COLERIDGE, Samuel Taylor (1772-1834). Autograph annotations signed (four times, with initials 'S.T.C.') to [Isaac Taylor.] Natural History of Enthusiasm. London: Holdsworth and Ball, 1829. First edition. Contemporary speckled calf (covers detached, backstrip lacking), author photograph laid in on verso of title.
Coleridge's ten (often extensive) annotations, [c.1829-30], in pen and pencil on one inserted leaf and in the margins and blank portions of 15 text pages, a few other marginal markings (the annotations and markings up to p.53 only), the pencil annotations reinforced in ink probably by another hand (the annotated pages generally left uncropped by the binder and the margins folded in, with some consequent fraying and creasing). Provenance: Joseph Gurney (inscription to front end-paper).
Coleridge's opening annotation praises the volume as 'Evidently the work of a superior and well balanced Mind, at once observant and meditative', whilst expressing reservations about the style, 'The writer who habitually reasons in metaphors will now and then reason by them ... To imitate the faults I am condemning ... one cannot see one's way thro' the wood for the swarm of Fire flies in the Path'. Later annotations include four extended reflections on the use of colloquial language in religious discourse, on 'the Personeïty of God', on the supposed inaccessibility of the divine ('Pile up Hierarchs on Hierarchs, and outCabalize the Cabala -- what a gaudy vapor is the whole Conception to a sane mind'), and on the argument that petitional prayer is irrational, 'As if the Holy One ... resembled an Oriental or African Despot whose Courtiers ... must approach him in beggar's rags'.
Coleridge transcribes (and silently expands) some of the present annotations in the misleadingly-titled 'Glossary' to his last prose work, On the Constitution of the Church and State (1830): 'here ... I transcribe two or three annotations, which I had penciled, (for the book was lent me by a friend who had himself borrowed it), on the margins of a volume, recently published, and entitled, "The Natural History of Enthusiasm". They will, at least, remind some of my old school-fellows of the habit, for which I was even then noted: and for others they may serve, as a specimen of the Marginalia, which, if brought together from the various books: my own, and those of a score others, would go near to form as bulky a volume as most of those old folios, through which the larger portion of them are dispersed'.