Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit etc.
by by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
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We assuredly believe that the Bible contains all truths necessary to salvation, and that therein is preserved the undoubted Word of God. We assert likewise that, besides these express oracles and immediate revelations, there are Scriptures which to the soul and conscience of every Christian man bear irresistible evidence of the Divine Spirit assisting and actuating the authors; and that both these and the former are such as to render it morally impossible that any passage of the small inconsiderable portion, not included in one or other of these, can supply either ground or occasion of any error in faith, practice, or affection, except to those who wickedly and wilfully seek a pretext for their unbelief. And if in that small portion of the Bible which stands in no necessary connection with the known and especial ends and purposes of the Scriptures, there should be a few apparent errors resulting from the state of knowledge then existing— errors which the best and holiest men might entertain uninjured, and which without a miracle those men must have entertained; if I find no such miraculous prevention asserted, and see no reason for supposing it—may I not, to ease the scruples of a perplexed inquirer, venture to say to him; "Be it so. What then? The absolute infallibility even of the inspired writers in matters altogether incidental and foreign to the objects and purposes of their inspiration is no part of my creed: and even if a professed divine should follow the doctrine of the Jewish Church so far as not to attribute to the Hagiographa, in every word and sentence, the same height and fulness of inspiration as to the Law and the Prophets, I feel no warrant to brand him as a heretic for an opinion, the admission of which disarms the infidel without endangering a single article of the Catholic Faith."—If to an unlearned but earnest and thoughtful neighbour I give the advice;—"Use the Old Testament to express the affections excited, and to confirm the faith and morals taught you, in the New, and leave all the rest to the students and professors of theology and Church history! You profess only to be a Christian:"—am I misleading my brother in Christ?

This I believe by my own dear experience—that the more tranquilly an inquirer takes up the Bible as he would any other body of ancient writings, the livelier and steadier will be his impressions of its superiority to all other books, till at length all other books and all other knowledge will be valuable in his eyes in proportion as they help him to a better understanding of his Bible. Difficulty after difficulty has been overcome from the time that I began to study the Scriptures with free and unboding spirit, under the conviction that my faith in the Incarnate Word and His Gospel was secure, whatever the result might be;—the difficulties that still remain being so few and insignificant in my own estimation, that I have less personal interest in the question than many of those who will most dogmatically condemn me for presuming to make a question of it.

So much for scholars—for men of like education and pursuits as myself. With respect to Christians generally, I object to the consequence drawn from the doctrine rather than to the doctrine itself;—a consequence not only deducible from the premises, but actually and imperiously deduced; according to which every man that can but read is to sit down to the consecutive and connected perusal of the Bible under the expectation and assurance that the whole is within his comprehension, and that, unaided by note or comment, catechism or liturgical preparation, he is to find out for himself what he is bound to believe and practise, and that whatever he conscientiously understands by what he reads is to be HIS religion. For he has found it in his Bible, and the Bible is the Religion of Protestants!

Would I then withhold the Bible from the cottager and the artisan?— Heaven forfend! The fairest flower that ever clomb up a cottage window is not so fair a sight to my eyes as the Bible gleaming through the lower panes. Let it but be read as by such men it used to be read; when they came to it as to a ground covered with manna, even the bread which the Lord had given for his people to eat; where he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack. They gathered every man according to his eating. They came to it as to a treasure-house of Scriptures; each visitant taking what was precious and leaving as precious for others;—Yea, more, says our worthy old Church-historian, Fuller, where "the same man at several times may in his apprehension prefer several Scriptures as best, formerly most affected with one place, for the present more delighted with another, and afterwards, conceiving comfort therein not so clear, choose other places as more pregnant and pertinent to his purpose. Thus God orders it, that divers men (and perhaps the same man at divers times), make use of all His gifts, gleaning and gathering comfort as it is scattered through the whole field of the Scripture." Farewell.


You are now, my dear friend, in possession of my whole mind on this point—one thing only excepted which has weighed with me more than all the rest, and which I have therefore reserved for my concluding letter. This is the impelling principle or way of thinking, which I have in most instances noticed in the assertors of what I have ventured to call Bibliolatry, and which I believe to be the main ground of its prevalence at this time, and among men whose religious views are anything rather than enthusiastic. And I here take occasion to declare, that my conviction of the danger and injury of this principle was and is my chief motive for bringing the doctrine itself into question; the main error of which consists in the confounding of two distinct conceptions—revelation by the Eternal Word, and actuation of the Holy Spirit. The former indeed is not always or necessarily united with the latter—the prophecy of Balaam is an instance of the contrary,—but yet being ordinarily, and only not always, so united, the term, "Inspiration," has acquired a double sense.

First, the term is used in the sense of Information miraculously communicated by voice or vision; and secondly, where without any sensible addition or infusion, the writer or speaker uses and applies his existing gifts of power and knowledge under the predisposing, aiding, and directing actuation of God's Holy Spirit. Now, between the first sense, that is, inspired revelation, and the highest degree of that grace and communion with the Spirit which the Church under all circumstances, and every regenerate member of the Church of Christ, is permitted to hope and instructed to pray for, there is a positive difference of kind—a chasm, the pretended overleaping of which constitutes imposture, or betrays insanity. Of the first kind are the Law and the Prophets, no jot or tittle of which can pass unfulfilled, and the substance and last interpretation of which passes not away; for they wrote of Christ, and shadowed out the everlasting Gospel. But with regard to the second, neither the holy writers—the so-called Hagiographi—themselves, nor any fair interpretations of Scripture, assert any such absolute diversity, or enjoin the belief of any greater difference of degree, than the experience of the Christian World, grounded on and growing with the comparison of these Scriptures with other works holden in honour by the Churches, has established. And THIS difference I admit, and doubt not that it has in every generation been rendered evident to as many as read these Scriptures under the gracious influence of the spirit in which they were written.

But alas! this is not sufficient; this cannot but be vague and unsufficing to those with whom the Christian religion is wholly objective, to the exclusion of all its correspondent subjective. It must appear vague, I say, to those whose Christianity as matter of belief is wholly external, and like the objects of sense, common to all alike; altogether historical, an opus operatum—its existing and present operancy in no respect differing from any other fact of history, and not at all modified by the supernatural principle in which it had its origin in time. Divines of this persuasion are actually, though without their own knowledge, in a state not dissimilar to that into which the Latin Church sank deeper amid deeper from the sixth to the fourteenth century; during which time religion was likewise merely objective and superstitious—a letter proudly emblazoned and illuminated, but yet a dead letter that was to be read by its own outward glories without the light of the Spirit in the mind of the believer. The consequence was too glaring not to be anticipated, and, if possible, prevented. Without that spirit in each true believer, whereby we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error in all things appertaining to salvation, the consequence must be—so many men, so many minds! And what was the antidote which the Priests and Rabbis of this purely objective Faith opposed to this peril? Why, an objective, outward Infallibility, concerning which, however, the differences were scarcely less or fewer than those which it was to heal; an Infallibility which taken literally and unqualified, became the source of perplexity to the well-disposed, of unbelief to the wavering, and of scoff and triumph to the common enemy, and which was, therefore, to be qualified and limited, and then it meant so munch and so little that to men of plain understandings and single hearts it meant nothing at all. It resided here. No! there. No! but in a third subject. Nay! neither here, nor there, nor in the third, but in all three conjointly!

But even this failed to satisfy; and what was the final resource—the doctrine of those who would not be called a Protestant Church, but in which doctrine the Fathers of Protestantism in England would have found little other fault, than that it might be affirmed as truly of the decisions of any other bishop as of the Bishop of Rome? The final resource was to restore what ought never to have been removed— the correspondent subjective, that is, the assent and confirmation of the Spirit promised to all true believers, as proved and manifested in the reception of such decision by the Church Universal in all its rightful members.

I comprise and conclude the sum of my conviction in this one sentence. Revealed religion (and I know of no religion not revealed) is in its highest contemplation the unity, that is, the identity or co-inherence, of subjective and objective. It is in itself, and irrelatively at once inward life and truth, and outward fact and luminary. But as all power manifests itself in the harmony of correspondent opposites, each supposing and supporting the other; so has religion its objective, or historic and ecclesiastical pole and its subjective, or spiritual and individual pole. In the miracles and miraculous parts of religion—both in the first communication of Divine truths, and in the promulgation of the truths thus communicated—we have the union of the two, that is, the subjective and supernatural displayed objectively—outwardly and phenomenally— AS subjective and supernatural.

Lastly, in the Scriptures, as far as they are not included in the above as miracles, and in the mind of the believing and regenerate reader and meditater, there is proved to us the reciprocity or reciprocation of the spirit as subjective and objective, which in conformity with the scheme proposed by me, in aid of distinct conception and easy recollection, I have named the Indifference. What I mean by this, a familiar acquaintance with the more popular parts of Luther's works, especially his "Commentaries," and the delightful volume of his "Table Talk," would interpret for me better than I can do for myself. But I do my best, when I say that no Christian probationer, who is earnestly working out his salvation, and experiences the conflict of the spirit with the evil and the infirmity within him and around him, can find his own state brought before him, and, as it were, antedated, in writings reverend even for their antiquity and enduring permanence, and far more and more abundantly consecrated by the reverence, love, and grateful testimonies of good men, through the long succession of ages, in every generation, and under all states of minds and circumstances of fortune, that no man, I say, can recognise his own inward experiences in such writings, and not find an objectiveness, a confirming and assuring outwardness, and all the main characters of reality reflected therefrom on the spirit, working in himself and in his own thoughts, emotions, and aspirations, warring against sin and the motions of sin. The unsubstantial, insulated self passes away as a stream; but these are the shadows and reflections of the Rock of Ages, and of the Tree of Life that starts forth from its side.

On the other hand, as much of reality, as much of objective truth, as the Scriptures communicate to the subjective experiences of the believer, so much of present life, of living and effective import, do these experiences give to the letter of these Scriptures. In the one THE SPIRIT ITSELF BEARETH WITNESS WITH OUR SPIRIT, that we have received the SPIRIT OF ADOPTION; in the other our spirit bears witness to the power of the Word, that it is indeed the Spirit that proceedeth from God. If in the holy men thus actuated all imperfection of knowledge, all participation in the mistakes and limits of their several ages had been excluded, how could these writings be or become the history and example, the echo and more lustrous image of the work and warfare of the sanctifying principle in us? If after all this, and in spite of all this, some captious litigator should lay hold of a text here or there—St. Paul's CLOAK LEFT AT TROAS WITH CARPUS, or a verse from the Canticles, and ask, "Of what spiritual use is this?"—the answer is ready:- It proves to us that nothing can be so trifling, as not to supply an evil heart with a pretext for unbelief.

Archbishop Leighton has observed that the Church has its extensive and intensive states, and that they seldom fall together. Certain it is, that since kings have been her nursing fathers, and queens her nursing mothers, our theologians seem to act in the spirit of fear rather than in that of faith; and too often, instead of inquiring after the truth in the confidence that whatever is truth must be fruitful of good to all who ARE IN HIM THAT IS TRUE, they seek with vain precautions to GUARD AGAINST THE POSSIBLE INFERENCES which perverse and distempered minds may pretend, whose whole Christianity- -do what we will—is and will remain nothing but a pretence.

You have now my entire mind on this momentous question, the grounds on which it rests, and the motives which induce me to make it known; and I now conclude by repeating my request: Correct me, or confirm me.



Faith may be defined as fidelity to our own being, so far as such being is not and cannot become an object of the senses; and hence, by clear inference or implication to being generally, as far as the same is not the object of the senses; and again to whatever is affirmed or understood as the condition, or concomitant, or consequence of the same. This will be best explained by an instance or example. That I am conscious of something within me peremptorily commanding me to do unto others as I would they should do unto me; in other words a categorical (that is, primary and unconditional) imperative; that the maxim (regula maxima, or supreme rule) of my actions, both inward and outward, should be such as I could, without any contradiction arising therefrom, will to be the law of all moral and rational beings. This, I say, is a fact of which I am no less conscious (though in a different way), nor less assured, than I am of any appearance presented by my outward senses. Nor is this all; but in the very act of being conscious of this in my own nature, I know that it is a fact of which all men either are or ought to be conscious; a fact, the ignorance of which constitutes either the non-personality of the ignorant, or the guilt; in which latter case the ignorance is equivalent to knowledge wilfully darkened. I know that I possess this knowledge as a man, and not as Samuel Taylor Coleridge; hence, knowing that consciousness of this fact is the root of all other consciousness, and the only practical contradistinction of man from the brutes, we name it the conscience, by the natural absence or presumed presence of which the law, both Divine and human, determines whether X Y Z be a thing or a person; the conscience being that which never to have had places the objects in the same order of things as the brutes, for example, idiots, and to have lost which implies either insanity or apostasy. Well, this we have affirmed is a fact of which every honest man is as fully assured as of his seeing, hearing, or smelling. But though the former assurance does not differ from the latter in the degree, it is altogether diverse in the kind; the senses being morally passive, while the conscience is essentially connected with the will, though not always, nor indeed in any case, except after frequent attempts and aversions of will dependent on the choice. Thence we call the presentations of the senses impressions, those of the conscience commands or dictates. In the senses we find our receptivity, and as far as our personal being is concerned, we are passive, but in the fact of the conscience we are not only agents, but it is by this alone that we know ourselves to be such—nay, that our very passiveness in this latter is an act of passiveness, and that we are patient (patientes), not, as in the other case, SIMPLY passive.

The result is the consciousness of responsibility, and the proof is afforded by the inward experience of the diversity between regret and remorse.

If I have sound ears, and my companion speaks to me with a due proportion of voice, I may persuade him that I did not hear, but cannot deceive myself. But when my conscience speaks to me, I can by repeated efforts render myself finally insensible; to which add this other difference, namely, that to make myself deaf is one and the same thing with making my conscience dumb, till at length I became unconscious of my conscience. Frequent are the instances in which it is suspended, and, as it were, drowned in the inundation of the appetites, passions, and imaginations to which I have resigned myself, making use of my will in order to abandon my free-will; and there are not, I fear, examples wanting of the conscience being utterly destroyed, or of the passage of wickedness into madness; that species of madness, namely, in which the reason is lost. For so long as the reason continues, so long must the conscience exist, either as a good conscience or as a bad conscience.

It appears, then, that even the very first step—that the initiation of the process, the becoming conscious of a conscience—partakes of the nature of an act. It is an act in and by which we take upon ourselves an allegiance, and consequently the obligation of fealty; and this fealty or fidelity implying the power of being unfaithful, it is the first and fundamental sense of faith. It is likewise the commencement of experience, and the result of all other experience. In other words, conscience in this its simplest form, must be supposed in order to consciousness, that is, to human consciousness. Brutes may be and are scions, but those beings only who have an I, scire possunt hoc vel illud una cum seipsis; that is, conscire vel scire aliquid mecum, or to know a thing in relation to myself, and in the act of knowing myself as acted upon by that something.

Now the third person could never have been distinguished from the first but by means of the second. There can be no He without a previous Thou. Much less could an I exist for us except as it exists during the suspension of the will, as in dreams; and the nature of brutes may be best understood by considering them as somnambulists. This is a deep meditation, though the position is capable of the strictest proof, namely, that there can be no I without a Thou, and that a Thou is only possible by an equation in which I is taken as equal to Thou, and yet not the same. And this, again, is only possible by putting them in opposition as correspondent opposites, or correlatives. In order to this, a something must be affirmed in the one which is rejected in the other, and this something is the will. I do not will to consider myself as equal to myself, for in the very act of constructing myself I, I take it as the same, and therefore as incapable of comparison, that is, of any application of the will. If, then, I MINUS the will be the THESIS, Thou, PLUS will, must be the ANTITHESIS, but the equation of Thou with I, by means of a free act, negativing the sameness in order to establish the equality, is the true definition of conscience. But as without a Thou there can be no You, so without a You no They, These, or Those; and as all these conjointly form the materials and subjects of consciousness and the conditions of experience, it is evident that conscience is the root of all consciousness—a fortiori, the precondition of all experience—and that the conscience cannot have been in its first revelation deduced from experience.

Soon, however, experience comes into play. We learn that there are other impulses beside the dictates of conscience, that there are powers within us and without us ready to usurp the throne of conscience, and busy in tempting us to transfer our allegiance. We learn that there are many things contrary to conscience, and therefore to be rejected and utterly excluded, and many that can coexist with its supremacy only by being subjugated as beasts of burthen; and others again, as for instance the social tendernesses and affections, and the faculties and excitations of the intellect, which must be at least subordinated. The preservation of our loyalty and fealty under these trials, and against these rivals, constitutes the second sense of faith; and we shall need but one more point of view to complete its full import. This is the consideration of what is presupposed in the human conscience. The answer is ready. As in the equation of the correlative I and Thou, one of the twin constituents is to be taken as PLUS will, the other as MINUS will, so is it here; and it is obvious that the reason or SUPER-individual of each man, whereby he is a man, is the factor we are to take as MINUS will, and that the individual will or personalising principle of free agency ("arbitrement" is Milton's word) is the factor marked PLUS will; and again, that as the identity or co-inherence of the absolute will and the reason, is the peculiar character of God, so is the SYNTHESIS of the individual will and the common reason, by the subordination of the former to the latter, the only possible likeness or image of the PROTHESIS or identity, and therefore the required proper character of man. Conscience, then, is a witness respecting the identity of the will and the reason, effected by the self- subordination of the will or self to the reason, as equal to or representing the will of God. But the personal will is a factor in other moral SYNTHESIS, for example, appetite PLUS personal will = sensuality; lust of power, PLUS personal will = ambition, and so on, equally as in the SYNTHESIS on which the conscience is grounded. Not this, therefore, but the other SYNTHESIS, must supply the specific character of the conscience, and we must enter into an analysis of reason. Such as the nature and objects of the reason are, such must be the functions and objects of the conscience. And the former we shall best learn by recapitulating those constituents of the total man which are either contrary to or disparate from the reason.

I. Reason, and the proper objects of reason, are wholly alien from sensation. Reason is supersensual, and its antagonist is appetite, and the objects of appetite the lust of the flesh.

II. Reason and its objects do not appertain to the world of the senses, inward or outward; that is, they partake not of sense or fancy. Reason is supersensuous, and here its antagonist is the lust of the eye.

III. Reason and its objects are not things of reflection, association, discursion, discourse in the old sense of the word as opposed to intuition; "discursive or intuitive," as Milton has it. Reason does not indeed necessarily exclude the finite, either in time or in space, but it includes them eminenter. Thus the prime mover of the material universe is affirmed to contain all motion as its cause, but not to be, or to suffer, motion in itself.

Reason is not the faculty of the finite. But here I must premise the following. The faculty of the finite is that which reduces the confused impressions of sense to their essential forms—quantity, quality, relation, and in these action and reaction, cause and effect, and the like; thus raises the materials furnished by the senses and sensations into objects of reflection, and so makes experience possible. Without it, man's representative powers would be a delirium, a chaos, a scudding cloudage of shapes; and it is therefore most appropriately called the understanding, or substantiative faculty. Our elder metaphysicians, down to Hobbes inclusively, called this likewise discourse, discuvsus discursio, from its mode of action as not staying at any one object, but running, as it were, to and fro to abstract, generalise, and classify. Now when this faculty is employed in the service of the pure reason, it brings out the necessary and universal truths contained in the infinite into distinct contemplation by the pure act of the sensuous imagination—that is, in the production of the forms of space and time abstracted from all corporeity, and likewise of the inherent forms of the understanding itself abstractedly from the consideration of particulars, as in the case of geometry, numeral mathematics, universal logic, and pure metaphysics. The discursive faculty then becomes what our Shakespeare, with happy precision, calls "discourse of reason."

We will now take up our reasoning again from the words "motion in itself."

It is evident, then, that the reason as the irradiative power, and the representative of the infinite, judges the understanding as the faculty of the finite, and cannot without error be judged by it. When this is attempted, or when the understanding in its SYNTHESIS with the personal will, usurps the supremacy of the reason, or affects to supersede the reason, it is then what St. Paul calls the mind of the flesh ([Greek text]), or the wisdom of this world. The result is, that the reason is superfinite; and in this relation, its antagonist is the insubordinate understanding, or mind of the flesh.

IV. Reason, as one with the absolute will (IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE LOGOS, AND THE LOGOS WAS WITH GOD, AND THE LOGOS WAS GOD), and therefore for man the certain representative of the will of God, is above the will of man as an individual will. We have seen in III. that it stands in antagonism to all mere particulars; but here it stands in antagonism to all mere individual interests as so many selves, to the personal will as seeking its objects in the manifestation of itself for itself—sit pro ratione voluntas;— whether this be realised with adjuncts, as in the lust of the flesh, and in the lust of the eye; or without adjuncts, as in the thirst and pride of power, despotism, egoistic ambition. The fourth antagonist, then, of reason, is the lust of the will.

Corollary. Unlike a million of tigers, a million of men is very different from a million times one man. Each man in a numerous society is not only coexistent with, but virtually organised into, the multitude of which he is an integral part. His idem is modified by the alter. And there arise impulses and objects from this SYNTHESIS of the alter et idem, myself and my neighbour. This, again, is strictly analogous to what takes place in the vital organisation of the individual man. The cerebral system of the nerves has its correspondent ANTITHESIS in the abdominal system: but hence arises a SYNTHESIS of the two in the pectoral system as the intermediate, and, like a drawbridge, at once conductor and boundary. In the latter, as objectised by the former, arise the emotions, the affections, and, in one word, the passions, as distinguished from the cognitions and appetites. Now, the reason has been shown to be superindividual, generally, and therefore not less so when the form of an individualisation subsists in the alter than when it is confined to the idem; not less when the emotions have their conscious or believed object in another, than when their subject is the individual personal self. For though these emotions, affections, attachments, and the like, are the prepared ladder by which the lower nature is taken up into, and made to partake of, the highest room—as we are taught to give a feeling of reality to the higher per medium commune with the lower, and thus gradually to see the reality of the higher (namely, the objects of reason), and finally to know that the latter are indeed, and pre-eminently real, as if you love your earthly parents whom you see, by these means you will learn to love your Heavenly Father who is invisible;—yet this holds good only so far as the reason is the president, and its objects the ultimate aim; and cases may arise in which the Christ as the Logos, or Redemptive Reason, declares, HE THAT LOVES FATHER OR ANOTHER MORE THAN ME, IS NOT WORTHY OF ME; nay, he that can permit his emotions to rise to an equality with the universal reason, is in enmity with that reason. Here, then, reason appears as the love of God; and its antagonist is the attachment to individuals wherever it exists in diminution of, or in competition with, the love which is reason.

In these five paragraphs I have enumerated and explained the several powers or forces belonging or incidental to human nature, which in all matters of reason the man is bound either to subjugate or subordinate to reason. The application to faith follows of its own accord. The first or most indefinite sense of faith is fidelity: then fidelity under previous contract or particular moral obligation. In this sense faith is fealty to a rightful superior: faith is the duty of a faithful subject to a rightful governor. Then it is allegiance in active service; fidelity to the liege lord under circumstances, and amid the temptations of usurpation, rebellion, and intestine discord. Next we seek for that rightful superior on our duties to whom all our duties to all other superiors, on our faithfulness to whom all our bounden relations to all other objects of fidelity, are founded. We must inquire after that duty in which all others find their several degrees and dignities, and from which they derive their obligative force. We are to find a superior, whose rights, including our duties, are presented to the mind in the very idea of that Supreme Being, whose sovereign prerogatives are predicates implied in the subjects, as the essential properties of a circle are co-assumed in the first assumption of a circle, consequently underived, unconditional, and as rationally unsusceptible, so probably prohibitive, of all further question. In this sense, then, faith is fidelity, fealty, allegiance of the moral nature to God, in opposition to all usurpation, and in resistance to all temptation to the placing any other claim above or equal with our fidelity to God.

The will of God is the last ground and final aim of all our duties, and to that the whole man is to be harmonised by subordination, subjugation, or suppression alike in commission and omission. But the will of God, which is one with the supreme intelligence, is revealed to man through the conscience. But the conscience, which consists in an inappellable bearing-witness to the truth and reality of our reason, may legitimately be construed with the term reason, so far as the conscience is prescriptive; while as approving or condemning, it is the consciousness of the subordination or insubordination, the harmony or discord, of the personal will of man to and with the representative of the will of God. This brings me to the last and fullest sense of faith, that is, the obedience of the individual will to the reason, in the lust of the flesh as opposed to the supersensual; in the lust of the eye as opposed to the supersensuous; in the pride of the understanding as opposed to the infinite; in the [Greek text which cannot be reproduced] in contrariety to the spiritual truth; in the lust of the personal will as opposed to the absolute and universal; and in the love of the creature, as far as it is opposed to the love which is one with the reason, namely, the love of God.

Thus, then, to conclude. Faith subsists in the SYNTHESIS of the Reason and the individual Will. By virtue of the latter therefore, it must be an energy, and, inasmuch as it relates to the whole moral man, it must be exerted in each and all of his constituents or incidents, faculties and tendencies;—it must be a total, not a partial—a continuous, not a desultory or occasional—energy. And by virtue of the former, that is Reason, Faith must be a Light, a form of knowing, a beholding of truth. In the incomparable words of the Evangelist, therefore, FAITH MUST BE A LIGHT ORIGINATING IN THE LOGOS, OR THE SUBSTANTIAL REASON, WHICH IS CO-ETERNAL AND ONE WITH THE HOLY WILL, AND WHICH LIGHT IS AT THE SAME TIME THE LIFE OF MEN. Now, as LIFE is here the sum or collective of all moral and spiritual acts, in suffering, doing, and being, so is Faith the source and the sum, the energy and the principle of the fidelity of man to God, by the subordination of his human Will, in all provinces of his nature, to his Reason, as the sum of spiritual Truth, representing and manifesting the Will Divine.



A man may pray night and day, and yet deceive himself; but no man can be assured of his sincerity who does not pray. Prayer is faith passing into act; a union of the will and the intellect realising in an intellectual act. It is the whole man that prays. Less than this is wishing, or lip-work; a charm or a mummery. PRAY ALWAYS, says the apostle: that is, have the habit of prayer, turning your thoughts into acts by connecting them with the idea of the redeeming God, and even so reconverting your actions into thoughts.


The best preparation for taking this sacrament, better than any or all of the books or tracts composed for this end, is to read over and over again, and often on your knees—at all events with a kneeling and praying heart—the Gospel according to St. John, till your mind is familiarised to the contemplation of Christ, the Redeemer and Mediator of mankind, yea, of every creature, as the living and self- subsisting Word, the very truth of all true being, and the very being of all enduring truth; the reality, which is the substance and unity of all reality; THE LIGHT WHICH LIGHTETH EVERY MAN, so that what we call reason is itself a light from that light, lumen a luce, as the Latin more distinctly expresses this fact. But it is not merely light, but therein is life; and it is the life of Christ, the co- eternal Son of God, that is the only true life-giving light of men. We are assured, and we believe, that Christ is God; God manifested in the flesh. As God, he must be present entire in every creature;— (for how can God, or indeed any spirit, exist in parts?)—but he is said to dwell in the regenerate, to come to them who receive him by faith in his name, that is, in his power and influence; for this is the meaning of the word "name" in Scripture when applied to God or his Christ. Where true belief exists, Christ is not only present with or among us;—for so he is in every man, even the most wicked;— but to us and for us. THAT WAS THE TRUE LIGHT, WHICH LIGHTETH EVERY MAN THAT COMETH INTO THE WORLD. HE WAS IN THE WORLD, AND THE WORLD WAS MADE BY HIM, AND THE WORLD KNEW HIM NOT. BUT AS MANY AS RECEIVED HIM, TO THEM GAVE HE POWER TO BECOME THE SONS OF GOD, EVEN TO THEM THAT BELIEVE IN HIS NAME; WHICH WERE BORN, NOT OF BLOOD, NOR OF THE WILL OF THE FLESH, NOR OF THE WILL OF MAN, BUT OF GOD. AND THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH AND DWELT AMONG US. John i. 9-14. Again—WE WILL COME UNTO HIM, AND MAKE OUR ABODE WITH HIM. John xiv. 23. As truly and as really as your soul resides constitutively in your living body, personally and substantially does Christ dwell in every regenerate man.

After this course of study, you may then take up and peruse sentence by sentence the communion service, the best of all comments on the Scriptures appertaining to this mystery. And this is the preparation which will prove, with God's grace, the surest preventive of, or antidote against, the freezing poison, the lethargising hemlock, of the doctrine of the Sacramentaries, according to whom the Eucharist is a mere practical metaphor, in which things are employed instead of articulated sounds for the exclusive purpose of recalling to our minds the historical fact of our Lord's crucifixion; in short—(the profaneness is with them, not with me)—just the same as when Protestants drink a glass of wine to the glorious memory of William III.! True it is that the remembrance is one end of the sacrament; but it is, DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME,—of all that Christ was and is, hath done and is still doing for fallen mankind, and, of course, of his crucifixion inclusively, but not of his crucifixion alone. 14 December, 1827.


First, then, that we may come to this heavenly feast holy, and adorned with the wedding garment, Matt. xxii. ii, we must search our hearts, and examine our consciences, not only till we see our sins, but until we hate them.

But what if a man, seeing his sin, earnestly desire to hate it? Shall he not at the altar offer up at once his desire, and the yet lingering sin, and seek for strength? Is not this sacrament medicine as well as food? Is it an end only, and not likewise the means? Is it merely the triumphal feast; or is it not even more truly a blessed refreshment for and during the conflict?

This confession of sins must not be in general terms only, that we are sinners with the rest of mankind, but it must be a special declaration to God of all our most heinous sins in thought, word, and deed.

Luther was of a different judgment. He would have us feel and groan under our sinfulness and utter incapability of redeeming ourselves from the bondage, rather than hazard the pollution of our imaginations by a recapitulation and renewing of sins and their images in detail. Do not, he says, stand picking the flaws out one by one, but plunge into the river and drown them!—I venture to be of Luther's doctrine.


In the first Exhortation, before the words "meritorious Cross and Passion," I should propose to insert "his assumption of humanity, his incarnation, and." Likewise, a little lower down, after the word "sustenance," I would insert "as." For not in that sacrament exclusively, but in all the acts of assimilative faith, of which the Eucharist is a solemn, eminent, and representative instance, an instance and the symbol, Christ is our spiritual food and sustenance.


Marriage, simply as marriage, is not the means "for the procreation of children," but for the humanisation of the offspring procreated. Therefore, in the Declaration at the beginning, after the words "procreation of children," I would insert, "and as the means of securing to the children procreated enduring care, and that they may be," &c.


Third rubric at the end.

But if a man, either by reason of extremity of sickness, &c.

I think this rubric, in what I conceive to be its true meaning, a precious doctrine, as fully acquitting our Church of all Romish superstition, respecting the nature of the Eucharist, in relation to the whole scheme of man's redemption. But the latter part of it—"he doth eat and drink the Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ profitably to his soul's health, although he do not receive the sacrament with his mouth"—seems to me very incautiously expressed, and scarcely to be reconciled with the Church's own definition of a sacrament in general. For in such a case, where is "the outward and visible sign of the inward and spiritual grace given?"


Epistle.—l Cor. xv. 1.

Brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you.

Why should the obsolete, though faithful, Saxon translation of [Greek text which cannot be reproduced] be retained? Why not "good tidings?" Why thus change a most appropriate and intelligible designation of the matter into a mere conventional name of a particular book?


- how that Christ died for our sins.

But the meaning of [Greek text which cannot be reproduced] is, that Christ died through the sins, and for the sinners. He died through our sins, and we live through his righteousness.

Gospel—Luke xviii. 14.

This man went down to his house justified rather than the other.

Not simply justified, observe; but justified rather than the other, [Greek text which cannot be reproduced],—that is, less remote from salvation.



- that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded.

Rather—"that with that enlarged capacity, which without thee we cannot acquire, there may likewise be an increase of the gift, which from thee alone we can wholly receive."


V. 2. Out of the mouth of very babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength, because of thine enemies; that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

To the dispensations of the twilight dawn, to the first messengers of the redeeming word, the yet lisping utterers of light and life, a strength and power were given BECAUSE OF THE ENEMIES, greater and of more immediate influence, than to the seers and proclaimers of a clearer day: even as the first reappearing crescent of the eclipsed moon shines for men with a keener brilliance than the following larger segments, previously to its total emersion.

Ib. v. 5.

Thou madest him lower than the angels, to crown him with glory and worship.

Power + idea = angel. Idea—power = man, or Prometheus.


V. 34. Ascribe ye the power to God over Israel: his worship and strength is in the clouds.

The "clouds," in the symbolical language of the Scriptures, mean the events and course of things, seemingly effects of human will or chance, but overruled by Providence.


This psalm admits no other interpretation but of Christ, as the Jehovah incarnate. In any other sense it would be a specimen of more than Persian or Moghul hyperbole, and bombast, of which there is no other instance in Scripture, and which no Christian would dare to attribute to an inspired writer. We know, too, that the elder Jewish Church ranked it among the Messianic Psalms.—N.B. The word in St. John and the Name of the Most High in the Psalms are equivalent terms.

V. 1. Give the king thy judgments, O God; and thy righteousness unto the king's son.

God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, the only begotten, the Son of God and God, King of Kings, and the Son of the King of Kings!


V. 2. O think upon thy congregation, whom thou hast purchased and redeemed of old.

The Lamb sacrificed from the beginning of the world, the God-Man, the Judge, the self-promised Redeemer to Adam in the garden!

V. 15. Thou smotest the heads of the Leviathan in pieces; and gavest him to be meat for the people in the wilderness.

Does this allude to any real tradition? The Psalms appears to have been composed shortly before the captivity of Judah.

Ps. LXXXII. vv. 6-7.

The reference which our Lord made to these mysterious verses gives them an especial interest. The first apostasy, the fall of the angels, is, perhaps, intimated.


I would fain understand this Psalm; but first I must collate it word by word with the original Hebrew. It seems clearly Messianic.


Vv. 10-12. Dost thou show wonders among the dead, or shall the dead rise up again and praise thee? &c.

Compare Ezekiel xxxvii.

Ps. CIV.

I think the Bible version might with advantage be substituted for this, which in some parts is scarcely intelligible.

V. 6.—the waters stand in the hills.

No; STOOD ABOVE THE MOUNTAINS. The reference is to the Deluge.

Ps. CV.


If even to seek the Lord be joy, what will it be to find him? Seek me, O Lord, that I may be found by thee!

Ps. CX.


V. 3. Understand—"Thy people shall offer themselves willingly in the day of conflict in holy clothing, in their best array, in their best arms and accoutrements. As the dew from the womb of the morning, in number and brightness like dew-drops, so shall be thy youth, or the youth of thee, the young volunteer warriors."

V. 5. "He shall shake," concuss, concutiet reges die irae suae.

V. 6. For "smite in sunder, or wound the heads;" some word answering to the Latin conquassare.

V. 7. For "therefore," translate "then shall he lift up his head again;" that is, as a man languid and sinking from thirst and fatigue after refreshment.

N.B.—I see no poetic discrepancy between vv. 1 and 5.


To be interpreted of Christ's Church.


V. 5. As the rivers in the south.

Does this allude to the periodical rains?

As a transparency on some night of public rejoicing, seen by common day, with the lamps from within removed—even such would the Psalms be to me uninterpreted by the Gospel. O honoured Mr. Hurwitz! Could I but make you feel what grandeur, what magnificence, what an everlasting significance and import Christianity gives to every fact of your national history—to every page of your sacred records!


XX. It is mournful to think how many recent writers have criminated our Church in consequence of their ignorance and inadvertence in not knowing, or not noticing, the contradistinction here meant between power and authority. Rites and ceremonies the Church may ordain jure proprio: on matters of faith her judgment is to be received with reverence, and not gainsayed but after repeated inquiries, and on weighty grounds.

XXXVII. It is lawful for Christian men, at the commandment of the magistrate, to wear weapons, and to serve in wars.

This is a very good instance of an unseemly matter neatly wrapped up. The good men recoiled from the plain words—"It is lawful for Christian men at the Command of a king to slaughter as many Christians as they can!"

Well! I could most sincerely subscribe to all these articles. September, 1831.


Almighty God, by thy eternal Word my Creator Redeemer and Preserver! who hast in thy free communicative goodness glorified me with the capability of knowing thee, the one only absolute Good, the eternal I Am, as the author of my being, and of desiring and seeking thee as its ultimate end;—who, when I fell from thee into the mystery of the false and evil will, didst not abandon me, poor self-lost creature, but in thy condescending mercy didst provide an access and a return to thyself, even to thee the Holy One, in thine only begotten Son, the way and the truth from everlasting, and who took on himself humanity, yea, became flesh, even the man Christ Jesus, that for man he might be the life and the resurrection!—O Giver of all good gifts, who art thyself the one only absolute Good, from whom I have received whatever good I have, whatever capability of good there is in me, and from thee good alone,—from myself and my own corrupted will all evil and the consequents of evil,—with inward prostration of will, mind, and affections I adore thy infinite majesty; I aspire to love thy transcendent goodness!—In a deep sense of my unworthiness, and my unfitness to present myself before thee, of eyes too pure to behold iniquity, and whose light, the beautitude of spirits conformed to thy will, is a consuming fire to all vanity and corruption;—but in the name of the Lord Jesus, of the dear Son of thy love, in whose perfect obedience thou deignest to behold as many as have received the seed of Christ into the body of this death;—I offer this, my bounden nightly sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, in humble trust that the fragrance of my Saviour's righteousness may remove from it the taint of my mortal corruption. Thy mercies have followed me through all the hours and moments of my life; and now I lift up my heart in awe and thankfulness for the preservation of my life through the past day, for the alleviation of my bodily sufferings and languors, for the manifold comforts which thou hast reserved for me, yea, in thy fatherly compassion hast rescued from the wreck of my own sins or sinful infirmities;—for the kind and affectionate friends thou hast raised up for me, especially for those of this household, for the mother and mistress of this family, whose love to me hath been great and faithful, and for the dear friend, the supporter and sharer of my studies and researches; but, above all, for the heavenly Friend, the crucified Saviour, the glorified Mediator, Christ Jesus, and for the heavenly Comforter, source of all abiding comforts, thy Holy Spirit! O grant me the aid of thy Spirit, that I may with a deeper faith, a more enkindled love, bless thee, who through thy Son hast privileged me to call thee Abba, Father! O, thou, who hast revealed thyself in thy holy word as a God that hearest prayer; before whose infinitude all differences cease of great and small; who like a tender parent foreknowest all our wants, yet listenest well-pleased to the humble petitions of thy children; who hast not alone permitted, but taught us; to call on thee in all our needs,—earnestly I implore the continuance of thy free mercy, of thy protecting providence, through the coming night. Thou hearest every prayer offered to thee believingly with a penitent and sincere heart. For thou in withholding grantest, healest in inflicting the wound, yea, turnest all to good for as many as truly seek thee through Christ, the Mediator! Thy will be done! But if it be according to thy wise and righteous ordinances, O shield me this night from the assaults of disease, grant me refreshment of sleep unvexed by evil and distempered dreams; and if the purpose and aspiration of my heart be upright before thee, who alone knowest the heart of man, O in thy mercy vouchsafe me yet in this my decay of life an interval of ease and strength; if so (thy grace disposing and assisting) I may make compensation to thy Church for the unused talents thou hast entrusted to me, for the neglected opportunities which thy loving-kindness had provided. O let me be found a labourer in the vineyard, though of the late hour, when the Lord and Heir of the vintage, Christ Jesus, calleth for his servant.

Our Father, &c.

To thee, great omnipresent Spirit, whose mercy is over all thy works, who now beholdest me, who hearest me, who hast framed my heart to seek and to trust in thee, in the name of my Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus, I humbly commit and commend my body, soul, and spirit.

Glory be to thee, O God!



Fortuna plerumque est veluti Galaxia quarundam obscurarum Virtutum sine nomine. BACON.

(Translation)—Fortune is for the most part but a galaxy or milky way, as it were, of certain obscure virtues without a name.

"Does Fortune favour fools? Or how do you explain the origin of the proverb, which, differently worded, is to be found in all the languages of Europe?"

This proverb admits of various explanations, according to the mood of mind in which it is used. It may arise from pity, and the soothing persuasion that Providence is eminently watchful over the helpless, and extends an especial care to those who are not capable of caring for themselves. So used, it breathes the same feeling as "God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb"—or the more sportive adage, that "the fairies take care of children and tipsy folk." The persuasion itself, in addition to the general religious feeling of mankind, and the scarcely less general love of the marvellous, may be accounted for from our tendency to exaggerate all effects that seem disproportionate to their visible cause, and all circumstances that are in any way strongly contrasted with our notions of the persons under them. Secondly, it arises from the safety and success which an ignorance of danger and difficulty sometimes actually assists in procuring; inasmuch as it precludes the despondence, which might have kept the more foresighted from undertaking the enterprise, the depression which would retard its progress, and those overwhelming influences of terror in cases where the vivid perception of the danger constitutes the greater part of the danger itself. Thus men are said to have swooned and even died at the sight of a narrow bridge, over which they had ridden, the night before, in perfect safety; or at tracing the footmarks along the edge of a precipice which the darkness had concealed from them. A more obscure cause, yet not wholly to be omitted, is afforded by the undoubted fact that the exertion of the reasoning faculties tends to extinguish or bedim those mysterious instincts of skill, which, though for the most part latent, we nevertheless possess in common with other animals.

Or the proverb may be used invidiously; and folly in the vocabulary of envy or baseness may signify courage and magnanimity. Hardihood and fool-hardiness are indeed as different as green and yellow, yet will appear the same to the jaundiced eye. Courage multiplies the chances of success by sometimes making opportunities, and always availing itself of them: and in this sense Fortune may be said to favour fools by those who, however prudent in their own opinion, are deficient in valour and enterprise. Again: an emiently good and wise man, for whom the praises of the judicious have procured a high reputation even with the world at large, proposes to himself certain objects, and adapting the right means to the right end attains them; but his objects not being what the world calls fortune, neither money nor artificial rank, his admitted inferiors in moral and intellectual worth, but more prosperous in their worldly concerns, are said to have been favoured by Fortune and be slighted; although the fools did the same in their line as the wise man in his; they adapted the appropriate means to the desired end, and so succeeded. In this sense the proverb is current by a misuse, or a catachresis at least, of both the words, fortune and fools.

How seldom, friend, a good great man inherits Honour or wealth with all his worth and pains! It sounds like stories from the land of spirits, If any man obtain that which he merits, Or any merit that which he obtains.


For shame! dear friend, renounce this canting strain; What would'st thou have a good great man obtain? Place? titles? salary? a gilded chain? Or throne of corses which his sword hath slain? Greatness and goodness are not means, but ends! Hath he not always treasures, always friends, The good great man? Three treasures, love, and light, And calm thoughts regular as infant's breath: And three firm friends, more sure than day and night, Himself, his Maker, and the angel Death. S. T. C.

But, lastly, there is, doubtless, a true meaning attached to fortune, distinct both from prudence and from courage; and distinct too from that absence of depressing or bewildering passions, which (according to my favourite proverb, "extremes meet,") the fool not seldom obtains in as great perfection by his ignorance as the wise man by the highest energies of thought and self-discipline. Luck has a real existence in human affairs, from the infinite number of powers that are in action at the same time, and from the co-existence of things contingent and accidental (such as to US at least are accidental) with the regular appearances and general laws of nature. A familiar instance will make these words intelligible. The moon waxes and wanes according to a necessary law. The clouds likewise, and all the manifold appearances connected with them, are governed by certain laws no less than the phases of the moon. But the laws which determine the latter are known and calculable, while those of the former are hidden from us. At all events, the number and variety of their effects baffle our powers of calculation; and that the sky is clear or obscured at any particular time, we speak of, in common language, as a matter of accident. Well! at the time of the full moon, but when the sky is completely covered with black clouds, I am walking on in the dark, aware of no particular danger: a sudden gust of wind rends the cloud for a moment, and the moon emerging discloses to me a chasm or precipice, to the very brink of which I had advanced my foot. This is what is meant by luck, and according to the more or less serious mood or habit of our mind we exclaim, how lucky! or, how providential! The co-presence of numberless phaenomena, which from the complexity or subtlety of their determining causes are called contingencies, and the co-existence of these with any regular or necessary phaenomenon (as the clouds with the moon for instance), occasion coincidences, which, when they are attended by any advantage or injury, and are at the same time incapable of being calculated or foreseen by human prudence, form good or ill luck. On a hot sunshiny afternoon came on a sudden storm and spoilt the farmer's hay; and this is called ill luck. We will suppose the same event to take place, when meteorology shall have been perfected into a science, provided with unerring instruments; but which the farmer had neglected to examine. This is no longer ill luck, but imprudence. Now apply this to our proverb. Unforeseen coincidences may have greatly helped a man, yet if they have done for him only what possibly from his own abilities he might have effected for himself, his good luck will excite less attention and the instances be less remembered. That clever men should attain their objects seems natural, and we neglect the circumstances that perhaps produced that success of themselves without the intervention of skill or foresight; but we dwell on the fact and remember it, as something strange, when the same happens to a weak or ignorant man. So, too, though the latter should fail in his undertakings from concurrences that might have happened to the wisest man, yet his failure being no more than might have been expected and accounted for from his folly, it lays no hold on our attention, but fleets away among the other undistinguished waves, in which the stream of ordinary life murmurs by us, and is forgotten. Had it been as true as it was notoriously false, that those all-embracing discoveries, which have shed a dawn of science on the art of chemistry, and give no obscure promise of some one great constitutive law, in the light of which dwell dominion and the power of prophecy; if these discoveries, instead of having been as they really were, preconcerted by meditation, and evolved out of his own intellect, had occurred by a set of lucky accidents to the illustrious father and founder of philosophic alchemy; if they presented themselves to Sir Humphry Davy exclusively in consequence of his luck in possessing a particular galvanic battery; if this battery, as far as Davy was concerned, had itself been an accident, and not (as in point of fact it was) desired and obtained by him for the purpose of insuring the testimony of experience to his principles, and in order to bind down material nature under the inquisition of reason, and force from her, as by torture, unequivocal answers to prepared and preconceived questions—yet still they would not have been talked of or described, as instances of LUCK, but as the natural results of his admitted genius and known skill. But should an accident have disclosed similar discoveries to a mechanic at Birmingham or Sheffield, and if the man should grow rich in consequence, and partly by the envy of his neighbours, and partly with good reason, be considered by them as a man below par in the general powers of his understanding; then, "Oh, what a lucky fellow! Well, Fortune does favour fools—that's certain! It is always so!"— and forthwith the exclaimer relates half a dozen similar instances. Thus accumulating the one sort of facts and never collecting the other, we do, as poets in their diction, and quacks of all denominations do in their reasoning, put a part for the whole, and at once soothe our envy and gratify our love of the marvellous, by the sweeping proverb, "Fortune favours fools."


Quod me non movet aestimatione: Verum est [Greek text which cannot be reproduced] mei sodalis. CATULL. xii.

(Translation.)—It interests not by any conceit of its value; but it is a remembrance of my honoured friend.

The philosophic ruler, who secured the favours of fortune by seeking wisdom and knowledge in preference to them, has pathetically observed—"The heart knoweth its own bitterness; and there is a joy in which the stranger intermeddleth not." A simple question founded on a trite proverb, with a discursive answer to it, would scarcely suggest to an indifferent person any other notion than that of a mind at ease, amusing itself with its own activity. Once before (I believe about this time last year), I had taken up the old memorandum book, from which I transcribed the preceding essay, and they had then attracted my notice by the name of the illustrious chemist mentioned in the last illustration. Exasperated by the base and cowardly attempt that had been made to detract from the honours due to his astonishing genius, I had slightly altered the concluding sentences, substituting the more recent for his earlier discoveries; and without the most distant intention of publishing what I then wrote, I had expressed my own convictions for the gratification of my own feelings, and finished by tranquilly paraphrasing into a chemical allegory the Homeric adventure of Menelaus with Proteus. Oh! with what different feelings, with what a sharp and sudden emotion did I re-peruse the same question yester-morning, having by accident opened the book at the page upon which it was written. I was moved; for it was Admiral Sir Alexander Ball who first proposed the question to me, and the particular satisfaction which he expressed had occasioned me to note down the substance of my reply. I was moved; because to this conversation I was indebted for the friendship and confidence with which he afterwards honoured me, and because it recalled the memory of one of the most delightful mornings I ever passed; when, as we were riding together, the same person related to me the principal events of his own life, and introduced them by adverting to this conversation. It recalled too the deep impression left on my mind by that narrative—the impression that I had never known any analogous instance, in which a man so successful had been so little indebted to fortune, or lucky accidents, or so exclusively both the architect and builder of his own success. The sum of his history may be comprised in this one sentence—Haec, sab numine, nobismet fecimas, sapientia duce, fortune permittente. (i.e. These things under God, we have done for ourselves, through the guidance of wisdom, and with the permission of fortune.) Luck gave him nothing: in her most generous moods, she only worked with him as with a friend, not for him as for a fondling; but more often she simply stood neuter, and suffered him to work for himself. Ah! how could I be otherwise than affected by whatever reminded me of that daily and familiar intercourse with him, which made the fifteen months from May, 1804, to October, 1805, in many respects the most memorable and instructive period of my life? Ah! how could I be otherwise than most deeply affected, when there was still lying on my table the paper which the day before had conveyed to me the unexpected and most awful tidings of this man's death? his death in the fulness of all his powers, in the rich autumn of ripe yet undecaying manhood! I once knew a lady who, after the loss of a lovely child, continued for several days in a state of seeming indifference, the weather at the same time, as if in unison with her, being calm, though gloomy; till one morning a burst of sunshine breaking in upon her, and suddenly lighting up the room where she was sitting, she dissolved at once into tears, and wept passionately. In no very dissimilar manner did the sudden gleam of recollection at the sight of this memorandum act on myself. I had been stunned by the intelligence, as by an outward blow, till this trifling incident startled and disentranced me; the sudden pang shivered through my whole frame; and if I repressed the outward shows of sorrow, it was by force that I repressed them, and because it is not by tears that I ought to mourn for the loss of Sir Alexander Ball.

He was a man above his age; but for that very reason the age has the more need to have the master-features of his character portrayed and preserved. This I feel it my duty to attempt, and this alone; for having received neither instructions nor permission from the family of the deceased, I cannot think myself allowed to enter into the particulars of his private history, strikingly as many of them would illustrate the elements and composition of his mind. For he was indeed a living confutation of the assertion attributed to the Prince of Conde, that no man appeared great to his valet de chambre—a saying which, I suspect, owes its currency less to its truth than to the envy of mankind, and the misapplication of the word great, to actions unconnected with reason and free will. It will be sufficient for my purpose to observe that the purity and strict propriety of his conduct, which precluded rather than silenced calumny, the evenness of his temper, and his attentive and affectionate manners in private life, greatly aided and increased his public utility; and, if it should please Providence that a portion of his spirit should descend with his mantle, the virtues of Sir Alexander Ball, as a master, a husband, and a parent, will form a no less remarkable epoch in the moral history of the Maltese than his wisdom, as a governor, has made in that of their outward circumstances. That the private and personal qualities of a first magistrate should have political effects will appear strange to no reflecting Englishman, who has attended to the workings of men's minds during the first ferment of revolutionary principles, and must therefore have witnessed the influence of our own sovereign's domestic character in counteracting them. But in Malta there were circumstances which rendered such an example peculiarly requisite and beneficent. The very existence for so many generations of an order of lay celibates in that island, who abandoned even the outward shows of an adherence to their vow of chastity, must have had pernicious effects on the morals of the inhabitants. But when it is considered too that the Knights of Malta had been for the last fifty years or more a set of useless idlers, generally illiterate, for they thought literature no part of a soldier's excellence; and yet effeminate, for they were soldiers in name only; when it is considered that they were, moreover, all of them aliens, who looked upon themselves not merely as of a superior rank to the native nobles, but as beings of a different race (I had almost said species) from the Maltese collectively; and finally, that these men possessed exclusively the government of the island; it may be safely concluded that they were little better than a perpetual influenza, relaxing and diseasing the hearts of all the families within their sphere of influence. Hence the peasantry, who fortunately were below their reach, notwithstanding the more than childish ignorance in which they were kept by their priests, yet compared with the middle and higher classes, were both in mind and body as ordinary men compared with dwarfs. Every respectable family had some one knight for their patron, as a matter of course; and to him the honour of a sister or a daughter was sacrificed, equally as a matter of course. But why should I thus disguise the truth? Alas! in nine instances out of ten, this patron was the common paramour of every female in the family. Were I composing a state memorial I should abstain from all allusion to moral good or evil, as not having now first to learn, that with diplomatists and with practical statesmen of every denomination, it would preclude all attention to its other contents, and have no result but that of securing for its author's name the official private mark of exclusion or dismission, as a weak or suspicions person. But among those for whom I am now writing, there are, I trust, many who will think it not the feeblest reason for rejoicing in our possession of Malta, and not the least worthy motive for wishing its retention, that one source of human misery and corruption has been dried up. Such persons will hear the name of Sir Alexander Ball with additional reverence, as of one who has made the protection of Great Britain a double blessing to the Maltese, and broken "THE BONDS OF INIQUITY" as well as unlocked the fetters of political oppression.

When we are praising the departed by our own firesides, we dwell most fondly on those qualities which had won our personal affection, and which sharpen our individual regrets. But when impelled by a loftier and more meditative sorrow, we would raise a public monument to their memory, we praise them appropriately when we relate their actions faithfully; and thus preserving their example for the imitation of the living alleviate the loss, while we demonstrate its magnitude. My funeral eulogy of Sir Alexander Ball must therefore he a narrative of his life; and this friend of mankind will be defrauded of honour in proportion as that narrative is deficient and fragmentary. It shall, however, be as complete as my information enables, and as prudence and a proper respect for the feelings of the living permit me to render it. His fame (I adopt the words of our elder writers) is so great throughout the world that he stands in no need of an encomium; and yet his worth is much greater these his fame. It is impossible not to speak great things of him, and yet it will be very difficult to speak what he deserves. But custom requires that something should be said; it is a duty and a debt which we owe to ourselves and to mankind, not less than to his memory; and I hope his great soul, if it hath any knowledge of what is done here below, will not be offended at the smallness even of my offering.

Ah, how little, when among the subjects of The Friend I promised "Characters met with in Real Life," did I anticipate the sad event, which compels one to weave on a cypress branch those sprays of laurel which I had destined for his bust, not his monument! He lived as we should all live; and, I doubt not, left the world as we should all wish to leave it. Such is the power of dispensing blessings, which Providence has attached to the truly great and good, that they cannot even die without advantage to their fellow-creatures; for death consecrates their example, and the wisdom, which might have been slighted at the council-table, becomes oracular from the shrine. Those rare excellences, which make our grief poignant, make it likewise profitable; and the tears which wise men shed for the departure of the wise, are among those that are preserved in heaven. It is the fervent aspiration of my spirit, that I may so perform the task which private gratitude and public duty impose on me, that "as God hath cut this tree of paradise down from its seat of earth, the dead trunk may yet support a part of the declining temple, or at least serve to kindle the fire on the altar."


Si partem tacuisse velim, quodeumque relinquam, Majus erit. Veteres actus, primamque juventam Prosequar? Ad sese mentem praesentia ducunt. Narrem justitiam? Resplendet gloria Martis. Armati referam vires? Plus egit inermis. CLAUDIAN DE LAUD. STIL.

(Translations.)—If I desire to pass over a part in silence, whatever I omit will seem the most worthy to have been recorded. Shall I pursue his old exploits and early youth? His recent merits recall the mind to themselves. Shall I dwelt on his justice? The glory of the warrior rises before me resplendent. Shall I relate his strength in arms? He performed yet greater things unarmed.

"There is something," says Harrington, in the Preliminaries to the Oceana, "first in the making of a commonwealth, then in the governing of it, and last of all in the leading of its armies, which though there be great divines, great lawyers, great men in all ranks of life, seems to be peculiar only to the genius of a gentleman. For so it is in the universal series of history, that if any man has founded a commonwealth, he was first a gentleman." Such also, he adds, as have got any fame as civil governors, have been gentlemen, or persons of known descents. Sir Alexander Ball was a gentleman by birth; a younger brother of an old and respectable family in Gloucestershire. He went into the navy at an early age from his own choice, and, as he himself told me, in consequence of the deep impression and vivid images left on his mind by the perusal of "Robinson Crusoe." It is not my intention to detail the steps of his promotion, or the services in which he was engaged as a subaltern. I recollect many particulars indeed, but not the dates, with such distinctness as would enable me to state them (as it would be necessary to do if I stated them at all) in the order of time. These dates might perhaps have been procured from the metropolis; but incidents that are neither characteristic nor instructive, even such as would be expected with reason in a regular life, are no part of my plan; while those which are both interesting and illustrative I have been precluded from mentioning, some from motives which have been already explained, and others from still higher considerations. The most important of these may be deduced from a reflection with which he himself once concluded a long and affecting narration: namely, that no body of men can for any length of time be safely treated otherwise than as rational beings; and that, therefore, the education of the lower classes was of the utmost consequence to the permanent security of the empire, even for the sake of our navy. The dangers, apprehended from the education of the lower classes, arose (he said) entirely from its not being universal, and from the unusualness in the lowest classes of those accomplishments which he, like Dr. Bell, regarded as one of the means of education, and not as education itself. If, he observed, the lower classes in general possessed but one eye or one arm, the few who were so fortunate as to possess two would naturally become vain and restless, and consider themselves as entitled to a higher situation. He illustrated this by the faults attributed to learned women, and that the same objections were formerly made to educating women at all; namely, that their knowledge made them vain, affected, and neglectful of their proper duties. Now that all women of condition are well educated, we hear no more of these apprehensions, or observe any instances to justify them. Yet if a lady understood the Greek one-tenth part as well as the whole circle of her acquaintances understood the French language, it would not surprise us to find her less pleasing from the consciousness of her superiority in the possession of an unusual advantage. Sir Alexander Ball quoted the speech of an old admiral, one of whose two great wishes was to have a ship's crew composed altogether of serious Scotchmen. He spoke with great reprobation of the vulgar notion, the worse man the better sailor. Courage, he said, was the natural product of familiarity with danger, which thoughtlessness would oftentimes turn into fool-hardiness; and that he always found the most usefully brave sailors the gravest and most rational of his crew. The best sailor he had ever had, first attracted his notice by the anxiety which he expressed concerning the means of remitting some money, which he had received in the West Indies, to his sister in England; and this man, without any tinge of Methodism, was never heard to swear an oath, and was remarkable for the firmness with which he devoted a part of every Sunday to the reading of his Bible. I record this with satisfaction as a testimony of great weight, and in all respects unexceptionable; for Sir Alexander Ball's opinions throughout life remained unwarped by zealotry, and were those of a mind seeking after truth, in calmness and complete self-possession. He was much pleased with an unsuspicious testimony furnished by Dampier (vol. ii. part 2, page 89): "I have particularly observed," writes this famous old navigator, "there and in other places, that such as had been well-bred were generally most careful to improve their time, and would be very industrious and frugal where there was any probability of considerable gain; but on the contrary, such as had been bred up in ignorance and hard labour, when they came to have plenty would extravagantly squander away their time and money in drinking and making a bluster." Indeed it is a melancholy proof how strangely power warps the minds of ordinary men, that there can be a doubt on this subject among persons who have been themselves educated. It tempts a suspicion that, unknown to themselves, they find a comfort in the thought, that their inferiors are something less than men; or that they have an uneasy half-consciousness that, if this were not the case, they would themselves have no claim to be their superiors. For a sober education naturally inspires self- respect. But he who respects himself will respect others; and he who respects both himself and others, must of necessity be a brave man. The great importance of this subject, and the increasing interest which good men of all denominations feel in the bringing about of a national education, must be my excuse for having entered so minutely into Sir Alexander Ball's opinions on this head, in which, however, I am the more excusable, being now on that part of his life which I am obliged to leave almost a blank.

During his lieutenancy, and after he had perfected himself in the knowledge and duties of a practical sailor, he was compelled by the state of his health to remain in England for a considerable length of time. Of this he industriously availed himself to the acquirement of substantial knowledge from books; and during his whole life afterwards, he considered those as his happiest hours, which, without any neglect of official or professional duty, he could devote to reading. He preferred, indeed he almost confined himself to, history, political economy, voyages and travels, natural history, and latterly agricultural works; in short, to such books as contain specific facts or practical principles capable of specific application. His active life, and the particular objects of immediate utility, some one of which he had always in his view, precluded a taste for works of pure speculation and abstract science, though he highly honoured those who were eminent in these respects, and considered them as the benefactors of mankind, no less than those who afterwards discovered the mode of applying their principles, or who realised them in practice. Works of amusement, as novels, plays, etc., did not appear even to amuse him; and the only poetical composition of which I have ever heard him speak, was a manuscript poem written by one of my friends, which I read to his lady in his presence. To my surprise he afterwards spoke of this with warm interest; but it was evident to me that it was not so much the poetic merit of the composition that had interested him, as the truth and psychological insight with which it represented the practicability of reforming the most hardened minds, and the various accidents which may awaken the most brutalised person to a recognition of his nobler being. I will add one remark of his own knowledge acquired from books, which appears to me both just and valuable. The prejudice against such knowledge, he said, and the custom of opposing it to that which is learnt by practice, originated in those times when books were almost confined to theology, and to logical and metaphysical subtleties; but that at present there is scarcely any practical knowledge which is not to be found in books. The press is the means by which intelligent men now converse with each other, and persons of all classes and all pursuits convey each the contribution of his individual experience. It was, therefore, he said, as absurd to hold book-knowledge at present in contempt, as it would be for a man to avail himself only of his own eyes and ears, and to aim at nothing which could not be performed exclusively by his own arms. The use and necessity of personal experience consisted in the power of choosing and applying what had been read, and of discriminating by the light of analogy the practicable from the impracticable, and probability from mere plausibility. Without a judgment matured and steadied by actual experience, a man would read to little or perhaps to bad purpose; but yet that experience, which in exclusion of all other knowledge has been derived from one man's life, is in the present day scarcely worthy of the name—at least for those who are to act in the higher and wider spheres of duty. An ignorant general, he said, inspired him with terror; for if he were too proud to take advice he would ruin himself by his own blunders, and if he—were not, by adopting the worst that was offered. A great genius may indeed form an exception, but we do not lay down rules in expectation of wonders. A similar remark I remember to have heard from a gallant officer, who to eminence in professional science and the gallantry of a tried soldier, adds all the accomplishments of a sound scholar and the powers of a man of genius.

One incident, which happened at this period of Sir Alexander's life, is so illustrative of his character, and furnishes so strong a presumption, that the thoughtful humanity by which he was distinguished was not wholly the growth of his latter years, that, though it may appear to some trifling in itself, I will insert it in this place with the occasion on which it was communicated to me. In a large party at the Grand Master's palace, I had observed a naval officer of distinguished merit listening to Sir Alexander Ball, whenever he joined in the conversation, with so marked a pleasure that it seemed as if his very voice, independent of what he said, had been delightful to him; and once, as he fixed his eyes on Sir Alexander Ball, I could not but notice the mixed expressions of awe and affection, which gave a more than common interest to so manly a countenance. During his stay in the island, this officer honoured me not unfrequently with his visits; and at the conclusion of my last conversation with him, in which I had dwelt on the wisdom of the Governor's conduct in a recent and difficult emergency, he told me that he considered himself as indebted to the same excellent person for that which was dearer to him than his life. "Sir Alexander Ball," said he, "has, I dare say, forgotten the circumstance; but when he was Lieutenant Ball, he was the officer whom I accompanied in my first boat expedition, being then a midshipman and only in my fourteenth year. As we were rowing up to the vessel which we were to attack, amid a discharge of musketry, I was overpowered by fear, my knees trembled under me, and I seemed on the point of fainting away. Lieutenant Ball, who saw the condition I was in, placed himself close beside me, and still keeping his countenance directed toward the enemy, took hold of my hand, and pressing it in the most friendly manner, said in a low voice, 'Courage, my dear boy! don't be afraid of yourself! you will recover in a minute or so. I was just the same when I first went out in this way.' Sir," added the officer to me, "it was as if an angel had put a new soul into me. With the feeling that I was not yet dishonoured, the whole burden of agony was removed, and from that moment I was as fearless and forward as the oldest of the boat's crew, and on our return the lieutenant spoke highly of me to our captain. I am scarcely less convinced of my own being than that I should have been what I tremble to think of, if, instead of his humane encouragement, he had at that moment scoffed, threatened, or reviled me. And this was the more kind in him, because, as I afterwards understood, his own conduct in his first trial had evinced to all appearances the greatest fearlessness, and that he said this, therefore, only to give me heart and restore me to my own good opinion."

This anecdote, I trust, will have some weight with those who may have lent an ear to any of those vague calumnies from which no naval commander can secure his good name, who knowing the paramount necessity of regularity and strict discipline in a ship of war, adopts an appropriate plan for the attainment of these objects, and remains constant and immutable in the execution. To an Athenian, who, in praising a public functionary, had said, that every one either applauded him or left him without censure, a philosopher replied, "How seldom then must he have done his duty!"

Of Sir Alexander Ball's character, as Captain Ball, of his measures as a disciplinarian, and of the wise and dignified principle on which he grounded those measures, I have already spoken in a former part of this work, and must content myself therefore with entreating the reader to re-peruse that passage as belonging to this place, and as a part of the present narration. Ah! little did I expect at the time I wrote that account, that the motives of delicacy, which then impelled me to withhold the name, would so soon be exchanged for the higher duty which now justifies me in adding it! At the thought of such events the language of a tender superstition is the voice of nature itself, and those facts alone presenting themselves to our memory which had left an impression on our hearts, we assent to, and adopt the poet's pathetic complaint:-

O sir! the good die first, And those whose hearts are dry as summer dust Burn to the socket. WORDSWORTH.

Thus the humane plan described in the pages now referred to, that a system in pursuance of which the captain of a man-of-war uniformly regarded his sentences not as dependent on his own will, or to be affected by the state of his feelings at the moment, but as the pre- established determinations of known laws, and himself as the voice of the law in pronouncing the sentence, and its delegate in enforcing the execution, could not but furnish occasional food to the spirit of detraction, must be evident to every reflecting mind. It is indeed little less than impossible, that he, who in order to be effectively humane determines to be inflexibly just, and who is inexorable to his own feelings when they would interrupt the course of justice; who looks at each particular act by the light of all its consequences, and as the representative of ultimate good or evil; should not sometimes be charged with tyranny by weak minds. And it is too certain that the calumny will be willingly believed and eagerly propagated by all those who would shun the presence of an eye keen in the detection of imposture, incapacity, and misconduct, and of a resolution as steady in their exposure. We soon hate the man whose qualities we dread, and thus have a double interest, an interest of passion as well as of policy, in decrying and defaming him. But good men will rest satisfied with the promise made to them by the Divine Comforter, that by her children shall Wisdom be justified.


- the generous spirit, who, when brought Among the tasks of real life, hath wrought Upon the plan that pleased his childish thought: Whose high endeavours are an inward light That makes the path before him always bright; Who, doom'd to go in company with pain, And fear and bloodshed, miserable train! Turns his necessity to glorious gain; By objects, which might force the soul to abate Her feeling, rendered more compassionate. WORDSWORTH.

At the close of the American war, Captain Ball was entrusted with the protection and convoying of an immense mercantile fleet to America, and by his great prudence and unexampled attention to the interests of all and each, endeared his name to the American merchants, and laid the foundation of that high respect and predilection which both the Americans and their government ever afterwards entertained for him. My recollection does not enable me to attempt any accuracy in the date or circumstances, or to add the particulars of his services in the West Indies and on the coast of America, I now therefore merely allude to the fact with a prospective reference to opinions and circumstances, which I shall have to mention hereafter. Shortly after the general peace was established, Captain Ball, who was now a married man, passed some time with his lady in France, and, if I mistake not, at Nantes. At the same time, and in the same town, among the other English visitors, Lord (then Captain) Nelson happened to be one. In consequence of some punctilio, as to whose business it was to pay the compliment of the first call, they never met, and this trifling affair occasioned a coldness between the two naval commanders, or in truth a mutual prejudice against each other. Some years after, both their ships being together close off Minorca and near Port Mahon, a violent storm nearly disabled Lord Nelson's vessel, and in addition to the fury of the wind, it was night time and the thickest darkness. Captain Ball, however, brought his vessel at length to Nelson's assistance, took his ship in tow, and used his best endeavours to bring her and his own vessel into Port Mahon. The difficulties and the dangers increased. Nelson considered the case of his own ship as desperate, and that unless she was immediately left to her own fate, both vessels would inevitably be lost. He, therefore, with the generosity natural to him, repeatedly requested Captain Ball to let him loose; and on Captain Ball's refusal, he became impetuous, and enforced his demand with passionate threats. Captain Ball then himself took the speaking-trumpet, which the fury of the wind and waves rendered necessary, and with great solemnity and without the least disturbance of temper, called out in reply, "I feel confident that I can bring you in safe; I therefore must not, and, by the help of Almighty God, I will not leave you!" What he promised he performed; and after they were safely anchored, Nelson came on board of Ball's ship, and embracing him with all the ardour of acknowledgment, exclaimed, "A friend in need is a friend indeed!" At this time and on this occasion commenced that firm and perfect friendship between these two great men, which was interrupted only by the death of the former. The pleasing task of dwelling on this mutual attachment I defer to that part of the present sketch which will relate to Sir Alexander Ball's opinions of men and things. It will be sufficient for the present to say, that the two men whom Lord Nelson especially honoured, were Sir Thomas Troubridge and Sir Alexander Ball; and once, when they were both present, on some allusion made to the loss of his arm, he replied, "Who shall dare tell me that I want an arm, when I have three right arms—this (putting forward his own) and Ball and Troubridge?"

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