Monday, March 31, 2008

resign the rest

Samuel Taylor Coleridge to Robert Southey

Nether Stowey, July 29, 1799.
I am doubtful, Southey, whether the circumstances which impel me to write to you ought not to keep me silent, and, if it were only a feeling of delicacy, I should remain silent, for it is good to do all things in faith. But I have been absent, Southey! ten months, and if you knew that domestic affection was hard upon me, and that my own health was declining, would you not have shootings within you of an affection which ("though fallen, though changed") has played too important a part in the event of our lives and the formation of our character, ever to be forgotten? I am perplexed what to write, or how to state the object of my writing. Any participation in each other's moral being I do not wish, simply because I know enough of the mind of man to know that [it] is impossible. But, Southey, we have similar talents, sentiments nearly similar, and kindred pursuits; we have likewise, in more than one instance, common objects of our esteem and love. I pray and entreat you, if we should meet at any time, let us not withhold from each other the outward expressions of daily kindliness; and if it be no longer in your power to soften your opinions, make your feelings at least more tolerant towards me (a debt of humility which assuredly we all of us owe to our most feeble, imperfect, and self-deceiving nature). We are few of us good enough to know our own hearts, and as to the hearts of others, let us struggle to hope that they are better than we think them, and resign the rest to our common Maker. God bless you and yours.
S. T. Coleridge.

-from Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge Edited by Ernest Hartley Coleridge in Two Volumes (London: William Heinemann, 1895) vol. 1.

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