Dr. Morillo

HON293i etexts


Coleridge, from Biographia Literaria, Ch. 3


To anonymous critics in reviews, magazines, and news-journals of various name and rank, and to satirists with or without a name, in verse or prose, or in verse-text aided by prose-comment, I do seriously believe and profess, that I owe full two-thirds of whatever reputation and publicity I happen to possess. For when the name of an individual has occurred so frequently, in so many works, for so great a length of time, the readers of these works (which with a shelf or two of Beauties, Elegant extracts, and Anas, form nine-tenths of the reading of the reading public) cannot but be familiar with the name, without distinctly remembering whether it was introduced for eulogy or for censure. And this becomes the more likely, if (as I believe) the habit of perusing periodical works may be properly added to Averroes'* catalogue of Anti-mnemonics, or weakeners of the memory (my emphasis).


*Ex. gr. Pedicalos e capillis excerptos in arenam jarere incontusos; eating of unripe fruit; gazing on the clouds, and (in genere) on moveable things suspended in the air; man's delirium, riding among a multitude of camels; frequent laughter; listening to a series of Jests and humourous aneedotes, as when (so to modernize the learned Saracen's meaning) therefore transfer this species of amusement, one man's droll story of an Irishman inevitably occasions another's droll story of a Scotchman, which again by the same sort of conjunction disjunctive leads to some etourderie  of a Welshman, and that again to some sly hit of a Yorkshireman ; the habit of reading tomb-stones in church-yards, &c. By this catalogue strange as it may appear, f is not insusceptible of a sound psychological commentary.


Coleridge actually misremembers the source. Not Averroes, a Muslim Aristotelian, but Burhan al-Din, as translated by Jean Baptiste de Boyer, Kabbalistische Briefe (8 vols)--James Engell & W. Jackson Bate