Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient: Cultural Negotiations 9781472543486, 9781441149879

While postcolonial studies of Romantic-period literature have flourished in recent years, scholars have long neglected t

253 57 3MB

English Pages [229] Year 2013

Report DMCA / Copyright


Polecaj historie

Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient: Cultural Negotiations
 9781472543486, 9781441149879

Citation preview

List of Figures 1.1 The Reception of the Diplomatique 2.1 ‘Veeshnu slumbering’, The History of Hindostan 2.2 The Ghauts at Benares 2.3 The Taj Mahal 9.1 Taizōkai [Womb Realm] Mandala 9.2 Kongōkai [Diamond] Mandala 12.1 Chinese Ko’ssau Silk Tapestry 12.2 The Approach of the Emperor of China to the Tent in Tartary 12.3 Chinese Pagoda and Bridge, in St. James’s Park 12.4 The Fishing Temple at Virginia Water

23 45 47 50 156 157 195 197 203 203

Acknowledgements The idea for this volume, and the chapters it contains, arose from the international conference entitled ‘Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient: Cultural Negotiations’, held at Kobe, Japan in July 2011, and the editors are grateful to the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science for generous support of this conference and of research leading to the publication of this volume. The editors are also grateful to Dr Elinor Shaffer of the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, University of London, for initially suggesting the publication of the volume, and to David Avital and Laura Murray at Bloomsbury, as well as the anonymous readers of the proposal for this volume, for their helpful advice and suggestions. The editors and contributors are grateful to the Baillieu Library, The University of Melbourne, for permission to reproduce ‘Veeshnu slumbering’, from Thomas Maurice, The History of Hindostan, vol. 1, 1795, facing p. 403; to the Royal Academy of Arts, London, for permission to reproduce William Hodges, The Ghauts at Benares. View of Part of the City of Benares on the River Ganges, in the East Indies; to the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, for permission to reproduce William Hodges, The Taj Mahal (1783); to Tōji Temple, Kyoto, Japan, for permission to reproduce Ryōgai Mandala (Taizōkai Mandala), and Ryōgai Mandala (Kongōkai Mandala); to the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, for permission to reproduce Chinese Ko’ssau Silk Tapestry (© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London); to the British Library for permission to reproduce The Approach of the Emperor of China to the Tent in Tartary by William Alexander, as published in An Authentic Account, 1797 (© British Library); to the British Museum for permission to reproduce Chinese Pagoda and Bridge, in St. James’s Park (© British Museum); and to the UK Government Art Collection for permission to reproduce The Fishing Temple at Virginia Water, as depicted in an aquatint, after the original watercolour by William Daniell, 1829 (© Crown copyright: UK Government Art Collection).

Symbols and Abbreviations Symbols Word Text struck out thus indicates a deletion in the manuscript < > Indicates an insertion between the lines in the manuscript [ ] In passages from Collected Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, indicates an insertion by the editor.

Abbreviations AR S. T. Coleridge. Aids to Reflection. Ed. John Beer. Collected Works. Vol. 9. Princeton: Princeton U.P., 1993. BL Biographia Literaria. Ed. James Engell and W. Jackson Bate. 2 vols. Collected Works. Vol. 7. Princeton: Princeton U.P., 1983. CL Collected Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Ed. E. L. Griggs. 6 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1956–71. CM S. T. Coleridge. Marginalia. Ed. George Whalley et al. 6 vols. Collected Works. Vol. 12. Princeton: Princeton U.P., 1980–2001. CN The Notebooks of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Ed. Kathleen Coburn, Merton Christensen and Anthony John Harding. 5 vols. London: Routledge, 1957–2002. C&S S. T. Coleridge. On the Constitution of the Church and State. Ed. John Colmer. Collected Works. Vol. 10. Princeton: Princeton U.P., 1976. EOT S. T. Coleridge. Essays on His Times in ‘The Morning Post’ and ‘The Courier’. Ed. David V. Erdman. 3 vols. Collected Works. Vol. 3. Princeton: Princeton U.P., 1977. Friend S. T. Coleridge. The Friend. Ed. Barbara E. Rooke. 2 vols. Collected Works. Vol. 4. Princeton: Princeton U.P., 1969.


Symbols and Abbreviations

Lects 1795 S. T. Coleridge. Lectures (1795) On Politics and Religion. Ed. Lewis Patton and Peter Mann. Collected Works. Vol. 1. Princeton: Princeton U.P., 1971. Lects 1808–19 S. T. Coleridge. Lectures 1808–19 On Literature. Ed. R. A. Foakes. 2 vols. Collected Works. Vol. 5. Princeton: Princeton U.P., 1987. Lects 1818–19 S. T. Coleridge. Lectures 1818–19 On the History of Philosophy. Ed. J. R. de J. Jackson. 2 vols. Collected Works. Vol. 8. Princeton: Princeton U.P., 2000. Logic S. T. Coleridge. Logic. Ed. J. R. de J. Jackson. Collected Works. Vol. 13. Princeton: Princeton U.P., 1981. LS S. T. Coleridge. Lay Sermons. Ed. R. J. White. Collected Works. Vol. 6. Princeton: Princeton U.P., 1972. OM Opus Maximum. Ed. Thomas McFarland. Collected Works. Vol. 15. Princeton: Princeton U.P., 2002. PW S. T. Coleridge. Poetical Works. Ed. J. C. C. Mays. 3 vols in 6 parts. Collected Works. Vol. 16. Princeton: Princeton: U.P., 2001. SWF S. T. Coleridge. Shorter Works and Fragments. Ed. H. J. Jackson and J. R. de J. Jackson. 2 vols. Collected Works. Vol. 11. Princeton: Princeton U.P., 1995. TT S. T. Coleridge. Table Talk. Ed. Carl Woodring. 2 vols. Collected Works. Vol. 14. Princeton: Princeton U.P., 1990. Watchman S. T. Coleridge. The Watchman. Ed. Lewis Patton. Collected Works. Vol. 2. Princeton: Princeton U.P., 1970.

Notes on Contributors Dometa Wiegand Brothers ( is an Assistant Professor of English Literature at Iowa State University, specializing in Romanticism. She has published reviews, articles and essays on women poets of the eighteenth century, Coleridge, Romanticism and the history of science and mathematics. Her most recent publication is ‘“Embryo Systems and Unkindled Suns”: Anna Barbauld and Astronomy’ in the Palgrave Macmillan collection The New Science and Women’s Literary Discourse: Prefiguring Frankenstein. Deirdre Coleman’s research centres on eighteenth-century literature and cultural history, focusing in particular on racial ideology, colonialism, natural history and the anti-slavery movement. She has published in ELH, Eighteenth-Century Life and Eighteenth-Century Studies, and is author of Romantic Colonization and British Anti-Slavery (Cambridge U.P., 2005). Most recently she has co-edited (with Hilary Fraser) Minds, Bodies, Machines, 1770–1930 (Palgrave, 2011). She holds the Robert Wallace Chair of English at the University of Melbourne. Tim Fulford is a Professor of English at De Montfort University, Leicester. He is the author of many books and articles on Romanticism and the co-editor of the Collected Letters, and of the Poetical Works, of Robert Southey. His new book is entitled The Late Poetry of the Lake Poets. Natalie Tal Harries is a Ph.D. candidate in English Literature at the University of Aberdeen. Her research focuses on the influence of Hinduism, Neoplatonism (particularly through the translations of Thomas Taylor) and other esoteric sources on the poetry and thought of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Percy Bysshe Shelley. She is a member of the Friends of Coleridge and has reviewed for The Coleridge Bulletin and The Charles Lamb Bulletin. Kuri Katsuyama is a Professor of English at Kyoto University of Art and Design. Her publications include ‘Coleridge’s Sublimity and the Ideology of Imagination’, In Search of the Imaginary and Visionary World: Studies of English Romantic Poetry (Osaka Kyoiku Tosho, 1999); ‘Coleridge and the Orient: The Transformation of a Discourse of Otherness’, Voyages of Conception, Japan Association of English Romanticism (Kirihara, 2005); ‘Coleridge and the


Notes on Contributors

Chinese Garden’, Essays in English Romanticism, 29/30, Japan Association of English Romanticism (2006). Peter J. Kitson is a Professor of English at the University of East Anglia. He is the author of Forging Romantic China: Sino-British Cultural Exchange 1760– 1840 (Cambridge U.P., 2013); Romantic Literature, Race and Colonial Encounter (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007); and (with Tim Fulford and Debbie Lee) Literature, Science and Exploration: Bodies of Knowledge (Cambridge U.P., 2004). He is also the editor (with T. Fulford) of Travels, Explorations and Empires (8 vols, Pickering  & Chatto, 2001–2); and (with Debbie Lee), Slavery, Abolition and Emancipation: Writings from the Romantic Period (8 vols, Pickering & Chatto, 1999); and of a collection of essays Slavery and the Cultures of Abolition (D.S. Brewer, 2007). Kitson has served as President of the English Association (2007– 10) and of the British Association for Romantic Studies (2007–11). He was also the editor of The Year’s Work in English Studies (1995–2001). Kaz Oishi is an Associate Professor of English in the Department of Language and Information Sciences, University of Tokyo. His publications include ‘An Ideological Map of (Mis)reading: William Blake and Yanagi Muneyoshi in Early-Twentieth-Century Japan’ in Steve Clark and Masashi Suzuki (eds), The Reception of Blake in the Orient (Continuum, 2006), POETICA, vol. 76, Special Issue: ‘Cross-Cultural Negotiations: Romanticism, Mobility and the Orient’ (co-edited with Felicity James, 2011) and various essays on Coleridge and other Romantics. Seamus Perry is Massey Fellow and Tutor in English at Balliol College, Oxford. His publications include Coleridge and the Uses of Division (Clarendon, 1999), Samuel Taylor Coleridge (British Library, 2003), Coleridge’s Responses. Selected Writings on Literary Criticism, the Bible and Nature. Volume I: Coleridge on Writing and Writers (Continuum, 2008), Coleridge’s Notebooks: A Selection (Oxford U.P., 2002) and numerous essays on Romanticism and Romantic poets. Heidi Thomson is an Associate Professor at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, where she teaches the Romantics. Her recent publications include an essay about webs of interlocution in Wordsworth and Auden, which appeared in Mark Sandy’s Romantic Presences in the Twentieth Century (Ashgate, 2012), and a special issue of the Belgian literary arts journal DWB Vol. 157, June, 2012/3 ( about ‘De Verwondering’ (‘Wonder’), which she co-edited with Jan Lauwereyns.

Notes on Contributors


David Vallins is a Professor of English in the Faculty of Letters at Hiroshima University, Japan, and previously taught at universities in Britain and Hong Kong. His publications include Coleridge and the Psychology of Romanticism (Macmillan, 2000), an edited selection from Coleridge’s works entitled Coleridge’s Writings: On the Sublime (Palgrave, 2003), and numerous essays on Coleridge and other Romantics. Setsuko Wake-Naota obtained her Ph.D. at Kobe College, Japan. After spending a year at Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, as a Visiting Fellow (2010–11), she is now a Professor at Kobe College. Her major essays are ‘Coleridge’s Transcendental Philosophy: Knowing through Conscience as “a Spiritual Sensation’” (Coleridge Bulletin, vol. 32, 2008). Dictionary of British Philosophy and Thought (Japanese Society for British Philosophy, 2007, a multi-authored volume) and ‘S. T. Coleridge and Platonic Revelation from Within (1–3)’ (Kobe College Studies, vol. 46, no. 3, vol. 47, no. 2 and vol. 48, no. 1, 2000–1). Andrew Warren is an Assistant Professor of English at Harvard University, specializing in Romanticism. His first book project, currently under reader review, is entitled Populous Solitudes: The Orient and the Young Romantics. He has also written articles for publications such as Eighteenth Century: Theory & Interpretation, Studies in the Novel, James Joyce Quarterly and Keats-Shelley Journal.

Introduction David Vallins

Romantic representations of the Orient – from the Ottoman empire to China – have been a topic of increasing interest to critics and literary historians since the 1970s, and especially so with the growth in historicist readings of Romanticism, particularly in the contexts of imperialism and colonialism, since the 1990s. While studies by Nigel Leask, Saree Makdisi, Tim Fulford, Peter Kitson, John Barrell and Karen Fang (among others) have explored Romantic authors’ reactions to and anxieties over imperialism and colonial trade, however, the East has featured in their studies primarily in the form of Britain’s colonial territories in India, its relations with the Ottoman empire, and to a lesser extent, its trade with China, while their predominant emphasis has been either on fear of and reactions against the ‘otherness’ of the diverse populations and cultures encountered by European travellers in the East, or on the antiquarian and commercial aestheticizing of oriental artefacts associated with contemporary trade and exploration (Leask, 1992; Makdisi, 1998; Fulford, 1998; Barrell, 1991; Leask, 2002; Fang, 2010). The focus of the majority of these studies, in other words, has been on the ways in which the ‘orientalist’ aspects of late eighteenthand early nineteenth-century material and print culture are reflected in the literature of the period, rather than on the ways in which Romantic authors themselves studied oriental cultures or explored ideas of oriental origin in their writings. To put this in a different way, the periodical writings of De Quincey and Lamb, Byron’s fashionable depictions of the Ottoman empire, the popular genre of travel writing, and numerous oblique literary reflections of contemporary attitudes towards and encounters with the East have been explored by Leask, Barrell, Fang, and others; albeit Shelley’s and (especially) Southey’s more substantial engagements with the ideas and traditions of Islam have also featured prominently in several recent studies.1


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

While these and other studies have substantially reorientated Romanticism scholarship away from the individual creative act and towards the broader cultural contexts of and influences on literary works, important aspects of the Romantic response to the Orient have remained largely unexplored. In particular, and with the notable exceptions of Shelley’s and Southey’s representations of Islam  – the latter of which are further explored in relation to Coleridge’s Christabel by Tim Fulford in this volume – the strong interest of several Romantic-period authors in oriental philosophies and religions has not been widely explored since Elinor Shaffer’s 1975 study of Romantic thinkers’ interest in the interaction of Western and oriental influences in the origins of Christianity (Shaffer, 1975, pp. 1–190). Among British authors, those who most extensively reflected on Hinduism and its resemblances to European forms of idealism included the Sanskrit scholar Sir William Jones and his younger contemporary, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Jones’s speculative studies on the origins of European mythologies and religions, as well as languages, were among the influences on Coleridge’s critical comparisons of Hinduism with Neoplatonism, while – as various of the chapters in this volume argue – Coleridge’s emphasis on a state of disinterestedness as underlying true aesthetic and moral judgement parallels Schopenhauer’s slightly later interpretation of Buddhism, and several of his poems can be seen to reflect the interest in Hinduism prompted by Wilkins’s 1785 translation of The Bhagvat-Geeta, as well as by Jones’s writings.2 In addition to these topics, however, Coleridge’s best-known representation of the Orient, in ‘Kubla Khan’, associates it with a unification of the concrete and the visionary in a way which parallels contemporary German idealist interpretations of and responses to Hinduism and Neoplatonism (Shaffer, 1975, pp. 32–9, 82–95; Vallins, 2000, pp. 21–3).3 In this sense, therefore, Coleridge is notable among British Romantics for the positiveness or enthusiasm with which he reinterprets oriental religions or philosophies and applies them to contemporary experience, rather than stressing either their ‘otherness’ or their exoticism. Southey’s and Shelley’s uses of radicalism in the context of Islam  – whether in terms of a reformation of the religion or of a revolt against it – as a parallel to the quest for liberation from religious and political oppression in contemporary Britain show, perhaps, a comparable interest in Eastern ideas; yet their implicit applications of them are more metaphorical than literal, whereas Coleridge’s evocation of an imaginative intuition of the unity of subjective and objective connects the Indian religious traditions which also spread eastwards to China with the Neoplatonic philosophy so notably redeveloped or applied by thinkers such as Schelling in his own period.4 In this sense, as well as in his discussions and representations



of Judaism and Islam and their relation to Christianity, Coleridge engages more profoundly with oriental ideas and cultures  – and in ways more extensively informed by contemporary and earlier scholarship  – than any other British Romantic.5 At the same time, the idea of the Orient as signifying a transcendent intuition of the unity of self and other, spiritual and material, or conscious and unconscious is, as Shaffer has particularly shown, so pervasive in his writing as to make Coleridge in a sense the most profoundly ‘orientalist’ author of his age (1975, pp. 17–143). Hence, in comparing Coleridge’s interests and perceptions with those of Southey, Shelley, De Quincey and near-contemporaries such as Sir William Jones, one may reasonably differentiate between several ‘orientalisms’, in the background of which Said’s concept of ‘the corporate institution for dealing with the Orient . . . by making statements about it, authorizing views of it, describing it . . . teaching it, settling it, ruling over it’ (1978, p. 3) is a constant presence, but which it is far from comprehensively explaining, and which reveal a much wider range of interests, values and sympathies than Said’s analyses of the colonial context might lead us to expect.6 The aim of this book, therefore, is to combine an appreciation of the nature and extent of Coleridge’s orientalism – in both the scholarly and the imaginative sense – with the insights which historicist criticism has given us into the material, cultural and political contexts of his and other Romantics’ depictions of the Orient. As the chapters in this volume show, Coleridge was by no means without prejudice in his depictions of oriental cultures, often (for example) tending to stigmatize Hinduism as seeking too direct an apprehension of the divine (an attitude which, despite acknowledging the similarity of their viewpoints, he emphasizes less in the case of the early Neoplatonists), and as engaging in forms of austerity and self-discipline sharing the extremes of the early Christian ascetics, as well as tending towards an idolatry analogous to that which he associates with Catholic southern Europe (Lects 1818–19, vol. 1, pp. 430–1; Friend, vol. 1, p. 56). These Protestant viewpoints, which reflect both the European politics and the colonial attitudes of his age, however, are paradoxically combined in Coleridge’s writings with poetic visions which – as several of the chapters in this volume show – evoke an intuitive sense of the unity of self and other in ways resembling the Hindu visions of oneness described by authors such as Wilkins and Jones, as well as Friedrich Schlegel and other German commentators on Indian religious thought.7 As Deirdre Coleman’s chapter in this volume shows, moreover, several of Coleridge’s closest relatives were employed in the East India Company  – a connection whose relevance to his attitudes towards and representations of the East has been surprisingly little explored hitherto, while Peter Kitson’s chapter


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

highlights the ways in which Coleridge echoes the widespread contemporary preoccupation with the idea of Asian despotism, particularly in the context of Britain’s relations with China. Coleridge’s representations of the Orient thus alternate between echoing contemporary imperialist culture in ways somewhat analogous to De Quincey’s anxious reaction to images of the East, and expressing a more spontaneous identification with the ideas which Schlegel, Jones, and others saw as connecting Hinduism with the Neoplatonic tradition in Europe and the Mediterranean.8 It is, indeed, perhaps this unique combination of identification with and critique of oriental cultures that makes Coleridge’s response to the East so fascinating, as he negotiates between cultural, political and theological anxieties on the one hand, and the attraction of a spiritual intuition of oneness associated with a liberation of the soul from concrete particulars on the other.9 This latter ‘Orient’ in Coleridge’s work, however, itself reveals a related paradox, since the opium which has often been associated with some of his most notably liberating imaginative visions was also a product of the East – not, in the case of British imports, primarily of India, but rather of Turkey, though soon to become so notable a bone of contention between Britain and China.10 Coleridge, therefore, was himself (like De Quincey) a notable consumer of this most controversial product of the East, whose influence on his writing connects it with the intuitive creativity which, in ‘Kubla Khan’, he associated with an ‘oriental’ transcendence of space-time coordinates – a notable instance of Coleridge’s paradoxical relation to the East both in terms of the historical and material reality of trade and colonialism, and as a focus of scholarly inquiry and imaginative speculation. In exploring this duality of orientalisms in Coleridge’s writings, therefore, this volume aims both to fill a notable gap in previous studies of Romantic orientalism, and to combine the insights of historicism with a fuller exploration of the literary and philosophical aspects of Coleridge’s interest in the Orient. At the same time, however, the volume distinctively explores the ways in which interpretations of Coleridge’s writings have been influenced by oriental cultures themselves – particularly in the case of Japan, where Coleridge has been widely studied since the early twentieth century, and where dialogue with Western literary and cultural perspectives has long been substantial, particularly in the area of Romanticism. As several of the chapters in this volume show, Japanese responses to Coleridge are of particular interest, first because the Esoteric Buddhist tradition in Japan helps to illuminate analogies between Coleridge’s metaphysical, ethical and aesthetic viewpoints and aspects of Buddhism explored by his contemporary, Schopenhauer; secondly because Japanese Buddhism has influenced Western



as well as Japanese readers of Coleridge; thirdly because the imperial Japan of the early twentieth century produced some unique interpretations of Coleridge which, despite their eccentricity, nevertheless highlight key aspects of Coleridge’s own orientalism; and fourthly because Japan can offer us readings of Coleridge’s orientalist perspectives from modern Asian viewpoints, thus balancing and complementing Western post-colonial interpretations. Not only the chapters by Kaz Oishi and Seamus Perry about Japanese-influenced readings of Coleridge, but also Setsuko Wake-Naota’s chapter about analogies between Coleridge’s ethics and aesthetics and Schopenhauer’s interpretation of Buddhism, as well as the principles of Japanese Esoteric Buddhism itself, and Kuri Katsuyama’s chapter about British imitations of Chinese gardens and buildings as expressing an imperialist aesthetic implicitly compared with that of ancient China, thus highlight a variety of perspectives on Coleridge’s orientalism influenced by modern Asian or Japanese viewpoints. As several chapters in this volume point out, however, despite the growing importance of Britain’s commercial relations with China in this period, China itself relatively features little in Coleridge’s writings except as the locus of an idealized and symbolic fictional landscape – a vision notably contrasting with the more factual and often critical descriptions of China by those who visited or negotiated with the country. Coleridge’s and other Romantics’ preference for envisaging a fantastical China may thus be interpreted as eliding historical and commercial fact in favour of idealized representations which express the varied interests of the British bourgeoisie. Karen Fang, for example, has recently argued that Lamb’s discussion of Chinese porcelain indirectly celebrates the upward mobility of those (like Lamb himself) involved in the trade in Chinese and colonial products, in a way that implicitly rivals Coleridge’s more philosophical uses of China in ‘Kubla Khan’ (Fang, 2010, pp. 38–57). On the other hand, however, several chapters in this volume argue that Coleridge’s fictionalized image of China enables him to overcome the opposition between empiricist and idealist viewpoints by evoking an imaginative space which at once incorporates the material and separates it from any specific or identifiable location, so that familiar attitudes towards Eastern cultures (e.g. as characterized by sensualism or idolatrous pantheism) cannot be directly applied to it, while at the same time it eludes an empiricist privileging of the objective or material over the mental. Like the Romantic views of the Book of Revelation as a characteristically ‘oriental’ expression of the intuitive and visionary discussed by Shaffer, therefore, Coleridge’s representation of China implicitly associates the East with a visionary form of liberation from the familiar dualisms of Western philosophy and


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

theology – a distinctive form of orientalism whose emphasis is notably positive compared with the often negative, condescending or hypocritical depictions of Eastern empires in the works of many of his contemporaries.11 The book thus highlights Coleridge’s paradoxical relation to the East as an orientalist both in the sense of being a scholar or student of the East, and in the Saidian sense of being one who imagined or envisaged the East in ways shaped (if not dictated) by the European cultural environment of his age (Said, 1978, p. 3). In addition, it seeks to integrate literary and philosophical studies of Coleridge’s interest in and depictions of the Orient both with the latest research on their historical and political contexts, and with an appreciation of the ways in which oriental cultures have themselves influenced the interpretation of Coleridge’s works. It thus aims to achieve an original and stimulating synthesis of contrasting strands in recent criticism, and to suggest ways in which these should inform each other, leading to a fuller understanding both of Coleridge’s poetry and thought, and of their historical and cultural contexts. The chapters in Part One, ‘Coleridge, Romanticism and Oriental Cultures’, situate Coleridge in the larger context of British political, commercial and exploratory engagements with the East in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, as well as examining his relation to orientalism in other Romantic authors, and the later response to and interpretation of Coleridge’s work in Asian countries, and especially Japan. In particular, they seek to combine the study of Coleridge’s literary, philosophical and theological interest in Eastern cultures and traditions with an understanding of their relation to the orientalism of his contemporaries, and of the historical and political contexts of Romantic writings on the East, as well as with an appreciation of the ways in which oriental (and especially Japanese) culture influenced early twentieth-century interpretations of Coleridge. They thus draw together several contrasting strands of recent criticism, while also suggesting new perspectives on Romantic orientalism from modern Asian or Japanese perspectives. First, Peter Kitson’s chapter, ‘“Bid him bow down to that which is above him”: The “kowtow controversy” and Representations of Asian Ceremonials in Romantic Literature’, explores the British fascination with the Qing ritual of the ketou or kowtow as represented in a number of key Romantic-period texts. As Kitson points out, the Qing demand that foreign ambassadors perform the full imperial kowtow of the three kneelings and nine knockings of the forehead came to be seen as metonymic of European relations with China in the nineteenth century and out of step with contemporary norms of the sovereignty and equality of nations, thus becoming the key symbol of Asian despotism. The



chapter summarizes the British debate about the kowtow and its post-colonial implications, before turning to a range of Romantic-period texts which Kitson argues are informed by the issue of the kowtow. Resistance to the kowtow, he suggests, can be seen in a series of political writings by Coleridge, as well as more broadly in the work of Byron, Shelley and Austen where some form of bodily or psychological prostration before an imagined or actual tyrant becomes symbolic of a peculiarly British reading of freedom and liberty. Kitson’s central thesis is that in the context of global Romanticism, Qing China is a key, underacknowledged and very real presence in Romantic-period literature, but in often fugitive and unexpected ways. His chapter breaks new ground in discussing this Asian ceremony in texts where it has previously not been seen as apparent, returning China to the important role that it played in early nineteenth-century British economic, political and cultural life in the period leading up to the Opium War of 1839–42. Deirdre Coleman’s chapter, ‘The “dark tide of time”: Coleridge and William Hodges’ India’, however, highlights the far greater extent of British knowledge of and involvement in India, as well as the ways in which contemporary writings on the country combine a much greater familiarity with its landscapes and customs with a similarly fictionalizing tendency, resulting in a distinctive genre of travel writing which is at once fantastical and quasi-factual – a combination interestingly suggestive and anticipatory of Coleridge’s literary construction of a Chinese landscape which is at once real or concrete and produced by an ‘imagination’ resembling that which he later described as underlying all forms of consciousness. In particular, Coleman argues that certain notably fantastic images in Thomas Maurice’s History of Hindostan (1795–8) may have influenced Coleridge’s conception of a physically impossible landscape in his poem, while many of the images in William Hodges’ Travels in India have close parallels in ‘Kubla Khan’. In addition, Coleman argues, his family’s extensive connections with the East India Company suggest that Coleridge’s own knowledge of India was much greater than traditionally supposed, and may well have influenced his ideas about and portrayals of the ‘East’ more generally, especially given the much smaller extent of contemporary European writings about China. Though modern India is mentioned relatively little in Coleridge’s work, she suggests, the more extensive information about India available to him makes it likely that ‘Kubla Khan’ is informed by this as well as by contemporary writings on China. Tim Fulford’s chapter, ‘Coleridge’s Sequel to Thalaba and Robert Southey’s Prequel to Christabel’, complements these studies of Romantic portrayals of China and India by focusing on Romantic perceptions and adaptations of


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

Arabian and Islamic tradition – especially Robert Southey’s epic poem Thalaba the Destroyer, much of which was written at Coleridge’s cottage in Somerset in 1799, and Southey’s attempt to combine his poem with a new introduction or ‘prequel’ to Coleridge’s ‘chivalric-Gothic’ ballad, Christabel.12 Southey’s interest in the mythological figure Thalaba and his defeat of the evil sorcerers, he argues, reflects his fascination with the power of religious faith to create revolutionary movements and thus to topple empires, and specifically with the idea of early Islam as a revolutionary movement of liberation and emancipation. Southey’s enthusiastic portrayal of Thalaba thus coincides with Coleridge’s early view of Mohammed as having helped to cleanse the Christian world of idolatry. Yet whereas Southey’s concern was mainly with the social and political power of religious belief, Coleridge’s focus was primarily on comparative theology and the relation between the spiritual and material worlds. Having first undermined their collaborative effort on the planned epic poem Mohammed, Fulford argues, these differences resulted in the contrasting but interconnected forms of orientalism found in Southey’s Thalaba and Coleridge’s ‘Kubla Khan’.13 In addition, however, Southey’s portrayal of Thalaba as successfully defeating the mortal threat represented by the sorcerers has important features in common with Coleridge’s portrayal of Christabel’s encounter with the moral and practical dangers represented by the mysterious Geraldine, while Southey’s composition of a potential ‘prequel’ to Coleridge’s poem demonstrates his continued emphasis on narrative action, in contrast with Coleridge’s exploration of psychological and moral ambiguities. Through these interconnections and contrasts of viewpoint, therefore, aspects of Coleridge’s work which ostensibly evoke quite different settings (in this case, an imagined medieval England) are shown to be substantially connected with contemporary orientalism, and specifically with British portrayals and uses of the East to express more local and personal concerns. The last two chapters in Part One focus on a different aspect of the literary relations between Britain and the Orient  – namely the influence of Japanese culture on interpretations of Romanticism (and specifically the works of Coleridge) in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, especially in the cases of William Empson and of Japanese critics and interpreters of Coleridge. First, Seamus Perry’s chapter, ‘Coleridge, William Empson and Japan’, argues that Empson’s long period of residence in the Far East led to his absorption of Japanese Buddhist ideas in ways that extensively influenced his discussions of British authors, including Milton and Coleridge. In particular, the fatalistic outlook he acquired during his first period of residence in Japan led him to



reject the conventional interpretation of ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ as a Christian allegory of sin and redemption, and to focus instead on the idea of an acceptance of the negative in nature (in the broadest sense) as liberating the individual from its oppressive power – an attitude which Perry describes as fundamentally different from the Christian idea of a redemptive love. Rather than expressing a moral challenge, Empson sees the Mariner’s experiences as evoking nature’s resistance to such interpretation, and as representing a more recalcitrant reality whose negative qualities can nevertheless be overcome through our voluntary ‘delight’ in reality as such. The apparently conventional Christian moral of the poem, Empson argues, is thus in fact based on a more profound interpretation of human beings’ relation to nature; and Perry argues both that Empson’s interpretation is a convincing one which originates in his experience of Japanese culture (and especially Japanese Buddhism), and that it highlights the ways in which Coleridge’s earliest version of this poem expresses something closer to a Buddhist acceptance of nature as part of a progression towards ‘the final release of self-emptiness’ than to a Christian idea of humanity’s relation to a personal God. While the case of Empson distinctively illustrates the influence of a Western experience of Japan on the interpretation of Coleridge, however, Kaz Oishi’s chapter, ‘Oriental Aesthetes and Modernity: The Reception of Coleridge in Early Twentieth-Century Japan’ highlights the extent of Japanese critics’ identification with key aspects of Coleridgean thought and aesthetics, as well as their sometimes unique interpretations of him in the light of Japanese literary and cultural traditions. It particularly focuses on the way in which Coleridge was read and translated in the 1920s and 1930s when Japan began to develop new decadent aesthetics and political liberalism. Coleridge’s poems, especially ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ and ‘Love’, were (mis)read as the embodiment of decadence together with British literature of the fin de siècle. As Oishi shows, however, this (mis)reading itself sheds new light on the nature of Romantic orientalism in Coleridge’s thought and works, particularly highlighting Coleridge’s distinctive association of the Orient with imaginative creativity, religious mysticism and a sense of the sublime, as well as with indolent or dreamlike contemplation – all qualities which encouraged Japanese readers’ association of him with decadence and with the Symbolist movement. Furthermore, the chapter shows how this reception of Coleridge came to constitute a crucial basis of modern literary criticism in Japan, thus illustrating important aspects of the context in which Empson taught Coleridge and other English poetry to Japanese students.


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

The chapters in Part Two, ‘Coleridge, Philosophy and the Orient’, explore Coleridge’s attitudes towards and interpretations of Eastern philosophies and religions, and the ways in which these relate to his broader philosophical interests and literary works, and especially to his interpretations of idealism and Neoplatonism. Not only Coleridge’s extensive writings about Hinduism, but also his descriptions and representations of Islam are explored in terms of their sources, the extent to which they either reflect a substantial understanding of these religions or (on the other hand) are distorted by Coleridge’s Western (and specifically British) viewpoint and ideology, and their relation to his better-known philosophical and theological theories and beliefs, as well as to various of his best-known poems. Andrew Warren’s chapter – ‘Coleridge, Philosophy, Orient’ – explores the dual role of the Orient as both an object of and a source for Romantic philosophy, particularly highlighting Coleridge’s view of philosophy as originating in a dialectic of oriental (and especially Hindu) pantheism both with the ancient Greek emphasis on Reason, and with the Hebraic emphasis on Spirit or Will as fundamentally distinct from nature. Though earlier seeing this genesis of philosophy as exemplifying the ‘universal law of polarity’, however, Coleridge later came to see polarity itself as too closely connected with natural phenomena such as electricity, replacing it with a more stable opposition between spiritual will and material nature. In addition, however, Warren notes the extent to which Coleridge’s association of pantheism (including Spinoza’s thought) with the East exemplifies an orientalism which, ironically, itself fails to distinguish his own subjective viewpoint from the object of his analysis. Hence, Warren argues, a dialectical movement between distinction and unification founds both philosophy itself, and the high Romantic orientalism which seeks to reconcile yet also to distinguish the spiritual and the material. Finally, Warren highlights the analogy between Coleridge’s fear of the disappearance of individual will in pantheistic philosophy, and Southey’s fear of individual will being overwhelmed by Divine Will in the context of Islam. Coleridge’s theory that a naturalist philosophy leads to necessitarian fatalism, while a philosophy rooted in will opens up the liberating potential of will, Warren argues, illustrates his distinctive blurring of the distinction between the practice and the object of philosophy. My own chapter, ‘Immanence and Transcendence in Coleridge’s Orient’, also explores the influence of orientalism on Coleridge’s representations of the East, focusing specifically on the ways in which several of his early poems use ‘oriental’ settings remote from the more familiar parts of the East (such as India) as a means of escaping from the persistent conflict in his thought between a



pantheistic view (which he associated with Hinduism) and a Calvinistic emphasis on the impossibility of any direct intuition of the divine. While Coleridge recognized the similarities between Hinduism and Neoplatonism, I argue, he also criticized Hinduism for expressing intuitions of the infinite, despite the striking resemblances between such ideas and those expressed by Neoplatonic thinkers, as well as in many of his own writings. Though Coleridge thus fluctuates between pantheistic and Calvinist positions, however, ‘Kubla Khan’ and others of his early poems seek to reconcile these two positions, while also escaping the opposition between idealism and empiricism, by imagining worlds outside the space-time coordinates of more familiar regions, repeatedly stressing the creativity of consciousness, and hence the intrinsically spiritual nature of the surroundings which the subject perceives as existing objectively. Natalie Tal Harries’ chapter, ‘“The One Life Within Us and Abroad”: Coleridge and Hinduism’, also notes Coleridge’s fluctuation between enthusiasm for and criticism of Hindu thought, discussions of which were disseminated widely and influentially in the period. Coleridge, she notes, admired the work of Sir William Jones, Sir Charles Wilkins and the Royal Society of Bengal, and refers to Wilkins’s translation of The Bhagvat-Geeta (1785), Jones’s translation of The Institutes of Hindu Law, or the Ordinances of Menu (1794), Maurice’s History of Hindostan (1795) and Dubois’ Description of the Character, Manners, and Customs of the People of India (1817) in various of his works. Coleridge’s attitudes towards Hinduism, she argues, can be divided into three distinct periods, moving from the primarily positive to the predominantly critical, and her chapter explores the ways in which these shifting perspectives coincide with the changing religious and philosophical viewpoints expressed in Coleridge’s other writings, particularly tracing their influence on the ideas expressed in his poems – including ‘Religious Musings’, ‘The Pains of Sleep’, ‘Dejection: An Ode’ and ‘God’s Omnipresence: A Hymn’ – as well as in various passages of his letters and notebooks. Setsuko Wake-Naota’s chapter, ‘On Artistic Disinterestedness: Coleridge, Schopenhauer and Japanese Esoteric Buddhism Compared’, argues that Coleridge’s Kantian view of art as ideally producing a ‘disinterested satisfaction’ can be connected with his religious and moral emphasis on the power of individual will to follow conscience and Reason in opposition to selfish or material aims – a theory which also reflects the influence of Kant. This combination of aesthetic and moral theories, she further argues, notably resembles Schopenhauer’s description of the aim of art as being the forgetting of individuality and will in contemplation of an aesthetic idea. In both cases, free and conscious will is needed to overcome the selfish form of will associated with personal appetite,


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

and Schopenhauer’s connection of this artistic disinterestedness with the ideals of Hinduism and Buddhism as well as Christianity reveals important common ground between Coleridge’s theory of art and the ideals of Japanese Esoteric Buddhism – particularly as exemplified in the works of Kūkai (774–835) – which similarly emphasizes aesthetic experience of disinterestedness as the origin of sympathy or compassion. The chapters in Part Three, ‘“Kubla Khan” and Romantic Orientalism’, examine the ways in which Coleridge’s famously enigmatic poem reflects not only the orientalism of his age and its geopolitical context, but also his wide-ranging study of and reflections on oriental cultures, as well as the poem’s creation of a fictional oriental space which facilitates a liberation from space-time coordinates and a transcendence of the traditional opposition between the ideal or the mental and the empirical or material. First, Heidi Thomson’s chapter, ‘The Integral Significance of the 1816 Preface to “Kubla Khan”’, examines the way in which ‘Kubla Khan’ contrasts the earthly power of an historical ruler with an imaginative creativity whose strength is envisaged as rivalling that of the earthly ruler, connecting this with Coleridge’s distinction between the ‘Commanding Genius’ of a Napoleon and the ‘Absolute Genius’ of an outstanding poet or philosopher. These polarized forces of material and mental power, she argues, are held together in Coleridge’s poem through a distinctive structure resembling three overlapping circles, in which the two circles representing the earthly and imaginative realms are linked by a third circle representing the poet’s assertion of his authority over the text by means of the preface, and highlighting the poem’s implicit depiction of material and mental as two aspects of a single productive process. At the same time, however, this interrelation between the three parts of the poem highlights the dependence of its interpretation on a print rather than oral format, so that Coleridge’s distinctively modern use of textuality distinguishes his vision from the scene which it describes, implicitly displacing ‘oriental’ tyranny by means of the creative imagination. Secondly, Dometa Wiegand Brothers’ chapter, ‘The Mathematics of Dreams: The Psychological Infinity of the East and Geometric Structures in Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan”’, discusses the ways in which ‘Kubla Khan’ reflects Coleridge’s view of both natural landscapes and human creations (including works of art) as reflecting the creativity of consciousness, particularly arguing that the poem highlights related mathematical principles in the material world and in more abstract forms of consciousness. The purpose of the ‘exotic’ Eastern setting of this poem, she argues, is to assist its readers in detaching themselves from the familiar distinction between mental and material, so as to recognize more clearly



the analogous geometric patterns informing both the concrete and the rational. In contrast with the familiar interpretation of the poem as implying an idealist challenge to empiricist viewpoints, she argues, it can thus be reinterpreted as highlighting the analogous ‘complex systems’ of the mental and the material, by means of the exoticized Eastern space which challenges our presuppositions about reality. Finally, Kuri Katsuyama’s chapter, ‘“Kubla Khan” and British Chinoiserie: The Geopolitics of Chinese Gardens’, examines the poem in relation to contemporary accounts of the Chinese empire, including those arising from Britain’s unsuccessful trade negotiations with the country in the 1790s, arguing that the emphasis on oriental tyranny in George Staunton’s description of the emperor’s garden was reflected not only in Coleridge’s descriptions of the thirteenth-century emperor and his garden, but also in the imitation of Chinese designs in a variety of gardens and buildings associated with the British royal family from the 1790s to 1816. The interest in China revealed in these designs, she argues, reflected the wish of the Prince Regent (later King George IV) to represent the Hanoverian dynasty as powerful monarchs by drawing on the portrayal of tyrannical emperors in contemporary British accounts of China, and the oriental garden in ‘Kubla Khan’ thus refers indirectly to the British monarchy, which was itself supported by a repressive government that curtailed freedom of speech and of the press in response to events in France. Hence the radical Coleridge of the 1790s may have used his evocation of the Mongol empire to comment indirectly on the excessive imperialism and expansionism of Britain in this period, thus expressing a notably ambivalent interpretation of the contemporary fashion for chinoiserie.

Notes 1 See, for example, Leask (1992, pp. 8–18, 21, 26, 110–11) and Roberts (2006, pp. 42–4), the latter of whom notes the ‘radicalized Christian perspective’ implicit in Southey’s displacement of ‘Biblical language into Thalaba’s selective recovery of orientalist and Islamic motifs’. See also, however, Saree Makdisi’s fascinating exploration of Romanticism as a reaction against the ‘modernization’ which Britain sought to impose on a partly oriental empire perceived as improgressive (1998, pp. 9–10, 111–19). Blake’s vision of ‘Universal Empire’ as a menacing interaction of capitalism and imperialism under the governance of Urizen is, as Makdisi notes, distinctive among Romantic writings in the vigour of its critique of colonialism; and its potential relevancies to the Orient, as well as to the concrete circumstances





5 6

Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient of colonization, are explored in several of the essays in Clark and Suzuki (2006). See also Makdisi (1998, pp. 3, 18–21, 154–72) and Erdman (1969). See The Bhagvat-Geeta, 1785; also the chapters by David Vallins, Natalie Tal Harries and Setsuko Wake-Naota later in this volume. Said (1978, p. 78) argues that the aim of Jones’s scholarship was ‘to codify, to subdue the infinite variety of the Orient to “a complete digest” of laws, figures, customs, and works’, so as ‘to gather in, to rope off, to domesticate the Orient and thereby turn it into a province of European learning’. However, Saglia (2006, p. 167) points out that this view of Jones and other orientalists ‘is anything but . . . consensual’, while Fulford (2006, pp. 189–94) argues that Jones ‘studied Indian tradition in order both to facilitate colonial rule and because he was delighted by a culture that, in several respects, he thought superior to that of Britain’, and hence that ‘his Orientalism did not merely strengthen imperial authority nor solely move the so-called truth about the East to Europe. It also put that authority in question . . . by making European culture defer to Hindu.’ See also Fulford (2006, p. 190) on Jones’s influence on Coleridge, Southey and Shelley. Sedlar (1982, pp. 35–48) argues that the German thinkers who showed the greatest interest in and knowledge of Indian thought in this period were Friedrich Schlegel, F. W. J. Schelling and Arthur Schopenhauer. However, see also the discussions of Sir William Jones’s theories of Indian influence on ancient Greek thought and their relation to Coleridge’s visions of the Orient as unifying the concrete and visionary, and of Hindu influences on Coleridge’s poems, in the chapters by David Vallins and Natalie Harries later in this volume. See especially Tim Fulford’s discussion, in his chapter in this volume, of the relation of Southey’s Thalaba to contemporary British politics and society, as well as to Coleridge’s Christabel; also Leask (1992, pp. 108–18) on the domestic political meanings of Shelley’s The Revolt of Islam. Sedlar (1982, p. 37) points out that Friedrich Schlegel and several of his contemporaries tended to confuse the teachings of Hinduism with those of Buddhism, ‘regarding these very different thought-systems all as pantheistic’. Coleridge’s discussions of Eastern religions focus mainly on Hinduism; yet as Watts notes, Hinduism was in fact central to the origins of Buddhism, despite the absence of any theistic concept in the latter (Watts, 1999, pp. ix–x, 1–6, 19–22). See also Gethin (1998, pp. 133–9) on the way in which the Buddhist idea of ‘the meaninglessness of the “self ” apart from any particular experiences’ developed in response to the Hindu tradition in which ‘In the final analysis I am not something different from the underlying ground of the universe itself.’ See, for example, CN (vol. 4, 4737) and Lects 1818–19 (vol. 1, p. 431) on the similarities between Hindu and European forms of pantheism. See also Saglia (2006, p. 167) and Fulford (2006, pp. 189–94) on Jones’s interest in Hindu traditions for themselves, rather than solely as a branch of European learning.



7 Wilkins’s Introduction to his translation of The Bhagvat-Geeta, for example, states that ‘The most learned Brahmans of the present times are Unitarians according to the doctrines of Kreeshna’, and ‘believe but in one God, an universal spirit’ (1785, p. 24). See also Sedlar (1982, pp. 35–6, 42–9). 8 On the imperialist contexts of and influences on De Quincey’s attitudes towards the East see especially Barrell (1991, pp. 6–8, 13–15). 9 Coleridge’s discussions (mainly from 1818 onwards) of the similarities between Hinduism and Neoplatonism tend to criticize both for confusing the spiritual with the material, and for suggesting the possibility of a direct intuition of the divine (see CN, vol. 4, 4737 and Lects 1818–19, vol. 1, pp. 415, 431). The enthusiasm – especially in his earlier writings – for Neoplatonic thought from Plotinus to Schelling, however, suggests that these anxieties reflect the generally greater concern for theological orthodoxy in his later writings, and that – as Natalie Harries argues in this volume – his earlier writings reflect a far greater enthusiasm for pantheistic thought, whether of Hindu or European origin. 10 Berridge and Edwards (1981, p. 4), for example, notes that ‘between 1827 and 1869, between 80 and 90 per cent of opium imported into [Britain] was Turkish. Even at the end of the century, Turkish opium still had over 70 per cent of the market.’ 11 See Shaffer (1975, pp. 62–95); Leask (1992, pp. 208–28); Barrell (1991, pp. 5–8, 11, 13, 15–21) and Makdisi (1998, pp. 1–2, 10–11, 111–19). Peter Kitson’s chapter in this volume also particularly highlights the imagery of Asian despotism which became widespread in Romantic-period writings following Britain’s unsuccessful trade negotiations with China. 12 For this description of Christabel see Hamilton (1990, p. 1623). 13 On Coleridge’s early views about Mohammed, see Shaffer (1975, pp. 56–7).


‘Bid him bow down to that which is above him’: The ‘kowtow controversy’ and Representations of Asian Ceremonials in Romantic Literature Peter J. Kitson

This chapter will discuss the nineteenth-century British fascination with the Qing ritual of the ketou, variously anglicized as ‘ko-tou’ or ‘kowtow’, as represented in a number of key Romantic-period texts. James L. Hevia has convincingly argued that the Qing demand that foreign ambassadors to the imperial court perform the full imperial kowtow of the three kneelings and the nine knockings of the forehead came to be seen as metonymic of European relations with China in the nineteenth century and quite out of step with accepted norms of the sovereignty and equality of nations, derived from the Westphalian system, established in 1634 as a consequence of the bloody Thirty Years’ War between European nation states (Hevia, 2009, pp. 212– 34). Famously, the sixth President of the United Sates, John Quincy Adams, argued that the cause of the Anglo-Chinese War of 1839–42 was not opium which was ‘a mere incident to the dispute’, but ‘the kowtow – the arrogant and insupportable pretensions of China that she will hold commercial intercourse with the rest of mankind not upon terms of equal reciprocity, but upon the insulting and degrading forms of the relations between lord and vassal’ (quoted Gelber, 2007, p. 188). Yet as Hevia argues, ‘Britain went to war with China over diplomatic and commercial issues and the ketou became a kind of fetish object around which the great divide between China and the West, between archaic and modern civilizations, came to be represented’ (2009, p. 220). It was not  only Europeans who objected to the ceremony: derided by Chinese intellectuals of


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

the May Fourth and New Culture movements, the kowtow has become the key symbol of Asian despotism and remains a familiar jibe in contemporary popular speech. Yet the issue of the kowtow was never that simple, indeed the emperor would regularly and reverentially perform the full kowtow in person to the tablets of the non-divine Confucius. In a Confucian system where the harmony of body and mind was stressed, the act expressed in bodily practice the mental veneration of the participant for the subject, in this case the emperor. Kowtowing remains a part of Buddhist, Daoist and Confucian ceremonies. Europeans who view the ceremony as indicative of a lost, archaic, ritualistic and pre-modern polity as represented in, say, Bernardo Bertolucci’s magnificent The Last Emperor (1987), will also view with equanimity the sight of the Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer (played by the American actor Brad Pitt) and many others fervently kowtowing to the Dalai Lama in Seven Years in Tibet (1997). The kowtow was, and still is, a pan-Asian practice not confined to imperial China. This chapter is not concerned with the history of the ceremony in Ming and Qing guest ritual, or the formal paraphernalia of the Chinese tributary system, which has been extensively discussed elsewhere, but, rather, with the British discourse and rhetoric of the kowtow and Asian ceremonials of prostration in general. The kowtow, like infanticide, the sati, the lingchi or cannibalism, became a scandal in nineteenth-century British discourse, a marker of barbarism indicating a lack of civilization.

Ambassadors and emperors In a series of publications Hevia has argued that Europeans and Americans fetishized the kowtow placing the ceremonial in the context of a European discourse of humiliation and abasement familiar to them but entirely foreign to Chinese understandings: ‘after Said, it is difficult to reduce complex indigenous practices to the essences required for producing the classic binary oppositions of Orientalism’ (2009, p. 213). He details the complexity of the ceremony and its multiple meanings within a Confucian cosmology that did not expound the virtues of abject servitude, far from it. The kowtow was only one facet of the complex but routine ceremony of government. Europeans chose to read into the practice their own binaries of freedom and despotism, and servitude and independence. The origin of the debate lies in the European encounters with China from the sixteenth century onwards. Ming and Qing China arranged the

Asian Ceremonials in Romantic Literature


visits of European embassies in terms of their established system of tributary relations. Europeans with a different set of notions of international diplomacy, established by the Westphalian system were aware of Chinese practices and viewed the kowtow as a ceremony implying submission to the Chinese emperor rather than the sovereign equality that they were seeking to establish. Both forms of practice, as Hevia and David L. Porter have argued, were equally a product of the national and specific political and ceremonial discourses of their respective polities. The first British embassy to China of 1792–4, led by the highly experienced and urbane diplomat, George Viscount Macartney, was aware of and sensitive, to an extent, to the issue of the kowtow, and the imperial court were also understanding, to an extent, of British sensibilities. The full kowtow was dispensed with, after a period of prolonged negotiation, for the Macartney audience with the emperor at the Mountain Resort for Escaping Summer Heat (Bishu shanjuang) at Chengde of September 1793. Macartney formally negotiated a compromise by which he knelt on one knee before the emperor as he would before his sovereign George III, and bowed his head, delivering his letter from the king directly into the emperor’s hands. Significantly, Macartney had not rejected the ceremony out of hand, but had agreed to perform the full public kowtow if a Chinese official of equivalent rank agreed to perform the ceremony before a portrait of the British king, or if the emperor undertook to promise in writing that on a future occasion such an official if presented to the king would also perform the full ceremony. As Hevia has shown, rather than the Qing court insisting on an inflexible ceremony, it was willing, albeit reluctantly, to allow an altered version of the ceremony to take place both to accommodate British concerns and successfully (in Chinese terms) complete the visit. This was because it understood that the visit of a British embassy was unprecedented and needed bespoke handling (Hevia, 2009, p. 227). Macartney’s resistance to undertaking the full imperial kowtow then had nothing to do with the apparent ‘failure’ that the embassy was later charged with; indeed, Macartney and others always insisted that his embassy was very much a success in the larger sense. It was from the 15 or so accounts of the Macartney embassy that the British discourse of the kowtow and resistance to it emerged into British culture. In his Journal of the embassy, published by John Barrow in 1807, Macartney presents his refusal to kowtow as a success and an instance of the benefits of British firmness and rectitude. His act is gendered as masculine and characterized as essentially British at a time when, as Linda Colley has influentially argued, Britons were forging their own national identity, against those of other imagined


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

communities (Colley, 1994). Macartney’s Journal provides a detailed account of how the subject of the kowtow was carefully broached, promoted and, finally, altered for the British. Macartney comments on the introduction of the kowtow issues, ‘the subject of the Court ceremonies’ by the Chinese on 15 August. He argues that ‘whatever ceremonies were usual for the Chinese to perform, the Emperor would prefer my paying him the same obeisance which I did to my own Sovereign.’ Macartney stresses his ‘first duty’ as to ‘do what might be agreeable to my own King’ whose ‘dignity . . . must be the measure of my conduct’ (1962, pp. 84, 85, 100). On 10 September, Macartney records that the Chinese agreed to ‘adopt the English ceremony’ being willing to ‘kneel upon one knee only on those occasions when it was usual for the Chinese to prostrate themselves’ (1962, p. 119). Macartney is here keen to differentiate between kneeling on one knee and bowing, which he perceives to be a manly form of ceremonial, and kneeling on two knees which he describes as a foreign act of ‘prostration’, unacceptable to a British subject of His Majesty. Given the subsequent history of the kowtow controversy, Macartney’s Journal is very restrained and, while he notices how his Chinese minders are anxious and determined about the ceremony, he does not overemphasize its significance for him, putting it down as ‘a curious negotiation’ which provided him with ‘a tolerable insight into the character of this Court, and that political address upon which they so value themselves’ (1962, p. 119). He records that at the presentation he paid his compliments by ‘kneeling on one knee, whilst all the Chinese made their usual prostrations’, remarking that the impression given to him of the entire ceremony was ‘that of calm dignity, that sober pomp of Asiatic greatness, which European refinements have not yet attained’ (Macartney, 1962, pp. 122, 124). Macartney shows how the Qing court is flexible, arguing that the allegedly ‘immutable laws’ of the Chinese as instanced in ‘the ceremony in my own case’ are abrogated when necessary. He argues that such ‘ceremonies of demeanour’ are merely a ‘trick of behaviour’ and that once they have been thrown off, the Chinese are easy and familiar, engaging in free conversation as they are ‘naturally, lively, loquacious and good-humoured’ (Macartney, 1962, pp. 153–4, 222–3). Macartney shows no serious understanding of the semiotics of Qing guest ritual, but neither does he dismiss the Chinese as rigid, inflexible and antiquated. The emergence of the kowtow as a symbol of Asiatic alterity for Britons, however, begins to emerge more strongly in the other published accounts of the embassy. In 1792, James Gillray imaginatively depicted the reception of Macartney’s embassy at the Qing empire as one of submission before a heavily

Asian Ceremonials in Romantic Literature


orientalized and unpleasantly racialized depiction of the imperial court in his print, The Reception of the Diplomatique & His Suite at the Court of Pekin (Figure 1.1). Macartney kneels on one knee but the remainder of the embassy prostrate themselves absurdly in front of an unrecognizable version of the Qianlong emperor, promoting the very worst stereotypes of European orientalist imaginings. Gillray’s looking ahead to Macartney’s forthcoming participation in the ceremonial of the Chinese court clearly reads the event as an example of Chinese despotism and British folly, with the emperor requiring backhanded payments and the British bringing mere toys and ephemera in response. At the same time, Macartney’s refusal to kowtow indicates his unwillingness to participate in the tawdry ceremonial: a potent and prophetic iconography of the new British imaginings of the Asian ritual. Of course, Gillray was only positioning China within the much larger discourse of oriental despotism and prostration as applied to British politics. The discourse of the kowtow with its refusals, negotiations and compromises, was frequently played out in generalized oriental settings, Ottoman, Persian and Javan as this chapter will argue. Later George Cruikshank would present

Figure 1.1  James Gillray (1792), The Reception of the Diplomatique & His Suite at the Court of Pekin. London: H. Humphrey. © Trustees of the British Museum.


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

the reception of Lord Amherst to the Prince Regent at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton prior to his embassy’s embarkation for China in 1816 in very similar terms, in The Court at Brighton a la Chinese!! (1816). Here a corrupt and despotic Regent, hungry for expensive and exotic chinoiserie items requests Amherst to ‘get fresh patterns of Chinese deformities to finish the decoration of the Pavilion’ in return for bottles of claret, pornographic prints and novels, and portraits of the Regent. Here it is the royal family and ministers who are dressed as mandarins. In the public account of the embassy, officially authored by George Leonard Staunton, we can see the development of the kowtow into a more redolent symbol of China, than which it is ‘difficult to imagine an exterior mark of more profound humility and submission, or which implies a more intimate consciousness of the omnipotence of that being towards whom it is made’. The Account argues that the Chinese, despite the evidence of the embassy, are unable to discriminate between their obligations to the person of the emperor and those ‘of other nations or individuals . . . which are unbounded’. The Account details Macartney’s negotiations, imputing to him an awareness ‘of the tenaciousness of the Chinese court in exacting ceremonies, in which the humiliation on the one part, contributed, perhaps to render the embassies so grateful to the other’ (Staunton, 1797, vol. 2, pp. 129–30). The Account argues that, as the Chinese did not know the English well, then any ‘sacrifice of dignity’ would fail to impress them with their true character. Hence, Macartney determines on a ‘well-judged, courteous, but not abject, conduct’ with which to impress the Chinese in the face of the ‘unconditional compliance demanded by the Legate’ (Staunton, 1797, vol. 2, pp. 130–7). Similarly, the account of the comptroller of the embassy  – John Barrow’s rather self-serving Travels in China of 1804 – presents the kowtow as a symbol of both Chinese intransigence and China’s lack of progress. Barrow feels he must defend his erstwhile employer from the charge that his refusal to adopt an ‘unconditional compliance with all the humiliating ceremonies which the Chinese might have thought proper to extract from him’ would have led to a more favourable conclusion to the embassy (1804, p. 7). He argues that the willingness of the next European embassy, that of the Dutch led by van Braam in 1794–5, to ‘humiliate themselves at least thirty different times’ had led to no positive outcomes. Barrow questions what ‘advantages can reasonably be expected to accrue from a servile and unconditional compliance with the submissions required by this haughty government’ after ‘such a vile reception

Asian Ceremonials in Romantic Literature


and degrading treatment’. Indeed Barrow recalls how van Braam, a corpulent man, was subject to the laughter of the imperial court when his wig fell off in front of the emperor while undertaking the ceremonial (1804, pp. 10, 11, 13). Barrow argues that the Chinese treated the English with more respect than the Dutch because of ‘the character and independent spirit’ of the nation as well as its great power over which they cast ‘a jealous eye’. It was Macartney’s ‘manly and open conduct’, which affirmed this and his refusal to kowtow. Barrow writes of the profound effect of ‘the refusal of an individual to comply with the ceremonies of the country’ on the emperor and his court and how ‘greatly must their pride have been mortified’ (1804, pp. 17–18). In Barrow’s account the Qing court is presented as proud, haughty and insolent, never for a moment relaxing its rigid ‘long established customs’ except in the single case of the British. The lesson learnt by the Macartney embassy is clear, ‘a tone of submission, and a tame and passive obedience to the degrading demands of this haughty court, serve only to feed its pride, and add to the absurd notions of its own vast importance’ (Barrow, 1804, pp. 20–1, 24). In his review of Barrow’s Travels for the Annual Review of 1805, Robert Southey also explicitly locates the ‘failure’ of the embassy as stemming from the fact that ‘Lord Macartney had refused to perform the nine prostrations before the emperor’ (1805, p. 73). Barrow’s advice for dealing with Asiatic powers had become a virtual gospel by the time of the second British Embassy to China of Lord Amherst in 1816–17. By this time, relations between the two empires were becoming increasingly fraught as the balance of both trade and power shifted in favour of Britain and exports of Indian opium flooded the Chinese market in an attempt to replace silver as a means of paying for the huge volume of Chinese tea exports to Britain. Yet even in 1816, there is evidence that the Jiaqing emperor was willing to adapt the ceremony of the kowtow in an analogous manner to that practised by Macartney (Pritchard, 1943, pp. 173–4). Amherst’s instructions also directed him to conform ‘to all the ceremonies of that court’ which did not lessen his dignity or ‘commit the honour of your Sovereign’ (Staunton, 1824, p. xx). The diplomat, Sir Henry Ellis, while admitting the ceremony to be repugnant and signifying ‘oriental barbarism’ believed that it was a point of ‘etiquette’ that might have been complied with rather than sacrifice the entire objects of the embassy (1817, p. 151). Amherst also proposed to repeat his kneeling and bowing nine times as an extension of the Macartney compromise (Staunton, 1824, pp. 51–3). Yet zealous officers of the imperial court mismanaged the business on their side, leading to the dismissal of Amherst and his retinue and a great missed


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

opportunity to improve Sino-British relations. It is apparent, however, that there was still potential flexibility on both Chinese and British sides with regard to the performance of the ceremonial. In his Notes of Proceedings and Occurrences During the British Embassy to Pekin in 1816 (1824), George Thomas Staunton, who had accompanied Macartney as his page in 1792–4 along with his father, George Leonard Staunton, once more blamed the Chinese ceremonial for the failure of the mission, although his own inclusion had badly irritated the Chinese. Both Staunton and the Jiaqing Emperor were present at the reception of Macartney in 1793 and neither, in the intervening years, had formed much of a high opinion of the other. Staunton, considered by many as the leading British ‘China expert’ of the time, advised Amherst strongly against any compliance with the ceremony, on the same grounds as Barrow. The Amherst Embassy was disastrous; it was dismissed unseen by the Jiaqing Emperor and this rebuff was presented at home as an unforgivable snub. From the Chinese perspective the embassy was seen as botched, and the emperor publicly accepted blame for the misunderstandings his officials caused. Staunton was adamant that any retreat from the precedent of Macartney ‘would be a sacrifice of national credit and character; and as such would operate injuriously to the trade and interests of the East-India Company at Canton’ (1824, pp. 31, 662). Barrow reviewed the narratives of the Amherst embassies in two substantial articles for the Quarterly Review for 1817, bringing home to the British public the vexed issue of the kowtow. He argued that the stakes were extremely high, as it was on the ‘refusal or compliance with this degrading and humiliating demand’ that ‘England must continue to maintain, in the eyes of this haughty government, that high rank and independent spirit for which she had hitherto been known to them, or set the seal of vassalage to her submission, and be registered among the number of their petty tributaries’ (Barrow, 1817, pp. 408, 412). To those at home who criticized Amherst’s foolish pride in refusing to undertake the ceremony, Barrow claims that ‘it was this kind of pride, which, in the early days of England’s history raised her reputation in foreign courts, gained for her commerce substantial advantages, and made her alliance an object of solicitude’ (1817, pp. 33, 476). Throughout these narratives and their reception, the British emphasized virtues such as dignity, respect, firmness and manliness, and described the ceremony as abject, offensive, humiliating, disgusting and debasing. They understood that this was a clash between an open, brave and manly British character and a haughty, arrogant and insolent Chinese ‘character’.

Asian Ceremonials in Romantic Literature


Romantic refusals The controversy over the kowtow entered British culture in the early nineteenth century in various forms, some open and some disguised. It seeped into the nation’s wider understanding of ceremonial prostrations before despotic Asiatic courts. Clearly early nineteenth-century Britons objected strenuously to the idea of ritual prostration, and the kowtow became the symbol of that abhorrent behaviour to be used in various oriental and domestic contexts. In this section of the chapter I will discuss some examples of this practice in Romantic-period writing that, I argue, are related, loosely or otherwise, to the issue of the kowtow and Asian ceremonies of prostration more widely. There is a long-standing Enlightenment tradition that typified China as a despotism, running from Montesquieu to Volney and beyond. Montesquieu typified China as a despotic government in his L’esprit des lois (1748) and Volney regarded the empire as the Asian despotism par excellence ‘held in awe by strokes of the bamboo, enslaved by the immutability of their code, and by the irremediable vice of their language . . . an abortive civilization and a race of automata’ (1792, p. 119). John Thelwall, in The Rights of Nature (1796), reminds his readers ‘that the despotisms of China, and Japan (despotisms in which that prompt conductor and disseminator of truth, the press, is yet unknown), did, by nipping Christianity in the very bud . . . exterminate that religion’ (p. 75). In 1795, the young dissenter, S. T. Coleridge criticized the repressive measures of the government of Pitt by recalling how ‘in some eastern courts the Ambassadors from Europe have their arms pinioned while they speak to the Despot.’ George III’s ministers ‘faithful to despotism, intend to improve on the  hint’ (Lects 1795, p. 294). Coleridge was not writing about China, but given that Pitt wants to ‘improve’ on this practice, the full imperial kowtow of Macartney’s recent embassy might have been in his mind. In ‘Religious Musings’ (1794–6), Coleridge employs the image of the ‘Simoon’, the desiccating wind famously described in James Bruce’s Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile (1790) as ‘emblematical of the pomp & powers of despotism’ (2004, p. 29n). Coleridge claims that present-day Europe is Fitliest depictur’d by some sun-scorcht waste, Where oft majestic thro’ the tainted noon The SIMOON sails, before whose purple pomp Who falls not prostrate dies! (‘Religious Musings’, ll. 280–2; Coleridge, 2004, p. 29)


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

Although in his radical poetry of this period, Coleridge’s exemplar of the most egregious despot, oriental or otherwise, is characteristically the recently deceased female empress, Catherine II of Russia, rather than the Chinese emperor, the symbol of the simoon effectively evokes the discourse of the kowtow and that of the rituals of oriental prostration more generally. Coleridge’s most famous literary work about an oriental despot is, of course, ‘Kubla Khan’, possibly composed in the same year, 1797, as the Macartney embassy accounts. Nigel Leask in 1998 situated the poem in that context arguing that, read against the long-standing debates surrounding the ‘Anglo-Chinese garden’, the poem is a Unitarian dissenting work attacking the orientalized British despotism of George III. Locating the topography of ‘Kubla Khan’ in the accounts of the Chinese gardens visited by the embassy, Leask claims that Coleridge is indirectly satirizing George III’s government for constructing a sublime of terror to enforce political obedience. In Romantic Literature, Race and Colonial Encounter (2007), I further argued that ‘Kubla Khan’ enacted a racial discourse of China and Tartary, associating the Qianlong emperor with Kublai Khan via the Macartney embassy accounts. Now although the kowtow does not figure in the poem, the Emperor Kubla’s unanswerable decreeing of the pleasure-dome implies, perhaps, a compensatory kowtow from those many invisible agents in the poem who actually construct the dome. The ‘holy dread’ that the inspired poet/prophet awakens in his implied audience, though usually located in Plato’s Ion, might just as easily be associated with the frame of mind expected from those participating in the quasi-mystical guest ritual of the kowtow (‘Kubla Khan’, ll. 1–2, 49–52; Coleridge, 2004, pp. 182–3). The simoon, the emperor and ritual prostration form a symbolic nexus in the mind of the young radical. The British objection to the kowtow is also seen in the second generation of Romantic writers. The liberal editor Leigh Hunt’s essay ‘The Subject of Breakfast Continued  – Tea-drinking’ (1834), employing the motif of the blue and white willow pattern, alludes directly to the experience of the embassies in its description of ‘that extraordinary people, of whom Europeans know little or nothing, except that they sell us this preparation’ and ‘bow back again our ambassadors’. Hunt repeats a generalized understanding of China drawn from the accounts of the empire deriving from the Macartney and Amherst embassies. The Chinese he claims ‘have a language of only a few hundred words, gave us China-ware and the strange pictures on our tea-cups, made a certain progress in civilization long before we did, mysteriously stopped at it and would go no further’. He comments on ‘their trifling edicts, their jealousy of foreigners, and

Asian Ceremonials in Romantic Literature


their tea-cup representations of themselves’ (Hunt, 1834, p. 113). Hunt, a key figure in the liberal opposition to government in the 1820s, dismisses China as a despotic, inflexible and isolationist polity. Similarly, in key works by both Shelley and Byron some form of bodily or psychological prostration before a real or imagined tyrant becomes symbolic of a peculiarly British reading of freedom and liberty. A hellenistic Percy Shelley had made the point in the Preface to Hellas in which he argues that but ‘for Greece – Rome, the instructor, the conqueror or the metropolis of our ancestors, would have spread no illumination with her arms, and we might still have been savages and idolaters; or, what is worse, might have arrived at such a stagnant and miserable state of social institution as China and Japan possess’ (2002, p. 431). In his The Mask of Anarchy (1820) prostration is identified with submission. Faced with Anarchy and his troop, the lawyers and priests To the earth their pale brows bowed; Like a bad prayer not over loud, Whispering – ‘Thou art Law and God.’ – (The Mask of Anarchy, ll. 67–9; Shelley, 2002, p. 318)

Anarchy here is presented as an oriental despot before whom followers prostrate themselves. In front of Anarchy ‘the prostrate multitude’ glimpse Hope, the maiden, walking with ‘a quiet mien’ but ‘ankle deep in blood’ (The Mask of Anarchy, ll. 126–9; Shelley, 2002, p. 320). Hope tells the multitude that slavery is . . . to be a slave in soul And to hold no strong control Over your own wills, but be All that others make of ye. (The Mask of Anarchy, ll. 184–7; Shelley, 2002, p. 321)

While resistance to both metaphorical and bodily abasement and humiliation are clearly an informing context for Shelley’s politics, other elements of the discourse of the kowtow, such as negotiation and compromise, are not present in these scenes of ritual prostration. Byron’s tragedy Manfred, composed in 1816 and published the following year, presents a more detailed examination of the ceremony in at least two important moments in this substantial work. Although written too early to be directly influenced by the accounts of the Amherst embassy its composition during the time of the embassy argues that Byron might well


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

have had China in mind when writing. The Second Act of this tragedy presents an apocalyptic confrontation with the European counter-revolution in which the spirit of Nemesis is engaged with ‘repairing shattered thrones . . . restoring dynasties’ as ‘mortals dared to ponder for themselves . . . and to speak of freedom, the forbidden fruit’ (Manfred, Act II, scene iii, ll. 62–71; Byron, 1980–93, vol. 4, p.  80). Byron chooses to stage the crucial dramatic confrontation between Manfred and Arimanes as an encounter between a free-spirited European and an Asiatic despot over the issue of ritual prostration. This encounter, between the Swiss magus and the Persian god, I argue, is a displaced version of the Sino-British kowtow controversy. Arimanes, ‘Sovereign of Sovereigns!’, a personification of the Manichean principle of evil, is described in a parody of the kinds of language used to describe the Son of Heaven in British discourse about China. The Second Destiny acts like a Chinese mandarin stating that, ‘we who bow / The necks of men, bow down before his throne’ (Manfred, Act II, scene iv, ll. 20–1; Byron, 1980–93, vol. 4, p. 81). Immediately Manfred approaches the fiery throne of Arimanes he is repeatedly commanded by the spirits to ‘Bow down and worship!’ in the same way that the Chinese mandarins were described as exhorting Macartney in 1793 and Amherst in 1816 to perform the kowtow. Manfred is called a ‘slave’ who must ‘Prostrate thyself and thy condemned clay!’ (Manfred, Act II, scene iv, ll. 29–34; Byron, 1980–93, vol. 4, p. 81). He refuses to kowtow to Arimanes, to kneel and prostrate himself before the demon; a process he associates with a form of humiliation that is acceptable only within a personal context of guilt and remorse: ’Tis taught already; many a night on the earth On the bare ground have I bowed down my face And strewed my head with ashes. I have known The fullness of humiliation. (Manfred, Act II, scene iv, ll. 38–41; Byron, 1980–93, vol. 4, p. 82)

Humiliation is not, necessarily, a bad thing, just the context in which it occurs. Manfred’s crucial response to Arimanes’ court is similar to that of the Protestant British brought-up with a horror of idolatry: Bid him bow down to that which is above him, The overruling Infinite, the Maker Who made him not for worship; let him kneel, And we will kneel together. (Manfred, Act II, scene iv, ll. 46–9; Byron, 1980–93, vol. 4, p. 82)

Asian Ceremonials in Romantic Literature


What is seldom pointed out is that Manfred’s response to Arimanes’ ministers and courtiers is not to reject the required prostration out of hand, but, rather like Macartney and Amherst, to agree to carry out the ceremony but only on certain conditions of reciprocity. Macartney and Amherst would kowtow providing a Chinese official of equal rank would kowtow to a portrait of George III, or in response to an imperial edict to the effect that future Chinese ambassadors would carry out the full ceremony at the British court. Manfred’s offered compromise with power, for such it is, is one that stresses equality and reciprocity, but one that Arimanes cannot make. Instead, impressed by the manly and exceptional conduct of Manfred, he agrees to ‘avouch the wishes of this mortal’. Once more a firm and steadfast refusal to indulge in the degrading and humiliating Asian ceremonial results in an increase in respect and agency. After his encounter with the phantom of Astarte, Manfred is seen to ‘[master] himself ’. Arimanes’ powers are, like the Qing emperors’, circumscribed; he has not the power to compel the phantom of Astarte to speak to Manfred. She ‘belongs to the other powers’. Whether intended or otherwise, Manfred’s confrontation with Arimanes is strongly reminiscent of the British accounts of their disputes with the Qing court over the issue of the kowtow in terms of its staging and symbolism (Manfred, Act II, scene iv, ll. 80–1, 115–16, 159; Byron, 1980–93, vol. 4, p. 86). The action of prostration recurs in the harem sections of the fifth canto of Byron’s Don Juan. In this canto the eunuch Baba buys Juan in a slave market for the pleasure of the Sultana Gulbayaz. He then insists that Juan dress as a woman, threatening him with castration if he fails to comply. On being presented to the Sultana, Juan is commanded to kiss her foot: Baba, when all the damsels were withdrawn, Motion’d to Juan to approach, and then A second time desired him to kneel down, And kiss the Lady’s foot; which maxim when He heard repeated, Juan with a frown Drew himself up to his full height again, And said, ‘It grieved him, but he could not stoop To any shoe, unless it shod the Pope.’ (Don Juan, Canto V, ll. 809–16; Byron, 1980–93, vol. 5, p. 273)

In this scene where Juan, a man dressed as a woman, is requested to prostrate himself before a woman acting as a man by a eunuch who threatens to castrate him, very complex issues are raised about gender, nation, religion and identity. In the face of such pressure, Juan finally reasserts his masculinity, drawing himself


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

up ‘to his full height again’, and refusing to stoop to kiss any shoe, unless that of the Pope. Juan thus is technically willing to perform the ceremony, but only on the condition that the honoured party be the spiritual leader of his own religion. Despite Baba’s threats to bowstring him (a familiar Chinese and Ottoman mode of execution), Juan ‘would not bend’ (l. 826), but maintains straight back and mind. Faced with this firm resolution, Baba backs down and proposes the now familiar Macartney compromise of an alternative version of the ceremony, here kissing the hand rather than the foot. For Juan, this . . . was an honourable compromise, A half-way house of diplomatic rest, Where they might meet in much more peaceful guise[.] (Don Juan, Canto V, ll. 833–6; Byron, 1980–93, vol. 5, p. 245)

Juan’s firm resistance to the prostration and foot-kissing leads to a renegotiation of the form of the ceremony to one that is acceptable and which conforms to the customs of his nation. The ceremony is thus accomplished after negotiation and ‘compromise’ leading to ‘diplomatic rest’ has occurred, as it was at Chengde in 1792 but not at Beijing in 1817. Edward Said notably situated Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814) in the context of the debates about transatlantic slavery featuring Sir Thomas’s involvement with his estates in Antigua (1994, pp. 95–115). One could argue, however, that the informing colonial and commercial contexts of Mansfield Park are as much China, opium and tea, as the Caribbean, sugar and slavery. Jane Austen’s brother, Frank, served with the Royal Navy at Canton (Guangzhou) in 1809–10, charting the South China coast, and becoming embroiled in a local disturbance there that allegedly ended with the British killing of a Chinese man. In a letter to Admiral Drury, Frank wrote angrily about the Chinese management of the incident: ‘A mandarin is not a reasoning animal, nor ought to be treated as a rational animal’, he spluttered (Hubback, 1906, pp. 28, 218–20). Frank also acted as an East India Company agent in China and benefited substantially from private trading in that capacity. Returning from his China voyage, Frank was henceforth able to enjoy what David Nokes describes as a ‘life of relative prosperity’, standing ‘no longer in fear of poverty for himself and his family’ (Nokes, 1997, pp. 373, 361–2, 371–3). Peter Knox-Shaw has argued that in Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814), Fanny Price’s refusal to accept the domestic despotism of her Aunt Norris or, in milder form, that of Sir Thomas Bertram, is reminiscent of the kowtow controversy of

Asian Ceremonials in Romantic Literature


the Macartney embassy. Knox-Shaw, Maaja A. Stewart and Joseph Lew have all located the novel in the context of the embassy and the kowtow controversy (Stewart, 1993). Lew, for instance, argues that ‘Macartney teaches Fanny to recognize that a usually kind and indulgent despot, is still a despot’ (1994, p. 293). Susan Allen Ford has extended the scope of enquiry to include the larger discourse of China that Fanny would have encountered in her reading of ‘Macartney’, including the treatment of women and the extensive discourse concerning Chinese landscape gardening and its impact on contemporary British practice, and the central action of gift exchange (Ford, 2008). Significantly, Fanny Price is interrupted in the East Room, during her reading of what is usually identified as Macartney’s ‘Journal of the Embassy’, published in the second volume of John Barrow’s Some Account of the Public Life and a Selection from the Unpublished Writings, of the Earl of Macartney (1807). It is suggested that volume is a ‘great’ or large folio volume. Edmund identifies the volume as dealing with Macartney’s embassy and the supposition is that the ambassador’s name must appear on the title page of the volume, as Edmund is not really interested in what Fanny is reading but, as always, has Mary Crawford on his mind. The interruption is occasioned when Edmund informs Fanny that Mary Crawford has now persuaded him to take part in the amateur dramatics: ‘. . . If Tom is up, I shall go to him directly and get it over; and when we meet at breakfast we shall be all in high good humour at the prospect of acting the fool together with such unanimity. You, in the meanwhile, will be taking a trip into China, I suppose. How does Lord Macartney go on?’ – (opening a volume on the table and then taking up some others.) . . . He went; but there was no reading, no China, no composure for Fanny. He had told her the most extraordinary, the most inconceivable, the most unwelcome news; and she could think of nothing else. To be acting! After all his objections – objections so just and so public! After all that she had heard him say, and seen him look, and known him to be feeling. Could it be possible? Edmund so inconsistent. Was he not deceiving himself? Was he not wrong? Alas! it was all Miss Crawford’s doing. (Austen, 2003, p. 123)

Knox-Shaw argues suggestively that the narrative of Macartney’s resistance to the kowtow is the informing context of Mansfield Park, a novel in which the politics of resistance and inducement are central (1996, p. 215). This theme is also represented in Fanny’s resistance to the urging of Sir Thomas that she accept the marriage proposal of Henry Crawford. Fanny refuses, symbolically at


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

least, to kowtow before the domestic despotism of her Aunt Norris, or the more subtly despotic paternal authority of Sir Thomas Bertram. Edmund’s submission to the Crawfords’ plan is highlighted in Mary’s comment that she never ‘knew such exquisite happiness’ until she witnesses Edmund’s ‘sturdy spirit bend as it did!’ Mary, like the Sultana Gulbayaz, delights in exerting a masculine and orientalized authority over her chosen subject or slave and witnessing him ‘bend’ before her. This moment was ‘sweet beyond words’ to her (Austen, 2003, p. 142). Fanny thus is also now obliged to participate in the drama Lovers’ Vows despite her sensitivities to the decorum of the action. Finally, the kowtow features more directly in the musical melodrama The Laws of Java by the popular British playwright George Colman the younger, first performed on 11 May 1822 at the Theatre Royal Covent Garden. The action of the drama features the legendary poisonous upas tree and is set against the backdrop of early eighteenth-century Java involving characters of the royal court of Mataram, a father and son from Makassar, Dutch East India Company (VOC) officers, soldiers and a travel writer from Oxford, Mr Anarcharsis Pengoose. In its time the play was highly influential and was responsible for the popularization of the myth of the upas tree which poisons all around it for miles (Cohen, 2009, pp. 87–110). In the drama the Emperor of Java has kidnapped the young and beautiful Zaide for his harem. Her husband, Parbaya, is caught attempting to rescue her and sentenced by the Emperor to death. Under an ancient ‘law of Java’, his only chance of reprieve is if he will attempt to visit the upas tree and return with its poison. This is a virtual death sentence, as the tree’s deadly fumes kill any living thing approaching near it. Parbaya agrees to undertake the quest but before he nears the tree another returning convict already bearing the poison drops down dead in front of him. He is thus able to take this poison and return to the imperial court where his death sentence is suspended at the insistence of the high priest, and he is finally reunited with Zaide. The play depicts the VOC as completely corrupt and rapacious, insinuating itself into power by unmanly fawning and flattery of the despotic Javan emperor. As the young Dutch ingénue Hans Gayvelt comments to his uncle, the Dutch commander Major Van Glozen: HANS. Well, then, Major Van Glozen, or what you please, all I say is, that, if this be your school of policy, I have no ambition to become a pupil. VAN GLOZ. You have’nt? HANS. No; if you brought me over here, to accomplish me for the game you have been describing; to embroil a parcel of poor half-savages, in return for

Asian Ceremonials in Romantic Literature


their hospitality, – to crawl at their feet, while I am fettering their hands, – to aggravate the baseness of treachery, by the meanness of fawning, – you’ll find me the dullest scholar, that ever came in to your seminary. (Colman, 1822, p. 12)

It is clear that Colman’s depiction of the strategies of the VOC in establishing itself at Java, and then setting the various kingdoms against each other to effect its own rule, is a disguised satire on the tactics of the British East India Company and its policy in Bengal. Here European prostration before the oriental despot leads not to slavery but power over him and his people. Van Glozen thus presents himself at court enthusiastically performing a full prostration, much to the embarrassment of Hans: VAN GLOZ. Hail mighty Emperor! Sapient as powerful, and good as great, I kiss your garment’s hem? (prostrates himself ) HANS. (aside.) Oh, curse his cringing! EMPEROR. Once, and again, I greet you; for your sword Defend me, while I profit by your counsel; And double service claims a double welcome. HANS. (aside) Yes, – Nunk’s a double dealer, that is certain. VAN GLOZ. I do my best; – can fight upon occasion; – But mere dry blows, so please your Majesty, Ensure no lasting safety for your Empire. EMPEROR. That lesson you have taught me good Van Glozen; And, therefore, do I take you to my bosom; Make you the Steersman of my State, and shape My course by your direction. HANS. (aside) And he’ll run Your ship aground, to cheat you of the cargo. (Colman, 1822, p. 19)

Van Glozen now presents his nephew Hans to court for the first time. In what is clearly another rehearsal of the kowtow controversy of Macartney and Amherst, Hans refuses to undertake the full prostration, but performs the action in ‘his own manner’ by going down on one knee only, in the manner of Macartney. His behaviour shocks both his uncle and the emperor. After all, the audience knows that the Dutch in the person of Ambassador van Braam had no problem


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

with performing the full kowtow before the Qing emperor in 1795, humiliating themselves and becoming a laughing stock into the bargain. VAN GLOZ. Nephew, – the Emperor Commands you to do homage. (Handing him over to the Emperor) Mind you bow! Down to the ground, you rascal! (apart.) HANS. I shall do it in my own way. (apart.) A little dumb show here, between the Uncle & Nephew. HANS kneels on one knee to the Emperor. VAN GLOZ. (While HANS is kneeling.) My nephew, Sir, is raw, Unused to forms at Court; and somewhat daunted In so august a presence. EMPEROR. Rise, young man (HANS rises.) Your Uncle’s credit with me, is your passport To my protection; – and we must advance you. VAN GLOZ. (apart.) Bow – bow again: – Confound him, he’s as stiff As a Dutch kitchen-poker! EMPEROR. In due time Your judgement will be ripen’d; – Say, – if, then, I should require your counsel, would you give it With a true heart? HANS. That duty I should owe To my own honor, Sir: those Counsellors, Who, like hollow friends, my Uncle speaks of, Abuse a Monarch’s confidence, forget, In wronging him, how they debase themselves. VAN GLOZ. (aside.) A sneering coxcomb! that’s a fling at me! (Colman, 1822, pp. 20–1)

In Colman’s Java, the dynamics of the kowtow are played out once more. The register of Hans’ manliness and honesty is his refusal to prostrate himself and to bend before an Eastern potentate. Like Manfred and Juan, though not Edmund, he remains ‘as stiff as a Dutch kitchen-poker’ in the face of Eastern tyranny. The

Asian Ceremonials in Romantic Literature


emperor is presented as a stereotypically cruel and corrupt Asian despot who keeps his harem jealously and engages in slavery. As Parbaya claims: The Haram is a temple consecrate To your voluptuous tyranny, and rapine: ’Tis there the pirate, and the harden’d drudge, Who, scarcely human, trades in human kind, Transfer their helpless merchandise, to cloy The throned monopolist of loathing beauty. Thither I ventured; – and know ’tis death To violate that seat of violation. (Colman, 1822, p. 23)

A sympathetic Van Glozen refuses to intervene to aid Parbaya at his nephew’s request, pleading in justification the inadvisability of so doing, ‘How am I to persuade a barbarian out of his revenge for an amorous disappointment? I might as well invite a Hyena to drink tea’ (Colman, 1822, p. 36). Only the manly British drink tea (from China) and forgo revenge. In the courts and swamps of Java the now familiar story of the kowtow and its refusal is enacted once again in Colman’s popular melodrama. The East is a place of despotism and tyranny, a place of extremes of human behaviour. As Van Glozen comically puts it, ‘Plague on these eastern countries! – everything is in the extreme of the luxurious and the horrible; – all sunshine and earthquakes, – wealth and volcanoes: – pineapples in the hedge, and serpents under ’em; – sultans, slavery, groves, tigers, beauties, and bow strings!  – Oh Fortune! send me home, to Holland, with riches, and let me enjoy them in elegance, by the side of a ditch, with the tranquillity of a Dutchman!’ (Colman, 1822, p. 85). The typology of British anxieties about oriental despotism is thus belied by the strong and ingrained domestic discourse of public humiliation, which is then exported onto the Qing ceremonial. The Asian ceremony of the kowtow is thus singled out, overdetermined and fetishized by the British, and replayed in various forms and situations. With its staples of demands, refusals, negotiations, compromises and successes, the British discourse of the kowtow is situated within the larger context of the orientalized Asian ceremonial, perhaps, in the end, telling us more about the concerns, anxieties and manners of the British themselves than the peoples onto whom they exported their singular and recurrent reading of this ceremony of ritual prostration.


The ‘dark tide of time’: Coleridge and William Hodges’ India Deirdre Coleman

For Elinor Shaffer ‘all of Asia is present in one spot’ in Coleridge’s ‘Kubla Khan’; ‘all realism whatsoever about locations and distances falls away’ (1975, p. 165). Thus she dismisses John Livingston Lowes’ The Road to Xanadu (1927) as a ‘wrong-headed book’ which ought to be consigned to the ‘needle-work class’ of literary criticism (Shaffer, 1975, pp. 8–9). Ten years later, in The Romantic Ideology: A Critical Investigation (1983) Jerome McGann followed a similar track, reading ‘Kubla Khan’ as a work of mythopoeic transformations which displaced into symbolic forms all ‘immediate historical and social points of reference’. This was entirely in accord with the process by which Romantic writers perpetuate ‘the supreme illusion of the trans-historical privilege of poetry and the creative imagination’ (McGann, 1983, pp. 101, 136). At around the same time, John Beer, in his essay ‘The Languages of “Kubla Khan”’, poked fun at the poem’s hazy geography, noting the oddity of what he called the poem’s superpositions: the fact that ‘a Greek river is flowing through a Tartar landscape, with an Abyssinian maid somewhere in the background’ (1985, p. 220). Of course, the haziness is what we expect of a dream landscape, one which flickers between the literal and the mythical. The terrain of ‘Kubla Khan’ is mystical, a ‘sacred geometry’ rather than a geography (to use Shaffer’s terms), and yet it is also strangely empirical. As Shaffer herself concedes, despite the lack of realism in the poem’s locations and distances, there is a precise ‘placing’ everywhere in the poem: ‘In Xanadu’; ‘Where Alph, the sacred river ran’; ‘there were gardens’; ‘here were forests’; ‘Down’; ‘amid’. Even the shadow of the dome – the dome’s double – is marked by both precision and imprecision: it floats and


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

yet it is placed exactly ‘midway on the waves’ (Shaffer, 1975, p. 165). Here is specificity – ‘midway on the waves’ – and yet the waves are in constant motion; the dome’s shadow is, in other words, subject to wider flows and networks of meaning. Since the 1980s, the poem’s odd specificity has led critics to focus on a number of different topographies. In Romantic Literature, Race, and Colonial Encounter (2007), Peter Kitson selected Tartary, a geographically imprecise and ‘liminal space, a place of Orientalist fantasy for the projection of desires and fears’ (2007, p. 195). Kitson uses William Jones’s essay ‘On the Tartars’, almost certainly read by Coleridge, to demonstrate a shared language of sublimity revolving around fire and ice, ‘gardens, groves, and meadows’, and ‘forests almost impenetrable’ (2007, p. 196). Nigel Leask’s search for a geopolitical context takes him to the two oriental settings of China and Abyssinia. Two travelogues published in the 1790s support his case: James Bruce’s epic Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile (1790) and Sir George Staunton’s An Authentic Account of an Embassy from the King of Great Britain to the Emperor of China . . . Taken from the Papers of . . . the Earl of Macartney (1797). Chinese affairs and Chinese gardens were very much ‘in the news’, Leask claims, concluding that there is no avoiding the ‘most obvious, literal fact that “Kubla Khan” is a poem about the garden of a Chinese emperor’ (1998, p. 7). But if Staunton’s account of Britain’s failed diplomatic mission to China brought that part of Asia into view, then how much more visible was India during Edmund Burke’s dramatic and long-standing assault on Warren Hastings? This chapter aims to shift current geopolitical readings of ‘Kubla Khan’ to India by looking briefly at the Hastings trial, then at Coleridge’s loss of two brothers in India in the British wars of conquest. Coleridge’s close reading throughout the 1790s of the Orientalist scholarship going forward in Calcutta under the aegis of the Asiatic Society, and his later conflation of Britain’s wars against the Moghul empire with the anti-Napoleonic war effort, also reflect a keen and ongoing engagement with India. The chapter is, however, principally concerned to argue for the possible influence of William Hodges. There are reasons for believing that Coleridge was familiar with Hodges’ work on India, and that the artist’s textual and visual evocation of the decline and fall of empire resonated with his own anxieties about Britain’s new empire in the East – anxieties which can, in turn, be heard in ‘Kubla Khan’. The Hastings trial, which lasted seven years, from 1788–95, raised many questions about the legality and morality of empire. In his poem ‘Expostulation’,

Coleridge and William Hodges’ India


composed in early 1788, William Cowper addresses his concerns to Hastings; or perhaps the questions he poses are more general, addressed to the nation itself: Hast thou, though suckl’d at fair freedom’s breast, Exported slav’ry to the conquer’d East, Pull’d down the tyrants India serv’d with dread, And rais’d thyself, a greater, in their stead, Gone thither arm’d and hungry, returned full, Fed from the richest veins of the Mogul, A despot big with pow’r obtain’d by wealth, And that obtain’d by rapine and by stealth? With Asiatic vices stor’d thy mind, But left their virtues and thine own behind, And having truck’d thy soul, brought home the fee, To tempt the poor to sell himself to thee? (1995, vol. 1, p. 306, ll. 234–45)

As the public came to see it, if the British were the new Moghuls of India, had they substituted for oppression a benign regime, one which protected rather than oppressed the people? Or were they, as Cowper feared, even greater tyrants than those they had overthrown? The rise and fall of empire – the fear that Britain might sink under the weight of her imperial crimes, like Tyre or Egypt – is a key motif in ‘Kubla Khan’. It is also at the heart of William Bowles’s ‘The Spirit of Discovery’, a poem in process when Coleridge visited his poetic idol in the fall of 1797, one of the three most likely dates for his composition of ‘Kubla Khan’ (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 509). Bowles speculates as to how . . . the dark tide of time might one day close, England, o’er thee, as long since it has clos’d On Aegypt and on Tyre: that ages hence, From the Pacifick’s billowy loneliness, Whose tract thy daring search reveal’d, some isle Might rise in green-haired beauty eminent, And like a goddess, glimmering from the deep, Hereafter sway the sceptre of domain From pole to pole; and such as now thou art, Perhaps New-Holland be . . . (1804, book 3, p. 111, ll. 2–11)


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

That Coleridge shared the anxieties of poets such as Cowper and Bowles can be seen in his dire predictions of the fall of Britain on account of its imperial ruthlessness. In 1803, for instance, he groaned about the ‘awful Times’ inflicted by a ‘retributive Providence’ in vengeance for ‘our horrible Iniquities in the W. India Islands & on the coasts of Guinea’ (CL, vol. 2, p. 1006). Britain would, he prophesized, fall as surely as Rome had done before the Huns. There was, in William Hodges’ words, a long-standing ‘intimate connexion’ between England and India, a connection forged by the country’s legendary wealth which had, of course, lured many to travel and settle there. But as Hodges points out in his preface to Travels in India (1793), this ‘intimate connexion’ often stirred mixed emotions in the Englishman, with India either ‘the residence or the grave of some of his dearest friends’ (p. iii). Within the first twenty years of Coleridge’s life, between 1772 and 1792, India was to prove both the residence and the grave of two enlisted brothers. The first to die was his eldest brother John, who sailed for India in 1770. His death in 1787, in Tillicherry, Kerala, appears to have been a suicide, brought on by debt, depression and illness (Engell, 1994, p. 104). John never met his young brother Sam but what he learnt about him in family letters prompted him to suggest in 1785 that he be sent out to him as a cadet at the India House. That Coleridge was destined for India can be seen in his family’s repeated attempts to enlist him in the military, with a certain General Goddard assigned the task after the death of Coleridge’s father in 1781 (Engell, 1994, p. 73). Given his family’s future plans for him, the young Coleridge no doubt paid attention to the letters arriving in Ottery from his brothers. There is one letter from John which arrived in 1775 from Monghyr, on the Ganges, and it has been suggested by Engell that the imagery may have influenced ‘Kubla Khan’: ‘About 2 miles from the garrison there is a Hotwell in which the water continually boils; the Natives esteem it sacred, and flock thither from all parts of the country to receive a Holy Sprinkling, as they imagine it has the virtue of cleansing them from their sins’ (1994, pp. 10, 32). The exoticism and natural supernatural of the hotwell, together with the religious rites of purification, were just the kinds of detail which might lodge in the young Coleridge’s mind. The other brother who died (also, apparently, a suicide) was Frank, just two years older than Coleridge. Frank is famous in all Coleridge biographies for crumbling his cheese and provoking his younger brother to a murderous knife attack. This incident was deeply traumatic to Coleridge, causing him to run away into the night, where he was found the next morning on the banks of the Otter,

Coleridge and William Hodges’ India


cold and soaked through by the rain. The physical legacy of rheumatism troubled Coleridge all his life, but the psychological trauma went deeper, accentuated by the coincident death of his father immediately upon returning from Plymouth, where he had taken Frank to embark as a midshipman in September 1781. Just a little over ten years later Frank died, aged 22, after being wounded in a night-attack during Cornwallis’s siege of Seringapatam, 1791–2 (Engell, 1994, p. 97). The consensus was that he shot himself in a delirium. Coleridge wrote of him that ‘He was the only one of my Family, whom similarity of Ages made more peculiarly my Brother – he was the hero of all the little tales, that make the remembrance of my earliest days interesting!’ (CL, vol. 1, p. 53). In addition to Coleridge’s family connection to India, there were links in his mind, as we have seen, between the historical figure of Kubla Khan, ‘a byword for cruelty and oppression’ (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 510) and the ‘commanding’ geniuses of Napoleon and Tipu Sultan. In Biographia Literaria (1817) the figure of Kubla Khan hovers over Coleridge’s description of how ‘in tranquil times [these commanding geniuses] are formed to exhibit a perfect poem in palace or temple or landscape-garden; . . . But alas! in times of tumult they are the men destined to come forth as the shaping spirit of Ruin, to destroy the wisdom of ages in order to substitute the fancies of a day, and to change kings and kingdoms, as the wind shifts and shapes the clouds’ (BL, vol. 1, pp. 32–3). That Napoleon resembled Kubla Khan as a commanding genius, one who could both build empires and wreak widespread devastation, can be seen in a notebook entry of 1802, around the time he created himself Consul for life. Coleridge’s jotting reads: ‘Poet Bonaparte – Layer out of a World-garden’ (CN, vol. 1, 1166). A year later Napoleon as Kubla Khan, world-conqueror, gives way to Napoleon as the ‘Corsican Tippoo Saib’ (CL, vol. 1, p. 282). Tipu Sultan, one of Kubla Khan’s mightiest Moghul descendents, steadfastly opposed the rule of the East India Company throughout the 1780s and 1790s until eventually killed in 1799, at the battle of Seringapatam, the city which had earlier proved the grave of Frank Coleridge. Napoleon’s appearance in Coleridge’s imagination as both Kubla Khan and Tipu Sultan, the alpha and omega of a vast Asian empire ruled by Moghul emperors, is yet another cue for shifting the geopolitical reading of Coleridge’s poem to India. Coleridge’s enthusiastic immersion of himself in travel literature and all ‘out of the way’ books means that there are many references to Indian philosophy, literature and religion in his reading in the 1790s. For instance, Kubla Khan’s ‘stately pleasure-dome’, which is somewhat at odds with the ‘stately Pallace’ and


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

‘sumptuous house of pleasure’ described in Purchas His Pilgrimage, appears courtesy of Francis Bernier’s Travels in the Mogul Empire during the years 1656– 68. Bernier travelled throughout India as physician to one of the most fearsome Moghul emperors, Aurangzeb, known to British readers from Dryden’s play, Aureng-Zebe (1675). Bernier noted many domes in the cities he passed through, including (most spectacularly) that ‘vast dome of white marble’ outside Agra known as the mausoleum Taj Mahal, about which he writes with great rapture (1891, vol. 1, pp. 335–7). Then, when he entered the kingdom of Kashmir – a terrestrial paradise with the appearance of a ‘fertile and highly cultivated garden’ – he saw more domes, or (as he described them) ‘domed summer-houses placed in the midst of canals’ (Bernier, 1891, vol. 2, p. 139). Bernier also saw a hermitage in the middle of a lake, ‘with its little garden, which it is pretended floats miraculously upon the water’ (1891, vol. 2, p. 160). The domes and Edenic appearance of Kashmir are just the start of a distinctive web of connections between this valley and the potent and supernatural landscape of ‘Kubla Khan’. Traversing a mountain within sight of the valley of Kashmir, Bernier experiences ‘the opposite seasons of summer and winter within the same hour’, being ‘exposed to the intense heat of the sun’ then finding himself ‘in the midst of frozen snow’ (1891, vol. 1, p. 151). Kashmir is also a land of mysterious fountains, one of which ebbs and flows with eerie regularity, another of which ‘gushes out of the earth with violence’ at a Great Moghul’s royal country house. The water from this fountain is so abundant that ‘it ought rather to be called a river than a fountain’ (Bernier, 1891, vol. 2, p. 156). Bernier’s travels in Kashmir were translated and reproduced in numerous travel compendiums, including various editions of Churchill’s Collection of Voyages and Travels. If Coleridge did not encounter him there then he certainly encountered Bernier in two books which mention Kashmir and which we know for certain that he read: Thomas Maurice’s History of Hindostan (2 vols, 1795–8) and Major James Rennell’s Memoir of a Map of Hindoostan (London, 1792). Coleridge read Maurice closely, copying out a curious passage about an image of ice in a cave in the mountains of Kashmir. Supernaturally, ‘two days before the new moon there appears a bubble of Ice which increases in size every day till the 15th day, at which it is an ell or more in height; then as the moon decreases, the Image does also till it vanishes’ (CN, vol. 1, 240). In the same book Coleridge would also have seen the striking image of ‘Veeshnu slumbering’ (Figure 2.1) on a bed of serpents for ‘an Astronomical Period of a thousand Ages’. Many believe that this image inspired the long letter written to Thelwall in October 1797, in which the poet launches into a strange dreamlike evocation of

Coleridge and William Hodges’ India


Figure 2.1  ‘Veeshnu slumbering’, from Thomas Maurice, The History of Hindostan, vol. 1, 1795, facing p. 403; Special Collections, Baillieu Library, the University of ­Melbourne.


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

the Brahmanic code. While sometimes (he tells Thelwall) he pushes his intellect to great spiritual heights, at other times he adopts ‘the Brahman Creed’: It is better to sit than to stand, it is better to lie than to sit, it is better to sleep than to wake – but Death is the best of all! – I should much wish, like the Indian Vishna, to float about along an infinite ocean cradled in the flower of the Lotos, & wake once in a million years for a few minutes – just to know I was going to sleep a million years more. (CL, vol. 1, p. 349)

The other book which he appears to have read is William Hodges’ Travels in India (1793), a work which brought contemporary Indian culture, landscape and architecture into view. With its focus on the rise and fall of empires, against the backdrop of the impeachment and trial of his patron Warren Hastings, Hodges’ picturesque visual record of India provides an eye-catching setting for contemplating British rule in India. While we have no firm evidence that Coleridge read Hodges’ book we know that it was in the Bristol Library because his publisher Joseph Cottle borrowed it in February 1796 (Whalley, 1949, p. 128). More importantly, Coleridge would have heard many stories about Hodges from William Wales, his mathematics master at Christ’s Hospital who had travelled on the second Cook voyage as an astronomer. Hodges was one of the principal artists on the Resolution, and very close to the older Wales, who used a double-page engraving by him of a whirlwind-waterspout in his Original Astronomical Observations (1777). This striking engraving was almost certainly known to Coleridge who was (as Bernard Smith has demonstrated) so interested in the ‘tremendities of nature’ and so steeped in the lore of this Pacific voyage (Smith, 1992, p. 146). Coleridge was at school in London from the age of 10, in 1782, until 1791 when he went up to Cambridge. During these nine years, for the last five of which he was Wales’s pupil, Hodges returned from two and a half years in India and started getting his visual record into circulation in London. He also led the way in introducing the beauties of Islamic and Hindu architecture to the British public. From 1785 until 1794, between which years Coleridge’s two brothers died, Hodges exhibited twenty-five oil paintings at the Royal Academy, including the highly picturesque and romantic The Ghauts at Benares (Figure 2.2), his diploma piece upon election to the Royal Academy in 1788. Modelled upon Canaletto’s Molo: From the Bacini di S. Marco (1731), the painting evokes a shimmering and nostalgic golden world of great cities: Venice, London, Calcutta and Benares. Benares, ‘the Athens of India’, was an ancient seat of Hindu learning. It was also a holy city, but as Hodges shows, the beauty of its

Coleridge and William Hodges’ India


Figure 2.2  William Hodges, The Ghauts at Benares. View of Part of the City of Benares on the River Ganges, in the East Indies; Royal Academy of Arts, London.

Hindu temples and steps jostles with the sublime and ominous intrusion of the mosque. In addition to exhibiting paintings such as this, Hodges published 48 large and exquisite aquatints between 1785 and 1788 titled Select Views of India. His book Travels in India (1793) contained a further 14 engravings based on his drawings and paintings. Nor, of course, was Hodges the only visual artist of India. There were the Daniells as well, uncle and nephew, who returned from Bombay to London in 1784 and who started publishing their portfolio-sized topographical aquatints titled Oriental Scenery in 1795 (1795–7). Altogether a torrent of images of India had begun to appear, including popular and accessible printed images (see Almeida, 2005, passim). Hodges’ stay in India, between 1780 and 1783, coincided with a period of concentrated British military action against local rulers. As he travelled, like an embedded journalist and war artist, through the contested territories of Bengal and Bihar, his narrative recounts a number of military expeditions and skirmishes, one of which entailed him scampering to safety along with Hastings to the fortress at Churnar Gur, a recent site of British military conquest. Indeed, a large number of Hodges’ paintings and drawings record the triumphant topography of empire, forts and fortresses taken recently by the British. Hodges also depicts historical sites of conquest such as the ‘Tomb of the Emperor Shere Shah at Sasseram in Baha’, symbol of the triumph of Akbar, the


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

third Moghul emperor, against one of his fiercest enemies, but a structure now falling prey to time and neglect. The grandeur of this monument, ‘rising from the centre of a large square lake, each side bounded by masonry, and descending to the water by stone steps on every side’ was ‘greatly ruined’: ‘A great part of the building is now covered with shrubs and trees, which have taken root within the stones, and promise a speedy decay, if not a total overthrow, of this grand pile’ (Hodges, 1793, pp. 149–50). In his elegy for empires grasped and then lost, Hodges bestows on India’s ‘grand and poetic scenery’ a moral and political resonance, simultaneously exhibiting the grandeur of imperial architecture, but also drawing attention to its ruination and abandonment. If war is Hodges’ recurrent subject, then war is as much linked to imperial decline as to imperial conquest. And as Geoff Quilley has argued, in his analysis of the dialectic in Hodges’ work between past and present India, ‘an Ozymandian admonition for eighteenth-century imperial Britain’ is built into the Moghul model of empire (2004, p. 4). There is much to connect Hodges’ Travels in India with ‘Kubla Khan’: the dreamy, nostalgic evocation of a Miltonic garden of Eden, the false paradise, territorial conquest, war and the loss of empire: ‘And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far / Ancestral voices prophesying war!’ (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 513, ll. 29–30). The country through which Hodges travelled was littered with the ruins of empire, provoking ‘a melancholy pensiveness’ amidst the silence and solitude (1793, p. 122). All around him the ‘Mussulman conquerors’, with their taste for ‘grand composition’ in architecture, had left reminders of ‘the greatest and the richest empire, perhaps, of which the human annals can produce an instance’ (Hodges, 1793, pp. 151–2). Intergenerational strife between fathers and sons was often the cause of this widespread architectural ruin. In the letterpress accompanying his Select Views of India (1786), Hodges notes that the great Moghul buildings of Hindustan, and the palaces in particular, were ‘subject to a revolution not known in other countries; for it is a principle among the great men of that country to leave the house of their fathers to ruin and decay, and to establish one for themselves, bearing their own name.’ Hodges also points out that many mausoleums seen en route were once pleasure houses. Of a mausoleum at Etmadpoor, 7 miles east from Agra, Hodges observes: ‘It was no uncommon practice amongst the Moguls to inter the remains of their friends on the spot where they had, in their lifetime, received their greatest delights or honours’ (1786, n. p.). Energy and delight, twinned with stasis and annihilation, also resonates with the contrasting ‘gardens bright’ and ‘lifeless ocean’ presided over by Kubla Khan’s ‘pleasure-dome’.

Coleridge and William Hodges’ India


With the appearance of his book in the midst of the Hastings trial, it could be argued that Hodges distracts his readers from concerns about British activities on the subcontinent with vignettes of the imperial history of India. One key site was Agra, ‘a place of high antiquity’, a city ‘encircled by a wall and towers at a bow-shot distance from each other’ (Hodges, 1793, p. 117). This ‘once splendid and imperial city’ was built by Akbar in the mid-sixteenth century. Renowned for his liberality and humanity, Akbar’s glorious reputation stood in marked contrast to that of other descendants of Kubla Khan who, in popular repute, had despotically reduced India to a land of oriental barbarism. Hastings, nicknamed the ‘Great Mughal’, partly modelled his system of government on that of Akbar, but if his aim was to restore Agra to its former glory then the task was a formidable one, the city presenting, according to Hodges, ‘as far as the eye can reach . . . one general scene of ruined buildings’. Nevertheless, the palace and the mosque, both built of white marble and topped with plates of copper gilt, still retained their full lustre, but this only impressed more deeply the magnitude of what had been lost: ‘It was impossible to contemplate the ruins of this grand and venerable city, without feeling the deepest impressions of melancholy.’ Still a place of great beauty, Agra is also a place of fear, where deadly serpents lurk: ‘It is dangerous even to walk among these ruins; for at every step, unless great care is taken, the passenger is liable to sink through holes into the covered vaults, which are now the habitation of dangerous reptiles’ (Hodges, 1793, pp. 118–19). Just outside the city, Akbar’s tomb epitomizes for Hodges ‘monuments of human greatness now dissolving to dust’, its once magnificent fountains broken and dry, the gardens despoiled (1786, n. p.). Climbing to the top of one of the minarets, Hodges’ eye ranges over a prodigious circuit of country . . . filled with ruins of ancient grandeur: the river Jumna is seen at some distance, and the glittering towers of Agra. This fine country exhibits, in its present state, a melancholy proof of the consequences of a bad government, of wild ambition, and the horrors attending civil dissentions; for when the governors of this country were in plenitude of power, and exercised their rights with wisdom, from the excellence of its climate, with some degree of industry, it must have been a perfect garden; but now all is desolation and silence. (1793, p. 123)

The despotic and warlike Aurangzeb had, according to Hodges, been the chief vandal of Akbar’s tomb. Aurangzeb was also closely associated with a third key site, the Taj Mahal, raised by his father the Emperor Shah Jehan (1628–58) for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, Aurangzeb’s mother. Despite the sentimentalism


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

which has accrued to this site, Shah Jehan was hardly a devoted family man, having murdered his brothers and other Timurid relatives in order to ensure his succession. Hodges, who did an oil painting of this most famous Moghul mausoleum (Figure 2.3), gives an elaborate description of it. Like Bernier before him, he was filled with admiration: When this building is viewed from the opposite side of the river, it possesses a degree of beauty, from the perfection of the materials and from the excellence of the workmanship, which is only surpassed by its grandeur, extent, and general magnificence.. . . the whole together appears like a most perfect pearl on an azure ground. The effect is such as, I confess, I never experienced from any work of art. The fine materials, the beautiful forms, and the symmetry of the whole, with the judicious choice of situation, far surpasses any thing I ever beheld. (Hodges, 1793, p. 126)

There is another symmetry too, noted by Hodges, a symmetry which never materialized but remained only as a wish of the building’s founder. Shah Jehan planned to build a replica of the Taj in black marble on the other side of the river, at Mahtab Bagh (or moonlight garden), the two contrasting and complementary buildings to be joined by a marble bridge. The Black Taj into which Shah Jehan would be interred was never built because he was deposed and then imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb in the dynastic struggles so common to Moghul dynasties. The wish for a dome of his own remained just that, as noted by earlier European

Figure 2.3  William Hodges, The Taj Mahal (1783); National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi.

Coleridge and William Hodges’ India


visitors to the site, Bernier and Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, the latter ‘witness to the beginning and the finishing of this building’ (Hodges, 1793, p. 128). In Hodges’ serene oil painting, we see the Taj’s ethereal likeness floating on the silver surface of the Jumna River. The shadow of the Taj’s dome is the closest the emperor came to the embodiment of his wish. Moonlight gardens, with fragrant white blossoms and flowering trees, bore a mystical character, especially in the context of the imperial mausoleum’s charbagh, the earthly reflection of the Islamic paradise. The established pattern was of a tomb building standing centrally in a large formal garden, bounded by a wall with pavilions on three sides and entered through a gateway and outer compound on the fourth. Extensive and sophisticated waterworks supplied the pools, fountains and channels. Here was a garden of delight where the promised rewards of paradise could be enjoyed. Nevertheless, even as these pleasure gardens were filled with musicians, acrobats, singers and dancers, they retained their funerary associations. Soon after his arrival in India, Hodges captures the mixed character of Indian life when he describes a scene of tropical moonlight in Madras; after the heat of the day, Mahommedan women emerge to enjoy the breeze and attend to the tombs of their family and friends. He comments: ‘Such a scene appears more like a tale of enchantment than a reality, to the imagination of a stranger just arrived’ (Hodges, 1793, p. 10). The ‘mingled measure’ of the delightful and the funereal, eros and thanatos, is complemented in Hodges’ narrative by the dialectic of masculine and feminine, the sublime and the beautiful. Reflecting on the many ruined seats of empire and the attempted erasure of one culture and religion by another, Hodges associates the Hindu religion with feminine beauty and mysticism while Islam is associated with sublimity and power. Inevitably he deploys the usual gender stereotypes of feminized Hindus and military and hyper-masculine ‘ferocious’ Muslims. In terms of the landscape, sublimity resides in the cavern, as can be seen in his earlier Dissertation on the Prototypes of Architecture, Hindoo, Moorish and Gothic (1787), an essay he inserts into his Travels in India. This essay, which challenges Greek aesthetic principles as the standard of architectural excellence, asks why we should be so blind to the majesty, boldness and magnificence of Egyptian, Hindu, Moorish and Gothic architecture? At the outset, Hodges confines himself to a discussion of prototypes, declaring that all architecture derives from two fundamental forms  – the cavern and the hut, the two basic forms of shelter available to primitive humanity. The hut, the prototype for the Greek temple form, is aligned with the beautiful, while the cavern, whose ‘impenetrable sides and external form are the mountain itself ’ (Hodges, 1793, p. 70), is associated with


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

the sublime. The cavern, or cave (the terms are used interchangeably in his essay, as they are in ‘Kubla Khan’), is the prototype for Indian, Egyptian and Gothic forms. Unwilling to lose himself ‘in the unfathomable, and perhaps impenetrable darkness of Eastern antiquities’ (Hodges, 1793, p. 63), Hodges straightforwardly extols the cavern as the most coveted possession ‘from the remotest antiquity’: ‘A good cavern was then a superb palace; under certain circumstances it is so still’ (1793, p. 71). If those who conquered these coveted spaces ‘became afterwards objects of superstitious adoration, or if they have themselves been framers of any system of superstition, then we shall no longer be at a loss to account for the almost universal tradition which characterizes rocks and caverns as the haunts and sacred habitations of the Gods; and in consequence of which the form and gloom of such caverns have been universally imitated in the oldest temples’ (Hodges, 1793, p. 71). Hodges refers here to the cave temples of Elephanta and Salsette, the gloom and darkness of which presented ‘a veil of obscurity’ favourable to Fancy (1793, p. 76). With their striking combination of natural form and architectural carving, many images of these cave temples circulated among English artistic and intellectual circles in the 1770s and 1780s. Expressive of ‘human sexuality and divine fecundity’, in some respects they presented the ‘primary image of Romantic sublimity in the Indian prospect’ (Almeida, 2005, p. 47). The most well known of these images was the painting of Elephanta’s interior, exhibited by James Wales in the Royal Academy in 1785. The alien spirituality of Elephanta’s cave temples, at once natural and aesthetic, might well be the prototype for the ‘deep romantic chasm’ of ‘Kubla Khan’, a place which is both ‘savage’ and yet ‘holy and inchanted’, haunted ‘[b]y woman wailing for her demon-lover!’ (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 513, ll. 13–16). The link between palaces and temples, and earthquake-created, mountainous caverns, rises to the claim, in Hodges’ essay, that it is in the cavern that we ‘behold the undeniable prototype of the lofty semi-circular dome, and of the arched vault’ (1793, p. 73). If there is a link in the artist’s mind between the cavern and the dome, then there is also, for orientalists, a link between the cavern and ancient Sanskrit. In his ‘Hymn to Surya’ (1786), Sir William Jones has the Vedic Sun-god describe him liberating Sanskrit from the abysm of the past: He came; and, lisping our celestial tongue, Though not from Brahma sprung, Draws orient knowledge from its fountains pure, Through caves obstructed long, and paths too long obscure. (1995, p. 152, ll. 184–7)

Coleridge and William Hodges’ India


Jones’s association of the so-called celestial tongue with darkness and obscurity, and with unfathomable, labyrinthine caves, inaugurates a persistent metaphorical linkage in British commentary on ancient Indian texts, with the Quarterly Review referring evocatively in 1809 to ‘the dark caverns of Sanskrit literature’ (Turner, 1809, p. 54). As is well known, within a few months of taking up his study of Sanskrit, Jones saw similarities between this ancient language and Latin and Greek: ‘no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists.’ This very old, ‘almost primaeval language’ had once existed among the Scythians, and from this ancestral ur-language all the principal languages of Asia and Europe were derived (Drew, 1987, p. 52). There were also striking similarities between the chief objects of worship in ancient Greece, Italy and India. Confronted by all these similarities Jones boldly confessed in 1789 that it is not the truth of our national religion, as such, that I have at heart: it is truth itself; and, if any cool unbiassed reasoner will clearly convince me, that Moses drew his narrative through Egyptian conduits from the primeval fountains of Indian literature, I shall esteem him as a friend for having weeded my mind from a capital error, and promise to stand among the foremost in assisting to circulate the truth, which he has ascertained. (Marshall, 1970, p. 200)

Until such proof was forthcoming, however, Jones had no choice but to be agnostic: of these various belief systems he could only say: ‘which was the original system and which the copy, I will not presume to decide’ (Marshall, 1970, pp. 238–9). Jones’s imagery of ‘primeval fountains’, together with the frank admission that, given the lapse of time, it was impossible to know the original from its copy – the real from its shadow – were unpalatable to Coleridge. As early as 1796 he flatly denied that Jones’s translation of Institutes of Hindu Law; or the Ordinances of Menu (1794) furnished ‘unanswerable arguments against the divine Legation of Moses’; the man who argued thus ‘spoke what he did not himself believe – or rather perhaps believed it because he wished it’ (CL, vol. 1, p. 252). That the Emperor Kubla Khan was fascinating in his guise as the fountainhead of a civilization can be seen in the name of the river Alph, and Coleridge’s note (from Jones’s ‘Essay on the Tartars’) that ‘Kublaikhan ordered letters to be invented for his people’ (CN, vol. 1, 1281); but the unease he felt towards Jones’s syncretism and Indian literature’s ‘primeval fountains’ gets


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

reflected in the dead-end of the sacred river, its mysterious energy petering out before disappearing altogether into the ‘sunless sea’ and the ‘lifeless ocean’. In the end, Coleridge’s deep ambivalence towards pantheistic idealism overtook any enthusiasm he felt for writing Hindu-style ‘Hymns to the Sun, the Moon, and the Elements’, modelled on Jones’s work (CN, vol. 1, 174). Much later in life he would demonize Indian pantheism as the ‘true oriental Deity’, no more than ‘a painted Atheism’: a ‘Universal God  – all-God an Oceanic God, Man, Beast and Plant being mere & merely wavelets & wrinkles on the surface of the Depth’ (OM, p. 229; CN, vol. 4, 5345). The vehemence of this later-life rejection is, however, closely tied up with his remembrance of the intensity of his original encounter with Indian texts. After all, the great antiquity of these works, which was both ‘undoubted’ and yet ‘so daring and visionary’, had had the power to excite in him an ‘obscure awe that lies midway between religion and superstition’ (OM, p. 281). This admission of ‘obscure awe’ looks back, not just to the dome’s shadow which ‘Floated midway on the waves’ but also to the pantheistic poet of ‘The Eolian Harp’ (1796) who ‘on the midway slope’ stretches out his limbs and beholds through ‘half-closed eye-lids’ the sunbeams dance ‘like diamonds, on the main’ (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 233). The extent to which Coleridge could still feel the power of this ‘obscure awe’ can be seen in his mobilization of that earlier self. Ancient Sanskrit was not, in retrospect, an original language but a copy only, its productions the ‘natural result of an imbecile understanding half from indolence and half intentionally by a partial closure of the eyelids, and when all hues and outlines melt into a garish mist, deeming it unity’ (OM, p. 281). What he had seen in the mid-1790s, under the influence of an Indian-inspired pantheism, was all illusion: ‘Abstract the enormous shapes and phantasms, the Himala, the Ganges of the fancy, and what remains? A baby!’ (OM, p. 282). And if Coleridge had ever shared the orientalist Charles Wilkins’ belief that the ‘most learned Brahmans of the present times are Unitarians’ (Marshall, 1970, p. 194), then Hinduism falls with Unitarianism in 1798 when he finally snaps ‘his squeaking baby-trumpet of Sedition’ (CL, vol. 1, p. 397).


Coleridge’s Sequel to Thalaba and Robert Southey’s Prequel to Christabel Tim Fulford

In this chapter, I consider a collaboration whose importance in the genesis of Romantic poetry has been far too little explored – the collaboration between Coleridge and his brother-in-law and friend Robert Southey. We know, of course, that this collaboration began well before the more famous one between Coleridge and Wordsworth and that it lasted longer too. It was also, at times, just as intense and productive. Coleridge and Southey first published together in 1794, soon after meeting and planning Pantisocracy. They married sisters, the Frickers, in 1796, and they lived together in Keswick from 1801–4. And they published together as late as 1812 – by which time Coleridge had become estranged from Wordsworth, after the terrible falling out of 1810. In Bristol, the collaboration commenced with the jointly written Fall of Robespierre (1794); it continued with jointly given lecture series, with joint contributions to their new Annual Anthology (1799–1800) and with both men contributing poetry to the Morning Post (1797–1800). Later, in the Lake District, Southey helped Coleridge produce The Friend (1809–10) and drew on Coleridge’s notebooks for their last dual publication, Omniana (1812). Later still, the two men defended each other’s reputations in articles in the Courier. Thus their collaboration involved, at different times, every aspect of literary partnership, from conversation and discussion, to the penning of joint manuscript poems, to shared commissioning and editing, to the seeking of subscribers, and to the preparation of copy for the press and its distribution in journal form. An intellectual as well as a working relationship, it involved a common pool of ideas, motifs and images springing from both men, and from which both men drew.


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

But it gradually changed so as to let each poet locate himself – find a new, lasting style – by definition against the other. Out of this changing collaboration came three poems that we are accustomed to viewing as singly authored works  – ‘Kubla Khan’ (1816), Christabel (1816) and Thalaba (1801). While these pieces were indeed begun singly, they were each changed by the relationship, inflected by the renewal of a collaboration that had been interrupted by a quarrel and by Coleridge’s absence in Germany. The story here is of some of the defining texts of Romanticism coming into being through a renewed partnership that was partly about jointly generating poetry through discussion and sharing of sources, but also about each poet reading an already-written piece of his friend’s and feeling challenged to compete with it, lest the ground being explored be completely occupied by the other. Brotherly love but also sibling rivalry, with each learning from the other but striving to overcome his belatedness and appear the first. The renewal of the partnership took place in late summer 1799. Coleridge returned from Germany to Somerset in mid-July and Southey came to Somerset that same month – not first of all to meet Coleridge however, for the two men had argued and had not spoken or written to each other since December 1797. Rather, Southey came in search of seaside air for his wife’s health. He brought with him a new poem on which he was just beginning, the oriental romance concerning sorcerers and the Arabian youth who destroys their empire of evil spells. The youth is named Thalaba – meaning ‘seeker after truth’, a term usually used of religious zealots (the plural form of the noun is Taliban). By 19 July, Southey was drafting the poem’s second book. Once in Somerset, the Fricker sisters engineered a reconciliation between the poets. By 20 August, Southey was staying in Coleridge’s village, Nether Stowey. Southey brought with him not just Thalaba but also his commonplace book in which he had copied extracts from Eastern travel narratives and histories. Coleridge, meanwhile, had his own oriental draft to show Southey – some verses later published as ‘Kubla Khan’. Western Somerset became a meeting point of Eastern fantasies. The reconciliation led to an outpouring of creative energy from both poets: they worked together at the same table on their own poems and also on joint ones. They began a collaborative oriental epic on the life of the prophet Mohammed. This poem grew out of the same material Southey was using for Thalaba  – George Sale’s translation of the Koran (1734) as well as D’Herbelot’s Bibliotheque Orientale (1697). The idea was that Coleridge would write the first book, Southey

Coleridge, Thalaba and Southey, Christabel


the second, and so on. But of this dramatic scenario all that Coleridge completed was the opening invocation: Utter the Song, O my Soul! The flight and return of Mohammed, Prophet and Priest, who scatter’d abroad both Evil and Blessing, Huge wasteful Empires founded and hallow’d slow Persecution, Soul-withering, but crush’d the blasphemous Rites of the Pagan And idolatrous Christians. – For veiling the Gospel of Jesus, They, the best corrupting, had made it worse than the vilest. Wherefore Heaven decreed th’ enthusiast Warrior of Mecca, Choosing Good from Iniquity rather than Evil from Goodness. Loud the Tumult in Mecca surrounding the Fane of the Idol; – Naked and Prostrate the Priesthood were laid – the People with mad shouts Thundering now, and now with saddest Ululation Flew, as over the channel of rock-stone the ruinous River Shatters its waters abreast, and in mazy uproar bewilder’d, Rushes dividuous all – all rushing impetuous onward. (‘Mohammed’, PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 571)

All this sounds very much a typical Southey agenda rather than a Coleridgean one: the empire-building power of religion, the self-righteous relish for religious violence, the destruction of idolatry by an austere monotheist in the grip of his own vision had featured in Southey’s first epic Joan of Arc (1796) and in the joint work The Fall of Robespierre. But ‘Mohammed’ also bore a certain similarity to the first part of ‘Kubla Khan’ – in which an Eastern potentate also founds a civilization by force of arms. I’ll return to this similarity later in the chapter. Southey was more successful: he wrote a hundred and more lines of the second book – and what he wrote was very promising – exciting, suspenseful, dramatic, fast moving, engaging the readers’ sympathies for the hunted refugee Mohammed. Cloakd in the garment of green, who lies on the bed of Mohammed, Restless and full of fear, yet semblant of one that is sleeping? Every sound of the feet at his door he hears, & the breathing Low of inaudible words: he knows their meaning of murder, Knows what manner of men await his out-going, & listens All their tread, & their whispering, till even the play of his pulses Disturbs him, so deep his attention. The men of the Koreish


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient Fix on the green-robed youth their eyes; impatiently watchful Wait they the steps of his rising, the coming of him whom they hated. He rises & makes himself pure, & turning towards the Caaba, Loud he repeats his prayer: they hear, & in eagerness trembling, Grasp the hilts of their swords – their swords that are sworn to the slaughter. But when the youth went forth, they saw, &, behold! it was Ali! Steady the hero’s face: it was pale, for his life was a blessing; It was calm, for in death he lookd on to the crown of the Martyr. Dark as they were of soul & goaded by rage disappointed They shed not the blood of the youth; but remember’d their Chieftain his father, Abu Taleb the good, & respected the virtue of friendship. Baffled, & full of wrath, through Mecca they scatter the tidings: ‘He has fled, has discover’d our plans, has eluded our vengeance. ‘Saw ye the steps of his flight? where lurks he, the lying blasphemer?’ Now to the chase, to the chase! seize now the bow & the quiver; Now with the sword & the spear, – ye stubborn of Mecca! pursue him, – Seek him now to the North & the South, to the sunset & sunrise, Follow, follow the Chosen one’s flight! They rush from the city Over the plain they pursue him, pursue him with cries & with curses – Sounds that rung o’er the plain, & rung in the echoing mountain; And Mecca received in her streets the din of their clamorous uproar. But the voice of the Moslem, the silent prayer of the faithful Rose to the throne of God; & tears of the heart overflowing Interceded for him whom they lovd & believed his Apostle. (‘Mohammed’, ll. 1–31; Southey, 2004a, vol. 5, pp. 475–6)

Despite the promise of Southey’s beginning, ‘Mohammed’ ground to a halt and by January 1800 was in effect abandoned. Its failure is instructive, however: the project showed the two poets more clearly their respective strengths and interests: it clarified what kind of orientalist poets Southey and Coleridge were. Southey was inhibited by his scepticism about whether Mohammed himself believed his own claims. An epic on a male Joan of Arc, who believed his own inspiration even if others did not, Southey was prepared to write. One on an imposter, who pretended to an inspiration he did not feel, he was not. And so the failure with Mohammed established the direction of the Islamic poem Southey had already begun – Thalaba. Over the next 18 months, he worked on a story of an austere prophet who believed himself chosen by God and who destroyed the sensual civilizations that had perverted monotheism into idolatry. Thalaba’s

Coleridge, Thalaba and Southey, Christabel


theme, like Mohammed’s, is the power of religious faith  – enthusiasm  – to create revolutionary movements and the power of these to topple empires. It is a historical East – a place where civilizations rose, came into conflict and fell – that interests Southey, with religion the motive power. His subject is not the nature of belief as such, but belief ’s social and political power as an ideology. It follows that the psychology of his characters, and the landscapes they inhabit, are of less importance to him than historical events – pursuits, battles, conquests. It is these that Thalaba dramatizes – the hero’s escape across the desert strongly resembling Mohammed’s. The poem is shaped by Southey’s central poetic drive to deal, in narrative form, with the effects of religious conviction on the historical stage. Southey is essentially a narrative poet. Narrative epics were not Coleridge’s forte; he was a different kind of poet – especially a different kind of oriental poet. He did not get far before abandoning the joint poem. In 1823 he recalled that, if he had completed Mohammed, he would have focused on a theological debate between different kinds of believers. The psychology of belief fascinated Coleridge, not its social and ideological effects – and his failure to progress in the Mohammed project reflects the fact that it was to be a narrative poem of battles, conquests, defeats and victories before it was a debate about the relation of mind, world and God as conceived by people of different faiths. This failure, moreover, is related to that of ‘Kubla Khan’ – another poem which begins, but does not progress far, with a narrative about an Eastern man of power and empire builder. ‘Kubla Khan’ turns aside from the mode in which it begins – a historical narrative about the building of a pleasure dome, and its prophesied destruction by war – and looks instead at the psychology of belief, at the mental conditions required to make dreams seem real – to build that dome in air. It was as if, then, Mohammed reaffirmed Coleridge’s direction by repeating a failure: he could begin, but not sustain, narrative poems. He would not be able to complete an oriental epic; for him the oriental poem was, instead, a genre in which exotic beliefs could be dramatized – a zone of dream, spells, magic and enchantment, where strange relationships of mind and world could be played out. From failure came a new, internalized orientalism of the imagination. Nevertheless, each poet did borrow something from the other through the intense period of collaboration of which Mohammed was one outcome. Their time together in August–September 1799 was not just a period when their different directions became clarified but also a period of influence – of conversation and of reading merging together, so that who originated what scarcely mattered, and each accessed a pool of images, stories and ideas that seemed, for a while, to belong to both.


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

The results of this pooling of images, stories and ideas are evident in both ‘Kubla Khan’ and Thalaba. Although both existed as unfinished drafts when the poets came together, both were changed by the meeting. We cannot be certain exactly what happened in which order, so I’m going to conjecture two scenarios of influence – alternate versions of how the poems were shaped and reshaped in late summer 1799. Scenario One: ‘Kubla Khan’ was, Coleridge wrote in 1816, composed in 1797 but left unfinished. There is, however, no evidence of what state it had reached before May 1799, when one of Coleridge’s companions on his hiking tour of the Harz mountains noted in his journal that Coleridge had quoted, ‘from a Poem of his own’ the lines ‘And here were Forests, ancient as the Hills, / Enclosing Sunny Spots of greenery.’1 Southey had certainly not seen it before the reconciliation in Somerset. But it seems that it was shared that August in Nether Stowey for its opening lines, ‘In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree’, are strikingly close to lines that were eventually published in Book I of Thalaba: Where high in air a stately palace rose. Amid a grove embowered Stood the prodigious pile, Trees of such ancient majesty Towered not on Yemen’s happy hills, Nor crown’d the stately brow of Lebanon: Fabric so vast, so lavishly enrich’d, For Idol, or for Tyrant, never yet Raised the slave race of men, In Rome, nor in the elder Babylon, Nor old Persepolis, Nor where the family of Greece Hymned Eleutherian Jove. Here studding azure tablatures And rayed with feeble light, Star-like the ruby and the diamond shone: Here on the golden towers The yellow moon-beam lay, Here with white splendour floods the silver wall. (Thalaba the Destroyer, 1801 text, ll. 103–19; Southey, 2004b, vol. 3, pp. 9–10)

This passage is Southey’s description of the illusionary garden of Irem that appears to Thalaba in the desert. The obvious inference to draw is that in August

Coleridge, Thalaba and Southey, Christabel


1799 Southey heard Coleridge recite ‘Kubla Khan’ and in response introduced this passage to his poem: the ‘stately palace’, in particular seems too close to Coleridge’s ‘stately’ pleasure dome not to be related to it. If so, we can see Southey’s narrative poem about the clash of religious ideologies being reshaped by Coleridge’s descriptive set-piece of an Eastern pleasure garden. Southey suspends his narrative drive so as to introduce an episode in which he lingers on an exotic landscape – a place of enchantment like Xanadu. Coleridge has nudged Southey towards a less austere, more langorous orientalism in which the East is a zone of unreality, an exotic locale for sensual, magical paradises. Behind both stand Milton’s evocation of Eden and Sir William Jones’s descriptions of Yemen2 – themselves orientalizations of Spenser’s bower of bliss. Later on in Thalaba, in parts of the poem written after the 1799 reconciliation with Coleridge, more such enchanted palaces and gardens appear: they are illusionary Edens designed by evil sorcerers to tempt Thalaba away from the path of rectitude, his road of dedication to an invisible, abstract God. But they all bear the marks of ‘Kubla Khan’ – registering how strongly Southey was impressed by his friend’s verse. Coleridge, it appears, fed into the pool an orientalism of dreamlike descriptions and scenes that suggest illusionary mental states and these tempted Southey away from the direct plot of his action-packed narrative poem. Ultimately the dreamy paradises prove false – as Kubla’s pleasure dome also does, because their peace and beauty is built on violence. Whereas Kubla’s paradise garden is threatened by ancestral voices prophesying war, Thalaba’s turns out to be a sorcerer’s illusion. If the pleasure gardens reveal the poets’ partnership – their sharing of ideas, images and forms – what supersedes them demonstrates their incipient difference. While for Coleridge the true pleasure dome is that built in the imagination of the poet, for Southey pleasure comes instead from the justification of the righteous. Thalaba’s dedication to his austere God is rewarded when, guided by his faith, he avenges the killing of his father, at the cost of his own life. Right has prevailed, through violence, and the knowledge that it has prevailed is its own reward. Thus in Southey’s poetic scheme, the Coleridgean paradise garden provides scenery and decoration and is not essential to the plot, the moral action, of the poem. Nevertheless, the Coleridgean effect is shown in the difference of Thalaba from the abandoned Mohammed, for Mohammed would have been faithful to a real person and real historical events – its purpose being verisimilitude to the actual, as if Southey could take the reader beyond the texts from which he gleaned his knowledge to offer a clear picture of actual events, a transparent view of history. Thalaba, taking up where Mohammed left off but mostly written after the meeting with Coleridge, is more a mixture of genres – an epic that pretends


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

to realism like Mohammed though the events narrated are fictional, but also a romance that foregrounds its own fictionality, telling tall stories of magic spells and exotic realms, as if the Orient was a fantastical world summoned up by the geographical fantasies and travellers’ tales of Western texts. It thus fits the bill of Orientalism as Edward Said (1978) defined it – a Western construction of the East taken from old books, knowing and caring little for present-day conditions on the ground – that was then projected onto the East, as if the construction could be mapped onto reality. Yet at the same time it undercuts this process of mapping a textual fantasy-world onto reality, by foregrounding its own textuality in its notes, which openly reveal it to be a conglomerate of travellers’ tales and stories, and, therefore, to be unreliable as a guide to the real (see Majeed, 1992 and Leask, 1993). The second scenario turns the chronology and the course of influence around and places Southey as a crucial source of the poem that became ‘Kubla Khan’. It goes thus: what if the lines in Thalaba preceded those of ‘Kubla Khan’  – if Southey’s ‘stately palace’ was the source of Coleridge’s ‘stately pleasure dome’? If, in effect, much of ‘Kubla Khan’ was a response to Thalaba. To argue thus, we have to set aside the 1797 date that Coleridge, nearly 20 years later, gave for his poem – or at least believe that he modified what he had already drafted when he heard Southey’s lines in 1799. It’s a possible scenario: we know Southey had drafted Book I of Thalaba already when he arrived at Nether Stowey because he tells us so in letters and in a dated copy of the manuscript. What does this matter, one might ask? Coleridge misdated his poem  – or omitted to mention his 1799 revisions – when he came to publish it in 1816. So what? Well it matters because if he modified or developed his lines on a paradise garden in 1799 in the wake of reading Book I of Thalaba, or the orientalist excerpts transcribed in Southey’s commonplace book, then his relationship with Southey is as significant for one of his greatest poems as that with Wordsworth was for ‘Dejection: An Ode’ – and this is an influence we –and he – have failed to account for. It matters too because it helps explain where Coleridge’s Orientalism came from and of what kind it was. It is a question of both adoption and rejection, about Coleridge learning the lesson of the failure of Mohammed and jettisoning Southey’s narrative machinery so as to create, from Southey’s paradise gardens, a new kind of orientalist poem – an internalized poem about the way in which the imagination dreams up exotic fantasies in response to its reading of travellers’ tales. In effect, ‘Kubla Khan’ becomes a self-reflexive and self-conscious meditation on the East as a purely textual realm – a dreamworld that Westerners make up in response to their reading of unreliable travel accounts. Not Edward

Coleridge, Thalaba and Southey, Christabel


Said’s projection onto the real Orient of fantasies derived from old books, but a reflexive commentary on the making, from our reading, of fantasy worlds that stay fantastical: domes in air. The process of making-up, of inventing this dreamworld as one reads, is what interests Coleridge, not any real Orient that might be reached beyond the text. His orientalism, sharpened as he borrowed from but also understood his difference from Southey, does not just internalize the quest romance (Harold Bloom’s definition of the romantic lyric3) but also reflects upon that internalization – with Thalaba’s pursuit of his goal through the Arabian desert transformed into a quest within for the source of imagination’s creative power. The textuality and internality of Coleridge’s orientalism is not simply a matter of a likeness between a few lines of Southey’s verse and a few of Coleridge’s: Southey’s commonplace book, which he brought with him to Somerset, contained passages transcribed from European stories about the paradise gardens of Aloadin, Irem and of Kublai Khan to which Coleridge’s poem is verbally close. Indeed, after a long note from Purchas on a paradise garden, Thalaba cites Odoricus’s tale of a certaine countrey called Melistorte, which is a very pleasant and fertile place. And in this countrey there was a certeine aged man called Senex de monte; who round about two mountaines had built a wall to inclose the sayd mountaines. Within this wall there were the fairest and most chrystall fountaines in the whole world: and about the sayd fountaines there were most beautiful virgins in great number, and goodly horses also, and in a word every thing that could be devised for bodily solace and delight, and therefore the inhabitants of the countrey call the same place by the name of Paradise. (Southey, 2004b, vol. 3, p. 259)

Southey’s notes acted as sources for Coleridge, as the commonplace book was no doubt open on the table the friends shared as they started work on Mohammed in Nether Stowey. They then decided to travel together to Coleridge’s birthplace, Ottery St Mary in Devon, walking south past Porlock and the overgrown walled gardens near Culbone and discussing oriental travel books on the way. From Ottery they proceeded to Exeter where Southey made more excerpts from travel books in the cathedral library.4 In September, they parted and Coleridge took the same route back to Stowey – with oriental travels still on his mind. It may have been on this trip that, ill with dysentery, he rested at a farmhouse a quarter of a mile above Culbone church, dosed himself with opium, and reworked his poem on a paradise garden in the light of the reading matter and conversation


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

that the weeks with Southey had brought him. Certainly, no sooner did he arrive home than he wrote to Southey about Thalaba and about Niebuhr’s travels in Arabia (CL, vol. 2, p. 533). It’s at least possible then, that although a draft of some of ‘Kubla Khan’ existed, it took firmer shape in late summer 1799. As Elizabeth Schneider (1966) showed, some very powerful textual evidence suggests much of the text dates from this time. For instance, as Schneider reveals, the phrase ‘midway on’ appears elsewhere in Coleridge’s oeuvre only in writing that dates from autumn 1799–spring 1800 (it appears in ‘Love’ and, as ‘midway on the ocean’, in The Piccolomini (Act III, scene iii, l. 64; PW, vol. 3, part 1, p. 487). The phrase derives from Walter Savage Landor’s Gebir (1798)  – a poem to which Southey introduced Coleridge after their reconciliation at Stowey: ‘midway on the wave’ is Landor’s locution. The word ‘momently’ also appears for the first time in Coleridge’s work in late 1799 in his translation of Die Piccolomini: ‘the whole scene moves and bustles momently’ (Act I, scene iv, l. 92; PW, vol. 3, part 1, p. 255). Wordsworth picked this word up, as if he had recently encountered ‘Kubla Khan’, in a letter he wrote to Coleridge on Christmas Eve 1799 about his visit to the Yorkshire waterfalls and caverns: ‘the stream shot from between the rows of icicles in irregular fits of strength and with a body of water that momently varied’ (1967, p. 279). Then there is the phrase ‘deep delight’: aside from ‘Kubla Khan’, Coleridge uses it for the first time in ‘Lines Composed in a Concert Room’, written while the poets were together in Exeter: ‘such songs in such a mood to hear thee sing, / It were a deep delight’ (PW, vol. 1, part 2, p. 598, ll. 2–3). But it also occurs in a passage originally intended for Book II of Thalaba which was written in autumn 1799 (Southey later moved it to Book IX): ‘that with such deep and undefined delight’ (Thalaba, Book 9, l. 536; Southey, 2004b, vol. 3, p. 143). If this reveals the close relationship between the two poems, it also suggests that much of ‘Kubla Khan’ was developed in autumn 1799. Schneider also notes that William Taylor, in a letter to Southey that Coleridge may have read in Stowey, states ‘I am glad . . . you are intending to build with the talisman of song a magic palace on the site of the Domdaniel of Cazotte.’ Taylor’s letter also included some verse, later published in the Monthly Magazine, which mentions a girl and an Abyssinian bishop (1843, vol. 1, p. 227). Schneider (1966, p. 187) also notes that the second volume of Southey’s Annual Anthology (1800), in preparation during autumn 1799, contains Joseph Cottle’s ‘Markoff: A Siberian Eclogue’, featuring the line ‘I, who in caves of ice have oft reclined’ (l. 31, p. 224). Was Cottle influenced by what he had just seen in Coleridge, or did Southey introduce Coleridge to Cottle’s poem?

Coleridge, Thalaba and Southey, Christabel


A third scenario is also possible, in which the influence is mutual and each poet develops his poem in the light of the other’s draft and the excited conversations that followed as they renewed their friendship: not so much make-up sex as make-up text. Indeed, the famous 1816 preface in which the composition took place in a farmhouse near Culbone but was interrupted is a semi-fictionalized account that, if it relates to his return, without Southey, from Exeter in 1799, tellingly locates Coleridge’s inability to continue the poem to the end of that period of intense creative partnership. In favour of this conjecture is the fact that it’s highly unlikely that Coleridge found a copy of Purchas’s Pilgrimage in such a farmhouse – it was a rare and learned book – or that he possessed a copy and carried it with him (there’s no record of his owning the extremely large and heavy tome). But he may have been reading extracts from it in Southey’s hand. It was not until he visited Grasmere, the following year, that he encountered a copy – Wordsworth’s – in a country cottage – Dove Cottage. His 1816 preface compresses and conflates different moments of his past creative life into a potent myth about the creative mind and the orientalist poet. Within that myth are coded references that hint, in disguised form, at the text’s debts to others, a practice that, notoriously, he followed when borrowing from Schlegel and Schelling in his Biographia Literaria (drafted over the same period as the 1816 preface). Whichever scenario we adopt  – and it will probably never be possible to decide which is correct – what is clear is that their collaboration allowed each of the poets to experiment with different versions of orientalism, so that Coleridge became, for a while, a more Southeyan writer – and vice versa – the result of this was that each was able to develop a new direction, in which their existing strength was modified by what they learnt from the other as they pooled ideas, stories and images for a month of intense friendship. The larger significance for accounts of English poetry is twofold – that the collaboration with Southey was more important than critics have often allowed for, reminding us that Coleridge’s Romanticism was nearly always a collaborative discourse – whether with Wordsworth, Southey, Sara Hutchinson or J. H. Green. But also that orientalism in English verse was refined in the process, with Thalaba and ‘Kubla Khan’, the two most influential oriental poems of the era, each pushed by the collaboration in the direction of an orientalism marked by exoticism and fantasy derived from travellers’ tales, and explicitly or implicitly a self-reflexive meditation on the effects of reading these texts – a literary orientalism, rather than a narrative aiming transparently to portray verifiable historical events. In Thalaba a narrative of action was still strongly present but overlaid with dreamy


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

passages; in ‘Kubla Khan’ the narrative of action is truncated, and the dreamy passages become allegories of the poet’s creativity. The former, of course, is more Saidian than the latter since it is at least partly mapped onto a supposed real Orient; neither, however, offers to tell a truth about a real historical place in the way the abandoned epic Mohammed would have done. After Coleridge’s return home, Southey stayed in Exeter and the south. There, he found his mental health failing him and eventually fled for Bristol, where he put himself under the treatment of Dr Thomas Beddoes. A trip to a warmer climate and a change of scene was recommended, and so in spring 1800 he set sail for Portugal. He took with him the Thalaba manuscript so as to continue drafting it. The collaboration with Coleridge was still an essential support: as soon as he arrived in Lisbon on 1 May, he wrote requesting Coleridge to send him the manuscript of Christabel – still a work in progress. It appears that Coleridge did send him the manuscript, although he was still working on the poem in autumn 1800, for in December Southey wrote verse of his own in response to it – nothing less than a prequel to Christabel of several hundred lines. He intended these lines to be the last book of Thalaba; clearly he was so powerfully energized by Coleridge’s poem that he chose to make the climax of his oriental romance a back-story that renewed the collaboration of autumn 1799 from lonely exile by complementing Coleridge’s story with his own. But Southey’s prequel was also motivated by puzzlement and critique as if he needed to dramatize in more straightforward narrative terms the moral ambiguity of Christabel  – where action gets suspended and who is innocent and who guilty cannot be decided. Thus Thalaba, an oriental tale, gets sidetracked into the chivalric world of Coleridge’s poem as Southey tries to resolve – to create a narrative of public actions and reactions to explain – what, in Christabel, is an internalized, psychological trauma – the cause of the fall from innocence into guilt, and the redemption from this guilt. The prequel contains a sub-Spenserian knightly tournament, described in archaic diction, in which his hero Thalaba fights Sir Leoline. Leoline, it is explained, was once the champion of the virtuous damsel and her mother who ruled the land; however, he has been enchanted by the evil sorcerer – the hell hag – who has usurped the throne. He now fights on the hell-hag’s side against the damsel and her mother. Clearly, this is a displaced version of the plot of Coleridge’s tale in which Leoline is enchanted by the witch-like Geraldine to turn against his own daughter and her virtuous mother. Southey may well have read the line that Coleridge omitted from the poem when he published it in 1816, comparing Geraldine’s body to the ‘Sea Wolf ’s hide’ (PW, vol. 2, part 1,

Coleridge, Thalaba and Southey, Christabel


p. 659) – that is, identifying her as a foul hag, a werewolf who has changed shape into a beautiful woman. Southey’s ‘hell-hag’ is certainly foul in body and deed: An & hideous blind old Hag Hath brought this evil on us; she hath made Her giant son our tyrant & by spells Hath won the many to her cause That from their loyalty and ancient faith Recreant, bewitched to ruin, they themselves Give their own children for her sacrifice. Strong is her giant son, Yet is his trust in [illeg. Word] & wizard guile, A fraudful enemy And daily at their Tyrant idols feet With hymns of adoration & of joy They shed the life of man. (Southey, 2004b, vol. 3, p. 313)

Southey’s story of witches, knights and enchantment is a Spenserian response to Coleridge’s Gothic romance. It explains Leoline’s retreat to his lonely castle in the woods by creating a story about his shameful past. Evidently, Southey was trying to work through the mysterious relationship of innocence and guilt in Coleridge’s poem, for he turns Thalaba into a figure who performs the same role as Bard Bracy would have performed in Christabel, restoring the proper relationship of damsel-daughter and knight by helping to free Leoline from the evil spell that has him fighting against the virtuous. Thalaba’s archery lures Leoline onto the holy ground under the oak tree – a spot sacred to the damsel’s mother, and there the damsel’s innocent words have power to lift the spell: On rushes Leoline. And now beneath the Holy Oak He lifts the sword to strike! The Damsel caught his arm, She looked him in the face – she called his name – The well-known tones awakened him – The spell that had abused his noble soul Lost all its power, he dropt the impious sword. (Southey, 2004b, vol. 3, p. 315)


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

It is significant that in Southey’s conventional chivalric version, it is the knight and not the innocent damsel who is enchanted and guilty; the damsel’s virtue is not compromised as it is in Coleridge’s poem – it restores Leoline. In Coleridge’s poem, the restorative power of innocence is in much more trouble, for Christabel is tainted by her complicity in her seduction by Geraldine, and must herself be redeemed before her father can be freed from the spell that binds him. Southey effectively rewrites Coleridge’s version of the chivalric tale with a more orthodox morality and more conventional understanding of gender and sexuality. Having awoken to his true self, Leoline immediately joins Thalaba in fighting on the damsel’s side against the usurping hell-hag and her son. Southey gives him no interiority; he is simply a fighting champion: evil is to be destroyed by good on the battlefield; the two do not coexist within a character unless that character is bewitched. Leoline has to content himself with the supporting role but at least redeems himself, for it is Thalaba who is the appointed remedy and who destroys the hell-hag. The damsel and her mother are restored to rule their rightful realm, but the poem then displays no further interest in them: Thalaba leaves them behind as he journeys underground to the source of all evil spells, which he will destroy. The Christabel characters form merely an episode in his larger mission: they are introduced to Southey’s poem to narrate, in terms of external, dramatic action, questions about shame, complicity, sin and guilt that Southey will not explore by giving his hero a morally ambivalent internal dimension. There is no psychological complexity in Thalaba – nor in the damsel, her mother and Leoline: it is never explained why the knight is so susceptible to evil spells. But his shameful actions act as a prequel giving a narrative precedent for his susceptibility to Geraldine’s spell in Coleridge’s poem. And the prequel, as an intervention in Coleridge’s poem, suggests that muscular action can redeem guilt. Southey needed to resolve Christabel’s moral and narrative suspense  – its summoning of guilt as an arresting power – by creating redemptive action. Here then, on the fantasy oriental stage allowed by Thalaba, he imagines might restoring right, and his own input reshaping Coleridge’s indulgence of paralysing moral ambiguity and narrative stasis as it had the year before when the Mohammed project, the Thalaba draft and the poets’ walking and talking had changed Coleridge’s direction in ‘Kubla Khan’. This was now not a common pool of images, ideas and stories but an attempt to recreate such a pool from a distance – an attempt that, the distance being so great, inevitably failed and that revealed more about the poets’ growing differences than what they had in common. Southey was trying, but not succeeding except by force, to guide his

Coleridge, Thalaba and Southey, Christabel


friend even as he was himself altering the direction of his own oriental poem by suddenly introducing Coleridge’s characters into it. Southey knew he had been sidetracked by his fascination for Coleridge’s new poem, and by his desire to resolve what Coleridge’s fragment left unresolved. He dropped Leoline, the tournament, and the damsel because they introduced new elements and characters just as the poem approached resolution, thus displacing its hero and his quest to the margins. In a letter to a friend, he declared: ‘You will I know not be displeased at the total omission of the Queen & Leoline – a bungling piece of botch work at which my own conscience & taste revolted very soon’ (Southey, 2010, letter 567). So he pruned the new characters out of the published poem. Nevertheless, if the draft was ultimately omitted and Southey’s prequel to Christabel never published, the decision to write it in the first place is telling. It reminds us – as does the earlier relationship with ‘Kubla Khan’ – that Thalaba is a poem whose genesis was intimately bound up with the relationship with Coleridge, as a poem shaped by Southey’s desire to generate, from Coleridge’s fragments, historical romances that combined fantasy and action and that would act out in external events (and in the process create a causal explanation of), the moral ambivalence and psychological complicity that Coleridge kept discovering in the old genres of ballad and romance. Both ‘Kubla Khan’ and Christabel, then, were seminal for Southey’s poem – just as it, in its early books and sources  – had been influential on Coleridge. And Thalaba, blending the historical and the fantastical, was seen by critic Francis Jeffrey as the defining example of the ‘new system’ that Southey, Coleridge and Wordsworth had together introduced into English poetry. Its hallmarks included ‘an affectation of great simplicity and familiarity of language’. It combined ‘perpetual exaggeration of thought’ with ‘splenetic and idle discontent with the existing institutions of society’ (Jeffrey, 1802, pp. 70, 75, 69). What we now call Romanticism – what Jeffrey called Lake poetry – that is to say, in its quintessential form emerged from the collaboration – both a common pool and a mutual differentiation – of Coleridge and Southey.

Notes 1 Charles H. Parry, in a journal letter headed ‘Göttingen May 4, 1799’ (Parry, 1799). 2 On Jones’s influence see Franklin (1995). 3 See Bloom (1970).


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

4 See Southey’s letter of 18 October 1799 to Humphry Davy, ‘At Exeter the advantage of a good library induced me to employ my time in laying in materials, a magazine of information, winter-stores for this country, where there is a dearth of books. So I travelled into Egypt & the Levant & Persia & the East Indies with every traveller whom I could find going that way – Fryer – Olearius – Mandelslo – De la Roque – the lying Lucas – Chardin the Jeweller who is worth them all’ (Southey, 2010, letter 447).


Coleridge, William Empson and Japan Seamus Perry

Much of Empson’s most powerful thinking about value and meaning arose, as John Haffenden’s biography made splendidly clear, from his immersion in the non-Christian cultures, first of Japan and then of China in the 1930s. Here, the dominant preoccupations and assumptions of the West met the very different preoccupations and assumptions of the East; and much of the energy and brilliance of Empson’s writing of this period (and, indeed, afterwards) came from his attempts to articulate those differences and to see, additionally, what might look different about the otherwise familiar literature back home once you began to look at it with eyes that had learned from being so very far abroad. Coleridge plays a key role in all this: he is not the only writer who helped Empson work out the contradictions of his own experience and to find their broader relevance, but he was one of the most important; and Empson’s reflections upon Coleridge’s early poetry especially, which began to stir while he lived in Japan, lie behind one of the very greatest of all essays about Coleridge – the marvellously original account of Coleridge’s puzzling masterpiece, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. Empson’s fullest account of the poem appeared many years afterwards, in 1966 (1987, pp. 297–319), and it was subsequently reworked and expanded to form the introduction to a selection of Coleridge’s poetry made with David Pirie (Coleridge, 1971a, pp. 13–100). It is a complex and intricate example of the argumentative late Empson, and it is easiest to see what it is about by sketching out the line with which it is disagreeing. A normal reading of ‘The Ancient Mariner’, it is probably still true to say, interprets the poem as a deployment, perhaps a reimagining, of deeply Christian structures of thought. In Natural


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

Supernaturalism, for instance, M. H. Abrams draws on a whole tradition of reading the poem when he describes it in just such terms: Killing ‘the bird that loveth the man’ is an act which expresses the Mariner’s prideful self-sufficiency, his readiness to cut himself off from the universal community of life and love. His punishment is to experience the full measure of his elected isolation, in a world in which all his companions have died and nature has become alien and inimical to him . . . [at the turning point of the poem] the Mariner has learned what it means to belong to a place, a native land, a family, and a home. . . . At once the terrible spell snaps, the dead natural elements ‘burst into life’ and, benign once more, move the Mariner along on his own circular journey . . . his literal and spiritual circumnavigation of the globe. (1971b, pp. 273–4)

Abrams expresses with characteristic intelligence and lucidity the case for a Christian view of the Mariner’s story: it is a poem structured around a narrative of homecoming and pilgrimage, a pattern of murderous transgression, followed by terrible suffering, and profound remorse, from which, and through which, the Mariner is finally saved. It is the shape of the Christian life; it is the story told by Milton; and it is an interpretation of the poem that we are warmly encouraged towards by the prose glosses in the margin of the poem that Coleridge added when he published the poem in its most important revision in Sibylline Leaves in 1817 (Coleridge, 1817, pp. 1–39). The marginal glosses seem to leave little doubt about the spiritual trajectory of the Mariner’s progress: ‘The ancient Mariner inhospitably killeth the pious bird of good omen’ (l. 79); ‘And the Albatross begins to be avenged’ (l. 119); ‘The spell begins to break’ (l. 288); ‘The supernatural motion is retarded; the Mariner awakes, and his penance begins anew’ (l. 430); ‘The curse is finally expiated’ (l. 442) (see PW, vol. 1, part 1, pp. 379, 381, 395, 405). The whole thing appears to present a very emphatic sort of structure, striking up a clear alliance with orthodox Christianity: a student of Empson’s told him that she would have hanged the Mariner from the yard-arm with her own hands. ‘I had to warn her that the External Examiner would consider this to be in the wrong tone of voice, but she was expressing the orthodox modern view’ (Empson, 1987, p. 297). But Empson was not persuaded: ‘I think it does the poem a lot of harm’ (1987, p. 297). Empson was, as was well known by the time of the ‘Mariner’ essay, firmly, sometimes belligerently, anti-Christian, and he had come to see as one of the main tasks of modern criticism the saving of great literature from the clutches of ‘neo-Christians’. The young Donne was frequently the object of his attempts

Coleridge, William Empson and Japan


to rescue genius, and Coleridge was such another. It is not that ‘The Ancient Mariner’ does not contain Christian ideas, as most obviously it does; but those elements were not simply endorsed by the poet, but rather displayed and analysed as though a startling example of psychopathology, an important and historically specific disease of the mind, like witchcraft or militarism. What Coleridge did to the poem in later life, when he was, relatively speaking, more straightforwardly a Christian believer, is another matter; but in the early poem of the 1798 Lyrical Ballads, it is, in Empson’s reading, not a poem of Christian Romanticism at all: it is rather, a poem of the non-conformist Enlightenment. (I take my quotations from now on from the 1798 text, except where noted otherwise.) Empson says: ‘To make the poem Christian one must argue that the Mariner committed a real crime, and this has afforded many critics a steep but direct path to the wild heights of Pecksniffery which are their spiritual home’ (1987, p. 297). But what would make one think of shooting a bird as a crime at all? Empson begins by picking up on a suggestion made by Auden (1951): the important historical backdrop that Coleridge purposefully imagines for the poem is the extraordinary maritime expansion of the European Renaissance, as recorded in Shelvocke’s Voyages and elsewhere; and the feeling associated with the reports of these adventurers, Empson thought, was overpoweringly one of guilt (1987, p. 303). It would have been so for the liberal-minded, no doubt, and during the later 1790s Coleridge had been a passionate and outspoken advocate for the abolition of the slave trade; but it is not necessary to believe that the Mariner’s ship is in some figurative way a slave vessel still to associate his voyage with what Coleridge saw as a long, dreadful and shaming history: ‘it would not be right to say that the Albatross was a “symbol” of the ill-treated natives, but the terrible cry “I didn’t know it was wrong when I did it” belongs somehow naturally to the whole set-up of the exploring ship’ (Empson, 1987, p. 304). The Mariner himself is hardly able to make any such historical connection explicitly, of course: he is adrift in the dark history that the poem has come to anatomize; but he intuitively thinks of his ship as the first ever to ‘burst’ into the silence of the Pacific (l. 101), as though feeling himself complicit with the violation of something previously precious and unspoiled. The Mariner’s incomplete acquaintance with the significance of his own story is an important part of the workings of the poem: as in a Henry James story, much of the power of the thing lies in the way we come to know more than the narrator of the tale does, his own take on events being so striking because it fails to add up. Leslie Stephen, among others, had noted the extreme oddity of the poem’s moral logic once you adopt a bracingly literal-minded attitude towards it (1907,


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

p. 355): the people who get killed off agonizingly are the Mariner’s shipmates, whose special misdemeanour is not easy to spot; and Empson’s finest insight here may have been to grasp the apparently crazy inconsequentiality that lies at the heart of the poem as more than just a peculiarity to be quizzical about. The Mariner’s guilt and his suffering are disproportionate to their occasion – rather as Hamlet, in T. S. Eliot’s reading, comes across as someone whose complexity is somehow excessive to the requirements of the play in which he finds himself. (Empson refers in passing to Eliot’s reading of Hamlet: Empson, 1987, p. 318.) The Mariner probably shot the albatross for food, Empson later suggested in his voice of unflustered rationalism, quite possibly to make a good soup: we know there are worms in the biscuits so the ship is certainly short of supplies (Coleridge, 1971a, pp. 35–6); and if the Mariner does not trouble himself to recall such details to the wedding guest, then that is hardly surprising as he is locked in the prison of his ‘Neurotic Guilt’, in Empson’s strong phrase (Empson, 1987, p. 305; Coleridge, 1971a, p. 39). His needy mind fastens on the episode of the bird-shooting and strives to make it the centre-piece of a Christian story of crime and penance, the kind of story that his education has led him to expect will make good sense of things; but the template and the raw material do not match. He has told the story ten thousand times already, Coleridge once said (1990, vol. 1, p. 274): the endless reiterations of the narrative, repeated attempts to get the story to fit, prove hopeless. But if Christian motifs appear in the poem as elements within a story of psychological damage, that is not to say that there are no glimpses of health within the poem – even though, since the poem emerges through the mediating consciousness of the Mariner himself, any more positive vision is only ever going to appear tangentially. The redemptive moment in Empson’s reading centres on the episode of the water snakes: it is a matter of finding a ‘love of almost intolerable creatures’, in Empson’s words, ‘products of Nature when particularly inhospitable’ (1987, p. 310). Beyond the shadow of the ship, I watch’d the water-snakes: They mov’d in tracks of shining white, And when they rear’d, the elfish light Fell off in hoary flakes. Within the shadow of the ship I watch’d their rich attire: Blue, glossy green, and velvet black,

Coleridge, William Empson and Japan


They coil’d and swam; and every track Was a flash of golden fire. O happy living things! no tongue Their beauty might declare: A spring of love gusht from my heart, And I bless’d them unaware! Sure my kind saint took pity on me, And I bless’d them unaware. The self-same moment I could pray; And from my neck so free The Albatross fell off, and sank Like lead into the sea. (1798 text; PW, vol. 1, part 1, pp. 392–4, ll. 272–91)

The Mariner naturally seeks to understand his experience in the terms to hand, those of Catholic Christianity; but the real substance of this moment is, according to Empson, a very different kind of spirituality: The snakes are absolutely other to him, like beings of another planet, and it is an alien part of his own mind which blesses them; he is astonished that the saving act has been performed. I do not think there is any traditional Christian parallel to this; the process is entirely unlike, though it may easily recall, the repentant saint punishing himself by kissing the leper’s sores. The process indeed is exactly the other way up. The Mariner is astonished to find his inside admiring what his outside had thought disgusting, but at once feels happy and thankful about it, so that his outside joins forces with his inside. (1987, p. 311)

An ‘alien’ part of the Mariner saves him, in the teeth of the punitive spiritual terms he has inherited from his Christian upbringing: he turns out to be, fleetingly, somehow better than the man he has been brought up to be. And if one were to ask where Empson’s awareness of some special but ‘alien’ spirituality might have come from, running so contrarily to Christian habits of thinking, then I think the answer is that it came from Japan. Empson’s arrival in Japan was the consequence of a disaster that was the making of him. After a dazzling undergraduate career at Cambridge he was expelled from his college for what the rule book called ‘sexual misconduct’ (Haffenden, 2005, p. 245). He first retreated to lodgings in London to write up his undergraduate essays, which he shaped into Seven Types of Ambiguity; he now had some intellectual celebrity but he still needed a job; and he began


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

to look abroad. His Cambridge mentor, I. A. Richards, was a regular visitor to China, and he had written about Chinese philosophy in his famous Cambridge book Practical Criticism (1929, pp. 283–90): that might have put into Empson’s mind the thought of travelling East. In the event, though, the job that turned up was not in China but in Japan, a three-year Professorship at the University of Literature and Science (Tokyo Bunrika Daigaku) associated with a part-time job lecturing at the Tokyo Imperial University (Teidai); and Empson left for Tokyo in August 1931 (Haffenden, 2005, p. 286). He found Tokyo uncomfortably noisy, and he was frustrated by the difficulty of learning Japanese (Haffenden, 2005, p. 290); but he eventually found a quieter part of town, and soon reduced his lodgings to the agreeable squalor that was his preferred mode of existence, and, while never feeling anything like at home, he began to work productively. He warmed to his students, and against the advice of the senior professors, he befriended some of them; and many have left stories, amusing or touching or both, of their professor. He was evidently an attentive teacher and a demanding one: ‘What do you think?’ one pupil records him saying: ‘You must have an opinion’ (Haffenden, 2005, p. 300). He stayed until June 1934. Empson later said: ‘One reason I wanted to come East was to find out what teaching was like across so large a gulf ’ (Haffenden, 2005, p. 304); and, although he found the formality and reticence of his Japanese students maddening at times, the attempt to teach across so large a gap in common knowledge was to prove immensely fruitful. His famous passage on Gray’s ‘Elegy’, for example, grew from marking an essay and disagreeing with the reverence with which the student had treated the poet’s politics (Haffenden, 2005, p. 301). He wrote a lot. ‘I am trying to have a book of essays ready when I come home’, he reported home self-deprecatingly in October 1933, ‘but it will be quite dull’ (Empson, 2006, p. 71). But it was not dull: it was Some Versions of Pastoral. The book appeared a little after Empson’s return to England, in 1935; of the four lifetime books it is regarded by many as his finest; and it was, in large part, his Japanese book. First versions of the essays on double plots and the sonnets of Shakespeare had been published in Tokyo journals, as were the first outing of the opening essay on ‘Proletarian Literature’ (subsequently reprinted in Scrutiny), the original account of The Beggar’s Opera and the essay about Andrew Marvell. The most important ‘alien’ thing that Empson found in Japan was Buddhism; and, once alerted to it, you see the evidence of the East, and of Buddhism in particular, all over Some Versions. The essay about Marvell, for example, begins with a striking piece of cross-cultural negotiation:

Coleridge, William Empson and Japan


The chief point of the poem is to contrast and to reconcile conscious and unconscious states, intuitive and intellectual modes of apprehension; and yet that distinction is never made, perhaps could not have been made; his thought is implied by his metaphors. There is something very Far-Eastern about this. (Empson, 1935, p. 119)

This first appeared in the Japanese journal, Studies in English Literature, published by the English Literary Society of Japan, in August 1932: it is wholly characteristic of the man that, resident for less than a year, he should feel confident instructing his Japanese audience about what something ‘Far-Eastern’ looks like. The lines from Marvell that Empson has in mind as Far-Eastern are ‘Annihilating all that’s made / To a green thought in a green shade’, which he represents in explicitly Buddhist terms: ‘So far as he has achieved his state of ecstasy he combines them, he is “neither conscious nor not conscious,” like the seventh Buddhist state of enlightenment’ (Empson, 1935, pp. 119–20). One authority for Empson’s confident assertions about the mentality of the Far East, as we know from a later reference (1965, p. 239), was Hinduism and Buddhism: An Historical Sketch by Sir Charles Eliot, a diplomat who ended his career as British Ambassador in Tokyo. Despite the modesty of its subtitle, Eliot’s work comes in three hefty as well as absorbing volumes, in which Empson would have encountered a stirring regard paid to the East, and especially to the Buddha as, in Charles Eliot’s words, ‘undoubtedly one of the greatest intellectual and moral forces that the world has yet seen’ (1921, vol. 1, p. 169). Eliot was not expressing an unusual view, in fact: nineteenth-century British attitudes towards the Buddha were generally approving, it seems, though ignorance about the religion was pretty deep for much of Queen Victoria’s century (Almond, 1988, pp. 77, 11). Empson’s anti-metaphysical instincts would no doubt have been attracted by Eliot’s description of the Buddha as someone whose interest was, ‘at bottom ethical rather than metaphysical’ (Eliot, 1921, vol. 1, p. 194); the spirit of the following passage, among others, might have spoken to him with special vividness: Let me confess that I cannot share the confidence in the superiority of Europeans and their ways which is prevalent in the west. Whatever view we take of the rights and wrongs of the recent war, it is clearly absurd for Europe as a whole to pose in the presence of such doings as a qualified instructor in humanity and civilization. . . . In fact European civilization is not satisfying and Asia can still offer something attractive to many who are far from Asiatic in spirit. (Eliot, 1921, vol. 1, p. xcvi)


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

For Empson, too, there was something about European civilization deeply ‘not satisfying’, and he came to think with a growing conviction that Christianity was a large part of the problem – though, also, a large part of the fascination of the problem. As though following in Sir Charles’s expansionist spirit, Empson spent his time in Japan becoming a keen and informed admirer of Noh plays; more significantly, he threw himself into a tour of sites to study Buddhist art, beginning to collect notes for a dissertation on representations of the face of the Buddha (thought lost until its recent rediscovery in the British Library). Empson visited numerous sites, including trips to China and Korea, and remarked later with some evident pride that he had had his nose ‘rubbed very firmly in the Buddha’ (Haffenden, 2005, p. 314). His thoughts about the Buddha’s face sound idiosyncratic, but they clearly speak to deep Empsonian preoccupations: It will be agreed that a good deal of the startling and compelling quality of these faces comes from their combining things that seem incompatible, especially a complete repose with an active power to help the worshipper. Now of course the two things must somehow be diffused through the whole face, or it would have no unity; the whole business is very subtle. But the normal way of getting the effect in the great periods is a reliable and simple one; the two incompatible things are largely separated into the two sides of the face. (Haffenden, 2005, p. 318)

That line of thinking draws on pre-existing themes: as Haffenden says in the consistently excellent biography, what Empson says about the Buddha’s face here is closely related to what he says about the value of ambiguity in poetry in Seven Types of Ambiguity (Haffenden, 2005, p. 318). Of the many contradictions brought together in Buddhism, Empson was especially attracted by its particular interinvolvement of life and death. He began to work out his thoughts on this subject in some complicated and unpolished notes for a talk, rescued from oblivion by John Haffenden. The talk is entitled ‘Death and Its Desires’ (1933), and in it Empson is, as he says himself, ‘praising Buddhism’, especially by contrasting its conception of death with that of Christianity. Thanks to its belief in reincarnation, the death impulse in Buddhism has an unexpected alliance with progressiveness and hope: ‘the worship of death here goes both with a plan for a better life and a fundamental doubt about the nature of death when attained’, is how he puts it (Empson, 1987, p. 537). Buddhist feeling, in Empson’s account, marries a frank and even intense sense of the inadequacy of the world with a curiously emphatic positive feeling about it: as Charles Eliot says, contrasting the Buddha and Christ, ‘the Buddha

Coleridge, William Empson and Japan


was not angry with the world. He thought of it as unsatisfactory and transitory rather than wicked, and ignorant rather than rebellious. . . . In his life there is no idea of sacrifice, no element of the tragic, no nervous irritability’ (1921, vol. 1, p. 181). ‘The feeling that life is essentially inadequate to the human spirit, and yet that a good life must avoid saying so, is naturally at home with most versions of pastoral’, is how Empson puts a cognate wisdom in his Japanese book (1935, pp. 114–15); the Buddhist text that mattered most to Empson in working out the implications of such richly contradictory ideas was the Fire Sermon: Everything, Bikkhus, is on fire. What everything, Bikkhus, is on fire? The eye is on fire, the visible is on fire, the knowledge of the visible is on fire, the contact with the visible is on fire, the feeling which arises from the contact with the visible is on fire, be it pleasure, be it pain, be it neither pleasure nor pain. (2000, p. 3)

Empson used that famous passage as the epigraph to his Poems, which also appeared in 1935; what he liked about it, enough to make it the keynote of Poems, probably, was the way it mingled an apprehension of innate unhappiness with an overriding compulsion nevertheless to embrace that same life as an unsurpassable good. The Fire Sermon is at once pessimistic because it portrays the world as incorrigibly replete with suffering, but also profoundly hopeful, in that it keeps open a prospect of movement towards the final release of self-emptiness. ‘[T]he art of death wishes’, Empson says, ‘static as it may appear, essentially wishes to move you beyond itself; and I at least after poking in this topic can only leave it with the drone of [The Fire Sermon] still sounding in my ears’ (1987, p. 546). Part of Buddhist wisdom lay in its refusal to underestimate the difficulties of existence in the first place: ‘believing more rosy things about the universe, on the specific ground that we will otherwise feel frustrated (as this is what the arguments that are proffered to us nowadays by nearly all religious leaders tend to make us do), is extremely harmful’, he would later write in The Structure of Complex Words (Empson, 1954, p. 428). The Buddha and his followers did not expect you to believe that anything was rosy  – not that even Buddhism won Empson’s entire endorsement: ‘I would be very sorry to hear of one of my friends becoming either a Buddhist or Christian monk, though I would expect him to be less hurt in bringing his mind to accept being a Buddhist one’ (1987, p. 569). Empson’s first acquaintance with the Fire Sermon, like most of his contemporaries’, was thanks to its appearance in T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, and thinking about Eliot was a good way for Empson to think about what mattered to him in Buddhism. When he wrote an introduction to a translation of Eliot’s essays for a Japanese audience in 1933, Empson began by wondering ‘whether


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

[Mr Eliot’s views] are any use in Japan’; he concluded that indeed they were, so long as the Japanese reader made a certain inward alteration as he read: ‘I should think the Japanese reader will find a great deal of truth in these essays, provided that he reads Buddhism for Christianity throughout’ (1987, p. 568). This was a little cheeky, since by 1933 Eliot had become a well-advertised member of the Church of England; but Empson was not alone in thinking that Eliot’s Christianity retained a savour of the Buddhist teaching to which he had been exposed originally at Harvard. The key issue for Eliot, as Empson told his Japanese readers, was the matter of ‘impersonality’, the war on ‘personality’: in this regard, Eliot, who in his early essays had often emphasized the all-importance of escaping the individual personality, both while making art and leading a life, appeared to make common cause with Buddhist styles of thinking. The selflessness of the Buddhist self emulates the impersonality of divinity within Buddhist theology, and Empson thought nothing more important about it than that: ‘In the West’, he wrote a few years later, ‘the supreme God is a person, in the East he is not; their ideas about man follow from that. . . . It is much the most fundamental line of division between the civilizations of the world, and we need to understand the people on the other side’ (1987, p. 577). ‘I believe I am right in calling this the central issue between Christianity and Buddhism’, Empson said elsewhere (1987, p. 568), an issue so central because, once the deity had been conjured into something like a person, with motives for his actions and desires to be fulfilled, the suffering of the world took on the peculiar and disturbing aspect of being wished-for or intended. Empson never tired of saying duly startling things about the evils of this non-Buddhist God: ‘I think Buddhism much better than Christianity’, as he says in his late book Milton’s God, ‘because it managed to get away from the Neolithic craving to gloat over human sacrifice.’ That is not how most Christians think of their religion, needless to say; but Empson’s preferred version of God was quite different to the Father: he preferred a deity that had opted, as he once put it, to ‘dissolve into the landscape and become immanent only’ (1966, pp. 134; 133). ‘The god approached dissolves into the air’, he says in a poem composed in Japan (‘Doctrinal Point’, l. 1; Empson, 2000, p. 59): that was how he liked his Gods to behave. Empson’s acquaintance with Buddhist thought brought into prominence similar feelings of scepticism about the orthodox Christian scheme that young Coleridge, too, had entertained. Empson was fond of quoting a passage of Coleridge’s which similarly imagines Christ’s divinity, heterodoxically, as a kind of dissolved ground of Being, rather than an embodied personhood: ‘might not Christ be the World as revealed to human knowledge  – a kind of

Coleridge, William Empson and Japan


common sensorium, the idea of the whole that modifies all our thoughts?’ (1935, pp. 79–80). Empson would have found that passage, which comes from Coleridge’s annotations to Kant, quoted in Muirhead’s Coleridge the Philosopher (Muirhead, 1930, p. 250); but what he could not have known, because they did not get published until 1971, were the many analogous sentiments about the impersonality of the Deity expressed by Coleridge in the lectures on revealed religion delivered in 1795. Even as he grew closer to Trinitarian orthodoxy in middle age, Coleridge could admit that ‘[f]or a very long time indeed I could not reconcile personality with infinity’ (1982, vol. 1, p. 201), which seems to imply a real struggle to do so, and a letter to an acquaintance, written in December 1803, shows how strong the impulses were that Coleridge had to conquer: Believe me, I have never ceased to think of you with respect & a sort of yearning – you were the first man, from whom I heard that article of my Faith distinctly enunciated, which is the nearest to my Heart, the pure fountain of all [my] moral & religious Feelings & [C]omforts – I mean, the absolute Impersonality of the [D]eity. The Many would deem me an Atheist; alas! I know them to be Idolators. (CL, vol. 2, pp. 1022–3)

Coleridge arrived at his thinking about such matters through his reading, principally, of the Unitarian thinker Joseph Priestley, not through his exposure to Buddhism or anything like; and he remained resistant to Anglican orthodoxy on such matters in many ways, never accepting easily what he once described, allegedly, to his young friend Thomas Allsop, as ‘“the raw-head-and-bloody-bones” jumble which it pleases the mystery-men who profit and those who from habit adhere to them, to call Christianity’ (Allsop, 1864, p. [iii]). At times his revulsion could hit a positively Empsonian note: ‘the Doctrine of Atonement as it is now held’, he told his doubtless startled audience in 1795, was ‘perhaps the most irrational and gloomy Superstition that ever degraded the human mind’ (Coleridge, 1971b, p. 204). There is another line of connection between what Empson found to admire in Buddhism, and what he responded to within Coleridge. Empson’s picture of the Buddha’s face, as a place where opposite impulses meet and are reconciled in a kind of inclusive serenity, draws, not just on Empson’s own earlier thinking about poetic ambiguity, but, behind that, on Coleridge’s sense of the imagination as that agency that ‘reveals itself in the balance or reconciliation of opposite or discordant qualities’, as chapter fourteen of Biographia Literaria puts it (Coleridge, 1983, vol. 2, p. 16). Prime among those discordances is the antithesis of life and death instincts; and it is telling that while contemplating such a powerful


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

Buddhist contradictoriness, in his notes on ‘Death and Its Desires’, Empson’s thoughts should first have turned towards ‘The Ancient Mariner’: The curse comes because the Mariner shoots the Albatross, symbol of the courage that can live among desolation which he has failed to enjoy, and he goes about carrying the corpse. Then in the tropics he despises the creatures of the calm. . . . He then sees the beauty of the creatures of the calm, and the spell breaks. This conception I think really is of the greatest magnificence: the trouble with the poem is that Coleridge thought he could put his clash into a plain Christian moral at the end . . . It is clear on this formula that any perversion may have great value if it gives power to find delight in the macabre sensation and therefore courage to face it; the central theme is that the man must have some power to stand up between the conflicting impulses of life and then he will make them valuable. (1987, pp. 544, 548)

It is the first glimpse of the approach to Coleridge’s masterpiece that will reappear in the great essay of 1966, and it arises from a meditation upon specifically Buddhist ideas. The Marvell essay in Some Versions of Pastoral also contains a glimpse of Coleridge, and draws on the same thoughts: So long as the Mariner is horrified by the creatures of the calm he is their slave; he is set free to act, in the supreme verses of the poem, as soon as he delights in them. The final moral is He prayeth best, that loveth best All things both great and small But that copybook maxim is fine only if you can hold it firmly together with verses such as this, which Coleridge later omitted: The very deeps did rot; oh Christ That such a thing should be; Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs Upon the slimy sea. (1935, pp. 120–1)

Empson is saying something striking and suggestive here: effectively, that Coleridge had managed to arrive at his own version of the wisdom of Buddhist contradictoriness, obviously without having any direct access to Buddhist thinking, before he began to succumb to the morally distorting pressures of Christian conformity. The moment with the water snakes is akin to the revelation

Coleridge, William Empson and Japan


that lies at the heart of kinds of Zen art, as Empson would have encountered them: arts which, in the words of Peter Harvey, ‘seek to express the true “thusness” of a phenomenon or situation, its mysterious living “spirit” as it is found in the ever-changing fabric of experience’ (1990, p. 277). Buddhism helped Empson to discover in young Coleridge, and enforced within himself, an imaginative logic of interrelatedness: a pantheistic awareness that things were vitally connected, so that, religiously, the desolate somehow contains the idea of the consoled; or, sociologically, the poor contains the idea of the rich; or, aesthetically, the disgusting contains the idea of the beautiful or the noble. Such paradoxes are a recurrent feature of Buddhist texts and meditations; and no small part of Empson’s greatness was to translate them into the terms of European literature when he described ‘pastoral’ as one expression of this complicated and rich idea of the interconnectedness of diverse experiences. Coleridge, too, in his distinct idiom, remained finely attuned to the way that one kind of reality may impinge upon and involve within itself other kinds of reality – what he calls in Biographia ‘the latency of all in each’ (1983, vol. 2, p. 128). When commentators told Empson off for saying that Marvell was a Buddhist, his response was robust: ‘surely I was not thought to be saying that he must have learned [these ideas] from a Buddhist . . . [t]o prove that his ideas weren’t only a fashion, because they occurred elsewhere, seems to me more interesting than to prove that he was only copying a current fashion’ (1953, p. 115). Some Versions of Pastoral is a masterpiece because it is so ready to make connections across the cultures it inhabits, alert to the way that great literature itself connects things with other things, incorporating what’s ‘alien’ with what’s familiar, and engaging in the Coleridgean activity of balancing or reconciling opposite or discordant qualities.


Oriental Aesthetes and Modernity: The Reception of Coleridge in Early Twentieth-Century Japan Kaz Oishi

Coleridge orientalized as a decadent aesthete Coleridge remained in obscurity in Japan even at the beginning of the twentieth century. Few significant monographs appeared on him until April 1929, when a special issue of the Eigo-Kenkyu (English Studies), a popular monthly journal on English language and literature, came out with essays and translations of his works. The neglect is curious, given that other Romantics, as well as Victorian poets, began to be eagerly read, studied and translated into Japanese soon after the feudal Tokugawa government collapsed with the Meiji Restoration in 1868. The opening essay by Oshima Shōtaro (1899–1980) hints at a reason for Coleridge’s unpopularity. He explains that his poems possess a magical beauty, but are hardly edifying: ‘[Coleridge] is a draught of wind that inspires wonder in human senses, a supernatural spirit, and a beauty of no use in human society’ (1929, p. 346). What he finds most embarrassing is that there is no distinctive virtue to be found in Coleridge, as in Blake, Wordsworth or Byron: Coleridge did not create a visionary world as Blake did. He never had a revolutionary idea like Byron. Nor did he ever formulate his own view of life, as Wordsworth did. . . . Coleridge was in no way a thinker: he aspired to be a philosopher, only in vain; he strove to study religion, but could not be a theologian. (Oshima, 1929, p. 339, translation mine)


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

Coleridge is presented as a purely aesthetic, therefore unenlightening and useless poet. His continuous suffering from dejection and opium addiction was also reproved. Coleridge as a self-indulgent poet had long been the image imposed by his contemporary and Victorian adversaries, but in Japan it was puffed up by a unique historical context of the Meiji era. The most devastating was an accusation inflicted by Samuel Smiles in Self-Help (1859). His gospel of industry was received enthusiastically by the Japanese public, who aspired to improve themselves in the newly democratized society. A translation of it had already appeared in 1870, and remained a best-seller throughout the following decades. It is no exaggeration to claim that the book fashioned the ideology of modern Japan. People came across Coleridge’s name for the first time in the book as a talented, yet procrastinating poet. While appraising Humphrey Davy as a diligent man who established himself with ‘an energy and elasticity in his mind’, Smiles introduces his mentor Coleridge, in Davy’s words, as ‘the most exalted genius’, yet, ‘the victim of a want of order, precision, and regularity’ (1859, p. 79). Later in the book, he again castigates Coleridge in contrast to ‘noble’ and ‘indefatigable’ Southey: ‘[w]ith all his great intellectual gifts’, Coleridge ‘wanted the gift of industry’ and a ‘sense of manly independence’, because he left his wife and children to Southey’s care while he himself kept musing reclusively on idealism at Highgate (Smiles, 1859, p. 273). The contrast was striking and convincing enough for Japanese people to accept that Coleridge was a lethargic, dissipated poet, while studious, vibrant Davy should be regarded as their ideal role model in catching up with Western civilization. Despite Smiles’ criticism of Coleridge’s artistic dissoluteness, or rather because of that, Coleridge was received by some Japanese readers as a decadent aesthete. In an article in the 1929 Eigo-Kenkyu, for instance, the poet and scholar Taketomo Sōfu (1891–1954) argues that what he calls ‘Romantic Gothicism’ in Coleridge’s poems initiated decadent works of Poe, Baudelaire and Mallarmé. For him, the grotesque and sublime images in his poems are most appealing, especially when evoked by a rugged, discordant language. On the image of a ghost ship in ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, Taketomo observes that, to represent such a vague, shapeless object, Coleridge ‘adopted a distorted form without a clear outline, and an impressionistic, profoundly evocative language, in a manner which almost approaches Symbolist poetry’ (1929, p. 361). A similar kind of ‘decadence’, he adds, is evident in the opening lines of Christabel. The uncanny atmosphere and the grotesque, ghostly images in Coleridge’s poems are associated with nineteenth-century poets of decadent bent.

Oriental Aesthetes and Modernity


A similar view was more zealously presented by Hinaz Konosuke (1890– 1971), another academic and poet. In his Eigo-Kenkyu article, he follows John Livingston Lowes in examining the ‘daemonic’ role of the albatross in ‘The Ancient Mariner’ (Lowes, 1927, pp. 221–41), but curiously goes further to connect it with the bird in Poe’s ‘The Raven’ and the dove in Rossetti’s ‘The Blessed Damozel’. Hinaz argues that the Gothic supernaturalism in Coleridge’s albatross along with the sense of degeneration in the poem anticipates the eerie, artificial image of the raven in Poe and the religious image of the dove in Rossetti, leading ultimately to the decadent literature of the fin de siècle (1929, p. 370). The observation reflects Hinaz’s own taste to some extent. He absorbed French Symbolism as well as English Romanticism and disseminated them among Japanese readers. We cannot dismiss his view, or Taketomo’s, as a misguided interpretation by ignorant oriental scholar-poets. Both Hinaz and Taketomo were well informed about contemporary European literature. Hinaz’s library, now at Iida City Library, contains an impressive range of contemporary books, not merely on English, French and Japanese literature, but also on philosophy, religion, anthropology and psychology. Nor should we underestimate his influence either. Though neglected now, he vigorously contributed to transplanting Romanticism and decadence into modern Japanese poetry through his critical, editorial and poetical works in the early and mid-twentieth century. More importantly, Coleridge’s most popular poems in early twentieth-century Japan were ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, Christabel and ‘Love’. ‘Kubla Khan’, of course, was admired as a masterpiece, but its oriental setting did not attract much critical attention. Instead, ‘Love’, a sentimental narrative of an infatuated knight in a medieval setting, was frequently included or translated in various anthologies. We find one translated version in the 1929 Eigo-Kenkyu, and Hinaz himself translated it in a refined, decadent language. The allegedly unfinished Christabel and ‘Love’ were both popular even in Coleridge’s lifetime much to his vexation (BL, vol. 2, pp. 7, 238), and yet their Japanese reception calls for a reassessment of the relationship between Coleridge and the Orient. ‘Kubla Khan’ perfectly fits into what Edward Said (1978) defines as Orientalism: it is an artificial product of Western imagination which lacks substantial authenticity and hence does not appeal to the oriental imagination of Japanese readers. Instead, they found something more congenial and even ‘oriental’ in Gothic-decadent elements in ‘The Ancient Mariner’, ‘Love’ and Christabel. To argue that all Japanese readers viewed Coleridge as a decadent would be absurd. Other essays in the Eigo-Kenkyu volume, indeed, addressed orthodox subjects, such as Coleridge and German Idealism, Coleridge as a Shakespearean critic and


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

his education at Christ’s Hospital. And yet the fact that some Japanese readers embraced Coleridge as a precursor of decadent aesthetes revealingly points to a unique manner in which Coleridge and Romantic literature were received in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Japan. An analysis of this singular context will clarify the way in which Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient were cross-culturally negotiated and materialized. As studies in Elinor Shaffer and Edoardo Zuccato’s The Reception of Coleridge in Europe suggest, Coleridge was infiltrated profusely through European countries with variegated aesthetic and political implications. Doré’s illustrations for ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ in decadent France (Soubigou, 2007), and the appreciation of Coleridge’s aestheticism and liberalism in twentieth-century Italy (Zuccato, 2007), in particular, present equivalent cases to the Japanese reception in the early twentieth century. As Seamus Perry demonstrates, however, Coleridge as a critic of Benthamite utilitarianism, and of free-trading and industrialized society as its outcome, had already been a dominant influence upon J. S. Mill, Matthew Arnold and throughout the Victorian age (2007, pp. 14–20). Coleridge as an indolent, fragmentary proto-aesthete was powerfully evoked by Walter Pater and Swinburne, and associated by Arthur Symons with Mallarmé and by Yeats via John Charpentier with Valéry’s poésie poetique pure (Perry, 2007, pp.  20–2). A majority of Japanese readers did not grasp the religious and cultural implications behind Coleridge’s idea of the ‘clerisy’ correctly (C&S, pp. 46–7, 53–4, 193, 200), much less Coleridge’s modern definition of ‘aesthetic’ (SWF, vol. 2, pp. 938–9). Nevertheless, they embraced these contradictory Victorian images of Coleridge together, when Romanticism and Victorian ethics and literature were channelled all at once into Japan at the opening of the country. With Japanese romantic literature rising under the mixed influence of European Romanticism, decadence and Symbolism in the last decades of the nineteenth century, Coleridge also went through a curious metamorphosis into a modern decadent aesthete. This ‘orientalization’ of Coleridge shows how oriental readers responded to Romantic imagination and thereby unearths a far more convoluted process of cross-cultural negotiations implicated in Coleridge’s works themselves than the orientalism in ‘Kubla Khan’.

Coleridge’s supernaturalism and the ‘ghostly’ As the popularity of Samuel Smiles’ Self-Help implies, Japan in the Meiji era was marked by the advance of utilitarian thinking, industry and imperial ambition,

Oriental Aesthetes and Modernity


but this did not necessarily restrain the development of literature, and may rather have promoted it as an antidote to the ideology of industry. European influence facilitated its modernization in the 1870s and 1880s. Japanese poems abandoned their conventional forms and archaic language for a more colloquial style with more varied metres and rhythms. After Japan’s victory in the Sino-Japanese War (1894–5), however, the swift growth of nationalism turned the nation’s eyes from the West towards the value of their own cultural assets. Such patriotic confidence was further enhanced when the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1900 gave lavish accolades to traditional Japanese arts and crafts. Western literature, in turn, was reassessed and reassimilated by the exalted Japanese aestheticism into what might be called ‘Occidentalism’, a counterpart to Said’s Orientalism, through which European culture was artificially reconstructed by oriental imagination within its ideological matrix. Very ironically, the ‘orientalization’ of Coleridge and Romanticism in Japan evolved through this process of ‘occidentalization’ in a modernizing, industrial society. Lafcadio Hearn (1850–1904), in particular, played a significant part in amalgamating English Romanticism with the Japanese native tradition of Gothic literature and, as a consequence, with fin-de-siècle decadence. Hearn, a son of an Irish army surgeon and a Greek mother, came to Japan in 1890 as a newspaper correspondent. He was soon enchanted by the country and took up a few teaching positions in provincial cities before he was appointed as a Lecturer at Tokyo Imperial University in 1896. He continued to deliver lectures on a wide range of topics in English and American Literature until he died in 1904. His influence was far-reaching. Transcriptions of his lectures were passed around even among students of other universities and eventually published. Hearn accepted the conventional view of English Romanticism as a lyrical and emotional form of expression with an emphasis on its beneficent influence upon the formative process of individual personality (1922, vol. 1, p. 21). He was unique, however, in transplanting Romantic poetry unto the tradition of Japanese literature. In one lecture, for instance, he introduced Keats’s sonnet ‘On the Grasshopper and Cricket’, as an equivalent to Japanese haiku, a short form of poetry which describes natural objects, such as insects, birds and flowers, with vivid sensorial perceptions in the pattern of 5-7-5 syllables (Hearn, 1922, vol. 1, p. 185). Keats was conjoined so tactfully with Japanese aesthetic sensibility that this minor poem became one of the most frequently cited poems in Japan. Another crucial link Hearn made between English Romanticism and Japanese aestheticism was their shared interest in supernaturalism and ghosts.


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

While collecting Japanese ghost stories himself in Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things (1903), Hearn examined the meanings and functions of ‘ghostly’ elements in literature in a lecture on ‘The Value of the Supernatural in Fiction’. The Anglo-Saxon word ‘ghostly’, he argues, covers not just what the Latinate words ‘spiritual’ and ‘supernatural’ suggest, but everything that we now call ‘divine, holy, miraculous’ (Hearn, 1922, vol. 2, p. 90). He then goes on to claim that all great art is ‘ghostly’: The mystery of the universe is now weighing upon us, becoming heavier and heavier, more and more awful, as our knowledge expands, and it is especially a ghostly mystery. All great art reminds us in some way of this universal riddle; that is why I say that all great art has something ghostly in it. It touches something within us which relates to infinity. (Hearn, 1922, vol. 2, p. 92)

Hearn’s interest in supernaturalism was associated, first, with agnosticism, secondly, with his fin-de-siècle obsession with mysticism, and then with his Romantic aspiration towards ‘infinity’. Whether one believed in ghosts or not did not matter. ‘[A]ll the artistic elements of ghostly literature’, he argues, ‘exist in your dreams, and form a veritable treasure of literary material for the man that knows how to use them’ (Hearn, 1922, vol. 2, p. 93). This is very close to Coleridge’s idea of dream as a state in which the ‘Forms and Thoughts act merely by their own inherent power’ through the ‘willing suspension of disbelief ’ (BL, vol. 2, p. 6, CL, vol. 4, p. 641). Yet the examples Hearn took are Poe’s ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ and ‘Eleonora’, Bulwer Lytton’s ‘Prophecy of Capys’, and Théophile Gautier’s ‘La Morte Amoureuse’, ‘Arria Marcella’ and ‘Le Pied de Momie’, all of which represent ‘dream’ experiences in supernatural frameworks. ‘[T]he one romantic truth’, he asserts, ‘is ever the same – a dream truth’ (Hearn, 1922, vol. 2, p. 101). For Hearn, Romantic dreams are somehow tied up with ‘ghostly’ works of decadent inclination in the nineteenth century. English ballads, especially Romantic ones, were the genre which Hearn believed shows such ‘dream truths’ most conspicuously in visionary frameworks. As exemplary poems, he listed Coleridge’s ‘Ancient Mariner’, Christabel and, very significantly, ‘Love’, which he called an ‘exquisite piece’ (Hearn, 1922, vol. 1, p. 107). They display ‘something ghostly’ in the most beautiful and effective lines: It is very hard to define this something precisely; you must be able to feel it. It is something ghostly. The feeling of the supernatural was expressed by Coleridge in a much finer way than it had ever been expressed by any one before. And it is the sentiment of the supernatural in Coleridge which afterwards so beautifully

Oriental Aesthetes and Modernity


affected the imaginative work of Rossetti in directions that Coleridge never dreamed of. (Hearn, 1922, vol. 1, p. 110)

Coleridge is now defined as a poet of the ‘ghostly’. For Hearn, supernatural and Gothic elements in his ballads are the authentic subjects of English ballads. Probably he would have agreed with Charles Lamb, who earnestly defended the ‘Ancient Mariner’ as ‘a right English attempt, and a successful one, to dethrone German sublimity’ against Southey’s condemnation of its ‘Dutch attempt at German sublimity’ (Lamb, 1975–8, vol. 1, p. 142; Southey, 1798, p. 201). Hearn’s extraordinary reference to Rossetti as an heir to Coleridge is based upon his belief that both were the best ballad composers and were deeply immersed in mysticism and medievalism (Hearn, 1922, vol. 2, pp. 108, 117). Hearn’s lectures on Rossetti and Swinburne, indeed, reflect this view, focusing on their aesthetic mysticism, medievalism and skilful metrical techniques, yet entirely dismissing the sensual nature of their works. Only in this sense can Coleridge be associated with Poe’s Gothic stories. Hearn never favoured opium addiction, hedonism or moral degeneration as an aesthetic quality, but he admitted the possibility of romanticism tending towards decadence because literature often ‘began to decay or to grow barren’ and ‘the romantic tendency unchecked also leads to literary decadence’ (1922, vol. 1, p. 16). Coleridge was turned into a balladeer of the ‘ghostly’, inaugurating dreamy supernaturalism, mysticism and medievalism in the works of Rossetti, Swinburne, Poe and Gautier.

Coleridge among Japanese young literati Hearn was decisively influential in early twentieth-century Japan, but the direct origin of decadent Coleridge in Japan can be traced to a circle of young literati who gathered around the journal Bungakukai. They were eager to pursue studies in European literature and transplant them into the Japanese context. They grew increasingly political and religious towards the last decade of the nineteenth century under the leadership of Kitamura Tōkoku (1868–94), but his suicide in 1894 turned their interest to Romantics, Rossetti, Swinburne, Walter Pater, Arthur Symons and French Symbolists. Ueda Bin (1874–1916), an admirer of Walter Pater, became a leading figure among the renewed Bungakukai group and he acted as a catalyst that connected Coleridge with decadence. While a student, his intellectual brilliance was quickly recognized by his teacher Lafcadio Hearn, and he eventually became a poet and translator, a lecturer at Tokyo Imperial


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

University and a professor at Kyoto Imperial University. The works of decadents, in particular, such as Baudelaire, Gautier and Huysmans, fascinated him most. His skilful and melodious translations of their works captured the heart of new generations and contributed to further modernization of Japanese poetry. Through Hearn, he took an interest in English poems, especially Swinburne and the Romantics. For him, Coleridge’s ‘The Ancient Mariner’ and Christabel were the masterpieces of English poetry that excelled in lofty, but delicate thought, wild imagination and poetical beauties (Ueda, 1978, vol. 3, pp. 165–6). When he praised Swinburne for presenting sublime scenic beauties with passion and eloquence, he added that Coleridge was the only poet who matched him in creative talent (Ueda, 1978, vol. 3, pp. 147–8). At the same time, however, Romanticism for him was distinct from classicism in endorsing not only primitive simplicity, but also antiquated, Gothic sublimity and the state of ennui and melancholy, and thus in giving rise to the Pre-Raphaelites and the Symbolists (Ueda, 1978, vol. 3, p. 165). We can here detect a mixture of the influence of Hearn and Pater. Pater’s Renaissance was a bible among the Bungakukai literati, with his description of the melancholic ‘La Gioconda’ haunting their writings. Ueda was very likely to have read Pater’s Appreciations as well, in which Coleridge was portrayed as possessing ‘the power of the “Asiatic” temperament, of that voluptuousness’ which enjoys the ‘mystical communion of touch, between nature and man’, and yet fundamentally as being ‘a true flower of the ennuyé, of the type of René’, indulging in ‘that inexhaustible discontent, languor, and home-sickness, that endless regret, the chords of which ring all through our modern literature’ (1889, pp. 70, 105–6). Coleridge was projected as a remorse-bitten, restless ennuyé through Pater’s aesthetic mirror. It was Kambara Ariake (1875–1952), another of the Bungakukai literati, who brought this ‘Asiatic’ Coleridge within the pale of Japanese poetry. Initially he was fascinated by Keats. He made one of the earliest translations of ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ in 1902 and ‘Bright Star’ in 1903. But he was soon captivated by Rossetti, whom he encountered in a copy of Hearn’s lecture notebooks borrowed from a friend in August 1899. With no proper edition of his poems available, Ariake learnt by heart all the quotations Hearn made and eagerly studied writings and paintings of the ‘Fleshly School’, before he went on to study the French Symbolists sometime in 1904 under Ueda’s influence. As a poet, he tried to adapt all the techniques and forms he learnt from these Western poems to his own poems. His sonnet ‘Matsurika’ (‘Jasmine’) is an attempt to capture female phantoms evoked by the five senses in a Western poetical form, revealing not only the influence of Mallarmé and other Symbolists, but also that of fin-de-siècle decadents.

Oriental Aesthetes and Modernity


Kambara was no less attracted by the ballad form, probably after he read Hearn’s lecture on ‘English Ballads’ (Hearn, 1922, vol. 2, pp. 104–17). And he tried to create an equivalent form in Japanese with oriental subjects. An example is ‘Sata-no-Ōkimi’ (‘The God of Sata’, 1903), a poem which recounts the birth of a Japanese god in the Izumo region with a stanza consisting of five unrhymed lines and a refrain couplet. His indebtedness to Hearn’s interest in supernatural subjects is conspicuous. He knew that Hearn had once visited the region as a teacher in a neighbouring city. Another ballad ‘Hime-ga-Kyoku’ (‘The Song of the Queen’, 1905) was based on the Polynesian folklore of a water nymph who marries a human king, but returns to her subaqueous home when she conceives his child. Kambara claimed that he came across the story in William Wyatt Gill’s Myths and Songs from the South Pacific (1876), but he was doubtless aware that Hearn had already transformed it into a rhapsodic fairy tale entitled ‘The Fountain Maiden’ in Stray Leaves from Strange Literature (1884). In Kambara’s version, however, the nymph is described as a more enchanting, yet humane and compassionate figure in an exotic and sentimental narrative framework. The supreme outcome of Kambara’s intensive effort to harmonize oriental subjects with Western poetics is ‘Ningyo-no-Umi’ (‘The Sea of the Mermaid’, 1908). While reading Ihara Saikaku’s Budo-Denraiki (Legendary Tales of Knights, 1687), he discovered an interesting story of a Japanese samurai, or ‘knight-atarms’, who shot a mermaid with a bow, but soon died while searching for her corpse in order to prove his martial exploit to his jealous colleague. The latter part of the story relates his daughter’s revenge upon the colleague. The archaic and supernatural subject was tempting enough for Ariake to turn it into a ballad in the manner of Coleridge’s ‘Ancient Mariner’. An old mariner, indeed, appears in the original tale, but merely as a marginal figure. In Kambara’s poem, he features as a crucial witness to the knight’s violent deed and his daughter’s lamentation over his death. The revenge plot is entirely dismissed. Nor does his ballad contain any religious or moral implications. It is recreated as a purely sentimental narrative about a seductive, even sensuous mermaid. Kambara clearly seeks to apply what he learnt from Rossetti and French Symbolists to his Coleridgean ballad. ‘Her eyes were blue’, the mariner said. ‘Her hands were combing soft and smooth Wet hair hanging o’er milky breasts’. . . . . . . . . . .


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient In a merry voice like a lark she sang, And swam among the waves to him; Her hair cascades o’er piscine shoulders. She wore a smile mysterious: Like an abyss under the sea, Or a limpid pearl in the deep. She wore a smile unfathomable Alluring men in the chasm of love: Deeply fallen, fore’er decay’d. (Kambara, 1922, pp. 356, 379, ll. 52–4, 82–90, translation mine)

The mermaid emerges here as a seductive Circe-like woman. Then the knight stands up and shoots her with his bow. But when she begins to sink under the water, bleeding yet still smiling to him, he bizarrely sees an image of his deceased wife and tries to capture her in vain. He keeps loitering in search of her on the beach and is drowned two days later. Evidently Kambara uses the image of the ‘Knight-at-Arms’ in Keats’s ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’. The supernaturalism in Coleridge’s work of ‘pure Imagination’ (TT, vol. 1, p. 149) was converted into a sentimental narrative with a touch of Keatsian imagery and suggestive of a fin-de-siècle sense of decay and degeneration.

Coleridge and an oriental Gothic-Mystic aesthete The Japanese interest in Romanticism, Symbolism and decadence reflected the atmosphere of optimistic nationalism after the Japanese victory in the Sino-Japanese War. While capitalism developed industries and public transport systems, the victory allowed authors to pursue the world of ideals, and even that of love and hedonism, in literature. The Japanese romanticists began to lose momentum when naturalism grew dominant in the world of literature from around 1907. But they did not entirely disappear: rather they survived, though on a smaller scale, as a reaction against rapid industrialization and increasing militarism. In such a literary context, Hinaz Konosuke actively disseminated English Romanticism, French Symbolism and decadence from the late 1910s through his monographs, translations and periodicals, as well as his own poetical works, and synthesized them into an oriental kind of Gothic-Mystic aestheticism. His doctoral dissertation published as Bi-no-Shisai (The Priest of Beauty, 1939) was a

Oriental Aesthetes and Modernity


study of Keats as a melancholic decadent aesthete preceding Rossetti, Swinburne, Dowson and Baudelaire. It certainly reveals not just the influence of Walter Pater, Oscar Wilde and the Bungakukai circle, but also his own disposition. Because of his fragile constitution stricken by neuralgia and asthma, Hinaz was naturally inclined towards Keats, Coleridge and decadents, and obsessed in his own writings with the state of indolence, melancholy and weariness. He is often called ‘the eccentric among eccentrics’ (quoted in Keene, 1984, p. 258) mostly because of his idiosyncratic ‘Gothic-Roman style’. Withdrawn into a private world and exotic in diction, his poems are too formalistic, archaic and obscure, with excessively complicated Chinese characters, for modern readers. And yet Hinaz himself defined the ‘Gothic-Roman style’ as a ‘cosmopolitan’ poetical style which best fitted his nervous and melancholic nature and amalgamated all the Gothic and supernatural elements in the Japanese and Western literary traditions (1973–8, vol. 1, p. 136). Nor was he by any means an isolated apostate in the Japanese world of letters. He was influential as an editor of various periodicals and anthologies including Sabato, an organ of the Japanese decadent movement, and continued to publish works, both scholarly and poetical. Though detached from contemporary politics and nationalism, Hinaz represented the spirit of the age, in a singular way, when the influence of European literature was refashioned and reoriented by the rising nationalism. For Hinaz, Coleridge was a poet driven by ‘delicate sensibility’ to ‘pursue idealism in philosophy and imaginative exoticism in poetry’ (Hinaz, 1940–1, p. 26). In his copy of ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, Hinaz underlined in pencil the passages and words that appealed to his own morbid sensitivity and melancholic imagination, such as the description of the ship in a dead calm under ‘[t]he bloody Sun’ (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 380, l. 112), the feverish condition of the mariners ‘[w]ith throats unslaked, with black lips baked’ (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 384, l. 157), the lonely state of the mariner’s ‘soul in agony’ (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 390, l. 235) and the contrasting images of the mariners lying dead and ‘beautiful’ and the ‘thousand slimy things’ living under the sea (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 390, ll. 236, 238). He was evidently haunted by the isolated, agonized state of the crew and the Gothic and symbolic representations of the sea, the ship and the water snakes. It is not surprising then that Hinaz described Coleridge, borrowing Pater’s words exactly, as ‘a true flower of the ennuyé, of the type of René’, whose indisposition and opium-addicted indolence he believed had enhanced his poetical creativity and rich, sensitive and, sometimes, uncanny imagination (Hinaz, 1939, pp. 92–3; Pater, 1889, p. 105). He also read John Charpentier’s book in which Coleridge is curiously associated with Valéry and Mallarmé (Charpentier, 1929, pp. 137, 312).


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

Hinaz was also fascinated by Coleridge’s ‘Love’, perhaps under Hearn’s influence. He printed and translated the poem repeatedly in the anthologies he edited. In a sentimental narrative on a knight’s enchantment with ‘The Lady of the Land’ and his heroic death, Hinaz discovered the pathos and the kind of aesthetic sensibility which are common in traditional Japanese poetry, and tried to represent what Hearn called ‘the ghostly’ in his translation. If we compare Coleridge’s and Hinaz’s lines in the thirteenth stanza, Hinaz’s deliberate mistranslation is conspicuous. There came and look’d him in the face An angel beautiful and bright; And that he knew it was a Fiend, This miserable Knight! (PW, vol. 1, part 2. p. 608, ll. 49–52) A maiden divine emerg’d aglow, Bewitching, sensual, and lewd; ‘Is this a demon’s trick?’ he asked; Infatuation of the Knight in love. (Hinaz, 1949, p. 71, translation mine)

Hinaz transforms Coleridge’s ‘angel’ into a sexually enticing femme fatale to whom the knight falls prey. For ‘a Fiend’, Hinaz uses the Japanese word onigami, which means a ‘demon’ or sometimes a ‘dæmon’. The Romantic ballad is thus turned into a ‘ghostly’, decadent Japanese poem. The imagery clearly resembles that in Keats’s ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’. It is most likely that Hinaz accepted Mario Praz’s speculation that Keats took an inspiration for his poem from the above passage in ‘Love’ (Praz, 1933, p. 274, n. 17). Hinaz was a unique poet–scholar in Japan who seriously studied demonism (and dæmonism), vampirism and mysticism. His library, now in the possession of Iida City Library, contains various works in these fields, including works by Jacob Boehme, William Ralph Inge’s Christian Mysticism (1899; Hinaz owned the 1921 edition) and Francis Grierson’s Modern Mysticism and Other Essays (1899), the last of which he translated in 1922. With such interests, Hinaz continued to emphasize that Romanticism consists in supernaturalism, exoticism, mysticism and decadent pursuit of aesthetic beauty and sensuousness. We are tempted to assume Praz’s influence again on this point. While suggesting ‘a certain resemblance between the exoticist and the mystic’ in Romantic literature, the Italian scholar claimed that Keats’s ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’

Oriental Aesthetes and Modernity


contains in embryo all the elements that would grow in the Pre-Raphaelites, Symbolists and Decadents (Praz, 1933, pp. 201–2). The same idea is evident in Hinaz’s monograph on Keats, but he had already argued in a 1931 essay that the supernaturalism in Walter Scott’s novels is a successor to that in Gothic novels set in the East which aimed to stimulate popular sensation and enhanced the literary value of the ghostly (Hinaz, 1973–8, vol. 7, pp. 6, 9). Coleridge and Keats, he also asserted, both show earnest yearning after the exotic and the oriental. Coleridge, in particular, is viewed as an occultist whose delicate sensibility drove him towards idealism in philosophy and towards fantastic, enchanting romanticism in poetry (Hinaz, 1973–8, vol. 7, p. 8). Christabel and ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ – ‘Kubla Khan’ was significantly left out – were regarded as the representative works that exemplify the beauty of form, the rich imagination and the exotic. Hinaz’s appreciation of Coleridge’s poems, especially the ‘Ancient Mariner’, is comparable to the Italian poet Mario Luzi’s admiration, which Zuccato analyses in detail (Zuccato, 2007, p. 203). Just as Luzi took a philosophic and aesthetic interest in Coleridge along with French Symbolism, Hinaz also followed ‘the line of Coleridge/Keats-Poe-Baudelaire’.

Coleridge during and after the war There are variegated images associated with the Orient in Romantic literature, such as tyranny, despotism, primitivism, male chauvinism, heathens, harems, eroticism, grandeur and mystery. ‘Kubla Khan’, in a way, eloquently represents the essence of such Romantic orientalism. Coleridge’s orientalism, however, differs radically from Southey’s, and even more from Byron’s; it does not explore exotic subjects and heathen barbarism on an epic scale (Fulford, 2007). For Coleridge, the Orient is curiously consolidated with the sense of the sublime and religious mysticism in an indolent, dreamy framework. In a 1797 letter to Thelwall, Coleridge contemplates the way in which ‘rocks or waterfalls, mountains or caverns give [him] the sense of sublimity or majesty’ and then goes on to express his desire ‘to float along an infinite ocean cradled in the flower of the lotus’, like the ‘Indian Vishna’ (CL, vol. 1, pp. 349–50). Whether or not they knew that Coleridge had such an interest in Eastern religions, Japanese readers at the turn of the twentieth century were fascinated by the fusion of mystic supernaturalism, imaginative creativity and pensive intoxication in his poem, and detected that kind of aesthetic quality in it which corresponded to decadent and Symbolist literature. The Paterian image of Coleridge as ‘a true flower of the


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

ennuyé’ haunts the writings of the Bungakukai literati and their followers. Clearly it is a type of ‘misreading’, but it happens inevitably in cross-cultural contexts, where it has more significance than the late-born poet’s ‘misreading’ of a great precursor as posited by Harold Bloom (1973). Nor does it always produce an anxiety among recipients. Japanese poets and critics discovered rich resources of inspiration in Coleridge’s imaginative creativity, Gothic supernaturalism and indolent aestheticism, at the same time as utilitarian thinking and nationalism facilitated the modernization and militarization of the state. Romanticism in Japan changed its nature in the 1930s, especially after the military government rose to power in 1933. A new circle of young critics and novelists led by Yasuda Yojurō (1910–81) started a monthly periodical called Nihon Roman-ha (The Japan Romantic School) in March 1935. Their ‘romanticism’ diverged sharply from the preceding ‘romanticism’ which burgeoned in the previous decades. Instead of lyrical sentimentalism, sensual imagination and decadent creativity, they deepened ‘a sense of ending’ in the midst of the rapidly modernizing society and formulated the ‘aesthetics of death’. Just like earlier romanticists, Yasuda certainly proposed a return to classical Japanese literature and its spirit. Under the influence of German Romantics, especially Hölderlin and Friedrich Schlegel, however, he insisted that the myth of the ancient prince Yamato Takeruno Mikoto should serve as an archetype of Japanese literature: because of his pride, the exiled military hero suffered a downfall and tragic death. This ‘aesthetics of death’ was ideologically aligned with the military nationalism of the age, though Yasuda’s view of Japanese history and literature was not identical with the emperor-centred historiography based on state Shintoism (Doak, 1994, pp. 20–7). The Nihon Roman-ha lasted only three years, but Yasuda’s ‘aesthetics of death’ left a powerful literary legacy in the works of the new generation including suicidal novelists Mishima Yukio (1925–70) and Dazai Osamu (1909–48). Very reasonably, William Empson, who taught in Tokyo between 1931 and 1934, found little congenial spirit among his students and colleagues, who were riven between such romanticized imperial fascism on the one hand and underground radical communism on the other (Haffenden, 2005, p. 346). Dreamy, delicately aesthetic, yet impractical Coleridge was submerged in Japan during these war years, but he came into full view again after the war in a more authentic form. His poetical and philosophical achievements began to be studied seriously by academics. As a consequence, he was evaluated legitimately as a Romantic poet–philosopher. The narrative of the ‘Ancient Mariner’ was even adapted for a secondary school textbook in 1949. Certainly there were academics who appreciated the true qualities of Coleridge’s works even during the pre-war

Oriental Aesthetes and Modernity


period. Saito Takeshi (1887–1982), a Protestant professor at Tokyo Imperial University, studied and translated Coleridge’s ‘Ancient Mariner’, ‘Kubla Khan’, Christabel, ‘France, an Ode’ and ‘Hymn before Sunrise’, but not ‘Love’, with no sign of decadent or mystic or Symbolist influence (1922, pp. 106–30; 1940). And yet the misreading of Coleridge as a decadent aesthete also survived the years of fascism. Hinaz returned from his wartime refuge to an active literary life with renewed vigour, though still suffering from chronic neuralgia and asthma. His interest in Coleridge, mysticism, Gothicism and decadence found a legatee in Yura Kimiyoshi (1929–90), who studied philosophy as an undergraduate and went on to study Coleridge, Romanticism and Modernism. While acknowledging Hinaz’s achievements (Yura, 1972, p. 243), Yura more dynamically explored the aesthetic and philosophical dimensions of mysticism, demonism, supernaturalism and the grotesque in Romantic literature, especially in Coleridge and Blake. Yura’s disciples including Takayama Hiroshi (1947– ) have been working far more widely and actively in different branches of humanities, art and science, perhaps suggesting the gigantic dimensions of Coleridge’s intellectual and philosophical power. Coleridge orientalized as a decadent aesthete has evaporated, but lies deep down at the bottom of the modern intellectual life in Japan.


Coleridge, Orient, Philosophy Andrew Warren

If I begin a poem of Spinoza, thus it should begin: I would make a pilgrimage to the burning sands of Arabia, or etc. etc. to find the Man who could explain to me there can be oneness, there be infinite Perceptions – yet there must be a oneness, not an intense Union but an Absolute Unity. – Coleridge, CN, vol. 1, 556 (c. 1799) This is not the Greek theology merely. It is a fair account of the Egyptian, of the Indian, and of every other, but I speak of Greece because it was the only country that dared to ask itself why. – Coleridge, Lects 1808–19, vol. 1, pp. 58–9 Thinking is common to all. – Heraclitus [B113]1 Needless to say, a great deal has been written about Coleridge’s theological and philosophical thought. Of late, much critical attention has also been devoted to Romanticism’s manifold engagements with Orientalism or ‘the East’. It is therefore remarkable how comparatively little work has taken up the convergence of these two strands of Romantic criticism: that is, the Romantics’ reading of Eastern thought; or – what is not exactly the same thing – Romanticism’s philosophical engagements with (and constructions of) the so-called Orient. In this way the Orient becomes both an object of and a source for Romantic philosophy. My aim here is therefore twofold: first, to sketch out some of Coleridge’s philosophical engagements with the Eastern thought, particularly his mid-late writings on what he takes to be the Greek (and hence non-Eastern) origins of philosophy; and secondly, to raise a number of interpretative and methodological problems facing the critic who wishes to read Coleridge in this way.


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

If for many philosophers the history of philosophy is philosophy, then we should expect an age which saw the circulation of newly discovered philosophies, and hence new histories of philosophy, to be singularly dynamic and unsettled. These adjectives – dynamic and unsettled – are exemplary of not merely Romanticism, but of Coleridge himself, certainly British Romanticism’s most systematic and wide-ranging philosopher. A basic assumption throughout this piece is that we cannot understand Coleridge’s engagement with the East apart from his critical and theoretical frameworks. Those frameworks structure those engagements even as they themselves are structured by larger patterns in the history of thought and the workings-out of empire. The origin of philosophy represents a site where all of these issues – the Orient, Coleridge’s critical system, history – encounter, modify and contest one another.

Coleridge reorienting philosophy: The Pythagorean genesis I shall begin with two admittedly puzzling questions: first, what was the beginning of philosophy? Or, perhaps more concisely, who was the first philosopher? And second, what would it mean for philosophy to have a beginning at all? How could we identify it if we saw it? These are problems that have plagued philosophy from the beginning, perhaps because philosophy considers itself the first discipline which could define itself. In The Metaphysics, for example, Aristotle tasks himself not merely with explaining the nature of things, but also how previous generations of philosophers had laid the groundwork for his own systematic innovations.2 A key sticking point that Aristotle acknowledges is the historical shift from myth and metaphor to philosophy, a project taken up in the late twentieth century by thinkers such as Derrida and Patocka,3 and by Heidegger before them. Perhaps, however, the most radical claims about the history of philosophy occurred in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when philosophy was becoming an academic discipline and the history of philosophy was first treated as a subject in its own right. Late in his career Kant, in an odd mixture of audacity and worry, writes: ‘It sounds arrogant, self-seeking, and for those who have not yet relinquished their old system, belittling, to assert: that prior to the development of critical philosophy there had been no philosophy at all.’4 Förster Eckart has recently devoted an entire book to Kant’s peculiar claim, a fact illustrating the Romantic era’s obsession with the problem of seemingly

Coleridge, Orient, Philosophy


intractable origins. Defining the origin of philosophy was entangled in a discordant host of historical, religious, cultural, political, anthropological and geographical problems that were just beginning to reach articulation. Figuring out what someone thought about the origins of philosophy could potentially tell one a great deal about what he thought about everything else. In Coleridge the matter is particularly knotty because he rarely writes in what we would call a purely ‘philosophical idiom’, preferring to weave his thoughts on philosophy in and among dozens of other genres and discourses: autobiography, history, theology, poetry, prefaces, grammar, literary criticism, biology, journalism, poetic fragments, notes, marginalia, plans for larger works, idiosyncratic Coleridgean ‘genres’, and so on.5 In his 1818–19 Lectures on the History of Philosophy, however, Coleridge is careful to distinguish between what is and what is not philosophy, and what could constitute its true origin. For Enfield, who had somewhat freely translated Brucker’s monumental history (Historia Critica Philosophiae, 1742–4) in 1791, 30 years before Coleridge’s lectures, philosophy originated among the barbarians – meaning, among non-Greeks, specifically those from Persia, Egypt and India. In Enfield’s history the Greeks merely ‘improved’ upon that method; and indeed, Enfield, following Brucker, devotes several fairly serious chapters to Eastern, and even Celtic, philosophy. It is a trend that has continued into our own historical moment. Walter Burkert, for example, has convincingly argued that we cannot separate the startling appearance of Greek philosophy from a careful study of the history of orality, literacy and alphabetization in Asia and the Middle East, of Greece’s contemporaneous political struggles with Asiatic nations, nor of networks of influence on Greek thought from Egypt and Israel to Zoroaster and anonymous Indian gurus.6 As Romantic thinkers in Germany and England strove to find philosophical forebears this serious rethinking of the grounds of philosophy began to include not merely ancient thought, but also the contemporary moment. Frederick Beiser has recently, and persuasively, rearticulated the case that the ‘young’ German Romantics – Schlegel, Schelling, Hölderlin, Novalis, Hegel – structured a great deal of their thinking around two key philosophers, Fichte and Spinoza.7 For those Romantics, Fichte (whose heyday was in the 1790s) and Spinoza (who died in 1677) represented two seemingly irreconcilable poles in thought. In this scheme, Fichte is the arch-idealist: all that exists in the external world exists for or in relation to some actual or possible consciousness or will. The Kantian thing-in-itself becomes, in this version of Fichte, merely an illusion that


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

consciousness and the will unconsciously produce; consciousness is so used to seeing itself that it thinks of itself as something else. Spinoza, the arch-realist, meanwhile remains the constant threat to Fichte’s idealism. For Spinoza, thought and matter are merely different aspects of the same universal substance. Thought arises (naturally, eventually, necessarily) from that substance rather than spontaneously and apart from it, as Fichte would have it. For Spinoza, nature is primary; for Fichte, the mind, or will, or spirit. Reconciling Fichte’s idealism with Spinoza’s realism became, arguably, the prime puzzle for Romantic metaphysics in Germany. I introduce the distinction here both because it is incredibly useful for organizing a complex array of complex German thinkers, and also because it helps make sense of the twists and turns of Coleridge’s own philosophy, particularly his fraught and long-standing engagement with Spinoza, a figure he consistently associates with the East. The fundamental opposition between Will and Nature that will come to define so much of Coleridge’s philosophy, for example, can be productively – if by no means exhaustively – considered as a dialogue between a Fichtean and Spinozist position.8 Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of Coleridge’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy – one acknowledged with equal irritation by attendees of the lectures and by critics today – is that it stops just short of fully engaging with Romantic philosophy. Almost no Schelling, or Fichte, or Kant, or even Spinoza makes it into his history. For his take on those thinkers we Coleridgeans are pressed to dive below the surface, into the 40 years of notebooks, and letters and marginalia. Yet the Lectures are structured by an implicit, or even immanent, critique of contemporary German philosophy.9 For example, throughout his extensive notes to Tennemann’s monumental Geschichte der Philosophie (1807) Coleridge, in almost every note, brings up the fact that Tennemann’s ‘Kantéanism’, as he puts it, bleeds over into every aspect of the Geschichte, tainting what the reader would receive. The implication, of course, is that Coleridge believes himself not only capable of sorting the truth scattered from the Kantian prism, but also that he has a duty to do so in a public forum. At the same time Coleridge’s own urge to unify and fuse renders the history of philosophy as gradual discovery of that human ability to productively synthesize scattered discourses, ideas and modes of thinking. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this recursive turn of one thing upon itself will become a common trope in the history. Coleridge painstakingly builds the case that Pythagoras (c.570–495 bce) is the first philosopher. He makes efforts to dispel the received idea of Pythagoras as a magician or Christ-figure, and his rhetoric is squarely in the mode of rupture or event. Thales, often cited as the first philosopher, is for Coleridge

Coleridge, Orient, Philosophy


merely a methodical gatherer, not a creative or disruptive thinker. We hear from Coleridge that Thales (c.624–564 bce) may have travelled in Egypt or Crete or Babylon, but that his proto-philosophy is wholly ‘natural’: he merely ‘gives you the first reasons . . . or experiments or observations which any man would be struck with’ (Lects 1818–19, vol. 1, p. 62). Thus, says Coleridge, Thales’ idea that the world is composed of primary elements (in his case, water) was not learned ‘from Egypt and so forth’. Such a history was, for Coleridge, ‘mere fancy’: ‘why he made water the origin of things, has .  .  . nothing historical, nothing that reminds one of the books of the Indians or the fragments of the Babylonians which we have’. Coleridge refuses to ‘give him the name of philosopher because his enquiries, such as they were, were confined wholly to material causes’ (p. 62). Thales was not yet primed, as it were, to receive outside influences in the proper way, perhaps because his own thinking was not yet autonomous enough to turn those influences to its own advantage. In Coleridge philosophy, as we shall see, is rooted in a complex interplay between influence and autonomy. Pythagoras, by contrast, may have benefited from his travels abroad. According to Coleridge (who lifts and discards ad libitum from Tennemann’s multivolume history), Pythagoras was born in ‘an extremely thriving . . . commercial town’ and ‘had early opportunities of conversing with mariners and . . . took in the desire of seeing more than a narrow island could produce to him’ (p. 65). It is perhaps not too outlandish to read a bit of coded autobiography in this statement, Coleridge himself pressing against the confines of his own narrow island, and deeply invested in the reportage of mariners, particularly ancient ones. In his draft of the lecture we can see Coleridge working through possible relationships between Pythagoras’s potential influences and what he knew about his thought: we may suppose him to have sought the acquaintance of Thales, Pherecydes, and Anaximander. – His journey to Egypt and commune with the Priests as trustworthy as History can make it; but as to what quantum and quale of knowledge he learnt there, that is a question. The same in a less degree apply to his journey to Babylon, and intercourse with Nazaratus, supposed to be [the biblical prophet] Ezekiel . . . so we may put it amg [sic] the numerous points, against which there is nothing to be said, except that unluckily nothing is to be said for it. – Diogenes in his book with the ill-omened title of incredible things beyond Thule, relates that he went to the Hebrews – which Lanctantius denies; doubtless on the same grounds as it was asserted – i.e. none at all. That he really was in India


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

I have found some reason to believe – & if so, doubtless thro’ Persia –. (Lects 1818–19, vol. 1, pp. 94–5)

Clearly Coleridge hopes that Pythagoras had encountered non-Greek systems of belief, both as instances of generative incorporation and heroic resistance. Coleridge notes, for example, that after discovering that laws of nature might be rational and universal, Pythagoras ‘resolved all this into a power, which to the honor of Pythagoras did not in the least partake of pantheism, but still kept the deity at a distance from his works. This entitles this man to our gratitude’ (Lects 1818–19, vol. 1, p. 80). Pythagoras manages to keep at bay what Coleridge takes to be both the superstitions of early Greek and Eastern traditions, a feat accomplished, according to Coleridge, by only one ancient nation, the Israelites (Lects 1818–19, vol. 1, pp. 129–30). This split between God and his works resonates with the divide between (Fichtean) Will and (Spinozist) Nature, and also with Coleridge’s deep interest in the history of theology. The possibility of an encounter between Pythagoras and Ezekiel is particularly tantalizing, as it would have prefigured a larger historical arc – perhaps, for Coleridge, the historical arc – which culminates in a meeting of the Hebraic discovery of Spirit or Will and the Greek discovery of Reason. The second lecture culminates with a vision of this divinely guided first contact, where ‘the two great component parts of our nature, in the unity of which all its excellency and all its hopes depend, namely, that of the will in the one, as the higher and more especially godlike, and the reason in the other, as the compeer but yet second to that will, were to unite and to prepare the world for the reception of the Redeemer’ (Lects 1818–19, vol. 1, p. 84), that is, Christ. A missed encounter between Pythagoras (Reason) and Ezekiel (Will) is a paradigmatically Coleridgean topic of contemplation.10 Indeed, I will return to this ‘missed encounter’ theory of history when I discuss Coleridge’s reflections on his own poetic work. If Pythagoras’s wanderings gave him a panoply of quasi-philosophical perspectives, it was Greece’s peculiar political autonomy  – what we might deem ‘Greek exceptionalism’  – that created the conditions of possibility for the Pythagorean genesis of philosophy. Here Coleridge’s emphasis on political autonomy is echoed in his definition of the philosophical event. ‘But now for Pythagoras as a philosopher’, Coleridge asks, ‘what then entitled him to be distinguished from the great men of Egypt and India and those before him?’ (Lects 1818–19, vol. 1, p. 74). Pythagoras ‘went back into the reason of man’ and realized that ‘effects’ are not ‘pure truth’ or ‘causes’; in short, he looked inwards at

Coleridge, Orient, Philosophy


‘his own mind for the laws of the universe’ (Lects 1818–19, vol. 1, pp. 74–5). In other words, philosophy arises when one logically and carefully distinguishes between, in Coleridge’s words, subject and object. But it does not end there; Coleridge – arch-reconciler and, in Perry’s phrase, arch-‘muddler’ – notes that Pythagoras attempts ‘at least the union of the two opposites which he distinctly understood, namely the objects of contemplation and the contemplative power itself ’ (Lects 1818–19, vol. 1, p. 117). The origin and subsequent history of philosophy consists of, first, a rupture between subject and object, and then various attempts to reconcile that division. This is how Coleridge thinks about philosophy, and the history of philosophy. Pythagoras takes up Thales’ search for first principles, tears asunder self and world, and then attempts to reconcile that divide by drawing upon Eastern wisdom about the pantheistic unity of the world. Like Nietzsche, Pythagoras breaks history in two, but then tries to piece it back together.11

Philosophy as the history of philosophy This process of breaking apart and piecing together  – which Hegel will call dialectic  – is for Coleridge exemplary of both philosophy and the history of philosophy. Indeed, just prior to his Lectures on the History of Philosophy, Coleridge, in his Biographia Literaria (1817), traces his own particular philosophical development through what he read and how he thought. Interestingly, Coleridge’s individual philosophical education strangely mirrors the broader historical developments he will outline in his lectures. Philosophy, for Coleridge, is both a necessarily historical and intensely personal process. Indeed, he is not averse to imposing his own philosophical ideas and rhetoric onto what he identifies as broad historical trends. In the ensuing example polarity, a powerful tool in Coleridge’s thinking, becomes analogical of the history of thought: One cannot help thinking, provided the mind is beforehand impressed with a belief of a providence guiding this great drama of the world to its conclusion, that, as opposites are in constant tendency to union, and as it is the opposite poles of a magnet and not the similar ones which attract each other, that a certain unity is to be expected from the very circumstance of opposition and that these are as it were imperfect halves which after a series of ages each maturing and perfecting are at length to meet in some one point comprising the excellencies of both. (Lects 1818–19, vol. 1, p. 50)


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

It is a stunning passage. And although here Coleridge is describing what he takes to be Greece’s uncanny ability, already mentioned, to ‘alter’ or ‘modify’ other cultures’ ideas and practices to suit Greece’s own, he may as well be talking about any dynamic period of philosophic growth, either at the level of history or the individual.12 In the case of Greece, remarks Coleridge, ‘as soon as it [an idea or practice] came into Greece it became so modified, so extremely altered by the character of the people, that it required all the researches of the learned to discover the affinity between the Greek opinions and their immediate sources whatever they were’ (p. 50). In The Friend (1809), Coleridge claims that Greece could absorb and appropriate, ‘however partially and imperfectly’, the ‘religious and lyrical poetry of the Hebrews’ through the ‘corrupt channel of the Phoenicians’. This happened in part via the ‘secret schools of physiological theology’, an institution which ‘prevented Polytheism from producing all its natural barbarizing effects’ (Friend, vol. 1, pp. 503–4). And in the Lectures, a thinker such as Pythagoras is able to found philosophy by appropriating foreign influences to his own will and reason, a process enacted – albeit on different scales and with different goals – in Greece’s national culture. The persistent adversary in these descriptions is polytheism or pantheism, which only education or ‘cultivation’ (rather than mere ‘civilization’) can keep in check. If this is how philosophy as a mode of thinking appears to function in Coleridge’s writings, a reasonable question would be to ask how Coleridge himself defines philosophy. In typical fashion Coleridge never ties himself to any single definition, and yet there remains a kind of ‘family resemblance’ between his various formulations. Well into his narrative in the Biographia, for example, Coleridge gives us what would appear to be a straightforward definition: ‘The term, Philosophy, defines itself as an affectionate seeking after the truth’. Fairly quickly, however, we are presented with a series of caveats and modifications written in what he elsewhere calls ‘philosophical language’ (BL, vol. 1, p. 124): ‘but Truth is the correlative of Being. This again is no way conceivable, but by assuming as a postulate, that both are ab initio, identical and co-inherent; that intelligence and being are reciprocally each other’s Substrate’ (BL, vol. 1, pp. 142–3). Philosophy’s job, in Coleridge’s estimation, is to map the necessary connections and divisions between opposites, what in the lectures he calls ‘opposite poles’. Pure unity is static, lifeless, dull; opposition creates logical contradiction, but also movement, life, interest. In this case he draws our attention to the seeming disjunction between truth and (divine) being. Without both an original unity and a subsequent division between them we couldn’t have an ‘affectionate seeking after Truth’; we could not employ our

Coleridge, Orient, Philosophy


thinking or our will towards reconciling the two. Philosophy, for Coleridge, is a quest after its own conditions of possibility. Perhaps a somewhat clearer example comes in an early essay in The Friend (1809), when Coleridge addresses the apparent divide in the universe between nature (matter, what is external to us) and spirit (intelligence, will, that which is internal): EVERY POWER IN NATURE AND IN SPIRIT must evolve an opposite, as the sole means and condition of its manifestation: AND ALL OPPOSITION IS A TENDENCY TO RE-UNION. This is the universal Law of Polarity or essential Dualism, first promulgated by Heraclitus, two thousand years afterwards republished and made the foundation both of Logic, of Physics, and of Metaphysics by Giordano Bruno. The Principle may be thus expressed. The Identity of Thesis and Antithesis is the Substance of all Being; their Opposition the condition of all Existence, or Being manifested; and every Thing or phaenomenon is the exponent of a Synthesis as long as the opposite energies are retained in that Synthesis. Thus Water is neither Oxygen nor Hydrogen, nor yet is it a commixture of both: but the Synthesis or Indifference of the two (Friend, vol. 1, p. 94)

With the analogy of water, Coleridge returns us squarely to the realm of the pre-Socratics. What changes in the history of philosophy is not so much its goals or even its methods, but rather the subtle distribution of categories – Will, Reason, subject, object, thesis, antithesis, synthesis, and so forth  – that were available to philosophy from nearly the beginning. In October 1818, a familiar turn comes in Coleridge’s thinking, perhaps brought about by the extensive research he was doing for the lecture series which would begin in December. Around this time Coleridge will begin to renounce philosophy based in pure polarities, particularly Schelling’s Naturphilosophie and his own iterations of it, in favour of one based in what he takes to be a more stable opposition of Will and Nature. The problem is that a philosophical system based in polarity skirts too closely to (an Eastern, Spinozist) pantheism, one based too much in Nature and too little in Will. Ashamedly, Coleridge confesses that he has realized that Schelling’s (and thus perhaps his own) ‘Principle was little more than an arbitrary universalization of a Fact or two supplied by Magnetism and Electricity’ – in a word, Polarity.13 Instead, Coleridge proposes an inquiry into spirit, perhaps nowhere more clearly than in his Aids to Reflection (1825): ‘by spiritual I do not pretend to determine what the Will is but what it is not – namely, that it is not Nature. And as no man who admits a Will at all . . . will suppose it below Nature, we may safely add, that it is supernatural’ (AR, p. 80). Spirit (or


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

Will) and Nature are antitheses of one another, and each can be defined as that which the other is not (Aids, pp.250–1). The Will is ‘an Act essentially causative of reality – i.e. having essentially the power of causing reality’, particularly ‘its own reality’ (‘First Postulates in Philosophy’, in SWF, vol. 1, p. 775). In turn, ‘Philosophy must commence then with the position the Will is’, before turning to science or reason because the Will cannot be ‘by an abstraction nor a Genesis birth or product of another’ (‘On the Will’, SWF, vol. 1, p. 776). True genesis, for Coleridge, therefore is wholly relegated to the realm of Will, not Nature: ‘no natural thing or act can be called originant, or be truly said to have an origin in any other. The moment we assume an Origin in Nature, a true Beginning, an actual First – that moment we rise above Nature, and are compelled to assume a supernatural Power. (Gen. i. 1.)’ (AR, pp. 267–70). Natural ‘origins’ are always anchored by an infinite regress of natural causation; by contrast true origins, such as original sin, have their source ‘exclusively’ in the Will (AR, p. 269). The Will produces an unincorporable cut in the order of Nature. Even love becomes, for Coleridge, ‘an act of the will’ (CN, vol. 3, 3562) that decides without external influence – one does not merely fall in love, but wills it. Will thus stands as a permanently unassimilable block against Nature; nothing, not even Will or Nature themselves, can turn one into the other. Similarly, Coleridge doubts that the Will can be abstracted from anything, or that anything can be abstracted from it, not even ‘intelligence’ (SWF, vol. 1, p. 775). It is, Coleridge hopes, a self-sufficient barrier to pantheism, a danger internal to all previous philosophy. Thus we see in Coleridge’s post-1818 philosophy a move towards a more delimited or refined polarity, one that is always in some way grounded in the generative difference between spiritual Will and material Nature  – indeed, he even relegates the term polarity to the realm of natural forces alone.14 The seeds for this move from organicism to a stricter dualism are obviously found in Coleridge’s earlier thinking (and Schelling’s), but are also there from the beginning of philosophy itself. Thus the series of divisions that Coleridge charts in Pythagoras  – between subject and object, self and world, cause and effect, East and West – is merely the first step in a dance of opposites wheeling through time. Throughout the lectures Coleridge makes frequent reference to ‘the seduction of polytheism’ (Lects 1818–19, p. 130) – and its logical undergirding, pantheism – strongly associating it with an Epicurean East that stands apart from history.15 What is perhaps ironic in Coleridge’s treatment is that Orientalism is precisely a failure to properly separate subject from object, vision from world, projection from fact. Said famously says that the Orientalist sees ‘the Orient not as it is, but

Coleridge, Orient, Philosophy


the Orient as it has been Orientalized’.16 Here Orientalism is a kind of uncritical solipsism, one that neglects to take into account the complex position of the subject as it interprets, or ‘half perceives and creates’, objects: a projection of fears, desires and hopes. Take, for instance, the Opus Maximum’s explication of the Bhagavad Gita: Indian ‘Pantheism seems to me a natural result of an imbecil understanding producing indistinction by half-closed lids, and when all hues and outlines melt into a garish mist, [they] deem it Unity!’ (OM, p. 393). Or: ‘If I consider [the Gita] as poetry; it has the mortal disease of all Indian poetry: the attempting to image the unimageable, not by symbols but by a jumble of images helped out by number  – a delirious fancy excludes all unifying imagination’ (OM, p. 394). The Gita’s impulse to unity, for Coleridge, is correct, but it must be clear-sighted, not ‘half-lidded’; this clarity is what Pythagoras brings to the history of philosophy, and it is what Coleridge at many distinct points in his career fears he is losing. A poem such as ‘Kubla Khan’ nervously shuttles between depicting the creation of a unified order and the worry that the order is illusory, fleeting: ‘hues and outlines melt[ing] into a garish mist’; or, in ‘The Picture or, The Lover’s Resolution’, a broken, vanishing ‘phantom-world’ (PW, vol. 1, part 2, p. 714, l. 92). This shuttling  – between clarity and mist, absolute unity and amalgamation, vision and the pains of sleep  – is the work of the Coleridgean imagination. A kindred movement founds both philosophy and a brand of High Romantic Orientalism that could blend the Greek Alph with Eastern Tartary in ‘Kubla Khan’.17 Coleridge’s early plans to write the epic of Spinoza bear this out.

Spinoza and the East Against the background of recent efforts to integrate Spinoza into Romantic studies,18 I would like to examine Coleridge’s consistent pairing of Spinoza and what the Romantics took to be Eastern thought. Such a trajectory will also carry us into a discussion of Coleridge’s thoughts about the interrelations between philosophy, the East and poetry. Coleridge planned to write a poem about Spinoza at least twice, once in 1799 and again in 1803.19 The first, given in the epigraph above, would involve ‘the burning sands of Arabia, or etc. etc.’ and a pilgrimage ‘to find the Man who could explain to me there can be oneness, there be infinite Perceptions . . . not an intense Union but an Absolute Unity’ (CN, vol. 1, 556). Was this simply another of Coleridge’s many abandoned projects, or did he sense a deeper incompatibility at play between his conceptions of poetry and philosophy and his reading of Spinoza? In either case, Coleridge’s friend Robert Southey did


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

write an epic about a desert pilgrimage, but that work is ostensibly about a very different set of issues. To begin with, Thalaba the Destroyer (1801) concerns itself with monotheistic Islam, not pantheism. And yet the two works are driven by a similar moral concern: for Coleridge, the moral problem with pantheism is the evaporation of the Divine Will, of Divine Intelligence, and the consequent evaporation of the individual will. For Southey, the problem confronting Islam is the Divine Will’s overdetermination, its overwhelming the individual will and hollowing out a space for mindless vice. The issue in each case is fatalism, though Coleridge and Southey approach it from entirely different angles; it is perhaps no mean coincidence that the two men maintained an intense creative and critical dialogue while writing Thalaba and ‘Kubla Khan’. But again, why Coleridge’s consistent association of Spinoza and the East? A simple answer is that pantheism, in Coleridge’s view, attains its most concrete instantiation in Asian religions and its most refined articulation in Spinoza. Coleridge says as much in the Lectures: Spinoza’s pantheism is given ‘in the most religious form in which it could appear’, but, says Coleridge, ‘I am far from hiding the inevitable consequences of pantheism in all cases, whether the pantheism of India or the solitary [case] of Spinoza’ (Lects 1818–19, vol. 2, pp. 578–9).20 Bizarrely, similar conclusions are reached by both ‘the mortal disease of all Indian poetry’ (OM, p. 394) and Spinoza’s hyper-rationalism: Spinoza’s object and his error were one & the same thing[;] of reducing all truth to geometrical truth[;] but as geometry appeared to preclude the Will so did Spinozism but in precluding the Will he necessarily precluded all alterity or all unity for in the idea of the Will only are these found as co-inherent[.] He chose to exclude the alterity but in so doing he necessarily excluded all intelligence in any conceivable sense inasmuch as that necessarily implied an alterity of subject & object. (SWF, vol. 1, p. 708)

Here again we see Coleridge’s peculiar blurring of the practice and the object of philosophy.21 A naturalist philosophy such as pantheism ‘necessarily’ and ‘as a natural result’ and via ‘inevitable consequences’ leads to a necessitarian fatalism; a philosophy rooted in nature can only bring about natural – and hence fatalistic – consequences. A philosophy rooted in Will, by contrast, opens up the liberating potentials of Will; its fate is guided not by natural law (as pantheism’s is) but rather by divine Providence. The history of philosophy is therefore the workings-out, in time, of the objects of philosophy: Will, Reason, Nature, and so forth. Doing philosophy and reflecting on its history, therefore, is not a mere passive description of how things are but an active declaration of how they are,

Coleridge, Orient, Philosophy


now, and should be – thus, for instance, ‘there must be a spirit on the Breeze, who is not the same as the breeze’ (OM, p. 118).

Conclusion – poetry, philosophy and the missed encounter A thorough treatment of Coleridge’s career-long, if dynamic and muddled, stance towards ‘the East’ would necessarily call for understanding of Hebrew, Greek and Eastern history and culture. In much of Coleridge’s thinking that triad seems related to another uneven triad – Will, Reason, Nature. A problem here is that such a distribution does not fit into a neat diad, and in Coleridge’s system we can see a figure like Spinoza straining to draw all three threads together. Of course, for Coleridge, Spinoza’s system fails to leave room for Will and thus the Judaeo-Christian tradition; it shuttles between Reason and Nature, unaware that Nature cannot be incorporated into Will. Coleridge’s difficulties in squaring the Greek, Hebrew and Eastern traditions are perhaps typical of many contemporary post-colonial approaches, reliant as they sometimes are on binary approaches. Poetry, too, seems to demand a squaring or coming-together. Simply determining the connections and disjunctions between Coleridge’s notions of poetry and philosophy is a fraught, central concern among his critics. What seems clear is that there is, and perhaps must be, a productive interdependence: ‘in all, that truly merits the name of Poetry in its most comprehensive sense, there is a necessary predominance of the Ideas (i.e. of that which originates in the artist himself), and a comparative indifference of the materials’ (Friend, vol. 1, p. 464). He recycles that passage a decade later in his work on Bacon’s scientific method, adding that ‘Plato was a Poetic Philosopher, as Shakespeare was a Philosophic Poet’ (‘Treatise on Method’, SWF, vol. 1, p. 660).22 The border between poetry and philosophy is – or has become, in time – more porous than that between philosophy and myth. There is no space here to treat Coleridge’s poetics or poetry in any depth, much less its relationship to ‘the East’, but I would like to suggest a model for thinking through Coleridge’s poetry and the East, one based on the idea of a ‘missed encounter’. Much of Coleridge’s verse is focused upon successful, muddled or missed encounters: ‘This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison’, the Fears in Solitude volume, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, Christabel, ‘Kubla Khan’, ‘Dejection: An Ode’, the projected poem on Spinoza, to name merely a few. Late in life Coleridge recounted a conversation between himself and Anna Barbauld in which she accused the ‘Ancient Mariner’ of having ‘no moral’, to


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

which he responded that ‘in such a work of pure imagination’ there was in fact ‘too much’ of a moral: [T]he only or chief fault [in the poem] .  .  . was the obtrusion of the moral sentiment so openly on the reader as a principle or cause of action in a work of such pure imagination. It ought to have had no more moral than the Arabian Nights’ tale of the merchant’s sitting down to eat dates by the side of a well, and throwing the shells aside, and lo! a geni starts up, and says he must kill the aforesaid merchant, because one of the date-shells had, it seems, put out the eye of the geni’s son. (TT, vol. 2, p. 100)

Beyond suggesting that a work such as the Arabian Nights might resonate with Coleridge’s deepest moral thought,23 this anecdote presents us with a series of encounters: between genie and merchant; a genie’s son and a date shell; an individual and an invisible moral system; an ancient mariner and a youthful listener; an aging poet and a youthful poem.24 It also gives us the missed encounter between ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ and its own invisible truth. Coleridge’s history of philosophy, too, is fraught with real or missed or even impossible encounters: Pythagoras and Ezekiel; Will and Nature; Coleridge’s ‘coincidence’ with Schelling; East and West.25 Poetry, like history or philosophy, perhaps opens up a field of encounter, even if one never occurs. Undoubtedly, a careful reading of Coleridge’s verse will resist and deform many of the claims made here, as it should. One wonders what an older Coleridge, perhaps composing an Opus Maximum, might have said had he been able to look back upon a ‘poem of Spinoza’ set in the ‘burning sands of Arabia’.

Notes 1 Barnes, 2001, p. 57. 2 Aristotle, 1984, vol. 2, pp. 1556–7. 3 See Derrida (1982) and Patocka (2002), passim. Derrida’s remarks on Rousseau’s and Hegel’s readings of the ‘easternness’ of metaphor (pp. 269–72) are particularly germane for thinking about Coleridge’s on the affinities and disjunctions between philosophy and poetry. 4 Kant, 1996, p. 4; translation modified in Förster (2012, p. ix). 5 On the topic of Coleridge’s ‘philosophical idiom’, Hamilton’s Coleridge and German Philosophy is interesting. His note that what Schelling liked best in Coleridge’s philosophy was his ‘language’ is particularly germane (Hamilton, 2007, pp. 105–6).

Coleridge, Orient, Philosophy


6 Burkert, 2008, passim. 7 See Beiser, 2003, esp. ch. 8, ‘The Paradox of Romantic Metaphysics’, pp. 131–52. 8 This approach echoes a case made long ago by Thomas McFarland in Coleridge and the Pantheist Tradition, and then significantly troubled and modified in recent work by Richard Berkeley, esp. his monograph Coleridge and the Crisis of Reason. 9 This is a point smartly made by J. R. de J. Jackson’s fantastically astute and thorough introduction to the Lectures; I am greatly indebted to his notes and historical framing. See Lects 1818–19, p. lxii. 10 Coleridge early on considered Hartley to have successfully integrated science with spirit. Jerome Christensen explains it thus: ‘in this policy of reconciliation – outside with inside, philosophy with religion, head with heart – Hartley earned his title as the “great master of Christian philosophy” (CL, vol. 1, p. 236)’ (1981, p. 75). 11 To take one of Nietzsche’s many iterations of this idea: ‘We have just entered the great politics, even the very great . . .. I am preparing an event that will probably break the history in two parts, so that a new calendar will be needed, where the year 1888 will be the year I.’ Letter to Brandes, cited in Zupancic (2003, p. 26). 12 Coleridge frequently conflates individual and historical growth (or corruption), perhaps most directly in his discussion of education, cultivation and civilization in Friend (vol. 1, pp. 494–510). In this essay, Greece represents the ‘youth and approaching manhood of the human intellect’ (Friend, vol. 1, p. 503). 13 See, for example, ‘On the Error of Schelling’s Philosophy’, in SWF (vol. 1, pp. 786–7). 14 In a note dated c.1818, Coleridge goes so far as to protest against confounding ‘Polarity’ with ‘the Law of the Identity and Antithesis of Subject and Object’ (SWF, vol. 2, p. 783). Polarity becomes, for Coleridge, reduced to ‘a Law and Necessity of Nature exclusively’ (‘On the Polar Forces’, SWF, vol. 2, p. 784). 15 ‘Europeans and Orientalists may well be described by two figures: one facing East, that is backwards, and one looking West, forwards’ (TT, vol. 1, p. 28). 16 Said, 1978, p. 104. 17 This would perhaps pair nicely with Seamus Perry’s argument concerning the persistent trend in Coleridge towards both unification and division; in particular I have in mind Perry’s incisive reading of ‘Kubla Khan’ as a poem constructed from the ‘mingling’ of opposites. See Perry (1999, p. 27). 18 See, for example, Levinson (2007, 2010), Berkeley (2007) and Thomas McFarland and Nicholas Halmi’s extended introduction to OM (esp. pp. clxix–clxxx). 19 ‘Poem on Spirit – or on Spinoza – I would make a pilgrimage to the Deserts of Arabia to find the man who could make understand how the one can be many! Eternal universal mystery! It seems as if it were impossible; yet it is – & it is every where! – It is indeed a contradiction in Terms; and only in Terms! – It is the co presence of Feeling & Life, limitless by their very essence, with Form, by its very essence limited – determinate – definite –‘ (CN, vol. 1, 1561).


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

20 Coleridge asks a similar question in his marginalia: ‘What does Dubois mean by Atheism? Brahmanism is and the Hesiodic Greek Mythology are themselves species of polytheistic Atheism. It is Pantheism carried by Fancy into the possible results/viz. as the το παν has produced man, why not gods? – The proper question therefore is this: whether Atheism in the form of Polytheism is better or worse than Atheism in the form of A Sebanthropism, ie the reverence of man as the highest known impersonation of the One and All – which is Spinozism. I should reply: the question is useless – for the number of those who are wise enough and yet not too wise to be of the latter Faith must for ever be small & composed of speculative tranquil minds – Were it otherwise, I should not hesitate to include the latter’ (CM, vol. 2, p. 344). 21 ‘But what of Philosophy herself? Shall she be exempted from the Laws, which she has imposed on all the rest of the known Universe?’ (‘Treatise On Method’, 1818, in SWF, vol. 1, p. 658). 22 ‘In the Poetry, as well as in the Philosophy, of both, there was a necessary predominance of Ideas; but this did not make them regardless of the actual existences around them. They were not visionaries, nor mystics; but dwelt in “the sober certainty” of waking knowledge’ (SWF, vol. 1 p. 660). 23 On this topic, see Fulford (2008). 24 For an interesting take on Coleridge, the East and encountering formal selves, see Leask (1992, pp. 170–227). 25 Coleridge saw the ‘pleasure of sympathy in a case where coincidence only was possible’ (BL, vol. 1, p. 147).


Immanence and Transcendence in Coleridge’s Orient David Vallins

A notable aspect and effect of recent historicist approaches to Romanticism has been to develop a relatively sharp, if often implicit, distinction between idealist and materialist viewpoints, whether in Romantic writers themselves or in their critics or interpreters. In McGann’s treatment of Coleridge’s later theories, especially in the Lay Sermons and On the Constitution of the Church and State, this distinction is clearly explicit, depicting Coleridge and his German sources as locating essential reality in the ideal rather than the material realm, partly as a means of protecting the interests of bourgeois intellectuals (1983, p. 7). The emphasis on the social and economic contexts of Romantic writings which has characterized many more recent studies, however, similarly implies an attempt to explain Romantic theories in terms of the concrete circumstances of their production, implicitly identifying those theories as to some extent concealing the economic ‘base’ from which they arise (Leask, 1992; Bewell, 1999). Though Coleridge and other post-Kantians deny the determinativeness of the material realm, however, their theories also aim at reconciling ideal and material in such a way as to explain how consciousness of objects can occur, and hence they also postulate an origin which, like art and philosophy, combines these polar opposites within itself.1 The fact that they thus aim at overcoming the polarity of subject and object, rather than simply asserting the priority of the ideal (or indeed the material), is, I will argue, important to understanding Romantic attitudes towards the relatively unfamiliar region referred to by Europeans in this period as the ‘East’. The East in this period is of course seen primarily as the opposite or the ‘other’ of all things European or Christian, the locus of sensual indulgence (as evoked, for example, in Byron’s portrayal of the court of Sardanapalus, or the Sultan’s


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

harem at Constantinople),2 of tyrannical oppression and exploitation (as evoked in many contemporary accounts of the Ottoman empire),3 of forms of religion which problematically identified the spiritual with the material (as in many of Coleridge’s descriptions of Hinduism), and of a ‘slavery’ to material forces and values which, in contemporary Western discourse, broadly characterizes all cultures other than those of Judaism and Christianity, and especially those outside the monotheistic tradition.4 In northern European, Protestant discourses, however, many of these features were often also used to characterize the Catholic cultures of southern Europe: even France, indeed, was (not without reason) depicted by many British authors in the eighteenth century as the locus of a tyrannical cruelty approaching that associated with Ottoman rule (‘London’, ll. 93–131; Johnson, 1974, pp. 73–4; Burke, 1958, p. 39), while in the doctrinal context, the invocation of saints was often described by Coleridge as a form of idolatry akin to that of so-called primitive religions.5 The dominant British view of the non-Protestant world in this period, indeed, is fraught with paradoxes and contradictions, associating Catholicism with an idolatrous identification of human and divine,6 while also (in the context of natural theology) describing the natural world as a source of insight into the divine Will, and celebrating material prosperity (though often obtained through colonial exploitation) as the reward of virtuous conduct, while stigmatizing the materialism and exploitativeness of those in other countries or regions.7 In addition to this view of the East as a remoter form of the ‘other’ of Protestant enlightenment, however, Romantic authors sometimes notably identified it as the locus of a possible transcendence of the opposition between spiritual and material which not only characterized Christian thought in general, but also the popular distinction between Protestant northern Europe and the world beyond it. Several Romantic-period authors in Germany, indeed, argued that Neoplatonic thought showed striking resemblances to ancient Hindu traditions, and thus identified India as the source of a reconciliation of the opposition between self and other or mind and matter anticipating Schelling’s deduction of an unknowable ‘absolute’ preceding all distinctions (Sedlar, 1982, pp. 35–6, 42–9; Schelling, 1978, pp. 208–9).8 The Sanskrit scholar Sir William Jones, moreover, had earlier argued for a direct influence of Indian religion on ancient Greek thought (‘On the Gods of Greece, Italy, and India’, Jones, 1807, vol. 3, pp. 319–20), and in a passage which Coleridge read and commented on, described a form of pantheism professed by many Persians and Hindus in terms that strikingly recall the philosophy of Plotinus.9 The ‘fundamental tenets’ of this ‘mystical theology

Immanence and Transcendence in Coleridge’s Orient


which has been professed immemorially by a numerous sect of Persians and Hindus, [and] was carried in part into Greece’, he writes, are: That nothing exists absolutely but GOD; that the human soul is an emanation from his essence, and, though divided for a time from its heavenly source, will be finally reunited with it; that the highest possible happiness will arise from its reunion; and that the chief good of mankind, in this transitory world, consists in as perfect an union with the Eternal Spirit as the incumbrances of a mortal frame will allow. (Dissertation VI, ‘On the Persians’, Jones, 1792, vol. 1, pp. 202–3)10

In addition to these obvious resemblances to Plotinus’s description of the striving of all forms of Being to be reunified with their divine source, however, Jones describes this Hindu and Persian mysticism (which nowadays, he says, is mainly preserved in the Sufi tradition) as emphasizing the painfulness of the soul’s separation from the divine, in which it ‘bewails its disunion with melancholy musick, and sheds burning tears .  .  . waiting passionately for the moment of its extinction, as a disengagement from earthly trammels, and the means of returning to its Only Beloved’.11 Though Jones does not note the distinction, most Neoplatonic thought seems notably to differ from this attitude in celebrating a state of seeking the unattainable which, rather than being a source of dissatisfaction or melancholy, is one of rapt absorption in an idea of the infinite, or in other words, an experience of the sublime. For the Neoplatonists, that is, the state of deprivation involved in earthly existence produces the idea of a state of being exceeding all earthly limitations, whose grandeur or splendour fills the soul – whether or not through the Kantian process of being implicitly associated with a parallel infinitude in the reflecting subject  – with a sense of elevation or transcendence which replaces or inverts the primary sense of deprivation or limitation.12 Hence the contradiction which some critics have found in Coleridge’s attempts to reconcile the transcendent with the immanent qualities of the divine seem in fact to reflect the very process of transforming limitation into plenitude which underlies Kant’s analysis of the sublime, as well as the Neoplatonic rapture in contemplating that which exceeds all earthly limitations (Brice, 2007, pp. 154, 191; Kant, 2000, pp. 135–45). In contrast, the Hindu or Persian model described by Jones seems to have no means of making heavenward aspiration continuous with a religious or spiritual joy in the present life, and to take the division of earthly and heavenly so literally as to seek nothing but an extinction of all earthly consciousness, finding little to value in the state


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

of aspiration itself, and expressing no moral or religious sense of the necessity of that earthly state. Coleridge’s comment on this passage in Jones, however, focuses mainly on the paradox of the soul seeking to be reunified with a God of whom it is itself an emanation. As Coleridge himself points out, indeed, this issue of ‘the passage from the Infinite to the Finite’, or of how there could be ‘Multeity’ (or a diversity of states of being and consciousness) in a world that was indistinguishable from God, equally concerns the European forms of pantheism with which that described by Jones has so much in common (CN, vol. 4, 4737). As in many other passages, however, he also stresses the inability of any pantheistic system, whether Neoplatonic or Hindu, to explain the possibility of moral evil and the distinction of it from God. Hence moral concerns seem, in this passage of 1820, to orient Coleridge forcefully away from the sense of plenitude and elevation with which a contemplation of what infinitely transcends our understanding had filled his writing on many earlier occasions. It is, indeed, as if the transformation of deprivation into elevation which (I have argued) distinguishes Neoplatonism from the quest for complete elimination of earthly consciousness described by Jones, had become a source of guilt for Coleridge, seeming too easily to replace failure and fallenness with fulfilment and a sense of proximity to the divine. Hence Coleridge seeks to replace this vision of transcendence with an almost Calvinistic emphasis on the fallen nature of humanity and the necessity of faith and penitence. His earlier discussions of the relation between Neoplatonism and Hinduism, however, place less emphasis on the problem of their failure to explain the origin of moral evil, and more on the broader issue of their confusion of spiritual and material, as well as the danger of claiming to have experienced a direct intuition of the divine  – a phenomenon which he particularly associates with Plotinus and his successors. In his Lectures on the History of Philosophy, indeed, Coleridge is highly ambivalent with regard to early Neoplatonism, alternately describing Plotinus and his followers as ‘in various ways the decided enemies of Christ’, and arguing that ‘It would not be difficult to defend, at least palliate, Plotinus himself ’, since he showed the influence of Christianity in describing ‘God as the real ground both of substance and form’, despite his problematic claim to have experienced a ‘communion’ or ‘intimate union’ with the divine (Lects 1818–19, vol. 1, pp. 415, 333–4). The German philosopher Tennemann’s ‘objections to the Pantheism of Plotinus and Scotus’, he comments in a marginal note, ‘apply only to the crass and sensual Cosmotheism of the Hindoos’ (CM, vol. 5, p. 769); and the report of the ninth of his Lectures on the History of Philosophy similarly

Immanence and Transcendence in Coleridge’s Orient


associates the ‘compounding [of] the Spiritual with the bodily’ primarily with ‘the poor deceived Indian’ who ‘imagine[s] divinity appertain[ing] to a stone or an image’, albeit accusing Plotinus of a lesser degree of the same confusion (Lects 1818–19, vol. 1, p. 415).13 As in several other passages, moreover, Coleridge in the same lecture particularly criticizes the early Neoplatonists’ belief that there were higher powers than those of the senses, the understanding, or even the reason, by means of which ‘they could be united positively with the Deity, and . . . partake at once of his omniscience and omnipresence’ (Lects 1818–19, vol. 1, p. 430). The discipline needed to achieve such unity, Coleridge writes, ‘was severe, [and] the time required in the penance and the watchfulness were perfectly like those of [the (early Christian) ascetics] or the Brahmins’ (Lects 1818–19, vol. 1, p. 431).14 Hence Coleridge not only associates the errors of Plotinus and his followers with those of Hinduism, but also stigmatizes the form of rapt intuition of the infinite which, I have suggested, enables the Neoplatonists to escape from the more purely negative view of earthly experience which Jones associates with Sufi mysticism.15 In these passages as in his comment on Jones, therefore, what one might call the ‘puritanical’ Coleridge forcefully resists the temptations of the Neoplatonic or ‘high’ Romantic sublime. It is this ‘puritanical’ Coleridge, indeed, who also attacks the supposed ‘idolatry’ of Catholic tradition, in which saints are associated (he argues) too closely with the divine spirit, and worshipped or invoked through dangerously idolatrous images, in a confusion of logical categories resembling that which he highlights in the context of pantheism (CM, vol. 5, p, 835; Friend, vol. 1, p. 356). In The Friend, indeed, he specifically associates the errors of Hinduism with those of Catholicism, referring to ‘the tyranny of Papal or Brahman superstition’ as a generalized opposite to true Christian faith (Friend, vol. 1, p. 56). His repeated criticisms of Neoplatonists’ claims to have experienced an intuition of God, however, seem to express a particular anxiety about the transformation of a sense of the limitations of earthly consciousness into one of elevation or sublimity which, I have suggested, particularly characterizes Neoplatonic thought. In associating Neoplatonic intuition with a ‘Brahman’ superstition which he describes as finding the divine in stones and images, that is, Coleridge seems to be stigmatizing precisely the form of sublime intuition of the divine expressed in many of his early writings, but which was increasingly combined in his later works with a moral anxiety about associating the spiritual with the earthly. The puritanical Coleridge evoked by such comments, that is, in fact alternated with an author far more strongly orientated towards the intuitions of pantheists than such passages might suggest. And it is perhaps in those works which most vigorously seek to reconcile these two polarities


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

of his personality, as also those of deprivation and plenitude, or the absolute diversity and potential unity of human and divine, that Coleridge achieves his most memorable writing. One such work, I will suggest, is ‘Kubla Khan’, in which an evocation of the world of intuitive feeling or sensation (or what Schelling called ‘unconscious production’) is combined with an apparent symbolization of imagination as equally underlying ordinary consciousness and the revelatory productions of poets or philosophers, while at the same time the poem, in combining these two meanings, seems to achieve precisely that combination of ‘conscious’ and ‘unconscious’ (or spontaneous) elements which Schelling later described as uniquely characterizing the work of imagination (Schelling, 1978, pp. 229–31; Vallins, 2000, pp. 22–3).16 The Chinese setting of the poem was of course fashionable, due partly to in its exoticism and remoteness from the familiar world of northern Europe.17 Yet the mythologized China he evokes may perhaps have served more readily as the setting for a transcendence of dualism precisely because it was so much less well known to Europeans than either the Middle East or India, and therefore had not been so clearly defined by Christian thinkers as failing to acknowledge the fallen state of humanity which Coleridge so quickly reverts to insisting on even in still earlier poems with more explicitly pantheistic leanings, such as ‘The Eolian Harp’ (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 234, ll. 49– 64). If nothing could be done to overcome the division between the sublimely Neoplatonic vision of much of Coleridge’s writing, and the Calvinistic denial of the possibility of any direct intuition of God, then China, it seems, could offer an imaginative ‘otherness’ – a state, indeed, of intermediacy between the real and the ideal – sufficient to allow what is perhaps his most memorable integration and enactment of the spontaneous and the philosophical, the sensuous and the intellectual, or the unconscious and the conscious. Others of his poems, such as ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, of course, also combine these polarities – in this case, through distinctively proto-Modernist (or, as some have argued, post-modernist) techniques which simultaneously invite a suspension of disbelief in the quasi-archaic ballad, and insist (to the inquiring reader) on its parodic and self-displacing quality, thus dramatizing the necessity of the continual inquiry into the truths of God and nature which both its Latin epigraph and its explicit or fictional content similarly emphasize at contrasting intellectual and ‘popular’ levels.18 ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, indeed, similarly uses settings so remote from any familiar geography that they become almost wholly imaginary, thus facilitating a transcendence of the division between spiritual and material analogous to that which so vividly characterizes ‘Kubla Khan’. The remoter ‘Orient’ of China, that is, has important functions in common with the vicinity

Immanence and Transcendence in Coleridge’s Orient


of the South Pole in the early Coleridge’s attempt to overcome the boundaries between material and spiritual, by focusing on geographical settings which are at once within and outside the mind, both concrete and beyond the substantially ‘known world’ of contemporary Europe, or indeed the Middle East or India. A substantially different use of what may broadly be called an ‘oriental’ context, however  – albeit one similarly involving a degree of unfamiliarity contrasting with Europeans’ relatively well-established conceptions of the Middle East and India – occurs in a lesser-known poem of the 1790s, namely ‘Lewti, or, the Circassian Love-Chaunt’, whose setting in the Caucasus places it in an ambiguous and, at this time, relatively unknown intermundium between the territories of the Ottoman empire, the southern parts of Russia and the neighbouring regions of central Asia. Apart from the celebrated beauty of its women, that is, Circassia was for Coleridge and most contemporary readers a place almost without known qualities except for its remoteness and detachment from any well-defined culture or identity, albeit characterized by a mountainous geography whose Romantic associations coincide interestingly with the qualities of wildness and independence attributed to its inhabitants by the Russians and the Turks.19 By the late eighteenth century, moreover, Circassia was mainly a Muslim region, though still with a substantial minority of Orthodox Christians.20 The use Coleridge makes of this setting, however, is in some ways similar to that which he makes of an imaginary medieval China in ‘Kubla Khan’, or of the South Pole in ‘The Ancient Mariner’ – namely to represent extreme mental states or qualities without incurring a realistic comparison with the familiar experiences or psychological concepts of British or (northern) European cultures, and thus to enable his readers to envisage forms of consciousness exceeding familiar boundaries without necessarily seeming to represent a state of insanity. Some critics have rightly noted the eccentricity of the narrator’s comparison of every feature of his physical surroundings to some aspect either of the beauty of his beloved, or of the state of mind produced by his contemplation of her – whether of the rock and the yew trees to ‘Lewti’s forehead fair / Gleaming through her sable hair’, or of the whiteness of a passing cloud to that of his own cheek when, he imagines, he lies dying for love of Lewti (Fairer, 2011, pp. 14– 16; ‘Lewti’, PW, vol. 1, part 1, pp. 459–61, ll. 8–12, 28–39, 72–5). In the familiar contexts of love poetry, that is, these comparisons seem exaggerated, repetitive and obsessive in a way suggesting a degree of derangement incompatible with accepted ideas of the romantic. The exoticism of their setting, however, enables the reader to perceive them from a somewhat different perspective, as evoking a state of mind belonging to a remote region and culture; and the


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

effect of defamiliarization which this produces also enables us to focus on the speaker’s unusual combination of spontaneous observations and comparisons with reflections on his own imaginative process and the emotions underlying it, which – I would suggest – can be compared to the combination of spontaneous with reflective elements, or of the ‘unconscious’ with the ‘conscious’, which also characterizes ‘Kubla Khan’. Though several of these comparisons feature in the original poem by Wordsworth which Coleridge extended and elaborated, indeed, it is specifically those which evoke a reflective state of mind relatively detached from concrete or material contexts that distinguish Coleridge’s version, while the accompanying replacement of the Lake District setting with a Circassian one (albeit eccentrically combined with the river-name ‘Tamaha’, possibly originating in Pennsylvania) helps to liberate the narrator’s reflections from conventional ideas of psychological realism.21 The cloud illuminated by the moon, he says, resembles the way in which the paleness of his own cheek is brightened by his observation of Lewti, thus making the state of mind underlying his comparisons into an explicit theme of the poem, in a way which highlights their fundamentally subjective nature, and thus detaches the speaker’s surroundings as well as his thoughts from any objective or concrete world, making them the contents of a vision almost as imaginative as the poet’s recreation of Kubla’s pleasure-gardens (‘Lewti’, PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 459, ll. 15–25). Thus, Coleridge uses his semi-oriental setting in this poem to explore the idea of a creative vision which transforms the speaker’s concrete surroundings, or of the mind as profoundly shaping his perceptions, which cannot substantially exist apart from the emotional and imaginative world which they inhabit. Hence the unknown region of Circassia, as of medieval China, allows Coleridge to achieve a greater degree of liberation from the world of concrete particulars familiar from Lockean empiricism than would have been possible in either a British or a European setting, and at the same time to avoid the implication of a dangerous confusion of subjective and objective, or of spiritual and material, which the use of more familiar Middle Eastern or Indian settings would have entailed. Hence his search for an imaginative transcendence of dualism seems repeatedly to have led Coleridge, at least in his early poems, to seek settings remote from either Judaeo-Christian Europe or its well-defined ‘others’, so as to escape the dualistically opposed conceptions of their values which so many contemporary writings illustrate, and thus to assist his readers in freeing themselves from the similarly opposed conceptions of a fallen, unspiritual world, and one imbued with revelations of a universal creative spirit in which the protagonist, the poet and his readers also share.22

Immanence and Transcendence in Coleridge’s Orient


Notes 1 See BL (vol. 1, pp. 255–7): ‘Either the Objective is taken as the first, and then we have to account for the supervention of the Subjective, which coalesces with it . . . . Or the subjective is taken as the first, and the problem then is, how there supervenes to it a coincident objective.’ See also Schelling (1978, pp. 5–6) for the source of these passages. 2 See Sardanapalus (Act I, scene i) and Don Juan (Canto V, ll. 857–984); Byron (1980–93, vol. 6, pp. 19–20, vol. 5, pp. 275–80). 3 Franklin (1998, p. 218), for example, notes that ‘Byron’s Romantic philhellenist poetry . . . adopted many of the conventional motifs of popular Orientalism, in which the Ottoman empire had long been regarded as the epitome of despotism.’ 4 Shaffer (1975, pp. 56–7) notes that in 1795–6 ‘Coleridge defended Mohammed . . . as having good intentions and good ends’, and implied that in ‘crush[ing] the blasphemous rites of the Pagan / And idolatrous Christians’, he ‘serve[d] providential ends, “Heaven . . . choosing good from iniquity rather than evil from goodness”.’ See also PW (vol. 1, part 1, p. 571). 5 See, for example, CM (vol. 5, p. 835): ‘Were I a Romanist, I should rest much of my Defence on the agreement of the Greek Church with the most obnoxious Tenets of the Roman/ I once told a Prelate at Rome – Prove to me that Invocation of Saints is not Idolatry, & I will become a Catholic –.’ See also Friend (vol. 1, p. 356) on ‘the counterfeit frankincense which smoke-blacks the favourite idol of a Catholic village’. 6 Ann Radcliffe’s evocations of ‘monkish superstition’ and ‘crafty sanctity’ in novels such as A Sicilian Romance, indeed, are echoed surprisingly closely in some of Coleridge’s essays in the Morning Post, which similarly allude to ‘the Roman Catholic [or “Romish”] superstitions’, ‘the absurdities and crimes of the [pre-Reformation] priesthood’, and (in an unpublished draft) to the ‘Poison’ of ‘Popery’. See Radcliffe (1993, pp. 116–17) and EOT (vol. 1, pp. 242, 356, 219). 7 See, for example, Malthus’s critique of the extremes of exploitation engaged in by colonial governors in the Ottoman empire, in Malthus (1826, vol. 1, pp. 180–5). It is perhaps worth noting that Malthus himself taught the importance of a competitive pursuit of individual prosperity, while criticizing government efforts to alleviate poverty, as a lecturer at the East India College from 1805. See Petersen (1979, p. 29), and Malthus (1926, pp. 74–90). 8 Sedlar (1982, pp. 35–48) argues that those who showed the greatest knowledge of and interest in Indian thought in this period were Friedrich Schlegel, F. W. J. Schelling and Arthur Schopenhauer. She also points out, however, that Schlegel was not alone among Europeans of this period in tending to confuse the teachings of Hinduism with those of Buddhism and Taoism, ‘regarding these very different thought-systems all as pantheistic’ (Sedlar, 1982, p. 37). Similarly, Pennington


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

(2005, p. 114) notes that Samuel Turner, a contributor to the first volume of Asiatick Researches, the journal of the Asiatic Society, ‘offered no indication that he sensed doctrinal or ritual differences between Hindus and Buddhists’. 9 Jones’s claim is interestingly echoed in Friedrich Creuzer’s Symbolism and Mythology of Ancient Peoples (1810–12), which, as Halmi (2007, p. 164n) notes, ‘claimed that migrating Indian priests had transmitted their monotheistic religion to Greece’. 10 Sedlar (1982, pp. 35–6) notes that Friedrich Schlegel ‘found that the Zoroastrian faith of Persia had easily the advantage of sublimity and relative truth above all the other Oriental thought-forms’, while also finding important similarities between ancient Indian thought and the philosophy of Plato. As Pennington points out, however, Jones’s discussion of this mysticism resembles other works by British authors of the period in focusing on minorities in the Muslim world in preference to the Islamic majority. In the 1801 volume of Asiatick Researches, Pennington notes, H. T. Colebrook’s article, ‘Particular Tenets of Certain Muhammedan Sects’, discussed ‘only sufis [sic] and other unorthodox groups’, so that ‘it was only by way of noting deviations from a supposed norm that the Researches found occasion to mention the beliefs and practices of orthodox Islam.’ Similarly, Jones’s ‘“Sixth Anniversary Discourse on Persia” treated Sufi poetry and philosophy only briefly and only as they were related to other Hindu and Zoroastrian practices’ (Pennington, 2005, pp. 114–15). 11 The similarities with Plotinus are evident, for example, from comparing this passage with Inge’s summary of the ‘eternal systole and diastole’ in which, according to Plotinus, ‘The perfect and unchangeable life of the divine spirit overflows in an incessant stream of creative activity’, alongside which ‘There is another current which carries all the creatures back towards the source of their being’, and which ‘directs the active life of all creatures endowed with Soul. They were created and sent into the world that they might be moulded a little nearer to the Divine image by yearning for the home which they have left’ (Inge, 1923, vol. 1, p. 254). See also Plotinus (1969, pp. xxiv–xxix, 369–81). 12 On the Neoplatonic ‘spiritual circuit’ of ‘remaining, proceeding and reverting’ in Plotinus and his successors such as Proclus and Damascius, and especially ‘the term translated “reversion” – epistrophe . . . used sometimes with its strict meaning of “being turned towards” something, in other words to refer to an inclination, [and] sometimes with a much fuller meaning of “returning” or “having returned” to it’ (and especially to ‘the One’), see Lloyd (1990, pp. 126–8). See also Kant (2000, pp. 137–41, 143–5). 13 Coleridge’s notes for lecture 10, however, comment that ‘in the present day’, Plotinus, Porphyry and Iamblichus ‘would have formed a sect amongst us of Christians’, since ‘Throughout their works they speak with the highest reverence of our Lord’, and ‘Whatever the Christians believed in point of history, they believed’,

Immanence and Transcendence in Coleridge’s Orient

14 15


17 18




despite regarding Christ as only ‘among the highest of the gods that have descended into the human form’ (Lects 1818–19, vol. 2, pp. 429–30). The square brackets and the words they contain appear in Lects 1818–19, vol. 1, p. 431. The words in round brackets, however, are my own. These arguments, however, are far from consistent, since Plotinus’s proximity to Hinduism is described by Coleridge as consisting in the confusion of the divine with human or earthly forms of existence involved in claiming to experience an intuition of God, though the form of this error which he attributes to Hindus is quite different, involving a discovery of the divine in ‘a stone or an image’ – a common Coleridgean criticism of religions outside the Judaeo-Christian tradition. In ‘Kubla Khan’, indeed – a poem at once spontaneously accessible or popular, and readily susceptible of analysis in Romantic-idealist terms – we may also find an exemplar of the ‘new mythology’ sought by several German Romantic thinkers, and especially Schelling, through which (as Halmi translates their manifesto) ‘enlightened and unenlightened must shake hands, mythology must become philosophical and the people rational, and philosophy must become mythological in order to make the philosophers sensuous’ (Halmi, 2007, p. 172). On this point see, for example, Leask’s discussion of ‘Kubla Khan’ in relation to the contemporary British interest in Chinese gardens, in Leask (1998, pp. 6–12). See, for example, Eilenberg (1992, pp. 41–3) on the deliberately unconvincing imitations of archaic language in ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, and the ways in which they problematize the idea of ‘original’ or authentic speech as distinct from repetition or ‘ventriloquy’. See also Vallins (2000, pp. 23–4). One of the relatively few contemporary English sources of information about Circassia, de la Mottraye’s Travels through Europe, Asia, and into Part of Africa, indeed, mentions the Circassians mainly in connection with their vigorous resistance to the invasions and depredations of the Crimean Tatars (see especially de la Mottraye, 1723, vol. 1, p. 284 and vol. 2, p. 32). Jaimoukha (2001, pp. 11–12) notes that the name ‘Cherkess’ (of which the term ‘Circassian[s]’ is an English equivalent) ‘is probably a Turkish corruption of the Greek name “Kerxetai,” or it may mean “bandit”’, while the Circassians’ own name for themselves is ‘Adiga’. Recent studies have particularly referred to the enslavement of Circassians by the Turks and Tatars (see, for example, MacLean, 2007, p. 186 and Inalcik, 1997, pp. 284–5), and in eighteenth-century literature this phenomenon was particularly associated with the celebrated beauty of Circassian women, which (as Voltaire puts it) made them sought after in ‘the seraglios of the Turkish Sultan, of the Persian Sophy, and of all those who are wealthy enough to purchase such precious merchandize’ (Voltaire, 1741, p. 61). Jaimoukha (2001, pp. 148–9) notes that ‘Christianity came to western Circassia from Byzantium during the reign of Emperor Justinian in the sixth century’, though Islam spread increasingly widely through the influence of the Tatars and the


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

Ottomans from the late sixteenth century onwards, albeit a substantial proportion of the population remained Christian until the end of the eighteenth century. 21 See Mays’s collocation of Coleridge’s several versions of ‘Lewti’ in PW (vol. 2, part 1, pp. 574–82), and ‘Beauty and Moonlight: An Ode’, in Wordsworth (1994, pp. 4–5). The passages (both added by Coleridge) in which the narrator’s reflections are furthest detached from empirical reality, and most abstract, fantastical and meditative in their transformation of the objective, are (I would suggest) lines 24–7, comparing the cloud illuminated by the moon with the flushing of the narrator’s cheek when he finds Lewti, and lines 33–9, in which the cloud’s loss of this illumination is compared to the imagined whiteness of the narrator’s cheek when he lies dying for love of Lewti. See PW (vol. 1, part 1, pp. 459–60). In addition, the more mundane comparison of the ‘white waves’ breaking on the shore with the ‘white and regular . . . row’ of Lewti’s teeth in Wordsworth’s poem (1994, p. 4) is omitted in Coleridge’s final version. Mays suggests that the river-name ‘Tamaha might . . . recall Tamaqua, a river and township now in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, not far south of . . . Cooperstown’, where Coleridge and Southey had planned to found a pantisocratic community, connecting Mary Evans’s ‘unkind’ reaction to this plan with the unkindness of ‘Mary’ in the earliest version of the poem, by Wordsworth. See PW (vol. 1, part 1, p. 459n). ‘Tamaha’ thus seems further to associate Coleridge’s visions of Circassia with the Romantic wildness evoked, for example, in Wordsworth’s near-contemporary ‘The Complaint of a Forsaken Indian Woman’ (see Wordsworth and Coleridge, 1969, pp. 106–9). 22 My thesis in this paper thus coincides substantially with the central theme of Elinor Shaffer’s ‘Kubla Khan’ and the Fall of Jerusalem, in which the evocation of the equal reality of the concrete and the visionary in ‘Kubla Khan’ is connected with the combination of Western and oriental traditions in the aftermath of the Roman conquest of Jerusalem, and hence with the origins of Christianity, as well as with the hermeneutical tradition of the objective as well as intuitive validity of Revelation. See especially Shaffer (1975, pp. 32–7, 62–95) on these points.


‘The One Life Within Us and Abroad’: Coleridge and Hinduism Natalie Tal Harries

Coleridge’s interest in Indian literature and thought, and in the Oriental scholarship of his time, is well documented and has been discussed by John Drew (1987), K. G. Srivastava (2002) and Antonella Riem Natale (2005) in recent studies. His notebooks, letters, lectures and marginalia contain numerous references to translations of sacred texts such as Wilkins’s The Bhagvat-Geeta (1785) and Jones’s Ordinances of Menu (1796), as well as historical and anthropological studies such as the collected Dissertations and Miscellaneous Pieces Relating to the History & Antiquities, the Arts, Sciences and Literature of Asia (1792) contributed to by Jones, Chambers and Wilkins, Maurice’s History of Hindostan (1795) and Dubois’s Description of the Character, Manners, and Customs of the People of India (1817). Determining how this material contributed to his intellectual development is complicated, however, by the fact that his opinion of Indian theology, philosophy and poetry significantly shifts throughout his life. It has been suggested that this ambivalence can be clarified by distinguishing between two periods of influence: one liberal and enthusiastic (1793–1815) and the other critical and hostile (1815–34) (Srivastava, 2002, p. 204). This chapter proposes a modification of this account by suggesting that there was a transitionary phase during which Coleridge vacillates between positive and negative responses to the translations and scholarship available to him. There are, I will argue, three distinct stages of influence and engagement: a first period (1793–1802) consisting of a primarily positive view, a second (1802–21) that contains both positive and negative opinions but remains relatively balanced and a third (1822 onwards) which is predominantly critical. A clearer sense of these different phases, and the


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

factors that account for Coleridge’s shifting response, will expose previously unexamined areas of influence, particularly in his poetry, and allow a subtle assessment of the place of Indian thought and writing in his intellectual and creative trajectory. My particular concern is Coleridge’s reaction to Hinduism, a topic broached in previous studies but treated very selectively. This chapter will examine how Coleridge’s reading of Hindu texts influenced not only his beliefs, both religious and philosophical, but also his pursuit of spiritual enlightenment and his poetry. I will focus specifically on the impact of Wilkins’s translation of The Bhagvat-Geeta and, by examining each of the three periods of influence individually, illustrate how Coleridge’s attitude towards the concepts he found interesting in the Gita evolved, and the effect that this shifting opinion had on his poetical compositions. Coleridge’s first reading of Wilkins’s translation of the Gita is difficult to pinpoint exactly. The first explicit reference appears in Coleridge’s discussion of the Gita in his Philosophical Lectures (1818–19) (Lects 1818–19, vol. 1, pp. 130–3). However, there is evidence to suggest that he read the Gita much earlier. In a letter to John Thelwall, written in 1797, Coleridge relates his frequent perception of the universe as ‘an immense heap of little things’ and laments how he ‘can contemplate nothing but parts’ despite the fact that his mind ‘feels as if it ached to behold & know something great – something one & indivisible – and it is only in the faith of this that rocks or waterfalls, mountains or caverns give me the sense of sublimity or majesty!’ (CL, vol. 1, p. 349). This confession seems to reveal the true intention of Coleridge’s contemplation of nature, namely the pursuit of a holistic perception of the universe, which is further emphasized by his quotation of the climactic vision of ‘This Lime-Tree Bower’ to illustrate his point. This ambition is linked directly to Hinduism as Coleridge goes on to refer to his occasional adoption of ‘the Brahman Creed’ and his desire ‘to float along an infinite ocean cradled in the flower of the lotus’, like the ‘Indian Vishna’, immediately afterwards (CL, vol. 1, p. 350). As Drew observes, these descriptions of Vishnu and the floating lotus correspond with depictions and imagery in the Gita (1987, p. 193). For example, the Gita states that he who dedicates his interest to ‘Brahm, the Supreme’ is not tainted by sin ‘but remaineth like the leaf of the lotus unaffected by the waters’ (The Bhagvat-Geeta, 1785, p. 58). Furthermore, Coleridge’s aspiration to achieve a vision of universal unity through meditative contemplation characterizes many of his early poems and his treatment of this theme often corresponds with the teachings of the Gita. In his later discussion ‘On the Divine Ideas’ (1822–3),1

Coleridge and Hinduism


Coleridge criticizes the concepts he once admired but he admits that he ‘paid the debt of homage’ on his ‘first presentation to these foreign potentates by the aid of the great linguists’ Jones and Wilkins (OM, p. 282). Between 1796 and 1797 he refers to both Jones’s translation of The Ordinances of Menu (CL, vol. 1, p. 252) and Maurice’s History of Hindostan (CN, vol. 1, 240), and there are numerous references to the Gita throughout Maurice’s work. Thus, Coleridge’s ‘first presentation’ to the Gita seems to occur alongside his reading of Jones and Maurice during the mid- to late 1790s.

‘Meditation’s heaven-ward wing’ In the Gita, Kreeshna tells Arjoon that the ‘organs are esteemed great, but the mind is greater than they’ (The Bhagvat-Geeta, 1785, p. 49). The contemplative power of the mind is harnessed in the practice of meditation and the Gita asserts that this ‘exercise of the soul’ is essential in the pursuit of divine wisdom (The Bhagvat-Geeta, 1785, p. 62). The necessary stages of meditation are outlined in detail in the Gita and these elements are discernible in Coleridge’s poetic expressions of meditative contemplation. In ‘Effusion XXXV’ (1795–6), later revised and published as ‘The Eolian Harp’, we are essentially presented with a detailed account of the poet’s meditative process. The Greek resonance of the later title directs attention away from the Indian influences, but Coleridge’s classification of the poem as one of his ‘Meditative Poems in Blank Verse’ in Sibylline Leaves (1817) reinforces them. This analysis, however, is of an early version of the poem as it appeared in Poems (1796). The opening lines illustrate the gradual distancing of the material or sensory world as the descriptions move from definitive depictions of Sara and the cottage garden to the evocative imagery of the Eolian harp and its ‘soft floating Witchery of sound’ (PW, vol. 2, part 1, p. 323, l. 20). The distancing of the poet is completed in the opening lines of the next stanza as, alone now, he positions himself ‘on the midway Slope’ of a not too distant hill (ll. 34–5). This coincides with the instructions of the Gita as it describes the exercise of the spirit as ‘private’ and the person practising meditation as ‘recluse’. The Gita also dictates that they should plant themselves ‘firmly on the spot that is undefiled’ and ‘neither too high nor too low’ (The Bhagvat-Geeta, 1785, p. 63). This is what Coleridge does by placing himself on the midway slope, and he further illustrates this notion of being ‘neither too high nor too low’, midway between sensory perception and meditative vision, with the specified time of ‘noon’ and


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

his view through ‘half clos’d eyelids’ (ll. 35–6). The nature of his observation also adheres to the meditative guidelines in the Gita as they clearly state that the eyes should remain ‘fixed on the point of his nose, looking at no other place around’ (The Bhagvat-Geeta, 1785, p. 63), which inevitably results in looking through half-closed eyelids. The matter of whether the poet’s mind is ‘fixed on one object alone’, as the Gita instructs, is more complicated (The Bhagvat-Geeta, 1785, p. 63). His mind is certainly ‘subdued’ (The Bhagvat-Geeta, 1785, p. 63) as the Gita says it should be, and as his ‘tranquil muse upon Tranquility’ (l. 38) suggests. In contrast, the poet’s thoughts are described as ‘wild and various’, ‘idle flitting Phantasies’, and yet his brain is qualified as ‘indolent and passive’ and his thoughts continually relate back to the ‘Lute’, or harp, itself (ll. 40–3). In the revelatory culmination of the poet’s meditation, the ‘diversely fram’d’ ‘organic Harps’ of ‘animated nature’ are unified by the ‘one intellectual Breeze, / At once the Soul of each, and God of all’ (ll. 44–8). Thus, Coleridge’s experience of meditative contemplation in this poem is consistent with the teachings of the Gita and successfully results in a perception of divine unity or the presence of God in all things. In 1797, Coleridge relates how his mind had been habituated to ‘the Vast’ since he was a child and explains: ‘I never regarded my senses, in any way, as the criteria of my belief. I regulated all my creeds by my conceptions, not by my sight’ (CL, vol. 1, p. 354). He further observes how those ‘who have been led to the same truths step by step thro’ the constant testimony of their senses’ seem to lack a sense which he possesses as they ‘contemplate nothing but parts’ and ‘the Universe to them is but a mass of little things’ (CL, vol. 1, p. 354). This reflection was written within two days of the previously quoted correspondence to Thelwall, and both letters reflect the importance of a holistic perception of ‘the Great and the Whole’ (CL, vol. 1, p. 354), rather than a consideration of component parts, and the necessity of an extrasensory insight in order to achieve it. Coleridge’s use of the word ‘Vast’ to convey the apprehension of this additional sense relates directly to the ‘vast’ intellectual breeze in ‘Effusion XXXV’ (l. 47) revealed to the poet through meditation. According to the Gita, the ‘tumultuous senses hurry away, by force, the heart even of the wise man who striveth to restrain them’, but the ‘man of a governable mind, enjoying the objects of his senses, with all his faculties rendered obedient to his will’, ‘who hath his passions in subjection’, possesses ‘true wisdom’ and ‘obtaineth happiness supreme’ (The Bhagvat-Geeta, 1785, p. 42). These attributes are continually reinforced throughout the Gita and Coleridge’s poetic expression of visionary meditation contains the same essential elements. For example, in

Coleridge and Hinduism


Religious Musings (composed in 1794–7), ‘The Destiny of Nations’ (composed in 1795–7) and ‘Ode to the Departing Year’ (1796), Coleridge explicitly refers to life as ‘a vision shadowy of Truth’ (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 190, l. 397), and acknowledges how the ‘fleshly Passions’ ‘bedim God’s image’ (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 311, ll. 169– 70). However, God may be viewed through ‘shapes, and sounds, and all the world of sense’ as through ‘clouds that veil his Light’ (PW, vol. 2, part 1, p. 387, ll. 16–17). Once this has been achieved the divine unity of the universe and the presence of God in all things, the ‘Image of God, and his Eternity’ (PW, vol. 2, part 1, p. 387, l. 17), may be apprehended.

‘Supreme Reality!’ While the concept of universal or divine unity has been traced to other sources of influence for Coleridge, such as Platonism or Neoplatonism and pantheism, the similarities with the Gita at certain points are especially striking. It is worth noting that the concept of pantheism in the Romantic period was often considered distinctly ‘Eastern’ in character. In his Aesthetics, Hegel argues that pantheism ‘belongs primarily to the East which grasps the thought of an absolute unity of the Divine and the thought of all things as comprised in this unity’ (1975, p. 365). What makes Coleridge’s formulation of this concept distinctive in particular poems is his presentation of this wisdom as a direct result of meditative contemplation, as outlined in the Gita. Hegel emphasizes the same feature when he distinguishes between Christian pantheism as ‘the substantial existence of God in things and the unification of the self with God and of God with human subjectivity’, and the ‘strictly Eastern Pantheism’ which ‘emphasizes rather the contemplation of the one substance in all phenomena and their sacrifice by the subject’ who consequently acquires a ‘supreme enlargement of consciousness’ and, ‘through entire liberation from the finite, the bliss of absorption into everything that is best and most splendid’ (1975, p. 371). This depiction of ‘Eastern Pantheism’ conforms to the teachings of the Ordinances of Menu, which describes the ‘Supreme’ as: ‘a spirit, by no means the object of any sense, which can only be conceived by a mind wholly abstracted from matter, and as it were slumbering; but which, for the purpose of assisting his meditation, he may imagine more subtil than the finest conceivable essence, and more bright than the purest gold’ (Jones, 1796, p. 361). Furthermore, the Gita cannot be classified as strictly pantheistic or theistic as it portrays God as both present in all and separate and superior to all: a transcendent individual being, exalted


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

and worshipped, who simultaneously pervades all of creation. This aspect of the divine nature is also emphasized in the Ordinances, as every Brahmin is instructed to ‘consider all nature, both visible and invisible, as existing in the divine spirit’, but this is qualified by an additional instruction to ‘consider the supreme omnipresent intelligence as the sovereign lord of them all, by whose energy alone they exist’ (Jones, 1796, p. 361). Hegel acknowledges this defining characteristic as well in his explanation that the Divine is envisaged as ‘the most excellent and most pre-eminent thing amongst and in the different existents’ and ‘the One is this thing and another and another again and rolls through all things’ (1975, p. 365). Coleridge also makes this distinction in Religious Musings as we are told that it is ‘God / Diffus’d thro’ all, that doth make all one whole’ (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 180, ll. 130–1), and yet this ‘Supreme Fair sole operant’ coincidentally dwells apart on a celestial throne accessible only to the ‘elect of Heaven’ (ll. 45– 58) or ‘on Meditation’s heaven-ward wing’ (l. 414). The nature of God is further explained in the Gita through an illustration of the component parts of the ‘Supreme’, namely: ‘earth, water, fire, air, and aether’; ‘together with mind, understanding’ and ‘self-consciousness’; and another principle ‘which is of a vital nature, and by which this world is supported’ (The Bhagvat-Geeta, 1785, p. 69). In Religious Musings, Coleridge accentuates the same sequential differentia in his illustration of God as ‘Nature’s essence, Mind and Energy’ (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 177, l. 49). Furthermore, these divine elements can only be perceived by the ‘elect of Heaven’ which corresponds with the deity’s qualification in the Gita that ‘[a] few amongst ten thousand mortals strive for perfection; and but a few of those who strive and become perfect, know me according to my nature’ (The Bhagvat-Geeta, 1785, p. 69). These three components of the divine nature are also discernible in the 1817 version of ‘The Destiny of Nations’ as the ‘Father of Earth and Heaven!’ is further identified as: ‘All conscious Presence of the Universe!’ or ‘Mind’; ‘Nature’s vast Ever-acting Energy!’ or ‘Nature’s essence’; and ‘In Will, in Deed, Impulse to All in All!’ or ‘Energy’ (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 298, ll. 452–5). In this first period, therefore, Coleridge’s enthusiastic engagement with aspects of Hinduism is particularly evident. He was clearly attracted to the practice of meditative contemplation as a method of comprehending the ‘vast’ and achieving a sense of ‘something one and indivisible’. The teachings of the Gita seem to have provided Coleridge with a potential framework and procedure for his own contemplation of divine unity, or ‘God all in all!’ (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 177, l. 44), as well as influencing his poetic expression of such seemingly ineffable concepts.

Coleridge and Hinduism


‘A vain endeavour’ The second period of influence is characterized by a vacillation between positive and negative responses to the concepts Coleridge focused on in the Gita. His attitude towards the form of meditative contemplation that he found so attractive in the first period of influence seems to change from 1802 onwards and parallels can be drawn between this altered perspective and Coleridge’s own struggle with visionary insight. Although he was still compelled by the idea of divine unity, his ability to apprehend the unified nature of God and the universe through meditation was lost. In ‘The Pains of Sleep’ (composed in 1803), we are presented with a clear depiction of the poet’s decreasing ability to achieve a state of meditative contemplation. The first stanza describes the poet’s usual practice of meditation which is clearly distinguished from the traditional Christian form of prayer conducted with ‘moving lips’ and ‘bended knees’ as it is performed ‘silently’ and accomplished ‘by slow degrees’ (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 753, ll. 1–4). This unusual description corresponds with the meditative instructions in the Gita, which specify how the practitioner should prepare the mind so that ‘he may, by degrees, find rest’ (The Bhagvat-Geeta, 1785, p. 64). The poet’s spirit is ‘composed’ and sent forth to God, or ‘Love’ as Coleridge often denotes the deity, his ‘eyelids close’ and his passions are subdued as there is ‘[n]o wish conceived, no thought expressed! / Only a sense of supplication’ (ll. 5–9). This practice culminates in the acquisition of wisdom as, just as in ‘Effusion XXXV’, ‘a sense’ over his soul impresses upon him an understanding of divine unity: ‘Since in me, round me, every where / Eternal Strength and Wisdom are’ (ll. 12–13). These opening lines convey a sense of loss when juxtaposed with the rest of the poem as it becomes apparent that the poet, overcome with passions and sensory considerations, can no longer attain a state of meditative bliss. Coleridge’s use of opium has been proposed by some as a contributory factor in his ability to achieve visions. The effects of opium include relaxation accompanied by a sense of pleasant ease, an inner state of well-being, introspection and a diminished attention to external stimuli (Schneider, 1966, pp. 40–1). These effects clearly correspond with the requisite physical state for meditation described in the Gita. However, Coleridge’s initial, and often successful, attempts at meditation in the first period of influence do not seem to be indebted to the effects of opium. His first recorded use of opium was in 1791 and there are references to his consumption of the drug, in one form or another, in March 1796, November–December 1796, March–April 1798 and during the composition of


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

‘Kubla Khan’ (Abrams, 1971a, pp. 53–9). There is no clear evidence to suggest that Coleridge was under the influence of opium during the composition of ‘Effusion XXXV’, and he did not begin to rely heavily upon the drug until 1800 onwards (Hayter, 1968, p. 192). It seems safe to assume, therefore, that his early practice of meditation was largely unaffected by the opium habit he was yet to fully develop. Furthermore, the correspondences between the instructions in the Gita and Coleridge’s account of the process of meditation in ‘Effusion XXXV’ are indicative of the influence of Hinduism rather than the effects of opium. By 1803, Coleridge had become increasingly dependent on the drug and, in poems like ‘The Pains of Sleep’, it is clear that his physical and psychological anguish during periods of abstinence or decreased consumption was so great that it prevented him from achieving the necessary physical conditions for meditative contemplation. However, these occasional attempts to control his habit were rare at first, and he does not seem to regain his ability to achieve meditative visions with or without opium. Coleridge’s inability to resume his former practice of meditation is also evident in ‘Dejection’ (1802). The treatment of meditative contemplation in this poem can be seen as an inversion of the successful account of meditation in ‘Effusion XXXV’. The poet is ‘Unrous’d’ by the wind, a ‘dull sobbing draft’ rather than an ‘intellectual breeze’, as it fails to produce a transporting ‘soft floating witchery of sound’ and instead ‘drones & rakes / Upon the Strings of this Eolian Lute, / Which better far were mute’ (PW, vol. 1, part 2, p. 698, ll. 6–8). The poet also re-enacts his previous contemplation of the landscape and the sky. However, although he can ‘see’ their beauty he cannot ‘feel’ it as these ‘outward Forms’ are now ‘lifeless’ (ll. 37–8). The ‘Wind / Which long has rav’d unnoticed!’, that ‘Mad Lutanist!’, sends forth ‘a Scream / Of agony by Torture lengthen’d out’ (ll. 96– 104), and the state of meditative contemplation inspired by similar conditions in ‘Effusion XXXV’ now seems impossible to achieve.

‘The one Life’ Although Coleridge no longer seemed able to attain a state of meditative contemplation in this transitionary period, he was still attracted to the concept of divine unity, and he often referred back to his previous insight in order to continue to express this idea in his poetry. For example, the addition of the ‘one Life’ section, as an erratum to the revised version, of the ‘Eolian Harp’ in 1817 fully develops the poem’s revelation of divine unity (PW, vol. 2, part 1, p. 323,

Coleridge and Hinduism


ll. 26–33). However, the final lines, originally added in 1803, suggest that such a vision can no longer be accomplished as ‘it should have been impossible / Not to love all things in a World so filled’ (ll. 30–1), and the contemporaneous lament of ‘Dejection’ confirms this possibility through personal experience. In ‘God’s Omnipresence’ (1814), the ‘Power’ of God can be traced ‘In every Creature’s Form and Face’ (PW, vol. 1, part 2, p. 914, ll. 1–2). The speaker takes comfort in the ‘all-present’ nature of God as it sustains the hope that His ‘Presence’ may still be known and found (ll. 14–16). Coleridge’s adapted portrayal of divine unity in this poem correlates with the Christian form of pantheism, defined by Hegel as a recognition of ‘the substantial existence of God in things and the unification of the self with God and of God with human subjectivity’, rather than the poet’s previous depiction of ‘the one substance in all phenomena’ and ‘the bliss of absorption into everything’ inspired by the Hindu practice of meditative contemplation. The final lines of this fragment are particularly revealing: Then come, what will, of Weal or Woe, Joy’s Bosom-spring shall steady flow: For tho’ ’tis Heaven thy Self to see, Where but thy Shadow falls, Grief cannot be! (‘God’s Omnipresence: A Hymn’, PW, vol. 1, part 2, p. 915, ll. 17–20)

Although the poet can no longer achieve the heavenly state that arises from a direct vision of God, as he cannot overcome the ‘Weal’ and ‘Woe’ of daily existence, the knowledge that God is still present brings him joy, even if he is manifested as a shadow rather than as light as he once was. In his Philosophical Lectures, Coleridge quotes a passage from Wilkins’s translation of the Gita in which Arjoon is granted divine insight in order to apprehend God in his true form encompassing and pervading all things. Coleridge describes the Gita as ‘a great poem of India’ and ‘a very interesting poem’, and his major objection to its teachings seems to be founded on his absolute rejection of polytheism (Lects 1818–19, vol. 1, pp. 130–3). By 1820, Coleridge’s misgivings were based on a more philosophical objection. Coleridge asserts that Jones’s Dissertations (1792) contains ‘the most pleasing account of the Pantheistic Scheme of Theomonism of the Persian and Indian Philosophers’, but he protests that this concept leaves ‘the main problems unsolved & unsolvable’ as ‘the passage from the Infinite to the Finite’, or the ‘re-union of the Soul after Death with God’, is presented as ‘a mere Bubble of words and contradictions in a Scheme which makes God all, and all God’ (CN, vol. 4, 4737). However, a


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

year later Coleridge translated Schlegel’s German rendition of a passage from the Gita, and he comments that this description of the ‘eighth incarnation of Krishna or Vishnu, as Man’ can be understood as a ‘poetic Symbol’ (CN, vol. 4, 4832). By the end of the second period, therefore, Coleridge had revalued the Hindu concepts that interested him as philosophically flawed, but they retained their poetic potentiality. His earlier identification with the teachings of the Gita, and other Hindu sacred texts, through direct experience was supplanted in this period by a theoretical consideration of the subject, culminating in a rejection of such teachings as truth, but an acceptance of their ability to represent truth. As Coleridge observed in his analysis of the Gita, ‘[m]any an earnest truth has Plato taught mythically’ (CN, vol. 4, 4832), and he attributed the same symbolic potential to Hindu mythology.

‘Contemplative indolence’ In the final period of influence, Coleridge rapidly reappraises his previous engagement with aspects of Hinduism and his work often seems to define itself against the associations of his earlier poems. In ‘On the Divine Ideas’, Coleridge discusses his earlier interest in, and later condemnation of, the Hindu concepts that once inspired him. His previous attraction to a perception of ‘the Vast’ or ‘the Great and the Whole’ is dismissed here as the result of ‘childish intellects living among gigantic objects’ (OM, pp. 280–1). This negative account may well have been influenced by his reading of Dubois’s Description which he annotated sometime between 1818 and 1828 (CM, vol. 2, p. 339). While the texts Coleridge read by writers such as Wilkins and Jones, during the first period of influence, presented their material positively, Dubois’s account is openly disparaging, and Coleridge himself describes ‘the whole Book’ as ‘a catalogue of their [Hindus’] Vices, positive or negative’ (CM, vol. 2, p. 347). However, like Dubois, he condemns the ‘Brahman philosophy’ as without ‘growth’ or ‘production’, and he dismisses ‘their Pantheism or visible God’ as ‘a natural result of an imbecile understanding’ produced by their native climate and surroundings, method of perception and ‘indolence’ (OM, p. 281). This form of indolence bears no resemblance to the positive characterization of the ‘indolent and passive brain’ open to visionary experience through meditative contemplation in the first period of influence. Coleridge’s treatment of the concept, or characteristic, of indolence throughout these three phases seems to correspond with his shifting response to Hinduism. Spiegelman

Coleridge and Hinduism


observes that by ‘the middle of the eighteenth century cheerful, not to say enviable, indolence had come into its own’ (1995, p. 7), and Coleridge’s early references to indolence are inherently linked with fancy, dreams, visionary ability and creativity. In the ‘Songs of the Pixies’ (1793), the ‘youthful Bard’, brought by ‘Indolence and Fancy’, ‘Wooes the Queen of Solemn Thought’ and weaves ‘gay dreams of sunny-tinctured hue’ (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 110, ll. 37–45). Indolence is thus presented as a necessary component in the pursuit of visionary dreams just as it is in ‘Effusion XXXV’. The characterization of the poet’s ‘passive brain’ as ‘indolent’ adheres to the original definition, a ‘state of mind in which neither pain nor pleasure is felt’ (Spiegelman, 1995, p. 7), which the Gita affirms is a necessary condition for meditative contemplation. In a political lecture at Bristol in 1795, Coleridge further develops this idea of indolence by attributing the quality to ‘men of genius’ whose ‘early habits have been those of contemplative indolence; and the day-dreams, with which they have been accustomed to amuse their solitude, adapt them for splendid speculation’ (Friend, vol. 1, p. 328). A year later he endows himself with this defining characteristic: ‘the Whole man indicates indolence capable of energies’ (CL, vol. 1, p. 156). The first clear sign of Coleridge becoming critical of his own indolence is his self-portrayal as ‘a dreaming & therefore an indolent man’ in 1802. The positive former associations of this condition are not utterly discarded as there is still a direct link with dreaming, ‘reverie-like vividness of Thoughts’ and ‘a diminished Impressibility from Things’. However, the vividness of his thoughts is ‘unhealthy’ and, ‘self-incaged’ by his own indolent nature, he experiences a disconnection, ‘to a diseased degree’, between his ‘ideas, wishes, & feelings’ and ‘motion & action’ (CL, vol. 2, p. 782). In 1804, Coleridge returned to this consideration of indolence and action in a notebook entry on the ‘dignity of passiveness to worthy Activity’ (CN, vol. 1, 1834). This reflection is reminiscent of the teachings of lectures 3–5 of the Gita in which the ‘speculative’ and ‘practical’ institutes are described and compared (The Bhagvat-Geeta, 1785, p. 44). The Gita declares that ‘His soul who is unaffected by the impressions made upon the outward feelings, obtaineth what is pleasure in his own mind’ and attributes this quality to the ‘wise man’ (The Bhagvat-Geeta, 1785, p. 59). It is also asserted that: ‘He who may behold, as it were, inaction in action, and action in inaction, is wise amongst mankind’ (The Bhagvat-Geeta, 1785, p. 53). Coleridge makes the same observation here as he notes ‘how few can transmute activity of mind into emotion’ and acknowledges that those who can remain passively ‘in a state of deep tranquil Emotion’, and those ‘who active as the stirring Tempest’ can ‘remain with hearts broad awake, & the Understanding asleep in all but its retentiveness and receptivity’ both


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

evince ‘great Genius’ (CN, vol. 1, 1834). Furthermore, Coleridge’s self-accusation of ‘constitutional indolence’, in The Friend in 1808 (Friend, vol. 2, p. 16), was later qualified as ‘intellectual indolence’, although not by Coleridge, in the introduction to the third volume (Friend, vol. 1. p. 385).Thus, despite Coleridge’s acknowledgement of the inevitable consequences of his own indolence in this period, he maintained, to a certain degree, the connection with dreams and visionary ability, and he emphasized the intellectual associations of ‘contemplative indolence’ undertaken by ‘men of genius’ including, presumably, himself. In the Biographia Literaria, Coleridge develops his self-imposed characteristic of ‘constitutional indolence’ into an entirely detrimental condition causing procrastination, self-delusion and, consequently, the incompletion of literary endeavours (BL, vol. 1, pp. 45, 226). This view is also evident in the 1816 preface to Christabel, as Coleridge holds his own indolence responsible for the delayed publication of the poem (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 481). By the third period of influence Coleridge’s concept of indolence became a distinctly negative attribute and this reassessment relates to his reconsideration of ‘the Sanscrit philosophical and religious writings’ discussed in ‘On the Divine Ideas’ (OM, p. 280). The idea of ‘intellectual indolence’ is rejected entirely as in this critique indolence produces an ‘imbecile understanding’ rather than ‘splendid speculation’. Indolence is still presented as a necessary condition for meditative contemplation, but the ‘partial closure of the eyelids’, and its associated practice, is finally rejected as a condition in which ‘all hues and outlines melt into a garish mist’ subsequently deemed to be ‘unity’ (OM, pp. 280–1).

‘Fruitful falsity’ In ‘On the Divine Ideas’, Coleridge argues that the concept of unity in Hindu texts is confounded with ‘omniformity’ and dismisses the entire faith as ‘Atheism in the form of Polytheism’ (OM, p. 283). The esoteric nature of the ‘doctrines of omneity and infinity which are the constant theme and the philosophical import of the Indian theology’ fascinated Coleridge in the first period of influence and caused him concern in the second period. In this final period the ‘mystery’ seems to simply exasperate him as he asserts that there is no attempt within ‘Brahman Theosophy’ to ‘resolve the riddle’ (OM, p. 283). Coleridge’s ultimate revaluation, therefore, supplants his earlier reassessment of Hindu sacred texts as philosophically flawed but symbolically promising as he decides that ‘nothing can be more obscure and conjectural than their direct interpretation’, and insists

Coleridge and Hinduism


that ‘instead of drawing the mind to the conception of any true personeity in the real agent, or subject, veiled hidden under this veil, [this form of symbolism] tends rather to preclude it’ (OM, p. 283). Coleridge concludes that, despite its flaws, the Gita may be considered poetry but ‘it labours under the mortal disease common, with few exceptions, to all Indian poetry, the attempt to image the unimaginable, not by symbols but by a jumble of visual shapes helped out by words of number.’ He further contends that its teachings are ‘little more than the endless repetition of the old, which taken as the ground of a system, is either a barren truism or a most fruitful falsity’ (OM, p. 284). As a result, Coleridge claims that it cannot be received as theosophy and, as he believes the morals are ‘equivocal at the best’ and that there is no mention of love, he asserts that it cannot be received as Ethics or Theology either. This analysis is inaccurate but decisive and Coleridge seems to maintain this view for the rest of his life. In the notebook draft of ‘Work without Hope’ (1825), Coleridge deliberately alludes to his early poetic accounts of meditative contemplation as he describes how the arrival of the thought that inspired the poem ‘struck upon the Eolian Harp’ of his ‘Brain’ (CN, vol. 4, 5192). This allusion is further supported by the image of ‘WINTER slumb’ring in the open air’ (PW, vol. 2, part 2, p. 1229, l. 3) in the opening lines of the draft as it recalls ‘the mute still air’ of ‘Music slumbering on her instrument’ in ‘The Eolian Harp’ (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 233, ll. 32–3). With this context in mind, the poet’s description of himself with ‘wreathless Brow’ (l. 11) could also be an allusion to his former incarnation as the ‘youthful Bard’, in ‘Songs of the Pixies’, wreathed with ‘faery garlands round his head’ (PW, vol. 1, p. 110, l. 48). This correspondence appears to be confirmed in the next line as the poet asks ‘would you learn the Spells, that drowse my Soul?’ (l. 12), reminding us of the ‘soothing Witch’ries shed’ over the ‘hush’d soul’ of the young bard immediately before he is crowned with the faery garland (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 110, ll. 47–8). Considering the clear juxtaposition of the poet’s current state with earlier, successful visionary experiences, the culminating lines of the stanza, ‘Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve; / And Hope without an Object cannot live’ (ll. 13–14), could be seen as the poet’s lament for the loss of his former insight facilitated by meditative contemplation. There is unity in the poem, between the poet and his faith, but that unity is shattered with the breaking of the ‘Sister Mirror’ and the poet consequently loses his ‘Object and his inmost All’ (l. 16). The final image of the poet enclosed in the ‘spidery Lines’ of the World, a ‘viscous masonry of films and threads’, that ‘excludes the Day’ (l. 16), replaces the fleeting glimpse of unity with an overwhelming sense of isolated alienation: an antithesis to the climactic unifying visions of Coleridge’s early work.


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

In conclusion, it is clear that Coleridge was significantly influenced by aspects of Hinduism, and that Wilkins’s translation of the Gita was a primary source of inspiration. He was initially attracted to the idea of meditative contemplation as a catalyst for visionary experience and the belief in the divinely unified nature of God and all things. In the second period of influence, Coleridge maintained his interest in divine unity, but lost his ability to perceive it through meditation, and while he questioned the philosophical validity of the Indian ‘Pantheistic Scheme of Theomonism’, he retained his conviction of the symbolic potentiality of Hindu mythology. Finally, in the third period he retracted his previous views and refuted the doctrines of the Gita completely on both philosophical and theosophical grounds. This alteration could be attributed to a combination of factors including Coleridge’s apparent loss of vision through meditation, the influence of Dubois’s text and his ultimate inability to reconcile the aspects of Hinduism he found interesting with his own adherence to Christianity. Thus, although Coleridge ultimately disregarded the God that ‘eastern sages paint’ (PW, vol. 1, part 2, p. 655, ll. 52–3), and lost ‘that bliss / Fear’d as an alien, and too vast for man’ (ll. 56–7), his early poetry and thought were significantly affected by both. The examination of this important influence gives us a greater insight into the nature of Coleridge’s pursuit, perception and experience of ‘the Great and the Whole’ and enhances our interpretation of the poems that engage with that theme.


I wish to thank the AHRC and The Friends of Coleridge for financial assistance. I would also like to thank Professor David Duff for his valuable suggestions on the composition of this chapter.

1 The dating of ‘On the Divine Ideas’ remains conjectural. McFarland suggests that it was probably composed in 1822–3 but he qualifies this by noting that the ‘discussion of Indian mythology’ could have been written ‘any time from Dec 1820 to Oct 1823’ (OM, p. 214). My own comparison of Coleridge’s response to Hinduism in this text with his significantly different comments on the same concepts in 1820–1 supports a date of 1822 or later.


On Artistic Disinterestedness: Coleridge, Schopenhauer and Japanese Esoteric Buddhism Compared Setsuko Wake-Naota

Lord Shaftesbury is credited with introducing the concept of disinterestedness into British aesthetics as a moral judgement that should be cultivated and improved before ‘the highest beauties’ are ‘known and acknowledged’ (1999, p. 320). According to Paul Guyer (2003, p. 30), aesthetic experience of disinterestedness1 for Kant and Schopenhauer is not the experience of ‘freedom for the simple contemplation of beauty with no further concerns or implication, but rather a freedom to develop our imaginative and cognitive capacities, to gain knowledge of ourselves and others, and to imagine new ways of life’. The idea of artistic disinterestedness as a means to the imaginative creation of better interrelationship with others attracted Coleridge’s attention to Kant’s philosophy of art. Given these facts, the purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate that Kūkai (774–835), a founder of Japanese Shingon Esoteric Buddhism, also – like Coleridge and Schopenhauer – valued highly such aesthetic experience of disinterestedness as the origin of sympathy or compassion, facilitating our pleasurable pursuit of selflessness in order to experience mutual assistance of the people or natural phenomena around us.

Coleridge on three steps to experience virtuous disinterestedness Coleridge, in his preparatory lecture notes for his seventh Lecture on Literature at the Surrey Institution in 1812, described the disinterestedness required for the viewer or the reader to ‘judge’ the fine arts including literature:


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

Not only a multitude of Individuals but even whole nations so enslaved to the Habits of their Education & immediate circumstances, as not to Judge disinterestedly even those subjects, the very pleasure from which consists in its disinterestedness – subjects of Taste & Belles Lettres. (Lects 1808–19, vol. 1, p. 491)

According to Coleridge at the time of giving this series of lectures on literature, the disinterested judgement by Taste as ‘the Sense of Beauty’ (CN, vol. 3, 3584) requires some sort of self-conscious act of ‘placing himself on some central point, in which he can command the whole  – i.e. some general rule, which [is] founded on Reason’ and ‘must therefore apply to all men’. In consequence, disinterested pleasure produces ‘true Tolerance’ (Lects 1808–19, vol. 1, p. 491). In this lecture note, Coleridge borrowed substantially from Schlegel’s first lecture in Über Dramatische Kunst und Literatur, but his reference to ‘true Tolerance’ as the effect of becoming disinterested expressed an original point of view (Lects 1808– 19, p. 491n). The word ‘tolerance’ well explains Coleridge’s idea that becoming disinterested does not mean withdrawing from ‘accidental circumstances’ but ‘conform[ing]’ to them, while ‘stand[ing] independent of ’, and at the same time, being dependent on these circumstances applicable to all men (Lects 1808–19, p. 516). For Coleridge, becoming disinterested so as to be dependent on and yet independent from attendant circumstances supports his characteristic ‘doubleness’ or ‘unity and division’, which is described by Seamus Perry as ‘vivid evidence of strenuous and self-scrutinizing imaginative life’ (1999, pp. 1, 145). Subjugation of our enslaved interest in the world of the senses – an interest that does not develop into the universal interest of Reason in ‘something true in human nature, & independent of circumstances’ (Lects 1808–19, vol. 1, p. 492) – is necessary in order to experience the pleasure of becoming disinterested, yet also interested in ‘immediate circumstances’ for the sake of ‘true Tolerance’ as the goal-behaviour of the relation of the self to others.2 Coleridge believes that an improvement in the mode of applying the idea of Reason to the ‘root in human Nature’ (Lects 1808–19, vol. 1, p. 492) can lead to real action after the self-conscious act of becoming disinterested. Coleridge had already explained Reason, in The Friend in September 1809, as the God-given self-conscious faculty creating its own Ideas, ‘underived from material Nature’, that is, ‘Ideas of Soul, the Free Will, Immortality, and God’ (Friend, vol. 2, pp. 78–9). Then in a notebook entry of 1810, he expressed his thanks to God for the fact that ‘mak[ing] us capable of vicious self-interestedness capacitates us for disinterestedness’ (CN, vol. 3, 4007). Disinterestedness for

On Artistic Disinterestedness


Coleridge around that time meant a sort of divine comfort given to those struggling to bear witness to their religious postulate or belief in a greater power within, influencing and modifying their ‘vicious self-interestedness’ into ‘the unselfishness of Self-love’. In addition, it is characteristic of Coleridge that he admitted the possibility of progress in a form of such self-reflection involving three stages based on religious ‘Hope and Fear’ for the immortality of the soul (CN, vol. 3, 4007). According to ‘Confessio Fidei of S. T. Coleridge’, written in 1810, the first stage of reflection by Reason or Conscience in the process of experiencing disinterested love causes ‘Natural Religion, i.e. the Religion of all finite rational Beings’ (CN, vol. 3, 4005).3 The Conscience as Reason united with moral responsibility forbids us to base our motive of action on ‘the Pains and Pleasures of this Life’ derived from Understanding. Clearly distinguishing the motives of Reason from those of Understanding as the faculty which analyses the things of the Senses in terms of their expediency (LS, p. 21),4 Coleridge declares his preference of the former, which leads him to the second stage of ‘Revealed Religion, my Belief as a Christian’, where he comes to visualize ‘my self in eternity’ (CN, vol. 3, 4007). Reflection on ‘my self in eternity’ motivated by the hope to be redeemed and by the fear of remaining in sinful misery produces ‘Selfishness, which includes of necessity the Selves of all my fellow-creatures’. In other words, such ‘a social & generous self ’, or ‘the Objective Self ’, whose Soul is ‘in bliss’, is thus to be born in the second stage. It comes to generate sympathies for him with closest resemblance to me, through ‘the power of comparing the notion of him & me objectively’ in the light of mutual fear of the selfish ‘Soul in misery’ and religious hopes for the immortality of such Selfishness in ‘the Objective Self ’ as striving with him as myself to become ‘a Soul in bliss’ through ‘the unselfishness of Self-love’ (CN, vol. 3, 4007).5 Then comes ‘the third & most important reflection’ that actually realizes disinterested yet habitual acts of ‘Love & Acts of Loving-kindness’ (CN, vol. 3, 4007). Coleridge regards prayers for ‘him & me’ both struggling in their hope to be redeemed as one of the representative acts of disinterestedness (CN, vol. 3, 4007, 4017). Disinterestedness for Coleridge directs us to open the self to others, to their similar double images as a Soul in misery and in bliss. Such ‘increase of [self-]consciousness’ (LS, p. 89), or gradual yet infinite progress in the mode of self-reflection focusing on ‘the Objective Self ’ and tending ultimately to ‘annihilate [the] self ’ bound by selfishness (CN, vol. 3, 4007), comes from the Reason’s tendency to ‘contemplat[e] particulars in their universal laws’.6 This tendency of Reason was one which Coleridge came to admit as ‘natural and instinctive to men of noble race’ as a source of Religion and as


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

‘the parent and fosterer of the Fine Arts’, ‘GENEROSITY’ and disinterestedness as well (LS, p. 125 and n., pp. 30, 62). Coleridge considered the hope – founded on the knowledge taught in the Bible – to be redeemed from unpleasant selfish feeling (CN, vol. 3, 3803) as a genuine motive for disinterested acts of virtue that produce the Fine Arts. The disinterested artistic experience of the supersensible Whole by means of Reason produces in successive stages the pleasurable ‘increase of consciousness’ of ‘the Objective Self ’. Coleridge recognizes the universal respect for such a feeling of pleasure derived from disinterestedness as the source of truer relationships with other people.

Coleridge on intellectual and conscious perceptions of the beautiful Coleridge read Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals in 1809 (CM, vol. 3, p. 263). In that book, Kant teaches us the importance of ‘cultivating our sensibility’ so as to ‘preserve and promote’ (Guyer, 2000, p. 369) the ‘disinterested and free satisfaction’ we intuitively feel on seeing the beautiful (‘ein uninteressiertes und freies Wohlgefallen’; Kant, 2000, p. 95). According to Kant in Metaphysics of Morals, we have a ‘duty to [ourselves] to develop and increase . . . the natural predispositions and capacities that [our] reason can some day use’ (1996, p. 565). Kant thus admits our potentiality to ‘increase’ our inborn immediate love for the beautiful and the sublime that will be ‘serviceable to morality in one’s relation with other people’ (1996, p. 564). This is because, unlike the agreeable and the good, both of which ‘act on the WILL’ and stimulate our desire to gain the utility of the agreeable or to do morally good things, the beautiful provides us with a moment when, forgetting the desire of our individual will, we experience ‘an immediate and absolute complacency, without intervenience . . . of any interest sensual or intellectual’ (SWF, vol. 1, pp. 378, 380).7 ‘The attainment of every aim’, Kant argues, ‘is combined with the feeling of pleasure’, and the reason we feel ‘an immediate and absolute complacency’ on seeing the beauty of nature is that it fulfils our subjective aim, which has nothing to do with the aim of increasing our theoretical cognition of the beautiful objects of nature nor the desire to actualize the concept of freedom, but is concerned with ‘proceed[ing] in reflection on the objects of nature with the aim of a thoroughly interconnected experience’ of them, while ‘promot[ing] the receptivity of the mind for the moral feeling’ (2000,

On Artistic Disinterestedness


pp. 73, 71, 82). An important point here is that such pleasurable yet disinterested experience of interconnection with nature is built up by, in Coleridge’s term, ‘an intellectual perception’ involving a combination of ‘the more purely organic senses, and of our moral sense’ (Lects 1808–19, vol. 1, p. 37). As Orsini rightly pointed out (1969, pp. 13–14), another of Coleridge’s explanations of the sense of beauty in ‘The Principles of Genial Criticism’ (1814) as ‘simultaneous intuition of the relation of parts, each to each, and of all to a whole’ (SWF, vol. 1, p. 378) came from Plotinus, or more precisely, from Taylor’s translation of Plotinus’s ‘Essay on the Beautiful’ from the First Ennead (1787). Coleridge explains in greater detail why we feel immediate complacency when we see such ‘Unity in Multëity’ (SWF, vol. 1, pp. 352, 369, 372, 377n): first, fulfilment of our immediate wish for ‘the highest impressions of sense’ to grasp the harmony of ‘composition’ or ‘the pre-established harmony between nature & the human mind’ by means of ‘the eye and ear . . . [that] are susceptible of distinction of parts’; second, satisfaction of our wish to apprehend ‘the FREE LIFE’ that envelops and modifies ‘the highest impressions’ of ‘Unity in Multëity’ having been perceived intellectually (SWF, vol. 1, pp. 372–4). Coleridge called the former apprehension of ‘Multëity in Unity’ ‘an intellectual perception’, and the latter ‘our conscious perception’ (SWF, vol. 1, p. 373). The aim of ‘conscious perception’ is to perceive ‘life and spontaneous action’, or discover a similar life to ours in the perceived harmony of an object (SWF, vol. 1, p. 373). The mysterious interrelation of the conflicting principles of the form and the mind, of ‘the effulgence from the whole’ through ‘the confining FORM’, and ‘the effluence of delight’ from the mind as ‘the FREE LIFE’ (SWF, vol. 1, pp. 373, 372, 374) is the ultimate cause of the joy that the poet of ‘Dejection: An Ode’ could not feel in spite of his fervent wish. The poet could not feel the beautiful evening scene as ‘something connatural’ with his heart at the time. Unlike Kant, Coleridge admits the role of ‘the conscious perception’ that holds our reflection in which we give similar ‘FREE LIFE’ to a beautiful object so as to create the joy of receiving it by ‘calling on the soul’ (SWF, vol. 1, p. 383): O lady! We receive but what we give, And in our life alone does nature live! (‘Dejection’, PW, vol. 1, part 2, p. 699, ll. 47–8)

Coleridge, in one of his letters to Humphry Davy, dated 9 September 1807, mentioned the contents of his upcoming lecture series. In it he attributes the source of our pleasures in the fine arts to ‘the antithetical balance-loving nature of man’ (CL, vol. 3, p. 30). This is an original addition by Coleridge to Kant’s idea


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

of our ‘natural predisposition to the good’ implied in the workings of ‘conscious perception’, which elicits ‘the power of giving’ ‘free life’, and enables it to receive the same from the interconnected outside world. Coleridge regarded such ‘power of giving’ as a heavenly gift whereby we can construct a mutually beneficial relationship with others: On man God had not only bestowed gifts but the power of giving: he was not like the creature of a mere created being, that was born but to die he had had faculties communicated to him which were beneficial to others. (Lects 1808–19, vol. 1, p. 192)

Unlike Kant, Coleridge asserts that love is ‘an act of the will’ (CN, vol. 3, 3562; CM, vol. 3, pp. 264–5); however, since disinterestedness is unrelated to our will-power, the ‘antithetical balance-loving nature’ should be represented as ‘minus will’ as well. Its instinctive tendency should be instrumental in the progress of reflection on ‘the Objective Self ’ of ‘Revealed Religion’ as it strives to ‘annihilate self ’ which is bound by the individual will. It reveals the self as being acted on by the other or the beautiful, as if the self were ‘with no will, or minus will’. Such increase in the awareness of aesthetic self as ‘minus will’ came to be described as the role of conscience by Coleridge in his ‘Essay on Faith’ in 1820. Coleridge in that essay explains that conscience supports ‘the act of knowing myself as acted on by . . . something’ (SWF, vol. 2, p. 837). Reflection by Reason or Conscience as ‘the superindividual of each man’ that develops into the second stage of ‘Revealed Religion, my Belief as a Christian’, demonstrates my religious intuitive ‘self in eternity’ as ‘ – [minus] will’ representing the self in relation to religious beliefs (SWF, vol. 2, p. 838). ‘The power of giving’ life in ‘the conscious perception’ directs our disinterestedness to the peaceful image of the self in ‘the act of knowing myself as acted on’ by my neighbours: Great Privilege of pure Religion! by directing Self-love to our self under those relations, in which alone it is worthy of our anxiety, it annihilates Self, as a notion of diversity – Extremes meet – (CN, vol. 3, 4007)

Religious annihilation of self requires the aesthetic ‘conscious perception’ of ‘the superindividual of each man’, an image of the self in ‘an act of passiveness’ (SWF, vol. 2, p. 836) so as to create an image of the self ‘minus will’ delighted at its relations with others. Similar images of the self ‘minus will’ striving to achieve enlightenment with fellow beings are also evoked by Schopenhauer and Kūkai.

On Artistic Disinterestedness


Schopenhauer and Buddhism Schopenhauer in the third book of The World as Will and Representation discovers traits common among those Christians, Hindus and Buddhists ‘who have overcome the world, those in whom the will, achieving full self-cognition rediscovers itself in everything and then freely negates itself ’ (2010, p. 438).8 Schopenhauer lays special stress on the aesthetic ‘power of giving’ expression to ‘that profound tranquillity’, or in other words, ‘the inner, immediate, intuitive cognition from which all virtue and holiness spring’, that religious believers come to experience on abolishing their ‘will to life’ that creates ‘incurable suffering and endless misery’ in this world (2010, pp. 409, 439). According to Schopenhauer’s pessimism, ‘our will to life’ (‘Wille zum Leben’)9 as the source of egoism is ‘simply the affirmation of one’s own body’ (2010, p. 360) aiming at instinctive sexual satisfaction so as to reproduce life; hence ‘our will to life’ as such does not ‘presuppose the rationality associated traditionally with the human (and the divine) will’ (Janaway, 1999, p. 7). Schopenhauer adds that ‘the world melting away with the abolition of the will, leav[es] only empty nothing before us.’ Here the point made by Schopenhauer is that ‘empty nothing’ can be experienced positively, not negatively, ‘when regarded from a higher standpoint or subsumed under a broader concept’ (2010, p. 436) as was done by the saints. Our gradual way of becoming conscious of our will to experience ‘nothing’ can be interpreted positively when we learn to look at that ‘nothing’ freely from the opposite perspective. This is because ‘nothing’ for Schopenhauer means ‘a relative nothing’, not ‘an absolute nothing’ because he adapts Kant’s idea of the nihil privativum, which is indicated by a ‘–’ in contrast to a ‘+’, where the ‘–’ can be made into a ‘+’ by looking at things from the opposite perspective. (2010, p. 436)10

The idea of the nihil privativum presupposes our ‘antithetical balance-loving nature’ that provides us with a chance of placing ourselves in the opposite point of view and then at some higher central point in order to grasp ‘particulars in their universal laws’, as a result of which, in Coleridge’s viewpoint, artistic disinterestedness is triggered. Schopenhauer’s understanding of nirvana as ‘the nihil privativum’, and specifically as ‘a state in which four things are lacking: birth, ageing, sickness and death’ (2010, p. 383), is one of the theories that bring about a shift in his idea of the ‘thing-in-itself ’ – namely that it ‘has other aspects’


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

than ‘will to life’, and ‘is the object of awareness of saints, mystics and those who have denied the will’ (Nicholls, 1999, p. 196). Schopenhauer optimistically argues that an exceptional case occurs for some people when ‘some occasion from the outside or a disposition from within suddenly lifts [them] out of the endless stream of willing, tearing cognition from its slavery to the will’, which leads them to the disinterestedness of ‘grasp[ing] things freed from their relation to the will’ (2010, p. 220). He illustrates by quoting lines from Byron the pleasure of the increase in self-cognition they finally experience when they, ‘forgetting all individuality’, are raised into ‘the pure subject of will-less cognition’ of the Platonic Idea and ‘los[e them]selves in the object’ or ‘draw nature into [them]selves’ (Schopenhauer, 2010, pp. 220, 204): Are not the mountains, waves and skies, a part Of me and of my soul, as I of them? (Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, III, ll. 707–8 as quoted in Schopenhauer, 2010, p. 204)

Schopenhauer notes that the pleasure we feel at the sight of the beautiful is related to the awareness of the self ‘not as an individual, but as pure, will-less’ self coming to attain a cognition of nature ‘not as a particular thing but rather as a Platonic Idea’ (2010, p. 219). Accordingly, there arises a ‘dual account of the self ’ as the self with instinctive ‘will to life’ or with disinterested aesthetic volition (Zöller, 1999, p. 28). The latter struggles for ‘the voluntary renunciation of the satisfaction of this drive [of “the will to life”], when that renunciation is not grounded in any motives at all’ (Schopenhauer, 2010, p, 360). In Schopenhauer’s words, this is ‘the free self-abolition’ of ‘the will to life’ through the emergence of cognition operating as ‘a tranquillizer’ [Quietiv] of all egoistic ‘will to life’ (2010, p. 259; see also pp. 280, 311, 410). Then Schopenhauer begins his discussion of his practical philosophy – that is, of our moral actions as being made possible only after we come to focus on ‘the aesthetic pleasure in the beautiful’ (2010, p. 417) as a subsequent reaction to an aesthetic ‘conscious perception’ of ‘I in eternity’ resembling that described by Coleridge. Such a self, transcending or abandoning its preoccupation with the principium individuationis (Schopenhauer, 2010, p. 390), makes us ‘capable of love, i.e., of compassion [Mitleiden] for other people’, as such ‘pure, i.e. unselfish love of others’ is based on the cognition of other people’s suffering as being the same as our own (pp. 401–3).11 Schopenhauer identified compassion with ‘the nature of pure love (αγαπη, caritas)’ (2010, p. 402). When Coleridge asked in 1803 against Kant’s concept of duty, ‘will not a pure will generate a feeling of Sympathy

On Artistic Disinterestedness


. . . ?’, the ‘pure will’ representing ‘Man’s double Nature’ which ‘appears, as Man & God’ is almost the same as the one stressed by Schopenhauer as the aesthetic volition of ‘pure, will-less’ self (CN, vol. 1, 1710, 1705). Schopenhauer therefore argues against Kant’s abstract concept of duty as the categorical imperative that disregards any ‘feeling of compassion as a weakness’ (2010 p. 402). As J. J. Clarke (1997, p. 68) mentions, both Schopenhauer and Buddhism put compassion, ‘fellow feeling for other sentient beings’, resting on the intuition of our undifferentiability from each other, at the centre of our moral life. Now we can add Coleridge’s theory to this similarity between Schopenhauer and Buddhism (i.e. of all schools of Buddhism, and especially Kūkai’s Esoteric Buddhism), as he also respects our power of ‘conscious perception’ that enables us to visualize ‘the superindividual of each man’, a pleasurable aesthetic vision of ‘all things at once different and the same’ (Lects 1808–19, vol. 1, p. 84).

Kūkai’s Esoteric Buddhism and Coleridge’s ‘conscious perception’ In 806, Kōbō Daishi12 Kūkai came back from his study of Esoteric Buddhism in China, bearing the title of the successor to Hui-kuo, the eighth Shingon Buddhism patriarch. He founded Japanese Shingon Esoteric Buddhism and the monastic centre on Mt Kōya mainly for two reasons: to ‘pacify and defend the nation’ and to enable individuals to believe in the possibility of ‘attaining enlightenment in this very existence’ or in this ‘body-mind-being’ (sokushin jōbutsu) without ‘waiting for rebirth in this or in another world’ (Kūkai, 1972, pp. 6, 77). With its characteristic emphasis on the salvation of an individual person, Kūkai’s Shingon Buddhism belongs to Mahāyāna Buddhism, but its unique emphasis on the possibility of our immediate salvation or great spiritual rebirth here and now through religious rituals clearly separates it from all other schools of Buddhism. This concept of ‘sokushin jōbutsu’ indicates Kūkai’s positive belief in this phenomenal world as a place to experience enlightenment, and in our potentiality for the intuitive apprehension of ‘the originally enlightened nature of [the self] through the veils of evil karma’ (1972, p. 7).13 Kūkai, in the first of two four-line odes in Attaining Enlightenment in This Very Existence (Sokushin jōbutsu gi, written in 819), elucidates the aesthetic consciousness of the self at the time of ‘sokushin jōbutsu’. The following image of individuals as parts being acted upon by and absorbed into the mysterious


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

grace of the Dharmakaya Buddha14 as the whole signifies a process resembling Coleridgean ‘conscious perception’ at work: The Six Great Elements are interfused and are in a state of eternal harmony; The Four Mandalas are inseparably related to one another: When the grace of the Three Mysteries is retained, [our inborn three mysteries       will] quickly be manifested. Infinitely interrelated like the meshes of Indra’s net are those which we call    existences. (Kūkai’s summary of ‘sokushin jōbutsu’ in verse, 1–4, in Kūkai, 1972, p. 227)

‘Existences’ in the last line as an ‘aesthetic’ and ‘extremely affirmative’ vision (Kūkai, 1972, p. 93) of ‘the self absorbed in the Dharmakaya Buddha’ and ‘the Dharmakaya Buddha absorbed in the self ’ can be revealed as a part of ‘The Four Mandalas’15 through the supernatural power raised from ‘the Three Mysteries’ felt during the esoteric rituals of prayers offered physically, verbally and mentally. The most secret of our ‘Existences’ as such are beyond words. ‘The Six Great Elements’ interfusing in ‘a state of eternal harmony’ are ‘earth, water, fire, wind, space, and consciousness’ (Kūkai, 1972, p. 228). Kūkai explains such an enlightened consciousness, saying, ‘Differences exist between matter and mind, but in their essential nature they remain the same. . . . Without any obstruction, they are interrelated. The subject is the object; the object, the subject’ (Attaining Enlightenment, in Kūkai, 1972, p. 229). In addition, Kūkai also quoted from The Mahāvairocana Sutra to depict the nature of our real existence: ‘Without forsaking his body, he obtains supernatural power, wanders on the ground of great space, and perfects the Mystery of Body’ (quoted in Kūkai, 1972, p. 226). Here the point made by Kūkai is that without ‘freeing ourselves from the subordination of the body to the environment’ (Kanaoka, in Kūkai, 1985, p. 216, translation mine), or without forgetting the ‘will to life’ as the principium individuationis described by Schopenhauer, or – to put it in a Coleridgean way – without forgetting motives produced by the mere understanding of phenomena ‘respecting the probable consequences of actions’ (LS, p. 21), we, as creatures of flesh wrapped in mystery, cannot ‘receive’ and retain the Light of Mahāvairocana shining through ‘The Four Mandalas’. These ‘Four Mandalas’ represent Mahāvairocana seen from four different viewpoints. They are Mahā-mandala, depicting the buddhas  – deities as the extension of Mahāvairocana; Samaya-mandala, describing deities’ intention through the symbolic expression of the ritual implements they hold and their

On Artistic Disinterestedness


mudras (symbolic or ritual gestures); Dharma-mandala, representing the communication from deities through Sanskrit words; and Karma-mandala, showing actions of deities in three dimensions. The features of these painted mandalas are spaciousness, pluralism, harmony, centripetal action of the deities towards Mahāvairocana at the centre, centrifugal flow of the power of Mahāvairocana to the deities in outer circles and a wholeness consisting of parts (Yoritomi, 2007, p. 89). Among these four mandalas, the so-called Two Worlds mandalas of Mahā-mandala are often displayed on the eastern and western walls of temple ritual halls while esoteric rituals are undertaken, as significant means of inviting people to the vision of mysterious unison with the Dharma. In ‘Sai-in-bon Taizōkai Mandala’ (‘Mandala of the Womb Realm’), the 409 buddhas and deities depicted represent the process whereby the wisdom and compassion of Mahāvairocana is realized in actual society. Mahāvairocana at the centre symbolizes universal aspiration for Buddhahood in our consciousness as the seed, which is to take root in and be fostered by ‘the power of giving’ great compassion to the whole creation in Mahāvairocana.16 Great Compassion to save people from suffering is symbolized by eight deities (four Tathagatas and four Bodhisattvas) around Mahāvairocana at the centre. Their altruistic selfless will to save people bears fruit as universal benevolence (Niimi, 2011, p. 120). Our inherent potential to attain enlightenment that will contribute to engage in relief activities for the distressed is to be awakened and nurtured until each person is completed as a foetus in the womb. ‘Mandala of the Womb Realm’ is based on the teachings of Mahāvairocana Sutra, while Kongōkai or ‘Mandala of the Diamond Realm’ is based on Vajrasekhara Sutra. Unlike ‘Mandala of the Womb Realm’, the same buddhas and deities appear transforming themselves in ‘Mandala of the Diamond Realm’, which consists of nine sections symbolizing the compassion of Mahāvairocana revealed in different forms and degrees. Amazingly enough, 1,061 buddhas and deities are depicted just in the central part called ‘Jou jin ne’, symbolizing nirvana, in ‘Sai-in-bon Mandala of the Diamond Realm’ (Niimi, 2011, pp. 133–4). The dynamic flow of compassion towards others that can be as steadfast as the diamond is embodied in two ways in downward and upward flows: teachings from Buddha and Bodhisattvas in ‘Jou jin ne’ down to sentient beings (clockwise flow from the centre down to the lower right section), and the people’s wishes to be enlightened that raise them to the union with Bodhisattvas, Buddhas and finally to Mahāvairocana (from the lower right to the centre in a counterclockwise direction).


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

Figure 9.1  Taizōkai [Womb Realm] Mandala. (National Treasure: Mahā-mandala) A pair of Ryōgai [Two Worlds] Mandalas (Sai-in-bon Mandala) owned by Tōji Temple, Kyoto, Japan. Early Heian Period, ninth century, the oldest existing coloured mandalas on silk in Japan.

The ‘Three Mysteries’ in the poem above are ‘the mysteries of body, speech, and mind’ when each ‘makes mudras, recites mantras, and allows his mind to abide in the state of samadhi’, ‘the all-embracing wisdom’ of Mahāvairocana, so as to become able to ‘benefit limitless [numbers of] sentient beings’ (Kūkai, 1972, p. 231). However, this requires ‘the great compassion that pours forth unconditionally’ and faith on the part of sentient beings (Kūkai, 1972, p. 231) and the self-awareness of the dynamic powers of giving and receiving based on a compassionate spirit of mutual aid. The simile of ‘the meshes of Indra’s net’, the net thought to be covering the celestial palace of Indra, expresses the

On Artistic Disinterestedness


Figure 9.2  Kongōkai [Diamond] Mandala. (National Treasure: Mahā-mandala) A pair of Ryōgai [Two Worlds] Mandalas (Sai-in-bon Mandala) owned by Tōji Temple, Kyoto, Japan. Early Heian Period, ninth century, the oldest existing coloured mandalas on silk in Japan.

interdependence between the sentient beings as parts of the whole who are caught in and fostered under the net symbolizing the compassionate love of Mahāvairocana as the whole. The joy of becoming a part of, not a static abstract image of ‘Unity in Multëity’, but of the holy space of dynamic beings motivated by the compassion of Mahāvairocana to seek for better relations with fellow creatures is embodied in the verse by Kūkai. To acquire the aesthetic, disinterested act of feeling myself as acted on by the greater sympathetic power by means of ‘the conscious perception’ of ‘the self harmonized with all creatures’ is regarded as the pleasurable aim of


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

religion both by Coleridge and by esoteric Buddhism. Kūkai’s Japanese Esoteric Buddhism persuades us to believe in and meditate on our potentiality for experiencing the higher self, freely enjoying the psychophysical interrelationship among all creatures in the universe. Kūkai’s characteristic aesthetic vision of the self ‘with a big window open to the outside world from which every thing in the universe pours into it’ (Umehara, 1980, p. 67, translation mine) comes only after our conscious efforts at the first stage to be disinterested with regard to the worldly desires of the man of mere understanding. In a similar way to Coleridge and Schopenhauer, Kūkai admits an increase of self-cognition in the course of attaining Enlightenment. For instance, in The Ten Stages of the Development of Mind (Juujuu shin ron, written in 830) and The Precious Key to the Secret Treasury (Hizou houyaku, written in 830), Kūkai allotted the lowest state of the mind that ‘thinks only of lust and hunger like a goat’ (The Precious Key, Kūkai, 1972, p. 163) to the first of ten stages in its approach to the joy of being enlightened. According to Kūkai, a Confucianist reaches the second stage, and the mind of Hinduism and Taoism reaches the third. He regards the hope for rebirth and immortality as of greater importance than being strict in morals, but criticizes it saying that the wish for rebirth and immortality is basically egoistic (Kūkai, 1972, p. 69). Then ‘the Mahayana Mind with Sympathetic Concern for Others’ comes in the sixth stage. Unconditional overflow of compassion is realized, and from this level of development of the Shingon mind derives the aesthetic experience of apprehending ‘unity in diversity’, ‘the samadhi of voidness’ ‘manifesting itself through phenomena’ (Kūkai, 1972, p. 72). Though it is the ‘voidness’ of the Kantian ‘nihil privativum’, not the Love of God the Redeemer personified, that is grasped as the Unity, Kūkai, like Coleridge and Kant, admits the aesthetic, subjective, but universal joy of visualizing the principle of the universe from a higher viewpoint. And this mysterious experience of the disinterested pleasurable feeling of samadhi is physically, verbally and mentally instrumental in our development into the next, eighth, stage of ‘the mind that is truly in harmony with the One Way’ (Kūkai, 1972, pp. 72–3). Next, ‘the profoundest exoteric Buddhist mind that is aware of its nonimmutable nature’ constitutes the ninth stage, whose representative school is Huayan (kegon) Buddhism. Then the Shingon saint must proceed to the final, tenth, stage of ‘open[ing] the Treasury’ of our mind by ‘receiving revelation’ and exchanging ‘words of truth’ (shingon) with the Dharmakaya Buddha (The Precious Key, Kūkai, 1972, p. 164). By having the Mind of Mahāvairocana revealed to us, we come to discover the most secret truth that our body–mind in its essence is part of the Body–Mind of Mahāvairocana.

On Artistic Disinterestedness


There are some parallels between Coleridge and Kūkai in that they explore a creative aesthetic condition in which, if the aims of one person cannot be achieved alone, ‘the unthought-of consciousness’ of silent sympathies from and towards others motivates that person to gain ‘true Tolerance’. For instance, Coleridge appreciates Shakespeare’s description of Hamlet waiting for the entry of the Ghost: The co-presence of Horatio, Marcellus and Bernardo is most judiciously contrived – for it renders the courage of Hamlet and his impetuous eloquence perfectly intelligible. The knowle[d]ge, the unthought-of consciousness, the Sensation, of human Auditors, of Flesh and Blood Sympathists, acts as a support, a stimulation a tergo, while the front of the Mind, the whole Consciousness of the Speaker, is filled by the solemn Apparition. (Lects 1808–19, vol. 2, p. 299)

At least for Coleridge, Schopenhauer and Kūkai, the potentiality of our unconscious volition to transcend our own individual will, or Schopenhauer’s ‘will to life’ that displaces us from the joy of creating interrelations with others based on disinterested feelings of compassion, implies our potentiality to forget untenable selfish ideologies. Coleridge in Aids to Reflection referred to ‘the religious Atheism of the Buddhists! with whom God is only universal Matter considered abstractedly from all particular forms’ (AR, p. 283). However, his view of Buddhism might have been different, had he come across the mysterious conception of sokushin jōbutsu, as, of all schools of Buddhism, only Kūkai’s Shingon Esoteric Buddhism presents the immediate purely joyous coalescence in mantras of the followers with the universe, reflecting words of truth overflowing from the Dharmakaya Mahāvairocana.

Notes 1 On disinterestedness and taste in modern aesthetics, see Guyer (2003, 2005) and Price (2009, esp. pp. 75–82). For discussions of the relation between Coleridge and German thinkers regarding taste, see Orsini (1969, esp. pp 12–15) and Paley (2008, esp. pp. 212–13). 2 Shaffer (1969, p. 407) writes that regarding aesthetic experience, Coleridge was concerned with ‘the exact mechanism by which subjective modifications could be introduced into the outside world and reexperienced as located there’. So



4 5 6 7


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient ‘Tolerance’ for Coleridge means a pleasurable experience of the self bringing about better relations with others here and now. Regarding Coleridge’s interest in the ‘higher criticism’, at the end of the 1790s, and how that movement gave increased attention to the theory of a common ‘mythological milieu’ which brought forth Christianity and other oriental religions, see Shaffer (1975, esp. pp. 53–61). See also Friend (vol. 1, p. 500). See also LS (p. 90) for the sympathy produced by the knowledge taught in the Bible. Coleridge called this tendency of Reason ‘religious instinct’ in Friend (vol. 1, p. 497). As pointed out in CN (vol. 3, 3584n), Coleridge followed Kant’s distinction between the agreeable, the beautiful and the good in Critique of Judgment (Kant, 2000, pp. 95–6). Hardy in A Manual of Buddhism, first published in 1853 (2003, p. 36), refers to the Buddhists’ fundamental belief in ‘the self in everything’:

 As all the systems of worlds are homogeneous, so are the orders of being by whom they are inhabited; the various distinctions that are now presented being only of temporary duration.  However, as Nicholls notes (1999, p. 188), Schopenhauer’s reading of Hardy’s works on Buddhism, which were not published until 1850, could only have influenced the third edition of The World as Will and Representation, published in 1859 just before his death. 9 Regarding the reason why the term ‘Wille zum Leben’, so often translated as ‘will to live’ should rather be translated as ‘will to life’, see Janaway (1999, pp. 8–9). 10 Kant (1998, p. 382) writes (in Critique of Pure Reason, A 291–2), ‘Reality is something, negation is nothing, namely, a concept of the absence of an object, such as a shadow or cold (nihil privativum)’. Nihil privativum means ‘a privative nothing, i.e., a condition consisting solely in the absence of something else’ (Kant, 1998, p. 382n). 11 See LS (p. 90) where Coleridge refers to the similar power of our apprehending the similitudes throughout the creation. This power of having sympathy ‘with all creation in its groans to be redeemed’ is what we acquire only after transcending the individual will and when ‘for itself it hath ceased to be’. 12 Kōbō Daishi is an honorary title given posthumously by Emperor Daigo in the Heian period. ‘Kōbō’ means to spread teachings widely, and ‘Daishi’ a great teacher. 13 This optimism of Mahāyāna Buddhism went along with Shinto, the basically optimistic, indigenous religion of Japan which originated in the worship of natural beauty. As for the spread of Buddhism in Japan, and its relation with Zen Buddhism, see Harvey (1990, pp. 161–9).

On Artistic Disinterestedness


14 Kūkai refers to the difference between the Dharmakaya and the Nirmanakaya Buddha in The Difference between Exoteric and Esoteric Buddhism (Benkenmitsu nikyō ron, written in 815). Exoteric Buddhism is the doctrine revealed by the Nirmanakaya Buddha (Shakyamuni Buddha) as the historical Buddha, so the goal of the follower is not to become a Buddha but to be an arhat, a saint who achieves nirvana by striving to imitate Shakyamuni as the only Buddha in the world. On the other hand, Esoteric Buddhism is the doctrine illustrated by the Dharmakaya Buddha (Mahāvairocana) as ‘the Body of Principle’; the Dharma is ‘beyond speech’, representing immanent, immutable truth and the transcendent law of the universe, so Dharmakaya Mahāvairocana (Hosshin Dainichi) as the light of the sun cannot be ‘identified with any Buddha’ (Kūkai, 1972, pp. 84n, 86, 145; Kato, 2002, pp. 8–9). 15 Etymologically speaking, the Sanskrit mandala ‘indicates the space that “possesses (la) essence (manda)”’, that is, ‘the holy space’ deep down in our hearts which are ‘blessed by the Buddha’s wisdom and mercy’ (Yoritomi, 2007, p. 88; Foreword). Kūkai brought back some mandalas from China because the profound teachings of the Esoteric Buddhism that are beyond speech should be revealed through the paintings. 16 In this ‘Womb Realm Mandala’, even the gods of the ancient Mesopotamian civilization transmitted to India through Greece and Egypt are also guarding its most exterior band (Niimi, 2011, p. 131).


The Integral Significance of the 1816 Preface to ‘Kubla Khan’ Heidi Thomson

Twentieth-century scholars of ‘Kubla Khan’ learnt much from John Livingston Lowes’ seminal study of Coleridge’s myriad sources of inspiration and from Elizabeth Schneider’s study of the connections between Coleridge, opium and ‘Kubla Khan’. More recently, Nigel Leask, Tim Fulford and Peter Kitson have elaborated on Britain’s complex contextual relationships with the Orient. Their readings have situated ‘Kubla Khan’ in a range of relevant contexts, both on a national and on a global scale, in which the importance of early travel narratives, the Napoleonic Wars and the emergence of the British empire figure prominently. Coleridge’s own connection with the Orient goes well beyond his much discussed opium addiction: it had a familial and a literary dimension as well. On a personal level the Orient became associated with a threat of deadly destruction which he was powerless to avert. Coleridge himself never spent time in the Orient, but a number of his close contemporaries, including brothers and friends, did. Coleridge’s relationship with his brother Francis, who was closest in age to him, was stormy and volatile, and in his autobiographical 1797 letter to Thomas Poole, many years after the event, Coleridge describes himself going for Frank with a kitchen knife in a dispute over a piece of cheese (CL, vol. 1, p. 353). The violence and the intense feeling of the incident must have haunted him when only a couple of years later Frank joined the navy’s convoy for Bengal as a midshipman at the age of 12 in 1781, because this departure for a dangerous sea voyage became associated with a defining family death. Their elderly father John saw Frank off in Plymouth, returned via Exeter where he ‘dreamt that Death had appeared to him, as he is commonly painted, & touched him with his Dart’ (CL, vol. 1, p. 355). The next day John Coleridge’s dream proved


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

prophetic and he died, after being briefly unwell, at home. Frank cut a dashing figure in the Indian army for eight years but after being wounded in 1792 he shot himself in a delirious fever (Holmes, 1989, p. 23). Both his father’s death and Frank’s suicide have an association with the Orient, and so does the drowning of Captain John Wordsworth, William’s brother, in the shipwreck of the East Indiaman, the Earl of Abergavenny, bound for China, in February 1805 (Gill, 1989, pp. 239–40; Holmes, 1998, pp. 39–40). Coleridge found out about John’s death while he was a government official during the Napoleonic wars in Malta, a site of self-imposed exile with oriental connotations (in the Maltese language and the connection with the Ottoman empire) as well. In Malta, his physical distance, and the concomitant sense of loneliness, from Britain was exacerbated by his increasingly fraught relationship with the Wordsworths. His frustration about his passion for Sara Hutchinson, the exclusive focus of the Wordsworth women on William, and his own failure to command and direct Wordsworth’s poetic genius in the channels he had imagined for him haunted him intensely. All of these tensions about assertion of authority, poetic genius and the wish for a spellbound audience already reverberate throughout ‘Kubla Khan’. The notion of dreaming, associated with his father’s death referred to above in the wake of Frank’s departure for the Orient, is also curiously associated with Coleridge’s characterization of himself as a reader in the 1797 biographical letters to Thomas Poole. Coleridge first mentions his ambivalent fascination with the stories of the Arabian Nights, the framing portal for so many of his contemporaries into the Orient, in the context of a rare antagonistic portrayal of his adored father. His reading of the tales at the age of 6, in the presence of his mother who was mending socks, had such an effect on him that he felt ‘haunted by spectres’ in the dark: I distinctly remember the anxious & fearful eagerness, with which I used to watch the window, in which the books lay – & whenever the Sun lay upon them, I would seize it, carry it by the wall, & bask, & read  –. My Father found out the effect, which these books had produced – and burnt them. – So I became a dreamer. (CL, vol. 1, p. 347)

There is an irony in John Coleridge’s punitive book burning, a very drastic measure, incidentally, for getting rid of what was at the time a costly possession. His intention of squashing the dreams these tales triggered in his son’s imagination strangely reverberates in John’s own dream three years later prophesying his own death. This incident did not prevent Coleridge from having

Significance of the 1816 Preface to ‘Kubla Khan’


a lifelong fascination with oriental tales, a fascination which was shared by contemporaries and with friends. Robert Southey in particular drew extensively on Eastern tales for his own writing, including the epic Thalaba (Fulford, 2008, p. 227). There are many references to oriental books (religious, historical and fictional) in Ralph Coffman’s catalogue of Coleridge’s Library, and Coleridge’s impressive knowledge of the oriental tale in particular has been discussed by John Beer, Allan Grant and Tim Fulford in considerable detail. My own reading builds most specifically on the work of John Beer who first analysed the poem with reference to the notions of commanding and absolute genius in Coleridge the Visionary (Beer, 1959, pp. 223–53). Beer revisits ‘Kubla Khan’ in Coleridge’s Poetic Intelligence by explaining how the commanding genius, unlike the man of absolute genius, loses touch with his primary consciousness, and how this ‘is also the basic argument to be traced within the stanzas of “Kubla Khan”’ (1959, p. 116). He recognizes how the transition from Kubla’s ill-fated decree, and nature’s concomitant rebellious response to tyranny, to the poet’s desire for a revival of the Abyssinian maid’s symphony and song within himself has something to do with a shift from commanding to absolute genius (Beer, 1959, p. 117). In addition to this, I wish to emphasize the integral significance of the 1816 preface for Beer’s argument. The authority within the stories of the verse part of ‘Kubla Khan’ depends on the ongoing vigilance of the individual who exerts the authority. The addition of the 1816 preface, with its account of the genesis and intended publication of the poem, asserts an authority of a different kind. While the individual potentate or artist within the verse cannot exert his oral authority beyond the circles of his own immediate context, the author who releases his text into the wider world of print offers a ‘psychological curiosity’ to present and future readers. The readers’ anticipated state of awe in response to this ‘psychological curiosity’ is not dependent on the physical presence of the poet himself, but it unites the reader with the poet by echoing, to some extent, the poet’s own reading experience which underlies, as explained in the preface, the genesis of the verse. An illustrative anecdote about the presiding Kubla-like commanding genius of Coleridge’s era, Napoleon Bonaparte, provides a starting point for my argument about commanding and absolute genius. For both Coleridge and Napoleon, 1815 was a very busy year. Coleridge was editing and organizing his poems for publication in Sibylline Leaves, he was working on the projected publication of Biographia Literaria in which he had developed his ideas about commanding and absolute genius in chapter two, and he was corresponding with Byron about the


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

possible publication of Christabel and ‘Kubla Khan’. Napoleon was not sitting on his hands either. In February 1815 he famously escaped from Elba, and in June he was defeated at Waterloo and promptly packed off to exile on Saint-Helena, a remote speck in the South Atlantic, where, according to The Times of 8 December 1815, he arrived in September clutching a telescope which gave immediate rise to suspicions about his next escape (‘Buonaparte’s Arrival’ 1815). Maybe the telescope was confiscated and Napoleon encouraged to turn his vision inward rather than outward – a view also suggested by a recent newspaper article entitled ‘Napoleon’s mind wasn’t on lessons’ (2011). Some ink-stained notebook fragments which detail Napoleon’s efforts to learn English during his final exile had been put up for sale by the Paris-based auction house Osenat and ended up fetching more than €90,000. After waging war for decades against the English, Napoleon decided to make the most of his imprisoned state by learning the language of the enemy. His teacher was an exiled French count, and by the evidence of his notebooks Napoleon’s mind was indeed somewhere else. He spent his time doodling circular walls and military fortifications alongside his exercises. I like to think that Coleridge would have been fascinated by this scene: the embodiment of commanding genius, who had terrorized many nations for decades, now bored and defeated, dabbling ineffectively in the language of the enemy, as if belated linguistic command could somehow reverse the crushing humiliation of far-flung exile in the South Atlantic. And yet, Napoleon’s commanding genius still released itself in the circular images of military strategy: walls and fortifications which delineate interior and exterior, which protect against the enemy, which frame or contain the realm and vision. Like Kubla Khan who decreed a girdle around ‘twice five miles of fertile ground / With walls and towers’ (ll. 6–7), Napoleon’s circles turned out to be no match for larger forces. There is an irony in doodling circular fortifications when one is imprisoned within a small circle, a tiny island with the oceans all around. Napoleon’s marginalia, those circular doodles of his by now thwarted ambitions around his English exercises act as kind of paratext in that they influence our reading of his attempts to learn English. Coleridge uses circularity to rather better effect in ‘Kubla Khan’, and with the addition of the 1816 preface he encircles the verse with an enchanting, media-savvy, commanding message of his own absolute genius to potential readers. If we think of ‘Kubla Khan’ in circular terms, we can see the overlapping stories of Kubla and the visionary poet in the verse part of the text take on the shape of two interconnecting circles, very much like the ones described in the ‘Prospectus and Specimen of a Translation of Euclid’ (PW, vol. 1, part 1, pp. 33–8) which Coleridge had included in a 1791 letter to his brother George (CL, vol. 1, pp. 7–9).

Significance of the 1816 Preface to ‘Kubla Khan’


The equilateral triangle embedded in the overlapping circles accommodates, loosely, the ‘dome in air’ which in the shape of shadow or air floats over both narratives. The preface adds a third interconnecting circle to this configuration. Its narrative has parallel ingredients to the two verse narratives which reinforce an affirmative integral reading of the verse, and despite the various disclaimers of fragmentation, or perhaps precisely because of them, the preface contributes to, even ensures the unity and coherence of the text as a whole. The evocation of wished for poetic genius at the end of the poem in the wake of the dissolution of Kubla’s commanding genius is prefigured in the authorial genius of the preface. The suggestion of a phantom text, through the reference to fragmentation, draws attention to the unified coherence of a text which accommodates not only the individuality of three narratives, but also a dynamic between them which is not merely linear or cumulative. The effect of accommodating circles within a swelling, sinuously supple outline is, not surprisingly, not too unlike Coleridge’s recommendation for domestic happiness which celebrates individuality within a framework of companionable love. In his essay on ‘Individuality’ Coleridge writes: To the eye of the World your Establishment may appear a concentric Circle –  with many circumferential lines but only one center. But in itself it must be a . . . close neighborhood of centers within a swelling outline formed by the segments of the other circles. And the scheme then only promises success, when room is allowed for every point to have a small circumference of its own, so that the contraction to which each must consent in order to give space for the others, shall yet in no instance bring the circumferential line so close to the center for any radii to be describable in the interspaces. (SWF, vol. 2, pp. 1336–8)1

Coleridge’s rhetorical strategy with the 1816 preface falls under the larger heading of ‘paratextuality’. Gérard Genette’s definition of ‘paratextuality’ refers to ‘those liminal devices and conventions, both within the book (peritext) and outside it (epitext), that mediate the book to the reader’ (p. xviii). Those devices and conventions include titles, prefaces, dedications, epigraphs and epilogues. Paratextuality looms very large indeed in Coleridge’s renewed engagement with and repackaging of his earlier poetry in the 1815–17 period because of the intense engagement with various publication projects (Sibylline Leaves; Biographia Literaria; Christabel, ‘Kubla Khan’ and ‘The Pains of Sleep’). Furthermore, this publication-oriented re-engagement with his poetry came after a decade of domestic difficulties which had seen the alienation from his own family, the Wordsworth family and Sara Hutchinson in addition to the descent into


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

full-fledged opium addiction. The intense re-encounter with his work testifies to yet another heroic attempt to pull his life together and to assert his creative authority against perceived accusations of sloth and negligence. All of this would have reawakened considerable emotional pain, and some of that turmoil is visible in the editorial changes and additions of his revisited texts. In many of these revisions, arrangements and presentations of his poems, Coleridge incorporates his ideas about poetic genius and its relationship to an audience, and in the case of ‘Kubla Khan’ the relationship revolves around staging the compatibility of a listening audience and a reading audience. A study of Coleridge and paratextuality, building on the work of Paul Magnuson, Heather Jackson and Jack Stillinger in particular, would be a worthwhile endeavour, because, with the exception of Peter Schwenger, very little critical (as opposed to editorial) work on Coleridge and paratextuality has been done. In the case of ‘Kubla Khan’, Coleridge blurs the boundaries between the paratextual and the textual by staging, in an explanatory, paratextual preface about the genesis of his so-called fragment of Kubla Khan, a textual, authorial assertion of a poetic authority which he denies to himself in the conditional final verse paragraph. The first extant version of the poem, dating from 1797 or 1798, the Crewe manuscript holograph in the British Library, has no heading and features a brief explanatory prose note at the end: This fragment with a good deal more, not recoverable, composed, in a sort of Reverie brought on by two grains of Opium, taken to check a dysentery, at a Farm House between Porlock & Linton, a quarter of a mile from Culbone Church, in the fall of the year, 1797. – S. T. Coleridge (Stillinger, 1994, p. 74)

The first printed text of 1816, however, offers a multilayered, intriguing title, ‘Kubla Khan: or A Vision in a Dream’, followed by a remarkable preface which is preceded by the indication ‘Of the Fragment of Kubla Khan’. The ambiguity of the title already introduces various connections with the verse. Does the colon which separates the two components of the title serve as a divider or as a clarification? Is this poem about Kubla Khan and about A Vision in a Dream, a division which seems to balance both sections of the verse? Or do we have a poem entitled ‘Kubla Khan’ which happens to consist of the author’s vision within a dream, as the preface tells us? Or do we have both? The mystery deepens when this elaborate, combined title is followed by the indication that we are about to read a ‘fragment’, something incomplete and thereby an open invitation to the reader to imagine or substantiate the missing phantom lines, both the presence and the

Significance of the 1816 Preface to ‘Kubla Khan’


absence of something. Indeed, the headnote, with its emphasis on the situation of the author elaborates, in a straightforward third-person narrative account, on the reasons for reading this poem as a fragment. If we consider the two locations of Porlock and Linton on the circumference of a circle, we may find the author in the middle, in a ‘lonely farm house’ (Stillinger, 1994, p. 185). The walls of the writing room, within the walls of the house, encircle the author, just as Kubla may be imagined at the centre of his pleasure dome which is in turn surrounded by ‘walls and towers’ (l. 7). The circular imagery extends to the poet–speaker who wants to revive the Abyssinian maid’s symphony and song ‘within [him]’, and the visionary poet is evoked at the centre of the triple circle of his awed audience. In an echo of the ‘lonely rooms’ in Wordsworth’s ‘Tintern Abbey’, the walls of the farm house both exclude and contain, because within the confines of this room the poet reads Purchas’s Pilgrimage which, in combination with the prescribed anodyne, triggers the extraordinary composition of a vision in a dream ‘in which all the images rose up before him as things, with a parallel production of the correspondent expressions, without any sensation or consciousness of effort’ (Stillinger, 1994, p. 185). While writing down the substance of this experience, the author ‘was unfortunately called out by a person on business from Porlock’. Forced to leave his writing space by this intrusion, the author, upon ‘his return to his room’ more than an hour later, could no longer recollect his vision, hence the fragmentary status of the verse. The intrusion of the person from Porlock destroys the writer’s magic circle of composition, and what we are about to read is for that reason incomplete: the circle has been broken. The passage quoted in the preface from ‘The Picture’, first published in the Morning Post (1802) but substantially revised for Sibylline Leaves (1817), says as much (PW, vol. 1, part 2, pp. 711–17). In that poem the water surface, disturbed by flower fragments into a ‘thousand circlets’ (l. 93), regains its smoothness, thereby restoring the visions for the lovesick youth. In contrast, ‘Kubla Khan’ does not provide the reader with this kind of mirror. Apart from its significance as a commercially astute inclusion of a teaser, a tantalizing fragment from another poem about to appear in another book which the reader needs to procure in order to find out what happened in that story, the reference to ‘The Picture’ also hints at a certain challenge to the reader. In the next sentence the author refers to his unfinished poem as ‘what had been originally, as it were, given to him’ (Stillinger, 1994, p. 186). He now shares this gift, such as it is, with the reader who, by virtue of his complete ignorance of the contents of the original vision, can actually experience it in its entirety, and the coherence of the reading session itself constitutes some sort of ending in itself. This is, in a way, a more desirable,


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

more creative reaffirmation than the situation of the ‘ill-fated youth’ (l. 106) in ‘The Picture’ who ends up wasting his ‘manly prime / In mad Love-yearning by the vacant brook’ (ll. 107–8). The image of someone at the centre of a circle figures prominently throughout Coleridge’s writings, and circles carry connotations of both safety and imprisonment, of inspiration and self-delusion. Coleridge wrote a letter to Thomas Smith which manages to evoke both the reading experience of Purchas’s Pilgrimage in the headnote and Kubla’s garden in the verse: Intensely studious by Habit, and languidly affected by motives of Interest or Reputation, I found in my Books and my own meditations a sort of high-walled Garden, which excluded the very sound of the World without. But the Voice within could not be thrust out – the sense of Duty unperformed, and the pain of Self-dissatisfaction, aided and enforced by the sad and anxious look of Southey, and Wordsworth, and some few others most beloved by me and worthy of my regard and affection. (CL, vol. 2, p. 216)

The invocation above of Wordsworth, Coleridge’s model of the contemporary absolute genius, brings to mind Coleridge’s response to the reading of The Prelude during the fraught 1806–7 Coleorton Christmas holidays. ‘To William Wordsworth’ was one of the poems Coleridge was preparing for inclusion in Sibylline Leaves, much to the annoyance of Wordsworth (PW, vol. 1, part 2, pp. 815–19). In ‘To William Wordsworth’ the final scene of circular domestic harmony with the great bard and his adoring friend at the centre (‘yet thou thyself / Wert still before my eyes, and round us both / That happy vision of beloved Faces’ (ll. 105–7)), is also complicated by an uneasy rejection of Wordsworth’s ‘Pity or Grief ’ (l. 85) for Coleridge’s own unfulfilled potential. The closing scene of ‘To William Wordsworth’ ties in with the preface to ‘Kubla Khan’ by the specificity of its domestic setting and the failure of the author to complete his project, but it also echoes the concluding lines of the verse part in which the visionary poet enthrals his surrounding audience. The preface reminds us that the timeless, delocalized, shaman-like vision of the bard at the end of the verse was produced by the author in a physical, specific setting for the benefit of us, the readers: it makes the vision visible through reading. The speaker or ‘I’ of the verse may portray this bard as a wished-for vision rather than as a reality, but the preface has already planted a seed of the reality of this bard in the shape of the author we meet in the prose preface. While the author distances himself from any claims to absolute genius by the claims that his work

Significance of the 1816 Preface to ‘Kubla Khan’


has been published as a mere ‘psychological curiosity’, he counterbalances this disclaimer by the name-dropping reference to Byron, the ‘poet of great and deserved celebrity’, at whose request he is publishing this poem (Stillinger, 1994, p. 185). Furthermore, the reference to ‘psychological curiosity’, despite its rather unfavourable juxtaposition with ‘poetic merits’ in the same sentence, is not necessarily dismissive either.2 The phrase confidently advertises the commercial appeal, as opposed to the intrinsic poetic merit, of this publication to potential readers. It tickles their curiosity and desire for novelty. It echoes the advertisements and puffs in contemporary newspapers and magazines which promoted all sorts of products, including books, aimed at satisfying the customers’ curiosity or their desire for improvement. J. H. Plumb has demonstrated that ‘improvement’, closely followed by ‘new method’ and ‘latest fashion’, crops up everywhere in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century advertisements (McKendrick et al., 1982, p. 332). The association with the best-selling Byron also testifies to the author’s commercial acumen. Characterizing Byron as a ‘poet of great and deserved celebrity’ not only refers to the poet’s greatness; it also highlights the actual merit (‘deserved’) underlying the poet’s fashionable and commercial success. The author’s implied judgement that Byron’s celebrity rests on poetic merit contributes to the aura of credibility associated with the publication of his own ‘psychological curiosity’. Moreover, in an echo of the awed audience in the closing lines of ‘Kubla Khan’, Byron himself had been enthralled by the poetic genius of the author himself. Coleridge recited ‘Kubla Khan’ to Byron on 10 April 1816 in the latter’s home in Piccadilly. Hunt reports that Byron was ‘highly struck with his poem, and saying how wonderfully he talked. This was the impression of everyone who heard him’ (Holmes, 1998, p. 426). Coleridge’s awe-inspiring recital of ‘Kubla Khan’ was also recorded by Charles Lamb who enthused that Coleridge read ‘so enchantingly that it irradiates & brings heaven & Elysian bowers into my parlour while he sings or says it’ (Newlyn, 2000, p. 61). Lamb’s account confirms that Coleridge’s real-life persona was not all that different from the wishful presentation in the final lines of ‘Kubla Khan’ and his enchantment mirrors the awe of the audience in the poem. In addition, Lamb’s account of his listening experience reinforces our awareness of the poem as an integral whole. The experience of the oral recital constitutes its own self-sufficiency. If the portrayal of the mesmerizing bard in the verse is the hypothesis of poetic genius in full flight, then the preface with its vivid evocation of the author who produced this verse to the delight of Byron, Lamb and future potential readers, is the test of reality.


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

That reality had been tested already. As a journalist, a playwright and, above all, a lecturer, Coleridge had, by 1816, become a celebrity in his own right. Byron’s portrayal of Coleridge as the shambolic lecturer Scamp, the toast of the bluestockings, in his later work ‘The Blues: A Literary Eclogue’ (1823) may be (mildly) satirical, but it is informed by the reality of Coleridge’s widespread reputation as an erratic but spellbinding lecturer (Byron, 1991, pp. 297–8, 303, 306–7). In chapter 10 of Biographia Literaria, composed at about the same time as his preparation of the ‘Kubla Khan’ volume, Coleridge defends himself from the charge of having frittered his life away and of not having produced enough books by emphasizing his ‘intellectual usefulness’ by the dissemination of his ideas into ‘general circulation’ (BL, vol. 1, p. 220). Coleridge mentions his journalism and the success of his play Remorse in January 1813 in this context, but he singles out his courses of lectures as a particular source of satisfaction to himself: I should dare appeal to the numerous and respectable audiences, which at different times and in different places honoured my lecture-rooms with their attendance, whether the point of view from which the subject treated of were surveyed, whether the grounds of my reasoning were such, as they had heard or read elsewhere, or have since found in previous publications. I can conscientiously declare, that the complete success of Remorse on the first night of its presentation did not give me as great or as heart-felt a pleasure, as the observation that the pit and boxes were crowded with faces familiar to me, though of individuals whose names I did not know, and of whom I knew nothing, but that they had attended one or other of my courses of lectures. (BL, vol. 1, p. 221)

Coleridge’s delight in the contradictorily anonymous familiarity of the faces circling the stage is based on an association of the performative success of his literary endeavour, the play Remorse, with the loyalty of the audience at his own oral performance of the lectures. Together with Michael O’Neill I believe that Coleridge ‘involves the reader in a drama, a drama which centres on the poet’s longing to regain a state of inspiration which, in turn, would allow him to demonstrate what a poem is capable of ’ (1997, p. 63). The highly self-conscious 1816 prose preface is not a distinctly separate introduction to a poem. Instead, it is an integral part of this three-act poetic drama, because it sets up, frames and substantiates the circular structure which Coleridge saw as the end of all poetry. In 1815, in the midst of framing and presenting his poems, he wrote to Cottle: ‘The common

Significance of the 1816 Preface to ‘Kubla Khan’


end of all narrative, nay, of all, Poems is . . . to make those events which in real or imagined History move in a strait Line, assume to our Understandings a circular motion – the snake with it’s Tail in it’s Mouth’ (CL, vol. 2, p. 545). With his 1816 preface Coleridge adds a circle to the two interconnecting circles which already constitute the two narratives within the verse, and the addition makes his case for the power of the poet in the transmission of disparate things stronger. In chapter 2 of Biographia Literaria Coleridge argues for a contradictory integrity of poetic genius: the poet’s originality, his deviation from the norm, is somehow commensurate with the man’s emotional confidence in himself and in those he loves and is loved by. In the reference to ‘The Pains of Sleep’ at the end of the preface the author refers to that ‘dream of pain and disease’ as a contrast to the affirmative vision in ‘Kubla Khan’. ‘The Pains of Sleep’ concludes with the desperate, unrequited avowal ‘To be beloved is all I need, / And whom I love, I love indeed.’ While Coleridge cannot claim the combined domestic and artistic adoration he attributes to Wordsworth in ‘To William Wordsworth’, he can claim the pleasure of being the author of this poem which is about to be read. Those who can hear his voice would see the dome and the caves of ice in air. The anaphoric shift from ‘them’ (the domes and caves), the objects of vision, to the visionary poet himself, ‘his flashing eyes, his floating hair’, emphasizes the connection between the poet’s creation and the effect of his shaman-like presence on the circle of his adoring audience. The implied reference to the Wordsworths in chapter 10 of Biographia Literaria as among those who accuse Coleridge of idleness, those ‘who call themselves my friends, and whose own recollections ought to have suggested a contrary testimony’ (BL, vol. 1, p. 220), reverberates in the 1816 preface in which Coleridge makes it clear that successful dissemination of things goes beyond the familiar circle of devotees. The world of print inevitably breaks up the tight circle of the poet’s own chosen audience and it removes the text from its author’s control, but as a public figure who held his audience spellbound with accounts of his reading in his lectures, a ‘psychological curiosity’ himself, Coleridge emanated the power of the visionary artist in both oral and printed performances. So, by the time we’ve worked our way through this preface, we are ready to be hit by both the affirmation of Byron’s discerning taste in insisting on publication and the surprise that these strikingly assertive opening tetrameters are indeed a ‘psychological curiosity’, a portrayal of the creative mind, of commanding and absolute genius, such as we have never seen, heard or, most importantly, read before.


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

Notes 1 I am grateful to my student Patrick Biggs for drawing my attention to this passage. 2 I am grateful to Seamus Perry for drawing my attention to the use of the phrase ‘psychological curiosity’ and its connotations at the ‘Coleridge, Romanticism, and the Orient’ Conference in Kobe, Japan, 16–18 July 2011.


The Mathematics of Dreams: The Psychological Infinity of the East and Geometric Structures in Coleridge’s ‘Kubla Khan’ Dometa Wiegand Brothers

Coleridge’s ‘Kubla Khan’ shows an Asian space in which there is an uneasy, even mystical, imbrication of a natural and generative landscape with strangely precise mathematical descriptions of both that natural landscape and the humanized revisions of it. At the juxtaposition of the natural world and the human abstracted descriptions and artificial reorderings of this world are expressions of the human imagination in the form of the visions of the great Khan, the Abyssinian maid, the poet narrator and (if we believe any portion of the later preface) the author Coleridge himself.1 The striking geometrical descriptions of towers, curving rivers and measureless infinite caverns in the poem, as well as the repeated use of the number five, provoke wonder at how those elements come to exist alongside the conquest of the warrior Khan and the magical music of the Abyssinian maid. Furthermore, the Khan, the maid and the narrator, through action and words suggest the human involvement and importance in the abstracted descriptions of landscape and art. The depth of this complexity and the psychological purpose of the images in the poem has been the focus of continuous scholarship. In his classic 1927 study The Road to Xanadu: A Study in the Ways of the Imagination, John Livingston Lowes often reiterates his mission to deal with the material facts of Coleridge’s vision. He asserts repeatedly throughout the text that he does not want to assign meaning, nor interpret those images that he recovers from Coleridge’s reading as it finds its way into ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

and ‘Kubla Khan’. More recent scholarship by Richardson and Hofkosh (1996) and Nigel Leask (1998) uses caution when examining ‘Kubla Khan’ as well as Lowes’ work due to the syncretist and essentializing tendencies they see in the Oriental study in general and in scholars like Elinor Shaffer (1975) and Lowes in particular. These scholars are operating along geopolitical and mytho-religious lines, and indeed from such a perspective the universalizing of the Orient in ‘Kubla Khan’ is problematic. However, the essentializing and universalizing that is so problematic in political, religious and mythological perspectives is further complicated from a scientific perspective. Using other scholars’ cautionary revisiting of Lowes, I return to some of his source material in travel literature and also reconsider the sources for ‘Kubla Khan’, examining the poem in light of the influence of such scientists as Isaac Newton and William Herschel, two scientists Coleridge read during the time leading up to the production of ‘Kubla Khan’. Coleridge’s earliest notebooks from the years leading up to the authoring of ‘Kubla Khan’ have many references to Newton’s work. In addition, the charge out registers at the Bristol Library show that Coleridge read Herschel’s work in copies of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society volume 75 in April 1798. This connection to the work of Herschel is important to understanding ‘Kubla Khan’; therefore, in the long running dispute about dating the composition of ‘Kubla Khan’, I posit a date no earlier than spring of 1798. This is in agreement with E. H. Coleridge’s (1912) preference for summer 1798 put forth in his Complete Poetical Works (p. 295). Newton and Herschel, like Coleridge, were also men of wide-ranging catholic interests. Newton’s published works included ancient history and prophecy in addition to optics and mathematics. Herschel was a musician, mathematician and astronomer. These influences of mathematics, astronomy, ancient history and prophecy open up discussion of the form of ‘Kubla Khan’ in juxtaposition with its exoticized setting. In short, I examine the visionary force of human imagination that marries ideas of the infinite with Eastern imagery and uses mathematical ideas (Euclidian geometry and calculus) of celestial mechanics to describe the natural and artfully wrought world in the dreamscape of ‘Kubla Khan’. For Coleridge, the dreamscape is an imaginative exoticized space of both intellect and sense. In the notebook long mined for those images in ‘Kubla Khan’, Coleridge has two entries regarding dreaming in very close proximity: – Dreams sometimes useful by making giving to the well-grounded fears & hopes of the understanding the feelings of vivid sense. (CN, vol. 1, 188)

The Mathematics of Dreams


and: In the paradisiacal World Sleep was voluntary & holy  – a spiritual before God, in which the mind elevated by contemplation retired into pure intellect suspending all commerce with sensible objects & perceiving the present deity. (CN, vol. 1, 191)

There are two complementary ideas here. The latter entry shows that in a prelapsarian world sleep becomes the way humanity divests itself of the material objects of sense and becomes purely thought. This sacred process allows the finite mind of man to approach ever nearer to the mind of the infinite creator. The first entry recognizes that in a corrupt world dreams present the human intellect with something like the reality of sensible objects. In the fallen world of mankind, dreaming gives a material reality to the understanding and intellect that yearns for the paradise of the reality of approaching the creator. Dreaming for Coleridge, during this time and after, becomes the crux between inner and outer, material and spiritual, and the finite and the infinite. The goals of dreaming become the goals of his poetry, as art is used to try to remanifest this bridge for the conscious mind, so as to replicate what happens in the unconscious dreaming mind. In Coleridge’s view of dreams, the space manifested in the Eastern images and precise sensible mathematical descriptions are both about the approach towards the infinite. ‘Kubla Khan’ is the quintessence of association between the setting of the oriental tale and the dream. The transformations of Coleridge’s reading influences and intellectual processes coalesce in the spaces and images of the Eastern oriental tale. Coleridge himself says that upon reading the Arabian Nights at the age of 6 ‘one Tale . . . made so deep an impression on me . . . that I was haunted by spectres. . . . So I became a dreamer’ (CL, vol. 1, pp. 347–8). These words iterate how for Coleridge the Eastern images tie together the imagination with the act of dreaming. Tim Fulford establishes how closely Coleridge identifies with the oriental tale during his development, maintaining that ‘they [Coleridge’s oriental tales] offer a tribute, in their very form, to oriental texts that Coleridge admired because he saw in them an expression of the imaginative processes, the aspects of the human mind’ (2008, p. 234). Part of this association between the Eastern setting and the processes of dreaming and imagining is again given when Fulford presents Coleridge’s famous letter crediting ‘“My early reading of Faery Tales, and Genii &c &c” with shaping his inner nature’ (2008, p. 214). Fulford quotes more of this letter: ‘My early mind had been habituated to the Vast – and I never regarded my senses in any way as the criteria of my belief ’ (CL, vol. 1, p. 354).


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

The association between dreaming and the setting of the oriental tale is clear from the excerpt that Fulford gives, which provides the scope of his argument. Certainly the art of the tales makes the understanding and imaginative focus of the genii more real to his ‘belief ’ than his bodily senses. A further portion of this letter, which Fulford does not use, leads us to the realm of celestial mechanics, geometry and calculus. The exposition regarding genii and giants is preceded by: I remember that at eight years old I walked with him [Coleridge’s father] . . . & he told me the names of the stars . . . – and that the other twinkling stars were Suns that had worlds rolling round them – & when I came home, he shewed me how they rolled round –. / I heard him with profound delight & admiration, but without the least mixture of wonder and incredulity. (CL, vol. 1, p. 354)

The Coleridge of 1797 who pens both that letter and then later ‘Kubla Khan’, has fused in his mind, imagination, Eastern settings, conceptions of the vast and infinite (and the infinite is an inherently mathematical problem), with the rudiments of celestial mechanics. I have elsewhere discussed Coleridge’s interest in astronomy (Wiegand, 2006). Astronomy, particularly the dynamic movement and structure of the stars, fascinates Coleridge scientifically as well as artistically and theologically. Those rudiments of celestial mechanics, offering the ready metaphors Coleridge employs, are explained through geometry and especially calculus, most notably in the works of Isaac Newton and William Herschel. Coleridge was not a mathematician; however, it is clear he had an interest in the ideas of mathematics. Also, our modern idea of how much mathematics he had may be skewed by how our own educations proceed. Coleridge’s education at Christ’s Hospital, where he was taught math by William Wales the noted astronomer and navigator, is well known (Moss, 2002, pp. 50–1). This form of mathematics was inherently associated with celestial mechanics, not only because an astronomer was his teacher, but because Christ’s Hospital prepared young men to be navigators. Further, during Coleridge’s early time at Cambridge he proudly proclaims in a letter to his brother George: ‘We have Mathematical Lectures, once a day – Euclid and Algebra alternately. I read Mathematics three hours a day  – by which means I am always considerably before the Lectures, which are very good ones’ (CL, vol. 1, p. 16). Coleridge attended math lectures daily and practised maths an additional 3 hours every day. It is not incidental that he studied mathematics at Newton’s Cambridge. At Newton’s Cambridge, as elsewhere in England at this time, ‘calculus’ as a name for the branch of mathematics governing celestial mechanics was not used. England had unswerving allegiance

The Mathematics of Dreams


to Newton (as opposed to Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz) in the calculus wars and so did not adopt Leibniz’s term ‘calculus’ or Leibniz’s symbolic notation system until some time after 1800. The hallmark of Newtonian calculus principles was that it is expressed in geometric symbols and explanations. Reading ‘geometry’ in Cambridge at this time would very likely have included at least the reading of Principia and discussion of Newton’s ideas regarding calculus using his favoured terminology of ‘fluxions’.2 The Principia’s discussion of calculus ideas occurs within the context of celestial motions. Also, in the later editions of Principia, Newton includes an additional essay called the ‘General Scholium’ in which he rebuts Leibniz’s natural philosophy and which influences Coleridge’s ideas of time and space, especially regarding the eternal and infinite in God. All this would be for nothing, if there were not evidence that Coleridge was currently rereading Newton or recalling previously read works. Indeed such evidence does exist in the notebooks. Tucked among the oft-quoted references to exotic Eastern travel images of Thomas Burnet, Thomas Maurice and Samuel Purchas are the following entries: Stars twinkle upon us – Suns on other worlds – Double sense of Prophecies. – (CN, vol. 1, 82)

Coburn’s notes to the above entry show that the above quote references chapter two of Newton’s Prophecies of Holy Writ (CN, vol. 1, 82n). Again Coleridge draws together the idea of the celestial with the prophetic. The stars are viewed from two different vantage points, one centred on the effects of the human and one from the perspective of other worlds. This accounts for the doubleness of the prophetic. The triangulation of humanity with the stars deepens the sense of mystery. The prophetic becomes associated with the motion and infinity of the natural world as it does later in ‘Kubla Khan’. Only a few entries later Coleridge writes, ‘Reason the Sun – Revelation the comet which feeds it’ (CN, vol. 1, 88n). Again, the notion of reason and revelation embodied in celestial motion stands out. Kathleen Coburn’s notes on the text of the notebook point to the history of this reference from Newton’s Letters to Mr. Bentley.3 She discusses this quote as it came to fruition in Evidences of Revealed Religion by Coleridge’s friend Estlin. She notes, ‘In a presentation copy now at VCL [Victoria College Library] there is the inscription “From the Author to his highly valued friend Mr. S. T. Coleridge to whose judicious suggestion this Discourse is indebted for the quotation from Sir Isaac Newton”. This quotation, pp. 19–22, is a passage . . . on the antiquity of the Pentateuch as a revelation’ (CN, vol. 1, 88n). And here, just prior to the time that I posit that Coleridge is writing


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

‘Kubla Khan’, are images of celestial motion, prophecy and an emphasis on the number five as it is embodied in the Pentateuch. From the idea of Pentateuch as revelation, Coleridge moves on in his notebooks to ideas of infinity. The next Newtonian reference reads: World-[? makers/maker]. – As if according to Sir Isaac Newton’s progression of pores – they had coarct the world to a Ball and were playing with it –. (CN, vol. 1, 93)

This Coburn again tracks to Newton’s Letters to Mr. Boyle. This same idea of the compression of matter ad infinitum is recycled and used as political satire in the Watchman (CN, vol. 1, 93n). And finally just a few entries later, the notebooks reveal: God no distance knows, All of the whole possessing. – (CN, vol. 1, 98)

These lines reference Newton’s (1729) ‘General Scholium’ of the Principia, ‘he is not Duration and Space, but he endures and is present. He endures forever, and is everywhere present; and, by existing always and every where, he constitutes Duration and Space’ (Newton, 1846, p. 505). Here God being constituent of duration and space indicates Him as not just being eternal and infinite but also as not physically possessing these traits. These entries all deal with celestial motion, revelation and the perception of the maker. They refer to Newton’s visionary and prophetic writings as well as his great mathematical text the Principia. Furthermore, they are surrounded by and hold congress in Coleridge’s mind with those more explicit imagistic references to Eastern travel narratives such as Thomas Maurice (1795) that Lowes long ago brought to critical attention. They imply the same fascination as that described by Coleridge in his early letters regarding genii, planetary motions and dreaming. These reading influences being established, it is important to ask what the ideas of geometrical calculus, when filtered through images of the East and dreaming, bring to the poem ‘Kubla Khan’? Euclidean geometry is the geometry of a three-dimensional world and a mathematics of static objects. This dimensionality and stasis limits its descriptive ability for complex natural systems, which would require either movement between two objects or infinite sets or spaces. The beauty of the calculus, or as Newton termed it ‘fluxions’, is how it extends geometry’s abilities to describe natural systems of movement like celestial mechanics or fluid dynamics. In many

The Mathematics of Dreams


ways Euclidean geometry and algebra are the mathematics that describes the finite, static, man-made, linear geometric structures abstracted from nature and used in art. On the other hand, calculus is the mathematics that describes the moving, curving, infinite qualities of nature’s structures and dynamic processes. The idea of the infinite is inherent in Newton’s ‘fluxions’, but it is by no means the only source for Coleridge’s fascination. Indeed, a source lay close to hand that plays on one of Coleridge’s favourite themes of the infinite as embodied in the movement of the stars. As source material at this time, much has also been made of Coleridge’s reading of volume 75 of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Usually, remarks are restricted to the articles containing accounts of volcanoes, marine animals and phosphorescence that made their way into images used in ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ (Lowes, 1927, pp. 40, 41, 67–71, 80, 82, 83, 203, 350). This influential ‘Bristol borrowing’ (Kaufman, 1924) also contained articles on the summation of infinite series and William Herschel’s ultimate achievement in stellar astronomy, ‘On the Construction of the Heavens’, which does nothing less than to describe the structure and movement of the dome of the Milky Way using ‘what Sir ISAAC NEWTON says in the first book of his Principia’ (Herschel, 1785, p. 215). In this work, Herschel describes an imaginative method of scanning the night sky in which, at first the human imagination considers only a small order of constellations visible to man–‘the whole universe .  .  . will be comprised of a set of constellations’ – and then moves outward imaginatively until ‘He then forms the idea of immense strata . . . of stars’ (1785, pp. 218–19). The exercise goes from mankind seeing a very orderly finite number of stars in fixed geometric patters to seeing what ‘has now assumed the shape of a crookedly branching nebula . . . far from being the most considerable of those numberless clusters that enter into the construction of the heavens’ (p. 219). To be sure, these images of the infinite and vast are as likely to have made an impression on the mind of Coleridge as those of phosphorescent sea life. And here we turn to the poem. In ‘Kubla Khan’ the structure most shows the influence of Newton’s and Herschel’s mathematical ideas as well as the conceptions of the prophetic understanding, especially those emphasizing the role of human reason. Here the two separate chunks of the poem create two worlds (both fused with Eastern imagery). One section is marked by Euclidean geometry with its walls, domes and towers, the linear spatial conceptions of static art or science superimposed on its surface of a dynamic natural world. In the second portion of the poem we see a dynamic, productive, curving, infinite natural landscape with mankind appearing only in the prophetic or emotional worlds of war, love and art.


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

The two sections of the poem can be read as sublimated dynamic nature and foregrounded geometric artistic productions versus dynamic infinite nature with sublimated artist. The human imagination is the product of nature, and in the poem, it is also the producer of the geometric in the ‘decree’ in line 2 to erect ‘the pleasure dome’ as well as the walls and towers from the first section. It is the crux of the finite and infinite, and particularly in the vision or dream, Coleridge says, ‘gives to the understanding the feelings of vivid sense’ (CN, vol. 1, 188). The imagination also ideally would be a ‘mind elevated by contemplation’, which could ‘[perceive] the present deity’ (CN, vol. 1, 191) and approach the infinite. As has been shown, Coleridge the dreamer fused the ideas of the vast in Eastern tales with the infinity and motion of the mathematics of celestial mechanics. The East becomes the land of dreaming wherein the infinite is accessible, in a way that the infinity of the stars, or their mathematics, is not. The first more ordered world of the beginning of the poem harks back to travel writers, as pointed out by Lowes and other critics recovering the source of the exotic images, but let us consider the lines afresh: In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A stately pleasure-dome decree: Where Alph, the sacred river, ran  Down to a sunless sea. So twice five miles of fertile ground With walls and towers were girdled round . . . (PW, vol. 1, part 1, pp. 512–13, ll. 1–7)

The geometrical descriptions of the towers and walls show either a circular wall enclosing an area of 10 miles, or, a rectangular enclosure with a perimeter of 2 miles by 5 miles. Probably most telling of humanity’s geometrical achievements is the dome. Domes are notoriously difficult to construct and serve as a reminder of the precise delicate nature of Euclidean geometry and its measurements. The pleasure dome is the imposition of the human imagination’s abstracted Euclidian lines onto dynamic nature. The dome most accessible to the human imagination, especially in pre-industrial imagination, is the dome of the sky. In Herschel’s treatise there are three illustrations of stars. Upon examination, an observer sees that the first two show the beautiful geometric abstraction of globular strata of stars (Herschel, 1785, diagram, p. 266). They are in effect the depiction of the stars as two domes. If the poem were composed in spring or summer of 1798, then Herschel’s diagrams would have been immediately present to Coleridge.

The Mathematics of Dreams


The image of the pleasure-dome in ‘Kubla Khan’, may well have been influenced by this diagram of a dome of stars in circular strata with intricate circular pathways connecting them, creating geometric order from the chaos of infinite stars available. The idea of grafting geometrical precision to a ‘disordered’ natural world predominates in the first section of the poem. The first lines of the poem seem to show a nature tamed in a garden setting. In fact, Nigel Leask’s important article, ‘“Kubla Khan” and Orientalism: The Road to Xanadu Revisited’, gives a detailed explication of influences of Chinese landscape gardening from the ordered to the sublime (Leask, 1998, pp. 8–11). But even that ordered patch of ground in the first section of the poem is surrounded by the river Alph and the ‘caves measureless to man’. The river twists and turns, appears and disappears as it follows its cyclical course to the sea and the caves are marked repeatedly by the use of ‘measureless’, intimating man’s ongoing obsession with the process of trying to mathematically describe the infinite universe. Leask, as Lowes before him, returns to travel narratives for the source of these images, if in a more historically self-conscious way. The recovery of these images of landscape gardening is important, especially as Leask emphasizes the ideas of the sublime or terrifying. Taking the sublime as a starting point and incorporating these travel images with Lowes’ adds an interesting layer to ‘Kubla Khan’. When viewed through the lens of the scientific/ prophetic and mathematical context of Coleridge’s reading, another level of the sublime influence on the poem emerges. First, William Herschel (1789) offers another important metaphor for the beauty and sublimity of space, one of a garden. In his article ‘Catalogue of a Second Thousand of New Nebulae and Clusters of Stars: With a Few Introductory Remarks on the Construction of the Heavens’, Herschel remarks: This method of viewing the heavens seems to throw them into a new kind of light. They now are seen to resemble a luxuriant garden, which contains the greatest variety of productions, in different flourishing beds; and one advantage we may at least reap from it is, that we can, as it were, extend the range of our experience to an immense duration. (Herschel, 1789, p. 226)

This passage shows an interesting view of the dynamic universe. Herschel’s emphasis in his work is on the stellar evolution of the universe. The universe is a dynamic birthing, growing, dying place. Yet Herschel cannot help but represent the ‘vegetation’ of star clusters as a garden, as beds formed by some erstwhile gardener. Coleridge similarly represents the natural world as generative, yet that world that can only be roughly described by calculus and its


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

motions and infinities, is overlaid with Euclidean geometrics abstracted from the natural world in the form of the art and artifice of the human imagination that creates towers, domes, walls and garden beds. Even in the midst of that seemingly ordered garden world we see the infinity present in the natural world in those ‘caves measureless to man’. These intimations of infinity also benefit from the context of Herschel’s work. Returning to his ‘On the Construction of the Heavens’, the illustrated figures from The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society that gave us the geometric representation of a dome of stars, also offer a kind of larger perspective section of the Milky Way. This figure presents a jagged structure filled with a seeming infinity of twinkling stars reminiscent of a rock cave glittering with ice (Herschel, 1785, diagram, p. 266). Certainly Lowes, Leask, and others are right to point to the travel and other Eastern texts recovered to evoke the inspiration of these lines; however, the context of Coleridge’s association of the vast and infinite with mathematics and celestial mechanics concomitant with images from the East cannot be ignored as a possible source of images for producing the glittering measureless caves of ice and the reflected ‘dome in air’. The celestial imagery is not only mathematical but as established earlier has shades of the prophetic surrounding it. The prophetic is most explicit in the second section of the poem, but is inherent in the structure of the first part as well. Line 11 has the garden in the vision in daylight as the woods are ‘enfolding sunny spots of greenery’ (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 513). Looking back to the Newtonian references given earlier, we see ‘Reason the Sun – Revelation the comet which feeds it’ (CN, vol. 1, 88). As noted earlier, this reference is in regard to Newton’s belief in the Pentateuch as revelation. Perhaps the choice of 5 as a recurring integer for the perimeter of the garden and the length of the river in the poem is not completely random. If the first section of the poem is about the reason of man taming this spot of nature, then man’s reason in this landscape is represented by our sun. It is a deep and powerful light and the ultimate use of reason is the artistic construction of the geometric dome. However, it is of utmost importance to note that despite discovering the precise geometrical formula to produce a dome, there remain those ‘caves measureless to man’ that hint at the idea of infinity. Actually no fewer than five references are made to the caves in the poem. They are a mystery that cannot be plumbed by reason alone. In addition, Alph flows down to a sunless sea. So in one landscape (both are images from the first section) there is at once sun and no sun. The sea as representative of the infinite is a common trope and here man’s reason (the sun) cannot penetrate. Revelation is needed.

The Mathematics of Dreams


Revelation is the business of the second section where humanity is present in line 16 in the ‘woman wailing’, and in line 30 with the Khan’s ‘ancestral voices prophesying’, but these imply emotion and revelation  – not reason. There is no ‘decree’ to build and abstract the geometric forms of nature to Euclidean precision. Here the forms of nature seem wild and chaotic. It is important to look at the same motifs of the river and the number five that repeat transformed from the first section. The river Alph reappears here in lines 17 through 28, but now: And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething, As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing, A mighty fountain momently was forced: . . . And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever It flung up momently the sacred river. Five miles meandering with a mazy motion Through wood and dale the sacred river ran, And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean: (PW, vol. 1, part 1, pp. 512–13, ll. 17–28)

The river’s depiction is in apparent stark contrast to the first section of the poem. The fountain has garnered much critical attention; Lowes has excavated Thomas Maurice in a History of Hindostan for reference to the ‘bubble of ice’ and the fountains (Lowes, 1927, pp. 381–2). He also notes that Maurice acknowledges Major Rennell’s map of Hindustan in his efforts to identify these landscape features (Lowes, 1927, pp. 32, 382). In another passage referred to by Lowes (and which we know that Coleridge reflected on), Maurice writes: Five Mathematicians says Le Comte, spend every night in the tower, vigilantly observing what passes over head; one directs his eyes toward the Zenith, a second towards the east, a third towards the west quarters of heaven; the south falls under a notice of the fourth, and the north of a fifth astronomer; so that nothing of what happens either in the meridian, or in the four corners of the world, can escape their diligent observation. They take notice of winds, the rain, the air. (Maurice, 1795, vol. 1, p. 275; quoted in Lowes, 1927, p. 470)

First of all the wonderful Eastern images of caves of ice and fountains are discussed not far from the ancient Chinese Mathematicians who stood guard in the Chinese observatory. The number five crops up again. Along with Coleridge’s reference to Newton’s ‘Reason the Sun – Revelation the comet which feeds it’ (CN, vol. 1, 88), which discussed the Pentateuch as revelation, it is easy to see


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

how in Coleridge’s imagination the ancient history of China, the number five, the celestial mechanics metaphor of revelation, and the images of the domes, towers and caves of Eastern landscapes fuse with the images of domes and caves of the sky. With mathematicians from ancient China to Newton’s and Herschel’s England in his mind, Coleridge recrafts the river Alph in the second section of the poem as ‘meandering with a mazy motion’, mazy meaning curving back and forth. The river flows through those images approaching the infinite of measureless caves and sea. The type of motion and the shape of the river can only be measured through the use of calculus. The areas under a curve can only be calculated through the use of infinitesimals, which by summing up smaller and smaller slices of the curve, can approach ever nearer to infinity, but cannot achieve it –much as our thwarted narrator/poet cannot rebuild the ‘dome in air’ or ‘caves of ice’. The same volume 75 of The Philosophical Transactions containing Herschel’s work also contains a piece by the Rev. S. Vince (1785) on the summation of infinite series. The curving river moves inexorably through the caves to the sea ever closer to those images of infinity through their very flux. This section of the poem has emotional and prophetic human presence, in line 16’s ‘woman wailing for her demon-lover’ and line 30’s ‘ancestral voices prophesying war’ (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 513). Here, the human imagination is a weak force, a lamentation or a whisper, sublimated to the powerful productions of the natural world. If we accept then that the first section shows us the geometrical towers (perhaps housing Chinese mathematicians?) and domes as a description of the human production of art overlaid on the natural landscape and the second stanza expresses that fluctuating dynamic landscape with the dome of the infinite sky overhead and a curving moving river below, then what of the end of this poem? The focus at the end of the poem shifts back to the human presence. The creative power of the human imagination is the new seat of focus. Unlike the first section which shows us the linear physical productions of mankind that transform the surface of the earth, and the second section that focuses on the productions of the landscape itself with the background presence of the emotional and human, the ending of the poem examines human creative forces in poetry and music that seem to hint at the possible recreation of the generative and infinite. As productions of Coleridge’s reading influences and viewpoint during the time period indicate, the infinite is fused with ideas and images of the East. Here at the end of the poem is the gorgeous, exotic, image of the Abyssinian Maid. Leask (1998, pp. 14–16) points out the long critical discussion of the sources for the maid and her locale. Whether she finds her genesis in Bruce’s Travels or Milton, or her home encompasses those mountains of Amara or Amora, or

The Mathematics of Dreams


Abora is less important than that she is fused in Coleridge’s mind with sleep, visions, art and infinity (Leask, 1998, pp. 14–17). Her power lies in her creation of ‘a sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice’ (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 514). She juxtaposes the calculus/geometry of the infinite natural world of the measureless caves of ice and the humanly reasoned abstraction of those domed forms in the ‘sunny pleasure dome’. The power of the maiden’s song is that it induces a kind of aesthetic trance that allows access to the underlying organization of the universe. The poet/narrator wishes to be able to recreate inside this dreamscape the ability to re-recreate the ‘shadow of the dome of pleasure’ that ‘Floated midway on the waves; / Where was heard the mingled measure from the fountain and the caves’ from lines 32 through 34 (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 513). These puzzling lines benefit from the addition of the scientific influences. The shadow of the dome floating on waves is most easily accounted for as a reflection of the night sky, a recurring image in many Coleridge poems. Coleridge even added a few lines of a similar reference from his poem ‘The Picture’ in the 1816 preface: And soon the fragments dim of lovely forms Come trembling back, unite, and now once more The pool becomes a mirror. (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 512)

The later addition of the preface and these lines emphasize the importance of the reflected night sky. They hint at ideas of infinity and forms that the human mind can only perceive as reflections and shadows of the reality of the universe and God. Returning to the passage from ‘Kubla Khan’ proper, the movement of water recreates Alph running through the caves from earlier in the poem. Interestingly the caves that have most often been described as measureless are denoted by this sound or ‘measure’ as in a musical measure. The poet and the musical maiden can both evoke or approach the infinite in their dreamscape through shadowy reflection of forms of the natural world, if not precisely mathematically measure the infinite as observed in nature. This is the quintessence of Romantic ideology: that the individual genius somehow partakes of creative acts, if smaller in scale, roughly analogous to those of the creator. The Abyssinian maid, or rather the narrator’s sleep vision of her, connects the poet, and then the reader, to the act of dreaming. Dreaming allows us to see humanity as an extension of that natural world and through the revelation of dreaming and vision our art and intellect, like the summation of infinite series in the infinitesimals of calculus, allow us to approach infinity and ‘perceive the present Deity’ (CN, vol. 1, 191). Fulford (2008, p. 234) points out that the poem as an example of the oriental tale ‘moves the East westwards, achieving an uncanny


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

fusion which unsettles stereotypes . . . talismanic tales that have fascinated readers for 200 years because they draw them into and beyond the identities that their cultures had granted them’. The geopolitical and mytho-religious is unsettled in Coleridge’s oriental tale. This talismanic tale goes even further than the blurring of national identity, in that it recreates the state of the dreamer. The dream draws the readers beyond their own human identity and closer to the presence of God and the infinite. This apotheosis happens in dreams and in the waking world in the imagination. Lowes (1927, p. 432) asserts that Coleridge saw Imagination as being ‘the endless flux of the unfathomed sea of facts and images – but it sees also the controlling Form. And when it acts on what it sees . . . the flux itself is transformed and fixed in the clarity of design.’ Thus the dome of a magnitude of heaven becomes a pleasure dome, the same view of heaven stretched towards infinity resembles a cave of ice. The structures of the infinite and celestial are manifest in the finite and terrestrial. The infinite dome floats above the waves in Herschel’s garden of the skies and an abstracted Euclidean reproduction of the dome sits in the Khan’s terrestrial garden. Discerning the connections between the human and the universe has Newton’s metaphor of the movement and light of the sun becoming the light of human reason. Reason in a Coleridgean context is incomplete without the powerful Imagination. In this, Lowes’ classic study, if flawed, is correct: Coleridge’s dream making imagination is truly ‘thaumaturgic’ (Lowes, 1927, p. 428).

Notes 1 Schneider, 1966, p. 78. Schneider argues that structure indicates that the poem may not be the product of a drug induced state. For my purposes it does not matter whether the vision is drug induced or not, as I seek only to examine the layers binding image, mathematics and dreaming, and for this purpose an actual drug induced vision or dream or a metaphorically produced vision and dream are for most points equivalent. The layering of another dream and vision over the original dream/vision referenced in the poem does not destroy, but intensifies the original effect in this interpretation. 2 All references to the Principia here are to the English translation by Andrew Motte that appeared in 1729 and was subsequently reprinted. 3 Both Letters to Mr. Bentley and Letters to Mr. Boyle (which follows in another note to Coleridge’s notebooks) can be located in Newton’s Philosophical Writings edited by Andrew Janiak.


‘Kubla Khan’ and British Chinoiserie: The Geopolitics of the Chinese Garden Kuri Katsuyama

I will focus on the fact that the first 36 lines of ‘Kubla Khan’ represent a landscape garden – not natural scenery, but an artificial landscape garden. The 1816 preface has inspired a large number of source-hunting studies. Among them, John Livingston Lowes’ The Road to Xanadu thoroughly investigates Coleridge’s wide reading in the literature of travel, including Purchas his Pilgrimage (1613), which the poet names in the preface. However, Coleridge wrote this poem in 1797, the same year Sir George Staunton published his Authentic Account of an Embassy from the King of Great Britain to the Emperor of China. Liberating the poem from the 1816 preface allows us to resituate it in the historical context of its composition; and there we discover and can better understand both Coleridge’s own geopolitical interest in China,1 and a British chinoiserie in transition during the late 1790s.

British chinoiserie and the jardin anglo-chinois The trade with China had introduced ‘the foreign’ into the British house, and the meaning of ‘China’ was created in the sphere of consumer goods, through adaptation, imitation and rococo rebellion against baroque and classical aesthetics. This development reached its height from the 1740s onwards, coinciding with increased imports of tea and porcelain by the East India Company. During this period, furniture of all kinds, and interior design, were alike refashioned according to ‘Chinese style’. The fashion was first seized upon by the upper classes in British society. William Chambers built a pagoda in the royal garden at


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

Kew for Princess Augusta, and the Duke of Cumberland entertained his nephew George III on his Chinese yacht. ‘China’, and what came to be thought of as the ‘Chinese’ style, had become the objects of consumer desire, thus giving them a place of importance in British culture that might parallel the role China now played in the expansion of British trade in Asia.2 Kubla’s garden, as evoked by Coleridge’s poem, seems closer to the eighteenth-century European orientalist conception of the Chinese garden, or to the British Chinese garden (the ‘jardin anglo-chinois’). Earlier writers like Sir William Temple, Joseph Addison, Horace Walpole and Oliver Goldsmith, had developed an aesthetic of Chinese gardening that takes its place among the most influential expressions of ‘Orientalism’ in eighteenth-century European culture.3 China was still largely closed to European trade – with the exception of the port of Canton – and the continuing strength of the Manchu dynasty would exclude European empire-builders until the first Opium War of 1839–42. Nevertheless, Chinese aesthetics had a considerable impact on European gardens, architecture and decorative arts – a development collectively described as chinoiserie. The definitive account of Chinese gardening was produced by Sir William Chambers in his Dissertation on Oriental Gardening, published in 1772, with an extravagant dedication to George III. Chambers, a Scottish architect, designed a Chinese pagoda for the royal garden at Kew in the suburbs of London, and served George III from 1750 to 1780. He argued that the Chinese artfully employed the ‘pleasing, horrid, and enchanted’ features of nature, thereby surprising the visitor; this effect marks a great point of contrast to the rather dull, rolling hills of the English landscape garden. His attack upon the reigning fashion in English garden design had the result of converting the question into a sort of party issue, on which Tories and Whigs, the court party and its opponents, were to take opposite sides.4 Chambers’ Tory politics were embodied in his disdain for untouched nature and his desire to ‘imperialize’ and transform it in his Dissertation on Oriental Gardening. Chambers suggests that a fantastic Chinese garden is a place of luxury, excitement and sublime extravagance. ‘China’, here, stands for an exotic, fantastic foreignness that excites the mind and lends new ideas and impulses to an uninspired British sensibility. Chambers divided the aesthetic of the Chinese garden into three categories, the ‘pleasing, horrid and enchanted’. These categories seem to correspond to the structure of the landscape garden represented in the first 36 lines of ‘Kubla Khan’. According to Chambers, the ‘pleasing’ parts of the Chinese garden are adorned by fragrant shrubs and blossoming trees, graced by winding waterways with

‘Kubla Khan’ and British Chinoiserie


decorative bridges and dotted with ornamental pavilions. These characteristics seem to correspond to those of the description of the garden surrounding Kubla’s pleasure dome in lines 6 to 9 in the poem: So twice five miles of fertile ground With walls and towers were girdled round; And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills Where blossom’d many an incense-bearing tree. (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 513)

As for the Chinese aesthetic of ‘horror’, Chambers explains as follows: The senses of terror are composed of gloomy woods, deep vallies inaccessible to the sun, impending barren rocks, dark caverns, and impetuous cataracts rushing down the mountains from all parts. The trees are ill formed, forced out of their natural directions, and seemingly torn to pieces by the violence of tempests [sic] some are thrown down, and intercept the course of the torrents; others look as if blasted and shattered by the power of lightening . . . gibbets, crosses, wheels, and the whole apparatus of torture, are seen from the roads, and in the most dismal recesses of the woods . . . are temples dedicated to the king of vengeance, deep caverns in the rocks, and descents to subterraneous habitations. (Chambers, 1773, pp. 27–8)

This description of the harrowing aesthetics of the Chinese garden calls to mind lines 14 to 16 of ‘Kubla Khan’: A savage place! as holy and inchanted As e’er beneath a wanting moon was haunted By woman wailing for her demon-lover! (PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 513)

Furthermore, Chambers describes the ‘enchanted’ section of the Chinese garden as follows: In one place a whole river is precipitated from the summit of the mountain, where it foams and whirls amongst the rocks, till it falls down other precipices, and buries itself in the gloom of impenetrable forests. In another place, the waters burst out with violence from many parts, spouting a great number of cascades, in different directions, which, through various impediments, at last unite, and form one great expanse of water. (p. 51)


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

This description anticipates the almost ‘libidinal’ energy of the river Alph and its course – its meandering, mazy motion, and its tumultuous decent into the ‘lifeless ocean’ in lines 17 to 28 of ‘Kubla Khan’. As I indicated above, ‘Kubla Khan’ answers very well to the essential aesthetic features of ‘chinoiserie’ gardening: it depends equally upon ‘the pleasing, the terrible, and the surprising’. Thus effects of the sublime, as well as of the beautiful, are incorporated into the Khan’s garden. This aesthetic is also influenced by the theory Burke formulated in his 1757 Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. However, the Macartney embassy and its travel accounts provide a more immediate context for ‘Kubla Khan’ and revive the argument over the aesthetic of Chinese gardening in Britain, the so-called jardin anglo-chinois.

The Macartney Embassy to China On board the ship travelling to China was Viscount George Macartney, the first ambassador from Great Britain to the Chinese empire. With him went a carefully selected entourage including Sir George Leonard Staunton (Macartney’s secretary), a young John Barrow (employed as comptroller), as well as a surgeon, a physician, a mechanic, a painter, a draughtsman (William Alexander), and a gardener and botanist. The expedition resembled the Pacific voyages of Cook, with natural scientists and artists numbering 94 in all, and costing the East India Company a grand total of 78,000 pounds. The embassy departed from Spithead on 21 September 1792, sailing to China via Madeira, Rio de Janeiro, Batavia and Cochin China, arriving in China on 20 June 1793.5 Macartney’s embassy aimed to negotiate a treaty of commerce that would establish a resident Minister at the Court of Qianlong, to open new ports and extend British trade with China, and to create new markets for British products, samples of which were taken as presents. It is very interesting that scientific and astronomical apparatuses such as a planetarium, an orrery and globes were presented to the Emperor Qianlong as tributes in order to highlight British advancement and progress in the sciences.6 A Chinese Ko’ssau silk tapestry (cf. Figure 12.1) depicts the arrival of a planetarium and celestial globe at the Summer Palace of the Emperor of China, Qianlong, at Peking, September 1793. The Emperor’s poem in the corner reflects his views of Lord Macartney’s mission.7

‘Kubla Khan’ and British Chinoiserie


Figure 12.1  Chinese Ko’ssau Silk Tapestry. © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.

However, China had no need of trade with England, nor did she need the ‘curious’ instruments that England produced, since China was self-sufficient and had never valued ‘ingenious articles’ of science. The two countries possessed different cultures with totally different systems of values. The embassy failed in its main purposes. One of the reasons for this failure would have been Macartney’s refusal to ‘kowtow’ (engage in multiple prostrations) to the Chinese Emperor. But it was mainly due to the fact that the two nations differed too widely in culture and in values. Although the embassy couldn’t achieve its main purposes, it journeyed from the coast at Tientsin (Tianjin) to Peking, where it was received at the imperial palace and the Summer Palace at Zhe-hol in southern Manchuria. It then travelled right through China by the great canal system to rejoin the ships at Canton. Precious information was gleaned about the north-eastern coast of China and the Yellow Sea, never before navigated by European ships. In 1792, the year when the embassy departed, James Gillray produced a cartoon titled The Reception of the Diplomatique and His Suite at the Court of Pekin. The satire in the cartoon depends on an ironic contrast: on the one hand the image reflects British beliefs about Chinese ethnocentrism, while on the other hand it shows the British themselves readily fawning on the emperor and


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

his court, paying tribute with many gifts of ‘scientific apparatuses’; in these latter instruments the Chinese Emperor, as the cartoon has it, showed no interest. From the Chinese point of view, China was the centre of the world; outside her frontiers dwelt various barbarian peoples of inferior culture. According to Confucian theory, the ‘virtue’ of the Emperor, as the Son of Heaven and the universal ruler, would inevitably attract the barbarians to his Court where they would see for themselves China’s superiority. The tributary system was a ritual whereby uncultured peoples outside the borders of China could share in the Chinese world-view and take their proper place under the Emperor. The reading public had a strong desire for details of the embassy’s journeys in exotic China. Many journals and memoranda were written about the embassy. In 1797, George Staunton’s two-volume official edition of the embassy, An Authentic Account, was published. This account was accompanied by maps and prints, most of them the work of the expedition’s draughtsman, William Alexander. His method was ethnographic painting, which from the middle of the eighteenth century was influenced by the paradigm of natural history.8 In the course of narrating the travels of Macartney’s embassy, Staunton’s Authentic Account gave extensive descriptions of the Chinese Emperor Qianlong’s gardens at Yuen-min-yuen in Beijing, and also of his Summer Palace at Zhe-hol in Tartary. Staunton wrote that the Emperor Qianlong did not regard himself as Han Chinese, but rather as a Manchu Tartar, claiming direct descent from Kubla Khan, thirteenth-century conqueror of China. On 14 September 1793, the Emperor received Macartney’s mission at the Royal Summer Palace at Zhe-hol, north-west of the Great Wall in Tartary. In an illustration, William Alexander (cf. Figure 12.2) depicts the emperor’s ceremonious arrival on the day the Macartney embassy formally presented its credentials (14 September 1793). The meeting took place in an opulent Mongolian tent in the Garden of Ten Thousand Trees at the Imperial Summer Palace in Zhe-hol (modern Chengde), north-east of Beijing. The imperial audience took place at dawn, the hour when the emperor customarily showed himself to his subjects. The emperor arrived on a gilded palanquin carried by 16 men. Hundreds of courtiers, government officials, tributary princes and representatives of sovereigns were in attendance. The waiting Lord Macartney was dressed in a richly embroidered velvet suit and the habit of the Order of the Bath. His cloak was carried by his page, 12-year-old George Thomas Staunton. At the boy’s side stood his father George Staunton (the elder) in full court dress wearing the robes of a Doctor of Law. The audience, presentation and banquet lasted a full 5 hours.

‘Kubla Khan’ and British Chinoiserie


Figure 12.2  The Approach of the Emperor of China to the Tent in Tartary. Illustration by William Alexander, as published in An Authentic Account, 1797. © British Library.

When the delegation arrived at Zhe-hol, they were impressed by the wild mountain scenery of Chinese Tartary, but above all by the beauty of the Garden of Ten Thousand Trees at the Royal Summer Palace. On 15 September 1793, Macartney writes in his journal that the eastern part of the ‘Ten Thousand Tree Garden’ of the Royal Summer Palace at Zhe-hol is ‘extremely beautiful’ and an ‘enchanted place’. He admires the beauty of the lake, surrounded, as it is, by a variety of trees complemented by the skilful arrangement of towers and ornamental architecture. Soon after, in his journal entry for 17 September, he introduces the west side of the ‘Ten Thousand Tree Garden’, which, he says, stands in stark contrast to the other (or east) side, and possesses all the sublime beauties of nature. He continues: In many places immense woods, chiefly oaks, pines and chestnuts, grow upon almost perpendicular steeps and force their sturdy roots through every resistance of surface, and of soil, where vegetation would seem almost impossible. These woods often clamber over the loftiest pinnacles of the stony hills, or gathering on the skirts of them, descend with a rapid sweep, and bury themselves in the deepest valleys . . . a cataract tumbling from above, raging with foam, and rebounding with a thousand echoes from below or silently engulphed in a gloomy pool or yawning chasm. (Macartney, 1962, p. 132, emphasis mine)


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

This passage from Macartney’s journal exquisitely corresponds to the following part of Coleridge’s ‘Kubla Khan’. But oh that deep romantic chasm which slanted Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething, As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing, A mighty fountain momently was forced: Amid whose swift half-intermitted Burst Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail: Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail: And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever It flung up momently the sacred river. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Then reached the caverns measureless to men, And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean. (‘Kubla Khan’, PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 513, ll. 12–28, emphasis mine)

The deep and steep valleys covered with conifers such as cedars and pines; the streams and other bodies of water full of energy and motion; the latter’s being engulfed and sinking into ‘a gloomy pool’ or ‘a lifeless ocean’: all these features of Macartney’s ‘Ten Thousand Tree Garden’ reappear in Kubla’s landscaped garden. Indeed, they strikingly correspond, sharing the same sublime beauties. The narratives describing these two landscape gardens develop along similar lines. In both Macartney’s journal and ‘Kubla Khan’, we find the words ‘deep’ and ‘chasm’. The distinctive use of the word ‘rebounding’ in line 21 of ‘Kubla Khan’ is most striking when compared to the instance of the same word in Macartney’s journal. Through contact with the Chinese and with China, the members of the embassy could claim to have gained firsthand knowledge. The reports and accounts produced after the embassy returned to Britain differ in kind from the Continental writing – almost exclusively from the pens of the Jesuits – that had been the main source of European views about China. Jesuit descriptions offer a kind of ‘dreamland’ China, and are more positive and sympathetic. The embassy’s journals and travel accounts have a practical point of view, aiming to observe, record and report secular objects as they are. Macartney, especially, has

‘Kubla Khan’ and British Chinoiserie


a sharp insight into Chinese government and society. He notes the difference between the Manchus and the Chinese. The Manchus, in his mind, were foreign rulers who had established a tyranny whereby a handful of men governed ‘more than three hundred millions of Chinese’. Although Macartney praises the government through which four successive Manchu emperors managed to stabilize the empire despite this imbalance, the Chinese had suffered under their rule. He points out that every Chinese with aspirations had to attach himself to a Tartar. Now, however, the Chinese had begun to ‘feel their native energies revive’. It was thus only a matter of time before the Chinese would rise against their Tartar tyrants. And yet, if this were to take the form of a violent revolution, a new catastrophe would await them. Macartney thought it possible that the Qing dynasty would collapse during his own lifetime. In my researches I often perceived the ground to be hollow under a vast superstructure . . . (the Chinese) are now awaking from the political stupor they had been thrown into by the Tartar impression, and begin to feel their native energies revive. A slight collision might elicit fire from the flint, and spread flames of revolt from one extremity of China to the other. In fact the volume of the empire is now grown too ponderous and disproportionate to be easily grasped by a single hand, be it ever so capacious and strong . . . I should not be surprised if its dislocation or dismemberment were to take place before my own dissolution. (1962, p. 239)

Kubla, in Coleridge’s poem, hears, amid the tumult of waters sinking to ‘a lifeless ocean’, ‘Ancestral voices prophesying war’. A war that ancestral voices prophesy is the archetype for a war undertaken to tear down despotic rulers. ‘Ancestral voices’ would call for a war to liberate people from despotism and tyranny, and to overturn any given ancien régime in world history. In the Authentic Account, Staunton’s description of the Imperial Gardens in Beijing sounds a disapproving and critical note, with important implications for what might be called the politics of the Chinese garden: mountains and vallies, lakes and rivers, rude precipices and gentler slopes, have been produced where nature did not intend them . . . this world, in miniature, has been created at the command, and for the pleasure of one man, but by the hard labour of thousands. (1797, vol. 2, p. 303)

The Chinese garden described here symbolizes oriental despotism and tyranny.


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

Geopolitics of the Chinese garden In his Lectures 1795: On Politics and Religion, Coleridge severely criticizes the regulations on speech imposed by the government of William Pitt the younger. He suggests that ministers serving King George III rival oriental despots in the ‘kowtowing’ subservience they demand. I have read, I think, that in some eastern courts the Ambassadors from Europe have their arms pinioned while they speak to the Despot. Our ministers faithful to despotism, intend to improve on the hint, and no man who sets forth a grievance (and who is therefore properly an Ambassador from the people) must speak to his Majesty unless in handcuffs and fetters. (Lects 1795, p. 294)

The ‘Two Bills’, the Treason Bill and the Convention Bill, were intended to curtail the freedom to meet to discuss political matters and to extend the legal definition of treason. These bills were passed in December 1795 into the Seditious Meetings Act and the Treason Act, popularly known as the ‘Gagging Acts’ (Watchman, pp. 5, 199–201, 344–5, 386–90).9 Pitt’s government prohibited all speech and printed materials that might be construed as criticizing the prevailing political system. Coleridge gave his ‘Lecture on the Two Bills’ on 26 November 1795 in opposition to the new repressive measures of Pitt’s government. He criticizes this ‘Tory’ legislation for being extremely despotic, regarding the ministers faithful to George III as exacting from any ‘ambassador’ with a grievance against the state a ritual submission that recalls the ritual of the ‘kowtow’ expected by Eastern emperors. In a lecture delivered on 11 April 1796, Coleridge refers to the Chinese canal system, contrasting the Chinese economy with that of Britain: If we would behold a picture of canals, and the effects of canals, we must turn our eyes to China. China, perforated in every place by canals, and flourishing in internal commerce, is indifferent to that of the world; a reflection that naturally unites, in a native of this isle, at this time, ideas of apprehension, with sentiments of consolation. . . . The formation of canals and roads, carried to a due extent, would render Britain to Europe what China is to Asia. (Watchman, p. 223)

This lecture was delivered in 1796, one year before Coleridge wrote ‘Kubla Khan’. And in it he insists that overpopulation in British cities, and excessively industrialized, exploitative systems of labour, might be ameliorated or even eliminated by perforating the nation with canals. He hopes that Britain would be

‘Kubla Khan’ and British Chinoiserie


respected in Europe as a self-sufficient nation flourishing by means of internal commerce. Coleridge severely criticizes the imperialistic and commercial expansionism of his own country. The rapid increase in consumption of tea imported from China particularly concerned Coleridge. In ‘Fears in Solitude’, written in April 1798, Coleridge lamented the ‘most tyrannous’ crimes Britain had perpetrated ‘from east to west’ through the slave trade. We have offended, Oh! My countrymen! We have offended very grievously, And been most tyrannous. From east to west A groan of accusation pierces Heaven! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ev’n so, my countrymen! have we gone forth And borne to distant tribes slavery and pangs, And, deadlier far, our vices, whose deep taint With slow perdition murders the whole man, His body and his soul! Meanwhile, at home, All individual dignity and power Engulph’d in Courts, Committees, Institutions, Associations and Societies, A vain, speech-mouthing, speech-reporting Guild, One BENEFIT-CLUB for mutual flattery, We have drunk up, demure as at a grace, Pollutions from the brimming cup of wealth; Contemptuous of all honorable rule . . . (‘Fears in Solitude’, PW, vol. 1, part 1, p. 471, ll. 42–5, 50–64, emphasis mine)

The poet denounces British imperialism and colonialism abroad, which had cost millions of lives, and he exposes what he regards as a pretentious sophistication at home. Britons drank tea imported from China, sweetening it with sugar cultivated in the plantations of the West Indies by slaves. Global commerce was closely interwoven with slavery. Tea-drinking became popular even among the ordinary people from the late eighteenth to the early nineteenth century in Britain, and, for Coleridge, each individual who had the ‘graceful habit’ of drinking tea inextricably involved himself or herself in the far-flung crimes of the British empire. In the Morning Post, 3 January 1800, Coleridge writes: ‘The French tolerate Atheism and Deism; the Emperor of China tolerates both, and Idolatry to boot –


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

and yet we send flattering Embassies to him’ (EOT, vol. 1, p. 70). Coleridge’s disillusion with France and China deepens around the year 1800, and he is clearly aware of the British embassy to the Chinese Emperor. He wearied of the foreign policy of his own country, presumably after learning of the details of it through travel records such as the account produced by the Macartney embassy. The Prince Regent (later King George IV) expressed his first interest in chinoiserie when he had Henry Holland install a Chinese drawing-room in Carlton House in 1792, the year the first British embassy to China left Britain. However, the chinoiserie on display there was mainly French-inspired. After the embassy returned, the Prince decided to remodel the Royal Pavilion in Brighton in a different, newer style of chinoiserie, with more authentic images based on the ethnographical paintings of William Alexander, the draftsman of the embassy. The new images, which purported to show the ‘manners of the people’, decorated the Ante-Room and the Small drawing Room. Some life-size statues were adorned with Chinese costumes, and genuine Chinese wallpaper was used. In addition, the rooms boasted an abundance of Chinese-made furniture and other curiosities. Here, indeed, was the expression of a truly British chinoiserie. The Chinese style served the Prince Regent as a setting in which he could imagine himself as a powerful monarch – much like the Chinese Emperor Qianlong. In this context, the China rendered through chinoiserie became more politicized, representing dangerously excessive and absolutist tendencies, much as the Bourbon Court had done before the Revolution. The Prince Regent was instrumental in the construction of a pagoda bridge in St James’s Park (cf. Figure 12.3) as part of the 1814 centenary celebrations of the Hanoverian dynasty. But the bridge burned down almost immediately upon its completion when it was imprudently employed in the staging of a fireworks display. This notable event might well have inspired Coleridge to publish ‘Kubla Khan’ in 1816, some 20 years after he composed it. The Prince Regent further drew upon the new chinoiserie in the construction of a Fishing Temple (cf. Figure 12.4) at Virginia Water in Surrey (c.1825). The lake was a place of pageantry and spectacle: a Chinese junk floated on its waters, and various follies and temples associated with angling graced its shores. The new British chinoiserie was not restricted to royal circles.10 The Chinese House at Wotton, Buckinghamshire (now at Stowe), was repainted in the Regency chinoiserie style in the 1820s; at about the same time a chinoiserie garden room was built nearby in Dropmore. This British chinoiserie persisted into the early Victorian period. Queen Victoria resurrected some of the Royal

‘Kubla Khan’ and British Chinoiserie


Figure 12.3  Chinese Pagoda and Bridge, in St. James’s Park. © British Museum.

Figure 12.4  The Fishing Temple at Virginia Water, as depicted in an aquatint, after the original watercolour by William Daniell, 1829. © Crown copyright: UK Government Art Collection.


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

Pavilion interiors at Buckingham Palace, and in the 1840s a remarkable ‘China’ garden was created at Biddulph Grange, Staffordshire. For the radical Coleridge of the 1790s, the oriental garden in ‘Kubla Khan’ overlaps (so to speak) with the British monarchy, which was itself supported by Pitt’s repressive government that curtailed freedom of speech and of the press in response to events in France. Coleridge follows the aesthetic structure of the Chinese garden in the poem ‘Kubla Khan’, superimposing, one over another, the Tartar Kubla’s dynasty, the Tartar Qing dynasty and the British empire. ‘Ancestral voices prophesying war’ haunt the poem, as if revealing and denouncing the menace of despotism and political tyranny in the expanding British empire. Here we should bear in mind the so-called gagging acts, which restricted the size of public meetings and the right of free speech, and the further repressive measures which followed them. The ‘two bills’  – subsequently passed into law as the Seditious Meetings Act and the Treason Act – were introduced in the 1790s, and the series culminated in the ‘Six Acts of 1819’. The laws were designed to control radical political activity. Working under the pressure of these acts, Coleridge camouflaged (or disguised) his deeper intentions by adding a preface to the 1816 edition of the poem, and by positioning his ‘China’ partly in the realm of fairy tales and partly under the rubric of oriental despotism. Even so, the poem provided a perfect vehicle for suggesting how removed the Prince and his circle were from the real needs of his nation (a circumstance hardly improved by the Prince Regent’s coronation as King George IV in 1820). Among the various accounts and reports produced by the Macartney embassy, Barrow’s Travels in China, published in 1804, marks a newer, nineteenth-century attitude.11 Regarding Staunton’s Authentic Account as ‘bland’, Barrow represents a severer criticism of the institutions, governments, society and people of China. He reports that he attempted to discover ‘the point of rank which China may be considered to hold in the scale of civilized nations’ based on the natural history paradigm, and claimed that his own conclusions are objective and ‘unbiassed’. Barrow’s picture of a China burdened with an unjust, tyrannical government, and founded on fear and ‘extreme poverty and hopeless indigence’, would become the orthodox British view of China, leading directly to the Opium Wars later in the nineteenth century and to Lord Elgin’s destruction of the Summer Palace in 1860. This transformation in attitudes towards China seems to be reflected in Coleridge’s later writings, which speak of ‘the vapid improgressive empire of China’ (Lects 1818–19, vol. 1, p. 346), and which tell us that ‘China was an instance of permanency without any progression’ (TT, vol. 1, pp. 28–9).

‘Kubla Khan’ and British Chinoiserie


For Coleridge in 1797, the year he wrote ‘Kubla Khan’, the Chinese garden points not simply to an aesthetic taste for chinoiserie, but to a type of garden associated with the despotism both of Qianlong and of the British government and monarchy. The politics of the Chinese garden emerging from Chambers’ Dissertation on Oriental Gardening, and the recent Macartney travelogues, give geopolitical significance to Kubla’s garden. The Chinese garden represents, here, an Asiatic dream, a false paradise of leisure that prevents a king from taking up his proper role within a constitutional monarchy. The allegory had immediate reference, I would suggest, to British and Continental politics. In short, the reader may find in ‘Kubla Khan’ a fitting, if oblique, indictment of the illegitimate (i.e. despotic) political style of the garden’s owner, offered up in print even as the fate of all of Europe hung in the balance. I have resituated Kubla’s garden in the 1790s when the politically radical Coleridge delivered his ‘Lecture on the Slave Trade’ (1795), composed his ‘Ode to the Departing Year’ (1796) and also ‘Fears in Solitude’ (1798). This repositioning of the poem makes clear the ideological terrain of ‘Kubla Khan’ and highlights the poet’s uncompromising stance on British imperialism. The aesthetic beauty of the Chinese garden in ‘Kubla Khan’ is transitory and passing, threatened, as it is, with ‘voices prophesying war’. The poem compels us to recall the contemporary devotion to the aesthetics of the Chinese garden, as informed by eighteenth-century British chinoiserie, and at the same time alerts us to the dangerous and unstable elements lurking within it and haunting it. Intervening in the transition of British views of China in the late 1790s, and superimposing on the British empire an oriental one, Coleridge reveals, in ‘Kubla Khan’, the multilayered meanings of empire and also shows us what a false dream empire can be.

Notes 1 2 3 4

Leask’s (1998) study in this field is quite inspiring and important. The background of the British chinoiserie is discussed in Hillemann (2009). Important studies in this area are Lovejoy (1948) and Kitson (2007). Chambers’ Dissertation was attacked and satirized by the Whig landscape poet William Mason in An Heroick Epistle to Sir William Chambers in 1773. The political background of the Mason-Chambers debate is discussed by Stephen Bending in Sharpe and Zwicker (1998). 5 For the background to this event, see Fulford and Kitson (2001). 6 For the details of the scientific apparatus in the embassy, see especially Cranmer-Byng and Levere (1981).


Coleridge, Romanticism and the Orient

7 The Chinese artist has not depicted the scene from personal observation as the Europeans are shown in sixteenth-century costume and the two instruments depicted were part of the equipment of the Jesuit Observatory in Peking. The Emperor’s poem in the corner reads: ‘Formerly Portugal presented tribute; Now England is paying homage. They have out-travelled Shu-hai and Heng-chang; My Ancestors’ merit and virtue must have reached their distant shores. Though their tribute is commonplace, my heart approves sincerely. Curios and the boasted ingenuity of their devices I prize not. Though what they bring is meagre, yet, In my kindness to men from afar I make generous return, Wanting to preserve my prestige and power.’ [The translation of the Emperor’s poem by National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.] 8 Fa-Ti Fan’s study of the encounter between the British culture of the naturalist and the Chinese culture of the Ching is important in this field. 9 The chief objects of Coleridge’s Watchman, published in 1796, were ‘to co-operate (1) with the WHIG CLUB in procuring a repeal of Lord Grenville’s and Mr. Pitt’s bills, now passed into laws, and (2) with the PATRIOTIC SOCIETIES, for obtaining a Right of Suffrage general and frequent’ (Watchman, p. 5). ‘The two Acts, passed into law 18 Dec 1795, were (1) the Treasonable Practices (or Treason) Bill, which made treasonable the stirring-up by speech or writing of hatred of king or constitution, and (2) the Seditious Meetings (or Convention) Bill, which empowered magistrates to disperse political meetings of fifty persons or more’ (Watchman, p. 5n). Regarding the gagging acts, see An Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age (p. 516). 10 Chinese wallpaper was also popular at this time, as can still be seen in Regency-period rooms at, for instance, Temple Newsam, Burton Constable, Chatsworth, Belvoir Castle, Middleton Park, Endsleigh Cottage, Tregothnan, Penrhyn Castle and Belton House. At Alton Towers, Staffordshire, the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Earls of Shrewsbury built an amazing pagoda fountain in the late 1820s and early 1830s. See Archive for the ‘Chinoiserie’ Category, Treasure Hunt in National Trust, 2010, which introduces nationwide examples of British chinoiserie during the Regency. 11 Robert Southey reviewed Barrow’s Travels in China with appreciation in Annual Review, 3 (1804).

Bibliography Abrams, Meyer Howard (1971a), The Milk of Paradise: The Effect of Opium Visions on the Works of De Quincey, Crabbe, Francis Thompson, and Coleridge. New York: Octagon. — (1971b), Natural Supernaturalism: Tradition and Revolution in Romantic Literature. New York: Norton. Allsop, Thomas (1864), Letters, Conversations and Recollections of S. T. Coleridge. 2nd edn. London: Farrah. Almeida, Hermione de, and Gilpin, George H. (2005), Indian Renaissance: British Romantic Art and the Prospect of India. Aldershot: Ashgate. Anderson, Aeneas (1795), A Narrative of the British Embassy to China in the Years 1792, 1793, and 1794: Containing the Various Circumstances of the Embassy, with Accounts of Customs and Manners of the Chinese; and a Description of the Country, Towns, Cities, &c. Basel: J. J. Tourneisen. The Annual Anthology (1799–1800), 2 vols. Bristol: Longman and Rees. The Arabian Nights (1990), Trans. H. Haddaway. New York: W. W. Norton. Aristotle (1984), Metaphysics, in Jonathan Barnes (ed.), The Complete Works of Aristotle, 2 vols. Princeton: Princeton University Press, vol. 2, pp. 1552–1728. Auden, Wystan Hugh (1951), The Enchafèd Flood, or, The Romantic Iconography of the Sea. London: Faber. Austen, Jane (2003), Mansfield Park. Ed. Jane Stabler. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Barnes, Jonathan (2001), Early Greek Philosophy. New York: Penguin. Barrell, John (1991), The Infection of Thomas De Quincey: A Psychopathology of Imperialism. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Barrow, John (1804), Travels in China: Containing Descriptions, Observations and Comparisons Made and Collected in the Course of a Short Residence at the Imperial Palace of Yuen-min-yuen, and on a Subsequent Journey from Pekin to Canton. London: T. Cadell and W. Davies. — (1807), Some Account of the Public Life, and a Selection from the Unpublished Writings, of the Earl of Macartney. 2 vols. London: T. Cadell and W. Davies. — (1817), ‘Journal of the Proceedings of the Late Embassy to China’ [Review], Quarterly Review, vol. 34, pp. 464–505. Beer, John (1959), Coleridge the Visionary. London: Chatto & Windus. — (1971), ‘Coleridge and Poetry: I. Poems of the Supernatural’, in R. L. Brett (ed.), S. T. Coleridge. London: Bell, pp. 45–90. — (1977), Coleridge’s Poetic Intelligence. London: Macmillan.



— (1985), ‘The Languages of Kubla Khan’, in Richard Gravil, Lucy Newlyn and Nicholas Roe (eds), Coleridge’s Imagination. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Beiser, Frederick (2003), The Romantic Imperative: The Concept of Early German Romanticism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Berkeley, Richard (2007), Coleridge and the Crisis of Reason. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Bernier, François (1891), Travels in the Mogul Empire. Translated from the French by Irving Brock in Two Volumes. Calcutta: R. C. Lepage. Berridge, Virginia, and Edwards, Griffith (1981), Opium and the People: Opiate Use in Nineteenth-Century England. London: Allen Lane. Bewell, Alan (1999), Romanticism and Colonial Disease. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. The Bhagvat-Geeta, or Dialogues of Kreeshna and Arjoon (1785), Trans. Charles Wilkins. London. Bloom, Harold (1970), ‘The Internalization of the Quest Romance’, in Harold Bloom (ed.), Romanticism and Consciousness: Essays in Criticism. New York: W. W. Norton, pp. 3–23. — (1973), The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry. New York: Oxford University Press Bowles, William Lisle (1804), The Spirit of Discovery; or, The Conquest of Ocean. A Poem in Five Books. London: T. Cadell and W. Davies. Brice, Ben (2007), Coleridge and Scepticism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ‘Buonaparte’s Arrival at St. Helena’ (1815), The Times, Issue 9699, 8 December. The Times Digital Archive, A698. Burke, Edmund (1958), A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. Ed. J. T Boulton. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Burkert, Walter (2008), ‘Prehistory of Presocratic Philosophy in an Orientalizing Context’, in Patricia Curd and Daniel W. Graham (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Presocratic Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 55–88. Butler, Marilyn (1982), Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries. English Literature and Its Background 1760–1830. New York: Oxford University Press. Byron, George Gordon, Lord (1980–93), The Complete Poetical Works. Ed. Jerome J. McGann and Barry Weller. 7 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press. — (1991), ‘The Blues, a Literary Eclogue’, in Jerome J. McGann and Barry Weller (eds), The Complete Poetical Works. 7 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, vol. 6, pp. 296–308. Chambers, William (1773), Dissertation on Oriental Gardening, . . . To Which Is added, An Heroic Epistle, in Answer to Sir William Chambers. Dublin: W. Wilson. Charpentier, John (1929), Coleridge: The Sublime Somnambulist. Trans. M. V. Nugent. London: Constable. Christensen, Jerome (1981), Coleridge’s Blessed Machine of Language. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Clark, Steve, and Suzuki, Masashi (eds) (2006), The Reception of Blake in the Orient. London: Continuum.



Clarke, John James (1997), Oriental Enlightenment: The Encounter between Asian and Western Thought. London and New York: Routledge. Coffman, R. J. (1987), Coleridge’s Library: A Bibliography of Books Owned or Read by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Boston: G. K. Hall. Cohen, Matthew Isaac (2009), ‘British Performances of Java, 1811–1822’, South East Asia Research, vol. 17, pp. 87–109. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor (1817), Sibylline Leaves. A Collection of Poems. London: Rest Fenner. — (1912), The Complete Poetical Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Including Poems and Versions of Poems now Published for the First Time. Ed. E. H. Coleridge. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press. — (1956–71), Collected Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Ed. E. L. Griggs. 6 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press. — (1957–2002), The Notebooks of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Ed. Kathleen Coburn, Merton Christensen and Anthony John Harding. 5 vols. London: Routledge. — (1969), The Friend. Ed. Barbara E. Rooke. 2 vols. The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. 4. Princeton: Princeton University Press. — (1970), The Watchman. Ed. Lewis Patton. The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. 2. Princeton: Princeton University Press. — (1971a), Coleridge’s Verse: A Selection. Ed. William Empson and David Pirie. London: Faber. — (1971b), Lectures (1795) On Politics and Religion. Ed. Lewis Patton and Peter Mann. The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. 1. Princeton: Princeton University Press. — (1972), Lay Sermons. Ed. R. J. White. The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. 6. Princeton: Princeton University Press. — (1976), On the Constitution of the Church and State. Ed. John Colmer. The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. 10. Princeton: Princeton University Press. — (1977), Essays on His Times in ‘The Morning Post’ and ‘The Courier’. Ed. David V. Erdman. 3 vols. The Collected Works Of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. 3. Princeton: Princeton University Press. — (1980–2001), Marginalia. Ed. George Whalley et al. 6 vols. The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. 12. Princeton: Princeton University Press. — (1981), Logic. Ed. J. R. de J. Jackson. The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. 13. Princeton: Princeton University Press. — (1983), Biographia Literaria. Ed. James Engell and W. Jackson Bate. 2 vols. The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. 7. Princeton: Princeton University Press. — (1987), Lectures 1808–19 On Literature. Ed. R. A. Foakes. 2 vols. The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. 5. Princeton: Princeton University Press. — (1990), Table Talk. Ed. Carl Woodring. 2 vols. The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. 14. Princeton: Princeton University Press.



— (1993), Aids to Reflection. Ed. John Beer. The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge Collected Works. Vol. 9. Princeton: Princeton University Press. — (1994), ‘Kubla Khan’, in Jack Stillinger, Coleridge and Textual Instability: The Multiple Versions of the Major Poems. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 185–8. — (1995), Shorter Works and Fragments. Ed. H. J. Jackson and J. R. de J. Jackson. 2 vols. The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. 11. Princeton: Princeton University Press. — (1999), Poems. Ed. John Beer. Rev. edn. London: Everyman’s Library. — (2000), Lectures 1818–19 On the History of Philosophy. Ed. J. R. de J. Jackson. 2 vols. The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. 8. Princeton: Princeton University Press. — (2001), Poetical Works. Ed. J. C. C. Mays. 3 vols in 6 parts. The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. 16. Princeton: Princeton University Press. — (2002), Opus Maximum. Ed. Thomas McFarland. The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. 15. Princeton: Princeton University Press. — (2004), Coleridge’s Poetry and Prose. Ed. Nicholas Halmi, Paul Magnuson and Raimonda Modiano. New York: W. W. Norton. Colley, Linda (2003), Captives: Britain, Empire and the World 1600–1850. London: Pimlico. — (2009), Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707–1837. London: Pimlico. Colman, George (1822), The Laws of Java: A Play, in Three Acts. London: W. Simpkin and R. Marshall. Cowper, William (1788), The Poems of William Cowper. Ed. John D. Baird and Charles Ryskamp (1980–95). 3 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Cranmer-Byng, John L., and Levere, Trevor H. (1981), ‘A Case Study in Cultural Collision: Scientific Apparatus in the Macartney Embassy to China, 1793’, Annals of Science, vol. 38, pp. 503–25. Daniell, Thomas (1795–7), Oriental Scenery. Twenty Four Views in Hindoostan Drawn and Engraved by Thomas Daniell, and with Permission Respectfully Dedicated to the Honorable Court of Directors of the East India Company London. London. Derrida, Jacques (1982), ‘White Mythology: Metaphor in the Text of Philosophy’, in Margins of Philosophy. Trans. Alan Bass. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 207–72. Doak, Kevin Michael (1994), Dreams of Difference: The Japan Romantic School and the Crisis of Modernity. Berkeley: University of California Press. Drew, John (1987), India and the Romantic Imagination. Delhi: Oxford University Press. Dubois, J. A. (1817), A Description of the Character, Manners, and Customs of the People of India. London: Longman. Eilenberg, Susan (1992), Strange Power of Speech: Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Literary Possession. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Eliot, Sir Charles (1921), Hinduism and Buddhism: An Historical Sketch. 3 vols. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.



Ellis, Henry (1817), Journal of the Proceedings of the Late Embassy to China. London: John Murray. Empson, William (1935), Some Versions of Pastoral. London: Chatto and Windus. — (1951), The Structure of Complex Words. London: Chatto and Windus. — (1953), ‘Answers to Comments’, Essays in Criticism, vol. 3, pp. 114–20. — (1965), Milton’s God. Rev. edn. London: Chatto and Windus. — (1987), Argufying: Essays on Literature and Culture. Ed. John Haffenden. London: Chatto and Windus. — (2000), The Complete Poems of William Empson. Ed. John Haffenden. London: Allen Lane. — (2006), Selected Letters of William Empson. Ed. John Haffenden. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Engell, James (ed.) (1994), Coleridge: The Early Family Letters. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Erdman, David V. (1969), Blake: Prophet Against Empire. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Fairer, David (2011), ‘Coleridge, Wordsworth and the Creative Fancy’, The Coleridge Bulletin, New Series, vol. 37, pp. 1–20. Fan, Fa-ti (2004), British Naturalists in Qing China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Fang, Karen (2010), Romantic Writing and the Empire of Signs: Periodical Culture and Post-Napoleonic Authorship. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press. Fay, Elizabeth (2010), ‘Hallucinogesis: Thomas De Quincey’s Mind Trips’, Studies in Romanticism, vol. 49, no. 2, pp. 293–312. Ford, Susan Allen (2008), ‘Fanny’s “Great Book”: Macartney’s Embassy to China and Mansfield Park’, Persuasions On-Line, vol. 28, no. 2. on-line/vol228no2/ford.htm Förster, Eckart (2012), The Twenty-Five Years of Philosophy: A Systematic Reconstruction. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Franklin, Caroline (1998), ‘“Some Samples of the Finest Orientalism”: Byronic Philhellenism and Proto-Zionism at the Time of the Congress of Vienna’, in Tim Fulford and Peter J. Kitson (eds), Romanticism and Colonialism: Writing and Empire, 1780–1830. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 221–42. Fulford, Tim (2006), ‘Plants, Pagodas, and Penises: Southey’s Oriental Imports’, in Lynda Pratt (ed.), Robert Southey and the Contexts of English Romanticism. Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 187–201. — (2008), ‘Coleridge and the Oriental Tale’, in Saree Makdisi and Felicity Nussbaum (eds), The Arabian Nights in Historical Context: Between East and West. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 213–34. Fulford, Tim, and Kitson, Peter J. (eds) (1998), Romanticism and Colonialism: Writing and Empire, 1780–1830. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. — (eds) (2001), Southeast Asia. Travels, Explorations and Empire: Writings from the Era of Imperial Expansion 1770–1835, vol. 1. London: Pickering and Chatto.



Gelber, Harry G. (2008), China and the Foreign Devils: China and the World, 1100 BC to the Present. London: Bloomsbury. Genette, Gérard (1997), Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation. Trans. J. E. Lewin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Gethin, Rupert (1998), The Foundations of Buddhism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Gill, Stephen (1989), William Wordsworth: A Life. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Gillray, James (1792), The Reception of the Diplomatique & His Suite at the Court of Pekin. London: H. Humphrey. Grant, A. (1988), ‘The Genie and the Albatross: Coleridge and the Arabian Nights’, in P. L. Caracciolo (ed.), The ‘Arabian Nights’ in English Literature: Studies in the Reception of the ‘Thousand and One Nights’ into British Culture. Basingstoke: Macmillan, pp. 111–29. Guyer, Paul (2003), ‘History of Modern Aesthetics’, in Jerrold Levinson (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 25–59. — (2005), Values of Beauty: Historical Chapters in Aesthetics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. — (2010), Kant on Freedom, Law, and Happiness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Haffenden, John (2005), William Empson: Among the Mandarins. Oxford: Oxford University Press. — (2006), William Empson: Against the Christians. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Halmi, Nicholas (2007), The Genealogy of the Romantic Symbol. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hamilton, Albert Charles (ed.) (1990), The Spenser Encyclopedia. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Hamilton, Paul (2007), Coleridge and German Philosophy: The Poet in the Land of Logic. London: Continuum, 2007. Hardy, Robert Spence (2003), A Manual of Buddhism (1853). Whitefish, MT: Kessinger. Harvey, Peter (1990), An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hayter, Alethea (1968), Opium and the Romantic Imagination. London: Faber. Hearn, Lafcadio (1922), Interpretations of Literature. Ed. John Erskine. 2 vols. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company. Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich (1975), Aesthetics. Trans. T. M. Knox. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Herschel, William (1785), ‘On the Construction of the Heavens’, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, vol. 75, pp. 213–66. — (1789), ‘Catalogue of a Second Thousand of New Nebulae and Clusters of Stars: With a Few Introductory Remarks on the Construction of the Heavens’, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, vol. 79, pp. 212–55. Hevia, James L. (1995), Cherishing Men from Afar: Qing Guest Ritual and the Macartney Embassy. Durham NC: Duke University Press.



— (2004), English Lessons: The Pedagogy of Imperialism in Nineteenth-Century China. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. — (2009), ‘“The Ultimate Gesture of Deference and Debasement”: Kowtowing in China’, Past and Present, vol. 203, pp. 212–34. Hillemann, Ulrike (2009), Asian Empire and British Knowledge: China and the Networks of British Imperial Expansion. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Hinaz, Konosuke (1929), ‘Ahoudori to Ōgarasu to Hato to’ [‘The Albatross, the Raven, and the Dove’], Eigo-Kenkyu, vol. 22, no. 4 (April), pp. 368–70, 379. — (1939), Bi-no-Shisai: Jon Kiitsu ga Ōdo no Sousaku Shinri Katei no Kenkyuu [The Priest of Beauty: A Study of the Psychological Process of John Keats’s Composition of Odes]. Tokyo: Sanseido. — (1940–1), Igirisu Roman Shocho Shifu [The Poetical Style of English Romanticism and Symbolism]. 2 vols. Tokyo: Hakusuisha. — (1949), Kindai Eibei Shishu [Modern English and American Poems]. Tokyo: Koyama Shoten. — (1973–8), Hinaz Kounosuke Zenshu [The Works of Hinaz Konosuke]. 8 vols. Tokyo: Kawade Shobō Shinsha. Hodges, William (1786), Select Views in India, Drawn on the Spot, in the Years 1780, 1781, 1782, and 1783, and Executed in Aqua Tinta. London: J. Edwards. — (1787), Dissertation Sur Les Prototypes De L’Architecture, Indienne, Moresque, Et Gothique [A Dissertation on the Prototypes of Architecture, Hindoo, Moorish, and Gothic]. London. — (1793), Travels in India, during the Years 1780, 1781, 1782, & 1783. London. Holmes, Richard (1989), Coleridge: Early Visions. London: HarperCollins. — (1998), Coleridge: Darker Reflections. London: HarperCollins. Hubback, John Henry, and Hubback, Edith C. (1906), Jane Austen’s Sailor Brothers: Being the Adventures of Sir Francis Austen, GCB, Admiral of the Fleet and Rear-Admiral Charles Austen. London: John Lane. Hunt, James Henry Leigh (1834), ‘The Subject of Breakfast Continued – Tea Drinking’, London Journal, vol. 9, pp. 113–14. Inalcik, Halil, and Quataert, Donald (eds) (1997), An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Inge, W. R. (1923), The Philosophy of Plotinus. 2 vols. London: Longman. Jackson, H. J. (2002), Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books. New Haven: Yale University Press. Jaimoukha, Amjad (2001), The Circassians: A Handbook. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon Press. Janaway, Christopher (1999), ‘Introduction’, in Christopher Janaway (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Schopenhauer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1–17. Jeffrey, Francis (1802), Review of Robert Southey, Thalaba the Destroyer. Edinburgh Review, vol. 1, pp. 63–82. Reprinted in Lionel Madden (ed.), Robert Southey: The Critical Heritage. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972, pp. 68–90.



Johnson, Samuel (1974), The Poems of Samuel Johnson. Ed. David Nichol-Smith and Edward L. McAdam. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Jones, Sir William (1796), The Institutes of Hindu Law. London: Sewell, Cornhill & Debrett. — (1807), The Works of Sir William Jones. 13 vols. London: J. Stockdale. — (1995), Sir William Jones: Selected Poetical and Prose Works. Ed. Michael Franklin. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. Jones, Sir William, Chambers, William, Hastings, Warren, et al. (1792), Dissertations and Miscellaneous Pieces Relating to the History & Antiquities, the Arts, Sciences, and Literature of Asia. 2 vols. London: J. Nicol, J. Walter, and J Sewell. Kambara, Ariake (1922), Ariakeshishu [The Collected Poems of Ariake]. Tokyo: Arusu. Kant, Immanuel (1996), The Metaphysics of Morals, in Practical Philosophy. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant. Ed. and trans. Mary J. Gregor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 353–604. — (1998), Critique of Pure Reason. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant. Ed. and trans. Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. — (2000), Critique of the Power of Judgment. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant. Ed. and trans. Paul Guyer and Eric Matthews. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kato, Seiichi (2002), Kōbō Daishi·Kūkai wo yomu [Reading Kōbō Daishi Kūkai]. Tokyo: Daihourinkaku. Kaufman, P. (1924), ‘The Reading of Southey and Coleridge: The Record of Their Borrowings from the Bristol Library, 1793–98’, Modern Philology, vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 317–20. Keene, Donald (1984), Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature of the Modern Era: Poetry, Drama, Criticism. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Kitson, Peter J. (2007), Romantic Literature, Race, and Colonial Encounter. London: Palgrave Macmillan. — (2012), ‘Wordsworth, Opium, and China’, The Wordsworth Circle, vol. 43, no. 1. Knox-Shaw, P (1996), ‘Fanny Price Refuses to Kowtow’, Review of English Studies, vol. 47, pp. 212–17. Kūkai (1972), Kūkai, Major Works: Translated, with an Account of His Life and a Study of His Thought. Ed. and trans. Yoshito S. Hakeda. New York: Columbia University Press. — (1985), Sokushin Jōbutsugi [Attaining Enlightenment in This Very Existence]. Ed. and trans. Syuuyu Kanaoka. Tokyo: Taiyou Shuppan. Lamb, Charles, and Lamb, Mary (1975–8), The Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb. Ed. Edwin W. Marrs. 3 vols. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Leask, Nigel (1992), British Romantic Writers and the East: Anxieties of Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.



— (1998), ‘Kubla Khan and Orientalism: The Road to Xanadu Revisited’, Romanticism, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 1–21. — (2002), Curiosity and the Aesthetics of Travel Writing. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Levinson, Marjorie (2007), ‘A Motion and a Spirit: Romancing Spinoza’, Studies in Romanticism, vol. 46, no. 4, pp. 366–408. — (2010), ‘Of Being Numerous: Counting and Matching in Wordsworth’s Poetry’, Studies in Romanticism, vol. 49, no. 4, pp. 633–57. Lew, Joseph (1994), ‘“That Abominable Traffic”: Mansfield Park and the Dynamics of Slavery’, in Beth Fowkes Tobin (ed.), History, Gender and Eighteenth-Century Literature. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, pp. 271–300. Lloyd, Anthony C. (1990), The Anatomy of Neoplatonism. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Lovejoy, Arthur Oncken (1948), Essays in the History of Ideas. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins Press. Lowes, John Livingston (1927), The Road to Xanadu: A Study in the Ways of the Imagination. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. Macartney, George (1962), An Embassy to China: Being the Journal Kept by Lord Macartney During His Embassy to the Emperor Ch’ien-lung 1793–1794. Ed. J. L. Cranmer-Byng. London: Longmans. McCalman, Ian (ed.) (1999), An Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age: British Culture 1776–1832. Oxford: Oxford University Press. McFarland, Thomas (1969), Coleridge and the Pantheist Tradition. Oxford: Clarendon Press. McGann, Jerome, J. (1983), The Romantic Ideology: A Critical Investigation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. McKendrick, Neil, Brewer, John, and Plumb, John Harold (1982), The Birth of a Consumer Society: The Commercialization of Eighteenth-Century England. London: Europa Publications. MacLean, Gerald (2007), ‘Slavery and Sensibility: A Historical Dilemma’, in Brycchan Carey and Peter J. Kitson (eds), Slavery and the Cultures of Abolition: Essays Marking the Bicentennial of the British Abolition Act of 1807. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, pp. 173–94. Magnuson, Paul (1998), Reading Public Romanticism. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Majeed, Javed (1992), Ungoverned Imaginings: James Mill’s ‘The History of British India’ and Orientalism. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Makdisi, Saree (1998), Romantic Imperialism: Universal Empire and the Culture of Modernity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Malthus, Thomas Robert (1826), An Essay on the Principle of Population. 6th edn. 2 vols. London. — (1926), First Essay on Population, 1798. London: Macmillan. Marshall, P. J. (ed.) (1970), The British Discovery of Hinduism in the Eighteenth Century. London and New York: Cambridge University Press.



Maurice, Thomas (1795–98), The History of Hindostan: Its Arts, and Its Sciences, as Connected with the History of the Other Great Empires of Asia, during the Most Ancient Periods of the World. 2 vols. London. Moss, Sarah (2002), ‘“The Bounds of His Great Empire”: The Ancient Mariner and Coleridge at Christ’s Hospital’. Romanticism, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 49–61. Mottraye, Aubry de la (1723), Travels through Europe, Asia, and into Part of Africa, 2 vols. London. Muirhead, James H. (1930), Coleridge as Philosopher. London: Allen and Unwin. ‘Napoleon’s mind wasn’t on lessons’ (2011), Dominion Post, Thursday 2 June, p. B2. Natale, Antonella Riem (2005), The One Life. Jaipur: Rawat. National Maritime Museum (2012), [online] Available at [Accessed 23 June 2012]. National Trust (2010), Treasure Hunt: National Trust Collections. [online] Available at [Accessed 10 June 2011]. Newlyn, Lucy (2000), Reading, Writing, and Romanticism: The Anxiety of Reception. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Newton, Isaac (1846), ‘General Scholium’ (1729), in Newton’s Principia: The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. Trans. Andrew Motte. New York: Daniel Adee. — (2004), Philosophical Writings. Trans. Andrew Janikak. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Nicholls, Moira (1999), ‘The Influences of Eastern Thought on Schopenhauer’s Doctrine of the Thing-in-Itself ’, in Christopher Janaway (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Schopenhauer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 171–212. Niimi, Yasuko (2011), ‘Ryōgai Mandala no Sekai’ [‘The World of Two Worlds Mandalas’], Bessatsu Taiyo: Nihon no Kokoro [The Sun Special: The Spirit of Japan], vol. 187, pp. 116–41. Nokes, David (1997), Jane Austen: A Life. London: Fourth Estate. Ober, W. U. (1959), ‘Southey, Coleridge, and “Kubla Khan”’, Journal of English and Germanic Philology, vol. 58, no. 3, pp. 414–22. O’Neill, Michael (1997), Romanticism and the Self-Conscious Poem. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Orsini, G. N. G. (1969), Coleridge and German Idealism: A Study in the History of Philosophy with Unpublished Materials from Coleridge’s Manuscripts. Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press. Oshima, Shōtaro (1929), ‘Samuel Taylor Coleridge’, Eigo-Kenkyu, vol. 22, no. 4 (April), pp. 339–46. Paley, Morton D. (2008), Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the Fine Arts. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Park, You-Me, and Rajan, Rajeswari Sunder (eds) (2000), The Postcolonial Jane Austen. London: Routledge.



Parry, Charles H. (1799), MS Journal: Letters, 1796–1799. Bodleian MS Eng. misc.d.608 f 181r. Pater, Walter (1889), Appreciations, with an Essay on Style. London: Macmillan. Patocka, Jan (2002), Plato and Europe. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Pennington, Brian K. (2005), Was Hinduism Invented? Britons, Indians, and the Colonial Construction of Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Perry, Seamus (1999), Coleridge and the Uses of Division. Oxford: Clarendon Press. — (2007), ‘Coleridge’s English Afterlife’, in Elinor Shaffer and Edoardo Zuccato (eds), The Reception of S. T. Coleridge in Europe. London: Continuum, pp. 14–26. Petersen, William (1979), Malthus. London, Heinemann. Peyrefitte, Alain (1993), The Collision of Two Civilisations: The British Expedition to China 1792–4. London: Harvill, HarperCollins. Plotinus (1969), The Enneads. Trans. Stephen McKenna. London: Faber. Porter, David (2001), Ideographia: The Chinese Cipher in Early Modern Europe. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. — (2010), The Chinese Taste in Eighteenth-Century England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pratt, Lynda (ed.) (2006), Robert Southey and the Contexts of English Romanticism. Aldershot: Ashgate. Praz, Mario (1933), Romantic Agony. Trans. Angus Davidson. London: Oxford University Press. Price, Fiona (2009), Revolutions in Taste, 1773–1818: Women Writers and the Aesthetics of Romanticism. Farnham: Ashgate. Pritchard, Earl H. (1943), ‘The Kowtow in the Macartney Embassy in 1793’, Far East Quarterly, vol. 2, no. 2, 163–203. Quilley, Geoff, and Bonehill, John (2004), William Hodges 1744–1797: The Art of Exploration. Greenwich: National Maritime Museum. Radcliffe, Ann (1993), A Sicilian Romance. Ed. Alison Milbank. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Rennell, James (1792), Memoir of a Map of Hindoostan: Or the Mogul Empire. London. Richards, I. A. (1929), Practical Criticism: A Study of Literary Judgment. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner. Richardson, Alan, and Hofkosh, Sonia (eds) (1996), Romanticism, Race, and Imperial Culture, 1780–1834. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Roberts, Daniel Sanjiv (2006), ‘Beneath High Romanticism: “Southean” Orientations in De Quincey’, in Lynda Pratt (ed.), Robert Southey and the Contexts of English Romanticism. Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 37–48. Rodes, David (ed. and introd.) (1978), An Explanatory Discourse by Tan Chet-qua of Quang- chew-fu, Gent. (1773) with the Second Edition of Dissertation on Oriental Gardening. Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press. Russell, Gillian (2002), ‘Spouters or Washerwomen: The Sociability of Romantic Lecturing’, in Gillian Russell and Clara Tuite (eds), Romantic Sociability: Social



Networks and Literary Culture in Britain, 1770–1840. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 123–44. Saglia, Diego (2006), ‘Words and Things: Southey’s East and the Materiality of Oriental Discourse’, in Lynda Pratt (ed.), Robert Southey and the Contexts of English Romanticism. Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 167–86. Said, Edward W. (1978), Orientalism. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. — (1994), Culture and Imperialism. London: Vintage. Saito, Takeshi (1922), Eishikansho [Appreciation of English Poetry]. 2 vols. Tokyo: Kenkyusha. Saito, Takeshi, and Yamato, Yasuo (trans.) (1940), Koururiji Shishu [The Poetical Works of Coleridge]. Tokyo: Kobundo-shobo. Schelling, F. W. J. (1978), System of Transcendental Idealism, 1800. Trans. Peter Heath. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press. Schneider, Elisabeth (1966), Coleridge, Opium and ‘Kubla Khan’. New York: Octagon. Schopenhauer, Arthur (2010), The World as Will and Representation. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Schopenhauer. Vol. 1. Ed. and trans. Judith Norman, Alistair Welchman and Christopher Janaway. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Schwenger, Peter (1996), ‘Blake’s Boxes, Coleridge’s Circles, and the Frame of Romantic Vision’, Studies in Romanticism, vol. 35, no. 1, pp. 98–117. Sedlar, Jean W. (1982), India in the Mind of Germany: Schelling, Schopenhauer, and Their Times. Washington, DC: University Press of America. Shaffer, Elinor (1969), ‘Coleridge’s Theory of Aesthetic Interest’, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol. 27, pp. 399–408. — (1975), ‘Kubla Khan’ and the Fall of Jerusalem: The Mythological School in Biblical Criticism and Secular Literature, 1770–1880. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Shaftesbury, Earl of (A. A. Cooper) (1999), Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times. Ed. L. E. Klein. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Sharpe, Kevin, and Zwicker, Steven N. (eds) (1998), Refiguring Revolutions: Aesthetics and Politics from the English Revolution to the Romantic Revolution. Berkeley: University of California Press. Shelley, Percy Bysshe (2002), Shelley’s Poetry and Prose. New York: W. W. Norton. Smiles, Samuel (1859), Self-Help; with Illustrations of Character and Conduct. London: John Murray. Smith, Bernard (1992), Imagining the Pacific in the Wake of the Cook Voyages. Carlton, VIC: Melbourne University Press. Soubigou, Gilles (2007), ‘The Reception of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” through Gustave Doré’s Illustrations’, in Elinor Shaffer and Edoardo Zuccato (eds), The Reception of S. T. Coleridge in Europe. London: Continuum, pp. 61–87. Southey, Robert (1798), ‘Lyrical Ballads’ [Review], Critical Review, vol. 24, pp. 197–204. — (1805), ‘Travels in China’ [Review], The Annual Review, and History of Literature for 1804, vol. 3, pp. 69–83.



— (2004a), Shorter Poems. Ed. Lynda Pratt. Vol. 5 of Robert Southey, Poetical Works 1793–1810. Gen. ed. Lynda Pratt. 5 vols. London: Pickering and Chatto. — (2004b), Thalaba the Destroyer. Ed. Tim Fulford. Vol. 3 of Robert Southey, Poetical Works 1793–1810. Gen. ed. Lynda Pratt. 5 vols. London: Pickering and Chatto. — (2010–). The Collected Letters of Robert Southey. Gen. ed. Lynda Pratt, Tim Fulford and Ian Packer. 8 vols. Romantic Circles Online Edition. southey_letters/ Spiegelman, Willard (1995), Majestic Indolence: English Romantic Poetry and the Work of Art. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Srivastava, K. G. (2002), Bhagavad-Gītã and the English Romantic Movement. Delhi: Macmillan. Staunton, George Thomas (1797), An Authentic Account of an Embassy from the King of Great Britain to the Emperor of China; Including Observations Made, and Information Obtained, in Travelling through That Ancient Empire, and a Small Port of Chinese Tartary. 2 vols. London: G. Nicol. — (1824), Notes of Proceedings and Occurrences, during the British Embassy to Pekin, in 1816. London. Stephen, Leslie (1907), ‘Coleridge’, in Hours in a Library. 4 vols. New edn. London: Smith, Elder, vol. 4, pp. 327–66. Stewart, Maaja A. (1993), Domestic Realities and Imperial Fictions: Jane Austen’s Novels in Eighteenth-Century Contexts. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press. Stillinger, Jack (1994), Coleridge and Textual Instability: The Multiple Versions of the Major Poems. New York: Oxford University Press. Symons, Arthur (1909), The Romantic Movement in English Poetry. London: Archibald Constable. Taketomo, Sōfu (1929), ‘Goshishizumu’ [‘Gothicism’], Eigo-Kenkyu, vol. 22, no. 4 (April), pp. 360–2. Taylor, William (1843), A Memoir of the Life and Writings of the Late William Taylor of Norwich. Ed. J. W. Robberds. 2 vols. London: John Murray. Thelwall, John (1796), The Rights of Nature, against the Usurpations of Establishments. London: H. D. Symonds. Turner, Sharon, with John Shore, Lord Teignmouth (1809), ‘Grammars of the Sanscrita Language’, Quarterly Review, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 53–69. Ueda, Bin (1978), Ueda Bin Zenshu Dai-san-kan [Collected Works of Ueda Bin, Volume 3]. Tokyo: Society for the Publication of the Collected Works of Ueda Bin. Umehara, Takeshi (1980), Kūkai no Shisou nitsuite [On Kūkai’s Thought]. Tokyo: Koudansha. Vallins, David (2000), Coleridge and the Psychology of Romanticism: Feeling and Thought. Basingstoke: Macmillan. Vince, Samuel (1785), ‘A Supplement to the Third Part of the Paper on the Summation of Infinite Series’, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, vol. 75, pp. 32–5.



Volney, Constantin-François (1792), The Ruins, or a Survey of the Revolutions of Empires. Trans. James Marshall. London: J. Johnson. Voltaire (1741), Letters Concerning the English Nation. Trans. John Lockman. 2nd edn. London: C. Davis. Wales, William, and Bayly, William (1777), The Original Astronomical Observations, Made in the Course of a Voyage towards the South Pole, and Round the World, in His Majesty’s Ships the Resolution and Adventure, in the Years MDCCLXXII, MDCCLXXIII, MDCCLXXIV, and MDCCLXXV. London: J. Nourse, J. Mount, and T. Page. Watts, Alan (1999), Buddhism: The Religion of No Religion. North Clarendon, VT: Tuttle. Whalley, George (1949), ‘The Bristol Library Borrowings of Southey and Coleridge, 1793–8’, The Library: The Transactions of the Bibliographical Society, Series 5, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 114–32. Wiegand, Dometa (2006), ‘Coleridge’s “Webs of Time”: The Herschels, the Darwins, and Psalm 19’, The Coleridge Bulletin, vol. 28, pp. 91–100. Wordsworth, William (1994), Selected Poems. Ed. John O. Hayden. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Wordsworth, William, and Coleridge, Samuel Taylor (1969), Lyrical Ballads. Ed. W. J. B. Owen. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wordsworth, William, and Wordsworth, Dorothy (1967), The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth. I. The Early Years: 1787–1805. Ed. Ernest de Selincourt. Rev. Chester L. Shaver. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Yoritomi, Motohiro (2007, rev. edn), Tōji no Mandala zu [Universe of Mandalas: Buddhist Divinities in Shingon Esoteric Buddhism]. Kyoto: Museum of Tōji Temple. — (2011), Suguwakaru Mandala no Hotoketachi [Understanding Buddhas in Mandala]. Tokyo: Tokyo Bijutsu. Yura, Kimiyoshi (1972), Chinsetsu Taisei Romanha Bungaku Dangi [Table Talk on Curious Interpretations of European Romantic Literature]. Tokyo: Seitosha. Zöller, Günter (1999), ‘Schopenhauer on the Self ’, in Christopher Janaway (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Schopenhauer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 18–43. Zuccato, Edoardo (2007), ‘The Translation of Coleridge’s Poetry and His Influence on Twentieth-Century Italian Poetry’, in Elinor Shaffer and Edoardo Zuccato (eds), The Reception of S. T. Coleridge in Europe. London: Continuum, pp. 197–212. Zupancic, Alenka (2003), The Shortest Shadow: Nietzsche’s Philosophy of the Two. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Index Abrams, M. H.  72, 138 Adams, John Quincy  19 Addison, Joseph  192 Alexander, William  194, 196, 197, 202 Allsop, Thomas  81 Almeida, Hermione de  47, 52 Amherst, William, 1st Earl Amherst  24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 31, 35 Anaximander  107 Arabian Nights, The  116, 166, 179 Aristotle  104, 116 Arnold, Matthew  88 Asiatic Society, The  40, 128 Auden, W. H.  87 Aurangzeb  44, 49, 50 Austen, Jane  7, 32 Mansfield Park  32–4 Austen, Francis  32 Bacon, Francis  115 Barbauld, Anna Laetitia  115–16 Barnes, Jonathan  116 Barrell, John  1, 15 Barrow, John  21, 24–6, 33, 194, 204 Some Account of the Public Life and a Selection from the Unpublished Writings, of the Earl of Macartney  21, 33 Travels in China  24–5, 204, 206 Baudelaire, Charles  86, 92, 95, 97 Beddoes, Thomas  66 Beer, John  39, 167 Beiser, Frederick  105, 117 Berkeley, Richard  117 Bernier, François  44, 50, 51 Travels in the Mogul Empire  44 Bertolucci, Bernardo  20 Bewell, Alan  119 Bhagavad Gita, The  2, 11, 14, 15, 113, 131, 132, 133–4, 135–6, 137–41, 143, 144 Bible, The  148, 160 Revelation  5, 130

Blake, William  13, 85, 99 Bloom, Harold  63, 69, 98 Boehme, Jacob  96 Bonaparte, Napoleon  12, 43, 165, 167–8 Bowles, William Lisle  41–2 Brandes, Georg  117 Brice, Ben  121 Bruce, James,  Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile  27, 40, 188 Brucker, Johann Jakob  105 Bruno, Giordano  111 Buddha  77, 78–9, 81, 154–5, 158, 161 Fire Sermon, The  79 Buddhism  2, 4, 5, 8–9, 11–12, 14, 20, 76–83, 127–8, 145, 151, 153–9, 160, 161 Burke, Edmund  40, 120, 194 Burkert, Walter  105, 117 Burnet, Thomas  181 Byron, George Gordon, Lord  1, 7, 29, 30–2, 85, 97, 119, 127, 152, 169, 173–5 ‘Blues: A Literary Eclogue, The’  174 Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage  152 Don Juan  31–2, 127 Manfred  29–31, 36 Sardanapalus  119, 127 Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal)  60 Chambers, William  131, 191–3, 205 Dissertation on Oriental Gardening  192–3, 205 Charpentier, John  88, 95 China  1, 2, 4, 5, 6–7, 13, 15, 19–33, 37, 40, 71, 76, 78, 124, 125, 126, 153, 161, 166, 188, 191, 192, 194–206 Christensen, Jerome  117 Churchill, John  44 Circassia  125, 126, 129, 130 Clark, Steve  14



Clarke, J. J.  153 Coburn, Kathleen  181, 182 Coffman, Ralph  167 Colebrook, H. T.  128 Coleman, Deirdre  3, 7 Coleridge, E. H.  178 Coleridge, Frank  42–3, 165–6 Coleridge, George  168, 180 Coleridge, John (Brother)  42, 44 Coleridge, John (Father)  42, 43, 165–6, 180 Coleridge, S. T.,  Poetical Works  Annual Anthology (ed., with Robert Southey)  55, 64 Christabel  2, 7, 8, 14, 15, 55, 56, 66–9, 86, 87, 90, 92, 97, 99, 115, 142, 168, 169 ‘Dejection: An Ode’  11, 62, 115, 138, 139, 149 ‘Destiny of Nations, The’  135, 136 ‘Effusion XXXV’  133, 134, 137, 138, 141 ‘Eolian Harp, The’  54, 124, 133, 138, 143 Fall of Robespierre, The (with Robert Southey)  55, 57 ‘Fears in Solitude’  115, 201, 205 ‘France: An Ode’  99 ‘God’s Omnipresence: A Hymn’  11, 139 ‘Hymn Before Sunrise in the Vale of Chamouni’  99 ‘Kubla Khan’  2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12–13, 28, 39–40, 41, 42, 43–4, 48, 49, 52, 54, 56, 57, 59, 60–1, 62, 64–6, 68, 69, 87, 88, 97, 99, 113, 114, 115, 117, 124–5, 126, 129, 130, 138, 165–75, 177–85, 189, 191–4, 196, 198, 200, 202, 202, 204 ‘Lewti, or, the Circassian Love-Chaunt’  125–6, 130 ‘Love’  9, 64, 87, 90, 96, 99, 137 ‘Mohammed’  8, 57, 58, 59, 127 ‘Ode to the Departing Year’  135, 205 ‘Pains of Sleep, The’  11, 137, 138, 169, 175 Piccolomini, The  64 ‘Picture, The’  113, 171–2, 189 ‘Religious Musings’  11, 27, 135, 136 Remorse  174 ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner, The’  9, 71–5, 82–3, 86, 87, 88, 91, 92, 93, 95, 97, 98, 99, 115–16, 124, 125, 129, 177, 183

Sibylline Leaves  72, 133, 167, 169, 171, 172 ‘Songs of the Pixies’  141, 143 ‘This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison’  115, 132 ‘To William Wordsworth’  172, 175 ‘Work Without Hope’  143 Prose Works,  Aids to Reflection  111–12, 159 Biographia Literaria  43, 65, 81, 83, 87, 90, 109, 110, 118, 127, 142, 167, 169, 174, 175 ‘Essay on Faith’  150 Essays On His Times  127, 202 Friend, The  3, 55, 110, 111, 115, 117, 123, 127, 141, 142, 146, 160 ‘Individuality’  169 Lay Sermons  119, 147–8, 154, 160 ‘Lecture on the Slave Trade’ (with Robert Southey)  73, 205 Lectures 1795 On Politics and Religion  27, 200 Lectures 1808–19 On Literature  103, 146, 149, 150, 153, 159 Lectures 1818–19 On the History of Philosophy  3, 14, 15, 107–9, 112, 114, 117, 122–3, 128–9, 132, 139, 204 Omniana  55 On the Constitution of the Church and State  88, 119 ‘On the Divine Ideas’  132–3, 140, 142, 144 ‘On the Error of Schelling’s Philosophy’  117 ‘On the Polar Forces’  117 ‘On the Principles of Genial Criticism’149  Opus Maximum  54, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 133, 140, 142, 143, 144 ‘Prospectus and Specimen of a Translation of Euclid’  168–9 Table Talk  94, 116, 117, 204 ‘Treatise on Method’  115, 118 Watchman, The  182, 200, 206 Coleridge, Sara (Wife)  133 Colley, Linda  21–2 Colman, George,  Laws of Java, The  34–7 Confucius/Confucianism  20, 158, 196

Index Cottle, Joseph  46, 64, 174 Cowper, William  40–2 ‘Expostulation’  40–1 Creuzer, Friedrich  128 Cruickshank, George  23–4 Damascius  128 Daniell, William  47, 203 Oriental Scenery  47 Daoism (Taoism)  20, 127, 158 Davy, Humphry  70, 86, 149 Dazai, Osamu  98 De Quincey, Thomas  1, 3, 4, 15 Derrida, Jacques  104, 116 D’Herbelot, Bathélemy  56 Diogenes  107 Doak, Kevin Michael  98 Donne, John  72–3 Doré, Gustav  88 Dowson, Ernest  95 Drew, John  53, 131, 132 Dryden, John,  Aureng-Zebe  44 Dubois, Jean-Antoine,  Description of the Character, Manners, and Customs of the People of India  11, 118, 131, 140, 144 Dutch East India Company (VOC)  34–5 East India Company, The  3, 7, 26, 32, 35, 43, 191, 194 Eckart, Förster  104 Egypt  41, 51, 52, 53, 70, 103, 105, 107, 108, 161 Eilenberg, Susan  129 Eliot, Sir Charles,  Hinduism and Buddhism: An Historical Sketch  77–8 Eliot, T. S.  74, 79–80 Waste Land, The  79 Ellis, Sir Henry  25 Empson, William  8–9, 71–83, 98 Argufying: Essays on Literature and Culture  71–5, 78, 79, 80, 82 Milton’s God  80 Poems  79, 80 Seven Types of Ambiguity  75, 78 Some Versions of Pastoral  76–7, 79, 82–3 Structure of Complex Words, The  79


Engell, James  42, 43 English Literary Society of Japan, The  77 Erdman, David  14 Erigena, Johannes Scotus  122 Estlin, John Prior  181 Evidences of Revealed Religion  181 Euclid  168, 178, 180, 182, 186, 187, 190 Evans, Mary  130 Ezekiel  107, 108, 116 Fairer, David  125 Fan, Fa-Ti  206 Fang, Karen  1, 5 Fichte, Johann Gottlieb  105–6, 108 Ford, Susan Allen  33 Franklin, Caroline  127 Franklin, Michael  69 Fulford, Tim  1, 2, 7, 8, 14, 97, 118, 165, 167, 179, 180, 189, 205 Gautier, Théophile  90, 92 Gay, John,  Beggar’s Opera, The  76 Genette, Gérard  169 George III, King  21, 27, 28, 31, 192, 200 George IV, King  13, 202, 204 Gill, Stephen  166 Gill, William Wyatt  93 Gillray, James  22–3, 195–6 Goldsmith, Oliver  192 Grant, Allan  167 Gray, Thomas,  ‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’  76 Green, J. H.  65 Grenville, William Wyndham (1st Baron Grenville)  206 Grierson, Francis  96 Guyer, Paul  145, 148, 159 Haffenden, John  71, 75, 76, 78, 98 Halmi, Nicholas  117, 128, 129 Hamilton, Albert Charles  15 Hamilton, Paul  116 Hardy, Robert Spence  160 Harries, Natalie Tal  11, 14, 15 Hartley, David  117 Harvey, Peter  83, 160 Hastings, Warren  40–1, 46, 47, 49



Hayter, Alethea  138 Hearn, Lafcadio  89–91, 92, 93, 94 Hegel, G. W. F.  105, 109, 116, 135, 136, 139 Heidegger, Martin  104 Heraclitus  103, 111 Herschel, William  178, 180, 183–4, 185–6, 188, 190 Hevia, James L.  19, 20, 21 Hinaz, Konosuke  87, 94–7, 99 Hinduism  2, 3, 4, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 46, 51, 54, 77, 120–3, 127–8, 129, 131–44, 151, 158 Hodges, William  7, 42–54 Dissertation on the Prototypes of Architecture, Hindoo, Moorish and Gothic  51 Select Views of India  47, 48 Travels in India  7, 42, 46–8, 51 Hofkosh, Sonia  178 Hölderlin, Friedrich  98, 105 Holland, Henry  202 Holmes, Richard  166, 173 Hubback, Edith, C.  32 Hubback, J. H.  32 Hunt, Leigh  28 Hutchinson, Sara  65, 166, 169 Huysmans, Joris Karl  92 Iamblichus  128–9 Ihara, Saikaku  93 India  1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 11, 14, 25, 32, 39–54, 97, 103, 105, 107, 108, 113, 114, 120–3, 124, 125, 126, 128, 130, 131–44, 161, 166 Inge, W. R.  86, 128 Islam  1, 2, 3, 8, 10, 13, 14, 46, 51, 56–62, 114, 128, 129–30 Jackson, Heather  170 Jackson, J. R. de J.  117 Jaimoukha, Amjad  129–30 James, Henry  73 Janaway, Christopher  151, 160 Japan  4–5, 6, 8–9, 11–12, 27, 29, 71, 75–80, 85–99, 145, 153–60 Jeffrey, Francis  69 Johnson, Samuel  120 Jones, Sir William  2, 3, 4, 11, 14, 40, 52–4, 61, 69, 120–2, 123, 128, 131, 133, 135, 136, 139, 140

Dissertations and Miscellaneous Pieces Relating to the History & Antiquities, the Arts, Sciences and Literature of Asia  131, 139 ‘Hymn to Surya’  52–3 Institutes of Hindu Law, or the Ordinances of Menu  11, 53, 131, 133, 135 ‘On the Gods of Greece, Italy, and India’  120 ‘On the Persians’  120–1 ‘On the Tartars’  40, 53 Judaism,  3, 120 Kambara, Ariake  92–4 Kant, Immanuel  11, 81, 104, 106, 116, 121, 128, 145, 149–50, 151, 153, 158, 160 Critique of the Power of Judgment  128, 160 Metaphysics of Morals, The  148, 160 Kato, Seiichi  161 Katsuyama, Kuri  5, 13 Kaufman, Paul  183 Keats, John,  ‘Bright Star’  92 ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’  92, 94, 96 ‘On the Grasshopper and Cricket’  89 Keene, Donald  95 Khan, Kublai  28, 53, 63, 168, 177 Kitamura, Tōkoku  91 Kitson, Peter  1, 3, 6–7, 15, 40, 165, 205 Knox-Shaw, Peter  32–4 Koran, The  56 Korea  78 Kowtow (ketow/kotou)  6–7, 19–37, 195, 200 Kūkai (Kōbō Daishi)  12, 145, 150, 153–4, 156–9, 161 Attaining Enlightenment in this Very Existence  153–4, 158 Difference Between Exoteric and Esoteric Buddhism, The  161 Precious Key to the Secret Treasury, The  158 Ten Stages of the Development of Mind, The  158 Lamb, Charles  1, 5, 91, 173 Lanctantius  107

Index Landor, Walter Savage  64 Leask, Nigel  1, 13, 14, 15, 28, 40, 62, 118, 119, 129, 165, 178, 185, 186, 188–9, 205 Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm  181 Levinson, Marjorie  117 Lloyd, A. C.  128 Lowes, John Livingston  39, 87, 165, 177–8, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 190, 191 Luzi, Mario  97 Lytton, Edward Bulwer  90 Macartney, George, Viscount  21–8, 30, 31, 32–3, 35, 40, 194–9, 204, 205 McFarland, Thomas  117, 144 McGann, Jerome J.  39, 119 Magnuson, Paul  170 Majeed, Javed  62 Makdisi, Saree  1, 13, 14, 15 Mallarmé, Stéphane  86, 88, 92, 95 Malta  166 Malthus, Thomas Robert  127 Marshall, P. J.  53, 54 Marvell, Andrew  76–7, 82, 83 Maurice, Thomas  7, 11, 44, 45, 131, 133, 181, 182, 187 History of Hindostan  7, 11, 44, 45, 131, 133, 187 Mays, J. C. C.  130 Mill, J. S.  88 Milton, John  8, 61, 72, 188 Mishima, Yukio  98 Mohammed  8, 15, 56, 57, 58, 127 Montesquieu, Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de  27 Moss, S.  180 Mottraye, A. de la  129 Muirhead, J. H.  81 Natale, Antonella Riem  131 Newlyn, Lucy  173 Newton, Isaac  178, 180–3, 186–8, 190 Letters to Mr Bentley  181 Letters to Mr Boyle  182, 190 Principia Mathematica  181, 182, 183, 184, 190 Prophecies of Holy Writ  181 Nicholls, Moira  152, 160 Niebuhr, Carsten  64


Nietzsche, Friedrich  109, 117 Niimi, Yasuko  155, 161 Nokes, David  32 Novalis (Georg Philipp Friedrich von Hardenberg)  105 Odoricus  63 Oishi, Kaz  5, 9 O’Neill, Michael  174 Orsini, G. N. G.  149, 159 Oshima, Shōtaro  85–6 Ottoman Empire, The  1, 23, 32, 120, 125, 127, 130, 166 Paley, Morton  159 Parry, Charles H.  69 Pater, Walter  91, 92, 95, 97 Patocka, Jan  104, 116 Pennington, Brian K.  127–8 Perry, Seamus  5, 8–9, 88, 109, 117, 146, 176 Persia  23, 30, 70, 105, 108, 120–1, 128, 129, 139 Petersen, William  127 Pherecydes  107 Pirie, David  71 Pitt, William, the Younger  27, 200, 204, 206 Plato  28, 115, 128, 140 Plotinus  15, 120, 121, 122–3, 128, 129, 149 Plumb, J. H.  173 Poe, Edgar Allan  87, 91 Poole, Thomas  65, 165, 166 Porphyry  128 Porter, David  21 Praz, Mario  96–7 Price, Fiona  159 Priestley, Joseph  81 Pritchard, E. H.  25 Proclus  128 Purchas, Samuel  44, 63, 65, 171, 172, 181, 191 Pythagoras  106, 107–9, 110, 112, 113, 116 Qing Empire, The  6, 7, 19–33, 35–6, 37, 199, 204 Quilley, Geoff  48 Radcliffe, Ann  127 Rennell, Major James  44, 187



Richards, I. A.  76 Richardson, Alan  178 Roberts, Daniel Sanjiv  13 Rossetti, Dante Gabriel  87, 91, 92, 93, 95 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques  116 Royal Society of Bengal, The  11 Saglia, Diego  14 Said, Edward  3, 6, 14, 20, 32, 62–3, 66, 87, 89, 112–13, 117 Saito, Takeshi  99 Sale, George  56 Schelling, F. W. J.  2, 14, 15, 105, 106, 111, 112, 116, 120, 124, 127, 129 Schiller, Friedrich,  Die Piccolimini  64 Schlegel, A.W.,  Über Dramatische Kunst und Literatur  146 Schlegel, Friedrich  3, 4, 14, 65, 98, 105, 127, 128, 140 Schneider, E.  64, 137, 165, 190 Schopenhauer, Arthur  2, 4, 5, 11–12, 14, 127, 145, 150, 151–3, 154, 158, 159, 160 World as Will and Representation, The  151–3 Schwenger, Peter  170 Scott, Walter  97 Sedlar, Jean W.  14, 15, 120, 127, 128 Shaffer, Elinor  2, 3, 5, 15, 39–40, 88, 127, 130, 159–60, 178 Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3rd Earl of  145 Shakespeare, William  76, 115, 159 Hamlet  74, 159 Shelley, Percy Bysshe  1, 2, 3, 7, 14, 29 Hellas  29 Mask of Anarchy, The  29 Revolt of Islam, The  14 Shelvocke, George  73 Smiles, Samuel  86, 88 Smith, Bernard  46 Smith, Thomas  172 Soubigou, Gilles  88 Southey, Robert  1, 2, 3, 7–8, 10, 13, 14, 25, 55–70, 86, 91, 97, 113–14, 130, 167, 172, 206

Annual Anthology (ed., with S.T. Coleridge)55,  64 Fall of Robespierre, The (with S.T. Coleridge)  55, 57 Joan of Arc  57 ‘Mohammed’  57–9 Omniana (with S.T. Coleridge)  55 Thalaba the Destroyer  7–8, 13, 14, 55–69, 114, 167 Spenser, Edmund  61 Spiegelman, Willard  140–1 Spinoza, Benedict de  10, 103, 105–6, 113–14, 115, 116 Srivasta, K. G.  131 Staunton, George Leonard  13, 24, 25, 26, 40, 191, 196, 199, 204 An Authentic Account of an Embassy from the King of Great Britain to the Emperor of China  40, 191, 196, 197, 199, 204 Staunton, George Thomas  26 Notes of Proceedings and Occurrences during the British Embassy in Peking in 1816  26 Stephen, Leslie  73–4 Stewart, Maaja A.  33 Stillinger, Jack  170, 171, 173 Sufism  121, 123, 128 Suzuki, Masashi  14 Swinburne, Algernon Charles  88, 91, 92, 95 Symons, Arthur  88, 91 Takayama, Hiroshi  99 Taketomo, Sōfu  86, 87 Tavernier, Jean-Baptiste  51 Taylor, Thomas  149 Taylor, William  64 Temple, Sir William  192 Tennemann, Wilhelm Gottlieb  106, 107, 122 Thales  107 Thelwall, John  27 Thomson, Heidi  12 Tipu Sultan  43 Tōji Temple  156, 157 Tokyo  76, 77, 98 Tokyo Imperial University  76, 89, 91, 99

Index Tokyo University of Literature and Science (Tokyo Bunrika Daigaku)  76 Turkey  4 Turner, Samuel  128 Turner, Sharon  53 Ueda, Bin  91–2 Umehara, Takeshi  158 Valéry, Paul  88, 95 Vallins, David  2, 14, 124, 129 Vince, Samuel  188 Volney, Constantin-François,  Ruins, or a Survey of the Revolutions of Empires, The  27 Wake-Naota, Setsuko  5, 11–12, 14 Wales, James  52 Wales, William  46, 180 Walpole, Horace  192 Warren, Andrew  10 Whalley, George  46 Wiegand, Dometa  12–13


Wilde, Oscar  95 Wilkins, Sir Charles  2, 3, 11, 15, 54, 131, 132, 133, 139, 140, 144 Wordsworth, John  166 Wordsworth, William  55, 62, 64, 65, 69, 85, 126, 130, 166, 169, 171, 172, 175 ‘Beauty and Moonlight: An Ode’  130 ‘Complaint of a Forsaken Indian Woman, The’  130 Lyrical Ballads  73 Prelude, The  172 ‘Tintern Abbey’  171 Yasuda, Yojuro  98 Yeats, W. B.  88 Yoritomi, Motohiro  155, 161 Yura, Kimyoshi  99 Zen Buddhism  83, 160 Zöller, Günter  152 Zoroaster  105 Zuccato, Edoardo  88, 97 Zupancic, Alenka  117