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This article is taken from PN Review 5, Volume 5 Number 1, October - December 1978.

Coleridge Revisited C.H. Sisson

WHEN I read Coleridge's book again, after a gap of years, I was disappointed. This was a book, as I remembered it, which tied up the nineteenth century, and so ourselves who live in a century made by the nineteenth, to the great English world of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the period in which England defined herself before succumbing, finally, to the poisons, first, of the Scottish intrusion; secondly of the forces of capital which blew up the homely manor houses of an earlier period into Palladian show-pieces which did not grow out of the ground; and thirdly of what passed for a new form of English empiricism but was constructed on a scaffolding of ideas and ideology from the encyclopédistes and the world of Roman law. My own sympathies went straight back to the older time, not so much leaping over the intervening period as tunnelling under it, partly because my roots went back to the small but durable bourgeoisie of `parrocks and turbary rights' and immemorial generations of farmers-families which had never been hoisted to the meretricious grandeur of nineteenth century public schools, or money in excess of what was required to carry on, nor had entered the new world of proletarization created by the industrial revolution. Of course those sociological considerations did not much enter my head when it was first full of that Caroline definition of church and state, which in turn goes back to Hooker and what he goes back to. There was ...


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