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Title: The Posthumous Works of Thomas De Quincey,  Vol. 1
Author: De Quincey, Thomas, 1785-1859
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Posthumous Works of Thomas De Quincey,  Vol. 1" ***

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by the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF/Gallica) at







LLD., F.R.S.E.





[_All rights reserved._]


=With Other Essays,=








[_All rights reserved._]

who put into my hands the remains in manuscript
of their father, that I might select and
publish from them what was deemed
to be available for such a purpose,
this volume is dedicated,
with many and
grateful thanks for
their confidence
and aid, by
their devoted



       *       *       *       *       *

It only needs to be said, by way of Preface, that the articles in the
present volume have been selected more with a view to variety and
contrast than will be the case with those to follow. And it is right
that I should thank Mr. J. R. McIlraith for friendly help in the reading
of the proofs.

A. H. J.

[Transcriber's Note: This etext contains letters with macrons, and have
been noted as such: =u represents "u" with a macron, and )o represents
o with a breve.]


CHAPTER                                                             PAGE

GENERAL INTRODUCTION                                                  xi

           Introduction, with Complete List of the 'Suspiria'          1
        1. The Dark Interpreter                                        7
        2. The Solitude of Childhood                                  13
        3. Who is this Woman that beckoneth and warneth
            me from the Place where she is, and in whose eyes
            is Woeful Remembrance? I guess who she is                 16
        4. The Princess who overlooked one Seed in a Pomegranate      22
        5. Notes for 'Suspiria'                                       24

   II. THE LOVELIEST SIGHT FOR WOMAN'S EYES                           29

       *       *       *       *       *

     ANY IOTA OF GRANDEUR                                             33

   IV. ON PAGAN SACRIFICES                                            39

    V. ON THE MYTHUS                                                  43

       *       *       *       *       *

    THE SITUATION                                                     47

  VII. THE JEWS AS A SEPARATE PEOPLE                                  62



       *       *       *       *       *

    X. MURDER AS A FINE ART                                           77

   XI. ANECDOTES--JUVENAL                                             85

  XII. ANNA LOUISA                                                    89

       *       *       *       *       *

 XIII. SOME THOUGHTS ON BIOGRAPHY                                    100


   XV. DANIEL O'CONNELL                                              132

       *       *       *       *       *

  XVI. FRANCE PAST AND FRANCE PRESENT                                143

 XVII. ROME'S RECRUITS AND ENGLAND'S RECRUITS                        147



       *       *       *       *       *

   XX. THE PRINCIPLE OF EVIL                                         168

  XXI. ON MIRACLES                                                   173

 XXII. 'LET HIM COME DOWN FROM THE CROSS'                            177

XXIII. IS THE HUMAN RACE ON THE DOWN GRADE?                          180

       *       *       *       *       *

        1. Paganism and Christianity--the Ideas of Duty
            and Holiness                                             185
        2. Moral and Practical                                       194
        3. On Words and Style                                        207
        4. Theological and Religious                                 226
        5. Political, etc.                                           269
        6. Personal Confessions, etc.                                271
        7. Pagan Literature                                          279
        8. Historical, etc.                                          283
        9. Literary                                                  292

        1. The Rhapsodoi                                             306
        2. Mrs. Evans and the _Gazette_                              310
        3. A Lawsuit Legacy                                          313
        4. The True Justifications of War                            315
        5. Philosophy Defeated                                       317
        6. The Highwayman's Skeleton                                 320
        7. The Ransom for Waterloo                                   323
        8. Desiderium                                                326


These articles recovered from the MSS. of De Quincey will, the Editor
believes, be found of substantive value. In some cases they throw
fresh light on his opinions and ways of thinking; in other cases they
deal with topics which are not touched at all in his collected works:
and certainly, when read alongside the writings with which the public
is already familiar, will give altogether a new idea of his range
both of interests and activities. The 'Brevia,' especially, will
probably be regarded as throwing more light on his character and
individuality--exhibiting more of the inner life, in fact--than any
number of letters or reminiscences from the pens of others would be
found to do. It is as though the ordinary reader were asked to sit
down at ease with the author, when he is in his most social and
communicative mood, when he has donned his dressing-gown and
slippers, and is inclined to unbosom himself, and that freely, on
matters which usually, and in general society, he would have been
inclined to shun, or at all events to pass over lightly. Here we have
him at one moment presenting the results of speculations the loftiest
that can engage the mind of man; at another making note of whimsical
or surprising points in the man or woman he has met with, or in the
books he has read; at another, amusing himself with the most recent
anecdote, or _bon-mot_, or reflecting on the latest accident or
murder, or good-naturedly noting odd lapses in style in magazine or

It must not be supposed that the author himself was inclined to lay such
weight on these stray notes, as might be presumed from the form in which
they are here presented. That might give the impression of a most
methodic worker and thinker, who had before him a carefully-indexed
commonplace book, into which he posted at the proper place his rough
notes and suggestions. That was not De Quincey's way. If he was not one
of the wealthy men who care not how they give, he was one who made the
most careless record even of what was likely to be valuable--at all
events to himself. His habit was to make notes just as they occurred to
him, and on the sheet that he chanced to have at the moment before him.
It might be the 'copy' for an article indeed, and in a little square
patch at the corner--separated from the main text by an insulating line
of ink drawn round the foreign matter--through this, not seldom, when
finished he would lightly draw his pen; meaning probably to return to it
when his MS. came back to him from the printer, which accounts, it may
be, in some measure for his reluctance to get rid of, or to destroy,
'copy' already printed from. Sometimes we have found on a sheet a dozen
or so of lines of a well-known article; and the rest filled up with
notes, some written one way of the paper, some another, and now and then
entangled in the most surprising fashion. In these cases, where the
notes, of course, were meant for his own eye, he wrote in a small
spidery handwriting with many contractions--a kind of shorthand of his
own, and very different indeed from his ordinary clean, clear, neat
penmanship. In many cases these notes demanded no little care and
closeness in deciphering--the more that the MSS. had been tumbled about,
and were often deeply stained by glasses other than inkstands having
been placed upon them. 'Within that circle none dared walk but he,' said
Tom Hood in his genially humorous way; and many of these thoughts were
thus partially or wholly encircled. Pages of articles that had already
been printed were intermixed with others that had not; and the first
piece of work that I entered on was roughly to separate the printed from
the unprinted--first having carefully copied out from the former any of
the spidery-looking notes interjected there, to which I have already
referred. The next process was to arrange the many separate pages and
seeming fragments into heaps, by subjects; and finally to examine these
carefully and, with a view to 'connections,' to place them together. In
not a few cases where the theme was attractive and the prospect
promising, utter failure to complete the article or sketch was the
result, the opening or ending passages, or a page in the middle, having
been unfortunately destroyed or lost.

So numerous were these notes, so varied their subjects, that one got
quite a new idea of the extreme electrical quality of his mind, as he
himself called it; and I shall have greatly failed in my endeavour in
the case of these volumes, if I have not succeeded in imparting
something of the same impression to the reader. Here we have proof that
vast schemes, such as the great history of England, of which Mr. James
Hogg, senr., humorously told us in his 'Recollections' ('Memoir,' ch.
ed., pp. 330, 331), were not merely subjects of conversation and jest,
but that he had actually proceeded to build up masses of notes and
figures with a view to these; and various slips and pages remain to show
that he had actually commenced to write the history of England. The
short article, included in the present volume, on the 'Power of the
House of Commons as Custodian of the Purse,' is marked for 'My History
of England.' Other portions are marked as intended for 'My book on the
Infinite,' and others still 'For my book on the Relations of
Christianity to Man.' One can infer, indeed, that several of the
articles well-known to us, notably 'Christianity as an Organ of
Political Movement,' for one, were originally conceived as portions of a
great work on 'Christianity in Relation to Human Development.'

It is thus necessary to be very explicit in stating that, though these
notes are as faithfully reproduced as has been possible to me, the
classification and arrangement of them, under which they assume the
aspect of something of one connected essay on the main subject, I alone
am responsible for; though I do not believe, so definite and clear were
his ideas on certain subjects and in certain relations, that he himself
would have regarded them as losing anything by such arrangement, but
rather gaining very much, if they were to be given at all to the public.

Several of the articles in this volume suggest that he also contemplated
a great work on 'Paganism and Christianity,' in which he would have
demonstrated that Paganism had exhausted all the germs of progress that
lay within it; and that all beyond the points reached by Paganism is due
to Christianity, and alone to Christianity, which, in opening up a clear
view of the infinite through purely experimental mediums in man's heart,
touched to new life, science, philosophy, art, invention and every kind
of culture.

Respecting the recovered 'Suspiria,' all that it is needful to say will
be found in an introduction special to that head, and it does not seem
to me that I need to add here anything more. In every other respect the
articles must speak for themselves.




The finale to the first part of the 'Suspiria,' as we find from a note
of the author's own, was to include 'The Dark Interpreter,' 'The Spectre
of the Brocken,' and 'Savannah-la-Mar.' The references to 'The Dark
Interpreter' in the latter would thus become intelligible, as the reader
is not there in any full sense informed who the 'Dark Interpreter' was;
and the piece, recovered from his MSS. and now printed, may thus be
regarded as having a special value for De Quincey students, and, indeed,
for readers generally. In _Blackwood's Magazine_ he did indeed
interpolate a sentence or two, and these were reproduced in the American
edition of the works (Fields's); but they are so slight and general
compared with the complete 'Suspiria' now presented, that they do not in
any way detract from its originality and value.

The master-idea of the 'Suspiria' is the power which lies in suffering,
in agony unuttered and unutterable, to develop the intellect and the
spirit of man; to open these to the ineffable conceptions of the
infinite, and to some discernment, otherwise impossible, of the
beneficent might that lies in pain and sorrow. De Quincey seeks his
symbols sometimes in natural phenomena, oftener in the creation of
mighty abstractions; and the moral of all must be set forth in the
burden of 'The Daughter of Lebanon,' that 'God may give by seeming to
refuse.' Prose-poems, as they have been called, they are deeply
philosophical, presenting under the guise of phantasy the profoundest
laws of the working of the human spirit in its most terrible
disciplines, and asserting for the darkest phenomena of human life some
compensating elements as awakeners of hope and fear and awe. The sense
of a great pariah world is ever present with him--a world of outcasts
and of innocents bearing the burden of vicarious woes; and thus it is
that his title is justified--_Suspiria de Profundis_: 'Sighs from the

We find De Quincey writing in his prefatory notice to the enlarged
edition of the 'Confessions' in November, 1856:

'All along I had relied upon a crowning grace, which I had reserved for
the final page of this volume, in a succession of some twenty or
twenty-five dreams and noon-day visions, which had arisen under the
latter stage of opium influence. These have disappeared; some under
circumstances which allow me a reasonable prospect of recovering them,
some unaccountably, and some dishonourably. Five or six I believe were
burned in a sudden conflagration which arose from the spark of a candle
falling unobserved amongst a very large pile of papers in a bedroom,
where I was alone and reading. Falling not _on_, but amongst and within
the papers, the fire would soon have been ahead of conflict, and, by
communicating with the slight woodwork and draperies of a bed, it would
have immediately enveloped the laths of the ceiling overhead, and thus
the house, far from fire-engines, would have been burned down in
half-an-hour. My attention was first drawn by a sudden light upon my
book; and the whole difference between a total destruction of the
premises and a trivial loss (from books charred) of five guineas was due
to a large Spanish cloak. This, thrown over and then drawn down tightly,
by the aid of one sole person, somewhat agitated, but retaining her
presence of mind, effectually extinguished the fire. Amongst the papers
burned partially, but not so burned as to be absolutely irretrievable,
was "The Daughter of Lebanon," and this I have printed and have
intentionally placed it at the end, as appropriately closing a record in
which the case of poor "Ann the Outcast" formed not only the most
memorable and the most suggestively pathetic incident, but also _that_
which, more than any other, coloured--or (more truly, I should say)
shaped, moulded and remoulded, composed and decomposed--the great body
of opium dreams.'

After this loss of the greater portion of the 'Suspiria' copy, De
Quincey seems to have become indifferent in some degree to their
continuity and relation to each other. He drew the 'Affliction of
Childhood' and 'Dream Echoes,' which stood early in the order of the
'Suspiria,' into the 'Autobiographic Sketches,' and also the 'Spectre of
the Brocken,' which was meant to come somewhat later in the series as
originally planned; and, as we have seen, he appended 'The Daughter of
Lebanon' to the 'Opium Confessions,' without any reference, save in the
preface, to its really having formed part of a separate collection of

From a list found among his MSS. we are able to give the arrangement of
the whole as it would have appeared had no accident occurred, and all
the papers been at hand. Those followed by a cross are those which are
now recovered, and those with a dagger what were reprinted either as
'Suspiria' or otherwise in Messrs. Black's editions.


 1. Dreaming, [cross]
 2. The Affliction of Childhood. [cross]
        Dream Echoes. [cross]
 3. The English Mail Coach. [cross]
        (1) The Glory of Motion.
        (2) Vision of Sudden Death.
        (3) Dream-fugue.
 4. The Palimpsest of the Human Brain. [cross]
 5. Vision of Life. [cross]
 6. Memorial Suspiria. [cross]
 7. Levana and our Ladies of Sorrow.
 8. Solitude of Childhood. [big cross]
 9. The Dark Interpreter. [big cross]
10. The Apparition of the Brocken. [cross]
11. Savannah-la-Mar.
12. The Dreadful Infant. (There was the glory of innocence
        made perfect; there was the dreadful beauty
        of infancy that had seen God.)
13. Foundering Ships.
14. The Archbishop and the Controller of Fire.
15. God that didst Promise.
16. Count the Leaves in Vallombrosa.
17. But if I submitted with Resignation, not the less
        I searched for the Unsearchable--sometimes in
        Arab Deserts, sometimes in the Sea.
18. That ran before us in Malice.
19. Morning of Execution.
20. Daughter of Lebanon. [cross]
21. Kyrie Eleison.
22. The Princess that lost a Single Seed of a Pomegranate. [big cross]
23. The Nursery in Arabian Deserts.
24. The Halcyon Calm and the Coffin.
25. Faces! Angels' Faces!
26. At that Word.
27. Oh, Apothanate! that hatest Death, and cleansest
        from the Pollution of Sorrow.
28. Who is this Woman that for some Months has
        followed me up and down? Her face I cannot
        see, for she keeps for ever behind me.
29. Who is this Woman that beckoneth and warneth
        me from the Place where she is, and in whose
        Eyes is Woeful remembrance? I guess who she is. [big cross]
30. Cagot and Cressida.
31. Lethe and Anapaula.
32. Oh, sweep away, Angel, with Angelic Scorn, the
        Dogs that come with Curious Eyes to gaze.

Thus of the thirty-two 'Suspiria' intended by the author, we have only
nine that received his final corrections, and even with those now
recovered, we have only about one half of the whole, presuming that
those which are lost or remained unwritten would have averaged about the
same length as those we have. To those who have studied the 'Suspiria'
as published, how suggestive many of these titles will be! 'Count the
Leaves in Vallombrosa'--what phantasies would that have conjured up! The
lost, the apparently wasted of the leaves from the tree of human life,
and the possibilities of use and redemption! De Quincey would there
doubtless have given us under a form more or less fanciful or symbolical
his reading of the problem:

    'Why Nature out of fifty seeds
    So often brings but one to bear.'

The case of the Cagots, the pariahs of the Pyrenees, as we know from
references elsewhere, excited his curiosity, as did all of the pariah
class, and much engaged his attention; and in the 'Cagot and Cressida'
'Suspiria' we should probably have had under symbols of mighty
abstractions the vision of the pariah world, and the world of health and
outward fortune which scorns and excludes the other, and partly, at all
events, actively dooms it to a living death in England of to-day, as in
India of the past, and in Jewry of old, where the leper was thrust
outside the wall to wail 'Unclean! unclean!'


     'Oh, eternity with outstretched wings, that broodest over the
     secret truths in whose roots lie the mysteries of man--his whence,
     his whither--have I searched thee, and struck a right key on thy
     dreadful organ!'

Suffering is a mightier agency in the hands of nature, as a Demiurgus
creating the intellect, than most people are aware of.

The truth I heard often in sleep from the lips of the Dark Interpreter.
Who is he? He is a shadow, reader, but a shadow with whom you must
suffer me to make you acquainted. You need not be afraid of him, for
when I explain his nature and origin you will see that he is essentially
inoffensive; or if sometimes he menaces with his countenance, that is
but seldom: and then, as his features in those moods shift as rapidly as
clouds in a gale of wind, you may always look for the terrific aspects
to vanish as fast as they have gathered. As to his origin--what it is, I
know exactly, but cannot without a little circuit of preparation make
_you_ understand. Perhaps you are aware of that power in the eye of many
children by which in darkness they project a vast theatre of
phantasmagorical figures moving forwards or backwards between their
bed-curtains and the chamber walls. In some children this power is
semi-voluntary--they can control or perhaps suspend the shows; but in
others it is altogether automatic. I myself, at the date of my last
confessions, had seen in this way more processions--generally solemn,
mournful, belonging to eternity, but also at times glad, triumphal
pomps, that seemed to enter the gates of Time--than all the religions of
paganism, fierce or gay, ever witnessed. Now, there is in the dark
places of the human spirit--in grief, in fear, in vindictive wrath--a
power of self-projection not unlike to this. Thirty years ago, it may
be, a man called Symons committed several murders in a sudden epilepsy
of planet-struck fury. According to my recollection, this case happened
at Hoddesdon, which is in Middlesex. 'Revenge is sweet!' was his hellish
motto on that occasion, and that motto itself records the abysses which
a human will can open. Revenge is _not_ sweet, unless by the mighty
charm of a charity that seeketh not her own it has become benignant.[1]
And what he had to revenge was woman's scorn. He had been a plain
farm-servant; and, in fact, he was executed, as such men often are, on a
proper point of professional respect to their calling, in a smock-frock,
or blouse, to render so ugly a clash of syllables. His young mistress
was every way and by much his superior, as well in prospects as in
education. But the man, by nature arrogant, and little acquainted with
the world, presumptuously raised his eyes to one of his young
mistresses. Great was the scorn with which she repulsed his audacity,
and her sisters participated in her disdain. Upon this affront he
brooded night and day; and, after the term of his service was over, and
he, in effect, forgotten by the family, one day he suddenly descended
amongst the women of the family like an Avatar of vengeance. Right and
left he threw out his murderous knife without distinction of person,
leaving the room and the passage floating in blood.

The final result of this carnage was not so terrific as it threatened to
be. Some, I think, recovered; but, also, one, who did _not_ recover, was
unhappily a stranger to the whole cause of his fury. Now, this murderer
always maintained, in conversation with the prison chaplain, that, as he
rushed on in his hellish career, he perceived distinctly a dark figure
on his right hand, keeping pace with himself. Upon _that_ the
superstitious, of course, supposed that some fiend had revealed himself,
and associated his superfluous presence with the dark atrocity. Symons
was not a philosopher, but my opinion is, that he was too much so to
tolerate that hypothesis, since, if there was one man in all Europe that
needed no tempter to evil on that evening, it was precisely Mr. Symons,
as nobody knew better than Mr. Symons himself. I had not the benefit of
his acquaintance, or I would have explained it to him. The fact is, in
point of awe a fiend would be a poor, trivial _bagatelle_ compared to
the shadowy projections, _umbras_ and _penumbras_, which the
unsearchable depths of man's nature is capable, under adequate
excitement, of throwing off, and even into stationary forms. I shall
have occasion to notice this point again. There are creative agencies in
every part of human nature, of which the thousandth part could never be
revealed in one life.

You have heard, reader, in vision which describes our Ladies of Sorrow,
particularly in the dark admonition of Madonna, to her wicked sister
that hateth and tempteth, what root of dark uses may lie in moral
convulsions: not the uses hypocritically vaunted by theatrical devotion
which affronts the majesty of God, that ever and in all things loves
Truth--prefers sincerity that is erring to piety that cants. Rebellion
which is the sin of witchcraft is more pardonable in His sight than
speechifying resignation, listening with complacency to its own
self-conquests. Show always as much neighbourhood as thou canst to grief
that abases itself, which will cost thee but little effort if thine own
grief hath been great. But God, who sees thy efforts in secret, will
slowly strengthen those efforts, and make that to be a real deed,
bearing tranquillity for thyself, which at first was but a feeble wish
breathing homage to _Him_.

In after-life, from twenty to twenty-four, on looking back to those
struggles of my childhood, I used to wonder exceedingly that a child
could be exposed to struggles on such a scale. But two views unfolded
upon me as my experience widened, which took away that wonder. The first
was the vast scale upon which the sufferings of children are found
everywhere expanded in the realities of life. The generation of infants
which you see is but part of those who belong to it; were born in it;
and make, the world over, not one half of it. The missing half, more
than an equal number to those of any age that are now living, have
perished by every kind of torments. Three thousand children per
annum--that is, three hundred thousand per century; that is (omitting
Sundays), about ten every day--pass to heaven through flames[2] in this
very island of Great Britain. And of those who survive to reach
maturity what multitudes have fought with fierce pangs of hunger, cold,
and nakedness! When I came to know all this, then reverting my eye to
_my_ struggle, I said oftentimes it was nothing! Secondly, in watching
the infancy of my own children, I made another discovery--it is well
known to mothers, to nurses, and also to philosophers--that the tears
and lamentations of infants during the year or so when they have no
_other_ language of complaint run through a gamut that is as
inexhaustible as the cremona of Paganini. An ear but moderately learned
in that language cannot be deceived as to the rate and _modulus_ of the
suffering which it indicates. A fretful or peevish cry cannot by any
efforts make itself impassioned. The cry of impatience, of hunger, of
irritation, of reproach, of alarm, are all different--different as a
chorus of Beethoven from a chorus of Mozart. But if ever you saw an
infant suffering for an hour, as sometimes the healthiest does, under
some attack of the stomach, which has the tiger-grasp of the Oriental
cholera, then you will hear moans that address to their mothers an
anguish of supplication for aid such as might storm the heart of Moloch.
Once hearing it, you will not forget it. Now, it was a constant remark
of mine, after any storm of that nature (occurring, suppose, once in two
months), that always on the following day, when a long, long sleep had
chased away the darkness and the memory of the darkness from the little
creature's brain, a sensible expansion had taken place in the
intellectual faculties of attention, observation, and animation. It
renewed the case of our great modern poet, who, on listening to the
raving of the midnight storm, and the crashing which it was making in
the mighty woods, reminded himself that all this hell of trouble

    'Tells also of bright calms that shall succeed.'

Pain driven to agony, or grief driven to frenzy, is essential to the
ventilation of profound natures. A sea which is deeper than any that
Count Massigli[3] measured cannot be searched and torn up from its
sleeping depths without a levanter or a monsoon. A nature which is
profound in excess, but also introverted and abstracted in excess, so as
to be in peril of wasting itself in interminable reverie, cannot be
awakened sometimes without afflictions that go to the very foundations,
heaving, stirring, yet finally harmonizing; and it is in such cases that
the Dark Interpreter does his work, revealing the worlds of pain and
agony and woe possible to man--possible even to the innocent spirit of a


As nothing which is impassioned escapes the eye of poetry, neither has
this escaped it--that there is, or may be, through solitude, 'sublime
attractions of the grave.' But even poetry has not perceived that these
attractions may arise for a child. Not, indeed, a passion for the grave
_as_ the grave--from _that_ a child revolts; but a passion for the grave
as the portal through which it may recover some heavenly countenance,
mother or sister, that has vanished. Through solitude this passion may
be exalted into a frenzy like a nympholepsy. At first, when in childhood
we find ourselves torn away from the lips that we could hang on for
ever, we throw out our arms in vain struggles to snatch at them, and
pull them back again. But when we have felt for a time how hopeless is
that effort, and that they cannot come to _us_, we desist from that
struggle, and next we whisper to our hearts, Might not we go to _them_?

Such in principle and origin was the famous _Dulce Domum_[4] of the
English schoolboy. Such is the _Heimweh_ (home-sickness) of the German
and Swiss soldier in foreign service. Such is the passion of the
Calenture. Doubtless, reader, you have seen it described. The poor
sailor is in tropical latitudes; deep, breathless calms have prevailed
for weeks. Fever and delirium are upon him. Suddenly from his restless
hammock he starts up; he will fret no longer in darkness; he ascends
upon deck. How motionless are the deeps! How vast--how sweet are these
shining zaarrahs of water! He gazes, and slowly under the blazing
scenery of his brain the scenery of his eye unsettles. The waters are
swallowed up; the seas have disappeared. Green fields appear, a silent
dell, and a pastoral cottage. Two faces appear--are at the door--sweet
female faces, and behold they beckon him. 'Come to us!' they seem to
say. The picture rises to his wearied brain like a _sanctus_ from the
choir of a cathedral, and in the twinkling of an eye, stung to madness
by the cravings of his heart, the man is overboard. He is gone--he is
lost for this world; but if he missed the arms of the lovely women--wife
and sister--whom he sought, assuredly he has settled into arms that are
mightier and not less indulgent.

I, young as I was, had one feeling not learned from books, and that
_could_ not have been learned from books, the deepest of all that
connect themselves with natural scenery. It is the feeling which in 'The
Hart-leap Well' of Wordsworth, in his 'Danish Boy,' and other exquisite
poems is brought out, viz., the breathless, mysterious, Pan-like silence
that haunts the noon-day. If there were winds abroad, then I was roused
myself into sympathetic tumults. But if this dead silence haunted the
air, then the peace which was in nature echoed another peace which lay
in graves, and I fell into a sick languishing for things which a voice
from heaven seemed to say '_cannot_ be granted.'

There is a German superstition, which eight or ten years after I read,
of the Erl-king and his daughter. The daughter had power to tempt
infants away into the invisible world; but it is, as the reader
understands, by collusion with some infirmity of sick desire for such
worlds in the infant itself.

    'Who is that rides through the forest so fast?'

It is a knight who carries his infant upon his saddle-bow. The
Erl-king's daughter rides by his side; and, in words audible only when
she means them to be heard, she says:

    'If thou wilt, dear baby, with me go away,
     We will see a fine show, we will play a fine play.'

That sounds lovely to my ears. Oh yes, that collusion with dim sleeping
infancy is lovely to me; but I was too advanced in intellect to have
been tempted by _such_ temptations. Still there was a perilous
attraction for me in worlds that slept and rested; and if the Erl-king's
daughter had revealed herself to my perceptions, there was one 'show'
that she might have promised which would have wiled me away with her
into the dimmest depths of the mightiest and remotest forests.


In my dreams were often prefigurements of my future, as I could not but
read the signs. What man has not some time in dewy morn, or sequestered
eve, or in the still night-watches, when deep sleep falleth on other men
but visiteth not his weary eyelids--what man, I say, has not some time
hushed his spirit and questioned with himself whether some things seen
or obscurely felt, were not anticipated as by mystic foretaste in some
far halcyon time, post-natal or ante-natal he knew not; only assuredly
he knew that for him past and present and future merged in one awful
moment of lightning revelation. Oh, spirit that dwelleth in man, how
subtle are _thy_ revelations; how deep, how delirious the raptures thou
canst inspire; how poignant the stings with which thou canst pierce the
heart; how sweet the honey with which thou assuagest the wound; how dark
the despairs and accusings that lie behind thy curtains, and leap upon
us like lightning from the cloud, with the sense as of some heavenly
blazoning, and oftentimes carry us beyond ourselves!

It is a sweet morning in June, and the fragrance of the roses is wafted
towards me as I move--for I am walking in a lawny meadow, still wet
with dew--and a wavering mist lies over the distance. Suddenly it seems
to lift, and out of the dewy dimness emerges a cottage, embowered with
roses and clustering clematis; and the hills, in which it is set like a
gem, are tree-clad, and rise billowy behind it, and to the right and to
the left are glistening expanses of water. Over the cottage there hangs
a halo, as if clouds had but parted there. From the door of that cottage
emerges a figure, the countenance full of the trepidation of some dread
woe feared or remembered. With waving arm and tearful uplifted face the
figure first beckons me onward, and then, when I have advanced some
yards, frowning, warns me away. As I still continue to advance, despite
the warning, darkness falls: figure, cottage, hills, trees, and halo
fade and disappear; and all that remains to me is the look on the face
of her that beckoned and warned me away. I read that glance as by the
inspiration of a moment. We had been together; together we had entered
some troubled gulf; struggled together, suffered together. Was it as
lovers torn asunder by calamity? was it as combatants forced by bitter
necessity into bitter feud, when we only, in all the world, yearned for
peace together? Oh, what a searching glance was that which she cast on
me! as if she, being now in the spiritual world, abstracted from flesh,
remembered things that I could not remember. Oh, how I shuddered as the
sweet sunny eyes in the sweet sunny morning of June--the month that was
my 'angelical'; half spring, yet with summer dress, that to me was very
'angelical'--seemed reproachfully to challenge in me recollections of
things passed thousands of years ago (old indeed, yet that were made new
again for us, because now first it was that we met again). Oh, heavens!
it came over me as doth the raven over the infected house, as from a bed
of violets sweeps the saintly odour of corruption. What a glimpse was
thus revealed! glory in despair, as of that gorgeous vegetation that hid
the sterilities of the grave in the tropics of that summer long ago; of
that heavenly beauty which slept side by side within my sister's coffin
in the month of June; of those saintly swells that rose from an infinite
distance--I know not whether to or from my sister. Could this be a
memorial of that nature? Are the nearer and more distant stages of life
thus dimly connected, and the connection hidden, but suddenly revealed
for a moment?

This lady for years appeared to me in dreams; in that, considering the
electric character of my dreams, and that they were far less like a lake
reflecting the heavens than like the pencil of some mighty artist--Da
Vinci or Michael Angelo--that cannot copy in simplicity, but comments in
freedom, while reflecting in fidelity, there was nothing to surprise.
But a change in this appearance was remarkable. Oftentimes, after eight
years had passed, she appeared in summer dawn at a window. It was a
window that opened on a balcony. This feature only gave a distinction, a
refinement, to the aspect of the cottage--else all was simplicity.
Spirit of Peace, dove-like dawn that slept upon the cottage, ye were not
broken by any participation in my grief and despair! For ever the vision
of that cottage was renewed. Did I roam in the depths of sweet pastoral
solitudes in the West, with the tinkling of sheep-bells in my ears, a
rounded hillock, seen vaguely, would shape itself into a cottage; and at
the door my monitory, regretful Hebe would appear. Did I wander by the
seashore, one gently-swelling wave in the vast heaving plain of waters
would suddenly transform itself into a cottage, and I, by some
involuntary inward impulse, would in fancy advance toward it.

Ah, reader, you will think this which I am going to say too near, too
holy, for recital. But not so. The deeper a woe touches me in heart, so
much the more am I urged to recite it. The world disappears: I see only
the grand reliques of a world--memorials of a love that has departed,
has been--the record of a sorrow that is, and has its greyness converted
into verdure--monuments of a wrath that has been reconciled, of a wrong
that has been atoned for--convulsions of a storm that has gone by. What
I am going to say is the most like a superstitious thing that I ever
shall say. And I have reason to think that every man who is not a
villain once in his life must be superstitious. It is a tribute which he
pays to human frailty, which tribute if he will not pay, which frailty
if he will not share, then also he shall not have any of its strength.

The face of this monitory Hebe haunted me for some years in a way that I
must faintly attempt to explain. It is little to say that it was the
sweetest face, with the most peculiar expression of sweetness, that I
had ever seen: that was much, but that was earthly. There was something
more terrific, believe me, than this; yet that was not the word: terror
looks to the future; and this perhaps did, but not primarily. Chiefly it
looked at some unknown past, and was for that reason awful; yes,
awful--that was the word.

Thus, on any of those heavenly sunny mornings, that now are buried in an
endless grave, did I, transported by no human means, enter that cottage,
and descend to that breakfast-room, my earliest salute was to her, that
ever, as the look of pictures do, with her eyes pursued me round the
room, and oftentimes with a subtle checking of grief, as if great sorrow
had been or would be hers. And it was, too, in the sweet Maytime. Oh
yes; she was but as if she had been--as if it were her original ...
chosen to have been the aurora of a heavenly clime; and then suddenly
she was as one of whom, for some thousand years, Paradise had received
no report; then, again, as if she entered the gates of Paradise not less
innocent; and, again, as if she could not enter; and some blame--but I
knew not what blame--was mine; and now she looked as though broken with
a woe that no man could read, as she sought to travel back to her early
joy--yet no longer a joy that is sublime in innocency, but a joy from
which sprung abysses of memories polluted into anguish, till her tears
seemed to be suffused with drops of blood. All around was peace and the
deep silence of untroubled solitude; only in the lovely lady was a sign
of horror, that had slept, under deep ages of frost, in her heart, and
now rose, as with the rushing of wings, to her face. Could it be
supposed that one life--so pitiful a thing--was what moved her care? Oh
no; it was, or it seemed, as if this poor wreck of a life happened to be
that one which determined the fate of some thousand others. Nothing
less; nothing so abject as one poor fifty years--nothing less than a
century of centuries could have stirred the horror that rose to her
lovely lips, as once more she waved me away from the cottage.

Oh, reader, five years after I saw that sweet face in reality--saw it in
the flesh; saw that pomp of womanhood; saw that cottage; saw a thousand
times that lovely domicile that heard the cooing of the solitary dove in
the solitary morning; saw the grace of childhood and the shadows of
graves that lay, like creatures asleep, in the sunshine; saw, also, the
horror, somehow realized as a shadowy reflection from myself, which
warned me off from that cottage, and which still rings through the
dreams of five-and-twenty years.

The general sentiment or sense of pre-existence, of which this
_Suspiria_ may be regarded as one significant and affecting
illustration, had this record in the outset of the 'Reminiscences of

'Oh, sense of mysterious pre-existence, by which, through years, in
which as yet a stranger to those valleys of Westmoreland, I viewed
myself as a phantom self--a second identity projected from my own
consciousness, and already living amongst them--how was it, and by what
prophetic instinct, that already I said to myself oftentimes, when
chasing day-dreams along the pictures of these wild mountainous
labyrinths, which as yet I had not traversed, "Here, in some distant
year, I shall be shaken with love, and there with stormiest grief and
regret"? Whence was it that sudden revelations came upon me, like the
drawings up of a curtain, and closing again as rapidly, of scenes that
made the future heaven of my life? And how was it that in thought I
_was_, and yet in reality _was not_, a denizen, already, in 1803, 1804,
1805, of lakes and forest lawns, which I never saw till 1807? and that,
by a prophetic instinct of heart, I rehearsed and lived over, as it
were, in vision those chapters of my life which have carried with them
the weightiest burden of joy and sorrow, and by the margin of those very
lakes and hills with which I prefigured this connection? and, in short,
that for me, by a transcendent privilege, during the novitiate of my
life, most truly I might say:

    '"In to-day already walked to-morrow."'


There is a story told in the 'Arabian Nights' of a princess who, by
overlooking one seed of a pomegranate, precipitated the event which she
had laboured to make impossible. She lies in wait for the event which
she foresees. The pomegranate swells, opens, splits; the seeds, which
she knows to be roots of evil, rapidly she swallows; but one--only
one--before it could be arrested, rolls away into a river. It is lost!
it is irrecoverable! She has triumphed, but she must perish. Already she
feels the flames mounting up which are to consume her, and she calls for
water hastily--not to deliver herself (for that is impossible), but,
nobly forgetting her own misery, that she may prevent that destruction
of her brother mortal which had been the original object for hazarding
her own. Yet why go to Arabian fictions? Even in our daily life is
exhibited, in proportions far more gigantic, that tendency to swell and
amplify itself into mountains of darkness, which exists oftentimes in
germs that are imperceptible. An error in human choice, an infirmity in
the human will, though it were at first less than a mote, though it
should swerve from the right line by an interval less than any thread

    'That ever spider twisted from her womb,'

sometimes begins to swell, to grow, to widen its distance rapidly,
travels off into boundless spaces remote from the true centre, spaces
incalculable and irretraceable, until hope seems extinguished and return
impossible. Such was the course of my own opium career. Such is the
history of human errors every day. Such was the original sin of the
Greek theories on Deity, which could not have been healed but by putting
off their own nature, and kindling into a new principle--absolutely
undiscoverable, as I contend, for the Grecian intellect.

Oftentimes an echo goes as it were to sleep: the series of
reverberations has died away. Suddenly a second series awakens: this
subsides, then a third wakens up. So of actions done in youth. After
great tumults all is quieted. You dream that they are over. In a moment,
in the twinkling of an eye, on some fatal morning in middle-life the
far-off consequences come back upon you. And you say to yourself, 'Oh,
Heaven, if I had fifty lives this crime would reappear, as Pelion upon
Ossa!' So was it with my affection. Left to natural peace, I might have
conquered it: _Verschmerzeon_. To charm it down by the mere suffering of
grief, to hush it by endurance, that was the natural policy--that was
the natural process. But behold! A new form of sorrow arises, and the
two multiply together. And the worm which was beginning to fall asleep
is roused again to pestilential fierceness.


Mystery unfathomable of Death! Mystery unapproachable of God! Destined
it was, from the foundations of the world, that each mystery should make
war upon the other: once that the lesser mystery should swallow up for a
moment a _limbus_ of the greater; and that woe is past: once that the
greater mystery should swallow up for ever the whole vortex of the
lesser; and that glory is yet to come. After which man, that is the son
of God, shall lift up his eyes for ever, saying, 'Behold! these were two
mysteries; and one is not; and there is but one mystery that survives
for ever!'

If an eternity (Death supposed) is as vast as a star, yet the most
miserable of earthly blocks not four feet square will eclipse, masque,
hide it from centre to circumference. And so it really is. Incredible as
it might seem apart from experience, the dreadful reality of death is
utterly withdrawn from us because itself dwindles to an apparent mote,
and the perishing non-reality thickens into a darkness as massy as a

Great changes summon to great meditations. Daily we see the most joyous
of events take a colouring of solemnity from the mere relation in which
they stand to an uncertain future: the birth of a child, heir to the
greatest expectations, and welcomed clamorously by the sympathy of
myriads, speaks to the more reflecting in an undertone of monitory
sadness, were it only as a tribute to the frailty of human expectations:
and a marriage-day, of all human events the most lawfully festal, yet
needs something of effort to chase away the boding sadness which settles
unavoidably upon any new career; the promise is vague, but new hopes
have created new dangers, and responsibilities contracted perhaps with
rapture are charged with menace.

For every one of us, male or female, there is a year of crisis--a year
of solemn and conscious transition, a year in which the light-hearted
sense of the _irresponsible_ ceases to gild the heavenly dawn. A year
there is, settled by no law or usage, for me perhaps the eighteenth, for
you the seventeenth, for another the nineteenth, within the gates of
which, underneath the gloomy archway of which, sits a phantom of

Turn a screw, tighten a linch-pin--which is not to disease, but perhaps
to exalt, the mighty machinery of the brain--and the Infinities appear,
before which the tranquillity of man unsettles, the gracious forms of
life depart, and the ghostly enters. So profoundly is this true, that
oftentimes I have said of my own tremendous experience in this
region--destined too certainly, I fear, finally to swallow up intellect
and the life of life in the heart, unless God of His mercy fetches me
away by some sudden death--that death, considered as an entrance to this
ghostly world, is but a postern-gate by comparison with the
heaven-aspiring vestibule through which this world of the Infinite
introduces the ghostly world.

Time, if it does not diminish grief, alters its character. At first we
stretch out our hands in very blindness of heart, as if trying to draw
back again those whom we have lost. But, after a season, when the
impotence of such efforts has become too sensibly felt, finding that
they will not come back to us, a strange fascination arises which yearns
after some mode of going to _them_. There is a gulf fixed which
childhood rarely can pass. But we link our wishes with whatsoever would
gently waft us over. We stretch out our hands, and say, 'Sister, lend us
thy help, and plead for us with God, that we may pass over without much

The joy of an infant, or joy-generation, without significance to an
unprofound and common mind--how strange to see the excess of pathos in
that; yet men of any (or at least of much) sensibility see in this a
transpicuous masque for another form, viz., the eternal ground of sorrow
in all human hearts. This, by the way, in an essay on William
Wordsworth, should be noticed as the charm of his poetry; and the note
differential, in fact. At least, I know not of any former poet who has
so systematically sought his sadness in the very luxury of joy. Thus, in
the 'Two April Mornings,' 'what a mortal freshness of dewy radiance!
what an attraction of early summer! what a vision of roses in June! Yet
it is all transmuted to a purpose of sadness.'

Ah, reader, scorn not that which--whether you refuse it or not as the
reality of realities--is assuredly the reality of dreams, linking us to
a far vaster cycle, in which the love and the languishing, the ruin and
the horror, of this world are but moments--but elements in an eternal
circle. The cycle stretches from an East that is forgotten to a West
that is but conjectured. The mere fact of your own individual calamity
is a life; the tragedy is a nature; the hope is but as a dim augury
written on a flower.[5]

If the things that have fretted us had not some art for retiring into
secret oblivion, what a hell would life become! Now, understand how in
some nervous derangements this horror really takes place. Some things
that had sunk into utter forgetfulness, others that had faded into
visionary power, all rise as gray phantoms from the dust; the field of
our earthly combats that should by rights have settled into peace, is
all alive with hosts of resurrections--cavalries that sweep in gusty
charges--columns that thunder from afar--arms gleaming through clouds of

God takes care for the religion of little children wheresoever His
Christianity exists. Wheresoever there is a national Church established,
to which a child sees all his protectors resort; wheresoever he beholds
amongst earthly creatures whom most he honours prostrate in devotion
before these illimitable heavens, which fill to overflowing the total
capacities of his young adoring heart; wheresoever at intervals he
beholds the sleep of death, falling upon the men or women whom he has
seen--a depth stretching as far below his power to fathom as those
persons ascend beyond his powers to pursue--God speaks to their hearts
by dreams and their tumultuous grandeurs. Even by solitude does God
speak to little children, when made vocal by the services of
Christianity, as also he does by darkness wheresoever it is peopled
with visions of His almighty power. For a pagan child, for a Greek
child, solitude was nothing; for a Christian child it is made the power
of God, and the hieroglyphic of His most distant truth. The solitude in
life is deep for the millions who have none to love them, and deep for
those who suffer by secret and incommunicable woe and have none to pity
them. Thus, be you assured that though infancy talks least of that which
slumbers deepest, it yet rests in its own transcendent solitude. But
infancy, you say, talks surely most of that which is uppermost in its
heart. Yes, doubtless of that which is uppermost, but not at all of that
which slumbers below the foundations of its heart.

[And then follows a suggestion to put in a note:]

I except one case, the case of any child who is marked for death by
organic disease, and knows it. In such cases the creature is
changed--that which would have been unchildlike ceases to offend, for a
new character is forming.


[1] See the story of the young soldier who told his officer, on having
been struck by him, that 'he would make him repent it.' (Close of
autobiographic sketch, 'Infant Literature.')

[2] Three thousand children are annually burnt to death in the nations
of England and Scotland, chiefly through the carelessness of parents. I
shudder to add another and darker cause, which is a deep disgrace to the
present age.

[3] Count Massigli (an Austrian officer in the imperial service) about
sixty years ago fathomed and attempted to fathom many parts of the
Mediterranean and the Atlantic. If I remember rightly, he found the
bottom within less than an English mile.

[4] The story and the verses are, or used to be, well known. A
schoolboy, forbidden to return home at the holidays, is suspected to
have written the lyrical Latin verses upon the rapture of returning
home, and to have breathed out his life in the anguish of thus reviving
the images which for him were never to be realized.... The reader must
not fancy any flaw in the Latin title. It is elliptic; _revisere_ being
understood, or some similar word.

[5] I allude to the _signatures_ of nature.


The loveliest sight that a woman's eye opens upon in this world is her
first-born child; and the holiest sight upon which the eyes of God
settle in Almighty sanction and perfect blessing is the love which soon
kindles between the mother and her infant: mute and speechless on the
one side, with no language but tears and kisses and looks. Beautiful is
the philosophy ... which arises out of that reflection or passion
connected with the transition that has produced it. First comes the
whole mighty drama of love, purified[6] ever more and more, how often
from grosser feelings, yet of necessity through its very elements,
oscillating between the finite and the infinite: the haughtiness of
womanly pride, so dignified, yet not always free from the near contagion
of error; the romance so ennobling, yet not always entirely reasonable;
the tender dawn of opening sentiments, pointing to an idea in all this
which it neither can reach nor could long sustain. Think of the great
storm of agitation, and fear and hope, through which, in her earliest
days of womanhood, every woman must naturally pass, fulfilling a law of
her Creator, yet a law which rests upon her mixed constitution; animal,
though indefinitely ascending to what is non-animal--as a daughter of
man, frail ... and imperfect, yet also as a daughter of God, standing
erect, with eyes to the heavens. Next, when the great vernal passover of
sexual tenderness and romance has fulfilled its purpose, we see, rising
as a Phoenix from this great mystery of ennobled instincts, another
mystery, much more profound, more affecting, more divine--not so much a
rapture as a blissful repose of a Sabbath, which swallows up the more
perishing story of the first; forcing the vast heart of female nature
through stages of ascent, forcing it to pursue the transmigrations of
the Psyche from the aurelic condition, so glowing in its colour, into
the winged creature which mixes with the mystery of the dawn, and
ascends to the altar of the infinite heavens, rising by a ladder of
light from that sympathy which God surveys with approbation; and even
more so as He beholds it self-purifying under His Christianity to that
sympathy which needs no purification, but is the holiest of things on
this earth, and that in which God most reveals Himself through the
nature of humanity.

Well is it for the glorification of human nature that through these the
vast majority of women must for ever pass; well also that, by placing
its sublime germs near to female youth, God thus turns away by
anticipation the divinest of disciplines from the rapacious absorption
of the grave. Time is found--how often--for those who are early summoned
into rendering back their glorious privilege, who yet have tasted in
its first-fruits the paradise of maternal love.

And pertaining also to this part of the subject, I will tell you a
result of my own observations of no light importance to women.

It is this: Nineteen times out of twenty I have remarked that the true
paradise of a female life in all ranks, not too elevated for constant
intercourse with the children, is by no means the years of courtship,
nor the earliest period of marriage, but that sequestered chamber of her
experience, in which a mother is left alone through the day, with
servants perhaps in a distant part of the house, and (God be thanked!)
chiefly where there are no servants at all, she is attended by one sole
companion, her little first-born angel, as yet clinging to her robe,
imperfectly able to walk, still more imperfect in its prattling and
innocent thoughts, clinging to her, haunting her wherever she goes as
her shadow, catching from her eye the total inspiration of its little
palpitating heart, and sending to hers a thrill of secret pleasure so
often as its little fingers fasten on her own. Left alone from morning
to night with this one companion, or even with three, still wearing the
graces of infancy; buds of various stages upon the self-same tree, a
woman, if she has the great blessing of approaching such a luxury of
paradise, is moving--too often not aware that she is moving--through the
divinest section of her life. As evening sets in, the husband, through
all walks of life, from the highest professional down to that of common
labour, returns home to vary her modes of conversation by such thoughts
and interests as are more consonant with his more extensive capacities
of intellect. But by that time her child (or her children) will be
reposing on the little couch, and in the morning, duly as the sun
ascends in power, she sees before her a long, long day of perfect
pleasure in this society which evening will bring to her, but which is
interwoven with every fibre of her sensibilities. This condition of
noiseless, quiet love is that, above all, which God blesses and smiles


[6] How purified? And if it should be answered, through and under
Christianity, the fool in his heart would scoff and say: 'What woman
thinks of religion in her youthful courtship?' No; but it is not what
she thinks of, but what thinks of her; not what she contemplates in
consciousness, but what contemplates her, and reaches her by a necessity
of social (? ideal) action. Romance is the product of Christianity, but
so is sentiment.


It is not for so idle a purpose as that of showing the Pagan
backsliding--that is too evident--but for a far subtler purpose, and one
which no man has touched, viz., the incapacity of creating grandeur for
the Pagans, even with _carte blanche_ in their favour, that I write this
paper. Nothing is more incomprehensible than the following fact--nothing
than this when mastered and understood is more thoroughly
instructive--the fact that having a wide, a limitless field open before
them, free to give and to take away at their own pleasure, the Pagans
could not invest their Gods with any iota of grandeur. Diana, when you
translate her into the Moon, then indeed partakes in all the _natural_
grandeur of a planet associated with a dreamy light, with forests,
forest lawns, etc., or the wild accidents of a huntress. But the Moon
and the Huntress are surely not the creations of Pagans, nor indebted to
them for anything but the murderous depluming which Pagan mythology has
operated upon all that is in earth or in the waters that are under the
earth. Now, why could not the ancients raise one little scintillating
glory in behalf of their monstrous deities? So far are they from thus
raising Jupiter, that he is sometimes made the ground of nature (not,
observe, for any positive reason that they had for any relation that
Jupiter had to Creation, but simply for the negative reason that they
had nobody else)--never does Jupiter seem more disgusting than when as
just now in a translation of the 'Batrachia' I read that Jupiter had
given to frogs an amphibious nature, making the awful, ancient,
first-born secrets of Chaos to be his, and thus forcing into contrast
and remembrance his odious personality.

Why, why, why could not the Romans, etc., make a grandeur for their
Gods? Not being able to make them grand, they daubed them with finery.
All that people imagine in the Jupiter Olympus of Phidias--_they_
themselves confer. But an apostle is beyond their reach.

When, be it well observed, the cruel and dark religions are far more
successful than those of Greece and Rome, for Osiris, etc., by the might
of the devil, of darkness, are truly terrific. Cybele stands as a middle
term half-way between these dark forms and the Greek or Roman. Pluto is
the very model of a puny attempt at darkness utterly failing. He looks
big; he paints himself histrionically; he soots his face; he has a
masterful dog, nothing half so fearful as a wolf-dog or bloodhound; and
he raises his own _manes_, poor, stridulous Struldbrugs.

Vainly did the ancient Pagans fight against this fatal weakness.

They may confer upon their Gods glittering titles of 'ambrosial,'
'immortal'; but the human mind is careless of positive assertion, and of
clamorous iteration in however angry a tone, when silently it observes
stealing out of facts already conceded some fatal consequence at war
with all these empty pretensions--mortal even in _the virtual_
conceptions of the Pagans. If the Pagan Gods were really immortal, if
essentially they repelled the touch of mortality, and not through the
adulatory homage of their worshipers causing their true aspects to
unsettle or altogether to disappear in clouds of incense, then how came
whole dynasties of Gods to pass away, and no man could tell whither? If
really they defied the grave, then how was it that age and the
infirmities of age passed upon them like the shadow of eclipse upon the
golden faces of the planets? If Apollo were a beardless young man, his
father was not such--_he_ was in the vigour of maturity; maturity is a
flattering term for expressing it, but it means _past youth_--and his
grandfather was superannuated. But even this grandfather, who _had_ been
once what Apollo was now, could not pretend to more than a transitory
station in the long succession of Gods. Other dynasties, known even to
man, there had been before his; and elder dynasties before _that_, of
whom only rumours and suspicions survived. Even this taint, however,
this _direct_ access of mortality, was less shocking to my mind in
after-years than the abominable fact of its reflex or indirect access in
the shape of grief for others who had died. I need not multiply
instances; they are without end. The reader has but to throw his memory
back upon the anguish of Jupiter, in the 'Iliad,' for the approaching
death of his son Sarpedon, and his vain struggles to deliver himself
from this ghastly net; or upon Thetis, fighting against the vision of
her matchless Pelides caught in the same vortex; or upon the Muse in
Euripides, hovering in the air and wailing over her young Rhesus, her
brave, her beautiful one, of whom she trusted that he had been destined
to confound the Grecian host. What! a God, and liable to the pollution
of grief! A Goddess, and standing every hour within the peril of that
dismal shadow!

Here in one moment mark the recoil, the intolerable recoil, upon the
Pagan mind, of that sting which vainly they pretended to have conquered
on behalf of their Pantheon. Did the reader fancy that I was fatiguing
myself with any task so superfluous as that of proving the Gods of the
heathen to be no Gods? In that case he has not understood me. My object
is to show that the ancients, that even the Greeks, could not support
the idea of immortality. The idea crumbled to pieces under their touch.
In realizing that idea unconsciously, they suffered elements to slip in
which defeated its very essence in the result; and not by accident:
other elements they could not have found. Doubtless an insolent Grecian
philosopher would say, 'Surely, I knew that immortality meant the being
liberated from mortality.' Yes, but this is no more than the negative
idea, and the demand is to give the affirmative idea. Or perhaps I shall
better explain my meaning by substituting other terms with my own
illustration of their value. I say, then, that the Greek idea of
immortality involves only the nominal idea, not the real idea. Now, the
nominal idea (or, which is the same thing, the nominal definition) is
that which simply sketches the outline of an object in the shape of a
problem; whereas the real definition fills up that outline and solves
that problem. The nominal definition states the conditions under which
an object would be realized for the mind; the real definition executes
those conditions. The nominal definition, that I may express it most
briefly and pointedly, puts a _question_; the real definition _answers_
that question. Thus, to give our illustration, the insoluble problem of
squaring the circle presents us with a good nominal idea. There is no
vagueness at all in the idea of such a square; it is that square which,
when a given circle is laid before you, would present the same
superficial contents in such exquisite truth of repetition that the eye
of God could detect no shadow of more or of less. Nothing can be plainer
than the demand--than the question. But as to the answer, as to the
_real_ conditions under which this demand can be realized, all the wit
of man has not been able to do more than approach it. Or, again, the
idea of a _perfect commonwealth_, clear enough as a nominal idea, is in
its infancy as a real idea. Or, perhaps, a still more lively
illustration to some readers may be the idea of _perpetual motion_.
Nominally--that is, as an idea sketched problem-wise--what is plainer?
You are required to assign some principle of motion such that it shall
revolve through the parts of a mechanism self-sustained. Suppose those
parts to be called by the names of our English alphabet, and to stand in
the order of our alphabet, then A is through B C D, etc., to pass down
with its total power upon Z, which reciprocally is to come round
undiminished upon A B C, etc., for ever. Never was a _nominal_
definition of what you want more simple and luminous. But coming to the
_real_ definition, and finding that every letter in succession must
still give something less than is received--that O, for instance, cannot
give to P all which it received from N--then no matter for the
triviality of the loss in each separate case, always it is gathering and
accumulating; your hands drop down in despair; you feel that a principle
of death pervades the machinery; retard it you may, but come it will at
last. And a proof remains behind, as your only result, that whilst the
nominal definition may sometimes run before the real definition for
ages, and yet finally be overtaken by it, in other cases the one flies
hopelessly before the pursuit of the other, defies it, and never _will_
be overtaken to the end of time.

That fate, that necessity, besieged the Grecian idea of immortality.
Rise from forgotten dust, my Plato; Stagyrite, stand up from the grave;
Anaxagoras, with thy bright, cloudless intellect that searched the
skies, Heraclitus, with thy gloomy, mysterious intellect that fathomed
the deeps, come forward and execute for me this demand. How shall that
immortality, which you give, which you _must_ give as a trophy of honour
to your Pantheon, sustain itself against the blights from those
humanities which also, by an equal necessity, starting from your basis,
give you must to that Pantheon? How will you prevent the sad reflux of
that tide which finally engulfs all things under any attempt to execute
the nominal idea of a Deity? You cannot do it. Weave your divinities in
that Grecian loom of yours, and no skill in the workmanship, nor care
that wisdom can devise, will ever cure the fatal flaws in the texture:
for the mortal taint lies not so much in your work as in the original
errors of your loom.


Ask any well-informed man at random what he supposes to have been done
with the sacrifices, he will answer that really he never thought about
it, but that naturally he supposes the flesh was burnt upon the altars.
Not at all, reader; a sacrifice to the Gods meant universally a banquet
to man. He who gave a splendid public dinner announced in other words
that he designed to celebrate a sacrificial rite. This was of course.
He, on the other hand, who announced a sacrificial pomp did in other
words proclaim by sound of trumpet that he gave a dinner. This was of
necessity. Hence, when Agamemnon offers a hecatomb to Jupiter, his
brother Menelaus walks in to dinner, [Greek: hachlêtost], without
invitation. As a brother, we are told by Homer that no invitation was
required. He had the privilege of what in German is beautifully called
'ein Kind des Hauses,' a child of the house. This dispensation from the
necessity of a formal invitation Homer explains, but as to explanation
how he knew that there was a dinner, that he passes over as superfluous.
A vast herd of oxen could not be sacrificed without open and public
display of the preparation, and that a human banquet must accompany a
divine sacrifice--this was so much a self-evident truth that Homer does
not trouble himself to make so needless an explanation.

Hence, therefore, a case of legislation in St. Paul's Christian
administration, which I will venture to say few readers understand. Take
the Feast of Ephesus. Here, as in all cities of Asia Minor and Greece,
the Jews lived in great numbers. The universal hospitality over all
these regions was exhibited in dinners ([Greek: dehipna]). Now, it
happened not sometimes, but always, that he who gave a dinner had on the
same day made a sacrifice at the Great Temple; nay, the dinner was
always part of the sacrifice, and thus the following dilemma arose.
Scruples of eating part of sacrifices were absolutely unintelligible,
except as insults to Ephesus. To deny the existence of Diana had no
meaning in the ears of an Ephesian. All that he did understand was, that
if you happened to be a hater of Ephesus, you must hate the guardian
deity of Ephesus. And the sole inference he could collect from your
refusing to eat what had been hallowed to Diana was--that you hated
Ephesus. The dilemma, therefore, was this: either grant a toleration of
this practice, or else farewell to all amicable intercourse for the Jews
with the citizens. In fact, it was to proclaim open war if this
concession were refused. A scruple of conscience might have been allowed
for, but a scruple of this nature could find no allowance in any Pagan
city whatever. Moreover, it had really no foundation. The truth is far
otherwise than that Pagan deities were dreams. Far from it. They were as
real as any other beings. The accommodation, therefore, which St. Paul
most wisely granted was--to eat socially, without regard to any ceremony
through which the food might have passed. So long as the Judaizing
Christian was no party to the religious ceremonies, he was free of all
participation in idolatry. Since if the mere open operation of a Pagan
process could transform into the character of an accomplice one who with
no assenting heart ate of the food, in that case Christ Himself might by
possibility have shared in an idolatrous banquet, and we Christians at
this day in the East Indies might for months together become unconscious
accomplices in the foul idolatries of the Buddhist and Brahminical

But so essentially were the convivial banquets of the Pagans interwoven
with their religious rites, so essentially was a great dinner a great
offering to the Gods, and _vice versâ_--a great offering to the Gods a
great dinner--that the very ministers and chief agents in religion were
at first the same. Cocus, or [Greek: mageirost], was the very same
person as the Pope, or presiding arbiter in succession to a Pope. 'Sunt
eadem,' says Casaubon, 'Cocus et Pope.' And of this a most striking
example is yet extant in Athenæus. From the correspondence which for
many centuries was extant between Alexander the Great, when embarked
upon his great expeditions, and his royal mother Olympias, who remained
in Macedon, was one from which we have an extract even at this day,
where he, as we learn from the letter quoted, had been urging his mother
to purchase for him a good cook. And what was made the test supreme of
his skill? Why, this, that he should be [Greek: thysihôn hempeirost], an
artist able to dress a sacrificial banquet. What he meant is this: I do
not want an ordinary cook, who might be equal to the preparation of a
plain (or, what is the same thing, secular) dinner, but a person
qualified or competent to take charge of a hecatomb dinner. His mother's
reply addresses itself to that one point only: [Greek: Peligua ton
mageiron labe hapd thêst mêtrost], which is in effect: 'A cook is it
that you want? Why, then, you cannot do better than take mine. The man
is a reliable table of sacrifices; he knows the whole ritual of those
great official and sacred dinners given by the late king, your father.
He is acquainted with the whole _cuisine_ of the more mysterious
religions, the Orgiacs' (probably from the neighbouring Thrace), 'and
all the great ceremonies and observances practised at Olympia, and even
what you may eat on the great St. Leger Day. So don't lose sight of the
arrangement, but take the man as a present, from me, your affectionate
mother, and be sure to send off an express for him at your earliest

       *       *       *       *       *

     [Professor Robertson Smith in his latest work has well pointed out
     that even with the Hebrews the sacrifices were eaten in common till
     the seventh century B. C., when the sin-offerings, in a time of
     great national distress, came to be slain before Jehovah, and 'none
     but the priests ate of the flesh,' a phase of sacrificial
     specialization which marks the beginning of the exclusive
     sacerdotalism of the Jews.--ED.]


That which the tradition of the people is to the truth of facts--that is
a _mythus_ to the reasonable origin of things. [Transcriber's Note: three
dots in a vertical line above a tiny circle] These objects to an eye at
[Transcriber's Note: low tiny circle] might all melt into one another, as
stars are confluent which modern astronomy has prismatically split. Says
Rennell, as a reason for a Mahometan origin of a canal through Cairo,
such is the tradition of the people. But we see amongst ourselves how
great works are ascribed to the devil or to the Romans by antiquarians.
In Rennell we see the effects of synthesis. He throws back his
observations, like a woman threading a series of needles or a shuttle
running through a series of rings, through a succession of Egyptian
canals (p. 478), showing the real action of the case, that a tendency
existed to this. And, by the way, here comes another strong illustration
of the popular adulterations. They in our country confound the 'Romans,'
a vulgar expression for the Roman Catholics, with the ancient national
people of Rome. Here one element of a _mythus_ B has melted into the
_mythus_ X, and in far-distant times might be very perplexing to
antiquarians, when the popular tradition was too old for them to _see_
the point of juncture where the alien stream had fallen in.

Then, again, not only ignorance, but love, combines to adulterate the
tradition. Every man wishes to give his own country an interest in
anything great. What an effort has been made to suck Sir T. R. back into

Thus, it is too difficult without a motive to hold apart vast distances
_or_ intervals that lie in a field which has all gathered into a blue
haze. Stars, divided by millions of miles, collapse into each other. So
_mythi_: and then comes the perplexity--the entanglement. Then come
also, from lacunæ arising in these interwelded stories, temptations to
falsehood. By the way, even the recent tale of Astyages seems to have
been pieced: the difficulty was to find a motive for Cyrus, reputed a
good man, to make war on his grandfather. Kill him he might by accident.
But the dream required that he should dethrone his grandfather.
Accordingly the dreadful story is devised; but why should Cyrus adopt
the injuries of a nobleman who, if all were true, had only saved himself
by accident?

Impossible as it would seem to transmute Socrates into a _mythus_,
considering the broad daylight which then rested upon Athenian history,
and the inextricable way in which Socrates is entangled in that history
(although we have all seen many a Scriptural personage so transmuted
under far less colourable pretenses or advantages), still it is evident
that the mediæval schoolmen _did_ practically treat Socrates as
something of that sort--as a mythical, symbolic, or representative man.
Socrates is the eternal burthen of their quillets, quodlibets, problems,
syllogisms; for them he is the Ulysses of the Odyssey, that
much-suffering man; or, to speak more adequately, for _them_ he is the
John Doe and the Richard Roe of English law, whose feuds have tormented
the earth and incensed the heavens through a cycle of uncounted
centuries, and must have given a bad character of our planet on its
English side. To such an extent was this pushed, that many of the
scholastic writers became wearied of enunciating or writing his name,
and, anticipating the occasional fashion of _My lud_ and _Your ludship_
at our English Bar, or of _Hocus Pocus_ as an abbreviation of pure
weariness for _Hoc est Corpus_, they called him not _Socrates_, but
_Sortes_. Now, whence, let me ask, was this custom derived? As to Doe
and Roe, who or what first set them by the ears together is now probably
past all discovery. But as to _Sortes_, that he was a mere contraction
for _Socrates_ is proved in the same way that _Mob_ is shown to have
been a brief way of writing _Mobile vulgus_, viz., that by Bishop
Stillingfleet in particular the two forms, _Mob_ and _Mobile vulgus_ are
used interchangeably and indifferently through several pages
consecutively--just as _Canter_ and _Canterbury gallop_, of which the
one was at first the mere shorthand expression of the other, were at one
period interchanged, and for the same reason. The abbreviated form wore
the air of plebeian slang at its first introduction, but its convenience
favoured it: soon it became reconciled to the ear, then it ceased to be
slang, and finally the original form, ceasing to have any apparent
advantage of propriety or elegance, dropped into total disuse. _Sortes_,
it is a clear case, inherited from Socrates his distressing post of
target-general for the arrows of disputatious Christendom. But how came
Socrates by that distinction? I cannot have a doubt that it was strength
of tradition that imputed such a use of the Socratic name and character
to Plato. The reader must remember that, although Socrates was no
_mythus_, and least of all could be such, to his own leading disciple,
that was no reason why he should not be treated as a _mythus_. In Wales,
some nine or ten years ago, _Rebecca_, as the mysterious and masqued
redresser of public wrongs, was rapidly passing into a _mythical_
expression for that universal character of Rhadamanthian avenger or
vindicator. So of Captain Rock, in Ireland. So of Elias amongst the Jews
(_when Elias shall come_), as the sublime, mysterious, and in some
degree pathetic expression for a great teacher lurking amongst the
dreadful mists.


You read in the Hebrew Scriptures of a man who had thirty sons, all of
whom 'rode on white asses'; the riding on white asses is a circumstance
that expresses their high rank or distinction--that all were princes. In
Syria, as in Greece and almost everywhere, white was the regal symbolic
colour.[7] And any mode of equitation, from the far inferior wealth of
ancient times, implied wealth. Mules or asses, besides that they were so
far superior a race in Syria no less than in Persia, to furnish a
favourite designation for a warlike hero, could much more conveniently
be used on the wretched roads, as yet found everywhere, until the Romans
began to treat road-making as a regular business of military pioneering.
In this case, therefore, there were thirty sons of one man, and all
provided with princely establishments. Consequently, to have thirty sons
at all was somewhat surprising, and possible only in a land of polygamy;
but to keep none back in obscurity (as was done in cases where the funds
of the family would not allow of giving to each his separate
establishment) argued a condition of unusual opulence. That it was
surprising is very true. But as therefore involving any argument against
its truth, the writer would justly deny by pleading--for that very
reason, _because_ it was surprising, did I tell the story. In a train of
1,500 years naturally there must happen many wonderful things, both as
to events and persons. Were these crowded together in time or locally,
these indeed we should incredulously reject. But when we understand the
vast remoteness from each other in time or in place, we freely admit the
tendency lies the other way; the wonder would be if there were _not_
many coincidences that each for itself separately might be looked upon
as strange. And as the surgeon had set himself to collect certain cases
for the very reason that they were so unaccountably fatal, with a
purpose therefore of including all that did _not_ terminate fatally, so
we should remember that generally historians (although less so if a
Jewish historian, because he had a far nobler chain of wonders to
record) do not feel themselves open to the objection of romancing if
they report something out of the ordinary track, since exactly that sort
of matter is their object, and it cannot but be found in a considerable
proportion when their course travels over a vast range of successive
generations. It would be a marvellous thing indeed if every one of five
hundred men whom an author had chosen to record biographically should
have for his baptismal name--Francis. But if you found that this was the
very reason for his admitting the man into his series, that, however
strange a reason, it had in fact governed him in selecting his subjects,
you would no longer see anything to startle your belief.

But let me give an interesting case partly illustrating this principle.
Once I was present on an occasion where, of two young men, one very
young and very clever was suggesting infidel scruples, and the other, so
much older as to be entering on a professional career with considerable
distinction, was on the very point of drinking-in all that his companion
urged as so much weighty objection that could not be answered. The
younger man (in fact, a boy) had just used a passage from the Bible, in
which one of the circumstances was--that the Jewish army consisted of
120,000 men. 'Now,' said he, 'knowing as we all do the enormity of such
a force as a peace establishment, even for mighty empires like England,
how perfectly like a fairy-tale or an Arabian Nights' entertainment does
it sound to hear of such monstrous armaments in a little country like
Judæa, equal, perhaps, to the twelve counties of Wales!' This was
addressed to myself, and I could see by the whole expression of the
young physician that his condition was exactly this--his studies had
been purely professional; he made himself a king, because (having
happened to hurt his leg) he wore white _fasciæ_ about his thigh. He
knew little or nothing of Scriptural records; he had not read at all
upon this subject; quite as little had he thought, and, unfortunately,
his conversation had lain amongst clever chemists and naturalists, who
had a prejudgment in the case that all the ability and free power of
mind ran into the channel of scepticism; that only people situated as
most women are should acquiesce in the faith or politics of their
fathers or predecessors, or could believe much of the Scriptures, except
those who were slow to examine for themselves; but that multitudes
pretended to believe upon some interested motive. This was precisely
the situation of the young physician himself--he listened with manifest
interest, checked himself when going to speak; he knew the danger of
being reputed an infidel, and he had no temper for martyrdom, as his
whole gesture and manner, by its tendency, showed what was passing in
his mind. 'Yes, X is right, manifestly right, and every rational view
from our modern standard of good sense and reflective political economy
tends to the same conclusion. By the reflex light of political economy
we know even at this hour much as to the condition of ancient lands like
Palestine, Athens, etc., quite unrevealed to the wisest men amongst
them. But for me, who am entering on a critical walk of social life, I
shall need every aid from advantageous impression in favour of my
religious belief, so I cannot in prudence speak, for I shall speak too
warmly, and I forbear.'

What I replied, and in that instance usefully replied--for it sufficed
to check one who was gravitating downwards to infidelity, and likely to
settle there for ever if he once reached that point--was in substance

Firstly, that the plea, with regard to the numbers as most
extraordinary, was so far from affecting the credibility of the
statement disadvantageously, that on that ground, agreeably to the logic
I have so scantily expounded, this very feature in the case was what
partly engaged the notice of the Scriptural writer. It _was_ a great
army for so little a nation. And _therefore_, would the writer say,
_therefore_ in print I record it.

Secondly, that we must not, however, be misled by the narrow limits, the
Welsh limits, to suppose a Welsh population. For that whilst the twelve
counties of Wales do not _now_ yield above half-a-million of people,
Palestine had pretty certainly a number fluctuating between four and six

Thirdly, that the great consideration of this was the stage in the
expansion of society at which the Hebrew nation then stood, and the
sublime interest--sublime enough to them, though far from comprehending
the solemn freight of hopes confided to themselves--which they
consciously defended. It was an age in which no pay was given to the
soldier. Now, when the soldier constitutes a separate profession, with
the regular pay he undertakes the regular danger and hardships. There is
no motive for giving the pay and the rations but precisely that he
_does_ so undertake. But when no pay at all is allowed out of any common
fund, it will never be endured by the justice of the whole society or by
an individual member that he, the individual, as one insulated
stake-holder, having no greater interest embarked than others, should
undertake the danger or the labour of warfare for the whole. And two
inferences arise upon having armies so immense:

First, that they were a militia, or more properly not even that, but a
Landwehr--that is, a _posse comitatus_, the whole martial strength of
the people (one in four), drawn out and slightly trained to meet a
danger, which in those times was always a passing cloud. Regular and
successive campaigns were unknown; the enemy, whoever he might be, could
as little support a regular army as the people of Palestine.
Consequently, all these enemies would have to disperse hastily to their
reaping and mowing, just as we may observe the Jews do under Joshua. It
required, therefore, no long absence from home. It was but a march, but
a waiting for opportunity, watching for a favourable day--sunshine or
cloud, the rising or subsiding of a river, the wind in the enemy's face,
or an ambush skilfully posted. All was then ready; the signal was given,
a great battle ensued, and by sunset of one anxious day all was over in
one way or another. Upon this position of circumstances there was
neither any fair dispensation from personal service (except where
citizens' scruples interfered), nor any motive for wishing it. On the
contrary, by a very few days' service, a stigma, not for the individual
only, but for his house and kin, would be evaded for ages of having
treacherously forsaken the commonwealth in agony. And the preference for
a fighting station would be too eager instead of too backward. It would
become often requisite to do what it is evident the Jews in reality
did--to make successive sifting and winnowing from the service troops,
at every stage throwing out upon severer principles of examination those
who seemed least able to face a trying crisis, whilst honourable posts
of no great dependency would be assigned to those rejected, as modes of
soothing their offended pride. This in the case of a great danger; but
in the case of an ordinary danger there is no doubt that many vicarious
arrangements would exist by way of evading so injurious a movement as
that of the whole fighting population. Either the ordinary watch and
ward, in that section which happened to be locally threatened--as, for
instance, by invasion on one side from Edom or Moab, on another side
from the Canaanites or Philistines--would undertake the case as one
which had fallen to them by allotment of Providence; or that section
whose service happened to be due for the month, without local regards,
would face the exigency. But in any great national danger, under that
stage of society which the Jews had reached between Moses and
David--that stage when fighting is no separate professional duty, that
stage when such things are announced by there being no military pay--not
the army which is so large as 120,000 men, but the army which is so
small, requires to be explained.[8]

Secondly, the other inference from the phenomenon of no military pay,
and therefore no separate fighting profession, is this--that foreign
war, war of aggression, war for booty, war for martial glory, is quite
unknown. Now, all rules of political economy, applied to the maintenance
of armies, must of course contemplate a regular trade of war pursued
with those objects, and not a domestic war for beating off an attack
upon hearths and altars. Such a war only, be it observed, could be
lawfully entertained by the Jewish people. Mahomet, when he stole all
his great ideas from the Mosaic and Christian revelations, found it
inevitable to add one principle unknown to either: this was a religious
motive for perpetual war of aggression, and such a principle he
discovered in the imaginary duty of summary proselytism. No instruction
was required. It was sufficient for the convert that, with or without
sincerity, under terror of a sword at his throat, he spoke the words
aloud which disowned all other faith than in Allah and Mahomet his
prophet. It was sufficient for the soldier that he heard of a nation
denying or ignoring Mahomet, to justify any atrocity of invasive
warfare. But the Jews had no such commission--a proselyte needed more
evidences of assent than simply to bawl out a short formula of words,
and he who refused to become a proselyte was no object of persecution.
Some nations have forced their languages upon others as badges of
servitude. But the Romans were so far from treating _their_ language in
this way, that they compelled barbarous nations on their frontier to pay
for a license to use the Latin tongue. And with much more reason did the
Jews, instead of wishing to obtrude their sublime religion upon
foreigners, expect that all who valued it should manifest their value by
coming to Jerusalem, by seeking instruction from the doctors of the law,
and by worshipping in the outer court of the Temple.

Such was the prodigious state of separation from a Mahometan principle
of fanatical proselytism in which the Jews were placed from the very
first. One small district only was to be cleared of its ancient
idolatrous, and probably desperately demoralized, tribes. Even this
purification it was not intended should be instant; and upon the
following reason, partly unveiled by God and partly left to an
integration, viz., that in the case of so sudden a desolation the wild
beasts and noxious serpents would have encroached too much on the human
population. So much is expressed, and probably the sequel foreseen was,
that the Jews would have lapsed into a wild hunting race, and have
outworn that ceremonial propensity which fitted them for a civil life,
which formed them into a hive in which the great work of God in Shiloh,
His probationary Temple or His glorious Temple and service at Jerusalem,
operated as the mysterious instinct of a queen bee, to compress and
organize the whole society into a cohesion like this of life. Here,
perhaps, lay the reason for not allowing of any sudden summary
extirpation, even for the idolatrous tribes; whilst, upon a second
principle, it was never meant that this extirpation should be complete.
Snares and temptations were not to be too thickly sown--in that case the
restless Jew would be too severely tried; but neither were they to be
utterly withdrawn--in that case his faith would undergo no probation.
Even upon this small domestic scale, therefore, it appears that
aggressive warfare was limited both for interest and for time. First, it
was not to be too complete; second, even for this incompleteness it was
not to be concentrated within a short time. It was both to be narrow and
to be gradual. By very necessity, therefore, of its original appointment
this part of the national economy, this small system of aggressive
warfare, could not provide a reason for a military profession. But all
other wars of aggression, wars operating upon foreign objects, had no
allowance, no motive, no colourable plea; for the attacks upon Edom,
Midian, Moab, were mere acts of retaliation, and, strictly speaking, not
aggressive at all, but parts of defensive warfare. Consequently there
remained no permanent case of war under Divine allowance that could ever
justify the establishment of a military caste; for the civil wars of the
Jews either grew out of some one intolerable crime taken up, adopted,
and wickedly defended by a whole tribe (as in the case of that horrible
atrocity committed by a few Benjamites, and then adopted by the whole
tribe), in which case a bloody exterminating war under God's sanction
succeeded and rapidly drew to a close, or else grew out of the ruinous
schism between the ten tribes and the two seated in or about Jerusalem.
And as this schism had no countenance from God, still less could the
wars which followed it. So that what belligerent state remains that
could have been contemplated or provided for in the original Mosaic
theory of their constitution? Clearly none at all, except the one sole
case of a foreign invasion. But as this, if in any national strength,
struck at the very existence of the people, and at their holy citadel in
Shiloh or in Jerusalem, it called out the whole military strength to the
last man of the Hebrew people. Consequently in any case, when the armies
could tend at all to great numerical amount, they must tend to an
excessive amount. And, so far from being a difficult problem to solve in
the 120,000 men, the true difficulty would lie the other way, to account
for its being so much reduced.

It seems to me highly probable that the offence of David in numbering
the people, which ultimately was the occasion of fixing the site for the
Temple of Jerusalem, pointed to this remarkable military position of the
Jewish people--a position forbidding all fixed military institutions,
and which yet David was probably contemplating in that very _census_.
Simply to number the people could not have been a crime, nor could it be
any desideratum for David; because we are too often told of the muster
rolls for the whole nation, and for each particular tribe, to feel any
room for doubt that the reports on this point were constantly corrected,
brought under review of the governing elders, councils, judges, princes,
or king, according to the historical circumstances, so that the need and
the criminality of such a _census_ would vanish at the same moment. But
this was not the _census_ ordered by David. He wanted a more specific
return, probably of the particular wealth and nature of the employment
pursued by each individual family, so that upon this return he might
ground a permanent military organization for the people; and such an
organization would have thoroughly revolutionized the character of the
population, as well as drawn them into foreign wars and alliances.

It is painful to think that many amiable and really candid minds in
search of truth are laid hold of by some plausible argument, as in this
case the young physician, by a topic of political economy, when a local
examination of the argument would altogether change its bearing. This
argument, popularly enforced, seemed to imply the impossibility of
supporting a large force when there were no public funds but such as ran
towards the support of the Levites and the majestic service of the
altar. But the confusion arises from the double sense of the word
'army,' as a machine ordinarily disposable for all foreign objects
indifferently, and one which in Judæa exclusively could be applied only
to such a service as must in its own nature be sudden, brief, and always
tending to a decisive catastrophe.

And that this was the true form of the crime, not only circumstances
lead me to suspect, but especially the remarkable demur of Joab, who in
his respectful remonstrance said in effect that, when the whole strength
of the nation was known in sum--meaning from the ordinary state
returns--what need was there to search more inquisitively into the
special details? Where all were ready to fight cheerfully, why seek for
separate _minutiæ_ as to each particular class? Those general returns
had regard only to the ordinary _causa belli_--a hostile invasion. And,
then, all nations alike, rude or refined, have gone upon the same
general outline of computation--that, subtracting the females from the
males, this, in a gross general way, would always bisect the total
return of the population. And, then, to make a second bisection of the
male half would subtract one quarter from the entire people as too young
or too old, or otherwise as too infirm for warlike labours, leaving
precisely one quarter of the nation--every fourth head--as available for
war. This process for David's case would have yielded perhaps about
1,100,000 fighting men throughout Palestine. But this unwieldy
_pospolite_ was far from meeting David's secret anxieties. He had
remarked the fickle and insurrectionary state of the people. Even
against himself how easy had it been found to organize a sudden
rebellion, and to conceal it so prosperously that he and his whole court
saved themselves from capture only by a few hours' start of the enemy,
and through the enemy's want of cavalry. This danger meantime having
vanished, it might be possible that for David personally no other great
conspiracy should disturb his seat upon the throne. None of David's sons
approached to Absalom in popularity; and yet the subsequent attempt of
Adonijah showed that the revolutionary temper was still awake in that
quarter. But what David feared, in a further-looking spirit, was the
tenure by which his immediate descendants would maintain their title.
The danger was this: over and above the want of any principle for
regulating the succession, and this want operating in a state of things
far less determined than amongst monogamous nations--one son pleading
his priority of birth; another, perhaps, his mother's higher rank, a
third pleading his very juniority, inasmuch as this brought him within
the description of _porphyrogeniture_, or royal birth, which is often
felt as transcendent as _primogeniture_--even the people, apart from the
several pretenders to the throne, would create separate interests as
grounds for insurrection or for intestine feuds. There seems good reason
to think that already the ten tribes, Israel as opposed to Judah, looked
upon the more favoured and royal tribe of Judah, with their
supplementary section of Benjamin, as unduly favoured in the national
economy. Secretly there is little doubt that they murmured even against
God for ranking this powerful tribe as the prerogative tribe. The
jealousy had evidently risen to a great height; it was suppressed by the
vigilant and strong government of Solomon; but at the outset of his
son's reign it exploded at once, and the Scriptural account of the case
shows that it proceeded upon old grievances. The boyish rashness of
Rehoboam might exasperate the leaders, and precipitate the issue; but
very clearly all had been prepared for a revolt. And I would remark that
by the 'young men' of Rehoboam are undoubtedly meant the soldiers--the
body-guards whom the Jewish kings now retained as an element of royal
pomp. This is the invariable use of the term in the East. Even in
Josephus the term for the military by profession is generally 'the young
men'; whilst 'the elders' mean the councilors of state. David saw
enough of the popular spirit to be satisfied that there was no political
reliance on the permanence of the dynasty; and even at home there was an
internal source of weakness. The tribe of Benjamin were mortified and
incensed at the deposition of Saul's family and the bloody proscription
of that family adopted by David. One only, a grandson of Saul, he had
spared out of love to his friend Jonathan. This was Mephibo-sheth; but
he was incapacitated for the throne by lameness. And how deep the
resentment was amongst the Benjamites is evident from the insulting
advantage taken of his despondency in the day of distress by Shimei. For
Shimei had no motive for the act of coming to the roadside and cursing
the king beyond his attachment to the house of Saul. Humanly speaking,
David's prospect of propagating his own dynasty was but small. On the
other hand, God had promised him _His_ support. And hence it was that
his crime arose, viz., upon his infidelity, in seeking to secure the
throne by a mere human arrangement in the first place; secondly, by such
an arrangement as must disorganize the existing theocratic system of the
Jewish people. Upon this crime followed his chastisement in a sudden
pestilence. And it is remarkable in how significant a manner God
manifested the nature of the trespass, and the particular course through
which He had meant originally, and _did_ still mean, to counteract the
worst issue of David's apprehensions. It happened that the angel of the
pestilence halted at the threshing-floor of Araunah; and precisely that
spot did God by dreams to David indicate as the site of the glorious
Temple. Thus it seemed as though in so many words God had declared: 'Now
that all is over, your crime and its punishment, understand that your
fears were vain. I will continue the throne in your house longer than
your anxieties can personally pursue its descent. And with regard to the
terrors from Israel, although this event of a great schism is inevitable
and essential to My councils, yet I will not allow it to operate for the
extinction of your house. And that very Temple, in that very place where
My angel was commissioned to pause, shall be one great means and one
great pledge to you of My decree in favour of your posterity. For this
house, as a common sanctuary to all Jewish blood, shall create a
perpetual interest in behalf of Judah amongst the other tribes, even
when making war upon Jerusalem.' Witness if it were but that one case
where 200,000 captives of Judah were restored without ransom, were
clothed completely, were fed, by the very men who had just massacred
their fighting relatives.


[7] Even in Rome, where the purple (whatever colour that might have
been) is usually imagined to be the symbol of regal state--and
afterwards their improved arts of dyeing, and improved materials, became
so splendid that it was made so--white had always been the colour of a
monarchy. ['A white linen band was the simple badge of Oriental royalty'
(Merivale's 'History of Rome,' ii., p. 468).--ED.]

[8] This was the case even with the Homeric Greeks. Mr. Gladstone makes
a point of this (see 'Juventus Mundi,' p. 429): 'The privates of the
army are called by the names of _laos_, the people; _demos_, the
community; and _pleth[=u]s_, the multitude. But no notice is taken
throughout the poem of the exploits of any soldier below the rank of an
officer. Still, all attend the Assemblies. On the whole, the Greek host
is not so much an army, as a community in arms.' Even the common people,
not only in cities but in camps, assembled to hear the deliberations of
the chiefs.--ED.


The argument for the separation and distinct current of the Jews,
flowing as they pretend of the river Rhone through the Lake of
Geneva--never mixing its waters with those which surround it--has been
by some infidel writers defeated and evaded by one word; and here, as
everywhere else, an unwise teacher will seek to hide the answer. Yet how
infinitely better to state it fully, and then show that the evasion has
no form at all; but, on the contrary, powerfully argues the
inconsistency and incapacity of those who urge it. For instance, I
remember Boulanger, a French infidel, whose work was duly translated by
a Scotchman, answers it thus: What is there miraculous in all this? he
demands. Listen to me, and I will show you in two minutes that it rests
upon mere show and pure delusion. How is it, why is it, that the Jews
have remained a separate people? Simply from their usages, in the first
place; but, secondly, still more from the fact that these usages, which
with other peoples exist also in some representative shape, with _them_
modify themselves, shift, alter, adapt themselves to the climate or to
the humour or accidents of life amongst those amidst whom chance has
thrown them; whereas amongst the Jews every custom, the most trivial, is
also part of their legislation; and their legislation is also their
religion. (Boulanger, by the way, is far from expressing that objection
so clearly as I have here done; but this is his drift and purpose, so
far as he knew how to express it.) Take any other people--Isaurians,
Athenians, Romans, Corinthians--doubtless all these and many others have
transmitted their blood down to our ages, and are now living amongst us
by representation. But why do we not perceive this? Why do the Athenians
seem to have perished utterly? Simply for this reason: they were a
plastic, yielding, unobstinate race. An Athenian lived in a port of
Italy, married an Italian woman; thence threw out lines of descent to
Milan, thence to Paris; and because his Attic usages were all local,
epichorial, and tied to a particular mythology which has given way, or
to a superstition which is defunct, or to a patriotic remembrance which
has vanished with the land and the sympathy that supported it; hence,
and upon other similar arguments, the Athenian has long since melted
into the mass with which he was intermixed; he was a unit attached to a
vast overpowering number from another source, and into that number he
has long since been absorbed; he was a drop in a vast ocean, and long
ago he has been confounded with the waters that did not differ, except
numerically, from his own. But the Jews are an obstinate, bigoted
people; and they have maintained their separation, not by any overruling
or coercing miracle, but in a way perfectly obvious and palpable to
themselves--obvious by its operation, obvious in its remedy. They would
not resign their customs. Upon these ordinances, positive and negative,
commanding and forbidding many peculiar rites, consecrating and
desecrating many common esculent articles, these Jews have laid the
stress and emphasis of religion. They would not resign them; they did
not expect others to adopt them--not in any case; _à fortiori_ not from
a degraded people. And hence, not by any mysterious operation of
Providential control, arose their separation, their resolute refusal to
blend with other races.

This is the infidel's attempt to rebut, to defeat, utterly to confound,
the argumentative force of this most astonishing amongst all historical
pictures that the planet presents.

The following is the answer:

It is forgotten that along with the Jews there is another people
concerned as illustrations of the same prophetic fatality--of that same
inevitable eye, that same perspective of vision, which belonged to those
whose eyes God had opened. The Arabs, as children of a common ancestor,
ought not to be forgotten in this sentence upon their brother nation.
They through Ishmael, the Jews through Isaac, and more immediately
through Israel the son of Isaac, were two diverging branches of one
original stem; and to both was pronounced a corresponding doom--a
sentence which argued in both a principle of duration and
self-propagation, that is memorable in any race. The children of Ishmael
are the Arabs of the desert. Their destiny as a roving robber nation,
and liable to all men's hands, as they indifferently levied spoil on
all, was early pronounced. And here, again, we see at once how it will
be evaded: it is the desert, it is the climate, it is the solemnity of
that unchanging basis, which will secure the unchanging life of its
children. But it is remarkable enough that Gibbon and other infidels,
kicking violently against this standing miracle (because, if not so in
itself, yet, according to Bishop Butler's just explanation concerning
miraculous _per de_-_rivationem_ as recording a miraculous power of
vision), have by oscillation clung to the fixture of basis, and rejected
it; for now Gibbon denies that the Arabs have held this constant tenor
of life; they have changed it, he asserts, in large and notorious cases.
Well, then, if they have, then at once falls to the ground this alleged
overruling coercion _a priori_ of the climate and the desert. Climate
and desert do not necessarily coerce them, if in large and notorious
cases they have failed to do so. So feels Gibbon; and, by an instinct of
timidity, back he flies to the previous evasion--to the natural
controlling power of climate and soil, admitting the Scriptural fact,
but seeking for it an unscriptural ground, as before he had flown in
over-precipitate anxiety to the denial of the Scriptural fact, but in
that denial involving a withdrawal of the unscriptural ground.

The sceptics in that instance show their secret sense of a preference
from the distracted eagerness with which they fly backwards and
forwardwise between two reciprocally hostile evasions.

The answer I reserve, and meantime I remark:

Secondly, that, supposing this answer to have any force, still it meets
only one moiety of the Scriptural fatality; viz., the dispersion of the
Jews--the fact that, let them be gathered in what numbers they might,
let them even be concentrated by millions, therefore in the literal
sense _not_ dispersed, yet in the political sense universally
understood, they would be dispersed, because never, in no instance,
rising to be a people, _sui juris_, a nation, a distinct community,
known to the public law of Europe as having the rights of peace and war,
but always a mere accident and vagrant excess amongst nations, not
having the bare rights of citizenship; so far from being a nation, not
being an acknowledged member of any nation. This exquisite
dispersion--not ethnographic only, but political--is that half of the
Scriptural malediction which the Boulanger answer attempts to meet; but
the other half--that they should be 'a byword, an astonishment,'
etc.--is entirely blinked. Had the work even prospered, it would still
have to recommence. The Armenians are dispersed through all Eastern
lands, so are the Arabs; even the descendants of Ali are found severed
from their natal soil; but they are not therefore dispersed: they have
endured no general indignities.

Thirdly, it does not meet the fact of the Jewish _existence_ in any
shape, whether as a distinct or an amalgamated people. There is no doubt
that many races of men, as of brute animals, have been utterly
extinguished. In cases such as those of the Emim, or Rethinim, a race
distinguished by peculiar size, so as to be monstrous in comparison with
other men, this extinction could more readily be realized; or in the
case of a nation marked, as Herodotus records, by a slighter texture of
scale, the extinction might be ascertained by the physiologist; but no
doubt it has often occurred, precisely as a family is extinguished, or
as certain trees (for example, the true golden pippin) are observed to
die off, not by local influences only, but by a decay attacking the very
principle of their existence. Of many ancient races it is probable
enough that no blood directly traced from them could at this day be
searched by the eye of God. Families arise amongst the royal lineage of
Europe that suddenly, like a lamp fitfully glowing up just the moment
before it expires, throw off, as by some final effort, a numerous
generation of princes and princesses; then suddenly all contract as
rapidly into a single child, which perishing, the family is absolutely
extinct. And so must many nations have perished, and so must the Jews
have been pre-eminently exposed to perish, from the peculiar, fierce,
and almost immortal, persecutions which they have undergone, and the
horrid frenzies of excited mobs in cruel cities of which they have stood
the brunt.


It is true that Pilate could not be expected fully to comprehend an idea
which was yet new to man; Christ's words were beyond his depth. But,
still, his natural light would guide him thus far--that, although he had
never heard of any truth which rose to that distinction, still, if any
one class of truth should in future come to eclipse all other classes of
truth immeasurably, as regarded its practical results, as regarded some
dark dependency of human interests, in that case it would certainly
merit the distinctive name of 'The Truth.' The case in which such a
distinction would become reasonable and available was one utterly
unrealized to his experience, not even within the light of his
conjectures as to its special conditions; but, still, as a general
possibility it was conceivable to his understanding; though not
comprehensible, yet apprehensible. And in going on to the next great
question, to the inevitable question, 'What _is_ the truth?' Pilate had
no thought of jesting. Jesting was the last thing of which his
impassioned mood in that great hour was capable. Roman magistrates of
supreme rank were little disposed to jesting on the judgment-seat
amongst a refractory and dangerous people; and of Pilate in particular,
every word, every effort, every act, demonstrate that he was agitated
with new instincts and misgivings of some shadowy revelation opening
upon man, that his heart was convulsed with desponding anxiety in the
first place to save the man who appeared the depositary of this
revelation, but who, if, after all, only a sublime lunatic, was, at the
very least, innocent of all offence. It must have struck all close
observers of early Christianity how large a proportion of the new
converts lay amongst Roman officers, or (to speak more adequately)
amongst Romans of high rank, both men and women. And for that there was
high reason. In the advance of civilization, and in the corresponding
decay of idolatrous religions, there was fast arising a new growth of
cravings amongst men. Mythological and desperately immoral religions,
that spoke only to the blind sense of power, had been giving way through
the three previous centuries to a fearful extent. They had receded from
the higher natures of both Greece and Rome as the sea has locally
receded from many shores of the earth. Such natures were left 'miserably
bare'; the sense of dependency by any tie upon the invisible world, or
at least upon the supernatural world, had decayed, and unless this
painful void were filled up by some supplementary bond in the same
direction, a condition of practical atheism must take place, such as
could not but starve and impoverish in human nature those yearnings
after the infinite which are the pledges of all internal grandeur. But
this dependency could not be replaced by one of the same vicious nature.
Into any new dependency a new element must be introduced. The sense of
insufficiency would be renewed in triple strength if merely the old
relations of weakness to power, of art to greater art, of intellect to
higher intellect, of less to more within the same exact limits as to
kind of excellence, should be rehearsed under new names or improved
theogonies. Hitherto, no relation of man to divine or demoniac powers
had included the least particle or fraction or hint of any moral
element; nor was such an element possible in that dependency, for
profound reasons.


Before any canon was settled, many works had become current in Christian
circles whose origin was dubious. The traditions about them varied
locally. Some, it is alleged, that would really have been entitled to a
canonical place, had been lost by accident; to some, which still
survived, this place had been refused upon grounds that might not have
satisfied _us_ of this day, if we had the books and the grounds of
rejection before us; and, finally, others, it is urged, have obtained
this sacred distinction with no right to it. In particular, the Second
Epistle of St. Peter, the Second of St. Jude, the Epistle of St. James,
and the three of St. John, are denounced as supposititious in the
'Scaligerana.' But the writer before us is wrong in laying any stress on
the opinions there expressed. They bear the marks of conversational
haste and of Scaligeran audacity. What is the objection made, for
instance, to 'in quibus sunt mira, quæ non _videntur_ esse Apostolica'?
_That_ is itself more strange as a criticism than anything in the
epistles _can_ be for its doctrine. The only thing tending to a reason
for the summary treatment is that the Eastern Church does not
acknowledge them for canonical. But opinions quoted from _ana_ are
seldom of any authority; indeed, I have myself too frequently seen the
unfaithfulness of such reports. The reporter, as he cannot decently be
taking notes at the time of speaking, endeavours afterwards to recall
the most interesting passages by memory. He forgets the context; what
introduced--what followed to explain or modify the opinions. He supplies
a conjectural context of his own, and the result is a romance. But if
the reporter were even accurate, so much allowance must be made for the
license of conversation--its ardour, its hurry, and its frequent
playfulness--that when all these deductions are made, really not a
fraction remains that one can honestly carry to account. Besides, the
elder Scaliger was drunk pretty often, and Joe seems rather 'fresh' at

Upon consideration, it may be as well to repeat what it is that Scaliger
is reported to have said:

'The Epistle of Jude is not _his_, as neither is that of James, nor the
_second_ of Peter, in all which are strange things that seem (seem--mark
that!) far enough from being Apostolical. The three Epistles of John are
not from John the Apostle. The second of Peter and Jude belong to a
later age. The Eastern Church does not own them, neither are they of
evangelical authority. They are unlearned, and offer no marks of Gospel
majesty. As regards their internal value, believe them I may say that I
do, but it is because they are in no ways hostile to _us_.'

Now, observe, the grounds of objection are purely æsthetical, except in
the single argument from the authority of the Eastern Church. What does
he mean by 'unlearned,' or wanting 'majesty,' or containing 'strange
things'? Were ever such vague puerilities collected into one short
paragraph? This is pure impertinence, and _Phil_. deserves to be
privately reprimanded for quoting such windy chaff without noting and
protesting it as colloquial. But what I wish the reader to mark--the
[Greek: tho hepimhythion]--is, that suppose the two Scaligers amongst
the Christian Fathers engaged in fixing the canon: greater learning you
cannot have; neither was there, to a dead certainty, one tenth part as
much amongst the canon-settlers. Yet all this marvellous learning fumes
away in boyish impertinence. It confounds itself. And every Christian
says, Oh, take away this superfluous weight of erudition, that, being so
rare a thing, cannot be wanted in the broad highways of religion. What
we _do_ want is humility, docility, reverence for God, and love for man.
These are sown broadcast amongst human hearts. Now, these apply
themselves to the _sense_ of Scripture, not to its grammatical niceties.
But if so, even that case shows indirectly how little could depend upon
the mere verbal attire of the Bible, when the chief masters of verbal
science were so ready to go astray--riding on the billows so imperfectly
moored. In the _ideas_ of Scripture lies its eternal anchorage, not in
its perishable words, which are shifting for ever like quicksands, as
the Bible passes by translation successively into every spoken language
of the earth.

What then?--'What then?' retorts the angry reader after all this, 'why
then, perhaps, there may be a screw loose in the Bible.' True, there
may, and what is more, some very great scholars take upon them to assert
that there is. Yet, still, what then? The two possible errors open to
the Fathers of our canon, to the men upon whom rested the weighty task
of saying to all mankind what should be Bible, and what should be _not_
Bible, of making and limiting that mighty world, are--that they may
have done that which they ought _not_ to have done, and, secondly, left
undone that which they ought to have done. They may have admitted
writers whom they ought to have excluded; and they may have excluded
writers whom they ought to have admitted. This is the extent of their
possible offences, and they are supposed by some critics to have
committed both. But suppose that they _have_, still I say--what then?
What is the nature of the wrong done to us by the worst mistake ascribed
to them? Let us consider. It is supposed by some scholars that we have
in the New Testament as it now stands a work written by Apollos, viz.,
the Epistle to the Romans. Yet, if so, the error amounts only to a
misnomer. On the other hand, there are Epistles on which has been
charged the same error in relation to the name of the author, and the
more important error of thoughts unbecoming to a Christian in authority:
for instance, the Epistle of St. James. This charge was chiefly urged by
a very intemperate man, and in a very intemperate style. I notice it as
being a case which _Phil_. has noticed. But _Phil_. merits a gentle rap
on his knuckles for the inconsideration with which he has cited a charge
made and reported with so much levity. He quotes it from the
'Scaligerana.' Now, what right upon such a subject has any man to quote
such an authority? The reasons against listening with much attention to
the 'Scaligerana' are these:

First, the Scaligers, both father and son, were the two most impudent
men that ever walked the planet. I should be loath to say so ill-natured
a thing as that their impudence was equal to their learning, because
that forces every man to say, 'Ah, then, what impudent fellows they
must have been!' It is kinder and juster to say that their learning was
at least equal to their impudence, for _that_ will force every man to
exclaim, 'Ah, if so, what prodigies of learning they must have been!'
Yes, they were--absolute monsters of learning, learned monsters. But as
much learning often makes men mad, still more frequently it makes them
furious for assault and battery; to use the American phrase, they grow
'wolfy about the shoulders,' from a periodical itchiness for fighting.
Other men being shy of attacking the Scaligers, it was no fault of
theirs, you know, but a necessity, to attack other men--unless you
expected them to have no fighting at all. It was always a reason with
_them_ for trying a fall with a writer, if they doubted much whether
they had any excuse for hanging a quarrel on.

Secondly, all _ana_ whatever are bad authorities. Supposing the thing
really said, we are to remember the huge privilege of conversation, how
immeasurable is that! You yourself, reader, I presume, when talking,
will say more in an hour than you will stand to in a month. I'm sure _I_
do. When the reins are put into my hands I stick at nothing--headlong I
drive like a lunatic, until the very room in which we are talking, with
all that it inherits, seems to spin round with absolute vertigo at the
extravagances I utter.

Thirdly, but again, was the thing really said? For, as another censure
upon the whole library of _ana_, I can assert--that, if the license of
conversation is enormous, to that people who inhale that gas of
colloquial fermentation seldom mean much above one part in sixty of what
they say, on the other hand the license of reporters is far greater. To
forget the circumstances under which a thing was said is to alter the
thing, to have lost the context, the particular remark in which your
own originated, the mitigations of a harsh sentiment from playfulness of
manner; in short, to drop the _setting_ of the thoughts is oftentimes to
falsify the tendency and value of those thoughts.

     NOTE BY THE EDITOR.--The _Phil_. here referred to is the
     _Philoleutheros Anglicanus_ of the essay on 'Protestantism,' as
     shortened by De Quincey, and with whom De Quincey, in that essay,
     deals very effectively and wittily on occasion.



A new paper on Murder as a Fine Art might open thus: that on the model
of those Gentlemen Radicals who had voted a monument to Palmer, etc., it
was proposed to erect statues to such murderers as should by their
next-of-kin, or other person interested in their glory, make out a claim
either of superior atrocity, or, in equal atrocity, of superior
neatness, continuity of execution, perfect preparation or felicitous
originality, smoothness or _curiosa felicitas_ (elaborate felicity). The
men who murdered the cat, as we read in the Newgate Calendar, were good,
but Williams better who murdered the baby. And perhaps (but the hellish
felicity of the last act makes us demur) Fielding was superior. For you
never hear of a fire swallowing up a fire, or a rain stopping a deluge
(for this would be a reign of Kilkenny cats); but what fire, deluge, or
Kilkenny cats could not do, Fielding proposed, viz., to murder the
murderers, to become himself the Nemesis. Fielding was the murderer of
murderers in a double sense--rhetorical and literal. But that was, after
all, a small matter compared with the fine art of the man calling
himself Outis, on which for a moment we must dwell. Outis--so at all
events he was called, but doubtless he indulged in many aliases--at
Nottingham joined vehemently and sincerely, as it seemed, in pursuit of
a wretch taxed with having murdered, twelve years previously, a wife and
two children at Halifax, which wretch (when all the depositions were
before the magistrate) turned out to be the aforesaid Mr. Outis. That
suggests a wide field of speculation and reference.[9]

Note the power of murderers as fine-art professors to make a new start,
to turn the corner, to retreat upon the road they have come, as though
it were new to them, and to make diversions that disarm suspicion. This
they owe to fortunate obscurity, which attests anew the wonderful
compensations of life; for celebrity and power combine to produce

A foreigner who lands in Calcutta at an hour which nobody can name, and
endeavours to effect a sneaking entrance at the postern-gate[10] of the
governor-general's palace, _may_ be a decent man; but this we know, that
he has cut the towing-rope which bound his own boat to the great ark of
his country. It may be that, in leaving Paris or Naples, he was simply
cutting the connection with creditors who showed signs of _attachment_
not good for his health. But it may also be that he ran away by the
blaze of a burning inn, which he had fired in order to hide three
throats which he had cut, and nine purses which he had stolen. There is
no guarantee for such a man's character. Have we, then, no such
_vauriens_ at home? No, not in the classes standing favourably for
promotion. The privilege of safe criminality, not liable to exposure, is
limited to classes crowded together like leaves in Vallombrosa; for
_them_ to run away into some mighty city, Manchester or Glasgow, is to
commence life anew. They turn over a new leaf with a vengeance. Many are
the carpenters, bricklayers, bakers' apprentices, etc., who are now
living decently in Bristol, Newcastle, Hull, Liverpool, after marrying
sixteen wives, and leaving families to the care of twelve separate
parishes. That scamp is at this moment circulating and gyrating in
society, like a respectable _te-totum_, though we know not his exact
name, who, if he were pleased to reveal himself in seventeen parts of
this kingdom, where (to use the police language) he has been 'wanted'
for some years, would be hanged seventeen times running, besides putting
seventeen Government rewards into the pockets of seventeen policemen.
Oh, reader, you little know the unutterable romances perpetrated for
ever in our most populous empire, under cloud of night and distance and
utter poverty, Mark _that_--of utter poverty. Wealth is power; but it is
a jest in comparison of poverty. Splendour is power; but it is a joke to
obscurity. To be poor, to be obscure, to be a baker's apprentice or a
tailor's journeyman, throws a power about a man, clothes him with
attributes of ubiquity, _really_ with those privileges of concealment
which in the ring of Gyges were but fabulous. Is it a king, is it a
sultan, that such a man rivals? Oh, friend, he rivals a spiritual power.

Two men are on record, perhaps many more _might_ have been on that
record, who wrote so many books, and perpetrated so many pamphlets, that
at fifty they had forgotten much of their own literary villainies, and
at sixty they commenced with murderous ferocity a series of answers to
arguments which it was proved upon them afterwards that they themselves
had emitted at thirty--thus coming round with volleys of small shot on
their own heads, as the Whispering Gallery at St. Paul's begins to
retaliate any secrets you have committed to its keeping in echoing
thunders after a time, or as Sir John Mandeville under Arctic skies
heard in May all those curses thawing, and exploding like minute-guns,
which had been frozen up in November. Even like those self-replying
authors, even like those self-reverberators in St. Paul's, even like
those Arctic practitioners in cursing, who drew bills and _post obits_
in malediction, which were to be honoured after the death of winter,
many men are living at this moment in merry England who have figured in
so many characters, illustrated so many villages, run away from so many
towns, and performed the central part in so many careers, that were the
character, the village, the town, the career, brought back with all its
circumstances to their memories, positively they would fail to recognise
their own presence or incarnation in their own acts and bodies.

We have all read the story told by Addison of a sultan, who was
persuaded by a dervish to dip his head into a basin of enchanted water,
and thereupon found himself upon some other globe, a son in a poor
man's family, married after certain years the woman of his heart, had a
family of seven children whom he painfully brought up, went afterwards
through many persecutions, walked pensively by the seashore meditating
some escape from his miseries, bathed in the sea as a relief from the
noon-day heat, and on lifting up his head from the waves found himself
lifting up his head from the basin into which that cursed dervish had
persuaded him to dip. And when he would have cudgelled the holy man for
that long life of misery which had, through _his_ means, been inflicted
upon himself, behold! the holy man proved by affidavit that, in this
world, at any rate (where only he could be punishable), the life had
lasted but thirty-three seconds. Even so do the dark careers of many
amongst our obscure and migratory villains from years shrink up to
momentary specks, or, by their very multitude, altogether evanesce.
Burke and Hare, it is well known, had lost all count of their several
murders; they no more remembered, or could attempt to remember, their
separate victims, than a respectable old banker of seventy-three can
remember all the bills with their indorsements made payable for
half-a-century at his bank; or than Foote's turnpike-keeper, who had
kept all the toll-bar tickets to Kensington for forty-eight years,
pretended to recollect the features of all the men who had delivered
them at his gate. For a time, perhaps, Burke (who was a man of fine
sensibility) had a representative vision of spasms, and struggles, and
convulsions, terminating in a ten-pound note indorsed by Dr. ----. Hare,
on the other hand, was a man of principle, a man that you could depend
upon--order a corpse for Friday, and on Friday you had it--but he had
no feeling whatever. Yet see the unity of result for him and Burke. For
both alike all troublesome recollections gathered into one blue haze of
heavenly abstractions: orders executed with fidelity, cheques on the
bankers to be crossed and passed and cashed, are no more remembered.
That is the acme of perfection in our art.

       *       *       *       *       *

One great class of criminals I am aware of in past times as having
specially tormented myself--the class who have left secrets, riddles,
behind them. What business has any man to bequeath a conundrum to all
posterity, unless he leaves in some separate channel the solution? This
must have been done in malice, and for the purpose of annoying us, lest
we should have too much proper enjoyment of life when he should have
gone. For nobody knows whether the scoundrel could have solved it
himself--too like in that respect to some charades which, in my boyish
days (but then I had the excuse of youth, which they had not), I not
unfrequently propounded to young ladies. Take this as a specimen: My
first raises a little hope; my second very little indeed; and my whole
is a vast roar of despair. No young lady could ever solve it; neither
could I. We all had to give it up. A charade that only needs an answer,
which, perhaps, some distant generation may supply, is but a half and
half, tentative approach to this. Very much of this nature was the
genius or Daimon (don't say _De_mon) of Socrates. How many thousands of
learned writers and printers have gone to sleep over too profound
attempts to solve _that_, which Socrates ought to have been able to
solve at sight. I am myself of opinion that it was a dram-bottle, which
someone raised a ghost to explain. Then the Entelecheia of Aristotle;
did you ever read about that, excellent reader? Most people fancy it to
have meant some unutterable crotchet in metaphysics, some horrible idea
(lest the police should be after it) without a name; that is, until the
Stagyrite repaired the injustice of his conduct by giving it a pretty
long one. My opinion now, as you are anxious to know it, is, that it was
a lady, a sweetheart of Aristotle's; for what was to hinder Aristotle
having a sweetheart? I dare say Thomas Aquinas, dry and arid as he was,
raised his unprincipled eyes to some Neapolitan beauty, began a sonnet
to some lady's eyebrow, though he might forget to finish it. And my
belief is that this lady, ambitious as Semele, wished to be introduced
as an eternal jewel into the great vault of her lover's immortal
Philosophy, which was to travel much farther and agitate far longer than
his royal pupil's conquests. Upon that Aristotle, keeping her hand,
said: 'My love, I'll think of it.' And then it occurred to him, that in
the very heavens many lovely ladies, Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Ariadne,
etc., had been placed as constellations in that map which many
chronologists suppose to have been prepared for the use of the ship
_Argo_, a whole generation before the Trojan war. Berenice, though he
could not be aware of _that_, had interest even to procure a place in
that map for her ringlets; and of course for herself she might have.
Considering which, Aristotle said: 'Hang me! if I don't put her among
the ten Categories!' On after thoughts he put her higher, for an
Entelecheia is as much above a Category as our Padishah Victoria is
above a Turkish sultan. 'But now, Stag,' said the lady (privileged as a
sweetheart she called him _Stag_, though everybody else was obliged to
call him Stagyrite), 'how will they know it's meant for me, Stag?' Upon
which I am sorry to say the philosopher fell to cursing and swearing,
bestowing blessings on his own optics and on posterity's, meaning yours
and mine, saying: 'Let them find it out.' Well, now, you see I _have_
found it out. But that is more than I hope for my crypto-criminals, and
therefore I take this my only way of giving them celebration and
malediction in one breath.


[9] Notwithstanding what he had written in the essay on the 'Essenes,'
no doubt De Quincey, if he had completed this paper, could not have
escaped characteristic, and perhaps grimly humorous, references of his
own to the Sicarii, of whom Josephus has a good deal to tell in his
'Jewish War'; for it seems to us his thoughts were bearing directly that
way. Josephus says of the Sicarii: 'In these days there arose another
sort of robbers in Jerusalem, who were named Sicarii, who slew men in
the day-time and in the middle of the city, more especially at the
festivals. There they mixed with the multitude, and having concealed
little daggers under their garments, with these they stabbed those that
were their enemies; and when any fell down dead, the murderers joined
the bystanders in expressing their indignation; so that from their
plausibilities they could by no means be discovered. The first man that
was slain by them was Jonathan the high-priest, after which many were
slain every day.'--ED.

[10] 'Postern-gate.' See the legend of Sir Eustace the Crusader, and the
good Sir Hubert, who 'sounded the horn which he alone could sound,' as
told by Wordsworth.


All anecdotes, as I have often remarked in print, are lies. It is
painful to use harsh words, and, knowing by my own feelings how much the
reader is shocked by this rude word _lies_, I should really be much
gratified if it were possible to supplant it by some gentler or more
courteous word, such as _falsehoods_, or even _fibs_, which dilutes the
atrocity of untruth into something of an amiable weakness, wrong, but
still venial, and natural (and so far, therefore, reasonable). Anything
for peace: but really in this instance I cannot indulge the reader. The
instincts of morality will not allow of it, and still less the passion
which made Juvenal a poet,[11] viz., the passion of enormous and bloody
indignation. From the beginning of this century, with wrath continually
growing, I have laid it down as a rule, and if the last year of it,
viz., A. D. 1900, should overhear _my_ voice amongst the babblings that
will then be troubling the atmosphere--in that case it will hear me
still reaffirming, with an indignation still gathering strength, and
therefore approaching ever nearer and nearer to a Juvenalian power of
versification, so that perhaps I shall then speak in rhymed
couplets--that all anecdotes pretending to be _smart_, but to a dead
certainty if they pretend to be _epigrammatic_, are and must be lies.
There is, in fact, no security for the truth of an anecdote, no
guarantee whatever, except its intense stupidity. If a man is searched
at a police-office, on the ground that he was caught trying the
window-shutters of silversmiths; then, if it should happen that in his
pockets is found absolutely nothing at all except one solitary
paving-stone, in that case Charity, which believeth all things (in fact,
is credulous to an anile degree), will be disposed to lock up the
paving-stone, and restore it to the man on his liberation as if it were
really his own, though philosophy mutters indignantly, being all but
certain that the fellow stole it. And really I have been too candid a
great deal in admitting that a man may appropriate an anecdote, and
establish his claim to it by pleading its awful stupidity. That might be
the case, and I believe it _was_, when anecdotes were many and writers
were few. But things are changed now. Fifty years ago, if a man were
seen running away with the pace of a lunatic, and you should sing out,
'Stop that fellow; he is running off with the shin-bone of my
great-grandmother!' all the people in the street would have cried out in
reply, 'Oh, nonsense! What should he want with your great-grandmother's
shin-bone?' and that would have seemed reasonable. But now, to see how
things are altered, any man of sense would reply, 'What should he want
with my great-grandmother's shin-bone? Why, he'll grind it, and then
he'll mix it with guano.' This is what he and the like of him have
actually done by shiploads of people far more entitled to consideration
than any one of my four great-grandmothers (for I had _four_, with eight
shin-bones amongst them). It is well known that the field of Waterloo
was made to render up all its bones, British or French, to certain
bone-mills in agricultural districts. Borodino and Leipzig, the two
bloodiest of modern battlefields, are supposed between them--what by the
harvest of battle, what by the harvest of neighbouring hospitals--to be
seized or possessed of four hundred thousand shin-bones, and other
interesting specimens to match. Negotiations have been proceeding at
various times between the leading bone-mills in England and the Jews in
Dresden or in Moscow. Hitherto these negotiations have broken down,
because the Jews stood out for 37 per shent., calculated upon the costs
of exhumation. But of late they show a disposition to do business at 33
per shent.: the contract will therefore move forwards again; it will go
ahead; and the dust of the faithful armies, together with the dust of
their enemies, will very soon be found, not in the stopper of a bunghole
(as Prince Hamlet conceived too prematurely), but in an unprecedented
crop of Swedish turnips.

Bones change their value, it seems thus clearly; and anecdotes change
their value; and in that proportion honesty, as regards one or the
other, changes the value of its chances. But what has all this to do
with 'Old Nick'? Stop: let me consider. That title was placed at the
head of this article, and I admit that it was placed there by myself.
Else, whilst I was wandering from my text, and vainly endeavouring to
recollect what it was that I had meant by this text, a random thought
came over me (immoral, but natural), that I would charge the heading of
_Old Nick_ upon the compositor, asserting that he had placed it there in
obstinate defiance of all the orders to the contrary, and supplications
to the contrary, that I had addressed to him for a month; by which means
I should throw upon _him_ the responsibility of accounting for so
portentous an ensign.

       *       *       *       *       *

     EDITOR'S NOTE.--It is evident that De Quincey meditated a much
     longer essay on anecdotes as false, in which Niccolo Machiavelli
     would have come in for notice--hence the playful references in the


[11] '_The passion which made Juvenal a poet_.' The scholar needs no
explanation; but the reader whose scholarship is yet amongst his
futurities (which I conceive to be the civilest way of describing an
_ignoramus_) must understand that Juvenal, the Roman satirist, who was
in fact a predestined poet in virtue of his ebullient heart, that boiled
over once or twice a day in anger that could not be expressed upon
witnessing the enormities of domestic life in Rome, was willing to
forego all pretensions to natural power and inspiration for the sake of
obtaining such influence as would enable him to reprove Roman vices with




_Doctor_, I say, for I hear that the six Universities of England and
Scotland have sent you a doctor's degree, or, if they have not, all the
world knows they ought to have done; and the more shame for them if they
keep no 'Remembrancer' to put them in mind of what they must allow to be
amongst their most sacred duties. But that's all one. I once read in my
childhood a pretty book, called 'Wilson's Account of the Pelew Islands,'
at which islands, you know, H.M.S. _Antelope_ was wrecked--just about
the time, I fancy, when you, Doctor, and myself were in long petticoats
and making some noise in the world; the book was not written by Captain
Wilson, but by Keates, the sentimentalist. At the very end, however, is
an epitaph, and that _was_ written by the captain and ship's company:

    'Stop, reader, stop, let nature claim a tear;
     A prince of mine, Lee Boo, lies buried here.'

This epitaph used often to make me cry, and in commemoration of that
effect, which (like that of all cathartics that I know of, no matter how
drastic at first) has long been growing weaker and weaker, I propose
(upon your allowing me an opportunity) to superscribe you in any
churchyard you will appoint:

    'Stop, reader, stop, let genius claim a tear;
     A doct'r of mine, Lee Kit, lies buried here.'

'_Doct'r of_' you are to read into a dissyllable, and pretty much like
Boney's old friend on the road from Moscow, General Doct'roff, who
'doctor'd them off,' as the Laureate observes, and prescribed for the
whole French army _gratis_. But now to business.

For _your_ information, Doctor, it cannot be necessary, but on account
of very many readers it will be so, to say that Voss's 'Luise' has long
taken its place in the literature of Germany as a classical work--in
fact, as a gem or cabinet _chef d'oeuvre_; nay, almost as their unique
specimen in any national sense of the lighter and less pretending muse;
less pretending, I mean, as to the pomp or gravity of the subject, but
on that very account more pretending as respects the minuter graces of
its execution. In the comparative estimate of Germans, the 'Luise' holds
a station corresponding to that of our 'Rape of the Lock,' or of
Gresset's 'Vert-vert'--corresponding, that is, in its _degree_ of
relative value. As to its _kind_ of value, some notion may be formed of
it even in that respect also from the 'Rape of the Lock,' but with this
difference, that the scenes and situations and descriptions are there
derived from the daily life and habits of a fashionable belle and the
fine gentlemen who surround her, whereas in the 'Luise' they are derived
exclusively from the homelier and more patriarchal economy of a rural
clergyman's household; and in this respect the 'Luise' comes nearest by
much, in comparison of any other work that I know of, to our own 'Vicar
of Wakefield.' Like that delightful portrait of rural life in a
particular aspect, or idyll as it might be called, the 'Luise' aims at
throwing open for our amusement the interior of a village parsonage
(_Scotice_, 'manse'); like that in its earlier half (for the latter half
of the 'Vicar' is a sad collapse from the truth and nature of the
original conception into the marvellous of a commonplace novel), the
'Luise' exhibits the several members of a rustic clergyman's family
according to their differences of sex, age, and standing, in their
natural, undisguised features, all unconsciously marked by
characteristic foibles, all engaged in the exercise of their daily
habits, neither finer nor coarser than circumstances naturally allow,
and all indulging in such natural hopes or fictions of romance as grow
out of their situation in life. The 'Luise,' in short, and the 'Vicar of
Wakefield' are both alike a succession of circumstantial delineations
selected from mere rustic life, but rustic life in its most pure and
intellectual form; for as to the noble countess in the 'Luise,' or the
squire and his uncle, Sir William, in the 'Vicar of Wakefield,' they do
not interfere sufficiently to disturb the essential level of the
movement as regards the incidents, or to colour the manners and the
scenery. Agreeing, however, in this general purpose, the two works
differ in two considerable features; one, that the 'Vicar of Wakefield'
describes the rural clergyman of England, 'Luise' the rural clergyman of
North Germany; the other, that the English idyll is written in prose,
the German in verse--both of which differences, and the separate
peculiarities growing out of them, will, it may perhaps be thought,
require a few words of critical discussion.

There has always existed a question as to the true principles of
translation when applied, not to the mere literature of _knowledge_
(because _there_ it is impossible that two opinions can arise, by how
much closer the version by so much the better), but to the literature of
_power_, and to such works--above all, to poems--as might fairly be
considered _works of art_ in the highest sense. To what extent the
principle of _compensation_ might reasonably be carried, the license,
that is, of departing from the strict literal forms of the original
writer, whether as to expressions, images, or even as to the secondary
thoughts, for the sake of reproducing them in some shape less repellent
to a modern ear, and therefore virtually sustaining the harmony of the
composition by preventing the attention from settling in a
disproportionate degree upon what might have a startling effect to a
taste trained under modern discipline--this question has always been
pending as a question open to revision before the modern courts of
criticism; as surely to you, Dr. North, one of the chief 'swells' on
that bench, I need not say. But, for the sake of accurate thinking, it
is worth while observing that formerly this question was moved almost
exclusively with a view to the Latin and Greek classics; and that
circumstance gave a great and a very just bias to the whole dispute. For
the difference with regard to any capital author of ancient days, as
compared with modern authors, is this, that here we have a twofold
interest--an interest with work, and a separate interest in the writer.
Take the 'Prometheus Desmotes' of Æschylus, and suppose that a
translator should offer us an English 'Prometheus,' which he
acknowledged to be very free, but at the same time contended that his
variations from the Greek were so many downright improvements, so that,
if he had not given us the genuine 'Prometheus,' he had given us
something better. In such a case we should all reply, but we do not want
something better. Our object is not the best possible drama that could
be produced on the fable of 'Prometheus'; what we want is the very
'Prometheus' that was written by Æschylus, the very drama that was
represented at Athens. The Athenian audience itself, and what pleased
its taste, is already one subject of interest. Æschylus on his own
account is another. These are collateral and alien subjects of interest
quite independent of our interest in the drama, and for the sake of
these we wish to see the real original 'Prometheus'--not according to
any man's notion of improvement, but such as came from a sublime Grecian
poet, such as satisfied a Grecian audience, more than two thousand years
ago. We wish, in fact, for the real Æschylus, 'unhousel'd, unaneal'd,'
with all his imperfections on his head.

Such was the way, and the just way, of arguing the point when the
application was limited to a great authentic classic of the Antique; nor
was the case at all different where Ariosto or any other illustrious
Italian classic was concerned. But a new sort of casuistry in this
question has arisen in our own times, and by accident chiefly in
connection with German literature; but it may well be, Dr. North, that
you will be more diverted by a careful scrutiny of my metres after Voss
in illustration, than by any further dissertation on my part on a
subject that you know so well.

Believe me,
Always yours admiringly,
X. Y. Z.

_The Parson's Dinner._

  In the month of leafy June, beneath celestial azure
  Of skies all cloudless, sate the aged Rector of Esthwaite
  Dining amidst his household; but not the meridian ardour
  Of sunbeams fierce he felt; him the shady veranda
  With vine-clad trellis defends: beyond a pendulous awning
  Of boughs self-wreath'd from limes (whose mighty limbs overarching
  Spanned the low roof of the house) spreads far effectual umbrage
  For young and old alike; noontide awfully breathless
  Settled in deepest silence on the woods and valley of Esthwaite.
  Yet not the less there would rise, after stillest interval often,      10
  Low whispering gales that stole, like sobbing murmur of infant
  Dreaming in arms maternal, into the heart o' the youngest:
  Gales that at most could raise a single ringlet of auburn
  As it pencill'd the noble brow of the youthful Anna Louisa--
  Sole child that survived to thee, oh, aged pastor of Esthwaite.
  Clad in his morning gown, the reverend priest at a table
  Of sculptur'd stone was seated; and his seat was a massy but easy
  Settle of oak, which in youth his ancient servitor, Isaac,
  Footman, sexton, and steward, butler and gardener also,
  Carved by the winter fire in nights of gloomy November,
  And through many a long, long night of many a dark December.           21
  The good man's heart was glad, and his eyes were suffus'd with a
  Of perfect love as they settled on her--that pulse of his heart's
  The one sole prop of his house, the beautiful Anna Louisa.
  By the side of himself sate his wife, that ancient tamer of
  Yet kind of heart as a dove, and with matron graces adorning
  Her place as she sate dispensing hospitality boundless
  To the strangers within her gates; for, lo! two strangers on one side
  Sate of the long stone table; yet strangers by manner or action
  One would not suppose them; nor were they, but guests ever honour'd,   30
  And dear to each heart in the house of th' ancient Rector of
  The elder of them was called Augustus Harry Delancey,
  And he rode as a cornet of horse in the mighty imperial army.
  Him had the parents approved (and those were melodious accents,
  The sweetest he ever had heard) as suitor of Anna Louisa.
  But from lips more ruby far--far more melodious accents
  Had reach'd his ears since then; for she, the daughter, her own self,
  Had condescended at last to utter sweet ratification
  Of all his hopes; low whisp'ring the 'yes'--celestial answer
  That raised him to paradise gates on pinion[13] of expectation.        40
  Over against his beloved he sate--the suitor enamour'd:
  And God He knows that indeed should it prove an idolatrous error
  To look in the eyes of a lady till you feel a dreamy devotion,
  I fear for the health of your soul that day, oh, Harry Delancey!
  Next to Delancey there sate his pupil, Magnus Adolphus,
  A fair-haired boy of ten, half an orphan, a count of the empire--
  Magnus Adolphus of Arnstein, that great Bavarian earldom.
  Him had his widowed mother, the noble Countess of Arnstein,
  Placed with Delancey betimes, as one in knightly requirements
  Skilful and all-accomplished, that he the 'youthful idea'[14]          50
  Might 'teach how to shoot' (with a pistol, videlicet),--horses
  To mount and to manage with boldness, hounds to follow in hunting
  The fox, the tusky boar, the stag with his beautiful antlers:
  Arts, whether graceful or useful, in arms or equestrian usage,
  Did Augustus impart to his pupil, the youthful earl of the empire.
  To ride with stirrups or none, to mount from the near-side or off-side
  (Which still is required in the trooper who rides in the Austrian
  To ride with bridle or none, on a saddle Turkish or English,
  To force your horse to curvet, pirouette, dance on his haunches,
  And whilst dancing to lash with his feet, and suggest an effectual
      hinting                                                            60
  To the enemy's musqueteers to clear the road for the hinter:
  Or again, if you want a guide by night, in a dangerous highway
  Beset with the enemies' marksmen and swarming with murderous ambush,
  To train your horse in the art of delicate insinuation,
  Gently raising a hoof to tap at the door o' the woodsman.
  But, if he persists in snoring, or pretending to snore, or is angry
  At your summons to leave his lair in the arms of his wife or his
  To practise your horse in the duty of stormy recalcitration,
  Wheeling round to present his heels, and in mid caracoling
  To send the emperor's greeting smack through the panel of oakwood[15]  70
  That makes the poor man so hard of hearing imperial orders.
  Arts such as these and others, the use of the sabre on horseback,
  All modes of skill gymnastic, modes whether forceful or artful,
  Of death-grapple if by chance a cannon-shot should un-horse you,
  All modes of using the limbs with address, with speed, or enormous
  Effort of brutal strength, all this did Harry Delancey
  Teach to his docile pupil: and arts more nobly delightful,
  Arts of the head or the heart, arts intellectual; empire
  Over dead men's books, over regions of high meditation,
  Comparative tactics, warfare as then conducted in ages
  When powder was none, nor cannon, but brute catapultæ,                 81
  Blind rams, brainless wild asses, the stony slinger of huge
  Iron was lord of the world; iron reigned, man was his engine;
  But now the rule is reversed, man binds and insults over iron.
  Together did they, young tutor, young pupil, Augustus, Adolphus,
  Range over history martial, or read strategical authors,
  Xenophon, Arrian, old Polybius, old Polyænus
  (Think not these Polys, my boy, were blooming Pollies of our days!),
  And above all others, they read the laurel'd hero of heroes,
  Thrice kingly Roman Julius, sun-bright leader of armies,
  Who planted his god-like foot on the necks of a whole generation.      91
  Such studies, such arts were those by which young Harry Delancey
  Sought to discharge the trust which to him the Lady of Arnstein
  Confided with hopes maternal; thus trained, he hoped that Adolphus
  Would shine in his native land, for high was his place in the empire.

     EDITOR'S NOTE.--This was, of course, written for _Blackwood's
     Magazine_; but it never appeared there.


[12] 'That tamer of housemaids': [Greek: Hektoros ippodamoio]--of
Hector, the tamer of horses ('Iliad').

[13] 'On pinion of expectation.' Here I would request the reader to
notice that it would have been easy for me to preserve the regular
dactylic close by writing '_pinion of anticipation_;' as also in the
former instance of '_many a dark December_' to have written '_many a
rainy December_.' But in both cases I preferred to lock up by the massy
spondaic variety; yet never forgetting to premise a dancing
dactyle--'many a'--and 'pinion of.' Not merely for variety, but for a
separate effect of peculiar majesty.

[14] Alluding to a ridiculous passage in Thomson's 'Seasons':

    'Delightful task! to teach the young idea how to shoot.'

[15] All these arts, viz., teaching the horse to fight with his forelegs
or lash out with his hind-legs at various angles in a general melée of
horse and foot, but especially teaching him the secret of 'inviting' an
obstinate German boor to come out and take the air strapped in front of
a trooper, and do his duty as guide to the imperial cavalry, were
imported into the Austrian service by an English riding-master about the
year 1775-80. And no doubt it must have been horses trained on this
learned system of education from which the Highlanders of Scotland
derived their terror of cavalry.

[16] 'Blind rams, brainless wild asses,' etc. The 'arietes,' or
battering-rams with iron-bound foreheads, the 'onagri,' or wild asses,
etc., were amongst the poliorcetic engines of the ancients, which do not
appear to have received any essential improvement after the time of the
brilliant Prince Demetrius, the son of Alexander's great captain,


We have heard from a man who witnessed the failure of Miss Baillie's 'De
Montford,' notwithstanding the scenic advantages of a vast London
theatre, fine dresses, fine music at intervals, and, above all, the
superb acting of John Kemble, supported on that occasion by his
incomparable sister, that this unexpected disappointment began with the
gallery, who could not comprehend or enter into a hatred so fiendish
growing out of causes so slight as any by possibility supposable in the
trivial Rezenvelt. To feel teased by such a man, to dislike him,
occasionally to present him with your compliments in the shape of a
duodecimo kick--well and good, nothing but right. And the plot
manifestly tended to a comic issue. But murder!--a Macbeth murder!--not
the injury so much as the man himself was incommensurate, was too slight
by a thousand degrees for so appalling a catastrophe. It reacts upon De
Montford, making _him_ ignoble that could be moved so profoundly by an
agency so contemptible.

Something of the same disproportion there is, though in a different way,
between any quarrel that may have divided us from a man in his life-time
and the savage revenge of pursuing the quarrel after his death through a
malicious biography. Yet, if you hated him through no quarrel, but
simply (as we all hate many men that died a thousand years ago) for
something vicious, or which you think vicious, in his modes of thinking,
why must you, of all men, be the one to undertake an edition of his
works, 'with a life of the author'? Leave that to some neutral writer,
who neither loves nor hates. And whilst crowds of men need better
biographical records whom it is easy to love and not difficult to
honour, do not you degrade your own heart or disgust your readers by
selecting for your exemplification not a model to be imitated, but a
wild beast to be baited or a criminal to be tortured? We privately hate
Mr. Thomas Hobbes, of Malmsbury; we know much evil of him, and we could
expose many of his tricks effectually. We also hate Dean Swift, and upon
what we think substantial arguments. Some of our own contemporaries we
hate particularly; Cobbett, for instance, and other bad fellows in
fustian and corduroys. But for that very reason we will not write their
lives. Or, if we should do so, only because they might happen to stand
as individuals in a series, and after warning the reader of our own
bias. For it is too odious a spectacle to imprison a fellow-creature in
a book, like a stag in a cart, and turn him out to be hunted through all
his doubles for a day's amusement. It too much resembles that case of
undoubted occurrence both in France and Germany, where 'respectable'
individuals, simply as amateurs, and not at all with any view to the
salary or fees of operating, have come forward as candidates for the
post of public executioner. What is every man's duty is no man's duty by
preference. And unless where a writer is thrust upon such a duty by an
official necessity (as, if he contracts for a 'Biographia Britannica,'
in that case he is bound by his contract to go through with the whole
series--rogues and all), it is too painful to see a human being courting
and wooing the task of doing execution upon his brother in his grave.
Nay, even in the case where this executioner's task arises spontaneously
out of some duty previously undertaken without a thought of its severer
functions, we are still shocked by any exterminating vengeance too
rancorously pursued. Every reader must have been disgusted by the
unrelenting persecution with which Gifford, a deformed man, with the
spiteful nature sometimes too developed in the deformed, had undertaken
'for our fathers in the Row' an edition of Massinger. Probably he had
not thought at the time of the criminals who would come before him for
judgment. But afterwards it did not embitter the job that these
perquisites of office accrued, _lucro ponatur_, that such offenders as
Coxeter, Mr. Monck Mason, and others were to be 'justified' by course of
law. Could he not have stated their errors, and displaced their rubbish,
without further personalities? However, he does _not_, but makes the air
resound with his knout, until the reader wishes Coxeter in his throat,
and Monck Mason, like 'the cursed old fellow' in Sinbad, mounted with
patent spurs upon his back.

We shall be interrupted, however, and _that_ we certainly foresee, by
the objection--that we are fighting with shadows, that neither the
_éloge_ in one extreme, nor the libel in the other extreme, finds a
place in _our_ literature. Does it not? Yes, reader, each of these
biographical forms exists in favour among us, and of one it is very
doubtful indeed whether it ought not to exist. The _éloge_ is found
abundantly diffused through our monumental epitaphs in the first place,
and _there_ every man will countersign Wordsworth's judgment (see 'The
Excursion' and also Wordsworth's prose Essay on Epitaphs), that it is a
blessing for human nature to find one place in this world sacred to
charitable thoughts, one place at least offering a sanctuary from evil
speaking. So far there is no doubt. But the main literary form, in which
the English _éloge_ presents itself, is the Funeral Sermon. And in this
also, not less than in the churchyard epitaph, kind feeling ought to
preside; and for the same reasons, the sanctity of the place where it is
delivered or originally published, and the solemnity of the occasion
which has prompted it; since, if you cannot find matter in the departed
person's character fertile in praise even whilst standing by the
new-made grave, what folly has tempted you into writing an epitaph or a
funeral sermon? The good ought certainly to predominate in both, and in
the epitaph nothing _but_ the good, because were it only for a reason
suggested by Wordsworth, viz., the elaborate and everlasting character
of a record chiselled out painfully in each separate letter, it would be
scandalous to confer so durable an existence in stone or marble upon
trivial human infirmities, such as do not enter into the last solemn
reckoning with the world beyond the grave; whilst, on the other hand,
all graver offences are hushed into 'dread repose,' and, where they
happen to be too atrocious or too memorable, are at once a sufficient
argument for never having undertaken any such memorial. These
considerations privilege the epitaph as sacred to charity, and tabooed
against the revelations of candour. The epitaph cannot open its scanty
records to any breathing or insinuation of infirmity. But the Funeral
Sermon, though sharing in the same general temper of indulgence towards
the errors of the deceased person, might advantageously be laid open to
a far more liberal discussion of those personal or intellectual
weaknesses which may have thwarted the influence of character otherwise
eminently Christian. The _Oraison Funèbre_ of the French proposes to
itself by its original model, which must be sought in the _Epideictic_
or panegyrical oratory of the Greeks, a purpose purely and exclusively
eulogistic: the problem supposed is to abstract from everything _not_
meritorious, to expand and develop the total splendour of the individual
out of that one centre, that main beneficial relation to his own age,
from which this splendour radiated. The incidents of the life, the
successions of the biographical detail, are but slightly traced, no
farther, in fact, than is requisite to the intelligibility of the
praises. Whereas, in the English Funeral Sermon, there is no principle
of absolute exclusion operating against the minutest circumstantiations
of fact which can tend to any useful purpose of illustrating the
character. And what is too much for the scale of a sermon literally
preached before a congregation, or modelled to counterfeit such a mode
of address, may easily find its place in the explanatory notes. This is
no romance, or ideal sketch of what might be. It is, and it has been.
There are persons of memorable interest in past times, of whom all that
we know is embodied in a funeral sermon. For instance, Jeremy Taylor in
that way, or by his Epistles Dedicatory, has brought out the
characteristic features in some of his own patrons, whom else we should
have known only as _nominis umbras_. But a more impressive illustration
is found in the case of John Henderson, that man of whom expectations so
great were formed, and of whom Dr. Johnson and Burke, after meeting and
conversing with him, pronounced (in the Scriptural words of the
Ethiopian queen applied to the Jewish king, Solomon) 'that the half had
not been told them.' For this man's memory almost the sole original
record exists in Aguttar's funeral sermon; for though other records
exist, and one from the pen of a personal friend, Mr. Joseph Cottle, of
Bristol, yet the main substance of the biography is derived from the
_fundus_ of this one sermon.[17] And it is of some importance to cases
of fugitive or unobtrusive merit that this more quiet and sequestered
current of biography should be kept open. For the local motives to an
honorary biographical notice, in the shape of a Funeral Sermon, will
often exist, when neither the materials are sufficient, nor a writer
happens to be disposable, for a labour so serious as a regular

Here then, on the one side, are our English _éloges_. And we may add
that amongst the Methodists, the Baptists, and other religious
sectaries, but especially among the missionaries of all nations and
churches, this class of _éloges_ is continually increasing. Not
unfrequently men of fervent natures and of sublime aspirations are thus
rescued from oblivion, whilst the great power of such bodies as the
Methodists, their growing wealth, and consequent responsibility to
public opinion, are pledges that they will soon command all the
advantages of colleges and academic refinement; so that if, in the
manner of these funeral _éloges_, there has sometimes been missed that
elegance which should have corresponded to the weight of the matter,
henceforwards we may look to see this disadvantage giving way before
institutions more thoroughly matured. But if these are our _éloges_, on
the other hand, where are our libels?

This is likely to be a topic of offence, for many readers will start at
hearing the upright Samuel Johnson and the good-humoured, garrulous
Plutarch denounced as traffickers in libel. But a truth is a truth. And
the temper is so essentially different in which men lend themselves to
the propagation of defamatory anecdotes, the impulses are so various to
an offence which is not always consciously perceived by those who are
parties to it, that we cannot be too cautious of suffering our hatred of
libel to involve every casual libeller, or of suffering our general
respect for the person of the libeller to exonerate him from the charge
of libelling. Many libels are written in this little world of ours
unconsciously, and under many motives. Perhaps we said that before, but
no matter. Sometimes a gloomy fellow, with a murderous cast of
countenance, sits down doggedly to the task of blackening one whom he
hates worse 'than toad or asp.' For instance, Procopius performs that
'labour of hate' for the Emperor Justinian, pouring oil into his wounds,
but, then (as Coleridge expresses it in a 'neat' sarcasm), oil of
vitriol. Nature must have meant the man for a Spanish Inquisitor, sent
into the world before St. Dominic had provided a trade for him, or any
vent for his malice--so rancorous in his malignity, so horrid and
unrelenting the torture to which he subjects his sovereign and the
beautiful Theodora. In this case, from the withering scowl which
accompanies the libels, we may be assured that they _are_ such in the
most aggravated form--not malicious only, but false. It is commonly
said, indeed, in our courts, that truth it is which aggravates the
libel. And so it is as regards the feelings or the interests of the man
libelled. For is it not insufferable that, if a poor man under common
human infirmity shall have committed some crime and have paid its
penalty, but afterwards reforming or out-growing his own follies, seeks
to gain an honest livelihood for his children in a place which the
knowledge of his past transgression has not reached, then all at once he
is to be ruined by some creature purely malignant who discovers and
publishes the secret tale? In such a case most undoubtedly it is the
truth of the libel which constitutes its sting, since, if it were not
true or could be made questionable, it would do the poor man no
mischief. But, on the other hand, it is the falsehood of the libel which
forms its aggravation as regards the publisher. And certain we are, had
we no other voucher than the instinct of our hatred to Procopius, that
his disloyal tales about his great lord and lady are odiously
overcharged, if not uniformly false. Gibbon, however, chooses to gratify
his taste for the luxury of scandal by believing at once in the perfect
malice of the slanderer, and the perfect truth of his slanders.

Here then, in this Procopius, is an instance of the gloomy libeller,
whose very gloom makes affidavit of his foul spirit from the first.
There is also another form, less odious, of the hostile libeller: it
occurs frequently in cases where the writer is not chargeable with
secret malice, but is in a monstrous passion. A shower-bath might be of
service in that case, whereas in the Procopius case nothing but a
copious or a _Pro_copius application of the knout can answer. We, for
instance, have (or had, for perhaps it has been stolen) a biography of
that same Parker, afterwards Bishop of Oxford, with whom Andrew Marvell
'and others who called Milton friend' had such rough-and-tumble feuds
about 1666, and at whose expense it was that Marvell made the whole
nation merry in his 'Rehearsal Transprosed.' This Parker had a 'knack'
at making himself odious; he had a _curiosa felicitas_ in attracting
hatreds, and wherever he lodged for a fortnight he trailed after him a
vast parabolic or hyperbolic tail of enmity and curses, all smoke and
fire and tarnish, which bore the same ratio to his small body of merit
that a comet's tail, measuring billions of miles, does to the little
cometary mass. The rage against him was embittered by politics, and
indeed sometimes by knavish tricks; the first not being always
'confounded,' nor the last 'frustrated.' So that Parker, on the whole,
was a man whom it might be held a duty to hate, and therefore, of
course, to knout as often as you could persuade him to expose a fair
extent of surface for the action of the lash. Many men purchased a knout
for his sake, and took their chance for getting a 'shy' at him, as
Parker might happen to favour their intentions. But one furious
gentleman, who is resolved to 'take his full change' out of Parker, and
therefore to lose no time, commences operations in the very first words
of his biography: 'Parker,' says he, 'the author of ----, was the _spawn_
of Samuel Parker.' His rage will not wait for an opportunity; he throws
off a torrent of fiery sparks in advance, and gives full notice to
Parker that he will run his train right into him, if he can come up with
his rear. This man is not malicious, but truculent; like the elder
Scaliger, of whom it was observed that, having been an officer of
cavalry up to his fortieth year (when he took to learning Greek), he
always fancied himself on horseback, charging, and cutting throats in
the way of professional duty, as often as he found himself summoned to
pursue and 'cut up' some literary delinquent. Fire and fury, 'bubble and
squeak,' is the prevailing character of his critical composition. 'Come,
and let me give thee to the fowls of the air,' is the cry with which the
martial critic salutes the affrighted author. Yet, meantime, it is
impossible that he can entertain any personal malice, for he does not
know the features of the individual enemy whom he is pursuing. But thus
far he agrees with the Procopian order of biographers--that both are
governed, in whatever evil they may utter, by a spirit of animosity: one
by a belligerent spirit which would humble its enemy as an enemy in a
fair pitched battle, the other by a subtle spirit of malice, which would
exterminate its enemy not in that character merely, but as an individual
by poison or by strangling.

Libels, however, may be accredited and published where there is no
particle of enmity or of sudden irritation. Such were the libels of
Plutarch and Dr. Johnson. They are libels prompted by no hostile
feelings at all, but adopted by mere blind spirit of credulity. In this
world of ours, so far as we are acquainted with its doings, there are
precisely four series--four aggregate bodies--of _Lives_, and no more,
which you can call celebrated; which _have_ had, and are likely to have,
an extensive influence--each after its own kind. Which be they? To
arrange them in point of time, first stand Plutarch's lives of eminent
Greeks and Romans; next, the long succession of the French Memoirs,
beginning with Philippe de Commines, in the time of Louis XI. or our
Edward IV., and ending, let us say, with the slight record of himself
(but not without interest) of Louis XVIII.; thirdly, the _Acta
Sanctorum_ of the Bollandists; fourthly, Dr. Johnson's 'Lives of the
Poets.' The third is a biographical record of the Romish saints,
following the order of the martyrology as it is digested through the
Roman calendar of the year; and, as our own 'Biographia Britannica' has
only moved forwards in seventy years to the letter 'H,' or thereabouts
(which may be owing to the dissenting blight of Dr. Kippis), _pari
passu_, the _Acta Sanctorum_ will be found not much farther advanced
than the month of May--a pleasant month certainly, but (as the
_Spectator_ often insinuates) perilous to saintship. Laying this work
out of consideration, as being chiefly employed in eulogy such as
_could_ not be extravagant when applied to the glorious army of martyrs
(although here also, we doubt not, are many libels against men
concerning whom it matters little whether they were libelled or not),
all the rest of the great biographical works are absolutely saturated
with libels. Plutarch may be thought to balance his extravagant slanders
by his impossible eulogies. He sees nothing wonderful in actions that
were far beyond the level of any motives existing under pagan
moralities; and, on the other hand, he traduces great men like Cæsar,
whose natures were beyond his scale of measurement, by tracing their
policy to petty purposes entirely Plutarchian. But he was a Greekling in
a degenerate age of Grecians. As to the French Memoirs, which are often
so exceedingly amusing, they purchase their liveliness by one eternal
sacrifice of plain truth. Their repartees, felicitous _propos_, and
pointed anecdotes are but one rolling fire of falsehoods. And,
generally, it may be laid down as a rule, that all collectors of happy
retorts and striking anecdotes are careless of truth. Louis XIV. _does_
seem to have had a natural gift of making brilliant compliments and
happy impromptus; and yet the very best of his reputed _mots_ were
spurious. Some may be traced to Cicero, Hierocles, Diogenes; and some to
his modern predecessors. That witty remark ascribed to him about the
disposition of Fortune, as being a lady, to withdraw her favours from
old men like himself and the Maréchal Boufflers, was really uttered
nearly two centuries before by the Emperor Charles V., who probably
stole it from some Spanish collection of jests. And so of fifty in every
hundred beside. And the French are not only apt beyond other nations to
abuse the license of stealing from our predecessor _quod licuit
semperque licebit_, but also, in a degree peculiar to themselves, they
have a false de-naturalized taste in the humorous, and as to the limits
of the extravagant. We have formerly illustrated this point, and
especially we noticed it as a case impossible to any nation _but_ the
French to have tolerated the pretended 'absences' of La Fontaine--as,
for instance, his affecting to converse with his own son as an entire
stranger, and asking the lady who had presented him what might be the
name of that amiable young man. The _incredulus odi_ faces one in every
page of a French memoir; veracity is an unknown virtue, and, wherever
that is the taste, look for libels by wholesale. Too often even the
unnatural and the monstrous is courted, rather than miss the object of
arresting and startling. Now, Dr. Johnson's calumnies or romances were
not of that order. He had a healthy spirit of reverence for truth; but
he was credulous to excess, and he was plagued by an infirmity not
uncommon amongst literary men who have no families of young people
growing up around their hearth--the hankering after gossip. He was
curious about the domestic habits of his celebrated countrymen;
inquisitive in a morbid degree about their pecuniary affairs: 'What have
you got in that pocket which bulges out so prominently?' 'What did your
father do with that hundred guineas which he received on Monday from
Jacob Jonson?' And, as his 'swallow' was enormous--as the Doctor would
believe more fables in an hour than an able-bodied liar would invent in
a week--naturally there was no limit to the slanders with which his
'Lives of the Poets' are overrun.

Of the four great biographical works which we have mentioned, we hold
Dr. Johnson's to be by far the best in point of composition. Even
Plutarch, though pardonably overrated in consequence of the great
subjects which he treats (which again are 'great' by benefit of distance
and the vast abstracting process executed by time upon the petty and the
familiar), is loose and rambling in the principles of his _nexus_; and
there lies the great effort for a biographer, there is the strain, and
that is the task--viz., to weld the disconnected facts into one
substance, and by interfusing natural reflections to create for the
motions of his narrative a higher impulse than one merely chronologic.
In this respect, the best of Dr. Johnson's 'Lives' are undoubtedly the
very best which exist. They are the most highly finished amongst all
masterpieces of the biographic art, and, as respects the Doctor
personally, they are, beyond comparison, his best work. It is a great
thing in any one art or function, even though it were not a great one,
to have excelled all the literature of all languages. And if the reader
fancies that there lurks anywhere a collection of lives, or even one
life (though it were the 'Agricola' of Tacitus), which as a work of
refined art and execution can be thought equal to the best of Dr.
Johnson's, we should be grateful to him if he would assign it in a
letter to Mr. Blackwood:

               'And though the night be raw,
    We'll see it too, the first we ever saw.'

We say nothing of the Calmuck Tartars; they hold (see Bergmann's
'Streifereien') that their 'Dschangariade' is the finest of all epic
poems, past or coming; and, therefore, the Calmuck Lives of the Poets
will naturally be inimitable. But confining our view to the unhappy
literatures of Europe, ancient or modern, this is what we think of Dr.
Johnson's efforts as a biographer. Consequently, we cannot be taxed with
any insensibility to his merit. And as to the critical part of his
Lives, if no thoughtful reader can be expected to abide by his haughty
decisions, yet, on the other hand, every man reads his opinions with
pleasure, from the intellectual activity and the separate justice of the
thoughts which they display. But as to his libellous propensity, that
rests upon independent principles; for all his ability and all his logic
could not elevate his mind above the region of gossip.

Take his 'Life of Savage.' This was the original nest-egg, upon which,
as a basis, and perhaps as the occasional suggestion of such an
enterprise, all the rest--allow us a pompous word--supervened. It was
admirably written, because written _con amore_, and also because written
_con odio_; and under either impulse is it possible to imagine grosser
delusions? Johnson persuaded himself that Savage was a fine gentleman (a
_rôle_ not difficult to support in that age, when ceremony and a
gorgeous _costume_ were amongst the auxiliary distinctions of a
gentleman), and also that he was a man of genius. The first claim was
necessarily taken upon trust by the Doctor's readers; the other might
have been examined; but after a few painful efforts to read 'The
Wanderer' and other insipid trifles, succeeding generations have
resolved to take _that_ upon trust also; for in very truth Savage's
writings are of that order which 'do not let themselves be read.' Why,
then, had publishers bought them? Publishers in those days were mere
tradesmen, without access to liberal society. Even Richardson, though a
man of great genius, in his publisher's character was an obsequious,
nay, servile, admirer of the fine gentleman who wore a sword,
embroidered clothes, and Mechlin ruffles about his wrists; above all
things, he glorified and adored a Lovelace, with a fine person, who sang
gaily to show his carelessness of low people, never came abroad except
in a sedan-chair, and liberally distributed his curses to the right and
the left in all respectable men's shops. This temper, with her usual
sagacity, Lady M. Wortley Montagu could detect in Richardson, and for
this she despised him. But this it was, and some little vision of
possible patronage from Lord Tyrconnel, which had obtained any prices at
all for Savage from such knowing publishers as were then arising; but
generally Savage had relied upon subscriptions, which were still common,
and, in his case, as a man supposed unfortunate, were given purely as
charity. With what astonishment does a literary foreigner of any
judgment find a Savage placed amongst the classics of England! and from
the scale of his life reasonably he must infer that he is ranked amongst
the leaders, whilst the extent in which his works are multiplied would
throw him back upon the truth--that he is utterly unknown to his
countrymen. These, however, were the delusions of good nature. But what
are we to think of Dr. Johnson's abetting that monstrous libel against
Lady Macclesfield? She, unhappily, as a woman banished without hope from
all good society by her early misconduct as a wife (but, let it not be
forgotten, a neglected wife), had nobody to speak a word on her behalf:
all evil was believed of one who had violated her marriage vows. But had
the affair occurred in our days, the public journals would have righted
her. They would have shown the folly of believing a vain, conceited man
like Savage and his nurse, with no vouchers whatever, upon a point where
they had the deepest interest at stake; whilst on the opposite side,
supposing their story true, spoke for them the strongest of all natural
instincts--the pleading of the maternal heart, combated by no
self-interest whatever. Surely if Lady Macclesfield had not been
supported by indignation against an imposture, merely for her own ease
and comfort, she would have pensioned Savage, or have procured him some
place under Government--not difficult in those days for a person with
her connections (however sunk as respected _female_ society) to have
obtained for an only son. In the sternness of her resistance to all
attempts upon her purse we read her sense of the fraud. And, on the
other hand, was the conduct of Savage that of a son? He had no legal
claims upon her, consequently no pretence for molesting her in her
dwelling-house. And would a real son--a great lubberly fellow, well able
to work as a porter or a footman--however wounded at her obstinate
rejection, have been likely, in pursuit of no legal rights, to have
alarmed her by threatening letters and intrusions, for no purpose but
one _confessedly_ of pecuniary extortion? From the very mode of pursuing
his claim it is plain that Savage felt it to be a false one. It seems,
also, to be forgotten by most readers, that at this day real sons--not
denied to be such--are continually banished, nay, ejected forcibly by
policemen, from the paternal roof in requital of just such profligate
conduct as Savage displayed; so that, grant his improbable story, still
he was a disorderly reprobate, who in these days would have been
consigned to the treadmill. But the whole was a hoax.

Savage, however, is but a single case, in relation to which Dr. Johnson
stood in a special position, that diseased his judgment. But look at
Pope's life, at Swift's, at Young's--at all the lives of men
contemporary with himself: they are overrun with defamatory stories, or
traits of that order which would most have stung them, had they returned
to life. But it was an accident most beneficial to Dr. Johnson that
nearly all these men left no near relatives behind to call him to
account. The public were amused, as they always are by exhibitions of
infirmity or folly in one whom otherwise they were compelled to admire;
that was a sort of revenge for them to set off against a painful
perpetuity of homage. Thus far the libels served only as jests, and,
fortunately for Dr. Johnson, there arose no after-reckoning. One period,
in fact, of thirty years had intervened between the last of these men
and the publication of the Lives; it was amongst the latest works of Dr.
Johnson: thus, and because most of them left no descendants, he escaped.
Had the ordinary proportion of these men been married, the result would
have been different; and whatever might have been thought of any
individual case amongst the complaints, most undoubtedly, from the great
number to which the Doctor had exposed himself, amongst which many were
not of a nature to be evaded by any vouchers whatsoever, a fatal effect
would have settled on the Doctor's moral reputation. He would have been
passed down to posterity as a dealer in wholesale scandal, who cared
nothing for the wounded feelings of relatives. It is a trifle after that
to add that he would frequently have been cudgelled.

This public judgment upon Dr. Johnson and these cudgellings would have
been too severe a chastisement for the offences, which, after all,
argued no heavier delinquency than a levity in examining his chance
authorities, and a constitutional credulity. Dr. Johnson's easiness of
faith for the supernatural, the grossness of his superstition in
relation to such miserable impostures as the Cock Lane ghost, and its
scratchings on the wall, flowed from the same source; and his
conversation furnishes many proofs that he had no principle of
resistance in his mind, no reasonable scepticism, when any disparaging
anecdote was told about his nearest friends. Who but he would have
believed the monstrous tale: that Garrick, so used to addressing large
audiences _extempore_, so quick and lively in his apprehensions, had
absolutely been dismissed from a court of justice as an idiot--as a man
incapable of giving the court information even upon a question of his
own profession? As to his credulity with respect to the somewhat
harmless forgeries of Psalmanazer, and with respect to the villainous
imposture of Lander, we imagine that other causes co-operated to those
errors beyond mere facility of assenting. In the latter case we fear
that jealousy of Milton as a scholar, a feeling from which he never
cleansed himself, had been the chief cause of his so readily delivering
himself a dupe to allegations _not_ specious, backed by forgeries that
were anything but ingenious. Dr. Johnson had a narrow escape on that
occasion. Had Dr. Douglas fastened upon him as the collusive abettor of
Lander, as the man whose sanction had ever won even a momentary credit
for the obscure libeller, and as the one beyond all others of the age
whose critical occupation ought most to have secured him against such a
delusion, the character of Johnson would have suffered seriously.
Luckily, Dr. Douglas spared him; and Johnson, seeing the infamy of the
hoax, and the precipice near which he stood, hastened to separate
himself from Lander, and to offer such reparation as he could, by
dictating that unhappy letter of recantation. Lander must have consented
to this step from hopes of patronage; and perhaps the obscure place of
slave-driver in the West Indies, in which he died (after recanting his
recantation), might be the unsatisfactory bait of his needy ambition.
But assuredly Lander could have made out a better case for himself than
that which, under his name, the Doctor addressed to the Bishop; it was a
dark spot in Dr. Johnson's life. A Scotsman, said he, must be a strange
one who would not tell a falsehood in a case where Scotland was
concerned; and we fear that any fable of defamation must have been gross
indeed which Dr. Johnson would not have countenanced against Milton. His
'Life of Milton,' as it now stands, contains some of the grossest
calumnies against that mighty poet which have ever been hazarded; and
some of the deepest misrepresentations are coloured, to the unsuspecting
reader, by an affectation of merriment. But in his 'heart of hearts' Dr.
Johnson detested Milton. Gray, even though, as being little of a meddler
with politics, he furnished no handle to the Doctor for wrath so
unrelenting, was a subject of deep jealousy from his reputed
scholarship. Never did the spite of the Doctor more emblazon itself
than in his review of Gray's lyrical compositions; the very affectation
of prefacing his review by calling the two chief odes 'the wonderful
wonder of wonders' betrays a female spite; and never did the arrogance
of Dr. Johnson's nature flame out so conspicuously as in some of the
phrases used on this occasion. Perhaps it is an instance of
self-inflation absolutely unique where he says, 'My kindness for a man
of letters'; this, it seems, caused him to feel pain at seeing Gray
descending to what he, the Doctor (as a one-sided opinion of his own),
held to be a fantastic foppery. The question we point at is not this
supposed foppery--was it such or not? Milton's having cherished that
'foppery' was a sufficient argument for detesting it. What we fix the
reader's eye upon is, the unparalleled arrogance of applying to Gray
this extreme language of condescending patronage. He really had 'a
kindness' for the little man, and was not ashamed, as some people would
be, to own it; so that it shocked him more than else it would have done,
to see the man disgracing himself in this way.

However, it is probable that all the misstatements of Dr. Johnson, the
invidious impressions, and the ludicrous or injurious anecdotes fastened
_ad libitum_ upon men previously open to particular attacks, never will
be exposed; and for this, amongst other reasons, that sometimes the
facts of the case are irrecoverable, though falsehood may be apparent;
and still more because few men will be disposed to degrade themselves by
assuming a secondary and ministerial office in hanging upon the errors
of any man. Pope was a great favourite with Dr. Johnson, both as an
unreflecting Tory, who travelled the whole road to Jacobitism--thus far
resembling the Doctor himself; secondly, as one who complimented
himself whilst yet a young man, and even whilst wearing a
masque--complimented him under circumstances which make compliments
doubly useful, and make them trebly sincere. If any man, therefore, he
would have treated indulgently Pope: yet his life it is which has mainly
fixed upon Pope that false impression which predominates at this
day--that doubtless intellectually he was a very brilliant little man;
but morally a spiteful, peevish, waspish, narrow-hearted cynic. Whereas
no imputation can be more unfounded. Pope, unless in cases when he had
been maddened by lampoons, was a most benignant creature; and, with the
slightest acknowledgment of his own merit, there never lived a literary
man who was so generously eager to associate others in his own
honours--those even who had no adequate pretensions. If you, reader,
should, like ourselves, have had occasion to investigate Pope's life,
under an intention of recording it more accurately or more
comprehensively than has yet been done, you will feel the truth of what
we are saying. And especially we would recommend to every man, who
wishes to think justly of Pope in this respect, that he should compare
his conduct towards literary competitors with that of Addison. Dr.
Johnson, having partially examined the lives of both, must have been so
far qualified to do justice between them. But justice he has _not_ done;
and to him chiefly we repeat that at this day are owing the false
impressions of Pope's selfish, ungenial, or misanthropic nature; and the
humiliating associations connected with Pope's petty manoeuvring in
trivial domestic affairs, chiefly through Dr. Johnson's means, will
never be obliterated. Let us turn, however, from Dr. Johnson, whom, with
our general respect for his upright nature, it is painful to follow
through circumstances where either jealousy (as sometimes) or credulity
and the love of gossip (as very often) has misled him into gratifying
the taste of the envious at a great sacrifice of dignity to the main
upholders of our literature. These men ought not to have been 'shown up'
for a comic or malicious effect. A nation who value their literature as
we have reason to value ours ought to show their sense of this value by
forgetting the _degrading_ infirmities (not the venial and human
infirmities) of those to whose admirable endowments they owe its

Turning away, therefore, from those modes of biography which have
hitherto pursued any vicious extreme, let us now briefly explain our own
ideal of a happier, sounder, and more ennobling biographical art, having
the same general objects as heretofore, but with a more express view to
the benefit of the reader. Looking even at those memoirs which, like
Hayley's of Cowper, have been checked by pathetic circumstances from
fixing any slur or irreverential scandal upon their subject, we still
see a great fault in the mass of biographic records; and what _is_ it?
It is--that, even where no disposition is manifested to copy either the
_éloge_ or the libellous pasquinade, too generally the author appears
_ex officio_ as the constant 'patronus' or legal advocate for the person
recorded. And so he ought, if we understand that sort of advocacy which
in English courts the judge was formerly presumed to exercise on behalf
of the defendant in criminal trials. Before that remarkable change by
which a prisoner was invested with the privilege of employing separate
counsel, the judge was his counsel. The judge took care that no wrong
was done to him; that no false impression was left with the jury; that
the witnesses against him should not be suffered to run on without a
sufficient rigour of cross-examination. But certainly the judge thought
it no part of his duty to make 'the worse appear the better reason'; to
throw dust into the eyes of the jury; or to labour any point of
equivocation for the sake of giving the prisoner an extra chance of
escaping. And, if it is really right that the prisoner, when obviously
guilty, should be aided in evading his probable conviction, then
certainly in past times he had less than justice. For most undoubtedly
no judge would have attempted what we all saw an advocate attempting
about a year ago, that, when every person in court was satisfied of the
prisoner's guilt, from the proof suddenly brought to light of his having
clandestinely left the plate of his murdered victim in a particular
party's safe keeping, at that moment the advocate (though secretly
prostrated by this overwhelming discovery) struggled vainly to fix upon
the honourable witness a foul stigma of self-contradiction and perjury
for the single purpose of turning loose a savage murderer upon society.
If this were not more than justice, then assuredly in all times past the
prisoner had far less. Now, precisely the difference between the
advocacy of the judge, and the advocacy of a special counsel retained by
the prisoner, expresses the difference which we contemplate between the
biographer as he has hitherto protected his hero and that biographer
whom we would substitute. Is he not to show a partiality for his
subject? Doubtless; but hitherto, in those lives which have been
farthest from _éloges_, the author has thought it his duty to uphold the
general system, polity, or principles upon which his subject has acted.
Thus Middleton and all other biographers of Cicero, whilst never
meditating any panegyrical account of that statesman, and oftentimes
regretting his vanity, for instance, have quite as little thought it
allowable to condemn the main political views, theories, and
consequently actions, of Cicero. But why not? Why should a biographer be
fettered in his choice of subjects by any imaginary duty of adopting the
views held by him whose life he records? To make war upon the man, to
quarrel with him in every page, _that_ is quite as little in accordance
with our notions; and we have already explained above our sense of its
hatefulness. For then the question recurs for ever: What necessity
forced you upon a subject whose conduct you thoroughly disapprove? But
let him show the tenderness which is due to a great man even when he
errs. Let him expose the _total_ aberrations of the man, and make this
exposure salutary to the pathetic wisdom of his readers, not alimentary
to their self-conceit, by keeping constantly before their eyes the
excellence and splendour of the man's powers in contrast with his
continued failures. Let him show such patronage to the hero of his
memoir as the English judge showed to the poor prisoner at his bar,
taking care that he should suffer no shadow of injustice from the
witnesses; that the prisoner's own self-defence should in no part be
defeated of its effect by want of proper words or want of proper skill
in pressing the forcible points on the attention of the jury; but
otherwise leaving him to his own real merits in the facts of his case,
and allowing him no relief from the pressure of the hostile evidence but
such as he could find either in counter-evidence or in the intrinsic
weight of his own general character. On the scheme of biography there
would be few persons in any department of life who would be accompanied
to the close by a bowing and obsequious reporter; there would be far
less of uniform approbation presumable in memoirs; but, on the other
hand, there would be exhibited pretty generally a tender spirit of
dealing with human infirmities; a large application of human errors to
the benefit of succeeding generations; and, lastly, there would be an
opening made for the free examination of many lives which are now in a
manner closed against criticism; whilst to each separate life there
would be an access and an invitation laid bare for minds hitherto
feeling themselves excluded from approaching the subject by imperfect
sympathy with the principles and doctrines which those lives were
supposed to illustrate.

But our reformed view of biography would be better explained by a sketch
applied to Cicero's life or to Milton's. In either case we might easily
show, consistently with the exposure of enormous errors, that each was
the wisest man of his own day. And with regard to Cicero in particular,
out of his own letters to Atticus, we might show that every capital
opinion which he held on the politics of Rome in his own day was false,
groundless, contradictory. Yet for all that, we would engage to leave
the reader in a state of far deeper admiration for the man than the
hollow and hypocritical Middleton ever felt himself, or could therefore
have communicated to his readers.

     EDITOR'S NOTE.--The reference on p. 122 is to the famous case of
     Courvoisier, in 1840, and this fixes 1841 as the date of the essay.
     Courvoisier was a valet who murdered and robbed his master, putting
     the plate into the care of an old woman, and making it appear a
     burglary. He was defended by a barrister named Philips, who
     received from the prisoner a confession of his guilt, and
     afterwards, in court, took Heaven to witness that he believed him
     innocent, though the woman, by accident almost, had been found, and
     given evidence. Philips was disbarred.


[17] In Mrs. Hannah More's drawing-room at Barley Wood, amongst the few
pictures which adorned it, hung a kit-kat portrait of John Henderson.
This, and our private knowledge that Mrs. H. M. had personally known and
admired Henderson, led us to converse with that lady about him. What we
gleaned from her in addition to the notices of Aguttar and of some
amongst Johnson's biographers may yet see the light.


I have ever been disposed to regard as the most venial of deceptions
such impositions as Chatterton had practised on the public credulity.
Whom did he deceive? Nobody but those who well deserved to be deceived,
viz., shallow antiquaries, who pretended to a sort of knowledge which
they had not so much as tasted. And it always struck me as a judicial
infatuation in Horace Walpole, that he, who had so brutally pronounced
the death of this marvellous boy to be a matter of little consequence,
since otherwise he would have come to be hanged for forgery, should
himself, not as a boy under eighteen (and I think under seventeen at the
first issuing of the Rowley fraud), slaving for a few guineas that he
might procure the simplest food for himself, and then buy presents for
the dear mother and sister whom he had left in Bristol, but as an
elderly man, with a clear six thousand per annum,[18] commit a far more
deliberate and audacious forgery than that imputed (if even accurately
imputed) to Chatterton. I know of no published document, or none
published under Chatterton's sanction, in which he formally _declared_
the Rowley poems to have been the compositions of a priest living in
the days of Henry IV., viz., in or about the year 1400. Undoubtedly he
suffered people to understand that he had found MSS. of that period in
the tower of St. Mary Redcliff at Bristol, which he really _had_ done;
and whether he simply tolerated them in running off with the idea that
these particular poems, written on _discoloured_ parchments by way of
colouring the hoax, were amongst the St. Mary treasures, or positively
_said so_, in either view, considering the circumstances of the case, no
man of kind feelings will much condemn him.

But Horace Walpole roundly and audaciously affirmed in the first
sentence of his preface to the poor romance of 'Otranto,' that it had
been translated from the Italian of Onuphrio Muralto, and that the MS.
was still preserved in the library of an English Catholic family;
circumstantiating his needless falsehood by other most superfluous
details. _Needless_, I say, because a book with the Walpole name on the
title-page was as sure of selling as one with Chatterton's obscure name
was at that time sure of _not_ selling. Possibly Horace Walpole did not
care about selling, but wished to measure his own intrinsic power as a
novelist, for which purpose it was a better course to preserve his
_incognito_. But this he might have preserved without telling a
circumstantial falsehood. Whereas Chatterton knew that his only chance
of emerging from the obscure station of a grave-digger's son, and
carrying into comfort the dear female relatives that had half-starved
themselves for _him_ (I speak of things which have since come to my
knowledge thirty-five years after Chatterton and his woes had been
buried in a pauper's coffin), lay in bribing public attention by some
_extrinsic_ attraction. Macpherson had recently engaged the public gaze
by his 'Ossian'--an abortion fathered upon the fourth century after
Christ. What so natural as to attempt other abortions--ideas and
refinements of the eighteenth century--referring themselves to the
fifteenth? Had this harmless hoax succeeded, he would have delivered
those from poverty who delivered _him_ from ignorance; he would have
raised those from the dust who raised _him_ to an aerial height--yes, to
a height from which (but it was after his death), like _Ate_ or _Eris_,
come to cause another Trojan war, he threw down an apple of discord
amongst the leading scholars of England, and seemed to say: 'There, Dean
of Exeter! there, Laureate! there, Tyrwhitt, my man! Me you have
murdered amongst you. Now fight to death for the boy that living you
would not have hired as a shoeblack. My blood be upon you!' Rise up,
martyred blood! rise to heaven for a testimony against these men and
this generation, or else burrow in the earth, and from that spring up
like the stones thrown by Deucalion and Pyrrha into harvests of feud,
into armies of self-exterminating foes. Poor child! immortal child!
Slight were thy trespasses on this earth, heavy was thy punishment, and
it is to be hoped, nay, it is certain, that this disproportion did not
escape the eye which, in the algebra of human actions, estimates _both_
sides of the equation.

Lord Byron was of opinion that people abused Horace Walpole for several
sinister reasons, of which the first is represented to be that he was a
gentleman. Now, I, on the contrary, am of opinion that he was _not_
always a gentleman, as particularly seen in his correspondence with
Chatterton. On the other hand, it is but just to recollect that in
retaining Chatterton's MSS. (otherwise an unfeeling act, yet chiefly
imputable to indolence), the worst aggravation of the case under the
poor boy's construction, viz., that if Walpole had not known his low
rank 'he would not have dared to treat him in that way,' though a very
natural feeling, was really an unfounded one. Horace Walpole (I call him
so, because he was not _then_ Lord Orford) certainly had not been aware
that Chatterton was other than a gentleman by birth and station. The
natural dignity of the boy, which had not condescended to any degrading
applications, misled this practised man of the world. But recurring to
Lord Byron's insinuations as to a systematic design of running Lord
Orford down, I beg to say that I am no party to any such design. It is
not likely that a furious Conservative like myself, who have the
misfortune also to be the most bigoted of Tories, would be so. I
disclaim all participation in any clamour against Lord Orford which may
have arisen on democratic feeling. Feeling the profoundest pity for the
'marvellous boy' of Bristol, and even love, if it be possible to feel
love for one who was in his unhonoured grave before I was born, I resent
the conduct of Lord Orford, in this one instance, as universally the
English public has resented it. But generally, as a writer, I admire
Lord Orford in a very high degree. As a letter-writer, and as a
brilliant sketcher of social aspects and situations, he is far superior
to any French author who could possibly be named as a competitor. And as
a writer of personal or anecdotic history, let the reader turn to
Voltaire's 'Siècle de Louis Quatorze,' in order to appreciate his
extraordinary merit.

       *       *       *       *       *

Next will occur to the reader the forgery of 'Junius.' Who did _that_?
Oh, villains that have ever doubted since '"Junius" Identified'! Oh,
scamps--oh, pitiful scamps! You, reader, perhaps belong to this wretched
corps. But, if so, understand that you belong to it under false
information. I have heard myriads talk upon this subject. One man said
to me, 'My dear friend, I sympathize with your fury. You are right.
Righter a man cannot be. Rightest of all men you are.' I was
right--righter--rightest! That had happened to few men. But again this
flattering man went on, 'Yes, my excellent friend, right you are, and
evidently Sir Philip Francis was the man. His backer proved it. The day
after his book appeared, if any man had offered me exactly two thousand
to one in guineas, that Sir Philip was _not_ the man, by Jupiter! I
would have declined the bet. So divine, so exquisite, so Grecian in its
perfection, was the demonstration, the _apodeixis_ (or what do you call
it in Greek?), that this brilliant Sir Philip--who, by the way, wore
_his_ order of the Bath as universally as ever he taxed Sir William
Draper with doing--had been the author of "Junius." But here lay the
perplexity of the matter. At the least five-and-twenty excellent men
proved by posthumous friends that they, every mother's son of them, had
also perpetrated "Junius."' 'Then they were liars,' I answered. 'Oh no,
my right friend,' he interrupted, 'not liars at all; amiable men, some
of whom confessed on their death-beds (three to my certain knowledge)
that, alas! they had erred against the law of charity. "_But how?_" said
the clergyman. "Why, by that infernal magazine of sneers and all
uncharitableness, the 'Letters of Junius.'" "Let me understand you,"
said the clergyman: "you wrote 'Junius'?" "Alas! I did," replied A. Two
years after another clergyman said to another penitent, "And so you
wrote 'Junius'?" "Too true, my dear sir. Alas! I did," replied B. One
year later a third penitent was going off, and upon the clergyman
saying, "Bless me, is it possible? Did _you_ write 'Junius'?" he
replied, "Ah, worshipful sir, you touch a painful chord in my
remembrances--I now wish I had not. Alas! reverend sir, I did." Now, you
see,' went on my friend, 'so many men at the New Drop, as you may say,
having with tears and groans taxed themselves with "Junius" as the
climax of their offences, one begins to think that perhaps _all_ men
wrote "Junius."' Well, so far there was reason. But when my friend
contended also that the proofs arrayed in pamphlets proved the whole
alphabet to have written 'Junius,' I could not stand his absurdities.
Death-bed confessions, I admitted, were strong. But as to these wretched
pamphlets, some time or other I will muster them all for a field-day; I
will brigade them, as if the general of the district were coming to
review them; and then, if I do not mow them down to the last man by
opening a treacherous battery of grape-shot, may all my household die
under a fiercer Junius! The true reasons why any man fancies that
'Junius' is an open question must be these three:

First, that they have never read the proofs arrayed against Sir Philip
Francis; this is the general case.

Secondly, that, according to Sancho's proverb, they want better bread
than is made of wheat. They are not content with proofs or absolute
demonstrations. They require you, like the witch of Endor, to raise Sir
Philip from the grave, that they may cross-examine him.

Thirdly (and this is the fault of the able writer who unmasked Sir
Philip), there happened to be the strongest argument that ever picked a
Bramah-lock against the unknown writer of 'Junius'; apply this, and if
it fits the wards, oh, Gemini! my dear friend, but you are
right--righter--rightest; you have caught 'Junius' in a rabbit-snare.


[18] 'Six thousand per annum,' viz., on the authority of his own
confession to Pinkerton.

     EDITOR'S NOTE.--De Quincey is guilty of a slight lapse of memory in
     reference to 'The Castle of Otranto' and Onuphrio Muralto. It was
     not in the first sentence of the preface, but on the title-page,
     that Walpole so plainly attributed the work to another. The
     _original_ title-page, which, of course, was dropped out when it
     became known to all the world that Walpole was the author, read
     thus: 'The Castle of Otranto: a Story. Translated by William
     Marshall, Gent. From the original Italian of Onuphrio Muralto,
     Canon of the Church of St. Nicholas, at Otranto. London: printed
     for Thomas Lownds, in Fleet Street. 1765.'


With a single view to the _intellectual_ pretensions of Mr. O'Connell,
let us turn to his latest General Epistle, dated from 'Conciliation
Hall,' on the last day of October. This is no random, or (to use a
pedantic term) _perfunctory_ document; not a document is this to which
indulgence is due. By its subject, not less than by its address, it
stands forth audaciously as a deliberate, as a solemn, as a national
state paper; for its subject is the future political condition of
Ireland under the assumption of Repeal; for its address is, 'To the
People of Ireland.' So placing himself, a writer has it not within his
choice to play the fool; it is not within his competence to tumble or
'come aloft' or play antics as a mountebank; his theme binds him to
decency, his audience to gravity. Speaking, though it be but by the
windiest of fictions, to a nation, is not a man pledged to respectful
language? speaking, though it is but by a chimera as wild as Repeal to a
question of national welfare, a man is pledged to sincerity. Had he
seven devils of mockery and banter within him, for that hour he must
silence them all. The foul fiend must be rebuked, though it were Mahu
and Bohu who should prompt him to buffoonery, when standing at the bar
of nations.

This is the law, this the condition, under which Mr. O'Connell was
speaking when he issued that recent address. Given such a case, similar
circumstances presupposed, he could not evade the obligations which they
impose. From such obligations there is no dispensation to be bought--no,
not at Rome; from the obligations observe, and those obligations, we
repeat, are--sincerity in the first place, and respectful or deferential
language in the second. Such were the duties; now let us look to the
performance. And that we may judge of _that_ with more advantage for
searching and appraising the qualities of this document, permit us to
suggest three separate questions, the first being this: What was the
occasion of the Address? Secondly, what was its ostensible object?
Thirdly, what are the arguments by which, as its means, the paper
travels towards that object?

First, as to the _occasion_ of the Address. We have said that the date,
viz., the 31st of October, is falsified. It was _not_ dated on the 31st
of October, but on or about the seventh day of November. Even that
falsehood, though at first sight trivial, is enough for suspicion. If X,
a known liar, utters a lie at starting, it is not for him to plead in
mitigation the apparent uselessness of the lie, it is for us to presume
out of the fact a use, where the fact exists. A leader in the French
Revolution protested often against bloodshed and other atrocities--not
as being too bad, but, on the contrary, as being too good, too precious
to be wasted upon ordinary occasions. And, on the same principle, we may
be sure that any habitual liar, who has long found the benefit of
falsehoods at his utmost need, will have formed too profound a reverence
for this powerful resource in a moment of perplexity ever to throw away
a falsehood, or to squander upon a caprice of the moment that lie which,
being seasonably employed, might have saved him from confusion. The
artist in lying is not the man to lie gratuitously. From the first,
therefore, satisfied ourselves that there was a lurking motive--the key
to this falsification of date--we paused to search it out. In that we
found little difficulty. For what was the professed object of this
Address? It was to meet and to overthrow two notions here represented as
great popular errors. But why at this time? Wherefore all this heat at
the present moment? Grant that the propositions denounced as erroneous
_were_ so in very deed, why should criminals standing under the shadow
of public vengeance ready to descend, so childishly misuse the interval,
mercifully allowed for their own defence, in reading lectures upon
abstract political speculations, confessedly bearing no relation to any
militant interest now in question? Quite as impertinent it would be,
when called upon for the answer upon 'Guilty or not Guilty?' to read a
section from the Council of Trent, or a rescript from Cardinal
Bellarmine. Yet the more extravagant was the logic of this proceeding,
the more urgent became the presumption of a covert motive, and that
motive we soon saw to be this. Let the reader weigh it, and the good
sense of the man who at such a moment could suffer such a motive to
prevail. Thus it is: when Clontarf was intercepted, and implicitly,
though not formally, all similar meetings were by that one act for ever
prohibited, the first days of terror were naturally occupied with the
panic of the conspirators, and in providing for their personal terrors.
But when the dust of this great uproar began to settle, and objects
again became distinguishable in natural daylight, the first consequence
which struck the affrighted men of the conspiracy was the chilling
effect of the Government policy upon the O'Connell rent; not the weekly
rent, applied nobody knows how, but the annual rent applied to Mr.
O'Connell's _private_ benefit. This was in jeopardy, and on the
following argument: Originally this rent had been levied as a
compensation to Mr. O'Connell in his character of Irish barrister--not
for services rendered or _to be_ rendered, but for current services
continually being rendered in Parliament from session to session, for
expenses incident to that kind of duty, and also as an indemnification
for the consequent loss of fees at the Irish Bar. Yet now, in 1843,
having ceased to attend his duty in Parliament, Mr. O'Connell could no
longer claim in that senatorial character. Such a pretension would be
too gross for the understanding even of a Connaught peasant. And in
_that_ there was a great loss. For the allegation of a Parliamentary
warfare, under the vague idea of pushing forward good bills for Ireland,
or retarding bad ones, had been a pleasant and easy labour to the parish
priests. It was not necessary to horsewhip[19] their flocks too
severely. If all was not clear to 'my children's' understanding, at
least my children had no mutinous demur in a positive shape ready for
service. Recusants there were, and sturdy ones, but they could put no
face on their guilt, and their sin was not contagious. Unhappily, from
this indefinite condition of merit Mr. O'Connell himself had translated
his claim to a very distinct one founded upon a clear, known, absolute
attempt to coerce the Government into passive collusion with prospective
treason. This attempt, said the peasantry, will the Government stand, or
will it not? 'Why, then,' replied the Government, on the 17th of
October, 'we will _not_.'

The aristocracy of Ireland may not have done their duty as regards the
Repeal; it is too certain that they have not, because they have done
nothing at all. But it is also certain that their very uttermost would
have been unavailing for one principal object concerned. Other great
objects, however, might have been attained. Foreign nations might have
been disabused of their silly delusions on the Irish relations to
England, although the Irish peasantry could _not_. The monstrous
impression also upon many English and Scotch parties, that a general
unity of sentiment prevailed in Ireland as to the desirableness of an
independent Parliament--this, this, we say loudly, would have been
dissipated, had every Irish county met by its gentry disavowing and
abominating all sentiments tending towards a purpose so guilty as
political disunion. Yet, in palliation of this most grievous failure,
we, in the spirit of perfect candour, will remind our readers of the
depressing effect too often attending one flagrant wound in any system
of power or means. Let a man lose by a sudden blow--by fire, by
shipwreck, or by commercial failure--a sum of twenty thousand pounds,
that being four-fifths of his entire property, how often it is found
that mere dejection of mind will incapacitate him from looking
cheerfully after the remaining fifth! And this though it is now become
far more essential to his welfare; and, secondly, upon a motion
tending upwards and not downwards, he would have regarded five
thousand pounds as a precious treasure worthy of his efforts, whether
for protection or for improvement. Something analogous to this weighs
down the hearty exertions of the Irish gentry. Met at the very
threshold, affronted at starting, by this insufferable tyranny of
priestly interference--humiliated and stung to the heart by the
consciousness that those natural influences which everywhere else
settle indefeasibly upon property, are in Ireland intercepted,
filched, violently robbed and pocketed by a body of professional
nuisances sprung almost universally from paupers--thus disinherited of
their primary rights, thus pillaged, thus shorn like Samson of those
natural ornaments in which resided their natural strength, feeling
themselves (like that same Samson in the language of Milton) turned
out to the scorn of their countrymen as 'tame wethers' ridiculously
fleeced and mutilated--they droop, they languish as to all public
spirit; and whilst by temperament, by natural endowment, by continual
intercourse with the noble aristocracy of Britain (from whom also they
are chiefly descended), they _should_ be amongst the leading
chivalries of Europe, in very fact they are, for political or social
purposes, the most powerless gentry in existence. Acting in a
corporate capacity, they can do nothing. The malignant planet of this
low-born priesthood comes between them and the peasantry, eclipsing
oftentimes the sunshine of their comprehensive beneficence, and
_always_ destroying their power to discountenance[20] evil-doers. Here
is the sad excuse. But, for all that, we must affirm that, if the
Irish landed gentry do not yet come forward to retrieve the ground
which they have forfeited by inertia, history will record them as
passive colluders with the Dublin repealers. The evil is so
operatively deep, looking backward or forward, that we have purposely
brought it forward in a second aspect, viz., as contrasted with the
London press. For the one, as we have been showing, there is a strong
plea in palliation; for the other there is none.

Let us be frank. This is what we affirm, that it was, it is, it will be
hereafter, within the powers of the London press to have extinguished
the Repeal or any similar agitation; they could have done this, and this
they have _not_ done. But let us also not be misunderstood. Do we say
this in a spirit of disrespect? Are we amongst the parties who (when
characterizing the American press) infamously say, 'Let us, however,
look homewards to our own press, and be silent for very shame'? Are we
the people to join the vicious correspondent of an evening paper whom
but a week ago we saw denouncing the editor of the _Examiner_ newspaper
as a public nuisance, and recommending him as a fit subject of some
degrading punishment, for no better reason than that he had exercised
his undoubted right of exposing delinquencies or follies in a garrulous
lord? Far be such vilenesses from us. We honour the press of this
country. We know its constitution, and we know the mere impossibility
(were it only from the great capital required) that any but men of
honour and sensibilities and conspicuous talent, and men brilliantly
accomplished in point of education, should become writers or editors of
a _leading_ journal, or indeed of any daily journal. Here and there may
float _in gurgite vasto_ some atrocious paper lending itself upon system
to the villainies of private slander. But such a paper is sure to be an
inconsiderable one in the mere sense of property, and therefore,
by a logical consequence in our frame of society, _every_ way
inconsiderable--rising without effort, sinking without notice. In fact,
the whole staff and establishment of newspapers have risen in social
consideration within our own generation; and at this moment not merely
proprietors and editors, but reporters and other ministerial agents to
these vast engines of civility, have all ascended in their superior
orders to the highest levels of authentic responsibility.

We make these acknowledgments in the mere spirit of equity, and because
we disdain to be confounded with those rash persons who talk glibly of a
'licentious press' through their own licentious ignorance. Than
ignorance nothing is so licentious for rash saying or for obstinate
denying. The British press is _not_ licentious; neither in London nor in
Edinburgh is it ever licentious; and there is much need that it should
be otherwise, having at this time so unlimited a power over the public
mind. But the very uprightness of the leading journalists, and all the
other elements of their power, do but constitute the evil, do but
aggravate the mischief, where they happen to go astray; yes, in every
case where these journalists miss the narrow path of thoughtful
prudence. They _do_ miss it occasionally; they must miss it; and we
contend that they _have_ missed it at present. What they have done that
they ought _not_ to have done. Currency, buoyancy, they ought _not_ to
have impressed upon sedition, upon conspiracy, upon treason. Currency,
buoyancy, they _have_ impressed upon sedition, upon conspiracy, upon

As to Mr. O'Connell himself, it is useless, and it argues some thick
darkness of mind, to remonstrate or generally to address any arguments
from whatsoever quarter, which either appeal to a sense of truth, which,
secondly, manifest inconsistencies, or, thirdly, which argue therein a
tendency ruinous to himself. Let us think. Burke asserted of himself,
and to our belief truly, that having at different periods set his face
in different directions--now to the east, now to the west, now pointing
to purposes of relaxation or liberality, now again to purposes of
coercive and popular restraint--he had notwithstanding been uniform, if
measured upon a higher scale. Transcending objects, coinciding neither
instantly with the first, nor except by accident with the last, but
indifferently aided by aristocratic forces or by democratic, shifting
weights which sometimes called for accessories of gravity, sometimes for
subtraction, mighty fluctuating wheels which sometimes needed flywheels
to moderate or harmonize, sometimes needed concurrent wheels to urge or
aggravate their impetus--these were the powers which he had found
himself summoned to calculate, to check, to support, the vast algebraic
equation of government; for this he had strengthened substantially by
apparent contrarieties of policy; and in a system of watch-work so
exquisite as to vary its fine balances eternally, eternally he had
consulted by redressing the errors emergent, by varying the poise in
order that he might _not_ vary the equipoise, by correcting
inequalities, or by forestalling extremes. That was a man of heroic
build, and of him it might be said at his death, 'Truly this man was a
son of Anak.' Now, of Mr. O'Connell a man might affirm something
similar; that as with regard to Edmund Burke it is altogether useless to
detect contradictions in form, seeing that he knows of this, that he
justifies this, glories in this, vehemently demands praise for this
contradiction, as all discord is harmony not understood, planned in the
letter and overruled in the spirit; so may O'Connell say, 'Gentlemen,
grubs, reptiles, vermin, trouble not yourselves to find out
contradictions or discords in my conduct; vex not your slender faculties
by arraying hosts of promises that defeat promises, or principles that
destroy principles--you shall not need to labour; I will make you a
present of three huge canisters laden and running over with the flattest
denials in one breath of that which I affirmed in another. But, like
Edmund Burke, I register my conduct by another table and by its final
result. On the dial which you see, the hands point thus and thus; but
upon a higher and transcendent dial these fingers do but precipitate or
retard one gigantic hand, pointing always and monotonously to the unity
of a perfect selfishness. The everlasting tacking in my course gives me
often the air of retrograding and losing; but, in fact, these
retrogressions are momentary, these losings of my object are no more
than seeming, are still but the same stealthy creeping up under cover of
frequent compliances with the breeze that happens to thwart me, towards
the one eternal pole of my own self-interest; that is the pole-star
which only never sets, and I flatter myself that amidst vast apparent
wanderings or multiplied divergences there will be detected by the eye
of the philosopher a consistency in family objects which is absolute, a
divine unity of selfishness.'

This we do not question. But to will is not to do; and Mr. O'Connell,
with a true loyalty to his one object of private aims, has _not_
maintained the consistency of his policy. All men know that he has
adventured within the limits of conspiracy; that could not be for his
benefit. He has touched even the dark penumbra of treason; that could
not but risk the sum of his other strivings. But he who has failed for
himself in a strife so absolute, for that only must be distrusted by
his countrymen.


[19] 'To horsewhip,' etc. Let it not be said that this is any slander of
ours; would that we could pronounce it a slander! But those who (like
ourselves) have visited Ireland extensively know that the parish priest
uses a horsewhip, in many circumstances, as his professional _insigne_.

[20] Look at Lord Waterford's case, in the very month of November, 1843.
Is there a county in all England that would have tamely witnessed his
expulsion from amongst them by fire, and by sword and by poison?

     NOTE BY THE EDITOR.--This article on O'Connell, written in the end
     of 1843, is printed, not on account of any political reference it
     might be presumed to have, but only because of its historical and
     literary interest. Apart from the light it may throw on De
     Quincey's leanings, as, in certain respects, distinctly in the
     direction of patriotic Toryism of the most rampant type, it may be
     of value as suggesting how essentially, in not a few points, the
     Irish question to-day remains precisely as it was in the time of
     O'Connell; and how the Tories of to-day are apt to view it from
     precisely the same plane as those of 1843. It might also be cited
     as another proof not only of De Quincey's very keen interest in all
     the leading questions of the time, but as an illustration of the
     John Bull warmth and heat which he, the dreamer, the recluse, the
     lover of abstract problems, could bring into such discussions.
     Here, at all events, his views were definite enough, and stated
     with a bold precision of English plainness that would have pleased
     the most pronouncedly Tory or Unionist newspaper editors of that


To speak in the simplicity of truth, caring not for party or partisan,
is not the France of this day, the France which has issued from that
great furnace of the Revolution, a better, happier, more hopeful France
than the France of 1788? Allowing for any evil, present or reversionary,
in the political aspects of France, that may yet give cause for anxiety,
can a wise man deny that from the France of 1840, under Louis Philippe
of Orleans, ascends to heaven a report of far happier days from the sons
and daughters of poverty than from the France of Louis XVI.? Personally
that sixteenth Louis was a good king, sorrowing for the abuses in the
land, and willing (at least, after affliction had sharpened his
reflecting conscience), had that choice been allowed him, to have
redeemed them by any personal sacrifice. But that was not possible.
Centuries of misrule are not ransomed by an individual ruin; and had it
been possible that the dark genius of his family, the same who once
tolled funeral knells in the ears of the first Bourbon, and called him
out as a martyr hurrying to meet his own sacrifice--could we suppose
this gloomy representative of his family destinies to have met him in
some solitary apartment of the Tuileries or Versailles, some twilight
gallery of ancestral portraits, he could have met him with the purpose
of raising the curtain from before the long series of his household
woes--from him the king would have learned that no personal ransom could
be accepted for misgovernment so ancient. Leviathan is not so tamed.
Arrears so vast imply a corresponding accountability, corresponding by
its amount, corresponding by its personal subjects. Crown and
people--all had erred; all must suffer. Blood must flow, tears must be
shed through a generation; rivers of lustration must be thrown through
that Augean accumulation of guilt.

And exactly there, it is supposed, lay the error of Burke; the compass
of the penalty, the arch which it traversed, must bear some proportion
to that of the evil which had produced it.

When I referred to the dark genius of the family who once tolled funeral
knells in the ears of the first Bourbon, I meant, of course, the first
who sat upon the throne of France, viz., Henri Quatre. The allusion is
to the last hours of Henry's life, to the remarkable prophecies which
foreran his death, to their remarkable fulfilment, and (what is more
remarkable than all beside) to his self-surrender, in the spirit of an
unresisting victim, to a bloody fate which he regarded as inexorably
doomed. This king was not the good prince whom the French hold out to
us; not even the accomplished, the chivalrous, the elevated prince to
whom history points for one of her models. French and ultra-French must
have been the ideal of the good or the noble to which he could have
approximated in the estimate of the most thoughtless. He had that sort
of military courage which was, and is, more common than weeds. In all
else he was a low-minded man, vulgar in his thoughts, most unprincely in
his habits. He was even worse than that: wicked, brutal, sensually
cruel. And his wicked minister, Sully, than whom a more servile mind
never existed, illustrates in one passage his own character and his
master's by the apology which he offers for Henry's having notoriously
left many illegitimate children to perish of hunger, together with their
too-confiding mothers. What? That in the pressure of business he really
forgot them. Famine mocked at last the deadliest offence. His own
innocent children, up and down France, because they were illegitimate,
their too-confiding mothers, because they were weak and friendless by
having for his sake forfeited the favour of God and man, this amiable
king had left to perish of hunger. They _did_ perish; mother and infant.
A cry ascended against the king. Even in sensual France such atrocities
could not utterly sink to the ground. But what says the apologetic
minister? Astonished that anybody could think of abridging a king's
license in such particulars, he brushes away the whole charge as so much
ungentlemanly impertinence, disdaining any further plea than the
pressure of business, which so naturally accounted for the royal
inattention or forgetfulness in these little affairs. Observe that this
pressure of business never was such that the king could not find time
for pursuing these intrigues and multiplying these reversions of woe.
What enormities! A king (at all times of Navarre, and for half his life
of France) suffers his children to die of hunger, consigns their mothers
to the same fate, but aggravated by remorse and by the spectacle of
their perishing infants! These clamours could not penetrate to the
Louvre, but they penetrated to a higher court, and were written in books
from which there is no erasure allowed. So much for the vaunted
'generosity' of Henry IV. As to another feature of the chivalrous
character, elegance of manners, let the reader consult the report of an
English ambassador, a man of honour and a gentleman, Sir George Carew.
It was published about the middle of the last century by the
indefatigable Birch, to whom our historic literature is so much
indebted, and it proves sufficiently that this idol of Frenchmen allowed
himself in habits so coarse as to disgust the most creeping of his own
courtiers; such that even the blackguards of a manly nation would revolt
from them as foul and self-dishonouring. Deep and permanent is the
mischief wrought in a nation by false models; and corresponding is the
impression, immortal the benefit, from good ones. The English people
have been the better for their Alfred, that pathetic ideal of a good
king, through a space of now nearly a thousand years. The French are the
worse to this hour in consequence of Francis I. and Henry IV. And note
this, that even the spurious merit of the two French models can be
sustained only by disguises, by suppressions, by elaborate varnishings;
whereas the English prince is offered to our admiration with a
Scriptural simplicity and a Scriptural fidelity, not as some gay legend
of romance, some Telemachus of Fénelon, but as one who had erred,
suffered, and had been purified; as a shepherd that had gone astray, and
saw that through his transgressions the flock also had been scattered.


Two facts on which a sound estimate of the Roman corn-trade depends are
these: first, the very important one, that it was not Rome in the sense
of the Italian peninsula which relied upon foreign corn, but in the
narrowest sense Rome the city; as respected what we now call Lombardy,
Florence, Genoa, etc., Rome did not disturb the ancient agriculture. The
other fact offers, perhaps, a still more important consideration. Rome
was latterly a most populous city--we are disposed to agree with
Lipsius, that it was four times as populous as most moderns esteem--most
certainly it bore a higher ratio to the total Italy than any other
capital (even London) has since borne to the territory over which it
presided. Consequently it will be argued that in such a ratio must the
foreign importations of Rome, even in the limited sense of Rome the
city, have operated more destructively upon the domestic agriculture.
Grant that not Italy, but Rome, was the main importer of foreign grain,
still, if Rome to all Italy were as one to four in population, which
there is good reason to believe it was, then even upon that distinction
it will be insisted that the Roman importation crushed one-fourth of the
native agriculture. Now, this we deny. Some part of the African and
Egyptian grain was but a substitution for the Sardinian, and so far made
no difference to Italy in ploughs, but only in _denarii_. But the main
consideration of all is, that the Italian grain was not withdrawn from
the vast population of Rome--this is _not_ the logic of the case--no; on
the contrary, the vast population of Rome arose and supervened as a
consequence upon the opening of the foreign Alexandrian corn trade. It
was not Rome that quirted the home agriculture. Rome, in the full sense,
never would have existed without foreign supplies. If, therefore, Rome,
by means of foreign grain, rose from four hundred thousand heads to four
millions, then it follows that (except as to the original demand for the
four hundred thousand) not one plough was disused in Italy that ever had
been used. Whilst, even with regard to the original demand of the four
hundred thousand, by so much of the Egyptian grain as had been a mere
substitution for Sardinian no effect whatever could have followed to
Italian agriculture.

Here, therefore, we see the many limitations which arise to the modern
doctrine upon the destructive agricultural consequences of the Roman
corn trade. Rome may have prevented the Italian agriculture from
expanding, but she could not have caused it to decline.[21] Now, let us
see how far this Roman corn trade affected the Roman recruiting service.
It is alleged that agriculture declined under the foreign corn trade,
and that for this reason ploughmen declined. But if we have shown cause
for doubting whether agriculture declined, or only did not increase,
then we are at liberty to infer that ploughmen did not decline, but only
did not increase. Even of the real and not imaginary ploughmen at any
time possessed by Italy, too many in the south were slaves, and
therefore ineligible for the legionary service, except in desperate
intestine struggles like the Social war or the Servile. Rome could not
lose for her recruiting service any ploughmen but those whom she had
really possessed; nor out of those whom really she possessed any that
were slaves; nor out of those whom (not being slaves) she _might_ have
used for soldiers could it be said that she was liable to any absolute
loss except as to those whom ordinarily she _did_ use as soldiers, and
preferred to use in circumstances of free choice.

These points premised, we go on to say that no craze current amongst
learned men has more deeply disturbed the truth of history than the
notion that 'Marsi' and 'Peligni,' or other big-boned Italian rustics,
ever by choice constituted the general or even the favourite recruiting
fund of the Roman republic. In thousands of books we have seen it
asserted or assumed that the Romans triumphed so extensively chiefly
because their armies were composed of Roman or kindred blood. This is
false. Not the material, but the military system, of the Romans was the
true key to their astonishing successes. In the time of Hannibal a Roman
consul relied chiefly, it is true, upon Italian recruits, because he
could seldom look for men of other blood. And it is possible enough that
the same man, Fabius or Marcellus, if he had been sent abroad as a
proconsul, might find his choice even then in what formerly had been his
necessity. In some respects it is probable that the Italian rustic of
true Italian blood was at that period the best raw material[22] easily
procured for the legionary soldier. But circumstances altered; as the
range of war expanded to the East it became far too costly to recruit in
Italy; nor, if it had been less costly, could Italy have supplied the
waste. Above all, with the advantages of the Roman military system, no
particular physical material was required for making good soldiers. For
these reasons it was that, after the Levant was permanently occupied by
the Romans, where any legion had been originally stationed _there_ it
continued to be stationed, and _there_ it was recruited, and, unless in
some rare emergency of a critical war arising at a distance, _there_ it
was so continually recruited, that in the lapse of a generation it
contained hardly any Roman or Italian blood in its composition, like the
Attic ship which had been repaired with cedar until it retained no
fragment of its original oak. Thus, the legion stationed at Antioch
became entirely Syrian; that stationed at Alexandria, Grecian, Jewish,
and, in a separate sense, Alexandrine. Cæsar, it is notorious, raised
one entire legion of Gauls (distinguished by the cognizance upon the
helmet of the _lark_, whence commonly called the legion of the
_Alauda_). But he recruited all his legions in Gaul. In Spain the armies
of Assanius and Petreius, who surrendered to Cæsar under a convention,
consisted chiefly of Spaniards (not _Hispanienses_, or Romans born in
Spain, but _Hispani_, Spaniards by blood); at Pharsalia a large part of
Cæsar's army were Gauls, and of Pompey's it is well known that many even
amongst the legions contained no Europeans at all, but (as Cæsar
seasonably reminded his army) consisted of vagabonds from every part of
the East. From all this we argue that _S.P.Q.R._ did not depend latterly
upon native recruiting. And, in fact, they did not need to do so; their
system and discipline would have made good soldiers out of mop-handles,
if (like Lucian's magical mop-handles) they could only have learned to
march and to fill buckets with water at the word of command.

We see, too, the secret power and also the secret political wisdom of
Christianity in another instance. Those public largesses of grain,
which, in old Rome, commenced upon principles of ambition and of
factious encouragement to partisans, in the new Rome of Constantinople
were propagated for ages under the novel motive of Christian charity to
paupers. This practice has been condemned by the whole chorus of
historians who fancy that from this cause the domestic agriculture
languished, and that a bounty was given upon pauperism. But these are
reveries of literary men. That particular section of rural industry
which languished in Italy, did so by a reaction from _rent_ in the
severe modern sense. The grain imported from Sardinia, from Africa the
province, and from Egypt, was grown upon soils less costly, because with
equal cost more productive. The effect upon Italy from bringing back
any considerable portion of this provincial corn-growth[23] to her
domestic districts would have been suddenly to develop rent upon a large
series of evils, and to load the provincial grain as well as the
home-grown--the cheap provincial as well as the dear home-grown--with
the whole difference of these new costs. Neither is the policy of the
case at all analogous to our own at the moment. In three circumstances
it differs essentially:

First, provinces are not foreigners; colonies are not enemies. An exotic
corn-trade could not for Rome do the two great injuries which assuredly
it would do for England; it could not transfer the machinery of opulence
to a hostile and rival state; it could not invest a jealous competitor
with power suddenly to cut off supplies that had grown into a necessity,
and thus to create in one month a famine or an insurrection. Egypt had
neither the power nor any prospect of the power to act as an independent
state towards Rome; the transfer to Egypt of the Roman agriculture,
supposing it to have been greater than it really was, could have
operated but like a transfer from Norfolk to Yorkshire.

Secondly, as respected Italy, the foreign grain _did not enter the same
markets as the native_. Either one or the other would have lost its
advantage, and the natural bounty which it enjoyed from circumstances,
by doing so. Consequently the evils of an artificial scale, where grain
raised under one set of circumstances fixes or modifies the price for
grain raised under a different set of circumstances, were unknown in the
Italian markets. But these evils by a special machinery, viz., the
machinery of good and bad seasons, are aggravated for a modern state
intensely, whenever she depends too much upon alien stores; and
specifically they are aggravated by the fact that both grains _enter the
same market_, so that the one by too high a price is encouraged
unreasonably, the other by the same price (too low for opposite
circumstances) is depressed ruinously as regards coming years; whence in
the end two sets of disturbances--one set frequently from the _present_
seasons, and a second set from the way in which these are made to act
upon the _future_ markets.

Thirdly, the Roman corn-trade did not of necessity affect her military
service injuriously, and for this reason, that rural economy did not of
necessity languish because agriculture languished locally; some other
culture, as of vineyards, _oliveta_, orchards, pastures, replaced the
declining culture of grain; if ploughmen were fewer, other labourers
were more. It is forgotten, besides, that the decline of Italian
agriculture, never more than local, was exceedingly gradual; for two
hundred and fifty years before the Christian era Italy never _had_
depended exclusively upon herself. Sardinia and Sicily, at her own
doors, were her granaries; consequently the change never _had_ been that
abrupt change which modern writers imagine.

But let us indulge in the luxury of confirming what we have said by the
light of contrast. Suppose the circumstances changed, suppose them
reversed, and then all those evil consequence sought to take effect
which in the case of Rome we have denied. Now, it happened that they
_were_ reversed; not, indeed, for Rome, who had been herself ruined as
metropolis of the West before the effects of a foreign corn-dependence
could unfold themselves, but for her daughter and rival in the East.
Early in the seventh century, near to the very crisis of the Hegira
(which dates from the Christian year 622), Constantinople, Eastern Rome,
suddenly became acquainted with the panic of famine. In one hour perhaps
this change fell upon the imperial city, and, but for the imperial
granaries, not the panic of famine, but famine itself, would have
surprised the imperial city; for the suddenness of the calamity would
have allowed no means of searching out or raising up a relief to it. At
that time the greatest man who ever occupied the chair of the Eastern
Cæsars, viz., Heraclius,[24] was at the head of affairs. But the
perplexity was such that no man could face it. On the one hand
Constantine, the founder of this junior Rome, had settled upon the
houses of the city a claim for a weekly _dimensum_ of grain. Upon this
they relied; so that doubly the Government stood pledged--first, for the
importation of corn that should be sufficient; secondly, for its
distribution upon terms as near to those of Constantine as possible.
But, on the other hand, Persia (the one great stationary enemy of the
empire) had in the year 618 suddenly overrun Egypt; grain became
deficient on the banks of the Nile--had it even been plentiful, to so
detested an enemy it would have been denied--and thus, without a month's
warning, the supply, which had not failed since the inauguration of the
city in 330, ceased in one week. The people of this mighty city were
pressed by the heaviest of afflictions. The emperor, under false
expectations, was tempted into making engagements which he could not
keep; the Government, at a period which otherwise and for many years to
come was one of awful crisis, became partially insolvent; the shepherd
was dishonoured, the flocks were ruined; and had that Persian armament
which about ten years later laid siege to Constantinople then stood at
her gates, the Cross would have been trampled on by the fire-worshipping
idolater, and the barbarous Avar would have desolated the walls of the
glorified Cæsar who first saw Christ marching in the van of Roman
armies. Such an iliad of woes would have expanded itself _seriatim_, and
by a long procession, from the one original mischief of depending for
daily bread upon those who might suddenly become enemies or tools of
enemies. England! read in the distress of that great Cæsar,[25] who may
with propriety be called the earliest (as he was the most prosperous) of
Crusaders, read in the internal struggle of his heart--too conscious
that dishonour had settled upon his purple--read in the degradations
which he traversed as some fiery furnace (yet not unsinged), the
inevitable curses which await nations who sacrifice, for a momentary
convenience of bread, sacrifice for a loaf, the charter of their
supremacy! This is literally to fulfil the Scriptural case of selling a
birthright for a mess of pottage.

For England we may say of this case--_Transeat in exemplum!_

Great Britain, on the contrary, is limited in her recruiting-grounds by
modern political relations as respects Europe: she _has_ formed an
excellent foreign corps long ago in the Mediterranean; a Hessian corps
in America; an admirable Hanoverian legion during the late war. But
circumstances too often prevent her relying (as the Romans did) on the
perfection of her military _system_ so far as to dispense with native
materials; except, indeed, in the East, where the Roman principle is
carried out to the widest extent, needing only one-tenth of British by
way of model and inspiration under circumstances of peculiar trial! In
African stations also, in the West Indies and on the American continent
(as in Honduras), England proceeds (though insufficiently) upon this
fine Roman principle, making her theory, her discipline, and the network
of her rules do the work of her own too costly hands. She, like Rome,
finds the benefit of her fine system chiefly in the dispensation which
it facilitates from working with any exhaustible fund of means.
Excellent must be that workmanship which can afford to be careless about
its materials; yet still--where naturally and essentially it must be
said that _materiem superabat opus_, because one section of our martial
service moves by nautical soldiers, and with respect to the other half
because it is necessary to meet European troops by men of British
blood--we cannot, for European purposes, look to any other districts
than our own native _officinæ_ of population. The Life Guards (1st
regiment) and the Blues (2nd) recruit chiefly, or did so thirty years
ago, in Yorkshire. This is a manufacturing county, though in a mode of
manufacturing which escapes many evils of the factory system. And
generally we are little disposed pedantically to disparage towns as
funds of a good soldiery. Men of mighty bone and thews, sons of Anak, to
our own certain knowledge, arise in Kendal, Wakefield, Bradford and
Leeds; huge men, by thousands, amongst the spinners and weavers of
Glasgow, Paisley, etc., well able to fight their way through battalions
of clod-hoppers whose talk is of oxen. But, unless in times subject to
special distress, it is not so easy to tempt away the weaver from his
loom as the delver from his spade. We believe the reason to be, that the
monotony of a rustic life is more oppressive to those who have limited
resources than the corresponding monotony of a town life. For this
reason, and for many others, it is certain--and perhaps (unless we get
to fighting with steam-men) it will continue to be certain through
centuries--that, for the main staple of her armies and her navies,
England must depend upon the quality of her bold peasantry and noble
yeomanry; for we must remember that, of those huge-limbed men who are
found in the six northern counties of England and in the Scottish
Lowlands, of those elegantly-formed men who are found in Devonshire,
Cornwall, etc., of those _hardy_ men (a feature in human physics still
more important) who are found in every district--if many are now
resident in towns, most of them originated in rustic life; and from
rustic life it is that the reservoir of towns is permanently fed. Rome
was, England never will be, independent of her rural population. Rome
never had a yeomanry, Rome never had a race of country gentlemen;
England has both upon a scale so truly noble that it will be the
simplest expression of that nobility to say, pointing to our villages,
'Behold the cradle of our army!' as inversely to say, pointing to that
army: 'Behold the manhood of our villages!' As regards Rome, from the
bisection of the Roman territory into two several corn districts
depending upon a separate agriculture, it results that _her_ wealth
could not be defeated and transferred; secondly, it results from the
total subjection of Egypt, that no embargo _could_ be laid on the
harvests of the Nile, and no famine _could_ be organized against Rome;
thirdly, it results that the Roman military system was thus not liable
to be affected by any dependency upon foreign grain. On the argument
that this dependency had _always_ been proceeding gradually in Italy, so
as virtually to reimburse itself by _vicarious_ culture, whereas in
England the transition from independency to dependency, being
accomplished (if at all) in one day by Act of Parliament, would be
ruinously abrupt; and also on the argument _B_, that Rome, if slowly
losing any recruiting districts at home, found compensatory districts
all round the Mediterranean, whilst England could find no such
compensatory districts--we deny that the circumstances of the Roman corn
trade have _ever_ been stated truly; and we expect the thanks of our
readers for drawing their attention to this outline of the points which
essentially differenced it from the modern corn trade of England.
England must, but Rome could _not_, reap from a foreign corn dependency:
firstly, ruinous disturbance to the natural expansions of her wealth;
secondly, famine by intervals for her vast population; thirdly,
impoverishment to her recruiting service. These are the dreadful evils
(some uniform, some contingent) which England would inherit of her
native agriculture, but which Rome escaped under that partial transfer,
never really accomplished. Meantime, let the reader remember that it is
Rome, and not England--Rome historically, not England politically--which
forms the _object_ of our exposure. England is but the _means_ of the

In our own days wars in their ebbs and flows are but another name for
the resources of the national exchequer, or expressions of its
artificial facilities for turning those resources to account. The great
artifice of anticipation applied to national income--an artifice sure to
follow where civilization has expanded, and which would have arisen to
Rome had her civilization been either (_A_) completely developed, or
(_B_) expanded originally from a true radix--has introduced a new era
into national history. The man who, having had property, invests in the
Funds, and divides between his grandchildren and the five subsequent
generations what will yield them subsistence, is the author of an
expansive improvement which has been enjoyed by all in turn, and with
more fixed assurance in the last case than in the first. He is a public
benefactor in more ways than appears on the surface: he takes the most
efficient guarantees against needless wars.

Captain Jenkins's ears[26] might have been redeemed at a less price; but
still the war taught a lesson, which, if avoidable at that instant, was
certainly blamable; but it had its use in enforcing on other nations the
conviction that England washed out insult with retribution, and for
every drop of blood wantonly spilt demanded an ocean in return. Perhaps
you will say _this_ was no great improvement on the old. No; not in
_appearance_, it may be; but that was because war had to open a field
which mere diplomacy, unsupported by the sword, could not open, and
secured what we may well call a _moral_ result in the eye of the whole
world, which diplomacy could not secure in our guilty Europe. But was
that, you ask, a condition to be contemplated with complete
satisfaction? No; nor is it right that it should. But the dawn of a new
era is approaching, for which that may have done its installment of
preparation. Not that war will cease for many generations, but that it
will continually move more in greater subjection to national laws and
Christian opinion. Nevermore will it be excited by mere court intrigue,
or even by ministerial necessities. No more will a quarrel between two
ladies about a pair of gloves, or a fit of ill-temper in a prince toward
his minister, call forth the dread scourge by way of letting off
personal irritation or redressing the balance of parties.

_Funding_, therefore, was a great step in advance; and even already we
have only to look into the Exchequer in order to read the possibilities,
the ebbs and flows of war beforehand. This consideration of money, it is
true--even as the sinews of war--was not so great in ancient history.
And the reason is evident. Kings did not then go to war _by_ money, but
_for_ money. They did not look into the Exchequer for the means of a
campaign, but they looked into a campaign for the means of an Exchequer.
Yet even in these nations, more of their history, of their doings and
sufferings, lay in their economy than anywhere else. The great Oriental
phantoms, such as the Pharaohs and the Sargons, did, it is true, bring
nations to war without much more care for the commissariat department
than is given in the battles of the Kites and Daws. Yet even there the
political economy made itself felt, obscurely and indirectly it may be,
but really and effectively, acting by laws that varied their force
rather to the eye than to the understanding, and presented indeed a
final restraining force to these kings also. For examine these wars,
fabulous as they are; look into the when, the whence, the how; into the
duration of the campaigns, into their objects, and into the quality of
the troops, into the circumstances under which they were trained and
fought, and this will abundantly appear.

Certainly, the commissariat which we do by foresight, they did by brute
efforts of power; but the leading economical laws which are now clear to
us, and which, with full perception of their inevitable operation, we
take into account, made themselves felt in the last result if only then
blindly realized; and in the fact that these laws are now clearly
apprehended lies the prevailing reason that modern wars must, on the
side alike of the commissariat and of social effects in various
directions, be widely different from war in ancient times.


[21] One pretended proof of a decline is found in the supposed
substitution of slave labour for free Italian labour. This began, it is
urged, on the opening of the Nile corn trade. Unfortunately, that is a
mere romance. Ovid, describing rural appearances in Italy when as yet
the trade was hardly in its infancy, speaks of the rustic labourer as
working in fetters. Juvenal, in an age when the trade had been vastly
expanded, notices the same phenomenon almost in the same terms.

[22] 'The best raw material.' Some people hold that the Romans and
Italians were a cowardly nation. We doubt this on the whole. Physically,
however, they were inferior to their neighbours. It is certain that the
Transalpine Gauls were a conspicuously taller race. Cæsar says: 'Gallis,
præ magnitudine corporum quorum, brevitas nostra contemptui est' ('Bell.
Gall.' 2, 30 _fin_.); and the Germans, in a still higher degree, were
both larger men and every way more powerful. The kites, says Juvenal,
had never feasted on carcases so huge as those of the Cimbri and
Teutones. But this physical superiority, though great for special
purposes, was not such absolutely. For the more general uses of the
legionary soldier, for marching, for castrametation, and the daily
labours of the spade or mattock, a lighter build was better. As to
single combats, it was one effect from the Roman (as from every good)
discipline--that it diminished the openings for such showy but perilous
modes of contest.

[23] '_Any considerable portion of this provincial corn growth,' i.e._,
of the provincial culture which was pursued on account of Rome, meaning
not the government of Rome, but, in a rigorous sense, on account of Rome
the city. For here lies a great oversight of historians and economists.
Because Rome, with a view to her own _privileged_ population, _i.e._,
the urban population of Rome, the metropolis, in order that she might
support her public distributions of grain, almost of necessity depended
on foreign supplies, _we are not to suppose that the great mass of
Italian towns and municipia did so_. Maritime towns, having the benefit
of ports or of convenient access, undoubtedly were participators in the
Roman advantage. But inland towns would in those days have forfeited the
whole difference between foreign and domestic grain by the enormous cost
of inland carriage. Of canals there was but one; the rivers were not
generally navigable, and ports as well as river shipping were wanting.

[24] '_Heraclius._' The same prosodial fault affects this name as that
of _Alexandria_. In each name the Latin _i_ represents a Greek _ei_, and
in that situation (viz., as a penultimate syllable) should receive the
emphasis in pronunciation as well as the sound of a long _i_ (that sound
which is heard in Long_i_nus). So again Academ_i_a, not Acad_e_mia. The
Greek accentuation may be doubted, but not the Roman.

[25] We have already said that Heraclius, who and whose family filled
the throne of Eastern Cæsar for exactly one hundred years (611-711),
consequently interesting in this way (if in no other), that he, as the
reader will see by considering the limits in point of time, must have
met and exhausted the first rage of the Mahometan _avalanche_, merits
according to our estimate the title of first and noblest amongst the
Oriental Cæsars. There are records or traditions of his earliest acts
that we could wish otherwise. Which of us would _not_ offend even at
this day, if called upon to act under one scale of sympathies, and to be
judged under another? In his own day, too painfully we say it, Heraclius
could not have followed what we venture to believe the suggestions of
his heart, in relation to his predecessor, because a policy had been
established which made it dangerous to be merciful, and a state of
public feeling which made it effeminate to pardon. First make it safe to
permit a man's life, before you pronounce it ignoble to authorize his
death. Strip mercy of ruin to its author, before you affirm upon a
judicial punishment of death (as then it was) cruelty in the adviser or
ignobility in the approver. Escaping from these painful scenes at the
threshold of his public life, we find Heraclius preparing for a war, the
most difficult that in any age any hero has confronted. We call him the
earliest of Crusaders, because he first and _literally_ fought for the
recovery of the Cross. We call him the most prosperous of Crusaders,
because he first--he last--succeeded in all that he sought, bringing
back to Syria (ultimately to Constantinople) that sublime symbol of
victorious Christianity which had been disgracefully lost at Jerusalem.
Yet why, when comparing him not with Crusaders, but with Cæsars, do we
pronounce him the noblest? Reader, which is it that is felt by a
thoughtful man--supposing him called upon to select one act by
preference before all others--to be the grandest act of our own
Wellesley? Is it not the sagacious preparation of the lines at Torres
Vedras, the self-mastery which lured the French on to their ruin, the
long-suffering policy which reined up his troops till that ruin was
accomplished? '_I bide my time_,' was the dreadful watchword of
Wellington through that great drama; in which, let us tell the French
critics on Tragedy, they will find _the most_ absolute unity of plot;
for the forming of the lines as the fatal noose, the wiling back the
enemy, the pursuit when the work of disorganization was perfect, all
were parts of one and the same drama. If he (as another Scipio) saw
another Zama, in this instance he was not our Scipio or Marcellus, but
our Fabius Maximus:

'Unus homo nobis cunctando restituit rem.'--'Ann.' 8, 27.

Now, such was the Emperor Heraclius. He also had his avenging Zama. But,
during a memorable interval of eleven years, he held back; fiercely
reined up his wrath; brooded; smiled often balefully; watched in his
lair; and then, when the hour had struck, let slip his armies and his
thunderbolts as no Cæsar had ever done, except that one who founded the
name of Cæsar.

[26] A brutal outrage on a Captain Jenkins--i.e., cutting off his
ears--was the cause of a war with Spain in the reign of George II.--ED.


Anecdotes illustrative of manners, above all of national manners, will
be found on examination, in a far larger proportion than might be
supposed, rank falsehoods. Malice is the secret foundation of all
anecdotes in that class. The ordinary course of such falsehoods is, that
first of all some stranger and alien to those feelings which have
prompted a particular usage--incapable, therefore, of entering fully
into its spirit or meaning--tries to exhibit its absurdity more forcibly
by pushing it into an extreme or trying case. Coming himself from some
gross form of _Kleinstädtigkeit_, where no restraints of decorum exist,
and where everybody speaks to everybody, he has been utterly confounded
by the English ceremony of 'introduction,' when enforced as the _sine
quâ non_ condition of personal intercourse. If England is right, then
how clownishly wrong must have been his own previous circles! If England
is not ridiculously fastidious, then how bestially grovelling must be
the spirit of social intercourse in his own land! But no man reconciles
himself to this view of things in a moment. He kicks even against his
own secret convictions. He blushes with shame and anger at the thought
of his own family perhaps brought suddenly into collision with polished
Englishmen; he thrills with wrath at the recollection of having himself
trespassed upon this code of restriction at a time when he was yet
unwarned of its existence. In this temper he is little qualified to
review such a regulation with reason and good sense. He seeks to make it
appear ridiculous. He presses it into violent cases for which it was
never intended. He supposes a case where some fellow-creature is
drowning. How would an Englishman act, how _could_ he act, even under
such circumstances as these? _We_ know, we who are blinded by no spite,
that as a bar to personal communication or to any interchange of good
offices under appeals so forcible as these, this law of formal
presentation between the parties never did and never will operate. The
whole motive to such a law gives way at once.


Some years ago I had occasion to remark that a new era was coming on by
hasty strides for national politics, a new organ was maturing itself for
public effects. Sympathy--how great a power is that! Conscious
sympathy--how immeasurable! Now, for the total development of this
power, _time_ is the most critical of elements. Thirty years ago, when
the Edinburgh mail took ninety-six hours in its transit from London, how
slow was the reaction of the Scottish capital upon the English! Eight
days for the _diaulos_[27] of the journey, and two, suppose, for getting
up a public meeting, composed a cycle of _ten_ before an act received
its commentary, before a speech received its refutation, or an appeal
its damnatory answer. What was the consequence? The sound was
disconnected from its echo, the kick was severed from the
recalcitration, the '_Take you this!_' was unlinked from the '_And take
you that!_' Vengeance was defeated, and sympathy dissolved into the air.
But now mark the difference. A meeting on Monday in Liverpool is by
possibility reported in the London _Standard_ of Monday evening. On
Tuesday, the splendid merchant, suppose his name were Thomas Sands, who
had just sent a vibration through all the pulses of Liverpool, of
Manchester, of Warrington, sees this great rolling fire (which hardly
yet has reached his own outlying neighbourhoods) taken up afar off,
redoubled, multiplied, peal after peal, through the vast artilleries of
London. Back comes rolling upon him the smoke and the thunder--the
defiance to the slanderer and the warning to the offender--groans that
have been extorted from wounded honour, aspirations rising from the
fervent heart--truth that had been hidden, wisdom that challenged

And thus it is that all the nation, thus 'all that mighty heart,'
through nine hundred miles of space, from Sutherlandshire by London to
the myrtle climate of Cornwall, has become and is ever more becoming one
infinite harp, swept by the same breeze of sentiment, reverberating the
same sympathies

    'Here, there, and in all places at one time.'[28]

Time, therefore, that ancient enemy of man and his frail purposes, how
potent an ally has it become in combination with great mechanic changes!
Many an imperfect hemisphere of thought, action, desire, that could not
heretofore unite with its corresponding hemisphere, because separated by
ten or fourteen days of suspense, now moves electrically to its
integration, hurries to its complement, realizes its orbicular
perfection, spherical completion, through that simple series of
improvements which to man have given the wings and _talaria_ of Gods,
for the heralds have dimly suggested a future rivalship with the
velocities of light, and even now have inaugurated a race between the
child of mortality and the North Wind.


[27] 'The _diaulos_ of the journey.' We recommend to the amateur in
words this Greek phrase, which expresses by one word an egress linked
with its corresponding regress, which indicates at once the voyage
outwards and the voyage inwards, as the briefest of expressions for what
is technically called '_course of post,' i.e._, the reciprocation of
post, its systole and diastole.

[28] Wordsworth.


We are not to suppose the rebel, or, more properly, corrupted
angels--the rebellion being in the result, not in the intention (which
is as little conceivable in an exalted spirit as that man should prepare
to make war on gravitation)--were essentially evil. Whether a principle
of evil--essential evil--anywhere exists can only be guessed. So gloomy
an idea is shut up from man. Yet, if so, possibly the angels and man
were nearing it continually.

Possibly after a certain approach to that Maelstrom recall might be
hopeless. Possibly many anchors had been thrown out to pick up, had
all dragged, and last of all came to the Jewish trial. (Of course,
under the Pagan absence of sin, _a fall was impossible_. A return was
impossible, in the sense that you cannot return to a place which you
have never left. Have I ever noticed this?) We are not to suppose that
the angels were really in a state of rebellion. So far from that, it
was evidently amongst the purposes of God that what are called false
Gods, and are so in the ultimate sense of resting on tainted
principles and tending to ruin--perhaps irretrievable (though it would
be the same thing practically if no restoration were possible but
through vast æons of unhappy incarnations)--but otherwise were as
real as anything can be into whose nature a germ of evil has entered,
should effect a secondary ministration of the last importance to man's
welfare. Doubt there can be little that without any religion, any
sense of dependency, or gratitude, or reverence as to superior
natures, man would rapidly have deteriorated; and that would have
tended to such destruction of all nobler principles--patriotism
(strong in the old world as with us), humanity, ties of parentage or
neighbourhood--as would soon have thinned the world; so that the
Jewish process thus going on must have failed for want of
correspondencies to the scheme--possibly endless oscillations which,
however coincident with plagues, would extirpate the human race. We
may see in manufacturing neighbourhoods, so long as no dependency
exists on masters, where wages show that not work, but workmen, are
scarce, how unamiable, insolent, fierce, are the people; the poor
cottagers on a great estate may sometimes offend you by too obsequious
a spirit towards all gentry. That was a transition state in England
during the first half of the eighteenth century, when few
manufacturers and merchants had risen to such a generous model. But
this leaves room for many domestic virtues that would suffer greatly
in the other state. Yet this is but a faint image of the total
independency. Oaths were sacred only through the temporal judgments
supposed to overtake those who insulted the Gods by summoning them to
witness a false contract. But this would have been only part of the
evil. So long as men acknowledged higher natures, they were doubtful
about futurity. This doubt had little strength on the side of hope,
but much on the side of fear. The blessings of any future state were
cheerless and insipid mockeries; so Achilles--how he bemoans his
state! But the torments were real. By far more, however, they,
through this coarse agency of syllogistic dread, would act to show man
the degradation of his nature when all light of a higher existence had
disappeared. That which did not exist for natures supposed capable
originally of immortality, how should it exist for him? And that man
must have observed with little attention what takes place in this
world if he needs to be told that nothing tends to make his own
species cheap and hateful in his eyes so certainly as moral
degradation driven to a point of no hope. So in squalid dungeons, in
captivities of slaves, nay, in absolute pauperism, all hate each other
fiercely. Even with us, how sad is the thought--that, just as a man
needs pity, as he is stript of all things, when most the sympathy of
men should settle on him, then most is he contemplated with a
hard-hearted contempt! The Jews when injured by our own oppressive
princes were despised and hated. Had they raised an empire, licked
their oppressors well, they would have been compassionately loved. So
lunatics heretofore; so galley-slaves--Toulon, Marseilles, etc. This
brutal principle of degradation soon developed in man. The Gods,
therefore, performed a great agency for man. And it is clear that God
did not discourage _common_ rites or rights for His altar or theirs.
Nay, he sent Israel to Egypt--as one reason--to learn ceremonies
amongst a people who sequestered them. In evil the Jews always clove
to their religion. Next the difficulty of people, miracles, though
less for false Gods, and least of all for the meanest, was _alike_ for
both. Astarte does not kill Sayth on the spot, but by a judgment.
Gods, no more their God, spake an instant law. Even the prophets are
properly no prophets, but only the mode of speech by God,--as clear as
He _can_ speak. Men mistake God's hate by their own. So neither could
He reveal Himself. A vast age would be required for seeing God.

But for the thought of man as evil (or of any other form of evil), as
reconcilable with their idea of a perfect God, a happy idea may, like
the categories, proceed upon a necessity for a perfect _inversion_ of
the _methodus conspiciendi_. Let us retrace, but in such a form as to be
apprehensible by all readers. Analytic and synthetic propositions at
once throw light upon the notion of a category. Once it had been a mere
abstraction; of no possible use except as a convenient cell for
referring (as in a nest of boxes), which may perhaps as much degrade the
idea as a relative of my own degraded the image of the crescent moon by
saying, in his abhorrence of sentimentality, that it reminded him of the
segment from his own thumb-nail when clean cut by an instrument called a
nail-cutter. This was the Aristotelian notion. But Kant could not
content himself with this idea. His own theory (1) as to time and space,
(2) the refutation of Hume's notion of cause, and (3) his own great
discovery of synthetic and analytic propositions, all prepared the way
for a totally new view. But, now, what is the origin of this necessity
applied to the category as founded in the synthesis? How does a
synthesis make itself or anything else necessary? Explain me that.

This was written perhaps a fortnight ago. Now, Monday, May 23 (day fixed
for Dan Good's execution), I _do_ explain it by what this moment I seem
to have discovered--the necessity of cause, of substance, etc., lies in
the intervening synthesis. This you _must_ pass through in the course
tending to and finally reaching the idea; for the analytical presupposes
this synthesis.

Not only must the energies of destruction be equal to those of creation,
but, in fact, perhaps by the trespassing a little of the first upon the
last, is the true advance sustained; for it must be an advance as well
as a balance. But you say this will but in other words mean that forces
devoted (and properly so) to production or creation are absorbed by
destruction. True; but the opposing phenomena will be going on in a
large ratio, and each must react on the other. The productive must meet
and correspond to the destructive. The destructive must revise and
stimulate the continued production.


What else is the laying of such a stress on miracles but the case of 'a
wicked and adulterous generation asking a sign'?

But what are these miracles for? To prove a legislation from God. But,
first, this could not be proved, even if miracle-working were the test
of Divine mission, by doing miracles until we knew whether the power
were genuine; _i.e._, not, like the magicians of Pharaoh or the witch of
Endor, from below. Secondly, you are a poor, pitiful creature, that
think the power to do miracles, or power of any kind that can exhibit
itself in an act, the note of a god-like commission. Better is one ray
of truth (not seen previously by man), of _moral_ truth, _e.g._,
forgiveness of enemies, than all the powers which could create the

'Oh yes!' says the objector; 'but Christ was holy as a man.' This we
know first; then we judge by His power that He must have been from God.
But if it were doubtful whether His power were from God, then, until
this doubt is _otherwise_, is independently removed, you cannot decide
if He _was_ holy by a test of holiness absolutely irrelevant. With other
holiness--apparent holiness--a simulation might be combined. You can
never tell that a man is holy; and for the plain reason that God only
can read the heart.

'Let Him come down from the cross, and we,' etc. Yes; they fancied so.
But see what would really have followed. They would have been stunned
and confounded for the moment, but not at all converted in heart. Their
hatred to Christ was not built on their unbelief, but their unbelief in
Christ was built on their hatred; and this hatred would not have been
mitigated by another (however astounding) miracle. This I wrote (Monday
morning, June 7, 1847) in reference to my saying on the general question
of miracles: Why these _dubious_ miracles?--such as curing blindness
that may have been cured by a _process_?--since the _unity_ given to the
act of healing is probably (more probably than otherwise) but the
figurative unity of the tendency to _mythus_; or else it is that unity
misapprehended and mistranslated by the reporters. Such, again, as the
miracles of the loaves--so liable to be utterly gossip, so incapable of
being watched or examined amongst a crowd of 7,000 people. Besides, were
these people mad? The very fact which is said to have drawn Christ's
pity, viz., their situation in the desert, surely could not have escaped
their own attention on going thither. Think of 7,000 people rushing to a
sort of destruction; for if less than that the mere inconvenience was
not worthy of Divine attention. Now, said I, why not give us (if
miracles _are_ required) one that nobody could doubt--removing a
mountain, _e.g._? Yes; but here the other party begin to _see_ the evil
of miracles. Oh, this would have _coerced_ people into believing! Rest
you safe as to that. It would have been no believing in any proper
sense: it would, at the utmost--and supposing no vital demur to popular
miracle--have led people into that belief which Christ Himself describes
(and regrets) as calling Him Lord! Lord! The pretended belief would have
left them just where they were as to any real belief in Christ.
Previously, however, or over and above all this, there would be the
demur (let the miracle have been what it might) of, By what power, by
whose agency or help? For if Christ does a miracle, probably He may do
it by alliance with some _Z_ standing behind, out of sight. Or if by His
own skill, how or whence derived, or of what nature? This obstinately
recurrent question remains.

There is not the meanest court in Christendom or Islam that would not
say, if called on to adjudicate the rights of an estate on such evidence
as the mere facts of the Gospel: 'O good God, how can we do this? Which
of us knows who this Matthew was--whether he ever lived, or, if so,
whether he ever wrote a line of all this? or, if he did, how situated as
to motives, as to means of information, as to judgment and
discrimination? Who knows anything of the contrivances or the various
personal interests in which the whole narrative originated, or when? All
is dark and dusty.' Nothing in such a case _can_ be proved but what
shines by its own light. Nay, God Himself could not attest a miracle,
but (listen to this!)--but by the internal revelation or visiting of the
Spirit--to evade which, to dispense with which, a miracle is ever
resorted to.

Besides the objection to miracles that they are not capable of
attestation, Hume's objection is not that they are false, but that they
are incommunicable. Two different duties arise for the man who witnesses
a miracle and for him who receives traditionally. The duty of the first
is to confide in his own experience, which may, besides, have been
repeated; of the second, to confide in his understanding, which says:
'Less marvel that the reporter should have erred than that nature should
have been violated.'

How dearly do these people betray their own hypocrisy about the divinity
of Christianity, and at the same time the meanness of their own natures,
who think the Messiah, or God's Messenger, must first prove His own
commission by an act of power; whereas (1) a new revelation of moral
forces could not be invented by all generations, and (2) an act of power
much more probably argues an alliance with the devil. I should gloomily
suspect a man who came forward as a magician.

Suppose the Gospels written thirty years after the events, and by
ignorant, superstitious men who have adopted the fables that old women
had surrounded Christ with--how does this supposition vitiate the report
of Christ's parables? But, on the other hand, they could no more have
invented the parables than a man alleging a diamond-mine could invent a
diamond as attestation. The parables prove themselves.


Now, this is exceedingly well worth consideration. I know not at all
whether what I am going to say has been said already--life would not
suffice in every field or section of a field to search every nook and
section of a nook for the possibilities of chance utterance given to any
stray opinion. But this I know without any doubt at all, that it cannot
have been said effectually, cannot have been so said as to publish and
disperse itself; else it is impossible that the crazy logic current upon
these topics should have lived, or that many separate arguments should
ever for very shame have been uttered. Said or not said, let us presume
it unsaid, and let me state the true answer as if _de novo_, even if by
accident somewhere the darkness shelters this same answer as uttered
long ago.

Now, therefore, I will suppose that He _had_ come down from the Cross.
No case can so powerfully illustrate the filthy falsehood and pollution
of that idea which men generally entertain, which the sole creditable
books universally build upon. What would have followed? This would have
followed: that, inverting the order of every true emanation from God,
instead of growing and expanding for ever like a [symbol: <], it would
have attained its _maximum_ at the first. The effect for the half-hour
would have been prodigious, and from that moment when it began to flag
it would degrade rapidly, until, in three days, a far fiercer hatred
against Christ would have been moulded. For observe: into what state of
mind would this marvel have been received? Into any good-will towards
Christ, which previously had been defeated by the belief that He was an
impostor in the sense that He pretended to a power of miracles which in
fact He had not? By no means. The sense in which Christ had been an
impostor for them was in assuming a commission, a spiritual embassy with
appropriate functions, promises, prospects, to which He had no title.
How had that notion--not, viz., of miraculous impostorship, but of
spiritual impostorship--been able to maintain itself? Why, what should
have reasonably destroyed the notion? This, viz., the sublimity of His
moral system. But does the reader imagine that this sublimity is of a
nature to be seen intellectually--that is, insulated and _in vacuo_ for
the intellect? No more than by geometry or by a _sorites_ any man
constitutionally imperfect could come to understand the nature of the
sexual appetite; or a man born deaf could make representable to himself
the living truth of music, a man born blind could make representable the
living truth of colours. All men are not equally deaf in heart--far from
it--the differences are infinite, and some men never could comprehend
the beauty of spiritual truth. But no man could comprehend it without
preparation. That preparation was found in his training of Judaism;
which to those whose hearts were hearts of flesh, not stony and charmed
against hearing, had already anticipated the first outlines of Christian
ideas. Sin, purity, holiness unimaginable, these had already been
inoculated into the Jewish mind. And amongst the race inoculated Christ
found enough for a central nucleus to His future Church. But the natural
tendency under the fever-mist of strife and passion, evoked by the
present position in the world operating upon robust, full-blooded life,
unshaken by grief or tenderness of nature, or constitutional sadness, is
to fail altogether of seeing the features which so powerfully mark
Christianity. Those features, instead of coming out into strong relief,
resemble what we see in mountainous regions where the mist covers the
loftiest peaks.

We have heard of a man saying: 'Give me such titles of honour, so many
myriads of pounds, and then I will consider your proposal that I should
turn Christian.' Now, survey--pause for one moment to survey--the
immeasurable effrontery of this speech. First, it replies to a proposal
having what object--our happiness or his? Why, of course, his: how are
we interested, except on a sublime principle of benevolence, in his
faith being right? Secondly, it is a reply presuming money, the most
fleshly of objects, to modify or any way control religion, _i.e._, a
spiritual concern. This in itself is already monstrous, and pretty much
the same as it would be to order a charge of bayonets against
gravitation, or against an avalanche, or against an earthquake, or
against a deluge. But, suppose it were _not_ so, what incomprehensible
reasoning justifies the notion that not we are to be paid, but that he
is to be paid for a change not concerning or affecting our happiness,
but his?


As to individual nations, it is matter of notoriety that they are often
improgressive. As a whole, it may be true that the human race is under a
necessity of slowly advancing; and it may be a necessity, also, that the
current of the moving waters should finally absorb into its motion that
part of the waters which, left to itself, would stagnate. All this may
be true--and yet it will not follow that the human race must be moving
constantly upon an ascending line, as thus:


nor even upon such a line, with continual pauses or rests interposed, as


where there is no going back, though a constant interruption to the
going forward; but a third hypothesis is possible: there may be
continual loss of ground, yet so that continually the loss is more than
compensated, and the total result, for any considerable period of
observation, may be that progress is maintained:


At O, by comparison with the previous elevation at A, there is a
repeated falling back; but still upon the whole, and pursuing the
inquiry through a sufficiently large segment of time, the constant
report is--ascent.

Upon this explanation it is perfectly consistent with a general belief
in the going forward of man--that this particular age in which we live
might be stationary, or might even have gone back. It cannot, therefore,
be upon any _à priori_ principle that I maintain the superiority of this
age. It is, and must be upon special examination, applied to the
phenomena of this special age. The last century, in its first thirty
years, offered the spectacle of a death-like collapse in the national
energies. All great interests suffered together. The intellectual power
of the country, spite of the brilliant display in a lower element, made
by one or two men of genius, languished as a whole. The religious
feeling was torpid, and in a degree which insured the strong reaction of
some irritating galvanism, or quickening impulse such as that which was
in fact supplied by Methodism. It is not with that age that I wish to
compare the present. I compare it with the age which terminated thirty
years ago--roused, invigorated, searched as that age was through all its
sensibilities by the electric shock of the French Revolution. It is by
comparison with an age so keenly alive, penetrated by ideas stirring and
uprooting, that I would compare it; and even then the balance of gain in
well-calculated resource, fixed yet stimulating ideals, I hold to be in
our favour--and this in opposition to much argument in an adverse spirit
from many and influential quarters. Indeed, it is a remark which more
than once I have been led to make in print: that if a foreigner were to
inquire for the moral philosophy, the ethics, and even for the
metaphysics, of our English literature, the answer would be, 'Look for
them in the great body of our Divinity.' Not merely the more scholastic
works on theology, but the occasional sermons of our English divines
contain a body of richer philosophical speculation than is elsewhere to
be found; and, to say the truth, far more instructive than anything in
our Lockes, Berkeleys, or other express and professional philosophers.
Having said this by way of showing that I do not overlook their just
pretensions, let me have leave to notice a foible in these writers which
is not merely somewhat ludicrous, but even seriously injurious to
truth. One and all, through a long series of two hundred and fifty
years, think themselves called upon to tax their countrymen--each
severally in his own age--with a separate, peculiar, and unexampled
guilt of infidelity and irreligion. Each worthy man, in his turn, sees
in his own age overt signs of these offences not to be matched in any
other. Five-and-twenty periods of ten years each may be taken,
concerning each of which some excellent writer may be cited to prove
that it had reached a maximum of atrocity, such as should not easily
have been susceptible of aggravation, but which invariably the _relays_
through all the subsequent periods affirm their own contemporaries to
have attained. Every decennium is regularly worse than that which
precedes it, until the mind is perfectly confounded by the _Pelion upon
Ossa_ which must overwhelm the last term of the twenty-five. It is the
mere necessity of a logical _sorites_, that such a horrible race of
villains as the men of the twenty-fifth decennium ought not to be
suffered to breathe. Now, the whole error arises out of an imbecile
self-surrender to the first impressions from the process of abstraction
as applied to remote objects. Survey a town under the benefit of a ten
miles' distance, combined with a dreamy sunshine, and it will appear a
city of celestial palaces. Enter it, and you will find the same filth,
the same ruins, the same disproportions as anywhere else. So of past
ages, seen through the haze of an abstraction which removes all
circumstantial features of deformity. Call up any one of those ages, if
it were possible, into the realities of life, and these worthy praisers
of the past would be surprised to find every feature repeated which they
had fancied peculiar to their own times. Meanwhile this erroneous
doctrine of sermons has a double ill consequence: first, the whole
chain of twenty-five writers, when brought together, consecutively
reflect a colouring of absurdity upon each other; separately they might
be endurable, but all at once, predicating (each of his own period
exclusively) what runs with a rolling fire through twenty-five such
periods in succession, cannot but recall to the reader that senseless
doctrine of a physical decay in man, as if man were once stronger,
broader, taller, etc.--upon which hypothesis of a gradual descent why
should it have stopped at any special point? How could the human race
have failed long ago to reach the point of _zero_? But, secondly, such a
doctrine is most injurious and insulting to Christianity. If, after
eighteen hundred years of development, it could be seriously true of
Christianity that it had left any age or generation of men worse in
conduct, or in feeling, or in belief, than all their predecessors, what
reasonable expectation could we have that in eighteen hundred years more
the case would be better? Such thoughtless opinions make Christianity to
be a failure.



The Pagan God could have perfect peace with his votary, and yet could
have no tendency to draw that votary to himself. Not so with the God of
Christianity, who cannot give His peace without drawing like a vortex to
Himself, who cannot draw into His own vortex without finding His peace

'An age when lustre too intense.'--I am much mistaken if Mr. Wordsworth
is not deeply wrong here. Wrong he is beyond a doubt as to the _fact_;
for there could have been no virtual intensity of lustre (unless merely
as a tinsel toy) when it was contradicted by everything in the
_manners_, _habits_, and situations of the Pagan Gods--they who were
content to play in the coarsest manner the part of gay young bloods,
_sowing_ their wild oats, and with a recklessness of consequences to
their female partners never by possibility rivalled by men. I believe
and affirm that lustre the most dazzling and blinding would not have any
_ennobling_ effect except as received into a matrix of previous
unearthly and holy type.

As to Bacchus being eternally young, the ancients had no idea or power
to frame the idea of eternity. Their eternity was a limitary thing. And
this I say not empirically, but _à priori_, on the ground that without
the idea of holiness and unfleshliness, eternity cannot rise buoyant
from the ground, cannot sustain itself. But waive this, and what becomes
of the other things? If he were characteristically distinguished as
young, then, by a mere rebound of the logic, the others were not so
honoured, else where is the special privilege of Bacchus?

'And she shall sing there as in the days of her youth' (Hosea ii.
15).--The case of pathos, a person coming back to places, recalling the
days of youth after a long woe, is quite unknown to the ancients--nay,
the maternal affection itself, though used inevitably, is never
consciously reviewed as an object of beauty.

Duties arise everywhere, but--do not mistake--not under their sublime
form _as_ duties. I claim the honour to have first exposed a fallacy too
common: duties never did, never will, arise save under Christianity,
since without it the sense of a morality lightened by religious motive,
aspiring to holiness, not only of act, but of motive, had not before it
even arisen. It is the pressure of society, its mere needs and palpable
claims, which first calls forth duties, but not _as_ duties; rather as
the casting of parts in a scenical arrangement. A duty, under the low
conception to which at first it conforms, is a _rôle_, no more; it is
strictly what we mean when we talk of a _part_. The sense of conscience
strictly is not touched under any preceding system of religion. It is
the daughter of Christianity. How little did Wordsworth seize the fact
in his Ode: 'Stern Daughter of the Voice of God' is not enough; the
voice of God is the conscience; and neither has been developed except by

The conscience of a pagan was a conscience pointing to detection: it
pointed only to the needs of society, and caused fear, shame, anxiety,
only on the principles of sympathy; that is, from the impossibility of
releasing himself from a dependence on the reciprocal feelings--the
rebound, the dependence on the _re_sentments of others.

_Morals._--Even ordinary morals could have little practical weight with
the ancients: witness the Roman juries and Roman trials. Had there been
any sense of justice predominant, could Cicero have hoped to prevail by
such defences as that of Milo and fifty-six others, where the argument
is merely fanciful--such a _Hein-gespinst_ as might be applauded with
'very good!' 'bravo!' in any mock trial like that silly one devised by
Dean Swift.

The slowness and obtuseness of the Romans to pathos appears _à priori_
in their amphitheatre, and its tendency to put out the theatre;
secondly, _à posteriori_, in the fact that their theatre was put out;
and also, _à posteriori_, in the coarseness of their sensibilities to
real distresses unless costumed and made sensible as well as
intelligible. The grossness of this demand, which proceeded even so far
as pinching to elicit a cry, is beyond easy credit to men of their time.

The narrow range of the Greek intellect, always revolving through seven
or eight centuries about a few memorable examples--from the Life of
Themistocles to Zeno or Demosthenes.

The Grecian glories of every kind seem sociable and affable, courting
sympathy. The Jewish seem malignantly [Greek: autarkeis].

But just as Paganism respected only rights of action, possession, etc.,
Christianity respects a far higher scale of claims, viz., as to the
wounds to feelings, to deep injury, though not grounded in anything
measurable or expoundable by external results. Man! you have said that
which you were too proud and obstinate to unsay, which has lacerated
some heart for thirty years that had perhaps secretly and faithfully
served you and yours. Christianity lays hold on that as a point of
conscience, if not of honour, to make _amends_, if in no other way, by

As to the tears of Oedipus in the crises. I am compelled to believe that
Sophocles erred as regarded nature; for in cases so transcendent as this
Greek nature and English nature could not differ. In the great agony on
Mount Oeta, Hercules points the pity of his son Hyllus to the extremity
of torment besieging him on the humiliating evidence of the tears which
they extorted from him. 'Pity me,' says he, 'that weep with sobs like a
girl: a thing that no one could have charged upon the man' (pointing to
himself); 'but ever without a groan I followed out to the end my
calamities.' Now, on the contrary, on the words of the oracle, that
beckoned away with impatient sounds Oedipus from his dear sublime
Antigone, Oedipus is made to weep.

But this is impossible. Always the tears arose, and will arise, on the
_relaxation_ of the torment and in the rear of silent anguish on its
sudden suspense, amidst a continued headlong movement; and also, in
looking back, tears, unless checked, might easily arise. But never
during the torment: on the rack there are no tears shed, and those who
suffered on the scaffold never yet shed tears, unless it may have been
at some oblique glance at things collateral to their suffering, as
suppose a sudden glimpse of a child's face which they had loved in life.

Is not every [Greek: aiôn] of civilization an inheritance from a
previous state not so high? Thus, _e.g._, the Romans, with so little of
Christian restraint, would have perished by reaction of their own vices,
but for certain prejudices and follies about trade, manufacture, etc.,
and but for oil on their persons to prevent contagion. Now, this oil had
been, I think, a secret bequeathed from some older and higher
civilization long since passed away. We have it not, but neither have we
so much needed it. Soon, however, we shall restore the secret by science
more perfect.

Was Christianity meant to narrow or to widen the road to future
happiness? If I were translated to some other planet, I should say:

1. _No_; for it raised a far higher standard--_ergo_, made the
realization of this far more difficult.

2. _Yes_; for it introduced a new machinery for realizing this standard:
(first) Christ's atonement, (second) grace.

But, according to some bigots (as Jeremy Taylor and Sir Thomas Browne),
as cited by Coleridge, Christianity first opened any road at all. Yet,
surely they forget that, if simply to come too early was the fatal bar
to their claims in the case, Abraham, the father of the faithful, could
not benefit.

Yesterday, Thursday, October 21 (1843), I think, or the day before, I
first perceived that the first great proof of Christianity is the proof
of Judaism, and the proof of that lies in the Jehovah. What merely
natural man capable of devising a God for himself such as the Jewish?

Of all eradications of this doctrine (of human progress), the most
difficult is that connected with the outward shows--in air, in
colouring, in form, in grouping of the great elements composing the
furniture of the heavens and the earth. It is most difficult, even when
confining one's attention to the modern case, and neglecting the
comparison with the ancient, at all to assign the analysis of those
steps by which to us Christians (but never before) the sea and the sky
and the clouds and the many inter-modifications of these, A, B, C, D,
and again the many interactions of the whole, the sun (S.), the moon
(M.), the noon (N. S.)--the breathless, silent noon--the gay
afternoon--the solemn glory of sunset--the dove-like glimpse of Paradise
in the tender light of early dawn--by which these obtain a power utterly
unknown, undreamed of, unintelligible to a Pagan. If we had spoken to
Plato--to Cicero--of the deep pathos in a sunset, would he--would
either--have gone along with us? The foolish reader thinks, Why, perhaps
not, not altogether as to the quantity--the degree of emotion.
Doubtless, it is undeniable that we moderns have far more sensibility to
the phenomena and visual glories of this world which we inhabit. And it
_is_ possible that, reflecting on the singularity of this characteristic
badge worn by modern civilization, he may go so far as to suspect that
Christianity has had something to do with it. But, on seeking to
complete the chain which connects them, he finds himself quite unable to
recover the principal link.

Now, it will prove, after all, even for myself who have exposed and
revealed these new ligatures by which Christianity connects man with
awful interests in the world, a most insurmountable task to assign the
total nidus in which this new power resides, or the total phenomenology
through which that passes to and fro. Generally it seems to stand thus:
God reveals Himself to us more or less dimly in vast numbers of
processes; for example, in those of vegetation, animal growth,
crystallization, etc. These impress us not primarily, but secondarily on
reflection, after considering the enormity of changes worked annually,
and working even at the moment we speak. Then, again, other arrangements
throw us more powerfully upon the moral qualities of God; _e.g._, we see
the fence, the shell, the covering, varied in ten million ways, by which
in buds and blossoms He insures the ultimate protection of the fruit.
What protection, analogous to this, has He established for animals; or,
taking up the question in the ideal case, for man, the supreme of His
creatures? We perceive that He has relied upon love, upon love
strengthened to the adamantine force of insanity or delirium, by the
mere aspect of utter, utter helplessness in the human infant. It is not
by power, by means visibly developed, that this result is secured, but
by means spiritual and 'transcendental' in the highest degree.

The baseness and incorrigible ignobility of the Oriental mind is seen in
the radical inability to appreciate justice when brought into collision
with the royal privileges of rulers that represent the nation. Not only,
for example, do Turks, etc., think it an essential function of royalty
to cut off heads, but they think it essential to the consummation of
this function that the sacrifice should rest upon caprice known and
avowed. To suppose it wicked as a mere process of executing the laws
would rob it of all its grandeur. It would stand for nothing. Nay, even
if the power were conceded, and the sovereign should abstain from using
it of his own free will and choice, this would not satisfy the wretched
Turk. Blood, lawless blood--a horrid Moloch, surmounting a grim company
of torturers and executioners, and on the other side revelling in a
thousand unconsenting women--this hideous image of brutal power and
unvarnished lust is clearly indispensable to the Turk as incarnating the
representative grandeur of his nation. With this ideal ever present to
the Asiatic and Mohammedan mind, no wonder that even their religion
needs the aid of the sword and bloodshed to secure conversion.

In the _Spectator_ is mentioned, as an Eastern apologue, that a vizier
who (like Chaucer's Canace) had learned the language of birds used it
with political effect to his sovereign. The sultan had demanded to know
what a certain reverend owl was speechifying about to another owl
distantly related to him. The vizier listened, and reported that the
liberal old owl was making a settlement upon his daughter, in case his
friend's son should marry her, of a dozen ruined villages. Loyally long
life to our noble sultan! I shall, my dear friend, always have a ruined
village at your service against a rainy day, so long as our present
ruler reigns and desolates.

_Obliviscor jam injurias tuas, Clodia._--This is about the most
barefaced use of the rhetorical trick--viz., to affect _not_ to do, to
pass over whilst actually doing all the while--that anywhere I have met
with.--'Pro Cælio,' p. 234 [p. 35, Volgraff's edition].

_Evaserint_ and _comprehenderint._--Suppose they had rushed out, and
suppose they had seized Licinus. So I read--not _issent._--_Ibid., p.
236_ [_Ibid., p. 44_].

_Velim vel potius quid nolim dicere._--Aristotle's case of throwing
overboard your own property. He _vult dicere_, else he could not mean,
yet _nonvult_, for he is shocked at saying such things of
Clodia.--_Ibid., p. 242_ [_Ibid., p. 49_].


_Morality._--That Paley's principle does not apply to the higher
morality of Christianity is evident from this: when I seek to bring
before myself some ordinary form of wickedness that all men offend by, I
think, perhaps, of their ingratitude. The man born to £400 a year thinks
nothing of it, compares himself only with those above his own standard,
and sees rather a ground of discontent in his £400 as not being £4,000
than any ground of deep thankfulness. Now, this being so odious a form
of immorality, should--by Paley--terminate in excessive evil. On the
contrary, it is the principle, the very dissatisfaction which God uses
for keep_ing_ the world mov_ing_ (how villainous the form--these

All faith in the great majority is, and ought to be, implicit. That is,
your faith is not unrolled--not separately applied to each individual
doctrine--but is applied to some individual man, and on him you rely.
What he says, you say; what he believes, you believe. Now, he believes
all these doctrines, and you implicitly through him. But what I chiefly
say as the object of this note is, that the bulk of men must believe by
an implicit faith. _Ergo_, decry it not.

You delude yourself, Christian theorist, with the idea of offences that
else would unfit you for heaven being washed out by repentance. But
hearken a moment. Figure the case of those innumerable people that,
having no temptation, small or great, to commit murder, _would_ have
committed it cheerfully for half-a-crown; that, having no opening or
possibility for committing adultery, _would_ have committed it in case
they had. Now, of these people, having no possibility of repentance (for
how repent of what they have not done?), and yet ripe to excess for the
guilt, what will you say? Shall they perish because they _might_ have
been guilty? Shall they not perish because the potential guilt was not,
by pure accident, accomplished _in esse_?

Here is a mistake to be guarded against. If you ask why such a man,
though by nature gross or even Swift-like in his love of dirty ideas,
yet, because a gentleman and moving in corresponding society, does not
indulge in such brutalities, the answer is that he abstains through the
modifications of the sympathies. A low man in low society would not be
doubtful of its reception; but he, by the anticipations of sympathy (a
form that should be introduced as technically as Kant's anticipations of
perception), feels it would be ill or gloomily received. Well now, I,
when saying that a man is altered by sympathy so as to think _that_,
through means of this power, which otherwise he would not think, shall
be interpreted of such a case as that above. But wait; there is a
distinction: the man does not think differently, he only acts as if he
thought differently. The case I contemplate is far otherwise; it is
where a man feels a lively contempt or admiration in consequence of
seeing or hearing such feelings powerfully expressed by a multitude, or,
at least, by others which else he would not have felt. Vulgar people
would sit for hours in the presence of people the most refined, totally
unaware of their superiority, for the same reason that most people (if
assenting to the praise of the Lord's Prayer) would do so
hyper-critically, because its real and chief beauties are negative.

Not only is it false that my understanding is no measure or rule for
another man, but of necessity it is so, and every step I take towards
truth for myself is a step made on behalf of every other man.

We doubt if the world in the sense of a synthesis of action--the
procession and carrying out of ends and purposes--_could_ consist with
the [Greek: anti]-world (in a religious sense). Men who divide all into
pious people and next to devils see in such a state of evil the natural
tendency (as in all other _monstrous_ evils--which this must be if an
evil at all) to correction and redress. But now assume a man, sober,
honourable, cheerful, healthy, active, occupied all day long in toilsome
duties (or what he believes duties) for ends not selfish; this man has
never had a thought of death, hell, etc., and looking abroad on those
who dwell in such contemplations, he regards them sincerely, not
unkindly or with contempt; partially he respects them, but he looks on
them as under a monstrous delusion, in a fever, in a panic, as in a case
of broken equilibrium. Now he is right. And, moreover, secondly, two
other feelings or suspicions come on, (1) of hypocrisy, (2) of the
violation of inner shame in publishing the most awful private feelings.

_The Tendency of a Good Fortune inherited._--I know not that any man has
reason to wish a _sufficient_ patrimonial estate for his son. Much to
have something so as to start with an advantage. But the natural
consequence of having a full fortune is to become idle and vapid. For,
on asking what a young man has that he can employ himself upon, the
answer would be, 'Oh! why, those pursuits which presuppose solitude.' At
once you feel this to be hollow nonsense. Not one man in ten thousand
has powers to turn solitude into a blessing. They care not, _e.g._, for
geometry; and the cause is chiefly that they have been ill taught in
geometry; and the effect is that geometry must and will languish, if
treated as a mere amateur pursuit. So of any other. Secondly, yet of
Englishmen I must say that beyond all nations a man so situated does
not, in fact, become idle. He it is, and his class, that discharge the
public business of each county or district. Thirdly: And in the view,
were there no other, one sees at once the use of fox-hunting, let it be
as boisterous as you please. Is it not better to be boisterous than
gossip-ridden, eaves-dropping, seeking aliment for the spirits in the
petty scandal of the neighbourhood?

'He' (_The Times_) 'declares that the poorest artisan has a greater
stake than they' ('the Landed Interest') 'in the prosperity of the
country, and is, consequently, more likely to give sound advice. His
exposition of the intimate connection existing between the welfare of
the poor workman and the welfare of the country is both just and
admirable. But he manifestly underrates the corresponding relations of
the landowners, and wholly omits to show, even if the artisan's state
were the greatest, how his opinions are likely to be most valuable. To
suppose that a man is necessarily the best judge in whatever concerns
him most is a sad _non-sequitur_; for if self-interest ensured wisdom,
no one would ever go wrong in anything. Every man would be his own
minister, and every invalid would be his own best physician. The wounded
limbs of the community are the best judges of the pain they suffer; but
it is the wise heads of the community that best can apply a remedy that
best can cure the wound without causing it to break out in another
quarter. Poverty is blind; but the upper classes "education has
enlightened, and habit made foreseeing."'

We live in times great from the events and little from the character of
the actors. Every month summons us to the spectacle of some new perfidy
in the leaders of parties and the most conspicuous public servants; and
the profligacy which we charge upon the statesmen of the seventeenth
century has revolved in full measure upon our own days.

_Justifications of Novels._--The two following justifications of novels
occur to me. Firstly, that if some dreadful crisis awaited a ship of
passengers at the line--where equally the danger was mysterious and
multiform, the safety mysterious and multiform--how monstrous if a man
should say to a lady, 'What are you reading?' 'Oh, I'm reading about our
dreadful crisis, now so near'; and he should answer, 'Oh, nonsense! read
something to improve your mind; read about Alexander the Great, about
Spurius Ahala, about Caius Gracchus, or, if you please, Tiberius.' But
just such nonsense it is, when people ridicule reading romances in which
the great event of the fiction is the real great event of a female

There are others, you say--she loses a child. Yes, that's a great event.
But that arises out of this vast equinoctial event.

Secondly, as all things are predisposed to the natures which must be
surrounded by them, so we may see that the element of social evolution
of character, manners, caprices, etc., has been adapted to the vast mass
of human minds. It is a mean element, you say. The revelations of Albert
Smith, Dickens, etc., are essentially mean, vulgar, plebeian, not only
in an aristocratic sense, but also in a philosophical sense. True, but
the minds that are to live and move in it are also mean, essentially
mean. Nothing grand in them? Yes, doubtless in the veriest grub as to
capacity, but the capacity is undeveloped.

_Ergo_, as to the intrigue or fable, and as to the conduct or evolution
of this fable--novels must be the chief natural resource of woman.

_Moral Certainty._--As that a child of two years (or under) is not party
to a plot. Now, this would allow a shade of doubt--a child so old might
cry out or give notice.

This monstrous representation that the great war with France (1803-15)
had for its object to prevent Napoleon from sitting on the throne of
France--which recently, in contempt of all truth and common-sense, I
have so repeatedly seen advanced--throws a man profoundly on the
question of what _was_ the object of that war. Surely, in so far as we
are concerned, the matter was settled at Amiens in the very first year
of the century. December, 1799, Napoleon had been suffered by the
unsteady public opinion of France--abhorring a master, and yet sensible
that for the chief conscious necessity of France, viz., a developer of
her latent martial powers, she must look for a master or else have her
powers squandered--to mount the consular throne. He lived, he _could_
live, only by victorious war. Most perilous was the prospect for
England. In the path which not Napoleon, but France, was now preparing
to tread, and which was the path of Napoleon no otherwise than that he
was the tool of France, was that servitor who must gratify her grand
infirmity or else be rapidly extinguished himself, unhappily for
herself, England was the main counter-champion. The course of honour
left to England was too fatally the course of resistance. Resistance to
what? To Napoleon personally? Not at all; but to Napoleon as pledged by
his destiny to the prosecution of a French conquering policy. That
personally England had no hostility to Napoleon is settled by the fact
that she had at Amiens cheerfully conceded the superior power. Under
what title? would have been the most childish of demurs. That by act she
never conceded the title of emperor was the mere natural diplomatic
result of never having once been at peace with Napoleon under that
title. Else it was a point of entire indifference. Granting the
consulship, she had granted all that could be asked. And what she
opposed was the determined war course of Napoleon and the schemes of
ultra-Polish partition to which Napoleon had privately tempted her under
circumstances of no such sense as existed and still exist for Russia.
This policy, as soon as exposed, and not before bitter insults to
herself, England resisted. And therefore it is that at this day we live.
But as to Napoleon, as apart from the policy of Napoleon, no
childishness can be wilder.

At some unlucky moment when the Crown commanded unusual resources, the
De Quinceys met with the fate ascribed, perhaps fabulously, to some
small heavenly bodies (asteroids or what, I do not precisely know): on
some dark day, by mistake perhaps, they exploded, and scattered their
ruins all over the central provinces of England, where chiefly had lain
their territorial influence. Especially in the counties of Leicester,
Lincoln and Rutland were found fragments of the vast landed estates held
by these potentates when Earls of Winchester.

The hatred of truth at first dawning--that instinct which makes you
revolt from the pure beams which search the foul depths and abysses of
error--is well illustrated by the action of the atmospheric currents,
when blowing through an open window upon smoke. What do you see?
Sometimes the impression is strong upon your _ocular_ belief that the
window is driving the smoke in. You can hardly be convinced of the
contrary--scarcely when five or seven minutes has absolutely rarefied the
smoke so much that a book-lettering previously invisible has become even
legible. And at last, when the fact, the result, the experience, has
corrected the contradictory theory of the eye, you begin to suspect,
without any aid from science, that there were two currents, one of which
comes round in a curve [Illustration: )] and effects the exit for the
other which the window had driven in; just as in the Straits of Gibraltar
there is manifestly an upper current setting one way, which you therefore
conjecture to argue a lower current setting the other, and thus
redressing the equilibrium. Here the smoke corresponds to bits of chip or
any loose suspended body in the Gibraltar current. What answers to the
current of water is the air, and if the equilibrium _is_ kept up, the
re-entrant current balances your retiring current, and the latter carries
out the smoke entangled in itself. By the objection, say, of a child,
there ought to be a re-entrant column of smoke, which there is not. For
the air drives the smoke of the fire up the chimney, and of its own
contribution the air has no smoke to give.

Or the Augean stable may image it. Doubtless when the first disturbance
took place in the abominable mess, those acting would be apt to question
for a moment whether it had not been more advisable to leave it alone.

Moralists say, 'Nobody will attack you, or hate you, or blame you for
your virtues.' What falsehood! Not _as_ virtues, it may be in their
eyes, but virtues, nevertheless. Connect with Kant the error of
supposing _ætas parentum_, etc., to be the doctrine of sin.

Not for what you have done, but for what you are--not because in life
you did forsake a wife and children--did endure to eat and drink and lie
softly yourself whilst those who should have been as your heart-drops
were starving: not because you did that so much is forgiven you, but
because you were capable of that, therefore you are incapable of heaven.

_Immodesty._--The greatest mistake occurs to me now (Wednesday, April
17th, '44). A girl who should have been unhappily conscious of
voluptuous hours, her you would call modest in case of her passing with
downcast looks. But why, then, is she not so? That girl is immodest who
reconciles to herself such things, and yet assumes the look of

_About Women._--A man brings his own idle preconceptions, and fancies
that he has learned them from his experience.

Far more to be feared than any depth of serious love, however absorbing
and apparently foolish, is that vicious condition in which trifling
takes the place of all serious love, when women are viewed only as
dolls, and addressed with an odious leer of affected knowingness as 'my
dear,' wink, etc. Now to this tends the false condition of women when
called 'the ladies.' On the other hand, what an awful elevation arises
when each views in the other a creature capable of the same noble
duties--she no less than he a creature of lofty aspirations; she by the
same right a daughter of God as he a son of God; she bearing her eyes
erect to the heavens no less than he!

_Low Degree._--We see often that this takes place very strongly and
decidedly with regard to men, notoriously pleasant men and remarkably
good-natured, which shows at once in what road the thing travels. And if
such a nature should be combined with what Butler thinks virtue, it
might be doubtful to which of the two the tribute of kind attentions
were paid; but now seeing the true case, we know how to interpret this
hypothetical case of Butler's accordingly.

'Visit the sins of the fathers,' etc. This people pretend to think
monstrous. Yet what else in effect happens and must happen to Jews
inheriting by filial obedience and natural sympathy all that
anti-Christian hostility which prevailed in the age succeeding to that
of Christ? What evil--of suffering, of penalties now or in reserve may
be attached to this spirit of hostility--follows the children through
all generations!

Case of Timoleon, whose killing of his brother might afterwards be read
into X Y Z or into X a b according to his conduct (either into murder or
patriotism), is a good illustration of synthesis.

To illustrate Cicero's argument in 'Pro Cælio' as to the frequency of
men wild and dissipated in youth becoming eminent citizens, one might
adduce this case from the word _Themistocles_ in the Index to the Græci
Rhetorici. But I see or I fancy cause to notice this passage for the
following cause: it contains only nine words, four in the first comma,
five in the last, and of these nine four are taken up in noting the time
[Greek: to prôton to telen]; ergo, five words record the remarkable
revolution from one state to another, and the character of each state.

Two cases of young men's dissipation--1. Horace's record of his father's
advice: 'Concessa,' etc.; 2. Cicero's 'Pro Cælio.'

_What Crotchets in every Direction!_--1. The Germans, or, let me speak
more correctly, some of the Germans (and doubtless full of Hoch beer or
strong drink), found out some thirty years ago that there were only
three men of genius in the records of our planet. And who were they? (1)
Homer; (2) Shakespeare; (3) Goethe. So that absolutely Milton was shut
out from the constellation. Even he wanted a ticket, though Master
Sorrows-of-Werther had one. The porter, it seems, fancied he had no
marriage garment, a mistake which a mob might correct, saying, 'No
marriage garment! then, damme, he shall have this fellow's' (viz.,
Goethe's). The trinity, according to these vagabonds, was complete
without Milton, as the Roman pomp was full to the eye of the sycophant
without the bust of Brutus.

2. Macaulay fancied there were only two men of genius in the reign of
Charles II., viz., Milton and the tinker Bunyan.

3. Coleridge (p. 237, 'Table-Talk') fancied there were only two men of
genius in his own generation: W. W. and Sir Humphrey Davy.

Jeremy Taylor having mentioned two religious men, St. Paul the Hermit
and Sulpitius, as having atoned for some supposed foolish garrulities,
the one by a three years' silence, the other by a lifelong silence, goes
on to express his dissatisfaction with a mode of _rabiosa silentia_ so
memorable as this.

Yet it is certain in silence there is wisdom, and there may be deep
religion. And indeed it is certain, great knowledge, if it be without
vanity, is the most severe bridle of the tongue. For so I have heard
that all the noises and prating of the pool, the croaking of frogs and
toads, is hushed and appeased upon the instant of bringing upon them the
light of a candle or torch. Every beam of reason and ray of knowledge
checks the dissoluteness of the tongue. 'Ut quisque contemplissimus est,
ita solutissimæ linguæ est,' said Seneca.

The silence must be [Greek: kairios], not sullen and ill-natured; 'nam
sic etiam tacuisse nocet'?--of all things in the world a prating
religion and much talk in holy things does most profane the
mysteriousness of it, and dismantles its regard, and makes cheap its
reverence and takes off fear and awfulness, and makes it loose and
garish, and like the laughters of drunkenness.

_Public Morality._--It ought not to be left to a man's interest merely
to protect the animals in his power. Dogs are no longer worked in the
way they were, although the change must have arbitrarily robbed many
poor men of half bread. But in a case as valuable as that of the horse,
it has been known that a man has incurred the total ruin of a series of
horses against even his own gain or self-interest. There ought to be a
_custos veteranorum_, a keeper and protector of the poor brutes who are
brought within the pale of social use and service. The difficulty, you
say! Legislation has met and dealt effectively with far more complicated
and minute matters than that. For, after all, consider how few of the
brute creation on any wide and permanent scale are brought into the
scheme of human life. Some birds as food, some fishes as ditto; beeves
as food and _sometimes_ as appliers of strength; horses in both
characters. These with elephants and camels, mules, asses, goats, dogs,
and sheep, cats and rabbits, gold-fishes and singing-birds, really
compose the whole of our animal equipage harnessed to the car of human

3.--On Words And Style.

There are a number of words which, unlocked from their absurd
imprisonment, would become extensively useful. We should say, for
instance, 'condign honours,' 'condign treatment' (treatment appropriate
to the merits), thus at once realizing two rational purposes, viz.,
giving a useful function to a word, which at present has none, and also
providing an intelligible expression for an idea which otherwise is left
without means of uttering itself except through a ponderous
circumlocution. Precisely in the same circumstances of idle and absurd
sequestration stands the term _polemic_. At present, according to the
popular usage, this word has some fantastic inalienable connection with
controversial theology. There cannot be a more childish chimera. No
doubt there is a polemic side or aspect of theology; but so there is of
_all_ knowledge; so there is of _every_ science. The radical and
characteristic idea concerned in this term _polemic_ is found in our own
Parliamentary distinction of _the good speaker_, as contrasted with _the
good debater_. The good speaker is he who unfolds the whole of a
question in its affirmative aspects, who presents these aspects in their
just proportions, and according to their orderly and symmetrical
deductions from each other. But the good debater is he who faces the
negative aspects of the question, who meets sudden objections, has an
answer for any momentary summons of doubt or difficulty, dissipates
seeming inconsistencies, and reconciles the geometrical smoothness of _à
priori_ abstractions with the coarse angularities of practical
experience. The great work of Ricardo is of necessity, and almost in
every page, polemic; whilst very often the particular objections or
difficulties, to which it replies, are not indicated at all, being
spread through entire systems, and assumed as _precognita_ that are
familiar to the learned student.

Writing to scholastic persons, I should be ashamed to explain, but
hoping that I write to many also of the non-scholastic, and even of the
unlearned, I rejoice to explain the proper sense of the word _implicit_.
As the word _condign_, so capable of an extended sense, is yet
constantly restricted to one miserable association, viz., that with the
word _punishment_ (for we never say, as we might say, 'condign
rewards'), so also the word _implicit_ is in English always associated
with the word _faith_. People say that Papists have an _implicit_ faith
in their priests. What they mean is this: If a piece of arras, or a
carpet, is folded up, then it is _implicit_ according to the original
Latin word; if it is unfolded and displayed, then it is _explicit_.
Therefore, when a poor illiterate man (suppose a bog-trotter of Mayo or
Galway) says to his priest (as in effect always he _does_ say), 'Sir, I
cannot comprehend all this doctrine; bless you, I have not the
thousandth part of the learning for it, so it is impossible that I
should directly believe it. But your reverence believes it, the thing is
_wrapt up_ (implicit) in you, and I believe it on that account.' Here
the priest believes explicitly: _he_ believes implicitly.

_Modern._--Is it not shameful that to this hour even literary men of
credit and repute cannot for the life of them interpret this line from
'As You Like It'--

    'Full of wise saws and modern instances'?

A man as well read as Mr. Theodore Hook, and many a hundred beside, have
seriously understood it to mean 'Full of old proverbs, the traditionary
wisdom of nations, and of illustrative examples drawn from modern
experience.' Nonsense! The meaning is, 'Full of old maxims and proverbs,
and of trivial attempts at argument.' That is, tediously redundant in
rules derived from the treasury of popular proverbs,' and in feeble
attempts at connecting these general rules with the special case before
him. The superannuated old magistrate sets out with a proverb, as for
instance this, that _the mother of mischief is no bigger than a midge's
wing_. That proverb forms his major proposition. In his minor
proposition he goes on to argue that the trespass charged upon the
particular prisoner before him was very little bigger than a midge's
wing. And then in his conclusion triumphantly he infers, Ergo, the
prisoner at the bar is the mother of mischief. But says the constable,
'Please, your worship, the prisoner is a man, a hulking clodhopper, some
six or seven feet high, with a strong black beard.' 'Well, that makes no
odds,' rejoins his worship; 'then he's the father of mischief. Clerk,
make out his mittimus.'

The word 'instance' (from the scholastic _instantia_) never meant
_example_ in Shakespeare's age. The word 'modern' never once in
Shakespeare means what it means to _us_ in these days. Even the monkish
Latin word 'modernus' fluctuated in meaning, and did not always imply
_recens_, _neotericus_; but in Shakespeare never. What _does_ it mean in
Shakespeare? Once and for ever it means _trivial_, _inconsiderable_. Dr.
Johnson had too much feeling not to perceive that the word 'modern' had
this value in Shakespeare's acceptation; practically, he felt that it
_availed_ for that sense, but theoretically he could not make out the
_why_. It means that, said the Doctor; but feebly and querulously, like
one sick of the pip, he added, 'Yet I don't know why.' Don't you? Now,
we _do_. The fact is, Dr. Johnson was in a fit of the dismals at that
time; he had recently committed a debauch of tea, having exceeded his
usual allowance by seventy-five cups, so that naturally he had a
'curmurring' in the stomach. Else he could not have failed to see what
we are now going to explain with a wet finger. Everybody is aware that
to be _material_ is the very opposite of being trivial. What is
'material' in a chain of evidence, or in an argument, can never be
trifling. Now, therefore, if you can find a word that will flatly
contradict this word _material_, then you have a capital term for
expressing what is trivial. Well, you find in the word _immaterial_ all
that you are seeking. 'It is quite immaterial' will suit Mr. Touts's
purpose just as well as 'It is really of no consequence, of no
consequence in the world.' To say in a law court that the objection is
immaterial is otherwise to say that it is trivial. Here, then, is the
first step: to contradict the idea of _material_ is effectually to
express the idea of _trivial_. Let us now see if we can find any other
contradiction to the idea of _material_, for one antithesis to that idea
will express as well as any other antithesis the counterpole of the
trivial. Now, clearly the substance of a thing, the material out of
which it is made, is oftentimes of great importance by comparison with
its shape, fashion, or mode. It is of value in your eyes to know whether
your family plate is in substance of gold or of silver; but whether such
a vessel is round or square, ornamented with a wreath of acanthus or
ivy, supported by tigers or by fawns, may be a trivial consideration, or
even worse; for the fashion of your plate, after it has once become
obsolete, may count against you for so much loss as something that will
cost a good deal of money to alter. Here, then, is another contradiction
to the material, and therefore another expression for the trivial:
matter, as against vacancy or the privation of matter, yields the
antithesis of material or immaterial, substantial and unsubstantial;
matter, as against form, yields the antithesis of substance and shape,
or otherwise of material and modal--what is matter and what is the mere
modification of matter, its variation by means of ornament or shape.

The word 'modern' is therefore in Shakespeare uniformly to be pronounced
with the long _o_, as in the words m_o_dal, m_o_dish, and never with the
short _o_ of m[)o]derate, m[)o]dest, or our present word m[)o]dern. And
the law under which Shakespeare uses the word is this: whatsoever is so
trivial as to fall into the relation of a mere shape or fleeting mode to
a permanent substance, _that_ with Shakespeare is modish, or (according
to his form) modern.[29] Thus, a weak, trivial argument (or _instantia_,
the scholastic term for an argument not latent merely, or merely having
the office of sustaining a truth, but urged as an objection, having the
polemic office of contradicting an opponent) is in Shakespeare's idiom,
when viewed as against a substantial argument, a _modern_ argument.

Again, when Cleopatra, defending herself against the perfidy of her
steward, wishes to impress upon Octavius that any articles which she may
have kept back from the inventory of her personal chattels are but
trifles, she expresses this by saying that they are but

    'Such as we greet modern friends withal;'

_i.e._, such as we bestow, at welcoming or at parting, upon the
slightest acquaintances. The whole stress of the logic lies upon the
epithet _modern_--for simply as friends, had they been substantial
friends, they might have levied any amount from the royal lady's bounty;
kingdoms would have been slight gifts in her eyes, and _that_ would soon
have been objected to by her conqueror. But her argument is, that the
people to whom such gifts would be commensurate are mere _modish_
friends, persons known to us on terms of bare civility, people with whom
we exchange salutations in the street, or occasional calls, what now we
call acquaintances, for whom in Shakespeare's time there was no
distinguishing expression.

Another case we remember at this moment in 'All's Well that Ends Well.'
It occurs in Act II., at the very opening of scene iii.; the particular
edition, the only one we can command at the moment, is an obscure one
published by Scott, Webster and Geary, Charterhouse Square, 1840, and we
mention it thus circumstantially because the passage is falsely
punctuated; and we have little doubt that in all other editions, whether
with or without the false punctuation, the syntax is generally
misapprehended. In reality, the false punctuation has itself grown out
of the false apprehension of the syntax, and not _vice versâ_. Thus the
words stand _literatim et punctuatim_: 'They say, miracles are past: and
we have our philosophical persons to make modern and familiar things,
supernatural and causeless.' The comma ought to have been placed after
'familiar,' the sense being this--and we have amongst us sceptical and
irreligious people to represent as trivial and of daily occurrence
things which in reality are supernatural and causeless (that is, not
lying amongst the succession of physical causes and effects, but sent as
miracles by the immediate agency of God). According to the true sense,
_things supernatural and causeless_ must be understood as the subject,
of which _modern and familiar_ is the predicate.

Mr. Grindon fancies that _frog_ is derived from the syllable [Greek:
trach (k)] of [Greek: batrachos]. This will cause some people to smile,
and recall Menage's pleasantry about Alfana, the man of Orlando; It is
true that _frog_ at first sight seems to have no letter in common except
the snarling letter (_litera canina_). But this is not so; the _a_ and
the _o_, the _s_ and the _k_, are perhaps essentially the same. And even
in the case where, positively and literally, not a single letter is
identical, it is odd, but undeniable, that the two words may be nearly
allied as mother and child. One instance is notorious, but it is worth
citing for a purpose of instructive inference. 'Journal,' as a French
word, or, if you please, as an English word--whence came that?
Unquestionably and demonstrably from the Latin word _dies_, in which,
however, visibly there is not one letter the same as any one of the
seven that are in journal. Yet mark the rapidity of the transition.
_Dies_ (a day) has for its derivative adjective _daily_ the word
_diurnus_. Now, the old Roman pronunciation of _diu_ was exactly the
same as _gio_, both being pronounced as our English _jorn_. Here, in a
moment, we see the whole--_giorno_, a day, was not derived directly from
_dies_, but secondarily through _diurnus_. Then followed _giornal_, for
a diary, or register of a day, and from that to French, as also, of
course, the English _journal_. But the _moral_ is, that when to the eye
no letter is the same, may it not be so to the ear? Already the _di_ of
_dies_ anticipates and enfolds the _giorno_.

Mr. Grindon justly remarks upon the tendency, in many instances, of the
German _ss_ to reappear in English forms as _t_. Thus _heiss_ (hot),
_fuss_ (foot), etc. These are Mr. Grindon's own examples, and a striking
confirmation occurs in the old English _hight_, used for _he was
called_, and again for the participle _called_, and again, in the 'Met.
Romanus,' for _I was called_: 'Lorde, he saide, I highth Segramour.'
Now, the German is _heissen_ (to be called). And this is a tendency
hidden in many long ages: as, for instance, in Greek, every person must
remember the transition of [Greek: tt] and [Greek: ss] as in [Greek:
thattô], [Greek: thassô].

_On Pronunciation and Spelling._--If we are to surrender the old
vernacular sound of the _e_ in certain situations to a ridiculous
criticism of the _eye_, and in defiance of the protests rising up
clamorously from every quarter of old English scholarship, let us at
least know to _what_ we surrender. What letter is to usurp the vacant
seat? What letter? retorts the purist--why, an _e_, to be sure. An _e_?
And do you call _that_ an _e_? Do you pronounce 'ten' as if it were
written 'tun', or 'men' as if written 'mun'? The 'Der' in Derby,
supposing it tolerable at all to alter its present legitimate sound,
ought, then, to be pronounced as the 'Der' in the Irish name Derry, not
as 'Dur'; and the 'Ber' in Berkeley not as 'Bur,' but as the 'Ber' in
Beryl. But the whole conceit has its origin in pure ignorance of English
archæology, and in the windiest of all vanities, viz., the attempt to
harmonize the spelling and the pronunciation of languages.

Naturally, it fills one with contempt for these 'Derby' purists to find
that their own object, the very purpose they are blindly and
unconsciously aiming at, has been so little studied or steadily
contemplated by them in anything approaching to its whole extent. Why,
upon the principle which they silently and virtually set up, though
carrying it out so contradictorily (driving out an _a_ on the plea that
it is not an _e_, only to end by substituting, _and without being
aware_, the still remoter letter _u_), the consequence must be that the
whole language would go to wreck. Nine names out of every ten would need
tinkering. 'London,' for instance, no more receives the normal sound of
the _o_ in either of its syllables than does the _e_ in 'Derby.' The
normal sound of the _o_ is that heard in 'song,' 'romp,' 'homage,'
'drop.' Nevertheless, the sound given to the _o_ in 'London,'
'Cromwell,' etc., which strictly is the short sound of _u_ in 'lubber,'
'butter,' etc., is a secondary sound of _o_ in particular combinations,
though not emphatically its proper sound. The very same defence applies
to the _e_ in 'Berkeley,' etc. It is the legitimate sound of the English
_e_ in that particular combination, viz., when preceding an _r_, though
not its normal sound. But think of the wild havoc that would be made of
other more complex anomalies, if these purists looked an inch in
advance. Glocester or Gloucester, Worcester, Cirencester, Pontefract,
etc. What elaborate and monstrous pronunciations would they affix to
these names? The whole land would cease to recognise itself. And that
the purists should never have contemplated these veritable results, this
it is which seals and rivets one's contempt for them.

Now, if such harmony were at all desirable (whereas, on the contrary, we
should thus be carrying ruin into the traditions and obliteration into
the ethnological links of languages, industriously, in fact, throwing up
insuperable obstacles in the path of historical researches), it would be
far better, instead of adjusting the pronunciation to the imaginary
value of the spelling, inversely to adjust the spelling to the known and
established pronunciation, as a certain class of lunatics amongst
ourselves, viz., the _phonetic gang_, have for some time been doing

Here, therefore, I hope is one fixed point. Here there is anchorage. The
usage is the rule, at any rate; and the law of analogy takes effect only
where _that_ cannot be decisively ascertained.

_The Latin Word 'Felix.'_--The Romans appear to me to have had no term
for _happy_, which argues that they had not the idea. _Felix_ is tainted
with the idea of success, and is thus palpably referred to life as a
competition, which for Romans every distinguished life was. In fact,
apart from his city the Roman was nothing. Too poor to have a villa or
any mode of retirement, it is clear that the very idea of Roman life
supposes for the vast majority a necessity of thick crowded intercourse,
without the possibility of solitude. I, for my peculiar constitution of
mind, to whom solitude has in all periods of life been more of a
necessity almost than air, view with special horror the life of a Roman
or Athenian. All the morning he had to attend a factious hustings or a
court--assemblies deliberative or judicial. Here only he was somebody,
and yet, however, somebody through others. Combining with one leader and
many underlings like himself, he also became a power; but in himself and
for himself, after all, he was consciously nothing. When Cicero speaks
of his _nunquam minus Solus quam cum solus_, he is announcing what he
feels to be, and knows will be, accepted as a very extraordinary fact.
For even _in rure_ it is evident that friends made it a duty of
friendship to seek out and relieve their rusticating friends.

_On the Distinction between 'Rhetorica utens' and 'Rhetorica
docens'._--It was a perplexity, familiar to the experience of the
Schoolmen, that oftentimes one does not know whether to understand by
the term _logic_ the act and process of reasoning involved and latent in
any series of connected propositions, or this same act and process
formally abstracting itself as an art and system of reasoning. For
instance, if you should happen to say, 'Dr. Isaac Watts, the English
Nonconformist, was a good man, and a clever man; but alas! for his
logic, what can his best friend say for it? The most charitable opinion
must pronounce it at the best so, so'--in such a case, what is it that
you would be understood to speak of? Would it be the general quality of
the Doctor's reasoning, the style and character of his philosophical
method, or would it be the particular little book known as 'The Doctor:
his _Logic_,' price 5s., bound in calf, and which you might be very shy
of touching with a pair of tongs, for fear of dimming their steel
polish, so long as your wife's eye was upon your motions? The same
ambiguity affects many other cases. For instance, if you heard a man
say, 'The _rhetoric_ of Cicero is not fitted to challenge much
interest,' you might naturally understand it of the particular style and
rhetorical colouring--which was taxed with being florid; nay, Rhodian;
nay, even Asiatic--that characterizes that great orator's compositions;
or, again, the context might so restrain the word as to _force_ it into
meaning the particular system or theory of rhetoric addressed to
Herennius, a system which (being traditionally ascribed to Cicero) is
usually printed amongst his works. Here, and in scores of similar cases,
lies often a trap for the understanding; but the Schoolmen evaded this
trap by distinguishing between 'Rhetorica _utens_,' and 'Rhetorica
_docens_,' between the rhetoric that laid down or delivered didactically
the elements of oratorical persuasion as an art to be learned, and
rhetoric, on the other hand, as a creative energy that _wielded_ these
elements by the mouth of Pericles in the year 440 B. C., or by the mouth
of Demosthenes, 340 B. C.; between rhetoric the scholastic art and
rhetoric the heaven-born _power;_ between the rhetoric of Aristotle that
illuminated the solitary student, and the rhetoric of Demosthenes that
ran along in rolling thunders to the footstool of Artaxerxes' throne.
Oh, these dear spindle-shanked Schoolmen! they were people, respected
reader, not to be sneezed at. What signifies having spindle-shanks?

_Synonyms._--A representative and a delegate, according to Burke, are
identical; but there is the same difference as between a person who on
his own results of judgment manages the interests of X, and a person
merely reporting the voice of X. Probably there never was a case which
so sharply illustrated the liability of goodish practical understanding
to miss, to fail in seeing, an object lying right before the eyes; and
that is more wonderful in cases where the object is not one of
multitude, but exists almost in a state of insulation. At the coroner's
inquest on a young woman who died from tight-lacing, acting, it was
said, in combination with a very full meal of animal food, to throw the
heart out of position, Mr. Wakely pronounced English or British people
all distorted in the spine, whereas _Continental_ people were all right.
Continental! How unlimited an idea! Why, it meant nothing; it defines
nothing, limits nothing, excludes nothing. Who or what is Continental?
Apparently it means anyone out of 240 millions not being one of the 27
millions in the Britannides. Every man escapes an insane folly who
happens to breathe an air E. (N. E., S. E., N. N. E., S. S. E., etc.) of
the Britannides. Vanity, the inevitable wish to improve, or rather to
avail, one's self of a natural means offered for deepening and marking
out the natural outline of the shape, _i.e._, of the sexual
characteristics, has no effect, dies out, the instant that a family is
one of those who have the privilege of basking anywhere 2,000 miles E.
or 2,000 miles N. and S.!

A whistling to a horse: Poppysme (_vide_ Whistling, Lat. Dict.); but
poppysme is a patting, a clapping, on the back, neck, or, doubtless,
wherever the animal is sensible of praise.

'Takest away.' This beautiful expression, though exquisitely treated by

          'That all evil thoughts and aims
    Takest away,'

is yet originally borrowed by Mr. W. from the Litany: 'O Lamb of God,
that takest away the sins of the world.'

In style to explain the true character of note-writing--how compressed
and unrambling and direct it ought to be, and _illustrate_ by the
villainous twaddle of many Shakespearian notes.

_Syllogism._--In the _Edin. Advertiser_ for Friday, January 25, 1856, a
passage occurs taken from _Le Nord_ (or _Journal du Nord_), or some
paper whose accurate title I do not know, understood to be Russian in
its leanings, which makes a most absurd and ignorant use of this word.
The Allies are represented as addressing an argument to Russia,
amounting, I think, to this, viz.: that, in order to test her sincerity,
would it not be well for Russia at once to cede such insulated points of
territory as were valuable to Russia or suspicious to the Allies simply
as furnishing means for invasion of Turkey? And this argument is called
a _syllogism_.

'_Laid in wait_ for him.'--This false phrase occurs in some article (a
Crimea article, I suppose) in the same _Advertiser_ of January 25. And I
much doubt whether any ordinary ear would reconcile itself to _lay in
wait_ (as a _past_ tense) even when instructed in its propriety.

Those Scotticisms are worst which are nonsensical, as _e.g._:

    'Whenever he died
     Fully more.'

_Timeous_ and _dubiety_ are bad, simply as not authorized by any but
local usage. A word used only in Provence or amongst the Pyrenees could
not be employed by a classical French writer, except under a _caveat_
and for a special purpose.

Plent_y_, used under the absurd misleading of its terminal 'y' as an
adjective. _Alongst_, remember _of_; able _for_, the worse _of_ liquor,
to call _for, to go the length_ of, as applied to a distance; 'I don't
think _it_,' instead of 'I don't think _so_.'

In the _Lady's Newspaper_ for Saturday, May 8, 1852 (No. 280), occurs
the very worst case of exaggerated and incredible mixed silliness and
vulgarity connected with the use of _assist_ for _help_ at the
dinner-table that I have met with. It occurs in the review of a book
entitled 'The Illustrated London Cookery Book,' by Frederick Bishop. Mr.
Bishop, it seems, had 'enjoyed the office of cuisinier at the Palace,
and among some of our first nobility.' He has, by the way, an
introductory 'Philosophy of Cookery.' Two cases occur of this matchless

1. An ideal carver is described: he, after carving, 'is as cool and
collected as ever, and _assists_ the portions he has carved with as much
grace as he displayed in carving the fowl.'

2. Further on, when contrasting, not the carvers, but the things _to be_
carved, coming to '_Neck of Veal_,' he says of the carver: 'Should the
vertebræ have not been jointed by the butcher, you would find yourself
in the position of the ungraceful carver, being compelled to exercise a
degree of strength which should never be suffered to appear, very
possibly, too, _assisting_ gravy in a manner not contemplated by the
person unfortunate enough to receive it.'

_Genteel_ is the vulgarest and most plebeian of all known words.
Accordingly (and strange it is that the educated users of this word
should not perceive that fact), aristocratic people--people in the most
undoubted _élite_ of society as to rank or connections--utterly ignore
the word. They are aware of its existence in English dictionaries; they
know that it slumbers in those vast repositories; they even apprehend
your meaning in a vague way when you employ it as an epithet for
assigning the pretensions of an individual or a family. Generally it is
understood to imply that the party so described is in a position to make
morning calls, to leave cards, to be presentable for anything to the
contrary apparent in manners, style of conversation, etc. But these and
other suggestions still leave a vast area unmapped of blank charts in
which the soundings are still doubtful.

The word 'genteel' is so eminently vulgar apparently for this reason,
that it presents a non-vulgar distinction under a gross and vulgar
conception of that distinction. The true and central notion, on which
the word revolves, is elevating; but, by a false abstraction of its
elements, it is degraded. And yet in parts of this island where the
progress of refinement is torpid, and the field of vision is both narrow
and unchanging in all that regards the _nuances_ of manners, I have
remarked that the word 'genteel' maintains its old advantageous
acceptation; and as a proof of this, eminent and even revolutionary
thinkers born and bred in such provincial twilight, use the word as if
untainted and hardly aware that it is flyblown.

Among ourselves it is certain that a peculiar style of gossip, of
babble, and of miniature intriguing, invests the atmosphere of little
'townishness,' such as often entangles the more thoughtful and
dignified of the residents in troublesome efforts at passive resistance
or active counter-action. In dealing with this matter, Mr. Wordsworth
instanced Northampton and Nottingham; but a broader difference could
hardly be than between these towns. And just as 'genteel' remains the
vulgarest of all words, so the words 'simple' and 'simplicity,' amongst
all known words, offer the most complex and least simple of ideas.

Having made this deprecation on behalf of my own criminality in using
such a word as 'genteel,' I go on to say that whilst Northampton was
(and _is_, I believe) of all towns the most genteel, Nottingham for more
than two centuries has been the most insurrectionary and in a scarlet
excess democratic. Nottingham, in fact, has always resembled the
Alexandria of ancient days; whilst Northampton could not be other than
aristocratic as the centre of a county more thickly gemmed by the
ancestral seats of our nobility than any beside in the island. Norwich,
again, though a seat of manufacturing industry, has always been modified
considerably by a literary body of residents.

'Mein alter Herr' (von Stein) 'pflegte dann wohl scherzend zu sagen: Ich
müsse von irgend eine Hexe meinen Altem als ein Wechselbalg in's Nest
gelegt seyn; ich gehöre offenbar einem Stamm amerikanischer wilden an,
und habe noch die Hühnerhundnase zum Auswittern des verschiedenen
Blutes.' Arndt, speaking of his power to detect at sight (when seen at a
distance) Russians, English, etc., says that Von Stein replied thus in
his surprise. But I have cited the passage as one which amply
illustrates the suspensive form of sentence in the German always
indicated by a colon (:), thus: 'zu sagen: Ich müsse'--to say that I
must have been (p. 164).

The active sense of _fearful_, viz., that which causes and communicates
terror--not that which receives terror--was undoubtedly in Shakespeare's
age, but especially amongst poets, the preponderant sense. Accordingly I
am of opinion that even in neutral cases, such as are open indifferently
to either sense, viz., that which affrights, or that which is itself
affrighted, the bias in Shakespeare's interpretation of the feeling lay
towards the former movement. For instance, in one of his sonnets:

    'Oh, fearful meditation! where, alas!'

the true construction I believe to be--not this: Oh, though _deriving_
terror from the circumstances surrounding thee, _suffering_ terror from
the _entourage_ of considerations pursuing thee; but this: Oh, thought
impressing and creating terror, etc. A 'fearful' agent in Shakespeare's
use is not one that shrinks in alarm from the act, but an agent that
causes others to shrink; not panic-struck, but panic-striking.

Miss Edgeworth, let me remark, commits trespasses on language that are
really past excusing. In one place she says that a man 'had a
_contemptible_ opinion' of some other man's understanding. Such a
blunder is not of that class which usage sanctions, and an accuracy not
much short of pedantry would be argued in noticing: it is at once
illiterate and vulgar in the very last degree. I mean that it is common
amongst vulgar people, and them only. It ranks, for instance, with the
common formula of '_I_ am agreeable, if you prefer it.'

Style is the disentangling of thoughts or ideas reciprocally involved in
each other.


Religion under any of its aspects, revealing or consoling--religion in
connection with any of its affinities, ethics or metaphysics, when
_self_-evoked by a person of earnest nature, not imposed from without by
the necessities of monastic life, not caught as a contagion from the
example of friends that surround you, argues some 'vast volcanic agency'
moving at subterraneous depths below the ordinary working mind of daily
life, and entitled by its own intrinsic grandeur to ennoble the
curiosity (else a petty passion) which may put questions as to its
origin. In any case of religion arising, as a spontaneous birth, in the
midst of alien forces, it is inevitable to ask for its _why_ and its
_whence_. Religion considered as a sentiment of devotion, as a yearning
after some dedication to an immeasurable principle of that noblest
temple among all temples--'the upright heart and pure,' or religion,
again, as the apprehension of some mighty synthesis amongst truths dimly
perceived heretofore amidst separating clouds, but now brought into
strict indissoluble connection, proclaims a revolution so great that it
is otherwise not to be accounted for than as the breaking out of a germ
of the supernatural in man as a seed from a hitherto barren soil.

Sin is that secret word, that dark _aporréton_ of the human race,
undiscoverable except by express revelation, which having once been laid
in the great things of God as a germinal principle, has since blossomed
into a vast growth of sublime ideas known only to those nations who have
lived under the moulding of Scriptural truth--and comprehending _all_
functions of the Infinite operatively familiar to man. Yes, I affirm
that there is no form through which the Infinite reveals itself in a
sense comprehensible by man and adequate to man; that there is no
sublime agency which _compresses_ the human mind from infancy so as to
mingle with the moments of its growth, positively none but has been in
its whole origin--in every part--and exclusively developed out of that
tremendous mystery which lurks under the name of sin.

Yes, I affirm that even in its dreams every Christian child is invested
by an atmosphere of sublimity unknown to the greatest of Pagan
philosophers: that golden rays reach it by two functions of the
Infinite; and that these, in common with those emanations of the
Infinite that do not settle upon the mind until mature years, are all
projections--derivations or counterpositions--from the obscure idea of
sin; could not have existed under any previous condition; and for a
Pagan mind would not have been intelligible.

_Sin._--It is not only that the Infinite arises as part of the entire
system resting on sin, but specifically from sin apart from its
counterforces or reactions, viz., from sin as a thing, and the only
thing originally shadowy and in a terrific sense mysterious.

_Stench._--I believe that under Burke's commentary, this idea would
become a high test of the doctrine of the Infinite. He pronounces it
sublime, or sublime in cases of intensity. Now, first of all, the
intense state of everything or anything is but a mode of power, that
idea or element or moment of greatness under a varied form. Here, then,
is nothing _proper_ or separately peculiar to stench: it is not stench
_as_ stench, but stench as a mode or form of sensation, capable
therefore of intensification. It is but a case under what we may suppose
a general Kantian rule--that every sensation runs through all
gradations, from the lowest or most obscure and nascent to the highest.
Secondly, however, pass over to the contemplation of stench _as_ stench:
then I affirm--that as simply expounding the decay, and altering or
spoiling tendency or state of all things--simply as a register of
imperfection, and of one which does not (as ruins to the eye) ever put
on a pleasing transitional aspect, it is merely disagreeable, but also
at the same time mean. For the imperfection is merely transitional and
fleeting, not absolute. First, midst and last, it is or can be grand
when it reverts or comes round upon its mediating point, or point of

The arrangement of my Infinite must be thus: After having expounded the
idea of holiness which I must show to be now potent, proceed to show
that the Pagan Gods did not realize and did not meet this idea; that
then came the exposure of the Pagan Gods and the conscious presence of a
new force among mankind, which opened up the idea of the Infinite,
through the awakening perception of holiness.

I believe that in every mode of existence, which probably is always by
an incarnation, the system of flesh is made to yield the organs that
express the alliance of man with the Infinite. Thus the idea of mystery,
[Greek: aporrêta], finds its organ of expression in the sensualities of
the human race. Again, the crime, whatever it were, and the eternal
pollution is expressed in these same organs. Also, the prolongation of
the race so as to find another system is secured by the same organs.

Generally, that is, for a million against a unit, the awful mystery by
which the fearful powers of death, and sorrow, and pain, and sin are
locked into parts of a whole; so as, in fact, to be repetitions,
reaffirmations of each other under a different phase--this is nothing,
does not exist. Death sinks to a mere collective term--a category--a
word of convenience for purposes of arrangement. You depress your hands,
and, behold! the system disappears; you raise them, it reappears. This
is nothing--a cipher, a shadow. Clap your hands like an Arabian girl,
and all comes back. Unstop your ears, and a roar as of St. Lawrence
enters: stop your ears, and it is muffled. To and fro; it is and it is
not--is not and is. Ah, mighty heaven, that such a mockery should cover
the whole vision of life! It is and it is not; and on to the day of your
death you will still have to learn what is the truth.

The eternal now through the dreadful loom is the overflowing future
poured back into the capacious reservoir of the past. All the active
element lies in that infinitesimal _now_. The future is not except by
relation; the past is not at all, and the present but a sign of a nexus
between the two.

God's words require periods, so His counsels. He cannot precipitate
them any more than a man in a state of happiness _can_ commit suicide.
Doubtless it is undeniable that a man may arm his hand with a sword: and
that his flesh will be found penetrable to the sword, happy or not. But
this apparent physical power has no existence, no value for a creature
having a double nature: the moral nature not only indisposes him to use
his power, but really creates a far greater antagonist power.

This God--too great to be contemplated steadily by the loftiest of human
eyes; too approachable and condescending to be shunned by the meanest in
affliction: realizing thus in another form that reconcilement of
extremes, which St. Paul observed: far from all created beings, yet also
very near.

'A conviction that they needed a Saviour was growing amongst men.' How?
In what sense? Saviour from what? You can't be saved from nothing. There
must be a danger, an evil threatening, before even in fancy you can
think of a deliverer. Now, what evil was there existing to a Pagan? Sin?
Monstrous! No such idea ever dawned upon the Pagan intellect. Death?
Yes; but that was inalienable from his nature. Pain and disease? Yes;
but these were perhaps inalienable also. Mitigated they might be, but it
must be by human science, and the progress of knowledge. Grief? Yes; but
this was inalienable from life. Mitigated it might be, but by superior
philosophy. From what, then, was a Saviour to save? If nothing to save
from, how any Saviour? But here arises as the awful of awfuls to me, the
deep, deep exposure of the insufficient knowledge and sense of what is
peculiar to Christianity. To imagine some sense of impurity, etc.,
leading to a wish for a Saviour in a Pagan, is to defraud Christianity
of all its grandeur. If Paganism could develop the want, it is not at
all clear that Paganism did not develop the remedy. Heavens! how
deplorable a blindness! But did not a Pagan lady feel the insufficiency
of earthly things for happiness? No; because any feeling tending in that
direction would be to her, as to all around her, simply a diseased
feeling, whether from dyspepsia or hypochondria, and one, whether
diseased or not, worthless for practical purposes. It would have to be a
Christian lady, if something far beyond, something infinite, were not
connected with it, depending on it. But if this were by you ascribed to
the Pagan lady, then _that_ is in other words to make her a Christian
lady already.

_Exhibition of a Roman Dialogue on Sin._--What! says the ignorant and
unreflecting modern Christian. Do you mean to tell me that a Roman,
however buried in worldly objects, would not be startled at hearing of a
Saviour? Now, hearken.

ROMAN. Saviour! What do you mean? Saviour for what? In good faith, my
friend, you labour under some misconception. I am used to rely on myself
for all the saving that I need. And, generally speaking, if you except
the sea, and those cursed north-east winds, I know of no particular

CHRISTIAN. Oh, my friend, you totally mistake the matter. I mean saving
from sin.

ROMAN. Saving from a fault, that is--well, what sort of a fault? Or, how
should a man, that you say is no longer on earth, save me from any
fault? Is it a book to warn me of faults that He has left?

CHRISTIAN. Why, yes. Not that He wrote Himself; but He talked, and His
followers have recorded His views. But still you are quite in the dark.
Not faults, but the fountain of all faults, that is what He will save
you from.

ROMAN. But how? I can understand that by illuminating my judgment in
general He might succeed in making me more prudent.

CHRISTIAN. 'Judgment,' 'prudent'--these words show how wide by a whole
hemisphere you are of the truth. It is your will that He applies His
correction to.

ROMAN. 'Will!' why I've none but peaceable and lawful designs, I assure
you. Oh! I begin to see. You think me a partner with those pirates that
we just spoke to.

CHRISTIAN. Not at all, my friend. I speak not of designs or intentions.
What I mean is, the source of all desires--what I would call your wills,
your whole moral nature.

ROMAN (_bridling_). Ahem! I hope Roman nature is quite as little in need
of improvement as any other. There are the Cretans; they held up their
heads. Accordingly they had their fire institutions, and that true
institution against bribery and luxury, and all such stuff. They fancied
themselves impregnable. Why, bless you! even Marcus Tullius, that was a
prosing kind of man and rather peevish about such things, could not keep
in the truth. 'Why, Cato, my boy,' says he, 'you talk.' And to hear you,
bribery and luxury would not leave one a stick to fight for. Why, now,
these same Cretans--lord! we took the conceit out of them in
twenty-five minutes. No more time, I assure you, did it cost three of
our cohorts to settle the whole lot of them.

CHRISTIAN. My friend, you are more and more in the dark. What I mean is
not present in your senses, but a disease.

ROMAN. Oh, a disease! that's another thing. But where?

CHRISTIAN. Why, it affects the brain and the heart.

ROMAN. Well, now, one at a time. Take the brain--we have a disease, and
we treat it with white hellebore. There may be a better way. But answer
me this. If you are generally affected, what right have you to bring, as
you are supposing, a diseased brain to a sound one? We Romans are all
sound--sound as a bell.

Then Christian goes on to the history of the fall. But the whole would
be self-baffled and construed away from want of sin as the antithesis of

_Why St. Paul and the Athenians did not come to an Understanding._--So,
again, if you think that St. Paul had a chance with the Athenians. If he
had, it would tax his divine benevolence to see that he forbore to
pursue it. This attempt shows that he was under a misconception. He
fancied a possibility of preaching a pure religion. What followed? He
was, he must have been defeated. That is, practically, else why did he
not persist? But his confutation was the factual confutation of
experience. It was no go. That he found too surely. But why? I am sure
that he never found out. Enough that he felt--that under a strong
instinct he misgave--a deep, deep gulf between him and them, so that
neither could he make a way to their sense, nor they, except
conjecturally, to his. For, just review the case. What was the [Greek:
euangelion], the good tidings, which he announced to man? What burthen
of hope? What revelation of a mystery of hope arising out of a deeper
mystery of despair? He announced a deliverer. Deliverer! from what?
Answer that--from what? Why, from evil, you say. Evil! of what kind?
Why, you retort, did not the Pagans admit that man was lying under evil?
Not at all; nothing of the kind. But you are sure you have heard of such
things? Very likely. And now you are forced back upon your arguments you
remember specially that evil as to its origin was a favourite
speculation of theirs. Evil, in its most comprehensive designation,
whence is it? How came it? Now, mark, even to that extent, viz., the
extent indicated by this problem, the ancients had no conception of evil
corresponding to, no, nor dimly approaching to, a correspondence with
ours. They had no ineffable standard of purity; how, then, any function
of impurity? They had no ineffable doctrine of pain or suffering
answering to a far more realized state of perception, and, therefore,
unimaginably more exquisite; how, then, could they raise a question on
the nature or fountains of such pains? They executed no synthesis, and
could execute none upon the calamities of life; they never said in
ordinary talk that this was a world of sorrow, either apostrophizing a
newborn child, or a world of disappointment, bemoaning a mature victim;
neither as in the anguish of meditative reflection, nor in the prudence
of extenuating apology. The grand _sanctus_ which arises from human
sensibility, Perish empires and the crowns of kings, etc., first arose
in connection with Christianity.[30] Life was a good life; man was a
prosperous being. Hope for men was his natural air; despondency the
element of his own self-created folly. Neither could it be otherwise.
For, besides that, it would be too immeasurable a draught of woe to say
in one breath that this only was the crux or affirmation of man's fate,
and yet that this also was wretched _per se_; not accidentally made
wretched by imprudence, but essentially and irrevocably so by necessity
of its nature. Besides all this, which has a lurking dependency upon
man's calculations of what is safe, he sees that this mode of thinking
would leave him nothing; yet even that extreme consequence would not
check some honest or sincere or desperate minds from uttering their
convictions that life really _was_ this desperate game--much to lose
and nothing in the best case to win. So far there would have been a
dangerous gravitation at all times to the sad conclusion of Paganism.
But, meanwhile, this dangerous gravitation was too dangerous, and
Providence has deeply counteracted it by principles laid down in human
nature. I affirm that where the ideas of man, where the possible
infinities are not developed, then also the exorbitant on the other
field is strongly pulled up. No ideals of evil can take place except
under ideals of happiness that passeth all understanding. No synthesis
can ever be executed, that is, no annumeration of A, B, C into a common
total, viewed as elements tending to a common unity, unless previously
this unity has been preconceived, because the elements are not elements,
viz., original constituents of a representative whole (a series tending
to a summation), unless that which is constituted--that whole--is
previously given in idea. Since A and B and C could not be viewed as
tending to a unity, having no existence except through them, unless
previously that unity had existed for the regulation and eduction of its
component elements. And this unity in the case of misery never could
have been given unless far higher functions than any which could endure
Paganism, or which Paganism could endure. Until the sad element of a
diseased will is introduced, until the affecting notion is developed of
a fountain in man himself welling up the misery for ever, no idea of
misery could arise. Suffering is limited and transitory. What pain is
permanent in man? Even the deepest laceration of the human heart, that
which is inflicted by the loss of those who were the pulses of our
hearts, is soothed (if never wholly healed) by time. One agency of time
would avail for this effect were there no other. The features of the
individual whom we mourn grow dimmer and dimmer as time advances; and,
_pari passu_, the features of places and collateral objects and
associated persons from whom reverberated these afflicting reminiscences
of the lost object.

I return: Deliverer from what? From suffering or misery. But that was
not acknowledged, nor could have been, we could see no misery as a
hypothesis except in these two modes: First, as a radication in man by
means of something else, some third thing. Secondly, as a synthesis--as
a gathering under a principle which must act prior to the gathering in
order to provoke it. (The synthesis must be rendered possible and
challenged by the _à priori_ unity which otherwise constitutes that
unity.) As a metaphysical possibility evil was recognised through its
unfathomable nature. But this was because such a nature already
presupposed a God's nature, realizing his own ends, stepped in with
effect. For the highest form--the normal or transcendent form--of virtue
to a Pagan, was in the character of citizen. Indeed, the one sole or
affirmative form of virtue lay in this sole function, viz., of public,
of patriotic virtue. Since here only it was possible to introduce an
_additional_ good to the world. All other virtue, as of justice between
individual and individual, did but redress a previous error, sometimes
of the man himself, sometimes of social arrangement, sometimes of
accident. It was a _plus_ which balanced and compensated a pre-existing
_minus_--an action _in regressu_, which came back with prevailing power
upon an action _in progressu_. But to be a patriot was to fulfil a call
of the supererogatory heart--a great nisus of sympathy with the one sole
infinite, the sole practical infinite that man pre-Christian ever could
generate for his contemplation. Now, therefore, it followed that the
idea of virtue here only found its realization. Virtue, in fact, was not
derivatively or consequentially connected with patriotism, it was
_immanent_; not transitively associated by any links whatever, but
immanently intertwisted, indwelling in the idea. Therefore it happened
that a man, however heartsick of this tumid, bladdery delusion, although
to him it was a balloon, by science punctured, lacerated, collapsing,
trailed through ditch and mud under the rough handling and the fearful
realities of life, yet he durst not avow his private feelings. That
would have been even worse than with us: it would have been to proclaim
virtue and vice mere bubbles and chimeras. He who really thinks so even
we reasonably suspect of _practical_ indifference unless when we believe
him to speak as a misanthrope.

The question suppose to commence as to the divine mission of Christ. And
the feeble understanding is sure to think this will be proved best by
proving the subject of this doubt to have been a miracle-working power.
And of all miracles, to have mastered (not merely escaped or evaded)
death will be in his opinion the greatest. So that if Christ could be
proved to have absolutely conquered death, _i.e._, to have submitted to
death, but only to recoil from his power and overthrow it, to have died
and subsequently to have risen again, will, _à fortiori_, prove Him to
have been sent of God.

Not so. All and every basis of credibility must be laid in the _moral_
nature, where the thing to be believed is important, _i.e._, moral. And
I therefore open with this remark absolutely _zermalmende_ to the common
intellect: That from a holy faith you may infer a power of resurrection,
but not from a power of resurrection fifty times repeated can we infer a
holy faith. What in the last result is the thing to be proved? Why, a
holy revelation, not of knowledge, but of things practical; of agenda,
not scienda. It is essential that this holy should also be _new_,
_original_, _revelatum_. Because, else, the divinest things which are
_connata_ and have been common to all men, point to no certain author.
They belong to the dark foundations of our being, and cannot challenge a
trust, faith, or expectation as suspended upon any particular individual
man whatever.

Here, then, arises the [Greek: prôtontokinon]. Thick darkness sits on
every man's mind as to Christ's revelation. He fancies that it amounts
to this: 'Do what is good. Do your duty. Be good.' And with this vague
notion of the doctrine, natural is it that he should think it as old as
the hills. The first step to a saner view is, to understand--if a man
has sense enough to reach so high--that the subtlest discoveries ever
made by man, all put together, do not make one wave of that Atlantic as
to novelty and originality which lies in the moral scheme of
Christianity. I do not mean in the total scheme of Christianity,
redemption, etc. No, but in the ethics.

All ethics that ever Greece refined or Rome illustrated, was, and could
be, only the same universal system of social ethics--ethics proper and
exclusive to man and man _inter se_, with no glimpse of any upward

Now Christianity looks upward for the first time. This in the first
place. Secondly, out of that upward look Christianity looks secondarily
down again, and reacts even upon the social ethics in the most
tremendous way.

_For my Book on the Relations of Christianity to Man._--S. T. C. cites
Jeremy Taylor, etc., for horrible passages on the gloomy state of the
chances for virtuous Pagans. S. T. C. in a more liberal generation is
shocked; and of course in his readers as in himself secretly, he
professes more liberal ideas. Aye, but how is he entitled to these
ideas? For, on further consideration, it is not Cicero only, or
Epictetus only, that would suffer under this law of Christianity viewed
in its reagency, but also Abraham, David, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Hezekiah.
Because, how could they benefit by a Redeemer not yet revealed--nay, by
a Redeemer not even existing? For it is not the second person in the
Trinity--not He separately and abstractedly--that is the Redeemer, but
that second person incarnated. St. Paul apparently wished to smuggle
this tremendous question into a fraudulent solution, by mixing up
Abraham (with others pre-Christian and Christian) into the long array of
those whose _Faith_ had saved them. But faith in whom? General faith in
God is not the thing, it is faith in Jesus Christ; and we are solemnly
told in many shapes that no other name was given on earth through which
men could be delivered. Indeed, if not, how is the Messiah of such
exclusive and paramount importance to man? The Messiah was as yet (viz.,
in Abraham's time) a prophecy--a dim, prophetic outline of one who
_should_ be revealed. But if Abraham and many others could do without
Him, if this was a dispensable idea, how was it in any case, first or
last, indispensable? Besides, recur to the theory of Christianity. Most
undeniably it was this, that neither of the two elements interested in
man could save him; not God; He might have power, but His purity
revolted. Power (or doubtfully so), but no will. Not man--for he, having
the will, had no power. God was too holy; manhood too _un_holy. Man's
gifts, applicable, but insufficient. God's sufficient, but
inapplicable. Then came the compromise. How if man could be engrafted
upon God? Thus only, and by such a synthesis, could the ineffable
qualities of God be so co-ordinated with those of man.

Suppose even that a verbal inspiration could have been secured--secured,
observe, against _gradual_ changes in language and against the
reactionary corruption of concurrent versions, which it would be
impossible to guarantee as also enjoying such an inspiration (since, in
that case, _what_ barrier would divide mine or anybody's wilfully false
translations from that pretending to authority? I repeat _what_? None is
conceivable, since what could you have beyond the assurance of the
translator, even which could only guarantee his intentions)--here is a
cause of misinterpretation amounting to ruin, viz., after being read for
centuries as if practically meant for our guidance, such and such a
chapter (_e.g._, Jael and Sisera), long proscribed by the noble as a
record of abominable perfidy, has at length been justified on the ground
that it was never meant for anything else. Thus we might get rid of
David, etc., were it not that for his flexible obedience to the _clerus_
he has been pronounced the man after God's own heart.

Is it not dreadful that at the very vestibule of any attempt to execute
the pretended law of God and its sentences to hell we are interrupted by
one case in every three as exceptional? Of the deaths, one in three are
of children under five. Add to these surely _very_ many up to twelve or
thirteen, and _many_ up to eighteen or twenty, then you have a law which
suspends itself for one case in every two.

_Note in the argument drawn from perishableness of language._ Not only
(which I have noted) is any language, _ergo_ the original, Chaldæan,
Greek, etc., perishable even for those who use it, but also the vast
openings to error which all languages open to translators form a separate
source of error in translators, viz.:

1. The old one on my list that for them the guidance of inspiration has
ceased, else, if not, you must set up an inspiration separately to
translators, since, if you say--No, not at all, why, which then?

2. The uncertainty of a foreign language even in a day contemporary with
the original writer, and therefore over and above what arises from lapse
of time and gradual alterations.

_On Human Progress._--Oftentimes it strikes us all that this is so
insensible as to elude observation the very nicest. Five years add
nothing, we fancy. Now invert your glass. In 1642 Englishmen are
fighting for great abstract principles. In 1460-83 (_i.e._, 100 + 17 +
42 years before, or 159 years) they are fighting for persons, for rival
candidates. In 1460 they could not have conceived more than an Esquimaux
can entertain a question about the constitution of lyric poetry, or the
differential principles of English and Greek tragedy, the barest
approximation to questions that in 1642 are grounds of furious quarrel,
of bloody quarrel, of extermination. Now then, looking forward, you
would see from year to year little if any growth; but inverting your
glass, looking back from the station of 1642 to 1460, you see a progress
that if subdivided amongst all the 159 years would give to each _x_/0 as
its quota, _i.e._ infinity. In fact, it is like the progression from
nothing to something. It is--creation.

All the body of the Christian world would fly out in a rage if you
should say that Christianity required of you many things that were easy,
but one thing that was _not_. Yet this is undoubtedly true; it requires
you to _believe_, and even in the case where you know what it is to
believe, and so far are free from perplexity, you have it not in your
own power to ensure (though you can influence greatly) your own power to
believe. But also great doubt for many (and for all that are not
somewhat metaphysical) attends the knowledge of what is believing.

As to my mother's fancy that Sir W. Jones had found in the East proofs
of Christianity, having gone out an infidel.

To do her justice, never once after she had adopted a theory of
Christianity did she inquire or feel anxious about its proof. But to
review the folly of this idea.

1. That Christianity there where it reigned and was meant to reign
should be insufficient in its proofs; but that in a far distant land,
lurking in some hole or corner, there should be proofs of its truth,
just precisely where these proofs were not wanted. And again, that these
should be reserved for one scholar rambling into a solitary path, where
in a moral sense _nobody_ could follow him (for it _is_ nobody--this or
that oriental scholar). And we are sure that his proof was not of that
order to shine by its own light, else it would have resounded through

2. That for many hundreds of years Christianity should have been
received, generation after generation should have lived under its vital
action, upon no sufficient argument, and suddenly such an argument
should turn up as a reward to a man in a country not Christian for being
more incredulous than his neighbours; how impossible!

That fraudulent argument which affects to view the hardships of an
adventurous life and its perils as capable of one sole impression--that
of repulsion--and secondly as the sole circumstances about such
adventures, injures from the moment when it is perceived: not

1. The writer only; no matter for him, worthless liar, how much he sinks
in the opinion of his readers: but

2. The Apostles. Now see the injury of falsehood. Suddenly it snaps, and
with a great reaction causes a jar to the whole system, which in
ordinary minds it is never likely to recover. The reason it is not
oftener perceived is that people read such books in a somnolent,
inactive state of mind, one-tenth coming to a subject on which they have
already made up their minds, and open to no fresh impressions, the other
nine-tenths caring not one straw about the matter, as reading it in an
age of irreflectiveness and purely through an act of obedience to their
superiors, else not only does this hypocritical attempt to varnish give
way all at once, and suddenly (with an occasion ever after of doubt, and
causing a reflection to any self-sufficient man, suddenly coming to
perceive that he has been cheated, and with some justification for
jealousy thenceforwards to the maker up of a case), but also it robs the
Apostles of the human grace they really possessed. For if we suppose
them armed against all temptations, snares, seductions, by a
supernatural system of endowments, this is but the case of an
angel--nay, not of an angel, for it is probable that when an angel
incarnated himself, or one of the Pagan deities, who was obliged first
to incarnate himself before he could act amongst men, or so much as be
seen by men, he was bound by all the defects of man, _i.e._, he could
choose only an ideal, so far ideal as to elude the worst effects from
vice, intemperance, etc. The angel who wrestled with Jacob probably did
his best; he was a stout fellow, but so was the patriarch. The very
condition of incarnation, and this because the mere external form
already includes limitations (as of a fish, not to fly; of a man, not to
fly, etc.) probably includes as a _necessity_, not as a choice, the
adoption of all evils connected with the nature assumed. Even the Son of
God, once incarnated, was not exempted from any evil of flesh; He grew,
passed through the peculiar infirmities of every stage up to mature
life; would have grown old, infirm, weak, had He lived longer; was
liable to death, the worst of all human evils, and was not, we may be
sure, exempted from any one fleshly desire with regard to sex, or
enemies, or companions, but because that divine principle, which also
_is in man_, yes, in every man the foulest and basest--this light which
the darkness comprehended not, and which in some is early extinguished,
but in _all_ fights fitfully with the winds and storms of this human
atmosphere, in Him was raised to a lustre unspeakable by His pure and
holy will.

If the Apostles were more celestially armed in any other sense than as
we are all armed from above by calling forth our better natures, if in
any other sense than as sorrow arms us by purifying our natures, as
sorrowful reflection, as meditation and earnest endeavours to resist our
angry instincts (which, on the contrary, how often do men _obey_ under
the vile pretence of being put by conscience on a painful duty), then, I
say, what were the Apostles to us? Why should we admire them? How can we
make them models of imitation? It is like that case of Anarcharsis the

It does certainly incense a Christian to think that stupid Mahommedans
should impute to us such _childish_ idolatries as that of God having a
son and heir--just as though we were barbarous enough to believe that
God was liable to old age--that the time was coming, however distant,
when somebody would say to him, 'Come, Sir,' or 'Come, my Lord, really
you are not what you were. It's time you gave yourself some ease
([Greek: euphêmi], time, indeed, that you resigned the powers to which
you are unequal), and let a younger man take the reins.' None but a
filthy barbarian could carry forward his thoughts so little as not to
see that this son in due time would find himself in the same

Now mark how Christian lands would enforce this doctrine of unity by
horrid coercions. They hang, drown, burn, crucify those who deny it. So
that, be assured you are planting your corner-stone on the most windy of
delusions. You yourselves do not ascribe any merit to Mahommed separate
from that of revealing the unity of God. Consequently, if that is a
shaken craze arising from mere inability on his part, a little, a very
little information would have cut up by the very roots the whole
peculiarity of Islam. For if a wise man could have assembled these
conceited Arabians and told them: Great thieves, you fancy yourselves to
have shot far ahead of the Christians as to the point of unity, and if
you had I would grant that you had made a prodigious advance. But you
are deceiving quarrellers. It is all a word--mere smoke, that blinds
you. The Christian seems to affirm three Gods, and even to aggravate
this wickedness by calling one of them 'a Son,' thus seeming to accept
that monstrous notion that God is liable to old age and decrepitude, so
as to provide wisely against His own dotage. But all this is an error:
these three apparent Gods are but one, and in the most absolute sense

The most shockingly searching, influential, and permanent blunder that
ever has affected the mind of man has been the fancy that a religion
includes a creed as to its [Greek: aporrhêta], and a morality; in short,
that it was doctrinal by necessity, enactory, and (which has been the
practical part of the blunder) therefore exclusive, because:

1. With our notion of a religion as essentially doctrinal, the very
first axiom about it is, that being true itself it makes all others
false. Whereas, the capital distinction of the Pagan was--that given,
supposing to be assumed, 10,000 religions--all must be true
simultaneously, all equally. When a religion includes any distinct
propositions offered to the understanding (that is, I think, resting
upon a principle or tendency to a consequence by way of differencing
from facts which also are for the understanding, but then barely to
contemplate not with a power of reacting on the understanding, for every
principle introduces into the mind that which may become a modification,
a restraint; whereas, a fact restrains nothing in the way of thought
unless it includes a principle), it would rise continually in its
exclusive power according to the number of those propositions. At first
it might exclude all but ten, eight, seven, and so on; finally, as
integrated it would exclude all.

2. If you ask on what principle a Pagan believed his religion, the
question to him was almost amusing and laughable. I will illustrate the
case. A man meets you who inquires in a hurried, suppose even in an
agitated way, whether you met a tall man, blind of one eye, dressed in
such a coloured dress, etc. Now, does it ever occur to you that the
inquirer is lying? Lying! Wherefore should he lie? Or again, if you say
that your house stands under a hill, that three out of four chimneys
smoke, and that you must indeed try some of the inventions for remedying
this annoyance, would any man in his senses think of speculating on the
possibility that all this should be a romance? Or, to come nearer in the
kind of fact, if a man represented his family fortune as having been
bequeathed by a maiden aunt in the last generation, would any man say
otherwise than that doubtless the man knew his own benefactors and
relatives best? On this same principle, when Christ was mentioned as the
divinity adored by a certain part of the Jews who were by way of
distinction called Christians, why should a Roman object? What motive
could he have for denying the existence or the divine existence of
Christ? Even the idea of dissent or schism, some Jews worshipping, some
protesting, would not much puzzle him. Something like it had occurred in
Pagan lands. Neptune and Athene had contended for Attica. And under the
slight inquiry which he would ever make, or listen to when made by
others, he might wonder at the rancour displayed by the protesting
party, but he would take it for granted that a divinity of some local
section had been unduly pushed into pre-eminence over a more strictly
epichorial divinity. He would go off with this notion, that whereas, the
elder Jews insisted on paying vows, etc., to a God called Jehovah, a
section sought to transfer that allegiance to a divinity called Christ.
If he were further pressed on the subject, he would fancy that very
possibly, as had been thought, found or imagined in the case of Syrian
deities or Egyptian, etc., that perhaps Christ might correspond to
Apollo, as Astarte to Diana, Neptune of Latium to the Poseidôn of
Greece. But if not, that would cause no scruple at all. Thus far it was
by possibility a mere affair of verbal difference. But suppose it
ascertained that in no point of the symbols surrounding the worship of
Christ, or the conception of His person, He could be identified with any
previously-known Pagan God--that would only introduce Him into the
matricula of Gods as a positive novelty. Nor would it have startled a
Roman to hear that in India or any country large enough there should be
a separate Pantheon of many thousand deities, _plus_ some other Pantheon
of divinities corresponding to their own. For Syria--but still more in
one section of Syrian Palestine--this would surprise him _quoad_ the
degree, not _quoad_ the principle. The Jew had a separate or peculiar
God, why not? No nation could exist without Gods: the very separate
existence of a people, trivial as it might be in power and wealth,
argued a tutelary God, but, of course, proportioned to the destinies at
least (and in part to the present size) of the country. Thus far no
difficulties at all. But the morality! Aye, but that would never be
accounted a part of religion. As well confound a science with religion.
Aye, but the [Greek: aporrhêta]. These would be viewed as the rites of
Adonis, or of Ceres; you could not warn him from his preconception that
these concerned only Jews. Where, therefore, lodged the offence? Why
here, as personalities--for such merely were all religions--the God must
be measured by his nation. So some Romans proposed to introduce Christ
into the Roman Pantheon. But what first exploded as a civil offence was
the demand of supremacy and the inconceivable principle set up of
incompatibility. This was mere folly.

A much more solemn, significant and prophetic meaning than the common
one may be secured to the famous passage in St. Matthew--'And thou shalt
call His name _Jesus_.' This injunction wears the most impressive
character belonging to heavenly adjuration, when it is thus confided to
the care and custody of a special angel, and in the very hour of
inauguration, and amongst the very birth-throes of Christianity. For in
two separate modes the attention is secretly pointed and solicited to
the grand serpentine artifice, which met and confronted the almost
insurmountable difficulty besetting Christianity on its very threshold:
First, by the record of the early _therapeutic_ miracles, since in that
way only, viz., by a science of healing, which the philosopher equally
with the populace recognised as resting upon inspiration from God, could
the magistrate and civil authority have been steadily propitiated;
secondly, by the very verbal suggestion couched in the name _Jesus_, or
_Healer_. At the most critical of moments an angel reveals himself, for
the purpose of saying '_Thou shalt call His name Jesus_'--and why Jesus?
Because, says the angel, 'He shall heal or cleanse His people from sin
as from a bodily disease.' Thus, in one and the same moment is suggested
prospectively to the early Christian, who is looking forward in search
of some adequate protection against the civil magistrate, and
theoretically and retrospectively is suggested to the Christian of our
own philosophizing days, that admirable resource of what by a shorthand
expression I will call _Hakimism_. The _Hakim_, the _Jesus_, the
_Healer_, comes from God. Mobs must not be tolerated. But neither must
the deep therapeutic inspirations of God be made of none effect, or
narrowed in their applications. And thus in one moment was the panic
from disease armed against the panic from insurgent mobs; the privileged
Hakim was marshalled against the privileged magistrate; and the deep
superstition, which saw, and not unreasonably, a demon raging in a
lawless mob, saw also a demon not less blind or cruel in the pestilence
that walked in darkness. And, as one magnet creates other magnets, so
also the Hakim, once privileged, could secretly privilege others. And
the physical Hakim could by no test or shibboleth be prevented from
silently introducing the spiritual Hakim. And thus, whilst thrones and
councils were tumultuating in panic, behold! suddenly the Christian
soldier was revealed amongst them as an armed man.

'_Écrasez l'infâme_,' I also say: and who is he? It would be mere
insanity to suppose that it could be _any_ teacher of moral truths. Even
I, who so much despise Socrates, could not reasonably call him

But who, then, is _l'infâme_? It is he who, finding in those great ideas
which I have noticed as revelations from God, and which throw open to
the startled heart the heaven of heavens, in the purity, the holiness,
the peace which passeth all understanding, finding no argument of
divinity, then afterwards _does_ find it in the little tricks of
legerdemain, in conjuring, in præstigia. But here, though perhaps roused
a little to see the baseness of relying on these miracles, and also in
the rear a far worse argument against them, he still feels uncomfortable
at such words applied to things which Christ did. Christ could not
make, nor wished to make, that great which was inherently mean; that
relevant, which was originally irrelevant. If He did things in
themselves mean, it was because He suited Himself to mean minds,
incapable of higher views; wretches such as exist amongst us of modern
days by millions, on whom all His Divine words were thrown away,
wretches deaf and blind and besotted, to whom it was said in vain: 'He
that looketh upon a woman,' and what follows, creating by a rod of
divinity in man's heart a far superior ideal of the moral; who heard
with indifference His 'Bless those who persecute you;' yes, listened
unmoved to His 'Suffer little children to come unto Me;' who heard with
anger His 'In heaven there is neither marrying nor giving in marriage;'
who abhorred His great doctrine that the counsels of God were not read
in the events of things[31]; who slighted as trivial that prayer which a
wise man might study with profit for a thousand years; beasts, wretches,
that turned away deaf and blind, even as their sons turn away, from
these arguments of a truth far transcending all that yet had come
amongst men; but whilst trampling with their brutal hoofs upon such
flowers of Paradise, turned in stupid wonderment to some mere
legerdemain or jugglery.

_The Truth._--But what tongue can express, what scale can measure, the
awful change in man's relations to the unseen world? Where there had
been a blank not filled by anything, not by any smoke or dusky tarnish
of suspicion, not filled by so much as any shadowy outline or vague
phantom of possibility, _there_ was now seen rising, 'like Teneriffe or
Atlas'--say rather, by symbolizing the greatest of human interests by
the greatest of human visual objects, like the snowy peaks of the
Himalaya, peaks that by men's feelings are referred to the heavens
rather than to the earth; to the beings 'whose dwelling is no thick
flesh,' rather than to men who have in no age succeeded in scaling them;
and who in their steps to those mighty thrones have heard nothing but
dread crashes of sound--again to fade or vanish, the colossal form,
never the mighty idea of 'The Truth.'[32] Where there had been nothing,
a blank, a chasm, there stood in solemn proportions a new object for
man, called The Truth. Why was it called _The_ Truth? How could such an
idea arise? Many persons will be weak enough to fancy that, as [Greek:
hopoêtês] was sometimes an artifice of rhetoric for expressing the
exclusive supremacy of Homer, and as by a pure affectation and movement
of dissimulation a man was called by the title of _The Orator_, his own
favourite Greek or Roman thus affecting for the moment to know of no
other (for all such emphatic and exclusive uses of _the_ imply a
momentary annihilation of the competitors, as though in comparison of
the ideal exemplification these minor and approximating forms had no
existence--or at least, not _quoad hunc locum_--as 'the mountain in
Sicily' would rightly indicate Etna), on the same artificial principle
they may imagine rhetoricians to have denominated (or if not, to have
had it in their power to denominate) some one department of truth which
they wished to favour as _the_ truth. But this conventional denomination
would not avail, and for two reasons: First, that rival modes of truth
(physics against mathematics, rhetoric against music) would contest the
title, and no such denomination would have a basis of any but a sort of
courtesy or vicarious harmonious reality from the very first. Secondly,
that, standing in no relation whatever to God, every mode, form,
division or subdivision of truth merely intellectual would gain nothing
at all by such ostentatious arts. Algebra has been distinguished by
glorious names; so has the fancied knowledge of transmutation applied to
the metals; so, doubtless, has many a visionary speculation of magic;
so, again, has the ridiculous schwermerey of the Rabbis in particular
ages. But those are as transient and even for the moment as partial
titles as the titles of Invincible or Seraphic applied to scholastic
divines. Out of this idea the truth grew, next (suppose _x_) another

The difference between all human doctrines and this is as between a
marble statue and a quick thing. The statue may be better, and it may be
of better material; it may be of ivory, of marble, and amongst marbles
known to the ancient sculptors of several different kinds the most
prized; of silver gilt, of hollow gold, of massy gold, and in all
degrees of skill; but still one condition applies to all--whatever the
material, whoever the artist, the statue is inanimate, the breath of
life is not within its nostrils. Motion, spontaneity, action and
antagonist action, the subtle watch-work of the brain, the mighty
laboratory of the heart, vision, sensibility, self-propagated warmth,
pleasure, hope, memory, thought, liberty--not one of these divine gifts
does it possess. It is cold, icy, senseless, dull, inert matter. Let
Phidias have formed the statue, it is no better. Let the purest gold be
its material, it is no worthier than the meanest model in clay to the
valuation of the philosopher. And here, as in so many cases, the great
philosopher meets with the labouring man; both meet with the little
innocent child. All have the same undervaluation of the statue. And if
any man values it preposterously, it will be neither a great
philosopher, nor a labouring man with horny fists, nor a little innocent
and natural child. It will be some crazy simpleton, who dignifies
himself as a man of taste, as _elegans formarum spectator_, as one
having a judicious eye for the distinctions of form. But now, suddenly,
let one of the meanest of these statues begin to stir and shiver with
the mystery of life, let it be announced that something 'quick' is in
the form, let the creeping of life, the suffusion of sensibility, the
awful sense of responsibility and accountability ripen themselves, what
a shock--what a panic! What an interest--how profound--would diffuse
itself in every channel. Such is the ethics of God as contrasted with
the ethics of Greek philosophers. The only great thing ever done by
Greece or by Greek philosophers was the ethics. Yet, after all, these
were but integrations of the natural ethics implanted in each man's
heart. Integrations they were, but rearrangements--redevelopments from
some common source.

It is remarkable that the Scriptures, valuing clearness and fencing
against misunderstandings above all things, never suspend--there is no
[Greek: epochê] in the scriptural style of the early books. And,
therefore, when I first came to a text, 'If when,' I was thunderstruck,
and I found that this belongs to the more cultivated age of Hebrew

'_And the swine because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud,
it is unclean unto you_' (Deut. xiv. 8). Now the obvious meaning is,
_primâ facie_, that the ground of its uncleanness was its dividing the
hoof. Whereas, so far from this, to divide the hoof is a ground of
cleanness. It is a fact, a _sine quâ non_--that is, a negative condition
of cleanness; but not, therefore, taken singly the affirmative or
efficient cause of cleanness. It must in addition to this chew the
cud--it must ruminate. Which, again, was but a _sine quâ non_--that is,
a negative condition, indispensable, indeed; whose absence could not be
tolerated in any case, but whose presence did not therefore, and as a
matter of course, avail anything. For the reverse case occurred in the
camel, hare, and rabbit. They _do_ chew the cud, the absence of which
habit caused the swine to be rejected, but then they 'divide not the
hoof.' Accordingly they were equally rejected as food with the swine.

We see the great Jewish lawgiver looking forward to cases which actually
occurred nearly five hundred years after, as demanding a king, and again
looking still farther to cases eight hundred and a thousand years
after--their disobedience and rebellion to God. Now, many will think
that it must have been an easy thing for any people, when swerving from
their law, and especially in that one great fundamental article of
idolatry as the Jews so continually did, and so naturally when the case
is examined, to always have an easy retreat: the plagues and curses
denounced would begin to unfold themselves, and then what more easy than
to relinquish the idolatrous rites or customs, resuming with their old
rituals to God their old privileges? But this was doubly impossible.
First, because men utterly misconceive the matter when they suppose that
with direct consecutive succession the judgment would succeed the
trespass. Large tracts of time would intervene. Else such direct
clockwork as sin and punishment, repentance and relief, would dishonour
God not less than they would trivialize the people. God they would
offend by defeating all His purposes; the people they would render vile
by ripening into mechanic dissimulation. The wrath of God slept often
for a long season; He saw as one who saw not. And by the time that His
large councils had overtaken them, and His judgments were fast coming up
with the offenders, they had so hardened themselves in error that a
whole growth of false desires had sprung up, and of false beliefs, blind
maxims, bad habits, bad connections, and proverbs, which found out a
reconciliation of that irreconcilable truth with the foulest pollutions.
The victims of temptation had become slow even to suspect their own
condition. And, if some more enlightened did so, the road of existence
was no longer easy. Error had woven chains about them. They were
enmeshed. And it is but a faint emblem of their situation to say, that
as well may a man commence a habit of intoxication for the purpose of
having five years' pleasure, and then halting in his career, as the Jews
may contaminate themselves tentatively with idolatrous connections under
the delusion that it would always be time enough for untreading their
steps when these connections had begun to produce evil. For they could
not recover the station from which they swerved. They that had now
realized the _casus foederis_, the case in which they had covenanted
themselves to desist from idolatry, were no longer the men who had made
that covenant. They had changed profoundly and imperceptibly. So that
the very vision of truth was overcast with carnal doubts; the truth
itself had retired to a vast distance and shone but feebly for them, and
the very will was palsied in its motions of recovery.

In such a state, suppose it confirmed and now threatening towards a
total alienation from the truth once delivered, what could avail to save
them? Nothing but affliction in the heaviest form. Vain it was now to
hope for a cheaper restoration, since the very first lightening of their
judicial punishment would seem to them a reason for relapsing, by
seeming to argue that there had been two principles. It was but a false
alarm, they would say, after all. Affliction, therefore, was past all
substitution or remedy. Yet even this case, this prostration to the
ground, had been met for a thousand years by God's servants.

If I have shown that quickening spirit which, diffusing itself through
all thoughts, schemata, possible principles, motives of sensibility, and
forms of taste, has differenced the pre-Christian man from the
post-Christian; if I have detected that secret word which God subtly
introduced into this world, kept in a state of incubation for two
millennia, then with the flames and visible agency of a volcanic
explosion forced into infinite disruption, caused to kindle into a
general fire--that word by which sadness is spread over the face of
things, but also infinite grandeur--then may I rightly lay this as one
chapter of my Emendation of Human Knowledge.

The same thing precisely takes place in literature as in spiritual
things. When a man is entangled and suffocated in business, all relating
to that which shrinks up to a point--and observe, I do not mean that
being conceived as a tent above his head it contracts, but that, viewed
as a body at a distance, it shrinks up to a point, and really vanishes
as a real thing--when this happens, having no subjective existence at
all, but purely and intensely objective, he misconceives it just in the
same way as a poor ignorant man misconceives learning or knowledge;
fancying, _e.g._, like Heylius senior, that he ought to know the road
out of the wood in which they were then entangled.

It is probable that Adam meant only the unity of man as to his nature,
which also is meant by making all men of one blood. Similarly
Boeckh--[Greek: en genei]--which does not mean that Gods _and_ men are
the same, but that of each the separate race has unity in itself. So the
first man, Adam, will mean the earliest race of men, perhaps spread
through thousands of years.

It is a violent case of prejudice, this ordinary appeal of Bossuet,
'Qu'ont gagné les philosophes avec leurs discours pompeux?' (p. 290).
Now how _should_ that case have been tried thoroughly before the
printing of books? Yet it may be said the Gospel _was_ so tried. True,
but without having the power of fully gratifying itself through the
whole range of its capability. That was for a later time, hence a new
proof of its reality.

_An Analogy._--1. I have somewhere read that a wicked set of Jews,
probably, when rebuked for wickedness, replied, 'What! are we not the
peculiar people of God? Strange, then, if we may not have a privilege
more than others to do wrong!' The wretches fancied that to be the
people of God--the chosen people--implied a license to do wrong, and had
a man told them, No, it was just the other way; they were to be better
than others, absolutely, they would have trembled with wrath.

2. Precisely the same idea, I am sure, lurks in many minds as to
repentance. It is odious to think of, this making God the abettor and
encourager of evil; but I am sure it is so, viz., that, because God has
said He will have mercy on the penitent, they fancy that, as the chief
consequence from that doctrine, they may commit sins without anxiety;
though others, not under the Christian privilege, would be called to
account for the same sin, penitent or not penitent. But they--such is
their thought--are encouraged to sin by the assurance that repentance
will always be open to them, and this they may pursue at leisure.

Now, if a man should say: 'But, my friends, this means _real
penitence_;' they would reply, 'Oh, but we mean _real penitence_.'
'Well, if you do, you must know that that is not always possible.' 'Not
possible!' Then make them understand that; they will roar with wrath,
and protest against it as no privilege at all.

The literal interpretation of the Mosaic Cosmogony is the very
expression of a barbarian mind and people, relying so far on magic as to
make all natural process of generation or production impossible, relying
so far on natural processes as to make the fiat of supreme power
evidently inapplicable. It is exactly the Minerva of the Pagans draggled
in her skirts.

_Idolatry._--It is not only a mere blind crotchet of Isaiah's
(Jeremiah's?) to ridicule idols--utterly wide of any real imperfection,
but also it misses all that really might be bad. The true evil is not to
kindle the idea of Apollo by an image or likeness, but to worship
Apollo, _i.e._, a god to be in some sense false--belonging to a system
connected with evil. That may be bad; but there can be no separate evil
in reanimating the idea of this Apollo by a picture.

I have observed many times, but never could understand in any rational
sense, the habit of finding a confirmation of the Bible in mere
archæologic facts occasionally brought to light and tallying with the
Biblical records. As in the Pharaonic and Egyptian usages, and lately in
the case of Nimrod, a great collateral confirmation of Ezekiel has been
fancied. But how? Supposing Ezekiel to have recited accurately the
dimensions of Nineveh, how should _that_ make him a true prophet? Or
supposing him a false one, what motive should that furnish for
mismeasuring Nineveh? The Gospels appear to have been written long after
the events, and when controversies or variations had arisen about them,
they have apparently been modified and shaped to meet those disputes.

_The sun stands still._ I am persuaded that this means no such
incredible miracle as is ordinarily imagined. The interpretation arises
from misconceiving an Oriental expression, and a forcible as well as
natural one. Of all people the Jews could least mistake the nature of
the sun and moon, as though by possibility they could stand in a
relation to a particular valley: that the sun could have stood still in
Gibeon, and the moon in Ajalon. Since they viewed sun and moon as two
great lights, adequated and corresponding to day and night, that alone
shows that they did not mean any objective solstice of the hour, for
else why in Ajalon? Naturally it would be a phenomenon chiefly made
known to the central sanctity of that God whose miraculous interposition
had caused so unknown an arrest of ordinary nature; Jerusalem was not
then known, it was Jebus, a city of Jebusites; and the fact which
subsequently created its sanctity did not occur till more than four
centuries afterwards (viz., on the threshing-floor of Araunah). But
Shiloh existed, and Horeb, and Sinai, and the graves of the Patriarchs.
And all those places would have expounded the reference of the miracle,
would have traced it to the very source of its origin; so as to show not
then only, not to the contemporaries only, but (which would be much more
important) to after generations, who might suspect some mistake in their
ancestors as explaining their meaning, or in themselves as understanding
it. What it really means, I am persuaded, is merely to express that the
day was, of all historical days, the most important. What! do people
never reflect on the [Greek: to] positive of their reading? If they
_did_, they would remember that the very idea of a great cardinal event,
as of the foundation of the Olympiads, was as an arrest, a pausing, of
time; causing you to hang and linger on that time. And the grandeur of
this Jewish Waterloo in which God established possessions for His people
and executed an earthly day of judgment on the ancient polluters
(through perhaps a thousand years) of the sacred land (already sacred as
the abode and burying-place of His first servants under a covenant) was
expressed by saying that the day lingered, arrested itself by a burthen
of glorious revolution so mighty as this great day of overthrow. For
remember this: Would not God have changed Pharaoh's heart, so
intractable, by such a miracle, had it been at all open to His eternal
laws? Whereas, if you say, Aye, but on that account why grant even so
much distinction to the day as your ancestor does? answer, it was the
_final-cause_ day.

The English Church pretends to give away the Bible without note or
comment, or--which, in fact, is the meaning--any impulse or bias to the
reader's mind. The monstrous conceit of the Protestant Churches, viz.,
the right of private judgment (which is, in effect, like the right to
talk nonsense, or the right to criticise Sir John Herschel's books
without mathematics), is thus slavishly honoured. Yet all is deception.
Already in the translation at many hundred points she has laid a
restraining bias on the reader, already by the division of verses,
already by the running abstracts over the Prophets, she has done this.

Can the power adequated to a generation of minds, or to a succession of
many generations, find its comprehension in an individual? Can the might
which overflows the heaven of heavens be confined within a local
residence like that which twice reared itself by its foundations, and
three times by its battlements, above the threshing-floor of
Araunah?[33] Of that mystery, of that local circumscription--in what
sense it was effected, in what sense not effected, we know nothing. But
this by mere human meditation, this profound difficulty we may humanly
understand and measure, viz., the all but impossibility of reaching the
man who stands removed to an extent of fifteen centuries. But here comes
in the unspiritual mind which thinks only of facts--yet mark me so far,
Rome by an augury of wicked gods stretched to a period of 1,200 years.
Yet how open to doubt in one sense! Not, I am sure, in any sense
understood by man, but I doubt not in the ominous sense intended.
Changed in all things essential, she was yet a mighty sceptered potentate
for the world until her dependency on Attila's good-will and
forbearance. 444 after Christ added to 752 B. C. complete the period.
But period for what? For whom? For a great idea that could not be lost.
The conception could not perish if the execution perished. But, next
think of the temptation to _mythus_. And, finally, of God's plan
unrealized, His conceptions unanswered. We should remember that by the
confusion introduced into the economy of internal Divine operations
there is a twofold difficulty placed between the prayer and the
attainment of the prayer. 1st, the deflection, slight though it may seem
to the man, from the state of perfect simplicity and of natural desire;
2ndly, the deflection of the object desired from the parallelism with
the purposes _now_ became necessary to God in order to remedy
_abnormous_ shifting of the centre by man. And again, in the question of
the language of Scripture, I see the same illustration. Sir William
Jones, in a fit of luxurious pleasure-giving, like Gibbons' foolish
fit[34] as to the Archbishop of Carthagena, praises the language of
Scripture as unattainable. I say, No. This is hypocrisy. It is no
dishonour if we say of God that, in the sense meant by Sir William
Jones, it is not possible for Him to speak better than powerful writers
can speak. They have the same language as their instrument, and as
impossible would it be for Apollonius or Sir William Jones to perform a
simple process of addition better than an ordinary keeper of a shop. In
the schemata, because in the original ideas, God says indeed what man
cannot, for these are peculiar to God; but who before myself has shown
what they were? As to mere language, however, and its management, we
have the same identically. And when a language labours under an
infirmity, as all do, not God Himself could surmount it! He is
compromised, coerced, by the elements of language; but what of that? It
is an element of man's creating. And just as in descending on man by His
answers God is defeated or distorted many times by the foul atmosphere
in which man has thrown himself, so in descending upon the mind (unless
by dreams, or some language that he may have kept pure), God is thwarted
and controlled by the imperfections of human language. And, apart from
the ideas, I myself could imitate the Scriptural language--I know its
secret, its principle of movement which lies chiefly in high
abstractions--far better than is done in most parts of the Apocrypha.

The power lies in the spirit--the animating principle; and verily such a
power seems to exist. And the fact derived from the holiness, the
restraints even upon the Almighty's power through His own holiness,
goodness, and wisdom, are so vast that, instead of the unlimited power
which hypocritical glorifiers ascribe to Him by way of lip-honour, in
reaching man _ex-abundantibus_ in so transcendent a way that mere excess
of means would have perplexed a human choice, on the contrary, I am
persuaded that besides the gulf of 1,500 years so as to hold on, so as
to hold hard, and to effect the translation of His will unaltered,
uncorrupted, through the violent assaults of idolatries all round, and
the perverse, headstrong weakness of a naturally unbelieving people,[35]
down to the time of Christ from the time of Moses--there was the labour
hardly to be effected; and why? I have always been astonished at men
treating such a case as a simple _original_ problem as to God. But far
otherwise. It was a problem secondary to a change effected by man. His
rays, His sun, still descended as ever; but when they came near to the
foul atmosphere of man, no ray could pierce unstained, unrefracted, or
even untwisted. It was distorted so as to make it hardly within the
limits of human capacity (observe, the difficulty was in the human power
to receive, to sustain, to comprehend--not in the Divine power to
radiate, to receive what was directed to it). Often I have reflected on
the tremendous gulf of separation placed between man, by his own act,
and all the Divine blessings which could visit him. (This is illustrated
by prayer; for, while we think it odd that so many prayers of good men
for legitimate objects of prayer should seem to be unanswered, we
nevertheless act as to our prayers in a kind of unconscious hypocrisy,
as though to our sense they had been answered in some ineffable way, and
all the while our conduct, to speak strictly, lies outside all this, and
remains wholly uninfluenced by it).

These ideas of God have life only by their own inherent power: yet what
risk that Jews should lapse into supposing themselves separately a
favoured people? By this very error they committed the rebellion against
which they had been warned--in believing that they only were concerned
in receiving a supernatural aid of redemption: thus silently
substituting their own merits for the Divine purposes. All which did in
fact happen. But their errors were overruled, else how could the human
race be concerned in their offences, errors, or ministries? The Jews
forgot what we moderns forget, that they were no separate objects of
favour with God, but only a means of favour.

What occasion to 'argal-bargal' about why God did not sooner accomplish
the scheme of Christianity? For besides that, 1st, possibly the scheme
in its expansion upon earth required a corresponding expansion
elsewhere; 2ndly, it is evident even to our human sense that none but
the most childish eudamonist, whose notion of happiness is that of lazy
luxury, would think of cramming men, bidding them open their mouths, and
at once drugging them with a sensual opium (as all blessing must be
without previous and commensurate elevation to the level of that
blessing); 3rdly, the physical nature of the evil to be undone was such
as would not have _been_ (_objectively_ would not have been, but still
less could it _subjectively_ have been) for the conception of man that
dreadful mystery which it really is, had the awful introversion been
measured back by fewer steps; 4thly, and finally, it seems at first
sight shocking to say of God that He cannot do this and this, but it is
not so. Without adverting to the dark necessities that compass our
chaotic sense when we ascend by continual abstraction to the _absolute_,
without entangling ourselves vainly in those wildernesses that no
created intellect can range or measure--even one sole attribute of God,
His holiness, makes it as impossible for Him to proceed except by
certain steps as it would be impossible for a man, though a free agent,
and apparently master, as he feels and thinks, of his own life, to cut
his throat while in a state of pleasurable health both of mind and

5.--Political, etc.

Sir Robert Walpole, as to patriots, was like a man who has originally,
from his nursery up, been thoroughly imbued with the terror of ghosts,
which by education and example afterwards he has been encouraged to
deny. Half he does disbelieve, and, under encouraging circumstances, he
does disbelieve it stoutly. But at every fresh plausible alarm his early
faith intrudes with bitter hatred against a class of appearances that,
after all, he is upon system pledged to hold false. Nothing can be more
ludicrous than his outcry, and his lashing of his own tail to excite his
courage and his wrath and his denial--than his challenge of the lurking
patriots in what he conceives the matter of frauds on the revenue. He
assaults them as if he saw them standing in a row behind the door, and
yet he pummels them for being mere men of the shades--horrible
mockeries. Had there been any truth in their existence, surely, so
strongly as they muster by their own report, some one or other of this
fact should have given me warning--should have exposed the frauds. But
no, all are silent as the grave. But here Sir Robert Walpole is as much
wrong as if, doubting the value or power of Methodist preachers, he
should make it the test of their useful existence that, as often as a
highwayman, a footpad, started out of the wayside, from the other side
should start a Methodist preacher to reason with him and to convert

Are the Whigs less aristocratic than the Tories? Not at all. In tendency
by principle they are the same. The real difference is not in the creed,
in the groundwork, but in certain points of practice and method.

'He took his stand upon the truth'--said by me of Sir Robert Peel--might
seem to argue a lower use of '_the_ truth,' but in fact it is as happens
to the article _the_ itself: you say _the_ guard, speaking of a coach;
_the_ key, speaking of a trunk or watch, _i.e._, _the_ as by usage
appropriated to every coach, watch, trunk. So here the truth, namely, of
the particular perplexity.

The Sepoy mutiny will be best understood if you suppose the Roman
emperors, from Romulus to Augustus, from the Alban Fathers down to the
Ostrogoths--the whole line of a thousand years crowded into two.

Trunkmakers may be great men: they clearly have the upper hand of
authors whom all the world admits to be great men. For the trunkmaker is
the _principal_ in the concern--he makes the trunk, whereas the author,
quite a secondary artist, furnishes only the linings.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Case of Casuistry._--Wraxall justly notices that errors like Prince
Rupert's from excess of courage, however ruinous, are never resented by
a country. _Ergo_ the inference that prudence would be, always if in
Byng's or Lord St. German's cases, in a matter of doubt held to be bold
fighting; and yet in morals is that an allowable position?

6.--Personal Confessions, etc.

Avaunt, ye hypocrites! who make a whining pretence, according to a fixed
rule, of verbally uttering thanks to God for every chastisement, and who
say this is good for you. So do not I, being upright, and God seeing my
heart, who also sees that I murmur not; but if it were not good in the
end, yet I submit. He is not offended that with upright sincerity I give
no thanks for it. And I say that, unless a man perceives the particular
way in which it has been good for him, he cannot sincerely, truly, or so
as not to mock God with his lips, give thanks simply on an _à priori_
principle, though, of course, he may submit in humbleness.

I do not believe that the faith of any man in the apparent fact that he
will never again see such a person (_i.e._, by being removed by death)
is real. I believe that the degree of faith in this respect is regulated
by an original setting or fixing of our nature quite unconscious to
ourselves. So, again, I believe that hope is never utterly withdrawn,
despair is never absolute. And again, I believe that, at the lowest
nadir, the resource of dying as a means of escape and translation to new
chances and openings is lodged in every man far down below the
sunlights of consciousness. He feels that his death is not final; were
it otherwise he could not rush at the escape so lightly. Indeed, were
his fate fixed immutably, I feel that it would not have been left
possible for him to commit suicide.

_Justice._--You say in the usual spirit of vanity, Y or X has the same
degree of the spirit of justice as V. This is easily said, but the test
is, what will he _do_ for it? Suppose a man to propose rewards
exclusively to those who assisted at a fire, then X and Y, suppose, have
equally seen that many did _not_ assist, even refused to do so. But X
perhaps will shrink from exposing them; V will encounter any hatred for
truth and justice by exposing the undeserving.

It is a foolish thing to say 'Hard words break no bones.' How impossible
to call up from the depths of forgotten times all the unjust or shocking
insinuations, all the scornful refusals to understand one aright, etc.
But surely an injury is nothing to them; for that may be measured, made
sensible, and cannot be forgotten, whereas the other case is like the
dispute, 'Is he wrong as a _poet_?' compared with this, 'Is he wrong as
a _geometrician_?' There need be no anger with the latter dispute; it is
capable of decision.

Then, again, a heart so lacerated is required by Christianity to forgive
the lacerator. Hard it is to do, and imperfectly it is ever done, except
through the unbuckling of human nature under higher inspirations
_working together with time_.

Instead of being any compliment it is the most profound insult, the
idea one can write something rapidly. It is no homage to the writer; it
is villainous insensibility to the written.

Two subjects of stories occur to me. 1. For my Arabian tales, founded on
the story of the Minyas Treasure-House at Orchomenus. 2. Another of an
abbess, who was such by dispensation, but had been married; her
accomplished son succeeds in carrying off a nun. She labours for the
discovery and punishment of the unknown criminal, till she learns who he
is; then parting from him for ever in the early dawn, she, sacrificing
to a love that for her was to produce only hatred and the total
destruction of the total hopes of her ageing life. Splendide Mendax! and
the more angel she.

I find the double effect as the reason of my now reading again with
profit every book, however often read in earlier times, that by and
through my greater knowledge and the more numerous questions growing out
of that knowledge, I have deeper interest, and by and through this
deeper interest I have a value put upon those questions, and I have
other questions supervening through the interest alone. The interest is
incarnated in the wider knowledge; the knowledge is incarnated in the
interest, or at least the curiosity and questions.

Upon trying to imprint upon my memory that at such a period the Argives
ceased to be called Pelasgi, and were henceforward called Danai, I felt
how impracticable (and doubtless in their degree injurious, for though
an infinitesimal injury only as regards any single act doubtless, yet,
_per se_, by tendency doubtless all blank efforts of the memory
unsupported by the understanding are bad), must be any violent efforts
of the memory not falling in with a previous preparedness.

_Music._--I am satisfied that music involves a far greater mystery than
we are aware of. It is that universal language which binds together all
creatures, and binds them by a profounder part of their nature than
anything merely intellectual ever could.

It is remarkable (as proving to me the delibility of caste) that the
Sudras of Central India, during its vast confusions under the Mahrattas
have endeavoured to pass themselves for descendants of the Kshatriyas
(or warrior caste) by assuming the sacred thread, also assumed by the
Rajpoots, and also by some of the Sikhs.

I never see a vast crowd of faces--at theatres, races, reviews--but one
thing makes them sublime to me: the fact that all these people have to
die. Strange it is that this multitude of people, so many of them
intellectually, but also (which is worse) morally, blind, are without
forethought or sense of the realities of life.

Though I love fun, eternal jesting, buffoonery, punning absolutely kills
me. Such things derive all their value from being made to intervene well
with other things.

This is curious:

    Shame, pain, and poverty shall I endure,
    When ropes or opium can my ease procure?

This offends nobody, not till you say, 'I'll buy a rope.' But now:

    When money's gone, and I no debts can pay,
    _Self-murder_ is an honourable way--

though the same essentially, this shocks all men.

I have in the course of my misfortunes fasted for thirty years: a
dreadful fate, if it had been to come. But, being past, it is lawful to
regard it with satisfaction, as having, like all fasting and
mortification, sharpened to an excruciating degree my intellectual
faculties. Hence my love and even furor now for mathematics, from which
in my youth I fled.

The _Arrow Ketch_, six guns, is recorded in the _Edinburgh Advertiser_
for June 14th, 1844, as having returned home (to Portsmouth) on
Thursday, June 7th, 'after six years and upwards in commission,' most of
it surveying the Falkland Islands; 'has lost only two men during this
long service, and those from natural causes;' 'never lost a spar, and
has ploughed the ocean for upwards of 100,000 miles.'

Anecdotes from _Edinburgh Advertiser_, for June and May. The dog of a
boy that died paralytic from grief. Little child run over by railway
waggon and horse, clapping its hands when the shadow passed away,
leaving it unhurt. Little girl of six committing suicide from fear of a
stepmother's wrath.

To note the dire reactions (?) of evils: young thieves growing to old
ones, no sewers, damp, famine-engendering, desolating and wasting
plagues or typhus fever, want of granaries or mendacious violence
destroying food, civil feuds coming round in internecine wars, and
general desolations, and, as in Persia, eight millions occupying the
homesteads of three hundred millions. Here, if anywhere, is seen the
almighty reactions through which the cycle of human life, oscillating,

In the speech of the Lord Provost of Edinburgh (reported on June 14th,
1844), it is recited that boys 'left to stroll about the streets and
closes,' acquire habits so fixed, if not of vice, at least of idleness,
that in consequence of their not being trained to some kind of
discipline in their early years, the habit of vagabondizing acquires
such power that it is uncontrollable. And how apt and forcible was that
quotation in the place assigned it: 'If thou forbear to deliver them
that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if thou
sayest, _Behold, we knew it not_, doth not He that pondereth the heart,
consider it?'--consider it, regard it, make account of it.

_Manners._--The making game of a servant before company--a thing
impossible to well-bred people. Now observe how this is illustrative of
H---- Street.

I confess myself wholly at a loss to comprehend the objections of the
Westminster reviewer and even of my friend Dr. Nichol, to my commentary
on the strange appearance in Orion. The reviewer says that this
appearance (on which he seems to find my language incomprehensible) had
been dispersed by Lord Rosse's telescope. True, or at least so I hear.
But for all this, it was originally created by that telescope. It was
in the interval between the first report and the subsequent reports
from Lord Rosse's telescope that I made my commentary. But in the case
of contradiction between two reports, more accurate report I have not.
As regards the reviewer, there had been no time for this, because the
book, which he reviews, is a simple reprint in America, which he knows I
had had no opportunity of revising. But Dr. Nichol perplexes me. That a
new stage of progress had altered the appearances, as doubtless further
stages will alter them, concerns me nothing, though referring to a
coming republication; for both alike apparently misunderstood the case
as though it required a _real_ phenomenon for its basis. To understand
the matter as it really is, I beg to state this case. Wordsworth in at
least four different places (one being in the fourth book of 'The
Excursion,' three others in Sonnets) describes most impressive
appearances amongst the clouds: a monster, for instance, with a
bell-hanging air, a dragon agape to swallow a golden spear, and various
others of affecting beauty. Would it have been any just rebuke to
Wordsworth if some friend had written to him: 'I regret most sincerely
to say that the dragon and the golden spear had all vanished before nine
o'clock'? So, again, of Hawthorne's face on a rock. The very beauty of
such appearances is in part their evanescence.

To be or _not_ to be. 'Not to be, by G----' said Garrick. This is to be
cited in relation to Pope's--

    'Man never is, but always to be blessed.'

_Political Economy._--Which of these two courses shall I take? 1. Shall
I revise, extend, condense my logic of Political Economy, embodying
every doctrine (and numbering them) which I have amended or
re-positioned, and introduce them thus in a letter to the
Politico-Economical Society: 'Gentlemen, certain ideas fundamental to
Political Economy I presented in a book in the endeavour to effect a
certain purpose. These were too much intermingled with less elementary
ideas in consequence of my defective self-command from a dreadful
nervous idea, and thus by interweaving they were overlapped and lost.
But I am not disposed to submit to that wrong. I affirm steadily that
the foundations of Political Economy are rotten and crazy. I defy, and
taking up my stand as a scholar of Aristotle, I defy all men to gainsay
the following exposures of folly, one or any of them. And when I show
the darkness all round the very base of the hill, all readers may judge
how great is that darkness.' Or, 2. Shall I introduce them as a chapter
in my Logic?


We must never forget, that it is not _impar_ merely, but also _dispar_.
And such is its value in this light, that I protest five hundred kings'
ransoms, nay, any sum conceivable as a common contribution from all
nations would not be too much for the infinite treasure of the Greek
tragic drama alone. Is it superior to our own? No, nor (so far as
capable of collation) not by many degrees approaching to it. And were
the case, therefore, one merely of degrees, there would be no room for
the pleasure I express. But it shows us the ultimatum of the human mind
mutilated and castrated of its infinities, and (what is worse) of its
moral infinities.

You must imagine not only everything which there is dreadful in fact,
but everything which there is mysterious to the imagination in the
pariah condition, before you can approach the Heracleidæ. Yet, even with
this pariah, how poorly do most men conceive it as nothing more than a
civil, a police, an economic affair!

Valckenaer, an admirable Greek scholar, was not a man of fine
understanding; nor, to say the truth, was Porson. Indeed, it is
remarkable how mean, vulgar, and uncapacious has been the range of
intellect in many first-rate Grecians; though, on the other hand, the
reader would deeply deceive himself if he should imagine that Greek is
an attainment other than difficult, laborious, and requiring exemplary
talents. Greek taken singly is, to use an indispensable Latin word,
_instar_, the knowledge of all other languages. But men of the highest
talents have often beggarly understandings. Hence, in the case of
Valckenaer, we must derive the contradictions in his diatribe. He
practises this intolerable artifice; he calls himself [Greek:
philenripideios]; bespeaks an unfair confidence from the reader; he
takes credit for being once disposed to favour and indulge Euripides. In
this way he accredits to the careless reader all the false charges or
baseless concessions which he makes on any question between Euripides
and his rivals. Such men as Valckenaer it is who are biased and
inflected beforehand, without perceiving it, by all the commonplaces of
criticism. These, it is true, do not arise out of mere shadows. Usually
they have a foundation in some fact or modification. What they fail in
is, in the just interpretation of these truths, and in the reading of
their higher relations. 'The Correggiosity of Correggio' was precisely
meant for Valckenaer. The Sophocleity of Sophocles he is keen to
recognise, and the superiority of Sophocles as an artist is undeniable;
nor is it an advantage difficult to detect. On the other hand, to be
more Homeric than Homer is no praise for a tragic poet. It is far more
just, pertinent praise, it is a ground of far more interesting praise,
that Euripides is granted by his undervalues to be the most _tragic_
([Greek: tragichotatos]) of tragic poets. After that he can afford to
let Sophocles be '[Greek: Homerichôtos], who, after all, is not '[Greek:
Homerichôtutos], so long as Æschylus survives. But even so far we are
valuing Euripides as a poet. In another character, as a philosopher, as
a large capacious thinker, as a master of pensive and sorrow-tainted
wisdom, as a large reviewer of human life, he is as much beyond all
rivalship from his scenic brethren as he is below one of them as a
scenic artist.

Is the Nile ancient? So is Homer. Is the Nile remote and hiding its head
in fable? So is Homer. Is the Nile the diffusive benefactor of the
world? So is Homer.[36]

_The Æneid._--It is not any supposed excellence that has embalmed this
poem; but the enshrining of the differential Roman principle (the grand
aspiring character of resolution), all referred to the central principle
of the aggrandizement of Rome.

The sublime of wrath is nowhere exhibited so well as in Juvenal. Yet in
Juvenal pretty glimpses of rural rest--

    '... infans cum collusore catello.'[37]

That is pretty! There is another which comes to my mind and suggests his
rising up and laying aside, etc., and shows it to be an _occasional_
act, and, _ergo_, his garden is but a relaxation, amusement.

Glances which the haughty eyes of Rome threw sometimes gently and
relentingly aside on man or woman, children or the flowers.

Herodotus is as sceptical as Plutarch is credulous. How often is _now_
and _at this time_ applied to the fictitious present of the author,
whilst a man arguing generally beforehand would say that surely a man
could always distinguish between _now_ and _then_.


_Growth of the House of Commons._--The House of Commons was the power of
the purse, and what gave its emphasis to that power? Simply the growing
necessity of standing forces, and the growing increase of war, so that
now out of twenty millions, fifteen are applied to army and navy.

One great evil, as in practice it had begun to show itself, pressed with
equal injustice on the party who suffered from it (viz., the nation),
and the party who seemed to reap its benefit. This was the fact that as
yet no separation had taken place between the royal peculiar revenue,
and that of the nation. The advance of the nation was now (1603, 1st of
James I.) approaching to the point which made the evil oppression, and
yet had not absolutely reached the point at which it could be undeniably
perceived. Much contest and debate divided the stage of incipient evil
from the stage of confessed grievance. In spending £100,000 upon a
single fête, James I. might reasonably allege that he misapplied, at any
rate, his own funds. Wise or not, the act concerned his own private
household. Yet, on the other hand, in the case of money _really_ public,
the confusion of the two expenditures invited and veiled the transfer
of much from national objects that could wait, and were, at any rate,
hidden from effectual scrutiny to the private objects which tempted the
king's profusion. When Mr. Macaulay speaks so often of England sinking
under this or that Stuart to a third-rate power, he is anachronizing.
There was no scale of powers. Want of roads and intercommunication
forbade it. And hence until the Thirty Years' War there was no general
war. Austria, as by fiction the Roman Empire, and always standing
awfully near to North Italy, had a natural relation and gravitation
towards Rome. France, by vainglory and the old literary pretensions of
Anjou, had also a balancing claim upon Italy. Milanese formed indeed (as
Flanders afterwards) the rendezvous for the two powers. Otherwise, only
Austria and Spain (and Spain not till joined to Austria) and France--as
great powers that touched each other in many points--had ever formed a
warlike trio. No quadrille had existed until the great civil war for
life and death between Popery and Protestantism. It was another great
evil that the functions towards which, by inevitable instincts and
tendency of progress, the House of Commons was continually
travelling,--not, I repeat, through any encroaching spirit as the Court
and that House of Commons itself partially fancied,--were not yet
developed: false laws of men, _i.e._, laws framed under theories
misunderstood of rights and constitutional powers, having as much
distorted the true natural play of the organic manifestation and
tendency towards a whole, as ever a dress too tight, or a flower-pot too
narrow, impeded the development of child or plant. Queen Elizabeth,
therefore, always viewed the House of Commons as a disturber of the
public peace, as a mutineer and insurrectionist, when any special
accident threw it upon its natural function; she spoke of State
affairs, and especially of foreign affairs, as beyond their
'_capacity_,' which expression, however, must in charity be interpreted
philosophically as meaning the range of comprehension consistent with
their _total_ means of instruction and preparation, including,
therefore, secret information, knowledge of disposable home resources as
known to the official depositaries of State secrets, etc., and not, as
the modern reader will understand it, simply and exclusively the
intellectual power of appreciation. Since, with all her disposition to
exalt the qualities of princely persons, she could not be so absurdly
haughty as to claim for princes and the counsellors whom interest or
birth had suggested to them a precedency in pure natural endowments.

Charles was a sincere believer but not an earnest believer of the Roman
Catholic faith. James was both sincere and preternaturally earnest.

_The Reformation._--This seems to show two things: 1st, that a deep
searching and 'sagacious-from-afar' spirit of morality can mould itself
under the prompting of Christianity, such as could not have grown up
under Paganism. For it was the abominations in point of morality (_en
fait de moralité?_)--indulgences, the confessional, absolution, the
prevalence of a mere ritual--the usurpation of forms--these it was which
Rome treated violently; and if she draw in her horns for the present,
still upon any occasion offering, upon the cloud of peril passing away,
clearly she would renew her conduct. It was a tendency violently and
inevitably belonging to the Roman polity combined with the Roman
interest, unless, perhaps, as permanently controlled by a
counter-force. 2ndly, the synthesis of this curative force is by
apposition of parts separately hardly conscious of the danger or even of
their own act. For we cannot suppose the vast body of opposition put
forward was so under direct conscious appreciation of the evil and by an
adequate counter-action--doubtless it was by sympathy with others having
better information. These last burned more vividly as the evil was
fiercer. That more vivid sympathy drew increase of supporters.

_Memorandum._--In my historical sketches not to forget the period of
woe, _anterior_ to the Siege of Jerusalem, which Josephus describes as
occurring in all the Grecian cities, but which is so unaccountably
overlooked by historians.

The rule is to speak like the foolish, and think like the wise, and
therefore I agree to call our worthy old mother 'little'--our 'little
island'--as that seems to be the prevailing notion; otherwise I myself
consider Great Britain rather a tall island. A man is not called short
because some few of his countrymen happen to be a trifle taller; and
really I know but of two islands, among tens of thousands counted up by
gazetteers on our planet, that are taller; and I fancy, with such
figures as theirs, they are neither of them likely to think of any
rivalship with our dear old mother. What island, for instance, would
choose to be such a great fat beast as Borneo, as broad as she is long,
with no apology for a waist? Talk of lacing too tight, indeed! I'm sure
Borneo does not injure herself in that way. Now our mother, though she's
old, and has gone through a world of trouble in her time, is as jimp
about the waist as a young lass of seventeen. Look at her on any map of
Europe, and she's quite a picture. It's an old remark that the general
outline of the dear creature exactly resembles a lady sitting. She turns
her back upon the Continent, no doubt, and that's what makes those
foreigneering rascals talk so much of her pride. But she _must_ turn her
back upon somebody, and who is it that should have the benefit of her
countenance, if not those people in the far West that are come of her
own blood? They say she's 'tetyy' also. Well, then, if she is, you let
her alone, good people of the Continent. She'll not meddle with you if
you don't meddle with her. She's kind enough, and, as to her person, I
do maintain that she's quite tall enough, rather thin, it's true, but,
on the whole, a bonny, elegant, dear old fighting mamma.

_Mora Alexandrina._--Note on Middleton's affected sneer. A villa of
Cicero's, where probably the usual sound heard would be the groans of
tormented slaves, had been changed for the cells of Christian monks. Now
mark: what the hound Middleton means is, how shocking to literary
sensibilities that where an elegant master of Latinity had lived, there
should succeed dull, lazy monks, writing (if they wrote at all) in a
barbarous style, and dreaming away their lives in torpor. Now permit me
to pause a little. This is one of those sneers which Paley[38] and
Bishop Butler[39] think so unanswerable, that we must necessarily lie
down and let the sneer ride rough-shod over us all. Let us see, and for
this reason, reader, do not grudge a little delay, especially as you may
'skip' it.

Dr. Conyers ought to have remembered, in the first place, that the villa
could not long remain in the hands of Cicero. Another owner would
succeed, and then the chances would be that the sounds oftenest
ascending in the hour of sunset or in the cool of the dawn would be the
shrieks of slaves under torture. By their own poor miserable fare
contrasted with the splendour reeking around them, these slaves had a
motive, such as our tenderly-treated (often pampered) servants can never
know the strength of, for breaking the seal of any wine cask. From the
anecdote told of his own mother by the wretched Quintus Cicero, the foul
brother of Marcus, it appears that generally there was some
encouragement to do this, on the chance of 'working down' on the master
that the violated seal had been amongst the casks legitimately opened.
For it seems that old Mrs. Cicero's housewifely plan was to seal up all
alike, empty and not empty. Consequently with her no such excuse could
avail. Which proves that often it _did_ avail, since her stratagem is
mentioned as a very notable artifice. What follows? Why, that the slave
was doubly tempted: 1st, by the luxury he witnessed; 2ndly, by the
impunity on which he might calculate. Often he escaped by sheer weight
of metal in lying. Like Chaucer's miller, he swore, when charged with
stealing flour, that it was not so. But this very prospect and
likelihood of escape was often the very snare for tempting to excesses
too flagrant or where secret marks had been fixed. Besides, many other
openings there were, according to the individual circumstances, but this
was a standing one, for tempting the poor unprincipled slave into
trespass that irritated either the master or the mistress. And then came
those periodical lacerations and ascending groans which Seneca mentions
as the best means of telling what o'clock it was in various households,
since the punishments were going on just at that hour.

After, when the gracious revolution of Christianity had taught us, and
by a memento so solemn and imperishable, no longer to pursue our human
wrath, that hour of vesper sanctity had come, which, by the tendency of
the Christian law and according to the degree in which it is observed,
is for us a type and a symbol and a hieroglyphic of wrath extinguished,
of self-conquest, of charity in heaven and on earth.

Now, the monks, it is supposable, might be commonplace drones. Often,
however, they would be far other, transmitters by their copying toils of
those very Ciceronian works which, but for them, would have perished.
And pausing duly here, what sense, what propriety would there be in
calling on the reader to notice with a shock the profanation of
classical ground in such an example as this: 'Mark the strange
revolutions of ages; there, where once the divine Plato's Academus
stood, now rises a huge printing-house chiefly occupied for the last two
years in reprinting Plato's works.' Why, really Plato himself would look
graciously on that revolution, Master Conyers. But next, the dullest of
these monks would hear the Gloria in Excelsis.

Oh, how pitiful it is to hear B---- alleging against Mahomet that he had
done no public miracles. What? Would it, then, alter your opinion of
Mahomet if he _had_ done miracles? What a proof, how full, how perfect!
That Christianity, in spirit, in power, in simplicity, and in truth, had
no more hold over B---- than it had over any Pagan Pontiff in Rome, is
clear to me from that. So, then, the argument against Mahomet is not
that he wants utterly the meekness--wants? wants? No, that he utterly
hates the humility, the love that is stronger than the grave, the purity
that cannot be imagined, the holiness as an ideal for man that cannot be
approached, the peace that passeth all understanding, that power which
out of a little cloud no bigger than a man's hand grows for ever and
ever until it will absorb the world and all that it inherit, that first
of all created the terror of death and the wormy grave; but that first
and last she might triumph over time--not these, it seems by B----, are
the arguments against Mahomet, but that he did not play legerdemain
tricks, that he did not turn a cow into a horse!

In which position B---- is precisely on a level with those Arab Sheikhs,
or perhaps Mamelukes, whom Napoleon so foolishly endeavoured to surprise
by Chinese tricks: 'Aye, all this is very well, but can you make one to
be in Cairo and in Damascus at the same moment?' demanded the poor
brutalized wretches. And so also for B---- it is nothing. Oh, blind of
heart not to perceive that the defect was entirely owing to the age.
Mahomet came to a most sceptical region. There was no semblance or
shadow among the Arabs of that childish credulity which forms the
atmosphere for miracle. On the contrary, they were a hard, fierce
people, and in that sense barbarous; but otherwise they were sceptical,
as is most evident from all that they accomplished, which followed the
foundation of Islamism. Here lies the delusion upon that point. The
Arabs were evidently like all the surrounding nations. They were also
much distinguished among all Oriental peoples for courage. This fact has
been put on record in (1) the East Indies, where all the Arab troops
have proved themselves by far more formidable than twelve times the
number of effeminate Bengalese and Mahrattas, etc. (2) At Aden, where as
rude fighters without the science of war they have been most ugly
customers. (3) In Algeria, where the French, with all advantage of
discipline, science, artillery, have found it a most trying and
exhausting war. Well, as they are now, so they were before Mahomet, and
just then they were ripe for conquest. But they wanted a _combining_
motive and a _justifying_ motive. Mahomet supplied both these. Says he,
'All nations are idolaters; go and thrust them into the mill that they
may be transformed to our likeness.'

Consequently, the great idea of the truth, of a truth transcending all
available rights on the other side, was foreign to Mahometanism, and any
glimmering of this that may seem to be found in it was borrowed, was
filched from Christianity.


The three greatest powers which we know of in moulding human feelings
are, first, Christianity; secondly, the actions of men emblazoned by
history; and, in the third place, poetry. If the first were represented
to the imagination by the atmospheric air investing our planet, which we
take to be the most awful laboratory of powers--mysterious, unseen, and
absolutely infinite--the second might be represented by the winds, and
the third by lightning. Napoleon and Lord Byron have done more mischief
to the moral feelings, to the truth of all moral estimates, to the
grandeur and magnanimity of man, in this present generation, than all
other causes acting together. But how? Simply by throwing human feelings
into false combinations. Both of them linked the mean to the grand, the
base to the noble, in a way which often proves fatally inextricable to
the poor infirm mind of the ordinary spectator. Here is Napoleon, simply
because he wields a vast national machinery, throwing a magic of
celerity and power into a particular action which absolutely overpowers
the _genus attonitorum_, so that they are reconciled by the dazzle of a
splendour not at all _in_ Napoleon, to a baseness which really _is_ in
Napoleon. The man that never praised an enemy is shown to this vile mob
by the light thrown off from the radiant power of France as the greatest
of men; he is confounded with his supporting element, even as the
Jupiter Olympus of Phidias, that never spared a woman in his lust,
seemed the holiest of deities when his rottenness was concealed by ivory
and gold, and his libidinous head was lighted up by sunbeams from above.
Here is Lord Byron connecting, in the portrait of some poor melodramatic
hero possibly, some noble quality of courage or perseverance with scorn
the most puerile and senseless. Prone enough is poor degraded human
nature to find something grand in scorn; but, after this arbitrary
combination of Lord Byron's, never again does the poor man think of
scorn but it suggests to him moral greatness, nor think of greatness but
it suggests scorn as its indispensable condition.

Wordsworth is always recording phenomena as they are enjoyed; Coleridge
as they reconcile themselves with opposing or conflicting phenomena.

W. W.'s social philosophy is surely shallow. It is true the man who has
a shallow philosophy under the guidance of Christianity has a profound
philosophy. But this apart, such truths as 'He who made the creature
will allow for his frailties,' etc., are commonplace.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Invention as a Characteristic of Poets._--I happened this evening
(Saturday, August 3rd, '44) to be saying of W. W. to myself: 'No poet is
so free from all cases like this, viz., where all the feelings and
spontaneous thoughts which they have accumulated coming to an end, and
yet the case seeming to require more to finish it, or bring it round,
like a peal of church bells, they are forced to invent, and form
descants on raptures never really felt. Suddenly this suggested that
invention, therefore, so far from being a differential quality of
poetry, was, in fact, the polar opposite, spontaneousness being the true

_Tragedy._--I believe it is a very useful thing to let young persons
cultivate their kind feelings by repeated indulgences. Thus my children
often asked when anything was to be paid or given to any person, that
they might have the satisfaction of giving it. So I see clearly that
young boys or girls allowed to carry abroad their infant brothers and
sisters, when the little creature feels and manifests a real dependence
upon them in every act and movement, which _matre præsente_ they would
not have done, which again seen and felt calls out every latent goodness
of the elder child's heart. So again (here I have clipped out the case).
However, feeding rabbits, but above all the action upon women's hearts
in the enormous expansion given by the relation to their own children,
develops a feeling of tenderness that afterwards sets the model for the
world, and would die away, or freeze, or degenerate, if it were
generally balked. Now just such an action has tragedy, and if the
sympathy with calamities caused to noble natures by ignobler, or by dark
fates, were never opened or moved or called out, it would slumber
inertly, it would rust, and become far less ready to respond upon any
call being made. Such sensibilities are not consciously known to the
possessor until developed.

_Punctuation._--Suppose an ordinary case where the involution of clauses
went three deep, and that each was equally marked off by commas, now I
say that so far from aiding the logic it would require an immense effort
to distribute the relations of logic. But the very purpose and use of
points is to aid the logic. If indeed you could see the points at all in
this relation

              strophe                     antistrophe
      1     2     3                    3     2    1
    ----, ----, ----,       apodosis ----, ----, ----,

then indeed all would be clear, but the six commas will and must be
viewed by every reader unversed in the logical mechanism of sentences as
merely a succession of ictuses, so many minute-guns having no internal
system of correspondence, but merely repeating and reiterating each
other, exactly as in men, guns, horses, timbrels, baggage-waggons,

_Sheridan's Disputatiousness._--I never heard of any case in the whole
course of my life where disputatiousness was the author of any benefit
to man or beast, excepting always one, in which it became a storm anchor
for poor Sheridan, saving him from sudden shipwreck. This may be found
in Mr. Moore's life, somewhere about the date of 1790, and in chapter
xiii. The book is thirty-seven miles off, which is too far to send for
water, or for scandal, or even for 'extract,' though I'm 'fond of
extract.' Therefore, in default of Mr. Moore's version, I give my own.
The situation was this: Sheridan had been cruising from breakfast to
dinner amongst Jews, Christians, and players (men, women, and
Herveys),[40] and constantly in the same hackney coach, so that the
freight at last settled like the sand-heap of an hour-glass into a
frightful record of costly moments. _Pereunt et imputantur_, say some
impertinent time-pieces, in speaking of the hours. They perish and are
debited to our account. Yes, and what made it worse, the creditor was an
inexorable old Jarvie, who, though himself a creditor, had never heard
the idea of credit. A guinea might be owing, and Sheridan, seldom
remembering his purse, had but a shilling, which even in a court of
Irish law seemed too small a compromise to offer. Black looked the
horizon, stormy the offing, and night was coming on, whilst the port of
consignment was now within thirty minutes' sail. Suddenly a sight of joy
was described. Driving before the wind, on bare poles, was a well-known
friend of Sheridan's, Richardson, famed for various talent, but also for
an invincible headlong necessity of disputing. To pull the check-string,
to take his friend on board, and to rush into fierce polemic
conversation was the work of a moment for Sheridan. He well understood
with this familiar friend how to bring on a hot dispute. In three
minutes it raged, yard-arm to yard-arm. Both grew warm. Sheridan grew
purple with rage. Violently interrupting Richardson, he said: 'And these
are your real sentiments?' Richardson with solemnity and artificial
restraint replied: 'Most solemnly they are.' 'And you stand to them, and
will maintain them?' 'I will,' said Richardson, with menacing solemnity
and even mournfulness. 'I will to my dying day.' 'Then,' said Sheridan
furiously, 'I'm hanged if I'll stay another minute with a man capable of
such abominable opinions!' Bang went the door, out he bounced, and
Richardson, keeping his seat, pursued him with triumphant explosions.
'Ah, wretch! what? you can't bear the truth. You're obliged to hate the
truth. That is why you cut and run before it. Huzza! Mr. Sheridan, M.
P. for Stafford, runs like a hare for fear that he should hear the
truth.' Precisely so, the truth it was that he ran from. The truth at
this particular moment was too painful to his heart. Sheridan had fled;
the awful truth amounted to eighteen shillings.

Yes, virtuous Richardson, you were right; truth it was that he fled
from; truth had just then become too painful to his infirm mind,
although it was useless to tell him so, as by this time he was out of
hearing. 'Yes,' said Richardson meditatively to himself, 'the truth has
at last become insupportable to this unhappy man.' Right, it _had_ so.
And in one minute more it became insupportable even to the virtuous
Richardson, when the coachman revealed the odious extent of the truth,
viz., that the fare now amounted to two-and-twenty shillings.

As I hate everything that the people love, and above all the odious
levity with which they adopt every groundless anecdote, especially where
it happens to be calumnious, I beg not to be supposed a believer in the
common stories current about Sheridan's carelessness of pecuniary
obligations. So far from 'never paying,' which is what public slander
has not ceased to report of him, he was (in Mr. Moore's language)
'_always_ paying;' and for once that he paid too little, a thousand
times he paid a great deal too much. Had, indeed, all his excesses of
payment been gathered into one fund, that fund would have covered his
deficits ten times over. It is, however, true that, whilst he was
continually paying the hundred-pound demands against him, with all their
Jewish accumulations of interest, he was continually unfurnished with
money for his 'menus plaisirs' and trifling personal expenses.

By strong natural tendency of disposition, Sheridan was a man of
peculiarly sensitive honour, and the irregularities into which he fell,
more conspicuously after the destruction of Drury Lane by fire, pained
nobody so much as himself. It is the sense of this fact, and the belief
that Sheridan was never a defaulter through habits of self-indulgence,
which call out in _my_ mind a reaction of indignation at the stories
current against him.

_Bookbinding and Book-Lettering._--Literature is a mean thing enough in
the ordinary way of pursuing it as what the Germans call a
_Brodstudium_; but in its higher relations it is so noble that it is
able to ennoble other things, supposing them in any degree ministerial
to itself. The paper-maker, ergo the rag-maker, ergo the linen
cloth-maker, is the true and original creator of the modern press, as
the Archbishop of Dublin long ago demonstrated. For the art of printing
had never halted for want of the typographic secret; _that_ was always
known, known and practised hundreds of years before the Christian era.
It halted for want of a material cheap enough and plentiful enough to
make types other than a most costly substitute for hand-copying. Do you
hear _that_, gentlemen blockheads, that seldom hear anything but
yourselves? Next after the paper-maker, who furnished the _sine quâ
non_, takes rank, not the engraver or illustrator (our modern novelist
cannot swim without this caricaturing villain as one of his bladders;
all higher forms of literature laugh at him), but the binder; for he, by
raising books into ornamental furniture, has given even to
non-intellectual people by myriads a motive for encouraging literature
and an interest in its extension.

Any specimen of Mr. Ferrar's binding I never saw, but by those who
_have_, it is said to have been magnificent. He and his family were
once, if not twice, visited by Charles I., and they presented to that
prince a most sumptuous Bible of their own binding; which Bible, a lady
once told me, was in that collection gradually formed by George III. at
Buckingham House, and finally presented to the nation by his son. I
should fear it must be in ruins as a specimen of the Little Gidding
workmanship. The man who goes to bed in his coffin dressed in a jewelled
robe and a diamond-hilted sword, is very liable to a visit from the
resurrection-man, who usually disarms and undresses him. The Bible that
has its binding inlaid with gold, sowed with Oriental pearl, and made
horrent with rubies, suggests to many a most unscriptural mode of
searching into its treasures, and too like the Miltonic Mammon's mode of
perusing the gorgeous floors of heaven. Besides that, if the Bible
escaped the Parliamentary War, the true _art_ of the Ferrar family would
be better displayed in a case of less cost and luxury. Certainly, in no
one art was the stupidity of Europe more atrociously recorded than in
this particular art practised by the Ferrars. Boundless was the field
for improvement. And in particular, I had myself drawn from this art, as
practised of old, one striking memorial of that remarkable genius for
stupidity, which in all ages alike seems to haunt man as by an
inspiration, unless he is roused out of it by panic. It is this. Look at
the lettering--that is, the labels lettered with the titles of books--in
all libraries that are not of recent date. No man would believe that the
very earliest attempt to impress a mark of ownership upon some bucket of
the Argonauts, or the rudest scrawl of Polyphemus in forging a tarry
brand upon some sheep which he had stolen, could be _so_ bad, _so_
staggering and illegible, as are these literary inscriptions. How much
better to have had a thin tablet or veneering of marble or iron adjusted
to the back of the book. A stone-cutter in a rural churchyard once told
me that he charged a penny _per_ letter. That may be cheap for a
gravestone, but it seems rather high for a book. _Plato_ would cost you
fivepence, _Aristotle_ would be shocking; and in decency you must put
him into Latin, which would add twopence more to every volume. On a
library like that of Dresden or the Vatican, it would raise a national
debt to letter the books.

_Cause of the Novel's Decline._--No man, it may be safely laid down as a
general rule, can obtain a strong hold over the popular mind without
more or less of real power. A reality there must be. The artifice, the
trickery, cannot arise in this first stage, as by any substitution of a
shadow for a reality. If the mass of readers _feel_ a power, and
acknowledge a power, in that case power there must be. It was the just
remark of Dr. Johnson that men do not deceive themselves in their
amusements. And amusement it is that the great public seek in
literature. The meaner and the more sensual the demands of a man are, so
much the less possible it becomes to cheat him. Seeking for warmth, he
cannot be wrong when he says that he has found it. Asking for _alcohol_,
he will never be cheated with water. His feelings in such a case, his
impressions, instantaneously justify themselves; that is, they bear
witness past all doubting to the certainty of what they report. So far
there is no opening to mistake. The error, the opening to the spurious
on the largest scale, arises first upon the _quality_ of the power.
Strength varies upon an endless scale, not merely by its own gradations,
but by the modes and the degrees in which it combines with other
qualities. And there are many combinations, cases of constant
recurrence, in which some natural vigour, but of no remarkable order,
enters into alliance with animal propensities; where a portentous
success will indicate no corresponding power in the artist, but only an
unusual insensibility to decency and the opinion of thoughtful persons.

Novels are the one sole class of books that ever interest the public,
that reach its heart, or even catch its eye. And the reason why novels
are becoming much more licentious, and much grosser in the arts by which
they court public favour, lies undoubtedly in the quality of that new
reading public which the extension of education has added to the old
one. An education miserably shallow, whilst unavailing for any purpose
of real elevation, lets in upon the theatre of what is called by
courtesy literature a vast additional audience that once would have been
excluded altogether. This audience, changed in no respect from its
former condition of intellect and manners and taste, bringing only the
single qualification of ability to read, is now strong enough in numbers
to impress a new character upon literature in so far as literature has a
motive for applying itself to _their_ wants. The consequences are
showing themselves, and _will_ show themselves more broadly. It is
difficult with proper delicacy to seek illustrations amongst our own
living writers. Illustrations were all too easily found did we care to
enter on the task.

It is true that, during the currency of any year, whilst the quantity
is liable to indeterminate augmentation, ballads will be rather looking
down in the market. But that is a shadow which settles upon every
earthly good thing. No Greek book, for instance, amongst the many that
have perished, would so much rejoice many of us by its resurrection as
the comedies of Menander. Yet, if a correspondent should write word from
Pompeii that twenty-five thousand separate dramas of Menander had been
found in good preservation, adding in a postscript that forty thousand
more had been impounded within the last two hours, and that there was
every prospect of bagging two hundred thousand more before morning, we
should probably petition Government to receive the importing vessels
with chain-shot. Not even Milton or Shakespeare could make head against
such a Lopez de Vega principle of ruinous superfluity. Allowing for this
one case of preternatural excess, assuming only that degree of
limitation which any absolute past must almost always create up to that
point, we say that there is no conceivable composition, or class of
compositions, which will not be welcomed into literature provided, as to
matter, that it shall embody some natural strain of feeling, and
provided, as to manner, that it illustrate the characteristic style of a
known generation.

It might suffice for our present purpose to have once firmly
distinguished between the two modes of literature. But it may be as well
to point out a few corollaries from this distinction, which will serve
at the same time to explain and to confirm it. For instance, first of
all, it has been abundantly insisted on in our modern times, that the
value of every literature lies in its characteristic part; a truth
certainly, but a truth upon which the German chanticleer would not have
crowed and flapped his wings so exultingly, had he perceived the
original and indispensable schism between the literature of knowledge
and the literature of power, because in this latter only can anything
characteristic of a man or of a nation be embodied. The science of no
man can be characteristic, no man can geometrize or chemically analyze
after a manner peculiar to himself. He may be the first to open a new
road, and in that meaning it may be called _his_ road; but _his_ it
cannot be by any such peculiarities as will found an _incommunicable_
excellence. In literature proper, viz., the literature of power, this is
otherwise. There may doubtless have been many imitative poets, wearing
little or nothing of a natural individuality; but of no poet, that ever
_led_ his own class, can it have been possible that he should have been
otherwise than strongly differenced by inimitable features and by traits
not transferable. Consequently the [Greek: to] characteristic, of which
in German cloudland so noisy a proclamation is made as of some
transcendental discovery, is a mere inference from the very idea of a
literature. For we repeat that in blank knowledge a separate peculiarity
marking the individual is not conceivable, whereas in a true literature
reflecting human nature, not as it represents, but as it wills, not as a
passive minor, but as a self-moving power, it is not possible to avoid
the characteristic except only in the degree by which the inspiring
nature happens to be feeble. The exorbitations that differentiate them
may be of narrow compass, but only where the motive power was originally
weak. And agreeably to this remark it may be asserted that in all
literature properly so-called genius, is always manifested, and talent
generally; but in the literature of knowledge it may be doubted very
seriously whether there is any opening for more than talent. Genius may
be defined in the severest manner as _that which is generally
characteristic_; but a thousand times we repeat that one man's mode of
knowing an object cannot differ from another man's. It _cannot_ be
characteristic, and its geniality cannot be externally manifested. To
have said, therefore, of the poetry surviving from ancient Latium, from
Castile, from England, that this is nationally characteristic, and
knowable apart by inalienable differences, is saying no more than
follows out of the very definition by which any and every literature
proper is limited and guarded as a mode of power.

Secondly, even in the exceptions and hesitations upon applying the
rigour of this distinction, we may read the natural recognition (however
latent or unconscious) of the rule itself. No man would think, for
example, of placing a treatise on surveying, on mensuration, on
geological stratifications, in any collection of his national
literature. He would be lunatic to do so. A Birmingham or Glasgow
Directory has an equal title to take its station in the national
literature. But he will hesitate on the same question arising with
regard to a history. Where upon examination the history turns out to be
a mere chronicle, or register of events chronologically arranged, with
no principle of combination pervading it, nor colouring from peculiar
views of policy, nor sympathy with the noble and impassioned in human
action, the decision will be universal and peremptory to cashier it from
the literature. Yet this case, being one of degree, ranges through a
large and doubtful gamut. A history like that of Froissart, or of
Herodotus, where the subjective from the writer blends so powerfully
with the gross objective, where the moral picturesque is so predominant,
together with freshness of sensation which belongs to 'blissful
infancy' in human life, or to a stage of society in correspondence to
it, cannot suffer a demur of jealousy as to its privilege of entering
the select fold of literature. But such advantages are of limited
distribution. And, to say the truth, in its own nature neither history
nor biography, unless treated with peculiar grace, and architecturally
moulded, has any high pretension to rank as an organic limb of
literature. The very noblest history, in much of its substance, is but
by a special indulgence within the privilege of that classification.
Biography stands on the same footing. Of the many memorials dedicated to
the life of Milton, how few are entitled to take their station in the
literature! And why? Not merely that they are disqualified by their
defective execution, but often that they necessarily record what has
become common property.


[29] Between the forms _modal_, _modish_, and _modern_, the difference
is of that slight order which is constantly occurring between the
Elizabethan age and our own. _Ish_, _ous_, _ful_, _some_, are
continually interchanging; thus, _pitiful_ for _piteous_, _quarrelous_
for _quarrelsome_.

[30] I deny that there is or could have been one truant fluttering
murmur of the heart against the reality of glory. And partly for these
reasons: 1st, That, _hoc abstracto_, defrauding man of this, you leave
him miserably bare--bare of everything. So that really and sincerely the
very wisest men may be seen clinging convulsively, and clutching with
their dying hands the belief that glory, that posthumous fame (which for
profound ends of providence has been endowed with a subtle power of
fraud such as no man can thoroughly look through; for those who, like
myself, despise it most completely, cannot by any art bring forward a
_rationale_, a theory of its hollowness that will give plenary
satisfaction except to those who are already satisfied). Thus Cicero,
feeling that if this were nothing, then had all his life been a
skirmish, one continued skirmish for shadows and nonentities; a feeling
of blank desolation, too startling--too humiliating to be faced. But
(2ndly), the unsearchable hypocrisy of man, that hypocrisy which even to
himself is but dimly descried, that latent hypocrisy which always does,
and most profitably, possess every avenue of every man's thoughts, hence
a man who should openly have avowed a doctrine that glory was a bubble,
besides that, instead of being prompted to this on a principle which so
far raised him above other men, must have been prompted by a principle
that sank him to the level of the brutes, viz., acquiescing in total
ventrine improvidence, imprescience, and selfish ease (if ease, a Pagan
must have it _cum dignitate_), but above all he must have made
proclamation that in his opinion all disinterested virtue was a chimera,
since all the quadrifarious virtue of the scholastic ethics was founded
either on personal self-sufficiency, on justice, moderation, etc., etc.,
or on direct personal and exclusive self-interest as regarded health and
the elements of pleasure.

[31] The tower of Siloam.

[32] Every definition is a syllogism. Now, because the minor proposition
is constantly false, this does not affect the case; each man is right to
fill up the minor with his own view, and essentially they do not
disagree with each other.

A (the subject of def.)is _x_. The Truth is the sum of Christianity.

But C is _x_. But my Baptist view is the sum of Christianity.

_Ergo_ C is A. _Ergo_ my Baptist view is the Truth.

[33] It seems that Herod made changes so vast--certainly in the
surmounting works, and _also_ probably in one place as to the
foundations, that it could not be called the same Temple with that of
the Captivity, except under an abuse of ideas as to matter and form, of
which all nations have furnished illustrations, from the ship _Argo_ to
that of old Drake, from Sir John Cutler's stockings to the Highlander's
(or Irishman's) musket.

[34] Just as if a man spending his life to show the folly of Methodism
should burst into maudlin tears at sight of John Wesley, and say, 'Oh,
if all men, my dear brothers, were but Methodists!'

[35] How so? If the Jews were naturally infidels, why did God select
them? But, first, they might have, and they certainly had, other
balancing qualities; secondly, in the sense here meant, all men are
infidels; and we ourselves, by the very nature of one object which I
will indicate, are pretty generally infidels in the same sense as they.
Look at our evidences; look at the sort of means by which we often
attempt to gain proselytes among the heathen and at home. Fouler
infidelities there are not. Special pleading, working for a verdict,
etc., etc.

[36] [This idea is expanded and followed out in detail in the opening of
'Homer and the Homeridæ;' but this is evidently the note from which that
grew, and is here given alike on account of its compactness and

[37] Satire ix., lines 60, 61.

[38] Who can answer a sneer?

[39] Butler--'unanswerable ridicule.'

[40] Said of members of the Bristol family.



The following on the 'Rhapsodoi' is a variation on that which appeared
in 'Homer and the Homeridæ,' with some quite additional and new thoughts
on the subject.

About these people, who they were, what relation they bore to Homer, and
why they were called 'Rhapsodoi,' we have seen debated in Germany
through the last half century with as much rabid ferocity as was ever
applied to the books of a fraudulent bankrupt. Such is the natural
impertinence of man. If he suspects any secret, or any base attempt to
hide and conceal things from himself, he is miserable until he finds out
the mystery, and especially where all the parties to it have been
defunct for 2,500 years. Great indignation seems reasonably to have been
felt by all German scholars that any man should presume to have called
himself a _rhapsodos_ at any period of Grecian history without sending
down a sealed letter to posterity stating all the reasons which induced
him to take so unaccountable a step. No possible solution, given to any
conceivable question bearing upon the 'Rhapsodoi,' seems by any tendency
to affect any question outstanding about Homer. And we do not therefore
understand the propriety of intermingling this dispute with the general
Homeric litigation. However, to comply with the practice of Germany, we
shall throw away a few sentences upon this, as a pure _ad libitum_

The courteous reader, whom we beg also to suppose the most ignorant of
readers, by way of thus founding a necessity and a case of philosophic
reasonableness for the circumstantiality of our own explanations, will
be pleased to understand that by ancient traditionary usage the word
_rhapsodia_ is the designation technically applied to the several books
or cantos of the 'Iliad' and 'Odyssey.' So the word _fytte_ has gained a
technical appropriation to our narrative poetry when it takes the ballad
form. Now, the Greek word _rhapsody_ is derived from a tense of the verb
_rhapto_, to sew as with a needle, to connect, and _ode_, a song, chant,
or course of singing. If, therefore, you conceive of a _rhapsodia_, not
as the _opera_, but as the _opus_ of a singer, not as the form, but as
the result of his official ministration, viz., as that section of a
narrative poem which forms an intelligible whole in itself, whilst in a
subordinate relation it is one part of a larger whole--this idea
represents accurately enough the use of the word _rhapsodia_ in the
latter periods of Greek literature. Suppose the word _canto_ to be taken
in its literal etymological sense, it would indicate a metrical
composition meant to be sung or chanted. But what constitutes the
complexity of the idea in the word _rhapsodia_ is that both its separate
elements, the poetry and the musical delivery, are equally essential;
neither is a casual, neither a subordinate, element.

Now, the 'Rhapsodoi,' as may be supposed, are the personal correlates of
the _rhapsodia._ This being the poem adapted to chanting, those were the
chanters. And the only important question which we can imagine to arise
is, How far in any given age we may presume the functions of the
poetical composer and the musical deliverer to have been united. We
cannot perceive that any possible relation between a rhapsody considered
as a section of a poem and the whole of that poem, or any possible
relation which this same rhapsody considered as a thing to be sung or
accompanied instrumentally could bear to the naked-speaking rehearsal of
the same poem or to the original text of that poem, ever can affect the
main question of Homer's integrity. The 'Rhapsodoi' come to be mentioned
at all simply as being one link in the transmission of the Homeric
poems. They are found existing before Pisistratus, they are found
existing after Pisistratus. And they declined exactly as the art of
reading became general. We can approximate pretty closely to the time
when the 'Rhapsodoi' ceased; but at what time they began we defy any man
to say. Plato (Rep. x.) represents them as going back into the days of
Homer; nay, according to Plato, Homer himself was a _rhapsodos_, and
itinerated in that character. So was Hesiod. And two remarkable lines,
ascribed to Hesiod by one of the Scholiasts upon Pindar, if we could be
sure that they were genuine, settle that question:

    [Greek: En Delo tote prôton ego xai Homeros aoidoi
    Melpomen, en nearois úmnois rapsantes aoidê.]

'Then, first of all,' says Hesiod, 'did I and Homer chant as bards in
Delos, laying the nexus of our poetic composition in proæmial hymns.' We
understand him to mean this: There were many singers and harpers who
sang or accompanied the words of others; perhaps ancient words--at all
events, not their own. Naturally he was anxious to have it understood
that he and Homer had higher pretensions. They killed their own mutton.
They composed the words as well as sang them. Where both functions were
so often united in one man's person, it became difficult to distinguish
them. Our own word _bard_ or _minstrel_ stood in the same ambiguity. You
could not tell in many cases whether the word pointed to the man's
poetic or musical faculty. Anticipating that doubt, Hesiod says that
they sang as original poets. For it is a remark of Suidas, which he
deduces laboriously, that poetry, being uniformly sung in the elder
Greece, acquired the name of [Greek: aoidê]. This term became
technically appropriated to the poetry, or substance of whatever was
sung, in contradistinction to the musical accompaniment. And the poet
was called [Greek: aoidos] So far Hesiod twice over secures the dignity
of their office from misinterpretation. And there, by the word [Greek:
raphantes] he indicates the sort of poetry which they cultivated, viz.,
that which was expanded into long heroic narratives, and naturally
connected itself both internally amongst its own parts, and externally
with other poems of the same class. Thus, having separated Homer and
himself from the mere musicians, next he separates them even as poets
from those who simply composed hymns to the Gods. These heroic legends
were known to require much more elaborate study and art. Yet, because a
critical reviewer might take occasion to tax his piety in thus composing
human legends in neglect of the Gods, Hesiod, forestalling him, replies:
'You're out there, my friend; we were both pious, and we put our piety
into hymns addressed to the Gods, which, with cabinetmakers' skill, we
used also as interludes of transition from one legend to another.' For
it is noticed frequently and especially by a Scholiast on Aristophanes
(Pac. 826), that generally speaking the _proæmia_ to the different parts
of narrative-poems were entirely detached, [Greek: kai ouden pros to
pragma dêlon], and explain nothing at all that concerns the business.

2.--Mrs. Evans and the 'Gazette.'

In his autobiographic sketch, 'Introduction to the World of Strife,' he
tells of his brother's enterprise in establishing the _Gazette_, which
was to record their doings, and also of Mrs. Evans's place on the
_Gazette_. The following is evidently a passage which was prepared for
that part of the article, but was from some cause or other omitted:

I suppose no creature ever led such a life as I led on the _Gazette_;
sometimes running up, like Wallenstein, to the giddiest pinnacles of
honour, then down again without notice or warning to the dust;
cashiered--rendered incapable of ever serving H. M. again; nay, actually
drummed out of the army, my uniform stripped off, and the 'rogue's
march' played after me. And all for what? I protest, to this hour, I
have no guess. If any person knows, that person is not myself; and the
reader is quite as well able to furnish guesses to me as I to him--to
enlighten _me_ upon the subject as I _him_.

Mrs. Evans was a very important person in the play; I don't suppose that
things could have gone on without _her_. For, as there was no writer in
the _Gazette_ but my brother, so there was no reader of it except Mrs.
Evans. And here came in a shocking annoyance to me that, as often as
any necessity occurred (which was every third day) for restoring me to
my rank, since my brother would not have it supposed that he could be
weak enough to initiate such an indulgence, the _Gazette_ threw the
_onus_ of this amiable weakness, and consequently of my gratitude, upon
Mrs. Evans, affirming that the major-general had received a pardon and
an amnesty for all his past atrocities at the request of 'a
distinguished lady,' who was obscurely indicated in a parenthesis as
'the truly honourable Mrs. Evans.' To listen to the _Gazette_ one would
have supposed that this woman, who so cordially detested me, spent her
whole time in going down on her knees and making earnest supplications
to the throne on my behalf. But what signified the representations of
the _Gazette_ if I knew them to be false? Aye, but I did not know that
they were false. It is true that my obligations to her were quite
aerial, and might, as the reader will think, have been supported without
any preternatural effort. But exactly these aerial burdens, whether of
gratitude or of honour, most oppressed me as being least tangible and
incapable of pecuniary or other satisfaction. No sinking fund could meet
them. And even the dull unimaginative woman herself, eternally held up
to admiration as my resolute benefactress, got the habit (I am sure) of
looking upon me as under nameless obligations to her. This raised my
wrath. It was not that to my feelings the obligations were really a mere
figment of pretence. On the contrary, according to my pains endured,
they towered up to the clouds. But I felt that nobody had any right to
load me with favours that I had never asked for, and without leave even
asked from me; and the more real were the favours, the deeper the wrong
done to me. I sought, therefore, for some means of retaliation. And it
is odd that it was not till thirty years after that I perceived one. It
then struck me that the eternal intercession might have been equally
odious to her. To find herself prostrate for ever, weeping like Niobe,
and, if the _Gazette_ was to be believed, refusing to raise herself from
the mud or the flinty pavement till I had been forgiven, and reinstated
in my rank--ah, how loathsome that must have been to her! Ah, how
loathsome the whole cycle of favours were to me, considering from whom
they came! Then we had effectually plagued each other. And it was not
without loud laughter, as of malice unexpectedly triumphant, that I
found one night thirty years after, on regretting my powerlessness of
vengeance, that, in fact, I had amply triumphed thirty years before. So,
undaunted Mrs. Evans, if you live anywhere within call, listen to the
assurance that all accounts are squared between us, and that we balanced
our mutual debts by mutual disgust; and that, if you plagued me
perversely, I plagued you unconsciously.

And though shot and bullets were forbidden fruit, yet something might be
done with hard wadding. A good deal of classical literature disappeared
in this way, which by one who valued no classics very highly might be
called the way of all flesh. The best of authors, he contended, had
better perish by this warlike consummation than by the inglorious enmity
of bookworms and moths--honeycombed, as most of the books had been which
had gone out to India with our two uncles. Even wadding, however, was
declared to be inadmissible as too dangerous, after wounds had been
inflicted more than once.


De Quincey, in his autobiographic sketch headed 'Laxton,' tells of the
fortune of Miss Watson, who afterwards became Lady Carbery, and also of
the legacy left to her in the form of a lawsuit by her father against
the East India Company; and among his papers we find the following
passage either overlooked or omitted, for some undiscoverable reason,
from that paper, though it has a value in its own way as expressing some
of De Quincey's views on law and equity; and it is sufficiently
characteristic to be included here:

In consequence of her long minority, Miss Watson must have succeeded at
once to six thousand a year on completing her twenty-first year; and she
also inherited a Chancery-suit, which sort of property is _now_ (1853)
rather at a discount in public estimation; but let the reader assure
himself that even the Court of Chancery is not quite so black as it is
painted; that the true ground for the delays and ruinous expenses in
ninety-nine out of one hundred instances is not legal chicanery, still
less the wilful circuitousness and wordiness of law processes, but the
great eternal fact that, what through lapse of time, decays of memory,
and loss of documents, and what through interested suppressions of
truth, and the dispersions of witnesses, and causes by the score
beside, the ultimate truth and equity of human disputes is a matter of
prodigious perplexity; neither is there any possibility that the mass of
litigations as to property ever _can_ be made cheap except in proportion
as it is made dismally imperfect.

No power that ever yet was lodged in senates or in councils _could_
avail, ever _has_ availed, ever _will_ avail, to intercept the
immeasurable expansion of that law which grows out of social expansion.
Fast as the relations of man multiply, and the modifications of property
extend, must the corresponding adaptations of the law run alongside. The
pretended arrests applied to this heaving volcanic system of forces by
codifications, like those of Justinian or Napoleon, had not lasted for a
year before all had broke loose from its moorings, and was again going
ahead with redoubling impetus. Equally delusive are the prospects held
out that the new system of cheap provincial justice will be a change
unconditionally for the better. Already the complaints against it are
such in bitterness and extent as to show that in very many cases it must
be regarded as a failure; and, where it is not, that it must be regarded
as a compromise: once you had 8 degrees of the advantage X, 4 of Y; now
you have 7 of X, 5 of Y.


The following was evidently intended to appear in the article on _War_:

'Most of what has been written on this subject (the cruelty of war), in
connection with the apparently fierce ethics of the Old Testament, is
(with submission to sentimentalists) false and profoundly unphilosophic.
It is of the same feeble character as the flashy modern moralizations
upon War. The true justifications of war lie far below the depths of any
soundings taken upon the charts of effeminate earth-born ethics. And
ethics of God, the Scriptural ethics, search into depths that are older
and less measurable, contemplate interests that are more mysterious and
entangled with perils more awful than merely human philosophy has
resources for appreciating. It is not at all impossible that a crisis
has sometimes arisen for the human race, in which its capital interest
may be said to have ridden at single anchor. Upon the issue of a single
struggle between the powers of light and darkness--upon a motion, a
bias, an impulse given this way or that--all may have been staked. Out
of Judaism came Christianity, and the mere possibility of Christianity.
From elder stages of the Hebrew race, hidden in thick darkness to us,
descended the only pure glimpse allowed to man of God's nature.
Traditionally, but through many generations, and fighting at every
stage with storms or with perils more than ever were revealed to _us_,
this idea of God, this holy seed of truth, like some secret jewel
passing onwards through armies of robbers, made its way downward to an
age in which it became the matrix of Christianity. The solitary acorn
had reached in safety the particular soil in which it was first capable
of expanding into a forest. The narrow, but at the same time austere,
truth of Judaism, furnished the basis which by magic, as it were, burst
suddenly and expanded into a vast superstructure, no longer fitted for
the apprehension of one single unamiable race, but offering shelter and
repose to the whole family of man. These things are most remarkable
about this memorable trans-migration of one faith into another, of an
imperfect into a perfect religion, viz., that the early stage had but a
slight resemblance to the latter, nor could have prefigured it to a
human sagacity more than a larva could prefigure a chrysalis; and,
secondly, that whereas the product, viz., Christianity, never has been
nor will be in any danger of ruin, the germ, viz., the Judaic idea of
God, the great radiation through which the Deity kept open His
communication with man, apparently must more than once have approached
an awful struggle for life. This solitary taper of truth, struggling
across a howling wilderness of darkness, had it been ever totally
extinguished, could probably never have been reillumined. It may seem an
easy thing for a mere human philosophy to recover, and steadily to
maintain a pure Hebrew conception of God; but so far is this from being
true, that we believe it possible to expose in the closest Pagan
approximation to this Hebrew type some adulterous elements such as would
have ensured its relapse into idolatrous impurity.'


We have come upon a passage which is omitted from the 'Confessions,' and
as it is, in every way, characteristic, we shall give it:

My studies have now been long interrupted. I cannot read to myself with
any pleasure, hardly with a moment's endurance. Yet I read aloud
sometimes for the pleasure of others--because reading is an
accomplishment of mine, and, in the slang use of the word
'accomplishment' as a superficial and ornamental attainment, almost the
only one I possess--and, formerly, if I had any vanity at all connected
with any endowment or attainment of mine, it was with this; for I had
observed that no accomplishment was so rare. Players are the worst
readers of all; ---- reads vilely, and Mrs. ----, who is so celebrated,
can read nothing well but dramatic compositions--Milton she cannot read
sufferably. People in general read poetry without any passion at all, or
else overstep the modesty of nature and read not like scholars. Of late,
if I have felt moved by anything in books, it has been by the grand
lamentations of 'Samson Agonistes,' or the great harmonies of the
Satanic speaker in 'Paradise Regained,' when read aloud by myself. A
young lady sometimes comes and drinks tea with us. At her request and
M----'s I now and then read W----'s poems to them. (W----, by-the-bye,
is the only poet I ever met who could read his own verses. Blank verse
he reads admirably.)

This, then, has been the extent of my reading for upwards of sixteen
months. It frets me to enter those rooms of my cottage in which the
books stand. In one of them, to which my little boy has access, he has
found out a use for some of them. Somebody has given him a bow and
arrows--God knows who, certainly not I, for I have not energy or
ingenuity to invent a walking-stick--thus equipped for action, he rears
up the largest of the folios that he can lift, places them on a
tottering base, and then shoots until he brings down the enemy. He often
presses me to join him; and sometimes I consent, and we are both engaged
together in these intellectual labours. We build up a pile, having for
its base some slender modern metaphysician, ill able (poor man!) to
sustain such a weight of philosophy. Upon this we place the Dutch
quartos of Descartes and Spinoza; then a third story of Schoolmen in
folio--the Master of Sentences, Suarez, Picus Mirandula, and the
Telemonian bulk of Thomas Aquinas; and when the whole architecture seems
firm and compact, we finish our system of metaphysics by roofing the
whole with Duval's enormous Aristotle. So far there is some
pleasure--building up is something, but what is that to destroying? Thus
thinks, at least, my little companion, who now, with the wrath of the
Pythian Apollo, assumes his bow and arrows; plants himself in the
remotest corner of the room, and prepares his fatal shafts. The
bow-string twangs, flights of arrows are in the air, but the Dutch
impregnability of the Bergen-op-Zooms at the base receives the few which
reach the mark, and they recoil without mischief done. Again the
baffled archer collects his arrows, and again he takes his station. An
arrow issues forth, and takes effect on a weak side of Thomas. Symptoms
of dissolution appear--the cohesion of the system is loosened--the
Schoolmen begin to totter; the Stagyrite trembles; Philosophy rocks to
its centre; and, before it can be seen whether time will do anything to
heal their wounds, another arrow is planted in the schism of their
ontology; the mighty structure heaves--reels--seems in suspense for one
moment, and then, with one choral crash--to the frantic joy of the young
Sagittary--lies subverted on the floor! Kant and Aristotle, Nominalists
and Realists, Doctors Seraphic or Irrefragable, what cares he? All are
at his feet--the Irrefragable has been confuted by his arrows, the
Seraphic has been found mortal, and the greatest philosopher and the
least differ but according to the brief noise they have made.

For nearly two years I believe that I read no book but one, and I owe it
to the author, Mr. Ricardo, to make grateful record of it.

And then he proceeds:

Suddenly, in 1818, a friend in Edinburgh sent me down Mr. Ricardo's
book, etc.


In the account which De Quincey gives of the highwayman's skeleton,
which figured in the museum of the distinguished surgeon, Mr. White, in
his chapter in the 'Autobiographic Sketches' headed 'The Manchester
Grammar School,' he was evidently restrained from inserting one passage,
which we have found among his papers, from considerations of delicacy
towards persons who might then still be living. But as he has there
plainly given the names of the leading persons concerned--the famous
Surgeon Cruikshank,[41] there can at this time of day be little risk of
offending or hurting anyone by presenting the passage, which the curious
student of the Autobiography can insert at the proper point, and may
feel that its presence adds to the completeness of the impression,
half-humorous, half-_eerie_, which De Quincey was fain to produce by
that somewhat grim episode. Here is the passage:

It was a regular and respectable branch of public industry which was
carried on by the highwaymen of England, and all the parties to it moved
upon decent motives and by considerate methods. In particular, the
robbers themselves, as the leading parties, could not be other than
first-rate men, as regarded courage, animal vigour, and perfect
horsemanship. Starting from any lower standard than this, not only had
they no chance of continued success--their failure was certain as
regarded the contest with the traveller, but also their failure was
equally certain as regarded the competition within their own body. The
candidates for a lucrative section of the road were sure to become
troublesome in proportion as all administration of the business upon
that part of the line was feebly or indiscreetly worked. Hence it arose
that individually the chief highwaymen were sure to command a deep
professional interest amongst the surgeons of the land. Sometimes it
happened that a first-rate robber was arrested and brought to trial, but
from defective evidence escaped. Meanwhile his fine person had been
locally advertised and brought under the notice of the medical body.
This had occurred in a more eminent degree than was usual to the robber
who had owned when living the matchless skeleton possessed by Mr. White.
He had been most extensively surveyed with anatomical eyes by the whole
body of the medical profession in London: their deliberate judgment upon
him was that a more absolutely magnificent figure of a man did not exist
in England than this highwayman, and naturally therefore very high sums
were offered to him as soon as his condemnation was certain. The robber,
whose name I entirely forget, finally closed with the offer of
Cruikshank, who was at that time the most eminent surgeon in London.
Those days, as is well known, were days of great irregularity in all
that concerned the management of prisons and the administration of
criminal justice. Consequently there is no reason for surprise or for
doubt in the statement made by Mr. White, that Cruikshank, whose pupil
Mr. White then was, received some special indulgences from one of the
under-sheriffs beyond what the law would strictly have warranted. The
robber was cut down considerably within the appointed time, was
instantly placed in a chaise-and-four, and was thus brought so
prematurely into the private rooms of Cruikshank, that life was not as
yet entirely extinct. This I heard Mr. White repeatedly assert. He was
himself at that time amongst the pupils of Cruikshank, and three or four
of the most favoured amongst these were present, and to one of them
Cruikshank observed quietly: 'I think the subject is not quite dead;
pray put your knife in (Mr. X. Y.) at this point.' That was done; a
solemn _finis_ was placed to the labours of the robber, and perhaps a
solemn inauguration to the labours of the student. A cast was taken from
the superb figure of the highwayman; he was then dissected, his skeleton
became the property of Cruikshank, and subsequently of Mr. White. We
were all called upon to admire the fine proportions of the man, and of
course in that hollow and unmeaning way which such unlearned expressors
of judgment usually assume, we all obsequiously met the demand levied
upon our admiration. But, for my part, though readily confiding in the
professional judgment of anatomists, I could not but feel that through
my own unassisted judgment I never could have arrived at such a
conclusion. The unlearned eye has gathered no rudimental points to begin
with. Not having what are the normal outlines to which the finest
proportions tend, an eye so untutored cannot of course judge in what
degree the given subject approaches to these.


The following gives a variation on a famous passage in the 'Dream
Fugue,' and it may be interesting to the reader to compare it with that
which the author printed. From these variations it will be seen that De
Quincey often wrote and re-wrote his finest passages, and sometimes, no
doubt, found it hard to choose between the readings:

Thus as we ran like torrents; thus as with bridal rapture our flying
equipage swept over the _campo santo_ of the graves; thus as our burning
wheels carried warrior instincts, kindled earthly passions amongst the
trembling dust below us, suddenly we became aware of a vast necropolis
to which from afar we were hurrying. In a moment our maddening wheels
were nearing it.

'Of purple granite in massive piles was this city of the dead, and yet
for one moment it lay like a visionary purple stain on the horizon, so
mighty was the distance. In the second moment this purple city trembled
through many changes, and grew as by fiery pulsations, so mighty was the
pace. In the third moment already with our dreadful gallop we were
entering its suburbs. Systems of sarcophagi rose with crests aerial of
terraces and turrets into the upper glooms, strode forward with haughty
encroachment upon the central aisle, ran back with mighty shadows into
answering recesses. When the sarcophagi wheeled, then did our horses
wheel. Like rivers in horned floods wheeling in pomp of unfathomable
waters round headlands; like hurricanes that ride into the secrets of
forests, faster than ever light travels through the wilderness of
darkness, we shot the angles, we fled round the curves of the
labyrinthine city. With the storm of our horses' feet, and of our
burning wheels, did we carry earthly passions, kindle warrior instincts
amongst the silent dust around us, dust of our noble fathers that had
slept in God since Creci. Every sarcophagus showed many bas-reliefs,
bas-reliefs of battles, bas-reliefs of battlefields, battles from
forgotten ages, battles from yesterday; battlefields that long since
Nature had healed and reconciled to herself with the sweet oblivion of
flowers; battlefields that were yet angry and crimson with carnage.

And now had we reached the last sarcophagus, already we were abreast of
the last bas-relief; already we were recovering the arrow-like flight of
the central aisle, when coming up it in counterview to ourselves we
beheld the frailest of cars, built as might seem from floral wreaths,
and from the shells of Indian seas. Half concealed were the fawns that
drew it by the floating mists that went before it in pomp. But the mists
hid not the lovely countenance of the infant girl that sate wistful upon
the ear, and hid not the birds of tropic plumage with which she played.
Face to face she rode forward to meet us, and baby laughter in her eyes
saluted the ruin that approached. 'Oh, baby,' I said in anguish, 'must
we that carry tidings of great joy to every people be God's messengers
of ruin to thee?' In horror I rose at the thought. But then also, in
horror at the thought, rose one that was sculptured in the bas-relief--a
dying trumpeter. Solemnly from the field of Waterloo he rose to his
feet, and, unslinging his stony trumpet, carried it in his dying anguish
to his stony lips, sounding once, and yet once again, proclamation that
to _thy_ ears, oh baby, must have spoken from the battlements of death.
Immediately deep shadows fell between us, and shuddering silence. The
choir had ceased to sing; the uproar of our laurelled equipage alarmed
the graves no more. By horror the bas-relief had been unlocked into
life. By horror we that were so full of life--we men, and our horses
with their fiery forelegs rising in mid-air to their everlasting
gallop--were petrified to a bas-relief. Oh, glacial pageantry of death,
that from end to end of the gorgeous cathedral for a moment froze every
eye by contagion of panic. Then for the third time the trumpet sounded.
Back with the shattering burst came the infinite rushing of life. The
seals of frost were raised from our stifling hearts.


Here is another variation on a famous passage in the 'Autobiographic
Sketches,' which will give the reader some further opportunity for

At six years of age, or thereabouts (I write without any memorial
notes), the glory of this earth for me was extinguished. _It is
finished_--not those words but that sentiment--was the misgiving of my
prophetic heart; thought it was that gnawed like a worm, that did not
and that could not die. 'How, child,' a cynic would have said, if he had
deciphered the secret reading of my sighs--'at six years of age, will
you pretend that life has already exhausted its promises? Have you
communicated with the grandeurs of earth? Have you read Milton? Have you
seen Rome? Have you heard Mozart?' No, I had _not_, nor could in those
years have appreciated any one of them if I had; and, therefore,
undoubtedly the crown jewels of our little planet were still waiting for
me in the rear. Milton and Rome and 'Don Giovanni' were yet to come. But
it mattered not what remained when set over against what had been taken
away. _That_ it was which I sought for ever in my blindness. The love
which had existed between myself and my departed sister, _that_, as
even a child could feel, was not a light that could be rekindled. No
voice on earth could say, 'Come again!' to a flower of Paradise like
that. Love, such as that is given but once to any. Exquisite are the
perceptions of childhood, not less so than those of maturest wisdom, in
what touches the capital interests of the heart. And no arguments, nor
any consolations, could have soothed me into a moment's belief, that a
wound so ghastly as mine admitted of healing or palliation.
Consequently, as I stood more alone in the very midst of a domestic
circle than ever Christian traveller in an African Bilidulgerid amidst
the tents of infidels, or the howls of lions, day and night--in the
darkness and at noon-day--I sate, I stood, I lay, moping like an idiot,
craving for what was impossible, and seeking, groping, snatching, at
that which was irretrievable for ever.


[41] [Born 1746, died 1800.--ED.]


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