• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Frontispiece
 Title Page
 Dedication
 Preface
 Chapter I
 Chapter II
 Chapter III
 Chapter IV
 Chapter V
 Chapter VI
 Chapter VII
 Chapter VIII
 Chapter IX
 Chapter X
 Chapter XI
 Chapter XII
 Chapter XIII
 Chapter XIV
 Chapter XV
 Chapter XVI














Title: Thomas Poole and his friends
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 Material Information
Title: Thomas Poole and his friends
Physical Description: 2 v. : illus. ; 20 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Sandford, Margaret E. Poole
Publisher: Macmillan
Place of Publication: London
New York
Publication Date: 1888
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Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by Mrs. Henry Sandford.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00076584
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
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Resource Identifier: oclc - 00847133

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Frontispiece
        Frontispiece
    Title Page
        Title Page
    Dedication
        Dedication
    Preface
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
    Chapter I
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
    Chapter II
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
    Chapter III
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
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        Page 53
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    Chapter IV
        Page 55
        Page 56
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    Chapter V
        Page 71
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    Chapter VI
        Page 85
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    Chapter VII
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
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        Page 125
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    Chapter VIII
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
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        Page 133
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        Page 142
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        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
    Chapter IX
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
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        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
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        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
    Chapter X
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
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    Chapter XI
        Page 179
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    Chapter XII
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
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        Page 204
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    Chapter XIII
        Page 223
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        Page 225
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    Chapter XIV
        Page 245
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    Chapter XV
        Page 267
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    Chapter XVI
        Page 288
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Full Text


















THOMAS POOLE

AND HIS FRIENDS









THOMAS POOLE



AND HIS FRIENDS







MRS. HENRY SANDFO
MRS. HENRY SANDFORD


IN TWO VOLUMES

VUL. 1






Lonbon
MACMILLAN AND CO.
AND NEW YORK
r888


Al r~gits ie''i





























TillS IOOK IS INSCRIBIIED

TO THE LOVED AND IIONOURED MEMORY OF

MY FATHER

GABRIEL STONE POOLE


I ^- 2 U















PREFACE


THE memoirs which are here offered to the
public have absorbed most of the leisure of a
somewhat busy life for between three and
four years. When I began I hardly con-
templated anything more than a magazine
article, but the unsuspected richness of the
stores of material entrusted to me, and the
ever-increasing interest that these gave to
my subject, soon showed me that the task
which I had undertaken was altogether too
large to be dealt with on that scale, and that
I stood committed to an amount of labour
and research which I had little dreamt of
at the outset.
Once, as I sat surrounded by old letters
and notebooks, wearisome to copy, and not






PREFACE


always easy to decipher, I was rather amused
at finding myself interrupted by a faithful old
servant, who gravely remonstrated with me
for allowing myself to become entangled in
what to her appeared to be a very un-
necessary expenditure of time and pains.
'And noact for?' she demanded, very
emphatically ; /here's maZny a hundred dozen
books already as nobody cover reads.'
SAnd What For ?' This is, after all, a
question which may be fairly enough ad-
dressed to any one who is proposing to add
to that 'surfeit of too much,' through which
the readers of the present day have to find
their way ; but surely if it can be replied that
the new book will bring fresh contributions
to a department of literature that is at once
interesting and incomplete, the answer is one
that cannot but be accepted as sufficient. It
is from this point of view that I venture to
hope that this record of Thomas Poole and
his Friends may meet with a welcome in
more than one quarter, as throwing not a






PREFACE ix

little additional light on an important epoch
in the moral and intellectual life of England,
and on a group of men who, in no small
degree, helped to make it so.
By the kindness of Mr. Ernest H. Cole-
ridge, an entire series of letters addressed by
Thomas Poole to S. T. Coleridge has been
placed in my hands, and as regards the other
side of the correspondence, I have been per-
mitted to make use, not only of the letters
that have already appeared in the lBioJ'gra2ipcal
Suzpplement, but also of many hitherto un-
printed letters of S. T. C.'s. I should add
that the letters I have published are merely
those which illustrate the friendship that
existed between Coleridge and Poole; they
are but an instalment of that astonishing
wealth of biographical material which we
hope will be, at no very distant day, given to
the world in Mr. E. H. Coleridge's Life of
his Grandfather.
My best thanks are also due to Miss
Edith Coleridge for permission to use letters






x PREFACE

from her parents, Mr. and Mrs. H. N.
Coleridge; to Mr. Gordon Wordsworth for
permission to use Wordsworth's letters; to
Mr. Godfrey Wedgwood for permission to
use the letters of Josiah and Thomas \edg-
wood; and to Mrs. Lefroy for obtaining for
me a similar permission to use the letters of
her father, Mr. John Rickman.
I gladly also take this opportunity of
offering my grateful acknowledgments to all
those who have aided me in my work by
entrusting me with letters and papers, or by
bringing to my notice books and circumstances
illustrative of my subject. And, amongst
these, I must make special mention of those
few who could actually remember Mr. Tom
Poole, and whose reminiscences have been
of the utmost value in enabling me to form
something like a living idea of the man as he
actually was. And here I cannot forbear to
mention my own father, Mr. Gabriel Stone
Poole, who died in 1875, but to whom, more
than to any one else, the writing of this book






PREFACE


is due. He had a sincere and affectionate
admiration for his cousin, and very often, in
days long gone by, I remember that he would
frequently speak to me of Mr. Tom Poole
and his friendships, and would urge upon me,
if ever I should have the opportunity, to
make inquiries after the mass of correspond-
ence and of other materials which he was
confident must still exist, in order that I
might make some attempt, should it lie in mi
power to do so, to rescue that remarkable
personality from oblivion.
Next to these, nothing has been of more
service to me than the counsels and criticisms
of my kind friend Mr. J. Dykes Campbell,
whose acquaintance 1 was so fortunate as to
make just as my work had nearly reached
completion, and whose aid has been simply
invaluable to me.




















CHAPTER I


Long years have flown since last I lay
On seaward Quantock's healthy hills,
Where quiet sounds from hidden rills
Float here and there like things astray,
And high o'erhead the sky-lark shrills.'
Adapted from S. T. Col.ERIDGE.

THE paper that I hold in my hand is yellow with
age; the ink has faded, and, at the place where
the sheet was originally folded, it has worn into
tatters. No wonder! for the date of the letter is
December the 3 st, 1799, and it was written, on
the last New Year's Eve in the century, from
S. T. Coleridge in London, to his friend, Thomas
Poole, at Nether Stowey. Coleridge was, at that
time, writing regularly for the Morning Post, and
describes himself as extremely busy :-

'I work,' he says, 'from I-rise to I-set (that is, from
9 A.M. to I2 at night), almost without intermission ..
I hope you receive the papers regularly. They are
regularly sent, as I commonly put them in myself. .
VOL. I B







2 THOMAS POOLE AND IIIS FRIENDS CHAP. I

Being so hurried for time I should have delayed writing
till to-morrow; but to-day is the last day of the year, and
a sort of superstitious feeling oppressed me that the year
should not end without my writing, if it were only to sub-
scribe myself with the old words of an old affection. ..
God bless you, and him who is ever, ever yours-who,
among all his friends, has ever called and ever felt you
the Friend. S. T. COLERIDGE.'

These words have been chosen by me as a kind
of introductory motto, because they present to us,
in a vivid, yet perfectly natural manner, the prin-
cipal claim which the memory of Thomas Poole
has upon all who care for literature-I mean his
intimate friendship with some of the most dis-
tinguished of those men of note and genius who
illuminated the close of the eighteenth and the
beginning of the nineteenth century, and more
particularly with Coleridge ; and they also suggest
the thought, which I think a closer study of his
character will but develop and confirm, that there
must have been found in him an unusually high
degree of the gift or faculty of friendship,-a
much rarer endowment than those persons sup-
pose who are apt to use the word in a loose,
miscellaneous way, making it cover all the various
grades of social acquaintance, and extending it to
the most transient intimacies, in which not the
slightest particle of real affection is either felt or







1765-89 BORN AT NETHER STOWEY


pretended. Yet it is hardly possible to imagine
any set of circumstances, not wholly outside the
bounds of probability, less apparently favourable
to the cultivation of friendships of the closest and
most intimate description, with some of the fore-
most men of his day, than those which seem to
have surrounded the early life, and determined
the prospects, of the subject of this memoir.
He was born on November 14, 1765, at the
little country town of Nether Stowcy, a town so
tiny it might easily have been mistaken for a
village, even in those days, but for the market
cross in the centre of the principal open space.
It nestles at the foot of the little-known, but very
beautiful Quantock Hills, whose near neighbour-
hood to the grander scenery of Porlock and Linton,
which will always be preferred by the ordinary
tourist, together with their comparative inaccess-
ibility by rail from any of the great manufacturing
centres of population,' have so far preserved them,
even till now, from the foot of the explorer, that,
if not quite so wild, they are, in many places,
almost as solitary as when, a hundred years ago,
SFar be it from the present writer not to rejoice, as in a great
and signal benefit, that railways have thrown open so much of
the beauty of hill and moor and sea to the foot of the cheap
excursionist, thus enriching the lives of thousands with new pos-
sibilities of enjoyment. Nevertheless there is, and ever must be,
a special charm in untroddenness, which we cannot but lose with
some regret.






4 THOMAS POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS CHAP. I

Tom Poole and his brother Richard used to
scramble up and down their steep coombs in the
days of their boyhood. A coomb (cwm), in
Somersetshire parlance, means a deep little valley
with wooded sides, and a stream at the bottom;
and, if it be true that the very name of Quantock 1
signifies in Celtic many openings,' this is a very
good instance of the happy gift in the naming of
natural features, which seems to have distinguished
the ancient inhabitants of these islands, for it is a
chief characteristic of these delightful hills that
they are thus broken up into the loveliest glens
and dells, each the special home of some brook or
brooklet, green nests where nothing is to be heard
but woodland murmurs, and nothing to be seen
but branches against the sky. Coleridge's Fears
in Solitude was evidently written in the bottom of a
coomb-Cockercoomb, perhaps, or Seven Wells-
whence ascending, 'by the grecn sheep-track, up the
healthy hill' (for the hills are healthy except
that here and there the eye is caught by the sunny
splendour of some
.swelling slope,
Which hath a gay and gorgeous covering on,
All golden with the never-bloomless furze,')
any one may see, as Coleridge saw long since, the
wonderful burst of prospect'-
1 Paper on Topographical Etymology by Rev. W. A. Jones, M.A.
Proceedings of the Somersetshire Archaeological Society, 1854.







A 'BURST OF PROSPECT'


'. here the shadowy main
Dim-tinted,1 there the mighty majesty
Of that huge amphitheatre of rich
And elimy fields ..
and, beyond them, the far expanse of marsh
country, stretching away on the right to the
furthest horizon, above which Glastonbury Tor is
just visible, rising like a bluish-gray island against
the sky ; whilst on the left, and opposite, the view is
limited by the pale outline of the Welsh mountains,
or by the nearer purples of the Mendip Hills,
between which and the Quantocks, the level land
spreads inward many a mile from the mouths of
the Parrett and the Brue,2 sometimes in rich dairy
farms, sometimes in long tracks of moorland, brown
and spongy, to the very foot of the famous Tor,
guiding both the eye and the imagination to that
ancient isle of Avalon where King Arthur lies
buried, and where the ruins of the sanctuary which
Briton and Saxon alike held sacred are still to be
seen. The marsh is simply the well-drained bed
1 'The shadowy main, dim-tinted,' is an entirely perfect word-
picture of the effect of the dun waters of the Severn Sea beheld
from that distance.
2 It was down the River Brue, of course, that the mystic barge
came from Glastonbury to receive the dying king. Tennyson's
picture of the 'coast of ever-shifting sand,' and 'far away the phantom
circle of a moaning sea,' with the 'death-like mist,' in the midst
of which the last dim weird battle of the west' was fought, exactly
recalls the scenery. But there were certainly no zig-zag paths and
juts of pointed rock.' How could there be, on such a coast?


1765-89







6 THOMAS POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS CHAP. I

of what was once the estuary of the river Parrett,
that river which long formed the boundary between
the two races,1 and, on the north-eastern side, the
very names of the villages-Chedzoy, Middlezoy,
Westonzoyland-reveal the homes of these early
settlers by the sca-meres with whom the name of
Somerset originated, and who were the pioneers
of the West Saxon folk in this direction. So that
' seaward Quantock' looks, as it were, along the
actual line of contact, an interesting landmark
always, but especially so to the lover of English
literature ; for, as if to remind us of our national
descent from both, and of the share that Celt as
well as Teuton has had in the moulding of the
English mind and character, it is here, along this
line of contact, just where the latest struggles for
the mastery were fought out, and conquerors and
conquered at last settled down peaceably side by
side and began to mingle and to become one
people, that English poetry has ever had her surest
abiding-place,2 and discovered her freshest springs.
Si.e. between Dyvnaint and Wessex zoy is pronounced zee, and
z stands for s in the West Saxon dialect.
2 Do not forget that Stratford-on-Avon lies along this line ; and
Langland was born in Shropshire; and Spenser came originally from
that North Countree where Nurthumbria ran parallel to Strathclyde ;
so did Burns ; and if we are to speak of those poets who, each in his
degree, were the instruments of that reawakening of the national
imagination, that extraordinary revival of English poetry, which has
in this nineteenth century given another great age to our national
literature, Wordsworth was a Cumbrian ; and Devonshire gave us







1765-89 'SEAWARD QUANTOCK' 7

I know of no other point of view from which this
line is so distinctly traceable, and so enriched and
illuminated with historical and legendary associa-
tions.
Twelve hundred feet is the highest elevation
to which 'smooth Quantock's airy ridge' ever
attains ; but although the scenery never rises into
grandeur, these hills have a character and a beauty
of their own, and once thoroughly known and
loved in youth, they will always retain their hold
on the affections. One special charm consists in
the loveliness of the foliage. The sloping sides of
the coombs are clothed, not, as a general rule,
with fir, but sometimes with forest trees, or more
commonly with oak underwood; and perhaps it
may have been to the near neighbourhood of these
oak woods, once more abundant than now, that
the large and thriving tanning business owed its
origin in which our Tom Poole's father, who was
also named Thomas Poole, and his uncle John
Poole1 were both engaged. At any rate, this
Coleridge; and Southey, a sharer, though with inferior powers, in
the same impulse, was born at Bristol.
I There were two other brothers also, I believe, engaged in the
tanning trade, but not in the same business. I have been told that
old Mr. Kinglake of Taunton, the father of the author of Eo/lhcn,
used to say that these four brothers were all amongst the cleverest
men he had ever known. They were the sons of a Mr. William
Poole of Marshmill, who died in 1750. There was one sister, an
Alice Poole (died 1773), who was not clever, but like other maiden
aunts, a great cherisher of old family traditions. She it was who






8 THOMAS POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS CHAP. I

constituted an important part of the family pro-
perty, and it was natural enough that Thomas
Poole, the elder, should decide that his first-born
son must, as a matter of course, take to the tan-
yard, nor is there anything to show that the
younger Thomas disliked the prospect, or in any
way revolted against it. But there was another
part of his father's arrangements against which he
did revolt, and that in the most determined
manner. Whether it be that his father thought
that bare reading, writing, and arithmetic, repre-
sented all the book learning that a man of business
required, or whether it be that he detected in his
son a love of literature that he feared might lead
to a distaste for trade, must remain a matter of
conjecture; what seems certain is, that Tom was
never sent to a good school, his bookish tastes

remembered how, when a child, she saw her aunt 'weep' at the
death of Queen Anne. Another of her favourite sayings, My uncle,
Sir Richard, was knighted for valour,' carries us much farther back,
for it refers to a Sir Richard Elsworth, who raised a troop of horse
for the king, and was knighted during the Civil Wars. His grand-
son, another Richard Elsworth, besides founding various schools,
founded two small exhibitions at Balliol College, Oxford, for the
benefit of natives of the county of Somerset, with a preference to
certain parishes, and to founder's kin, one of which was actually
held by the eldest son of the John Poole mentioned above-another
John Poole, of whom much will be said in these memoirs. This
Richard Elsworth died in 1714. The present generation of founder's
kin has been pretty numerously represented at the University, but,
of course, all special claims upon such endowments have, with
Spartan impartiality, been long ago disallowed.






BUSINESS VERSUS BOOKS


were discouraged and sneered at, and he was
apprenticed to the tanning trade at as early an age
as possible. This may have seemed all the harder
to him because his uncle's sons were educated at
Tiverton Grammar School, then considered the
best public school in the West of England, and
the eldest, who showed talent, went thence to
Oxford, where he did not fail to distinguish him-
self, and to become, in due time, a fellow of Oriel.
Even Tom's own younger brother, being intended
for the medical profession, was fitted for his future
work by a suitable education. Happily, Tom was
of too sweet and wholesome a nature for envy and
jealousy ; he loved his cousin John, and took
affectionate pride in his successes, whilst between
him and his brother Richard there was always
the strongest possible bond of fraternal love and
sympathy; but he got on very badly with his
father, and showed his resentment of the whim
that condemned him to ignorance by ostentatious
inattention to his work in the tanyard, whilst, in
such fragments of spare time as he could command,
and always oppressed with a disheartening sense
of the difficulty of making progress without better
advantages, he seems to have continued his
studies with steady persistency, year after year,
getting on very slowly, no doubt, but never losing
sight of the determination to become a well-


1765-89







Io THOMAS POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS CHAP. I

educated man. Family traditions represent the
elder Thomas as venting his disappointment in
taunts and sarcasms. He chose to consider Tom
simply in the light of an idle apprentice, and as
long as he lived he never ceased to twit' his son
with ignorance of his business, though, as time
went on, inefficiency was the last thing of which
he could justly be accused, whatever may have
been his inattention to detail at the outset.
His mother was a woman of great sensibility,
and of so much sweetness of nature that her
tender tolerance, and 'overflowing good-will' to
any one whom Tom wanted her to like, made
her, in after years, very dear to his friends,
and especially to Coleridge, who sends her his
love, sometimes his 'filial love,' in almost every
letter. Thus in 1799, at a time when Mrs. Poole
was recovering from an illness, he wrote:-
'In this hurly burly of unlucky things, I cannot
describe to you how pure and deep joy I have experi-
enced from thinking of your dear mother! 0 may
God Almighty give her after all her agonies, now at
last a long, rich, yellow sunset, in this her evening of
Life !-So good, and so virtuous, and with such an untame-
able sensibility to enjoy the blessings of the Almighty-
surely God in heaven never made a Being more capable
of enjoying with a deeper Thankfulness of Earth, Life,
and its Relations !'
Of his one sister, Sarah, Tom Poole was both






IIIS UNCLE JOHN


fond and proud, but the chief happiness and com-
pensation, both of his boyhood and early manhood,
must have been the perfect affection, and thorough-
ness of understanding, that existed between himself
and his brother; whilst, outside their own household,
the main resource of both, and probably of their
sister also, was found in the society of their cousins,
the John Pooles, whose home was at Marshmill, a
plain but pleasant country-house in the neighbour-
ing village of Over Stowey, and in the sympathy
and counsel of their Uncle John, a man described
by Tom Poole as one whose
' natural sense was incomparable, his information exten-
sive, and his desire to use those blessings for the good
of his family, his friends, and the neighbourhood, greater
than that of any man he ever knew.'
He was younger than Tom's father, and yet
'generally considered and treated as the head of
the family ;' and, whilst the desire and the deter-
mination to achieve usefulness, that noblest of all
the various forms of young ambition, was working
in Tom's mind from boyhood, in his uncle he saw
a living example of the very kind of life upon
which his imagination was dwelling, the life that
he one day hoped and intended to lead himself.
Besides this, at Marshmill was to be found the
soothing atmosphere of a home, in which the jarring
notes of discord were never heard. 'The tender


1765-89







12 THOMAS POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS CHAP. I

affection which the seven children bore their father,
and the mother her husband,' was 'beyond anything
Tom ever saw elsewhere, and realized as much
happiness in that united family as can ever be
enjoyed here below.' There were four sisters and
three brothers, of whom the eldest, John Poole the
young Oxonian, was the special pride of the entire
clan. The sisters were brought up to be perfect
housewives, complete mistresses of the art of
domestic comfort as it was understood by our
great-grandmothers; but they were also, what in
those days was much less a matter of course, very
cultivated women. The third sister, Charlotte,
kept a journal, from which we gather that Tom
must have been almost as much at Marshmill as
at his own home, and that nothing of importance
ever happened to him that he did not at once pro-
ceed to share with his cousins.
Of course he had his special favourite amongst
them. The youngest sister, Penelope, was a
beautiful, dark-eyed girl, with a voice of unusual
power and sweetness, and a fine taste for the best
music which made Handel her favourite composer.
But Tom's attachment to this attractive cousin
was never returned. The family tradition goes
that she told him she had been too long accustomed
to think of him as almost a brother, to be ever
able to regard him in the light of a lover. In due






PENELOPE


time she married some one else; and, if he had
been like the majority of human beings he would,
after a while, have taught himself to like some
other woman. But natures gifted with very strong
affections are apt to be also very slow to change,
and it seems probable that the family impression
that it was this unrequited feeling for his cousin
which kept Tom Poole single to the end of his life,
was a correct one. Much as he loved poetry, it
may be because he loved poetry so much, he was
little given to verse-making on his own account,
but a few stanzas still remain in which he expresses
his delight in her singing, or, perhaps, merely seeks
to lay the homage of an extravagant compliment
at Penelope's feet, by the image of 'sweet Philomel,
at Marshmill gate,' listening in a passion of jealousy
to strains that outdid her own-
Come unto me all ye who toil,'
Was echoing to the zephyr's round-
She heard, she owned herself surpast,
And vanquished, sunk upon the ground !
It is not poetry ; it is merely the restless feel-
ing after some vehicle of expression for that which
is not to be said in direct words, that is common to
all young lovers. Often such verses are the merest
effervescence of youth, the outcome of passions as
short-lived as the froth upon the wave. With Tom
the case was different; and therefore it seemed


1765-89







14 THOMAS POOLE AND IIIS FRIENDS CHAP. I

rather sad to be told, when collecting reminiscences
of these early days from the daughter of this very
Penelope, that though, in later life, there was no one
that her mother 'respected more than her cousin
Tom, yet there actually had been a time, when she
was a dainty, gentle little girl, and he a 'great,
strong boy,' when she did not even like him, and
rather dreaded the frequent occasions when he and
Dick came over to spend the day at Marshmill.
Tom, indeed, was always kind ; it was Dick who
teased, and who even once hung her doll in the
cellar ; but they were both so rough and eager, and
so vehement in all their ways, that it was quite
enough to make a small and rather timid cousin
shrink into herself, and incline to the opinion that
all boys were rather objectionable, except her own
brothers.
Then, as time went on, Dick was more and
more habitually absent from home, until he finally
settled at Sherborne, and his sister Sarah went to
keep house for him, and Tom was more and more
thrown upon his Over Stowey cousins for com-
panionship. He seems to have been an affection-
ate light-hearted young fellow in those days, taking
his full share in the jolly, sociable life continually
going forward among the lesser gentry of the Stowey
and Bridgwater neighbourhood, which his cousin
Charlotte's journal records. Beyond their own







AMERICAN FRIENDS


immediate surroundings the cousins' chief intimacy
was with an American family of the name of
Coulson, who, having taken the Imperial side in
the Struggle for Independence, had been prudent
enough to leave their home in Massachusetts at
the opening of the American War, and had settled
in Bristol. It is not improbable that their first
introduction to the Pooles may have been through
the medium of a business connection, and, after-
wards, assistance may have been given in the
transfer of themselves and their property, of which
they seem to have been able to save some consider-
able portion, to the mother country. What is
certain is that the friendship between the two
families was very close and intimate, and that the
younger Pooles were constant visitors at the
Coulsons' hospitable house. It was there that
Sarah--more commonly known as Sally Poole-
met her husband,1 and the first mention of Tom
Poole in his cousin Charlotte's journal, dated
December 15, 1789, records his return, with her
sisters, from a visit to these very friends. They
found their little parlour at Marshmill as comfort-
able as ever, sat down to sup on a turkey, and
talked of all that had happened during their
absence, 'particularly of the dangers Tom Poole
had encountered on his voyage to Ireland.' He
1 She married Mr. King, a Bristol merchant.


I765-89







16 THOMAS POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS CHAP. I

had apparently merely rested in Bristol, on his
way home from a longer journey.
The Coulsons seem to have delighted in society,
and to have entertained a great deal. Tom Poole
always spoke of their daughter, Mrs. Marchant, and
of her niece, Mrs. Darby, as the two most lovely
women he ever saw in his life-whence it would
appear that beautiful Americans are not a speciality
of the nineteenth century. The former lady was
the chosen friend of the Marshmill sisters. She
was extremely young when the family first came
to Bristol, and already the wife of a husband who
was understood to have an appointment in India,
and who never appeared upon the scene. After
his death, many years later, she became Mrs.
Harford, and a small portrait of her, painted at the
time of her second marriage, is still in the posses-
sion of the Poole family-a dark-eyed woman with
an olive complexion, and short, dark, curly hair,
clustering round a small and shapely head. It was
probably Mrs. Darby who gave Tom Poole the
lock of Washington's hair, which he regarded as a
sacred treasure, and kept in a special casket, placed
within the precious copy of the Barberini Vase,'
presented to-him by the Wedgwoods. He used to
say that it was given to him by the most beautiful
woman ever created, and if we knew for certain
1 Now in the possession of the King family.






AMERICAN FRIENDS


whether he received it from the aunt or the niece,
we should know to which of the fair kinswomen he
gave the palm ; but, whichever it may have been,
the incident shows both that Tom Poole was a
favourite in the Coulson family, and also that,
whatever sacrifices Mr. Coulson may himself have
made out of loyalty to the British government,
the politics of his home circle were by no means
uniformly of the same complexion.
One other American friend must be mentioned
-a Mr. Garnett, who, in the last years of the
eighteenth century, seems to have been very fre-
quently in Bristol. Charlotte Poole in after years
described him as a 'prince among men,' highly
gifted both in mind and body, and a thorough
gentleman, and used to declare that 'all the girls
would have been in love with him,' but that it was
well known that he was wasting his life in a 'use-
less' attachment to the beautiful Mrs. Marchant,
who, on her side, seemed to be wasting hers in
solitary lingering under her father's roof, apart
from a husband who had almost become a stranger
to her. When at last set free by his death it was
too late--Mr. Garnett had returned to America, and
was on the eve of marriage to another woman.
His name finds a place here because he was one
of the very first people who took kindly notice of
young Tom Poole, and encouraged him in his
VOL. I C


1765-89






18 THOMAS POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS CHAP. I

endeavours after self-improvement. Whether he
was quite the paragon that he seemed in the eyes
of the young ladies may be questioned, for John
Poole, who kept a diary as well as his sister, notes
that he 'was not at all the kind of man he had been
led to expect;' but perhaps this only means that
he expected a man of sentiment, and a cavalier des
dames, and was surprised to find instead a person
of considerable practical shrewdness and ability.
His name occurs again and again in Tom Poole's
letters, as the inventor of improvements in the
machinery used in the tanning trade. But although
the main subject of the correspondence may be the
'new bark mill,' or patent anti-friction roller,'
which Tom Poole wishes to introduce at Stowey,
there is always an undercurrent of mutual under-
standing upon topics of a very different order;
and there is one letter in particular in which,
many years afterwards, Tom Poole recalls, 'with
sincere affection,' Mr. Garnett's 'kind and friendly
attention' to him 'when he was an ignorant boy.'
'Often have I thought of you with affection and
regret,' he writes, 'and, I may truly say, with
gratitude .' And he adds, 'Whether I have
made a good use of my time or not, I often doubt ;
but I have endeavoured to be as useful as I can.'

1 Letter to Mr. Garnett written in 1808, of which a copy has been
preserved in Mr. Poole's Copying-book, No. 2.






1765-89 TIE KEYNOTE OF HIS LIFE 19

'To be as useful as I can.' This was, as almost
every page of this book must show, the keynote of
Tom Poole's life ; but, indeed, the passion for use-
fulness was a kind of characteristic of the Poole
family, and provided a path in which, as we shall
see, not even the very deepest division of opposite
political opinions could prevent their working hand
in hand through life, with a still deeper sense of
united sympathies.






20 'THOMAS POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS CIIAP. II


CHAPTER II

'You welcomed this stupendous event, Sir, with the spirit of an
Englishman; with a spirit which, even in its excess, was truly
English. If you shall ultimately appear to have erred, posterity
will add more to your heart on this account, than it will detract
from your sagacity. To have hoped too boldly of our common
nature is a fault which all good men have an interest in forgiving.'
-S. T. COLERIDGE'S Letter to Fox, Jlrtnin gl'ost, Nov. 4, 1802.

As Tom Poole entered manhood it soon became
apparent that, in spite of his father's sarcasms,
books had by no means spoilt him for business.
He may, indeed, have been unversed in the
practical details of the art of tanning, but with the
trade in its wider commercial relations he was so
well acquainted that, some time in I790, he was
elected at a great meeting of the tanners of the
West of England, held at Bristol, as their delegate
to a still more important meeting in London, where
he was again chosen for an interview, on behalf of
the meeting, with Mr. Pitt, in February 1791, of
which the object seems to have been to lay before
the Prime Minister the distressed state of the






1790-92 STATE OF THE TANNIN; TRADE


tanning trade, caused partly by the alarming scar-
city of oak bark, and partly by the restrictive effect
of the different legislative enactments which insisted
upon particular methods of manufacture, and al-
most made it penal to introduce any improvements.
A further effort seems to have been made in the
winter of 1792, but without much result; for in
1793 we find Tom Poole drawing up a memorial
for the tanners of Bristol, to the Right Honourable
the Lords of the Committee of Council for trade
and foreign plantations,' to point out that the
scarcity of oak bark continues and increases,' and
to entreat that the exportation of that article may
be forbidden, or else bounties granted for the
importation of foreign bark. They are aware that
'bounties have not always produced the desired
effect,' but believe that 'in the present case it is
easy to prove that a moderate bounty would
increase the trade and revenue of the kingdom,'
whilst it is hinted,' with the greatest diffidence,' that
the heavy excise duty paid on every ton of bark
does furnish some claim to special consideration.
The tanning manufacture was indeed so heavily
handicapped in those days, that one would almost
think nothing, short of the absolute necessity of
leather as an article of daily use, could have pre-
vented the complete decay of the trade as a branch
of national industry. Yet it was not till 18o


21







22 THOMAS POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS CIiA. II

that even sonme of the vexatious enactments.
which hampered manufacturers and discouraged
inventors, were, after long parliamentary investiga-
tion, at last removed by the repeal of the statute
I James I. c. 22 ; whilst the heavy excise duty of
first id. and then i1d. a lb., imposed on all tanned
hides in the reign of Anne,1 was not only not
abolished, but was actually doubled in I 812 ; such
being only a mild example of the burdens to which
nations find themselves compelled to submit in
time of war.
Except then that, even in minor matters, such
as the prospects of a single trade, years of per-
sistent refusal to let the question rest are usually
needed before the public mind can be awakened
to consider the importance, or desirability, of any
proposed revision of methods, or change of ancient
routine, we might say that Tom Poole's mission on
behalf of the tanning trade was not crowned with
success, and that the months that he spent in
London were, therefore, of little interest and
importance. But in the history of his own life
and character this first visit to London does form
a noticeable epoch. Hitherto, family traditions, a
few brief entries in the diaries kept at Marshmill,
1 The imposition of a duty jby wciJ was, in itself, peculiarly
harassing and inconvenient, and placed obstructions in the way of
trying improved methods. In 1815 this tax seems to have pro-
duced 500,000.









1790-92 RETURN FROM LONDON 23

and such scanty references to his early life as I
have been able to discover in letters written long
afterwards, have been my only materials ; but from
this period a regular series of written records begin,
and, in particular, several long and intimate letters
have been preserved by a Mr. Purkis,1 known in
the family as 'the great London tanner,' who, al-
though a much older man than Tom Poole, seems
to have been strongly attracted by the clever young
delegate from Somersetshire, whose literary tastes
he shared, and whose political opinions he probably
helped to form. When Tom returned home in
March 1791 he was soon at his uncle's house at
Marshmill 'in high spirits,' and no doubt full of
the adventures and experiences of his London
visit. Great, however, was the reproachful as-
tonishment, not only of his cousins, but of the
entire neighbourhood, when it came to be perceived
that he had brought back with him to Stowey an
ardent sympathy with that, which, even in I791,
was felt to be a doubtful and incomprehensible
portent, to be regarded by all right-minded per-
sons with the most suspicious caution-I mean
the French Revolution.

I For a long time I believed that Tom Poole had been sent to
MAr. Purkis to improve his knowledge of business; but when the
entries in Miss C. Poole's journal were carefully compared with the
memoranda in Mr. Tom Poole's Copying-book, new light was thrown
on the subject.








24 THOMAS POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS CHAP. II

Of old Thomas Poole's thoughts about the
matter no record remains. It seems impossible
but that he must have been rather proud of a son
who, at twenty-five, stood so high in the confidence
of all the leading men in his own trade ; but the
making of disparaging remarks had become a
habit, and, if old stories are to be believed, he
never left it off as long as he lived. Now, however,
Tom occasionally attempted to turn the tables, as
when, upon one occasion, he advanced the opinion
that his father's practice of keeping no accounts,
was a manner of conducting business which was
actually barbarous in its simplicity. But the elder
Thomas's confidence in himself remained unshaken.
'Tut, tut, boy; why, what would you have?' he
made answer. 'I owe no man anything; the pits
are full, and there's money in the stocking-what
better do you want ?'
Neither of the Thomas Pooles possessed a very
yielding disposition; they disagreed upon many
points, and the contentions between them were
frequent; but the chief fault seems to have been
with the father, who could not let his son alone.
The irritable, arbitrary old man, who might have
been better tempered if it had not been for the
gout, was not a favourite in the family. Uncle
Thomas is often very disagreeable,' recorded Cousin
Charlotte. Nevertheless it appears that Tom was







A VISIT FROM PURKIS


always able to invite his friends to his father's
house whenever he would, and the summer of
1792 brought him the delight of a visit from Mr.
Purkis, which was evidently a great success, though
Tom is half apologetic to his London friend for
the primitive plainness of life at Stowey. They
rode and walked over the Quantock Hills, and
spent evenings at Marshmill listening to Penelope's
singing, and, in short, entirely enjoyed themselves.
And, if that old life were primitive, it had, at
least, the advantage of being a good deal less ex-
pensive than our present modes of existence are
found to be. Remember what it costs now to
send a son to a private tutor's and read this reply
of Tom Poole to a letter of Mr. Purkis's about a
boy in whom he was interested 1 :

You ask me if we have a cheap boarding-school in
this neighbourhood. A Mr. Roskilly, the clergyman of
this place, a most amiable, liberal-minded man, and a
very good tutor, takes a few pupils ; if your friend wishes
to give his boy a classical education there is no situation
that I could with so much confidence recommend. The
treatment of the children is affectionate and kind to a
degree, and, as he takes no day scholars, and not above
a dozen boarders, the utmost attention is paid to their
studies. Indeed he dedicates his whole time to his boys.
His terms are 20 a year; no presents of any kind are

SCopy of this letter preserved in MIr. Poolc's Copying-book.
No. I. The date is June to, 1792.


1790-92







26 THOMAS POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS CHAP. II

expected, unless you chuse to give the servants any-
thing at the vacations. For the twenty pounds they
are boarded, their linen washed, they are taught Latin,
Greek, English Grammar, to which particular attention
is paid, and Geography; but what is more valuable than
all is the exceeding healthiness of the situation, and the
particular attention he pays to their morals. Indeed his
boys are as healthy, innocent, and happy, and in as good-
a train of instruction, as any I ever met with ..
There is a very decent man who attends the school
three times a week to teach such boys as wish it
Writing and Arithmetick, for which they pay him five
shillings a quarter. There is also a Dancing-master-
but these things are optional. I have a charge of mine
with him, the son of an eminent merchant at Bristol,
and he learns neither of them.' 1
The letter was written just before Mr. Purkis's
visit to Stowey, and continues as follows:-
'I am happy Government pays some attention to the
bark business-their ordering bark to be procured from
Canada, etc., seems at least to show some goodwill towards
us. Pray, are you to send a ship on purpose, or do you
take advantage of a back freight? Let me know the
steps the committee designs taking. .. A bounty on
the importation of bark would certainly be desirable, and
in all probability a prelude to some restriction on the
exportation of our own bark, inasmuch as a very strong
argument would arise against allowing the free exporta-
tion of that which we were granting a bounty to import.
1 It is puzzling to find writing and arithmetic classed with danc-
ing as non-essential extras !







DR. MAIENDIE


I wish the circumstance may not stare Government in
the face and prevent their giving us the bounty ..
When you come into Somersetshire I shall reckon upon
your taking a particular account of every object worthy
of your attention. I would recommend you to begin
with Wells, where the Mail stops a quarter of an hour,
and where the cathedral is one of the finest pieces of
Gothic architecture in the kingdom. The celebrated
and splendid ruins of Glastonbury Abbey would next
demand your admiration, but as the coach does not stop
at Glastonbury you must defer your view of that interest-
ing scene till your return, when perhaps we may together
tread the holy ground. I am already in my mind dis-
posing of the time when we shall be together ..

The Mr. Roskilly mentioned in this letter was
the curate of Stowey. The vicar was always
rather a personage, and, for the most part of the
year, non-resident, as the living was in the gift of
the canons of Windsor, and they usually appointed
one of themselves. In Tom Poole's early manhood
the vicar was a Dr. Majendie, who must have been
both a good man and a man of very enlightened
views, for we find him, in those remote days, when
the very idea of such a school was a recent, and
in the eyes of many, a questionable novelty, deeply
interested in the establishment of a Sunday School
in Nether Stowey, which was the earliest effort
made in that place for the education of the
children of the poor. It is also the first direct


1790-92






28 THOMAS POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS CHAP. II

work in the service of the labouring classes in
which we know Tom Poole to have taken an
active part, and it is certain that the question of
education, as one of the crying needs of the poor,
had already begun to take possession of his mind,
though, in 1789, the year in which the first report
of the Stowey Sunday School was published, he
was only twenty-four. The Marshmill journals
abound in notices of a similar school at Over
Stowey, of which his cousins, the John Pooles,
were the chief promoters. For Dr. Majendie
himself Tom Poole entertained a strong feeling of
affectionate admiration, which finds expression in
many letters, whose rough copies, blotted and
interlined, are still to be seen in the pages of
his Copying-books. Tom used to take a great
deal of pains with his English in those days, and
must have spent much time in the translation of
his thoughts into elaborately rounded periods,
formed upon the model of Dr. Johnson ; but some
of these ceremonious epistles are so characteristic
of the manners and feelings of a bygone age that
they have seemed to me well worth preserving.
The year 1792 ended, for the whole Poole
family, in the deepest gloom. As summer passed
into autumn a malignant fever broke out in the
Stowey neighbourhood, and Tom's enjoyment of
the visit of his London friend was barely over







1790-92 DEATI OF IIIS UNCLE 29

when his Uncle John, after a short period during
which his unsatisfactory state of health had caused
his family vague uneasiness, sickened unmistak-
ably on August I3th of 'the same fever of which
so many had died,' and growing rapidly worse
and worse, breathed his last on the 3oth day of
the same month. Tom Poole was present. At
the very first alarm he and his sister Sarah had
hastened to Marshmill to stay with the sorrow-
stricken household ; and perhaps this may be a
good place to note that, in spite of the rough
abruptness of manner which all his cousins
thought so much to be regretted in poor Tom,
his wonderful tenderness in times of trouble, and
especially of sickness, was so well known as to
make his presence continually sought for and
desired at such seasons. To his Uncle John he
was 'as a nurse,' and I think scarcely one of that
uncle's own children can have felt a deeper sense
of bereavement at his loss.
The death of my dear uncle,' he writes to Purkis,1 is
the severest stroke I ever felt .... He was taken off in
the prime of health and strength by the dreadful fever
which has carried so many to the unknown country.
His death has caused a shock in the neighbourhood you
can scarcely conceive, and has thrown a gloom over
every countenance ..
When I last wrote I was in such distress of mind I
1 September 19, 1792.








30 TIOMAS POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS CHAP. 11

scarcely recollect what I said, but if I did not then
remember to do so, my dear friend, let me sincerely
thank you for your kindness in paying that short visit to
me at Stowey, and to beg you to excuse anything which
you must have remarked deficient in the reception I
gave you. A time will come, I hope, when I shall
welcome you to my home, be it where it will, in a
manner more to my mind but of one thing be
certain, that whatever was amiss sprang rather from our
inability than from any want of goodwill.
'This letter, my dear friend, must be gloomy, for such
is the present state of my mind that I wonder at the
cheerfulness I have heretofore experienced, and almost
despair of its ever returning again. I reflect, with
melancholy pleasure, on the delightful scenes and days
through which I have passed, and they appear almost as
a dream to me. I)o you remember that evening, Purkis,
the last I spent with you? I think I never remember a
more delightful one. The heavens smiled upon us, and
the pale moon shed her mild lustre on that pleasing,
rational conversation, which so swiftly beguiled the way.
You then promised to send me some charming lines
which you repeated, and which I beg you will transmit
to me in your next letter. You also promised to throw
into a regular form your account of our little excursions.
I do enjoin you to send it to me as well, on the earliest
opportunity. .. .

To another London friend he writes:-
'My uncle was a man who is regretted by all who
knew him. He had a good head, and an honest, feeling
heart, which prompted him to exert the means Providence








1790-92 ILLNESS OF IIIS COUSIN JOHN


had placed at his disposal to the advantage of all around
him. His death has overwhelmed his wife and children,
who tenderly loved him, with affliction you can better
imagine than I describe. But why do I thus write to
you of a person you did not know? becausee it is a
subject that so eternally fills my mind that I cannot help
it. '

Indeed the shadow of death still rested darkly
on the once happy home at Marshmill. In the
course of September, John, the beloved elder
brother, who had just gained his Oriel Fellowship,
was taken ill, and brought to the very brink of
the grave, by the same terrible disease to which
his father had fallen a victim.

'For a fortnight le was in a state of raving mad-
ness,' wrote Tom Poole, 'and it was the opinion of his
physicians that, even if life survived, his senses must be
lost, and that a wretched maniac was all that could be
preserved of what John Poole once was,-the most
accomplished and best of men.'

The only remedy used seems to have been
large doses of opium, and these John Poole, a tall,
powerful young man of two-and-twenty, and
'suffering from severe delirium, attended by such
spasms in the throat it was feared locked-jaw would
ensue,' resisted so violently that even his mother
was for giving up in despair. Those were not the
days of trained nurses, and no one knew how to







32 THOMAS 1'OOLE AND lHIS FRIENDS C ,P. 11

act. But, 'What!' said Tom Poole, 'let a fine
young man die, for want of a little resolution ?'
Whereupon, calling in the strongest men from
the farm,' he administered the required medicine
by main force. 'I believe I may say with truth,'
wrote Cousin Charlotte, that our dear John owes
his life to him.' His recovery was so unexpected
that he seemed 'almost as one risen from the
dead, and given anew to those who loved him from
the hands of the Creator.''
Letter to I'urki.







1792-93 TIE FRINCII REVOLUTION


33


CHAPTER III

I.o the giant Frenzy,
Uprooting empires with his whirlwind arm,
Mocketh high I Heaven ; burst hideous from the cell
\\here the ol hag, uncontquerable huge,
Creation's eyeless drudge, black Ruin, sits
Nursing the impatient earthquake.'
COI.ERII GE, 7 1 fll/Sll'.

TIHE death of his uncle would, under any
circumstances, have been a great blow to Thomas
Poole ; but the particular time at which it occurred
was one when he could indeed ill afford to
lose the counsels of so beloved and so highly
esteemed a kinsman. The opinion that the
French Revolution was a fearful and unnatural
catastrophe, to be shuddered at, and certainly not
sympathised with, had become by this time a
fixed idea in the rural English mind; and even
before the actual commencement of the Reign of
Terror dark rumours of the uncontrollable ferocity
of the mob of Paris, the raging in the name of
liberty against all the bonds of social order, the
VOL. I D







34 TIIOMAS P'OOLE AND 111i FRIENDS CiAI. IIl

wild defiance hurled to the very heavens against
God Himself, had produced a general attitude of
indignant expectation, not unmingled with alarm
lest some infection of the same madness should,
by any evil chance, visit our own happier shores.
Tom Poole was not the kind of person to reserve
an unpopular opinion, or to be silent when any
of his cherished ideals were attacked or misre-
presented. His sense of the misery of the French
people through centuries of grinding oppression,
his sympathy with their efforts, however wild and
convulsive, to achieve their just freedom, was
exceedingly deep, and, in season or out of season,
he never scrupled to proclaim what he thought.
Ile became for a while, and this especially after
the publication of Paine's Rights of Man as a
reply to Burke's celebrated Rfefctcions on the
FrInclc/ R'volution, a kind of political Ishmaelite
in his own neighbourhood, his hand against every
man, and every man's hand against him. It was
probably at this time that he made his appearance
amongst the wigs and powdered locks of his
kinsfolk and acquaintance, male and female, with-
out any of the customary powder in his hair;
which innocent novelty was a scandal to all be-
holders, seeing that it was the outward and visible
sign of a love of innovation, a well-known badge
of sympathy with democratic ideas. If he did






1792-93 'EVERYBODY TALKS POLITICS' 35

not find himself literally in a minority of one,
being happy in the comprehension and adherence
of his brother Richard, yet his cousins' journals
show that the household at Marshmill-the little
circle whose support, if he could have obtained it,
would have been grateful to him beyond all others
-bristled with disapproval; whilst the small world
of Stowey and Bridgwater made no secret that
it was very much shocked, and at times almost
inclined to believe that Tom Poole ought to be
denounced as a public enemy.
We will begin with an extract from Charlotte
Poole's journal, the first in which she takes any
notice of her cousin's politicks':-

'Decmiberc 18, 1792.-John dined with Tom Poole,
and from him heard that there was a great bustle at
Bridgwater yesterday-that Tom Paine was burnt in
Effigy, and that he saw Richard Symes sitting on the
Cornhill with a table before him, receiving the oaths of
loyalty to the king, and affection to the present constitu-
tion, from the populace. I fancy this could not have
been a very pleasant sight to Tom Poole, for he has im-
bibed some of the wild notions of liberty and equality
that at present prevail so much ; and it is but within these
two or three days that a report has been circulated that
he has distributed seditious pamphlets to the common
people of Stowey. But this report is entirely without
foundation.
'Everybody at this time talks politicks, and is looking







36 THOMAS 1'OOLE AND HIS FRIENDS CHAP. Ill

with anxiety for fresh intelligence from France, which is
a scene of guilt and confusion.'
On December 23, 1792, Tom himself wrote
as follows to his friend Purkis of
'a laughable affair, in which, can you believe it, my
dear Purkis, you are somewhat involved, and which I
will now relate to you. There is a man at Stowey, an
Attorney of the name of Symes, with whom I was hereto-
fore on an intimate footing, but lately, I hardly know
for what reason, we have had little intercourse. He is
mighty zealous, in his political opinions, for the present
establishment, against what he calls Republicans and
Levellers, and believes that every man who thinks many
things might be mended in the Government of this
country, belongs to that class. In consequence of the
proclamations his ardour has increased, and those royal
mandates have had precisely that effect between him and
me which Mr. Grey foretold on the issue of the first;
viz., setting friends and neighbours by the ears, and
exciting domestic as well as public discontent where
peace had before reigned.
'But to proceed with my story. There is also another
man here, a very sensible fellow, a cabinet-maker. In
an accidental conversation he lamented the sad alarms
which prevailed in the kingdom about the constitution
and Thomas Paine; but withal, expressed a great wish
to read his book, and requested me to lend it to him.
I accordingly, with some hesitation, lent him a copy I
had by me, the only one I ever possessed, with the leaves
uncut. As the man came out of the house he met
Symes, who, seeing what he had in his hand, snatched







1792-93 PAINE'S 'RIGHTS OF MAN' 37

it from him, told him it was a very improper book for
him, and in a violent passion tore the book in pieces,
and stamped it underfoot. The man was afraid to
return it to me with this story, and I heard nothing of it
for some time. In the interval, Symes propagated
round the country that I was a violent incendiary in
political matters, that I had a Box of Books from London
which I distributed among the common people, and that,
on the whole, I was a most dangerous person; in short,
I was stunned with the sound of the Tower, Newgate, etc.
etc., and had really hopes of paying a visit to my Lord
Grenville at least. On hearing this, you may imagine
the spirit moved me a little, and I seized the first
opportunity of seeing Symes, and I think I never saw a
man more ashamed of himself and his conduct. The
following conversation passed:-
'P. What induced you to report I had a box of these
books from London?
S. The leaves of the book being uncut, the general
sentiments I have heard you express making it probable,
and I have heard, too, that all your acquaintance in
London, whom you esteem so much, and particularly
the Mr. Purkis who was lately down to see you, are Re-
publicans and Levellers.
P. You have reported and now assert without
foundation that for which you ought to be ashamed.
The first time I read The RIght s of Man you lent me the
book; some time after I purchased it myself, but having
read it, I had no curiosity to read it again, and the book
remained in the state in which I had received it from
the booksellers till you destroyed it. As for my general
sentiments, I believe they have been as loyal and as








38 THOMAS POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS CHAr. nll

consistent with a British spirit as the sentiments of
those who have professed more; and as to my ac-
quaintance in London, they are much above your cen-
sure or your praise, my knowledge of them I consider
to be the happiest event of my life. Mr. Purkis will
laugh at your insinuations, and it is almost beneath me
to tell you that his sentiments on politicks are more
moderate than those of any man I know who thinks
with the ability and disinterestedness that he does. But,
pray, what do you, or any one in this country, know of
the gentleman you have named? Who is your authority?
'At this he boggled a good deal, and at length I found
some one had related to him the transient conversation at
the door of the King's Head, Bridgwater, the Sunday
morning you left that town, in which I ridiculed some
of their Corporation men, but in which, if I recollect
rightly, you bore little or no part. We separated on his
making every apology to me that he could, and on his
promising to contradict all he had said. This was all
the satisfaction I could well have, situated as I am, but
I never had a greater inclination to pull a fellow by the
nose, and I am not certain that I shall not yet put it
into execution. ...
'You will laugh at this business, and perhaps, too, at
my warmth; and the tale has taken up so much paper I
have no room for half I wish to say. You ask me, dear
Purkis, when I design emigrating.1 I certainly shall
defer it till the weather gets milder, but my resolution is

1 This is the first allusion that I have been able to find to the
project, afterwards actually carried out by Tom Ploole, of seeking
employment as an ordinary workman in some tanyard near London,
and spending some time in that kind of life.








1792-9,; A WARM CONVERSATION 39

unalterable. Accept my sincere thanks for your kind
advice. Now having introduced tanning, I will go on.
Pray have you thought of or done anything in the
Article for the Scotch Dictionary ? If not, I beg par-
ticularly that you will ..
'Let me know if the Committee propose doing anything
in our bark business during the present session; but I
fear Government is so taken up with wars and rumours
of wars, and so anxious to check the liberty Mad Dogs,
they will hardly deign to pay attention, even to one of
the first manufactures in the kingdom. I am anxious
to hear the event of your expectation of the co-operation
of the Corporation of London, in a revisal of the
Statutes. If they should be revised, let it be on a broad
basis .

In Charlotte Poole's journal, December 26,
1792, we find :
Mr. and Mrs. Lewis and Tom Poole spent the even-
ing here. French politics are become so very interest-
ing that people cannot take opposite opinions, and
continue to converse with temper. We have had an
instance of this to-day in the conversation that passed
between Mr. Lewis and Tom Poole.'
But politics did not, as yet, interfere with
the cousinly friendship. On December 29 she
records:-
SAunt Thomas and Tom Poole were so kind as to
spend the whole day with us, recollecting that it was the
1 Encrcly, /op a ril/annica, third edition, then publishing.
SMr. Lewis was the curate of Over Stowey.








40 THOMAS POOLE AND IIS FRIENDS clA iii

anniversary of my mother's wedding-day. Their being
here helped to dissipate the cloud that hung over her.'

In January 1793 she writes:-
'January I.-We heard this morning that Tom Paine
was going to be burnt in Effigy at Stowey; but Tom
Poole called, and told us he had put a stop to the pro-
ceedings, for after what had passed he thought some
people might think it was done in opposition to him, and
if he appeared in it, others might think it was hypocrisy.
'January 15.-Dined at Uncle Thomas's, who was
delighted to have us, for they have very little society in
Stowey, Sally having left them. Tom can scarcely be
called a companion, he is so deeply engaged in his
studies; but I think he would be much more amiable if
he would endeavour sometimes to amuse his old father
and mother.
'January 27.-This evening we have been chilled
with horror at reading the murder of the King of France.'

The following letter will show what Tom
Poole's feelings were in connection with that
terrible event and its results:-
I do execrate as much as any man that unnecessary
instance of injustice and cruelty perpetrated in France,
and should be happy to see every man who voted for the
king's death brought to condign punishment. But 'tis
not Louis's death, nor the Scheldt, nor the decree of
November, that are the causes of the war. It is a desire
to suppress the glowing spirit of liberty, which, I thank
1 T. Poole to Mr. Gutteridge, a London tanner, February 23,







IIIS OPINION ON TIE WAR


God, pervades the world, and which, I am persuaded,
all the powers on earth cannot destroy .
'Many thousands of human beings will be sacrificed
in the ensuing contest; and for what ? To support three
or four individuals, called arbitrary kings, in the situation
which they or their ancestors have usurped. I consider
every Briton who loses his life in the war as much mur-
dered as the King of France, and every one who approves
the war, as signing the death-warrant of each soldier or
sailor that falls. But besides these motives, what shall
we not suffer in other respects? This country for some
time past may be considered as the workshop of France;
we have been growing rich by their confusion. And had
Government, instead of the measures they have taken,
promoted a rational reform according to the spirit of the
constitution, we had, indeed, been a happy people. But
now, adieu to all reform! There is no alternative
between absolute quiescence or the most violent extrem-
ities. In the reign of Charles I. France had some
shadow of liberty left; but the artful ministers of Louis
XIV. alarmed the people of that country with the view
of the excesses of parties in England, and induced them
to make their monarch despotick. I trust in God there
is no similarity between the people of this country and
those of France at that time. The excesses in France
are great; but who are the authors of them? The
Emperor of Germany, the King of Prussia, and Mr.
Burke. Had it not been for their impertinent inter-
ference, I firmly believe the King of France would be at
this moment a happy monarch, and that people would
be enjoying every advantage of political liberty.
The contemplation of this subject gives me great pain,


I792-93







42 THOMAS POOLE AND IllS FRIENDS cii.\r. in

and I think your sentiments will in general coincide with
mine. The slave trade, you will see, will not be abolished,
because to be humane and honest now is to be a traitor
to the constitution, a lover of sedition and licentiousness.
But this universal depression of the human mind cannot
last long .

Earlier in the autumin-it must have been soon
after receiving the news of the September massacres
-Poole had already expressed to the same friend
his grief and anxiety at the bloody turn that
events were taking in Paris. Characteristically
enough he begins, not with the madness of the
people but with the crimes of kings :-
Poor Poland, I pity her fate Is there no vengeance
from heaven for the Empress of Russia? Are her gray
hairs to go down to the grave in peace ? I trust not. I
trust that mankind will be shown that there is a punish-
ment, even in this world, for such abominable tyranny.
Louis XIV. succeeded as well as the Empress of Russia,
yet he lived to see his power lessened and his pride
humbled. lut Louis XIV., though he exhausted and
desolated his own country, never was guilty of what this
woman has done.
'Speaking of a French despot, we naturally turn to
French affairs. What are your sentiments on the present
crisis ? Are all the horrid excesses and cruelties of which
we hear necessary ?-- There is a something, my dear sir,
in the character of the French which I thank (od
Englishmen do not possess. That savage levity which
has appeared in this latter revolution, and, indeed, on a







1792-93 EXCESSES OF TIE FRENCH REVOLUTION 43

review of their history, always did appear in their civil
wars, I must abhor; that entire absence of religion
and mockery of justice are detestable; but, notwith-
standing this, I think they did right in deposing the
king, and they have an undoubted right, if they prefer it,
to choose a Republican government. But why this
disgrace to humanity ?-As for Christianity, it is quite
out of the question. Had human nature any cause to
blush during the glorious Revolution in America ?
'The philosophers and friends to mankind that formed
the first French constitution I admire and revere, and
that constitution, the most beautiful fabric that was ever
erected by the human mind, gained ground and admirers
every day; but it is fled like a dream, and I tremble lest
the present excesses may not give a greater stab to
liberty than the Tyrants of the world who are combined
against it. ..
Charlotte Poole's complaint that her cousin
was so little of a companion to his parents may
have been well grounded, for references in later
letters show that Tom Poole, at this period of his
life, used to spend from four to five hours daily
in study. He had brought back with him from
London the desire to become thoroughly ac-
quainted with the writings of the above-mentioned
French 'philosophers and friends to mankind,'
and was working steadily at the acquisition of
the French language; and although he had at
first no teacher, it appears that he cannot have
been very long before he acquired the power of







44 TIIOMAS POOLE AND IIIS FRIENDS CHAP. Ill

reading French with tolerable facility. How he
found time for so much reading it is difficult to
imagine, for his uncle's death and his father's
failing health had thrown the chief burden of the
family business on his shoulders, whilst now, as
ever throughout his life, he was constantly engaged
in a variety of local interests ; the Sunday School,
for instance, which he sedulously laboured to keep
going ; the Taunton Hospital, of which the first
stone had been 'laid in 1772 by Lord North,
then Premier of England, the immortal father of
the present minister, with many other persons of
distinction, being present on the occasion.' Now,
twenty years later, the building still remained
unfinished for lack of funds, and it had actually
been proposed that it should be pulled down, and
'the materials sold, in order to discharge expenses
already incurred,' a proposition which Tom Poole
most earnestly endeavoured to combat, both by
writing to the papers and in other ways, entreating
everybody not to be a tame spectator of an event
which, if once accomplished, would certainly be-
come the subject of general, though unavailing
regret.
The Stowey Book Society was also started by
Tom Poole in the beginning of 1793, and his
Copying-book contains a sketch of the rules, and
a copy of the very first list of books ordered to









1792-93 TIE STOWEV BOOK SOCIETY 45

be delivered with all expedition, carriage paid,
the volumes in boards and the pamphlets stitched.'
I can remember this society as still in existence
in my own young days; but it gradually dropped
to pieces before the now universal custom of sub-
scribing to a London library. It may entertain
readers of the present day to see the kind of books
that were ordered ; but I must own that I have
my suspicions that occasional remonstrances may
possibly have been addressed to Tom Poole for
sending for too many volumes in which the other
members of the society were only very moderately
interested. In fact, an instance of something of
the kind from his cousin John Poole will in
due time find a place in these pages. Here,
however, is the list:-

A'Ri/its of lVonlen, by Mary Wolstoncraft.
Gillies's I/story of Greece ; and also his Reign of
',reeric tc he SCcond. aiti a ,arallel I'between that
'Priince and PhiHi' o(f JAacedon. In all, 3 vols.
Watson's History oJ t1he Rl e,'is of Phtilip tie S'cond and
Third of Spain. In all, 3 vols.
N.ckar on Executive GovernmCent. 2 vols., tr. from
the French.
Keat's Sketches from 1iNatre.
Robertson's Disquisition on the Ind'is.
IT'c Reomance of lthc Jrest.
Paris Leqcul.
Richard's Songs of t/e iAbori'inal Britons.









46 THOMAS POOLE AND IIIS FRIENDS CHAP. III

Fox's Letter to the Electors of WTestminster.
Dowman's Tragwedes.
And you must send a book of plain writing paper,
proper to keep the Society's accounts, of the value
of 3s., and on the cover, printed on a piece of red
leather, Stowey Book Society.'
The following passage is from a letter to Mr.
Purkis, dated February 26, 1793 :-
It is so long since we have been in correspond-
ence that I hardly know whether we had any particular
topicks under discussion. As for politicks, though that
subject is now, not as heretofore, a mere matter of con-
versation, but an interesting concern to all, I will say
nothing, for I know we precisely agree in our sentiments.
War is a horrid fiend; and the closer any thinking
humane mind approaches him, the more it is astonished
at the indifference with which it has been used to con-
template the monster.' This is a wonderful instance of
the quiescence of the mind, and of its readiness to
adopt unthinkingly whatever has been made familiar by
habit, and offered to it from its earliest capability of
perception: in other words, it shows how little men
think on anything for themselves ..
Have you had any further intercourse with Sir
Joseph Banks ? My reason for asking is, that a par-
ticular friend of mine, Mr. Anstice, has written an essay
on the doctrine of the Velocity of Bodies, which, I think,
1 '. Boys and girls
And women that would groan to see a child
Pull off an insect's leg, all read of war,
The best amusement for our morning meal.'
COLERIDGE, Fears 2i1 Solilitde.






1792-93 Till': TOWVN OF BRIDGWATER 47

possesses great merit, and which he wishes to be read
before the Royal Society. For this purpose I under-
stand it must be introduced by a member of that body
-are any of them within the circle of your acquaint-
ance ? Have yot heard from the Editors of the Scotch
S)ictionary, or made any progress in your treatise for
that work ? In their article on Mechanics they have
taken in the principal part of a little volume on the
Construction of Wheel-carriages, by my friend above
alluded to; but they have, in some cases, misstated his
doctrine, and hec wishes to write to them. Do, in your
next, give me their address ..

This IMr. Anstice was a shipowner in the
town of Bridgwater, up to which place the muddy
waters of the River Parrett are navigable for ships
of considerable burden. It is one of those rivers
in which the bed seems almost to empty itself at
low tide, discovering a brown expanse of soft and
shiining mud, whilst the water returns in a single
great wave, called locally the Bore, the sound of
whose approach can be heard a long way off, and
as it comes swift and strong round one of the
numerous winding reaches, it seems to fill the river
in a moment, lifting every vessel, as it lies bare to
the very bottom against the sloping banks, with
a sudden, peculiar shock. The town of Bridgwater
probably originated with the first briic built over
this not very fordable river; but there is a ford
with an old Celtic name-Combwich-a few miles






48 TIOMAS POOLE AND IIIS FRIENDS cn.\i. ii

lower down, where, as Somersetshire antiquaries
think, Alfred's army crossed the river on their
way from Aileyl to Edington, about six miles
farther on. \edmore, where Guthrum was
baptized, and Oller, where e he was confirmed, are
not far distant, and I have heard from my father
that it was almost a point of honour with John
Poolc-Tom's contemporary cousin-to maintain
that at this Edington, and not at Edington in
Wiltshire, had been fought the battle that decided
the fate of England.
Mr. Anstice's house stood facing the river, not
very far from the old stone bridge. He was a man
of commanding personal appearance, with good
means, and much originality and force of character,
and was, of course, numbered amongst the principal
inhabitants of the town. His name is mentioned
as one of those upon whom Clarkson called when
he visited Bridgwatcr in 1787, drawn thither
by the fact that the second Petition for the
Abolition of the Slave Trade ever presented to
Parliament (in 1785) came from the town of
Bridgwater. The Quaker petition was the first ;
1 A hamlet near Stowey still bears the name of Ailey Green, and
Stowey would really be a long day's march on the Nway from Exmoor
to Edington, ',i the furd at Combwich ; supposing the Rock .\g-
brylta, the gathering place of Alfred's army, to have been really
some well-known rendezvous in Exmoor, as the Rev. John Poole
conjectured.
SThe Bridgwater Petition was presented Iby the Honourable







1792-93 MR. ANSTICE 49

it may be that the fact that there were members
of the Society of Friends, who were respected and
wealthy inhabitants, was not without its influence
in the presentation of the Bridgwater petition also ;
and that some of these influential Quakers were
near connections of Mr. Anstice's, was perhaps
the particular circumstance which may have enlisted
his sympathies in the same direction ; for he was
not by nature a reformer.
'Mr. Anstice,' writes one I who remembers him,
'was even more self-educated than Tom Poole. His
father, as well as I can make out, had ships in some trade
from Bridgwater, which he commanded himself, and took
his son on one occasion to Italy, where he contrived to
learn Italian, and for many years he kept a journal in
that language. I have seen Italian sonnets of his conm
position. Like many of the Anstices, he lacked the
impulse which pushes men to the front. Shyness and
a sort of apparent indolence prevented their very un-
common talents from making the mark they ought to
have done.'
My own father has often spoken to me of this
Anne 'aulet and Alexander I[ood, Esq., then Members for Bridg-
water. It begged leave to express a just abhorrence of a system of
oppression, which no prospect of private gain, no consideration
of public advantage, no plea of political expediency, can justify or
excuse. The members reported that there was not the least dis-
position to pay attention to it. Every one almost said the abolition
of slavery would throw the West Indian islands into convulsions, and
soon complete their utter ruin. They will not trust Providence for
its protection in so pious an undertaking.'-Lije of Clarkson, vol. i.
1 His grandson's widow, Mrs. Joseph Anstice.
VOL. I E






50 THOMAS POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS CHAP. III

'old Mr. Anstice,' as one of the most noticeable
men he ever met, and although the morbid shy-
ness above remarked upon was certainly a family
characteristic, one of his grandsons did actually
bid fair to achieve very high distinction, but that
his brilliant career was cut short by an early death.
This was Mr. Joseph Anstice, first Professor of
Classics at the London University, who was a
college contemporary and friend of Arthur Hallam,
Mr. Gladstone, and other distinguished men.
The only thing he had time to publish was a
volume of beautiful Translations from Grcck Cioric
Poctir'; but some of the hymns written during
his last illness have found a place in HymNns
Ancient and lodcrn, and are well-known favourites.
The Harvest Hymn-

'Lord of the harvest! once again
We thank Thee for the ripened grain,'
and the hymn beginning
Lord, how happy we should be,
If we could cast our care on Thee,'

may be cited as examples.
This Joseph Anstice's brother Richard suffered
from so extreme a form of the family shyness,
that his tutor had almost to use force to get him
into the schools at Oxford, where on the second
day he found in his place a paper, signed by the







1792-93 A REM~ARK'AB3LE 'MAN


examiners, stating that Mr. Anstice had already
done enough to obtain the highest mathematical
honours Oxford could bestow. Both these were
sons of that very Penelope Poole of Marshmill,
for whom Tom Poole cherished such a strong
partiality. Her husband, Mr. WVilliam Anstice,
exercised the calling of an ironmaster at Madelcy
Wood, in Shropshire. He was much younger
than herself, but the marriage was a very happy
one, and almost all their large family of children
were above the usual average in talent. Her
husband has been described to me as one of the
most fascinating of men, brilliant in wit-all the
Anstices possessed that delightful endowment, a
strong sense of humour-very poetical, very re-
ligious and highly principled, and at the same time
a firstrate man of business, and of considerable
scientific acquirements. This was a hereditary
taste. Science, but more particularly advanced
mathematics, was the delight of 'old Mr. Anstice,
and the favourite employment of all such intervals
of leisure as he could secure from business in those
quieter days when leisure was more abundant
than it is now. Even on his deathbed, at con-
siderably past eighty years of age, he sent to his
grandson Dick (the Richard Anstice before men-
tioned) some papers in connection with the
squaring of the circle, about which Dick remarked


1792-93







52 TIOMAS POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS cliAr. III

that though, of course, not really successful, they
contained the nearest approximation that had
ever been made, which was known to mathema-
ticians as the Solution of Archimedes. He thought
his grandfather must have learnt and forgotten it;
but even if so, this showed that he must have
gone deep into the subject. It was the last effort
of the old man's brain; he became delirious, and
died in a few days. The story has been told
here to give some idea what manner of man he
must have been at a much earlier period of his
life, when his grandsons were not yet born, and
their father a mere youth, too young for poor Tom
Poole to regard as yet with jealous eyes, however
frequently he might be seen hanging about that
enchanted spot, the parlour at Marshmill, to which,
indeed, Tom was wont to bring every guest
whom he thought interesting, but where, doubtless,
he would fain have had no one else so intimately
at home as himself.
The next mention of Mr. Anstice in Tom
Poole's correspondence is a very different one, and
must be sought for in another chapter. It is
discouraging to find, from the following letter to
Mr. Purkis,1 that the efforts on behalf of the
Hospital were unavailing.
'I thank you,' writes Tom Poole, 'for the trouble
1 T. Poole to S. Purkis, April 17, 1793.







7IOS'T UNCONSTITUTIONAL.


you took about the Taunton Hospital: you have seen
in the papers that the building is to be destroyed .
The failures at Bristol have been, and continue to
be, melancholy. A great slave merchant was the first
who failed, and in his ruin involved hundreds. Un-
warrantable speculation seems to have been the cause of
these calamities, and indeed may be considered as the
mercantile sin of the age. It arises from a bad principle,
to pursue which would require more room than I can
afford in this letter.
'You say you have done nothing respecting our busi-
ness before the Lords in Council. I hope you will not
allow it to drop, but at present we are urgently called
to action before a higher court-I mean the House (f
Lords, where a Bill is pending which, if I understand
it rightly, will, in its operation, do more harm to the
leather trade than the loss of all the bark exported this
kingdom. Tanners, carriers, cordwainers, all are inter-
ested. A most unjust and partial clause is admitted in
a most unconstitutional Bill (the Traitorous Correspond-
ence Bill), by which clause the leather trade is deprived
of the favour extended to other manufactures ; and we are
told that it is high treason to supply the French with a
pair of shoes, whilst you may very innocently sell them
a coat I hope our Committee will immediately pay
attention to this subject, and, if we are used unjustly,
spare neither expense nor pains to obtain redress. All
we can do is to lay the business before counsel, and, it
necessary, pray to be heard by counsel at the bar of the
House of Lords. ..
am glad you have so much time allowed to prepare
the article for the Encyclopaedia. I recommend you to


1792-93







54 THl1\MAS POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS cI1.. Il

begin as soon as you conveniently can, as I am per-
suaded many new ideas arise in the progress of a work
which we scarcely imagined the subject to be susceptible
of at the commencement. Besides, it is suicide to the
abilities and an insult to the public to print a crude,
hasty composition, where no concurrence of circum-
stances prevented mature deliberation. The only assist-
ance I can give you is through my chemical, tanning
friend at Sherborne, who gives, I think, the best account
I have ever heard of the chemical action of the substances
used in the process. ..
With respect to my Emigirtion ; I have fixed it for
the beginning of June. Wantage seems to be the best
place to select. I design being incognito and in foi'rm
paueris. The particulars I will give you in a future
letter. .'

This chapter may be appropriately concluded
withanotherextract from Charlotte Poole's diary:-
'Dececcmbr 14.-Amused ourselves with reading Dr.
Morc's journal while he was in Paris on the dreadful
ioth of August; which sent us to bed in bad spirits,
and not in charity with all mankind, but hating the
French.'









1792-93 A CIVILISING ELEMENT 55











CHAPTER IV

As generations come and go,
Their arts, their customs, ebb and flow.'
WORDSWORxTH.

THE dignified position of the vicars of Stowey
in the estimation of the Stowey neighbourhood
has been already mentioned. It was, no doubt,
partly due to their being also canons of Windsor ;
but the circumstance that two or three vicars
successively seem to have been men of some
mark, must be allowed its due weight. Miss
Charlotte Poole said long afterwards to a niece of
hers, who was wondering how, in an age when
female education was little attended to, it had
come in the way of herself and her sisters to
attain to the degree of culture and accomplishment
which they actually possessed, that they owed
much to the wives of the vicars of Stowey, who
unconsciously set a standard of refinement and
education distinctly higher than that of the re-








56 THOMAS POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS CHAP. Iv

mote little rural world into which their husbands'
duties brought them from time to time.
We always looked to them, my dear,' said
Miss Charlotte, 'as a civilising element.'
I suppose it is hard for us to understand how
much a civilising element may have been needed
before the great improvement in the means of
communication arrived to bring even the remotest
places into easy connection with the larger world.
The Marshmill family were, of course, not parish-
ioners, but they were always on terms of friend-
ship with the Nether Stowey clergy and their
families; whilst the Thomas Pooles, father and
son, seem to have acted as habitual helpers to
successive vicars in matters of tithe and glebe, and
other parochial questions, in which the assistance
of a loyal layman, who is also a man of business,
is very essential to a clergyman. The following
letters from the younger Thomas Poole to Dr.
Majendie,1 in which the formal respectfulness of
the style does not prevent a tolerably free ex-
pression of opinion, give a curious picture of the
manners and feelings of a bygone age:-

'REV. SIR-As I have been accustomed to your good-
ness, I certainly should have intruded on you ere this
had I been able before to procure the little package
1 Vicar of Stowey from May 1790 to April 1793. The letter is
dated December 15, 1792.








1792-93 LETTERS TO DR MAJEN)IE


which accompanies this letter,1 and which we beg, with
respectful compliments to yourself and Mrs. Majendic,
you will accept.
It gave us great concern that we had not the satisfac-
tion of taking leave of you, or of hearing from you.
before you left Stowey. Did you know, dear sir, how
much we were interested in the event then in contem-
plation-I mean your residence in Stowey-you would
not wonder at this. We have since heard that you have
for the present given up the idea, but we yet hope that a
time will come when you will spend a small portion of the
year in Stowey. I need not, sir, observe that your resi
dence here would correct the manners, mend the hearts.
and strengthen the faith of all your parishioners, and,
I will venture to say, work a very material and desirable
change in the disposition of the most insensible. This
I should not presume to remark did I not know that this
consideration would argue more forcibly in your mind
than any other I could offer. I can only add that
our family would be happy to contribute any means
which may fortunately be in their power to make your
residence at Stowey as convenient as the place will
admit.
But though, sir, we have not heard from you, we
suspect that you have further claims on our gratitude.
My brother at Sherborne has lately received some atten-
tions from the Admiral and Earl Digby, and perhaps
you have again kindly reminded them of his residence
there. The Admiral honoured my brother with a call,
Saturday, the 2oth November; and on the Saturday
SPerhaps a salmon. That fish abounded in the River I'anctt,
anil Trom Poole often sent presents of salmon to his friends.








58 TIOMAS 1'O(LE AND HIS FRIENDS cAx. iv

following he was desired to dine at the castle. He
there met the Admiral and his lady, and Mr. and
Mrs. Frome, the only people in Sherborne whom my
lord and her ladyship visit on anything like familiar
terms. He was received with that condescension,
even from her ladyship, which I must say is unusual
at the castle towards the inhabitants of Sherborne;
and, on taking leave, the Admiral requested my
brother to pay him a visit soon at his house in the
neighlbourhood. These events will give him no in-
considerable dclat, and will be, in their consequences,
of solid advantage to him. We owe them entirely to
you, and can only repeat the thanks we have before
offered ..
We had a short time since a meeting of the subscribers
to the Sunday Schools. We regretted the absence of the
principal supporter of those noble institutions, but trust
he will approve of the measures on which we determined,
which were, to purchase the boys a new coat and hat
each, and the girls a hat to wear Sundays; we hope
to get these clothes ready by Christmas Day. As a
further inducement, we proposed giving to each child
who attends the schools without one omission, one
penny on the first Sunday in every month. The expense
will be trifling, and being something in the children's
own pockets, seems to operate very powerfully. As for
the rest, I believe every desired object of these institu-
tions is answered. 'The School of Industry, too, is
placed on a new, and, I think, better plan, and we hope
to carry it on in a more spirited manner than we have
hitherto done. Indeed we should be truly reprehensible
did we not exert ourselves to carry into effect those







1792-93 LITTE;.RS TO DR. MAJEINDIE'


institutions to which you, sir, give such liberal, such
unprecedented support.1
'A more pleasing subject still I have reserved for the
end ; it is to congratulate you, sir, on the preferment you
have lately acquired, which we see announced in the
papers. That this may be only a prelude to that which
is yet more solid, and that you may long enjoy all the
blessings Providence can bestow, believe to be the
sincere hope of, Rev. Sir, your obliged,
Taos. Pool,l-.'
The preferment in question was the rectory (of
Hungerford, to which Dr. Majendic had been pre-
sented. In those days of pluralities this did not
involve, as a matter of course, the resignation of
the vicarage of Stowey, but the two following
letters will show that the consciences of the more
earnest among the clergy were already beginning
to awaken to the evils of non-residence.
'1 have both your last letters, but with very different
sensations: the former was another instance of your
kindness to me, the latter informs me of an event which,
1 In a subsequent letter the i: ... passage occurs :-'It rejoice-
Inm exceedingly that when some men of considerable eminence hold
up the most cruel and degrading principles, you, sir, remain unshaken
in your conviction of the utility of Sunday Schools. In a political
pamphlet x\ which Arthur Young has lately published, containing in
general most excellent advice, there are some remarks-particular i
in thle Appendix--which make nm blush for enlightened hiunla
nature m orc than I ever saw occasion for in the wh iole course of i\
life. Such doctrines might have been expected from ,some, but til
see them come from Arthur Young must give pain to every feclin'.
mind.--Thomas Poole to Dr. Majendie, April 1793.







60 TIHOI\S POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS clar. IV

I must confess, I have expected, but which gives me
more pain than I can express, and which, perhaps, in
its consequences, is a loss to me greater than I can
estimate. We had no right, sir, to expect such a man
as you long to remain Vicar of Stowey, nor has the
treatment which you have experienced here given you
any reason to resign the living with regret. I do most
sincerely lament those disagreeable circumstances which
have occurred during the short time you have presided
here, not so much in a pecuniary point of view, as
because I fear they have frequently agitated your mind
and disturbed your peace. I ardently pray that those
amongst whom you are now going may know better how
to estimate your worth. My father and mother are
equally afflicted by this intelligence, and you may rest
assured, sir, that your goodness will be impressed on
their minds to the latest hour of their lives ..
'You say, sir, wheresoever you may go you will not
entirely forget him who is now writing. This, sir, is too
much, and I fear I can have very little in future to
communicate that will be interesting to you ; but if, at a
leisurable hour you will condescend to write to me, it
will occupy some of my happiest moments to read and to
answer your letters, and should you conceive it ever in
my power to render you any personal services, here or
elsewhere, your commands would give me the highest
pleasure. Hungerford is, I think, situated on the great
road from Bath to London; it is possible I may, some
time or other, pay my respects to you there. But I
have a hope that we shall see you at Stowey once more
before you take a final leave. It would give us the
greatest, yet I must say a melancholy, satisfaction. ..







1792 )3 LETTERS To DRi. _NlAE'NI)IL


'.At the end of your letter you are pleased to intimate
that you will soon inform me more particularly of the
circumstances which led to your resignation of this
living; I wait anxiously to hear them, and tho' I regret
our loss, yet if it adds satisfaction in any manner to you.
be assured it gives the sincerest pleasure to, Rev. Sir,
your obliged and sincere humble servant,
TIIOS. POOLE.

.S.-Since writing this letter I have been so fortun-
ate as to meet with a brace of woodcocks, which, thu'
hardly worth your acceptance, I have added.'

In reply Dr. Majcndie seems to have said that
he had resigned the living of Stowcey principally
on account of a conscientious objection to be a
non-resident vicar, a reason which met with the
warmest approval from Thomas Poole.

'Happy would it be,' he writes,-' 'for the cause of
religion, if every clergyman felt on this subject as you
do. Those cavils, and that torrent of abuse, poured
out by designing men against the Established Church,
had never existed, if all had considered the importance
of residence; or, if by peculiar circumstances their (wn
residence was prevented, the importance of chusing a
competent representative. Generally speaking, the digni-
taries of the English Church do themselves and the sacred
religion of which they are the ministers honour. But
you, sir, must be aware that very many of the inferior
clergy, to whose care large congregations are frequently
entrusted, disgrace their profession and violate thcir
1 The date is January 3, 1793. March 4, 1793.


1792-)03







62 TIOMAS \ POOL.E AND HIS FRIENDS cl.A. IV

religion, not only by the commission and sanction of low
vice, but by the neglect of the most positive duties. If
on this subject I talk in an unbecoming manner, your
goodness will attribute it to no other source than to my
ignorance of that propriety of conduct, so difficult
sometimes to ascertain; but, in truth, I am led thus to
express myself by comparing your most excellent example
with the opposite conduct of many whom I now call to
mind. ..
'I write to you, sir, without reserve, and sometimes,
I fear, too familiarly, but your repeated assurances
prompt me to do it ..
This series of letters may appropriately con-
clude with one' in which Tom Poole expresses his
indignation that some one should have reported
to Dr. Majendic that his brother Richard is a
flaming democrat.
R:E. SIR-Your last letter informs me of two circum-
stances which have given me no small uneasiness, and
which induce me to take this early opportunity of
answering it, tho' I am sensible I ought to apologise for
thus frequently intruding on your attention. These are,
first, your indisposition, which I sincerely hope is cre
now entirely removed, and, in the next place, your having
heard that my brother at Sherborne is a.,- d' 'mtcat.
I most sincerely thank you, sir, for your candour in
stating to me what you have heard, and 1 rejoice that
those from whom you receive information at Sherborne
condescend to mention any opinions which they suppose
my brother to possess, and may, for the moment, dis-
A' l-y 27 1793.






179243 1HItS BROUTHER'S liDLFITtS


approve. It shows that those, of whom to merit the
esteem and approbation will be his highest gratification
and honour, do not regard him, or that which may
concern his welfare, with indifference.
'When my brother first came to Sherborne politick,
were not considered in that serious point of view which
they have been since, but were rather recurred to as a
matter of conversation, about which men might talk
without the least apprehension. They seemed peculiar
well suited to a stranger, who, in a mixed company, with
the connections of which he was little acquainted, could
scarcely venture to speak of local events, lest he should
incur the displeasure of some one or other. With respect
to any opinions he may have advanced, I do believe.
sir, they were not those of which you would disapprove.
When there was a probability of a limited monarchy in
l'rance, he applauded some of their measures, but long,
very long since, has lie viewed with horror and detest:i
tion the excesses perpetrated in that unhappy kingdom.
Ile never admired the democratic form of government,
nor did he need the fatal experience of French events
to convince him of the futility of that splendid theory.
With respect to the iBritish Constitution, lie always did,
and does, revere it as the greatest effort of human
wisdom, and would, if necessary, sacrifice everything to
its preservation. To say that he does not see some
abuses which ill a proper tlini, and ill a prer mannicr,
ought to lbe amended, would be ridiculous. I believe
there is not a Briton but perceives some ravages of time
in the splendid mansion of his fathers, in a summer
season, and by comptittand dutly aucdtwised workmen,
he could wish to see repaired.


1792-93







64 TIOMAS POOLE AND IllS FRIENDS cHAP. IV

I need not, sir, observe to you that frequently, very
frequently, the vanity of argumentation induces men to
advance what they by no means seriously approve, or
wish to be considered as their principles. This idle
conduct is often exercised in the discussion of topicks
which are considered of small importance, which, in fact,
was my brother's idea with respect to his opinion on
politicks; but when he found there were those who,
perhaps, were jealous of that degree of notice with which,
through his friends, and through you, sir, particularly, he
was honoured, who carefully propagated any expressions
which might fall from him in the juvenile heat of
conversation, which they thought would operate to his
disadvantage, he became more cautious, and took the
only means in his power of refuting those calumnies-by
deliberately coming forward among the first to sign the
declaration of attachment to the present Establishment
in Church and State, which was agreed to by the in-
habitants of Sherborne, and patronised by Lord Digby.
'I do not know, sir, what more I can add; but thus
much have I said to exculpate him from the charge
brought against him, and I entreat you, sir, to undeceive
those who informed you of it, as I pledge my honour
that what I have asserted is literally and unequivocally
true. You will excuse some warmth on my part, as I
cannot express how tenderly I feel this circumstance,
which strikes so near his best interest, and which may
operate to the loss of the good opinion of those whom
he loves and honours. I fear, sir, I have tired you with
this topick, and will, though reluctantly, change it .

And then Mr. Tom Poole plunges into parish







QUESTIONS OF TITHE


matters and questions of rent and glebe. He
concludes as follows :-

On receiving notice to set out his tithe in kind --
thought proper to offer ninepence in the pound for his
small tithes; this is the full value of them if he sowed a
due proportion of corn, which I am thoroughly convinced
he must soon do, to gain anything like the real profits of
his farm. On this consideration my father advised Dr.
Fisher' to accept the proposal. You, sir, have fought
the battle, and your successor receives the fruits of it.
At this I am sure you will not be displeased, but it
embitters my mind when I recollect the pain you were
given during the time that you presided over us. That
you may never again experience the like usage I hope
and trust. Believe me to be, with sincere respect
and affection, your obliged humble servant,
TIos. POOLE.'

In connection with the above letter it may be
observed that probably few measures have ever
had a more satisfactory effect in healing heart-
burnings and averting strife than the Act for the
Commutation of Tithes. I have heard my father
say that, before that Act was passed, there was
scarcely a parish in the kingdom in which the
amount of the tithes was not a fruitful occasion
of disputes and unpleasantness; whilst in almost

1 The Rev. John Fisher, D.D., was Dr. Majendie's successor.
Ie had been tutor to the Princess Charlotte, and was afterward
Bishop of Exeter.
VOL. I F


1792-93






66 THOMAS POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS CHIA]. IV

every instance with which he was personally
acquainted, the parson was habitually receiving less
than his legal due.
There will be some, perhaps, who will feel a
little offended at the extreme deference with which
Mr. Tom Poole, in the foregoing letters, writes
to 'a dignitary of the Church,' and still more
scandalised at the obsequious tone of the reference
to 'my Lord Digby.' We must, however, be
careful to remember the difference of manners, and
understand not only that, in every kind of social
intercourse, a degree of form and ceremony was
then observed which, in the present day, has
entirely gone out of use; but also that, when
railways had not as yet brought the whole kingdom
into easy connection with London, local centres
had a far more definitely marked existence, and
the chief personages in every country neighbour-
hood were far more important potentates than they
are now or ever can be again, and were, as a matter
of course, approached, and treated, with a deference
which is now hardly accorded even to the royal
family, and certainly to no one else. Upon the
whole, the change of manners has been in the
right direction, and means not only a general rise
in self-respect, but also a generally higher average
of culture and good-breeding throughout all classes,
-a sort of l/celling up, which cannot be thought of






' MANNERS MAKYTII MAN'


without great satisfaction and thankfulness. Of
course there is no advance without its attendant
drawbacks, and many of us are inclined to think
we are now a little in danger of being carried rather
too far in the opposite direction, and becoming
unmannerly in our unceremoniousness. Perfect
ease and freedom, with perfect self-restraint, is the
natural atmosphere of good manners ; but perfect
free-and-easyness, with as little self-restraint as
possible, is vulgarity in principle, and must, sooner
or later, become vulgarity in practice.
That Mr. Tom Poole's deference to rank and
dignity did not prevent a sturdy pride in his
position, may be seen from the following letter,' in
which he laments the retirement from business of
his friend Mr. Purkis, and bewails the tendency
which he observes in those around him, to put
sons into professions rather than into trade. It
was, perhaps, on account of the declining prospects
of the tanning trade at that particular time, that
the Poole family seem to have generally, though
gradually, withdrawn from it. John Poole had
been elected Fellow of Oriel a few months before
his father's death, and was intending to take
orders ; J. Ruscombe Poole, the next brother, and
my own grandfather, had, also just before his
father's death, been articled to a Mr. Jeffreys, a
1 T. Poole to S. Purkis, undated. Probably December 1793.


1792-93






68 THOMAS POOLE AND IIIS FRIENDS CAPl. iv

solicitor in Bridgwater, where, in course of time, he
became the founder of a very good business, still,
in the third generation, in the hands of his
descendants; another brother, Nathanael, died
young. Tom Poole's other uncles left only female
descendants; his brother Richard, we know, was
a doctor. He himself held faithfully to the old
tanyard, putting a degree of feeling into the
matter utterly perplexing to outsiders, whose
general impression cannot but be that nobody can
imagine what place there is for enthusiasm, in
connection with an avocation so undistinguished
and so unbeautiful:-

'MY DEAR PURKIS-You are then really about to
resign trade. I have written to you sincerely my sentiments
on the subject, and I should not have been satisfied had
I not done so. I bow to your elder judgment, but I
must say a word or two on your sarcastic observations on
what fell from me concerning the dignity of man and
the duties of a member of society. You say, you could
write pretty periods on these holiday theories not fit for
every-day practice. Is a man's placing himself in a
situation by which he could do much good to society, by
supporting a number of its members, a holiday theory un-
fit for every-day practice, and a proper subject for pretty
periods? If a man is conscious of virtues, does not
humanity prompt him to extend the sphere of their influ-
ence as far as possible ? And does he do this by
becoming a hermit ? Were all men equally informed,







A LETTER TO PURKIS


were the desires of all moderate, were there no room to
alleviate the misfortunes and distresses of some, and to
check the vice and disgusting ostentation of others, then
may the man who feels those things, and thinks of them,
indulge the epicurean desire of living only for himself;
but as human nature is constituted, it seems to my mind
an imperious duty for every such man to extend those
principles which he thinks will tend to correct the ex-
tremes of society, and to stand firm to the post at which
Providence has placed him. You may give the epithet,
if you please, of pretty periods to what I now write ; but
these are only a very few of the arguments which may be
advanced on this side of the question, and I think they
are sufficient.
'We will now contemplate the subject in another point
of view In the present state of our community
when a man retires, however contracted be his means, he
is considered a Gentleman. If he has children, the young
mind soon seizes the gilded idea, and they fancy they are
to be fine ladies and genteel gentlemen in their turn;
and, in truth, these fancies only fall in with the depraved
mind of the public, for it is deemed a retrograde motion
of a man in the situation in question, to breed his boys
to trade and his girls to housewifery. What then is such
a man to do to make his children happy, and to keep up
his fancied dignity ? "The professions are open." With
respect to the Bar, it has in this country been a splendid
road to preferment, but I am mistaken if its constitution
will not be much altered, before your children or mine
are able to enjoy its abuses. Physick, generally speaking,
does not offer the means of subsistence; and as to the
lower squad of the Law and the Church, they too often


1792-93







70 THOMAS POOLE AND lIS FRIENDS CHAP. IV

annex disgrace to the characters who fill them. All this
proves that the sons of men of middling property ought
to be tradesmen,1 and their girls tradesmen's wives.
Every individual, therefore, who loves this class of society
will do everything in his power to make it respectable.
'I fear these sounds are harsh gratings to the polished
ear; but they are truth. Trade, properly arranged,
admits much leisure, and exercise gives additional zest
to the gratifications which leisure offers. I would wish
Tradesmen to be the best-informed part of the com-
munity. The idle, debauched, ostentatious great, should
look up to their supporters with respect, and come to
them for information. But I remember that I talk here
of the subject in general sans applying anything to you.
You, my dear Purkis, are about to retire, and you, I
doubt not, will exercise your superior abilities in some
way or other for the good of all. This I expect from
you. '
Tom Poole goes on to hope that his friend will
now write the book about which they have some-
times talked ; after which he adds, inconsist-
ently enough:-
I wish I had that leisure, which, if you carry your
scheme into execution, you will hereafter enjoy.'
I T. Poole always uses this word in the larger sense of a man
engaged in trade, in whatever manner and upon Nwhatever scale.







1793-94 PLAN OF TURNING WORKMAN


CHAPTER V

'So was he framed, and such his course of life.'
WORDSWORTII, The Excursion, Book I.

THAT Tom Poole did actually, at some period of
his life, carry out his purpose of putting on the
dress of a working tanner, and going forth to seek
employment in some large yard near London, has
always been a well-established tradition in the
Poole family ; but it is well-nigh impossible to
determine with certainty the particular time which
was devoted to this adventure. The motives which
had prompted him to undertake it were twofold :
first, no doubt, he desired to extend and complete
his knowledge of the methods employed in the
tanning manufacture. His father's sarcasms had
rankled, and he felt that it would be a satisfaction
to dispose, once and for ever, of the reproach of
being ignorant of the practical details of his own
trade. But, besides this, he was sharing very
deeply in the social enthusiasm of a time when
Southey repeatedly lamented that his father had






72 THOMAS POOLE AND IIIS FRIENDS CIIAP. V

not brought him up to be a carpenter, and
Coleridge was longing to live by the labour of his
hands in the cultivation of the earth. Tom Poole's
experience of business, and his practical turn of
mind, alike preserved him from the delusion of
visionary extremes ; in him the prevailing impulse
took the form of an eager sympathy with the
labourer and the workman, a deep sense of his own
duty towards them, as an educated man and an
employer of labour, and a determination to set
himself to gain a more perfect knowledge of their
condition, in order that he might understand their
wants and wishes, and how best to help them.
His friend Purkis was his chief, perhaps his only,
confidant. IIe must have given, as will be seen
by the following letter,' many useful counsels, but
not unmingled with remonstrances, setting forth
the unusualness of his design, and the discomforts
and inconveniences which would be certain to
attend it.

DEAR PURKIs-I had postponed day after day writing
to you, in hopes of being able to transmit the observa-
tions of my Sherborne friend on tanning; but I find
procrastination is the general sin of mankind, and that
not even a Quaker, whose methodical arrangements and
unimpassioned line of conduct would, I conceived, have
exempted him from this fatal malady, steers entirely free

T. Poole to S. Purkis, June 27, 1793.







DETAILS OF IIIS DESIGN


of that death of time from which most of us have
constantly suffered ..
'I have lately been, and indeed am now, much
engaged in our little Iark harvest,i so that I have not at
this moment time to write you a long letter. ... I will
only tell you that I shall set out on my peregrinations
some time next week, therefore let me hear from you
immediately, that your letter may reach Stowey before I
leave it. My plan must be to offer myself to some one
in the form of a common workman. This undertaking
is, for me, odd, disagreeable, and romantic enough; yet
I am convinced of the necessity of it, and I certainly
shall attempt it. I expect some curious circumstances
will occur, but I shall feel myself very comfortable under
my mask, as I design not only changing my dress for
the usual habit of a tanner, but my name also to Thomas
Adams. When I am fixed at any place, which I shall
first endeavour to be at Wantage, I shall write to you,
and inform you how I support my new character. Do,
in your letter, give me any hints you think will be useful
to me in the progress of my undertaking, and also inform
me of the yards which you know of in the kingdom, out
of London, at all famous for their manufacture ; so that,
in case I should not be admitted in one, I should have
others to apply to.
Your reflections on my emigration perhaps are various.
First, you will smile at that transition which I certainly
must experience; and, in the next place, you will shake
your head at my having neglected acquiring what it was
long since my indispensable duty to acquire. But I
O Oak underwood is, I am told, barked once in every sixteen
years.


1793-94







74 THOMAS POOLE AND IIIS FRIENDS CHAP. v

must tell you if my ideas were only to carry on the trade
in the manner my father has done, I need not incur the
risque of this adventure. My hope is to increase his
trade; and I wish to see every variety of the manu-
facture, that I may appropriate to myself that which I
conceive best. Having now a little leisure, and health
and strength enough, I do not think I shall spend a few
months unprofitably by applying them to this main
object. At the close of my peregrinations, when I have
washed my hands clean, and by due ablutions am fit to
stand before you, I shall call at Brentford, and then I
hope you will find I have not contaminated either mind
or manners, by intercourse with those in the society of
whom I necessarily must be; but that I have only
stooped a little to acquire useful experience, and also to
obtain a greater knowledge of that class of life, of which
it is our duty to know most, inasmuch as that class most
requires our assistance and protection. God Almighty
bless you. With kind compliments to Mrs. Purkis, and
health to you, to her, and your little ones, believe me,
ever yours, THOS. POOLE.'

'MY DEAR FRIEND-Perhaps you will be surprised at
seeing me date from this place,' and you will accuse me
of unkindness in not having written to you before.
You, who, I believe, know the operations of the mind as
well as most, will easily conceive the reluctance I felt in
writing to you again from Stowey, for after a plan had
been laid down to you with so much formality, I could
not find it in my heart to tell you that it was in the
power of any circumstances to frustrate it. This sensation
1 T. Poole to S. Purkis, Stowey, August 13, 1793-







UNAVOIDABLE DELAYS


certainly arises from pride and disappointment; I hope
they are not bad principles excited on such an occasion.
I told you in my last that I should leave Stowey the first
week in July. I had my clothes packed, and everything
ready. Two days before my intended departure my
father was seized with a bad fit of the gout; 'twas
impossible I could leave home. He got tolerably well;
I was again about to start, when he was attacked with a
pleurisy, in so violent a manner that we thought he
would have died. Within this fortnight he has been
tolerably recovered, and I should have been at Wantage
ere this, but fortune seems determined to thwart me in
all my plans, for an aunt of mine, the wife of that little
old man you saw at Stowey, was about ten days ago, on
a visit to a friend in London, taken seriously ill, and is
since dead. My uncle has been in London with her,
but returns to-morrow; 'tis necessary, for prudential
reasons, that I remain at home a week or two to arrange
his affairs, as, his wife being dead, he designs altering
entirely his plan of living.
You now ask me if I have abandoned my plan. No.
I do intend, if fate is willing, to set off on my peregrina-
tions from Bristol Fair. Thank you for the instructions
and hints contained in your last letter. With respect to
my travelling name, I had some reasons for choosing
Adams, and should have taken care of the marks on my
linen ; but as you propose that of Pope, I will accept it,
though at first I revolted at it, for 1 hate the sound.
But on consideration that my plan savours a little of
deceit, I think it characteristic, and shall adopt it.'
1 Notwithstanding much friendly intercourse with French
Roman Catholic priests, Tom Poole cherished, in the abstract, the


1793-94







76 THOMAS POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS CHAP. v

Mention to me in your next letter in what manner a
common fellow comes and asks you for work, and what
you say to him, and how he is received in the yard by
the workmen-whether he has any footing to pay,
etc. etc. The work in the yard I can go through
tolerably well. You will laugh at my caution, but I so
much dread the support of anything like a feigned
character, that I have my fears how I shall go through
with it .

The letter concludes with one of those
sorrowful, indignant references to the state of
Europe, and to the part taken by England in the
disturbed drama of continental politics, which,
occurring as they do in almost every letter he
writes, betoken clearly enough how much Tom
Poole's mind was pre-occupied with this subject,
and how strongly he felt about it. Thus, in
writing to another friend 1 he says, at the end of a
letter of thanks for civilities shown to his sister,
then making a round of visits in London, Isle-
worth, Windsor, etc :-
'With respect to the tanning and bark business, I
imagine it is pretty much at a stand, both public and
private ; indeed, in our public business I scarcely know
what can be done, yet I think something should-if
only to remind Government that though they have
neglected everything in their power to preserve the trade,
strongest possible prejudice against what he would have called
' opery.'
I T. Poole to Mr. Gutteridge, June 7, 1793.






A PAINFUL TOPIC


the tanners are still in being, and have grievances to
complain of. As for our private business, I believe
there never was such an alteration. Do let me know in
your next how your markets are for raw tanned and bark,
and what your opinion is concerning the future stale of the
trade. This is not a pleasant subject to dwell on, and
if I turn to politicks, nothing presents itself that can give
satisfaction to a benevolent mind. If the French
conquer, will licentiousness instead of liberty prevail ?
If the French are conquered, Europe is enslaved. I
had rather run the risque of the former, than bear the
burden of the latter. Yet I trust in God that there is,
and I think there is, a medium; I think that the French
will neither conquer nor be conquered, but that they
will have strength enough within themselves to establish
independently that government which the majority of
the people wills-for woe be to that nation whose
government is dictated by despots Poor, helpless Po-
land justifies this exclamation. There is no word in
our vocabulary sufficiently expressive of my detestation
of the conduct of the tyrants of Russia and Prussia to-
wards that unoffending nation. But these tyrants are
our allies If there be any event in the annals of this
country which should make an Englishman's checks
burn with shame more than another, it is that the govern-
ment under which he lives should continue and cherish
an alliance with those who had thus acted. ..

'I am weary of thinking of European politicss' he says
again;l 'America seems the only asylum of peace and
liberty-the only place where the dearest feelings of man
1 In a letter to Purkis, June 1793.


1793-94






78 THOMAS POOLE AND HIIS FRIENDS CHAP. v

are not insulted; in short, the only spot where a man
the least humane and philosophical can live happily.
The event of the struggle in France is doubtful, and,
should it end victoriously, it cannot end yet. Besides,
the vice, deeply rooted in France, will prevent it ever
being what America is. England is a declining country,
and now too guiltily league with despots to obtain an
object at which a Briton ought to blush. Few of its
inhabitants who feel as their ancestors felt, can have
much affection for it; the mind shrinks with melancholy
detestation from contemplating the conduct of most of
the crowned heads in Europe, particularly that of Russia.
This is a painful topick; let us change it. Since I saw
you I have thought much on the subject, the result you
shall have when we meet. I will only say now that I
consider the Supreme Being indulgent in allowing man
the felicity he enjoys, whilst he, by most of his institu-
tions, has counteracted the decrees of the Almighty, his
own happiness, and the first feelings of nature. You
perhaps will think me gloomy, but I am not so. Yet I
should be happy to hear explained some hints in your
last letter on the subject of religion. I hope and think
there is no material difference in our creeds. Adieu,
my dear Purkis.-Believe me, most truly yours,
''TIIOS. POOLE.
After this exposition of his sentiments we can-
not greatly wonder if we find that the free ex-
pression of Tom Poole's opinions was getting
almost beyond what the Stowey mind, immovably
fixed at the opposite point of view, could endure
without exasperation, even fiom an old neighbour's






COUSINLY CRITICISMIS


son and a cousin of one's own, in whom the diver-
gence could be treated as a simple aberration of the
intellect, his goodness of heart being too well known
to admit of the slightest suspicion that he would
like to introduce a Reign of Terror in England.
Nevertheless we are not surprised to find Charlotte
Poole entering in her journal :
Tom Poole drank tea with us. I wish he would
cease to torment us with his democratic sentiments;
but he is never happy until the subject of politicks is in-
troduced, and, as we all differ so much from him, we
wish to have no conversation about it.'
On the same occasion her brother John con-
fided to hils journal that he had been a little'-
Charlotte and her sisters had perhaps been not a
little-' warm and irritated when Tom, after tea,
' produced some of his republican ideas;' and that
he was sorry for it afterwards, and 'did not
approve of this anger towards a person who, in
his last illness, was perhaps the cause of his life
being preserved.'
As Charlotte observed, Tom usually did talk
' politics whenever he came to Marshmill, and he
usually had all against him.' Not even when he
and John went out woodcock-shooting together
could he altogether refrain, but John notices that
on that November day when Tom came in to fetch
1 January 12, 1794.


1793-94






So TIOMAS POOLE AND IIIS FRIENDS Ci\Pr. v

him to go out with him, and Nathanael, the
delicate younger brother who afterwards died of
consumption, joined them too, and shot his first
woodcock,' Tom talked politics indeed, as usual, but
' was very temperate,' and in the evening sat down
tranquilly to play cards, whilst John read the Life
of Franklin, and admired him as 'a great friend
of mankind in many respects,' and above all, use-
ful in showing in his own life the good effects of
industry and exertion,' though perhaps in some
respects 'not all a wise man would wish to be.'
This was on November 27, 1793. It is there-
fore clear that on that day Tom Poole was cer-
tainly in Somersetshire, so that, if he started on
his 'peregrinations' any time during the summer
or autumn of 1793, he must have returned home
before the end of November. But it will have
been observed that his last letter to Purkis was
dated August 13, and that in it he states his in-
tention of starting from Bristol Fair, which was
always held in September. This would allow
little more than two months for the entire enter-
prise, and it may be well to mention that family
tradition has assigned it to a later date. One
version of the story which has been related to me
as a legend handed down from an older generation,
supposes a dramatic disappearance on the very
day of his father's funeral, in July 1795 ; and,







1793-94 NOT A COMMON WORKMAN Si

in support of this view, it might be observed that
there is not a single entry in his letter-book be-
tween July 24 and September 6, 1795. But the
same thing is to be noticed in 1793. The letter
that follows the letter to Purkis of August 13, is
a letter to Dr. Majcndie, dated December 7, and
in this a sudden return home on account of his
father having been taken ill is mentioned. 'I
was much mortified that I could not spend a day
or two at Windsor,' he says, 'but my father's in-
disposition was such that I was obliged to hasten
home as soon as possible.'
It is clear that, whether in 1793 or in 1795,
Poole cannot have been absent from Stowey for
much more than two months, and I think the
balance of probability is in favour of the year
I793. He must have recounted his experiences
to Purkis in a personal interview, as, indeed, he
had said he would, for there is no further allusion
to the matter in any letter that I have been able
to discover. The tradition runs that the finding
of a Latin Classic, lying on his bench during the
dinner hour, discovered to his employers that
he certainly was not a common workman; and,
further, that when he parted from them, he warned
them against an extensive system of waste and
pillage, by which they were the unsuspecting losers
of some hundreds of pounds every year, and at
VOL. I G







82 THOMAS POOLE AND IIIS FRIENDS CHAi. v

the same time suggested some very simple
method whereby matters might easily be placed
upon a better footing.
Many years later, when his services in connec-
tion with the Parliamentary Inquiry into the
Working of the Poor Laws had brought him into a
good deal of notice, and made him acquainted
with many men of mark and influence, he was
walking one day in the streets of Bath in company
with Lord Lansdowne, when he recognized, in an
old waggoner, driving by with his team, a man
who had been a carter in the yard where he had
worked. He excused himself to Lord Lansdowne,
and walked across the road, holding out his hand
to his old acquaintance. The waggoner stared at
him for a moment, and then at last, seizing the
offered hand, he delightedly burst forth: 'Sure,
'tis never our Tummas Well, I did always think
thee was summat above the common.'
There is another tradition connected with this
episode in Tom Poole's life which cannot altogether
be passed by without notice. The daughters of
that Thomas Ward who was a youth, living with
Tom Poole as his articled apprentice, at the time
when S. T. Coleridge was in Stowey, and who
afterwards became his partner, and was ever his
attached and intimate friend, are still living in the
Stowxey neighbourhood, and, indeed, in that very






A PUZZLING TRADITION


house at Marshmill which has been so often
mentioned as the home of the John Pooles. One
of these Miss Wards declared to me quite posi-
tively, when I saw her about two years ago, that
she could distinctly remember hearing from her
father, not once but often, that the very first time
S. T. Coleridge and Tom Poole came across one
another was in some inn, whether in London or
elsewhere she could not be sure, but she thought
in London, Coleridge in the guise of a private
soldier and Poole in that of a workman, when the
soldier was as much astonished at the workman's
attainments as the workman was amazed at the
conversation of the soldier. 'I cannot have
dreamt all this,' she concluded; I am perfectly
certain that I am telling you the talc as 'twas told
me by my father.'
This sounds like good authority ; and yet, when
we come to compare dates and documents, it
appears to be manifestly impossible that the in-
cident can ever actually have happened. The
time that S. T. Coleridge spent as a private soldier
was from December 3, 1793 to April 1794, and it
seems undeniable that during the whole of that
period Tom Poole was at home at Stovwy. Of
course, if Poole had been working at Wantage
whilst Coleridge was in the barracks at Reading,
they would not have been far apart, and a chance


1793-94






84 THOMAS POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS CIIAr. v

encounter might very easily have come to pass;
and this, I think, is the direction in which we must
look for a solution of the difficulty. Perhaps
Coleridge and Poole may sometimes have amused
themselves with imaginations of what so very
nearly might have been, until conjectures gradually
shaped themselves into a real history, and became
a sort of household word, not easily distinguishable
from actual fact, especially if sometimes deliberately
employed for the mystification of the boy Ward
himself.







1794 FIRST ACQUAINTANCE WITH COLIRIDGE 85


CHAPTER VI

'The privilege of talking and even publishing nonsense, is necessary
in a free state ; but the more sparingly we make use of it the better.'
S. T. CouI.RllI,;, Tlhe Friiled.

TIIE year 1794 was to be a memorable year in
Tom Poole's life, for it is the year of his first ac-
quaintance with S. T. Coleridge. It opened, in
Stowey, with the annual meeting of the Book
Society. The cousins, John and Ruscombe Poole,
Tom Poole himself, and 'the greater number of
the members of the society,' dined together at the
Globe Inn on New Year's Day. 'We had a
pleasant meeting,' writes John Poole, 'and matters
were, in general, conducted very amicably. About
eight the auction began, and I purchased Russell's
View, of tiCe History of Modern Eluro/p and Gillies's
History of Grccc. Ruscombe purchased Robert-
son's Disquisition, etc. We stayed till ten, and
went to supper at Uncle Thomas's.' The ordering
of fresh books seems to have been left in the hands







86 THOMAS 'OOLE AND HIS FRIENDS dCIIA. lI

of Thomas Poole, who asked John to assist him in
the task.
He had drawn out a list which he showed me,' John
writes,1 'but I found in it some books that appeared to
me very improper to be circulated among the members
of our society. I objected particularly to a work of
Volney's, which, from some extracts I had seen in the
Review, I knew to be strongly tinctured with infidelity.
I objected likewise to the introduction of any of those
political pamphlets which may be either the vehicles of
the present tfshionable principles or the occasion of
contention and ill-will among the members. I must
own that T. Poole readily came in to my wishes, and
told me he was not acquainted with Volney's principles
with respect to religion, nor did he, he said, think it
right to circulate books of that description amongst
us..

John Poole was at this time living principally
at home, at his mother's house at Marshmill, and
reading for Holy Orders. From time to time
he paid short visits to Oxford, when he used to
ride to and fro on his own horse, Pud,' over whose
comfort and well-being he is very properly solici-
tous, noting in his diary with special praise the Inn
at Swindon-his first stage on the homeward route
-which was equal to any inn with respect to
comfort, and with respect to stable discipline,
superior to all he ever frequented.' The journey
I Journal, January 4, 1794.








1794 THE 'END OF HIS BEING' 87

took him about three days. Like his cousin Tom,
though very unlike him in most other respects,
John Poole was bent upon a life of usefulness.
To him the 'end of his being,' which a man
should have always before his eyes,' was to follow,
either directly or obliquely, at all times, the
melioration of his nature, the good of others, and
the glory of God.' He had a high ideal of what
a clergyman ought to be, and his whole heart
was set upon realising it in his own career.
The course of study that he had laid down for
himself centred in a thoughtful and painstaking
reading through of the whole Bible, beginning
with the Old Testament in the Septuagint, as
well as in the Authorised Version. Hebrew.
at this time, he did not know, though he learnt
it later. He accompanied this study of the
Scriptures themselves by the careful reading of
a constant succession of books bearing upon the
Scriptures, and of well-written sermons, amongst
which he particularly notes Bishop Wilson's, as
being 'formed on that plan which in my mind
best suits a country congregation.'1 John Poole
must have been at this period of his life a
tall, fair-complexioned young Oxford don, a true
1 I have heard my father say that in after years his Uncle John's
sermons were models of simplicity and clearness. He used to aim
at preaching in Saxon,' and carefully struck out every word of Latin
origin for which it was possible to find an old English equivalent.








88 THOMAS POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS CHAP. VI

reformer at heart,1 but after a sober and tem-
perate fashion, having a constitutional distrust
of everything spasmodic and extreme, and being
in manner somewhat precise and formal, and so
much accustomed to meeting with deference from all
around him, that anything like an obstinate asser-
tion of opposite opinions must have given him a
sort of shock by mere force of unusualness. He
loved field-sports and country pursuits, and even
followed the hounds occasionally, but never after
he took Orders, notwithstanding that he lived in
the age of hunting parsons. But his favourite
relaxation was botany. I, who remember him
only in old age, remember most clearly how fond
he even then was of the study of flowers, how he
knew the exact habitat of every rare plant in the
neighbourhood, and showed me, then a child, the
place where Solomon's Seal was to be found, and
the one spot where the Narcissus might yet be seen
growing wild. In his diary the remarks on the
books he is reading are constantly intermixed with
notices of the blossoming of plants :-
I observed caltha palustris in flower for the first
time this year ..
'. Walked round Ruxford Meadow, where I met
with the pistilliferous flowers of the Dog's Mercury...'
'e.g. He writes February 18, 1794: 'I was glad to find Mr.
Y. was an advocate for the abolition of the slavish duties affix'd to
the office of servitors, Bible-clerks, etc.'






1794 JOHN POOLE A BORN TEACHER 89

It is scarcely possible to turn over three pages
without coming to some entry of this sort, and
whenever he was in Oxford he was a constant
visitor of what was then called the Physic
Garden.'
In disposition he was very unimaginative and
matter of fact, but capable of deep and lasting
enthusiasm for the cause to which he principally
devoted his life-namely, education, and especially
the education of the poor. He was a born teacher,
and delighted in the exercise of his gift ; and when
Tom Poole asked him to read Latin with him he
most readily consented, indeed he had persuaded
his younger brother Ruscombe also-the articled
clerk-to become his pupil, and read Sc/ccta c
vcte-i Tcstamcnto and Caesar's Commecntarics with
him, finding him 'better acquainted with the
language than he expected.' Tom Poole had
already, by solitary study, made himself master of
the elements. What he now desired was to begin
something like a real acquaintance with Latin
literature ; and we find from John Poole's journal
that during the following twelvemonth there were
meetings at least as often as once a week, and the
two cousins read together Horace's Ars Poetica.
his first and second Satirc, and his Odes ; Cicero's
Drcam of Scipio, Dc A.icitia, and Dc Scncctate ;
and Virgil's 'Encid. 'Tom Poole,' wrote his







90 THIOMAS POOLE AND HIS FRIENDS CHAP. VI

cousin Charlotte in April, 794, 'is now, with an
industry and perseverance that does him honour.
acquiring a knowledge of Latin, and has put him-
self under my brother John's tuition, so that we
shall often have the pleasure of seeing him .
For they were, after all, very fond of poor Tom,
notwithstanding his unaccountable opinions, in
relation to which their view, being strongly modi-
fied by natural regard and great personal respect
for their own kinsman, was certainly milder and
more tolerant than that of the neighbourhood
generally, as will be seen by a letter to Mr. Purkis,
dated August 23, 1794, which is also interesting
for the account of Tom Poole's studies with which
it opens :-

MY DEAR PURKIS-I wrote a letter to you some time
ago, which I hope you received, and I must acknowledge
that I expected an answer ere now; not that I had any
right so to do, but I rather built on your former good-
ness in similar circumstances. Besides, I know when
you have leisure you feel as much pleasure in writing as
in reading, which is not at present the case with me;
for in truth I should scarcely take a pen in hand, were
I not stimulated either by necessity in matters of
business, or, when I write to my friends, by the regard
I bear them. You, I can say from experience, do not
want this latter stimulus, but in you it is not counteracted
by any other affection, but rather assisted by the love,
which is so natural, of exercising that faculty in which




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