1835 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alaric Alexander Watts

John Anster to Alaric Alexander Watts, 3 October 1835; in Alaric Alfred Watts, Alaric Watts, a Narrative of his Life, by his Son (1884) 1:246-47.



12, N. Frederick Street, Dublin,

October 3, 1835.

MY DEAR SIR,

I need not say I felt greatly gratified by your affectionate letter. I have lately promised the Gillmans, Coleridge's friends, whom of course you know, and knowing, must love, to pass some days with them, when I am next able to go to London. It will then give me real pleasure to renew and cultivate a friendship I so greatly value. Coleridge, when I last saw him, spoke to me of you with affection. I scarcely heard him ever speak with more affection of anyone than of you. You were at Leeds, and, though I do not think he had any settled intention of going to Leeds to lecture, yet he often talked of it, and this led him first to speak of you. * * * * I am almost unwilling to tell you how strongly he shared the feeling which you express as to the London literatuli.

I will conclude this dull letter by telling you an anecdote of Coleridge. He told me, that when he first thought of literature as a means of support, he formed some connection with one of the Reviews, I think the Critical: he was at the time living somewhere in the Lake country, together with Wordsworth. A parcel of books were sent down to be reviewed; among the rest, a volume of poems, he did not tell me the name, and I believe he had forgotten it. He wrote a smart review of the work; every sentence of his article was, he said, an epigram. When he had concluded, he read his review aloud to the ladies of the family. One of them, Wordsworth's sister, burst into tears, and asked him how he could write it? "I was thinking," said she, "how I must feel if I were to read such a review of a poem of yours or William's. And has not this poor man some sister or wife to feel for him?" Coleridge described himself as so affected that he never afterwards wrote a review, and he appeared to me to have even a morbid feeling on the subject.

Is not the circumstance a striking and characteristic one?

With sincere regards to Mrs. Watts, in which Mrs. Anster joins.

I am, yours faithfully and affectionately,

J. ANSTER.