to Logan Pearsall Smith, ‘Four romantic words



Lloyd Logan Pearsall Smith (18 Oct. 1865–2 March 1946), essayist and bibliophile, was born at Millville, New Jersey, son of a Quaker glass manufacturer; his sister married Bertrand Russell. Educated at Harvard and Oxford, Smith settled in England, where he counted Matthew Arnold and Whistler among his friends. He became well known by his collections of aphorisms and essays, Trivia (1902), More Trivia (1921), Afterthoughts (1931), and Last Words (1934), which were assembled in All Trivia (1934). An authority on English idioms, he published The English Language (1912) and Words and Idioms (1925). Among his critical woks are The Life and Letters of Sir Henry Wotton (1907), On Reading Shakespeare (1933), and Milton and his Modern Critics (1940). Songs and Sonnets (1909) is a collection of his own verse, and Unforgotten Years (1939) is autobiographical; his philosophy appears in his famous remark, “People say life is the thing, but I prefer reading.”

–– From Everyman’s Dictionary of Literary Biography, English & American, compiled after John W. Cousin by D. C. Browning (Dent & Sons, London 1958).




 1.  (See below, note 15). The adjective is found in Evelyn’s Diary under the date of 1654 (see below, note 24). As, however, Evelyn edited, or re-wrote his diary towards the end of his life, it cannot be relied upon as a safe indication of linguistic usage. The etymology of the word is well known; “a whole chapter of literary history is included in the derivation of Romantic from Rome; it tells of the rise of rude popular dialects, alongside the learned and polished Latin, in the various provinces of the Roman Empire; and of the rise of modern European fiction, written so distinctively in these dialects that it got its name from them”: W. D. Whitney, Language and the Study of Language (1867), p. 131.

2.  It was borrowed into French and German from English; Grimm’s Wörterbuch, however, quotes from a Latin MS. of the fifteenth century an instance of romanticus used as a term for a fictitious tale (article Romantisch). In the Life of Sir Philip Sidney, which was written by Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke, probably before 1612, but which was not published until 1652, occurs the phrase, “Doe not his Arcadian Romanties live after him?” (p. 13). The word Romanties in this passage might perhaps be regarded (and so the Editor of the Oxford Dictionary seems to have regarded it) as a misprint for Romantics, but in a MS. version of the Life in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, the word is spelt Romantiæ. In the printed version however the impression of the e in Romanties is not a clear one and might easily be mistaken for a c; and it is not impossible that our word romantic owes its origin to a contemporary misreading of this kind. Fulke Greville’s Romanties may be a variant of the Chaucerian word Romaunte.

3.  S.P.E. Tract III., p. 19.

4.  Thomas Shadwell, Preface to the Sullen Lovers, 1668. Spingarn, Critical Essays of the Seventeenth Century, vol. ii. p. 150. (I shall refer in future to this collection as Spingarn.)

5.  Ibid. p. 61.

6.  On Ancient and Modern Learning, 1690, ibid. vol. iii. p. 71.

7.  The phrase “romantic love,” which has acquired so rich a meaning in modern times, was used somewhat differently in the eighteenth century. A writer in The World, for instance (No. 79, July 4, 1754), mentions some ladies who had remained unmarried because their imaginations had been “early perverted with the chimerical ideas of Romantic Love,” according to which passion, he adds, “a footman may as well be the hero as his master”; and he tells the story of Clarinda, who, instead of marrying the suitable Theodore, fell in love with his French valet Antoine, there being “no resisting of the impetuosity of romantic love.”

8.  Hurd, Letters on Chivalry and Romance, 1762. (Ed. 1911, p. 153.)

9.  “I saw Hamlet Prince of Denmark played, but now the old plays begin to disgust this refined age, since his Majestie’s being so long abroad.” (Diary of John Evelyn, Nov. 26, 1661), quoted by T. S. Perry, English Literature in the Eighteenth Century. It should, however, be noted that the word disgust was in former times a milder term than it is now. (See Mr. R. W. Chapman’s notes on Jane Austen’s English, in his edition of Emma, 1923, p. 398.)

10.  Observations on the Faerie Queene (1754), p. 237.

11.  Advancement of Learning, Book II.

12.  Midsummer-Night’s Dream, v. i. 7–17.

13.  Spingarn, vol. ii. p. 58. The introduction to these volumes contains a lucid history of the concept of Imagination in the earlier and later periods of criticism.

14.  Essays of John Dryden (Ker), vol. i. p. 229.

15.  It is perhaps more than a coincidence that in the first instance which has been found of the adjective romantic, it is used in close connexion with the word imagination. “As for Imagination, there is no question but that Function is mainly exercised in the chief seat of the Soul, those purer Animal spirits in the fourth Ventricle of the Brain. I speak especially of that Imagination which is most free, such as we use in romantic inventions.” (H. More, The Immortality of the Soul, 1658, p. 228.)

16.  Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, 1735, 340–1.

17.  Spectator, No. 303 (1712).

18.  “The subject and scene of this tragedy, so romantic and uncommon, are highly pleasing to the imagination.” J. Warton on Pope (1757), ed. 1806, i. p. 71 n.

19.  Preface to the second edition of Castle of Otranto, 1765.

20.  Moral Essays, Ep. II., 16.

21.  Natural History of Wiltshire (1874), p. 108.

22.  J. Britton, Memoir of John Aubrey (1845), pp. 32–3.

23.  Evelyn’s Diary, ed. Bray, vol. ii. p. 81.

24.  Feb. 26, 1666.

25.  Evelyn, vol. 11. p. 54. First noted I believe by T. S. Perry in his English Literature in the Eighteenth Century. In another entry of 1654 Evelyn uses the word again: Bray, vol. ii. p. 84.

26.  Ibid. vol. ii. pp. 353­–4.

27.  Addison’s Works, edited by Richard Hurd, vol. i. p. 359.

28.  Spectator, No. 74.

29.  Quoted in Phelps, The English Romantic Movement, Boston, 1902, p. 98.

30.  The Adventurer, No. 108, Nov. 17, 1753.

31.  Shaftesbury’s Moralists (1709): Works (1732), vol. ii. p. 394.

32.  What is said to be the earliest instance of the word romantique in French is found in 1675, where it is obviously borrowed from English. In 1666 a M. de Sorbière published a Relation d’un voyage en Angleterre; and in 1668 Thomas Sprat wrote an anonymous little book of Observations on this book of travel, in which he says (p. 37) of Sorbière, “He speaks so Romantically of the Vallies, the Hills, and the hedges of Kent, that the Authors of Celia, or Astrea, scarce ever venture to say so much on the like occasion.” In 1675 was published at Amsterdam an account of this Réponse of Sprat’s, in which it is said, L’auteur anonyme blâme Sorbière d’avoir parlé  en termes romantiques des vallées, des montagnes et des haies verdoyantes du pays de Kent (quoted, Revue d’Histoire Littéraire de France, 1911, p. 440).

33.  Annales de la Société Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Paris), vol. v. (1909). See also further notes by M. François in the Bibliothèque Universelle et Revue Suisse (Lausanne), August and September, 1918. Senancour added to the thirty-eighth letter of his Obermann a fragment (the third fragment) de l’expression Romantique et du Ranz des Vaches, in which he attempts to define the distinction between romantique and romanesque, the one appealing to deep souls and true sensibilities, the other to les imaginations vives et fleuries. In the best French usage of to-day the distinction which is made between romantique and romanesque is, I am informed on good authority, somewhat different. Romantique is used with a more or less definite reference to the French Romantic Movement, and the ways of feeling and the tastes of the French “Romantics”. It has, therefore, a certain historical connotation, and any manifestation of romanticism noted in an earlier epoch would be described as romantisme avant la lettre. In our phrases “romantic love,” “romantic friendship,” etc., “romantic” would be translated by romanesque; the use of romantique in this connexion generally implying emotions as they were felt and described by the contemporaries of Chateaubriand or Victor Hugo.

34.  Written in 1777, first published in 1782.

35.  Rousseau made use of this expression before he adopted romantique into his vocabulary, when in his famous description of the mountains of Valais (which passage has been described as “the first flowering of romantic sentiment in French literature”), he says, Enfin, ce spectacle a je ne sais quoi de magique, de surnaturel, qui ravit l’esprit et les sens (Nouvelle Héloïse, 1760, i. Lettre XXIII.). For the history of the non-descriptive, non-explanatory, and purely identifying term of the French Précieuses, je ne sais quoi, see Spingarn, vol. i. p. c. It appears in England as a substantive in the latter part of the seventeenth century; Shaftesbury attempted to define its critical significance, calling it “the unexpressible, the unintelligible, the I-know-not-what of Beauty,” “a kind of charm or enchantment of which the artist himself can give no account” (Characteristicks, 1711, ed. 1731, vol. i. p. 332; vol. ii. p. 413). Another term for romantic landscape was horrid, and the pleasure it gave was described as “a pleasing kind of horror.” Shaftesbury writes of the “horrid Graces of the Wilderness,” etc. (ibid. ii. p. 393).

36.  See Grimm’s Wörterbuch, s.v. Romantisch.

37.  Thomas Warton, in his Observations on the Faerie Queene, (1754), speaks of “the romantick species of poetical composition introduced by the provençal bards” (p. 1). He describes Spenser as a “romantic poet” (p. 217), and to his History of English Poetry (1774) he prefixes a dissertation entitled “Of the origin of Romantic Fiction in Europe.”

38.  Although never emphasized or worked out as in Germany, the contrast between romantic and classical literature is occasionally alluded to in English criticism of the eighteenth century. Thus in his Letters on Chivalry (1762), Hurd says Tasso “trimmed between the Gothic and Classic” (p. 114); the Faerie Queen “is a Gothic, not a classical poem” (p. 115). “Spenser tried to unite the Gothic, and the Classic unity” (p. 124). Thomas Warton, as Prof. Ker has pointed out, actually uses the words romantic and classical when, in writing of Dante, he speaks of “This wonderful compound of classical and romantic fancy” (History of English Poetry, vol. iii. 1781, p. 241). Hurd also contrasts the romantic and classic customs or “manners” (Letters on Chivalry, p. 148).

39.  Eckermann, Conversations of Goethe, March 21, 1830 (English Translation 1850, vol. ii. p. 273).

40.  Victor Hugo says, in the preface of 1824 to his Odes et Ballades, that it was this femme de génie who first pronounced the phrase littérature romantique in France.

41.  A writer in the Quarterly Review of October 1814 speaks of the attempts that had recently been made, especially in Germany, to simplify the old debate about the merits of the Ancients and the Moderns by calling the productions of antiquity classic, and those of modern time romantic; and adds in a note, “Madame de Staël has made the British public familiar with these expressions” (quoted O.E.D.). Byron in his answer to Bowles’s criticism of Pope (1821) says that Schlegel and Madame de Staël have endeavoured to reduce poetry to “two systems, classical and romantic” (Byron’s Works, vol. v. p. 554 n.). In a letter written in 1820 he says that these terms had not been in use when he left England (in 1816), (ibid. p. 104).

42.  “’Tis with Originall Poems as with Originall Pieces of Painters, whose Copies abate the excessive price of the first Hand,” Sir W. Davenant, Preface to Gondobert, 1650 (Spingarn, vol. ii. p. 5).

43.  Dryden’s Essays (Ker), vol. i p. 228.

44.  Originalité has been found in French in 1699; the word was admitted in the Dictionary of the French Academy in 1762. The earliest instance I have found of the word in English is in a letter of Gray’s of March 24, 1742 (Gray’s Letters, ed. Tovey, vol. i. p. 107). On July 14 of the same year Horace Walpole wrote to Mann at Florence, about a picture which he wished Mann to purchase for Sir Robert Walpole; “It is one of the most engaging pictures I ever saw. I have no qualms about its originality” (Walpole’s Letters, ed. Toynbee, vol. 1 p. 256). The word soon came into fairly common use among the more romantically inclined critics, and in 1766 the Shakespearean commentator, E. Capell, published a book with the title Reflections on Originality in Authors.

45.  Leonard Welsted, A Dissertation concerning the State of Poetry (1724), printed in Durham’s Critical Essays of the Eighteenth Century (1895), p. 377.

46.  “This primary or original copying, which in the ideas of Philosophy is Imitation, is, in the language of Criticism, called Invention” (Hurd, A Discourse on Poetical Imitation). In Hurd’s edition of Horace’s Epistolae ad Pisones et Augustum, 1757, vol. ii. p. 106.

47.  Dryden’s Essays (Ker), vol. ii. p. 138.

48.  Ker, vol. i. p. 15.

49.  Hazlitt, Collected Works, vol. xii. p. 367.

50.  Apology for Heroic Poetry and Poetic Licence (Ker), vol. i. p. 187.

51.  Preface to Troilus and Cressida (1679), Ker, vol. i. p. 219.

52.  Although creare is not uncommon in classical Latin, condere is the more usual term. Creare, with its derivative creator (rare as a classical term), is very common in ecclesiastic Latin, where it expressed the non-classical idea of creation out of nothing – that central doctrine of a special creation out of nothing upon which the Christian theology is based. Condere, like the Greek ktizein, implied the making, or the bringing into being, of something out of pre-existent material. In the later use of creare was explicit the meaning which the English word inherited, and which Dr. Johnson defined, in his Dictionary, as “to form out of nothing.”

53.  The element of “making” implied in the etymology of “Poet” was generally translated by the word “maker” or “feigner” by the earlier English critics, such as Sidney and Webbe; Puttenham, however, says that if poets could “make all things out of them selves, without any subject of veritie, then they be (by manner of speech) as creating gods” (G. Gregory Smith, Elizabethan Critical Essays, vol. ii. p. 4). Puttenham is no doubt echoing here the famous phrase from Scaliger’s Poetics: velut alter deus condere (ibid. i. 386). Donne, in one of his sermons (preached probably in 1632), says: “Poetry is a counterfeit Creation, and makes things that are not, as though they were” (LXXX. Sermons, 1640, p. 266). Bacon uses the word with reference to discoveries, Inventia quasi novae creationes sunt et divinorum operum imitamenta (Nov. Org. i. 129). Shakespeare uses it of mental images:

                                      A dagger of the mind, a false creation.

                                                             (Macb. II. i. 38.)

                                      This is the very coinage of your brain:

                                      This bodiless creation ecstasy

                                      Is very cunning in.

                                                             (Ham. III. iv. 138.)

Shelley refers in his Defence of Poetry to the “bold and true words of Tasso: non merita nome di creatore, se non Iddio ed il Poeta,” and he repeats the phrase with some variation in a letter to Peacock of August 16, 1818. This, if Shelley quotes correctly, is an early use of creatore in connexion with poetry; but none of Shelley’s editors seem to have been able to find the source of the quotation. I have searched for it in vain in Tasso’s works.

54.  The Greek name of poet signifies, he says, “Makers or Creators, such as raise admirable Frames and Fabricks out of nothing,” Of Poetry (1690) (Spingarn, vol. iii. p. 74). In his Essay of Gardening (1685) Temple describes building and gardening as “a sort of Creation.”

55.  On the Pleasures of Imagination (Spectator, No. 419, July 1, 1712).

56.  Spectator, No. 421, July 3, 1712.

57.  Edition of 1732, vol. iii. pp. 4, 5.

58.  The notion that poetic creation was principally concerned with the creation of supernatural beings remained a commonplace of eighteenth-century criticism. Addison refers to it (with especial reference to Caliban) in the Spectator (No. 279); it is repeated by Joseph Warton (again with reference to Caliban) in an Essay in the Adventurer (No. 93). The German-Swiss critic Bodmer echoed it in Germany with reference to the angels “created by Milton,” and it found its way into the aesthetic criticism of Immanuel Kant. Hazlitt, in his Characters of Shakespeare’s Plays (1817, p. 116), mentions Caliban and the supernatural element in The Tempest as the “fantastic creation” of Shakespeare’s mind.

59.  “This Divine, miraculous, creative power” (Cudworth’s Intellectual System, 1678). Quoted O.E.D.

60.  The Adventurer, No. 93, Sept. 25, 1753.

61.  Edition of 1871, vol. i. p. 93.

62.  p. 48.

63.  A very summary account of the history of Genius occupies fifty-two columns in Grimm’s great German Dictionary (article Genie).

64.  Life of Cowley.

65.  G. Gregory Smith, vol. i. p. 195. Sidney goes on to quote the proverb, Orator fit, Poeta nascitur. This and the more common saying, Poeta nascitur, non fit, have not been traced further back than the fifteenth century. Ibid. p. 397.

66.  Ker, vol. ii. p. 138.

67.  Ibid. vol. i. p. 86.

68.  Answer to Davenant (1650), Spingarn, vol. ii. p. 59.

69.  Ibid. p. 25.

70.  Ker, vol. i. p. 222. This absurd emendation (ou for e) was borrowed, as professor Ker points out, from the French critic, Rapin. Ibid. p. 318.

71.  R. Wolseley, Preface to Rochester’s Valentinian (1685), Spingarn, vol. iii. p. 12.

72.  Sir William Alexander’s Anacrisis, Spingarn, vol. i. p. 185.

73.  Dennis in Nichol Smith, Eighteenth-Century Essays on Shakespeare, p. 24.

74.  On Poetry, Spingarn, vol. iii. p. 48.

75.  Rambler, No. 154, Sept. 7, 1751.

76.  Reynolds’s Discourses, ed. Fry, 1905, p. 175.

77.  Among those which I have made use of in writing this paper may be mentioned:

1751  Richard Hurd, A Discourse concerning Poetical imitation. (In Hurd’s edition of Horace’s Epistolae ad Pisones et Augustum, vol. 11.)

1754  Thomas Warton, Observations on the Faerie Queene.

1755  William Sharpe, A Dissertation upon Genius.

1756  Edmund Burke, Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful.

1759  Edward Young, Conjectures on Original Composition.

1762  Richard Hurd, Letters on Chivalry and Romance.

1766  E. Capell, Reflections on Originality in Authors.

1767  [W. Duff], An Essay on Original Genius.

1769  Mrs. Montagu, An Essay on the Writings and Genius of Shakespeare.

1769  Robert Wood, An Essay on the Original Genius of Homer.

1774  Alexander Gerard, An Essay on Genius.

78.  In his Discourse on Lyric Poetry (1728), Young had already emphasized this notion  that the methods, not the works, of the ancients, should be imitated.

79.  Preface to the Poems of C. Triller, 1751. Quoted in Grimm’s Wörterbuch, and more fully in Lessing’s Schriften (1838), vol. iii. p. 214. Campe proposed Schöpfergeist (“creative spirit”) as a translation for genius (Grimm, Wörterbuch).

80.  Readers of Goethe’s Wahrheit und Dichtung will remember how he embodied these watchwords in a witty address to a Leipzig baker:

Who bakes

With creative genius, original cakes.

(Du bäckst ...

Mit schöpferischem Genie, originelle Kuchen) (Book VII.)

    German critics are agreed in tracing these watchwords and the ideas they embody to English sources, and above all to Young’s Conjectures (see Edward Young in Germany, by J. L. Kind, New York, 1906).        From Genie the     Germans coined the adjectives genial and genialisch, meaning “characterized by genius” in its modern sense. Our word genial comes through the Latin genialis, from genius, meaning “social enjoyment.” The French word génial is borrowed from  German, with its German meaning.

81.  A History of English Romanticism in the Eighteenth Century, by Henry A. Beers, London (1899), p. 422.

82.  One of the pioneers of the medieval revival in England was Thomas Warton, Professor of Poetry at Oxford, a Poet Laureate in 1785. Professor Beers rightly calls attention to the interest, in the history of the English Romantic Movement, of his poem on Sir Joshua Reynolds’s window in New College Chapel (published in 1784). Warton confesses that, “a faithless truant to the classic page,” he had loved to explore old mansions and castles, and Gothic churches,

 “Where superstition, with capricious hand

In many a maze the wreathed window plann’d,

With hues romantic ting’d the gorgeous pane,

To fill with holy light the wondrous fane;”

but then he goes on to tell how the “chaste design” and just proportions of Reynolds’s window disenchanted his cheated mind,

                           “Broke the Gothic chain

And brought my bosom back to truth again.”

He then urges, in manner of a palinode, that the brawny prophets the bearded patriarchs, the virgins and angels, the martyrdoms and miracles of the Gothic glass, should

 “No more the sacred window’s round disgrace,

But yield to Grecian groupes the shining space.”

To visit New College Chapel with these verses, and attempt to recapture the mood of this recantation, would be a useful exercise in the historical study of bygone ways of feeling. The same conflict is expressed by Horace Walpole’s account of his feelings at Stowe. “The Grecian Temple is glorious: this I openly worship: in the heretical corner of my heart I adore the Gothic building” (Letters, ed. Toynbee, vol. iii. p. 181). It is amusing to learn that Reynolds was not at all convinced of the genuineness of Warton’s recantation. “I owe you great obligations,” he wrote him, “for the sacrifice which you have made, or pretend to have made, to modern art: I say pretend; for though it is allowed that you have, like a true poet, feigned marvellously well, and have opposed the two different styles with the skill of a connoisseur, yet I may be allowed to entertain some doubts of the sincerity of your conversion. I have no great confidence in the recantation of such an old offender.” Thomas Warton, Poetical Works (1802), vol. i. pp. lxxx–i.

83.  This distinction was noticed by Condillac in his Essai sur l’origine des connaissances humaines (1746), I. ii. par. 104, when, writing of invention, he says, Il y en a de deux espèces: le talent et le génie. Celui-là combine les idées d’un art ou d’une science connue, d’une manière propre à produire les effets qu’on en doit naturellement attendre ... Celui-ci ajoute au talent l’idée d’esprit, en quelque sorte, créateur. Il invente de nouveaux arts, ou, dans le même art, de nouveaux genres égaux ... Un homme à talent a un caractère qui peut appartenir à d’autres; ... Un homme de génie a un caractère original, il est inimitable.

    The conception of Genius was the product of the whole movement of European thought; and to this France, as well as England and Germany, made its contribution. But the French conception was not as near to our modern conception as the above quotation would seem to indicate. The connexion between imagination and genius was first suggested in England; in France genius was more connected with esprit. Condillac denied any real creative power to genius; its activity consisted for him in the power of combining in new relations the materials furnished by experience. This, he said, was invention. Genius possessed invention in a higher degree than talent; it was an esprit simple which was able to find what no one had ever been able to discover before (see L. Dewaule,  Condillac et la psychologie anglaise contemporaine (1892), pp. 89–90). The notions current in France on these subjects are embodied and discussed by Voltaire in his Dictionnaire philosophique, articles Esprit, Génie, Imagination¸ etc.

84.  With regard to present usage, the Oxford Dictionary says, “The difference between genius and talent has been formulated very variously by different writers, but there is general agreement in regarding the former as the higher of the two, as ‘creative’ and ‘original,’ and as achieving its results by instinctive perception and spontaneous activity, rather than by processes which admit of being distinctly analyzed.”

85.  The abstract terms Romanticism and Classicism are not found in English with the meanings they had acquired abroad till a later date (Romanticism 1844, Classicism 1837). The problems involved took the form, in the concrete English way, of a discussion as to whether Pope could be called a poet, and an attempt to establish an antithesis between magical and evocative poetry, as opposed to a rhetorical and didactic verse.

86.  Review of Southey’s Thalaba, Oct. 1802.

87.  The first instance of the appellation Lake School which the Oxford Dictionary cites is from an article of Jeffrey’s in the Edinburgh Review of Aug. 1817.

88.  It would be interesting to discover when the English Romantic poets of the early nineteenth century were first all grouped together under this Anglo-Franco-German term. Writing in 1886, Alois Brandl remarked in his Life of Coleridge that the phrase “Lake School” was a name, but not a designation, and suggested that this group of poets, with the addition of Scott (but not the more “classical” Keats, Byron, and Shelley), should be called the English “Romantic School” (English translation, p. 222). I do not know when first the Lake Poets were grouped together with Byron, Keats, Shelley, and Scott as “Romantic poets,”, but it must be fairly recent.

89.  Brandl, in his Life of Coleridge, says that Coleridge derived the distinction he made between Genius and Talent (“talent was manufacture, Genius a gift, that no labour or study could supply,” etc.) from his reading of Jean Paul Richter; and that also the famous distinction between Fancy and the “higher and creative” faculty of Imagination was derived from the same source (Brandl, English translation, p. 316). However, this latter distinction had already been suggested by Dryden, who wrote, “the first happiness of the poet’s imagination is properly invention, or finding of the thought; the second is fancy, or the variation, deriving, or moulding of that thought” (Ker, vol. i. p. 15). The distinction, however, was not noticed by Dryden’s contemporaries, nor did Dryden himself afterwards observe it. Addison explicitly stated in 1712 that he used Fancy and Imagination promiscuously (Spectator, No. 411). The distinction between the two was, however, elaborated by W. Duff in his Essay on Original Genius (1767) – a book that Coleridge must, I think, have read. “Wit & Humour,” Duff writes, “are produced by the efforts of a rambling and sportive Fancy, the latter [Genius] proceeds from the copious effusions of a plastic Imagination” (p. 52). “A vigorous, extensive, and plastic Imagination is the principal qualification of the one [Genius], and a quick and lively fancy the distinguishing characteristic of the other” (p. 58).

    The distinction, also emphasized by Coleridge, between “mechanical” and “organic” – the products of Fancy and Talent being “mechanical,” those of Imagination and Genius being “organic” – is also traced by Brandl to Coleridge’s reading of Schlegel and Jean Paul Richter. It was Leibnitz who first suggested this distinction; its aesthetic application was worked out in Germany, although, as usual, we find it casually suggested in England in the eighteenth century, as when Young writes, “an original may be said to be of a vegetable nature,” etc. (see ante, p. 27). Young uses the word mechanic, but not the word organic. The first appearance which I have found of organic with this meaning is in Coleridge’s Lectures on Shakespeare (delivered in 1810–11, and published in 1849), where he attributes the error of Voltaire’s abuse of Shakespeare to “the confounding of mechanical regularity with organic form” (ed. 1865, p. 54).

90.  Of other additions to our vocabulary of criticism, perhaps the most important is the use of the old word imaginative with the meaning, as defined by the O.E.D., of “characterized by, or resulting from, the productive Imagination; bearing evidence of high poetic or creative fancy.” The first quotation for this use given by the O.E.D. is from the introduction to Scott’s Guy Mannering in the edition of 1829. Realism as a term of art-criticism was used by Ruskin in 1856, realistic by Emerson in the same year, and realist by Swinburne in 1870.

91.  German critics have ascribed to Schiller the first real appreciation of the aesthetic significance of music.

92.  Shaftesbury refers to the harmony of music in his Characteristicks (Part III., 3), and Capell to the non-imitative arts, architecture and music, in his Reflections on Originality (1766).

93.  The emergence of the words taste and aesthetic are other indications of this subjective trend in criticism. The use of taste to describe a “special function of the mind” is generally attributed to the Spanish Jesuit Gracian (1601–58), and Addison ascribes the phrase “the fine taste” to him (see Spingarn, vol. i. p. xcii.). The first instance of its use in English is in the line, quoted by the O.E.D. from Paradise Regained, “Sion’s songs, to all true tastes excelling” (iv. 347). Aesthetic is an invention of a German critic of the eighteenth century, Baumgarten. it is first found in English in 1798 (O.E.D.).

94.                     “Fam’d be thy tutor, and thy parts of nature

Thrice-fam’d, beyond all erudition”

(Troilus and Cressida II. iii. 256–7).

So also Sir Henry Wotton writes of Essex, “The Earl was of good Erudition, having been placed at Study in Cambridge very young” (quoted O.E.D.).

95.  Quoted O.E.D.  So also the O.E.D. quotes from another writer, “the Merit both of Intaglio’s and Cameo’s depends on their Erudition, on the goodness of the Workmanship, and on the Beauty of their Polish.”

96.  See The Times, May 11, 1914, p. 9.

97.  A Defence of Poetry.

98.  “There is in genius itself an unconscious activity; nay, that is the genius in the man of genius.” Coleridge, Essay on Poesy in Art (Biographia Literaria, ed. Shawcross, vol. ii. p. 258). “Talent differs from genius, as voluntary differs from involuntary power.” Hazlitt, the Indian Jugglers, Table Talk, vol. i. p. 195. “The definition of genius is that it acts unconsciously; and those who have produced immortal works, have done so without knowing how or why. The greatest power operates unseen.” Plain Speaker, i. p. 284.

99.  How much “originality” we should find in the poem of Catullus, ille mi par esse deo videtur, did we not know that this poem was a direct translation from Sappho!

100.  Life of Walter.

101.  Life of Pope.

102.  “A long poem is a test of invention, which I take to be the Polar Star of Poetry, as Fancy is the Sails and Imagination the rudder.” Letter to Bailey, Oct. 8, 1817.

103.  Histoire du Romantisme, p. 65.

104.  Biog. Lit., chap. xiii.

105.  Times Literary Supplement, Sept. 20, 1917.

106.  Oxford Lectures on Poetry, pp. 5, 6.

107.  Herford, the Age of Wordsworth, p. 236.

108.  The Sense of Beauty, p. 180.

109.  Poetry and Religion, pp. 269–70.

110.  The Poetical Works of Robert Bridges (1912), p. 191.