chapter  35
7 Pages

COLERIDGE on Johnson’s Shakespeare, 1811–16

I have been induced to offer these remarks, in order to obviate an objection made against Shakespeare on the ground of the multitude of his conceits.1 I do not pretend to justify every conceit…. The notion against which I declare war is, that when ever a conceit is met with it is unnatural. People who entertain this opinion forget, that had they lived in the age of Shakespeare, they would have deemed them natural. Dryden in his translation of Juvenal has used the words ‘Look round the world,’2 which are a literal version of the original; but Dr. Johnson has swelled and expanded this expression into the following couplet:—

mere bombast and tautology; as much as to say, ‘Let observation with extensive observation observe mankind extensively.’3