April 24 1812: Coleridge's Delicate Business

On April 24 1812, Samuel Taylor Coleridge writes to his wife Sarah. He begins the letter with a playful story about the character of Dr. Samuel Dove. He ends the letter by talking about his lectures and the new editions of his magazine the "Friends." He wants the next edition to come out during the "flush and fresh breeze of my popularity". Coleridge tells Sarah that to complete the magazine he needs some essays from Mr. Wordsworth.  He wants Robert Southey to write to Wordsworth to get the "two finishing Essays on Epitaphs". In his words, it is a "delicate business" because of Coleridge's feud with Wordsworth.  Coleridge's letter is reproduced below: 

71, Berners Street, April 24, 1812.
My DEAR Sara, — Give my kind love to Southey, and inform him that I have, egomet his ipsis meis oculisseen Nobs, alive, well, and in full fleece; that after the death of Dr. Samuel Dove, of Doncaster, who did not survive the loss of his faithful wife, Mrs. Dorothy Dove, more than eleven months, Nobs was disposed of by his executors to Longman and Clements, Musical Instrument Manufacturers, whose grand pianoforte hearses he now draws in the streets of London. The carter was astonished at the enthusiasm with which I intreated him to stop for half a minute, and the embrace I gave to Nobs, ho evidently understood me, and wistfully with such a sad expression in his eye, seemed to say, " h, my kind old master. Doctor Daniel, and ah ! my mild mistress, his dear duteous Dolly Dove, my gratitude lies deeper than my obligation; it is not merely skin-deep! Ah, what I have been! Oh, what I am! his naked, neighing, night-wandering, new-skinned, nibbling, noblenursling, Nobs!" 
His legs and hoofs are more than half sheepified, and his fleece richer than one ever sees in the Leicester breed, but not so fine as might have been the case had the merino cross been introduced before the surprising accident and more surprising remedy took place. More surprising I say, because the first happened to St. Bartholomew (for there were skinners even in the days of St. Bartholomew), but the other never before there was no Dr. Daniel Dove. I trust that Southey will now not hesitate to record and transmit to posterity so remarkable a fact. I am delighted, for now malice itself will not dare to attribute the story to my invention. If I can procure the money, I will attempt to purchase Nobs, and send him down to Keswick by short journeys for Herbert and Derwent to ride upon, provided you can get the field next us. 

I have not been able to procure a frank, but I daresay you will be glad to receive the enclosed receipt even with the drawback of postage. 

Everything, my dear, goes on as prosperously as you could yourself wish. Sir T. Bernard has taken Willis's Rooms, King Street, St. James's, for me, at only four guineas a week, fires, benches, etc., included, and I expect the lectures to commence on the first Tuesday in May. But at the present moment I need both the advice and the aid of Southey. The "Friends " have arrived in town. I am at work on the Supplemental Numbers, and it is of the last importance that they should be brought out as quickly as possible during the flush and fresh breeze of my popularity; but this I cannot do without knowing whether Mr. Wordsworth will transmit to me the two finishing Essays on Epitaphs.  It is, I know and feel, a

very delicate business; yet I wish Southey would immediately write to Wordsworth and urge him to send them by the coach, either to J. J. Morgan, Esq., 71, Berners Street, or to Messrs. Gale and Curtis, Booksellers, Paternoster Row, with as little delay as possible, or if he decline it, that Southey should apprize me as soon as possible.

S. T. Coleridge.
The Morgans desire to be kindly remembered, and Charlotte Brent (tell Derwent) hopes he has not forgot his old playfellow.

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