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Narrative And Miscellaneous Papers by Thomas De Quincey

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_did_ utter the jest; and 1750 years ago. But who it was that he
stole it from is another question. To all appearance, and according to
Lord Brougham's opinion, the party robbed must have been M. de
Voltaire. I notice the case, however, of the Greek thefts and frauds
committed upon so many of our excellent wits belonging to the 18th and
19th centuries, chiefly with a view to M. de Talleyrand--that rather
middling bishop, but very eminent knave. He also has been extensively
robbed by the Greeks of the 2d and 3d centuries. How else can you
account for so many of his sayings being found amongst _their_
pages? A thing you may ascertain in a moment, at any police office, by
having the Greeks searched: for surely you would never think of
searching a bishop. Most of the Talleyrand jewels will be found
concealed amongst the goods of these unprincipled Greeks. But one, and
the most famous in the whole jewel-case, sorry am I to confess, was
nearly stolen from the Bishop, not by any Greek, but by an English
writer, viz., Goldsmith, who must have been dying about the time that
his Excellency, the diplomatist, had the goodness to be born. That
famous _mot_ about language, as a gift made to man for the purpose
of _concealing_ his thoughts, is lurking in Goldsmith's Essays.
Think of _that!_ Already, in his innocent childhood, whilst the
Bishop was in petticoats, and almost before he had begun to curse and
to swear plainly in French, an Irish vagabond had attempted to swindle
him out of that famous witticism which has since been as good as a
life-annuity to the venerable knave's literary fame.] sometimes, for
instance in Hierocles, sometimes in Diogenes Lrtius, in Plutarch, or
in Athenus. Now the thing you know claimed by so many people, could
not belong to all of them: _all_ of them could not be the inventors.
Logic and common sense unite in showing us that it must have belonged
to the moderns, who had clearly been hustled and robbed by the
ancients, so much more likely to commit a robbery than Christians, they
being all Gentiles--Pagans--Heathen dogs. What do I infer from this?
Why, that upon _any_ solution of the case, hardly one worthy
saying can be mentioned, hardly one jest, pun, or sarcasm, which has
not been the occasion and subject of many falsehoods--as having been
_au-(and men)-daciously_ transferred from generation to generation,
sworn to in every age as this man's property, or that man's,
by people that must have known they were lying, until you retire
from the investigation with a conviction, that under any system of
chronology, the science of lying is the only one that has never
drooped. Date from _Anno Domini_, or from the Julian era, patronize
Olympiads, or patronize (as _I_ do, from misanthropy, because nobody
else _will_) the era of Nabonassar,--no matter, upon every road,
thicker than mile-stones, you see records of human mendacity, or (which
is much worse, in my opinion,) of human sympathy with other people's

This digression, now, on anecdotes,[Footnote: The word 'Anecdotes,'
first, I believe, came into currency about the middle of the 6th
century, from the use made of it by Procopius. _Literally_ it
indicated nothing that could interest either public malice or public
favor; it promised only _unpublished_ notices of the Emperor
Justinian, his wife Theodora, Narses, Belisarius, &c. But _why_
had they been unpublished? Simply because scandalous and defamatory:
and hence, from the interest which invested the case of an imperial
court so remarkable, this oblique, secondary and purely accidental
modification of the word came to influence its _general_ acceptation.
Simply to have been previously unpublished, no longer raised any
statement into an anecdote: it now received a new integration
it must be some fresh publication of _personal_ memorabilia; and
these having reference to _human_ creatures, must always be
presumed to involve more evil than good--much defamation
true or false--much doubtful insinuation--much suggestion of things
worse than could be openly affirmed. So arose the word: but the
_thing_ arose with Suetonius, that dear, excellent and hard-
working 'father of lies.'] is what the learned call an _excursus_,
and, I am afraid, too long by half; not strictly in proportion. But
don't mind _that_. I'll make it all right by being too short upon
something else, at the next opportunity; and then nobody can complain.
Meantime, I argue, that as all brilliant or epigrammatic anecdotes are
probably false, (a thing that hereafter I shall have much pleasure in
making out to the angry reader's satisfaction,) but to a dead certainty
those anecdotes, in particular, which bear marks in their construction
that a rhetorical effect of art had been contemplated by the narrator,
--we may take for granted, that the current stories ascribing modern
wars (French and English) to accidents the most inconsiderable, are
false even in a literal sense; but at all events they are so when
valued philosophically, and brought out into their circumstantial
relations. For instance, we have a French anecdote, from the latter
part of the seventeenth century, which ascribes one bloody war to the
accident of a little 'miff,' arising between the king and his minister
upon some such trifle as the situation of a palace window. Again, from
the early part of the eighteenth century, we have an English anecdote,
ascribing consequences no less bloody to a sudden feud between two
ladies, and that feud, (if I remember,) tracing itself up to a pair of
gloves; so that, in effect, the war and the gloves form the two poles
of the transaction. Harlequin throws a pair of Limerick gloves into a
corn-mill; and the spectator is astonished to see the gloves
immediately issuing from the hopper, well ground into seven armies of
one hundred thousand men each, and with parks of artillery to
correspond. In these two anecdotes, we recognize at once the able and
industrious artist arranging his materials with a pious regard to
theatrical effect. This man knows how to group his figures; well he
understands where to plant his masses of light and shade; and what
impertinence it would be in us spectators, the reader suppose and
myself, to go behind the scenes for critical inquiry into daylight
realities. All reasonable men see that, the less of such realities our
artist had to work with, the more was his merit. I am one of those that
detest all insidious attempts to rob men situated as this artist of
their fair fame, by going about and whispering that perhaps the thing
is true. Far from it! I sympathize with the poor trembling artist, and
agree most cordially that the whole story is a lie; and he may rely
upon my support at all times to the extent of denying that any vestige
of truth probably lay at the foundations of his ingenious apologue. And
what I say of the English fable, I am willing to say of the French one.
Both, I dare say, were the rankest fictions. But next, what, after all,
if they were _not?_ For, in the rear of all discussion upon anecdotes,
considered simply as true or _not_ true, comes finally a _valuation_
of those anecdotes in their moral relation, and as to the inferences
which they will sustain. The story, for example, of the French
minister Louvois, and the adroitness with which he fastened upon
great foreign potentates, in the shape of war, that irritability
of temper in his royal master which threatened to consume himself; the
diplomatic address with which he transmuted suddenly a task so delicate
as that of skirmishing daily in a Council Chamber with his own
sovereign, into that far jollier mode of disputation where one replies
to all objections of the very keenest logician, either with round shot
or with grape; here is an anecdote, which (for my own part) I am
inclined to view as pure gasconade. But suppose the story true, still
it may happen that a better valuation of it may disturb the whole
edifice of logical inferences by which it seemed to favor the
speculations of the war abolitionists. Let us see. What _was_ the
logic through which such a tale as this could lend any countenance to
the schemes of these abolitionists? That logic travelled in the
following channel. Such a tale, or the English tale of the gloves,
being supposed true, it would seem to follow, that war and the purposes
of war were phenomena of chance growth, not attached to any instinct so
ancient, and apparently so grooved into the dark necessities of our
nature, as we had all taken for granted. Usually, we rank war with
hunger, with cold, with sorrow, with death, afflictions of our human
state that spring up as inevitably without separate culture and in
defiance of all hostile culture, as verdure, as weeds, and as flowers
that overspread in spring time a fertile soil without needing to be
sown or watered--awful is the necessity, as it seems, of all such
afflictions. Yet, again, if (as these anecdote simply) war could by
possibility depend frequently on accidents of personal temperament,
irritability in a sensual king, wounded sensibilities of pride between
two sensitive ladies, there in a moment shone forth a light of hope
upon the crusade against war.

If _personal_ accidents could, to any serious extent, be amongst
the causes of war, then it would become a hopeful duty to combine
personal influences that should take an opposite direction. If casual
causes could be supposed chiefly to have promoted war, how easy for a
nation to arrange permanent and determinate causes against it! The
logic of these anecdotes seemed to argue that the whole fountains of
war were left to the government of chance and the windiest of levities;
that war was not in reality roused into activity by the evil that
resides in the human will, but on the contrary, by the simple defect of
any will energetic enough or steady enough to merit that name.
Multitudes of evils exist in our social system, simply because no
steadiness of attention, nor action of combined will, has been
converged upon them. War, by the silent evidence of these anecdotes,
seemed to lie amongst that class of evils. A new era might be expected
to commence in new views upon war; and the evil would be half conquered
from the moment that it should be traced to a trivial or a personal

All this was plausible, but false. The anecdotes, and all similar
anecdotes, might be true, but were delusive. The logical vice in them
was--that they substituted an occasion for a cause. The king's ill
temper for instance, acting through the levity and impatience of the
minister, might be the _causa occasionalis_ of the war, but not
its true _causa efficiens_. What _was?_ Where do the true permanent
causes of war, as distinguished from its proximate excitements,
find their lodgment and abiding ground? They lie in the system
of national competitions; in the common political system to which
all individual nations are unavoidably parties; in the system of
public forces distributed amongst a number of adjacent nations, with no
internal principle for adjusting the equilibrium of these forces, and
no supreme _Areopagus_, or court of appeal, for deciding disputes.
Here lies the _matrix_ of war, because an eternal _matrix_ of
disputes lies in a system of interests that are continually the same,
and therefore the parents of rivalships too close, that are continually
different, and so far the parents of alienation too wide. All war is an
instinctive _nisus_ for redressing the errors of equilibrium in
the relative position of nations amongst nations. Every nation's duty,
first, midst, and last, is to itself. No nation can be safe from
continual (because insensible) losses of ground, but by continual
jealousies, watchings, and ambitious strivings to mend its own
position. Civilities and high-bred courtesies pass and ought to pass
between nations; that is the graceful drapery which shrouds their
natural, fierce, and tiger-like relations to each other. But the
glaring eyes, which express this deep and inalienable ferocity, look
out at intervals from below these gorgeous draperies; and sad it is to
think that at intervals the acts and the temper suitable to those
glaring eyes _must_ come forward. Mr. Carter was on terms of the
most exquisite dissimulation with his lions and tigers; but, as often
as he trusted his person amongst them, if, in the midst of infinite
politeness exchanged on all sides, he saw a certain portentous
expression of mutiny kindling in the eyeball of any discontented tiger,
all was lost, unless he came down instantly upon that tiger's skull
with a blow from an iron bar, that suggested something like apoplexy.
On such terms do nations meet in diplomacy; high consideration for each
other does not conceal the basis of enmity on which they rest; not an
enmity that belongs to their feelings, but to the necessities of their
position. Every nation in negotiating has its right hand upon the hilt
of its sword, and at intervals playfully unsheaths a little of its
gleaming blade. As things stand at present, war and peace are bound
together like the vicissitudes of day and night, of Castor and Pollux.
It matters little which bucket of the two is going up at the moment,
which going down. Both are steadfastly tied by a system of alternations
to a revolving wheel; and a new war as certainly becomes due during the
evolutions of a tedious peace, as a new peace may be relied on during
the throes of a bloody war, to tranquillize its wounds. Consequently,
when the arrogant Louvois carried a war to the credit of his own little
account on the national leger of France, this coxcomb well knew that a
war was at any rate due about that time. Really, says he, I must find
out some little war to exhaust the _surplus_ irritability of this
person, or he'll be the death of me. But irritable or not irritable,
with a puppy for his minister or not, the French king would naturally
have been carried headlong into war by the mere system of Europe,
within a very few months. So much had the causes of complaint
reciprocally accumulated. The account must be cleansed, the court roll
of grievances must be purged. With respect to the two English ladies
again, it is still more evident that they could not have _caused_
a war by pulling caps with each other, since the grounds of every war,
what had caused it, and prolonged it, was sure to be angrily reviewed
by Parliament at each annual exposition of the Finance Minister's
Budget. These ladies, and the French coxcomb, could at the utmost have
claimed a distinction--such as that which belonged to a particular
Turkish gunner, the captain of a gun at Navarino, viz., that he, by
firing the first shot without orders, did (as a matter of fact) let
loose and unmuzzle the whole of that dreadful iron hurricane from four
nations which instantly followed, but which (be it known to the gunner)
could not have been delayed for fifty minutes longer, whether he had
fired the unauthorized gun or not.

But now, let me speak to the second proposition of my two-headed
thesis, viz., that war _ought_ not to be abolished, if such an
abolition were even possible. _Prima facie_, it seems a dreadful
doctrine to claim a place for war as amongst the evils that are
salutary to man; but conscientiously I hold it to be such. I hold with
Wordsworth, but for reasons which may or may not be the same, since he
has not stated _his_--

'That God's most dreaded instrument,
In working out a pure intent,
Is man--array'd for mutual slaughter:
Yea, Carnage is his daughter.'

I am obliged to hold, that supposing so romantic a condition realized
as the cessation of war, this change, unless other evils were
previously abolished, or neutralized in a way still more romantic to
suppose, would not be for the welfare of human nature, but would tend
to its rapid degradation.

One, in fact, of the earliest aspects under which this moral necessity
for war forces itself upon our notice, is its physical necessity. I
mean to say that one of the earliest reasons why war _ought_ to
exist, is because under any mode of suppressing war, virtually it
_will_ exist. Banish war as now administered, and it will revolve
upon us in a worse shape, that is, in a shape of predatory and ruffian
war, more and more licentious, as it enjoys no privilege or sufferance,
by the supposition, under the national laws. Will the causes of war die
away because war is forbidden? Certainly not; and the only result of
the prohibition would be to throw back the exercise of war from
national into private and mercenary hands; and _that_ is precisely
the retrograde or inverse course of civilization; for, in the natural
order of civilization, war passes from the hands of knights, barons,
insulated cities, into those of the universal community. If, again, it
is attempted to put down this lawless _guerilla_ state by national
forces, then the result will be to have established an interminable
warfare of a mixed character, private and public, civil and foreign,
infesting the frontiers of all states like a fever, and in substitution
for the occasional and intermitting wars of high national police,
administered with the dignified responsibility that belongs to supreme
rank, with the humanity that belongs to conscious power, and with the
diminishing havoc that belongs to increasing skill in the arts of
destruction. Even as to this last feature in warfare, which in the war
of brigands and _condottieri_ would for many reasons instantly
decay, no reader can fail to be aware of the marvels effected by the
forces of inventive science that run along side by side with the
advances of civilization; look back even to the grandest period of the
humane Roman warfare, listen to the noblest and most merciful of all
Roman captains, saying on the day of Pharsalia, (and saying of
necessity,) 'Strike at their faces, cavalry,'--yes, absolutely
directing his own troopers to plough up with their sabres the blooming
faces of the young Roman nobility; and then pass to a modern field of
battle, where all is finished by musquetry and artillery amidst clouds
of smoke, no soldier recognizing his own desolations, or the ghastly
ruin of his own right arm, so that war, by losing all its brutality, is
losing half of its demoralization.

War, so far from ending, because war was forbidden and nationally
renounced, on the contrary would transmigrate into a more fearful
shape. As things are at present, (and, observe, they are always growing
better,) what numbers of noble-minded men, in the persons of our
officers (yes, and often of non-commissioned officers,) do we British,
for example, disperse over battle-fields, that could not dishonor their
glorious uniform by any countenance to an act of cruelty! They are eyes
delegated from the charities of our domestic life, to overlook and curb
the license of war. I remember, in Xenophon, some passage where he
describes a class of Persian gentlemen, who were called the
_ophthalmoi_, or _eyes_ of the king; but for a very different
purpose. These British officers may be called the _opthalmoi_, or
eyes of our Sovereign Lady, that into every corner of the battle carry
their scrutiny, lest any cruelty should be committed on the helpless,
or any advantage taken of a dying enemy. But mark, such officers would
be rare in the irregular troops succeeding to the official armies. And
through this channel, amongst others, war, when cried down by act of
Parliament, and precisely _because_ it was cried down, would
become more perilously effective for the degradation of human nature.
Being itself dishonored, war would become the more effective as an
instrument for the dishonoring of its agents. However, at length, we
will suppose the impossible problem solved--war, we will assume, is at
last put down.

At length there is no more war. Though by the way, let me whisper in
your ear, (supposing you to be a Christian,) this would be a
prelibation drawn prematurely from the cup of millennial happiness;
and, strictly speaking, there is no great homage to religion, even thus
far--in figuring _that_ to be the purchase of man for himself, and
through his own efforts, which is viewed by Scripture as a glory
removed to the infinite and starry distance of a millennium, and as the
_teleutaion epigeinaema_, the last crowning attainment of
Christian truth, no longer _militant_ on earth. Christianity it
is, but Christianity when _triumphant_, and no longer in conflict
with adverse, or thwarting, or limiting influences, which only can be
equal to a revolution so mighty. But all this, for the sake of pursuing
the assumption, let us agree to waive. In reality, there are two
separate stations taken up by the war denouncers. One class hold, that
an influence derived from political economy is quite equal to the
flying leap by which man is to clear this unfathomable gulph of war,
and to land his race for ever on the opposite shore of a self-
sustaining peace. Simply, the contemplation of national debts, (as a
burthen which never would have existed without war,) and a computation
of the waste, havoc, unproductive labor, &c., attached to any single
campaign--these, they imagine, might suffice, _per se_, for the
extinction of war. But the other class cannot go along with a
speculation so infirm. Reasons there are, in the opposite scale,
tempting man into war,--which are far mightier than any motives
addressed to his self-interest. Even straining her energies to the
utmost, they regard all policy of the _purse_ as adequate: anything
short of religion, they are satisfied, must be incommensurate to a
result so vast.

I myself certainly agree with this last class; but upon this arises a
delusion, which I shall have some trouble in making the reader
understand: and of this I am confident-that a majority, perhaps, in
every given amount of readers, will share in the delusion; will part
from me in the persuasion that the error I attempt to expose is no
error at all, but that it is myself who am in the wrong. The delusion
which I challenge as such, respects the very meaning and value of a
sacrifice made to Christianity. What is it? what do we properly mean,
by a concession or a sacrifice made to a spiritual power, such as
Christianity? If a king and his people, impressed by the unchristian
character of war, were to say, in some solemn act--'We, the parties
undersigned, for the reasons stated in the body of this document,
proclaim to all nations, that from and after Midsummer eve of the year
1850, this being the eve of St. John the Baptist, (who was the herald
of Christ,) we will no more prosecute any interest of ours, unless the
one sole interest of national defence, by means of war,--and this
sacrifice we make as a concession and act of homage to Christianity,--
would _that_ vow, I ask, sincerely offered, and steadily observed,
really be a sacrifice made to Christianity? Not at all. A sacrifice,
that was truly such, to a spiritual religion, must be a sacrifice not
verbally (though sincerely) dedicating itself to the religion, but a
sacrifice wrought and accomplished by that religion, through and by its
own spirit. Midsummer eve of 1850 could clearly make no spiritual
change in the king or his people--such they would be on the morning
after St. John's day, as on the morning before it--_i. e._, filled
with all elements (though possibly undeveloped) of strife, feud,
pernicious ambition,

The delusion, therefore, which I charge upon this religious class of
war denouncers is, that whilst they see and recognize this infinite
imperfection of any influence which Christianity yet exercises upon the
world, they nevertheless rely upon that acknowledged shadow for the
accomplishment of what would, in such circumstances, be a real miracle;
they rely upon that shadow, as truly and entirely as if it were already
that substance which, in a vast revolution of ages, it will finally
become. And they rely upon this mockery in _two_ senses; first,
for the _endurance_ of the frail human resolution that would thaw
in an hour before a great outrage, or provocation suited to the nobler
infirmities of man. Secondly, which is the point I mainly aim at,
assuming, for a moment, that the resolution _could_ endure,
amongst all mankind, we are all equally convinced, that an evil so vast
is not likely to be checked or controlled, except by some very
extraordinary power. Well, where _is_ it? Show me that power. I
know of none but Christianity. _There_, undoubtedly, is hope. But,
in order that the hope may become rational, the power must become
practical. And practical it is not in the extent required, until this
Christianity, from being dimly appreciated by a section [Footnote
_What_ section, if you please? I, for my part, do not agree with
those that geographically degrade Christianity as occupying but a
trifle on the area of our earth. Mark this; all Eastern populations
have dwindled upon better acquaintance. Persia that _ought_ to
have, at least, two hundred and fifty millions of people, and
_would_ have them under English government, and once was supposed
to have at least one hundred millions, how many millions has she?
_Eight!_ This was ascertained by Napoleon's emissary in 1808,
General Gardanne. Afghanistan has very little more, though some falsely
count fourteen millions. There go two vast chambers of Mahometanism;
not twenty millions between them. Hindostan may _really_ have one
hundred and twenty millions claimed for her. As to the Burman Empire,
I, nor anybody else knows the truth. But, as to China, I have never for
a moment been moved by those ridiculous estimates of the flowery
people, which our simple countrymen copy. Instead of three hundred and
fifty millions, a third of the human race upon the most exaggerated
estimate, read eighty or one hundred millions at most. Africa, as it
regards religion, counts for a cipher. Europe, America, and the half of
Asia, as to space, are Christian. Consequently, the total _facit_,
as regards Christianity, is not what many amiable infidels make it to
be. My dears, your wish was father to that thought.] of this world,
shall have been the law that overrides the whole. That consummation is
not immeasurably distant. Even now, from considerations connected with
China, with New Zealand, Borneo, Australia, we may say, that already
the fields are white for harvest. But alas! the interval is brief
between Christianity small, and Christianity great, as regards space or
terraqueous importance, compared with that interval which separates
Christianity formally professed, from Christianity thankfully
acknowledged by universal man in beauty and power.

Here, therefore, is one spoke in the wheel for so vast a change as war
dethroned, viz., that you see no cause, though you should travel round
the whole horizon, adequate to so prodigious an effect. What could do
it? Why, Christianity could do it. Aye, true; but man disarms
Christianity. And no mock Christianity, no lip homage to Christianity,
will answer.

But is war, then, to go on for ever? Are we never to improve? Are
nations to conduct their intercourse eternally under the secret
understanding that an unchristian solution of all irreconcileable feuds
stands in the rear as the ultimate appeal? I answer that war, going on
even for ever, may still be for ever amending its modes and its results
upon human happiness; secondly, that we not only are under no fatal
arrest in our process of improvement, but that, as regards war, history
shows how steadily we _have_ been improving; and, thirdly, that
although war may be irreversible as the last resource, this last
resource may constantly be retiring further into the rear. Let us speak
to this last point. War is the last resource only, because other and
more intellectual resources for solving disputes are not available. And
_why_ are they not? Simply, because the knowledge, and the logic,
which ultimately will govern the case, and the very circumstances of
the case itself in its details, as the basis on which this knowledge
and logic are to operate, happen not to have been sufficiently
developed. A code of law is not a spasmodic effort of gigantic talent
in any one man or any one generation; it is a slow growth of accidents
and occasions expanding with civilization; dependent upon time as a
multiform element in its development; and presupposing often a
concurrent growth of _analogous_ cases towards the completion of
its system. For instance, the law which regulates the rights of
shipping, seafaring men, and maritime commerce--how slow was its
development! Before such works as the _Consolato del Mare_ had
been matured, how wide must have been the experience, and how slow its
accumulation! During that long period of infancy for law, how many must
have been the openings for ignorant and unintentional injustice! How
differently, again, will the several parties to any transaction
construe the rights of the case! Discussion, without rules for guiding
it, will but embitter the dispute. And in the absence of all guidance
from the intellect, gradually weaving a _common_ standard of
international appeal, it is clear that nations _must_ fight, and
_ought_ to fight. Not being convinced, it is base to pretend that
you _are_ convinced; and failing to be convinced by your neighbor's
arguments, you confess yourself a poltroon (and moreover you
_invite_ injuries from every neighbor) if you pocket your wrongs.
The only course in such a case is to thump your neighbor, and to thump
him soundly for the present. This treatment is very serviceable to your
neighbor's optics; he sees things in a new light after a sufficient
course of so distressing a regimen. But mark, even in this case, war
has no tendency to propagate war, but tends to the very opposite
result. To thump is as costly, and in other ways as painful, as to
_be_ thumped. The evil to both sides arises in an undeveloped
state of law. If rights were defined by a well considered code growing
out of long experience, each party sees that this scourge of war would
continually tend to limit itself. Consequently the very necessity of
war becomes the strongest invitation to that system of judicial logic
which forms its sole limitation. But all war whatsoever stands in these
circumstances. It follows that all war whatever, unless on the brutal
principle of a Spartan warfare, that made war its own sufficient object
and self-justification, operates as a perpetual bounty offered to men
upon the investigation and final adjudication of those disputed cases
through which war prospers. Hence it is, viz., because the true
boundaries of reciprocal rights are for ever ascertaining themselves
more clearly, that war is growing less frequent. The fields open to
injustice (which originally from pure ignorance are so vast)
continually (through deeper and more expansive surveys by man's
intellect--searching--reflecting--comparing) are narrowing themselves;
narrowing themselves in this sense, that all nations under a common
centre of religious civilization, as Christendom suppose, or Islamism,
would not fight--no, and would not (by the national sense of wrong and
right) be permitted to fight--in a cause _confessedly_ condemned
by equity as now developed. The causes of war that still remain, are
causes on which international law is silent--that large arrear of cases
as yet unsettled; or else they are cases in which though law speaks
with an authentic voice, it speaks in vain, because the circumstances
are doubtful; so that, if the law is fixed as a lamp nailed to a wall,
yet the _incidence_ of the law on the particular circumstances,
becomes as doubtful as the light of the lamp upon objects that are
capriciously moving. We see all this illustrated in a class of cases
that powerfully illustrate the good and the bad in war, the why and the
wherefore, as likewise the why _not_, and therefore I presume the
wherefore _not_; and this class of cases belongs to the _lex
vicinitatis_. In the Roman law this section makes a great figure.
And speaking accurately, it makes a greater in our own. But the reason
why this _law of neighborhood_ seems to fill so much smaller a
section in ours, is because in English law, being _positively_ a
longer section, _negatively_ to the whole compass of our law, it
is less. The Roman law would have paved a road to the moon. And what is
_that_ expressed in time? Let us see: a railway train, worked at
the speed of the Great Western Express, accomplishes easily a thousand
miles in twenty-four hours; consequently in two hundred and forty days
or eight months it would run into the moon with its buffers, and break
up the quarters of that Robinson Crusoe who (and without any Friday) is
the only policeman that parades that little pensive appendage or tender
to our fuming engine of an earth. But the English law--oh frightful
reader, don't even think of such a question as its relation in space
and time to the Roman law. That it would stretch to the fixed stars is
plain, but to which of them,--don't now, dear persecuting reader,
unsettle our brains by asking. Enough it is that both in Roman and
English law the rights of neighborhood are past measuring. Has a man a
right to play the German flute, where the partitions are slender, all
day long in the house adjoining to yours? Or, supposing a beneficent
jury (beneficent to _him_) finds this to be no legal nuisance, has
he a right to play it ill? Or, because juries, when tipsy, will wink at
anything, does the privilege extend to the jew's-harp? to the poker and
tongs? to the marrowbones and cleavers? Or, without ranging through the
whole of the _Spectator's_ culinary music, will the bagpipes be
found within benefit of jury law? _War to the knife_ I say, before
we'll submit to _that_. And if the law won't protect us against
it, then we'll turn rebels.

Now this law of neighborhood, this _lex vicinitatis_, amongst the
Romans, righted itself and settled itself, as amongst ourselves it
continues to do, by means of actions or legal suits. If a man poisons
us with smoke, we compel him by an action to eat his own smoke, or (if
he chooses) to make his chimneys eat it. Here you see is a transmuted
war; in a barbarous state, fire and sword would have avenged this
invasion of smoke; but amongst civilized men, paper bullets in the form
of _Qui tam_ and _Scire facias_, beat off the enemy. And on the same
principle, exactly as the law of international rights clears up its
dark places, war gradually narrows its grounds, and the _jus gentium_
defines itself through national attorneys, _i. e._, diplomatists.

For instance, now I have myself seen a case where a man cultivating a
flower-garden, and distressed for some deliverance from his rubbish of
dead leaves, litter, straw, stones, took the desperate resolution of
projecting the whole upon his neighbor's flower-garden. I, a chance
spectator of the outrage, knew too much of this world to lodge any
protest against it, on the principle of mere abstract justice; so it
would have passed unnoticed, but for the accident that his injured
neighbor unexpectedly raised up his head above the dividing wall, and
reproached the aggressor with his unprincipled conduct. This aggressor,
adding evil to evil, suggested as the natural remedy for his own wrong,
that the sufferer should pass the nuisance onwards to the garden next
beyond him; from which it might be posted forward on the same
principle. The aggrieved man, however, preferred passing it back,
without any discount to the original proprietor. Here now, is a ripe
case, a _causa teterrima_, for war between the parties, and for a
national war had the parties been nations. In fact, the very same
injury, in a more aggravated shape, is perpetrated from time to time by
Jersey upon ourselves, and would, upon a larger scale, right itself by
war. Convicts are costly to maintain; and Jersey, whose national
revenue is limited, being too well aware of this, does us the favor to
land upon the coasts of Hampshire, Dorset, &c., all the criminals whom
she cannot summarily send back to self-support, at each jail-delivery.
'What are we to do in England?' is the natural question propounded by
the injured scoundrels, when taking leave of their Jersey escort.
'Anything you please,' is the answer: 'rise if you can, to be dukes:
only never come back hither; since, dukes or _no_ dukes, to the
rest of Christendom, to _us_ of the Channel Islands you will
always be transported felons.' There is therefore a good right of
action, _i.e._, a good ground of war, against Jersey, on the part
of Great Britain, since, besides the atrocious injury inflicted, this
unprincipled little island has the audacity to regard our England, (all
Europe looking on,) as existing only for the purposes of a sewer or
cess-pool to receive _her_ impurities. Some time back I remember a
Scottish newspaper holding up the case as a newly discovered horror in
the social system. But, in a quiet way Jersey has always been engaged
in this branch of exportation, and rarely fails to 'run' a cargo of
rogues upon our shore, once or so in the season. What amuses one
besides, in this Scottish denunciation of the villany, is, that
Scotland [Footnote: To banish them 'forth of the kingdom,' was the
_euphuismus_; but the reality understood was--to carry the knaves,
like foxes in a bag, to the English soil, and there unbag them for
English use.] of old, pursued the very same mode of jail-delivery as to
knaves that were not thought ripe enough for hanging: she carted them
to the English border, unchained them, and hurried them adrift into the
wilderness, saying--Now, boys, shift for yourselves, and henceforth
plunder none but Englishmen.

What I deduce from all this is, that as the feuds arising between
individuals under the relation of neighbors, are so far from tending to
a hostile result, that, on the contrary, as coming under a rule of law
already ascertained, or furnishing the basis for a new rule, they
gradually tighten the cords which exclude all opening for quarrel; not
otherwise is the result, and therefore the usefulness, of war amongst
nations. All the causes of war, the occasions upon which it is likely
to arise, the true and the ostensible motives, are gradually evolved,
are examined, searched, valued, by publicists; and by such means, in
the further progress of men, a comprehensive law of nations will
finally be accumulated, not such as now passes for international law,
(a worthless code that _has_ no weight in the practice of nations,
nor deserves any,) but one which will exhaust the great body of cases
under which wars have arisen under the Christian era, and gradually
collect a public opinion of Christendom upon the nature of each
particular case. The causes that _have_ existed for war are the
causes that _will_ exist; or, at least, they are the same under
modifications that will simply vary the rule, as our law cases in the
courts are every day circumstantiating the particular statute
concerned. At this stage of advance, and when a true European opinion
has been created, a '_sensus communis_,' or community of feeling
on the main classifications of wars, it will become possible to erect a
real Areopagus, or central congress for all Christendom, not with any
commission to suppress wars,--a policy which would neutralize itself by
reacting as a fresh cause of war, since high-spirited nations would arm
for the purpose of resisting such decrees; but with the purpose and the
effect of oftentimes healing local or momentary animosities, and also
by publishing the opinion of Europe, assembled in council, with the
effect of taking away the shadow of dishonor from the act of retiring
from war. Not to mention that the mere delay, involved in the waiting
for the solemn opinion of congress, would always be friendly to pacific
councils. But _would_ the belligerents wait? That concession might
be secured by general exchange of treaties, in the same way that the
cooperation of so many nations has been secured to the suppression of
the trade in slaves. And one thing is clear, that when all the causes
of war, involving _manifest_ injustice, are banished by the force
of European opinion, focally converged upon the subject, the range of
war will be prodigiously circumscribed. The costliness of war, which,
for various reasons has been continually increasing since the feudal
period, will operate as another limitation upon its field, concurring
powerfully with the public declaration from a council of collective

There is, besides, a distinct and separate cause of war, more fatal to
the possibilities of peace in Europe than open injustice; and this
cause being certainly in the hands of nations to deal with as they
please, there is a tolerable certainty that a congress _sincerely_
pacific would cut it up by the roots. It is a cause noticed by Kant in
his Essay on Perpetual Peace, and with great sagacity, though otherwise
that little work is not free from visionary self-delusions: and this
cause lies in the diplomacy of Europe. Treaties of peace are so
constructed, as almost always to sow the seeds of future wars. This
seems to the inexperienced reader a matter of carelessness or laxity in
the choice of expression; and sometimes it may have been so; but more
often it has been done under the secret dictation of powerful courts--
making peaces only as truces, anxious only for time to nurse their
energies, and to keep open some plausible call for war. This is not
only amongst the most extensive causes of war, but the very worst:
because it gives a colorable air of justice, and almost of necessity to
a war, which is, in fact, the most outrageously unjust, as being
derived from a pretext silently prepared in former years, with mere
subtlety of malice: it is a war growing out of occasions, forged
beforehand, lest no occasions should spontaneously arise. Now, this
cause of war could and would be healed by a congress, and through an
easy reform in European diplomacy.[Footnote: One great _nidus_ of
this insidious preparation for war under the very masque of peace,
which Kant, from brevity, has failed to particularize, lies in the
neglecting to make any provision for cases that are likely enough to
arise. A, B, C, D, are all equally possible, but the treaty provides a
specific course of action only for A, suppose. Then upon B or C
arising, the high contracting parties, though desperately and equally
pacific, find themselves committed to war actually by a treaty of
lasting peace. Their pacific majesties sigh, and say--Alas! that it
should be so, but really fight we must, for what says the treaty?]

It is the strongest confirmation of the power inherent in growing
civilization, to amend war, and to narrow the field of war, if we look
back for the records of the changes in this direction which have
already arisen in generations before our own.

The most careless reviewer of history can hardly fail to read a rude
outline of progress made by men in the rights, and consequently in the
duties of war through the last twenty-five centuries. It is a happy
circumstance for man--that oftentimes he is led by pure selfishness
into reforms, the very same as high principle would have prompted; and
in the next stage of his advance, when once habituated to an improved
code of usages, he begins to find a gratification to his sensibilities,
(partly luxurious sensibilities, but partly moral,) in what originally
had been a mere movement of self-interest. Then comes a third stage, in
which having thoroughly reconciled himself to a better order of things,
and made it even necessary to his own comfort, at length he begins in
his reflecting moments to perceive a moral beauty and a fitness in
arrangements that had emanated from accidents of convenience, so that
finally he generates a sublime pleasure of conscientiousness out of
that which originally commenced in the meanest forms of mercenary
convenience. A Roman lady of rank, out of mere voluptuous regard to her
own comfort, revolted from the harsh clamors of eternal chastisements
inflicted on her numerous slaves; she forbade them; the grateful slaves
showed their love for her; gradually and unintentionally she trained
her feelings, when thus liberated from a continual temptation to the
sympathies with cruelty, into a demand for gentler and purer
excitement. Her purpose had been one of luxury; but, by the benignity
of nature still watching for ennobling opportunities, the actual result
was a development given to the higher capacities of her heart. In the
same way, when the brutal right (and in many circumstances the brutal
duty) of inflicting death upon prisoners taken in battle, had exchanged
itself for the profits of ransom or slavery, this relaxation of
ferocity (though commencing in selfishness) gradually exalted itself
into a habit of mildness, and some dim perception of a sanctity in
human life. The very vice of avarice ministered to the purification of
barbarism; and the very evil of slavery in its earliest form was
applied to the mitigation of another evil--war conducted in the spirit
of piratical outrage. The commercial instincts of men having worked one
set of changes in war, a second set of changes was prompted by
instincts derived from the arts of ornament and pomp. Splendor of arms,
of banners, of equipages, of ceremonies, and the elaborate forms of
intercourse with enemies through conferences, armistices, treaties of
peace, &c., having tamed the savagery of war into connection with modes
of intellectual grandeur, and with the endless restraints of
superstition or scrupulous religion,--a permanent light of civilization
began to steal over the bloody shambles of buccaneering warfare. Other
modes of harmonizing influences arose more directly from the bosom of
war itself. Gradually the mere practice of war, and the culture of war
though merely viewed as a rude trade of bloodshed, ripened into an
intellectual art. Were it merely with a view to more effectual carnage,
this art (however simple and gross at first) opened at length into wide
scientific arts, into strategies, into tactics, into castrametation,
into poliorcetics, and all the processes through which the first rude
efforts of martial cunning finally connect themselves with the
exquisite resources of science. War, being a game in which each side
forces the other into the instant adoption of all improvements through
the mere necessities of self-preservation, became continually more

It is interesting to observe the steps by which, were it only through
impulses of self-conservation, and when searching with a view to more
effectual destructiveness, war did and must refine itself from a horrid
trade of butchery into a magnificent and enlightened science. Starting
from no higher impulse or question than how to cut throats most
rapidly, most safely, and on the largest scale, it has issued even at
our own stage of advance into a science, magnificent, oftentimes
ennobling, and cleansed from all horrors except those which (not being
within man's power utterly to divorce from it) no longer stand out as
reproaches to his humanity.

Meantime a more circumstantial review of war, in relation to its
motives and the causes assigned for its justification, would expose a
series of changes greater perhaps than the reader is aware of. Such a
review, which would too much lengthen a single paper, may or may not
form the subject of a second. And I will content myself with saying, as
a closing remark, that this review will detect a principle of steady
advance in the purification and elevation of war--such as must offer
hope to those who believe in the possibility of its absolute
extermination, and must offer consolation to those who (like myself)
deny it.


I take it for granted that every person of education will acknowledge
some interest in the personal history of Immanuel Kant. A great man,
though in an unpopular path, must always be an object of liberal
curiosity. To suppose a reader thoroughly indifferent to Kant, is to
suppose him thoroughly unintellectual; and, therefore, though in
reality he should happen _not_ to regard him with interest, it is
one of the fictions of courtesy to presume that he does. On this
principle I make no apology to the reader for detaining him upon a
short sketch of Kant's life and domestic habits, drawn from the
authentic records of his friends and pupils. It is true, that, without
any illiberality on the part of the public in this country, the
_works_ of Kant are not regarded with the same interest which has
gathered about his _name_; and this may be attributed to three
causes--first, to the language in which they are written; secondly, to
the supposed obscurity of the philosophy which they teach, whether
intrinsic or due to Kant's particular mode of expounding it; thirdly,
to the unpopularity of all speculative philosophy, no matter how
treated, in a country where the structure and tendency of society
impress upon the whole activities of the nation a direction exclusively
practical. But, whatever may be the immediate fortunes of his writings,
no man of enlightened curiosity will regard the author himself without
something of a profounder interest. Measured by one test of power,
viz., by the number of books written directly for or against himself,
to say nothing of those which he has indirectly modified, there is no
philosophic writer whatsoever, if we except Aristotle, who can pretend
to approach Kant in the extent of the influence which he has exercised
over the minds of men. Such being his claims upon our notice, I repeat
that it is no more than a reasonable act of respect to the reader--to
presume in him so much interest about Kant as will justify a sketch of
his life.

Immanuel Kant, [Footnote: By the paternal side, the family of Kant was
of Scotch derivation; and hence it is that the name was written by Kant
the father--_Cant_, that being a Scotch name, and still to be found
in Scotland. But Immanuel, though he always cherished his Scotch
descent, substituted a _K_ for a _C_, in order to adapt it better
to the analogies of the German language.] the second of six
children, was born at Knigsberg, in Prussia, a city at that time
containing about fifty thousand inhabitants, on the 22d of April, 1724.
His parents were people of humble rank, and not rich even for their own
station, but able (with some assistance from a near relative, and a
trifle in addition from a gentleman, who esteemed them for their piety
and domestic virtues,) to give their son Immanuel a liberal education.
He was sent when a child to a charity school; and, in the year 1732,
removed to the Royal (or Frederician) Academy. Here he studied the
Greek and Latin classics, and formed an intimacy with one of his
schoolfellows, David Ruhnken, (afterwards so well known to scholars
under his Latin name of Ruhn-kenius,) which lasted until the death of
the latter. In 1737, Kant lost his mother, a woman of excellent
character, and of accomplishments and knowledge beyond her rank, who
contributed to the future eminence of her illustrious son by the
direction which she gave to his youthful thoughts, and by the elevated
morals to which she trained him. Kant never spoke of her to the end of
his life without the utmost tenderness, and acknowledgment of his great
obligations to her maternal care. In 1740, at Michlmas, he entered the
University of Knigsberg. In 1746, when about twenty-two years old, he
printed his first work, upon a question partly mathematical and partly
philosophic, viz., the valuation of living forces. The question had
been first moved by Leibnitz, in opposition to the Cartesians, and was
here finally settled, after having occupied most of the great
mathematicians of Europe for more than half a century. It was dedicated
to the King of Prussia, but never reached him--having, in fact, never
been published. [Footnote: To this circumstance we must attribute its
being so little known amongst the philosophers and mathematicians of
foreign countries, and also the fact that D'Alembert, whose philosophy
was miserably below his mathematics, many years afterwards still
continued to represent the dispute as a verbal one.] From this time
until 1770, he supported himself as a private tutor in different
families, or by giving private lectures in Knigsberg, especially to
military men on the art of fortification. In 1770, he was appointed to
the Chair of Mathematics, which he exchanged soon after for that of
Logic and Metaphysics. On this occasion, he delivered an inaugural
disputation--[_De Mundi Sensibilis atque Intelligibilis Forma et
Principiis_]--which is remarkable for containing the first germs of
the Transcendental Philosophy. In 1781, he published his great work,
the _Critik der Reinen Vernunft,_ or _Investigation of the Pure
Reason_. On February 12, 1804, he died.

These are the great epochs of Kant's life. But his was a life
remarkable not so much for its incidents, as for the purity and
philosophic dignity of its daily tenor; and of this the best impression
will be obtained from Wasianski's account of his last years, checked
and supported by the collateral testimonies of Jachmann, Rink,
Borowski, and other biographers. We see him here struggling with the
misery of decaying faculties, and with the pain, depression, and
agitation of two different complaints, one affecting his stomach, and
the other his head; over all which the benignity and nobility of his
mind are seen victoriously eminent to the last. The principal defect of
this and all other memoirs of Kant is, that they report too little of
his conversation and opinions. And perhaps the reader will be disposed
to complain, that some of the notices are too minute and
circumstantial, so as to be at one time undignified, and at another
unfeeling. As to the first objection, it may be answered, that
biographical gossip of this sort, and ungentlemanly scrutiny into a
man's private life, though not what a man of honor would choose to
write, may be read without blame; and, where a great man is the
subject, sometimes with advantage. With respect to the other objection,
I know not how to excuse Mr. Wasianski for kneeling at the bed-side of
his dying friend, to record, with the accuracy of a short-hand
reporter, the last flutter of his pulse and the struggles of expiring
nature, except by supposing that the idea of Kant, as a person
belonging to all ages, in his mind transcended and extinguished the
ordinary restraints of human sensibility, and that, under this
impression, he gave _that_ to his sense of a public duty which, it
may be hoped, he would willingly have declined on the impulse of his
private affections.

_The following paper on The Last Days of Kant, is gathered from the
German of Wasianski, Jachmann, Borowski, and others._

My knowledge of Professor Kant began long before the period to which
this little memorial of him chiefly refers. In the year 1773, or 1774,
I cannot exactly remember which, I attended his lectures. Afterwards, I
acted as his amanuensis; and in that office was naturally brought into
a closer connection with him than any other of his pupils; so that,
without any request on my part, he granted me a general privilege of
free admission to his class-room. In 1780 I took orders, and withdrew
myself from all connection with the university. I still continued,
however, to reside in Knigsberg; but wholly forgotten, or wholly
unnoticed at least, by Kant. Ten years afterwards, (that is to say, in
1790,) I met him by accident at a party given on occasion of the
marriage of one of the professors. At table, Kant distributed his
conversation and attentions pretty generally; but after the
entertainment, when the company broke up into parties, he came and
seated himself very obligingly by my side. I was at that time a
florist--an amateur, I mean, from the passion I had for flowers; upon
learning which, he talked of my favorite pursuit, and with very
extensive information. In the course of our conversation, I was
surprised to find that he was perfectly acquainted with all the
circumstances of my situation. He reminded me of our previous
connection; expressed his satisfaction at finding that I was happy; and
was so good as to desire that, if my engagements allowed me, I would
now and then come and dine with him. Soon after this, he rose to take
his leave; and, as our road lay the same way, he proposed to me that I
should accompany him home. I did so, and received an invitation for the
next week, with a general invitation for every week after, and
permission to name my own day. At first I was unable to explain the
distinction with which Kant had treated me; and I conjectured that some
obliging friend had spoken of me in his hearing, somewhat more
advantageously than I could pretend to deserve; but more intimate
experience has convinced me that he was in the habit of making
continual inquiries after the welfare of his former pupils, and was
heartily rejoiced to hear of their prosperity. So that it appeared I
was wrong in thinking he had forgotten me.

This revival of my intimacy with Professor Kant, coincided pretty
nearly, in point of time, with a complete change in his domestic
arrangements. Up to this period it had been his custom to eat at a
_table d'hte_. But he now began to keep house himself, and every
day invited two friends to dine with him, and upon any little festival
from five to eight; for he was a punctual observer of Lord
Chesterfield's rule--that his dinner party, himself included, should
not fall below the number of the Graces--nor exceed that of the Muses.
In the whole economy of his household arrangements, and especially of
his dinner parties, there was something peculiar and amusingly opposed
to the usual conventional restraints of society; not, however, that
there was any neglect of decorum, such as sometimes occurs in houses
where there are no ladies to impress a better tone upon the manners.
The invariable routine was this: The moment that dinner was ready,
Lampe, the professor's old footman, stepped into the study with a
certain measured air, and announced it. This summons was obeyed at the
pace of double quick time--Kant talking all the way to the eating-room
about the state of the weather [Footnote: His reason for which was,
that he considered the weather one of the principal forces which act
upon the health; and his own frame was exquisitely sensible to all
atmospheric influences.]--a subject which he usually pursued during the
earlier part of the dinner. Graver themes, such as the political events
of the day, were never introduced before dinner, or at all in his
study. The moment that Kant had taken his seat, and unfolded his
napkin, he opened the business of dinner with a particular formula--
'_Now, then, gentlemen!_' and the tone and air with which he
uttered these words, proclaimed, in a way which nobody could mistake,
relaxation from the toils of the morning, and determinate abandonment
of himself to social enjoyment. The table was hospitably spread; three
dishes, wine, &c., with a small second course, composed the dinner.
Every person helped himself; and all delays of ceremony were so
disagreeable to Kant, that he seldom failed to express his displeasure
with anything of that sort, though not angrily. He was displeased also
if people ate little; and treated it as affectation. The first man to
help himself was in his eyes the politest guest; for so much the sooner
came his own turn. For this hatred of delay, Kant had a special excuse,
having always worked hard from an early hour in the morning, and eaten
nothing until dinner. Hence it was, that in the latter period of his
life, though less perhaps from actual hunger than from some uneasy
sensation of habit or periodical irritation of stomach, he could hardly
wait with patience for the arrival of the last person invited.

There was no friend of Kant's but considered the day on which he was to
dine with him as a day of pleasure. Without giving himself the air of
an instructor, Kant really was so in the very highest degree. The whole
entertainment was seasoned with the overflow of his enlightened mind,
poured out naturally and unaffectedly upon every topic, as the chances
of conversation suggested it; and the time flew rapidly away, from one
o'clock to four, five, or even later, profitably and delightfully. Kant
tolerated no _calms_, which was the name he gave to the momentary
pauses in conversation, or periods when its animation languished. Some
means or other he always devised for restoring its tone of interest, in
which he was much assisted by the tact with which he drew from every
guest his peculiar tastes, or the particular direction of his pursuits;
and on these, be they what they might, he was never unprepared to speak
with knowledge, and the interest of an original observer. The local
affairs of Knigsberg must have been interesting indeed, before they
could be allowed to occupy the attention at _his_ table. And, what
may seem still more singular, it was rarely or never that he directed
the conversation to any branch of the philosophy founded by himself.
Indeed he was perfectly free from the fault which besets so many
_savans_ and _literati_, of intolerance towards those whose
pursuits had disqualified them for any particular sympathy with his
own. His style of conversation was popular in the highest degree, and
unscholastic; so much so, that any stranger who should have studied his
works, and been unacquainted with his person, would have found it
difficult to believe, that in this delightful companion he saw the
profound author of the Transcendental Philosophy.

The subjects of conversation at Kant's table were drawn chiefly from
natural philosophy, chemistry, meteorology, natural history, and above
all, from politics. The news of the day, as reported in the public
journals, was discussed with a peculiar vigilance of examination. With
regard to any narrative that wanted dates of time and place, however
otherwise plausible, he was uniformly an inexorable sceptic, and held
it unworthy of repetition. So keen was his penetration into the
interior of political events, and the secret policy under which they
moved, that he talked rather with the authority of a diplomatic person
who had access to cabinet intelligence, than as a simple spectator of
the great scenes which were unfolding in Europe. At the time of the
French Revolution, he threw out many conjectures, and what were then
accounted paradoxical anticipations, especially in regard to military
operations, which were as punctually fulfilled as his own memorable
conjecture in regard to the hiatus in the planetary system between Mars
and Jupiter,[Footnote: To which the author should have added--and in
regard to the hiatus between the planetary and cometary systems, which
was pointed out by Kant several years before his conjecture was
established by the good telescope of Dr. Herschel. Vesta and Juno,
further confirmations of Kant's conjecture, were discovered in June
1804, when Wasianski wrote.] the entire confirmation of which he lived
to witness on the discovery of Ceres by Piazzi, in Palermo, and of
Pallas, by Dr. Olbers, at Bremen. These two discoveries, by the way,
impressed him much; and they furnished a topic on which he always
talked with pleasure; though, according to his usual modesty, he never
said a word of his own sagacity in having upon _ priori_ grounds
shown the probability of such discoveries many years before.

It was not only in the character of a companion that Kant shone, but
also as a most courteous and liberal host, who had no greater pleasure
than in seeing his guests happy and jovial, and rising with exhilarated
spirits from the mixed pleasures--intellectual and liberally sensual--
of his Platonic banquets. Chiefly, perhaps, with a view to the
sustaining of this tone of genial hilarity, he showed himself somewhat
of an artist in the composition of his dinner parties. Two rules there
were which he obviously observed, and I may say invariably: the first
was, that the company should be miscellaneous; this for the sake of
securing sufficient variety to the conversation: and accordingly his
parties presented as much variety as the world of Knigsberg afforded,
being drawn from all the modes of life, men in office, professors,
physicians, clergymen, and enlightened merchants. His second rule was,
to have a due balance of _young_ men, frequently of _very_ young
men, selected from the students of the university, in order to
impress a movement of gaiety and juvenile playfulness on the
conversation; an additional motive for which, as I have reason to
believe, was, that in this way he withdrew his mind from the sadness
which sometimes overshadowed it, for the early deaths of some young
friends whom he loved.

And this leads me to mention a singular feature in Kant's way of
expressing his sympathy with his friends in sickness. So long as the
danger was imminent, he testified a restless anxiety, made perpetual
inquiries, waited with patience for the crisis, and sometimes could not
pursue his customary labors from agitation of mind. But no sooner was
the patient's death announced, than he recovered his composure, and
assumed an air of stern tranquillity--almost of indifference. The
reason was, that he viewed life in general, and therefore, that
particular affection of life which we call sickness, as a state of
oscillation and perpetual change, between which and the fluctuating
sympathies of hope and fear, there was a natural proportion that
justified them to the reason; whereas death, as a permanent state that
admitted of no _more_ or _less_, that terminated all anxiety, and
for ever extinguished the agitation of suspense, he would not allow
to be fitted to any state of feeling, but one of the same enduring and
unchanging character. However, all this philosophic heroism gave way on
one occasion; for many persons will remember the tumultuous grief which
he manifested upon the death of Mr. Ehrenboth, a young man of very fine
understanding and extensive attainments, for whom he had the greatest
affection. And naturally it happened, in so long a life as his, in
spite of his provident rule for selecting his social companions as much
as possible amongst the young, that he had to mourn for many a heavy
loss that could never be supplied to him.

To return, however, to the course of his day, immediately after the
termination of his dinner party, Kant walked out for exercise; but on
this occasion he never took any companion, partly, perhaps, because he
thought it right, after so much convivial and colloquial relaxation, to
pursue his meditations,[Footnote: Mr. Wasianski is wrong. To pursue his
meditations under these circumstances, might perhaps be an inclination
of Kant's to which he yielded, but not one which he would justify or
erect into a maxim. He disapproved of eating alone, or _solipsismus
convictorii_, as he calls it, on the principle, that a man would be
apt, if not called off by the business and pleasure of a social party,
to think too much or too closely, an exercise which he considered very
injurious to the stomach during the first process of digestion. On the
same principle he disapproved of walking or riding alone; the double
exercise of thinking and bodily agitation, carried on at the same time,
being likely, as he conceived, to press too hard upon the stomach.] and
partly (as I happen to know) for a very peculiar reason, viz., that he
wished to breathe exclusively through his nostrils, which he could not
do if he were obliged continually to open his mouth in conversation.
His reason for this was, that the atmospheric air, being thus carried
round by a longer circuit, and reaching the lungs, therefore, in a
state of less rawness, and at a temperature somewhat higher, would be
less apt to irritate them. By a steady perseverance in this practice,
which he constantly recommended to his friends, he flattered himself
with a long immunity from coughs, colds, hoarseness, and every mode of
defluxion; and the fact really was, that these troublesome affections
attacked him very rarely. Indeed I myself, by only occasionally
adopting his rule, have found my chest not so liable as formerly to
such attacks.

At six o'clock he sat down to his library table, which was a plain
ordinary piece of furniture, and read till dusk. During this period of
dubious light, so friendly to thought, he rested in tranquil meditation
on what he had been reading, provided the book were worth it; if not,
he sketched his lecture for the next day, or some part of any book he
might then be composing. During this state of repose he took his
station winter and summer by the stove, looking through the window at
the old tower of Lobenicht; not that he could be said properly to see
it, but the tower rested upon his eye,--obscurely, or but half revealed
to his consciousness. No words seemed forcible enough to express his
sense of the gratification which he derived from this old tower, when
seen under these circumstances of twilight and quiet reverie. The
sequel, indeed, showed how important it was to his comfort; for at
length some poplars in a neighboring garden shot up to such a height as
to obscure the tower, upon which Kant became very uneasy and restless,
and at length found himself positively unable to pursue his evening
meditations. Fortunately, the proprietor of the garden was a very
considerate and obliging person, who had, besides, a high regard for
Kant; and, accordingly, upon a representation of the case being made to
him, he gave orders that the poplars should be cropped. This was done,
the old tower of Lobenicht was again unveiled, and Kant recovered his
equanimity, and pursued his twilight meditations as before.

After the candles were brought, Kant prosecuted his studies till nearly
ten o'clock. A quarter of an hour before retiring for the night, he
withdrew his mind as much as possible from every class of thoughts
which demanded any exertion or energy of attention, on the principle,
that by stimulating and exciting him too much, such thoughts would be
apt to cause wakefulness; and the slightest interference with his
customary hour of falling asleep, was in the highest degree unpleasant
to him. Happily, this was with him a very rare occurrence. He undressed
himself without his servant's assistance, but in such an order, and
with such a Roman regard to decorum and the _to prepon_, that he
was always ready at a moment's warning to make his appearance without
embarrassment to himself or to others. This done, he lay down on a
mattress, and wrapped himself up in a quilt, which in summer was always
of cotton,--in autumn, of wool; at the setting-in of winter he used
both--and against very severe cold, he protected himself by one of
eider-down, of which the part which covered his shoulders was not
stuffed with feathers, but padded, or rather wadded closely with layers
of wool. Long practice had taught him a very dexterous mode of
_nesting_ himself, as it were, in the bed-clothes. First of all,
he sat down on the bedside; then with an agile motion he vaulted
obliquely into his lair; next he drew one corner of the bedclothes
under his left shoulder, and passing it below his back, brought it
round so as to rest under his right shoulder; fourthly, by a particular
_tour d'adresse_, he treated the other corner in the same way, and
finally contrived to roll it round his whole person. Thus swathed like
a mummy, or (as I used to tell him) self-involved like the silk-worm in
its cocoon, he awaited the approach of sleep, which generally came on
immediately. For Kant's health was exquisite; not mere negative health,
or the absence of pain, but a state of positive pleasurable sensation,
and a genial sense of the entire possession of all his activities.
Accordingly, when packed up for the night in the way I have described,
he would often ejaculate to himself (as he used to tell us at dinner)--
'Is it possible to conceive a human being with more perfect health than
myself?' In fact, such was the innocence of his life, and such the
happy condition of his situation, that no uneasy passion ever arose to
excite him--nor care to harass--nor pain to awake him. Even in the
severest winter his sleeping-room was without a fire; only in his
latter years he yielded so far to the entreaties of his friends as to
allow of a very small one. All nursing or self-indulgence found no
quarter with Kant. In fact, five minutes, in the coldest weather,
sufficed to supersede the first chill of the bed, by the diffusion of a
general glow over his person. If he had any occasion to leave his room
in the night-time, (for it was always kept dark day and night, summer
and winter,) he guided himself by a rope, which was duly attached to
his bed-post every night, and carried into the adjoining apartment.

Kant never perspired, [Footnote: This appears less extraordinary,
considering the description of Kant's person, given originally by
Reichardt, about eight years after his death. 'Kant,' says this writer,
'was drier than dust both in body and mind. His person was small; and
possibly a more meagre, arid, parched anatomy of a man, has not
appeared upon this earth. The upper part of his face was grand;
forehead lofty and serene, nose elegantly turned, eyes brilliant and
penetrating; but below it expressed powerfully the coarsest sensuality,
which in him displayed itself by immoderate addiction to eating and
drinking.' This last feature of his temperament is here expressed much
too harshly.] night or day. Yet it was astonishing how much heat he
supported habitually in his study, and in fact was not easy if it
wanted but one degree of this heat. Seventy-five degrees of Fahrenheit
was the invariable temperature of this room in which he chiefly lived;
and if it fell below that point, no matter at what season of the year,
he had it raised artificially to the usual standard. In the heats of
summer he went thinly dressed, and invariably in silk stockings; yet,
as even this dress could not always secure him against perspiring when
engaged in active exercise, he had a singular remedy in reserve.
Retiring to some shady place, he stood still and motionless--with the
air and attitude of a person listening, or in suspense--until his usual
_aridity_ was restored. Even in the most sultry summer night, if
the slightest trace of perspiration had sullied his night-dress, he
spoke of it with emphasis, as of an accident that perfectly shocked

On this occasion, whilst illustrating Kant's notions of the animal
economy, it may be as well to add one other particular, which is, that
for fear of obstructing the circulation of the blood, he never would
wear garters; yet, as he found it difficult to keep up his stockings
without them, he had invented for himself a most elaborate substitute,
which I shall describe. In a little pocket, somewhat smaller than a
watch-pocket, but occupying pretty nearly the same situation as a
watch-pocket on each thigh, there was placed a small box, something
like a watch-case, but smaller; into this box was introduced a watch-
spring in a wheel, round about which wheel was wound an elastic cord,
for regulating the force of which there was a separate contrivance. To
the two ends of this cord were attached hooks, which hooks were carried
through a small aperture in the pockets, and so passing down the inner
and the outer side of the thigh, caught hold of two loops which were
fixed on the off side and the near side of each stocking. As might be
expected, so complex an apparatus was liable, like the Ptolemaic system
of the heavens, to occasional derangements; however, by good luck, I
was able to apply an easy remedy to these disorders which sometimes
threatened to disturb the comfort, and even the serenity, of the great

Precisely at five minutes before five o'clock, winter or summer, Lampe,
Kant's servant, who had formerly served in the army, marched into his
master's room with the air of a sentinel on duty, and cried aloud in a
military tone,--'Mr. Professor, the time is come.' This summons Kant
invariably obeyed without one moment's delay, as a soldier does the
word of command--never, under any circumstances, allowing himself a
respite, not even under the rare accident of having passed a sleepless
night. As the clock struck five, Kant was seated at the breakfast-
table, where he drank what he called _one_ cup of tea; and no
doubt he thought it such; but the fact was, that in part from his habit
of reverie, and in part also for the purpose of refreshing its warmth,
he filled up his cup so often, that in general he is supposed to have
drunk two, three, or some unknown number. Immediately after he smoked a
pipe of tobacco, (the only one which he allowed himself through the
entire day,) but so rapidly, that a pile of glowing embers remained
unsmoked. During this operation he thought over his arrangements for
the day, as he had done the evening before during the twilight. About
seven he usually went to his lecture-room, and from that he returned to
his writing-table. Precisely at three quarters before one he rose from
his chair, and called aloud to the cook,--'It has struck three
quarters.' The meaning of which summons was this:--Immediately after
taking soup, it was his constant practice to swallow what he called a
dram, which consisted either of Hungarian wine, of Rhenish, of a
cordial, or (in default of these) of Bishop. A flask of this was
brought up by the cook on the proclamation of the three quarters. Kant
hurried with it to the eating-room, poured out his _quantum_, left
it standing in readiness, covered, however, with paper, to prevent its
becoming vapid, and then went back to his study, and awaited the
arrival of his guests, whom to the latest period of his life he never
received but in full dress.

Thus we come round again to dinner, and the reader has now an accurate
picture of the course of Kant's day; the rigid monotony of which was
not burthensome to him; and probably contributed, with the uniformity
of his diet, and other habits of the same regularity, to lengthen his
life. On this consideration, indeed, he had come to regard his health
and his old age as in a great measure the product of his own exertions.
He spoke of himself often under the figure of a gymnastic artist, who
had continued for nearly fourscore years to support his balance upon
the slack-rope of life, without once swerving to the right or to the
left. In spite of every illness to which his constitutional tendencies
had exposed him, he still kept his position in life triumphantly.
However, he would sometimes observe sportively, that it was really
absurd, and a sort of insult to the next generation for a man to live
so long, because he thus interfered with the prospects of younger

This anxious attention to his health accounts for the great interest
which he attached to all new discoveries in medicine, or to new ways of
theorizing on the old ones. As a work of great pretension in both
classes, he set the highest value upon the theory of the Scotch
physician Brown, or (as it is usually called, from the Latin name of
its author,) the Brunonian Theory. No sooner had Weikard adopted
[Footnote: This theory was afterwards greatly modified in Germany; and,
judging from the random glances which I throw on these subjects, I
believe that in this recast it still keeps its ground in that country.]
and made it known in Germany, than Kant became familiar with it. He
considered it not only as a great step taken for medicine, but even for
the general interests of man, and fancied that in this he saw something
analogous to the course which human nature has held in still more
important inquiries, viz.: first of all, a continual ascent towards the
more and more elaborately complex, and then a treading back, on its own
steps, towards the simple and elementary. Dr. Beddoes's Essays, also,
for producing by art and curing pulmonary consumption, and the method
of Reich for curing fevers, made a powerful impression upon him; which,
however, declined as those novelties (especially the last) began to
sink in credit. As to Dr. Jenner's discovery of vaccination, he was
less favorably disposed to it; he apprehended dangerous consequences
from the absorption of a brutal miasma into the human blood, or at
least into the lymph; and at any rate he thought, that, as a guarantee
against the variolous infection, it required a much longer probation.
Groundless as all these views were, it was exceedingly entertaining to
hear the fertility of argument and analogy which he brought forward to
support them. One of the subjects which occupied him at the latter end
of his life, was the theory and phenomena of galvanism, which, however,
he never satisfactorily mastered. Augustin's book upon this subject was
about the last that he read, and his copy still retains on the margin
his, pencil-marks of doubts, queries and suggestions.

The infirmities of age now began to steal upon Kant, and betrayed
themselves in more shapes than one. Connected with Kant's prodigious
memory for all things that had any intellectual bearings, he had from
youth labored under an unusual weakness of this faculty in relation to
the common affairs of daily life. Some remarkable instances of this are
on record, from the period of his childish days; and now, when his
second childhood was commencing, this infirmity increased upon him very
sensibly. One of the first signs was, that he began to repeat the same
stories more than once on the same day. Indeed, the decay of his memory
was too palpable to escape his own notice; and, to provide against it,
and secure himself from all apprehension of inflicting tedium upon his
guests, he began to write a syllabus, or list of themes, for each day's
conversation, on cards, or the covers of letters, or any chance scrap
of paper. But these memoranda accumulated so fast upon him, and were so
easily lost, or not forthcoming at the proper moment, that I prevailed
on him to substitute a blank-paper book, which I had directed to be
made, and which still remains, with some affecting memorials of his own
conscious weakness. As often happens, however, in such cases, he had a
perfect memory for the remote events of his life, and could repeat with
great readiness, and without once stumbling, very long passages from
German or Latin poems, especially from the AEneid, whilst the very
words that had been uttered but a moment before dropped away from his
remembrance. The past came forward with the distinctness and liveliness
of an immediate existence, whilst the present faded away into the
obscurity of infinite distance.

Another sign of his mental decay was the weakness with which he now
began to theorize. He accounted for everything by electricity. A
singular mortality at this time prevailed amongst the cats of Vienna,
Basle, Copenhagen, and other places. Cats being so eminently an
electric animal, of course he attributed this epizootic to electricity.
During the same period, he persuaded himself that a peculiar
configuration of clouds prevailed; this he took as a collateral proof
of his electrical hypothesis. His own headaches, too, which in all
probability were a mere remote effect of old age, and a direct one of
an inability [Footnote: Mr. Wasianski is quite in the wrong here. If
the hindrances which nature presented to the act of thinking were now
on the increase, on the other hand, the disposition to think, by his
own acknowledgment, was on the wane. The power and the habit altering
in proportion, there is no case made out of that disturbed equilibrium
to which apparently he would attribute the headaches. But the fact is,
that, if he had been as well acquainted with Kant's writings as with
Kant personally, he would have known, that some affection of the head
of a spasmodic kind was complained of by Kant at a time when nobody
could suspect him of being in a decaying state.] to think as easily and
as severely as formerly, he explained upon the same principle. And this
was a notion of which his friends were not anxious to disabuse him,
because, as something of the same character of weather (and therefore
probably the same general tendency of the electric power) is found to
prevail for whole cycles of years, entrance upon another cycle held out
to him some prospect of relief. A delusion which secured the comforts
of hope was the next best thing to an actual remedy; and a man who, in
such circumstances, is cured of his delusion, '_cui demptus per vim
mentis gratissimus error_,' might reasonably have exclaimed,
'_Pol, me occidistis, amici._'

Possibly the reader may suppose, that, in this particular instance of
charging his own decays upon the state of the atmosphere, Kant was
actuated by the weakness of vanity, or some unwillingness to face the
real fact that his powers were decaying. But this was not the case. He
was perfectly aware of his own condition, and, as early as 1799, he
said, in my presence, to a party of his friends--'Gentlemen, I am old,
and weak, and childish, and you must treat me as a child.' Or perhaps
it may be thought that he shrank from the contemplation of death,
which, as apoplexy seemed to be threatened by the pains in his head,
might have happened any day. But neither was this the case. He now
lived in a continual state of resignation, and prepared to meet any
dispensation of Providence. 'Gentlemen,' said he one day to his guests,
'I do not fear to die. I assure you, as in the presence of God, that if
I were this night to be made suddenly aware that I was on the point of
being summoned, I would raise my hands to heaven, fold them, and say,
Blessed be God! If indeed it were possible that a whisper such as this
could reach my ear--Fourscore years thou hast lived, in which time thou
hast inflicted much evil upon thy fellow-men, the case would be
otherwise.' Whosoever has heard Kant speak of his own death, will bear
witness to the tone of earnest sincerity which, on such occasions,
marked his manner and utterance.

A third sign of his decaying faculties was, that he now lost all
accurate measure of time. One minute, nay, without exaggeration, a much
less space of time, stretched out in his apprehension of things to a
wearisome duration. Of this I can give one rather amusing instance,
which was of constant recurrence. At the beginning of the last year of
his life, he fell into a custom of taking immediately after dinner a
cup of coffee, especially on those days when it happened that I was of
his party. And such was the importance he attached to this little
pleasure, that he would even make a memorandum beforehand, in the
blank-paper book I had given him, that on the next day I was to dine
with him, and consequently that there was to be coffee. Sometimes it
would happen, that the interest of conversation carried him past the
time at which he felt the craving for it; and this I was not sorry to
observe, as I feared that coffee, which he had never been accustomed
to, [Footnote: How this happened to be the case in Germany, Mr.
Wasianski has not explained. Perhaps the English merchants at
Knigsberg, being amongst Kant's oldest and most intimate friends, had
early familiarized him to the practice of drinking tea, and to other
English tastes. However, Jachmann tells us, (p. 164,) that Kant was
extravagantly fond of coffee, but forced himself to abstain from it
under a notion that it was very unwholesome.] might disturb his rest at
night. But, if this did not happen, then commenced a scene of some
interest. Coffee must be brought 'upon the spot,' (a word he had
constantly in his mouth during his latter days,) 'in a moment.' And the
expressions of his impatience, though from old habit still gentle, were
so lively, and had so much of infantine navet about them, that none
of us could forbear smiling. Knowing what would happen, I had taken
care that all the preparations should be made beforehand; the coffee
was ground; the water was boiling; and the very moment the word was
given, his servant shot in like an arrow, and plunged the coffee into
the water. All that remained, therefore, was to give it time to boil
up. But this trifling delay seemed unendurable to Kant. All
consolations were thrown away upon him: vary the formula as we might,
he was never at a loss for a reply. If it was said--'Dear Professor,
the coffee will be brought up in a moment.'--'_Will_ be!' he would
say, 'but there's the rub, that it only _will_ be:

Man never _is_, but always _to be_ blest.'

If another cried out--'The coffee is coming immediately.'--'Yes,' he
would retort, 'and so is the next hour: and, by the way, it's about
that length of time that I have waited for it.' Then he would collect
himself with a stoical air, and say--'Well, one can die after all: it
is but dying; and in the next world, thank God! there is no drinking of
coffee, and consequently no--waiting for it.' Sometimes he would rise
from his chair, open the door, and cry out with a feeble querulousness
--'Coffee! coffee!' And when at length he heard the servant's step upon
the stairs, he would turn round to us, and, as joyfully as ever sailor
from the mast-head, he would call out--'Land, land! my dear friends, I
see land.'

This general decline in Kant's powers, active and passive, gradually
brought about a revolution in his habits of life. Heretofore, as I have
already mentioned, he went to bed at ten, and rose a little before
five. The latter practice he still observed, but not the other. In 1802
he retired as early as nine, and afterwards still earlier. He found
himself so much refreshed by this addition to his rest, that at first
he was disposed to utter a _Euraeka_, as over some great discovery
in the art of restoring exhausted nature: but afterwards, on pushing it
still farther, he did not find the success answer his expectations. His
walks he now limited to a few turns in the King's gardens, which were
at no great distance from his own house. In order to walk more firmly,
he adopted a peculiar method of stepping; he carried his foot to the
ground, not forward, and obliquely, but perpendicularly, and with a
kind of stamp, so as to secure a larger basis, by setting down the
entire sole at once. Notwithstanding this precaution, upon one occasion
he fell in the street. He was quite unable to raise himself; and two
young ladies, who saw the accident, ran to his assistance. With his
usual graciousness of manner he thanked them fervently for their
assistance, and presented one of them with a rose which he happened to
have in his hand. This lady was not personally known to Kant; but she
was greatly delighted with his little present, and still keeps the rose
as a frail memorial of her transitory interview with the great

This accident, as I have reason to think, was the cause of his
henceforth renouncing exercise altogether. All labors, even that of
reading, were now performed slowly, and with manifest effort; and those
which cost him any bodily exertion became very exhausting to him. His
feet refused to do their office more and more; he fell continually,
both when moving across the room, and even when standing still: yet he
seldom suffered from these falls; and he constantly laughed at them,
maintaining that it was impossible he could hurt himself, from the
extreme lightness of his person, which was indeed by this time the
merest skeleton. Very often, especially in the morning, he dropped
asleep in his chair from pure weariness: on these occasions he fell
forward upon the floor, and lay there unable to raise himself up, until
accident brought one of his servants or his friends into the room.
Afterwards these falls were prevented, by substituting a chair with
circular supports, that met and clasped in front.

These unseasonable dozings exposed him to another danger. He fell
repeatedly, whilst reading, with his head into the candles; a cotton
night-cap which he wore was instantly in a blaze, and flaming about his
head. Whenever this happened, Kant behaved with great presence of mind.
Disregarding the pain, he seized the blazing cap, drew it from his
head, laid it quietly on the floor, and trod out the flames with his
feet. Yet, as this last act brought his dressing-gown into a dangerous
neighborhood to the flames, I changed the form of his cap, persuaded
him to arrange the candles differently, and had a decanter of water
placed constantly by his side; and in this way I applied a remedy to a
danger, which would else probably have been fatal to him.

From the sallies of impatience, which I have described in the case of
the coffee, there was reason to fear that, with the increasing
infirmities of Kant, would grow up a general waywardness and obstinacy
of temper. For my own sake, therefore, and not less for his, I now laid
down one rule for my future conduct in his house; which was, that I
would, on no occasion, allow my reverence for him to interfere with the
firmest expression of my opinion on subjects relating to his own
health; and in cases of great importance, that I would make no
compromise with his particular humors, but insist, not only on my view
of the case, but also on the practical adoption of my views; or, if
this were refused me, that I would take my departure at once, and not
be made responsible for the comfort of a person whom I had no power to
influence. And this behavior on my part it was that won Kant's
confidence; for there was nothing which disgusted him so much as any
approach to fawning or sycophancy. As his imbecility increased, he
became daily more liable to mental delusions; and, in particular, he
fell into many fantastic notions about the conduct of his servants,
and, in consequence, into a peevish mode of treating them. Upon these
occasions I generally observed a deep silence. But sometimes he would
ask me for my opinion; and when this happened, I did not scruple to
say, 'Ingenuously, then, Mr. Professor, I think that you are in the
wrong.'--'You think so?' he would reply calmly, at the same time asking
for my reasons, which he would listen to with great patience, and
openness to conviction. Indeed, it was evident that the firmest
opposition, so long as it rested upon assignable grounds and
principles, won upon his regard; whilst his own nobleness of character
still moved him to habitual contempt for timorous and partial
acquiescence in his opinions, even when his infirmities made him most
anxious for such acquiescence.

Earlier in life Kant had been little used to contradiction. His superb
understanding, his brilliancy in conversation, founded in part upon his
ready and sometimes rather caustic wit, and in part upon his prodigious
command of knowledge--the air of noble self-confidence which the
consciousness of these advantages impressed upon his manners--and the
general knowledge of the severe innocence of his life--all combined to
give him a station of superiority to others, which generally secured
him from open contradiction. And if it sometimes happened that he met a
noisy and intemperate opposition, supported by any pretences to wit, he
usually withdrew himself from that sort of unprofitable altercation
with dignity, by contriving to give such a turn to the conversation as
won the general favor of the company to himself, and impressed,
silence, or modesty at least, upon the boldest disputant. From a person
so little familiar with opposition, it could scarcely have been
anticipated that he should daily surrender his wishes to mine--if not
without discussion, yet always without displeasure. So, however, it
was. No habit, of whatever long standing, could be objected to as
injurious to his health, but he would generally renounce it. And he had
this excellent custom in such cases, that either he would resolutely
and at once decide for his own opinion, or, if he professed to follow
his friend's, he would follow it sincerely, and not try it unfairly by
trying it imperfectly. Any plan, however trifling, which he had once
consented to adopt on the suggestion of another, was never afterwards
defeated or embarrassed by unseasonable interposition from his own
humors. And thus, the very period of his decay drew forth so many fresh
expressions of his character, in its amiable or noble features, as
daily increased my affection and reverence for his person.

Having mentioned his servants, I shall here take occasion to give some
account of his man-servant Lampe. It was a great misfortune for Kant,
in his old age and infirmities, that this man also became old, and
subject to a different sort of infirmities. This Lampe had originally
served in the Prussian army; on quitting which he entered the service
of Kant. In this situation he had lived about forty years; and, though
always dull and stupid, had, in the early part of this period,
discharged his duties with tolerable fidelity. But latterly, presuming
upon his own indispensableness, from his perfect knowledge of all the
domestic arrangements, and upon his master's weakness, he had fallen
into great irregularities and neglect of his duties. Kant had been
obliged, therefore, of late, to threaten repeatedly that he would
discharge him. I, who knew that Kant, though one of the kindest-hearted
men, was also one of the firmest, foresaw that this discharge, once
given, would be irrevocable: for the word of Kant was as sacred as
other men's oaths. Consequently, upon every opportunity, I remonstrated
with Lampe on the folly of his conduct, and his wife joined me on these
occasions. Indeed, it was high time that a change should be made in
some quarter; for it now became dangerous to leave Kant, who was
constantly falling from weakness, to the care of an old ruffian, who
was himself apt to fall from intoxication. The fact was, that from the
moment I undertook the management of Kant's affairs, Lampe saw there
was an end to his old system of abusing his master's confidence in
pecuniary affairs, and the other advantages which he took of his
helpless situation. This made him desperate, and he behaved worse and
worse; until one morning, in January, 1802, Kant told me, that,
humiliating as he felt such a confession, the fact was, that Lampe had
just treated him in a way which he was ashamed to repeat. I was too
much shocked to distress him by inquiring into the particulars. But the
result was, that Kant now insisted, temperately but firmly, on Lampe's
dismissal. Accordingly, a new servant, of the name of Kaufmann, was
immediately engaged; and on the next day Lampe was discharged with a
handsome pension for life.

Here I must mention a little circumstance which does honor to Kant's
benevolence. In his last will, on the assumption that Lampe would
continue with him to his death, he had made a very liberal provision
for him; but upon this new arrangement of the pension, which was to
take effect immediately, it became necessary to revoke that part of his
will, which he did in a separate codicil, that began thus:--'In
consequence of the ill behavior of my servant Lampe, I think fit,' &c.
But soon after, considering that such a record of Lampe's misconduct
might be seriously injurious to his interests, he cancelled the
passage, and expressed it in such a way, that no trace remained behind
of his just displeasure. And his benign nature was gratified with
knowing, that, this one sentence blotted out, there remained no other
in all his numerous writings, published or confidential, which spoke
the language of anger, or could leave any ground for doubting that he
died in charity with all the world. Upon Lampe's calling to demand a
written character, he was, however, a good deal embarrassed; his stern
reverence for truth being, in this instance, armed against the first
impulses of his kindness. Long and anxiously he sat, with the
certificate lying before him, debating how he should fill up the
blanks. I was present, but in such a matter I did not take the liberty
of suggesting any advice. At last, he took his pen, and filled up the
blank as follows:--'--has served me long and faithfully,'--(for Kant
was not aware that he had robbed him,)--'but did not display those
particular qualifications which fitted him for waiting on an old and
infirm man like myself.'

This scene of disturbance over, which to Kant, a lover of peace and
tranquillity, caused a shock that he would gladly have been spared; it
was fortunate that no other of that nature occurred during the rest of
his life. Kaufmann, the successor of Lampe, turned out to be a
respectable and upright man, and soon conceived a great attachment to
his master's person. Things now put on a new face in Kant's family: by
the removal of one of the belligerents, peace was once more restored
amongst his servants; for hitherto there had been eternal wars between
Lampe and the cook. Sometimes it was Lampe that carried a war of
aggression into the cook's territory of the kitchen; sometimes it was
the cook that revenged these insults, by sallying out upon Lampe in the
neutral ground of the hall, or invaded him even in his own sanctuary of
the butler's pantry. The uproars were everlasting; and thus far it was
fortunate for the peace of the philosopher, that his hearing had begun
to fail; by which means he was spared many an exhibition of hateful
passions and ruffian violence, which annoyed his guests and friends.
But now all things had changed: deep silence reigned in the pantry; the
kitchen rang no more with martial alarums; and the hall was unvexed
with skirmish or pursuit. Yet it may be readily supposed that to Kant,
at the age of seventy-eight, changes, even for the better, were not
welcome: so intense had been the uniformity of his life and habits,
that the least innovation in the arrangement of articles as trifling as
a penknife, or a pair of scissors, disturbed him; and not merely if
they were pushed two or three inches out of their customary position,
but even if they were laid a little awry; and as to larger objects,
such as chairs, &c., any dislocation of their usual arrangement, any
trans position, or addition to their number, perfectly confounded him;
and his eye appeared restlessly to haunt the seat of the mal-
arrangement, until the ancient order was restored. With such habits the
reader may conceive how distressing it must have been to him, at this
period of decaying powers, to adapt himself to a new servant, a new
voice, a new step, &c.

Aware of this, I had on the day before he entered upon his duties,
written down for the new servant upon a sheet of paper the entire
routine of Kant's daily life, down to the minutest and most trivial
circumstances; all which he mastered with the greatest rapidity. To
make sure, however, we went through a rehearsal of the whole ritual; he
performing the manoeuvres, I looking on and giving the word. Still I
felt uneasy at the idea of his being left entirely to his own
discretion on his first _debut_ in good earnest, and therefore I
made a point of attending on this important day; and in the few
instances where the new recruit missed the accurate manoeuvre, a glance
or a nod from me easily made him comprehend his failure.

One part only there was of the daily ceremonial, where all of us were
at a loss, as it was a part which no mortal eyes had ever witnessed but
those of Lampe: this was breakfast. However, that we might do all in
our power, I myself attended at four o'clock in the morning. The day
happened, as I remember, to be the 1st of February, 1802. Precisely at
five, Kant made his appearance; and nothing could equal his
astonishment on finding me in the room. Fresh from the confusion of
dreaming, and bewildered alike by the sight of his new servant, by
Lampe's absence, and by my presence, he could with difficulty be made
to comprehend the purpose of my visit. A friend in need is a friend
indeed; and we would now have given any money to that learned person
who could have instructed us in the arrangement of the breakfast table.
But this was a mystery revealed to none but Lampe. At length Kant took
this task upon himself; and apparently all was now settled to his
satisfaction. Yet still it struck me that he was under some
embarrassment or constraint. Upon this I said--that, with his
permission, I would take a cup of tea, and afterwards smoke a pipe with
him. He accepted my offer with his usual courteous demeanor; but seemed
unable to familiarize himself with the novelty of his situation. I was
at this time sitting directly opposite to him; and at last he frankly
told me, but with the kindest and most apologetic air, that he was
really under the necessity of begging that I would sit out of his
sight; for that, having sat alone at the breakfast table for
considerably more than half a century, he could not abruptly adapt his
mind to a change in this respect; and he found his thoughts very
sensibly disturbed. I did as he desired; the servant retired into an
antiroom, where he waited within call; and Kant recovered his wonted
composure. Just the same scene passed over again, when I called at the
same hour on a fine summer morning some months after.

Henceforth all went right: or, if occasionally some little mistake
occurred, Kant showed himself very considerate and indulgent, and would
remark of his own accord, that a new servant could not be expected to
know all his peculiar ways and humors. In one respect, indeed, this man
adapted himself to Kant's scholarlike taste, in a way which Lampe was
incapable of doing. Kant was somewhat fastidious in matters of
pronunciation; and this man had a great facility in catching the true
sound of Latin words, the titles of books, and the names or
designations of Kant's friends: not one of which accomplishments could
Lampe, the most insufferable of blockheads, ever attain to. In
particular, I have been told by Kant's old friends, that for the space
of more than thirty years, during which he had been in the habit of
reading the newspaper published by Hartung, Lampe delivered it with the
same identical blunder on every day of publication.--'Mr. Professor,
here is Hart_mann's_ journal.' Upon which Kant would reply--'Eh!
what?--What's that you say? Hartmann's journal? I tell you, it is not
Hartmann, but Hartung: now, repeat it after me--not Hartmann, but
Hartung.' Then Lampe, looking sulky, and drawing himself up with the
stiff air of a soldier on guard, and in the very same monotonous tone
with which he had been used to sing out his challenge of--_Who goes
there?_ would roar--'not Hartmann, but Hartung.' 'Now again!' Kant
would say: on which again Lampe roared--'not Hartmann, but Hartung.'
'Now a third time,' cried Kant: on which for a third time the unhappy
Lampe would howl out--'not Hartmann, but Hartung.' And this whimsical
scene of parade duty was continually repeated: duly as the day of
publication came, the irreclaimable old dunce was put through the same
manoeuvres, which were as invariably followed by the same blunder on
the next. In spite, however, of this advantage, in the new servant, and
his general superiority to his predecessor, Kant's nature was too kind
and good, and too indulgent to all people's infirmities but his own,
not to miss the voice and the 'old familiar face' that he had been
accustomed to for forty years. And I met with what struck me as an
affecting instance of Kant's yearning after his old good-for-nothing
servant in his memorandum-book: other people record what they wish to
remember; but Kant had here recorded what he was to forget. 'Mem.:
February, 1802, the name of Lampe must now be remembered no more.'

In the spring of this year, 1802, I advised Kant to take the air. It
was very long since he had been out of doors, [Footnote: Wasianski here
returns thanks to some unknown person, who, having observed that Kant
in his latter walks took pleasure in leaning against a particular wall
to view the prospect, had caused a seat to be fixed at that point for
his use.] and walking was now out of the question. But I thought the
motion of a carriage and the air would be likely to revive him. On the
power of vernal sights and sounds I did not much rely; for these had
long ceased to affect him. Of all the changes that spring brings with
it, there was one only that now interested Kant; and he longed for it
with an eagerness and intensity of expectation, that it was almost
painful to witness: this was the return of a hedge sparrow that sang in
his garden, and before his window. This bird, either the same, or one
of the next generation, had sung for years in the same situation; and
Kant grew uneasy when the cold weather, lasting longer than usual,
retarded its return. Like Lord Bacon, indeed, he had a childlike love
for birds in general, and in particular, took pains to encourage the
sparrows to build above the windows of his study; and when this
happened, (as it often did, from the silence which prevailed in his
study,) he watched their proceedings with the delight and the
tenderness which others give to a human interest. To return to the
point I was speaking of, Kant was at first very unwilling to accede to
my proposal of going abroad. 'I shall sink down in the carriage,' said
he, 'and fall together like a heap of old rags.' But I persisted with a
gentle importunity in urging him to the attempt, assuring him that we
would return immediately if he found the effort too much for him.
Accordingly, upon a tolerably warm day of early [Footnote: Mr.
Wasianski says--_late_ in summer: but, as he elsewhere describes
by the same expression of 'late in summer,' a day which was confessedly
_before_ the longest day, and as the multitude of birds which
continued to sing will not allow us to suppose that the summer could be
very far advanced, I have translated accordingly.] summer, I, and an
old friend of Kant's, accompanied him to a little place which I rented
in the country. As we drove through the streets, Kant was delighted to
find that he could sit upright, and bear the motion of the carriage,
and seemed to draw youthful pleasure from the sight of the towers and
other public buildings, which he had not seen for years. We reached the
place of our destination in high spirits. Kant drank a cup of coffee,
and attempted to smoke a little. After this, he sat and sunned himself,
listening with delight to the warbling of birds, which congregated in
great numbers about this spot. He distinguished every bird by its song,
and called it by its right name. After staying about half an hour, we
set off on our homeward journey, Kant still cheerful, but apparently
satiated with his day's enjoyment.

I had on this occasion purposely avoided taking him to any public
gardens, that I might not disturb his pleasure by exposing him to the
distressing gaze of public curiosity. However, it was known in
Knigsberg that Kant had gone out; and accordingly, as the carriage
moved through the streets which led to his residence, there was a
general rush from all quarters in that direction, and, when we turned
into the street where the house stood, we found it already choked up
with people. As we slowly drew up to the door, a lane was formed in the
crowd, through which Kant was led, I and my friend supporting him on
our arms. Looking at the crowd, I observed the faces of many persons of
rank, and distinguished strangers, some of whom now saw Kant for the
first time, and many of them for the last.

As the winter of 1802-3 approached, he complained more than ever of an
affection of the stomach, which no medical man had been able to
mitigate, or even to explain. The winter passed over in a complaining
way; he was weary of life, and longed for the hour of dismission. 'I
can be of service to the world no more,' said he, 'and am a burden to
myself.' Often I endeavored to cheer him by the anticipation of
excursions that we would make together when summer came again. On these
he calculated with so much earnestness, that he had made a regular
scale or classification of them--l. Airings; 2. Journeys; 3. Travels.
And nothing could equal the yearning impatience expressed for the
coming of spring and summer, not so much for their own peculiar
attractions, as because they were the seasons for travelling. In his
memorandum-book, he made this note:--'The three summer months are June,
July, and August'--meaning that they were the three months for
travelling. And in conversation he expressed the feverish strength of
his wishes so plaintively and affectingly, that everybody was drawn
into powerful sympathy with him, and wished for some magical means of
ante-dating the course of the seasons.

In this winter his bed-room was often warmed. This was the room in
which he kept his little collection of books, of about four hundred and
fifty volumes, chiefly presentation-copies from the authors. It may
seem singular that Kant, who read so extensively, should have no larger
library; but he had less need of one than most scholars, having in his
earlier years been librarian at the Royal Library of the Castle; and
since then having enjoyed from the liberality of Hartknoch, his
publisher, (who, in his turn, had profited by the liberal terms on
which Kant had made over to him the copyright of his own works,) the
first sight of every new book that appeared.

At the close of this winter, that is in 1803, Kant first began to
complain of unpleasant dreams, sometimes of very terrific ones, which
awakened him in great agitation. Oftentimes melodies, which he had
heard in earliest youth sung in the streets of Knigsberg, resounded
painfully in his ears, and dwelt upon them in a way from which no
efforts of abstraction could release him. These kept him awake to
unseasonable hours; and often when, after long watching, he had fallen
asleep, however deep his sleep might be, it was suddenly broken up by
terrific dreams, which alarmed him beyond description. Almost every
night, the bell-rope, which communicated with a bell in the room above
his own, where his servant slept, was pulled violently, and with the
utmost agitation. No matter how fast the servant might hurry down, he
was almost always too late, and was pretty sure to find his master out
of bed, and often making his way in terror to some other part of the
house. The weakness of his feet exposed him to such dreadful falls on
these occasions, that at length (but with much difficulty) I persuaded
him to let his servant sleep in the same room with himself.

The morbid affection of the stomach began now to be more and more
distressing; and he tried various applications, which he had formerly
been loud in condemning, such as a few drops of rum upon a piece of
sugar, naphtha, [Footnote: For Kant's particular complaint, as
described by other biographers, a quarter of a grain of opium, every
twelve hours, would have been the best remedy, perhaps a perfect
remedy.] &c. But all these were only palliatives; for his advanced age
precluded the hope of a radical cure. His dreadful dreams became
continually more appalling: single scenes, or passages in these dreams,
were sufficient to compose the whole course of mighty tragedies, the
impression from which was so profound as to stretch far into his waking
hours. Amongst other phantasmata more shocking and indescribable, his
dreams constantly represented to him the forms of murderers advancing
to his bedside; and so agitated was he by the awful trains of phantoms
that swept past him nightly, that in the first confusion of awaking he
generally mistook his servant, who was hastening to his assistance, for
a murderer. In the day-time we often conversed upon these shadowy
illusions; and Kant, with his usual spirit of stoical contempt for
nervous weakness of every sort, laughed at them; and, to fortify his
own resolution to contend against them, he wrote down in his
memorandum-book, 'There must be no yielding to panics of darkness.' At
my suggestion, however, he now burned a light in his chamber, so placed
as that the rays might be shaded from his face. At first he was very
averse to this, though gradually he became reconciled to it. But that
he could bear it at all, was to me an expression of the great
revolution accomplished by the terrific agency of his dreams.
Heretofore, darkness and utter silence were the two pillars on which
his sleep rested: no step must approach his room; and as to light, if
he saw but a moonbeam penetrating a crevice of the shutters, it made
him unhappy; and, in fact, the windows of his bed-chamber were
barricadoed night and day. But now darkness was a terror to him, and
silence an oppression. In addition to his lamp, therefore, he had now a
repeater in his room; the sound was at first too loud, but, after
muffling the hammer with cloth, both the ticking and the striking
became companionable sounds to him.

At this time (spring of 1803) his appetite began to fail, which I
thought no good sign. Many persons insist that Kant was in the habit of
eating too much for health. [Footnote: Who these worthy people were
that criticised Kant's eating, is not mentioned. They could have had no
opportunity of exercising their abilities on this question, except as
hosts, guests, or fellow-guests; and in any of those characters, a
gentleman, one would suppose, must feel himself degraded by directing
his attention to a point of that nature. However, the merits of the
case stand thus between the parlies: Kant, it is agreed by all his
biographers, ate only once a day; for as to his breakfast, it was
nothing more than a very weak infusion of tea, (vide Jachmann's
Letters, p. 163,) with no bread, or eatable of any kind. Now, his
critics, by general confession, ate their way, from 'morn to dewy eve,'
through the following course of meals: 1. Breakfast early in the
morning; 2. Breakfast _ la fourchette_ about ten, A.M.; 3. Dinner
at one or two; 4. Vesper Brod; 5. Abend Brod; all which does really
seem a very fair allowance for a man who means to lecture upon
abstinence at night. But I shall cut this matter short by stating one
plain fact; there were two things, and no more, for which Kant had an
inordinate craving during his whole life; these were tobacco and
coffee; and from both these he abstained almost altogether, merely
under a sense of duty, resting probably upon erroneous grounds. Of the
first he allowed himself a very small quantity, (and everybody knows
that temperance is a more difficult virtue than abstinence;) of the
other none at all, until the labors of his life were accomplished.] I,
however, cannot assent to this opinion; for he ate but once a day, and
drank no beer. Of this liquor, (I mean the strong black beer,) he was,
indeed, the most determined enemy. If ever a man died prematurely, Kant
would say--'He has been drinking beer, I presume.' Or, if another were
indisposed, you might be sure he would ask, 'But does he drink beer?'
And, according to the answer on this point, he regulated his
anticipations for the patient. Strong beer, in short, he uniformly
maintained to be a slow poison. Voltaire, by the way, had said to a
young physician who denounced coffee under the same bad name of a 'slow
poison,' 'You're right there, my friend, however; slow it is, and
horribly slow; for I have been drinking it these seventy years, and it
has not killed me yet;' but this was an answer which, in the case of
beer, Kant would not allow of.

On the 22d of April, 1803, his birth-day, the last which he lived to
see, was celebrated in a full assembly of his friends. This festival he
had long looked forward to with great expectation, and delighted even
to hear the progress made in the preparations for it. But when the day
came, the over-excitement and tension of expectation seemed to have
defeated itself. He tried to appear happy; but the bustle of a numerous
company confounded and distressed him; and his spirits were manifestly
forced. He seemed first to revive to any real sense of pleasure at
night, when the company had departed, and he was undressing in his
study. He then talked with much pleasure about the presents which, as
usual, would be made to his servants on this occasion; for Kant was
never happy himself, unless he saw all around him happy. He was a great
maker of presents; but at the same time he had no toleration for the
studied theatrical effect, the accompaniment of formal congratulations,
and the sentimental pathos with which birth-day presents are made in
Germany. [Footnote: In this, as in many other things, the taste of Kant
was entirely English and Roman; as, on the other hand, some eminent
Englishmen, I am sorry to say, have, on this very point, shown the
effeminacy and _falsetto_ taste of the Germans. In particular, Mr.
Coleridge, describing, in The Friend, the custom amongst German
children of making presents to their parents on Christmas Eve, (a
custom which he unaccountably supposes to be peculiar to Ratzeburg,)
represents the mother as 'weeping aloud for joy'--the old idiot of a
father with 'tears running down his face,' &c. &c., and all for what?
For a snuff-box, a pencil-case, or some article of jewellery. Now, we
English agree with Kant on such maudlin display of stage
sentimentality, and are prone to suspect that papa's tears are the
product of rum-punch. Tenderness let us have by all means, and the
deepest you can imagine, but upon proportionate occasions, and with
causes fitted to justify it and sustain its dignity.] In all this, his
masculine taste gave him a sense of something fade and ludicrous.

The summer of 1803 was now come, and, visiting Kant one day, I was
thunderstruck to hear him direct me, in the most serious tone, to
provide the funds necessary for an extensive foreign tour. I made no
opposition, but asked his reasons for such a plan; he alleged the
miserable sensations he had in his stomach, which were no longer
endurable. Knowing what power over Kant a quotation from a Roman poet
had always had, I simply replied--'Post equitem sedet atra cura,' and
for the present he said no more. But the touching and pathetic
earnestness with which he was continually ejaculating prayers for
warmer weather, made it doubtful to me whether his wishes on this point
ought not, partially at least, to be gratified; and I therefore
proposed to him a little excursion to the cottage we had visited the
year before. 'Anywhere,' said he, 'no matter whither, provided it be
far enough.' Towards the latter end of June, therefore, we executed
this scheme; on getting into the carriage, the order of the day with
Kant was, 'Distance, distance. Only let us go far enough,' said he: but
scarcely had we reached the city-gates before the journey seemed
already to have lasted too long. On reaching the cottage we found
coffee waiting for us; but he would scarcely allow himself time for
drinking it, before he ordered the carriage to the door; and the
journey back seemed insupportably long to him, though it was performed
in something less than twenty minutes. 'Is this never to have an end?'
was his continual exclamation; and great was his joy when he found
himself once more in his study, undressed, and in bed. And for this
night he slept in peace, and once again was liberated from the
persecution of dreams.

Soon after he began again to talk of journeys, of travels in remote
countries, &c., and, in consequence, we repeated our former excursion
several times; and though the circumstances were pretty nearly the same
on every occasion, and always terminating in disappointment as to the
immediate pleasure anticipated, yet, undoubtedly, they were, on the
whole, salutary to his spirits. In particular, the cottage itself,
standing under the shelter of tall alders, with a valley stretched
beneath it, through which a little brook meandered, broken by a water-
fall, whose pealing sound dwelt pleasantly on the ear, sometimes, on a
quiet sunny day, gave a lively delight to Kant: and once, under
accidental circumstances of summer clouds and sun-lights, the little
pastoral landscape suddenly awakened a lively remembrance which had
been long laid asleep, of a heavenly summer morning in youth, which he
had passed in a bower upon the banks of a rivulet that ran through the
grounds of a dear and early friend, Gen. Von Lossow. The strength of
the impression was such, that he seemed actually to be living over that
morning again, thinking as he then thought, and conversing with those
that were no more.

His very last excursion was in August of this year, (1803,) not to my
cottage, but to the garden of a friend. But on this day he manifested
great impatience. It had been arranged that he was to meet an old
friend at the gardens; and I, with two other gentlemen, attended him.
It happened that _out_ party arrived first; and such was Kant's
weakness, and total loss of power to estimate the duration of time,
that, after waiting a few moments, he insisted that some hours had
elapsed--that his friend could not be expected--and went away in great
discomposure of mind. And so ended Kant's travelling in this world.

In the beginning of autumn the sight of his right eye began to fail
him; the left he had long lost the use of. This earliest of his losses,
by the way, he discovered by mere accident, and without any previous
warning. Sitting down one day to rest himself in the course of a walk,
it occurred to him that he would try the comparative strength of his
eyes; but on taking out a newspaper which he had in his pocket, he was
surprised to find that with his left eye he could not distinguish a
letter. In earlier life he had two remarkable affections of the eyes:
once, on returning from a walk, he saw objects double for a long space
of time; and twice he became stone-blind. Whether these accidents are
to be considered as uncommon, I leave to the decision of oculists.
Certain it is, they gave very little disturbance to Kant; who, until
old age had reduced his powers, lived in a constant state of stoical
preparation for the worst that could befall him. I was now shocked to
think of the degree in which his burthensome sense of dependence would
be aggravated, if he should totally lose the power of sight. As it was,
he read and wrote with great difficulty: in fact, his writing was
little better than that which most people can produce as a trial of
skill with their eyes shut. From old habits of solitary study, he had
no pleasure in hearing others read to him; and he daily distressed me
by the pathetic earnestness of his entreaties that I would have a
reading-glass devised for him. Whatever my own optical skill could
suggest, I tried; and the best opticians were sent for to bring their
glasses, and take his directions for altering them; but all was to no

In this last year of his life Kant very unwillingly received the visits
of strangers; and, unless under particular circumstances, wholly
declined them. Yet, when travellers had come a very great way out of
their road to see him, I confess that I was at a loss how to conduct
myself. To have refused too pertinaciously, could not but give me the
air of wishing to make myself of importance. And I must acknowledge,
that, amongst some instances of importunity and coarse expressions of
low-bred curiosity, I witnessed, on the part of many people of rank, a
most delicate sensibility to the condition of the aged recluse. On
sending in their cards, they would generally accompany them by some
message, expressive of their unwillingness to gratify their wish to see
him at any risk of distressing him. The fact was, that such visits
_did_ distress him much; for he felt it a degradation to be exhibited
in his helpless state, when he was aware of his own incapacity to meet
properly the attention that was paid to him. Some, however, were
admitted, [Footnote: To whom it appears that Kant would generally
reply, upon their expressing the pleasure it gave them to see him,
'In me you behold a poor superannuated, weak, old man.'] according
to the circumstances of the case, and the state of Kant's spirits at
the moment. Amongst these, I remember that we were particularly pleased
with M. Otto, the same who signed the treaty of peace between France
and England with the present Lord Liverpool, (then Lord Hawkesbury.) A
young Russian also rises to my recollection at this moment, from the
excessive (and I think unaffected) enthusiasm which he displayed. On
being introduced to Kant, he advanced hastily, took both his hands, and
kissed them. Kant, who, from living so much amongst his English
friends, had a good deal of the English dignified reserve about him,
and hated anything like _scenes_, appeared to shrink a little from
this mode of salutation, and was rather embarrassed. However, the young
man's manner, I believe, was not at all beyond his genuine feelings;
for next day he called again, made some inquiries about Kant's health,
was very anxious to know whether his old age were burthensome to him,
and above all things entreated for some little memorial of the great
man to carry away with him. By accident the servant had found a small
cancelled fragment of the original MS. of Kant's 'Anthropologie:' this,
with my sanction, he gave to the Russian; who received it with rapture,
kissed it, and then gave him in return the only dollar he had about
him; and, thinking that not enough, actually pulled off his coat and
waistcoat and forced them upon the man. Kant, whose native simplicity
of character very much indisposed him to sympathy with any

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