
Some broad and sunny leaf, and loved to see 
The shadow of the leaf and stem above, 
Dappling its sunshine ! and that walnut-tree 
Was richly tinged, and a deep radiance lay 
Full on the ancient ivy, which usurps 
Those fronting elms ; and now, with blackest mass 
Makes their dark branches gleam a lighter hue 
Through the late twilight ; and though now the bat 
Wheels silent by, and not a swallow twitters, 
Yet still the solitary humble-bee 
Sings in the bean-flower ! Henceforth I shall know 
That Nature ne'er deserts the wise and pure ; 
No plot so narrow, be but Nature there, 
No waste so vacant, but may well employ 
Each faculty of sense, and keep the heart 
Awake to Love and Beauty ! and sometimes 
'Tis well to be bereft of promised good, 
That we may lift the soul, and contemplate 
With lively joy the joys we cannot share. 

He adds, after quoting the poem : 

" I would make a shift, by some means 
or other, to visit you, if I thought that you 

In Somerset 

and Edith Southey would return with me. 
... I have driven back Miss Wordsworth 
over forty miles of execrable roads, and have 
always been very cautious, and I am now no 
inexpert whip. And Wordsworth, at whose 
house I am for change of air, has com- 
missioned me to offer you a suite of rooms at 
this place which is called Alfoxden and so 
divine and wild is the country that I am 
sure it would increase your stock of images ; 
and three weeks' absence from Christchurch 
will endear it to you. Edith Southey and 
Sara may not have another opportunity of 
seeing one another, and Wordsworth is very 
solicitous to know you. Miss Wordsworth 
is a most exquisite young woman in her 
mind and heart. I pray you write me im- 
mediately. God bless you, and your affec- 


Reference has been already made to 
Wordsworth's toil over his tragedy, and 


Coleridge and Wordsworth 

his friends' appreciation of it. Coleridge's 
admiration, although most genuine, was 
excessive. In 1796 he wrote to Poole to 
come to hear it read under the trees at 
Nether Stowey ; and he afterwards wrote 
to the publisher Cottle thus, offering his 
own tragedy and Wordsworth's together : 
" I am requested by Wordsworth to put to 
you the following question : What could 
you conveniently and prudently, and what 
would you give, first, for our two tragedies, 
with small preface. (The tragedies are to- 
gether five thousand lines, which when 
printed in dialogue -form, with directions 
respecting actors and scenery, are at least 
equal to six thousand.) Second, Words- 
worth's 'Salisbury Plain' and 'Tale of a 
Woman,' * with a few others which he will 
add, will make a volume ? " 

Cottle writes that he replied to this, offer- 
ing " Mr. Coleridge and Mr. Wordsworth 
thirty guineas each, as proposed, for their 

1 His Guilt and Sorrow. 


In Somerset 

two tragedies ; but this, after some hesita- 
tion, was declined, from the hope of intro- 
ducing one or both upon the stage. The 
volume of poems was left for future arrange- 

But, as time went on, Coleridge managed 
either through Tom Poole, or his brother 
to get The Borderers introduced to Mr. 
Harris, the manager of Covent Garden 
Theatre, London, " who promised to give his 
answer immediately ; and, if he accepts it, 
to put it in preparation without an hour's 
delay." 1 

On the 2oth November, 1797, Dorothy 
Wordsworth wrote : " William's play is 
finished, and sent to the managers of the 
Covent Garden Theatre. We have not the 
faintest expectation that it will be accepted." 

On December 2151,1797, Dorothy Words- 
worth wrote from Bristol to a correspondent 
unknown : " . . . We have been in Lon- 
don ; our business was the play, and the 

1 Early Recollections , Vol. I, p. 251. 
[6 9 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

play is rejected. It was sent to one of the 
principal actors at Covent Garden, who 
expressed great approbation, and advised 
William strongly to go to London to make 
certain alterations. Coleridge's play is also 

It must never be forgotten, however, that 
in that lowly abode now happily secured 
for posterity and for the nation Coleridge 
did his best and most enduring poetic work. 
But for his residence there, the world would 
never have received The Ancient Mariner 
and many other poems of his literary man- 
hood. Another point may be noted. 

As Mr. Salmon writes: 1 "A characteristic 
that links the Quantocks with the farther 
West is the presence of pixies. The pixy 
is the special Celtic variant of the ordinary 
fairy or elf, and it only lingers now in the 
West of England. Its chief homes are on 
Dartmoor, and in Cornwall ; but its presence 
on Exmoor, and the Quantocks proves con- 

1 Literary Rambles in the West of England, p. 261. 

In Somerset 

tinuance of Celtic tradition. They are not 
seen nowadays, for the pixy-folk do not 
manifest themselves to the incredulous ; but, 
within living memory, a farmer is said to 
have seen some threshing his corn in a barn 
near Holford village." This is quoted not 
as an accredited fact, but as an instance of 
the survival of old and widespread belief in 
younger and less credulous days. 



THE modern literary world has come 
to associate Nether Stowey, and the 
last decade of the eighteenth and the first 
of the nineteenth century, almost exclusively 
with two " twin brethren " in the poetic 
primacy ; but it cannot help remembering 
their allies and coadjutors. The chief of 
these assuredly was Thomas Poole. He 
offered, or secured for, Coleridge the tiny 
cottage in the village " at a nominal rent," 
although no one can say if it was ever paid, 
or asked for. 

His recognition of the poet is easily under- 
stood, but Coleridge's friendship with him 
was due to several things : his appreciation 
of the union of inborn intelligence with 
a thoughtful and discriminative study of 

Coleridge and Thomas Poole 

books, and the spectacle of an industrious 
life, in which the common necessities of 
existence could be met and paid for by hard 
labour, without the expenditure of a great 
sum of money. The combination of literary 
sympathy a knowledge of, and love for 
Literature with the toil of an expert handi- 
craftsman, had a great fascination for Cole- 
ridge. Other friends at this period of his 
life were more one-sided men than Thomas 
Poole. Charles Lloyd, who lived with him 
for a time, was a recluse invalid. Estlin 
was a schoolmaster and a preacher. Charles 
Lamb the best friend he (probably) ever 
had was only an office-clerk, although one 
of the rarest letter-writers of his own, or of 
any other time ; but Thomas Poole was a 
worker with his own hands^ a practical pro- 
ducer of what all his fellow-men needed 
every day of their lives. He was thus one 
of the best examples of helpful industry, 
combined with continuous and devoted study 
of what transcends all industrial success. 

[ 75 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

All who have read Mrs. Henry Sandford's 
book, entitled Thomas Poole and his Friends, 
know this right well ; but few perhaps can 
realize completely what it was for Coleridge 
to escape betimes from his tiny cottage into 
that fine old house behind his garden, and the 
tannery, in which Poole kept his books, and 
there to read at leisure as he liked. He 
wrote to Poole on November 5, 1796 : 

" To live in a beautiful country, and to 
enure myself as much as possible to the 
labours of the field, have been for this year 
part my dream of the day, my sigh at mid- 
night ; but to enjoy these blessings near you, 
to see you daily, to tell you all my thoughts 
in their first birth and to hear yours, to be 
mingling identities with you, as it were ! the 
vision-weaving fancy has often pictured such 
things, but hope never dared whisper a 
promise. Envy me not this immortal 
draught, and I will forgive all thy persecu- 

[ 76] 

Coleridge and Thomas Poole 

Wordsworth wrote of Poole as follows : 

"During my residence at Alfoxden I used 
to see much of him, and had frequent occa- 
sions to admire the course of his life, espe- 
cially his conduct to his labourers and poor 
neighbours. Their wishes he carefully en- 
couraged, and weighed their faults in the 
scales of charity. He was much beloved 
by distinguished persons, Mr. Coleridge, 
Mr. Southey, Sir H. Davy, and many others." 

De Quincey described him as " a stout, 
plain-looking farmer, leading a bachelor life 
in a rustic old-fashioned house ; the house, 
however, proving to be amply furnished 
with modern luxuries, and especially with 
a good library, superbly mounted in all 
departments, bearing on political philosophy ; 
and the farmer turning out a polished Eng- 
lishman, who had travelled extensively, and 
had so entirely devoted himself to the ser- 
vice of his humble fellow-countrymen the 
hewers of wood and drawers of water in 

[ 77 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 


this southern part of Somersetshire that 
for many miles round he was the general 
arbiter of their disputes, the guide and 
counsellor of their difficulties, besides being 
appointed executor and guardian to his 
children by every third man who died in 
or about the town of Nether Stowey." 

The letters addressed to Poole by Cole- 
ridge before he went to Stowey are not 
quoted, or referred to, in this book. They 
will be found in the two volumes of his 
grandfather's letters, edited by Mr. Ernest 
Coleridge. In subsequent chapters of this 
one many other references to Poole occur. 
That ever kind and most generous, as well 
as careful man, soon found out that Cole- 
ridge was in a mass of financial troubles, and 
was himself thinking of many possible exits 
from them, e.g. (i) the founding of a fresh 
newspaper ; (2) becoming the minister in a 
Unitarian pulpit ; but was never thinking 
either of supplying his wife with "a home" 
[ 78 ] 

Coleridge and Thomas Poole 

that she could call her own, or of doing 
anything for his own permanent mainten- 

There is no doubt that the Stowey cottage 
was a refuge and in some respects a real 
home to him mainly because of the kind- 
ness of Thomas Poole ; and as they lived so 
near they could if they wished see each 
other almost daily. Coleridge wrote : 

And now, beloved Stowey ! I behold 

Thy church-tower, and methinks the four huge elms 

Clustering, which mark the mansion of my friend ; 

And close behind them, hidden from my view, 

Is my own lowly cottage, where my babe 

And my babe's mother dwell in peace ! 

The chief interest to posterity in the Stowey 
cottage is doubtless due to the fact that here 
the long preliminary musings, which gave 
birth to The Ancient Mariner and Ghristabel, 
began, and that in it were composed The 
Nightingale and other poems of his prime. 

What Wordsworth wrote at Alfoxden 
was not equal to what Coleridge wrote 
or planned out at Stowey. Wordsworth 

[ 79] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

gathered the material in Somerset, which 
he afterwards worked up into poetic form ; 
but neither in The Danish Boy nor in 
Simon Lee did he do his best, and in the 
later poem he took the scene away from 
Somerset to Wales. He wrote The Thorn 
and the far less successful Idiot Boy at 
Alfoxden ; also Peter Bel/, which is far 
from his best poem of its class or kind. A 
far better, though a somewhat trivial poem, 
based on a small incident which occurred 
during an earlier visit to the ruins of Good- 
rich Castle, in Monmouth, was written (but 
left unfinished) at Alfoxden. 

We should remember, however, that both 
the Idiot Boy and Peter Bell by Words- 
worth, and the Lines to a Young Ass by 
Coleridge, were the outcome of the some- 
what erratic poetic theory, elaborated by 
the two poets at that time, that no subject 
was too trivial for the poet's touch ^ and that 
an ignoble theme might even glorify a 
poem taken from a very humble episode in 
[ 80 ] 

Coleridge and Thomas Poole 

rustic life. It is difficult to justify the 
Anecdote for Fathers suggested by a childish 
remark made by Basil Montagu of the 
exchange of " Liswyn Farm " for " Kilve's 
smooth shore by the green sea." 

The following extract from T. H. Escott's 
book, entitled Society in the Country House, 
will be of some use to students of this 
period : 

"Towards the close of the eighteenth 
century there lived on the Egmont estate, 
in the shadow of Enmore Castle, the most 
remarkable man in the neighbourhood, 
Thomas Poole, a born book-lover and critic, 
the friend and adviser alike of rich and poor. 
To him wrote the poet William Words- 
worth, begging Poole's good offices with 
Cruikshank, Lord Egmont's agent, to en- 
able the poet to take a small house at Ads- 
combe, not far from the spot now occupied 
by Quantock Lodge. Wordsworth had been 
attracted to the neighbourhood by the fact 
[ 81 J 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

of his friend S. T. Coleridge being already 
settled at Nether Stowey. Without some 
intermediary of unimpeachable respectability, 
Wordsworth had already received practical 
proof of the hopelessness of being suitably 
housed in that high Tory district. An 
application for Alfoxden had been indeed 
already made by him, and refused on the 
ground of his seditious sympathies. Thomas 
Poole brought forward evidence of his 
friend's t real innocence and harmlessness. 
Eventually the poet secured the tenancy of 
Alfoxden for ^40 a year, 1 deer-park and all. 
The place thus became as important a land- 
mark as Rydal itself in the evolution of the 
Lake poets. At Alfoxden itself, as Words- 
worth's guest, Coleridge wrote both his 
Fears in Solitude and his Ode to Liberty. 
Wordsworth desired to continue his tenancy. 
The St. Albyn owners had been plied with 

1 It will be seen that Coleridge wrote to Wordsworth 
(July, 1795) that the rate was to be "twenty-three 
pounds a year, taxes included." 

[ 82 ] 

Coleridge and Thomas Poole 

renewed reports of the poet's revolutionary 
associations. Before renewing the lease, they 
sent down a detective to make inquiries. 
This officer of the law happened to possess 
a very long nose. Following Wordsworth 
and Coleridge in one of their frequent walks, 
he heard them talk about the philosopher 
Spinosa. To the keen ear of the Bow Street 
official, the strange word implied some un- 
complimentary comment on his nasal organ. 
Thus wounded at a sensitive point, he re- 
ported so unfavourably of the poets that the 
non-renewal of the lease prevented Words- 
worth from prolonging his residence beyond 
the year." 

[83 J 



THIS is of necessity, like the last, a short 
chapter. Southey although born in 
Bristol was not much in the Somerset group, 
of which Wordsworth and Coleridge were 
the chiefs, who made that district of Eng- 
land poetically famous. He was a West- 
minster boy, and went from his school to 
Balliol College, Oxford. He became a friend 
of Coleridge, and was captivated by the "Pan- 
tisocracy" scheme. In his youth he was much 
in Portugal. Although one of the three poets 
who were afterwards erroneously grouped to- 
gether as those of "The English Lakes," 
his permanent fame and it is a lasting one 
was based not on his poems, but on his 
vast literary output in miscellaneous direc- 
tions (in which he had no superior) and on 

[ 84] 

Coleridge and Southey 

his Letters^ many of which are monu- 

It is unnecessary in this book to refer to 
such collateral things as Coleridge's mis- 
understanding with Southey towards the close 
of 1795. But it may be as well to mention 
the facts of his correspondence with him (as 
they were brothers-in-law) during his earlier 
years. While Coleridge wrote to Southey, 
before he settled at Stowey in 1796, some 
fourteen letters in all twelve in 1794, two 
in 1795 and one in 1797, Southey wrote 
none to Coleridge before 1800, only one in 
1802, one in 1803, and two in 1804. Of 
course, the value or importance of these 
letters is not here estimated, but the differ- 
ence in their number is significant. 

On the 2 3rd of May, 1801, Southey wrote 
to his friend, John May, from Lisbon : " I 
am no ways weary of Portugal. It would 
be the country of my choice, residence cer- 
tainly, its climate so exactly suits me ; and its 
materials now afford me ample employment." 

[ 85 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

Again, on August igth of the same year, he 
wrote to another friend, Grosvenor C. Bed- 
ford : " I love the South. To England I 
have no strong tie ; the friends whom I love 
live so widely apart that I never see two in 
a place ; and, for acquaintance, they are to 
be found everywhere. Thus much for the 
future ; for the present I am about to move 
to Coleridge, who is at the Lakes. ... If 
you have not seen the second volume of 
Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads^ I counsel you 
to buy them ; and to read aloud the poems 
entitled The Brothers and Michael^ which, 
especially the first, are to me excellent. I 
have never been so much affected, and so 
ivell^ as by some passages there. God bless 
you. Yours as ever, 


He wrote again to his friend Grosvenor C. 
Bedford: " Keswick, Sept. 6th, 1801. . . . 
My dreams incline to Lisbon as a resting- 
place. I am really attached to the country; 

Coleridge and Southey 

and odd as it may seem to the people." 
" Cintra is my paradise ! the heaven on 
earth of my hopes. . . ." 

Although lam not putting into this volume 
any reminiscences of Wordsworth and Cole- 
ridge after they left Somersetshire, I may 
include part of a letter from Southey, who 
was afterwards closely associated with them. 
It is addressed to Miss Barker, and is written 

" KESWICK, Feb.^ 1804. 

" Maria Sanctissima ! Mount Horeb, 
with the glory upon its summit, might have 
been more glorious, but not more beautiful, 
than old Skiddaw in his winter pelisse of 
ermine. I will not quarrel with frost, though 
the fellow has had the impudence to take 
me by the nose. The lakeside has such ten 
thousand charms ; a fleece of snow, or of the 
hoar-frost, lies on the fallen trees, or large 
stones ; the grass-points, that just peer above 
the water, are powdered with diamonds ; the 
ice on the margin with chains of crystal, 

[ 87 ] 

Coleridge and H^ordsworth 

and such veins and wavy lines of beauty as 
mock all art ; and, to crown all, Coleridge and 
I have found out that stones thrown upon the 
lake when frozen, make a noise like singing 
birds ; and, when you whirl on it a large 
flake of ice, away the shivers slide, chirping 
and warbling like a flight of finches." 

This extract from a letter of Southey's 
puts him, me judice^ almost on the level of 
the two Wordsworths, and of Coleridge, as a 
delineator of Nature. 

Another extract from a later letter, sent by 
Southey from Greta Hall on February i6th, 
1 804, may be added here, as it is a further in- 
stance of his rare felicity as a letter-writer : 

" DEAR GROSVENOR, I have seen a sight 
more dreamy and wonderful than any scenery 
that fancy ever yet devised for fairyland. 
We had walked down to the lakeside : it 
was a delightful day, the sun shining, and a 
few white clouds hanging motionless in the 
sky, The opposite shore of Derwentwater 

Coleridge and Southey 

consists of one long mountain, which sud- 
denly terminates in an arch thus, ^j, and 
through that opening you see a long valley 
between mountains, and bounded by moun- 
tain beyond mountain ; to the right of the 
arch the heights are more varied, and of 
greater elevation. Now, as there was not a 
breath of air stirring, the surface of the lake 
was so perfectly still, that it became one great 
mirror, and all its waters disappeared : the 
whole line of shore was represented as vividlv 
and steadily as it existed in its actual being 
the arch, the vale within, the single houses 
far within the vale, the smoke from their 
chimneys, the furthest hills, and the shadow 
and substance joined at their bases so in- 
divisibly, that you could make no separation, 
even in your judgment. As I stood on the 
shore, heaven and the clouds seemed lying 
under me : I was looking down into the sky, 
and the whole range of mountains, having 
one line of summits under my feet and 
another above me, seemed to be , suspended 


Coleridge and Wordsworth 

between the firmaments. Shut your eyes, 
and dream of a scene so unnatural and so 
beautiful. What I have said is most strictly 
and scrupulously true ; but it was one of 
those happy moments that can seldom occur, 
for the least breath stirring would have 
shaken the whole vision, and at once un- 
realized it. I have before seen a partial 
appearance, but before never did, and per- 
haps never again may lose sight of the lake 
entirely ; for it literally seemed like an abyss 
of sky before me, not fog or clouds from a 
mountain, but the blue heaven spotted with 
a few fleecy billows of cloud that looked 
placed there for angels to rest upon them." 

This passage has no connection with Somer- 
set, and it is only inserted here from its being 
an apt illustration of Southey's descriptive 
power, and from the close relation in which 
he stood to the other poets of the Cumbrian 

r%v ^ 

m : J &*&&&&s&gtjK 



THE Quantock Hills of North Somerset 
are perhaps more worthy of special 
mention both as regards their scenery and 
their literary associations than they have 
as yet received, except in local guide-books 
and county chronicles. It is as a district 
associated with if not hallowed by the 
residence in it of these two great twin-poets of 
our English renaissance literature, to whom 
this volume is devoted, that I have to deal 
with them ; but they deserve more than one 
visit by the lovers both of the picturesque 
and of the reposeful in scenery. Their 
wonderfully beautiful " coombs," i.e. small 
valleys leading up to the watersheds of the 
district, are a delightful solace to the wearied 

[93 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

residents in all the towns that lie near the 
main track of the railway to the south-west 
of England. 

It can never be forgotten by the students 
of English literature that it was in this 
district that the monumental Lyrical Ballads 
of Wordsworth and Coleridge were born ; 
but I have already written so much about 
both of these two pioneers, that I prefer 
to put into this book the words of other 
appreciative men. 

Mr. Arthur L. Salmon writes in his 
Literary Rambles in the West of England : * 
u The spirit of Wordsworth was experiencing 
the soothing influences of Nature, and of 
his sister's society at Racedown, and was re- 
covering its tone, which had been impaired 
by the disappointments of the French Revo- 
lution. In no narrow sense, the poet was 
being 'born again.' It was here that he 
wrote his Guilt and Sorrow^ his tragedy 
of The Borderers, and the far finer ' Ruined 
1 p. 250. 

The Quantock Hills 

Cottage,' which became incorporated in the 
first book of The Excursion. 

" The perfect solitude of the place, and its 
rusticity, entirely delighted the poet and his 
sister ; indeed, the sister wrote later : ' I 
think Racedown is the place dearest to my 
recollections upon the whole surface of the 
island. It was the first home I had.' When 
Coleridge came in 1797 the three were ripe 
for mutual friendship. The young men 
compared notes, shared each other's literary 
aspirations and ideals, read each other's 
poems : Dorothy Wordsworth added the 
gracious touch of femininity." 

I think that Mr. Salmon is justified in 
saying of Wordsworth that " his genius was 
as fully at home in Somerset as among the 
grander hills of the Lake Country." 

Although these Quantock Hills have a 
rare sylvan beauty of their own, and their 
coombs (which are pastoral valleys) are 
unique in their way, they now are and 

1 P- 253- 
[95 ] 

Coleridge and W^ordsworth 

will probably continue to be more famous 
with posterity as the temporary resting-place 
of the two illustrious men connected with 
the Literature of England. These kindred 
spirits were drawn to the district by profound 
mutual affinity, and by corresponding ideals. 
It was a happy magnetism that brought 
Coleridge from Clevedon, and Wordsworth 
from Racedown, to the district of Stowey. 
Thomas Poole one of the veteran " states- 
men " of Stowey was the chief resident in 
it, and he attracted both men ; but many 
visitors, from Charles Lamb downwards- 
including Southey, De Quincey, Hazlitt, 
Humphry Davy, Thelwall, etc. were 
drawn to them, and were detained as 
associate guests. 

Some time in the autumn of 1799 (the 
date is unascertainable) Coleridge wrote to 
John Thelwall who had asked him if 
possible to procure him a cottage at Stowey, 
or near it that he had received an answer 
from his friend Chubb that he would under- 
[ 96 ] 

The Quantock Hills 

take to do so, " provided it was thought right 
that he should settle there, but this he left 
for T. Poole and Coleridge to settle." " Con- 
sequently," adds Coleridge, " the whole re- 
turns to its former situation ; and the hope 
which I had entertained that you could have 
settled without the remotest interference of 
Poole has vanished. There are insuperable 
difficulties. . . . Very great odium T. Poole 
incurred by bringing me here. My peace- 
able manner and known attachment to 
Christianity had almost worn it away when 
Wordsworth came ; and he, likewise by 
T. Poole's agency, settled here. You cannot 
conceive the tumult, calumnies, and apparatus 
of threatened persecutions which this event 
has occasioned round about us. If you^ too, 
should come, I am afraid that even riots, 
and dangerous riots, might be the con- 
sequences. Either of us separately would 
perhaps be tolerated ; but all three together, 
what can it be less than a school for the 
propagation of demagogy and atheism, etc." 

H [ 97 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

Some amusing if not quite authentic 
anecdotes about the " spy " will be found in 
Coleridge's Biograpbia Literaria. 1 Although 
therefore Thel wall's visit to the district 
brought both of the poets into transient 
trouble, it was not serious, and soon passed 

At the same time, as Mrs. Henry Sand- 
ford says in her 'Thomas Poole and his Friends^ 
Wordsworth's " sister was as great a mystery 
to the rustic imagination as he was himself. 
The profound seclusion in which they lived, 
the incomprehensible nature of their occu- 
pation, their strange habit of frequenting 
out-of-the-way and untrodden spots, the 
very presence of an unexplained child that 
was no relation to either of them, all 
combined to produce an impression of awe 
and mistrust. Mrs. St. Albyn became 
alarmed, ... and finally Wordsworth re- 
ceived notice to quit in June, ijgS." 2 

1 Chapter X. * Vol I, p. 240. 

[98 ] 



MANY readers of this book will 
know that the Coleridge cottage at 
NetherStoweyhas been acquired forposterity, 
and is now the property of the Nation; but 
it may be wise to mention one or two things 
in reference to the acquisition of this 
historic dwelling-place, and to devote a 
chapter to its story. 

In doing so, I avail myself of what has been 
ably written by the Rev. William Greswell, 
lately rector of Dodington, one of the fore- 
most of those who promoted the scheme for 
the purchase of the cottage by the National 
Trust, preparing the way for it along with 
the late Canon Ainger, of Bristol in super- 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

intending a local committee for the protec- 
tion of the building. 

Mr. Greswell has written a valuable paper 
for the Trust on the history of the cottage, 
which it is impossible for me to reproduce 
in full. It is procurable, however, without 
difficulty by all who are interested in the 
subject. I quote from it : 

" Inscribed on the tablet affixed to the 
Nether Stowey cottage are the words, ' Here 
S. T. Coleridge made his home, 1797-1800.' 
The one reason which induced him to settle 
at Nether Stowey was his desire to be near 
his friend Thomas Poole. We have it on 
his own authority that to be ' in the sight 
of this friend's face ' was the desire of his 
heart, and that if this wish could be realized 
life would go well with him. 

" At one time Acton, a village in Glouces- 
tershire, was suggested to Coleridge by Poole 
himself as a place of abode, but Coleridge 
rejected it with scorn. The country round 
[ 102 ] 

The Coleridge Cottage 

Acton was too flat and monotonous, and the 
poet declared that he 'would as soon live on 
the banks of a Dutch canal.' 

In words already quoted, Coleridge wrote: 
" I shall have six companions : my Sara, my 
babe, my own shaping and disquisitive mind, 
my books, my beloved friend Thomas Poole, 
and lastly, Nature looking at me with a 
thousand looks of beauty and speaking to 
me in a thousand melodies of Love." All this 
was to be got at Nether Stowey, and at 
Nether Stowey alone. 

" At first it was not easy to find a home 
for Coleridge in the village itself. There 
was a place called Adscombe in the neigh- 
bouring parish of Over Stowey, at the 
entrance of the romantic coomb of Seven 
Wells under the Quantocks. Here, centu- 
ries ago, the monks of the Benedictine Abbey 
of Athelney, King Alfred's foundation, had 
a small lodgment, and the ruins of Adscombe 
Chapel still survive. . . . 

" The Adscombe plan, however, fell 
[ '03 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

through, and probably it was fortunate that 
such was the case ; for, notwithstanding its 
romantic situation, and old-world associa- 
tions of monks and friars (for Franciscan 
Friars as well as Athelney Benedictines were 
to be found there, and gave a name to 
' Fryarh ' and ' Fryarn Wood ' up Seven 
Wells), Coleridge would have been too far 
off from his friend Poole for such daily and 
hourly intercourse as he desired. But fortu- 
nately the cottage in Lime Street became 
available, being the last house on the west 
side of Nether Stowey, with a good garden 
and orchard attached to it. This is the poet's 
own account of his abode, in a letter written 
to his friend the Rev. J. P. Estlin [Stowey, 

I 797]-- 

" ' Our house is better than we expected. 

There is a comfortable bedroom and sitting- 
room for C. Lloyd, and another for us, a room 
for Nanny, a kitchen and outhouse. Before 
our door a clear brook runs, of very soft 
water ; and in the back yard is a nice well of 

The Coleridge Cottage 

fine spring water. We have a very pretty 
garden, large enough to find us vegetables 
and employment ; and I am already an ex- 
pert gardener, and both my hands can exhibit 
a callum as testimonials of their industry. 
We have likewise a sweet orchard, and at 
the end of it T. Poole has made a gate, which 
leads into his garden, and from thence either 
through the tan-yard into his house, or else 
through his orchard over a fine meadow into 
the garden of a Mrs. Cruikshank (the wife 
of Lord Egniont's steward), an old acquaint- 
ance, who married on the same day as I, 
and has got a girl a little younger than 
David Hartley. Mrs. Cruikshank is a sweet 
little woman, of the same size as my Sara, 
and they are extremely cordial. T. Poole's 
mother behaves to us as a kind and tender 
mother. She is very fond indeed of my 
wife, so that, you see, I ought to be happy, 
and, thank God, I am so.' 

" The only topographical puzzle is the 
mention of ' the clear brook before our door' 
[ 105 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

which must have been running down Lime 
Street. This must not be confused with the 
brook which flowed, and still flows, down 
Castle Street in front of Poole's doors. It 
must have been a continuation of a mill-leet, 
or mill-race, on the west side of the Cole- 
ridge Cottagegardenand orchard, and dividing 
his little place from the present glebe ground, 
used now as allotment grounds. At that date 
neither the western annexe of the Coleridge 
Cottage, nor the house and grounds, now 
occupied by Mr. Moore, and formerly part 
of the orchard with the garden plot adjoin- 
ing, were built ; and the western and south- 
western views towards Bincombe, and the 
ridges of Quantock, were unobstructed. 

" ' And now,' writes one, ' I will give you 
a short account of the house. It is very small 
and very simple. Three rooms below and 
three above, all small. The window to my 
room has no opening, but a pane of glass is 
made to slide in and out by a piece of wire. 
But simple as the structure is, it shelters us 
[ 106] 

The Coleridge Cottage 

well ; and I have delightful society, and am 
therefore quite content. Here you can be 
happy without superfluities. Coleridge has 
a fine little boy about nine or ten months old, 
whom he has named David Hartley for 
Hartley and Bishop Berkeley are his idols, 
and he thinks them two of the greatest men 
that ever lived. This child is a noble, healthy- 
looking fellow, has strong eyebrows and 
beautiful eyes. It is a treat, a luxury, to see 
Coleridge hanging over his infant and talk- 
ing to it, and fancying what he will be in 
future days.' . . . 

" William and Dorothy Wordsworth were 
guests before and after they settled at Alfox- 
den, and, doubtless, frequent visitors during 
their year of residence (July, 1797 July, 
1798) in the 'large mansion in a large park' 
which they rented for ^23 per annum. In 
July, 1797, Charles Lamb was a fellow-guest 
with the Wordsworths, and enjoyed ' a 
few pleasant holidays ' after, and in spite of, 
much tribulation. In the August of the 

[ 107] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

same year John Thelwall, republican lecturer 
and elocutionist, made his way to Stowey and 
slept at the cottage, an unbidden but not un- 
welcomed guest. 

" A year later (August September, 1799) 
Robert Southey and his wife, who was sister 
to Mrs. Coleridge, passed some weeks with 
his brother-in-law, once more his friend. 

" Once, too, came Coleridge's publisher, 
Joseph Cottle, a kind friend if an unwise 
biographer, who has left us a pleasant picture 
of the summer-house perhaps in Poole's 
garden, perhaps in the orchard c with its 
tripod table laden with delicious bread and 
cheese and surmounted by a brown mug of 
the true Taunton ale.' 

" It was, indeed, as Coleridge might have 
said, a harbourous^ that is, guest-loving, and 
hospitable abode. 

" In pleasant contrast to the obscurity 

which hangs over the cottage at Clevedon, 

occupied by Coleridge just before the Nether 

Stowey period, there is a great deal of trust- 

[ 108 ] 

The Coleridge Cottage 

worthy evidence available about his abode 
in Lime Street. Originally it was a small 
thatched cottage (it is now tiled) with four 
rooms two bedrooms and two sitting-rooms 
looking out into the village street, as now. 
The side window of the left-hand sitting- 
room was a later addition. The back kitchen, 
the well with its old-fashioned windlass, the 
back premises, and the outhouses are there 
as formerly. The bay tree, sheltering what 
may be called c the Bay Tree Plot,' has 
flourished as far as the memory of man can 
take us back. The original garden and 
orchard have been divided, and the western 
portion of them came to be occupied by 
another house and garden, owned in 1909 
by Mr. Moore. But a good strip of what 
was the old orchard (boasting perhaps three 
or four surviving apple trees) is still attached 
to the Coleridge Cottage, and leads right up 
to the gateway that was originally made by 
Thomas Poole to facilitate the visits of the 
poet, but is now built up and stopped. The 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

original Poole property, which in Coleridge's 
time probably included a block of land to 
the west of Castle Street and adjoining the 
present Castle House boundaries as they now 
exist, has fallen into the hands of various 
owners. The tannery can be traced, as can 
the stream and mill-leet, together with an 
ancient barn or outhouse. The village school, 
close by, stands upon a portion of land given 
by Poole for the purposes of village instruc- 
tion, where he himself taught. It is still a 
standing memorial, in its altered modern 
aspect, to the worth and piety of its founder 
and benefactor. His gift was made when 
there was but small general interest in what 
may be called public or elementary educa- 

" On the west of the original Coleridge 
Cottage itself, and abutting it as a separate 
building, is a new cottage or annexe, all in- 
cluded in the national purchase. . . . 

"The village itself was a small 'Borough,' 
with a market of its own, for centuries. 

The Coleridge Cottage 

The market cross and clock, together with 
the stocks, all existed in Coleridge's time. 

" The ' Mount ' is the most conspicuous 
feature in the immediate neighbourhood, 
and must have often arrested the eye of 
Coleridge whenever he surveyed the land- 
scape from his garden. . . . 

" There is nothing very imposing, archi- 
tecturally, about Nether Stowey church. In 
Coleridge's time there was a gallery and a 
string band, which included a ' bassoon,' a 
new improvement introduced in 1797. This 
may have suggested those well-known lines 
in The Ancient Mariner : 

The wedding guest here beat his breast, 
For he heard the loud bassoon. 

" Coleridge mentions the church-tower 
in Fears in Solitude, and it must have pre- 
sented the same appearance as at present : 

And now, beloved Stowey ! I behold 

Thy church-tower, and, methinks, the four huge elms 

Clustering, which mark the mansion of my friend ; 

And close behind them, hidden from my view, 

Is my own lowly cottage. 

i [ 113 ] 

Coleridge and W^ordsworth 

" It is certain, of course, that Coleridge 
preached for the Rev. Joshua Toulmin, the 
Unitarian minister at Taunton, and that he 
took the trouble to walk all the way from 
Nether Stowey to Taunton a distance of 
eleven miles over Bincombe ridge, to do so. 
A ' lay sermon ' from S. T. Coleridge must 
have been welcome on all and every occasion. 

" About the work done at Nether Stowey 
nothing need be said or repeated here only 
this, that in conjunction with William 
Wordsworth, who came to live at Alfoxden, 
it became in time a landmark in English 
literature. The volume known as Lyrical 
Ballads (1798) best explains the meaning 
and significance of this landmark. Yet the 
attention of most readers has been mainly 
directed to the ' Lake School,' as it was 
termed, not to the ' Land of Quantock ' or 
the county of Somerset. Nevertheless, with 
the Southey family sprung from Lydeard 
St. Lawrence on the west side of the Quan- 
tocks, with Coleridge and Tom Poole 

[ 114] 

The Coleridge Cottage 

resident at Nether Stowey, and William and 
Dorothy Wordsworth resident at Alfoxden, 
(to say nothing of W. L. Bowles, born at 
Uphill), a further acknowledgment might 
have been made to Somerset and the Quan- 
tock Hills as the cradle of genius and the 
fountain of poetical and literary inspiration. 
" It is needless to observe that the birth of 
a new poetical era was hardly noticed at the 
time in the county of Somerset. Nor was 
it much appreciated outside. The neigh- 
bourhood long entertained unworthy sus- 
picions of the doings of Coleridge and 
especially of Wordsworth (who was fond 
of Kilve beach, in old days a landing-place 
and smugglers' resort), notwithstanding their 
friendship with such a well-known man as 
Poole. The story of these suspicions is told 
in the Elographia Liter aria, cap. x., and 
Thomas Poole and his Friends, and the fact 
that a spy was actually sent by the Govern- 
ment to report the doings and sayings of 
the dangerous conspirators has recently been 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

established by the discovery of papers pre- 
served in the Home Office. 

" Yet it was felt by some who had a wider 
patriotism and a fuller appreciation of literary 
work that this neglect could not be per- 
mitted to go on. Time had exposed the 
shallowness of hasty local suspicion, and had 
proved the good and sturdy citizenship of 
Robert Southey (a staunch supporter of 
Church and State), of William Wordsworth 
and Samuel Taylor Coleridge ; and time 
had published and consecrated the honour- 
able friendships and unblemished life of 
Thomas Poole, who, when he died (Sep- 
tember 8th, 1837), was followed to his grave 
by all the most important men of the coun- 

"In 1890 the original volume entitled 
Lyrical Ballads^ revised and edited by Pro- 
fessor Dowden, and a second issue of the 
same work, edited by Thomas Hutchinson, 
in 1898, aroused fresh interest in the Stowey 
period of Coleridge's life: in 1893 Mr. 

The Coleridge Cottage 

Dykes Campbell published his well-known 
edition of Coleridge s Poetical Works. Mat- 
thew Arnold, in his judicious selection from 
Wordsworth's Poems, had increased the num- 
ber of admirers of that poet ; and so the way 
was gradually being paved for a better 
general recognition of the first beginnings 
and struggling birth of the ' Romantic 
School of Poetry,' and, more particularly, 
of its almost unsuspected Quantock inspira- 
tion in the county of Somerset : a point in 
the history of English literature which had 
been overlooked. 


"In June, 1893, a few admirers of the 
works of Coleridge affixed a mural tablet 
on the cottage in Stowey, and a full account 
of the ceremony appeared in The Athenaum 
of June I7th, 1893. The money required 
had been collected by subscription, and it 
was then resolved to form a small Committee 
whose object it should be to collect money 
[ "7 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

for the preservation and, finally, the pur- 
chase of the cottage itself. Canon Ainger 
had visited the Quantocks in the autumn of 
that year, and lent the movement the sup- 
port of his name and influence. Together 
with Mr. Ernest Hartley Coleridge and Mr. 
Dykes Campbell, he was present at the cere- 
mony that attended the affixing of the tablet. 
The cottage itself had fallen upon some- 
what evil days. It had been converted into 
a public-house, and boasted of a flying sign- 
board labelled 'The Coleridge Cottage Inn.' 
The owner was reluctantly persuaded to 
forego his licence, take down his signboard, 
and lease the cottage to a Committee for a 
term of fifteen years, at 15 a year, with 
option of purchasing it for ,600 at the end 
of the lease in 1908. The sounds of rustic 
mirth and revelry disappeared from the pre- 
mises, and there was no further use for the 
Cider House and Bowling Alley which had 
been attached to it. At what precise date 
the cottage had become a village inn is un- 

The Coleridge Cottage 

certain, but at one time after Coleridge's 
departure a grave Congregationalist minister, 
known locally as ' Parson Cave,' had dwelt 
within its walls, and had served the chapel 
just below. After him an old lady, a Miss 
Newton, lived there. 

"The first Committee of Preservation con- 
sisted of the Rev. William Greswell, Rector 
of Dodington ; Mr. Ernest Hartley Cole- 
ridge, grandson of the poet ; Mr. Dykes 
Campbell, the editor of his Poetical Works ; 
the Rev. J. R. Vernon, and Mr. H. St. Barbe 
Goldsmith, who became joint lessees of the 
cottage and garden. New tenants were 
found for the cottage, and an effort was 
made to collect public subscriptions. Lord 
Coleridge, the Chief Justice of England, 
took much interest in the scheme of preser- 
vation and purchase ; but his death in 1894 
unfortunately deprived the Committee of his 
support. The late Sir Thomas Dyke Acland 
also sympathized with the movement, and 
subscribed to it. But, on the whole, the 

[ "9] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

support given was disappointing ; and in 
1896 a fresh appeal was made, in The Athen- 
tzum review of March 2ist, for subscriptions 
to be deposited in aid of the Purchase 
Fund at Stuckey's Bank, Bridgwater ; the 
manager of which had kindly consented to 
act as one of the Local Committee. The 
result, however, was again disappointing; 
and it was clear that, under existing circum- 
stances, the only course open to the Com- 
mittee was to keep the cottage tenanted, and 
in good repair, for the term it was rented, 
and trust to fortune. The responsibility 
rested chiefly with Mr. Greswell during the 
fifteen years' lease, and at times the diffi- 
culties of keeping the whole scheme, even 
in a state of suspended animation, were con- 
siderable. The preservation of the cottage 
must be regarded as his work. 

" Professor William Knight, the editor of 
Wordsworth's Poems who had already done 
so much in the North for Dove Cottage 
found his way to Nether Stowey in the 

[ '20] 

The Coleridge Cottage 

autumn of 1906. The scheme for the pur- 
chase and preservation of such an undoubted 
home of genius as the Coleridge Cottage 
appealed to him with great force, and it 
seemed only fit and desirable that as ' Dove 
Cottage ' had been secured as a memorial 
of Wordsworth in the North, ' Coleridge 
Cottage ' should be perpetuated in the 
South of England as a memorial to Cole- 

"Professor Knight addressed himself to the 
task of collecting funds, and of reorganizing 
the scheme. He threw out circulars broad- 
cast, and made appeal to the British and 
American literary world with untiring zeal 
and energy. Under his auspices a Committee 
was formed to collect funds for the pur- 
chase of the property. The Earl of Lytton 
kindly acted as Chairman of the Committee, 
of which the following were members : 
The Marquis of Crewe, the Right Hon. 
James Bryce, the Right Hon. Sir Edward 
Fry, Canon Beeching, Canon Rawnsley, 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 


Mr. G. W. Prothero, Mr. Ernest Hartley 
Coleridge, Mr. J. H. Etherington Smith, 
and the Rev. William Greswell. 

"His Majesty King Edward VII sent 
a message expressing his approval of the 
scheme, and wishing the movement success. 
Her Royal Highness the Princess Louise also 
gave valuable aid by allowing a meeting to 
be held in her rooms at Kensington Palace, 
in support of the fund, on June 7th, 1908, 
at which she herself presided. On this 
occasion, and previously at Taunton, on 
October ist, 1907, and at Malvern, lectures 
in aid of the fund were delivered by Mr. 
Ernest H. Coleridge. 

" By the kindness of Mr. Frederick 
Harrison, the owner of the Haymarket 
Theatre, a matinee was given for the benefit 
of the purchase fund on November 1 3th, 
1908. On this occasion The Ancient 
Mariner^ Ghristabel^ and other poems 
were recited by Miss Lena Ashwell, Miss 
Honor Brooke, the Bishop of Ripon, Lord 


The Coleridge Cottage 

Coleridge, Professor Knight, Mr. Forbes 
Robertson, and Mr. Ernest Hartley Cole- 

" Mr. Andrew Carnegie, of New York, 
contributed the sum of 200 to the fund, 
and a grant of ^50 was made by the 
National Trust for Places of Historic 
Interest or Natural Beauty. 

u As the result of these gifts, and of the 
fund raised by Professor Knight, the Com- 
mittee were able to purchase the property 
in the summer of 1908 ; and in the autumn of 
1 909 it was transferred to the National Trust. 

" In the course of a letter read at the 
drawing-room meeting at Kensington Palace, 
which he was unable to attend. Professor 
Knight wrote : ' It is my belief that these 
" outward and visible signs " of the life that 
was led by our greatest poets, in the places 
where they wrote their immortal works, are 
valuable national assets : and that they will 
be welcomed by posterity as amongst its 
most precious heirlooms.' 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

" It was to secure and preserve the Cole- 
ridge Cottage as a national possession that 
it was bought and confided to the care of the 
National Trust. 

" In the cottage are several portraits and 
pictures given by Lord Coleridge and other 
members of the Coleridge family, and by 
Professor Knight. Amongst them are five 
portraits of the poet, and one of the Rev. 
George Coleridge, Sara Coleridge, and Lord 
Coleridge, together with a framed original 
letter of the poet, and a photograph of some 
Coleridge Memorials, and of the ' Pixies- 
Parlour ' at Ottery St. Mary. There are also 
portraits of Thomas Poole, Joseph Cottle, 
and Charles Lamb, of Albert Goodman and 
Thomas Fanshawe Middleton, as well as 
photographs of Mr. Gillman's house at 
Hampstead, where Coleridge died, and one 
of Heidelberg Castle from a sketch made by 
Dora Wordsworth, when she sailed up the 
Rhine with her father and Coleridge in June, 
1829. The above may be regarded as the 


The Coleridge Cottage 

nucleus of what may be a still more interest- 
ing collection of portraits, relics, and objects 
of interest. 

" There is also a case containing some of 
Coleridge's works, many of important edi- 
tions contributed chiefly by the members of 
the Coleridge family. 

" Outside the cottage, and in the modern 
annexe, a Library is being formed, in which 
it is hoped that a collection may be made of 
books illustrating both Wordsworth and 
Coleridge influences. It may possibly be- 
come a useful Reference Library. Contri- 
butions of books will be gladly welcomed." 

[ "5] 




January 2otb, 1798. The green paths 
down the hill-sides are channels for streams. 
The young wheat is streaked by silver lines 
of water running between the ridges ; the 
sheep are gathered together on the slopes. 
After the wet dark days, the country seems 
more populous. It peoples itself in the 
sunbeams. The garden, mimic of spring, 
is gay with flowers. The purple-starred 
hepatica spreads itself in the sun, and the 
clustering snowdrops put forth their white 
heads, at first upright, ribbed with green ; 
and like a rosebud when completely opened, 
hanging their heads downwards, but slowly 

1 In the original MS. there is no title. The above is 
a descriptive one, given by the editor. 

[ 126] 

Dorothy Wordswortlfs Journal 

lengthening their slender stems. The slant- 
ing woods of an unvarying brown, showing 
the light through the thin net-work of their 
upper boughs. Upon the highest ridge of 
that round hill covered with planted oaks, 
the shafts of the trees show in the light 
like the columns of a ruin. 

21 st. Walked on the hill-tops a warm 
day. Sate under the firs in the park. The 
tops of the beeches of a brown-red, or crim- 
son. Those oaks, fanned by the sea breeze, 
thick with feathery sea-green moss, as a 
grove not stripped of its leaves. Moss cups 
more proper than acorns for fairy goblets. 

22nd. Walked through the wood to Hoi- 
ford. The ivy twisting round the oaks, like 
bristled serpents. The day cold ; a warm 
shelter in the hollies, capriciously bearing 
berries. [Query : Are the male and female 
flowers on separate trees ?J 

2yd. Bright sunshine, went out at three 
o'clock. The sea perfectly calm ; blue, 
streaked with deeper colour by the clouds, 

K [ I2 9 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

and tongues or points of sand ; on our re- 
turn of a gloomy red. The sun gone down. 
The crescent moon, Jupiter and Venus. The 
sound of the sea distinctly heard on the tops 
of the hills, which we could never hear in 
summer. We attribute this partly to the 
bareness of the trees, but chiefly to the 
absence of the singing of birds, the hum of 
insects, that noiseless noise which lives in the 
summer air. 1 The villages marked out by 
beautiful beds of smoke. The turf fading 
into the mountain road. The scarlet flowers 
of the moss. 

24^/6. Walked between half-past three 
and half-past five. The evening cold and 
clear. The sea of a sober grey, streaked by 
the deeper grey clouds. The half -dead 

1 Compare in Keats' " Miscellaneous Poems " : 

" There crept 

A little noiseless noise amongst the leaves 
Born of the very sigh that silence heaves." 
And Coleridge, in The jfcolian Harp : 

" The stilly murmur of the distant sea 
Tells us of silence.' 1 

[ 'So] 

Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal 

sound of the near sheep-bell, in the hollow 
of the sloping coomb, exquisitely sooth- 

2$tb. Went to Poole's after tea. The 
sky spread over with one continuous cloud, 
whitened by the light of the moon ; which, 
though her dim shape was seen, did not 
throw forth so strong a light as to chequer 
the earth with shadows. At once the clouds 
seemed to cleave asunder, and left her in the 
centre of a black-blue vault. She sailed 
along, followed by multitudes of stars, small, 
and bright, and sharp. Their brightness 
seemed concentrated (half-moon). 

26th. Walked upon the hill-tops ; fol- 
lowed the sheep tracks till we overlooked 
the larger coomb. Sat in the sunshine. 
The distant sheep-bells, the sound of the 
stream ; the woodman winding along the 
half-marked road with his laden pony ; locks 
of wool, still spangled with the dewdrops ; 
the blue-grey sea, shaded with immense 
masses of clouds, not streaked ; the sheep 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

glittering in the sunshine. Returned through 
the wood. The trees skirting the wood 
being exposed more directly to the action of 
the sea-breeze, stripped of the net-work of 
their upper boughs, which are stiff and 
erect, like black skeletons ; the ground 
strewed with the red berries of the holly. 
Set forward before two o'clock. Returned 
a little after four. 

2jtb. Walked from seven o'clock till 
half-past eight. Upon the whole an interest- 
ing evening. Only once while we were in 
the wood the moon burst through the in- 
visible veil which enveloped her, the shadows 
of the oaks blackened, and their lines became 
more strongly marked. The withered leaves 
were coloured with a deeper yellow, a 
brighter gloss spotted the hollies ; again 
her form became dimmer, the sky flat, un- 
marked by distances, a white thin cloud. 
The manufacturer's dog makes a strange, 
uncouth howl, which it continues many 
minutes after there is no noise near it but 

[ '3*1 

Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal 

that of the brook. It howls at the murmur 
of the village stream. 

2S//6. Walked only to the mill. 

2<)th. A very stormy day. William 
walked to the top of the hill to see the sea. 
Nothing distinguishable but a heavy black- 
ness. An immense bough riven from one 
of the fir trees. 

30^/6. William called me into the garden 
to observe a singular appearance about the 
moon. A perfect rainbow, within the bow 
one star, only of colours more vivid. The 
semicircle soon became a complete circle, 
and in the course of three or four minutes 
the whole faded away. Walked to the black- 
smith's and the baker's ; an uninteresting 

3ij-/. Set forward to Stowey at half-past 
five. A violent storm in the wood ; sheltered 
under the hollies. When we left home the 
moon immensely large, the sky scattered 
over with clouds. These soon closed in, 
contracting the dimensions of the moon 

[ 133 1 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

without concealing her. The sound of the 
pattering shower, and the gusts of wind, 
very grand. Left the wood when nothing 
remained of the storm but the driving wind, 
and a few scattering drops of rain. Presently 
all clear, Venus first showing herself between 
the struggling clouds ; afterwards Jupiter 
appeared. The hawthorn hedges, black and 
pointed, glittering with millions of diamond 
drops ; the hollies shining with broader 
patches of light. The road to the village of 
Holford glittered like another stream. On 
our return, the wind high ; a violent 
storm of hail and rain at the Castle of 
Comfort. 1 All the heavens seemed in 
one perpetual motion when the rain 
ceased ; the moon appearing, now half- 
veiled, and now retired behind heavy 
clouds, the stars still moving, the roads 
very dirty. 

February \st. About two hours before 
dinner, set forward towards Mr. Bartholo- 
1 An inn near at hand. 
[ 134] 

Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal 

mew's. 1 The wind blew so keen in our 
faces that we felt ourselves inclined to seek 
the covert of the wood. There we had a 
warm shelter, gathered a burthen of large 
rotten boughs blown down by the wind of 
the preceding night. The sun shone clear, 
but all at once a heavy blackness hung over 
the sea. The trees almost roared, and the 
ground seemed in motion with the multi- 
tudes of dancing leaves, which made a rust- 
ling sound, distinct from that of the trees. 
Still, the asses pastured in quietness under 
the hollies, undisturbed by these forerunners 
of the storm. The wind beat furiously 
against us, as we returned. Full moon. She 
rose in uncommon majesty over the sea, 
ascending through the clouds. Sat with the 
window open an hour in the moonlight. 

2,nd. Walked through the wood, and on 
to the Downs before dinner ; a warm plea- 
sant air. The sun shone, but was often 

1 Mr. Bartholomew rented Alfoxden, and sublet the 
house to Wordsworth. 

[ '35] 

Coleridge and IVordsworth 

obscured by straggling clouds. The red- 
breasts made a ceaseless song in the wood. 
The wind rose very high in the evening. 
The room smoked so that we were obliged 
to quit it. Young lambs in a green pasture 
in the coomb, thick legs, large heads, black 
staring eyes. 

yd. A mild morning, the windows open 
at breakfast, the redbreasts singing in the 
garden. Walked with Coleridge over the 
hills. The sea at first obscured by vapour ; 
that vapour afterwards slid in one mighty 
mass along the seashore; the islands and one 
point of land clear beyond it. The distant 
country (which was purple in the clear dull 
air) overhung by straggling clouds that sailed 
over it, appeared like the darker clouds, 
which are often seen at a great distance ap- 
parently motionless, while the nearer ones 
pass quickly over them, driven by the lower 
winds. I never saw such a union of earth, 
sky, and sea. The clouds beneath our feet 
spread themselves to the water, and the clouds 

[ 136] 

Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal 

of the sky almost joined them. Gathered 
sticks in the wood ; a perfect stillness. The 
redbreasts sang upon the leafless boughs. Of 
a great number of sheep in the field, only 
one standing. Returned to dinner at five 
o'clock. The moonlight still and warm as 
a summer's night at nine o'clock. 

4^/6. Walked a great part of the way to 
Stowey with Coleridge. The morning warm 
and sunny. The young lasses seen on the 
hill-tops, in the villages and roads, in their 
summer holiday clothes pink petticoats and 
blue. Mothers with their children in arms, 
and the little ones that could just walk, 
tottering by their side. Midges or small 
flies spinning in the sunshine ; the songs of 
the lark and redbreast; daisies upon the turf; 
the hazels in bloom ; honeysuckles budding. 
I saw one solitary strawberry flower under a 
hedge. The furze gay with blossom. The 
moss rubbed from the palings by the sheep, 
that leave locks of wool, and the red marks 
with which they are spotted upon the wood. 

[ '37] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

$th. Walked to Stowey with Coleridge, 
returned by Woodlands ; a very warm day. 
In the continued singing of birds distin- 
guished the notes of a blackbird or thrush. 
The sea overshadowed by a thick, dark mist, 
the land in sunshine. The sheltered oaks 
and beeches still retaining their brown leaves. 
Observed some trees putting out red shoots. 
Query : what trees are they ? 

6tb. Walked to Stowey over the hills, 
returned to tea ; a cold and clear evening, 
the roads in some parts frozen hard. The 
sea hid by mist all the day. 

jtb. Turned towards Potsdam, but find- 
ing the way dirty, changed our course. 
Cottage gardens the object of our walk. 
Went up the smaller coomb to Woodlands, 
to the blacksmith's, the baker's, and through 
the village of Holford. Still misty over 
the sea. The air very delightful. We saw 
nothing very new, or interesting. 

8M. Went up the Park, and over the tops 
of the hills, till we came to a new and very 

[ '38] 

Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal 

delicious pathway, which conducted us to 
the coomb. Sat a considerable time upon 
the heath. Its surface restless and glittering 
with the motion of the scattered piles of 
withered grass, and the waving of the spiders' 
threads. On our return the mist still hang- 
ing over the sea, but the opposite coast clear, 
and the rocky cliffs distinguishable. In the 
deep coomb, as we stood upon the sunless 
hill, we saw miles of grass, light and glitter- 
ing, and the insects passing. 

9//7. William gathered sticks. . . . 

loth. Walked to Woodlands, and to the 
waterfall. The adder's - tongue, and the 
ferns, green in the low, damp dell. These 
plants now in perpetual motion from the 
current of the air ; in summer only moved 
by the drippings of the rocks. A cloudy day. 

nth. Walked with Coleridge near to 
Stowey. The day pleasant, but cloudy. 

1 2tb. Walked alone to Stowey. Returned 
in the evening with Coleridge. A mild, 
pleasant, cloudy day. 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

1 3^. Walked with Coleridge through the 
wood. A mild and pleasant morning, the 
near prospect clear. The ridges of the hills 
fringed with wood, showing the sea through 
them like the white sky, and still beyond the 
dim horizon of the distant hills, hanging as 
it were in one undetermined line between 
sea and sky. 

\Afth. Gathered sticks with William in the 
wood ; he being unwell, and not able to go 
further. The young birch trees of a bright 
red, through which gleams a shade of purple. 
Sate down in a thick part of the wood. 
The near trees still, even to their topmost 
boughs, but a perpetual motion in those that 
skirt the wood. The breeze rose gently ; 
its path distinctly marked, till it came to the 
very spot where we were. 

1 5//6. Gathered sticks in the further wood. 
The dell green with moss and brambles, and 
the tall and slender pillars of the unbranching 
oaks. I crossed the water with letters ; re- 
turned to William and Basil. A shower 

Dorothy Wordsworth 's Journal 

met us in the wood, and a ruffling 

\6th. Went for eggs into the coomb, 
and to the baker's ; a hail shower ; brought 
home large burthens of sticks, a starlight 
evening, the sky closed in, and the ground 
white with snow before we went to bed. 

ijth. A deep snow upon the ground. 
Wm. and Coleridge walked to Mr. Bartholo- 
mew's, and to Stowey. Wm. returned, and 
we walked through the wood into the 
coombe to fetch some eggs. The sun shone 
bright and clear. A deep stillness in the 
thickest part of the wood, undisturbed except 
by the occasional dropping of the snow from 
the holly boughs. No other sound but that 
of the water, and the slender notes of a red- 
breast, which sang at intervals on the out- 
skirts of the southern side of the wood. 
There the bright green moss was bare at the 
roots of the trees, and the little birds were 
upon it. The whole appearance of the wood 
was enchanting ; and each tree, taken singly, 

[ '4' ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

was beautiful. The branches of the holly 
pendent with their white burden, but still 
showing their bright red berries, and their 
glossy green leaves. The bare branches of 
the oaks thickened by the snow. 

1 8M. Walked after dinner beyond Wood- 
lands. 1 A sharp and very cold evening; first 
observed the crescent moon, a thready bow, 
attended by Jupiter and Venus in their palest 

1 9//6. I walked to Stowey before dinner ; 
Wrn. unable to go all the way. Returned 
alone ; a fine sunny, clear, frosty day. The 
sea still, and blue, and broad, and smooth. 

2oth. Walked after dinner towards Wood- 
lands. Coleridge came in the morning, 
which prevented our walking. Wm. went 
through the wood with him towards Stowey; 
a very stormy night. 

1 This house was afterwards John Kenyon's, to 
whom Aurora Leigh is dedicated, and was subsequently 
the residence of the Rev. William Nichols, author of The 
Quant ocks and their Associations. ED. 

[ '4* ] 

Dorothy JVordswortti s Journal 

22nd. Coleridge came in the morning to 
dinner. Wm. and I walked after dinner 
to Woodlands ; the moon and two planets ; 
sharp and frosty. Met a razor-grinder with 
a soldier's jacket on, a knapsack upon his 
back, and a boy to drag his wheel. The sea 
very black, and making a loud noise as we 
came through the wood, loud as if disturbed, 
and the wind was silent. 

2^rd. William walked with Coleridge in 
the morning. I did not go out. 

2\th. Went to the hill-top. Sat a con- 
siderable time, overlooking the country to- 
wards the sea. The air blew pleasantly round 
us. The landscape mildly interesting. The 
Welsh hills capped by a huge range of 
tumultuous white clouds. The sea, spotted 
with white, of a bluish grey in general, and 
streaked with darker lines. The near shores 
clear; scattered farmhouses, half-concealed 
by green mossy orchards, fresh straw lying at 
the doors ; hay-stacks in the fields. Brown 
fallows, the springing wheat, like a shade of 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

green over the brown earth, and the choice 
meadow-plots, full of sheep and lambs, of a 
soft and vivid green; a few wreaths of blue 
smoke, spreading along the ground ; the oaks 
and beeches in the hedges retaining their 
yellow leaves; the distant prospect on the 
land-side, islanded with sunshine; the sea, 
like a basin full to the margin; the dark,' 
fresh-ploughed fields; the turnips of a lively 
rough green. Returned through the wood. 
25//&. I lay down in the morning ; though 
the whole day was very pleasant, and the 
evening fine. We did not walk. 

26/& Coleridge came in the morning, and 
Mr. 1 and Mrs. Cruikshank ; walked with 
Coleridge nearly to Stowey after dinner. A 
very clear afternoon. We lay sidelong upon 
the turf, and gazed on the landscape till it 
melted into more than natural loveliness. 
The sea very uniform, of a pale greyish blue, 
only one distant bay, bright and blue as a sky ; 
had there been a vessel sailing up it, a perfect 
1 Of Nether Stowey, the agent of the Earl of Egmont. 
C '44 ] 

Dorothy Wordsworth 's Journal 

image of delight. Walked to the top of a 
high hill to see a fortification. Again sat 
down to feed upon the prospect ; a magnifi- 
cent scene, curiously spread out for even 
minute inspection, though so extensive that 
the mind is afraid to calculate its bounds. A 
winter prospect shows every cottage, every 
farm, and the forms of distant trees, such as 
in summer have no distinguishing mark. On 
our return, Jupiter and Venus before us. 
While the twilight still overpowered the 
light of the moon, we were reminded that 
she was shining bright above our heads, by 
our faint shadows going before us. We had 
seen her on the tops of the hills, melting into 
the blue sky. Poole called while we were 

zjth. I walked to Stowey in the evening. 
Wm. and Basil went with me through the 
wood. The prospect bright, yet mildly beauti- 
ful. The sea big and white, swelled to the 
very shores, but round and high in the middle. 
Coleridge returned with me, as far as the 

L [H5] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

wood. A very bright moonlight night. 
Venus almost like another moon. Lost to us 
at Alfoxden long before she goes down into 
the large white sea. 

March \st. We rose early. A thick fog 
obscured the distant prospect entirely; but 
the shapes of the nearer trees, and the dome 
of the wood, dimly seen and dilated. It 
cleared away between ten and eleven. The 
shapes of the mist, slowly moving along, ex- 
quisitely beautiful. Passing over the sheep 
they almost seemed to have more of life than 
those quiet creatures. The unseen birds sing- 
ing in the mist. 1 

2nd. Went a part of the way home with 
Coleridge in the morning. Gathered fir- 
apples afterwards under the trees. 

yd. I went to the shoemaker's. William 
lay under the trees till my return. After- 
wards went to the secluded farmhouse in 

1 Compare The Rec/use, i. 91 : 

" Her voice was like a hidden bird that sang." 

Dorothy Wordsworth y s Journal 

search of eggs, and returned over the hill. 
A very mild, cloudy evening. The rose trees 
in the hedges and the elders budding. 

trth. Walked to Woodlands after dinner, 
a pleasant evening. 

5//6. Gathered fir-apples. A thick fog 
came on. Walked to the baker's and the 
shoemaker's, and through the fields towards 
Woodlands. On our return, found Tom 
Poole in the parlour. He drank tea with us. 

6tb. A pleasant morning, the sea white 
and bright, and full to the brim. I walked 
to see Coleridge in the evening. William 
went with me to the wood. Coleridge very 
ill. It was a mild, pleasant afternoon, but 
the evening became very foggy. When I 
was near Woodlands, the fog overhead be- 
came thin, and I saw the shapes of the 
Central Stars. Again it closed, and the 
whole sky was the same. 

jth. William and I drank tea at Cole- 
ridge's. A cloudy sky. Observed nothing 
particularly interesting, the distant prospect 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

obscured. One only leaf upon the top of a 
tree the sole remaining leaf danced round 
and round, like a rag blown by the wind. 1 

%th. Walked in the Park in the morning. 
I sate under the fir trees. Coleridge came 
after dinner, so we did not walk again. A 
foggy morning, but a clear, sunny day. 

()th. A clear, sunny morning, went to 
meet Mr. and Mrs. Coleridge. The day 
very warm. 

\Qth. Coleridge, Wm. and I walked in 
the evening to the top of the hill. We 
all passed the morning in sauntering about 
the Park and gardens, the children playing 
about, the old man at the top of the hill 
gathering furze ; interesting groups of human 
creatures, the young frisking and dancing in 
the sun, the elder quietly drinking in the life 
and soul of the sun and air. 

1 Did this suggest the lines in Christabe/? 

" The one red leaf, the last of its clan, 
That dances as often as dance it can, 
Hanging so light, and hanging so high, 
On the topmost twig that looks up at the sky." 

[ '48] 

Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal 

nth. A cold day. The children went 
down towards the sea. William and I walked 
to the top of the hills above Holford. Met 
the blacksmith. Pleasant to see the labourer 
on Sunday jump with the friskiness of a cow 
upon a sunny day. 

1 2tb. Tom Poole returned with Coleridge 
to dinner, a brisk, cold, sunny day ; did not 

1 3//z. Poole dined with us. William and 
I strolled into the wood. Coleridge called 
us into the house. 

\$th. I have neglected to set down the 
occurrences of this week, so I do not recollect 
how we disposed of ourselves to-day. 

i6th. William, and Coleridge, and I 
walked in the Park a short time. I wrote 
to ... William very ill, better in the even- 
ing; and we called round by Potsdam. 

\jth. I do not remember this day. 

i8//6. The Coleridges left us. A cold, 
windy morning. Walked with them half- 

[ H9 1 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

way. On our return, sheltered under the 
hollies, during a hail-shower. The withered 
leaves danced with the hailstones. William 
wrote a description of the storm. 1 

i qth. Wm. and Basil and I walked to the 
hill-tops, a very cold bleak day. We were met 
on our return by a severe hailstorm. William 
wrote some lines describing a stunted thorn. 2 

2oM. Coleridge dined with us. We went 
more than half-way home with him in the 
evening. A very cold evening, but clear. 
The spring seemingly very little advanced. 
No green trees, only the hedges are budding, 
and looking very lovely. 

21 st. We drank tea at Coleridge's. A 
quiet shower of snow was in the air during 
more than half our walk. At our return 
the sky partially shaded with clouds. The 
horned moon was set. Startled two night 
birds from the great elm tree. 

1 See A Whirl-blast from behind the Hill in the Poetical 

2 See The Thorn in the Poetical Works. 

Dorothy Wordsworttis Journal 

22nd. I spent the morning in starching, 
and hanging out linen ; walked through the 
wood in the evening, very cold. 

2.yd. Coleridge dined with us. He 
brought his ballad finished. 1 We walked 
with him to the Miner's house. A beautiful 
evening, very starry, the horned moon. 

24//z. Coleridge, the Chesters, and Ellen 
Cruikshank called. We walked with them 
through the wood. Went in the even- 
ing into the coomb to get eggs ; re- 
turned through the wood, and walked in 
the Park. A duller night than last night : 
a sort of white shade over the blue sky. 
The stars dim. The spring continues to 
advance very slowly, no green trees, the 
hedges leafless ; nothing green but the bram- 
bles that still retain their old leaves, the 
evergreens, and the palms, which indeed are 
not absolutely green. Some branches I ob- 

1 This ballad was finished by February 1 8, 1798. 
(See Early Recollections, by Joseph Cottle, Vol. I, p. 307, 

[ '5' ] 

Coleridge and W^ordsworth 

served to-day budding afresh, and those have 
shed their old leaves. The crooked arm of 
the old oak tree points upwards to the 

2$th. Walked to Coleridge's after tea. 
Arrived at home at one o'clock. The night 
cloudy but not dark. 

26th. Went to meet Wedgwood at Cole- 
ridge's after dinner. Reached home at half- 
past twelve, a fine moonlight night ; half 

2jtb. Dined at Poole's. Arrived at home 
a little after twelve, a partially cloudy, but 
light night, very cold. 

2%th. Hung out the linen. 

2gtb. Coleridge dined with us. 

30^/6. Walked I know not where. 

3U/. Walked. 

April ist. Walked by moonlight. 

2nd. A very high wind. Coleridge came 

to avoid the smoke ; stayed all night. We 

walked in the wood, and sat under the trees. 

The half of the wood perfectly still, while 

[ '52] 

Dorothy Wordsworttis Journal 

the wind was making a loud noise behind 
us. The still trees only gently bowed their 
heads, as if listening to the wind. The 
hollies in the thick wood unshaken by the 
blast ; only when it came with a greater 
force, shaken by the raindrops falling from 
the bare oaks above. 

T^rd. Walked to Crookham, with Cole- 
ridge and Wm. to make the appeal. Left 
Wm. there, and parted with Coleridge at 
the top of the hill. A very stormy after- 
noon. . . . 

4//z. Walked to the sea-side in the after- 
noon. A great commotion in the air, 
but the sea neither grand nor beautiful. A 
violent shower in returning. Sheltered under 
some fir trees at Potsdam. 

5//7. Coleridge came to dinner. William 
and I walked in the wood in the morning. 
I fetched eggs from the coomb. 

6tb. Went a part of the way home with 
Coleridge. A pleasant warm morning, but 
a showery day. Walked a short distance 

[ '53 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

up the lesser coomb, with an intention of 
going to the source of the brook, but the 
evening closing in, cold prevented us. The 
Spring still advancing very slowly. The 
horse-chesnuts budding, and the hedgerows 
beginning to look green, but nothing fully 

7//6. Walked before dinner up the 
coomb, to the source of the brook, and 
came home by the tops of the hills ; a 
showery morning, at the hill-tops ; the view 
opened upon us very grand. 

%tb. Easter Sunday. Walked in the 
morning in the wood, and half way to 
Stowey ; found the air at first oppressively 
warm, afterwards very pleasant. 

tyh. Walked to Stowey, a fine air in 
going, but very hot in returning. The sloe 
in blossom, the hawthorns green, the larches 
in the park changed from black to green in 
two or three days. Met Coleridge in re- 

I was hanging out linen in the 

[ '54] 

Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal 

evening. We walked to Holford. I turned 
off to the baker's, and walked beyond Wood- 
lands, expecting to meet William, met him 
on the hill ; a close warm evening ... in 

\\th. In the wood in the morning, 
walked to the top of the hill, then I went 
down into the wood. A pleasant evening, 
a fine air, the grass in the park becoming 
green, many trees green in the dell. 

1 2tb. Walked in the morning in the 
wood. In the evening up the coomb, fine 
walk. The Spring advances rapidly, multi- 
tudes of primroses, dog-violets, periwinkles, 

i yh. Walked in the wood in the morn- 
ing. In the evening went to Stowey. I 
stayed with Mr. Coleridge. Wm. went to 
Poole's. Supped with Mr. Coleridge. 

\^th. Walked in the wood in the morn- 
ing. The evening very stormy, so we staied 
within doors. Mary Wollstonecraft's life, 
etc., came. 

Coleridge and JVordsworth 

I5//6. Set forward after breakfast to 
Crookham, and returned to dinner at three 
o'clock. A fine cloudy morning. Walked 
about the squire's grounds. Quaint water- 
falls about, around which Nature was very 
successfully striving to make beautiful what 
art had deformed ruins, hermitages, etc. etc. 
In spite of all these things, the dell 
romantic and beautiful, though every- 
where planted with unnaturalized trees. 
Happily we cannot shape the huge hills, 
or carve out the valleys according to our 

ibtb. New moon. William walked in 
the wood in the morning. I neglected to 
follow him. We walked in the park in the 
evening. . . . 

ijtb. Walked in the wood in the morn- 
ing. In the evening upon the hill. Cow- 
slips plentiful. 

i8//z. Walked in the wood, a fine sunny 
morning, met Coleridge returned from his 
brother's. He dined with us. We drank 

C 156] 

Dorothy Wordsworttis Journal 

tea, and then walked with him nearly to 
Stowey. . . . 

2of/j. Walked in the evening up the hill 
dividing the coombs. Came home the 
Crookham way, by "the thorn," and the 
"little muddy pond." Nine o'clock at our 
return. William all the morning engaged 
in wearisome composition. The moon 
crescent. Peter Bell begun. 

Walked a considerable time in the 
wood. Sat under the trees, in the evening 
walked on the top of the hill, found Cole- 
ridge on our return, and walked with him 
towards Stowey. 

2,$tb. Coleridge drank tea, walked with 
him to Stowey. 

26tb. William went to have his picture 
taken. 1 I walked with him. Dined at home. 
Coleridge and he drank tea. 

1 This was the earliest portrait of Wordsworth by 
W. Shuter. It is now in the possession of Mrs. St. John, 
Ithaca, U.S.A. 

[ 157 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

2jtb. Coleridge breakfasted and drank 
tea, strolled in the wood in the morning, 
went with him in the evening through 
the wood, afterwards walked on the 
hills : the moon, a many-coloured sea and 

2S//6, Saturday. A very fine morning, 
warm weather all the week. 

May 6tb, Sunday. Expected the painter, 1 
and Coleridge. A rainy morning very 
pleasant in the evening. Met Coleridge as 
we were walking out. Went with him to 
Stowey ; heard the nightingale ; saw a glow- 

jtb. Walked in the wood in the morning. 
In the evening, to Stowey with Coleridge 
who called. 

8//6. Coleridge dined, went in the after- 
noon to tea at Stowey. A pleasant walk 

qtb. . . . Wrote to Coleridge. 

Wednesday, 1 6tb May. Coleridge, William, 
1 W. Shuter. 

[ 158] 

Dorothy Wordsworth' } s Journal 

and myself set forward to the Cheddar rocks ; 
slept at Bridgwater. 

22W, Thursday? Walked to Cheddar. 
Slept at Cross. 

1 It is thus written in the MS., but the 22nd May, 
1798, was a Tuesday. If the entry refers to a Thurs- 
day, the day of the month should have been written 2^th. 
Dorothy Wordsworth was not exact as to dates. 

r -59 j 



BY far the most important event, in the 
lives both of Coleridge and of Words- 
worth towards the close of their residence in 
Somerset, was what they did during that 
ever memorable, and it may be called 
episodical, walk from Alfoxden along... the 
sea-coast to Lynton. It was " episodical," 
because during it was mentally arranged and 
poetically constructed (although i/hot written 
out in its final form till long afterwards) 
Coleridge's greatest poem, The Ancient 

,It should be remembered that the poem 
is Coleridge's. Wordsworth contributed 
only a few lines to it ; but the dis- 
cussions which the two poets had on the 


The Ancient Mariner 

subject before the remarkable walk of 
the trio began, during its continuance, and 
after their return to Somerset were such 
that it may legitimately be thought of as a 
joint production. Poetic friends such as 
they were do not measure their work, or 
count up their debt to one another, by the 
number of words, sentences, or paragraphs 
which they respectively contribute to the 

Wordsworth dictated the following to 
Miss Fenwick : " In the autumn of 1 797 " 
it was on November I3th "Coleridge, my 
sister, and myself, started from Alfoxden 
pretty late in the afternoon, with a view to 
visit Lynton, and the Valley of Stones near 
to it ; and, as our united funds were very 
small, we agreed to defray the expense of 
the tour by writing a poem to be sent to the 
New Monthly Magazine. Accordingly we 
set off, and proceeded along the Quantock 
hills towards Watchet ; and in the course of 
this walk was planned the poem of The 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

Ancient Mariner^ founded on a dream, as 
Coleridge said, of his friend Mr. Cruik- 
shank. Much the greatest part of the story 
was Coleridge's invention, but certain parts 
I myself suggested ; for example, some crime 
was to be committed, which should bring 
upon the old Navigator as Coleridge after- 
wards delighted to call him the spectral per- 
secution as a consequence of that crime, and 
his own wanderings. I had been reading in 
Shelvock's Voyages^ a day or two before, that 
while doubling Cape Horn, they frequently 
saw albatrosses in that latitude, the largest 
sort of sea-fowl, some extending their wings 
twelve or fourteen feet. ' Suppose,' said 
I, ' you represent him as having killed one 
of these birds on entering the South Sea, 
and that the tutelary spirits of these regions 
take upon them to avenge the crime.' The 
incident was thought fit for the purpose, and 
adopted accordingly. I also suggested the 
navigation of the ship by the dead men, but 
do not recollect that I had anything more to 
[ 164] 

The Ancient Manner 

do with the scheme of the poem. The 
Gloss with which it was subsequently accom- 
panied was not thought of by either of us at 
the time ; at least not a hint of it was given 
to me, and I have no doubt it was a gratuit- 
ous afterthought. We began the composi- 
tion together, on that to me memorable 
evening. I furnished two or three lines at 
the beginning of the poem, in particular : 

And listened like a three years child : 
The Mariner had his will. 

" These trifling contributions, all but one 
(which Coleridge with unnecessary scrupu- 
losity recorded), slipt out of his mind, as 
well they might. As we endeavoured to 
proceed conjointly (I speak of the same 
evening), our respective manners proved so 
widely different, that it would have been 
quite presumptuous in me to do anything 
but separate from an undertaking upon 
which I could only have been a clog. 

" We returned after a few days from a 
delightful tour, of which I have many 

[ '65] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

pleasant, and some of them droll enough 
recollections. We returned by Dulverton 
to Alfoxden. The Ancient Mariner grew 
and grew till it became too important for 
our first object, which was limited to our 
expectation of five pounds ; and we began 
to talk of a volume which was to consist, 
as Mr. Coleridge has told the world, of 
poems chiefly on natural subjects taken from 
common life, but looked at, as much as 
might be, through an imaginative medium. 
Accordingly I wrote The Idiot Boy, Her 
Eyes are Wild, We are Seven, The Thorn, 
and some others. 

" To return to We are Seven, the piece 
that called forth this note, I composed it 
while walking in the grove at Alfoxden. 
My friends will not deem it too trifling to re- 
late that ... I composed the last stanza first, 
having begun with the last line. When it 
was all but finished, I came in and recited 
it to Coleridge and my sister, and said, ' A 
prefatory stanza must be added, and I 
[ 166] 

The Ancient Mariner 

should sit down to our tea-meal with greater 
pleasure if my task was finished.' I men- 
tioned in substance what I wished to be 
expressed, and Coleridge immediately threw 
off the stanza thus : 

A little child, dear brother Jem. 
I objected to the rhyme ' dear brother 
Jem ' as being ludicrous ; but we all en- 
joyed the joke of hitching in our friend 
James T- -'s l name, who was familiarly 
called Jem. He was the brother of the 
dramatist, and this reminds me of an anec- 
dote which it may be worth while here to 
notice. The said Jem got a sight of the 
Lyrical Ballads as it was going through 
the press at Bristol, during which time I 
was residing in that city. One evening he 
came to me with a grave face and said, 
4 Wordsworth, I have seen the volume that 
you and Coleridge are about to publish. 
There is one poem in it which I earnestly 
entreat you will cancel ; for, if published, 
1 James Tobin. 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

it will make you everlastingly ridiculous.' 
I answered that I felt much obliged by the 
interest he took in my good name as a 
writer, and begged to know what was the 
unfortunate piece he alluded to. He said, 
' It is called We are Seven' ' Nay,' said I, 
' that shall take its chance however,' and he 
left me in despair. 

" I have only to add that, in the spring of 
1841 I revisited Goodrich Castle, not having 
seen that part of the Wye since I met the 
little girl there in 1793.* It would have 
given me greater pleasure to have found in 
the neighbouring hamlet traces of one who 
had interested me so much, but that was 
impossible, as unfortunately I did not even 
know her name. The ruin, from its posi- 
tion and features, is a most impressive object. 
I could not but deeply regret that its 
solemnity was impaired by a fantastic new 
castle set up on a projection of the same ridge, 
as if to show how far modern art can go in 

1 See the poem We are Seven. 
[ 168] 

The Ancient Mariner 

surpassing all that could be done by antiquity 
and Nature, with their united graces, re- 
membrances, and associations. I could have 
almost wished for power, so much the 

contrast vexed me, to blow away Sir 

Meyrick's impertinent structure, and all 
the possessions it contains." 

The " structure " referred to is Goodrich 
Court, built in 1828 by Sir Samuel Rush 
Meyrick, a collector of ancient armour, to 
receive and exhibit his extensive store. It 
has been removed from Goodrich to the 
South Kensington Museum. 

It is impossible in this book to refer 
to the critical estimates of The Ancient 
Mariner^ but two descriptive sentences may 
be quoted from Mr. Stopford Brooke. 1 " Few 
poems embrace so much, and the work is all 
of the best class. There are just incidentally 
touched, but touched with perfect pictorial 
skill and truth, at least a dozen aspects of the 
sea: the ship scudding before the stormy 

1 Theology in the English Potts, p. 87. 
[ 169] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

wind towards the south, with sloping masts 
and dipping prow ; the iceberg-covered sea ; 
the great snow-fog over the ocean, dark by 
day, glimmering white in the moonshine ; 
the belt of calms with its dreadful rolling 
swell, and water ' that like a witch's oils, 
burnt green, and blue, and white ' ; the sea in 
the tornado ; the gentle weather of the tem- 
perate seas, and the quiet English harbour. 
Looking at the shortness of the poem, the 
range is very great ; while its accuracy of 
description not the dull accuracy of mere 
portraiture, but poetical accuracy, the thing 
itself described but lit up with a glory of 
feeling, or of association with other things 
is very remarkable." 

It is known, from his own testimony, 
that during his residence at Alfoxden Words- 
worth wrote not only Peter Be//, but 
part of the first book of The Excursion 
that section of it which describes the 
" ruined cottage on a common," where he 
met with " The Wanderer," although the 
[ 170 ] 

The Ancient Mariner 

most part of that book had been written at 
Racedown. Goody Blake and Harry Gill 
and the Anecdote for Fathers were also 
written at Alfoxden. 

In the following year William Hazlitt 
came on a visit to Stowey ; and, after hearing 
Wordsworth read his Peter Be//, he and 
Coleridge took the same journey that the 
former had made with his sister to Lynton. 
He wrote : " We passed Dunster on our 
right, a small town between the brow of 
a hill and the sea. I remember eyeing it 
wistfully as it lay below us ; contrasted with 
the woody scene around, it looked as clear, 
as pure, as embrowned and ideal as any land- 
scape I have seen since, of Caspar Poussin 
or Domenichino's. We had a long day's 
march our feet kept time to the echoes of 
Coleridge's tongue through Minehead by 
the Blue Anchor, and on to Lynton, which 
we did not reach till near midnight, and 
where we had some difficulty in making 
a lodgment. 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

" The view in coming along had been 
splendid. We walked for miles and miles 
on dark brown heaths overlooking the 
Channel, with the Welsh hills beyond, and 
at times descended into little sheltered 
valleys close by the seaside, with a smug- 
gler's face scowling by us, and then had to 
ascend conical hills with a path winding up 
through a coppice to a barren top, like a 
monk's shaven crown, from one of which 
I pointed out to Coleridge's notice the bare 
masts of a vessel on the very edge of the 
horizon, and within the red-orbed disk of 
the setting sun, like his own spectre-ship 
in The Ancient Mariner. At Lynton the 
character of the coast becomes more marked 
and rugged. There is a place called the 
Valley of Rocks, bedded among precipices 
overhanging the sea, with rocky caverns 
beneath, into which the waves dash, and 
where the seagull for ever wheels its scream- 
ing flight. A thunderstorm came on while 
we were at the inn, and Coleridge ran out 
[ 172] 

The Ancient Mariner 

bareheaded to enjoy the commotion of the 
elements in the Valley of the Rocks : but, 
as if in spite, the clouds only muttered 
a few angry sounds, and let fall a few re- 
freshing drops. Coleridge told me that he 
and Wordsworth were to have made this 
place the scene of a prose-tale, which was 
to have been in the manner of, but superior 
to, The Death of Abel? but they had re- 
linquished the design. In the morning of 
the second day we breakfasted luxuriantly 
in an old-fashioned parlour on tea, toast, 
eggs, and honey, in sight of the beehives 
from which it had been taken, and a garden 
full of thyme and wild flowers that had 
produced it. In this room we found a little 
worn-out copy of The Seasons' 1 lying in 
a window -seat, on which Coleridge ex- 
claimed, ' This is true fame/ ' 

"The poem intended to be modelled on 

1 Der Tod Abels (1758) by Solomon Gessner, Swiss 
painter and poet, 1730-1788. 

2 By James Thomson (1700-1748). 

[ 173 1 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

Gessner's Death of Abel was to deal with the 
wanderings of Cain after the murder, and 
the two poets were to collaborate. Coleridge 
dashed off a prose sketch of his portion, but 
Wordsworth did nothing, and the scheme 

Mr. Salmon adds that " Coleridge's stay 
amongst the Quantocks was longer than that 
of Wordsworth, and he returned to his friend 
Poole in 1 807, when he received a visit from 
De Quincey. His connection with the dis- 
trict was more fruitful than Wordsworth's, 
for it embraces his best poetry. . . . Not 
only The Ancient Mariner^ but the first part 
of Christabel was written there. 

"Kubla Khan was the result of a dream 
in a lonely farmhouse between Porlock and 
Lynton ; the poet, who was in ill-health, 
having fallen asleep in his chair. When he 
awaked, he rapidly penned such lines as he 
could recollect; but unhappily he was in- 
terrupted by a visitor, and when again free 
he found that the dream-poem had slipped 

[ 174] 

The Ancient Mariner 

from his memory. At Stowey also Remorse 
was written, and his finest blank-verse poems, 
The Nightingale and Frost at Midnight. This 
was the ' green and silent spot amid the 
hills ' where he experienced his Fears in 
Solitude and here the exquisite Love was 
born. These are the things by which 
Coleridge is remembered as a poet, and 
their birthplace was the Quantock Hills." 

Coleridge's own words, in the TSiographia 
Liter aria (chapter x.), about his work in 
the Quantock district are remarkable. " I 
had considered it a defect in The Task that 
. . . throughout the poem the connections 
are frequently awkward, and the transitions 
abrupt and arbitrary. I sought for a subject 
that should give equal room and freedom for 
description, incident, and impassioned re- 
flections on Men, Nature, and Society, yet 
supply in itself a natural connection to the 
parts, and unity to the whole. Such a subject 
I conceived myself to have found in a stream, 
traced from its source in the hills among the 

[ 175] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

yellow-red moss and conical glass-shaped 
tufts of bent, to the first break or fall, where 
its drops became audible, and it begins to 
form a channel ; thence to the peat and turf 
barn, itself built of the same dark squares 
as it sheltered, to the sheepfold, to the 
first cultivated plot of ground, to the lonely 
cottage and its bleak garden won from the 
heath; to the hamlet^the villages, the market- 
town, the manufactories, and the seaport. 
My walks therefore were almost daily on 
the top of Quantock, and among its sloping 
coombs. With my pencil and memorandum 
book in my hand, I was making studies (as the 
artists call them), and often moulding my 
thoughts into verse, with the objects and 
imagery immediately before my senses. 
Many circumstances, evil and good, inter- 
vened to prevent the completion of the poem, 
which was to have been entitled The Brook. 
Had I finished the work, it was my purpose 
in the heat of the moment to have dedicated 
it to our then committee of public safety as 
[ 176] 

The Ancient Manner 

containing the charts and maps, with which 
I was to have supplied the French Govern- 
ment in aid of their plans of invasion. And 
these too for a tract of coast that, from 
Clevedon to Minehead, scarcely permits the 
approach of a fishing boat. . . . 

" I retired to a cottage in Somersetshire at 
the foot of Quantock, and devoted my 
thoughts and studies to the foundations of 
religion and morals. Here I found myself 
all afloat ; . . . and it was long ere my ark 
touched on an Ararat, and rested." 

[ 177 ] 





TN the afternoon Coleridge took me to 
A Alfoxden. . . . Wordsworth was from 
home, but his sister kept house, and set 
before us a frugal repast. We had free 
access to her brother's poems, the Lyrical 
Ballads ^ which were still in manuscript. I 
dipt into a few of them with great satis- 
faction, and with the faith of a novice. I 
slept that night in an old room with blue 
hangings, and covered with the round-faced 
family portraits of the age of Georges I 
and II ; and from the wooded declivity of 
the adjoining park that overlooked my win- 
dow, at the dawn of day could ' hear the 
loud stag speak.' 1 That morning, soon 
1 The quotation is from Ben Jonson. 
[ 178] 

Some Reminiscences 

as breakfast was over, we strolled into the 
park; and, seating ourselves on the branch 
of an old oak tree, Coleridge read aloud, in 
a sonorous and musical voice, the ballad of 
Betty Foy. I was not critically or scepti- 
cally inclined. I saw touches of truth 
and Nature, and took the rest for granted. 
But, in The Thorn, The Mad Mother, and 
The Complaint of a Poor Indian Woman, I 
felt that deeper passion and pathos which 
have since been acknowledged as characteris- 
tics of the author ; and the sense of a new 
style and a new spirit of poetry came over 
me. It had to me something of the effect 
that arises from the turning up of a fresh soil, 
or the first welcome breath of spring. . . . 

" Coleridge and I walked back to Stowey 
that evening ; and . . . as we passed through 
echoing grove, by fairy stream or waterfall 
in the summer moonlight, he lamented that 
Wordsworth was not prone enough to be- 
lieve in the traditional superstitions of the 
place ; and that, in consequence, there was 

[ 181 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

a something corporeal, a matter-of-factness^ 
a clinging to the palpable (and often to the 
petty) in his poetry. His genius was not 
a spirit that descended to him through the 
air. It sprang out of the ground, like a 
flower; or unfolded itself from a green spray, 
on which the goldfinch sang. He said, 
however, if I remember right, that this 
objection must be confined to his descriptive 
poems. His philosophical poetry had a 
grand and comprehensive spirit in it, so that 
his soul seemed to inhabit the Universe like 
a palace, and to discover truth by intuition 
rather than by deduction. 

" The next day Wordsworth arrived from 
Bristol at Coleridge's cottage. I think I 
see him now. He answered in some degree 
to his friend's description of him, but was 
more gaunt and Don Quixote-like. He was 
quaintly dressed in a brown fustian jacket 
and striped pantaloons. There was some- 
thing of a roll, a lounge in his gait, not 
unlike his own Peter Bell. There was a 
[ 182] 

Some Reminiscences 

severe worn presence of thought about his 
temples, a fire in his eye as if he saw some- 
thing in objects more than the outward 
appearance an intense high narrow fore- 
head, 1 a Roman nose, cheeks furrowed by 
strong purpose and feeling, and a convulsive 
inclination to laughter about the mouth, a 
good deal at variance with the solemn stately 
expression of the rest of his face. Chantrey's 
bust wants the marking traits, but he was 
teazed into making it regular and heavy. 
Haydon's head of him, 2 introduced into his 
Entrance of Christ into Jerusa/em, is the most 
like his drooping weight of thought and 
expression. He sat down and talked, very 
naturally and freely, with a mixture of clear 
gushing accents in his voice, a deep guttural 

1 Wordsworth, who read the MS. of Barron Field's 
Life of Wordsworth still unpublished wrote on the 
side of it, "Narrow Forehead. I went through three 
large magazines of hats in Paris before I could find one 
large enough, and yet my skull is almost cut away 

2 Painted in 1815. 

[ '83] 

Coleridge and W^ordsworth 

intonation, and a strong tincture of the 
northern burr, like the crust in wine. He 
instantly began to make havoc of the half 
of a Cheshire cheese on the table, and said 
triumphantly that 'his marriage with ex- 
perience had not been so unproductive as 
Mr. Southey's in teaching him a knowledge 
of the good things of this life.' He had 
been to see the Castle Spectre, by ' Monk ' 
Lewis, while at Bristol, and described it 
very well. He said, c It fitted the taste of 
the audience like a glove.' . . . Wordsworth, 
looking out of the low-latticed window, 
said, ' How beautifully the sun sits on that 
yelloiv bank* I thought with what eyes 
these poets see Nature; and, ever after, 
when I have seen the sunset streaming on 
the objects facing it, conceived I had made 
a discovery, and thanked Mr. Wordsworth 
for having made one for me. 

" We went over to Alfoxden the follow- 
ing day, and Wordsworth read us the story 
of Peter Bell in the open air ; and the 
[ 184] 

Some Reminiscences 

comment made upon it, by his face and 
voice, was very different from that of some 
later critics. Whatever might be thought 
of the poem, c his face was as a book, where 
men might read strange matters,' ! and he 
announced the fate of his hero in prophetic 
tones. There is a chant in the recitation, 
both of Coleridge and Wordsworth, which 
acts as a spell upon the hearer, and disarms 
the judgment. Perhaps they have deceived 
themselves by making use of this ambiguous 
accompaniment. Coleridge's manner is more 
full, animated, and varied ; Wordsworth's 
more equable, sustained, and internal. The 
one might be termed dramatic, the other 
more lyrical. Coleridge has told me that 
he liked to compose when walking over 
uneven ground, or breaking through the 
straggling copses of a pine wood: whereas 
Wordsworth always wrote if he could 

1 Lady Macbeth says (Macbeth, Act I, Scene 5) : 

" Your face, my Thane, is as a book, where men 
May read strange matters." 

[ 185] 

Coleridge and H^ordsworth 

walking up and down on a straight gravel 
walk, or in some spot where the continuity 
of his verse met with no collateral interrup- 

The reminiscences by Hazlitt, in refer- 
ence to this period, are of much value to 
posterity ; and those of Cottle the publisher 
of Lyrical 'Ballads are of equal, if not of 
greater, interest. His record of the negotia- 
tions which led to the publication of that 
volume is as follows : 

" A visit to Mr. Coleridge at Stowey had 
been the means of my introduction to Mr. 
Wordsworth, who read me many of his 
Lyrical Pieces, when I perceived in them a 
peculiar but decided merit. I advised him 
to publish them, expressing a belief that they 
would be well received. I further said that 
he would be at no risk ; that I would give 
him the same sum which I had given Mr. 
Coleridge and Mr. Southey ; and that it 
would be a gratifying circumstance to me 

Some Reminiscences 

to usher into the world by becoming the 
publisher of the first volumes of three such 
poets as Southey, Coleridge, and Words- 
worth a distinction that might never again 
occur to a provincial publisher." 

On the 1 2th of April, 1798, Wordsworth 
wrote thus to the publisher: 

" MY DEAR COTTLE, . . . You will be 
pleased to hear that I have gone on very 
rapidly adding to my stock of poetry. Do 
come and let me read it to you, under the 
old trees in the Park. We have a little more 
than two months to stay in this place. 
Within these few days the season has ad- 
vanced with greater rapidity than I ever 
remember, and the country becoming almost 
every hour more lovely. God bless you. 
Your affectionate friend, 


Soon afterwards Coleridge invited Cottle to 
see Wordsworth and himself: and on the 9th 
of May Wordsworth wrote from Alfoxden : 

[ 187] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

" DEAR COTTLE, We look for you with 
great impatience. I say nothing of Salisbury 
Plain till I see you. I am determined 
to finish it, and equally so that you shall 
publish. . . . 

" Yours sincerely, 


Then Coleridge wrote to Cottle as follows : 


" Neither Wordsworth nor myself 
could have been otherwise than uncomfort- 
able if any but yourself had received from 
us our first offer of our tragedies, and of the 
volume of Wordsworth's poems. At the 
same time we did not expect that you could, 
with prudence and propriety, advance such 
a sum as we should wish at the time we 
specified. In short, we both regard the pub- 
lication of our tragedies as an evil. It is 
not impossible but that, in happier times, 
they may be brought on the stage ; and to 
throw away this chance for a mere trifle 
[ 188] 

Some Reminiscences 

would be to make the present moment act 
fraudulently and injuriously towards the 
future time. 

" My tragedy employed and strained all 
my thoughts and fancies for six or seven 
months. Wordsworth consumed far more 
time, far more thought, and far more genius. 
We consider the publication of them an evil 
on any terms ; but our thoughts were bent 
on a plan, for the accomplishment of which 
a certain sum of money was necessary the 
whole at that particular time and, in order 
to that, we resolved (although reluctantly) 
to part with our tragedies ; that is, if we 
could obtain thirty guineas for each, and at 
less than thirty guineas Wordsworth will not 
part with the copyright of his volume of 
poems. We shall offer the tragedies to no 
one, for we have determined to procure the 
money some other way. If you choose the 
volume of poems at the price mentioned, to 
be paid at the time specified, i.e. thirty 
guineas, to be paid sometime the last fort- 

[ 189] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

night of July, you may have them ; but 
remember I now write to you merely as a 
bookseller, and entreat you, in your answer, 
to consider yourself only. 

" Wordsworth has been caballed against so 
long and so loudly, that he has found it im- 
possible to prevail on the tenant of the Alfox- 
den estate to let him the house after the 
first agreement is expired, so he must quit it 
at Midsummer. Whether we shall be able 
to procure him a house and furniture near 
Stowey we know not, and yet we must : for 
the hills, and the woods, and the streams, and 
the sea, and the shores would break forth 
into reproaches against us, if we did not 
strain every nerve to keep their poet among 

Cottle added : 

" In consequence of their conjoint invita- 
tion, I spent a week with Mr. Coleridge and 
Mr. Wordsworth at Alfoxden house ; and 
during this time (besides the reading of MSS. 

Some Reminiscences 

poems) they took me to Linmouth, and Lin- 
ton, and the Valley of Stones. 

" At this interview it was determined that 
the volume would be published under the 
title of Lyrical Ballads, on the terms stipu- 
lated in a former letter ; that this volume 
should not contain the poem of Salisbury 
Plain, but only an extract from it ; that it 
should not contain the poem of Peter Bell, 
but consist rather of sundry shorter poems ; 
and, for the most part, of pieces more recently 
written. I had recommended two volumes, 
but one was fixed on, and that to be pub- 
lished anonymously. It was to be begun 
immediately, and with The Ancient Mariner, 
which poem I had brought with me to 

The following letter to the Rev. J. P. 
Estlin, Unitarian minister at Bristol, written 
by Coleridge at the same time that his 
Kubla Khan was composed has a special 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

interest, in its disclosure of what lay deep 
within the nature of both of the poets : 
Coleridge's latent and under-working belief, 
and Wordsworth's reluctance to discuss re- 
ligious matters even with a specially intimate 
friend if their " data were dissimilar " : Cole- 
ridge's testimony is very memorable, that it 
was his (Wordsworth's) "practice,and almost 
his nature, to convey all the truth he knows 
without any attack on what he supposes 
falsehood, if that falsehood be interwoven 
with virtues or happiness." It deserves to be 
written within his biography in letters of 
gold, for few men knew better than he did 
" when to keep silence, and when to speak " 
on the arcana of Religion. 

"May, 1798. 

" I write from Cross, to which place I 
accompanied Mr. Wordsworth, who will 
give you this letter. We visited Cheddar, 
but his main business was to bring back 
poor Lloyd. . . . But Lloyd (as we found by a 
letter that met us on the road) is off for 

[ 192 ] 

Some Reminiscences 

Birmingham. Wordsworth proceeds, but 
possibly Lloyd may not be gone ; and like- 
wise to see his own Bristol friends, as he is 
so near them. I have now known him a 
year and some months ; and my admiration, 
I might say my awe, of his intellectual 
powers has increased even to this hour : and 
(what is of more importance) he is a tried 
good man. On one subject we are habitu- 
ally silent : we found our data dissimilar, 
and never renewed the subject. It is his 
practice, and almost his nature, to convey all 
the truth he knows without any attack on 
what he supposes falsehood, if that falsehood 
be interwoven with virtues or happiness. 
He loves and venerates Christ and Chris- 
tianity. I wish he did more : but it were 
wrong indeed if an incoincidence with one 
of our wishes altered our respect and affec- 
tion to a man of whom we are, as it were, 
instructed by our great Master to say that, 
not being against us, he is for us. His 
genius is most apparent in poetry, and rarely 

[ 193 1 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

to me except in tete-a-tete breaks forth in 
conversational eloquence. 

"Believe me with filial and fraternal friend- 
ship, your grateful, 


Two paragraphs from another letter of 
Coleridge's to Joseph Cottle written from 
Stowey on March 8th, 1798 should have 
had an earlier place chronologically ; but 
they are relevant anywhere : " The Giant 
Wordsworth God love him. Even when 
I speak in terms of admiration due to his 
intellect, I fear lest those terms should keep 
out of sight the amiableness of his manners. 
. . . He has written more than 1200 lines 
of blank verse ; superior, I hesitate not to 
aver, to anything in our language which any 
way resembles it. Poole (whom I feel so 
consolidated with myself that I seem to have 
no occasion to speak of him out of myself) 
thinks of it as likely to benefit mankind 
much more than anything Wordsworth has 
yet written. 

[ 194 ] 

Some Reminiscences 

" With regard to my poems, I shall prefix 
the Maid of Orleans, 1000 lines, and three 
blank-verse poems making all three about 
200 and I shall utterly leave out perhaps a 
larger quantity of lines : and, I think, it 
would answer you in a pecuniary way to 
print the third edition humbly and cheaply. 
My alterations on the Religious Musings will 
be considerable, and will lengthen the poem. 
. . . God bless you and S. T. C." 

The Nightingale, a Conversational Poem 
(April, 1798), is an obscure mirror of the 
" three people with one soul," as Coleridge 
so happily put it. 

I am of opinion that, during these prolific 
years, Wordsworth's influence over Coleridge 
was stronger, and in its results more endur- 
ing, than was Coleridge's over his great 
poetic brother. It was not so alert and 
nimble-witted as Coleridge's was over all 
with whom he came into contact ; but it 
was deeper and more permanent. The rapid 
assimilative (as well as creative) genius of 

Coleridge and W^ordsworth 

Coleridge seized, and took in with avidity, 
the earliest touches of Wordsworth's imagina- 
tive insight ; but the latter received, and 
brooded over what he received, before he 
fully assimilated, or took it in. 

But everyone who is even remotely familiar 
with this literary period, and with the Quan- 
tock district of South Britain, must know that 
Coleridge led in it a tentative and somewhat 
anxious existence; notwithstanding his own 
frequent allusions to happiness. His rare 
genius was maturing in many and various 
directions ; but as to such urgent practical 
matters as his own, and instar omnium his 
family's maintenance while there was no- 
thing to provide for them, either from 
himself or from others the case seemed 
desperate. It must be owned with sadness 
that Coleridge had not, at that or at any 
future time, a real insight into the existing 
state of affairs, or the requisite practical 
sagacity to cope with it. 

[ 196] 



IN "January 1798" (thus dated), Cole- 
ridge wrote to Wordsworth : 

" You know, of course, that I have ac- 
cepted the magnificent liberality of Josiah 
and Thomas Wedgwood. 1 I accepted it 
on the presumption that I had talents, 
honesty, and propensities to perseverent 
effort. I have hoped wisely against myself. 
I have acted justly. But, dismissing severer 
thoughts, believe me, my dear fellow, that 
of the pleasant ideas which accompanied 
this unexpected event, it was not the least 
pleasant nor did it pass through my mind 
the last in the procession, that I should at 

1 It was a proposal to settle on Coleridge " an 
annuity of 150, to be regularly paid by us, no condition 
whatever being annexed to it." 

[ '97] 

Coleridge and JVordsworth 

least be able to trace the spring and early 
summer at Alfoxden with you ; and that, 
wherever your after-residence may be, it is 
probable that you will be within reach of 
my tether, lengthened as it now is. The 
country round Shrewsbury is rather tame. 
My imagination has clothed it with all its 
summer attributes : but I still can see in it 
the possibility beyond that of beauty. The 
Society here were sufficiently eager to have 
me as their minister ; and, I think, would 
have behaved kindly and respectfully ; but 
I perceive clearly that without great courage 
and perseverance in the use of the mono- 
syllable No ! I should be plunged in the 
very maelstrom of visiting whirled round, 
and round, and round never changing yet 
always moving. Visiting, with all its 
pomps and vanities, is the mania of the 
place ; and many of the congregation are 
both rich and expensive. ..." 

On the 3Oth of January, 1798, Coleridge 
wrote in a great hurry, in Cottle's bookshop 
[ 198] 

Last Days in Somerset 

at Bristol : "I received an invitation from 
Shrewsbury to be the Unitarian minister, 
and at the same time an order for 100 
from Thomas and Josiah Wedgwood. I 
accepted the former, and returned the latter 
in a long letter explanatory of my motive, 
and went off to Shrewsbury, where they 
were on the point of electing me unani- 
mously, and with unusual marks of affection, 
when I received an offer from T. and J. 
Wedgwood of an annuity of ^150 to be 
legally settled on me. Astonished, agitated, 
and feeling as I could not help feeling, I 
accepted the offer in the same worthy spirit, 
I hope, in which it was made, and returned 
from Shrewsbury." 

Shortly afterwards Wordsworth wrote to 
fames Tobin : 

"ALFOXDEN, March 6, 1798. 
" MY DEAR TOBIN, I have long wished 
to thank you for your letter and Gustavus 
Vasa. The tragedy is a strange composition 

[ '99 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

of genius and absurdity. . . . There is little 
need to advise me against publishing : it 
is a thing which I dread as much as death 
itself. This may serve as an example of the 
figure by rhetoricians called hyperbole, but 
privacy and quiet are my delight. No doubt 
you have heard of the munificence of the 
Wedgwoods towards Coleridge. I hope the 
fruit will be good, as the seed is noble. We 
leave Alfoxden at midsummer. The house 
is let to Crewkshank, of Stowey, so our 
departure is decided. What may be our 
destination I cannot say. If we can raise 
the money, we shall make a tour on foot : 
probably through Wales, and northwards. 
I am at present utterly unable to say where 
we shall be. We have no particular reason 
to be attached to the neighbourhood of 
Stowey, but the society of Coleridge and 
the friendship of Poole. News we have 
none : our occupations continue the same, 
only I rise early in the mornings. 

" I have written 1300 lines of a poem in 

[ 200 ] 

Last Days in Somerset 

which I try to convey most of the know- 
ledge of which I am possessed. 1 My object 
is to give pictures of Nature, Man, and 
Society. Indeed, I know not anything 
which will not come within the scope of 
my plan. . . ." 

On March 1 1 of the same year Words- 
worth wrote from Alfoxden to his friend, 
James Losh, at Carlisle : 

" . . . Perhaps you have heard of the 
unexampled liberality of the Wedgwoods 
towards Coleridge. They have settled an 
annuity of ^150 upon him, for life. We 
are obliged to quit this place at midsummer. 
I have already spoken to you of its enchant- 
ing beauty. Do contrive to come and see 
us before we go away. Coleridge is now 
writing by me at the same table. 

" We have a delightful scheme in agita- 
tion, which is rendered still more delightful 
by a probability which I cannot exclude 

1 Doubtless The Recluse, of which The Excursion and 
the Prelude were parts. 

[ 201 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

from my mind that you may be induced to 
join in the party. We have come to a 
resolution Coleridge, Mrs. Coleridge, my 
sister, and myself of going into Germany, 
where we purpose to pass the two ensuing 
years, in order to acquire the German lan- 
guage, and to furnish ourselves with a 
tolerable stock of information in Natural 
Science. Our plan is to settle, if possible, 
in a village near a University, in a pleasant 
and if we can a mountainous country. 
It will be desirable that the place should be 
as near as may be to Hamburgh, on account 
of the expense of travelling. What do you 
say to this ? I know that Cecilia Baldwin 
has great activity and spirit ; may I venture 
to whisper a wish to her that she would 
consent to join this little colony? I have 
not forgotten your apprehensions from sea- 
sickness : there may be many other obstacles 
which I cannot divine. I cannot, however, 
suppress wishes which I have so ardently 
felt. ... I have been tolerably industrious 

[ 202 ] 

Last Days in Somerset 

within the last few weeks. I have written 
706 lines of a poem which I hope to make 
of considerable utility. Its title will be 
1 The Recluse, or Views of Nature, Man, 
and Society. . . .' 

" Your affectionate friend, 


In April, 1798, Coleridge wrote to his 
brother, the Rev. George Coleridge : 

" . . .1 love fields, and woods, and moun- 
tains with almost a visionary fondness "; and 
to the Rev. J. P. Estlin, in May: "I have 
now known Wordsworth for a year and 
some months, and my admiration I might 
say my love for his intellectual powers has 
increased even to this hour ; and, what is of 
more importance, he is a tried good man. 


There is both a personal and a literary 
pathos in the last book of Wordsworth's 
Prelude, in which he refers to that final 
[ 203 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

season which the two poets spent in their 
much-loved Somerset retreats. Helped by 
the Lloyd legacy, the genius of Coleridge 
sprang up, joyous in its work, elastic in its 
expression, jubilant in its tone, original in 
its outcome, and even triumphant in its 
results. They were the very happiest days 
in his troublous and at times tempestuous 

The Wordsworths left Alfoxden on the 
26th of June, 1798, and stayed with the 
Coleridges at Stowey for a week. Thence 
they travelled on foot to Bristol, were the 
guests of Cottle, the poets' publisher, for 
another week, arranging details as to the 
issue of Lyrical Ballads. From Bristol they 
crossed the Severn ferry, and walked ten 
miles to Tintern Abbey on the banks of the 
Wye. The next day they walked along the 
banks of the river to Monmouth and Good- 
rich Castle, going back on the following 
morning to Tintern, thence to Chepstow, 
and from Chepstow by boat back to Tin- 

[ 20 4 ] 

Last Days in Somerset 

tern, where they slept, returning in a small 
vessel to Bristol. 

Wordsworth wrote : " The Wye is a 
stately and majestic river from its width 
and depth, but never slow or sluggish. You 
can always hear its murmur. It travels 
through a woody country, now varied with 
cottages and green meadows, and now with 
huge fantastic rocks." 

It was during this return to Bristol that 
the immortal poem on Tintern Abbey was 
composed extemporaneously, and written 
down on arrival at Bristol one of th^ 
greatest feats in the history of poetic work 
in England. In his Fenwick note to these 
lines, the poet said : " No poem of mine was 
composed under circumstances more plea- 
sant for me to remember than this. I began 
it upon leaving Tintern, after crossing the 
Wye, and concluded it just as I was entering 
Bristol in the evening, after a ramble of four 
or five days with my sister. Not a line of 
it was altered, and not any part of it written 
[ 205 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

down till I reached Bristol. It was pub- 
lished almost immediately after in the little 
volume of which so much has been said in 
these notes." 

It is quite unnecessary for me to char- 
acterize the poems minutely in this book ; 
and I wish to refer all who are interested in 
them to the detailed estimates by Mr. Ernest 
Coleridge, Mrs. Sandford, and myself, written 

When the visit to the Wye had ended, 
Wordsworth took rooms in Bristol with his 
sister to superintend the printing and issue 
of the Lyrical Ballads. Coleridge visited 
them during that time the latter part of 
August, 1798. 

On the 27th of that month they reached 
London, having passed through Oxford and 
visited Blenheim. On the i6th of Sep- 
tember they left Yarmouth for Hamburgh, 
but what they did in Germany cannot be 
recorded in this small volume. 




A FTER concluding the account of the 
-XA. final days spent by the two poets in 
Somerset, it may be of use to readers of 
this book for me to include in it some 
parts of those remarkable notes which 
Wordsworth dictated late in life to his sec- 
retarial friend, Miss Isabella Fenwick, so 
far as they are explanatory of the poems 
which he wrote while a resident at Alfox- 
den. There were eighteen of them, which I 
number chronologically. 

i. The Borderers (composed 1795-6). 
Of this tragedy Wordsworth dictated the 
following: "It was composed at Race- 
down, in Dorset, during the latter part 
of the year 1795, and in the following 
p [ 209 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

year. Had it been the work of a later 
period of life, the plot would have been 
something more complex ; and a greater 
variety of characters introduced to re- 
lieve the mind from the pressure of inci- 
dents so mournful. My care was almost 
exclusively given to the passions and the 
characters, and the position in which the 
persons in the drama stood relatively to each 
other, that the reader (for I had then no 
thought of the stage) might be moved, and 
to a degree instructed, by lights penetrating 
somewhat into the depths of our nature. 
In this endeavour I cannot think, upon a 
very late review, that I have failed. As to 
the scene and period of action, little more 
was required for my purpose than the 
absence of established law and government, 
so that the agents might be at liberty to act 
on their own impulses." 

2. A Night Piece (1798). "Composed 
on the road between Nether Stowey and 
Alfoxden, extempore." 

The Fenwick Notes 

3. We are Seven (I798). 1 "Written at 
Alfoxden in the spring of 1798. The 
little girl who is the heroine I met within 
the area of Goodrich Castle in the year 
1793. ... I composed it while walking in 
the grove at Alfoxden. ... I composed 
the last stanza first, having begun with the 
last line. When it was all but finished, I 
came in and recited it to Mr. Coleridge and 
my sister, and said, ' A prefatory stanza 
must be added, and I should sit down to our 
little tea-meal with greater pleasure if my 
task was finished.' . . . Coleridge immedi- 
ately threw off the stanza, thus 

A little child, dear brother Jem. 

I objected to the rhyme ' dear brother 
Jem ' as being ludicrous ; but we all enjoyed 
the joke of hitching in our friend James 
Tobin's name, who was familiarly called Jem. 
He was the brother of the dramatist ; and 
this reminds me of an anecdote which it 

1 Much of this note (already quoted) dealt with 
The Ancient Mariner. 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

may be worth while here to notice. The 
said Jem got sight of the Lyrical Ballads as 
it was going through the press at Bristol. . . . 
One evening he came to me with a grave 
face and said, 'Wordsworth, I have seen the 
volume that you and Coleridge are about to 
publish. There is one poem in it which I 
earnestly entreat you will cancel ; for, if 
published, it will make you everlastingly 
ridiculous. . . . It is called, We are Seven.' 
' Nay,' said I, ' that shall take its chance 
however,' and he left me in despair." 

4. Anecdote for Fathers (1798). "This 
was suggested in front of Alfoxden. The 
boy was a son of my friend Basil Montagu, 
who had been two or three years under 
our care. The name Kilve is from a 
village on the Bristol Channel, about a mile 
from Alfoxden, and the name of Liswyn 
Farm was taken from a beautiful spot on the 
Wye, where Mr. Coleridge, my sister, and I 
had been visiting the famous John Thelwall. 
. . . The visit of this man to Coleridge was 

[ 212 ] 

The Fenwick Notes 

the occasion of a spy being sent by Govern- 
ment to watch our proceedings, which were 
such as the world at large would have 
thought ludicrously harmless." 

5. A Whirl-blast from behind the Hill 
(1798). "Observed in the holly-grove at 
Alfoxden, where these verses were written 
in the spring of 1798." 

6. The Thorn (1798) "arose out of my 
observing, on the ridge of Quantock Hill, 
on a stormy day, a thorn, which I had 
often passed in calm and bright weather 
without noticing it. I said to myself : 
' Cannot I by some invention do as much to 
make this thorn permanently and as im- 
pressive object as the storm has made it to 
my eyes at this moment ? ' I began the 
poem accordingly, and composed it with 
great rapidity. Sir George Beaumont painted 
a picture from it, which Wilkie thought 
his best. The sky in this picture is nobly 
done, but it reminds one too much of 

[ 2I 3 1 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

7. Goody Blake and Harry Gill (1798). 
" Written at Alfoxden. The incident is 
from Dr. Darwin's Zoonomia. It is 
founded on a well-authenticated fact which 
happened in Warwickshire." 

8. Her Eyes are Wild (1798). " Written 
at Alfoxden. The subject was reported to 
me by a lady of Bristol, who had seen the 
poor creature." 

9. Simon Lee, the Old Huntsman (1798). 
" This old man had been huntsman to 
the squires of Alfoxden, which, at the 
time we occupied it, belonged to a minor. 
The old man's cottage stood upon the com- 
mon, a little way from the entrance to 
Alfoxden Park. But it had disappeared. 
Improvements but rarely appear such to 
those who, after long intervals of time, re- 
visit places they have had much pleasure in. 
The expression when the hounds were 
out, ' I dearly love their voice,' was word for 
word from his own lips." 

10. Lines written in Early Spring (1798). 

The Fenwick Notes 

" Actually composed while I was sitting 
by the side of the brook that runs down 
from the coomb, in which stands the village 
of Alfoxden. It was a chosen resort of 
mine. The brook ran down a sloping 
rock, so as to make a waterfall, considerable 
for that county : and across the pool below 
had fallen a tree an ash, if I rightly re- 
member from which rose perpendicularly 
boughs in search of the light intercepted by 
the deep shade above. The boughs bore 
leaves of green, that for want of sunshine 
had faded into almost lily-white ; and from 
the underside of this natural sylvan bridge 
depended long and beautiful tresses of ivy, 
which waved gently in the breeze, that 
might, poetically speaking, be called the 
breath of the waterfall. This motion varied, 
of course, in proportion to the power of 
water in the brook. When, with dear friends, 
I revisited this spot, after an interval of 
more than forty years, 1 this interesting 
1 It was on May 13, 1841. 


Coleridge and IVordsworth 

feature of the scene was gone. To the 
owner of the place I could not but regret 
that the beauty of this retired part of the 
grounds had not tempted him to make it 
more accessible by a path, not broad or 
obtrusive, but sufficient for persons who 
love such scenes to creep along without 

ii. To my Sister (1798). " Composed in 
front of Alfoxden House. My little boy- 
messenger on this occasion was the son 
of Basil Montagu. The larch mentioned 
in the first stanza was standing when I re- 
visited the place, more than forty years after. 
I was disappointed that it had not improved 
in appearance as to size, nor had it acquired 
anything of the majesty of age which, even 
though less perhaps than any other tree, the 
larch sometimes does. A few score yards 
from this tree there grew, when we inhabited 
Alfoxden, one of the most remarkable beech 
trees ever seen. The ground sloped both 
toward and from it. It was of immense 

The Fenwick Notes 

size, and threw out arms that struck into 
the soil, like those of the banyan tree, and 
rose again from it. Two of the branches 
thus inserted themselves twice, which gave 
to each the appearance of a serpent moving 
along by gathering itself up in folds. One 
of the large boughs of this tree had been 
torn off by the wind before we left Alfox- 
den, but five remained. In 1841 we could 
barely find the spot where the tree had 
stood. So remarkable a production of 
Nature could not have been wilfully de- 

1 2. Expostulation and Reply (1798). "This 
poem is a favourite among the Quakers, as I 
have learned on many occasions. It was 
composed in front of the house of Alfoxden, 
in the spring of 1798." 

13. The Tables Turned ; an Evening Scene y 
on the same subject (1798). 

14. The Complaint of a Forsaken Indian 
Woman (1798). "At Alfoxden, where I 
read Hearne's Journal with deep interest. 

[217 ] 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

It was composed for the volume of Lyrical 

15. The Last of the Flock (1798). " Pro- 
duced at the same time as ' The Com- 
plaint,' and for the same purpose. The 
incident occurred in the village of Holford, 
close by Alfoxden." 

1 6. The Idiot Boy (1798). "The last 
stanza, ' The cocks did crow, to-whoo, 
to-whoo, and the sun did shine so cold/ was 
the foundation of the whole. The words 
were repeated to me by my dear friend 
Thomas Poole ; but I have since heard the 
same repeated of other idiots. Let me add 
that this long poem was composed in the 
quarry of Alfoxden, almost extempore ; not 
a word, I believe, being corrected, although 
one stanza was omitted. I mention this 
in gratitude to those happy moments ; for, 
in truth, I never wrote anything with so 
much glee. ..." 

17. The Old Cumberland Beggar (1798). 
" Observed, and with great benefit to my 


The Fenwick Notes 

own heart, when I was a child. Written at 
Racedown and Alfoxden in my twenty-third 

1 8. Animal Tranquillity and Decay (1798). 
"If I recollect right, these verses were 
an overflowing from The Old Cumberland 

[ 2I 9 ] 



1. Sonnet to the River Otter (1793). 

2. Lines to a Beautiful Spring in a Village (1793). 

3. Melancholy a fragment (1794 ?). 

4. To a Young Ass, its mother tethered near it 


5. To a Friend (Charles Lamb), together with 

an unfinished poem, "Religious Musings" 
(Dec., 1794). 

6. Priestley (Dec. 11, 1794). 

7. La Fayette (Dec. 15, 1794). 

8. Koskiusko (Dec. 16, 1794). 

9. To the Rev. W. L. Bowles (first version, 

Dec. 26, 1794). 

10. To the Rev. W. L. Bowles (second version, 


11. Mrs. Siddons (Dec. 29, 1794). 

12. To Robert Southey (Jan. 14, 1795). 

Coleridge and TVordsworth 

13. To Richard Brinsley Sheridan (Jan. 29, 


14. To Lord Stanhope (Jan. 31, 1795). 

15. To the Rev. W. J. Hort (1795 ?). 

1 6. Charity (1795 - ? )- 

17. To the Nightingale (1795 ?). 

1 8. Lines composed while climbing the last ascent 

of Brockley Coomb, Somersetshire (May, 


19. Lines written at Shurton Bars, near Bridg- 

water, September, 1795, in answer to a 
letter from Bristol. 

20. The ./Eolian Harp, composed at Clevedon, 


21. To the Author of Poems, Joseph Cottle, 

published anonymously at Bristol in Sep- 
tember, 1795. 

22. The Silver Thimble (1795). 

23. Reflections on Having Left a Place of Retire- 

ment (1795). 

24. Religious Musings. A desultory poem, 

written on the Christmas Eve of 1794. 

25. On Observing a Blossom on the First of 

February, 1796. 

26. Count Rumford (1796). 

[ 222 ] 

Appendix II 

27. Fragment, from an unpublished poem 


28. To a Primrose, the first seen in the season 


29. Verses addressed to J. Home Tooke (June 

28, 1796). 

30. Sonnet, on receiving a letter informing me 

of the birth of a son (Sept. 20, 1796). 

31. Sonnet, composed on a journey homeward : 

the author having received intelligence of 
the birth of a son (Sept. 20, 1796). 

32. Sonnet, to a Friend who asked how I felt 

when the nurse first presented my infant to 
me (1796). 

33. To a Young Friend (Charley Lloyd) on his 

proposing to domesticate with the author. 
Composed in 1796. 

34. Sonnet, to Charles Lloyd (1796). 

35. To a Friend (Charles Lamb), who had de- 

clared his intention of writing no more 
poetry (1796). 

36. On a late Connubial Rupture in High Life 


37. The Destiny of Nations. A vision (1796). 

38. Ode on the Departing Year (1796). 

Coleridge and Wordsworth 

39. To the Rev. George Coleridge, of Ottery 

St. Mary, Devon. Nether Stowey, Somer- 
set (May 26, 1797). 

40. On the Christening of a Friend's child (1797). 

41. Translation of a Latin inscription by the Rev. 

W. L. Bowles in Nether Stowey Parish 
Church (1797). 

42. The Foster Mother's Tale. A dramatic frag- 

ment (1797). 

43. The Dungeon (1797). 

44. The Three Graves. A fragment of a 

Sexton's tale (1797-1809). 

45. This Lime -Tree Bower my Prison. Ad- 

dressed to Charles Lamb (1797). 

46. Kubla Khan (1798). 

47. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1797- 


48. Sonnets attempted in the manner of con- 

temporary writers. 

49. To Simplicity. 

50. On a Ruined House in a romantic country 


51. Famine, Fire, and Slaughter (1797). 

52. Christabel (1801). The conclusion to part 

the second (1801 ?). 

[ 22 4 ] 

Appendix II 

53. France : An Ode (February, 1798). 

54. Frost at Midnight (February, 1798). 

55. Fears in Solitude. Written in April, 1798, 

during the alarm of an invasion. Nether 
Stowey, April 20, 1798. 

56. To a Young Lady, Miss Lavinia Poole, on 

her recovery from a fever (March 31, 

57. The Nightingale. A conversation poem, 

written in April, 1798. 

58. Recantation, illustrated in the Story of the 

Mad Ox (July 30, 1798). 

59. Love (1798-1799). 

60. The Ballad of the Dark Ladie, a fragment 


In the Lines composed -while climbing the left ascent of Brcckley Coomb, Somersetshire, 
in May, 1795, the following occurs : 

" Ah ! what a luxury of landscape meets 
My gaze ! Proud towers, and cots more dear to me, 
Elm-shadowed fields, and prospect-bounding sea ! " 

This refers to the view of the coast from Weston-super-Mare to Clevedon, 
along the northern slopes of the Mendip Hills. 



1. The Borderers (1795 and 1796). 

2. A Night Piece (1798). 

3. We are Seven (1798). 

4. Anecdote for Fathers (1798). 

5. A Whirl-blast from behind the Hill (1798). 

6. The Thorn (1798). 

7. Goody Blake and Harry Gill (1798). 

8. Her Eyes are Wild (1798). 

9. Simon Lee, the Old Huntsman (1798). 

10. Lines written in Early Spring (1798). 

1 1. To my Sister (1798). 

12. Expostulation and Reply (1798). 

13. The Tables turned (1798). 

14. The Complaint of a Forsaken Indian Woman 


15. The Last of the Flock (1798). 

16. The Idiot Boy (1798). 

17. The Old Cumberland Beggar (1798). 

1 8. Animal Tranquillity and Decay (1798). 

19. Peter Bell (1798). 

[ 227 ] 



In the L; written at Shurton Bars (which ie near Bridgwater), in September, 
1795, in answer to a letter from Bristol, the following occurs : 

" And hark, my love ! The sea-breeze moans 
Through yon reft house ! " 

Shurton Bars is an ancient and deserted seaport, in Bridgwater Bay. 
The drawing shows the islands of Steepholm and Flatholm, alluded to in 
the poem. 


Acland, Sir Thomas Dyke, 


Acton, 1 02, 103 
Adscombe, Over Stowey, 103 
jEolian Harp, The, 130 note 
Ainger, Canon, 101, 118 
Alfoxden, vii, x, 4, 16, 41, 

55. 6 7 79 8o 8z I0 7 
114, 115, 126-59, 166, 
170, 171, 178-86, 190, 
199-204, 211-19 

Alfoxden Journal, Dorothy 
Wordsworth's, x, 126-59 

" A little child, dear brother 
Jem," 167, 168, 211, 212 

Ancient Mariner, The, 17, 52, 
7> 79 1! 3> I22 > 1 60-6, 
169, 170, 172, 174, 191 

Anecdote for Fathers, 81, 171, 

212, 213 

Animal Tranquillity and Decay, 


Annuity from J. and T. Wedg- 
wood to Coleridge, 197 
and note, 198-201 
Arnold, Matthew, 1 1 7 
Ashwell, Miss Lena, 122 
Athelney, the Abbey of, 103 
Aurora Leigh, 142 note 
A Whirl-blast from behind the 
Hill, 1 50 note, 2 1 3 


Barker, Miss, 87 
Bartholomew, Mr., 135 and 

note, 141 

Beaumont, Sir George, 213 
Bedford, Grosvenor C., 86-90 
Beeching, Dean, 121 
Berkeley, Bishop, 107 

C 22 9 


Betty Foy, 181 

Biographia Liter aria, 6, 98, 

i'5> 175 
Borderers, The, 15, 35 and 

note, 36, 37,67-70,94,207 
Bowles, W. L., 1 1 5 
Bridgwater, 16, 50, 54 
Bristol, 3-15, 60, 206 
Brooke, Stopford, 169 
Brothers, The, 86 
Bryce, James, 121 
Burnett, friend of Coleridge 

and Southey, 1 2 

Calvert, Raisley, 22 
Campbell, Dykes, viii, 50, 51, 


Carnegie, Andrew, 123 
Castle Spectre, The, by " Monk " 

Lewis, 184 

Cave, " Parson Cave," 1 19 
Christ abel, 17, 79, 122, 148 

note, 174 

Clevedon, 15, 108 
Complaint of a Poor Indian 

Woman, 181, 217, 218 
Coleridge Cottage Inn, The, 


Coleridge, Lord, 119, 123,124 

Coleridge, David Hartley, 45, 
51, 52, 103, 105, 107 

Coleridge, Ernest Hartley, 62, 
78, 118, 119, 122, 123, 

Coleridge, the Rev. George, 
51, 124, 203 

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, an- 
nuity from J. and T. Wedg- 
wood to, 197-201 

at Alfoxden, 82 

and his baby- boy, 107 

at Bristol, 3-15 

at Clevedon, 15, ic8 

his friendship for Thomas 
Poole, 72-83 

fund organized by Poole 
for, 50, 54 

- and gardening, 42, 43, 52, 

59. 60 

at Gottingen, viii 

- Hazlitt on, 185 

the marriage of, 1 5 

Charles Mathews, 4 

the poverty of, 50, 54, 78 

preached in Unitarian 
chapels, 50, 54, 114 

published his Pee ms in I 796, 

[ 230 ] 

Coleridge, at Racedown, 6, 

35> 36, 5' 54 55 61, 62 

at Ratzeburg, viii 

at Stowey, vii, 12, 15-17, 
42-56, 59-70, 72-83, 96, 
97, 101-8, 114 

invited to be Unitarian 
minister at Shrewsbury, 
198, 199 

walked to Lynton with 
Hazlitt, 171-3 

walked to Lynton with 
Wordsworth and his sister, 
1 60-6 

walked into Somerset with 
Southey, 1 1 

- Wordsworth criticized by, 

- Wordsworth first met, x, 

3-i 7 35 

- Wordsworth praised by, 

54. 61-3 

Wordsworth's influence 
over, 195-8 

on Dorothy Wordsworth, 


Dorothy Wordsworth's de- 
scription of, 35, 36 

Coleridge, Mrs. Samuel Tay- 
lor (see Sarah Fricker) 

Coleridge, Sara (Mrs. Henry 
Nelson Coleridge), 5-8, 
35. 124 

Coleridge's Stowey cottage ac- 
quired by the nation, 101, 

Coleridge's Poetical Works, 117 

Cottle, Joseph, 48, 49, 54, 

61, 62, 68, 69, 108, 124, 

151 note, 186-91, 194, 

195, 204 

Crewe, the Marquis of, 121 
Crewkshank (see Cruikshank) 
Cruikshank, Lord Egmont's 
agent, 81, 105, 144 and 
note, 1 6.j, 200 

Cruikshank, Mrs., 105, 144 
and note 


Danish Boy, The, 80 
Darwin, Dr., 60 and note, 2 1 4 
Davy, Sir Humphry, 77, 96 
Death of Abel, The, 173 and 

note, 174 

Descriptive Sketches, 10 
De Quincey, 77, 78, 96, 

Dowden, Professor, 1 1 6 

[231 : 


Edward VII, King, 122 
Egmont, Lord, 81, 105 
Escott, T. H., 8 1 
Estlin, the Rev. J. P., 45, 54, 

S9> 6o > 75 I0 4> I0 5 


Evening Walk, An, 10 
Excursion, The, 36 note, 39, 

95, 170, 201 note 
Expostulation and Reply, 217 


Fears in Solitude, 17, 82, 113 
Fenwick, Miss Isabella, 5, 

163, 207 
Fenwick notes, the, 205, 207- 

Fricker, Mrs., 54 

Fricker, Edith (Mrs. Southey), 
8, 12, 67, 108 

Fricker, Sarah (Mrs. Cole- 
ridge), 7, 8, 10, 12, 15, 

45 53 6 7 I0 3 105 
Frost at Midnight, 17, 175 
Fry, Sir Edward, 121 

Germany, Wordsworth and 
Coleridge proposed going 
to, 202 

Gessner, Solomon, 173 note, 

Gillman, James, 4 

Goldsmith, H. St. Barbe, 119 
Goodman, Albert, 124 
Goodrich Castle, 168, 169, 

204, 211 
Goody Blak^e and Harry Gill, 

171, 214 
Goslar, viii 
Gottingen, viii 
Grasmere, Dove Cottage at, 

17, 41, 120, 121 
Greswell, the Rev. William, 

16, 101-25 
Guilt and Sorrow, 68 and note, 


Gustavus Vasa, 199 


Halifax, 1 8 

Harris, manager of Covent 
Garden Theatre, 69 

Harrison, Frederick, of the 

Haymarket Theatre, 122 
Haymarket Theatre matinee, 


Hazlitt, William, 15, 96, 
171-3, 178-86 

Her Eyes are Wild, 166, 214 

History of the Borders, Red- 
path's, 37 

Hutchinson, Mary (Mrs. 
Wordsworth), 5, 6, 32 

Hutchinson, Thomas, n6 


Idiot Boy, The, 80, 1 66, 218 

Joan of Arc Jay Robert Southey, 


Journal, Alfoxden, x, 126-59 
Journal, Hearne's, 217 
Journals, Wordsworth's, 41 


Keats, "Miscellaneous Poems," 

130 note 
Kenyon, John, 142 note 

Keswick, 37, 87 

Kubla Khan, 17,52, 174, 191 

Lamb, Charles, xi, 15, 49, 

51, 63 and note, 64, 75, 

96, 107, 124 
Lamb, Mary, xi 
Last of the Flock, The, 218 
Lewis, " Monk," 184 
Life of Coleridge, by Dykes 

Campbell, viii, 50, 5 1 and note 
Life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 

by James Gillman, 4 
Life of Wordsworth, by Barron 

Field, 183 note 
Lime-Tree Bower my Prison, 

This, 64 and note, 65, 66 
Lines composed while climbing 

Brockley Coomb, 7 
Lines to a Toung Ass, 80 
Lines written at Clevedon, 7 
Lines written at Shurton Bars, 

near Bridgwater, 10 
Lines written in Early Spring, 

Literary Rambles in the West 

of England, 70 and note, 71, 



Lloyd, Charles, 45-7, 49-51, 

59> 75 J92, 193 
Lloyd legacy to Coleridge, 


Losh, James, 201-3 
Louise, Princess, 122 
Lunar rainbow, a, 133 
Lynton, 160, 163, 171-3, 

Lyrical Ballads, 10, 86, 94, 

114, 116, 167, 178, 

186-91, 204, 2O6, 212, 

Lytton, the Earl of, 121 


Mad Mother, The, 181 
Maid of Orleans, 195 
Marshall, Mrs. John (see Jane 


Mathews, Charles, 4 
Mathews, William, 4, 25, 26, 


May, John, 85 
Meeting of Coleridge and 

Wordsworth, the first, x, 


Meyrick, Sir Samuel Rush, 

Michael, 86 

Middleton, Thomas Fanshawe, 

Montagu, Basil, 21, 22, 28, 

31, 212 
Montagu, Basil, junr., 21, 22, 

2 9 3 r > 3 2 > 34 81, 140, 
145, 212, 216 
Myers, Tom, 22 


Nether Stowey (see Stowey) 
New Monthly Magazine, The, 


Newton, Miss, 1 1 8 
Nichols, the Rev. William, 

142 note 
Nightingale, The, 79, 175, 

Night Piece, A, 208 


Ode to Liberty, 82 

Ode to the Departing Tear, 

Old Cumberland Beggar, The, 

218, 219 
Osor/o, 36, 49, 68-70 


Pantisocracy, 12, 84 

Penrith, 18, 37 

Peter Bell, So, 157, 170, 171, 

182, 184, 191 
" Philosophical Undertones of 

Modern Poetry, the," ix 
Pinney, Charles, 9, 21, 32, 

Pinney, John, 7-9, 1 8, 21 

Pixies, 70, 71 

Poems by S. T. Coleridge, 
second edition, 48, 49, 5 1 

Pollard, Jane (Mrs. John 
Marshall), 7, 18, 21-3, 

Poole, Mrs., 105 

Poole, Thomas, 12, 15, 42- 
8, 50, 52, 54, 60-2, 64, 
68, 69, 72-83, 96, 97, 
102, 103, 105, i n, 112, 
114-16, 124, 145, 147, 
149, 152, 155, 174, 194. 

Portrait of Wordsworth, by 
W. Shuter, 157 and note, 

Portraits in Coleridge's cottage, 


Portugal, Southey in, 84-7 
Prelude, The, 38 and note, 39 

and note, 201 note, 203 
Prothero, G. W., 122 

Quantocks, the, 70, 71.93-8, 
103, 106, 114-18, 142 
note, 163, 174-7. i9 6 2I 3 


Racedown, vii, x, 3-7, 15, 
16, 18-41, 54 S5 6l 62 
94, 95, 207 

Racedown, the farmhouse at, 

Rawnsley, Canon, 121 

Recluse, The, 39 and note, 146 
note, 20 1 note, 203 

Reflections on having left a place 
of retirement, 5 1 

Religious belief of Words- 
worth, 192-4 

Religious Musings, 51, 195 

Remorse, 175 

Renan, Henrietta and Ernest, 

Ripon, the Bishop of, 122 



Robinson, Forbes, 123 
Ruined Cottage, The, 15, 36 and 
note, 95 

St. Albyn, Mrs., 98 
St. John, Mrs., 157 note 
Salisbury Plain, 68, 1 88, 191 
Salmon, Arthur L., 70 and 

note, 71, 94, 95, 174 
Sandford, Mrs. Henry, 53, 

76, 98, 206 
Satires written by Wordsworth, 


Seasons, The, Thomson's, 173 
Sheridan, 49 
Shrewsbury, Coleridge invited 

to be Unitarian minister at, 

198, 199 

Shuter, W., 157 note, 158 
Simon Lee, the Old Huntsman, 

80, 214 
Smith, J. H. Etherington, 

Society in the Country House, 81, 

Southey, Robert, 5-11, 28, 

35 62 ~7> 77 84-9. 96, 
108, 116 

Southey, Mrs. (see Edith 

Spy on Coleridge and Words- 
worth, a, 98, 115, 213 

THE, 117-25 

Stowey, vii, 12, 15-17, 42- 
56, 59-70, 72, 96, 97, 
101-25, 181, 204 

Tables Turned, The, 217 

Task, T^> 175 
Taunton, 50, 62, 114 
Thelwall, John, 15, 48, 52, 

60, 61, 96-8, 108, 212 
Theology in the English Poets, 

169 and note, 170 
Thomas Poole and his Friends, 

76, 98, 115 

Thomson, James, 173 note 
Thorn, The, 80, 150 note, 166, 

181, 213 

Tintern Abbey, 205, 206 
Tobin, James, 167 and note, 

199-201, 211, 212 
Toulmin, the Rev. Joshua, 114 
To my Sister, 216, 217 



Unitarian chapels, Coleridge 
preached in, 50, 54, 114, 
198, 199 

Vernon, the Rev. J. R., 119 


Walk of Coleridge and Haz- 
litt to Lynton, 171-3 

Walk of Coleridge, Words- 
worth and his sister to 
Lynton, itfo-6 

We are Serin, 166-9, 2II 

Wedgwood, Josiah and 
Thomas, 197-201 

Whirl-blast from behind the 
Hill, A, 150 note, 213 

Wordsworth, Dora, 124 

Wordsworth, Dorothy, viii, x, 
7, 18, 21-3, 25, 26, 28- 
32, 35-41, 55, 62, 64,67, 
69, 70, 94, 95, 98, 115, 
126-59, 163, 178 

Wordsworth, "William, at Al- 
foxden, vii, x, 4, 16, 41, 

55 79 8o 8z I0 7> i'4 
115, 126-59, 166, 170, 

171, 178-86, 190, 199- 

left Alfoxden, 204 

his share in The Ancient 
Mariner , 163-5 

- at Bristol, 4-10, 18, 35, 

first met Coleridge, x, 3 

17. 35 

his influence over Coleridge, 

195, 196 

Coleridge's criticism of, i o, 
181, 182 

Coleridge's praise of, 54, 
61-3, 194, 203 

and the detective, 83 

in France, 38 

and gardening, 25, 26 

at Goslar, viii 

- in Halifax, 18 

Hazlitt's description of, 

in London, 18, 23 

- in Penrith, 18, 37 

on Thomas Poole, 77 

- Poole's opinion of, 62 


Wordsworth, William, his por- 
trait by W. Shuter, 157 
and note, 158 

at Racedown, vii, x, 3-7, 
15, 18-41, 94, 95, 207 

religious belief of, 192-4 

satires by, 26-8 

and his sister, viii, x, 25, 

26, 37-41, 94, 95. 9 8 

Southey's praise of, 86 

- at Stowey, 15, 16, 55,62, 
64, 204 

Wordsworth, William, walk 
to Lynton with his sister 
and Coleridge, 160-6 

Wordsworth, Mrs. William 
(see Mary Hutchinson) 

Wrangham, Archdeacon, 

Wordsworth's friend, 27, 

Zoonomia, 214