Coleridge became known in the Victorian period as one of the most important apologists for the liberal Anglican point of view, clearly foreseeing the difficulties which would inevitably beset the Evangelicals who insisted upon literal interpretation of the Scriptures in defiance of scientific discoveries. His father was an Anglican vicar, but Coleridge was an intellectually rebellious youth, earning his bread in 1796-97 as a Unitarian preacher.

He returned to the Church of England in 1814, and his most significant writings on religion are Lay Sermons (1817), Aids to Reflection (1825), and The Constitution of Church and State (1830).

In his notebooks of 1795-97, Coleridge lists five stages of prayer, from "the pressure of immediate calamities" to "horrible solitude," "repentance and regret," "celestial delectation," and "self-annihilation." And shortly after his death in1834, his friend Thomas de Quincey wrote in Tait's Magazine, "he told me as his own particular opinion that the art of praying was the highest energy of which the human heart was capable; praying, that is, with the total concentration of the faculties." What sort of prayers do you find in his poetry? (Especially The Rime of the Ancient Mariner ? Who prays, and which of the above conditions apply when they do so? What relation does prayer have to subsequent events?

Incorporated in the Victorian Web July 2000