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Beaumont. (See vol. iv. p. 248.) The change did not do much for the restoration of the children.

They both died in the following year; Catherine on the 4th of June, while her mother was absent at Hindwell, in Radnorshire, and Thomas on the 1st of December 1812. They were buried in Grasmere Churchyard. On the daughter's tombstone are the words, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of God." On the boy's is an inscription which will be found in vol. viii. p. 34, of this edition.

These two successive bereavements led the Wordsworths to quit the Parsonage, as soon as they possibly could; and they went, as we shall see, to Rydal Mount, in the spring of 1813.

In June 1812 Dorothy Wordsworth wrote thus to Mrs Marshall of her niece Catherine :-" She was the sweetest, mildest tempered child, the most loving, entirely free from all bad passions. It seemed as if she had not the seed of any evil in her."

Of Thomas, she wrote to Miss Threlkeld, at Halifax, in the following terms,

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January 19th, 1813.

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'You remember him, a lovely child, with a heavenly sweetness in his countenance which he preserved to the last, an innocence as pure as at the day of his birth. Thomas was, of all the children, that one who caused us the least of pain, and who gave us the purest delight. He was affectionate, sweet-tempered, ardent in the pursuit of learning, invariably doing his duty without effort, or interference on the part of others, and above all had a simplicity which was his own, an infantine innocence which marked him as not of this world.”

And to Mrs Marshall, she wrote on the same subject, 24th January 1813

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My heart is full of the sweet image of him whom I shall see no more. At times, when I muse on a future life, the child becomes spiritualized to my mind. I wish I could have such musings more frequently, and longer; but alas! the image of the boy disturbs me, and I weep again. Time, I know, will soften this, but as long as I have breath and life, thy grave, beloved child! will be remembered by me with pensive sadness. . . . At times I think my brother looks ten years older since the death of Thomas. We shall not remain more than two months, or ten weeks longer, in this house; and you must come and see us when we get to the other. It is a place that, ten years ago, if I could have dreamed it would ever be ours, I would almost have danced with joy."

Part of another letter of Dorothy Wordsworth's to Henry Crabb Robinson refers to the children thus :—

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They are sweet wild creatures. John is thoughtful with his wildness; Dorothy alive, active, and quick; Thomas innocent and simple as a new-born Babe. had no feeling but of bursting joy when he saw me. We had delightful weather when I first got home, but on the fourth morning Dorothy roused me from my sleep with 'It is time to get up, Aunt, it is a blasty morning, it does blast so!' and the next morning, not more encouraging to me, she says, 'It is a haily morning, it hails so hard!' You must know our house stands on a hill exposed to all hails and blasts, and the cold seemed to cut me through and through."




DURING the years in which Wordsworth lived in the Grasmere parsonage, he had other trials than the loss of his children. Repeated reference has been made, both to the strength of the tie that bound him to Coleridge, -the almost unique character of their friendship-and to the differences that separated them on many points. Readers of the previous chapters, detailing the life at Alfoxden and Dove Cottage, do not need to be reminded of the former element; but the latter, which led to some misunderstanding, and almost separated the friends for two years, must also be referred to. It is, indeed, a matter of public notoriety, from the allusions to it in Henry Crabb Robinson's Diary and Reminiscences (see vol. i. p. 484), and (although in a concealed way) in Allsop's Letters of Coleridge. It cannot, therefore, be passed entirely over, either in a Life of Wordsworth or of Coleridge, and buried in the oblivion in which it might otherwise have rested. But in what I shall now say of it, while simply stating the facts that have come to my knowledge, I think I shall not give pain to anyone.

It is a very curious illustration from literary history of the Little rift within the lute,

That by and by will make the music mute,

and of the singular way in which a wholly baseless misreading of a phrase, or misconstruction of a remark

(inaccurately reported) may, if recalled and brooded on, give rise to the saddest temporary results. If the misunderstandings of friends should be speedily forgotten, the quarrels of authors should be buried in their graves; and the only reason for dwelling for a little on the cloud, at first no bigger than a man's hand, that rose up between two such men as Coleridge and Wordsworth-and for a time darkened the firmament of their friendship-is the light it casts upon the character of each, and on features, hitherto unsuspected, in both of them. It must also be remembered that, as time passes, the wisdom of dealing with such a matter changes; and that what it was inexpedient to reveal at the time of its occurrence, or for a couple of generations afterwards, may become expedient seventy years later.


That a great change had come over Coleridge soon after he went north to Cumberland in 1800, a change which affected both his physical constitution, his imagination, and his moral nature-and which was perhaps largely physical to begin with-is known to every student of his life. The poem which he named Dejection; An Ode is the pathetic record of that change. We must remember that Coleridge had been a physical sufferer, almost from his childhood, and we must judge him, if we are disposed to be critical, with corresponding tenderness. The rheumatic fever of his boyhood, and other ailments-which did not interfere either with his joyous energy, or with his literary productiveness, in the years of his "poetic prime”at last brought acute suffering in their train. These sufferings were aggravated by the damp climate of the Lake District; and to alleviate these he had recourse to various expedients. He was, to a certain extent, his own doctor; and what led him to resort to opium, to alleviate his pain, is best told in his own words.

In 1826 he wrote that he had been "ignorantly deluded

by the seeming magic effects of opium in the sudden removal of a supposed rheumatic affection, attended with palpitation of the heart, and pains all over me, by which I had been bedridden for nearly six months. Unhappily, amongst my neighbours' and landlord's books were a large number of medical reviews and magazines. I had always a fondness for dabbling in medical writings; and in one of these reviews I met a case which I fancied very like my own, in which a cure had been effected by the Kendal Black Drop. In an evil hour I procured it; it worked miracles, the pains vanished. I was all alive, and all around me being as ignorant as myself, nothing could exceed my triumph. I talked of nothing else, prescribed the newly discovered panacea for all complaints, and carried a little about with me, not to lose any opportunity of administering instant and speedy cure' to all complainers, stranger or friend, gentle or simple." This he describes as "the Maelstrom, the fatal whirlpool to which I was drawing, just when the current was beyond my power to stem."

The extraordinary transformation of Coleridge's nature, which dates almost from his first visit to Keswick, at the beginning of the century, will be told with fulness and authority in the Life which his grandson is now writing. Although he wrote one very fine poem afterwards—the lines addressed to Wordsworth, on hearing him read The Prelude at Coleorton-I think it may be said that Coleridge the creative poet died about 1802; while about the same date, Coleridge, the mystic metaphysician and theosophist, revived. It is also certain that in his case the habit of opium-eating, while begun with the view of alleviating pain, induced a slow but steady weakening of the will, and a gradual deterioration of character. It was not only that each "visitation" of his malady suspended "what Nature gave him at his birth,"

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