Literary Remains, Vol. 2
by Coleridge
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Act i. sc. 1. Clerimont's speech:—

He would have hanged a pewterer's 'prentice once on a Shrove Tuesday's riot, for being 'o that trade, when the rest were quiet.

The old copies read 'quit', i. e. discharged from working, and gone to divert themselves. (Whalley's note.)

It should be 'quit', no doubt; but not meaning 'discharged from working,' &c.—but quit, that is, acquitted. The pewterer was at his holiday diversion as well as the other apprentices, and they as forward in the riot as he. But he alone was punished under pretext of the riot, but in fact for his trade.

Act ii. sc. 1.

'Morose'. Cannot I, yet, find out a more compendious method, than by this trunk, to save my servants the labour of speech, and mine ears the discord of sounds?

What does 'trunk' mean here and in the 1st scene of the 1st act? Is it a large ear-trumpet?—or rather a tube, such as passes from parlour to kitchen, instead of a bell?

Whalley's note at the end.

Some critics of the last age imagined the character of Morose to be wholly out of nature. But to vindicate our poet, Mr. Dryden tells us from tradition, and we may venture to take his word, that Jonson was really acquainted with a person of this whimsical turn of mind: and as humor is a personal quality, the poet is acquitted from the charge of exhibiting a monster, or an extravagant unnatural caricatura.

If Dryden had not made all additional proof superfluous by his own plays, this very vindication would evince that he had formed a false and vulgar conception of the nature and conditions of the drama and dramatic personation. Ben Jonson would himself have rejected such a plea:—

For he knew, poet never credit gain'd By writing truths, but things, like truths, well feign'd.

By 'truths' he means 'facts.' Caricatures are not less so, because they are found existing in real life. Comedy demands characters, and leaves caricatures to farce. The safest and truest defence of old Ben would be to call the Epicaene the best of farces. The defect in Morose, as in other of Jonson's 'dramatis personae', lies in this;—that the accident is not a prominence growing out of, and nourished by, the character which still circulates in it, but that the character, such as it is, rises out of, or, rather, consists in, the accident. Shakspeare's comic personages have exquisitely characteristic features; however awry, disproportionate, and laughable they may be, still, like Bardolph's nose, they are features. But Jonson's are either a man with a huge wen, having a circulation of its own, and which we might conceive amputated, and the patient thereby losing all his character; or they are mere wens themselves instead of men,—wens personified, or with eyes, nose, and mouth cut out, mandrake-fashion.

'Nota bene'. All the above, and much more, will have been justly said, if, and whenever, the drama of Jonson is brought into comparisons of rivalry with the Shakspearian. But this should not be. Let its inferiority to the Shakspearian be at once fairly owned,—but at the same time as the inferiority of an altogether different 'genus' of the drama. On this ground, old Ben would still maintain his proud height. He, no less than Shakspeare, stands on the summit of his hill, and looks round him like a master,—though his be Lattrig and Shakspeare's Skiddaw.


Act I. sc. 2. Face's speech:—

Will take his oath o' the Greek Xenophon, If need be, in his pocket.

Another reading is 'Testament.' Probably, the meaning is,—that intending to give false evidence, he carried a Greek Xenophon to pass it off for a Greek Testament, and so avoid perjury—as the Irish do, by contriving to kiss their thumb-nails instead of the book.

Act ii. sc. 2. Mammon's speech:—

I will have all my beds blown up; not stuft: Down is too hard.

Thus the air-cushions, though perhaps only lately brought into use, were invented in idea in the seventeenth century!


A fondness for judging one work by comparison with others, perhaps altogether of a different class, argues a vulgar taste. Yet it is chiefly on this principle that the Catiline has been rated so low. Take it and Sejanus, as compositions of a particular kind, namely, as a mode of relating great historical events in the liveliest and most interesting manner, and I cannot help wishing that we had whole volumes of such plays. We might as rationally expect the excitement of the Vicar of Wakefield from Goldsmith's History of England, as that of Lear, Othello, &c. from the Sejanus or Catiline.

Act i. sc. 4.

'Cat'. Sirrah, what ail you?

('He spies one of his boys not answer'.)

'Pag'. Nothing.

'Best'. Somewhat modest.

'Cat'. Slave, I will strike your soul out with my foot, &c.

This is either an unintelligible, or, in every sense, a most unnatural, passage,—improbable, if not impossible, at the moment of signing and swearing such a conspiracy, to the most libidinous satyr. The very presence of the boys is an outrage to probability. I suspect that these lines down to the words 'throat opens,' should be removed back so as to follow the words 'on this part of the house,' in the speech of Catiline soon after the entry of the conspirators. A total erasure, however, would be the best, or, rather, the only possible, amendment.

Act ii. sc. 2. Sempronia's speech:—

—He is but a new fellow, An inmate here in Rome, as Catiline calls him—

A 'lodger' would have been a happier imitation of the 'inquilinus' of Sallust.

Act iv. sc. 6. Speech of Cethegus:—

Can these or such be any aids to us, &c.

What a strange notion Ben must have formed of a determined, remorseless, all-daring, fool-hardiness, to have represented it in such a mouthing Tamburlane, and bombastic tongue-bully as this Cethegus of his!


Induction. Scrivener's speech:—

If there be never a servant-monster i' the Fair, who can help it, he says, nor a nest of antiques?

The best excuse that can be made for Jonson, and in a somewhat less degree for Beaumont and Fletcher, in respect of these base and silly sneers at Shakspeare, is, that his plays were present to men's minds chiefly as acted. They had not a neat edition of them, as we have, so as, by comparing the one with the other, to form a just notion of the mighty mind that produced the whole. At all events, and in every point of view, Jonson stands far higher in a moral light than Beaumont and Fletcher. He was a fair contemporary, and in his way, and as far as Shakspeare is concerned, an original. But Beaumont and Fletcher were always imitators of, and often borrowers from, him, and yet sneer at him with a spite far more malignant than Jonson, who, besides, has made noble compensation by his praises.

Act ii. sc. 3.

'Just'. I mean a child of the horn-thumb, a babe of booty, boy, a cutpurse.

Does not this confirm, what the passage itself cannot but suggest, the propriety of substituting 'booty' for 'beauty' in Falstaff's speech, Henry IV. Pt. I. act i. sc. 2. 'Let not us, &c.?'

It is not often that old Ben condescends to imitate a modern author; but master Dan. Knockhum Jordan and his vapours are manifest reflexes of Nym and Pistol.

Ib. sc. 5.

'Quarl'. She'll make excellent geer for the coachmakers here in Smithfield, to anoint wheels and axletrees with.

Good! but yet it falls short of the speech of a Mr. Johnes, M. P., in the Common Council, on the invasion intended by Buonaparte: 'Houses plundered—then burnt;—sons conscribed—wives and daughters ravished, &c. &c.—"But as for you, you luxurious Aldermen! with your fat will he grease the wheels of his triumphal chariot!"

Ib. sc. 6.

'Cok'. Avoid i' your satin doublet, Numps.

This reminds me of Shakspeare's 'Aroint thee, witch!' I find in several books of that age the words aloigne and eloigne—that is,—'keep your distance!' or 'off with you!' Perhaps 'aroint' was a corruption of 'aloigne' by the vulgar. The common etymology from ronger to gnaw seems unsatisfactory.

Act iii. sc. 4.

'Quarl', How now, Numps! almost tired i' your protectorship? overparted, overparted?

An odd sort of prophetic ality in this Numps and old Noll!

Ib. sc. 6. Knockhum's speech:—

He eats with his eyes, as well as his teeth.

A good motto for the Parson in Hogarth's Election Dinner,—who shows how easily he might be reconciled to the Church of Rome, for he worships what he eats.

Act v. sc. 5.

'Pup. Di'. It is not prophane.

'Lan'. It is not prophane, he says.

'Boy'. It is prophane.

'Pup'. It is not prophane.

'Boy'. It is prophane.

'Pup'. It is not prophane.

'Lan'. Well said, confute him with Not, still.

An imitation of the quarrel between Bacchus and the Frogs in Aristophanes:—

[Greek (transliterated):

Choros. alla maen kekraxomestha g', hoposon hae pharugx an aem_on chandanae, di' aemeras, brekekekex, koax, koax.

Dionusos. touto gar ou nikaesete.

Choros. oude maen haemas su pant_os.

Dionusos. oude maen humeis ge dae m' oudepote.]


Act I. sc. 1.

'Pug'. Why any: Fraud, Or Covetousness, or lady Vanity, Or old Iniquity, I'll call him hither.

The words in italics [between undescores] should probably be given to the master-devil, Satan. (Whalley's note.)

That is, against all probability, and with a (for Jonson) impossible violation of character. The words plainly belong to Pug, and mark at once his simpleness and his impatience.

Ib. sc. 4. Fitz-dottrel's soliloquy:-

Compare this exquisite piece of sense, satire, and sound philosophy in 1616 with Sir M. Hale's speech from the bench in a trial of a witch many years afterwards. [1]

Act ii. sc. 1. Meercraft's speech:—

Sir, money's a whore, a bawd, a drudge.—

I doubt not that 'money' was the first word of the line, and has dropped out:—

Money! Sir, money's a, &c.

[Footnote 1: In 1664, at Bury St. Edmonds on the trial of Rose Cullender and Amy Duny. Ed.]


Act IV. sc. 3. Pecunia's speech:—

No, he would ha' done, That lay not in his power: he had the use Of your bodies, Band and Wax, and sometimes Statute's.

Read (1815),

—he had the use of Your bodies, &c.

Now, however, I doubt the legitimacy of my transposition of the 'of' from the beginning of this latter line to the end of the one preceding;—for though it facilitates the metre and reading of the latter line, and is frequent in Massinger, this disjunction of the preposition from its case seems to have been disallowed by Jonson. Perhaps the better reading is—

O' your bodies, &c.—

the two syllables being slurred into one, or rather snatched, or sucked, up into the emphasized 'your.' In all points of view, therefore, Ben's judgment is just; for in this way, the line cannot be read, as metre, without that strong and quick emphasis on 'your' which the sense requires;—and had not the sense required an emphasis on 'your,' the tmesis of the sign of its cases 'of,' 'to,' &c. would destroy almost all boundary between the dramatic verse and prose in comedy:—a lesson not to be rash in conjectural amendments. 1818.

Ib. sc. 4.

'P. jun.' I love all men of virtue, frommy Princess.—

'Frommy,' 'fromme', pious, dutiful, &c.

Act v. sc. 4. Penny-boy sen. and Porter:—

I dare not, will not, think that honest Ben had Lear in his mind in this mock mad scene.


Act I. sc. 1. Host's speech:—

A heavy purse, and then two turtles, makes.—

'Makes', frequent in old books, and even now used in some counties for mates, or pairs.

Ib. sc. 3. Host's speech:—

—And for a leap O' the vaulting horse, to play the vaulting house.—

Instead of reading with Whalley 'ply' for 'play,' I would suggest 'horse' for 'house.' The meaning would then be obvious and pertinent. The punlet, or pun-maggot, or pun intentional, 'horse and house,' is below Jonson. The 'jeu-de-mots' just below—

Read a lecture Upon Aquinas at St. Thomas a Waterings—

had a learned smack in it to season its insipidity.

Ib. sc. 6. Lovel's speech:—

Then shower'd his bounties on me, like the Hours, That open-handed sit upon the clouds, And press the liberality of heaven Down to the laps of thankful men!

Like many other similar passages in Jonson, this is [Greek (transliterated): eidos chalepon idein]—a sight which it is difficult to make one's self see,—a picture my fancy cannot copy detached from the words.

Act ii. sc. 5. Though it was hard upon old Ben, yet Felton, it must be confessed, was in the right in considering the Fly, Tipto, Bat Burst, &c. of this play mere dotages. Such a scene as this was enough to damn a new play; and Nick Stuff is worse still,—most abominable stuff indeed!

Act in. sc. 2. Lovel's speech:—

So knowledge first begets benevolence, Benevolence breeds friendship, friendship love.—

Jonson has elsewhere proceeded thus far; but the part most difficult and delicate, yet, perhaps, not the least capable of being both morally and poetically treated, is the union itself, and what, even in this life, it can be.


Seward's Preface. 1750.

The King And No King, too, is extremely spirited in all its characters; Arbaces holds up a mirror to all men of virtuous principles but violent passions. Hence he is, as it were, at once magnanimity and pride, patience and fury, gentleness and rigor, chastity and incest, and is one of the finest mixtures of virtues and vices that any poet has drawn, &c.

These are among the endless instances of the abject state to which psychology had sunk from the reign of Charles I. to the middle of the present reign of George III.; and even now it is but just awaking.

Ib. Seward's comparison of Julia's speech in the Two Gentlemen of Verona, act iv. last scene—

Madam, 'twas Ariadne passioning, &c.—

with Aspatia's speech in the Maid's Tragedy—

I stand upon the sea-beach now, &c. (Act ii.)

and preference of the latter.

It is strange to take an incidental passage of one writer, intended only for a subordinate part, and compare it with the same thought in another writer, who had chosen it for a prominent and principal figure.

Ib. Seward's preference of Alphonso's poisoning in A Wife for a Month, act i. sc. 1, to the passage in King John, act v. sc. 7,—

Poison'd, ill fare! dead, forsook, cast off!

Mr. Seward! Mr. Seward! you may be, and I trust you are, an angel; but you were an ass.


Every reader of taste will see how superior this is to the quotation from Shakspeare.

Of what taste?

Ib. Seward's classification of the Plays:—

Surely Monsieur Thomas, The Chances, Beggar's Bush, and the Pilgrim, should have been placed in the very first class! But the whole attempt ends in a woeful failure.


I'd have a state of wit convok'd, which hath A power to take up on common faith:—

This is an instance of that modifying of quantity by emphasis, without which our elder poets cannot be scanned. 'Power,' here, instead of being one long syllable—pow'r—must be sounded, not indeed as a spondee, nor yet as a trochee; but as—[Symbol: u-shape beneath line];—the first syllable is 1 1/4.

We can, indeed, never expect an authentic edition of our elder dramatic poets (for in those times a drama was a poem), until some man undertakes the work, who has studied the philosophy of metre. This has been found the main torch of sound restoration in the Greek dramatists by Bentley, Porson, and their followers;—how much more, then, in writers in our own language! It is true that quantity, an almost iron law with the Greek, is in English rather a subject for a peculiarly fine ear, than any law or even rule; but, then, instead of it, we have, first, accent; secondly, emphasis; and lastly, retardation, and acceleration of the times of syllables according to the meaning of the words, the passion that accompanies them, and even the character of the person that uses them. With due attention to these,—above all, to that, which requires the most attention and the finest taste, the character, Massinger, for example, might be reduced to a rich and yet regular metre. But then the 'regulae' must be first known;—though I will venture to say, that he who does not find a line (not corrupted) of Massinger's flow to the time total of a trimeter catalectic iambic verse, has not read it aright. But by virtue of the last principle—the retardation or acceleration of time—we have the proceleusmatic foot * * * *, and the 'dispondaeus' — — — —, not to mention the 'choriambus', the ionics, paeons, and epitrites. Since Dryden, the metre of our poets leads to the sense: in our elder and more genuine bards, the sense, including the passion, leads to the metre. Read even Donne's satires as he meant them to be read, and as the sense and passion demand, and you will find in the lines a manly harmony.


In general their plots are more regular than Shakspeare's.—

This is true, if true at all, only before a court of criticism, which judges one scheme by the laws of another and a diverse one. Shakspeare's plots have their own laws or regulae, and according to these they are regular.


Act I. The metrical arrangement is most slovenly throughout.

'Strat'. As well as masque can be, &c.

and all that follows to 'who is return'd'—is plainly blank verse, and falls easily into it.

Ib. Speech of Melantius:—

These soft and silken wars are not for me: The music must be shrill, and all confus'd, That stirs my blood; and then I dance with arms.

What strange self-trumpeters and tongue-bullies all the brave soldiers of Beaumont and Fletcher are! Yet I am inclined to think it was the fashion of the age from the Soldier's speech in the Counter Scuffle; and deeper than the fashion B. and F. did not fathom.

Ib. Speech of Lysippus:—

Yes, but this lady Walks discontented, with her wat'ry eyes Bent on the earth, &c.

Opulent as Shakspeare was, and of his opulence prodigal, he yet would not have put this exquisite piece of poetry in the mouth of a no-character, or as addressed to a Melantius. I wish that B. and F. had written poems instead of tragedies.


'Mel'. I might run fiercely, not more hastily, Upon my foe.


I might run more fiercely, not more hastily.—

Ib. Speech of Calianax:—

Office! I would I could put it off! I am sure I sweat quite through my office!

The syllable off reminds the testy statesman of his robe, and he carries on the image.

Ib. Speech of Melantius:—

—Would that blood, That sea of blood, that I have lost in fight, &c.

All B. and F.'s generals are pugilists, or cudgel-fighters, that boast of their bottom and of the claret they have shed.

Ib. The Masque;—Cinthia's speech:—

But I will give a greater state and glory, And raise to time a noble memory Of what these lovers are.

I suspect that 'nobler,' pronounced as 'nobiler'—[Symbol (metrical): U-=shape below the line]—, was the poet's word, and that the accent is to be placed on the penultimate of 'memory.' As to the passage—

Yet, while our reign lasts, let us stretch our power, &c.

removed from the text of Cinthia's speech by these foolish editors as unworthy of B. and F.—the first eight lines are not worse, and the last couplet incomparably better, than the stanza retained.

Act ii. Amintor's speech:—

Oh, thou hast nam'd a word, that wipes away All thoughts revengeful! In that sacred name, 'The king,' there lies a terror.

It is worth noticing that of the three greatest tragedians, Massinger was a democrat, Beaumont and Fletcher the most servile jure divino royalist, and Shakspeare a philosopher;—if aught personal, an aristocrat.


Act IV. Speech of Tigranes:—

She, that forgat the greatness of her grief And miseries, that must follow such mad passions, Endless and wild as women! &c.

Seward's note and suggestion of 'in.'

It would be amusing to learn from some existing friend of Mr. Seward what he meant, or rather dreamed, in this note. It is certainly a difficult passage, of which there are two solutions;—one, that the writer was somewhat more injudicious than usual;—the other, that he was very, very much more profound and Shakspearian than usual. Seward's emendation, at all events, is right and obvious. Were it a passage of Shakspeare, I should not hesitate to interpret it as characteristic of Tigranes' state of mind,—disliking the very virtues, and therefore half-consciously representing them as mere products of the violence, of the sex in general in all their whims, and yet forced to admire, and to feel and to express gratitude for, the exertion in his own instance. The inconsistency of the passage would be the consistency of the author. But this is above Beaumont and Fletcher.


Act II. Sir Roger's speech:—

Did I for this consume my quarters in meditations, vows, and woo'd her in heroical epistles? Did I expound the Owl, and undertake, with labor and expense, the recollection of those thousand pieces, consum'd in cellars and tobacco-shops, of that our honor'd Englishman, Nic. Broughton? &c.

Strange, that neither Mr. Theobald, nor Mr. Seward, should have seen that this mock heroic speech is in full-mouthed blank verse! Had they seen this, they would have seen that 'quarters' is a substitution of the players for 'quires' or 'squares,' (that is) of paper:—

Consume my quires in meditations, vows, And woo'd her in heroical epistles.

They ought, likewise, to have seen that the abbreviated 'Ni. Br.' of the text was properly 'Mi. Dr.'—and that Michael Drayton, not Nicholas Broughton, is here ridiculed for his poem The Owl and his Heroical Epistles.

Ib. Speech of Younger Loveless:—

Fill him some wine. Thou dost not see me mov'd, &c.

These Editors ought to have learnt, that scarce an instance occurs in B. and F. of a long speech not in metre. This is plain staring blank verse.


I cannot but think that in a country conquered by a nobler race than the natives, and in which the latter became villeins and bondsmen, this custom, 'lex merchetae', may have been introduced for wise purposes,—as of improving the breed, lessening the antipathy of different races, and producing a new bond of relationship between the lord and the tenant, who, as the eldest born, would, at least, have a chance of being, and a probability of being thought, the lord's child. In the West Indies it cannot have these effects, because the mulatto is marked by nature different from the father, and because there is no bond, no law, no custom, but of mere debauchery. 1815.

Act i. sc. 1. Rutilio's speech:—

Yet if you play not fair play, &c.

Evidently to be transposed and read thus:—

Yet if you play not fair, above-board too, I'll tell you what—I've a foolish engine here:—I say no more—But if your Honor's guts are not enchanted—

Licentious as the comic metre of B. and F. is,—a far more lawless, and yet far less happy, imitation of the rhythm of animated talk in real life than Massinger's—still it is made worse than it really is by ignorance of the halves, thirds, and two-thirds of a line which B. and F. adopted from the Italian and Spanish dramatists. Thus in Rutilio's speech:—

Though I confess Any man would desire to have her, and by any means, &c.

Correct the whole passage—

Though I confess Any man would Desire to have her, and by any means, At any rate too, yet this common hangman That hath whipt off a /THOUsand maids' HEADS/ already— That he should glean the harvest, sticks in my stomach!

[Between the two /, upper-case syllables have the stress, written as a horizontal line above them in the original text, and lower-case syllables are unstressed, written as a u-shape (the u-symbol previously described) above them. text Ed.]

In all comic metres the gulping of short syllables, and the abbreviation of syllables ordinarily long by the rapid pronunciation of eagerness and vehemence, are not so much a license, as a law,—a faithful copy of nature, and let them be read characteristically, the times will be found nearly equal. Thus the three words marked above make a 'choriambus'—u u —, or perhaps a 'paeon primus'—u u u; a dactyl, by virtue of comic rapidity, being only equal to an iambus when distinctly pronounced. I have no doubt that all B. and F.'s works might be safely corrected by attention to this rule, and that the editor is entitled to transpositions of all kinds, and to not a few omissions. For the rule of the metre once lost—what was to restrain the actors from interpolation?


Act I. sc. 2. Charles's speech:—

—For what concerns tillage, Who better can deliver it than Virgil In his Georgicks? and to cure your herds, His Bucolicks is a master-piece.

Fletcher was too good a scholar to fall into so gross a blunder, as Messrs. Sympson and Colman suppose. I read the passage thus:-

—For what concerns tillage, Who better can deliver it than Virgil, In his /GeORGicks/, or to cure your herds; (His Bucolicks are a master-piece.) But when, &c.

Jealous of Virgil's honor, he is afraid lest, by referring to the Georgics alone, he might be understood as undervaluing the preceding work. 'Not that I do not admire the Bucolics, too, in their way:—But when, &c.'

Act iii. sc. 3. Charles's speech:—

—She has a face looks like a story; The story of the heavens looks very like her.

Seward reads 'glory;' and Theobald quotes from Philaster—

That reads the story of a woman's face.—

I can make sense of this passage as little as Mr. Seward;—the passage from Philaster is nothing to the purpose. Instead of 'a story,' I have sometimes thought of proposing 'Astraea.'

Ib. Angellina's speech:—

—You're old and dim, Sir, And the shadow of the earth eclips'd your judgment.

Inappropriate to Angellina, but one of the finest lines in our language.

Act iv. sc. 3. Charles's speech:—

And lets the serious part of life run by As thin neglected sand, whiteness of name. You must be mine, &c.

Seward's note, and reading—

—Whiteness of name, You must be mine!

Nonsense! 'Whiteness of name,' is in apposition to 'the serious part of life,' and means a deservedly pure reputation. The following line—'You must be mine!' means—'Though I do not enjoy you to-day, I shall hereafter, and without reproach.'


Act IV. sc. 7. Amaranta's speech:—

And still I push'd him on, as he had been coming.

Perhaps the true word is 'conning,' that is, learning, or reading, and therefore inattentive.


Act I. Valentine's speech:—

One without substance, &c.

The present text, and that proposed by Seward, are equally vile. I have endeavoured to make the lines sense, though the whole is, I suspect, incurable except by bold conjectural reformation. I would read thus:—

One without substance of herself, that's woman; Without the pleasure of her life, that's wanton; Tho' she be young, forgetting it; tho' fair, Making her glass the eyes of honest men, Not her own admiration.

'That's wanton,' or, 'that is to say, wantonness.'

Act ii. Valentine's speech:—

Of half-a-crown a week for pins and puppets—

As there is a syllable wanting in the measure here. (Seward.)

A syllable wanting! Had this Seward neither ears nor fingers? The line is a more than usually regular iambic hendecasyllable.


With one man satisfied, with one rein guided; With one faith, one content, one bed; Aged, she makes the wife, preserves the fame and issue; A widow is, &c.

Is 'apaid'—contented—too obsolete for B. and F.? If not, we might read it thus:-

Content with one faith, with one bed apaid, She makes the wife, preserves the fame and issue;—

Or it may be—

—with one breed apaid—

that is, satisfied with one set of children, in opposition to—

A widow is a Christmas-box, &c.

Colman's note on Seward's attempt to put this play into metre.

The editors, and their contemporaries in general, were ignorant of any but the regular iambic verse. A study of the Aristophanic and Plautine metres would have enabled them to reduce B. and F. throughout into metre, except where prose is really intended.


Act I. sc. 1. Second Ambassador's speech:—

—When your angers, Like so many brother billows, rose together, And, curling up your foaming crests, defied, &c.

This worse than superfluous 'like' is very like an interpolation of some matter of fact critic—all 'pus, prose atque venenum'. The 'your' in the next line, instead of 'their,' is likewise yours, Mr. Critic!

Act ii: sc. 1. Timon's speech:—

Another of a new way will be look'd at.—

We much suspect the poets wrote, 'of a new day.' So, immediately after,

—Time may For all his wisdom, yet give us a day.


For this very reason I more than suspect the contrary.

Ib. sc. 3. Speech of Leucippe:—

I'll put her into action for a wastcoat.—

What we call a riding-habit,—some mannish dress.


Act IV. Masque of beasts:—

—This goodly tree, An usher that still grew before his lady, Wither'd at root: this, for he could not wooe, A grumbling lawyer: &c.

Here must have been omitted a line rhyming to 'tree;' and the words of the next line have been transposed:—

—This goodly tree, Which leafless, and obscur'd with moss you see, An usher this, that 'fore his lady grew, Wither'd at root: this, for he could not wooe, &c.


It is well worthy of notice, and yet has not been, I believe, noticed hitherto, what a marked difference there exists in the dramatic writers of the Elizabetho-Jacobaean age—(Mercy on me! what a phrase for 'the writers during the reigns of Elizabeth and James I.!')—in respect of their political opinions. Shakspeare, in this as in all other things, himself and alone, gives the permanent politics of human nature, and the only predilection, which appears, shews itself in his contempt of mobs and the populacy. Massinger is a decided Whig;—Beaumont and Fletcher high-flying, passive-obedience, Tories. The Spanish dramatists furnished them with this, as with many other ingredients. By the by, an accurate and familiar acquaintance with all the productions of the Spanish stage previously to 1620, is an indispensable qualification for an editor of B. and F.;—and with this qualification a most interesting and instructive edition might be given. This edition of Colman's Stockdale, (1811,) is below criticism.

In metre, B. and F. are inferior to Shakspeare, on the one hand, as expressing the poetic part of the drama, and to Massinger, on the other, in the art of reconciling metre with the natural rhythm of conversation,—in which, indeed, Massinger is unrivalled. Read him aright, and measure by time, not syllables, and no lines can be more legitimate,—none in which the substitution of equipollent feet, and the modifications by emphasis, are managed with such exquisite judgment. B. and F. are fond of the twelve syllable (not Alexandrine) line, as—

Too many fears' tis thought too: and to nourish those—

This has, often, a good effect, and is one of the varieties most common in Shakspeare.


Act III. Old Woman's speech:—

—I fear he will knock my Brains out for lying.

Mr. Seward discards the words 'for lying', because 'most of the things spoke of Estifania are true, with only a little exaggeration, and because they destroy all appearance of measure.' (Colman's note.)

Mr. Seward had his brains out. The humor lies in Estifania's having ordered the Old Woman to tell these tales of her; for though an intriguer, she is not represented as other than chaste; and as to the metre, it is perfectly correct.


'Marg'. As you love me, give way.

'Leon'. It shall be better, I will give none, madam, &c.

The meaning is: 'It shall be a better way, first;—as it is, I will not give it, or any that you in your present mood would wish.'


Act I. Speech of Melitus:—

Whose insolence and never yet match'd pride Can by no character be well express'd, But in her only name, the proud Erota.

Colman's note.

The poet intended no allusion to the word 'Erota' itself; but says that her very name, 'the proud Erota,' became a character and adage; as we say, a Quixote or a Brutus: so to say an 'Erota,' expressed female pride and insolence of beauty.

Ib. Speech of Antinous:-

Of my peculiar honors, not deriv'd From 'successary', but purchas'd with my blood.—

The poet doubtless wrote 'successry,' which, though not adopted in our language, would be, on many occasions, as here, a much more significant phrase than ancestry.


Act I. sc. 1. Dinant's speech:—

Are you become a patron too? 'Tis a new one, No more on't, &c.

Seward reads:—

Are you become a patron too? How long Have you been conning this speech? 'Tis a new one, &c.

If conjectural emendation, like this, be allowed, we might venture to read:—

Are you become a patron to a new tune?


Are you become a patron? 'Tis a new tune.


'Din'. Thou wouldst not willingly Live a protested coward, or be call'd one?

'Cler'. Words are but words.

'Din'. Nor wouldst thou take a blow?

Seward's note.

O miserable! Dinant sees through Cleremont's gravity, and the actor is to explain it. 'Words are but words,' is the last struggle of affected morality.


Act I. sc. 3. It is a real trial of charity to read this scene with tolerable temper towards Fletcher. So very slavish—so reptile—are the feelings and sentiments represented as duties. And yet remember he was a bishop's son, and the duty to God was the supposed basis.

Personals, including body, house, home, and religion;—property, subordination, and inter-community;—these are the fundamentals of society. I mean here, religion negatively taken,—so that the person be not compelled to do or utter, in relation of the soul to God, what would be, in that person, a lie;—such as to force a man to go to church, or to swear that he believes what he does not believe. Religion, positively taken, may be a great and useful privilege, but cannot be a right,—were it for this only that it cannot be pre-defined. The ground of this distinction between negative and positive religion, as a social right, is plain. No one of my fellow-citizens is encroached on by my not declaring to him what I believe respecting the super-sensual; but should every man be entitled to preach against the preacher, who could hear any preacher? Now it is different in respect of loyalty. There we have positive rights, but not negative rights;—for every pretended negative would be in effect a positive;—as if a soldier had a right to keep to himself, whether he would, or would not, fight. Now, no one of these fundamentals can be rightfully attacked, except when the guardian of it has abused it to subvert one or more of the rest. The reason is, that the guardian, as a fluent, is less than the permanent which he is to guard. He is the temporary and mutable mean, and derives his whole value from the end. In short, as robbery is not high treason, so neither is every unjust act of a king the converse. All must be attacked and endangered. Why? Because the king, as 'a' to A., is a mean to A. or subordination, in a far higher sense than a proprietor, as 'b'. to B. is a mean to B. or property.

Act ii. sc. 2. Claudia's speech:-

Chimney-pieces! &c.

The whole of this speech seems corrupt; and if accurately printed,—that is, if the same in all the prior editions, irremediable but by bold conjecture. ''Till' my tackle,' should be, I think, 'while,' &c.

Act iii. sc. 1. B. and F. always write as if virtue or goodness were a sort of talisman, or strange something, that might be lost without the least fault on the part of the owner. In short, their chaste ladies value their chastity as a material thing—not as an act or state of being; and this mere thing being imaginary, no wonder that all their women are represented with the minds of strumpets, except a few irrational humorists, far less capable of exciting our sympathy than a Hindoo, who has had a bason of cow-broth thrown over him;—for this, though a debasing superstition, is still real, and we might pity the poor wretch, though we cannot help despising him. But B. and F.'s Lucinas are clumsy fictions. It is too plain that the authors had no one idea of chastity as a virtue, but only such a conception as a blind man might have of the power of seeing, by handling an ox's eye. In The Queen of Corinth, indeed, they talk differently; but it is all talk, and nothing is real in it but the dread of losing a reputation. Hence the frightful contrast between their women (even those who are meant for virtuous) and Shakspeare's. So, for instance, The Maid in the Mill:—a woman must not merely have grown old in brothels, but have chuckled over every abomination committed in them with a rampant sympathy of imagination, to have had her fancy so drunk with the 'minutiae' of lechery as this icy chaste virgin evinces hers to have been.

It would be worth while to note how many of these plays are founded on rapes,—how many on incestuous passions, and how many on mere lunacies. Then their virtuous women are either crazy superstitions of a merely bodily negation of having been acted on, or strumpets in their imaginations and wishes, or, as in this Maid in the Mill, both at the same time. In the men, the love is merely lust in one direction,—exclusive preference of one object. The tyrant's speeches are mostly taken from the mouths of indignant denouncers of the tyrant's character, with the substitution of 'I' for 'he,' and the omission of the prefatory 'he acts as if he thought' so and so. The only feelings they can possibly excite are disgust at the Aeciuses, if regarded as sane loyalists, or compassion, if considered as Bedlamites. So much for their tragedies. But even their comedies are, most of them, disturbed by the fantasticalness, or gross caricature, of the persons or incidents. There are few characters that you can really like,—(even though you should have had erased from your mind all the filth, which bespatters the most likeable of them, as Piniero in The Island Princess for instance,)—scarcely one whom you can love. How different this from Shakspeare, who makes one have a sort of sneaking affection even for his Barnardines;—whose very Iagos and Richards are awful, and, by the counteracting power of profound intellects, rendered fearful rather than hateful;—and even the exceptions, as Goneril and Regan, are proofs of superlative judgment and the finest moral tact, in being left utter monsters, 'nulla virtute redemptae,' and in being kept out of sight as much as possible,—they being, indeed, only means for the excitement and deepening of noblest emotions towards the Lear, Cordelia, &c. and employed with the severest economy! But even Shakspeare's grossness—that which is really so, independently of the increase in modern times of vicious associations with things indifferent,—(for there is a state of manners conceivable so pure, that the language of Hamlet at Ophelia's feet might be a harmless rallying, or playful teazing, of a shame that would exist in Paradise)—at the worst, how diverse in kind is it from Beaumont and Fletcher's! In Shakspeare it is the mere generalities of sex, mere words for the most part, seldom or never distinct images, all head-work, and fancy-drolleries; there is no sensation supposed in the speaker. I need not proceed to contrast this with B. and F.


This is, perhaps, the most energetic of Fletcher's tragedies. He evidently aimed at a new Richard III. in Rollo;—but as in all his other imitations of Shakspeare, he was not philosopher enough to bottom his original. Thus, in Rollo, he has produced a mere personification of outrageous wickedness, with no fundamental characteristic impulses to make either the tyrant's words or actions philosophically intelligible. Hence, the most pathetic situations border on the horrible, and what he meant for the terrible, is either hateful, [Greek (transliterated): to misaeton], or ludicrous. The scene of Baldwin's sentence in the third act is probably the grandest working of passion in all B. and F.'s dramas;—but the very magnificence of filial affection given to Edith, in this noble scene, renders the after scene—(in imitation of one of the least Shakspearian of all Shakspeare's works, if it be his, the scene between Richard and Lady Anne,)—in which Edith is yielding to a few words and tears, not only unnatural, but disgusting. In Shakspeare, Lady Anne is described as a weak, vain, very woman throughout.

Act i. sc. I.

'Gis'. He is indeed the perfect character Of a good man, and so his actions speak him.

This character of Aubrey, and the whole spirit of this and several other plays of the same authors, are interesting as traits of the morals which it was fashionable to teach in the reigns of James I. and his successor, who died a martyr to them. Stage, pulpit, law, fashion,—all conspired to enslave the realm. Massinger's plays breathe the opposite spirit; Shakspeare's the spirit of wisdom which is for all ages. By the by, the Spanish dramatists—Calderon, in particular,—had some influence in this respect, of romantic loyalty to the greatest monsters, as well as in the busy intrigues of B. and F.'s plays.


Act II. sc. 1. Belleur's speech:—

—that wench, methinks, If I were but well set on, for she is a fable, If I were but hounded right, and one to teach me.

Sympson reads 'affable,' which Colman rejects, and says, 'the next line seems to enforce' the reading in the text.

Pity, that the editor did not explain wherein the sense, 'seemingly enforced by the next line,' consists. May the true word be 'a sable,' that is, a black fox, hunted for its precious fur? Or 'at-able,'—as we now say,—'she is come-at-able?'


Act IV. sc. 1. Alphonso's speech:-

Betwixt the cold bear and the raging lion Lies my safe way.

Seward's note and alteration to—

'Twixt the cold bears, far from the raging lion—

This Mr. Seward is a blockhead of the provoking species. In his itch for correction, he forgot the words—'lies my safe way!' The Bear is the extreme pole, and thither he would travel over the space contained between it and 'the raging lion.'


Act IV. sc. 2. Alinda's interview with her father is lively, and happily hit off; but this scene with Roderigo is truly excellent. Altogether, indeed, this play holds the first place in B. and F.'s romantic entertainments, 'Lustspiele', which collectively are their happiest performances, and are only inferior to the romance of Shakspeare in the As you Like It, Twelfth Night, &c.


'Alin'. To-day you shall wed Sorrow, And Repentance will come to-morrow.

Read 'Penitence,' or else—

Repentance, she will come to-morrow.


Act II. sc. 1. Merione's speech. Had the scene of this tragi-comedy been laid in Hindostan instead of Corinth, and the gods here addressed been the Veeshnoo and Co. of the Indian Pantheon, this rant would not have been much amiss.

In respect of style and versification, this play and the following of Bonduca may be taken as the best, and yet as characteristic, specimens of Beaumont and Fletcher's dramas. I particularly instance the first scene of the Bonduca. Take Shakspeare's Richard II., and having selected some one scene of about the same number of lines, and consisting mostly of long speeches, compare it with the first scene in Bonduca,—not for the idle purpose of finding out which is the better, but in order to see and understand the difference. The latter, that of B. and F., you will find a Avell arranged bed of flowers, each having its separate root, and its position determined aforehand by the will of the gardener,—each fresh plant a fresh volition. In the former you see an Indian fig-tree, as described by Milton;—all is growth, evolution, [Greek (transliterated): genesis];—each line, each word almost, begets the following, and the will of the writer is an interfusion, a continuous agency, and not a series of separate acts. Shakspeare is the height, breadth, and depth of genius: Beaumont and Fletcher the excellent mechanism, in juxta-position and succession, of talent.


Why have the dramatists of the times of Elizabeth, James I. and the first Charles become almost obsolete, with the exception of Shakspeare? Why do they no longer belong to the English, being once so popular? And why is Shakspeare an exception?—One thing, among fifty, necessary to the full solution is, that they all employed poetry and poetic diction on unpoetic subjects, both characters and situations, especially in their comedy. Now Shakspeare is all, all ideal,—of no time, and therefore for all times. Read, for instance, Marine's panegyric in the first scene of this play:—

Know The eminent court, to them that can be wise, And fasten on her blessings, is a sun, &c.

What can be more unnatural and inappropriate—(not only is, but must be felt as such)—than such poetry in the mouth of a silly dupe? In short, the scenes are mock dialogues, in which the poet solus plays the ventriloquist, but cannot keep down his own way of expressing himself. Heavy complaints have been made respecting the transprosing of the old plays by Cibber; but it never occurred to these critics to ask, how it came that no one ever attempted to transprose a comedy of Shakspeare's.


Act I. Speech of Seleucus:—

Altho' he be my enemy, should any Of the gay flies that buz about the court, Sit to catch trouts i' the summer, tell me so, I durst, &c.

Colman's note.

Pshaw! 'Sit' is either a misprint for 'set,' or the old and still provincial word for 'set,' as the participle passive of 'seat' or 'set.' I have heard an old Somersetshire gardener say:—"Look, Sir! I set these plants here; those yonder I 'sit' yesterday."

Act ii. Speech of Arcadius:—

Nay, some will swear they love their mistress, Would hazard lives and fortunes, &c.

Read thus:—

Nay, some will swear they love their mistress so, They would hazard lives and fortunes to preserve One of her hairs brighter than Berenice's, Or young Apollo's; and yet, after this, &c.

'/They would HAzard/' [1]—furnishes an anapaest for an 'iambus'. 'And yet,' which must be read, /'ANyet'/, is an instance of the enclitic force in an accented monosyllable. /'And YET'/ is a complete 'iambus'; but 'anyet' is, like 'spirit', a dibrach u u, trocheized, however, by the 'arsis' or first accent damping, though not extinguishing, the second.

[Footnote 1: As noted earlier in this text, the words between / marks are pronounced with stress on the upper-case syllables, and none on the lower-case syllables. In the original text, stress is indicated by a horizontal line over the syllable, and lack of stress by a u-shape, as the u u later in this paragraph. text Ed.]


Act I. Oldcraft's speech:

I'm arm'd at all points, &c.

It would be very easy to restore all this passage to metre, by supplying a sentence of four syllables, which the reasoning almost demands, and by correcting the grammar. Read thus:—

Arm'd at all points 'gainst treachery, I hold My humor firm. If, living, I can see thee Thrive by thy wits, I shall have the more courage, Dying, to trust thee with my lands. If not, The best wit, I can hear of, carries them. For since so many in my time and knowledge, Rich children of the city, have concluded For lack of wit in beggary, I'd rather Make a wise stranger my executor, Than a fool son my heir, and have my lands call'd After my wit than name: and that's my nature!

Ib. Oldcraft's speech:—

To prevent which I have sought out a match for her.—


Which to prevent I've sought a match out for her.

Ib. Sir Gregory's speech:—

—Do you think I'll have any of the wits hang upon me after I am married once?

Read it thus:—

Do you think That I'll have any of the wits to hang Upon me after I am married once?

and afterwards—

Is it a fashion in London, To marry a woman, and to never see her?

The superfluous 'to' gives it the Sir Andrew Ague-cheek character.


Act II. Speech of Albertus:—

But, Sir, By my life, I vow to take assurance from you, That right-hand never more shall strike my son, ... Chop his hand off!

In this (as, indeed, in all other respects; but most in this) it is that Shakspeare is so incomparably superior to Fletcher and his friend,—in judgment! What can be conceived more unnatural and motiveless than this brutal resolve? How is it possible to feel the least interest in Albertus afterwards? or in Cesario after his conduct?


On comparing the prison scene of Palamon and Arcite, Act ii. sc. 2, with the dialogue between the same speakers, Act i. sc. 2, I can scarcely retain a doubt as to the first act's having been written by Shakspeare. Assuredly it was not written by B. and F. I hold Jonson more probable than either of these two.

The main presumption, however, for Shakspeare's share in this play rests on a point, to which the sturdy critics of this edition (and indeed all before them) were blind,—that is, the construction of the blank verse, which proves beyond all doubt an intentional imitation, if not the proper hand, of Shakspeare. Now, whatever improbability there is in the former, (which supposes Fletcher conscious of the inferiority, the too poematic minus-dramatic nature, of his versification, and of which there is neither proof, nor likelihood,) adds so much to the probability of the latter. On the other hand, the harshness of many of these very passages, a harshness unrelieved by any lyrical inter-breathings, and still more the want of profundity in the thoughts, keep me from an absolute decision.

Act i. sc. 3. Emilia's speech:—

—Since his depart, his sports, Tho' craving seriousness and skill, &c.

I conjecture 'imports,' that is, duties or offices of importance. The flow of the versification in this speech seems to demand the trochaic ending—/u/; while the text blends jingle and hisses to the annoyance of less sensitive ears than Fletcher's—not to say, Shakspeare's.


Act. I. sc. 2. This scene from the beginning is prose printed as blank verse, down to the line—

E'en all the valiant stomachs in the court—

where the verse recommences. This transition from the prose to the verse enhances, and indeed forms, the comic effect. Lazarillo concludes his soliloquy with a hymn to the goddess of plenty.


An Essay, preparatory to a series of disquisitions respecting the Egyptian, in connection with the sacerdotal, theology, and in contrast with the mysteries of ancient Greece. Read at the Royal Society of Literature, May 18, 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 standing.

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 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 mistranslated.

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 generalized 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 signifying 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 subsequent 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 implications, 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 presumption 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 pantheism, 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 worshipped the Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, under the same or similar symbols:—secondly, that the cow, or Isis, and the Io of the Greeks, truly represented, in the first instance, the earth or productive nature, and afterwards the mundane religion grounded on the worship of nature, or the [Greek (transliterated): to pan], 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 Brachmanic tribes of Hindostan. The progress from savagery to civilization is evidently first from the hunting to the pastoral state, a process which 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 important 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 life 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); [1]—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 subdivisions of polytheism, this great sacred Word,—for so the consecrated animals were called, [Greek (transliterated): ieroi logoi,]—became multiplied, till 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.


or the World without God is an impossible conception. This position is common to theist and pantheist. But the pantheist adds the converse—


for which the theist substitutes—


or that—

G=G, anterior and irrelative to the existence of the world, is equal to G+W. [2]

'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 without 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 polytheism of the great historical nations. I beg leave, therefore, 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,

1st. 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 sacerdotal 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 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 objection, than by giving, as my proof and instance, the Prometheus of AEschylus, 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 connexion 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 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 progress of mankind in the restoration of philosophy, science, and the ingenuous arts—it were irreligion not to acknowledge 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 imperfectly, 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 prevented polytheism from producing all its natural barbarizing 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."[3]

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 characters, 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 [Greek (transliterated): ta peri arch_on], 'de originibus rerum', 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 predisposition appears in their earliest poetry.

The first object, (or subject matter) of Greek philosophizing was in some measure philosophy itself;—not, indeed, as the product, but as the producing power—the productivity. 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 multifold application of faculties common to man and brute animals;—even this being in great measure a transfusion 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 Heraclitus, the senior, but yet contemporary, of AEschylus, 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 peri geneseos tou nou en anthropois' concerning the 'genesis', or birth of the 'nous' or reason in man. This the most venerable, and perhaps the most ancient, of Grecian 'myth', 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 responsibility—is involved in this characteristic of the sacred narrative, I am not alone persuaded, but distinctly aware. This, hovever, does not preclude us from seeing, nay, as an additional mark of the wisdom that inspired the sacred 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 consider 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 [Greek (transliterated): eros hierogluphikon],—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 [Greek (transliterated): tautaegorikon], —the tree of knowledge of good and evil,—an allegory, a [Greek (transliterated): propaideuma], though the noblest and the most pregnant of its kind.

The generation of the [Greek (transliterated): nous], or pure reason in man.

1. 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 [Greek: nous], or fire, was 'stolen,'—to mark its 'helero'—or rather its 'allo'-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 immediately acts; that it suffers no change, and receives no accession, from the inferior, but multiplies it-self by conversion, 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 arid 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 friendliest 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 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 transcendancy of the 'nous', the contra-distinctive faculty of man, as timeless, [Greek (transliterated): achronon ti,] 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 understandings. 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 [Greek: to amorphon], the [Greek: hudor prokosmikon], the [Greek: chaos], as the essentially unintelligible, yet necessarily presumed, basis or sub-position of all positions. That it is, scientifically considered, an indispensable idea for the human mind, just as the mathematical 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 [Greek: pothos] 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 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. 1. 2.)) out of which light, that is, the 'lux lucifica', as distinguished from 'lumen seu lux phaenomenalis', 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 parts.

And here the peculiar, the philosophic, genius of Greece began its f tal throb. Here it individualized itself in contra-distinction from the Hebrew archology, on the one side, and from the Ph nician, on the other. The Ph nician 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 comprehension by the plenitude of its excellence. With the Phoenician sages the cosmogony was their theogony and 'vice versa'. 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! [Greek: Ta athea egeneto, kai egeneto chaos,]—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—[Greek: kosmeisthai.] 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, preserved for us in the AEschylean Prometheus, stands midway betwixt both, yet is distinct in kind from either. With the Hebrew or purer Semitic, it assumes an X Y Z, (I take these letters in their algebraic application) an indeterminate 'Elohim', antecedent to the matter of the world, [Greek: hulae akosmos] no less than to the [Greek: hulae kekosmaemenae.] 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 Ph nician in considering this antecedent ground of corporeal matter, [Greek: ton somaton kai tou somatikou,] not so properly the cause of the latter, as the occasion and the still continuing substance. 'Maleria substat adliuc'. 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 videtur'; 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 introduced in the solution of the problem,

1. the beginning, self-sufficing, and immutable Creator;

2. the antecedent night as the identity, or including germ, of the light and darkness, that is, gravity;

3. the chaos; and

4. the material world resulting from the powers communicated by the divine 'fiat'. In the Phoenician scheme there are in fact but two—a self-organizing chaos, and the omniforrn nature as the result. In the Greek scheme we have three terms, 1. the 'hyle', [Greek: hulae], which holds the place of the chaos, or the waters, in the true system; 2. [Greek: ta s_omata], answering to the Mosaic heaven and earth; and 3. the Saturnian [Greek: chronoi huperchonioi],—which answer to the antecedent darkness of the Mosaic scheme, but to which the elder physico-theologists attributed a self-polarizing power—a 'natura gemina quae fit et facit, agit et patitur'. In other words, the 'Elohim' of the Greeks were still but a 'natura deorum', [Greek: to theion], 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 which 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 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 AEschylean 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 tenebrarum', the containing [Greek: prothemenon] of the 'thesis' and 'antithesis';—this the Greek placed anterior to the chaos;—the chaos itself being the struggle between the 'hyperchronia', the [Greek: ideai pronomoi], as the unevolved, unproduced, 'prothesis', of which [Greek: idea kai nomos]—(idea and law)—are the 'thesis' and 'antithesis'. (I use the word 'produced' in the mathematical sense, as a point elongating itself to a bipolar line.) Secondly, what Moses establishes, not merely as a transcendant 'Monas', but as an individual [Greek: Henas] likewise;—this the Greek took as a harmony, [Greek: Theoi hathanatoi, to theion], as distinguished from [Greek: o Theos]—or, to adopt the more expressive language of the Pythagoreans and cabalists 'numen numerantis'; and these are to be contemplated as the identity.

Now according to the Greek philosopheme or 'mythus', 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 [Greek: to theion], the 'thesis' becomes '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 'substans', 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 substantiato'. 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 following.

'In the world we see every where evidences of a unity, 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, magazines of food, stores of various sorts, pipes, spiracles, defences,—a house of many chambers, and the owner and inhabitant invisible.'[4]

Now, compare a plant, thus contemplated, 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 well known, mere excretions from the vegetable, eliminated, as lifeless, from the actual plant. The qualities are not its properties, but the properties, 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 ANALOGON, an anti-type of IDEA. And this [Greek: eid_olon] may approximate to a perfect likeness. 'Quod est simile, nequit 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 (henceforward no more idea, but irrecoverable by its own fatal act) commences the process of its own transmutation, as 'substans in substantiato', as the 'enteleche', or the 'vis formatrix', and it finishes the process as 'substans e substantiato', 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 [N^1 represents N superscript 1, i.e. N to the power of 1. text Ed.]:—

Nomos^1 = Product: N^2 = Property: N^3 = Faculty: N^4 = Function: N^5 = 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' [Greek: hen nomizomenois] (with the 'organismus' and its faculties and functions in the man,) it becomes itself a 'nomos'. But, observe, a 'nomos autonomos', or containing its law in itself likewise;—even as the 'nomos' produces for its highest 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 conception which, if the uncombining and infusile genius of our language allowed it, might be expressed by the term subject-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 'phaenomenon'.

By the benignity of Providence, the truths of most importance 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 familiarity of words which convey these truths for a clear understanding of the truths themselves! If the preceding disquisition, 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 [Greek: gn_othi seauton]—and almost instinctively shaping its course of search in conformity with the Platonic intimation:—[Greek: psuchaes phusin haxi_os logou katanoaesai oiei dunaton einai, haneu aes tou holou phuse_os]; but be this as it may, the ground work of the AEschylean '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 acknowledge 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;—[Greek: hen log'o z'oae aen, kai hae z'oae haen to ph'os t'on anthr'op'on]. And this I assert, was the philosophy of the mythic poets, who, like AEschylus, 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 constitutive power, for nomos or law, and the process is the same. Permit me to represent the identity or 'prothesis' by the letter Z and the 'thesis' and 'antithesis' by X and Y respectively. Then I say X by not being Y, but in consequence 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', [Greek: nomos physikos]. 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 convenience sake, employ the term 'Nous', the rational will, the practical reason.

We are now out of the holy jungle of transcendental mataphysics; 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 [Greek: psilosoph'on], qui non agnoscunt divinum, ideoque nec naturam, nisi nomine, agnoscunt; sed res cunctas ex sensuali corporeo cogitant, quibus hac ex causa interiora clausa manent, et simul cum illis exteriora quae proxima interioribus sunt'! And with no less confidence do I believe that the positions above given, true or false, are contained in the Promethean 'mythus'.

In this 'mythus', Jove is the impersonated representation or symbol of the 'nomos'—'Jupiter est quodcunque vides'. He is the 'mens 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 cosmotheism, 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. Prometheus, 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 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

1. '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 'nomoi ouoanioi kosmikoi', or 'dii majores', who, had joined or come over to Jove in the first schism:

3. 'Nomos damnaetaes'—the subjugator of the spirits, of the [Greek: ideai pronomoi], who, thus subjugated, became '[Greek: nomoi huponomioi hupospondoi], Titanes pacati, dii minores', that is, the elements considered as powers reduced to obedience under yet higher powers than themselves:

4. 'Nomos [Greek: politikos]', law in the Pauline sense, '[Greek: nomos allotrionomos]' in antithesis to '[Greek: nomos autonomos]'.

[Footnote 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 themselves in their apparel,' &c.—Ed.]

[Footnote 2: Mr. Coleridge was in the constant habit of expressing 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'; + 'more by', or,' in addition to'; = 'equal to', or, 'the same as'.—Ed].

[Footnote 3: Friend, III. Essay, 9.]

[Footnote 4: Aids to Reflection. Moral and Religious Aphorisms. Aphorism VI. Ed.]


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 established for the mere purposes of the particular state, unennobled 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 previously to this period, I shall offend no enlightened man if I say without distinction of parties—'intra muros peccatur et extra';—that the history of Christendom presents us with too many illustrations of this Junonian jealousy, this factious harrassing 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 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 relic of Paganism; and with a bitter smile would an AEschylus 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 intrigues with Europa, Io, &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 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.

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