8vo, first edition, presentation copy inscribed by the author to his son derwent coleridge ("Derwent Coleridge | from his affectionate | Father.| S.T. Coleridge"), additional note by Coleridge to Derwent on front endpaper ("I will send you another copy | with the MSS Adddenda. At | present I am preparing one for | Lord Liverpool."), extensive autograph annotations by the author in ink (one in pencil) to at least 34 pages of the text, 4pp. of advertisements at the end, contemporary smooth calf, marbled endpapers, rebacked, repairs to hinges
a prolifically annotated copy of coleridge's major work on religion, presented to his son.
Aids to Reflection is a collection of commentaries and aphorisms on selected passages from the seventeenth-century Anglican divine Archbishop Leighton, the two main objects of which were to stress Coleridge's vision of Christianity as a 'personal revelation' and to develop further his famous distinction between Reason and Understanding. Most of the annotations are elaborations or further commentaries on the text (such as logical 'proofs' of the existence of God like the Cosmological argument, the doctrine of the Trinity, the meaning of "The World" and "Worldliness" in scripture, etc). However there are also revisions to the text, corrections, occasional deletions, and two tipped-in manuscript notes (one in the Preface, a note affixed to and replacing the original text, concerning "What? for Whom?" the work is intended, and another, between p.14 and p.15, about the "prudentials of Religion", and the "Moral Requisites").
Wise records that all of the seven editions of Aids to Reflection published between 1825 and 1854 "differ from each other in a greater or lesser degree".
John Beer (Oxford DNB) records that Coleridge's anxieties about the recipient here, his son Derwent, were an important factor in the author's final revisions to the work. Derwent had become part of a brilliant circle of sceptics at Cambridge which included Thomas Babington Macaulay and the poets Chauncey Hare Townsend and Sidney Walker. But Derwent had become troubled, partly owing to the loss of his orthodox Christian faith, and partly owing to his father's inability to support him financially. Later he regained his faith, and in 1839 published The Scriptural Character of the English Church (see copy inscribed to his mother Sara in lot 56), which "clarified his beliefs in the light of his own reconversion and also in the climate of religious debate fuelled by the Oxford Movement and the dissident low churches" (Cherry Durrant, Oxford DNB).
This copy is not recorded by Barbara Rosenbaum in her listing of other annotated copies in Index of English Literary Manuscripts, Vol.IV, Arnold-Gissing, compiled by Rosenbaum and Pamela White, 1982 (Cos 847-856, pp. 587-588). This includes copies inscribed to James Gillman (British Library), John Taylor Coleridge (British Library), the Rev. Edward Coleridge (Pierpont Morgan) and Robert Southey (Rosenbach).
The "MSS Addenda" Coleridge promises to send to Derwent in the initial inscription may well be the "Addenda, Inserenda, Substituenda, et Annotanda..." now held in Victoria College Library, Toronto (CMS F2. 10., probably part of the "Leatherhead Collection", formerly in the possession of Ernest Hartley Coleridge, Derwent's son). The recipient of the other copy was Robert Banks Jenkinson, second earl of Liverpool (1770-1828), secretary of state for war and the colonies during the Peninsular War (1809-12), and British Prime Minister for fifteen years from 1812, when he guided the country through the last stages of the Napoleonic wars, the period of repression which followed it, and its aftermath. Coleridge publicly supported Liverpool's Tory government in the pages of The Courier, to the dismay of Hazlitt, who denounced him as a "turncoat".
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