"Shakespeare and His 
Critics" Logo with Ophelia - by Meredith Dillman

Lectures and Notes on Shakspere
and Other English Poets -

By Samuel Taylor Coleridge

(Short extracts given in the Appendix; extracts dated June 15th 1827. Book first published 1883)



Source Text : Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lectures and Notes on Shakspere and Other English Poets (London : George Bell and Sons, 1904), p. 531.

Transcribed and edited by Thomas Larque. Page numbers are given in the web text, in square brackets, at the start of each page.

This edition is Copyright Thomas Larque, 2001. See the copyright notice on http://shakespearean.org.uk for more details.


NOTE ON SPELLING - Unless otherwise mentioned these texts are produced with their original spellings intact. This means, for example, that Hazlitt's essay on Hamlet refers to "Shakespear" and Coleridge, in his lectures, to "Shakspere". These are not mistakes. Shakespeare's name was spelled in many different ways during the Renaissance (including at the most extreme "Shagspere", "Shexpere" and "Shaxberd"), Shakespeare himself, in his surviving signatures, spelled his name "Shakspere" or "Shakspeare", and the modern fixed spelling ("Shakespeare") was not considered to be the only correct one until some time into the 20th Century. For more information see Dave Kathman's page on the Renaissance Spelling and Pronounciation of Shakespeare's name [External link].


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**EXTRACTS FROM THE 'TABLE TALK'**

[531] Hamlet. - "Hamlet's character is the prevalence of the abstracting and generalizing habit over the practical. He does not want courage, skill, will, or opportunity; but every incident sets him thinking; and it is curious, and at the same time strictly natural, that Hamlet, who all the play seems reason itself, should be impelled, at last, by mere accident, to effect his object. I have a smack of Hamlet myself, if I may say so." - June 15, 1827.

Polonius. - "A Maxim is a conclusion upon observation of matters of fact, and is merely retrospective; an idea, or, if you like, a Principle, carries knowledge within itself, and is prospective. Polonius is a man of maxims. While he is descanting on matters of past experience, as in that excellent speech to Laertes before he sets out on his travels, he is admirable; but when he comes to advise or project, he is a mere dotard. You see Hamlet, as the man of ideas, despises him. A man of maxims only is like a Cyclops with one eye, and that eye placed in the back of his head." - June 15, 1827.

Hamlet and Ophelia - "In the scene with Ophelia, in the third act, Hamlet is beginning with great and unfeigned tenderness; but perceiving her reserve and coyness, fancies there are some listeners, and then, to sustain his part, breaks out into all that coarseness." - June 15 1827.


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