Inquiring Spirit: A New Presentation of Coleridge from His Published and Unpublished Prose Writings

Inquiring Spirit: A New Presentation of Coleridge from His Published and Unpublished Prose Writings

Inquiring Spirit: A New Presentation of Coleridge from His Published and Unpublished Prose Writings

Inquiring Spirit: A New Presentation of Coleridge from His Published and Unpublished Prose Writings

Excerpt

Coleridge has too long been the special property of 'the literati by profession', a class about which he always had some doubts. In his day he enjoyed the company of chemists and physicists, medical men, politicians of every stripe, farmers, tanners, lawyers, painters and musicians, publishers, newspaper editors and journalists, civil, servants, clerks, housewives, innkeepers, teachers and children, parsons and professors, as well as poets and novelists and an assortment of the literati. There is no lack of testimony that these people enjoyed him and found their interests reciprocated by him. He ought to belong to them all again.

Contrary to a very general impression, Coleridge was not just the inspired talker, a financial burden and practical problem to friends who supported the man Coleridge for the sake of the poet. It is perfectly clear to any reader of the letters that he entered into the lives and concerns of his acquaintances with a zestful mind interested in all manner of things and able to forget itself in its own energy. For example, take his relation to Thomas Poole and Humphry Davy. When he talked to Poole, a tanner and agriculturalist, he asked him about the processes of tanning and the economics of agriculture. He stored up for him in his notebooks hints on how to plant trees and the sorts and uses of fertilizers. When Poole had a chemistry problem in his tanyard, it was Coleridge who asked questions of Davy, the solutions of which helped to further Davy's career. He also went to the Pneumatic Institution in Bristol . . .

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