chapter  46
3 Pages

Reply To F. R. Leavis’s ‘Dr Richards, Bentham And Coleridge’ 1935

WithWilliam Empson

This chapter focuses on the William Empson reply To F. R. Leavis's 'Dr Richards, Bentham and Coleridge'. There is a strictly literary point, supported by examples that the nature-poetry of Coleridge and Wordsworth depends on interplay between or a uniting of, two opposed views of Nature. Philosophy comes in because this process was partly cause of, partly caused by, the philosophical ideas Coleridge developed when he first revolted against Hartley. One of the examples is the Fancy-Imagination distinction, and there is a long defence of it; when Dr Leavis complains of the triviality of the examples and the evasiveness of the results he does not know that these are Coleridge's results and Coleridge's examples, which Dr Richards is only trying to defend against the intervening attacks. Dr Richards is shown to be always insensitive as a prose writer because he calls the Old Coleridge the Highgate Spell-binder, not realizing that this implies something disagreeable.