While best known as a Romantic poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) held government posts in the British government of Malta from April 1804 to September 1805. The location was chosen in part to aid the poet’s poor health.
From April 1804 to September 1805, Coleridge served in Malta as Secretary to the Governor, Sir Alexander Ball. Coleridge enjoyed his work, practicing his Italian (the official language used in the Maltese government) as he signed himself “Segretario Pubblico dell’ Isole di Malta, Gozo, e delle loro dipendenze” many times each day. Ball was a popular figure, and Coleridge later described him as a “truly great man.” Privately, however, Coleridge was unhappy in Malta, and was frequently ill.
Hostility towards the Maltese Jewish population was increasing in the Spring of 1805. On May 22, Coleridge wrote two official notices for the Governor; the first condemned the “popular prejudice” against the Jews, and the second alerted its readers that three people will be whipped and exiled for inventing and spreading false rumors, and advised those who would commit similar offenses that they will be treated the same way.
This kind of Coleridge ephemera is rather rare, and is an exciting addition to Houghton’s extensive holdings of Coleridge material, which include books from the poet’s library, Coleridge’s own publications, and manuscript collections of compositions and correspondence, all of which can be viewed by searching Hollis.
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