Famous Reviews eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 678 pages of information about Famous Reviews.
in which he makes that great man talk in a very silly, weak, and ignorant manner.  Mr. Coleridge not only sets him right in all his opinions on English literature, but also is kind enough to correct, in a very authoritative and dictatorial tone, his erroneous views of the characteristic merits and defects of the most celebrated German Writers.  He has indeed the ball in his own hands throughout the whole game; and Klopstock, who, he says, “was seventy-four years old, with legs enormously swollen,” is beaten to a standstill.  We are likewise presented with an account of a conversation which his friend W. held with the German Poet, in which the author of the Messiah makes a still more paltry figure.  We can conceive nothing more odious and brutal, than two young ignorant lads from Cambridge forcing themselves upon the retirement of this illustrious old man, and, instead of listening with love, admiration and reverence, to his sentiments and opinions, insolently obtruding upon him their own crude and mistaken fancies,—­contradicting imperiously every thing he advances,—­taking leave of him with a consciousness of their own superiority,—­and, finally, talking of him and his genius in terms of indifference bordering on contempt.  This Mr. W. had the folly and the insolence to say to Klopstock, who was enthusiastically praising the Oberon of Wieland, that he never could see the smallest beauty in any part of that Poem.

We must now conclude our account of this “unaccountable” production.  It has not been in our power to enter into any discussion with Mr. Coleridge on the various subjects of Poetry and Philosophy, which he has, we think, vainly endeavoured to elucidate.  But we shall, on a future occasion, meet him on his own favourite ground.  No less than 182 pages of the second volume are dedicated to the poetry of Mr. Wordsworth.  He has endeavoured to define poetry—­to explain the philosophy of metre—­to settle the boundaries of poetic diction—­and to show, finally, “What it is probable Mr. Wordsworth meant to say in his dissertation prefixed to his Lyrical Ballads.”  As Mr. Coleridge has not only studied the laws of poetical composition, but is a Poet of considerable powers, there are, in this part of his Book, many acute, ingenious, and even sensible observations and remarks; but he never knows when to have done,—­explains what requires no explanation,—­often leaves untouched the very difficulty he starts,—­and when he has poured before us a glimpse of light upon the shapeless form of some dark conception, he seems to take a wilful pleasure in its immediate extinction, and leads “us floundering on, and quite astray,” through the deepening shadows of interminable night.

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