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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 11.djvu/279

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general. It could only have been through current gossip that Hazlitt heard the news as at the time he was not on speaking term: with Coleridge and his "set."

Next, MR. HUTCHINSON brings forward the allegation that Coleridge's verse is said in the article to be destitute of meaning, anc that Hazlitt's criticism in his ' Politica Essays ' laid stress on this point. But many people shared this opinion with Hazlitt Even Lamb, in his well-known letter to Wordsworth of 26 April, 1816, speaks ol 'KublaKhan' as "an owl that won't bear daylight," and adds : " I fear lest it should be discovered by the lantern of typography and clear reductirig to letters no better than nonsense or no sense." This reason can hardly be taken seriously, any more than that numbered 4, relative to the lines be- ginning " Alas ! they had been friends in youth," &c. Commendation of this passage has always been a commonplace of criticism. The argument derived from the equivocal position of Geraldine in the poem is applic- able to others besides Hazlitt. It is regret- table that the poet did not take steps to elucidate the many inexplicable passages of the poem. The explanation given by Gill- man, pp. 301-3, is entirely unsatisfying.

What MR. HUTCHINSON calls the strongest evidence of Hazlitt's authorship has certainly some weight. But as Hazlitt told the story of the poem in the window so frequently in his books, he probably repeated it as often to his friends.* And it may be assumed that others besides Hazlitt discussed Coleridge's pecuniary position in relation to his change of politics.

I feel that while Hazlitt loathed what he looked on as apostasy in the case of Coleridge, he had too high a sense of truth to charge him with a prostitution of his intellectual powers. And it is this sense of truth in Hazlitt which leads me to regard Gillman's story of the authorship as a hallucination, which probably obtained credence only by frequent repetition :

" The Fragment (' Christabel') had not long been published before he (Coleridge) was informed, that

  • The window -seat was the usual place for

books in old-fashioned houses. " He [Sir Roger de Coverley] had drawn many Observations together out of his reading in Bakers Chronicle, and other Authors, who always lie in his Hall- Window " (Spectator, No. 269). "Coming into an inn at night Trl 1 "/ ordered y. ur supper what can be more delightful than to find lying in the window-seat, left there time out of mind by the carelessness of some former guest, two or three numbers of the old lown and Country Magazine, with its amusing tete-a-tete pictures?" (Lamb, 'Detached Thoughts on Books and Reading.')

an individual had been selected (who was in truth a great admirer of his writings ; and whose very life had been saved through the exertions of Coleridge and Mr. Southey) to cut up ' Christabel' in the Edinburgh Review. The subject being afterwards mentioned in conversation, the reviewer confessed that he was the writer of the article, but observed, that as he wrote for the Edinburgh Review, he was compelled to write in accordance with the character and tone of that periodical. This confession took place after he had been extolling the ' Christabel ' as the finest poem of its kind in the language, and ridiculing the public for their want of taste and discrimination in not admiring it." Gillman's ' Life of Coleridge,' pp. 276, 277.

One would like to know more of this con- fession. It is difficult to picture Hazlitt in the act of making it, nor was he the kind of man to subordinate his opinions to the require- ments of any periodical.

MR. HUTCHINSON assumes that the review of ' Christabel ' in the Examiner for 2 July, 1816,* was also written by Hazlitt. Mr. Hall Caine, in his 'Recollections of Dante Gabriel Rossetti,' p. 157, inclines to the belief that Hunt, the editor, was responsible for this article. Hunt could be just as " nasty " as Hazlitt when he liked as, indeed, could Coleridge himself, for that matter. No 'iterary menu in those days was complete without a dish of curry.

The last paragraph of MR. HUTCHINSON'S note raises the question, How far is it admis- sible for an editor to tamper with the lan- guage of his author? May an orthodox editor of Gibbon strike out any passage which is not quite in line with his own ideas of Christianity ? Is Bowdler the type of the ' compleat editor " 1 I certainly should not myself characterize the early poems of Coleridge or anyone else as "juvenile bal- derdash." To do so would offend my sense of taste. But that was MR. SHEPHERD'S affair, not mine. One passage in his bibliography, vhich conveyed what I considered an offen- ive imputation against Mr. Dykes Campbell, -hen lately dead, I did venture to tone down 8 th S. vii. 483). But Coleridge is one of the mmortals, and no earthly shafts can harm iim. When he published his volume of .797, he had not come into his heritage. Of the poems cited by MR. HUTCHINSON, the Lines composed at Clevedon ' and ' On jeaving a Place of Residence ' are " sweet " )oems, as Charles Lamb said, with their took prettinesses about jasmine and myrtle, ind their invocations to one for whom the >oet never really cared, but they might have

  • I am not sure if this is the exact date. Mr.

)ykes Campbell, in his edition of the ' Poetical Works' of S. T. C., gives it as 2 June (p. 606, ol. 2). MB. HUTCHINSON is probably right.