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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

  • [An English poet and author; born in Devonshire, Oct. 21, 1772; while a Cambridge undergraduate enlisted as a dragoon, but was discovered and discharged; printed his first volume of poems, 1796; removed to Keswick, 1800, and lived in the society of Southey and Wordsworth; published “The Friend,” 1809, and other works between 1810 and 1825; removed to London, and died there, 1834.]
  • As there is much beast and some devil in man, so there is some angel and God in him.

  • Frederick the Great saw only the first element: “Every man has a wild beast within him,” he wrote to Voltaire, in 1759. “If a man is not rising upwards to be an angel,” said Coleridge, “depend upon it, he is sinking downwards to be a devil.”
  • Good and bad men are each less so than they seem.

  • Most of these quotations are from Coleridge’s “Table Talk:”—
  • “A man with a bad heart,” he said, “has been sometimes saved by a strong head; but a corrupt woman is lost forever.”
  • Talent, lying in the understanding, is often inherited; genius, being the action of reason and imagination, rarely or never.
  • Truth is a good dog; but beware of barking too close to the heels of an error, lest you get your brains kicked out.
  • In politics what begins in fear usually ends in folly.
  • Carlo Dolce’s Christs are always in sugar candy.
  • A rogue is a roundabout fool; a fool in circumbendibus.
  • A man of maxims only is like a Cyclops with one eye, and that eye placed in the back of his head.
  • Silence does not always mean wisdom.
  • The man’s desire is for the woman; but the woman’s desire is rarely other than for the desire of the man.
  • “In her first passion, woman loves her lover:
  • In all the others, all she loves is love.”
  • BYRON: Don Juan, III. 3.
  • Shakespeare is of no age.
  • “He was not of an age, but for all time.”
  • Painting is the intermediate something between a thought and a thing.
  • Frenchmen are like grains of gunpowder, each by itself smutty and contemptible; but mass them together, they are terrible indeed!
  • When a man mistakes his thoughts for persons and things, he is mad.
  • Schiller is a thousand times more hearty than Goethe.
  • Some men are like musical glasses,—to produce their finest tones you must keep them wet.
  • What comes from the heart goes to the heart. [Of composition.]
  • You abuse snuff. Perhaps it is the final cause of the human nose.
  • To see Kean act was like reading Shakespeare by flashes of lightning.
  • The largest part of mankind are nowhere greater strangers than at home.
  • Oh the difficulty of fixing the attention of men on the world within them!
  • In the treatment of nervous diseases, he is the best physician who is the most ingenious inspirer of hope.
  • No mind is thoroughly well organized that is deficient in the sense of humor.
  • There are three classes into which all elderly women that I ever knew were to be divided: first, that dear old soul; second, that old woman; third, that old witch.
  • If you take from Virgil his diction and metre, what do you leave him?
  • The earth with its scarred face is the symbol of the past; the air and heaven, of futurity.
  • You may depend upon it that a slight contrast of character is very material to happiness in marriage.
  • Intense study of the Bible will keep any writer from being vulgar in point of style.
  • Dryden’s genius was of that sort which catches fire by its own motion: his chariot-wheels get hot by driving fast.
  • How strange and awful is the synthesis of life and death in the gusty winds and falling leaves of an autumnal day!
  • I don’t wonder you think Wordsworth a small man: he runs so far before us all that he dwarfs himself in the distance.

  • To Mackintosh, who expressed his astonishment at Coleridge’s estimation of one so much his inferior as Wordsworth. When asked which of Wordsworth’s productions he liked best, Coleridge replied, “his daughter Dora.”
  • Coleridge, who was a bad rider, was accosted when on horseback by a wag who asked him if he knew what happened to Balaam: “The same thing as happened to me,” replied the poet,—“an ass spoke to him.”
  • Southey said of him, “The moment any thing assumes the shape of a duty, Coleridge feels himself incapable of discharging it.”
  • Hookham Frere once observed, “Coleridge’s waste words would have set up a dozen of your modern poets.”