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The design of this volume is to make accessible, in a convenient form, some of the best passages in Coleridge's prose. The Biographia Literaria and Table Talk will always be favorite books with scholars; but it is to be feared that the ponderous essays of The Friend and Aids to Reflection are not often disturbed nowadays by scholars, to say nothing of the general reader.
It is injurious to the memory of Coleridge, one of the most subtle and stimulating of English thinkers, that posterity should know him merely as a poet, and, as to all the rest of his work, should be contented to take his greatness upon trust, and as a literary tradition. He devoted the last thirty years of his life to the study and eloquent exposition of some of the highest themes that can engage the human mind: the being of God, the nature and limits of knowledge, the principles of literary art, and the political constitution of his country. His reasonings, upon all of these subjects, have deeply influenced the best thought of England and America.
It may seem that an unduly large proportion of these selections belongs to the department of literary criticism. But I believe it will be found that Cole