Letters of Hartley Coleridge

By Hartley Coleridge; Grace Griggs Evelyn et al. | Go to book overview

think a failure, tho' said to be suggested by a real Innocent. But I am sure you will allow that every poetic personage (taking ποίησις in its widest extent ἀπὸ του + ̑ ποιει + ̑ν) should testify its own truth, without reference to an original which few can ever have seen, none can longer see. This it is, that divides true imitative Art from mechanical Imitation. The truest characters, the most vivid landscapes in the world of Art, have probably been evoked by actual flesh and blood, actual land, wood, rock, and water. Wordsworth denies not, but rather glories, that every man, woman, scene, and incident in his poems has had its prototype in reality. He has given, or promised to give, to Miss Fenwick an authentic statement of the facts out of which his imaginations have grown--a precious commentary it will be; tho' not perhaps in all parts fit for publication.1 The characters of Fielding, Sterne, Smollett, Addison--Parson Adams, Uncle Toby, Strap, Sir Roger, and Will Honeycomb--are known to have been sketched from the life. Sir Walter made no secret that all his good characters were recollections more or less idealized (his inventions are either nobodies, like most part of his Maritandi and nubendae, or monsters like Rashleigh Osbaldistone and Varney). Dickens should never draw without a model. It is the same with the Painters with pencil or brush. Hogarth studied incessantly in the streets, in the taverns, in the cock-pit, and all 'the wide darkness of London'. It is ascertained that there is much individual portrait in the historical (a vile word by the way) pictures of Raffaello, Michel, and Titian.

[No conclusion or signature.]


LETTER 95
TO MRS. HENRY NELSON COLERIDGE, No. 10 Chester Place, Regent's Park, London.

Mrs. Claude's, Nov. 16, [Postmark 1847] of course you know the anno Domini.

Dear Sara

After so long a suspension of animation, you will think this a very insufficient proof of restored vitality, but but--the post is fluttering to depart, and till this plague is over I can't write any thing worth reading.

____________________
1
Referring to the Fenwick notes, which were first included in the 1857 edition of his poems.

-296-

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