Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Coleridge was born on this day, in 1772. He was contemporary with Scott, and unwittingly played a major role in Scott's success. In the fall of 1802, Scott heard an unpublished version of Coleridge's "Christabel"; recited by John Stoddart. Scott published his "The Lay of the Last Minstrel" in 1805, well before Christabel was published. It did not take long before Coleridge's friends noticed similarities in the two works. In fact, some of the verses are nearly identical. For example, Scott used the refrain, "Jesu Maria, shield us well!" Coleridge's original was "Jesu Maria, shield her well!"

Coleridge was charged with plagiarism by an anonymous reviewer when his Christobel was published. The opposite was more true. It took until 1824 for Scott to confess to Lord Byron that he had been influenced by Coleridge's work. Finally in 1830, in his Poetical Works, Scott publicly admitted to borrowing from Coleridge.

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