Edited by Turnbull
letters to his numerous friends; and the true biography of Coleridge is that in which his letters are made the main source of the narrative. A Biographia Epistolaris is what we want of such a man.
Coleridge's letters are often bizarre in construction and quite regardless of the conventions of style, and abound in the most curious freaks of emphasis and imagery. They resemble the letters of Cowper in that they were not written for publication; and, like Cowper's, they have a character of their own. But they far surpass the epistles of the poet of Olney in spiritual vision and intellectuality. The eighteenth century, from Pope and Swift down to Cowper, is extremely rich in letter-writing. Bolingbroke, Lord Chesterfield, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Gray, Mason, Johnson, Beattie, Burns, and Gibbon, among literary personages, have contributed to the great Epistolick Art, as Dr. Johnson called it; and this list does not include the letters of the politicians, Horace Walpole, Junius, and others. The eighteenth ce
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