I remember, that at eight years old I walked with him one evening from a farmer's house, a mile from Ottery [their home] -- & he told me the names of the stars -- and how Jupiter was a thousand times larger than our world -- and that the other twinkling stars were Suns that had worlds rolling around them -- & when I came home he showed me how they rolled around. I heard him with profound delight & admiration; but without the least mixture of Wonder or incredulity. For from my early reading of Faery Tales, & Genii etc etc -- my mind had been habituated to the Vast.From pp. 111-112 of The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science (Richard Holmes)
Coleridge's reference to wonder and incredulity carried a different meaning in his day. The discovery of Uranus in early 1781 by amateur astronomer William Herschel sent shock waves throughout the western world. Saturn, discovered by the ancient Greeks, was believed to represent the boundary of the galaxy. Herschel's discovery doubled the size of the known galaxy and opened up the probability that the universe was immensely larger than anyone -- even the scientists of the Enlightenment -- had thought. Galileo revealed that man was not the center of the cosmos; now, man was forced to confront the likelihood that he was a miniscule part of it. Thus, "Wonder" came to represent a complex combination of pride in Herschel's accomplishment and anxiety over its implications.