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THE present publication is for the most part a re-print of volumes i. and ii. of the Literary Remains, first published by my late husband in 1836. It consists in great measure of notes on poetry and dramatic literature, either written by my father's own hand, or taken down by others from his lectures. Of matter relating to the drama, and to poetry, however, there was not quite enough to fill a second volume ; I have therefore added to the remarks on Shakspeare and contemporary dramatists, Dante, Milton, and other poets, some miscellaneous pieces, which, as being critical or on literary subjects, agree generally with the main contents of the volumes. Some of the lectures themselves, though purporting to be on the drama, appear miscellaneous. An old reviewer of the Literary Remains inquired how Asiatic and Greek Mythology, the Kabeiri, and the Samothracian Mysteries came to be treated of in the same discourse with Robinson Crusoe ? -a question which would not have been asked by one who had been acquainted with the author's excursive habits of thought and of speech. His practice in this respect has been several times explained and, in some respects, vindicated by intelligent disciples, who had perceived the subtle logic of his "exhaustive and cyclical mode of discoursing."
The “ Selections from Mr. Coleridge's Literary Correspondence," with the “ Historie and Gestes of Maxilian," are republished by permission of the Messrs. Blackwood, to whose Magazine they were contributed on their first appearance. Notes of the late Editor are signed Ed., those of the present S. C. The Preface of the original Editor of the Literary Remains is re-printed, with the exception of a passage not applicable to the present publication.
MR. COLERIDGE by his will, dated in September, 1829, authorized his executor, if he should think it expedient, to publish any of the notes or writing made by him (Mr. C.) in his books, or any other of his manuscripts or writings, or any letters which should thereafter be collected from, or supplied by, his friends or correspondents. Agreeably to this authority, an arrangement was made, under the superintendence of Mr. Green, for the collection of Coleridge's literary remains; and at the same time the preparation for the press of such part of the materials as should consist of criticism and general literature, was intrusted to the care of the present Editor. The volume now offered to the public is the first result of that arrangement. It must in any case stand in need of much indulgence from the ingenuous reader ;multa sunt condonanda in opere postumo; but a short statement of the difficulties attending the compilation may serve to explain some apparent anomalies, and to preclude some unnecessary censure.
The materials were fragmentary in the extreme-Sibylline leaves ;—notes of the lecturer, memoranda of the investigator, outpourings of the solitary and self-communing student. The fear of the press was not in them. Numerous as they were too, they came to light, or were communicated, at different times, before and after the printing was commenced; and the dates, the occasions, and the references, in most instances remained to be discovered or conjectured. To give to such materials method and continuity, as far as might be to set them forth in the least disadvantageous manner which the circumstances would permitwas a delicate and perplexing task ; and the Editor is painfully sensible that he could bring few qualifications for the undertake: ing, but such as were involved in a many years' intercourse with the author himself, a patient study of his writings, a reverential admiration of his genius, and an affectionate desire to help in extending its beneficial influence.
The contents of this volume are drawn from a portion only of the manuscripts intrusted to the Editor : the remainder of the collection, which, under favorable circumstances, he hopes may hereafter see the light, is at least of equal value with what is now presented to the reader as a sample. In perusing the following pages, the reader will, in a few instances, meet with disquisitions of a transcendental character, which, as a general rule, have been avoided : the truth is, that they were sometimes found so indissolubly intertwined with the more popular matter which preceded and followed, as to make separation impracticable. There are very many to whom no apology will be necessary in this respect; and the Editor only adverts to it for the purpose of obviating, as far as may be, the possible complaint of the more general reader. But there is another point to which, taught by past experience, he attaches more importance, and as to which, therefore, he ventures to put in a more express and particular caution. In many of the books and papers, which have been used in the compilation of these volumes, passages from other writers, noted down by Mr. Coleridge as in some way remarkable, were mixed up with his own comments on such passages, or with his reflections on other subjects, in a manner very embarrassing to the eye of a third person undertaking to select the original matter, after the lapse of several years. The Editor need not say that he has not knowingly admitted any thing that was not genuine. It is possible that some cases of mistake in this respect may have occurred. There may be one or two passages--they can not well be more-printed in this volume which belong to other writers ; and if such there be, the Editor can only plead in excuse, that the work has been prepared by him amidst many distractions, and hope that, in this instance at least, no ungenerous use will be made of such a circumstance to the disadvantage of the author, and that persons of greater reading or more retentive memories than the Editor, who may discover any such passages, will do him the favor to communicate the fact.
To those who have been kind enough to communicate books