Monday, May 14, 1798.
My Dear Friend,
I ought to have written to you before; and have done very wrong in not writing. But I have had many sorrows and some that bite deep; calumny and ingratitude from men who have been fostered in the bosom of my confidence! I pray God that I may sanctify these events by forgiveness and a peaceful spirit full of love. This morning, half-past one, my wife was safely delivered of a fine boy*; she had a remarkably good time, better if possible than her last, and both she and the child are as well as can be. By the by, it is only three in the morning now. I walked in to Taunton and back again, and performed the divine services for Dr. Toulmin. I suppose you must have heard that his daughter, in a melancholy derangement, suffered herself to be swallowed up by the tide on the sea-coast between Sidmouth and Bere. These events cut cruelly into the hearts of old men; but the good Dr. Toulmin bears it like the true practical Christian, there is indeed a tear in his eye, but that eye is lifted up to the Heavenly Father.
I have been too neglectful of practical religion I mean, actual and stated prayer, and a regular perusal of scripture as a morning and evening duty. May God grant me grace to amend this error, for it is a grievous one! Conscious of frailty I almost wish (I say it confidentially to you) that I had become a stated minister, for indeed I find true joy after a sincere prayer; but for want of habit my mind wanders, and I cannot pray as often as I ought. Thanksgiving is pleasant in the performance; but prayer and distinct confession I find most serviceable to my spiritual health when I can do it. But though all my doubts are done away, though Christianity is my passion, it is too much my intellectual passion, and therefore will do me but little good in the hour of temptation and calamity.
My love to Mrs. E. and the dear little ones, and ever, O ever, believe me, with true affection and gratitude, Your filial friend,
S. T. Coleridge
* Berkeley Coleridge, born May 14, 1798, died February 10, 1799.
-from Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge Edited by Ernest Hartley Coleridge in Two Volumes (London: William Heinemann, 1895) vol. 1.