COLERIDGE' S Kubla Khan, Or, A Vision in a Dream, first printed with Christabel
The Pains of-Sleep in 1816, has long been regarded as one of the great literary icons of
the Romantic movement. Coleridge's famous account of its conception in the summer or
autumn of 1797 - the lonely Exmoor farmhouse, the effects of an 'anodyne', and the
poetical reverie interrupted by the arrival of 'a person on business from Porlock' -
contributed in no small measure to the hypnotic sway that it has always exercised over
the imagination of its readers. Awe and wonderment were, if anything, only increased by
the researches of J. L. Lowes and others into its sources, which proved to have stretched
far beyond the simple sentence in Purchas his Pilgrimage that was allegedly the immediate
inspiration.^ Yet these fifty-four verses were, the author later insisted, merely 'A
Fragment'' rescued from a broken trance in which images, rising up before him 'as
things', had shaped themselves into a poem of two or three hundred lines. Some scholars
have been sceptical, seeing in Coleridge's insistence on the dream-origins of the poem
a mere fiction masking his inability to complete it, though this line of argument is
nowadays little regarded.
Rather surprisingly for an author who left such a mass of papers behind him, the only
manuscript text of the poem that is known to survive is the autograph fair copy publicly
displayed for many years now in the British Library galleries.^ This first came to the
notice of scholars in 1934, and was acquired for the nation in 1962 from the widow of
the Marquess of Crewe who had inherited it from his father, the bibliophile Richard
Monckton Milnes (1809-85), first Baron Houghton.^ Milnes had bought it at auction at
Puttick and Simpson's premises in Leicester Square on 28 April 1859, where it was lot
109 (fig. i) in the Catalogue of a Very Select and Interesting Collection of Autograph
Letters. It shows a strange sense of values that while the autograph of this, the most
famous opium poem, fetched £1 15s Milnes had to pay £2 is for a two-page letter of
1812 (lot 483) in which Southey lamented that Coleridge's drug habit was 'incurable'!
Market values at the time are put into further perspective by the fact that the Duchess
of Marlborough's allegedly autograph character of Queen Anne (lot 359) cost Milnes ^£6,
and a letter of Dryden (lot 209) £7 los.'' Of course, other things being equal, older items
have generally tended to realize higher prices; but we can only speculate what the unique
manuscript of Coleridge's most magical poem might fetch nowadays.
CoLEHiDGE (Samuel Taylor).
Autograph poetry, signed, 2 pages 4to.
"This fragment with a good deal more not recoverable, composed, in
a sort of reverie hrought on by two gruns of opium, taken to check
5 dysentery, 1797;" it commences:—
'* In Xannadik did Cubla Khan
A stately Pleasure Dome decree
Where Alpht the sacred river ran ^
Hiro* Caves measureless to man,
Down to a sanless sea.**
110 CoKQMVE (William) dramatic poet b. 1670, d. 1729
A.L.S., 1 page ^to., to J. Keally, Esq,, with seal, June 7,
1 7 0 1 ^ ane? TERY
Fig. I. The 1859 sale catalogue description of Kubla Khan. S.C. Puttick 573, p. 17 (detail)
A fairly cursory examination of the contents of the Puttick catalogue reveals that it
comprised at least the major portion of a collection of autographs formed by Ehzabeth
Smith, widow of Thomas Smith, a Gloucestershire J.P. She was the daughter of Richard
Chandler, a wealthy woolstapler who in 1750 had built Constitution House at the east
end of Bell Lane in Gloucester, where she was born about 1770.^ Her husband, Thomas
Smith, was a native of Cirencester who had trained as a barrister, but 'from an
impediment of speech, did not make a public exercise of his profession'.^ The couple set
up home first at Padhill and then at Bownhams, or Bownham House, both near
Minchinhampton in Gloucestershire: later on they settled in a late eighteenth-century
house at Easton Grey, near Malmesbury, in Wiltshire."^ Smith is described as well-
informed and liberal-minded, ' a gentleman and philosopher in his pleasures and habits;
a philanthropist and public character in his forms of living and acting'. He was
apparently known as ' The Maecenas of his Neighbourhood'.^ After his death on 31 May
1822 his widow sought 'consolation in books and business, for she attends to the details
of a farm which used to afford amusement and employment to him'.^ She was ' a person
of much originahty of character... a Unitarian, and therefore not much in sympathy with
the ordinary county and clerical society, but was intimate both at Bowood with Lord and
Lady Lansdowne, and at Gatcombe with Mr. Ricardo. She had a large and valuable
library and collection of autographs, which were sold and dispersed at her death [on 6
January 1859], for she hved to the great age of ninety-two.'^** Easton Grey and the other
estates then passed by the terms of her husband's will to Graham Smith (d. 1871), eldest
son of his cousin Richard. It was presumably he who arranged, with considerable
dispatch, for the sale of her collection.
Chandler's second wife, Mrs Smith's stepmother, was an early friend of Maria
Edgeworth and the recipient of two letters of 1791 and 1792 that are listed in the Puttick
catalogue (lots 214, 215).^^ In due course Mrs Smith formed an acquaintance with the
novelist who, during a visit to Easton Grey in December 1820, wrote to her sister Honora
in the most glowmg terms about the house and her hosts :^2
This house IS delightful - in a beautiful situation - with river - old trees - fine swells and vallies
and soft verdure even at this time of the year...The house, convenient, comfortable, perfectly
neat, without the teizing precision of order - the library-drawing-room furnished with good
sense - delightful armchairs low sofas - stools, plenty of moveable tables - books on tables and
in open book-cases and in short all that speaks the habits and affords the means of agreeable
occupation. In short Easton Grey might be cited as a happy model of what an English country
gentleman's house is or ought to be...Mrs. Smiths easy unaffected well bred kind manners and
Mr. Smiths literary and sensible conversation make their house one of the most agreeable I ever
Last night he read to us from a book of manuscript treasures two admirable letters of
Mackintosh written when he was in India and addressed to Mr Whishaw... Mr. Smith also
shewed us some little unpublished poems of Lord Byrons and some notes of his in a copy of Scots
Bards and Reviewers which do him honor and which Harriet has copied into our book so that you
shall all see them - in time.
Possibly she had by this time modified the view that she took in 1813 when viewing the
Milton manuscript in Trinity College, Cambridge:' I have not such delight in seeing the
hand-writing of great authors and great folk as some people have.'^^ During a further
visit to Easton Grey in November 1821 she mentioned that the Smiths were 'connected
by friendship with most of the literary people whom we know and with many whom we
do not know-for instance Hobhouse - Burdett &c.'. The list also included Sydney
Smith, Francis Horner, Smithson Tennant, Francis Wollaston, John Whishaw and Sir
Samuel Romilly.^^ It is not surprising therefore to find both John Cam Hobhouse and
his friend Byron represented in Mrs Smith's collection (lots 70 and 279), though the
'little unpublished poems' of Byron are not listed in there. It is difficult to identify his
annotated copy of English Bards and Scots Reviewers (1809, etc.) with any of the two or
three now known: possibly it was the one sent in October 1815 to Leigh Hunt, who is
himself represented in the collection by a series of letters to the publisher William Button
(lots 292-294).*^ Again, only one of the letters of Sir James Mackintosh (lot 353) seems
to have been in Mrs Smith's hands at the time of her death. Clearly the collection
suffered losses as well as gains over the years.
The economist David Ricardo (lot 35), who lived at Gatcombe Park, near Stroud, had
first met the Smiths at Haileybury early in May 1814. A letter that he wrote to T. R.
Malthus on 18 December 1814 included a plea:
I dined a little while ago at Mr. Smith's whom I first met at your house. Mrs. Smith told me that
she had a collection of the hand writing of a great number of men who had distinguished
themselves by their writings, and she wished that I would give her a letter of yours to add to her
collection. Knowing that I had many which would not discredit you, I assented; but after I
came home I thought I had no right to do it without your consent - which I hope you will not
refuse. ^^
The result was the addition of an interesting document challenging the views of John
Stuart Mill on political economy (lot 355).^^ Clearly Mrs Smith's collection was already
well supplied by this date: most probably, as will shortly be seen, she had begun it more
than a decade earlier. Though this makes her one of the pioneers of the great age of
autograph-hunting, coeval with William Upcott and Dawson Turner, she is not noticed
by A. N. L. Munby, either in the main body of his study of this cult, or in the summary
list of sale-catalogues given in his appendix. ^^ The explanation may be that, in her
provincial seclusion, only her closest friends knew of her collecting interests and enjoyed
the fruits. Yet, though the collection - at least in the state in which it reached the
saleroom - was far from being one of the richest of the time, neither is it wholly without
The autographs reflect a wide range of talent in the fields of literature, drama, music,
politics and the sciences - more especially medicine and natural science. As one would
expect, they include a high proportion of contemporaries and not a few women writers.
But along with the specimens from warriors, divines and noblemen that were de rigueur
in all such collections there appear some items of a rather rarer nature, such as
autographs of Americans and dissenters. Mrs Smith's acquisitions came through three
main channels. As we have seen, some were letters addressed to her or to her husband
by eminent men and women who belonged to their circle; while rather more were
memorabilia of distinguished contemporaries that were obtained from or through
friends. The remainder consist of miscellaneous acquisitions, often of earlier periods,
apparently made by purchase from booksellers or at auction. Since the Smiths' social
circle centred on Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and the Bristol area, many of the items have
local origins or connections. The Marquess of Lansdowne seems to have been a kindred
spirit. Perhaps unfortunately for Mrs Smith, his brother and predecessor in the title had
in 1807 sold to the British Museum the famous collection of manuscripts formed by his
father, the first Marquess, who, as it happens, is represented here (lot 320) by letters
addressed to mutual friends.
Among other local residents who from time to time supplied material were the poet
William Lisle Bowles (lot 51) and the Wiltshire topographer John Britton (lot 487) who
mentions the Smiths in passing in his Beauties of Wiltshire.^^ The Bristol-educated
philanthropist John Kenyon contributed the only Wordsworth autograph (lot 542).
Several letters (lots 50, 303) are addressed to Dr William Adams (d. 1789), Master of
Pembroke College, Oxford, and a friend of Samuel Johnson. Adams was also a
prebendary of Gloucester; and his daughter, who had delighted Johnson by her
attentions during his visit to his old college in June 1784, married a Painswick man in
1788 and became a near neighbour of the Smiths. We cannot be certain that the letters
written by Coleridge to his friend John Morgan (lots 105-108), who came of a Bristol
Unitarian family and lived nearby at Calne, found their way into Mrs Smith's possession
before Morgan's death in 1820. Although these local connections predominated,
acquisitions occasionally came from much further afield. In the autumn of 1818 the
Smiths were abroad, in France and Italy, where they met some eminent botanists.^"^ The
catalogue includes a letter of introduction written by Alphonse de Candolle to Gaetano
Savi at Pisa (lot 128).
The Puttick sale occupied the afternoons of three consecutive days, from Thursday 28
to Saturday 30 April 1859 inclusive. The final hundred and forty-five lots (562-706) were
apparently drawn from other sources; but the bulk of it seems to have consisted of Mrs
Smith's own collection, in five hundred and sixty-one lots, that realized £206 is. But
even here we must tread cautiously. One of the earliest datable items in the whole sale
denotes either a remarkably late acquisition, or, more probably, some infiltration by the
auctioneers of items from other sources - a not uncommon proceeding at the time. The
letter of the younger Donne (lot 136) to an unidentified nobleman, dated simply 4
December, had been in the possession of the man-of-letters and collector Samuel Weller
Singer, and sold among his autographs on 3 August 1858 at Sotheby's (lot 39), when it
was purchased by one Knight.
Other rarities are likely to have been genuine early acquisitions. A letter of Dryden
concerning Thomas Creech's translation of Lucretius (1682) was offered with a covering
note dated 1811 from the critic Edmund Malone to an unnamed correspondent who had
submitted it for his opinion (lot 209). This letter, first published by Scott in 1808, was
still in the possession of Monckton Milnes's descendants in 1940.^^ The catalogue entry
records that 'Sending an autograph of Pope to his correspondent, [Malone] writes, "I
have not a scrap of Shakespeare's handwriting, but I enclose a facsimile of his
autograph"' . Since Mrs Smith's collection included a stray letter and receipt of Pope
(lots 421, 422), she seems fairly likely to have been the person addressed here. If so, her
hopes of a Shakespeare autograph, especially after the Ireland fiasco had drawn attention
to their extreme rarity even in public archives, suggest at that comparatively early stage
neither a very informed approach to collecting nor, perhaps, much appreciation of the
likely market value of what she was seeking.
Eighteenth-century literature was, not surprisingly, better represented than, that of
earlier periods, though not all the items were what they seemed. To Thomas Gray the
catalogue attributes an 'Epigram of Martial paraphrased, i page 8vo., containing 25 lines
in his autograph' (lot 254). This manuscript, which is in fact neither in Gray's autograph
nor apparently of his composition, passed by way of Sotheby's sale of 6 November 1951
to the Bibliotheque Martin Bodmer at Geneva.^^ Robert Burns was represented by a
letter and some verses, both first published in Robert Cromek's Reliques of Robert Burns
(1808), the originals of which are now lost.^^ Cromek was the engraver so despised by
Blake, whose 'earnest wish to possess a scrap of the hand-writing of Burns, originally led
to the discovery of most of the papers that compose' the Reliques', but unfortunately
there is nothing to link him directly with Mrs Smith. ^^ That she did co-operate with
editors is clear from the fact that she allowed a further letter of Burns to be included
in the Aldine edition of 1839.^^ A collection of letters addressed to Garrick, with a few
autograph specimens, was broken up into single lots (138-160) for the sale and widely
Some of the most interesting and unusual acquisitions were kept to the end of the sale.
These included two albums of dramatic (lot 545) and one of royal (lot 546) autographs,
uniformly bound in elegant dark blue morocco, all of which went to the bookseller
George Willis. The annotated and interleaved copy of Theophilus Cibber's Lives of the
Poets (1753) (lot 547) may be the one that had belonged to Isaac Reed and afterwards
to Joseph Haslewood and is now in the British Library.^^ Two mysterious lots (552 and
553) comprise novels by the anonymous 'authoress of Ariel'. The first, entitled ' The
Prophecy, or the Damsel of the Cross of Gold', in which the writer was 'assisted by the
Rev. J. T. James, Bishop of Calcutta' (d. 1828), was a manuscript prepared for the press.
Whether this lady is to be identified with the ' Mrs Isaacs' who published Ariel, or the
Invisible Monitor in 1801, and her last known work in 1816, is unknown. Another woman
writer, though in a quite different vein, is represented by four volumes of 'Reflections
and Meditations, Moral and Religious' by Sarah Harrison of Daventry (lot 555).
Far and away the most expensive lot at the sale, however, may or may not have come
from Mrs Smith's collection.^^ It comprised the correspondence of the Rev. William
Broome relating to his own and Elijah Fenton's labours in translating Homer,
undertaken on behalf of Alexander Pope whose famous version of the Iliad appeared over
the years 1714 to 1720 and of the Odyssey in 1725 and 1726. The prize items here were
some fifty-four letters of Pope himself covering the whole period of the enterprise,
together with autograph copies of replies by Broome. On Broome's death at Bath in
November 1745 his papers seem to have passed to the first Earl Cornwallis, and may have
come on to the market about the time that the direct line became extinct in 1824.^^ At
the Puttick sale the whole correspondence was bought by the publisher John Murray II
(1808-92) and eventually appeared in Elwin's and Courthope's edition of The Works of
Alexander Pope, issued between 1871 and 1889 under his family imprint. ^^ They were
reprinted from this text in the standard modern edition of Pope's letters by George
Sherburn, as the originals were then no longer available.^** In 1859 this fascinating
archive fetched, at jCios, more than half of the sum realized by the whole of the
Smith collection. One would certainly like to know more about the bidding here.
Among all these items Kubla Khan remains the single most powerful literary relic. The
text occupies one and three-quarter sides of a quarto half-sheet of writing paper. In the
blank space on the verso, following the prose note at the conclusion of the poem, stands
an unsigned but contemporary pencil inscription that offers the only indication of its
early provenance. This states that the copy had been 'Sent by M' Southey, as an
Autograph of Coleridge' (fig. 2). A possible alternative reading 'M""' Southey' that has
been proposed by some scholars seems fairly certainly to be a misapprehension
occasioned by the colon under the superscript ' r ' of ' M^' , the effect of which is
compounded by the presence of tiny flecks of foreign matter in or on the paper at this
point.^^ Precisely why, how and, above all, when did it come into Mrs Smith's
possession ?
. 2. The pencil inscription on the verso of Kubla Khan. Add. MS. 50847, f. iv (detail)
Robert Southey was a West Countryman and a native of Bristol, though partly
brought up by his aunt in Bath. Moreover, thanks to his conversion by Coleridge,
himself an erstwhile resident of Bristol, he was a Unitarian.^^ These circumstances would
have favoured his striking up an acquaintance with the Smiths, though precisely when
and how is still uncertain. The earliest indication occurs in the letter that Southey wrote
to Coleridge from Bristol on 14 March 1803, in which he remarked that it 'is nearly a
week now since Danvers and I returned from Bownham...'.^^ All that we know of this
visit is that Southey was presented with a copy of Hayley's Life ofCowper, a book which
he described as ' the most pick-pocket work, for its shape and price, and author and
publisher, that ever appeared'.^^ Although he soon after returned to the Lakes, where
he had taken up residence in 1800, he did not altogether lose contact with his hosts, and
confirmation of his gift of the Kubla Khan manuscript may be gathered from letters to
Charles Danvers, the Bristol wine merchant who was his friend and frequent
On 7 November 1803 Southey wrote that ' The Bownham letters came in the parcel.
I will make up something for M^® Smith soon - in truth I feel myself very much obliged
to her & her husband.'^^ Although this predates by more than a decade the mention of
her collection made in Ricardo's letter we may be confident that this 'something' was to
be an addition to it. There followed a silence of three months before he returned to this
topic, remarking on i February 1804 (fig. 3):*'*^
/ jPt^ yZ^ r^ ^^c
Fig. J. Letter of Robert Southey, i February 1804. Add. MS. 47890, f. 189V (detail)
This very day I was going to write to M'"^ Smith when Madoc tempted me astray. / will do it
tomorrow, £5" this is a promise. I will send her a fragment of Coleridges & my own poem on
Emmett. & withall a letter of such honest confession as shall obtain pardon for a very foolish
delay. Yet in plain truth the awkwardness of sending double enclosures has been a lurking cause
of this delay.
He was as good as his word, and on 2 February he wrote to her in terms outlined in
the Puttick catalogue (lot 478):
He sends a transcript of his own Lamentation for Robert Fmmett, 'as the last poem of
communicable length which I have written, and also because of the subject'. He relates an
anecdote of Emmet's escape from Ireland during the Rebellion, ^ there is a strange warp in every
Irishman's nature, they are all either wrong headed or wrong hearted, and the genius which they
almost all possess serves only to render them more mischievous'. It was his intention to have
published Madoc by subscription. *I have given up the intention, perceiving, as I had forseen,
that the attempt would be inevitably unsuccessful, and therefore, in some respects, detrimental.
However, the book will, in some shape or other, make its appearance in the course of the ensuing
winter.' The poem mentioned in the letter accompanies it.
The 'fragment of Coleridges', surprisingly not mentioned here, must have been Kubla
Khan. While in 1859 the Emmet lament still formed part of the same lot as the letter,
Coleridge's poem had become separated from it, presumably because the arrangement
of Mrs Smith's albums was largely alphabetical. It is evident that she had specifically
requested specimens of poetry: the fact that those sent were as yet unpublished would
have added novelty to the gift and a degree of exclusivity to her collection.
At any rate, on i March following Southey was able to report to Danvers that
My letter with its inclosures went to M*"^ Smith punctually to my promise. - & will probably
induce a reply, as I offered my services when they come into the North in looking out lodgings
for them, if they will stay as long as they ought to stay to see the country well, & in directing their
route, & in showing them such things as might else escape their notice."
Three vertical and two horizontal folds still visible in the leaf may confirm that Kubla
Khan was conveyed by post; and, although the only specimen available for comparison
(Add. MS. 36467, f. 293) may date from thirty years later, we may be fairly sure that it
was Mrs Smith's hand that added the pencil note recording its origin. Traces of glue at
the foot of the verso probably came from its subsequent mounting in her album.
Further contact with the Smiths was envisaged at this period. On 17 February 1804
Southey told his brother Tom that ' the Smiths of Bownham (who gave me Hayleys Life
of Cowper) will probably visit the Lakes this year'.^^ In late Spring Southey was away
from home, but had returned by 12 June, when he told
I was thoroughly wearied in London ... I had no time to look for the Smiths. Probably they will
let me know their approach that lodgings may be procured for them, & you also will arrange this
with them, that you may meet. September is the best month, or even later, for beauty. If you come
during the cloudless weather of full summer you lose the light & shades, the scene shifting &
machinery of heaven which form so great a part of mountains magnificence.
By 2 July, however, he was imploring Danvers to 'come at once. About the Smiths I
know nothing. You can easily find them out and know their plans, & regulate your own
accordingly'.^^ On 22 July he wrote that lodgings were available for Danvers and himself
at a little inn in Grasmere, and that Wordsworth would show them all the best walks.
Southey added, however, t hat ' Should the Smiths come with you the house at Grasmere
will not have room'.^^ This is seemingly the last that is heard of their plans: whether they
ever came to fruition is not known, though a letter of 2 August rather seems to suggest
not."*^ Perhaps it is significant that in 1807 Southey sent Thomas Smith directions for
tourists in the Lakes (lot 480).
I l l
The first detailed examination of the Crewe manuscript was that published two decades
ago by Norman Fruman whose investigations brought into sharp focus doubts that had
already been expressed about the poem's genesis and the date, or rather dates, given by
Coleridge for its composition.^^ According to the manuscript note
This fragment with a good deal more, not recoverable, composed, in a sort of Reverie brought
on by two grains of Opium, taken to check a dysentery, at a Farm House between Porlock &
Linton, a quarter of a mile from Culbone Church, in the fall of the year, 1797.
In 1816 this was elaborated into the well-known account of its mystical conception, after
which the poet 'instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here preserved'.
Fruman concluded that the variants between the sole surviving manuscript and the
version eventually printed indicate that the evolution of this account was a piece of
Coleridgean myth-making. Yet the testimony of Southey's covering letter has obvious
relevance here. In referring to Kubla Khan as a 'fragment' he clearly did not mean
merely a ' scrap' of Coleridge's handwriting. Rather he was repeating the author's own
definition of the poem, and one that is of especial significance precisely because it was
accepted by one of his closest friends at least as early as February 1804. In these
circumstances it would be more than interesting to know what more, if anything,
Southey might have said about the poem by way of introducing it to the recipient.
Unfortunately his letter, which was bought by the dealer George Willis for £1 12s,
seems to have gone to ground.
According to the note in the manuscript, composition took place in ' the fall of 1797',
but in the Christabe I volume the date given is ' the summer of the year 1797'. What seems
to be the earliest reference to the poem takes the form of a pun made in October 1798
by Dorothy Wordsworth in the journal that she kept during her stay with her brother
and Coleridge in Goslar. Here she speaks of 'carrying Kubla to a fountain' -''KubeV
being the German word for a bucket- apparently in allusion to the 'mighty fountain'
of the poem.*^ (It is harder to believe that she intended a pun on Khan.) Later, in
December 1800, clear quotations from the poem were made in some verses written by
the actress and author Mary Robinson, ahas 'Perdita'."*^ Yet such is the continuing
uncertainty that editors have been obliged to guess at either September—October 1797,
May 1798 or even October 1799. Where the available evidence is confined to two
witnesses, precise chronology is of vital importance in attempting to determine the
development of the text. Although we now know that the unique manuscript of the poem
was in existence by February 1804, the question that inevitably suggests itself is whether
this was of recent transcription. Was it, that is, written out by Coleridge at Southey's
prompting at or around that date, expressly as a presentation-copy for Mrs Smith, or
merely taken up from papers that were already to hand at Greta Hall? If the former, then
it almost certainly dates from some time after Southey's letter to Danvers of 7 November
1803: if the latter, further researches will have to cover the whole period as far back as
In the period immediately under consideration Coleridge and Southey were together
at Greta Hall only until 20 December 1803, when Coleridge visited the Word worths at
Grasmere. Sickness caused him to remain there until mid-January. It is tempting to see
more than mere coincidence in an entry made in his notebooks during this time that
records his reading Wordsworth's copy of Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas his Pilgrimes,
by the very author whose earlier volume had sparked off Kubla Khan.^^ Moreover,
continuing traffic between Dove Cottage and Greta Hall is attested by his surviving
directions for the forwarding of some portrait-sketches of himself, by two requests to his
wife to procure ink and by his concern that Southey had not yet received a book sent to
him.^^ At all events, a date any later than 13 January for copying Kubla Khan is highly
improbable since on that day he left for London and, shortly after, for Malta to take up
his new post as secretary to Sir Alexander Ball. He did not return to England until
August 1806.
On the other hand, it may seem unlikely that, ill as his own obsessive complaints show
him to have been, and on the point of departure from friends and country, Coleridge
would have been disposed to gratify a request for an autograph. Indeed the wording of
Southey s letter of i February 1804 might be taken to indicate a last minute resolution,
prompted by conscience, and made in Coleridge's absence. Did Southey perhaps have
the fair copy already in his own possession, or did he seek permission to take it from
among papers left by Coleridge at Greta Hall? If the latter, we should have to assume
that the author retained another copy, now lost, which served as the basis for the text
printed a dozen years later. This is hardly an insuperable objection, since the lines were
probably fixed in his memory; but we might do well all the same to ponder the
implications of such a possibility as a means to explaining some indisputably authorial
but perhaps merely accidental variants of a sort that might have been thrown up by the
effort of recollection, or rather recreation, of the poem twelve years later.
Whether or not there remains any possibility that the copy originated at some earlier
period altogether, Fruman's remark that as aids to establishing the date of the
manuscript the 'testimony of watermarks, paper, ink and handwriting - all this and
much more can never lead to a conclusive answer' is particularly unfortunate.^^ For in
the absence of new documentary evidence these physical details remain of paramount
importance. The only practical hope for settling the date of copying would be the
discovery, among other manuscript remains of Coleridge, Southey or even the
Wordsworths, of a dated or datable document written on paper of precisely the same type.
For the present, however, this remains merely a pious hope. The blue-tinted paper of
Kubla Khan, measuring some 295 mm in height and 185 mm in width, was torn from a
whole sheet of some 370 mm x 295 mm. The undated watermark bears a seated figure of
Britannia within an ellipse surmounted by a crown, the chain-lines around it being spaced
at 26 mm and the whole device measuring n o mm in height by 73 mm in width. A
capital C, or more probably G, occurs within the double border of the ellipse,
immediately below the crown. For what it may be worth, in the course of a sporadic but
fairly thorough search of the major caches of Coleridge's and of Southey's papers in the
British Library, the Pierpont Morgan Library and at the Wordsworth Library at
Grasmere I have come across no watermark that matches this one.^^ Nevertheless it is
not beyond all hope that the answering half of the sheet may still survive in a letter or
other document. If so, study of similar marks suggests that it will bear as countermark
either the letters ' GR' within a circle or ellipse, or else ' J C intertwined in a lozenge,
or perhaps a crown, with or without the legend ' GR' above it.^^
Southey's part in the acquisition of the Kubla Khan manuscript almost certainly
implies that Coleridge and the Smiths were not personally acquainted in February 1804.
(It seems likely enough, however, that they would have had an opportunity of meeting
in the years 1813-16, when he was living at Calne with John Morgan.) Even if this were
not the case, in view of his well-known dilatoriness in small matters it may still have
fallen to his closest companion at the time to fulfil an earlier promise of a specimen of
his handwriting. Inevitably, Southey's willingness to submit to chores of this nature did
not survive three decades of applications from the ever-growing ranks of relic-seekers.
In 1831 he complained that ' I have entered into a society for the discouragement of
autograph collectors; which society will not be dissolved till the legislature in its wisdom
shall take measures for suppressing that troublesome and increasing ^^
Boswell, James. Letter to Dr William Adams, Master of Pembroke College, Oxford; 21 Jan.
1785 (50). Original now in R. B. Adams collection. For further letters addressed to Adams, see
272, 303-
Bowles, W. L. Letter ' to Mr. Smith, n.d., with memoranda and verses, in the autograph of Sir
J. C. Hobhouse, on Lord Byron's attack on Mr. Bowles' (51).
Burns, Robert. Letter to Robert Ainslie, Jr, partly in verse; 23 Aug. 1787 (66). Original now
in Library of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Letter to [Captain Riddell of Carse]; 16 Oct. 1789 (67).
Verses ' To Terraughty on his birthday', beg. 'Health to the Maxwells' veteran chief (68).
Byron, Lord. Letter to J. C. Hobhouse, Athens; 28 Feb. 1811 (70). Text and whereabouts
See also, sub Bowles.
Clarkson, Thomas. Letters to Joseph Cottle; 11 Mar. 1825, etc. (102).
Letter to Richard Chandler; 24 Oct. 1791 (443).
Coleridge, S. T. Letters to J. J. Morgan, printed in Collected Letters, ed. E. L. Griggs, viz:
27 Mar. 1812 (105). Coll. Letters, no. 859.
16 July 1814 (106). Coll. Letters, no. 944 (dated only *Late July 1814').
7 Jan. 1818 (107). Coll. Letters, no. 1093.
28 Jan. 1818 (108). Coll. Letters, no. 1105.
Kubla Khan (109). Add. MS. 50847.
Cowper, William. Verses ' To Doctor Austen of Cecil Street', beg. 'Austen, accept a grateful
verse from me' ; May 1792 (116). ^
Donne, John, Jr. Letter to Lord ; 4 Dec. n.y. (136).
Dryden, John. Letter rel. to Creech's Lucretius, n.d.; with covering letter of Edmund Malone
Edgeworth, Maria. Letter to Mrs Chandler; 15 Mar. 1792 (215).
Garrick, David. Letters to him, etc.; 1762-78, n.d. (138-160).
Gray, Thomas. 'Epigram of Martial paraphrased... containing 25 lines in his autograph' (254).
Pope, Alexander. * Poetical and other Scraps, the greater part autograph and original, with a few
printed papers; etc. a parcel' (420).
Letter to Mr Cole, rel. to legal proceedings against one Corbet; n.d. (421). First printed by
Elwin and Courthope, Works, vol. x, p. 238, 'From advertisement of an autograph collection sold
at Puttick and Simpson's, 29th April 1859'.
Signature to a printed receipt for subscription to his translation of Homer's Iliad; n.d. (422).
Correspondence with Broome, Fenton, and others, rel. to Pope's Homer; 1713-26 (544).
Rogers, Samuel. Letter to , sending an invitation to meet Wordsworth; n.d. (439).
Roget, P. M. Letters to Mr Smith; 1819, 1822 (443).
Letter to Mrs Smith; 23 Oct. 1841 (6).
Scott, Sir Walter. Letters to John Murray, etc.; 1807-30, n.d. (451-4)-
Verses and songs (specified) by or in his hand; 1801, n.d. (455, 456).
Sloane, Sir Hans. Letter to John Locke, 25 Aug. 1694 (469).
Southey, Robert. Letters, 1797-1816 (476-486), including:
Letter to Mrs Smith, enclosing 'Lamentation for Robert Emmett'; 2 Feb. 1804 (478).
Letter to T. Smith, viz:
4 June 1807, 25 June 1807 (479, 480).
5 Dec. 1808, rel. to STC's commonplace-books (481).
6 Feb. 1809, rel. to STC's prospectuses, etc. (477).
2 June 1812, requesting transcript of Apuleius for Omniana (482).
I July, 8 July 1812, rel. to STC's opium habit (483, 484).
20 Mar. 1816, rel. to STC' s play [Osorio}] (485).
Letter to Wordsworth; n.d. [1832?] (486).
Williams, Helen Maria. Letter to Miss Smith from Paris; dated '21 Florimel [Floreal?], an.
10 [i.e. 21 Apr. 1802] (539).
Wollstonecraft, Mary. On poetry: i p. quarto (38).
Wordsworth, William. Letter to John Kenyon (542).
1 John Livingston Lowes, The Road to Xanadu
(Boston and New York, 1927); and Elizabeth W.
Schneider, Goleridge, Opium, and Kubla Khan
(Chicago, 1953).
2 Add. MS. 50847.
3 Announced by Alice D. Snyder, Times Literary
Supplement, 2 Aug. 1934, p. 541, and exhibited
at the Lamb and Coleridge Centenary Exhibition
in the National Portrait Gallery, 1934.
4 British Library Journal, viii (1982), p. 28 and n.
5 Obituary in Gentleman^s Magazine (Mar. 1859),
p. 331, col. b; and see Transactions of the Bristol
and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, lxiv
(1943), pp. 234-5 ^^d V.G.H. Gloucestershire,
vol. iv (1988), p. 162.
6 Gentleman'^s Magazine (July 1822), p. 91, col. b;
quoted in Lady Seymour's The'' Pope' of Holland
House (London, 1906), pp. 6-8. See also Piero
Sraffa and M. H. Dobb (eds.). The Works...of
David Ricardo (Cambridge, 1951^3), vols. vi,
p. 135, n. I, and viii, pp. 56, 75.
7 In The Buildings of England series Bownham
House, Rodborough, is noticed by David Verey,
Gloucestershire, I: The Gotswolds (Harmonds-
worth, 1970), p. 381, and Easton Grey by
Nicolaus Pevsner, Wiltshire, 2nd edn., rev. by
Bridget Cherry (Harmondsworth, 1975), p. 233.
8 L. G. H. Horton-Smith, ' The seat and manor of
Easton Grey, co. Wilts, and Thomas Smith, J.P.,
"The Maecenas of his Neighbourhood"' ,
Wiltshire Gazette, 5 July 1934 (not seen).
9 Ricardo, Works, vol. ix, p. 264.
10 Lady Seymour, op. cit., p. 8.
11 She was born Miss Evans, a niece of Charles
Carill Worsley of Platt Hall, Rusholme, and
married Richard Chandler on 28 Aug. 1791 at St
Pancras: see Gentleman's Magazine (1791), p.
774. Miss Edgeworth had first met her about
12 Maria Edgeworth, Letters from England,
1813-1844, ed. Christina Colvin (Oxford, 1971),
p. 227.
13 Edgeworth, Ghosen Letters, ed. F. V. Barry
(London, 1931), pp. 178-9.
14 Letters from England, 1813-1844, pp. 270, 271.
15 See Lord Byron, The Gomplete Poetical Works,
ed. Jerome J. McGann, vol. i (Oxford, 1980), pp.
394-6. The Hunt copy (4th edn., 1811) is now in
the Victoria and Albert Museum, as Forster
Printed Book 1267. An annotated copy of the
same edition, now in the possession of John
Murray, was reproduced in facsimile by the
Roxburghe Club in 1936. This and the set of
revised proofs that are now BL, Egerton MS.
2028 were both acquired in 1867 from the heirs
ofR. C.Dallas.
16 Ricardo, Works, vol. vi, pp. 164-5.
17 Ibid., p. 139, n. 2: ' I n a note in the Economic
Journal, June 1907, pp. 273-6, Professor Foxwell
suggested that [the letter of Malthus to Ricardo,
9 Oct. 1814] may have been one given by
Ricardo to Mrs Smith of Easton Grey for her
collection of autographs (see pp. 164—5 ^^^ ^^9
below); this is the more plausible inasmuch as
Mrs Smith's collection was "sold and dispersed
at her death in 1859".' See also The 'Pope' of
Holland House, p. 8.
18 A. N. L. Munby, The Gult of the Autograph
Letter (London, 1962), passim.
19 Vol. iii (1825), p. 134, which in part is quoted
from Sir Richard Colt Hoare's History of Modern
Wiltshire (London, 1822—4).
20 Lady Seymour, op. cit., p. 32.
21 Charles E. Ward (ed.). Letters of John Dryden
(Durham, N.C., 1942), letter 7, pp. 14-16, and
see notes, p. 149.
22 Roger Lonsdale (ed.). The Poems of Thomas
Gray, William Gollins and Oliver Goldsmith
(London, 1969), pp. 352-3.
23 J. De Lancey Ferguson (ed.), Letters of Robert
Burns (Oxford, 1985), vol. i, pp. 443-4, and
James Kinsley (ed.), Poems and Songs of Robert
Burns (Oxford, 1968), vol. ii, pp. 571-2. These
were first printed in Cromek's Reliques of Robert
Burns (London, 1808), pp. 95-7 and 402-3
24 Reliques, p. xi.
25 Letters of Robert Burns, vol. i, pp. 149-50.
26 Haslewood sale-cat., Evans, 16 Dec. 1833, lot
286, bought by Wilkes, and now BL, Printed
Book 276.g.38-42.
27 It is given to one Webb in the Alphabetical list of
some of the principal sales of literary property
music and works of art conducted by Messrs Puttick
£5' Simpson..., 1846 to 1870 (presented to the
Dept. of Printed Books, British Museum, by
J. H. Puttick, 21 Jan. 1871; a typescript copy,
1928, is press-marked C.i3i.k.i5), p. 57. The
same name occurs in the margin of the BL copy
of the Puttick sale-catalogue.
28 Dictionary of National Biography, sub ' Broome,
29 Works, vol. viii (or vol. iii of the Gorrespondence)
(1872), pp. 30-185.
30 George Sherburn (ed.), Gorrespondence of
Alexander Pope, 5 vols. (Oxford, 1956); and see
Index of English Literary Manuscripts, vol. iii,
1700-1800, Part 3, ed. Margaret M. Smith and
Alexander Lindsay (London, 1992), pp. 13-15.
31 T. C. Skeat, ' Kubla Khan' , British Museum
Qitarterly, xxvi, nos. 3-4 (1963), pp. 77-83 (see
esp. p. 82, n. 4), t hought ' " M""^"... a much more
probable reading'. The alternative view was
taken by John Shelton in ' The Autograph
Manuscript of "Kubla Khan " and an Interpret-
ation' , Review of English Literature, vii, no. i
(Jan. 1966), pp. 32-42.
32 Letters of the Unitarian minister Thomas
Belsham, addressed both to Thomas Smith and
to his wife in 1806, are found in the collection
(lot zi).
7^2, C. C. Southey (ed.). Life and Correspondence of
Robert Southey (1849-50), vol. ii, p. 201, where
' Rownham' is printed in error for ' Bownham' .
34 Ibid., p. 203.
35 BL, Add. MS. 30928, f. 37V.
36 BL, Add. MS. 47890, f 189V.
37 BL, Add. MS. 30928, f. 41V.
38 BL, Add. MS. 30927, f. io6v.
39 BL, Add. MS. 47890, f. 197.
40 Ibid., f. 199.
41 BL, Add. MS. 30928, f 45V.
42 Ibid., f 47V.
43 Coleridge, The Damaged Archangel (London,
1972), ch. 22, pp. 334-50, and notes, pp. 537-54-
44 E. de Selincourt (ed.). Journals of Dorothy
Wordsworth (London, 1941), vol. i, p. 34.
45 Robinson, Memoirs (London, 1801), vol. iv, pp.
46 Despite Kathleen Coburn {Notebooks of Samuel
Taylor Coleridge, vol. i (London, 1957), Notes,
#1840, 16.223), the catalogue of Wordsworth's
books makes no mention of this four-volume
work, but only of Purchas his Pilgrimage, 3rd
edn. (London, 1617), of which incidentally
Coleridge's own copy is now in the Library of
Worcester College, Oxford. See Chester L. and
Alice C. Shaver, Wordsworth's Library: A Cata-
logue (New York and London, 1979), p. 208; and
Ralph J. Coffman, Coleridge's Library (Boston,
1987), p. 169.
47 Coleridge, Collected Letters, ed. E. L. Griggs
(Oxford, 1956-71), vol. ii, pp. 1024-8, Letters
48 Op. cit., p. 541, n. 23.
49 Cf. Edward Heawood, Watermarks Mainly of the
ijth and i8th Centuries (Hilversum, 1950), no.
213, which is dated 1794 and counter-marked
' GR' , though the source is said to have been a
letter written in 1799.
50 Cf., respectively, letters of Coleridge to Poole in
BL, Add. MS. 35343, f. 89 (dated 30 Mar.
1796); f. 274 (18 Apr. 1801); f. 106 (29 May
1796); and f. 91 ( I I Apr. 1796). There is some
possibility that the present mark matches that
found in the fragmentary letter of August 1802,
now Dove Cottage MS. 32, p. 11 {Collected
Letters, no. 454a), seen by the writer many years
51 Lives of the Uneducated Poets (1831), ed. J. S.
Childers (London, 1925), p. 168, quoted by A.
N. L. Munby, op. cit., p. 10.

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