‘Could a rule be given from without, poetry would cease to be poetry, and sink into a mechanical art. It would be μóρφωσις, not ποίησις. The rules of the IMAGINATION are themselves the very powers of growth and production. The words to which they are reducible, present only the outlines and external appearance of the fruit. A deceptive counterfeit of the superficial form and colours may be elaborated; but the marble peach feels cold and heavy, and children only put it to their mouths.’ [Coleridge, Biographia ch. 18]

‘ποίησις’ (poiēsis) means ‘a making, a creation, a production’ and is used of poetry in Aristotle and Plato. ‘μóρφωσις’ (morphōsis) in essence means the same thing: ‘a shaping, a bringing into shape.’ But Coleridge has in mind the New Testament use of the word as ‘semblance’ or ‘outward appearance’, which the KJV translates as ‘form’: ‘An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form [μóρφωσις] of knowledge and of the truth in the law’ [Romans 2:20]; ‘Having a form [μóρφωσις] of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away’ [2 Timothy 3:5]. I trust that's clear.

There is much more on Coleridge at my other, Coleridgean blog.

Thursday 27 June 2013

Mr Lancaster

Did the Royal Institution really pass a motion of censure against Coleridge?
I flatter myself that, by the evidence of facts, it has been proved, that Mr. Lancaster is the inventor of the System by which one master can educate an indefinite number of children in useful learning, with an expedition and economy altogether unexampled by any other person.

Against this system of education various objections have been made; some so trifling as not to need reply; such are objections to the principles of emulation and reward, as intended to supersede the use of the cane and the rod. Much empty declamation has been indulged in to pour contempt on the system, because of certain punishments which have been found successful, in tempering the froward and undisciplined habits of poor, neglected children. The gentleman who principally distinguished himself on this subject is Mr. Coleridge; the authority of whose name is adduced by the Quarterly Review Concerning the Lecture alluded to, much might be said: but, as Mr.Coleridge has failed to perform the promise'he made of its publication, it would have been more prudent of his friend to have suffered the remembrance of it to have sunk into oblivion, than, with the mention of the Lecture to have revived a recollection of the disgrace to which, the Lecturer subjected himself. The Reviewer ought to have recollected, that so great was the disapprobation of the Noble and Honourable Proprietors of the Royal Institution, that, at their following annual meeting, they expressed their opinion of that Lecture by passing a vote of censure on Mr. Coleridge on that account.

Joseph Fox ['Pythias'], A Vindication of Mr. Lancaster's System of Education from the Aspersions of Professor Marsh, the Quarterly, British and Anti-Jacobin Reviews (1812)

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