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Coleridge's Laws: A Study of Coleridge in Malta

Coleridge's Laws: A Study of Coleridge in Malta Barry Hough and Howard Davis
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-906924-12-6 £15.95
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-906924-13-3 £29.95
PDF ISBN: 978-1-906924-14-0 £0.00

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With its detailed account of the British system of administration and legal process, this book sheds fresh light on the complex relations between the British administrators and the Maltese public during Coleridge's sojourn on the island. [...] The authors of Coleridge's Laws provide a thorough and rigorously researched study (drawing on new archival material) of Malta in the first decade of British rule, focusing largely on the legislative and executive powers of the civil administration and Coleridge's role (as Public Secretary) in securing the loyalty of the Maltese to the British administration.

—Peter Vassallo, The BARS Review

Hough and Davis have produced a very thorough and disquieting account, which challenges our understanding of Coleridge's liberal idealism and contributes a fine study in the field of British colonialism.
—Nick Powell, The Coleridge Bulletin

Samuel Taylor Coleridge is best known as a great poet and literary theorist, but for one, quite short, period of his life he held real political power—acting as Public Secretary to the British Civil Commissioner in Malta in 1805. This was a formative experience for Coleridge which he later identified as being one of the most instructive in his entire life. In this book, Barry Hough and Howard Davis show how Coleridge's actions whilst in a position of power differ markedly from the idealism he had advocated before taking office—shedding new light on Coleridge's sense of political and legal morality.

Meticulously researched and including newly discovered archival materials, Coleridge's Laws provides detailed analysis of the laws and public notices drafted by Coleridge, together with the first published translations of them. Drawing from a wealth of primary sources, Hough and Davis identify the political challenges facing Coleridge and reveal that, in attempting to win over the Maltese public to support Britain's strategic interests, Coleridge was complicit in acts of government which were both inconsistent with the rule of law and contrary to his professed beliefs. Coleridge's willingness to overlook accepted legal processes and personal misgivings for political expediency is disturbing and, as explained by Michael John Kooy in his extensive introduction, necessarily alters our understanding of the author and his writing.

Coleridge's Laws contributes in new ways to the current debates about Coleridge's achievements, British colonialism and its engagement with the rule of law, nationhood and the effectiveness of the British administration of Malta. It provides essential reading for anybody interested in Coleridge specifically and the Romantics more generally, for political and legal historians and for students of colonial government.

Coleridge's Laws: A Study of Coleridge in Malta
Barry Hough and Howard Davis | January 2010
xxviii + 375 | 15 black and white illustrations | 6.14" x 9.21" (234 x 156 mm)
ISBN Paperback: 9781906924126
ISBN Hardback: 9781906924133
ISBN Digital (PDF): 9781906924140
DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0005
BIC subject codes: LAZ (Legal history), BGL (Biography: literary); BISAC subject codes: BIO007000 (BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Literary Figures), LIT014000 (LITERARY CRITICISM / Poetry); OCLC Number: 608626377.

Introduction by Michael John Kooy
1. The Battle of Self
2. Coleridge's Malta
3. The Constitutional Position of the Civil Commissioner
4. Coleridge's Proclamations and Public Notices
5. Thematic Analysis of the Proclamations and Public Notices
6. An Assessment of the Proclamations and Public Notices
Appendix 1. Translations of the Proclamations and Public Notices (by Lydia Davis)
Appendix 2. The British Occupation of Malta
Barry Hough, previously holding the title of Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law at Southampton Institute, is now a Senior Lecturer at the School of Law for the University of Portsmouth. He is the author of numerous articles in the field of Constitutional and Administrative law and Employment law and of the leading monograph Street Trading and Markets and Fairs (Boston, UK, 1994). Barry Hough is also a contributor to four editions of J. Alder, Constitutional and Administrative Law (Basingstoke and New York) and to William Blake Odgers (ed.), High Court Pleading & Practice (London, 1991).

Howard Davis is Professor of Social Theory and Institutions at Bangor University. As well as law and literature his other research and teaching interests relate to constitutional law and human rights, in particular the reception of European human rights law through the Human Rights Act 1998. His textbook, Human Rights Law Directions (Oxford, 2009) is now in its second edition.

Michael John Kooy is an Investment Advisor at RBC Dominion Securities Inc. He previously held the position of Associate Professor at the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at Warwick University. His main research interests lie in British and European Romanticism, especially Coleridge, and in the relationship between philosophy and literature. Kooy is the author of Coleridge, Schiller and Aesthetic Education (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002) and he is currently completing a book called Coleridge and War, which assesses Coleridge’s wartime activities as a journalist and poet in relation to his political theology.

Lydia Davis took her degree in Latin and Ancient History at Edinburgh University. Her PhD on British Travellers and the Rediscovery of Sicily, 16th-19th Centuries was awarded in 2006. She has lived and studied in Rome and Sicily. She currently works for Hansard at the House of Commons.
Coleridge’s Laws: A Study of Coleridge in Malta presents a side to Coleridge that some may find surprising: the propagandist[…]The situation (visionary poet as colonial legislator) suggests material for a farce, but Coleridge knew a great deal about the law from his time at The Morning Post, and his role in Malta was substantial. That means the administration’s frequent failings implicate Coleridge. Such experiences may also help scholars rethink Coleridge’s politics.
— David Stewart, The Year's Work in English Studies 91 (2012)
You can read the full review here.

The real achievement of Coleridge’s Laws lies in bringing to light important archival materials, which will fuel fresh perspectives on Maltese history and the endless conversation over Coleridge’s career.
— Gregory Leadbetter, Romanticism 17 (Oct 2011)
You can read the full review here.

The book supplements in fascinating and important ways Donald Sultana's masterful study of Coleridge's time in Malta [Samuel Taylor Coleridge in Malta and Italy, Oxford: Blackwell, 1969]. For the first time, the 21 official announcements which appeared over Coleridge's name in his capacity as Public Secretary are now published in full and translated (by Lydia Davis) from the original Italian. And they are subjected to a meticulous jurisprudential analysis by the authors, with a full commentary based on archival material which they have unearthed in England and Malta. [...] Hough and Davis have produced a very thorough and disquieting account, which challenges our understanding of Coleridge's liberal idealism and contributes a fine study in the field of British colonialism.
—Nick Powell, The Coleridge Bulletin 37 (Summer 2011), pp. 73-77