William Maginn

Samuel Taylor Coleridge to William Blackwood, 30 June 1819; Margaret Oliphant, William Blackwood and his Sons (1897) 1:412-13.

June 30, 1819.

I am just returned from a coaching tour in the aguish parts of Essex, and find your letters and a note from Mr. Davies, in consequence of which I dine with him on Friday. At present I can only express my thanks for the Editor's letter, and entreat you to assure him that I find it most candid and satisfactory, the proposal of the two sheets "probationary" equally fair and judicious. Of course I can feel no objection to a compliance with it. A very slight personal acquaintance with me would have enable the Editor to take for granted that I should not be offended with the droll Christabelliad. None of Mr. O'Doherty's readers will peruse it with less pain, few with greater pleasure. I should indeed be wanting both to myself and to common-sense, if I did not regard it as a compliment, and that of no ordinary kind, for, not to mention the names with which my own stands in juxtaposition, it would be strange if a man of O'Doherty's undoubted genius should have employed so much wit, humour, and general power of mind on a work wholly without worth or character. Let only no poison of personal moral calumny be inserted, and a good laugh is a good thing; and I should be very sorry, by making a wry face, to transfer it from my Lady Christabel to myself. From an able vindication of pernicious principles, I should receive severe pain, did I persuade myself that your Magazine is open to every fair, liberal, and manly answer. Anything is better than suppression or confuting a man's work by trying to ruin his fortunes. Besides, it is but too true that the ordinary and popular arguments in support of our Faith, both moral and theological, have more show than stuff. I never take up a work entitled Evidences or the like, but I feel half a mind to writer a book to be called Religion defended against its defenders. I can only say for myself, Let but the poison be stuff of the mind, not the impudence of Ignorance nor incentives of Passion, and I dare rely on the Antidote, and shall never consider a bold permission of the liberty of the Press an objection to any work which admits of both sides, when both are guarded by talent and decency, and neither if without them.