Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Biographia Literaria by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Part 2 out of 8

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.9 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

either memory or fancy; and, in conclusion, to appropriate the
remaining offices of the mind to the reason, and the imagination. With
my best efforts to be as perspicuous as the nature of language will
permit on such a subject, I earnestly solicit the good wishes and
friendly patience of my readers, while I thus go "sounding on my dim
and perilous way."


That Hartley's system, as far as it differs from that of Aristotle, is
neither tenable in theory, nor founded in facts.

Of Hartley's hypothetical vibrations in his hypothetical oscillating
ether of the nerves, which is the first and most obvious distinction
between his system and that of Aristotle, I shall say little. This,
with all other similar attempts to render that an object of the sight
which has no relation to sight, has been already sufficiently exposed
by the younger Reimarus, Maasz, and others, as outraging the very
axioms of mechanics in a scheme, the merit of which consists in its
being mechanical. Whether any other philosophy be possible, but the
mechanical; and again, whether the mechanical system can have any
claim to be called philosophy; are questions for another place. It is,
however, certain, that as long as we deny the former, and affirm the
latter, we must bewilder ourselves, whenever we would pierce into the
adyta of causation; and all that laborious conjecture can do, is to
fill up the gaps of fancy. Under that despotism of the eye (the
emancipation from which Pythagoras by his numeral, and Plato by his
musical, symbols, and both by geometric discipline, aimed at, as the
first propaideuma of the mind)--under this strong sensuous influence,
we are restless because invisible things are not the objects of
vision; and metaphysical systems, for the most part, become popular,
not for their truth, but in proportion as they attribute to causes a
susceptibility of being seen, if only our visual organs were
sufficiently powerful.

From a hundred possible confutations let one suffice. According to
this system the idea or vibration a from the external object A becomes
associable with the idea or vibration m from the external object M,
because the oscillation a propagated itself so as to re-produce the
oscillation m. But the original impression from M was essentially
different from the impression A: unless therefore different causes may
produce the same effect, the vibration a could never produce the
vibration m: and this therefore could never be the means, by which a
and m are associated. To understand this, the attentive reader need
only be reminded, that the ideas are themselves, in Hartley's system,
nothing more than their appropriate configurative vibrations. It is a
mere delusion of the fancy to conceive the pre-existence of the ideas,
in any chain of association, as so many differently coloured billiard-
balls in contact, so that when an object, the billiard-stick, strikes
the first or white ball, the same motion propagates itself through the
red, green, blue and black, and sets the whole in motion. No! we must
suppose the very same force, which constitutes the white ball, to
constitute the red or black; or the idea of a circle to constitute the
idea of a triangle; which is impossible.

But it may be said, that by the sensations from the objects A and M,
the nerves have acquired a disposition to the vibrations a and m, and
therefore a need only be repeated in order to re-produce m. Now we
will grant, for a moment, the possibility of such a disposition in a
material nerve, which yet seems scarcely less absurd than to say, that
a weather-cock had acquired a habit of turning to the east, from the
wind having been so long in that quarter: for if it be replied, that
we must take in the circumstance of life, what then becomes of the
mechanical philosophy? And what is the nerve, but the flint which the
wag placed in the pot as the first ingredient of his stone broth,
requiring only salt, turnips, and mutton, for the remainder! But if we
waive this, and pre-suppose the actual existence of such a
disposition; two cases are possible. Either, every idea has its own
nerve and correspondent oscillation, or this is not the case. If the
latter be the truth, we should gain nothing by these dispositions; for
then, every nerve having several dispositions, when the motion of any
other nerve is propagated into it, there will be no ground or cause
present, why exactly the oscillation m should arise, rather than any
other to which it was equally pre-disposed. But if we take the former,
and let every idea have a nerve of its own, then every nerve must be
capable of propagating its motion into many other nerves; and again,
there is no reason assignable, why the vibration m should arise,
rather than any other ad libitum.

It is fashionable to smile at Hartley's vibrations and vibratiuncles;
and his work has been re-edited by Priestley, with the omission of the
material hypothesis. But Hartley was too great a man, too coherent a
thinker, for this to have been done, either consistently or to any
wise purpose. For all other parts of his system, as far as they are
peculiar to that system, once removed from their mechanical basis, not
only lose their main support, but the very motive which led to their
adoption. Thus the principle of contemporaneity, which Aristotle had
made the common condition of all the laws of association, Hartley was
constrained to represent as being itself the sole law. For to what law
can the action of material atoms be subject, but that of proximity in
place? And to what law can their motions be subjected but that of
time? Again, from this results inevitably, that the will, the reason,
the judgment, and the understanding, instead of being the determining
causes of association, must needs be represented as its creatures, and
among its mechanical effects. Conceive, for instance, a broad stream,
winding through a mountainous country with an indefinite number of
currents, varying and running into each other according as the gusts
chance to blow from the opening of the mountains. The temporary union
of several currents in one, so as to form the main current of the
moment, would present an accurate image of Hartley's theory of the

Had this been really the case, the consequence would have been, that
our whole life would be divided between the despotism of outward
impressions, and that of senseless and passive memory. Take his law in
its highest abstraction and most philosophical form, namely, that
every partial representation recalls the total representation of which
it was a part; and the law becomes nugatory, were it only for its
universality. In practice it would indeed be mere lawlessness.
Consider, how immense must be the sphere of a total impression from
the top of St. Paul's church; and how rapid and continuous the series
of such total impressions. If, therefore, we suppose the absence of
all interference of the will, reason, and judgment, one or other of
two consequences must result. Either the ideas, or reliques of such
impression, will exactly imitate the order of the impression itself,
which would be absolute delirium: or any one part of that impression
might recall any other part, and--(as from the law of continuity,
there must exist in every total impression, some one or more parts,
which are components of some other following total impression, and so
on ad infinitum)--any part of any impression might recall any part of
any other, without a cause present to determine what it should be. For
to bring in the will, or reason, as causes of their own cause, that
is, as at once causes and effects, can satisfy those only who, in
their pretended evidences of a God, having first demanded
organization, as the sole cause and ground of intellect, will then
coolly demand the pre-existence of intellect, as the cause and ground-
work of organization. There is in truth but one state to which this
theory applies at all, namely, that of complete light-headedness; and
even to this it applies but partially, because the will and reason are
perhaps never wholly suspended.

A case of this kind occurred in a Roman Catholic town in Germany a
year or two before my arrival at Goettingen, and had not then ceased
to be a frequent subject of conversation. A young woman of four or
five and twenty, who could neither read, nor write, was seized with a
nervous fever; during which, according to the asseverations of all the
priests and monks of the neighbourhood, she became possessed, and, as
it appeared, by a very learned devil. She continued incessantly
talking Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, in very pompous tones and with most
distinct enunciation. This possession was rendered more probable by
the known fact that she was or had been a heretic. Voltaire humorously
advises the devil to decline all acquaintance with medical men; and it
would have been more to his reputation, if he had taken this advice in
the present instance. The case had attracted the particular attention
of a young physician, and by his statement many eminent physiologists
and psychologists visited the town, and cross-examined the case on the
spot. Sheets full of her ravings were taken down from her own mouth,
and were found to consist of sentences, coherent and intelligible each
for itself, but with little or no connection with each other. Of the
Hebrew, a small portion only could be traced to the Bible; the
remainder seemed to be in the Rabbinical dialect. All trick or
conspiracy was out of the question. Not only had the young woman ever
been a harmless, simple creature; but she was evidently labouring
under a nervous fever. In the town, in which she had been resident for
many years as a servant in different families, no solution presented
itself. The young physician, however, determined to trace her past
life step by step; for the patient herself was incapable of returning
a rational answer. He at length succeeded in discovering the place,
where her parents had lived: travelled thither, found them dead, but
an uncle surviving; and from him learned, that the patient had been
charitably taken by an old Protestant pastor at nine years old, and
had remained with him some years, even till the old man's death. Of
this pastor the uncle knew nothing, but that he was a very good man.
With great difficulty, and after much search, our young medical
philosopher discovered a niece of the pastor's, who had lived with him
as his house-keeper, and had inherited his effects. She remembered the
girl; related, that her venerable uncle had been too indulgent, and
could not bear to hear the girl scolded; that she was willing to have
kept her, but that, after her patron's death, the girl herself refused
to stay. Anxious inquiries were then, of course, made concerning the
pastor's habits; and the solution of the phenomenon was soon obtained.
For it appeared, that it had been the old man's custom, for years, to
walk up and down a passage of his house into which the kitchen door
opened, and to read to himself with a loud voice, out of his favourite
books. A considerable number of these were still in the niece's
possession. She added, that he was a very learned man and a great
Hebraist. Among the books were found a collection of Rabbinical
writings, together with several of the Greek and Latin Fathers; and
the physician succeeded in identifying so many passages with those
taken down at the young woman's bedside, that no doubt could remain in
any rational mind concerning the true origin of the impressions made
on her nervous system.

This authenticated case furnishes both proof and instance, that
reliques of sensation may exist for an indefinite time in a latent
state, in the very same order in which they were originally impressed;
and as we cannot rationally suppose the feverish state of the brain to
act in any other way than as a stimulus, this fact (and it would not
be difficult to adduce several of the same kind) contributes to make
it even probable, that all thoughts are in themselves imperishable;
and, that if the intelligent faculty should be rendered more
comprehensive, it would require only a different and apportioned
organization,--the body celestial instead of the body terrestrial,--to
bring before every human soul the collective experience of its whole
past existence. And this, this, perchance, is the dread book of
judgment, in the mysterious hieroglyphics of which every idle word is
recorded! Yea, in the very nature of a living spirit, it may be more
possible that heaven and earth should pass away, than that a single
act, a single thought, should be loosened or lost from that living
chain of causes, with all the links of which, conscious or
unconscious, the free-will, our only absolute Self, is coextensive and
co-present. But not now dare I longer discourse of this, waiting for a
loftier mood, and a nobler subject, warned from within and from
without, that it is profanation to speak of these mysteries tois maede
phantasteisin, os kalon to taes dikaiosynaes kai sophrosynaes
prosopon, kai oute hesperos oute eoos outo kala. To gar horon pros to
horomenon syngenes kai homoion poiaesamenon dei epiballein tae thea,
ou gar an popote eiden ophthalmos haelion, haelioeidaes mae
gegenaemenos oude to kalon an idae psychae, mae kagae genomenae--" to
those to whose imagination it has never been presented, how beautiful
is the countenance of justice and wisdom; and that neither the morning
nor the evening star are so fair. For in order to direct the view
aright, it behoves that the beholder should have made himself
congenerous and similar to the object beheld. Never could the eye have
beheld the sun, had not its own essence been soliform," (i.e. pre-
configured to light by a similarity of essence with that of light)
"neither can a soul not beautiful attain to an intuition of beauty."


Of the necessary consequences of the Hartleian Theory--Of the original
mistake or equivocation which procured its admission--Memoria

We will pass by the utter incompatibility of such a law--if law it may
be called, which would itself be a slave of chances--with even that
appearance of rationality forced upon us by the outward phaenomena of
human conduct, abstracted from our own consciousness. We will agree to
forget this for the moment, in order to fix our attention on that
subordination of final to efficient causes in the human being, which
flows of necessity from the assumption, that the will and, with the
will, all acts of thought and attention are parts and products of this
blind mechanism, instead of being distinct powers, the function of
which it is to control, determine, and modify the phantasmal chaos of
association. The soul becomes a mere ens logicum; for, as a real
separable being, it would be more worthless and ludicrous than the
Grimalkins in the cat-harpsichord, described in the Spectator. For
these did form a part of the process; but, to Hartley's scheme, the
soul is present only to be pinched or stroked, while the very squeals
or purring are produced by an agency wholly independent and alien. It
involves all the difficulties, all the incomprehensibility (if it be
not indeed, os emoige dokei, the absurdity), of intercommunion between
substances that have no one property in common, without any of the
convenient consequences that bribed the judgment to the admission of
the Dualistic hypothesis. Accordingly, this caput mortuum of the
Hartleian process has been rejected by his followers, and the
consciousness considered as a result, as a tune, the common product of
the breeze and the harp though this again is the mere remotion of one
absurdity to make way for another, equally preposterous. For what is
harmony but a mode of relation, the very esse of which is percipi?--an
ens rationale, which pre-supposes the power, that by perceiving
creates it? The razor's edge becomes a saw to the armed vision; and
the delicious melodies of Purcell or Cimarosa might be disjointed
stammerings to a hearer, whose partition of time should be a thousand
times subtler than ours. But this obstacle too let us imagine
ourselves to have surmounted, and "at one bound high overleap all
bound." Yet according to this hypothesis the disquisition, to which I
am at present soliciting the reader's attention, may be as truly said
to be written by Saint Paul's church, as by me: for it is the mere
motion of my muscles and nerves; and these again are set in motion
from external causes equally passive, which external causes stand
themselves in interdependent connection with every thing that exists
or has existed. Thus the whole universe co-operates to produce the
minutest stroke of every letter, save only that I myself, and I alone,
have nothing to do with it, but merely the causeless and effectless
beholding of it when it is done. Yet scarcely can it be called a
beholding; for it is neither an act nor an effect; but an impossible
creation of a something nothing out of its very contrary! It is the
mere quick-silver plating behind a looking-glass; and in this alone
consists the poor worthless I! The sum total of my moral and
intellectual intercourse, dissolved into its elements, is reduced to
extension, motion, degrees of velocity, and those diminished copies of
configurative motion, which form what we call notions, and notions of
notions. Of such philosophy well might Butler say--

The metaphysic's but a puppet motion
That goes with screws, the notion of a notion;
The copy of a copy and lame draught
Unnaturally taken from a thought
That counterfeits all pantomimic tricks,
And turns the eyes, like an old crucifix;
That counterchanges whatsoe'er it calls
By another name, and makes it true or false;
Turns truth to falsehood, falsehood into truth,
By virtue of the Babylonian's tooth.

The inventor of the watch, if this doctrine be true, did not in
reality invent it; he only looked on, while the blind causes, the only
true artists, were unfolding themselves. So must it have been too with
my friend Allston, when he sketched his picture of the dead man
revived by the bones of the prophet Elijah. So must it have been with
Mr. Southey and Lord Byron, when the one fancied himself composing his
Roderick, and the other his Childe Harold. The same must hold good of
all systems of philosophy; of all arts, governments, wars by sea and
by land; in short, of all things that ever have been or that ever will
be produced. For, according to this system, it is not the affections
and passions that are at work, in as far as they are sensations or
thoughts. We only fancy, that we act from rational resolves, or
prudent motives, or from impulses of anger, love, or generosity. In
all these cases the real agent is a something-nothing-everything,
which does all of which we know, and knows nothing of all that itself

The existence of an infinite spirit, of an intelligent and holy will,
must, on this system, be mere articulated motions of the air. For as
the function of the human understanding is no other than merely to
appear to itself to combine and to apply the phaenomena of the
association; and as these derive all their reality from the primary
sensations; and the sensations again all their reality from the
impressions ab extra; a God not visible, audible, or tangible, can
exist only in the sounds and letters that form his name and
attributes. If in ourselves there be no such faculties as those of the
will, and the scientific reason, we must either have an innate idea of
them, which would overthrow the whole system; or we can have no idea
at all. The process, by which Hume degraded the notion of cause and
effect into a blind product of delusion and habit, into the mere
sensation of proceeding life (nisus vitalis) associated with the
images of the memory; this same process must be repeated to the equal
degradation of every fundamental idea in ethics or theology.

Far, very far am I from burthening with the odium of these
consequences the moral characters of those who first formed, or have
since adopted the system! It is most noticeable of the excellent and
pious Hartley, that, in the proofs of the existence and attributes of
God, with which his second volume commences, he makes no reference to
the principle or results of the first. Nay, he assumes, as his
foundations, ideas which, if we embrace the doctrines of his first
volume, can exist no where but in the vibrations of the ethereal
medium common to the nerves and to the atmosphere. Indeed the whole of
the second volume is, with the fewest possible exceptions, independent
of his peculiar system. So true is it, that the faith, which saves and
sanctifies, is a collective energy, a total act of the whole moral
being; that its living sensorium is in the heart; and that no errors
of the understanding can be morally arraigned unless they have
proceeded from the heart. But whether they be such, no man can be
certain in the case of another, scarcely perhaps even in his own.
Hence it follows by inevitable consequence, that man may perchance
determine what is a heresy; but God only can know who is a heretic. It
does not, however, by any means follow that opinions fundamentally
false are harmless. A hundred causes may co-exist to form one complex
antidote. Yet the sting of the adder remains venomous, though there
are many who have taken up the evil thing, and it hurted them not.
Some indeed there seem to have been, in an unfortunate neighbour
nation at least, who have embraced this system with a full view of all
its moral and religious consequences; some--

------who deem themselves most free,
When they within this gross and visible sphere
Chain down the winged thought, scoffing ascent,
Proud in their meanness; and themselves they cheat
With noisy emptiness of learned phrase,
Their subtle fluids, impacts, essences,
Self-working tools, uncaus'd effects, and all
Those blind omniscients, those almighty slaves,
Untenanting creation of its God!

Such men need discipline, not argument; they must be made better men,
before they can become wiser.

The attention will be more profitably employed in attempting to
discover and expose the paralogisms, by the magic of which such a
faith could find admission into minds framed for a nobler creed.
These, it appears to me, may be all reduced to one sophism as their
common genus; the mistaking the conditions of a thing for its causes
and essence; and the process, by which we arrive at the knowledge of a
faculty, for the faculty itself. The air I breathe is the condition of
my life, not its cause. We could never have learned that we had eyes
but by the process of seeing; yet having seen we know that the eyes
must have pre-existed in order to render the process of sight
possible. Let us cross-examine Hartley's scheme under the guidance of
this distinction; and we shall discover, that contemporaneity,
(Leibnitz's Lex Continui,) is the limit and condition of the laws of
mind, itself being rather a law of matter, at least of phaenomena
considered as material. At the utmost, it is to thought the same, as
the law of gravitation is to loco-motion. In every voluntary movement
we first counteract gravitation, in order to avail ourselves of it. It
must exist, that there may be a something to be counteracted, and
which, by its re-action, may aid the force that is exerted to resist
it. Let us consider what we do when we leap. We first resist the
gravitating power by an act purely voluntary, and then by another act,
voluntary in part, we yield to it in order to alight on the spot,
which we had previously proposed to ourselves. Now let a man watch his
mind while he is composing; or, to take a still more common case,
while he is trying to recollect a name; and he will find the process
completely analogous. Most of my readers will have observed a small
water-insect on the surface of rivulets, which throws a cinque-spotted
shadow fringed with prismatic colours on the sunny bottom of the
brook; and will have noticed, how the little animal wins its way up
against the stream, by alternate pulses of active and passive motion,
now resisting the current, and now yielding to it in order to gather
strength and a momentary fulcrum for a further propulsion. This is no
unapt emblem of the mind's self-experience in the act of thinking.
There are evidently two powers at work, which relatively to each other
are active and passive; and this is not possible without an
intermediate faculty, which is at once both active and passive. In
philosophical language, we must denominate this intermediate faculty
in all its degrees and determinations, the IMAGINATION. But, in common
language, and especially on the subject of poetry, we appropriate the
name to a superior degree of the faculty, joined to a superior
voluntary control over it.

Contemporaneity, then, being the common condition of all the laws of
association, and a component element in the materia subjecta, the
parts of which are to be associated, must needs be co-present with
all. Nothing, therefore, can be more easy than to pass off on an
incautious mind this constant companion of each, for the essential
substance of all. But if we appeal to our own consciousness, we shall
find that even time itself, as the cause of a particular act of
association, is distinct from contemporaneity, as the condition of all
association. Seeing a mackerel, it may happen, that I immediately
think of gooseberries, because I at the same time ate mackerel with
gooseberries as the sauce. The first syllable of the latter word,
being that which had coexisted with the image of the bird so called, I
may then think of a goose. In the next moment the image of a swan may
arise before me, though I had never seen the two birds together. In
the first two instances, I am conscious that their co-existence in
time was the circumstance, that enabled me to recollect them; and
equally conscious am I that the latter was recalled to me by the joint
operation of likeness and contrast. So it is with cause and effect: so
too with order. So I am able to distinguish whether it was proximity
in time, or continuity in space, that occasioned me to recall B on the
mention of A. They cannot be indeed separated from contemporaneity;
for that would be to separate them from the mind itself. The act of
consciousness is indeed identical with time considered in its essence.
I mean time per se, as contra-distinguished from our notion of time;
for this is always blended with the idea of space, which, as the
opposite of time, is therefore its measure. Nevertheless the accident
of seeing two objects at the same moment, and the accident of seeing
them in the same place are two distinct or distinguishable causes: and
the true practical general law of association is this; that whatever
makes certain parts of a total impression more vivid or distinct than
the rest, will determine the mind to recall these in preference to
others equally linked together by the common condition of
contemporaneity, or (what I deem a more appropriate and philosophical
term) of continuity. But the will itself by confining and intensifying
[25] the attention may arbitrarily give vividness or distinctness to
any object whatsoever; and from hence we may deduce the uselessness,
if not the absurdity, of certain recent schemes which promise an
artificial memory, but which in reality can only produce a confusion
and debasement of the fancy. Sound logic, as the habitual
subordination of the individual to the species, and of the species to
the genus; philosophical knowledge of facts under the relation of
cause and effect; a cheerful and communicative temper disposing us to
notice the similarities and contrasts of things, that we may be able
to illustrate the one by the other; a quiet conscience; a condition
free from anxieties; sound health, and above all (as far as relates to
passive remembrance) a healthy digestion; these are the best, these
are the only Arts of Memory.


The system of Dualism introduced by Des Cartes--Refined first by
Spinoza and afterwards by Leibnitz into the doctrine of Harmonia
praestabilita--Hylozoism--Materialism--None of these systems, or any
possible theory of association, supplies or supersedes a theory of
perception, or explains the formation of the associable.

To the best of my knowledge Des Cartes was the first philosopher who
introduced the absolute and essential heterogenity of the soul as
intelligence, and the body as matter. The assumption, and the form of
speaking have remained, though the denial of all other properties to
matter but that of extension, on which denial the whole system of
Dualism is grounded, has been long exploded. For since impenetrability
is intelligible only as a mode of resistance; its admission places the
essence of matter in an act or power, which it possesses in common
with spirit; and body and spirit are therefore no longer absolutely
heterogeneous, but may without any absurdity be supposed to be
different modes, or degrees in perfection, of a common substratum. To
this possibility, however, it was not the fashion to advert. The soul
was a thinking substance, and body a space-filling substance. Yet the
apparent action of each on the other pressed heavy on the philosopher
on the one hand; and no less heavily on the other hand pressed the
evident truth, that the law of causality holds only between
homogeneous things, that is, things having some common property; and
cannot extend from one world into another, its contrary. A close
analysis evinced it to be no less absurd than the question whether a
man's affection for his wife lay North-east, or South-west of the love
he bore towards his child. Leibnitz's doctrine of a pre-established
harmony; which he certainly borrowed from Spinoza, who had himself
taken the hint from Des Cartes's animal machines, was in its common
interpretation too strange to survive the inventor--too repugnant to
our common sense; which is not indeed entitled to a judicial voice in
the courts of scientific philosophy; but whose whispers still exert a
strong secret influence. Even Wolf, the admirer and illustrious
systematizer of the Leibnitzian doctrine, contents himself with
defending the possibility of the idea, but does not adopt it as a part
of the edifice.

The hypothesis of Hylozoism, on the other side, is the death of all
rational physiology, and indeed of all physical science; for that
requires a limitation of terms, and cannot consist with the arbitrary
power of multiplying attributes by occult qualities. Besides, it
answers no purpose; unless, indeed, a difficulty can be solved by
multiplying it, or we can acquire a clearer notion of our soul by
being told that we have a million of souls, and that every atom of our
bodies has a soul of its own. Far more prudent is it to admit the
difficulty once for all, and then let it lie at rest. There is a
sediment indeed at the bottom of the vessel, but all the water above
it is clear and transparent. The Hylozoist only shakes it up, and
renders the whole turbid.

But it is not either the nature of man, or the duty of the philosopher
to despair concerning any important problem until, as in the squaring
of the circle, the impossibility of a solution has been demonstrated.
How the esse assumed as originally distinct from the scire, can ever
unite itself with it; how being can transform itself into a knowing,
becomes conceivable on one only condition; namely, if it can be shown
that the vis representativa, or the Sentient, is itself a species of
being; that is, either as a property or attribute, or as an hypostasis
or self subsistence. The former--that thinking is a property of matter
under particular conditions,--is, indeed, the assumption of
materialism; a system which could not but be patronized by the
philosopher, if only it actually performed what it promises. But how
any affection from without can metamorphose itself into perception or
will, the materialist has hitherto left, not only as incomprehensible
as he found it, but has aggravated it into a comprehensible absurdity.
For, grant that an object from without could act upon the conscious
self, as on a consubstantial object; yet such an affection could only
engender something homogeneous with itself. Motion could only
propagate motion. Matter has no Inward. We remove one surface, but to
meet with another. We can but divide a particle into particles; and
each atom comprehends in itself the properties of the material
universe. Let any reflecting mind make the experiment of explaining to
itself the evidence of our sensuous intuitions, from the hypothesis
that in any given perception there is a something which has been
communicated to it by an impact, or an impression ab extra. In the
first place, by the impact on the percipient, or ens representans, not
the object itself, but only its action or effect, will pass into the
same. Not the iron tongue, but its vibrations, pass into the metal of
the bell. Now in our immediate perception, it is not the mere power or
act of the object, but the object itself, which is immediately
present. We might indeed attempt to explain this result by a chain of
deductions and conclusions; but that, first, the very faculty of
deducing and concluding would equally demand an explanation; and
secondly, that there exists in fact no such intermediation by logical
notions, such as those of cause and effect. It is the object itself,
not the product of a syllogism, which is present to our consciousness.
Or would we explain this supervention of the object to the sensation,
by a productive faculty set in motion by an impulse; still the
transition, into the percipient, of the object itself, from which the
impulse proceeded, assumes a power that can permeate and wholly
possess the soul,

And like a God by spiritual art,
Be all in all, and all in every part.

And how came the percipient here? And what is become of the wonder-
promising Matter, that was to perform all these marvels by force of
mere figure, weight and motion? The most consistent proceeding of the
dogmatic materialist is to fall back into the common rank of soul-and-
bodyists; to affect the mysterious, and declare the whole process a
revelation given, and not to be understood, which it would be profane
to examine too closely. Datur non intelligitur. But a revelation
unconfirmed by miracles, and a faith not commanded by the conscience,
a philosopher may venture to pass by, without suspecting himself of
any irreligious tendency.

Thus, as materialism has been generally taught, it is utterly
unintelligible, and owes all its proselytes to the propensity so
common among men, to mistake distinct images for clear conceptions;
and vice versa, to reject as inconceivable whatever from its own
nature is unimaginable. But as soon as it becomes intelligible, it
ceases to be materialism. In order to explain thinking, as a material
phaenomenon, it is necessary to refine matter into a mere modification
of intelligence, with the two-fold function of appearing and
perceiving. Even so did Priestley in his controversy with Price. He
stripped matter of all its material properties; substituted spiritual
powers; and when we expected to find a body, behold! we had nothing
but its ghost--the apparition of a defunct substance!

I shall not dilate further on this subject; because it will, (if God
grant health and permission), be treated of at large and
systematically in a work, which I have many years been preparing, on
the Productive Logos human and divine; with, and as the introduction
to, a full commentary on the Gospel of St. John. To make myself
intelligible as far as my present subject requires, it will be
sufficient briefly to observe.--1. That all association demands and
presupposes the existence of the thoughts and images to be
associated.--2. That the hypothesis of an external world exactly
correspondent to those images or modifications of our own being, which
alone, according to this system, we actually behold, is as thorough
idealism as Berkeley's, inasmuch as it equally, perhaps in a more
perfect degree, removes all reality and immediateness of perception,
and places us in a dream-world of phantoms and spectres, the
inexplicable swarm and equivocal generation of motions in our own
brains.--3. That this hypothesis neither involves the explanation, nor
precludes the necessity, of a mechanism and co-adequate forces in the
percipient, which at the more than magic touch of the impulse from
without is to create anew for itself the correspondent object. The
formation of a copy is not solved by the mere pre-existence of an
original; the copyist of Raffael's Transfiguration must repeat more or
less perfectly the process of Raffael. It would be easy to explain a
thought from the image on the retina, and that from the geometry of
light, if this very light did not present the very same difficulty. We
might as rationally chant the Brahim creed of the tortoise that
supported the bear, that supported the elephant, that supported the
world, to the tune of "This is the house that Jack built." The sic Deo
placitum est we all admit as the sufficient cause, and the divine
goodness as the sufficient reason; but an answer to the Whence and Why
is no answer to the How, which alone is the physiologist's concern. It
is a sophisma pigrum, and (as Bacon hath said) the arrogance of
pusillanimity, which lifts up the idol of a mortal's fancy and
commands us to fall down and worship it, as a work of divine wisdom,
an ancile or palladium fallen from heaven. By the very same argument
the supporters of the Ptolemaic system might have rebuffed the
Newtonian, and pointing to the sky with self-complacent grin [26] have
appealed to common sense, whether the sun did not move and the earth
stand still.


Is Philosophy possible as a science, and what are its conditions?--
Giordano Bruno--Literary Aristocracy, or the existence of a tacit
compact among the learned as a privileged order--The Author's
obligations to the Mystics--to Immanuel Kant--The difference between
the letter and the spirit of Kant's writings, and a vindication of
prudence in the teaching of Philosophy--Fichte's attempt to complete
the Critical system--Its partial success and ultimate failure--
Obligations to Schelling; and among English writers to Saumarez.

After I had successively studied in the schools of Locke, Berkeley,
Leibnitz, and Hartley, and could find in none of them an abiding place
for my reason, I began to ask myself; is a system of philosophy; as
different from mere history and historic classification, possible? If
possible, what are its necessary conditions? I was for a while
disposed to answer the first question in the negative, and to admit
that the sole practicable employment for the human mind was to
observe, to collect, and to classify. But I soon felt, that human
nature itself fought up against this wilful resignation of intellect;
and as soon did I find, that the scheme, taken with all its
consequences and cleared of all inconsistencies, was not less
impracticable than contranatural. Assume in its full extent the
position, nihil in intellectu quod non prius in sensu, assume it
without Leibnitz's qualifying praeter ipsum intellectum, and in the
same sense, in which the position was understood by Hartley and
Condillac: and then what Hume had demonstratively deduced from this
concession concerning cause and effect, will apply with equal and
crushing force to all the other eleven categorical forms [27], and the
logical functions corresponding to them. How can we make bricks
without straw;--or build without cement? We learn all things indeed by
occasion of experience; but the very facts so learned force us inward
on the antecedents, that must be presupposed in order to render
experience itself possible. The first book of Locke's Essay, (if the
supposed error, which it labours to subvert, be not a mere thing of
straw, an absurdity which, no man ever did, or indeed ever could,
believe,) is formed on a sophisma heterozaetaeseos, and involves the
old mistake of Cum hoc: ergo, propter hoc.

The term, Philosophy, defines itself as an affectionate seeking after
the truth; but Truth is the correlative of Being. This again is no way
conceivable, but by assuming as a postulate, that both are ab initio,
identical and coinherent; that intelligence and being are reciprocally
each other's substrate. I presumed that this was a possible
conception, (i.e. that it involved no logical inconsonance,) from the
length of time during which the scholastic definition of the Supreme
Being, as actus purissimus sine ulla potentialitate, was received in
the schools of Theology, both by the Pontifician and the Reformed
divines. The early study of Plato and Plotinus, with the commentaries
and the THEOLOGIA PLATONICA of the illustrious Florentine; of Proclus,
and Gemistius Pletho; and at a later period of the De Immenso et
Innumerabili and the "De la causa, principio et uno," of the
philosopher of Nola, who could boast of a Sir Philip Sidney and Fulke
Greville among his patrons, and whom the idolaters of Rome burnt as an
atheist in the year 1600; had all contributed to prepare my mind for
the reception and welcoming of the Cogito quia Sum, et Sum quia
Cogito; a philosophy of seeming hardihood, but certainly the most
ancient, and therefore presumptively the most natural.

Why need I be afraid? Say rather how dare I be ashamed of the Teutonic
theosophist, Jacob Behmen? Many, indeed, and gross were his delusions;
and such as furnish frequent and ample occasion for the triumph of the
learned over the poor ignorant shoemaker, who had dared think for
himself. But while we remember that these delusions were such, as
might be anticipated from his utter want of all intellectual
discipline, and from his ignorance of rational psychology, let it not
be forgotten that the latter defect he had in common with the most
learned theologians of his age. Neither with books, nor with book-
learned men was he conversant. A meek and shy quietest, his
intellectual powers were never stimulated into feverous energy by
crowds of proselytes, or by the ambition of proselyting. Jacob Behmen
was an enthusiast, in the strictest sense, as not merely
distinguished, but as contra-distinguished, from a fanatic. While I in
part translate the following observations from a contemporary writer
of the Continent, let me be permitted to premise, that I might have
transcribed the substance from memoranda of my own, which were written
many years before his pamphlet was given to the world; and that I
prefer another's words to my own, partly as a tribute due to priority
of publication; but still more from the pleasure of sympathy in a case
where coincidence only was possible.

Whoever is acquainted with the history of philosophy, during the last
two or three centuries, cannot but admit that there appears to have
existed a sort of secret and tacit compact among the learned, not to
pass beyond a certain limit in speculative science. The privilege of
free thought, so highly extolled, has at no time been held valid in
actual practice, except within this limit; and not a single stride
beyond it has ever been ventured without bringing obloquy on the
transgressor. The few men of genius among the learned class, who
actually did overstep this boundary, anxiously avoided the appearance
of having so done. Therefore the true depth of science, and the
penetration to the inmost centre, from which all the lines of
knowledge diverge to their ever distant circumference, was abandoned
to the illiterate and the simple, whom unstilled yearning, and an
original ebulliency of spirit, had urged to the investigation of the
indwelling and living ground of all things. These, then, because their
names had never been enrolled in the guilds of the learned, were
persecuted by the registered livery-men as interlopers on their rights
and privileges. All without distinction were branded as fanatics and
phantasts; not only those, whose wild and exorbitant imaginations had
actually engendered only extravagant and grotesque phantasms, and
whose productions were, for the most part, poor copies and gross
caricatures of genuine inspiration; but the truly inspired likewise,
the originals themselves. And this for no other reason, but because
they were the unlearned, men of humble and obscure occupations. When,
and from whom among the literati by profession, have we ever heard the
divine doxology repeated, I thank thee, O Father! Lord of Heaven and
Earth! because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent,
and hast revealed them unto babes [28]. No; the haughty priests of
learning not only banished from the schools and marts of science all
who had dared draw living waters from the fountain, but drove them out
of the very Temple, which mean time the buyers, and sellers, and
money-changers were suffered to make a den of thieves.

And yet it would not be easy to discover any substantial ground for
this contemptuous pride in those literati, who have most distinguished
themselves by their scorn of Behmen, Thaulerus, George Fox, and
others; unless it be, that they could write orthographically, make
smooth periods, and had the fashions of authorship almost literally at
their fingers' ends, while the latter, in simplicity of soul, made
their words immediate echoes of their feelings. Hence the frequency of
those phrases among them, which have been mistaken for pretences to
immediate inspiration; as for instance, "It was delivered unto me; "--
"I strove not to speak;"-"I said, I will be silent;"--"But the word
was in my heart as a burning fire;"--"and I could not forbear." Hence
too the unwillingness to give offence; hence the foresight, and the
dread of the clamours, which would be raised against them, so
frequently avowed in the writings of these men, and expressed, as was
natural, in the words of the only book, with which they were familiar
[29]. "Woe is me that I am become a man of strife, and a man of
contention,--I love peace: the souls of men are dear unto me: yet
because I seek for light every one of them doth curse me!" O! it
requires deeper feeling, and a stronger imagination, than belong to
most of those, to whom reasoning and fluent expression have been as a
trade learnt in boyhood, to conceive with what might, with what inward
strivings and commotion, the perception of a new and vital truth takes
possession of an uneducated man of genius. His meditations are almost
inevitably employed on the eternal, or the everlasting; for "the world
is not his friend, nor the world's law." Need we then be surprised,
that, under an excitement at once so strong and so unusual, the man's
body should sympathize with the struggles of his mind; or that he
should at times be so far deluded, as to mistake the tumultuous
sensations of his nerves, and the co-existing spectres of his fancy,
as parts or symbols of the truths which were opening on him? It has
indeed been plausibly observed, that in order to derive any advantage,
or to collect any intelligible meaning, from the writings of these
ignorant Mystics, the reader must bring with him a spirit and judgment
superior to that of the writers themselves:

And what he brings, what needs he elsewhere seek?

--a sophism, which I fully agree with Warburton, is unworthy of
Milton; how much more so of the awful Person, in whose mouth he has
placed it? One assertion I will venture to make, as suggested by my
own experience, that there exist folios on the human understanding,
and the nature of man, which would have a far juster claim to their
high rank and celebrity, if in the whole huge volume there could be
found as much fulness of heart and intellect, as burst forth in many a
simple page of George Fox, Jacob Behmen, and even of Behmen's
commentator, the pious and fervid William Law.

The feeling of gratitude, which I cherish toward these men, has caused
me to digress further than I had foreseen or proposed; but to have
passed them over in an historical sketch of my literary life and
opinions, would have seemed to me like the denial of a debt, the
concealment of a boon. For the writings of these Mystics acted in no
slight degree to prevent my mind from being imprisoned within the
outline of any single dogmatic system. They contributed to keep alive
the heart in the head; gave me an indistinct, yet stirring and working
presentiment, that all the products of the mere reflective faculty
partook of death, and were as the rattling twigs and sprays in winter,
into which a sap was yet to be propelled from some root to which I had
not penetrated, if they were to afford my soul either food or shelter.
If they were too often a moving cloud of smoke to me by day, yet they
were always a pillar of fire throughout the night, during my
wanderings through the wilderness of doubt, and enabled me to skirt,
without crossing, the sandy deserts of utter unbelief. That the system
is capable of being converted into an irreligious Pantheism, I well
know. The Ethics of Spinoza, may, or may not, be an instance. But at
no time could I believe, that in itself and essentially it is
incompatible with religion, natural or revealed: and now I am most
thoroughly persuaded of the contrary. The writings of the illustrious
sage of Koenigsberg, the founder of the Critical Philosophy, more than
any other work, at once invigorated and disciplined my understanding.
The originality, the depth, and the compression of the thoughts; the
novelty and subtlety, yet solidity and importance of the distinctions;
the adamantine chain of the logic; and I will venture to add--(paradox
as it will appear to those who have taken their notion of Immanuel
Kant from Reviewers and Frenchmen)--the clearness and evidence, of the
Critique of the Pure Reason; and Critique of the Judgment; of the
Metaphysical Elements of Natural Philosophy; and of his Religion
within the bounds of Pure Reason, took possession of me as with the
giant's hand. After fifteen years' familiarity with them, I still read
these and all his other productions with undiminished delight and
increasing admiration. The few passages that remained obscure to me,
after due efforts of thought, (as the chapter on original
apperception,) and the apparent contradictions which occur, I soon
found were hints and insinuations referring to ideas, which KANT
either did not think it prudent to avow, or which he considered as
consistently left behind in a pure analysis, not of human nature in
toto, but of the speculative intellect alone. Here therefore he was
constrained to commence at the point of reflection, or natural
consciousness: while in his moral system he was permitted to assume a
higher ground (the autonomy of the will) as a postulate deducible from
the unconditional command, or (in the technical language of his
school) the categorical imperative, of the conscience. He had been in
imminent danger of persecution during the reign of the late king of
Prussia, that strange compound of lawless debauchery and priest-ridden
superstition: and it is probable that he had little inclination, in
his old age, to act over again the fortunes, and hair-breadth escapes
of Wolf. The expulsion of the first among Kant's disciples, who
attempted to complete his system, from the University of Jena, with
the confiscation and prohibition of the obnoxious work by the joint
efforts of the courts of Saxony and Hanover, supplied experimental
proof, that the venerable old man's caution was not groundless. In
spite therefore of his own declarations, I could never believe, that
it was possible for him to have meant no more by his Noumenon, or
Thing in itself, than his mere words express; or that in his own
conception he confined the whole plastic power to the forms of the
intellect, leaving for the external cause, for the materiale of our
sensations, a matter without form, which is doubtless inconceivable. I
entertained doubts likewise, whether, in his own mind, he even laid
all the stress, which he appears to do, on the moral postulates.

An idea, in the highest sense of that word, cannot be conveyed but by
a symbol; and, except in geometry, all symbols of necessity involve an
apparent contradiction. Phonaese synetoisin: and for those who could
not pierce through this symbolic husk, his writings were not intended.
Questions which cannot be fully answered without exposing the
respondent to personal danger, are not entitled to a fair answer; and
yet to say this openly, would in many cases furnish the very advantage
which the adversary is insidiously seeking after. Veracity does not
consist in saying, but in the intention of communicating, truth; and
the philosopher who cannot utter the whole truth without conveying
falsehood, and at the same time, perhaps, exciting the most malignant
passions, is constrained to express himself either mythically or
equivocally. When Kant therefore was importuned to settle the disputes
of his commentators himself, by declaring what he meant, how could he
decline the honours of martyrdom with less offence, than by simply
replying, "I meant what I said, and at the age of near fourscore, I
have something else, and more important to do, than to write a
commentary on my own works."

Fichte's Wissenschaftslehre, or Lore of Ultimate Science, was to add
the key-stone of the arch: and by commencing with an act, instead of a
thing or substance, Fichte assuredly gave the first mortal blow to
Spinozism, as taught by Spinoza himself; and supplied the idea of a
system truly metaphysical, and of a metaphysique truly systematic:
(i.e. having its spring and principle within itself). But this
fundamental idea he overbuilt with a heavy mass of mere notions, and
psychological acts of arbitrary reflection. Thus his theory
degenerated into a crude [30] egoismus, a boastful and hyperstoic
hostility to Nature, as lifeless, godless, and altogether unholy:
while his religion consisted in the assumption of a mere Ordo
ordinans, which we were permitted exoterice to call GOD; and his
ethics in an ascetic, and almost monkish, mortification of the natural
passions and desires. In Schelling's Natur-Philosophie, and the System
des transcendentalen Idealismus, I first found a genial coincidence
with much that I had toiled out for myself, and a powerful assistance
in what I had yet to do.

I have introduced this statement, as appropriate to the narrative
nature of this sketch; yet rather in reference to the work which I
have announced in a preceding page, than to my present subject. It
would be but a mere act of justice to myself, were I to warn my future
readers, than an identity of thought, or even similarity of phrase,
will not be at all times a certain proof that the passage has been
borrowed from Schelling, or that the conceptions were originally
learnt from him. In this instance, as in the dramatic lectures of
Schlegel to which I have before alluded, from the same motive of self-
defence against the charge of plagiarism, many of the most striking
resemblances, indeed all the main and fundamental ideas, were born and
matured in my mind before I had ever seen a single page of the German
Philosopher; and I might indeed affirm with truth, before the more
important works of Schelling had been written, or at least made
public. Nor is this coincidence at all to be wondered at. We had
studied in the same school; been disciplined by the same preparatory
philosophy, namely, the writings of Kant; we had both equal
obligations to the polar logic and dynamic philosophy of Giordano
Bruno; and Schelling has lately, and, as of recent acquisition, avowed
that same affectionate reverence for the labours of Behmen, and other
mystics, which I had formed at a much earlier period. The coincidence
of Schelling's system with certain general ideas of Behmen, he
declares to have been mere coincidence; while my obligations have been
more direct. He needs give to Behmen only feelings of sympathy; while
I owe him a debt of gratitude. God forbid! that I should be suspected
of a wish to enter into a rivalry with Schelling for the honours so
unequivocally his right, not only as a great and original genius, but
as the founder of the Philosophy of Nature, and as the most successful
improver of the Dynamic System [31] which, begun by Bruno, was re-
introduced (in a more philosophical form, and freed from all its
impurities and visionary accompaniments) by Kant; in whom it was the
native and necessary growth of his own system. Kant's followers,
however, on whom (for the greater part) their master's cloak had
fallen without, or with a very scanty portion of, his spirit, had
adopted his dynamic ideas, only as a more refined species of
mechanics. With exception of one or two fundamental ideas, which
cannot be withheld from Fichte, to Schelling we owe the completion,
and the most important victories, of this revolution in philosophy. To
me it will be happiness and honour enough, should I succeed in
rendering the system itself intelligible to my countrymen, and in the
application of it to the most awful of subjects for the most important
of purposes. Whether a work is the offspring of a man's own spirit,
and the product of original thinking, will be discovered by those who
are its sole legitimate judges, by better tests than the mere
reference to dates. For readers in general, let whatever shall be
found in this or any future work of mine, that resembles, or coincides
with, the doctrines of my German predecessor, though contemporary, be
wholly attributed to him: provided, that the absence of distinct
references to his books, which I could not at all times make with
truth as designating citations or thoughts actually derived from him;
and which, I trust, would, after this general acknowledgment be
superfluous; be not charged on me as an ungenerous concealment or
intentional plagiarism. I have not indeed (eheu! res angusta domi!)
been hitherto able to procure more than two of his books, viz. the
first volume of his collected Tracts, and his System of Transcendental
Idealism; to which, however, I must add a small pamphlet against
Fichte, the spirit of which was to my feelings painfully incongruous
with the principles, and which (with the usual allowance afforded to
an antithesis) displayed the love of wisdom rather than the wisdom of
love. I regard truth as a divine ventriloquist: I care not from whose
mouth the sounds are supposed to proceed, if only the words are
audible and intelligible. "Albeit, I must confess to be half in doubt,
whether I should bring it forth or no, it being so contrary to the eye
of the world, and the world so potent in most men's hearts, that I
shall endanger either not to be regarded or not to be understood."

And to conclude the subject of citation, with a cluster of citations,
which as taken from books, not in common use, may contribute to the
reader's amusement, as a voluntary before a sermon: "Dolet mihi quidem
deliciis literarum inescatos subito jam homines adeo esse, praesertim
qui Christianos se profitentur, et legere nisi quod ad delectationem
facit, sustineant nihil: unde et discipline severiores et philosophia
ipsa jam fere prorsus etiam a doctis negliguntur. Quod quidem
propositum studiorum, nisi mature corrigitur, tam magnum rebus
incommodum dabit, quam dedit barbaries olim. Pertinax res barbaries
est, fateor: sed minus potent tamen, quam illa mollities et persuasa
prudentia literarum, si ratione caret, sapientiae virtutisque specie
mortales misere circumducens. Succedet igitur, ut arbitror, haud ita
multo post, pro rusticana seculi nostri ruditate captatrix illa
communi-loquentia robur animi virilis omne, omnem virtutem masculam,
profligatura nisi cavetur."

A too prophetic remark, which has been in fulfilment from the year
1680, to the present 1815. By persuasa prudentia, Grynaeus means self-
complacent common sense as opposed to science and philosophic reason.

Est medius ordo, et velut equestris, ingeniorum quidem sagacium, et
commodorum rebus humanis, non tamen in primam magnitudinem patentium.
Eorum hominum, ut sic dicam, major annona est. Sedulum esse, nihil
temere loqui, assuescere labori, et imagine prudentiae et modistiae
tegere angustiores partes captus, dum exercitationem ac usum, quo isti
in civilibus rebus pollent, pro natura et magnitudine ingenii plerique

"As therefore physicians are many times forced to leave such methods
of curing as themselves know to be the fittest, and being overruled by
the patient's impatiency, are fain to try the best they can: in like
sort, considering how the case doth stand with this present age, full
of tongue and weak of brain, behold we would (if our subject permitted
it) yield to the stream thereof. That way we would be contented to
prove our thesis, which being the worse in itself, is notwithstanding
now by reason of common imbecility the fitter and likelier to be

If this fear could be rationally entertained in the controversial age
of Hooker, under the then robust discipline of the scholastic logic,
pardonably may a writer of the present times anticipate a scanty
audience for abstrusest themes, and truths that can neither be
communicated nor received without effort of thought, as well as
patience of attention.

"Che s'io non erro al calcolar de' punti,
Par ch' Asinina Stella a noi predomini,
E'l Somaro e'l Castron si sian congiunti.
Il tempo d'Apuleio piu non si nomini:
Che se allora un sol huom sembrava un Asino,
Mille Asini a' miei di rassembran huomini!"


A chapter of digression and anecdotes, as an interlude preceding that
on the nature and genesis of the Imagination or Plastic Power--On
pedantry and pedantic expressions--Advice to young authors respecting
publication--Various anecdotes of the Author's literary life, and the
progress of his opinions in Religion and Politics.

"Esemplastic. The word is not in Johnson, nor have I met with it
elsewhere." Neither have, I. I constructed it myself from the Greek
words, eis en plattein, to shape into one; because, having to convey a
new sense, I thought that a new term would both aid the recollection
of my meaning, and prevent its being confounded with the usual import
of the word, imagination. "But this is pedantry!" Not necessarily so,
I hope. If I am not misinformed, pedantry consists in the use of words
unsuitable to the time, place, and company. The language of the market
would be in the schools as pedantic, though it might not be reprobated
by that name, as the language of the schools in the market. The mere
man of the world, who insists that no other terms but such as occur in
common conversation should be employed in a scientific disquisition,
and with no greater precision, is as truly a pedant as the man of
letters, who either over-rating the acquirements of his auditors, or
misled by his own familiarity with technical or scholastic terms,
converses at the wine-table with his mind fixed on his museum or
laboratory; even though the latter pedant instead of desiring his wife
to make the tea should bid her add to the quant. suff. of thea
Sinensis the oxyd of hydrogen saturated with caloric. To use the
colloquial (and in truth somewhat vulgar) metaphor, if the pedant of
the cloister, and the pedant of the lobby, both smell equally of the
shop, yet the odour from the Russian binding of good old authentic-
looking folios and quartos is less annoying than the steams from the
tavern or bagnio. Nay, though the pedantry of the scholar should
betray a little ostentation, yet a well-conditioned mind would more
easily, methinks, tolerate the fox brush of learned vanity, than the
sans culotterie of a contemptuous ignorance, that assumes a merit from
mutilation in the self-consoling sneer at the pompous incumbrance of

The first lesson of philosophic discipline is to wean the student's
attention from the degrees of things, which alone form the vocabulary
of common life, and to direct it to the kind abstracted from degree.
Thus the chemical student is taught not to be startled at
disquisitions on the heat in ice, or on latent and fixible light. In
such discourse the instructor has no other alternative than either to
use old words with new meanings (the plan adopted by Darwin in his
Zoonomia;) or to introduce new terms, after the example of Linnaeus,
and the framers of the present chemical nomenclature. The latter mode
is evidently preferable, were it only that the former demands a
twofold exertion of thought in one and the same act. For the reader,
or hearer, is required not only to learn and bear in mind the new
definition; but to unlearn, and keep out of his view, the old and
habitual meaning; a far more difficult and perplexing task, and for
which the mere semblance of eschewing pedantry seems to me an
inadequate compensation. Where, indeed, it is in our power to recall
an unappropriate term that had without sufficient reason become
obsolete, it is doubtless a less evil to restore than to coin anew.
Thus to express in one word all that appertains to the perception,
considered as passive and merely recipient, I have adopted from our
elder classics the word sensuous; because sensual is not at present
used, except in a bad sense, or at least as a moral distinction; while
sensitive and sensible would each convey a different meaning. Thus too
have I followed Hooker, Sanderson, Milton and others, in designating
the immediateness of any act or object of knowledge by the word
intuition, used sometimes subjectively, sometimes objectively, even as
we use the word, thought; now as the thought, or act of thinking, and
now as a thought, or the object of our reflection; and we do this
without confusion or obscurity. The very words, objective and
subjective, of such constant recurrence in the schools of yore, I have
ventured to re-introduce, because I could not so briefly or
conveniently by any more familiar terms distinguish the percipere from
the percipi. Lastly, I have cautiously discriminated the terms, the
reason, and the understanding, encouraged and confirmed by the
authority of our genuine divines and philosophers, before the

------both life, and sense,
Fancy and understanding; whence the soul
Reason receives, and reason is her bring,
Discursive or intuitive: discourse [32]
Is oftest yours, the latter most is ours,
Differing but in degree, in kind the same.

I say, that I was confirmed by authority so venerable: for I had
previous and higher motives in my own conviction of the importance,
nay, of the necessity of the distinction, as both an indispensable
condition and a vital part of all sound speculation in metaphysics,
ethical or theological. To establish this distinction was one main
object of The Friend; if even in a biography of my own literary life I
can with propriety refer to a work, which was printed rather than
published, or so published that it had been well for the unfortunate
author, if it had remained in manuscript. I have even at this time
bitter cause for remembering that, which a number of my subscribers
have but a trifling motive for forgetting. This effusion might have
been spared; but I would fain flatter myself, that the reader will be
less austere than an oriental professor of the bastinado, who during
an attempt to extort per argumentum baculinum a full confession from a
culprit, interrupted his outcry of pain by reminding him, that it was
"a mere digression!" "All this noise, Sir! is nothing to the point,
and no sort of answer to my questions!" "Ah! but," (replied the
sufferer,) "it is the most pertinent reply in nature to your blows."

An imprudent man of common goodness of heart cannot but wish to turn
even his imprudences to the benefit of others, as far as this is
possible. If therefore any one of the readers of this semi-narrative
should be preparing or intending a periodical work, I warn him, in the
first place, against trusting in the number of names on his
subscription list. For he cannot be certain that the names were put
down by sufficient authority; or, should that be ascertained, it still
remains to be known, whether they were not extorted by some over
zealous friend's importunity; whether the subscriber had not yielded
his name, merely from want of courage to answer, no; and with the
intention of dropping the work as soon as possible. One gentleman
procured me nearly a hundred names for THE FRIEND, and not only took
frequent opportunity to remind me of his success in his canvass, but
laboured to impress my mind with the sense of the obligation, I was
under to the subscribers; for, (as he very pertinently admonished me,)
"fifty-two shillings a year was a large sum to be bestowed on one
individual, where there were so many objects of charity with strong
claims to the assistance of the benevolent." Of these hundred patrons
ninety threw up the publication before the fourth number, without any
notice; though it was well known to them, that in consequence of the
distance, and the slowness and irregularity of the conveyance, I was
compelled to lay in a stock of stamped paper for at least eight weeks
beforehand; each sheet of which stood me in five pence previously to
its arrival at my printer's; though the subscription money was not to
be received till the twenty-first week after the commencement of the
work; and lastly, though it was in nine cases out of ten impracticable
for me to receive the money for two or three numbers without paying an
equal sum for the postage.

In confirmation of my first caveat, I will select one fact among many.
On my list of subscribers, among a considerable number of names
equally flattering, was that of an Earl of Cork, with his address. He
might as well have been an Earl of Bottle, for aught I knew of him,
who had been content to reverence the peerage in abstracto, rather
than in concretis. Of course THE FRIEND was regularly sent as far, if
I remember right, as the eighteenth number; that is, till a fortnight
before the subscription was to be paid. And lo! just at this time I
received a letter from his Lordship, reproving me in language far more
lordly than courteous for my impudence in directing my pamphlets to
him, who knew nothing of me or my work! Seventeen or eighteen numbers
of which, however, his Lordship was pleased to retain, probably for
the culinary or post-culinary conveniences of his servants.

Secondly, I warn all others from the attempt to deviate from the
ordinary mode of publishing a work by the trade. I thought indeed,
that to the purchaser it was indifferent, whether thirty per cent of
the purchase-money went to the booksellers or to the government; and
that the convenience of receiving the work by the post at his own door
would give the preference to the latter. It is hard, I own, to have
been labouring for years, in collecting and arranging the materials;
to have spent every shilling that could be spared after the
necessaries of life had been furnished, in buying books, or in
journeys for the purpose of consulting them or of acquiring facts at
the fountain head; then to buy the paper, pay for the printing, and
the like, all at least fifteen per cent beyond what the trade would
have paid; and then after all to give thirty per cent not of the net
profits, but of the gross results of the sale, to a man who has merely
to give the books shelf or warehouse room, and permit his apprentice
to hand them over the counter to those who may ask for them; and this
too copy by copy, although, if the work be on any philosophical or
scientific subject, it may be years before the edition is sold off.
All this, I confess, must seem a hardship, and one, to which the
products of industry in no other mode of exertion are subject. Yet
even this is better, far better, than to attempt in any way to unite
the functions of author and publisher. But the most prudent mode is to
sell the copy-right, at least of one or more editions, for the most
that the trade will offer. By few only can a large remuneration be
expected; but fifty pounds and ease of mind are of more real advantage
to a literary man, than the chance of five hundred with the certainty
of insult and degrading anxieties. I shall have been grievously
misunderstood, if this statement should be interpreted as written with
the desire of detracting from the character of booksellers or
publishers. The individuals did not make the laws and customs of their
trade, but, as in every other trade, take them as they find them. Till
the evil can be proved to be removable, and without the substitution
of an equal or greater inconvenience, it were neither wise nor manly
even to complain of it. But to use it as a pretext for speaking, or
even for thinking, or feeling, unkindly or opprobriously of the
tradesmen, as individuals, would be something worse than unwise or
even than unmanly; it would be immoral and calumnious. My motives
point in a far different direction and to far other objects, as will
be seen in the conclusion of the chapter.

A learned and exemplary old clergyman, who many years ago went to his
reward followed by the regrets and blessings of his flock, published
at his own expense two volumes octavo, entitled, A NEW THEORY OF
REDEMPTION. The work was most severely handled in THE MONTHLY or
CRITICAL REVIEW, I forget which; and this unprovoked hostility became
the good old man's favourite topic of conversation among his friends.
"Well!" (he used to exclaim,) "in the second edition, I shall have an
opportunity of exposing both the ignorance and the malignity of the
anonymous critic." Two or three years however passed by without any
tidings from the bookseller, who had undertaken the printing and
publication of the work, and who was perfectly at his ease, as the
author was known to be a man of large property. At length the accounts
were written for; and in the course of a few weeks they were presented
by the rider for the house, in person. My old friend put on his
spectacles, and holding the scroll with no very firm hand, began--
"Paper, so much: O moderate enough--not at all beyond my expectation!
Printing, so much: well! moderate enough! Stitching, covers,
advertisements, carriage, and so forth, so much."--Still nothing
amiss. Selleridge (for orthography is no necessary part of a
bookseller's literary acquirements) L3. 3s. "Bless me! only three
guineas for the what d'ye call it--the selleridge?" "No more, Sir!"
replied the rider. "Nay, but that is too moderate!" rejoined my old
friend. "Only three guineas for selling a thousand copies of a work in
two volumes?" "O Sir!" (cries the young traveller) "you have mistaken
the word. There have been none of them sold; they have been sent back
from London long ago; and this L3. 3s. is for the cellaridge, or
warehouse-room in our book cellar." The work was in consequence
preferred from the ominous cellar of the publisher's to the author's
garret; and, on presenting a copy to an acquaintance, the old
gentleman used to tell the anecdote with great humour and still
greater good nature.

With equal lack of worldly knowledge, I was a far more than equal
sufferer for it, at the very outset of my authorship. Toward the close
of the first year from the time, that in an inauspicious hour I left
the friendly cloisters, and the happy grove of quiet, ever honoured
Jesus College, Cambridge, I was persuaded by sundry philanthropists
and Anti-polemists to set on foot a periodical work, entitled THE
WATCHMAN, that, according to the general motto of the work, all might
know the truth, and that the truth might make us free! In order to
exempt it from the stamp-tax, and likewise to contribute as little as
possible to the supposed guilt of a war against freedom, it was to be
published on every eighth day, thirty-two pages, large octavo, closely
printed, and price only four-pence. Accordingly with a flaming
prospectus,--"Knowledge is Power," "To cry the state of the political
atmosphere,"--and so forth, I set off on a tour to the North, from
Bristol to Sheffield, for the purpose of procuring customers,
preaching by the way in most of the great towns, as an hireless
volunteer, in a blue coat and white waistcoat, that not a rag of the
woman of Babylon might be seen on me. For I was at that time and long
after, though a Trinitarian (that is ad normam Platonis) in
philosophy, yet a zealous Unitarian in religion; more accurately, I
was a Psilanthropist, one of those who believe our Lord to have been
the real son of Joseph, and who lay the main stress on the
resurrection rather than on the crucifixion. O! never can I remember
those days with either shame or regret. For I was most sincere, most
disinterested. My opinions were indeed in many and most important
points erroneous; but my heart was single. Wealth, rank, life itself
then seemed cheap to me, compared with the interests of what I
believed to be the truth, and the will of my Maker. I cannot even
accuse myself of having been actuated by vanity; for in the expansion
of my enthusiasm I did not think of myself at all.

My campaign commenced at Birmingham; and my first attack was on a
rigid Calvinist, a tallow-chandler by trade. He was a tall dingy man,
in whom length was so predominant over breadth, that he might almost
have been borrowed for a foundery poker. O that face! a face kat'
emphasin! I have it before me at this moment. The lank, black, twine-
like hair, pingui-nitescent, cut in a straight line along the black
stubble of his thin gunpowder eye-brows, that looked like a scorched
after-math from a last week's shaving. His coat collar behind in
perfect unison, both of colour and lustre, with the coarse yet glib
cordage, which I suppose he called his hair, and which with a bend
inward at the nape of the neck,--the only approach to flexure in his
whole figure,--slunk in behind his waistcoat; while the countenance
lank, dark, very hard, and with strong perpendicular furrows, gave me
a dim notion of some one looking at me through a used gridiron, all
soot, grease, and iron! But he was one of the thorough-bred, a true
lover of liberty, and, as I was informed, had proved to the
satisfaction of many, that Mr. Pitt was one of the horns of the second
beast in THE REVELATIONS, that spake as a dragon. A person, to whom
one of my letters of recommendation had been addressed, was my
introducer. It was a new event in my life, my first stroke in the new
business I had undertaken of an author, yea, and of an author trading
on his own account. My companion after some imperfect sentences and a
multitude of hums and has abandoned the cause to his client; and I
commenced an harangue of half an hour to Phileleutheros, the tallow-
chandler, varying my notes, through the whole gamut of eloquence, from
the ratiocinative to the declamatory, and in the latter from the
pathetic to the indignant. I argued, I described, I promised, I
prophesied; and beginning with the captivity of nations I ended with
the near approach of the millennium, finishing the whole with some of
my own verses describing that glorious state out of the Religious

------Such delights
As float to earth, permitted visitants!
When in some hour of solemn jubilee
The massive gates of Paradise are thrown
Wide open, and forth come in fragments wild
Sweet echoes of unearthly melodies,
And odours snatched from beds of amaranth,
And they, that from the crystal river of life
Spring up on freshened wing, ambrosial gales!

My taper man of lights listened with perseverant and praiseworthy
patience, though, as I was afterwards told, on complaining of certain
gales that were not altogether ambrosial, it was a melting day with
him. "And what, Sir," he said, after a short pause, "might the cost
be?" "Only four-pence,"--(O! how I felt the anti-climax, the abysmal
bathos of that four-pence!)--"only four-pence, Sir, each number, to be
published on every eighth day."--"That comes to a deal of money at the
end of a year. And how much, did you say, there was to be for the
money?"--"Thirty-two pages, Sir, large octavo, closely printed."--
"Thirty and two pages? Bless me! why except what I does in a family
way on the Sabbath, that's more than I ever reads, Sir! all the year
round. I am as great a one, as any man in Brummagem, Sir! for liberty
and truth and all them sort of things, but as to this,--no offence, I
hope, Sir,--I must beg to be excused."

So ended my first canvass: from causes that I shall presently mention,
I made but one other application in person. This took place at
Manchester to a stately and opulent wholesale dealer in cottons. He
took my letter of introduction, and, having perused it, measured me
from head to foot and again from foot to head, and then asked if I had
any bill or invoice of the thing. I presented my prospectus to him. He
rapidly skimmed and hummed over the first side, and still more rapidly
the second and concluding page; crushed it within his fingers and the
palm of his hand; then most deliberately and significantly rubbed and
smoothed one part against the other; and lastly putting it into his
pocket turned his back on me with an "over-run with these articles!"
and so without another syllable retired into his counting house. And,
I can truly say, to my unspeakable amusement.

This, I have said, was my second and last attempt. On returning
baffled from the first, in which I had vainly essayed to repeat the
miracle of Orpheus with the Brummagem patriot, I dined with the
tradesman who had introduced me to him. After dinner he importuned me
to smoke a pipe with him, and two or three other illuminati of the
same rank. I objected, both because I was engaged to spend the evening
with a minister and his friends, and because I had never smoked except
once or twice in my lifetime, and then it was herb tobacco mixed with
Oronooko. On the assurance, however, that the tobacco was equally
mild, and seeing too that it was of a yellow colour; not forgetting
the lamentable difficulty, I have always experienced, in saying, "No,"
and in abstaining from what the people about me were doing,--I took
half a pipe, filling the lower half of the bowl with salt. I was soon
however compelled to resign it, in consequence of a giddiness and
distressful feeling in my eyes, which, as I had drunk but a single
glass of ale, must, I knew, have been the effect of the tobacco. Soon
after, deeming myself recovered, I sallied forth to my engagement; but
the walk and the fresh air brought on all the symptoms again, and, I
had scarcely entered the minister's drawing-room, and opened a small
pacquet of letters, which he had received from Bristol for me; ere I
sank back on the sofa in a sort of swoon rather than sleep.
Fortunately I had found just time enough to inform him of the confused
state of my feelings, and of the occasion. For here and thus I lay, my
face like a wall that is white-washing, deathly pale and with the cold
drops of perspiration running down it from my forehead, while one
after another there dropped in the different gentlemen, who had been
invited to meet, and spend the evening with me, to the number of from
fifteen to twenty. As the poison of tobacco acts but for a short time,
I at length awoke from insensibility, and looked round on the party,
my eyes dazzled by the candles which had been lighted in the interim.
By way of relieving my embarrassment one of the gentlemen began the
conversation, with "Have you seen a paper to-day, Mr. Coleridge?"
"Sir!" I replied, rubbing my eyes, "I am far from convinced, that a
Christian is permitted to read either newspapers or any other works of
merely political and temporary interest." This remark, so ludicrously
inapposite to, or rather, incongruous with, the purpose, for which I
was known to have visited Birmingham, and to assist me in which they
were all then met, produced an involuntary and general burst of
laughter; and seldom indeed have I passed so many delightful hours, as
I enjoyed in that room from the moment of that laugh till an early
hour the next morning. Never, perhaps, in so mixed and numerous a
party have I since heard conversation, sustained with such animation,
enriched with such variety of information and enlivened with such a
flow of anecdote. Both then and afterwards they all joined in
dissuading me from proceeding with my scheme; assured me in the most
friendly and yet most flattering expressions, that neither was the
employment fit for me, nor I fit for the employment. Yet, if I
determined on persevering in it, they promised to exert themselves to
the utmost to procure subscribers, and insisted that I should make no
more applications in person, but carry on the canvass by proxy. The
same hospitable reception, the same dissuasion, and, that failing, the
same kind exertions in my behalf, I met with at Manchester, Derby,
Nottingham, Sheffield,--indeed, at every place in which I took up my
sojourn. I often recall with affectionate pleasure the many
respectable men who interested themselves for me, a perfect stranger
to them, not a few of whom I can still name among my friends. They
will bear witness for me how opposite even then my principles were to
those of Jacobinism or even of democracy, and can attest the strict
accuracy of the statement which I have left on record in the tenth and
eleventh numbers of THE FRIEND.

From this rememberable tour I returned with nearly a thousand names on
the subscription list of THE WATCHMAN; yet more than half convinced,
that prudence dictated the abandonment of the scheme. But for this
very reason I persevered in it; for I was at that period of my life so
completely hag-ridden by the fear of being influenced by selfish
motives, that to know a mode of conduct to be the dictate of prudence
was a sort of presumptive proof to my feelings, that the contrary was
the dictate of duty. Accordingly, I commenced the work, which was
announced in London by long bills in letters larger than had ever been
seen before, and which, I have been informed, for I did not see them
myself, eclipsed the glories even of the lottery puffs. But alas! the
publication of the very first number was delayed beyond the day
announced for its appearance. In the second number an essay against
fast days, with a most censurable application of a text from Isaiah
for its motto, lost me near five hundred of my subscribers at one
blow. In the two following numbers I made enemies of all my Jacobin
and democratic patrons; for, disgusted by their infidelity, and their
adoption of French morals with French psilosophy; and perhaps
thinking, that charity ought to begin nearest home; Instead of abusing
the government and the Aristocrats chiefly or entirely, as had been
expected of me, I levelled my attacks at "modern patriotism," and even
ventured to declare my belief, that whatever the motives of ministers
might have been for the sedition, or as it was then the fashion to
call them, the gagging bills, yet the bills themselves would produce
an effect to be desired by all the true friends of freedom, as far as
they should contribute to deter men from openly declaiming on
subjects, the principles of which they had never bottomed and from
"pleading to the poor and ignorant, instead of pleading for them." At
the same time I avowed my conviction, that national education and a
concurring spread of the Gospel were the indispensable condition of
any true political melioration. Thus by the time the seventh number
was published, I had the mortification--(but why should I say this,
when in truth I cared too little for any thing that concerned my
worldly interests to be at all mortified about it?)--of seeing the
preceding numbers exposed in sundry old iron shops for a penny a
piece. At the ninth number I dropt the work. But from the London
publisher I could not obtain a shilling; he was a ------ and set me at
defiance. From other places I procured but little, and after such
delays as rendered that little worth nothing; and I should have been
inevitably thrown into jail by my Bristol printer, who refused to wait
even for a month, for a sum between eighty and ninety pounds, if the
money had not been paid for me by a man by no means affluent, a dear
friend, who attached himself to me from my first arrival at Bristol,
who has continued my friend with a fidelity unconquered by time or
even by my own apparent neglect; a friend from whom I never received
an advice that was not wise, nor a remonstrance that was not gentle
and affectionate.

Conscientiously an opponent of the first revolutionary war, yet with
my eyes thoroughly opened to the true character and impotence of the
favourers of revolutionary principles in England, principles which I
held in abhorrence,--(for it was part of my political creed, that
whoever ceased to act as an individual by making himself a member of
any society not sanctioned by his Government, forfeited the rights of
a citizen)--a vehement Anti-Ministerialist, but after the invasion of
Switzerland, a more vehement Anti-Gallican, and still more intensely
an Anti-Jacobin, I retired to a cottage at Stowey, and provided for my
scanty maintenance by writing verses for a London Morning Paper. I saw
plainly, that literature was not a profession, by which I could expect
to live; for I could not disguise from myself, that, whatever my
talents might or might not be in other respects, yet they were not of
the sort that could enable me to become a popular writer; and that
whatever my opinions might be in themselves, they were almost equi-
distant from all the three prominent parties, the Pittites, the
Foxites, and the Democrats. Of the unsaleable nature of my writings I
had an amusing memento one morning from our own servant girl. For
happening to rise at an earlier hour than usual, I observed her
putting an extravagant quantity of paper into the grate in order to
light the fire, and mildly checked her for her wastefulness; "La,
Sir!" (replied poor Nanny) "why, it is only Watchmen."

I now devoted myself to poetry and to the study of ethics and
psychology; and so profound was my admiration at this time of
Hartley's ESSAY ON MAN, that I gave his name to my first-born. In
addition to the gentleman, my neighbour, whose garden joined on to my
little orchard, and the cultivation of whose friendship had been my
sole motive in choosing Stowey for my residence, I was so fortunate as
to acquire, shortly after my settlement there, an invaluable blessing
in the society and neighbourhood of one, to whom I could look up with
equal reverence, whether I regarded him as a poet, a philosopher, or a
man. His conversation extended to almost all subjects, except physics
and politics; with the latter he never troubled himself. Yet neither
my retirement nor my utter abstraction from all the disputes of the
day could secure me in those jealous times from suspicion and obloquy,
which did not stop at me, but extended to my excellent friend, whose
perfect innocence was even adduced as a proof of his guilt. One of the
many busy sycophants of that day,--(I here use the word sycophant in
its original sense, as a wretch who flatters the prevailing party by
informing against his neighbours, under pretence that they are
exporters of prohibited figs or fancies,--for the moral application of
the term it matters not which)--one of these sycophantic law-mongrels,
discoursing on the politics of the neighbourhood, uttered the
following deep remark: "As to Coleridge, there is not so much harm in
him, for he is a whirl-brain that talks whatever comes uppermost; but
that ------! he is the dark traitor. You never hear HIM say a syllable
on the subject."

Now that the hand of Providence has disciplined all Europe into
sobriety, as men tame wild elephants, by alternate blows and caresses;
now that Englishmen of all classes are restored to their old English
notions and feelings; it will with difficulty be credited, how great
an influence was at that time possessed and exerted by the spirit of
secret defamation,--(the too constant attendant on party-zeal)--during
the restless interim from 1793 to the commencement of the Addington
administration, or the year before the truce of Amiens. For by the
latter period the minds of the partizans, exhausted by excess of
stimulation and humbled by mutual disappointment, had become languid.
The same causes, that inclined the nation to peace, disposed the
individuals to reconciliation. Both parties had found themselves in
the wrong. The one had confessedly mistaken the moral character of the
revolution, and the other had miscalculated both its moral and its
physical resources. The experiment was made at the price of great,
almost, we may say, of humiliating sacrifices; and wise men foresaw
that it would fail, at least in its direct and ostensible object. Yet
it was purchased cheaply, and realized an object of equal value, and,
if possible, of still more vital importance. For it brought about a
national unanimity unexampled in our history since the reign of
Elizabeth; and Providence, never wanting to a good work when men have
done their parts, soon provided a common focus in the cause of Spain,
which made us all once more Englishmen by at once gratifying and
correcting the predilections of both parties. The sincere reverers of
the throne felt the cause of loyalty ennobled by its alliance with
that of freedom; while the honest zealots of the people could not but
admit, that freedom itself assumed a more winning form, humanized by
loyalty and consecrated by religious principle. The youthful
enthusiasts who, flattered by the morning rainbow of the French
revolution, had made a boast of expatriating their hopes and fears,
now, disciplined by the succeeding storms and sobered by increase of
years, had been taught to prize and honour the spirit of nationality
as the best safeguard of national independence, and this again as the
absolute pre-requisite and necessary basis of popular rights.

If in Spain too disappointment has nipped our too forward
expectations, yet all is not destroyed that is checked. The crop was
perhaps springing up too rank in the stalk to kern well; and there
were, doubtless, symptoms of the Gallican blight on it. If
superstition and despotism have been suffered to let in their wolvish
sheep to trample and eat it down even to the surface, yet the roots
remain alive, and the second growth may prove the stronger and
healthier for the temporary interruption. At all events, to us heaven
has been just and gracious. The people of England did their best, and
have received their rewards. Long may we continue to deserve it!
Causes, which it had been too generally the habit of former statesmen
to regard as belonging to another world, are now admitted by all ranks
to have been the main agents of our success. "We fought from heaven;
the stars in their courses fought against Sisera." If then unanimity
grounded on moral feelings has been among the least equivocal sources
of our national glory, that man deserves the esteem of his countrymen,
even as patriots, who devotes his life and the utmost efforts of his
intellect to the preservation and continuance of that unanimity by the
disclosure and establishment of principles. For by these all opinions
must be ultimately tried; and, (as the feelings of men are worthy of
regard only as far as they are the representatives of their fixed
opinions,) on the knowledge of these all unanimity, not accidental and
fleeting, must be grounded. Let the scholar, who doubts this
assertion, refer only to the speeches and writings of Edmund Burke at
the commencement of the American war and compare them with his
speeches and writings at the commencement of the French revolution. He
will find the principles exactly the same and the deductions the same;
but the practical inferences almost opposite in the one case from
those drawn in the other; yet in both equally legitimate and in both
equally confirmed by the results. Whence gained he the superiority of
foresight? Whence arose the striking difference, and in most instances
even, the discrepancy between the grounds assigned by him and by those
who voted with him, on the same questions? How are we to explain the
notorious fact, that the speeches and writings of Edmund Burke are
more interesting at the present day than they were found at the time
of their first publication; while those of his illustrious
confederates are either forgotten, or exist only to furnish proofs,
that the same conclusion, which one man had deduced scientifically,
may be brought out by another in consequence of errors that luckily
chanced to neutralize each other. It would be unhandsome as a
conjecture, even were it not, as it actually is, false in point of
fact to attribute this difference to the deficiency of talent on the
part of Burke's friends, or of experience, or of historical knowledge.
The satisfactory solution is, that Edmund Burke possessed and had
sedulously sharpened that eye, which sees all things, actions, and
events, in relation to the laws that determine their existence and
circumscribe their possibility. He referred habitually to principles.
He was a scientific statesman; and therefore a seer. For every
principle contains in itself the germs of a prophecy; and, as the
prophetic power is the essential privilege of science, so the
fulfilment of its oracles supplies the outward and, (to men in
general,) the only test of its claim to the title. Wearisome as
Burke's refinements appeared to his parliamentary auditors, yet the
cultivated classes throughout Europe have reason to be thankful, that

------went on refining,
And thought of convincing, while they thought of dining.

Our very sign-boards, (said an illustrious friend to me,) give
evidence, that there has been a Titian in the world. In like manner,
not only the debates in parliament, not only our proclamations and
state papers, but the essays and leading paragraphs of our journals
are so many remembrancers of Edmund Burke. Of this the reader may
easily convince himself, if either by recollection or reference he
will compare the opposition newspapers at the commencement and during
the five or six following years of the French revolution with the
sentiments, and grounds of argument assumed in the same class of
journals at present, and for some years past.

Whether the spirit of jacobinism, which the writings of Burke
exorcised from the higher and from the literary classes, may not, like
the ghost in Hamlet, be heard moving and mining in the underground
chambers with an activity the more dangerous because less noisy, may
admit of a question. I have given my opinions on this point, and the
grounds of them, in my letters to judge Fletcher occasioned by his
charge to the Wexford grand jury, and published in the Courier. Be
this as it may, the evil spirit of jealousy, and with it the Cerberean
whelps of feud and slander, no longer walk their rounds, in cultivated

Far different were the days to which these anecdotes have carried me
back. The dark guesses of some zealous Quidnunc met with so congenial
a soil in the grave alarm of a titled Dogberry of our neighbourhood,
that a spy was actually sent down from the government pour
surveillance of myself and friend. There must have been not only
abundance, but variety of these "honourable men" at the disposal of
Ministers: for this proved a very honest fellow. After three weeks'
truly Indian perseverance in tracking us, (for we were commonly
together,) during all which time seldom were we out of doors, but he
contrived to be within hearing,--(and all the while utterly
unsuspected; how indeed could such a suspicion enter our fancies?)--he
not only rejected Sir Dogberry's request that he would try yet a
little longer, but declared to him his belief, that both my friend and
myself were as good subjects, for aught he could discover to the
contrary, as any in His Majesty's dominions. He had repeatedly hid
himself, he said, for hours together behind a bank at the sea-side,
(our favourite seat,) and overheard our conversation. At first he
fancied, that we were aware of our danger; for he often heard me talk
of one Spy Nozy, which he was inclined to interpret of himself, and of
a remarkable feature belonging to him; but he was speedily convinced
that it was the name of a man who had made a book and lived long ago.
Our talk ran most upon books, and we were perpetually desiring each
other to look at this, and to listen to that; but he could not catch a
word about politics. Once he had joined me on the road; (this
occurred, as I was returning home alone from my friend's house, which
was about three miles from my own cottage,) and, passing himself off
as a traveller, he had entered into conversation with me, and talked
of purpose in a democrat way in order to draw me out. The result, it
appears, not only convinced him that I was no friend of jacobinism;
but, (he added,) I had "plainly made it out to be such a silly as well
as wicked thing, that he felt ashamed though he had only put it on." I
distinctly remembered the occurrence, and had mentioned it immediately
on my return, repeating what the traveller with his Bardolph nose had
said, with my own answer; and so little did I suspect the true object
of my "tempter ere accuser," that I expressed with no small pleasure
my hope and belief, that the conversation had been of some service to
the poor misled malcontent. This incident therefore prevented all
doubt as to the truth of the report, which through a friendly medium
came to me from the master of the village inn, who had been ordered to
entertain the Government gentleman in his best manner, but above all
to be silent concerning such a person being in his house. At length he
received Sir Dogberry's commands to accompany his guest at the final
interview; and, after the absolving suffrage of the gentleman honoured
with the confidence of Ministers, answered, as follows, to the
following queries: D. "Well, landlord! and what do you know of the
person in question? L. I see him often pass by with maister ----, my
landlord, (that is, the owner of the house,) and sometimes with the
new-comers at Holford; but I never said a word to him or he to me. D.
But do you not know, that he has distributed papers and hand-bills of
a seditious nature among the common people? L. No, your Honour! I
never heard of such a thing. D. Have you not seen this Mr. Coleridge,
or heard of, his haranguing and talking to knots and clusters of the
inhabitants?--What are you grinning at, Sir? L. Beg your Honour's
pardon! but I was only thinking, how they'd have stared at him. If
what I have heard be true, your Honour! they would not have understood
a word he said. When our Vicar was here, Dr. L. the master of the
great school and Canon of Windsor, there was a great dinner party at
maister's; and one of the farmers, that was there, told us that he and
the Doctor talked real Hebrew Greek at each other for an hour together
after dinner. D. Answer the question, Sir! does he ever harangue the
people? L. I hope your Honour an't angry with me. I can say no more
than I know. I never saw him talking with any one, but my landlord,
and our curate, and the strange gentleman. D. Has he not been seen
wandering on the hills towards the Channel, and along the shore, with
books and papers in his hand, taking charts and maps of the country?
L. Why, as to that, your Honour! I own, I have heard; I am sure, I
would not wish to say ill of any body; but it is certain, that I have
heard--D. Speak out, man! don't be afraid, you are doing your duty to
your King and Government. What have you heard? L. Why, folks do say,
your Honour! as how that he is a Poet, and that he is going to put
Quantock and all about here in print; and as they be so much together,
I suppose that the strange gentleman has some consarn in the
business."--So ended this formidable inquisition, the latter part of
which alone requires explanation, and at the same time entitles the
anecdote to a place in my literary life. I had considered it as a
defect in the admirable poem of THE TASK, that the subject, which
gives the title to the work, was not, and indeed could not be, carried
on beyond the three or four first pages, and that, throughout the
poem, the connections are frequently awkward, and the transitions
abrupt and arbitrary. I sought for a subject, that should give equal
room and freedom for description, incident, and impassioned
reflections on men, nature, and society, yet supply in itself a
natural connection to the parts, and unity to the whole. Such a
subject I conceived myself to have found in a stream, traced from its
source in the hills among the yellow-red moss and conical glass-shaped
tufts of bent, to the first break or fall, where its drops become
audible, and it begins to form a channel; thence to the peat and turf
barn, itself built of the same dark squares as it sheltered; to the
sheepfold; to the first cultivated plot of ground; to the lonely
cottage and its bleak garden won from the heath; to the hamlet, the
villages, the market-town, the manufactories, and the seaport. My
walks therefore were almost daily on the top of Quantock, and among
its sloping coombes. With my pencil and memorandum-book in my hand, I
was making studies, as the artists call them, and often moulding my
thoughts into verse, with the objects and imagery immediately before
my senses. Many circumstances, evil and good, intervened to prevent
the completion of the poem, which was to have been entitled THE BROOK.
Had I finished the work, it was my purpose in the heat of the moment
to have dedicated it to our then committee of public safety as
containing the charts and maps, with which I was to have supplied the
French Government in aid of their plans of invasion. And these too for
a tract of coast that, from Clevedon to Minehead, scarcely permits the
approach of a fishing-boat!

All my experience from my first entrance into life to the present hour
is in favour of the warning maxim, that the man, who opposes in toto
the political or religious zealots of his age, is safer from their
obloquy than he who differs from them but in one or two points, or
perhaps only in degree. By that transfer of the feelings of private
life into the discussion of public questions, which is the queen bee
in the hive of party fanaticism, the partisan has more sympathy with
an intemperate opposite than with a moderate friend. We now enjoy an
intermission, and long may it continue! In addition to far higher and
more important merits, our present Bible societies and other numerous
associations for national or charitable objects, may serve perhaps to
carry off the superfluous activity and fervour of stirring minds in
innocent hyperboles and the bustle of management. But the poison-tree
is not dead, though the sap may for a season have subsided to its
roots. At least let us not be lulled into such a notion of our entire
security, as not to keep watch and ward, even on our best feelings. I
have seen gross intolerance shown in support of toleration; sectarian
antipathy most obtrusively displayed in the promotion of an
undistinguishing comprehension of sects: and acts of cruelty, (I had
almost said,) of treachery, committed in furtherance of an object
vitally important to the cause of humanity; and all this by men too of
naturally kind dispositions and exemplary conduct.

The magic rod of fanaticism is preserved in the very adyta of human
nature; and needs only the re-exciting warmth of a master hand to bud
forth afresh and produce the old fruits. The horror of the Peasants'
war in Germany, and the direful effects of the Anabaptists' tenets,
(which differed only from those of jacobinism by the substitution of
theological for philosophical jargon,) struck all Europe for a time
with affright. Yet little more than a century was sufficient to
obliterate all effective memory of these events. The same principles
with similar though less dreadful consequences were again at work from
the imprisonment of the first Charles to the restoration of his son.
The fanatic maxim of extirpating fanaticism by persecution produced a
civil war. The war ended in the victory of the insurgents; but the
temper survived, and Milton had abundant grounds for asserting, that
"Presbyter was but OLD PRIEST writ large!" One good result, thank
heaven! of this zealotry was the re-establishment of the church. And
now it might have been hoped, that the mischievous spirit would have
been bound for a season, "and a seal set upon him, that he should
deceive the nation no more." [33] But no! The ball of persecution was
taken up with undiminished vigour by the persecuted. The same fanatic
principle that, under the solemn oath and covenant, had turned
cathedrals into stables, destroyed the rarest trophies of art and
ancestral piety, and hunted the brightest ornaments of learning and
religion into holes and corners, now marched under episcopal banners,
and, having first crowded the prisons of England, emptied its whole
vial of wrath on the miserable Covenanters of Scotland [34]. A
merciful providence at length constrained both parties to join against
a common enemy. A wise government followed; and the established church
became, and now is, not only the brightest example, but our best and
only sure bulwark, of toleration!--the true and indispensable bank
against a new inundation of persecuting zeal--Esto perpetua!

A long interval of quiet succeeded; or rather, the exhaustion had
produced a cold fit of the ague which was symptomatized by
indifference among the many, and a tendency to infidelity or
scepticism in the educated classes. At length those feelings of
disgust and hatred, which for a brief while the multitude had attached
to the crimes and absurdities of sectarian and democratic fanaticism,
were transferred to the oppressive privileges of the noblesse, and the
luxury; intrigues and favouritism of the continental courts. The same
principles, dressed in the ostentatious garb of a fashionable
philosophy, once more rose triumphant and effected the French
revolution. And have we not within the last three or four years had
reason to apprehend, that the detestable maxims and correspondent
measures of the late French despotism had already bedimmed the public
recollections of democratic phrensy; had drawn off to other objects
the electric force of the feelings which had massed and upheld those
recollections; and that a favourable concurrence of occasions was
alone wanting to awaken the thunder and precipitate the lightning from
the opposite quarter of the political heaven?

In part from constitutional indolence, which in the very hey-day of
hope had kept my enthusiasm in check, but still more from the habits
and influences of a classical education and academic pursuits,
scarcely had a year elapsed from the commencement of my literary and
political adventures before my mind sank into a state of thorough
disgust and despondency, both with regard to the disputes and the
parties disputant. With more than poetic feeling I exclaimed:

The sensual and the dark rebel in vain,
Slaves by their own compulsion! In mad game
They break their manacles, to wear the name
Of freedom, graven on a heavier chain.
O Liberty! with profitless endeavour
Have I pursued thee many a weary hour;
But thou nor swell'st the victor's pomp, nor ever
Didst breathe thy soul in forms of human power!
Alike from all, howe'er they praise thee,
(Nor prayer nor boastful name delays thee)
From Superstition's harpy minions
And factious Blasphemy's obscener slaves,
Thou speedest on thy cherub pinions,
The guide of homeless winds and playmate of the waves!

I retired to a cottage in Somersetshire at the foot of Quantock, and
devoted my thoughts and studies to the foundations of religion and
morals. Here I found myself all afloat. Doubts rushed in; broke upon
me "from the fountains of the great deep," and fell "from the windows
of heaven." The fontal truths of natural religion and the books of
Revelation alike contributed to the flood; and it was long ere my ark
touched on an Ararat, and rested. The idea of the Supreme Being
appeared to me to be as necessarily implied in all particular modes of
being as the idea of infinite space in all the geometrical figures by
which space is limited. I was pleased with the Cartesian opinion, that
the idea of God is distinguished from all other ideas by involving its
reality; but I was not wholly satisfied. I began then to ask myself,
what proof I had of the outward existence of anything? Of this sheet
of paper for instance, as a thing in itself, separate from the
phaenomenon or image in my perception. I saw, that in the nature of
things such proof is impossible; and that of all modes of being, that
are not objects of the senses, the existence is assumed by a logical
necessity arising from the constitution of the mind itself,--by the
absence of all motive to doubt it, not from any absolute contradiction
in the supposition of the contrary. Still the existence of a Being,
the ground of all existence, was not yet the existence of a moral
creator, and governour. "In the position, that all reality is either
contained in the necessary being as an attribute, or exists through
him, as its ground, it remains undecided whether the properties of
intelligence and will are to be referred to the Supreme Being in the
former or only in the latter sense; as inherent attributes, or only as
consequences that have existence in other things through him [35].
Were the latter the truth, then notwithstanding all the pre-eminence
which must be assigned to the Eternal First from the sufficiency,
unity, and independence of his being, as the dread ground of the
universe, his nature would yet fall far short of that, which we are
bound to comprehend in the idea of GOD. For, without any knowledge or
determining resolve of its own, it would only be a blind necessary
ground of other things and other spirits; and thus would be
distinguished from the FATE of certain ancient philosophers in no
respect, but that of being more definitely and intelligibly

For a very long time, indeed, I could not reconcile personality with
infinity; and my head was with Spinoza, though my whole heart remained
with Paul and John. Yet there had dawned upon me, even before I had
met with the CRITIQUE OF THE PURE REASON, a certain guiding light. If
the mere intellect could make no certain discovery of a holy and
intelligent first cause, it might yet supply a demonstration, that no
legitimate argument could be drawn from the intellect against its
truth. And what is this more than St. Paul's assertion, that by
wisdom,--(more properly translated by the powers of reasoning)--no man
ever arrived at the knowledge of God? What more than the sublimest,
and probably the oldest, book on earth has taught us,

Silver and gold man searcheth out:
Bringeth the ore out of the earth, and darkness into light.

But where findeth he wisdom?
Where is the place of understanding?

The abyss crieth; it is not in me!
Ocean echoeth back; not in me!

Whence then cometh wisdom?
Where dwelleth understanding?

Hidden from the eyes of the living
Kept secret from the fowls of heaven!

Hell and death answer;
We have heard the rumour thereof from afar!

GOD marketh out the road to it;
GOD knoweth its abiding place!

He beholdeth the ends of the earth;
He surveyeth what is beneath the heavens!

And as he weighed out the winds, and measured the sea,
And appointed laws to the rain,
And a path to the thunder,
A path to the flashes of the lightning!

Then did he see it,
And he counted it;
He searched into the depth thereof,
And with a line did he compass it round!

But to man he said,
The fear of the Lord is wisdom for thee!
And to avoid evil,
That is thy understanding. [36]

I become convinced, that religion, as both the cornerstone and the
key-stone of morality, must have a moral origin; so far at least, that
the evidence of its doctrines could not, like the truths of abstract
science, be wholly independent of the will. It were therefore to be
expected, that its fundamental truth would be such as might be denied;
though only, by the fool, and even by the fool from the madness of the
heart alone!

The question then concerning our faith in the existence of a God, not
only as the ground of the universe by his essence, but as its maker
and judge by his wisdom and holy will, appeared to stand thus. The
sciential reason, the objects of which are purely theoretical, remains
neutral, as long as its name and semblance are not usurped by the
opponents of the doctrine. But it then becomes an effective ally by
exposing the false show of demonstration, or by evincing the equal
demonstrability of the contrary from premises equally logical [37].
The understanding meantime suggests, the analogy of experience
facilitates, the belief. Nature excites and recalls it, as by a
perpetual revelation. Our feelings almost necessitate it; and the law
of conscience peremptorily commands it. The arguments, that at all
apply to it, are in its favour; and there is nothing against it, but
its own sublimity. It could not be intellectually more evident without
becoming morally less effective; without counteracting its own end by
sacrificing the life of faith to the cold mechanism of a worth less
because compulsory assent. The belief of a God and a future state, (if
a passive acquiescence may be flattered with the name of belief,) does
not indeed always beget a good heart; but a good heart so naturally
begets the belief, that the very few exceptions must be regarded as
strange anomalies from strange and unfortunate circumstances.

From these premises I proceeded to draw the following conclusions.
First, that having once fully admitted the existence of an infinite
yet self-conscious Creator, we are not allowed to ground the
irrationality of any other article of faith on arguments which would
equally prove that to be irrational, which we had allowed to be real.
Secondly, that whatever is deducible from the admission of a self-
comprehending and creative spirit may be legitimately used in proof of
the possibility of any further mystery concerning the divine nature.
Possibilitatem mysteriorum, (Trinitatis, etc.) contra insultus
Infidelium et Haereticorum a contradictionibus vindico; haud quidem
veritatem, quae revelatione sola stabiliri possit; says Leibnitz in a
letter to his Duke. He then adds the following just and important
remark. "In vain will tradition or texts of scripture be adduced in
support of a doctrine, donec clava impossibilitatis et contradictionis
e manibus horum Herculum extorta fuerit. For the heretic will still
reply, that texts, the literal sense of which is not so much above as
directly against all reason, must be understood figuratively, as Herod
is a fox, and so forth."

These principles I held, philosophically, while in respect of revealed
religion I remained a zealous Unitarian. I considered the idea of the
Trinity a fair scholastic inference from the being of God, as a
creative intelligence; and that it was therefore entitled to the rank
of an esoteric doctrine of natural religion. But seeing in the same no
practical or moral bearing, I confined it to the schools of
philosophy. The admission of the Logos, as hypostasized (that is,
neither a mere attribute, nor a personification) in no respect removed
my doubts concerning the Incarnation and the Redemption by the cross;
which I could neither reconcile in reason with the impassiveness of
the Divine Being, nor in my moral feelings with the sacred distinction
between things and persons, the vicarious payment of a debt and the
vicarious expiation of guilt. A more thorough revolution in my
philosophic principles, and a deeper insight into my own heart, were
yet wanting. Nevertheless, I cannot doubt, that the difference of my
metaphysical notions from those of Unitarians in general contributed
to my final re-conversion to the whole truth in Christ; even as
according to his own confession the books of certain Platonic
philosophers (libri quorundam Platonicorum) commenced the rescue of
St. Augustine's faith from the same error aggravated by the far darker
accompaniment of the Manichaean heresy.

While my mind was thus perplexed, by a gracious providence for which I
can never be sufficiently grateful, the generous and munificent
patronage of Mr. Josiah, and Mr. Thomas Wedgwood enabled me to finish
my education in Germany. Instead of troubling others with my own crude
notions and juvenile compositions, I was thenceforward better employed
in attempting to store my own head with the wisdom of others. I made
the best use of my time and means; and there is therefore no period of
my life on which I can look back with such unmingled satisfaction.
After acquiring a tolerable sufficiency in the German language [38] at
Ratzeburg, which with my voyage and journey thither I have described
in The Friend, I proceeded through Hanover to Goettingen.

Here I regularly attended the lectures on physiology in the morning,
and on natural history in the evening, under Blumenbach, a name as
dear to every Englishman who has studied at that university, as it is
venerable to men of science throughout Europe! Eichhorn's lectures on
the New Testament were repeated to me from notes by a student from
Ratzeburg, a young man of sound learning and indefatigable industry,
who is now, I believe, a professor of the oriental languages at
Heidelberg. But my chief efforts were directed towards a grounded
knowledge of the German language and literature. From professor
Tychsen I received as many lessons in the Gothic of Ulphilas as
sufficed to make me acquainted with its grammar, and the radical words
of most frequent occurrence; and with the occasional assistance of the
same philosophical linguist, I read through [39] Ottfried's metrical
paraphrase of the gospel, and the most important remains of the
Theotiscan, or the transitional state of the Teutonic language from
the Gothic to the old German of the Swabian period. Of this period--
(the polished dialect of which is analogous to that of our Chaucer,
and which leaves the philosophic student in doubt, whether the
language has not since then lost more in sweetness and flexibility,
than it has gained in condensation and copiousness)--I read with
sedulous accuracy the Minnesinger (or singers of love, the Provencal
poets of the Swabian court) and the metrical romances; and then
laboured through sufficient specimens of the master singers, their
degenerate successors; not however without occasional pleasure from
the rude, yet interesting strains of Hans Sachs, the cobbler of
Nuremberg. Of this man's genius five folio volumes with double columns
are extant in print, and nearly an equal number in manuscript; yet the
indefatigable bard takes care to inform his readers, that he never

Book of the day: