October 18 1815: Byron to Coleridge on Christabel

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On October 18 1815, Lord Byron writes to Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Byron mentions that last spring, Walter Scott recited to him one of Coleridge’s unpublished poems “that  all took a hold on my imagination which I never shall wish to shake off”. Byron was not told the title of the poem, 

Dear Sir – Your letter I have just received. – I will willingly do whatever you direct about the volumes in question – the sooner the better – it shall not be for want of endeavour on my part – as a Negociator with the “Trade” (to talk technically) that you are not enabled to do yourself justice. – Last Spring I saw W[alte]r Scott – he repeated to me a considerable portion of an unpublished poem of yours – the wildest & finest I ever heard in that kind of composition – the title he did not mention – but I think the heroine’s name was Geraldine – at all events – the “toothless mastiff bitch” – & the “witch Lady” – the descriptions of the hall – the lamp suspended from the image – & more particularly of the Girl herself as she went forth in the evening – all took a hold on my imagination which I never shall wish to shake off. – I mention this – not for the sake of boring you with compliments – but as a prelude to the hope that this poem is or is to be in the volumes you are now about to publish. – I do not know that even “Love” or the “Ancient Mariner” are so impressive – & to me there are few things in our tongue beyond these two productions. – – W[alte]r Scott is a staunch & sturdy admirer of yours – & with a just appreciation of your capacity – deplored to me the want of inclination & exertion which prevented you from giving full scope to your mind. – I will answer your question as to the “Beggar’s [Bush?]” – tomorrow – or next day – I shall see Rae & Dibdin (the acting M[anage]rs) tonight for that purpose. – Oh – your tragedy – I do not wish to hurry you – but I am indeed very anxious to have it under consideration – it is a field in which there are none living to contend against you & in which I should take a pride & pleasure in seeing you compared with the dead – I say this not disinterestly but as a Committee man – we have nothing even tolerable – except a tragedy of Sotheby’s – which shall not interfere with yours – when ready – you can have no idea what trash there is in the four hundred fallow dramas now lying on the shelves of D[rury] L[ane]. I never thought so highly of good writers as lately – since I have had an opportunity of comparing them with the bad. –
ever yrs truly
BYRON

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