1808 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Edward Jerningham to Lady Bedingfield, 1808; The Jerningham Letters (1896) 1:315-17.



I attended at the Royal Institution the Lectures of Colleridge upon Shakespear and Milton: I need not observe to you that He is Southey's Friend — My opinion as to the Lecturer is that He possesses a great reach of mind; That He is a wild Enthusiast respecting the objects of his Elogium; That He is sometimes very eloquent, sometimes paradoxical, sometimes absurd. His voice has something in it particularly plaintive and interesting. His person is short, Thick, his countenance not inspirited with any Animation. He spoke without any Assistance from a manuscript, and Therefore said several Things suddenly, struck off from the Anvil, some of which were entitled to high Applause and others Incurred mental disapprobation. He too often Interwove Himself into the Texture of his Lecture. I formed an Acquaintance with Him: that is, I generally spoke to Him at the End of the Lecture — with which He appeared much pleased. He was in some respect, I told Him one day, like Abelard: His Lectures were attended by Ladies of the first fashion, by Judges, and Bishops; and I could have added since another Resemblance to Abelard, by the Disgrace his course of Lectures concluded with.... He appeared among us again in about three weeks after — He looked sullen and told us that He previously had prepared and written down Quotations from different Authors to illustrate the present Lecture. These Quotations he had put among the Leaves of his Pocket Book which was stol'n as He was coming to the Institution. This narrative was not indulgently received, and He went thro' his Lecture heavily and without advancing any Thing that was spirited and animated — The next Day He received an Intimation from the Managers that his Lectures were no longer Expected—