Nathan W. Bingham
Connecting in a Hyper-Connected World

William Symington’s Love for (Addiction to) Books

In the recent work by Roy Blackwood, William Symington: Penman of the Scottish Covenanters (which has been described by one minister as “part historical theology, part systematic theology, part biblical theology, and part spiritual biography”) Blackwood includes a rather “tongue-in-cheek” quote from a letter Symington wrote to a minister friend in 1829 describing his love for (addiction to) books:

The love of books is with me a perfect mania. When I see anything particular advertised, I immediately conceive a wish to have it – I persuade myself that really I ought to have it – and between the desire to have it and the reluctance to pay for it I am on the fidgets day and night. Then some demon or other whispers, “Your credit is good, it is a good while to the month of May, before then you will have had your purse replenished with next half year’s stipend” – the temptation succeeds; and off goes a post letter for the desired article, all objections, financial as well as others, being unceremoniously sent about their business. In this way I have nearly ruined myself – and the worst of it is that I am nearly incorrigible. Unlike other sinners, misery does not lead me to repent – or if I do repent, I do not at all events reform. Can you tell me what is to become of me? The jail I suppose. (p.65)