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Title: The Posthumous Works of Thomas De Quincey, Vol. 2
Author: De Quincey, Thomas, 1785-1859
Language: English
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With Other Essays






All that is needful for me to say by way of Preface is that, as in the
case of the first volume, I have received much aid from Mrs. Baird Smith
and Miss De Quincey, and that Mr. J. R. McIlraith has repeated his
friendly service of reading the proofs.


_March 1st, 1893._


CHAPTER                                                               PAGE

INTRODUCTION                                                             1

I. CONVERSATION AND S. T. COLERIDGE                                      7

II. MR. FINLAY'S HISTORY OF GREECE                                      60

III. THE ASSASSINATION OF CÆSAR                                         91

IV. CICERO (SUPPLEMENTARY TO PUBLISHED ESSAY)                           95

V. MEMORIAL CHRONOLOGY                                                 107


VII. DEFENCE OF THE ENGLISH PEERAGE                                    169

VIII. THE ANTI-PAPAL MOVEMENT                                          174

IX. THEORY AND PRACTICE                                                182

X. POPE AND DIDACTIC POETRY                                            189

XI. SHAKSPEARE AND WORDSWORTH                                          197



XIV. PRONUNCIATION                                                     213




XVIII. THE MESSIANIC IDEA ROMANIZED                                    238


XX. OMITTED PASSAGES AND VARIED READINGS                               244
  1. Dinner                                                            244
  2. Omitted Passages from the Review of Bennett's Ceylon              246
  3. Gillman's Coleridge                                               255
  4. Why Scripture does not Deal with Science ('Pagan Oracles')        257
  5. Variation on a Famous Passage in 'The Daughter of Lebanon'        260



All that needs to be said in the way of introduction to this volume will
best take the form of notes on the articles which it contains.

I. '_Conversation and S. T. Coleridge._' This article, which was found
in a tolerably complete condition, may be regarded as an attempt to deal
with the subject in a more critical and searching, and at the same time
more sympathetic and inclusive spirit, than is apparent in any former
essay. It keeps clear entirely of the field of personal reminiscence;
and if it glances at matters on which dissent must be entered to the
views of Coleridge, it is still unvaryingly friendly and reverent
towards the subject. It is evidently of a later date than either the
'Reminiscences of Coleridge' in the 'Recollections of the Lakes' series,
or the article on 'Coleridge and Opium-Eating,' and may be accepted as
De Quincey's supplementary and final deliverance on Coleridge. The
beautiful apostrophe to the name of Coleridge, which we have given as a
kind of motto to the essay, was found attached to one of the sheets;
and, in spite of much mutilation and mixing of the pages with those of
other articles, as we originally found them, it was for the most part so
clearly written and carefully punctuated, that there can be no doubt,
when put together, we had it before us very much as De Quincey meant to
publish it had he found a fitting chance to do so. For such an article
as this neither _Tait_ nor _Hogg's Instructor_ afforded exactly the
proper medium, but rather some quarterly review, or magazine such as
_Blackwood_. We have given, in an appended note to this essay, some
corroboration from the poems of Coleridge of the truth of De Quincey's
words about the fatal effect on a nature like that of Coleridge of the
early and very sudden death of his father, his separation from his
mother, and his transference to Christ's Hospital, London.

II. _Mr. Finlay's_ '_History of Greece_.' This essay is totally
different, alike in the advances De Quincey makes to the subject, the
points taken up, and the general method of treatment, from the essay on
Mr. Finlay's volumes which appears in the Collected Works. It would seem
as though De Quincey, in such a topic as this, found it utterly
impossible to exhaust the points that had suggested themselves to him on
a careful reading of such a work, in the limits of one article; and
that, in this case, as in some others, he elaborated a second article,
probably with a view to finding a place for it in a different magazine
or review. In this, however, he either did not succeed, or, on his own
principle of the opium-eater never really finishing anything, retreated
from the practical work of pushing his wares with editors even after he
had finished them. At all events, we can find no trace of this article,
or any part of it, having ever been published. The Eastern Roman Empire
was a subject on which he might have written, not merely a couple of
review articles, but a volume, as we are sure anyone competent to judge
will, on carefully reading these articles, at once admit. This essay,
too, was found in a very complete condition, when the various pages had
been brought together and arranged. This is true of all save the last
few pages, which existed more in the form of notes, yet are perfectly
clear and intelligible; the leading thoughts being distinctly put,
though not followed out in any detail, or with the illustration which he
could so easily have given them.

III. '_The Assassination of Cæsar_.' This was clearly meant to be
inserted at the close of the first section of 'The Cæsars,' but was at
the last moment overlooked, though without it the text there, as it
stands in the Collected Works, is, for De Quincey, perhaps too hurried
and business-like.

IV. The little article on '_Cicero_' is evidently meant as a
supplementary note to the article on that eminent man, as it appears in
the Collected Works. Why De Quincey, when preparing these volumes for
the press, did not work it into his text is puzzling, as it develops
happily some points which he has there dwelt on, and presents in a very
effective and compact style the mingled feelings with which the great
Proconsul quitted his office in Cilicia, and his feelings on arriving at

V. _Memorial Chronology._--This is a continuation of that already
published under the same title in the Collected Works. In a note from
the publishers, preceding the portion already given in the sixteenth
volume of the original edition, and the fourteenth of Professor Masson's
edition, it is said: 'This article was written about twenty years ago
[1850], and is printed here for the first time from the author's _MS_.
It was his intention to have continued the subject, but this was never
done.' From the essay we now present it will be seen that this last
statement is only in a modified sense true--the more that the portion
published in the Messrs. Black's editions is, on the whole, merely
introductory, and De Quincey's peculiar _technica memoria_ is not there
even indicated, which it is, with some degree of clearness, in the
following pages, and these may be regarded as presenting at least the
leading outlines of what the whole series would have been.

De Quincey's method, after having fixed a definite accepted point of
departure, was to link the memory of events to a period made signal by
identity of figures. Thus, he finds the fall of Assyria, the first of
the Olympiads, and the building of Rome to date from about the year 777
B.C. That is his starting-point in definite chronology. Then he takes up
the period from 777 to 555; from 555 to 333, and so on.

De Quincey was writing professedly for ladies only, and not for
scholars; and that his acknowledged leading obstacle was the
semi-mythical wilderness of all early oriental history is insisted on
with emphasis. The way in which he triumphs over this obstacle is
certainly characteristic and ingenious. Though the latter part is
fragmentary, it is suggestive; and from the whole a fair conception may
be formed of what the finished work would have been had De Quincey been
able to complete it, and of the eloquence with which he would have
relieved the mere succession of dates and figures.

It is clear that in the original form, though the papers were written
for ladies, the phantasy of a definite 'Charlotte' as fair
correspondent had not suggested itself to him; and that he had recourse
to this only in the final rewriting, and would have applied it to the
whole had he been spared to pursue his plan of recast and revision for
the Collected Works, as it was his intention to have done. Mrs. Baird
Smith remembers very clearly her father's many conversations on this
subject and his leading ideas--it was, in fact, a pet scheme of his; and
it is therefore the more to be regretted that his final revision only
embraced a small portion of the matter which he had already written.

It only needs to be added that, at the time De Quincey wrote,
exploration in Assyria and Egypt, not to speak of discovery in Akkad,
had made but little way compared with what has now been accomplished,
else certain passages in this essay would no doubt have been somewhat

VI. The article entitled '_Chrysomania; or the Gold Frenzy at its
Present Stage_', was evidently written after the two articles which
appeared in _Hogg's Instructor_. Not improbably it was felt that the
readers of _Hogg's Instructor_ had already had enough on the Gold Craze,
and this it was deemed better not to publish; but it has an interest as
supplementing much that De Quincey had said in these papers, and is a
happy illustration of his style in dealing with such subjects. Evidently
the editor of _Hogg's Instructor_ was hardly so attracted by these
papers as by others of De Quincey's; for we find that he had excised
some of the notes.

VII. '_The Defence of the English Peerage_' is printed because, although
it does not pretend to much detail or research, it shows anew De
Quincey's keen interest in the events of English history, and his vivid
appreciation of the peerage as a means of quickening and reviving in
the minds of the people the memorable events with which the earlier
bearers of these ancient titles had been connected.

VIII. The '_Anti-Papal Movement_' may be taken to attest once more De
Quincey's keen interest in all the topics of the day, political, social,
and ecclesiastical.

IX. The section on literature more properly will be interesting to many
as exhibiting some new points of contact with Wordsworth and Southey.

X. The articles on the '_Dispersion of the Jews_,' and on '_Christianity
as the result of a Pre-established Harmony_,' will, we think, be found
interesting by theologians as well as by readers generally, as attesting
not only the keen interest of De Quincey in these and allied subjects,
but also his penetration and keen grasp, and his faculty of felicitous
illustration, by which ever and anon he lights up the driest subjects.


     Oh name of Coleridge, that hast mixed so much with the
     trepidations of our own agitated life, mixed with the
     beatings of our love, our gratitude, our trembling hope;
     name destined to move so much of reverential sympathy and so
     much of ennobling strife in the generations yet to come, of
     our England at home, of our other Englands on the St.
     Lawrence, on the Mississippi, on the Indus and Ganges, and
     on the pastoral solitudes of Austral climes!

What are the great leading vices of conversation as generally
managed?--vices that are banished from the best society by the
legislation of manners, not by any intellectual legislation, but in
other forms of society, and exactly as it approaches to the character of
vulgarism, disturbing all approaches to elegance in conversation, and
disorganizing it as a thing capable of unity or of progress? These vices
are, first, disputation; secondly, garrulity; thirdly, the spirit of

I. I lay it down as a rule, but still reserving their peculiar rights
and exceptions to young Scotchmen for whom daily disputing is a sort of
daily bread, that the man who disputes is a monster, and that he ought
to be expelled from civilized society. Or could not a compromise be
effected for disputatious people, by allowing a private disputing room
in all hotels, as they have private rooms for smoking? I have heard of
two Englishmen, gentlemanly persons, but having a constitutional _furor_
for boxing, who quieted their fighting instincts in this way. It was
not glory which they desired, but mutual punishment, given and taken
with a hearty goodwill. Yet, as their feelings of refinement revolted
from making themselves into a spectacle of partisanship for the public
to bet on, they retired into a ball-room, and locked the doors, so that
nothing could transpire of the campaigns within except from the
desperate rallies and floorings which were heard, or from the bloody
faces which were seen on their issuing. A limited admission, it was
fancied, might have been allowed to select friends; but the courteous
refusal of both parties was always 'No; the pounding was strictly
confidential.' Now, pray, gentlemen disputers, could you not make your
pounding 'strictly confidential'? My chief reasons for doing so I will

1. That disputing is in bad tone; it is vulgar, and essentially the
resource of uncultured people.

2. It argues want of intellectual power, or, in any case, want of
intellectual development. It is because men find it easier to talk by
disputing than by _not_ disputing that so many people resort to this
coarse expedient for calling the wind into the sails of conversation. To
move along in the key of contradiction is the cheapest of all devices
for purchasing a power that is not your own. You are then carried along
by a towing-line attached to another vessel. There is no free power.
Always your antagonist predetermines the course of your own movement;
and you his. What _he_ says, you unsay. He affirms, you deny. He knits,
you unknit. Always you are servile to _him_; and he to _you_. Yet even
that system of motion in reverse of another motion, of mere antistrophe
or dancing backward what the strophe had danced forward, is better after
all, you say, than standing stock still. For instance, it might have
been tedious enough to hear Mr. Cruger disputing every proposition that
Burke advanced on the Bristol hustings; yet even _that_ some people
would prefer to Cruger's single observation, viz., 'I say _ditto_ to Mr.
Burke.' Every man to his taste: I, for one, should have preferred Mr.
Cruger's _ditto_.[1] But why need we have a _ditto_, a simple _affirmo_,
because we have _not_ an eternal _nego_? The proper spirit of
conversation moves in the general key of assent, but still not therefore
of mere iteration, but still each bar of the music is different. Nature
surely does not repeat herself, yet neither does she maintain the
eternal variety of her laughing beauty by constantly contradicting
herself, and quite as little by monotonously repeating herself. Her
samenesses are differences.

II. Of the evils of garrulity, which, like the ceaseless droppings
of water, will eat into the toughest rock of patience and
self-satisfaction, I have spoken at considerable length elsewhere. Its
evils are so evident that they hardly call for further illustration. The
garrulous man, paradoxical as it may seem to say it, is a kind of
pickpocket without intending to steal anything--nay, rather he is fain
to please you by placing something in your pocket--though too often it
is like the egg of the cuckoo in the nest of another bird.

III. Now, as to _Interruption_, what's to be done? It is a question that
I have often considered. For the evil is great, and the remedy occult. I
look upon a man that interrupts another in conversation as a monster
far less excusable than a cannibal; yet cannibals (though,
comparatively with _interrupters_, valuable members of society) are
rare, and, even where they are _not_ rare, they don't practise as
cannibals every day: it is but on sentimental occasions that the
exhibition of cannibalism becomes general. But the monsters who
interrupt men in the middle of a sentence are to be found everywhere;
and they are always practising. Red-letter days or black-letter days,
festival or fast, makes no difference to _them_. This enormous nuisance
I feel the more, because it is one which I never retaliate. Interrupted
in every sentence, I still practise the American Indian's politeness of
never interrupting. What, absolutely _never_? Is there _no_ case in
which I should? If a man's nose, or ear, as sometimes happens in high
latitudes, were suddenly and visibly frost-bitten, so as instantly to
require being rubbed with snow, I conceive it lawful to interrupt that
man in the most pathetic sentence, or even to ruin a whole paragraph of
his prose. You can never indeed give him back the rhetoric which you
have undermined; _that_ is true; but neither could he, in the
alternative case, have given back to himself the nose which you have

I contend also, against a great casuist in this matter, that had you
been a friend of Æschylus, and distinctly observed that absurd old
purblind eagle that mistook (or pretended to mistake) the great poet's
bald head--that head which created the Prometheus and the Agamemnon--for
a white tablet of rock, and had you interrupted the poet in his talk at
the very moment when the bird was dropping a lobster on the sacred
cranium, with the view of unshelling the lobster, but unaware that at
the same time he was unshelling a great poet's brain, you would have
been fully justified. An impertinence it would certainly have been to
interrupt a sentence as undeniable in its Greek as any which that
gentleman can be supposed to have turned out, but still the eagle's
impertinence was greater.[2] That would have been your excuse. Æschylus,
or my friend the casuist, is not to be listened to in his very learned
arguments _contra_.

Short of these cases, nothing can justify an interruption; and such
cases surely cannot be common, since how often can we suppose it to
happen that an eagle has a lobster to break just at the moment when a
tragic poet is walking abroad without his hat? What the reader's
experience may have been, of course, is unknown to me; but, for my own
part, I hardly meet with such a case twice in ten years, though I know
an extensive circle of tragic poets, and a reasonable number of bald
heads; eagles certainly not so many--they are but few on my visiting
list; and indeed, if that's their way of going on--cracking literary
skulls without leave asked or warning given--the fewer one knows the
better. If, then, a long life hardly breeds a case in which it is
strictly lawful to interrupt a co-dialogist, what are we to think of
those who move in conversation by the very principle of interruption?
And a variety of the nuisance there is, which I consider equally bad.
Men, that do not absolutely interrupt you, are yet continually _on the
fret_ to do so, and undisguisedly on the fret all the time you are
speaking. To invent a Latin word which ought to have been invented
before my time, 'non interrumpunt at _interrupturiunt_.' You can't talk
in peace for such people; and as to prosing, which I suppose you've a
right to do by _Magna Charta_, it is quite out of the question when a
man is looking in your face all the time with a cruel expression in his
eye amounting to 'Surely, that's enough!' or a pathetic expression which
says, '_Have_ you done?' throwing a dreadful reproach into the _Have_.
In Cumberland, at a farmhouse where I once had lodgings for a week or
two, a huge dog as high as the dining-table used to plant himself in a
position to watch all my motions at dinner. Being alone, and either
reading or thinking, at first I did not observe him; but as soon as I
did, and noticed that he pursued each rising and descent of my fork as
the poet 'with wistful eyes pursues the setting sun,' that unconsciously
he mimicked and rehearsed all the notes and _appoggiaturas_ that make up
the successive bars in the music of eating one's dinner, I was compelled
to rise, and say, 'My good fellow, I can't stand this; will you do me
the favour to accept anything on my plate at this moment? And to-morrow
I'll endeavour to arrange for your being otherwise employed at this hour
than in watching _me_.' It seems a weakness, but I really cannot eat
anything under the oppression of an envious _surveillance_ like that
dog's. A man said to me, 'Oh, what need you care about _him_? He has had
_his_ dinner long ago.' True, at twelve or one o'clock; but at six he
might want another; but, if he thinks so himself, the result is the
same. And that result is what the whole South of Frankistan[3] calls the
_evil eye_. Wanting dinner, when he sees another person in the very act
of dining, the dog (though otherwise an excellent creature) must be
filled with envy; and envy is so contagiously allied to malice, that in
elder English one word expresses both those dark modifications of
hatred. The dog's eye therefore, without any consciousness on his own
part, becomes in such a case _an evil eye_: upon me, at least, it fell
with as painful an effect as any established eye of that class could do
upon the most superstitious Portuguese.

Now, such exactly is the eye of any man that, without actually
interrupting one, threatens by his impatient manner as often as one
begins to speak. It has a blighting effect upon one's spirits. And the
only resource is to say frankly (as I said to the dog), 'Would you
oblige me, sir, by taking the whole of the talk into your own hands? Do
not for ever threaten to do so, but at once boldly lay an interdict upon
any other person's speaking.'

To those who suffer from nervous irritability, the man that suspends
over our heads his _threat_ of interruption by constant impatience, is
even a more awful person to face than the actual interrupter. Either of
them is insufferable; and in cases where the tone of prevailing manners
is not vigorous enough to put such people down, or where the individual
monster, being not _couchant_ or _passant_, but (heraldically speaking)
_rampant_, utterly disregards all restraints that are not enforced by a
constable, the question comes back with greater force than ever, which I
stated at the beginning of this article, 'What's to be done?'

I really cannot imagine. Despair seizes me 'with her icy fangs,' unless
the reader can suggest something; or unless he can improve on a plan of
my own sketching.

As a talker for effect, as a _bravura_ artist in conversation, no one
has surpassed Coleridge. There is a Spanish proverb, that he who has not
seen Seville, has seen nothing. And I grieve to inform the present
unfortunate generation, born under an evil star, coming, in fact, into
the world a day after the fair, that, not having heard Coleridge, they
have _heard_--pretty much what the strangers to Seville have _seen_,
which (you hear from the Spaniards) amounts to nothing. _Nothing_ is
hardly a thing to be proud of, and yet it has its humble advantages. To
have heard Coleridge was a thing to remember with pride as a trophy, but
with pain as a trophy won by some personal sacrifice. To have heard
Coleridge has now indeed become so great a distinction, that if it were
transferable, and a man could sell it by auction, the biddings for it
would run up as fast as for a genuine autograph of Shakespeare. The
story is current under a thousand forms of the man who piqued himself on
an interview which he had once enjoyed with royalty; and, being asked
what he could repeat to the company of his gracious Majesty's remarks,
being an honest fellow he confessed candidly that the King, happening to
be pressed for time, had confined himself to saying, 'Dog, stand out of
my horse's way'; and many persons that might appear as claimants to the
honour of having conversed with Coleridge could perhaps report little
more of personal communication than a courteous request from the great
man not to interrupt him. Inevitably, however, from this character of
the Coleridgean conversation arose certain consequences, which are too
much overlooked by those who bring it forward as a model or as a
splendid variety in the proper art of conversation. And speaking myself
as personally a witness to the unfavourable impression left by these
consequences, I shall not scruple in this place to report them with

At the same time, having been heretofore publicly misrepresented and
possibly because misunderstood as to the temper in which I spoke of
Coleridge, and as though I had violated some duty of friendship in
uttering a truth not flattering after his death, I wish so far to
explain the terms on which we stood as to prevent any similar
misconstruction. It would be impossible in any case for me to attempt a
Plinian panegyric, or a French _éloge_. Not that I think such forms of
composition false, any more than an advocate's speech, or a political
partisan's: it is understood from the beginning that they are one-sided;
but still true according to the possibilities of truth when caught from
an angular and not a central station. There is even a pleasure as from a
gorgeous display, and a use as from a fulness of unity, in reading a
grand or even pompous laudatory oration upon a man like Leibnitz, or
Newton, which neglects all his errors or blemishes. This abstracting
view I could myself adopt as to a man whom I had learned to know from
books, but not as to one whom I knew also from personal intercourse. His
faults and his greatness are then too much intertwisted. There is still
something unreal in the knowledge of men through books; with which is
compatible a greater flexibility of estimate. But the absolute realities
of life acting upon any mind of deep sincerity do not leave the same
liberty of suppression or concealment. In that case, the reader may
perhaps say, and wherever the relations of the writer to a deceased man
prescribe many restraints of tenderness or delicacy, would it not be
better to forbear speaking at all? Certainly; and I go on therefore to
say that my own relations to Coleridge were not of that nature. I had
the greatest admiration for his intellectual powers, which in one
direction I thought and think absolutely unrivalled on earth; I had also
that sort of love for him which arises naturally as a rebound from
intense admiration, even where there is little of social congeniality.
But, in any stricter sense of the word, _friends_ we were not. For years
we met at intervals in society; never once estranged by any the
slightest shadow of a quarrel or a coolness. But there were reasons,
arising out of original differences in our dispositions and habits,
which would probably have forever prevented us, certainly _did_ prevent
us, from being confidential friends. Yet, if we had been such, even the
more for that reason the sincerity of my nature would oblige me to speak
freely if I spoke at all of anything which I might regard as amongst his
errors. For the perfection of genial homage, one may say, in the
expression of Petronius Arbiter, _Præcipitandus est liber spiritus_, the
freedom of the human spirit must be thrown headlong through the whole
realities of the subject, without picking or choosing, without garbling
or disguising. It yet remains as a work of the highest interest, to
estimate (but for that to display) Coleridge in his character of great
philosophic thinker, in which character he united perfections that never
_were_ united but in three persons on this earth, in himself, in Plato
(as many suppose), and in Schelling, viz., the utmost expansion and in
some paths the utmost depths of the searching intellect with the utmost
sensibility to the powers and purposes of Art: whilst, as a creator in
Art, he had pretensions which neither Plato nor Schelling could make.
His powers as a Psychologist (not as a Metaphysician) seem to me
absolutely unrivalled on earth. And had his health been better, so as
to have sustained the natural cheerfulness towards which his nature
tended, had his pecuniary embarrassments been even moderately lightened
in their pressure, and had his studies been more systematically directed
to one end--my conviction is that he would have left a greater
philosophic monument of his magnificent mind than Aristotle, or Lord
Bacon, or Leibnitz.

With these feelings as to the pretensions of Coleridge, I am not likely
to underrate anything which he did. But a thing may be very difficult to
do, very splendid when done, and yet false in its principles, useless in
its results, memorable perhaps by its impression at the time, and yet
painful on the whole to a thoughtful retrospect. In dancing it is but
too common that an intricate _pas seul_, in funambulism that a dangerous
feat of equilibration, in the Grecian art of _desultory_ equitation
(where a single rider governs a plurality of horses by passing from one
to another) that the flying contest with difficulty and peril, may
challenge an anxiety of interest, may bid defiance to the possibility of
inattention, and yet, after all, leave the jaded spectator under a sense
of distressing tension given to his faculties. The sympathy is with the
difficulties attached to the effort and the display, rather than with
any intellectual sense of power and skill genially unfolded under
natural excitements. It would be idle to cite Madame de Staël's remark
on one of these meteoric exhibitions, viz., that Mr. Coleridge possessed
the art of monologue in perfection, but not that of the dialogue; yet it
comes near to hitting the truth from her point of view. The habit of
monologue which Coleridge favoured lies open to three fatal objections:
1. It is antisocial in a case expressly meant by its final cause for the
triumph of sociality; 2. It refuses all homage to women on an arena
expressly dedicated to their predominance; 3. It is essentially fertile
in _des longueurs_. Could there be imagined a trinity of treasons
against the true tone of social intercourse more appalling to a Parisian

In a case such as this, where Coleridge was the performer, I myself
enter less profoundly into the brilliant woman's horror, for the reason
that, having originally a necessity almost morbid for the intellectual
pleasures that depend on solitude, I am constitutionally more careless
about the luxuries of conversation. I see them; like them in the rare
cases where they flourish, but do not require them. Not sympathizing,
therefore, with the lady's horror in its intensity, I yet find my
judgment in harmony with hers. The evils of Coleridgean talk, even
managed by a Coleridge, were there, and they fixed themselves
continually on my observation:

I. It defeats the very end of social meetings. Without the excitement
from a reasonable number of auditors, and some novelty in the
composition of his audience, Coleridge was hardly able to talk his best.
Now, at the end of some hours, it struck secretly on the good sense of
the company. Was it reasonable to have assembled six, ten, or a dozen
persons for the purpose of hearing a prelection? Would not the time have
been turned to more account, even as regarded the object which they had
substituted for _social_ pleasure, in studying one of Coleridge's
printed works?--since there his words were stationary and not flying, so
that notes might be taken down, and questions proposed by way of letter,
on any impenetrable difficulties; whereas in a stream of oral teaching,
which ran like the stream of destiny, impassive to all attempts at
interruption, difficulties for ever arose to irritate your nervous
system at the moment, and to vex you permanently by the recollection
that they had prompted a dozen questions, every one of which you had
forgotten through the necessity of continuing to run alongside with the
speaker, and through the impossibility of saying, 'Halt, Mr. Coleridge!
Pull up, I beseech you, if it were but for two minutes, that I may try
to fathom that last sentence.' This in all conversation is one great
evil, viz., the substitution of an alien purpose for the natural and
appropriate purpose. Not to be intellectual in a direct shape, but to be
intellectual through sociality, is the legitimate object of a social
meeting. It may be right, medically speaking, that a man should be
shampooed; but it cannot be right that, having asked him to dine, you
should decline dinner and substitute a shampooing. This a man would be
apt to call by the shorter name of a _sham_.

II. It diminishes the power of the talking performer himself. Seeming to
have more, the man has less. For a man is never thrown upon his mettle,
nor are his true resources made known even to himself, until to some
extent he finds himself resisted (or at least modified) by the reaction
of those around him. That day, says Homer, robs a man of half his value
which sees him made a slave. But to be an autocrat is as perilous as to
be a slave. And supposing Homer to have been introduced to Coleridge
(a supposition which a learned man at my elbow pronounces
intolerable--'It's an anachronism, sir, a base anachronism!' Well, but
one may _suppose_ anything, however base), Homer would have observed to
me, as we came away from the _soirée_, 'In my opinion, our splendid
friend S. T. C. would have been the better for a few kicks on the
shins. That day takes away half of a man's talking value which raises
him into an irresponsible dictator to his company.'

III. It diminishes a man's power in another way less obvious, but not
less certain. I had often occasion to remark how injurious it was to the
impression of Coleridge's finest displays where the minds of the hearers
had been long detained in a state of passiveness. To understand fully,
to sympathise deeply, it was essential that they should react. Absolute
inertia produced inevitable torpor. I am not supposing any indocility,
or unwillingness to listen. Generally it might be said that merely to
find themselves in that presence argued sufficiently in the hearers a
cheerful dedication of themselves to a dutiful patience.

The mistake, in short, is to suppose that the particular power of talk
Coleridge had was a _nuance_ or modification of what is meant by
conversational power; whereas it was the direct antithesis: it differed
diametrically. So much as he had of his own peculiar power, so much more
alien and remote was he from colloquial power. This remark should be
introduced by observing that Madame de Staël's obvious criticism passes
too little unvalued or unsearched either by herself or others. She
fancied it an accidental inclination or a caprice, or a sort of
self-will or discourtesy or inattention. No; it was a faculty in polar
opposition to the true faculty of conversation.

Coleridge was copious, and not without great right, upon the subject of
Art. It is a subject upon which we personally are very impatient, and
(as Mrs. Quickly expresses it) peevish, as peevish as Rugby in his
prayers.[4] Is this because we know too much about Art? Oh, Lord bless
you, no! We know too little about it by far, and our wish is--to know
more. But _that_ is difficult; so many are the teachers, who by accident
had never any time to learn; so general is the dogmatism; and, worse
than all, so inveterate is the hypocrisy, wherever the graces of liberal
habits and association are supposed to be dependent upon a particular
mode of knowledge. To know nothing of theology or medicine has a sort of
credit about it; so far at least it is clear that you are not
professional, and to that extent the chances are narrowed that you get
your bread out of the public pocket. To be sure, it is still possible
that you may be a stay-maker, or a rat-catcher. But these are
out-of-the-way vocations, and nobody adverts to such narrow
possibilities. Now, on the other hand, to be a connoisseur in painting
or in sculpture, supposing always that you are no practising artist, in
other words, supposing that you know nothing about the subject, implies
that you must live amongst _comme-il-faut_ people who possess pictures
and casts to look at; else how the deuce could you have got your
knowledge--or, by the way, your ignorance, which answers just as well
amongst those who are not peevish. We, however, _are_ so, as we have
said already. And what made us peevish, in spite of strong original
_stamina_ for illimitable indulgence to all predestined bores and
nuisances in the way of conversation, was--not the ignorance, not the
nonsense, not the contradictoriness of opinion--no! but the false,
hypocritical enthusiasm about objects for which in reality they cared
not the fraction of a straw. To hear these bores talk of educating the
people to an acquaintance with what they call 'high art'! Ah, heavens,
mercifully grant that the earth may gape for us before _our_ name is
placed on any such committee! 'High art,' indeed! First of all, most
excellent bores, would you please to educate the people into the high
and mysterious art of boiling potatoes. We, though really owning no
particular duty or moral obligation of boiling potatoes, really _can_
boil them very decently in any case arising of public necessity for our
services; and if the art should perish amongst men, which seems likely
enough, so long as _we_ live, the public may rely upon it being
restored. But as to women, as to the wives of poor hard-working men, not
one in fifty can boil a potato into a condition that is not ruinous to
the digestion. And we have reason to know that the Chartists, on their
great meditated outbreak, having hired a six-pounder from a pawnbroker,
meant to give the signal for insurrection at dinner-time, because (as
they truly observed) cannon-balls, hard and hot, would then be plentiful
on every table. God sends potatoes, we all know; but _who_ it is that
sends the boilers of potatoes, out of civility to the female sex, we
decline to say.

Well, but this (you say) is a digression. Why, true; and a digression is
often the cream of an article. However, as you dislike it, let us
_re_gress as fast as possible, and scuttle back from the occult art of
boiling potatoes to the much more familiar one of painting in oil. Did
Coleridge really understand this art? Was he a sciolist, was he a
pretender, or did he really judge of it from a station of
heaven-inspired knowledge? A hypocrite Coleridge never was upon any
subject; he never affected to know when secretly he felt himself
ignorant. And yet, of the topics on which he was wont eloquently to hold
forth, there was none on which he was less satisfactory--none on which
he was more acute, yet none on which he was more prone to excite
contradiction and irritation, if that had been allowed.

Here, for example, is a passage from one of his lectures on art:

'It is sufficient that philosophically we understand that in all
imitations two elements must coexist, and not only coexist, but must be
perceived as existing. Those two constituent elements are likeness and
unlikeness, or sameness and difference, and in all genuine creations of
art there must be a union of these disparates. The artist may take this
point of view where he pleases, provided that the desired effect be
perceptibly produced, that there be likeness in the difference,
difference in the likeness, and a reconcilement of both in one. If there
be likeness to nature without any check of difference, the result is
disgusting, and the more complete the delusion the more loathsome the
effect. Why are such simulations of nature as wax-work figures of men
and women so disagreeable? Because, not finding the motion and the life
all we expected, we are shocked as by a falsehood, every circumstance of
detail, which before induced you to be interested, making the distance
from truth more palpable. You set out with a supposed reality, and are
disappointed and disgusted with the deception; whilst in respect to a
work of genuine imitation you begin with an acknowledged total
difference, and then every touch of nature gives you the pleasure of an
approximation to truth.'

In this exposition there must be some oversight on the part of
Coleridge. He tells us in the beginning that, if there be 'likeness to
nature without any check of difference, the result is disgusting.' But
the case of the wax-work, which is meant to illustrate this proposition,
does not at all conform to the conditions; the result is disgusting
certainly, but not from any want of difference to control the sameness,
for, on the contrary, the difference is confessedly too revolting; and
apparently the distinction between the two cases described is simply
this--that in the illegitimate case of the wax-work the likeness comes
first and the unlikeness last, whereas in the other case this order is
reversed. But that distinction will neither account _in fact_ for the
difference of effect; nor, if it _did_, would it account upon any reason
or ground suggested by Coleridge for such a difference. Let us consider
this case of wax-work a little more vigilantly, and then perhaps we may
find out both why it is that some men unaffectedly _are_ disgusted by
wax-work; and secondly, why it is that, if trained on just principles of
reflective taste, all men _would_ be so affected.

As a matter not altogether without importance, we may note that even the
frailty of the material operates to some extent in disgusting us with
wax-work. A higher temperature of the atmosphere, it strikes us too
forcibly, would dispose the waxen figures to melt; and in colder seasons
the horny fist of a jolly boatswain would 'pun[5] them into shivers'
like so many ship-biscuits. The grandeur of permanence and durability
transfers itself or its expression from the material to the impression
of the artifice which moulds it, and crystallizes itself in the effect.
We see continually very ingenious imitations of objects cut out in paper
filigree; there have been people who showed as much of an artist's eye
in this sort of work, and of an artist's hand, as Miss Linwood of the
last generation in her exquisite needlework; in both cases a trick, a
_tour-de-main_, was raised into the dignity of a fine art; and yet,
because the slightness of the material too emphatically proclaims the
essential perishableness of the result, nobody views such modes of art
with more even of a momentary interest than the morning wreaths of smoke
ascending so beautifully from a cottage chimney, or cares much to
preserve them. The traceries of hoar frost upon the windows of inhabited
rooms are not only beautiful in the highest degree, but have been shown
in several French memoirs to obey laws of transcendental geometry, and
also to obey physical laws of startling intricacy. These lovely forms of
almighty nature wear the grandeur of mystery, of floral beauty, and of
science (immanent science) not always fathomable.[6] They are anything
but capricious. Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like _them_;
and yet, simply because the sad hand of mortality is upon them, because
they are dedicated to death, because on genial days they will have
passed into the oblivion of graves before the morning sun has mounted to
his meridian, we do not so much as honour them with a transient stare
from the breakfast-table. Ah, wretches that we are, the horrid
carnalities of tea and toast, or else the horrid bestialities in morning
journals of Chartists and Cobdenites at home, of Red Ruffians abroad,
draw off our attention from the chonchoids and the cycloids pencilled by
the Eternal Geometrician! and these celestial traceries of the dawn,
which neither Da Vinci nor Raphaello was able to have followed as a
mimic, far less as a rival, we regard as a nuisance claiming the
attentions of the window-cleaner; even as the spider's web, that might
absorb an angel into reverie, is honoured amongst the things banned by
the housemaid. But _the_ reason why the wax-work disgusts is that it
seeks to reproduce in literal detail the traits that should be softened
under a general diffusive impression; the likeness to nature is
presented in what is essentially fleeting and subsidiary, and the 'check
of difference' is found also in this very literality, and not in any
effort of the etherealizing imagination, as it is in all true works of
art; so that the case really stands the exact opposite of that which
Coleridge had given in his definition.[7]

To pass from art to style. How loose and arbitrary Coleridge not
infrequently was in face of the laws on that subject which he had
himself repeatedly laid down! Could it be believed of a man so quick to
feel, so rapid to arrest all phenomena, that in a matter so important as
that of style, he should have nothing loftier to record of his own
merits, services, reformations, or cautions, than that he has always
conscientiously forborne to use the personal genitive _whose_ in
speaking of inanimate things? For example, that he did not say, and
could not have been tempted or tortured into saying, 'The bridge _whose_
piers could not much longer resist the flood.' Well, as they say in
Scotland, some people are thankful for small mercies. We--that is, you,
the reader, and ourselves--are _persons_; the bridge, you see, is but a
_thing_. We pity it, poor thing, and, as far as it is possible to
entertain such a sentiment for a bridge, we feel respect for it. Few
bridges are thoroughly contemptible; and we make a point, in obedience
to an old-world proverb, always to speak well of the bridge that has
carried us over in safety, which the worst of bridges never yet has
refused to do. But still there _are_ such things as social distinctions;
and we conceive that a man and a 'contributor' (an _ancient_ contributor
to _Blackwood_), must in the herald's college be allowed a permanent
precedency before all bridges whatsoever, without regard to number of
arches, width of span, or any other frivolous pretences. We acknowledge
therefore with gratitude Coleridge's loyalty to his own species in not
listening to any compromise with mere things, that never were nor will
be raised to the peerage of personality, and sternly refusing them the
verbal honours which are sacred to us humans. But what is the principle
of taste upon which Coleridge justifies this rigorous practice? It
is--and we think it a very just principle--that this mechanic mode of
giving life to things inanimate ranks 'amongst those worst mimicries of
poetic diction by which imbecile writers fancy they elevate their
prose.' True; but the same spurious artifices for giving a fantastic
elevation to prose reappear in a thousand other forms, from some of
which neither Coleridge nor his accomplished daughter is absolutely
free. For instance, one of the commonest abuses of pure English amongst
our Scottish brethren, unless where they have been educated out of
Scotland, is to use _aught_ for _anything_, _ere_ for _before_,
_well-nigh_ for _almost_, and scores besides. No home-bred, _i.e._
Cockney Scotchman, is aware that these are poetic forms, and are as
ludicrously stilted in any ear trained by the daily habits of good
society to the appreciation of pure English--as if, in Spenserian
phrase, he should say, '_What time_ I came home to breakfast,' instead
of '_When_ I came home.' The _'tis_ and _'twas_, which have been
superannuated for a century in England, except in poetic forms, still
linger in Scotland and in Ireland, and these forms also at intervals
look out from Coleridge's prose. Coleridge is also guilty at odd times
(as is Wordsworth) of that most horrible affectation, the _hath_ and
_doth_ for _has_ and _does_. This is really criminal. But amongst all
barbarisms known to man, the very worst--and this also, we are sorry to
say, flourishes as rankly as weeds in Scotch prose, and is to be found
in Coleridge's writings--is the use of the _thereof_, _therein_,
_thereby_, _thereunto_. This monstrous expression of imperfect
civilization, which for one hundred and fifty years has been cashiered
by cultivated Englishmen as _attorneys' English_, and is absolutely
frightful unless in a lease or conveyance, ought (we do not scruple to
say) to be made indictable at common law, not perhaps as a felony, but
certainly as a misdemeanour, punishable by fine and imprisonment.

In nothing is the characteristic mode of Coleridge's mind to be seen
more strikingly than in his treatment of some branches of dramatic
literature, though to that subject he had devoted the closest study. He
was almost as distinguished, indeed, for the points he missed as for
those he saw. Look at his position as regards some questions concerning
the French drama and its critics, more particularly the views of
Voltaire, though some explanation may be found in the fact, which I have
noticed elsewhere, that Coleridge's acquaintance with the French
language was not such as to enable him to read it with the easy
familiarity which ensures complete pleasure. But something may also be
due to his deep and absorbed religious feeling, which seemed to
incapacitate him from perceiving the points where Voltaire, despite his
scepticism, had planted his feet on firm ground. Coleridge was aware
that Voltaire, in common with every Frenchman until the present
generation, held it as a point of faith that the French drama was
inapproachable in excellence. From Lessing, and chiefly, from his
_Dramaturgie_, Coleridge was also aware, on the other hand, upon what
erroneous grounds that imaginary pre-eminence was built. He knew that it
was a total misconception of the Greek unities (excepting only as
regards the unity of fable, or, as Coleridge otherwise calls it, the
_unity of interest_) which had misled the French. It was a huge blunder.
The case was this: Peculiar embarrassments had arisen to the Athenian
dramatists as to time and place, from the chorus--out of which chorus
had grown the whole drama. The chorus, composed generally of men or
women, could not be moved from Susa to Memphis or from one year to
another, as might the spectator. This was a fetter, but, with the
address of great artists, they had turned their fetters into occasions
of ornament. But, in this act of beautifying their narrow field, they
had done nothing to enlarge it. They had submitted gracefully to what,
for _them_, was a religious necessity. But it was ridiculous that modern
dramatists, under no such necessity (because clogged with no inheritance
of a personal chorus), should voluntarily assume fetters which, having
no ceremonial and hallowed call for a chorus, could have no meaning. So
far Coleridge was kept right by his own sagacity and by his German
guides; but a very trifle of further communication with Voltaire, and
with the writers of whom Voltaire was speaking, would have introduced
him to two facts calculated a little to raise Voltaire in his esteem,
and very much to lower the only French writer (viz., Racine) whom he
ever thought fit to praise. With regard to Voltaire himself he would
have found that, so far from exalting the French poetic literature
_generally_ in proportion to that monstrous pre-eminence which he had
claimed for the French drama, on the contrary, from this very drama,
from the very pre-eminence, he drew an argument for the general
inferiority of the French poetry. The French drama, he argued, was
confessedly exalted amongst the French themselves beyond any other
section of their literature. But why? Why was this? If the drama had
prospered disproportionately under public favour, what caused that
favour? It was, said Voltaire, the social nature of the French, with
their consequent interest in whatever assumed the attire of conversation
or dialogue; and, secondly, it was the peculiar strength of their
language in that one function, which had been nursed and ripened by
this preponderance of social habits. Hence it happened that the drama
obtained at one and the same time a greater _interest_ for the French,
and also (by means of this culture given to conversational forms) most
unhappily for his lordship's critical discernment of flavours, as well
as his Greek literature, happens to be a respectable Joe Miller from the
era of Hierocles, and through _him_ probably it came down from
Pythagoras. Yet still Voltaire was very far indeed from being a
'scribbler.' He had the graceful levity and the graceful gaiety of his
nation in an exalted degree. He had a vast compass of miscellaneous
knowledge; pity that it was so disjointed, _arena sine calce_; pity that
you could never rely on its accuracy; and, as respected his epic poetry,
'tis true 'tis pity, and pity 'tis 'tis true, that you are rather
disposed to laugh than to cry when Voltaire solemnly proposes to be
sublime. His _Henriade_ originally appeared in London about 1726, when
the poet was visiting this country as a fugitive before the wrath of
Louis the Well-beloved; and naturally in the opening passage he
determined to astonish the weak minds of us islanders by a flourish on
the tight-rope of sublimity. But to his vexation a native Greek (viz., a
Smyrniot), then by accident in London, called upon him immediately after
the publication, and, laying his finger on a line in the exordium (as it
then stood), said, 'Sare, I am one countryman of Homer's. He write de
Iliad; you write de Henriade; but Homer vos never able in all de total
whole of de Iliad to write de verse like dis.' Upon which the Greek
showed him a certain line.

Voltaire admired the line itself, but in deference to this Greek irony,
supported by the steady advice of his English friends, he finally
altered it. It is possible to fail, however, as an epic poet, and very
excusable for a Frenchman to fail, and yet to succeed in many other
walks of literature. But to Coleridge's piety, to Coleridge's earnest
seeking for light, and to Coleridge's profound sense of the necessity
which connects from below all ultimate philosophy with religion, the
scoffing scepticism of Voltaire would form even a stronger repulsion
than his puerile hostility to Shakespeare. Even here, however, there is
something to be pleaded for Voltaire. Much of his irreligion doubtless
arose from a defective and unimpassioned nature, but part of it was
noble, and rested upon his intolerance of cruelty, of bigotry, and of
priestcraft--but still more of these qualities not germinating
spontaneously, but assumed fraudulently as masques. But very little
Coleridge had troubled himself to investigate Voltaire's views, even
where he was supposing himself to be ranged in opposition to them.

A word or two about those accusations of plagiarism of which far too
much has been made by more than one critic; we ourselves having,
perhaps, been guilty of too wantonly stirring these waters at one time
of our lives; and in the attempt to make matters more clear, only, it
may be, succeeded in muddying them. Stolberg, Matthison, Schiller,
Frederika Brun, Schelling, and others, whom he has been supposed to have
robbed of trifles, he could not expect to lurk[8] in darkness, and
particularly as he was actively contributing to disperse the darkness
that yet hung over their names in England. But really for such
bagatelles as were concerned in this poetic part of the allegation--even
Bow Street, with the bloodiest Draco of a critical reviewer sitting on
the bench, would not have entertained the charge. Most of us, we
suppose, would be ready enough to run off with a Titian or a Correggio,
provided the coast were clear, and no policemen heaving in sight; but to
be suspected of pocketing a silver spoon, which, after all, would
probably turn out to be made of German silver--faugh!--we not only defy
the fiend and his temptations generally, but we spit in his face for
such an insinuation. With respect to the pretty toy model of Hexameter
and Pentameter from Schiller, we believe the case to have arisen thus:
in talking of metre, and illustrating it (as Coleridge often did at
tea-tables) from Homer, and then from the innumerable wooden and
cast-iron imitations of it among the Germans--he would be very likely to
cite this little ivory bijou from Schiller; upon which the young ladies
would say: 'But, Mr. Coleridge, we do not understand German. Could you
not give us an idea of it in some English version?' Then would he, with
his usual obligingness, write down his mimic English echo of Schiller's
German echo. And of course the young ladies, too happy to possess an
autograph from the 'Ancient Mariner,' and an autograph besides having a
separate interest of its own, would endorse it with the immortal
initials 'S. T. C.,' after which an injunction issuing from the Court of
Chancery would be quite unavailing to arrest its flight through the
journals of the land as the avowed composition of Coleridge. They know
little of Coleridge's habits who suppose that his attention was
disposable for cases of this kind. Alike, whether he were unconsciously
made by the error of a reporter to rob others, or others to rob him, he
would be little likely to hear of the mistake--or, hearing of it by some
rare accident, to take any pains for its correction. It is probable that
such mistakes sometimes arose with others, but sometimes also with
himself from imperfect recollection; and _that_, owing chiefly to his
carelessness about the property at issue, so that it seemed not worth
the requisite effort to vindicate the claim if it happened to be _his_,
or formally to renounce it if it were not. But, however this might be,
his daughter's remark remains true, and is tolerably significant, that
the people whom (through anybody's mistake) he seems to have robbed were
all pretty much in the sunshine of the world's regard; there was no
attempt to benefit by darkness or twilight, and an intentional robber
must have known that the detection was inevitable.

A second thing to be said in palliation of such plagiarisms, real or
fancied, intentional or not intentional, is this--that at least
Coleridge never insulted or derided those upon whose rights he is
supposed to have meditated an aggression.

Coleridge has now been dead for more than fifteen years,[9] and he lived
through a painful life of sixty-three years; seventy-eight years it is
since he first drew that troubled air of earth, from which with such
bitter loathing he rose as a phoenix might be supposed to rise, that,
in retribution of some treason to his immortal race, had been compelled
for a secular period to banquet on carrion with ghouls, or on the spoils
of _vivisection_ with vampires. Not with less horror of retrospect than
such a phoenix did Coleridge, when ready to wing his flight from
earth, survey the chambers of suffering through which he had trod his
way from childhood to gray hairs. Perhaps amongst all the populous
nations of the grave not one was ever laid there, through whose bones so
mighty a thrill of shuddering anguish would creep, if by an audible
whisper the sound of earth and the memories of earth could reach his
coffin. Yet why? Was he not himself a child of earth? Yes, and by too
strong a link: _that_ it was which shattered him. For also he was a
child of Paradise, and in the struggle between two natures he could not
support himself erect. That dreadful conflict it was which supplanted
his footing. Had he been gross, fleshly, sensual, being so framed for
voluptuous enjoyment, he would have sunk away silently (as millions
sink) through carnal wrecks into carnal ruin. He would have been
mentioned oftentimes with a sigh of regret as that youthful author who
had enriched the literature of his country with two exquisite poems,
'Love' and the 'Ancient Mariner,' but who for some unknown reason had
not fulfilled his apparent mission on earth. As it was, being most
genial and by his physical impulses most luxurious; yet, on the other
hand, by fiery aspirations of intellect and of spiritual heart being
coerced as if through torments of magical spells into rising heavenwards
for ever, into eternal commerce with the grander regions of his own
nature, he found this strife too much for his daily peace, too imperfect
was the ally which he found in his will; treachery there was in his own
nature, and almost by a necessity he yielded to the dark temptations of
opium. That 'graspless hand,' from which, as already in one of his early
poems (November, 1794) he had complained--

    'Drop friendship's priceless pearls as hour-glass sands,'

was made much _more_ graspless, and in this way the very graces of his
moral nature ministered eventually the heaviest of his curses. Most
unworldly he was, most unmercenary, and (as somebody has remarked) even
to a disease, and, in such a degree as if an organ had been forgotten by
Nature in his composition, disregardful of self. But even in these
qualities lay the baits for his worldly ruin, which subsequently caused
or allowed so much of his misery. Partly from the introversion of his
mind, and its habitual sleep of reverie in relation to all external
interests, partly from his defect in all habits of prudential
forecasting, resting his head always on the pillow of the _present_--he
had been carried rapidly past all openings that offered towards the
creation of a fortune before he even heard of them, and he first awoke
to the knowledge that such openings had ever existed when he looked back
upon them from a distance, and found them already irrecoverable for

Such a case as this, as soon as it became known that the case stood
connected with so much power of intellect and so much of various
erudition, was the very ideal case that challenges aid from the public
purse. Mrs. Coleridge has feelingly noticed the philosophic fact. It was
the case of a man lame in the faculties which apply to the architecture
of a fortune, but lame through the very excess in some other faculties
that qualified him for a public teacher, or (which is even more
requisite) for a public stimulator of powers else dormant.

A perfect romance it is that settles upon three generations of these
Coleridges; a romance of beauty, of intellectual power, of misfortune
suddenly illuminated from heaven, of prosperity suddenly overcast by the
waywardness of the individual. The grandfather of the present
generation, who for us stands forward as the founder of the family,
viz., the Rev. John Coleridge; even _his_ career wins a secret homage of
tears and smiles in right of its marvellous transitions from gloom to
sudden light, in right of its entire simplicity, and of its eccentric
consistency. Already in early youth, swimming against a heady current of
hindrances almost overwhelming, he had by solitary efforts qualified
himself for any higher situation that might offer. But, just as this
training was finished, the chances that it might ever turn to account
suddenly fell down to zero; for precisely then did domestic misfortunes
oblige his father to dismiss him from his house with one solitary
half-crown and his paternal benediction. What became of the half-crown
is not recorded, but the benediction speedily blossomed into fruit. The
youth had sat down by the roadside under the mere oppression of grief
for his blighted prospects. But gradually and by steps the most
unexpected and providential, he was led to pedagogy and through this to
his true destination--that of a clergyman of the English church--a
position which from his learning, his devotion, and even from his very
failings--failings in businesslike foresight and calculation--his
absence of mind, his charitable feelings, and his true docility of
nature, he was fitted to adorn; and, indeed, but for his eccentricities
and his complete freedom from worldly self-seeking, and indifference to
such considerations as are apt to weigh all too little with his fellows
of the cloth, he might have moved as an equal among the most eminent
scholars and thinkers. Beautiful are the alternate phases of a good
parish priest--now sitting at the bedside of a dying neighbour, and
ministering with guidance and consolation to the labouring spirit--now
sitting at midnight under the lamp of his own study, and searching the
holy oracles of inspiration for light inexhaustible. These pictures were
realized in J. Coleridge's life.

Mr. Wordsworth has done much to place on an elevated pedestal a very
different type of parish priest--Walker of Seathwaite. The contrast
between him and John Coleridge is striking; and not only striking but
apt, from some points of view, to move something of laughter as well as
tears. The strangest thing is that, if some demon of mischief tempts us,
a hurly-burly begins again of laughter and mockery among that ancient
brotherhood of hills, like Handel's chorus in 'l'Allegro' of 'laughter
holding both his sides.'

                    'Old Skiddaw blows
    His speaking-trumpet; back out of the clouds
    On Glaramara, "_I say, Walker_" rings;
    And Kirkstone "goes it" from his misty head.'

The Rev. Walker, of Seathwaite, it is recorded, spent most of his time
in the parish church; but doing what? Why, spinning; _always_ spinning
wool on the steps of the altar, and only _sometimes_ lecturing his
younger parishioners in the spelling-book. So passed his life. And, if
you feel disposed to say, '_An innocent life_!' you must immediately add
from Mr. Wordsworth's 'Ruth,' '_An innocent life, but far astray_!' What
time had he for writing sermons? The Rev. John Coleridge wrote an
exegetical work on the Book of Judges; we doubt whether Walker could
have spelt _exegetical_. And supposing the Bishop of Chester, in whose
diocese his parish lay, had suddenly said, 'Walker, _unde derivatur_
"_exegesis_"?' Walker must have been walked off into the corner, as a
punishment for answering absurdly. But luckily the Bishop's palace
stood ninety and odd miles south of Walker's two spinning-wheels. For,
observe, he had _two_ spinning-wheels, but he hadn't a single Iliad. Mr.
Wordsworth will say that Walker did something besides spinning and
spelling. What was it? Why, he read a little. A _very_ little, I can
assure you. For _when_ did he read? Never but on a Saturday afternoon.
And _what_ did Walker read? Doubtless now it was Hooker, or was it
Jeremy Taylor, or Barrow? No; it was none of these that Walker honoured
by his Saturday studies, but a magazine. Now, we all know what awful
rubbish the magazines of those days carted upon men's premises. It would
have been indictable as a nuisance if a publisher had laid it down
_gratis_ at your door. Had Walker lived in _our_ days, the case would
have been very different. A course of _Blackwood_ would have braced his
constitution; his spinning-wheel would have stopped; his spelling would
have improved into moral philosophy and the best of politics. This very
month, as the public is by this time aware, Walker would have read
something about himself that _must_ have done him good. We might very
truly have put an advertisement into the _Times_ all last month, saying,
'Let Walker look into the next _Blackwood_, and he will hear of
something greatly to his advantage.' But alas! Walker descended to
Hades, and most ingloriously as _we_ contend, before _Blackwood_ had
dawned upon a benighted earth. We differ therefore by an inexpressible
difference from Wordsworth's estimate of this old fellow. And we close
our account of him by citing two little sallies from his only known
literary productions, viz., two letters, one to a friend, and the other
to the Archbishop of York. In the first of these he introduces a child
of his own under the following flourish of rhetoric, viz., as 'a pledge
of conjugal endearment.' We doubt if his correspondent ever read such a
bit of sentiment before. In the other letter, addressed to the
Metropolitan of the province, Walker has the assurance to say that he
trusts the young man, his son (_not_ the aforesaid cub, the pledge of
conjugal endearment) will never disgrace the _paternal_ example, _i.e._,
Walker's example. Pretty strong _that_! And, if exegetically handled, it
must mean that Walker, junr., is to continue spinning and spelling, as
also once a week reading the _Town and Country Magazine_, all the days
of his life. Oh, Walker, you're a very sad fellow! And the only excuse
for you is, that, like most of your brethren in that mountainous nook of
England, so beautiful but so poor, you never saw the academic bowers of
either Oxford or Cambridge.

Both in prose and verse, much prose and a short allowance of verse, has
Wordsworth celebrated this man, and he has held him aloft like the
saintly Herbert[10] as a shining model of a rural priest. We are glad,
therefore, for Wordsworth's sake, that no judge from the Consistorial
Court ever happened to meet with Walker when trudging over the Furness
Fells to Ulverston with a _long_ cwt. (120 lb. avoirdupois) of wool on
his back, a thing which he did in all weathers. The wool would have been
condemned as a good prize, and we much fear that Walker's gown would
have been stripped over his head; which is a sad catastrophe for a
pattern priest. Mr. John Coleridge came much nearer to Chaucer's model
of a _Parish_ Priest, whilst at the same time he did honour to the
Academic standard of such a priest. He loved his poor parishioners as
children confided to his pastoral care, but he also loved his library.
But, on the other hand, as to Walker, if ever _he_ were seen burning the
midnight oil, it was not in a gentleman's study--it was in a horrid
garret or cock-loft at the top of his house, disturbing the 'conjugal
endearments' of roosting fowl, and on a business the least spiritual
that can be imagined. By ancient usage throughout this sequestered
region, which is the Savoy of England (viz., Cumberland, Westmoreland,
and Furness) all accounts are settled annually at Candlemas, which means
the middle of February. From Christmas, therefore, to this period the
reverend pastor was employed in making out bills, receipts, leases and
releases, charges and discharges, wills and codicils to wills for most
of the hardworking householders amongst his flock. This work paid better
than spinning. By this night work, by the summer work of cutting peats
and mowing grass, by the autumnal work of reaping barley and oats, and
the early winter work of taking up potatoes, the reverend gentleman
could average seven shillings a day besides beer. But meantime our
spiritual friend was poaching on the manors of the following people--of
the chamber counsel, of the attorney, of the professional accountant, of
the printer and compositor, of the notary public, of the scrivener, and
sometimes, we fear, of the sheriff's officer in arranging for special
bail. These very uncanonical services one might have fancied sufficient,
with spinning and spelling, for filling up the temporal cares of any one
man's time. But this restless Proteus masqueraded through a score of
other characters--as seedsman, harvester, hedger and ditcher, etc. We
have no doubt that he would have taken a job of paving; he would have
contracted for darning old Christopher's silk stockings, or for a mile
of sewerage; or he would have contracted to dispose by night of the
sewage (which the careful reader must not confound with the sewerage,
that being the ship and the sewage the freight). But all this coarse
labour makes a man's hands horny, and, what is worse, the starvation,
or, at least, impoverishment, of his intellect makes his mind horny;
and, what is worst of all in a clergyman, who is stationed as a watchman
on a church-steeple expressly to warn all others against the
all-besetting danger of worldliness, such an incessant preoccupation of
the heart by coarse and petty cares makes the spiritual apprehensiveness
and every organ of spiritual sensibility more horny than the hoofs of a

Kindliness of heart, no doubt, remained to the last with Mr. Walker,
_that_ being secured by the universal spirit of brotherly and social
feeling amongst the dalesmen of the lake district. He was even liberal
and generous, if we may rely upon the few instances reported by W. W.
His life of heroic money-getting had not, it seems, made his heart
narrow in that particular direction, though it must not be forgotten
that the calls upon him were rare and trivial. But however _that_ may
have been, the heart of stone had usurped upon the heart of flesh in all
that regarded the spiritualities of his office. He was conscientious, we
dare say, in what related to the _sacramentum militaire_ (as construed
by himself) of his pastoral soldiership. He would, perhaps, have died
for the doctrines of his church, and we do not like him the worse for
having been something of a bigot, being ourselves the most malignant of
Tories (thank Heaven for all its mercies!). But what tenderness or
pathetic breathings of spirituality _could_ that man have, who had no
time beyond a few stray quarters of an hour for thinking of his own
supreme relations to heaven, or to his flock on behalf of heaven? How
could that man cherish or deepen the motions of religious truth within
himself, whose thoughts were habitually turned to the wool market?
Ninety and odd years he lived on earth labouring like a bargeman or a
miner. Assuredly he was not one of the _fainéans_. And within a narrow
pastoral circle he left behind him a fragrant memory that will, perhaps,
wear as long as most reputations in literature. Nay, he even acquired by
acclamation a sort of title, viz., the posthumous surname of the
_wonderful_; pointing, however, we fear, much less to anything in
himself than to the unaccountable amount of money which he left behind
him--unaccountable by comparison with any modes of industry which he
practised, all of which were indomitably persevering, but all humble in
their results. Finally, he has had the honour (which, much we fear, men
far more interesting in the same situation, but in a less homely way,
never _would_ have had) of a record from the pen of Wordsworth. We and
others have always remarked it as one of the austere Roman features in
the mind of Wordsworth, that of all poets he has the least sympathy,
effeminate or not effeminate, with romantic disinterestedness. He cannot
bear to hear of a man working by choice for nothing, which certainly
_is_ an infirmity, where at all it arises from want of energy or of just
self-appreciation, but still an amiable one, and in certain directions a
sublime one. Walker had no such infirmity. He laboured in those fields
which ensure instant payment. Verily he _had_ his reward: ten per cent.,
at least, beyond all other men, without needing to think of reversions,
either above or below. The unearthly was suffocated in _him_ by the
earthly. Let us leave him, and return to a better man, viz., to the Rev.
John Coleridge, author of the _Quale-quare-quidditive_ case--a man equal
in simplicity o£ habits and in humility, but better in the sight of God,
because he laboured in the culture of his higher and not his lower

Mr. John Coleridge married a second time; and we are perplexed to say
_when_. The difficulty is this: he had by his second wife ten children.
Now, as _the_ Coleridge, the youngest of the flock, was born in 1772,
the space between that year and 1760 seems barely adequate to such a
succession of births. Yet, on the other hand, _before_ 1760 he could not
probably have seen his second wife, unless, indeed, on some casual trip
to Devonshire. Her name was Anne Bowden; and she was of a respectable
family, that had been long stationary in Devonshire, but of a yeomanly
rank; and people of that rank a century back did not often make visits
as far as Southampton. The question is not certainly of any great
importance; and we notice it only to make a parade of our chronologic
acumen. Devilish sly is Josy Bagstock! It is sufficient that her last
child was her illustrious child; and, if S. T. C.'s theory has any
foundation, we must suppose him illustrious _because_ he was the last.
For he imagines that in any long series of children the last will,
according to all experience, have the leonine share of intellect. But
this contradicts our own personal observation; and, besides, it seems to
be unsound upon an _à priori_ ground, viz., that to be the first child
carries a meaning with it: _that_ place in the series has a real
physiologic value; and we have known families in which, from generation
to generation, the first-born child had physical advantages denied to
all that followed. But to be the last child must very often be the
result of accident, and has in reality no meaning in any sense known to
nature. The sixth child, let us suppose, is a blockhead. And soon after
the birth of this sixth child, his father, being drunk, breaks his neck.
That accident cannot react upon this child to invest him with the
privileges of absolute juniority. Being a blockhead, he will remain a
blockhead. Yet he is the youngest; but, then, nature is no party to his
being such, and probably she is no party (by means of any physical
change in the parents) once in a thousand births to a case of absolute
and predeterminate juniority.

Whether with or without the intention of nature, S. T. C. was fated to
be the last of his family. He was the tenth child of the second flock,
and possibly there might have been an eleventh or even a twentieth, but
for the following termination of his father's career, which we give in
the words of his son. 'Towards the latter end of September, 1781, my
father went to Plymouth with my brother Francis, who was to go out as'
(a) 'midshipman under Admiral Graves--a friend of my father's. He
settled Frank as he wished, and returned on the 4th of October, 1781. He
arrived at Exeter about six o'clock, and was pressed to take a bed there
by the friendly family of the Harts; but he refused, and, to avoid their
entreaties, he told them that he had never been superstitious, but that
the night before he had had a dream, which had made a deep impression on
him. He dreamed that Death had appeared to him, as he is commonly
painted, and had touched him with his dart. Well, he returned home; and
all his family, _I_ excepted, were up. He told my mother his dream; but
he was in good health and high spirits; and there was a bowl of punch
made, and my father gave a long and particular account of his travels,
and that he had placed Frank under a religious captain, and so forth. At
length he went to bed, very well and in high spirits. A short time after
he had lain down, he complained of a pain to which he was subject. My
mother got him some peppermint water, which he took; and after a pause
he said, "I am much better now, my dear!" and lay down again. In a
minute my mother heard a noise in his throat, and spoke to him; but he
did not answer, and she spoke repeatedly in vain. Her shriek awaked me,
and I said, "Papa is dead!" I did not know of my father's return, but I
knew that he was expected. How I came to think of his death, I cannot
tell; but so it was. Dead he was. Some said it was gout in the heart;
probably it was a fit of apoplexy. He was an Israelite without guile,
simple, generous; and, taking some Scripture texts in their literal
sense, he was conscientiously indifferent to the good and evil of this

This was the account of his father's sudden death in 1781, written by S.
T. Coleridge in 1797. 'Thirty years afterwards' (but after 1781 or after
1797?), says Mr. H. N. Coleridge, 'S. T. C. breathed a wish for such a
death, "if," he added, "like him I were an Israelite without guile!" and
then added, "The image of my father, my revered, kind, learned,
simple-hearted father, is a religion to me."'

In his ninth year, therefore, thus early and thus suddenly, Coleridge
lost his father; and in the result, though his mother lived for many a
year after, he became essentially an orphan, being thrown upon the
struggles of this world, and for ever torn from his family, except as a
visitor when equally he and they had changed. Yet such is the world, and
so inevitably does it grow thorns amongst its earliest roses, that even
that dawn of life when he had basked in the smiles of two living
parents, was troubled for _him_ by a dark shadow that followed his steps
or ran before him, obscuring his light upon every path. This was Francis
Coleridge, one year older, that same boy whom his father had in his last
journey upon earth accompanied to Plymouth.

We shall misconceive the character of Francis if we suppose him to have
been a boy of bad nature. He turned out a gallant young man, and
perished at twenty-one from over exertion in Mysore, during the first
war with Tippoo Sahib. How he came to be transferred from the naval to
the land service, is a romantic story, for which, as it has no relation
to _the_ Coleridge, we cannot find room.

In that particular relation, viz., to _the_ Coleridge, Francis may seem
at first to have been unamiable, and especially since the little Samuel
was so entirely at the mercy of his superior hardiness and strength;
but, in fact, his violence arose chiefly from the contempt natural to a
bold adventurous nature for a nursery pet, and a contempt irritated by a
counter admiration which he could not always refuse. 'Frank,' says S. T.
C., looking back to these childish days, 'had a violent love of beating
me; but, whenever _that_ was superseded by any humour or circumstances,
he was always very fond of me, and used to regard me with a strange
mixture of admiration and contempt. Strange it was not; for he hated
books, and loved climbing, fighting, playing, robbing orchards, to

In the latter part of 1778, when S. T. C. was six years old, and
recently admitted to King's School at Ottery, he and his brother George
(that brother to whom his early poems were afterwards dedicated) caught
a putrid fever at the same time. But on this occasion Frank displayed
his courageous kindness; for, in contempt of orders to the contrary, and
in contempt of the danger, he stole up to the bedside of little Samuel
and read Pope's 'Homer' to him. This made it evident that Frank's
partiality for thumping S. T. C. did really arise very much out of a
lurking love for him; since George, though a most amiable boy, and ill
of the same fever in another room, was left to get well in the usual
way, by medicine and slops, without any thumping certainly, but also
without any extra consolations from either Iliad or Odyssey. But what
ministered perpetual fuel to the thumping-mania of Francis Coleridge was
a furor of jealousy--strangely enough not felt by him, but felt _for_
him by his old privileged nurse. She could not inspire her own passions
into Francis, but she could point his scorn to the infirmities of his
rival. Francis had once reigned paramount in the vicarage as universal
pet. But he had been dethroned by Samuel, who now reigned in his stead.
Samuel felt no triumph at that revolution; Francis no anger. But the
nurse suffered the pangs of a baffled stepmother, and looked with
novercal eyes of hatred and disgust upon little Sam that had stolen away
the hearts of men and women from one that in _her_ eyes was a thousand
times his superior. In that last point nurse was not so entirely wrong,
but that nine-tenths of the world (and therefore, we fear, of our
dearly-beloved readers) would have gone along with her, on which account
it is that we have forborne to call her 'wicked old nurse.' Francis
Coleridge, her own peculiar darling, was memorable for his beauty. All
the brothers were handsome--'remarkably handsome,' says S. T. C., 'but
_they_,' he adds, 'were as inferior to Francis as _I_ am to _them_.'[11]

Reading this and other descriptions of Frank Coleridge's beauty (in our
Indian army he was known as the _handsome Coleridge_), we are disposed
to cry out with Juliet,

    'Beautiful tyrant! fiend angelical!
    Dove-feathered raven!'

when we find how very nearly his thoughtless violence had hurried poor
S. T. C. into an early death. The story is told circumstantially by
Coleridge himself in one of the letters to Mr. Poole; nor is there any
scene more picturesque than this hasty sketch in Brookes's 'Fool of
Quality.' We must premise that S. T. C. had asked his mother for a
particular indulgence requiring some dexterity to accomplish. The
difficulty, however, through _her_ cautious manipulations, had just been
surmounted, when Samuel left the room for a single instant, and found
upon his return that the beautiful Francis had confounded all Mama's
labours, and had defeated his own enjoyment. What followed is thus told
by Samuel nearly twenty years after: 'I returned, saw the exploit, and
flew at Frank. He pretended to have been seriously hurt by my blow,
flung himself upon the ground, and there lay with outstretched limbs.'
This is good comedy: the pugnacious Frank affecting to be an Abel,
killed by a blow from Cain such as doubtless would not have 'made a dint
in a pound of butter.' But wait a little. Samuel was a true penitent as
ever was turned off for fratricide at Newgate. 'I,' says the unhappy
murderer, 'hung over him mourning and in great fright;' but the murdered
Frank by accident came to life again. 'He leaped up, and with a hoarse
laugh gave me a severe blow in the face.' This was too much. To have
your grief flapped back in your face like a wet sheet is bad, but also
and at the same time to have your claret uncorked is unendurable. The
'Ancient Mariner,' then about seven years old, could not stand this.
'With _his_ cross-bow'--no, stop! what are we saying? Nothing better
than a kitchen knife was at hand--and 'this,' says Samuel, 'I seized,
and was running at him, when my mother came in and took me by the arm. I
expected a whipping, and, struggling from her, I ran away to a little
hill or slope, at the bottom of which the Otter flows, about a mile from
Ottery. There I stayed, my rage died away; but my obstinacy vanquished
my fears, and taking out a shilling book, which had at the end morning
and evening prayers, I very devoutly repeated them, thinking at the same
time with a gloomy inward satisfaction how miserable my mother must be.
I distinctly remember my feelings when I saw a Mr. Vaughan pass over the
bridge at about a furlong's distance, and how I watched the calves in
the fields beyond the river. It grew dark, and I fell asleep. It was
towards the end of October, and it proved a stormy night. I felt the
cold in my sleep, and dreamed that I was pulling the blanket over me,
and actually pulled over me a dry thorn-bush which lay on the ground
near me. In my sleep I had rolled from the top of the hill till within
three yards of the river, which flowed by the unfenced edge of the
bottom. I awoke several times, and, finding myself wet and cold and
stiff, closed my eyes again that I might forget it.

'In the meantime my mother waited about half an hour, expecting my
return when the _sulks_ had evaporated. I not returning, she sent into
the churchyard and round the town. Not found! Several men and all the
boys were sent out to ramble about and seek me. In vain. My mother was
almost distracted, and at ten o'clock at night I was cried by the crier
in Ottery and in two villages near it, with a reward offered for me. No
one went to bed; indeed, I believe half the town were up all the night.
To return to myself. About five in the morning, or a little after, I was
broad awake, and attempted to get up and walk, but I could not move. I
saw the shepherds and workmen at a distance and cried, but so faintly
that it was impossible to hear me thirty yards off. And there I might
have lain and died, for I was now almost given over, the ponds, and even
the river (near which I was lying), having been dragged. But
providentially Sir Stafford Northcote, who had been out all night,
resolved to make one other trial, and came so near that he heard me
crying. He carried me in his arms for nearly a quarter of a mile, when
we met my father and Sir Stafford's servants. I remember, and never
shall forget, my father's face as he looked upon me while I lay in the
servant's arms--so calm, and the tears stealing down his face, for I was
the child of his old age. My mother, as you may suppose, was outrageous
with joy. Meantime in rushed a young lady, crying out, "_I hope you'll
whip him, Mrs. Coleridge_." This woman still lives at Ottery, and
neither philosophy nor religion has been able to conquer the antipathy
which I feel towards her whenever I see her.' So says Samuel. We
ourselves have not yet seen this young lady, and now in 1849,
considering that it is about eighty years from the date of her
wickedness, it seems unlikely that we shall. But _our_ antipathy we
declare to be also, alas! quite unconquerable by the latest supplements
to the Transcendental philosophy that we have yet received from
Deutschland. Whip the Ancient Mariner, indeed! A likely thing _that_:
and at the very moment when he was coming off such a hard night's duty,
and supporting a character which a classical Roman has pronounced to be
a spectacle for Olympus--viz., that of '_Puer bonus cum malâ-fortunâ
compositus_' (a virtuous boy matched in duel with adversity)! The sequel
of the adventure is thus reported: 'I was put to bed, and recovered in a
day or so. But I was certainly injured; for I was weakly and subject to
ague for many years after.' Yes; and to a worse thing than ague, as not
so certainly to be cured, viz., rheumatism. More than twenty years after
this cold night's rest, _à la belle étoile_, we can vouch that Coleridge
found himself obliged to return suddenly from a tour amongst the
Scottish Highlands solely in consequence of that painful rheumatic
affection, which was perhaps traceable to this childish misadventure.
Alas! Francis the beautiful scamp, that caused the misadventure, and
probably the bad young lady that prescribed whipping as the orthodox
medicine for curing it, and the poor Ancient Mariner himself--that had
to fight his way through such enemies at the price of ague, rheumatism,
and tears uncounted--are all asleep at present, but in graves how widely
divided! One near London; one near Seringapatam; and the young lady, we
suppose, in Ottery churchyard, but her offence, though beyond the power
of Philosophy to pardon, is not remembered, we trust, in her epitaph!

We are sorry that S. T. C. having been so much of a darling with his
father, and considering that he looked back to the brief connection
between them as solemnized by its pathetic termination, had not reported
some parts of their graver intercourse. One such fragment he does
report; it is an elementary lesson upon astronomy, which his father gave
him in the course of a walk upon a starry night. This is in keeping with
the grandeur and responsibility of the paternal relation. But really, in
the only other example (which immediately occurs) of Papa's attempt to
bias the filial intellect, we recognise nothing but what is mystical;
and involuntarily we think of him in the modern slang character of
'governor,' rather than as a 'guide, philosopher, and friend.' It seems
that one Saturday, about the time when the Rev. Walker in Furness must
have been sitting down to his _exegesis_ of hard sayings in the _Town
and Country Magazine_, the Rev. Coleridge thought fit to reward S. T. C.
for the most singular act of virtue that we have ever heard imputed to
man or boy--to 'saint, to savage, or to sage'--viz., the act of eating
beans and bacon to a large amount. The stress must be laid on the word
_large_; because simply to masticate beans and bacon, we do not
recollect to have been regarded with special esteem by the learned
vicar; it was the liberal consumption of them that entitled Samuel to
reward. That reward was one penny, so that in degree of merit, after
all, the service may not have ranked high. But what perplexes us is the
_kind_ of merit. Did it bear some mystical or symbolic sense? Was it
held to argue a spirit of general rebellion against Philosophy, that S.
T. C. should so early in life, by one and the same act, proclaim
mutinous disposition towards two of the most memorable amongst earth's
philosophers--Moses and Pythagoras; of whom the latter had set his face
against beans, laying it down for his opinion that to eat beans and to
cut one's father's throat were acts of about equal atrocity; whilst the
other, who tolerated the beans, had expressly forbidden the bacon? We
are really embarrassed; finding the mere fact recorded with no further
declaration of the rev. governor's reasons, than that such an
'attachment' (an _attachment_ to beans and bacon!) 'ought to be
encouraged'; but upon what principle we no more understand than we do
the principle of the _Quale-quare-quidditive_ case.

The letters in which these early memorabilia of Coleridge's life are
reported did not proceed beyond the fifth. We regret this greatly, for
they would have become instructively interesting as they came more and
more upon the higher ground of his London experience in a mighty world
of seven hundred boys--insulated in a sort of monastic but troubled
seclusion amongst the billowy world of London; a seclusion that in
itself was a wilderness to a home-sick child, but yet looking verdant as
an oasis amongst that other wilderness of the illimitable metropolis.

It is good to be mamma's darling; but not, reader, if you are to leave
mamma's arms for a vast public school in childhood. It is good to be the
darling of a kind, pious, and learned father--but not if that father is
to be torn away from you for ever by a death without a moment's warning,
whilst as yet you yourself are but nine years old, and he has not
bestowed a thought on your future establishment in life. Upon poor S. T.
C. the Benjamin of his family, descended first a golden dawn within the
Paradise of his father's and his mother's smiles--descended secondly and
suddenly an overcasting hurricane of separation from both father and
mother for ever. How dreadful, if audibly declared, this sentence to a
poor nerve-shattered child: Behold! thou art commanded, before thy first
decennium is completed, to see father and mother no more, and to throw
thyself into the wilderness of London. Yet _that_ was the destiny of
Coleridge. At nine years old he was precipitated into the stormy arena
of Christ's Hospital. Amongst seven hundred boys he was to fight his way
to distinction; and with no other advantages of favour or tenderness
than would have belonged to the son of a footman. Sublime are these
democratic institutions rising upon the bosom of aristocratic England.
Great is the people amongst whom the foundations of kings _can_ assume
this popular character. But yet amidst the grandeur of a national
triumph is heard, at intervals, the moaning of individuals; and from
many a grave in London rises from time to time, in arches of sorrow
audible to God, the lamentation of many a child seeking to throw itself
round for comfort into some distant grave of the provinces, where rest
the ear and the heart of its mother.

Concerning this chapter of Coleridge's childhood, we have therefore at
present no vestige of any record beyond the exquisite sketches of his
schoolfellow, Charles Lamb. The five letters, however, though going over
so narrow a space, go far enough to throw a pathetic light upon
Coleridge's frailties of temperament. They indicate the sort of nervous
agitation arising from contradictory impulses, from love too tender, and
scorn too fretful, by which already in childish days the inner peace had
been broken up, and the nervous system shattered. This revelation,
though so unpretending and simple in manner, of the drama substantially
so fearful, that was constantly proceeding in a quiet and religious
parsonage--the bare possibility that sufferings so durable in their
effects should be sweeping with their eternal storms a heart so
capacious and so passively unresisting--are calculated to startle and to
oppress us with the sense of a fate long prepared, vested in the very
seeds of constitution and character; temperament and the effects of
early experience combining to thwart all the morning promise of
greatness and splendour; the flower unfolding its silken leaves only to
suffer canker and blight; and to hang withering on the stalk, with only
enough of grace and colour left to tell pathetically to all that looked
upon it what it might have been.


Certainly this idea of De Quincey about the misfortune to Coleridge of
the early loss of his father, separation from his mother, and removal
from Devon to London, is fully borne out by the more personal utterances
to be found in Coleridge's poems. Looking through them with this idea in
view, we are surprised at the deposit left in them by this conscious
experience on Coleridge's part. Not to dwell at all on what might be
very legitimately regarded as _indirect_ expressions of the sentiment,
we shall present here, in order to add emphasis to De Quincey's
position, some of the extracts which have most impressed us. From the
poem in the Early Poems 'To an Infant,' are these lines:

    'Man's breathing miniature! thou mak'st me sigh--
    A babe art thou--and such a thing am I,
    To anger rapid and as soon appeased,
    For trifles mourning and by trifles pleased,
    Break friendship's mirror with a tetchy blow,
    Yet snatch what coals of fire on pleasure's altar glow.'

Still more emphatic is this passage from the poem, 'Frost at Midnight':

    'My babe so beautiful! it thrills my heart
    With tender gladness thus to look at thee,
    And think that thou shalt learn far other lore,
    And in far other scenes! For I was reared
    In the great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim,
    And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars.
    But thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze
    By lakes and sandy shores beneath the crags
    Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds,
    Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores
    And mountain crags; so shalt thou see and hear
    The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible
    Of that eternal language, which thy God
    Utters, who from eternity doth teach
    Himself in all and all things in Himself.
    Great Universal Teacher! he shall mould
    Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.'

In another place, when speaking of the love of mother for child and that
of child for mother, awakened into life by the very impress of that love
in voice and touch, he concludes with the line:

    'Why was I made for Love and Love denied to me?'

And, most significant of all, is that Dedication in 1803 of his Early
Poems to his brother, the Rev. George Coleridge of Ottery St. Mary, when
he writes, after having dwelt on the bliss this brother had enjoyed in
never having been really removed from the place of his early nurture:

    'To me the Eternal Wisdom hath dispensed
    A different fortune, and more different mind--
    Me, from the spot where first I sprang to light
    Too soon transplanted, ere my soul had fixed
    Its first domestic loves; and hence, through life
    Chasing chance-started friendships. A brief while
    Some have preserved me from life's pelting ills,
    But like a tree with leaves of feeble stem,
    If the clouds lasted, and a sudden breeze
    Ruffled the boughs, they on my head at once
    Dropped the collected shower: and some most false,
    False and fair-foliaged as the manchineel,
    Have tempted me to slumber in their shade
    E'en 'mid the storm; then breathing subtlest damps
    Mixed their own venom with the rain from Heaven,
    That I woke poisoned! But (all praise to Him
    Who gives us all things) more have yielded me
    Permanent shelter: and beside one friend,
    Beneath the impervious covert of one oak
    I've raised a lowly shed and know the name
    Of husband and of father; not unhearing
    Of that divine and nightly-whispering voice,
    Which from my childhood to maturer years
    Spake to me of predestinated wreaths,
    Bright with no fading colours!
                      Yet, at times,
    My soul is sad, that I have roamed through life
    Still most a stranger, most with naked heart,
    At mine own home and birthplace: chiefly then
    When I remember thee, my earliest friend!
    Thee, who didst watch my boyhood and my youth;
    Did'st trace my wanderings with a father's eye;
    And, boding evil yet still hoping good,
    Rebuked each fault and over all my woes
    Sorrowed in silence!'

And certainly all this only gains emphasis from the entry we have in the
'Table Talk' under date August 16, 1832, and under the heading,
'Christ's Hospital, Bowyer':

'The discipline of Christ's Hospital in my time was ultra-Spartan; all
domestic ties were to be put aside. "Boy!" I remember Bowyer saying to
me once when I was crying the first day of my return after the holidays.
"Boy! the school is your father! Boy! the school is your mother! Boy!
the school is your brother! the school is your sister! the school is
your first cousin, and all the rest of your relations! Let's have no
more crying!"'


[1] Really now I can't say that. No; I couldn't have stood Cruger's
arguments. 'Ditto to Mr. Burke' is certainly not a very brilliant
observation, but still it's supportable, whereas I must have found the
pains of contradiction insupportable.

[2] This sublimest of all Greek poets did really die, as some
biographers allege, by so extraordinary and, as one may say, so
insulting a mistake on the part of an eagle.

[3] _Frankistan._--There is no word, but perhaps Frankistan might come
nearest to such a word, for expressing the territory of Christendom
taken jointly with that of those Mahometan nations which have for a long
period been connected with Christians in their hostilities, whether of
arms or of policy. The Arabs and the Moors belong to these nations, for
the circle of their political system has always been made up in part by
a segment from Christendom, their relations of war being still more
involved with such a segment.

[4] 'Merry Wives of Windsor,' Act I., Sc. 4. Mrs. Quickly: '... An
honest, willing, kind fellow, as ever servant shall come in house
withal; and I warrant you no tell-tale, nor no breed-hate; his worst
fault is, that he is given to prayer; he is something peevish that way;
but nobody but has his fault--but let that pass.'--ED.

[5] '_Pun them into shivers_': Troilus and Cressida, Act II., Sc. 1. We
refer specially to the jolly boatswain, having already noticed the fact,
that sailors as a class, from retaining more of the simplicity and quick
susceptibility belonging to childhood, are unusually fond of waxen
exhibitions. Too much worldly experience indisposes men to the
playfulness and to the _toyfulness_ (if we may invent that word) of
childhood, not less through the ungenial churlishness which it gradually
deposits, than through the expansion of understanding which it promotes.

[6] '_Science not always fathomable._' Several distinguished Frenchmen
have pursued a course of investigations into these fenestral phenomena,
which one might call the _Fata Morgana of Frost_; and, amongst these
investigators, some--not content with watching, observing,
recording--have experimented on these floral prolusions of nature by
arranging beforehand the circumstances and conditions into which and
under which the Frost Fairy should be allowed to play. But what was the
result? Did they catch the Fairy? Did they chase her into her secret
cells and workshops? Did they throw over the freedom of her motions a
harness of net-work of coercion as the Pagans over their pitiful
Proteus? So far from it, that the more they studied the less they
understood; and all the traps which they laid for the Fairy, did but
multiply her evasions.

[7] The passage occurs at p. 354, vol. ii. of the _Lectures_; and we now
find, on looking to the place, that the illustration is drawn from 'a
dell of lazy Sicily.' The same remark has virtually been anticipated at
p. 181 of the same volume in the rule about 'converting mere
abstractions into persons.'

[8] It is true that Mr. De Quincey _did_ make the mistake of supposing
Coleridge to have 'calculated on' a remark which Mrs. Coleridge justly
characterises as a blind one. It _was_ blind as compared with the fact
resulting from grounds not then known; else it was _not_ blind as a
reasonable inference under the same circumstances.

[9] If for the words 'more than fifteen years' we say sixteen or
seventeen, as Coleridge died in 1834, this article would be written in
1850 or 1851.--ED.

[10] 'The Saintly Herbert,' the brother, oddly enough, of the brilliant
but infidel Lord Herbert of Cherbury; which lord was a versatile man of
talent, but not a man of genius like the humble rustic--his unpretending

[11] In saying this, Coleridge unduly disparaged his own personal
advantages. In youth, and before sorrow and the labour of thought had
changed him, he must have been of very engaging appearance. The _godlike
forehead_, which afterwards was ascribed to him, could not have been
wanting at any age. That exquisite passage in Wordsworth's description
of him,

    'And a pale face, that seem'd undoubtedly
    As if a blooming face it ought to be,'

had its justification in those early days. If to be blooming was the
natural tendency and right of his face, blooming it then was, as we have
been assured by different women of education and taste, who saw him at
twenty-four in Bristol and Clifton. Two of these were friends of Hannah
More, and had seen all the world. They could judge: that is, they could
judge in conformity to the highest standards of taste; and both said,
with some enthusiasm, that he was a most attractive young man; one
adding, with a smile at the old pastoral name, 'Oh, yes, he was a
perfect Strephon.' Light he was in those days and agile as a feathered
Mercury; whereas he afterwards grew heavy and at times bloated; and at
that gay period of life his animal spirits ran up _naturally_ to the
highest point on the scale; whereas in later life, when most
tempestuous, they seemed most artificial. That this, which was the
ardent testimony of females, was also the true one, might have been
gathered from the appearance of his children. Berkeley died an infant,
and him only we never saw. The sole daughter of Coleridge, as she
inherited so much of her father's intellectual power, inherited also the
diviner part of his features. The upper part of her face, at seventeen,
when last we saw her, seemed to us angelic, and pathetically angelic;
for the whole countenance was suffused by a pensive nun-like beauty too
charming and too affecting ever to be forgotten. Derwent, the youngest
son, we have not seen since boyhood, but at that period he had a
handsome cast of features, and (from all we can gather) the
representative cast of the Coleridge family. But Hartley, the eldest
son, how shall we describe _him_? He was most intellectual and he was
most eccentric, and his features expressed all that in perfection.
Southey, in his domestic playfulness, used to call him the _Knave of
Spades_; and he certainly _had_ a resemblance to that well-known young
gentleman. But really we do not know that it would have been at all
better to resemble the knave of hearts. And it must be remembered that
the knave of spades may have a brother very like himself, and yet a
hundred times handsomer. There _are_ such things as handsome likenesses
of very plain people. Some folks pronounced Hartley Coleridge too
Jewish. But to be a Jew is to be an Arab. And our own feeling was, when
we met Hartley at times in solitary or desolate places of Westmoreland
and Cumberland, that here was a son of Ishmael walking in the wilderness
of Edom. The coruscating _nimbus_ of his curling and profuse black hair,
black as erebus, strengthened the Saracen impression of his features and
complexion. He wanted only a turban on his head, and a spear in his
right hand, to be perfect as a Bedouin. But it affected us as all things
are affecting which record great changes, to hear that for a long time
before his death this black hair had become white as the hair of
infancy. Much sorrow and much thought had been the worms that gnawed the
roots of that raven hair; that, in Wordsworth's fine way of expressing
the very same fact as to Mary Queen of Scots:

    'Kill'd the bloom before its time,
    And blanch'd, without the owner's crime,
      The most resplendent hair.'

Ah, wrecks of once blooming nurseries, that from generation to
generation, from John Coleridge the apostolic to S. T. C. the sunbright,
and from S. T. C. the sunbright to Hartley the starry, lie scattered
upon every shore!


In attempting to appraise Mr. Finlay's work comprehensively, there is
this difficulty. It comes before us in two characters; first, as a
philosophic speculation upon history, to be valued against others
speculating on other histories; secondly, as a guide, practical
altogether and not speculative, to students who are navigating that
great trackless ocean the _Eastern_ Roman history. Now under either
shape, this work traverses so much ground, that by mere multiplicity of
details it denies to us the opportunity of reporting on its merits with
that simplicity of judgment which would have been available in a case of
severer unity. So many separate situations of history, so many critical
continuations of political circumstances, sweep across the field of Mr.
Finlay's telescope whilst sweeping the heavens of four centuries, that
it is naturally impossible to effect any comprehensive abstractions, as
to principles, from cases individual by their nature and separated by
their period not less than by their relations in respect to things and
persons. The mere necessity of the plan in such a work ensures a certain
amount of dissent on the part of every reader; he that most frequently
goes along with the author in his commentary, will repeatedly find
himself diverging from it in one point or demurring to its inferences in
another. Such, in fact, is the eternal disadvantage for an author upon
a subject which recalls the remark of Juvenal:

    'Vester porro labor fecundior, historiarum
    Scriptores: petit hic plus temporis, atque olei plus:
    Sic _ingens rerum numerus_ jubet, atque operum lex.'

It is this _ingens rerum numerus_ that constitutes at once the
attraction of these volumes, and the difficulty of dealing with them in
any adequate or satisfactory manner.

Indeed, the vistas opened up by Mr. Finlay are infinite; in _that_ sense
it is that he ascribes inexhaustibility to the trackless savannahs of
history. These vast hunting-grounds for the imaginative understanding
are in fact but charts and surveyors' outlines meagre and arid for the
timid or uninspired student. To a grander intellect these historical
delineations are not maps but pictures: they compose a forest
wilderness, veined and threaded by sylvan lawns, 'dark with horrid
shades,' like Milton's haunted desert in the 'Paradise Regained,' at
many a point looking back to the towers of vanishing Jerusalem, and like
Milton's desert, crossed dimly at uncertain intervals by forms doubtful
and (considering the character of such awful deserts) suspicious.

Perhaps the reader, being rather 'dense,' does not understand, but we
understand ourselves, which is the root of the matter. Let us try again:
these historical delineations are not lifeless facts, bearing no sense
or moral value, but living realities organized into the unity of some
great constructive idea.

Perhaps we are obscure; and possibly (though it is treason in a writer
to hint such a thing, as tending to produce hatred or disaffection
towards his liege lord who is and must be his reader), yet, perhaps,
even the reader--that great character--may be 'dense.' 'Dense' is the
word used by young ladies to indicate a slight shade--a _soupçon_--of
stupidity; and by the way it stands in close relationship of sound to
_Duns_, the schoolman, who (it is well known) shared with King Solomon
the glory of furnishing a designation for men weak in the upper
quarters. But, reader, whether the fault be in you or in ourselves,
certain it is that the truth which we wish to communicate is not
trivial; it is the noblest and most creative of truths, if only we are
not a Duns Scholasticus for explanation, nor you (most excellent
reader!) altogether a Solomon for apprehension. Therefore, again lend us
your ears.

It is not, it has not been, perhaps it never will be, understood--how
vast a thing is combination. We remember that Euler, and some other
profound Prussians, such as Lambert, etc., tax this word _combination_
with a fault: for, say they, it indicates that composition of things
which proceeds two by two (viz., com-_bina_); whereas three by three,
ten by ten, fifty by fifty, is combination. It is so. But, once for all,
language is so difficult a structure, being like a mail-coach and four
horses required to turn round Lackington's counter[12]--required in one
syllable to do what oftentimes would require a sentence--that it must
use the artifices of a short-hand. The word _bini-æ-a_ is here but an
exponential or representative word: it stands for any number, for
_number_ in short generally as opposed to unity. And the secret truth
which some years ago we suggested, but which doubtless perished as
pearls to swine, is, that com_bina_tion, or com_terna_tion, or
com_quaterna_tion, or com_dena_tion, possesses a mysterious virtue quite
unobserved by men. All knowledge is probably within its keeping. What we
mean is, that where A is not capable simply of revealing a truth
(_i.e._, by way of direct inference), very possible it is that A viewed
by the light of B (_i.e._, in some mode of combination with B) shall be
capable; but again, if A + B cannot unlock the case, these in
combination with C shall do so. And if not A + B + C, then, perhaps,
shall A + B + C combined with D; and so on _ad infinitum_; or in other
words that pairs, or binaries, ternaries, quaternaries, and in that mode
of progression will furnish keys intricate enough to meet and to
decipher the wards of any lock in nature.

Now, in studying history, the difficulty is about the delicacy of the
lock, and the mode of applying the key. We doubt not that many readers
will view all this as false refinement. But hardly, if they had much
considered the real experimental cases in history. For instance, suppose
the condition of a people known as respects (1) civilization, as
respects (2) relation to the sovereign, (3) the prevailing mode of its
industry, (4) its special circumstances as to taxation, (5) its physical
conformation and temperament, (6) its local circumstances as to
neighbours warlike or not warlike, (7) the quality and depth of its
religion, (8) the framework of its jurisprudence, (9) the machinery by
which these laws are made to act, (10) the proportion of its towns to
its rural labour, and the particular action of its police; these and
many other items, elements, or secondary features of a people being
known, it yet remains unknown which of these leads, which is inert, and
of those which are not inert in what order they arrange their action.
The _principium movendi_, the central force which organizes and assigns
its place in the system to all the other forces, these are quite
undetermined by any mere arithmetical recitation of the agencies
concerned. Often these primary principles can be deduced only
tentatively, or by a regress to the steps, historically speaking,
through which they have arisen. Sometimes, for instance, the population,
as to its principle of expansion, and as to its rate, together with the
particular influence socially of the female sex, exercises the most
prodigious influence on the fortunes of a nation, and its movement
backwards or forwards. Sometimes again as in Greece (from the oriental
seclusion of women) these causes limit their own action, until they
become little more than names.

In such a case it is essential that the leading outlines at least should
be definite; that the coast line and the capes and bays should be
well-marked and clear, whatever may become of the inland waters, and the
separate heights in a continuous chain of mountains.

But we are not always sure that we understand Mr. Finlay, even in the
particular use which he makes of the words 'Greece' and 'Grecian.'
Sometimes he means beyond a doubt the people of Hellas and the Ægean
islands, as _opposed_ to the mixed population of Constantinople.
Sometimes he means the Grecian element as opposed to the Roman element
_in_ the composition of this mixed Byzantine population. In this case
the Greek does not mean (as in the former case) the non-Byzantine, but
the Byzantine. Sometimes he means by preference that vast and most
diffusive race which throughout Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, the Euxine and
the Euphrates, represented the Græco-Macedonian blood from the time of
Alexander downwards. But why should we limit the case to an origin from
this great Alexandrian æra? Then doubtless (330 B.C.) it received a
prodigious expansion. But already, in the time of Herodotus (450 B.C.),
this Grecian race had begun to sow itself broadcast over Asia and
Africa. The region called _Cyrenaica_ (viz., the first region which you
would traverse in passing from the banks of the Nile and the Pyramids to
Carthage and to Mount Atlas, _i.e._, Tunis, Algiers, Fez and Morocco, or
what we now call the Barbary States) had been occupied by Grecians
nearly seven hundred years before Christ. In the time of Croesus (say
560 B.C.) it is clear that Grecians were swarming over Lydia and the
whole accessible part of Asia Minor. In the time of Cyrus the younger
(say 404 B.C.) his Grecian allies found their fiercest opponents in
Grecian soldiers of Artaxerxes. In the time of Alexander, just a
septuagint of years from the epoch of this unfortunate Cyrus, the most
considerable troops of Darius were Greeks. The truth is, that, though
Greece was at no time very populous, the prosperity of so many little
republics led to as ample a redundancy of Grecian population as was
compatible with Grecian habits of life; for, deceive not yourself, the
_harem_, what we are accustomed to think of as a Mahometan institution,
existed more or less perfectly in Greece by seventeen centuries at least
antecedently to Mahometanism. Already before Homer, before Troy, before
the Argonauts, woman was an abject, dependent chattel in Greece, and
living in nun-like seclusion. There is so much of _intellectual_
resemblance between Greece and Rome, shown in the two literatures, the
two religions, and the structure of the two languages, that we are apt
to overlook radical repulsion between their _moral_ systems. But such a
repulsion did exist, and the results of its existence are 'writ large'
in the records, if they are studied with philosophic closeness and
insight, and could be illustrated in many ways had we only time and
space for such an exercise. But we must hurry on to remark that Mr.
Finlay's indefiniteness in the use of the terms 'Greece' and 'Grecian'
is almost equalled by his looseness in dealing with institutions and the
principles which determined their character. He dwells meditatively upon
that tenacity of life which he finds to characterize them--a tenacity
very much dependent upon physical[13] circumstances, and in that respect
so memorably inferior to the social economy of Jewish existence, that
we have been led to dwell with some interest upon the following
distinctions as applicable to the political existence of all nations who
are in any degree civilized. It seems to us that three forces, amongst
those which influence the movement of nations, are practically
paramount; viz., first, the _legislation_ of a people; secondly, the
_government_ of a people; thirdly, the _administration_ of a people. By
the quality of its legislation a people is moulded to this or that
character; by the quality of its government a people is applied to this
or that great purpose; by the quality of its administration a people is
made disposable readily and instantly and completely for every purpose
lying within the field of public objects. _Legislation_ it is which
shapes or qualifies a people, endowing them with such qualities as are
more or less fitted for the ends likely to be pursued by a national
policy, and for the ends suggested by local relations when combined with
the new aspects of the times. _Government_ it is which turns these
qualifications to account, guiding them upon the new line of tendencies
opening spontaneously ahead, or (as sometimes we see) upon new
tendencies created deliberately and by forethought. But _administration_
it is which organizes between the capacities of the people on the one
hand, and the enlightened wishes of the government on the other--that
intermediate _nexus_ of social machinery without which both the amplest
powers in a nation and the noblest policy in a government must equally
and continually fall to the ground. A general system of instruments, or
if we may use the word, system of instrumentation and concerted
arrangements--behold the one sole _conditio sine qua non_ for giving a
voice to the national interests, for giving a ratification to the
national will, for giving mobility to the national resources. Amongst
these three categories which we have here assigned as summing up the
relations of the public will in great nations to the total system of
national results, this last category of _administration_ is that which
(beyond the rest) postulates and presupposes vast developments of
civilization. Instincts of nature, under favourable circumstances, as
where the national mind is bold, the temper noble, veracity adorning the
speech, and simplicity the manners, may create and _have_ created good
elementary laws; whilst it is certain that, where any popular freedom
exists, the government must resemble and reflect the people. Hence it
cannot be denied that, even in semi-barbarous times, good legislation
and good government may arise. But good administration is not
conceivable without the aids of high civilization. How often have piracy
by sea, systematic robbery by land, tainted as with a curse the
blessings of life and property in great nations! Witness the state of
the Mediterranean under the Cilicians during the very sunset of Marius;
or, again, of the Caribbean seas, in spite of a vast Spanish empire, of
Buccaneers and Filibusters. Witness Bagandæ in Roman Spain, or the cloud
of robbers gathering in France through twelve centuries after _every_
period of war; witness the scourges of public peace in Italy, were it in
papal Rome or amongst the Fra Diavolos of Naples.

We believe that, so far from possessing any stronger principle of
vitality than the Roman institutions, those of Greece Proper (meaning
those originally and authentically Greek) had any separate advantage
only when applied locally. They were essentially _enchorial_
institutions, and even _physically_ local (_i.e._, requiring the same
place as well as the same people); just as the ordinances of Mahomet
betray his unconscious frailty and ignorance by presuming and
postulating a Southern climate as well as an Oriental temperament. The
Greek usages and traditionary monuments of civilization had adapted
themselves from the first to the singular physical conformation of
Hellas--as a 'nook-shotten'[14] land, nautically accessible and laid
down in seas that were studded with islands systematically adjusted to
the continental circumstances, whilst internally her mountainous
structure had split up almost the whole of her territory into separate
chambers or wards, predetermining from the first that galaxy of little
republics into which her splintered community threw itself by means of
the strong mutual repulsion derived originally from battlements of
hills, and, secondarily, from the existing state of the military art.
Having these advantages to begin with, reposing upon these foundations,
the Greek civil organization sustained itself undoubtedly through an
astonishing tract of time; before the ship _Argo_ it had commenced;
under the Ottoman Turks it still survived: for even in the Trojan æra,
and in the pre-Trojan or Argonautic æra, already (and perhaps for many
centuries before) the nominal kingdoms were virtually republics, the
princes being evidently limited in their authority by the 'sensus
communis' of the body politic almost as much as the Kings of Sparta were
from the time of Lycurgus to the extinction of the Peloponnesian

Accidents, therefore, although accidents of a permanent order (being
founded in external nature), gave to Greece a very peculiar advantage.
On her own dunghill her own usages had a tenacity of life such as is
seen in certain weeds (couch-grass, for instance). This natural
advantage, by means of intense local adaptation, did certainly prove
available for Greece, under the circumstances of a hostile invasion.
Even had the Persian invasion succeeded, it is possible that Grecian
civilization would still have survived the conquest, and would have
predominated, as actually it did in Ionia, etc.

So far our views seem to flow in the channel of Mr. Finlay's. But these
three considerations occur:

1st. That oftentimes Greece escaped the ravages of barbarians, not so
much by any quality of her civil institutions, whether better or worse,
as by her geographical position. It is 'a far cry to Loch Awe'; and had
Timon of Athens together with Apemantus clubbed their misanthropies,
joint and several, there would hardly have arisen an impetus strong
enough to carry an enemy all the way from the Danube to the Ilyssus; yet
so far, at least, every European enemy of Thebes and Athens had to
march. Nay, unless Monsieur le Sauvage happened to possess the mouths of
the Danube, so as to float down 'by the turn of tide' through the
Euxine, Bosphorus, Propontis, Hellespont, etc., he would think twice
before he would set off a-gallivanting to the regions of the South,
where certainly much sunshine was to be had of undeniable quality, but
not much of anything else. The Greeks were never absolute paupers,
because, however slender their means, their social usages never led to
any Irish expansion of population; but under no circumstances of
government were they or could they have been rich. Plunder therefore,
that could be worth packing and cording, there was little or none in
Greece. People do not march seven hundred miles to steal old curious
bedsteads, swarming, besides, with fleas. Sculptured plate was the
thing. And, from the times of Sylla, _that_ had a strange gravitation
towards Rome. It is, besides, worth noticing--as a general rule in the
science of robbery--that it makes all the difference in the world which
end of a cone is presented to the robber. Beginning at the apex of a
sugar-loaf, and required to move rapidly onwards to the broad basis
where first he is to halt and seek his booty, the robber locust advances
with hope and cheerfulness. Invert this order, and from the vast base of
the Danube send him on to the promontory of Sunium--a tract perpetually
dwindling in its breadth through 500 miles--and his reversion of booty
grows less valuable at every step. Yet even this feature was not the
most comfortless in the case. That the zone of pillage should narrow
with every step taken towards its proper ground, this surely was a bad
look-out. But it was a worse, that even this poor vintage lay hid and
sheltered under the Ægis of the empire. The whole breadth of the empire
on that side of the Mediterranean was to be traversed before one cluster
of grapes could be plucked from Greece; whereas, upon all the horns of
the Western Empire, plunder commenced from the moment of crossing the
frontier. Here, therefore, lies one objection to the supposed excellence
of Grecian institutions: they are valued, upon Mr. Finlay's scale, by
their quality of elastic rebound from violence and wrong; but, in order
that this quality might be truly tested, they ought to have been equally
and fairly tried: now, by comparison with the Western provinces, that
was a condition not capable of being realized for Greece, having the
position which she had.

2ndly. The reader will remark that the argument just used is but
negative: it does not positively combat the superiority claimed for the
Greek organization; that superiority may be all that it is described to
be; but it is submitted that perhaps the manifestation of this advantage
was not made on a sufficient breadth of experiment.

Now let us consider this. Upon the analogy of any possible precedent,
under which Rome could be said to have taken seven centuries in
unfolding her power, our Britain has taken almost fourteen. So long is
the space between the first germination of Anglo-Saxon institutions and
the present expansion of British power over the vast regions of
Hindostan. Most true it is that a very small section of this time and a
very small section of British energies has been applied separately to
the Indian Empire. But precisely the same distinction holds good in the
Roman case. The total expansion of Rome travelled, perhaps, through
eight centuries; but five of these spent themselves upon the mere
_domestic_ growth of Rome; during five she did not so much as attempt
any foreign appropriation. And in the latter three, during which she
did, we must figure to ourselves the separate ramifications of her
influence as each involving a very short cycle indeed of effort or
attention, though collectively involving a long space, separately as
involving a very brief one. If the eye is applied to each conquest
itself, nothing can exhibit less of a slow or gradual expansion than the
Roman system of conquest. It was a shadow which moved so rapidly on the
dial as to be visible and alarming. Had newspapers existed in those
days, or had such a sympathy bound nations together[15] as could have
supported newspapers, a vast league would have been roused by the
advance of Rome. Such a league _was_ formed where something of this
sympathy existed. The kingdoms formed out of the inheritance of
Alexander being in a sense Grecian kingdoms--Grecian in their language,
Grecian by their princes, Grecian by their armies (in their privileged
sections)--_did_ become alarming to the Greeks. And what followed? The
Achæan league, which, in fact, produced the last heroes of
Greece--Aratus, Philopoemen, Cleomenes. But as to Rome, she was too
obscure, too little advertised as a danger, to be separately observed.
But, partly, this arose from her rapidity. Macedonia was taken
separately from Greece. Sicily, which was the advanced port of Greece to
the West, had early fallen as a sort of appanage to the Punic struggle.
And all the rest followed by insensible degrees. In Syria, and again in
Pontus, and in Macedonia, three great kingdoms which to Greece seemed
related rather as enemies than as friends, and which therefore roused no
spirit of resistance in Greece, through Rome had already withdrawn all
the contingent proper from Greece. Had these powers concerted with Egypt
and with Greece a powerful league, Rome would have been thrown back
upon her Western chambers.

The reason why the Piratic power arose, we suppose to have been this,
and also the reason why such a power was not viewed as extra-national.
The nautical profession as such flowed in a channel altogether distinct
from the martial profession. It was altogether and exclusively
commercial in its general process. Only, upon peculiar occasions arose a
necessity for a nautical power as amongst the resources of empire.
Carthage reared upon the basis of her navy, as had done Athens, Rhodes,
Tyre, some part of her power: and Rome put forth so much of this power
as sufficed to meet Carthage. But that done, we find no separate
ambition growing up in Rome and directing itself to naval war.
Accidentally, when the war arose between Cæsar and Pompey, it became
evident that for rapidly transferring armies and for feeding these
armies, a navy would be necessary. And Cicero, but for _this crisis_,
and not as a _general_ remark, said--that 'necesse est qui mare tenuit
rerum potiri.'

Hence it happened--that as no permanent establishment could arise where
no permanent antagonist could be supposed to exist--oftentimes, and
indeed always, unless when some new crisis arose, the Roman navy went
down. In one of these intervals arose the Cilician piracy. Mr. Finlay
suggests that in part it arose out of the fragments from Alexander's
kingdoms, recombining: partly out of the Isaurian land pirates already
established, and furnished with such astonishing natural fortresses as
existed nowhere else if we except those aërial caves--a sort of mountain
nests on the side of declivities, which Josephus describes as harbouring
Idumean enemies of Herod the Great, against whom he was obliged to
fight by taking down warriors in complete panoply ensconced in baskets
suspended by chains; and partly arising on the temptation of rich
booties in the commerce of the Levant, or of rich temples on shore
amidst unwarlike populations. These elements of a warlike form were
required as the means of piracy, these fortresses and Isaurian caves as
the resources of piracy, these notorious cargoes or temples stored with
wealth as temptations to piracy, before a public nuisance could arise
demanding a public chastisement. And yet, because this piracy had a
local settlement and nursery, it seemed hardly consonant to the spirit
of public (or international) law, that all civil rights should be denied

Not without reason, not without a profound purpose, did Providence
ordain that our two great precedents upon earth should be Greece and
Rome. In all planets, if you could look into them, doubt not (oh, reader
of ours!) that something exists answering to Greece and Rome. Odd it
would be--_curioes_! as the Germans say--if in Jupiter--or Venus--those
precedents should exist under the same _names_ of Greece and Rome. Yet,
why not? Jovial--and Venereal--people may be better in some things than
our people (which, however, we doubt), but certainly a better language
than the Greek man cannot have invented in either planet. Falling back
from cases so low and so lofty (Venus an inferior, Jupiter a far
superior planet) to our own case, the case of poor mediocre Tellurians,
perhaps the reader thinks that other nations might have served the
purpose of Providentia. Other nations might have furnished those
Providential models which the great drama of earth required. No.
Haughtily and despotically we say it--No. Take France. _There_ is a
noble nation. We honour it exceedingly for that heroic courage which on
a morning of battle does not measure the strength of the opposition;
which, when an enemy issues from the darkness of a wood, does not stop
to count noses, but like that noblest of animals, the British bull-dog,
flies at his throat, careless whether a leopard, a buffalo, or a tiger
of Bengal. This we vehemently admire. This we feel to be an echo, an
iteration, of our own leonine courage, concerning which--take you note
of this, oh, chicken-hearted man! (if any such is amongst _our_
readers)--that God sees it with pleasure, blesses it, and calls it 'very
good!' Next, when we come to think at odd times of that other courage,
the courage of fidelity, which stands for hours under the storm of a
cannonade--British courage, Russian courage--in mere sincerity we cannot
ascribe this to the Gaul. All this is true: we feel that the French is
an imperfect nation. But suppose it _not_ imperfect, would the French
therefore have fulfilled for us the mission of the Greek and the Roman?
Undoubtedly they would not. Far enough are we from admiring either Greek
or Roman in that degree to which the ignorance, but oftener the
hypocrisy, of man has ascended.

We, reader, are misanthropical--intensely so. No luxury known amongst
men--neither the paws of bears nor the tails of sheep--to us is so sweet
and dear as that of hating (yet much oftener of despising) our excellent
fellow-creatures. Oftentimes we exclaim in our dreams, where excuse us
for expressing our multitude by unity, 'Homo sum; humani nihil mihi
tolerandum puto.' We kick backwards at the human race, we spit upon
them; we void our rheum upon their ugly gaberdines. Consequently we do
not love either Greek or Roman; we regard them in some measure as
humbugs. But although it is no cue of ours to admire them (viz., in any
English sense of that word known to Entick's Dictionary), yet in a
Grecian or Roman sense we may say that [Greek: thaumazomen],
_admiramur_, both of these nations: we marvel, we wonder at them
exceedingly. Greece we shall omit, because to talk of the arts, and
Phidias, and Pericles, and '_all that_,' is the surest way yet
discovered by man for tempting a vindictive succession of kicks. Exposed
to the world, no author of such twaddle could long evade assassination.
But Rome is entitled to some separate notice, even after all that has
been written about her. And the more so in this case, because Mr. Finlay
has scarcely done her justice. He says: 'The Romans were a tribe of
warriors. All their institutions, even those relating to property, were
formed with reference to war.' And he then goes on to this invidious
theory of their history--that, as warriors, they overthrew the local
institutions of all Western nations, these nations being found by the
Romans in a state of civilization much inferior to their own. But
eastwards, when conquering Greece, her institutions they did _not_
overthrow. And what follows from that memorable difference? Why, that in
after days, when hives of barbarians issued from central Europe, all the
Western provinces (as not cemented by any native and home-bred
institutions, but fighting under the harness of an exotic organization)
sank before them; whereas Greece, falling back on the natural resources
of a system self-evolved and _local_, or epichorial in its origin, not
only defied these German barbarians for the moment, but actually after
having her throat cut in a manner rose up magnificently (as did the
Lancashire woman after being murdered by the M'Keans of Dumfries)[16],
staggered along for a considerable distance, and then (as the
Lancashire woman did not) mounted upon skates, and skated away into an
azure infinite of distance (quite forgetting her throat), so as to--do
what? It is really frightful to mention: so as to come safe and sound
into the nineteenth century, leaping into the centre of us all like the
ghost of a patriarch, setting her arms a-kimbo, and crying out: 'Here I
come from a thousand years before Homer.' All this is really true and
undeniable. It is past contradiction, what Mr. Finlay says, that Greece,
having weathered the following peoples, to wit, the Romans; secondly,
the vagabonds who persecuted the Romans for five centuries; thirdly, the
Saracens; fourthly and fifthly, the Ottoman Turks and Venetians;
sixthly, the Latin princes of Constantinople--not to speak seventhly and
eighthly of Albanian or Egyptian Ali Pashas, or ninthly, of Joseph Humes
and Greek loans, is now, viz., in March, 1844, alive and kicking. Think
of a man, reader, at a _soirée_ in the heavenly spring of '44 (for
heavenly it _will_ be), wearing white kid gloves, and descended from
Deucalion or Ogyges!

Amongst the great changes wrought in every direction by Constantine, it
is not to be supposed that Mr. Finlay could overlook those which applied
a new organization to the army. Rome would not be Rome; even a product
of Rome would not be legitimate; even an offshoot from Rome would be of
suspicious derivation, which _could_ find that great master-wheel of the
state machinery a secondary force in its system. It is wonderful to mark
the martial destiny of all which inherited, or upon any line descended
from Rome in every age of that mighty evolution. War not barbaric, war
exquisitely systematic, war according to the vigour of all science as
yet published to man, was the talisman by which Rome and the children
of Rome prospered: the S.P.Q.R. on the legionary banners was the sign
set in the rubric of the heavens by which the almighty nation, looking
upwards, read her commission from above: and if ever that sign shall
grow pale, then look for the coming of the end, whispered the prophetic
heart of Rome to herself even from the beginning. But are not all great
kingdoms dependent on their armies? No. Some have always been protected
by their remoteness, many by their adjacencies. Germany, in the first
century from Augustus, retreated into her mighty forests when closely
pressed, and in military phrase 'refused herself' to the pursuer. Persia
sheltered herself under the same tactics for ages;[17] scarcely needed
to fight, unless she pleased, and, when she did so, fought in alliance
with famine--with thirst--and with the confusion of pathless deserts.
Other empires, again, are protected by their infinity; America was found
to have no local existence by ourselves: she was nowhere because she was
everywhere. Russia had the same illimitable ubiquity for Napoleon. And
Spain again is so singularly placed with regard to France, a chamber
within a chamber, that she cannot be approached by any power not
maritime except on French permission. Manifold are the defensive
resources of nations beyond those of military systems. But for the Roman
empire, a ring fence around the Mediterranean lake, and hemmed in upon
every quarter of that vast circuit by an _indago_ of martial hunters,
nature and providence had made it the one sole available policy to stand
for ever under arms, eternally 'in procinctu,' and watching from the
specular altitude of her centre upon which radius she should slip her
wolves to the endless circumference.

Mr. Finlay, in our judgment, not only allows a most disproportionate
weight to vicious taxation, which is but one wheel amongst a vast system
of wheels in the machinery of administration, and which, like many
similar agencies, tends oftentimes to react by many corrections upon its
own derangements; but subsequently he views as through a magnifying
glass even these original exaggerations when measured upon the scale of
moral obligations. Not only does false taxation ruin nations and defeat
the possibility of self-defence--which is much--but it cancels the
duties of allegiance. He tells us (p. 408) that 'amidst the ravages of
the Goths, Huns, and Avars, the imperial tax-gatherers had never failed
to enforce payment of the tribute as long as anything remained
undestroyed; though according to the rules of justice, the Roman
government had really forfeited its right to levy the taxes, as soon as
it failed to perform its duty in defending the population.' We do not
believe that the government succeeded in levying tribute vigorously
under the circumstances supposed; the science and machinery of
administration were far from having realized that degree of exquisite
skill. But, if the government _had_ succeeded, we cannot admit that this
relation of the parties dissolved their connection. To have failed at
any time in defending a province or an outwork against an overwhelming
enemy, _that_ for a prince or for a minister is a great misfortune.
Shocking indeed it were if this misfortune could be lawfully
interpreted as his crime, and made the parent of a second misfortune,
ratifying the first by authorizing revolt of the people; and the more
so, as that first calamity would encourage traitors everywhere to
prepare the way for the second as a means of impunity for their own
treason. In the prospect of escaping at once from the burdens of war,
and from the penalties of broken vows to their sovereign, multitudes
would from the first enter into compromise and collusion with an
invader; and in this way they would create the calamity which they
charged upon their rulers as a desertion; they would create the
embarrassments for their government by which they hoped to profit, and
they would do this with an eye to the reversionary benefit anticipated
under the maxim here set up. True, they would often find their heavy
disappointment in the more grievous yoke of that invader whom they had
aided. But the temptation of a momentary gain would always exist for the
improvident many, if such a maxim were received into the law of nations;
and, if it would not always triumph, we should owe it in that case to
the blessing that God has made nations proud. Even in the case where men
had received a license from public law for deserting their sovereign,
thanks be to the celestial pride which is in man, few and anomalous
would be the instances in which they really _would_ do so. In reality it
must be evident that, under such a rule of Publicists, subjects must
stand in perpetual doubt whether the case had emerged or not which law
contemplated as the dissolution of their fealty. No man would say that a
province was licensed to desert, because the central government had lost
a battle. But a whole campaign, or ten campaigns, would stand in the
same predicament as a solitary battle, so long as the struggle was not
formally renounced by the sovereign. How many years of absolute
abandonment might justify a provincial people in considering themselves
surrendered to their own discretion, is a question standing on the
separate circumstances of each separate case. But generally it may be
said, that a ruler will be presumed justly _not_ to have renounced the
cause of resistance so long as he makes no treaty or compromise with the
enemy, and so long as he desists from open resistance only through
momentary exhaustion, or with a view to more elaborate preparation.
Would ten battles, would a campaign, would ten campaigns lost, furnish
the justifying motive? Certainly it would be a false casuistry that
would say so.

Why did the Romans conquer the Greeks? By _why_ we mean, Upon what
principle did the children of Romulus overthrow the children of Ion,
Dorus, Æolus? Why did not these overthrow those? We, speak _Latino
more_--Vellem ostenderes quare _hi_ non profligaverint _illos_? The
answer is brief: the Romans were _one_, the Greeks were _many_. Whilst
no weighty pressure from without had assaulted Greece, it was of
particular service to that little rascally system that they were split
into sections more than ever we _have_ counted or mean to count. They
throve by mutual repulsion, according to the ballad:

    When Captain X. kick'd Miss Roe, Miss Roe kick'd Captain X. again.'

Internally, for pleasant little domestic quarrels, the principle of
division was excellent; because, as often as the balance tended to
degravitation (a word we learned, as Juliet tells her nurse, 'from one
we danc'd withal'), _instanter_ it was redressed and trimmed by some
renegade going over to the suffering side. People talk of Athens being
beaten by the Spartans in the person of Lysander; and the vulgar notion
is, that the Peloponnesian war closed by an eclipse total and central
for our poor friend Athens. Nonsense! she had life left in her to kick
twenty such donkeys to death; and, if you look a very little ahead,
gazettes tell you, that before the peace of Antalcidas, those villains,
the Spartans (whom may heaven confound!) had been licked almost too
cruelly by the Athenians. And there it is that we insist upon closing
that one great intestine[18] war of the Greeks. So of other cases:
absolute defeat, final overthrow, we hold to be impossible for a Grecian
state, as against a Grecian state, under the conditions which existed
from the year 500 B.C. But when a foreign enemy came on, the
possibilities might alter. The foreigner, being one, and for the moment
at least united, would surely have a great advantage over the crowd of
little pestilent villains--right and left--that would be disputing the
policy of the case. There lay the original advantage of the Romans;
_one_ they were, and _one_ they were to the end of Roman time. Did you
ever hear of a Roman, unless it were Sertorius, that fought against
Romans? Whereas, scoundrel Greeks were always fighting against their
countrymen. Xenophon, in Persia, Alexander, seventy years later, met
with their chief enemies in Greeks. We may therefore pronounce with
firmness, that unity was one cause of the Roman superiority. What was
the other? Better military institutions. These, if we should go upon the
plan of rehearsing them, are infinite. But let us confine our view to
the separate mode in each people of combining their troops. In Greece,
the _phalanx_ was the ideal tactical arrangement; for Rome, the
_legion_. Everybody knows that Polybius, a Greek, who fled from the
Peloponnesus to Rome a little before the great Carthaginian war,
terminated by Scipio Africanus, has left a most interesting comparison
between the two forms of tactical arrangement: and, waiving the details,
the upshot is this--that the phalanx was a holiday arrangement, a
tournament arrangement, with respect to which you must suppose an excess
of luck if it could be made available, unless by mutual consent, under a
known possibility of transferring the field of battle to some smooth
bowling-green in the neighbourhood. But, on the other hand, the legion
was available everywhere. The _phalanx_ was like the organ, an
instrument almighty indeed where it can be carried; but it cost eight
hundred years to transfer it from Asia Minor to the court of Charlemagne
(_i.e._, Western Europe), so that it travelled at the rate of two miles
_per annum_; but the _legion_ was like the violin, less terrifically
tumultuous, but more infinite than the organ, whilst it is in a perfect
sense portable. Pitch your camp in darkness, on the next morning
everywhere you will find ground for the _legion_, but for the fastidious
_phalanx_ you need as much choice of ground as for the arena of an opera

And the same influence that had tended to keep the Greeks in division,
without a proper unity, operated also to infect the national character
at last with some lack of what may be called self-sufficiency. They were
in their later phases subtle, but compliant, more ready to adapt
themselves to changes than to assert a position and risk all in the
effort to hold it. Hence it came that even the most honourable and
upright amongst a nation far nobler in a moral sense (nobler, for
instance, on the scale of capacity for doing and suffering) never rose
to a sentiment of respect for the ordinary Grecian. The Romans viewed
him as essentially framed for ministerial offices. Am I sick? Come,
Greek, and cure me. Am I weary? Amuse me. Am I diffident of power to
succeed? Cheer me with flattery. Am I issuing from a bath? Shampoo me.

The point of view under which we contemplate the Romans is one which
cannot be dispensed with in that higher or transcendental study of
history now prompted by the vast ferment of the meditative mind. Oh,
feeble appreciators of the public mind, who can imagine even in dreams
that this generation--self-questioned, agitated, haunted beyond any
other by the elementary problems of our human condition, by the awful
_whence_ and the more awful _whither_, by what the Germans call the
'riddle of the universe,' and oppressed into a rebellious impatience by

        'The burthen of the mystery
    Of all this unintelligible world,'

--that this, above all generations, is shallow, superficial, unfruitful?
That was a crotchet of the late S. T. Coleridge's; that was a crotchet
of the present W. Wordsworth's, but which we will venture to guess that
he has now somewhat modified since this generation has become just to
himself. No; as to the multitude, in no age can it be other than
superficial. But we do contend, with intolerance and scorn of such
opposition as usually we meet, that the tendencies of this generation
are to the profound; that by all its natural leanings, and even by its
infirmities, it travels upwards on the line of aspiration and downwards
in the direction of the unfathomable. These tendencies had been
awakened and quickened by the vast convulsions that marked the close of
the last century. But war is a condition too restless for sustained
meditation. Even the years _after_ war, if that war had gathered too
abundantly the vintages of tears and tragedy and change, still rock and
undulate with the unsubsiding sympathies which wars such as we have
known cannot but have evoked. Besides that war is by too many issues
connected with the practical; the service of war, by the arts which it
requires, and the burthen of war, by the discussions which it prompts,
almost equally tend to alienate the public mind from the speculation
which looks beyond the interests of social life. But when a new
generation has grown up, when the forest trees of the elder generation
amongst us begin to thicken with the intergrowth of a younger shrubbery
that had been mere ground-plants in the æra of war, _then_ it is, viz.,
under the heavenly lull and the silence of a long peace, which in its
very uniformity and the solemnity of its silence has something analogous
to the sublime tranquillity of a Zaarrah, that minds formed for the
great inquests of meditation--feeling dimly the great strife which they
did not witness, and feeling it the more deeply because for _them_ an
idealized retrospect, and a retrospect besides being potently contrasted
so deeply with the existing atmosphere, peaceful as if it had never
known a storm--are stimulated preternaturally to those obstinate
questionings which belong of necessity to a complex state of society,
turning up vast phases of human suffering under all varieties, phases
which, having issued from a chaos of agitation, carry with them too
certain a promise of sooner or later revolving into a chaos of equal
sadness, universal strife. It is the relation of the immediate isthmus
on which we stand ourselves to a past and (prophetically speaking) to a
coming world of calamity, the relation of the smiling and halcyon calm
which we have inherited to that darkness and anarchy out of which it
arose, and towards which too gloomily we augur its return--this relation
it is which enforces the other impulses, whether many or few, connecting
our own transitional stage of society with objects always of the same
interest for man, but not felt to be of the same interest. The sun, the
moon, and still more the starry heavens alien to our own peculiar
system--what a different importance in different ages have they had for
man! To man armed with science and glasses, labyrinths of anxiety and
study; to man ignorant or barbarous less interesting than glittering
points of dew. At present those 'other impulses,' which the permanent
condition of modern society, so multitudinous and feverish, adds to the
meditative impulses of our particular and casual condition as respects a
terrific revolutionary war, are _not_ few, but many, and are all in one
direction, all favouring, none thwarting, the solemn fascinations by
which with spells and witchcraft the shadowy nature of man binds him
down to look for ever into this dim abyss. The earth, whom with
sublimity so awful the poet apostrophized after Waterloo, as 'perturbed'
and restless exceedingly, whom with a harp so melodious and beseeching
he adjured to rest--and again to rest from instincts of war so deep,
haunting the very rivers with blood, and slumbering not through
three-and-twenty years of woe--is again unsealed from slumber by the
mere reaction of the mighty past working together with the too probable
future and with the co-agencies from the unintelligible present. The
fervour and the strife of human thought is but the more subtle for
being less derived from immediate action, and more so from hieroglyphic
mysteries or doubts concealed in the very shows of life. The centres of
civilization seethe, as it were, and are ebullient with the agitation of
the self-questioning heart.

The fervour is universal; the tumult of intellectual man, self-tormented
with unfathomable questions, is contagious everywhere. And both from
what we know, it might be perceived _à priori_, and from what we see, it
may be known experimentally, that never was the mind of man roused into
activity so intense and almost morbid as in this particular stage of our
progress. And it has added enormously to this result--that it is
redoubled by our own consciousness of our own state so powerfully
enforced by modern inventions, whilst the consciousness again is
reverberated from a secondary mode of consciousness. All studies
prosper; all, with rare exceptions, are advancing only too impetuously.
Talent of every order is almost become a weed amongst us.

But this would be a most unreasonable ground for charging it upon our
time and country that they are unprogressive and commonplace. Nay,
rather, it is a ground for regarding the soil as more prepared for the
seed that is sown broadcast. And before our England lies an ample
possibility--to outstrip even Rome itself in the extent and the grandeur
of an empire, based on principles of progress and cohesion such as Rome
never knew.


_Civilization._--Now about prisoners, strange as this may seem, it
really is not settled whether and how far it is the duty in point of
honour and reasonable forbearance to make prisoners. At Quatre Bras very
few were made by the French, and the bitterness, the frenzy of hatred
which this marked, led of necessity to a reaction.

But the strangest thing of all is this, that in a matter of such a
nature it should be open to doubt and mystery whether it is or is not
contradictory, absurd, and cancellatory or obligatory to make prisoners.
Look here, the Tartars in the Christian war, not from cruelty--at least,
no such thing is proved--but from mere coercion of what they regarded as
good sense the Tartars thought it all a blank contradiction to take and
not kill enemies. It seemed equal to taking a tiger laboriously and at
much risk in a net, then next day letting him go. Strange it is to say,
but it really requires an express experience to show the true practical
working of the case, and this demonstrates (inconceivable as that would
have been to the Tartars) that the capture is quite equal (quoad damage
to the enemy) to the killing.

(1.) As to durability, was it so? The Arabs were not strong except
against those who were peculiarly weak; and even in Turkey the Christian
Rajah predominates.

(2.) As to bigotry and principles of toleration Mr. Finlay says--and we
do not deny that he is right in saying--they arose in the latter stages.
This, however, was only from policy, because it was not safe to be so;
and repressed only from caution.

(3) About the impetuosity of the Arab assaults. Not what people think.

(4.) About the permanence or continuance of this Mahometan system--we
confound the religious system with the political. The religious movement
engrafted itself on other nations, translated and inoculated itself upon
other political systems, and thus, viz., as a principle travelling
through or along new machineries, propagated itself. But here is a deep
delusion. What should we Europeans think of an Oriental historian who
should talk of the Christians amongst the Germans, English, French,
Spaniards, as a separate and independent nation? My friend, we should
say, you mistake that matter. The Christians are not a local tribe
having an insulated local situation amongst Germans, French, etc. The
Christians _are_ the English, Germans, etc., or the English, Germans,
French, _are_ the Christians. So do many readers confer upon the Moslems
or Mahometans of history a separate and independent unity.

(_a_) Greek administration had a vicarious support.

(_b_) Incapacity of Eastern nations to establish primogeniture.

(_c_) Incapacity of Eastern nations to be progressive.


[12] '_Lackington's counter_': Lackington, an extensive seller of old
books and a Methodist (see his _Confessions_) in London, viz., at the
corner of Finsbury Square, about the time of the French Revolution,
feeling painfully that this event drew more attention than himself,
resolved to turn the scale in his own favour by a _ruse_ somewhat
unfair. The French Revolution had no counter; he _had_, it was circular,
and corresponded to a lighted dome above. Round the counter on a summer
evening, like Phæton round the world, the Edinburgh, the Glasgow, the
Holyhead, the Bristol, the Exeter, and the Salisbury Royal Mails, all
their passengers on board, and canvas spread, swept in, swept round, and
swept out at full gallop; the proximate object being to publish the
grandeur of his premises, the ultimate object to publish himself.

[13] 'Dependent upon _physical_ circumstances,' and, amongst those
physical circumstances, intensely upon climate. The Jewish ordinances,
multiplied and burthensome as they must have been found under any
mitigations, have proved the awfulness (if we may so phrase it) of the
original projectile force which launched them by continuing to revolve,
and to propagate their controlling functions through forty centuries
under all latitudes to which any mode of civilization has reached. But
the _Greek_ machineries of social life were absolutely and essentially
limited by nature to a Grecian latitude. Already from the earliest
stages of their infancy the Greek cities or rural settlements in the
Tauric Chersonese, and along the shores (Northern and Eastern) of the
Black Sea, had been obliged to unrobe themselves of their native Grecian
costumes in a degree which materially disturbed the power of the Grecian
literature as an influence for the popular mind. This effect of a new
climate to modify the influence of a religion or the character of a
literature is noticed by Mr. Finlay. Temples open to the heavens,
theatres for noonday light and large enough for receiving 30,000
citizens--these could no longer be transplanted from sunny regions of
Hymettus to the churlish atmospheres which overcast with gloom so
perpetual poor Ovid's sketches of his exile. Cherson, it is true, in the
Tauric Chersonese, survived down to the middle of the tenth century; so
much is certain from the evidence of a Byzantine emperor; and Mr. Finlay
is disposed to think that this famous little colonial state retained her
Greek 'municipal organization.' If this could be proved, it would be a
very interesting fact; it is, at any rate, interesting to see this saucy
little outpost of Greek civilization mounting guard, as it were, at so
great a distance from the bulwark of Christianity (the city of
Constantine), under whose mighty shadow she had so long been sheltered,
and maintaining _by whatever means_ her own independence. But, if her
municipal institutions were truly and permanently Greek, then it would
be a fair inference that to a Grecian mechanism of society she had been
indebted for her Grecian tenacity of life. And this is Mr. Finlay's
inference. Otherwise, and for our own parts, we should be inclined to
charge her long tenure of independence upon her strong situation,
rendered for _her_ a thousand times stronger by the two facts of her
commerce in the first place, and secondly, of her commerce being
maritime. Shipping and trade seem to us the two anchors by which she

[14] 'Nook-shotten,' an epithet applied by Shakspeare to England.

[15] Christianity is a force of unity. But was Paganism such? No. To be
idolatrous is no bond of union.

[16] See Murder as one of the Fine Arts. (Postscript in 1854.)

[17] '_Under the same tactics_'--the tactics of 'refusing' her columns
to the enemy. On this subject we want an elaborate memoir
historico-geographical revising every stage of the Roman warfare in
Pers-Armenia, from Crassus and Ventidius down to Heraclius--a range of
six and a half centuries; and specifically explaining why it was that
almost always the Romans found it mere destruction to attempt a passage
much beyond the Tigris or into central Persia, whilst so soon after
Heraclius the immediate successors of Mahomet overflowed Persia like a

[18] 'Intestine war.' Many writers call the Peloponnesian war (by the
way, a very false designation) the great _civil_ war of Greece.
'Civil'!--it might have been such, had the Grecian states had a central
organ which claimed a common obedience.


The assassination of Cæsar, we find characterized in one of his latter
works (_Farbenlehre_, Theil 2, p. 126) by Goethe, as '_die
abgeschmackteste That die jemals begangen worden_'--_the most
outrageously absurd act that ever was committed_. Goethe is right, and
more than right. For not only was it an atrocity so absolutely without a
purpose as never to have been examined by one single conspirator with a
view to its probable tendencies--in that sense therefore it was absurd
as pointing to no result--but also in its immediate arrangements and
precautions it had been framed so negligently, with a carelessness so
total as to the natural rebounds and reflex effects of such a tragic
act, that the conspirators had neither organized any resources for
improving their act, nor for securing their own persons from the first
blind motions of panic, nor even for establishing a common rendezvous.
When they had executed their valiant exploit, the very possibility of
which from the first step to the last they owed to the sublime
magnanimity of their victim--well knowing his own continual danger, but
refusing to evade it by any arts of tyranny or distrust--when they had
gone through their little scenic mummery of swaggering with their
daggers--cutting '5,' '6' and 'St. George,' and 'giving point'--they had
come to the end of the play. _Exeunt omnes: vos plaudite_. Not a step
further had they projected. And, staring wildly upon each other, they
began to mutter, 'Well, what are you up to next?' We believe that no act
so thoroughly womanish, that is, moving under a blind impulse without a
thought of consequences, without a concerted succession of steps, and no
_arrière pensée_ as to its final improvement, ever yet had a place or
rating in the books of Conspiracy, far less was attended (as by accident
this was) with an equipage of earth-shattering changes. Even the poor
deluded followers of the Old Mountain Assassin, though drugged with
bewildering potions, such men as Sir Walter Scott describes in the
person of that little wily fanatic gambolling before the tent of Richard
_Coeur-de-lion_, had always settled which way they would run when the
work was finished. And how peculiarly this reach of foresight was
required for these anti-Julian conspirators--will appear from one fact.
Is the reader aware, were these boyish men aware, that--besides, what we
all know from Shakespeare, a mob won to Cæsar's side by his very last
codicils of his will; besides a crowd of public magistrates and
dependents charged upon the provinces, etc., for two years deep by
Cæsar's act, though in requital of no services or attachment to himself;
besides a distinct Cæsarian party; finally, besides Antony, the express
representative and assignee of Cæsar, armed at this moment with the
powers of Consul--there was over and above a great military officer of
Cæsar's (Lentulus), then by accident in Rome, holding a most potent
government through the mere favour of Cæsar, and pledged therefore by an
instant interest of self-promotion, backed by a large number of Julian
troops at that instant billeted on a suburb of Rome--veterans, and
fierce fellows that would have cut their own fathers' throats 'as soon
as say dumpling' (see Lucan's account of them in Cæsar's harangue before
Pharsalia)? Every man of sense would have predicted ruin to the
conspirators. '_You'll tickle it for your concupy_' (Thersites in 'Troil
and Cress.') would have been the word of every rational creature to
these wretches when trembling from their tremulous act, and reeking from
their bloody ingratitude. For most remarkable it is that not one
conspirator but was personally indebted to Cæsar for eminent favours;
and many among them had even received that life from their victim which
they employed in filching away _his_. Yet after that feature of the
case, so notorious as it soon became, historians and biographers are all
ready to notice of the centurion who amputated Cicero's head that, he
had once been defended by Cicero. What if he had, which is more than we
know--must _that_ operate as a perpetual retaining fee on Cicero's
behalf? Put the case that we found ourselves armed with a commission (no
matter whence emanating) for abscinding the head of Mr. Adolphus who now
pleads with so much lustre at the general jail delivery of London and
Middlesex, or the head of Mr. Serjeant Wild, must it bar our claim that
once Mr. Adolphus had defended us on a charge of sheep-stealing, or that
the Serjeant had gone down 'special' in our cause to York? Very well,
but doubtless they had their fees. 'Oh, but Cicero could not receive
fees by law.' Certainly not by law; but by custom many _did_ receive
them at dusk through some postern gate in the shape of a huge cheese, or
a guinea-pig. And, if the 'special retainer' from Popilius Lænas is
somewhat of the doubtfullest, so is the 'pleading' on the part of

However, it is not impossible but some will see in this desperate game
of hazard a sort of courage on the part of the conspirators which may
redeem their knavery. But the courage of desperation is seldom genuine,
and least of all where the desperation itself was uncalled for. Yet even
this sort of merit the conspirators wanted. The most urgent part of the
danger was that which in all probability they had not heard of, viz.,
the casual presence at Rome of Julian soldiers. Pursuing no inquiries at
all, they would hear not; practising no caution, they would keep no
secret. The plot had often been betrayed, we will swear: but Cæsar and
Cæsar's friends would look upon all such stories as the mere expressions
of a permanent case, so much inevitable exposure on _their_ part--so
much possibility of advantage redounding to the other side. And out of
these naked possibilities, as some temptation would continually arise to
use them profitably, much more would arise to use them as delightful
offsets to the sense of security and power.

     [Mommsen is more at one with De Quincey here than Merivale,
     who, at p. 478, vol. ii., writes: 'We learn with pleasure
     that the conspirators did not venture even to sound Cicero';
     but at vol. iii., p. 9, he has these significant words:
     'Cicero, himself, we must believe, was not ashamed to lament
     the scruples which had denied him initiation into the plot.'
     Forsyth writes of Cicero's views: 'He was more than ever
     convinced of the want of foresight shown by the
     conspirators. Their deed, he said, was the deed of men,
     their counsels were the counsels of children,' 'Life of
     Cicero,' 3rd edition, pp. 435-6.--ED.]


Some little official secrets we learn from the correspondence of Cicero
as Proconsul of Cilicia.[19] And it surprises us greatly to find a man,
so eminently wise in his own case, suddenly turning romantic on behalf
of a friend. How came it--that he or any man of the world should fancy
any substance or reality in the public enthusiasm for one whose
character belonged to a past generation? Nine out of ten amongst the
Campanians must have been children when Pompey's name was identified
with national trophies. For many years Pompey had done nothing to
sustain or to revive his obsolete reputation. Capua or other great towns
knew him only as a great proprietor. And let us ask this one searching
question--Was the poor spirit-broken insolvent, a character now so
extensively prevailing in Italian society, likely to sympathize more
heartily with the lordly oligarch fighting only for the exclusive
privileges of his own narrow order, or with the great reformer who
amongst a thousand plans for reinfusing vitality into Roman polity was
well understood to be digesting a large measure of relief to the
hopeless debtor? What lunacy to believe that the ordinary citizen,
crouching under the insupportable load of his usurious obligations,
could be at leisure to support a few scores of lordly senators
panic-stricken for the interests of their own camarilla, when he
beheld--taking the field on the opposite quarter--one, the greatest of
men, who spoke authentically to all classes alike, authorizing all to
hope and to draw their breath in freedom under that general recast of
Roman society which had now become inevitable! As between such
competitors, which way would the popularity be likely to flow? Naturally
the mere merits of the competition were decisive of the public opinion,
although the petty aristocracy of the provincial boroughs availed
locally to stifle those tumultuous acclamations which would else have
gathered about the name of Cæsar. But enough transpired to show which
way the current was setting. Cicero does not dissemble that. He
acknowledges that all men's hopes turned towards Cæsar. And Pompey, who
was much more forced into towns and public scenes, had even less
opportunity for deceiving himself. He, who had fancied all Campania
streaming with incense to heaven on his own personal account, now made
the misanthropical discovery--not only that all was hollow, and that his
own name was held in no esteem--but absolutely that the barrier to any
hope of popularity for himself was that very man whom, on other and
previous grounds, he had for some time viewed as his own capital

Here then, in this schism of the public affections, and in the
mortifying discovery so abruptly made by Pompey, lay the bitter affront
which he could not digest--the injury which he purposed to avenge. What
barbed this injury to his feelings, what prepared him for exhausting
its bitterness, was the profound delusion in which he had been
previously laid asleep by flattering friends--the perfect faith in his
own uniform popularity. And now, in the very teeth of all current
representations, we advance this proposition: That the quality of his
meditated revenge and its horrid extent were what originally unveiled to
Cicero's eyes the true character of Pompey and his partisans.

       *       *       *       *       *

The last letter of the sixth book is written from Athens, which city,
after a voyage of about a fortnight, Cicero reached precisely in the
middle of October, having sailed out of Ephesus on the 1st. He there
found a letter from Atticus, dated from Rome on the 18th of September;
and his answer, which was 'by return of post,' closes with these words:
'Mind that you keep your promise of writing to me fully about my darling
Tullia,' which means of course about her new husband Dolabella; next
about the Commonwealth, which by this time I calculate must be entering
upon its agony; and then about the Censors, etc. Hearken: 'This letter
is dated on the 16th of October; that day on which, by your account,
Cæsar is to reach Placentia with four legions. What, I ask myself for
ever, is to become of us? My own situation at this moment, which is in
the Acropolis of Athens, best meets my idea of what is prudent under the

Well it would have been for Cicero's peace of mind if he could seriously
have reconciled himself to abide by that specular station. Had he
pleaded ill-health, he might have done so with decorum. As it was,
thinking his dignity concerned in not absenting himself from the public
councils at a season so critical, after a few weeks' repose he sailed
forward to Italy, which he reached on the 23rd of November. And with
what result? Simply to leave it again with difficulty and by stratagem,
after a winter passed in one continued contest with the follies of his
friends, nothing done to meet his own sense of the energy required,
every advantage forfeited as it arose, ruined in the feeble execution,
individual activity squandered for want of plan, and (as Cicero
discovered in the end) a principle of despair, and _the secret reserve
of a flight operating_ upon the leaders _from the very beginning_. The
key to all this is obvious for those who read with their eyes awake.
Pompey and the other consular leaders were ruined for action by age and
by the derangement of their digestive organs. Eating too much and too
luxuriously is far more destructive to the energies of action than
intemperance as to drink. Women everywhere alike are temperate as to
eating; and the only females memorable for ill-health from luxurious
eating have been Frenchwomen or Belgians--witness the Duchess of
Portsmouth, and many others of the two last centuries whom we could
name. But men everywhere commit excesses in this respect, if they have
it in their power. With the Roman nobles it was almost a necessity to do
so. Could any popular man evade the necessity of keeping a splendid
dinner-table? And is there one man in a thousand who can sit at a festal
board laden with all the delicacies of remotest climates, and continue
to practise an abstinence for which he is not sure of any reward? All
his abstinence may be defeated by a premature fate, and in the meantime
he is told, with some show of reason, that a life defrauded of its
genial enjoyments is _not_ life, is at all events a present loss, whilst
the remuneration is doubtful, except where there happen to be powerful
intellectual activities to reap an _instant_ benefit from such
sacrifices. Certainly it is the last extremity of impertinence to attack
men's habits in this respect. No man, we may be assured, has ever yet
practised any true self-denial in such a case, or ever will. Either he
has been trained under a wholesome poverty to those habits which
intercept the very development of a taste for luxuries, which evade the
very possibility therefore of any; or if this taste has once formed
itself, he would find it as impossible in this as in any other case to
maintain a fight with a temptation recurring _daily_. Pompey certainly
could not. He was of a slow, torpid nature through life; required a
continual supply of animal stimulation, and, if he had _not_ required
it, was assuredly little framed by nature for standing out against an
_artificial_ battery of temptation. There is proof extant that his
system was giving way under the action of daily dinners. Cicero mentions
the fact of his suffering from an annual illness; what may be called the
_etesian_ counter-current from his intemperance. Probably the liver was
enlarged, and the pylorus was certainly not healthy. Cicero himself was
not free from dyspeptic symptoms. If he had survived the Triumvirate, he
would have died within seven years from some disease of the intestinal
canal. Atticus, we suspect, was troubled with worms. Locke, indeed, than
whom no man ever less was acquainted with Greek or Roman life, pretends
that the ancients seldom used a pocket-handkerchief; knew little of
catarrhs, and even less of what the French consider indigenous to this
rainy island--_le catch-cold_. Nothing can be more unfounded. Locke was
bred a physician, but his practice had been none; himself and the cat
were his chief patients. Else we, who are no physicians, would wish to
ask him--what meant those continual _febriculæ_ to which all Romans of
rank were subject? What meant that _fluenter lippire_, a symptom so
troublesome to Cicero's eyes, and always arguing a functional, if not
even an organic, derangement of the stomach? Take this rule from us,
that wherever the pure white of the eye is clouded, or is veined with
red streaks, or wherever a continual weeping moistens the eyelashes,
there the digestive organs are touched with some morbid affection,
probably in it's early stages; as also that the inferior viscera, _not_
the stomach, must be slightly disordered before toothache _can_ be an
obstinate affection. And as to _le catch-cold_, the-most dangerous shape
in which it has ever been known, resembling the English _cholera
morbus_, belongs to the modern city of Rome from situation; and probably
therefore to the ancient city from the same cause. Pompey, beyond all
doubt, was a wreck when he commenced the struggle.

Struggle, conflict, for a man who needed to be in his bed! And struggle
with whom? With that man whom his very enemies viewed as a monster
([Greek: teras] is Cicero's own word), as preternaturally endowed, in
this quality of working power. But how then is it consistent with our
view of Roman dinners, that Cæsar should have escaped the universal
scourge? We reply, that one man is often stronger than another; every
man is stronger in some one organ; and secondly, Cæsar had lived away
from Rome through the major part of the last ten years; and thirdly, the
fact that Cæsar _had_ escaped the contagion of dinner luxury, however it
may be accounted for, is attested in the way of an exception to the
general order of experience, and with such a degree of astonishment, as
at once to prove the general maxim we have asserted, and the special
exemption in favour of Cæsar. He _only_, said Cato, he, as a
contradiction to all precedents--to the Gracchi, to Marius, to Cinna, to
Sylla, to Catiline--had come in a state of temperance (_sobrius_) to the
destruction of the state; not meaning to indicate mere superiority to
wine, but to _all_ modes of voluptuous enjoyment. Cæsar practised, it is
true, a refined epicureanism under the guidance of Greek physicians, as
in the case of his emetics; but this was by way of evading any gross
effects from a day of inevitable indulgence, not by way of aiding them.
Besides, Pompey and Cicero were about seven years older than Cæsar. They
stood upon the threshold of their sixtieth year at the _opening_ of the
struggle; Cæsar was a hale young man of fifty-two. And we all know that
Napoleon at forty-two was incapacitated for Borodino by incipient
disease of the stomach; so that from that day he, though junior by
seventeen years to Pompey, yet from Pompey's self-indulgence (not
certainly in splendid sensuality, but in the gross modes belonging to
his obscure youth) was pronounced by all the judicious, superannuated as
regarded the indispensable activity of martial habits. If he cannot face
the toils of military command, said his officers, why does he not
retire? Why does he not make room for others? Neither was the campaign
of 1813 or 1814 any refutation of this. Infinite are the cases in which
the interests of nations or of armies have suffered through the dyspepsy
of those who administered them. And above all nations the Romans laid
themselves open to this order of injuries from a dangerous oversight in
their constitutional arrangements, which placed legal bars on the
youthful side of all public offices, but none on the aged side. Of all
nations the Romans had been most indebted to men emphatically young; of
all nations they, by theory, most exclusively sanctioned the pretensions
of old ones. Not before forty-three could a man stand for the
consulship; and we have just noticed a case where a man of pestilent
activity in our own times had already become dyspeptically incapable of
command at forty-two. Besides, after laying down his civil office
(which, by itself, was often in the van of martial perils), the consul
had to pass into some province as military leader, with the prospect by
possibility of many years' campaigning. It is true that some men far
anticipated the legal age in assuming offices, honours, privileges. But
this, being always by infraction of fundamental laws, was no subject of
rejoicing to a patriotic Roman. And the Roman folly at this very crisis,
in trusting one side of the quarrel to an elderly, lethargic invalid,
subject to an annual struggle for his life, was appropriately punished
by that catastrophe which six years after threw them into the hands of a

Yet on the other hand it may be asked, by those who carry the proper
spirit of jealousy into their historical reading, was Cicero always
right in these angry comments upon Pompey's strategies? Might it not be,
that where Cicero saw nothing but groundless procrastination, in reality
the obstacle lay in some overwhelming advantage of Cæsar's? That, where
his reports to Atticus read the signs of the time into the mere panic of
a Pompey, some more impartial report would see nothing to wonder at but
the overcharged expectations of a Cicero? Sometimes undoubtedly this is
the plain truth. Pompey's disadvantages were considerable; he had no
troops upon which he could rely; that part which had seen service
happened to be a detachment from Cæsar's army, sent home as a pledge for
his civic intentions at an earlier period, and their affection was still
lively to their original leader. The rest were raw levies. And it is a
remarkable fact, that the insufficiency of such troops was only now
becoming matter of notoriety. In foreign service, where the Roman
recruits were incorporated with veterans, as the natives in our Eastern
army, with a small proportion of British to steady them, they often
behaved well, and especially because they seldom acted against an enemy
that was not as raw as themselves. But now, in civil service against
their own legions, it was found that the mere novice was worth nothing
at all; a fact which had not been fully brought out in the strife of
Marius and Sylla, where Pompey had himself played a conspicuous and
cruel part, from the tumultuary nature of the contest; besides which the
old legions were then by accident as much concentrated on Italian ground
as now they were dispersed in transmarine provinces. Of the present
Roman army, ten legions at least were scattered over Macedonia, Achaia,
Cilicia, and Syria; five were in Spain; and six were with Cæsar, or
coming up from the rear. To say nothing of the forces locked up in
Sicily, Africa, Numidia, etc. It was held quite unadvisable by Pompey's
party to strip the distant provinces of their troops, or the great
provincial cities of their garrisons. All these were accounted as so
many reversionary chances against Cæsar. But certainly a bolder game was
likely to have prospered better; had large drafts from all these distant
armies been ordered home, even Cæsar's talents might have been
perplexed, and his immediate policy must have been so far baffled as to
force him back upon Transalpine Gaul. Yet if such a plan were eligible,
it does not appear that Cicero had ever thought of it; and certainly it
was not Pompey, amongst so many senatorial heads, who could be blamed
for neglecting it. Neglect he did; but Pompey had the powers of a
commander-in-chief for the immediate arrangements; but in the general
scheme of the war he, whose game was to call himself the servant of the
Senate, counted but for one amongst many concurrent authorities.
Combining therefore his limited authority with his defective materials,
we cannot go along with Cicero in the whole bitterness of his censure.
The fact is, no cautious scheme whatever, no practicable scheme could
have kept pace with Cicero's burning hatred to Cæsar. 'Forward, forward!
crush the monster; stone him, stab him, hurl him into the sea!' This was
the war-song of Cicero for ever; and men like Domitius, who shared in
his hatreds, as well as in his unseasonable temerity, by precipitating
upon Cæsar troops that were unqualified for the contest, lost the very
_élite_ of the Italian army at Corfinium; and such men were soon found
to have been embarked upon the ludicrous enterprise of 'catching a
Tartar;' following and seeking those

                        'Quos opimus
    Fallere et effugere est triumphus.'



Bribery was it? which had been so organized as the sole means of
succeeding at elections, and which, once rendered necessary as the organ
of assertion for each man's birthright, became legitimate; in which
Cicero himself declared privately that there was '[Greek: exochê] in
nullo,' no sort of pre-eminence, one as bad as another, _pecunia
exaequet omnium dignitatem_. Money was the universal leveller. Was it
gladiators bought for fighting with? These were bought by his friend
Milo as well as his enemy Clodius, by Sextus Pompey on one side as much
as by Cæsar on the other. Was it neglect of _obnunciatio_? And so far as
regards treating, Cicero himself publicly justified it against the
miserable theatrical Cato. How ridiculous to urge that against a popular
man as a crime, when it was sometimes enjoined by the Senate with
menaces as a duty! Was it the attacking all obnoxious citizens' houses?
That was done by one side quite as much as by the other, and signifies
little, for the attack always fell on some leading man in wealth; and
such a man's house was a fortress. Was it accepting provinces from the
people? Cicero would persuade us that this was an unheard of crime in
Clodius. But how came it that so many others did the same thing? Nay,
that the Senate abetted them in doing it; saying to such a person, 'Oh,
X., we perceive that you have extorted from the people.'


Then his being recalled; what if a man should say that his nephew was
for it, and all his little nieces, not to mention his creditors? The
Senate were for it. But why not? Had the Senate exiled him? And,
besides, he was their agent.


It was 'an impious bargain' are the words of Middleton, and Deiotarus
who broke it was a prince of noble character. What was he noble for? We
never heard of anything very noble that he did; and we doubt whether Dr.
Conyers knew more about him than we. But we happen to know why he calls
him noble. Cicero, who long afterwards came to know this king personally
and gave him a good dinner, says now upon hearsay (for he had then never
been near him, and could have no accounts of him but from the wretched
Quintus) that _in eo multa regia fuerunt_. Why yes, amputating heads was
in those parts a very regal act. But what he chiefly had in his eye,
comes out immediately after. Speaking to Clodius, he says that the visit
of this king was so bright, _maxime quod tibi nullum nummum dedit_.


Wicked Middleton says that Cicero followed his conscience in following
Pompey and the cause approved by what in the odious slang of his own
days he calls 'the honest men.' But be it known unto him that he tells a
foul falsehood. He followed his personal gratitude. This he is careful
to say over and over again. Some months before he had followed what he
deemed the cause of the Commonwealth and of the _boni_. The _boni_ were
vanished, he sought them and found only a heap of selfish nobles, half
crazy with fear and half crazy with pride. These were gone, but Pompey
the man remained that he clung to. And in his heart of hearts was
another feeling--hatred to Cæsar.


403. 'Cicero had only stept aside' was the technical phrase for lurking
from creditors. So Bishop Burnet of Sir Edmondbury Godfrey, it was
thought he might have stept aside for debt.


[19] Cicero entered on the office of Proconsul of Cilicia on the last
day of July, 703 A.U.C.; he resigned it on the last day but one of July,


I. _The Main Subject Opened._ What is Chronology, and how am I to teach
it? The _what_ is poorly appreciated, and chiefly through the defects of
the _how_. Because it is so ill-taught, therefore in part it is that
Chronology is so unattractive and degraded. Chronology is represented to
be the handmaid of history. But unless the machinery for exhibiting this
is judicious, the functions, by being obscured, absolutely lose all
their value, flexibility, and attraction. Chronology is not meant only
to enable us to refer each event to its own particular era--that may be
but trivial knowledge, of little value and of slight significance in its
application; but chronology has higher functions. It teaches not only
when A happened, but also with what other events, B, C, or D, it was
associated. It may be little to know that B happened 500 years before
Christ, but it may be a most important fact that A and B happened
concurrently with D, that both B and D were prepared by X, and that
through their concurrent operation arose the ultimate possibility of Z.
The mere coincidences or consecutions, mere accidents of simultaneity or
succession, of precession or succession, maybe less than nothing. But
the co-operation towards a common result, or the relation backwards to a
common cause, may be so important as to make the entire difference
between a story book, on the one hand, and a philosophic history, on the
other, of man as a creature.

History is not an anarchy; man is not an accident. The very motions of
the heavenly bodies for many a century were thought blind and without
law. Now we have advanced so far into the light as to perceive the
elaborate principles of their order, the original reason of their
appearing, the stupendous equipoise of their attraction and repulsion,
the divine artifice of their compensations, the original ground of their
apparent disorder, the enormous system of their reactions, the almost
infinite intricacy of their movements. In these very anomalies lies the
principle of their order. A curve is long in showing its elements of
fluxion; we must watch long in order to compute them; we must wait in
order to know the law of their relations and the music of the deep
mathematical principles which they obey. A piece of music, again, from
the great hand of Mozart or Beethoven, which seems a mere anarchy to the
dull, material mind, to the ear which is instructed by a deep
sensibility reveals a law of controlling power, determining its
movements, its actions and reactions, such as cannot be altogether
hidden, even when as yet it is but dimly perceived.

So it is in history, though the area of its interest is yet wider, and
the depths to which it reaches more profound; all its contradictory
phenomena move under one embracing law, and all its contraries shall
finally be solved in the clear perception of this law.

       *       *       *       *       *

Reading and study ill-conducted run to waste, and all reading and study
are ill-conducted which do not plant the result as well as the fact or
date in the memory. With no form of knowledge is this more frequently
the case than with history. Such is the ill-arranged way of telling all
stories, and so perfectly without organization is the record of history,
that of what is of little significance there is much, and of what is of
deep and permanent signification there is little or nothing.

The first step in breaking ground upon this almost impracticable
subject, is--to show the student a true map of the field in which his
labours are to lie. Most people have a vague preconception, peopling the
fancy with innumerable shadows, of some vast wilderness or Bilidulgerid
of trackless time, over which are strewed the wrecks of events without
order, and persons without limit. _Omne ignotum_, says Tacitus, _pro
magnifico_; that is, everything which lies amongst the shades and
darkness of the indefinite, and everything which is in the last degree
confused, seems infinite. But the gloom of uncertainty seems far greater
than it really is.

One short distribution and circumscription of historical ages will soon
place matters in a more hopeful aspect. Fabulous history ceases, and
authentic history commences, just three-quarters of a millennium before
Jesus Christ; that is, just 750 years. Let us call this space of time,
viz., the whole interval from the year 750 B.C. up to the Incarnation of
Christ, the first chamber of history. I do not mean that precisely 750
years before our Saviour's birth, fabulous and mythological history
started like some guilty thing at the sound of a cock-crowing, and
vanished as with the sound of harpies' wings. It vanished as the natural
darkness of night vanishes. A stealthy twilight first began to divide
and give shape to the formless shadows: what previously had been one
blank mass of darkness began to break into separate forms: outlines
became perceptible, groups of figures started forward into relief; chaos
began to shape and organize its gloomy masses. Next, and by degrees,
came on the earliest dawn. This ripened imperceptibly into a rosy aurora
that gave notice of some mightier power approaching. And at length, but
not until the age of Cyrus, five centuries and a half before Christ,
precisely one century later, the golden daylight of authentic history
sprang above the horizon and was finally established. Since that time,
whatever want of light we may have to lament is due to the _loss_ of
records, not to their original _absence_; due to the victorious
destructions of time, not[20] to the error of the human mind confounding
the provinces of Fable and of History.

Let the first chamber of history therefore be that which stretches from
the year 750 B.C. to the era of His Incarnation. I say 750 for the
present, because it would be quite idle, in dealing with intervals of
time so vast, to take notice of any little excess or defect by which the
actual period differed from the ideal; strictly speaking, the period of
authentic history commences sixteen or seventeen years earlier. But for
the present let us say in round numbers that this period commenced 750
years B.C. And let the first chamber of history be of that duration.

B. Next let us take an equal space _after_ Christ. This will be the
second chamber of history. Starting from the birth of our Saviour, it
will terminate in the middle of the eighth century, or in the early
years of Charlemagne. These surely are most remarkable eras.

C. Then passing for the present without explanation to the year 1100 for
the first Crusade, let us there fix one foot of our 'golden compasses,'
and with the other mark off an equal period of 750 years. This carries
us up nearly to the reign of George III, of England. And this will be
the third great chamber of history.

D. Fourthly, there will now remain a period just equal to one-half of
such a chamber, viz.: 350 years between Charlemagne's cradle and the
first Crusade, the terminal era of the second chamber and the inaugural
era of the third. This we will call the ante-chamber of No. 3.

Now, upon reviewing these chambers and antechambers, the first important
remark for the student is, that the second chamber is nearly empty of
all incidents. Take away the migrations and invasions of the several
Northern nations who overran the Western Empire, broke it up, and laid
the foundations of the great nations of Christendom--England, France,
Spain--and take away the rise of Mahommedanism, and there would remain
scarcely anything memorable.

From all this we draw the following inference: that memory is, in
certain cases, connected with great effort, in others, with no effort at
all. Of one class we may say, that the facts absolutely deposit
themselves in the memory; they settle in our memories as a sediment or
deposition from a liquor settles in a glass; of another we may say that
the facts cannot maintain their place in the memory without continued
exertion, and with something like violence to natural tendencies. Now,
beyond all other facts, the facts of dates are the most severely of this
latter class. Oftentimes the very actions or sufferings of a man,
empire, army, are hard to be remembered because they are
non-significant, non-characteristic: they belong by no more natural or
intellectual right to that man, empire, army, than to any other man,
empire, army. We remember, for instance, the simple diplomacy of Greece,
when she summoned all States to the grand duty of exterminating the
barbarian from her limits, and throwing back the tides of barbarism
within its natural limits; for this appealed to what was noblest in
human nature. We forget the elaborate intrigues which preceded the
Peloponnesian war, for these appealed only to vulgar and ordinary
motives of self-aggrandisement. We remember the trumpet voice which
summoned Christendom to deliver Christ's sepulchre from Pagan insults,
for that was the great romance of religious sentiment. But we forget the
treaties by which this or that Crusading king delivered his army from
Mahometan victors, because these proceeded on the common principles of
fear and self-interest; principles having no peculiar relation to those
from which the Crusades had arisen.

Now, if even actions themselves are easily dropped from the memory,
because they stand in no logical relation to the central interest
concerned, how much more and how universally must dates be liable to
oblivion--dates which really have no more discoverable connection with
any name of man or place or event, than the letters or syllables of
that name have with the great cause or principles with which it may
happen to have been associated. Why should Themistocles or Aristides
have flourished 500 B.C., rather than 250, 120, or any other number of
years? No conceivable relation--hardly so much as any fanciful
relation--can be established between the man and his era. And in this
one (to all appearance insuperable) difficulty, in this absolute defect
of all connection between the two objects that are to be linked together
in the memory, lies the startling task of Chronology. Chronology is
required to chain together--and so that one shall inevitably recall the
other--a name and an era which with regard to each other are like two
clouds, aerial, insulated, mutually repulsive, and throwing out no
points for grappling or locking on, neither offering any natural
indications of interconnection, nor apparently by art, contrivance,[21]
or fiction, susceptible of any.

II. _Jewish as compared with other records._--Let us open our review
with the annals of Judea; and for two reasons: first, because in the
order of time it _was_ the inaugural chapter, so that the order of our
rehearsal does but conform to the order of the facts; secondly, because
on another principle of arrangement, viz., its relation to the capital
interests of human nature, it stands first in another sense by a degree
which cannot be measured.

These are two advantages, in comparison with all other history whatever,
which have crowned the Jewish History with mysterious glory, and of
these the pupil should be warned in her introductory lesson. The first
is: that the Jewish annals open by one whole millennium before all other
human records. Full a thousand years had the chronicles of the Hebrew
nation been in motion and unfolding that sublime story, fitter for the
lyre and the tumultuous organ, than for unimpassioned recitation, before
the earliest whispers of the historic muse began to stir in any other
land. Amongst Pagan nations, Greece was the very foremost to attempt
that almost impracticable object under an imperfect civilization--the
art of fixing in forms not perishable, and of transmitting to distant
generations, her social revolutions.[22] She wanted paper through her
earlier periods, she wanted typographic art, she wanted, above all,
other resources for such a purpose--the art of reading as a national
accomplishment. How could people record freely and fervently, with
Hebrew rapture, those events which must be painfully chiselled out in
marble, or expensively ploughed and furrowed into brazen tablets? What
freedom to the motions of human passion, where an _extra_ word or two of
description must be purchased by a day's labour? But, above all, what
motive could exist for the accumulation or the adequate diffusion of
records, howsoever inscribed, on slabs of marble or of bronze, on
leather, or plates of wood, whilst as yet no general machinery of
education had popularized the art of reading? Until the age of Pericles
each separate Grecian city could hardly have furnished three citizens on
an average able to read. Amongst a people so illiterate, how could
manuscripts or manu_sculpts_ excite the interest which is necessary to
their conservation? Of what value would a shipload of harps prove to a
people unacquainted with the science or the practical art of music? Too
much or too little interest alike defeat this primary purpose of the
record. Records must be _self_-conservative before they can be applied
to the conservation of events. Amongst ourselves the _black-letter_
records of English heroes by Grafton and Hollinshed, of English voyagers
by Hakluyt, of English martyrs by Fox, perished in a very unusual
proportion by excessive use through successive generations of readers:
but amongst the Greeks they would have perished by neglect. The too much
of the English usage and the too little of the Grecian would have tended
to the same result. Books and the art of reading must ever be powerful
re-agents--each upon the other: until books were multiplied, there could
be no general accomplishment of reading. Until the accomplishment was
taken up into the system of education, books insculptured by painful
elaboration upon costly substances must be too much regarded as
jewellery to obtain a domestic value for the mass.

The problem, therefore, was a hard one for Greece--to devise any art,
power or machinery for fixing and propagating the great memorials of
things and persons. Each generation as it succeeded would more and more
furnish subjects for the recording pen of History, yet each in turn was
compelled to see them slipping away like pearls from a fractured
necklace. It seems easy, but in practice it must be nearly impossible,
to take aim, as it were, at a remote generation--to send a sealed letter
down to a posterity two centuries removed--or by any human resources,
under the Grecian conditions of the case, to have a chance of clearing
that vast bridgeless gulf which separates the present from the far-off
ages of perfect civilization. Maddening it must have been to know by
their own experience, derived from the far-off past, that no monuments
had much chance of duration, except precisely those small ones of medals
and sculptured gems, which, if durable by metallic substance and
interesting by intrinsic value, were in the same degree more liable to
loss by shipwreck, fire, or other accidents applying to portable things,
but above all furnished no field for more than an intense
abstractiveness. The Iliad arose, as we shall say, a thousand years
before Christ, consequently it bisected precisely the Hebrew history
which arose two thousand years before the same era. Now the Iliad was
the very first historic record of the Greeks, and it was followed at
intervals by many other such sections of history, in the shape of
_Nostoi_, poems on the homeward adventures of the Greek heroes returning
from Troy, or of Cyclical Poems taking a more comprehensive range of
action from the same times, filling up the interspace of 555 years
between this memorable record of the one great Pagan Crusade[23] at the
one limit, and the first Greek prose history--that of Herodotus--at the
lower limit. Even through a space of 555 years _subsequent_ to the
Iliad, which has the triple honour of being the earliest Greek book, the
earliest Greek poem, the earliest Greek history, we see the Grecian
annals but imperfectly sustained; legends treated with a legendary
variety; romances embroidered with romantic embellishments; poems,
which, if Greek narrative poetry allowed of but little fiction and
sternly rejected all pure invention, yet originally rested upon
semi-fabulous and mythological marvels, and were thus far poetic in the
basis, that when they durst not invent they could still garble by
poetical selection where they chose; and thus far lying--that if they
were compelled to conform themselves to the popular traditions which
must naturally rest upon a pedestal of fact, it was fact as seen through
an atmosphere of superstition, and imperceptibly modified by priestly

The sum, therefore, of our review is, that one thousand [1,000] years
B.C. did the earliest Grecian record appear, being also the earliest
Greek poem, and this poem being the earliest Greek book; secondly, that
for the five-hundred-and-fifty-five [555] years subsequent to the
earliest record, did the same legendary form of historic composition
continue to subsist. On the other hand, as a striking antithesis to this
Grecian condition of history, we find amongst the Hebrews a
circumstantial deduction of their annals from the very nativity of their
nation--that is, from the birth of the Patriarch Isaac, or, more
strictly, of his son the Patriarch Jacob--down to the captivity of the
two tribes, their restoration by Cyrus, and the dedication of the Second
Temple. This Second Temple brings us abreast of Herodotus, the first
Greek historian. Fable with the Greeks is not yet distinguished from
fact, but a sense of the distinction is becoming clearer.

The privileged use of the word Crusade, which we have ventured to make
with reference to the first great outburst of Greek enthusiasm, suggests
a grand distinction, which may not unreasonably claim some illustration,
so deep does it reach in exhibiting the contrast between the character
of the early annals of the Hebrews and those of every other early

Galilee and Joppa, and Nazareth, Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives--what
a host of phantoms, what a resurrection from the graves of twelve and
thirteen centuries for the least reflecting of the army, had his mission
connected him no further with these objects than as a traveller passing
amongst them. But when the nature of his service was considered, the
purposes with which he allied himself, and the vindicating which he
supported, many times as a volunteer--the dullest natures must have been
penetrated, the lowest exalted.[24]

To this grand passion of religious enthusiasm stands opposed, according
to the general persuasion, the passion, equally exalted, or equally open
to exaltation, of love. 'So the whole ear of Denmark is abused.' Love,
chivalrous love, love in its noblest forms, was a passion unknown to the
Greeks; as we may well suppose in a country where woman was not
honoured, not esteemed, not treated with the confidence which is the
basis of all female dignity. However, this subject I shall leave
untouched: simply reminding the reader that even conceding for a moment
so monstrous an impossibility as that pure chivalrous love, as it exists
under Christian institutions, could have had an existence in the Greece
of 1000 B.C.; the more elevated, the more tender it was, the less fitted
it could be for the coarse air of a camp. The holy sepulchre would
command reverence, and the expression of reverence, from the lowest
sutler of the camp; but we may easily imagine what coarse jests would
eternally surround the name of Helen amongst the Greek soldiery, and
everything connected with the cause which drew them into the field.

Yet even this coarse travesty of a noble passion was a higher motive
than the Greeks really obeyed in the war with Troy. England, it has been
sometimes said, went to war with Spain, during George II.'s reign, on
account of Capt. Jenkins's ears, which a brutal Spanish officer, in the
cowardly abuse of his power, had nailed to the mast. And if she did, the
cause was a noble one, however unsuitably expounded by its outward
heraldry. There the cause was noble, though the outward sign was below
its dignity. But in the Iliad, if we may give that name to the total
expedition against Troy and the Troad, the relations were precisely
inverted. Its outward sign, its ostensible purpose, was noble: for it
was woman. _But the real and sincere motive which collected fifty
thousand Grecians under one common banner, was_ (I am well assured upon
meditation) _money--money, and money's worth_. No less motive in that
age was adequate to the effect. Helen was, assuredly, no such prize
considering her damaged reputation and other circumstances. Revenge
might intermingle in a very small proportion with the general principle
of the war; as to the oath and its obligation, which is supposed to have
bound over the princes of Greece: that I suppose to be mere cant; for
how many princes were present in the field that never could have been
suitors to Helen, nor parties to the oath? Do we suppose old Nestor to
have been one? A young gentleman 'rising' 99, as the horse-jockeys say;
or by some reckonings, 113! No, plunder was the object.

The truth was this--the plain historic truth for any man not wilfully
blind--Greece was miserably poor; that we know by what we find five
centuries after, when she must, like other people who find little else
to do, have somewhat bettered her condition. Troy and the Troad were
redundantly rich; it was their great crime to be so. Already the western
coast of Asia Minor was probably studded with Greek colonies, standing
in close connection with the great capitals on the Euphrates or the
Tigris, and sharing in the luxurious wealth of the great capitals on the
Euphrates or the Tigris. Mitford most justly explained the secret
history of Cæsar's expedition to England out of his wish to find a new
slave country.[25] And after all the romantic views of the Grecian
expedition to the Troad, I am satisfied we should look for its true
solution in the Greek poverty and the wealth--both _locally
concentrated_ and _portable_--of the Trojans. Land or cities were things
too much diffused: and even the son of Peleus or of Telamon could not
put them into his pocket. But golden tripods, purple hangings or robes,
fine horses, and beautiful female slaves could be found over the
Hellespont. Helen, the _materia litis_, the subject of quarrel on its
earliest pretence, could not be much improved by a ten years' blockade.
But thousands of more youthful Helens were doubtless carried back to
Greece. And in this prospect of booty most assuredly lay the unromantic
motive of the sole romantic expedition amongst the Greeks.

III. _Oriental History._--We here set aside the earlier tangle of legend
and fact which is called Oriental History, and for these reasons: (1)
instead of promoting the solution of chronological problems, Oriental
history is itself the most perplexing of those problems; (2) the
perpetual straining after a high fabulous antiquity amongst the nations
of the east, vitiates all the records; (3) the vast empires into which
the plains of Asia moulded the eastern nations, allowed of no such
rivalship as could serve to check their legends by collateral
statements; and (4) were all this otherwise, still the great permanent
schism of religion and manners has so effectually barred all coalition
between Europe and Asia, from the oldest times, that of necessity their
histories have flowed apart with little more reciprocal reference or
relationship, than exists between the Rhine and the Danube--rivers,
which almost meeting in their sources, ever after are continually
widening their distance until they fall into different seas two thousand
miles apart. Asia never, at any time, much acted upon Europe; and when
later ages had forced them into artificial connections, it was always
Europe that acted upon Asia; never Asia, upon any commensurate scale,
that acted upon Europe.[26]

Not, therefore, in Asia can the first footsteps of chronology be sought;
not in Africa, because, _first_, the records of Egypt, so far as any
have survived, are intensely Asiatic; liable to the same charge of
hieroglyphic ambiguity combined with the exaggerations of outrageous
nationality; because, _secondly_, the separate records of the adjacent
State of Cyrene have perished; because, _thirdly_, the separate records
of the next State, Carthage, have perished; because, _fourthly_, the
learned labours of Mauritania[27] have also perished.

Thus the pupil is satisfied that of mere necessity the chronologer must
resort to Europe for his earliest monuments and his earliest
authentications--for the facts to be attested, and for the evidences
which are to attest them. But if to Europe, next, to what part of
Europe? Two great nations--great in a different sense, the one by
dazzling brilliancy of intellect, the other by weight and dignity of
moral grandeur--divide between them the honours of history through the
centuries immediately preceding the birth of Christ. To which of these,
the pupil asks, am I to address myself? On the one hand, the greater
refinement and earlier civilization of Greece would naturally converge
all eyes upon her; but then, on the other hand, we cannot forget the
'_levitas levissimæ gentis_'--the want of stability, the want of all
that we call moral dignity, and by direct consequence, the puerile
credulity of that clever, sparkling, but very foolish people, the
Greeks. That quality which, beyond all others, the Romans imputed to the
Grecian character; that quality which, in the very blaze of admiration,
challenged by the Grecian intellect, still overhung with deep shadows
their rational pretensions and degraded them to a Roman eye, was the
essential _levitas_--the defect of any principle that could have given
steadiness and gravity--which constituted the original sin of the Greek
character. By _levitas_ was meant the passive obedience to casual,
random, or contradictory impulses, the absence of all determining
principle. Now this _levitas_ was the precise anti-pole of the Roman
character; which was as massy, self-supported, and filled with
resistance to chance impulses, as the Greek character was windy, vain,
and servile to such impulses. Both nations, it is true, were
superstitious, because all nations, in those ages were intensely
superstitious; and each, after a fashion of its own, intensely
credulous. But the Roman superstition was coloured by something of a
noble pride; the Grecian by vanity. The Greek superstition was fickle
and self-contradicting, and liable to sudden changes; the Roman,
together with the gloom, had the unity and the perseverance of bigotry.
No Christian, even, purified and enlightened by his sublime faith, could
more utterly despise the base crawling adorations of Egypt, than did the
Roman polytheist, out of mere dignity of mind, while to the frivolous
Athenian they were simply objects of curiosity. In the Greek it was a
vulgar sentiment of clannish vanity.[28] Even the national
self-consequence of a Roman and a Greek were sentiments of different
origin, and almost opposite quality; in the Roman it was a sublime and
imaginative idea of Rome, of her self-desired grandeur, and, above all,
of her divine _destiny_, over which last idea brooded a cloud of
indefinite expectation, not so entirely unlike the exalting expectations
of the Jews, looking for ever to some unknown 'Elias' that should come.

Thus perplexed by the very different claims upon his respect in these
two exclusive authorities of the ancient world--carried to the Roman by
his _moral_ feelings, to the Grecian by his intellectual--the student is
suddenly delivered from his doubts by the discovery that these two
principal streams of history flow absolutely apart through the elder
centuries of historical light.

IV. _777 and its Three Great Landmarks._--In this perplexity, we say,
the youthful pupil is suddenly delighted to hear that there is no call
upon her to choose between Grecian and Roman guides. Fortunately, and as
if expressly to save her from any of those fierce disputes which have
risen up between the true Scriptural chronology and the chronology of
the mendacious Septuagint, it is laid down that the Greek and Roman
history, soon after both had formally commenced, flowed apart for
centuries; nor did they so much as hear of each other (unless as we
moderns heard of Prester John in Abyssinia, or of the Great Mogul in
India), until the Greek colonies in Calabria, etc., began to have a
personal meaning for a Roman ear, or until Sicily (as the common field
for Greek, Roman, and Carthaginian) began to have a dangerous meaning
for all three. As to the Romans, the very grandeur of their
self-reliance and the sublime faith which they had in the destinies[29]
of Rome, inclined them to carelessness about all but their nearest
neighbours, and sustained for ages their illiterate propensities.
Illiterate they were, because incurious; and incurious because too
haughtily self-confident. The Greeks, on the other hand, amongst the
other infirmities attached to their national levity, had curiosity in
abundance. But it flowed in other channels. There was nothing to direct
their curiosity upon the Romans. Generally speaking, there is good
reason for thinking that as, at this day, the privilege of a man to
present himself at any court of Christendom is recognised upon his
producing a ticket signed by a Lord Chamberlain of some other court, to
the effect that 'the Bearer is known at St. James's,' or 'known at the
Tuileries,' etc.; so, after the final establishment of the Olympic
games, the Greeks looked upon a man's appearance at that great national
congress as the criterion and ratification of his being a known or
knowable person. Unknown, unannounced personally or by proxy at the
great periodic Congress of Greece, even a prince was a _homo
ignorabilis_; one whose existence nobody was bound to take notice of. A
Persian, indeed, was allowably absent; because, as a permanent public
enemy, he could not safely be present. But as to all others, and
therefore as to Romans, the rule of law held--that 'to those not coming
forward and those not in existence, the same line of argument applies.'
[_De non apparentibus et de non existentibus eadem est ratio._]

Had this been otherwise--had the two nations met freely before the light
of history had strengthened into broad daylight--it is certain that the
controversies upon chronology would have been far more and more
intricate than they are. This profound[30] separation, therefore, has
been beneficial to the student in one direction. But in another it has
increased his duties; or, if not increased, at all events it serves to
remind him of a separate chapter in his chronological researches. Had
Rome stood in as close a relation to Greece as Persia did, one single
chronology would have sufficed for both. Hardly one event in Persian
history has survived for our memory, which is not taken up by the looms
of Greece and interwoven with the general arras and texture of Grecian
history. And from the era of the Consul Paulus Emilius, something of the
same sort takes place between Greece and Rome; and in a partial sense
the same result is renewed as often as the successive assaults occur of
the Roman-destroying power applied to the several members of the
Græco-Macedonian Empire. But these did not commence until Rome had
existed for half-a-thousand years. And through all that long period,
two-thirds of the entire Roman history up to the Christian era, the two
Chronologies flow absolutely apart.

Consequently, because all chronology is thrown back upon Europe, and
because the pre-Christian Europe is split into two collateral bodies,
and because each of these separate bodies must have a separate head--it
follows that chronology, as a pre-Christian chronology, will, like the
Imperial eagle, be two-headed. Now this accident of chronology, on a
first glance, seems but too likely to confuse and perplex the young

How fortunate, then, it must be thought, and what a duty it imposes upon
the teacher, not to defeat this bounty of accident by false and pedantic
rigour of calculation, that these two heads of the eagle--that head
which looks westward for Roman Chronology, that which looks eastward for
Grecian Chronology--do absolutely coincide as to their nativity. The
birthday of Grecian authentic history everybody agrees to look upon as
fixed to the establishment [the _final_ establishment] of the Olympic
games. And when was _that_? Generally, chronologers have placed this
event just 776 years before Christ. Now will any teacher be so 'peevish'
[as hostess Quickly calls it]--so perversely unaccommodating--as not to
lend herself to the very trivial alteration of one year, just putting
the clock back to 7 instead of 6, even if the absolute certainty of the
6 were made out? But if she _will_ break with her chronologer, 'her
guide, philosopher and friend,' upon so slight a consideration as one
year in three-quarters of a millennium, it then becomes my duty to tell
her that there is no such certainty in the contested number as she
chooses to suppose. Even the era of our Saviour's birth oscillates
through an entire Olympiad, or period of four years; to that extent it
is unsettled: and in fifty other ways I could easily make out a title to
a much more considerable change. In reality, when the object is--not to
secure an attorney-like[31] accuracy--but to promote the _liberal_
pursuit of chronology, a teacher of good sense would at once direct her
pupil to record the date in round terms as just reaching the
three-quarters of a thousand years; she would freely sacrifice the
entire twenty-six years' difference between 776 and 750, were it not
that the same purpose, viz., the purpose of consulting the powers or
convenience and capacity of the memory, in neglect and defiance of
useless and superstitious arithmetic punctilios, may be much better
attained by a more trifling sacrifice. Three-quarters of a millennium,
that is three parts in four of a thousand years, is a period easily
remembered; but a triple repetition of the number 7, simply saying
'_Seven seven seven_' is remembered even _more_ easily.[32]

Suppose this point then settled, for anything would be remarkable and
highly rememberable which comes near to a common familiar fraction of so
vast a period in human affairs as a millennium [a term consecrated to
our Christian ears, (1) by its use in the Apocalypse; (2) by its
symbolic use in representing the long Sabbath of rest from sin and
misery, and finally (3) even to the profane ear by the fact of its being
the largest period which we employ in our historical estimates]. But a
triple iteration of the number 7, simply saying '_Seven seven seven_,'
would be even more rememberable. And, lastly, were it still necessary to
add anything by way of reconciling the teacher to the supposed
inaccuracy (though, if a real[33] and demonstrated inaccuracy, yet, be
it remembered, the very least which _can_ occur, viz., an error of a
single unit), I will--and once for all, as applying to many similar
cases, as often as they present themselves--put this stringent question
to every woman of good sense: is it not better, is it not more
agreeable to your views for the service of your pupils, that they should
find offered to their acceptance some close approximation to the truth
which they can very easily remember, than an absolute conformity to the
very letter of the truth which no human memory, though it were the
memory of Mithridates, could retain? Good sense is shown, above all
things, in seeking the practicable which is within our power, by
preference to a more exquisite ideal which is unattainable. Not, I
grant, in moral or religious things. Then I willingly allow, we are
forbidden to sit down contented with imperfect attempts, or to make
deliberate compromises with the slightest known evil in principle. To
this doctrine I heartily subscribe. But surely in matters _not_ moral,
in questions of erudition or of antiquarian speculation, or of
historical research, we are under a different rule. Here, and in similar
cases, it is our business, I conceive with Solon legislating for the
Athenians, to contemplate, not what is best in an abstract sense, but
what is best under the circumstances of the case. Now the most important
circumstances of this case are--that the memory of young ladies must be
assumed as a faculty of average power, both as to its apprehensiveness
and as to its tenacity; its power of mastering for the moment, and its
power of retaining faithfully; that this faculty will not endure the
oppression of mere blank facts having no organization or life of logical
relation running through them; that by 'not enduring' I mean that it
cannot support this harassing and persecution with impunity[34]; that
the fine edge of the higher intellectual powers will be taken off by
this laborious straining, which is not only dull, but the cause of
dulness; that finally, the memory, supposing it in a given and rare case
powerful enough to contend successfully with such tasks, must even as
regards this time required, hold itself disposable for many other
applications; and therefore, as the inference from the whole, that not
any slight or hasty, but a most intense and determinate effort should be
made to substitute some technical artifices for blank pulls against a
dead weight of facts, to substitute fictions, or artificial imitations
of logical arrangement, wherever that is possible, for blind
arrangements of chance; and finally, in a process which requires every
assistance from compromise and accommodation constantly to surrender the
rigour of superstitious accuracy, (which, after all its magnificent
pretensions, _must_ fail in the performance), to humbler probability of
a reasonable success.

I have dwelt upon this point longer than would else have been right,
because in effect here lies the sole practical obstacle to the
realization of a very beautiful framework of chronology, and because I
consider myself as now speaking _once for all_. Let us now move forward.
I now go on to the other head of the eagle--the head which looks

Here it will be objected that the Foundation of Rome is usually laid
down in the year 753 B.C.; and therefore that it differs from the
foundation of the Olympiads by as much as 23 or 24 years; and can I have
the conscience to ask my fair friends that they should _put the clock
back_ so far as that? Why, really there is no knowing; perhaps if I were
hard pressed by some chronological enemy, I might ask as great a favour
even as that. But at present it is not requisite; neither do I mean to
play any jugglers' tricks, as perhaps lawfully I might, with the
different computations of Varro, of the Capitoline Marbles, etc. All
that need be said in this place is simply--that Rome is not Romulus. And
let Rome have been founded when she pleases, and let her secret name
have been what it might--though really, in default of a better, Rome
itself is as decent and _'sponsible_ a name as a man would wish--still I
presume that Romulus must have been a little older than Rome, the
builder a little anterior to what he built. Varro and the Capitoline
Tables and Mr. Hook will all agree to that postulate. And whatever some
of them may say as to the youth of Romulus, when he first began to wield
the trowel, at least, I suppose, he was come to years of discretion;
and, if we say twenty-three or twenty-four, which I am as much entitled
to say as they to deny it, then we are all right. 'All right behind,' as
the mail guards say, 'drive on.' And so I feel entitled to lay my hand
upon my heart and assure my fair pupils that Romulus himself and the
Olympiads did absolutely start together; and for anything known to the
contrary, perhaps in the same identical moment or bisection of a moment.
Possibly his first little wolfish howl (for it would be monstrous to
think that he or even Remus condescended to a _vagitus_ or cry such as a
young tailor or rat-catcher might emit) may have symphonized with the
ear-shattering trumpet that proclaimed the inauguration of the first
Olympic contest, or which blew to the four winds the appellation of the
first Olympic victor.

That point, therefore, is settled, and so far, at least, 'all's right
behind.' And it is a great relief to my mind that so much is
accomplished. Two great arrow-headed nails at least are driven 'home' to
the great dome of Chronology from which my whole golden chain of
historical dependencies is to swing. And even that will suffice. Careful
navigators, indeed, like to ride by three anchors; but I am content with
what I have achieved, even if my next attempt should be less

It is certainly a very striking fact to the imagination that great
revolutions seldom come as solitary cases. It never rains but it pours.
At times there _is_ some dark sympathy, which runs underground,
connecting remote events like a ground-swell in the ocean, or like the
long careering[35] of an earthquake before it makes its explosion.
_Abyssus abyssum invocat_--'One deep calleth to another.' And in some
incomprehensible way, powers not having the slightest _apparent_
interconnexion, no links through which any _casual_ influence could
rationally be transmitted, do, nevertheless, in fact, betray either a
blind nexus--an undiscoverable web of dependency upon each other, or
else a dependency upon some common cause equally undiscoverable. What
possible, what remote connexion could the dissolution of the Assyrian
empire have with the Olympiads or with the building of Rome? Certainly
none at all that we can see; and yet these great events so nearly
synchronize that even the latest of them seems but a more distant
undulation of the same vast swell in the ocean, running along from west
to east, from the Tiber to the Tigris. Some great ferment of revolution
was then abroad. The overthrew of Nineveh as the capital of the Assyrian
empire, the ruin of the dynasty ending in Sardanapalus, and the
subsequent dismemberment of the Assyrian empire, took place, according
to most chronologers, 747 years B.C., just 30 years, therefore, after
the two great events which I have assigned to 777. These two events are
in the strictest and most capital sense the inaugural events of history,
the very pillars of Hercules which indicate a _ne plus ultra_ in that
direction; namely, that all beyond is no longer history but romance. I
am exceedingly anxious to bring this Assyrian revolution also to the
same great frontier line of columns. In a gross general way it might
certainly be argued that in such a great period, thirty years, or one
generation, can be viewed as nothing more than a trifling quantity. But
it must also be considered that the exact time, and even the exact
personality,[36] of Sardanapalus in all his relations are not known. All
are vast phantoms in the Assyrian empire; I do not say fictions, but
undefined, unmeasured, immeasurable realities; far gone down into the
mighty gulf of shadows, and for us irrecoverable. All that is known
about the Assyrian empire is its termination under Sardanapalus. It was
then coming within Grecian twilight; and it will be best to say that,
generally speaking, Sardanapalus coincided with Romulus and the Greek
Olympiad. To affect any nearer accuracy than this would be the grossest
reliance on the mere jingle of syllables. History would be made to rest
on something less than a pun; for such as _Palus_ and _Pul_, which is
all that learned archbishops can plead as their vouchers in the matter
of Assyria, there is not so much as the argument of a child or the wit
of a punster.

Upon the whole, the teacher will make the following remarks to her
pupils, after having read what precedes; remarks partly upon the new
mode of delivering chronology, and partly upon the things delivered:

I. She will notice it--as some improvement--that the three great
leading events, which compose the opening of history not fabulous, are
here, for the first time, placed under the eye in their true relations
of time, viz., as about contemporary. For without again touching on the
question--do they, or do they not, vary from each other in point of time
by twenty-three and by thirty years--it will be admitted by everybody
that, at any rate, the three events stand equally upon the frontier line
of authentic history. A frontier or debateable land is always of some
breadth. They form its inauguration. And they would do so even if
divided by a much wider interval. Now, it is very possible to know of A,
B, and C, separately, that each happened in such a year, say 1800; and
yet never to have noticed them consciously _as_ contemporary. We read of
many a man (L, M, N, suppose), that he was born in 1564, or that he died
in 1616. And we may happen separately to know that these were the years
in which Shakespeare was born and died. Yet, for all that, we may never
happen consciously to notice with respect to any one of the men, L, M,
N, that he was a contemporary of Shakespeare's. Now, this was the case
with regard to the three great events, Greek, Roman, and Assyrian. No
chronologer failed to observe of each in its separate place that it
occurred somewhere about 750 years B.C. But every chronologer had failed
to notice this coincident time of each _as_ coincident. And,
accordingly, all failed to converge these three events into one focus as
the solemn and formal opening of history. It is good to have a
beginning, a starting post, from which to date all possible historical
events that are worthy to be regarded as such. But it is better still to
find that by the rarest of accidents, by a good luck that could never
have been looked for, the three separate starting posts--which
historical truth obliges us to assume for the three great fields of
history, Roman, Grecian, and Asiatic[37]--all closely coincide in point
of time; or, to use the Greek technical term, all closely synchronize.

II. With respect to Greece and the Olympiad in particular, she will
inform her pupil that the Olympic games, celebrated near the town of
Olympia, recurred every fifth year; that is to say, there was a clear
interval of four years between each revolution of the games. Each
Olympiad, therefore, containing four years, it is usual in citing the
particular Olympiad in which an event happened, to cite also the year,
should that be known, or, being known, should that be of importance.
Thus Olymp. CX. 3 would mean that such a thing, say X, occurred in the
third year of the 110th Olympiad; that is, four times 110 will be 440;
and this, deducted from 777 (the era of the Olympiads), leaves 337 years
B.C. as the era when X occurred. Only that, upon reviewing the case, we
find that the 110th Olympiad was not absolutely completed, not by one
year; which, subtracted from the 337, leaves 336 B.C. as the true date.
If her pupil should say, 'But were there no great events in Greece
before the Olympiads?' the teacher will answer, 'Yes, a few, but not
many of a rank sufficient to be called Grecian.' They are merely local
events; events of Thessaly, suppose; events of Argos; but much too
obscure, both as to the facts, as to the meaning of the facts, and as to
the dates, to be worth any student's serious attention. There were,
however, three events worthy to be called _Grecian_; partly because
they interested more States than one of Greece; and partly because they
have since occupied the Athenian stage, and received a sort of
consecration from the great masters of Grecian tragedy. These three
events were the fatal story of the house of Oedipus; a story
stretching through three generations; and in which the war against the
Seven Gates of Thebes was but an episode. Secondly, the Argonautic
expedition (voyage of the ship _Argo_, and of the sailors in that ship,
_i.e._, the Argonauts), which is consecrated as the first voyage of any
extent undertaken by Greeks. Both these events are as full of heroic
marvels, and of supernatural marvels, as the legends of King Arthur,
Merlin, and the Fairy Morgana. Later than these absolute romances comes
the semi-romance of the Iliad, or expedition against Troy. This, the
most famous of all Pagan romances, we know by two separate criteria to
be later in date than either of the two others; first, because the
actors in the Iliad are the descendants of those who figured as actors
in the others; secondly, from the subdued tone of the romantic[38] which
prevails throughout the Iliad. Now, with respect to these three events
in Grecian history, anterior to the Olympiads, which are all that a
young student ought to notice, it is sufficient if generally she is made
aware of the order in which they stand to each other, or, at least, that
the Iliad comes last in the series, and if as to this last and greatest
of the series, she fixes its era precisely to one thousand years before
Christ. Chronologers, indeed, sometimes bring it down to something
lower. But one millennium, the clear unembarrassed cyphers of 1,000,
whether in counting guineas or years, is a far simpler and a far more
rememberable era than any qualifications of this round number; which
qualifications, let it not for a moment be forgotten, are not at all
better warranted than the simpler expression. One only amongst all
chronologers has anything to stand upon that is not as unsubstantial as
a cloud; and this is Sir Isaac Newton. And the way in which he proceeded
it may be well to explain, in order that the young pupil may see what
sort of evidences we have _prior to the Olympiads_ for any chronological
fact. Sir Isaac endeavoured by calculating backwards to ascertain the
exact time of some celestial phenomenon--as, suppose, an eclipse of the
sun, or such and such positions of the heavenly bodies with regard to
each other. This phenomenon, whatever it were, call X. Then if (upon
looking into the Argonautic Expedition or any other romance of those
elder times) he finds X actually noticed as co-existing with any part of
the adventures, in that case he has fixed by absolute observation, as it
were, what we may call the latitude and longitude of that one historical
event; and then using this, as we use our modern meridian of Greenwich,
as a point of starting, he can deduce the distances of all subsequent
events by tracing them through the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons
of the several actors concerned. The great question which will then
remain to be settled is, how many years to allow for a generation; and,
secondly, in monarchies, how much to allow for a reign, since often two
successive reigns will not be two successive generations, because whilst
the two reigns are distinct quantities, the two lives are coincident
through a great part of their duration. Now, of course, Sir Isaac is
very often open to serious criticism, or to overpowering doubts. That is
inevitable. But on the whole he treads upon something like a firm
footing. Others, as regards that era, tread upon mere clouds, and their
authority goes for nothing at all.

Such being the state of the case, let the pupil never trouble her memory
for one moment with so idle an effort as that of minutely fixing or
retaining dates that, after all, are more doubtful, and for us
irrecoverable, than the path of some obscure trading ship in some past
generation through the Atlantic Ocean. Generally, it will be quite near
enough to the truth if she places upon the meridian of 1000 years B.C.
the three Romances--Argonautic, Theban, Trojan; and she will then have
the satisfaction of finding that, as at the opening of authentic
history, she found the Roman, the Greek, and the Asiatic inaugural
events coinciding in the same exact focus, so in these semi-fabulous or
ante-Olympian events, she finds that one and the same effort of memory
serves to register _them_, and also the most splendid of the Jewish
eras--that of David and Solomon. The round sum of 1000 years B.C., so
easily remembered, without distinction, without modification, '_sans
phrase_' (to quote a brutal regicide), serves alike for the Seven-gated
Thebes,[39] for Troy, and for Jerusalem in its most palmy days.

V. _A Perplexity Cleared Up._--Before passing onward here, it is highly
important to notice a sort of episode in history, which fills up the
interval between 777 and 555, but which is constantly confounded and
perplexed with what took place before 777.

The word _Assyria_ is that by which the perplexity is maintained. The
Assyrian empire, as the pupil is told, was destroyed in the person of
Sardanapalus. Yet, in her Bible, she reads of Sennacherib, King of
Assyria. 'Was Sennacherib, then, before Sardanapalus?' she will ask; and
her teacher will inform her that he was not.

Such things puzzle her. They seem palpable contradictions. But now let
her understand that out of the Assyrian empire split off three separate
kingdoms, of which one was called the Assyrian, not empire, but kingdom;
there lurks the secret of the error. And to this kingdom of Assyria it
was that Sennacherib belonged. Or, in order to represent by a sensible
image this derivation of kingdoms from the stock of the old
superannuated Assyrian empire (to which belonged Nimrod, Ninus, and
Semiramis--those mighty phantoms, with their incredible armies); let her
figure to herself some vast river, like the Nile or the Ganges, with the
form assumed by its mouths. Often it will happen, where such a river is
not hemmed in between rocks, or confined to the bed of a particular
valley, that, perhaps, a hundred or two of miles before reaching the
sea, upon coming into a soft, alluvial soil, it will force several
different channels for itself. As these must make angles to each other,
in order to form different roads, the land towards the disemboguing of
the river will take the arrangement of a triangle. And as that happens
to be the form of a Greek capital D (in the Greek alphabet called
Delta), it has been usual to call such an arrangement of a great river's
mouth a Delta.

Now, then, let her think of the Assyrian empire under the notion of the
Nile, descending from far distant regions, and from fountains that were
concealed for ages, if even now discovered. Then, when it approaches
the sea, and splits up its streams, so as to form a Delta, let her
regard that Delta as the final state of the Assyrian power, the kingdom
state lasting for about two centuries until swallowed up altogether, and
remoulded into unity by the Persian empire.

The Delta, therefore, or the Nile dividing into three streams, will
represent the three kingdoms formed out of the ruins of the Assyrian
empire, when falling to pieces by the death of Sardanapalus. One of
these three kingdoms is often called the Median; one the Chaldæan; and
the third is called the Assyrian kingdom. But the most rememberable
shape in which they can be recalled is, perhaps, by the names of their
capitals. The capital cities were as follows: of the first, _Ecbatana_,
which is the modern _Hamadan_; of the second, _Babylon_, on the
Euphrates, of which the ruins have been fully ascertained in our own
times; at present, nothing remains _but_ ruins, and these ruins are
dangerous to visit, both from human marauders prowling in that
neighbourhood, and from wild beasts of the most formidable class, which
are so little disturbed in their awful lairs, that they bask at noon-day
amongst the huge hills of half-vitrified bricks. Finally, of the third
kingdom, which still retained the name of Assyria, the metropolis was
_Nineveh_, on the Tigris, revealed by Layard.

These three kingdoms had some internal wars and revolutions during the
two centuries which elapsed from the great period 777 (the period of
Sardanapalus), until the days of Cyrus, the Persian. By that time the
three had become two, the kingdom of Nineveh had been swallowed up, and
Cyrus, who was destined to form the Persian empire upon their ruins,
found one change less to be effected than might have been looked for. Of
the two which remained, he conquered one, and the other came to him by
maternal descent. Thus he gained all three, and moulded them into one,
called Persia.

VI. _Five and Five and Five._--The crowning action in which Cyrus
figures is, therefore, that of conqueror of Babylon, and all the details
of his career point forward, like markings on the dial, towards that
great event, as full of interest for the imagination as any of the
events of pre-Christian history. I would fain for once by the aid of
metre, fix more firmly in the mind of the reader the grandeur and
imposing significance of this event:

    Thus in Five and Five and Five did Cyrus the Great of Elam,[40]
    On a festal night break in with roar of the fierce alalagmos.[41]
    Over Babylonian walls, over tower and turret of entrance,
    Over helmèd heads, and over the carnage of armies.
    Idle the spearsman's spear, Assyrian scymitar idle;
    Broken the bow-string lay of the Mesopotamian archer;
    'Ride to the halls of Belshazzar, ride through the murderous uproar;
    Ride to the halls of Belshazzar!' commanded Cyrus of Elam.
    They rode to the halls of Belshazzar. Oh, merciful, merciful angels!
    That prompt sweet tears to men, hang veils, hang drapery darkest,--
    If any may hide or may pall this night's tempestuous horror.
    Like a deluge the army poured in on their snorting Bactrian horses,
    Rattled the Parthian quivers, rang the Parthian harness of iron,
    High upon spears rode the torches, and from them in showery blazes
    Rained splendour lurid and fierce on the dreamlike ruinous uproar,
    Such as delusions often from fever's fierce vertical ardour
    Show through the long-chambered halls and corridors endless,
    Blazing with cruel light--show to the brain of the stricken man;
    Such as the angel of dreams sometimes sends to the guilty.
    Such light lay in open front, but palpable ebony blackness,
    Sealed every far-off street in deep and awful abysses,
    Out of which rose like phantoms, rose and sank as a sea-bird
    Rises and sinks on the waves of a dim, tumultuous ocean,
    Faces dabbled in blood, phantasmagory direful and scenic.

           *       *       *       *       *

    But where is Belshazzar the Lord? Has he fled? Has he found an asylum?
    Or still does he pace in his palace, blind-seeming or moonstruck?
    Still does he tread proudly the palace, fancy-deluded,
    Prophets of falsehood trusting, or false Babylonian idols,
    Defying the odious truth from the summit of empire!
    Lo! at his palace gates the fierce Apollyon's great army,
    With maces uplifted, stand to make way for great Cyrus of Elam.
    Watching for signal from him whose truncheon this way or that bids:
    'Strike!' said Cyrus the King. 'Strike!' said the princes of Elam;
    And the brazen gates at the word, like flax that is broken asunder
    By fire from earth or from heaven, snapped as a bulrush,
    Snapped as a reed, as a wand, as the tiny toy of an infant.
    Marvellous the sight that followed! Oh, most august revelation!
    Mile-long were the halls that appeared, and open spaces enormous;
    Areas fit to hold armies on the day of muster for battle;
    Hosts upon either side, for amplest castrametation.
    Depth behind depth, and dim labyrinthine apartments.
    Golden galleries above running high into darkening vistas,
    Staircases soaring and climbing, till sight grew dizzy with effort
    Of chasing the corridors up to their whispering gloomy recesses.
    Nations were ranged in the halls, nations ranged at a banquet,
    Even then lightly proceeding with timbrel, dulcimer, hautboy,
    Gong and loud kettledrum and fierce-blown tempestuous organ.
    Banners floated in air, colossal embroidery tissues
    Of Tyrian looms, scarlet, black, violet and amber,
    Or the perfectest cunning of trained Babylonian artist,
    Or massy embossed, from the volant shuttle of Phrygian.
    Banners suspended in shade, or in the full glare of the lamplight,
    Mid cressets and chandeliers by jewelly chains swinging pendant.

           *       *       *       *       *

    Draw a veil o'er the rout when advances great Cyrus of Elam,
    Dusky-browed archers behind him, and spearmen before,
    When he cries 'Strike!' and the gorgeously inlaid pavements
    Run ruddy with blood of the festive Assyrians there.

VII.--_Greece and Rome._--My female readers, whom only I contemplate in
every line of this little work, and who would have a right to consider
it disrespectful if I were to leave a single word of Latin or Greek
unexplained, must understand that the Greeks, according to that
universal habit of viewing remote objects in a relation of ascent or
descent with respect to the observer, whence the 'going up to
Jerusalem,' and our own 'going up to London,' always figured a journey
eastwards, that is, directed towards the Euphrates or Tigris, or to any
part of Asia from Greece as tending _upwards_. In this mode of
conceiving their relations to the East, they were governed
semi-consciously by the sense of a vast presence beyond the
Tigris--glorified by grandeur and by distance--the golden city of Susa,
and the throne of the great king. Accordingly, the expedition therefore
of Cyrus the younger against his brother Artaxerxes was called by
Xenophon, when recording it, the Anabasis, or going up of Cyrus; and,
from the accident of its celebrity, this title has adhered to that
expedition; and to that book--as if either could claim it by some
exclusive title; whereas, on the contrary, the Katabasis, or going down,
furnishes by much the larger and the more interesting part of the work.
And, in any case, the title is open to all Asiatic expeditions
whatsoever; to the Trojan that just crossed the water, to the Macedonian
that went beyond the Indus. The word Anàbasis must have its accent on
the syllable _ab_, not on the penultimate syllable _as_.

In coming to the history of Imperial Rome, one is fortunately made
sensible at once of a vast advantage, which is this--that one is not
throwing away one's labour. Sad it is, after ploughing a stiff and
difficult clay, to find all at once that the whole is a task of so
little promise that perhaps, on the whole, one might as well have left
it untouched.

X. Yes, I remember that my cousin, Cecilia Dinbury, took the pains to
master--or perhaps one ought to say to _mistress_--the history.

L. No, to _miss_ it, is what one ought to say.

X. Fie, my dear second cousin--Fie, fie, if you please. To _miss_ it,
indeed! Ah, how we wished that we _had_ missed it. But we had no such
luck. There were we broiling through a hot, hot August, broiling away at
this intolerable stew of Iskis and Fuskis, and all to no end or use.
Granted that too often it is, or it may be so. But here we are safe. Who
can fancy or feel so much as the shadow of a demur, when peregrinating
Rome, that we might be losing our toil?

Now, then, in the highest spirits, let us open our studies. And first
let us map out a chart of the _personnel_ for pretty nearly a century.
Twelve Cæsars--the twelve first--should clearly of themselves make more
than a century. For I am sure all of you, except our two new friends,
know so much of arithmetic as that multiplication and division are a
great menace upon addition and subtraction. It is, therefore, a thing
most desirable to set up compound modes--short devices for abridging
these. Now 10 is the earliest number written with two digits: and the
higher the multiplier, so much harder, apparently, the process. Yet here
at least a great simplification offers. To multiply by 10, all you have
to do is to put a cipher after the multiplicand. Twenty-seven soldiers
are to have 10 guineas each, how much is required to pay all
twenty-seven? Why, 27 into 10 is 27 with a cipher at the end--27:0,
_i.e._, 270. _Ergo_, twelve Cæsars, supposing each to reign ten years,
would make, no, _should_ make, with anything like great lives--12:0,
_i.e._, 120 years. And when you consider that one of the twelve, viz.,
Augustus, singly, for _his_ share, contributed fifty and odd years, if
the other eleven had given ten each that would be 11:0; this would make
a total of about 170.

VIII.--_Beginning of Modern Era._--From the period of Justinian
commences a new era--an era of unusual transition. This is the broad
principle of change. Old things are decaying, new things are forming and
gathering. The lines of decay and of resurrection are moving visibly and
palpably to every eye in counteracting agency for one result--life and a
new truth for humanity. All the great armies of generous barbarians,
showing, by contrast with Rome and Greece, the opulence of teeming
nature as against the powers of form in utter superannuation, were now,
therefore, no longer moving, roaming, seeking--they had taken up their
ground; they were in a general process of castrametation, marking out
their alignments and deploying into open order upon ground now
permanently taken up for their settlement. The early trumpets, the
morning _réveillé_ of the great Christian nations--England, France,
Spain, Lombardy--were sounding to quarters. Franks had knit into one the
rudiments of a great kingdom upon the soil of France; the Saxons and
Angles, with some Vandals, had, through a whole century, been defiling
by vast trains into the great island which they were called by
Providence to occupy and to ennoble; the Vandals had seated themselves,
though in this case only with no definite hopes, along the extreme
region of the Barbary States. Vandals might and did survive for a
considerable period in ineffective fragments, but not as a power. The
Visigoths had quartered themselves on Spain, there soon to begin a
conflict for the Cross, and to maintain it for eight hundred years, and
finally to prevail. And lastly, the Lombards had thrown a network of
colonization over Italy, which, as much by the cohesions which it shook
loose and broke asunder as by the new one which it bred, exhibited a
power like that of the coral insects, and gave promise of a new empire
built out of floating dust and fragments.

The movements which formerly had resembled those gigantic pillars of
sand that mould themselves continually under the action of sun and wind
in the great deserts--suddenly showing themselves upon the remote
horizon, rear themselves silently and swiftly, then stalking forward
towards the affected caravan like a phantom phantasmagoria, approach,
manoeuvre, overshadow, and then as suddenly recede, collapse,
fluctuate, again to remould into other combinations and to alarm other
travellers--have passed. This vast structure of Central Europe had been
abandoned by all the greater tribes; they had crossed the vast barriers
of Western Europe--the Alps, the Vosges, the Pyrenees, the ocean--these
were now the wards within which they had committed their hopes and the
graves of their fathers. Social developments tended to the same, and no
longer either wishing or finding it possible to roam, they were all now,
through an entire century, taking up their ground and making good their
tumultuous irruptions; with the power of moving had been conjoined a
propensity to move. Rustic life, which must essentially have been
maintained on the great area of German vagrancy, was more and more

With this physical impossibility of roaming, and with the reciprocal
compression of each exercised on the other, coincided the new instincts
of civilization. They were no longer barbarous by a brutal and animal
barbarism. The deep soil of their powerful natures had long been budding
into nobler capacities, and had expanded into nobler perceptions.
Reverence for female dignity, a sentiment never found before in any
nation, gave a vernal promise of some higher humanity, on a wider scale
than had yet been exhibited. Strong sympathies, magnetic affinities,
prepared this great encampment of nations for Christianity. Their
nobility needed such a field for its expansion; Christianity needed such
a human nature for its evolution. The strong and deep nature of the
Teutonic tribes could not have been evolved, completed, without
Christianity. Christianity in a soil so shallow and unracy as the
Græco-Latin, could not have struck those roots which are immovable. The
ultimate conditions of the soil and the capacities of the culture must
have corresponded. The motions of Barbaria had hitherto indicated only
change; change without hope; confusion without tendencies; strife
without principle of advance; new births in each successive age without
principle of regeneration; momentary gain balanced by momentary loss;
the tumult of a tossing ocean which tends to none but momentary rest.
But now the currents are united, enclosed, and run in one direction, and
that is definite and combined.

Now truly began that modern era, of which we happily reap the harvest:
then were laid the first foundations of social order and the first
effective hint of that sense of mutual aid and dependence which has,
century by century, been creating such a balance and harmony of adjusted
operations--of agencies working night and day, which no man sees, for
services which no man creates: the agencies are like Ezekiel's
wheels--self-sustained; the services in which they labour have grown up
imperceptibly as the growth of a yew, and from a period as far removed
from cognizance. One man dies every hour out of myriads, his place is
silently supplied, and the mysterious economy thus propagates itself in
silence, like the motion of the planets, from age to age. Hands
innumerable are every moment writing summonses, returns, reports,
figures--records that would stretch out to the crack of doom, as yet
every year accumulated, written by professional men, corrected by
correctors, checked by controllers, and afterwards read by corresponding
men, re-read by corresponding controllers, passed and ratified by
corresponding ratifiers; and through this almighty pomp of wheels, whose
very whirling would be heard into other planets, did not the very
velocity of their motion seem to sleep on their soft axle, is the
business of this great nation, judicial, fixed, penal, deliberative,
statistical, commercial, all carried on without confusion, never
distracting one man by its might, nor molesting one man by its noise.

Now, in the semi-fabulous times of Egypt and Assyria, things were not so
managed. Ours are the ages of intellectual powers, of working by
equivalents and substitutions; but theirs were done by efforts of brute
power, possible only in the lowest condition of animal man, when all
wills converged absolutely in one, and when human life, cheap as dog's,
had left man in no higher a state of requirement, and had given up human
power to be applied at will--without art or skill.

Then the armies of a Semiramis even were in this canine state. It was
her curse to have subjects that had no elevation, swarming by myriads
like flies; mere animal life, the mere animal armies which she needed;
what she wanted was exactly what they would yield. To such cattle all
cares beyond that of mere provender were thrown away. Surgical care and
the ambulance, such as the elevation of man's condition, and the
solemnity of his rights, seen by the awful eye of Christianity, will
always require, were simply ridiculous. As well raise hospitals for
decayed butterflies. Provender was all: not _panem et circenses_--bread
and theatrical shows--but simply bread, and that wretched of its kind.
Drink was an ideal luxury. Was there not the Euphrates, was there not
the Tigris, the Aranes? The Roman armies carried _posca_ by way of such
luxury, a drink composed of vinegar and water. But as to Semiramis--what
need of the vinegar? And why carry the water? Could it not be found in
the Euphrates, etc.? Let the dogs lap at the Euphrates, and stay for
their next draught till they come to the Tigris or the Aranes. Or, if
they drank a river or so dry, and a million or two should die, what of
that? Let them go on to the Tigris, and thence to the Aranes, the Oxus,
or Indus. Clothes were dispensable from the climate, food only of the
lowest quality, and finally the whole were summoned only for one
campaign, and usually this was merely a sort of partisan camisade upon a
colossal scale, in which the superfluous population of one vast nation
threw themselves upon another. Mere momentum turned the scale; one
nuisance of superfluous humanity was discharged upon such another
nuisance, the one exterminating the other, or, if both by accident
should be exterminated, what mattered it? The major part of the two
nuisances, like algebraical quantities of plus and minus, extinguished
each other. And, in any case, the result, whatever it might be, of that
one campaign, which was rather a journey terminating in a bad battle of
mobs, than anything artificial enough to deserve the title of camp,
terminated the whole war. Here, at least, we see the determining impulse
of political economy intervening, coming round upon them, if it had not
been perceived before. If the two nations began their warfare, and
planned it in defiance of all common laws and exchequers, at any rate
the time it lasted was governed by that only. The same thing recurred in
the policy of the feudal ages; the bumpkins, the vassals, were compelled
to follow the standard, but their service was limited to a certain
number of weeks. Afterwards, by law, as well as by custom, they
dissolved for the autumnal labour of the harvest. And thus it was, until
the princes would allow of mercenary armies, no system of connecting
politics grew up in Europe, or could grow up; having no means of
fighting each other, they were like leopards in Africa gnawing at a
leopard in Asia; they fumed apart like planets that could not cross; a
vast revolution, which Robertson ascribes to the reign of Francis I.,
but which I, upon far better grounds and on speculations much more
exclusively pursued, date from the age of Louis XI. Differing in
everything, and by infinite degrees for the worse from these early
centuries, the age of Semiramis agreed in this--that if the non-culture
of the human race allowed them to break out into war with little or no
preparation but what each man personally could make, and if thus far
political economy did not greatly control the policy of nations, yet in
the reaction these same violated laws vindicated their force by sad
retributions. Famines, at all events dire exhaustion, invariably put an
end to such tumultuary wars, if they did not much control their
beginnings,[42] and periodically expressed their long retributory

Not, therefore, because political economy was of little avail, but
because the details are lost in the wilderness of years, must we
disregard the political economy in the early Assyrian combinations of
the human race. The details are lost for political economy as a cause,
and the details are equally lost of the wars and the revolutions which
were its effects. But in coming more within the light of authentic
history, I contend that political economy is better known, and that in
that proportion it explains much of what ought to be known. For example,
I contend that the condition of Athens, for herself and for the rest of
the Greek confederacy, nay, the entire course of the Athenian wars, of
all that Athens did or forbore to do, her actions alike, and her
omissions, are to be accounted for, and lie involved in the statistics
of her fiscal condition.

IX.--_Geography._--Look next at geography. The consideration of this
alone throws a new light on history. Every country that is now or will
be, has had some of its primary determinations impressed upon its policy
and institutions; nay, upon its feeling and character, which is the well
of its policy, by its geographical position: that is, by its position
as respects climate in the first place, secondly, as respects neighbours
(_i.e._, enemies), whether divided by mountains, rivers, deserts, or the
great desert of the sea--or divided only by great belts of land--a
passable solitude. Thirdly, as respects its own facilities and
conveniences for raising food, clothing, luxuries. Indeed, not only is
it so moulded and determined as to its character and aspects, but
oftentimes even as to its very existence.

Many have noticed wisely and truly in the physical aspect of Asia and
the South of Caucasus, that very destiny of slavery and of partition
into great empires, which has always hung over them. The great plains of
Asia fit it for the action of cavalry and vast armies--by which the fate
of generations is decided in a day; and at the same time fit it for the
support of those infinite myriads without object, which make human life
cheap and degraded. That this was so is evident from what Xenophon

On the other hand, many have seen in the conformation of Greece
revolving round a nucleus able to protect in case of invasion, yet cut
up into so many little chambers, of which each was sacred from the
intrusion of the rest during the infancy of growth, the solution of all
the marvels which Grecian history unfolds.


[20] This distinction is of some consequence. Else the student would be
puzzled at finding [which is really the truth] that, after the Twelve
Cæsars and the five patriotic emperors who succeeded them, we know less
of the Roman princes through centuries after the Christian era, than of
the Roman Consuls through a space of three centuries preceding the
Christian era. In fact, except for a few gossiping and merely _personal_
anecdotes communicated by the Augustan History and a few other
authorities, we really know little of the most illustrious amongst the
Roman emperors of the West, beyond the fact (all but invariable) that
they perished by assassination. But still this darkness is not of the
same nature, nor owing to the same causes, as the Grecian darkness prior
to the Olympiads.

[21] Except, indeed, by the barbarous contrivance of cutting away some
letters from a name, and then filling up their place with other letters
which, by previous agreement, have been rendered significant of
arithmetic numbers. This is the idea on which the _Memoria Technica_ of
Dr. Grey proceeds. More appropriately it might have been named _Memoria
Barbarica_, for the dreadful violence done to the most beautiful,
rhythmical, and melodious names would, at any rate, have remained as a
repulsive expression of barbarism to all musical ears, had the practical
benefits of this machinery been all that they profess to be. Meantime
these benefits are really none at all. They offer us a mere mockery,
defeating with one hand what they accomplish with the other.

[22] It is all but an impossible problem for a nation in the situation
of Greece to send down a record to a posterity distant by five
centuries, to overlap the gulf of years between the point of
starting--the absolute now of commencement and the remote generation at
which you take aim. Trust to tradition, not to the counsel of one man.
But tradition is buoyant.

[23] _Crusade._--There seems a contradiction in the very terms of
Pagan--that is, non-Christian, and Crusade--that is, warfare
symbolically Christian. But, by a license not greater than is often
practised in corresponding circumstances, the word Crusade may be used
to express any martial expedition amongst a large body of confederate
nations having or representing an imaginative (not imaginary) interest
or purpose with no direct profession of separate or mercenary object for
each nation apart.

[24] The truths of Scripture are of too vast a compass, too much like
the Author of those truths--illimitable and incapable of verbal
circumscription, and, besides, are too much diffused through many
collateral truths, too deeply echoed and reverberated by trains of
correspondences and affinities laid deep in nature, and above all, too
affectingly transcribed in the human heart, ever to come within the
compass or material influence of a few words this way or that; any more
than all eternity can be really and locally confined within a little
golden ring which is assumed for its symbol. The same thing, I repeat,
may be said of chronology and its accidents. The chronologies of
Scripture, its prophetic weeks of Daniel, and its mysterious æons of the
Apocalypse, are too awful in their realities, too vast in their sweep
and range of application, to be controlled or affected by the very
utmost errors that could arise from lapse of time or transcription
unrevised. And the more so, because errors that by the supposition are
errors of accident, cannot all point in one direction: one would be
likely in many cases to compensate another. But, finally, I would make
this frank acknowledgment to a young pupil without fear that it could
affect her reverence for Scripture. It is of the very grandeur of
Scripture that she can afford to be negligent of her chronology. Suppose
this case: suppose the Scriptures protected by no special care or
providence; suppose no security, no barrier to further errors, to have
arisen from the discovery of printing--suppose the Scriptures to be in
consequence transcribed for thousands of years--even in that case the
final result would be this: it would be (and in part perhaps it really
is) true or not true as to its minor or petty chronology--not true, as
having been altered insensibly like any human composition where the
internal sense was not of a nature to maintain its integrity. True, even
as to trifles, in that sense which the majestic simplicity and
self-conformity of truth in a tale originally true would guarantee, it
might yet be, because of the grandeur of the main aim, and the sense of
deeper relations and the perception of verisimilitude.

[25] '_A New Slave Country_'--and this for more reasons than one. Slaves
were growing dearer in Rome; secondly, a practice had been for some time
increasing amongst the richest of the noble families in Rome, of growing
household bodies of gladiators, by whose aid they fought the civic
battles of ambition; and thirdly, as to Cæsar in particular, he had
raised and equipped a whole legion out of his own private funds, and, of
course, for his own private service; so that he probably looked to
Britain as a new quarry from which he might obtain the human materials
of his future armies, and also as an arena or pocket theatre, in which
he could organize and discipline these armies secure from jealous

[26] Here the pupil will naturally object--was not Judæa an Asiatic
land? And did not Judæa act upon Europe? Doubtless; and in the sublimest
way by which it is possible for man to act upon man; not only through
the highest and noblest part of man's nature, but (as most truly it may
be affirmed) literally creating, in a practical sense, that nature. For,
to say nothing of the sublime idea of Redemption as mystically involved
in the types and prophecies of Jewish prophets, and in the very
ceremonies of the Jewish religion, what was the very highest ideal of
God which man--philosophic man even--had attained, compared with that of
the very meanest Jew? It is false to say that amongst the philosophers
of Greece or Rome the Polytheistic creed was rejected. No Pagan
philosopher ever adopted, ever even conceived, the sublime of the Jewish
God--as a being not merely of essential unity, but as deriving from that
unity the moral relations of a governor and a retributive judge towards
human creatures. So that Judæa bore an office for the human race of a
most awful and mysterious sanctity. But (and partly for that reason) the
civil and social relations of Judæa to the human race were less than
nothing. And thence arose the intolerant scorn of such writers as
Tacitus for the Christians, whom, of course, they viewed as Jews, and
nothing _but_ Jews. Thus far they were right--that, as a nation, valued
upon the only scale known to politicians, the Jews brought nothing at
all to the common fund of knowledge or civilization. One element of
knowledge, however, the Jews did bring, though at that time unknown, and
long after, for want of historic criticism in the history of chronologic
researches, viz., a chronology far superior to that of the Septuagint,
as will be shown farther on, and far superior to the main guides of
Paganism. But the reason why this superiority of chronology will, after
all, but little avail the general student is, that it relates merely to
the Assyrian or Persian princes in their intercourse with the courts of
Jerusalem or of Samaria.

[27] Juba, King of Mauritania, during the struggle of Cæsar and Pompey.

[28] Which clannish feeling, be it observed, always depends for its life
and intensity upon the comparison with others; as they are despised, in
that ratio rises the clannish self-estimation. Whereas the nobler pride
of a Roman patriotism is [Greek: autarkês] and independent of external
relations. Nothing is more essentially opposed, though often confounded
under the common name of patriotism, than the love of country in a Roman
or English sense, and the spirit of clannish jealousy.

[29] This it was (a circumstance overlooked by many who have written on
the Roman literature), this destiny announced and protected by early
auguries, which made the idea of Rome a great and imaginative idea. The
patriotism of the Grecian was, as indicated in an earlier note, a mean,
clannish feeling, always courting support to itself, and needing support
from imaginary 'barbarism' in its enemies, and raising itself into
greatness by means of _their_ littleness. But with the nobler Roman
patriotism was a very different thing. The august destiny of his own
eternal city [observe--'_eternal_,' not in virtue of history, but of
prophecy, not upon the retrospect and the analogies of any possible
experience, but by the necessity of an aboriginal doom], a city that was
to be the centre of an empire whose circumference is everywhere, did not
depend for any part of its majesty upon the meanness of its enemies; on
the contrary, in the very grandeur of those enemies lay, by a rebound of
the feelings inevitable to a Roman mind, the paramount grandeur of that
awful Republic which had swallowed them all up.

[30] I do not mean to deny the casual intercourse between Rome and
particular cities of Greece, which sometimes flash upon us for a moment
in the earliest parts of the Roman annals: what I am insisting upon, is
the absence of all national or effectual intercourse.

[31] Even an attorney, however [according to an old story, which I much
fear is a Joe Miller, but which ought to be fact], is not so rigorous as
to allow of no latitude, for, having occasion to send a challenge with
the stipulation of fighting at twelve paces, upon 'engrossing' this
challenge the attorney directed his clerk to add--'Twelve paces, be the
same more or less.' And so I say of the Olympiad--'777 years, be the
same more or less.'

[32] And finally, were it necessary to add one word by way of
reconciling the student to the substitution of 777 for 776, it might be
sufficient to remind him that, even in the rigour of the minutest
calculus, when the 776 years are fully accomplished--to prove which
accomplishment we must suppose some little time over and above the 776
to have elapsed--then this surplus, were it but a single hour, throws us
at once into the 777th year. This was, in fact, the oversight which
misled a class of disputants, whom I hope the reader is too young to
remember, but whom I, alas! remember too well in the year 1800. They
imagined and argued that the eighteenth century closed upon the first
day of the year 1800. New Year's Day of the year 1799, they understood
as the birthday of the Christian Church, proclaiming it to be then 1799
years old, not as commencing its 1799th year. And so on. Pye, the Poet
Laureate of that day, in an elaborate preface to a secular ode, argued
the point very keenly. It is certain (though not evident at first sight)
that in the year 1839 the Christian period of time is not, as children
say, '_going of_' 1840, but going of 1839: whereas the other party
contend that it is in its 1840th year, tending in short to become that
which it will actually be on its birthday, _i.e._, on the calends of
January, or _le Jour de l'an_, or New Year's Day of 1840.

[33] See note immediately preceding on previous page.

[34] '_With impunity._'--There is no one point in which I have found a
more absolute coincidence of opinion amongst all profound thinkers,
English, German, and French, when discussing the philosophy of
education, than this great maxim--_that the memory ought never to be
exercised in a state of insulation_, that is, in those blank efforts of
its strength which are accompanied by no law or logical reason for the
thing to be remembered; by no such reason or principle of dependency as
could serve to recall it in after years, when the burthen may have
dropped out of the memory. The reader will perhaps think that I, the
writer of this little work, have a pretty strong and faithful memory,
when I tell him that every word of it, with all its details, has been
written in a situation which sternly denied me the use of books bearing
on my subject. A few volumes of rhetorical criticism and of polemic
divinity, that have not, nor, to my knowledge, could have furnished me
with a solitary fact or date, are all the companions of my solitude.
Other voice than the voice of the wind I have rarely heard. Even my
quotations are usually from memory, though not always, as one out of
three, perhaps, I had fortunately written down in a pocket-book; but no
one date or fact has been drawn from any source but that of my
unassisted memory. Now, this useful sanity of the memory I ascribe
entirely to the accident of my having escaped in childhood all such
mechanic exercises of the memory as I have condemned in the text--to
this accident, combined with the constant and severe practice I have
given to my memory, in working and sustaining immense loads of facts
that had been previously brought under logical laws.

[35] '_The long careering of an earthquake._'--It is remarkable, and was
much noticed at the time by some German philosophers, that the
earthquake which laid Lisbon in ruins about ninety-five years ago, could
be as regularly traced through all its stages for some days previous to
its grand _finale_, as any thief by a Bow Street officer. It passed
through Ireland and parts of England; in particular it was dogged
through a great part of Leicestershire; and its rate of travelling was
not so great but that, by a series of telegraphs, timely notice might
have been sent southwards that it was coming. [The Lisbon earthquake
occurred in 1755; so that this paper must have been written about 1849
or 1850.--ED.]

[36] '_The exact personality._'--The historical personality, or complete
identification of an individual, lies in the whole body of circumstances
that would be sufficient to determine him as a responsible agent in a
court of justice. Archbishop Usher and others fancy that Sardanapalus
was the son of Pul; guided merely by the sound of a syllable.
Tiglath-Pileser, some fancy to be the same person as Sardanapalus;
others to be the very rebel who overthrew Sardanapalus. In short, all is
confused and murky to the very last degree. And the reader who fancies
that some accurate chronological characters are left, by which the era
of Sardanapalus can be more nearly determined than it is determined
above, viz., as generally coinciding with the era of Romulus and of the
Greek Olympiad, is grossly imposed upon.

[37] '_And Asiatic._'--_Asiatic_, let the pupil observe, and not merely
Assyrian; for the Assyria of this era represents all that was afterwards
Media, Persia, Chaldæa, Babylonia, and Syria. No matter for the exact
limits of the Assyrian empire, which are as indistinct in space as in
time. Enough that no Asiatic State is known as distinct from this

[38] And this is so exceedingly striking, that I am much surprised at
the learned disputants upon the era of Homer having failed to notice
this argument; especially when we see how pitiably poor they are in
probabilities or presumptions of any kind. The miserable shred of an
argument with those who wish to carry up Homer as high as any colourable
pretext will warrant, is this, that he must have lived pretty near to
the war which he celebrates, inasmuch as he never once alludes to a
great revolutionary event in the Peloponnesus. Consequently, it is
argued, Homer did not live to witness that revolution. Yet he must have
witnessed it, if he had lived at the distance of eighty years from the
capture of Troy; for such was the era of that event, viz., the return of
the Heraclidæ. Now, in answer to this, it is obvious to say that
negations prove little. Homer has failed to notice, has omitted to
notice, or found no occasion for noticing, scores of great facts
contemporary with Troy, or contemporary with himself, which yet must
have existed for all that. In particular, he has left us quite in the
dark about the great empires, and the great capitals on the Euphrates
and the Tigris, and the Nile; and yet it was of some importance to have
noticed the relation in which the kingdom of Priam stood to the great
potentates on those rivers. The argument, therefore, drawn from the
non-notice of the Heraclidæ, is but trivial. On the other hand, an
argument of some strength for a lower era as the true era of Homer, may
be drawn from the much slighter colouring of the marvellous, which in
Homer's treatment of the story attaches to the _Iliad_, than to the
_Seven against Thebes_. In the Iliad we have the mythologic marvellous
sometimes; the marvellous of necessity surrounding the gods and their
intercourse with men; but we have no Amphiaraus swallowed up by the
earth, no Oedipus descending into a mysterious gulf at the summons of an
unseen power. And beyond all doubt the shield of Achilles, supposing it
no interpolation of a later age, argues a much more advanced state of
the arts of design, etc., than the shields, (described by Æschylus, as
we may suppose, from ancient traditions preserved in the several
families), of the seven chiefs who invaded Thebes.

[39] '_Seven-gated_,' both as an expression which recalls the subject of
the Romance (the Seven Anti-Theban Chieftains), and as one which
distinguishes this Grecian Thebes from the Egyptian Thebes; that being
called _Hekatómpylos_, or _Hundred-gated_. Of course some little
correction will always be silently applied to the general expression, so
as to meet the difference between the two generations that served at
Troy and in the Argonautic expedition, and again between David and his
son. If the elder generation be fixed to the year 1000, then 1000
_minus_ 30 will express the era of the younger; if the younger be fixed
to the year 1000, then 1000 _plus_ 30 will express the era of the elder.
Or, better still, 1000 may be taken as the half-way era in which both
generations met; that era in which the father was yet living and active,
whilst the son was already entering upon manhood; that era, for
instance, at which David was still reigning, though his son Solomon had
been crowned. On this plan, no correction at all will be required; 15
years on each side of the 1000 will mark the two terms within which the
events and persons range; and the 1000 will be the central point of the

[40] Elam is the Scriptural name for Persia.

[41] 'Alala! Alala!' the war cry of Eastern armies.

[42] And for the very reason that political economy had but a small
share in determining the war of the year A, it became not so much a
great force as the sole force for putting an end to the war of the year


Some time back I published in this journal a little paper on the
Californian madness--for madness I presumed it to be, and upon two
grounds. First, in so far as men were tempted into a lottery under the
belief that it was _not_ a lottery; or, if it really _were_ such, that
it was a lottery without blanks. Secondly, in so far as men were tempted
into a transitory speculation under the delusion that it was not
transitory, but rested on some principle of permanence. We have since
seen the Californian case repeated, upon a scale even of exaggerated
violence, in Australia. There also, if great prizes seemed to be won in
a short time, it was rashly presumed that something like an equitable
distribution of these prizes took place. Supposing ten persons to have
obtained £300 in a fortnight, people failed to observe that, if divided
amongst the entire party of which these ten persons formed a section,
the £300 would barely have yielded average wages. In one instance a very
broad illustration of this occurred in the early experience of Victoria.
A band of seven thousand people had worked together; whether simply in
the sense of working as neighbours in the same local district, or in the
commercial sense of working as partners, I do not know, nor is it
material to know. The result sounded enormous, when stated in a
fragmentary way with reference to particular days, and possibly in
reference also to particular persons, distinguished for luck, but on
taking the trouble to sum up the whole amount of labourers, of days, and
of golden ounces extracted, it did not appear that the wages to each
individual could have averaged quite so much as twenty shillings a week,
supposing the total product to have been on that principle of
participation. Very possibly it was _not_; and in that case the gains of
some individuals may have been enormous. But a prudent man, if he quits
a certainty or migrates from a distance, will compute his prospects upon
this scale of averages, and assuredly not upon the accidents of
exceptional luck. The instant objection will be, that such luck is _not_
exceptional, but represents the ordinary case. Let us consider. The
reports are probably much exaggerated; and something of the same
machinery for systematic exaggeration is already forming itself as
operated so beneficially for California. As yet, however, it is not
absolutely certain that the reports themselves, taken literally, would
exactly countenance the romantic impressions drawn from those reports by
the public.

Until the reader has checked the accounts, or, indeed, has been enabled
to check them, by balancing the amount of gain against the amount of
labour applied, he cannot know but that the reports themselves would
show on examination a series of unusual successes set against a series
of entire failures, so as to leave a _facit_, after all corrections and
allowances, of moderately good wages upon an equal distribution of the
whole. I would remind him to propose this question: has it been
asserted, even by these wild reports, with respect to any thousand men
(taken as an aggregate), I do not mean to say that all have succeeded,
or even that a majority have not failed decisively--that is more than I
demand--but has it been asserted that they have realized so much in any
week or any month as would, if divided equally amongst losers and
winners, have allowed to each man anything conspicuously above the rate
of ordinary wages? Of lotteries in general it has been often remarked,
that if you buy a single ticket you have but a poor chance of winning,
if you buy twenty tickets your chance is very much worse, and if you buy
all the tickets your chance is none at all, but is exchanged for a
certainty of loss. So as to the gold lottery of Australia, I suspect
(and, observe, not assuming the current reports to be false, but, on the
contrary, to be strictly correct for each separate case, only needing to
be combined and collated as a whole) that if each separate century[43]
of men emigrating to the goldfield of Mount Alexander were to make a
faithful return of their aggregate winnings, that return would not prove
seductive at all to our people at home, supposing these winnings to be
distributed equally as amongst an incorporation of adventurers; though
it _has_ proved seductive in the case of the extraordinary success being
kept apart so as to fix and fascinate the gaze into an oblivion of the
counterbalancing failures.

There is, however, notoriously, a natural propensity amongst men to
confide in their luck; and, as this is a wholesome propensity in the
main, it may seem too harsh to describe by the name of _mania_ even a
morbid excess of it, though it ought to strike the most sanguine man,
that in order to account for the possibility of any failures at all, we
must suppose the main harvest of favourable chances to decay with the
first month or so of occupation by any commensurate body of settlers; so
that in proportion to the strength and reality of the promises to the
earliest settlers, will have been the rapid exhaustion of such promises.
Exactly _because_ the district was really a choice one for those who
came first, it must often be ruined for _him_ who succeeds him.

Here, then, is a world of disappointments prepared and preparing for
future emigrants. The favourite sports and chief lands of promise will
by the very excess of their attractiveness have converged upon
themselves the great strength of the reapers; and in very many cases the
main harvest will have been housed before the new race of adventurers
from Great Britain can have reached the ground. In most cases,
therefore, ruin would be the instant solution of the disappointment. But
in a country so teeming with promise as Australia, ruin is hardly a
possible event. A hope lost is but a hope transfigured. And one is
reminded of a short colloquy that took place on the field of Marengo.
'Is this battle lost?' demanded Napoleon of Desaix. 'It is,' replied
Desaix; 'but, before the sun sets, there is plenty of time to win it
back.' In like manner the new comers, on reaching the appointed grounds,
will often have cause to say, 'Are we ruined this morning?' To which the
answer will not unfrequently be, 'Yes; but this is the best place for
being ruined that has yet been discovered. You have trusted to the
guidance of a _will-of-the-wisp_; but a _will-of-the-wisp_ has been
known to lead a man by accident to a better path than that which he had
lost.' There is no use, therefore, in wasting our pity upon those who
may happen to suffer by the first of the two delusions which I noticed,
viz., the conceit that either Australia or California offers a lottery
without blanks. Blanks too probably they will draw; but what matters it,
when this disappointment cannot reach them until they find themselves
amidst a wilderness of supplementary hopes? One prize has been lost, but
twenty others have been laid open that had never been anticipated.

Far different, on the other hand, is the second delusion--the delusion
of those who mistake a transitional for a permanent prosperity, and many
of whom go so far in their frenzy as to see only matter of
congratulation in the very extremity of changes, which (if realized)
would carry desperate ruin into our social economy. For these people
there is no indemnification. I begin with this proposition--that no
material extension can be given to the use of gold after great national
wants are provided for, without an enormous lowering of its price: which
lowering, if once effected, and exactly in proportion as it is effected,
takes away from the gold-diggers all motive for producing it. The
dilemma is this, and seems to me inevitable: Given a certain
depreciation of gold, as, for instance, by 80 per cent., then the
profits of the miners falling in that same proportion[44] (viz., by
four-fifths) will leave no temptation whatever to pursue the trade of
digging. But, on the other hand, such a depreciation _not_ being
given--gold being supposed to range at anything approaching to its old
price--in that case no considerable extension as to the uses of gold is
possible. In either case alike the motive for producing gold rapidly
decays. To keep up any steady encouragement to the miners, the market
for gold must be prodigiously extended. That the market may be extended,
new applications of gold must be devised: the old applications would not
absorb more than a very limited increase. That new applications may be
devised, a prodigious lowering of the price is required. But precisely
as that result is approached the _extra_ encouragement to the miners
vanishes. _That_ drooping, the production will droop, even if nature
should continue the extra supplies; and the old state of prices must
restore itself.

The whole turns upon the possibility of extending the market for gold. A
child must see that, if the demand for gold cannot be materially
increased, it is altogether nugatory that nature should indefinitely
enlarge the supply. In articles that adapt themselves to a variable
scale of uses, so as to be capable of substitution for others, according
to the relations of price, it is often possible enough that, in the
event of any change which may lower their price, the increased demand
may go on without assignable limits. For instance, when iron rises
immoderately in price, timber is substituted to an indefinite extent.
But, on the other hand, where the application is severely circumscribed,
no fall of price will avail to extend the demand. Certain herbs, for
instance, or minerals, employed for medicinal purposes, and for those
only, have their supply regulated by the demand of hospitals and of
private medical practitioners. That demand being once exhausted, no
cheapness whatever will extend the market. Suppose the European market
for leeches to be saturated; every man, suppose, is supplied; in that
case, even an _extra_ thousand cannot be sold. The purpose which leeches
answer has been met. And after _that_ nobody will take them as a gift.
But in the case of gold, it is imagined that, although the market is
pretty stationary whilst the price is stationary, let that price
materially lower itself, and immediately the substitutions of gold for
other metals, or for other decorative materials (as ivory, etc.), would
begin to extend; and commensurately with such extensions the regular
gold market would widen. This is the prevailing conceit. Now let us
consider it.

What are the known applications of gold in the old state of
circumstances, which may be supposed capable of furnishing a basis for
extension in the altered circumstances? I will rapidly review them.
First, a very large amount of gold more than people would imagine is
annually wasted in gilding. Much of what has been applied to other
purposes is continually reverting to the market; but the gold used in
gilding is absolutely lost. This already makes a drain upon the gold
market; but will that drain be materially larger in the event of gold
falling by 50 _per cent._? Apparently not. Amongst ourselves the chief
subjects of gilding are books, picture-frames, and some varieties of
porcelain. But none of these would be bought more extensively in
consequence of gold being cheap: a man does not buy a book, for
instance, simply with a view to its being gilt; the gilding follows as a
contingency depending upon a previous act not modified in any degree by
the price of gold. In the decoration of houses it is true that hitherto
our English expenditure of gilding has been very trifling compared with
that of France and Italy, and to a great extent therefore would allow of
an increased use. Cornices, for instance, in rooms, and sections of
panels, are rarely gilt with us; and apart from any reference to the
depreciation of gold, I believe that this particular application of it
is sensibly increasing at present. Of course an improvement, which has
already begun, would extend itself further under a reduced price of
gold; yet still, as the class of houses so decorated is somewhat
aristocratic, the effect could not be very important. On the Continent
it is probable that at any rate gilding will be more extensively applied
to out-of-doors decoration, as for example, of domes, cupolas,
balustrades, etc. But all architectural innovations are slow in
travelling! And I am of opinion that five to seven thousand pounds'
worth of gold would cover all the augmented expenditure of this class.
It is doubtful, indeed, whether all the increase of gilding will do more
than balance the total abolition of it on the panels of carriages. In
the time of Louis XIV. an immense expenditure occurred in this way, and
the disuse of it is owing to the superior chastity of taste amongst our
English carriage-builders, who, in this particular art, have shot far
ahead of continental Europe. But the main consumption of gold occurs,
first, I should imagine, in watches and watch chains; secondly, in
personal ornaments; and thirdly, in gold plate. Now we must remember, at
starting, that what is called jewellers' gold, even when manufactured by
honourable tradesmen, avowedly contains a very much smaller proportion
of the pure metal than our gold coinage. Consequently an increase in the
use of watches and personal ornaments, or of such trinkets as
snuff-boxes, supposing it in the first year of cheapened gold to go the
length of 20 per cent., would not even in that department of the gold
demand enhance it by one-fifth, but perhaps by one-fourth the part of
one-fifth--that is to say, by one-twentieth. The reader, I hope,
understands me, for upon _that_ depends a pretty strong presumption of
the small real change that would be worked in the effective demand for
gold by a great apparent change in our chief demand for gold
manufactures. There can be no doubt that in watches and personal
ornaments is involved our main demand upon the gold market; through
these it is that we chiefly act upon the market. Now three corrections
are applicable to the _primâ facie_ view of this subject.

The first of these is--that gold chains, etc., and a pompous display of
rings have long ago been degraded in public estimation by the practice
and opinions prevailing in aristocratic quarters. This tendency of
public feeling at once amounts to a large deduction from what would
otherwise be our demand.

The second of these corrections is--that, since our main action upon the
gold market lies through the jewellers, and, consequently, through
jewellers' gold, therefore, on allowing for the way in which jewellers
alloy their gold, our real means of operating upon the gold market may
be estimated perhaps at not more than one-fourth part of our apparent

A third important correction is this--at first sight it might seem as
though the purchaser of gold articles would benefit by the whole
depreciation of gold, and that the depreciation might be taken to
represent exactly the amount of stimulation applied to the sale, for
instance, of gold plate. But this is not so. Taking the depreciation of
gold at one-half, then upon any gold article, as suppose a salver, each
ounce would have sunk from 77s. to 38s. 6d. Next, rate the workmanship
at 40s. the ounce, and then the total cost upon each ounce will not be
(77s. + 40)/2, or in other words 58s. 6d., as a hasty calculation might
have fancied, but (77s./2) + 40, that is to say, 78s. 6d. Paying
heretofore £5 17s., under the new price of gold you would pay £4 within
a trifle. Consequently, when those who argue for the vast extension of
the gold market, rely for its possibility upon a vast preliminary
depreciation of gold, they are deceiving themselves as to the nature and
compass of that depreciation. The main action of the public upon the
gold market must always lie through _wrought_ and not through unwrought
gold, and in this there must always be two elements of price, viz., X,
the metal, and Y, the workmanship; so that the depreciation will never
be = (_x_ + _y_)/2 but only _x_/2 + _y_; and _y_, which is a very costly
element, will never be bound at all, not by the smallest fraction,
through any possible change in the cost of _x_.

This is a most important consideration; for if the price of gold could
fall to nothing at all, not the less the high price of the
workmanship--this separately for itself--would for ever prevent the
great bulk of society from purchasing gold plate. Yet, through what
other channel than this of plate is it possible for any nation to reach
the gold market by any effectual action upon the price? M. Chevalier,
the most influential of French practical economists, supposes the case
that California might reduce the price of gold by one-half. Let us say,
by way of evading fractions, that gold may settle finally at the price
of forty shillings the ounce. But to what purpose would the diggers
raise enormous depôts of gold for which they can have no commensurate
demand? As yet the true difficulty has not reached them. The tendency
was frightful; but, within the short period through which the new power
has yet worked, there was not range enough to bring this tendency into
full play. Now, however, when new powers of the same quality, viz., in
Australia, in Queen Charlotte's Island, in Owhyhee, and, lastly, on Lord
Poltimore's estate in South Moulton, are in working, it seems sensibly
nearer. It is a literal fact that we have yet to ascertain whether this
vaunted gold will even pay for the costs of working it. Coals lying at
the very mouth of a pit will be thankfully carried off by the poor man,
but dig a little deeper, and it requires the capital of a rich man to
raise them; and after _that_ it requires a good deal of experience, and
the trial of much mechanic artifice, to ascertain whether after all it
will be worth while to raise them. To leap from the conclusion--that,
because a solitary prize of 25 lb. weight may largely remunerate an
emigrant to California, therefore a whole generation of emigrants will
find the average profits of gold-washing, golddigging, etc., beyond
those of Russia or of Borneo, is an insanity quite on a level with all
the other insanities of the case. But, says the writer in the _Times_,
the fact has justified the speculation; the result is equal to the
anticipation; in practice nobody has been disappointed; everybody has
succeeded; nobody complains of any delusion. We beg his pardon. There
have been very distinct complaints of that nature. These have proceeded
not from individuals merely, but from associations of ten or twelve,
who, after working for some time, have not reaped the ordinary profits
on their expenses; whereas, they were also entitled to expect high wages
for their labour, in addition to extravagant profits on their outlay.
Yet, suppose this to have been otherwise, what shadow of an argument can
be drawn from the case of those privileged few, who entered upon a
virgin harvest, applicable to the multitudes who will succeed to an
inheritance of ordinary labour, tried in all quarters of the globe, and
seldom indeed found to _terminate_ in any extra advantages?


[43] '_Century of Men_,'--It may be necessary to remind some readers
that this expression, to which I resort for want of any better or
briefer, is strictly correct. The original Latin word _centuria_ is a
collection of one hundred separate items, no matter what, whether men,
horses, ideas, etc. 'A Century of Sonnets' was properly taken as the
title of a book. 'A Century of Inventions' was adopted by Lord Worcester
as the title of _his_ book. And when we use the word century (as
generally we do) to indicate a certain duration of time, it is allowable
only on the understanding that it is an elliptical expression; the full
expression is _a century of years_.

[44] 'In that same proportion,' but in reality the profits would fall in
a much greater proportion. To illustrate this, suppose the existing
price of gold in Australia to be sixty shillings an oz. I assume the
price at random, as being a matter of no importance; but, in fact, I
understand that at Melbourne, and other places in the province of
Victoria, this really _is_ the ruling price at present. For some little
time the price was steady at fifty-seven shillings; that is, assuming
the mint price in England to be seventy-seven shillings (neglecting the
fraction of 10-1/2d.), and the Australian price sank by twenty
shillings; which sinking, however, we are not to understand as any
depreciation that had the character of permanence; it arose out of local
circumstances. Subsequently the price fell as low even as forty-five
shillings, where it halted, and soon ascended again to sixty shillings.
Sixty shillings therefore let us postulate as the present price. Upon
this sum descended the expenses of the miner. Let these, including
tools, machinery, etc., be assumed at three half-crowns for each ounce
of gold. Then, at a price of sixty shillings, this discount descends
upon each sovereign to the amount of one half-crown, or one-eighth. But
at a reduced price of thirty shillings, this discount of three
half-crowns amounts to one-fourth. And, at a price of twelve shillings,
it amounts to five-eighths. So that, as the gross profits descend, the
_nett_ profits descend in a still heavier proportion.


It is by a continued _secretion_ (so to speak) of all which forces
itself to the surface of national importance in the way of patriotic
services that the English peerage keeps itself alive. Stop the laurelled
trophies of the noble sailor or soldier pouring out his heart's blood
for his country, stop the intellectual movement of the lawyer or the
senatorial counsellor, and immediately the sources are suffocated
through which _our_ peerage is self-restorative. The simple truth is,
how humiliating soever it may prove I care not, that whether positively
by cutting off the honourable sources of addition, or negatively by
cutting off the ordinary source of subtraction, the other peerages of
Europe are peerages of _Fainéans_. Pretend not to crucify for ignominy
the sensual and torpid princes of the Franks; in the same boat row all
the peerages that _can_ have preserved their regular hereditary descent
amongst civil feuds which _ought_ to have wrecked them. The Spanish, the
Scotch, the Walloon nobility are all of them nobilities from which their
several countries would do well to cut themselves loose, so far as
_that_ is possible. How came _you_, my lord, we justly say to this and
that man, proud of his ancient descent, to have brought down your
wretched carcase to this generation, except by having shrunk from all
your bloody duties, and from all the chances that beset a gallant
participation in the dreadful enmities of your country? Would you make
it a reproach to the Roman Fabii that 299 of that house perished in
fighting for their dear motherland? And that, if a solitary Fabius
survived for the rekindling of the house, it was because the restorer of
his house had been an infant at the æra of his household catastrophe.
And if, through such burning examples of patriotism, far remote
collateral descendants entered upon the succession, was this a reproach?
Was this held to vitiate or to impair the heraldic honours? A
disturbance, a convulsion, that shook the house back into its primitive
simplicities of standing, was that a shock to its hereditary grandeur?
If it _had_ been, there perished the efficient fountain of nobility as
any _national_ or _patriotic_ honour; that being extinguished, it became
a vile, _personal_ distinction. For instance, like the Roman Fabii, the
major part of the English nobility was destroyed in the contest (though
so short a contest) of the two Roses. To restore it at all, recourse was
had to every mode of healing family wounds through distant marriage
connections, etc. But in the meantime, to a Spanish or a Scottish
nobleman, who should have insisted upon the _directness_ of his descent,
the proper answer would have been: 'Dog! in what kennel were you lurking
when such and such civil feuds were being agitated? As an honest man, as
a gallant man, ten times over you ought to have died, had you felt,
which the English nobility of the fifteenth century _did_ feel, that
your peerage was your summons to the field of battle and the scaffold.'
For, again in later years than the fifteenth century, the English
nobility--those even who, like the Scotch, had gained their family
wealth by plundering the Church--in some measure washed out this
original taint by standing forward as champions of what they considered
(falsely or truly) national interests. The Russells, the Cavendishes,
the Sidneys, even in times of universal profligacy, have held aloft the
standard of their order; and no one can forget the many peers in Charles
I.'s time, such as Falkland, or the Spencers (Sunderland), or the
Comptons (Northampton), who felt and owned their paramount duty to lie
in public self-dedication, and died therefore, and oftentimes left their
inheritances a desolation. 'Thus far'--oh heavens! with what bitterness
I said this, knowing it a thing undeniable by W. W. or by Sir
George--you, the peerages that pretend to try conclusions with the
English, you--French, German, Walloon, Spanish, Scottish--are able to do
so simply because you are _fainéans_, because in time of public danger
you hid yourselves under your mammas' petticoats, whilst the glorious
work of reaping a bloody harvest was being done by others.

But the English peerage also celebrates services in the Senate as well
as in the field. Look for a moment at the house of Cecil. The interest
in this house was national, and at the same time romantic. Two families
started off--one might say _simultaneously_--from the same radix, for
the difference in point of years was but that which naturally divided
the father and the son. Both were Prime Ministers of England, rehearsing
by anticipation the relations between the two William Pitts--the
statesmen who guided, first, the _Seven Years' War_, from 1757 to 1763;
and, secondly, the French Revolutionary War, from the murder of Louis
XVI. in 1793 to the battle of Trafalgar in October, 1805. Sir William
Cecil, the father, had founded the barony of Burleigh, which
subsequently was raised into the earldom of Exeter. Sir Robert Cecil,
the son, whose personal merits towards James I. were more conspicuous
than those of his father towards Queen Elizabeth, had leaped at once
into the earldom of Salisbury. Through two centuries these distinguished
houses--Exeter the elder and Salisbury the junior--had run against each
other. At length the junior house ran ahead of its elder, being raised
to a marquisate. But in this century the elder righted itself, rising
also to a marquisate. In an ordinary case this would not have won any
notice, but the historic cradle of the two houses, amongst burning feuds
of Reformation and anti-Reformation policy, fiery beyond all that has
ever raged amongst men, fixed the historic eye upon them. Neck and neck
they ran together. Hatfield House for the family of Salisbury, Burleigh
House (founded by the original Lord Burleigh) for the family of Exeter,
expressed in the nineteenth century that fraternal conflict which had
commenced in the sixteenth. Personal merits, if any such had varied and
coloured the pretensions of this or that generation, had, in the midst
of wealth and ease and dignity, withdrawn themselves from notice, except
that about the splendid decennium of the Regency and the second
decennium of George IV.'s reign, no lady of the Court had been so
generally acceptable to the world of fashion and elegance, domestic or
foreign, as the Marchioness of Salisbury, whose tragical death by fire
at Hatfield House, in spite of her son's heroic exertions, was as
memorable for the last generation as the similar tragedy at the Austrian
Ambassador's continued to be for the Court and generation of
Napoleon.[45] It is not often that two kindred houses, belonging in the
Roman sense to the same _gens_ or clan, run against each other with
parity of honour and public consideration through nearly three
centuries. The present representative of the Exeter house of the
Cecils[46] was not individually considered a very interesting person.
Or, at least, any interest that might distinguish him did not adapt
itself to conversational display. His personal story was more remarkable
than he was himself.


[45] Napoleon attached a superstitious importance to this event. In
1813, upon the sudden death of Moreau, whilst as yet the circumstances
were entirely unknown, he fancied strangely enough that the ambassador
(Prince Schwartzenberg) whose fête had given birth to the tragedy, must
himself have been prefigured.

[46] 'The present representative of the Exeter Cecils' was the father of
the present peer, Brownlow, 2nd Marquis; born 2nd July, 1785; succeeded
1st May, 1804, and died 16th Jan., 1867.--ED.


The sincerity of an author sometimes borrows an advantageous
illustration from the repulsiveness of his theme. That a subject is
dull, however unfortunately it may operate for the impression which he
seeks to produce, must at least acquit him of seeking any aid to that
impression from alien and meretricious attractions. Is a subject
hatefully associated with recollections of bigotry, of ignorance, of
ferocious stupidity, of rancour, and of all uncharitableness? In that
case, the reader ought to be persuaded that nothing less than absolute
consciousness--in that case he ought to know that nothing short of TRUTH
(not necessarily as it _is_, but at least as it _appears_ to the writer)
can have availed to draw within an arena of violence and tiger-like
_acharnement_ one who, by temperament and by pressure of bodily disease,
seeks only for repose. Most unwillingly I enter the ring. Mere disgust
at the wicked injustice, which I have witnessed silently through the
last three months, forces me into the ranks of the combatants. Mere
sympathy with the ill-used gives me any motive for stirring. People have
turned Christian from witnessing the torments suffered with divine
heroism by Christian martyrs. And I think it not impossible that many
hearts may be turned favourably towards Popery by the mere recoil of
disgust from the savage insolence with which for three weeks back it has
in this country been tied to a stake, and baited. The actors, or at
least the leaders, in such scenes seem to forget that Popery has
peculiar fascinations of her own; her errors, supposing even all to be
errors which Protestantism denounces for such, lie in doctrinal points;
but her merit, and her prodigious advantage over Protestantism, lies in
the devotional spirit which she is able to kindle and to sustain amongst
simple, docile, and confiding hearts. In mere prudence it ought to be
remembered, that to love, to trust, to adore, is a far more contagious
tendency amongst the poor, the wretched, and the despised, than to
question, investigate, and reflect.

How, then, did this movement begin? By _that_, perhaps, we may learn
something of its quality. Who was it that first roused this movement?
The greater half of the nation, viz., all the lower classes, cannot be
said to have shared in the passions of the occasion; but the educated
classes, either upon a sincere impulse, or in a spirit of excessive
imitation, have come forward with a perseverance, which (in a case of
perils confessedly so vague) is more like a moonstruck infatuation than
any other recorded in history. Until Parliament met on the 4th of
February, when a Roman Catholic member of the House of Commons first
attempted to give some specific account of the legal effects incident to
a substitution of bishops for vicars apostolic, no man has made the very
cloudiest sketch of the evils that were apprehended, or that _could_ be
apprehended, or that were in the remotest way possible. Sir Edward
Sugden, indeed, came forward with a most unsatisfactory effort to show
how Cardinal Wiseman might be punished, or might be restrained,
supposing that he had done wrong; but not at all to show that the
Cardinal _had_ done wrong, and far less to show that, if wrong could be
alleged, any evils would follow from it. Sir Edward most undoubtedly did
not satisfy himself, and so little did he satisfy anybody else, that
already his letter is forgotten; nor was it urged or relied upon by any
one of the great meetings which succeeded it. Too painful it would be to
think that Sir Edward had in this instance stepped forward
sycophantically, as so many prominent people undoubtedly did, to meet
and to aid a hue and cry of fanaticism simply because it had emanated
from a high quarter. But _what_ quarter? Again I ask, _who_ was it that
originated this fierce outbreak of bigotry? Much depends upon _that_. It
was Lord John Russell, it was the First Minister of the Crown, that
abused the power of his place for a purpose of desperate fanaticism;
yes, and for a purpose which his whole life had been dedicated to
opposing, to stigmatizing, to overthrowing. Right or wrong, he has to
begin life anew. Bigotry may _not_ be bigotry, change of position may
show it under a new aspect. But still upon that, which once was _called_
bigotry, Lord John must now take his stand. Neither will _ratting_ a
second time avail to set him right. These things do not stand under
algebraical laws, as though ratting to the right hand could balance a
ratting to the left, and leave the guilt = 0. On the contrary, five
rattings, of which each is valued at ten, amount to fifty degrees of
crime; or, perhaps, if moral computations were better understood, amount
to a crime that swells by some secret geometrical progression
unintelligible to man.

But now, reader, pause. Suppose that Lord John Russell, aware of some
evil, some calamity or disease, impending over the established Church
of England--sure of this evil, but absolutely unable to describe it by
rational remarks or premonitory symptom, had cast about for a channel by
which he might draw attention to the evil, and, by exposing, make an end
of it. But who could have dreamed that he would have chosen the means he
has chosen? What propriety was there in Lord John's addressing himself
upon such a subject to the Bishop of Durham? Who is that Bishop? And
what are his pretensions to public authority? He is a respectable Greek
scholar; and has re-edited the Prosodiacal Lexicon of Morell--a service
to Greek literature not easily overestimated, and beyond a doubt not
easily executed. But in relation to the Church he is not any official
organ; nor was there either decorum or good sense in addressing a letter
essentially official from the moment that it was published with consent
of the writer, to a person clothed with no sort of official powers or
official relation to the Church of England. If Lord John should have
occasion to communicate with the Bank of England, what levity, and in
the proper sense of the word what impertinence, it would be to invoke
the attention--not of the Governor--but of some clerk in a special
department of that establishment whom Lord John might happen to know.
Which of us, that wishes to bring a grievance before the authorities of
the Post-Office, would address himself to his private friend that might
happen to hold a respectable situation in the Money Order or in the Dead
Letter Office? Of mere necessity, that he might gain for his own
application an official privilege, he would address it to the
Postmaster-General through the Secretary. Not being so addressed, his
communication would take rank as gossip; neither meriting nor obtaining
any serviceable notice. Two points are still in suspense: whether the
people of England as a nation have taken any interest in the uproar
caused by Lord John's letter; and secondly, whether the writer of that
letter took much interest in it himself. Spite of all the noise and
tumult kept up for three months by the Low-Church party, clerks and
laymen, it is still a question with many vigilant lookers-on--whether
the great neutral majority in the lower strata of society (five-sixths
in short of what we mean by the nation) have taken any real interest in
the agitation. Any real share in it, beyond all doubt, they have _not_
taken: the movers in these meetings from first to last would not make
fifteen thousand; and the inert subscribers of Petitions would not make
seventy thousand. Secondly, in spite of the hysterical violence
manifested by the letter of the Premier, and partly in consequence of
that violence (so theatrical and foreign to Lord John's temperament),
many doubt whether he himself carried any sincerity with the movement.
And this doubt is strengthened by the singular indecorum of his having
addressed himself to Dr. Maltby.

Counterfeit zeal is likely enough to have recoiled from its own act in
the very moment of its execution. The purpose of Lord John was
sufficiently answered, if he succeeded in diverting public attention
from quarters in which it might prove troublesome: and to that extent
was sure of succeeding by an extra-official note addressed to any bishop
whatever--whether zoological like the late Bishop of Norwich, or
Prosodiacal like Dr. Maltby. A storm in a slop-basin was desirable for
the moment. But had the desire been profoundly sincere, and had it
soared to that height which _real_ fears for religious interests are apt
to attain, then beyond all doubt the Minister would not have addressed
himself to a Provincial bishop, but to the two Metropolitan bishops of
Canterbury and York. They, but not an inferior prelate, represent the
Church of England.

The letter therefore, had it been solemn and austere in the degree
suitable to an _unsimulated_ panic, would have taken a different
direction. Gossip may be addressed to anybody. He that will listen is
sought for; and not he that can co-operate. But earnest business,
soaring into national buoyancy on the wings of panic, turns by instinct
to the proper organs for giving it effect and instant mobility. Yet, on
the other hand, if the letter really _had_ been addressed to the Primate
(as in all reason it would have been, if thoroughly in earnest), that
change must have consummated the false step, diplomatically valued,
which Lord John Russell has taken. Mark, reader! We are told, and so
often that the very echoes of Killarney and Windermere will be
permanently diseased by this endless iteration of lies, that His
Holiness has been insulting us. Ancient Father of Christendom, under
whose sheltering shadow once slept in peace for near a thousand years
the now storm-tossed nations of Western and Central Christendom, couldst
thou indeed, when turned out a houseless[47] fugitive like Lear upon a
night of tempest, still retain aught of thy ancient prestige, and
through the might of belief rule over those who have exiled thee?


The famous Durham Letter which excited so much controversy, and
re-opened what can only be called so many old sores, was addressed by
Lord John Russell, the Prime Minister, to Dr. Maltby, in November, 1850.
At first it was received with great approbation, as presenting a
decisive front against Papal assumption; the Pope having recently issued
a Bull, dividing England into twelve Sees, and appointing Dr. Wiseman,
who was made a Cardinal, Archbishop of Westminster. But some expressions
in Lord John's letter, especially the expression 'unworthy sons,'
applied to High Churchmen, aroused the active opposition of a class,
with whom, he never had much sympathy, looking on the attitude and
spirit of Drs. Pusey and Newman with unaffected dislike. Catholics, of
course, and with them many moderate Roman Catholics, set up an
agitation, and soon the Durham Letter was in everybody's mouth. De
Quincey, of course, writes from his own peculiar philosophic point of
view; and when he somewhat sarcastically alludes to the informality of
addressing such a letter to the Bishop of Durham, and not to one or
other of the Archbishops, he was either ignorant of, or of set purpose
ignored, the exceptionally intimate relations in which Lord John had for
many years stood to Dr. Maltby, such relations as might well have been
accepted as explaining, if not justifying, such a departure from strict
formal propriety. Lord Russell's biographer writes:

'Dr. Maltby, who in 1850 held the See of Durham, to which he had been
promoted on Lord John's own recommendation in 1836, was one of Lord
John's oldest and closest friends. He had been his constant
correspondent for more than twenty years; he had supplied him with much
information for the religious chapters of the "Affairs of Europe," and
he had been his frequent counsellor on questions affecting the Church,
and on the qualifications and characters of the men who were candidates
for promotion in it. It was natural, therefore, to Lord John, to open
his mind freely to the Bishop' (ii. 119, 120).

Lord John had added in a postscript: 'If you think it will be of any
use, you have my full permission to publish this letter.'


[47] 'A houseless fugitive.' No one expression of petty malice has
struck the generous as more unworthy, amongst the many insolences
levelled at the Pope, than the ridicule so falsely fastened upon the
mode of his escape from Rome, and upon the apparently tottering tenure
of his temporal throne. His throne rocked with subterraneous heavings.
True, and was _his_ the only throne that rocked? Or which was it amongst
continental thrones that did _not_ rock? But he escaped in the disguise
of a livery servant. What odious folly! In such emergencies, no disguise
can be a degradation. Do we remember our own Charles II. assuming as
many varieties of servile disguise as might have glorified a pantomime?
Do we remember Napoleon reduced to the abject resource of entreating one
of the Commissioners to _whistle_, by way of misleading the infuriated
mob into the belief that _l'empereur_ could not be supposed present in
that carriage when such an indecency was attempted? As to the insecurity
of his throne, we must consider that other thrones, and amongst them
some of the first rank (as those of Turkey and Persia) redress their own
weakness by means of alien strength. In the jealousies of England and
France is found a bulwark against the overshadowing ambition of Russia.


     _Review of Kant's Essay on the Common Saying, that such and
     such a thing may be true in theory, but does not hold good
     in practice._

What was the value of Kant's essay upon this popular saying? Did it do
much to clear up the confusion? Did it exterminate the vice in the
language by substituting a better _formula_? Not at all. Immanuel Kant
was, we admit, the most potent amongst all known intellects for
functions of pure abstraction. But also, viewed in two separate
relations: first, in relation to all _practical_ interests (manners,
legislation, government, spiritual religion); secondly, in relation to
the arts of teaching, of explaining, of communicating any man's meaning
where it happened to be dark or perplexed (above all, if that meaning
were his own)--this same Kant was merely impotent; absolutely, and 'no
mistake,' a child of darkness. Were it not that veneration and gratitude
cause us to suspend harsh words with regard to such a man, who has upon
the greatest question affecting our human reason almost, we might say,
_revealed_ the truth (viz., in his theory of the categories), we should
describe him, and continually we are tempted to describe him as the most
superhuman of recorded blockheads. Would it be credited, that at this
time of day, actually in the very closing years of the eighteenth
century, a man armed with some reading, but not too much study--and
sixty years' profound meditation should treat it as a matter of obvious
good sense that crowns and the succession to mighty empires ought to
travel along the line of 'merit'; not exactly on the ground of personal
beauty, or because the pretender was taller by the head than most of his
subjects--no, _that_ would be the idea of a barbarous nation. Thank God!
a royal professor of Koenigsberg was above _that_. But on the assumption
of an _appropriate_ merit, as if, for instance, he were wiser, if he
were well grounded in Transcendentalism, if he had gained a prize for
'virtue,' surely, surely, such graces ought to ensure a sceptre to their
honoured professor. Especially when we consider how _readily_ these
personal qualities _prove_ themselves to the general understanding, and
how cheerfully they are always _allowed_ by jealous and abominating
competitors! Now turn from this haughty philosopher to a plain but most
sensible and reflecting scholar--Isaac Casaubon. This man pretended to
no philosophy, but a sincere, docile heart, much good sense, and patient
observation of his own country's annals, which in the midst of
belligerent papists, and very much against his own interest, had made
him a good Church of England Protestant, made him also intensely
attached to the doctrine of fixed succession under closer and clearer
limitations than exist even in England. For a thousand years this one
plain rule had been the amulet for liberating France (else so
constitutionally disposed to war) from the bloodiest of intestine
contests. The man's career was pretty nearly concurrent as to its two
limits with that of our own Shakespeare. Both he and Shakespeare were
patronized, or, at least, countenanced by James the First, and both died
many years before their patron. More than two centuries by a good deal
have therefore passed away since he spoke, but this is the emphatic
testimony which even at that time, wanting the political experience
superadded, he bore to the peace and consequently to the civilization
won for his country by this divine maxim, this _lex trabalis_ (as so
powerfully Casaubon calls it) of hereditary succession, the cornerstone,
the main beam, in the framework of Gallic polity. These are the words:
'_Occidebant et occidebantur_' (_i.e._, in those days of Roman Cæsars)
'_immanitate pari; cum in armis esset jus omne regnandi_'--in the sword
lay the arbitration of the title. He speaks of the horrid murderous
uniformity by which the Western Empire moved through five centuries (for
it commenced in murder 42 years B.C. and lasted for 477 after Christ).
But why? Simply by default of any conventional rule, and the consequent
necessity that men should fall back upon the title of the strongest. For
that ridiculous plausibility of Kant's superscribed with _Detur
meliori_, it should never be forgotten, is so far from having any
pacific tendencies, that originally, according to the eldest of Greek
fables, it was [Greek: Eris], Eris, the goddess of dissension, no
peace-making divinity, who threw upon a wedding-table the fatal apple
thus ominously labelled. _Meliori_! in that one word went to wreck the
harmony of the company. But for France, for the famous kingdom of the
Fleur-de-lys, for the first-born child of Christianity, always so prone
by her gentry to this sword-right, Nature herself had been silenced
through a long millennium by this one almighty amulet. 'Inde' (that is,
from this standing appeal made to personal vanity or to ambition
amongst Roman nobles)--'_inde_ haec tam spissa principatuum mutatio: quâ
re nulla alia miseris populis ne dici quidem aut fingi queat
perniciosior.' So often, he goes on to say, as this dreadful curse
entailed upon Rome Imperial comes into my mind, so often 'Franciæ patriæ
meæ felicitatem non possim non prædicare; quæ sub imperio Regum
sexaginta trium (LXIII)--non dicam CLX annos' (which had been the upshot
of time, the 'tottle,' upon sixty-three Imperatores) sed paullo minus
CIO (one clear thousand, observe) 'et CC--rem omnibus seculis
inauditam!--egit beata; fared prosperously; et egisset beatior, si sua
semper bona intellexisset. Tanti est, jura regiæ successionis trabali
lege semel fixisse.' Aye, faithful and sagacious Casaubon! there lies
the secret. In that word '_fixisse_'--the having settled once and for
ever, the having laid down as beams and main timbers those adamantine
rules of polity which leave no opening to doubt, no licence to caprice,
and no temptation to individual ambition. We are all interested,
Christendom to her very depths is interested, in the well-being and
progress of this glorious realm--the kingdom of the lilies, the kingdom
of Charlemagne and his paladins; from the very fierceness and angry
vigilance of whose constant hostility to ourselves has arisen one chief
re-agent in sustaining our own concurrent advancement. Under the torpor
of a German patriotism, under the languor of a _sensus communis_ which
is hardly at all developed, our own unrivalled energy would partially
have gone to sleep. We are, therefore, deeply indebted to the rancorous
animosity of France. And in this one article of a sound political creed
we must be sensible that France, so dreadfully in arrear as to all other
political wisdom, has run ahead of ourselves. For to what else was
owing our ruinous war of the Two Roses than to an original demur in our
courts of law whether the descendant of an elder son through the female
line had a title preferable or inferior to that of a descendant in the
male line from a son confessedly _junior_? Whether the element to the
right hand of uncontested superiority balanced or did _not_ balance that
element to the left hand of undenied inferiority? How well for us
English, and for the interests of our literature so cruelly barbarized
within fifty years from the death of Chaucer (A.D. 1400), had we been
able to intercept the murderous conflicts of Barnet, Towcester,
Tewkesbury, St. Albans! How happy for Spain, had no modern line of
French coxcombs (not succeeding by any claim of blood, but under the
arbitrary testament of a paralytic dotard) interfered to tamper with the
old Castilian rules, so that no man knew whether the Spanish custom or
the French innovation really governed. The Salic law or the interested
abrogation of that law were the governing principle in strict
constitutional practice. To this point had the French dynasty brought
matters, that no lawyer even could say on which side the line of
separation lay the _onus_ of treason. We have ultimately so far improved
our law of succession by continued limitations, that now even the
religion of a prince has become one amongst his indispensable
qualifications. But how matters once stood, we see written in letters of
blood. And yet to this state of perilous uncertainty would Kant have
reduced every nation under the conceit of mending their politics. 'Orbis
terrarum dominatio'--_that_, says Casaubon, was the prize at stake. And
how was it awarded? '_In parricidii præmium cedebat._' By tendency, by
usage, by natural gravitation, this Imperial dignity passed into a
bounty upon murder, upon treasonable murder, upon parricidal murder. For
the oath of fealty to the _sacra Cæsaria majestas_ was of awful
obligation, although the previous title of the particular Cæsar had been
worth nothing at all. And the consequent condition of insecurity, the
shadowy tenure of all social blessings, is described by Casaubon in
language truly forcible.

Kant's purpose, as elsewhere we shall show, was not primarily with the
maxim: that was but a secondary purpose. His direct and real object lay
in one or two of the illustrative cases under the maxim. With this
particular obliquity impressed upon the movement of his own essay, we
can have no right to quarrel. Kant had an author's right to deal with
the question as best suited his own views. But with one feature of his
treatment we quarrel determinately. He speaks of this most popular (and,
we venture to add, most wise and beneficial) maxim, which arms men's
suspicions against all that is merely speculative, on the ground that it
is continually at war with the truth of practical results, as though it
were merely and blankly a vulgar error, as though _sans phrase_ it might
be dismissed for nonsense. But, because there is a casual inaccuracy in
the wording of a great truth, we are not at liberty to deny that truth,
to evade it, to 'ignore' it, or to confound a faulty expression with a
meaning originally untenable. Professor Kant, of all men, was least
entitled to plead blindness as to the substance in virtue of any vice
affecting the form. No man knew better the art of translating so wise
and beneficial a sentiment, though slightly disfigured by popular usage,
into the appropriate philosophic terms. To this very sentiment it is,
this eternal _protest_ against the plausible and the speculative, not
as a flash sentiment for a gala dinner, but as a principle of action
operative from age to age in all parts of the national conduct, that
England is indebted more than she is to any other known influence for
her stupendous prosperity on two separate lines of progress: first, on
that of commercial enterprise; secondly, on that of political
improvement. At this moment there are two forces acting upon Christendom
which constitute the principles of movement all over Europe: these are,
the questions incident to representative government, and the mighty
interests combined by commercial enterprise. Both have radiated from
England as their centre. There only did the early models of either
activity prosper. Through North America, as the daughter of England,
these two forces have transplanted themselves to every principal region
(except one) of the vast Southern American continent. Thus, to push our
view no further, we behold one-half of the habitable globe henceforth
yoked to the two sole forces of _permanent_ movement for nations, since
war and religious contests are but intermitting forces; and these two
principles, we repeat, have grown to what we now behold chiefly through
the protection of this one great maxim which throws the hopes of the
world, not upon what the scheming understanding can suggest, but upon
what the most faithful experiment can prove.


The 'Essay on Criticism' illustrates the same profound misconception of
the principle working at the root of Didactic Poetry as operated
originally to disturb the conduct of the 'Essay on Man' by its author,
and to disturb the judgments upon it by its critics. This 'Essay on
Criticism' no more aims at unfolding the grounds and theory of critical
rules applied to poetic composition, than does the _Epistola ad Pisones_
of Horace. But what if Horace and Pope both believed themselves the
professional expounders _ex cathedrá_ of these very grounds and this
very theory? No matter if they did. Nobody was less likely to understand
their own purposes than themselves. Their real purposes were _immanent_,
hidden in their poems; and from the poems they must be sought, not from
the poets; who, generally, in proportion as the problem is one of
analysis and evolution, for which, simply as the authors of the work,
Horace and Pope were no better qualified than other people, and, as
authors having that particular constitution of intellect which
notoriously they had, were much worse qualified than other people. We
cannot possibly allow a man to argue upon the meaning or tendency of his
own book, as against the evidence of the book itself. The book is
unexceptionable authority: and, as against _that_, the author has no
_locus standi_. Both Horace and Pope, however little they might be aware
of it, were secretly governed by the same moving principle--viz., not to
teach (which was impossible for two reasons)--but to use this very
impossibility, this very want of flexibility in the subject to the
ostensible purpose of the writers, as the resistance of the atmosphere
from which they would derive the motion of their wings. That it was
impossible in a poem seriously to teach the principles of criticism, we
venture to affirm on a double argument: 1st, that the teaching, if in
earnest, must be _polemic_: and how alien from the spirit of poetry to
move eternally through controversial discussions! 2ndly, that the
teaching, from the very necessities of metre, must be _eclectic_;
innumerable things must be suppressed; and how alien from the spirit of
science to move by discontinuous links according to the capricious
bidding of poetic decorum! Divinity itself is not more entangled in the
necessities of fighting for every step in advance, and maintaining the
ground by eternal preparation for hostility, than is philosophic
criticism; a discipline so little matured, that at this day we possess
in any language nothing but fragments and hints towards its
construction. To dispute in verse has been celebrated as the
accomplishment of Lucretius, of Sir John Davies, of Dryden: but then
this very disputation has always been eclectic; not exhausting even the
_essential_ arguments; but playing gracefully with those only which
could promise a brilliant effect. Such a mimic disputation is like a
histrionic fencing match, where the object of the actor is not in good
earnest to put his antagonist to the sword, but to exhibit a few elegant
passes in _carte_ and _tierce_, not forgetting the secondary object of
displaying to advantage any diamonds and rubies that may chance to
scintillate upon his sword-hand.

Had Pope, or had Horace, been requested to explain the _rationale_ of
his own poem on Criticism, it is pretty certain that each (and from the
same causes) would have talked nonsense. The very gifts so rare and so
exquisite by which these extraordinary men were adorned--the graceful
negligence, the delicacy of tact, the impassioned _abandon_[48] upon
subjects suited to their _modes_ of geniality, though not absolutely or
irreversibly incompatible with the sterner gifts of energetic attention
and powerful abstraction, were undoubtedly not in alliance with them.
The two sets of gifts did not exert a reciprocal stimulation. As well
might one expect from a man, because he was a capital shot, that he
should write the best essay on the theory of projectiles. Horace and
Pope, therefore, would have talked so absurdly in justifying or
explaining their own works, that we--naturally impatient of nonsense on
the subject of criticism, as our own _métier_--should have said, 'Oh,
dear gentlemen, stand aside for a moment, and we will right you in the
eyes of posterity: at which bar, if either of you should undertake to be
his own advocate, he will have a fool for his client.'

We do and must concede consideration even to the one-sided pleadings of
an advocate. But it is under the secret assumption of the concurrent
pleadings equally exaggerated on the adverse side. Without this
counterweight, how false would be our final summation of the evidence
upon most of the great state trials! Nay, even with both sides of the
equation before us, how perplexing would be that summation generally,
unless under the moderating guidance of a neutral and indifferent eye;
the eye of the judge in the first instance, and subsequently of the
upright historian--whether watching the case from the station of a
contemporary, or reviewing it from his place in some later generation.

Now what we wish to observe about Criticism is, that with just the same
temptation to personal partiality and even injustice in extremity, it
offers a much wider latitude to the distortion of things, facts,
grounds, and inferences. In fact, with the very same motives to a
personal bias swerving from the equatorial truth, it makes a much wider
opening for giving effect to those motives. Insincerity in short, and
every mode of contradicting the truth, is far more possible under a
professed devotion to a general principle than any personal expression
could possibly be.

If the logic of the case be steadily examined, a definition of didactic
poetry will emerge the very opposite to that popularly held: it will
appear that in didactic poetry the teaching is not the _power_, but the
_resistance_. It is difficult to teach even playfully or mimically in
reconciliation with poetic effect: and the object is to wrestle with
this difficulty. It is as when a man selects an absurd or nearly
impracticable subject, his own chin,[49] suppose, for the organ of a new
music: he does not select it as being naturally allied to music, but
for the very opposite reason--as being eminently alien from music, that
his own art will have the greater triumph in taming this reluctancy into
any sort of obedience to a musical purpose. It is a wrestle with all but
physical impossibility. Many arts and mechanic processes in human life
present intermitting aspects of beauty, scattered amongst others that
are utterly without interest of that sort. For instance, in husbandry,
where many essential processes are too mean to allow of any poetic
treatment or transfiguration, others are picturesque, and recommended by
remembrances of childhood to most hearts. How beautiful, for instance,
taken in all its variety of circumstances, the gorgeous summer, the gay
noontide repast, the hiding of children in the hay, the little toy of a
rake in the hands of infancy, is the hay-harvest from first to last!
Such cases wear a Janus aspect, one face connecting them with gross uses
of necessity, another connecting them with the gay or tender sentiments
that accidents of association, or some purpose of Providence, may have
thrown about them as a robe of beauty. Selecting therefore what meets
his own purpose, the poet proceeds by _resisting_ and rejecting all
those parts of the subject which would tend to defeat it. But at least,
it will be said, he does not resist those parts of the subject which he
selects. Yes, he _does_; even those parts he resists utterly in their
real and primary character, viz., as uses indispensable to the machinery
of man's animal life; and adopts them only for a collateral beauty
attached to the accidents of their evolution; a beauty oftentimes not
even guessed by those who are most familiar with them as practical
operations. It is as if a man, having a learned eye, should follow the
track of armies--careless of the political changes which they created,
or of the interests (all neutral as regarded any opinion of _his_) which
they disturbed--but alive to every form of beauty connected with these
else unmeaning hostilities--alive to the beauty of their battle-array,
to the pomp of their manoeuvres, to the awning of smoke-wreaths
surging above the artilleries, to the gleaming of sabres and bayonets at
intervals through loopholes in these gathering smoky masses. This man
would abstract from the politics and doctrines of the hostile armies, as
much as the didactic poet from the doctrinal part of his theme.

From this attempt to rectify the idea of didactic poetry, it will be
seen at once why Pope failed utterly and inevitably in the 'Essay on
Man.' The subject was too directly and commandingly interesting to
furnish any opening to that secondary and playful interest which arises
from the management by art and the subjugation of an intractable theme.
The ordinary interest of didactic poetry is derived from the _repellent_
qualities of the subject, and consequently from the dexterities of the
conflict with what is doubtful, indifferent, unpromising. Not only was
there no _resistance_ in the subject to the grandeur of poetry, but, on
the contrary, this subject offered so much grandeur, was so pathetic and
the amplitude of range so vast as to overwhelm the powers of any poet
and any audience, by its exactions. That was a fault in one direction.
But a different fault was--that the subject allowed no power of
selection. In ordinary didactic poetry, as we have just been insisting,
you sustain the interest by ignoring all the parts which will not bear a
steady gaze. Whatever fascinates the eye, or agitates the heart by
mimicry of life is selected and emphasized, and what is felt to be
intractable or repellent is authoritatively set aside. The poet has an
unlimited discretion. But on a theme so great as man he has no
discretion at all. This resource is denied. You _can_ give the truth
only by giving the whole truth. In treating a common didactic theme you
may neglect merely transitional parts with as much ease as benefit,
because they are familiar enough to be pre-supposed, and are besides
essential only in the real process, but not at all in the mimic process
of description; since A and C, that in the _reality_ could reach one
another only through B, may yet be intelligible as regards their beauty
without any intermediation of B. The ellipsis withdraws a deformity, and
does not generally create an obscurity: either the obscurity is none at
all, or is irrelevant to the real purpose of beauty, or may be treated
sufficiently by a line or two of adroit explanation. But in a poem
treating so vast a theme as man's relations to his own race, to his
habitation the world, to God his maker, and to all the commands of the
conscience, to the hopes of the believing heart, and to the eternal
self-conflicts of the intellect, it is clear that the purely
transitional parts, essential to the understanding of the whole, cannot
be omitted or dispensed with at the beck of the fancy or the necessities
of the metre and rhyme.

There is also an objection to Man (or any other theme of that grandeur)
as the subject of a didactic poem, which is more subtle, and which for
that reason we have reserved to the last. In the ordinary specimens of
didactic poetry, the theme and its sub-divisions wear (as we have
already observed) a double-faced or Janus aspect; one derived from the
direct experience of life, the other from the reflex experience of it.
And the very reason why one face _does_ affect you is because the other
does _not_. Thus a Morland farmyard, a Flemish tavern, or a clean
kitchen in an unpretending house seen by ruddy firelight reflected from
pewter ware, scarcely interests the eye at all in the reality; but for
that very reason it _does_ interest us all in the mimicry. The very fact
of seeing an object framed as it were, insulated, suddenly _relieved_ to
the steady consciousness, which all one's life has been seen _un_framed,
_not_ called into relief, but depressed into the universal level of
subconsciousness, awakens a pleasurable sense of surprise. But now Man
is too great a subject to allow of any unrelieved aspects. What the
reader sees he must see directly and without insulation, else falseness
and partiality are immediately apparent.


[48] We speak here of Horace in his lyrical character, and of Pope as he
revealed himself in his tender and pathetic sincerities, not in his
false, counterfeit scorn. Horace, a good-natured creature, that laughed
eternally in his satire, was probably sincere. Pope, a benign one, could
not have been sincere in the bitter and stinging personalities of his
satires. Horace seems to be personal, but is not. Neither is Juvenal;
the names he employs are mere allegoric names. _Draco_ is any bloody
fellow; _Favonius_ is any sycophant: but Pope is very different.

[49] 'His own chin,' chin-chopping, as practised in our days, was not an
original invention; it was simply a restoration from the days of Queen


I take the opportunity of referring to the work of a very eloquent
Frenchman, who has brought the names of Wordsworth and Shakspeare into
connection, partly for the sake of pointing out an important error in
the particular criticism on Wordsworth, but still more as an occasion
for expressing the gratitude due to the French author for the able,
anxious, and oftentimes generous justice which he has rendered to
English literature. It is most gratifying to a thoughtful
Englishman--that precisely from that period when the mighty drama of the
French Revolution, like the Deluge, or like the early growth of
Christianity, or like the Reformation, had been in operation long enough
to form a new and more thoughtful generation in France, has the English
literature been first studied in France, and first appreciated. Since
1810, when the generation moulded by the Revolution was beginning to
come forward on the stage of national action, a continued series of able
writers amongst the French--ardent, noble, profound--have laid aside
their nationality in the most generous spirit for the express purpose of
investigating the great English models of intellectual power, locally so
near to their own native models, and virtually in such polar remoteness.
Chateaubriand's intense enthusiasm for Milton, almost monomaniac in the
opinion of some people, is notorious. This, however, was less
astonishing: the pure marble grandeur of Milton, and his classical
severity, naturally recommended themselves to the French taste, which
can always understand the beauty of proportion and regular or teleologic
tendencies. It was with regard to the anomalous, and to that sort of
vaster harmonies which from moving upon a wider scale are apt at first
sight to pass for discords, that a new taste needed to be created in
France. Here Chateaubriand showed himself a Frenchman of the old leaven.
Milton would always have been estimated in France. He needed only to be
better known. Shakspeare was the _natural_ stone of offence: and with
regard to _him_ Chateaubriand has shown himself eminently blind. His
reference to Shakspeare's _female_ gallery, so divine as that Pantheon
really is, by way of most forcibly expressing his supposed inferiority
to Racine (who strictly speaking has no female pictures at all, but
merely _umrisse_ or outlines in pencil) is the very perfection of human
blindness. But many years ago the writers in _Le Globe_, either by
direct papers on the drama or indirectly by way of references to the
acting of Kean, etc., showed that even as to Shakspeare a new heart was
arising in France. M. Raymond de Véricour, though necessarily called off
to a more special consideration of the Miltonic poetry by the very
promise of his title (_Milton, et la Poésie Epique_: Paris et Londres,
1838), has in various places shown a far more comprehensive sense of
poetic truth than Chateaubriand. His sensibility, being originally
deeper and trained to move upon a larger compass, vibrates equally under
the chords of the Shakspearian music. Even he, however, has made a
serious mistake as to Wordsworth in his relation to Shakspeare. At p.
420 he says: 'Wordsworth qui (de même que Byron) sympathise pen
cordialement avec Shakspeare, se prosterne cependant comme Byron devant
le _Paradis perdu_; Milton est la grande idole de Wordsworth; il ne
craint pas quelquefois de se comparer lui-même à son géant;' (never
unless in the single accident of praying for a similar audience--'fit
audience let me find though few'); 'et en vérité ses sonnets ont souvent
le même esprit prophétique, la même élévation sacrée que ceux de
l'Homère anglais.' There cannot be graver mistakes than are here brought
into one focus. Lord Byron cared little for the 'Paradise Lost,' and had
studied it not at all. On the other hand, Lord Byron's pretended
disparagement of Shakspeare by comparison with the meagre, hungry and
bloodless Alfieri was a pure stage trick, a momentary device for
expressing his Apemantus misanthropy towards the English people. It
happened at the time he had made himself unpopular by the circumstances
of his private life: these, with a morbid appetite for engaging public
attention, he had done his best to publish and to keep before the public
eye; whilst at the same time he was very angry at the particular style
of comments which they provoked. There was no fixed temper of anger
towards him in the public mind of England: but he believed that there
was. And he took his revenge through every channel by which he fancied
himself to have a chance for reaching and stinging the national pride;
1st, by ridiculing the English pretensions to higher principle and
national morality; but _that_ failing, 2ndly, by disparaging Shakspeare;
3rdly, on the same principle which led Dean Swift to found the first
lunatic hospital in Ireland, viz.:

    'To shew by one satiric touch
    No nation wanted it so much.'

Lord Byron, without any _sincere_ opinion or care upon the subject one
way or other, directed in his will--that his daughter should not marry
an Englishman: this bullet, he fancied, would take effect, even though
the Shakspeare bullet had failed. Now, as to Wordsworth, he values both
in the highest degree. In a philosophic poem, like the 'Excursion,' he
is naturally led to speak more pointedly of Milton: but his own
affinities are every way more numerous and striking to Shakspeare. For
this reason I have myself been led to group him with Shakspeare. In
those two poets alike is seen the infinite of Painting: in Æschylus and
Milton alike are seen the simplicities and stern sublimiities of


One fault in Wordsworth's 'Excursion' suggested by Coleridge, but
luckily quite beyond all the resources of tinkering open to William
Wordsworth, is--in the choice of a Pedlar as the presiding character who
connects the shifting scenes and persons in the 'Excursion.' Why should
not some man of more authentic station have been complimented with that
place, seeing that the appointment lay altogether in Wordsworth's gift?
But really now who could this have been? Garter King-at-Arms would have
been a great deal too showy for a working hero. A railway-director,
liable at any moment to abscond with the funds of the company, would
have been viewed by all readers with far too much suspicion for the
tranquillity desirable in a philosophic poem. A colonel of Horse Marines
seems quite out of the question: what his proper functions may be, is
still a question for the learned; but no man has supposed them to be
philosophic. Yet on the other hand, argues Coleridge, would not '_any_
wise and beneficent old man,' without specifying his rank, have met the
necessities of the case? Why, certainly, if it is _our_ opinion that
Coleridge wishes to have, we conceive that such an old gentleman,
advertising in the _Times_ as 'willing to make himself generally
useful,' might have had a chance of dropping a line to William
Wordsworth. But still we don't know. Beneficent old gentlemen are
sometimes great scamps. Men, who give themselves the best of characters
in morning papers, are watched occasionally in a disagreeable manner by
the police. Itinerant philosophers are absolutely not understood in
England. Intruders into private premises, even for grand missionary
purposes, are constantly served with summary notices to quit. Mrs.
Quickly gave a first-rate character to Simple; but for all _that_, Dr.
Caius with too much show of reason demanded, 'Vat shall de honest young
man do in my closet?' And we fear that Coleridge's beneficent old man,
lecturing _gratis_ upon things in general, would be regarded with
illiberal jealousy by the female servants of any establishment, if he
chose to lecture amongst the family linen. 'What shall de wise
beneficent old Monsieur do amongst our washing-tubs?' We are perfectly
confounded by the excessive blindness of Coleridge and nearly all other
critics on this matter. 'Need the rank,' says Coleridge, 'have been at
all particularized, when nothing follows which the knowledge of that
rank is to explain or illustrate?' Nothing to explain or illustrate!
Why, good heavens! it is only by the most distinct and positive
information lodged with the constable as to who and what the vagrant
was, that the leading philosopher in the 'Excursion' could possibly have
saved himself over and over again from passing the night in the village
'lock-up,' and generally speaking in handcuffs, as one having too
probably a design upon the village hen-roosts. In the sixth and seventh
books, where the scene lies in the churchyard amongst the mountains, it
is evident that the philosopher would have been arrested as a
resurrection-man, had he not been known to substantial farmers as a
pedlar 'with some money.' To be clothed therefore with an intelligible
character and a local calling was as indispensable to the free movements
of the Wanderer when out upon a philosophical spree, as a passport is to
each and every traveller in France. Dr. Franklin, who was a very
indifferent philosopher, but very great as a pedlar, and as cunning as
Niccolo Machiavelli (which means as cunning as old Nick), was quite
aware of this necessity as a tax upon travellers; and at every stage, on
halting, he used to stand upright in his stirrups, crying aloud,
'Gentlemen and Ladies, here I am at your service; Benjamin Franklin by
name; once (but _that_ was in boyhood) a devil; viz., in the service of
a printer; next a compositor and reader to the press; at present a
master-printer. My object in this journey is--to arrest a knave who will
else be off to Europe with £200 of my money in his breeches-pocket: that
is my final object: my immediate one is--dinner; which, if there is no
just reason against it, I beg that you will no longer interrupt.' Yet
still, though it is essential to the free circulation of a philosopher
that he should be known for what he is, the reader thinks that at least
the philosopher might be known advantageously as regards his social
standing. No, he could not. And we speak seriously. How _could_
Coleridge and so many other critics overlook the overruling necessities
of the situation? They argue as though Wordsworth had selected a pedlar
under some abstract regard for his office of buying and selling: in
which case undoubtedly a wholesale man would have a better chance for
doing a 'large stroke of business' in philosophy than this huckstering
retailer. Wordsworth however fixed on a pedlar--not for his commercial
relations--but in spite of them. It was not for the _essential_ of his
calling that a pedlar was promoted to the post of central philosopher in
his philosophic poem, but for an accident indirectly arising out of it.
This accident lay in the natural privilege which a pedlar once had
through all rural districts of common access to rich and poor, and
secondly, in the leisurely nature of his intercourse. Three conditions
there were for fulfilling that ministry of philosophic intercourse which
Wordsworth's plan supposed. First, the philosopher must be clothed with
a _real_ character, known to the actual usages of the land, and not
imaginary: else this postulate of fiction at starting would have
operated with an unrealizing effect upon all that followed. Next, it
must be a character that was naturally fitted to carry the bearer
through a large circuit of districts and villages; else the _arena_
would be too narrow for the large survey of life and conflict demanded:
lastly, the character must be one recommending itself alike to all ranks
in tracts remote from towns, and procuring an admission ready and
gracious to him who supports that character. Now this supreme advantage
belonged in a degree absolutely unique to the character of pedlar, or
(as Wordsworth euphemistically terms it) of 'wandering merchant.' In
past generations the _materfamilias_, the young ladies, and the visitors
within their gates, were as anxious for his periodic visit as the
humblest of the domestics. They received him therefore with the
condescending kindness of persons in a state of joyous expectation:
young hearts beat with the anticipation of velvets and brocades from
Genoa, lace veils from the Netherlands, jewels and jewelled trinkets;
for you are not to think that, like Autolycus, he carried only one
trinket. They were sincerely kind to him, being sincerely pleased.
Besides, it was politic to assume a gracious manner, since else the
pedlar might take out his revenge in the price of his wares; fifteen per
cent. would be the least he could reasonably clap on as a premium and
_solatium_ to himself for any extra hauteur. This gracious style of
intercourse, already favourable to a tone of conversation more liberal
and unreserved than would else have been conceded to a vagrant huckster,
was further improved by the fact that the pedlar was also the main
retailer of news. Here it was that a real advantage offered itself to
any mind having that philosophic interest in human characters,
struggles, and calamities, which is likely enough to arise amongst a
class of men contemplating long records of chance and change through
their wanderings, and so often left to their own meditations upon them
by long tracts of solitude. The gossip of the neighbouring districts,
whether tragic or comic, would have a natural interest from its
locality. And such records would lead to illustration from other cases
more remote--losing the interest of neighbourhood, but compensating that
loss by their deeper intrinsic hold upon the sensibilities. Ladies of
the highest rank would suffer their reserve to thaw in such interviews;
besides that, before unresisting humility and inferiority too apparent
even haughtiness the most intractable usually abates its fervour.

Coleridge also allows himself, for the sake of argument, not merely to
assume too hastily, but to magnify too inordinately. Daniel, the poet,
really _was_ called the 'well-languaged' (p. 83, vol. ii.), but by whom?
Not, as Hooker was called the 'judicious,' or Bede the 'venerable,' by
whole generations; but by an individual. And as to the epithet of
'prosaic,' we greatly doubt if so much as one individual ever connected
it with Daniel's name.

But the whole dispute on Poetic Diction is too deep and too broad for an
occasional or parenthetic notice. It is a dispute which renews itself in
every cultivated language;[50] and even, in its application to different
authors within the same language, as for instance, to Milton, to
Shakspeare, or to Wordsworth, it takes a special and varied aspect.
Declining this, as far too ample a theme, we wish to say one word, but
an urgent word and full of clamorous complaint, upon the other branch.
This dispute, however, is but one of two paths upon which the
Biographical Literature approaches the subject of Wordsworth: the other
lies in the direct critical examination of Wordsworth's poems. As to
this, we wish to utter one word, but a word full of clamorous complaint.
That the criticisms of Coleridge on William Wordsworth were often false,
and that they betrayed fatally the temper of one who never _had_
sympathized heartily with the most exquisite parts of the Lyrical
Ballads, might have been a record injurious only to Coleridge himself.
But unhappily these perverse criticisms have proved the occasions of
ruin to some admirable poems; and, as if that were not enough, have
memorialized a painful feature of weakness in Wordsworth's judgment. If
ever on this earth there was a man that in his prime, when saluted with
contumely from all quarters, manifested a stern deafness to
criticism--it was William Wordsworth. And we thought the better of him
by much for this haughty defiance to groundless judgments. But the
cloak, which Boreas could not tear away from the traveller's resistance,
oftentimes the too genial Phoebus has filched from his amiable spirit
of compliance. These criticisms of Coleridge, generally so wayward and
one-sided, but sometimes desperately opposed to every mode of truth,
have been the means of exposing in William Wordsworth a weakness of
resistance--almost a criminal facility in surrendering his own
rights--which else would never have been suspected. We will take one of
the worst cases. Readers acquainted with Wordsworth as a poet, are of
course acquainted with his poem (originally so fine) upon Gipseys. To a
poetic mind it is inevitable--that every spectacle, embodying any
remarkable quality in a remarkable excess, should be unusually
impressive, and should seem to justify a poetic record. For instance,
the solitary life of one[51] who should tend a lighthouse could not fail
to move a very deep sympathy with his situation. Here for instance we
read the ground of Wordsworth's 'Glen Almain.' Did he care for torpor
again, lethargic inertia? Such a spectacle as _that_ in the midst of a
nation so morbidly energetic as our own, was calculated to strike some
few chords from the harp of a poet so vigilantly keeping watch over
human life.


[50] Valckenaer, in his famous 'Dissertation on the Phoenissæ,' notices
such a dispute as having arisen upon the diction of Euripides. The
question is old and familiar as to the quality of the passion in
Euripides, by comparison with that in Sophocles. But there was a
separate dispute far less notorious as to the quality of the _lexis_.

[51] 'One,' but in the Eddystone or other principal lighthouses on our
coast there are _two_ men resident. True, but these two come upon duty
by alternate watches, and generally are as profoundly separated as if
living leagues apart.


(_An Early Paper._)

Of late the two names of Wordsworth and Southey have been coupled
chiefly in the frantic philippics of Jacobins, out of revenge for that
sublime crusade which, among the intellectual powers of Europe, these
two eminent men were foremost (and for a time alone) in awakening
against the brutalizing tyranny of France and its chief agent, Napoleon
Bonaparte: a crusade which they, to their immortal honour, unceasingly
advocated--not (as others did) at a time when the Peninsular victories,
the Russian campaign, and the battle of Leipsic, had broken the charm by
which France fascinated the world and had made Bonaparte mean even in
the eyes of the mean--but (be it remembered!) when by far the major part
of this nation looked upon the cause of liberty as hopeless upon the
Continent, as committed for many ages to the guardianship of England, in
which (or not at all) it was to be saved as in an Ark from the universal
deluge. Painful such remembrances may be to those who are now ashamed of
their idolatry, it must not be forgotten that, from the year 1803 to
1808, Bonaparte was an idol to the greater part of this nation; at no
time, God be thanked! an idol of love, but, to most among us, an idol
of fear. The war was looked upon as essentially a _defensive_ war: many
doubted whether Bonaparte could be successfully opposed: almost all
would have treated it as lunacy to say that he could be conquered. Yet,
even at that period, these two eminent patriots constantly treated it as
a feasible project to march an English army triumphantly into Paris.
Their conversations with various friends--the dates of their own
works--and the dates of some composed under influences emanating from
them (as, for example, the unfinished work of Colonel Pasley of the
Engineers)--are all so many vouchers for this fact. We know not whether
(with the exception of some few Germans such as Arndt, for whose book
Palm was shot) there was at that time in Europe another man of any
eminence who shared in that Machiavellian sagacity which revealed to
them, as with the power and clear insight of the prophetic spirit, the
craziness of the French military despotism when to vulgar politicians it
seemed strongest. For this sagacity, and for the strength of patriotism
to which in part they owed it (for in all cases the _moral_ spirit is a
great illuminator of the _intellect_), they have reaped the most
enviable reward, in the hatred of traitors and Jacobins all over the
world: and in the expressions of that hatred we find their names
frequently coupled. There was a time, however, when these names were
coupled for other purposes: they were coupled as joint supporters of a
supposed new creed in relation to their own art. Mr. Wordsworth, it is
well known to men of letters, did advance a new theory upon two great
questions of art: in some points it might perhaps be objected that his
faith, in relation to that which he attacked, was as the Protestant
faith to the Catholic--_i.e._, not a new one, but a restoration of the
primitive one purified from its modern corruptions. Be this as it may,
however, Mr. Wordsworth's exposition of his theory is beyond all
comparison the subtlest and (not excepting even the best of the German
essays) the most finished and masterly specimen of reasoning which has
in any age or nation been called forth by any one of the fine arts. No
formal attack has yet been made upon it, except by Mr. Coleridge; of
whose arguments we need not say that they furnish so many centres (as it
were) to a great body of metaphysical acuteness; but to our judgment
they fail altogether of overthrowing Mr. Wordsworth's theory. All the
other critics have shown in their casual allusions to this theory that
they have not yet come to understand what is its drift or main thesis.
Such being the state of their acquaintance with the theory itself, we
need not be surprised to find that the accidental connection between Mr.
Wordsworth and the Laureate arising out of friendship and neighbourhood
should have led these blundering critics into the belief that the two
poets were joint supporters of the same theory: the fact being meanwhile
that in all which is peculiar to Mr. Wordsworth's theory, Mr. Southey
dissents perhaps as widely and as determinately as Mr. Coleridge;
dissents, that is to say, not as the numerous blockheads among the male
blue-stockings who dignify their ignorance with the name of dissent--but
as one man of illustrious powers dissents from what he deems after long
examination the errors of another; as Leibnitz on some occasions
dissented from Plato, or as the great modern philosopher of Germany
occasionally dissents from Leibnitz. That which Mr. Wordsworth has in
common with all great poets, Mr. Southey cannot but reverence: he has
told us that he does: and, if he had not, his own originality and
splendour of genius would be sufficient pledges that he did. That which
is peculiar to Mr. Wordsworth's theory, Mr. Southey may disapprove: he
may think that it narrows the province of the poet too much in one
part--that, in another part, it impairs the instrument with which he is
to work. Thus far he may disapprove; and, after all, deduct no more from
the merits of Mr. Wordsworth, than he will perhaps deduct from those of
Milton, for having too often allowed a Latin or Hebraic structure of
language to injure the purity of his diction. To whatsoever extent,
however, the disapprobation of Mr. Southey goes, certain it is (for his
own practice shows it) that he does disapprove the _innovations_ of Mr.
Wordsworth's theory--very laughably illustrates the sagacity of modern
English critics: they were told that Mr. Southey held and practised a
certain system of innovations: so far their error was an error of
misinformation: but next they turn to Mr. Southey's works, and there
they fancy that they find in every line an illustration of the erroneous
tenets which their misinformation had led them to expect that they
should find. A more unfortunate blunder, one more confounding to the
most adventurous presumption, can hardly be imagined. A system, which no
man could act upon unless deliberately and with great effort and labour
of composition, is supposed to be exemplified in the works of a poet who
uniformly rejects it: and this ludicrous blunder arises not from any
over-refinements in criticism (such, for instance, as led Warburton to
find in Shakspeare what the poet himself never dreamt of), but from no
more creditable cause than a misreport of some blue-stocking miss either
maliciously or ignorantly palmed upon a critic whose understanding
passively surrendered itself to anything however gross.

Such are the two modes in which the names of these two eminent men have
been coupled. As true patriots they are deservedly coupled: as poets
their names cannot be justly connected by any stricter bond than that
which connects all men of high creative genius. This distinction, as to
the main grounds of affinity and difference between the two writers, was
open and clear to any unprejudiced mind prepared for such
investigations, and we should at any rate have pointed it out at one
time or other for the sake of exposing the hollowness of those
impostures which offer themselves in our days as criticisms.


To _write_ his own language with propriety is the ambition of here and
there an individual; to speak it with propriety is the ambition of
multitudes. Amongst the qualifications for a public writer--the
preliminary one of _leisure_ is granted to about one man in three
thousand; and, this being indispensable, there at once, for most men,
mercifully dies in the very instant of birth the most uneasy and
bewildering of temptations. But _speak_ a man must. Leisure or no
leisure, to _talk_ he is obliged by the necessities of life, or at least
he thinks so; though my own private belief is, that the wisest rule upon
which a man could act in this world (alas! I did not myself act upon it)
would be to seal up his mouth from earliest youth, to simulate the
infirmity of dumbness, and to answer only by signs. This would soon put
an end to the impertinence of questions, to the intolerable labour of
framing and uttering replies through a whole life, and, above all (oh,
foretaste of Paradise!), to the hideous affliction of sustaining these
replies and undertaking for all their possible consequences. That notion
of the negroes in Senegal about monkeys, viz., that they _can_ talk if
they choose, and perhaps with classical elegance, but wisely dissemble
their talent under the fear that the unjust whites would else make them
work in Printing Houses, for instance, as 'readers' and correctors of
the press, this idea, which I dare say is true, shows how much wiser, in
his generation, is a monkey than a man. For, besides the wear and tear
to a man's temper by the irritation of talking, and the corrosion of
one's happiness by the disputes which talking entails, it is really
frightful to think of the mischief caused, if one measures it only by
the fruitless expense of words. Eleven hundred days make up about three
years; consequently, eleven thousand days make up thirty years. But that
day must be a very sulky one, and probably raining cats and dogs, on
which a man throws away so few as two thousand words, not reckoning what
he loses in sleep. A hundred and twenty-five words for every one of
sixteen hours cannot be thought excessive. The result, therefore, is,
that, in one generation of thirty years, he wastes irretrievably upon
the impertinence of answering--of wrangling, and of prosing, not less
than twice eleven thousand times a thousand words; the upshot of which
comes to a matter of twenty-two million words. So that, if the English
language contains (as some curious people say it does) forty thousand
words, he will have used it up not less than five hundred and fifty
times. Poor old battered language! One really pities it. Think of any
language in its old age being forced to work at that rate; kneaded, as
if it were so much dough, every hour of the day into millions of
fantastic shapes by millions of capricious bakers! Being old, however,
and superannuated, you will say that our English language must have got
used to it: as the sea, that once (according to Camoens) was indignant
at having his surface scratched, and his feelings harrowed, by keels, is
now wrinkled and smiling.

Blessed is the man that is dumb, when speech would have betrayed his
ignorance; and the man that has neither pens nor ink nor crayons, when a
record of his thought would have delivered him over to the derision of
posterity. This, however, the reader will say, is to embroider a large
moral upon a trivial occasion. Possibly the moral may be
disproportionately large; and yet, after all, the occasion may not be so
trivial as it seems. One of the many revolutions worked by the railway
system is, to force men into a much ampler publicity; to throw them at a
distance from home amongst strangers; and at their own homes to throw
strangers amongst _them_. Now, exactly in such situations it is, where
all other gauges of appreciation are wanting, that the two great
external indications of a man's rank, viz., the quality of his manners
and the quality of his pronunciation, come into play for assigning his
place and rating amongst strangers. Not merely pride, but a just and
reasonable self-respect, irritates a man's aspiring sensibilities in
such a case: not only he _is_, but always he _ought_ to be, jealous of
suffering in the estimation of strangers by defects which it is in his
own choice to supply, or by mistakes which a little trouble might
correct. And by the way we British act in this spirit, whether we ought
to do or not, it is noticed as a broad characteristic of us Islanders,
viz., both of the English and the Scotch, that we are morbidly alive to
jealousy under such circumstances, and in a degree to which there is
nothing amongst the two leading peoples of the Continent at all
corresponding.[52] A Scotchman or an Englishman of low rank is anxious
on a Sunday to dress in a style which may mislead the casual observer
into the belief that perhaps he is a gentleman: whereas it is notorious
that the Parisian artisan or labourer of the lower class is proud of
connecting himself conspicuously with his own order, and ostentatiously
acknowledging it, by adopting its usual costume. It is his way of
expressing an _esprit de corps_. The same thing is true very extensively
of Germans. And it sounds pretty, and reads into a sentimental
expression of cheerful contentedness, that such customs should prevail
on a great scale. Meantime I am not quite sure that the worthy Parisian
is not an ass, and the amiable German another, for thus meekly resigning
himself to the tyranny of his accidental situation. What they call the
allotment of Providence is, often enough, the allotment of their own
laziness or defective energy. At any rate, I feel much more inclined to
respect the aspiring Englishman or Scotchman that kicks against these
self-imposed restraints; that rebels in heart against whatever there may
be of degradation in his own particular employment; and, therefore,
though submitting to this degradation as the _sine quâ non_ for earning
his daily bread, and submitting also to the external badges and dress of
his trade as frequently a matter of real convenience, yet doggedly
refuses to abet or countersign any such arrangements as tend to lower
him in other men's opinion. And exactly this is what he _would_ be doing
by assuming his professional costume on Sundays; the costume would then
become an exponent of his choice, not of his convenience or his
necessity; and he would thus be proclaiming that he glories in what he
detests. To found a meek and docile nation, the German is the very
architect wanted; but to found a go-ahead nation quite another race is
called for, other blood and other training. And, again, when I hear a
notable housewife exclaiming, 'Many are the poor servant girls that
have been led into temptation and ruin by dressing above their station,'
I feel that she says no more than the truth; and I grieve that it should
be so. Out of tenderness, therefore, and pity towards the poor girls, if
I personally had any power to bias their choice, my influence should be
used in counteraction to their natural propensities. But this has
nothing to do with the philosophic estimate of those propensities.
Perilous they are; but _that_ does not prevent their arising in
fountains that contain elements of possible grandeur, such as would
never be developed by a German Audrey (see 'As You Like It') content to
be treated as a doll by her lover, and viewing it as profane to wear
petticoats less voluminous, or a headdress less frightful than those
inherited from her grandmother.

Excuse this digression, reader. What I wished to explain was that, if a
man in a humble situation seeks to refine his pronunciation of English,
and finds himself in consequence taxed with pride that will not brook
the necessities of his rank, at all events, he is but _integrating_ his
manifestations of pride. Already in his Sunday's costume he has _begun_
this manifestation, and, as I contend, rightfully. If a carpenter or a
stonemason goes abroad on a railway excursion, there is no moral
obligation upon him--great or small--to carry about any memento
whatsoever of his calling. I contend that his right to pass himself off
for a gentleman is co-extensive with his power to do so: the right is
limited by the power, and by that only. The man may say justly: "What I
am seeking is a holiday. This is what I pay for; and I pay for it with
money earned painfully enough. I have a right therefore to expect that
the article shall be genuine and complete. Now, a holiday means freedom
from the pains of labour--not from some of those pains, but from all.
Even from the memory of these pains, if _that_ could be bought, and from
the anticipation of their recurrence. Amongst the pains of labour, a
leading one next after the necessity of unintermitting muscular effort,
is the oppression of people's superciliousness or of their affected
condescension in conversing with one whom they know to be a working
mechanic. From this oppression it is, from this oppression whether open
or poorly disguised, that I seek to be delivered. It taints my pleasure:
it spoils my holiday. And if by being dressed handsomely, by courtesy in
manners, and by accuracy in speaking English, I can succeed in obtaining
this deliverance for myself, I have a right to it." Undoubtedly he has.
His real object is not to disconnect himself from an honest calling, but
from that burthen of contempt or of slight consideration which the world
has affixed to his calling. He takes measures for gratifying his
pride--not with a direct or primary view to that pride, but indirectly
as the only means open to him for evading and defeating the unjust
conventional scorn that would settle upon himself _through_ his trade,
if that should happen to become known or suspected. This is what I
should be glad to assist him in; and amongst other points connected with
his object, towards which my experience might furnish him with some
hints, I shall here offer him the very shortest of lessons for his
guidance in the matter of English pronunciation.

What can be attempted on so wide a field in a paper limited so severely
in dimensions as all papers published by this journal _must_ be limited
in obedience to the transcendent law of variety? To make it possible
that subjects _enough_ should be treated, the Proprietor wisely insists
on a treatment vigorously succinct for each in particular. I myself, it
suddenly strikes me, must have been the chief offender against this
reasonable law: but my offences were committed in pure ignorance and
inattention, faults which henceforth I shall guard against with a
penitential earnestness. Reformation meanwhile must begin, I fear,
simultaneously with this confession of guilt. It would not be possible
(would it?) that, beginning the penitence this month of November, I
should postpone the amendment till the next? No, _that_ would look too
brazen. I must confine myself to the two and a half pages prescribed as
the maximum extent--and of that allowance already perhaps have used up
one half at the least. Shocking! is it not? So much the sterner is the
demand through the remaining ground for exquisite brevity.

Rushing therefore at once _in medias res_, I observe to the reader that,
although it is thoroughly impossible to give him a guide upon so vast a
wilderness as the total area of our English language, for, if I must
teach him how to pronounce, and upon what learned grounds to pronounce,
40,000 words, and if polemically I must teach him how to dispose of
40,000 objections that have been raised (or that _may_ be raised)
against these pronunciations, then I should require at the least 40,000
lives (which is quite out of the question, for a cat has but
nine)--seeing and allowing for all this, I may yet offer him some
guidance as to his guide. One sole rule, if he will attend to it,
governs in a paramount sense the total possibilities and compass of
pronunciation. A very famous line of Horace states it. What line? What
is the supreme law in every language for correct pronunciation no less
than for idiomatic propriety?

    '_Usus_, quem penes arbitrium est et jus et norma loquendi:'

usage, the established practice, subject to which is all law and normal
standard of correct speaking. Now, in what way does such a rule
interfere with the ordinary prejudice on this subject? The popular error
is that, in pronunciation, as in other things, there is an abstract
right and a wrong. The difficulty, it is supposed, lies in ascertaining
this right and wrong. But by collation of arguments, by learned
investigation, and interchange of _pros_ and _cons_, it is fancied that
ultimately the exact truth of each separate case might be extracted.
Now, in that preconception lies the capital blunder incident to the
question. There _is_ no right, there _is_ no wrong, except what the
prevailing usage creates. The usage, the existing custom, _that_ is the
law: and from that law there is no appeal whatever, nor demur that is
sustainable for a moment.


[52] Amongst the Spaniards there _is_.


Now, observe what I am going to prove. First A, and as a stepping-stone
to something (B) which is to follow: It is, that the Jewish Scriptures
could not have been composed in any modern æra. I am earnest in drawing
your attention to the particular point which I have before me, because
one of the enormous faults pervading all argumentative books, so that
rarely indeed do you find an exception, is that, in all the dust and
cloud of contest and of objects, the reader never knows what is the
immediate object before the writer and himself, nor if he were told
would he understand in what relation it stood to the main object of
contest--the main question at stake. Recollect, therefore, that what I
want is to show that these elder Jewish Scriptures must have existed in
very ancient days--how ancient? for ancient is an ambiguous word--could
not have been written as a memorial of tradition within a century or two
of our æra. To suppose, even for the sake of answering, the case of a
forgery, is too gross and shocking: though a very common practice
amongst writers miscalled religious, but in fact radically, incurably
unspiritual. This might be shown to be abominable even in an
intellectual sense; because no adequate, no rational purpose could be
answered by such a labour. The sole conceivable case would be, that from
the eldest days the Jews had been governed by all the Mosaic
institutions as we now have them, but that the mere copying, the mere
registration on tablets of parchment, wood, leather, brass, had not
occurred till some more modern period. As to this the answer is at once:
Why should they not have been written down? What answer could be given?
Only this: For the same reason that other nations did not commit to
writing their elder institutions. And why did they not? Was it to save
trouble? So far from that, this one privation imposed infinite trouble
that would have been evaded by written copies. For because they did not
write down, therefore, as the sole mode of providing for accurate
remembrance, they were obliged to compose in a very elaborate metre; in
which the mere _pattern_ as it were of the verse, so intricate and so
closely interlocked, always performed thus two services: first, it
assisted the memory in mastering the tenor; but, secondly, it checked
and counterpleaded to the lapses of memory or to the artifices of fraud.
This explanation is well illustrated in the 'Iliad'--a poem elder by a
century, it is rightly argued, than the 'Odyssey,' ergo the eldest of
Pagan literature. Now, when the 'Iliad' had once come down safe to
Pisistratus 555 years B.C., imagine this great man holding out his hands
over the gulf of time to Homer, 1,000 years before, who is chucking or
shying his poems across the gulf. Once landed in those conservative
hands, never trouble yourself more about the safety of the 'Iliad.'
After that it was as safe as the eyes in any Athenian's head. But before
that time there _was_ a great danger; and this danger was at all
surmounted (scholars differ greatly and have sometimes cudgelled one
another with real unfigurative cudgels as to the degree in which it
_did_ surmount the danger) only by the metre and a regular orchestra in
every great city dedicated to this peculiar service of chanting the
'Iliad'; insomuch that a special costume was assigned to the chanters of
the 'Iliad,' viz., scarlet or crimson, and also another special costume
to the chanters of the 'Odyssey,' viz., violet-coloured. Now, this
division of orchestras had one great evil and one great benefit. The
benefit was, that if locally one orchestra went wrong (as it might do
upon local temptations) yet surely all the orchestras would not go
wrong: ninety-nine out of every hundred would check and expose the
fraudulent hundredth. _There_ was the good. But the evil was concurrent.
For by this dispersion of orchestras, and this multiplication, not only
were the ordinary chances of error according to the doctrine of chances
multiplied a hundred or a thousand fold, but also, which was worse, each
separate orchestra was brought by local position under a separate and
peculiar action of some temptation, some horrible temptation, some bribe
that could not be withstood, for falsifying the copy by compliments to
local families; that is, to such as were or such as were not descendants
from the Paladius of Troy. For that, let me say, was for Greece, nay,
for all the Mediterranean world, what for us of Christian ages have been
the Crusades. It was the pinnacle from which hung as a dependency all
the eldest of families. So that they who were of such families thirsted
after what they held aright to be asserted, viz., a Homeric
commemoration; and they who were not thirsted after what had begun to
seem a feasible ambition to be accomplished. It was feasible: for
various attempts are still on record very much like our interpolations
of Church books as to records of birth or marriage. Athens, for
instance, was discontented with Homer's praise; and the case is
interesting, because, though it argues such an attempt to be very
difficult, since even a great city could not fully succeed, yet, at the
same time, it argues that it was not quite hopeless, or else it would
hardly have been attempted. So that here arises one argument for the
main genuineness of the Homeric text. Yet you will say: Perhaps when
Athens tried the trick it was too late in the day: it was too late after
full daylight to be essaying burglaries. But it would have been easy in
elder days. This is true; but remark the restraint which that very state
of the case supposes. Precisely when this difficulty became great,
became enormous, did the desire chiefly become great, become enormous,
for mastering it. And when the difficulty was light, when the forgery
was most a matter of ease, the ambition was least. For you cannot
suppose that families standing near to the Crusades would have cared
much for the reputation. As an act of piety they would prize it; as an
exponent of antiquity they would not prize it at all. For, in fact, it
would argue no such thing, until many centuries had passed. You see,
however, by this sketch the _pros_ and the _cons_ respecting the
difficulty of transmitting the 'Iliad' free from corruption, if at once
it was resigned to mere oral tradition. The alterations were more and
more tempting; but in that ratio were less and less possible. And then,
secondly, there were the changes from chance or from changing language.
Apply all these considerations to the case of the Hebrew Scriptures, and
their great antiquity is demonstrated.


Look into the Acts of the Apostles, you see the wide dispersion of the
Jews which had then been accomplished; a dispersion long antecedent to
that penal dispersion which occurred subsequently to the Christian era.
But search the pages of the wicked Jew, Josephus,[53] who notices
expressly this universal dispersion of the Jews, and gives up and down
his works the means of tracing them through every country in the
southern belt of the Mediterranean, through every country of the
northern belt, through every country of the connecting belt, in Asia
Minor and Syria--through every island of the Mediterranean. Search
Philo-Judæus, the same result is found. But why? Upon what theory? What
great purpose is working, is fermenting underneath? What principle, what
law can be abstracted from this antagonist or centrifugal motion
outwards now violently beating back as with a conflict of tides the
original centripetal motion inwards? Manifestly this: the incubating
process had been completed: the ideas of God as an ideal of Holiness,
the idea of Sin as the antagonist force--had been perfected; they were
now so inextricably worked into the texture of Jewish minds, or the
Jewish minds were now arrived at their _maximum_ of adhesiveness, or at
their _minimum_ of repulsiveness, in manners and social character, that
this stage was perfect; and now came the five hundred years during which
they were to manure all nations with these preparations for
Christianity. Hence it was that the great globe of Hebraism was now
shivered into fragments; projected 'by one sling of that victorious
arm'--which had brought them up from Egypt. Make ready for Christianity!
Lay the structure, in which everywhere Christianity will strike root.
You, that for yourselves even will reject, will persecute Christianity,
become the pioneers, the bridge-layers, the reception-preparers, by
means of those two inconceivable ideas, for natural man--sin and its
antagonist, holiness.

In this way a preparation was made. But if Christianity was to benefit
by it, if Christianity was to move with ease, she must have a language.
Accordingly, from the time of Alexander, the strong he-goat, you see a
tendency--sudden, abrupt, beyond all example, swift, perfect--for
uniting all nations by the bond of a single language. You see kings and
nations taking up their positions as regularly, faithfully, solemnly as
a great fleet on going into action, for supporting this chain of

Yet even that will be insufficient; for fluent motion out of nation into
nation it will be requisite that all nations should be provinces of one
supreme people; so that no hindrances from adverse laws, or from
jealousies of enmity, can possibly impede the fluent passage of the
apostle and the apostle's delegates--inasmuch as the laws are swallowed
up into one single code, and enmity disappears with its consequent
jealousies, where all nationalities are absorbed into unity.

This last change being made, a signal, it may be supposed, was given as
with a trumpet; now then, move forward, Christianity; the ground is
ready, the obstacles are withdrawn. Enter upon the field which is
manured; try the roads which are cleared; use the language which is
prepared; benefit by the laws which protect and favour your motion;
apply the germinating principles which are beginning to swell in this
great vernal season of Christianity. New heavens and new earth are
forming: do you promote it.

Such a _complexus_ of favourable tendencies, such a meeting in one
centre of plans--commencing in far different climates and far different
centres, all coming up at the same æra face to face, and by direct lines
of connection meeting in one centre--the world had never seen before.


[53] 'The wicked Jew,' Josephus, as once I endeavoured to show, was
perhaps the worst man in all antiquity; it is pleasant to be foremost
upon any path, and Joe might assuredly congratulate himself on
surmounting and cresting all the scoundrels since the flood. What there
might be on the other side the flood, none of us can say. But on _this_
side, amongst the Cis-diluvians, Joe in a contest for the deanery of
that venerable chapter, would assuredly carry off the prize. Wordsworth,
on a question arising as to _who_ might be the worst man in English
history, vehemently contended for the pre-eminent pretensions of Monk.
And when some of us assigned him only the fifth or sixth place, was
disposed to mourn for him as an ill-used man. But no difficulty of this
kind could arise with regard to the place of Josephus among the
ancients, full knowledge and impartial judgment being presupposed. And
his works do follow him; just look at this: From the ridiculous attempt
of some imbecile Christian to interpolate in Josephus's History a
passage favourable to Christ, it is clear that no adequate idea
prevailed of his intense hatred to the new sect of Nazarenes and
Galilæans. In our own days we have a lively illustration of the use
which may be extracted from the Essenes by sceptics, and an indirect
confirmation of my own allegation, against them, in Dr. Strauss (_Leben
Jesu_). The moment that his attention was directed to that fact of the
Essenes being utterly ignored in the New Testament (a fact so easily
explained by _my_ theory, a fact so _utterly_ unaccountable to _his_) he
conceived an affection for them. Had they been mentioned by St. John,
there was an end to the dislike; but Josephus had, even with this modern
sceptical Biblical critic, done his work and done it well.


If you are one that upon meditative grounds have come sincerely to
perceive the philosophic value of this faith; if you have become
sensible that as yet Christianity is but in its infant stages--after
eighteen centuries is but beginning to unfold its adaptations to the
long series of human situations, slowly unfolding as time and change
move onwards; and that these self-adapting relations of the religion to
human necessities, this conformity to unforeseen developments, argues a
Leibnitzian pre-establishment of this great system as though it had from
the first been a mysterious substratum laid under 'the dark foundations'
of human nature; holding or admitting such views of the progress
awaiting Christianity--you will thank us for what we are going to say.
You may, possibly for yourself, when reviewing the past history of man,
have chanced to perceive the same--we are not jealous of participation
in a field so ample--but even in such a case, if the remark (on which we
are now going to throw a ray of light) should appeal to you in
particular, with less of absolute novelty, not the less you will feel
thankful to be confirmed in your views by independent testimony. We, for
ourselves, offer the remark as new; but, in an age teeming with so much
agility of thought, it is rare that any remark can have absolutely
evaded all partial glimpses or stray notices of others, even when _aliud
agentes_, men stumble upon truths, to which they are not entitled by any
meritorious or direct studies. However, whether absolutely original or
not, the remark is this--Did it ever strike you, reader, as a most
memorable phenomenon about Christianity, as one of those contradictory
functions which, to a thing of human mechanism, is impossible, but which
are found in _vital_ agencies and in all deep-laid systems of
truth--that the same scheme of belief which is the most settling,
freezing, tranquillizing for one purpose, is the most unbinding,
agitating, revolutionary in another? Christianity is that religion which
most of all settles what is perilous in scepticism; and yet, also, it is
that which most of all unsettles whatever may invite man's intellectual
activity. It is the sole religion which can give any deep anchorage for
man's hopes; and yet, also, in mysterious self-antagonism, it is the
sole religion which opens a pathless ocean to man's useful and blameless
speculations. Whilst all false religions neither as a matter of fact
_have_ produced--nor as a matter of possibility _could_ have produced--a
philosophy, it is a most significant distinction of Christianity, and
one upon which volumes might be written, that simply by means of the
great truths which that faith has fixed when brought afterwards into
collision with the innumerable questions which that faith has left
undetermined (as not essential to her own final purposes), Christianity
has bred, and tempted, and stimulated a vast body of philosophy on
neutral ground; ground religious enough to create an interest in the
questions, yet not so religious as to react upon capital truths by any
errors that may be committed in the discussion. For instance, on that
one sea-like question of free agency, besides the _explicit_ philosophy
that Christianity has bred amongst the Schoolmen, and since their time,
what a number of sects, heresies, orthodox churches have _implicitly_
couched and diffused some one view or other of this question amongst
their characteristic differences; and without prejudice to the integrity
of their Christian views or the purity of their Christian morals.
Whilst, on the other hand, the very noblest of false religions (the
noblest as having stolen much from Christianity), viz., Islamism, has
foreclosed all philosophy on this subject by the stupid and killing
doctrine of fatalism. This we give as one instance; but in all the rest
it is the same. You might fancy that from a false religion should arise
a false philosophy--false, but still a philosophy. Is it so? On the
contrary: the result of false religion is no philosophy at all.

Paganism produced none: the Pagans had a philosophy; but it stood in no
sort of relation, real or fancied relation, to their mythology or
worship. And the Mahometans, in times when they had universities and
professors' chairs, drew the whole of their philosophic systems from
Greece, without so much as ever attempting to connect these systems with
their own religious creed. But Christianity, on the other hand, the only
great doctrinal religion, the only religion which ties up--chains--and
imprisons human faith, where it is good for man's peace that he should
be fettered, is also the only religion which places him in perfect
liberty on that vast neutral arena where it is good for him to exercise
his unlimited energies of mind. And it is most remarkable, that whilst
Christianity so far shoots her rays into these neutral questions as to
invest them with grandeur, she keeps herself uncommitted and unpledged
to such philosophic problems in any point where they might ally
themselves with error. For instance, St. Austin's, or Calvin's doctrine
on free agency is so far Christian, that Christian churches have adopted
it into their articles of faith, or have even built upon it as a
foundation. So far it seems connected with Christian truth. Yet, again,
it is so far separate from Christian truth, that no man dares to
pronounce his brother heretical for doubting or denying it. And thus
Christianity has ministered, even in this side-chapel of its great
temple, to two great necessities: it has thrown out a permanent
temptation to human activity of intellect, by connecting itself with
tertiary questions growing out of itself derivatively and yet
indifferent to the main interests of truth. In this way Christianity has
ministered to a necessity which was not religious, but simply human,
through a religious radiation in a descending line. Secondly, it has
kept alive and ventilated through every age the direct religious
interest in its own primary truths, by throwing out secondary truths,
that were doubtfully related to the first, for polemical agitation.
Foolish are they who talk of our Christian disputes as arguments of an
unsound state, or as silent reproaches to the sanity or perfect
development of our religion. Mahometans are united, because the only
points that could disunite them relate generally to fact and _not_ to
doctrinal truths. Their very national heresies turn only on a ridiculous
piece of gossip--Was such a man's son-in-law his legitimate successor?
Upon a point so puerile as this revolves the entire difference between
the heterodoxy of Persia and the orthodoxy of Turkey. Or, if their
differences go deeper, in that case they tend to the utter extinction
of Islamism; they maintain no characteristic or exclusive dogma; as
amongst the modern Sikhs of Hindostan, who have blended the Brahminical
and Mahometan creeds by an incoherent _syncretismus_; or, as amongst
many heretics of Persia and Arabia, who are mere crazy freethinkers,
without any religious determination, without any principle of libration
for the oscillating mind. Whereas _our_ differences, leaving generally
all central truths untouched, arise like our political parties, and
operate like them; they grow out of our sincerity, and they sustain our
sincerity. That interest _must_ be unaffected which leads men into
disputes and permanent factions, and that truth _must_ be diffusive as
life itself, which is found to underlay a vast body of philosophy. It is
the cold petrific annihilation of a moral interest in the subject, by
substituting a meagre interest of historical facts, which stifles all
differences; stifles political differences under a despotism, from utter
despair of winning practical value to men's opinions; stifles religious
differences under a childish creed of facts or anecdotes, from the
impossibility of bringing to bear upon the [Greek: to] positive of an
arbitrary legend, or the mere conventional of a clan history--dead,
inert letters--any moral views this way or that, and any life of
philosophical speculation. Thence comes the soul-killing monotony (unity
one cannot call it) of all false religions. Attached to mere formal
facts, they provoke no hostility in the inner nature. Affirming nothing
as regards the life of truth, why should they tempt any man to
contradict? Lying, indeed, but lying only as a false pedigree lies, or
an old mythological legend, they interest no principle in man's moral
heart; they make no oracular answers, put forth no secret agitation,
they provoke no question. But Christianity, merely by her settlements
and fixing of truths, has disengaged and unfixed a world of other
truths, for sustaining or for tempting an endless activity of the
intellect. And the astonishing result has thus been accomplished--that
round a centre, fixed and motionless as a polar tablet of ice, there has
been in the remote offing a tumbling sea of everlasting agitation. A
central gravitation in the power of Christianity has drawn to one point
and converged into one tendency all capital agencies in all degrees of
remoteness, making them tend to rest and unity; whilst, again, by an
antagonist action, one vast centrifugal force, measured against the
other, has so modified the result as to compel the intellect of man into
divergencies answering to the line of convergence; balancing the central
rest for man's hopes by everlasting motion for his intellect, and the
central unity for man's conscience by everlasting progress for his

Now, the Scholastic philosophy meddled chiefly with those tertiary or
sub-dependent truths; such, viz., as are indifferent to Christianity by
any reaction which they can exert from error in their treatment, but not
indifferent as regards their own original derivation. Many people
connect Scholasticism with a notion of error and even of falsehood,
because they suppose it to have arisen on the incitement of Popery. And
it is undeniable that Popery impressed a bias or _clinamen_ upon its
movement. It is true also that Scholasticism is not only ministerial to
Popery, but in parts is consubstantial with Popery. Popery is not fully
fleshed and developed apart from the commentaries or polemical apologies
of Aquinas. But still we must remember that Popery had not yet taken up
the formal position of hostility to truth, seeing that as yet
Protestantism was only beginning its first infant struggles. Many Popish
errors were hardened and confirmed in the very furnace of the strife.
And though perilous errors had intermingled themselves with Popery,
which would eventually have strangled all the Christian truth which it
involved, yet that truth it was which gave its whole interest to the
Reformation. Had the Reformation fought against mere unmixed error, it
could not have been viewed as a reforming process, but as one entirely
innovating. So that even where it is most exclusively Popish,
Scholasticism has often a golden thread of truth running through its
texture; often it is not Popish in the sense of being Anti-Protestant,
but in the elder sense of being Anti-Pagan. However, generally speaking,
it is upon the neutral ground common to all modes of Christianity that
this philosophy ranges. That being so, there was truth enough of a high
order to sustain the sublimer motives of the Schoolmen; whilst the
consciousness of supporting the mixed interests, secular and spiritual,
of that mighty Christian church which at that time was co-extensive with
Christianity in the West, gave to the Schoolmen a more instant, human,
and impassioned interest in the labours of that mysterious loom which
pursued its aerial web through three centuries.

As a consequence from all this, we affirm that the parallel is complete
between the situation on the one side of the early Greek authors, the
creators of Greek literature in the age of Pericles, and, on the other
side, of the Christian Schoolmen; (1) the same intense indolence, which
Helvetius fancied to be the most powerful stimulant to the mind under
the reaction of _ennui_; (2) the same tantalizing dearth of books--just
enough to raise a craving, too little to meet it; (3) the same chilling
monotony of daily life and absence of female charities to mould social
intercourse--for the Greeks from false composition of society and
vicious sequestration of women--for the scholastic monks from the
austere asceticism of their founders and the 'rule' of their order; (4)
finally the same (but far different) enthusiasm and permanent elevation
of thought from disinterested participation in forwarding a great
movement of the times--for the one side tending to the unlimited
aggrandisement of their own brilliant country; for the other,
commensurate with what is conceivable in human grandeur.

This sketch of Christianity as it is mysteriously related to the total
body of Philosophy actual or possible, present or in reversion, may seem
inadequate. In some sense it _is_ so. But call it a note or
'_excursus_,' which is the scholarlike name for notes a little longer
than usual, and all will be made right. What we have in view, is to
explain the situation of the Greeks under Pericles by that of the
Schoolmen. We use the modern or Christian case, which is more striking
from its monastic peculiarity, as a reflex picture of the other. We rely
on the moulding circumstances of Scholasticism, its awakened intellect,
its famishing eagerness from defect of books, its gloom from the exile
of all feminine graces, and its towering participation in an interest
the grandest of the age, as a sort of _camera obscura_ for bringing down
on the table before us a portraiture essentially the same of early Greek
society in the rapturous spring-time of Pericles.

If the governing circumstances were the same in virtue, then probably
there would be a virtual sameness in some of the results: and amongst
these results would be the prevailing cast of thinking, and therefore to
some extent the prevailing features of style. It may seem strange to
affirm any affinities between the arid forms of Scholastic style and the
free movement of the early Grecian style. They seem rather to be
repelling extremes. But extremes meet more often than is supposed. And
there really _are_ some remarkable features of conformity even as to
this point between the tendencies of Christian monachism and the
unsocial sociality of Paganism. However, it is not with this view that
we have pressed the parallel. Not by way of showing a general affinity
in virtues and latent powers, and thence deducing a probable affinity in
results, but generally for the sake of fixing and illustrating
circumstances which made it _physically_ impossible that the movement
could have been translated by contagion from one country to the others.
Roads were too bad, cities too difficult of access, travellers too rare,
books too incapable of transmission, for any solution which should
explain the chain of coincidences into a chain of natural causations.
No; the solution was, that Christianity had everywhere gone ahead
spontaneously with the same crying necessities for purification, that
is, for progress. One deep, from North to South, called to another; but
the deeps all alike, each separately for itself, were ready with their
voices, ready without collusion to hear and to reverberate the cry to
God. The light, which abides and lodges in Christianity, had everywhere,
by measured steps and by unborrowed strength, kindled into mortal
antagonism with the darkness which had gathered over Christianity from
human corruptions. But in science this result is even more conspicuous.
Not only by their powers and energies the parallel currents of science
in different lands enter into emulations that secure a general
uniformity of progress, run neck and neck against each other, so as to
arrive at any killing rasper of a difficulty pretty nearly about the
same time; not only do they thus make it probable that coincidences of
victory will continually occur through the rivalships of power; but also
through the rivalships of weakness. Most naturally for the same reason
that they worshipped in spirit and in truth, for the same reason that
led them to value such a worship, they valued its distant fountain-head.
Hence their interest in the Messiah. Hence their delegation.


The Romans, so far from looking with the Jews to the Tigris, looked to
the Jews themselves. Or at least they looked to that whole Syria, of
which the Jews were a section. Consequently, there is a solution of two

1. The wise men of the East were delegates from the trans-Tigridian

2. The great man who should arise from the East to govern the world was,
in the sense of that prophecy, _i.e._, in the terms of that prophecy
interpreted according to the sense of all who circulated and partook
in--or were parties to--the belief of that prophecy, was to come from
Syria: _i.e._, from Judea.

Now take it either way, observe the sublimity and the portentous
significance of this expectation. Every man of imaginative feeling has
been struck with that secret whisper that stirred through France in
1814-15--that a man was to come with the violets. The violets were
symbolically Napoleonic, as being the colour of his livery: it was also
his cognizance: and the time for his return was _March_, from which
commence the ever memorable Hundred days. And the sublimity lies in the
circumstances of:

1. A whisper running through Christendom: people in remotest quarters
bound together by a tie so aerial.

2. Of the dread augury enveloped in this little humble but beautiful

3. Of the awful revolution at hand: the great earthquake that was mining
and quarrying in the dark chambers beneath the thrones of Europe.

These and other circumstances throw a memorable sublimity upon this
whisper of conspiracy. But what was this to the awful whisper that
circled round the earth ([Greek: hê oikoumenê]) as to the being that was
coming from Judea? There was no precedent, no antagonist whisper with
which it could enter into any terms of comparison, unless there had by
possibility been heard that mysterious and ineffable sigh which Milton
ascribes to the planet when man accomplished his mysterious rebellion.
The idea of such a sigh, of a whisper circling through the planet, of
the light growing thick with the unimaginable charge, and the purple
eclipse of Death throwing a penumbra; that may, but nothing else ever
can, equal the unutterable sublimity of that buzz--that rumour, that
susurrus passing from mouth to mouth--nobody knew whence coming or
whither tending, and about a being of whom nobody could tell what he
should be--what he should resemble--what he should do, but that all
peoples and languages should have an interest in his appearance.

Now, on the one hand, suppose this--I mean, suppose the Roman whisper to
be an authorized rumour utterly without root; in that case you would
have a clear intervention of Heaven. But, on the other hand, suppose,
which is to me the more probable idea, that it was not without a root;
that in fact it was the Judæan conception of a Messiah, translated into
Roman and worldly ideas; into ideas which a Roman could understand,
or with which the world could sympathize, viz., that _rerum
potiretur_. (The plural here indicates only the awful nature, its

I have, in fact, little doubt that it _was_ a Romanized appropriation or
translation of the Judæan Messiah. One thing only I must warn you
against. You will naturally say: 'Since two writers among the very few
surviving have both refuted this prophecy, and Josephus besides, this
implies that many thousands did so. For if out of a bundle of newspapers
two only had survived quite disconnected, both talking of the same man,
we should argue a great popularity for that man.' And you will say: 'All
these Roman people, did they interpret?' You know already--by Vespasian.
Now whilst, on the one hand, I am far from believing that chance only
was the parent of the ancient [Greek: eustochia], their felicitous
guessing (for it was a higher science), yet, in this new matter, what
coincidence of Pagan prophecy, as doubtless a horrid mistrust in the
oracles, etc., made them 'sagacious from a fear' of the coming peril,
and, as often happens in Jewish prophecies--God when He puts forth His
hand the purposes attained roll one under the other sometimes three deep
even to our eyes.


Life, naturally the antagonism of Death, must have reacted upon Life
according to its own development. Christianity having so awfully
affected the [Greek: to] + of Death, this + must have reacted on Life.
Hence, therefore, a phenomenon existing broadly to the human sensibility
in these ages which for the Pagans had no existence whatever. If to a
modern spectator a very splendid specimen of animal power, suppose a
horse of three or four years old in the fulness of his energies, that
saith _ha_ to the trumpets and is unable to stand _loco_ if he hears any
exciting music, be brought for exhibition--not one of the spectators,
however dull, but has a dim feeling of excitement added to his
admiration from the lurking antagonism of the fugacious life attached to
this ebullient power, and the awful repulsion between that final
tendency and the meridian development of the strength. Hence, therefore,
the secret rapture in bringing forward tropical life--the shooting of
enormous power from darkness, the kindling in the midst of winter and
sterility of irrepressible, simultaneous, tropical vegetation--the
victorious surmounting of foliage, blossoms, flowers, fruits--burying
and concealing the dreary vestiges of desolation.

Reply to the fact that Xerxes wept over his forces, by showing that in
kind, like the Jewish, the less ignoble superstition of Persia--which
must in the time of Balaam, if we suppose the Mesotam meant to have been
the tract between the Euphrates and the Tigris, have been almost
coincident with the Jewish as to the unity of God--had always, amidst
barbarism arising from the forces moulding social sentiment, prompted a
chivalry and sensibility far above Grecian. For how else account for the
sole traits of Christian sensibility in regard to women coming forward
in the beautiful tale of the Armenian prince, whose wife when asked for
her opinion of Cyrus the Conqueror, who promised to restore them all to
liberty and favour (an act, by the way, in itself impossible to Greek
feelings, which exhibit no one case of relinquishing such rights over
captives) in one hour, replied that she knew not, had not remarked his
person; for that _her_ attention had been all gathered upon that prince,
meaning her youthful husband, who being asked by the Persian king what
sacrifice he would esteem commensurate to the recovery of his bride,
answered so fervently, that life and all which it contained were too
slight a ransom to pay. Even that answer was wholly impossible to a
Grecian. And again the beautiful catastrophe in the tale of Abradates
and Panthea--the gratitude with which both husband and wife received the
royal gift of restoration to each other's arms, implying a sort of holy
love inconceivable to a state of Polygamy--the consequent reaction of
their thought in testifying this gratitude; and as war unhappily offered
the sole chance for displaying it, the energy of Panthea in adorning
with her own needle the habiliments of her husband--the issuing forth
and parting on the morning of battle--the principle of upright duty and
of immeasurable gratitude in Abradates forming 'a nobler counsellor'
than his wife's 'poor heart'--his prowess--his glorious death--his
bringing home as a corpse--the desolation of Panthea--the visit and
tears of the Persian king to the sorrowing widow stretched upon the
ground by the corpse of her hero--the fine incident of the right hand,
by which Cyrus had endeavoured to renew his pledges of friendship with
the deceased prince, coming away from the corpse and following the royal
touch (this hand having been struck off in the battle)--the burial--and
the subsequent death of Panthea, who refused to be comforted under all
the kind assurances, the kindest protection from the Persian king--these
traits, though surviving in Greek, are undoubtedly Persian. For Xenophon
had less sensibility than any Greek author that survives. And besides,
abstracting from the writer, how is it that Greek records offer no such
story; nothing like it; no love between married people of that chivalric
order--no conjugal fidelity--no capacity of that beautiful reply--that
she saw him not, for that _her_ mind had no leisure for any other
thought than _one_?



In London and other great capitals it is well known that new diseases
have manifested themselves of late years: and more would be known about
them, were it not for the tremulous delicacy which waits on the
afflictions of the rich. We do not say this invidiously. It is right
that such forbearance should exist. Medical men, as a body, are as manly
a race as any amongst us, and as little prone to servility. But
obviously the case of exposure under circumstances of humiliating
affliction is a very different thing for the man whose rank and
consideration place him upon a hill conspicuous to a whole city or
nation, and for the unknown labourer whose name excites no feeling
whatever in the reader of his case. Meantime it is precisely amongst the
higher classes, privileged so justly from an exposure pressing so
unequally upon _their_ rank, that these new forms of malady emerge. Any
man who visits London at intervals long enough to make the spectacle of
that great vision impressive to him from novelty and the force of
contrast, more especially if this contrast is deepened by a general
residence in some quiet rural seclusion, will not fail to be struck by
the fever and tumult of London as its primary features. _Struck_ is not
the word: _awed_ is the only adequate expression as applied to the
hurry, the uproar, the strife, the agony of life as it boils along some
of the main arteries among the London streets. About the hour of
equinoctial sunset comes a periodic respite in the shape of dinner. Were
it not for that, were it not for the wine and the lustre of lights, and
the gentle restraints of courtesies, and the soothing of conversation,
through which a daily reaction is obtained, London would perish from
excitement in a year. The effect upon one who like ourselves simply
beholds the vast frenzy attests its power. The mere sympathy, into which
the nerves are forced by the eye, expounds the fury with which it must
act upon those who are acting and suffering participators in the mania.
Rome suffered in the same way, but in a less degree: and the same relief
was wooed daily in a brilliant dinner (_cæna_), but two and a half hours

The same state of things exists proportionately in other
capitals--Edinburgh, Dublin, Naples, Vienna. And doubtless, if the
curtain were raised, the same penalties would be traced as pursuing this
agitated life; the penalties, we mean, that exist in varied shapes of
nervous disease.


Mr. Bennett personally is that good man who interests us the more
because he seems to be an ill-used one. By the way, here is a
combination which escaped the Roman moralist: _Vir bonus_, says he,
_malâ fortunâ compositus_, is a spectacle for the gods. Yet what is that
case, the case of a man matched in duel with the enmity of a malicious
fellow-creature--naturally his inferior, but officially having means to
oppress him? No man is naturally or easily roused to anger by a blind
abstraction like Fortune; and therefore he is under no temptation to
lose his self-command. He sustains no trial that can make him worthy of
a divine contemplation. Amongst all the extravagancies of human nature,
never yet did we hear of a person who harboured a sentiment of private
malice against Time for moving too rapidly, or against Space for being
infinitely divisible. Even animated annoyers, if they are without spite
towards ourselves, we regard with no enmity. No man in all history, if
we except the twelfth Cæsar, has nourished a deadly feud against
flies[54]: and if Mrs. Jameson allowed a sentiment of revenge to nestle
in her heart towards the Canadian mosquitoes, it was the race and not
the individual parties to the trespass on herself against whom she
protested. Passions it is, human passions, intermingling with the wrong
itself that envenom the sense of wrong. We have ourselves been caned
severely in passing through a wood by the rebound, the recalcitration we
may call it, of elastic branches which we had displaced. And passing
through the same wood with a Whitehaven dandy of sixty, now in _Hades_,
who happened to wear a beautiful wig from which on account of the heat
he had removed his hat, we saw with these eyes of ours one of those same
thickets which heretofore had been concerned in our own caning,
deliberately lift up, suspend, and keep dangling in the air for the
contempt of the public that auburn wig which was presumed by its wearer
to be simular of native curls. The ugliness of that death's head which
by this means was suddenly exposed to daylight, the hideousness of that
grinning skull so abruptly revealed, may be imagined by poets. Neither
was the affair easily redressed: the wig swung buoyantly in the playful
breezes: to catch it was hard, to release it without injuring the
tresses was a matter of nicety: ladies were heard approaching from Rydal
Mount: the dandy was agitated: he felt himself, if seen in this
condition, to be a mere _memento mori_: for the first time in his life,
as we believe, he blushed on meeting our eye: he muttered something, in
which we could only catch the word 'Absalom': and finally we extricated
ourselves from the cursed thicket barely in time to meet the ladies.
Here were insufferable affronts: greater cannot be imagined: wanton
outrages on two inoffensive men: and for ourselves, who could have
identified and sworn to one of the bushes as an accomplice in _both_
assaults, it was not easy altogether to dismiss the idea of malice. Yet,
because this malice did not organize and concentrate itself in an eye
looking on and genially enjoying our several mortifications, we both
pocketed the affronts. All this we say to show Mr. Bennett how fully we
do justice to his situation, and allow for the irritation natural to
such cases as his, where the loss is clothed with contumely, and the
wrong is barbed by malice. But, for all _that_, we do not think such
confidential communications of ill-usage properly made to the public.

In fact, this querulous temper of expostulation, running through the
book, disfigures its literary aspect. And possibly for our own comfort
we might have turned away from a feature of discontent so gloomy and
painful, were it not that we are thus accidentally recalled to a
grievance in our Eastern administrations upon which we desire to enter a
remark. Life is languid, the blood becomes lazy, at the extremities of
our bodily system, as we ourselves know by dolorous experience under the
complaint of _purpura_; and analogously we find the utility of our
supreme government to droop and languish before it reaches the Indian
world. Hence partly it is (for nearer home we see nothing of the kind),
that foreign adventurers receive far too much encouragement from our
British Satraps in the East. To find themselves within 'the regions of
the morn,' and cheek to cheek with famous Sultans far inferior in power
and substantial splendour, makes our great governors naturally proud.
They are transfigured by necessity; and, losing none of their justice or
integrity, they lose a good deal of their civic humility. In such a
state they become capable of flattery, apt for the stratagems of foreign
adulation. We know not certainly that Mr. Bennett's injuries originated
in that source; though we suspect as much from the significant stories
which he tells of interloping foreigners on the pension list in Ceylon.
But this we _do_ know, that, from impulses easily deciphered, foreigners
creep into favour where an Englishman would not; and why? For two
reasons: 1st, because a foreigner _must_ be what is meant by 'an
adventurer,' and in his necessity he is allowed to find his excuse;
2ndly, because an Englishman, attempting to play the adulatory
character, finds an obstacle to his success in the standard of his own
national manners from which it requires a perpetual effort to wean
himself: whereas the oily and fluent obsequiousness found amongst
Italians and Frenchmen makes the transition to a perfect Phrygian
servility not only more easy to the artist, and less extravagantly
palpable, but more agreeable in the result to his employer. This cannot
be denied, and therefore needs no comment. But, as to the other reason,
viz., that a foreigner _must_ be an adventurer, allow us to explain.
Every man is an adventurer, every man is _in sensu strictissimo_
sometimes a knave.

You might imagine the situation of an adventurer who had figured
virtually in many lives, to resemble that of the late revered Mr. Prig
Bentham, when sitting like a contrite spider at the centre of his
'panopticon'; all the lines, which meet in a point at his seat, radiate
outwards into chambers still widening as they increase their distance.
This _may_ be an image of an adventurer's mind when open to compunction,
but generally it is exactly reversed; he sees the past sections of his
life, however spacious heretofore, crowding up and narrowing into
vanishing points to his immediate eye. And such also they become for the
public. The villain, who walks, like Æneas at Carthage, shrouded in
mist, is as little pursued by any bad report for his forgotten misdeeds
as he is usually by remorse. In the process of losing their relation to
any known and visible person, acts of fraud, robbery, murder, lose all
distinct place in the memory. Such acts are remembered only through
persons. And hence it is that many interesting murders, worthy to become
cabinet gems in a museum of such works, have wasted their sweetness on
the desert air even in our time, for no other reason than that the
parties concerned did not amplify their proportions upon the public eye;
the sufferers were perhaps themselves knaves; and the doers had
retreated from all public knowledge into the mighty crowds of London or

This excursus, on the case of adventurers who run away from their own
crimes into the pathless wildernesses of vast cities, may appear
disproportionate. But excuse it, reader, for the subject is interesting;
and with relation to our Eastern empire it is peculiarly so. Many are
the anecdotes we could tell, derived from Oriental connections, about
foreign scamps who have first exposed the cloven foot when inextricably
connected with political intrigues or commercial interests, or possibly
with domestic and confidential secrets. The dangerousness of their
characters first began to reveal itself after they had become dangerous
by their present position.

Mr. Bennett mentions one lively illustration of this in the case of a
foreigner, who had come immediately from the Cape of Good Hope; so far,
but not farther, he could be traced. And what part had he played at the
Cape? The illustrious one of private sentinel, with a distant prospect
perhaps of rising to be a drum-major. This man--possibly a refugee from
the bagnio at Marseilles, or from the Italian galleys--was soon allowed
to seat himself in an office of £1,000 per annum. For what? For which of
his vices? Our English and Scottish brothers, honourable and educated,
must sacrifice country, compass land and sea, face a life of storms,
with often but a slender chance of any result at all from their pains,
whilst a foreign rascal (without any allegation of merit in his favour)
shall at one bound, by planting his servility in the right quarter and
at the fortunate hour, vault into an income of 25,000 francs per
annum; the money, observe, being national money--yours, ours,
everybody's--since at that period Ceylon did not pay her own expenses.
Now, indeed, she does, and furnishes beside, annually, a surplus of
£50,000 sterling. But still, we contend that places of trust, honour,
and profit, won painfully by British blood, are naturally and rightfully
to be held in trust as reversions for the children of the family. To
return, however, and finish the history of our scamp, it happened that
through the regular action of his office, and in part perhaps through
some irregular influence or consideration with which his station
invested him, he became the depositary of many sums saved laboriously
by poor Ceylonese. These sums he embezzled; or, as a sympathizing
countryman observed of a similar offence in similar circumstances, he
'gave an irregular direction to their appropriation.' You see, he could
not forget his old Marseilles tricks. This, however, was coming it too
strong for his patron, who in spite of his taste for adulation was a
just governor. Our poor friend was summoned most peremptorily to account
for the missing dollars; and because it did not occur to him that he
might plead, as another man from Marseilles in another colony had done,
'that the white ants had eaten the dollars,' he saw no help for it but
to cut his throat, and cut his throat he did. This being done, you may
say that he had given such a receipt as he could, and had entitled
himself to a release. Well, we are not unmerciful; and were the case of
the creditors our own, we should not object. But we remark, besides the
private wrong, a posthumous injury to the British nation which this
foreigner was enabled to commit; and it was twofold: he charged the
pension-list of Ceylon with the support of his widow, in prejudice of
other widows left by our meritorious countrymen, some of whom had died
in battle for the State; and he had attainted, through one generation at
least, the good faith of our nation amongst the poor ignorant
Cinghalese, who cannot be expected to distinguish between true
Englishmen and other Europeans whom English governors may think proper
to exalt in the colony.

Cases such as these, it is well known to the learned in that matter,
have been but too frequent in our Eastern colonies; and we do assert
that any single case of that nature is too much by one. Even where the
question is merely one of courtesy to science or to literature, we
complain heavily, not at all of that courtesy, but that by much too
great a preponderance is allowed to the pretensions of foreigners.
Everybody at Calcutta will recollect the invidious distinctions
(invidious upon contrast) paid by a Governor-General some years ago to a
French _savant_, who came to the East as an itinerant botanist and
geologist on the mission of a Parisian society. The Governor was Lord
William Bentinck. His Excellency was a radical, and, being such, could
swallow 'homage' by the gallon, which homage the Frenchman took care to
administer. In reward he was publicly paraded in the _howdah_ of Lady
William Bentinck, and caressed in a way not witnessed before or since.
Now this Frenchman, after visiting the late king of the Sikhs at Lahore,
and receiving every sort of service and hospitality from the English
through a devious route of seven thousand miles (treatment which in
itself we view with pleasure), finally died of liver complaint through
his own obstinacy. By way of honour to his memory, the record of his
three years' wanderings has been made public. What is the expression of
his gratitude to the English? One service he certainly rendered us: he
disabused, if _that_ were possible, the French of their silly and most
ignorant notions as to our British government in India and Ceylon: he
could do no otherwise, for he had himself been astounded at what he saw
as compared with what he had been taught to expect. Thus far he does us
some justice and therefore some service, urged to it by his bitter
contempt of the French credulity wherever England is slandered. But
otherwise he treats with insolence unbounded all our men of science,
though his own name has made little impression anywhere: and, in his
character of traveller he speaks of himself as of one laying the
foundation-stone of any true knowledge with regard to India. In
particular he dismisses with summary contempt the Travels of Bishop
Heber--not very brilliant perhaps, but undoubtedly superior both in
knowledge and in style to his own. Yet this was the man selected for
_fêting_ by the English Governor-General; as though courtesy to a
Frenchman could not travel on any line which did not pass through a
mortifying slight to Englishmen.


Variation on the opening of 'Coleridge and Opium-eating.'

What is the deadest thing known to philosophers? According to popular
belief, it is a door-nail. For the world says, 'Dead as a door-nail!'
But the world is wrong. Dead may be a door-nail; but deader and most
dead is Gillman's Coleridge. Which fact in Natural History we
demonstrate thus: Up to Waterloo it was the faith of every child that a
sloth took a century for walking across a street. His mother, if she
'knew he was out,' must have had a pretty long spell of uneasiness
before she saw him back again. But Mr. Waterton, Baptist of a new
generation in these mysteries, took that conceit out of Europe: the
sloth, says he, cannot like a snipe or a plover run a race neck and neck
with a first-class railway carriage; but is he, therefore, a slow coach?
By no means: he would go from London to Edinburgh between seedtime and
harvest. Now Gillman's Coleridge, vol. i., has no such speed: it has
taken six years to come up with those whom chiefly it concerned. Some
dozen of us, Blackwood-men and others, are stung furiously in that book
during the early part of 1838; and yet none of us had ever perceived the
nuisance or was aware of the hornet until the wheat-fields of 1844 were
white for the sickle. In August of 1844 we saw Gillman.


The Fathers grant to the Oracles a real power of foresight and prophecy,
but in all cases explain these supernatural functions out of diabolic
inspiration. Van Dale, on the other hand, with all his Vandalish
followers, treats this hypothesis, both as regards the power itself of
looking into the future and as regards the supposed source of that
power, in the light of a contemptible chimera. They discuss it scarcely
with gravity: indeed, the very frontispiece to Van Dale's book already
announces the repulsive spirit of scoffing and mockery in which he means
to dismiss it; men are there represented in the act of juggling and
coarsely exulting over their juggleries by protruding the tongue or
exchanging collusive winks with accomplices. Now, in a grave question
obliquely affecting Christianity and the course of civilization, this
temper of discussion is not becoming, were the result even more
absolutely convincing than it is. Everybody can see at a glance that it
is not this particular agency of evil spirits which Van Dale would have
found so ridiculous, were it not that he had previously addicted himself
to viewing the whole existence of evil spirits as a nursery fable. Now
it is not our intention to enter upon any speculation so mysterious. It
is clear from the first that no man by human researches can any more
add one scintillation of light to the obscure indications of Scripture
upon this dark question, than he can add a cubit to his stature. We do
not know, nor is it possible to know, what is even likely to be the
exact meaning of various Scriptural passages partly, perhaps, adapted to
the erring preconceptions of the Jews; for never let it be forgotten
that upon all questions alike, which concerned no moral interest of man,
all teachers alike who had any heavenly mission, patriarchs or lawgivers
conversing immediately with God, prophets, apostles, or even the Founder
of our religion Himself, never vouchsafe to reveal one ray of
illumination. And to us it seems the strangest oversight amongst all the
oversights of commentators that, in respect to the Jewish errors as to
astronomy, etc., they should not have seen the broad open doctrine which
vindicates the profound Scriptural neglect of errors however gross in
that quality of speculation. The solution of this neglect is not such as
to leave a man under any excuse for apologizing or shuffling. The
solution is technical, precise, and absolute. It is not sufficient to
say, as the best expounders do generally say, that science, that
astronomy for instance, that geology, that physiology, were not the kind
of truth which divine missionaries were sent to teach; that is true, but
is far short of the whole truth. Not only was it negatively no part of
the offices attached to a divine mission that it should extend its
teaching to merely intellectual questions (an argument which still
leaves the student to figure it as a work not indispensable, not
absolutely to be expected, yet in case it _were_ granted as so much of
advantage, as a _lucro ponatur_), but in the most positive and
commanding sense it _was_ the business of revelation to refuse all
light of this kind. According to all the analogies which explain the
meaning of a revelation, it would have been a capital schism in the
counsels of Providence, if in one single instance it had condescended to
gratify human curiosity by anticipation with regard to any subject
whatever, which God had already subjected to human capacity through the
ample faculties of the human intellect.


The evangelist, stepping forward, touched her forehead. 'She is mortal,'
he said; and guessing that she was waiting for some one amongst the
youthful revellers, he groaned heavily; and then, half to himself and
half to _her_, he said, 'O flower too gorgeous, weed too lovely, wert
thou adorned with beauty in such excess, that not Solomon in all his
glory was arrayed like thee, no nor even the lily of the field, only
that thou mightest grieve the Holy Spirit of God?' The woman trembled
exceedingly, and answered, 'Rabbi, what should I do? For, behold! all
men forsake me.'

Brief had been the path, and few the steps, which had hurried her to
destruction. Her father was a prince amongst the princes of Lebanon; but
proud, stern, and inflexible.



[54] 'Against flies'--whence he must have merited the anger of
Beelzebub, whom Syrians held to be the tutelary god of flies; meaning
probably by 'flies' all insects whatever, as the Romans meant by
_passer_ and _passerculus_, all little birds of whatsoever family, and
by _malum_ every fruit that took the shape and size of a ball. How
honoured were the race of flies, to have a deity of the first rank for
their protector, a Cæsar for their enemy! Cæsar made war upon them with
his stylus; he is supposed to have massacred openly, or privately and
basely to have assassinated, more than seven millions of that
unfortunate race, who however lost nothing of that indomitable
pertinacity in retaliating all attacks, which Milton has noticed with
honour in 'Paradise Regained.' In reference to this notorious spirit of
persecution in the last prince of the Flavian house, Suetonius records a
capital repartee: 'Is the Emperor alone?' demanded a courtier. 'Quite
alone.' 'Are you sure? Really now is nobody with him?' Answer: '_Ne
musca quidem._'

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