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OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
[THE article printed below was contributed anonymously to the St. James's Gazette (March 13, 1886) as part of a series of three—the other two 'Great Talkers ' being Goethe and Luther (on March 20 and 30, 1886). They have been identified as Coventry Patmore’s, and the first, with portions of the second and third, are reprinted now for the first time by kind permission of Mrs. Patmore.
If the date of the essay (1886) is borne in mind, it will be seen that the long series of quotations is intended to reflect and confirm Coventry Patmore's own political convictions— ' anti-Jacobin', anti-Liberal, anti-Gladstonian.)
The published 'Table Talk' of men like Coleridge, Goethe, Luther, Johnson, and Selden, makes us almost wish that they might have done nothing but talk, with some one by to take notes. In talk they poured forth their best ; uttering briefly, intelligibly, and with the animation of sympathy and sympathetic conflict, that which is repeated in their books, but there elaborated, often obscured, and often compromised by the process of connecting and harmonizing their ideas. This is signally true of Coleridge. Most of the thoughts which, in the Aids to Reflection, the Statesman's Manual, and other of his writings shine only as the more lustrous points of luminous nebulae, in his recorded conversations glitter as brightly and distinctly as stars in a frosty night. It only needs a perusal of the exquisite and now too rarely read volume of Coleridge's Table Talk to remind us that to him, more than to any other Englishman of the present century, we are indebted for such 'sweetness and light' as our present culture