Letter/Extract 10

DW to CW: Goslar, Feb 3rd, 1799.

[Cold of the winter; problems with travelling; difficulties in learning the language without money]

For more than two months past we have intended quitting Goslar in the course of each week, but we have been so frightened by the cold season, the dreadful roads, and the uncovered carts; that we needed no other motives (adding these considerations to our natural aversion to moving from a place where we live in comfort and quietness) to induce us to linger here. We have had a succession of excessively severe weather, once or twice interrupted with a cold thaw; and the cold of Christmas day has not been equalled even in this climate during the last century. It was so excessive that when we left the room where we sit we were obliged to wrap ourselves up in great coats &c in order not to suffer much pain from the transition, though we only went into the next room or down stairs for a few minutes. No wonder then that we were afraid of travelling all night in an open cart! I do not believe that we should yet venture to move if we had not hit upon another plan, namely that of walking the first 30 or 35 miles of our journey, by which means we shall save the distance of 20 miles, a circuit which the diligence makes, and shall also travel through a much pleasanter country. Nordhausen a city in Upper Saxony is the place to which our foottravels tend. We shall there meet with covered Diligences to all the considerable towns of Saxony. We have gone on advancing in the language, the main object of our journey, in tolerably regular progress, but if we had had the advantage of good society we should have done much more, this, however is a benefit which we have now given up all expectation of attaining, as we find that when a man and woman are received into society, they are expected, being considered as a sort of family, to give entertainments in return for what they receive. . . . We have then bounded our desires to seeing a little more of the country and getting into a family pretty much resembling this, in which we now are with whom, as now, we may talk upon common subjects. (EY, 244).

Goslar is not a place where it is possible to see any thing of the manners of the more cultivated Germans, or of the higher classes. Its inhabitants are all petty tradespeople; in general a low and selfish race; intent upon gain, and perpetually of course disappointed. They cannot find in their hearts to ask of a stranger a fair price for their goods. The woman of this house, who is a civil and good kind of respectable woman in her way could not refrain from cheating us of halfpence and farthings when we first came. Coleridge is in a very different world from what we stir in, he is all in high life, among Barons counts and countesses. He could not be better placed than he is at Ratzeberg for attaining the object of his journey; but his expences are much more than ours conjointly. . . . It would have been impossible for us to have lived as he does; we should have been ruined. William has been mixing with his German employments a good deal of english poetical composition. We have lived very happily and comfortably, but not sufficiently differently from our English way of life. (EY, 245).