(a) From ‘Specimens of the Table Talk of the late Samuel Taylor Coleridge’ (1835), I, pp. 59-60. The entry is dated 12 March 1827.
For an instance of Shakespeare’s power in minimis, I generally quote James Gurney’s character in King John. How individual and comical he is with the four words allowed to his dramatic life! And pray look at Skelton’s ‘Richard [sic] Sparrow’ also!
(b) From ‘The Literary Remains of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’, edited by Henry N. Coleridge (1836), II, p. 163.
Coleridge is commenting on a proposed emendation to Shakespeare’s ‘King John’ (I, i, 232) by the editor of Shakespeare, William Warburton (1698-1779).
Theobald ( 1) adopts Warburton’s conjecture of ‘spare me’.
O true Warburton! and the sancta simpicitas of honest dull Theobald’s faith in him! Nothing can be more lively or characteristic than ‘Philip? Sparrow!’ Had Warburton read old Skelton’s ‘Philip Sparrow’, an exquisite and original poem, and, no doubt popular in Shakespeare’s time, even Warburton would, scarcely have made so deep a plunge into the bathetic as to have deathified ‘sparrow’ into ‘spare me’!