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Literary Remains (1) by Coleridge

Part 4 out of 6

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of poetic sublimity.

Lastly, as to the execution:--

The language and versification of the 'Paradise Lost' are peculiar in
being so much more necessarily correspondent to each than those in any
other poem or poet. The connexion of the sentences and the position of
the words are exquisitely artificial; but the position is rather
according to the logic of passion or universal logic, than to the logic
of grammar. Milton attempted to make the English language obey the logic
of passion as perfectly as the Greek and Latin. Hence the occasional
harshness in the construction.

Sublimity is the pre-eminent characteristic of the Paradise Lost. It is
not an arithmetical sublime like Klopstock's, whose rule always is to
treat what we might think large as contemptibly small. Klopstock
mistakes bigness for greatness. There is a greatness arising from images
of effort and daring, and also from those of moral endurance; in Milton
both are united. The fallen angels are human passions, invested with a
dramatic reality.

The apostrophe to light at the commencement of the third book is
particularly beautiful as an intermediate link between Hell and Heaven;
and observe, how the second and third book support the subjective
character of the poem. In all modern poetry in Christendom there is an
under consciousness of a sinful nature, a fleeting away of external
things, the mind or subject greater than the object, the reflective
character predominant. In the 'Paradise Lost' the sublimest parts are the
revelations of Milton's own mind, producing itself and evolving its own
greatness; and this is so truly so, that when that which is merely
entertaining for its objective beauty is introduced, it at first seems a

In the description of Paradise itself you have Milton's sunny side as a
man; here his descriptive powers are exercised to the utmost, and he
draws deep upon his Italian resources. In the description of Eve, and
throughout this part of the poem, the poet is predominant over the
theologian. Dress is the symbol of the Fall, but the mark of intellect;
and the metaphysics of dress are, the hiding what is not symbolic and
displaying by discrimination what is. The love of Adam and Eve in
Paradise is of the highest merit--not phantomatic, and yet removed from
every thing degrading. It is the sentiment of one rational being towards
another made tender by a specific difference in that which is
essentially the same in both; it is a union of opposites, a giving and
receiving mutually of the permanent in either, a completion of each in
the other.

Milton is not a picturesque, but a musical, poet; although he has this
merit that the object chosen by him for any particular foreground always
remains prominent to the end, enriched, but not incumbered, by the
opulence of descriptive details furnished by an exhaustless imagination.
I wish the Paradise Lost were more carefully read and studied than I can
see any ground for believing it is, especially those parts which, from
the habit of always looking for a story in poetry, are scarcely read at
all,--as for example, Adam's vision of future events in the 11th and
12th books. No one can rise from the perusal of this immortal poem
without a deep sense of the grandeur and the purity of Milton's soul, or
without feeling how susceptible of domestic enjoyments he really was,
notwithstanding the discomforts which actually resulted from an
apparently unhappy choice in marriage. He was, as every truly great poet
has ever been, a good man; but finding it impossible to realize his own
aspirations, either in religion, or politics, or society, he gave up his
heart to the living spirit and light within him, and avenged himself on
the world by enriching it with this record of his own transcendant

[Footnote 1: Table Talk, vol. ii. p. 264.]

[Footnote 2: Here Mr. C. notes: "Not perhaps here, but towards, or as,
the conclusion, to chastise the fashionable notion that poetry is a
relaxation or amusement, one of the superfluous toys and luxuries of the
intellect! To contrast the permanence of poems with the transiency and
fleeting moral effects of empires, and what are called, great events."

NOTES ON MILTON. 1807. [1]

(Hayley quotes the following passage:--)

"Time serves not now, and, perhaps, I might seem too profuse to give
any certain account of what the mind at home, in the spacious circuits
of her musing, hath liberty to propose to herself, though of highest
hope and hardest attempting; whether that epic form, whereof the two
poems of Homer, and those other two of Virgil and Tasso, are a
diffuse, and the Book of Job' a brief, model," p. 69.

These latter words deserve particular notice. I do not doubt that Milton
intended his 'Paradise Lost' as an epic of the first class, and that the
poetic dialogue of the 'Book of Job' was his model for the general scheme
of his 'Paradise Regained'. Readers would not be disappointed in this
latter poem, if they proceeded to a perusal of it with a proper
preconception of the kind of interest intended to be excited in that
admirable work. In its kind it is the most perfect poem extant, though
its kind may be inferior in interest--being in its essence didactic--to
that other sort, in which instruction is conveyed more effectively,
because less directly, in connection with stronger and more pleasurable
emotions, and thereby in a closer affinity with action. But might we not
as rationally object to an accomplished woman's conversing, however
agreeably, because it has happened that we have received a keener
pleasure from her singing to the harp? 'Si genus sit probo et sapienti
viro hand indignum, et si poema sit in suo genere perfectum, satis est.
Quod si hoc auctor idem altioribus numeris et carmini diviniori ipsum
per se divinum superaddiderit, mehercule satis est, et plusquam
satis'. [2] I cannot, however, but wish that the answer of Jesus to Satan
in the 4th book, (v. 285.)--

Think not but that I know these things;
Or think I know them not,
Not therefore am I short
Of knowing what I ought, &c.

had breathed the spirit of Hayley's noble quotation rather than the
narrow bigotry of Gregory the Great. The passage is, indeed, excellent,
and is partially true; but partial truth is the worst mode of conveying

Hayley, p. 75. "The sincerest friends of Milton may here agree with
Johnson, who speaks of 'his controversial merriment as

The man who reads a work meant for immediate effect on one age with the
notions and feelings of another, may be a refined gentleman, but must be
a sorry critic. He who possesses imagination enough to live with his
forefathers, and, leaving comparative reflection for an after moment, to
give himself up during the first perusal to the feelings of a
contemporary, if not a partizan, will, I dare aver, rarely find any part
of Milton's prose works disgusting.

(Hayley, p. 104. Hayley is speaking of the passage in Milton's Answer to
Icon Basilice, in which he accuses Charles of taking his Prayer in
captivity from Pamela's prayer in the 3rd book of Sidney's Arcadia. The
passage begins,--

"But this king, not content with that which, although in a thing holy,
is no holy theft, to attribute to his own making other men's whole
prayers, &c." Symmons' ed. 1806, p. 407.)

Assuredly, I regret that Milton should have written this passage; and
yet the adoption of a prayer from a romance on such an occasion does not
evince a delicate or deeply sincere mind. We are the creatures of
association. There are some excellent moral and even serious lines in
Hudibras; but what if a clergyman should adorn his sermon with a
quotation from that poem! Would the abstract propriety of the verses
leave him "honourably acquitted?" The Christian baptism of a line in
Virgil is so far from being a parallel, that it is ridiculously
inappropriate,--an absurdity as glaring as that of the bigotted
Puritans, who objected to some of the noblest and most scriptural
prayers ever dictated by wisdom and piety, simply because the Roman
Catholics had used them.

(Hayley, p. 107.) "The ambition of Milton," &c.

I do not approve the so frequent use of this word relatively to Milton.
Indeed the fondness for ingrafting a good sense on the word "ambition,"
is not a Christian impulse in general.

(Hayley, p. 110.) "Milton himself seems to have thought it allowable in
literary contention to vilify, &c. the character of an opponent; but
surely this doctrine is unworthy," &c.

If ever it were allowable, in this ease it was especially so. But these
general observations, without meditation on the particular times and the
genius of the times, are most often as unjust as they are always

(Hayley, p. 133. Hayley is speaking of Milton's panegyric on Cromwell's

Besides, however Milton might and did regret the immediate necessity,
yet what alternative was there? Was it not better that Cromwell should
usurp power, to protect religious freedom at least, than that the
Presbyterians should usurp it to introduce a religious
persecution,--extending the notion of spiritual concerns so far as to
leave no freedom even to a man's bedchamber?

(Hayley, p. 250. Hayley's conjectures on the origin of the 'Paradise

If Milton borrowed a hint from any writer, it was more probably from
Strada's Prolusions, in which the Fall of the Angels is pointed out as
the noblest subject for a Christian poet.[1] The more dissimilar the
detailed images are, the more likely it is that a great genius should
catch the general idea.

(Hayl. p. 294. Extracts from the 'Adamo' of Andreini:)

"Lucifero. Che dal mio centre oscuro
Mi chiama a rimirar cotanta luce?"

"Who from my dark abyss
Calls me to gaze on this 'excess of light?'"

The words in italics (single quotation marks: text Ed.) are an unfair
translation. They may suggest that Milton really had read and did
imitate this drama. The original is 'in so great light.' Indeed the
whole version is affectedly and inaccurately Miltonic.

(p Ib. v. 11.)
Che di fango opre festi--
Forming thy works of 'dust' (no, dirt.--)

(Ib. v. 17.)
Tessa pur stella a stella
V'aggiungo e luna, e sole.--

Let him unite above Star upon star, moon, sun.
Let him weave star to star, Then join both moon and sun!

(Ib. v. 21.)
Ch'al fin con biasmo e scorno
Vana l'opra sara, vano il sudore!

Since in the end division
Shall prove his works and all his efforts vain.

Since finally with censure and disdain
Vain shall the work be, and his toil be vain!

1796. [3]

The reader of Milton must be always on his duty: he is surrounded with
sense; it rises in every line; every word is to the purpose. There are
no lazy intervals; all has been considered, and demands and merits
observation. If this be called obscurity, let it be remembered that it
is such an obscurity as is a compliment to the reader; not that vicious
obscurity, which proceeds from a muddled head.

[Footnote 1: These notes were written by Mr. Coleridge in a copy of
Hayley's Life of Milton, (4to. 1796), belonging to Mr. Poole. By him
they were communicated, and this seems the fittest place for their
publication. Ed. ]

[Footnote 2: The reference seems generally to be to the 5th Prolusion of
the 1st Book.
'Hic arcus ac tela, quibus olim in magno illo Superum tumultu
princeps armorum Michael confixit auctorem proditionis; hic fulmina
humanae mentis terror. In nubibus armatas bello legiones instruam,
atque inde pro re nata auxiliares ad terram copias evocabo. Hic mihi
Caelites, quos esse ferunt elementorum tutelares, prima ilia corpora
(sect. 4.) Ed. ]

[Footnote 3: From a common-place book of Mr. C.'s, communicated by Mr.
J. M. Gutch. Ed.]



A confounding of God with Nature, and an incapacity of finding unity in
the manifold and infinity in the individual,--these are the origin of
polytheism. The most perfect instance of this kind of theism is that of
early Greece; other nations seem to have either transcended, or come
short of, the old Hellenic standard,--a mythology in itself
fundamentally allegorical, and typical of the powers and functions of
nature, but subsequently mixed up with a deification of great men and
hero-worship,--so that finally the original idea became inextricably
combined with the form and attributes of some legendary individual. In
Asia, probably from the greater unity of the government and the still
surviving influence of patriarchal tradition, the idea of the unity of
God, in a distorted reflection of the Mosaic scheme, was much more
generally preserved; and accordingly all other super or ultra-human
beings could only be represented as ministers of, or rebels against, his
will. The Asiatic genii and fairies are, therefore, always endowed with
moral qualities, and distinguishable as malignant or benevolent to man.
It is this uniform attribution of fixed moral qualities to the
supernatural agents of eastern mythology that particularly separates
them from the divinities of old Greece.

Yet it is not altogether improbable that in the Samothracian or Cabeiric
mysteries the link between the Asiatic and Greek popular schemes of
mythology lay concealed. Of these mysteries there are conflicting
accounts, and, perhaps, there were variations of doctrine in the lapse
of ages and intercourse with other systems. But, upon a review of all
that is left to us on this subject in the writings of the ancients, we
may, I think, make out thus much of an interesting fact,--that
'Cabiri', impliedly at least, meant 'socii, complices,' having
a hypostatic or fundamental union with, or relation to, each other; that
these mysterious divinities were, ultimately at least, divided into a
higher and lower triad; that the lower triad, 'primi quia infimi,'
consisted of the old Titanic deities or powers of nature, under the
obscure names of 'Axieros, Axiokersos,' and 'Axiokersa,'
representing symbolically different modifications of animal desire or
material action, such as hunger, thirst, and fire, without
consciousness; that the higher triad, 'ultimi quia superiores,'
consisted of Jupiter, (Pallas, or Apollo, or Bacchus, or Mercury,
mystically called 'Cadmilos') and Venus, representing, as before,
the [Greek (transliterated): nous] or reason, the [Greek: logos] or word or
communicative power, and the [Greek: eros] or love;-that the
'Cadmilos' or Mercury, the manifested, communicated, or sent,
appeared not only in his proper person as second of the higher triad,
but also as a mediator between the higher and lower triad, and so there
were seven divinities; and, indeed, according to some authorities, it
might seem that the 'Cadmilos' acted once as a mediator of the
higher, and once of the lower, triad, and that so there were eight
Cabeiric divinities. The lower or Titanic powers being subdued, chaos
ceased, and creation began in the reign of the divinities of mind and
love; but the chaotic gods still existed in the abyss, and the notion of
evoking them was the origin, the idea, of the Greek necromancy.

These mysteries, like all the others, were certainly in connection with
either the Phoenician or Egyptian systems, perhaps with both. Hence the
old Cabeiric powers were soon made to answer to the corresponding
popular divinities; and the lower triad was called by the uninitiated,
Ceres, Vulcan or Pluto, and Proserpine, and the 'Cadmilos' became
Mercury. It is not without ground that I direct your attention, under
these circumstances, to the probable derivation of some portion of this
most remarkable system from patriarchal tradition, and to the connection
of the Cabeiri with the Kabbala.

The Samothracian mysteries continued in celebrity till some time after
the commencement of the Christian era. [2] But they gradually sank with
the rest of the ancient system of mythology, to which, in fact, they did
not properly belong. The peculiar doctrines, however, were preserved in
the memories of the initiated, and handed down by individuals. No doubt
they were propagated in Europe, and it is not improbable that Paracelsus
received many of his opinions from such persons, and I think a
connection may be traced between him and Jacob Behmen.

The Asiatic supernatural beings are all produced by imagining an
excessive magnitude, or an excessive smallness combined with great
power; and the broken associations, which must have given rise to such
conceptions, are the sources of the interest which they inspire, as
exhibiting, through the working of the imagination, the idea of power in
the will. This is delightfully exemplified in the 'Arabian Nights'
Entertainments', and indeed, more or less, in other works of the same
kind. In all these there is the same activity of mind as in dreaming,
that is--an exertion of the fancy in the combination and recombination of
familiar objects so as to produce novel and wonderful imagery. To this
must be added that these tales cause no deep feeling of a moral
kind--whether of religion or love; but an impulse of motion is
communicated to the mind without excitement, and this is the reason of
their being so generally read and admired.

I think it not unlikely that the 'Milesian Tales' contained the germs of
many of those now in the Arabian Nights; indeed it is scarcely possible
to doubt that the Greek empire must have left deep impression on the
Persian intellect. So also many of the Roman Catholic legends are taken
from Apuleius. In that exquisite story of Cupid and Psyche, the allegory
is of no injury to the dramatic vividness of the tale. It is evidently a
philosophic attempt to parry Christianity with a 'quasi'-Platonic
account of the fall and redemption of the soul.

The charm of De Foe's works, especially of 'Robinson Crusoe', is founded
on the same principle. It always interests, never agitates. Crusoe
himself is merely a representative of humanity in general; neither his
intellectual nor his moral qualities set him above the middle degree of
mankind; his only prominent characteristic is the spirit of enterprise
and wandering, which is, nevertheless, a very common disposition. You
will observe that all that is wonderful in this tale is the result of
external circumstances--of things which fortune brings to Crusoe's hand.

[Footnote 1: Partly from Mr. Green's note. 'Ed.']

[Footnote 2: In the reign of Tiberius, A. D. 18, Germanicus attempted to
visit Samothrace;--'illum in regressu sacra Samothracum visere
nitentem obvii aquilones depulere.' Tacit. 'Ann.' II. e. 54. Ed.]


(Vol. i. p. 17.)
But my ill fate pushed me on now with an obstinacy that nothing could
resist; and though I had several times loud calls from my reason, and
my more composed judgment to go home, yet I had no power to do it. I
know not what to call this, nor will I urge that it is a secret
overruling decree that hurries us on to be the instruments of our own
destruction, even though it be before us, and that we rush upon it
with our eyes open.

The wise only possess ideas; the greater part of mankind are possessed
by them. Robinson Crusoe was not conscious of the master impulse, even
because it was his master, and had taken, as he says, full possession of
him. When once the mind, in despite of the remonstrating conscience, has
abandoned its free power to a haunting impulse or idea, then whatever
tends to give depth and vividness to this idea or indefinite
imagination, increases its despotism, and in the same proportion renders
the reason and free will ineffectual. Now, fearful calamities,
sufferings, horrors, and hair-breadth escapes will have this effect, far
more than even sensual pleasure and prosperous incidents. Hence the evil
consequences of sin in such cases, instead of retracting or deterring
the sinner, goad him on to his destruction. This is the moral of
Shakspeare's 'Macbeth', and the true solution of this paragraph,--not any
overruling decree of divine wrath, but the tyranny of the sinner's own
evil imagination, which he has voluntarily chosen as his master.

Compare the contemptuous Swift with the contemned De Foe, and how
superior will the latter be found! But by what test?--Even by this; that
the writer who makes me sympathize with his presentations with the whole
of my being, is more estimable than he who calls forth, and appeals but
to, a part of my being--my sense of the ludicrous, for instance. De
Foe's excellence it is, to make me forget my specific class, character,
and circumstances, and to raise me while I read him, into the universal

(P. 80.)
I smiled to myself at the sight of this money: "O drug!" said I aloud,
&c. 'However, upon second thoughts, I took it away'; and wrapping
all this in a piece of canvass, &c.

Worthy of Shakspeare!--and yet the simple semicolon after it, the
instant passing on without the least pause of reflex consciousness, is
more exquisite and masterlike than the touch itself. A meaner writer, a
Marmontel, would have put an (!) after 'away,' and have commenced
a fresh paragraph. 30th July, 1830.

(P. 111.)
And I must confess, my religious thankfulness to God's providence
began to abate too, upon the discovering that all this was nothing
but what was common; though I ought to have been as thankful for so
strange and unforeseen a providence, as if it had been miraculous.

To make men feel the truth of this is one characteristic object of the
miracles worked by Moses;-in them the providence is miraculous, the
miracles providential.

(1 P. 126.) The growing up of the corn, as is hinted in my Journal,
had, at first, some little influence upon me, and began to affect me
with seriousness, as long as I thought it had something miraculous in
it, &c.

By far the ablest vindication of miracles which I have met with. It is
indeed the true ground, the proper purpose and intention of a miracle.

(P. 141.) To think that this was all my own, that I was king and lord
of all this country indefeasibly, &c.

By the by, what is the law of England respecting this? Suppose I had
discovered, or been wrecked on an uninhabited island, would it be mine
or the king's?

(P. 223.)
I considered--that as I could not foresee what the ends of divine
wisdom might be in all this, so I was not to dispute his sovereignty,
who, as I was his creature, had an undoubted right, by creation, to
govern and dispose of me absolutely as he thought fit, &c.

I could never understand this reasoning, grounded on a complete
misapprehension of St. Paul's image of the potter, Rom. ix., or rather I
do fully understand the absurdity of it. The susceptibility of pain and
pleasure, of good and evil, constitutes a right in every creature
endowed therewith in relation to every rational and moral being,--a'
fortiori', therefore, to the Supreme Reason, to the absolutely good
Being. Remember Davenant's verses;--

Doth it our reason's mutinies appease
To say, the potter may his own clay mould
To every use, or in what shape he please,
At first not counsell'd, nor at last controll'd?

Power's hand can neither easy be, nor strict
To lifeless clay, which ease nor torment knows,
And where it cannot favour or afflict,
It neither justice or injustice shows.

But souls have life, and life eternal too:
Therefore, if doom'd before they can offend,
It seems to show what heavenly power can do,
But does not in that deed that power commend.

(Death of Astragon. st. 88, &c. P. 232-3.)

And this I must observe with grief too, that the discomposure of my
mind had too great impressions also upon the religious parts of my
thoughts,--praying to God being properly an act of the mind, not of
the body.

As justly conceived as it is beautifully expressed. And a mighty motive
for habitual prayer; for this cannot but greatly facilitate the
performance of rational prayer even in moments of urgent distress.

(P. 244.)
That this would justify the conduct of the Spaniards in all their
barbarities practised in America.

De Foe was a true philanthropist, who had risen above the antipathies of
nationality; but he was evidently partial to the Spanish character,
which, however, it is not, I fear, possible to acquit of cruelty.
Witness the Netherlands, the Inquisition, the late Guerilla warfare, &c.

(P. 249.)
That I shall not discuss, and perhaps cannot account for; but
certainly they are a proof of the converse of spirits, &c.

This reminds me of a conversation I once over heard. "How a statement so
injurious to Mr. A. and so contrary to the truth, should have been made
to you by Mr. B. I do not pretend to account for;--only I know of my own
knowledge that B. is an inveterate liar, and has long borne malice
against Mr. A.; and I can prove that he has repeatedly declared that in
some way or other he would do Mr. A. a mischief."

(P. 254.)
The place I was in was a most delightful cavity or grotto of its kind,
as could be expected, though perfectly dark; the floor was dry and
level, and had a sort of small loose gravel on it, &c.

How accurate an observer of nature De Foe was! The reader will at once
recognize Professor Buckland's caves and the diluvial gravel.

(P. 308.)
I entered into a long discourse with him about the devil, the original
of him, his rebellion against God, his enmity to man, the reason of
it, his setting himself up in the dark parts of the world to be
worshipped instead of God, &c.

I presume that Milton's 'Paradise Lost' must have been bound up with one
of Crusoe's Bibles; otherwise I should be puzzled to know where he found
all this history of the Old Gentleman. Not a word of it in the Bible
itself, I am quite sure. But to be serious. De Foe did not reflect that
all these difficulties are attached to a mere fiction, or, at the best,
an allegory, supported by a few popular phrases and figures of speech
used incidentally or dramatically by the Evangelists,--and that the
existence of a personal, intelligent, evil being, the counterpart and
antagonist of God, is in direct contradiction to the most express
declarations of Holy Writ. '"Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord
hath not done it?"' Amos, iii. 6. '"I make peace and create evil."' Isa.
xlv. 7. This is the deep mystery of the abyss of God.

(Vol. ii. p. 3.)
I have often heard persons of good judgment say, ... that there is no
such thing as a spirit appearing, a ghost walking, and the like, &c.

I cannot conceive a better definition of Body than "spirit appearing,"
or of a flesh-and-blood man than a rational spirit apparent. But a
spirit 'per se' appearing is tantamount to a spirit appearing
without its appearances. And as for ghosts, it is enough for a man of
common sense to observe, that a ghost and a shadow are concluded in the
same definition, that is, visibility without tangibility.

(P. 9.)
She was, in a few words the stay of all my affairs, the centre of all
my enterprises, &c.

The stay of his affairs, the centre of his interests, the regulator of
his schemes and movements, whom it soothed his pride to submit to, and
in complying with whose wishes the conscious sensation of his acting
will increased the impulse, while it disguised the coercion, of
duty!--the clinging dependent, yet the strong supporter--the comforter,
the comfort, and the soul's living home! This is De Foe's comprehensive
character of the wife, as she should be; and, to the honour of womanhood
be it spoken, there are few neighbourhoods in which one name at least
might not be found for the portrait.

The exquisite paragraphs in this and the next page, in addition to
others scattered, though with a sparing hand, through his novels, afford
sufficient proof that De Foe was a first-rate master of periodic style;
but with sound judgment, and the fine tact of genius, he has avoided it
as adverse to, nay, incompatible with, the every-day matter of fact
realness, which forms the charm and the character of all his romances.
The Robinson Crusoe is like the vision of a happy night-mair, such as a
denizen of Elysium might be supposed to have from a little excess in his
nectar and ambrosia supper. Our imagination is kept in full play,
excited to the highest; yet all the while we are touching, or touched
by, common flesh and blood.

(P. 67.)
The ungrateful creatures began to be as insolent and troublesome as
before, &c.

How should it be otherwise? They were idle; and when we will not sow
corn, the devil will be sure to sow weeds, night-shade, henbane, and

(P. 82.)
That hardened villain was so far from denying it, that he said it was
true, and ---- him they would do it still before they had done with

Observe when a man has once abandoned himself to wickedness, he cannot
stop, and does not join the devils till he has become a devil himself.
Rebelling against his conscience he becomes the slave of his own furious

One excellence of De Foe, amongst many, is his sacrifice of lesser
interest to the greater because more universal. Had he (as without any
improbability he might have done) given his Robinson Crusoe any of the
turn for natural history, which forms so striking and delightful a
feature in the equally uneducated Dampier;--had he made him find out
qualities and uses in the before (to him) unknown plants of the island,
discover, for instance, a substitute for hops, or describe birds,
&c.--many delightful pages and incidents might have enriched the
book;--but then Crusoe would have ceased to be the universal
representative, the person, for whom every reader could substitute
himself. But now nothing is done, thought, suffered, or desired, but
what every man can imagine himself doing, thinking, feeling, or wishing
for. Even so very easy a problem as that of finding a substitute for
ink, is with exquisite judgment made to baffle Crusoe's inventive
faculties. And in what he does, he arrives at no excellence; he does not
make basket work like Will Atkins; the carpentering, tailoring, pottery,
&c. are all just what will answer his purposes, and those are confined
to needs that all men have, and comforts that all men desire. Crusoe
rises only to the point to which all men may be made to feel that they
might, and that they ought to, rise in religion,--to resignation,
dependence on, and thankful acknowledgement of, the divine mercy and

In the education of children, love is first to be instilled, and out of
love obedience is to be educed. Then impulse and power should be given
to the intellect, and the ends of a moral being be exhibited. For this
object thus much is effected by works of imagination;--that they carry
the mind out of self, and show the possible of the good and the great in
the human character. The height, whatever it may be, of the imaginative
standard will do no harm; we are commanded to imitate one who is
inimitable. We should address ourselves to those faculties in a child's
mind, which are first awakened by nature, and consequently first admit
of cultivation, that is to say, the memory and the imagination. The
comparing power, the judgment, is not at that age active, and ought not
to be forcibly excited, as is too frequently and mistakenly done in the
modern systems of education, which can only lead to selfish views,
debtor and creditor principles of virtue, and an inflated sense of
merit. In the imagination of man exist the seeds of all moral and
scientific improvement; chemistry was first alchemy, and out of
astrology sprang astronomy. In the childhood of those sciences the
imagination opened a way, and furnished materials, on which the
ratiocinative powers in a maturer state operated with success. The
imagination is the distinguishing characteristic of man as a progressive
being; and I repeat that it ought to be carefully guided and
strengthened as the indispensable means and instrument of continued
amelioration and refinement. Men of genius and goodness are generally
restless in their minds in the present, and this, because they are by a
law of their nature unremittingly regarding themselves in the future,
and contemplating the possible of moral and intellectual advance towards
perfection. Thus we live by hope and faith; thus we are for the most
part able to realize what we will, and thus we accomplish the end of our
being. The contemplation of futurity inspires humility of soul in our
judgment of the present.

I think the memory of children cannot, in reason, be too much stored
with the objects and facts of natural history. God opens the images of
nature, like the leaves of a book, before the eyes of his creature,
Man--and teaches him all that is grand and beautiful in the foaming
cataract, the glassy lake, and the floating mist.

The common modern novel, in which there is no imagination, but a
miserable struggle to excite and gratify mere curiosity, ought, in my
judgment, to be wholly forbidden to children. Novel-reading of this sort
is especially injurious to the growth of the imagination, the judgment,
and the morals, especially to the latter, because it excites mere
feelings without at the same time ministering an impulse to action.
Women are good novelists, but indifferent poets; and this because they
rarely or never thoroughly distinguish between fact and fiction. In the
jumble of the two lies the secret of the modern novel, which is the
'medium aliquid' between them, having just so much of fiction as to
obscure the fact, and so much of fact as to render the fiction insipid.
The perusal of a fashionable lady's novel is to me very much like
looking at the scenery and decorations of a theatre by broad daylight.
The source of the common fondness for novels of this sort rests in that
dislike of vacancy and that love of sloth, which are inherent in the
human mind; they afford excitement without producing reaction. By
reaction I mean an activity of the intellectual faculties, which shows
itself in consequent reasoning and observation, and originates action
and conduct according to a principle. Thus, the act of thinking presents
two sides for contemplation,--that of external causality, in which the
train of thought may be considered as the result of outward impressions,
of accidental combinations, of fancy, or the associations of the
memory,--and on the other hand, that of internal causality, or of the
energy of the will on the mind itself. Thought, therefore, might thus be
regarded as passive or active; and the same faculties may in a popular
sense be expressed as perception or observation, fancy or imagination,
memory or recollection.

[Footnote 1: These notes were written by Mr. C. in Mr. Gillman's copy of
Robinson Crusoe, in the summer of 1830. The references in the text are
to Major's edition, 1831. Ed.]



It is a general, but, as it appears to me, a mistaken opinion, that in
our ordinary dreams we judge the objects to be real. I say our ordinary
dreams;--because as to the night-mair the opinion is to a considerable
extent just. But the night-mair is not a mere dream, but takes place
when the waking state of the brain is recommencing, and most often
during a rapid alternation, a twinkling, as it were, of sleeping and
waking;--while either from pressure on, or from some derangement in, the
stomach or other digestive organs acting on the external skin (which is
still in sympathy with the stomach and bowels,) and benumbing it, the
sensations sent up to the brain by double touch (that is, when my own
hand touches my side or breast,) are so faint as to be merely equivalent
to the sensation given by single touch, as when another person's hand
touches me. The mind, therefore, which at all times, with and without
our distinct consciousness, seeks for, and assumes, some outward cause
for every impression from without, and which in sleep, by aid of the
imaginative faculty, converts its judgments respecting the cause into a
personal image as being the cause,--the mind, I say, in this case,
deceived by past experience, attributes the painful sensation received
to a correspondent agent,--an assassin, for instance, stabbing at the
side, or a goblin sitting on the breast. Add too that the impressions of
the bed, curtains, room, &c. received by the eyes in the half-moments of
their opening, blend with, and give vividness and appropriate distance
to, the dream image which returns when they close again; and thus we
unite the actual perceptions, or their immediate reliques, with the
phantoms of the inward sense; and in this manner so confound the
half-waking, half-sleeping, reasoning power, that we actually do pass a
positive judgment on the reality of what we see and hear, though often
accompanied by doubt and self-questioning, which, as I have myself
experienced, will at times become strong enough, even before we awake,
to convince us that it is what it is--namely, the night-mair.

In ordinary dreams we do not judge the objects to be real;--we simply do
not determine that they are unreal. The sensations which they seem to
produce, are in truth the causes and occasions of the images; of which
there are two obvious proofs: first, that in dreams the strangest and
most sudden metamorphoses do not create any sensation of surprise: and
the second, that as to the most dreadful images, which during the dream
were accompanied with agonies of terror, we merely awake, or turn round
on the other side, and off fly both image and agony, which would be
impossible if the sensations were produced by the images. This has
always appeared to me an absolute demonstration of the true nature of
ghosts and apparitions--such I mean of the tribe as were not pure
inventions. Fifty years ago, (and to this day in the ruder parts of
Great Britain and Ireland, in almost every kitchen and in too many
parlours it is nearly the same,) you might meet persons who would assure
you in the most solemn manner, so that you could not doubt their
veracity at least, that they had seen an apparition of such and such a
person,--in many cases, that the apparition had spoken to them; and they
would describe themselves as having been in an agony of terror. They
would tell you the story in perfect health. Now take the other class of
facts, in which real ghosts have appeared;--I mean, where figures have
been dressed up for the purpose of passing for apparitions:--in every
instance I have known or heard of (and I have collected very many) the
consequence has been either sudden death, or fits, or idiocy, or mania,
or a brain fever. Whence comes the difference? evidently from
this,--that in the one case the whole of the nervous system has been by
slight internal causes gradually and all together brought into a certain
state, the sensation of which is extravagantly exaggerated during sleep,
and of which the images are the mere effects and exponents, as the
motions of the weathercock are of the wind;--while in the other case,
the image rushing through the senses upon a nervous system, wholly
unprepared, actually causes the sensation, which is sometimes powerful
enough to produce a total check, and almost always a lesion or
inflammation. Who has not witnessed the difference in shock when we have
leaped down half-a-dozen steps intentionally, and that of having missed
a single stair. How comparatively severe the latter is! The fact really
is, as to apparitions, that the terror produces the image instead of the
contrary; for 'in omnem actum perceptionis influit imaginatio,' as
says Wolfe.

O, strange is the self-power of the imagination--when painful sensations
have made it their interpreter, or returning gladsomeness or
convalescence has made its chilled and evanished figures and landscape
bud, blossom, and live in scarlet, green, and snowy white (like the
fire-screen inscribed with the nitrate and muriate of cobalt,)--strange
is the power to represent the events and circumstances, even to the
anguish or the triumph of the 'quasi'-credent soul, while the
necessary conditions, the only possible causes of such contingencies,
are known to be in fact quite hopeless;--yea, when the pure mind would
recoil from the eve-lengthened shadow of an approaching hope, as from a
crime;-and yet the effect shall have place, and substance, and living
energy, and, on a blue islet of ether, in a whole sky of blackest
cloudage, shine like a firstling of creation!

To return, however to apparitions, and by way of an amusing illustration
of the nature and value of even contemporary testimony upon such
subjects, I will present you with a passage, literally translated by my
friend, Mr. Southey, from the well known work of Bernal Dias, one of the
companions of Cortes, in the conquest of Mexico:

Here it is that Gomara says, that Francisco de Morla rode forward on a
dappled grey horse, before Cortes and the cavalry came up, and that
the apostle St. Iago, or St. Peter, was there. I must say that all our
works and victories are by the hand of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that
in this battle there were for each of us so many Indians, that they
could have covered us with handfuls of earth, if it had not been that
the great mercy of God helped us in every thing. And it may be that he
of whom Gomara speaks, was the glorious Santiago or San Pedro, and I,
as a sinner, was not worthy to see him; but he whom I saw there and
knew, was Francisco de Morla on a chestnut horse, who came up with
Cortes. And it seems to me that now while I am writing this, the whole
war is represented before these sinful eyes, just in the manner as we
then went through it. And though I, as an unworthy sinner, might not
deserve to see either of these glorious apostles, there were in our
company above four hundred soldiers, and Cortes, and many other
knights; and it would have been talked of and testified, and they
would have made a church, when they peopled the town, which would have
been called Santiago de la Vittoria, or San Pedro de la Vittoria, as
it is now called, Santa Maria de la Vittoria. And if it was, as Gomara
says, bad Christians must we have been, when our Lord God sent us his
holy apostles, not to acknowledge his great mercy, and venerate his
church daily. And would to God, it had been, as the Chronicler
says!--but till I read his Chronicle, I never heard such a thing from
any of the conquerors who were there.

Now, what if the odd accident of such a man as Bernal Dias' writing a
history had not taken place! Gomara's account, the account of a
contemporary, which yet must have been read by scores who were present,
would have remained uncontradicted. I remember the story of a man, whom
the devil met and talked with, but left at a particular lane;--the man
followed him with his eyes, and when the devil got to the turning or
bend of the lane, he vanished! The devil was upon this occasion drest in
a blue coat, plush waistcoat, leather breeches and boots, and talked and
looked just like a common man, except as to a particular lock of hair
which he had. "And how do you know then that it was the devil?"--"How do
I know," replied the fellow,--"why, if it had not been the devil, being
drest as he was, and looking as he did, why should I have been sore
stricken with fright, when I first saw him? and why should I be in such
a tremble all the while he talked? And, moreover, he had a particular
sort of a kind of a lock, and when I groaned and said, upon every
question he asked me, Lord have mercy upon me! or, Christ have mercy
upon me! it was plain enough that he did not like it, and so he left
me!"--The man was quite sober when he related this story; but as it
happened to him on his return from market, it is probable that he was
then muddled. As for myself, I was actually seen in Newgate in the
winter of 1798;--the person who saw me there, said he had asked my name
of Mr. A. B. a known acquaintance of mine, who told him that it was
young Coleridge, who had married the eldest Miss----. "Will you go to
Newgate, Sir?" said my friend; "for I assure you that Mr. C. is now in
Germany." "Very willingly," replied the other, and away they went to
Newgate, and sent for A. B. "Coleridge," cried he, "in Newgate! God
forbid!" I said, "young Col ---- who married the eldest Miss ----." The
names were something similar. And yet this person had himself really
seen me at one of my lectures.

I remember, upon the occasion of my inhaling the nitrous oxide at the
Royal Institution, about five minutes afterwards, a gentleman came from
the other side of the theatre and said to me,--"Was it not ravishingly
delightful, Sir?"--"It was highly pleasurable, no doubt."--"Was it not
very like sweet music?"--"I cannot say I perceived any analogy to
it."--"Did you not say it was very like Mrs. Billington singing by your
ear?"--"No, Sir, I said that while I was breathing the gas, there was a
singing in my ears."

To return, however, to dreams, I not only believe, for the reasons
given, but have more than once actually experienced that the most
fearful forms, when produced simply by association, instead of causing
fear, operate no other effect than the same would do if they had passed
through my mind as thoughts, while I was composing a faery tale; the
whole depending on the wise and gracious law in our nature, that the
actual bodily sensations, called forth according to the law of
association by thoughts and images of the mind, never greatly transcend
the limits of pleasurable feeling in a tolerably healthy frame, unless
where an act of the judgment supervenes and interprets them as
purporting instant danger to ourselves.

[1] There have been very strange and incredible stories told of and by
the alchemists. Perhaps in some of them there may have been a specific
form of mania, originating in the constant intension of the mind on an
imaginary end, associated with an immense variety of means, all of them
substances not familiar to men in general, and in forms strange and
unlike to those of ordinary nature. Sometimes, it seems as if the
alchemists wrote like the Pythagoreans on music, imagining a
metaphysical and inaudible music as the basis of the audible. It is
clear that by sulphur they meant the solar rays or light, and by mercury
the principle of ponderability, so that their theory was the same with
that of the Heraclitic physics, or the modern German 'Naturphilosophie',
which deduces all things from light and gravitation, each being bipolar;
gravitation=north and south, or attraction and repulsion; light=east and
west, or contraction and dilation; and gold being the tetrad, or
interpenetration of both, as water was the dyad of light, and iron the
dyad of gravitation.

It is, probably, unjust to accuse the alchemists generally of dabbling
with attempts at magic in the common sense of the term. The supposed
exercise of magical power always involved some moral guilt, directly or
indirectly, as in stealing a piece of meat to lay on warts, touching
humours with the hand of an executed person, &c. Rites of this sort and
other practices of sorcery have always been regarded with trembling
abhorrence by all nations, even the most ignorant, as by the Africans,
the Hudson's Bay people and others. The alchemists were, no doubt, often
considered as dealers in art magic, and many of them were not unwilling
that such a belief should be prevalent; and the more earnest among them
evidently looked at their association of substances, fumigations, and
other chemical operations as merely ceremonial, and seem, therefore, to
have had a deeper meaning, that of evoking a latent power. It would be
profitable to make a collection of all the cases of cures by magical
charms and incantations; much useful information might, probably, be
derived from it; for it is to be observed that such rites are the form
in which medical knowledge would be preserved amongst a barbarous and
ignorant people.

[Footnote 1: From Mr. Green's note. Ed.]

Note. [1] June, 1827.

The apocryphal book of Tobit consists of a very simple, but beautiful
and interesting, family-memoir, into which some later Jewish poet or
fabulist of Alexandria wove the ridiculous and frigid machinery,
borrowed from the popular superstitions of the Greeks (though, probably,
of Egyptian origin), and accommodated, clumsily enough, to the purer
monotheism of the Mosaic law. The Rape of the Lock is another instance
of a simple tale thus enlarged at a later period, though in this case by
the same author, and with a very different result. Now unless Mr.
Hillhouse is Romanist enough to receive this nursery-tale garnish of a
domestic incident as grave history and holy writ, (for which, even from
learned Roman Catholics, he would gain more credit as a very obedient
child of the Church than as a biblical critic), he will find it no easy
matter to support this assertion of his by the passages of Scripture
here referred to, consistently with any sane interpretation of their
import and purpose.

I. The Fallen Spirits.

This is the mythological form, or, if you will, the symbolical
representation, of a profound idea necessary as the 'prae-suppositum' of
the Christian scheme, or a postulate of reason, indispensable, if we
would render the existence of a world of finites compatible with the
assumption of a super-mundane God, not one with the world. In short,
this idea is the condition under which alone the reason of man can
retain the doctrine of an infinite and absolute Being, and yet keep
clear of pantheism as exhibited by Benedict Spinosa.

II. The Egyptian Magicians.

This whole narrative is probably a relic of the old diplomatic
'lingua-arcana,' or state-symbolique--in which the prediction of
events is expressed as the immediate causing of them. Thus the prophet
is said to destroy the city, the destruction of which he predicts. The
word which our version renders by '"enchantments"' signifies
"flames or burnings," by which it is probable that the Egyptians were
able to deceive the spectators, and substitute serpents for staves. See
Parkhurst 'in voce.'

And with regard to the possessions in the Gospels, bear in mind first of
all, that spirits are not necessarily souls or 'I's' ('ich-heiten' or
'self-consciousnesses'), and that the most ludicrous absurdities would
follow from taking them as such in the Gospel instances; and secondly,
that the Evangelist, who has recorded the most of these incidents,
himself speaks of one of these possessed persons as a lunatic;--
[Greek (transliterated): selaeniazetai--epsaelthen ap auton to daimonion.]
Matt. xvii. 15.18. while St. John names them not at all, but seems to
include them under the description of diseased or deranged persons. That
madness may result from spiritual causes, and not only or principally
from physical ailments, may readily be admitted. Is not our will itself
a spiritual power? Is it not the spirit of the man? The mind of a
rational and responsible being (that is, of a free-agent) is a spirit,
though it does not follow that all spirits are minds. Who shall dare
determine what spiritual influences may not arise out of the collective
evil wills of wicked men? Even the bestial life, sinless in animals and
their nature, may when awakened in the man and by his own act admitted
into his will, become a spiritual influence. He receives a nature into
his will, which by this very act becomes a corrupt will; and 'vice
versa,' this will becomes his nature, and thus a corrupt nature. This
may be conceded; and this is all that the recorded words of our Saviour
absolutely require in order to receive an appropriate sense; but this is
altogether different from making spirits to be devils, and devils
self-conscious individuals.

[Footnote 1: Written in a copy of Mr. Hillhouse's 'Hadad'. 'Ed.']

NOTES. [1] March, 1824.

'A Christian's conflicts and conquests', p. 459.
By the devil we are to understand that apostate spirit which fell from
God, and is always designing to hale down others from God also. The
Old Dragon (mentioned in the Revelation) with his tail drew down the
third part of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth.

How much is it to be regretted, that so enlightened and able a divine as
Smith, had not philosophically and scripturally enucleated this so
difficult yet important question,--respecting the personal existence of
the evil principle; that is, whether as [Greek (transliterated): to
theion] of paganism is [Greek: o theos] in Christianity, so the [Greek:
to ponaeron] is to be [Greek: o ponaeros],--and whether this is an
express doctrine of Christ, and not merely a Jewish dogma left
undisturbed to fade away under the increasing light of the Gospel,
instead of assuming the former, and confirming the position by a verse
from a poetic tissue of visual symbols,--a verse alien from the subject,
and by which the Apocalypt enigmatized the Neronian persecutions and the
apostacy through fear occasioned by it in a large number of converts.

(Ib. p. 463.)
When we say, the devil is continually busy with us, I mean not only
some apostate spirit as one particular being, but that spirit of
apostacy which is lodged in all men's natures; and this may seem
particularly to be aimed at in this place, if we observe the
context:--as the scripture speaks of Christ not only as a particular
person, but as a divine principle in holy souls. Indeed the devil is
not only the name of one particular thing, but a nature.

May I not venture to suspect that this was Smith's own belief and
judgment? and that his conversion of the Satan, that is,
'circuitor', or minister of police (what our Sterne calls the
accusing angel) in the prologue to Job into the devil was a mere
condescension to the prevailing prejudice? Here, however, he speaks like
himself, and like a true religious philosopher, who felt that the
personality of evil spirits is a trifling question, compared with the
personality of the evil principle. This is indeed most momentous.

[Footnote 1: Written in a copy of "Select Discourses by John Smith, of
Queen's College, Cambridge, 1660," and communicated by the Rev. Edward
Coleridge. Ed.]


The defect of this and all similar theories that I am acquainted with,
or rather, let me say, the desideratum, is the neglect of a previous
definition of the term "body." What do you mean by it? The immediate
grounds of a man's size, visibility, tangibility, &c?--But these are in
a continual flux even as a column of smoke. The material particles of
carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, lime, phosphorus, sulphur, soda,
iron, that constitute the ponderable organism in May, 1827, at the
moment of Pollio's death in his 70th year, have no better claim to be
called his "body," than the numerical particles of the same names that
constituted the ponderable mass in May, 1787, in Pollio's prime of
manhood in his 30th year;--the latter no less than the former go into
the grave, that is, suffer dissolution, the one in a series, the other
simultaneously. The result to the particles is precisely the same in
both, and of both therefore we must say with holy Paul,--'"Thou fool!
that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be,"'
&c. Neither this nor that is the body that abideth. Abideth, I say; for
that which riseth again must have remained, though perhaps in an inert
state.--It is not dead, but sleepeth;--that is, it is not dissolved any
more than the exterior or phenomenal organism appears to us dissolved
when it lieth in apparent inactivity during our sleep.

Sound reasoning this, to the best of my judgment, as far as it goes. But
how are we to explain the reaction of this fluxional body on the animal?
In each moment the particles by the informing force of the living
principle constitute an organ not only of motion and sense, but of
consciousness. The organ plays on the organist. How is this conceivable?
The solution requires a depth, stillness, and subtlety of spirit not
only for its discovery, but even for the understanding of it when
discovered, and in the most appropriate words enunciated. I can merely
give a hint. The particles themselves must have an interior and
gravitative being, and the multeity must be a removable or at least
suspensible accident.


Man communicates by articulation of sounds, and paramountly by the
memory in the ear; nature by the impression of bounds and surfaces on
the eye, and through the eye it gives significance and appropriation,
and thus the conditions of memory, or the capability of being
remembered, to sounds, smells, &c. Now Art, used collectively for
painting, sculpture, architecture and music, is the mediatress between,
and reconciler of, nature and man. It is, therefore, the power of
humanizing nature, of infusing the thoughts and passions of man into
every thing which is the object of his contemplation; colour, form,
motion and sound are the elements which it combines, and it stamps them
into unity in the mould of a moral idea.

The primary art is writing;--primary, if we regard the purpose
abstracted from the different modes of realizing it, those steps of
progression of which the instances are still visible in the lower
degrees of civilization. First, there is mere gesticulation; then
rosaries or 'wampun'; then picture-language; then hieroglyphics, and
finally alphabetic letters. These all consist of a translation of man
into nature, of a substitution of the visible for the audible.

The so called music of savage tribes as little deserves the name of art
for the understanding as the ear warrants it for music. Its lowest state
is a mere expression of passion by sounds which the passion itself
necessitates;--the highest amounts to no more than a voluntary
reproduction of these sounds in the absence of the occasioning causes,
so as to give the pleasure of contrast,--for example, by the various
outcries of battle in the song of security and triumph. Poetry also is
purely human; for all its materials are from the mind, and all its
products are for the mind. But it is the apotheosis of the former state,
in which by excitement of the associative power passion itself imitates
order, and the order resulting produces a pleasurable passion, and thus
it elevates the mind by making its feelings the object of its reflexion.
So likewise, whilst it recalls the sights and sounds that had
accompanied the occasions of the original passions, poetry impregnates
them with an interest not their own by means of the passions, and yet
tempers the passion by the calming power which all distinct images exert
on the human soul. In this way poetry is the preparation for art,
inasmuch as it avails itself of the forms of nature to recall, to
express, and to modify the thoughts and feelings of the mind. Still,
however, poetry can only act through the intervention of articulate
speech, which is so peculiarly human, that in all languages it
constitutes the ordinary phrase by which man and nature are
contradistinguished. It is the original force of the word 'brute,' and
even 'mute,' and 'dumb' do not convey the absence of sound, but the
absence of articulated sounds.

As soon as the human mind is intelligibly addressed by an outward image
exclusively of articulate speech, so soon does art commence. But please
to observe that I have laid particular stress on the words 'human
mind,'--meaning to exclude thereby all results common to man and all
other sentient creatures, and consequently confining myself to the
effect produced by the congruity of the animal impression with the
reflective powers of the mind; so that not the thing presented, but that
which is re-presented by the thing shall be the source of the pleasure.
In this sense nature itself is to a religious observer the art of God;
and for the same cause art itself might be defined as of a middle
quality between a thought and a thing, or as I said before, the union
and reconciliation of that which is nature with that which is
exclusively human. It is the figured language of thought, and is
distinguished from nature by the unity of all the parts in one thought
or idea. Hence nature itself would give us the impression of a work of
art if we could see the thought which is present at once in the whole
and in every part; and a work of art will he just in proportion as it
adequately conveys the thought, and rich in proportion to the variety of
parts which it holds in unity.

If, therefore, the term 'mute' be taken as opposed not to sound but to
articulate speech, the old definition of painting will in fact be the
true and best definition of the Fine Arts in general, that is, 'muta
poesis', mute poesy, and so of course poesy. And, as all languages
perfect themselves by a gradual process of desynonymizing words
originally equivalent, I have cherished the wish to use the word 'poesy'
as the generic or common term, and to distinguish that species of poesy
which is not 'muta poesis' by its usual name 'poetry;' while of all
the other species which collectively form the Fine Arts, there would
remain this as the common definition,--that they all, like poetry, are
to express intellectual purposes, thoughts, conceptions, and sentiments
which have their origin in the human mind,--not, however, as poetry
does, by means of articulate speech, but as nature or the divine art
does, by form, colour, magnitude, proportion, or by sound, that is,
silently or musically.

Well! it may be said--but who has ever thought otherwise? We all know
that art is the imitatress of nature. And, doubtless, the truths which I
hope to convey would be barren truisms, if all men meant the same by the
words 'imitate' and 'nature.' But it would be flattering mankind at
large, to presume that such is the fact. First, to imitate. The
impression on the wax is not an imitation, but a copy, of the seal; the
seal itself is an imitation. But, further, in order to form a
philosophic conception, we must seek for the kind, as the heat in ice,
invisible light, &c. whilst, for practical purposes, we must have
reference to the degree. It is sufficient that philosophically we
understand that in all imitation two elements must coexist, and not only
coexist, but must be perceived as coexisting. These two constituent
elements are likeness and unlikeness, or sameness and difference, and in
all genuine creations of art there must be a union of these disparates.
The artist may take his point of view where he pleases, provided that
the desired effect be perceptibly produced,--that there be likeness in
the difference, difference in the likeness, and a reconcilement of both
in one. If there be likeness to nature without any check of difference,
the result is disgusting, and the more complete the delusion, the more
loathsome the effect. Why are such simulations of nature, as wax-work
figures of men and women, so disagreeable? Because, not finding the
motion and the life which we expected, we are shocked as by a falsehood,
every circumstance of detail, which before induced us to be interested,
making the distance from truth more palpable. You set out with a
supposed reality and are disappointed and disgusted with the deception;
whilst, in respect to a work of genuine imitation, you begin with an
acknowledged total difference, and then every touch of nature gives you
the pleasure of an approximation to truth. The fundamental principle of
all this is undoubtedly the horror of falsehood and the love of truth
inherent in the human breast. The Greek tragic dance rested on these
principles, and I can deeply sympathize in imagination with the Greeks
in this favourite part of their theatrical exhibitions, when I call to
mind the pleasure I felt in beholding the combat of the Horatii and
Curiatii most exquisitely danced in Italy to the music of Cimarosa.

Secondly, as to nature. We must imitate nature! yes, but what in
nature,--all and every thing? No, the beautiful in nature. And what then
is the beautiful? What is beauty? It is, in the abstract, the unity of
the manifold, the coalescence of the diverse; in the concrete, it is the
union of the shapely ('formosum') with the vital. In the dead
organic it depends on regularity of form, the first and lowest species
of which is the triangle with all its modifications, as in crystals,
architecture, &c.; in the living organic it is not mere regularity of
form, which would produce a sense of formality; neither is it
subservient to any thing beside itself. It may be present in a
disagreeable object, in which the proportion of the parts constitutes a
whole; it does not arise from association, as the agreeable does, but
sometimes lies in the rupture of association; it is not different to
different individuals and nations, as has been said, nor is it connected
with the ideas of the good, or the fit, or the useful. The sense of
beauty is intuitive, and beauty itself is all that inspires pleasure
without, and aloof from, and even contrarily to, interest.

If the artist copies the mere nature, the 'natura naturata', what
idle rivalry? If he proceeds only from a given form, which is supposed
to answer to the notion of beauty, what an emptiness, what an unreality
there always is in his productions, as in Cipriani's pictures! Believe
me, you must master the essence, the 'natura naturans', which
presupposes a bond between nature in the higher sense and the soul of

The wisdom in nature is distinguished from that in man by the
co-instantaneity of the plan and the execution; the thought and the
product are one, or are given at once; but there is no reflex act, and
hence there is no moral responsibility. In man there is reflexion,
freedom, and choice; he is, therefore, the head of the visible creation.
In the objects of nature are presented, as in a mirror, all the possible
elements, steps, and processes of intellect antecedent to consciousness,
and therefore to the full development of the intelligential act; and
man's mind is the very focus of all the rays of intellect which are
scattered throughout the images of nature. Now so to place these images,
totalized, and fitted to the limits of the human mind, as to elicit
from, and to superinduce upon, the forms themselves the moral reflexions
to which they approximate, to make the external internal, the internal
external, to make nature thought, and thought nature,--this is the
mystery of genius in the Fine Arts. Dare I add that the genius must act
on the feeling, that body is but a striving to become mind,--that it is
mind in its essence!

In every work of art there is a reconcilement of the external with the
internal; the conscious is so impressed on the unconscious as to appear
in it; as compare mere letters inscribed on a tomb with figures
themselves constituting the tomb. He who combines the two is the man of
genius; and for that reason he must partake of both. Hence there is in
genius itself an unconscious activity; nay, that is the genius in the
man of genius. And this is the true exposition of the rule that the
artist must first eloign himself from nature in order to return to her
with full effect. Why this? Because if he were to begin by mere painful
copying, he would produce masks only, not forms breathing life. He must
out of his own mind create forms according to the severe laws of the
intellect, in order to generate in himself that co-ordination of freedom
and law, that involution of obedience in the prescript, and of the
prescript in the impulse to obey, which assimilates him to nature, and
enables him to understand her. He merely absents himself for a season
from her, that his own spirit, which has the same ground with nature,
may learn her unspoken language in its main radicals, before he
approaches to her endless compositions of them. Yes, not to acquire cold
notions--lifeless technical rules--but living and life-producing ideas,
which shall contain their own evidence, the certainty that they are
essentially one with the germinal causes in nature--his consciousness
being the focus and mirror of both,--for this does the artist for a time
abandon the external real in order to return to it with a complete
sympathy with its internal and actual. For of all we see, hear, feel and
touch the substance is and must be in ourselves; and therefore there is
no alternative in reason between the dreary (and thank heaven! almost
impossible) belief that every thing around us is but a phantom, or that
the life which is in us is in them likewise; and that to know is to
resemble, when we speak of objects out of ourselves, even as within
ourselves to learn is, according to Plato, only to recollect;--the only
effective answer to which, that I have been fortunate to meet with, is
that which Pope has consecrated for future use in the line--

And coxcombs vanquish Berkeley with a grin!

The artist must imitate that which is within the thing, that which is
active through form and figure, and discourses to us by symbols--the
'Natur-geist', or spirit of nature, as we unconsciously imitate those
whom we love; for so only can he hope to produce any work truly natural
in the object and truly human in the effect. The idea which puts the
form together cannot itself be the form. It is above form, and is its
essence, the universal in the individual, or the individuality
itself,--the glance and the exponent of the indwelling power.

Each thing that lives has its moment of self-exposition, and so has each
period of each thing, if we remove the disturbing forces of accident. To
do this is the business of ideal art, whether in images of childhood,
youth, or age, in man or in woman. Hence a good portrait is the abstract
of the personal; it is not the likeness for actual comparison, but for
recollection. This explains why the likeness of a very good portrait is
not always recognized; because some persons never abstract, and amongst
these are especially to be numbered the near relations and friends of
the subject, in consequence of the constant pressure and check exercised
on their minds by the actual presence of the original. And each thing
that only appears to live has also its possible position of relation to
life, as nature herself testifies, who, where she cannot be, prophecies
her being in the crystallized metal, or the inhaling plant.

The charm, the indispensable requisite, of sculpture is unity of effect.
But painting rests in a material remoter from nature, and its compass is
therefore greater. Light and shade give external, as well internal,
being even with all its accidents, whilst sculpture is confined to the
latter. And here I may observe that the subjects chosen for works of
art, whether in sculpture or painting, should be such as really are
capable of being expressed and conveyed within the limits of those arts.
Moreover they ought to be such as will affect the spectator by their
truth, their beauty, or their sublimity, and therefore they may be
addressed to the judgment, the senses, or the reason. The peculiarity of
the impression which they may make, may be derived either from colour
and form, or from proportion and fitness, or from the excitement of the
moral feelings; or all these maybe combined. Such works as do combine
these sources of effect must have the preference in dignity.

Imitation of the antique may be too exclusive, and may produce an
injurious effect on modern sculpture;--1st, generally, because such an
imitation cannot fail to have a tendency to keep the attention fixed on
externals rather than on the thought within;--2ndly, because,
accordingly, it leads the artist to rest satisfied with that which is
always imperfect, namely, bodily form, and circumscribes his views of
mental expression to the ideas of power and grandeur only;--3rdly,
because it induces an effort to combine together two incongruous things,
that is to say, modern feelings in antique forms;--4thly, because it
speaks in a language, as it were, learned and dead, the tones of which,
being unfamiliar, leave the common spectator cold and unimpressed;--and
lastly, because it necessarily causes a neglect of thoughts, emotions
and images of profounder interest and more exalted dignity, as motherly,
sisterly, and brotherly love, piety, devotion, the divine become
human,--the Virgin, the Apostle, the Christ. The artist's principle in
the statue of a great man should be the illustration of departed merit;
and I cannot but think that a skilful adoption of modern habiliments
would, in many instances, give a variety and force of effect which a
bigotted adherence to Greek or Roman costume precludes. It is, I
believe, from artists finding Greek models unfit for several important
modern purposes, that we see so many allegorical figures on monuments
and elsewhere. Painting was, as it were, a new art, and being unshackled
by old models it chose its own subjects, and took an eagle's flight. And
a new field seems opened for modern sculpture in the symbolical
expression of the ends of life, as in Guy's monument, Chantrey's
children in Worcester Cathedral, &c.

Architecture exhibits the greatest extent of the difference from nature
which may exist in works of art. It involves all the powers of design,
and is sculpture and painting inclusively. It shews the greatness of
man, and should at the same time teach him humility.

Music is the most entirely human of the fine arts, and has the fewest
'analoga' in nature. Its first delightfulness is simple accordance with
the ear; but it is an associated thing, and recalls the deep emotions of
the past with an intellectual sense of proportion. Every human feeling
is greater and larger than the exciting cause,--a proof, I think, that
man is designed for a higher state of existence; and this is deeply
implied in music in which there is always something more and beyond the
immediate expression.

With regard to works in all the branches of the fine arts, I may remark
that the pleasure arising from novelty must of course be allowed its due
place and weight. This pleasure consists in the identity of two opposite
elements, that is to say--sameness and variety. If in the midst of the
variety there be not some fixed object for the attention, the unceasing
succession of the variety will prevent the mind from observing the
difference of the individual objects; and the only thing remaining will
be the succession, which will then produce precisely the same effect as
sameness. This we experience when we let the trees or hedges pass before
the fixed eye during a rapid movement in a carriage, or on the other
hand, when we suffer a file of soldiers or ranks of men in procession to
go on before us without resting the eye on any one in particular. In
order to derive pleasure from the occupation of the mind, the principle
of unity must always be present, so that in the midst of the multeity
the centripetal force be never suspended, nor the sense be fatigued by
the predominance of the centrifugal force. This unity in multeity I have
elsewhere stated as the principle of beauty. It is equally the source of
pleasure in variety, and in fact a higher term including both. What is
the seclusive or distinguishing term between them?

Remember that there is a difference between form as proceeding, and
shape as superinduced;--the latter is either the death or the
imprisonment of the thing;--the former is its self-witnessing and
self-effected sphere of agency. Art would or should be the abridgment of
nature. Now the fulness of nature is without character, as water is
purest when without taste, smell, or colour; but this is the highest,
the apex only,--it is not the whole. The object of art is to give the
whole 'ad hominem'; hence each step of nature hath its ideal, and hence
the possibility of a climax up to the perfect form of a harmonized

To the idea of life victory or strife is necessary; as virtue consists
not simply in the absence of vices, but in the overcoming of them. So it
is in beauty. The sight of what is subordinated and conquered heightens
the strength and the pleasure; and this should be exhibited by the
artist either inclusively in his figure, or else out of it and beside it
to act by way of supplement and contrast. And with a view to this,
remark the seeming identity of body and mind in infants, and thence the
loveliness of the former; the commencing separation in boyhood, and the
struggle of equilibrium in youth: thence onward the body is first simply
indifferent; then demanding the translucency of the mind not to be worse
than indifferent; and finally all that presents the body as body
becoming almost of an excremental nature.



I have, I believe, formerly observed with regard to the character of the
governments of the East, that their tendency was despotic, that is,
towards unity; whilst that of the Greek governments, on the other hand,
leaned to the manifold and the popular, the unity in them being purely
ideal, namely of all as an identification of the whole. In the northern
or Gothic nations the aim and purpose of the government were the
preservation of the rights and interests of the individual in
conjunction with those of the whole. The individual interest was sacred.
In the character and tendency of the Greek and Gothic languages there is
precisely the same relative difference. In Greek the sentences are long,
and the structure architectural, so that each part or clause is
insignificant when compared with the whole. The result is every thing,
the steps and processes nothing. But in the Gothic and, generally, in
what we call the modern, languages, the structure is short, simple, and
complete in each part, and the connexion of the parts with the sum total
of the discourse is maintained by the sequency of the logic, or the
community of feelings excited between the writer and his readers. As an
instance equally delightful and complete, of what may be called the
Gothic structure as contra-distinguished from that of the Greeks, let me
cite a part of our famous Chaucer's character of a parish priest as he
should be. Can it ever be quoted too often?

A good man ther was of religioeun
That was a poure Parsone of a toun,
But riche he was of holy thought and werk;
He was also a lerned man, a clerk,
That Cristes gospel trewely wolde preche;
His parishens [1] devoutly wolde he teche;
Benigne he was, and wonder [2] diligent,
And in adversite ful patient,
And swiche [3] he was ypreved [4] often sithes [5];
Ful loth were him to cursen for his tithes,
But rather wolde he yeven [6] out of doute
Unto his poure parishens aboute
Of his offring, and eke of his substance;
He coude in litel thing have suffisance:
Wide was his parish, and houses fer asonder,
But he ne [7] left nought for no rain ne [8] thonder,
In sikenesse and in mischief to visite
The ferrest [9] in his parish moche and lite [10]
Upon his fete, and in his hand a staf:
This noble ensample to his shepe he yaf, [11]
That first he wrought, and afterward he taught,
Out of the gospel he the wordes caught,
And this figure he added yet thereto,
That if gold ruste, what should iren do.
He sette not his benefice to hire,
And lette [12] his shepe accombred [13] in the mire,
And ran unto London unto Seint Poules,
To seken him a chanterie for soules,
Or with a brotherhede to be withold,
But dwelt at home, and kepte wel his fold,
So that the wolf ne made it not miscarie:
He was a shepherd and no mercenarie;
And though he holy were and vertuous,
He was to sinful men not dispitous, [14]
Ne of his speche dangerous ne digne, [15]
But in his teching discrete and benigne,
To drawen folk to heven with fairenesse,
By good ensample was his besinesse;
But it were any persone obstinat,
What so he were of high or low estat,
Him wolde he snibben [16] sharply for the nones:
A better preest I trowe that no wher non is;
He waited after no pompe ne reverence,
He maked him no spiced conscience,
But Cristes love and his apostles' twelve
He taught, but first he folwed it himselve. [17]

[Footnote 1: Parishioners.] [Footnote 2: Wondrous.]

[Footnote 3: Such.] [Footnote 4: Proved.]

[Footnote 5: Times.] [Footnote 6: Give or have given.]

[Footnote 7: Not.] [Footnote 8: Nor.]

[Footnote 9: Farthest.] [Footnote 10: Great and small.]

[Footnote 11: Gave.] [Footnote 12: Left.]

[Footnote 13: Encumbered.] [Footnote 14: Despiteous.]

[Footnote 15: Proud.] [Footnote 16: Reprove.]

[Footnote: Prologue to Canterbury Tales.]

Such change as really took place in the style of our literature after
Chaucer's time is with difficulty perceptible, on account of the dearth
of writers, during the civil wars of the 15th century. But the
transition was not very great; and accordingly we find in Latimer and
our other venerable authors about the time of Edward VI. as in Luther,
the general characteristics of the earliest manner;--that is, every part
popular, and the discourse addressed to all degrees of intellect;--the
sentences short, the tone vehement, and the connexion of the whole
produced by honesty and singleness of purpose, intensity of passion, and
pervading importance of the subject.

Another and a very different species of style is that which was derived
from, and founded on, the admiration and cultivation of the classical
writers, and which was more exclusively addressed to the learned class
in society. I have previously mentioned Boccaccio as the original
Italian introducer of this manner, and the great models of it in English
are Hooker, Bacon, Milton, and Taylor, although it may be traced in many
other authors of that age. In all these the language is dignified but
plain, genuine English, although elevated and brightened by superiority
of intellect in the writer. Individual words themselves are always used
by them in their precise meaning, without either affectation or
slipslop. The letters and state papers of Sir Francis Walsingham are
remarkable for excellence in style of this description. In Jeremy Taylor
the sentences are often extremely long, and yet are generally so
perspicuous in consequence of their logical structure, that they require
no reperusal to be understood; and it is for the most part the same in
Milton and Hooker.

Take the following sentence as a specimen of the sort of style to which
I have been alluding:--

Concerning Faith, the principal object whereof is that eternal verity
which hath discovered the treasures of hidden wisdom in Christ;
concerning Hope, the highest object whereof is that everlasting
goodness which in Christ doth quicken the dead; concerning Charity,
the final object whereof is that incomprehensible beauty which shineth
in the countenance of Christ, the Son of the living God: concerning
these virtues, the first of which beginning here with a weak
apprehension of things not seen, endeth with the intuitive vision of
God in the world to come; the second beginning here with a trembling
expectation of things far removed, and as yet but only heard of,
endeth with real and actual fruition of that which no tongue can
express; the third beginning here with a weak inclination of heart
towards him unto whom we are not able to approach, endeth with endless
union, the mystery whereof is higher than the reach of the thoughts of
men; concerning that Faith, Hope, and Charity, without which there can
be no salvation, was there ever any mention made saving only in that
Law which God himself hath from Heaven revealed? There is not in the
world a syllable muttered with certain truth concerning any of these
three, more than hath been supernaturally received from the mouth of
the eternal God.

Eccles. 'Pol.' I. s. 11.

The unity in these writers is produced by the unity of the subject, and
the perpetual growth and evolution of the thoughts, one generating, and
explaining, and justifying, the place of another, not, as it is in
Seneca, where the thoughts, striking as they are, are merely strung
together like beads, without any causation or progression. The words are
selected because they are the most appropriate, regard being had to the
dignity of the total impression, and no merely big phrases are used
where plain ones would have sufficed, even in the most learned of their

There is some truth in a remark, which I believe was made by Sir Joshua
Reynolds, that the greatest man is he who forms the taste of a nation,
and that the next greatest is he who corrupts it. The true classical
style of Hooker and his fellows was easily open to corruption; and Sir
Thomas Brown it was, who, though a writer of great genius, first
effectually injured the literary taste of the nation by his introduction
of learned words, merely because they were learned. It would be
difficult to describe Brown adequately; exuberant in conception and
conceit, dignified, hyperlatinistic, a quiet and sublime enthusiast; yet
a fantast, a humourist, a brain with a twist; egotistic like Montaigne,
yet with a feeling heart and an active curiosity, which, however, too
often degenerates into a hunting after oddities. In his
'Hydriotaphia' and, indeed, almost all his works the entireness of
his mental action is very observable; he metamorphoses every thing, be
it what it may, into the subject under consideration. But Sir Thomas
Brown with all his faults had a genuine idiom; and it is the existence
of an individual idiom in each, that makes the principal writers before
the Restoration the great patterns or integers of English style. In them
the precise intended meaning of a word can never be mistaken; whereas in
the later writers, as especially in Pope, the use of words is for the
most part purely arbitrary, so that the context will rarely show the
true specific sense, but only that something of the sort is designed. A
perusal of the authorities cited by Johnson in his dictionary under any
leading word, will give you a lively sense of this declension in
etymological truth of expression in the writers after the Restoration,
or perhaps, strictly, after the middle of the reign of Charles II.

The general characteristic of the style of our literature down to the
period which I have just mentioned, was gravity, and in Milton and some
other writers of his day there are perceptible traces of the sternness
of republicanism. Soon after the Restoration a material change took
place, and the cause of royalism was graced, sometimes disgraced, by
every shade of lightness of manner. A free and easy style was considered
as a test of loyalty, or at all events, as a badge of the cavalier
party; you may detect it occasionally even in Barrow, who is, however,
in general remarkable for dignity and logical sequency of expression;
but in L'Estrange, Collyer, and the writers of that class, this easy
manner was carried out to the utmost extreme of slang and ribaldry. Yet
still the works, even of these last authors, have considerable merit in
one point of view; their language is level to the understandings of all
men; it is an actual transcript of the colloquialism of the day, and is
accordingly full of life and reality. Roger North's life of his brother
the Lord Keeper, is the most valuable specimen of this class of our
literature; it is delightful, and much beyond any other of the writings
of his contemporaries.

From the common opinion that the English style attained its greatest
perfection in and about Queen Ann's reign I altogether dissent; not only
because it is in one species alone in which it can be pretended that the
writers of that age excelled their predecessors, but also because the
specimens themselves are not equal, upon sound principles of judgment,
to much that had been produced before. The classical structure of
Hooker--the impetuous, thought-agglomerating, flood of Taylor--to these
there is no pretence of a parallel; and for mere ease and grace, is
Cowley inferior to Addison, being as he is so much more thoughtful and
full of fancy? Cowley, with the omission of a quaintness here and there,
is probably the best model of style for modern imitation in general.
Taylor's periods have been frequently attempted by his admirers; you
may, perhaps, just catch the turn of a simile or single image, but to
write in the real manner of Jeremy Taylor would require as mighty a mind
as his. Many parts of Algernon Sidney's treatises afford excellent
exemplars of a good modern practical style; and Dryden in his prose
works, is a still better model, if you add a stricter and purer grammar.
It is, indeed, worthy of remark that all our great poets have been good
prose writers, as Chaucer, Spenser, Milton; and this probably arose from
their just sense of metre. For a true poet will never confound verse and
prose; whereas it is almost characteristic of indifferent prose writers
that they should be constantly slipping into scraps of metre. Swift's
style is, in its line, perfect; the manner is a complete expression of
the matter, the terms appropriate, and the artifice concealed. It is
simplicity in the true sense of the word.

After the Revolution, the spirit of the nation became much more
commercial, than it had been before; a learned body, or clerisy, as
such, gradually disappeared, and literature in general began to be
addressed to the common miscellaneous public. That public had become
accustomed to, and required, a strong stimulus; and to meet the
requisitions of the public taste, a style was produced which by
combining triteness of thought with singularity and excess of manner of
expression, was calculated at once to soothe ignorance and to flatter
vanity. The thought was carefully kept down to the immediate
apprehension of the commonest understanding, and the dress was as
anxiously arranged for the purpose of making the thought appear
something very profound. The essence of this style consisted in a mock
antithesis, that is, an opposition of mere sounds, in a rage for
personification, the abstract made animate, far-fetched metaphors,
strange phrases, metrical scraps, in every thing, in short, but genuine
prose. Style is, of course, nothing else but the art of conveying the
meaning appropriately and with perspicuity, whatever that meaning may
be, and one criterion of style is that it shall not be translateable
without injury to the meaning. Johnson's style has pleased many from the
very fault of being perpetually translateable; he creates an impression
of cleverness by never saying any thing in a common way. The best
specimen of this manner is in Junius, because his antithesis is less
merely verbal than Johnson's. Gibbon's manner is the worst of all; it
has every fault of which this peculiar style is capable. Tacitus is an
example of it in Latin; in coming from Cicero you feel the
'falsetto' immediately.

In order to form a good style, the primary rule and condition is, not to
attempt to express ourselves in language before we thoroughly know our
own meaning;--when a man perfectly understands himself, appropriate
diction will generally be at his command either in writing or speaking.
In such cases the thoughts and the words are associated. In the next
place preciseness in the use of terms is required, and the test is
whether you can translate the phrase adequately into simpler terms,
regard being had to the feeling of the whole passage. Try this upon
Shakspeare, or Milton, and see if you can substitute other simpler words
in any given passage without a violation of the meaning or tone. The
source of bad writing is the desire to be something more than a man of
sense,--the straining to be thought a genius; and it is just the same in
speech making. If men would only say what they have to say in plain
terms, how much more eloquent they would be! Another rule is to avoid
converting mere abstractions into persons. I believe you will very
rarely find in any great writer before the Revolution the possessive
case of an inanimate noun used in prose instead of the dependent case,
as 'the watch's hand,' for 'the hand of the watch.' The possessive or
Saxon genitive was confined to persons, or at least to animated
subjects. And I cannot conclude this Lecture without insisting on the
importance of accuracy of style as being near akin to veracity and
truthful habits of mind; he who thinks loosely will write loosely, and,
perhaps, there is some moral inconvenience in the common forms of our
grammars which give children so many obscure terms for material
distinctions. Let me also exhort you to careful examination of what you
read, if it be worth any perusal at all; such examination will be a
safeguard from fanaticism, the universal origin of which is in the
contemplation of phenomena without investigation into their causes.


Strong feeling and an active intellect conjoined, lead almost
necessarily, in the first stage of philosophising, to Spinosism. Sir T.
Brown was a Spinosist without knowing it.

If I have not quite all the faith that the author of the 'Religio Medici'
possessed, I have all the inclination to it; it gives me pleasure to

The postscript at the very end of the book is well worth reading. Sir K.
Digby's observations, however, are those of a pedant in his own system
and opinion. He ought to have considered the R. M. in a dramatic, and
not in a metaphysical, view, as a sweet exhibition of character and
passion, and not as an expression, or investigation, of positive truth.
The R. M. is a fine portrait of a handsome man in his best clothes; it
is much of what he was at all times, a good deal of what he was only in
his best moments. I have never read a book in which I felt greater
similarity to my own make of mind--active in inquiry, and yet with an
appetite to believe--in short an affectionate visionary! But then I
should tell a different tale of my own heart; for I would not only
endeavour to tell the truth, (which I doubt not Sir T. B. has done), but
likewise to tell the whole truth, which most assuredly he has not done.
However, it is a most delicious book. His own character was a fine
mixture of humourist, genius, and pedant. A library was a living world
to him, and every book a man, absolute flesh and blood! and the gravity
with which he records contradictory opinions is exquisite.

(Part 1. sect. 9.)
Now contrarily, I bless myself, and am thankful that I lived not in
the days of miracles, that I never saw Christ nor his disciples, &c.

So say I.

(S. 15.)
I could never content my contemplation with those general pieces of
wonder, the flux and reflux of the sea, the increase of Nile, the
conversion of the needle to the north; and have studied to match and
parallel those in the more obvious and neglected pieces of nature;
which without further travel I can do in the cosmography of myself; we
carry with us the wonders we seek without us. There is all Africa and
her prodigies in us; we are that bold and adventurous piece of nature,
which he that studies wisely learns in a 'compendium' what others
labour at in a divided piece and endless volume.

This is the true characteristic of genius; our destiny and instinct is
to unriddle the world, and he is the man of genius who feels this
instinct fresh and strong in his nature; who perceiving the riddle and
the mystery of all things even the commonest, needs no strange and
out-of-the-way tales or images to stimulate him into wonder and a deep

(S. 16, 17.)
All this is very fine philosophy, and the best and most ingenious
defence of revelation. Moreover, I do hold and believe that a toad is
a comely animal; but nevertheless a toad is called ugly by almost all
men, and it is the business of a philosopher to explain the reason of

S. 19. This is exceedingly striking. Had Sir T. B. lived now-a-days, he
would probably have been a very ingenious and bold infidel in his real
opinions, though the kindness of his nature would have kept him aloof
from vulgar prating obtrusive infidelity.

S. 35. An excellent burlesque on parts of the Schoolmen, though I
believe an unintentional one.

S. 36. Truly sublime--and in Sir T. B.'s very best manner.

S. 39. This is a most admirable passage. Yes,--the history of a man for
the nine months preceding his birth, would, probably, be far more
interesting, and contain events of greater moment than all the three
score and ten years that follow it.

(S. 48.)
This is made good by experience, which can from the ashes of a plant
revive the plant, and from its cinders recall it into its stalks and
leaves again.

Stuff. This was, I believe, some lying boast of Paracelsus, which the
good Sir T. B. has swallowed for a fact.

(Part II. s. 2.)
I give no alms to satisfy the hunger of my brother, but to fulfil and
accomplish the will and command of my God.

We ought not to relieve a poor man merely because our own feelings impel
us, but because these feelings are just and proper feelings. My feelings
might impel me to revenge with the same force with which they urge me to
charity. I must therefore have some rule by which I may judge my
feelings,--and this rule is God's will.

(S. 5, 6.)
I never yet cast a true affection on a woman; but I have loved my
friend as I do virtue, my soul, my God.

We cannot love a friend as a woman; but we may love a woman as a friend.
Friendship satisfies the highest parts of our nature; but a wife, who is
capable of friendship, satisfies all. The great business of real
unostentatious virtue is--not to eradicate any genuine instinct or
appetite of human nature; but--to establish a concord and unity betwixt
all parts of our nature, to give a feeling and a passion to our purer
intellect, and to intellectualize our feelings and passions. This a
happy marriage, blest with children, effectuates in the highest degree,
of which our nature is capable, and is therefore chosen by St. Paul as
the symbol of the union of the church with Christ; that is, of the souls
of all good men with God. "I scarcely distinguish," said once a good old
man, "the wife of my old age from the wife of my youth; for when we were
both young, and she was beautiful, for once that I caressed her with a
meaner passion, I caressed her a thousand times with love--and these
caresses still remain to us." Besides, there is another reason why
friendship is of somewhat less value than love, which includes
friendship, it is this--we may love many persons, all very dearly; but
we cannot love many persons all equally dearly. There will be
differences, there will be gradations. But our nature imperiously asks a
summit, a resting-place; it is with the affections in love as with the
reason in religion, we cannot diffuse and equalize; we must have a
supreme, a one, the highest. What is more common than to say of a man in
love, 'he idolizes her,' 'he makes a god of her?' Now, in order that a
person should continue to love another better than all others, it seems
necessary, that this feeling should be reciprocal. For if it be not so,
sympathy is broken off in the very highest point. A. (we will say by way
of illustration) loves B. above all others, in the best and fullest
sense of the word, love, but B. loves C. above all others. Either,
therefore, A. does not sympathize with B. in this most important
feeling; and then his love must necessarily be incomplete, and
accompanied with a craving after something that is not, and yet might
be; or he does sympathize with B. in loving C. above all others--and
then, of course, he loves C. better than B. Now it is selfishness, at
least it seems so to me, to desire that your friend should love you
better than all others--but not to wish that a wife should.

(S. 6.)
Another misery there is in affection, that whom we truly love like
ourselves, we forget their looks, nor can our memory retain the idea
of their faces; and it is no wonder: for they are ourselves, and our
affection makes their looks our own.

A thought I have often had, and once expressed it in almost the same
language. The fact is certain, but the explanation here given is very
unsatisfactory. For why do we never have an image of our own faces--an
image of fancy, I mean?

(S. 7.)
I can hold there is no such thing as injury; that if there be, there
is no such injury as revenge, and no such revenge as the contempt of
an injury; that to hate another, is to malign himself, and that the
truest way to love another is to despise ourselves.

I thank God that I can, with a full and unfeigning heart, utter Amen to
this passage.

(S. 10.)
In brief, there can be nothing truly alone, and by itself, which is
not truly one; and such is only God.

Reciprocity is that which alone gives stability to love. It is not mere
selfishness that impels all kind natures to desire that there should be
some one human being, to whom they are most dear. It is because they
wish some one being to exist, who shall be the resting place and summit
of their love; and this in human nature is not possible, unless the two
affections coincide. The reason is, that the object of the highest love
will not otherwise be the same in both parties.

(S. 11.)
I thank God for my happy dreams, &c.

I am quite different from Sir T. B. in this; for all, or almost all, the
painful and fearful thoughts that I know, are in my dreams;--so much so,
that when I am wounded by a friend, or receive an unpleasant letter, it
throws me into a state very nearly resembling that of a dream.

(S. 13.)
Statists that labour to contrive a commonwealth without any poverty,
take away the object of our charity, not only not understanding the
commonwealth of a Christian, but forgetting the prophecies of Christ.

O, for shame! for shame! Is there no fit object of charity but abject
poverty? And what sort of a charity must that be which wishes misery
in order that it may have the credit of relieving a small part of
it,--pulling down the comfortable cottages of independent industry to
build alms-houses out of the ruins!

This book paints certain parts of my moral and intellectual being, (the
best parts, no doubt,) better than any other book I have ever met
with;--and the style is throughout delicious.

[Footnote 1: Communicated by Mr. Wordsworth. Ed.]


'Stat nominis umbra'.

As he never dropped the mask, so he too often used the poisoned dagger
of an assassin.

'Dedication to the English nation'.

The whole of this dedication reads like a string of aphorisms arranged
in chapters, and classified by a resemblance of subject, or a cento of

If an honest, and I may truly affirm a laborious, zeal for the public
service has given me any weight in your esteem, let me exhort and
conjure you never to suffer an invasion of your political
constitution, however minute the instance may appear, to pass by,
without a determined persevering resistance.

A longer sentence and proportionately inelegant.

If you reflect that in the changes of administration which have marked
and disgraced the present reign, although your warmest patriots have,
in their turn, been invested with the lawful and unlawful authority of
the crown, and though other reliefs or improvements have been held
forth to the people, yet that no one man in office has ever promoted
or encouraged a bill for shortening the duration of parliaments, but
that (whoever was minister) the opposition to this measure, ever since
the septennial act passed, has been constant and uniform on the part
of government.

Long, and as usual, inelegant. Junius cannot manage a long sentence; it
has all the 'ins' and 'outs' of a snappish figure-dance.


An excellent preface, and the sentences not so snipt as in the
dedication. The paragraph near the conclusion beginning with "some
opinion may now be expected," &c. and ending with "relation between
guilt and punishment," deserves to be quoted as a master-piece of
rhetorical ratiocination in a series of questions that permit no answer;
or (as Junius says) carry their own answer along with them. The great
art of Junius is never to say too much, and to avoid with equal anxiety
a commonplace manner, and matter that is not commonplace. If ever he
deviates into any originality of thought, he takes care that it shall be
such as excites surprise for its acuteness, rather than admiration for
its profundity. He takes care? say rather, that nature took care for
him. It is impossible to detract from the merit of these Letters: they
are suited to their purpose, and perfect in their kind. They impel to
action, not thought. Had they been profound or subtle in thought, or
majestic and sweeping in composition, they would have been adapted for
the closet of a Sidney, or for a House of Lords such as it was in the
time of Lord Bacon; but they are plain and sensible whenever the author
is in the right, and whether right or wrong, always shrewd and
epigrammatic, and fitted for the coffee-house, the exchange, the lobby
of the House of Commons, and to be read aloud at a public meeting. When
connected, dropping the forms of connection, desultory without
abruptness or appearance of disconnection, epigrammatic and antithetical
to excess, sententious and personal, regardless of right or wrong, yet
well-skilled to act the part of an honest warm-hearted man, and even
when he is in the right, saying the truth but never proving it, much
less attempting to bottom it,--this is the character of Junius;--and on
this character, and in the mould of these writings must every man cast
himself, who would wish in factious times to be the important and long
remembered agent of a faction. I believe that I could do all that Junius
has done, and surpass him by doing many things which he has not done:
for example,--by an occasional induction of startling facts, in the
manner of Tom Paine, and lively illustrations and witty applications of
good stories and appropriate anecdotes in the manner of Horne Tooke. I
believe I could do it if it were in my nature to aim at this sort of
excellence, or to be enamoured of the fame, and immediate influence,
which would be its consequence and reward. But it is not in my nature. I
not only love truth, but I have a passion for the legitimate
investigation of truth. The love of truth conjoined with a keen delight
in a strict and skillful yet impassioned argumentation, is my
master-passion, and to it are subordinated even the love of liberty and
all my public feelings--and to it whatever I labour under of vanity,
ambition, and all my inward impulses.

Letter I. From this Letter all the faults and excellencies of Junius
may be exemplified. The moral and political aphorisms are just and
sensible, the irony in which his personal satire is conveyed is fine,
yet always intelligible; but it approaches too nearly to the nature of a
sneer; the sentences are cautiously constructed without the forms of
connection; the 'he' and 'it' everywhere substituted for the
'who' and 'which'; the sentences are short, laboriously
balanced, and the antitheses stand the test of analysis much better than
Johnson's. These are all excellencies in their kind;--where is the
defect? In this;--there is too much of each, and there is a defect of
many things, the presence of which would have been not only valuable for
their own sakes, but for the relief and variety which they would have
given. It is observable too that every Letter adds to the faults of
these Letters, while it weakens the effect of their beauties.

L. III. A capital letter, addressed to a private person, and intended as
a sharp reproof for intrusion. Its short sentences, its witty
perversions and deductions, its questions and omissions of connectives,
all in their proper places, are dramatically good.

(L. V.)
For my own part, I willingly leave it to the public to determine
whether your vindication of your friend has been as able and judicious
as it was certainly well intended; and you, I think, may be satisfied
with the warm acknowledgements he already owes you for making him the
principal figure in a piece in which, but for your amicable
assistance, he might have passed without particular notice or

A long sentence and, as usual, inelegant and cumbrous. This Letter is a
faultless composition with exception of the one long sentence.

(L. VII.)
These are the gloomy companions of a disturbed 'imagination'; the
melancholy madness of poetry, without the 'inspiration'.

The rhyme is a fault. 'Fancy' had been better; though but for the rhyme,
imagination is the fitter word.

Such a question might perhaps discompose the gravity of his muscles,
but I believe it would little affect the tranquillity of his

A false antithesis, a mere verbal balance; there are far, far too many
of these. However, with these few exceptions, this Letter is a blameless
composition. Junius may be safely studied as a model for letters where
he truly writes letters. Those to the Duke of Grafton and others, are
small pamphlets in the form of letters.

(L. VIII.)
To do justice to your Grace's humanity, you felt for Mac Quick as you
ought to do; and, if you had been contented to assist him indirectly,
without a notorious denial of justice, or openly insulting the sense
of the nation, you might have satisfied every duty of political
friendship, without committing the honour of your sovereign, or
hazarding the reputation of his government.

An inelegant cluster of 'withouts'. Junius asks questions
incomparably well;--but 'ne quid nimis'.

L. IX. Perhaps the fair way of considering these Letters would be as a
kind of satirical poems; the short, and for ever balanced, sentences
constitute a true metre; and the connection is that of satiric poetry, a
witty logic, an association of thoughts by amusing semblances of cause
and effect, the sophistry of which the reader has an interest in not

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