1822 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Anonymous, in "The Augustan Age in England" The Album 1 (1822) 216-17.



Mr. COLERIDGE is more a metaphysician than a poet, and in neither capacity very pre-eminent. Metaphysics are necessarily difficult of expression, but they need not be totally unintelligible. Locke, Reid, and Stewart do not, like him, leave here and there a lacunae in their chain of reasoning, from a chapter or an essay being withheld as incomprehensible. But it is a false metaphor to talk of the chain of Mr. Coleridge's reasoning — if it be a chain, it is a jack chain, which always revolves into itself — and is inveloped in smoke and obscurity. As a poet, Mr. Coleridge is author of Christabel; and that piece of miserable absurdity would be sufficient to sink any poet into derision and contempt, even if he had Paradise Lost or Childe Harold to oppose to it — a middling tragedy, and a lyrical ballad or two will scarcely do to weigh against it.