Literary Remains, Vol. 2
by Coleridge
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Prometheus represents,

1. 'sensu generali', Idea [Greek: pronomos,] and in this sense he is a [Greek: 'theos homophulos'], a fellow-tribesman both of the 'dii majores', with Jove at their head, and of the Titans or 'dii pacati':

2. He represents Idea [Greek: 'philonomos, nomodeiktaes';] and in this sense the former friend and counsellor of Jove or 'Nous uranius':

3. [Greek: 'Logos philanthr'opos',] the divine humanity, the humane God, who retained unseen, kept back, or (in the 'catachresis' characteristic of the Phoenicio-Grecian mythology) stole, a portion or 'ignicula from the living spirit of law, which remained with the celestial gods unexpended [Greek: en t_o nomizesthai.] He gave that which, according to the whole analogy of things, should have existed either as pure divinity, the sole property and birth-right of the 'Dii Joviales', the 'Uranions', or was conceded to inferior beings as a 'substans in substantiato'. This spark divine Prometheus gave to an elect, a favored animal, not as a 'substans' or understanding, commensurate with, and confined by, the constitution and conditions of this particular organism, but as 'aliquid superstans, liberum, non subactum, invictum, impacatum, [Greek: mae nouizomenon.] This gift, by which we are to understand reason theoretical and practical, was therefore a [Greek: 'nomos autonomus']—unapproachable and unmodifiable by the animal basis—that is, by the pre-existing 'substans' with its products, the animal 'organismus' with its faculties and functions; but yet endowed with the power of potentiating, ennobling, and prescribing to, the substance; and hence, therefore, a [Greek: nomos nomopeithaes,] lex legisuada':

4. By a transition, ordinary even in allegory, and appropriate to mythic symbol, but especially significant in the present case—the transition, I mean, from the giver to the gift—the giver, in very truth, being the gift, 'whence the soul receives reason; and reason is her being,' says our Milton. Reason is from God, and God is reason, 'mens ipsissima'.

5. Prometheus represents, [Greek: nous en anthr'op'o—nous ag'onistaes]'. Thus contemplated, the 'Nous' is of necessity, powerless; for, all power, that is, productivity, or productive energy, is in Law, that is, [Greek: nomos allotrionomos]:[1] still, however, the Idea in the Law, the 'numerus numerans' become [Greek: nomos], is the principle of the Law; and if with Law dwells power, so with the knowledge or the Idea 'scientialis' of the Law, dwells prophecy and foresight. A perfect astronomical time-piece in relation to the motions of the heavenly bodies, or the magnet in the mariner's compass in relation to the magnetism of the earth, is a sufficient illustration.

6. Both [Greek: nomos] and Idea (or 'Nous') are the 'verbum'; but, as in the former, it is 'verbum fiat' 'the Word of the Lord,'—in the latter it must be the 'verbum fiet', or, 'the Word of the Lord in the mouth of the prophet.' 'Pari argumento', as the knowledge is therefore not power, the power is not knowledge. The [Greek: nomos], the [Greek: Zeus pantokrat'or], seeks to learn, and, as it were, to wrest the secret, the hateful secret, of his own fate, namely, the transitoriness adherent to all antithesis; for the identity or the absolute is alone eternal. This secret Jove would extort from the 'Nous', or Prometheus, which is the sixth representment of Prometheus.

7. Introduce but the least of real as opposed to 'ideal', the least speck of positive existence, even though it were but the mote in a sun beam, into the sciential 'contemplamen' or theorem, and it ceases to be science. 'Ratio desinit esse pura ratio et fit discursus, stat subter et fit [Greek: hypothetikon]:—non superstat'. The 'Nous' is bound to a rock, the immovable firmness of which is indissolubly connected with its barrenness, its non-productivity. Were it productive it would be 'Nomos'; but it is 'Nous', because it is not 'Nomos'.

8. Solitary [Greek: abat_o en eraemia]. Now I say that the 'Nous', notwithstanding its diversity from the 'Nomizomeni', is yet, relatively to their supposed original essence, [Greek: pasi tois nomizomenois tantogenaes], of the same race or 'radix': though in another sense, namely, in relation to the [Greek: pan theion]—the pantheistic 'Elohim', it is conceived anterior to the schism, and to the conquest and enthronization of Jove who succeeded. Hence the Prometheus of the great tragedian is [Greek: theos suggenaes]. The kindred deities come to him, some to soothe, to condole; others to give weak, yet friendly, counsels of submission; others to tempt, or insult. The most prominent of the latter, and the most odious to the imprisoned and insulated 'Nous', is Hermes, the impersonation of interest with the entrancing and serpentine 'Caduceus', and, as interest or motives intervening between the reason and its immediate self-determinations, with the antipathies to the [Greek: nomos autonomos]. The Hermes impersonates the eloquence of cupidity, the cajolement of power regnant; and in a larger sense, custom, the irrational in language, [Greek: rhaemata ta rhaetorika], the fluent, from [Greek: rheo]—the rhetorical in opposition to [Greek: logoi, ta noaeta]. But, primarily, the Hermes is the symbol of interest. He is the messenger, the inter-nuncio, in the low but expressive phrase, the go-between, to beguile or insult. And for the other visitors of Prometheus, the elementary powers, or spirits of the elements, 'Titanes pacati', [Greek: theoi huponomioi], vassal potentates, and their solicitations, the noblest interpretation will be given, if I repeat the lines of our great contemporary poet:—

Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own: Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind, And e'en with something of a mother's mind, And no unworthy aim, The homely nurse doth all she can To make her foster-child, her inmate, Man Forget the glories he hath known And that imperial palace whence he came:—


which exquisite passage is prefigured in coarser clay, indeed, and with a less lofty spirit, but yet excellently in their kind, and even more fortunately for the illustration and ornament of the present commentary, in the fifth, sixth, and seventh stanzas of Dr. Henry More's poem on the Pre-existence of the Soul:—

Thus groping after our own center's near And proper substance, we grew dark, contract, Swallow'd up of earthly life! Ne what we were Of old, thro' ignorance can we detect. Like noble babe, by fate or friends' neglect Left to the care of sorry salvage wight, Grown up to manly years cannot conject His own true parentage, nor read aright What father him begot, what womb him brought to light.

So we, as stranger infants elsewhere born, Cannot divine from what spring we did flow; Ne dare these base alliances to scorn, Nor lift ourselves a whit from hence below; Ne strive our parentage again to know, Ne dream we once of any other stock, Since foster'd upon Rhea's [1] knees we grow, In Satyrs' arms with many a mow and mock Oft danced; and hairy Pan our cradle oft hath rock'd!

But Pan nor Rhea be our parentage! We been the offspring of the all seeing Nous, &c.

To express the supersensual character of the reason, its abstraction from sensation, we find the Prometheus [Greek: aterpae]—while in the yearnings accompanied with the remorse incident to, and only possible in consequence of the Nous being, the rational, self-conscious, and therefore responsible will, he is [Greek: gupi diaknaiomenos]

If to these contemplations we add the control and despotism exercised on the free reason by Jupiter in his symbolical character, as [Greek: nomos politikos];—by custom (Hermes); by necessity, [Greek: bia kai kratos];—by the mechanic arts and powers, [Greek: suggeneis to Noo] though they are, and which are symbolized in Hephaistos,—we shall see at once the propriety of the title, Prometheus, [Greek: desmotaes].

9. Nature, or 'Zeus' as the [Greek: nomos en nomizomenois], knows herself only, can only come to a knowledge of herself, in man! And even in man, only as man is supernatural, above nature, noetic. But this knowledge man refuses to communicate; that is, the human understanding alone is at once self-conscious and conscious of nature. And this high prerogative it owes exclusively to its being an assessor of the reason. Yet even the human understanding in its height of place seeks vainly to appropriate the ideas of the pure reason, which it can only represent by 'idola'. Here, then, the 'Nous' stands as Prometheus [Greek: antipalos], 'renuens'—in hostile opposition to Jupitor 'Inquisitor'.

10. Yet finally, against the obstacles and even under the fostering influences of the 'Nomos', [Greek: tou nomimou], a son of Jove himself, but a descendant from Io, the mundane religion, as contra-distinguished from the sacerdotal 'cultus', or religion of the state, an Alcides 'Liberator' will arise, and the 'Nous', or divine principle in man, will be Prometheus [Greek: heleutheromenos].

Did my limits or time permit me to trace the persecutions, wanderings, and migrations of the Io, the mundane religion, through the whole map marked out by the tragic poet, the coincidences would bring the truth, the unarbitrariness, of the preceding exposition as near to demonstration as can rationally be required on a question of history, that must, for the greater part, be answered by combination of scattered facts. But this part of my subject, together with a particular exemplification of the light which my theory throws both on the sense and the beauty of numerous passages of this stupendous poem, I must reserve for a future communication.

NOTES. [3]

v. 15. [Greek: pharaggi]:—'in a coomb, or combe.' v. 17. [Greek: ex'oriazein gar patros logous baru]. [Greek: euoriazein], as the editor confesses, is a word introduced into the text against the authority of all editions and manuscripts. I should prefer [Greek: ex'oriazein], notwithstanding its being a [Greek: hapax legomenon]. The [Greek: eu]—seems to my tact too free and easy a word;—and yet our 'to trifle with' appears the exact meaning.

[Footnote 1: I scarcely need say, that I use the word [Greek: allotrionomos] as a participle active, as exercising law on another, not as receiving law from another, though the latter is the classical force (I suppose) of the word.]

[Footnote 2: Rhea (from [Greek: rheo], 'fluo'), that is, the earth as the transitory, the ever-flowing nature, the flux and sum of 'phenomena', or objects of the outward sense, in contradistinction from the earth as Vesta, as the firmamental law that sustains and disposes the apparent world! The Satyrs represent the sports and appetences of the sensuous nature ([Greek: phronaema sarkos])—Pan, or the total life of the earth, the presence of all in each, the universal 'organismus' of bodies and bodily energy.]

[Footnote 3: Written in Bp. Blomfield's edition, and communicated by Mr. Cary. Ed.]


The justice of these remarks cannot be disputed, though some of them are rather too figurative for sober criticism.

Most genuine! A figurative remark! If this strange writer had any meaning, it must be:—Headly's criticism is just throughout, but conveyed in a style too figurative for prose composition. Chalmers's own remarks are wholly mistaken;—too silly for any criticism, drunk or sober, and in language too flat for any thing. In Daniel's Sonnets there is scarcely one good line; while his Hymen's Triumph, of which Chalmers says not one word, exhibits a continued series of first-rate beauties in thought, passion, and imagery, and in language and metre is so faultless, that the style of that poem may without extravagance be declared to be imperishable English.



I almost wonder that the inimitable humour, and the rich sound and propulsive movement of the verse, have not rendered Corbet a popular poet. I am convinced that a reprint of his poems, with illustrative and chit-chat biographical notes, and cuts by Cruikshank, would take with the public uncommonly well. September, 1823.


There is more weighty bullion sense in this book, than I ever found in the same number of pages of any uninspired writer.


Opinion and affection extremely differ. I may affect a woman best, but it does not follow I must think her the handsomest woman in the world. ... Opinion is something wherein I go about to give reason why all the world should think as I think. Affection is a thing wherein I look after the pleasing of myself.

Good! This is the true difference betwixt the beautiful and the agreeable, which Knight and the rest of that [Greek: plaethos atheon] have so beneficially confounded, 'meretricibus scilicet et Plutoni'.

O what an insight the whole of this article gives into a wise man's heart, who has been compelled to act with the many, as one of the many! It explains Sir Thomas More's zealous Romanism, &c.


Excellent! O! to have been with Selden over his glass of wine, making every accident an outlet and a vehicle of wisdom!


The old poets had no other reason but this, their verse was, sung to music; otherwise it had been a senseless thing to have fettered up themselves.

No one man can know all things: even Selden here talks ignorantly. Verse is in itself a music, and the natural symbol of that union of passion with thought and pleasure, which constitutes the essence of all poetry, as contradistinguished from science, and distinguished from history civil or natural. To Pope's Essay on Man,—in short, to whatever is mere metrical good sense and wit, the remark applies.


Verse proves nothing but the quantity of syllables; they are not meant for logic.

True; they, that is, verses, are not logic; but they are, or ought to be, the envoys and representatives of that vital passion, which is the practical cement of logic; and without which logic must remain inert.

[Footnote 1: These remarks on Selden, Wheeler, and Birch, were communicated by Mr. Gary. Ed.]


(Vol. I. p. 77.)

A miracle, usually so termed, is the exertion of a supernatural power in some act, and contrary to the regular course of nature, &c.

Where is the proof of this as drawn from Scripture, from fact recorded, or from doctrine affirmed? Where the proof of its logical possibility,—that is, that the word has any representable sense? Contrary to 2x2=4 is 2x2=5, or that the same fire acting at the same moment on the same subject should burn it and not burn it.

The course of nature is either one with, or a reverential synonyme of, the ever present divine agency; or it is a self-subsisting derivative from, and dependent on, the divine will. In either case this author's assertion would amount to a charge of self-contradiction on the Author of all things. Before the spread of Grotianism, or the Old Bailey 'nolens volens' Christianity, such language was unexampled. A miracle is either 'super naturam', or it is simply 'praeter experientiam.' If nature be a collective term for the sum total of the mechanic powers,—that is, of the act first manifested to the senses in the conductor A, arriving at Z by the sensible chain of intermediate conductors, B, C, D, &c.;—then every motion of my arm is 'super naturam'. If this be not the sense, then nature is but a wilful synonyme of experience, and then the first noticed aerolithes, Sulzer's first observation of the galvanic arch, &c. must have been miracles.

As erroneous as the author's assertions are logically, so false are they historically, in the effect, which the miracles in and by themselves did produce on those, who, rejecting the doctrine, were eye-witnesses of the miracles;—and psychologically, in the effect which miracles, as miracles, are calculated to produce on the human mind. Is it possible that the author can have attentively studied the first two or three chapters of St. John's gospel?

There is but one possible tenable definition of a miracle,—namely, an immediate consequent from a heterogeneous antecedent. This is its essence. Add the words, 'praeter experientiam adhuc', or 'id temporis', and you have the full and popular or practical sense of the term miracle. [1]

[Footnote A: See The Friend, Vol. III. Essay 2. Ed.]



In the description of enthusiasm, the author has plainly had in view individual characters, and those too in a light, in which they appeared to him; not clear and discriminate ideas. Hence a mixture of truth and error, of appropriate and inappropriate terms, which it is scarcely possible to disentangle. Part applies to fanaticism; part to enthusiasm; and no small portion of this latter to enthusiasm not pure, but as it exists in particular men, modified by their imperfections—and bad because not wholly enthusiasm. I regret this, because it is evidently the discourse of a very powerful mind;—and because I am convinced that the disease of the age is want of enthusiasm, and a tending to fanaticism. You may very naturally object that the senses, in which I use the two terms, fanaticism and enthusiasm, are private interpretations equally as, if not more than, Mr. Birch's. They are so; but the difference between us is, that without reference to either term, I have attempted to ascertain the existence and diversity of two states of moral being; and then having found in our language two words of very fluctuating and indeterminate use, indeed, but the one word more frequently bordering on the one state, the other on the other, I try to fix each to that state exclusively. And herein I follow the practice of all scientific men, whether naturalists or metaphysicians, and the dictate of common sense, that one word ought to have but one meaning. Thus by Hobbes and others of the materialists, compulsion and obligation were used indiscriminately; but the distinction of the two senses is the condition of all moral responsibility. Now the effect of Mr. Birch's use of the words is to continue the confusion. Remember we could not reason at all, if our conceptions and terms were not more single and definite than the things designated. Enthusiasm is the absorption of the individual in the object contemplated from the vividness or intensity of his conceptions and convictions: fanaticism is heat, or accumulation and direction, of feeling acquired by contagion, and relying on the sympathy of sect or confederacy; intense sensation with confused or dim conceptions. Hence the fanatic can exist only in a crowd, from inward weakness anxious for outward confirmation; and, therefore, an eager proselyter and intolerant. The enthusiast, on the contrary, is a solitary, who lives in a world of his own peopling, and for that cause is disinclined to outward action. Lastly, enthusiasm is susceptible of many degrees, (according to the proportionateness of the objects contemplated,) from the highest grandeur of moral and intellectual being, even to madness; but fanaticism is one and the same, and appears different only from the manners and original temperament of the individual. There is a white and a red heat; a sullen glow as well as a crackling flame; cold-blooded as well as hot-blooded fanaticism. Enthusiasts, [Greek: enthousiastai] from [Greek: entheos, ois ho theos enesi], or possibly from [Greek: en thusiais], those who, in sacrifice to, or at, the altar of truth or falsehood, are possessed by a spirit or influence mightier than their own individuality. 'Fanatici-qui circum fana favorem mutuo contrahunt el afflant'—those who in the same conventicle, or before the same shrine, relique or image, heat and ferment by co-acervation.

I am fully aware that the words are used by the best writers indifferently, but such must be the case in very many words in a composite language, such as the English, before they are desynonymized. Thus imagination and fancy; chronical and temporal, and many others.


Note to pages 196,197.

This chapter is plausible, shewy, insinuating, and (as indeed is the character of the whole work) 'makes the amiable.' To many,—to myself formerly,—it has appeared a mere dispute about words: but it is by no means of so harmless a character, for it tends to give a false direction to our thoughts, by diverting the conscience from the ruined and corrupted state, in which we are without Christ. Sin is the disease. What is the remedy? What is the antidote?—Charity?—Pshaw! Charity in the large apostolic sense of the term is the health, the state to be obtained by the use of the remedy, not the sovereign balm itself,—faith of grace,—faith in the God-manhood, the cross, the mediation, and perfected righteousness, of Jesus, to the utter rejection and abjuration of all righteousness of our own! Faith alone is the restorative. The Romish scheme is preposterous;—it puts the rill before the spring. Faith is the source,—charity, that is, the whole Christian life, is the stream from it. It is quite childish to talk of faith being imperfect without charity. As wisely might you say that a fire, however bright and strong, was imperfect without heat, or that the sun, however cloudless, was imperfect without beams. The true answer would be:—it is not faith,—but utter reprobate faithlessness, which may indeed very possibly coexist with a mere acquiescence of the understanding in certain facts recorded by the Evangelists. But did John, or Paul, or Martin Luther, ever flatter this barren belief with the name of saving faith? No. Little ones! Be not deceived. Wear at your bosoms that precious amulet against all the spells of antichrist, the 20th verse of the 2nd chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Galatians:—'I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life, which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me'.

Thus we see even our faith is not ours in its origin: but is the faith of the Son of God graciously communicated to us. Beware, therefore, that you do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain. If, therefore, we are saved by charity, we are saved by the keeping of the Law, which doctrine St. Paul declared to be an apostacy from Christ, and a bewitching of the soul from the truth. But, you will perhaps say, can a man be saved without charity?—The answer is, a man without charity cannot be saved: the faith of the Son of God is not in him.

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


The character and circumstances of the animal and vegetable remains discovered in the northern zone, in Siberia and other parts of Russia,—all with scarcely an exception belonging to 'genera' that are now only found in, and require, a tropical climate,—are such as receive no adequate solution from the hypothesis of their having been casually floated thither, and deposited, by the waters of a deluge, still less of the Noachian deluge, as related and described by the great Hebrew historian and legislator. In order to a full solution of this problem, two 'data' are requisite:

1. A total change of climate:

2. That this change shall have been, not gradual, but sudden, instantaneous, and incompatible with the life and subsistency of the animals and vegetables in these high latitudes, at that period, and previously, existing.

Now these 'data' or conditions will be afforded, if we assume a total submersion of the surface of this planet, even of its highest mountains then and now existing, by a sudden contemporaneous mass of waters, and that the evaporation of these waters was aided by a steady wind, especially adapted to this purpose in a peculiarly dry atmosphere, and was (as it must of necessity have been) most rapid and intense at the equator and within the tropics proportionally. For—as it has been demonstrated by Dr. Wollaston's experiment, in which the evaporation, occasioned by boiling water at the mid point of a line of water, froze the fluid at the two ends, that is, at a given distance from the greatest intensity of the evaporative process,—the effect of an evaporation of the supposed power and rapidity would be to produce at certain distances from the 'maximum' point, north and south, a vast barrier of ice,—such as having once taken place, and being of such mass and magnitude as to be only in a small degree diminishable by the ensuing summer, must have become permanent, and beyond the power of all the known and ordinary dissolving agents of nature. That the situation of the magnetic poles of the earth, and the almost certain connection of magnetism with cold, no less than with metallic cohesion, co-operated in determining the distance of the barriers, or two poles, of evaporation, from its centre or the 'maximum' of its activity, is highly probable, and receives a strong confirmation from the open sea and diminished cold, both at the north and south zones, on the ulterior of the barrier, and towards the true or physical poles of the earth.

Now the action of a powerful co-agent in the evaporative process, such as is assumed in this hypothesis, is a fact of history. 'And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged'. Gen. viii. 1. I do not recollect the Hebrew word rendered 'assuaged;' but I will consult my learned friend Hyman Hurwitz on its radical, and its primary sense. At all events, the note by Pyle in Drs. Mant and D'Oyly's Bible is arbitrary, though excusable by the state of chemical science in his time.

The problem of the multitude of 'genera' of animals, and their several exclusive acclimatements at the present period may, likewise, I persuade myself, receive a probable solution by an hypothesis legitimated by known laws and fair analogies. But of this hereafter.



It has just struck my feelings that the Pherecydean origin of prose being granted, prose must have struck men with greater admiration than poetry. In the latter, it was the language of passion and emotion: it is what they themselves spoke and heard in moments of exultation, indignation, &c. But to hear an evolving roll, or a succession of leaves, talk continually the language of deliberate reason in a form of continued preconception, of a 'Z' already possessed when 'A' was being uttered,—this must have appeared godlike. I feel myself in the same state, when in the perusal of a sober, yet elevated and harmonious, succession of sentences and periods, I abstract my mind from the particular passage, and sympathize with the wonder of the common people who say of an eloquent man:—'He talks like a book!'


Manners change from generation to generation, and with manners morals appear to change,—actually change with some, but appear to change with all but the abandoned. A young man of the present day who should act as Tom Jones is supposed to act at Upton, with Lady Bellaston, &c. would not be a Tom Jones; and a Tom Jones of the present day, without perhaps being in the ground a better man, would have perished rather than submit to be kept by a harridan of fortune. Therefore this novel is, and, indeed, pretends to be, no exemplar of conduct. But, notwithstanding all this, I do loathe the cant which can recommend Pamela and Clarissa Harlowe as strictly moral, though they poison the imagination of the young with continued doses of 'tinct. lyttae', while Tom Jones is prohibited as loose. I do not speak of young women;—but a young man whose heart or feelings can be injured, or even his passions excited, by aught in this novel, is already thoroughly corrupt. There is a cheerful, sun-shiny, breezy spirit that prevails everywhere, strongly contrasted with the close, hot, day-dreamy continuity of Richardson. Every indiscretion, every immoral act, of Tom Jones, (and it must be remembered that he is in every one taken by surprise—his inward principles remaining firm—) is so instantly punished by embarrassment and unanticipated evil consequences of his folly, that the reader's mind is not left for a moment to dwell or run riot on the criminal indulgence itself. In short, let the requisite allowance be made for the increased refinement of our manners,—and then I dare believe that no young man who consulted his heart and conscience only, without adverting to what the world would say—could rise from the perusal of Fielding's Tom Jones, Joseph Andrews, or Amelia, without feeling himself a better man;—at least, without an intense conviction that he could not be guilty of a base act.

If I want a servant or mechanic, I wish to know what he does:—but of a friend, I must know what he is. And in no writer is this momentous distinction so finely brought forward as by Fielding. We do not care what Blifil does;—the deed, as separate from the agent, may be good or ill;—but Blifil is a villain;—and we feel him to be so from the very moment he, the boy Blifil, restores Sophia's poor captive bird to its native and rightful liberty.

Book xiv. ch. 8.

Notwithstanding the sentiment of the Roman satirist, which denies the divinity of fortune; and the opinion of Seneca to the same purpose; Cicero, who was, I believe, a wiser man than either of them, expressly holds the contrary; and certain it is there are some incidents in life so very strange and unaccountable, that it seems to require more than human skill and foresight in producing them.

Surely Juvenal, Seneca, and Cicero, all meant the same thing, namely, that there was no chance, but instead of it providence, either human or divine.

Book xv. ch. 9.

The rupture with Lady Bellaston.

Even in the most questionable part of Tom Jones, I cannot but think, after frequent reflection, that an additional paragraph, more fully and forcibly unfolding Tom Jones's sense of self-degradation on the discovery of the true character of the relation in which he had stood to Lady Bellaston, and his awakened feeling of the dignity of manly chastity, would have removed in great measure any just objections, at all events relatively to Fielding himself, and with regard to the state of manners in his time.

Book xvi. ch. 5.

That refined degree of Platonic affection which is absolutely detached from the flesh, and is indeed entirely and purely spiritual, is a gift confined to the female part of the creation; many of whom I have heard declare (and doubtless with great truth) that they would, with the utmost readiness, resign a lover to a rival, when such resignation was proved to be necessary for the temporal interest of such lover.

I firmly believe that there are men capable of such a sacrifice, and this, without pretending to, or even admiring or seeing any virtue in, this absolute detachment from the flesh.

[Footnote 1: Communicated by Mr. Gillman, Ed.]


Jonathan Wild is assuredly the best of all the fictions in which a villain is throughout the prominent character. But how impossible it is by any force of genius to create a sustained attractive interest for such a groundwork, and how the mind wearies of, and shrinks from, the more than painful interest, the [Greek: mis_eton], of utter depravity,—Fielding himself felt and endeavoured to mitigate and remedy by the (on all other principles) far too large a proportion, and too quick recurrence, of the interposed chapters of moral reflection, like the chorus in the Greek tragedy,—admirable specimens as these chapters are of profound irony and philosophic satire. Chap. VI. Book 2, on Hats,[Footnote 1]—brief as it is, exceeds any thing even in Swift's Lilliput, or Tale of the Tub. How forcibly it applies to the Whigs, Tories, and Radicals of our own times.

Whether the transposition of Fielding's scorching wit (as B. III. c. xiv.) to the mouth of his hero be objectionable on the ground of incredulus odi', or is to be admired as answering the author's purpose by unrealizing the story, in order to give a deeper reality to the truths intended,—I must leave doubtful, yet myself inclining to the latter judgment. 27th Feb. 1832.

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

[Footnote 2: 'In which our hero makes a speech well worthy to be celebrated; and the behaviour of one of the gang, perhaps more unnatural than any other part of this history.']


Barry Cornwall is a poet, 'me saltem judice'; and in that sense of the term, in which I apply it to C. Lamb and W. Wordsworth. There are poems of great merit, the authors of which I should yet not feel impelled so to designate.

The faults of these poems are no less things of hope, than the beauties; both are just what they ought to be,—that is, now.

If B.C. be faithful to his genius, it in due time will warn him, that as poetry is the identity of all other knowledges, so a poet cannot be a great poet, but as being likewise inclusively an historian and naturalist, in the light, as well as the life, of philosophy: all other men's worlds are his chaos.

Hints 'obiter' are:—

not to permit delicacy and exquisiteness to seduce into effeminacy.

Not to permit beauties by repetition to become mannerisms.

To be jealous of fragmentary composition,—as epicurism of genius, and apple-pie made all of quinces.

'Item', that dramatic poetry must be poetry hid in thought and passion,—not thought or passion disguised in the dress of poetry.

Lastly, to be economic and withholding in similies, figures, &c. They will all find their place, sooner or later, each as the luminary of a sphere of its own. There can be no galaxy in poetry, because it is language,—'ergo' processive,—'ergo' every the smallest star must be seen singly.

There are not five metrists in the kingdom, whose works are known by me, to whom I could have held myself allowed to have spoken so plainly. But B.C. is a man of genius, and it depends on himself—(competence protecting him from gnawing or distracting cares)—to become a rightful poet,—that is, a great man.

Oh! for such a man worldly prudence is transfigured into the highest spiritual duty! How generous is self-interest in him, whose true self is all that is good and hopeful in all ages, as far as the language of Spenser, Shakspeare, and Milton shall become the mother-tongue!

A map of the road to Paradise, drawn in Purgatory, on the confines of Hell, by S.T.C. July 30, 1819.

[Footnote 1: Written in Mr. Lamb's copy of the 'Dramatic Scenes'. Ed.]


O! That it were as it was wont to be, When thy old friends of fire, all full of thee, Fought against frowns with smiles; gave glorius chace To persecutions; and against the face Of death and fiercest dangers durst with brave And sober pace march on to meet a grave! On their bold breast about the world they bore thee, And to the teeth of hell stood up to teach thee, In centre of their inmost souls they wore thee, Where racks and torments strove in vain to reach thee! Powers of my soul, be proud, And speak aloud To the dear-bought nations this redeeming name, And in the wealth of one rich word proclaim New smiles to nature! May it be no wrong, Blest heavens! to you and your superior song, That we, dark sons of dust and sorrow, Awhile dare borrow The name of your delights and your desires, And fit it to so far inferior lyres!—Our lispings have their music too, Ye mighty orbs! as well as you; Nor yields the noblest nest Of warbling cherubs to the ear of love, A melody above The low fond murmurs from the loyal breast Of a poor panting turtle dove. We mortals too Have leave to do The same bright business, ye third heavens with you.

[Footnote 1: This poem was found in Mr. Coleridge's hand-writing on a sheet of paper with other passages undoubtedly of his own composition. There is something, however, in it which leads me to think it transcribed or translated from some other writer, though I have been unable from recollection or inquiry to ascertain the fact. It is published here, therefore, expressly under caution. Ed.]


B.I.c.9. Life of Eliezer.

He will not truant it now in the afternoon, but with convenient speed returns to Abraham, who onely was worthy of such a servant, who onely was worthy of such a master.

On my word, Eliezer did his business in an orderly and sensible manner; but what there is to call forth this hyper-encomiastic—'who only'—I cannot see.

B.II.c.3. Life of Paracelsus. It is matter of regret with me, that Fuller, (whose wit, alike in quantity, quality, and perpetuity, surpassing that of the wittiest in a witty age, robbed him of the praise not less due to him for an equal superiority in sound, shrewd, good sense, and freedom of intellect,) had not looked through the two Latin folios of Paracelsus's Works. It is not to be doubted that a rich and delightful article would have been the result. For who like Fuller could have brought out and set forth, this singular compound of true philosophic genius with the morals of a quack and the manners of a king of the gypsies! Nevertheless, Paracelsus belonged to his age—the dawn of experimental science: and a well written critique on his life and writings would present, through the magnifying glass of a caricature, the distinguishing features of the Helmonts, Kirchers, &c. in short, of the host of naturalists of the sixteenth century. The period might begin with Paracelsus and end with Sir Kenelm Digby.

N. B. The potential, ([Greek: Logos theanthropos]) the ground of the prophetic, directed the first thinkers, (the 'Mystae') to the metallic bodies, as the key of all natural science. The then actual blended with this instinct all the fancies and fond desires, and false perspective of the childhood of intellect. The essence was truth, the form was folly: and this is the definition of alchemy. Nevertheless the very terms bear witness to the veracity of the original instinct. The world of sensible experience cannot be more luminously divided than into the modifying powers, [Greek: to allo],—that which differences, makes this other than that; and the [Greek: met allo]—that which is beyond, or deeper than the modification. 'Metallon' is strictly the base of the mode; and such have the metals been determined to be by modern chemistry. And what are now the great problems of chemistry? The difference of the metals themselves, their origin, the causes of their locations, of their co-existence in the same ore—as, for instance, iridium, osmium, palladium, rhodium, and iron with platinum. Were these problems solved, the results who dare limit? In addition to the 'mechanique celeste', we might have a new department of astronomy, the 'chymie celeste', that is, a philosophic astrology. And to this I do not hesitate to refer the whole connection between alchemy and astrology, the same divinity in the idea, the same childishness in the attempt to realize it. Nay, the very invocations of spirits were not without a ground of truth. The light was for the greater part suffocated and the rest fantastically refracted, but still it was light struggling in the darkness. And I am persuaded, that to the full triumph of science, it will be necessary that nature should be commanded more spiritually than hitherto, that is, more directly in the power of the will.

B. IV. c. 19. The Prince.

He sympathizeth with him that by a proxy is corrected for his offence.

See Sir W. Scott's Fortunes of Nigel. In an oriental despotism one would not have been surprised at finding such a custom, but in a Christian court, and under the light of Protestantism, it is marvellous. It would be well to ascertain, if possible, the earliest date of this contrivance; whether it existed under the Plantagenets, or whether first under the Tudors, or lastly, whether it was a precious import from Scotland with gentle King Jamie.

Ib. c. 21. The King.

He is a mortal god.

Compare the fulsome flattery of these and other passages in this volume (though modest to the common language of James's priestly courtiers) with the loyal but free and manly tone of Fuller's later works, towards the close of Charles the First's reign and under the Commonwealth and Protectorate. And doubtless this was not peculiar to Fuller: but a great and lasting change was effected in the mind of the country generally. The bishops and other church dignitaries tried for a while to renew the old king-godding 'mumpsimus'; but the second Charles laughed at them, and they quarrelled with his successor, and hated the hero who delivered them from him too thoroughly to have flattered him with any unction, even if William's Dutch phlegm had not precluded the attempt by making its failure certain.


B. V. c. 2.

God gave magistrates power to punish them, else they bear the sword in vain. They may command people to serve God, who herein have no cause to complain.

And elsewhere. The only serious 'macula' in Fuller's mind is his uniform support of the right and duty of the civil magistrate to punish errors in belief. Fuller would, indeed, recommend moderation in the practice; but of 'upas', 'woorara', and persecution, there are no moderate doses possible.


Part I. c. 5.

Yet there want not learned writers (whom I need not name) of the opinion that even the instrumental penmen of the Scripture might commit [Greek: hamartaemata mnaemonika]: though open that window to profaneness, and it will be in vain to shut any dores; 'Let God be true, and every man a lyer'.

It has been matter of complaint with hundreds, yea, it is an old cuckoo song of grim saints, that the Reformation came to its close long before it came to its completion. But the cause of this imperfection has been fully laid open by no party,—'scilicet', that in divines of both parties of the Reformers, the Protestants and the Detestants, there was the same relic of the Roman 'lues',—the habit of deciding for or against the orthodoxy of a position, not according to its truth or falsehood, not on grounds of reason or of history, but by the imagined consequences of the position. The very same principles on which the pontifical polemics vindicate the Papal infallibility, Fuller 'et centum alii' apply to the (if possible) still more extravagant notion of the absolute truth and divinity of every syllable of the text of the books of the Old and New Testament as we have it.


Sure I am, that one of as much meekness, as some are of moroseness, even upright Moses himself, in his service of the essential and increated truth (of higher consequence than the historical truth controverted betwixt us) had notwithstanding 'a respect to the reward'. Heb. xi. 26.

In religion the faith pre-supposed in the respect, and as its condition, gives to the motive a purity and an elevation which of itself, and where the recompense is looked for in temporal and carnal pleasures or profits, it would not have.


B. I. cent. 5.

PELAGIUS:—Let no foreiner insult on the infelicity of our land in bearing this monster.

It raises, or ought to raise, our estimation of Fuller's good sense and the general temperance of his mind, when we see the heavy weight of prejudices, the universal code of his age, incumbent on his judgment, and which nevertheless left sanity of opinion, the general character of his writings: this remark was suggested by the term 'monster' attached to the worthy Cambrian Pelagius—the teacher Arminianismi ante Arminium.

B. II. cent. 6. s. 8.

Whereas in Holy Writ, when the Apostles (and the Papists commonly call Augustine the English apostle, how properly we shall see hereafter,) went to a foreign nation, 'God gave them the language thereof, &c.'

What a loss that Fuller has not made a reference to his authorities for this assertion! I am sure he could have found none in the New Testament, but facts that imply, and, in the absence of all such proof, prove the contrary.

Ib. s. 6.

Thus we see the whole week bescattered with Saxon idols, whose pagan gods were the godfathers of the days, and gave them their names. 'This some zealot may behold as the object of a necessary reformation, desiring to have the days of the week new dipt, and called after other names'. Though indeed this supposed scandal will not offend the wise, as beneath their notice, and cannot offend the ignorant, as above their knowledge.

A curious prediction fulfilled a few years after in the Quakers, and well worthy of being extracted and addressed to the present Friends.

Memorandum.—It is the error of the Friends, but natural and common to almost all sects,—the perversion of the wisdom of the first establishers of their sect into their own folly, by not distinguishing between the conditionally right and the permanently and essentially so. For example: It was right conditionally in the Apostles to forbid black puddings even to the Gentile Christians, and it was wisdom in them; but to continue the prohibition would be folly and Judaism in us. The elder church very sensibly distinguished episcopal from apostolic inspiration; the episcopal spirit, that which dictated what was fit and profitable for a particular community or church at a particular period,—from the apostolic and catholic spirit which dictated truth and duties of permanent and universal obligation.

Ib. cent. 7.

This Latin dedication is remarkably pleasing and elegant. Milton in his classical youth, the aera of Lycidas, might have written it—only he would have given it in Latin verse.

B. x. cent. 17.

Bp. of London. May your Majesty be pleased, that the ancient canon may be remembered, 'Schismatici contra episcopos non sunt audiendi'. And there is another decree of a very ancient council, that no man should be admitted to speak against that whereunto he hath formerly subscribed.

And as for you, Doctor Reynolds, and your sociates, how much are you bound to his Majestie's clemencye, permitting you contrary to the statute 'primo Elizabethae', so freely to speak against the liturgie and discipline established. Faine would I know the end you aime at, and whether you be not of Mr. Cartwright's minde, who affirmed, that we ought in ceremonies rather to conforme to the Turks than to the Papists. I doubt you approve his position, because here appearing before his Majesty in Turkey-gownes, not in your scholastic habits, according to the order of the Universities.

If any man, who like myself hath attentively read the Church history of the reign of Elizabeth, and the conference before, and with, her pedant successor, can shew me any essential difference between Whitgift and Bancroft during their rule, and Bonner and Gardiner in the reign of Mary, I will be thankful to him in my heart and for him in my prayers. One difference I see, namely, that the former professing the New Testament to be their rule and guide, and making the fallibility of all churches and individuals an article of faith, were more inconsistent, and therefore less excusable, than the Popish persecutors. 30 Aug. 1824.

N.B. The crimes, murderous as they were, were the vice and delusion of the age, and it is ignorance to lack charity towards the persons, Papist or Protestant; but the tone, the spirit, characterizes, and belongs to, the individual: for example, the bursting spleen of this Bancroft, not so satisfied with this precious arbitrator for having pre-condemned his opponents, as fierce and surly with him for not hanging them up unheard.

At the end. Next to Shakspeare, I am not certain whether Thomas Fuller, beyond all other writers, does not excite in me the sense and emotion of the marvellous;—the degree in which any given faculty or combination of faculties is possessed and manifested, so far surpassing what one would have thought possible in a single mind, as to give one's admiration the flavour and quality of wonder! Wit was the stuff and substance of Fuller's intellect. It was the element, the earthen base, the material which he worked in, and this very circumstance has defrauded him of his due praise for the practical wisdom of the thoughts, for the beauty and variety of the truths, into which he shaped the stuff. Fuller was incomparably the most sensible, the least prejudiced, great man of an age that boasted a galaxy of great men. He is a very voluminous writer, and yet in all his numerous volumes on so many different subjects, it is scarcely too much to say, that you will hardly find a page in which some one sentence out of every three does not deserve to be quoted for itself—as motto or as maxim. God bless thee, dear old man! may I meet with thee!—which is tantamount to—may I go to heaven!

July, 1829.


'That according to the covenant of eternal life revealed in the Scriptures, man may be translated from hence into that eternal life, without passing through death, although the human nature of Christ himself could not be thus translated till he had passed through death.' Edit. 1715.

If I needed an illustrative example of the distinction between the reason and the understanding, between spiritual sense and logic, this treatise of Asgill's would supply it. Excuse the defect of all idea, or spiritual intuition of God, and allow yourself to bring Him as plaintiff or defendant into a common-law court,—and then I cannot conceive a clearer or cleverer piece of special pleading than Asgill has here given. The language is excellent—idiomatic, simple, perspicuous, at once significant and lively, that is, expressive of the thought, and also of a manly proportion of feeling appropriate to it. In short, it is the ablest attempt to exhibit a scheme of religion without ideas, that the inherent contradiction in the thought renders possible.

It is of minor importance how a man represents to himself his redemption by the Word Incarnate,—within what scheme of his understanding he concludes it, or by what supposed analogies (though actually no better than metaphors) he tries to conceive it, provided he has a lively faith in Christ, the Son of the living God, and his Redeemer. The faith may and must be the same in all who are thereby saved; but every man, more or less, construes it into an intelligible belief through the shaping and coloring optical glass of his own individual understanding. Mr. Asgill has given a very ingenious common-law scheme. 'Valeat quantum valere potest'! It would make a figure before the Benchers of the Middle Temple. For myself, I prefer the belief that man was made to know that a finite free agent could not stand but by the coincidence, and independent harmony, of a separate will with the will of God. For only by the will of God can he obey God's will. Man fell as a soul to rise a spirit. The first Adam was a living soul; the last a life-making spirit.

In the Word was life, and that life is the light of men. And as long as the light abides within its own sphere, that is, appears as reason,—so long it is commensurate with the life, and is its adequate representative. But not so, when this light shines downward into the understanding; for there it is always, more or less, refracted, and differently in every different individual; and it must be re-converted into life to rectify itself, and regain its universality, or 'all-commonness, Allgemeinheit', as the German more expressively says. Hence in faith and charity the church is catholic: so likewise in the fundamental articles of belief, which constitute the right reason of faith. But in the minor 'dogmata', in modes of exposition, and the vehicles of faith and reason to the understandings, imaginations, and affections of men, the churches may differ, and in this difference supply one object for charity to exercise itself on by mutual forbearance.

O! there is a deep philosophy in the proverbial phrase,—'his heart sets his head right!' In our commerce with heaven, we must cast our local coins and tokens into the melting pot of love, to pass by weight and bullion. And where the balance of trade is so immensely in our favour, we have little right to complain, though they should not pass for half the nominal value they go for in our own market.

P. 46.

And I am so far from thinking this covenant of eternal life to be an allusion to the forms of title amongst men, that I rather adore it as the precedent for them all, from which our imperfect forms are taken: believing with that great Apostle, that 'the things on earth are but the patterns of things in the heavens, where the originals are kept'.

Aye! this, this is the pinch of the argument, which Asgill should have proved, not merely asserted. Are these human laws, and these forms of law, absolutely good and wise, or only conditionally so—the limited powers and intellect, and the corrupt will of men being considered?

P. 64.

And hence, though the dead shall not arise with the same identity of matter with which they died, yet being in the same form, they will not know themselves from themselves, being the same to all uses, intents, and purposes.... But then as God, in the resurrection, is not bound to use the same matter, neither is he obliged to use a different matter.

The great objection to this part of Asgill's scheme, which has had, and still, I am told, has, many advocates among the chief dignitaries of our church, is—that it either takes death as the utter extinction of being,—or it supposes a continuance, or at least a renewal, of consciousness after death. The former involves all the irrational, and all the immoral, consequences of materialism. But if the latter be granted, the proportionality, adhesion, and symmetry, of the whole scheme are gone, and the infinite quantity,—that is, immortality under the curse of estrangement from God,—is rendered a mere supplement tacked on to the finite, and comparatively insignificant, if not doubtful, evil, namely, the dissolution of the organic body. See what a poor hand Asgill makes of it, p. 26:—

And therefore to signify the height of this resentment, God raises man from the dead to demand further satisfaction of him.

Death is a commitment to the prison of the grave till the judgment of the great day; and then the grand 'Habeas corpus' will issue 'to the earth and to the sea', to give up their dead; to remove the bodies, with the cause of their commitment: and as these causes shall appear, they shall either be released, or else sentenced to the common goal of hell, there to remain until satisfaction.

P. 66.

Thou wilt not leave my 'soul' in the grave....

And that it is translated 'soul', is an Anglicism, not understood in other languages, which have no other word for 'soul' but the same which is for life.

How so? 'Seele', the soul, 'Leben', life, in German; [Greek: psychae] and [Greek: zo_ae], in Greek, and so on.

P. 67.

Then to this figure God added 'life', by breathing it into him from himself, whereby this inanimate body became a living one.

And what was this life? Something, or nothing? And had not, first, the Spirit, and next the Word, of God infused life into the earth, of which man as an animal and all other animals were made,—and then, in addition to this, breathed into man a living soul, which he did not breathe into the other animals?

P. 75.-78-81. 'ad finem':

I have a great deal of business yet in this world, without doing of which heaven itself would be uneasy to me.

And therefore do depend, that I shall not be taken hence in the midst of my days, before I have done all my heart's desire.

But when that is done, I know no business I have with the dead, and therefore do as much depend that I shall not go hence by 'returning to the dust', which is the sentence of that law from which I claim a discharge: but that I shall make my 'exit' by way of translation, which I claim as a dignity belonging to that degree in the science of eternal life, of which I profess myself a graduate, according to the true intent and meaning of the covenant of eternal life revealed in the Scriptures.

A man so [Greek: kat exochaen] clear-headed, so remarkable for the perspicuity of his sentences, and the luminous orderliness of his arrangement,—in short, so consummate an artist in the statement of his case, and in the inferences from his 'data', as John Asgill must be allowed by all competent judges to have been,—was he in earnest or in jest from p. 75 to the end of this treatise?—My belief is, that he himself did not know. He was a thorough humorist: and so much of will, with a spice of the wilful, goes to the making up of a humorist's creed, that it is no easy matter to determine, how far such a man might not have a pleasure in 'humming' his own mind, and believing, in order to enjoy a dry laugh at himself for the belief.

But let us look at it in another way. That Asgill's belief, professed and maintained in this tract, is unwise and odd, I can more readily grant, than that it is altogether irrational and absurd. I am even strongly inclined to conjecture, that so early as St. Paul's apostolate there were persons (whether sufficiently numerous to form a sect or party, I cannot say), who held the same tenet as Asgill's, and in a more intolerant and exclusive sense; and that it is to such persons that St. Paul refers in the justly admired fifteenth chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians; and that the inadvertence to this has led a numerous class of divines to a misconception of the Apostle's reasoning, and a misinterpretation of his words, in behoof of the Socinian notion, that the resurrection of Christ is the only argument of proof for the belief of a future state, and that this was the great end and purpose of this event. Now this assumption is so destitute of support from the other writers of the New Testament, and so discordant with the whole spirit and gist of St. Paul's views and reasoning every where else, that it is 'a priori' probable, that the apparent exception in this chapter is only apparent. And this the hypothesis, I have here advanced, would enable one to shew, and to exhibit the true bearing of the texts. Asgill contents himself with maintaining that translation without death is one, and the best, mode of passing to the heavenly state. 'Hinc itur ad astra'. But his earliest predecessors contended that it was the only mode, and to this St. Paul justly replies:'—If in this life only we have hope, we are of all men most miserable.'




EDIT. 1712.

P. 28.

For as every faith, or credit, that a man hath attained to, is the result of some knowledge or other; so that whoever hath attained that knowledge, hath that faith, (for whatever a man knows, he cannot but believe:)

So this 'all faith' being the result of all knowledge,'tis easy to conceive that whoever had once attained to all that knowledge, nothing could be difficult to him.

This whole discussion on faith is one of the very few instances, in which Asgill has got out of his depth. According to all usage of words, science and faith are incompatible in relation to the same object; while, according to Asgill, faith is merely the power which science confers on the will. Asgill says,—What we know, we must believe. I retort,—What we only believe, we do not know. The 'minor' here is excluded by, not included in, the 'major'. Minors by difference of quantity are included in their majors; but minors by difference of quality are excluded by them, or superseded. Apply this to belief and science, or certain knowledge. On the confusion of the second, that is, minors by difference of quality, with the first, or minors by difference of quantity, rests Asgill's erroneous exposition of faith.



Part I. S.1.

For my religion, though there be several circumstances that might perswade the world I have none at all, 'as the generall scandall of my profession', &c.

The historical origin of this scandal, which in nine cases out of ten is the honour of the medical profession, may, perhaps, be found in the fact, that AEnesidemus and Sextus Empiricus, the sceptics, were both physicians, about the close of the second century. [2] A fragment from the writings of the former has been preserved by Photius, and such as would leave a painful regret for the loss of the work, had not the invaluable work of Sextus Empiricus been still extant.

S. 7.

A third there is which I did never positively maintaine or practise, but have often wished it had been consonant to truth, and not offensive to my religion, and that is, the prayer for the dead, &c.

Our church with her characteristic Christian prudence does not enjoin prayer for the dead, but neither does she prohibit it. In its own nature it belongs to a private aspiration; and being conditional, like all religious acts not expressed in Scripture, and therefore not combinable with a perfect faith, it is something between prayer and wish,—an act of natural piety sublimed by Christian hope, that shares in the light, and meets the diverging rays, of faith, though it be not contained in the focus.

S. 13.

He holds no counsell, but that mysticall one of the Trinity, wherein, though there be three persons, there is but one mind that decrees without contradiction, &c.

Sir T.B. is very amusing. He confesses his part heresies, which are mere opinions, while his orthodoxy is full of heretical errors. His Trinity is a mere trefoil, a 3=1, which is no mystery at all, but a common object of the senses. The mystery is, that one is three, that is, each being the whole God.

S. 18.

'Tis not a ridiculous devotion to say a prayer before a game at tables, &c.

But a great profanation, methinks, and a no less absurdity. Would Sir T. Brown, before weighing two pigs of lead, A. and B., pray to God that A. might weigh the heavier? Yet if the result of the dice be at the time equally believed to be a settled and predetermined effect, where lies the difference? Would not this apply against all petitionary prayer?—St. Paul's injunction involves the answer:—'Pray always'.

S. 22.

They who to salve this would make the deluge particular, proceed upon a principle that I can no way grant, &c.

But according to the Scripture, the deluge was so gentle as to leave uncrushed the green leaves on the olive tree. If then it was universal, and if (as with the longevity of the antediluvians it must have been) the earth was fully peopled, is it not strange that no buildings remain in the since then uninhabited parts—in America for instance? That no human skeletons are found may be solved from the circumstance of the large proportion of phosphoric acid in human bones. But cities and traces of civilization?—I do not know what to think, unless we might be allowed to consider Noah a 'homo repraesentativus', or the last and nearest of a series taken for the whole.

S. 33.

They that to refute the invocation of saints, have denied that they have any knowledge of our affairs below, have proceeded too farre, and must pardon my opinion, till I can throughly answer that piece of Scripture, 'At the conversion of a sinner the angels of Heaven rejoyce'.

Take any moral or religious book, and, instead of understanding each sentence according to the main purpose and intention, interpret every phrase in its literal sense as conveying, and designed to convey, a metaphysical verity, or historical fact:—what a strange medley of doctrines should we not educe? And yet this is the way in which we are constantly in the habit of treating the books of the New Testament.

S. 34.

And, truely, for the first chapters of 'Genesis' I must confesse a great deal of obscurity; though divines have to the power of humane reason endeavored to make all go in a literall meaning, yet those allegoricall interpretations are also probable, and perhaps, the mysticall method of Moses bred up in the hieroglyphicall schooles of the Egyptians.

The second chapter of Genesis from v. 4, and the third chapter are to my mind, as evidently symbolical, as the first chapter is literal. The first chapter is manifestly by Moses himself; but the second and third seem to me of far higher antiquity, and have the air of being translated into words from graven stones.

S. 48. This section is a series of ingenious paralogisms.

S. 49.

Moses, that was bred up in all the learning of the Egyptians, committed a grosse absurdity in philosophy, when with these eyes of flesh he desired to see God, and petitioned his maker, that is, truth itself, to a contradiction.

Bear in mind the Jehovah 'Logos', the [Symbol: 'O "omega N] [Greek: en kolp_o patros]—the person 'ad extra',—and few passages in the Old Testament are more instructive, or of profounder import. Overlook this, or deny it,—and none so perplexing or so irreconcilable with the known character of the inspired writer.

S. 50.

For that mysticall metall of gold, whose solary and celestiall nature I admire, &c.

Rather anti-solar and terrene nature! For gold, most of all metals, repelleth light, and resisteth that power and portion of the common air, which of all ponderable bodies is most akin to light, and its surrogate in the realm of [Greek: antiph'os]; or gravity, namely, oxygen. Gold is 'tellurian' [Greek: kat exochaen] and if solar, yet as in the solidity and dark 'nucleus' of the sun.

S. 52.

I thank God that with joy I mention it, I was never afraid of hell, nor never grew pale at the description of that place; I have so fixed my contemplations on heaven, that I have almost forgot the idea of hell, &c.

Excellent throughout. The fear of hell may, indeed, in some desperate cases, like the moxa, give the first rouse from a moral lethargy, or like the green venom of copper, by evacuating poison or a dead load from the inner man, prepare it for nobler ministrations and medicines from the realm of light and life, that nourish while they stimulate.

S. 54.

There is no salvation to those that believe not in Christ, &c.

This is plainly confined to such as have had Christ preached to them;—but the doctrine, that salvation is in and by Christ only, is a most essential verity, and an article of unspeakable grandeur and consolation. Name—nomen, that is, [Greek: noumenon], in its spiritual interpretation, is the same as power, or intrinsic cause. What? Is it a few letters of the alphabet, the hearing of which in a given succession, that saves?

S. 59.

'Before Abraham was, I am,' is the saying of Christ; yet is it true in some sense if I say it of myself, for I was not only before myself, but Adam, that is, in the idea of God, and the decree of that synod held from all eternity. And in this sense, I say, the world was before the creation, and at an end before it had a beginning; and thus was I dead before I was alive;—though my grave be England, my dying-place was Paradise, and Eve miscarried of me before she conceived of Cain.

Compare this with s. 11, and the judicious remark there on the mere accommodation in the 'prae' of predestination. But the subject was too tempting for the rhetorician.

Part II. s. 1.

But as in casting account, three or four men together come short in account of one man placed by himself below them, &c.

Thus 1,965. But why is the 1, said to be placed below the 965?

S. 7.

Let me be nothing, if within the compass of myself, I do not finde the battaile of Lepanto, passion against reason, 'reason against faith', faith against the devil, and my conscience against all.

It may appear whimsical, but I really feel an impatient regret, that this good man had so misconceived the nature both of faith and reason as to affirm their contrariety to each other.


For my originale sin, I hold it to bee washed away in my baptisme; for my actual transgressions, I compute and reckon with God, but from my last repentance, &c.

This is most true as far as the imputation of the same is concerned. For where the means of avoiding its consequences have been afforded, each after transgression is actual, by a neglect of those means.

S. 14.

God, being all goodnesse, can love nothing but himself; he loves us but for that part which is, as it were, himselfe, and the traduction of his Holy Spirit.

This recalls a sublime thought of Spinosa. Every true virtue is a part of that love, with which God loveth himself.

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

[Footnote 2: A mistake as to AEnesidemus, who lived in the age of Augustus—Ed.]



Ch. III.

That bodies are first spirits, Paracelsus could affirm, &c.

Effects purely relative from properties merely comparative, such as edge, point, grater, &c. are not proper qualities: for they are indifferently producible 'ab extra', by grinding, &c., and 'ab intra', from growth. In the latter instance, they suppose qualities as their antecedents. Now, therefore, since qualities cannot proceed from quantity, but quantity from quality,—and as matter opposed to spirit is shape by modification of extension, or pure quantity,—Paracelsus's 'dictum' is defensible.


The aequivocall production of things, under undiscerned principles, makes a large part of generation, &c.

Written before Harvey's 'ab ovo omnia'. Since his work, and Lewenhock's 'Microscopium', the question is settled in physics; but whether in metaphysics, is not quite so clear.

Ch. IV.

And mint growing in glasses of water, until it arriveth at the weight of an ounce, in a shady place, will sometimes exhaust a pound of water.

How much did Brown allow for evaporation?


Things entering upon the intellect by a pyramid from without, and thence into the memory by another from within, the common decussation being in the understanding, &c.

This nearly resembles Kant's intellectual 'mechanique'.

The Platonists held three knowledges of God;—first, [Greek: parousia], his own incommunicable self-comprehension;—second, [Greek: kata noaesin]—by pure mind, unmixed with the sensuous;—third, [Greek: kat epistaemaen]—by discursive intelligential act. Thus a Greek philosopher:—[Greek: tous epistaemonikous logous muthous haegaesetai sunousa t'o patri kai sunesti'omenae hae psuchae en tae alaetheia tou ontos, kai en augae kathara].—Those notions of God which we attain by processes of intellect, the soul will consider as mythological allegories, when it exists in union with the Father, and is feasting with him in the truth of very being, and in the pure, unmixed, absolutely simple and elementary, splendor. Thus expound Exod. c. xxxiii. v. 10. 'And he said, thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live'. By the 'face of God,' Moses meant the [Greek: idea noaetikae] which God declared incompatible with human life, it implying [Greek: epaphae tou noaetou], or contact with the pure spirit.



Dr. Primrose,

Is not this the same person as the physician mentioned by Mrs. Hutchinson in her Memoirs of her husband?

Book I. c. 8. s. 1. The veracity and credibility of Herodotus have increased and increase with the increase of our discoveries. Several of his relations deemed fabulous, have been authenticated within the last thirty years from this present 1808.

Ib. s. 2.

Sir John Mandevill left a book of travels:—herein he often attesteth the fabulous relations of Ctesias.

Many, if not most, of these Ctesian fables in Sir J. Mandevill were monkish interpolations.

Ib. s. 13.

Cardanus—is of singular use unto a prudent reader; but unto him that only desireth 'hoties', or to replenish his head with varieties,—he may become no small occasion of error.

'Hoties'—[Greek: hoti s]—'whatevers,' that is, whatever is written, no matter what, true or false,—'omniana'; 'all sorts of varieties,' as a dear young lady once said to me.

Ib. c. ix.

If Heraclitus with his adherents will hold the sun is no bigger than it appeareth.

It is not improbable that Heraclitus meant merely to imply that we perceive only our own sensations, and they of course are what they are;—that the image of the sun is an appearance, or sensation in our eyes, and, of course, an appearance can be neither more nor less than what it appears to be;—that the notion of the true size of the sun is not an image, or belonging either to the sense, or to the sensuous fancy, but is an imageless truth of the understanding obtained by intellectual deductions. He could not possibly mean what Sir T. B. supposes him to have meant; for if he had believed the sun to be no more than a mile distant from us, every tree and house must have shown its absurdity.


In the following books I have endeavoured, wherever the author himself is in a vulgar error, as far as my knowledge extends, to give in the margin, either the demonstrated discoveries, or more probable opinions, of the present natural philosophy;—so that, independently of the entertainingness of the thoughts and tales, and the force and splendor of Sir Thomas Browne's diction and manner, you may at once learn from him the history of human fancies and superstitions, both when he detects them, and when he himself falls into them,—and from my notes, the real truth of things, or, at least, the highest degree of probability, at which human research has hitherto arrived.


Book II. c. i. Production of crystal. Cold is the attractive or astringent power, comparatively uncounteracted by the dilative, the diminution of which is the proportional increase of the contractive. Hence the astringent, or power of negative magnetism, is the proper agent in cold, and the contractive, or oxygen, an allied and consequential power. 'Crystallum, non ex aqua, sed ex substantia metallorum communi confrigeratum dico'. As the equator, or mid point of the equatorial hemispherical line, is to the centre, so water is to gold. Hydrogen is to the electrical azote, as azote to the magnetic hydrogen.


Crystal—will strike fire—and upon collision with steel send forth its sparks, not much inferiourly to a flint.

It being, indeed, nothing else but pure flint.

C. iii.

And the magick thereof (the lodestone) is not safely to be believed, which was delivered by Orpheus, that sprinkled with water it will upon a question emit a voice not much unlike an infant.

That is:—to the twin counterforces of the magnetic power, the equilibrium of which is revealed in magnetic iron, as the substantial, add the twin counterforces or positive and negative poles of the electrical power, the indifference of which is realized in water, as the superficial—(whence Orpheus employed the term 'sprinkled,' or rather affused or superfused)—and you will hear the voice of infant nature;—that is, you will understand the rudimental products and elementary powers and constructions of the phenomenal world. An enigma this not unworthy of Orpheus, 'quicunque fuit', and therefore not improbably ascribed to him.

N. B. Negative and positive magnetism are to attraction and repulsion, or cohesion and dispersion, as negative and positive electricity are to contraction and dilation.

C. vii. s. 4.

That camphire begets in men [Greek: taen anaphrodisian], observation will hardly confirm, &c.

There is no doubt of the fact as to a temporary effect; and camphire is therefore a strong and immediate antidote to an overdose of 'cantharides'. Yet there are, doubtless, sorts and cases of [Greek: anaphrodisia], which camphire might relieve. Opium is occasionally an aphrodisiac, but far oftener the contrary. The same is true of 'bang', or powdered hemp leaves, and, I suppose, of the whole tribe of narcotic stimulants.

Ib. s. 8.

The yew and the berries thereof are harmless, we know.

The berries are harmless, but the leaves of the yew are undoubtedly poisonous. See Withering's British Plants. Taxus.

Book III. c. xiii.

For although lapidaries and 'questuary' enquirers affirm it, &c.

'Questuary'—having gain or money for their object.

B. VI. c. viii.

The river Gihon, a branch of Euphrates and river of Paradise.

The rivers from Eden were, perhaps, meant to symbolize, or rather expressed only, the great primary races of mankind. Sir T.B. was the very man to have seen this; but the superstition of the letter was then culminant.

Ib. c. x.

The chymists have laudably reduced their causes—(of colors)—unto 'sal', 'sulphur', and 'mercury', &c.

Even now, after all the brilliant discoveries from Scheele, Priestley, and Cavendish, to Berzelius and Davy, no improvement has been made in this division,—not of primary bodies (those idols of the modern atomic chemistry), but of causes, as Sir T.B. rightly expresses them,—that is, of elementary powers manifested in bodies. Let mercury stand for the bi-polar metallic principle, best imaged as a line or 'axis' from north to south,—the north or negative pole being the cohesive or coherentific force, and the south or positive pole being the dispersive or incoherentific force: the first is predominant in, and therefore represented by, carbon,—the second by nitrogen; and the series of metals are the primary and, hence, indecomponible 'syntheta' and proportions of both. In like manner, sulphur represents the active and passive principle of fire: the contractive force, or negative electricity—oxygen—produces flame; and the dilative force, or positive electricity—hydrogen—produces warmth. And lastly, salt is the equilibrium or compound of the two former. So taken, salt, sulphur, and mercury are equivalent to the combustive, the combustible, and the combust, under one or other of which all known bodies, or ponderable substances, may be classed and distinguished.

The difference between a great mind's and a little mind's use of history is this. The latter would consider, for instance, what Luther did, taught, or sanctioned: the former, what Luther,—a Luther,—would now do, teach, and sanction. This thought occurred to me at midnight, Tuesday, the 16th of March, 1824, as I was stepping into bed,—my eye having glanced on Luther's Table Talk.

If you would be well with a great mind, leave him with a favorable impression of you;—if with a little mind, leave him with a favorable opinion of himself.

It is not common to find a book of so early date as this (1658), at least among those of equal neatness of printing, that contains so many gross typographical errors;—with the exception of our earliest dramatic writers, some of which appear to have been never corrected, but worked off at once as the types were first arranged by the compositors. But the grave and doctrinal works are, in general, exceedingly correct, and form a striking contrast to modern publications, of which the late edition of Bacon's Works would be paramount in the infamy of multiplied unnoticed 'errata', were it not for the unrivalled slovenliness of Anderson's British Poets, in which the blunders are, at least, as numerous as the pages, and many of them perverting the sense, or killing the whole beauty, and yet giving or affording a meaning, however low, instead. These are the most execrable of all typographical errors. 1808.

[The volume from which the foregoing notes have been taken, is inscribed in Mr. Lamb's writing—

'C. Lamb, 9th March, 1804. Bought for S.T. Coleridge.' Under which in Mr. Coleridge's hand is written—

'N.B. It was on the 10th; on which day I dined and punched at Lamb's, and exulted in the having procured the 'Hydriotaphia', and all the rest 'lucro apposita'. S.T.C.'

That same night, the volume was devoted as a gift to a dear friend in the following letter.-Ed.]

10th, 1804,

Sat. night, 12 o'clock.

My dear—,

Sir Thomas Brown is among my first favorites, rich in various knowledge, exuberant in conceptions and conceits, contemplative, imaginative; often truly great and magnificent in his style and diction, though doubtless too often big, stiff, and hyperlatinistic: thus I might without admixture of falsehood, describe Sir T. Brown, and my description would have only this fault, that it would be equally, or almost equally, applicable to half a dozen other writers, from the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth to the end of Charles II. He is indeed all this; and what he has more than all this peculiar to himself, I seem to convey to my own mind in some measure by saying,—that he is a quiet and sublime enthusiast with a strong tinge of the fantast,—the humourist constantly mingling with, and flashing across, the philosopher, as the darting colours in shot silk play upon the main dye. In short, he has brains in his head which is all the more interesting for a little twist in the brains. He sometimes reminds the reader of Montaigne, but from no other than the general circumstances of an egotism common to both; which in Montaigne is too often a mere amusing gossip, a chit-chat story of whims and peculiarities that lead to nothing,—but which in Sir Thomas Brown is always the result of a feeling heart conjoined with a mind of active curiosity,—the natural and becoming egotism of a man, who, loving other men as himself, gains the habit, and the privilege of talking about himself as familiarly as about other men. Fond of the curious, and a hunter of oddities and strangenesses, while he conceived himself, with quaint and humourous gravity a useful inquirer into physical truth and fundamental science,—he loved to contemplate and discuss his own thoughts and feelings, because he found by comparison with other men's, that they too were curiosities, and so with a perfectly graceful and interesting ease he put them too into his museum and cabinet of varieties. In very truth he was not mistaken:—so completely does he see every thing in a light of his own, reading nature neither by sun, moon, nor candle light, but by the light of the faery glory around his own head; so that you might say that nature had granted to him in perpetuity a patent and monopoly for all his thoughts. Read his 'Hydriotaphia' above all:—and in addition to the peculiarity, the exclusive Sir- Thomas-Brown-ness of all the fancies and modes of illustration, wonder at and admire his entireness in every subject, which is before him—he is 'totus in illo'; he follows it; he never wanders from it,—and he has no occasion to wander;—for whatever happens to be his subject, he metamorphoses all nature into it. In that 'Hydriotaphia' or Treatise on some Urns dug up in Norfolk—how earthy, how redolent of graves and sepulchres is every line! You have now dark mould, now a thigh-bone, now a scull, then a bit of mouldered coffin! a fragment of an old tombstone with moss in its 'hic jacet';—a ghost or a winding-sheet—or the echo of a funeral psalm wafted on a November wind! and the gayest thing you shall meet with shall be a silver nail or gilt 'Anno Domini' from a perished coffin top. The very same remark applies in the same force to the interesting, through the far less interesting, Treatise on the Quincuncial Plantations of the Ancients. There is the same attention to oddities, to the remotenesses and 'minutiae' of vegetable terms,—the same entireness of subject. You have quincunxes in heaven above, quincunxes in earth below, and quincunxes in the water beneath the earth; quincunxes in deity, quincunxes in the mind of man, quincunxes in bones, in the optic nerves, in roots of trees, in leaves, in petals, in every thing. In short, first turn to the last leaf of this volume, and read out aloud to yourself the last seven paragraphs of Chap. v. beginning with the words 'More considerables,' &c. But it is time for me to be in bed, in the words of Sir Thomas, which will serve you, my dear, as a fair specimen of his manner.—'But the quincunx of heaven—(the Hyades or five stars about the horizon at midnight at that time)—runs low, and 'tis time we close the five ports of knowledge: we are unwilling to spin out our waking thoughts into the phantasmes of sleep, which often continueth praecogitations,—making tables of cobwebbes, and wildernesses of handsome groves. To keep our eyes open longer were but to act our Antipodes. The huntsmen are up in America, and they are already past their first sleep in Persia.' Think you, my dear Friend, that there ever was such a reason given before for going to bed at midnight;—to wit, that if we did not, we should be acting the part of our Antipodes! And then 'the huntsmen are up in America.'—What life, what fancy!—Does the whimsical knight give us thus a dish of strong green tea, and call it an opiate! I trust that you are quietly asleep—

And that all the stars hang bright above your dwelling, Silent as tho' they watched the sleeping earth!



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