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ten, yet necessary and important truths and knowledge ; and this is not the less true, because I have suffered others to reap all the advantages. But, oh! dear friend, this consciousness, raised by insult of enemies, and alienated friends, stands me in little stead to my own soul, in how little then, before the all-righteous Judge! who, requiring back the talents he had entrusted, will, if the mercies of Christ do not intervene, not demand of me what I have done, but why I did not do more; why, with powers above so many, I had sunk in many things below most! But this is too painful, and in remorse we often waste the energy which should be better employed in reformationthat essential part, and only possible proof, of sincere repentance. * * * * May God bless you, and Your affectionate friend,
S. T. Coleridge.”
Toward the end of 1807, Mr. Coleridge left Bristol, and I saw nothing more of him for another seven years; that is, till 1814. All the leading features in Mr. Coleridge's life, during these two septennial periods, will, no doubt, be detailed by others. My undertaking re
commences in 1814. Some preliminary remarks must precede the narrative, which has now arrived at an important part.
Neither to clothe the subject of biography with undeserved applause, nor unmerited censure, but to present an exact portraiture, is the object which ought scrupulously to be aimed at by every impartial writer. Here I pause, with something of an awful dilemma. Is it expedient; is it lawful; to give publicity to Mr. Coleridge's practice of inordinately taking opium ? which, to a certain extent, at one part of his life, inflicted on a heart naturally cheerful, the stings of conscience, and sometimes, almost the horrors of despair ? Is it right, in reference to one who has passed his ordeal, to exhibit sound principles, habitually warring with inveterate and injurious habits ; producing, for many years, an accumulation of bodily suffering, that wasted the frame; poisoned the sources of enjoyment; entailed in the long retinue of ills) dependence and poverty, and, with all these, associated that which was far less bearable, an intolerable mental load, that scarcely knew cessation ?
In the year 1814, all this, I am afflicted to say, applied to Mr. Coleridge. The question to be determined is, whether it be best, or not, to obey the first impulse of benevolence, and to throw a mantle over these dark and appalling occurrences, and, since the sufferer has left this stage of existence, to mourn in secret, and consign to oblivion the aberrations of a frail mortal? This was my first design, but other thoughts arose. If the individual were alone concerned, the question would be decided ; but it might almost be said, that the world is interested in the disclosures connected with this part of Mr. Coleridge's life. His example forms one of the most impressive memorials the pen ever recorded; so that thousands, hereafter, may derive instruction from viewing in Mr. C. much to approve, and, in other features of his character, much also to regret and deplore. Once Mr. Coleridge expressed to me, with indoscribable emotion, the joy he should feel, if he could collect around him all who were “ beginning to tamper with the lulling, but fatal draught;" so that he might proclaim, as with a trumpet, “the worse than death, that opium entailed.” I must add, if he could now speak from his grave, (retaining his earthly, benevolent solicitude for the good of others) with an emphasis that pene
trated the heart, he would doubtless utter, “ Let my example be a warning !".
This being my settled conviction, it becomes in me, a duty, with all practicable mildness, to give publicity to the following tale; in which, censure will often be suspended by compassion, and every feeling be absorbed in that of pity; in which, if the veil be removed, it will only be, to present a clear and practical exemplification of the consequences that progressively follow indulgences in, what Mr. Coleridge latterly denominated, “ the accursed drug!"
To soften the repugnance which might, pardonably, arise in the minds of some of Mr. C.'s friends, it is asked, whether it be not enough to move a breast of adamant, to behold a man of Mr. Coleridge's genius, spell-bound by his narcotic draughts ? deploring, as he has done, in his letters to myself, the destructive consequences of opium; writhing under its effects ; so injurious to mind, body, and estate: submitting to the depths of humiliation and poverty, and all this, for a season at least, accompanied with no effectual effort to burst his fetters, and assume the station in society which became his talents; but on the contrary, submitting patiently to
dependence, and grovelling where he ought to soar !
Another powerful reason, which should reconcile the friends of Mr. Coleridge to this detail of his destructive habits, arises from the recollection, that the pain given to their minds, is present and temporary. They should wisely consider, that, though they regret, their regrets, like themselves, as time rolls on, are passing away! but, the example,-this clear, ful), incontestable example, remains ! And who can estimate the beneficial consequences of this undisguised statement, to numerous succeeding individuals ? (It is consolatory to believe, that, had I written nothing else, this humble, but unflinching narrative would be an evidence that I had not lived in vain.)
When it is considered also, how many men, of high mental endowments, have shrouded their lustre, by a passion for this stimulus, and thereby, prematurely, become fallen spirits ; would it not be a criminal concession to unauthorized feelings, to allow so impressive an exhibition of this subtile species of intemperance to escape from public notice; and, that no discredit might attach to the memory of the individual we love, to conceal an example, fraught with so much instruction,