A History of English Romanticism in the Nineteenth Century eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 451 pages of information about A History of English Romanticism in the Nineteenth Century.
like shadows at the advance of morn.” ("Demonology.” p. 183).  “Tales of ghosts and demonology are out of date at forty years of age and upward. . . .  If I were to write on the subject at all, it should have been during a period of life when I could have treated it with more interesting vivacity. . . .  Even the present fashion of the world seems to be ill-suited for studies of this fantastic nature:  and the most ordinary mechanic has learning sufficient to laugh at the figments which in former times were believed by persons far advanced in the deepest knowledge of the age.” (Ibid., p. 398).

[50] See vol. i., pp. 249 and 420.

[51] “Postscript” to “Appreciations.”

[52] For the rarity of the real romantic note in mediaeval writers see vol. i., pp. 26-28, and Appendix B to the present chapter.

[53] See “Studies in Mediaeval Life and Literature,” by Edward T. McLaughlin, p. 34.

CHAPTER II.

Coleridge, Bowles, and the Pope Controversy.

While Scott was busy collecting the fragments of Border minstrelsy and translating German ballads,[1] two other young poets, far to the south, were preparing their share in the literary revolution.  In those same years (1795-98) Wordsworth and Coleridge were wandering together over the Somerset downs and along the coast of Devon, catching glimpses of the sea towards Bristol or Linton, and now and then of the skeleton masts and gossamer sails of a ship against the declining sun, like those of the phantom bark in “The Ancient Mariner.”  The first fruits of these walks and talks was that epoch-making book, the “Lyrical Ballads”; the first edition of which was published in 1798, and the second, with an additional volume and the famous preface by Wordsworth, in 1800.  The genesis of the work and the allotment of its parts were described by Coleridge himself in the “Biographia Literaria” (1817), Chapter XIV.

“During the first year that Mr. Wordsworth and I were neighbours our conversations turned frequently on the two cardinal points of poetry, the power of exciting the sympathy of the reader by a faithful adherence to the truth of nature, and the power of giving the interest of novelty by the modifying colours of imagination. . . .  The thought suggested itself that a series of poems might be composed of two sorts.  In the one, the incidents and agents were to be, in part at least, supernatural; . . . for the second class, subjects were to be chosen from ordinary life. . . .  It was agreed that my endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic. . . .  With this view I wrote ‘The Ancient Mariner,’ and was preparing, among other poems, ‘The Dark Ladie’ and the ‘Christabel,’ in which I should have more nearly realized my ideal than I had done in my first attempt.”

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