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The Idea of the Constitution: On the Constitution of the Church and State, According to the Idea of Each (1829)

  • John Morrow
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Part of the Coleridge’s Writings book series (COLWRIT)

Abstract

On the Constitution of the Church and State1 is Coleridge’s last and most important contribution to political theory. In this work he analyses the constitutional requirements of a state that would facilitate an advance towards the ends specified in A Lay Sermon and in The Friend. The principle of balance, which plays an important role in A Lay Sermon, is here applied to the organisation of political and constitutional, rather than social, forces, although these are seen as reflecting the social and economic power associated with the ownership of property. Coleridge focuses on both a narrow and a wide conception of the Constitution. The ‘constitution of the state’ (narrow conception) is concerned with the organisation of government, and the representation of interests; it balances differing proprietorial interests and different sorts of social powers. The ‘constitution of the nation’, however, is broader, and necessarily includes the National Church. This institution counterbalances the interests and powers included in the narrow idea of the Constitution by providing an institutionalised and independent focus for an educated and educational elite who preserve, convey and enrich the ‘culture’ of the community, or its particular expression of those distinctly human values that reflect men’s status as creatures who are marked off from the rest of God’s creation.

Keywords

Essential Character Body Politic Large Sense Christian Church Professional Classis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 8.
    Edinburgh was, of course, associated with the Edinburgh Review; there were well-known dissenting institutions at Hackney. Jonathan Edwards (1703–58) was the author of Enquiry intoFreedom of Will (1754); Alexander Crombie (1762–1840) wrote A Defence of Philosophic Necessity (1793); and William Lawrence (1783–1867) was the author of On the Physiology, Zoology, and Natural History of Man (1819), which was regarded as materialistic and atheistic. On these men see C & S, pp. 17–18, nn. 3–5.Google Scholar
  2. Edinburgh was, of course, associated with the Edinburgh Review; there were well-known dissenting institutions at Hackney. Jonathan Edwards (1703–58) was the author of Enquiry intoFreedom of Will (1754); Alexander Crombie (1762–1840) wrote A Defence of Philosophic Necessity (1793); and William Lawrence (1783–1867) was the author of On the Physiology, Zoology, and Natural History of Man (1819), which was regarded as materialistic and atheistic. On these men see C & S, pp. 17–18, nn. 3–5.Google Scholar
  3. Edinburgh was, of course, associated with the Edinburgh Review; there were well-known dissenting institutions at Hackney. Jonathan Edwards (1703–58) was the author of Enquiry intoFreedom of Will (1754); Alexander Crombie (1762–1840) wrote A Defence of Philosophic Necessity (1793); and William Lawrence (1783–1867) was the author of On the Physiology, Zoology, and Natural History of Man (1819), which was regarded as materialistic and atheistic. On these men see C & S, pp. 17–18, nn. 3–5.Google Scholar
  4. 10.
    Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man (1792), II.iv.Google Scholar
  5. 12.
    From Sir John Davies, Irish Reports (1615), and Andrew Horn, The Mirrour of Justices (1646). Coleridge’s use of Davies makes his position sound similar to the form of ‘ancient constitutionalism’ found in Edmund Burke — see J. G. A Pocock, ‘Burke and the Ancient Constitution: A Problem in the History of Ideas’, Politics, Language and Time (New York, 1971) pp. 202–32 — but in fact Coleridge’s idea of the Constitution is far less static than Burke’s; see J. D. Coates, ‘Coleridge’s Debt to Harrington: A Discussion of Zapolya’, JHI, 38 (1977) 501–8.Google Scholar
  6. From Sir John Davies, Irish Reports (1615), and Andrew Horn, The Mirrour of Justices (1646). Coleridge’s use of Davies makes his position sound similar to the form of ‘ancient constitutionalism’ found in Edmund Burke — see J. G. A Pocock, ‘Burke and the Ancient Constitution: A Problem in the History of Ideas’, Politics, Language and Time (New York, 1971) pp. 202–32 — but in fact Coleridge’s idea of the Constitution is far less static than Burke’s; see J. D. Coates, ‘Coleridge’s Debt to Harrington: A Discussion of Zapolya’, JHI, 38 (1977) 501–8.Google Scholar
  7. From Sir John Davies, Irish Reports (1615), and Andrew Horn, The Mirrour of Justices (1646). Coleridge’s use of Davies makes his position sound similar to the form of ‘ancient constitutionalism’ found in Edmund Burke — see J. G. A Pocock, ‘Burke and the Ancient Constitution: A Problem in the History of Ideas’, Politics, Language and Time (New York, 1971) pp. 202–32 — but in fact Coleridge’s idea of the Constitution is far less static than Burke’s; see J. D. Coates, ‘Coleridge’s Debt to Harrington: A Discussion of Zapolya’, JHI, 38 (1977) 501–8.Google Scholar
  8. From Sir John Davies, Irish Reports (1615), and Andrew Horn, The Mirrour of Justices (1646). Coleridge’s use of Davies makes his position sound similar to the form of ‘ancient constitutionalism’ found in Edmund Burke — see J. G. A Pocock, ‘Burke and the Ancient Constitution: A Problem in the History of Ideas’, Politics, Language and Time (New York, 1971) pp. 202–32 — but in fact Coleridge’s idea of the Constitution is far less static than Burke’s; see J. D. Coates, ‘Coleridge’s Debt to Harrington: A Discussion of Zapolya’, JHI, 38 (1977) 501–8.Google Scholar
  9. 13.
    See Spinoza, Tractatus politicus (1677) VI.iii.5; in The Political Works of Benedict de Spinoza, tr. A. G. Wemham (Oxford, 1958) pp. 315–17.Google Scholar
  10. See Spinoza, Tractatus politicus (1677) VI.iii.5; in The Political Works of Benedict de Spinoza, tr. A. G. Wemham (Oxford, 1958) pp. 315–17.Google Scholar
  11. 23.
    See also CL, II, 803, 806; and John Morrow, ‘The National Church in Coleridge’s Church and State: A Response to Allen’, JHI, 47 (1986) 644–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 26.
    Sharon Turner (1768–1847), A History of the Reign of Henry VIII (1826).Google Scholar
  13. 54.
    Ovid, Epistulae ex Ponto, n.ix.48; translation from A. L. Wheeler’s edn in the Loeb Classical Library (1924) p. 363.Google Scholar
  14. 66.
    Charles Dallison, The Royalist’s Defence (1648) p. 41. See above, note 61.Google Scholar
  15. 68.
    Martin Luther, Colloquia Mensalia (1652) p. 298; translation from C & S, p. 130, n. 2.Google Scholar
  16. 76.
    Based on Henry More (1614–87), A Modest Inquiry into the Mystery of Iniquity, II.ix, in Theological Works (1708) pp. 486–7.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Morrow
    • 1
  1. 1.Victoria University of WellingtonNew Zealand

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