3496. Robert Southey to John Taylor Coleridge, [c. 20 June 1820]*
My dear Sir
Immediately upon receiving your communication  I went to Wordsworth, & if Hartley would have seen the manner in which such persons as Mr & Mrs W. were affected by the news his conduct, if any thing could reform him, one would think it would be the shame & contrition which he must have felt.
The case is altogether hopeless, – there is no possibility of doing any good, or interfering in any way. If the per girl to whom he has attached himself  is infatuated enough to marry him, he, I dare say will make it an excuse & a reason for marriage, that it covers the disgrace of this sort of expulsion, – it will do this, but according to all human foresight it will compleat his ruin. He will trust to his pen & his wits for a livelihood, his habits will stick to him, & he will flounder on thro degradation & misery to perdition.
I had not the slightest suspicion of his propensities to sottishness, or to low company. But from the turn & temper of his mind I had long since ceased to augur well of him.
Xxx All that Keble says upon the subject is full of kindness & right feeling; – & would make me think more highly of the writer than I did before, if that had been easy.
* Endorsement: 1820/ June 20th/ R. Southey. London.
MS: British Library, Add MS 47553. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: W. Braekman, ‘Letters by Robert Southey to Sir John Taylor Coleridge’, Studia Germanica Gandensia, 6 (1964), 114. BACK
 John Taylor Coleridge had been told by the clergyman and poet John Keble (1792–1866; DNB) that his cousin, Hartley Coleridge, had lost his Fellowship at Oriel College, Oxford, on 30 May 1820, the end of his probationary year, on the grounds of intemperance. John Taylor Coleridge had then forwarded Keble’s letter to Southey, who had to break the news to Hartley’s mother and friends in the Lakes. BACK