Samuel T. Coleridge
In this letter dated May 25, 1826, English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge apologizes to Reverend R. Cattermole for neglegicting to invite him to dinner. He references Sindbad the sailor's encounter with the old man of the sea and attempts to schedule another meeting with Reverend Cattermole to make up for his faux pas. Another letter is attached at the end which also appears to be addressed to Reverend Cattermole but does not seem to relate to the events referenced in the previous letter.
My dear Sir
About five minutes after you last left me, Mrs. Gillman meeting me asked – “What? Is Mr. Cattermole gone?” Yes. “You asked him to dine with us of course?” No! I never thought of it, I am ashamed to say. – “And it is Thursday too: and there will be two or three persons here that he would like to see.” And I never thought of it being Thursday either –but perhaps I can overtake him. And off I ran or rather shuffled, but alas! My speed is defunct: and I have left its ghost to skip with the Echoes & vault from rock to rock on our Cumbrian Mountains: and have Sindbad’s Old Man pick a back across my shoulders instead, with the drag, Obesity, at my hind wheels. And I returned not a little vexed & mortified at myself. In sober truth, I turned away with angry shame from the ugly regard of inhospitableness, that my forgetfulness must have worn to you – not to say, ingratitude. You having come all the way from town on my business, and at near 4 o’clock to return to Brixton, and without having taken any refreshment even!
All this transmutes regret into mortification, that I am (& for the last fortnight have been) pre-engaged to dine at Mr. Chance’s, a very valuable friend of Mr. and Mrs. Gillman’s (to whom under Heaven I owe my life & more than words can express!) on Friday. Anxious, however, to answer your very kind, undeservedly kind, letter in the affirmative, as soon as I had read it, I called on Mr. Chance, to try if he could let me off – for which I had an additional excuse in Mr. Southey: arrived in town. He frankly told me, that it would depend on an answer, he expected, to an invitation of a family who reside nine miles from Westgate
who had repeatedly expressed a wish to meet me, and whom he had invited expressly for this purpose. They had accepted the invitation conditionally, viz. if some country visitors should have left them, time enough to announce that they actually would come. It was not till last night that their answer came & this morning Mr. Chance sent word that he could not excuse me. Now, my dear Sir! I know of no other engagement till June 9th – unless I should receive one from Sir George & Lady Beaumont to meet my brother in law, Southey, which if I do, I will let you know and I shall be rightly gratified in being introduced to Mrs. Cattermole. Need I tell you, how much, how very much I shall prosper spending a long day with you in the bosom of your family to a dinner party?
I must make haste or I shall miss the Post but cannot conclude without entreating you not to consider my strange negligence when you last called, as a specimen or as symptomatic. I am desired and commissioned by Mrs. Gillman (of whom the more you see, the more you will esteem and admire her) to spare you in her & Mr. Gillman’s name, how happy we shall be when you have the leisure, to see you at all times in our plain family way – and we beg that should you be inclined to join our weekly conversazione on any, or every Thursday Evening, that you will take potluck with us & come early. On Thursdays we dine a little after 4 – on all other days, an hour later. With best respect to Mrs. Cattermole
believe me, my dear Sir
With respect, and every anticipation of cordial regard. Your obliged
25 May 1826
The following is a copy of the last letter received by Mr. Cattermole from S.T.C. the handwriting is feeble and scarcely legible in places
My dear Sir
I do indeed take a lively interest in whatever concerns you and I can only say that large families with virtuous and religious parents must commonly turn out prosperous families.
I am at present too unwell and sick to be able to look over this sheet (389-396) till after I have taken my medicine and wine but will enclose it by to-morrow morning’s Post to you.