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Timely reissue of the second volume of Holmes's classic biographies of one of the greatest Romantic poets. Holmes's Coleridge leaps out of these pages as the brilliant, animated and endlessly provoking poet of genius that he was.
This second volume covers the last 30 years of Coleridge's career during which he travelled restlessly through the Mediterranean, returned to his old haunts in the Lake District and the West Country, and finally settled in Highgate. His marriage broke up, his opium addiction increased, he quarrelled with Wordsworth, his own son Hartley Coleridge a gifted poet himself became an alcoholic.
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And after a desperate time of transition, Coleridge re-emerged on the literary scene as a new kind of philosophical and meditative author. Sign up to the hive. Join to find the hottest teen books, connect with your favorite YA authors and meet new friends who share your reading interests. Visit EpicReads. Read new romance book reviews, posts from your favorite authors, samples, exciting digital first publications and e-book specials. Visit AvonRomance.
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Coleridge Darker Reflections
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She was part of the spring-time convoy of thirty-five ships, escorted by ten men-o'-war and the flagship HMS Leviathan, going to join Nelson's fleet in the Mediterranean and carrying supplies to British and allied ports in the war against France and Spain. As the French fleet under Villeneuve was bottled up by Nelson's squadron off Toulon, the greatest danger came from privateers and corsairs operating out of Spanish and North African ports.
So Captain Findlay cheerfully instructed Coleridge: "in a calm [they] will run out, pick up a merchant Vessel under the very stern of the Commodore, as a Fox will a Fowl when the Wolf dog that guards the poultry yard can only bark at him from his Chain". Coleridge kept a close eye on the wind throughout their voyage, as he did on all other maritime matters, so the whole imagery of the sea journey came to possess him.
By the second day he had found his sea-legs, and with hair flying and double-waistcoats flapping, he patrolled the deck agog with excitement, questioning and noting. Nothing seemed to escape his attention.
The Greatest Talker of His Time
If a merchantman lagged behind or failed to obey signals, the seventy-four-gun Leviathan fired warning shots at her -- "Commodore's strengthening Pills for the Memory", and a fine of five shillings. Down in the first hold, a sheep abandoned its hay, "kneeling its poor face to the Deck, its knees black, worn and sore At victuals, a ship's boy ran up the rigging to the main top "with a large Leg of Mutton swung, Albatross-fashion about his neck".
Always there was "great sea-Savannah" rolling unpastured about them, in all its changing lights and sounds. Along with the crated ducks, three pigs, the melancholy sheep and a ship's cat with kittens, Coleridge had two fellow passengers. They shared the cabin in increasingly pungent intimacy as the voyage progressed. One was a purple-faced lieutenant on half pay, who largely restricted his attentions to the ship's claret; the other was a plump and garrulous merry widow, a Mrs Ireland, "who would have wanted elbow-room on Salisbury Plain".
Mrs Ireland's conversation was confined to food, and she dwelt lovingly on the roast potatoes, pickles and apricot tart to be expected in Malta. The cabin conditions were extremely cramped, and probably not improved by Coleridge's tendency "in very gusty weather" to vomit up his food without warning. The process intrigued him, as it was never accompanied by seasickness: "it was an action as mechanical seemingly as that by which one's glass or teacup is emptied by a thwart blow of the Sea". Surprisingly, the merry "Mrs Carnosity" accepted this with good grace, and much worse which was to follow, after Gibraltar, when the mephitic stench from the bilge became overpowering.
Coleridge drew up a daily schedule for work in "a perseverant Spirit of industry": it began with ginger tea and journal-writing, proceeded with a study of Wordsworth's precious manuscript of the Prelude before dinner, and in the afternoon relaxed into Italian lessons and Dante; finally the night-watch was assigned to poetry and the completion of "Christabel".
But after the ginger tea and journal, Coleridge usually found that he flagged and spent his time up on deck, or dozing uneasily on his bunk under a pile of books.
These included, besides Dante and a portable Italian dictionary, a technical work on mineralogy, the meditations of Marcus Aurelius, and the complete works of Sir Thomas Browne, together with a mutinous crew of fresh lemons that he chewed to protect against scurvy. He has much exercised by the bunk, which his large frame swaddled in double coats and double trousers, reduced to a precarious "mantel".
On inspection it measured five and a half feet long by twenty inches wide. But above it was the brass porthole upon which he lavished all his ingenuity. Finding it edged with small iron rings he laced these with cords to form a net, and stacked the bottom half with books to make a flat shelf for his kit. Inside this seamanlike cupboard he carefully arranged his shaving things, teacup and soup plate, supply of lemons and portable inkstand, whose unmoving pool of black ink seemed a suggestive contrast to the ceaseless lurching of the ship.
Like the charmed pool of the imagination, the steady inkwell amidst the churning sea was "Imperium in Imperio", a realm within a realm.