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Biographia Literaria by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Part 7 out of 8

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Which last sentence must be supposed to mean; when they were present,
and making love to each other.--Then, if this portrait could speak, it
would "acquit the faith of womankind." How? Had she remained constant?
No, she has been married to another man, whose wife she now is. How
then? Why, that, in spite of her marriage vow, she had continued to
yearn and crave for her former lover--

"This has her body, that her mind:
Which has the better bargain?"

The lover, however, was not contented with this precious arrangement,
as we shall soon find. The lady proceeds to inform us that during the
many years of their separation, there have happened in the different
parts of the world, a number of "such things;" even such, as in a
course of years always have, and till the Millennium, doubtless always
will happen somewhere or other. Yet this passage, both in language and
in metre, is perhaps amongst the best parts of the play. The lady's
love companion and most esteemed attendant, Clotilda, now enters and
explains this love and esteem by proving herself a most passive and
dispassionate listener, as well as a brief and lucky querist, who asks
by chance, questions that we should have thought made for the very
sake of the answers. In short, she very much reminds us of those
puppet-heroines, for whom the showman contrives to dialogue without
any skill in ventriloquism. This, notwithstanding, is the best scene
in the Play, and though crowded with solecisms, corrupt diction, and
offences against metre, would possess merits sufficient to out-weigh
them, if we could suspend the moral sense during the perusal. It tells
well and passionately the preliminary circumstances, and thus
overcomes the main difficulty of most first acts, to wit, that of
retrospective narration. It tells us of her having been honourably
addressed by a noble youth, of rank and fortune vastly superior to her
own: of their mutual love, heightened on her part by gratitude; of his
loss of his sovereign's favour; his disgrace; attainder; and flight;
that he (thus degraded) sank into a vile ruffian, the chieftain of a
murderous banditti; and that from the habitual indulgence of the most
reprobate habits and ferocious passions, he had become so changed,
even in appearance, and features,

"That she who bore him had recoiled from him,
Nor known the alien visage of her child,
Yet still she (Imogine) lov'd him."

She is compelled by the silent entreaties of a father, perishing with
"bitter shameful want on the cold earth," to give her hand, with a
heart thus irrecoverably pre-engaged, to Lord Aldobrand, the enemy of
her lover, even to the very man who had baffled his ambitious schemes,
and was, at the present time, entrusted with the execution of the
sentence of death which had been passed on Bertram. Now, the proof of
"woman's love," so industriously held forth for the sympathy, if not
for the esteem of the audience, consists in this, that, though Bertram
had become a robber and a murderer by trade, a ruffian in manners,
yea, with form and features at which his own mother could not but
"recoil," yet she (Lady Imogine) "the wife of a most noble, honoured
Lord," estimable as a man, exemplary and affectionate as a husband,
and the fond father of her only child--that she, notwithstanding all
this, striking her heart, dares to say to it--

"But thou art Bertram's still, and Bertram's ever."

A Monk now enters, and entreats in his Prior's name for the wonted
hospitality, and "free noble usage" of the Castle of St. Aldobrand for
some wretched shipwrecked souls, and from this we learn, for the first
time, to our infinite surprise, that notwithstanding the
supernaturalness of the storm aforesaid, not only Bertram, but the
whole of his gang, had been saved, by what means we are left to
conjecture, and can only conclude that they had all the same desperate
swimming powers, and the same saving destiny as the hero, Bertram
himself. So ends the first act, and with it the tale of the events,
both those with which the tragedy begins, and those which had occurred
previous to the date of its commencement. The second displays Bertram
in disturbed sleep, which the Prior, who hangs over him, prefers
calling a "starting trance," and with a strained voice, that would
have awakened one of the seven sleepers, observes to the audience--

"How the lip works! How the bare teeth do grind!
And beaded drops course [81] down his writhen brow!"

The dramatic effect of which passage we not only concede to the
admirers of this tragedy, but acknowledge the further advantages of
preparing the audience for the most surprising series of wry faces,
proflated mouths, and lunatic gestures that were ever "launched" on an
audience to "sear the sense." [82]

"PRIOR.--I will awake him from this horrid trance. This is no
natural sleep! Ho, wake thee, stranger!"

This is rather a whimsical application of the verb reflex we must
confess, though we remember a similar transfer of the agent to the
patient in a manuscript tragedy, in which the Bertram of the piece,
prostrating a man with a single blow of his fist, exclaims--"Knock me
thee down, then ask thee if thou liv'st." Well; the stranger obeys,
and whatever his sleep might have been, his waking was perfectly
natural; for lethargy itself could not withstand the scolding
Stentorship of Mr. Holland, the Prior. We next learn from the best
authority, his own confession, that the misanthropic hero, whose
destiny was incompatible with drowning, is Count Bertram, who not only
reveals his past fortunes, but avows with open atrocity, his Satanic
hatred of Imogine's lord, and his frantick thirst of revenge; and so
the raving character raves, and the scolding character scolds--and
what else? Does not the Prior act? Does he not send for a posse of
constables or thief-takers to handcuff the villain, or take him either
to Bedlam or Newgate? Nothing of the kind; the author preserves the
unity of character, and the scolding Prior from first to last does
nothing but scold, with the exception indeed of the last scene of the
last act, in which, with a most surprising revolution, he whines,
weeps, and kneels to the condemned blaspheming assassin out of pure
affection to the high-hearted man, the sublimity of whose angel-sin
rivals the star-bright apostate, (that is, who was as proud as
Lucifer, and as wicked as the Devil), and, "had thrilled him," (Prior
Holland aforesaid), with wild admiration.

Accordingly in the very next scene, we have this tragic Macheath, with
his whole gang, in the Castle of St. Aldobrand, without any attempt on
the Prior's part either to prevent him, or to put the mistress and
servants of the Castle on their guard against their new inmates;
though he (the Prior) knew, and confesses that he knew, that Bertram's
"fearful mates" were assassins so habituated and naturalized to guilt,

"When their drenched hold forsook both gold and gear,
They griped their daggers with a murderer's instinct;"

and though he also knew, that Bertram was the leader of a band whose
trade was blood. To the Castle however he goes, thus with the holy
Prior's consent, if not with his assistance; and thither let us follow

No sooner is our hero safely housed in the Castle of St. Aldobrand,
than he attracts the notice of the lady and her confidante, by his
"wild and terrible dark eyes," "muffled form," "fearful form," [83]
"darkly wild," "proudly stern," and the like common-place indefinites,
seasoned by merely verbal antitheses, and at best, copied with very
slight change, from the Conrade of Southey's JOAN OF ARC. The lady
Imogine, who has been, (as is the case, she tells us, with all soft
and solemn spirits,) worshipping the moon on a terrace or rampart
within view of the Castle, insists on having an interview with our
hero, and this too tete-a-tete. Would the reader learn why and
wherefore the confidante is excluded, who very properly remonstrates
against such "conference, alone, at night, with one who bears such
fearful form;" the reason follows--"why, therefore send him!" I say,
follows, because the next line, "all things of fear have lost their
power over me," is separated from the former by a break or pause, and
besides that it is a very poor answer to the danger, is no answer at
all to the gross indelicacy of this wilful exposure. We must therefore
regard it as a mere after-thought, that a little softens the rudeness,
but adds nothing to the weight, of that exquisite woman's reason
aforesaid. And so exit Clotilda and enter Bertram, who "stands without
looking at her," that is, with his lower limbs forked, his arms
akimbo, his side to the lady's front, the whole figure resembling an
inverted Y. He is soon however roused from the state surly to the
state frantick, and then follow raving, yelling, cursing, she
fainting, he relenting, in runs Imogine's child, squeaks "mother!" He
snatches it up, and with a "God bless thee, child! Bertram has kissed
thy child,"--the curtain drops. The third act is short, and short be
our account of it. It introduces Lord St. Aldobrand on his road
homeward, and next Imogine in the convent, confessing the foulness of
her heart to the Prior, who first indulges his old humour with a fit
of senseless scolding, then leaves her alone with her ruffian
paramour, with whom she makes at once an infamous appointment, and the
curtain drops, that it may be carried into act and consummation.

I want words to describe the mingled horror and disgust with which I
witnessed the opening of the fourth act, considering it as a
melancholy proof of the depravation of the public mind. The shocking
spirit of jacobinism seemed no longer confined to politics. The
familiarity with atrocious events and characters appeared to have
poisoned the taste, even where it had not directly disorganized the
moral principles, and left the feelings callous to all the mild
appeals, and craving alone for the grossest and most outrageous
stimulants. The very fact then present to our senses, that a British
audience could remain passive under such an insult to common decency,
nay, receive with a thunder of applause, a human being supposed to
have come reeking from the consummation of this complex foulness and
baseness, these and the like reflections so pressed as with the weight
of lead upon my heart, that actor, author, and tragedy would have been
forgotten, had it not been for a plain elderly man sitting beside me,
who, with a very serious face, that at once expressed surprise and
aversion, touched my elbow, and, pointing to the actor, said to me in
a half-whisper--"Do you see that little fellow there? he has just been
committing adultery!" Somewhat relieved by the laugh which this droll
address occasioned, I forced back my attention to the stage
sufficiently to learn, that Bertram is recovered from a transient fit
of remorse by the information, that St. Aldobrand was commissioned (to
do, what every honest man must have done without commission, if he did
his duty) to seize him and deliver him to the just vengeance of the
law; an information which, (as he had long known himself to be an
attainted traitor and proclaimed outlaw, and not only a trader in
blood himself, but notoriously the Captain of a gang of thieves,
pirates, and assassins), assuredly could not have been new to him. It
is this, however, which alone and instantly restores him to his
accustomed state of raving, blasphemy, and nonsense. Next follows
Imogine's constrained interview with her injured husband, and his
sudden departure again, all in love and kindness, in order to attend
the feast of St. Anselm at the convent. This was, it must be owned, a
very strange engagement for so tender a husband to make within a few
minutes after so long an absence. But first his lady has told him that
she has "a vow on her," and wishes "that black perdition may gulf her
perjured soul,"--(Note: she is lying at the very time)--if she ascends
his bed, till her penance is accomplished. How, therefore, is the poor
husband to amuse himself in this interval of her penance? But do not
be distressed, reader, on account of the St. Aldobrand's absence! As
the author has contrived to send him out of the house, when a husband
would be in his, and the lover's way, so he will doubtless not be at a
loss to bring him back again as soon as he is wanted. Well! the
husband gone in on the one side, out pops the lover from the other,
and for the fiendish purpose of harrowing up the soul of his wretched
accomplice in guilt, by announcing to her, with most brutal and
blasphemous execrations, his fixed and deliberate resolve to
assassinate her husband; all this too is for no discoverable purpose
on the part of the author, but that of introducing a series of super-
tragic starts, pauses, screams, struggling, dagger-throwing, falling
on the ground, starting up again wildly, swearing, outcries for help,
falling again on the ground, rising again, faintly tottering towards
the door, and, to end the scene, a most convenient fainting fit of our
lady's, just in time to give Bertram an opportunity of seeking the
object of his hatred, before she alarms the house, which indeed she
has had full time to have done before, but that the author rather
chose she should amuse herself and the audience by the above-described
ravings and startings. She recovers slowly, and to her enter,
Clotilda, the confidante and mother confessor; then commences, what in
theatrical language is called the madness, but which the author more
accurately entitles, delirium, it appearing indeed a sort of
intermittent fever with fits of lightheadedness off and on, whenever
occasion and stage effect happen to call for it. A convenient return
of the storm, (we told the reader before-hand how it would be), had

"The rivulet, that bathed the convent walls,
Into a foaming flood: upon its brink
The Lord and his small train do stand appalled.
With torch and bell from their high battlements
The monks do summon to the pass in vain;
He must return to-night."

Talk of the Devil, and his horns appear, says the proverb and sure
enough, within ten lines of the exit of the messenger, sent to stop
him, the arrival of Lord St. Aldobrand is announced. Bertram's ruffian
band now enter, and range themselves across the stage, giving fresh
cause for Imogine's screams and madness. St. Aldobrand, having
received his mortal wound behind the scenes, totters in to welter in
his blood, and to die at the feet of this double-damned adultress.

Of her, as far as she is concerned in this fourth act, we have two
additional points to notice: first, the low cunning and Jesuitical
trick with which she deludes her husband into words of forgiveness,
which he himself does not understand; and secondly, that everywhere
she is made the object of interest and sympathy, and it is not the
author's fault, if, at any moment, she excites feelings less gentle,
than those we are accustomed to associate with the self-accusations of
a sincere religious penitent. And did a British audience endure all
this?--They received it with plaudits, which, but for the rivalry of
the carts and hackney coaches, might have disturbed the evening-
prayers of the scanty week day congregation at St. Paul's cathedral.

Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis.

Of the fifth act, the only thing noticeable, (for rant and nonsense,
though abundant as ever, have long before the last act become things
of course,) is the profane representation of the high altar in a
chapel, with all the vessels and other preparations for the holy
sacrament. A hymn is actually sung on the stage by the chorister boys!
For the rest, Imogine, who now and then talks deliriously, but who is
always light-headed as far as her gown and hair can make her so,
wanders about in dark woods with cavern-rocks and precipices in the
back-scene; and a number of mute dramatis personae move in and out
continually, for whose presence, there is always at least this reason,
that they afford something to be seen, by that very large part of a
Drury Lane audience who have small chance of hearing a word. She had,
it appears, taken her child with her, but what becomes of the child,
whether she murdered it or not, nobody can tell, nobody can learn; it
was a riddle at the representation, and after a most attentive perusal
of the Play, a riddle it remains.

"No more I know, I wish I did,
And I would tell it all to you;
For what became of this poor child
There's none that ever knew."

Our whole information [84] is derived from the following words--

"PRIOR.--Where is thy child?

CLOTIL.--(Pointing to the cavern into which she has looked)
Oh he lies cold within his cavern-tomb!
Why dost thou urge her with the horrid theme?

PRIOR.--(who will not, the reader may observe, be disappointed of
his dose of scolding)
It was to make (query wake) one living cord o' th' heart,
And I will try, tho' my own breaks at it.
Where is thy child?

IMOG.--(with a frantic laugh) The forest fiend hath snatched him--
He (who? the fiend or the child?) rides the night-mare thro' the
wizard woods."

Now these two lines consist in a senseless plagiarism from the
counterfeited madness of Edgar in Lear, who, in imitation of the gypsy
incantations, puns on the old word mair, a hag; and the no less
senseless adoption of Dryden's forest fiend, and the wisard stream by
which Milton, in his Lycidas, so finely characterizes the spreading
Deva, fabulosus amnis. Observe too these images stand unique in the
speeches of Imogine, without the slightest resemblance to anything she
says before or after. But we are weary. The characters in this act
frisk about, here, there, and every where, as teasingly as the Jack o'
Lantern-lights which mischievous boys, from across a narrow street,
throw with a looking-glass on the faces of their opposite neighbours.
Bertram disarmed, outheroding Charles de Moor in the Robbers, befaces
the collected knights of St. Anselm, (all in complete armour) and so,
by pure dint of black looks, he outdares them into passive poltroons.
The sudden revolution in the Prior's manners we have before noticed,
and it is indeed so outre, that a number of the audience imagined a
great secret was to come out, viz.: that the Prior was one of the many
instances of a youthful sinner metamorphosed into an old scold, and
that this Bertram would appear at last to be his son. Imogine re-
appears at the convent, and dies of her own accord. Bertram stabs
himself, and dies by her side, and that the play may conclude as it
began, to wit, in a superfetation of blasphemy upon nonsense, because
he had snatched a sword from a despicable coward, who retreats in
terror when it is pointed towards him in sport; this felo de se, and
thief-captain--this loathsome and leprous confluence of robbery,
adultery, murder, and cowardly assassination,--this monster, whose
best deed is, the having saved his betters from the degradation of
hanging him, by turning Jack Ketch to himself; first recommends the
charitable Monks and holy Prior to pray for his soul, and then has the
folly and impudence to exclaim--

"I die no felon's death,
A warriour's weapon freed a warriour's soul!"



It sometimes happens that we are punished for our faults by incidents,
in the causation of which these faults had no share: and this I have
always felt the severest punishment. The wound indeed is of the same
dimensions; but the edges are jagged, and there is a dull underpain
that survives the smart which it had aggravated. For there is always a
consolatory feeling that accompanies the sense of a proportion between
antecedents and consequents. The sense of Before and After becomes
both intelligible and intellectual when, and only when, we contemplate
the succession in the relations of Cause and Effect, which, like the
two poles of the magnet manifest the being and unity of the one power
by relative opposites, and give, as it were, a substratum of
permanence, of identity, and therefore of reality, to the shadowy flux
of Time. It is Eternity revealing itself in the phaenomena of Time:
and the perception and acknowledgment of the proportionality and
appropriateness of the Present to the Past, prove to the afflicted
Soul, that it has not yet been deprived of the sight of God, that it
can still recognise the effective presence of a Father, though through
a darkened glass and a turbid atmosphere, though of a Father that is
chastising it. And for this cause, doubtless, are we so framed in
mind, and even so organized in brain and nerve, that all confusion is
painful. It is within the experience of many medical practitioners,
that a patient, with strange and unusual symptoms of disease, has been
more distressed in mind, more wretched, from the fact of being
unintelligible to himself and others, than from the pain or danger of
the disease: nay, that the patient has received the most solid
comfort, and resumed a genial and enduring cheerfulness, from some new
symptom or product, that had at once determined the name and nature of
his complaint, and rendered it an intelligible effect of an
intelligible cause: even though the discovery did at the same moment
preclude all hope of restoration. Hence the mystic theologians, whose
delusions we may more confidently hope to separate from their actual
intuitions, when we condescend to read their works without the
presumption that whatever our fancy, (always the ape, and too often
the adulterator and counterfeit of our memory,) has not made or cannot
make a picture of, must be nonsense,--hence, I say, the Mystics have
joined in representing the state of the reprobate spirits as a
dreadful dream in which there is no sense of reality, not even of the
pangs they are enduring--an eternity without time, and as it were
below it--God present without manifestation of his presence. But these
are depths, which we dare not linger over. Let us turn to an instance
more on a level with the ordinary sympathies of mankind. Here then,
and in this same healing influence of Light and distinct Beholding, we
may detect the final cause of that instinct which, in the great
majority of instances, leads, and almost compels the Afflicted to
communicate their sorrows. Hence too flows the alleviation that
results from "opening out our griefs: "which are thus presented in
distinguishable forms instead of the mist, through which whatever is
shapeless becomes magnified and (literally) enormous. Casimir, in the
fifth Ode of his third Book, has happily [85] expressed this thought.

Me longus silendi
Edit amor, facilesque luctus
Hausit medullas. Fugerit ocyus,
Simul negantem visere jusseris
Aures amicorum, et loquacem
Questibus evacuaris iram.

Olim querendo desinimus queri,
Ipsoque fletu lacryma perditur
Nec fortis [86] aeque, si per omnes
Cura volat residetque ramos.

Vires amicis perdit in auribus,
Minorque semper dividitur dolor,
Per multa permissus vagari

I shall not make this an excuse, however, for troubling my readers
with any complaints or explanations, with which, as readers, they have
little or no concern. It may suffice, (for the present at least,) to
declare, that the causes that have delayed the publication of these
volumes for so long a period after they had been printed off, were not
connected with any neglect of my own; and that they would form an
instructive comment on the chapter concerning authorship as a trade,
addressed to young men of genius in the first volume of this work. I
remember the ludicrous effect produced on my mind by the fast sentence
of an auto-biography, which, happily for the writer, was as meagre in
incidents as it is well possible for the life of an individual to be--
"The eventful life which I am about to record, from the hour in which
I rose into existence on this planet, etc." Yet when, notwithstanding
this warning example of self-importance before me, I review my own
life, I cannot refrain from applying the same epithet to it, and with
more than ordinary emphasis--and no private feeling, that affected
myself only, should prevent me from publishing the same, (for write it
I assuredly shall, should life and leisure be granted me,) if
continued reflection should strengthen my present belief, that my
history would add its contingent to the enforcement of one important
truth, to wit, that we must not only love our neighbours as ourselves,
but ourselves likewise as our neighbours; and that we can do neither
unless we love God above both.

Who lives, that's not
Depraved or depraves? Who dies, that bears
Not one spurn to the grave of their friends' gift?

Strange as the delusion may appear, yet it is most true, that three
years ago I did not know or believe that I had an enemy in the world:
and now even my strongest sensations of gratitude are mingled with
fear, and I reproach myself for being too often disposed to ask,--Have
I one friend?--During the many years which intervened between the
composition and the publication of the CHRISTABEL, it became almost as
well known among literary men as if it had been on common sale; the
same references were made to it, and the same liberties taken with it,
even to the very names of the imaginary persons in the poem. From
almost all of our most celebrated poets, and from some with whom I had
no personal acquaintance, I either received or heard of expressions of
admiration that, (I can truly say,) appeared to myself utterly
disproportionate to a work, that pretended to be nothing more than a
common Faery Tale. Many, who had allowed no merit to my other poems,
whether printed or manuscript, and who have frankly told me as much,
uniformly made an exception in favour of the CHRISTABEL and the poem
entitled LOVE. Year after year, and in societies of the most different
kinds, I had been entreated to recite it and the result was still the
same in all, and altogether different in this respect from the effect
produced by the occasional recitation of any other poems I had
composed.--This before the publication. And since then, with very few
exceptions, I have heard nothing but abuse, and this too in a spirit
of bitterness at least as disproportionate to the pretensions of the
poem, had it been the most pitiably below mediocrity, as the previous
eulogies, and far more inexplicable.--This may serve as a warning to
authors, that in their calculations on the probable reception of a
poem, they must subtract to a large amount from the panegyric, which
may have encouraged them to publish it, however unsuspicious and
however various the sources of this panegyric may have been. And,
first, allowances must be made for private enmity, of the very
existence of which they had perhaps entertained no suspicion--for
personal enmity behind the mask of anonymous criticism: secondly for
the necessity of a certain proportion of abuse and ridicule in a
Review, in order to make it saleable, in consequence of which, if they
have no friends behind the scenes, the chance must needs be against
them; but lastly and chiefly, for the excitement and temporary
sympathy of feeling, which the recitation of the poem by an admirer,
especially if he be at once a warm admirer and a man of acknowledged
celebrity, calls forth in the audience. For this is really a species
of animal magnetism, in which the enkindling reciter, by perpetual
comment of looks and tones, lends his own will and apprehensive
faculty to his auditors. They live for the time within the dilated
sphere of his intellectual being. It is equally possible, though not
equally common, that a reader left to himself should sink below the
poem, as that the poem left to itself should flag beneath the feelings
of the reader.--But, in my own instance, I had the additional
misfortune of having been gossiped about, as devoted to metaphysics,
and worse than all, to a system incomparably nearer to the visionary
flights of Plato, and even to the jargon of the Mystics, than to the
established tenets of Locke. Whatever therefore appeared with my name
was condemned beforehand, as predestined metaphysics. In a dramatic
poem, which had been submitted by me to a gentleman of great influence
in the theatrical world, occurred the following passage:--

"O we are querulous creatures! Little less
Than all things can suffice to make us happy:
And little more than nothing is enough
To make us wretched."

Aye, here now! (exclaimed the critic) here come Coleridge's
metaphysics! And the very same motive (that is, not that the lines
were unfit for the present state of our immense theatres; but that
they were metaphysics [87]) was assigned elsewhere for the rejection
of the two following passages. The first is spoken in answer to a
usurper, who had rested his plea on the circumstance, that he had been
chosen by the acclamations of the people.--

"What people? How convened? or, if convened,
Must not the magic power that charms together
Millions of men in council, needs have power
To win or wield them? Rather, O far rather
Shout forth thy titles to yon circling mountains,
And with a thousand-fold reverberation
Make the rocks flatter thee, and the volleying air,
Unbribed, shout back to thee, King Emerick!
By wholesome laws to embank the sovereign power,
To deepen by restraint, and by prevention
Of lawless will to amass and guide the flood
In its majestic channel, is man's task
And the true patriot's glory! In all else
Men safelier trust to Heaven, than to themselves
When least themselves: even in those whirling crowds
Where folly is contagious, and too oft
Even wise men leave their better sense at home,
To chide and wonder at them, when returned."

The second passage is in the mouth of an old and experienced courtier,
betrayed by the man in whom he had most trusted.

"And yet Sarolta, simple, inexperienced,
Could see him as he was, and often warned me.
Whence learned she this?--O she was innocent!
And to be innocent is Nature's wisdom!
The fledge-dove knows the prowlers of the air,
Feared soon as seen, and flutters back to shelter.
And the young steed recoils upon his haunches,
The never-yet-seen adder's hiss first heard.
O surer than suspicion's hundred eyes
Is that fine sense, which to the pure in heart,
By mere oppugnancy of their own goodness,
Reveals the approach of evil."

As therefore my character as a writer could not easily be more injured
by an overt act than it was already in consequence of the report, I
published a work, a large portion of which was professedly
metaphysical. A long delay occurred between its first annunciation and
its appearance; it was reviewed therefore by anticipation with a
malignity, so avowedly and exclusively personal, as is, I believe,
unprecedented even in the present contempt of all common humanity that
disgraces and endangers the liberty of the press. After its
appearance, the author of this lampoon undertook to review it in the
Edinburgh Review; and under the single condition, that he should have
written what he himself really thought, and have criticised the work
as he would have done had its author been indifferent to him, I should
have chosen that man myself, both from the vigour and the originality
of his mind, and from his particular acuteness in speculative
reasoning, before all others.--I remembered Catullus's lines.

Desine de quoquam quicquam bene velle mereri,
Aut aliquem fieri posse putare pium.
Omnia sunt ingrata: nihil fecisse benigne est:
Immo, etiam taedet, taedet obestque magis;
Ut mihi, quem nemo gravius nec acerbius urget,
Quam modo qui me unum atque unicum amicum habuit.

But I can truly say, that the grief with which I read this rhapsody of
predetermined insult, had the rhapsodist himself for its whole and
sole object.

* * * * * *

I refer to this review at present, in consequence of information
having been given me, that the inuendo of my "potential infidelity,"
grounded on one passage of my first Lay Sermon, has been received and
propagated with a degree of credence, of which I can safely acquit the
originator of the calumny. I give the sentences, as they stand in the
sermon, premising only that I was speaking exclusively of miracles
worked for the outward senses of men. "It was only to overthrow the
usurpation exercised in and through the senses, that the senses were
The natural sun is in this respect a symbol of the spiritual. Ere he
is fully arisen, and while his glories are still under veil, he calls
up the breeze to chase away the usurping vapours of the night-season,
and thus converts the air itself into the minister of its own
purification: not surely in proof or elucidation of the light from
heaven, but to prevent its interception."

"Wherever, therefore, similar circumstances co-exist with the same
moral causes, the principles revealed, and the examples recorded, in
the inspired writings, render miracles superfluous: and if we neglect
to apply truths in expectation of wonders, or under pretext of the
cessation of the latter, we tempt God, and merit the same reply which
our Lord gave to the Pharisees on a like occasion."

In the sermon and the notes both the historical truth and the
necessity of the miracles are strongly and frequently asserted. "The
testimony of books of history (that is, relatively to the signs and
wonders, with which Christ came) is one of the strong and stately
pillars of the church: but it is not the foundation!" Instead,
therefore, of defending myself, which I could easily effect by a
series of passages, expressing the same opinion, from the Fathers and
the most eminent Protestant Divines, from the Reformation to the
Revolution, I shall merely state what my belief is, concerning the
true evidences of Christianity. 1. Its consistency with right Reason,
I consider as the outer court of the temple--the common area, within
which it stands. 2. The miracles, with and through which the Religion
was first revealed and attested, I regard as the steps, the vestibule,
and the portal of the temple. 3. The sense, the inward feeling, in
the soul of each believer of its exceeding desirableness--the
experience, that he needs something, joined with the strong
foretokening, that the redemption and the graces propounded to us in
Christ are what he needs--this I hold to be the true foundation of the
spiritual edifice. With the strong a priori probability that flows in
from 1 and 3 on the correspondent historical evidence of 2, no man can
refuse or neglect to make the experiment without guilt. But, 4, it is
the experience derived from a practical conformity to the conditions
of the Gospel--it is the opening eye; the dawning light: the terrors
and the promises of spiritual growth; the blessedness of loving God as
God, the nascent sense of sin hated as sin, and of the incapability of
attaining to either without Christ; it is the sorrow that still rises
up from beneath and the consolation that meets it from above; the
bosom treacheries of the principal in the warfare and the exceeding
faithfulness and long-suffering of the uninteresting ally;--in a word,
it is the actual trial of the faith in Christ, with its accompaniments
and results, that must form the arched roof, and the faith itself is
the completing key-stone. In order to an efficient belief in
Christianity, a man must have been a Christian, and this is the
seeming argumentum in circulo, incident to all spiritual Truths, to
every subject not presentable under the forms of Time and Space, as
long as we attempt to master by the reflex acts of the Understanding
what we can only know by the act of becoming. Do the will of my
Father, and ye shall know whether I am of God. These four evidences I
believe to have been and still to be, for the world, for the whole
Church, all necessary, all equally necessary: but at present, and for
the majority of Christians born in Christian countries, I believe the
third and the fourth evidences to be the most operative, not as
superseding but as involving a glad undoubting faith in the two
former. Credidi, ideoque intellexi, appears to me the dictate equally
of Philosophy and Religion, even as I believe Redemption to be the
antecedent of Sanctification, and not its consequent. All spiritual
predicates may be construed indifferently as modes of Action or as
states of Being, Thus Holiness and Blessedness are the same idea, now
seen in relation to act and now to existence. The ready belief which
has been yielded to the slander of my "potential infidelity," I
attribute in part to the openness with which I have avowed my doubts,
whether the heavy interdict, under which the name of Benedict Spinoza
lies, is merited on the whole or to the whole extent. Be this as it
may, I wish, however, that I could find in the books of philosophy,
theoretical or moral, which are alone recommended to the present
students of theology in our established schools, a few passages as
thoroughly Pauline, as completely accordant with the doctrines of the
Established Church, as the following sentences in the concluding page
of Spinoza's Ethics. Deinde quo mens hoc amore divino, seu beatitudine
magis gaudet, eo plus intelligit, hoc est, eo majorem in affectus
habet potentiam, et eo minus ab affectibus, qui mali sunt, patitur;
atque adeo ex eo, quod mens hoc amore divino, seu beatitudine gaudet,
potestatem habet libidines coercendi; et quia humana potentia ad
coercendos affectus in solo intellectu consistit; ergo nemo
beatitudine gaudet, quia affectus coercuit, sed contra potestas
libidines coercendi ex ipsa beatitudine oritur.

With regard to the Unitarians, it has been shamelessly asserted, that
I have denied them to be Christians. God forbid! For how should I
know, what the piety of the heart may be, or what quantum of error in
the understanding may consist with a saving faith in the intentions
and actual dispositions of the whole moral being in any one
individual? Never will God reject a soul that sincerely loves him: be
his speculative opinions what they may: and whether in any given
instance certain opinions, be they unbelief, or misbelief, are
compatible with a sincere love of God, God can only know.--But this I
have said, and shall continue to say: that if the doctrines, the sum
of which I believe to constitute the truth in Christ, be Christianity,
then Unitarianism is not, and vice versa: and that, in speaking
theologically and impersonally, i.e. of Psilanthropism and
Theanthropism as schemes of belief, without reference to individuals,
who profess either the one or the other, it will be absurd to use a
different language as long as it is the dictate of common sense, that
two opposites cannot properly be called by the same name. I should
feel no offence if a Unitarian applied the same to me, any more than
if he were to say, that two and two being four, four and four must be

alla broton
ton men keneophrones auchai
ex agathon ebalon;
ton d' au katamemphthent' agan
ischun oikeion paresphalen kalon,
cheiros elkon opisso, thumos atolmos eon.

This has been my object, and this alone can be my defence--and O! that
with this my personal as well as my LITERARY LIFE might conclude!--the
unquenched desire I mean, not without the consciousness of having
earnestly endeavoured to kindle young minds, and to guard them against
the temptations of scorners, by showing that the scheme of
Christianity, as taught in the liturgy and homilies of our Church,
though not discoverable by human reason, is yet in accordance with it;
that link follows link by necessary consequence; that Religion passes
out of the ken of Reason only where the eye of Reason has reached its
own horizon; and that Faith is then but its continuation: even as the
day softens away into the sweet twilight, and twilight, hushed and
breathless, steals into the darkness. It is night, sacred night! the
upraised eye views only the starry heaven which manifests itself
alone: and the outward beholding is fixed on the sparks twinkling in
the awful depth, though suns of other worlds, only to preserve the
soul steady and collected in its pure act of inward adoration to the
great I AM, and to the filial WORD that re-affirmeth it from eternity
to eternity, whose choral echo is the universe.



[1] The authority of Milton and Shakespeare may be usefully pointed
out to young authors. In the Comus and other early poems of Milton
there is a superfluity of double epithets; while in the Paradise Lost
we find very few, in the Paradise Regained scarce any. The same remark
holds almost equally true of the Love's Labour Lost, Romeo and Juliet,
Venus and Adonis, and Lucrece, compared with the Lear, Macbeth,
Othello, and Hamlet of our great Dramatist. The rule for the admission
of double epithets seems to be this: either that they should be
already denizens of our language, such as blood-stained, terror-
stricken, self-applauding: or when a new epithet, or one found in
books only, is hazarded, that it, at least, be one word, not two words
made one by mere virtue of the printers hyphen. A language which, like
the English, is almost without cases, is indeed in its very genius
unfitted for compounds. If a writer, every time a compounded word
suggests itself to him, would seek for some other mode of expressing
the same sense, the chances are always greatly in favour of his
finding a better word. Ut tanquam scopulum sic fugias insolens verbum,
is the wise advice of Caesar to the Roman Orators, and the precept
applies with double force to the writers in our own language. But it
must not be forgotten, that the same Caesar wrote a Treatise for the
purpose of reforming the ordinary language by bringing it to a greater
accordance with the principles of logic or universal grammar.

[2] See the criticisms on the Ancient Mariner, in the Monthly and
Critical Reviews of the first volume of the Lyrical Ballads.

[3] This is worthy of ranking as a maxim, (regula maxima,) of
criticism. Whatever is translatable in other and simpler words of the
same language, without loss of sense or dignity, is bad. N.B.--By
dignity I mean the absence of ludicrous and debasing associations.

[4] The Christ's Hospital phrase, not for holidays altogether, but for
those on which the boys are permitted to go beyond the precincts of
the school.

[5] I remember a ludicrous instance in the poem of a young tradesman:

"No more will I endure love's pleasing pain,
Or round my heart's leg tie his galling chain."

[6] Cowper's Task was published some time before the Sonnets of Mr.
Bowles; but I was not familiar with it till many years afterwards. The
vein of satire which runs through that excellent poem, together with
the sombre hue of its religious opinions, would probably, at that
time, have prevented its laying any strong hold on my affections. The
love of nature seems to have led Thomson to a cheerful religion; and a
gloomy religion to have led Cowper to a love of nature. The one would
carry his fellow-men along with him into nature; the other flies to
nature from his fellow-men. In chastity of diction however, and the
harmony of blank verse, Cowper leaves Thomson immeasurably below him;
yet still I feel the latter to have been the born poet.


Pensive at eve, on the hard world I mused,
And m poor heart was sad; so at the Moon
I gazed and sighed, and sighed; for ah how soon
Eve saddens into night! mine eyes perused
With tearful vacancy the dampy grass
That wept and glitter'd in the paly ray
And I did pause me on my lonely way
And mused me on the wretched ones that pass
O'er the bleak heath of sorrow. But alas!
Most of myself I thought! when it befel,
That the soothe spirit of the breezy wood
Breath'd in mine ear: "All this is very well,
But much of one thing, is for no thing good."
Oh my poor heart's inexplicable swell!


Oh I do love thee, meek Simplicity!
For of thy lays the lulling simpleness
Goes to my heart, and soothes each small distress,
Distress the small, yet haply great to me.
'Tis true on Lady Fortune's gentlest pad
I amble on; and yet I know not why
So sad I am! but should a friend and I
Frown, pout and part, then I am very sad.
And then with sonnets and with sympathy
My dreamy bosom's mystic woes I pall:
Now of my false friend plaining plaintively,
Now raving at mankind in general;
But whether sad or fierce, 'tis simple all,
All very simple, meek Simplicity!


And this reft house is that, the which he built,
Lamented Jack! and here his malt he pil'd,
Cautious in vain! these rats, that squeak so wild,
Squeak not unconscious of their father's guilt.
Did he not see her gleaming thro' the glade!
Belike 'twas she, the maiden all forlorn.
What the she milk no cow with crumpled horn,
Yet, aye she haunts the dale where erst she stray'd:
And aye, beside her stalks her amorous knight
Still on his thighs their wonted brogues are worn,
And thro' those brogues, still tatter'd and betorn,
His hindward charms gleam an unearthly white.
Ah! thus thro' broken clouds at night's high noon
Peeps to fair fragments forth the full-orb'd harvest-moon!

The following anecdote will not be wholly out of place here, and may
perhaps amuse the reader. An amateur performer in verse expressed to a
common friend a strong desire to be introduced to me, but hesitated in
accepting my friend's immediate offer, on the score that "he was, he
must acknowledge, the author of a confounded severe epigram on my
Ancient Mariner, which had given me great pain." I assured my friend
that, if the epigram was a good one, it would only increase my desire
to become acquainted with the author, and begged to hear it recited:
when, to my no less surprise than amusement, it proved to be one which
I had myself some time before written and inserted in the "Morning
Post," to wit

To the Author of the Ancient Mariner.

Your poem must eternal be,
Dear sir! it cannot fail,
For 'tis incomprehensible,
And without head or tail.

[8] Of old things all are over old,
Of good things none are good enough;--
We'll show that we can help to frame
A world of other stuff.

I too will have my kings, that take
From me the sign of life and death:
Kingdoms shall shift about, like clouds,
Obedient to my breath.
Wordsworth's Rob Roy.--Poet. Works, vol. III. p. 127.

[9] Pope was under the common error of his age, an error far from
being sufficiently exploded even at the present day. It consists (as I
explained at large, and proved in detail in my public lectures,) in
mistaking for the essentials of the Greek stage certain rules, which
the wise poets imposed upon themselves, in order to render all the
remaining parts of the drama consistent with those, that had been
forced upon them by circumstances independent of their will; out of
which circumstances the drama itself arose. The circumstances in the
time of Shakespeare, which it was equally out of his power to alter,
were different, and such as, in my opinion, allowed a far wider
sphere, and a deeper and more human interest. Critics are too apt to
forget, that rules are but means to an end; consequently, where the
ends are different, the rules must be likewise so. We must have
ascertained what the end is, before we can determine what the rules
ought to be. Judging under this impression, I did not hestitate to
declare my full conviction, that the consummate judgment of
Shakespeare, not only in the general construction, but in all the
details, of his dramas, impressed me with greater wonder, than even
the might of his genius, or the depth of his philosophy. The substance
of these lectures I hope soon to publish; and it is but a debt of
justice to myself and my friends to notice, that the first course of
lectures, which differed from the following courses only, by
occasionally varying the illustrations of the same thoughts, was
addressed to very numerous, and I need not add, respectable audiences
at the Royal institution, before Mr. Schlegel gave his lectures on the
same subjects at Vienna.

[10] In the course of one of my Lectures, I had occasion to point out
the almost faultless position and choice of words, in Pope's original
compositions, particularly in his Satires and moral Essays, for the
purpose of comparing them with his translation of Homer, which, I do
not stand alone in regarding, as the main source of our pseudo-poetic
diction. And this, by the bye, is an additional confirmation of a
remark made, I believe, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, that next to the man
who forms and elevates the taste of the public, he that corrupts it,
is commonly the greatest genius. Among other passages, I analyzed
sentence by sentence, and almost word by word, the popular lines,

As when the moon, refulgent lamp of night, etc.
(Iliad. B. viii.)

much in the same way as has been since done, in an excellent article
on Chalmers's British Poets in the Quarterly Review. The impression on
the audience in general was sudden and evident: and a number of
enlightened and highly educated persons, who at different times
afterwards addressed me on the subject, expressed their wonder, that
truth so obvious should not have struck them before; but at the same
time acknowledged--(so much had they been accustomed, in reading
poetry, to receive pleasure from the separate images and phrases
successively, without asking themselves whether the collective meaning
was sense or nonsense)--that they might in all probability have read
the same passage again twenty times with undiminished admiration, and
without once reflecting, that

astra phaeinaen amphi selaenaen
phainet aritretea--

(that is, the stars around, or near the full moon, shine pre-eminently
bright) conveys a just and happy image of a moonlight sky: while it is
difficult to determine whether, in the lines,

Around her throne the vivid planets roll,
And stars unnumber'd gild the glowing pole,

the sense or the diction be the more absurd. My answer was; that,
though I had derived peculiar advantages from my school discipline,
and though my general theory of poetry was the same then as now, I had
yet experienced the same sensations myself, and felt almost as if I
bad been newly couched, when, by Mr. Wordsworth's conversation, I had
been induced to re-examine with impartial strictness Gray's celebrated
Elegy. I had long before detected the defects in The Bard; but the
Elegy I had considered as proof against all fair attacks; and to this
day I cannot read either without delight, and a portion of enthusiasm.
At all events, whatever pleasure I may have lost by the clearer
perception of the faults in certain passages, has been more than
repaid to me by the additional delight with which I read the

Another instance in confirmation of these remarks occurs to me in the
Faithful Shepherdess. Seward first traces Fletcher's lines;

More foul diseases than e'er yet the hot
Sun bred thro' his burnings, while the dog
Pursues the raging lion, throwing the fog
And deadly vapour from his angry breath,
Filling the lower world with plague and death,

to Spenser's Shepherd's Calendar,

The rampant lion hunts he fast
With dogs of noisome breath;
Whose baleful barking brings, in haste,
Pine, plagues, and dreary death!

He then takes occasion to introduce Homer's simile of the appearance
of Achilles' mail to Priam compared with the Dog Star; literally thus--

"For this indeed is most splendid, but it was made an evil sign, and
brings many a consuming disease to wretched mortals." Nothing can be
more simple as a description, or more accurate as a simile; which,
(says Seward,) is thus finely translated by Mr. Pope

Terrific Glory! for his burning breath
Taints the red air with fevers, plagues, and death!

Now here--(not to mention the tremendous bombast)--the Dog Star, so
called, is turned into a real dog, a very odd dog, a fire, fever,
plague, and death-breathing, red. air-tainting dog: and the whole
visual likeness is lost, while the likeness in the effects is rendered
absurd by the exaggeration. In Spenser and Fletcher the thought is
justifiable; for the images are at least consistent, and it was the
intention of the writers to mark the seasons by this allegory of
visualized puns.

[11] Especially in this age of personality, this age of literary and
political gossiping, when the meanest insects are worshipped with a
sort of Egyptian superstition, if only the brainless head be atoned
for by the sting of personal malignity in the tail;--when the most
vapid satires have become the objects of a keen public interest,
purely from the number of contemporary characters named in the patch-
work notes, (which possess, however, the comparative merit of being
more poetical than the text,) and because, to increase the stimulus,
the author has sagaciously left his own name for whispers and

[12] If it were worth while to mix together, as ingredients, half the
anecdotes which I either myself know to be true, or which I have
received from men incapable of intentional falsehood, concerning the
characters, qualifications, and motives of our anonymous critics,
whose decisions are oracles for our reading public; I might safely
borrow the words of the apocryphal Daniel; "Give me leave, O SOVEREIGN
PUBLIC, and I shall slay this dragon without sward or staff." For the
compound would be as the "pitch, and fat, and hair, which Daniel took,
and did seethe them together, and made lumps thereof; this he put in
the dragon's mouth, and so the dragon burst in sunder; and Daniel

[13] This is one instance among many of deception, by the telling the
half of a fact, and omitting the other half, when it is from their
mutual counteraction and neutralization, that the whole truth arises,
as a tertium aliquid different from either. Thus in Dryden's famous

Great wit (meaning genius) to madness sure is near allied.

Now if the profound sensibility, which is doubtless one of the
components of genius, were alone considered, single and unbalanced, it
might be fairly described as exposing the individual to a greater
chance of mental derangement; but then a more than usual rapidity of
association, a more than usual power of passing from thought to
thought, and image to image, is a component equally essential; and to
the due modification of each by the other the genius itself consists;
so that it would be just as fair to describe the earth, as in imminent
danger of exorbitating, or of falling into the sun, according as the
assertor of the absurdity confined his attention either to the
projectile or to the attractive force exclusively.

[14] For as to the devotees of the circulating libraries, I dare not
compliment their pass-time, or rather kill-time, with the name of
reading. Call it rather a sort of beggarly day-dreaming, during which
the mind of the dreamer furnishes for itself nothing but laziness, and
a little mawkish sensibility; while the whole materiel and imagery of
the doze is supplied ab extra by a sort of mental camera obscura
manufactured at the printing office, which pro tempore fixes,
reflects, and transmits the moving phantasms of one mans delirium, so
as to people the barrenness of a hundred other brains afflicted with
the same trance or suspension of all common sense and all definite
purpose. We should therefore transfer this species of amusement--(if
indeed those can be said to retire a musis, who were never in their
company, or relaxation be attributable to those, whose bows are never
bent)--from the genus, reading, to that comprebensive class
characterized by the power of reconciling the two contrary yet
coexisting propensities of human nature, namely, indulgence of sloth,
and hatred of vacancy. In addition to novels and tales of chivalry to
prose or rhyme, (by which last I mean neither rhythm nor metre) this
genus comprises as its species, gaming, swinging, or swaying on a
chair or gate; spitting over a bridge; smoking; snuff-taking; tete-a-
tete quarrels after dinner between husband and wife; conning word by
word all the advertisements of a daily newspaper in a public house on
a rainy day, etc. etc. etc.

[15] Ex. gr. Pediculos e capillis excerptos in arenam jacere
incontusos; eating of unripe fruit; gazing on the clouds, and (in
genere) on movable things suspended in the air; riding among a
multitude of camels; frequent laughter; listening to a series of jests
and humorous anecdotes,--as when (so to modernize the learned
Saracen's meaning) one man's droll story of an Irishman inevitably
occasions another's droll story of a Scotchman, which again, by the
same sort of conjunction disjunctive, leads to some etourderie of a
Welshman, and that again to some sly hit of a Yorkshireman;--the habit
of reading tomb-stones in church-yards, etc. By the bye, this
catalogue, strange as it may appear, is not insusceptible of a sound
psychological commentary.

[16] I have ventured to call it unique; not only because I know no
work of the kind in our language, (if we except a few chapters of the
old translation of Froissart)--none, which uniting the charms of
romance and history, keeps the imagination so constantly on the wing,
and yet leaves so much for after reflection; but likewise, and
chiefly, because it is a compilation, which, in the various
excellencies of translation, selection, and arrangement, required and
proves greater genius in the compiler, as living in the present state
of society, than in the original composers.

[17] It is not easy to estimate the effects which the example of a
young man as highly distinguished for strict purity of disposition and
conduct, as for intellectual power and literary acquirements, may
produce on those of the same age with himself, especially on those of
similar pursuits and congenial minds. For many years, my opportunities
of intercourse with Mr. Southey have been rare, and at long intervals;
but I dwell with unabated pleasure on the strong and sudden, yet I
trust not fleeting, influence, which my moral being underwent on my
acquaintance with him at Oxford, whither I had gone at the
commencement of our Cambridge vacation on a visit to an old school-
fellow. Not indeed on my moral or religious principles, for they had
never been contaminated; but in awakening the sense of the duty and
dignity of making my actions accord with those principles, both in
word and deed. The irregularities only not universal among the young
men of my standing, which I always knew to be wrong, I then learned to
feel as degrading; learned to know that an opposite conduct, which was
at that time considered by us as the easy virtue of cold and selfish
prudence, might originate in the noblest emotions, in views the most
disinterested and imaginative. It is not however from grateful
recollections only, that I have been impelled thus to leave these my
deliberate sentiments on record; but in some sense as a debt of
justice to the man, whose name has been so often connected with mine
for evil to which he is a stranger. As a specimen I subjoin part of a
note, from The Beauties of the Anti-jacobin, in which, having
previously informed the public that I had been dishonoured at
Cambridge for preaching Deism, at a time when, for my youthful ardour
in defence of Christianity, I was decried as a bigot by the proselytes
of French phi-(or to speak more truly psi-)-losophy, the writer
concludes with these words; "since this time he has left his native
country, commenced citizen of the world, left his poor children
fatherless, and his wife destitute. Ex his disce his friends, LAMB and
SOUTHEY." With severest truth it may be asserted, that it would not be
easy to select two men more exemplary in their domestic affections
than those whose names were thus printed at full length as in the same
rank of morals with a denounced infidel and fugitive, who had left his
children fatherless and his wife destitute! Is it surprising, that
many good men remained longer than perhaps they otherwise would have
done adverse to a party, which encouraged and openly rewarded the
authors of such atrocious calumnies? Qualis es, nescio; sed per quales
agis, scio et doleo.

[18] In opinions of long continuance, and in which we have never
before been molested by a single doubt, to be suddenly convinced of
an error, is almost like being convicted of a fault. There is a state
of mind, which is the direct antithesis of that, which takes place
when we make a bull. The bull namely consists in the bringing her
two incompatible thoughts, with the sensation, but without the sense,
of their connection. The psychological condition, or that which
constitutes the possibility, of this state, being such disproportionate
vividness of two distant thoughts, as extinguishes or obscures the
consciousness of the intermediate images or conceptions, or wholly
abstracts the attention from them. Thus in the well known bull, "I was
a fine child, but they changed me:" the first conception expressed in
the word "I," is that of personal identity--Ego contemplans: the second
expressed in the word "me," is the visual image or object by which the
mind represents to itself its past condition, or rather, its personal
identity under the form in which it imagined itself previously to have
existed,--Ego contemplatus. Now the change of one visual image for
another involves in itself no absurdity, and becomes absurd only by
its immediate juxta-position with the fast thought, which is rendered
possible by the whole attention being successively absorbed to each
singly, so as not to notice the interjacent notion, changed, which by
its incongruity, with the first thought, I, constitutes the bull. Add
only, that this process is facilitated by the circumstance of the words
I, and me, being sometimes equivalent, and sometimes having a distinct
meaning; sometimes, namely, signifying the act of self-consciousness,
sometimes the external image in and by which the mind represents that
act to itself, the result and symbol of its individuality. Now suppose
the direct contrary state, and you will have a distinct sense of the
connection between two conceptions, without that sensation of such
connection which is supplied by habit. The man feels as if he were
standing on his head though he cannot but see that he is truly
standing on his feet. This, as a painful sensation, will of course
have a tendency to associate itself with him who occasions it; even as
persons, who have been by painful means restored from derangement, are
known to feel an involuntary dislike towards their physician.

[19] Without however the apprehensions attributed to the Pagan
reformer of the poetic republic. If we may judge from the preface to
the recent collection of his poems, Mr. W. would have answered with

su d' ouk edeisas ton huophon ton rhaematon,
kai tas apeilas; XAN, ou ma Di', oud' ephrontisa.--Ranae, 492-3.

And here let me hint to the authors of the numerous parodies, and
pretended imitations of Mr. Wordsworth's style, that at once to
conceal and convey wit and wisdom in the semblance of folly and
dulness, as is done in the Clowns and Fools, nay even in the Dogberry,
of our Shakespeare, is doubtless a proof of genius, or at all events
of satiric talent; but that the attempt to ridicule a silly and
childish poem, by writing another still sillier and still more
childish, can only prove (if it prove any thing at all) that the
parodist is a still greater blockhead than the original writer, and,
what is far worse, a malignant coxcomb to boot. The talent for mimicry
seems strongest where the human race are most degraded. The poor,
naked half human savages of New Holland were found excellent mimics:
and, in civilized society, minds of the very lowest stamp alone
satirize by copying. At least the difference which must blend with and
balance the likeness, in order to constitute a just imitation,
existing here merely in caricature, detracts from the libeller's
heart, without adding an iota to the credit of his understanding.

[20] The Butterfly the ancient Grecians made
The soul's fair emblem, and its only name--
But of the soul, escaped the slavish trade
Of mortal life! For to this earthly frame
Ours is the reptile's lot, much toil, much blame,
Manifold motions making little speed,
And to deform and kill the things whereon we feed.

[21] Mr. Wordsworth, even in his two earliest poems, The Evening Walk
and the Descriptive Sketches, is more free from this latter defect
than most of the young poets his contemporaries. It may however be
exemplified, together with the harsh and obscure construction, in
which he more often offended, in the following lines:--

"'Mid stormy vapours ever driving by,
Where ospreys, cormorants, and herons cry;
Where hardly given the hopeless waste to cheer,
Denied the bread of life the foodful ear,
Dwindles the pear on autumn's latest spray,
And apple sickens pale in summer's ray;
Ev'n here content has fixed her smiling reign
With independence, child of high disdain."

I hope, I need not say, that I have quoted these lines for no other
purpose than to make my meaning fully understood. It is to be
regretted that Mr. Wordsworth has not republished these two poems

[22] This is effected either by giving to the one word a general, and
to the other an exclusive use; as "to put on the back" and "to
indorse;" or by an actual distinction of meanings, as "naturalist,"
and "physician;" or by difference of relation, as "I" and "Me" (each
of which the rustics of our different provinces still use in all the
cases singular of the first personal pronoun). Even the mere
difference, or corruption, in the pronunciation of the same word, if
it have become general, will produce a new word with a distinct
signification; thus "property" and "propriety;" the latter of which,
even to the time of Charles II was the written word for all the senses
of both. There is a sort of minim immortal among the animalcula
infusoria, which has not naturally either birth, or death, absolute
beginning, or absolute end: for at a certain period a small point
appears on its back, which deepens and lengthens till the creature
divides into two, and the same process recommences in each of the
halves now become integral. This may be a fanciful, but it is by no
means a bad emblem of the formation of words, and may facilitate the
conception, how immense a nomenclature may be organized from a few
simple sounds by rational beings in a social state. For each new
application, or excitement of the same sound, will call forth a
different sensation, which cannot but affect the pronunciation. The
after recollections of the sound, without the same vivid sensation,
will modify it still further till at length all trace of the original
likeness is worn away.

[23] I ought to have added, with the exception of a single sheet which
I accidentally met with at the printer's. Even from this scanty
specimen, I found it impossible to doubt the talent, or not to admire
the ingenuity, of the author. That his distinctions were for the
greater part unsatisfactory to my mind, proves nothing against their
accuracy; but it may possibly be serviceable to him, in case of a
second edition, if I take this opportunity of suggesting the query;
whether he may not have been occasionally misled, by having assumed,
as to me he appears to have done, the non-existence of any absolute
synonymes in our language? Now I cannot but think, that there are many
which remain for our posterity to distinguish and appropriate, and
which I regard as so much reversionary wealth in our mother tongue.
When two distinct meanings are confounded under one or more words,--
(and such must be the case, as sure as our knowledge is progressive
and of course imperfect)--erroneous consequences will be drawn, and
what is true in one sense of the word will be affirmed as true in
toto. Men of research, startled by the consequences, seek in the
things themselves--(whether in or out of the mind)--for a knowledge of
the fact, and having discovered the difference, remove the
equivocation either by the substitution of a new word, or by the
appropriation of one of the two or more words, which had before been
used promiscuously. When this distinction has been so naturalized and
of such general currency that the language does as it were think for
us--(like the sliding rule which is the mechanic's safe substitute for
arithmetical knowledge)--we then say, that it is evident to common
sense. Common sense, therefore, differs in different ages. What was
born and christened in the Schools passes by degrees into the world at
large, and becomes the property of the market and the tea-table. At
least I can discover no other meaning of the term, common sense, if it
is to convey any specific difference from sense and judgment in
genere, and where it is not used scholastically for the universal
reason. Thus in the reign of Charles II the philosophic world was
called to arms by the moral sophisms of Hobbes, and the ablest writers
exerted themselves in the detection of an error, which a school-boy
would now be able to confute by the mere recollection, that compulsion
and obligation conveyed two ideas perfectly disparate, and that what
appertained to the one, had been falsely transferred to the other by a
mere confusion of terms.

[24] I here use the word idea in Mr. Hume's sense on account of its
general currency amongst the English metaphysicians; though against my
own judgment, for I believe that the vague use of this word has been
the cause of much error and more confusion. The word, idea, in its
original sense as used by Pindar, Aristophanes, and in the Gospel of
St. Matthew, represented the visual abstraction of a distant object,
when we see the whole without distinguishing its parts. Plato adopted
it as a technical term, and as the antithesis to eidolon, or sensuous
image; the transient and perishable emblem, or mental word, of the
idea. Ideas themselves he considered as mysterious powers, living,
seminal, formative, and exempt from time. In this sense the word Idea
became the property of the Platonic school; and it seldom occurs in
Aristotle, without some such phrase annexed to it, as according to
Plato, or as Plato says. Our English writers to the end of the reign
of Charles II or somewhat later, employed it either in the original
sense, or Platonically, or in a sense nearly correspondent to our
present use of the substantive, Ideal; always however opposing it,
more or less to image, whether of present or absent objects. The
reader will not be displeased with the following interesting
exemplification from Bishop Jeremy Taylor. "St. Lewis the King sent
Ivo Bishop of Chartres on an embassy, and he told, that he met a grave
and stately matron on the way with a censer of fire in one band, and a
vessel of water in the other; and observing her to have a melancholy,
religious, and phantastic deportment and look, he asked her what those
symbols meant, and what she meant to do with her fire and water; she
answered, My purpose is with the fire to burn paradise, and with my
water to quench the flames of hell, that men may serve God purely for
the love of God. But we rarely meet with such spirits which love
virtue so metaphysically as to abstract her from all sensible
compositions, and love the purity of the idea." Des Cartes having
introduced into his philosophy the fanciful hypothesis of material
ideas, or certain configurations of the brain, which were as so many
moulds to the influxes of the external world,--Locke adopted the term,
but extended its signification to whatever is the immediate object of
the mind's attention or consciousness. Hume, distinguishing those
representations which are accompanied with a sense of a present object
from those reproduced by the mind itself, designated the former by
impressions, and confined the word idea to the latter.

[25] I am aware, that this word occurs neither in Johnson's Dictionary
nor in any classical writer. But the word, to intend, which Newton and
others before him employ in this sense, is now so completely
appropriated to another meaning, that I could not use it without
ambiguity: while to paraphrase the sense, as by render intense, would
often break up the sentence and destroy that harmony of the position
of the words with the logical position of the thoughts, which is a
beauty in all composition, and more especially desirable in a close
philosophical investigation. I have therefore hazarded the word,
intensify: though, I confess, it sounds uncouth to my own ear.

[26] And Coxcombs vanquish Berkeley by a grin.

[27] Videlicet; Quantity, Quality, Relation, and Mode, each consisting
of three subdivisions. See Kritik der reinen Vernunft. See too the
judicious remarks on Locke and Hume.

[28] St. Luke x. 21.

[29] An American Indian with little variety of images, and a still
scantier stock of language, is obliged to turn his few words to many
purposes, by likenesses so clear and analogies so remote as to give
his language the semblance and character of lyric poetry interspersed
with grotesques. Something not unlike this was the case of such men as
Behmen and Fox with regard to the Bible. It was their sole armoury of
expressions, their only organ of thought.

[30] The following burlesque on the Fichtean Egoisnsus may, perhaps,
be amusing to the few who have studied the system, and to those who
are unacquainted with it, may convey as tolerable a likeness of
Fichte's idealism as can be expected from an avowed caricature.

The Categorical Imperative, or the annunciation of the new Teutonic
Grammarian, and Subrector in Gymmasic.

Eu! Dei vices gerens, ipse Divus,
(Speak English, Friend!) the God Imperativus,
Here on this market-cross aloud I cry:
I, I, I! I itself I!
The form and the substance, the what and the why,
The when and the where, and the low and the high,
The inside and outside, the earth and the sky,
I, you and he, and he, you and I,
All souls and all bodies are I itself I!
All I itself I!
(Fools! a truce with this starting!)
All my I! all my I!
He's a heretic dog who but adds Betty Martin!
Thus cried the God with high imperial tone;
In robe of stiffest state, that scoffed at beauty,
A pronoun-verb imperative he shone--
Then substantive and plural-singular grown
He thus spake on! Behold in I alone
(For ethics boast a syntax of their own)
Or if in ye, yet as I doth depute ye,
In O! I, you, the vocative of duty!
I of the world's whole Lexicon the root!
Of the whole universe of touch, sound, sight
The genitive and ablative to boot:
The accusative of wrong, the nominative of right,
And in all cases the case absolute!
Self-construed, I all other moods decline:
Imperative, from nothing we derive us;
Yet as a super-postulate of mine,
Unconstrued antecedence I assign
To X, Y, Z, the God Infinitivus!

[31] It would be an act of high and almost criminal injustice to pass
over in silence the name of Mr. Richard Saumarez, a gentleman equally
well known as a medical man and as a philanthropist, but who demands
notice on the present occasion as the author of "A new System of
Physiology" in two volumes octavo, published 1797; and in 1812 of "An
Examination of the natural and artificial Systems of Philosophy which
now prevail" in one volume octavo, entitled, "The Principles of
physiological and physical Science." The latter work is not quite
equal to the former in style or arrangement; and there is a greater
necessity of distinguishing the principles of the author's philosophy
from his conjectures concerning colour, the atmospheric matter,
comets, etc. which, whether just or erroneous, are by no means
necessary consequences of that philosophy. Yet even in this department
of this volume, which I regard as comparatively the inferior work, the
reasonings by which Mr. Saumarez invalidates the immanence of an
infinite power in any finite substance are the offspring of no common
mind; and the experiment on the expansibility of the air is at least
plausible and highly ingenious. But the merit, which will secure both
to the book and to the writer a high and honourable name with
posterity, consists in the masterly force of reasoning, and the
copiousness of induction, with which he has assailed, and (in my
opinion) subverted the tyranny of the mechanic system in physiology;
established not only the existence of final causes, but their
necessity and efficiency to every system that merits the name of
philosophical; and, substituting life and progressive power for the
contradictory inert force, has a right to be known and remembered as
the first instaurator of the dynamic philosophy in England. The
author's views, as far as concerns himself, are unborrowed and
completely his own, as he neither possessed nor do his writings
discover, the least acquaintance with the works of Kant, in which the
germs of the philosophy exist: and his volumes were published many
years before the full development of these germs by Schelling. Mr.
Saumarez's detection of the Braunonian system was no light or ordinary
service at the time; and I scarcely remember in any work on any
subject a confutation so thoroughly satisfactory. It is sufficient at
this time to have stated the fact; as in the preface to the work,
which I have already announced on the Logos, I have exhibited in
detail the merits of this writer, and genuine philosopher, who needed
only have taken his foundation somewhat deeper and wider to have
superseded a considerable part of my labours.

[32] But for sundry notes on Shakespeare, and other pieces which have
fallen in my way, I should have deemed it unnecessary to observe; that
discourse here, or elsewhere does not mean what we now call
discoursing; but the discursion of the mind, the processes of
generalization and subsumption, of deduction and conclusion. Thus,
Philosophy has hitherto been discursive; while Geometry is always and
essentially intuitive.

[33] Revelation xx. 3.

[34] See Laing's History of Scotland.--Walter Scott's bards, ballads,

[35] Thus organization, and motion are regarded as from God, not in

[36] Job, chap. xxviii.

[37] Wherever A=B, and A is not=B, are equally demonstrable, the
premise in each undeniable, the induction evident, and the conclusion
legitimate--the result must be, either that contraries can both be
true, (which is absurd,) or that the faculty and forms of reasoning
employed are inapplicable to the subject--i.e. that there is a
metabasis eis allo genos. Thus, the attributes of Space and time
applied to Spirit are heterogeneous--and the proof of this is, that by
admitting them explicite or implicite contraries may be demonstrated
true--i.e. that the same, taken in the same sense, is true and not
true.--That the world had a beginning in Time and a bound in Space;
and That the world had not a beginning and has no limit;--That a self
originating act is, and is not possible, are instances.

[38] To those, who design to acquire the language of a country in the
country itself, it may be useful, if I mention the incalculable
advantage which I derived from learning all the words, that could
possibly be so learned, with the objects before me, and without the
intermediation of the English terms. It was a regular part of my
morning studies for the first six weeks of my residence at Ratzeburg,
to accompany the good and kind old pastor, with whom I lived, from the
cellar to the roof, through gardens, farmyard, etc. and to call every,
the minutest, thing by its German name. Advertisements, farces, jest
books, and the conversation of children while I was at play with them,
contributed their share to a more home-like acquaintance with the
language than I could have acquired from works of polite literature
alone, or even from polite society. There is a passage of hearty sound
sense in Luther's German Letter on interpretation, to the translation
of which I shall prefix, for the sake of those who read the German,
yet are not likely to have dipped often in the massive folios of this
heroic reformer, the simple, sinewy, idiomatic words of the original.
"Denn man muss nicht die Buchstaben in der Lateinischen Sprache fragen
wie man soll Deutsch reden: sondern man muss die Mutter in Hause, die
Kinder auf den Gassen, den gemeinen Mann auf dem Markte, darum fragen:
und denselbigen auf das Maul sehen wie sie reden, und darnach
dolmetschen. So verstehen sie es denn, und merken dass man Deutsch mit
ihnen redet."


For one must not ask the letters in the Latin tongue, how one ought to
speak German; but one must ask the mother in the house, the children
in the lanes and alleys, the common man in the market, concerning
this; yea, and look at the moves of their mouths while they are
talking, and thereafter interpret. They understand you then, and mark
that one talks German with them.

[39] This paraphrase, written about the time of Charlemagne, is by no
means deficient in occasional passages of considerable poetic merit.
There is a flow, and a tender enthusiasm in the following lines (at
the conclusion of Chapter XI.) which, even in the translation will
not, I flatter myself, fail to interest the reader. Ottfried is
describing the circumstances immediately following the birth of our

She gave with joy her virgin breast;
She hid it not, she bared the breast,
Which suckled that divinest babe!
Blessed, blessed were the breasts
Which the Saviour infant kiss'd;
And blessed, blessed was the mother
Who wrapp'd his limbs in swaddling clothes,
Singing placed him on her lap,
Hung o'er him with her looks of love,
And sooth'd him with a lulling motion.
Blessed; for she shelter'd him
From the damp and chilling air;
Blessed, blessed! for she lay
With such a babe in one blest bed,
Close as babes and mothers lie!
Blessed, blessed evermore,
With her virgin lips she kiss'd,
With her arms, and to her breast
She embraced the babe divine,
Her babe divine the virgin mother!
There lives not on this ring of earth
A mortal, that can sing her praise.
Mighty mother, virgin pure,
In the darkness and the night
For us she bore the heavenly Lord!

Most interesting is it to consider the effect, when the feelings are
wrought above the natural pitch by the belief of something mysterious,
while all the images are purely natural. Then it is, that religion and
poetry strike deepest.

[40] Lord Grenville has lately re-asserted (in the House of Lords) the
imminent danger of a revolution in the earlier part of the war against
France. I doubt not, that his Lordship is sincere; and it must be
flattering to his feelings to believe it. But where are the evidences
of the danger, to which a future historian can appeal? Or must he rest
on an assertion? Let me be permitted to extract a passage on the
subject from The Friend. "I have said that to withstand the arguments
of the lawless, the anti-Jacobins proposed to suspend the law, and by
the interposition of a particular statute to eclipse the blessed light
of the universal sun, that spies and informers might tyrannize and
escape in the ominous darkness. Oh! if these mistaken men, intoxicated
with alarm and bewildered by that panic of property, which they
themselves were the chief agents in exciting, had ever lived in a
country where there really existed a general disposition to change and
rebellion! Had they ever travelled through Sicily; or through France
at the first coming on of the revolution; or even alas! through too
many of the provinces of a sister island; they could not but have
shrunk from their own declarations concerning the state of feeling and
opinion at that time predominant throughout Great Britain. There was a
time--(Heaven grant that that time may have passed by!)--when by
crossing a narrow strait, they might have learned the true symptoms of
approaching danger, and have secured themselves from mistaking the
meetings and idle rant of such sedition, as shrank appalled from the
sight of a constable, for the dire murmuring and strange consternation
which precedes the storm or earthquake of national discord. Not only
in coffee-houses and public theatres, but even at the tables of the
wealthy, they would have heard the advocates of existing Government
defend their cause in the language and with the tone of men, who are
conscious that they are in a minority. But in England, when the alarm
was at its highest, there was not a city, no, not a town or village,
in which a man suspected of holding democratic principles could move
abroad without receiving some unpleasant proof of the hatred in which
his supposed opinions were held by the great majority of the people;
and the only instances of popular excess and indignation were on the
side of the government and the established church. But why need I
appeal to these invidious facts? Turn over the pages of history and
seek for a single instance of a revolution having been effected
without the concurrence of either the nobles, or the ecclesiastics, or
the monied classes, in any country, in which the influences of
property had ever been predominant, and where the interests of the
proprietors were interlinked! Examine the revolution of the Belgic
provinces under Philip II; the civil wars of France in the preceding
generation; the history of the American revolution, or the yet more
recent events in Sweden and in Spain; and it will be scarcely possible
not to perceive that in England from 1791 to the peace of Amiens there
were neither tendencies to confederacy nor actual confederacies,
against which the existing laws had not provided both sufficient
safeguards and an ample punishment. But alas! the panic of property
had been struck in the first instance for party purposes; and when it
became general, its propagators caught it themselves and ended in
believing their own lie; even as our bulls to Borrowdale sometimes run
mad with the echo of their own bellowing. The consequences were most
injurious. Our attention was concentrated on a monster, which could
not survive the convulsions, in which it had been brought forth,--even
the enlightened Burke himself too often talking and reasoning, as if a
perpetual and organized anarchy had been a possible thing! Thus while
we were warring against French doctrines, we took little heed whether
the means by which we attempted to overthrow them, were not likely to
aid and augment the far more formidable evil of French ambition. Like
children we ran away from the yelping of a cur, and took shelter at
the heels of a vicious war horse." (Vol. II. Essay i. p. 21, 4th edit.)

[41] I seldom think of the murder of this illustrious Prince without
recollecting the lines of Valerius Flaccus:

------super ipsius ingens
Instat fama viri, virtusque haud laeta tyranno;
Ergo anteire metus, juvenemque exstinguere pergit.
Argonaut, I. 29.

[42] Theara de kai ton chaena kai taen dorkada,
Kai ton lagoon, kai to ton tauron genos.
Manuel Phile, De Animal. Proprietat. sect. I. i. 12.

[43] Paradise Regained. Book IV. I. 261.

[44] Vita e Costumi di Dante.


"With the greatest possible solicitude avoid authorship. Too early or
immoderately employed, it makes the head waste and the heart empty;
even were there no other worse consequences. A person, who reads only
to print, to all probability reads amiss; and he, who sends away
through the pen and the press every thought, the moment it occurs to
him, will in a short time have sent all away, and will become a mere
journeyman of the printing-office, a compositor."

To which I may add from myself, that what medical physiologists affirm
of certain secretions applies equally to our thoughts; they. too must
be taken up again into the circulation, and be again and again re-
secreted to order to ensure a healthful vigour, both to the mind and
to its intellectual offspring.

[46] This distinction between transcendental and transcendent is
observed by our elder divines and philosophers, whenever they express
themselves scholastically. Dr. Johnson indeed has confounded the two
words; but his own authorities do not bear him out. Of this celebrated
dictionary I will venture to remark once for all, that I should
suspect the man of a morose disposition who should speak of it without
respect and gratitude as a most instructive and entertaining book, and
hitherto, unfortunately, an indispensable book; but I confess, that I
should be surprised at hearing from a philosophic and thorough scholar
any but very qualified praises of it, as a dictionary. I am not now
alluding to the number of genuine words omitted; for this is (and
perhaps to a greater extent) true, as Mr. Wakefield has noticed, of
our best Greek Lexicons, and this too after the successive labours of
so many giants in learning. I refer at present both to omissions and
commissions of a more important nature. What these are, me saltem
judice, will be stated at full in The Friend, re-published and

I had never heard of the correspondence between Wakefield and Fox till
I saw the account of it this morning (16th September 1815) in the
Monthly Review. I was not a little gratified at finding, that Mr.
Wakefield had proposed to himself nearly the same plan for a Greek and
English Dictionary, which I had formed, and began to execute, now ten
years ago. But far, far more grieved am I, that he did not live to
complete it. I cannot but think it a subject of most serious regret,
that the same heavy expenditure, which is now employing in the
republication of STEPHANUS augmented, had not been applied to a new
Lexicon on a more philosophical plan, with the English, German, and
French synonymes as well as the Latin. In almost every instance the
precise individual meaning might be given in an English or German
word; whereas in Latin we must too often be contented with a mere
general and inclusive term. How indeed can it be otherwise, when we
attempt to render the most copious language of the world, the most
admirable for the fineness of its distinctions, into one of the
poorest and most vague languages? Especially when we reflect on the
comparative number of the works, still extant, written while the Greek
and Latin were living languages. Were I asked what I deemed the
greatest and most unmixed benefit, which a wealthy individual, or an
association of wealthy individuals could bestow on their country and
on mankind, I should not hesitate to answer, "a philosophical English
dictionary; with the Greek, Latin, German, French, Spanish, and
Italian synonymes, and with correspondent indexes." That the learned
languages might thereby be acquired, better, in half the time, is but
a part, and not the most important part, of the advantages which would
accrue from such a work. O! if it should be permitted by Providence,
that without detriment to freedom and independence our government
might be enabled to become more than a committee for war and revenue!
There was a time, when every thing was to be done by Government. Have
we not flown off to the contrary extreme?

[47] April, 1825. If I did not see it with my own eyes, I should not
believe that I had been guilty of so many hydrostatic Bulls as bellow
in this unhappy allegory or string of metaphors! How a river was to
travel up hill from a vale far inward, over the intervening mountains,
Morpheus, the Dream weaver, can alone unriddle. I am ashamed and
humbled. S. T. Coleridge.

[48] Ennead, III. 8. 3. The force of the Greek sunienai is imperfectly
expressed by "understand;" our own idiomatic phrase "to go along with
me" comes nearest to it. The passage, that follows, full of profound
sense, appears to me evidently corrupt; and in fact no writer more
wants, better deserves, or is less likely to obtain, a new and more
correct edition-ti oun sunienai; oti to genomenon esti theama emon,
siopaesis (mallem, theama, emon sioposaes,) kai physei genomenon
theoraema, kai moi genomenae ek theorias taes odi, taen physin echein
philotheamona uparkei. (mallem, kai moi hae genomenae ek theorias
autaes odis). "What then are we to understand? That whatever is
produced is an intuition, I silent; and that, which is thus generated,
is by its nature a theorem, or form of contemplation; and the birth;
which results to me from this contemplation, attains to have a
contemplative nature." So Synesius:

'Odis hiera
'Arraeta gona

The after comparison of the process of the natura naturans with that
of the geometrician is drawn from the very heart of philosophy.

[49] This is happily effected in three lines by Synesius, in his THIRD

'En kai Pan'ta--(taken by itself) is Spinozism.
'En d' 'Apan'ton--a mere Anima Mundi.
'En te pro panton--is mechanical Theism.

But unite all three, and the result is the Theism of Saint Paul and
Christianity. Synesius was censured for his doctrine of the pre-
existence of the soul; but never, that I can find, arraigned or deemed
heretical for his Pantheism, though neither Giordano Bruno, nor Jacob
Behmen ever avowed it more broadly.

Mystas de Noos,
Ta te kai ta legei,
Buthon arraeton
Su to tikton ephus,
Su to tiktomenon;
Su to photizon,
Su to lampomenon;
Su to phainomenon,
Su to kryptomenon
Idiais augais.
'En kai panta,
'En kath' heauto,
Kai dia panton.

Pantheism is therefore not necessarily irreligious or heretical;
though it may be taught atheistically. Thus Spinoza would agree with
Synesius in calling God Physis en Noerois, the Nature in
Intelligences; but he could not subscribe to the preceding Nous kai
noeros, i.e. Himself Intelligence and intelligent.

In this biographical sketch of my literary life I may be excused, if I
mention here, that I had translated the eight Hymns of Synesius from
the Greek into English Anacreontics before my fifteenth year.

[50] See Schell. Abhandl. zur Erlaeuter. des Id. der

[51] Des Cartes, Diss. de Methodo.

[52] The impossibility of an absolute thing (substantia unica) as
neither genus, species, nor individuum: as well as its utter unfitness
for the fundamental position of a philosophic system, will be
demonstrated in the critique on Spinozism in the fifth treatise of my

[53] It is most worthy of notice, that in the first revelation of
himself, not confined to individuals; indeed in the very first
revelation of his absolute being, Jehovah at the same time revealed
the fundamental truth of all philosophy, which must either commence
with the absolute, or have no fixed commencement; that is, cease to be
philosophy. I cannot but express my regret, that in the equivocal use
of the word that, for in that, or because, our admirable version has
rendered the passage susceptible of a degraded interpretation in the
mind of common readers or hearers, as if it were a mere reproof to an
impertinent question, I am what I am, which might be equally affirmed
of himself by any existent being.

The Cartesian Cogito ergo sum is objectionable, because either the
Cogito is used extra gradum, and then it is involved to the sum and is
tautological; or it is taken as a particular mode or dignity, and then
it is subordinated to the sum as the species to the genus, or rather
as a particular modification to the subject modified; and not pre-
ordinated as the arguments seem to require. For Cogito is Sum
Cogitans. This is clear by the inevidence of the converse. Cogitat,
ergo est is true, because it is a mere application of the logical
rule: Quicquid in genere est, est et in specie. Est (cogitans), ergo
est. It is a cherry tree; therefore it is a tree. But, est ergo
cogitat, is illogical: for quod est in specie, non NBCESSARIO in
genere est. It may be true. I hold it to be true, that quicquid vere
est, est per veram sui affirmationem; but it is a derivative, not an
immediate truth. Here then we have, by anticipation, the distinction
between the conditional finite! (which, as known in distinct
consciousness by occasion of experience, is called by Kant's followers
the empirical!) and the absolute I AM, and likewise the dependence or
rather the inherence of the former in the latter; in whom "we live,
and move, and have our being," as St. Paul divinely asserts, differing
widely from the Theists of the mechanic school (as Sir J. Newton,
Locke, and others) who must say from whom we had our being, and with
it life and the powers of life.


"Hence it is clear, from what cause many reject the notion of the
continuous and the infinite. They take, namely, the words
irrepresentable and impossible in one and the same meaning; and,
according to the forms of sensuous evidence, the notion of the
continuous and the infinite is doubtless impossible. I am not now
pleading the cause of these laws, which not a few schools have thought
proper to explode, especially the former (the law of continuity). But
it is of the highest importance to admonish the reader, that those,
who adopt so perverted a mode of reasoning, are under a grievous
error. Whatever opposes the formal principles of the understanding and
the reason is confessedly impossible; but not therefore that, which is
therefore not amenable to the forms of sensuous evidence, because it
is exclusively an object of pure intellect. For this non-coincidence
of the sensuous and the intellectual (the nature of which I shall
presently lay open) proves nothing more, but that the mind cannot
always adequately represent to the concrete, and transform into
distinct images, abstract notions derived from the pure intellect. But
this contradiction, which is in itself merely subjective (i.e. an
incapacity in the nature of man), too often passes for an incongruity
or impossibility in the object (i.e. the notions themselves), and
seduces the incautious to mistake the limitations of the human
faculties for the limits of things, as they really exist."

I take this occasion to observe, that here and elsewhere Kant uses the
term intuition, and the verb active (intueri Germanice anschauen) for
which we have unfortunately no correspondent word, exclusively for
that which can be represented in space and time. He therefore
consistently and rightly denies the possibility of intellectual
intuitions. But as I see no adequate reason for this exclusive sense
of the term, I have reverted to its wider signification, authorized by
our elder theologians and metaphysicians, according to whom the term
comprehends all truths known to us without a medium.

From Kant's Treatise De mundi sensibilis et intelligibilis forma et
principiis. 1770.

[55] Franc. Baconis de Verulam, NOVUM ORGANUM.

[56] This phrase, a priori, is in common, most grossly misunderstood,
and as absurdity burdened on it, which it does not deserve. By
knowledge a priori, we do not mean, that we can know anything
previously to experience, which would be a contradiction in terms; but
that having once known it by occasion of experience (that is,
something acting upon us from without) we then know, that it must have
existed, or the experience itself would have been impossible. By
experience only now, that I have eyes; but then my reason convinces
me, that I must have had eyes in order to the experience.

[57] Jer. Taylor's Via Pacis.

[58] Par. Lost. Book V. I. 469.

[59] Leibnitz. Op. T. II. P. II. p. 53.--T. III. p. 321.

[60] Synesii Episcop. Hymn. III. I. 231

[61] 'Anaer morionous, a phrase which I have borrowed from a Greek
monk, who applies it to a Patriarch of Constantinople. I might have
said, that I have reclaimed, rather than borrowed, it: for it seems to
belong to Shakespeare, de jure singulari, et ex privilegio naturae.

[62] First published in 1803.

[63] These thoughts were suggested to me during the perusal of the
Madrigals of Giovambatista Strozzi published in Florence in May, 1593,
by his sons Lorenzo and Filippo Strozzi, with a dedication to their
paternal uncle, Signor Leone Strozzi, Generale delle battaglie di
Santa Chiesa. As I do not remember to have seen either the poems or
their author mentioned in any English work, or to have found them in
any of the common collections of Italian poetry; and as the little
work is of rare occurrence; I will transcribe a few specimens. I have
seldom met with compositions that possessed, to my feelings, more of
that satisfying entireness, that complete adequateness of the manner
to the matter which so charms us in Anacreon, joined with the
tenderness, and more than the delicacy of Catullus. Trifles as they
are, they were probably elaborated with great care; yet to the perusal
we refer them to a spontaneous energy rather than to voluntary effort.
To a cultivated taste there is a delight in perfection for its own
sake, independently of the material in which it is manifested, that
none but a cultivated taste can understand or appreciate.

After what I have advanced, it would appear presumption to offer a
translation; even if the attempt were not discouraged by the different
genius of the English mind and language, which demands a denser body
of thought as the condition of a high polish, than the Italian. I
cannot but deem it likewise an advantage in the Italian tongue, in
many other respects inferior to our own, that the language of poetry
is more distinct from that of prose than with us. From the earlier
appearance and established primacy of the Tuscan. poets, concurring
with the number of independent states, and the diversity of written
dialects, the Italians have gained a poetic idiom, as the Greeks
before them had obtained from the same causes with greater and more
various discriminations, for example, the Ionic for their heroic
verses; the Attic for their iambic; and the two modes of the Doric for
the lyric or sacerdotal, and the pastoral, the distinctions of which
were doubtless more obvious to the Greeks themselves than they are to

I will venture to add one other observation before I proceed to the
transcription. I am aware that the sentiments which I have avowed
concerning the points of difference between the poetry of the present
age, and that of the period between 1500 and 1650, are the reverse of
the opinion commonly entertained. I was conversing on this subject
with a friend, when the servant, a worthy and sensible woman, coming
in, I placed before her two engravings, the one a pinky-coloured plate
of the day, the other a masterly etching by Salvator Rosa from one of
his own pictures. On pressing her to tell us, which she preferred,
after a little blushing and flutter of feeling, she replied "Why,
that, Sir, to be sure! (pointing to the ware from the Fleet-street
print shops);--it's so neat and elegant. T'other is such a scratchy
slovenly thing." An artist, whose writings are scarcely less valuable
than his pictures, and to whose authority more deference will be
willingly paid, than I could even wish should be shown to mine, has
told us, and from his own experience too, that good taste must be
acquired, and like all other good things, is the result of thought and
the submissive study of the best models. If it be asked, "But what
shall I deem such?"--the answer is; presume those to be the best, the
reputation of which has been matured into fame by the consent of ages.
For wisdom always has a final majority, if not by conviction, yet by
acquiescence. In addition to Sir J. Reynolds I may mention Harris of
Salisbury; who in one of his philosophical disquisitions has written
on the means of acquiring a just taste with the precision of
Aristotle, and the elegance of Quinctilian.


Gelido suo ruscel chiaro, e tranquillo
M'insegno Amor di state a mezzo'l giorno;
Ardean le solve, ardean le piagge, e i colli.
Ond' io, ch' al piu gran gielo ardo e sfavillo,
Subito corsi; ma si puro adorno
Girsene il vidi, che turbar no'l volli:
Sol mi specchiava, e'n dolce ombrosa sponda
Mi stava intento al mormorar dell' onda.

Aure dell' angoscioso viver mio
Refrigerio soave,
E dolce si, che piu non mi par grave
Ne'l ardor, ne'l morir, anz' il desio;
Deh voil ghiaccio, e le nubi, e'l tempo rio
Discacciatene omai, che londa chiara,
E l'ombra non men cara
A scherzare, a cantar per suoi boschetti,
E prati festa et allegrezza alletti.

Pacifiche, ma spesso in amorosa
Guerra co'fiori, e l'erba
Alla stagione acerba
Verdi insegne del giglio e della rosa,
Movete, Aure, pian pian; che tregua o posa,
Se non pace, io ritrove;
E so ben dove:--Oh vago, a mansueto
Sguardo, oh labbra d'ambrosia, oh rider, lieto!

Hor come un scoglio stassi,
Hor come un rio se'n fugge,
Ed hor crud' orsa rugge,
Hor canta angelo pio: ma che non fassi!
E che non fammi, O sassi,
O rivi, o belue, o Dii, questa mia vaga
Non so, se ninfa, o magna,
Non so, se donna, o Dea,
Non so, se dolce o rea?

Piangendo mi baciaste,
E ridendo il negaste:
In doglia hebbivi pin,
In festa hebbivi ria:
Nacque gioia di pianti,
Dolor di riso: O amanti
Miseri, habbiate insieme
Ognor paura e speme.

Bel Fior, tu mi rimembri
La rugiadosa guancia del bet viso;
E si vera l'assembri,
Che'n te sovente, come in lei m'affiso:
Et hor del vago riso,
Hor del serene sguardo
Io pur cieco riguardo. Ma qual fugge,
O Rosa, il mattin lieve!
E chi te, come neve,
E'l mio cor teco, e la mia vita strugge!

Anna mia, Anna dolce, oh sempre nuovo
E piu chiaro concento,
Quanta dolcezza sento
In sol Anna dicendo? Io mi pur pruovo,
Ne qui tra noi ritruovo,
Ne tra cieli armonia,
Che del bel nome suo piu dolce sia:
Altro il Cielo, altro Amore,
Altro non suona l'Ecco del mio core.

Hor che'l prato, e la selva si scoiora,
Al tuo serena ombroso
Muovine, alto Riposo,
Deh ch'io riposi una sol notte, un hora:
Han le fere, e git augelli, ognun talora
Ha qualche pace; io quando,
Lasso! non vonne errando,
E non piango, e non grido? e qual pur forte?
Ma poiche, non sent' egli, odine, Morte.

Risi e piansi d'Amor; ne pero mai
Se non in fiamma, o'n onda, o'n vento scrissi
Spesso msrce trovai
Crudel; sempre in me morto, in altri vissi:
Hor da' piu scuri Abissi al ciel m'aizai,
Hor ne pur caddi giuso;
Stance al fin qui son chiuso.

[64] "I've measured it from side to side;
'Tis three feet long, and two feet wide."

[65] "Nay, rack your brain--'tis all in vain,
I'll tell you every thing I know;
But to the Thorn, and to the Pond
Which is a little step beyond,
I wish that you would go:
Perhaps, when you are at the place,
You something of her tale may trace.

I'll give you the best help I can
Before you up the mountain go,
Up to the dreary mountain-top,
I'll tell you all I know.
'Tis now some two-and-twenty years
Since she (her name is Martha Ray)
Gave, with a maiden's true good will,
Her company to Stephen Hill;
And she was blithe and gay,
And she was happy, happy still
Whene'er she thought of Stephen Hill.

And they had fixed the wedding-day,
The morning that must wed them both
But Stephen to another maid
Had sworn another oath;
And, with this other maid, to church
Unthinking Stephen went--
Poor Martha! on that woeful day
A pang of pitiless dismay
Into her soul was sent;
A fire was kindled in her breast,
Which might not burn itself to rest.

They say, full six months after this,
While yet the summer leaves were green,

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