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Literary Remains, Vol. 2 by Coleridge

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population? And what stronger prevention could the ingenuity of the
priestly kings--(for the priestly is ever the first form of
government)--devise, than to have made the ox or cow the representatives
of the divine principle in the world, and, as such, an object of
adoration, the wilful destruction of which was sacrilege?--For this
rendered a return to the pastoral state impossible; in which the flesh
of these animals and the milk formed almost the exclusive food of
mankind; while, in the meantime, by once compelling and habituating men
to the use of a vegetable diet, it enforced the laborious cultivation of
the soil, and both produced and permitted a vast and condensed
population. In the process and continued subdivisions of polytheism,
this great sacred Word,--for so the consecrated animals were called,
[Greek (transliterated): ieroi logoi,]--became multiplied, till almost
every power and supposed attribute of nature had its symbol in some
consecrated animal from the beetle to the hawk. Wherever the powers of
nature had found a cycle for themselves, in which the powers still
produced the same phenomenon during a given period, whether in the
motions of the heavenly orbs, or in the smallest living organic body,
there the Egyptian sages predicated life and mind. Time, cyclical time,
was their abstraction of the deity, and their holidays were their gods.

The diversity between theism and pantheism may be most simply and
generally expressed in the following 'formula', in which the material
universe is expressed by W, and the deity by G.


or the World without God is an impossible conception. This position is
common to theist and pantheist. But the pantheist adds the converse--


for which the theist substitutes--


or that--

G=G, anterior and irrelative to the existence of the world, is equal to
G+W. [2]

'Before the mountains were, Thou art.'--I am not about to lead the
society beyond the bounds of my subject into divinity or theology in the
professional sense. But without a precise definition of pantheism,
without a clear insight into the essential distinction between it and
the theism of the Scriptures, it appears to me impossible to understand
either the import or the history of the polytheism of the great
historical nations. I beg leave, therefore, to repeat, and to carry on
my former position, that the religion of Egypt, at the time of the
Exodus of the Hebrews, was a pantheism, on the point of passing into
that polytheism, of which it afterwards afforded a specimen, gross and
distasteful even to polytheists themselves of other nations.

The objects which, on my appointment as Royal Associate of the Royal
Society of Literature, I proposed to myself were,

1st. The elucidation of the purpose of the Greek drama, and the
relations in which it stood to the mysteries on the one hand, and to the
state or sacerdotal religion on the other:--

2nd. The connection of the Greek tragic poets with philosophy as the
peculiar offspring of Greek genius:--

3rd. The connection of the Homeric and cyclical poets with the popular
religion of the Greeks: and,

lastly from all these,--namely, the mysteries, the sacerdotal religion,
their philosophy before and after Socrates, the stage, the Homeric
poetry and the legendary belief of the people, and from the sources and
productive causes in the derivation and confluence of the tribes that
finally shaped themselves into a nation of Greeks--to give a juster and
more distinct view of this singular people, and of the place which they
occupied in the history of the world, and the great scheme of divine
providence, than I have hitherto seen,--or rather let me say, than it
appears to me possible to give by any other process.

The present Essay, however, I devote to the purpose of removing, or at
least invalidating, one objection that I may reasonably anticipate, and
which may be conveyed in the following question:--What proof have you of
the fact of any connection between the Greek drama, and either the
mysteries, or the philosophy, of Greece? What proof that it was the
office of the tragic poet, under a disguise of the sacerdotal religion,
mixed with the legendary or popular belief, to reveal as much of the
mysteries interpreted by philosophy, as would counteract the
demoralizing effects of the state religion, without compromising the
tranquillity of the state itself, or weakening that paramount reverence,
without which a republic, (such I mean, as the republics of ancient
Greece were) could not exist?

I know no better way in which I can reply to this objection, than by
giving, as my proof and instance, the Prometheus of AEschylus,
accompanied with an exposition of what I believe to be the intention of
the poet, and the mythic import of the work; of which it may be truly
said, that it is more properly tragedy itself in the plenitude of the
idea, than a particular tragic poem; and as a preface to this
exposition, and for the twin purpose of rendering it intelligible, and
of explaining its connexion with the whole scheme of my Essays, I
entreat permission to insert a quotation from a work of my own, which
has indeed been in print for many years, but which few of my auditors
will probably have heard of, and still fewer, if any, have read.

"As the representative of the youth and approaching manhood of the
human intellect we have ancient Greece, from Orpheus, Linus, Musaeus,
and the other mythological bards, or, perhaps, the brotherhoods
impersonated under those names, to the time when the republics lost
their independence, and their learned men sank into copyists of, and
commentators on, the works of their forefathers. That we include these
as educated under a distinct providential, though not miraculous,
dispensation, will surprise no one, who reflects, that in whatever has
a permanent operation on the destinies and intellectual condition of
mankind at large,--that in all which has been manifestly employed as a
co-agent in the mightiest revolution of the moral world, the
propagation of the Gospel, and in the intellectual progress of mankind
in the restoration of philosophy, science, and the ingenuous arts--it
were irreligion not to acknowledge the hand of divine providence. The
periods, too, join on to each other. The earliest Greeks took up the
religious and lyrical poetry of the Hebrews; and the schools of the
prophets were, however partially and imperfectly, represented by the
mysteries derived through the corrupt channel of the Phoenicians. With
these secret schools of physiological theology, the mythical poets
were doubtless in connexion, and it was these schools which prevented
polytheism from producing all its natural barbarizing effects. The
mysteries and the mythical hymns and paeans shaped themselves gradually
into epic poetry and history on the one hand, and into the ethical
tragedy and philosophy on the other. Under their protection, and that
of a youthful liberty, secretly controlled by a species of internal
theocracy, the sciences, and the sterner kinds of the fine arts, that
is, architecture and statuary, grew up together, followed, indeed, by
painting, but a statuesque, and austerely idealized, painting, which
did not degenerate into mere copies of the sense, till the process for
which Greece existed had been completed."[3]

The Greeks alone brought forth philosophy in the proper and
contra-distinguishable sense of the term, which we may compare to the
coronation medal with its symbolic characters, as contrasted with the
coins, issued under the same sovereign, current in the market. In the
primary sense, philosophy had for its aim and proper subject the [Greek
(transliterated): ta peri arch_on], 'de originibus rerum', as far as man
proposes to discover the same in and by the pure reason alone. This, I
say, was the offspring of Greece, and elsewhere adopted only. The
predisposition appears in their earliest poetry.

The first object, (or subject matter) of Greek philosophizing was in
some measure philosophy itself;--not, indeed, as the product, but as the
producing power--the productivity. Great minds turned inward on the fact
of the diversity between man and beast; a superiority of kind in
addition to that of degree; the latter, that is, the difference in
degree comprehending the more enlarged sphere and the multifold
application of faculties common to man and brute animals;--even this
being in great measure a transfusion from the former, namely, from the
superiority in kind;--for only by its co-existence with reason, free
will, self-consciousness, the contra-distinguishing attributes of man,
does the instinctive intelligence manifested in the ant, the dog, the
elephant, &c. become human understanding. It is a truth with which
Heraclitus, the senior, but yet contemporary, of AEschylus, appears, from
the few genuine fragments of his writings that are yet extant, to have
been deeply impressed,--that the mere understanding in man, considered
as the power of adapting means to immediate purposes, differs, indeed,
from the intelligence displayed by other animals, and not in degree
only; but yet does not differ by any excellence which it derives from
itself, or by any inherent diversity, but solely in consequence of a
combination with far higher powers of a diverse kind in one and the same

Long before the entire separation of metaphysics from poetry, that is,
while yet poesy, in all its several species of verse, music, statuary,
&c. continued mythic;--while yet poetry remained the union of the
sensuous and the philosophic mind;--the efficient presence of the latter
in the 'synthesis' of the two, had manifested itself in the sublime
'mythus peri geneseos tou nou en anthropois' concerning the 'genesis',
or birth of the 'nous' or reason in man. This the most venerable, and
perhaps the most ancient, of Grecian 'myth', is a philosopheme, the very
same in subject matter with the earliest record of the Hebrews, but most
characteristically different in tone and conception;--for the
patriarchal religion, as the antithesis of pantheism, was necessarily
personal; and the doctrines of a faith, the first ground of which and
the primary enunciation, is the eternal I AM, must be in part historic
and must assume the historic form. Hence the Hebrew record is a
narrative, and the first instance of the fact is given as the origin of
the fact.

That a profound truth--a truth that is, indeed, the grand and
indispensable condition of all moral responsibility--is involved in this
characteristic of the sacred narrative, I am not alone persuaded, but
distinctly aware. This, hovever, does not preclude us from seeing, nay,
as an additional mark of the wisdom that inspired the sacred historian,
it rather supplies a motive to us, impels and authorizes us, to see, in
the form of the vehicle of the truth, an accommodation to the then
childhood of the human race. Under this impression we may, I trust,
safely consider the narration,--introduced, as it is here introduced,
for the purpose of explaining a mere work of the unaided mind of man by
comparison,--as an [Greek (transliterated): eros hierogluphikon],--and
as such (apparently, I mean, not actually) a 'synthesis' of poesy and
philosophy, characteristic of the childhood of nations.

In the Greek we see already the dawn of approaching manhood. The
substance, the stuff, is philosophy; the form only is poetry. The
Prometheus is a _philosophema_ [Greek (transliterated): tautaegorikon],
--the tree of knowledge of good and evil,--an allegory, a [Greek
(transliterated): propaideuma], though the noblest and the most pregnant
of its kind.

The generation of the [Greek (transliterated): nous], or pure reason in

1. It was superadded or infused, 'a supra' to mark that it was no mere
evolution of the animal basis;--that it could not have grown out of the
other faculties of man, his life, sense, understanding, as the flower
grows out of the stem, having pre-existed potentially in the seed:

2. The [Greek: nous], or fire, was 'stolen,'--to mark its 'helero'--or
rather its 'allo'-geneity, that is, its diversity, its difference in
kind, from the faculties which are common to man with the nobler

3. And stolen 'from Heaven,'--to mark its superiority in kind, as well
as its essential diversity:

4. And it was a 'spark,'--to mark that it is not subject to any
modifying reaction from that on which it immediately acts; that it
suffers no change, and receives no accession, from the inferior, but
multiplies it-self by conversion, without being alloyed by, or
amalgamated with, that which it potentiates, ennobles, and transmutes:

5. And lastly, (in order to imply the homogeneity of the donor and of
the gift) it was stolen by a 'god,' and a god of the race before the
dynasty of Jove,--Jove the binder of reluctant powers, the coercer arid
entrancer of free spirits under the fetters of shape, and mass, and
passive mobility; but likewise by a god of the same race and essence
with Jove, and linked of yore in closest and friendliest intimacy with
him. This, to mark the pre-existence, in order of thought, of the
'nous', as spiritual, both to the objects of sense, and to their
products, formed as it were, by the precipitation, or, if I may dare
adopt the bold language of Leibnitz, by a coagulation of spirit. In
other words this derivation of the spark from above, and from a god
anterior to the Jovial dynasty--(that is, to the submersion of spirits
in material forms),--was intended to mark the transcendancy of the
'nous', the contra-distinctive faculty of man, as timeless, [Greek
(transliterated): achronon ti,] and, in this negative sense, eternal. It
signified, I say, its superiority to, and its diversity from, all things
that subsist in space and time, nay, even those which, though spaceless,
yet partake of time, namely, souls or understandings. For the soul, or
understanding, if it be defined physiologically as the principle of
sensibility, irritability, and growth, together with the functions of
the organs, which are at once the representatives and the instruments of
these, must be considered 'in genere', though not in degree or dignity,
common to man and the inferior animals. It was the spirit, the 'nous',
which man alone possessed. And I must be permitted to suggest that this
notion deserves some respect, were it only that it can shew a semblance,
at least, of sanction from a far higher authority.

The Greeks agreed with the cosmogonies of the East in deriving all
sensible forms from the indistinguishable. The latter we find designated
as the [Greek: to amorphon], the [Greek: hudor prokosmikon], the [Greek:
chaos], as the essentially unintelligible, yet necessarily presumed,
basis or sub-position of all positions. That it is, scientifically
considered, an indispensable idea for the human mind, just as the
mathematical point, &c. for the geometrician;--of this the various
systems of our geologists and cosmogonists, from Burnet to La Place,
afford strong presumption. As an idea, it must be interpreted as a
striving of the mind to distinguish being from existence,--or potential
being, the ground of being containing the possibility of existence, from
being actualized. In the language of the mysteries, it was the
'esurience', the [Greek: pothos] or 'desideratum', the unfuelled fire,
the Ceres, the ever-seeking maternal goddess, the origin and
interpretation of whose name is found in the Hebrew root signifying
hunger, and thence capacity. It was, in short, an effort to represent
the universal ground of all differences distinct or opposite, but in
relation to which all 'antithesis' as well as all 'antitheta', existed
only potentially. This was the container and withholder, (such is the
primitive sense of the Hebrew word rendered darkness (Gen. 1. 2.)) out
of which light, that is, the 'lux lucifica', as distinguished from
'lumen seu lux phaenomenalis', was produced;--say, rather, that which,
producing itself into light as the one pole or antagonist power,
remained in the other pole as darkness, that is, gravity, or the
principle of mass, or wholeness without distinction of parts.

And here the peculiar, the philosophic, genius of Greece began its f|tal
throb. Here it individualized itself in contra-distinction from the
Hebrew archology, on the one side, and from the Ph|nician, on the
other. The Ph|nician confounded the indistinguishable with the
absolute, the 'Alpha' and 'Omega', the ineffable 'causa sui'. It
confounded, I say, the multeity below intellect, that is, unintelligible
from defect of the subject, with the absolute identity above all
intellect, that is, transcending comprehension by the plenitude of its
excellence. With the Phoenician sages the cosmogony was their theogony
and 'vice versa'. Hence, too, flowed their theurgic rites, their magic,
their worship ('cultus et apotheosis') of the plastic forces, chemical
and vital, and these, or their notions respecting these, formed the
hidden meaning, the soul, as it were, of which the popular and civil
worship was the body with its drapery.

The Hebrew wisdom imperatively asserts an unbeginning creative One, who
neither became the world; nor is the world eternally; nor made the world
out of himself by emanation, or evolution;--but who willed it, and it
was! [Greek: Ta athea egeneto, kai egeneto chaos,]--and this chaos, the
eternal will, by the spirit and the word, or express 'fiat',--again
acting as the impregnant, distinctive, and ordonnant power,--enabled to
become a world--[Greek: kosmeisthai.] So must it be when a religion,
that shall preclude superstition on the one hand, and brute indifference
on the other, is to be true for the meditative sage, yet intelligible,
or at least apprehensible, for all but the fools in heart.

The Greek philosopheme, preserved for us in the AEschylean Prometheus,
stands midway betwixt both, yet is distinct in kind from either. With
the Hebrew or purer Semitic, it assumes an X Y Z,--(I take these letters
in their algebraic application)--an indeterminate 'Elohim', antecedent
to the matter of the world, [Greek: hulae akosmos]--no less than to the
[Greek: hulae kekosmaemenae.] In this point, likewise, the Greek
accorded with the Semitic, and differed from the Phoenician--that it
held the antecedent X Y Z to be super-sensuous and divine. But on the
other hand, it coincides with the Ph|nician in considering this
antecedent ground of corporeal matter,--[Greek: t_on s_omat_on kai tou
s_omatikou,]--not so properly the cause of the latter, as the occasion
and the still continuing substance. 'Maleria substat adliuc'. The
corporeal was supposed co-essential with the antecedent of its
corporeity. Matter, as distinguished from body, was a 'non ens', a simple
apparition, 'id quod mere videtur'; but to body the elder
physico-theology of the Greeks allowed a participation in entity. It was
'spiritus ipse, oppressus, dormiens, et diversis modis somnians'. In
short, body was the productive power suspended, and as it were, quenched
in the product. This may be rendered plainer by reflecting, that, in the
pure Semitic scheme there are four terms introduced in the solution of
the problem,

1. the beginning, self-sufficing, and immutable Creator;

2. the antecedent night as the identity, or including germ, of the light
and darkness, that is, gravity;

3. the chaos; and

4. the material world resulting from the powers communicated by the
divine 'fiat'. In the Phoenician scheme there are in fact but two--a
self-organizing chaos, and the omniforrn nature as the result. In the
Greek scheme we have three terms, 1. the 'hyle', [Greek: hulae], which
holds the place of the chaos, or the waters, in the true system; 2.
[Greek: ta s_omata], answering to the Mosaic heaven and earth; and 3. the
Saturnian [Greek: chronoi huperchonioi],--which answer to the antecedent
darkness of the Mosaic scheme, but to which the elder
physico-theologists attributed a self-polarizing power--a 'natura gemina
quae fit et facit, agit et patitur'. In other words, the 'Elohim' of the
Greeks were still but a 'natura deorum', [Greek: to theion], in which a
vague plurality adhered; or if any unity was imagined, it was not
personal--not a unity of excellence, but simply an expression of the
negative--that which was to pass, but which had not yet passed, into
distinct form.

All this will seem strange and obscure at first reading,--perhaps
fantastic. But it will only seem so. Dry and prolix, indeed, it is to me
in the writing, full as much as it can be to others in the attempt to
understand it. But I know that, once mastered, the idea will be the key
to the whole cypher of the AEschylean mythology. The sum stated in the
terms of philosophic logic is this: First, what Moses appropriated to
the chaos itself: what Moses made passive and a 'materia subjecta et
lucis et tenebrarum', the containing [Greek: prothemenon] of the
'thesis' and 'antithesis';--this the Greek placed anterior to the
chaos;--the chaos itself being the struggle between the 'hyperchronia',
the [Greek: ideai pronomoi], as the unevolved, unproduced, 'prothesis',
of which [Greek: idea kai nomos]--(idea and law)--are the 'thesis' and
'antithesis'. (I use the word 'produced' in the mathematical sense, as a
point elongating itself to a bipolar line.) Secondly, what Moses
establishes, not merely as a transcendant 'Monas', but as an individual
[Greek: Henas] likewise;--this the Greek took as a harmony, [Greek:
Theoi hathanatoi, to theion], as distinguished from [Greek: o
Theos]--or, to adopt the more expressive language of the Pythagoreans
and cabalists 'numen numerantis'; and these are to be contemplated as
the identity.

Now according to the Greek philosopheme or 'mythus', in these, or in
this identity, there arose a war, schism, or division, that is, a
polarization into thesis and antithesis. In consequence of this schism
in the [Greek: to theion], the 'thesis' becomes 'nomos', or law, and the
'antithesis' becomes 'idea', but so that the 'nomos' is 'nomos',
because, and only because, the 'idea' is 'idea': the 'nomos' is not
idea, only because the idea has not become 'nomos'. And this 'not' must
be heedfully borne in mind through the whole interpretation of this most
profound and pregnant philosopheme. The 'nomos' is essentially idea, but
existentially it is idea 'substans', that is, 'id quod stat subtus',
understanding 'sensu generalissimo'. The 'idea', which now is no longer
idea, has substantiated itself, become real as opposed to idea, and is
henceforward, therefore, 'substans in substantiato'. The first product
of its energy is the thing itself: 'ipsa se posuit et jam facta est ens
positum'. Still, however, its productive energy is not exhausted in this
product, but overflows, or is effluent, as the specific forces,
properties, faculties, of the product. It reappears, in short, in the
body, as the function of the body. As a sufficient illustration, though
it cannot be offered as a perfect instance, take the following.

'In the world we see every where evidences of a unity, which the
component parts are so far from explaining, that they necessarily
presuppose it as the cause and condition of their existing as those
parts, or even of their existing at all. This antecedent unity, or
cause and principle of each union, it has since the time of Bacon and
Kepler, been customary to call a law. This crocus, for instance, or
any flower the reader may have in sight or choose to bring before his
fancy;--that the root, stem, leaves, petals, &c. cohere as one plant,
is owing to an antecedent power or principle in the seed, which
existed before a single particle of the matters that constitute the
size and visibility of the crocus had been attracted from the
surrounding soil, air, and moisture. Shall we turn to the seed? Here
too the same necessity meets us, an antecedent unity (I speak not of
the parent plant, but of an agency antecedent in order of operance,
yet remaining present as the conservative and reproductive power,)
must here too be supposed. Analyze the seed with the finest tools, and
let the solar microscope come in aid of your senses,--what do you
find?--means and instruments, a wondrous fairy-tale of nature,
magazines of food, stores of various sorts, pipes, spiracles,
defences,--a house of many chambers, and the owner and inhabitant

Now, compare a plant, thus contemplated, with an animal. In the former,
the productive energy exhausts itself, and as it were, sleeps in the
product or 'organismus'--in its root, stem, foliage, blossoms, seed. Its
balsams, gums, resins, 'aromata', and all other bases of its sensible
qualities, are, it is well known, mere excretions from the vegetable,
eliminated, as lifeless, from the actual plant. The qualities are not
its properties, but the properties, or far rather, the dispersion and
volatilization of these extruded and rejected bases. But in the animal
it is otherwise. Here the antecedent unity--the productive and
self-realizing idea--strives, with partial success to re-emancipate
itself from its product, and seeks once again to become 'idea': vainly
indeed: for in order to this, it must be retrogressive, and it hath
subjected itself to the fates, the evolvers of the endless thread--to
the stern necessity of progression. 'Idea' itself it cannot become, but
it may in long and graduated process, become an image, an ANALOGON, an
anti-type of IDEA. And this [Greek: eid_olon] may approximate to a
perfect likeness. 'Quod est simile, nequit esse idem'. Thus, in the
lower animals, we see this process of emancipation commence with the
intermediate link, or that which forms the transition from properties to
faculties, namely, with sensation. Then the faculties of sense,
locomotion, construction, as, for instance, webs, hives, nests, &c. Then
the functions; as of instinct, memory, fancy, instinctive intelligence,
or understanding, as it exists in the most intelligent animals. Thus the
idea (henceforward no more idea, but irrecoverable by its own fatal act)
commences the process of its own transmutation, as 'substans in
substantiato', as the 'enteleche', or the 'vis formatrix', and it
finishes the process as 'substans e substantiato', that is, as the

If, for the purpose of elucidating this process, I might be allowed to
imitate the symbolic language of the algebraists, and thus to regard the
successive steps of the process as so many powers and dignities of the
'nomos' or law, the scheme would be represented thus [N^1 represents N
superscript 1, i.e. N to the power of 1. text Ed.]:--

Nomos^1 = Product:
N^2 = Property:
N^3 = Faculty:
N^4 = Function:
N^5 = Understanding;--

which is, indeed, in one sense, itself a 'nomos', inasmuch as it is the
index of the 'nomos', as well as its highest function; but, like the
hand of a watch, it is likewise a 'nomizomenon'. It is a verb, but still
a verb passive.

On the other hand, idea is so far co-essential with 'nomos', that by its
co-existence--(not confluence)--with the 'nomos' [Greek: hen
nomizomenois] (with the 'organismus' and its faculties and functions in
the man,) it becomes itself a 'nomos'. But, observe, a 'nomos
autonomos', or containing its law in itself likewise;--even as the
'nomos' produces for its highest product the understanding, so the idea,
in its opposition and, of course, its correspondence to the 'nomos',
begets in itself an 'analogon' to product; and this is
self-consciousness. But as the product can never become idea, so neither
can the idea (if it is to remain idea) become or generate a distinct
product. This 'analogon' of product is to be itself; but were it indeed
and substantially a product, it would cease to be self. It would be an
object for a subject, not (as it is and must be) an object that is its
own subject, and 'vice versa'; a conception which, if the uncombining
and infusile genius of our language allowed it, might be expressed by
the term subject-object. Now, idea, taken in indissoluble connection
with this 'analogon' of product is mind, that which knows itself, and
the existence of which may be inferred, but cannot appear or become a

By the benignity of Providence, the truths of most importance in
themselves, and which it most concerns us to know, are familiar to us,
even from childhood. Well for us if we do not abuse this privilege, and
mistake the familiarity of words which convey these truths for a clear
understanding of the truths themselves! If the preceding disquisition,
with all its subtlety and all its obscurity, should answer no other
purpose, it will still have been neither purposeless, nor devoid of
utility, should it only lead us to sympathize with the strivings of the
human intellect, awakened to the infinite importance of the inward
oracle [Greek: gn_othi seauton]--and almost instinctively shaping its
course of search in conformity with the Platonic intimation:--[Greek:
psuchaes phusin haxi_os logou katanoaesai oiei dunaton einai, haneu aes
tou holou phuse_os]; but be this as it may, the ground work of the
AEschylean 'mythus' is laid in the definition of idea and law, as
correlatives that mutually interpret each the other;--an idea, with the
adequate power of realizing itself being a law, and a law considered
abstractedly from, or in the absence of, the power of manifesting itself
in its appropriate product being an idea. Whether this be true
philosophy, is not the question. The school of Aristotle would, of
course, deny, the Platonic affirm it; for in this consists the
difference of the two schools. Both acknowledge ideas as distinct from
the mere generalizations from objects of sense: both would define an
idea as an 'ens rationale', to which there can be no adequate
correspondent in sensible experience. But, according to Aristotle, ideas
are regulative only, and exist only as functions of the mind:--according
to Plato, they are constitutive likewise, and one in essence with the
power and life of nature;--[Greek: hen log'o z'oae aen, kai hae z'oae
haen to ph'os t'on anthr'op'on]. And this I assert, was the philosophy
of the mythic poets, who, like AEschylus, adapted the secret doctrines of
the mysteries as the (not always safely disguised) antidote to the
debasing influences of the religion of the state.

But to return and conclude this preliminary explanation. We have only to
substitute the term will, and the term constitutive power, for _nomos_
or law, and the process is the same. Permit me to represent the identity
or 'prothesis' by the letter Z and the 'thesis' and 'antithesis' by X
and Y respectively. Then I say X by not being Y, but in consequence of
being the correlative opposite of Y, is will; and Y, by not being X, but
the correlative and opposite of X, is nature,--'natura naturans',
[Greek: no_mos physiko_s]. Hence we may see the necessity of
contemplating the idea now as identical with the reason, and now as one
with the will, and now as both in one, in which last case I shall, for
convenience sake, employ the term 'Nous', the rational will, the
practical reason.

We are now out of the holy jungle of transcendental mataphysics; if
indeed, the reader's patience shall have had strength and persistency
enough to allow me to exclaim--

Ivimus ambo
Per densas umbras: at tenet umbra Deum.

Not that I regard the foregoing as articles of faith, or as all true;--I
have implied the contrary by contrasting it with, at least, by shewing
its disparateness from, the Mosaic, which, 'bona fide', I do regard as
the truth. But I believe there is much, and profound, truth in it,
'supra captum [Greek: psilosoph'on], qui non agnoscunt divinum, ideoque
nec naturam, nisi nomine, agnoscunt; sed res cunctas ex sensuali
corporeo cogitant, quibus hac ex causa interiora clausa manent, et simul
cum illis exteriora quae proxima interioribus sunt'! And with no less
confidence do I believe that the positions above given, true or false,
are contained in the Promethean 'mythus'.

In this 'mythus', Jove is the impersonated representation or symbol of
the 'nomos'--'Jupiter est quodcunque vides'. He is the 'mens agitans
molem', but at the same time, the 'molem corpoream ponens et
constituens'. And so far the Greek philosopheme does not differ
essentially from the cosmotheism, or identification of God with the
universe, in which consisted the first apostacy of mankind after the
flood, when they combined to raise a temple to the heavens, and which is
still the favored religion of the Chinese. Prometheus, in like manner,
is the impersonated representative of Idea, or of the same power as
Jove, but contemplated as independent and not immersed in the
product,--as law 'minus' the productive energy. As such it is next to be
seen what the several significances of each must or may be according to
the philosophic conception; and of which significances, therefore,
should we find in the philosopheme a correspondent to each, we shall be
entitled to assert that such are the meanings of the fable. And first of

Jove represents

1. 'Nomos' generally, as opposed to Idea or 'Nous':

2. 'Nomos archinomos', now as the father, now as the sovereign, and now
as the includer and representative of the 'nomoi ouoanioi kosmikoi', or
'dii majores', who, had joined or come over to Jove in the first schism:

3. 'Nomos damnaetaes'--the subjugator of the spirits, of the [Greek:
ideai pronomoi], who, thus subjugated, became '[Greek: nomoi huponomioi
hupospondoi], Titanes pacati, dii minores', that is, the elements
considered as powers reduced to obedience under yet higher powers than

4. 'Nomos [Greek: politikos]', law in the Pauline sense, '[Greek: nomos
allotrionomos]' in antithesis to '[Greek: nomos autonomos]'.

[Footnote 1: The Act meant is probably the 5. Eliz. c. 20, enforcing the
two previous Acts of Henry VIII. and Philip and Mary, and reciting that
natural born Englishmen had 'become of the fellowship of the said
vagabonds, by transforming or disguising themselves in their apparel,'

[Footnote 2: Mr. Coleridge was in the constant habit of expressing
himself on paper by the algebraic symbols. They have an uncouth look in
the text of an ordinary essay, and I have sometimes ventured to render
them by the equivalent words. But most of the readers of these volumes
will know that--means 'less by', or,' without'; + 'more by', or,' in
addition to'; = 'equal to', or, 'the same as'.--Ed].

[Footnote 3: Friend, III. Essay, 9.]

[Footnote 4: Aids to Reflection. Moral and Religious Aphorisms. Aphorism
VI. Ed.]


It is in this sense that Jove's jealous, ever-quarrelsome, spouse
represents the political sacerdotal 'cultus', the church, in short, of
republican paganism;--a church by law established for the mere purposes
of the particular state, unennobled by the consciousness of
instrumentality to higher purposes;--at once unenlightened and unchecked
by revelation. Most gratefully ought we to acknowledge that since the
completion of our constitution in 1688, we may, with unflattering truth,
elucidate the spirit and character of such a church by the contrast of
the institution, to which England owes the larger portion of its
superiority in that, in which alone superiority is an unmixed
blessing,--the diffused cultivation of its inhabitants. But previously
to this period, I shall offend no enlightened man if I say without
distinction of parties--'intra muros peccatur et extra';--that the
history of Christendom presents us with too many illustrations of this
Junonian jealousy, this factious harrassing of the sovereign power as
soon as the latter betrayed any symptoms of a disposition to its true
policy, namely, to privilege and perpetuate that which is best,--to
tolerate the tolerable,--and to restrain none but those who would
restrain all, and subjugate even the state itself. But while truth
extorts this confession, it, at the same time, requires that it should
be accompanied by an avowal of the fact, that the spirit is a relic of
Paganism; and with a bitter smile would an AEschylus or a Plato in the
shades, listen to a Gibbon or a Hume vaunting the mild and tolerant
spirit of the state religions of ancient Greece or Rome. Here we have
the sense of Jove's intrigues with Europa, Io, &c. whom the god, in his
own nature a general lover, had successively taken under his protection.
And here, too, see the full appropriateness of this part of the
'mythus', in which symbol fades away into allegory, but yet in reference
to the working cause, as grounded in humanity, and always existing
either actually or potentially, and thus never ceases wholly to be a
symbol or tautegory.

Prometheus represents,

1. 'sensu generali', Idea [Greek: pronomos,] and in this sense he is a
[Greek: 'theos homophulos'], a fellow-tribesman both of the 'dii
majores', with Jove at their head, and of the Titans or 'dii pacati':

2. He represents Idea [Greek: 'philonomos, nomodeiktaes';] and in this
sense the former friend and counsellor of Jove or 'Nous uranius':

3. [Greek: 'Logos philanthr'opos',] the divine humanity, the humane God,
who retained unseen, kept back, or (in the 'catachresis' characteristic
of the Phoenicio-Grecian mythology) stole, a portion or 'ignicula from
the living spirit of law, which remained with the celestial gods
unexpended [Greek: en t_o nomizesthai.] He gave that which, according to
the whole analogy of things, should have existed either as pure
divinity, the sole property and birth-right of the 'Dii Joviales', the
'Uranions', or was conceded to inferior beings as a 'substans in
substantiato'. This spark divine Prometheus gave to an elect, a favored
animal, not as a 'substans' or understanding, commensurate with, and
confined by, the constitution and conditions of this particular
organism, but as 'aliquid superstans, liberum, non subactum, invictum,
impacatum, [Greek: mae nouizomenon.] This gift, by which we are to
understand reason theoretical and practical, was therefore a [Greek:
'nomos autonomus']--unapproachable and unmodifiable by the animal
basis--that is, by the pre-existing 'substans' with its products, the
animal 'organismus' with its faculties and functions; but yet endowed
with the power of potentiating, ennobling, and prescribing to, the
substance; and hence, therefore, a [Greek: nomos nomopeithaes,] lex

4. By a transition, ordinary even in allegory, and appropriate to mythic
symbol, but especially significant in the present case--the transition,
I mean, from the giver to the gift--the giver, in very truth, being the
gift, 'whence the soul receives reason; and reason is her being,' says
our Milton. Reason is from God, and God is reason, 'mens ipsissima'.

5. Prometheus represents, [Greek: nous en anthr'op'o--nous ag'onistaes]'.
Thus contemplated, the 'Nous' is of necessity, powerless; for, all
power, that is, productivity, or productive energy, is in Law, that is,
[Greek: nomos allotrionomos]:[1] still, however, the Idea in the Law,
the 'numerus numerans' become [Greek: nomos], is the principle of the
Law; and if with Law dwells power, so with the knowledge or the Idea
'scientialis' of the Law, dwells prophecy and foresight. A perfect
astronomical time-piece in relation to the motions of the heavenly
bodies, or the magnet in the mariner's compass in relation to the
magnetism of the earth, is a sufficient illustration.

6. Both [Greek: nomos] and Idea (or 'Nous') are the 'verbum'; but, as in
the former, it is 'verbum fiat' 'the Word of the Lord,'--in the latter
it must be the 'verbum fiet', or, 'the Word of the Lord in the mouth of
the prophet.' 'Pari argumento', as the knowledge is therefore not power,
the power is not knowledge. The [Greek: nomos], the [Greek: Zeus
pantokrat'or], seeks to learn, and, as it were, to wrest the secret, the
hateful secret, of his own fate, namely, the transitoriness adherent to
all antithesis; for the identity or the absolute is alone eternal. This
secret Jove would extort from the 'Nous', or Prometheus, which is the
sixth representment of Prometheus.

7. Introduce but the least of real as opposed to 'ideal', the least
speck of positive existence, even though it were but the mote in a sun
beam, into the sciential 'contemplamen' or theorem, and it ceases to be
science. 'Ratio desinit esse pura ratio et fit discursus, stat subter et
fit [Greek: hypothetikon]:--non superstat'. The 'Nous' is bound to a
rock, the immovable firmness of which is indissolubly connected with its
barrenness, its non-productivity. Were it productive it would be
'Nomos'; but it is 'Nous', because it is not 'Nomos'.

8. Solitary [Greek: abat_o en eraemia]. Now I say that the 'Nous',
notwithstanding its diversity from the 'Nomizomeni', is yet, relatively
to their supposed original essence, [Greek: pasi tois nomizomenois
tantogenaes], of the same race or 'radix': though in another sense,
namely, in relation to the [Greek: pan theion]--the pantheistic
'Elohim', it is conceived anterior to the schism, and to the conquest
and enthronization of Jove who succeeded. Hence the Prometheus of the
great tragedian is [Greek: theos suggenaes]. The kindred deities come to
him, some to soothe, to condole; others to give weak, yet friendly,
counsels of submission; others to tempt, or insult. The most prominent
of the latter, and the most odious to the imprisoned and insulated
'Nous', is Hermes, the impersonation of interest with the entrancing and
serpentine 'Caduceus', and, as interest or motives intervening between
the reason and its immediate self-determinations, with the antipathies
to the [Greek: nomos autonomos]. The Hermes impersonates the eloquence
of cupidity, the cajolement of power regnant; and in a larger sense,
custom, the irrational in language, [Greek: rhaemata ta rhaetorika], the
fluent, from [Greek: rheo]--the rhetorical in opposition to [Greek:
logoi, ta noaeta]. But, primarily, the Hermes is the symbol of interest.
He is the messenger, the inter-nuncio, in the low but expressive phrase,
the go-between, to beguile or insult. And for the other visitors of
Prometheus, the elementary powers, or spirits of the elements, 'Titanes
pacati', [Greek: theoi huponomioi], vassal potentates, and their
solicitations, the noblest interpretation will be given, if I repeat the
lines of our great contemporary poet:--

Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own:
Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind,
And e'en with something of a mother's mind,
And no unworthy aim, The homely nurse doth all she can
To make her foster-child, her inmate, Man
Forget the glories he hath known
And that imperial palace whence he came:--


which exquisite passage is prefigured in coarser clay, indeed, and with
a less lofty spirit, but yet excellently in their kind, and even more
fortunately for the illustration and ornament of the present commentary,
in the fifth, sixth, and seventh stanzas of Dr. Henry More's poem on the
Pre-existence of the Soul:--

Thus groping after our own center's near
And proper substance, we grew dark, contract,
Swallow'd up of earthly life! Ne what we were
Of old, thro' ignorance can we detect.
Like noble babe, by fate or friends' neglect
Left to the care of sorry salvage wight,
Grown up to manly years cannot conject
His own true parentage, nor read aright
What father him begot, what womb him brought to light.

So we, as stranger infants elsewhere born,
Cannot divine from what spring we did flow;
Ne dare these base alliances to scorn,
Nor lift ourselves a whit from hence below;
Ne strive our parentage again to know,
Ne dream we once of any other stock,
Since foster'd upon Rhea's [1] knees we grow,
In Satyrs' arms with many a mow and mock
Oft danced; and hairy Pan our cradle oft hath rock'd!

But Pan nor Rhea be our parentage!
We been the offspring of the all seeing Nous, &c.

To express the supersensual character of the reason, its abstraction
from sensation, we find the Prometheus [Greek: aterpae]--while in the
yearnings accompanied with the remorse incident to, and only possible in
consequence of the Nous being, the rational, self-conscious, and
therefore responsible will, he is [Greek: gupi diaknaiomenos]

If to these contemplations we add the control and despotism exercised on
the free reason by Jupiter in his symbolical character, as [Greek: nomos
politikos];--by custom (Hermes); by necessity, [Greek: bia kai
kratos];--by the mechanic arts and powers, [Greek: suggeneis t_o No_o]
though they are, and which are symbolized in Hephaistos,--we shall see
at once the propriety of the title, Prometheus, [Greek: desmotaes].

9. Nature, or 'Zeus' as the [Greek: nomos en nomizomenois], knows
herself only, can only come to a knowledge of herself, in man! And even
in man, only as man is supernatural, above nature, noetic. But this
knowledge man refuses to communicate; that is, the human understanding
alone is at once self-conscious and conscious of nature. And this high
prerogative it owes exclusively to its being an assessor of the reason.
Yet even the human understanding in its height of place seeks vainly to
appropriate the ideas of the pure reason, which it can only represent by
'idola'. Here, then, the 'Nous' stands as Prometheus [Greek: antipalos],
'renuens'--in hostile opposition to Jupitor 'Inquisitor'.

10. Yet finally, against the obstacles and even under the fostering
influences of the 'Nomos', [Greek: tou nomimou], a son of Jove himself,
but a descendant from Io, the mundane religion, as contra-distinguished
from the sacerdotal 'cultus', or religion of the state, an Alcides
'Liberator' will arise, and the 'Nous', or divine principle in man, will
be Prometheus [Greek: heleutheromenos].

Did my limits or time permit me to trace the persecutions, wanderings,
and migrations of the Io, the mundane religion, through the whole map
marked out by the tragic poet, the coincidences would bring the truth,
the unarbitrariness, of the preceding exposition as near to
demonstration as can rationally be required on a question of history,
that must, for the greater part, be answered by combination of scattered
facts. But this part of my subject, together with a particular
exemplification of the light which my theory throws both on the sense
and the beauty of numerous passages of this stupendous poem, I must
reserve for a future communication.

NOTES. [3]

v. 15. [Greek: pharaggi]:--'in a coomb, or combe.' v. 17. [Greek:
ex'oriazein gar patros logous baru]. [Greek: euoriazein], as the editor
confesses, is a word introduced into the text against the authority of
all editions and manuscripts. I should prefer [Greek: ex'oriazein],
notwithstanding its being a [Greek: hapax legomenon]. The [Greek:
eu]--seems to my tact too free and easy a word;--and yet our 'to trifle
with' appears the exact meaning.

[Footnote 1: I scarcely need say, that I use the word [Greek:
allotrionomos] as a participle active, as exercising law on another, not
as receiving law from another, though the latter is the classical force
(I suppose) of the word.]

[Footnote 2: Rhea (from [Greek: rheo], 'fluo'), that is, the earth as
the transitory, the ever-flowing nature, the flux and sum of
'phenomena', or objects of the outward sense, in contradistinction from
the earth as Vesta, as the firmamental law that sustains and disposes
the apparent world! The Satyrs represent the sports and appetences of
the sensuous nature ([Greek: phronaema sarkos])--Pan, or the total life
of the earth, the presence of all in each, the universal 'organismus' of
bodies and bodily energy.]

[Footnote 3: Written in Bp. Blomfield's edition, and communicated by Mr.
Cary. Ed.]


The justice of these remarks cannot be disputed, though some of them
are rather too figurative for sober criticism.

Most genuine! A figurative remark! If this strange writer had any
meaning, it must be:--Headly's criticism is just throughout, but
conveyed in a style too figurative for prose composition. Chalmers's own
remarks are wholly mistaken;--too silly for any criticism, drunk or
sober, and in language too flat for any thing. In Daniel's Sonnets there
is scarcely one good line; while his Hymen's Triumph, of which Chalmers
says not one word, exhibits a continued series of first-rate beauties in
thought, passion, and imagery, and in language and metre is so
faultless, that the style of that poem may without extravagance be
declared to be imperishable English.



I almost wonder that the inimitable humour, and the rich sound and
propulsive movement of the verse, have not rendered Corbet a popular
poet. I am convinced that a reprint of his poems, with illustrative and
chit-chat biographical notes, and cuts by Cruikshank, would take with
the public uncommonly well. September, 1823.


There is more weighty bullion sense in this book, than I ever found in
the same number of pages of any uninspired writer.


Opinion and affection extremely differ. I may affect a woman best, but
it does not follow I must think her the handsomest woman in the world.
... Opinion is something wherein I go about to give reason why all the
world should think as I think. Affection is a thing wherein I look
after the pleasing of myself.

Good! This is the true difference betwixt the beautiful and the
agreeable, which Knight and the rest of that [Greek: plaethos atheon]
have so beneficially confounded, 'meretricibus scilicet et Plutoni'.

O what an insight the whole of this article gives into a wise man's
heart, who has been compelled to act with the many, as one of the many!
It explains Sir Thomas More's zealous Romanism, &c.


Excellent! O! to have been with Selden over his glass of wine, making
every accident an outlet and a vehicle of wisdom!


The old poets had no other reason but this, their verse was, sung to
music; otherwise it had been a senseless thing to have fettered up

No one man can know all things: even Selden here talks ignorantly. Verse
is in itself a music, and the natural symbol of that union of passion
with thought and pleasure, which constitutes the essence of all poetry,
as contradistinguished from science, and distinguished from history
civil or natural. To Pope's Essay on Man,--in short, to whatever is mere
metrical good sense and wit, the remark applies.


Verse proves nothing but the quantity of syllables; they are not meant
for logic.

True; they, that is, verses, are not logic; but they are, or ought to
be, the envoys and representatives of that vital passion, which is the
practical cement of logic; and without which logic must remain inert.

[Footnote 1: These remarks on Selden, Wheeler, and Birch, were
communicated by Mr. Gary. Ed.]


(Vol. I. p. 77.)

A miracle, usually so termed, is the exertion of a supernatural power
in some act, and contrary to the regular course of nature, &c.

Where is the proof of this as drawn from Scripture, from fact recorded,
or from doctrine affirmed? Where the proof of its logical
possibility,--that is, that the word has any representable sense?
Contrary to 2x2=4 is 2x2=5, or that the same fire acting at the same
moment on the same subject should burn it and not burn it.

The course of nature is either one with, or a reverential synonyme of,
the ever present divine agency; or it is a self-subsisting derivative
from, and dependent on, the divine will. In either case this author's
assertion would amount to a charge of self-contradiction on the Author
of all things. Before the spread of Grotianism, or the Old Bailey
'nolens volens' Christianity, such language was unexampled. A miracle is
either 'super naturam', or it is simply 'praeter experientiam.' If
nature be a collective term for the sum total of the mechanic
powers,--that is, of the act first manifested to the senses in the
conductor A, arriving at Z by the sensible chain of intermediate
conductors, B, C, D, &c.;--then every motion of my arm is 'super
naturam'. If this be not the sense, then nature is but a wilful synonyme
of experience, and then the first noticed aerolithes, Sulzer's first
observation of the galvanic arch, &c. must have been miracles.

As erroneous as the author's assertions are logically, so false are they
historically, in the effect, which the miracles in and by themselves did
produce on those, who, rejecting the doctrine, were eye-witnesses of the
miracles;--and psychologically, in the effect which miracles, as
miracles, are calculated to produce on the human mind. Is it possible
that the author can have attentively studied the first two or three
chapters of St. John's gospel?

There is but one possible tenable definition of a miracle,--namely, an
immediate consequent from a heterogeneous antecedent. This is its
essence. Add the words, 'praeter experientiam adhuc', or 'id temporis',
and you have the full and popular or practical sense of the term
miracle. [1]

[Footnote A: See The Friend, Vol. III. Essay 2. Ed.]



In the description of enthusiasm, the author has plainly had in view
individual characters, and those too in a light, in which they appeared
to him; not clear and discriminate ideas. Hence a mixture of truth and
error, of appropriate and inappropriate terms, which it is scarcely
possible to disentangle. Part applies to fanaticism; part to enthusiasm;
and no small portion of this latter to enthusiasm not pure, but as it
exists in particular men, modified by their imperfections--and bad
because not wholly enthusiasm. I regret this, because it is evidently
the discourse of a very powerful mind;--and because I am convinced that
the disease of the age is want of enthusiasm, and a tending to
fanaticism. You may very naturally object that the senses, in which I
use the two terms, fanaticism and enthusiasm, are private
interpretations equally as, if not more than, Mr. Birch's. They are so;
but the difference between us is, that without reference to either term,
I have attempted to ascertain the existence and diversity of two states
of moral being; and then having found in our language two words of very
fluctuating and indeterminate use, indeed, but the one word more
frequently bordering on the one state, the other on the other, I try to
fix each to that state exclusively. And herein I follow the practice of
all scientific men, whether naturalists or metaphysicians, and the
dictate of common sense, that one word ought to have but one meaning.
Thus by Hobbes and others of the materialists, compulsion and obligation
were used indiscriminately; but the distinction of the two senses is the
condition of all moral responsibility. Now the effect of Mr. Birch's use
of the words is to continue the confusion. Remember we could not reason
at all, if our conceptions and terms were not more single and definite
than the things designated. Enthusiasm is the absorption of the
individual in the object contemplated from the vividness or intensity of
his conceptions and convictions: fanaticism is heat, or accumulation and
direction, of feeling acquired by contagion, and relying on the sympathy
of sect or confederacy; intense sensation with confused or dim
conceptions. Hence the fanatic can exist only in a crowd, from inward
weakness anxious for outward confirmation; and, therefore, an eager
proselyter and intolerant. The enthusiast, on the contrary, is a
solitary, who lives in a world of his own peopling, and for that cause
is disinclined to outward action. Lastly, enthusiasm is susceptible of
many degrees, (according to the proportionateness of the objects
contemplated,) from the highest grandeur of moral and intellectual
being, even to madness; but fanaticism is one and the same, and appears
different only from the manners and original temperament of the
individual. There is a white and a red heat; a sullen glow as well as a
crackling flame; cold-blooded as well as hot-blooded fanaticism.
Enthusiasts, [Greek: enthousiastai] from [Greek: entheos, ois ho theos
enesi], or possibly from [Greek: en thusiais], those who, in sacrifice
to, or at, the altar of truth or falsehood, are possessed by a spirit or
influence mightier than their own individuality. 'Fanatici-qui circum
fana favorem mutuo contrahunt el afflant'--those who in the same
conventicle, or before the same shrine, relique or image, heat and
ferment by co-acervation.

I am fully aware that the words are used by the best writers
indifferently, but such must be the case in very many words in a
composite language, such as the English, before they are desynonymized.
Thus imagination and fancy; chronical and temporal, and many others.


Note to pages 196,197.

This chapter is plausible, shewy, insinuating, and (as indeed is the
character of the whole work) 'makes the amiable.' To many,--to myself
formerly,--it has appeared a mere dispute about words: but it is by no
means of so harmless a character, for it tends to give a false direction
to our thoughts, by diverting the conscience from the ruined and
corrupted state, in which we are without Christ. Sin is the disease.
What is the remedy? What is the antidote?--Charity?--Pshaw! Charity in
the large apostolic sense of the term is the health, the state to be
obtained by the use of the remedy, not the sovereign balm itself,--faith
of grace,--faith in the God-manhood, the cross, the mediation, and
perfected righteousness, of Jesus, to the utter rejection and abjuration
of all righteousness of our own! Faith alone is the restorative. The
Romish scheme is preposterous;--it puts the rill before the spring.
Faith is the source,--charity, that is, the whole Christian life, is the
stream from it. It is quite childish to talk of faith being imperfect
without charity. As wisely might you say that a fire, however bright and
strong, was imperfect without heat, or that the sun, however cloudless,
was imperfect without beams. The true answer would be:--it is not
faith,--but utter reprobate faithlessness, which may indeed very
possibly coexist with a mere acquiescence of the understanding in
certain facts recorded by the Evangelists. But did John, or Paul, or
Martin Luther, ever flatter this barren belief with the name of saving
faith? No. Little ones! Be not deceived. Wear at your bosoms that
precious amulet against all the spells of antichrist, the 20th verse of
the 2nd chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Galatians:--'I am crucified
with Christ, nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:
and the life, which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the
Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me'.

Thus we see even our faith is not ours in its origin: but is the faith
of the Son of God graciously communicated to us. Beware, therefore, that
you do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the
Law, then Christ is dead in vain. If, therefore, we are saved by
charity, we are saved by the keeping of the Law, which doctrine St. Paul
declared to be an apostacy from Christ, and a bewitching of the soul
from the truth. But, you will perhaps say, can a man be saved without
charity?--The answer is, a man without charity cannot be saved: the
faith of the Son of God is not in him.

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


The character and circumstances of the animal and vegetable remains
discovered in the northern zone, in Siberia and other parts of
Russia,--all with scarcely an exception belonging to 'genera' that are
now only found in, and require, a tropical climate,--are such as receive
no adequate solution from the hypothesis of their having been casually
floated thither, and deposited, by the waters of a deluge, still less of
the Noachian deluge, as related and described by the great Hebrew
historian and legislator. In order to a full solution of this problem,
two 'data' are requisite:

1. A total change of climate:

2. That this change shall have been, not gradual, but sudden,
instantaneous, and incompatible with the life and subsistency of the
animals and vegetables in these high latitudes, at that period, and
previously, existing.

Now these 'data' or conditions will be afforded, if we assume a total
submersion of the surface of this planet, even of its highest mountains
then and now existing, by a sudden contemporaneous mass of waters, and
that the evaporation of these waters was aided by a steady wind,
especially adapted to this purpose in a peculiarly dry atmosphere, and
was (as it must of necessity have been) most rapid and intense at the
equator and within the tropics proportionally. For--as it has been
demonstrated by Dr. Wollaston's experiment, in which the evaporation,
occasioned by boiling water at the mid point of a line of water, froze
the fluid at the two ends, that is, at a given distance from the
greatest intensity of the evaporative process,--the effect of an
evaporation of the supposed power and rapidity would be to produce at
certain distances from the 'maximum' point, north and south, a vast
barrier of ice,--such as having once taken place, and being of such mass
and magnitude as to be only in a small degree diminishable by the
ensuing summer, must have become permanent, and beyond the power of all
the known and ordinary dissolving agents of nature. That the situation
of the magnetic poles of the earth, and the almost certain connection of
magnetism with cold, no less than with metallic cohesion, co-operated in
determining the distance of the barriers, or two poles, of evaporation,
from its centre or the 'maximum' of its activity, is highly probable,
and receives a strong confirmation from the open sea and diminished
cold, both at the north and south zones, on the ulterior of the barrier,
and towards the true or physical poles of the earth.

Now the action of a powerful co-agent in the evaporative process, such
as is assumed in this hypothesis, is a fact of history. 'And God
remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was
with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the
waters assuaged'. Gen. viii. 1. I do not recollect the Hebrew word
rendered 'assuaged;' but I will consult my learned friend Hyman Hurwitz
on its radical, and its primary sense. At all events, the note by Pyle
in Drs. Mant and D'Oyly's Bible is arbitrary, though excusable by the
state of chemical science in his time.

The problem of the multitude of 'genera' of animals, and their several
exclusive acclimatements at the present period may, likewise, I persuade
myself, receive a probable solution by an hypothesis legitimated by
known laws and fair analogies. But of this hereafter.



It has just struck my feelings that the Pherecydean origin of prose
being granted, prose must have struck men with greater admiration than
poetry. In the latter, it was the language of passion and emotion: it is
what they themselves spoke and heard in moments of exultation,
indignation, &c. But to hear an evolving roll, or a succession of
leaves, talk continually the language of deliberate reason in a form of
continued preconception, of a 'Z' already possessed when 'A' was being
uttered,--this must have appeared godlike. I feel myself in the same
state, when in the perusal of a sober, yet elevated and harmonious,
succession of sentences and periods, I abstract my mind from the
particular passage, and sympathize with the wonder of the common people
who say of an eloquent man:--'He talks like a book!'


Manners change from generation to generation, and with manners morals
appear to change,--actually change with some, but appear to change with
all but the abandoned. A young man of the present day who should act as
Tom Jones is supposed to act at Upton, with Lady Bellaston, &c. would
not be a Tom Jones; and a Tom Jones of the present day, without perhaps
being in the ground a better man, would have perished rather than submit
to be kept by a harridan of fortune. Therefore this novel is, and,
indeed, pretends to be, no exemplar of conduct. But, notwithstanding all
this, I do loathe the cant which can recommend Pamela and Clarissa
Harlowe as strictly moral, though they poison the imagination of the
young with continued doses of 'tinct. lyttae', while Tom Jones is
prohibited as loose. I do not speak of young women;--but a young man
whose heart or feelings can be injured, or even his passions excited, by
aught in this novel, is already thoroughly corrupt. There is a cheerful,
sun-shiny, breezy spirit that prevails everywhere, strongly contrasted
with the close, hot, day-dreamy continuity of Richardson. Every
indiscretion, every immoral act, of Tom Jones, (and it must be
remembered that he is in every one taken by surprise--his inward
principles remaining firm--) is so instantly punished by embarrassment
and unanticipated evil consequences of his folly, that the reader's mind
is not left for a moment to dwell or run riot on the criminal indulgence
itself. In short, let the requisite allowance be made for the increased
refinement of our manners,--and then I dare believe that no young man
who consulted his heart and conscience only, without adverting to what
the world would say--could rise from the perusal of Fielding's Tom
Jones, Joseph Andrews, or Amelia, without feeling himself a better
man;--at least, without an intense conviction that he could not be
guilty of a base act.

If I want a servant or mechanic, I wish to know what he does:--but of a
friend, I must know what he is. And in no writer is this momentous
distinction so finely brought forward as by Fielding. We do not care
what Blifil does;--the deed, as separate from the agent, may be good or
ill;--but Blifil is a villain;--and we feel him to be so from the very
moment he, the boy Blifil, restores Sophia's poor captive bird to its
native and rightful liberty.

Book xiv. ch. 8.

Notwithstanding the sentiment of the Roman satirist, which denies the
divinity of fortune; and the opinion of Seneca to the same purpose;
Cicero, who was, I believe, a wiser man than either of them, expressly
holds the contrary; and certain it is there are some incidents in life
so very strange and unaccountable, that it seems to require more than
human skill and foresight in producing them.

Surely Juvenal, Seneca, and Cicero, all meant the same thing, namely,
that there was no chance, but instead of it providence, either human or

Book xv. ch. 9.

The rupture with Lady Bellaston.

Even in the most questionable part of Tom Jones, I cannot but think,
after frequent reflection, that an additional paragraph, more fully and
forcibly unfolding Tom Jones's sense of self-degradation on the
discovery of the true character of the relation in which he had stood to
Lady Bellaston, and his awakened feeling of the dignity of manly
chastity, would have removed in great measure any just objections, at
all events relatively to Fielding himself, and with regard to the state
of manners in his time.

Book xvi. ch. 5.

That refined degree of Platonic affection which is absolutely detached
from the flesh, and is indeed entirely and purely spiritual, is a gift
confined to the female part of the creation; many of whom I have heard
declare (and doubtless with great truth) that they would, with the
utmost readiness, resign a lover to a rival, when such resignation was
proved to be necessary for the temporal interest of such lover.

I firmly believe that there are men capable of such a sacrifice, and
this, without pretending to, or even admiring or seeing any virtue in,
this absolute detachment from the flesh.

[Footnote 1: Communicated by Mr. Gillman, Ed.]


Jonathan Wild is assuredly the best of all the fictions in which a
villain is throughout the prominent character. But how impossible it is
by any force of genius to create a sustained attractive interest for
such a groundwork, and how the mind wearies of, and shrinks from, the
more than painful interest, the [Greek: mis_eton], of utter
depravity,--Fielding himself felt and endeavoured to mitigate and remedy
by the (on all other principles) far too large a proportion, and too
quick recurrence, of the interposed chapters of moral reflection, like
the chorus in the Greek tragedy,--admirable specimens as these chapters
are of profound irony and philosophic satire. Chap. VI. Book 2, on
Hats,[Footnote 1]--brief as it is, exceeds any thing even in Swift's
Lilliput, or Tale of the Tub. How forcibly it applies to the Whigs,
Tories, and Radicals of our own times.

Whether the transposition of Fielding's scorching wit (as B. III. c.
xiv.) to the mouth of his hero be objectionable on the ground of
incredulus odi', or is to be admired as answering the author's purpose
by unrealizing the story, in order to give a deeper reality to the
truths intended,--I must leave doubtful, yet myself inclining to the
latter judgment. 27th Feb. 1832.

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

[Footnote 2: 'In which our hero makes a speech well worthy to be
celebrated; and the behaviour of one of the gang, perhaps more unnatural
than any other part of this history.']


Barry Cornwall is a poet, 'me saltem judice'; and in that sense of the
term, in which I apply it to C. Lamb and W. Wordsworth. There are poems
of great merit, the authors of which I should yet not feel impelled so
to designate.

The faults of these poems are no less things of hope, than the beauties;
both are just what they ought to be,--that is, now.

If B.C. be faithful to his genius, it in due time will warn him, that as
poetry is the identity of all other knowledges, so a poet cannot be a
great poet, but as being likewise inclusively an historian and
naturalist, in the light, as well as the life, of philosophy: all other
men's worlds are his chaos.

Hints 'obiter' are:--

not to permit delicacy and exquisiteness to seduce into effeminacy.

Not to permit beauties by repetition to become mannerisms.

To be jealous of fragmentary composition,--as epicurism of genius, and
apple-pie made all of quinces.

'Item', that dramatic poetry must be poetry hid in thought and
passion,--not thought or passion disguised in the dress of poetry.

Lastly, to be economic and withholding in similies, figures, &c. They
will all find their place, sooner or later, each as the luminary of a
sphere of its own. There can be no galaxy in poetry, because it is
language,--'ergo' processive,--'ergo' every the smallest star must be
seen singly.

There are not five metrists in the kingdom, whose works are known by me,
to whom I could have held myself allowed to have spoken so plainly. But
B.C. is a man of genius, and it depends on himself--(competence
protecting him from gnawing or distracting cares)--to become a rightful
poet,--that is, a great man.

Oh! for such a man worldly prudence is transfigured into the highest
spiritual duty! How generous is self-interest in him, whose true self is
all that is good and hopeful in all ages, as far as the language of
Spenser, Shakspeare, and Milton shall become the mother-tongue!

A map of the road to Paradise, drawn in Purgatory, on the confines of
Hell, by S.T.C. July 30, 1819.

[Footnote 1: Written in Mr. Lamb's copy of the 'Dramatic Scenes'. Ed.]


O! That it were as it was wont to be,
When thy old friends of fire, all full of thee,
Fought against frowns with smiles; gave glorius chace
To persecutions; and against the face
Of death and fiercest dangers durst with brave
And sober pace march on to meet a grave!
On their bold breast about the world they bore thee,
And to the teeth of hell stood up to teach thee,
In centre of their inmost souls they wore thee,
Where racks and torments strove in vain to reach thee!
Powers of my soul, be proud, And speak aloud
To the dear-bought nations this redeeming name,
And in the wealth of one rich word proclaim
New smiles to nature! May it be no wrong,
Blest heavens! to you and your superior song,
That we, dark sons of dust and sorrow, Awhile dare borrow
The name of your delights and your desires,
And fit it to so far inferior lyres!--Our lispings have their music too,
Ye mighty orbs! as well as you; Nor yields the noblest nest
Of warbling cherubs to the ear of love, A melody above
The low fond murmurs from the loyal breast
Of a poor panting turtle dove.
We mortals too
Have leave to do
The same bright business, ye third heavens with you.

[Footnote 1: This poem was found in Mr. Coleridge's hand-writing on a
sheet of paper with other passages undoubtedly of his own composition.
There is something, however, in it which leads me to think it
transcribed or translated from some other writer, though I have been
unable from recollection or inquiry to ascertain the fact. It is
published here, therefore, expressly under caution. Ed.]


B.I.c.9. Life of Eliezer.

He will not truant it now in the afternoon, but with convenient speed
returns to Abraham, who onely was worthy of such a servant, who onely
was worthy of such a master.

On my word, Eliezer did his business in an orderly and sensible manner;
but what there is to call forth this hyper-encomiastic--'who only'--I
cannot see.

B.II.c.3. Life of Paracelsus. It is matter of regret with me, that
Fuller, (whose wit, alike in quantity, quality, and perpetuity,
surpassing that of the wittiest in a witty age, robbed him of the praise
not less due to him for an equal superiority in sound, shrewd, good
sense, and freedom of intellect,) had not looked through the two Latin
folios of Paracelsus's Works. It is not to be doubted that a rich and
delightful article would have been the result. For who like Fuller could
have brought out and set forth, this singular compound of true
philosophic genius with the morals of a quack and the manners of a king
of the gypsies! Nevertheless, Paracelsus belonged to his age--the dawn
of experimental science: and a well written critique on his life and
writings would present, through the magnifying glass of a caricature,
the distinguishing features of the Helmonts, Kirchers, &c. in short, of
the host of naturalists of the sixteenth century. The period might begin
with Paracelsus and end with Sir Kenelm Digby.

N. B. The potential, ([Greek: Logos theanthropos]) the ground of the
prophetic, directed the first thinkers, (the 'Mystae') to the metallic
bodies, as the key of all natural science. The then actual blended with
this instinct all the fancies and fond desires, and false perspective of
the childhood of intellect. The essence was truth, the form was folly:
and this is the definition of alchemy. Nevertheless the very terms bear
witness to the veracity of the original instinct. The world of sensible
experience cannot be more luminously divided than into the modifying
powers, [Greek: to allo],--that which differences, makes this other than
that; and the [Greek: met allo]--that which is beyond, or deeper than
the modification. 'Metallon' is strictly the base of the mode; and such
have the metals been determined to be by modern chemistry. And what are
now the great problems of chemistry? The difference of the metals
themselves, their origin, the causes of their locations, of their
co-existence in the same ore--as, for instance, iridium, osmium,
palladium, rhodium, and iron with platinum. Were these problems solved,
the results who dare limit? In addition to the 'mechanique celeste', we
might have a new department of astronomy, the 'chymie celeste', that is,
a philosophic astrology. And to this I do not hesitate to refer the
whole connection between alchemy and astrology, the same divinity in the
idea, the same childishness in the attempt to realize it. Nay, the very
invocations of spirits were not without a ground of truth. The light was
for the greater part suffocated and the rest fantastically refracted,
but still it was light struggling in the darkness. And I am persuaded,
that to the full triumph of science, it will be necessary that nature
should be commanded more spiritually than hitherto, that is, more
directly in the power of the will.

B. IV. c. 19. The Prince.

He sympathizeth with him that by a proxy is corrected for his offence.

See Sir W. Scott's Fortunes of Nigel. In an oriental despotism one would
not have been surprised at finding such a custom, but in a Christian
court, and under the light of Protestantism, it is marvellous. It would
be well to ascertain, if possible, the earliest date of this
contrivance; whether it existed under the Plantagenets, or whether first
under the Tudors, or lastly, whether it was a precious import from
Scotland with gentle King Jamie.

Ib. c. 21. The King.

He is a mortal god.

Compare the fulsome flattery of these and other passages in this volume
(though modest to the common language of James's priestly courtiers)
with the loyal but free and manly tone of Fuller's later works, towards
the close of Charles the First's reign and under the Commonwealth and
Protectorate. And doubtless this was not peculiar to Fuller: but a great
and lasting change was effected in the mind of the country generally.
The bishops and other church dignitaries tried for a while to renew the
old king-godding 'mumpsimus'; but the second Charles laughed at them,
and they quarrelled with his successor, and hated the hero who delivered
them from him too thoroughly to have flattered him with any unction,
even if William's Dutch phlegm had not precluded the attempt by making
its failure certain.


B. V. c. 2.

God gave magistrates power to punish them, else they bear the sword in
vain. They may command people to serve God, who herein have no cause
to complain.

And elsewhere. The only serious 'macula' in Fuller's mind is his uniform
support of the right and duty of the civil magistrate to punish errors
in belief. Fuller would, indeed, recommend moderation in the practice;
but of 'upas', 'woorara', and persecution, there are no moderate doses


Part I. c. 5.

Yet there want not learned writers (whom I need not name) of the
opinion that even the instrumental penmen of the Scripture might
commit [Greek: hamartaemata mnaemonika]: though open that window to
profaneness, and it will be in vain to shut any dores; 'Let God be
true, and every man a lyer'.

It has been matter of complaint with hundreds, yea, it is an old cuckoo
song of grim saints, that the Reformation came to its close long before
it came to its completion. But the cause of this imperfection has been
fully laid open by no party,--'scilicet', that in divines of both
parties of the Reformers, the Protestants and the Detestants, there was
the same relic of the Roman 'lues',--the habit of deciding for or
against the orthodoxy of a position, not according to its truth or
falsehood, not on grounds of reason or of history, but by the imagined
consequences of the position. The very same principles on which the
pontifical polemics vindicate the Papal infallibility, Fuller 'et centum
alii' apply to the (if possible) still more extravagant notion of the
absolute truth and divinity of every syllable of the text of the books
of the Old and New Testament as we have it.


Sure I am, that one of as much meekness, as some are of moroseness,
even upright Moses himself, in his service of the essential and
increated truth (of higher consequence than the historical truth
controverted betwixt us) had notwithstanding 'a respect to the
reward'. Heb. xi. 26.

In religion the faith pre-supposed in the respect, and as its condition,
gives to the motive a purity and an elevation which of itself, and where
the recompense is looked for in temporal and carnal pleasures or
profits, it would not have.


B. I. cent. 5.

PELAGIUS:--Let no foreiner insult on the infelicity of our land in
bearing this monster.

It raises, or ought to raise, our estimation of Fuller's good sense and
the general temperance of his mind, when we see the heavy weight of
prejudices, the universal code of his age, incumbent on his judgment,
and which nevertheless left sanity of opinion, the general character of
his writings: this remark was suggested by the term 'monster' attached
to the worthy Cambrian Pelagius--the teacher _Arminianismi ante

B. II. cent. 6. s. 8.

Whereas in Holy Writ, when the Apostles (and the Papists commonly call
Augustine the English apostle, how properly we shall see hereafter,)
went to a foreign nation, 'God gave them the language thereof, &c.'

What a loss that Fuller has not made a reference to his authorities for
this assertion! I am sure he could have found none in the New Testament,
but facts that imply, and, in the absence of all such proof, prove the

Ib. s. 6.

Thus we see the whole week bescattered with Saxon idols, whose pagan
gods were the godfathers of the days, and gave them their names. 'This
some zealot may behold as the object of a necessary reformation,
desiring to have the days of the week new dipt, and called after other
names'. Though indeed this supposed scandal will not offend the wise,
as beneath their notice, and cannot offend the ignorant, as above
their knowledge.

A curious prediction fulfilled a few years after in the Quakers, and
well worthy of being extracted and addressed to the present Friends.

Memorandum.--It is the error of the Friends, but natural and common to
almost all sects,--the perversion of the wisdom of the first
establishers of their sect into their own folly, by not distinguishing
between the conditionally right and the permanently and essentially so.
For example: It was right conditionally in the Apostles to forbid black
puddings even to the Gentile Christians, and it was wisdom in them; but
to continue the prohibition would be folly and Judaism in us. The elder
church very sensibly distinguished episcopal from apostolic inspiration;
the episcopal spirit, that which dictated what was fit and profitable
for a particular community or church at a particular period,--from the
apostolic and catholic spirit which dictated truth and duties of
permanent and universal obligation.

Ib. cent. 7.

This Latin dedication is remarkably pleasing and elegant. Milton in his
classical youth, the aera of Lycidas, might have written it--only he
would have given it in Latin verse.

B. x. cent. 17.

Bp. of London. May your Majesty be pleased, that the ancient canon may
be remembered, 'Schismatici contra episcopos non sunt audiendi'. And
there is another decree of a very ancient council, that no man should
be admitted to speak against that whereunto he hath formerly

And as for you, Doctor Reynolds, and your sociates, how much are you
bound to his Majestie's clemencye, permitting you contrary to the
statute 'primo Elizabethae', so freely to speak against the liturgie
and discipline established. Faine would I know the end you aime at,
and whether you be not of Mr. Cartwright's minde, who affirmed, that
we ought in ceremonies rather to conforme to the Turks than to the
Papists. I doubt you approve his position, because here appearing
before his Majesty in Turkey-gownes, not in your scholastic habits,
according to the order of the Universities.

If any man, who like myself hath attentively read the Church history of
the reign of Elizabeth, and the conference before, and with, her pedant
successor, can shew me any essential difference between Whitgift and
Bancroft during their rule, and Bonner and Gardiner in the reign of
Mary, I will be thankful to him in my heart and for him in my prayers.
One difference I see, namely, that the former professing the New
Testament to be their rule and guide, and making the fallibility of all
churches and individuals an article of faith, were more inconsistent,
and therefore less excusable, than the Popish persecutors. 30 Aug. 1824.

N.B. The crimes, murderous as they were, were the vice and delusion of
the age, and it is ignorance to lack charity towards the persons, Papist
or Protestant; but the tone, the spirit, characterizes, and belongs to,
the individual: for example, the bursting spleen of this Bancroft, not
so satisfied with this precious arbitrator for having pre-condemned his
opponents, as fierce and surly with him for not hanging them up unheard.

At the end. Next to Shakspeare, I am not certain whether Thomas Fuller,
beyond all other writers, does not excite in me the sense and emotion of
the marvellous;--the degree in which any given faculty or combination of
faculties is possessed and manifested, so far surpassing what one would
have thought possible in a single mind, as to give one's admiration the
flavour and quality of wonder! Wit was the stuff and substance of
Fuller's intellect. It was the element, the earthen base, the material
which he worked in, and this very circumstance has defrauded him of his
due praise for the practical wisdom of the thoughts, for the beauty and
variety of the truths, into which he shaped the stuff. Fuller was
incomparably the most sensible, the least prejudiced, great man of an
age that boasted a galaxy of great men. He is a very voluminous writer,
and yet in all his numerous volumes on so many different subjects, it is
scarcely too much to say, that you will hardly find a page in which some
one sentence out of every three does not deserve to be quoted for
itself--as motto or as maxim. God bless thee, dear old man! may I meet
with thee!--which is tantamount to--may I go to heaven!

July, 1829.


'That according to the covenant of eternal life revealed in the
Scriptures, man may be translated from hence into that eternal life,
without passing through death, although the human nature of Christ
himself could not be thus translated till he had passed through
death.' Edit. 1715.

If I needed an illustrative example of the distinction between the
reason and the understanding, between spiritual sense and logic, this
treatise of Asgill's would supply it. Excuse the defect of all idea, or
spiritual intuition of God, and allow yourself to bring Him as plaintiff
or defendant into a common-law court,--and then I cannot conceive a
clearer or cleverer piece of special pleading than Asgill has here
given. The language is excellent--idiomatic, simple, perspicuous, at
once significant and lively, that is, expressive of the thought, and
also of a manly proportion of feeling appropriate to it. In short, it is
the ablest attempt to exhibit a scheme of religion without ideas, that
the inherent contradiction in the thought renders possible.

It is of minor importance how a man represents to himself his redemption
by the Word Incarnate,--within what scheme of his understanding he
concludes it, or by what supposed analogies (though actually no better
than metaphors) he tries to conceive it, provided he has a lively faith
in Christ, the Son of the living God, and his Redeemer. The faith may
and must be the same in all who are thereby saved; but every man, more
or less, construes it into an intelligible belief through the shaping
and coloring optical glass of his own individual understanding. Mr.
Asgill has given a very ingenious common-law scheme. 'Valeat quantum
valere potest'! It would make a figure before the Benchers of the Middle
Temple. For myself, I prefer the belief that man was made to know that a
finite free agent could not stand but by the coincidence, and
independent harmony, of a separate will with the will of God. For only
by the will of God can he obey God's will. Man fell as a soul to rise a
spirit. The first Adam was a living soul; the last a life-making spirit.

In the Word was life, and that life is the light of men. And as long as
the light abides within its own sphere, that is, appears as reason,--so
long it is commensurate with the life, and is its adequate
representative. But not so, when this light shines downward into the
understanding; for there it is always, more or less, refracted, and
differently in every different individual; and it must be re-converted
into life to rectify itself, and regain its universality, or
'all-commonness, Allgemeinheit', as the German more expressively says.
Hence in faith and charity the church is catholic: so likewise in the
fundamental articles of belief, which constitute the right reason of
faith. But in the minor 'dogmata', in modes of exposition, and the
vehicles of faith and reason to the understandings, imaginations, and
affections of men, the churches may differ, and in this difference
supply one object for charity to exercise itself on by mutual

O! there is a deep philosophy in the proverbial phrase,--'his heart sets
his head right!' In our commerce with heaven, we must cast our local
coins and tokens into the melting pot of love, to pass by weight and
bullion. And where the balance of trade is so immensely in our favour,
we have little right to complain, though they should not pass for half
the nominal value they go for in our own market.

P. 46.

And I am so far from thinking this covenant of eternal life to be an
allusion to the forms of title amongst men, that I rather adore it as
the precedent for them all, from which our imperfect forms are taken:
believing with that great Apostle, that 'the things on earth are but
the patterns of things in the heavens, where the originals are kept'.

Aye! this, this is the pinch of the argument, which Asgill should have
proved, not merely asserted. Are these human laws, and these forms of
law, absolutely good and wise, or only conditionally so--the limited
powers and intellect, and the corrupt will of men being considered?

P. 64.

And hence, though the dead shall not arise with the same identity of
matter with which they died, yet being in the same form, they will not
know themselves from themselves, being the same to all uses, intents,
and purposes.... But then as God, in the resurrection, is not bound to
use the same matter, neither is he obliged to use a different matter.

The great objection to this part of Asgill's scheme, which has had, and
still, I am told, has, many advocates among the chief dignitaries of our
church, is--that it either takes death as the utter extinction of
being,--or it supposes a continuance, or at least a renewal, of
consciousness after death. The former involves all the irrational, and
all the immoral, consequences of materialism. But if the latter be
granted, the proportionality, adhesion, and symmetry, of the whole
scheme are gone, and the infinite quantity,--that is, immortality under
the curse of estrangement from God,--is rendered a mere supplement
tacked on to the finite, and comparatively insignificant, if not
doubtful, evil, namely, the dissolution of the organic body. See what a
poor hand Asgill makes of it, p. 26:--

And therefore to signify the height of this resentment, God raises man
from the dead to demand further satisfaction of him.

Death is a commitment to the prison of the grave till the judgment of
the great day; and then the grand 'Habeas corpus' will issue 'to the
earth and to the sea', to give up their dead; to remove the bodies,
with the cause of their commitment: and as these causes shall appear,
they shall either be released, or else sentenced to the common goal of
hell, there to remain until satisfaction.

P. 66.

Thou wilt not leave my 'soul' in the grave....

And that it is translated 'soul', is an Anglicism, not understood in
other languages, which have no other word for 'soul' but the same
which is for life.

How so? 'Seele', the soul, 'Leben', life, in German; [Greek: psychae]
and [Greek: zo_ae], in Greek, and so on.

P. 67.

Then to this figure God added 'life', by breathing it into him from
himself, whereby this inanimate body became a living one.

And what was this life? Something, or nothing? And had not, first, the
Spirit, and next the Word, of God infused life into the earth, of which
man as an animal and all other animals were made,--and then, in addition
to this, breathed into man a living soul, which he did not breathe into
the other animals?

P. 75.-78-81. 'ad finem':

I have a great deal of business yet in this world, without doing of
which heaven itself would be uneasy to me.

And therefore do depend, that I shall not be taken hence in the midst
of my days, before I have done all my heart's desire.

But when that is done, I know no business I have with the dead, and
therefore do as much depend that I shall not go hence by 'returning to
the dust', which is the sentence of that law from which I claim a
discharge: but that I shall make my 'exit' by way of translation,
which I claim as a dignity belonging to that degree in the science of
eternal life, of which I profess myself a graduate, according to the
true intent and meaning of the covenant of eternal life revealed in
the Scriptures.

A man so [Greek: kat exochaen] clear-headed, so remarkable for the
perspicuity of his sentences, and the luminous orderliness of his
arrangement,--in short, so consummate an artist in the statement of his
case, and in the inferences from his 'data', as John Asgill must be
allowed by all competent judges to have been,--was he in earnest or in
jest from p. 75 to the end of this treatise?--My belief is, that he
himself did not know. He was a thorough humorist: and so much of will,
with a spice of the wilful, goes to the making up of a humorist's creed,
that it is no easy matter to determine, how far such a man might not
have a pleasure in 'humming' his own mind, and believing, in order to
enjoy a dry laugh at himself for the belief.

But let us look at it in another way. That Asgill's belief, professed
and maintained in this tract, is unwise and odd, I can more readily
grant, than that it is altogether irrational and absurd. I am even
strongly inclined to conjecture, that so early as St. Paul's apostolate
there were persons (whether sufficiently numerous to form a sect or
party, I cannot say), who held the same tenet as Asgill's, and in a more
intolerant and exclusive sense; and that it is to such persons that St.
Paul refers in the justly admired fifteenth chapter of the first epistle
to the Corinthians; and that the inadvertence to this has led a numerous
class of divines to a misconception of the Apostle's reasoning, and a
misinterpretation of his words, in behoof of the Socinian notion, that
the resurrection of Christ is the only argument of proof for the belief
of a future state, and that this was the great end and purpose of this
event. Now this assumption is so destitute of support from the other
writers of the New Testament, and so discordant with the whole spirit
and gist of St. Paul's views and reasoning every where else, that it is
'a priori' probable, that the apparent exception in this chapter is only
apparent. And this the hypothesis, I have here advanced, would enable
one to shew, and to exhibit the true bearing of the texts. Asgill
contents himself with maintaining that translation without death is one,
and the best, mode of passing to the heavenly state. 'Hinc itur ad
astra'. But his earliest predecessors contended that it was the only
mode, and to this St. Paul justly replies:'--If in this life only we
have hope, we are of all men most miserable.'




EDIT. 1712.

P. 28.

For as every faith, or credit, that a man hath attained to, is the
result of some knowledge or other; so that whoever hath attained that
knowledge, hath that faith, (for whatever a man knows, he cannot but

So this 'all faith' being the result of all knowledge,'tis easy to
conceive that whoever had once attained to all that knowledge, nothing
could be difficult to him.

This whole discussion on faith is one of the very few instances, in
which Asgill has got out of his depth. According to all usage of words,
science and faith are incompatible in relation to the same object;
while, according to Asgill, faith is merely the power which science
confers on the will. Asgill says,--What we know, we must believe. I
retort,--What we only believe, we do not know. The 'minor' here is
excluded by, not included in, the 'major'. Minors by difference of
quantity are included in their majors; but minors by difference of
quality are excluded by them, or superseded. Apply this to belief and
science, or certain knowledge. On the confusion of the second, that is,
minors by difference of quality, with the first, or minors by difference
of quantity, rests Asgill's erroneous exposition of faith.



Part I. S.1.

For my religion, though there be several circumstances that might
perswade the world I have none at all, 'as the generall scandall of my
profession', &c.

The historical origin of this scandal, which in nine cases out of ten is
the honour of the medical profession, may, perhaps, be found in the
fact, that AEnesidemus and Sextus Empiricus, the sceptics, were both
physicians, about the close of the second century. [2] A fragment from
the writings of the former has been preserved by Photius, and such as
would leave a painful regret for the loss of the work, had not the
invaluable work of Sextus Empiricus been still extant.

S. 7.

A third there is which I did never positively maintaine or practise,
but have often wished it had been consonant to truth, and not
offensive to my religion, and that is, the prayer for the dead, &c.

Our church with her characteristic Christian prudence does not enjoin
prayer for the dead, but neither does she prohibit it. In its own nature
it belongs to a private aspiration; and being conditional, like all
religious acts not expressed in Scripture, and therefore not combinable
with a perfect faith, it is something between prayer and wish,--an act
of natural piety sublimed by Christian hope, that shares in the light,
and meets the diverging rays, of faith, though it be not contained in
the focus.

S. 13.

He holds no counsell, but that mysticall one of the Trinity, wherein,
though there be three persons, there is but one mind that decrees
without contradiction, &c.

Sir T.B. is very amusing. He confesses his part heresies, which are mere
opinions, while his orthodoxy is full of heretical errors. His Trinity
is a mere trefoil, a 3=1, which is no mystery at all, but a common
object of the senses. The mystery is, that one is three, that is, each
being the whole God.

S. 18.

'Tis not a ridiculous devotion to say a prayer before a game at
tables, &c.

But a great profanation, methinks, and a no less absurdity. Would Sir T.
Brown, before weighing two pigs of lead, A. and B., pray to God that A.
might weigh the heavier? Yet if the result of the dice be at the time
equally believed to be a settled and predetermined effect, where lies
the difference? Would not this apply against all petitionary
prayer?--St. Paul's injunction involves the answer:--'Pray always'.

S. 22.

They who to salve this would make the deluge particular, proceed upon
a principle that I can no way grant, &c.

But according to the Scripture, the deluge was so gentle as to leave
uncrushed the green leaves on the olive tree. If then it was universal,
and if (as with the longevity of the antediluvians it must have been)
the earth was fully peopled, is it not strange that no buildings remain
in the since then uninhabited parts--in America for instance? That no
human skeletons are found may be solved from the circumstance of the
large proportion of phosphoric acid in human bones. But cities and
traces of civilization?--I do not know what to think, unless we might be
allowed to consider Noah a 'homo repraesentativus', or the last and
nearest of a series taken for the whole.

S. 33.

They that to refute the invocation of saints, have denied that they
have any knowledge of our affairs below, have proceeded too farre, and
must pardon my opinion, till I can throughly answer that piece of
Scripture, 'At the conversion of a sinner the angels of Heaven

Take any moral or religious book, and, instead of understanding each
sentence according to the main purpose and intention, interpret every
phrase in its literal sense as conveying, and designed to convey, a
metaphysical verity, or historical fact:--what a strange medley of
doctrines should we not educe? And yet this is the way in which we are
constantly in the habit of treating the books of the New Testament.

S. 34.

And, truely, for the first chapters of 'Genesis' I must confesse a
great deal of obscurity; though divines have to the power of humane
reason endeavored to make all go in a literall meaning, yet those
allegoricall interpretations are also probable, and perhaps, the
mysticall method of Moses bred up in the hieroglyphicall schooles of
the Egyptians.

The second chapter of Genesis from v. 4, and the third chapter are to my
mind, as evidently symbolical, as the first chapter is literal. The
first chapter is manifestly by Moses himself; but the second and third
seem to me of far higher antiquity, and have the air of being translated
into words from graven stones.

S. 48. This section is a series of ingenious paralogisms.

S. 49.

Moses, that was bred up in all the learning of the Egyptians,
committed a grosse absurdity in philosophy, when with these eyes of
flesh he desired to see God, and petitioned his maker, that is, truth
itself, to a contradiction.

Bear in mind the Jehovah 'Logos', the [Symbol: 'O "omega N] [Greek: en
kolp_o patros]--the person 'ad extra',--and few passages in the Old
Testament are more instructive, or of profounder import. Overlook this,
or deny it,--and none so perplexing or so irreconcilable with the known
character of the inspired writer.

S. 50.

For that mysticall metall of gold, whose solary and celestiall nature
I admire, &c.

Rather anti-solar and terrene nature! For gold, most of all metals,
repelleth light, and resisteth that power and portion of the common air,
which of all ponderable bodies is most akin to light, and its surrogate
in the realm of [Greek: antiph'os]; or gravity, namely, oxygen. Gold is
'tellurian' [Greek: kat exochaen] and if solar, yet as in the solidity
and dark 'nucleus' of the sun.

S. 52.

I thank God that with joy I mention it, I was never afraid of hell,

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