1830 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Richard Warner, in Literary Recollections of the Rev. Richard Warner (1830) 2:155-56n.



I must not forget to mention a remarkable instance of the tenaciousness of Mr. Coleridge's memory, which occurred to my observation, during the time we were together in Cumberland [in 1801]. I mentioned the pleasure I had received from his poems. He spoke of them, not merely modestly, but, as I considered, disparagingly. I ventured to differ from him widely: and quoted some passages of high merit. Among others, I repeated the opening of his "Ode to the Departing Year;" and remarked on the felicitous use of the epithet, "beautiful," in that well-known line: — "And stood up, beautiful, before the cloudy seat." He demurr'd as to the merit of the line, but said, he had introduced the same epithet more happily into another poem. I demanded "which?" "It was not printed, nor a word of it committed to paper." — "Could he repeat the line?" He recited a stanza. — "Did he recollect more of it?" He repeated a long poem: about a year after this, Mr. Coleridge dined with me at my house near Bath. In the evening I reminded him of the pleasure which he had afforded to myself and friend, by the repetition of a poem among the mountains of Cumberland. "Had he printed it?" — "No." — "Would he give me a copy of it?" — "It was not written down." — "Could he oblige the ladies by reciting it?" This he very readily and obligingly did. It met with great applause; and, in about two years, appeared in print, under the title, I believe, of "Christabel."