Part 7 out of 7
nor never grew pale at the description of that place; I have so fixed
my contemplations on heaven, that I have almost forgot the idea of
Excellent throughout. The fear of hell may, indeed, in some desperate
cases, like the _moxa_, give the first rouse from a moral lethargy, or
like the green venom of copper, by evacuating poison or a dead load from
the inner man, prepare it for nobler ministrations and medicines from
the realm of light and life, that nourish while they stimulate.
There is no salvation to those that believe not in Christ, &c.
This is plainly confined to such as have had Christ preached to
them;--but the doctrine, that salvation is in and by Christ only, is a
most essential verity, and an article of unspeakable grandeur and
consolation. Name--_nomen_, that is, [Greek: noumenon], in its spiritual
interpretation, is the same as power, or intrinsic cause. What? Is it a
few letters of the alphabet, the hearing of which in a given succession,
'Before Abraham was, I am,' is the saying of Christ; yet is it true in
some sense if I say it of myself, for I was not only before myself,
but Adam, that is, in the idea of God, and the decree of that synod
held from all eternity. And in this sense, I say, the world was before
the creation, and at an end before it had a beginning; and thus was I
dead before I was alive;--though my grave be England, my dying-place
was Paradise, and Eve miscarried of me before she conceived of Cain.
Compare this with s. 11, and the judicious remark there on the mere
accommodation in the 'prae' of predestination. But the subject was too
tempting for the rhetorician.
Part II. s. 1.
But as in casting account, three or four men together come short in
account of one man placed by himself below them, &c.
Thus 1,965. But why is the 1, said to be placed below the 965?
Let me be nothing, if within the compass of myself, I do not finde the
battaile of Lepanto, passion against reason, 'reason against faith',
faith against the devil, and my conscience against all.
It may appear whimsical, but I really feel an impatient regret, that
this good man had so misconceived the nature both of faith and reason as
to affirm their contrariety to each other.
For my originale sin, I hold it to bee washed away in my baptisme; for
my actual transgressions, I compute and reckon with God, but from my
last repentance, &c.
This is most true as far as the imputation of the same is concerned. For
where the means of avoiding its consequences have been afforded, each
after transgression is actual, by a neglect of those means.
God, being all goodnesse, can love nothing but himself; he loves us
but for that part which is, as it were, himselfe, and the traduction
of his Holy Spirit.
This recalls a sublime thought of Spinosa. Every true virtue is a part
of that love, with which God loveth himself.
[Footnote 1: Communicated by Mr. Wordsworth.--Ed.]
[Footnote 2: A mistake as to AEnesidemus, who lived in the age of
NOTES ON SIR THOMAS BROWNE'S GARDEN OF CYRUS,
OR THE QUINCUNCIAL, ETC. PLANTATIONS OF THE ANCIENTS, ETC.
That bodies are first spirits, Paracelsus could affirm, &c.
Effects purely relative from properties merely comparative, such as
edge, point, grater, &c. are not proper qualities: for they are
indifferently producible 'ab extra', by grinding, &c., and 'ab intra',
from growth. In the latter instance, they suppose qualities as their
antecedents. Now, therefore, since qualities cannot proceed from
quantity, but quantity from quality,--and as matter opposed to spirit is
shape by modification of extension, or pure quantity,--Paracelsus's
'dictum' is defensible.
The aequivocall production of things, under undiscerned principles,
makes a large part of generation, &c.
Written before Harvey's 'ab ovo omnia'. Since his work, and Lewenhock's
'Microscopium', the question is settled in physics; but whether in
metaphysics, is not quite so clear.
And mint growing in glasses of water, until it arriveth at the weight
of an ounce, in a shady place, will sometimes exhaust a pound of
How much did Brown allow for evaporation?
Things entering upon the intellect by a pyramid from without, and
thence into the memory by another from within, the common decussation
being in the understanding, &c.
This nearly resembles Kant's intellectual 'mechanique'.
The Platonists held three knowledges of God;--first, [Greek: parousia],
his own incommunicable self-comprehension;--second, [Greek: kata
noaesin]--by pure mind, unmixed with the sensuous;--third, [Greek: kat
epistaemaen]--by discursive intelligential act. Thus a Greek
philosopher:--[Greek: tous epistaemonikous logous muthous haegaesetai
sunousa t'o patri kai sunesti'omenae hae psuchae en tae alaetheia tou
ontos, kai en augae kathara].--Those notions of God which we attain by
processes of intellect, the soul will consider as mythological
allegories, when it exists in union with the Father, and is feasting
with him in the truth of very being, and in the pure, unmixed,
absolutely simple and elementary, splendor. Thus expound Exod. c.
xxxiii. v. 10. 'And he said, thou canst not see my face: for there
shall no man see me, and live'. By the 'face of God,' Moses meant the
[Greek: idea noaetikae] which God declared incompatible with human life,
it implying [Greek: epaphae tou noaetou], or contact with the pure
NOTES ON SIR THOMAS BROWNE'S VULGAR ERRORS.
ADDRESS TO THE READER.
Is not this the same person as the physician mentioned by Mrs.
Hutchinson in her Memoirs of her husband?
Book I. c. 8. s. 1. The veracity and credibility of Herodotus have
increased and increase with the increase of our discoveries. Several of
his relations deemed fabulous, have been authenticated within the last
thirty years from this present 1808.
Ib. s. 2.
Sir John Mandevill left a book of travels:--herein he often attesteth
the fabulous relations of Ctesias.
Many, if not most, of these Ctesian fables in Sir J. Mandevill were
Ib. s. 13.
Cardanus--is of singular use unto a prudent reader; but unto him that
only desireth 'hoties', or to replenish his head with varieties,--he
may become no small occasion of error.
'Hoties'--[Greek: hoti s]--'whatevers,' that is, whatever is
written, no matter what, true or false,--'omniana'; 'all sorts of
varieties,' as a dear young lady once said to me.
Ib. c. ix.
If Heraclitus with his adherents will hold the sun is no bigger than
It is not improbable that Heraclitus meant merely to imply that we
perceive only our own sensations, and they of course are what they
are;--that the image of the sun is an appearance, or sensation in our
eyes, and, of course, an appearance can be neither more nor less than
what it appears to be;--that the notion of the true size of the sun is
not an image, or belonging either to the sense, or to the sensuous
fancy, but is an imageless truth of the understanding obtained by
intellectual deductions. He could not possibly mean what Sir T. B.
supposes him to have meant; for if he had believed the sun to be no more
than a mile distant from us, every tree and house must have shown its
In the following books I have endeavoured, wherever the author himself
is in a vulgar error, as far as my knowledge extends, to give in the
margin, either the demonstrated discoveries, or more probable opinions,
of the present natural philosophy;--so that, independently of the
entertainingness of the thoughts and tales, and the force and splendor
of Sir Thomas Browne's diction and manner, you may at once learn from
him the history of human fancies and superstitions, both when he detects
them, and when he himself falls into them,--and from my notes, the real
truth of things, or, at least, the highest degree of probability, at
which human research has hitherto arrived.
Book II. c. i. Production of crystal. Cold is the attractive or
astringent power, comparatively uncounteracted by the dilative, the
diminution of which is the proportional increase of the contractive.
Hence the astringent, or power of negative magnetism, is the proper
agent in cold, and the contractive, or oxygen, an allied and
consequential power. 'Crystallum, non ex aqua, sed ex substantia
metallorum communi confrigeratum dico'. As the equator, or mid point of
the equatorial hemispherical line, is to the centre, so water is to
gold. Hydrogen is to the electrical azote, as azote to the magnetic
Crystal--will strike fire--and upon collision with steel send forth
its sparks, not much inferiourly to a flint.
It being, indeed, nothing else but pure flint.
And the magick thereof (the lodestone) is not safely to be believed,
which was delivered by Orpheus, that sprinkled with water it will upon
a question emit a voice not much unlike an infant.
That is:--to the twin counterforces of the magnetic power, the
equilibrium of which is revealed in magnetic iron, as the substantial,
add the twin counterforces or positive and negative poles of the
electrical power, the indifference of which is realized in water, as the
superficial--(whence Orpheus employed the term 'sprinkled,' or rather
affused or superfused)--and you will hear the voice of infant
nature;--that is, you will understand the rudimental products and
elementary powers and constructions of the phenomenal world. An enigma
this not unworthy of Orpheus, 'quicunque fuit', and therefore not
improbably ascribed to him.
N. B. Negative and positive magnetism are to attraction and repulsion,
or cohesion and dispersion, as negative and positive electricity are to
contraction and dilation.
C. vii. s. 4.
That camphire begets in men [Greek: taen anaphrodisian], observation
will hardly confirm, &c.
There is no doubt of the fact as to a temporary effect; and camphire is
therefore a strong and immediate antidote to an overdose of
'cantharides'. Yet there are, doubtless, sorts and cases of [Greek:
anaphrodisia], which camphire might relieve. Opium is occasionally an
aphrodisiac, but far oftener the contrary. The same is true of 'bang',
or powdered hemp leaves, and, I suppose, of the whole tribe of narcotic
Ib. s. 8.
The yew and the berries thereof are harmless, we know.
The berries are harmless, but the leaves of the yew are undoubtedly
poisonous. See Withering's British Plants. Taxus.
Book III. c. xiii.
For although lapidaries and 'questuary' enquirers affirm it, &c.
'Questuary'--having gain or money for their object.
B. VI. c. viii.
The river Gihon, a branch of Euphrates and river of Paradise.
The rivers from Eden were, perhaps, meant to symbolize, or rather
expressed only, the great primary races of mankind. Sir T.B. was the
very man to have seen this; but the superstition of the letter was then
Ib. c. x.
The chymists have laudably reduced their causes--(of colors)--unto
'sal', 'sulphur', and 'mercury', &c.
Even now, after all the brilliant discoveries from Scheele, Priestley,
and Cavendish, to Berzelius and Davy, no improvement has been made in
this division,--not of primary bodies (those idols of the modern atomic
chemistry), but of causes, as Sir T.B. rightly expresses them,--that is,
of elementary powers manifested in bodies. Let mercury stand for the
bi-polar metallic principle, best imaged as a line or 'axis' from north
to south,--the north or negative pole being the cohesive or coherentific
force, and the south or positive pole being the dispersive or
incoherentific force: the first is predominant in, and therefore
represented by, carbon,--the second by nitrogen; and the series of
metals are the primary and, hence, indecomponible 'syntheta' and
proportions of both. In like manner, sulphur represents the active and
passive principle of fire: the contractive force, or negative
electricity--oxygen--produces flame; and the dilative force, or positive
electricity--hydrogen--produces warmth. And lastly, salt is the
equilibrium or compound of the two former. So taken, salt, sulphur, and
mercury are equivalent to the combustive, the combustible, and the
combust, under one or other of which all known bodies, or ponderable
substances, may be classed and distinguished.
The difference between a great mind's and a little mind's use of history
is this. The latter would consider, for instance, what Luther did,
taught, or sanctioned: the former, what Luther,--a Luther,--would now
do, teach, and sanction. This thought occurred to me at midnight,
Tuesday, the 16th of March, 1824, as I was stepping into bed,--my eye
having glanced on Luther's Table Talk.
If you would be well with a great mind, leave him with a favorable
impression of you;--if with a little mind, leave him with a favorable
opinion of himself.
It is not common to find a book of so early date as this (1658), at
least among those of equal neatness of printing, that contains so many
gross typographical errors;--with the exception of our earliest dramatic
writers, some of which appear to have been never corrected, but worked
off at once as the types were first arranged by the compositors. But the
grave and doctrinal works are, in general, exceedingly correct, and form
a striking contrast to modern publications, of which the late edition of
Bacon's Works would be paramount in the infamy of multiplied unnoticed
'errata', were it not for the unrivalled slovenliness of Anderson's
British Poets, in which the blunders are, at least, as numerous as the
pages, and many of them perverting the sense, or killing the whole
beauty, and yet giving or affording a meaning, however low, instead.
These are the most execrable of all typographical errors. 1808.
[The volume from which the foregoing notes have been taken, is inscribed
in Mr. Lamb's writing--
'C. Lamb, 9th March, 1804. Bought for S.T. Coleridge.' Under which in
Mr. Coleridge's hand is written--
'N.B. It was on the 10th; on which day I dined and punched at Lamb's,
and exulted in the having procured the 'Hydriotaphia', and all the rest
'lucro apposita'. S.T.C.'
That same night, the volume was devoted as a gift to a dear friend in
the following letter.-Ed.]
Sat. night, 12 o'clock.
Sir Thomas Brown is among my first favorites, rich in various knowledge,
exuberant in conceptions and conceits, contemplative, imaginative; often
truly great and magnificent in his style and diction, though doubtless
too often big, stiff, and hyperlatinistic: thus I might without
admixture of falsehood, describe Sir T. Brown, and my description would
have only this fault, that it would be equally, or almost equally,
applicable to half a dozen other writers, from the beginning of the
reign of Elizabeth to the end of Charles II. He is indeed all this; and
what he has more than all this peculiar to himself, I seem to convey to
my own mind in some measure by saying,--that he is a quiet and sublime
enthusiast with a strong tinge of the fantast,--the humourist constantly
mingling with, and flashing across, the philosopher, as the darting
colours in shot silk play upon the main dye. In short, he has brains in
his head which is all the more interesting for a little twist in the
brains. He sometimes reminds the reader of Montaigne, but from no other
than the general circumstances of an egotism common to both; which in
Montaigne is too often a mere amusing gossip, a chit-chat story of whims
and peculiarities that lead to nothing,--but which in Sir Thomas Brown
is always the result of a feeling heart conjoined with a mind of active
curiosity,--the natural and becoming egotism of a man, who, loving other
men as himself, gains the habit, and the privilege of talking about
himself as familiarly as about other men. Fond of the curious, and a
hunter of oddities and strangenesses, while he conceived himself, with
quaint and humourous gravity a useful inquirer into physical truth and
fundamental science,--he loved to contemplate and discuss his own
thoughts and feelings, because he found by comparison with other men's,
that they too were curiosities, and so with a perfectly graceful and
interesting ease he put them too into his museum and cabinet of
varieties. In very truth he was not mistaken:--so completely does he see
every thing in a light of his own, reading nature neither by sun, moon,
nor candle light, but by the light of the faery glory around his own
head; so that you might say that nature had granted to him in perpetuity
a patent and monopoly for all his thoughts. Read his 'Hydriotaphia'
above all:--and in addition to the peculiarity, the exclusive Sir-
Thomas-Brown-ness of all the fancies and modes of illustration, wonder
at and admire his entireness in every subject, which is before him--he
is 'totus in illo'; he follows it; he never wanders from it,--and he has
no occasion to wander;--for whatever happens to be his subject, he
metamorphoses all nature into it. In that 'Hydriotaphia' or Treatise on
some Urns dug up in Norfolk--how earthy, how redolent of graves and
sepulchres is every line! You have now dark mould, now a thigh-bone, now
a scull, then a bit of mouldered coffin! a fragment of an old tombstone
with moss in its 'hic jacet';--a ghost or a winding-sheet--or the echo
of a funeral psalm wafted on a November wind! and the gayest thing you
shall meet with shall be a silver nail or gilt 'Anno Domini' from a
perished coffin top. The very same remark applies in the same force to
the interesting, through the far less interesting, Treatise on the
Quincuncial Plantations of the Ancients. There is the same attention to
oddities, to the remotenesses and 'minutiae' of vegetable terms,--the
same entireness of subject. You have quincunxes in heaven above,
quincunxes in earth below, and quincunxes in the water beneath the
earth; quincunxes in deity, quincunxes in the mind of man, quincunxes in
bones, in the optic nerves, in roots of trees, in leaves, in petals, in
every thing. In short, first turn to the last leaf of this volume, and
read out aloud to yourself the last seven paragraphs of Chap. v.
beginning with the words 'More considerables,' &c. But it is time for me
to be in bed, in the words of Sir Thomas, which will serve you, my dear,
as a fair specimen of his manner.--'But the quincunx of heaven--(the
Hyades or five stars about the horizon at midnight at that time)--runs
low, and 'tis time we close the five ports of knowledge: we are
unwilling to spin out our waking thoughts into the phantasmes of sleep,
which often continueth praecogitations,--making tables of cobwebbes, and
wildernesses of handsome groves. To keep our eyes open longer were but
to act our Antipodes. The huntsmen are up in America, and they are
already past their first sleep in Persia.' Think you, my dear Friend,
that there ever was such a reason given before for going to bed at
midnight;--to wit, that if we did not, we should be acting the part of
our Antipodes! And then 'the huntsmen are up in America.'--What life,
what fancy!--Does the whimsical knight give us thus a dish of strong
green tea, and call it an opiate! I trust that you are quietly asleep--
And that all the stars hang bright above your dwelling, Silent as tho'
they watched the sleeping earth!
S. T. COLERIDGE.