COLERIDGE and JESUS COLLEGE CAMBRIDGE. File of papers relating to Coleridge's return to Jesus College after his discharge from the 15th Light Dragoons, 1793-1794
Lot 276
Sold for £ 8,750 (US$ 12,201) inc. premium

Lot Details
Property of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's direct descendant
File of papers relating to Coleridge's return to Jesus College after his discharge from the 15th Light Dragoons, including a set of his college bills and correspondence between his brother George and the college authorities, comprising:

(i) Coleridge's college bills for the quarters ending Michaelmas (29 September) and St Thomas (21 December) 1793 and Lady Day (25 March) 1794, each on printed forms with his name entered at the head, listing expenditure on admission fees, barber, bedmaker, bookseller, butler, coals, cook, grocer, laundress, lecturer, milkman, porter, shoeblacker, smith, steward, tailor and tuition; the second and third with conjoint autograph letters by his tutor the Rev John Plampin of Jesus College, asking that payment be made to their account with Sir Robert Herries & Co and arranging for an interview with Dr Pearce who "wishes to have some conversation with you respecting your brother"; two with address leaves directed to George Coleridge, Hackney, 5 pages, wafer-seals, postmarks, 4to, the bills for 1793-4, the letters Jesus College and Fludyer Street, 6 March and 21 April 1794

(ii) Two autograph letters signed by Coleridge's tutor, the Rev John Plampin of Jesus College, to Coleridge's brother George, declaring himself "sincerely happy to hear, that your brother is sensible of his errors" and, in the second, setting out the conditions under which he has been readmitted to the college after his discharge from the army: "He has been reprimanded by the Master in presence of the fellows; -- & the reprimand will be recorded in the college-Register./ He is to be confined to the Precincts of the college for the space of one month, during which time he is to appear regularly in Chapel & Hall./ He is to submit to a literary punishment. – And at least one half of the sum due for his college bills is to be immediately discharged"; with integral address leaves, postmarked, 3 pages, 4to, Jesus College and Fludyer Street, Westminster, 28 February and 16 April 1794

(iii) Autograph retained draft of a letter by George Coleridge [to the Rev John Plampin of Jesus], informing him that he has deposited £60 with his bankers, commenting on the Rustat and Christ's Hospital scholarships and adding: "I cannot in a few words explain to you the difficulties of so large pecuniary contribution in our family: nor indeed could such an explanation move you from the Duties of your office; but I hold it the part of justice to observe to you that whatever Sums are collected for my Brother are won from a rigid self-denial", and that he will endeavour to deposit whatever sums he can with his bankers by midsummer, 1 page, 4to, undated [?March 1794]

(iv) Two autograph letters signed by Dr William Pearce, Master of Jesus, to George Coleridge, providing details of the losses Samuel might expect to suffer ("...His Rustat Scholarship will not be vacated, till after an absence of six months; & he may effectually keep it by appearing at the Rustat Examination on Thursday in Easter week. His Chapel Clerk's place was only given to him for one year, which expired last XMas, so that tho' he is without that place, he has not lost it by his misconduct. Whether he will lose his Exhibition from the School, I cannot say, not being acquainted with the rules of that foundation..."); adding that: "I must apprize you, that when he returns to College, the Society will of course take cognizance of his conduct, & their sentence will be regulated in great measure, by the reasons which he will alledge in his excuse, & by the proofs & appearances of his contrition"; integral address leaves, postmarked and with traces of wafer-seals, 2 pages, 4to, Temple, 10 and 12 March 1794

(v) Autograph retained draft of a letter by George Coleridge to William Pearce, discussing his brother's arrears which he hopes can be paid in instalments ("...After announcing my Brother's Intention of returning to College and (as I have good reason to suspect) a great improvement in his sentiments, I proceeded to assure Mr P on the subject of Arrears..."), 2 pages, 4to, undated [March 1794]


  • THE FORMER TROOPER COLERIDGE ATTEMPTS TO RESUME LIFE AS A CAMBRIDGE UNDERGRADUATE. Having been rescued through George's exertions from the army he rejoined Jesus College Cambridge that April, writing to his brother: 'I have been arraigned before the fellows – Dr Pearce behaved with great asperity, Mr Plampin with exceeding and most delicate kindness – My Sentence is a reprimand' (E.L. Griggs, Collected Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1956, i, p. 80). Griggs prints most of George's letter to Plamplin, although without the passage referring to his brother's "rigid self-denial" (p. 81, fn. 1), but not the other letters.

    All three of the bills list expenditure on books, respectively at 5/3d, 9/6d and 5/3d (less than to the bedmaker who was paid 12/- a quarter). Unexpectedly, perhaps, the largest single item is the £6-5s-11d paid to his tailor in the December quarter. On each bill a total is given and, in manuscript at the foot, a note of deductions deriving from the Rustat scholarship, Christ's Hospital scholarship and other sources. In September, we have bills amounting to £7-19s-10d from which £17-18s-9½d has been deducted, leaving him £9-18s-9½d in credit. That December, by contrast, the bills amount to £21-12s-10¾d and the deductions to £10-12s-8¾d, leaving him £11-0s-2d in debt: this bill includes the two largest outgoings to be found in three accounts, namely £3-13s-½d for the 'Butler' and £6-5s-11d for the 'Taylor'. That was the month he absconded to the Dragoons. The third bill, for March 1794, totals £3-16-5½d, with the Rustat Scholarship given as the only deduction, at £1-8s-9d, leaving a debt of £2-7s-8½d. Each of the bills carries a further note of the running total of accumulated arrears after deductions: these stood at £148-17s-1¼d at Midsummer 1793, £118-18s-3¾ at Michaelmas 1793, £129-18s-5¾d at St Thomas's 1793, and £132-6-2¼d at Lady Day 1794. E.L. Griggs cites the Michaelmas total and quotes from George's letter to Pamplin (without, however, reference to the self-denial expected of Coleridge) in Collected Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1956, i., p. 81, fn. 1. (On 27 February 1794, shortly before his discharge, Coleridge told his brother 'I owe my Shoemaker at Cambridge 3£ -- and I owe my Taylor a Bill – of what amount, I am not positively accurate – but to the best of my remembrance it is about 10£. Besides these, I owe nothing', Griggs, Letter 37, p. 69).

Saleroom notices

  • Please note there is an additional letter from George Coleridge included in the lot.
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