Coleridge and the Idea of History

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coleridge spoke in September 1831 of his wish ‘to make History scientific, and Science historical – to take from History its accidentality – and from Science its fatalism’. This self-description raises the question of Coleridge’s status as a ‘scientific historian’. Is Coleridge a prototype for R.G. Collingwood’s definition of this mode of scientific study, of solving problems, not surveying periods, putting questions to ‘the world of ideas’ which historical evidence ‘creates in the present’? Is Coleridge, alternatively, the pattern of Collingwood’s deluded ‘pigeon-holer’, arranging the past ‘in a single scheme’ and bragging about ‘raising history to the rank of a science’. Re-reading Coleridge with Collingwood and twenty-first century accounts of historical idealism and of ‘presence’, I trace a distinct historical interest back through Church and State (1829), The Friend (1818) and Biographia Literaria (1817) to the ‘Comparison’ essays of 1802.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-55
Number of pages14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • Burke
  • Coleridge
  • Collingwood
  • facts
  • interpretation
  • method
  • progress


Dive into the research topics of 'Coleridge and the Idea of History'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this