1796 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. Erasmus Darwin

Samuel Taylor Coleridge to Joseph Cottle, January 1796; Cottle, Reminiscences (New York, 1847) 64.



Derby is full of curiosities; the cotton and silk mills; Wright, the painter, and Dr. Darwin, the everything but christian! Dr. Darwin possesses, perhaps, a greater range of knowledge than any other man in Europe, and is the most inventive of philosophical men. He thinks in a new train on all subjects but religion. He bantered me on the subject of religion. I heard all his arguments, and told him, it was infinitely consoling to me — to find that the arguments of so great a man, adduced against the existence of a God and the evidence of revealed religion, were such as had startled me at fifteen, but had become the objects of my smile at twenty. Not one new objection; not even an ingenious one! He boasted "that he had never read one book in favor of such stuff! but that he had read all the works of infidels."