Letter to Robert Southey
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

30 April 1799

Our little Hovel is almost afloat—poor Sara tired off her legs with servanting— the young one fretful & noisy from confinement exerts his activities on all for- bidden Things—the house stinks of Sulphur—I however, sunk in Spinoza, remain as undisturbed as a Toad in a Rock / that is to say, when my rheumatic pains are asleep.

Chapter Seven of Mariner is both information-rich and difficult to summarize, so I hope you’ve enjoyed it with slow, thoughtful reading.  If so, you are kin to Coleridge whose love for learning both fed his spirit yet exacerbated his troubled marriage.  Throughout his life, he “bolted” from difficulties rather than facing them.

Commenting on today’s excerpt, Malcolm Guite writes in Mariner, Chapter Seven:

There is more to this last remark than meets the eye, and it marks an ominous development. Rheumatic pains had been a constant in Coleridge’s life from the time he had rheumatic fever as a child and had been the occasion, even while he was at Christ’s Hospital, of his being dosed with laudanum. That last image of being sunk in Spinoza and undisturbed as a toad in the rock, suggests a retreat against pain into a combination of opium and metaphysics. It was this combination which Coleridge himself later diagnosed as having been both what killed his poetic spirit and what ultimately rendered him an addict. For now, these were only brief bouts of withdrawal, though it can hardly have been helpful to Sara, having waited so long for his return, to find him in the midst of a crisis retreating into reading and opium.

Has your love for reading ever caused a strain on your relationships?






Rick Wilcox is Editor in Chief


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Rick Wilcox

Rick is an ordained minister who is voraciously interested in the holistic transformation of people individually and in an organizational context - enabled by technology, educated continuously through multi-channel systems and informed by the wisdom of history's greatest thinkers. He is a Ph.D. student at Faulkner University, focusing on English Literature in the context of Classical Education. He earned a Master of Arts in Christian Education at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Master of Science in Management from Sam Houston State University. His undergraduate studies earned a BA with double majors in Sociology and Theology from Houston Baptist University. Rick is Deputy Director of PACES PAideia Classical School and leads the Parenting Teens Adult Community at Faith Bible Church in The Woodlands Texas.