The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

September 19, 2012

September 19, 1796

Hartley Coleridge (September 19, 1796 to January 6, 1849) was a writer, though he tried a variety of occupations. As a child he faltered under the extravagant expectations of his father and his father's friends. The latter included Wordsworth who wrote of the child Hartley as a “faery voyager." Another  "family friend, marveled at the continent of Ejuxria, an imaginary land that Hartley equipped with its own senate, legal system, and language (which he claimed to have translated)." These are the words of Anne Fadiman who did not mention the fact Hartley envisaged also a labor force for this kingdom, involving "a scheme for training cats and even rats for various offices and labours, civil and military."  Thus Derwent in his memoirs of his brother.

The genius the young Hartley showed, such that Charles Lamb called him “the small philosopher” led, in Fadiman's words to a " penumbra of impossible expectation ...settle[d] around Hartley’s head"  Dorothy Wordsworth noted, “Hartley is as odd as ever, and in the weak points of his character resembles his father very much.”

When 'Hartley was ten. ....[that father] was moved to proffer some advice... After speeding through his son’s Virtues, including kindness and imagination, he took a protracted epistolary tour of his Vices, from Hartley’s “labyrinth of day-dreams”and “habits of procrastination” to his loquaciousness at the dinner table and his regrettable tendency to stand in half-opened doorways."'

As Dorothy Wordsworth noted Hartley's faults were those of his father, whose loquacity ...led to an incident in which  the elder Coleridge ..."once grabbed the button of Charles Lamb’s coat and wouldn’t stop talking. Lamb took out his penknife and cut off the button."

Hartley would die assuming he had let down many people. Actually his brother would publish posthumously evidence for another conclusion.

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