May 29, 1812: Coleridge's Fourth Lecture

On May 29,1812, Coleridge gives his fourth lecture on the nature of comedy. Henry Crabb Robinson again notes that the "mode of treating the subject very German." He adds sadly  that the audience was "thin" and those present found the lecture "too abstract".  Later, he joins Wordsworth and Coleridge at the Morgans where they engage in a discussion of poetry. Henry Crabb Robinson's diary entry for May 29 reads: 
May 29th. — Coleridge's fourth lecture. It was on the nature of comedy — about Aristophanes, &c. The mode of treating the subject very German, and of course much too abstract for his audience, which was thin. Scarcely any ladies there. With such powers of original thought and real genius, both philosophical and poetical, as few men in any age have possessed, Coleridge wants certain minor qualities, which would greatly add to his efficiency and influence with the public. Spent the evening at Morgan's. Both Coleridge and Wordsworth there. Coleridge very metaphysical. He adheres to Kant, notwithstanding all Schelling has written, and maintains that from the latter he has gained no new ideas. All Schelling has said, Coleridge has either thought himself, or found in Jacob Boehme.* Wordsworth talked very finely on poetry. He praised Burns for his introduction to "Tarn O'Shanter." Burns had given an apology for drunkenness, by bringing together all the circumstances which can serve to render excusable what is in itself disgusting; thus interesting our feelings, and making us tolerant of what would otherwise be not endurable.

Wordsworth praised also the conclusion of "Death and Dr. Hornbook." He compared this with the abrupt prevention of the expected battle between Satan and the archangel in " Paradise Lost; "but the remark did not bring its own evidence with it. I took occasion to apply to Goethe the praise given to Burns for the passage-f- quoted, and this led to my warm praise of the German. Coleridge denied merit to " Torquato Tasso,"and talked of the impossibility of being a good poet without being a good man, adducing at the same time the immoral tendency of Goethe's works. To this I demurred.

*The German Visionary and Theosophist (1575 — 1624) .+ The passage from Bums's "Vision" which H. C. R. afterwards quoted toGoethe as resembling the Zueignung (dedication) to his own works. "Each poet confesses his infirmities — each is consoled by the muse; the holly-leaf of the Scotch poet being the ' veil of dew and sunbeams ' of the German."

No comments:

Post a Comment