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TO REV. GEORGE CORNISH.
Laleham, September 20, 1819. .. Poor dear old Oxford ! if I live till I am eighty, and were to enjoy all the happiness that the warmest wish could desire, I should never forget, or cease to look back with something of a painful feeling on the years we were together there, and on all the delights that we have lost; and I look forward with extreme delight to my intended journey down to the audit in October, when I shall take a long and last farewell of my old haunts, and will, if I possibly can, yet take one more look at Bagley Wood, and the pretty field, and the wild stream that flows down between Bullington and Cowley Marsh, not forgetting even your old friend, the Lower London Road. Well, I must endeavour to get some such associations to combine with Laleham and its neighbourhood; but at present all is harsh and ruffled, like woods in a high wind, only I am beginning to love my own little study, where I have a sofa full of books, as of old, and the two verse books lying about on it, and a volume of Herodotus; and where I sit up and read or write till twelve or one o'clock.
TO REV. JOHN TUCKER.
Laleham, November 20, 1819. This day eight years, about this time, we were assembled in the Junior Common Room, to celebrate the first foundation of the room, and had been amused by hearing Bartholomew's song about “Musical George," and "Political Tommy,” and now, of the party then assembled, you are the only one still left in Oxford, and the rest of us are scattered over the face of the earth to our several abodes. There is a “souvenir interessant” for you, as a Frenchman would say, and one full well fitted for a November evening. But do you know that I am half disposed to quarrel with you, instead of giving you “ Souvenirs ”- for
did you not covenant to write to me first ? Indeed, in the pictures that I have to form of my future life, my friends have always held a part; and it has been a great delight to me to think, that — will feel doubly and naturally bound to so many of them,
and the benefits which I have received from my Oxford friendships have been so invaluable, as relating to points of the very highest importance, that it is impossible for me ever to forget them, or to cease to look on them as the greatest blessings I have ever yet enjoyed in life, and for which I have the deepest reason to be most thankful. Being then separated from you all, I am most anxious that absence should not be allowed to weaken the regard we bear each other; and besides, I cannot forego that advice and assistance which I have so long been accustomed to rely on, and with which I cannot as yet at least safely dispense: for the management of my own mind is a thing so difficult, and brings me into contact with much that is so strangely mysterious, that I stand at times quite bewildered, in a chaos where I can see no light either before or behind. How much of all this is constitutional and physical I cannot tell, perhaps a great deal of it; yet it is surely dangerous to look upon all the struggles of the mind as arising from the state of the body or the weather, and so resolve to bestow no attention upon them. Indeed, I think I have far more reason to be annoyed at the extraordinary apathy and abstraction from every thing good, which the routine of the world's business brings with it; there are whole days in which all the feelings or principles of belief, or of religion altogether, are in utter abeyance: when one goes on very comfortably, pleased with external and worldly comforts, and yet would find it difficult, if told to enquire, to find a particle of Christian principle in one's whole mind. It seems all quite moved out bodily, and one retains no consciousness of a belief in any one religious truth, but is living a life of virtual Atheism. I suppose these things are equalized somehow, but I am often inclined to wonder at and to envy those who seem never to know what mental trouble is, and who seem to have nothing else to disturb them than the common petty annoyances of life, and when these let them alone, then they are év valsingh. But I would compound for all this, if I could but find that I had any liking for what I ought to like; but there is the Sunday School here, for instance, which I never visit without the strongest reluctance, and really the thought of having this to do makes me quite dread the return of the Sunday. I have got it now entirely into my own hands, so attend it I must and will, if I can answer for my perseverance, but it goes sadly against
TO J. T. COLERIDGE, ESQ.
Laleham, November 29, 1819. At last I am going to redeem the promise which I made so long ago, and to give you some account of our summa
I have had lately the additional work of a sermon every week to write, and this has interfered very much with my correspondence; and I fear I have not yet acquired that careful economy of time which men in your profession often so well practise, and do not make the most of all the odd five and ten minutes' spaces which I get in the course of the day. However, I have at last begun my letter, and will first tell you that I still like my business very well, and what is very comfortable, I feel far more confidence in myself than I did at first, and should not now dread having the sole management of pupils, which at one time I should have shrunk from. (After giving an account of the joint arrangement of the school and the pupils with his brother-in-law ;) B- is naturally fonder of the school, and is inclined to give it the greatest part of his attention; and I, from my Oxford habits, as naturally like the other part of the business best; and thus I have extended my time of reading with our four pupils in the morning before breakfast, from
one hour to two. Not that I dislike being in the school, but quite the contrary; still, however, I have not the experience in that sort of work, nor the perfect familiarity with my grammar requisite to make a good master, and I cannot teach Homer as well as my friends Herodotus and Livy, whom I am now reading, I suppose, for about the fiftieth time.
Nov. 30th.— I was interrupted last night in the middle of my letter, and as the evening is my only time for such occupations, it cannot now go till to-morrow. You shall derive this benefit, however, from the interruption, that I will trouble you with no more details about the trade ; a subject which I find growing upon me daily, from the retired life we are leading, and from my being so much engrossed by it. There are some very pleasant families settled in this place besides ourselves; they have been very civil to us, and in the holidays I dare say we shall see much of them, but at present I do not feel I have sufficient time to make an acquaintance, and cannot readily submit to the needful sacrifice of formal visits, &c., which must be the prelude to a more familiar knowledge of any one. As it is, my garden claims a good portion of my spare time in the middle of the day, when I am not engaged at home or taking a walk; there is always something to interest me even in the very sight of the weeds and litter, for then I think how much improved the place will be when they are removed; and it is very delightful to watch the progress of any work of this sort, and observe the gradual change from disorder and neglect to neatness and finish. In the course of the autumn I have done much in planting and altering, but these labours are now over, and I have now only to hope for a mild winter as far as the shrubs are concerned, that they may not all be dead when the spring comes. Of the country about us, especially on the Surrey side, I have explored much; but not nearly so much as I could wish. It is very beautiful, and some of the scenes at the junction of the heath country with the rich valley of the Thames are very striking. Or if I do not venture so far from home, I have always a resource at hand in the bank of the river up to Staines; which, though it be perfectly flat, has yet a great charm from its entire loneliness, there being not a house anywhere near it; and the river here has none of that stir of boats and barges upon it, which makes it in many places as public as the high road. .... Of what is going on in the world or anywhere indeed out of Laleham, I know little or nothing. I can get no letters from Oxford, the common complaint I think of all who leave it ; and if Pdid not bring us sometimes a little news from Eton, and Hull from London, I should really, when the holidays begin, find myself six months behind the rest of the world. ..
Don Juan has been with me for some weeks, but I am determined not to read it, for I was so annoyed by some specimens that I saw in glancing over the leaves, that I will not worry myself with any more of it. I have read enough of the debates since parliament has met to make me marvel at the nonsense talked on both sides, though I am afraid the opposition have the palm out and out. The folly or the mischievous obstinacy with which they persist in palliating the excesses of the Jacobins is really scandalous, though I own I do not wish to see Carlton House trimming up the constitution as if it were an hussar's uniform. .... I feel, however, growing less and less political.
TO REV. GEORGE CORNISH.
Laleham, February 23, 1820. You must know that you are one of three persons in the world to whom I hold it wrong to write short letters; that is to say, you are one of three on whom I can find it in my heart to bestow all my tediousness; and therefore though February 23rd stands at the top of the page, I do not expect that this sheet will be finished for some time to come.
The first thing I must say is to congratulate you on Charles's appointment. If this letter reaches