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266 Course of Lectures 
case, and perhaps Swift's ; though Swift again would 
require a separate classification. 
2. In the traits of human nature, which so easily assume 
a particular cast and colour from individual character. 
Hence this excellence and the pathos connected with it 
quickly pass into humour, and form the ground of it. See 
particularly the beautiful passage, so well known, of Uncle 
Toby's catching and liberating the fly : 
" Go," — says he, one day at dinner, to an overgrown one which 
had buzzed about his nose, and tormented him cruelly all dinner- 
time, and which, after infinite attempts, he had caught at last, as 
it flew by him ; — " I'll not hurt thee," says my Uncle Toby, rising 
from his chair, and going across the room, with the fly in his hand, 
— " I'll not hurt a hair of thy head : — " Go," says he, lifting up the 
sash, and opening his hand as he spoke, to let it escape ; — " go, 
poor devil, get thee gone, why should I hurt thee ? This world is 
surely wide enough to hold both thee and me." Vol. ii. ch. 12. 
Observe in this incident how individual character may be 
given by the mere delicacy of presentation and elevation 
in degree of a common good quality, humanity, which in 
itself would not be characteristic at all. 
3. In Mr. Shandy's character, — the essence of which is 
a craving for sympathy in exact proportion to the oddity 
and unsympathizability of what he proposes ; — this 
coupled with an instinctive desire to be at least disputed 
with, or rather both in one, to dispute and yet to agree — 
and holding as worst of all — to acquiesce without either 
resistance or sjmipathy. This is charmingly, indeed, pro- 
foundly conceived, and is psychologically and ethically 
true of all Mr. Shandies. Note, too, how the contrasts of 
character, which are always either balanced or remedied, 
increase the love between the brothers. 
4. No writer is so happy as Sterne in the unexaggerated 
and truly natural representation of that species of slander, 
which consists in gossiping about our neighbours, as whet- 
stones of our moral discrimination ; as if they were 
conscience-blocks which we used in our apprenticeship, 
in order not to waste such precious materials as our own 
consciences in the trimming and shaping of ourselves by 
self-examination : — 
Alas o'day ! — had Mrs. Shandy, (poor gentlewoman !) had but 
her wish in going up to town just to lie in and come down again ; 
Lecture IX. 267 
which, they say, she begged and prayed for upon her bare knees, 
and which, in my opinion, considering the fortune which Mr. 
Shandy got with her, was no such mighty matter to have complied 
with, the lady and her babe might both of them have been alive at 
this hour. Vol. i. c. i8. 
5. When you have secured a man's Hkings and pre- 
judices in your favour, you may then safely appeal to his 
impartial judgment. In the following passage not only 
is acute sense shrouded in wit, but a life and a character 
are added which exalt the whole into the dramatic : — 
" I see plainly. Sir, by your looks " (or as the case happened) my 
father would say — " that you do not heartily subscribe to this 
opinion of mine — which, to those," he would add, " who have not 
carefully sifted it to the bottom, — I own has an air more of fancy 
than of solid reasoning in it ; and yet, my dear Sir, if I may pre- 
sume to know your character, I am morally assured I should 
hazard little in stating a case to you, not as a party in the dispute, 
but as a judge, and trusting my appeal upon it to your good sense 
and candid disquisition in this matter ; you are a persoA free from 
as many narrow prejudices of education as most men ; and, if I may 
presume to penetrate farther into you, of a liberality of genius 
above bearing down an opinion, merely because it wants friends. 
Your son, — your dear son, — from whose sweet and open temper 
you have so much to expect, — your Billy, Sir ! — would you, 
for the world, have called him Judas ? Would you, my dear 
Sir," he would say, laying his hand upon your breast, with the 
genteelest address, — and in that soft and irresistible piano of voice, 
which the nature of the argumentum ad hominem absolutely re- 
quires, — " Would you, Sir, if a Jew of a godfather had proposed 
the name for your child, and offered you his purse along with it, 
would you have consented to such a desecration of him ? O my 
God ! " he would say, looking up, " if I know your temper rightly. 
Sir, you are incapable of it ; — you would have trampled upon the 
offer ; — you would have thrown the temptation at the tempter's 
head with abhorrence. Your greatness of mind in this action, 
which I admire, with that generous contempt of money, which 
you show me in the whole transaction, is really noble ; — and what 
renders it more so, is the principle of it ; — the workings of a parent's 
love upon the truth and conviction of this very hypothesis, namely, 
that were your son called Judas, — the sordid and treacherous idea, 
so inseparable from the name, would have accompanied him through 
life like his shadow, and in the end made a miser and a rascal of 
him, in spite. Sir, of your example." Vol. i. c. 19. 
6. There is great physiognomic tact in Sterne. See it 
particularly displayed in his description of Dr. Slop, 
accompanied with all that happiest use of drapery and 
attitude, which at once give reality by individualizing and 
vividness by unusual, yet probable, combinations : — 
Imagine to yourself a little squat uncourtly figure of a Doctor 
268 Course of Lectures 
Slop, of about four feet and a half perpendicular height, with a 
breadth of back, and a sesquipedality of belly, which might have 
done honour to a serjeant in the horseguards. 
« * K * * 
Imagine such a one ; — for such, I say, were the outlines of Doctor 
Slop's figure, coming slowly along, foot by foot, waddling through 
the dirt upon the vertebrce of a little diminutive pony, of a pretty 
colour — but of strength, — alack ! scarce able to have made an 
amble of it, under such a fardel, had the roads been in an ambling 
condition ; — they were not. Imagine to yourself Obadiah mounted 
upon a strong monster of a coach-horse, pricked into a full gallop, 
and making all practicable speed the adverse way. Vol. ii. c. 9. 
7. I think there is more humour in the single remark, 
which I have quoted before — " Learned men, brother 
Toby, don't write dialogues upon long noses for nothing ! " 
— than in the whole Slawkenburghian tale that follows, 
which is mere oddity interspersed with drollery. ^ 
8. Note Sterne's assertion of, and faith in a moral good 
in the characters of Trim, Toby, &c. as contrasted with the 
cold scepticism of motives which is the stamp of the 
Jacobin spirit. Vol. v. c. 9. 
9. You must bear in mind, in order to do justice to 
Rabelais and Sterne, that by right of humoristic univer- 
sality each part is essentially a whole in itself. Hence the 
digressive spirit is not mere wantonness, but in fact the 
very form and vehicle of their genius. The connection, 
such as was needed, is given by the continuity of the 
Instances of different forms of wit, taken largely : 
1. " Why are you reading romances at your age ? " — " Why, 1 
used to be fond of history, but I have given it up, — it was so grossly 
2. " Pray, sir, do it ! — although you have promised me." 
3. The Spartan's mother — 
" Return with, or on, thy shield." 
" My sword is too short ! " — " Take a step forwarder." 
4. The Gasconade : — 
" I believe you, Sir ! but you will excuse my repeating it on 
account of my provincial accent." 
5. Pasquil on Pope Urban, who had employed a com- 
mittee to rip up the old errors of his predecessors. 
Some one placed a pair of spurs on the heels of the 
Lecture X. 269 
statue of St. Peter, and a label from the opposite statue 
of St. Paul, on the same bridge ; — 
St. Paul. " Whither then are you bound ? " 
Si. Peter. " I apprehend danger here ; — they'll soon call me in 
question for denying my Master." 
St. Paul. " Nay, then, I had better be off too ; for they'll question 
me for having persecuted the Christians, before my conversion." 
6. Speaking of the small German potentates, I dictated 
the phrase, — officious for equivalents. This my amanu- 
ensis wrote, — fishing for elephants ; — which, as I observed 
at the time, was a sort of Noah's angling, that could 
hardly have occurred, except at the commencement of the 
Donne — Dante — Milton — Paradise Lost. 
Born in London, 1573. — Died, 1631. 
With Donne, whose muse on dromedary trots, 
Wreathe iron pokers into true-love knots ; 
Rhyme's sturdy cripple, fancy's maze and clue, 
Wit's forge and fire-blast, meaning's press and screw. 
See lewdness and theology combin'd, — 
A cynic and a sycophantic mind ; 
A fancy shar'd party per pale between 
Death's heads and skeletons, and Aretine ! — 
Not his peculiar defect or crime, 
But the true current mintage of the time. 
Such were the establish'd signs and tokens given 
To mark a loyal churchman, sound and even. 
Free from papistic and fanatic leaven. 
The wit of Donne, the wit of Butler, the wit of Pope, the 
wit of Congreve, the wit of Sheridan — how many disparate 
things are here expressed by one and the same word. Wit ! 
1 Nothing remains of what was said on Donne in this Lecture. Here, therefore, as 
in previous like instances, the gap is filled up with some notes written by Mr. Coleridge 
in a volume of Chalmers' Poets, belonging to Mr. Gillman. The verses were added in 
270 Course of Lectures 
— Wonder-exciting vigour, intenseness and peculiarity of 
thought, using at will the almost boundless stores of a 
capacious memory, and exercised on subjects, where we 
have no right to expect it — this is the wit of Donne ! The 
four others I am just in the mood to describe and inter- 
distinguish ; — what a pity that the marginal space will 
not let me ! 
My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears, 
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest ; 
Where can we find two fitter hemispheres 
Without sharp north, without decHning west ? 
Good -Morrow, v. 15, &c. 
The sense is ; — Our mutual loves may in many respects 
be fitly compared to corresponding hemispheres ; but as 
no simile squares [nihil simile est idem), so here the simile 
fails, for there is nothing in our loves that corresponds to 
the cold north, or the declining west, which in two hemi- 
spheres must necessarily be supposed. But an ellipse of 
such length will scarcely rescue the line from the charge 
of nonsense or a bull. January, 1829. 
Woman's constancy. 
A misnomer. The title ought to be — 
Mutual Inconstancy. 
WTiether both th' Indias of spice and mine, &c. 
Sun Rising, v. 17. 
And see at night thy western land of mine, &c. 
Progress of the Soul, i Song, 2. st. 
This use of the word mim specifically for mines of gold, 
silver, or precious stones, is, I believe, peculiar to Donne. 
Bom at Florence, 1265. — Died, 1321. 
As I remarked in a former Lecture on a different subject 
(for subjects the most diverse in literature have still their 
tangents), the Gothic character, and its good and evil 
fruits, appeared less in Italy than in any other part of 
European Christendom. There was accordingly much less 
romance, as that word is commonly understood ; or, 
pencil to the collection of commendatory lines ; No. I. is Mr. C.'s ; the publication of 
No. II. I trust the all-accomplished author will, under the circumstances, pardon. 
Numerous and elaborate notes by Mr. Coleridge on Donne's Sermons are in exktence, 
and will be published hereafter. EtJ. 
Lecture X. 271 
perhaps, more truly stated, there was romance instead of 
chivalry. In Italy, an earlier imitation of, and a more 
evident and intentional blending with, the Latin hterature 
took place than elsewhere. The operation of the feudal 
system, too, was incalculably weaker, of that singular 
chain of independent interdependents, the principle of 
which was a confederacy for the preservation of individual, 
consistently with general, freedom. In short, Italy, in the 
time of Dante, was an after-birth of eldest Greece, a 
renewal or a reflex of the old Italy under its kings and first 
Roman consuls, a net-work of free little republics, with 
the same domestic feuds, civil wars, and party spirit, — 
the same vices and virtues produced on a similarly narrow 
theatre, — the existing state of things being, as in all small 
democracies, under the working and direction of certain 
individuals, to whose will even the laws were swayed ; — 
whilst at the same time the singular spectacle was ex- 
hibited amidst aU this confusion of the flourishing of 
commerce, and the protection and encouragement of 
letters and arts. Never was the commercial spirit so well 
reconciled to the nobler principles of social pohty as in 
Florence. It tended there to union and permanence and 
elevation, — not as the overbalance of it in England is now 
doing, to dislocation, change and moral degradation. 
The intensest patriotism reigned in these communities, 
but confined and attached exclusively to the small locality 
of the patriot's birth and residence ; whereas in the true 
Gothic feudalism, country was nothing but the preserva- 
tion of personal independence. But then, on the other 
hand, as a counterbalance to these disuniting elements, 
there was in Dante's Italy, as in Greece, a much greater 
uniformity of religion common to all than amongst the 
northern nations. 
Upon these hints the history of the repubhcan seras of 
ancient Greece and modern Italy ought to be written. 
There are three kinds or stages of historic narrative ; — 
I. that of the annalist or chronicler, who deals merely in 
facts and events arranged in order of time, having no prin- 
ciple of selection, no plan of arrangement, and whose work 
properly constitutes a supplement to the poetical writings 
of romance or heroic legends : — 2. that of the writer who 
takes his stand on some moral point, and selects a series of 
events for the express purpose of illustrating it, and in 
272 Course of Lectures 
whose hands the narrative of the selected events is modified 
by the principle of selection ; — as Thucydides, whose object 
was to describe the evils of democratic and aristocratic 
partizanships ; — or Polybius, whose design was to show the 
social benefits resulting from the triumph and grandeur of 
Rome, in public institutions and military discipline ; — or 
Tacitus, whose secret aim was to exhibit the pressure and 
corruptions of despotism ; — in all which writers and others 
hke them, the ground-object of the historian colours with 
artificial lights the facts which he relates : — 3. and which in 
idea is the grandest — the most truly founded in philosophy 
— there is the Herodotean history, which is not composed 
with reference to any particular causes, but attempts to 
describe human nature itself on a great scale as a portion of 
the drama of providence, the free will of man resisting the 
destiny of events, — for the individuals often succeeding 
against it, but for the race always yielding to it, and in the 
resistance itself invariably affording means towards the 
completion of the ultimate result. Mitford's history is a 
good and useful work ; but in his zeal against democratic 
government, Mitford forgot, or never saw, that ancient 
Greece was not, nor ought ever to be considered, a per- 
manent thing, but that it existed, in the disposition of pro- 
vidence, as a proclaimer of ideal truths, and that everlast- 
ing proclamation being made, that its functions were 
naturally at an end. 
However, in the height of such a state of society in Italy, 
Dante was born and flourished ; and was himself eminently 
a picture of the age in which he lived. But of more im- 
portance even than this, to a right understanding of Dante, 
is the consideration that the scholastic philosophy was 
then at its acme even in itself ; but more especially in Italy, 
where it never prevailed so exclusively as northward of 
the Alps. It is impossible to understand the genius of 
Dante, and difficult to understand his poem, without some 
knowledge of the characters, studies, and writings of the 
schoolmen of the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth 
centuries. For Dante was the living link between religion 
and philosophy ; he philosophized the religion and chris- 
tianized the philosophy of Italy ; and, in this poetic union 
of religion and philosophy, he became the ground of tran- 
sition into the mixed Platonism and Aristotelianism of the 
Schools, under which, by numerous minute articles of faith 
Lecture X. 273 
and ceremony, Christianity became a craft of hair-splitting, 
and was ultimately degraded into a complete fetisch 
worship, divorced from philosophy, and made up of a faith 
without thought, and a credulity directed by passion. 
Afterwards, indeed, philosophy revived under condition of 
defending this very superstition ; and, in so doing, it 
necessarily led the way to its subversion, and that in exact 
proportion to the influence of the philosophic schools. 
Hence it did its work most completely in Germany, then in 
England, next in France, then in Spain, least of all in Italy. 
We must, therefore, take the poetry of Dante as chris- 
tianized, but without the further Gothic accession of proper 
chivalry. It was at a somewhat later period, that the 
importations from the East, through the Venetian com- 
merce and the crusading armaments, exercised a pecu- 
liarly strong influence on Italy. 
In studying Dante, therefore, we must consider carefully 
the differences produced, first, by allegory being sub- 
stituted for polytheism ; and secondly and mainly, by the 
opposition of Christianity to the spirit of pagan Greece, 
which receiving the very names of its gods from Egypt, 
soon deprived them of all that was universal. The Greeks 
changed the ideas into finites, and these finites into anthro- 
pomorphi, or forms of men. Hence their religion, their 
poetry, nay, their very pictures, became statuesque. With 
them the form was the end. The reverse of this was the 
natural effect of Christianity ; in which finites, even the 
human form, must, in order to satisfy the mind, be brought 
into connexion with, and be in fact s3mibolical of, the 
infinite ; and must be considered in some enduring, how- 
ever shadowy and indistinct, point of view, as the vehicle 
or representative of moral truth. 
Hence resulted two great effects ; a combination of 
poetry with doctrine, and, by turning the mind inward on 
its own essence instead of letting it act only on its outward 
circumstances and communities, a combination of poetry 
with sentiment. And it is this inwardness or subjectivity, 
which principally and most fundamentally distinguishes all 
the classic from all the modern poetry. Compare the 
passage in the Iliad (Z". vi. 119 — 236) in which Diomed and 
Glaucus change arms, — 
Xe?pds t' aSXrjKtJiv Xa^iTrjv Kal inaTwcavTO — 
They took each other by the hand, and pledged friendship — 
274 Course of Lectures 
with the scene in Ariosto (Orlando Furioso, c. i. st. 20-22), 
where Rinaldo and Ferrauto fight and afterwards make it 
up : — 
Al Pagan la proposta non dispiacque : 
Cosl fu difierita la tenzone ; 
E tal tregua tra lor subito nacque, 
81 r odio e 1' ira va in oblivione, 
Che '1 Pagano al partir dalle fresche acque 
Non lascio a piede il buon figliuol d' Amone ; 
Con preghi invita, e al tin lo toglie in groppa, 
E per r orme d' Angelica galoppa. 
Here Homer would have left it. But the Christian poet 
has his own feelings to express, and goes on : — 
Oh gran bonta de' cavalieri antiqui I 
Eran rivali, eran di fe diversi, 
E si sentian degli aspri colpi iniqui 
Per tutta la persona anco dolersi ; 
E pur per selve oscure e calli obbliqui 
Insieme van senza sospetto aversi ! 
And here you will observe, that the reaction of Ariosto's 
own feelings on the image or act is more fore-grounded (to 
use a painter's phrase) than the image or act itself. 
The two different modes in which the imagination is 
acted on by the ancient and modern poetry, may be illus- 
trated by the parallel effects caused by the contemplation 
of the Greek or Roman-Greek architecture, compared with 
the Gothic. In the Pantheon, the whole is perceived in a 
perceived harmony with the parts which compose it ; and 
generally you will remember that where the parts preserve 
any distinct individuality, there simple beauty, or beauty 
simply, arises ; but where the parts melt undistinguished 
into the whole, there majestic beaut}^ or majesty, is the 
result. In York Minster, the parts, the grotesques, are in 
themselves very sharply distinct and separate, and this 
distinction and separation of the parts is counterbalanced 
only by the multitude and variety of those parts, by which 
the attention is bewildered ; — whilst the whole, or that 
there is a whole produced, is altogether a feeling in which 
the several thousand distinct impressions lose themselves 
as in a universal solvent. Hence in a Gothic cathedral, as 
in a prospect from a mountain's top, there is, indeed, a 
unity, an awful oneness ; — but it is, because all distinction 
Lecture X. 275 
evades the eye. And just such is the distinction between, 
the Antigone of Sophocles and the Hamlet of Shakspeare.^ 
The Divina Commedia is a system of moral, political, 
and theological truths, with arbitrary personal exempli- 
fications, which are not, in my opinion, allegorical. I do not 
even feel convinced that the punishments in the Inferno are 
strictly allegorical. I rather take them to have been in 
Dante's mind quasi-a.]le§oncal, or conceived in analogy to 
pure allegory. 
I have said, that a combination of poetry with doctrines, 
is one of the characteristics of the Christian muse ; but I 
think Dante has not succeeded in effecting this combination 
nearly so well as Milton. 
This comparative failure of Dante, as also some other 
peculiarities of his mind, in malam partem, must be im- 
mediately attributed to the state of North Italy in his time, 
which is vividly represented in Dante's life; a state of 
intense democratical partizanship, in which an exaggerated 
importance was attached to individuals, and which whilst it 
afforded a vast field for the intellect, opened also a bound- 
less arena for the passions, and in which envy, jealousy, 
hatred, and other malignant feelings could and did as- 
sume the form of patriotism, even to the individual's 
own conscience. 
All this common, and, as it were, natural partizanship, 
was aggravated and coloured by the Guelf and GhibeUine 
factions ; and, in part explanation of Dante's adherence 
to the latter, you must particularly remark, that the Pope 
had recently territorialized his authority to a great extent, 
and that this increase of territorial power in the church, 
was by no means the same beneficial movement for the 
citizens of free republics, as the parallel advance in other 
countries was for those who groaned as vassals under the 
oppression of the circumjacent baronial castles. ^ 
By way of preparation to a satisfactory perusal of the 
Divina Commedia, I will now proceed to state what I 
consider to be Dante's chief excellences as a poet. And I 
begin with 
I. Style — the vividness, logical connexion, strength 
and energy of which cannot be surpassed. In this I think 
1 See Lect. I. p. 218, and note: and compere with Schlegel's Dram. VorUsung. 
Essay on Shakspeare, p. 12. 
2 Mr. Coleridge here notes : " I will, If I can, here make an hbtorical movement, and 
pay a proper compliment, tu Mr. f^Iallam." Ed. 
276 Course of Lectures 
Dante superior to Milton ; and his style is accordingly 
more imitable than Milton's, and does to this day exercise 
a greater influence on the literature of his count^3^ You 
cannot read Dante without feeling a gush of manliness of 
thought within j^ou. Dante was very sensible of his own 
excellence in this particular, and speaks of poets as 
guardians of the vast armory of language, which is the 
intermediate something between matter and spirit : — 
Or se' tu quel Virgilio, e quella fonte, 
Che spande di parlar si largo fiume ? 
Risposi lui con vergognosa fronte. 
O degli altri poeti onore e lume, 
Vagliami '1 lungo studio e '1 grande amore, 
Che m' han fatto cercar lo tuo volume. 
Tu se' lo mio maestro, e '1 mio autore : 
Tu se' solo colui, da cii' to tolsi 
Lo hello stile, che m' ha fatto onore. 
Inf. c. I. V. 79. 
" And art thou then that Virgil, that well-spring, 
From which such copious floods of eloquence 
Have issued ? " I, with front abash'd, replied : 
" Glory and light of all the tuneful train ! 
May it avail me, that I long with zeal 
Have sought thy volume, and with love immense 
Have conn'd it o'er. My master, thou, and guide I 
Thou he from whom I have alone derived 
That style, ivhich for its beauty into fame 
Exalts me," Gary. 
Indeed there was a passion and a miracle of words in the 
twelfth and thirteenth centuries, after the long slumber 
of language in barbarism, which gave an almost romantic 
character, a virtuous quality and power, to what was read 
in a book, independently of the thoughts or images con- 
tained in it. This feeling is very often perceptible in 
II. The Images in Dante are not only taken from 
obvious nature, and are all intelligible to all, but are ever 
conjoined with the universal feeling received from nature, 
and therefore affect the general feelings of all men. And 
in this respect, Dante's excellence is very great, and may 
be contrasted with the idiosyncracies of some meritorious 
modern poets, who attempt an eruditeness, the result of 
particular feelings. Consider the simplicity, I may say 
plainness, of the following simile, and how differently we 
should in all probability deal with it at the present day : 
Lecture X. 277 
Quale i fioretti dal notturno gelo 
Chinati e chiusi, poi che '1 sol gl' imbianca, 
Si drizzan tutti aperti in loro stelo, — 
Fal mi fee' io di mia virtute stanca : 
Inf. c. 2. V. 127. 
As florets, by the frosty air of night 
Bent down and clos'd, when day has blanch'd their leaves. 
Rise all unfolded on their spiry stems, — 
So was my fainting vigour new restor'd. 
III. Consider the wonderful profoundness of the whole 
third canto of the Inferno ; and especially of the inscription 
over Hell gate : 
Per me si va, &c. — 
which can only be explained by a meditation on the true 
nature of religion ; that is, — reason plus the understand- 
ing. I say profoundness rather than sublimity ; for 
Dante does not so much elevate your thoughts as send 
them down deeper. In this canto all the images are 
distinct, and even vividly distinct ; but there is a total 
impression of infinity ; the wholeness is not in vision or 
conception, but in an inner feeling of totality, and absolute 
IV. In picturesqueness, Dante is beyond all other poets, 
modern, or ancient, and more in the stern style of Pindar, 
than of any other. Michael Angelo is said to have made 
a design for every page of the Divina Commedia. As 
superexcellent in this respect, I would note the conclusion 
of the third canto of the Inferno : 
Ed ecco verso noi venir per nave 
Un vecchio bianco per antico pelo 
Gridaudo : guai a voi anime prave : &c. 
Ycx. S2. &c. 
And lo ! toward us in a bark 
Comes on an old man, hoary white with eld. 
Crying, " Woe to you, wicked spirits ! " 
Caron dimonio con occhi di bragia 
Loro accennando, tutte le raccoglie : 
Batte col remo qualunque s' adagia. 
Come d' autunno si levan le foglie 
1 Mr. Coleridge here notes : " Here to speak of Mr. Gary's translation. —Ed, 
278 Course of Lectures 
L' una appresso dell' altra, infin che '1 ramo 
Rende alia terra tutte le sue spoglie ; 
Similemente il mal seme d' Adamo, 
Gittansi di quel lito ad una ad una 
Per cenni, com' augel per suo richiamo. 
Ver. roo, &c. 
Charon, demoniac form. 
With eyes of burning coal, collects them all, 
Beck'ning, and each that lingers, with his oar 
Strikes. As fall off the light autumnal leaves, 
One still another following, till the bough 
Strews all its honours on the earth beneath ; — 
E'en in like manner Adam's evil brood 
Cast themselves one by one down from the shore 
Each at a beck, as falcon at his call. Cary. 
And this passage, which I think admirably picturesque 
Ma poco valse, che 1' ale al sospetto 
Non potero avanzar : quegli ando sotto. 
E quei drizzo, volando, suso il petto : 
Non altrimenti 1' anitra di botto, 
Quando '1 falcon s' appressa, giu s' attuffa, 
Ed ei ritoma su crucciato e rotto. 
Irato Calcabrina della buffa, 
Volando dietro gli tenne, invaghito, 
Che quei campasse, per aver la zuffa : 
E come '1 barattier fu disparito, 
Cosi volse gli artigli al suo compagno, 
E fu con lui sovra '1 fosso ghermito. 
Ma r altro fu bene sparvier grifagno 
Ad artigliar ben lui, e amedue 
Cadder nel mezzo del bollente stagno. 
Lo caldo sghermidor subito fue : 
Ma pero di levarsi era niente. 
Si aveano inviscate 1' ale sue. 
Infer, c. xxii. ver. 127, &c. 
But little it avail'd : terror outstripp'd 
His following flight : the other plung'd beneath. 
And he with upward pinion rais'd his breast : 
E'en thus the water-fowl, when she perceives 
The falcon near, dives instant down, while he 
Enrag'd and spent retires. That mockery 
In Calcabrina fury stirr'd, who flew 
After him, with desire of strife inflam'd ; 
And, for the barterer had 'scap'd, so tum'd 
His talons on his comrade. O'er the dyke 
In grapple close they join'd ; but th' other prov'd 
A goshawk, able to rend well his foe ; 
And in the boiling lake both fell. The heat 
Was umpire soon between them, but in vain 
lo lift themselves they strove, so fast were glued 
Their pennons. Cary, 
Lecture X. 279 
V. Very closely connected with this picturesqueness, 
is the topographic reaUty of Dante's journey through Hell. 
You should note and dwell on this as one of his great 
charms, and which gives a striking peculiarity to his poetic 
power. He thus takes the thousand delusive forms of a 
nature worse than chaos, having no reality but from the 
passions which they excite, and compels them into the 
service of the permanent. Observe the exceeding truth 
of these lines : 
Noi ricidemmo '1 cerchio all' altra riva, 
Sovr' una fonte che bolle, e riversa, 
Per un fossato che da lei diriva. 
L' acqua era buja molto piu che persa : 
E noi in compagnia dell' onde bige 
Entrammo giu per una via diversa, 
Una palude fa, ch' ha nome Stige, 
Questo tristo ruscel, quando e disceso 
Al pie delle maligne piagge grige. 
Ed io che di mirar mi stava inteso, — 
Vidi genti fangose in quel pantano 
Ignude tutte, e con sembiante offeso. 
Questi si percotean non pur con mano. 
Ma con la testa, e col petto, e co' piedi, 
Troncandosi co' denti a brano a brano. 
» * * « * « 
Cosl girammo della lorda pozza 
Grand' arco tra la ripa secca e '1 mezzo, 
Con gli occhi volti a chi del fango ingozza : 
Venimmo appie d' una torre al dassezzo. 
C. vii. ver. lOO and 127, 
We the circle cross' d 
To the next steep, arriving at a well. 
That boiling pours itself down to a foss 
Sluic'd from its source. Far murkier was the wave 
Than sablest grain : and we in company 
Of th' inky waters, journeying by their side, 
Enter'd, though by a different track, beneath. 
Into a lake, the Stygian nam'd, expands 
The dismal stream, when it hath reach'd the foot 
Of the grey wither'd cliffs. Intent I stood 
To gaze, and in the marsh sunk, descried 
A miry tribe, all naked, and with looks 
Betok'ning rage. They with their hands alone 
Struck not, but with the head, the breast, the feet, 
Cutting each other piecemeal with their fangs. 
Our route 
Thus compass'd, we a segment widely stretch'd 
Between the dry embankment and the cove 
28o Course of Lectures 
Of the loath' d pool, turning meanwhile our eyes 
Downward on those who gulp'd its muddy lees ; 
Nor stopp'd, till to a tower's low base we came. 
VI. For Dante's power, — his absolute mastery over, 
although rare exhibition of, the pathetic, I can do no 
more than refer to the passages on Francesca di Rimini 
(Infer. C. v. ver. 73 to the end) and on Ugolino, (Infer. C. 
xxxiii. ver. i to 75.) They are so well known, and rightly 
so admired, that it would be pedantry to analyze their 
composition ; but you will note that the first is the pathos 
of passion, the second that of affection ; and yet even in 
the first, you seem to perceive that the lovers have sacrificed 
their passion to the cherishing of a deep and rememberable 
VII. As to going into the endless subtle beauties of 
Dante, that is impossible ; but I cannot help citing the 
first triplet of the 29th canto of the Inferno : 
La molta gente e le diverse piaghe 
Avean le luci mie si inebriate, 
Che dello stare a piangere eran vaghe. 
So were mine eyes inebriate with the view 
Of the vast multitude, whom various wounds 
Disfigur'd, that they long'd to stay and weep. 
Nor have I now room for any specific comparison of Dante 
with Milton. But if I had, I would institute it upon the 
ground of the last canto of the Inferno from the ist to the 
69th line, and from the io6th to the end. And in this 
comparison I should notice Dante's occasional fault of 
becoming grotesque from being too graphic without 
imagination ; as in his Lucifer compared with Milton's 
Satan. Indeed he is sometimes horrible rather than 
terrible, — falling into the fiidrirbv instead of the dsmv of 
Longinus ; ^ in other words, many of his images excite 
bodily disgust, and not moral fear. But here, as in other 
cases, you may perceive that the faults of great authors 
are generally excellencies carried to an excess. 
1 De Subl. I ix. 
Lecture X. 281 
Born in London, 1608. — Died, 1674. 
If we divide the period from the accession of Elizabeth 
to the Protectorate of Cromwell into two unequal portions, 
the first ending with the death of James I. the other com- 
prehending the reign of Charles and the brief glories of the 
Republic, we are forcibly struck with a difference in the 
character of the illustrious actors, by whom each period is 
rendered severally memorable. Or rather, the difference in 
the characters of the great men in each period, leads us to 
make this division. Eminent as the intellectual powers 
were that were displayed in both ; yet in the number of 
great men, in the various sorts of excellence, and not merely 
in the variety but almost diversity of talents united in the 
same individual, the age of Charles falls short of its pre- 
decessor ; and the stars of the ParUament, keen as their 
radiance was, in fulness and richness of lustre, yield to the 
constellation at the court of Elizabeth ; — which can only be 
paralleled by Greece in her brightest moment, when the 
titles of the poet, the philosopher, the historian, the states- 
man and the general not seldom formed a garland round the 
same head, as in the instances of our Sidneys and Raleighs. 
But then, on the other hand, there was a vehemence of 
will, an enthusiasm of principle, a depth and an earnestness 
of spirit, which the charms of individual fame and personal 
aggrandisement could not pacify, — an aspiration after 
reality, permanence, and general good, — in short, a moral 
grandeur in the latter period, with which the low intrigues, 
Machiavellic maxims, and selfish and servile ambition of 
the former, stand in painful contrast. 
The causes of this it belongs not to the present occasion 
to detail at length ; but a mere allusion to the quick 
succession of revolutions in religion, breeding a political 
indifference in the mass of men to religion itself, the 
enormous increase of the royal power in consequence of the 
humiliation of the nobility and the clergy — the transference 
of the papal authority to the crown, — the unfixed state of 
Elizabeth's own opinions, whose inclinations were as 
popish as her interests were protestant — the controversial 
extravagance and practical imbecility of her successor — 
282 Course of Lectures 
will help to explain the former period ; and the persecu- 
tions that had given a life-and-soul-interest to the disputes 
so imprudently fostered by James, — the ardour of a 
conscious increase of power in the Commons, and the 
greater austerity of manners and maxims, the natural 
product and most formidable weapon of religious dis- 
putation, not merely in conjunction, but in closest com- 
bination, with newly awakened political and republican 
zeal, these perhaps account for the character of the latter 
In the close of the former period, and during the bloom 
of the latter, the poet Milton was educated and formed ; 
and he survived the latter, and all the fond hopes and 
aspirations which had been its life ; and so in evil days, 
standing as the representative of the combined excellence 
of both periods, he produced the Paradise Lost as by an 
after-throe of nature. " There are some persons," (ob- 
serves a divine, a contemporary of Milton's) " of whom the 
grace of God takes early hold, and the good spirit inhabiting 
them, carries them on in an even constancy through 
innocence into virtue, their Christianity bearing equal date 
with their manhood, and reason and religion, like warp and 
woof, running together, make up one web of a wise and 
exemplary life. This (he adds) is a most happy case, 
wherever it happens ; for, besides that there is no sweeter 
or more lovely thing on earth than the early buds of piety, 
which drew from our Saviour signal affection to the beloved 
disciple, it is better to have no wound than to experience 
the most sovereign balsam, which, if it work a cure, yet 
usually leaves a scar behind." Although it was and is my 
intention to defer the consideration of Milton's own 
character to the conclusion of this Lecture, yet I could not 
prevail on myself to approach the Paradise Lost without 
impressing on your minds the conditions under which such 
a work was in fact producible at all, the original genius 
having been assumed as the immediate agent and efficient 
cause ; and these conditions I find in the character of the 
times and in his own character. The age in which the 
foundations of his mind were laid, was congenial to it as 
one golden aera of profound erudition and individual genius ; 
— that in which the superstructure was carried up, was no 
less favourable to it by a sternness of discipline and a show 
of self-control, highly flattering to the imaginative dignity 
Lecture X. 283 
of an heir of fame, and which won Milton over from the 
dear-loved delights of academic groves and cathedral 
aisles to the anti-prelatic party. It acted on him, too, no 
doubt, and modified his studies by a characteristic con- 
troversial spirit, (his presentation of God is tinted with it) — 
a spirit not less busy indeed in political than in theological 
and ecclesiastical dispute, but carrying on the former 
almost always, more or less, in the guise of the latter. And 
so far as Pope's censure ^ of our poet, — that he makes God 
the Father a school divine — is just, we must attribute it to 
the character of his age, from which the men of genius, who 
escaped, escaped by a worse disease, the licentious in- 
difference of a Frenchified court. 
Such was the nidus or soil, which constituted, in the 
strict sense of the word, the circumstances of Milton's mind. 
In his mind itself there were purity and piety absolute ; 
an imagination to which neither the past nor the present 
were interesting, except as far as they called forth and 
enlivened the great ideal, in which and for which he hved ; 
a keen love of truth, which, after many weary pursuits, 
found a harbour in a sublime listening to the still voice in 
his own spirit, and as keen a love of his country, which, 
after a disappointment still more depressive, expanded and 
soared into a love of man as a probationer of immortality. 
These were, these alone could be, the conditions under 
which such a work as the Paradise Lost could be con- 
ceived and accomplished. By a life-long study Milton had 
known — 
What was of use to know, 
What best to say could say, to do had done. 
His actions to his words agreed, his words 
To his large heart gave utterance due, his heart 
Contain'd of good, wise, fair, the perfect shape ; 
and he left the imperishable total, as a bequest to the ages 
coming, in the Paradise Lost.^ 
Difficult as I shall find it to turn over these leaves with- 
out catching some passage, which would tempt me to stop, 
I propose to consider, ist, the general plan and arrangement 
of the work ; — 2ndly, the subject with its difficulties and 
1 Table Talk, vol. ii. p. 264. 
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, rreat 
events " Ed. 
284 Course of Lectures 
advantages ; — 3rdly, the poet's object, the spirit in the 
letter, the Iv&xj/miov h ij.ii6(ji, the true school-divinity ; and 
lastly, the characteristic excellencies of the poem, in what 
they consist, and by what means they were produced. 
1. As to the plan and ordonnance of the Poem. 
Compare it with the Iliad, many of the books of which 
might change places without any injury to the thread of 
the story. Indeed, I doubt the original existence of the 
Iliad as one poem ; it seems more probable that it was put 
together about the time of the Pisistratidae. The Iliad — 
and, more or less, all epic poems, the subjects of which are 
taken from history — have no rounded conclusion ; they 
remain, after all, but single chapters from the volume of 
history, although they are ornamental chapters. Consider 
the exquisite simplicity of the Paradise Lost. It and it 
alone really possesses a beginning, a middle, and an end ; 
it has the totality of the poem as distinguished from the 
ah ovo birth and parentage, or straight line, of history. 
2. As to the subject. 
In Homer, the supposed importance of the subject, as 
the first effort of confederated Greece, is an after-thought 
of the critics ; and the interest, such as it is, derived from 
the events themselves, as distinguished from the manner of 
representing them, is very languid to aU but Greeks. It is 
a Greek poem. The superiority of the Paradise Lost is 
obvious in this respect, that the interest transcends the 
limits of a nation. But we do not generally dwell on this 
excellence of the Paradise Lost, because it seems attribut- 
able to Christianity itself ; — yet in fact the interest is 
wider than Christendom, and comprehends the Jewish and 
Mohammedan worlds ; — nay, still further, inasmuch as it 
represents the origin of evil, and the combat of evil and 
good, it contains matter of deep interest to all mankind, 
as forming the basis of aU religion, and the true occasion 
of all philosophy whatsoever. 
The Fall of man is the subject ; Satan is the cause ; 
man's blissful state the immediate object of his enmity and 
attack ; man is warned by an angel who gives him an 
account of all that was requisite to be known, to make the 
warning at once intelligible and awful, then the temptation 
ensues, and the Fall ; then the immediate sensible con- 
sequence ; then the consolation, wherein an angel presents 
a vision of the history of men with the ultimate triumph 
Lecture X. 285 
of the Redeemer. Nothing is touched in this vision but 
what is of general interest in rehgion ; any thing else 
would have been improper. 
The inferiority of Klopstock's Messiah is inexpressible. 
I admit the prerogative of poetic feeling, and poetic faith ; 
but I cannot suspend the judgment even for a moment. 
A poem may in one sense be a dream, but it must be a 
waking dream. In Milton you have a religious faith 
combined with the moral nature ; it is an efflux ; you go 
along with it. In Klopstock there is a wilfulness ; he 
makes things so and so. The feigned speeches and events 
in the Messiah shock us like falsehoods ; but nothing of 
that sort is felt in the Paradise Lost, in which no parti- 
culars, at least very few indeed, are touched which can 
come into collision or juxta-position with recorded matter. 
But notwithstanding the advantages in Milton's subject, 
there were concomitant insuperable difficulties, and Milton 
has exhibited marvellous skill in keeping most of them out 
of sight. High poetry is the translation of reality into the 
ideal under the predicament of succession of time only. 
The poet is an historian, upon condition of moral power 
being the only force in the universe. The very grandeur 
of his subject ministered a difficulty to Milton. The 
statement of a being of high intellect, warring against the 
supreme Being, seems to contradict the idea of a supreme 
Being. Milton precludes our feeling this, as much as 
possible, by keeping the peculiar attributes of divinity 
less in sight, making them to a certain extent allegorical 
only. Again poetry implies the language of excitement ; 
yet how to reconcile such language with God ! Hence 
Milton confines the poetic passion in God's speeches to the 
language of scripture ; and once only allows the passio 
vera, or quasi humana to appear, in the passage, where the 
Father contemplates his own likeness in the Son before the 
battle :— 
Go then, thou Mightiest, in thy Father's might. 
Ascend my chariot, guide the rapid wheels 
That shake Heaven's basis, bring forth all my war, 
My bow and thunder ; my almighty arms 
Gird on, and sword upon thy puissant thigh ; 
Pursue these sons of darkness, drive them out 
From all Heaven's bounds into the utter deep : 
There let them learn, as likes them, to despise 
God and Messiah his anointed king. 
B. VI. V. 710. 
286 Course of Lectures 
3. As to Milton's object : 
It was to justify the ways of God to man ! The con- 
troversial spirit observable in many parts of the poem, 
especially in God's speeches, is immediately attributable 
to the great controversy of that age, the origination of 
evil. The Arminians considered it a mere calamity. The 
Calvinists took away all human will. Milton asserted the 
will, but declared for the enslavement of the will out of an 
act of the will itself. There are three powers in us, which 
distinguish us from the beasts that perish ; — i, reason ; 
2, the power of viewing universal truth ; and 3, the power 
of contracting universal truth into particulars. Religion 
is the will in the reason, and love in the will. 
The character of Satan is pride and sensual indulgence, 
finding in self the sole motive of action. It is the character 
so often seen in little on the political stage. It exhibits all 
the restlessness, temerity, and cunning which have marked 
the mighty hunters of mankind from Nimrod to Napoleon. 
The common fascination of men is, that these great men, 
as they are called, must act from some great motive. 
Milton has carefully marked in his Satan the intense 
selfishness, the alcohol of egotism, which would rather 
reign in hell than serve in heaven. To place this lust of 
self in opposition to denial of self or duty, and to show 
what exertions it would make, and what pains endure to 
accomplish its end, is Milton's particular object in the 
character of Satan. But around this character he has 
thrown a singularity of daring, a grandeur of sufferance, and 
a ruined splendour, which constitute the very height 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 
Enghsh 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 
Lecture X. 287 
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 through- 
out 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 ; al- 
though 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 
288 Course of Lectures 
for example, Adam's vision of future events in the nth 
and I2th 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 sus- 
ceptible of domestic enjoyments he really was, notwith- 
standing 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 tran- 
scendant ideal. 
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 circuit 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 accom- 
plished 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 proho et 
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. 
Lecture X. 289 
sapienti viro haud indignum, et si poeina sit in suo genera 
perfectum, satis est. Quod si hoc aiictor idem altioribus 
numeris et carmini diviniori ipsum per se divinum super- 
addiderit, mehercule satis est, et plusquam satis. 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 dis- 
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 Hudi- 
bras ; 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 
^QO Course of Lectures 
a parallel, that it is ridiculously inappropriate, — an 
absurdity as glaring as that of the bigoted 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 re- 
latively to Milton. Indeed the fondness for ingrafting a 
good sense on the word ** ambition," is not a Christian 
impulse in general. 
Hayley, p. no. "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 case 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 Pres- 
byterians should usurp it to introduce a religious per- 
secution, — 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.i 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 centro oscuro 
Mi chiama a rimirar cotanta luce ? 
1 The reference seems generally to be to the 5th Prolusion of the ist Book. Hie 
arcui hac tela, quibus dim in niagno illo Superunt tumUltu princeps artnorum 
Michael confixit auctoretn proditionis ; hie fulmina humana mentis terror. 
* * * *. In nubibus armatas bcllo legiones instruatn, atque inde pro re nata 
auxiliares ad terram capias evocabo. *••*«. Hie mihi Califes, guos essi 
ferunt eletnentorum tuteiares, pritna ilia corpora tnisiebunt. Sect. 4, Ed. 
Lecture XI. 291 
Who from my dark abyss 
Calls me to gaze on this excess of light ? " 
The words in italics are an unfair translation. They 
ma}^ 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. 
lb. V. II. Che di fango opre festi — 
Forming thy works of dust (no, dirt. — ) 
lb. V. 17. Tessa pur stella a stella, 
V aggiunga e luna, e sole. — 
Let him unite above 
Star upon star, moon, sun. 
Let him weave star to star, 
Then join both moon arid sun ! 
lb. V. 21. Ch 'al fin con biasmo e scorno 
Vana I'opra sara, vano il sudore I 
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 ! 
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 v/hich proceeds from a muddled head. 
Asiatic and Greek Mythologies — Robinson Crusoe — Use of 
works of Imagination in Education. 
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 
1 From a common-place book of Mr. C.'s, communicated by Mr. J. M. Gutch. Ed, 
2 Partly from Mr. Green's note. Ed. 
292 Course of Lectures 
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 Samo- 
thracian 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 qida infimi, 
consisted of the old Titanic deities or powers of nature, 
under the obscure names of Axieros, Axiokersos, and 
Axiokersa, representing symbolically different modifica- 
tions of animal desire or material action, such as hunger, 
thirst, and fire, without consciousness ; that the higher 
triad, uUimi quia superior es, consisted of Jupiter (Pallas, 
or Apollo, or Bacchus, or Mercury, mystically cafled 
Cadmilos) and Venus, representing, as before, the vovg or 
reason, the Xoyoc or word or communicative power, and the 
ipug or love ; — that the Cadmilos or Mercury, the mani- 
Lecture XI. 293 
fested, 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 un- 
initiated, 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 remark- 
able system from patriarchal tradition, and to the connec- 
tion of the Cabeiri with the Kabbala. 
The Samothracian mysteries continued in celebrity till 
some time after the commencement of the Christian era.^ 
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 small- 
ness combined with great power ; and the broken associa- 
tions, 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 
1 In the reign of Tiberius, a.d. i8, Germanicns attempted to visit Samothrace ; — 
ilium in regressn sacra Samothracum viscre nitentejn obvii aquitoncs depulere. 
Tacit. Ann. II. c. 54. Ed. 
294 Course of Lectures 
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 qnasi-Fl3itonic 
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 intel- 
lectual 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, never- 
theless, 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 
Vol. L 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 over-ruling 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 man- 
kind are possessed by them. Robinson Crusoe was not 
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. 
Lecture XI. 295 
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 Shak- 
speare'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 thonohts, I took it away ; 
and wrapping all this in a piece of canvas, &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. III. 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 v/orked by Moses ; — in them the 
providence is miraculous, the miracles providential. 
Course of Lectures 
p. 126. The growing up of the com, as is hinted in my Journal, 
had, at first, some httle 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 un- 
inhabited 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 absurdit}^ of 
it. The susceptibility of pain and pleasure, of good and 
evil, constitutes a right in every creature endowed there- 
with 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 afiflict. 
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 dis- 
composure 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 
Lecture XL 297 
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 Nether- 
lands, 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 overheard. 
" 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 recognise 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 dramati- 
cally by the Evangelists. — and that the existence of a 
personal, intelligent, evil being, the counterpart and 
Course of Lectures 
antagonist of God, is in direct contradiction to the most 
express declarations of Holy Writ. " Shall there he 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 m37stery of the abyss of God. 
Vol. ii. p. 3- I tiave 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 appear- 
ances. 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 
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 mattei 
of fact realness, which forms the charm and the character 
of all his romances. The Robinson Crusoe is like the \dsion 
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. 
Lecture XI. 299 
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 
lind 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 representa- 
tive, 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 excel- 
lence ; he does not make basket work hke 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 
acknowledgment 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 
300 Course of Lectures 
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 conse- 
quently first admit of cultivation, that is to say, the 
memory and the imagination. ^ The comparing pov/er, 
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 improve- 
ment ; 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 distin- 
guishing 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 win, 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 
1 He (Sir W. Scott) " detested and despised the whole generation of modern 
children's books in which the attempt is made to convey accurate notions of scientific 
minutiae, delighting cordially on the other hand in those of the preceding age. which 
addressing themselves chiefly to the imagination obtain through it, as he believed, the 
best chance of stirring our graver faculties also." — Li/e of Scott. 
Lecture XII. 301 
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 imagi- 
nation, 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 decora- 
tions 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 pro- 
ducing 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 com- 
binations, 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 per- 
ception or observation, fancy or imagination, memory or 
Dreams — Apparitions — Alchemists — Personality of the Evil 
Being — Bodily Identity. 
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 
302 Course of Lectures 
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 judg- 
ment 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 sensa- 
tion 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 
Lecture XII. 303 
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 appari- 
tions — such I mean of the tribe as were not pure inven- 
tions. 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. The}^ 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 weather- 
cock 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 some- 
times 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 return- 
ing 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 in- 
scribed with the nitrate and muriate of cobalt,) — strange is 
304 Course of Lectures 
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 1 
To return, however, to apparitions, and by way of an 
amusing illustration of the nature and value of even con- 
temporary 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 Cortez, 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. lago, 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 chesnut 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 
fovir 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 ha\'e 
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 
Lecture XII. 305 
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, more- 
over, he had a particular sort of a kind of a look, 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 delight- 
ful, 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 
3o6 Course of Lectures 
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 
when 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. Some- 
times, it seems as if the alchemists wrote like the Pytha- 
goreans 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 N atur-philosophie, 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 
1 From Mr. Green's note. 
Lecture XII. 307 
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. 
Note.^ 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 asser- 
tion 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 sym- 
bolical representation, of a profound idea necessary as the 
prcB-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 ex- 
hibited by Benedict Spinosa. 
II. The Egyptian Magicians. 
This whole narrative is probably a relic of the old 
1 Written in a copy of Mr. Hillhouse's Hadad. Ed. 
Course of Lectures 
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 sub- 
stitute 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 
Fs (ich-keiten 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 ; — (^as7^r,vid^srai — s^7JX6iv octt avrov to da,i/j.6viov. 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 aU 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 con- 
ceded ; and this is aU that the recorded words of our 
Saviour absolutely require in order to receive an appro- 
priate sense ; but this is altogether different from making 
spirits to be devils, and devils self-conscious individuals. 
Lecture XII. 309 
Notes. ^ 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 it is 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 ro kTov of paganism is ^log 
in Christianity, so the t6 'rrovriphv is to be 6 Tovripog, — 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 apostasy through fear 
occasioned by it in a large number of converts. 
lb. 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 apostasy 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 parti- 
cular 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 pre- 
judice ? 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 
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, 
3IO Course of Lectures 
Note on a Passage in the Life of Henry, 
Earl of Morland. 20th June, 1827. 
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, visibihty, tangibihty, &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 simultan- 
eously. 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 sow est, thou sow est 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 
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 con- 
stitute an organ not only of motion and sense, but of con- 
sciousness. 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 
gravitate being, and the multeity must be a removable or 
at least suspensible accident. 
Lecture XIII. 311 
On Poesy or Art. 
Man communicates by articulation of sounds, and para- 
mountly by the memory in tne ear ; nature by the im- 
pression of bounds and surfaces on the eye, and through 
the eye it gives significance and appropriation, and thus 
the conditions of memory, or the capabihty of being re- 
membered, to sounds, smells, &c. Now, Art, used col- 
lectively 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 
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 alpha- 
betic letters. These aU 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 ol 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 aU 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 o! ject of its 
reflexion. So likewise, whilst it recalls the sights and 
sounds that had accompanied the occasions of the original 
312 Course of Lectures 
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 pre- 
paration 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 contra- 
distinguished. 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 aU results common to man and all other 
sentient creatures, and consequently confining myself to 
the effect produced by the congruity of the animal im- 
pression with the reflective powers of the mind ; so that not 
the thing presented, but that which is represented 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 thmg ; or, as I said before, 
the union and reconciliation of that which is nature with 
that which is exclusively human. It is the figured lan- 
guage 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 be just in pro- 
portion as it adequately conveys the thought, and rich 
in proportion to the variety of parts which it holds in 
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 
Lecture XIII. 313 
word 'poesy' as the generic or common term, and to dis- 
tinguish 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, co our, 
magnitude, proportion, or by sound, that is, silently or 
Well ! it may be said — but who has ever thought other- 
wise ! 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 imita- 
tion, 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 under- 
stand 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 viev/ 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 circum- 
stance 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 dis- 
gusted with the deception ; whilst, in respect to a work of 
genuine imitation, you begin with an acknowledged total 
314 Course of Lectures 
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 everything ? 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 con- 
crete, it is the unian 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 formalit}^ ; neither is it sub- 
servient 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 associa- 
tion, 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 con- 
trarily 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 pro- 
ductions, as in Cipriani's pictures ! Believe me, you must 
master the essence, the natura natiirans, which presupposes 
a bond between nature in the higher sense and the soul of 
The wisdom in nature is distinguished from that in man, 
by the co-instantaneit}^ 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 
Lecture XIII. 315 
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 ex- 
ternal 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 con- 
stituting 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 in- 
volution 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 him- 
self 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 
3i6 Course of Lectures 
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 our- 
selves ; 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 our- 
selves, even as within ourselves to learn is, according to 
Plato, only to recollect ; — the only effective answer to 
which, that I have been fortunate enough 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 dis- 
turbing 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, prophesies her being in 
the crystallized metal, or the inhaling plant. 
The charm, the indispensable requisite, of sculpture is 
1 See the Biographia Literaria of Mr. Coleridge, chap, xii., and Schclllng's 
Transcendental Idealism. 
Lecture XIII. 317 
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 as 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 con- 
veyed 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 may be 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 ; — ist, 
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 ; — Srdly, 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 pro- 
founder 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 
bigoted 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 
3i8 Course of Lectures 
models it chose its own subjects, and took an eagle's 
flight. And a new field seems opened for modern sculpture 
m the symbolical expression of the ends of life, as in 
Guy's monument, Chantrey's children in Worcester Cathe- 
dral, &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 in- 
clusively. 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 recaUs 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 suc- 
cession, 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 sus- 
pended, nor the sense be fatigued by the predominance of 
the centrifugal force. This unity in multeity I have else- 
where 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 ! 
Lecture XIV. 319 
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. 
On Style. 
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 char- 
acter and tendency of the Greek and Gothic languages there 
320 Course of Lectures 
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 pro- 
cesses 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 contradistinguished from that of the 
Greeks, let me cite a part of our famous Chaucer's char- 
acter of a parish priest as he should be. Can it ever be 
quoted too often ? 
A good man ther was of religioun 
That was a poure Parsone of a toun, 
But riche he WcLS of holy thought and werk ; 
He w£LS also a lerned man, a clerk, 
That Cristes gospel trewely wolde preche ; 
His parishens ^ devoutly wolde he teche ; 
Benigne he was, and wonder ^ diligent, 
And in adversite ful patient, 
And swiche ^ he was ypreved * often sithes ^ ; 
Ful loth were him to cursen for his tithes, 
But rather wolde he yeven ^ 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 ' left nought for no rain ne « thonder. 
In sikenesse and in mischief to visite 
The ferrest ^ in his parish moche and lite ^° 
Upon his fete, and in his hand a staf : 
This noble ensample to his shepe he yaf,'^ 
That first he wnrought, 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 ^^ his shepe accombred ^^ 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, 
1 Parishioners. " Wondrous. ' Such. 
* Proved. ^ Times. ^ Give or have given. 
7 Not. 8 Nor. 8 Farthest. 
10 Great and small. " Gave. ^ Left. 13 Encumbered 
Lecture XIV. 321 
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,^ 
Ne of his speche dangerous ne digne,'* 
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 ^ 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.* 
Such change as really took place in the style of our 
literature after Chaucer's time is with difficulty perceptible, 
on account of the death 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 in- 
tellect 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 
i Despiteous. - Proud. 3 Reprove. 4 Proloeue to Canterbury Tales. 
322 Course of Lectures 
so perspicuous in consequence of their logical structure, 
that they require no perusal 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 ever- 
lasting 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, v.-ithout 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. II. 
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 ade- 
Lecture XIV. 323 
quately ; exuberant in conception and conceit, dignified, 
hyperlatinistic, a quiet and sublime enthusiast ; yet a 
fantast, a humourist, a brain with a twist ; egotistic Uke 
Montaigne, yet with a feehng 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 exist- 
ence of an individual idiom in each, that makes the prin- 
cipal 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 
latter 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 etymologi- 
cal truth of expression in the writers after the Restora- 
tion, 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 republican- 
ism. 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, CoUyer, 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 understand- 
ings of all men ; it is an actual transcript of the collo- 
quialism 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 
324 Course of Lectures 
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 prin- 
ciples 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 calcu- 
lated at once to soothe ignorance and to flatter vanity. 
Lecture XIV. 325 
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 with- 
out injury to the meaning. Johnson's style has pleased 
many from the very fault of being perpetually translate- 
able ; 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 Shak- 
speare, 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 
ha\e 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 
Idea of the 
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 worthy 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. 
An Essay, preparatory to a series of disquisitions respecting the 
Egyptian, in connexion with the sacerdotal, theology, and in 
contrast with the mysteries of ancient Greece. Read at the Royal 
Society of Literature, May i8, 1825. 
The French savans who went to Egypt in the train of 
Buonaparte, Denon, Fourrier, and Dupuis, (it has been 
asserted,) triumphantly vindicated the chronology of 
Herodotus, on the authority of documents that cannot 
lie ; — namely the inscriptions and sculptures on those 
enormous masses of architecture, that might seem to have 
been built in the wish of rivalling the mountains, and at 
some unknown future to answer the same purpose, that 
is, to stand the gigantic tombstones of an elder world. It 
is decided, say the critics, whose words I have before cited, 
that the present division of the zodiac had been already 
arranged by the Egyptians fifteen thousand years before 
the Christian era, and according to an inscription 'which 
cannot lie* the temple of Esne is of eight thousand years 
Now, in the first place, among a people who had placed 
their national pride in their antiquity, I do not see the 
impossibility of an inscription lying ; and, secondly, as 
little can I see the improbability of a modern interpreter 
misunderstanding it ; and lastly, the incredibility of a 
Prometheus of ^schylus 327 
French infidel's partaking of both defects, is still less 
evident to my understanding. The inscriptions may be, 
and in some instances, very probably are, of later date 
than the temples themselves, — the offspring of vanity or 
priestly rivalry, or of certain astrological theories ; or the 
temples themselves may have been built in the place of 
former and ruder structures, of an earlier and ruder 
period, and not impossibly under a different scheme of 
hieroglyphic or significant characters ; and these may 
have been intentionally, or ignorantly, miscopied or mis- 
But more than all the preceding, — I cannot but persuade 
myself, that for a man of sound judgment and enlightened 
common sense — a man with whom the demonstrable laws 
of the human mind, and the rules generahzed from the 
great mass of facts respecting human nature, weigh more 
than any two or three detached documents or narrations, 
of whatever authority the narrator may be, and however 
difficult it may be to bring positive proofs against the 
antiquity of the documents — I cannot but persuade myself, 
I say, that for such a man, the relation preserved in the 
first book of the Pentateuch, — and which, in perfect 
accordance with all analogous experience, with all the 
facts of history, and all that the principles of political 
economy would lead us to anticipate, conveys to us the 
rapid progress in civilization and splendour from Abraham 
and Abimelech to Joseph and Pharaoh, — will be worth a 
whole library of such inferences. 
I am aware that it is almost universal to speak of the 
gross idolatry of Egypt ; nay, that arguments have been 
grounded on this assumption in proof of the divine origin 
of the Mosaic monotheism. But first, if by this we are to 
understand that the great doctrine of the one Supreme 
Being was first revealed to the Hebrew legislator, his own 
inspired writings supply abundant and direct confutation 
of the position. Of certain astrological superstitions, — 
of certain talismans connected with star-magic, — plates 
and images constructed in supposed harmony with the 
movements and influences of celestial bodies, — there 
doubtless exist hints, if not direct proofs, both in the 
Mosaic writings, and those next to these in antiquity. 
But of plain idolatry in Egypt, or the existence of a 
polytheistic religion, represented by various idols, each 
328 Idea of the 
signif5dng a several deity, I can find no decisive proof in 
the Pentateuch ; and when I collate these with the books 
of the prophets, and the other inspired writings subse- 
quent to the Mosaic, I cannot but regard the absence of 
any such proof in the latter, compared with the numerous 
and powerful assertions, or evident impHcations, of 
Egyptian idolatry in the former, both as an argument of 
incomparably greater value in support of the age and 
authenticity of the Pentateuch ; and as a strong pre- 
sumption in favour of the hypothesis on which I shall in 
part ground the theory which will pervade this series of 
disquisitions ; — namely, that the sacerdotal religion of 
Egypt had, during the interval from Abimelech to Moses, 
degenerated from the patriarchal monotheism into a pan- 
theism, cosmotheism, or worship of the world as God. 
The reason or pretext, assigned by the Hebrew legislator 
to Pharaoh for leading his countrymen into the wilderness 
to join with their brethren, the tribes who still sojourned 
in the nomadic state, namely, that their sacrifices would 
be an abomination to the Egyptians, may be urged as 
inconsistent with, nay, as confuting this hypothesis. But 
to this I reply, first, that the worship of the ox and cow was 
not, in and of itself, and necessarily, a contravention of the 
first commandment, though a very gross breach of the 
second ; — for it is most certain that the ten tribes wor- 
shipped the Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and 
Jacob, under the same or similar s3mibols : — secondly 
that the cow, or Isis, and the lo of the Greeks, truly repre- 
sented, in the first instance, the earth or productive nature, 
and afterwards the mundane religion grounded on the wor- 
ship of nature, or the to crai', as God. In after times, the ox 
or bull was added, representing the sun, or generative 
force of nature, according to the habit of male and female 
deities, which spread almost over the whole world, — the 
positive and negative forces in the science of superstition ; 
— for the pantheism of the sage necessarily engenders 
polytheism as the popular creed. But lastly, a very 
sufficient reason may, I think, be assigned for the choice 
of the ox or cow, as representing the very life of nature, 
by the first legislators of Egypt, and for the similar sacred 
character in the Brahmanic tribes of Hindostan. The 
progress from savagery to civilization is evidently first 
from the hunting to the pastoral state, a process which 
Prometheus of ^schylus 329 
even now is going on, within our own times, among the 
South American Indians in the vast tracts between Buenos 
Ayres and the Andes : but the second and the most im- 
portant step, is from the pastoral, or wandering, to the 
agricultural, or fixed, state. Now, if even for men born 
and reared under European civilization, the charms of a 
wandering hfe have been found so great a temptation, 
that few who have taken to it have been induced to return 
(see the confession in the preamble to the statute respecting 
the gipsies) ; ^ — how much greater must have been the 
danger of relapse in the first formation of fixed states with 
a condensed population ? And what stronger prevention 
could the ingenuity of the priestly kings — (for the priestly 
is ever the first form of government) — devise, than to 
have made the ox or cow the representatives of the divine 
principle in the world, and, as such, an object of adoration, 
the wilful destruction of which was sacrilege ? — For this 
rendered a return to the pastoral state impossible ; in 
which the flesh of these animals and the milk formed 
almost the exclusive food of mankind ; while, in the 
meantime, by once compelling and habituating men to the 
use of a vegetable diet, it enforced the laborious cultivation 
of the soil, and both produced and permitted a vast and 
condensed population. In the process and continued 
sub-divisions of polytheism, this great sacred Word, — 
for so the consecrated animals were called, }spoi Xoyoi, — 
became multiplied, tiU almost every power and supposed 
attribute of nature had its symbol in some consecrated 
animal from the beetle to the hawk. Wherever the powers 
of nature had found a cycle for themselves, in which the 
powers still produced the same phenomenon during a given 
period, whether in the motions of the heavenly orbs, or in 
the smallest living organic body, there the Egyptian sages 
predicated life and mind. Time, cyclical time, was their 
abstraction of the deity, and their holidays were their gods. 
The diversity between theism and pantheism may be 
most simply and generally expressed in the following 
formula, in which the material universe is expressed by 
W, and the deity by G. 
1 The Act meant is probably the 5. Eliz. c. 20, enforcing the two previous Acts of 
Henry VIII. and Philip and Mary, and reciting that natural born Englishmen had 
' become of the fellowship of the said vagabonds, by transforming or disguising them* 
selves in their apparel,' &c. — Ed. 
330 Idea of the 
or the World without God is an impossible conception. 
This position is common to theist and pantheist. But 
the pantheist adds the converse — 
G-\V = 0; 
for which the theist substitutes — 
G-W = G; 
or that — 
G = G, anterior and irrelative to the existence of the 
world, is equal to G + W.^ 
Before the mountains were, Thou art. — I am not about to 
lead the society beyond the bounds of my subject into 
divinity or theology in the professional sense. But with- 
out a precise definition of pantheism, without a clear 
insight into the essential distinction between it and the 
theism of the Scriptures, it appears to me impossible to 
understand either the import or the history of the poly- 
theism of the great historical nations. I beg leave, there- 
fore, to repeat, and to carry on my former position, that 
the religion of Egypt, at the time of the Exodus of the 
Hebrews, was a pantheism, on the point of passing into 
that polytheism, of which it afterwards afforded a specimen, 
gross and distasteful even to polytheists themselves of 
other nations. 
The objects which, on my appointment as Royal 
Associate of the Royal Society of Literature, I proposed to 
myself were, ist. The elucidation of the purpose of the 
Greek drama, and the relations in which it stood to the 
mysteries on the one hand, and to the state or sacerdotal 
religion on the other : — 2nd. The connection of the Greek 
tragic poets with philosophy as the peculiar offspring of 
Greek genius : — 3rd. The connection of the Homeric and 
cyclical poets with the popular religion of the Greeks : and, 
lastly from all these, — namely, the mysteries, the sacer- 
dotal religion, their philosophy before and after Socrates, 
the stage, the Homeric poetry and the legendary belief of 
the people, and from the sources and productive causes in 
the derivation and confluence of the tribes that finally 
shaped themselves into a nation of Greeks — to give a juster 
1 Mr. Coleridge was in the constant habit of expres>ing himself on paper by the 
algebraic symbols. They have an uncouth look in the text of an ordinary essay, and I 
have sometimes ventured to render them by the equivalent words. But most of the 
readers of these volumes will know that - means less by, or, without; + nro^-e by, or. ifi 
addition to; = equal to, or, the same as. — E,i. 
Prometheus of ^schylus 331 
and more distinct view of this singular people, and of the 
place which they occupied in the history of the world, and 
the great scheme of divine providence, than I have hitherto 
seen, — or rather let me say, than it appears to me possible 
to give by any other process. 
The present Essay, however, I devote to the purpose of 
removing, or at least invalidating, one objection that I may 
reasonably anticipate, and which may be conveyed in the 
following question : — What proof have you of the fact of 
any connection between the Greek drama, and either the 
mysteries, or the philosophy, of Greece ? What proof that 
it was the office of the tragic poet, under a disguise of the 
sacerdotal religion, mixed with the legendary or popular 
belief, to reveal as much of the mysteries interpreted by 
philosophy, as would counteract the demoralizing effects 
of the state religion, without compromising the tranquillity 
of the state itself, or weakening that paramount reverence, 
without which a republic, (such, I mean, as the republics of 
ancient Greece were) could not exist ? 
I know no better way in which I can reply to this objec- 
tion, than by giving, as my proof and instance, the Pro- 
metheus of iEschylus, accompanied with an exposition of 
what I believe to be the intention of the poet, and the 
mythic import of the work ; of which it may be truly said, 
that it is more properly tragedy itself in the plenitude of the 
idea, than a particular tragic poem ; and as a preface to 
this exposition, and for the twin purpose of rendering it 
intelligible, and of explaining its connection with the whole 
scheme of my Essays, I entreat permission to insert a 
quotation from a work of my own, which has indeed been in 
print for many years, but which few of my auditors will 
probably have heard of, and still fewer, if any, have read. 
" As the representative of the youth and approaching 
manhood of the human intellect we have ancient Greece, 
from Orpheus, Linus, Musaeus, and the other mythological 
bards, or, perhaps, the brotherhoods impersonated under 
those names, to the time when the republics lost their 
independence, and their learned men sank into copyists of, 
and commentators on, the works of their forefathers. That 
we include these as educated under a distinct providential, 
though not miraculous, dispensation, will surprise no one, 
who reflects, that in whatever has a permanent operation 
on the destinies and intellectual condition of mankind at 
332 Idea of the 
large, — that in all which has been manifestly employed as 
a co-agent in the mightiest revolution of the moral world, 
the propagation of the Gospel, and in the intellectual pro- 
gress of mankind in the restoration of philosophy, science, 
and the ingenuous arts — it were irreligion not to acknow- 
ledge the hand of divine providence. The periods, too, 
join on to each other. The earliest Greeks took up the 
religious and lyrical poetry of the Hebrews ; and the 
schools of the prophets were, however partially and imper- 
fectly, represented by the mysteries derived through the 
corrupt channel of the Phoenicians ! With these secret 
schools of physiological theology, the mythical poets were 
doubtless in connexion, and it was these schools which pre- 
vented polytheism from producing all its natural barbariz- 
ing effects. The mysteries and the mythical hymns and 
paeans shaped themselves gradually into epic poetry and 
history on the one hand, and into the ethical tragedy and 
philosophy on the other. Under their protection, and that 
of a youthful liberty, secretly controlled by a species of 
internal theocracy, the sciences, and the sterner kinds of 
the fine arts, that is, architecture and statuary, grew up 
together, followed, indeed, by painting, but a statuesque, 
and austerely idealized, painting, which did not degenerate 
into mere copies of the sense, till the process for which 
Greece existed had been completed." ^ 
The Greeks alone brought forth philosophy in the proper 
and contra-distinguishable sense of the term, which we may 
compare to the coronation medal with its symbolic char- 
acters, as contrasted with the coins, issued under the same 
sovereign, current in the market. In the primary sense, 
philosophy had for its aim and proper subject the rd 
mpi cLpyZ^v, de originihus rermn, as far as man proposes to 
discover the same in and by the pure reason alone. This, 
I say, was the offspring of Greece, and elsewhere adopted 
only. The pre-disposition appears in their earliest poetry. 
The first object (or subject matter) of Greek philosophiz- 
ing was in some measure philosophy itself ; — not, indeed, 
as a product, but as the producing power — the produc- 
tivity. Great minds turned inward on the fact of the 
diversity between man and beast ; a superiority of kind in 
addition to that of degree ; the latter, that is, the difference 
in degree comprehending the more enlarged sphere and the 
1 Friend, III. Essay 9. 
Prometheus of ^schylus 333 
multifold application of faculties common to man and 
brute animals ; — even this being in great measure a trans- 
fusion from the former, namely, from the superiority in 
kind ; — for only by its co-existence with reason, free-will, 
self-consciousness, the contra-distinguishing attributes of 
man, does the instinctive intelligence manifested in the ant, 
the dog, the elephant, &c. become human understanding. 
It is a truth with which HeracUtus, the senior, but yet 
contemporary, of ^schylus, appears, from the few genuine 
fragments of his writings that are yet extant, to have been 
deeply impressed, — that the mere understanding in man, 
considered as the power of adapting means to immediate 
purposes, differs, indeed, from the intelligence displayed by 
other animals, and not in degree only ; but yet does not 
differ by any excellence which it derives from itself, or by 
any inherent diversity, but solely in consequence of a 
combination with far higher powers of a diverse kind in 
one and the same subject. 
Long before the entire separation of metaphysics from 
poetry, that is, while yet poesy, in all its several species 
of verse, music, statuary, &c. continued mythic ; — while 
yet poetry remained the union of the sensuous and the 
philosophic mind ; — the efficient presence of the latter in 
the synthesis of the two, had manifested itself in the 
sublime mythus 'rrspi ysvsfficug Tou i/eD h di'^poj'roTg, concern- 
ing the genesis, or birth of the vou? or reason in man. 
This the most venerable, and perhaps the most ancient, of 
Grecian mythi, is a philosopheme, the very same in subject 
matter with the earliest record of the Hebrews, but most 
characteristically different in tone and conception ; — for 
the patriarchal religion, as the antithesis of pantheism, 
was necessarily personal ; and the doctrines of a faith, 
the first ground of which and the primary enunciation, 
is the eternal I am, must be in part historic and must 
assume the historic form. Hence the Hebrew record is 
a narrative, and the first instance of the fact is given as 
the origin of the fact. 
That a profound truth — a truth that is, indeed, the 
grand and indispensable condition of all moral responsi- 
bility — is involved in this characteristic of the sacred 
narrative, I am not alone persuaded, but distinctly aware. 
This, however, does not preclude us from seeing, nay, as 
an additional mark of the wisdom that inspired the sacred 
334 Idea of the 
historian, it rather supplies a motive to us, impels and 
authorizes us, to see, in the form of the vehicle of the truth, 
an accommodation to the then childhood of the human 
race. Under this impression we may, I trust, safely con- 
sider the narration, — introduced, as it is here introduced, 
for the purpose of explaining a mere work of the unaided 
mind of man by comparison, — as an sVog 'upoy'kvc^ixhv^ — 
and as such (apparently, I mean, not actually) a synthesis 
of poesy and philosophy, characteristic of the childhood 
of nations. 
In the Greek we see already the dawn of approaching 
manhood. The substance, the stuff, is philosophy ; the 
form only is poetry. The Prometheus is a philosophema 
ravrriycpixhv, — the tree of knowledge of good and evil, — 
an allegory, a cr^cra/^gy.aa, though the noblest and the 
most pregnant of its kind. 
The generation of the koD^, or pure reason in man. i. 
It was superadded or infused, a supra to mark that it 
was no mere evolution of the animal basis ; — that it could 
not have grown out of the other faculties of man, his life, 
sense, understanding, as the flower grows out of the stem, 
having pre-existed potentially in the seed : 2. The voZg, 
or fire, was 'stolen,' — to mark its hetero — or rather its 
a/^-geneity, that is, its diversity, its difference in kind, 
from the faculties which are common to man with the 
nobler animals : 3. And stolen 'from Heaven,' — to mark 
its superiority in kind, as well as its essential diversity : 
4. And it was a 'spark,' — to mark that it is not subject 
to any modifying reaction from that on which it immedi- 
ately acts ; that it suffers no change, and receives no 
accession, from the inferior, but multiplies itself by con- 
version, without being alloyed by, or amalgamated with, 
that which it potentiates, ennobles, and transmutes : 5. 
And lastly, (in order to imply the homogeneity of the 
donor and of the gift) it was stolen by a 'god,' and a god 
of the race before the dynasty of Jove, — Jove the binder 
of reluctant powers, the coercer and entrancer of free 
spirits under the fetters of shape, and mass, and passive 
mobility ; but likewise by a god of the same race and 
essence with Jove, and linked of yore in closest and 
friendhest intimacy with him. This, to mark the pre- 
existence, in order of thought, of the nous, as spiritual, 
both to the objects of sense, and to their products, formed 
Prometheus of ^Eschylus 335 
as it were, by the precipitation, or, if I may dare adopt 
the bold language of Leibnitz, by a coagulation of spirit.^ 
In other words this derivation of the spark from above, 
and from a god anterior to the Jovial dynasty — (that is, 
to the submersion of spirits in material forms), — was 
intended to mark the transcendency of the nous, the con- 
tra-distinctive faculty of man, as timeless, a-/^pov6v n, and, 
in this negative sense, eternal. It signified, I say, its 
superiority to, and its diversity from, all things that 
subsist in space and time, nay, even those which, though 
spaceless, yet partake of time, namely, souls or under- 
standings. For the soul, or understanding, if it be defined 
physiologically as the principle of sensibility, irritability, 
and growth, together with the functions of the organs, 
which are at once the representatives and the instruments 
of these, must be considered in genere, though not in 
degree or dignity, common to man and the inferior animals. 
It was the spirit, the nous, which man alone possessed. 
And I must be permitted to suggest that this notion 
deserves some respect, were it only that it can shew a 
semblance, at least, of sanction from a far higher authority. 
The Greeks agreed with the cosmogonies of the East 
in deriving all sensible forms from the indistinguishable. 
The latter we find designated as the rb aaopipov^ the 
vdup Tpoxoa/MKov, the p(;ao5 as, the essentially unintelligible, 
yet necessarily presumed, basis or sub-position of all 
positions. That it is, scientifically considered, an indis- 
pensable idea for the human mind, just as the mathe- 
matical point, &c. for the geometrician ; — of this the 
various systems of our geologists and cosmogonists, from 
Burnet to La Place, afford strong presumption. As an 
idea, it must be interpreted as a striving of the mind to 
distinguish being from existence, — or potential being, the 
ground of being containing the possibility of existence, 
from being actualized. In the language of the mysteries, 
it was the esurience, the -ro^os or desideratum, the unfuelled 
fire, the Ceres, the ever-seeking maternal goddess, the 
origin and interpretation of whose name is found in the 
Hebrew root signifying hunger, and thence capacity. It 
1 Schelling ascribes this expression, which I have not been able to find in the works 
of Leibnitz, to Hemsterhuis: " When Leibnitz," says he, "calls matter the sleep-state 
of the Monads, or when Hemsterhuis calls it curdled spirit,— den g^gronnenen Geist.— 
!n fact, matter is no other than spirit contemplated in the equilibrium of its activities." 
Transl. Transfc. Ideal, p. 190. S. C. 
33^ Idea of the 
was, in short, an effort to represent the universal ground 
of all differences distinct or opposite, but in relation to 
which all antithesis as well as all antitheta, existed only 
potentially. This was the container and withholder, 
(such is the primitive sense of the Hebrew word rendered 
darkness (Gen. i. 2)) out of which light, that is, the lux 
lucifica, as distinguished from hunen seu lux phcanomenalis , 
was produced ; — say, rather, that which, producing itself 
into light as the one pole or antagonist power, remained 
in the other pole as darkness, that is, gravity, or the 
principle of mass, or wholeness without distinction of 
And here the pecuHar, the philosophic, genius of Greece 
began its foetal throb. Here it individualized itself in 
contra-distinction from the Hebrew archology, on the 
one side, and from the Phoenician, on the other. The 
Phoenician confounded the indistinguishable with the 
absolute, the Alpha and Omega, the ineffable causa sui. 
It confounded, I say, the multeity below intellect, that is, 
unintelligible from defect of the subject, with the absolute 
identity above all intellect, that is, transcending com- 
prehension by the plenitude of its excellence. With the 
Phoenician sages the cosmogony was their theogony and 
vice ve-rsa. Hence, too, flowed their theurgic rites, their 
magic, their worship (cultus et apotheosis) of the plastic 
forces, chemical and vital, and these, or their notions 
respecting these, formed the hidden meaning, the soul, as 
it were, of which the popular and civil worship was the 
body with its drapery. 
The Hebrew wisdom imperatively asserts an unbeginning 
creative One, who neither became the world ; nor is the 
world eternally ; nor made the world out of himself by 
emanation, or evolution ; — but who willed it, and it was ! 
Ta u9ia lyUiro, xa/ iyivsro x6,oq, — and this chaos, the 
eternal will, by the spirit and the word, or express fiat, — 
again acting as the impregnant, distinctive, and ordonnant 
power, — enabled to become a world — xo<r,as7(rt5a/. So 
must it be when a religion, that shall preclude superstition 
on the one hand, and brute indifference on the other, is 
to be true for the meditative sage, yet intelligible, or at 
least apprehensible, for all but the fools in heart. 
The Greek philosopheme, preser\^ed for us in the iEschy- 
lean Prometheus, stands midway betwixt both, yet is 
Prometheus of ^schylus 337 
distinct in kind from either. With the Hebrew or purer 
Semitic, it assumes an X Y Z, — (I take these letters in their 
alegebraic appHcation) — an indeterminate Elohim, ante- 
cedent to the matter of the world, u>.>j a-Koaixog — no less 
than to the oXrj %ixoG[Mnfji,h7i. In this point, likewise, the 
Greek accorded with the Semitic, and differed from the 
Phoenician — that it held the antecedent X Y Z to be super- 
sensuous and divine. But on the other hand, it coincides 
with the Phoenician in considering this antecedent ground 
of corporeal matter, — ruv GMfMarov xa/ reD crw^ar/xoD, — not so 
properly the cause of the latter, as the occasion and the 
still continuing substance. Materia suhstat adhuc. The 
corporeal was supposed co-essential with the antecedent of 
its corporeity. Matter, as distinguished from body, was a 
non ens, a simple apparition, id quod mere videtiir ; but to 
body the elder physico-theology of the Greeks allowed a 
participation in entity. It was spiritus ipse, oppressus, 
dormiens, et diversis modis somnians. In short, body was 
the productive power suspended, and as it were, quenched 
in the product. This may be rendered plainer by reflecting, 
that, in the pure Semitic scheme there are four terms intro- 
duced in the solution of the problem, i. the beginning, self- 
sufficing, and immutable Creator ; 2. the antecedent night 
as the identity, or including germ, of the light and dark- 
ness, that is, gravity ; 3. the chaos ; and 4. the material 
world resulting from the powers communicated by the 
divine flat. In the Phoenician scheme there are in 
fact but two — a self-organizing chaos, and the omniform 
nature as the result. In the Greek scheme we have three 
terms, i. the hyle jXjj, which holds the place of the chaos, 
or the waters, in the true system ; 2. ra (Tw/^ara, answering 
to the Mosaic heaven and earth ; and 3. the Saturnian ;<^/'o^o/ 
uTipyjo'jioi, — which answer to the antecedent darkness of 
the Mosaic scheme, but to which the elder physico-theo- 
logists attributed a self-polarizing power — a natnra gemina 
qucB fit et facit, agit et patitur. In other words, the Elohim 
of the Greeks were still but a natnra deorum, to km, in which 
a vague plurality adhered ; or if any unity was imagined, 
it was not personal — not a unity of excellence, but simply 
an expression of the negative — that which was to pass, but 
whicli had not yet passed, into distinct form. 
All this will seem strange and obscure at first reading, — 
perhaps fantastic. But it will only seem so. Dry and 
338 Idea of the 
prolix, indeed, it is to me in the writing, full as much as it 
can be to others in the attempt to understand it. But I 
know that, once mastered, the idea will be the key to the 
whole cypher of the ^schylean mythology. The sum 
stated in the terms of philosophic logic is this : First, what 
Moses appropriated to the chaos itself : what Moses made 
passive and a materia subjecta et lucis et tenehrarum, the 
containing vpods/j.evov of the thesis and antithesis ; — this the 
Greek placed anterior to the chaos ; — the chaos itself being 
the struggle between the hyper chrojiia, the Idiat 'n-povo/j^oi, as 
the unevolved, unproduced, prothesis, of which ihia xa/ v6[j.og 
— (idea and law) — are the thesis and antithesis. (I use the 
word 'produced' in the mathematical sense, as a point 
elongating itself to a bi-polar line.) Secondly, what Moses 
establishes, not merely as a transcendant Monas, but as 
an individual 'E^dg likewise ; — this the Greek took as a 
harmony, dsoi d&dvaroi, to dim, as distinguished from o khg 
— or, to adopt the more expressive language of the Pytha- 
goreans and cabalists numen numerantis ; and these are to 
be contemplated as the identity. 
Now according to the Greek philosopheme or mythiis, in 
these, or in this identity, there arose a war, schism, or 
division, that is, a polarization into thesis and antithesis. 
In consequence of this schism in the rh dsTov, the thesis be- 
comes nomos, or law, and the antithesis becomes idea, but 
so that the nomos is nomos, because, and only because, the 
idea is idea : the nomos is not idea, only because the idea 
has not become nomos. And this not must be heedfully 
borne in mind through the whole interpretation of this 
most profound and pregnant philosopheme. The nomos 
is essentially idea, but existentially it is idea, suhstans, that 
is, id quod stat subtus, understanding sensu generalissimo. 
The idea, which now is no longer idea, has substantiated 
itself, become real as opposed to idea, and is henceforward, 
therefore, substans in substantiate. The first product of its 
energy is the thing itself : ipsa se posuit et jam facta est ens 
positum. Still, however, its productive energy is not 
exhausted in this product, but overflows, or is effluent, as 
the specific forces, properties, faculties, of the product. It 
reappears, in short, in the body, as the function of the body. 
As a sufficient illustration, though it cannot be offered as a 
perfect instance, take the followinp^. 
'In the world we see every where evidences of a unity. 
Prometheus of ^schylus 339 
which the component parts are so far from explaining, that 
they necessarily presuppose it as the cause and condition of 
their existing as those parts, or even of their existing at all. 
This antecedent unity, or cause and principle of each union, 
it has since the time of Bacon and Kepler, been customary 
to call a law. This crocus, for instance, or any flower the 
reader may have in sight or choose to bring before his 
fancy ; — that the root, stem, leaves, petals, &c. cohere as 
one plant, is owing to an antecedent power or principle in 
the seed, which existed before a single particle of the 
matters that constitute the size and visibility of the crocus 
had been attracted from the surrounding soil, air, and 
moisture. Shall we turn to the seed ? Here too the same 
necessity meets us, an antecedent unity (I speak not of the 
parent plant, but of an agency antecedent in order of 
operance, yet remaining present as the conservative and 
reproductive power,) must here too be supposed. Analyze 
the seed with the finest tools, and let the solar microscope 
come in aid of your senses, — what do you find ? — means 
and instruments, a wondrous fairy-tale of nature, maga- 
zines of food, stores of various sorts, pipes, spiracles, de- 
fences, — a house of many chambers, and the owner and 
inhabitant invisible.' ^ Now, compare a plant thus con- 
templated with an animal. In the former, the productive 
energy exhausts itself, and as it were, sleeps in the product 
or organismus — in its root, stem, foliage, blossoms, seed. 
Its balsams, gums, resins, aromata, and all other bases of its 
sensible qualities, are, it is v/ell known, mere excretions 
from the vegetable, eliminated, as lifeless, from the actual 
plant. The qualities are not its properties, but the pro- 
perties, or far rather, the dispersion and volatilization of 
these extruded and rejected bases. But in the animal it is 
otherwise. Here the antecedent unity — the productive 
and self-realizing idea — strives, with partial success to re- 
emancipate itself from its product, and seeks once again to 
become idea : vainly indeed : for in order to this, it must 
be retrogressive, and it hath subjected itself to the fates, 
the evolvers of the endless thread — to the stern necessity 
of progression. Idea itself it cannot become, but it may in 
long and graduated process, become an image, an ana- 
logon, an anti-type of idea. And this s'/dcoXov may ap- 
proximate to a perfect likeness. Quod est simile, nequit 
1 Aids to Reflection. Moral and Religious Aphorisms. Aphorism VI. £d. 
340 Idea of the 
esse idem. Thus, in the lower animals, we see this process 
of emancipation commence with the intermediate link, or 
that which forms the transition from properties to faculties, 
namely, with sensation. Then the faculties of sense, 
locomotion, construction, as, for instance, webs, hives, 
nests, &c. Then the functions ; as of instinct, memory, 
fancy, instinctive intelligence, or understanding, as it exists 
in the most intelligent animals. Thus the idea (hence- 
forward no more idea, but irrecoverable by its own fatal 
act) commences the process of its own transmutation, as 
substans in suhstantiato , as the enteleche, or the vis for- 
matrix, and it finishes the process as substans e suhstantiato, 
that is, as the understanding. 
If, for the purpose of elucidating this process, I might be 
allowed to imitate the symbolic language of the algebraists, 
and thus to regard the successive steps of the process as so 
many powers and dignities of the nomos or law, the scheme 
would be represented thus : — 
Nomos^ = Product : N^ = Property : N^ = Faculty : 
N^ = Function : N-'^ = Understanding ; — 
which is, indeed, in one sense, itself a nomos, inasmuch as it 
is the index of the nomos, as well as its highest function ; 
but, like the hand of a watch, it is likewise a nomizomenon. 
It is a verb, but still a verb passive. 
On the other hand, idea is so far co-essential with nomos, 
that by its co-existence — (not confluence) — with the nomos 
sv vo,u.i^ofMsvoig (with the organismus and its faculties and func- 
tions in the man,) it becomes itself a nomos. But, observe, 
a nomos auto nomos, or containing its law in itself likewise ; 
— even as the nomos produces for its hi'^^hest product the 
understanding, so the idea, in its opposition and, of course, 
its correspondence to the nomos, begets in itself an analogon 
to product ; and this is self-consciousness. But as the 
product can never become idea, so neither can the idea (if 
it is to remain idea) become or generate a distinct product. 
This analogon of product is to be itself ; but were it indeed 
and substantially a product, it would cease to be self. It 
would be an object for a subject, not (as it is and must be) 
an object that is its own subject, and vice versa ; a concep- 
tion which, if the uncombining and infusile genius of our 
language allowed it, might be expressed by the term sub- 
Prometheus of ^schylus 341 
ject-object. Now, idea, taken in indissoluble connection 
with this analogon of product is mind, that which knows 
itself, and the existence of which may be inferred, but 
cannot appear or become a phenomenon. 
By the benignity of Providence, the truths of most im- 
portance in themselves, and which it most concerns us to 
know, are familiar to us, even from childhood. Well for us 
if we do not abuse this privilege, and mistake the famili- 
arity of words which convey these truths, for a clear under- 
standing of the truths themselves ! If the preceding dis- 
quisition, with all its subtlety and all its obscurity, should 
answer no other purpose, it will still have been neither 
purposeless, nor devoid of utility, should it only lead us to 
sympathize with the strivings of the human intellect, 
awakened to the infinite importance of the inward oracle 
yvudi ffsavro^ — and almost instinctively shaping its course 
of search in conformity with the Platonic intimation : — 
v^i/y^c (pliffiv d^icijg Xoyov y^aravorjGrn o'in dvvarov fivai, a\'fj 
TTjg Tou oXov <pu6eu; ; but be this as it may, the ground- 
work of the iEschylean mythus is laid in the definition of 
idea and law, as correlatives that mutually interpret each 
the other ; — an idea, with the adequate power of realizing 
itself being a law, and a law considered abstractedly from, 
or in the absence of, the power of manifesting itself in its 
appropriate product being an idea. Whether this be true 
philosophy, is not the question. The school of Aristotle 
would, of course, deny, the Platonic affirm it ; for in this 
consists the difference of the two schools. Both acknow- 
ledge ideas as distinct from the mere generalizations from 
objects of sense : both would define an idea as an ens 
rationale, to which there can be no adequate correspondent 
in sensible experience. But, according to Aristotle, ideas 
are regulative only, and exist only as functions of the 
mind : — according to Plato, they are constitutive likewise, 
and one in essence with the power and life of nature ; — 
iv y.oyu) ^(H7i i]v^ xai i] ^oiTi rjv to (pojg tuv av&pojrruv. And 
this I cLSsert, was the philosophy of the mythic poets, 
who, like ^schylus, adapted the secret doctrines of the 
mysteries as the (not always safely disguised) antidote to 
the debasing influences of the religion of the state. 
But to return and conclude this preliminary explanation. 
We have only to substitute the term will, and the term con- 
stitutive power, for nomos or law, and the process is the 
342 Idea of the 
same. Permit me to represent the identity or prothesis by 
the letter Z and the thesis and antithesis by X and Y re- 
spectively. Then I say X by not being Y, but in con- i 
sequence of being the correlative opposite of Y, is will ; 
and Y, by not being X, but the correlative and opposite of ! 
X, is nature, — natura naturans, vC/j^og (p'jgixog. Hence we 
may see the necessity of contemplating the idea now as 
identical with the reason, and now as one with the will, and ' 
now as both in one, in which last case I shall, for conveni- 
ence sake, employ the term Nous, the rational will, the 
practical reason. 
We are now out of the holy jungle of transcendental 
metaphysics ; if indeed, the reader's patience shall have 
had strength and persistency enough to allow me to 
exclaim — 
Ivimus ambo 
Per densas umbras : at tenet umbra Deum. 
Not that I regard the foregoing as articles of faith, or as all 
true ; — I have implied the contrary by contrasting it with, 
at least, by shewing its disparateness from, the Mosaic, 
which, bona fide, I do regard as the truth. But I believe 
there is much, and profound, truth in it, supra captum 
'^t'koff6(puv, qui non agnoscunt divinum, ideoque nee naturam, 
nisi nomine, agnoscunt; sed res cunctas ex sensuali cor- 
poreo cogitant, quibus hac ex causa interiora clausa manent, 
et simul cum illis exteriora qucB proxima interioribus sunt ! 
And with no less confidence do I believe that the positions 
above given, true or false, are contained in the Promethean 
my thus. 
In this my thus, Jove is the impersonated representation 
or symbol of the nomos — Jupiter est quodcunque vides. He 
is the mejts agitans molem, but at the same time, the molem 
corpoream ponens et constituens. And so far the Greek 
philosopheme does not differ essentially from the cosmo- 
theism, or identification of God with the universe, in which 
consisted the first apostacy of mankind after the flood, 
when they combined to raise a temple to the heavens, and 
which is still the favored religion of the Chinese. Pro- 
metheus, in like manner, is the impersonated representative 
of Idea, or of the same power as Jove, but contemplated as 
independent and not immersed in the product, — as law 
minus the productive energy. As such it is next to be 
Prometheus of ^schylus 343 
seen what the several significances of each must or may be 
according to the philosophic conception ; and of which 
significances, therefore, should we find in the philosopheme 
a correspondent to each, we shall be entitled to assert that 
such are the meanings of the fable. And first of Jove : — 
Jove represents i. Nomos generally, as opposed to Idea or 
Nous : 2. Nomos archinomos, now as the father, now as the 
sovereign, and now as the includer and representative of 
the foV*/ o-jpduot -/.oGiMiKoi, or dii majores, who, had joined or 
come over to Jove in the first schism : 3. Nomos da/M^rjTrn — 
the subjugator of the spirits, of the id's at •zpovtfj.oi^ who, thus 
subjugated, became voi^oi ■j-7:o\'6!J.tot vTroff'xovdoi, Titanes pacati, 
dii minores, that is, the elements considered as powers re- 
duced to obedience under yet higher powers than them- 
selves : 4. Nomos croX/r/xog, law in the Pauline sense, vo/iog 
d/\.XoTf>i6vo/xog in antithesis to vo/u.og avTovo/MOf. 
It is in this sense that Jove's jealous, ever-quarrelsome, 
spouse represents the political sacerdotal cultus, the church, 
in short, of republican paganism ; — a church by law estab- 
lished for the mere purposes of the particular state, un- 
ennobled by the consciousness of instrumentality to higher 
purposes ; — at once unenlightened and unchecked by 
revelation. Most gratefully ought we to acknowledge 
that since the completion of our constitution in 1688, 
we may, with unflattering truth, elucidate the spirit and 
character of such a church by the contrast of the institution, 
to which England owes the larger portion of its superiority 
in that, in which alone superiority is an unmixed blessing, 
— the diffused cultivation of its inhabitants. But pre- 
viously to this period, I shall offend no enlightened man 
if I say without distinction of parties — intra muros pec- 
catur et extra ; — that the history of Christendom presents 
us with too many illustrations of this Junonian jealousy, 
this factious harassing of the sovereign power as soon as 
the latter betrayed any symptoms of a disposition to 
its true policy, namely, to privilege and perpetuate that 
which is best, — to tolerate the tolerable, — and to restrain 
none but those who would restrain all, and subjugate even 
344 Idea of the 
the state itself. But while truth extorts this confession, 
it, at the same time, requires that it should be accompanied 
by an avowal of the fact, that the spirit is a rehc of Pagan- 
ism ; and with a bitter smile would an iEschylus or a 
Plato in the shades, listen to a Gibbon or a Hume vaunting 
the mild and tolerant spirit of the state religions of ancient 
Greece or Rome. Here we have the sense of Jove's in- 
trigues with Europa, lo, &c. whom the god, in his own 
nature a general lover, had successively taken under his 
protection. And here, too, see the full appropriateness of Ij 
this part of the mythus, in which symbol fades away into 
allegory, but yet in reference to the working cause, as 
grounded in humanity, and always existing either actually 
or potentially, and thus never ceases wholly to be a symbol 
or tautegory. 
Prometheus represents, i. sensii generali, Idea '7rp6'JO[j/)g^ 
and in this sense he is a &io; 6/a,6f i;Xog, a fellow-tribesman 
both of the dii ma j ores, with Jove at their head, and of the 
Titans or dii pacati : 2. He represents Idea (pi\miMi, 
yaiMhiUrr^g ; and in this sense the former friend and 
counsellor of Jove or ISlous uranius : 3. Aoyog ^iXdvdpctj'Troc, 
the divine humanity, the humane God, who retained 
unseen, kept back, or (in the catachresis characteristic 
of the Phoenicio-Grecian mythology) stole, a portion or 
ignicida from the living spirit of law, which remained 
with the celestial gods unexpended h r^j voiulicoai. 
He gave that which, according to the whole analogy of 
things, should have existed either as pure divinity, the 
sole property and birthright of the Dii Joviales, the 
Uranions, or was conceded to inferior beings as a suhstans 
in substantiato. This spark divine Prometheus gave to 
an elect, a favored animal, not as a suhstans or understand- 
ing, commensurate with, and confined by, the constitution 
and conditions of this particular organism, but as aliquid 
superstans, liberum, non suhactiim, invictum, iynpacatum, 
fhYi vo!^6iMiv(iv. This gift, by which we are to understand 
reason theoretical and practical, was therefore a vofiog 
ahrovoiMo- — unapproachable and unmodiiiable by the 
animal basis — that is, by the pre-existing suhstans with 
its products, the animal organismus with its faculties and 
functions ; but yet endowed with the power of potentiat- 
ing, ennobling, and prescribing to, the substance ; and 
hence, therefore, a vo/j^^g vofMOTs/dvig, lex legisuada : 4. By 
Prometheus of ^schylus 345 
a transition, ordinary even in allegory, and appropriate 
to mythic symbol, but especially significant in the present 
case — the transition, I mean, from the giver to the gift — 
the giver, in very truth, being the gift, 'whence the soul 
receives reason ; and reason is her being,' says our Milton. 
Reason is from God, and God is reason, mens ipsissima. 
5. Prometheus represents. Nous h av^pdj-Trw — voO? 
aymi6Tric. Thus contemplated, the Nous is of necessity, 
powerless ; for aU power, that is, productivity, or pro- 
ductive energy, is in Law, that is, vofMog aWorpiovoiJjog : ^ 
still, however, the Idea in the Law, the numerus numerans 
become vof/^og, is the principle of the Law ; and if with 
Law dwells power, so with the knowledge or the Idea 
scientialis of the Law, dwells prophecy and foresight. A 
perfect astronomical time-piece in relation to the motions 
of the heavenly bodies, or the magnet in the mariner's 
compass in relation to the magnetism of the earth, is a 
sufficient illustration. 
6. Both voiMog and Idea (or Nous) are the verbum ; but, 
as in the former, it is verbum fiat 'the Word of the Lord,' 
— in the latter it must be the verbum fiet or, 'the Word 
of the Lord in the mouth of the prophet.' Pari argumento, 
as the knowledge is therefore not power, the power is 
not knowledge. The ^ofj^og, the ZsD^ Travroxpdrojp, seeks 
to learn, and, as it were, to wrest the secret, the hateful 
secret, of his own fate, namely, the transitoriness adherent 
to all antithesis ; for the identity or the absolute is alone 
eternal. This secret Jove would extort from the Noiis, 
or Prometheus, which is the sixth representment of 
7. Introduce but the least of real as opposed to ideal, 
the least speck of positive existence, even though it were 
but the mote in a sunbeam, into the sciential contemplamen 
or theorem, and it ceases to be science. Ratio desinit esse 
pura ratio et fit discursus, stat subter et fU u'Trohrixov : — 
non superstat. The Nous is bound to a rock, the im- 
movable firmness of which is indissolubly connected with 
its barrenness, its non-productivity. Were it productive 
it would be Nomos ; but it is Nous, because it is not 
1 I scarcely need say, that I use the word &WoTpi6vo/xos as a participle active, as 
exercising law on another, not as rectivLng law from another, though the latter is the 
classical force (I suppose) of the word. 
346 Idea of the 
8. Solitary d/3arw iv IpniJ^ia. Now I say that the Nous, 
notwithstanding its diversity from the Nomizomeni, is 
yet, relatively to their supposed original essence, rraat 
roTg voiMiZ^oixsMoig ravroyiv^g, of the same race or radix : 
though in another sense, namely, in relation to the -rav 
h?bv — the pantheistic Elohim, it is conceived anterior 
to the schism, and to the conquest and enthronization 
of Jove who succeeded. Hence the Prometheus of the 
great tragedian is khg 6-jyyivr,g. The kindred deities 
come to him, some to soothe, to condole ; others to give 
weak, yet friendly, counsels of submission ; others to 
tempt, or insult. The most prominent of the latter, and 
the most odious to the imprisoned and insulated Nous, 
is Hermes, the impersonation of interest with the entranc- 
ing and serpentine Caduceus, and, as interest or motives 
intervening between the reason and its immediate self- 
determinations, with the antipathies to the vo/j^og avrovo^u^og. 
The Hermxcs impersonates the eloquence of cupidity, the 
cajolement of power regnant ; and in a larger sense, 
custom, the irrational in language, p^iMara ra priroptxa, the 
fluent, from pzM — the rhetorical in opposition to A070/, ra 
vorird. But, primarily, the Hermes is the symbol of 
interest. He is the messenger, the inter-nuncio, in the 
low but expressive phrase, the go-between, to beguile 
or insult. And for the other visitors of Prometheus, the 
elementary powers, or spirits of the elements, Titanes 
pacati, hoi -jriovoixioi, vassal potentates, and their solicita- 
tions, the noblest interpretation will be given, if I repeat 
the lines of our great contemporary poet : — 
Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own ; 
Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind. 
And e'en with something of a mother's mind, 
And no unworthy aim, 
The homely nurse doth all she can 
To make her foster-child, her inmate, Man 
Forget the glories he hath known 
And that imperial palace whence he came : — 
which exquisite language is prefigured in coarser clay, 
indeed, and with a less lofty spirit, but yet excellently 
in their kind, and even more fortunately for the illustration 
and ornament of the present commentary, in the fifth, 
sixth, and seventh stanzas of Dr. Henry More's poem on 
the Pre-existence of the Soul : — 
Prometheus of ^schylus 347 
Thus groping after our own center's near 
And proper substance, we grew dark, contract, 
Swallow' d up of earthly life ! Ne what we were 
Of old, thro' ignorance can we detect. 
Like noble babe, by fate or friends' neglect 
Left to the care of sorry salvage wight. 
Grown up to manly years cannot conject 
His own true parentage, nor read aright 
What father him begot, what womb him brought to light. 
So we, as stranger infants elsewhere born. 
Cannot divine from what spring we did flow ; 
Ne dare these base alliances to scorn, 
Nor lift ourselves a whit from hence below ; 
Ne strive our parentage again to know, 
Ne dream we once of any other stock. 
Since foster' d upon Rhea's ^ knees we grow, 
In Satyrs' arms with many a mow and mock 
Oft danced ; and hairy Pan our cradle oft hath rock'd ! 
But Pan nor Rhea be our parentage ! 
We been the offspring of the all seeing Nous, &c. 
To express the supersensual character of the reason, its 
ibstraction from sensation, we find the Prometheus arsp-ryi, 
—while in the yearnings accompanied with the remorse 
ncident to, and only possible in consequence of the Nous 
Deing, the rational, self-conscious, and therefore responsible 
iVill, he is yvri diaKvato/j^syog. 
If to these contemplations we add the control and des- 
potism exercised on the free reason by Jupiter in his syrn- 
Dolical character, as v6,(/.og croX/r/xog ; — by custom (Hermes) ; 
Dy necessity, /5/a jcai xparhg ; — by the mechanic arts and 
DOwers, avyysvsTc T'jj ^ouj though they are, and which are 
;ymbolized in Hephaistos, — we shall see at once the pro- 
priety of the title, Prometheus, bia,'MU)Trig. 
9. Nature, or Zeus as the voiJ^og h i/o/x/^o/xbo/{, knows herself 
)nly, can only come to a knowledge of herself, in man I 
\nd even in man, only as man is supernatural, above nature, 
loetic. But this knowledge man refuses to communicate ; 
;hat is, the human understanding alone is at once self- 
conscious and conscious of nature. And this high pre- 
ogative it owes exclusively to its being an assessor of the 
1 Rhea (from pioiy/luo), that is, the earth as the transitory, the ever-flowing nature, 
he flux and sum oi phenomena, or objects of the outward sense, in contradistinction 
roiTi the earth as Vesta, as the firmamcntal law that sustains and disposes the apparent 
.rorld ! The Satyrs represent the sports and appetences of the sensuous nature 
<Ppbvt)y.a o-apK6s)—Pa.n, or the total life of the earth, the presence of all in each, the 
niversal organistrtus of bodies and bodily energy. 
348 Idea of the Prometheus of ^schylusji 
reason. Yet even the human understanding in its height|j| 
of place seeks vainly to appropriate the ideas of the pure:;? 
reason, which it can only represent by idola. Here, then, ; 
the Nous stands as Prometheus dvT/-TaXog,renuens — in hostileb i 
opposition to Jupiter Inquisitor. 
ID. Yet finally, against the obstacles and even under the 
fostering influences of the Nomos, roZ vo!J.ifj.ov, a son of Jove 
himself, but a descendant from lo, the mundane religion, as 
contra-distinguished from the sacerdotal cultus, or religion 
of the state, an Alcides Liberator will arise, and the Nous 
or divine principle in man, will be Prometheus iXsvhpdj/xsvog. 
Did my limits or time permit me to trace the persecu- 
tions, wanderings, and migrations of the lo, the mundane 
religion, through the whole map marked out by the tragic 
poet, the coincidences would bring the truth, the unarbit- 
rariness, of the preceding exposition as near to demonstra- 
tion as can rationally be required on a question of history, 
that must, for the greater part, be answered by combination 
of scattered facts. But this part of my subject, together 
with a particular exemplification of the light which my 
theory throws both on the sense and the beauty of numerous 
passages of this stupendous poem, I must reserve for a 
future communication. 
V. 15. (pdpccyyi : — 'in a coomb, or combe.* 
V. 17. 
i^iopid^eip yap Trarpbs \6yovs ^api. 
svupjd^siv, as the editor confesses, is a word introduced in- 
to the text against the authority of all editions and manu- 
scripts. I should prefer ggw^/a^g/t/, notwithstanding its being 
a d-TraE, Xeyo/j.evov. The iv — seems to my tact too free and easy 
a word ; — and yet our *to trifle with' appears the exact 
1 Written in Bp. Blomfield's editioD, aad communicated by Mr. Gary. £d. 
Mysteries in Greek Tragedy 349 
The Position, to tlie establishment of which Mr. Coleridge 
regards his essay as the Prolegomena, is : that the Greek 
Tragedy stood in th«^ same relation to the Mysteries, as 
the Epic Song, and the Fine Arts to the Temple Worship, 
or the Religion of the State ; that the proper function of 
the Tragic Poet was under the disguise of popular super- 
stitions, and using the popular Mythology as his stuff and 
drapery to communicate so much and no more of the 
doctrines preserved in the Mysteries as should counteract 
the demoralizing influence of the state religion, without 
disturbing the public tranquillity, or weakening the re- 
verence for the laws, or bringing into contempt the ancestral 
and local usages and traditions on which the patriotism of 
the citizens mainly rested, or that nationality in its in- 
tensest form which was little less than essential in the con- 
stitution of a Greek republic. To establish this position 
it was necessary to explain the nature of these secret 
doctrines, or at least the fundamental principles of the 
faith and philosophy of Elensis and Samothrace. The 
Samothracian M3/steries Mr. Coleridge supposes to have 
been of Phoenician origin, and both these and the Elensi- 
nian to have retained the religious belief of the more 
ancient inhabitants of the Peloponnesus, prior to their 
union with the Hellenes and the Egyptian colonies : that 
it comprised sundry relics and fragments of the Patri- 
archal Faith, the traditions historical and prophetic of the 
Noetic Family, though corrupted and depraved by their 
combination with the system of Pantheism, or the Worship 
of the Universe as God [Jupiter est quodcunque vides) which 
Mr. Coleridge contends to have been the first great Apostacy 
of the Ancient World. But a religion founded on Pan- 
theism, is of necessity a religion founded on philosophy, 
i.e. an attempt to determine the origin of nature by the 
unaided strength of the human intellect, however unsound 
and false that philosophy may have been. And of this 
the sacred books of the Indian Priests afford at once proof 
and instance. Again : the earlier the date of any philo- 
350 Mysteries in Greek Tragedy 
sophic scheme, the more subjective will it be found — in 
other words the earliest reasoners sought in their own 
minds the form, measure and substance of all other power. 
Abstracting from whatever was individual and accidental, 
from whatever distinguished one human mind from 
another, they fixed their attention exclusively on the char- 
acters which belong to all rational beings, and which there- 
fore they contemplated as mind itself, mind in its essence. 
And however averse a scholar of the present day may be to 
these first-fruits of speculative thought, as metaphysics, a 
knowledge of their contents and distinctive tenets is indis- 
pensable as history. At all events without this knov/ledge 
he will in vain attempt to understand the spirit and genius 
of the arts, institutions and governing minds of ancient 
Greece. The difficulty of comprehending any scheme of 
opinion is proportionate to its greater or lesser unlikeness 
to the principles and modes of reasoning in which our own 
minds have been formed. Where the difference is so great 
as almost to amount to contrariety, no clearness in the 
exhibition of the scheme will remove the sense, or rather, 
perhaps the sensation, of strangeness from the hearer's 
mind. Even beyond its utmost demerits it will appear 
obscure, unreal, visionary. This difficulty the author anti- 
cipates as an obstacle to the ready comprehension of the 
first principles of the eldest philosophy, and the esoteric 
doctrines of the Mysteries ; but to the necessity of over- 
coming this the only obstacle, the thoughtful inquirer must 
resign himself, as the condition under which alone he may 
expect to solve a series of problems the most interesting of 
all that the records of ancient history propose or suggest. 
The fundamental position of the Mysteries, Mr. Coleridge 
contends, consists in affirming that the productive powers 
or laws of nature are essentially the same with the active 
powers of the mind — in other words that mind, or Nous, 
under which term they combine the universal attributes of 
reason and will, is a principle of forms or patterns, endued 
with a tendency to manifest itself as such ; and that this 
mind or eternal essence exists in two modes of being. 
Namely, either the form and the productive power, which 
gives it outward and phoenomenal reality, are united in 
equal and adequate proportions, in which case it is what 
the eldest philosophers, and the moderns in imitation of 
them, call a law of nature : or the form remaining the same. 
Fragment of an Essay on Taste 351 
but with the productive power in unequal or inadequate 
proportions, whether the diminution be effected by the 
mind's own act or original determination not to put forth 
this inherent power, or whether the power have been re- 
pressed, and as it were driven inward by the violence of a 
superior force from without, — and in this case it was called 
by the most Ancient School " Intelligible Number," by a 
later School " Idea," or Mind — xar' s^oy^Tiv. To this position 
a second was added, namely, that the form could not put 
forth its productive or self -realizing power without ceasing 
at the same moment to exist for itself, — i.e. to exist, and 
know itself as existing. The formative power was as it 
were alienated from itself and absorbed in the product. It 
existed as an instinctive, essentially intelligential, but not 
self-knowing, power. It was law, Jupiter, or (when con- 
templated plurally) the Dii Majores. On the other hand, 
to possess its own being consciously, the form must remain 
single and only inwardly productive. To exist for itself, 
it must continue to exist by itself. It must be an idea ; 
but an idea in the primary sense of the term, the sense 
attached to it by the oldest Italian School and by Plato, — 
not as a synonyme of, but in contra-distinction from, 
image, conception or notion : as a true entity of all en- 
tities the most actual, of all essences the most essential. 
Now on this Antithesis of idea and law, that is of mind 
as an unproductive but self-knowing power, and of mind 
as a productive but unconscious power, the whole religion 
of pantheism as disclosed in the Mysteries turns, as on its 
axis, bi-polar. 
TASTE. 1810. 
The same arguments that decide the question, whether 
taste has any fixed principles, may probably lead to a 
determination of what those principles are. First then, 
what is taste in its metaphorical sense, or, which will be 
the easiest mode of arriving at the same solution, what 
is there in the primary sense of the word, which may give 
to its metaphorical meaning an import different from that 
of sight or hearing, on the one hand, and of touch or 
352 Fragment of an Essay on Taste 
smell on the other ? And this question seems the more 
natural, because in correct language we confine beauty, 
the main subject of taste, to objects of sight and combina- 
tions of sounds, and never, except sportively or by abuse 
'of words, speak of a beautiful flavour, or a beautiful 
Now the analysis of our senses in the commonest books 
of anthrof)ology has drawn our attention to the distinction 
between the perfectly organic, and the mixed senses ; — 
the first presenting objects, as distinct from the perception ; 
— the last as blending the perception with the sense of the 
object. Our eyes and ears — (I am not now considering 
what is or is not the case really, but only that of which we 
are regularly conscious as appearances,) our eyes most 
often appear to us perfect organs of the sentient principle, 
and wholly in action, and our hearing so much more so 
than the three other senses, and in all the ordinary exer- 
tions of that sense, perhaps, equally so with the sight, that 
all languages place them in one class, and express their 
different modifications by nearly the same metaphors. 
The three remaining senses appear in part passive, and 
combine with the perception of the outward object a 
distinct sense of our own life. Taste, therefore, as opposed 
to vision and sound, will teach us to expect in its meta- 
phorical use a certain reference of any given object to our 
own being, and not merely a distinct notion of the object 
as in itself, or in its independent properties. From the 
sense of touch, on the other hand, it is distinguishable by 
adding to this reference to our vital being some degree of 
enjoyment, or the contrary, — some perceptible impulse 
from pleasure or pain to complacency or dishke. The 
sense of smell, indeed, might perhaps have furnished a 
metaphor of the same import with that of taste ; but the 
latter was naturally chosen by the majority of civilized 
nations on account of the greater frequency, importance, 
and dignity of its employment or exertion in human nature. 
By taste, therefore, as applied to the fine arts, we must 
be supposed to mean an intellectual perception of any 
object blended with a distinct reference to our own sensi- 
bility of pain or pleasure, or, vice versa, a sense of enjoy- 
ment or dislike co-instantaneously combined with, and 
appearing to proceed from, some intellectual perception 
of the object ; — intellectual perception, I say ; for other- 
Fragment of an Essay on Taste 353 
wise it would be a definition of taste in its primary rather 
than in its metaphorical sense. Briefly, taste is a metaphor 
taken from one of our mixed senses, and applied to objects 
of the more purely organic senses, and of our moral sense, 
when we would imply the co-existence of immediate personal 
dislike or complacency. In this definition of taste, there- 
fore, is involved the definition of fine arts, namely, as 
being such the chief and discriminative purpose of which 
it is to gratify the taste, — that is, not merely to connect, 
but to combine and unite, a sense of immediate pleasure 
in ourselves, with the perception of external arrangement. 
The great question, therefore, whether taste in any one 
of the fine arts has any fixed principle or ideal, will find 
its solution in the ascertainment of two facts : — first, 
whether in every determination of the taste concerning 
any work of the fine arts, the individual does not, with 
or even against the approbation of his general judgment, 
involuntarily claim that all other minds ought to think 
and feel the same ; whether the common expressions, *I 
dare say I may be wrong, but that is my particular taste ;' 
— are uttered as an oft'ering of courtesy, as a sacrifice to 
the undoubted fact of our individual fallibility, or are 
spoken with perfect sincerity, not only of the reason but 
of the whole feeling, with the same entireness of mind and 
heart, with which we concede a right to every person to 
differ from another in his preference of bodily tastes and 
flavours. If we should find ourselves compelled to deny 
this, and to admit that, notwithstanding the consciousness 
of our liability to error, and in spite of all those many 
individual experiences which may have strengthened the 
consciousness, each man does at the moment so far legislate 
for aU men, as to believe of necessity that he is either right 
or wrong, and that if it be right for him, it is universally 
right, — we must then proceed to ascertain : — secondly, 
whether the source of these phenomena is at all to be 
found in those parts of our nature, in which each intellect 
is representative of all, — and whether wholly, or partially. 
No person of common reflection demands even in feeling, 
that what tastes pleasant to him ought to produce the 
same effect on all living beings ; but every man does and 
must expect and demand the universal acquiescence of all 
intelligent beings in every conviction of his understanding. 
* ♦ * ♦ ♦ 
354 Fragment of an Essay on Beauty 
BEAUTY. 1818. 
The only necessary, but this the absolutely necessary, 
pre-requisite to a full insight into the grounds of the 
beauty in the objects of sight, is — the directing of the 
attention to the action of those thoughts in our own mind 
which are not consciously distinguished. Every man 
may understand this, if he will but recall the state of his 
feelings in endeavouring to recollect a name, which he is 
quite sure that he remembers, though he cannot force 
it back into consciousness. This region of unconscious 
thoughts, oftentimes the more working the more indistinct 
they are, may, in reference to this subject, be conceived 
as forming an ascending scale from the most universal 
associations of motion with the functions and passions of 
hfe, — as when, on passing out of a crowded city into the 
fields on a day in June, we describe the grass and king- 
cups as nodding their heads and dancing in the breeze, — 
up to the half perceived, yet not fixable, resemblance of 
a form to some particular object of a diverse class, which 
resemblance we need only increase but a little, to destroy, 
or at least injure, its beauty-enhancing effect, and to make 
it a fantastic intrusion of the accidental and the arbitrary, 
and consequently a disturbance of the beautiful. This 
might be abundantly exemplified and illustrated from the 
paintings of Salvator Rosa. 
I am now using the term beauty in its most comprehen- 
sive sense, as including expression and artistic interest, — 
that is, I consider not only the living balance, but likewise 
all the accompaniments that even by disturbing are neces- 
sary to the renewal and continuance of the balance. And 
in this sense I proceed to show, that the beautiful in the 
object may be referred to two elements, — lines and colours ; 
the first belonging to the shapely [forma, formalis, for- 
mosus), and in this, to the law, and the reason ; and the 
second, to the lively, the free, the spontaneous, and the 
self-justifying. As to lines, the rectilineal are in themselves 
the lifeless, the determined ab extra, but still in immediate 
union with the cycloidal. which are expressive of function. 
The curve line is a modification of the force from without 
Fragment of an Essay on Beauty 355 
by the force from within, or the spontaneous. These 
are not arbitrary symbols, but the language of nature, 
universal and intuitive, by virtue of the law by which man 
is impelled to explain visible motions by imaginary causa- 
tive powers analogous to his own acts, as the Dryads, 
Hamadryads, Naiads, &c. 
The better way of applying these principles will be by a 
brief and rapid sketch of the history of the fine arts, — in 
which it will be found, that the beautiful in nature has been 
appropriated to the works of man, just in proportion as the 
state of the mind in the artists themselves approached to 
the subjective beauty. Determine what predominance in 
the minds of the men is preventive of the living balance of 
excited faculties, and you will discover the exact counter- 
part in the outward products. Egypt is an illustration 
of this. Shapeliness is intellect without freedom ; but 
colours are significant. The introduction of the arch is not 
less an epoch in the fine than in the useful arts. 
Order is beautiful arrangement without any purpose ad 
extra ; — therefore there is a beauty of order, or order may 
be contemplated exclusively as beauty. 
The form given in every empirical intuition, — the stuff, 
that is, the quality of the stuff, determines the agreeable : 
but when a thing excites us to receive it in such and such a 
mould, so that its exact correspondence to that mould is 
what occupies the mind, — this is taste or the sense of beauty. 
WTiether dishes full of painted wood or exquisite viands 
were laid out on a table in the same arrangement, would be 
indifferent to the taste, as in ladies patterns ; but surely the 
one is far more agreeable than the other. Hence observe 
the disinterestedness of all taste ; and hence also a sensual 
perfection with intellect is occasionally possible without 
moral feeling. So it may be in music and painting, but 
not in poetry. How far it is a real preference of the refined 
to the gross pleasures, is another question, upon the sup- 
position that pleasure, in some form or other, is that alone 
which determines men to the objects of the former ; — 
whether experience does not show that if the latter were 
equally in our power, occasioned no more trouble to enjoy, 
and caused no more exhaustion of the power of enjoying 
them by the enjoyment itself, we should in real practice 
prefer the grosser pleasure. It is not, therefore, any ex- 
cellence in the quality of the refined pleasures themselves. 
356 Notes on Chapman's Homer 
but the advantages and facilities in the means of enjoying 
them, that give them the pre-eminence. 
This is, of course, on the supposition of the absence of 
all moral feeling. Suppose its presence, and then there 
w'ill accrue an excellence even to the quality of the pleasures 
themselves ; not only, however, of the refined, but also of 
the grosser kinds, — inasmuch as a larger sweep of thoughts 
will be associated with each enjoyment, and with each 
thought will be associated a number of sensations ; and 
so, consequently, each pleasure will become more the 
pleasure of the whole being. This is one of the earthly 
rewards of our being what we ought to be, but which would 
be annihilated, if we attempted to be it for the sake of this 
increased enjoyment. Indeed it is a contradiction to 
suppose it. Yet this is the common argumentum in circitlo, 
in which the eudaemonists flee and pursue. 
Extract of a Letter sent with the Volume} 1807. 
Chapman I have sent in order that you might read the 
Odyssey ; the Iliad is fine, but less equal in the translation, 
as weU as less interesting in itself. What is stupidly said 
of Shakspeare, is really true and appropriate of Chapman ; 
mighty faults counterpoised by mighty beauties. Except- 
ing his quaint epithets which he affects to render literally 
from the Greek, a language above all others blest in the 
" happy marriage of sweet words," and which in our lan- 
guage are mere printer's compound epithets — such as 
quaffed divine ]oy-in-the-heart-of -man-infusing wine, (the 
undermarked is to be one word, because one sweet meUi- 
fiuous word expresses it in Homer) ; — excepting this, it 
has no look, no air, of a translation. It is as truly an 
original poem as the Faery Queene ; — it will give you 
smaU idea of Homer, though a far truer one than Pope's 
epigrams, or Cowper's cumbersome most anti-Homeric 
Miltonism. For Chapman writes and feels as a poet, — as 
Homer might have written had he Uved in England in the 
reign of Queen Elizabeth. In short, it is an exquisite poem, 
in spite of its frequent and perverse quaintnesses and harsh- 
1 Coaununicated through Mr. Wordsworth. £d. 
Notes on Chapman's Homer 357 
nesses, which are, however, amply repaid by aknost un- 
exampled sweetness and beauty of language, all over spirit 
and feeling. In the main it is an English heroic poem, the 
tale of which is borrowed from the Greek. The dedication 
to the Iliad is a noble copy of verses, especially those 
sublime lines beginning, — 
O ! 'tis wondrous much 
(Through nothing prisde) that the right vertuous touch 
Of a well written soule, to vertue moves. 
Nor haue we soules to purpose, if their loves 
Of fitting objects be not so inflam'd. 
How much then, were this kingdome's maine soul maim'd. 
To want this great infiamer of all powers 
That move in humane soules ! All realmes but yours, 
Are honor' d with him ; and hold blest that state 
That have his workes to reade and contemplate. 
In which, humanitie to her height is raisde ; 
Which all the world (yet, none enough) hath praisde. 
Seas, earth, and heaven, he did in verse comprize ; 
Out sung the Muses, and did equalise 
Their king Apollo ; being so farre from cause 
Of princes light thoughts, that their gravest lawes 
May finde stuffe to be fashioned by his lines. 
Through all the pompe of kingdomes still he shines 
And graceth all his gracers. Then let lie 
Your lutes, and viols, and more loftily 
Make the heroiques of your Homer sung, 
To drums and trumpets set his Angels tongue : 
And with the princely sports of haukes you use. 
Behold the kingly flight of his high Muse : 
And see how like the Phoenix she renues 
Her age, and starrie feathers in your sunne ; 
Thousands of yeares attending ; everie one 
Blowing the holy fire, and throwing in 
Their seasons, kingdomes, nations that have bin 
Subverted in them ; lawes, religions, all 
Ofierd to change, and greedie funerall ; 
Yet still your Homer lasting, living, raigning. — 
and likewise the ist, the nth, and last but one, of the pre- 
fatory sonnets to the Odyssey. Could I have foreseen any 
other speedy opportunity, I should have begged your 
acceptance of the volume in a somewhat handsomer coat ; 
but as it is, it will better represent the sender, — to quote 
from myself — 
A man disherited, in form and face. 
By nature and mishap, of outward grace. 
Chapman in his moral heroic verse, as in this dedication 
and the prefatory sonnets to his Odyssey, stands above 
358 Notes on Chapman's Homer 
Ben Jonson ; there is more dignity, more lustre, and equal 
Dedication Strength ; but not midway quite between him and 
toVrince°" the sonnets of Milton. I do not know whether I 
Henry. gj^.^ ]-^jj^ ^^le higher praise, in that he reminds me 
of Ben Jonson with a sense of his superior excellence, or 
that he brings Milton to memory notwithstanding his in- 
feriority. His moral poems are not quite out of books like 
Jonson's, nor yet do the sentiments so wholly grow up out 
of his own natural habit and grandeur of thought, as in 
Milton. The sentiments have been attracted to him by a 
natural afl&nity of his intellect, and so combined ; — but 
Jonson has taken them by individual and successive acts 
of choice. 
All this and the precedmg is well felt and vigorously, 
though harshly, expressed, respecting sublime poetry in 
genere ; but in reading Homer I look about me, 
D?Scatorie ^ud ask how does all this apply here. For surely 
Od ^^-^e • never was there plainer writing , there are a 
^^^^^' thousand charms of sun and moonbeam, ripple, 
and wave, and stormy billow, but all on the surface. Had 
Chapman read Proclus and Porphjnry ? — and did he really 
believe them, — or even that they believed themselves ? 
They felt the immense power of a Bible, a Shaster, a Koran. 
There was none in Greece or Rome, and they tried therefore 
by subtle allegorical accommodations to conjure the poem 
of Homer into the /SZ/SX/ov hoTapddorov of Greek faith. 
Chapman's identification of his fate with Homer's, and 
his complete forgetfulness of the distinction between Chris- 
tianity and idolatry, under the general feeling of 
DedStorie ^omc rcligiou, is very interesting. It is amusing 
to the to observe, how familiar Chapman's fancy has be- 
omachia°"'^" comc with Homcr, his life and its circumstances, 
though the very existence of any such individupJ, 
at least with regard to the Iliad and the Hymns, is more 
than problematic. N.B. The rude engraving in the page 
was designed by no vulgar hand. It is full of spirit and 
I am so dull, that neither in the original nor in any 
translation could I ever find any wit or wise purpose in 
^ , r ^ this poem. The whole humour seems to lie in the 
End of the t^i i- i • j. x 
Batrachomy- uamcs. Thc frogs aud mice are not frogs or mice, 
omachia. ^^^ mcu, and yet they do nothing that conveys 
any satire. In the Greek there is much beauty of language, 
Notes on Barclay's Argenis 359 
but the joke is very flat. This is always the catse in rude 
ages ; — their serious vein is inimitable, — their comic low 
and low indeed. The psychological cause is easily stated, 
and copiously exemplifiable. 
There are six hundred and sixteen pages in this volume, 
of which twenty-two are text ; and five hundred and 
ninety-four commentary and introductory matter. Yet 
when I recollect, that I have the whole works of Cicero, 
Livy, and Ouinctilian, with many others, — the whole 
works of each in a single volume, either thick quarto with 
thin paper and small yet distinct print, or thick octavo or 
duodecimo of the same character, and that they cost me 
in the proportion of a shilling to a guinea for the same 
quantity of worse matter in modern books, or editions, — 
I am a poor man, yet one whom (SiS/Jojv xT'/iszc^g Ik 
'TTuidccpiov diivog s^pdryjas -Trodog, feel the liveliest gratitude 
for the age, which produced such editions, and for the 
education, which by enabling me to understand and taste 
the Greek and Latin writers, has thus put it in my power 
to collect on my own shelves, for my actual use, almost all 
the best books in spite of my small income. Somewhat 
too I am indebted to the ostentation of expense among 
the rich, which has occasioned these cheap editions to 
become so disproportionately cheap. 
Heaven forbid that this work should not exist in its 
present form and language ! Yet I cannot avoid the wish 
that it had, during the reign of James I., been moulded 
into an heroic poem in English octave stanza, or epic 
blank verse ; — which, however, at that time had not been 
invented, and which, alas ! still remains the sole property 
of the inventor, as if the Muses had given him an unevad- 
able patent for it. Of dramatic blank verse we have many 
1 Communicaujd by the Rev. Dcrwent Coleridge. 
360 Notes on Barclay's Argenis 
and various specimens ; — for example, Shakspeare's as 
compared with Massinger's, both excellent in their kind : — 
of lyric, and of what may be called Orphic, or philosophic, 
blank verse, perfect models may be found in Wordsworth : 
of colloquial blank verse there are excellent, though not 
perfect, examples in Cowper ; — but of epic blank verse, 
since Milton, there is not one. 
It absolutely distresses me when I reflect that this work, 
admired as it has been by great men of all ages, and lately, 
I hear, by the poet Cowper, should be only not unknown 
to general readers. It has been translated into English 
two or three times — how, I know not, wretchedly, I doubt 
not. It affords matter for thought that the last transla- 
tion (or rather, in all probability, miserable and faithless 
abridgment of some former one) was given under another 
name. What a mournful proof of the incelebrity of this 
great and amazing work among both thepubhc and the 
people ! For as Wordsworth, the greater of the two great 
men of this age, — (at least, except Davy and him, I have 
known, read of, heard of, no others) — for as Wordsworth 
did me the honour of once observing to me, the people 
and the public are two distinct claisses, and, as things go, 
the former is Hkely to retain a better taste, the less it is 
acted on by the latter. Yet Telemachus is in every 
mouth, in every schoolboy's and schoolgirl's hand ! It 
is awful to say of a work, like the Argenis, the style 
and Latinity of which, judged (not according to classical 
pedantry, which pronounces every sentence right which 
can be found in any book prior to Boetius, however 
vicious the age, or affected the author, and every 
sentence wrong, however natural and beautiful, which 
has been of the author's own combination, — but) 
according to the universal logic of thought as modified 
by feeling, is equal to that of Tacitus in energy and 
genuine conciseness, and is as perspicuous as that of 
Livy, whilst it is free from the affectations, obscurities, 
and lust to surprise of the former, and seems a sort of 
antithesis to the slowness and prolixity of the latter ; — 
(this remark does not, however, impeach even the classi- 
cality of the language, which, when the freedom and 
originality, the easy motion and perfect command of the 
thoughts, are considered, is truly wonderful) : — of such 
a work it is awful to say, that it would have been well if 
Bishop Corbet 361 
it had been written in English or Italian verse ! Yet the 
event seems to justify the notion. Alas ! it is now too 
late. What modern work, even of the size of the Paradise 
Lost — much less of the Faery Queene — would be read 
in the present day, or even bought or be likely to be bought, 
unless it were an instructive work, as the phrase is, like 
Roscoe's quartos of Leo X., or entertaining like Boswell's 
three of Dr. Johnson's conversations ? It may be fairly 
objected — what work of surpassing merit has given the 
proof ? — Certainly, none. Yet still there are ominous 
facts, sufficient, I fear, to afford a certain prophecy of its 
reception, if such were produced. 
The justice of these remarks cannot be disputed, though some oi 
them are too figurative for sober criticism. 
Most genuine ! a figurative remark ! If this strange 
writer had any meaning, it must be : — Headly's criticism 
is just throughout, but conveyed in a style too figurative 
for prose composition. Chalmers's own remarks are 
wholly mistaken ; too silly for any criticism, drunk or 
sober, and in language too flat for any thing. In Daniel's 
Sonnets there is scarcely one good line ; while his Hymen's 
Triumph, of which Chalmers says not one word, exhibits 
a continued series of first-rate beauties in thought, passion, 
and imagery, and in language and metre is so faultless, 
that the style of that poem may without extravagance 
be declared to be imperishable English. 1820. 
I ALMOST wonder that the inimitable humour, and the rich 
sound and propulsive movement of the verse, have not 
rendered Corbet a popular poet. I am convinced that a 
reprint of his poems, with illustrative and chit-chat bio- 
graphical notes, and cuts by Cruikshank, would take with 
the pubhc uncommonly weU. September, 1823. 
362 Notes on Selden's Table Talk 
There is more weighty bullion sense in this book, than 
I ever found in the same number of pages of any uninspired 
Opinion and affection extremely differ. I may affect a woman 
best, but it does not follow I must think her the handsomest woman 
in the world. * * * Opinion is something wherein I go about 
to give reason why all the world should think as I think Affection 
is a thing wherein I look after the pleasing of myself. 
Good ! This is the true difference betwixt the beautiful 
and the agreeable, which Knight and the rest of that 
'TrXr^dog akov have SO beneficially confounded, meretricibus 
scilicet et Pliitoni. 
O what an insight the whole of this article gives into 
a wise man's heart, who has been compelled to act with 
the many, as one of the many ! It explains Sir Thomas 
More's zealous Romanism, &c. 
Excellent ! O ! to have been with Selden over his glass 
of wine, making every accident an outlet and a vehicle 
of wisdom ! 
The old poets had no other reason but this, their verse was sung 
to music ; otherwise it had been a senseless thing to have fettered 
up themselves. 
No man can know all things : even Selden here talks 
ignorantly. Verse is in itself a music, and the natural 
symbol of that union of passion with thought and pleasure, 
which constitutes the essence of all poetry, as contra- 
distinguished from science, and distinguished from history 
civil or natural. To Pope's Essay on Man, — in short, to 
whatever is mere metrical good sense and wit, the remark 
Verse proves nothing but the quantity of syllables ; they axe 
oot meant for logic. 
1 These remarks on Selden were communicated by Mr. Ciry. Ed. 
Notes on Tom Jones 363 
True ; they, that is, verses, are not logic ; but they 
are, or ought to be, the envoys and representatives of 
that vital passion, which is the practical cement of logic ; 
and without which logic must remain inert. 
Manners change from generation to generation, and with 
manners morals appear to change, — actually change with 
some, but appear to change with all but the abandoned. 
A young man of the present day who should act as Tom 
Jones is supposed to act at Upton, with Lady Bellaston, 
&c. would not be a Tom Jones ; and a Tom Jones of the 
present day, without perhaps being in the ground a better 
man, would have perished rather than submit to be kept 
by a harridan of fortune. Therefore this novel is, and, 
indeed, pretends to be, no exemplar of conduct. But, not- 
withstanding all this, I do loathe the cant which can 
recommend Pamela and Clarissa Harlowe as strictly moral, 
though they poison the imagination of the young with con- 
tinued doses of tinct. lyttcB, while Tom Jones is prohibited as 
loose. I do not speak of young women ; — but a young man 
whose heart or feelings can be injured, or even his passions 
excited, by aught in this novel, is already thoroughly 
corrupt. There is a cheerful, sun-shiny, breezy spirit that 
prevails everywhere, strongly contrasted with the close, 
hot, day-dreamy continuity of Richardson. Every indis- 
cretion, every immoral act, of Tom Jones, (and it must be 
remembered that he is in every one taken by surprise — his 
inward principles remaining firm — ) is so instantly punished 
by embarrassment and unanticipated evil consequences of 
his folly, that the reader's mind is not left for a moment to 
dwell or run riot on the criminal indulgence itself. In 
short, let the requisite allowance be made for the increased 
refinement of our manners, — and then I dare believe that 
no young man who consulted his heart and conscience only, 
without adverting to what the world would say — could 
rise from the perusal of Fielding's Tom Jones, Joseph 
Andrews, or Amelia, without feeling himself a better man ; 
— at least, without an intense conviction that he could not 
be guilty of a base act. 
1 Communicated by Mr. Gillman. Ed. 
364 Notes on Tom Jones 
If I want a servant or mechanic, I wish to know what he 
does : — but of a friend, I must know what he is. And in 
no writer is this momentous distinction so finely brought 
forward as by Fielding. We do not care what Blifil does ; — 
the deed, as separate from the agent, may be good or ill ; 
but Blifil is a villain ; — and we feel him to be so from the 
very moment he, the boy Blifil, restores Sophia's poor 
captive bird to its native and rightful liberty. 
Book xiv. ch. 8. 
Notwithstanding the sentiment of the Roman satirist, which 
denies the divinity of fortune ; and the opinion of Seneca to the 
same purpose ; Cicero, who was, I believe, a wiser man than either 
of them, expressly holds the contrary ; and certain it is there are 
some incidents in life so very strange and unaccountable, that it 
seems to require more than human skill and foresight in producing 
Surely Juvenal, Seneca, and Cicero, all meant the same 
thing, namely, that there was no chance, but instead of it 
providence, either human or divine. 
Book XV. ch. 9. 
The rupture with Lady Bellaston, 
Even in the most questionable part of Tom Jones, I 
cannot but think, after frequent reflection, that an addi- 
tional paragraph, more fully and forcibly unfolding Tom 
Jones's sense of self-degradation on the discovery of the 
true character of the relation in which he had stood to Lady 
Bellaston, and his awakened feeling of the dignity of manly 
chastity, would have removed in great measure any just 
objections, — at all events relatively to Fielding himself, 
and with regard to the state of manners in his time. 
Book xvi. ch. 5. 
That refined degree of Platonic affection which is absolutely 
detached from the flesh, and is indeed entirely and purely spiritual, 
is a gift confined to the female part of the creation ; many of whom 
I have heard declare (and doubtless with great truth) that they 
would, with the utmost readiness, resign a lover to a rival, when 
such resignation was proved to be necessary for the temporal 
interest of such lover. 
I firmly believe that there are men capable of such a 
sacrifice, and this, without pretending to, or even admiring 
or seeing any virtue in, this absolute detachment from the 
Notes on Tom Jones 365 
Book i. ch. 4. 
** Beyond this the country gradually rose into a ridge of wild 
mountains, the tops of which were above the clouds." 
As this is laid in Somersetshire, the clouds must have 
been unusually low. One would be more apt to think of 
Skiddaw or Ben Nevis, than of Quantock or Mendip Hills. 
Book xi. ch. I. 
" Nor can the Devil receive a guest more worthy of him, nor 
possibly more welcome to him than a slanderer." 
The very word Devil, Diabolus, means a slanderer. 
Book xii. ch. 12. 
" And here we will make a concession, which would not perhaps 
have been expected from us ; That no limited form of government 
is capable of rising to the same degree of perfection, or of pro- 
ducing the same benefits to society with this. Mankind has never 
been so happy, as when the greatest part of the then known world 
was under the dominion of a single master ; and this state of their 
felicity continued under the reign of five successive Princes." 
Strange that such a lover of political hberty as Fielding 
should have forgotten that the glaring infamy of the Roman 
morals and manners immediately on the ascent of Corn- 
modus prove, that even five excellent despots in suc- 
cession were but a mere temporary palliative of the evils 
inherent in despotism and its causes. Think you that all 
the sub-despots were Trojans and Antonines ? No ! 
Rome was left as it was found by them, incapable of 
Book xviii. ch. 4. 
Plato himself concludes his Phaedon with declaring, that his best 
argument amounts only to raise a probability ; and Cicero himself 
seems rather to profess an inclination to believe, than any actual 
belief, in the doctrines of immortality. 
No ! Plato does not say so, but speaks as a philosophic 
Christian would do of the best arguments of the scientific 
intellect. The assurance is derived from a higher principle. 
If this be Methodism Plato and Socrates were arrant 
366 Jonathan Wild 
Methodists and New Light men ; but I would ask Fielding 
what ratiocinations do more than raise a high degree of 
probability. But assuredly an historic belief is far different 
from Christian faith. 
No greater proof can be conceived of the strength of the 
instinctive anticipation of a future state than that it was 
believed at all by the Greek Philosophers, with their vague 
and (Plato excepted) Pantheistic conception of the First 
Cause. S. T. C. 
Jonathan Wild is assuredly the best of all the fictions in 
which a villain is throughout the prominent character. 
But how impossible it is by any force of genius to create a 
sustained attractive interest for such a ground-work, and 
how the mind wearies of, and shrinks from, the more than 
painful interest, the //,/<r?jrof, of utter depravity, — Fielding 
himself felt and endeavoured to mitigate and remedy by 
the (on all other principles) far too large a proportion, and 
too quick recurrence, of the interposed chapters of moral 
reflection, like the chorus in the Greek tragedy, — admirable 
specimens as these chapters are of profound irony and 
philosophic satire. Chap. VI. Book 2, on Hats,^ — brief as 
it is, exceeds any thing even in Swift's Lilliput, or Tale of 
the Tub. How forcibly it applies to the WTiigs, Tories, 
and Radicals of our own times. 
Whether the transposition of Fielding's scorching wit 
(as B. HI. c. xiv.) to the mouth of his hero be objectionable 
on the ground of increduhcs odi, or is to be admired as 
answering the author's purpose by unrealizing the story, 
in order to give a deeper reality to the truths intended, — I 
must leave doubtful, yet myself inclining to the latter 
judgment. 27th Feb. 1832 
1 Communicated by Mr. Gillman. Ed. 
2 ' In which our hero makes a speech well worthy to be celebrated ; and the behaviour 
ctf one of the gang, perhaps more unnatural than any other part of this history.' 
Notes on Junius 367 
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 hke a string of aphor- 
isms arranged in chapters, and classified by a resemblance 
of subject, or a cento of points. 
lb. 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. 
lb. 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 law- 
ful 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 shorten- 
ing 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 
An excellent preface, and the sentences not so snipt as in 
the dedication. The paragraph near the conclusion begin- 
ning 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 ratio- 
cination 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 common-place manner, and 
matter that is not common-place. 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 admira- 
368 Notes on Junius 
tion 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 Sydney, 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 connexion, desultory without abruptness or appearance 
of disconnexion, 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 starthng facts, in the manner of 
Tom Paine, and lively illustrations and witty applications 
of good stories and appropriate anecdotes in the manner of 
Home 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 skilful yet impassioned argu- 
mentation, 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 L From this Letter all the faults and excel- 
lencies of Junius may be exemplified. The moral and 
pohtical aphorisms are just and sensible, the irony in which 
his personal satire is conveyed is fine, yet always intellig- 
Notes on Junius 369 
ible ; 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 every where 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 
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 ques- 
tions 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 acknowledgments 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. 
I,. VII. These are the gloomy companions of a disturbed 
imagination ; the melancholy madness of poetry, without the 
The rhyme is a fault. 'Fancy' had been better ; though 
but for the rhyme, imagination is the fitter word. 
lb. Such a question might perhaps discompose the gravity of 
his muscles, but I believe it would little atiect the tranquillity of his 
A false antithesis, a mere verbal balance ; there are far, 
far too many of these. However, with these few exceptions, 
this Letter is a blameless composition. Junius may be 
safely studied as a model for letters where he truly writes 
letters. Those to the Duke of Grafton and others, are 
smaU pamphlets in the form of letters. 
370 Notes on Junius 
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 connexion 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 stopping to detect, for it flatters his love of mischief, 
and makes the sport. 
L. XII. One of Junius's arts, and which gives me a high 
notion of his genius, as a poet and satirist, is this : — ^he 
takes for granted the existence of a character that never did 
and never can exist, and then employs his wit, and sur- 
prises and amuses his readers with analyzing its incom- 
L. XIV. Continual sneer, continual irony, aU excellent, 
if it were not for the 'all' ; — but a countenance, with a 
malignant smile in statuary fixure on it, becomes at length 
an object of aversion, however beautiful the face, and how- 
ever beautiful the smile. We are relieved, in some measure, 
from this by frequent just and well expressed moral aphor- 
isms ; but then the preceding and following irony gives 
them the appearance of proceeding from the head, not from 
the heart. This objection would be less felt, when the 
Letters were first published at considerable intervals ; but 
Junius wrote for posterity. 
L. XXIII. Sneer and irony continued with such gross 
violation of good sense, as to be perfectly nonsense. The 
man who can address another on his most detestable vices 
in a strain of cold continual irony, is himself a wretch. 
L. XXXV. To honour them with a determined predilection 
and confidence in exclusion of your English subjects, who placed 
your family, and, in spite of treachery and rebellion, have supported 
it upon the throne, is a mistake too gross even for the unsuspecting 
generosity of youth. 
The words 'upon the throne,' stand unfortunately for 
Wonderfulness of Prose 371 
the harmonious effect of the balance of 'placed* and 
'supported. ' 
This address to the king is almost faultless in composi- 
tion, and has been evidently tormented with the file. But 
it has fewer beauties than any other long letter of Junius ; 
and it is utterly undramatic. There is nothing in the style, 
the transitions, or the sentiments, which represents the 
passions of a man emboldening himself to address his 
sovereign personally. Like a Presbyterian's prayer, you 
may substitute almost every where the third for the second 
I person without injury. The newspaper, his closet, and 
his own person were alone present to the author's intention 
and imagination. This makes the composition vapid. It 
possesses an Isocratic correctness, when it should have had 
the force and drama of an oration of Demosthenes. From 
this, however, the paragraph beginning with the words 'As 
to the Scotch,' and also the last two paragraphs must be 
honourably excepted. They are, perhaps, the finest 
passages in the whole collection. 
It has just struck my feelings that the Pherecydean origin 
of prose being granted, prose must have struck men with 
greater admiration than poetry. In the latter it was the 
language of passion and emotion : it is what they them- 
selves spoke and heard in moments of exultation, indigna- 
tion, &c. But to hear an evolving roll, or a succession 
of leaves, talk continually the language of deliberate 
reason in a form of continued preconception, of a Z already 
possessed when A was being uttered, — this must have 
appeared godlike. I feel myself in the same state, when 
in the perusal of a sober, yet elevated and harmonious 
succession of sentences and periods, I abstract my mind 
from the particular passage and sympathize with the 
wonder of the common people, who say of an eloquent 
man : — 'He talks like a book ! ' 
372 Notes on Herbert's Temple 
G. Herbert is a true poet, but a poet sui generis, the 
merits of whose poems will never be felt wdthout a sym- 
pathy with the mind and character of the man. To 
appreciate this volume, it is not enough that the reader 
possesses a cultivated judgment, classical taste, or even 
poetic sensibility, unless he be likewise a Christian, and 
both a zealous and an orthodox, both a devout and a 
devotional Christian. But even this will not quite suffice. 
He must be an affectionate and dutiful child of the Church, 
and from habit, conviction, and a constitutional pre- 
disposition to ceremoniousness, in piety as in manners, 
find her forms and ordinances aids of religion, not sources 
of formality ; for religion is the element in which he lives, 
and the region in which he moves. 
The Church, say rather the Churchmen of England, under 
the two first Stuarts, has been charged with a yearning 
after the Romish fopperies, and even the papistic usurpa- 
tions ; but we shall decide more correctly, as well as more 
charitably, if for the Romish and papistic we substitute 
the patristic leaven. There even was (natural enough 
from their distinguished learning, and knowledge of ecclesi- 
astical antiquities) an overrating of the Church and of the 
Fathers, for the first five or even six centuries ; these lines 
on the Egyptian monks, " Holy Macarius and great 
Anthony " (p. 205) supply a striking instance and illustra- 
tion of this. 
P. 10. 
If thou be single, all thy goods and ground 
Submit to love ; but yet not more than all. 
Give one estate as one life. None is bound 
To work for two, who brought himself to thrall. 
God made me one man ; love makes me no more. 
Till labour come, and make my weakness score. 
I do not understand this stanza. 
p. 41. 
My flesh began unto my soul in pain. 
Sicknesses clave my bones, &c. 
Either a misprint, or a noticeable idiom of the word 
and Harvey's Synagogue 373 
** began ? " Yes ! and a very beautiful idiom it is : the 
first colloquy or address of the flesh. 
P. 46. 
What though my body run to dust ? 
Faith cleaves unto it, counting every grain, 
With an exact and most particular trust, 
Reserving all for flesh again. 
I find few historical facts so difficult of solution as the 
continuance, in Protestantism, of this anti-scriptural 
P. 54. Second poem on The Holy Scriptures. 
This verse marks that, and both do make a motion 
Unto a third that ten leaves off doth lie. 
The spiritual unity of the Bible = the order and connec- 
tion of organic forms in which the unity of life is shewn, 
though as widely dispersed in the world of sight as the 
Then as dispersed herbs do watch a potion, 
These three make up some Christian's destiny. 
Som.e misprint. 
P. 87. 
Sweet Spring, full of sweet days and roses, 
A box where sweets compacted lie. 
P. 92. Man. 
Each thing is full of duty : 
Waters united are our navigation : 
Distinguished, our habitation ; 
Below, our drink ; above, our meat : 
Both are our cleanliness. Hath one such beauty ? 
Then how are all things neat ! 
'Distinguished.' I understand this but imperfectly. 
Did they form an island ? and the next lines refer perhaps 
to the then belief that all fruits grow and are nourished 
by water. But then how is the ascending sap " our clean- 
liness ? " Perhaps, therefore, the rains. 
P. 140. 
But he doth bid us take his blood for wine. 
Nay, the contrary ; take wine to be blood, and the 
blood of a man who died 1800 years ago. This is the faith 
374 Notes on Herbert's Temple 
which even the Church of England demands ; ^ for con- 
substantiation only adds a mystery to that of Transub- 
stantiation, which it implies. 
P. 175. The Flower. 
A delicious poem. 
How fresh, O Lord, how sweet and clear 
Are thy returns I e'en as the flowers in spring ; 
To which, besides their own demean, 
The late past frosts tributes of pleasure bring. 
Grief melts away. 
Like snow in May, 
As if there were no such cold thing. 
"The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring." 
u — uu — u — 
Epitritus primus + Dactyl + Trochee + a long word 
— syllable, which, together with the pause intervening 
between it and the word — trochee, equals u u u - form a 
pleasing variety in the Pentameter Iambic with rhjnnes. 
Ex. gr. 
The late past frosts | tributes of | pleasure | bring. 
N.B. First, the difference between -u | — and an 
amphimacer - u - | and this not always or necessarily 
arising out of the latter being one word. It may even 
consist of three words, yet the effect be the same. It is 
the pause that makes the difference. Secondly, the expedi- 
ency, if not necessity, that the iirst syllable both of the 
Dactyl and the Trochee should be short by quantity, and 
only = - by force of accent or position — the Epitrite being 
true lengths. — Whether the last syllable be - or = - the 
force of the rhymes renders indifferent. Thus, .... 
1 This is one of my father's marginalia, which I can hardly persuade myself he would 
have re-written just as it stands. Where does the Church of England affirm that the 
w'mt. per se literally is the blood shed 1800 years ago? The language of our Church is 
that " we receiving these creatures of bread and wine, &c. may be partakers of His most 
blessed body and blood : " that " to such as rightly receive the same the cup of blessing 
is a partaking of the blood of Christ." Does not this language intimate, that the blood 
of Christ is spiritually produced in the soul through a faithful reception of the appointed 
symbols, rather than that the wine itself, apart from the soul, has become the blood? 
In one sense, indeed, it is the blood of Christ to the soul : it may be metaphorically 
called so, if, by means of it, the blood is really, though spiritually, partaken. More 
than this is surely not affirmed in our formularies, nor taught by our great divines in 
general. I do not write these words by way of arg-unient, but because I cannot re-print 
such a note of my father's, which has excited surprise in some of his studious readers, 
without a protest. S. C 
and Harvey's Synagogue 375 
" As if there were no such cold thing." Had been no 
ch thin^ 
P. 181. 
such thing 
Thou who condemnest Jewish hate, &c. 
Call home thine eye, (that busy wanderer,) 
That choice may be thy story. 
Their choice. 
P. 184. 
Nay, thou dost make me sit and dine 
E'en in my enemies' sight. 
P. 201. Judgment. 
Almighty Judge, how shall poor wretches brook 
Thy dreadful look, &c. 
"What others mean to do, I know not well ; 
Yet I here tell. 
That some will turn thee to some leaves therein 
So void of sin. 
That they in merit shall excel. 
I should not have expected from Herbert so open an 
avowal of Romanism in the article of merit. In the same 
spirit is *' Holy Macarius, and great Anthony," p. 205.^ 
P. 237. The Communion Table. 
And for the matter whereof it is made. 
The matter is not much. 
Although it be of tuch, 
Or wood, or metal, what will last, or fade ; 
So vanity 
And superstition avoided be. 
i Herbert however adds : 
'* But I resolve, when thou shalt call for mine, 
That to decline, 
And thrust a Testament into thy hand : 
Let that be scann'd ; 
There thou shalt find my faults are thine." 
Martin Luther himself might have penned this concluding stanza. 
Since I wrote the above, a note in Mr. Pickering's edition of Herbert has been pointed 
out to me. 
" The Rev. Dr. BHss has kindly furnished the following judicious remark, and which 
is proved to be correct, as the word is printed * heare ' in the first edition {1630." He 
says, " Let mc take this opportunity of mentioning what a very learned and able friend 
pointed out on this note. The fact is, Coleridge has been misled by an error of the 
What others mean to do, I know not well, 
Yet I here tell, &c. &c. 
should be hear tell. The sense is then obvious, and Herbert is not made to do that 
which he was the last man in the world to have done, namely, to avow ' Romanism in 
the article of merit.'" 
This suggestion once occurred to myself, and appears to be right, as it is verified by 
the first edition : but at the time it seemed to me so obvious, that surely the correction 
would have been made before if there had not been some rea.son against it. S. C. 
376 Notes on Herbert's Temple 
Tuch rhyming to much, from the German tuch, cloth, 1 
never met with before, as an EngUsh word. So I find platt 
for foliage in Stanley's Hist, of Philosophy, p. 22. 
P. 252. The Synagogue, by Christopher Harvey. 
The Bishop. 
But who can show of old that ever any 
Presbyteries without their bishops were : 
Though bishops without presbyteries many, &c. 
An instance of proving too much. If Bishop without 
Presb. B. = Presb. i.e. no Bishop. 
P. 253. The Bishop. 
To rule and to be ruled are distinct. 
And several duties, severally belong 
To several persons. 
Functions of times, but not persons, of necessity ? Ex. 
Bishop to Archbishop. 
P. 255. Church Festivals. 
Who loves not you, doth but in vain profess 
That he loves God, or heaven, or happiness. 
Equally unthinking and uncharitable ; — I approve of 
them ; — but yet remember Roman Catholic idolatry, and 
that it originated in such high-flown metaphors as these. 
P. 255. The Sabbath, or Lord's Day. 
Hail Vail 
Holy Wholly 
King of days, &c. To thy praise, &c. 
Make it sense and lose the rhyme ; or make it rhyme 
and lose the sense. 
P. 258. The Nativity, or Christmas Day. 
Unfold thy face, unmask thy ray, 
Shine forth, bright sun, double the day. 
Let no malignant misty fume, tic. 
The only poem in The Synagogue which possesses poetic 
merit ; with a few changes and additions this would be a 
striking poem. 
Substitute the following for the fifth to the eighth line. 
To sheath or blunt one happy ray, 
That wins new splendour from the day. 
This day that gives thee power to rise. 
And shine on hearts as well as eyes : 
Extract from a Letter 377 
This birth-day of all souls, when first 
On eyes of flesh and blood did burst 
That primal great lucific light, 
That rays to thee, to us gave sight. 
P. 267. Whit-Sunday. 
Nay, startle not to hear that rushing wind, 
WTierewith this place is shaken, &c. 
To hear at once so great variety 
Of language from them come, &c. 
The Spiritual miracle was the descent of the Holy Ghost : 
the outward the wind and the tongues : and so St. Peter 
himself explains it. That each individual obtained the 
power of speaking all languages, is neither contained in, 
nor fairly deducible from, St. Luke's account. 
P. 269. Trinity Sunday. 
The Trinity 
In Unity, 
And Unity 
In Trinity, 
All reason doth transcend. 
Most true, but not contradict. Reason is to faith, as the 
eye to the telescope. 
December, 1818. 
To feel the full force of the Christian religion it is perhaps 
necessary, for many tempers, that they should first be 
made to feel, experimentally, the hollowness of human 
friendship, the presumptuous emptiness of human hopes. 
I find more substantial comfort now in pious George 
Herbert's Temple, which I used to read to amuse myself 
with his quaintness, in short, only to laugh at, than in 
all the poetry since the poems of Milton. If you have 
not read Herbert I can recommend the book to you con- 
fidently. The poem entitled " The Flower " is especiaDy 
378 Notes on Gray j 
affecting, and to me such a phrase as " and relish versing " 
expresses a sincerity and reaUty, which I would unwiUingly 
exchange for the more dignified " and once more love the 
Muse," &c. and so with many other of Herbert's homely 
O71 a distant prospect of Eton College. 
Vol. i. p. 9. 
Wanders the hoary Thames along 
His silver-winding way. Gray 
We want, methinks, a little treatise from some man of 
flexible good sense, and weU versed in the Greek poets, 
especially Homer, the choral, and other lyrics, containing 
first a history of compound epithets, and then the laws 
and licenses. I am not so much disposed as I used to be 
to quarrel with such an epithet as " silver-winding ; " un- 
grammatical as the hyphen is, it is not wholly illogical, 
for the phrase conveys more than silvery and winding. 
It gives, namely, the unity of the impression, the co- 
inherence of the brightness, the motion, and the hne of 
P. ID. 
Say, Father Thames, for thou hast seen 
Full many a sprightly race 
Disporting on thy margent green. 
The paths of pleasure trace ; 
Who foremost now delight to cleave. 
With pliant arm, thy glassy wave ? 
The captive linnet which enthral ? 
What idle progeny succeed 
To chase the rolling circle's speed, 
Or urge the flying ball ? Gray. 
This is the only stanza that appears to me very objection- 
able in point of diction. This, I must confess, is not only 
falsetto throughout, but is at once harsh and feeble, and 
very far the worst ten lines in all the works of Mr. Gray, 
English or Latin, prose or verse. 
Notes on Gray 379 
p. 12. 
And envy wan, and faded care,^ 
Grim-visaged comfortless despair,^ 
And sorrow's piercing dart.-^ 
^ Bad in the first, ^ in the second, ^ in the last degree. 
p. 15. 
The proud are taught to taste of pain. Gray. 
There is a want of dignity — a sort of irony in this phrase 
to my feeling that would be more proper in dramatic than 
in lyric composition. 
On Gray's Platonica, vol. 1. p. 299. — 547. 
Whatever might be expected from a scholar, a gentle- 
man, a man of exquisite taste, as the quintessence of sane 
and sound good sense, Mr. Gray appears to me to have per- 
formed. The poet Plato, the orator Plato, Plato the ex- 
quisite dramatist of conversation, the seer and the painter 
of character, Plato the high-bred, highly-educated, aristo- 
cratic republican, the man and the gentleman of quality 
stands full before us from behind the curtain as Gray has 
drawn it back. Even so does Socrates, the social wise 
old man, the practical moralist. But Plato the philosopher, 
but the divine Plato, was not to be comprehended within 
the field of vision, or be commanded by the fixed immove- 
able telescope of Mr. Locke's human understanding. The 
whole sweep of the best philosophic reflections of French 
or English fabric in the age of our scholarly bard, was not 
commensurate with the mighty orb. The little, according 
to my convictions at least, the very little of proper Platon- 
ism contained in the written books of Plato, who himself, 
in an epistle, the authenticity of which there is no tenable 
ground for doubting, as I was rejoiced to find Mr. Gray 
acknowledge, has declared all he had written to be sub- 
stantially Socratic, and not a fair exponent of his own 
tenets,^ even this little, Mr. Gray has either misconceived 
or honestlyconfessed that,as he was not one of the initiated, 
it was utterly beyond his comprehension. Finally, to 
repeat the explanation with which I closed the last page 
of these notes and extracts, 
Volsimi e vidi Plato 
(ma non quel Plato) 
1 See Plato's second epistle (ppaffTeof 87) aot, di alPiy/xivv k. t. X. and towards 
the end rk dt vvv \ey6fieya Sw/fparouj iffrl, k. t. X. See also the 7th Eptstle, 
p. 341. 
380 Notes on Gray 
Che'n quella schiera ando piu presso a! segno, 
Al qual' aggiunge, a chi dal Cielo e dato.^ 
S. T. Coleridge, 18 19. 
P. 385. Hippias Major. 
We learn from this dialogue in how poor a condition the art of 
reasoning on moral and abstracted subjects was before the time of 
Socrates : for it is impossible that Plato should introduce a sophist 
of the first reputation for eloquence and knowledge in several 
kinds, talking in a manner below the absurdity and weakness of a 
child ; unless he had really drawn after the life. No less than 
twenty-four pages are here spent in vain, only to force it into the 
head of Hippias that there is such a thing as a general idea ; and 
that, before we can dispute on any subject, we should give a defini- 
tion of it. 
Is not this, its improbability out of the question, contra- 
dicted by the Protagoras of Plato's own drawing ? Are 
there no authors, no physicians in London at the present 
moment, of " the first reputation," i.e. whom a certain class 
cry up : for in no other sense is the phrase historically 
applicable to Hippias, whom a Sydenham redivivus or a 
new Stahl might not exhibit as pompous ignoramuses ? no 
one Hippias amongst them ? But we need not flee to con- 
jectures. The ratiocination assigned by Aristotle and 
Plato himself to Gorgias and then to the Eleatic School, are 
positive proofs that Mr. Gray has mistaken the satire of an 
individual for a characteristic of an age or class. 
May I dare whisper to the reeds without proclaiming that 
I am in the state of Midas, — may I dare to hint that Mr. 
Gray himself had not, and through the spectacles of Mr. 
Locke and his followers, could not have seen the difficulties 
which Hippias found in a general idea, secundum Pla- 
tonem ? S. T. C. 
P. 386. Notes 289. Passages of Heraclitus. 
' KvdpC)Triav 6 <ro0wroTOS irpbs Qeov iridTjKOS (paueTrai. 
This latter passage is undoubtedly the original of that 
famous thought in Pope's Essaj^ on xMan, B. 2 : 
" And shewed a Newton as we shew an ape." 
I remember to have met nearly the same words in one of 
our elder Poets. 
P. 390—91- 
That a sophist wais a kind of merchant, or rather a retailer oi 
^ Petrarch's 'J'rioti/o deUa l<ama, cap. terz. v. 4-6. 
Notes on Gray 381 
food for the soul, and, like other shopkeepers, would exert his 
eloquence to recommend his own goods. The misfortune was, we 
could not carry them off, like corporeal viands, set them by a 
while, and consider them at leisure, whether they were wholesome 
or not, before we tasted them : that in this case we have no vessel 
but the soul to receive them in, which will necessarily retain a 
tincture, and perhaps, much to its prejudice, of all which is instilled 
into it. 
Query, if Socrates, himself a scholar of the sophists, is 
accurate, did not the change of 6 co^pig into 6 i.o(pi6r'!)g, in the 
single case of Solon, refer to the wisdom-causing influences 
of his legislation ? Mem : — to examine whether ^ptvTKS-rr.i 
was, or was not, more generally used at first in malum 
sensum, or rather the proper force originally of the termina- 
tion /Vry;j, dffTTjg — whether (as it is evidently verbal) it 
imply a reflex or a transitive act. 
P. 399. 'Or/ 'A//tat)/a. 
This is the true key and great moral of the dialogue, that know- 
ledge alone is the source of virtue, and ignorance the source of vice ; 
it was Plato's own principle, see Plat. Epist. 7. p. 336. 'A/xadia, i^^s 
iravTa ko-ko, vracnv t^pi^wTat /cai ^Xaffrdvei /cat els varepov diroTeXel Kapirov 
TOLS yevwiqaacTL TriKpdraToy. See also Sophist, p. 228 and 229, and 
Euthydemus from p. 278 to 281, and De Legib. L. 3. p. 688.) and 
probably it was also the principle of Socrates : the consequence of 
it is, that virtue may be taught, and may be acquired : and that 
philosophy alone can point us out the way to it. 
More than our word. Ignorance, is contained in the' A,aa^/a 
of Plato. I, however, freely acknowledge, that this was 
the point of view, from which Socrates did for the most part 
contemplate moral good and evil. Now and then he seems 
to have taken a higher station, but soon quitted it for the 
lower, more generally intelligible. Hence the vacillation 
of Socrates himself : hence, too, the immediate opposition 
of his disciples, Antisthenes and Aristippus. But that this 
was Plato's own principle I exceedingly doubt. That it 
was not the principle of Platonism, as taught by the first 
Academy under Speusippus, I do not doubt at all. See the 
xivth Essay, p. 129-39 of The Friend, vol. i. In the sense 
in which d,aat)/a$ 'rrdvra xaxa epp/^urai^ x.t.X. is maintained 
in that Essay, so and no otherwise can it be truly asserted, 
and so and no otherwise did ug t/^ot yi dozsT, Plato teach it. 
382 Barry Cornwall 
Barry Cornwall is a poet, me saltern judice : and in that 
sense of the term, in which I apply it to C. Lamb and W. 
Wordsworth. There are poems of i^reat merit, the authors 
of which I should yet not leei impelled so to designate. 
The faults of these poems are no less things of hope, than 
the beauties ; both are just what they ought to be, — that 
is, now. 
If B. C. be faithful to his genius, it in due time will warn 
him, that as poetry is the identity of all other knowledges, 
so a poet cannot be a great poet, but as being likewise 
inclusively an historian and naturalist, in the light, as well 
as the life, of philosophy : all other men's worlds are his 
Hints obiter are : — not to permit delicacy and exquisite- 
ness to seduce into effeminacy. Not to permit beauties by 
repetition to become mannerisms. To be jealous of frag- 
mentary composition, — as epicurism of genius, and apple- 
pie made all of quinces. Item, that dramatic poetry must 
be poetry hid in thought and passion, — not thought or 
passion disguised in the dress of poetry. Lastly, to be 
economic and withholding in similes, figures, &c. They 
will all find their place, sooner or later, each as the luminary 
of a sphere of its own. There can be no galaxy in poetry, 
because it is language, — ergo processive, — ergo every the 
smallest star must be seen singly. 
There are not five metrists in the kingdom, whose works 
are known by me, to whom I could have held myself allowed 
to have spoken so plainly. But B. C. is a man of genius, 
and it depends on himself — (competence protecting him 
from gnawing or distracting cares) — to become a rightful 
poet, — that is, a great man. 
Oh ! for such a man worldly prudence is transfigured 
into the highest spiritual duty ! How generous is self- 
interest in him, whose true self is all that is good and hope- 
ful in all ages, as far as the language of Spenser, Shakspeare, 
and Milton shall become the mother-tongue ! 
A map of the road to Paradise, drawn in Purgatory, on 
the confines of Hell, by S. T. C. July 30, 1819. 
1 Written in Mr. Lamb's copy of the ' Dramatic Scenes.' Ed. 
On the Mode of Studying Kant 383 
Accept my thanks for the rules of the harmony. I per- 
ceive that the members are chiefly merchants ; but yet it 
were to be wished, that such an enlargement of the society 
could be brought about as, retaining all its present purposes, 
might add to them the groundwork of a library of northern 
literature, and by bringing together the many gentlemen 
who are attached to it be the means of eventually making 
both countries better acquainted with the valuable part of 
each other ; especially, the English with the German, for 
our most sensible men look at the German Muses through 
a film of prejudice and utter misconception. 
With regard to philosophy, there are half a dozen things, 
good and bad, that in this country are so nick-named, but 
in the only accurate sense of the term, there neither are, 
have been, or ever will be but two essentially different 
schools of philosophy, the Platonic, and the Aristotelian. 
To the latter but with a somewhat nearer approach to the 
Platonic, Emanuel Kant belonged ; to the former Bacon 
and Leibnitz, and, in his riper and better years, Berkeley. 
And to this I profess myself an adherent — nihil novum, vel 
inauditum audemus ; though, as every man has a face of 
his own, without being more or less than a man, so is every 
true philosopher an original, without ceasing to be an 
inmate of Academus or of the Lyceum. But as to caution, 
I will just tell you how I proceeded myself twenty years and 
more ago, when I first felt a curiosity about Kant, and was 
fully aware that to master his meaning, as a system, would 
be a work of great labour and long time. First, I asked 
myself, have I the labour and the time in my power ? 
Secondly, if so, and if it would be of adequate importance 
to me if true, by what means can I arrive at a rational pre- 
sumption for or against ? I inquired after all the more 
popular writings of Kant — read them with delight. I then 
read the Prefaces of several of his systematic works, as the 
Prolegomena, &c. Here too every part, I understood, and 
1 This letter and the following notes on Jean Paul were communicated by Mr. H. C. 
Robinson. S. C 
384 On the Mode of Studying Kant 
that was nearly the whole, was replete with sound and 
plain, though bold and to me novel truths ; and I followed 
Socrates' adage respecting Heraclitus : all I understand is 
excellent, and I am bound to presume that the rest is at 
least worth the trouble of trying whether it be not equally 
so. In other words, until I understand a writer's ignor- 
ance, I presume myself ignorant of his understanding. 
Permit me to refer you to a chapter on this subject in my 
Literary Life.^ 
Yet I by no means recommend to you an extension of 
your philosophic researches beyond Kant. In him is con- 
tained all that can be learned, and as to the results, you have 
a firm faith in God, the responsible Will of Man and Im- 
mortahty ; and Kant will demonstrate to you, that this 
faith is acquiesced in, indeed, nay, confirmed by the Reason 
and Understanding, but grounded on Postulates authorized 
and substantiated solely by the Moral Being. There are 
likewise mine : and whether the Ideas are regulative only, 
as Aristotle and Kant teach, or constitutive and actual, as 
Pythagoras and Plato, is of living interest to the philo- 
sopher by profession alone. Both systems are equally 
true, if only the former abstain from denying universally 
what is denied indi\'idually. He, for whom Ideas are con- 
stitutive, win in effect be a Platonist ; and in those for 
whom they are regulative only, Platonism is but a hollow 
affectation. Dryden could not have been a Platonist : 
Shakspeare, Milton, Dante, Michael Angelo and Rafael 
could not have been other than Platonists. Lord Bacon, 
who never read Plato's works, taught pure Platonism in 
his great work, the Novum Organum, and abuses his divine 
predecessor for fantastic nonsense, which he had been the 
first to explode. Accept my best respects, &c. 
14 Jan. 18 14. Highgate. 
1 Biographia Literarfa. vol. i. chap xii. p. ?.t2. S. C 
Notes on Jean Paul 385 
Written in the blank leaf at the beginning. 
S ist zu merken, dass die Sprache in diesem Buch nicht 
sey wie in gewohnlich Bette, darin der Gedankenstrom 
ordentlich and chrbar hinstromt, sondern wie cin Ver- 
wiistung in Damm and Deichen.^ 
Preface, p. xxxi. 
Two Revolutions, the Gallican, which sacrifices the individuals 
to the Idea or to the State, and in time of need, even the latter 
themselves ; — and the Kantian-Moralist (Kantisch-Moralische), 
which abandons the affection of human Love altogether, because it 
can so little be described as merit ; these draw and station us 
forlorn human creatures ever further and more lonesomely one 
from another, each on a frosty uninhabited island : nay the Gallican 
which excites and arms feelings against feelings, does it less than 
the Critical, which teaches us to disarm and to dispense with them 
altogether ; and which neither allows Love to pass for the spring of 
virtiie, nor virtue for the source of Love.^ Transl. 
But surely Kant's aim was not to give a full Sittenlehre, 
or system of practical material morality, but the a priori 
form — Ethice formalis : which was then a most necessary 
work, and the only mode of quelling at once both Necessi- 
tarians and Meritmongers, and the idol common to both, 
Eudcemonism. If his followers have stood still in lazy 
adoration, instead of following up the road thus opened out 
to them, it is their fault not Kant's. 
S. T. C. 
1 It is observable that the language in this book is not as in an ordinary channel, 
wherein the stream of thought flows on in a seemly and regular manner, but like a 
violent flood rushing against dyke and mole. 
2 Zwei Revoluzionen, die gallische, welche der Idee oder dem Staate die Individtien, 
and im Nothsal diesen selber opfert, und die kantisch-moralische, welche den Aflfekt 
der Menschenliebe liegen lasset, weil er so wenig wie Verdienste geboten werden kan, 
diese ziehen und stellen uus verlas-ene Menschen immer weiter und einsamer aus 
cinander, jeden nur auf ein fro^tiges unbewohntes Eiland ; ja die gallische, die nur 
Gefiihle gegen Gefiihle bewafnet und aufhezt, thut es weniger als die kritische, die sie 
entwafnen und entbehren lehrt, und die weder die Liibe als Quelle der Tugend noch 
diese als Quelle von jener gelten lassen kan. 
He was one who with long and large arm still collected 
precious armfuls in whatever direction he pressed forward, 
yet still took up so much more than he could keep together, 
that those who followed him gleaned more from his 
continual droppings than he himself brought home ; — 
nay, made stately corn-ricks therewith, while the reaper 
himself was still seen only with a strutting armful of 
newly-cut sheaves. But I should misinform you grossly 
if I left you to infer that his collections were a heap of 
incoherent miscellanea. No ! the very contrary. Their 
variet}^ conjoined with the too great coherency, the too 
great both desire and power of referring them in systematic, 
nay, genetic subordination, was that which rendered his 
schemes gigantic and impracticable, as an author, and his 
conversation less instructive as a man. Auditor em inopem 
ipsa copia fecit. — Too much was given, all so weighty and 
brilliant as to preclude a chance of its being all received, — 
so that it not seldom passed over the hearer's mind like 
a roar of many waters. 
I CANNOT avoid the acknowledgment of the difficulty of 
the task I have undertaken ; yet I have undertaken it 
voluntarily, and I shall discharge it to the best of my 
abilities, requesting those who hear me to allow for de- 
ficiencies, to bear in mind the wide extent of my 
subject. The field is almost boundless as the sea, yet 
full of beauty and variety as the land : I feel in some 
sort oppressed by abundance ; inopem me copia fecit. 
What I most rely upon is your sympathy ; and, as I 
proceed, I trust that I shall interest you : sympathy and 
interest are to a lecturer like the sun and the showers to 
nature — absolutely necessary to the production of blossoms 
and fruit. 
May I venture to observe that my own life has been 
employed more in reading and conversation — in collecting 
and reflecting, than in printing and publishing ; for I never 
felt the desire, so often experienced by others, of becoming 
an author. It was accident made me an author in the 
first instance : I was caUed a poet almost before I knew 
I could write poetry. In what I have to offer I shall 
speak freely, whether of myself or of my contemporaries, 
when it is necessary : conscious superiority, if indeed it 
be superior, need not fear to have its self-love or its pride 
wounded ; and contempt, the most absurd and debasing 
feeling that can actuate the human mind, must be far 
below the sphere in which lofty intellects live and move 
and have their being. 
On the first examination of a work, especially a work 
of fiction and fancy, it is right to inquire to what feeling 
or passion it addresses itself — to the benevolent, or to 
the vindictive ? whether it is calculated to excite emula- 
tion, or to produce envy, under the common mask of 
scorn ? and, in the next place, whether the pleasure we 
receive from it has a tendency to keep us good, to make 
us better, or to reward us for being good. 
390 The First Lecture 
It will be expected of me, as my prospectus indicates, 
that I should say something of the causes of false criticism, 
particularly as regards poetry, though I do not mean 
to confine myself to that only : in doing so, it will be 
necessary for me to point out some of the obstacles which 
impede, and possibly prevent, the formation of a correct 
judgment. These are either — 
1. Accidental causes, arising out of the particular 
circumstances of the age in which we live ; or — 
2. Permanent causes, flowing out of the general prin- 
ciples of our nature. 
Under the first head, accidental causes, may be classed 
— I. The events that have occurred in our ov/n day, which, 
from their importance alone, have created a world of 
readers. 2. The practice of public speaking, which 
encourages a too great desire to be understood at once, 
and at the first blush. 3. The prevalence of reviews, 
magazines, newspapers, novels, &c. 
Of the last, and of the perusal of them, I will run the 
risk of asserting, that where the reading of novels prevails 
as a habit, it occasions in time the entire destruction 
of the powers of the mind : it is such an utter loss to the 
reader, that it is not so much to be called pass-time as 
kill-time. It conveys no trustworthy information as 
to facts ; it produces no improvement of the intellect, 
but fills the mind with a mawkish and morbid sensibility, 
which is directly hostile to the cultivation, invigoration, 
and enlargement of the nobler faculties of the under- 
Reviews are generally pernicious, because the writers 
determine without reference to fixed principles — because 
reviews are usually filled with personalities ; and, above 
all, because they teach people rather to judge than to 
consider, to decide than to reflect : thus they encourage 
superficiality, and induce the thoughtless and the idle to 
adopt sentiments conveyed under the authoritative We, 
and not, by the working and subsequent clearing of their 
own minds, to form just original opinions. In older times 
writers were looked up to almost as intermediate beings, 
between angels and men ; afterwards they were regarded 
as venerable and, perhaps, inspired teachers ; subsequently 
they descended to the level of learned and instructive 
friends ; but in modern days they are deemed culprits 
The First Lecture 391 
more than benefactors : as culprits they are brought 
to the bar of self-erected and self-satisfied tribunals. If 
a person be now seen reading a new book, the most usual 
question is — " What trash have you there ? " I admit 
that there is some reason for this difference in the estimate ; 
for in these times, if a man fail as a tailor, or a shoe- 
maker, and can read and write correctly (for spelling is 
still of some consequence) he becomes an author.^ 
The crying sin of modern criticism is that it is over- 
loaded with personality. If an author commit an error, 
there is no wish to set him right for the sake of truth, 
but for the sake of triumph — that the reviewer may show 
how much wiser, or how much abler he is than the writer. 
Reviewers are usually people who would have been poets, 
historians, biographers, &c., if they could : they have 
tried their talents at one or at the other, and have 
failed ; therefore they turn critics, and, like the Roman 
emperor, a critic most hates those who excel in the particu- 
lar department in which he, the critic, has notoriously been 
defeated. This is an age of personality and political 
gossip, when insects, as in ancient Egypt, are worshipped 
in proportion to the venom of their stings — when poems, 
and especially satires, are valued according to the number 
of living names they contain ; and where the notes, how- 
ever, have this comparative excellence, that they are 
generally more poetical and pointed than the text. This 
style of criticism is at the present moment one of the 
chief pillars of the Scotch professorial court ; and, as to 
personality in poems, I remember to have once seen an 
epic advertised, and strongly recommended, because it con- 
tained more than a hundred names of living characters. 
How derogatory, how degrading, this is to true poetry 
I need not say. A very wise writer has maintained that 
there is more difference between one man and another, 
than between man and a beast : I can conceive of no 
lower state of human existence than that of a being who, 
insensible to the beauties of poetry himself, endeavours to 
reduce others to his own level. What Hooker so eloquently 
claims for law I say of poetry — " Her seat is the bosom 
of God, her voice the harmony of the world ; all things 
1 Here my shorthand note informs me that Coleridge made a quotation from Jeremy 
Taylor, but from what work, or of what import, does not appear. He observed, that 
"although Jeremy Taylor wrote only in prose, according to some definitions of poetry 
he might be considered one of our noblest poets." — J. P. C. 
392 The First Lecture 
in heaven and on earth do her homage." It is the language 
of heaven, and in the exquisite dehght we derive from 
poetry we have, as it were, a type, a foretaste, and a 
prophecy of the joys of heaven. 
Another cause of false criticism is the greater purity 
of morality in the present age, compared even with the 
last. Our notions upon this subject are sometimes carried 
to excess, particularly among those who in print affect to 
enforce the value of a high standard. Far be it from me 
to depreciate that value ; but let me ask, who now will 
venture to read a number of the Spectator, or of the 
Tatler, to his wife and daughters, without first examining 
it to make sure that it contains no word which might, in 
our day, offend the delicacy of female ears, and shock 
feminine susceptibility ? Even our theatres, the repre- 
sentations at which usually reflect the morals of the 
period, have taken a sort of domestic turn, and while the 
performances at them may be said, in some sense, to 
improve the heart, there is no doubt that they vitiate the 
taste. The effect is bad, however good the cause. 
Attempts have been made to compose and adapt systems 
of education ; but it appears to me something like putting 
Greek and Latin grammars into the hands of boys, before 
they understand a word of Greek or Latin. These grammars 
contain instructions on all the minutiae and refinements of 
language, but of what use are they to persons who do not 
comprehend the first rudiments ? Why are you to furnish 
the means of judging, before you give the capacity to judge? 
These seem to me to be among the principal accidental 
causes of false criticism. 
Among the permanent causes, I may notice — 
First, the great pleasure we feel in being told of the know- 
ledge we possess, rather than of the ignorance we suffer. 
Let it be our first duty to teach thinking, and then what to 
think about. You cannot expect a person to be able to go 
through the arduous process of thinking, who has never 
exercised his faculties. In the Alps we see the chamois 
hunter ascend the most perilous precipices without danger, 
and leap from crag to crag over vast chasms without dread 
or difficulty, and who but a fool, if unpractised, would 
attempt to follow him ? it is not intrepidity alone that is 
necessary, but he who would imitate the hunter must have 
gone through the same process for the acquisition of 
The First Lecture 393 
strength, skill, and knowledge : he must exert, and be 
capable of exerting, the same muscular energies, and dis- 
play the same perseverance and courage, or all his efforts 
will be worse than fruitless : they will lead not only to 
disappointment, but to destruction. Systems have been 
invented with the avowed object of teaching people how to 
think ; but in my opinion the proper title for such a work 
ought to be " The Art of teaching how to think without 
thinking." Nobody endeavours to instruct a man how to 
leap, until he has first given him vigour and elasticity. 
Nothing is more essential — nothing can be more im- 
portant, than in every possible way to cultivate and im- 
prove the thinking powers : the mind as much requires 
exercise as the body, and no man can fully and adequately 
discharge the duties of whatever station he is placed in 
without the power of thought. I do not, of course, say 
that a man may not get through life without much thinking, 
or much power of thought ; but if he be a carpenter, with- 
out thought a carpenter he must remain : if he be a weaver, 
without thought a weaver he must remain. — On man God 
has not only bestowed gifts, but the power of giving : he 
is not a creature born but to live and die : he has had 
faculties communicated to him, which, if he do his duty, he 
is bound to communicate and make beneficial to others. 
Man, in a secondary sense, may be looked upon in part as 
his own creator, for by the improvement of the faculties 
bestowed upon him by God, he not only enlarges them, but 
may be said to bring new ones into existence. The 
Almighty has thus condescended to communicate to man, 
in a high state of moral cultivation, a portion of his own 
great attributes. 
A second permanent cause of false criticism is connected 
with the habit of not taking the trouble to think : it is the 
custom which some people have established of judging of 
books by books. — Hence to such the use and value of 
reviews. Why has nature given limbs, if they are not to be 
applied to motion and action ; why abilities, if they are to 
lie asleep, while we avail ourselves of the eyes, ears, and 
understandings of others ? As men often employ servants, 
to spare them the nuisance of rising from their seats and 
walking across a room, so men employ reviews in order to 
save themselves the trouble of exercising their own powers 
of judging : it is only mental slothfulness and sluggishness 
394 The First Lecture 
that induce so many to adopt, and take for granted the 
opinions of others. 
I may illustrate this moral imbecility by a case which 
came within my own knowledge. A friend of mine had 
seen it stated somewhere, or had heard it said, that Shak- 
speare had not made Constance, in " King John," speak 
the language of nature, when she exclaims on the loss of 
" Grief fills the room up of my absent child. 
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me ; 
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words, 
Remembers me of all his gracious parts, 
Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form : 
Then have I reason to be fond of grief." 
King John, Act iii.. Scene 4. 
Within three months after he had repeated the opinion 
(not thinking for himself) that these lines were out of 
nature, my friend died. I called upon his mother, an 
affectionate, but ignorant woman, who had scarcely heard 
the name of Shakspeare, much less read any of his plays. 
Like Philip, I endeavoured to console her, and among other 
things I told her, in the anguish of her sorrow, that she 
seemed to be as fond of grief as she had been of her son. 
What was her reply ? Almost a prose parody on the 
very language of Shakspeare — the same thoughts in nearly 
the same words, but with a different arrangement. An 
attestation like this is worth a thousand criticisms. 
As a third permanent cause of false criticism we may 
notice the vague use of terms. And here I may take the 
liberty of impressing upon my hearers, the fitness, if not 
the necessity, of employing the most appropriate words 
and expressions, even in common conversation, and in the 
ordinary tra.nsactions of life. If you want a substantive 
do not take the first that comes into your head, but that 
which most distinctly and peculiarly conveys your mean- 
ing : if an adjective, remember the grammatical use of 
that part of speech, and be careful that it expresses some 
quality in the substantive that you wish to impress upon 
your hearer. Reflect for a moment on the vague and 
uncertain manner in which the word " taste " has been 
often employed ; and how such epithets as " sublime," 
" majestic," " grand," " striking," " picturesque," &c., 
The First Lecture 395 
have been misapplied, and how they have been used on the 
most unworthy and inappropriate occasions. 
I was one day admiring one of the falls of the Clyde ; 
and ruminating upon what descriptive term could be most 
fitly applied to it, I came to the conclusion that the epithet 
" majestic " was the most appropriate. While I was still 
contemplating the scene a gentleman and a lady came up, 
neither of whose faces bore much of the stamp of superior 
intelligence, and the first words the gentleman uttered 
were ** It is very majestic." I was pleased to find such a 
confirmation of my opinion, and I complimented the 
spectator upon the choice of his epithet, saying that he had 
used the best word that could have been selected from our 
language : " Yes, sir," replied the gentleman, " I say it is 
very majestic : it is sublime, it is beautiful, it is grand, it is 
picturesque." — " Ay " (added the lady), "it is the prettiest 
thing I ever saw." I own that I was not a little dis- 
You will see, by the terms of my prospectus, that I 
intend my lectures to be, not only " in illustration of the 
principles of poetry," but to include a statement of the 
application of those principles, " as grounds of criticism 
on the most popular works of later English poets, those 
of the living included." If I had thought this task pre- 
sumptuous on my part, I should not have voluntarily 
undertaken it ; and in examining the merits, whether 
positive or comparative, of my contemporaries, I shall 
dismiss aU feelings and associations which might lead me 
from the formation of a right estimate. I shall give talent 
and genius its due praise, and only bestow censure where, 
as it seems to me, truth and justice demand it. I shall, 
of course, carefuUy avoid falling into that system of false 
criticism, which I condemn in others ; and, above all, 
whether I speak of those whom I know, or of those whom 
I do not know, of friends or of enemies, of the dead or of the 
living, my great aim will be to be strictly impartial. No 
man can truly apply principles, who displays the slightest 
bias in the application of them ; and I shall have much 
greater pleasure in pointing out the good, than in exposing 
the bad. I fear no accusation of arrogance from the 
amiable and the wise : I shall pity the weak, and despise 
the malevolent.