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of poetic sublimity.

Lastly, as to the execution:–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTES ON MILTON. 1807. [1]

(Hayley quotes the following passage:–)

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

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

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

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

Hayley, p. 75. “The sincerest friends of Milton may here agree with Johnson, who speaks of ‘his controversial merriment as disgusting’.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Hayley, p. 133. Hayley is speaking of Milton’s panegyric on Cromwell’s government:-)

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

(Hayley, p. 250. Hayley’s conjectures on the origin of the ‘Paradise Lost’:–)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1796. [3]

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note. [1] June, 1827.

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

I. The Fallen Spirits.

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

II. The Egyptian Magicians.

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

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

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

NOTES. [1] March, 1824.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And coxcombs vanquish Berkeley with a grin!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote: Prologue to Canterbury Tales.]

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

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

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

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

Eccles. ‘Pol.’ I. s. 11.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

So say I.

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

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

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

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

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

S. 36. Truly sublime–and in Sir T. B.’s very best manner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


‘Stat nominis umbra’.

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

‘Dedication to the English nation’.

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

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

A longer sentence and proportionately inelegant.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An inelegant cluster of ‘withouts’. Junius asks questions incomparably well;–but ‘ne quid nimis’.

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