Malcolm Guite

from Chapter Three

He was no longer an irresponsible college student off on one jaunt or adventure after another, confident that his family would always bail him out. He would soon be a father, with mouths to feed and a family to care for, and yet, more than ever, he felt the profound and powerful calling of his muse, knowing full well that he could scarcely rely on poetry for a living. He considered the possibility of starting a school or taking in lodgers or boarders as a tutor. He also considered taking a post as a Unitarian minister, since he had been so welcomed by the Unitarian community when he joined them in campaigning against the slave trade. Even this early, though, his theology was moving back more fully in a Trinitarian direction. Deep in his heart, he knew that neither of these alternatives was his true calling, but that he must necessarily provide for his family.

Rick WilcoxSamuel Coleridge tried to make a living by publishing The Watchman, but the money was insufficient, even with a successful, busy speaking tour.  While his own efforts appeared to be in vain, a series of subsequent events proved more providential than fortuitous. Coleridge was introduced to Wordsworth by John Pinney, a wealthy slave trader who had been morally convicted by Coleridge’s words. Additionally, he reconnected with Tom Poole of Nether Stowey who both arranged a group of patrons and provided the Coleridges a home.

Malcolm Guite writes:

In September, while they were back at Bristol, Sara was delivered of her first child, a boy they named Hartley, after the philosopher. And she needed time to settle and recover before a move. There were debts to be paid, obligations to be met, before the Coleridges could leave Bristol, but eventually, just after Christmas in 1796, on a freezing night, they arrived in Nether Stowey, where Coleridge was to begin an intense period of creative endeavor, literary and personal growth in which he would write the poems that would make his name, chief of which would be The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.


Have you ever benefited from a convergence of people who blessed your life?

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Rick Wilcox

Editor in Chief | Literary Life