COLERIDGE, SAMUEL TAYLOR (1772-1834)
AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF HIS IMPORTANT POEM [THE BALLAD OF] 'THE DARK LADIÈ - A FRAGMENT', BEGINNING WITH ITS COMPANION PIECE 'LOVE', DATED 31 JULY 1831 AND SIGNED TWICE ('S.T. Coleridge' and 'S.T.C.'), 88 lines of verse, in four-line stanzas, comprising seven stanzas of his poem 'Love' (begins 'O leave the Lily on the stem...' as 'A Prologue or Introduction to the Tale of the Dark Ladiè' and also published separately with additional stanzas) and the fifteen surviving stanzas of 'The Dark Ladiè' (begins 'Beside yon Birch with silver bark...'), with one stanza missing (autograph note of this by Coleridge); two prose memoranda, 13 lines, quoted below, in which Coleridge explains bibliographical details (both unique to this manuscript and both addressed to the person for whom he was writing the poem out in this album), 5 pages, with second leaf blank (coloured card), watermark 'J, Whatman 1831', the words 'The Dark Ladie' in calligraphic capital letters, the poem written as the first entry in a deluxe album, green morocco gilt, spine with elaborate floral tooling in six compartments between raised bands, wide gilt fillets to both covers, fillet dentelles with endpapers of green watered silk, leaves made up of thin card in various tints (suitable for drawings and watercolours, many separated by bound-in tissues, other items discussed below, quarto, the poem composed in 1799, this manuscript dated 31 July 1831
'The stanzas which in the Collection of my Poems appear under the title, Love ('All thoughts, all Passions, all desires') were originally intended and first appeared (viz. in the Morning Post) as "A Prologue or Introduction to the Tale of the Dark Ladiè: commencing with the following stanzas, omitted in the reconstruction of the poem"
O leave the Lily on the Stem,
O leave the Rose upon the spray,
O leave the Elder bloom, fair Maid!
And listen to my lay.
A Cypress and a Myrtle bough
This morn around my harp you twin'd,
Because it fashion'd mournfully
It murmurs in the wind...
The DARK LADIÈ - a fragment
Beside yon Birch with silver bark
And boughs so pendulous and fair,
The Brook falls scatter'd down the rock:
And all is mossy there!
And there upon the Moss She sits,
The DARK LADIÈ in silent pain
The heavy tear is in her eye,
And drops, and swells again!...
'THE DARK LADIÈ' WAS ONE OF COLERIDGE'S CONTRIBUTIONS TO 'LYRICAL BALLADS'. The present manuscript is one of only three known autograph manuscripts of the poem.
While Coleridge only published a fragment of The Dark Ladiè it 'has nevertheless an amputated kind of completeness' (Hughes).
Coleridge had planned three major poems for inclusion in the first edition of Lyrical Ballads of 1798, one of the supreme achievements of the Romantic Movement, which changed the course of English poetry. These poems were 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner', 'Christabel' and 'The Ballad of the Dark Ladiè'. They were designed to be the 'supernatural' poems to contrast with Wordsworth's 'every day' ones, as Coleridge himself explained in his famous account at the beginning of Chapter XIV of Biographia Literaria (1817):
'...it was agreed that my endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic; yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith. Mr Wordsworth, on the other hand, was to pose to himself as his object, to give the charm of novelty to things of every day...With this view I wrote the 'Ancient Mariner', and was preparing, among other poems, the 'Dark Ladiè', and 'Christabel', in which I should more nearly realize my ideal, than I had done in my first attempt. But Mr Wordsworth's industry had proved so much more successful and the number of his poems so much greater, that my compositions, instead of forming a balance, appeared rather an interpolation of heterogeneous matter...'
Both 'Christabel' and 'The Dark Ladiè', though never finished, are poems of Coleridge's early and finest period. 'The Dark Ladiè' was a companion piece to and continued and expanded issues raised by 'The Ancient Mariner' and 'Christabel' (as well as, in a number of senses, 'Kubla Khan' and with echoes of 'Continuation of The Three Graves'). It has been seen as 'a code-book for the two long narratives' (Hughes). The three visionary poems have a unity and play into 'a single myth, which is also, as a poet's myth always is (among other things) a rejected symbolic self-portrait of the poet's own deepest psychological makeup...It is the myth of what made him a poet' (Hughes). In Genevieve ('Love' section) and the Dark Ladiè herself, 'Coleridge explores the traditional mythology that divides women into two images - the spotless maid and the degraded whore - separated forever by sexual experience' (Spatz). Coleridge's romantic feelings on meeting Sara Hutchinson at Sockburn, co. Durham (about 30 miles from Lambton Castle), in 1799, which produced highly charged erotic passages in his notebooks, encouraged him to carry 'The Dark Ladiè' forward. What was achieved was one part of a projected three sections.
As Coleridge indicated in the first of his autograph memoranda in this album, the first part of the poem, 'Love', with additional stanzas and under the title 'Introduction to the Tale of the Dark Ladiè' was first published in The Morning Post in 1799. 'The Dark Ladiè' itself was first published in the edition of Coleridge's Poems, 1834. As he explains in the second memorandum in the present manuscript 'The DARK LADIÈ, however, was interrupted by griefs & darknesses of a less poetic description, and was never completed. But the first 8 or 9 stanzas may be worth preserving, and as they have never appeared in print and are not likely ever to appear in print, I imagined, they might have some little interest to you.'
MANUSCRIPTS OF 'THE DARK LADIÈ'.
There are only three manuscripts of 'The Dark Ladiè' including the present one, which was unknown to scholars before 1992, but was then used by Mays, who recorded the some sixty readings in it different from the others.
i) Bodleian - 1827, with a note by Coleridge that this was the initial version 'committed to writing'.
ii) The present manuscript.
iii) Yale - also with an abbreviated fourth version.
CONTENTS OF THE PRESENT ALBUM. (NB the paper in the album is watermarked 1831). Items are listed in the order of their appearance:
i) Pages 1-2 and 5-7. Coleridge's manuscript of his poem, dated 30 July 1831.
ii) Pages 13-16. Manuscript poem entitled: 'To the Memory of the Honble Charles Lambton, eldest son of Lord Durham who died in the fourteenth year of his age -  September - 1831'. This heart-felt 30-line elegy was clearly written by someone very close to the family and who was present as the death occurred ('...He was dearest to my soul...in the patience of his death I felt I loved him more...He died - we laid him in his shroud...'). There are third person references to both the mother and father of the deceased, so it cannot be one of them. It seems not improbable that the poem was written by a member of the family, perhaps indeed Charles Lambton's own aunt, Lady Hannah Althea Ellice. If this is so then it is perhaps not entirely by chance that Bowring's poem (see below iii) is about fleeting time ('...O time - a solemn time comes on / And all the enthusiast's dreams expire; / And song's sweet elegance is gone, / And silence sits upon the lyre.'); that Bentham's 'Advice' was addressed 'to a Nephew'; and that both were dated so precisely to exactly one month to the day after Charles Lambton's death. Bentham's note being related to a death might explain the otherwise inexplicable inclusion in it by him of his own date of birth.
iii) Page 17. Pasted in autograph poem by John Bowring, dated 24 October 1831 - the same date as iv) below. Bowring was Jeremy Bentham's next door neighbour in Queen's Square, was his disciple, employee (Bentham owned the Westminster Review), literary executor and editor; it was in Bowring's arms that Bentham died on 6 June 1832. It was doubtless he who prompted Bentham's 'Advice to a Nephew' (iv below).
iv) Page 21. Pasted in autograph manuscript signed by JEREMY BENTHAM (1748-1832), giving his date of birth, 'Advice from an Uncle to a Nephew', dated from Queen's Square 24 October 1831. See ii) and iii) above. [Sent to Lady Hannah Ellice - see below]
v) Written in poem 'A Portrait' by 'M[aria] G. R[oss] an elegy to a dead woman [? on Lady Hannah Althea Ellice]
vi) Written in poem by 'Maria G. Ross' about a soul's entry into Heaven. The words 'The Last!' are 'attached' to the signature by a line.
vi) Loose, but formerly attached with black seals, a poem, beginning 'For thee, my Comrade dear...' Written on the album leaf is: 'These lines were highly Valued - I do not know by whom written. E.C.'
vii) Written in a poem signed 'J. B[urns].' addressed 'To Miss C..... On the death of a dear Young Friend - April 11 1844', 36 lines in nine four-line stanzas beginning 'My Soul in holy Silence bow...'
viii) Written in in the same hand 9 lines signed M.G.R[oss] beginning 'Repose within my Soul - My Mother's Smile!...'
ix) Written in on the same page as vii) 'To a Lady' by J. Burns, four lines beginning 'Oh! that my Friend may long be spared...'
x) Written in a poem entitled 'Weep Not', addressed at the end to 'E.A.C.' and signed J.B--- 10 April 44.
PROVENANCE: This album is associated with the Lambton family, co. Durham, most evidently with Lord Durham himself (ennobled 1828) through the poem written on the death of his son in 1831. He, when John Lambton, married secondly (in 1816) Lady Louisa (1797-1841) one of the six daughters of Charles Grey, later Prime Minister, and second Earl Grey.
If it was not owned by the Lambtons themselves, then, and perhaps more likely, the album probably derives from Lord Durham's sister-in-law, Lady Hannah Althea Ellice (1785-1832), wife of Edward Ellice (1783-1863), merchant and politician of Scottish descent. She is known to have been the recipient of Bentham's 1831 'Advice' pasted into the album (information from John Bowring in his edition of Bentham's Works, 11 volumes, 1838-1843: 'On the 24th October he wrote, in a hand that appeared more than ordinarily firm and intelligible, the following passage, which he sent to Lady Hannah Althea Elice [sic], as his autograph'). She was Earl Grey's youngest sister, and was brought up at Falloden, near Alnwick, which is less than 50 miles from Lambton Castle, co. Durham, as was Lord Grey's own house at Howick (about one mile from Falloden), making it easy for the Grey girls to meet the Lambtons, resulting indeed in her [Hannah Althea's] sister's marriage to Lord Durham (Trevelyan is quoted by Cooper thus: 'The nearness to Northumberland of Lambton Castle in Durham, the happy intimacy which sprang up between the Howick swarm and their vivacious brother-in-law...', p. 57). Lady Hannah Althea's decision to start an album may have been as a consequence of her sister Lady Durham's doing the same. Lady Louisa in fact had two albums including letters by Goethe, Scott, Rossini and others and verses by Lord Byron, unknown and unpublished until 1906 (Reid). They were presented to her in 1822 by John Cam Hobhouse. Lady Hannah Althea's death in 1832, one year after Coleridge wrote out his poem and the dates of the elegy to Charles Lambton and of two of the inserted pieces in the album (1831-- i-iv above), could account for the absence of other items before 1844, those being addressed (not all) to one or two other persons, E.C. and E.A.C., into whose possession it presumably passed.
As it happened, a daughter of Lord Grey (and one who had the initials E.C.) married into the Ellice family. This was Eliza Courtney (1792-1859) who was Grey's illegitimate daughter with Georgina Duchess of Devonshire, conceived while Georgiana was married to William Cavendish, fifth Duke of Devonshire. Eliza was brought up at Falloden by her Grey grandparents. In 1814 she married Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Ellice (1784-1856), the younger brother of Edward Ellice, the husband of her 'aunt' Lady Hannah Althea (Grey's sister). The two women would have been raised together at Falloden, the 'aunt' being only seven years older than Eliza. However, her marriage to Robert Ellice in 1814 would have led to a change in her initials and therefore doubtless disqualifies her as being identified with the E.C. in the album, but it is another interesting link.
It was Lady Hannah Althea's husband, Edward Ellice (1783-1863; they married in 1809) who was instrumental in securing for their son Edward Ellice the position of private secretary to Lord Durham when the latter went as British Ambassador to Russia in 1832. In October 1843 Edward Ellice the elder remarried (Lady Hannah having died in 1832), this time to Anne Amelia, the widow of Lord Grey's great friend, Thomas Coke (1754-1842), first Earl of Leicester. She died in 1844, perhaps coincidentally the year the second series of entries in the album begins. She could have been the means by which the album passed into the Coke family, if E.C. were a Coke.
Coleridge's own roundabout links with the family of Lord Durham (the Lambtons) dated back to his Bristol days in the late 1790s, centred on the Pneumatic Institute opened in 1799 by Dr Thomas Beddoes (1760-1808) with a gift of £1,500 by Mr William Henry Lambton (1764-1797, Lord Durham's father) and £1,000 by Tom Wedgwood (Coleridge's friend and benefactor and chemistry experimenter with Humphry Davy). Beddoes (one of 'Coleridge's Circle' and father of the poet Thomas Lovell Beddoes) contributed to Coleridge's Watchman, was the recipient of a signed copy of Coleridge's Poems, 1796, and long advised him on health matters.
Living in Beddoes's house in 1798, and working for him, was Humphry Davy (1778-1829, the chemist and poet) who was first introduced to Coleridge by Joseph Cottle (1770-1853, Bristol publisher of Coleridge, Wordsworth and Southey). Davy and Coleridge were fellow-spirits (Cottle wrote: 'they frequently met under my roof, and their conversations were often brilliant') and became firm and long-term friends, with Davy, for instance, correcting the proofs for the second edition of Lyrical Ballads and later introducing Coleridge to the Royal Institution as a lecturer. Coleridge is known to have visited Beddoes's house while the Lambton brothers were there, though they were very young at the time.
Also living in the 1790s under Dr Beddoes's roof at the same time as Davy were the young sons of William Henry Lambton (that is, the later Lord Durham and his brother), whose education Beddoes was supervising before they went to Eton on the request of their father who died in Italy in 1797. Cottle records that the boys on various occasions throughout their lives testified a deep sense of respect and friendship for Davy; more specifically Lord Durham encouraged Davy's experiments with the miner's safety lamp (Durham owned collieries) and presented Davy with a service of silver plate in 1812 on behalf of the Newcastle colliers; and his home, Lambton Castle, was one of the first houses in Britain to be lit by gas.
It was shortly before Coleridge wrote out the poem in the album (31 July) that his friends, Thomas Pringle, Charles Lamb (at the end of May 1831) and others were negotiating for a pension for Coleridge with Edward Ellice (1781-1863), Lady Hannah Althea's husband, in his capacity of Joint Secretary at the Treasury (he was thus the government's chief agent in distributing honours and favours), a post he held between 1830 and 1832. It is known that Earl Grey himself was involved since Samuel Rogers, another making representations for the pension, reported: 'I saw Lord Grey yesterday, and am happy to say that the work is done for Coleridge. He is still to receive his annuity.'
JOHN BOWRING (1792-1872), poet, MP, political economist, a leading Radical, traveller, polyglot, translator, editor of the Westminster Review, later Governor of Hong Kong, friend and employee of Bentham and one of the most famous Unitarians of his time -- he contributed a poem (see above iii), which is pasted in this album and dated 24 October 1831, and he was presumably responsible also for supplying the 'Advice' in the album, of the same date, from Bentham, his employer, mentor and next door neighbour.
Bowring may well be the key linking figure in the production of this album and its contents. He was well known to Edward Ellice. they having served together on the Greek Committee in 1823-1824; both he and Ellice were accused of 'cramming their [own] fingers in this pie.' In 1830 Bowring became an official in the same Whig government of Lord Grey as Lord Durham (who was known as 'Radical Jack') and Ellice (also a fellow Radical). Bowring became secretary to Sir Henry Parnell's Committee on the Public Accounts and Edward Ellice was also a member of the Committee. In his Autobiographical Recollections, Bowring recalled he had attended a dinner in Paris in the company of Ellice and Lord Durham. Ellice, Hume and others, with some of Bowring's Unitarians, organised a fund in 1828 to ensure that Bowring's possessions were not sequestered. In 1846 Bowring wrote to Edward Ellice: 'You have been in all circumstances a kind and useful friend, one to whom I have never hesitated to address myself unreservedly...When, nearly twenty years ago, commercial disasters left me pennyless (I do not forget - I cannot forget - the kindness you and some few friends exhibited then)...The Westminster Review, of which I was then and for many years the Editor...' (Bartle p. 63). Bartle also states: 'In his earlier years he [Bowring] sought the friendship of Coleridge, Wordsworth, Southey and above all Byron...', but says no more (p. 9). It is clear from his Autobiographical Recollections that Bowring was acquainted with Coleridge personally: 'Coleridge seemed to live in the dreamy regions of cloudland, and it was difficult to follow him through the mazes of his misty eloquence. At table, his harmonious periods fell from his lips like water from a fountain. Every now and then he was observed to put his finger and thumb into his waistcoat pocket, from which he took an opium pill, which he clandestinely conveyed to his mouth, and so he seemed to feed his gentle, and often most touching oratory.'
It may be, moreover, in January 1830 that Bowring would have gained Coleridge's greater attention and gratitude. It has often been asserted (though later attributed to another) that it was Bowring who gave the first major notice to his fellow-Devonian, fellow-poet and fellow-Unitarian, Coleridge's Poetical Works when he reviewed the book very favourably in the Westminster Review, of which he was editor. Indeed it was among the most favourable reviews Coleridge ever received, the author noting in particular Coleridge's ability to make the supernatural 'serve to unfold and illustrate what is natural and the wildest and boldest creation develop the essential principles of humanity.' In this, the author said, Coleridge, like Shakespeare, was 'a master of the magic art.' In Coleridge's Table Talk, in the summer of 1830, Henry Nelson Coleridge was doubtless echoing his uncle (STC's) sentiments about that review (to which he must be alluding) when he recorded: 'No public critic now denies his genius and the pre-eminence of his works - at least his poems. In this last point Tory and Radical seem to agree.' Bowring was a leading Radical. One way or another, Bowring clearly knew Coleridge well enough to have courted him to write out a few pages in the album of his patron Edward Ellice's wife, had he chosen to do so.
PROVENANCE (conclusion): Almost certainly Lady Hannah Althea Ellice, sister-in-law of Lord Durham; not in the sale of books with a Byron manuscript and some autograph letters from the library at Lambton Castle held by Sotheby's, 8 February 1932 (copy of catalogue included here); Allan Ramsay; Phillips, 12 November 1992, lot 115; Chris Johnson.
REFERENCES: The Collected Works of S.T. Coleridge, Poetical Works (Variorum and Reading Texts), no. 253, edited by J.C.C. Mays; Ted Hughes, 'Myths, Metres, Rhythms' and 'The Snake in the Oak', Winter Pollen, 1994; The Letters, 6 volumes, edited by E. L. Griggs; James Spatz, 'The Mystery of Eros: Sexual Initiation in Coleridge's "Christabel"', PMLA, volume 90, 1975; Henry Nelson Coleridge, Table Talk, edited by Carl Woodray, 2 volumes, 1990; Rosemary Ashton, The Life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1996; The Collected Poetical Works of Coleridge, edited by E.H. Coleridge, 1975; Biographia Literaria, 2 volumes, edited by J. Edgell and W.J. Bate, 2 volumes, 1983; Index of English Literary Manuscripts, Volume IV, part 1, compiled by Barbara Rosenbaum and Pamela White, 1982, where there is no reference to the present manuscript; George Bartle, An Old Radical [Bowring] and his Brood, 1994; L. Cooper, Radical Jack, The Life of John George Lambton, First Earl of Durham, 1959; S.J. Reid, Life and Letters of the first Earl Durham, 1792-1840, 2 volumes, 1906. I am grateful to J.C.C. Mays for his interest in this manuscript and for reading this description.
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