Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Lamb, etc.: Being Selections from the Remains of Henry Crabb Robinson

Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Lamb, etc.: Being Selections from the Remains of Henry Crabb Robinson

Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Lamb, etc.: Being Selections from the Remains of Henry Crabb Robinson

Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Lamb, etc.: Being Selections from the Remains of Henry Crabb Robinson

Excerpt

In the frescoes in the hall at Dr. Williams's Library, Gordon Square, London--the original dining-room of University Hall --Crabb Robinson sits by himself, pen in hand, apparently recalling the many friendships of an exceptionally long life. On the surrounding panels, arranged in four separate groups, are some of the most distinguished of his acquaintances and intimates, English and foreign: among the four-and-thirty thus selected, to name a few of them, are Wordsworth, Coleridge, the Lambs, Blake, Hazlitt, and Landor; Goethe, Schiller, Wieland, Arndt, Tieck, and Schlegel; Madame de Staël, Irving, Dr. Arnold, and Robertson. These figures are representative, but they do not in any sense exhaust the tale of his literary friends, still less of his literary experiences. The earliest reference to poetry in his Reminiscences is to the publication of John Gilpin (1782), for learning which by heart he was given sixpence. The last entry in his Diary, five days before his death in 1867, concerns Matthew Arnold's essay on the Function of Criticism. Between those dates it is no exaggeration to say that Crabb Robinson read every important work that appeared in English or in German, and that he knew, and often was friendly with, most of their writers.

As a boy he was thrilled by the news that the Bastille had fallen, and his Jacobinism was tempered only by his encounters with French refugees. He sympathized with Horne Tooke, with Hardy and with Thelwall, and was at first an ardent admirer of Godwin, with whom he long remained on friendly terms, though he came to disapprove of both his philosophy and his morals. He lived to be what he called himself in 1832, a "conservative reformer or reforming conservative," while in his old age he read the writings of Gladstone and President Lincoln's inaugural speech.

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