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Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the Anglican Church

Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the Anglican Church

by Luke Wright


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"Wright's book establishes, persuasively, that Coleridge's radicalism, both political and theological, was indeed fleeting and that Coleridge made a very significant contribution to what has been called 'the gathering forces of Toryism.' Further, the book traces Coleridge's adaptation of Hooker as he confronted, theologically, the writings of Sacheverell and Warburton and, ultimately, traces his idea of a clerisy and influence on Gladstone and thus the Oxford Movement." —Richard S. Tomlinson, Richland College

"This erudite analysis of Coleridge's theology will provide scholars and critics with valuable new perspectives on a difficult subject." —Duncan Wu, Georgetown University

This book is the first systematic historical examination of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's prose religious works. Coleridge (1772-1834), the son of a clergyman, "was born and died a communicating member of the Church of England." He was a prolific writer on the subject of the relationship between church and state. At age twenty-three, Coleridge published his first theological work, Lectures on Revealed Religion, which focused on the concept of reason facilitating virtue. Luke Wright maintains that this theme unites Coleridge's theological writings, including the posthumous Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit (1935). Although he was an advocate of radical politics in the 1790s, by the time Coleridge published The Friend (1809), he had become high Tory. His major contribution to Anglican religious discourse was the revival of the Tory position on church and state, which saw the two as an organic unity rather than separate entities forming an alliance. His writings were vigorously opposed to the Court Whig theory of church and state. After Coleridge's death in 1834, his arguments were taken up by William Gladstone and carried forward. Wright's careful reconstruction of Coleridge's dedication to church-state issues provides a new perspective on the writer himself and on the intellectual history of early nineteenth-century England.

"This is an impressively focused work detailing Coleridge's biographical journey through radical politics and high Toryism with an initial and final commitment to Anglicanism, despite encounters and affiliations with other denominations. . . . [A]n original work of scholarship that contributes to an understanding of Coleridge's thought and to the study of church-state theory of the nineteenth century." —Claire Colebrook, Pennsylvania State University

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780268044183
Publisher: University of Notre Dame Press
Publication date: 05/31/2010
Pages: 306
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Luke Savin Herrick Wright is a visiting scholar in the Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia.

Table of Contents

Part 1 Coleridge as a Young Man

1 Coleridge's Political Milieu 3

2 Coleridge's Religious Milieu 32

3 A Theology of Pantisocracy 59

Part 2 The "Landing-Place"

4 Warburton's and Coleridge's Readings of Hooker in Counterpoint 85

Part 3 Coleridge's Mature Project

5 The Friend: The Project Outlined 103

6 The Lay Sermons: The Christian's Actions in Society 133

7 Aids to Reflection: Dissecting the Changeling 146

8 On the Divine Ideas: Coleridge's Systematic Theology 159

9 On the Constitution of the Church and State: The Christian Nature of Society 185

10 Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit: Interpretation of the Society 206

Part 4 The Soul of Toryism

11 Coleridge in a Tory Historical Context 225

Bibliography 272

Index 282

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