Download A travers deux siècles - Souvenirs et rencontres (1883-1967) by Camille Marbo (Marguerite Appell-Borel) PDF

By Camille Marbo (Marguerite Appell-Borel)

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23 Coleridge’s letters to De Quincey indicate an early sense of trust and familiarity between the two men. He writes frankly to De Quincey (c. 25 January 1808) of his own ‘misdemeanours of Omission’ and invites open criticism of his work from De Quincey ‘as a proof of Friendship’ from one whose ‘feelings’ were of greater value to him than the ‘mere objections’ of others (CL, III, pp. 48–49). Again (2 February 1808) he describes a ‘nervous’ attack which is clearly a withdrawal symptom of his opium dependency and mentions his ‘considerable alarm’ at not having seen De Quincey in several days during the period of their close association in London.

If Coleridge’s family destroyed what evidence they could find of Coleridge’s deemed indiscretion in his correspondence with Allsop and Cottle, it appears probable that they would have effaced all favourable traces of De Quincey’s relationship to Coleridge as well. Since in this case we are considering letters to Coleridge (rather than from him, as with the Cottle correspondence) it may even be pointed out that their assumed destruction was probably within the rights of literary executorship, legalistically conceived.

L. Griggs, the modern editor of Coleridge’s letters, on the early treatment of Coleridge’s correspondence is highly significant: Surviving fragments and letters with passages inked out or cut away make it certain […] that Mrs Coleridge and other members of the family, shocked by the publication of the intimate correspondence with Allsop and Cottle, went carefully through the Coleridge letters in their possession and destroyed a number of them. (I, p. xxxviii) Grigg’s statement tends to validate Cottle’s suspicions regarding the intentions of the early Coleridge editors and carries implications for De Quincey too.

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