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COLLEGE LIBRARY

HARVARD

UN 12 1899 NULLAMBRIDGE, MASA

BY ERNEST HARTLEY COLERIDGE.

[Read November 7th, 1898.]

I am about, if I can, to interest you in the early history of two poets, who were friends and neighbours in Somersetshire just one hundred years ago. It is possible that there are men and women still alive who might, if they had been born in those parts, be able to tell us, not how those young poets looked, or what they said, but that they had seen them. As a matter of fact, however, the number of those who can recall them in their old age grows less and less; and their early youth is as remote from us as Milton's youth, or Shakespeare's, or Virgil's, or David's. We have to turn to their poems and their letters, to old diaries, to letters written to them and about them by friends or foes, to learn what manner of men they were. Even when we have hunted up all the facts and compared document with document, we have to trust to the powers of the imagination to bring back the past, and to turn the names of dead men into actual human personalities, who were very like and yet very different from ourselves.

I have no doubt that much of what I have to say is familiar to you (Canon Ainger, Mr. Greswell, the Rector of Dodington, who has done so much towards

VOL. IX.

9

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