1811 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Godwin

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 30 March 1811; Henry Crabb Robinson, Diary, Reminiscences, and Correspondence (1870; 1872) 1:169.



At C. Lamb's. Found Coleridge and Hazlitt there, and had a half-hour's chat. Coleridge spoke feelingly of Godwin and the unjust treatment he had met with. In apology for Southey's review of Godwin's Life of Chaucer, Coleridge ingeniously observed that persons who are themselves very pure, are sometimes on that account "blunt" in their moral feelings. This I believe to be a very true remark indeed....

Coleridge spoke with severity of those who were once the extravagant admirers of Godwin, and afterwards became his most bitter opponents. I noticed the infinite superiority of Godwin over the French writers in moral feeling and tendency. I had learned to hate Helvetius and Mirabeau, and yet retained my love for Godwin. This was agreed to as a just sentiment. Coleridge said there was more in Godwin, after all, than he was once willing to admit, though not so much as his enthusiastic admirers fancied. He had openly opposed him, but nevertheless visited him. Southey's severity he attributed to his habit of reviewing. Southey had said of Coleridge's poetry that he was a Dutch imitator of the Germans. Coleridge quoted this, not to express any displeasure at it, but to show in what way Southey could speak of him.