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The thought of Coleridge has to be pursued across stones, ditches, and morasses; with haste, lingering, and disappointment; it turns back, loses itself, fetches wide circuits, and comes to no visible end. But you must follow it step by step; and, if you are ceaselessly attentive, will be ceaselessly rewarded.
When Coleridge says, in this book, that "the ultimate end of criticism is much more to establish the principle of writing than to furnish rules how to pass judgment on what has been written by others," he is defining that form of criticism in which he is supreme among critics. Lamb can be more instant in the detection of beauty; Pater can make over again an image or likeness of that beauty which he defines, with more sensitive precision; but no one has ever gone deeper down into the substance of creation itself, or more nearly reached that unknown point where creation begins. As poet, he knows; as philosopher, he understands; and thus, as critic, he can explain almost the origin of creation. ARTHUR SYMONS
The Biographia Literaria grew out of a projected preface to what Coleridge meant to call an Autobiographia Literaria: Sketches of my Literary Life and Opinions.” From being the preface, it gradually became the work itself, and that, from being the first volume of an edition of Coleridge's poems, became a separate work in two volumes. It was begun at Calne in the summer of 1815, and finished at Highgate in the following year. In 1817, when the first volume and a part of the second had already been printed, the sheets were transferred from one publisher to another, and the second volume swelled out to the size of the first by extending the criticism of Wordsworth, adding Satyrane's Letters" and the concluding chapter of autobiography, and also the slashing review of Maturin's Bertram, a foolish melodrama which had been played at Drury Lane instead of Coleridge's Zapolya.
LIST OF WORKS
Greek Prize Ode on the Slave Trade, Cambridge, 1792. Monody on the Death of Chatterton (first draft), 1794. The Fall of Robespierre: An Historic Drama (Coleridge and Southey), 1794. Contributions o The Cambridge Intelligencer and The Morning Chronicle, 1794795. The Watchman, 1796. Poems on Various Subjects, 1796. The Vision of the Maid of Orleans (Southey's Joan of Arc), republished
as The Destiny of Nations, 1796. Ode on the Departing Year, 1796. Contributions to The Monthly Magazine, 1796-1797. Fears in Solitude; France, an Ode; Frost at Midnight, 1798. Lyrical Ballads, 1798 (containing "The Ancient Mariner" and other poems). Contributions to The Morning Post, 1798-1802. Poems in Annual Anthology, 1799-1800. Wallenstein (from the German of Schiller), 1800. Contributions in Prose and Verse to The Courier, 1807-1811. The Friend, I June, 1809, to 15 March, 1810. Contributions to Southey's Omniana, 1812. Remorse, 1813 (remodelled from Osorio, written in 1797; pub. 1873). Essays on the Fine Arts (Felix Farley's Bristol Journal, 1814). Christabel; Kubla Khan; Pains of Sleep, 1816 (first and second parts of Christabel written 1797 and 1800). The Statesman's Manual; or, The Bible the Best Guide to Political Skill and Foresight, 1816. Sibylline Leaves, 1817. Zapolya: A Christmas Tale, 1817. Biographia Literaria, 1817. On Method (Essay forming the General Introduction to Encyclopædia Metropolitana, 1817-1818). Contributions to Blackwood's Magazine, 1819-1822. Aids to Reflection, 1825. On the Constitution of the Church and State, 1830.
A Moral and Political Lecture, 1795. Conciones ad Populam; or, Addresses to the People, 1795. The Plot Discovered: An Address to the People, 1795.
First Collected Edition of Poems and Dramas, 1828.
Specimens of his Table Talk (Edited by H. N. Coleridge), 1835. Letters, Conversations, and Recollections of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Edited by T. Allsop), 1836, 58, 64. Literary Remains (Edited by H. N. Coleridge), 1836-1839. Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit (Edited by H. N. Coleridge), 1840. Hints towards the Formation of a more Comprehensive Theory of Life (Edited by S. B. Watson), 1848. Notes and Lectures upon Shakespeare and some of the Old Dramatists (Edited by Sara Coleridge), 1849. Essays on his own Times (Edited by S. Coleridge), 3 vols., 1850. Notes upon English Divines (Edited by Derwent Coleridge), 1853. Notes: Theological, Political, and Miscellaneous (Edited by D. Coleridge), 1853. Lectures on Shakespeare, from Notes by J. P. Collier, 1856. Poetical and Dramatic Works, founded on the Author's latest edition of 1834 (Edited by R. H. Shepherd). 4 vols. London and Boston, 1877-1881. Complete Works (Edited by Professor Shedd), 1884. Miscellanies: Esthetic and Literary (Edited by T. Ashe), 1885. The Poetical Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Edited by James Dyke Campbell), 1893. Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1785-1834 (Edited by E. H. Coleridge), 2 vols., 1895.