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´╗┐Title: Literary and Philosophical Essays: French, German and Italian
Author: Sainte-Beuve, Charles Augustin, Mazzini, Giuseppe, Renan, Ernest, Schiller, Friedrich, Montaigne, Michel de, Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim, Kant, Immanuel
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Michel Eyquem De Montaigne, the founder of the modern Essay, was
born February 28, 1533, at the chateau of Montaigne in Pirigord. He
came of a family of wealthy merchants of Bordeaux, and was educated
at the College de Guyenne, where he had among his teachers the great
Scottish Latinist, George Buchanan. Later he studied law, and held
various public offices; but at the age of thirty-eight he retired to
his estates, where he lived apart from the civil wars of the time,
and devoted himself to study and thought. While he was traveling in
Germany and Italy, in 1580-81, he was elected mayor of Bordeaux, and
this office he filled for four years. He married in 1565, and had
six daughters, only one of whom grew up. The first two books of his
"Essays" appeared in 1580; the third in 1588; and four years later
he died.

These are the main external facts of Montaigne's life: of the man
himself the portrait is to be found in his book. "It is myself I
portray," he declares; and there is nowhere in literature a volume
of self-revelation surpassing his in charm and candor. He is frankly
egotistical, yet modest and unpretentious; profoundly wise, yet
constantly protesting his ignorance; learned, yet careless,
forgetful, and inconsistent. His themes are as wide and varied as
his observation of human life, and he has written the finest eulogy
of friendship the world has known. Bacon, who knew his book and
borrowed from it, wrote on the same subject; and the contrast of the
essays is the true reflection of the contrast between the
personalities of their authors.

Shortly after Montaigne's death the "Essays" were translated into
English by John Florio, with less than exact accuracy, but in a
style so full of the flavor of the age that we still read Montaigne
in the version which Shakespeare knew. The group of examples here
printed exhibits the author in a variety of moods, easy, serious,
and, in the essay on "Friendship," as nearly impassioned as his
philosophy ever allowed him to become.

Reader, be here a well-meaning Booke. It doth at the firth entrance
forewarne thee, that in contriving the same I have proposed unto my
selfe no other than a familiar and private end: I have no respect or
consideration at all, either to thy service, or to my glory: my
forces are not capable of any such desseigne. I have vowed the same
to the particular commodity of my kinsfolks and friends: to the end,
that losing me (which they are likely to doe ere long), they may
therein find some lineaments of my conditions and humours, and by
that meanes reserve more whole, and more lively foster the knowledge
and acquaintance they have had of me. Had my intention beene to
forestal and purchase the world's opinion and favour, I would surely
have adorned myselfe more quaintly, or kept a more grave and solemne
march. I desire therein to be delineated in mine owne genuine,
simple and ordinarie fashion, without contention, art or study; for
it is myself e I pourtray. My imperfections shall therein be read to
the life, and my naturall forme discerned, so farre-forth as publike
reverence hath permitted me. For if my fortune had beene to have
lived among those nations which yet are said to live under the sweet
liberty of Nature's first and uncorrupted lawes, I assure thee, I
would most willingly have pourtrayed my selfe fully and naked. Thus,
gentle Reader, myself I am the groundworke of my booke: it is then
no reason thou shouldest employ thy time about so frivolous and
vaine a subject.

Therefore farewell.

  The First of March, 1580.


     scilicet ultima semper
     Expectanda dies homini est, dicique beatus
     Ante obitum nemo, supremaque funera debat.
     [Footnote: Ovid. Met. 1, iii. 135.]

     We must expect of man the latest day,
     Nor ere he die, he's happie, can we say.

The very children are acquainted with the storie of Croesus to this
purpose: who being taken by Cyrus, and by him condemned to die, upon
the point of his execution, cried out aloud: "Oh Solon, Solon!"
which words of his, being reported to Cyrus, who inquiring what he
meant by them, told him, hee now at his owne cost verified the
advertisement Solon had before times given him; which was, that no
man, what cheerefull and blandishing countenance soever fortune
shewed them, may rightly deeme himselfe happie, till such time as he
have passed the last day of his life, by reason of the uncertaintie
and vicissitude of humane things, which by a very light motive, and
slight occasion, are often changed from one to another cleane
contrary state and degree. And therefore Agesilaus answered one that
counted the King of Persia happy, because being very young, he had
gotten the garland of so mightie and great a dominion: "yea but said
he, Priam at the same age was not unhappy." Of the Kings of Macedon
that succeeded Alexander the Great, some were afterward seene to
become Joyners and Scriveners at Rome: and of Tyrants of Sicilie,
Schoolemasters at Corinth. One that had conquered halfe the world,
and been Emperour over so many, Armies, became an humble and
miserable suter to the raskally officers of a king of AEgypte: At so
high a rate did that great Pompey purchase the irkesome prolonging
of his life but for five or six moneths. And in our fathers daies,
Lodowicke Sforze, tenth Duke of Millane, under whom the State of
Italic had so long beene turmoiled and shaken, was seene to die a
wretched prisoner at Loches in France, but not till he had lived and
lingered ten yeares in thraldom, which was the worst of his
bargaine. The fairest Queene, wife to the greatest King of
Christendome, was she not lately scene to die by the hands of an
executioner? Oh unworthie and barbarous cruelties And a thousand
such examples. For, it seemeth that as the sea-billowes and surging
waves, rage and storme against the surly pride and stubborne height
of our buildings, so are there above, certaine spirits that envie
the rising prosperities and greatnesse heere below.

     Vsque adeb res humanas vis abdita quadam
     Obterit, et pulchros fasces sav&sque secures
     Proculcare, ac ludibrio sibi habere videtur.
     [Footnote: LUCRET. I. v. 1243.]

     A hidden power so mens states hath out-worne
     Faire swords, fierce scepters, signes of honours borne,
     It seemes to trample and deride in scorne.

And it seemeth Fortune doth sometimes narrowly watch the last day of
our life, thereby to shew her power, and in one moment to overthrow
what for many yeares together she had been erecting, and makes us
cry after Laberius, Nimirum hoc die una plus vixi, mihi quam
vivendum fuit. [Footnote: MACHOB, 1, ii. 7.] Thus it is, "I have
lived longer by this one day than I should." So may that good advice
of Solon be taken with reason. But forsomuch as he is a Philosopher,
with whom the favours or disfavours of fortune, and good or ill
lucke have no place, and are not regarded by him; and puissances and
greatnesses, and accidents of qualitie, are well-nigh indifferent: I
deeme it very likely he had a further reach, and meant that the same
good fortune of our life, which dependeth of the tranquillitie and
contentment of a welborne minde, and of the resolution and assurance
of a well ordered soule, should never be ascribed unto man, untill
he have beene scene play the last act of his comedie, and without
doubt the hardest. In all the rest there may be some maske: either
these sophisticall discourses of Philosophie are not in us but by
countenance, or accidents that never touch us to the quick, give us
alwaies leasure to keep our countenance setled. But when that last
part of death, and of our selves comes to be acted, then no
dissembling will availe, then is it high time to speake plaine
English, and put off all vizards: then whatsoever the pot containeth
must be shewne, be it good or bad, foule or cleane, wine or water.

      Nam vera voces tum demum pectore ab imo
      Ejiciuntur, et eripitur persona, manet res.
     [Footnote: LUCEET. 1. iii. 57.]

     For then are sent true speeches from the heart,
     We are ourselves, we leave to play a part.

Loe heere, why at this last cast, all our lives other actions must
be tride and touched. It is the master-day, the day that judgeth all
others: it is the day, saith an auncient Writer, that must judge of
all my forepassed yeares. To death doe I referre the essay
[Footnote: Assay, exact weighing.] of my studies fruit. There shall
wee see whether my discourse proceed from my heart, or from my
mouth. I have scene divers, by their death, either in good or evill,
give reputation to all their forepassed life. Scipio, father-in-law
to Pompey, in well dying, repaired the ill opinion which untill that
houre men had ever held of him. Epaminondas being demanded which of
the three he esteemed most, either Chabrias, or Iphicrates, or
himselfe: "It is necessary," said he, "that we be scene to die,
before your question may well be resolved." [Footnote: Answered.]
Verily, we should steale much from him, if he should be weighed
without the honour and greatnesse of his end. God hath willed it, as
he pleased: but in my time three of the most execrable persons that
ever I knew in all abomination of life, and the most infamous, have
beene seen to die very orderly and quietly, and in every
circumstance composed even unto perfection. There are some brave and
fortunate deaths. I have seene her cut the twine of some man's life,
with a progresse of wonderful advancement, and with so worthie an
end, even in the flowre of his growth and spring of his youth, that
in mine opinion, his ambitious and haughtie couragious signes,
thought nothing so high as might interrupt them who without going to
the place where he pretended, arived there more gloriously and
worthily than either his desire or hope aimed at, and by his fall
fore-went the power and name, whither by his course he aspired. When
I judge of other men's lives, I ever respect how they have behaved
themselves in their end; and my chiefest study is, I may well
demeane my selfe at my last gaspe, that is to say, quietly and


Cicero saith, that to Philosophise is no other thing than for a man
to prepare himselfe to death: which is the reason that studie and
contemplation doth in some sort withdraw our soule from us, and
severally employ it from the body, which is a kind of apprentisage
and resemblance of death; or else it is, that all the wisdome and
discourse of the world, doth in the end resolve upon this point, to
teach us not to feare to die. Truly either reason mockes us, or it
only aimeth at our contentment, and in fine, bends all her travell
to make us live well, and as the holy Scripture saith, "at our
ease." All the opinions of the world conclude, that pleasure is our
end, howbeit they take divers meanes unto and for it, else would men
reject them at their first comming. For, who would give eare unto
him, that for it's end would establish our paine and disturbance?
The dissentions of philosophicall sects in this case are verbal:
Transcurramus solertissimas Hugos [Footnote: Travails, labours.]
"Let us run over such over-fine fooleries and subtill trifles."
There is more wilfulnesse and wrangling among them, than pertains to
a sacred profession. But what person a man undertakes to act, he
doth ever therewithal! personate his owne. Allthough they say, that
in vertue it selfe, the last scope of our aime is voluptuousnes. It
pleaseth me to importune their eares still with this word, which so
much offends their hearing. And if it imply any chief pleasure or
exceeding contentments, it is rather due to the assistance of
vertue, than to any other supply, voluptuousnes being more strong,
sinnowie, sturdie, and manly, is but more seriously voluptuous. And
we should give it the name of pleasure, more favorable, sweeter, and
more naturall; and not terme it vigor, from which it hath his
denomination. Should this baser sensuality deserve this faire name,
it should be by competencie, and not by privilege. I finde it lesse
void of incommodities and crosses than vertue. And besides that> her
taste is more fleeting, momentarie, and fading, she hath her fasts,
her eyes, and her travels, and both sweat and blood. Furthermore she
hath particularly so many wounding passions, and of so severall
sorts, and so filthie and loathsome a societie waiting upon her,
that shee is equivalent to penitencie. Wee are in the wrong, to
thinke her incommodities serve her as a provocation and seasoning to
her sweetnes, as in nature one contrarie is vivified by another
contrarie: and to say, when we come to vertue, that like successes
and difficulties overwhelme it, and yeeld it austere and
inaccessible. Whereas much more properly then unto voluptuousnes,
they ennobled, sharpen, animate, and raise that divine and perfect
pleasure, which it meditates and procureth us. Truly he is verie
unworthie her acquaintance, that counter-ballanceth her cost to his
fruit, and knowes neither the graces nor use of it. Those who go
about to instruct us, how her pursuit is very hard and laborious,
and her jovisance [Footnote: Enjoyment] well-pleasing and
delightfull: what else tell they us, but that shee is ever
unpleasant and irksome? For what humane meane [Footnote: Human
meana. man's life is subject, it is not with an equall care: as well
because accidents are not of such a necessitie, for most men passe
their whole life without feeling any want or povertie, and othersome
without feeling any griefe or sicknes, as Xenophilus the Musitian,
who lived an hundred and six yeares in perfect and continuall
health: as also if the worst happen, death may at all times, and
whensoever it shall please us, cut off all other inconveniences and
crosses. But as for death, it is inevitable.] did ever attaine unto
an absolute enjoying of it? The perfectest have beene content but to
aspire and approach her, without ever possessing her. But they are
deceived; seeing that of all the pleasures we know, the pursute of
them is pleasant. The enterprise is perceived by the qualitie of the
thing, which it hath regard unto: for it is a good portion of the
effect, and consubstantiall. That happines and felicitie, which
shineth in vertue, replenisheth her approaches and appurtenances,
even unto, the first entrance and utmost barre. Now of all the
benefits of vertue, the contempt of death is the chiefest, a meane
that furnisheth our life with an ease-full tranquillitie, and gives
us a pure and amiable taste of it: without which every other
voluptuousnes is extinguished. Loe, here the reasons why all rules
encounter and agree with this article. And albeit they all leade us
with a common accord to despise povertie, and other accidental!
crosses, to which

     Omnes eodem cogimur, omnium
     Versatur urna, serius, ocius
     Sors exitura, et nos in aeternum
     Exilium impositura cymbae,
     [Footnote: Hor. I. iii. Od. iii. 25.]

     All to one place are driv'n, of all
     Shak't is the lot-pot, where-hence shall
     Sooner or later drawne lots fall,
     And to deaths boat for aye enthrall.

And by consequence, if she makes us affeard, it is a continual
subject of torment, and which can no way be eased. There is no
starting-hole will hide us from her, she will finde us wheresoever
we are, we may as in a suspected countrie start and turne here and
there: quae quasi saxum Tantalo semper impendet.[Footnote: Cic. De
Fin. I. i.] "Which evermore hangs like the stone over the head of
Tantalus:" Our lawes doe often condemne and send malefactors to be
executed in the same place where the crime was committed: to which
whilest they are going, leade them along the fairest houses, or
entertaine them with the best cheere you can,

     non Siculae dapes Dulcem elaborabunt saporem:
     Non avium, citharaeque cantus
     Somnum reducent.
     [Footnote: Hor. I. iii. Od. i, 12.]

     Not all King Denys daintie fare,
     Can pleasing taste for them prepare:
     No song of birds, no musikes sound
     Can lullabie to sleepe profound.

Doe you thinke they can take any pleasure in it? or be any thing
delighted? and that the finall intent of their voiage being still
before their eies, hath not altered and altogether distracted their
taste from all these commodities and allurements?

     Audit iter, numeratque dies, spatioque viarum
     Metitur vitam, torquetur peste futura.
     [Footnote: Claud, in Ruff. 1. ii. 137]

     He heares his journey, counts his daies, so measures he
     His life by his waies length, vext with the ill shall be.

The end of our cariere is death, it is the necessarie object of our
aime: if it affright us, how is it possible we should step one foot
further without an ague? The remedie of the vulgar sort is, not to
think on it. But from what brutall stupiditie may so grosse a
blindnesse come upon him? he must be made to bridle his Asse by the

     Qiti capite ipse suo instituit vestigia retro.
     [Footnote: Lucret. 1. iv. 474]

     Who doth a course contrarie runne
     With his head to his course begunne.

It is no marvell if he be so often taken tripping; some doe no
sooner heare the name of death spoken of, but they are afraid, yea
the most part will crosse themselves, as if they heard the Devill
named. And because mention is made of it in mens wils and
testaments, I warrant you there is none will set his hand to them,
til the physitian hath given his last doome, and utterly forsaken
him. And God knowes, being then betweene such paine and feare, with
what sound judgment they endure him. For so much as this syllable
sounded so unpleasantly in their eares, and this voice seemed so ill
boding and unluckie, the Romans had learned to allay and dilate the
same by a Periphrasis. In liew of saying, he is dead, or he hath
ended his daies, they would say, he hath lived. So it be life, be it
past or no, they are comforted: from whom we have borrowed our
phrases quondam, alias, or late such a one. It may haply be, as the
common saying is, the time we live is worth the mony we pay for it.
I was borne betweene eleven of the clocke and noone, the last of
Februarie 1533, according to our computation, the yeare beginning
the first of Januarie. It is but a fortnight since I was 39 yeares
old. I want at least as much more. If in the meane time I should
trouble my thoughts with a matter so farre from me, it were but
folly. But what? we see both young and old to leave their life after
one selfe-same condition. No man departs otherwise from it, than if
he but now came to it, seeing there is no man so crazed,[Footnote:
Infirm] bedrell, [Footnote: Bedridden.] or decrepit, so long as he
remembers Methusalem, but thinkes he may yet live twentie yeares.
Moreover, seely [Footnote: Simple, weak.] creature as thou art, who
hath limited the end of thy daies? Happily thou presumest upon
physitians reports. Rather consider the effect and experience. By
the common course of things long since thou livest by extraordinarie
favour. Thou hast alreadie over-past the ordinarie tearmes of common
life: And to prove it, remember but thy acquaintances, and tell me
how many more of them have died before they came to thy age, than
have either attained or outgone the same: yea, and of those that
through renoune have ennobled their life, if thou but register them,
I will lay a wager, I will finde more that have died before they
came to five and thirty years, than after. It is consonant with
reason and pietie, to take example by the humanity of Jesus Christ,
who ended his humane life at three and thirtie yeares. The greatest
man that ever was, being no more than a man, I meane Alexander the
Great, ended his dayes, and died also of that age. How many severall
meanes and waies hath death to surprise us!

     Quid quisque vitet, nunquam homini satis
     Cautum est in horas
     [Footnote: Hor. 1. ii. Od. xiii. 13.]

     A man can never take good heed,
     Hourely what he may shun and speed.

I omit to speak of agues and pleurisies; who would ever have
imagined that a Duke of Brittanie should have beene stifled to death
in a throng of people, as whilome was a neighbour of mine at Lyons,
when Pope Clement made his entrance there? Hast thou not seene one
of our late Kings slaine in the middest of his sports? and one of
his ancestors die miserably by the chocke [Footnote: Shock.] of an
hog? Eschilus fore threatned by the fall of an house, when he stood
most upon his guard, strucken dead by the fall of a tortoise shell,
which fell out of the tallants of an eagle flying in the air? and
another choaked with the kernell of a grape? And an Emperour die by
the scratch of a combe, whilest he was combing his head? And
Aemylius Lepidus with hitting his foot against a doore-seele? And
Aufidius with stumbling against the Consull-chamber doore as he was
going in thereat? And Cornelius Gallus, the Praetor, Tigillinus,
Captaine of the Romane watch, Lodowike, sonne of Guido Gonzaga,
Marquis of Mantua, end their daies betweene womens thighs? And of a
farre worse example Speusippus, the Platonian philosopher, and one
of our Popes? Poore Bebius a Judge, whilest he demurreth the sute of
a plaintife but for eight daies, be hold, his last expired: And
Caius Iulius a Physitian, whilest he was annointing the eies of one
of his patients, to have his owne sight closed for ever by death.
And if amongst these examples, I may adde one of a brother of mine,
called Captain Saint Martin, a man of three and twentie yeares of
age, who had alreadie given good testimonie of his worth and forward
valour, playing at tennis, received a blow with a ball, that hit him
a little above the right eare, without apparance of any contusion,
bruse, or hurt, and never sitting or resting upon it, died within
six houres after of an apoplexie, which the blow of the ball caused
in him. These so frequent and ordinary examples, hapning, and being
still before our eies, how is it possible for man to forgo or for
get the remembrance of death? and why should it not continually
seeme unto us, that shee is still ready at hand to take us by the
throat? What matter is it, will you say unto me, how and in what
manner it is, so long as a man doe not trouble and vex himselfe
therewith? I am of this opinion, that howsoever a man may shrowd or
hide himselfe from her dart, yea, were it under an oxe-hide, I am
not the man would shrinke backe: it sufficeth me to live at my ease;
and the best recreation I can have, that doe I ever take; in other
matters, as little vain glorious, and exemplare as you list.

   --praetulerim delirus inersque videri,
     Dum mea delectent mala me, vel denique fallant,
     Quam sapere et ringi
     [Footnote: Hor. 1. ii. Episi. ii 126]

     A dotard I had rather seeme, and dull,
     Sooner my faults may please make me a gull,
     Than to be wise, and beat my vexed scull.

But it is folly to thinke that way to come unto it. They come, they
goe, they trot, they daunce: but no speech of death. All that is
good sport. But if she be once come, and on a sudden and openly
surprise, either them, their wives, their children, or their
friends, what torments, what out cries, what rage, and what despaire
doth then overwhelme them? saw you ever anything so drooping, so
changed, and so distracted? A man must looke to it, and in better
times fore-see it. And might that brutish carelessenesse lodge in
the minde of a man of understanding (which I find altogether
impossible) she sels us her ware at an overdeere rate: were she an
enemie by mans wit to be avoided, I would advise men to borrow the
weapons of cowardlinesse: but since it may not be, and that be you
either a coward or a runaway, an honest or valiant man, she
overtakes you,

     Nempe et fugacem persequitur virum,
     Nec parcit imbellis juventae
     Poplitibus, timidoque tergo.
     [Footnote: Hor. 1. iii. Od. ii. 14.]

     Shee persecutes the man that flies,
     Shee spares not weake youth to surprise,
     But on their hammes and backe turn'd plies.

And that no temper of cuirace [Footnote: Cuirass.] may shield or
defend you,

     Ille licet ferro cauius se condat et aere,
     Mors tamen inclusum protraket inde caput.
     [Footnote: Propert. 1. iii. et xvii. 5]

     Though he with yron and brasse his head empale,
     Yet death his head enclosed thence will hale.

Let us learne to stand, and combat her with a resolute minde. And
being to take the greatest advantage she hath upon us from her, let
us take a cleane contrary way from the common, let us remove her
strangenesse from her, let us converse, frequent, and acquaint our
selves with her, let us have nothing so much in minde as death, let
us at all times and seasons, and in the ugliest manner that may be,
yea with all faces shapen and represent the same unto our
imagination. At the stumbling of a horse, at the fall of a stone, at
the least prick with a pinne, let us presently ruminate and say with
our selves, what if it were death it selfe? and thereupon let us
take heart of grace, and call our wits together to confront her.
Amiddest our bankets, feasts, and pleasures, let us ever have this
restraint or object before us, that is, the remembrance of our
condition, and let not pleasure so much mislead or transport us,
that we altogether neglect or forget, how many waies, our joyes, or
our feastings, be subject unto death, and by how many hold-fasts
shee threatens us and them. So did the AEgyptians, who in the
middest of their banquetings, and in the full of their greatest
cheere, caused the anatomie [Footnote: Skeleton] of a dead man to be
brought before them, as a memorandum and warning to their guests.

     Omnem crede diem tibi diluxisse supremum,
     Grata superveniet; quae non sperabitur, hora?
     [Footnote: Hor. 1. i. Epist. iv. 13.]

     Thinke every day shines on thee as thy last,
     Welcome it will come, whereof hope was past.

It is uncertaine where death looks for us; let us expect her everie
where: the premeditation of death, is a forethinking of libertie. He
who hath learned to die, hath unlearned to serve. There is no evill
in life, for him that hath well conceived, how the privation of life
is no evill. To know how to die, doth free us from all subjection
and constraint. Paulus AEmilius answered one, whom that miserable
king of Macedon his prisoner sent to entreat him he would not lead
him in triumph, "Let him make that request unto himselfe." Verily,
if Nature afford not some helpe in all things, it is very hard that
art and industrie should goe farre before. Of my selfe, I am not
much given to melancholy, but rather to dreaming and sluggishness.
There is nothing wherewith I have ever more entertained my selfe,
than with the imaginations of death, yea in the most licentious
times of my age.

     Iucundum, cum atas florida ver ageret
     [Footnote: Catul. Eleg. iv. 16.]

     When my age flourishing
     Did spend its pleasant spring.

Being amongst faire Ladies, and in earnest play, some have thought
me busied, or musing with my selfe, how to digest some jealousie, or
meditating on the uncertaintie of some conceived hope, when God he
knowes, I was entertaining my selfe with the remembrance of some one
or other, that but few daies before was taken with a burning fever,
and of his sodaine end, comming from such a feast or meeting where I
was my selfe, and with his head full of idle conceits, of lore, and
merry glee; supposing the same, either sickness or end, to be as
neere me as him.

    Iam fuerit, nec post, unquam revocare licebit.
    [Footnote: Lucr. I. iii. 947.]

    Now time would be, no more You can this time restore.

I did no more trouble my selfe or frowne at such conceit, [Idea.]
than at any other. It is impossible we should not apprehend or feele
some motions or startings at such imaginations at the first, and
comming sodainely upon us; but doubtlesse, he that shall manage and
meditate upon them with an impartiall eye, they will assuredly, in
tract [Course.] of time, become familiar to him: Otherwise, for my
part, I should be in continuall feare and agonie; for no man did
ever more distrust his life, nor make lesse account of his
continuance: Neither can health, which hitherto I have so long
enjoied, and which so seldome hath beene crazed, [Enfeebled.]
lengthen my hopes, nor any sicknesse shorten them of it. At every
minute me thinkes I make an escape. And I uncessantly record unto my
selfe, that whatsoever may be done another day, may be effected this
day. Truly hazards and dangers doe little or nothing approach us at
our end: And if we consider, how many more there remaine, besides
this accident, which in number more than millions seeme to threaten
us, and hang over us; we shall find, that be we sound or sicke,
lustie or weake, at sea or at land, abroad or at home, fighting or
at rest, in the middest of a battell or, in our beds, she is ever
alike neere unto us. Nemo altero fragilior est, nemo in crastinum
sui certior: "No man is weaker then other; none surer of himselfe
(to live) till to morrow." Whatsoever I have to doe before death,
all leasure to end the same seemeth short unto me, yea were it but
of one houre. Some body, not long since turning over my writing
tables, found by chance a memoriall of something I would have done
after my death: I told him (as indeed it was true), that being but a
mile from my house, and in perfect health and lustie, I had made
haste to write it, because I could not assure my self I should ever
come home in safety: As one that am ever hatching of mine owne
thoughts, and place them in my selfe: I am ever prepared about that
which I may be: nor can death (come when she please) put me in mind
of any new thing. A man should ever, as much as in him lieth, be
ready booted to take his journey, and above all things, looke he
have then nothing to doe but with himselfe.

     Quid brevi fortes jaculamur aevo
     [Footnote: Hor. 1. ii. Od. Xiv]

     To aime why are we ever bold,
     At many things in so short hold?

For then we shall have worke sufficient, without any more accrease.
Some man complaineth more that death doth hinder him from the
assured course of an hoped for victorie, than of death it selfe;
another cries out, he should give place to her, before he have
married his daughter, or directed the course of his childrens
bringing up; another bewaileth he must forgoe his wives company;
another moaneth the losse of his children, the chiefest commodities
of his being. I am now by meanes of the mercy of God in such a
taking, that without regret or grieving at any worldly matter, I am
prepared to dislodge, whensoever he shall please to call me: I am
every where free: my farewell is soone taken of all my friends,
except of my selfe. No man did ever pre pare himselfe to quit the
world more simply and fully, or more generally spake of all thoughts
of it, than I am assured I shall doe. The deadest deaths are the

   --Miser, de miser (aiunt) omnia ademit.
     Vna dies infesta mihi tot praemia vitae:
     [Footnote: Luce. 1. iii. 941.]

     O wretch, O wretch (friends cry), one day,
     All joyes of life hath tane away:

And the builder,

   --manent (saith he) opera interrupta,
     minaeque Murorum ingentes.
     [Footnote: Virg. Aen. 1. iv. 88.]

     The workes unfinisht lie,
     And walls that threatned hie.

A man should designe nothing so long afore-hand, or at least with
such an intent, as to passionate[Footnote: Long passionately.]
himselfe to see the end of it; we are all borne to be doing.

     Cum moriar, medium solvar et inter opus
     [Footnote: Ovid. Am. 1. ii. El. x. 36]

     When dying I my selfe shall spend,
     Ere halfe my businesse come to end.

I would have a man to be doing, and to prolong his lives offices as
much as lieth in him, and let death seize upon me whilest I am
setting my cabiges, carelesse of her dart, but more of my unperfect
garden. I saw one die, who being at his last gaspe, uncessantly
complained against his destinie, and that death should so unkindly
cut him off in the middest of an historie which he had in hand, and
was now come to the fifteenth or sixteenth of our Kings.

     Illud in his rebus non addunt, nec tibi earum,
     Iam desiderium rerum super insidet uno.
     [Footnote: Luce. 1. iii. 44.]

     Friends adde not that in this case, now no more
     Shalt thou desire, or want things wisht before.

A man should rid himselfe of these vulgar and hurtful humours. Even
as Churchyards were first place adjoyning unto churches, and in the
most frequented places of the City, to enure (as Lycurgus said) the
common people, women and children, not to be skared at the sight of
a dead man, and to the end that continuall spectacle of bones,
sculs, tombes, graves and burials, should forewarne us of our
condition, and fatall end.

     Quin etiam exhilarare viris convivia caede
     Mos olim, et miscere epulis spectacula dira
     Certantum ferro, saepe et super ipsa cadentum
     Pocula, respersis non parco sanguine mensis.
     [Footnote: Syl. 1. xi. 51]

     Nay more, the manner was to welcome guests,
     And with dire shewes of slaughter to mix feasts.
     Of them that fought at sharpe, and with bords tainted
     Of them with much bloud, who o'er full cups fainted.

And even as the AEgyptians after their feastings and carousings
caused a great image of death to be brought in and shewed to the
guests and bytanders, by one that cried aloud, "Drinke and be merry,
for such shalt thou be when thou art dead: "So have I learned this
custome or lesson, to have alwaies death, not only in my
imagination, but continually in my mouth. And there is nothing I
desire more to be informed of than of the death of men; that is to
say, what words, what countenance, and what face they shew at their
death; and in reading of histories, which I so attentively observe.
It appeareth by the shuffling and hudling up[Footnote: Collecting]
of my examples, I affect[Footnote: Like] no subject so particularly
as this. Were I a composer of books, I would keepe a register,
commented of the divers deaths, which in teaching men to die, should
after teach them to live. Dicearcus made one of that title, but of
another and lesse profitable end. Some man will say to mee, the
effect exceeds the thought so farre, that there is no fence so sure,
or cunning so certaine, but a man shall either lose or forget if he
come once to that point; let them say what they list: to premeditate
on it, giveth no doubt a great advantage: and it is nothing, at the
least, to goe so farre without dismay or alteration, or without an
ague? There belongs more to it: Nature her selfe lends her hand, and
gives us courage. If it be a short and violent death, wee have no
leisure to feare it; if otherwise, I perceive that according as I
engage my selfe in sicknesse, I doe naturally fall into some
disdaine and contempt of life. I finde that I have more adoe to
digest this resolution, that I shall die when I am in health, than I
have when I am troubled with a fever: forsomuch as I have no more
such fast hold on the commodities of life, whereof I begin to lose
the use and pleasure, and view death in the face with a lesse
undanted looke, which makes me hope, that the further I goe from
that, and the nearer I approach to this, so much more easily doe I
enter in composition for their exchange. Even as I have tried in
many other occurrences, which Caesar affirmed, that often some
things seeme greater, being farre from us, than if they bee neere at
hand: I have found that being in perfect health, I have much more
beene frighted with sicknesse, than when I have felt it. The
jollitie wherein I live, the pleasure and the strength make the
other seeme so disproportionable from that, that by imagination I
amplifie these commodities by one moitie, and apprehended them much
more heavie and burthensome, than I feele them when I have them upon
my shoulders. The same I hope will happen to me of death. Consider
we by the ordinary mutations, and daily declinations which we
suffer, how Nature deprives us of the sight of our losse and
empairing; what hath an aged man left him of his youths vigor, and
of his forepast life?

     Heu senibus vita portio quanta manet
     [Footnote: Com. Gal. 1. i. 16.]

     Alas to men in yeares how small
     A part of life is left in all?

Caesar, to a tired and crazed [Footnote: diseased] Souldier of his
guard, who in the open street came to him, to beg leave he might
cause himselfe to be put to death; viewing his decrepit behaviour,
answered pleasantly: "Doest thou thinke to be alive then?" Were man
all at once to fall into it, I doe not thinke we should be able to
beare such a change, but being faire and gently led on by her hand,
in a slow, and as it were unperceived descent, by little and little,
and step by step, she roules us into that miserable state, and day
by day seekes to acquaint us with it. So that when youth failes in
us, we feele, nay we perceive no shaking or transchange at all in
our selves: which in essence and veritie is a harder death, than
that of a languishing and irkesome life, or that of age. Forsomuch
as the leape from an ill being unto a not being, is not so dangerous
or steepie; as it is from a delightfull and flourishing being unto a
painfull and sorrowfull condition. A weake bending, and faint
stopping bodie hath lesse strength to beare and under goe a heavie
burden: So hath our soule. She must bee rouzed and raised against
the violence and force of this adversarie. For as it is impossible
she should take any rest whilest she feareth: whereof if she be
assured (which is a thing exceeding humane [Footnote: human]
condition) she may boast that it is impossible unquietnesse,
torment, and feare, much lesse the least displeasure should lodge in

     Non vultus instantis tyranni
     Mente quatit solida, neque Auster,
     Dux inquieti turbidus Adria,
     Nec fulminantis magna Jovis manus.
     [Footnote: Hor. I. iii. Od. iii.]

     No urging tyrants threatning face,
     Where minde is found can it displace,
     No troublous wind the rough seas Master,
     Nor Joves great hand, the thunder-caster.

She is made Mistris of her passions and concupiscence, Lady of
indulgence, of shame, of povertie, and of all for tunes injuries.
Let him that can, attaine to this advantage: Herein consists the
true and soveraigne liberty, that affords us meanes wherewith to
jeast and make a scorne of force and injustice, and to deride
imprisonment, gives [Footnote: Gyves, shackles] or fetters.

       --in manicis, et
     Compedibus, savo te sub custode tenebo.
     Ipse Deus simui atque volam, me solvet: opinor
     Hoc sentit, moriar. Mors ultima linea rerum est.
     [Footnote: Hor. I. i. Ep. xvi. 76.]

     In gyves and fetters I will hamper thee,
     Under a Jayler that shall cruell be:
     Yet, when I will, God me deliver shall,
     He thinkes, I shall die: death is end of all.

Our religion hath had no surer humane foundation than the contempt
of life. Discourse of reason doth not only call and summon us unto
it. For why should we feare to lose a thing, which being lost,
cannot be moaned? but also, since we are threatened by so many kinds
of death, there is no more inconvenience to feare them all, than to
endure one: what matter is it when it commeth, since it is
unavoidable? Socrates answered one that told him, "The thirty
tyrants have condemned thee to death." "And Nature them," said he.
What fondnesse is it to carke and care so much, at that instant and
passage from all exemption of paine and care? As our birth brought
us the birth of all things, so shall our death the end of all
things. Therefore is it as great follie to weepe, we shall not live
a hundred yeeres hence, as to waile we lived not a hundred yeeres
agoe. "Death is the beginning of another life." So wept we, and so
much did it cost us to enter into this life; and so did we spoile us
of our ancient vaile in entring into it. Nothing can be grievous
that is but once. Is it reason so long to fear a thing of so short
time? Long life or short life is made all one by death. For long or
short is not in things that are no more. Aristotle saith, there are
certaine little beasts alongst the river Hyspanis, that live but one
day; she which dies at 8 o'clocke in the morning, dies in her youth,
and she that dies at 5 in the afternoon, dies in her decrepitude,
who of us doth not laugh, when we shall see this short moment of
continuance to be had in consideration of good or ill fortune? The
most and the least is ours, if we compare it with eternitie, or
equall it to the lasting of mountains, rivers, stars, and trees, or
any other living creature, is not lesse ridiculous. But nature
compels us to it. Depart (saith she) out of this world, even as you
came into it. The same way you came from death to life, returne
without passion or amazement, from life to death: your death is but
a peece of the worlds order, and but a parcell of the worlds life.

   --inter se mortales mutua vivunt,
     Et quasi cursores vitae lampada tradunt.
     [Footnote: Lucret. ii. 74. 77.]

     Mortall men live by mutuall entercourse:
     And yeeld their life-torch, as men in a course.

Shal I not change this goodly contexture of things for you? It is
the condition of your creation: death is a part of yourselves: you
flie from yourselves. The being you enjoy is equally shared betweene
life and death. The first day of your birth doth as wel addresse you
to die, as to live.

     Prima quae vitam dedit, hora, carpsit.
     [Footnote: Sen. Her. Sw. ckor. Iii.]

     The first houre, that to men
     Gave life, strait, cropt it then.

     Nascentes morimur, finisque ab origine pendet:
     [Footnote: Manil. At. l. iv]

     As we are borne we die; the end
     Doth of th' originall depend.

All the time you live, you steale it from death: it is at her
charge. The continuall worke of your life, is to contrive death: you
are in death, during the time you continue in life: for, you are
after death, when you are no longer living. Or if you had rather
have it so, you are dead after life: but during life, you are still
dying: and death doth more rudely touch the dying than the dead, and
more lively and essentially. If you have profited by life, you have
also beene fed thereby, depart then satisfied.

     Cur non ut plenus vitae conviva recedis?
     [Footnote: Lucret. 1. iii. 982.]

     Why like a full-fed guest,
     Depart you not to rest?

If you have not knowne how to make use of it: if it were
unprofitable to you, what need you care to have lost it to what end
would you enjoy it longer?

   --cur amplius addere quaeris
     Rursum quod pereat male,
     et ingratum occidat omne?
     [Footnote: Lucret. 1. iii. 989.]

     Why seeke you more to gaine, what must againe
     All perish ill, and passe with griefe or paine?

Life in itselfe is neither good nor evill: it is the place of good
or evill, according as you prepare it for them. And if you have
lived one day, you have seene all: one day is equal to all other
daies. There is no other light, there is no other night. This Sunne,
this Moone, these Starres, and this disposition, is the very same
which your forefathers enjoyed, and which shall also entertaine your

     Non alium videre patres, aliumve nepotes
     [Footnote: Manil. i. 523.]

     No other saw our Sires of old,
     No other shall their sonnes behold.

And if the worst happen, the distribution and varietie of all the
acts of my comedie, is performed in one yeare. If you have observed
the course of my foure seasons; they containe the infancie, the
youth, the viriltie, and the old age of the world. He hath plaied
his part: he knowes no other wilinesse belonging to it, but to begin
againe, it will ever be the same, and no other.

     Versamur ibidem, atque insumus usque,
     [Footnote: Lucret. 1. iii. 123.]

     We still in one place turne about,
     Still there we are, now in, now out.

     Atque in se sua per vestigia volvitur annus.
     [Footnote: Virg. Georg. 1. ii. 403.]

     The yeare into it selfe is cast
     By those same steps, that it hath past.

I am not purposed to devise you other new sports.

     Nam tibi praterea quod machiner, inveniamque
     Quod placeat nihil est; eadem suni omnia semper.
     [Footnote: Lucret. 1. ii. 978.]

     Else nothing, that I can devise or frame,
     Can please thee, for all things are still the same.

Make roome for others, as others have done for you. Equalitie is the
chiefe ground-worke of equitie, who can complaine to be comprehended
where all are contained? So may you live long enough, you shall
never diminish anything from the time you have to die: it is
bootlesse; so long shall you continue in that state which you feare,
as if you had died, being in your swathing-clothes, and when you
were sucking.

   --licet, quot vis, vivendo vincere secla.
     Mors sterna tamen, nihilominus ilia manebit.
     [Footnote: Ib. 1126.]

     Though yeares you live, as many as you will,
     Death is eternall, death remaineth still.

And I will so please you, that you shall have no discontent.

     In vera nescis nullum fore morte alium te,
     Qui possit vivus tibi te lugere peremptum,
     Stansque jacentem.
     [Footnote: Idt. 1. Iii. 9.]

     Thou know'st not there shall be not other thou,
     When thou art dead indeed, that can tell how
     Alive to waile thee dying, Standing to waile thee lying.

Nor shall you wish for life, which you so much desire

     Nec sibi enim quisquam tum se vitamque requirit,
     [Footnote: ib. 963.]
     Nec desiderium nostri nos afficit ullum.
     [Footnote: Ib. 966.]

     For then none for himselfe or life requires:
     Nor are we of our selves affected with desires.

Death is lesse to be feared than nothing, if there were anything
lesse than nothing.

     --multo mortem minus ad nos esse putandum,
     Si minus esse potest quam quod nihil esse videmus.
     [Footnote: Ib. 970.]

     Death is much less to us, we ought esteeme,
     If lesse may be, than what doth nothing seeme.

Nor alive, nor dead, it doth concern you nothing. Alive because you
are: Dead, because you are no more. Moreover, no man dies before his
houre. The time you leave behinde was no more yours than that which
was before your birth, and concerneth you no more.

     Respice enim quam nil ad nos anteacta vetustas
     Temporis aeterni fuerit.
     [Footnote: Ib. 1016.]

     For marke, how all antiquitie foregone
     Of all time ere we were, to us was none.

Wheresoever your life ended, there is it all. The profit of life
consists not in the space, but rather in the use. Some man hath
lived long, that hath a short life, Follow it whilst you have time.
It consists not in number of yeeres, but in your will, that you have
lived long enough. Did you thinke you should never come to the
place, where you were still going? There is no way but hath an end.
And if company may solace you, doth not the whole world walke the
same path?

   --Omnia te, vita perfuncta, sequentur.
     [Footnote: Ib. 1012.]

     Life past, all things at last
     Shall follow thee as thou hast past.

Doe not all things move as you doe, or keepe your course? Is there
any thing grows not old together with yourselfe? A thousand men, a
thousand beasts, and a thousand other creatures die in the very
instant that you die.

     Nam nox nulla diem, neque noctem aurora sequuta est,
     Que non audierit mistus vagitibus aegris
     Ploratus, mortis comites et funeris atri.
     [Footnote: Id. i. ii. 587.]

     No night ensued day light; no morning followed night,
     Which heard not moaning mixt with sick-mens groaning,
     With deaths and funerals joyned was that moaning.

To what end recoile you from it, if you cannot goe backe. You have
seene many who have found good in death, ending thereby many many
miseries. But have you seene any that hath received hurt thereby?
Therefore it is meere simplicitie to condemne a thing you never
approve, neither by yourselfe nor any other. Why doest thou
complaine of me and of destinie? Doe we offer thee any wrong? is it
for thee to direct us, or for us to governe thee? Although thy age
be not come to her period, thy life is. A little man is a whole man
as well as a great man. Neither men nor their lives are measured by
the Ell. Chiron refused immortalitie, being informed of the
conditions thereof, even by the God of time and of continuance,
Saturne his father. Imagine truly how much an ever-during life would
be lesse tolerable and more painfull to a man, than is the life
which I have given him. Had you not death you would then uncessantly
curse, and cry out against me, that I had deprived you of it. I have
of purpose and unwittingly blended some bitternesse amongst it, that
so seeing the commoditie of its use, I might hinder you from over-
greedily embracing, or indiscreetly calling for it. To continue in
this moderation that is, neither to fly from life nor to run to
death (which I require of you) I have tempered both the one and
other betweene sweetnes and sowrenes. I first taught Thales, the
chiefest of your Sages and Wisemen, that to live and die were
indifferent, which made him answer one very wisely, who asked him
wherefore he died not: "Because," said he, "it is indifferent. The
water, the earth, the aire, the fire, and other members of this my
universe, are no more the instruments of thy life than of thy death.
Why fearest thou thy last day? He is no more guiltie, and conferreth
no more to thy death, than any of the others. It is not the last
step that causeth weariness: it only declares it. All daies march
towards death, only the last comes to it." Behold heere the good
precepts of our universall mother Nature. I have oftentimes
bethought my self whence it proceedeth, that in times of warre, the
visage of death (whether wee see it in us or in others) seemeth
without all comparison much lesse dreadful and terrible unto us,
than in our houses, or in our beds, otherwise it should be an armie
of Physitians and whiners, and she ever being one, there must needs
bee much more assurance amongst countrie-people and of base
condition, than in others. I verily believe, these fearefull lookes,
and astonishing countenances wherewith we encompass it, are those
that more amaze and terrifie us than death: a new forme of life; the
out cries of mothers; the wailing of women and children; the
visitation of dismaid and swouning friends; the assistance of a
number of pale-looking, distracted, and whining servants; a darke
chamber; tapers burning round about; our couch beset round with
Physitians and Preachers; and to conclude, nothing but horror and
astonishment on every side of us: are wee not already dead and
buried? The very children are afraid of their friends, when they see
them masked; and so are we. The maske must as well be taken from
things as from men, which being removed, we shall find nothing hid
under it, but the very same death, that a seely[Footnote: weak,
simple] varlet, or a simple maid-servant, did latterly suffer
without amazement or feare. Happie is that death which takes all
leasure from the preparations of such an equipage.


I never knew father, how crooked and deformed soever his sonne were,
that would either altogether cast him off, or not acknowledge him
for his owne: and yet (unlesse he be meerely besotted or blinded in
his affection) it may not be said, but he plainly perceiveth his
defects, and hath a feeling of his imperfections. But so it is, he
is his owne. So it is in my selfe. I see better than any man else,
that what I have set downe is nought but the fond imaginations of
him who in his youth hath tasted nothing but the paring, and seen
but the superficies of true learning: whereof he hath retained but a
generall and shapelesse forme: a smacke of every thing in generall,
but nothing to the purpose in particular: After the French manner.
To be short, I know there is an art of Phisicke; a course of lawes;
foure parts of the Mathematikes; and I am not altogether ignorant
what they tend unto. And perhaps I also know the scope and drift of
Sciences in generall to be for the service of our life. But to wade
further, or that ever I tired my selfe with plodding upon Aristotle
(the Monarch of our moderne doctrine 1) or obstinately continued in
search of any one science: I confesse I never did it. Nor is there
any one art whereof I am able so much as to draw the first
lineaments. And there is no scholler (be he of the lowest forme)
that may not repute himselfe wiser than I, who am not able to oppose
him in his first lesson: and if I be forced to it, I am constrained
verie impertinently to draw in matter from some generall discourse,
whereby I examine, and give a guesse at his naturall judgement: a
lesson as much unknowne to them as theirs is to me. I have not dealt
or had commerce with any excellent booke, except Plutarke or Seneca,
from whom (as the Danaides) I draw my water, uncessantly filling,
and as fast emptying: some thing whereof I fasten to this paper, but
to my selfe nothing at all. And touching bookes: Historie is my
chiefe studie, Poesie my only delight, to which I am particularly
affected: for as Cleanthes said, that as the voice being forciblie
pent in the narrow gullet of a trumpet, at last issueth forth more
strong and shriller, so me seemes, that a sentence cunningly and
closely couched in measure keeping Posie, darts it selfe forth more
furiously, and wounds me even to the quicke. And concerning the
naturall faculties that are in me (whereof behold here an essay), I
perceive them to faint under their owne burthen; my conceits,
[Footnote: Ideas.] and my judgement march but uncertaine, and as it
were groping, staggering, and stumbling at every rush: And when I
have gone as far as I can, I have no whit pleased my selfe: for the
further I saile the more land I descrie, and that so dimmed with
fogges, and overcast with clouds, that my sight is so weakned, I
cannot distinguish the same. And then undertaking to speake
indifferently of all that presents it selfe unto my fantasie, and
having nothing but mine owne naturall meanes to imploy therein, if
it be my hap (as commonly it is) among good Authors, to light upon
those verie places which I have undertaken to treat off, as even now
I did in Plutarke reading his discourse of the power of imagination,
wherein in regard of those wise men, I acknowledge my selfe so weake
and so poore, so dull and grose-headed, as I am forced both to
pittie and disdaine my selfe, yet am I pleased with this, that my
opinions have often the grace to jump with theirs, and that I follow
them a loofe-off, [Footnote: At a distance.] and thereby possesse at
least, that which all other men have not; which is, that I know the
utmost difference betweene them and my selfe: all which
notwithstanding, I suffer my inventions to run abroad, as weake and
faint as I have produced them, without bungling and botching the
faults which this comparison hath discovered to me in them. A man
had need have a strong backe, to undertake to march foot to foot
with these kind of men. The indiscreet writers of our age, amidst
their triviall [Footnote: Commonplace.] compositions, intermingle
and wrest in whole sentences taken from ancient Authors, supposing
by such filching-theft to purchase honour and reputation to
themselves, doe cleane contrarie. For, this infinite varietie and
dissemblance of lustres, makes a face so wan, so il-favored, and so
uglie, in respect of theirs, that they lose much more than gaine
thereby. These were two contrarie humours: The Philosopher
Chrisippus was wont to foist-in amongst his bookes, not only whole
sentences and other long-long discourses, but whole bookes of other
Authors, as in one, he brought in Euripides his Medea. And
Apollodorus was wont to say of him, that if one should draw from out
his bookes what he had stolne from others, his paper would remaine
blanke. Whereas Epicurus cleane contrarie to him in three hundred
volumes he left behind him, had not made use of one allegation.
[Footnote: Citation.] It was my fortune not long since to light upon
such a place: I had languishingly traced after some French words, so
naked and shallow, and so void either of sense or matter, that at
last I found them to be nought but meere French words; and after a
tedious and wearisome travell, I chanced to stumble upon an high,
rich, and even to the clouds-raised piece, the descent whereof had
it been somewhat more pleasant or easie, or the ascent reaching a
little further, it had been excusable, and to be borne with-all; but
it was such a steepie downe-fall, and by meere strength hewen out of
the maine rocke, that by reading of the first six words, me thought
I was carried into another world: whereby I perceive the bottome
whence I came to be so low and deep, as I durst never more adventure
to go through it; for, if I did stuffe any one of my discourses with
those rich spoiles, it would manifestly cause the sottishnesse
[Footnote: Foolishness.] of others to appeare. To reprove mine owne
faults in others, seemes to me no more unsufferable than to
reprehend (as I doe often) those of others in my selfe. They ought
to be accused every where, and have all places of Sanctuarie taken
from them: yet do I know how over boldly, at all times I adventure
to equall my selfe unto my filchings, and to march hand in hand with
them; not without a fond hardie hope, that I may perhaps be able to
bleare the eyes of the Judges from discerning them. But it is as
much for the benefit of my application, as for the good of mine
invention and force. And I doe not furiously front, and bodie to
bodie wrestle with those old champions: it is but by flights,
advantages, and false offers I seek to come within them, and if I
can, to give them a fall. I do not rashly take them about the necke,
I doe but touch them, nor doe I go so far as by my bargaine I would
seeme to doe; could I but keepe even with them, I should then be an
honest man; for I seeke not to venture on them, but where they are
strongest. To doe as I have seen some, that is, to shroud themselves
under other armes, not daring so much as to show their fingers ends
unarmed, and to botch up all their works (as it is an easie matter
in a common subject, namely for the wiser sort) with ancient
inventions, here and there hudled up together. And in those who
endeavoured to hide what they have filched from others, and make it
their owne, it is first a manifest note of injustice, then a plaine
argument of cowardlinesse; who having nothing of any worth in
themselves to make show of, will yet under the countenance of others
sufficiencie goe about to make a faire offer: Moreover (oh great
foolishnesse) to seek by such cosening [Footnote: Cheating.] tricks
to forestall the ignorant approbation of the common sort, nothing
fearing to discover their ignorance to men of understanding (whose
praise only is of value) who will soone trace out such borrowed
ware. As for me, there is nothing I will doe lesse. I never speake
of others, but that I may the more speake of my selfe. This
concerneth not those mingle-mangles of many kinds of stuffe, or as
the Grecians call them Rapsodies, that for such are published, of
which kind I have (since I came to yeares of discretion) seen divers
most ingenious and wittie; amongst others, one under the name of
Capilupus; besides many of the ancient stampe. These are wits of
such excellence, as both here and elsewhere they will soone be
perceived, as our late famous writer Lipsius, in his learned and
laborious work of the Politikes: yet whatsoever come of it, for so
much as they are but follies, my intent is not to smother them, no
more than a bald and hoarie picture of mine, where a Painter hath
drawne not a perfect visage, but mine owne. For, howsoever, these
are but my humors and opinions, and I deliver them but to show what
my conceit [Footnote: notion] is, and not what ought to be beleeved.
Wherein I ayme at nothing but to display my selfe, who peradventure
(if a new prentiship change me) shall be another to morrow. I have
no authoritie to purchase beliefe, neither do I desire it; knowing
well that I am not sufficiently taught to instruct others. Some
having read my precedent Chapter [Footnote: "Of Pedantism"], told me
not long since in mine owne house, I should somewhat more have
extended my selfe in the discourse concerning the institution of
children. Now (Madam) if there were any sufficiencie in me touching
that subject, I could not better employ the same than to bestow it
as a present upon that little lad, which ere long threatneth to make
a happie issue from out your honorable woombe; for (Madame) you are
too generous to begin with other than a man childe. And having had
so great a part in the conduct of your successeful marriage, I may
challenge some right and interest in the greatnesse and prosperitie
of all that shall proceed from it: moreover, the ancient and
rightfull possession, which you from time to time have ever had, and
still have over my service, urgeth me with more than ordinarie
respects, to wish all honour, well-fare and advantage to whatsoever
may in any sort concerne you and yours. And truly, my meaning is but
to show that the greatest difficultie, and importing all humane
knowledge, seemeth to be in this point, where the nurture and
institution of young children is in question. For, as in matters of
husbandrie, the labor that must be used before sowing, setting, and
planting, yea in planting itselfe, is most certaine and easie. But
when that which was sowen, set and planted, commeth to take life;
before it come to ripenesse, much adoe, and great varietie of
proceeding belongeth to it. So in men, it is no great matter to get
them, but being borne, what continuall cares, what diligent
attendance, what doubts and feares, doe daily wait to their parents
and tutors, before they can be nurtured and brought to any good? The
fore-shew of their inclination whilest they are young is so
uncertaine, their humours so variable, their promises so changing,
their hopes so false, and their proceedings so doubtful, that it is
very hard (yea for the wisest) to ground any certaine judgment, or
assured successe upon them. Behold Cymon, view Themistocles, and a
thousand others, how they have differed, and fallen to better from
themselves, and deceive the expectation of such as knowe them. The
young whelps both of Dogges and Beares at first sight shew their
naturall disposition, but men headlong embracing this custome or
fashion, following that humor or opinion, admitting this or that
passion, allowing of that or this law, are easily changed, and soone
disguised; yet it is hard to force the naturall propension or
readinesse of the mind, whereby it followeth, that for want of
heedie fore-sight in those that could not guide their course well,
they often employ much time in vaine, to addresse young children in
those matters whereunto they are not naturally addicted. All which
difficulties notwithstanding, mine opinion is, to bring them up in
the best and profitablest studies, and that a man should slightly
passe over those fond presages, and deceiving prognostikes, which we
over precisely gather in their infancie. And (without offence be it
said) me thinks that Plato in his "Commonwealth" allowed them too-
too much authoritie.

Madame, Learning joyned with true knowledge is an especiall and
gracefull ornament, and an implement of wonderful use and
consequence, namely, in persons raised to that degree of fortune
wherein you are. And in good truth, learning hath not her owne true
forme, nor can she make shew of her beauteous lineaments, if she
fall into the hands of base and vile persons. [For, as famous
Torquato Tasso saith: "Philosophie being a rich and noble Queene,
and knowing her owne worth, graciously smileth upon and lovingly
embraceth Princes and noble men, if they become suiters to her,
admitting them as her minions, and gently affoording them all the
favours she can; whereas upon the contrarie, if she be wooed, and
sued unto by clownes, mechanicall fellowes, and such base kind of
people, she holds herselfe disparaged and disgraced, as holding no
proportion with them. And therefore see we by experience, that if a
true Gentleman or nobleman follow her with any attention, and woo
her with importunitie, he shall learne and know more of her, and
prove a better scholler in one yeare, than an ungentle or base
fellow shall in seven, though he pursue her never so attentively."]
She is much more readie and fierce to lend her furtherance and
direction in the conduct of a warre, to attempt honourable actions,
to command a people, to treat a peace with a prince of forraine
nation, than she is to forme an argument in Logick, to devise a
Syllogisme, to canvase a case at the barre, or to prescribe a receit
of pills. So (noble Ladie) forsomuch as I cannot perswade myselfe,
that you will either forget or neglect this point, concerning the
institution of yours, especially having tasted the sweetnesse
thereof, and being descended of so noble and learned a race. For we
yet possesse the learned compositions of the ancient and noble
Earles of Foix, from out whose heroicke loynes your husband and you
take your of-spring. And Francis Lord of Candale, your worthie
uncle, doth daily bring forth such fruits thereof, as the knowledge
of the matchlesse qualitie of your house shall hereafter extend
itselfe to many ages; I will therefore make you acquainted with one
conceit of mine, which contrarie to the common use I hold, and that
is all I am able to affoord you concerning that matter. The charge
of the Tutor, which you shall appoint your sonne, in the choice of
whom consisteth the whole substance of his education and bringing
up; on which are many branches depending, which (forasmuch as I can
adde nothing of any moment to it) I will not touch at all. And for
that point, wherein I presume to advise him, he may so far forth
give credit unto it, as he shall see just cause. To a gentleman
borne of noble parentage, and heire of a house that aymeth at true
learning, and in it would be disciplined, not so much for gane or
commoditie to himselfe (because so abject an end is far unworthie
the grace and favour of the Muses, and besides, hath a regard or
dependencie of others) nor for externall shew and ornament, but to
adorne and enrich his inward minde, desiring rather to shape and
institute an able and sufficient man, than a bare learned man; my
desire is therefore, that the parents or overseers of such a
gentleman be very circumspect, and careful in chusing his director,
whom I would rather commend for having a well composed and temperate
braine, than a full stuft head, yet both will doe well. And I would
rather prefer wisdome, judgement, civill customes, and modest
behaviour, than bare and meere literall learning; and that in his
charge he hold a new course. Some never cease brawling in their
schollers eares (as if they were still pouring in a tonell) to
follow their booke, yet is their charge nothing else but to repeat
what hath beene told them before. I would have a tutor to correct
this part, and that at first entrance, according to the capacitie of
the wit he hath in hand, he should begin to make shew of it, making
him to have a smacke of all things, and how to choose and
distinguish them, without helpe of others, sometimes opening him the
way, other times leaving him to open it by himselfe. I would not
have him to invent and speake alone, but suffer his disciple to
speake when his turne commeth. Socrates, and after him Arcesilaus,
made their schollers to speake first, and then would speake
themselves. Obest plerumque iis qui discere volunt, auctoritas eorum
qui docent: [Footnote: CIC. De Nat. 1. i] "Most commonly the
authoritie of them that teach, hinders them that would learne."

It is therefore meet that he make him first trot-on before him,
whereby he may the better judge of his pace, and so guesse how long
he will hold out, that accordingly he may fit his strength; for want
of which proportion we often marre all. And to know how to make a
good choice, and how far forth one may proceed (still keeping a due
measure), is one of the hardest labours I know. It is a signe of a
noble, and effect of an undanted spirit, to know how to second, and
how far forth he shall condescend to his childish proceedings, and
how to guide them. As for myselfe, I can better and with more
strength walke up than downe a hill. Those which, according to our
common fashion, undertake with one selfe-same lesson, and like maner
of education, to direct many spirits of divers formes and different
humours, it is no marvell if among a multitude of children, they
scarce meet with two or three that reap any good fruit by their
discipline, or that come to any perfection. I would not only have
him to demand an accompt of the words contained in his lesson, but
of the sense and substance thereof, and judge of the profit he hath
made of it, not by the testimonie of his memorie, but by the
witnesse of his life. That what he lately learned, he cause him to
set forth and pourtray the same into sundrie shapes, and then to
accommodate it to as many different and severall subjects, whereby
he shal perceive, whether he have yet apprehended the same, and
therein enfeoffed himselfe, [Footnote: Taken possession.] at due
times taking his instruction from the institution given by Plato. It
is a signe of cruditie and indigestion for a man to yeeld up his
meat, even as he swallowed the same; the stomacke hath not wrought
his full operation, unlesse it have changed forme, and altered
fashion of that which was given him to boyle and concoct.

[Wee see men gape after no reputation but learning, and when they
say, such a one is a learned man, they thinke they have said
enough;] Our minde doth move at others pleasure, and tyed and forced
to serve the fantasies of others, being brought under by authoritie,
and forced to stoope to the lure of their bare lesson; wee have
beene so subjected to harpe upon one string, that we have no way
left us to descant upon voluntarie; our vigor and libertie is cleane
extinct. Nunquam tutelae suae fiunt: "They never come to their owne
tuition." It was my hap to bee familiarlie acquainted with an honest
man at Pisa, but such an Aristotelian, as he held this infallible
position; that a conformitie to Aristotles doctrine was the true
touchstone and squire [Footnote: Square.] of all solid imaginations
and perfect veritie; for, whatsoever had no coherencie with it, was
but fond Chimeraes and idle humors; inasmuch as he had knowne all,
seene all, and said all. This proposition of his being somewhat over
amply and injuriously interpreted by some, made him a long time
after to be troubled in the inquisition of Rome. I would have him
make his scholler narrowly to sift all things with discretion, and
harbour nothing in his head by mere authoritie, or upon trust.
Aristotles principles shall be no more axiomes unto him, than the
Stoikes or Epicurians. Let this diversitie of judgements be proposed
unto him, if he can, he shall be able to distinguish the truth from
falsehood, if not, he will remaine doubtful.

     Che non men che saper dubbiar m'aggrata.
     [Footnote: DANTE, Inferno, cant. xi. 93.]

     No lesse it pleaseth me,
     To doubt, than wise to be.

For if by his owne discourse he embrace the opinions of Xenophon or
of Plato, they shall be no longer theirs, but his. He that meerely
followeth another, traceth nothing, and seeketh nothing: Non sumus
sub Rege, sibi quisque se vindicet: [Footnote: SEN. Epist. xxxiii.]
"We are not under a Kings command, every one may challenge himselfe,
for let him at least know that he knoweth." It is requisite he
endevour as much to feed himselfe with their conceits, as labour to
learne their precepts; which, so he know how to applie, let him
hardily forget, where or whence he had them. Truth and reason are
common to all, and are no more proper unto him that spake them
heretofore, then unto him that shall speake them hereafter. And it
is no more according to Platoes opinion than to mine, since both he
and I understand and see alike. The Bees do here and there sucke
this and cull that flower, but afterward they produce the hony,
which is peculiarly their owne, then is it no more Thyme or Majoram.
So of peeces borrowed of others, he may lawfully alter, transforme,
and confound them, to shape out of them a perfect peece of worke,
altogether his owne; alwaies provided his judgement, his travell,
[Footnote: Travail, labor.] studie, and institution tend to nothing,
but to frame the same perfect. Let him hardily conceale where or
whence he hath had any helpe, and make no shew of anything, but of
that which he hath made himselfe. Pirates, pilchers, and borrowers,
make a shew of their purchases and buildings, but not of that which
they have taken from others: you see not the secret fees or bribes
Lawyers take of their Clients, but you shall manifestly discover the
alliances they make, the honours they get for their children, and
the goodly houses they build. No man makes open shew of his receits,
but every one of his gettings. The good that comes of studie (or at
least should come) is to prove better, wiser and honester. It is the
understanding power (said Epicharmus) that seeth and heareth, it is
it that profiteth all and disposeth all, that moveth, swayeth, and
ruleth all: all things else are but blind, senselesse, and without
spirit. And truly in barring him of libertie to doe any thing of
himselfe, we make him thereby more servile and more coward. Who
would ever enquire of his scholler what he thinketh of Rhetorike, of
Grammar, of this or of that sentence of Cicero? Which things
thoroughly fethered (as if they were oracles) are let flie into our
memorie; in which both letters and syllables are substantiall parts
of the subject. To know by roat is no perfect knowledge, but to keep
what one hath committed to his memories charge, is commendable: what
a man directly knoweth, that will he dispose of, without turning
still to his booke or looking to his pattern. A meere bookish
sufficiencie is unpleasant. All I expect of it is an imbellishing of
my actions, and not a foundation of them, according to Platoes mind,
who saith, constancie, faith, and sinceritie are true Philosophie;
as for other Sciences, and tending elsewhere, they are but garish
paintings. I would faine have Paluel or Pompey, those two excellent
dauncers of our time, with all their nimblenesse, teach any man to
doe their loftie tricks and high capers, only with seeing them done,
and without stirring out of his place, as some Pedanticall fellowes
would instruct our minds without moving or putting it in practice.
And glad would I be to find one that would teach us how to manage a
horse, to tosse a pike, to shoot-off a peece, to play upon the lute,
or to warble with the voice, without any exercise, as these kind of
men would teach us to judge, and how to speake well, without any
exercise of speaking or judging. In which kind of life, or as I may
terme it, Prentiship, what action or object soever presents itselfe
into our eies, may serve us in stead of a sufficient booke. A
prettie pranke of a boy, a knavish tricke of a page, a foolish part
of a lackey, an idle tale or any discourse else, spoken either in
jest or earnest, at the table or in companie, are even as new
subjects for us to worke upon: for furtherance whereof, commerce or
common societie among men, visiting of forraine countries, and
observing of strange fashions, are verie necessary, not only to be
able (after the manner of our yong gallants of France) to report how
many paces the Church of Santa Rotonda is in length or breadth, or
what rich garments the curtezan Signora Livia weareth, and the worth
of her hosen; or as some do, nicely to dispute how much longer or
broader the face of Nero is, which they have seene in some old
ruines of Italie, than that which is made for him in other old
monuments else-where. But they should principally observe, and be
able to make certaine relation of the humours and fashions of those
countries they have seene, that they may the better know how to
correct and prepare their wits by those of others. I would therefore
have him begin even from his infancie to travell abroad; and first,
that at one shoot he may hit two markes he should see neighbour-
countries, namely where languages are most different from ours; for,
unlesse a mans tongue be fashioned unto them in his youth, he shall
never attaine to the true pronunciation of them if he once grow in
yeares. Moreover, we see it received as a common opinion of the
wiser sort, that it agreeth not with reason, that a childe be
alwaies nuzzled, cockered, dandled, and brought up in his parents
lap or sight; forsomuch as their naturall kindnesse, or (as I may
call it) tender fondnesse, causeth often, even the wisest to prove
so idle, so over-nice, and so base-minded. For parents are not
capable, neither can they find in their hearts to see them checkt,
corrected, or chastised, nor indure to see them brought up so
meanly, and so far from daintinesse, and many times so dangerously,
as they must needs be. And it would grieve them to see their
children come home from those exercises, that a Gentleman must
necessarily acquaint himselfe with, sometimes all wet and bemyred,
other times sweatie and full of dust, and to drinke being either
extreme hot or exceeding cold; and it would trouble them to see him
ride a rough-untamed horse, or with his weapon furiously incounter a
skilful Fencer, or to handle or shoot-off a musket; against which
there is no remedy, if he will make him prove a sufficient,
compleat, or honest man: he must not be spared in his youth; and it
will come to passe, that he shall many times have occasion and be
forced to shocke the rules of Physicke.

     Vitamque sub dio et trepidis agat
     In rebus.
     [Footnote: Hor. I. i. Od. ii. 4.]

     Leade he his life in open aire,
     And in affaires full of despaire.

It is not sufficient to make his minde strong, his muskles must also
be strengthened: the mind is over-borne if it be not seconded: and
it is too much for her alone to discharge two offices. I have a
feeling how mine panteth, being joyned to so tender and sensible
[Footnote: Sensitive.] a bodie, and that lieth so heavie upon it And
in my lecture, I often perceive how my Authors in their writings
sometimes commend examples for magnanimitie and force, that rather
proceed from a thicke skin and hardnes of the bones. I have knowne
men, women and children borne of so hard a constitution, that a blow
with a cudgell would lesse hurt them, than a filip would doe me, and
so dull and blockish, that they will neither stir tongue nor
eyebrowes, beat them never so much. When wrestlers goe about to
counterfeit the Philosophers patience, they rather shew the vigor of
their sinnewes than of their heart. For the custome to beare
travell, is to tolerate griefe: Labor callum obducit dolori.
[Footnote: Cic. Tusc. Qu. I. ii.] "Labour worketh a hardnesse upon
sorrow." Hee must be enured to suffer the paine and hardnesse of
exercises, that so he may be induced to endure the paine of the
colicke, of cauterie, of fals, of sprains, and other diseases
incident to mans bodie: yea, if need require, patiently to beare
imprisonment and other tortures, by which sufferance he shall come
to be had in more esteeme and accompt: for according to time and
place, the good as well as the bad man may haply fall into them; we
have seen it by experience. Whosoever striveth against the lawes,
threats good men with mischiefe and extortion. Moreover, the
authoritie of the Tutor (who should be soveraigne over him) is by
the cockering and presence of the parents, hindred and interrupted:
besides the awe and respect which the houshold beares him, and the
knowledge of the meane, possibilities, and greatnesse of his house,
are in my judgement no small lets [Footnote: Hindrances.]in a young
Gentleman. In this schoole of commerce, and societie among men, I
have often noted this vice, that in lieu of taking acquaintance of
others, we only endevour to make our selves knowne to them: and we
are more ready to utter such merchandize as we have, than to
ingrosse and purchase new commodities. Silence and modestie are
qualities very convenient to civil conversation. It is also
necessary that a young man be rather taught to be discreetly-sparing
and close-handed, than prodigally-wastfull and lavish in his
expences, and moderate in husbanding his wealth when he shall come
to possesse it. And not to take pepper in the nose for every foolish
tale that shall be spoken in his presence, because it is an uncivil
importunity to contradict whatsoever is not agreeing to our humour:
let him be pleased to correct himselfe. And let him not seeme to
blame that in others which he refuseth to doe himselfe, nor goe
about to withstand common fashions, Licet sapere sine pompa, sine
invidia: [Footnote: SEN. Epist. ciii. f.] "A man may bee wise
without ostentation, without envie." Let him avoid those imperious
images of the world, those uncivil behaviours and childish ambition
wherewith, God wot, too-too many are possest: that is, to make a
faire shew of that which is not in him: endevouring to be reputed
other than indeed he is; and as if reprehension and new devices were
hard to come by, he would by that meane acquire into himselfe the
name of some peculiar vertue. As it pertaineth but to great Poets to
use the libertie of arts; so is it tolerable but in noble minds and
great spirits to have a preheminence above ordinarie fashions. Si
quid Socrates et Aristippus contra morem et consuetudinem fecerunt,
idem sibi ne arbitretur licere: Magis enim illi et divinis bonis
hanc licentiam assequebantur: [Footnote: CIC. Off. 1. i.] "If
Socrates and Aristippus have done ought against custome or good
manner, let not a man thinke he may doe the same: for they obtained
this licence by their great and excellent good parts:" He shall be
taught not to enter rashly into discourse or contesting, but when he
shall encounter with a Champion worthie his strength; And then would
I not have him imploy all the tricks that may fit his turne, but
only such as may stand him in most stead. That he be taught to be
curious in making choice of his reasons, loving pertinency, and by
consequence brevitie. That above all, he be instructed to yeeld, yea
to quit his weapons unto truth, as soone as he shall discerne the
same, whether it proceed from his adversarie, or upon better advice
from himselfe; for he shall not be preferred to any place of
eminencie above others, for repeating of a prescript [Footnote:
Fixed beforehand.] part; and he is not engaged to defend any cause,
further than he may approove it; nor shall he bee of that trade
where the libertie for a man to repent and re-advise himselfe is
sold for readie money, Neque, ut omnia, que praescripta et imperata
sint, defendat, necessitate ulla cogitur: [Footnote: CIC. Acad. Qu.
I. iv.] "Nor is he inforced by any necessitie to defend and make
good all that is prescribed and commanded him." If his tutor agree
with my humour, he shall frame his affection to be a most loyall and
true subject to his Prince, and a most affectionate and couragious
Gentleman in al that may concerne the honor of his Soveraigne or the
good of his countrie, and endevour to suppresse in him all manner of
affection to undertake any action Otherwise than for a publike good
and dutie. Besides many inconveniences, which greatly prejudice our
libertie by reason of these particular bonds, the judgment of a man
that is waged and bought, either it is lesse free and honest, or
else it is blemisht with oversight and ingratitude. A meere and
precise Courtier can neither have law nor will to speake or thinke
otherwise than favourablie of his Master, who among so many
thousands of his subjects hath made choice of him alone, to
institute and bring him up with his owne hand. These favours, with
the commodities that follow minion [Footnote: Favorite.] Courtiers,
corrupt (not without some colour of reason) his libertie, and dazle
his judgement. It is therefore commonly scene that the Courtiers-
language differs from other mens, in the same state, and to be of no
great credit in such matters. Let therefore his conscience and
vertue shine in his speech, and reason be his chiefe direction, Let
him be taught to confesse such faults as he shall discover in his
owne discourses, albeit none other perceive them but himselfe; for
it is an evident shew of judgement, and effect of sinceritie, which
are the chiefest qualities he aymeth at. That wilfully to strive,
and obstinately to contest in words, are common qualities, most
apparent in basest mindes: That to readvise and correct himselfe,
and when one is most earnest, to leave an ill opinion, are rare,
noble, and Philosophicall conditions. Being in companie, he shall be
put in minde, to cast his eyes round about, and every where: For I
note, that the chiefe places are usually seezed upon by the most
unworthie and lesse capable; and that height of fortune is seldome
joyned with sufficiencie. I have scene that whilst they at the upper
end of a board were busie entertaining themselves with talking of
the beautie of the hangings about a chamber, or of the taste of some
good cup of wine, many good discourses at the lower end have utterly
been lost. He shall weigh the carriage of every man in his calling,
a Heardsman, a Mason, a Stranger, or a Traveller; all must be
imployed; every one according to his worth; for all helps to make up
houshold; yea, the follie and the simplicitie of others shall be as
instructions to him. By controlling the graces and manners of
others, he shall acquire unto himselfe envie of the good and
contempt of the bad. Let him hardly be possest with an honest
curiositie to search out the nature and causes of all things: let
him survay whatsoever is rare and singular about him; a building, a
fountaine, a man, a place where any battell hath been fought, or the
passages of Caesar or Charlemaine.

     Quae tellus sit lenta gelu, qua putris ab aestu,
     Ventus in Italiam quis bene vela ferat.
     [Footnote: Prop. 1. iv. El. iii. 39.]

     What land is parcht with heat, what clog'd with frost.
     What wind drives kindly to th' Italian coast.

He shall endevour to be familiarly acquainted with the customes,
with the meanes, with the state, with the dependances and alliances
of all Princes; they are things soone and pleasant to be learned,
and most profitable to be knowne. In this acquaintance of men, my
intending is, that hee chiefely comprehend them, that live but by
the memorie of bookes. He shall, by the help of Histories, in forme
himselfe of the worthiest minds that were in the best ages. It is a
frivolous studie, if a man list, but of unvaluable worth to such as
can make use of it, and as Plato saith, the only studie the
Lacedemonians reserved for themselves. What profit shall he not
reap, touching this point, reading the lives of our Plutark? Alwayes
conditioned, the master bethinke himselfe whereto his charge
tendeth, and that he imprint not so much in his schollers mind the
date of the ruine of Carthage, as the manners of Hanniball and
Scipio, nor so much where Marcellus died, as because he was unworthy
of his devoire [Footnote: Task.] he died there: that he teach him
not so much to know Histories as to judge of them. It is amongst
things that best agree with my humour, the subject to which our
spirits doe most diversly applie themselves. I have read in Titus
Livius a number of things, which peradventure others never read, in
whom Plutarke haply read a hundred more than ever I could read, and
which perhaps the author himselfe did never intend to set downe. To
some kind of men it is a meere gramaticali studie, but to others a
perfect anatomie [Footnote: Dissection, analytical exposition.] of
Philosophie; by meanes whereof the secretest part of our nature is
searched into. There are in Plutarke many ample discourses most
worthy to be knowne: for in my judgement, he is the chiefe work-
master of such works, whereof there are a thousand, whereat he hath
but slightly glanced; for with his finger he doth but point us out a
way to walke in, if we list; and is sometimes pleased to give but a
touch at the quickest and maine point of a discourse, from whence
they are by diligent studie to be drawne, and so brought into open
market. As that saying of his, That the inhabitants of Asia served
but one alone, because they could not pronounce one onely syllable,
which is Non, gave perhaps both subject and occasion to my friend
Boetie to compose his booke of voluntarie servitude. If it were no
more but to see Plutarke wrest a slight action to mans life, or a
word that seemeth to beare no such sence, it will serve for a whole
discourse. It is pittie men of understanding should so much love
brevitie; without doubt their reputation is thereby better, but we
the worse. Plutarke had rather we should commend him for his
judgement than for his knowledge, he loveth better to leave a kind
of longing-desire in us of him, than a satietie. He knew verie well
that even in good things too much may be said: and that Alexandridas
did justly reprove him who spake verie good sentences to the
Ephores, but they were over tedious. Oh stranger, quoth he, thou
speakest what thou oughtest, otherwise then [Footnote: Than.] thou
shouldest. Those that have leane and thin bodies stuffe them up with
bumbasting. [Footnote: Padding.] And such as have but poore matter,
will puffe it up with loftie words. There is a marvelous
cleerenesse, or as I may terme it an enlightning of mans judgement
drawne from the commerce of men, and by frequenting abroad in the
world; we are all so contrived and compact in our selves, that our
sight is made shorter by the length of our nose. When Socrates was
demaunded whence he was, he answered, not of Athens, but of the
world; for he, who had his imagination more full and farther
stretching, embraced all the world for his native Citie, and
extended his acquaintance, his societie, and affections to all man-
kind: and not as we do, that looke no further than our feet. If the
frost chance to nip the vines about my village, my Priest doth
presently argue that the wrath of God hangs over our head, and
threatneth all mankind: and judgeth that the Pippe [Footnote: A
disease.] is alreadie falne upon the Canibals.

In viewing these intestine and civill broiles of ours, who doth not
exclaime, that this worlds vast frame is neere unto a dissolution,
and that the day of judgement is readie to fall on us? never
remembering that many worse revolutions have been seene, and that
whilest we are plunged in griefe, and overwhelmed in sorrow, a
thousand other parts of the world besides are blessed with
happinesse, and wallow in pleasures, and never thinke on us?
whereas, when I behold our lives, our licence, and impunitie, I
wonder to see them so milde and easie. He on whose head it haileth,
thinks all the Hemispheare besides to be in a storme and tempest.
And as that dull-pated Savoyard said, that if the seelie [Footnote
31: Simple.] King of France could cunningly have managed his
fortune, he might verie well have made himselfe chiefe Steward of
his Lords household, whose imagination conceived no other greatnesse
than his Masters; we are all insensible of this kind of errour: an
errour of great consequence and prejudice. But whosoever shall
present unto his inward eyes, as it were in a Table, the Idea of the
great image of our universall mother Nature, attired in her richest
robes, sitting in the throne of her Majestic, and in her visage
shall read so generall and so constant a varietie; he that therein
shall view himselfe, not himselfe alone, but a whole Kingdome, to be
in respect of a great circle but the smallest point that can be
imagined, he onely can value things according to their essentiall
greatnesse and proportion. This great universe (which some multiplie
as Species under one Genus) is the true looking-glasse wherein we
must looke, if we will know whether we be of a good stamp or in the
right byase. To conclude, I would have this worlds-frame to be my
Schollers choise-booke. [Footnote: Book of examples] So many strange
humours, sundrie sects, varying judgements, diverse opinions,
different lawes, and fantasticall customes teach us to judge rightly
of ours, and instruct our judgement to acknowledge his imperfections
and naturall weaknesse, which is no easie an apprentiship: So many
innovations of estates, so many fals of Princes, and changes of
publike fortune, may and ought to teach us, not to make so great
accompt of ours: So many names, so many victories, and so many
conquests buried in darke oblivion, makes the hope to perpetuate our
names but ridiculous, by the surprising of ten Argo-lettiers,
[Footnote: Mounted Bowmen.] or of a small cottage, which is knowne
but by his fall. The pride and fiercenesse of so many strange and
gorgeous shewes: the pride-puft majestie of so many courts, and of
their greatnesse, ought to confirme and assure our sight,
undauntedly to beare the affronts and thunder-claps of ours, without
feeling our eyes: So many thousands of men, lowlaide in their graves
afore us, may encourage us not to feare, or be dismaied to go meet
so good companie in the other world, and so of all things else. Our
life (said Pithagoras) drawes neare unto the great and populous
assemblies of the Olympike games, wherein some, to get the glorie
and to win the goale of the games, exercise their bodies with all
industrie; others, for greedinesse of gaine, bring thither
marchandise to sell: others there are (and those be not the worst)
that seek after no other good, but to marke how wherefore, and to
what end, all things are done: and to be spectators or observers of
other mens lives and actions, that so they may the better judge and
direct their owne. Unto examples may all the most profitable
Discourses of Philosophic be sorted, which ought to be the touch-
stone of human actions, and a rule to square them by, to whom may be

    ---quid fas optare, quid asper
     Vtile nummus habet, patriae charisque propinquis
     Quantum elargiri deceat, quem te Deus esse
     lussit, et humana qua parte locaius es in re.
     [Footnote: Pers. Sat. iii. 69.]
     Quid sumus, aut quidnam victuri gignimur.
     [Footnote: Ib. 67.]

     What thou maiest wish, what profit may come cleare,
     From new-stampt coyne, to friends and countrie deare
     What thou ought'st give: whom God would have thee bee,
     And in what part mongst men he placed thee.
     What we are, and wherefore,
     To live heer we were bore.

What it is to know, and not to know (which ought to be the scope of
studie), what valour, what temperance, and what justice is: what
difference there is betweene ambition and avarice, bondage and
freedome, subjection and libertie, by which markes a man may
distinguish true and perfect contentment, and how far-forth one
ought to feare or apprehend death, griefe, or shame.

     Et quo quemque modo fugiatque. feratque laborem.
     [Footnote: Virg. Aen. 1. iii. 853.]

     How ev'ry labour he may plie,
     And beare, or ev'ry labour flie.

What wards or springs move us, and the causes of so many motions in
us: For me seemeth, that the first discourses, wherewith his conceit
should be sprinkled, ought to be those that rule his manners and
direct his sense; which will both teach him to know himselfe, and
how to live and how to die well. Among the liberall Sciences, let us
begin with that which makes us free: Indeed, they may all, in some
sort stead us, as an instruction to our life, and use of it, as all
other things else serve the same to some purpose or other. But let
us make especiall choice of that which may directly and pertinently
serve the same. If we could restraine and adapt the appurtenances of
our life to their right byase and naturall limits, we should find
the best part of the Sciences that now are in use, cleane out of
fashion with us: yea, and in those that are most in use, there are
certaine by-wayes and deep-flows most profitable, which we should do
well to leave, and according to the institution of Socrates, limit
the course of our studies in those where profit is wanting.

                    ----sapere aude,
     Incipe: vivendi qui recte prorogat horam,
     Rusticus expectat dum defluat amnis, at ille
     Labitur, et labetur in omne volubilis avum.
     [Footnote: Hor. I. i. Epist. ii. 40.]

     Be bold to be wise: to begin, be strong,
     He that to live well doth the time prolong,
     Clowne-like expects, till downe the streame be run,
     That runs, and will run, till the world be done.

It is mere simplicitie to teach our children,

     Quid moveant Pisces, animosaque signa Leonis,
     Lotus et Hesperia quid Capricornus aqua.
     [Footnote: Prop. I. El. i. 85.]
     What Pisces move, or hot breath'd Leos beames,
     Or Capricornus bath'd in western streames,

the knowledge of the starres, and the motion of the eighth spheare,
before their owne;
     [Greek text quote omited]
     [Footnote: Anacr. Od. xvii. 10, 12.]

     What longs it to the seaven stars, and me,
     Or those about Bootes be.

Anaximenes writing to Pythagoras, saith, "With what sense can I
amuse my selfe in the secrets of the Starres, having continually
death or bondage before mine eyes?" For at that time the Kings of
Persia were making preparations to war against his Countrie. All men
ought to say so: Being beaten with ambition, with avarice, with
rashnesse, and with superstition, and having such other enemies unto
life within him. Wherefore shall I study and take care about the
mobility and variation of the world? When hee is once taught what is
fit to make him better and wiser, he shall be entertained with
Logicke, naturall Philosophy, Geometry, and Rhetoricke, then having
setled his judgement, looke what science he doth most addict
himselfe unto, he shall in short time attaine to the perfection of
it. His lecture shall be somtimes by way of talke and sometimes by
booke: his tutor may now and then supply him with the same Author,
as an end and motive of his institution: sometimes giving him the
pith and substance of it ready chewed. And if of himselfe he be not
so throughly acquainted with bookes, that hee may readily find so
many notable discourses as are in them to effect his purpose, it
shall not be amisse that some learned man bee appointed to keepe
him, company, who at any time of need may furnish him with such
munition as hee shall stand in need of; that hee may afterward
distribute and dispense them to his best use. And that this kind of
lesson be more easie and naturall than that of Gaza, who will make
question? Those are but harsh, thornie, and unpleasant precepts;
vaine, idle and immaterial words, on which small hold may be taken;
wherein is nothing to quicken the minde. In this the spirit findeth
substance to bide and feed upon. A fruit without all comparison much
better, and that will soone be ripe. It is a thing worthy
consideration, to see what state things are brought unto in this our
age; and how Philosophie, even to the wisest, and men of best
understanding, is but an idle, vaine and fantasticall name, of small
use and lesse worth, both in opinion and effect. I thinke these
Sophistries are the cause of it, which have forestalled the wayes to
come unto it: They doe very ill that goe about to make it seeme as
it were inaccessible for children to come unto, setting it foorth
with a wrimpled [Footnote: wrinkled.] gastlie, and frowning visage;
who hath masked her with so counterfet, pale, and hideous a
countenance? There is nothing more beauteous, nothing more
delightful, nothing more gamesome; and as I may say, nothing more
fondly wanton: for she presenteth nothing to our eyes, and preacheth
nothing to our eares, but sport and pastime. A sad and lowring looke
plainly declareth that that is not her haunt. Demetrius the
Gramarian, finding a companie of Philosophers sitting close together
in the Temple of Delphos, said unto them, "Either I am deceived, or
by your plausible and pleasant lookes, you are not in any serious
and earnest discourse amongst your selves;" to whom one of them,
named Heracleon the Megarian, answered, "That belongeth to them, who
busie themselves in seeking whether the future tense of the verbe
___, hath a double, or that labour to find the derivation of the
comparatives, [omitted] and of the superlatives [omitted], it is
they that must chafe in intertaining themselves with their science:
as for discourses of Philosophie they are wont to glad, rejoyce, and
not to vex and molest those that use them."

     Deprendas animi tormenta latentis in agro
     Corpore, deprendas et gaudia; sumit utrumque
     Inde habitum facies.
     [Footnote: Juven, SAT. ix, 18]

     You may perceive the torments of the mind,
     Hid in sicke bodie, you the joyes may find;
     The face such habit takes in either kind.

That mind which harboureth Philosophie, ought by reason of her sound
health, make that bodie also sound and healthie: it ought to make
her contentment to through-shine in all exteriour parts: it ought to
shapen and modell all outward demeanours to the modell of it: and by
consequence arme him that doth possesse it, with a gracious
stoutnesse and lively audacite, with an active and pleasing gesture,
and with a setled and cheerefull countenance. The most evident token
and apparant signe of true wisdome is a constant and unconstrained
rejoycing, whose estate is like unto all things above the Moone,
that is ever cleare, alwaies bright. It is Baroco [Footnote:
Mnemonic words invented by the scholastic logicians] and Baralipton
[Footnote: Mnemonic words invented by the scholastic logicians],
that makes their followers prove so base and idle, and not
Philosophie; they know her not but by heare-say; what? Is it not
shee that cleereth all stormes of the mind? And teacheth miserie,
famine, and sicknesse to laugh? Not by reason of some imaginarie
Epicicles [Footnote: A term of the old astronomy.], but by naturall
and palpable reasons. Shee aymeth at nothing but vertue; it is
vertue shee seekes after; which as the schoole saith, is not pitcht
on the top of an high, steepie, or inaccessible hill; for they that
have come unto her, affirme that cleane-contrarie shee keeps her
stand, and holds her mansion in a faire, flourishing, and pleasant
plaine, whence as from an high watch tower, she survaieth all
things, to be subject unto her, to whom any man may with great
facilitie come, if he but know the way or entrance to her palace:
for, the pathes that lead unto her are certaine fresh and shadie
greene allies, sweet and flowrie waies, whose ascent is even, easie,
and nothing wearisome, like unto that of heavens vaults. Forsomuch
as they have not frequented this vertue, who gloriously, as in a
throne of Majestie sits soveraigne, goodly, triumphant, lovely,
equally delicious, and couragious, protesting her selfe to be a
professed and irreconcileable enemie to all sharpnesse, austeritie,
feare, and compulsion; having nature for her guide, fortune and
voluptuousnesse for her companions; they according to their
weaknesse have imaginarily fained her, to have a foolish, sad, grim,
quarelous, spitefull, threatning, and disdainfull visage, with an
horride and unpleasant looke; and have placed her upon a craggie,
sharpe, and unfrequented rocke, amidst desert cliffes and uncouth
crags, as a scar-crow, or bugbeare, to affright the common people
with. Now the tutour, which ought to know that he should rather seek
to fill the mind and store the will of his disciple, as much, or
rather more, with love and affection, than with awe, and reverence
unto vertue, may shew and tell him, that Poets follow common
humours, making him plainly to perceive, and as it were palpably to
feele, that the Gods have rather placed labour and sweat at the
entrances which lead to Venus chambers, than at the doores that
direct to Pallas cabinets.

And when he shall perceive his scholler to have a sensible feeling
of himselfe, presenting Bradamant [Footnote: A warlike heroine in
Boiardo's "Orlando Innamorato" and Ariosto's "Orlando Furioso."] or
Angelica [Footnote: The faithless princess, on account of whom
Orlando goes mad, in the same poems.] before him, as a Mistresse to
enjoy, embelished with a naturall, active, generous, and unspotted
beautie not uglie or Giant-like, but blithe and livelie, in respect
of a wanton, soft, affected, and artificiall-flaring beautie; the
one attired like unto a young man, coyfed with a bright-shining
helmet, the other disguised and drest about the head like unto an
impudent harlot, with embroyderies, frizelings, and carcanets of
pearles: he will no doubt deeme his owne love to be a man and no
woman, if in his choice he differ from that effeminate shepheard of
Phrygia. In this new kind of lesson he shall declare unto him, that
the prize, the glorie, and height of true vertue, consisted in the
facilitie, profit, and pleasure of his exercises: so far from
difficultie and incumbrances, that children as well as men, the
simple as soone as the wise, may come unto her. Discretion and
temperance, not force or way-wardnesse are the instruments to bring
him unto her. Socrates (vertues chiefe favorite) that he might the
better walke in the pleasant, naturall, and open path of her
progresses, doth voluntarily and in good, earnest, quit all
compulsion. Shee is the nurse and foster-mother of all humane
[Footnote: Human.] pleasures, who in making them just and upright,
she also makes them sure and sincere. By moderating them, she
keepeth them in ure [Footnote: Practice.] and breath. In limiting
and cutting them off, whom she refuseth; she whets us on toward
those she leaveth unto us; and plenteously leaves us them, which
Nature pleaseth, and like a kind mother giveth us over unto
satietie, if not unto wearisomnesse, unlesse we will peradventure
say that the rule and bridle, which stayeth the drunkard before
drunkennesse, the glutton before surfetting, and the letcher before
the losing of his haire, be the enemies of our pleasures. If common
fortune faile her, it cleerely scapes her; or she cares not for her,
or she frames another unto herselfe, altogether her owne, not so
fleeting nor so rowling. She knoweth the way how to be rich, mightie
and wise, and how to lie in sweet-perfumed beds. She loveth life;
she delights in beautie, in glorie, and in health. But her proper
and particular office is, first to know how to use such goods
temperately, and how to lose them constantly. An office much more
noble than severe, without which all course of life is unnaturall,
turbulent, and deformed, to which one may lawfully joyne those
rocks, those incumbrances, and those hideous monsters. If so it
happen, that his Disciple prove of so different a condition, that he
rather love to give eare to an idle fable than to the report of some
noble voiage, or other notable and wise discourse, when he shall
heare it; that at the sound of a Drum or clang of a Trumpet, which
are wont to rowse and arme the youthly heat of his companions,
turneth to another that calleth him to see a play, tumbling, jugling
tricks, or other idle lose-time sports; and who for pleasures sake
doth not deeme it more delightsome to returne all sweatie and wearie
from a victorious combat, from wrestling, or riding of a horse, than
from a Tennis-court or dancing schoole, with the prize or honour of
such exercises; The best remedy I know for such a one is, to put him
prentice to some base occupation, in some good towne or other, yea,
were he the sonne of a Duke; according to Platoes rule, who saith
"That children must be placed, not according to their fathers
conditions, but the faculties of their mind." Since it is
Philosophie that teacheth us to live, and that infancie as well as
other ages, may plainly read her lessons in the same, why should it
not be imparted unto young Schollers?

     Vdum et molle lutum est, nunc nunc properandus, et acri
     Fingendus sine fine rota.
     [Footnote: PES. Sat. iii. 23.]

     He's moist and soft mould, and must by and by
     Be cast, made up, while wheele whirls readily.

We are taught to live when our life is well-nigh spent. Many
schollers have been infected with that loathsome and marrow-wasting
disease before ever they came to read Aristotles treatise of
Temperance. Cicero was wont to say, "That could he out-live the
lives of two men, he should never find leasure to study the Lyrike
Poets." And I find these Sophisters both worse and more
unprofitable. Our childe is engaged in greater matters; And but the
first fifteene or sixteene yeares of his life are due unto
Pedantisme, the rest unto action: let us therefore imploy so short
time as we have to live in more necessarie instructions. It is an
abuse; remove these thornie quiddities of Logike, whereby our life
can no whit be amended, and betake our selves to the simple
discourses of Philosophy; know how to chuse and fitly to make use of
them: they are much more easie to be conceived than one of Bocace
his tales. A childe comming from nurse is more capable of them, than
he is to learne to read or write. Philosophy hath discourses,
whereof infancie as well as decaying old-age may make good use. I am
of Plutarkes mind, which is, that Aristotle did not so much ammuse
his great Disciple about the arts how to frame Syllogismes, or the
principles of Geometric, as he endevoured to instruct him with good
precepts concerning valour, prowesse, magnanimitie, and temperance,
and an undanted assurance not to feare any thing; and with such
munition he sent him, being yet verie young, to subdue the Empire of
the world, only with 30000 footmen, 4000 horsemen, and 42000 Crownes
in monie. As for other arts and sciences; he saith Alexander
honoured them, and commended their excellencie and comlinesse; but
for any pleasure he tooke in them, his affection could not easily be
drawne to exercise them.

       --petite hinc juvenesque senesque
     Finem animo certum, miserisque viatica canis.
     [Footnote: Sat. v. 64]

     Young men and old, draw hence (in your affaires)
     Your minds set marke, provision for gray haires.

It is that which Epicurus said in the beginning of his letter to
Memiceus: "Neither let the youngest shun nor the oldest wearie
himselfe in philosophying, for who doth otherwise seemeth to say,
that either the season to live happily is not yet come, or is
already past." Yet would I not have this young gentleman pent-up,
nor carelesly cast-off to the heedlesse choler, or melancholy humour
of the hasty Schoole-master. I would not have his budding spirit
corrupted with keeping him fast-tied, and as it were labouring
fourteene or fifteene houres a day poaring on his booke, as some
doe, as if he were a day-labouring man; neither doe I thinke it fit,
if at any time, by reason of some solitairie or melancholy
complexion, he should be scene with an over-indiscreet application
given to his booke, it should be cherished in him; for, that doth
often make him both unapt for civill conversation and distracts him
from better imployments: How many have I scene in my daies, by an
over-greedy desire of knowledge, become as it were foolish?
Carneades was so deeply plunged, and as I may say besotted in it,
that he could never have leasure to cut his haire, or pare his
nailes: nor would I have his noble manners obscured by the
incivilitie and barbarisme of others. The French wisdome hath long
since proverbially been spoken of as verie apt to conceive study in
her youth, but most unapt to keepe it long. In good truth, we see at
this day that there is nothing lovelier to behold than the young
children of France; but for the most part, they deceive the hope
which was fore-apprehended of them: for when they once become men,
there is no excellencie at all in them. I have heard men of
understanding hold this opinion, that the Colleges to which they are
sent (of which there are store) doe thus besot them: whereas to our
scholler, a cabinet, a gardin, the table, the bed, a solitarinesse,
a companie, morning and evening, and all houres shall be alike unto
him, all places shall be a study for him: for Philosophy (as a
former of judgements, and modeler of customes) shall be his
principall lesson, having the privilege to entermeddle her selfe
with all things, and in all places. Isocrates the Orator, being once
requested at a great banket to speake of his art, when all thought
he had reason to answer, said, "It is not now time to doe what I
can, and what should now be done, I cannot doe it; For, to present
orations, or to enter into disputation of Rhetorike, before a
companie assembled together to be merrie, and make good cheere,
would be but a medley of harsh and jarring musicke." The like may be
said of all other Sciences. But touching Philosophy, namely, in that
point where it treateth of man, and of his duties and offices, it
hath been the common judgement of the wisest, that in regard of the
pleasantnesse of her conversatione, she ought not to be rejected,
neither at banquets nor at sports. And Plato having invited her to
his solemne feast, we see how kindly she entertaineth the companie
with a milde behaviour, fitly suting her selfe to time and place,
notwithstanding it be one of his learned'st and profitable

     AEque pauperibus prodest, locupletibus aque,
     Et neglecta aeque pueris senibusque nocebit.
     [Footnote: HOR. 1. i. Epist. 125.]

     Poore men alike, alike rich men it easeth,
     Alike it, scorned, old and young displeaseth.

So doubtlesse he shall lesse be idle than others; for even as the
paces we bestow walking in a gallerie, although they be twice as
many more, wearie us not so much as those we spend in going a set
journey: So our lesson being past over, as it were, by chance, or
way of encounter, without strict observance of time or place, being
applied to all our actions, shall be digested, and never felt. All
sports and exercises shall be a part of his study; running,
wrestling, musicke, dancing, hunting, and managing of armes and
horses. I would have the exterior demeanor or decencie, and the
disposition of his person to be fashioned together with his mind:
for, it is not a mind, it is not a body that we erect, but it is a
man, and we must not make two parts of him. And as Plato saith, They
must not be erected one without another, but equally be directed, no
otherwise than a couple of horses matched to draw in one selfe-same
teeme. And to heare him, doth he not seeme to imploy more time and
care in the exercises of his bodie: and to thinke that the minde is
together with the same exercised, and not the contrarie? As for
other matters, this institution ought to be directed by a sweet-
severe mildnesse; Not as some do, who in liew of gently-bidding
children to the banquet of letters, present them with nothing but
horror and crueltie. Let me have this violence and compulsion
removed, there is nothing that, in my seeming, doth more bastardise
and dizzie a welborne and gentle nature: If you would have him stand
in awe of shame and punishment, doe not so much enure him to it:
accustome him patiently to endure sweat and cold, the sharpnesse of
the wind, the heat of the sunne, and how to despise all hazards.
Remove from him all nicenesse and quaintnesse in clothing, in lying,
in eating, and in drinking: fashion him to all things, that he prove
not a faire and wanton-puling boy, but a lustie and vigorous boy:
When I was a child, being a man, and now am old, I have ever judged
and believed the same. But amongst other things, I could never away
with this kind of discipline used in most of our Colleges. It had
peradventure been lesse hurtfull, if they had somewhat inclined to
mildnesse, or gentle entreatie. It is a verie prison of captivated
youth, and proves dissolute in punishing it before it be so. Come
upon them when they are going to their lesson, and you heare nothing
but whipping and brawling, both of children tormented, and masters
besotted with anger and chafing. How wide are they, which go about
to allure a childs mind to go to its booke, being yet but tender and
fearefull, with a stearne-frowning countenance, and with hands full
of rods? Oh wicked and pernicious manner of teaching! which
Quintillian hath very wel noted, that this imperious kind of
authoritie, namely, this way of punishing of children, drawes many
dangerous inconveniences within. How much more decent were it to see
their school-houses and formes strewed with greene boughs and
flowers, than with bloudy burchen-twigs? If it lay in me, I would
doe as the Philosopher Speusippus did, who caused the pictures of
Gladness and Joy, of Flora and of the Graces, to be set up round
about his school-house. Where their profit lieth, there should also
be their recreation. Those meats ought to be sugred over, that are
healthful for childrens stomakes, and those made bitter that are
hurtfull for them. It is strange to see how carefull Plato sheweth
him selfe in framing of his lawes about the recreation and pastime
of the youth of his Citie, and how far he extends him selfe about
their exercises, sports, songs, leaping, and dancing, whereof he
saith, that severe antiquitie gave the conduct and patronage unto
the Gods themselves, namely, to Apollo, to the Muses, and to
Minerva. Marke but how far-forth he endevoreth to give a thousand
precepts to be kept in his places of exercises both of bodie and
mind. As for learned Sciences, he stands not much upon them, and
seemeth in particular to commend Poesie, but for Musickes sake. All
strangenesse and selfe-particularitie in our manners and conditions,
is to be shunned, as an enemie to societie and civill conversation.
Who would not be astonished at Demophons complexion, chiefe steward
of Alexanders household, who was wont to sweat in the shadow, and
quiver for cold in the sunne? I have seene some to startle at the
smell of an apple more than at the shot of a peece; some to be
frighted with a mouse, some readie to cast their gorge [Footnote:
Vomit.] at the sight of a messe of creame, and others to be scared
with seeing a fether bed shaken: as Germanicus, who could not abide
to see a cock, or heare his crowing. There may haply be some hidden
propertie of nature, which in my judgement might easilie be removed,
if it were taken in time. Institution hath gotten this upon me (I
must confesse with much adoe) for, except beere, all things else
that are mans food agree indifferently with my taste. The bodie
being yet souple, ought to be accommodated to all fashions and
customes; and (alwaies provided, his appetites and desires be kept
under) let a yong man boldly be made fit for al Nations and
companies; yea, if need be, for al disorders and surfetings; let him
acquaint him selfe with al fashions; That he may be able to do al
things, and love to do none but those that are commendable. Some
strict Philosophers commend not, but rather blame Calisthenes, for
losing the good favour of his Master Alexander, only because he
would not pledge him as much as he had drunke to him. He shall
laugh, jest, dally, and debauch himselfe with his Prince. And in his
debauching, I would have him out-go al his fellowes in vigor and
constancie, and that he omit not to doe evill, neither for want of
strength or knowledge, but for lacke of will. Multum interest utrum
peccare quis nolit, aut nesciat: [Footnote: HOR. Epist. xvii. 23.]
"There is a great difference, whether one have no will, or no wit to
doe amisse." I thought to have honoured a gentleman (as great a
stranger, and as far from such riotous disorders as any is in
France) by enquiring of him in verie good companie, how many times
in all his life he had bin drunke in Germanie during the time of his
abode there, about the necessarie affaires of our King; who tooke it
even as I meant it, and answered three times, telling the time and
manner how. I know some, who for want of that qualitie, have been
much perplexed when they have had occasion to converse with that
nation. I have often noted with great admiration, that wonderfull
nature of Alcibiades, to see how easilie he could sute himselfe to
so divers fashions and different humors, without prejudice unto his
health; sometimes exceeding the sumptuousnesse and pompe of the
Persians, and now and then surpassing. the austeritie and frugalitie
of the Lacedemonians; as reformed in Sparta, as voluptuous in Ionia.

     Omnis Atistippum decuit color, et status, et res.
     [Footnote: HOR. Epist. xvii. 25.]

     All colours, states, and things are fit
     For courtly Aristippus wit.

Such a one would I frame my Disciple,

   --quem duplici panno patientia velat,
      Mirabor, vita via si conversa decebit.

     Whom patience clothes with sutes of double kind,
     I muse, if he another way will find.

     Personavnque feret non inconcinnus utramque.
     [Footnote: CIC. Tusc. Qu. 1. iv.]

     He not unfitly may,
     Both parts and persons play.

Loe here my lessons, wherein he that acteth them, profiteth more
than he that but knoweth them, whom if you see, you heare, and if
you heare him, you see him. God forbid, saith some bodie in Plato,
that to Philosophize, be to learne many things, and to exercise the
arts. Hanc amplissimam omnium artium bene vivendi disciplinam, vita
magis quant litteris persequntd sunt [Footnote: Ib. 29.] "This
discipline of living well, which is the amplest of all other arts,
they followed rather in their lives than in their learning or
writing." Leo Prince of the Phliasians, enquiring of Heraclides
Ponticus, what art he professed, he answered, "Sir, I professe
neither art nor science; but I am a Philosopher." Some reproved
Diogenes, that being an ignorant man, he did neverthelesse meddle
with Philosophie, to whom he replied, "So much the more reason have
I and to greater purpose doe I meddle with it." Hegesias praid him
upon a time to reade some booke unto him: "You are a merry man,"
said he: "As you chuse naturall and not painted, right and not
counterfeit figges to eat, why doe you not likewise chuse, not the
painted and written, but the true and naturall exercises?" He shall
not so much repeat, as act his lesson. In his actions shall he make
repetition of the same. We must observe, whether there bee wisdome
in his enterprises, integritie in his demeanor, modestie in his
jestures, justice in his actions, judgement and grace in his speech,
courage in his sicknesse, moderation in his sports, temperance in
his pleasures, order in the government of his house, and
indifference in his taste, whether it be flesh, fish, wine, or
water, or whatsoever he feedeth upon. Qui disciplinam suam non
ostentationem scientiae sed legem vitae putet: quique obtemperet
ipse sibi, et decretis pareat [Footnote: Ib. I. ii.] "Who thinks his
learning not an ostentation of knowledge, but a law of life, and
himselfe obayes himselfe, and doth what is decreed."

The true mirror of our discourses is the course of our lives.
Zeuxidamus answered one that demanded of him, why the Lacedemonians
did not draw into a booke, the ordinances of prowesse, that so their
yong men might read them; "it is," saith he, "because they would
rather accustome them to deeds and actions, than to bookes and
writings." Compare at the end of fifteene or sixteene yeares one of
these collegiall Latinizers, who hath imployed all that while onely
in learning how to speake, to such a one as I meane. The world is
nothing but babling and words, and I never saw man that doth not
rather speake more than he ought, than lesse. Notwithstanding halfe
our age is consumed that way. We are kept foure or five yeares
learning to understand bare words, and to joine them into clauses,
then as long in proportioning a great bodie extended into foure or
five parts; and five more at least ere we can succinctly know how to
mingle, joine, and interlace them handsomly into a subtil fashion,
and into one coherent orbe. Let us leave it to those whose
profession is to doe nothing else. Being once on my journey to
Orleans, it was my chance to meet upon that plaine that lieth on
this side Clery, with two Masters of Arts, traveling toward
Bordeaux, about fiftie paces one from another; far off behind them,
I descride a troupe of horsemen, their Master riding formost, who
was the Earle of Rochefocault; one of my servants enquiring of the
first of those Masters of Arts, what Gentleman he was that followed
him; supposing my servant had meant his fellow-scholler, for he had
not yet seen the Earles traine, answered pleasantly, "He is no
gentleman, Sir, but a Gramarian, and I am a Logitian." Now, we that
contrariwise seek not to frame a Gramarian, nor a Logitian, but a
compleat gentleman, let us give them leave to mispend their time; we
have else-where, and somewhat else of more import to doe. So that
our Disciple be well and sufficiently stored with matter; words will
follow apace, and if they will hot follow gently, he shall hale them
on perforce. I heare some excuse themselves, that they cannot
expresse their meaning, and make a semblance that their heads are so
full stuft with many goodly things, but for want of eloquence they
can neither titter nor make show of them. It is a meere fopperie.
And will you know what, in my seeming, the cause is? They are
shadows and Chimeraes, proceeding of some formelesse conceptions,
which they cannot distinguish or resolve within, and by consequence
are not able to produce them in as-much as they understand not
themselves: And if you but marke their earnestnesse, and how they
stammer and labour at the point of their deliverle, you would deeme
that what they go withall, is but a conceiving, and therefore
nothing neere downelying; and that they doe but licke that imperfect
and shapelesse lump of matter. As for me, I am of opinion, and
Socrates would have it so, that he who had a cleare and lively
imagination in his mind, may easilie produce and utter the same,
although it be in Bergamaske [Footnote: A rustic dialect of the
north of Italy.] or Welsh, and if he be dumbe, by signes and tokens.

     Verbaque praevisam rem non invita sequentur.
     [Footnote: HOR. Art. Poet. 311.]

     When matter we fore-know,
     Words voluntarie flow.

As one said, as poetically in his prose, Cum res animum occupavere,
verba ambiunt; [Footnote: SED. Controv. 1. vii. prae.] "When matter
hath possest their minds, they hunt after words:" and another: Ipsa
res verba rapiunt: [Footnote: CIC. de Fin. I. iii. c. 5.] "Things
themselves will catch and carry words:" He knowes neither Ablative,
Conjunctive, Substantive, nor Gramar, no more doth his Lackey, nor
any Oyster-wife about the streets, and yet if you have a mind to it
he will intertaine you, your fill, and peradventure stumble as
little and as seldome against the rules of his tongue, as the best
Master of arts in France. He hath no skill in Rhetoricke, nor can he
with a preface fore-stall and captivate the Gentle Readers good
will: nor careth he greatly to know it. In good sooth, all this
garish painting is easilie defaced, by the lustre of an in-bred and
simple truth; for these dainties and quaint devices serve but to
ammuse the vulgar sort; unapt and incapable to taste the most solid
and firme meat: as Afer verie plainly declareth in Cornelius
Tacitus. The Ambassadours of Samos being come to Cleomenes King of
Sparta, prepared with a long prolix Oration, to stir him up to war
against the tyrant Policrates, after he had listned a good while
unto them, his answer was: "Touching your Exordium or beginning I
have forgotten it; the middle I remember not; and for your
conclusion I will do nothing in it." A fit, and (to my thinking) a
verie good answer; and the Orators were put to such a shift; as they
knew not what to replie. And what said another? the Athenians from
out two of their cunning Architects, were to chuse one to erect a
notable great frame; the one of them more affected and selfe
presuming, presented himselfe before them, with a smooth fore-
premeditated discourse, about the subject of that piece of worke,
and thereby drew the judgements of the common people unto his
liking; but the other in few words spake thus: "Lords of Athens,
what this man hath said I will performe." In the greatest
earnestnesse of Ciceroes eloquence many were drawn into a kind of
admiration; But Cato jesting at it, said, "Have we not a pleasant
Consull?" A quicke cunning Argument, and a wittie saying, whether it
go before or come after, it is never out of season. If it have no
coherence with that which goeth before, nor with what commeth after;
it is good and commendable in it selfe. I am none of those that
think a good Ryme, to make a good Poeme; let him hardly (if so he
please) make a short syllable long, it is no great matter; if the
invention be rare and good, and his wit and judgement have cunningly
played their part. I will say to such a one; he is a good Poet, but
an ill Versifier.

     Emunciae naris, durus componere versus.
     [Footnote: HOR. 1. i. Sat. iv.]

     A man whose sense could finely pierce,
     But harsh and hard to make a verse.

Let a man (saith Horace) make his worke loose all seames, measures,
and joynts.

 Tempora certa moddsque, et quod prius ordine verbum est,
 [Footnote: Ib. 58.]
 Posterius facias, praeponens ultima primis:
 Invenias etiam disjecti membra Poetae.
 [Footnote: Ib. 62.]

 Set times and moods, make you the first word last,
 The last word first, as if they were new cast:
 Yet find th' unjoynted Poets joints stand fast.

He shall for all that, nothing gain-say himselfe, every piece will
make a good shew. To this purpose answered Menander those that chid
him, the day being at hand, in which he had promised a Comedy, and
had not begun the same, "Tut-tut," said he, "it is alreadie
finished, there wanteth nothing but to adde the verse unto it;" for,
having ranged and cast the plot in his mind, he made small accompt
of feet, of measures, or cadences of verses, which indeed are but of
small import in regard of the rest. Since great Ronsarde and learned
Bellay have raised our French Poesie unto that height of honour
where it now is: I see not one of these petty ballad-makers, or
prentise dogrell rymers, that doth not bombast his labours with
high-swelling and heaven-disimbowelling words, and that doth not
marshall his cadences verie neere as they doe. Plus sonat quam
valet. [Footnote: Sen, Epist. xl.] "The sound is more than the
weight or worth." And for the vulgar sort there were never so many
Poets, and so few good: but as it hath been easie for them to
represent their rymes, so come they far short in imitating the rich
descriptions of the one, and rare inventions of the other. But what
shall he doe, if he be urged with sophisticall subtilties about a
Sillogisme? A gammon of Bacon makes a man drink, drinking quencheth
a mans thirst; Ergo, a gammon of bacon quencheth a mans thirst. Let
him mock at it, it is more wittie to be mockt at than to be
answered. Let him borrow this pleasant counter-craft of Aristippus;
"Why shall I unbind that, which being bound doth so much trouble
me?" Some one proposed certaine Logicall quiddities against
Cleanthes, to whom Chrisippus said; use such jugling tricks to play
with children, and divert not the serious thoughts of an aged man to
such idle matters. If such foolish wiles, Contorta et aculeata
sophismata, [Footnote: Cic. Acad. Qu. 1. iv.] "Intricate and stinged
sophismes," must perswade a lie, it is dangerous: but if they proove
void of any effect, and move him but to laughter, I see not why he
shall beware of them. Some there are so foolish that will go a
quarter of a mile out of the way to hunt after a quaint new word, if
they once get in chace; Aut qui non verba rebus aptant, sed res
extrinsecus arcessunt, quibus verba conveniant: "Or such as fit not
words to matter, but fetch matter from abroad, whereto words be
fitted." And another, Qui alicujus verbi decore placentis, vocentur
ad id quod non proposuerant scribere: [Footnote: Sen. Epist. liii.]
"Who are allured by the grace of some pleasing word, to write what
they intended not to write." I doe more willingly winde up a wittie
notable sentence, that so I may sew it upon me, than unwinde my
thread to go fetch it. Contrariwise, it is for words to serve and
wait upon the matter, and not for matter to attend upon words, and
if the French tongue cannot reach unto it, let the Gaskonie, or any
other. I would have the matters to surmount, and so fill the
imagination of him that harkeneth, that he have no remembrance at
all of the words. It is a naturall, simple, and unaffected speech
that I love, so written as it is spoken, and such upon the paper, as
it is in the mouth, a pithie, sinnowie, full, strong, compendious
and materiall speech, not so delicate and affected as vehement and

     Hac demum sapiet dictio qua feriet.
     [Footnote: Epitaph on Lucan, 6.]

     In fine, that word is wisely fit,
     Which strikes the fence, the marke doth hit.

Rather difficult than tedious, void of affection, free, loose and
bold, that every member of it seeme to make a bodie; not
Pedanticall, nor Frier-like, nor Lawyer-like, but rather downe
right, Souldier-like. As Suetonius calleth that of Julius Caesar,
which I see no reason wherefore he calleth it. I have sometimes
pleased myselfe in imitating that licenciousnesse or wanton humour
of our youths, in wearing of their garments; as carelessly to let
their cloaks hang downe over one shoulder; to weare their cloakes
scarfe or bawdrikewise, and their stockings loose hanging about
their legs. It represents a kind of disdainful fiercenesse of these
forraine embellishings, and neglect carelesnesse of art: But I
commend it more being imployed in the course and forme of speech.
All manner of affectation, namely [Footnote: Especially,] in the
livelinesse and libertie of France, is unseemely in a Courtier. And
in a Monarchie every Gentleman ought to addresse himselfe unto
[Footnote: Aim at] a Courtiers carriage. Therefore do we well
somewhat to incline to a native and carelesse behaviour. I like not
a contexture, where the seames and pieces may be seen: As in a well
compact bodie, what need a man distinguish and number all the bones
and veines severally? Quae veritati operam dat oratio, incomposita
sit et simplex [Footnote: Sen. Epist. xl] Quis accurate loquitur
nisi qui vult putide loqui [Footnote: Ib. Epist. ixxr.] "The speach
that intendeth truth must be plaine and unpollisht: Who speaketh
elaborately, but he that meanes to speake unfavourably?" That
eloquence offereth injurie unto things, which altogether drawes us
to observe it. As in apparell, it is a signe of pusillanimitie for
one to marke himselfe, in some particular and unusuall fashion: so
likewise in common speech, for one to hunt after new phrases, and
unaccustomed quaint words, proceedeth of a scholasticall and
childish ambition. Let me use none other than are spoken in the hals
of Paris. Aristophanes the Gramarian was somewhat out of the way,
when he reproved Epicurus, for the simplicitie of his words, and the
end of his art oratorie, which was onely perspicuitie in speech. The
imitation of speech, by reason of the facilitie of it, followeth
presently a whole nation. The imitation of judging and inventing
comes more slow. The greater number of Readers, because they have
found one self-same kind of gowne, suppose most falsely to holde one
like bodie. Outward garments and cloakes may be borrowed, but never
the sinews and strength of the bodie. Most of those that converse
with me, speake like unto these Essayes; but I know not whether they
think alike. The Athenians (as Plato averreth) have for their part
great care to be fluent and eloquent in their speech; The
Lacedemonians endevour to be short and compendious; and those of
Creet labour more to bee plentifull in conceits than in language.
And these are the best. Zeno was wont to say, "That he had two sorts
of disciples; the one he called [Greek word omitted], curious to
learne things, and those were his darlings, the other he termed
[Greek word omitted], who respected nothing more than the language."
Yet can no man say, but that to speake well, is most gracious and
commendable, but not so excellent as some make it: and I am grieved
to see how we imploy most part of our time about that onely. I would
first know mine owne tongue perfectly, then my neighbours with whom
I have most commerce. I must needs acknowledge, that the Greeke and
Latine tongues are great ornaments in a gentleman, but they are
purchased at over-high a rate. Use it who list, I will tell you how
they may be gotten better, cheaper, and much sooner than is
ordinarily used, which was tried in myselfe. My late father, having,
by all the meanes and industrie that is possible for a man, sought
amongst the wisest, and men of best understanding, to find a most
exquisite and readie way of teaching, being advised of the
inconveniences then in use; was given to understand that the
lingring while, and best part of our youth, that we imploy in
learning the tongues, which cost them nothing, is the onely cause we
can never attaine to that absolute perfection of skill and knowledge
of the Greekes and Romanes. I doe not beleeve that to be the onely
cause. But so it is, the expedient my father found out was this;
that being yet at nurse, and before the first loosing of my tongue,
I was delivered to a Germane (who died since, a most excellent
Physitian in France) he being then altogether ignorant of the French
tongue, but exquisitely readie and skilfull in the Latine. This man,
whom my father had sent for of purpose, and to whom he gave verie
great entertainment, had me continually in his armes, and was mine
onely overseer. There were also joyned unto him two of his
countrimen, but not so learned; whose charge was to attend, and now
and then to play with me; and all these together did never
entertaine me with other than the Latine tongue. As for others of
his household, it was an inviolable rule, that neither himselfe, nor
my mother, nor man, nor maid-servant, were suffered to speake one
word in my companie, except such Latine words as every one had
learned to chat and prattle with me. It were strange to tell how
every one in the house profited therein. My Father and my Mother
learned so much Latine, that for a need they could understand it,
when they heard it spoken, even so did all the household servants,
namely such as were neerest and most about me. To be short, we were
all so Latinized, that the townes round about us had their share of
it; insomuch as even at this day, many Latine names both of workmen
and of their tooles are yet in use amongst them. And as for myselfe,
I was about six years old, and could understand no more French or
Perigordine than Arabike; and that without art, without bookes,
rules, or grammer, without whipping or whining, I had gotten as pure
a Latin tongue as my Master could speake; the rather because I could
neither mingle or confound the same with other tongues. If for an
Essay they would give me a Theme, whereas the fashion in Colleges
is, to give it in French, I had it in bad Latine, to reduce the same
into good. And Nicholas Grouchy, who hath written De comitiis
Romanorum, William Guerente, who hath commented Aristotele: George
Buchanan, that famous Scottish Poet, and Marke Antonie Muret, whom
(while he lived) both France and Italie to this day, acknowledge to
have been the best orator: all which have beene my familiar tutors,
have often told me, that in mine infancie I had the Latine tongue so
readie and so perfect, that themselves feared to take me in hand.
And Buchanan, who afterward I saw attending on the Marshall of
Brissacke, told me, he was about to write a treatise of the
institution of children, and that he tooke the model and patterne
from mine: for at that time he had the charge and bringing up of the
young Earle of Brissack, whom since we have scene prove so worthy
and so valiant a Captaine. As for the Greeke, wherein I have but
small understanding, my father purposed to make me learne it by art;
But by new and uncustomed meanes, that is, by way of recreation and
exercise. We did tosse our declinations and conjugations to and fro,
as they doe, who by way of a certaine game at tables learne both
Arithmetike and Geometrie. For, amongst other things he had
especially beene persuaded to make me taste and apprehend the fruits
of dutie and science by an unforced kinde of will, and of mine owne
choice; and without any compulsion or rigor to bring me up in all
mildnesse and libertie: yea with such kinde of superstition, that,
whereas some are of opinion that suddenly to awaken young children,
and as it were by violence to startle and fright them out of their
dead sleepe in a morning (wherein they are more heavie and deeper
plunged than we) doth greatly trouble and distemper their braines,
he would every morning cause me to be awakened by the sound of some
instrument; and I was never without a servant who to that purpose
attended upon me. This example may serve to judge of the rest; as
also to commend the judgement and tender affection of so carefull
and loving a father: who is not to be blamed, though hee reaped not
the fruits answerable to his exquisite toyle and painefull manuring.
[Footnote: Cultivation.] Two things hindered the same; first the
barrennesse and unfit soyle: for howbeit I were of a sound and
strong constitution, and of a tractable and yeelding condition, yet
was I so heavie, so sluggish, and so dull, that I could not be
rouzed (yea were it to goe to play) from out mine idle drowzinesse.
What I saw, I saw it perfectly; and under this heavy, and as it were
Lethe-complexion did I breed hardie imaginations, and opinions farre
above my yeares. My spirit was very slow, and would goe no further
than it was led by others; my apprehension blockish, my invention
poore; and besides, I had a marvelous defect in my weake memorie: it
is therefore no wonder, if my father could never bring me to any
perfection. Secondly, as those that in some dangerous sicknesse,
moved with a kind of hope-full and greedie desire of perfect health
againe, give eare to every Leach or Emperike, [Footnote: Doctor or
quack.] and follow all counsels, the good man being exceedingly
fearefull to commit any oversight, in a matter he tooke so to heart,
suffered himselfe at last to be led away by the common opinion,
which like unto the Cranes, followeth ever those that go before, and
yeelded to customer having those no longer about him, that had given
him his first directions, and which they had brought out of Italie.
Being but six yeares old I was sent to the College of Guienne, then
most flourishing and reputed the best in France, where it is
impossible to adde any thing to the great care he had, both to chuse
the best and most sufficient masters that could be found, to reade
unto me, as also for all other circumstances partaining to my
education; wherein contrary to usuall customes of Colleges, he
observed many particular rules. But so it is, it was ever a College.
My Latin tongue was forthwith corrupted, whereof by reason of
discontinuance, I afterward lost all manner of use: which new kind
of institution stood me in no other stead, but that at my first
admittance it made me to overskip some of the lower formes, and to
be placed in the highest. For at thirteene yeares of age, that I
left the College, I had read over the whole course of Philosophie
(as they call it) but with so small profit, that I can now make no
account of it. The first taste or feeling I had of bookes, was of
the pleasure I tooke in reading the fables of Ovids Metamorphosies;
for, being but seven or eight yeares old, I would steale and
sequester my selfe from all other delights, only to reade them:
Forsomuch as the tongue wherein they were written was to me
naturall; and it was the easiest booke I knew, and by reason of the
matter therein contained most agreeing with my young age. For of
King Arthur, of Lancelot du Lake, of Amadis, of Huon of Burdeaux,
and such idle time consuming and wit-besotting trash of bookes
wherein youth doth commonly ammuse it selfe, I was not so much as
acquainted with their names, and to this day know not their bodies,
nor what they containe: So exact was my discipline. Whereby I became
more carelesse to studie my other prescript lessons. And well did it
fall out for my purpose, that I had to deale with a very discreet
Master, who out of his judgement could with such dexterite winke at
and second my untowardlinesse, and such other faults that were in
me. For by that meanes I read over Virgils AEneados, Terence,
Plautus, and other Italian Comedies, allured thereunto by the
pleasantnesse of their severall subjects: Had he beene so foolishly-
severe, or so severely froward as to crosse this course of mine, I
thinke verily I had never brought any thing from the College, but
the hate and contempt of Bookes, as doth the greatest part of our
Nobilitie. Such was his discretion, and so warily did he behave
himselfe, that he saw and would not see: hee would foster and
increase my longing: suffering me but by stealth and by snatches to
glut my selfe with those Bookes, holding ever a gentle hand over me,
concerning other regular studies. For, the chiefest thing my father
required at their hands (unto whose charge he had committed me) was
a kinde of well conditioned mildnesse and facilitie of complexion.
[Footnote: Easiness of disposition.] And, to say truth, mine had no
other fault, but a certaine dull languishing and heavie
slothfullnesse. The danger was not, I should doe ill, but that I
should doe nothing.

No man did ever suspect I would prove a bad, but an unprofitable
man: foreseeing in me rather a kind of idlenesse than a voluntary
craftinesse. I am not so selfe-conceited but I perceive what hath
followed. The complaints that are daily buzzed in mine eares are
these; that I am idle, cold, and negligent in offices of friendship,
and dutie to my parents and kinsfolkes; and touching publike
offices, that I am over singular and disdainfull. And those that are
most injurious cannot aske, wherefore I have taken, and why I have
not paied? but may rather demand, why I doe not quit, and wherefore
I doe not give? I would take it as a favour, they should wish such
effects of supererogation in me. But they are unjust and over
partiall, that will goe about to exact that from me which I owe not,
with more vigour than they will exact from themselves that which
they owe; wherein if they condemne me, they utterly cancell both the
gratifying of the action, and the gratitude, which thereby would be
due to me. Whereas the active well doing should be of more
consequence, proceeding from my hand, in regard I have no passive at
all. Wherefore I may so much the more freely dispose of my fortune,
by how much more it is mine, and of my selfe that am most mine owne.
Notwithstanding, if I were a great blazoner of mine owne actions, I
might peradventure barre such reproches, and justly upraid some,
that they are not so much offended, because I doe not enough, as for
that I may, and it lies in my power to doe much more than I doe. Yet
my minde ceased not at the same time to have peculiar unto it selfe
well setled motions, true and open judgements concerning the objects
which it knew; which alone, and without any helpe or communication
it would digest. And amongst other things, I verily beleeve it would
have proved altogether incapable and unfit to yeeld unto force, or
stoope unto violence. Shall I account or relate this qualitie of my
infancie, which was, a kinde of boldnesse in my lookes, and gentle
softnesse in my voice, and affabilitie in my gestures, and a
dexterite in conforming my selfe to the parts I undertooke? for
before the age of the

     Alter ab undecimo turn me vix ceperat annus.
     [Footnote: Virg. Buc. Ecl. viii. 39.]

     Yeares had I (to make even)
     Scarce two above eleven.

I have under-gone and represented the chiefest part in the Latin
Tragedies of Buchanan, Guerente, and of Muret; which in great state
were acted and plaid in our College of Guienne: wherein Andreas
Goveanus our Rector principall; who as in all other parts belonging
to his charge, was without comparison the chiefest Rector of France,
and my selfe (without ostentation be it spoken) was reputed, if not
a chiefe-master, yet a principall Actor in them. It is an exercise I
rather commend than disalow in young Gentlemen: and have seene some
of our Princes (in imitation of some of former ages) both
commendably and honestly, in their proper persons act and play some
parts in Tragedies. It hath heretofore been esteemed a lawfull
exercise, and a tolerable profession in men of honor, namely in
Greece. Aristoni tragico actori rem aperit: huic et genus et fortuna
honesta erant: nec ars, quia nihil tale apud Graecos pudori est, ea
deformabat. [Footnote: Liv. Deo. iii. 1. iv.] "He imparts the matter
to Ariston a Player of tragedies, whose progenie and fortune were
both honest; nor did his profession disgrace them, because no such
matter is a disparagement amongst the Grecians."

And I have ever accused them of impertinencie, that condemne and
disalow such kindes of recreations, and blame those of injustice,
that refuse good and honest Comedians, or (as we call them) Players,
to enter our good townes, and grudge the common people such publike
sports. Politike and wel ordered commonwealths endevour rather
carefully to unite and assemble their Citizens together; as in
serious offices of devotion, so in honest exercises of recreation.
Common societie and loving friendship is thereby cherished and
increased. And besides, they cannot have more formal and regular
pastimes allowed them, than such as are acted and represented in
open view of all, and in the presence of the magistrates themselves;
And if I might beare sway, I would thinke it reasonable, that
Princes should sometimes, at their proper charges, gratifie the
common people with them, as an argument of a fatherly affection, and
loving goodnesse towards them: and that in populous and frequented
cities, there should be Theatres and places appointed for such
spectacles; as a diverting of worse inconveniences, and secret
actions. But to come to my intended purpose there is no better way
to allure the affection, and to entice the appetite: otherwise a man
shall breed but asses laden with Bookes. With jerks of rods they
have their satchels full of learning given them to keepe. Which to
doe well, one must not only harbor in himselfe, but wed and marry
the same with his minde.


Considering the proceeding of a Painters worke I have, a desire hath
possessed mee to imitate him: He maketh choice of the most
convenient place and middle of everie wall, there to place a
picture, laboured with all his skill and sufficiencie; and all void
places about it he filleth up with antike Boscage [Footnote:
Foliated ornament] or Crotesko [Footnote: Grotesque] works; which
are fantasticall pictures, having no grace, but in the variety and
strangenesse of them. And what are these my compositions in truth,
other than antike workes, and monstrous bodies, patched and hudled
up together of divers members, without any certaine or well ordered
figure, having neither order, dependencie, or proportion, but
casuall and framed by chance?

     Definit in piscem mulier formosa superne.
     [Footnote: Hon. Art. Poet. 4.]

     A woman faire for parts superior,
     Ends in a fish for parts inferior.

Touching this second point I goe as farre as my Painter, but for the
other and better part I am farre behinde: for my sufficiency
reacheth not so farre as that I dare undertake a rich, a polished,
and, according to true skill, an art-like table. I have advised
myselfe to borrow one of Steven de la Boetie, who with this kinde of
worke shall honour all the world. It is a discourse he entitled
Voluntary Servitude, but those who have not knowne him, have since
very properly rebaptized the same, The Against-one. In his first
youth he writ, by way of Essaie, in honour of libertie against
Tyrants. It hath long since beene dispersed amongst men of
understanding, not without great and well deserved commendations:
for it is full of wit, and containeth as much learning as may be:
yet doth it differ much from the best he can do. And if in the age I
knew him in, he would have undergone my dessigne to set his
fantasies downe in writing, we should doubtlesse see many rare
things, and which would very neerely approch the honour of
antiquity: for especially touching that part of natures gifts, I
know none may be compared to him. But it was not long of him, that
ever this Treatise came to mans view, and I beleeve he never saw it
since it first escaped his hands: with certaine other notes
concerning the edict of Januarie, famous by reason of our intestine
warre, which haply may in other places finde their deserved praise.
It is all I could ever recover of his reliques (whom when death
seized, he by his last will and testament, left with so kinde
remembrance, heire and executor of his librarie and writings)
besides the little booke, I since caused to be published: To which
his pamphlet I am particularly most bounden, for so much as it was
the instrumentall meane of our first acquaintance. For it was shewed
me long time before I saw him; and gave me the first knowledge of
his name, addressing, and thus nourishing that unspotted friendship
which we (so long as it pleased God) have so sincerely, so entire
and inviolably maintained betweene us, that truly a man shall not
commonly heare of the like; and amongst our moderne men no signe of
any such is scene. So many parts are required to the erecting of
such a one, that it may be counted a wonder if fortune once in three
ages contract the like. There is nothing to which Nature hath more
addressed us than to societie. And Aristotle saith that perfect Law-
givers have had more regardfull care of friendship than of justice.
And the utmost drift of its perfection is this. For generally, all
those amities which are forged and nourished by voluptuousnesse or
profit, publike or private need, are thereby so much the lesse faire
and generous, and so much the lesse true amities, in that they
intermeddle other causes, scope, and fruit with friendship, than it
selfe alone: Nor doe those foure ancient kindes of friendships,
Naturall, sociall, hospitable, and venerian, either particularly or
conjointly beseeme the same. That from children to parents may
rather be termed respect: Friendship is nourished by communication,
which by reason of the over-great disparitie cannot bee found in
them, and would happly offend the duties of nature: for neither all
the secret thoughts of parents can be communicated unto children,
lest it might engender an unbeseeming familiaritie betweene them,
nor the admonitions and corrections (which are the chiefest offices
of friendship) could be exercised from children to parents. There
have nations beene found, where, by custome, children killed their
parents, and others where parents slew their children, thereby to
avoid the hindrance of enterbearing [Footnote: Mutually supporting.]
one another in after-times: for naturally one dependeth from the
ruine of another. There have Philosophers beene found disdaining
this naturall conjunction: witnesse Aristippus, who being urged with
the affection he ought [Footnote: Owed.] his children, as proceeding
from his loyns, began to spit, saying, That also that excrement
proceeded from him, and that also we engendred wormes and lice. And
that other man, whom Plutarke would have perswaded to agree with his
brother, answered, "I care not a straw the more for him, though he
came out of the same wombe I did." Verily the name of Brother is a
glorious name, and full of loving kindnesse, and therefore did he
and I terme one another sworne brother: but this commixture,
dividence, and sharing of goods, this joyning wealth to wealth, and
that the riches of one shall be the povertie of another, doth
exceedingly distemper and distract all brotherly alliance, and
lovely conjunction: If brothers should conduct the progresse of
their advancement and thrift in one same path and course, they must
necessarily oftentimes hinder and crosse one another. Moreover, the
correspondencie and relation that begetteth these true and mutually
perfect amities, why shall it be found in these? The father and the
sonne may very well be of a farre differing complexion, and so many
brothers: He is my sonne, he is my kinsman; but he may be a foole, a
bad, or a peevish-minded man. And then according as they are
friendships which the law and dutie of nature doth command us, so
much the lesse of our owne voluntarie choice and libertie is there
required unto it: And our genuine libertie hath no production more
properly her owne, than that of affection and amitie. Sure I am,
that concerning the same I have assaied all that might be, having
had the best and most indulgent father that ever was, even to his
extremest age, and who from father to sonne was descended of a
famous house, and touching this rare-seene vertue of brotherly
concord very exemplare:

       ----et ipse
     Notus in fratres animi paterni.
     [Footnote: Hor. 1. ii. Qd. li. 6.]

     To his brothers knowne so kinde.
     As to beare a fathers minde.

To compare the affection toward women unto it, although it proceed
from our owne free choice, a man cannot, nor may it be placed in
this ranke: Her fire, I confesse it to be more

     (---neque enim est dea nescia nostri
     Quae dulcem curis miscet amaritiem.)
     [Footnote: Catul. Epig. lxvi.]

     (Nor is that Goddesse ignorant of me,
     Whose bitter-sweets with my cares mixed be.)

active, more fervent, and more sharpe. But it is a rash and wavering
fire, waving and divers: the fire of an ague subject to fits and
stints, and that hath but slender hold-fast of us. In true
friendship, it is a generall and universall heat, and equally
tempered, a constant and setled heat, all pleasure and smoothnes,
that hath no pricking or stinging in it, which the more it is in
lustfull love, the more is it but a raging and mad desire in
following that which flies us,

     Come segue la lepre il cacciatore
     Alfreddo, al caldo, alia montagna, a lito,
     Ne pin l'estima poi che presa vede,
     E sol dietro a chi fugge affretta il piede.
     [Footnote: Ariost. can. x. st. 7.]

     Ev'n as the huntsman doth the hare pursue,
     In cold, in heat, on mountaines, on the shore,
     But cares no more, when he her ta'en espies
     Speeding his pace only at that which flies.

As soone as it creepeth into the termes of friendship, that is to
say, in the agreement of wits, it languisheth and vanisheth away:
enjoying doth lose it, as having a corporall end, and subject to
satietie. On the other side, friendship is enjoyed according as it
is desired, it is neither bred, nourished, nor increaseth but in
jovissance, as being spirituall, and the minde being refined by use
custome. Under this chiefe amitie, these fading affections have
sometimes found place in me, lest I should speake of him, who in his
verses speakes but too much of it. So are these two passions entered
into me in knowledge one of another, but in comparison never: the
first flying a high, and keeping a proud pitch, disdainfully
beholding the other to passe her points farre under it. Concerning
marriage, besides that it is a covenant which hath nothing free but
the entrance, the continuance being forced and constrained,
depending else-where than from our will, and a match ordinarily
concluded to other ends: A thousand strange knots are therein
commonly to be unknit, able to break the web, and trouble the whole
course of a lively affection; whereas in friendship there is no
commerce or busines depending on the same, but it selfe. Seeing (to
speake truly) that the ordinary sufficiency of women cannot answer
this conference and communication, the nurse of this sacred bond:
nor seeme their mindes strong enough to endure the pulling of a knot
so hard, so fast, and durable. And truly, if without that, such a
genuine and voluntarie acquaintance might be contracted, where not
only mindes had this entire jovissance, [Footnote: Enjoyment.] but
also bodies, a share of the alliance, and where a man might wholly
be engaged: It is certaine, that friendship would thereby be more
compleat and full: But this sex could never yet by any example
attaine unto it, and is by ancient schooles rejected thence. And
this other Greeke licence is justly abhorred by our customes, which
notwithstanding, because according to use it had so necessarie a
disparitie of ages, and difference of offices betweene lovers, did
no more sufficiently answer the perfect union and agreement, which
here we require: Quis est enim iste amor amicitiae? cur neque
deformem adolescentem quisquam amat, neque formosum senem?
[Footnote: Cic. Tusc. Qu. lv. c. 33.] "For, what love is this of
friendship? why doth no man love either a deformed young man, or a
beautifull old man?" For even the picture the Academic makes of it,
will not (as I suppose) disavowe mee, to say thus in her behalfe:
That the first furie, enspired by the son of Venus in the lovers
hart, upon the object of tender youths-flower, to which they allow
all insolent and passionate violences, an immoderate heat may
produce, was simply grounded upon an externall beauty; a false image
of corporall generation: for in the spirit it had no power, the
sight whereof was yet concealed, which was but in his infancie, and
before the age of budding. For, if this furie did seize upon a base
minded courage, the meanes of its pursuit were riches, gifts, favour
to the advancement of dignities, and such like vile merchandice,
which they reprove. If it fell into a more generous minde, the
interpositions [Footnote: Means of approach.] were likewise
generous: Philosophicall instructions, documents [Footnote:
Teachings.] to reverence religion, to obey the lawes, to die for the
good of his countrie: examples of valor, wisdome and justice; the
lover endevoring and studying to make himselfe acceptable by the
good grace and beauty of his minde (that of his body being long
since decayed) hoping by this mentall society to establish a more
firme and permanent bargaine. When this pursuit attained the effect
in due season (for by not requiring in a lover, he should bring
leasure and discretion in his enterprise, they require it exactly in
the beloved; forasmuch as he was to judge of an internall beauty, of
difficile knowledge, and abstruse discovery) then by the
interposition of a spiritual beauty was the desire of a spiritual
conception engendred in the beloved. The latter was here chiefest;
the corporall, accidentall and second, altogether contrarie to the
lover. And therefore doe they preferre the beloved, and verifie that
the gods likewise preferre the same: and greatly blame the Poet
AEschylus, who in the love betweene Achilles and Patroclus ascribeth
the lovers part unto Achilles, who was in the first and beardlesse
youth of his adolescency, and the fairest of the Graecians. After
this general communitie, the mistris and worthiest part of it,
predominant and exercising her offices (they say the most availefull
commodity did thereby redound both to the private and publike). That
it was the force of countries received the use of it, and the
principall defence of equitie and libertie: witnesse the comfortable
loves of Hermodius and Aristogiton. Therefore name they it sacred
and divine, and it concerns not them whether the violence of
tyrants, or the demisnesse of the people be against them: To
conclude, all that can be alleged in favour of the Academy, is to
say, that it was a love ending in friendship, a thing which hath no
bad reference unto the Stoical definition of love: Amorem conatum
esse amicitiae faciendae ex pulchritudinis specie: [Footnote: Cic.
Tusc. Qu. ir. c. 34. ] "That love is an endevour of making
friendship, by the shew of beautie." I returne to my description in
a more equitable and equall manner. Omnino amicitiae, corroboratis
jam confirmatisque ingeniis et aetatibus, judicandae sunt.
[Footnote: Cic. Amic.] "Clearely friendships are to be judged by
wits, and ages already strengthened and confirmed." As for the rest,
those we ordinarily call friendes and amities, are but acquaintances
and familiarities, tied together by some occasion or commodities, by
meanes whereof our mindes are entertained. In the amitie I speake
of, they entermixe and confound themselves one in the other, with so
universall a commixture, that they weare out and can no more finde
the seame that hath conjoined them together. If a man urge me to
tell wherefore I loved him, I feele it cannot be expressed, but by
answering; Because it was he, because it was my selfe. There is
beyond all my discourse, and besides what I can particularly report
of it, I know not what inexplicable and fatall power, a meane and
Mediatrix of this indissoluble union. We sought one another before
we had scene one another, and by the reports we heard one of
another; which wrought a greater violence in us, than the reason of
reports may well beare; I thinke by some secret ordinance of the
heavens, we embraced one another by our names. And at our first
meeting, which was by chance at a great feast, and solemne meeting
of a whole towneship, we found our selves so surprized, so knowne,
so acquainted, and so combinedly bound together, that from thence
forward, nothing was so neer unto us as one unto anothers. He writ
an excellent Latyne Satyre since published; by which he excuseth and
expoundeth the precipitation of our acquaintance, so suddenly come
to her perfection; Sithence it must continue so short a time, and
begun so late (for we were both growne men, and he some yeares older
than my selfe) there was no time to be lost. And it was not to bee
modelled or directed by the paterne of regular and remisse
[Footnote: Slight, languid.] friendship, wherein so many precautions
of a long and preallable conversation [Footnote: Preceding
intercourse.] are required. This hath no other Idea than of it
selfe, and can have no reference but to itselfe. It is not one
especiall consideration, nor two, nor three, nor foure, nor a
thousand: It is I wot not what kinde of quintessence, of all this
commixture, which having seized all my will, induced the same to
plunge and lose it selfe in his, which likewise having seized all
his will, brought it to lose and plunge it selfe in mine, with a
mutuall greedinesse, and with a semblable concurrance. I may truly
say, lose, reserving nothing unto us, that might properly be called
our owne, nor that was either his or mine. When Lelius in the
presence of the Romane Consuls, who after the condemnation of
Tiberius Gracchus, pursued all those that had beene of his
acquaintance, came to enquire of Caius Blosius (who was one of his
chiefest friends) what he would have done for him, and that he
answered, "All things." "What, all things?" replied he. "And what if
he had willed thee to burne our Temples?" Blosius answered, "He
would never have commanded such a thing." "But what if he had done
it?" replied Lelius. The other answered, "I would have obeyed him."
If hee were so perfect a friend to Gracchus as Histories report, he
needed not offend the Consuls with this last and bold confession,
and should not have departed from the assurance hee had of Gracchus
his minde. But yet those who accuse this answer as seditious,
understand not well this mysterie: and doe not presuppose in what
termes he stood, and that he held Gracchus his will in his sleeve,
both by power and knowledge. They were rather friends than Citizens,
rather friends than enemies of their countrey, or friends of
ambition and trouble. Having absolutely committed themselves one to
another, they perfectly held the reines of one anothers inclination:
and let this yoke be guided by vertue and conduct of reason (because
without them it is altogether impossible to combine and proportion
the same). The answer of Blosius was such as it should be. If their
affections miscarried, according to my meaning, they were neither
friends one to other, nor friends to themselves. As for the rest,
this answer sounds no more than mine would doe, to him that would in
such sort enquire of me; if your will should command you to kill
your daughter, would you doe it? and that I should consent unto it:
for, that beareth no witnesse of consent to doe it: because I am not
in doubt of my will, and as little of such a friends will. It is not
in the power of the worlds discourse to remove me from the
certaintie I have of his intentions and judgments of mine: no one of
its actions might be presented unto me, under what shape soever, but
I would presently finde the spring and motion of it. Our mindes have
jumped [Footnote: Agreed.] so unitedly together, they have with so
fervent an affection considered of each other, and with like
affection so discovered and sounded, even to the very bottome of
each others heart and entrails, that I did not only know his, as
well as mine owne, but I would (verily) rather have trusted him
concerning any matter of mine, than my selfe. Let no man compare any
of the other common friendships to this. I have as much knowledge of
them as another, yea of the perfectest of their kinde: yet wil I not
perswade any man to confound their rules, for so a man might be
deceived. In these other strict friendships a man must march with
the bridle of wisdome and precaution in his hand: the bond is not so
strictly tied but a man may in some sort distrust the same. Love him
(said Chilon) as if you should one day hate him againe. Hate him as
if you should love him againe. This precept, so abhominable in this
soveraigne and mistris Amitie, is necessarie and wholesome in the
use of vulgar and customarie friendships: toward which a man must
employ the saying Aristotle was wont so often repeat, "Oh you my
friends, there is no perfect friend."

In this noble commerce, offices and benefits (nurses of other
amities) deserve not so much as to bee accounted of: this confusion
so full of our wills is cause of it: for even as the friendship I
beare unto my selfe, admits no accrease, [Footnote: Increase.] by
any succour I give my selfe in any time of need, whatsoever the
Stoickes allege; and as I acknowledge no thanks unto my selfe for
any service I doe unto myselfe, so the union of such friends, being
truly perfect, makes them lose the feeling of such duties, and hate,
and expell from one another these words of division, and difference:
benefit, good deed, dutie, obligation, acknowledgement, prayer,
thanks, and such their like. All things being by effect common
betweene them; wils, thoughts, judgements, goods, wives, children,
honour, and life; and their mutual agreement, being no other than
one soule in two bodies, according to the fit definition of
Aristotle, they can neither lend or give ought to each other. See
here the reason why Lawmakers, to honour marriage with some
imaginary resemblance of this divine bond, inhibite donations
between husband and wife; meaning thereby to inferre, that all
things should peculiarly bee proper to each of them, and that they
have nothing to divide and share together. If in the friendship
whereof I speake, one might give unto another, the receiver of the
benefit should binde his fellow. For, each seeking more than any
other thing to doe each other good, he who yeelds both matter and
occasion, is the man sheweth himselfe liberall, giving his friend
that contentment, to effect towards him what he desireth most. When
the Philosopher Diogenes wanted money, he was wont to say that he
redemanded the same of his friends, and not that he demanded it: And
to show how that is practised by effect, I will relate an ancient
singular example. Eudamidas the Corinthiam had two friends:
Charixenus a Sycionian, and Aretheus a Corinthian; being upon his
death-bed, and very poore, and his two friends very rich, thus made
his last will and testament: "To Aretheus, I bequeath the keeping of
my mother, and to maintaine her when she shall be old: To Charixenus
the marrying of my daughter, and to give her as great a dowry as he
may: and in case one of them shall chance to die before, I appoint
the survivor to substitute his charge, and supply his place." Those
that first saw this testament laughed and mocked at the same; but
his heires being advertised thereof, were very well pleased, and
received it with singular contentment. And Charixenus, one of them,
dying five daies after Eudamidas, the substitution being declared in
favour of Aretheus, he carefully and very kindly kept and maintained
his mother, and of five talents that he was worth he gave two and a
halfe in marriage to one only daughter he had, and the other two and
a halfe to the daughter of Eudamidas, whom he married both in one
day. This example is very ample, if one thing were not, which is the
multitude of friends: For, this perfect amity I speake of, is
indivisible; each man doth so wholly give himselfe unto his friend,
that he hath nothing left him to divide else-where: moreover he is
grieved that he is not double, triple, or quadruple, and hath not
many soules, or sundry wils, that he might conferre them all upon
this subject. Common friendships may bee divided; a man may love
beauty in one, facility of behaviour in another, liberality in one,
and wisdome in another, paternity in this, fraternity in that man,
and so forth: but this amitie which possesseth the soule, and swaies
it in all sovereigntie, it is impossible it should be double. If two
at one instant should require helpe, to which would you run? Should
they crave contrary offices of you, what order would you follow?
Should one commit a matter to your silence, which if the other knew
would greatly profit him, what course would you take? Or how would
you discharge your selfe? A singular and principall friendship
dissolveth all other duties, and freeth all other obligations. The
secret I have sworne not to reveale to another, I may without
perjurie impart it unto him, who is no other but my selfe. It is a
great and strange wonder for a man to double himselfe; and those
that talke of tripling know not, nor cannot reach into the height of
it. "Nothing is extreme that hath his like." And he who shal
presuppose that of two I love the one as wel as the other, and that
they enter-love [Footnote: Love mutually.] one another, and love me
as much as I love them: he multiplied! in brotherhood, a thing most
singular, and a lonely one, and than which one alone is also the
rarest to be found in the world. The remainder of this history
agreeth very wel with what I said; for, Eudamidas giveth us a grace
and favor to his friends to employ them in his need: he leaveth them
as his heires of his liberality, which consisteth in putting the
meanes into their hands to doe him good. And doubtlesse the force of
friendship is much more richly shewen in his deed than in Aretheus.
To conclude, they are imaginable effects to him that hath not tasted
them; and which makes me wonderfully to honor the answer of that
young Souldier to Cyrus, who enquiring of him what he would take for
a horse with which he had lately gained the prize of a race, and
whether he would change him for a Kingdome? "No surely, my Liege
(said he), yet would I willingly forgot him to game a true friend,
could I but finde a man worthy of so precious an alliance." He said
not ill, in saying "could I but finde." For, a man shall easily
finde men fit for a superficiall acquaintance; but in this, wherein
men negotiate from the very centre of their harts, and make no spare
of any thing, it is most requisite all the wards and springs be
sincerely wrought and perfectly true. In confederacies, which hold
but by one end, men have nothing to provide for, but for the
imperfections, which particularly doe interest and concerne that end
and respect. It is no great matter what religion my Physician or
Lawyer is of: this consideration hath nothing common with the
offices of that friendship they owe mee. So doe I in the familiar
acquaintances that those who serve me contract with me. I am nothing
inquisitive whether a Lackey be chaste or no, but whether he be
diligent: I feare not a gaming Muletier, so much as if he be weake:
nor a hot swearing Cooke, as one that is ignorant and unskilfull; I
never meddle with saying what a man should doe in the world; there
are over many others that doe it; but what my selfe doe in the

     Mihi sic usus est: Tibi, ut opus est facto, face
     [Footnote: Ter. Heau. act. i. sc. i, 28.]

     So is it requisite for me:
     Doe thou as needfull is for thee.

Concerning familiar table-talke, I rather acquaint my selfe with and
follow a merry conceited [Footnote: Fanciful] humour, than a wise
man: And in bed I rather prefer beauty than goodnesse; and in
society or conversation of familiar discourse, I respect rather
sufficiency, though without Preud'hommie, [Footnote: Probity.] and
so of all things else. Even as he that was found riding upon an
hobby-horse, playing with his children besought him who thus
surprized him not to speake of it untill he were a father himselfe,
supposing the tender fondnesse and fatherly passion which then would
posesse his minde should make him an impartiall judge of such an
action; so would I wish to speake to such as had tried what I speake
of: but knowing how far such an amitie is from the common use, and
how seld scene and rarely found, I looke not to finde a competent
judge. For, even the discourses, which sterne antiquitie hath left
us concerning this subject, seeme to me but faint and forcelesse in
respect of the feeling I have of it; And in that point the effects
exceed the very precepts of Philosophie.

     Nil ego contulerim jucundo sanus amico.
     [Footnote: Hor. 1. i. Sat. vii. 44]

     For me, be I well in my wit,
     Nought, as a merry friend, so fit.

Ancient Menander accounted him happy that had but met the shadow of
a true friend: verily he had reason to say so, especially if he had
tasted of any: for truly, if I compare all the rest of my forepassed
life, which although I have, by the meere mercy of God, past at rest
and ease, and except the losse of so deare a friend, free from all
grievous affliction, with an ever-quietnesse of minde, as one that
have taken my naturall and originall commodities in good payment,
without searching any others: if, as I say, I compare it all unto
the foure yeares I so happily enjoied the sweet company and deare-
deare society of that worthy man, it is nought but a vapour, nought
but a darke and yrkesome light. Since the time I lost him,

             quem semper acerbum,
     Semper honoratum (sic Dii voluistis) habebo,
     [Footnote: Virg. AEn. iii. 49.]

     Which I shall ever hold a bitter day,
     Yet ever honour'd (so my God t' obey),

I doe but languish, I doe but sorrow: and even those pleasures, all
things present me with, in stead of yeelding me comfort, doe but
redouble the griefe of his losse. We were copartners in all things.
All things were with us at halfe; me thinkes I have stolne his part
from him.

   --Nee fas esse iilla me voluptate hic frui
     Decrevi, tantisper dum ille abest meus particeps.
     [Footnote: Ter. Heau. act. i. sc. i, 97.]

     I have set downe, no joy enjoy I may,
     As long as he my partner is away.

I was so accustomed to be ever two, and so enured [Footnote:
Accustomed] to be never single, that me thinks I am but halfe my

     Illam mea si partem animce tulit,
     Maturior vis, quid moror altera.
     Nec charus aeque nec superstes,
     Integer? Ille dies utramque
     Duxit ruinam.
     [Footnote: Hor. 1. ii. Od. xvii.]

     Since that part of my soule riper fate reft me,
     Why stay I heere the other part he left me?
     Nor so deere, nor entire, while heere I rest:
     That day hath in one mine both opprest.

There is no action can betide me, or imagination possesse me, but I
heare him saying, as indeed he would have done to me: for even as he
did excell me by an infinite distance in all other sufficiencies and
vertues, so did he in all offices and duties of friendship.

     Quis desiderio sit pudor aut modus,
     Tam chari capitis?
     [Footnote: Id. 1. i. Od. xxiv.]

     What modesty or measure may I beare,
     In want and wish of him that was so deare?

     O misero frater adempte mihi!
     Omnia tecum una perieruni gaudia nostra.
     Qua tuus in vita dulcis alebat amor.
     [Footnote: CATUL. Eleg. iv. 20, 92, 26, 95.]
     Tu mea, tu moriens fregisti commoda frater.
     [Footnote: Ib. 21.]
     Tecum una tota est nostra sepulta anima,
     Cujus ego interitu tota de mente fugavi
     Hac studia, atque omnes delicias animi
     [Footnote: CATUL. Bl. iv. 94.]
     Alloquar? audiero nunquam tua verba loquentem?
     [Footnote: Ib. 25.]
     Nunquam ego te vita frater amabilior,
     Aspiciam posthac? at certe semper amabo.
     [Footnote: El. i. 9.]

     O brother rest from miserable me,
     All our delights are perished with thee,
     Which thy sweet love did nourish in my breath.
     Thou all my good hast spoiled in thy death:
     With thee my soule is all and whole enshrinde,
     At whose death I have cast out of my minde
     All my mindes sweet-meats, studies of this kinde;
     Never shall I, heare thee speake, speake with thee?
     Thee brother, than life dearer, never see?
     Yet shalt them ever be belov'd of mee.

But let us a little feare this yong man speake, being but sixteene
yeares of age.

Because I have found this worke to have since beene published (and
to an ill end) by such as seeke to trouble and subvert the state of
our common-wealth, nor caring whether they shall reforme it or no;
which they have fondly inserted among other writings of their
invention, I have revoked my intent, which was to place it here. And
lest the Authors memory should any way be interessed with those that
could not thoroughly know his opinions and actions, they shall
understand that this subject was by him treated of in his infancie,
only by way of exercise, as a subject, common, bareworne, and wyer-
drawne in a thousand bookes. I will never doubt but he beleeved what
he writ, and writ as he thought: for hee was so conscientious that
no lie did ever passe his lips, yea were it but in matters of sport
or play: and I know, that had it beene in his choyce, he would
rather have beene borne at Venice than at Sarlac; and good, reason
why: But he had another maxime deepely imprinted in his minde, which
was, carefully to obey, and religiously to submit himselfe to the
lawes, under which he was borne. There was never a better citizen,
nor more affected to the welfare and quietnesse of his countrie, nor
a sharper enemie of the changes, innovations, newfangles, and hurly-
burlies of his time: He would more willingly have imployed the
utmost of his endevours to extinguish and suppresse, than to favour
or further them: His minde was modelled to the patterne of other
best ages. But yet in exchange of his serious treatise, I will here
set you downe another, more pithie, materiall, and of more
consequence, by him likewise produced at that tender age.


I make no doubt but it shall often befall me to speake of things
which are better, and with more truth, handled by such as are their
crafts-masters. Here is simply an essay of my natural faculties, and
no whit of those I have acquired. And he that shall tax me with
ignorance shall have no great victory at my hands; for hardly could
I give others reasons for my discourses that give none unto my
selfe, and am not well satisfied with them. He that shall make
search after knowledge, let him seek it where it is there is nothing
I professe lesse. These are but my fantasies by which I endevour not
to make things known, but my selfe. They may haply one day be knowne
unto me, or have bin at other times, according as fortune hath
brought me where they were declared or manifested. But I remember
them no more. And if I be a man of some reading, yet I am a man of
no remembering, I conceive no certainty, except it bee to give
notice how farre the knowledge I have of it doth now reach. Let no
man busie himselfe about the matters, but on the fashion I give
them. Let that which I borrow be survaied, and then tell me whether
I have made good choice of ornaments to beautifie and set foorth the
invention which ever comes from mee. For I make others to relate
(not after mine owne fantasie but as it best falleth out) what I
cannot so well expresse, either through unskill of language or want
of judgement. I number not my borrowings, but I weigh them. And if I
would have made their number to prevail, I would have had twice as
many. They are all, or almost all, of so famous and ancient names,
that me thinks they sufficiently name themselves without mee. If in
reasons, comparisons, and arguments, I transplant any into my soile,
or confound them with mine owne, I purposely conceale the author,
thereby to bridle the rashnesse of these hastie censures that are so
headlong cast upon all manner of compositions, namely young writings
of men yet living; and in vulgare that admit all the world to talke
of them, and which seemeth to convince the conception and publike
designe alike. I will have them to give Plutarch a barb [Footnote:
Thrust, taunt] upon mine own lips, and vex themselves in wronging
Seneca in mee. My weaknesse must be hidden under such great credits.
I will love him that shal trace or unfeather me; I meane through
clearenesse of judgement, and by the onely distinction of the force
and beautie of my discourses. For my selfe, who for want of memorie
am ever to seeke how to trie and refine them by the knowledge of
their country, knowe perfectly, by measuring mine owne strength,
that my soyle is no way capable of some over-pretious flowers that
therein I find set, and that all the fruits of my increase could not
make it amends. This am I bound to answer for if I hinder my selfe,
if there be either vanitie or fault in my discourses that I perceive
not or am not able to discerne if they be showed me. For many faults
do often escape our eyes; but the infirmitie of judgement consisteth
in not being able to perceive them when another discovereth them
unto us. Knowledge and truth may be in us without judgement, and we
may have judgment without them: yea, the acknowledgement of
ignorance is one of the best and surest testimonies of judgement
that I can finde. I have no other sergeant of band to marshall my
rapsodies than fortune. And looke how my humours or conceites
present themselves, so I shuffle them up. Sometimes they prease out
thicke and three fold, and other times they come out languishing one
by one. I will have my naturall and ordinarie pace scene as loose
and as shuffling as it is. As I am, so I goe on plodding. And
besides, these are matters that a man may not be ignorant of, and
rashly and casually to speake of them. I would wish to have a more
perfect understanding of things, but I will not purchase it so deare
as it cost. My intention is to passe the remainder of my life
quietly and not laboriously, in rest and not in care. There is
nothing I will trouble or vex myselfe about, no not for science it
selfe, what esteeme soever it be of. I doe not search and tosse over
books but for an honester recreation to please, and pastime to
delight my selfe: or if I studie, I only endevour to find out the
knowledge that teacheth or handleth the knowledge of my selfe, and
which may instruct me how to die well and how to live well.

     Has meus ad metas sudet oportet equus.
     [Footnote: Propeet. 1. iv. El. i. 70]

     My horse must sweating runne,
     That this goale may be wonne.

If in reading I fortune to meet with any difficult points, I fret
not my selfe about them, but after I have given them a charge or
two, I leave them as I found them. Should I earnestly plod upon
them, I should loose both time and my selfe, for I have a skipping
wit. What I see not at the first view, I shall lesse see it if I
opinionate my selfe upon it. I doe nothing without blithnesse; and
an over obstinate continuation and plodding contention doth dazle,
dul, and wearie the same: my sight is thereby confounded and
diminished. I must therefore withdraw it, and at fittes goe to
it againe. Even as to judge well of the lustre of scarlet we are
taught to cast our eyes over it, in running over by divers glances,
sodaine glimpses and reiterated reprisings. [Footnote: Repeated
observations.] If one booke seeme tedious unto me I take another,
which I follow not with any earnestnesse, except it be at such
houres as I am idle, or that I am weary with doing nothing. I am
not greatly affected to new books, because ancient Authors are, in
my judgement, more full and pithy: nor am I much addicted to Greeke
books, forasmuch as my understanding cannot well rid [Footnote:
Accomplish.] his worke with a childish and apprentise intelligence.
Amongst moderne bookes meerly pleasant, I esteeme Bocace his
Decameron, Rabelais, and the kisses of John the second (if they
may be placed under this title), worth the paines-taking to reade
them.  As for Amadis and such like trash of writings, they had
never the credit so much as to allure my youth to delight in them.
This I will say more, either boldly or rashly, that this old and
heavie-pased minde of mine will no more be pleased with Aristotle,
or tickled with good Ovid: his facility and quaint inventions,
which heretofore have so ravished me, they can now a days scarcely
entertaine me. I speake my minde freely of all things, yea, of such
as peradventure exceed my sufficiencie, and that no way I hold to
be of my jurisdiction. What my conceit is of them is told also to
manifest the proportion of my insight, and not the measure of things.
If at any time I finde my selfe distasted of Platoes Axiochus, as of
a forceles worke, due regard had to such an Author, my judgement doth
nothing beleeve it selfe: It is not so fond-hardy, or selfe-conceited,
as it durst dare to oppose it selfe against the authority of so
many other famous ancient judgements, which he reputeth his regents
and masters, and with whom hee had rather erre. He chafeth with,
and condemneth himselfe, either to rely on the superficiall sense,
being unable to pierce into the centre, or to view the thing by some
false lustre. He is pleased only to warrant himselfe from trouble
and unrulinesse: As for weaknesse, he acknowledgeth and ingeniously
avoweth the same. He thinks to give a just interpretation to the
apparences which his conception presents unto him, but they are
shallow and imperfect. Most of AEsopes fables have divers senses,
and severall interpretations: Those which Mythologize them, chuse
some kinde of colour well suting with the fable; but for the most
part, it is no other than the first and superficiall glosse: There
are others more quicke, more sinnowie, more essentiall, and more
internall, into which they could never penetrate; and thus thinke
I with them. But to follow my course, I have ever deemed that in
Poesie, Virgil, Lucretius, Catullus, and Horace, doe doubtles by
far hold the first ranke: and especially Virgil in his Georgiks,
which I esteeme to be the most accomplished peece of worke of
Poesie: In comparison of which one may easily discerne, that there
are some passages in the AEneidos to which the Author (had he
lived) would no doubt have given some review or correction: The
fifth booke whereof is (in my mind) the most absolutely perfect. I
also love Lucan, and willingly read him, not so much for his stile,
as for his owne worth and truth of his opinion and judgement. As
for good Terence, I allow the quaintnesse and grace of his Latine
tongue, and judge him wonderfull conceited and apt, lively to
represent the motions and passions of the minde, and the condition
of our manners: our actions make me often remember him. I can never
reade him so often but still I discover some new grace and beautie
in him. Those that lived about Virgil's time, complained that some
would compare Lucretius unto him. I am of opinion that verily it is
an unequall comparison; yet can I hardly assure my selfe in this
opinion whensoever I finde my selfe entangled in some notable
passage of Lucretius. If they were moved at this comparison, what
would they say now of the fond, hardy and barbarous stupiditie of
those which now adayes compare Ariosto unto him? Nay, what
would Ariosto say of it himselfe?

     O seclum insipiens et infacetutn.
     [Footnote: Catul. Epig, xl. 8.]

     O age that hath no wit,
     And small conceit in it.

I thinke our ancestors had also more reason to cry out against those
that blushed not to equall Plautus unto Terence (who makes more show
to be a Gentleman) than Lucretius unto Virgil. This one thing doth
greatly advantage the estimation and preferring of Terence, that the
father of the Roman eloquence, of men of his quality doth so often
make mention of him; and the censure [Footnote: Opinion.] which the
chiefe Judge of the Roman Poets giveth of his companion. It hath
often come unto my minde, how such as in our dayes give themselves
to composing of comedies (as the Italians who are very happy in
them) employ three or foure arguments of Terence and Plautus to make
up one of theirs. In one onely comedy they will huddle up five or
six of Bocaces tales. That which makes them so to charge themselves
with matter, is the distrust they have of their owne sufficiency,
and that they are not able to undergoe so heavie a burthen with
their owne strength. They are forced to finde a body on which they
may rely and leane themselves: and wanting matter of their owne
wherewith to please us, they will have the story or tale to busie
and ammuse us: where as in my Authors it is cleane contrary: The
elegancies, the perfections and ornaments of his manner of speech,
make us neglect and lose the longing for his subject. His
quaintnesse and grace doe still retaine us to him. He is every where
pleasantly conceited, [Footnote: Full of pleasant notions.]

     Liquidus puroque simillimus amni
     [Footnote: Hor. 1. ii. Epist. II. 120.]

     So clearely-neate, so neately-cleare,
     As he a fine-pure River were,

and doth so replenish our minde with his graces that we forget those
of the fable. The same consideration drawes me somewhat further. I
perceive that good and ancient Poets have shunned the affectation
and enquest, not only of fantasticall, new fangled, Spagniolized,
and Petrarchisticall elevations, but also of more sweet and sparing
inventions, which are the ornament of all the Poeticall workes of
succeeding ages. Yet is there no competent Judge that findeth them
wanting in those Ancient ones, and that doth not much more admire
that smoothly equall neatnesse, continued sweetnesse, and
flourishing comelinesse of Catullus his Epigrams, than all the
sharpe quips and witty girds wherewith Martiall doth whet and
embellish the conclusions of his. It is the same reason I spake of
erewhile, as Martiall of himselfe. Minus illi ingenio laborandum
fuit, in cuius locum materia successerat. [Footnote: Mart. Praf. 1.
viii.] "He needed the lesse worke with his wit, in place whereof
matter came in supply." The former without being moved or pricked
cause themselves to be heard lowd enough: they have matter to laugh
at every where, and need not tickle themselves; where as these must
have foraine helpe: according as they have lesse spirit, they must
have more body. They leape on horsebacke, because they are not
sufficiently strong in their legs to march on foot. Even as in our
dances, those base conditioned men that keepe dancing-schooles,
because they are unfit to represent the port and decencie of our
nobilitie, endevour to get commendation by dangerous lofty trickes,
and other strange tumbler-like friskes and motions. And some Ladies
make a better shew of their countenances in those dances, wherein
are divers changes, cuttings, turnings, and agitations of the body,
than in some dances of state and gravity, where they need but simply
to tread a naturall measure, represent an unaffected cariage, and
their ordinary grace; And as I have also seene some excellent
Lourdans, or Clownes, attired in their ordinary worky-day clothes,
and with a common homely countenance, affoord us all the pleasure
that may be had from their art: but prentises and learners that are
not of so high a forme, besmeare their faces, to disguise
themselves, and in motions counterfeit strange visages and antickes,
to enduce us to laughter. This my conception is no where better
discerned than in the comparison betweene Virgils AEneidos and
Orlando Furioso. The first is seene to soare aloft with full-spread
wings, and with so high and strong a pitch, ever following his
point; the other faintly to hover and flutter from tale to tale, and
as it were skipping from bough to bough, always distrusting his owne
wings, except it be for some short flight, and for feare his
strength and breath should faile him, to sit downe at every fields-

     Excursusque breves tentat.
     [Footnote: Virg. AEn. 1. iv. 194.]

     Out-lopes [Footnote: Wanderings out.] sometimes he doth assay,
     But very short, and as he may.

Loe here then, concerning this kinde of subjects, what Authors
please me best: As for my other lesson, which somewhat more mixeth
profit with pleasure, whereby I learne to range my opinions and
addresse my conditions, the Bookes that serve me thereunto are
Plutarke (since he spake [Footnote: Was translated by Angot] French)
and Seneca; both have this excellent commodity for my humour, that
the knowledge I seeke in them is there so scatteringly and loosely
handled, that whosoever readeth them is not tied to plod long upon
them, whereof I am uncapable. And so are Plutarkes little workes and
Senecas Epistles, which are the best and most profitable parts of
their writings. It is no great matter to draw mee to them, and I
leave them where I list. For they succeed not and depend not one of
another. Both jumpe [Footnote: Agree] and suit together, in most
true and profitable opinions: And fortune brought them both into the
world in one age. Both were Tutors unto two Roman Emperours: Both
were strangers, and came from farre Countries; both rich and mighty
in the common-wealth, and in credit with their masters. Their
instruction is the prime and creame of Philosophy, and presented
with a plaine, unaffected, and pertinent fashion. Plutarke is more
uniforme and constant; Seneca more waving and diverse. This doth
labour, force, and extend himselfe, to arme and strengthen vertue
against weaknesse, feare, and vitious desires; the other seemeth
nothing so much to feare their force or attempt, and in a manner
scorneth to hasten or change his pace about them, and to put
himselfe upon his guard. Plutarkes opinions are Platonicall, gentle
and accommodable unto civill societie: Senecaes Stoicall and
Epicurian, further from common use, but in my conceit [Footnote:
Opinion.] more proper, particular, and more solid. It appeareth in
Seneca that he somewhat inclineth and yeeldeth to the tyrannic of
the Emperors which were in his daies; for I verily believe, it is
with a forced judgement he condemneth the cause of those noblie-
minded murtherers of Caesar; Plutarke is every where free and open
hearted; Seneca full-fraught with points and sallies; Plutarke stuft
with matters. The former doth move and enflame you more; the latter
content, please, and pay you better: This doth guide you, the other
drive you on. As for Cicero, of all his works, those that treat of
Philosophie (namely morall) are they which best serve my turne, and
square with my intent. But boldly to confess the truth (for, since
the bars of impudencie were broken downe, all curbing is taken
away), his manner of writing seemeth verie tedious unto me, as doth
all such like stuffe. For his prefaces, definitions, divisions, and
Etymologies consume the greatest part of his works; whatsoever
quick, wittie, and pithie conceit is in him is surcharged and
confounded by those his long and far-fetcht preambles. If I bestow
but one hour in reading them, which is much for me, and let me call
to minde what substance or juice I have drawne from him, for the
most part I find nothing but wind and ostentation in him; for he is
not yet come to the arguments which make for his purpose, and
reasons that properly concerne the knot or pith I seek after. These
Logicall and Aristotelian ordinances are not avail full for me, who
onely endeavour to become more wise and sufficient, and not more
wittie or eloquent. I would have one begin with the last point: I
understand sufficiently what death and voluptuousnesse are: let not
a man busie himselfe to anatomize them. At the first reading of a
booke I seeke for good and solid reasons that may instruct me how to
sustaine their assaults. It is neither grammaticall subtilties nor
logicall quiddities, nor the wittie contexture of choice words or
arguments and syllogismes, that will serve my turne. I like those
discourses that give the first charge to the strongest part of the
doubt; his are but flourishes, and languish everywhere. They are
good for schooles, at the barre, or for Orators and Preachers, where
we may slumber: and though we wake a quarter of an houre after, we
may finde and trace him soone enough. Such a manner of speech is fit
for those judges that a man would corrupt by hooke or crooke, by
right or wrong, or for children and the common people, unto whom a
man must tell all, and see what the event would be. I would not have
a man go about and labour by circumlocutions to induce and winne me
to attention, and that (as our Heralds or Criers do) they shall ring
out their words: Now heare me, now listen, or ho-yes. [Footnote:
Oyez, hear.] The Romanes in their religion were wont to say, "Hoc
age; [Footnote: Do this.] "which in ours we say, "Sursum corda.
[Footnote: Lift up your hearts.] There are so many lost words for
me. I come readie prepared from my house. I neede no allurement nor
sawce, my stomacke is good enough to digest raw meat: And whereas
with these preparatives and flourishes, or preambles, they thinke to
sharpen my taste or stir my stomacke, they cloy and make it
wallowish. [Footnote: Mawkish.] Shall the privilege of times excuse
me from this sacrilegious boldnesse, to deem Platoes Dialogismes to
be as languishing, by over-filling and stuffing his matter? And to
bewaile the time that a man who had so many thousands of things to
utter, spends about so many, so long, so vaine, and idle
interloqutions, and preparatives? My ignorance shall better excuse
me, in that I see nothing in the beautie of his language. I
generally enquire after bookes that use sciences, and not after such
as institute them. The two first, and Plinie, with others of their
ranke, have no Hoc age in them, they will have to doe with men that
have forewarned themselves; or if they have, it is a materiall and
substantial! Hoc age, and that hath his bodie apart I likewise love
to read the Epistles and ad Atticum, not onely because they containe
a most ample instruction of the historic and affaires of his times,
but much more because in them I descrie his private humours. For (as
I have said elsewhere) I am wonderfull curious to discover and know
the minde, the soul, the genuine disposition and naturall judgement
of my authors. A man ought to judge their sufficiencie and not their
customes, nor them by the shew of their writings, which they set
forth on this world's theatre. I have sorrowed a thousand times that
ever we lost the booke that Brutus writ of Vertue. Oh it is a goodly
thing to learne the Theorike of such as understand the practice
well. But forsomuch as the Sermon is one thing and the Preacher an
other, I love as much to see Brutus in Plutarke as in himself: I
would rather make choice to know certainly what talk he had in his
tent with some of his familiar friends, the night fore-going the
battell, than the speech he made the morrow after to his Armie; and
what he did in his chamber or closet, than what in the senate or
market place. As for Cicero, I am of the common judgement, that
besides learning there was no exquisite [Footnote: Overelaborate.]
eloquence in him: He was a good citizen, of an honest, gentle
nature, as are commonly fat and burly men: for so was he: But to
speake truly of thim? full of ambitious vanity and remisse niceness.
[Footnote: Ineffectual fastidiousness.] And I know not well how to
excuse him, in that he deemed his Poesie worthy to be published. It
is no great imperfection to make bad verses, but it is an
imperfection in him that he never perceived how unworthy they were
of the glorie of his name. Concerning his eloquence, it is beyond
all comparison, and I verily beleeve that none shall ever equall it.
Cicero the younger, who resembled his father in nothing but in name,
commanding in Asia, chanced one day to have many strangers at his
board, and amongst others, one Caestius sitting at the lower end, as
the manner is to thrust in at great mens tables: Cicero inquired of
one of his men what he was, who told him his name, but he dreaming
on other matters, and having forgotten what answere his man made
him, asked him his name twice or thrice more: the servant, because
he would not be troubled to tell him one thing so often, and by some
circumstance to make him to know him better, "It is," said he, "the
same Caestius of whom some have told you that, in respect of his
owne, maketh no accompt of your fathers eloquence:" Cicero being
suddainly mooved, commanded the said poore Caestius to be presently
taken from the table, and well whipt in his presence: Lo heere an
uncivill and barbarous host. Even amongst those which (all things
considered) have deemed his eloquence matchlesse and incomparable,
others there have been who have not spared to note some faults in
it. As great Brutus said, that it was an eloquence broken, halting,
and disjoynted, fractam et elumbem: "Incoherent and sinnowlesse."
Those Orators that lived about his age, reproved also in him the
curious care he had of a certaine long cadence at the end of his
clauses, and noted these words, esse videatur, which he so often
useth. As for me, I rather like a cadence that falleth shorter, cut
like Iambikes: yet doth he sometimes confounde his numbers,
[Footnote: Confuse his rhythm.] but it is seldome: I have especially
observed this one place: "Ego vero me minus diu senem esse mallem,
quam esse senem, antequam essem? [Footnote: Cic. De Senect.] "But I
had rather not be an old man, so long as I might be, than to be old
before I should be." Historians are my right hand, for they are
pleasant and easie; and therewithall the man with whom I desire
generally to be acquainted may more lively and perfectly be
discovered in them than in any other composition: the varictic and
truth of his inward conditions, in grosse and by retale: the
diversitie of the meanes of his collection and composing, and of the
accidents that threaten him. Now those that write of mens lives,
forasmuch as they ammuse and busie themselves more about counsels
than events, more about that which commeth from within than that
which appeareth outward; they are fittest for me: And that's the
reason why Plutarke above all in that kind doth best please me.
Indeed I am not a little grieved that we have not a dozen of
Laertius, or that he is not more knowne, or better understood; for I
am no lesse curious to know the fortunes and lives of these great
masters of the world than to understand the diversitie of their
decrees and conceits. In this kind of studie of historie a man must,
without distinction, tosse and turne over all sorts of Authors, both
old and new, both French and others, if he will learne the things
they so diversly treat of. But me thinkes that Caesar above all doth
singularly deserve to be studied, not onely for the understanding of
the historie as of himselfe; so much perfection and excellencie is
there in him more than in others, although Salust be reckoned one of
the number. Verily I read that author with a little more reverence
and respects than commonly men reade profane and humane Workes:
sometimes considering him by his actions and wonders of his
greatnesse, and other times waighing the puritie and inimitable
polishing and elegancie of his tongue, which (as Cicero saith) hath
not onely exceeded all historians, but haply Cicero himselfe: with
such sinceritie in his judgement, speaking of his enemies, that
except the false colours wherewith he goeth about to cloake his bad
cause, and the corruption and filthinesse of his pestilent ambition,
I am perswaded there is nothing in him to be found fault with: and
that he hath been over-sparing to speake of himselfe; for so many
notable and great things could never be executed by him, unlesse he
had put more of his owne into them than he setteth downe. I love
those Historians that are either very simple or most excellent. The
simple who have nothing of their owne to adde unto the storie and
have but the care and diligence to collect whatsoever come to their
knowledge, and sincerely and faithfully to register all things,
without choice or culling, by the naked truth leave our judgment
more entire and better satisfied.

Such amongst others (for examples sake) plaine and well-meaning
Froissard, who in his enterprise hath marched with so free and
genuine a puritie, that having committed some oversight, he is
neither ashamed to acknowledge nor afraid to correct the same,
wheresoever he hath either notice or warning of it; and who
representeth unto us the diversitie of the newes then current and
the different reports that were made unto him. The subject of an
historie should be naked, bare, and formelesse; each man according
to his capacitie or understanding may reap commoditie out of it. The
curious and most excellent have the sufficiencie to cull and chuse
that which is worthie to be knowne and may select of two relations
that which is most likely: from the condition of Princes and of
their humours, they conclude their counsels and attribute fit words
to them: they assume a just authoritie and bind our faith to theirs.
But truly that belongs not to many. Such as are betweene both (which
is the most common fashion), it is they that spoil all; they will
needs chew our meat for us and take upon them a law to judge, and by
consequence to square and encline the storie according to their
fantasie; for, where the judgement bendeth one way, a man cannot
chuse but wrest and turne his narration that way. They undertake to
chuse things worthy to bee knowne, and now and then conceal either a
word or a secret action from us, which would much better instruct
us: omitting such things as they understand not as incredible: and
haply such matters as they know not how to declare, either in good
Latin or tolerable French. Let them boldly enstall their eloquence
and discourse: Let them censure at their pleasure, but let them also
give us leave to judge after them: And let them neither alter nor
dispense by their abridgements and choice anything belonging to the
substance of the matter; but let them rather send it pure and entire
with all her dimensions unto us. Most commonly (as chiefly in our
age) this charge of writing histories is committed unto base,
ignorant, and mechanicall kind of people, only for this
consideration that they can speake well; as if we sought to learne
the Grammer of them; and they have some reason, being only hired to
that end, and publishing nothing but their tittle-tattle to aime at
nothing else so much. Thus with store of choice and quaint words,
and wyre drawne phrases, they huddle up and make a hodge-pot of a
laboured contexture of the reports which they gather in the market
places or such other assemblies. The only good histories are those
that are written by such as commanded or were imploied themselves in
weighty affaires or that were partners in the conduct of them, or
that at least have had the fortune to manage others of like
qualitie. Such in a manner are all the Graecians and Romans. For
many eye-witnesses having written of one same subject (as it hapned
in those times when Greatnesse and Knowledge did commonly meet) if
any fault or over-sight have past them, it must be deemed exceeding
light and upon some doubtful accident. What may a man expect at a
Phisitians hand that discourseth of warre, or of a bare Scholler
treating of Princes secret designes? If we shall but note the
religion which the Romans had in that, wee need no other example:
Asinius Pollio found some mistaking or oversight in Caesars
Commentaries, whereinto he was falne, only because he could not
possiblie oversee all things with his owne eyes that hapned in his
Armie, but was faine to rely on the reports of particular men, who
often related untruths unto him: or else because he had not been
curiously advertized [Footnote: Minutely informed.] and distinctly
enformed by his Lieutenants and Captaines of such matters as they in
his absence had managed or effected. Whereby may be seen that
nothing is so hard or so uncertaine to be found out as the
certaintie of the truth, sithence [Footnote: Since.] no man can put
any assured confidence concerning the truth of a battel, neither in
the knowledge of him that was Generall or commanded over it, nor in
the soldiers that fought, of anything that hath hapned amongst them;
except after the manner of a strict point of law, the severall
witnesses are brought and examined face to face, and that all
matters be nicely and thorowly sifted by the objects and trials of
the successe of every accident. Verily the knowledge we have of our
owne affaires is much more barren and feeble. But this hath
sufficiently been handled by Bodin, and agreeing with my conception.
Somewhat to aid the weaknesse of my memorie and to assist her great
defects; for it hath often been my chance to light upon bookes which
I supposed to be new and never to have read, which I had not
understanding diligently read and run over many years before, and
all bescribled with my notes; I have a while since accustomed my
selfe to note at the end of my booke (I meane such as I purpose to
read but once) the time I made an end to read it, and to set downe
what censure or judgement I gave of it; that so it may at least at
another time represent unto my mind the aire and generall idea I had
conceived of the Author in reading him. I will here set downe the
Copie of some of my annotations, and especially what I noted upon my
Guicciardine about ten yeares since: (For what language soever my
books speake unto me I speake unto them in mine owne.) He is a
diligent Historiographer and from whom in my conceit a man may as
exactly learne the truth of such affaires as passed in his time, as
of any other writer whatsoever: and the rather because himselfe hath
been an Actor of most part of them and in verie honourable place.
There is no signe or apparance that ever he disguised or coloured
any matter, either through hatred, malice, favour, or vanitie;
whereof the free and impartiall judgements he giveth of great men,
and namely of those by whom he had been advanced or imployed in his
important charges, as of Pope Clement the seaventh, beareth
undoubted testimony. Concerning the parts wherein he most goeth
about to prevaile, which are his digressions and discourses, many of
them are verie excellent and enriched with faire ornaments, but he
hath too much pleased himselfe in them: for endeavouring to omit
nothing that might be spoken, having so full and large a subject,
and almost infinite, he proveth somewhat languishing, and giveth a
taste of a kind of scholasticall tedious babling. Moreover, I have
noted this, that of so severall and divers armes, successes, and
effects he judgeth of; of so many and variable motives, alterations,
and counsels, that he relateth, he never referreth any one unto
vertue, religion or conscience: as if they were all extinguished and
banished the world. And of all actions how glorious soever in
apparance they be of themselves, he doth ever impute the cause of
them to some vicious and blame-worthie occasion, or to some
commoditie and profit. It is impossible to imagine that amongst so
infinite a number of actions whereof he judgeth, some one have not
been produced and compassed by way of reason. No corruption could
ever possesse men so universally but that some one must of necessity
escape the contagion; which makes me to feare he hath had some
distaste or blame in his passion, and it hath haply fortuned that he
hath judged or esteemed of others according to himselfe. In my
Philip de Comines there is this: In him you shall find a pleasing-
sweet and gently-gliding speech, fraught with a purely sincere
simplicitie, his narration pure and unaffected, and wherein the
Authours unspotted good meaning doth evidently appeare, void of all
manner of vanitie or ostentation speaking of himselfe, and free from
all affection or envie-speaking of others; his discourses and
perswasions accompanied more with a well-meaning zeale and meere
[Footnote: Pure.] veritie than with any laboured and exquisite
sufficiencie, and allthrough with gravitie and authoritie,
representing a man well-borne and brought up in high negotiations.
Upon the Memoires and historic of Monsieur du Bellay: It is ever a
well-pleasing thing to see matters written by those that have as
said how and in what manner they ought to be directed and managed:
yet can it not be denied but that in both these Lords there will
manifestly appeare a great declination from a free libertie of
writing, which clearely shineth in ancient writers of their kind: as
in the Lord of louinille, familiar unto Saint Lewis; Eginard,
Chancellor unto Charlemaine; and of more fresh memorie in Philip de
Comines. This is rather a declamation or pleading for King Francis
against the Emperour Charles the fifth, than an Historic. I will not
beleeve they have altered or changed any thing concerning the
generalitie of matters, but rather to wrest and turne the judgement
of the events many times against reason, to our advantage, and to
omit whatsoever they supposed to be doubtful or ticklish in their
masters life: they have made a business of it: witnesse the
recoylings of the Lords of Momorancy and Byron, which therein are
forgotten; and which is more, you shall not so much as find the name
of the Ladie of Estampes mentioned at all. A man may sometimes
colour and haply hide secret actions, but absolutely to conceal that
which all the world knoweth, and especially such things as have
drawne-on publike effects, and of such consequence, it is an
inexcusable defect, or as I may say unpardonable oversight. To
conclude, whosoever desireth to have perfect information and
knowledge of king Francis the first, and of the things hapned in his
time, let him addresse himselfe elsewhere if he will give any credit
unto me. The profit he may reap here is by the particular
description of the battels and exploits of warre wherein these
gentlemen were present; some privie conferences, speeches, or secret
actions of some princes that then lived, and the practices managed,
or negotiations directed by the Lord of Langeay, in which doubtless
are verie many things well worthy to be knowne, and diverse
discourses not vulgare.








Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve, the foremost French critic of the
nineteenth century, and, in the view of many, the greatest literary
critic of the world, was born at Boulogne-sur-Mer, December 23,
1804. He studied medicine, but soon abandoned it for literature; and
before he gave himself up to criticism he made some mediocre
attempts in poetry and fiction. He became professor at the College
de France and the Ecole Normale and was appointed Senator in 1865. A
course of lectures given at Lausanne in 1837 resulted in his great
"Histoire de Port-Royal" and another given at Liege in his
"Chateaubriand et son groupe litteraire." But his most famous
productions were his critical essays published periodically in the
"Constitutionnel" the "Moniteur" and the "Temps" later collected in
sets under the names of "Critiques et Portraits Litteraires"
"Portraits Contemporains" "Causeries du Lundi" and "Nouveaux
Lundis." At the height of his vogue, these Monday essays were events
of European importance. He died in 1869.

Sainte-Beuve's work was much more than literary criticism as that
type of writing had been generally conceived before his time. In
place of the mere classification of books and the passing of a
judgment upon them as good or bad, he sought to illuminate and
explain by throwing light on a literary work from a study of the
life, circumstances, and aim of the writer, and by a comparison with
the literature of other times and countries. Thus his work was
historical, psychological, and ethical, as well as esthetic, and
demanded vast learning and a literary outlook of unparalleled
breadth. In addition to this equipment he had fine taste and an
admirable style; and by his universality, penetration, and balance
he raised to a new level the profession of critic.


While the good ship France is taking a somewhat haphazard course,
getting into unknown seas, and preparing to double what the pilots
(if there is a pilot) call the Stormy Cape, while the look-out at
the mast-head thinks he sees the spectre of the giant Adamastor
rising on the horizon, many honourable and peaceable men continue
their work and studies all the same, and follow out to the end, or
as far as they can, their favourite hobbies. I know, at the present
time, a learned man who is collating more carefully than has ever
yet been done the different early editions of Rabelais--editions,
mark you, of which only one copy remains, of which a second is not
to be found: from the careful collation of the texts some literary
and maybe philosophical result will be derived with regard to the
genius of the French Lucian-Aristophanes. I know another scholar
whose devotion and worship is given to a very different man--to
Bossuet: he is preparing a complete, exact, detailed history of the
life and works of the great bishop. And as tastes differ, and "human
fancy is cut into a thousand shapes" (Montaigne said that),
Montaigne also has his devotees, he who, himself, was so little of
one: a sect is formed round him. In his lifetime he had Mademoiselle
de Gournay, his daughter of alliance, who was solemnly devoted to
him; and his disciple, Charron, followed him closely, step by step,
only striving to arrange his thoughts with more order and method. In
our time amateurs, intelligent men, practice the religion under
another form: they devote themselves to collecting the smallest
traces of the author of the Essays, to gathering up the slightest
relics, and Dr. Payen may be justly placed at the head of the group.
For years he has been preparing a book on Montaigne, of which the
title will be--"Michel de Montaigne, a collection of unedited or
little known facts about the author of the Essays, his book, and his
other writings, about his family, his friends, his admirers, his

While awaiting the conclusion of the book, the occupation and
amusement of a lifetime, Dr. Payen keeps us informed in short
pamphlets of the various works and discoveries made about Montaigne.

If we separate the discoveries made during the last five or six
years from the jumble of quarrels, disputes, cavilling, quackery,
and law-suits (for there have been all those), they consist in this-

In 1846 M. Mace found in the (then) Royal Library, amongst the
"Collection Du Puys," a letter of Montaigne, addressed to the king,
Henri IV., September 2, 1590.

In 1847 M. Payen printed a letter, or a fragment of a letter of
Montaigne of February 16, 1588, a letter corrupt and incomplete,
coming from the collection of the Comtesse Boni de Castellane.

But, most important of all, in 1848, M. Horace de Viel-Castel found
in London, at the British Museum, a remarkable letter of Montaigne,
May 22, 1585, when Mayor of Bordeaux, addressed to M. de Matignon,
the king's lieutenant in the town. The great interest of the letter
is that it shows Montaigne for the first time in the full discharge
of his office with all the energy and vigilance of which he was
capable. The pretended idler was at need much more active than he
was ready to own.

M. Detcheverry, keeper of the records to the mayoralty of Bordeaux,
found and published (1850) a letter of Montaigne, while mayor, to
the Jurats, or aldermen of the town, July 30, 1585.

M. Achille Jubinal found among the manuscripts of the National
Library, and published (1850), a long, remarkable letter from
Montaigne to the king, Henri IV., January 18, 1590, which happily
coincides with that already found by M. Mace.

Lastly, to omit nothing and do justice to all, in a "Visit to
Montaigne's Chateau in Perigord," of which the account appeared in
1850, M. Bertrand de Saint-Germain described the place and pointed
out the various Greek and Latin inscriptions that may still be read
in Montaigne's tower in the third-storey chamber (the ground floor
counting as the first), which the philosopher made his library and

M. Payen, collecting together and criticising in his last pamphlet
the various notices and discoveries, not all of equal importance,
allowed himself to be drawn into some little exaggeration of praise;
but we cannot blame him. Admiration, when applied to such noble,
perfectly innocent, and disinterested subjects, is truly a spark of
the sacred fire: it produces research that a less ardent zeal would
quickly leave aside, and sometimes leads to valuable results.
However, it would be well for those who, following M. Payen's
example, intelligently understand and greatly admire Montaigne, to
remember, even in their ardour, the advice of the wise man and the
master. "There is more to do," said he, speaking of the commentators
of his time, "in interpreting the interpretations than in
interpreting the things themselves; and more bdoks about books than
on any other subject. We do nothing, but everything swarms with
commentators; of authors there is a great rarity." Authors are of
great price and very scared at all times--that is to say, authors
who really increase the sum of human knowledge. I should like all
who write on Montaigne, and give us the details of their researches
and discoveries, to imagine one thing,--Montaigne himself reading
and criticising them. "What would he think of me and the manner in
which I am going to speak of him to the public?" If such a question
was put, how greatly it would suppress useless phrases and shorten
idle discussions! M. Payen's last pamphlet was dedicated to a man
who deserves equally well of Montaigne--M. Gustave Brunet, of
Bordeaux. He, speaking of M. Payen, in a work in which he pointed
out interesting and various corrections of Montaigne's text, said:
"May he soon decide to publish the fruits of his researches: he will
have left nothing for future Montaignologues" Montaignologues! Great
Heaven! what would Montaigne say of such a word coined in his
honour? You who occupy yourselves so meritoriously with him, but who
have, I think, no claim to appropriate him to yourselves, in the
name of him whom you love, and whom we all love by a greater or
lesser title, never, I beg of you, use such words; they smack of the
brotherhood and the sect, of pedantry and of the chatter of the
schools--things utterly repugnant to Montaigne.

Montaigne had a simple, natural, affable mind, and a very happy
disposition. Sprung from an excellent father, who, though of no
great education, entered with real enthusiasm into the movement of
the Renaissance and all the liberal novelties of his time, the son
corrected the excessive enthusiasm, vivacity, and tenderness he
inherited by a great refinement and justness of reflection; but he
did not abjure the original groundwork. It is scarcely more than
thirty years ago that whenever the sixteenth century was mentioned
it was spoken of as a barbarous epoch, Montaigne only excepted:
therein lay error and ignorance. The sixteenth century was a great
century, fertile, powerful, learned, refined in parts, although in
some aspects it was rough, violent, and seemingly coarse. What it
particularly lacked was taste, if by taste is meant the faculty of
clear and perfect selection, the extrication of the elements of the
beautiful. But in the succeeding centuries taste quickly became
distaste. If, however, in literature it was crude, in the arts
properly so-called, in those of the hand and the chisel, the
sixteenth century, even in France, is, in the quality of taste, far
greater than the two succeeding centuries: it is neither meagre nor
massive, heavy nor distorted. In art its taste is rich and of fine
quality,--at once unrestrained and complex, ancient and modern,
special to itself and original. In the region of morals it is
unequal and mixed. It was an age of contrasts, of contrasts in all
their crudity, an age of philosophy and fanaticism, of scepticism
and strong faith. Everything was at strife and in collision; nothing
was blended and united. Everything was in ferment; it was a period
of chaos; every ray of light caused a storm. It was not a gentle
age, or one we can call an age of light, but an age of struggle and
combat. What distinguished Montaigne and made a phenomenon of him
was, that in such an age he should have possessed moderation,
caution, and order.

Born on the last day of February, 1533, taught the ancient languages
as a game while still a child, waked even in his cradle by the sound
of musical instruments, he seemed less fitted for a rude and violent
epoch than for the commerce and sanctuary of the muses. His rare
good sense corrected what was too ideal and poetical in his early
education; but he preserved the happy faculty of saying everything
with freshness and wit. Married, when past thirty, to an estimable
woman who was his companion for twenty-eight years, he seems to have
put passion only into friendship. He immortalised his love for
Etienne de la Boetie, whom he lost after four years of the sweetest
and closest intimacy. For some time counsellor in the Parliament of
Bordeaux, Montaigne, before he was forty, retired from public life,
and flung away ambition to live in his tower of Montaigne, enjoying
his own society and his own intellect, entirely given up to his own
observations and thoughts, and to the busy idleness of which we know
all the sports and fancies. The first edition of the Essays appeared
in 1580, consisting of only two books, and in a form representing
only the first rough draft of what we have in the later editions.
The same year Montaigne set out on a voyage to Switzerland and
Italy. It was during that voyage that the aldermen of Bordeaux
elected him mayor of their town. At first he refused and excused
himself, but warned that it would be well to accept, and enjoined by
the king, he took the office, "the more beautiful," he said, "that
there was neither renunciation nor gain other than the honour of its
performance." He filled the office for four years, from July 1582 to
July 1586, being re-elected after the first two years. Thus
Montaigne, at the age of fifty, and a little against his will, re-
entered public life when the country was on the eve of civil
disturbances which, quieted and lulled to sleep for a while, broke
out more violently at the cry of the League. Although, as a rule,
lessons serve for nothing, since the art of wisdom and happiness
cannot be taught, let us not deny ourselves the pleasure of
listening to Montaigne; let us look on his wisdom and happiness; let
him speak of public affairs, of revolutions and disturbances, and of
his way of conducting himself with regard to them. We do not put
forward a model, but we offer our readers an agreeable recreation.

Although Montaigne lived in so agitated and stormy a time, a period
that a man who had lived through the Terror (M. Daunou) called the
most tragic century in all history, he by no means regarded his age
as the worst of ages. He was not of those prejudiced and afflicted
persons, who, measuring everything by their visual horizon, valuing
everything according to their present sensations, alway declare that
the disease they suffer from is worse than any ever before
experienced by a human being. He was like Socrates, who did not
consider himself a citizen of one city but of the world; with his
broad and full imagination he embraced the universality of countries
and of ages; he even judged more equitably the very evils of which
he was witness and victim. "Who is it," he said, "that, seeing the
bloody havoc of these civil wars of ours, does not cry out that the
machine of the world is near dissolution, and that the day of
judgment is at hand, without considering that many worse revolutions
have been seen, and that, in the mean time, people are being merry
in a thousand other parts of the earth for all this? For my part,
considering the license and impunity that always attend such
commotions, I admire they are so moderate, and that there is not
more mischief done. To him who feels the hailstones patter about his
ears, the whole hemisphere appears to be in storm and tempest." And
raising his thoughts higher and higher, reducing his own suffering
to what it was in the immensity of nature, seeing there not only
himself but whole kingdoms as mere specks in the infinite, he added
in words which foreshadowed Pascal, in words whose outline and
salient points Pascal did not disdain to borrow: "But whoever shall
represent to his fancy, as in a picture, that great image of our
mother nature, portrayed in her full majesty and lustre, whoever in
her face shall read so general and so constant a variety, whoever
shall observe himself in that figure, and not himself but a whole
kingdom, no bigger than the least touch or prick of a pencil in
comparison of the whole, that man alone is able to value things
according to their true estimate and grandeur."

Thus Montaigne gives us a lesson, a useless lesson, but I state it
all the same, because among the many unprofitable ones that have
been written down, it is perhaps of greater worth than most. I do
not mean to underrate the gravity of the circumstances in which
France is just now involved, for I believe there is pressing need to
bring together all the energy, prudence, and courage she possesses
in order that the country may come out with honour [Footnote: This
essay appeared April 28, 1851]. However, let us reflect, and
remember that, leaving aside the Empire, which as regards internal
affairs was a period of calm, and before 1812 of prosperity, we who
utter such loud complaints, lived in peace from 1815 to 1830,
fifteen long years; that the three days of July only inaugurated
another order of things that for eighteen years guaranteed peace and
in dustrial prosperity; in all, thirty-two years of repose. Stormy
days came; tempests burst, and will doubtless burst again. Let us
learn how to live through them, but do not let us cry out every day,
as we are disposed to do, that never under the sun were such storms
known as we are enduring. To get away from the present state of
feeling, to restore lucidity and proportion to our judgments, let us
read every evening a page of Montaigne.

A criticism of Montaigne on the men of his day struck me, and it
bears equally well on those of ours. Our philosopher says somewhere
that he knows a fair number of men possessing various good
qualities--one, intelligence; another, heart; another, address,
conscience or knowledge, or skill in languages, each has his share:
"but of a great man as a whole, having so many good qualities
together, or one with such a degree of excellence that we ought to
admire him, or compare him with those we honour in the past, my
fortune has never shown me one." He afterwards made an exception in
favour of his friend Etienne de la Boetie, but he belonged to the
company of great men dead before attaining maturity, and showing
promise without having time to fulfil it. Montaigne's criticism
called up a smile. He did not see a true and wholly great man in his
time, the age of L'Hopital, Coligny, and the Guises. Well! how does
ours seem to you? We have as many great men as in Montaigne's time,
one distinguished for his intellect, another for his heart, a third
for skill, some (a rare thing) for conscience, many for knowledge
and language. But we too lack the perfect man, and he is greatly to
be desired. One of the most intelligent observers of our day
recognised and proclaimed it some years ago: "Our age," said M. de
Remusat, "is wanting in great men." [Footnote: Essais de
Philosophie, vol. i, p. 22]

How did Montaigne conduct himself in his duties as first magistrate
of a great city? If we take him literally and on a hasty first
glance we should believe he discharged them slackly and languidly.
Did not Horace, doing the honours to himself, say that in war he one
day let his shield fall (relicta non bene parmula)? We must not be
in too great a hurry to take too literally the men of taste who have
a horror of over-estimating themselves. Minds of a fine quality are
more given to vigilance and to action than they are apt to confess.
The man who boasts and makes a great noise, will, I am almost sure,
be less brave in the combat than Horace, and less vigilant at the
council board than Montaigne.

On entering office Montaigne was careful to warn the aldermen of
Bordeaux not to expect to find in him more than there really was; he
presented himself to them without affectation. "I represented to
them faithfully and conscientiously all that I felt myself to be,--a
man without memory, without vigilance, without experience, and
without energy; but also, without hate, without ambition, without
avarice, and without violence." He should be sorry, while taking the
affairs of the town in hand, that his feelings should be so strongly
affected as those of his worthy father had been, who in the end had
lost his place and health. The eager and ardent pledge to satisfy an
impetuous desire was not his method. His opinion was "that you must
lend yourself to others, and only give yourself to yourself." And
repeating his thought, according to his custom in all kinds of
metaphors and picturesque forms, he said again that if he some times
allowed himself to be urged to the management of other men's
affairs, he promised to take them in hand, not "into my lungs and
liver." We are thus forewarned, we know what to expect. The mayor
and Montaigne were two distinct persons; under his role and office
he reserved to himself a certain freedom and secret security. He
continued to judge things in his own fashion and impartially,
although acting loyally for the cause confided to him. He was far
from approving or even excusing all he saw in his party, and he
could judge his adversaries and say of them: "He did that thing
wickedly, and this virtuously." "I would have," he added, "matters
go well on our side; but if they do not, I shall not run mad. I am
heartily for the right party; but I do not affect to be taken notice
of for an especial enemy to others." And he entered into some
details and applications which at that time were piquant. Let us
remark, however, in order to explain and justify his somewhat
extensive profession of impartiality, that the chiefs of the party
then in evidence, the three Henris, were famous and considerable men
on several counts: Henri, Duke of Guise, head of the League; Henri,
King of Navarre, leader of the Opposition; and the King Henri III.
in whose name Montaigne was mayor, who wavered between the two. When
parties have neither chief nor head, when they are known by the body
only, that is to say, in their hideous and brutal reality, it is
more difficult and also more hazardous to be just towards them and
to assign to each its share of action.

The principle which guided him in his administration was to look
only at the fact, at the result, and to grant nothing to noise and
outward show: "How much more a good effect makes a noise, so much I
abate of the goodness of it." For it is always to be feared that it
was more performed for the sake of the noise than upon the account
of goodness: "Being exposed upon the stall, 'tis half sold." That
was not Montaigne's way: he made no show; he managed men and affairs
as quietly as he could; he employed in a manner useful to all alike
the gifts of sincerity and conciliation; the personal attraction
with which nature endowed him was a quality of the highest value in
the management of men. He preferred to warn men of evil rather than
to take on himself the honour of repressing it: "Is there any one
who desires to be sick that he may see his physician's practice? And
would not that physician deserve to be whipped who should wish the
plague amongst us that he might put his art into practice?" Far from
desiring that trouble and disorder in the affairs of the city should
rouse and honour his govern ment, he had ever willingly, he said,
contributed all he could to their tranquillity and ease. He is not
of those whom municipal honours intoxicate and elate, those
"dignities of office" as he called them, and of which all the noise
"goes from one cross-road to another." If he was a man desirous of
fame, he recognised that it was of a kind greater than that. I do
not know, however, if even in a vaster field he would have changed
his method and manner of proceed ing. To do good for the public
imperceptibly would always seem to him the ideal of skill and the
culminating point of happiness. "He who will not thank me," he said,
"for the order and quiet calm that has accompanied my administration,
cannot, however, deprive me of the share that belongs to me by the
title of my good fortune." And he is inexhaustible in describing in
lively and graceful expressions the kinds of effective and imperceptible
services he believed he had rendered--services greatly superior to
noisy and glorious deeds: "Actions which come from the workman's
hand carelessly and noiselessly have most charm, that some honest
man chooses later and brings from their obscurity to thrust them into
the light for their own sake." Thus fortune served Montaigne to
perfection, and even in his administration of affairs, in difficult
conjunctures, he never had to belie his maxim, nor to step very far
out of the way of life he had planned: "For my part I commend a gliding,
solitary, and silent life." He reached the end of his magistracy almost
satisfied with himself, having accomplished what he had promised
himself, and much more than he had promised others.

The letter lately discovered by M. Horace de Viel-Castel
corroborates the chapter in which Montaigne exhibits and criticises
himself in the period of his public life. "That letter," says M.
Payen, "is entirely on affairs. Montaigne is mayor; Bordeaux, lately
disturbed, seems threatened by fresh agitations; the king's
lieutenant is away. It is Wednesday, May 22, 1585; it is night,
Montaigne is wakeful, and writes to the governor of the province."
The letter, which is of too special and local an interest to be
inserted here, may be summed up in these words:--Montaigne regretted
the absence of Marshal de Matignon, and feared the consequences of
its prolongation; he was keeping, and would continue to keep, him
acquainted with all that was going on, and begged him to return as
soon as his circumstances would permit. "We are looking after our
gates and guards, and a little more carefully in your absence. . . .
If anything important and fresh occurs, I shall send you a messenger
immediately, so that if you hear no news from me, you may consider
that nothing has happened." He begs M. de Matignon to remember,
however, that he might not have time to warn him, "entreating you to
consider that such movements are usually so sudden, that if they do
occur they will take me by the throat without any warning." Besides,
he will do everything to ascertain the march of events beforehand.
"I will do what I can to hear news from all parts, and to that end
shall visit and observe the inclinations of all sorts of men."
Lastly, after keeping the marshal informed of everything, of the
least rumours abroad in the city, he pressed him to return, assuring
him "that we spare neither our care, nor, if need be, our lives to
preserve everything in obedience to the king." Montaigne was never
prodigal of protestations and praises, and what with others was a
mere form of speech, was with him a real undertaking and the truth.

Things, however, became worse and worse: civil war broke out;
friendly or hostile parties (the difference was not great) infested
the country. Montaigne, who went to his country house as often as he
could, whenever the duties of his office, which was drawing near its
term, did not oblige him to be in Bordeaux, was exposed to every
sort of insult and outrage. "I underwent," he said, "the
inconveniences that moderation brings along with it in such a
disease. I was pitied on all hands; to the Ghibelline I was a
Guelph, and to the Guelph a Ghibelline." In the midst of his
personal grievances he could disengage and raise his thoughts to
reflections on the public misfortunes and on the degradation of
men's characters. Considering closely the disorder of parties, and
all the abject and wretched things which developed so quickly, he
was ashamed to see leaders of renown stoop and debase themselves by
cowardly complacency; for in those circumstances we know, like him,
"that in the word of command to march, draw up, wheel, and the like,
we obey him indeed; but all the rest is dissolute and free." "It
pleases me," said Montaigne ironically, "to observe how much
pusillanimity and cowardice there is in ambition; by how abject and
servile ways it must arrive at its end." Despising ambition as he
did, he was not sorry to see it unmasked by such practices and
degraded in his sight. However, his goodness of heart overcoming his
pride and contempt, he adds sadly, "it displeases me to see good and
generous natures, and that are capable of justice, every day
corrupted in the management and command of this confusion. . . . We
had ill-contrived souls enough without spoiling those that were
generous and good." He rather sought in that misfortune an
opportunity and motive for fortifying and strengthening himself.
Attacked one by one by many disagreeables and evils, which he would
have endured more cheerfully in a heap--that is to say, all at once-
-pursued by war, disease, by all the plagues (July 1585), in the
course things were taking, he already asked himself to whom he and
his could have recourse, of whom he could ask shelter and
subsistence for his old age; and having looked and searched
thoroughly all around, he found himself actually destitute and
RUINED. For, "to let a man's self fall plumb down, and from so great
a height, it ought to be in the arms of a solid, vigorous, and
fortunate friendship. They are very rare, if there be any." Speaking
in such a manner, we perceive that La Boetie had been some time
dead. Then he felt that he must after all rely on himself in his
distress, and must gain strength; now or never was the time to put
into practice the lofty lessons he spent his life in collecting from
the books of the philosophers. He took heart again, and attained all
the height of his virtue: "In an ordinary and quiet time, a man
prepares himself for moderate and common accidents; but in the
confusion wherein we have been for these thirty years, every
Frenchman, whether in particular or in general, sees himself every
hour upon the point of the total ruin and overthrow of his fortune."
And far from being discouraged and cursing fate for causing him to
be born in so stormy an age, he suddenly congratulated himself: "Let
us thank fortune that has not made us live in an effeminate, idle
and languishing age." Since the curiosity of wise men seeks the past
for disturbances in states in order to learn the secrets of history,
and, as we should say, the whole physiology of the body social, "so
does my curiosity," he declares, "make me in some sort please myself
with seeing with my own eyes this notable spectacle of our public
death, its forms and symptoms; and, seeing I could not hinder it, am
content to be destined to assist in it, and thereby to instruct
myself." I shall not suggest a consolation of that sort to most
people; the greater part of mankind does not possess the heroic and
eager curiosity of Empedocles and the elder Pliny, the two intrepid
men who went straight to the volcanoes and the disturbances of
nature to examine them at close quarters, at the risk of destruction
and death. But to a man of Montaigne's nature, the thought of that
stoical observation gave him consolation even amid real evils.
Considering the condition of false peace and doubtful truce, the
regime of dull and profound corruption which had preceded the last
disturbances, he almost congratulated himself on seeing their
cessation; for "it was," he said of the regime of Henri III., "an
universal juncture of particular members, rotten to emulation of one
another, and the most of them with inveterate ulcers, that neither
required nor admitted of any cure. This conclusion therefore did
really more animate than depress me." Note that his health, usually
delicate, is here raised to the level of his morality, although what
it had suffered through the various disturbances might have been
enough to undermine it. He had the satisfaction of feeling that he
had some hold against fortune, and that it would take a greater
shock still to crush him.

Another consideration, humbler and more humane, upheld him in his
troubles, the consolation arising from a common misfortune, a
misfortune shared by all, and the sight of the courage of others.
The people, especially the real people, they who are victims and not
robbers, the peasants of his district, moved him by the manner in
which they endured the same, or even worse, troubles than his. The
disease or plague which raged at that time in the country pressed
chiefly on the poor; Montaigne learned from them resignation and the
practice of philosophy. "Let us look down upon the poor people that
we see scattered upon the face of the earth, prone and intent upon
their business, that neither know Aristotle nor Cato, example nor
precept. Even from these does nature every day extract effects of
constancy and patience, more pure and manly than those we so
inquisitively study in the schools." And he goes on to describe them
working to the bitter end, even in their grief, even in disease,
until their strength failed them. "He that is now digging in my
garden has this morning buried his father, or his son. . . . They
never keep their beds but to die." The whole chapter is fine,
pathetic, to the point, evincing noble, stoical elevation of mind,
and also the cheerful and affable disposition which Montaigne said,
with truth, was his by inheritance, and in which he had been
nourished. There could be nothing better as regards "consolation in
public calamities," except a chapter of some not more human, but of
some truly divine book, in which the hand of God should be
everywhere visible, not perfunctorily, as with Montaigne, but
actually and lovingly present. In fact, the consolation Montaigne
gives himself and others is perhaps as lofty and beautiful as human
consolation without prayer can be.

He wrote the chapter, the twelfth of the third book, in the midst of
the evils described, and before they were ended. He concluded it in
his graceful and poetical way with a collection of examples, "a heap
of foreign flowers," to which he furnished only the thread for
fastening them together.

There is Montaigne to the life; no matter how seriously he spoke, it
was always with the utmost charm. To form an opinion on his style
you have only to open him indifferently at any page and listen to
his talk on any subject; there is none that he did not enliven and
make suggestive. In the chapter "Of Liars," for instance, after
enlarging on his lack of memory and giving a list of reasons by
which he might console himself, he suddenly added this fresh and
delightful reason, that, thanks to his faculty for forgetting, "the
places I revisit, and the books I read over again, always smile upon
me with a fresh novelty." It is thus that on every subject he
touched he was continually new, and created sources of freshness.

Montesquieu, in a memorable exclamation, said: "The four great
poets, Plato, Malebranche, Shaftesbury, Montaigne!" How true it is
of Montaigne! No French writer, including the poets proper, had so
lofty an idea of poetry as he had. "From my earliest childhood," he
said, "poetry had power over me to transport and transpierce me." He
considered, and therein shows penetration, that "we have more poets
than judges and interpreters of poetry. It is easier to write than
to understand." In itself and its pure beauty his poetry defies
definition; whoever desired to recognise it at a glance and discern
of what it actually consisted would see no more than "the brilliance
of a flash of lightning." In the constitution and continuity of his
style, Montaigne is a writer very rich in animated, bold similes,
naturally fertile in metaphors that are never detached from the
thought, but that seize it in its very centre, in its interior, that
join and bind it. In that respect, fully obeying his own genius, he
has gone beyond and some times exceeded the genius of language. His
concise, vigorous and always forcible style, by its poignancy,
emphasises and repeats the meaning. It may be said of his style that
it is a continual epigram, or an ever-renewed metaphor, a style that
has only been successfully employed by the French once, by Montaigne
himself. If we wanted to imitate him, supposing we had the power and
were naturally fitted for it--if we desired to write with his
severity, exact proportion, and diverse continuity of figures and
turns--it would be necessary to force our language to be more
powerful, and poetically more complete, than is usually our custom.
Style a la Montaigne, consistent, varied in the series and
assortment of the metaphors, exacts the creation of a portion of the
tissue itself to hold them. It is absolutely necessary that in
places the woof should be enlarged and extended, in order to weave
into it the metaphor; but in defining him I come almost to write
like him. The French language, French prose, which in fact always
savours more or less of conversation, does not, naturally, possess
the resources and the extent of canvas necessary for a continued
picture: by the side of an animated metaphor it will often exhibit a
sudden lacuna and some weak places. In filling this by boldness and
invention as Montaigne did, in creating, in imagining the expression
and locution that is wanting, our prose should appear equally
finished. Style a la Montaigne would, in many respects, be openly at
war with that of Voltaire. It could only come into being and
flourish in the full freedom of the sixteenth century, in a frank,
ingenious, jovial, keen, brave, and refined mind, of an unique
stamp, that even for that time, seemed free and somewhat licentious,
and that was inspired and emboldened, but not intoxicated by the
pure and direct spirit of ancient sources.

Such as he is, Montaigne is the French Horace; he is Horatian in the
groundwork, often in the form and expression, although in that he
sometimes approaches Seneca. His book is a treasure-house of moral
observations and of experience; at whatever page it is opened, and
in what ever condition of mind, some wise thought expressed in a
striking and enduring fashion is certain to be found. It will at
once detach itself and engrave itself on the mind, a beautiful
meaning in full and forcible words, in one vigorous line, familiar
or great. The whole of his book, said Etienne Pasquier, is a real
seminary of beautiful and remarkable sentences, and they come in so
much the better that they run and hasten on without thrusting them
selves into notice. There is something for every age, for every hour
of life: you cannot read in it for any time without having the mind
filled and lined as it were, or, to put it better, fully armed and
clothed. We have just seen how much useful counsel and actual
consolation it contains for an honourable man, born for private
life, and fallen on times of disturbance and revolution. To this I
shall add the counsel he gave those who, like myself and many men of
my acquaintance, suffer from political disturbances without in any
way provoking them, or believing ourselves capable of averting them.
Montaigne, as Horace would have done, counsels them, while
apprehending everything from afar off, not to be too much
preoccupied with such matters in advance; to take advantage to the
end of pleasant moments and bright intervals. Stroke on stroke come
his piquant and wise similes, and he concludes, to my thinking, with
the most delightful one of all, and one, besides, entirely
appropriate and seasonable: it is folly and fret, he said, "to take
out your furred gown at Saint John because you will want it at


A delicate question, to which somewhat diverse solutions might be
given according to times and seasons. An intelligent man suggests it
to me, and I intend to try, if not to solve it, at least to examine
and discuss it face to face with my readers, were it only to
persuade them to answer it for themselves, and, if I can, to make
their opinion and mine on the point clear. And why, in criticism,
should we not, from time to time, venture to treat some of those
subjects which are not personal, in which we no longer speak of some
one but of some thing? Our neighbours, the English, have well
succeeded in making of it a special division of literature under the
modest title of "Essays." It is true that in writing of such
subjects, always slightly abstract and moral, it is advisable to
speak of them in a season of quiet, to make sure of our own
attention and of that of others, to seize one of those moments of
calm moderation and leisure seldom granted our amiable France; even
when she is desirous of being wise and is not making revolutions,
her brilliant genius can scarcely tolerate them.

A classic, according to the usual definition, is an old author
canonised by admiration, and an authority in his particular style.
The word classic was first used in this sense by the Romans. With
them not all the citizens of the different classes were properly
called classici, but only those of the chief class, those who
possessed an income of a certain fixed sum. Those who possessed a
smaller income were described by the term infra classem, below the
preeminent class. The word classicus was used in a figurative sense
by Aulus Gellius, and applied to writers: a writer of worth and
distinction, classicus assiduusque scriptor, a writer who is of
account, has real property, and is not lost in the proletariate
crowd. Such an expression implies an age sufficiently advanced to
have already made some sort of valuation and classification of

At first the only true classics for the moderns were the ancients.
The Greeks, by peculiar good fortune and natural enlightenment of
mind, had no classics but themselves. They were at first the only
classical authors for the Romans, who strove and contrived to
imitate them. After the great periods of Roman literature, after
Cicero and Virgil, the Romans in their turn had their classics, who
became almost exclusively the classical authors of the centuries
which followed. The middle ages, which were less ignorant of Latin
antiquity than is believed, but which lacked proportion and taste,
confused the ranks and orders. Ovid was placed above Homer, and
Boetius seemed a classic equal to Plato. The revival of learning in
the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries helped to bring this long
chaos to order, and then only was admiration rightly proportioned.
Thenceforth the true classical authors of Greek and Latin antiquity
stood out in a luminous background, and were harmoniously grouped on
their two heights.

Meanwhile modern literatures were born, and some of the more
precocious, like the Italian, already possessed the style of
antiquity. Dante appeared, and, from the very first, posterity
greeted him as a classic. Italian poetry has since shrunk into far
narrower bounds; but, whenever it desired to do so, it always found
again and preserved the impulse and echo of its lofty origin. It is
no indifferent matter for a poetry to derive its point of departure
and classical source in high places; for example, to spring from
Dante rather than to issue laboriously from Malherbe.

Modern Italy had her classical authors, and Spain had every right to
believe that she also had hers at a time when France was yet seeking
hers. A few talented writers en dowed with originality and
exceptional animation, a few brilliant efforts, isolated, without
following, interrupted and recommenced, did not suffice to endow a
nation with a solid and imposing basis of literary wealth. The idea
of a classic implies something that has continuance and consistence,
and which produces unity and tradition fashions and transmits
itself, and endures. It was only after the glorious years of Louis
XIV. that the nation felt with tremor and pride that such good
fortune had happened to her. Every voice in formed Louis XIV. of it
with flattery, exaggeration, and emphasis, yet with a certain
sentiment of truth. Then arose a singular and striking contradiction:
those men of whom Perrauit was the chief, the men who were most
smitten with the marvels of the age of Louis the Great, who even
went the length of sacrificing the ancients to the moderns, aimed at
exalting and canonising even those whom they regarded as inveterate
opponents and adversaries. Boileau avenged and angrily upheld the
ancients against Perrault, who extolled the moderns--that is to say,
Corneille, Moliere, Pascal, and the eminent men of his age, Boileau,
one of the first, included. Kindly La Fontaine, taking part in the
dispute in behalf of the learned Huet, did not perceive that, in
spite of his defects, he was in his turn on the point of being held
as a classic himself.

Example is the best definition. From the time France possessed her
age of Louis XIV. and could contemplate it at a little distance, she
knew, better than by any arguments, what to be classical meant. The
eighteenth century, even in its medley of things, strengthened this
idea through some fine works, due to its four great men. Read
Voltaire's Age of Louis XIV., Montesquieu's Greatness and Fall of
the Romans, Buffon's Epochs of Nature, the beautiful pages of
reverie and natural description of Rousseau's Savoyard Vicar, and
say if the eighteenth century, in these memorable works, did not
understand how to reconcile tradition with freedom of development
and independence. But at the be ginning of the present century and
under the Empire, in sight of the first attempts of a decidedly new
and somewhat adventurous literature, the idea of a classic in a few
resist ing minds, more sorrowful than severe, was strangely nar
rowed and contracted. The first Dictionary of the Academy (1694)
merely defined a classical author as "a much-approved ancient
writer, who is an authority as regards the subject he treats." The
Dictionary of the Academy of 1835 narrows that definition still
more, and gives precision and even limit to its rather vague form.
It describes classical authors as those "who have become models in
any language whatever," and in all the articles which follow, the
expressions, models, fixed rules for composition and style, strict
rules of art to which men must conform, continually recur. That
definition of classic was evidently made by the respectable
Academicians, our predecessors, in face and sight of what was then
called romantic--that is to say, in sight of the enemy. It seems to
me time to renounce those timid and restrictive definitions and to
free our mind of them. A true classic, as I should like to hear it
defined, is an author who has enriched the human mind, increased its
treasure, and caused it to advance a step; who has discovered some
moral and not equivocal truth, or revealed some eternal passion in
that heart where all seemed known and discovered; who has expressed
his thought, observation, or invention, in no matter what form, only
provided it be broad and great, refined and sensible, sane and
beautiful in itself; who has spoken to all in his own peculiar
style, a style which is found to be also that of the whole world, a
style new without neologism, new and old, easily contemporary with
all time.

Such a classic may for a moment have been revolutionary; it may at
least have seemed so, but it is not; it only lashed and subverted
whatever prevented the restoration of the balance of order and

If it is desired, names may be applied to this definition which I
wish to make purposely majestic and fluctuating, or in a word, all-
embracing. I should first put there Corneille of the Polyeucte,
Cinna, and Horaces. I should put Moliere there, the fullest and most
complete poetic genius we have ever had in France. Goethe, the king
of critics, said:--

"Moliere is so great that he astonishes us afresh every time we read
him. He is a man apart; his plays border on the tragic, and no one
has the courage to try and imitate him. His Avare, where vice
destroys all affection between father and son, is one of the most
sublime works, and dramatic in the highest degree. In a drama every
action ought to be important in itself, and to lead to an action
greater still. In this respect Tartuffe is a model. What a piece of
exposition the first scene is! From the beginning everything has an
important meaning, and causes something much more important to be
foreseen. The exposition in a certain play of Lessing that might be
mentioned is very fine, but the world only sees that of Tartuffe
once. It is the finest of the kind we possess. Every year I read a
play of Moliere, just as from time to time I contemplate some
engraving after the great Italian masters."

I do not conceal from myself that the definition of the classic I
have just given somewhat exceeds the notion usually ascribed to the
term. It should, above all, include conditions of uniformity,
wisdom, moderation, and reason, which dominate and contain all the
others. Having to praise M. Royer-Collard, M. de Remusat said--"If
he derives purity of taste, propriety of terms, variety of
expression, attentive care in suiting the diction to the thought,
from our classics, he owes to himself alone the distinctive
character he gives it all." It is here evident that the part
allotted to classical qualities seems mostly to depend on harmony
and nuances of expression, on graceful and temperate style: such is
also the most general opinion. In this sense the pre-eminent
classics would be writers of a middling order, exact, sensible,
elegant, always clear, yet of noble feeling and airily veiled
strength. Marie-Joseph Chenier has described the poetics of those
temperate and accomplished writers in lines where he shows himself
their happy disciple:--

"It is good sense, reason which does all,--virtue, genius, soul,
talent, and taste.--What is virtue? reason put in practice;--talent?
reason expressed with brilliance;--soul? reason delicately put
forth;--and genius is sublime reason."

While writing those lines he was evidently thinking of Pope,
Boileau, and Horace, the master of them all. The peculiar
characteristic of the theory which subordinated imagination and
feeling itself to reason, of which Scaliger perhaps gave the first
sign among the moderns, is, properly speaking, the Latin theory, and
for a long time it was also by preference the French theory. If it
is used appositely, if the term reason is not abused, that theory
possesses some truth; but it is evident that it is abused, and that
if, for instance, reason can be confounded with poetic genius and
make one with it in a moral epistle, it cannot be the same thing as
the genius, so varied and so diversely creative in its expression of
the passions, of the drama or the epic. Where will you find reason
in the fourth book of the AEneid and the transports of Dido? Be that
as it may, the spirit which prompted the theory, caused writers who
ruled their inspiration, rather than those who abandoned themselves
to it, to be placed in the first rank of classics; to put Virgil
there more surely than Homer, Racine in preference to Corneille. The
masterpiece to which the theory likes to point, which in fact brings
together all conditions of prudence, strength, tempered boldness,
moral elevation, and grandeur, is Athalie. Turenne in his two last
campaigns and Racine in Athalie are the great examples of what wise
and prudent men are capable of when they reach the maturity of their
genius and attain their supremest boldness.

Buffon, in his Discourse on Style, insisting on the unity of design,
arrangement, and execution, which are the stamps of true classical
works, said:--"Every subject is one, and however vast it is, it can
be comprised in a single treatise. Interruptions, pauses, sub-
divisions should only be used when many subjects are treated, when,
having to speak of great, intricate, and dissimilar things, the
march of genius is interrupted by the multiplicity of obstacles, and
contracted by the necessity of circumstances: otherwise, far from
making a work more solid, a great number of divisions destroys the
unity of its parts; the book appears clearer to the view, but the
author's design remains obscure." And he continues his criticism,
having in view Montesquieu's Spirit of Laws, an excellent book at
bottom, but sub-divided: the famous author, worn out before the end,
was unable to infuse inspiration into all his ideas, and to arrange
all his matter. However, I can scarcely believe that Buffon was not
also thinking, by way of contrast, of Bossuet's Discourse on
Universal History, a subject vast indeed, and yet of such an unity
that the great orator was able to comprise it in a single treatise.
When we open the first edition, that of 1681, before the division
into chapters, which was introduced later, passed from the margin
into the text, very thing is developed in a single series, almost in
one breath. It might be said that the orator has here acted like the
nature of which Buffon speaks, that "he has worked on an eternal
plan from which he has nowhere departed," so deeply does he seem to
have entered into the familiar counsels and designs of providence.

Are Athalie and the Discourse on Universal History the greatest
masterpieces that the strict classical theory can present to its
friends as well as to its enemies? In spite of the admirable
simplicity and dignity in the achievement of such unique
productions, we should like, nevertheless, in the interests of art,
to expand that theory a little, and to show that it is possible to
enlarge it without relaxing the tension. Goethe, whom I like to
quote on such a subject, said:--

"I call the classical healthy, and the romantic sickly. In my
opinion the Nibelungen song is as much a classic as Homer. Both are
healthy and vigorous. The works of the day are romantic, not because
they are new, but because they are weak, ailing, or sickly. Ancient
works are classical not because they are old, but because they are
powerful, fresh, and healthy. If we regarded romantic and classical
from those two points of view we should soon all agree."

Indeed, before determining and fixing the opinions on that matter, I
should like every unbiassed mind to take a voyage round the world
and devote itself to a survey of different literatures in their
primitive vigour and infinite variety. What would be seen? Chief of
all a Homer, the father of the classical world, less a single
distinct individual than the vast living expression of a whole epoch
and a semi-barbarous civilisation. In order to make him a true
classic, it was necessary to attribute to him later a design, a
plan, literary invention, qualities of atticism and urbanity of
which he had certainly never dreamed in the luxuriant development of
his natural inspirations. And who appear by his side? August,
venerable ancients, the AEschyluses and the Sophocles, mutilated, it
is true, and only there to present us with a debris of themselves,
the survivors of many others as worthy, doubtless, as they to
survive, but who have succumbed to the injuries of time. This
thought alone would teach a man of impartial mind not to look upon
the whole of even classical literatures with a too narrow and
restricted view; he would learn that the exact and well-proportioned
order which has since so largely prevailed in our admiration of the
past was only the outcome of artificial circumstances.

And in reaching the modern world, how would it be? The greatest
names to be seen at the beginning of literatures are those which
disturb and run counter to certain fixed ideas of what is beautiful
and appropriate in poetry. For example, is Shakespeare a classic?
Yes, now, for England and the world; but in the time of Pope he was
not considered so. Pope and his friends were the only pre-eminent
classics; directly after their death they seemed so for ever. At the
present time they are still classics, as they deserve to be, but
they are only of the second order, and are for ever subordinated and
relegated to their rightful place by him who has again come to his
own on the height of the horizon.

It is not, however, for me to speak ill of Pope or his great
disciples, above all, when they possess pathos and naturalness like
Goldsmith: after the greatest they are perhaps the most agreeable
writers and the poets best fitted to add charm to life. Once when
Lord Bolingbroke was writing to Swift, Pope added a postscript, in
which he said--"I think some advantage would result to our age, if
we three spent three years together." Men who, without boasting,
have the right to say such things must never be spoken of lightly:
the fortunate ages, when men of talent could propose such things,
then no chimera, are rather to be envied. The ages called by the
name of Louis XIV. or of Queen Anne are, in the dispassionate sense
of the word, the only true classical ages, those which offer
protection and a favourable climate to real talent. We know only to
well how in our untrammelled times, through the instability and
storminess of the age, talents are lost and dissipated.
Nevertheless, let us acknowledge our age's part and superiority in
greatness. True and sovereign genius triumphs over the very
difficulties that cause others to fail: Dante, Shakespeare, and
Milton were able to attain their height and produce their
imperishable works in spite of obstacles, hardships and tempests.
Byron's opinion of Pope has been much discussed, and the explanation
of it sought in the kind of contradiction by which the singer of Don
Juan and Childe Harold extolled the purely classical school and
pronounced it the only good one, while himself acting so
differently. Goethe spoke the truth on that point when he remarked
that Byron, great by the flow and source of poetry, feared that
Shakespeare was more powerful than himself in the creation and
realisation of his characters. "He would have liked to deny it; the
elevation so free from egoism irritated him; he felt when near it
that he could not display himself at ease. He never denied Pope,
because he did not fear him; he knew that Pope was only a low wall
by his side."

If, as Byron desired, Pope's school had kept the supremacy and a
sort of honorary empire in the past, Byron would have been the first
and only poet in his particular style; the height of Pope's wall
shuts out Shakespeare's great figure from sight, whereas when
Shakespeare reigns and rules in all his greatness, Byron is only

In France there was no great classic before the age of Louis XIV.;
the Dantes and Shakespeares, the early authorities to whom, in times
of emancipation, men sooner or later return, were wanting. There
were mere sketches of great poets, like Mathurin Regnier, like
Rabelais, without any ideal, without the depth of emotion and the
seriousness which canonises. Montaigne was a kind of premature
classic, of the family of Horace, but for want of worthy
surroundings, like a spoiled child, he gave himself up to the
unbridled fancies of his style and humour. Hence it happened that
France, less than any other nation, found in her old authors a right
to demand vehemently at a certain time literary liberty and freedom,
and that it was more difficult for her, in enfranchising herself, to
remain classical. However, with Moliere and La Fontaine among her
classics of the great period, nothing could justly be refused to
those who possessed courage and ability.

The important point now seems to me to be to uphold, while
extending, the idea and belief. There is no receipt for making
classics; this point should be clearly recognised. To believe that
an author will become a classic by imitating certain qualities of
purity, moderation, accuracy, and elegance, independently of the
style and inspiration, is to believe that after Racine the father
there is a place for Racine the son; dull and estimable role, the
worst in poetry. Further, it is hazardous to take too quickly and
without opposition the place of a classic in the sight of one's
contemporaries; in that case there is a good chance of not retaining
the position with posterity. Fontanes in his day was regarded by his
friends as a pure classic; see how at twenty-five years' distance
his star has set. How many of these precocious classics are there
who do not endure, and who are so only for a while! We turn round
one morning and are surprised not to find them standing behind us.
Madame de Sevigne would wittily say they possessed but an evanescent
colour. With regard to classics, the least expected prove the best
and greatest: seek them rather in the vigorous genius born immortal
and flourishing for ever. Apparently the least classical of the four
great poets of the age of Louis XIV. was Moliere; he was then
applauded far more than he was esteemed; men took delight in him
without understanding his worth. After him, La Fontaine seemed the
least classical: observe after two centuries what is the result for
both. Far above Boileau, even above Racine, are they not now
unanimously considered to possess in the highest degree the
characteristics of an all-embracing morality?

Meanwhile there is no question of sacrificing or depreciating
anything. I believe the temple of taste is to be rebuilt; but its
reconstruction is merely a matter of enlargement, so that it may
become the home of all noble human beings, of all who have
permanently increased the sum of the mind's delights and
possessions. As for me, who cannot, obviously, in any degree pretend
to be the architect or designer of such a temple, I shall confine
myself to expressing a few earnest wishes, to submit, as it were, my
designs for the edifice. Above all I should desire not to exclude
any one among the worthy, each should be in his place there, from
Shakespeare, the freest of creative geniuses, and the greatest of
classics without knowing it, to Andrieux, the last of classics in
little. "There is more than one chamber in the mansions of my
Father;" that should be as true of the kingdom of the beautiful here
below, as of the kingdom of Heaven. Homer, as always and everywhere,
should be first, likest a god; but behind him, like the procession
of the three wise kings of the East, would be seen the three great
poets, the three Homers, so long ignored by us, who wrote epics for
the use of the old peoples of Asia, the poets Valmiki, Vyasa of the
Hindoos, and Firdousi of the Persians: in the domain of taste it is
well to know that such men exist, and not to divide the human race.
Our homage paid to what is recognized as soon as perceived, we must
not stray further; the eye should delight in a thousand pleasing or
majestic spectacles, should rejoice in a thousand varied and
surprising combinations, whose apparent confusion would never be
without concord and harmony. The oldest of the wise men and poets,
those who put human morality into maxims, and those who in simple
fashion sung it, would converse together in rare and gentle speech,
and would not be surprised at understanding each other's meaning at
the very first word. Solon, Hesiod, Theognis, Job, Solomon, and why
not Confucius, would welcome the cleverest moderns, La Rochefoucauld
and La Bruyere, who, when listening to them, would say "they knew
all that we know, and in repeating life's experiences, we have
discovered nothing." On the hill, most easily discernible, and of
most accessible ascent, Virgil, surrounded by Menander, Tibullus,
Terence, Fenelon, would occupy himself in discoursing with them with
great charm and divine enchantment: his gentle countenance would
shine with an inner light, and be tinged with modesty; as on the day
when entering the theatre at Rome, just as they finished reciting
his verses, he saw the people rise with an unanimous movement and
pay to him the same homage as to Augustus. Not far from him,
regretting the separation from so dear a friend, Horace, in his
turn, would preside (as far as so accomplished and wise a poet could
preside) over the group of poets of social life who could talk
although they sang,--Pope, Boileau, the one become less irritable,
the other less fault-finding. Montaigne, a true poet, would be among
them, and would give the finishing touch that should deprive that
delightful corner of the air of a literary school. There would La
Fontaine forget himself, and becoming less volatile would wander no
more. Voltaire would be attracted by it, but while finding pleasure
in it would not have patience to remain. A little lower down, on the
same hill as Virgil, Xenophon, with simple bearing, looking in no
way like a general, but rather resembling a priest of the Muses,
would be seen gathering round him the Attics of every tongue and of
every nation, the Addisons, Pellissons, Vauvenargues--all who feel
the value of an easy persuasiveness, an exquisite simplicity, and a
gentle negligence mingled with ornament. In the centre of the place,
in the portico of the principal temple (for there would be several
in the enclosure), three great men would like to meet often, and
when they were together, no fourth, however great, would dream of
joining their discourse or their silence. In them would be seen
beauty, proportion in greatness, and that perfect harmony which
appears but once in the full youth of the world. Their three names
have become the ideal of art--Plato, Sophocles, and Demosthenes.
Those demi-gods honoured, we see a numerous and familiar company of
choice spirits who follow, the Cervantes and Molieres, practical
painters of life, indulgent friends who are still the first of
benefactors, who laughingly embrace all mankind, turn man's
experience to gaiety, and know the powerful workings of a sensible,
hearty, and legitimate joy. I do not wish to make this description,
which if complete would fill a volume, any longer. In the middle
ages, believe me, Dante would occupy the sacred heights: at the feet
of the singer of Paradise all Italy would be spread out like a
garden; Boccaccio and Ariosto would there disport themselves, and
Tasso would find again the orange groves of Sorrento. Usually a
corner would be reserved for each of the various nations, but the
authors would take delight in leaving it, and in their travels would
recognise, where we should least expect it, brothers or masters.
Lucretius, for example, would enjoy discussing the origin of the
world and the reducing of chaos to order with Milton. But both
arguing from their own point of view, they would only agree as
regards divine pictures of poetry and nature.

Such are our classics; each individual imagination may finish the
sketch and choose the group preferred. For it is necessary to make a
choice, and the first condition of taste, after obtaining knowledge
of all, lies not in continual travel, but in rest and cessation from
wandering. Nothing blunts and destroys taste so much as endless
journeyings; the poetic spirit is not the Wandering Jew. However,
when I speak of resting and making choice, my meaning is not that we
are to imitate those who charm us most among our masters in the
past. Let us be content to know them, to penetrate them, to admire
them; but let us, the late-comers, endeavour to be ourselves. Let us
have the sincerity and naturalness of our own thoughts, of our own
feelings; so much is always possible. To that let us add what is
more difficult, elevation, an aim, if possible, towards an exalted
goal; and while speaking our own language, and submitting to the
conditions of the times in which we live, whence we derive our
strength and our defects, let us ask from time to time, our brows
lifted towards the heights and our eyes fixed on the group of
honoured mortals: what would that say of us?

But why speak always of authors and writings? Maybe an age is coming
when there will be no more writing. Happy those who read and read
again, those who in their reading can follow their unrestrained
inclination! There comes a time in life when, all our journeys over,
our experiences ended, there is no enjoyment more delightful than to
study and thoroughly examine the things we know, to take pleasure in
what we feel, and in seeing and seeing again the people we love: the
pure joys of our maturity. Then it is that the word classic takes
its true meaning, and is defined for every man of taste by an
irresistible choice. Then taste is formed, it is shaped and
definite; then good sense, if we are to possess it at all, is
perfected in us. We have neither more time for experiments, nor a
desire to go forth in search of pastures newf We cling to our
friends, to those proved by long intercourse. Old wine, old books,
old friends. We say to ourselves with Voltaire in these delightful
lines:--"Let us enjoy, let us write, let us live, my dear Horace!...I
have lived longer than you: my verse will not last so long. But on
the brink of the tomb I shall make it my chief care--to follow the
lessons of your philosophy--to despise death in enjoying life--to
read your writings full of charm and good sense--as we drink an old
wine which revives our senses."

In fact, be it Horace or another who is the author preferred, who
reflects our thoughts in all the wealth of their maturity, of some
one of those excellent and antique minds shall we request an
interview at every moment; of some one of them shall we ask a
friendship which never deceives, which could not fail us; to some
one of them shall we appeal for that sensation of serenity and
amenity (we have often need of it) which reconciles us with mankind
and with ourselves.





Ernest Renan was born in 1823, at Treguier in Brittany. He was
educated for the priesthood, but never took orders, turning at first
to teaching. He continued his studies in religion and philology,
and, after traveling in Syria on a government commission, he
returned to Paris and became professor of Hebrew in the College de
France, from which he was suspended for a time on account of
protests against his heretical teachings. He died in 1892.

Renan's activity divides itself into two parts. The first culminated
in his two great works on the "Origins of Christianity" and on the
"History of Israel." As to the scientific value of these books there
is difference of opinion, as was to be expected in a treatment of
such subjects to the exclusion of the miraculous. But the delicacy
and vividness of his portraits of the great personalities of Hebrew
history, and the acuteness of his analysis of national psychology,
are not to be denied.

The other part of his work is more miscellaneous, but most of it is
in some sense philosophical or autobiographical. Believing
profoundly in scientific method, Renan was unable to find in science
a basis for either ethics or metaphysics, and ended in a skepticism
often ironical, yet not untinged with mysticism.

"He was an amazing writer," says M. Faguet, "and disconcerted
criticism by the impossibility of explaining his methods of
procedure; he was luminous, supple, naturally pliant and yielding;
beneath his apparently effeminate grace an extraordinary strength of
character would suddenly make itself felt; he had, more than any
nineteenth-century writer, the quality of charm; he exercised a
caressing innuence which enveloped, and finally conquered, the

In no kind of writing was Renan's command of style more notable than
in the description of scenery; and in his pictures of his native
Brittany in the essay on "The Poetry of the Celtic Races," as well
as in his analysis of national qualities, two of his most
characteristic powers are admirably displayed.


Every one who travels through the Armorican peninsula experiences a
change of the most abrupt description, as soon as he leaves behind
the district most closely bordering upon the continent, in which the
cheerful but commonplace type of face of Normandy and Maine is
continually in evidence, and passes into the true Brittany, that
which merits its name by language and race. A cold wind arises full
of a vague sadness, and carries the soul to other thoughts; the
tree-tops are bare and twisted; the heath with its monotony of tint
stretches away into the distance; at every step the granite
protrudes from a soil too scanty to cover it; a sea that is almost
always sombre girdles the horizon with eternal moaning. The same
contrast is manifest in the people: to Norman vulgarity, to a plump
and prosperous population, happy to live, full of its own interests,
egoistical as are all these who make a habit of enjoyment, succeeds
a timid and reserved race living altogether within itself, heavy in
appearance but capable of profound feeling, and of an adorable
delicacy in its religious instincts. A like change is apparent, I am
told, in passing from England into Wales, from the Lowlands of
Scotland, English by language and manners, into the Gaelic
Highlands; and too, though with a perceptible difference, when one
buries oneself in the districts of Ireland where the race has
remained pure from all admixture of alien blood. It seems like
entering on the subterranean strata of another world, and one
experiences in some measure the impression given us by Dante, when
he leads us from one circle of his Inferno to another.

Sufficient attention is not given to the peculiarity of this fact of
an ancient race living, until our days and almost under our eyes,
its own life in some obscure islands and peninsulas in the West,
more and more affected, it is true, by external influences, but
still faithful to its own tongue, to its own memories, to its own
customs, and to its own genius. Especially is it forgotten that this
little people, now concentrated on the very confines of the world,
in the midst of rocks and mountains whence its enemies have been
powerless to force it, is in possession of a literature which, in
the Middle Ages, exercised an immense influence, changed the current
of European civilisation, and imposed its poetical motives on nearly
the whole of Christendom. Yet it is only necessary to open the
authentic monuments of the Gaelic genius to be convinced that the
race which created them has had its own original manner of feeling
and thinking, that nowhere has the eternal illusion clad itself in
more seductive hues, and that in the great chorus of humanity no
race equals this for penetrative notes that go to the very heart.
Alas! it too is doomed to disappear, this emerald set in the Western
seas. Arthur will return no more from his isle of faery, and St.
Patrick was right when he said to Ossian, "The heroes that thou
weepest are dead; can they be born again?" It is high time to note,
before they shall have passed away, the divine tones thus expiring
on the horizon before the growing tumult of uniform civilisation.
Were criticism to set itself the task of calling back these distant
echoes, and of giving a voice to races that are no more, would not
that suffice to absolve it from the reproach, unreasonably and too
frequently brought against it, of being only negative?

Good works now exist which facilitate the task of him who undertakes
the study of these interesting literatures. Wales, above all, is
distinguished by scientific and literary activity, not always
accompanied, it is true, by a very rigorous critical spirit, but
deserving the highest praise. There, researches which would bring
honour to the most active centres of learning in Europe are the work
of enthusiastic amateurs. A peasant called Owen Jones published in
1801-7, under the name of the Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales, the
precious collection which is to this day the arsenal of Cymric
antiquities. A number of erudite and zealous workers, Aneurin Owen,
Thomas Price of Crickhowell, William Rees, and John Jones, following
in the footsteps of the Myvyrian peasant, set themselves to finish
his work, and to profit from the treasures which he had collected. A
woman of distinction, Lady Charlotte Guest, charged herself with the
task of acquainting Europe with the collection of the Mabinogion,
[Footnote: The Mabinogion, from the Llyfr Coch O Hergest and other
ancient Welsh Manuscripts, with an English Translation and Notes. By
Lady Charlotte Guest. London and Llandovery, 1837-49. The word
Mabinogi (in the plural Mabinogion) designates a form of romantic
narrative peculiar to Wales. The origin and primitive meaning of
this word are very uncertain, and Lady Guest's right to apply it to
the whole of the narratives which she has published is open to
doubt.] the pearl of Gaelic literature, the completest expression of
the Cymric genius. This magnificent work, executed in twelve years
with the luxury that the wealthy English amateur knows how to use in
his publications, will one day attest how full of life the
consciousness of the Celtic races remained in the present century.
Only indeed the sincerest patriotism could inspire a woman to
undertake and achieve so vast a literary monument. Scotland and
Ireland have in like measure been enriched by a host of studies of
their ancient history. Lastly, our own Brittany, though all too
rarely studied with the philological and critical rigour now exacted
in works of erudition, has furnished Celtic antiquities with her
share of worthy research. Does it not suffice to cite M. de la
Villemarque, whose name will be henceforth associated among us with
these studies, and whose services are so incontestable, that
criticism need have no fear of depreciating him in the eyes of a
public which has accepted him with so much warmth and sympathy?


If the excellence of races is to be appreciated by the purity of
their blood and the inviolability of their national character, it
must needs be admitted that none can vie in nobility with the still
surviving remains of the Celtic race. [Footnote: To avoid all
misunderstanding, I ought to point out that by the word Celtic I
designate here, not the whole of the great race which, at a remote
epoch, formed the population of nearly the whole of Western Europe,
but simply the four groups which, in our days, still merit this
name, as opposed to the Teutons and to the Neo-Latin peoples. These
four groups are: (i) The inhabitants of Wales or Cambria, and the
peninsula of Cornwall, bearing even now the ancient name of Cymry;
(2) the Bretons bretonnants, or dwellers in French Brittany speaking
Bas-Breton, who represent an emigration of the Cymry from Wales; (3)
the Gaels of the North of Scotland speaking Gaelic; (4) the Irish,
although a very profound line of demarcation separates Ireland from
the rest of the Celtic family. [It is also necessary to point out
that Renan in this essay applies the name Breton both to the Bretons
proper, i. e. the inhabitants of Brittany, and to the British
members of the Celtic race.--Translator's Note.]]

Never has a human family lived more apart from the world, and been
purer from all alien admixture. Confined by conquest within
forgotten islands and peninsulas, it has reared an impassable
barrier against external influences; it has drawn all from itself;
it has lived solely on its own capital. From this ersues that
powerful individuality, that hatred of the foreigner, which even in
our own days has formed the essential feature of the Celtic peoples.
Roman civilisation scarcely reached them, and left among them but
few traces. The Teutonic invasion drove them back, but did not
penetrate them. At the present hour they are still constant in
resistance to an invasion dangerous in an altogether different way,-
-that of modern civilisation, destructive as it is of local
variations and national types. Ireland in particular (and herein we
perhaps have the secret of her irremediable weakness) is the only
country in Europe where the native can produce the titles of his
descent, and designate with certainty, even in the darkness of
prehistoric ages, the race from which he has sprung.

It is in this secluded life, in this defiance of all that comes from
without, that we must search for the explanation of the chief
features of the Celtic character. It has all the failings, and all
the good qualities, of the solitary man; at once proud and timid,
strong in feeling and feeble in action, at home free and unreserved,
to the outside world awkward and embarrassed. It distrusts the
foreigner, because it sees in him a being more refined than itself,
who abuses its simplicity. Indifferent to the admiration of others,
it asks only one thing, that it should be left to itself. It is
before all else a domestic race, fitted for family life and fireside
joys. In no other race has the bond of blood been stronger, or has
it created more duties, or attached man to his fellow with so much
breadth and depth. Every social institution of the Celtic peoples
was in the beginning only an extension of the family. A common
tradition attests, to this very day, that nowhere has the trace of
this great institution of relationship been better preserved than in
Brittany. There is a widely-spread belief in that country, that
blood speaks, and that two relatives, unknown one to the other, in
any part of the world wheresoever it may be, recognise each other by
the secret and mysterious emotion which they feel in each other's
presence. Respect for the dead rests on the same principle. Nowhere
has reverence for the dead been greater than among the Briton
peoples; nowhere have so many memories and prayers clustered about
the tomb. This is because life is not for these people a personal
adventure, undertaken by each man on his own account, and at his own
risks and perils; it is a link in a long chain, a gift received and
handed on, a debt paid and a duty done.

It is easily discernible how little fitted were natures so strongly
concentrated to furnish one of those brilliant developments, which
imposes the momentary ascendency of a people on the world; and that,
no doubt, is why the part played externally by the Cymric race has
always been a secondary one. Destitute of the means of expansion,
alien to all idea of aggression and conquest, little desirous of
making its thought prevail outside itself, it has only known how to
retire so far as space has permitted, and then, at bay in its last
place of retreat, to make an invincible resistance to its enemies.
Its very fidelity has been a useless devotion. Stubborn of
submission and ever behind the age, it is faithful to its conquerors
when its conquerors are no longer faithful to themselves. It was the
last to defend its religious independence against Rome--and it has
become the staunchest stronghold of Catholicism; it was the last in
France to defend its political independence against the king--and it
has given to the world the last royalists.

Thus the Celtic race has worn itself out in resistance to its time,
and in the defence of desperate causes. It does not seem as though
in any epoch it had any aptitude for political life. The spirit of
family stifled within it all attempts at more extended organisation.
Moreover, it does not appear that the peoples which form it are by
themselves susceptible of progress. To them life appears as a fixed
condition, which man has no power to alter. Endowed with little
initiative, too much inclined to look upon themselves as minors and
in tutelage, they are quick to believe in destiny and resign
themselves to it. Seeing how little audacious they are against God,
one would scarcely believe this race to be the daughter of Japhet.

Thence ensues its sadness. Take the songs of its bards of the sixth
century; they weep more defeats than they sing victories. Its
history is itself only one long lament; it still recalls its exiles,
its flights across the seas. If at times it seems to be cheerful, a
tear is not slow to glisten behind its smile; it does not know that
strange forgetfulness of human conditions and destinies which is
called gaiety. Its songs of joy end as elegies; there is nothing to
equal the delicious sadness of its national melodies. One might call
them emanations from on high which, falling drop by drop upon the
soul, pass through it like memories of another world. Never have men
feasted so long upon these solitary delights of the spirit, these
poetic memories which simultaneously intercross all the sensations
of life, so vague, so deep, so penetrative, that one might die from
them, without being able to say whether it was from bitterness or

The infinite delicacy of feeling which characterises the Celtic race
is closely allied to its need of concentration. Natures that are
little capable of expansion are nearly always those that feel most
deeply, for the deeper the feeling, the less it tends to express
itself. Thence we have that charming shamefastness, that veiled and
exquisite sobriety, equally far removed from the sentimental
rhetoric too familiar to the Latin races, and the reflective
simplicity of Germany, which are so admirably displayed in the
ballads published by M. de la Villemarque. The apparent reserve of
the Celtic peoples, often taken for coldness, is due to this inward
timidity which makes them believe that a feeling loses half its
value if it be expressed; and that the heart ought to have no other
spectator than itself.

If it be permitted us to assign sex to nations as to individuals, we
should have to say without hesitance that the Celtic race,
especially with regard to its Cymric or Breton branch, is an
essentially feminine race. No human family, I believe, has carried
so much mystery into love. No other has conceived with more delicacy
the ideal of woman, or been more fully dominated by it. It is a sort
of intoxication, a madness, a vertigo. Read the strange Mabinogi of
Peredur, or its French imitation Parceval le Gallois; its pages are,
as it were, dewy with feminine sentiment. Woman appears therein as a
kind of vague vision, an intermediary between man and the
supernatural world. I am acquainted with no literature that offers
anything analogous to this. Compare Guinevere or Iseult with those
Scandinavian furies Gudrun and Chrimhilde, and you will avow that
woman such as chivalry conceived her, an ideal of sweetness and
loveliness set up as the supreme end of life, is a creation neither
classical, nor Christian, nor Teutonic, but in reality Celtic.

Imaginative power is nearly always proportionate to concentration of
feeling, and lack of the external development of life. The limited
nature of Greek and Italian imagination is due to the easy
expansiveness of the peoples of the South, with whom the soul,
wholly spread abroad, reflects but little within itself. Compared
with the classical imagination, the Celtic imagination is indeed the
infinite contrasted with the finite. In the fine Mabinogi of the
Dream of Maxem Wledig, the Emperor Maximus beholds in a dream a
young maiden so beautiful, that on waking he declares he cannot live
without her. For several years his envoys scour the world in search
of her; at last she is discovered in Brittany. So is it with the
Celtic race; it has worn itself out in taking dreams for realities,
and in pursuing its splendid visions. The essential element in the
Celt's poetic life is the adventure--that is to say, the pursuit of
the unknown, an endless quest after an object ever flying from
desire. It was of this that St. Brandan dreamed, that Peredur sought
with his mystic chivalry, that Knight Owen asked of his subterranean
journeyings. This race desires the infinite, it thirsts for it, and
pursues it at all costs, beyond the tomb, beyond hell itself. The
characteristic failing of the Breton peoples, the tendency to
drunkenness--a failing which, according to the traditions of the
sixth century, was the cause of their disasters--is due to this
invincible need of illusion. Do not say that it is an appetite for
gross enjoyment; never has there been a people more sober and more
alien to all sensuality. No, the Bretons sought in mead what Owen,
St. Brandan, and Peredur sought in their own way,--the vision of the
invisible world. To this day in Ireland drunkenness forms a part of
all Saint's Day festivals--that is to say, the festivals which best
have retained their national and popular aspect.

Thence arises the profound sense of the future and of the eternal
destinies of his race, which has ever borne up the Cymry, and kept
him young still beside his conquerors who have grown old. Thence
that dogma of the resurrection of the heroes, which appears to have
been one of those that Christianity found most difficulty in rooting
out. Thence Celtic Messianism, that belief in a future avenger who
shall restore Cambria, and deliver her out of the hands of her
oppressors, like the mysterious Leminok promised by Merlin, the Lez-
Breiz of the Armoricans, the Arthur of the Welsh. [Footnote: M.
Augustin Thierry has finely remarked that the renown attaching to
Welsh prophecies in the Middle Ages was due to their steadfastness
in affirming the future of their race. (Histoire de la Conquete
d'Angleterre.)] The hand that arose from the mere, when the sword of
Arthur fell therein, that seized it, and brandished it thrice, is
the hope of the Celtic races. It is thus that little peoples dowered
with imagination revenge themselves on their conquerors. Feeling
themselves to be strong inwardly and weak outwardly, they protest,
they exult; and such a strife unloosing their might, renders them
capable of miracles. Nearly all great appeals to the supernatural
are due to peoples hoping against all hope. Who shall say what in
our own times has fermented in the bosom of the most stubborn, the
most powerless of nationalities--Poland? Israel in humiliation
dreamed of the spiritual conquest of the world, and the dream has
come to pass.


At a first glance the literature of Wales is divided into three
perfectly distinct distinct branches: the bardic or lyric, which
shines forth in splendour in the sixth century by the works of
Taliessin, of Aneurin, and of Liware'h Hen, and continues through an
uninterrupted series of imitations up to modern times; the
Mabinogion, or literature of romance, fixed towards the twelfth
century, but linking themselves in the groundwork of their ideas
with the remotest ages of the Celtic genius; finally, an
ecclesiastical and legendary literature, impressed with a distinct
stamp of its own. These three literatures seem to have existed side
by side, almost without knowledge of one another. The bards, proud
of their solemn rhetoric, held in disdain the popular tales, the
form of which they considered careless; on the other hand, both
bards and romancers appear to have had few relations with the
clergy; and one at times might be tempted to suppose that they
ignored the existence of Christianity. To our thinking it is in the
Mabinogion that the true expression of the Celtic genius is to be
sought; and it is surprising that so curious a literature, the
source of nearly all the romantic creations of Europe, should have
remained unknown until our own days. The cause is doubtless to be
ascribed to the dispersed state of the Welsh manuscripts, pursued
till last century by the English, as seditious books compromising
those who possessed them. Often too they fell into hands of ignorant
owners whose caprice or ill-will sufficed to keep them from critical

The Mabinogion have been preserved for us in two principal
documents--one of the thirteenth century from the library of
Hengurt, belonging to the Vaughan family; the other dating from the
fourteenth century, known under the name of the Red Book of Hergest,
and now in Jesus College, Oxford. No doubt it was some such
collection that charmed the weary hours of the hapless Leolin in the
Tower of London, and was burned after his condemnation, with the
other Welsh books which had been the companions of his captivity.
Lady Charlotte Guest has based her edition on the Oxford manuscript;
it cannot be sufficiently regretted that paltry considerations have
caused her to be refused the use of the earlier manuscript, of which
the later appears to be only a copy. Regrets are redoubled when one
knows that several Welsh texts, which were seen and copied fifty
years ago, have now disappeared. It is in the presence of facts such
as these that one comes to believe that revolutions--in general so
destructive of the works of the past--are favourable to the
preservation of literary monuments, by compelling their
concentration in great centres, where their existence, as well as
their publicity, is assured.

The general tone of the Mabinogion is rather romantic than epic.
Life is treated naively and not too emphatically. The hero's
individuality is limitless. We have free and noble natures acting in
all their spontaneity. Each man appears as a kind of demi-god
characterised by a supernatural gift. This gift is nearly always
connected with some miraculous object, which in some measure is the
personal seal of him who possesses it. The inferior classes, which
this people of heroes necessarily supposes beneath it, scarcely show
themselves, except in the exercise of some trade, for practising
which they are held in high esteem. The somewhat complicated
products of human industry are regarded as living beings, and in
their manner endowed with magical properties. A multiplicity of
celebrated objects have proper names, such as the drinking-cup, the
lance, the sword, and the shield of Arthur; the chess-board of
Gwendolen, on which the black pieces played of their own accord
against the white; the horn of Bran Galed, where one found whatever
liquor one desired; the chariot of Morgan, which directed itself to
the place to which one wished to go; the pot of Tyrnog, which would
not cook when meat for a coward was put into it; the grindstone of
Tudwal, which would only sharpen brave men's swords; the coat of
Padarn, which none save a noble could don; and the mantle of Tegan,
which no woman could put upon herself were she not above reproach.
[Footnote: Here may be recognised the origin of trial by court
mantle, one of the most interesting episodes in Lancelot of the
Lake.] The animal is conceived in a still more individual way; it
has a proper name, personal qualities, and a role which it develops
at its own will and with full consciousness. The same hero appears
as at once man and animal, without it being possible to trace the
line of demarcation between the two natures.

The tale of Kilhwch and Olwen, the most extraordinary of the
Mabinogion, deals with Arthur's struggle against the wild-boar king
Twrch Trwyth, who with his seven cubs holds in check all the heroes
of the Round Table. The adventures of the three hundred ravens of
Kerverhenn similarly form the subject of the Dream of Rhonabwy. The
idea of moral merit and demerit is almost wholly absent from all
these compositions. There are wicked beings who insult ladies, who
tyrannise over their neighbours, who only find pleasure in evil
because such is their nature; but it does not appear that they incur
wrath on that account. Arthur's knights pursue them, not as
criminals but as mischievous fellows. All other beings are perfectly
good and just, but more or less richly gifted. This is the dream of
an amiable and gentle race which looks upon evil as being the work
of destiny, and not a product of the human conscience. All nature is
enchanted, and fruitful as imagination itself in indefinitely varied
creations. Christianity rarely discloses itself; although at times
its proximity can be felt, it alters in no respect the purely
natural surroundings in which everything takes place. A bishop
figures at table beside Arthur, but his function is strictly limited
to blessing the dishes. The Irish saints, who at one time present
themselves to give their benediction to Arthur and receive favours
at his hands, are portrayed as a race of men vaguely known and
difficult to understand. No mediaeval literature held itself further
removed from all monastic influence. We evidently must suppose that
the Welsh bards and story-tellers lived in a state of great
isolation from the clergy, and had their culture and traditions
quite apart.

The charm of the Mabinogion principally resides in the amiable
serenity of the Celtic mind, neither sad nor gay, ever in suspense
between a smile and a tear. We have in them the simple recital of a
child, unwitting of any distinction between the noble and the
common; there is something of that softly animated world, of that
calm and tranquil ideal to which Ariosto's stanzas transport us. The
chatter of the later mediaeval French and German imitators can give
no idea of this charming manner of narration. The skilful Chretien
de Troyes himself remains in this respect far below the Welsh story-
tellers, and as for Wolfram of Eschenbach, it must be avowed that
the joy of the first discovery has carried German critics too far in
the exaggeration of his merits. He loses himself in interminable
descriptions, and almost completely ignores the art of his recital.

What strikes one at a first glance in the imaginative compositions
of the Celtic races, above all when they are contrasted with those
of the Teutonic races, is the extreme mildness of manners pervading
them. There are none of those frightful vengeances which fill the
Edda and the Niebelungen. Compare the Teutonic with the Gaelic
hero,--Beowulf with Peredur, for example. What a difference there
is! In the one all the horror of disgusting and blood-embrued
barbarism, the drunkenness of carnage, the disinterested taste, if I
may say so, for destruction and death; in the other a profound sense
of justice, a great height of personal pride it is true, but also a
great capacity for devotion, an exquisite loyalty. The tyrannical
man, the monster, the Black Man, find a place here like the
Lestrigons and the Cyclops of Homer only to inspire horror by
contrast with softer manners; they are almost what the wicked man is
in the naive imagination of a child brought up by a mother in the
ideas of a gentle and pious morality. The primitive man of Teutonism
is revolting by his purposeless brutality, by a love of evil that
only gives him skill and strength in the service of hatred and
injury. The Cymric hero on the other hand, even in his wildest
flights, seems possessed by habits of kindness and a warm sympathy
with the weakv. Sympathy indeed is one of the deepest feelings among
the Celtic peoples. Even Judas is not denied a share of their pity.
St. Brandan found him upon a rock in the midst of the Polar seas;
once a week he passes a day there to refresh himself from the fires
of hell. A cloak that he had given to a beggar is hung before him,
and tempers his sufferings.

If Wales has a right to be proud of her Mabinogion, she has not less
to felicitate herself in having found a translator truly worthy of
interpreting them. For the proper understanding of these original
beauties there was needed a delicate appreciation of Welsh
narration, and an intelligence of the naive order, qualities of
which an erudite translator would with difficulty have been capable.
To render these gracious imaginings of a people so eminently dowered
with feminine tact, the pen of a woman was necessary. Simple,
animated, without effort and without vulgarity, Lady Guest's
translation is a faithful mirror of the original Cymric. Even
supposing that, as regards philology, the labours of this noble
Welsh lady be destined to receive improvement, that does not prevent
her book from for ever remaining a work of erudition and highly
distinguished taste. [Footnote: M. de la Villemarque published in
1843 under the title of Cantes populaires des anciens Bretons, a
French translation of the narratives that Guest had already
presented in English at that time.]

The Mabinogion, or at least the writings which Lady Guest thought
she ought to include under this common name, divide themselves into
two perfectly distinct classes--some connected exclusively with the
two peninsulas of Wales and Cornwall, and relating to the heroic
personality of Arthur; the others alien to Arthur, having for their
scene not only the parts of England that have remained Cymric, but
the whole of Great Britain, and leading us back by the persons and
traditions mentioned in them to the later years of the Roman
occupation. The second class, of greater antiquity than the first,
at least on the ground of subject, is also distinguished by a much
more mythological character, a bolder use of the miraculous, an
enigmatical form, a style full of alliteration and plays upon words.
Of this number are the tales of Pwyll, of Bramwen, of Manawyddan, of
Math the son of Mathonwy, the Dream of the Emperor Maximus, the
story of Llud and Llewelys, and the legend of Taliessin. To the
Arthurian cycle belong the narratives of Owen, of Geraint, of
Peredur, of Kilhwch and Olwen, and the Dream of Rhonabwy. It is also
to be remarked that the two last-named narratives have a
particularly antique character. In them Arthur dwells in Cornwall,
and not as in the others at Caerleon on the Usk. In them he appears
with an individual character, hunting and taking a personal part in
warfare, while in the more modern tales he is only an emperor all-
powerful and impassive, a truly sluggard hero, around whom a pleiad
of active heroes groups itself. The Mabinogi of Kilhwch and Olwen,
by its entirely primitive aspect, by the part played in it by the
wild-boar in conformity to the spirit of Celtic mythology, by the
wholly supernatural and magical character of the narration, by
innumerable allusions the sense of which escapes us, forms a cycle
by itself. It represents for us the Cymric conception in all its
purity, before it had been modified by the introduction of any
foreign element. Without attempting here to analyse this curious
poem, I should like by some extracts to make its antique aspect and
high originality apparent.

Kilhwch, the son of Kilydd, prince of Kelyddon, having heard some
one mention the name of Olwen, daughter of Yspaddaden Penkawr, falls
violently in love, without having ever seen her. He goes to find
Arthur, that he may ask for his aid in the difficult undertaking
which he meditates; in point of fact, he does not know in what
country the fair one of his affection dwells. Yspaddaden is besides
a frightful tyrant who suffers no man to go from his castle alive,
and whose death is linked by destiny to the marriage of his
daughter. [Footnote: The idea of making the death of the father the
condition of possession of the daughter is to be found in several
romances of the Breton cycle, in Lancelot for example.] Arthur
grants Kilhwch some of his most valiant comrades in arms to assist
him in this enterprise. After wonderful adventures the knights
arrive at the castle of Yspaddaden, and succeed in seeing the young
maiden of Kilhwch's dream. Only after three days of persistent
struggle do they manage to obtain a response from Olwen's father,
who attaches his daughter's hand to conditions apparently impossible
of realisation. The performance of these trials makes a long chain
of adventures, the framework of a veritable romantic epic which has
come to us in a very fragmentary form. Of the thirty-eight
adventures imposed on Kilhwch the manuscript used by Lady Guest only
relates seven or eight. I choose at random one of these narratives,
which appears to me fitted to give an idea of the whole composition.
It deals with the finding of Mabon the son of Modron, who was
carried away from his mother three days after his birth, and whose
deliverance is one of the labours exacted of Kilhwch.

"His followers said unto Arthur, 'Lord, go thou home; thou canst not
proceed with thy host in quest of such small adventures as these.'
Then said Arthur, 'It were well for thee, Gwrhyr Gwalstawd
Ieithoedd, to go upon this quest, for thou knowest all languages,
and art familiar with those of the birds and the beasts. Thou,
Eidoel, oughtest likewise to go with my men in search of thy cousin.
And as for you, Kai and Bedwyr, I have hope of whatever adventure ye
are in quest of, that ye will achieve it. Achieve ye this adventure
for me.'"

They went forward until they came to the Ousel of Cilgwri. And
Gwrhyr adjured her for the sake of Heaven, saying, "Tell me if thou
knowest aught of Mabon the son of Modron, who was taken when three
nights old from between his mother and the wall." And the Ousel
answered, "When I first came here there was a smith's anvil in this
place, and I was then a young bird; and from that time no work has
been done upon it, save the pecking of my beak every evening, and
now there is not so much as the size of a nut remaining thereof; yet
all the vengeance of Heaven be upon me, if during all that time I
have ever heard of the man for whom you enquire. Nevertheless I will
do that which is right, and that which it is fitting I should do for
an embassy from Arthur. There is a race of animals who were formed
before me, and I will be your guide to them."

So they proceeded to the place where was the Stag of Redynvre. "Stag
of Redynvre, behold we are come to thee, an embassy from Arthur, for
we have not heard of any animal older than thou. Say, knowest thou
aught of Mabon the son of Modron, who was taken from his mother when
three nights old?" The Stag said, "When first I came hither there
was a plain all around me, without any trees save one oak sapling,
which grew up to be an oak with an hundred branches. And that oak
has since perished, so that now nothing remains of it but the
withered stump; and from that day to this I have been here, yet have
I never heard of the man for whom you enquire. Nevertheless, being
an embassy from Arthur, I will be your guide to the place where
there is an animal which was formed before I was."

So they proceeded to the place where was the Owl of Cwm Cawlwyd.
"Owl of Cwm Cawlwyd, here is an embassy from Arthur; knowest thou
aught of Mabon the son of Modron, who was taken after three nights
from his mother?" "If I knew I would tell you. When first I came
hither, the wide valley you see was a wooded glen. And a race of men
came and rooted it up. And there grew there a second wood; and this
wood is the third. My wings, are they not withered stumps? Yet all
this time, even until to-day, I have never heard of the man for whom
you enquire. Nevertheless I will be the guide of Arthur's embassy
until you come to the place where is the oldest animal in the world,
and the one that has travelled most, the Eagle of Gwern Abwy."

Gwrhyr said, "Eagle of Gwern Abwy, we have come to thee an embassy
from Arthur, to ask thee if thou knowest aught of Mabon the son of
Modron, who was taken from his mother when he was three nights old."
The Eagle said, "I have been here for a great space of time, and
when I first came hither there was a rock here, from the top of
which I pecked at the stars every evening; and now it is not so much
as a span high. From that day to this I have been here, and I have
never heard of the man for whom you enquire, except once when I went
in search of food as far as Llyn Llyw. And when I came there, I
struck my talons into a salmon, thinking he would serve me as food
for a long time. But he drew me into the deep, and I was scarcely
able to escape from him. After that I went with my whole kindred to
attack him, and to try to destroy him, but he sent messengers, and
made peace with me; and came and besought me to take fifty fish
spears out of his back. Unless he know something of him whom you
seek, I cannot tell who may. However, I will guide you to the place
where he is."

So they went thither; and the Eagle said, "Salmon of Llyn Llyw, I
have come to thee with an embassy from Arthur, to ask thee if thou
knowest aught concerning Mabon the son of Modron, who was taken away
at three nights old from his mother." "As much as I know I will tell
thee. With every tide I go along the river upwards, until I come
near to the walls of Gloucester, and there have I found such wrong
as I never found elsewhere; and to the end that ye may give credence
thereto, let one of you go thither upon each of my two shoulders."
So Kai and Gwrhyr Gwalstawd Ieithoedd went upon the shoulders of the
salmon, and they proceeded until they came unto the wall of the
prison, and they heard a great wailing and lamenting from the
dungeon. Said Gwrhyr, "Who is it that laments in this house of
stone?" "Alas there is reason enough for whoever is here to lament.
It is Mabon the son of Modron who is here imprisoned; and no
imprisonment was ever so grievous as mine, neither that of Lludd
Llaw Ereint, nor that of Greid the son of Eri." "Hast thou hope of
being released for gold or for silver, or for any gifts of wealth,
or through battle and fighting?" "By fighting will whatever I may
gain be obtained."

We shall not follow the Cymric hero through trials the result of
which can be foreseen. What, above all else, is striking in these
strange legends is the part played by animals, transformed by the
Welsh imagination into intelligent beings. No race conversed so
intimately as did the Celtic race with the lower creation, and
accorded it so large a share of moral life. [Footnote: See
especially the narratives of Nennius, and of Giraldus Cambrensis. In
them animals have at least as important a part as men.] The close
association of man and animal, the fictions so dear to mediaeval
poetry of the Knight of the Lion, the Knight of the Falcon, the
Knight of the Swan, the vows consecrated by the presence of birds of
noble repute, are equally Breton imaginings. Ecclesiastical
literature itself presents analogous features; gentleness towards
animals informs all the legends of the saints of Brittany and
Ireland. One day St. Kevin fell asleep, while he was praying at his
window with outstretched arms; and a swallow perceiving the open
hand of the venerable monk, considered it an excellent place wherein
to make her nest. The saint on awaking saw the mother sitting upon
her eggs, and, loth to disturb her, waited for the little ones to be
hatched before he arose from his knees.

This touching sympathy was derived from the singular vivacity with
which the Celtic races have inspired their feeling for nature. Their
mythology is nothing more than a transparent naturalism, not that
anthropomorphic naturalism of Greece and India, in which the forces
of the universe, viewed as living beings and endowed with
consciousness, tend more and more to detach themselves from physical
phenomena, and to become moral beings; but in some measure a
realistic naturalism, the love of nature for herself, the vivid
impression of her magic, accompanied by the sorrowful feeling that
man knows, when, face to face with her, he believes that he hears
her commune with him concerning his origin and his destiny. The
legend of Merlin mirrors this feeling. Seduced by a fairy of the
woods, he flies with her and becomes a savage. Arthur's messengers
come upon him as he is singing by the side of a fountain; he is led
back again to court; but the charm carries him away. He returns to
his forests, and this time for ever. Under a thicket of hawthorn
Vivien has built him a magical prison. There he prophesies the
future of the Celtic races; he speaks of a maiden of the woods, now
visible and now unseen, who holds him captive by her spells. Several
Arthurian legends are impressed with the same character. Arthur
himself in popular belief became, as it were, a woodland spirit.
"The foresters on their nightly round by the light of the moon,"
says Gervais of Tilbury, [Footnote: An English chronicler of the
twelfth century.] "often hear a great sound as of horns, and meet
bands of huntsmen; when they are asked whence they come, these
huntsmen make reply that they are of King Arthur's following."
[Footnote: This manner of explaining all the unknown noises of the
wood by Arthur's Hunting is still to be found in several districts.
To understand properly the cult of nature, and, if I may say so, of
landscape among the Celts, see Gildas and Nennius, pp. 131, 136,
137, etc. (Edit. San Marte, Berlin. 1884);] Even the French
imitators of the Breton romances keep an impression--although a
rather insipid one--of the attraction exercised by nature on the
Celtic imagination. Elaine, the heroine of Lancelot, the ideal of
Breton perfection, passes her life with her companions in a garden,
in the midst of flowers which she tends. Every flower culled by her
hands is at the instant restored to life; and the worshippers of her
memory are under an obligation, when they cut a flower, to sow
another in its place.

The worship of forest, and fountain, and stone is to be explained by
this primitive naturalism, which all the Councils of the Church held
in Brittany united to proscribe. The stone, in truth, seems the
natural symbol of the Celtic races. It is an immutable witness that
has no death. The animal, the plant, above all the human figure,
only express the divine life under a determinate form; the stone on
the contrary, adapted to receive all forms, has been the fetish of
peoples in their childhood. Pausanias saw, still standing erect, the
thirty square stones of Pharse, each bearing the name of a divinity.
The men-hir to be met with over the whole surface of the ancient
world, what is it but the monument of primitive humanity, a living
witness of its faith in Heaven? [Footnote: It is, however, doubtful
whether the monuments known in France at Celtic (men-hir. dot-men,
etc.) are the work of the Celts. With M. Worsaae and the Copenhagen
archaeologists, I am inclined to think that these monuments belong
to a more ancient humanity. Never, in fact, has any branch of the
Indo-European race built in this fashion. (See two articles by M.
Merimee in L'Athenaum franfais, Sept. 11th, 1852, and April 25th,

It has frequently been observed that the majority of popular beliefs
still extant in our different provinces are of Celtic origin. A not
less remarkable fact is the strong tinge of naturalism dominant in
these beliefs. Nay more, every time that the old Celtic spirit
appears in our history, there is to be seen, re-born with it, faith
in nature and her magic influences. One of the most characteristic
of these manifestations seems to me to be that of Joan of Arc. That
indomitable hope, that tenacity in the affirmation of the future,
that belief that the salvation of the kingdom will come from a
woman,--all those features, far removed as they are from the taste
of antiquity, and from Teutonic taste, are in many respects Celtic.
The memory of the ancient cult perpetuated itself at Domremy, as in
so many other places, under the form of popular superstition. The
cottage of the family of Arc was shaded by a beech tree, famed in
the country and reputed to be the abode of fairies. In her childhood
Joan used to go and hang upon its branches garlands of leaves and
flowers, which, so it was said, disappeared during the night. The
terms of her accusation speak with horror of this innocent custom,
as of a crime against the faith; and indeed they were not altogether
deceived, those unpitying theologians who judged the holy maid.
Although she knew it not, she was more Celtic than Christian. She
has been foretold by Merlin; she knows of neither Pope nor Church,--
she only believes the voice that speaks in her own heart. This voice
she hears in the fields, in the sough of the wind among the trees,
when measured and distant sounds fair upon her ears. During her
trial, worn out with questions and scholastic subtleties, she is
asked whether she still hears her voices. "Take me to the woods."
she says, "and I shall hear them clearly." Her legend is tinged with
the same colours; nature loved her, the wolves never touched the
sheep of her flock. When she was a little girl, the birds used to
come and eat bread from her lap as though they were tame. [Footnote:
Since the first publication of these views, on which I should not
like more emphasis to be put than what belongs to a passing
impression, similar considerations have been developed, in terms
that appear a little too positive, by M. H. Martin (History of
France, vol. vi., 1856). The objections raised to it are, for the
most part, due to the fact that very few people are capable of
delicately appreciating questions of this kind, relative to the
genius of races. It frequently happens that the resurrection of an
old national genius takes place under a very different form from
that which one would have expected, and by means of individuals who
have no idea of the ethnographical part which they play.]


The MABINOGION do not recommend themselves to our study, only as a
manifestation of the romantic genius of the Breton races. It was
through them that the Welsh imagination exercised its influence upon
the Continent, that it transformed, in the twelfth century, the
poetic art of Europe, and realised this miracle,--that the creations
of a half-conquered race have become the universal feast of
imagination for mankind.

Few heroes owe less to reality than Arthur. Neither Gildas nor
Aneurin, his contemporaries, speak of him; Bede did not even know
his name; Taliessin and Liwarc'h Hen gave him only a secondary
place. In Nennius, on the other hand, who lived about 850, the
legend has fully unfolded. Arthur is already the exterminator of the
Saxons; he has never experienced defeat; he is the suzerain of an
army of kings. Finally, in Geoffrey of Monmouth, the epic creation
culminates. Arthur reigns over the whole earth; he conquers Ireland,
Norway, Gascony, and France. At Caerleon he holds a tournament at
which all the monarchs of the world are present; there he puts upon
his head thirty crowns, and exacts recognition as the sovereign lord
of the universe. So incredible is it that a petty king of the sixth
century, scarcely remarked by his contemporaries, should have taken
in posterity such colossal proportions, that several critics have
supposed that the legendary Arthur and the obscure chieftain who
bore that name have nothing in common, the one with the other, and
that the son of Uther Pendragon is a wholly ideal hero, a survivor
of the old Cymric mythology. As a matter of fact, in the symbols of
Neo-Druidism--that is to say, of that secret doctrine, the outcome
of Druidism, which prolonged its existence even to the Middle Ages
under the form of Freemasonry--we again find Arthur transformed into
a divine personage, and playing a purely mythological part. It must
at least be allowed that, if behind the fable some reality lies
hidden, history offers us no means of attaining it. It cannot be
doubted that the discovery of Arthur's tomb in the Isle of Avalon in
1189 was an invention of Norman policy, just as in 1283, the very
year in which Edward I. was engaged in crushing out the last
vestiges of Welsh independence, Arthur's crown was very conveniently
found, and forthwith united to the other crown jewels of England.

We naturally expect Arthur, now become the representative of Welsh
nationality, to sustain in the Mabinogion a character analogous to
this role, and therein, as in Nennius, to serve the hatred of the
vanquished against the Saxons. But such is not the case. Arthur, in
the Mabinogion, exhibits no characteristics of patriotic resistance;
his part is limited to uniting heroes around him, to maintaining the
retainers of his palace, and to enforcing the laws of his order of
chivalry. He is too strong for any one to dream of attacking him. He
is the Charlemagne of the Carlovingian romances, the Agamemnon of
Homer,--one of those neutral personalities that serve but to give
unity to the poem. The idea of warfare against the alien, hatred
towards the Saxon, does not appear in a single instance. The heroes
of the Mabinogion have no fatherland; each fights to show his
personal excellence, and satisfy his taste for adventure, but not to
defend a national cause. Britain is the universe; no one suspects
that beyond the Cymry there may be other nations and other races.

It was by this ideal and representative character that the Arthurian
legend had such an astonishing prestige throughout the whole world.
Had Arthur been only a provincial hero, the more or less happy
defender of a little country, all peoples would not have adopted
him, any more than they have adopted the Marco of the Serbs,
[Footnote: A Servian ballad-hero.] or the Robin Hood of the Saxons.
The Arthur who has charmed the world is the head of an order of
equality, in which all sit at the same table, in which a man's worth
depends upon his valour and his natural gifts. What mattered to the
world the fate of an unknown peninsula, and the strife waged on its
behalf? What enchanted it was the ideal court presided over by
Gwenhwyvar (Guinevere), where around the monarchical unity the
flower of heroes was gathered together, where ladies, as chaste as
they were beautiful, loved according to the laws of chivalry, and
where the time was passed in listening to stories, and learning
civility and beautiful manners.

This is the secret of the magic of that Round Table, about which the
Middle Ages grouped all their ideas of heroism, of beauty, of
modesty, and of love. We need not stop to inquire whether the ideal
of a gentle and polished society in the midst of the barbarian world
is, in all its features, a purely Breton creation, whether the
spirit of the courts of the Continent has not in some measure
furnished the model, and whether the Mabinogion themselves have not
felt the reaction of the French imitations;[Footnote: The surviving
version of the Mdbinogian has a later date than these imitations,
and the Red Book includes several tales borrowed from the French
trouveres. But it is out of the question to maintain that the really
Welsh narratives have been borrowed in a like manner, since among
them are some unknown to the trouveres, which could only possess
interest for Breton countries] it suffices for us that the new order
of sentiments which we have just indicated was, throughout the whole
of the Middle Ages, persistently attached to the groundwork of the
Cymric romances. Such an association could not be fortuitous; if the
imitations are all so glaring in colour, it is evidently because in
the original this same colour is to be found united to particularly
strong character. How otherwise shall we explain why a forgotten
tribe on the very confines of the world should have imposed its
heroes upon Europe, and, in the domain of imagination, accomplished
one of the most singular revolutions known to the historian of

If, in fact, one compares European literature before the
introduction of the Cymric romances, with what it became when the
trouveres set themselves to draw from Breton sources, one recognises
readily that with the Breton narratives a new element entered into
the poetic conception of the Christian peoples, and modified it
profoundly. The Carlovingian poem, both by its structure and by the
means which it employs, does not depart from classical ideas. The
motives of man's action are the same as in the Greek epic. The
essentially romantic element, the life of forests and mysterious
adventure, the feeling for nature, and that impulse of imagination
which makes the Breton warrior unceasingly pursue the unknown;--
nothing of all this is as yet to be observed. Roland differs from
the heroes of Homer only by his armour; in heart he is the brother
of Ajax or Achilles. Perceval, on the contrary, belongs to another
world, separated by a great gulf from that in which the heroes of
antiquity live and act.

It was above all by the creation of woman's character, by
introducing into mediaeval poetry, hitherto hard and austere, the
nuances of love, that the Breton romances brought about this curious
metamorphosis. It was like an electric spark; in a few years
European taste was changed. Nearly all the types of womankind known
to the Middle Ages, Guinevere, Iseult, Enid, are derived from
Arthur's court. In the Carlovingian poems woman is a nonentity
without character or individuality; in them love is either brutal,
as in the romance of "Ferebras," or scarcely indicated, as in the
"Song of Roland." In the "Mabinogion," on the other hand, the
principal part always belongs to the women. Chivalrous gallantry,
which makes the warrior's happiness to consist in serving a woman
and meriting her esteem, the belief that the noblest use of strength
is to succour and avenge weakness, results, I know, from a turn of
imagination which possessed nearly all European peoples in the
twelfth century; but it cannot be doubted that this turn of
imagination first found literary expression among the Breton
peoples. One of the most surprising features in the Mabinogion is
the delicacy of the feminine feeling breathed in them; an
impropriety or a gross word is never to be met with. It would be
necessary to quote at length the two romances of Peredur and Geraint
to demonstrate an innocence such as this; but the naive simplicity
of these charming compositions forbids us to see in this innocence
any underlying meaning. The zeal of the knight in the defence of
ladies' honour became a satirical euphemism only in the French
imitators, who transformed the virginal modesty of the Breton
romances into a shameless gallantry--so far indeed that these
compositions, chaste as they are in the original, became the scandal
of the Middle Ages, provoked censures, and were the occasion of the
ideas of immorality which, for religious people, still cluster about
the name of romance.

Certainly chivalry is too complex a fact for us to be permitted to
assign it to any single origin. Let us say however that in the idea
of envisaging the esteem of a woman as the highest object of human
activity, and setting up love as the supreme principle of morality,
there is nothing of the antique spirit, or indeed of the Teutonic.
Is it in the "Edda" or in the "Niebelungen" that we shall find the
germ of this spirit of pure love, of exalted devotion, which forms
the very soul of chivalry? As to following the suggestion of some
critics and seeking among the Arabs for the beginnings of this
institution, surely of all literary paradoxes ever mooted, this is
one of the most singular. The idea of conquering woman in a land
where she is bought and sold, of seeking her esteem in a land where
she is scarcely considered capable of moral merit! I shall oppose
the partizans of this hypothesis with one single fact,--the surprise
experienced by the Arabs of Algeria when, by a somewhat unfortunate
recollection of mediaeval tournaments, the ladies were entrusted
with the presentation of prizes at the Beiram races. What to the
knight appeared an unparalleled honour seemed to the Arabs a
humiliation and almost an insult.

The introduction of the Breton romances into the current of European
literature worked a not less profound revolution in the manner of
conceiving and employing the marvellous. In the Carlovingian poems
the marvellous is timid, and conforms to the Christian faith; the
supernatural is produced directly by God or his envoys. Among the
Cymry, on the contrary, the principle of the marvel is in nature
herself, in her hidden forces, in her inexhaustible fecundity. There
is a mysterious swan, a prophetic bird, a suddenly appearing hand, a
giant, a black tyrant, a magic mist, a dragon, a cry that causes the
hearer to die of terror, an object with extraordinary properties.
There is no trace of the monotheistic conception, in which the
marvellous is only a miracle, a derogation of eternal laws. Nor are
there any of those personifications of the life of nature which form
the essential part of the Greek and Indian mythologies. Here we have
perfect naturalism, an unlimited faith in the possible, belief in
the existence of independent beings bearing within themselves the
principle of their strength,--an idea quite opposed to Christianity,
which in such beings necessarily sees either angels or fiends. And
besides, these strange beings are always presented as being outside
the pale of the Church; and when the knight of the Round Table has
conquered them, he forces them to go and pay homage to Guinevere,
and have themselves baptised.

Now, if in poetry there is a marvellous element that we might
accept, surely it is this. Classical mythology, taken in its first
simplicity, is too bold, taken as a mere figure of rhetoric, too
insipid, to give us satisfaction. As to the marvellous element in
Christianity, Boileau is right: no fiction is compatible with such a
dogmatism. There remains then the purely naturalistic marvellous,
nature interesting herself in action and acting herself, the great
mystery of fatality unveiling itself by the secret conspiring of all
beings, as in Shakespeare and Ariosto. It would be curious to
ascertain how much of the Celt there is in the former of these
poets; as for Ariosto he is the Breton poet par excellence. All his
machinery, all his means of interest, all his fine shades of
sentiment, all his types of women, all his adventures, are borrowed
from the Breton romances.

Do we now understand the intellectual role of that little race which
gave to the world Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, Perceval, Merlin, St.
Brandan, St. Patrick, and almost all the poetical cycles of the
Middle Ages? What a striking destiny some nations have, in alone
possessing the right to cause the acceptance of their heroes, as
though for that were necessary a quite peculiar degree of authority,
seriousness, and faith! And it is a strange thing that it is to the
Normans, of all peoples the one least sympathetically inclined
towards the Bretons, that we owe the renown of the Breton fables.
Brilliant and imitative, the Norman everywhere became the pre-
eminent representative of the nation on which he had at first
imposed himself by force. French in France, English in England,
Italian in Italy, Russian at Novgorod, he forgot his own language to
speak that of the race which he had conquered, and to become the
interpreter of its genius. The deeply suggestive character of the
Welsh romances could not fail to impress men so prompt to seize and
assimilate the ideas of the foreigner. The first revelation of the
Breton fables, the Latin Chronicle of Geoffrey of Monmouth, appeared
about the year 1137, under the auspices of Robert of Gloucester,
natural son of Henry I. Henry II. acquired a taste for the same
narratives, and at his request Robert Wace, in 1155, wrote in French
the first history of Arthur, thus opening the path in which walked
after him a host of poets or imitators of all nationalities, French,
Provencal, Italian, Spanish, English, Scandinavian, Greek, and
Georgian. We need not belittle the glory of the first trouveres who
put into a language, then read and understood from one end of Europe
to the other, fictions which, but for them, would have doubtless
remained for ever unknown. It is however difficult to attribute to
them an inventive faculty, such as would permit them to merit the
title of creators. The numerous passages in which one feels that
they do not fully understand the original which they imitate, and in
which they attempt to give a natural significance to circumstances
of which the mythological bearing escaped them, suffice to prove
that, as a rule, they were satisfied to make a fairly faithful copy
of the work before their eyes.

What part has Armorican Brittany played in the creation or
propagation of the legends of the Round Table? It is impossible to
say with any degree of precision; and in truth such a question
becomes a matter of secondary import once we form a just idea of the
close bonds of fraternity, which did not cease until the twelfth
century to unite the two branches of the Breton peoples. That the
heroic traditions of Wales long continued to live in the branch of
the Cymric family which came and settled in Armorica cannot be
doubted when we find Geraint, Urien, and other heroes become saints
in Lower Brittany; [Footnote: I shall only cite a single proof; it
is a law of Edward the Confessor: "Britones vero Armorici quum
venerint in regno isto, suscipi debent et in regno protegi sicut
probi cives de corpore regni hujus; exierunt quondam de sanguine
Britonum regni hujus."--Wilkins, Leges Anglo-Saxonicae, p. 206.]and
above all when we see one of the most essential episodes of the
Arthurian cycle, that of the Forest of Broceliande, placed in the
same country. A large number of facts collected by M. de la
Villemarrque [Footnote: "Les Romans de la Table-Ronde et les contes
des anciens Bretons" (Paris, 1859), pp. 20 et seq. In the "Contes
populaires des anciens Bretons," of which the above may be
considered as a new edition, the learned author had somewhat
exaggerated the influence of French Brittany. In the present
article, when first published, I had, on the other hand, depreciated
it too much.] prove, on the other hand, that these same traditions
produced a true poetic cycle in Brittany, and even that at certain
epochs they must have recrossed the Channel, as though to give new
life to the mother country's memories. The fact that Gauthier
Calenius, Archdeacon of Oxford, brought back from Brittany to
England (about 1125) the very text of the legends which were
translated into Latin ten years afterwards by Geoffrey of Monmouth
is here decisive. I know that to readers of the Mabinogion such an
opinion will appear surprising at a first glance, All is Welsh in
these fables, the places, the genealogies, the customs; in them
Armorica is only represented by Hoel, an important personage no
doubt, but one who has not achieved the fame of the other heroes of
Arthur's court. Again, if Armorica saw the birth of the Arthurian
cycle, how is it that we fail to find there any traces of that
brilliant nativity? [Footnote: M. de la Villemarque makes appeal to
the popular songs still extant in Brittany, in which Arthur's deeds
are celebrated. In fact, in his Chants populaires de la Bretagne two
poems are to be found in which that hero's name figures.]

These objections, I avow, long barred my way, but I no longer find
them insoluble. And first of all there is a class of Mabinogion,
including those of Owen, Geraint, and Peredur, stories which possess
no very precise geographical localisation. In the second place,
national written literature being less successfully defended in
Brittany than in Wales against the invasion of foreign culture, it
may be conceived that the memory of the old epics should be there
more obliterated. The literary share of the two countries thus
remains sufficiently distinct. The glory of French Brittany is in
her popular songs; but it is only in Wales that the genius of the
Breton people has succeeded in establishing itself in authentic
books and achieved creations.


In comparing the Breton cycle as the French trouveres knew it, and
the same cycle as it is to be found in the text of the Mabinogion,
one might be tempted to believe that the European imagination,
enthralled by these brilliant fables, added to them some poetical
themes unknown to the Welsh. Two of the most celebrated heroes of
the continental Breton romances, Lancelot and Tristan, do not figure
in the Mabinogion; on the other hand, the characteristics of the
Holy Grail are presented in a totally different way from that which
we find in the French and German poets. A more attentive study shows
that these elements, apparently added by the French poets, are in
reality of Cymric origin. And first of all, M. de la Villemarque has
demonstrated to perfection that the name of Lancelot is only a
translation of that of the Welsh hero Mael, who in point of fact
exhibits the fullest analogy with the Lancelot of the French
romances. [Footnote: Ancelot is the diminutive of Ancel, and means
servant, page, or esquire. To this day in the Cymric dialects Mael
has the same signification. The surname of Poursigant, which we find
borne by some Welshmen in the French service in the early part of
the fourteenth century, is also no doubt a translation of Mael.] The
context, the proper names, all the details of the romance of
Lancelot also present the most pronounced Breton aspect. As much
must be said of the romance of Tristan. It is even to be hoped that
this curious legend will be discovered complete in some Welsh
manuscript. Dr. Owen states that he has seen one of which he was
unable to obtain a copy. As to the Holy Grail, it must be avowed
that the mystic cup, the object after which the French Parceval and
the German Parsifal go in search, has not nearly the same importance
among the Welsh. In the romance of Peredur it only figures in an
episodical fashion, and without a well-defined religious intention.

"Then Peredur and his uncle discoursed together, and he beheld two
youths enter the hall, and proceed up to the chamber, bearing a
spear of mighty size, with three streams of blood flowing from the
point to the ground. And when all the company saw this, they began
wailing and lamenting. But for all that, the man did not break off
his discourse with Peredur. And as he did not tell Peredur the
meaning of what he saw, he forbore to ask him concerning it. And
when the clamour had a little subsided, behold two maidens entered,
with a large salver between them, in which was a man's head,
surrounded by a profusion of blood. And thereupon the company of the
court made so great an outcry, that it was irksome to be in the same
hall with them. But at length they were silent." This strange and
wondrous circumstance remains an enigma to the end of the narrative.
Then a mysterious young man appears to Peredur, apprises him that
the lance from which the blood was dropping is that with which his
uncle was wounded, that the vessel contains the blood and the head
of one of his cousins, slain by the witches of Kerloiou, and that it
is predestined that he, Peredur, should be their avenger. In point
of fact, Peredur goes and convokes the Round Table; Arthur and his
knights come and put the witches of Kerloiou to death.

If we now pass to the French romance of Parceval, we find that all
this phantasmagoria clothes a very different significance. The lance
is that with which Longus pierced Christ's side, the Grail or basin
is that in which Joseph of Arimathea caught the divine blood. This
miraculous vase procures all the good things of heaven and earth; it
heals wounds, and is filled at the owner's pleasure with the most
exquisite food. To approach it one must be in a state of grace; only
a priest can tell of its marvels. To find these sacred relics after
the passage of a thousand trials,--such is the object of Peredur's
chivalry, at once worldly and mystical. In the end he becomes a
priest; he takes the Grail and the lance into his hermitage; on the
day of his death an angel bears them up to Heaven. Let us add that
many traits prove that in the mind of the French trouvere the Grail
is confounded with the eucharist. In the miniatures which
occasionally accompany the romance of Parceval, the Grail is in the
form of a pyx, appearing at all the solemn moments of the poem as a
miraculous source of succour.

Is this strange myth, differing as it does from the simple narrative
presented in the Welsh legend of Peredur, really Cymric, or ought we
rather to see in it an original creation of the trouveres, based
upon a Breton foundation? With M. de la Villemarque we believe that
this curious fable is essentially Cymric. [Footnote: See the
excellent discussion of this interesting problem in the introduction
to "Contes populaires des anciens Bretons" (pp. 181 et seq.).] In
the eighth century a Breton hermit had a vision of Joseph of
Arimathea bearing the chalice of the Last Supper, and wrote the
history called the Gradal. The whole Celtic mythology is full of the
marvels of a magic caldron under which nine fairies blow silently, a
mysterious vase which inspires poetic genius, gives wisdom, reveals
the future, and unveils the secrets of the world. One day as Bran
the Blessed was hunting in Ireland upon the shore of a lake, he saw
come forth from it a black man bearing upon his back an enormous
caldron, followed by a witch and a dwarf. This caldron was the
instrument of the supernatural power of a family of giants. It cured
all ills, and gave back life to the dead, but without restoring to
them the use of speech--an allusion to the secret of the bardic
initiation. In the same way Perceval's wariness forms the whole plot
of the quest of the Holy Grail. The Grail thus appears to us in its
primitive meaning as the pass-word of a kind of free-masonry which
survived in Wales long after the preaching of the Gospel, and of
which we find deep traces in the legend of Taliessin. Christianity
grafted its legend upon the mythological data, and a like
transformation was doubtless made by the Cymric race itself. If the
Welsh narrative of Peredur does not offer the same developments as
the French romance of Parceval, it is because the Red Book of
Hergest gives us an earlier version than that which served as a
model for Chretien de Troyes. It is also to be remarked that, even
in Parceval, the mystical idea is not as yet completely developed,
that the trouvere seems to treat this strange theme as a narrative
which he has found already complete, and the meaning of which he can
scarcely guess. The motive that sets Parceval a-field in the French
romance, as well as in the Welsh version, is a family motive; he
seeks the Holy Grail as a talisman to cure his uncle the Fisherman-
King, in such a way that the religious idea is still subordinated to
the profane intention. In the German version, on the other hand,
full as it is of mysticism and theology, the Grail has a temple and
priests. Parsifal, who has become a purely ecclesiastical hero,
reaches the dignity of King of the Grail by his religious enthusiasm
and his chastity. [Footnote: It is indeed remarkable that all the
Breton heroes in their last transformation are at once gallant and
devout. One of the most celebrated ladies of Arthur's court, Luned,
becomes a saint and a martyr for her chastity, her festival being
celebrated on August 1st. She it is who figures in the French
romances under the name of Lunette. See Lady Guest, vol. i., pp.
113, 114.] Finally, the prose versions, more modern still, sharply
distinguish the two chivalries, the one earthly, the other mystical.
In them Parceval becomes the model of the devout knight. This was
the last of the metamorphoses which that all-powerful enchantress
called the human imagination made him undergo; and it was only right
that, after having gone through so many dangers, he should don a
monkish frock, wherein to take his rest after his life of adventure.


When we seek to determine the precise moment in the history of the
Celtic races at which we ought to place ourselves in order to
appreciate their genius in its entirety, we find ourselves led back
to the sixth century of our era. Races have nearly always a
predestined hour at which, passing from simplicity to reflection,
they bring forth to the light of day, for the first time, all the
treasures of their nature. For the Celtic races the poetic moment of
awakening and primal activity was the sixth century. Christianity,
still young amongst them, has not completely stifled the national
cult; the religion of the Druids defends itself in its schools and
holy places; warfare against the foreigner, without which a people
never achieves a full consciousness of itself, attains its highest
degree of spirit. It is the epoch of all the heroes of enduring
fame, of all the characteristic saints of the Breton Church;
finally, it is the great age of bardic literature, illustrious by
the names of Taliessin, of Aneurin, of Liwarc'h Hen.

To such as would view critically the historical use of these half-
fabulous names and would hesitate to accept as authentic, poems that
have come down to us through so long a series of ages, we reply that
the objections raised to the antiquity of the bardic literature--
objections of which W. Schlegel made himself the interpreter in
opposition to M. Fauriel--have completely disappeared under the
investigations of an enlightened and impartial criticism. [Footnote:
This evidently does not apply to the language of the poems in
question. It is well known that mediaeval scribes, alien as they
were to all ideas of archaeology, modernised the texts, in measure
as they copied them; and that a manuscript in the vulgar tongue, as
a rule, only attests the language of him who transcribed it.] By a
rare exception sceptical opinion has for once been found in the
wrong. The sixth century is in fact for the Breton peoples a
perfectly historical century. We touch this epoch of their history
as closely and with as much certainty as Greek or Roman antiquity.
It is indeed known that, up to a somewhat late period, the bards
continued to compose pieces under the names--which had become
popular--of Aneurin, Taliessin, and Liwarc'h Hen; but no confusion
can be made between these insipid rhetorical exercises and the
really ancient fragments which bear the names of the poets cited--
fragments full of personal traits, local circumstances, and
individual passions and feelings.

Such is the literature of which M. de la Villemarque has attempted
to unite the most ancient and authentic monuments in his "Breton
Bards of the Sixth Century." Wales has recognised the service that
our learned compatriot has thus rendered to Celtic studies. We
confess, however, to much preferring to the "Bards" the "Popular
Songs of Brittany." It is in the latter that M. de la Villemarque
has best served Celtic studies, by revealing to us a delightful
literature, in which, more clearly than anywhere else, are apparent
these features of gentleness, fidelity, resignation, and timid
reserve which form the character of the Breton peoples. [Footnote:
This interesting collection ought not, however, to be accepted
unreservedly; and the absolute confidence with which it has been
quoted is not without its inconveniences. We believe that when M. de
la Villemarque comments on the fragments which, to his eternal
honour, he has been the first to bring to light, his criticism is
far from being proof against all reproach, and that several of the
historical allusions which he considers that he finds in them are
hypotheses more ingenious than solid. The past is too great, and has
come down to us in too fragmentary a manner, for such coincidences
to be probable. Popular celebrities are rarely those of history, and
when the rumours of distant centuries come to us by two channels,
one popular, the other historical, it is a rare thing for these two
forms of tradition to be fully in accord with one another. M. de la
Villemarque is also too ready to suppose that the people repeats for
centuries songs that it only half understands. When a song ceases to
be intelligible, it is nearly always altered by the people, with the
end of approximating it to the sounds farmliar and significant to
their ears. Is it not also to be feared that in this case the
editor, in entire good faith, may lend some slight inflection to the
text, so as to find in it the sense that he desires, or has in his

The theme of the poetry of the bards of the sixth century is simple
and exclusively heroic; it ever deals with the great motives of
patriotism and glory. There is a total absence of all tender
feeling, no trace of love, no well-marked religious idea, but only a
vague and naturalistic mysticism,--a survival of Druidic teaching,--
and a moral philosophy wholly expressed in Triads, similar to that
taught in the half-bardic, half-Christian schools of St. Cadoc and
St. Iltud. The singularly artificial and highly wrought form of the
style suggests the existence of a system of learned instruction
possessing long traditions. A more pronounced shade, and there would
be a danger of falling into a pedantic and mannered rhetoric. The
bardic literature, by its lengthened existence through the whole of
the Middle Ages, did not escape this danger. It ended by being no
more than a somewhat insipid collection of unoriginalities in style,
and conventional metaphors. [Footnote: A Welsh scholar, Mr.
Stephens, in his History of Cymric Literature (Llandovery, 1849),
has demonstrated these successive transformations very well.]

The opposition between bardism and Christianity reveals itself in
the pieces translated by M. de la Villemarque by many features of
original and pathetic interest. The strife which rent the soul of
the old poets, their antipathy to the grey men of the monastery,
their sad and painful conversion, are to be found in their songs.
The sweetness and tenacity of the Breton character can alone explain
how a heterodoxy so openly avowed as this maintained its position in
face of the dominant Christianity, and how holy men, Kolumkill for
example, took upon themselves the defence of the bards against the
kings who desired to stamp them out. The strife was the longer in
its duration, in that Christianity among the Celtic peoples never
employed force against rival religions, and, at the worst, left to
the vanquished the liberty of ill humour. Belief in prophets,
indestructible among these peoples, created, in despite of faith the
Anti-Christian type of Merlin, and caused his acceptance by the
whole of Europe. Gildas and the orthodox Bretons were ceaseless in
their thunderings against the prophets, and opposed to them Elias
and Samuel, two bards who only foretold good; even in the twelfth
century Giraldus Cambrensis saw a prophet in the town of Caerleon.

Thanks to this toleration bardism lasted into the heart of the
Middle Ages, under the form of a secret doctrine, with a
conventional language, and symbols almost wholly borrowed from the
solar divinity of Arthur. This may be termed Neo-Druidism, a kind of
Druidism subtilised and reformed on the model of Christianity, which
may be seen growing more and more obscure and mysterious, until the
moment of its total disappearance. A curious fragment belonging to
this school, the dialogue between Arthur and Eliwlod, has
transmitted to us the latest sighs of this latest protestation of
expiring naturalism. Under the form of an eagle Eliwlod introduces
the divinity to the sentiment of resignation, of subjection, and of
humility, with which Christianity combated pagan pride. Hero-worship
recoils step by step before the great formula, which Christianity
ceases not to repeat to the Celtic races to sever them from their
memories: There is none greater than God. Arthur allows himself to
be persuaded to abdicate from his divinity, and ends by reciting the

I know of no more curious spectacle than this revolt of the manly
sentiments of hero-worship against the feminine feeling which flowed
so largely into the new faith. What, in fact, exasperates the old
representatives of Celtic society are the exclusive triumph of the
pacific spirit and the men, clad in linen and chanting psalms, whose
voice is sad, who preach asceticism, and know the heroes no more.
[Footnote: The antipathy to Christianity attributed by the Armorican
people to the dwarfs and korigans belongs in like measure to
traditions of the opposition encountered by the Gospel in its
beginnings. The korigans in fact are, for the Breton peasant, great
princesses who would not accept Christianity when the apostles came
to Brittany. They hate the clergy and the churches, the bells of
which make them take to flight. The Virgin above all is their great
enemy; she it is who has hounded them forth from their fountains,
and on Saturday, the day consecrated to her, whosoever beholds them
combing their hair or counting their treasures is sure to perish.
(Villemarque, Chants populaires, Introduction.)] We know the use
that Ireland has made of this theme, in the dialogues which she
loves to imagine between the representatives of her profane and
religious life, Ossian and St. Patrick. [Footnote: See Miss Brooke's
Reliques of Irish Poetry, Dublin, 1789, pp. 37 et seq., PP. 75 et
seq.] Ossian regrets the adventures, the chase, the blast of the
horn, and the kings of old time. "If they were here," he says to St.
Patrick, "thou should'st not thus be scouring the country with the
psalm-singing flock." Patrick seeks to calm him by soft words, and
sometimes carries his condescension so far as to listen to his long
histories, which appear to interest the saint but slightly. "Thou
hast heard my story," says the old bard in conclusion; "albeit my
memory groweth weak, and I am devoured with care, yet I desire to
continue still to sing the deeds of yore, and to live upon ancient
glories. Now am I stricken with years, my life is frozen within me,
and all my joys are fleeting away. No more can my hand grasp the
sword, nor mine arm hold the lance in rest. Among priests my last
sad hour lengtheneth out, and psalms take now the place of songs of
victory." "Let thy songs rest," says Patrick, "and dare not to
compare thy Finn to the King of Kings, whose might knoweth no
bounds: bend thy knees before Him, and know Him for thy Lord." It
was indeed necessary to surrender, and the legend relates how the
old bard ended his days in the cloister, among the priests whom he
had so often used rudely, in the midst of these chants that he knew
not. Ossian was too good an Irishman for any one to make up his mind
to damn him utterly. Merlin himself had to cede to the new spell. He
was, it is said, converted by St. Columba; and the popular voice in
the ballads repeats to him unceasingly this sweet and touching
appeal: "Merlin, Merlin, be converted; there is no divinity save
that of God."


We should form an altogether inadequate idea of the physiognomy of
the Celtic races, were we not to study them under what is perhaps
the most singular aspect of their development--that is to say, their
ecclesiastical antiquities and their saints. Leaving on one side the
temporary repulsion which Christian mildness had to conquer in the
classes of society which saw their influence diminished by the new
order of things, it can be truly said, that the gentleness of
manners and the exquisite sensibility of the Celtic races, in
conjunction with the absence of a formerly existing religion of
strong organisation, predestined them to Christianity. Christianity
in fact, addressing itself by preference to the more humble feelings
in human nature, met here with admirably prepared disciples; no race
has so delicately understood the charm of littleness, none has
placed the simple creature, the innocent, nearer God. The ease with
which the new religion took possession of these peoples is also
remarkable. Brittany and Ireland between them scarce count two or
three martyrs; they are reduced to venerating as such those of their
compatriots who were slain in the Anglo-Saxon and Danish invasions.
Here comes to light the profound difference dividing the Celtic from
the Teutonic race. The Teutons only received Christianity tardily
and in spite of themselves, by scheming or by force, after a
sanguinary resistance, and with terrible throes, Christianity was in
fact on several sides repugnant to their nature; and one understands
the regrets of pure Teutonists who, to this day, reproach the new
faith with having corrupted their sturdy ancestors.

Such was not the case with the Celtic peoples; that gentle little
race was naturally Christian. Far from changing them, and taking
away some of their qualities, Christianity finished and perfected
them. Compare the legends relating to the introduction of
Christianity into the two countries, the Kristni Saga for instance,
and the delightful legends of Lucius and St. Patrick. What a
difference we find! In Iceland the first apostles are pirates,
converted by some chance, now saying mass, now massacring their
enemies, now resuming their former profession of sea-rovers;
everything is done in accord with expediency, and without any
serious faith.

In Ireland and Brittany grace operates through women, by I know not
what charm of purity and sweetness. The revolt of the Teutons was
never effectually stifled; never did they forget the forced
baptisms, and the sword-supported Carlovingian missionaries, until
the day when Teutonism took its revenge, and Luther through seven
centuries gave answer to Witikind. On the other hand, the Celts
were, even in the third century, perfect Christians. To the Teutons
Christianity was for long nothing but a Roman institution, imposed
from without. They entered the Church only to trouble it; and it was
not without very great difficulty that they succeeded in forming a
national clergy. To the Celts, on the contrary, Christianity did not
come from Rome; they had their native clergy, their own peculiar
usages, their faith at first hand. It cannot, in fact, be doubted
that in apostolic times Christianity was preached in Brittany; and
several historians, not without justification, have considered that
it was borne there by Judaistic Christians, or by disciples of the
school of St. John. Everywhere else Christianity found, as a first
substratum, Greek or Roman civilisation. Here it found a virgin soil
of a nature analogous to its own, and naturally prepared to receive

Few forms of Christianity have offered an ideal of Christian
perfection so pure as the Celtic Church of the sixth, seventh, and
eighth centuries. Nowhere, perhaps, has God been better worshipped
in spirit than in those great monastic communities of Hy, or of
Iona, of Bangor, of Clonard, or of Lindisfarne. One of the most
distinguished developments of Christianity--doubtless too
distinguished for the popular and practical mission which the Church
had to undertake--Pelagianism, arose from it. The true and refined
morality, the simplicity, and the wealth of invention which give
distinction to the legends of the Breton and Irish saints are indeed
admirable. No race adopted Christianity with so much originality,
or, while subjecting itself to the common faith, kept its national
characteristics more persistently. In religion, as in all else, the
Bretons sought isolation, and did not willingly fraternise with the
rest of the world. Strong in their moral superiority, persuaded that
they possessed the veritable canon of faith and religion, having
received their Christianity from an apostolic and wholly primitive
preaching, they experienced no need of feeling themselves in
communion with Christian societies less noble than their own. Thence
arose that long struggle of the Breton churches against Roman
pretensions, which is so admirably narrated by M. Augustin Thierry,
[Footnote: In his History of the Conquest. The objections raised by
M. Varin and some other scholars to M. Thierry's narrative only
affect some secondary details, which were rectified in the edition
published after the illustrious historian's death.] thence those
inflexible characters of Columba and the monks of Iona, defending
their usages and institutions against the whole Church, thence
finally the false position of the Celtic peoples in Catholicism,
when that mighty force, grown more and more aggressive, had drawn
them together from all quarters, and compelled their absorption in
itself. Having no Catholic past, they found themselves unclassed on
their entrance into the great family, and were never able to succeed
in creating for themselves an Archbishopric. All their efforts and
all their innocent deceits to attribute that title to the Churches
of Dol and St. Davids were wrecked on the overwhelming divergence of
their past; their bishops had to resign themselves to being obscure
suffragans of Tours and Canterbury.

It remains to be said that, even in our own days, the powerful
originality of Celtic Christianity is far from being effaced. The
Bretons of France, although they have felt the consequences of the
revolutions undergone by Catholicism on the Continent, are, at the
present hour, one of the populations in which religious feeling has
retained most independence. The new devotions find no favour with
it; the people are faithful to the old beliefs and the old saints;
the psalms of religion have for them an ineffable harmony. In the
same way, Ireland keeps, in her more remote districts, quite unique
forms of worship from those of the rest of the world, to which
nothing in other parts of Christendom can be compared. The influence
of modern Catholicism, elsewhere so destructive of national usages,
has had here a wholly contrary effect, the clergy having found it
incumbent on them to seek a vantage ground against Protestantism, in
attachment to local practices and the customs of the past.

It is the picture of these Christian institutions, quite distinct
from those of the remainder of the West, of this sometimes strange
worship, of these legends of the saints marked with so distinct a
seal of nationality, that lends an interest to the ecclesiastical
antiquities of Ireland, of Wales, and of Armorican Brittany. No
hagiology has remained more exclusively natural than that of the
Celtic peoples; until the twelfth century those peoples admitted
very few alien saints into their martyrology. None, too, includes so
many naturalistic elements. Celtic Paganism offered so little
resistance to the new religion, that the Church did not hold itself
constrained to put in force against it the rigour with which
elsewhere it pursued the slightest traces of mythology. The
conscientious essay by W. Rees on the "Saints of Wales", and that by
the Rev. John Williams, an extremely learned ecclesiastic of the
diocese of St. Asaph, on the "Ecclesiastical Antiquities of the
Cymry", suffice to make one understand the immense value which a
complete and intelligent history of the Celtic Churches, before
their absorption in the Roman Church, would possess. To these might
be added the learned work of Dom Lobineau on the Saints of Brittany,
re-issued in our days by the Abbe Tresvaux, had not the half-
criticism of the Benedictine, much worse than a total absence of
criticism, altered those naive legends and cut away from them, under
the pretext of good sense and religious reverence, that which to us
gives them interest and charm.

Ireland above all would offer a religious physiognomy quite peculiar
to itself, which would appear singularly original, were history in a
position to reveal it in its entirety. When we consider the legions
of Irish saints who in the sixth, seventh, and eighth centuries
inundated the Continent and arrived from their isle bearing with
them their stubborn spirit, their attachment to their own usages,
their subtle and realistic turn of mind, and see the Scots (such was
the name given to the Irish) doing duty, until the twelfth century,
as instructors in grammar and literature to all the West, we cannot
doubt that Ireland, in the first half of the Middle Ages, was the
scene of a singular religious movement. Studious philologists and
daring philosophers, the Hibernian monks were above all
indefatigable copyists; and it was in part owing to them that the
work of the pen became a holy task. Columba, secretly warned that
his last hour is at hand, finishes the page of the psalter which he
has commenced, writes at the foot that he bequeaths the continuation
to his successor, and then goes into the church to die. Nowhere was
monastic life to find such docile subjects. Credulous as a child,
timid, indolent, inclined to submit and obey, the Irishman alone was
capable of lending himself to that complete self-abdication in the
hands of the abbot, which we find so deeply marked in the historical
and legendary memorials of the Irish Church. One easily recognises
the land where, in our own days, the priest, without provoking the
slightest scandal, can, on a Sunday before quitting the altar, give
the orders for his dinner in a very audible manner, and announce the
farm where he intends to go and dine, and where he will hear his
flock in confession. In the presence of a people which lived by
imagination and the senses alone, the Church did not consider itself
under the necessity of dealing severely with the caprices of
religious fantasy. It permitted the free action of the popular
instinct; and from this freedom emerged what is perhaps of all cults
the most mythological and most analogous to the mysteries of
antiquity, presented in Christian annals, a cult attached to certain
places, and almost exclusively consisting in certain acts held to be

Without contradiction the legend of St. Brandan is the most singular
product of this combination of Celtic naturalism with Christian
spiritualism. The taste of the Hibernian monks for making maritime
pilgrimages through the archipelago of the Scottish and Irish seas,
everywhere dotted with monasteries, [Footnote: The Irish saints
literally covered the Western seas. A very considerable number of
the saints of Brittany, St. Tenenan, St. Renan, etc., were emigrants
from Ireland. The Breton legends of St. Malo, St. David, and of St.
Pol of Leon are replete with similar stories of voyages to the
distant isles of the West.] and the memory of yet more distant
voyages in Polar seas, furnished the framework of this curious
composition, so rich in local impressions. From Pliny (IV. xxx. 3)
we learn that, even in his time, the Bretons loved to venture their
lives upon the high seas, in search of unknown isles. M. Letronne
has proved that in 795, sixty-five years consequently before the
Danes, Irish monks landed in Iceland and established themselves on
the coast. In this island the Danes found Irish books and bells; and
the names of certain localities still bear witness to the sojourn of
those monks, who were known by the name of Papae (fathers). In the
Faroe Isles, in the Orkneys, and the Shetlands, indeed in all parts
of the Northern seas, the Scandinavians found themselves preceded by
those Papas, whose habits contrasted so strangely with their own.
[Footnote: On this point see the careful researches of Humboldt in
his History of the Geography of the New Continent, vol. ii.] Did
they not have a glimpse too of that great land, the vague memory of
which seems to pursue them, and which Columbus was to discover,
following the traces of their dreams? It is only known that the
existence of an island, traversed by a great river and situated to
the west of Ireland, was, on the faith of the Irish, a dogma for
mediaeval geographers.

The story went that, towards the middle of the sixth century, a monk
called Barontus, on his return from voyaging upon the sea, came and
craved hospitality at the monastery of Clonfert. Brandan the abbot
besought him to give pleasure to the brothers by narrating the
marvels of God that he had seen on the high seas. Barontus revealed
to them the existence of an island surrounded by fogs, where he had
left his disciple Mernoc; it is the Land of Promise that God keeps
for his saints. Brandan with seventeen of his monks desired to go in
quest of this mysterious land. They set forth in a leather boat,
bearing with them as their sole provision a utensil of butter,
wherewith to grease the hides of their craft. For seven years they
lived thus in their boat, abandoning to God sail and rudder, and
only stopping on their course to celebrate the feasts of Christmas
and Easter on the back of the king of fishes, Jasconius. Every step
of this monastic Odyssey is a miracle, on every isle is a monastery,
where the wonders of a fantastical universe respond to the
extravagances of a wholly ideal life. Here is the Isle of Sheep,
where these animals govern themselves according to their own laws;
elsewhere the Paradise of Birds, where the winged race lives after
the fashion of monks, singing matins and lauds at the canonical
hours. Brandan and his companions celebrate mass here with the
birds, and remain with them for fifty days, nourishing themselves
with nothing but the singing of their hosts. Elsewhere there is the
Isle of Delight, the ideal of monastic life in the midst of the
seas. Here no material necessity makes itself felt; the lamps light
of themselves for the offices of religion, and never burn out, for
they shine with a spiritual light. An absolute stillness reigns in
the island; every one knows precisely the hour of his death; one
feels neither cold, nor heat, nor sadness, nor sickness of body or
soul. All this has endured since the days of St. Patrick, who so
ordained it. The Land of Promise is more marvellous still; there an
eternal day reigns; all the plants have flowers, all the trees bear
fruits. Some privileged men alone have visited it. On their return a
perfume is perceived to come from them, which their garments keep
for forty days.

In the midst of these dreams there appears with a surprising
fidelity to truth the feeling for the picturesque in Polar voyages,-
-the transparency of the sea, the aspect of bergs and islands of ice
melting in the sun, the volcanic phenomena of Iceland, the sporting
of whales, the characteristic appearance of the Norwegian fiords,
the sudden fogs, the sea calm as milk, the green isles crowned with
grass which grows down to the very verge of the waves. This
fantastical nature created expressly for another humanity, this
strange topography at once glowing with fiction and speaking of
truth, make the poem of St. Brandan one of the most extraordinary
creations of the human mind, and perhaps the completest expression
of the Celtic ideal. All is lovely, pure, and innocent; never has a
gaze so benevolent and so gentle been cast upon the earth; there is
not a single cruel idea, not a trace of frailty or repentance. It is
the world seen through the crystal of a stainless conscience, one
might almost say a human nature, as Pelagius wished it, that has
never sinned. The very animals participate in this universal
mildness. Evil appears under the form of monsters wandering on the
deep, or of Cyclops confined in volcanic islands; but God causes
them to destroy one another, and does not permit them to do hurt to
the good.

We have just seen how, around the legend of a monk the Irish
imagination grouped a whole cycle of physical and maritime myths.
The Purgatory of St. Patrick became the framework of another series
of fables, embodying the Celtic ideas concerning the other life and
its different conditions. [Footnote: See Thomas Wright's excellent
dissertation, Saint Patrick's Purgatory (London, 1844), and
Calderon's The Well of Saint Patrick.] Perhaps the profoundest
instinct of the Celtic peoples is their desire to penetrate the
unknown. With the sea before them, they wish to know what lies
beyond; they dream of a Promised Land. In the face of the unknown
that lies beyond the tomb, they dream of that great journey which
the pen of Dante has celebrated. The legend tells how, while St.
Patrick was preaching about Paradise and Hell to the Irish, they
confessed that they would feel more assured of the reality of these
places, if he would allow one of them to descend there, and then
come back with information St. Patrick consented. A pit was dug, by
which an Irishman set out upon the subterranean journey. Others
wished to attempt the journey after him. With the consent of the
abbot of the neighbouring monastery, they descended into the shaft,
they passed through the torments of Hell and Purgatory, and then
each told of what he had seen. Some did not emerge again; those who
did laughed no more, and were henceforth unable to join in any
gaiety. Knight Owen made a descent in 1153, and gave a narrative of
his travels which had a prodigious success.

Other legends related that when St. Patrick drove the goblins out of
Ireland, he was greatly tormented in this place for forty days by
legions of black birds. The Irish betook themselves to the spot, and
experienced the same assaults which gave them an immunity from
Purgatory. According to the narrative of Giraldus Cambrensis, the
isle which served as the theatre of this strange superstition was
divided into two parts. One belonged to the monks, the other was
occupied by evil spirits, who celebrated religious rites in their
own manner, with an infernal uproar. Some people, for the expiation
of their sins, voluntarily exposed themselves to the fury of those
demons. There were nine ditches in which they lay for a night,
tormented in a thousand different ways. To make the descent it was
necessary to obtain the permission of the bishop. His duty it was to
dissuade the penitent from attempting the adventure, and to point
out to him how many people had gone in who had never come out again.
If the devotee persisted, he was ceremoniously conducted to the
shaft. He was lowered down by means of a rope, with a loaf and a
vessel of water to strengthen him in the combat against the fiend
which he proposed to wage. On the following morning the sacristan
offered the rope anew to the sufferer. If he mounted to the surface
again, they brought him back to the church, bearing the cross and
chanting psalms. If he were not to be found, the sacristan closed
the door and departed. In more modern times pilgrims to the sacred
isles spent nine days there. They passed over to them in a boat
hollowed out of the trunk of a tree. Once a day they drank of the
water of the lake; processions and stations were performed in the
beds or cells of the saints. Upon the ninth day the penitents
entered into the shaft. Sermons were preached to them warning them
of the danger they were about to run, and they were told of terrible
examples. They forgave their enemies and took farewell of one
another, as though they were at their last agony. According to
contemporary accounts, the shaft was a low and narrow kiln, into
which nine entered at a time, and in which the penitents passed a
day and a night, huddled and tightly pressed against one another.
Popular belief imagined an abyss underneath, to swallow up the
unworthy and the unbelieving. On emerging from the pit they went and
bathed in the lake, and so their Purgatory was accomplished. It
would appear from the accounts of eye-witnesses that, to this day,
things happen very nearly after the same fashion.

The immense reputation of the Purgatory of St. Patrick filled the
whole of the Middle Ages. Preachers made appeal to the public
notoriety of this great fact, to controvert those who had their
doubts regarding Purgatory. In the year 1358 Edward III. gave to a
Hungarian of noble birth, who had come from Hungary expressly to
visit the sacred well, letters patent attesting that he had
undergone his Purgatory. Narratives of those travels beyond the tomb
became a very fashionable form of literature; and it is important
for us to remark the wholly mythological, and as wholly Celtic,
characteristics dominant in them. It is in fact evident that we are
dealing with a mystery or local cult, anterior to Christianity, and
probably based upon the physical appearance of the country. The idea
of Purgatory, in its final and concrete form, fared specially well
amongst the Bretons and the Irish. Bede is one of the first to speak
of it in a descriptive manner, and the learned Mr. Wright very
justly observes that nearly all the descriptions of Purgatory come
from Irishmen, or from Anglo-Saxons who have resided in Ireland,
such as St. Fursey, Tundale, the Northumbrian Dryhthelm, and Knight
Owen. It is likewise a remarkable thing that only the Irish were
able to behold the marvels of their Purgatory. A canon from Hemstede
in Holland, who descended in 1494, saw nothing at all. Evidently
this idea of travels in the other world and its infernal categories,
as the Middle Ages accepted it, is Celtic. The belief in the three
circles of existence is again to be found in the Triads, [Footnote:
A series of aphorisms under the form of triplets, which give us,
with numerous interpolations, the ancient teaching of the bards, and
that traditional wisdom which, according to the testimony of the
ancients, was transmitted by means of mnemonic verses in the schools
of the Druids. under an aspect which does not permit one to see any
Christian interpolation.]

The soul's peregrinations after death are also the favourite theme
of the most ancient Armorican poetry. Among the features by which
the Celtic races most impressed the Romans were the precision of
their ideas upon the future life, their inclination to suicide, and
the loans and contracts which they signed with the other world in
view. The more frivolous peoples of the South saw with awe in this
assurance the fact of a mysterious race, having an understanding of
the future and the secret of death. Through the whole of classical
antiquity runs the tradition of an Isle of Shadows, situated on the
confines of Brittany, and of a folk devoted to the passage of souls,
which lives upon the neighbouring coast. In the night they hear dead
men prowling about their cabin, and knocking at the door. Then they
rise up; their craft is laden with invisible beings; on their return
it is lighter. Several of these features reproduced by Plutarch,
Claudian, Procopius, [Footnote: A Byzantine historian of the fifth
and sixth centuries.] and Tzetzes [Footnote: A Greek poet and
grammarian of the twelfth century.] would incline one to believe
that the renown of the Irish myths made its way into classical
antiquity about the first or second century. Plutarch, for example,
relates, concerning the Cronian Sea, fables identical with those
which fill the legend of St. Malo. Procopius, describing the sacred
Island of Brittia, which consists of two parts separated by the sea,
one delightful, the other given over to evil spirits, seems to have
read in advance the description of the Purgatory of St. Patrick,
which Giraldus Cambrensis was to give seven centuries later. It
cannot be doubted for a moment, after the able researches of Messrs.
Ozanam, Labitte, and Wright, that to the number of poetical themes
which Europe owes to the genius of the Celts, is to be added the
framework of the Divine Comedy.

One can understand how greatly this invincible attraction to fables
must have discredited the Celtic race in the eyes of nationalities
that believed themselves to be more serious. It is in truth a
strange thing, that the whole of the mediaeval epoch, whilst
submitting to the influence of the Celtic imagination, and borrowing
from Brittany and Ireland at least half of its poetical subjects,
believed itself obliged, for the saving of its own honour, to slight
and satirise the people to which it owed them. Even Chretien de
Troyes, for example, who passed his life in exploiting the Breton
romances for his own purposes, originated the saying--

    "Les Gallois sont tous par nature
     Plus sots que betes de pature."

Some English chronicler, I know not who, imagined he was making a
charming play upon words when he described those beautiful
creations, the whole world of which deserved to live, as "the
childish nonsense with which those brutes of Bretons amuse
themselves." The Bollandists [Footnote: A group of Jesuits who
issued a collection of "Lives of the Saints". The first five volumes
were edited by John Bolland.] found it incumbent to exclude from
their collection, as apocryphal extravagances, those admirable
religious legends, with which no Church has anything to compare. The
decided leaning of the Celtic race towards the ideal, its sadness,
its fidelity, its good faith, caused it to be regarded by its
neighbours as dull, foolish, and superstitious. They could not
understand its delicacy and refined manner of feeling. They mistook
for awkwardness the embarrassment experienced by sincere and open
natures in the presence of more artificial natures. The contrast
between French frivolity and Breton stubbornness above all led,
after the fourteenth century, to most deplorable conflicts, whence
the Bretons ever emerged with a reputation for wrong-headedness.

It was still worse, when the nation that most prides itself on its
practical good sense found confronting it the people that, to its
own misfortune, is least provided with that gift. Poor Ireland, with
her ancient mythology, with her Purgatory of St. Patrick, and her
fantastic travels of St. Brandan, was not destined to find grace in
the eyes of English puritanism. One ought to observe the disdain of
English critics for these fables, and their superb pity for the
Church which dallies with Paganism, so far as to keep up usages
which are notoriously derived from it. Assuredly we have here a
praiseworthy zeal, arising from natural goodness; and yet, even if
these flights of imagination did no more than render a little more
supportable many sufferings which are said to have no remedy, that
after all would be something. Who shall dare to say where, here on
earth, is the boundary between reason and dreaming? Which is worth
more, the imaginative instinct of man, or the narrow orthodoxy that
pretends to remain rational, when speaking of things divine? For my
own part, I prefer the frank mythology, with all its vagaries, to a
theology so paltry, so vulgar, and so colourless, that it would be
wronging God to believe that, after having made the visible world so
beautiful he should have made the invisible world so prosaically

In presence of the ever-encroaching progress of a civilisation which
is of no country, and can receive no name, other than that of modern
or European, it would be puerile to hope that the Celtic race is in
the future to succeed in obtaining isolated expression of its
originality. And yet we are far from believing that this race has
said its last word. After having put in practice all chivalries,
devout and worldly, gone with Peredur in quest of the Holy Grail and
fair ladies, and dreamed with St. Brandan of mystical Atlantides,
who knows what it would produce in the domain of intellect, if it
hardened itself to an entrance into the world, and subjected its
rich and profound nature to the conditions of modern thought? It
appears to me that there would result from this combination,
productions of high originality, a subtle and discreet manner of
taking life, a singular union of strength and weakness, of rude
simplicity and mildness. Few races have had so complete a poetic
childhood as the Celtic; mythology, lyric poetry, epic, romantic
imagination, religious enthusiasm--none of these failed them; why
should reflection fail them? Germany, which commenced with science
and criticism, has come to poetry; why should not the Celtic races,
which began with poetry, finish with criticism? There is not so
great a distance from one to the other as is supposed; the poetical
races are the philosophic races, and at bottom philosophy is only a
manner of poetry. When one considers how Germany, less than a
century ago, had her genius revealed to her, how a multitude of
national individualities, to all appearance effaced, have suddenly
risen again in our own days, more instinct with life than ever, one
feels persuaded that it is a rash thing to lay down any law on the
intermittence and awakening of nations; and that modern
civilisation, which appeared to be made to absorb them, may perhaps
be nothing more than their united fruition.







Lessing's life has been sketched in the introduction to his "Minna
von Barnhelm" in the volume of Continental Dramas in The Harvard

"The Education of the Human Race" is the culmination of a bitter
theological controversy which began with the publication by Lessing,
in 1774-1778, of a series of fragments of a work on natural religion
by the German deist, Reimarus. This action brought upon Lessing the
wrath of the orthodox German Protestants, led by J. M. Goeze, and in
the battle that followed Lessing did his great work for the
liberalising of religious thought in Germany. The present treatise
is an extraordinarily condensed statement of the author's attitude
towards the fundamental questions of religion, and gives his view of
the signification of the previous religious history of mankind,
along with his faith And hope for the future.

As originally issued, the essay purported to be merely edited by
Lessing; but there is no longer any doubt as to his having been its
author. It is an admirable and characteristic expression of the
serious and elevated spirit in which he dealt with matters that had
then, as often, been degraded by the virulence of controversy.



That which Education is to the Individual, Revelation is to the


Education is Revelation coming to the Individual Man; and Revelation
is Education which has come, and is yet coming, to the Human Race.


Whether it can be of any advantage to the science of instruction to
contemplate Education in this point of view, I will not here
inquire; but in Theology it may unquestionably be of great
advantage, and may remove many difficulties, if Revelation be
conceived of as the Educator of Humanity.


Education gives to Man nothing which he might not educe out of
himself; it gives him that which he might educe out of himself, only
quicker and more easily. In the same way too, Revelation gives
nothing to the human species, which the human reason left to itself
might not attain; only it has given, and still gives to it, the most
important of these things earlier.


And just as in Education, it is not a matter of indifference in what
order the powers of a man are developed, as it cannot impart to a
man all at once; so was God also necessitated to maintain a certain
order, and a certain measure in His Revelation.


Even if the first man were furnished at once with a conception of
the One God; yet it was not possible that this conception, imparted,
and not gained by thought, should subsist long in its clearness. As
soon as the Human Reason, left to itself, began to elaborate it, it
broke up the one Immeasurable into many Measurables, and gave a note
or sign of mark to every one of these parts.


Hence naturally arose polytheism and idolatry. And who can say how
many millions of years human reason would have been bewildered in
these errors, even though in all places and times there were
individual men who recognized them as errors, had it not pleased God
to afford it a better direction by means of a new Impulse?


But when He neither could nor would reveal Himself any more to each
individual man, He selected an individual People for His special
education; and that exactly the most rude and the most unruly, in
order to begin with it from the very commencement.


This was the Hebrew People, respecting whom we do not in the least
know what kind of Divine Worship they had in Egypt. For so despised
a race of slaves was not permitted to take part in the worship of
the Egyptians; and the God of their fathers was entirely unknown to


It is possible that the Egyptians had expressly prohibited the
Hebrews from having a God or Gods, perhaps they had forced upon them
the belief that their despised race had no God, no Gods, that to
have a God or Gods was the prerogative of the superior Egyptians
only, and this may have been so held in order to have the power of
tyrannising over them with a greater show of fairness. Do Christians
even now do much better with their slaves?


To this rude people God caused Himself to be announced first, simply
as "the God of their fathers," in order to make them acquainted and
familiar with the idea of a God belonging to them also, and to begin
with confidence in Him.


Through the miracles with which He led them out of Egypt, and
planted them in Canaan, He testified of Himself to them as a God
mightier than any other God.


And as He proceeded, demonstrating Himself to be the Mightiest of
all, which only One can be, He gradually accustomed them thus to the
idea of THE ONE.


But how far was this conception of The One, below the true
transcendental conception of the One which Reason learnt to derive,
so late with certainty, from the conception of the Infinite One?


Although the best of the people were already more or less
approaching the true conception of the One only, the people as a
whole could not for a long time elevate themselves to it. And this
was the sole true reason why they so often abandoned their one God,
and expected to find the One, i. e., as they meant, the Mightiest,
in some God or other, belonging to another people.


But of what kind of moral education was a people so raw, so
incapable of abstract thoughts, and so entirely in their childhood
capable? Of none other but such as is adapted to the age of
children, an education by rewards and punishments addressed to the


Here too Education and Revelation meet together. As yet God could
give to His people no other religion, no other law than one through
obedience to which they might hope to be happy, or through
disobedience to which they must fear to be unhappy. For as yet their
regards went no further than this earth. They knew of no immortality
of the soul; they yearned after no life to come. But now to reveal
these things to one whose reason had as yet so little growth, what
would it have been but the same fault in the Divine Rule as is
committed by the schoolmaster, who chooses to hurry his pupil too
rapidly, and boast of his progress, rather than thoroughly to ground


But, it will be asked, to what purpose was this education of so rude
a people, a people with whom God had to begin so entirely from the
beginning? I reply, in order that in the process of time He might
employ particular members of this nation as the Teachers of other
people. He was bringing up in them the future Teachers of the human
race. It was the Jews who became their teachers, none but Jews; only
men out of a people so brought up, could be their teachers.


For to proceed. When the Child by dint of blows and caresses had
grown and was now come to years of understanding, the Father sent it
at once into foreign countries: and here it recognised at once the
Good which in its Father's house it had possessed, and had not been
conscious of.


While God guided His chosen people through all the degrees of a
child-like education, the other nations of the earth had gone on by
the light of reason. The most part had remained far behind the
chosen people. Only a few had got before them. And this too, takes
place with children, who are allowed to grow up left to themselves:
many remain quite raw, some educate themselves even to an
astonishing degree.


But as these more fortunate few prove nothing against the use and
necessity of Education, so the few heathen nations, who even appear
to have made a start in the knowledge of God before the chosen
people, prove nothing against a Revelation. The Child of Education
begins with slow yet sure footsteps; it is late in overtaking many a
more happily organised child of nature; but it does overtake it; and
thenceforth can never be distanced by it again.


Similarly--Putting aside the doctrine of the Unity of God, which in
a way is found, and in a way is not found, in the books of the Old
Testament--that the doctrine of immortality at least is not
discoverable in it, is wholly foreign to it, that all doctrine
connected therewith of reward and punishment in a future life,
proves just as little against the Divine origin of these books.
Notwithstanding the absence of these doctrines, the account of
miracles and prophecies may be perfectly true. For let us suppose
that these doctrines were not only wanting therein, but even that
they were not at all true; let us suppose that for mankind all was
over in this life; would the Being of God be for this reason less
demonstrated? Would God be for this less at liberty, would it less
become Him to take immediate charge of the temporal fortunes of any
people out of this perishable race? The miracles which He performed
for the Jews, the prophecies which He caused to be recorded through
them, were surely not for the few mortal Jews, in whose time they
had happened and been recorded: He had His intentions therein in
reference to the whole Jewish people, to the entire Human Race,
which, perhaps, is destined to remain on earth forever, though every
individual Jew and every individual man die forever.


Once more, The absence of those doctrines in the writings of the Old
Testament proves nothing against their Divinity. Moses was sent from
God even though the sanction of his law only extended to this life.
For why should it extend further? He was surely sent only to the
Israelitish people of that time, and his commission was perfectly
adapted to the knowledge, capacities, yearnings of the then existing
Israelitish people, as well as to the destination of that which
belonged to the future. And this is sufficient.


So far ought Warburton to have gone, and no further. But that
learned man overdrew his bow. Not content that the absence of these
doctrines was no discredit to the Divine mission of Moses, it must
even be a proof to him of the Divinity of the mission. And if he had
only sought this proof in the adaptation of such a law to such a

But he betook himself to the hypothesis of a miraculous system
continued in an unbroken line from Moses to Christ, according to
which, God had made every individual Jew exactly happy or unhappy,
in the proportion to his obedience or disobedience to the law
deserved. He would have it that this miraculous system had
compensated for the want of those doctrines (of eternal rewards and
punishments, &c.), without which no state can subsist; and that such
a compensation even proved what that want at first sight appeared to


How well it was that Warburton could by no argument prove or even
make likely this continuous miracle, in which he placed the
existence of Israelitish Theocracy! For could he have done so, in
truth, he could then, and not till then, have made the difficulty
really insuperable, to me at least. For that which was meant to
prove the Divine character of the Mission of Moses, would have
rendered the matter itself doubtful, which God, it is true, did not
intend then to reveal; but which on the other hand, He certainly
would not render unattainable.


I explain myself by that which is a picture of Revelation. A Primer
for children may fairly pass over in silence this or that important
piece of knowledge or art which it expounds, respecting which the
Teacher judged, that it is not yet fitted for the capacities of the
children for whom he was writing. But it must contain absolutely
nothing which blocks up the way towards the knowledge which is held
back, or misleads the children from it. Rather far, all the
approaches towards it must be carefully left open; and to lead them
away from even one of these approaches, or to cause them to enter it
later than they need, would alone be enough to change the mere
imperfection of such a Primer into an actual fault.


In the same way, in the writings of the Old Testament those primers
for the rude Israelitish people, unpractised in thought, the
doctrines of the immortality of the soul, and future recompenses,
might be fairly left out: but they were bound to contain nothing
which could have even procrastinated the progress of the people, for
whom they were written, in their way to this grand truth. And to say
but a small thing, what could have more procrastinated it than the
promise of such a miraculous recompense in this life? A promise made
by Him who promises nothing that He does not perform.


For although unequal distribution of the goods of this life, Virtue
and Vice seem to be taken too little into consideration, although
this unequal distribution docs not exactly afford a strong proof of
the immortality of the soul and of a life to come, in which this
difficulty will be reserved hereafter, it is certain that without
this difficulty the human understanding would not for a long time,
perhaps never, have arrived at better or firmer proofs. For what was
to impel it to seek for these better proofs? Mere curiosity?


An Israelite here and there, no doubt, might have extended to every
individual member of the entire commonwealth, those promises and
threatenings which belong to it as a whole, and be firmly persuaded
that whosoever should be pious must also be happy, and that whoever
was unhappy must be bearing the penalty of his wrong-doing, which
penalty would forthwith change itself into blessing, as soon as he
abandoned his sin. Such a one appears to have written Job, for the
plan of it is entirely in this spirit.


But daily experience could not possibly be permitted to confirm this
belief, or else it would have been all over, for ever, with people
who had this experience, so far as all recognition and reception was
concerned of the truth as yet unfamiliar to them. For if the pious
were absolutely happy, and it also of course was a necessary part of
his happiness that his satisfaction should be broken by no uneasy
thoughts of death, and that he should die old, and satisfied with
life to the full: how could he yearn after another life? and how
could he reflect upon a thing after which he did not yearn? But if
the pious did not reflect thereupon, who then should reflect? The
transgressor? he who felt the punishments of his misdeeds, and if he
cursed this life, must have so gladly renounced that other


Much less would it signify if an Israelite here and there directly
and expressly denied the immortality of the soul and future
recompense, on account of the law having no reference thereto. The
denial of an individual, had it even been a Solomon, did not arrest
the progress of the general reason, and was even in itself a proof
that the nation had now come a great step nearer the truth For
individuals only deny what the many are bringing into consideration;
and to bring into consideration that, concerning which no one
troubled himself at all before, is half way to knowledge.


Let us also acknowledge that it is a heroic obedience to obey the
laws of God simply because they are God's laws, and not because He
has promised to reward the obedience to them here and there; to obey
them even though there be an entire despair of future recompense,
and uncertainty respecting a temporal one.


Must not a people educated in this heroic obedience towards God have
been destined, must they not have been capable beyond all others of
executing Divine purpose? of quite a special character? Let the
soldier, who pays blind obedience to his leader, become also
convinced of his leader's wisdom, and then say what that leader may
not undertake to achieve with him.


As yet the Jewish people had reverenced in their Jehovah rather the
mightiest than the wisest of all Gods; as yet they had rather feared
Him as a Jealous God than loved Him: a proof this too, that the
conception which they had of their eternal One God was not exactly
the right conception which we should have of God. However, now the
time was come that these conceptions of theirs were to be expanded,
ennobled, rectified, to accomplish which God availed Himself of a
quite natural means, a better and more correct measure, by which it
got the opportunity of appreciating Him.


Instead of, as hitherto, appreciating Him in contrast with the
miserable idols of the small neighboring peoples, with whom they
lived in constant rivalry, they began, in captivity under the wise
Persians, to measure Him against the "Being of all Beings" such as a
more disciplined reason recognized and reverenced.


Revelation had guided their reason, and now, all at once, reason
gave clearness to their Revelation.


This was the first reciprocal influence which these two (Reason and
Revelation) exercised on one another; and so far is the mutual
influence from being unbecoming to the Author of them both, that
without it either of them would have been useless.


The child, sent abroad, saw other children who knew more, who lived
more becomingly, and asked itself, in confusion, "Why do I not know
that too? Why do I not live so too? Ought I not to have been taught
and admonished of all this in my father's house?" Thereupon it again
sought out its Primer, which had long been thrown into a corner, in
order to throw off a blame upon the Primer. But behold, it discovers
that the blame does not rest upon the books, that the shame is
solely its own, for not having long ago, known this very thing, and
lived in this very way.


Since the Jews, by this time, through the medium of the pure Persian
doctrine, recognized in their Jehovah, not simply the greatest of
all national deities, but GOD; and since they could, the more
readily find Him and indicate Him to others in their sacred
writings, inasmuch as He was really in them; and since they
manifested as great an aversion for sensuous representations, or at
all events, were instructed in these Scriptures, to have an aversion
to them as great as the Persians had always felt; what wonder that
they found favor in the eyes of Cyrus, with a Divine Worship which
he recognized as being, no doubt, far below pure Sabeism, but yet
far above the rude idolatries which in its stead had taken
possession of the forsaken land of the Jews.


Thus enlightened respecting the treasures which they had possessed,
without knowing it, they returned, and became quite another people,
whose first care it was to give permanency to this illumination
amongst themselves. Soon an apostacy and idolatry among them was out
of the question. For it is possible to be faithless to a national
deity, but never to God, after He has once been recognised.

The theologians have tried to explain this complete change in the
Jewish people in a different way; and one, who has well demonstrated
the insufficiency of these explanations, at last was for giving us,
as a true account--"the visible fulfilment of the prophecies which
had been spoken and written respecting the Babylonish captivity and
the restoration from it." But even this reason can be only so far
the true one, as it presupposes the, by this time, exalted ideas of
God. The Jews must by this time have recognised that to do miracles,
and to predict the future, belonged only to God, both of which they
had ascribed formerly to false idols, by which it came to pass that
even miracles and prophecies had hitherto made so weak an impression
upon them.


Doubtless, the Jews were made more acquainted with the doctrine of
immortality among the Chaldeans and Persians. They became more
familiar with it too in the schools of the Greek Philosophers in


However, as this doctrine was not in the same condition in reference
to their Scriptures that the doctrines of God's Unity and Attributes
were--since the former were entirely overlooked by that sensual
people, while the latter would be sought for:--and since too, for
the former, previous exercising was necessary, and as yet there had
been only hints and allusions, the faith in the immortality of the
soul could naturally never be the faith of the entire people. It was
and continued to be only the creed of a certain section of them.


An example of what I mean by "previous exercising" for the doctrine
of immortality, is the Divine threatenings of punishing the misdeeds
of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth
generation. This accustomed the fathers to live in thought with
their remotest posterity, and to feel, as it were, beforehand, the
misfortune which they had brought upon these guiltless ones.


By an allusion I mean that which was intended only to excite
curiosity and to occasion questions. As, for instance, the oft-
recurring mode of expression, describing death by "he was gathered
to his fathers."

By a "hint" I mean that which already contains any germ, out of
which the, as yet, held back truth allows itself to be developed. Of
this character was the inference of Christ from the naming of God
"the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." This hint appears to me to
be unquestionably capable of being worked out into a strong proof.


In such previous exercitations, allusions, hints, consists the
positive perfection of a Primer; just as the above-mentioned
peculiarity of not throwing difficulties or hindrances in the way to
the suppressed truth constitutes the negative perfection of such a


Add to all this the clothing and style.

1. The clothing of abstract truths, which were not entirely to be
passed over, in allegories and instructive single circumstances,
which were narrated as actual occurrences. Of this character are the
Creation under the image of growing Day; the Origin of Evil in the
story of the Forbidden Tree; the source of the variety of languages
in the history of the Tower of Babel, &c.

49 2. The style--sometimes plain and simple, sometimes poetical,
throughout full of tautologies, but of such a kind as practised
sagacity, since they sometimes appear to be saying something else,
and yet the same thing; sometimes the same thing over again, and yet
to signify or to be capable of signifying at the bottom, something


And then you have all the properties of excellence which belong to a
Primer for a childlike people, as well as for children.


But every Primer is only for a certain age. To delay the child, that
has outgrown it, longer in it than it was intended for, is hurtful.
For to be able to do this is a way in any sort profitable, you must
insert into it more than there is really in it, and extract from it
more than it can contain. You must look for and make too much of
allusions and hints; squeeze allegories too closely; interpret
examples too circumstantially; press too much upon words. This gives
the child a petty, crooked, hair splitting understanding: it makes
him full of mysteries, superstitions; full of contempt for all that
is comprehensible and easy.


The very way in which the Rabbins handled their sacred books! The
very character which they thereby imparted to the character of their


A Better Instructor must come and tear the exhausted Primer from the
child's hands. CHRIST came!


That portion of the human race which God had willed to comprehend in
one Educational plan, was ripe for the Second step of Education. He
had, however, only willed to comprehend on such a plan, one which by
language, mode of action, government, and other natural and
political relationships, was already united in itself.


That is, this portion of the human race was come so far in the
exercise of its reason, as to need, and to be able to make use of
nobler and worthier motives of moral action than temporal rewards
and punishments, which had hitherto been its guides. The child had
become a youth. Sweetmeats and toys have given place to the budding
desire to go as free, as honored, and as happy as its elder brother.


For a long time, already, the best individuals of that portion of
the human race (called above the elder brother); had been accustomed
to let themselves be ruled by the shadow of such nobler motives. The
Greek and Roman did everything to live on after this life, even if
it were only in the remembrance of their fellow-citizens.


It was time that another true life to be expected after this should
gain an influence over the youth's actions.


And so Christ was the first certain practical Teacher of the
immortality of the soul.


The first certain Teacher. Certain, through the prophecies which
were fulfilled in Him; certain, through the miracles which He
achieved; certain, through His own revival after a death through
which He had sealed His doctrine. Whether we can still prove this
revival, these miracles, I put aside, as I leave on one side who the
Person of Christ was. All that may have been at that time of great
weight for the reception of His doctrine, but it is now no longer of
the same importance for the recognition of the truth of His


The first practical Teacher. For it is one thing to conjecture, to
wish, and to believe the immortality of the soul, as a philosophic
speculation: quite another thing to direct the inner and outer acts
by it.


And this at least Christ was the first to teach. For although,
already before Him, the belief had been introduced among many
nations, that bad actions have yet to be punished in that life; yet
they were only such actions as were injurious to civil society, and
consequently, too, had already had their punishment in civil
society. To enforce an inward purity of heart in reference to
another life, was reserved for Him alone.


His disciples have faithfully propagated these doctrines: and if
they had even had no other merit, than that of having effected a
more general publication, among other nations, of a Truth which
Christ had appeared to have destined only for the Jews, yet would
they have even on that account alone, to be reckoned among the
Benefactors and Fosterers of the Human Race.


If, however, they transplanted this one great Truth together with
other doctrines, whose truth was less enlightening, whose usefulness
was of a less exalted character, how could it be otherwise. Let us
not blame them for this, but rather seriously examine whether these
very commingled doctrines have not become a new impulse of
directions for human reason.


At least, it is already clear that the New Testament Scriptures, in
which these doctrines after some time were found preserved, have
afforded, and still afford, the second better Primer for the race of


For seven hundred years past they have exercised human reason more
than all other books, and enlightened it more, were it even only
through the light which the human reason itself threw into them.


It would have been impossible for any other book to become so
generally known among different nations: and indisputably, the fact
that modes of thought so diverse from each other have been occupied
on the same book, has helped on the human reason more than if every
nation had had its own Primer specially for itself.


It was also highly necessary that each people for a period should
hold this Book as the ne plus ultra of their knowledge. For the
youth must consider his Primer as the first of all books, that the
impatience to finish this book, may not hurry him on to things for
which he has, as yet, laid no basis.


And one thing is also of the greatest importance even now. Thou
abler spirit, who art fretting and restless over the last page of
the Primer, beware! Beware of letting thy weaker fellow scholars
mark what thou perceivest afar, or what thou art beginning to see!

Until these weaker fellow scholars are up with thee, rather return
once more into this Primer, and examine whether that which thou
takest only for duplicates of the method, for a blunder in the
teaching, is not perhaps something more.


Thou hast seen in the childhood of the human race, respecting the
doctrine of God's unity, that God makes immediate revelations of
mere truths of reason, or has permitted and caused pure truths of
reason to be taught, for some time, as truths of immediate
revelation, in order to promulgate them the more rapidly, and ground
them the more firmly.


Thou experiencest in the boyhood of the Race the same thing in
reference to the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. It is
preached in the better Primer as a Revelation, instead of taught as
a result of human reason.


As we by this time can dispense with the Old Testament, in reference
to the doctrine of the unity of God, and as we are by degrees
beginning also to be less dependent on the New Testament, in
reference to the immortality of the soul: might there not in this
Book also be other truths of the same sort prefigured, mirrored, as
it were, which we are to marvel at, as revelations, exactly so long
as until the time shall come when reason shall have learned to educe
them, out of its other demonstrated truths and bind them up with


For instance, the doctrine of the Trinity. How if this doctrine
should at last, after endless errors, right and left, only bring men
on the road to recognise that God cannot possibly be One in the
sense in which finite things are one, that even His unity must be a
transcendental unity, which does not exclude a sort of purality?
Must not God at least have the most perfect conception of Himself,
i. e., a conception in which is found everything which is in Him?
But would everything be found in it which is in Him, if a mere
conception, a mere possibility, were found even of his necessary
Reality as well as of His other qualities? This possibility exhausts
the being of His other qualities. Does it that of His necessary
Reality? I think not. Consequently God can either have no perfect
conception of himself at all, or this perfect conception is just as
necessarily real, i. e., actually existent, as He Himself is.
Certainly the image of myself in the mirror is nothing but an empty
representation of me, because it only has that of me upon the
surface of which beams of light fall. But now if this image had
everything, everything without exception, which I have myself, would
it then still be a mere empty representation, or not rather a true
reduplication of myself? When I believe that I recognise in God a
familiar reduplication, I perhaps do not so much err, as that my
language is insufficient for my ideas: and so much at least for ever
incontrovertible, that they who wish to make the idea thereof
popular for comprehension, could scarcely have expressed themselves
more intelligibly and suitably than by giving the name of a Son
begotten from Eternity.


And the doctrine of Original Sin. How, if at last everything were to
convince us that man standing on the first and lowest step of his
humanity, is not so entirely master of his actions as to be able to
obey moral laws?


And the doctrine of the Son's satisfaction. How, if at last, all
compelled us to assume that God, in spite of that original
incapacity of man, chose rather to give him moral laws, and forgive
him all transgressions in consideration of His Son, i. e., in
consideration of the self-existent total of all His own perfections,
compared with which, and in which, all imperfections of the
individual disappear, than not to give him those laws, and then to
exclude him from all moral blessedness, which cannot be conceived of
without moral laws.

Let it not be objected that speculations of this description upon
the mysteries of religion are forbidden. The word mystery signified,
in the first ages of Christianity, something quite different from
what it means now: and the cultivation of revealed truths into
truths of reason, is absolutely necessary, if the human race is to
be assisted by them. When they were revealed they were certainly no
truths of reason, but they were revealed in order to become such.
They were like the "that makes"--of the ciphering master, which he
says to the boys, beforehand, in order to direct them thereby in
their reckoning. If the scholars were to be satisfied with the "that
makes," they would never learn to calculate, and would frustrate the
intention with which their good master gave them a guiding clue in
their work.


And why should not we too, by the means of a religion whose
historical truth, if you will, looks dubious, be conducted in a
familiar way to closer and better conceptions of the Divine Being,
our own nature, our relation to God, truths at which the human
reason would never have arrived of itself?


It is not true that speculations upon these things have ever done
harm or become injurious to the body politic. You must reproach, not
the speculations, but the folly and the tyranny of checking them.
You must lay the blame on those who would not permit men having
their own speculations to exercise them.


On the contrary, speculations of this sort, whatever the result, are
unquestionably the most fitting exercises of the human heart,
generally, so long as the human heart, generally, is at best only
capable of loving virtue for the sake of its eternal blessed


For in this selfishness of the human heart, to will to practice the
understanding too, only on that which concerns our corporal needs,
would be to blunt rather than to sharpen it. It absolutely will be
exercised on spiritual objects, if it is to attain its perfect
illumination, and bring out that purity of heart which makes us
capable of loving virtue for its own sake alone.


Or, is the human species never to arrive at this highest step of
illumination and purity?--Never?


Never?--Let me not think this blasphemy, All Merciful! Education has
its goal, in the Race, no less than in the Individual. That which is
educated is educated for something.


The flattering prospects which are open to the people, the Honor and
Well-being which are painted to him, what are they more than the
means of educating him to become a man, who, when these prospects of
Honor and Well-being have vanished, shall be able to do his Duty?


This is the aim of human education, and should not the Divine
education extend as far? Is that which is successful in the way of
Art with the individual, not to be successful in the way of Nature
with the whole? Blasphemy! Blasphemy!!


No! It will come! it will assuredly come! the time of the
perfecting, when man, the more convinced his understanding feels
itself of an ever better Future, will nevertheless not be
necessitated to borrow motives of action from this Future; for he
will do the Right because it is right, not because arbitrary rewards
are annexed thereto, which formerly were intended simply to fix and
strengthen his unsteady gaze in recognising the inner, better,
rewards of well-doing.


It will assuredly come! the time of a new eternal Gospel, which is
promised us in the Primer of the New Testament itself!


Perhaps even some enthusiasts of the thirteenth and fourteenth
centuries had caught a glimpse of a beam of this new eternal Gospel,
and only erred in that they predicted its outburst at so near to
their own time.


Perhaps their "Three Ages of the World" were not so empty a
speculation after all, and assuredly they had no contemptible views
when they taught that the New Covenant must become as much
antiquated as the old has been. There remained by them the
similarity of the economy of the same God. Ever, to let them speak
my words, ever the self-same plan of the Education of the Race.


Only they were premature. Only they believed that they could make
their contemporaries, who had scarcely outgrown their childhood,
without enlightenment, without preparation, men worthy of their
Third Age.


And it was just this which made them enthusiasts. The enthusiast
often casts true glances into the future, but for this future he
cannot wait. He wishes this future accelerated, and accelerated
through him. That for which nature takes thousands of years is to
mature itself in the moment of his existence. For what possession
has he in it if that which he recognises as the Best does not become
the best in his lifetime? Does he come back? Does he expect to come
back? Marvellous only that this enthusiastic expectation does not
become more the fashion among enthusiasts. 91

Go thine inscrutable way, Eternal Providence! Only let me not
despair in Thee, because of this inscrutableness. Let me not despair
in Thee, even if Thy steps appear to me to be going back. It is not
true that the shortest line is always straight.


Thou hast on Thine Eternal Way so much to carry on together, so much
to do! So many aside steps to take! And what if it were as good as
proved that the vast flow wheel which brings mankind nearer to this
perfection is only put in motion by smaller, swifter wheels, each of
which contributes its own individual unit thereto?


It is so! The very same Way by which the Race reaches its
perfection, must every individual man--one sooner--another later--
have travelled over. Have travelled over in one and the same life?
Can he have been, in one and the self-same life, a sensual Jew and a
spiritual Christian? Can he in the self-same life have overtaken


Surely not that! But why should not every individual man have
existed more than once upon this World?


Is this hypothesis so laughable merely because it is the oldest?
Because the human understanding, before the sophistries of the
Schools had dissipated and debilitated it, lighted upon it at once?

Why may not even I have already performed those steps of my
perfecting which bring to man only temporal punishments and rewards?


And once more, why not another time all those steps, to perform
which the views of Eternal Rewards so powerfully assist us?

Why should I not come back as often as I am capable of acquiring
fresh knowledge, fresh expertness? Do I bring away so much from
once, that there is nothing to repay the trouble of coming back?


Is this a reason against it? Or, because I forget that I have been
here already? Happy is it for me that I do forget. The recollection
of my former condition would permit me to make only a bad use of the
present. And that which even I must forget now, is that necessarily
forgotten for ever?


Or is it a reason against the hypothesis that so much time would
have been lost to me? Lost?--And how much then should I miss?--Is
not a whole Eternity mine?





An outline of the life of Schiller will be found prefixed to the
translation of "Wilhelm Tell" in the volume of Continental Dramas in
The Harvard Classics.

Schiller's importance in the intellectual history of Germany is by
no means confined to his poetry and dramas. He did notable work in
history and philosophy, and in the department of esthetics
especially, he made significant contributions, modifying and
developing in important respects the doctrines of Kant. In the
letters on "Esthetic Education" which are here printed, he gives the
philosophic basis for his doctrine of art, and indicates clearly and
persuasively his view of the place of beauty in human life.



By your permission I lay before you, in a series of letters, the
results of my researches upon beauty and art. I am keenly sensible
of the importance as well as of the charm and dignity of this
undertaking. I shall treat a subject which is closely connected with
the better portion of our happiness and not far removed from the
moral nobility of human nature. I shall plead this cause of the
Beautiful before a heart by which her whole power is felt and
exercised, and which will take upon itself the most difficult part
of my task in an investigation where one is compelled to appeal as
frequently to feelings as to principles.

That which I would beg of you as a favour, you generously impose
upon me as a duty; and, when I solely consult my inclination, you
impute to me a service. The liberty of action you prescribe is
rather a necessity for me than a constraint little exercised in
formal rules, I shall scarcely incur the risk of sinning against
good taste by any undue use of them; my ideas, drawn rather from
within than from reading or from an intimate experience with the
world, will not disown their origin; they would rather incur any
reproach than that of a sectarian bias, and would prefer to succumb
by their innate feebleness than sustain themselves by borrowed
authority and foreign support.

In truth, I will not keep back from you that the assertions which
follow rest chiefly upon Kantian principles; but if in the course of
these researches you should be reminded of any special school of
philosophy, ascribe it to my incapacity, not to those principles.
No; your liberty of mind shall be sacred to me; and the facts upon
which I build will be furnished by your own sentiments; your own
unfettered thought will dictate the laws according to which we to

With regard to the ideas which predominate in the practical part of
Kant's system, philosophers only disagree, whilst mankind, I am
confident of proving, have never done so. If stripped of their
technical shape, they will appear as the verdict of reason
pronounced from time immemorial by common consent, and as facts of
the moral instinct which nature, in her wisdom, has given to man in
order to serve as guide and teacher until his enlightened
intelligence gives him maturity. But this very technical shape which
renders truth visible to the understanding conceals it from the
feelings; for, unhappily, understanding begins by destroying the
object of the inner sense before it can appropriate the object. Like
the chemist, the philosopher finds synthesis only by analysis, or
the spontaneous work of nature only through the torture of art.
Thus, in order to detain the fleeting apparition, he must enchain it
in the fetters of rule, dissect its fair proportions into abstract
notions, and preserve its living spirit in a fleshless skeleton of
words. Is it surprising that natural feeling should not recognise
itself in such a copy, and if in the report of the analyst the truth
appears as paradox?

Permit me therefore to crave your indulgence if the following
researches should remove their object from the sphere of sense while
endeavouring to draw it towards the understanding. That which I
before said of moral experience can be applied with greater truth to
the manifestation of "the beautiful." It is the mystery which
enchants, and its being is extinguished with the extinction of the
necessary combination of its elements.


But I might perhaps make a better use of the opening you afford me
if I were to direct your mind to a loftier theme than that of art.
It would appear to be unseasonable to go in search of a code for the
aesthetic world, when the moral world offers matter of so much
higher interest, and when the spirit of philosophical inquiry is so
stringently challenged by the circumstances of our times to occupy
itself with the most perfect of all works of art--the establishment
and structure of a true political freedom.

It is unsatisfactory to live out of your own age and to work for
other times. It is equally incumbent on us to be good members of our
own age as of our own state or country. If it is conceived to be
unseemly and even unlawful for a man to segregate himself from the
customs and manners of the circle in which he lives, it would be
inconsistent not to see that it is equally his duty to grant a
proper share of influence to the voice of his own epoch, to its
taste and its requirements, in the operations in which he engages.

But the voice of our age seems by no means favorable to art, at all
events to that kind of art to which my inquiry is directed. The
course of events has given a direction to the genius of the time
that threatens to remove it continually further from the ideal of
art. For art has to leave reality, it has to raise itself bodily
above necessity and neediness for art is the daughter of freedom,
and it requires its prescriptions and rules to be furnished by the
necessity of spirits and not by that of matter. But in our day it is
necessity, neediness, that prevails, and bends a degraded humanity
under its iron yoke. Utility is the great idol of the time, to which
all powers do homage and all subjects are subservient. In this great
balance of utility, the spiritual service of art has no weight, and,
deprived of all encouragement, it vanishes from the noisy Vanity
Fair of our time. The very spirit of philosophical inquiry itself
robs the imagination of one promise after another, and the frontiers
of art are narrowed, in proportion as the limits of science are

The eyes of the philosopher as well as of the man of the world are
anxiously turned to the theatre of political events, where it is
presumed the great destiny of man is to be played out. It would
almost seem to betray e culpable indifference to the welfare of
society if we did not share this general interest. For this great
commerce in social and moral principles is of necessity a matter of
the greatest concern to every human being, on the ground both of its
subject and of its results. It must accordingly be of deepest moment
to every man to think for himself. It would seem that now at length
a question that formerly was only settled by the law of the stronger
is to be determined by the calm judgment of the reason, and every
man who is capable of placing himself in a central position, and
raising his individuality into that of his species, can look upon
himself as in possession of this judicial faculty of reason; being
moreover, as man and member of the human family, a party in the case
under trial and involved more or less in its decisions. It would
thus appear that this great political process is not only engaged
with his individual case, it has also to pronounce enactments, which
he as a rational spirit is capable of enunciating and entitled to

It is evident that it would have been most attractive to me to
inquire into an object such as this, to decide such a question in
conjunction with a thinker of powerful mind, a man of liberal
sympathies, and a heart imbued with a noble enthusiasm for the weal
of humanity. Though so widely separated by worldly position, it
would have been a delightful surprise to have found your
unprejudiced mind arriving at the same result as my own in the field
of ideas, Nevertheless, I think I can not only excuse, but even
justify by solid grounds, my step in resisting this attractive
purpose and in preferring beauty to freedom. I hope that I shall
succeed in convincing you that this matter of art is less foreign to
the needs than to the tastes of our age; nay, that, to arrive at a
solution even in the political problem, the road of aesthetics must
be pursued, because it is through beauty that we arrive at freedom.
But I cannot carry out this proof without my bringing to your
remembrance the principles by which the reason is guided in
political legislation.


Man is not better treated by nature in his first start than her
other works are; so long as he is unable to act for himself as an
independent intelligence, she acts for him. But the very fact that
constitutes him a man is, that he does not remain stationary, where
nature has placed him, that he can pass with his reason, retracing
the steps nature had made him anticipate, that he can convert the
work of necessity into one of free solution, and elevate physical
necessity into a moral law.

When man is raised from his slumber in the senses, he feels that he
is a man, he surveys his surroundings, and finds that he is in a
state. He was introduced into this state, by the power of
circumstances, before he could freely select his own position. But
as a moral being he cannot possibly rest satisfied with a political
condition  forced upon him by necessity, and only calculated for
that condition; and it would be unfortunate if this did satisfy him.
In many cases man shakes off this blind law of necessity, by his
free spontaneous action, of which among many others we have an
instance, in his ennobling by beauty and suppressing by moral
influence the powerful impulse implanted in him by nature in the
passion of love. Thus, when arrived at maturity, he recovers his
childhood by an artificial process, he founds a state of nature in
his ideas, not given him by any experience, but established by the
necessary laws and conditions of his reason, and he attributes to
this ideal condition an object, an aim, of which he was not
cognisant in the actual reality of nature. He gives himself a choice
of which he was not capable before, and sets to work just as if he
were beginning anew, and were exchanging his original state of
bondage for one of complete independence, doing this with complete
insight and of his free decision. He is justified in regarding this
work of political thraldom as non-existing, though a wild and
arbitrary caprice may have founded its work very artfully; though it
may strive to maintain it with great arrogance and encompass it with
a halo of veneration. For the work of blind powers possesses no
authority, before which freedom need bow, and all must be made to
adapt itself to the highest end which reason has set up in his
personality. It is in this wise that a people in a state of manhood
is justified in exchanging a condition of thraldom for one of moral

Now the term natural condition can be applied to every political
body which owes its establishment originally to forces and not to
laws, and such a state contradicts the moral nature of man, because
lawfulness can alone have authority over this. At the same time this
natural condition is quite sufficient for the physical man, who only
gives himself laws in order to get rid of brute force. Moreover, the
physical man is a reality, and the moral man problematical.
Therefore when the reason suppresses the natural condition, as she
must if she wishes to substitute her own, she weighs the real
physical man against the problematical moral man, she weighs the
existence of society against a possible, though morally necessary,
ideal of society. She takes from man something which he really
possesses, and without which he possesses nothing, and refers him as
a substitute to something that he ought to possess and might
possess; and if reason had relied too exclusively on him, she might,
in order to secure him a state of humanity in which he is wanting
and can want without injury to his life, have robbed him even of the
means of animal existence which is the first necessary condition of
his being a man. Before he had opportunity to hold firm to the law
with his will, reason would have withdrawn from his feet the ladder
of nature.

The great point is therefore to reconcile these two considerations:
to prevent physical society from ceasing for a moment in time, while
the moral society is being formed in the idea; in other words, to
prevent its existence from being placed in jeopardy, for the sake of
the moral dignity of man. When the mechanic has to mend a watch, he
lets the wheels run out, but the living watchworks of the state have
to be repaired while they act, and a wheel has to be exchanged for
another during its revolutions. Accordingly props must be sought for
to support society and keep it going while it is made independent of
the natural condition from which it is sought to emancipate it.

This prop is not found in the natural character of man, who, being
selfish and violent, directs his energies rather to the destruction
than to the preservation of society. Nor is it found in his moral
character, which has to be formed, which can never be worked upon or
calculated on by the lawgiver, because it is free and never appears.
It would seem therefore that another measure must be adopted. It
would seem that the physical character of the arbitrary must be
separated from moral freedom; that it is incumbent to make the
former harmonise with the laws and the latter dependent on
impressions; it would be expedient to remove the former still
farther from matter and to bring the latter somewhat more near to
it; in short to produce a third character related to both the
others--the physical and the moral--paving the way to a transition
from the sway of mere force to that of law, without preventing the
proper development of the moral character, but serving rather as a
pledge in the sensuous sphere of a morality in the unseen.


Thus much is certain. It is only when a third character, as
previously suggested, has preponderance that a revolution in a state
according to moral principles can be free from injurious
consequences; nor can anything else secure its endurance. In
proposing or setting up a moral state, the moral law is relied upon
as a real power, and free will is drawn into the realm of causes,
where all hangs together, mutually with stringent necessity and
rigidity. But we know that the condition of the human will always
remains contingent, and that only in the Absolute Being physical
coexists with moral necessity. Accordingly if it is wished to depend
on the moral conduct of man as on natural results, this conduct must
become nature, and he must be led by natural impulse to such a
course of action as can only and invariably have moral results. But
the will of man is perfectly free between inclination and duty, and
no physical necessity ought to enter as a sharer in this magisterial
personality. If therefore he is to retain this power of solution,
and yet become a reliable link in the causal concatenation of
forces, this can only be effected when the operations of both these
impulses are presented quite equally in the world of appearances. It
is only possible when, with every difference of form, the matter of
man's volition remains the same, when all his impulses agreeing with
his reason are sufficient to have the value of a universal

It may be urged that every individual man carries, within himself,
at least in his adaptation and destination, a purely ideal man. The
great problem of his existence is to bring all the incessant changes
of his outer life into conformity with the unchanging unity of this
ideal. This pure ideal man, which makes itself known more or less
clearly in every subject, is represented by the state, which is the
objective and, so to speak, canonical form in which the manifold
differences of the subjects strive to unite. Now two ways present
themselves to the thought, in which the man of time can agree with
the man of idea, and there are also two ways in which the state can
maintain itself in individuals. One of these ways is when the pure
ideal man subdues the empirical man, and the state suppresses the
individual, or again when the individual BECOMES the state, and the
man of time is ENNOBLED to the man of idea.

I admit that in a one-sided estimate from the point of view of
morality this difference vanishes, for the reason is satisfied if
her law prevails unconditionally. But when the survey taken is
complete and embraces the whole man (anthropology), where the form
is considered together with the substance, and a living feeling has
a voice, the difference will become far more evident. No doubt the
reason demands unity, and nature variety, and both legislations take
man in hand. The law of the former is stamped upon him by an
incorruptible consciousness, that of the latter by an ineradicable
feeling. Consequently education will always appear deficient when
the moral feeling can only be maintained with the sacrifice of what
is natural; and a political administration will always be very
imperfect when it is only able to bring about unity by suppressing
variety. The state ought not only to respect the objective and
generic but also the subjective and specific in individuals; and
while diffusing the unseen world of morals, it must not depopulate
the kingdom of appearance, the external world of matter.

When the mechanical artist places his hand on the formless block, to
give it a form according to his intention, he has not any scruples
in doing violence to it. For the nature on which he works does not
deserve any respect in itself, and he does not value the whole for
its parts, but the parts on account of the whole. When the child of
the fine arts sets his hand to the same block, he has no scruples
either in doing violence to it, he only avoids showing this
violence. He does not respect the matter in which he works, any more
than the mechanical artist; but he seeks by an apparent
consideration for it to deceive the eye which takes this matter
under its protection. The political and educating artist follows a
very different course, while making man at once his material and his
end. In this case the aim or end meets in the material, and it is
only because the whole serves the parts that the parts adapt
themselves to the end. The political artist has to treat his
material--man--with a very different kind of respect from that shown
by the artist of fine art to his work. He must spare man's
peculiarity and personality, not to produce a deceptive effect on
the senses, but objectively and out of consideration for his inner

But the state is an organisation which fashions itself through
itself and for itself, and for this reason it can only be realised
when the parts have been accorded to the idea of the whole. The
state serves the purpose of a representative, both to pure ideal and
to objective humanity, in the breast of its citizens, accordingly it
will have to observe the same relation to its citizens in which they
are placed to it, and it will only respect their subjective humanity
in the same degree that it is ennobled to an objective existence. If
the internal man is one with himself, he will be able to rescue his
peculiarity, even in the greatest generalisation of his conduct, and
the state will only become the exponent of his fine instinct, the
clearer formula of his internal legislation. But if the subjective
man is in conflict with the objective and contradicts him in the
character of the people, so that only the oppression of the former
can give the victory to the latter, then the state will take up the
severe aspect of the law against the citizen, and in order not to
fall a sacrifice, it will have to crush under foot such a hostile
individuality, without any compromise.

Now man can be opposed to himself in a twofold manner: either as a
savage, when his feelings rule over his principles; or as a
barbarian, when his principles destroy his feelings. The savage
despises art, and acknowledges nature as his despotic ruler; the
barbarian laughs at nature, and dishonours it, but he often proceeds
in a more contemptible way than the savage, to be the slave of his
senses. The cultivated man makes of nature his friend, and honours
its friendship, while only bridling its caprice.

Consequently, when reason brings her moral unity into physical
society, she must not injure the manifold in nature. When nature
strives to maintain her manifold character in the moral structure of
society, this must not create any breach in moral unity; the
victorious form is equally remote from uniformity and confusion.
Therefore, TOTALITY of character must be found in the people which
is capable and worthy to exchange the state of necessity for that of


Does the present age, do passing events, present this character? I
direct my attention at once to the most prominent object in this
vast structure.

It is true that the consideration of opinion is fallen, caprice is
unnerved, and, although still armed with power, receives no longer
any respect. Man has awaked from his long lethargy and self-
deception, and he demands with impressive unanimity to be restored
to his imperishable rights. But he does not only demand them; he
rises on all sides to seize by force what, in his opinion, has been
unjustly wrested from him. The edifice of the natural state is
tottering, its foundations shake, and a physical possibility seems
at length granted to place law on the throne, to honour man at
length as an end, and to make true freedom the basis of political
union. Vain hope! The moral possibility is wanting, and the generous
occasion finds an unsusceptible rule.

Man paints himself in his actions, and what is the form depicted in
the drama of the present time? On the one hand, he is seen running
wild, on the other in a state of lethargy; the two extremest stages
of human degeneracy, and both seen in one and the same period.

In the lower larger masses, coarse, lawless impulses come to view,
breaking loose when the bonds of civil order are burst asunder, and
hastening with unbridled fury to satisfy their savage instinct.
Objective humanity may have had cause to complain of the state; yet
subjective man must honour its institutions. Ought he to be blamed
because he lost sight of the dignity of human nature, so long as he
was concerned in preserving his existence? Can we blame him that he
proceeded to separate by the force of gravity, to fasten by the
force of cohesion, at a time when there could be no thought of
building or raising up? The extinction of the state contains its
justification. Society set free, instead of hastening upward into
organic life, collapses into its elements.

On the other hand, the civilized classes give us the still more
repulsive sight of lethargy, and of a depravity of character which
is the more revolting because it roots in culture. I forget who of
the older or more recent philosophers makes the remark, that what is
more noble is the more revolting in its destruction. The remark
applies with truth to the world of morals. The child of nature, when
he breaks loose, becomes a madman; but the art scholar, when he
breaks loose, becomes a debased character. The enlightenment of the
understanding, on which the more refined classes pride themselves
with some ground, shows on the whole so little of an ennobling
influence on the mind that it seems rather to confirm corruption by
its maxims. We deny nature in her legitimate field and feel her
tyranny in the moral sphere, and while resisting her impressions, we
receive our principles from her. While the affected decency of our
manners does not even grant to nature a pardonable influence in the
initial stage, our materialistic system of morals allows her the
casting vote in the last and essential stage. Egotism has founded
its system in the very bosom of a refined society, and without
developing even a sociable character, we feel all the contagions and
miseries of society. We subject our free judgment to its despotic
opinions, our feelings to its bizarre customs, and our will to its
seductions. We only maintain our caprice against her holy rights.
The man of the world has his heart contracted by a proud self-
complacency, while that of the man of nature often beats in
sympathy; and every man seeks for nothing more than to save his
wretched property from the general destruction, as it were from some
great conflagration. It is conceived that the only way to find a
shelter against the aberrations of sentiment is by completely
foregoing its indulgence, and mockery, which is often a useful
chastener of mysticism, slanders in the same breath the noblest
aspirations. Culture, far from giving us freedom, only develops, as
it advances, new necessities; the fetters of the physical close more
tightly around us, so that the fear of loss quenches even the ardent
impulse toward improvement, and the maxims of passive obedience are
held to be the highest wisdom of life. Thus the spirit of the time
is seen to waver between perversions and savagism, between what is
unnatural and mere nature, between superstition and moral unbelief,
and it is often nothing but the equilibrium of evils that sets
bounds to it.


Have I gone too far in this portraiture of our times? I do not
anticipate this stricture, but rather another--that I have proved
too much by it. You will tell me that the picture I have presented
resembles the humanity of our day, but it also bodies forth all
nations engaged in the same degree of culture, because all, without
exception, have fallen off from nature by the abuse of reason,
before they can return to it through reason.

But if we bestow some serious attention to the character of our
times, we shall be astonished at the contrast between the present
and the previous form of humanity, especially that of Greece. We are
justified in claiming the reputation of culture and refinement, when
contrasted with a purely natural state of society, but not so
comparing ourselves with the Grecian nature. For the latter was
combined with all the charms of art and with all the dignity of
wisdom, without, however, as with us, becoming a victim to these
influences. The Greeks put us to shame not only by their simplicity,
which is foreign to our age; they are at the same time our rivals,
nay, frequently our models, in those very points of superiority from
which we seek comfort when regretting the unnatural character of our
manners. We see that remarkable people uniting at once fulness of
form and fulness of substance, both philosophising and creating,
both tender and energetic, uniting a youthful fancy; to the virility
of reason in a glorious humanity.

At the period of Greek culture, which was an awakening of the powers
of the mind, the senses and the spirit had no distinctly separated
property; no division had yet torn them asunder, leading them to
partition in a hostile attitude, and to mark off their limits with
precision. Poetry had not yet become the adversary of wit, nor had
speculation abused itself by passing into quibbling. In cases of
necessity both poetry and wit could exchange parts, because they
both honoured truth only in their special way. However high might be
the flight of reason, it drew matter in a loving spirit after it,
and, while sharply and stiffly defining it, never mutilated what it
touched. It is true the Greek mind displaced humanity, and recast it
on a magnified scale in the glorious circle of its gods; but it did
this not by dissecting human nature, but by giving it fresh
combinations, for the whole of human nature was represented in each
of the gods. How different is the course followed by us moderns! We
also displace and magnify individuals to form the image of the
specks, but we do this in a fragmentary way, not by altered
combinations, so that it is necessary to gather up from different
individuals the elements that form the species in its totality. It
would almost appear is if the powers of mind express themselves with
us in real life or empirically as separately as the psychologist
distinguishes them in the representation. For we see not only
individual subjects, but whole classes of men, uphold their
capacities only in part, while the rest of their faculties scarcely
show a germ of activity, as in the case of the stunted growth of

I do not overlook the advantages to which the present race, regarded
as a unity and in the balance of the understanding, may lay claim
over what is best in the ancient world; but it is obliged to engage
in the contest as a compact mass, and measure itself as a whole
against a whole. Who among the moderns could step forth, man against
man, and strive with an Athenian for the prize of higher humanity?

Whence comes this disadvantageous relation of individuals coupled
with great advantages of the race? Why could the individual Greek be
qualified as the type of his time? and why can no modern dare to
offer himself as such? Because all-uniting nature imparted its forms
to the Greek, and an all-dividing understanding gives our forms to

It was culture itself that gave these wounds to modern humanity. The
inner union of human nature was broken, and a destructive contest
divided its harmonious forces directly; on the one hand, an enlarged
experience and a more distinct thinking necessitated a sharper
separation of the sciences, while on the other hand, the more
complicated machinery of states necessitated a stricter sundering of
ranks and occupations. Intuitive and speculative understanding took
up a hostile attitude in opposite fields, whose borders were guarded
with jealousy and distrust; and by limiting its operation to a
narrow sphere, men have made unto themselves a master who is wont
not unfrequently to end by subduing and oppressing all the other
faculties. Whilst on the one hand a luxuriant imagination creates
ravages in the plantations that have cost the intelligence so much
labour, on the other hand a spirit of abstraction suffocates the
fire that might have warmed the heart and inflamed the imagination.

This subversion, commenced by art and learning in the inner man, was
carried out to fulness and finished by the spirit of innovation in
government. It was, no doubt, reasonable to expect that the simple
organisation of the primitive republics should survive the
quaintness of primitive manners and of the relations of antiquity.
But, instead of rising to a higher and nobler degree of animal life,
this organisation degenerated into a common and coarse mechanism.
The zoophyte condition of the Grecian states, where each individual
enjoyed an independent life, and could, in cases of necessity,
become a separate whole and unit in himself, gave way to an
ingenious mechanism, when, from the splitting up into numberless
parts, there results a mechanical life in the combination. Then
there was a rupture between the state and the church, between laws
and customs; enjoyment was separated from labour, the means from the
end, the effort from the reward. Man himself eternally chained down
to a little fragment of the whole, only forms a kind of fragment;
having nothing in his ears but the monotonous sound of the
perpetually revolving wheel, he never develops the harmony of his
being; and instead of imprinting the seal of humanity on his being,
he ends by being nothing more than the living impress of the craft
to which he devotes himself, of the science that he cultivates. This
very partial and paltry relation, linking the isolated members to
the whole, does not depend on forms that are given spontaneously;
for how could a complicated machine, which shuns the light, confide
itself to the free will of man? This relation is rather dictated,
with a rigorous strictness, by a formulary in which the free
intelligence of man is chained down. The dead letter takes the place
of a living meaning, and a practised memory becomes a safer guide
than genius and feeling.

If the community or state measures man by his function, only asking
of its citizens memory, or the intelligence of a craftsman, or
mechanical skill, we cannot be surprised that the other faculties of
the mind are neglected, for the exclusive culture of the one that
brings in honour and profit. Such is the necessary result of an
organisation that is indifferent about character, only looking to
acquirements, whilst in other cases it tolerates the thickest
darkness, to favour a spirit of law and order; it must result if it
wishes that individuals in the exercise of special aptitudes 'should
gain in depth what they are permitted to lose in extension. We are
aware, no doubt, that a powerful genius does not shut up its
activity within the limits of its functions; but mediocre talents
consume in the craft fallen to their lot the whole of their feeble
energy; and if some of their energy is reserved for matters of
preference, without prejudice to its functions, such a state of
things at once bespeaks a spirit soaring above the vulgar. Moreover,
it is rarely a recommendation in the eye of a state to have a
capacity superior to your employment, or one of those noble
intellectual cravings of a man of talent which contend in rivalry
with the duties of office. The state is so jealous of the exclusive
possession of its servants that it would prefer--nor can it be
blamed in this--for functionaries to show their powers with the
Venus of Cytherea rather than the Uranian Venus.

It is thus that concrete individual life is extinguished, in order
that the abstract whole may continue its miserable life, and the
state remains for ever a stranger to its citizens, because feeling
does not discover it anywhere. The governing authorities find
themselves compelled to classify, and thereby simplify, the
multiplicity of citizens, and only to know humanity in a
representative form and at second hand. Accordingly they end by
entirely losing sight of humanity, and by confounding it with a
simple artificial creation of the understanding, whilst on their
part the subject classes cannot help receiving coldly laws that
address themselves so little to their personality. At length
society, weary of having a burden that the state takes so little
trouble to lighten, falls to pieces and is broken up--a destiny that
has long since attended most European states. They are dissolved in
what may be called a state of moral nature, in which public
authority is only one function more, hated and deceived by those who
think it necessary, respected only by those who can do without it.

Thus compressed between two forces, within and without, could
humanity follow any other course than that which it has taken? The
speculative mind, pursuing imprescriptible goods and rights in the
sphere of ideas, must needs have become a stranger to the world of
sense, and lose sight of matter for the sake of form. On its part,
the world of public affairs, shut up in a monotonous circle of
objects, and even there restricted by formulas, was led to lose
sight of the life and liberty of the whole, while becoming
impoverished at the same time in its own sphere. Just as the
speculative mind was tempted to model the real after the
intelligible, and to raise the subjective of its imagination into
laws constituting the existence of things, so the state spirit
rushed into the opposite extreme, wished to make a particular and
fragmentary experience the measure of all observation, and to apply
without exception to all affairs the rules of its own particular
craft. The speculative mind had necessarily to become the prey of a
vain subtlety, the state spirit of a narrow pedantry; for the former
was placed too high to see the individual, and the latter too low to
survey the whole. But the disadvantage of this direction of mind was
not confined to knowledge and mental production; it extended to
action and feeling. We know that the sensibility of the mind
depends, as to degree, on the liveliness, and for extent on the
richness of the imagination. Now the predominance of the faculty of
analysis must necessarily deprive the imagination of its warmth and
energy, and a restricted sphere of objects must diminish its wealth.
It is for this reason that the abstract thinker has very often a
cold heart, because he analyses impressions, which only move the
mind by their combination or totality; on the other hand, the man of
business, the statesman, has very often a narrow heart, because shut
up in the narrow circle of his employment his imagination can
neither expand nor adapt itself to another manner of viewing things.

My subject has led me naturally to place in relief the distressing
tendency of the character of our own times to show the sources of
the evil, without its being my province to point out the
compensations offered by nature. I will readily admit to you that,
although this splitting up of their being was unfavourable for
individuals, it was the only road open for the progress of the race.
The point at which we see humanity arrived among the Greeks was
undoubtedly a maximum; it could neither stop there nor rise higher.
It could not stop there, for the sum of notions acquired forced
infallibly the intelligence to break with feeling and intuition, and
to lead to clearness of knowledge. Nor could it rise any higher; for
it is only in a determinate measure that clearness can be reconciled
with a certain degree of abundance and of warmth. The Greeks had
attained this measure, and to continue their progress in culture,
they, as we, were obliged to renounce the totality of their being,
and to follow different and separate roads in order to seek after

There was no other way to develop the manifold aptitudes of man than
to bring them in opposition with one another. This antagonism of
forces is the great instrument of culture, but it is only an
instrument; for as long as this antagonism lasts, man is only on the
road to culture. It is only because these special forces are
isolated in man, and because they take on themselves to impose an
exclusive legislation, that they enter into strife with the truth of
things, and oblige common sense, which generally adheres
imperturbably to external phaenomena, to dive into the essence of
things. While pure understanding usurps authority in the world of
sense, and empiricism attempts to subject this intellect to the
conditions of experience, these two rival directions arrive at the
highest possible development, and exhaust the whole extent of their
sphere. While on the one hand imagination, by its tyranny, ventures
to destroy the order of the world, it forces reason, on the other
side, to rise up to the supreme sources of knowledge, and to invoke
against this predominance of fancy the help of the law of necessity.

By an exclusive spirit in the case of his faculties, the individual
is fatally led to error; but the species is led to truth. It is only
by gathering up all the energy of our mind in a single focus, and
concentrating a single force in our being, that we give in some sort
wings to this isolated force, and that we draw it on artificially
far beyond the limits that nature seems to have imposed upon it. If
it be certain that all human individuals taken together would never
have arrived, with the visual power given them by nature, to see a
satellite of Jupiter, discovered by the telescope of the astronomer,
it is just as well established that never would the human
understanding have produced the analysis of the infinite, or the
critique of pure reason, if in particular branches, destined for
this mission, reason had not applied itself to special researches,
and if, after having, as it were, freed itself from all matter, it
had not by the most powerful abstraction given to the spiritual eye
of man the force necessary, in order to look into the absolute. But
the question is, if a spirit thus absorbed in pure reason and
intuition will be able to emancipate itself from the rigorous
fetters of logic, to take the free action of poetry, and seize the
individuality of things with a faithful and chaste sense? Here
nature imposes even on the most universal genius a limit it cannot
pass, and truth will make martyrs as long as philosophy will be
reduced to make its principal occupation the search for arms against

But whatever may be the final profit for the totality of the world,
of this distinct and special perfecting of the human faculties, it
cannot be denied that this final aim of the universe, which devotes
them to this kind of culture, is a cause of suffering, and a kind of
malediction for individuals. I admit that the exercises of the
gymnasium form athletic bodies; but beauty is only developed by the
free and equal play of the limbs. In the same way the tension of the
isolated spiritual forces may make extraordinary men; but it is only
the well-tempered equilibrium of these forces that can produce happy
and accomplished men. And in what relation should we be placed with
past and future ages if the perfecting of human nature made sach a
sacrifice indispensable? In that case we should have been the slaves
of humanity, we should have consumed our forces in servile work for
it during some thousands of years, and we should have stamped on our
humiliated, mutilated nature the shameful brand of this slavery--all
this in order that future generations, in a happy leisure, might
consecrate themselves to the cure of their moral health, and develop
the whole of human nature by their free culture.

But can it be true that man has to neglect himself for any end
whatever? Can nature snatch from us; for any end whatever, the
perfection which is prescribed to us by the aim of reason? It must
be false that the perfecting of particular faculties renders the
sacrifice of their totality necessary; and even if the law of nature
had imperiously this tendency, we must have the power to reform by a
superior art this totality of our being, which art has destroyed.


Can this effect of harmony be attained by the state? That is not
possible, for the state, as at present constituted, has given
occasion to evil, and the state as conceived in the idea, instead of
being able to establish this more perfect humanity, ought to be
based upon it. Thus the researches in which I have indulged would
have brought me back to the same point from which they had called me
off for a time. The present age, far from offering us this form of
humanity, which we have acknowledged as a necessary condition of an
improvement of the state, shows us rather the diametrically opposite
form. If therefore the principles I have laid down are correct, and
if experience confirms the picture I have traced of the present
time, it would be necessary to qualify as unseasonable every attempt
to effect a similar change in the state, and all hope as chimerical
that would be based on such an attempt, until the division of the
inner man ceases, and nature has been sufficiently developed to
become herself the instrument of this great change and secure the
reality of the political creation of reason.

In the physical creation, nature shows us the road that we have to
follow in the moral creation. Only when the Struggle of elementary
forces has ceased in inferior organisations, nature rises to the
noble form of the physical man. In like manner, the conflict of the
elements of the moral man and that of blind instincts must have
ceased, and a coarse antagonism in himself, beiore the attempt can
be hazarded. On the other hand, the independence of man's character
must be secured, and his submission to despotic forms must have
given place to a suitable liberty, before the variety in his
constitution can be made subordinate to the unity of the ideal. When
the man of nature still makes such an anarchical abuse of his will,
his liberty ought hardly to be disclosed to him. And when the man
fashioned by culture makes so little use of his freedom, his free
will ought not to be taken from him. The concession of liberal
principles becomes a treason to social order when it is associated
with a force still in fermentation, and increases the already
exuberant energy of its nature. Again, the law of conformity under
one level becomes tyranny to the individual when it is allied to a
weakness already holding sway and to natural obstacles, and when it
comes to extinguish the last spark of spontaneity and of

The tone of the age must therefore rise from its profound moral
degradation; on the one hand it must emancipate itself from the
blind service of nature, and on the other it must revert to its
simplicity, its truth, and its fruitful sap; a sufficient task for
more than a century. However, I admit readily, more than one special
effort may meet with success, but no improvement of the whole will
result from it, and contradictions in action will be a continual
protest against the unity of maxims. It will be quite possible,
then, that in remote corners of the world humanity may be honoured
in the person of the negro, while in Europe it may be degraded in
the person of the thinker. The old principles will remain, but they
will adopt the dress of the age, and philosophy will lend its name
to an oppression that was formerly authorised by the Church. In one
place, alarmed at the liberty which in its opening efforts always
shows itself an enemy, it will cast itself into the arms of a
convenient servitude. In another place, reduced to despair by a
pedantic tutelage, it will be driven into the savage license of the
state of nature. Usurpation will invoke the weakness of human
nature, and insurrection will invoke its dignity, till at length the
great sovereign of all human things, blind force, shall come in and
decide, like a vulgar pugilist, this pretended contest of


Must philosophy therefore retire from this field, disappointed in
its hopes? Whilst in all other directions the dominion of forms is
extended, must this the most precious of all gifts be abandoned to a
formless chance? Must the contest of blind forces last eternally in
the political world, and is social law never to triumph over a
hating egotism?

Not in the least. It is true that reason herself will never attempt
directly a struggle with this brutal force which resists her arms,
and she will be as far as the son of Saturn in the 'Iliad' from
descending into the dismal field of battle, to fight them in person.
But she chooses the most deserving among the combatants, clothes him
with divine arms as Jupiter gave them to his son-in-law, and by her
triumphing force she finally decides the victory.

Reason has done all that she could in finding the law and
promulgating it; it is for the energy of the will and the ardour of
feeling to carry it out. To issue victoriously from her contest with
force, truth herself must first become a force, and turn one of the
instincts of man into her champion in the empire of phenomena. For
instincts are the only motive forces in the material world. If
hitherto truth has so little manifested her victorious power, this
has not depended on the understanding, which could not have unveiled
it, but on the heart which remained closed to it, and on instinct
which did not act with it.

Whence, in fact, proceeds this general sway of prejudices, this
might of the understanding in the midst of the light disseminated by
philosophy and experience? The age is enlightened, that is to say,
that knowledge, obtained and vulgarised, suffices to set right at
least our practical principles. The spirit of free inquiry has
dissipated the erroneous opinions which long barred the access to
truth, and has undermined the ground on which fanaticism and
deception had erected their throne. Reason has purified itself from
the il lusions of the senses and from a mendacious sophistry, and
philosophy herself raises her voice and exhorts us to return to the
bosom of nature, to which she had first made us unfaithful. Whence
then is it that we remain still barbarians?

There must be something in the spirit of man--as it is not in the
objects themselves--which prevents us from receiving the truth,
notwithstanding the brilliant light she diffuses, and from accepting
her, whatever may be her strength for producing conviction. This
something was perceived and expressed by an ancient sage in this
very significant maxim: sapere aude [Footnote: Dare to be wise].

Dare to be wise! A spirited courage is required to triumph over the
impediments that the indolence of nature as well as the cowardice of
the heart oppose to our in struction. It was not without reason that
the ancient Mythos made Minerva issue fully armed from the head of
Jupiter, for it is with warfare that this instruction com mences.
From its very outset it has to sustain a hard fight against the
senses, which do not like to be roused from their easy slumber. The
greater part of men are much too exhausted and enervated by their
struggle with want to be able to engage in a new and severe contest
with error. Satisfied if they themselves can escape from the hard
labour of thought, they willingly abandon to others the guardianship
of their thoughts. And if it happens that nobler necessities agitate
their soul, they cling with a greedy faith to the formulas that the
state and the church hold in reserve for such cases. If these
unhappy men deserve our compassion, those others deserve our just
contempt, who, though set free from those necessities by more
fortunate circumstances, yet willingly bend to their yoke. These
latter persons prefer this twilight of obscure ideas; where the
feelings have more intensity, and the imagination can at will create
convenient chimeras, to the rays of truth which put to flight the
pleasant illusions of their dreams. They have founded the whole
structure of their happiness on these very illusions, which ought to
be combated and dissipated by the light of knowledge, and they would
think they were paying too dearly for a truth which begins by
robbing them of all that has value in their sight. It would be
necessary that they should be already sages to love wisdom: a truth
that was felt at once by him to whom philosophy owes its name.
[Footnote: The Greek word means, as is known, love of wisdom.]

It is therefore not going far enough to say that the light of the
understanding only deserves respect when it reacts on the character;
to a certain extent it is from the character that this light
proceeds; for the road that terminates in the head must pass through
the heart. Accordingly, the most pressing need of the present time
is to educate the sensibility, because it is the means, not only to
render efficacious in practice the improvement of ideas, but to call
this improvement into existence.


But perhaps there is a vicious circle in our previous reasoning?
Theoretical culture must it seems bring along with it practical
culture, and yet the latter must be the condition of the former. All
improvement in the political sphere must proceed from the ennobling
of the character. But, subject to the influence of a social
constitution still barbarous, how can character become ennobled? It
would then be necessary to seek for this end an instrument that the
state does not furnish, and to open sources that would have
preserved themselves pure in the midst of political corruption.

I have now reached the point to which all the considerations tended
that have engaged me up to the present time. This instrument is the
art of the beautiful; these sources are open to us in its immortal

Art, like science, is emancipated from all that is positive, and all
that is humanly conventional; both are completely independent of the
arbitrary will of men. The political legislator may place their
empire under an interdict, but he cannot reign there. He can
proscribe the friend of truth, but truth subsists; he can degrade
the artist, but he cannot change art. No doubt, nothing is more
common than to see science and art bend before the spirit of the
age, and creative taste receive its law from critical taste. When
the character becomes stiff and hardens itself, we see science
severely keeping her limits, and art subject to the harsh restraint
of rules; when the character is relaxed and softened, science
endeavours to please and art to rejoice. For whole ages philosophers
as well as artists show themselves occupied in letting down truth
and beauty to the depths of vulgar humanity. They themselves are
swallowed up in it; but, thanks to their essential vigour and
indestructible life, the true and the beautiful make a victorious
fight, and issue triumphant from the abyss.

No doubt the artist is the child of his time, but unhappy for him if
he is its disciple or even its favourite. Let a beneficent deity
carry off in good time the suckling from the breast of its mother,
let it nourish him on the milk of a better age, and suffer him to
grow up and arrive at virility under the distant sky of Greece. When
he has attained manhood, let him come back, presenting a face
strange to his own age; let him come, not to delight it with his
apparition, but rather to purify it, terrible as the son of
Agamemnon. He will, indeed, receive his matter from the present
time, but he will borrow the form from a nobler time and even beyond
all time, from the essential, absolute, immutable unity. There,
issuing from the pure ether of its heavenly nature, flows the source
of all beauty, which was never tainted by the corruption of
generations or of ages, which roll along far beneath it in dark
eddies. Its matter may be dishonoured as well as ennobled by fancy,
but the ever chaste form escapes from the caprices of imagination.
The Roman had already bent his knee for long years to the divinity
of the emperors, and yet the statues of the gods stood erect; the
temples retained their sanctity for the eye long after the gods had
become a theme for mockery, and the noble architecture of the
palaces that shielded the infamies of Nero and of Commodus were a
protest against them. Humanity has lost its dignity, but art has
saved it, and preserves it in marbles full of meaning; truth
continues to live in illusion, and the copy will serve to re-
establish the model. If the nobility of art has survived the
nobility of nature, it also goes before it like an inspiring genius,
forming and awakening minds. Before truth causes her triumphant
light to penetrate into the depth of the heart, poetry intercepts
her rays, and the summits of humanity shine in a bright light, while
a dark and humid night still hangs over the valleys.

But how will the artist avoid the corruption of his time which
encloses him on all hands? Let him raise his eyes to his own
dignity, and to law; let him not lower them to necessity and
fortune. Equally exempt from a vain activity which would imprint its
trace on the fugitive moment, and from the dreams of an impatient
enthusiasm which applies the measure of the absolute to the paltry
productions of time, let the artist abandon the real to the
understanding, for that is its proper field. But let the artist
endeavour to give birth to the ideal by the union of the possible
and of the necessary. Let him stamp illusion and truth with the
effigy of this ideal; let him apply it to the play of his
imagination and his most serious actions, in short, to all sensuous
and spiritual forms; then let him quietly launch his work into
infinite time.

But the minds set on fire by this ideal have not all received an
equal share of calm from the creative genius--that great and patient
temper which is required to impress the ideal on the dumb marble, or
to spread it over a page of cold, sober letters, and then entrust it
to the faithful hands of time. This divine instinct, and creative
force, much too ardent to follow this peaceful walk, often throws
itself immediately on the present, on active life, and strives to
transform the shapeless matter of the moral world. The misfortune of
his brothers, of the whole species, appeals loudly to the heart of
the man of feeling; their abasement appeals still louder; enthusiasm
is inflamed, and in souls endowed with energy the burning desire
aspires impatiently to action and facts. But has this innovator
examined himself to see if these disorders of the moral world wound
his reason, or if they do not rather wound his self-love? If he does
not determine this point at once, he will find it from the
impulsiveness with which he pursues a prompt and definite end. A
pure, moral motive has for its end the absolute; time does not exist
for it, and the future becomes the present to it directly, by a
necessary development, it has to issue from the present. To a reason
having no limits the direction towards an end becomes confounded
with the accomplishment of this end, and to enter on a course is to
have finished it.

If, then, a young friend of the true and of the beautiful were to
ask me how, notwithstanding the resistance of the times, he can
satisfy the noble longing of his heart, I should reply: Direct the
world on which you act towards that which is good, and the measured
and peaceful course of time will bring about the results. You have
given it this direction if by your teaching you raise its thoughts
towards the necessary and the eternal; if, by your acts or your
creations, you make the necessary and the eternal the object of your
leanings. The structure of error and of all that is arbitrary, must
fall, and it has already fallen, as soon as you are sure that it is
tottering. But it is important that it should not only totter in the
external but also in the internal man. Cherish triumphant truth in
the modest sanctuary of your heart; give it an incarnate form
through beauty, that it may not only be the understanding that does
homage to it, but that feeling may lovingly grasp its appearance.
And that you may not by any chance take from external reality the
model which you yourself ought to furnish, do not venture into its
dangerous society before you are assured in your own heart that you
have a good escort furnished by ideal nature. Live with your age,
but be not its creation; labour for your contemporaries, but do for
them what they need, and not what they praise. Without having shared
their faults, share their punishment with a noble resignation, and
bend under the yoke which they find is as painful to dispense with
as to bear. By the constancy with which you will despise their good
fortune, you will prove to them that it is not through cowardice
that you submit to their sufferings. See them in thought such as
they ought to be when you must act upon them; but see them as they
are when you are tempted to act for them. Seek to owe their suffrage
to their dignity; but to make them happy keep an account of their
unworthiness; thus, on the one hand, the nobleness of your heart
will kindle theirs, and, on the other, your end will not be reduced
to nothingness by their unworthiness. The gravity of your principles
will keep them off from you, but in play they will still endure
them. Their taste is purer than their heart, and it is by their
taste you must lay hold of this suspicious fugitive. In vain will
you combat their maxims, in vain will you condemn their actions; but
you can try your moulding hand on their leisure. Drive away caprice,
frivolity, and coarseness, from their pleasures, and you will banish
them imperceptibly from their acts, and at length from their
feelings. Everywhere that you meet them, surround them with great,
noble, and ingenious forms; multiply around them the symbols of
perfection, till appearance triumphs over reality, and art over


Convinced by my preceding letters, you agree with me on this point,
that man can depart from his destination by two opposite roads, that
our epoch is actually moving on these two false roads, and that it
has become the prey, in one case, of coarseness, and elsewhere of
exhaustion and de pravity. It is the beautiful that must bring it
back from this twofold departure. But how can the cultivation of the
fine arts remedy, at the same time, these opposite defects, and
unite in itself two contradictory qualities? Can it bind nature in
the savage, and set it free in the barbarian? Can it at once tighten
a spring and loose it, and if it cannot produce this double effect,
how will it be reasonable to expect from it so important a result as
the education of man?

It may be urged that it is almost a proverbial adage that the
feeling developed by the beautiful refines manners, and any new
proof offered on the subject would appear superfluous. Men base this
maxim on daily experience, which shows us almost always clearness of
intellect, deli cacy of feeling, liberality and even dignity of
conduct, associated with a cultivated taste, while an uncultivated
taste is almost always accompanied by the opposite qualities. With
considerable assurance, the most civilised nation of antiquity is
cited as an evidence of this, the Greeks, among whom the perception
of the beautiful attained its highest development, and, as a
contrast, it is usual to point to nations in a partial savage state,
and partly barbarous, who expiate their insensibility to the
beautiful by a coarse or, at all events, a hard austere character.
Nevertheless, some thinkers are tempted occasionally to deny either
the fact itself or to dispute the legitimacy of the consequences
that are derived from it. They do not entertain so unfavourable an
opinion of that savage coarseness which is made a reproach in the
case of certain nations; nor do they form so advantageous an opinion
of the refinement so highly lauded in the case of cultivated
nations. Even as far back as in antiquity there were men who by no
means regarded the culture of the liberal arts as a benefit, and who
were consequently led to forbid the entrance of their republic to

I do not speak of those who calumniate art, because they have never
been favoured by it. These persons only appreciate a possession by
the trouble it takes to acquire it, and by the profit it brings; and
how could they properly appreciate the silent labour of taste in the
exterior and in terior man? How evident it is that the accidental
disadvantages attending liberal culture would make them lose sight
of its essential advantages! The man deficient in form despises the
grace of diction as a means of corruption, courtesy in the social
relations as dissimulation, delicacy and generosity in conduct as an
affected exaggeration. He cannot forgive the favourite of the Graces
for having enlivened all assemblies as a man of the world, of having
directed all men to his views like a statesman, and of giving his
impress to the whole century as a writer; while he, the victim of
labour, can only obtain, with all his learning, the least attention
or overcome the least difficulty. As he cannot learn from his
fortunate rival the secret of pleasing, the only course open to him
is to deplore the corruption of human nature, which adores rather
the appearance than the reality.

But there are also opinions deserving respect, that pronounce
themselves adverse to the effects of the beautiful, and find
formidable arms in experience, with which to wage war against it.
"We are free to admit"--such is their language--"that the charms of
the beautiful can further honourable ends in pure hands; but it is
not repugnant to its nature to produce, in impure hands, a directly
contrary effect, and to employ in the service of injustice and error
the power that throws the soul of man into chains. It is exactly
because taste only attends to the form and never to the substance;
it ends by placing the soul on the dangerous incline, leading it to
neglect all reality and to sacrifice truth and morality to an
attractive envelope. All the real difference of things vanishes, and
it is only the appearance that determines their value! How many men
of talent"--thus these arguers proceed--"have been turned aside from
all effort by the seductive power of the beautiful, or have been led
away from all serious exercise of their activity, or have been
induced to use it very feebly? How many weak minds have been
impelled to quarrel with the organisation of society, simply because
it has pleased the imagination of poets to present the image of a
world constituted differently, where no propriety chains down
opinion and no artifice helds nature in thraldom? What a dangerous
logic of the passions they have learned since the poets have painted
them in their pictures in the most brilliant colours and since, in
the contest with law and duty, they have commonly re mained masters
of the battlefield. What has society gained by the relations of
society, formerly under the sway of truth, being now subject to the
laws of the beautiful, or by the external impression deciding the
estimation in which merit is to be held? We admit that all virtues
whose appearance produces an agreeable effect are now seen to
flourish, and those which, in society, give a value to the man who
possesses them. But, as a compensation, all kinds of excesses are
seen to prevail, and all vices are in vogue that can be reconciled
with a graceful exterior." It is certainly a matter entitled to
reflection that, at almost all the periods of history when art
flourished and taste held sway, humanity is found in a state of
decline; nor can a single instance be cited of the union of a large
diffusion of aesthetic culture with political liberty and social
virtue, of fine manners associated with good morals, and of
politeness fraternising with truth and loyalty of character and

As long as Athens and Sparta preserved their independence, and as
long as their institutions were based on respect for the laws, taste
did not reach its maturity, art remained in its infancy, and beauty
was far from exer cising her empire over minds. No doubt, poetry had
already taken a sublime flight, but it was on the wings of genius,
and we know that genius borders very closely on savage coarseness,
that it is a light which shines readily in the midst of darkness,
and which therefore often argues against rather than in favour of
the taste of the time. When the golden age of art appears under
Pericles and Alexander, and the sway of taste becomes more general,
strength and liberty have abandoned Greece; eloquence corrupts the
truth, wisdom offends it on the lips of Socrates, and virtue in the
life of Phocion. It is well known that the Romans had to exhaust
their energies in civil wars, and, corrupted by Oriental luxury, to
bow their heads under the yoke of a fortunate despot, before Grecian
art triumphed over the stiffness of their character. The same was
the case with the Arabs: civilisation only dawned upon them when the
vigour of their military spirit became softened under the sceptre of
the Abbassides. Art did not appear in modern Italy till the glorious
Lombard League was dissolved, Florence submitting to the Medici, and
all those brave cities gave up the spirit of independ ence for an
inglorious resignation. It is almost super fluous to call to mind
the example of modern nations, with whom refinement has increased in
direct proportion to the decline of their liberties. Wherever we
direct our eyes in past times, we see taste and freedom mutually
avoiding each other. Everywhere we see that the beautiful only
founds its sway on the ruins of heroic virtues.

And yet this strength of character, which is commonly sacrificed to
establish aesthetic culture, is the most power ful spring of all
that is great and excellent in man, and no other advantage, however
great, can make up for it. Accordingly, if we only keep to the
experiments hitherto made, as to the influence of the beautiful, we
cannot certainly be much encouraged in developing feelings so
dangerous to the real culture of man. At the risk of being hard and
coarse, it will seem preferable to dispense with this dissolving
force of the beautiful, rather than see human nature a prey to its
enervating influence, notwithstanding all its refining advantages.
However, experience is perhaps not the proper tribunal at which to
decide such a question; before giving so much weight to its
testimony, it would be well to inquire if the beauty we have been
discussing is the power that is condemned by the previous examples.
And the beauty we are discussing seems to assume an idea of the
beautiful derived from a source different from experience, for it is
this higher notion of the beautiful which has to decide if what is
called beauty by experience is entitled to the name.

This pure and rational idea of the beautiful--supposing it can be
placed in evidence--cannot be taken from any real and special case,
and must, on the contrary, direct and give sanction to our judgment
in each special case. It must therefore be sought for by a process
of abstraction, and it ought to be deduced from the simple
possibility of a nature both sensuous and rational; in short, beauty
ought to present itself as a necessary condition of humanity. It is
therefore essential that we should rise to the pure idea of
humanity, and as experience shows us nothing but individuals, in
particular cases, and never humanity at large, we must endeavour to
find in their individual and variable mode of being the absolute and
the permanent, and to grasp the necessary conditions of their
existence, suppressing all accidental limits. No doubt this
transcendental procedure will remove us for some time from the
familiar circle of phaenomena and the living presence of objects, to
keep us on the unproductive ground of abstract ideas; but we are
engaged in the search after a principle of knowledge solid enough
not to be shaken by anything, and the man who does not dare to rise
above reality will never conquer this truth.


If abstraction rises to as great an eievation as possible, it
arrives at two primary ideas, before which it is obliged to stop and
to recognise its limits. It distinguishes in man something that
continues, and something that changes in cessantly. That which
continues it names his person; that which changes his position, his

The person and the condition, I and my determinations, which
we represent as one and the same thing in the neces sary being,
are eternally distinct in the finite being. Not withstanding
all continuance in the person, the condition changes; in spite of
all change of condition, the person remains. We pass from rest to
activity, from emotion to indifference, from assent to contradiction,
but we are always we ourselves, and what immediately springs from
ourselves remains. It is only in the absolute subject that all his
determinations continue with his personality. All that Divinity is,
it is because it is so; consequently it is eternally what
it is, because it is eternal.

As the person and the condition are distinct in man, be cause he is
a finite being, the condition cannot be founded on the person, nor
the person on the condition. Admitting the second case, the person
would have to change; and in the former case, the condition would
have to continue. Thus in either supposition either the personality
or the quality of a finite being would necessarily cease. It is not
because we think, feel, and will, that we are; it is not because we
are that we think, feel, and will. We are because we are. We feel,
think, and will, because there is out of us something that is not

Consequently the person must have its principle of exist ence in
itself because the permanent cannot be derived from the changeable,
and thus we should be at once in possession of the idea of the
absolute being, founded on itself; that is to say, of the idea of
freedom. The condition must have a foundation, and as it is not
through the person, and is not therefore absolute, it must be a
sequence and a result; and thus, in the second place, we should have
arrived at the condition of every dependent being, of everything in
the process of becoming something else: that is, of the idea of
time. "Time is the necessary condition of all processes, of becoming
(werden);" this is an indentical proposition, for it says nothing
but this: "That something may follow, there must be a succession."

The person which manifests itself in the eternally continuing Ego,
or I myself, and only in him, cannot become something or begin in
time, because it is much rather time that must begin with him,
because the permanent must serve as basis to the changeable. That
change may take place, something must change; this something cannot
therefore be the change itself. When we say the flower opens and
fades, we make of this flower a permanent being in the midst of this
transformation; we lend it, in some sort, a personality, in which
these two conditions are manifested. It cannot be objected that man
is born, and becomes something; for man is not only a person simply,
but he is a person finding himself in a determinate condition. Now
our determinate state of condition springs up in time, and it is
thus that man, as a phenomenon or appearance, must have a beginning,
though in him pure intelligence is eternal. Without time, that is,
without a becoming, he would not be a determinate being; his
personality would exist virtually, no doubt, but not in action. It
is not by the succession of its perceptions that the immutable Ego
or person manifests himself to himself.

Thus, therefore, the matter of activity, or reality, that the
supreme intelligence draws from its own being, must be received by
man; and he does, in fact, receive it, through the medium of
perception, as something which is outside him in space, and which
changes in him in time. This matter which changes in him is always
accompanied by the Ego, the personality, that never changes; and the
rule prescribed for man by his rational nature is to remain
immutably himself in the midst of change, to refer all perceptions
to experience, that is, to the unity of knowledge, and to make of
each of its manifestations of its modes in time the law of all time.
The matter only exists in as far as it changes; he, his personality,
only exists in as far as he does not change. Consequently,
represented in his perfection, man would be the permanent unity,
which remains always the same, among the waves of change.

Now, although an infinite being, a divinity could not become (or be
subject to time), still a tendency ought to be named divine which
has for its infinite end the most characteristic attribute of the
divinity; the absolute manifestation of power--the reality of all
the possible--and the absolute unity of the manifestation (the
necessity of all reality). It cannot be disputed that man bears
within himself, in his personality, a predisposition for divinity.
The way to divinity--if the word "way" can be applied to what never
leads to its end-is open to him in every direction.

Considered in itself and independently of all sensuous matter, his
personality is nothing but the pure virtuality of a possible
infinite manifestation, and so long as there is neither intuition
nor feeling, it is nothing more than a form, an empty power.
Considered in itself, and independently of all spontaneous activity
of the mind, sensuousness can only make a material man; without it,
it is a pure form; but it cannot in any way establish a union
between matter and it. So long as he only feels, wishes, and acts
under the influence of desire, he is nothing more than the world, if
by this word we point out only the formless contents of time.
Without doubt, it is only his sensuousness that makes his strength
pass into efficacious acts, but it is his personality alone that
makes this activity his own. Thus, that he may not only be a world,
he must give form to matter, and in order not to be a mere form, he
must give reality to the virtuality that he bears in him. He gives
matter to form by creating time, and by opposing the immutable to
change, the diversity of the world to the eternal unity of the Ego.
He gives a form to matter by again suppressing time, by maintaining
permanence in change, and by placing the diversity of the world
under the unity of the Ego.

Now from this source issue for man two opposite exigencies, the two
fundamental laws of sensuous-rational nature. The first has for its
object absolute reality; it must make a world of what is only form,
manifest all that in it is only a force. The second law has for its
object absolute formality; it must destroy in him all that is only
world, and carry out harmony in all changes. In other terms, he must
manifest all that is internal, and give form to all that is
external. Considered in its most lofty accomplishment, this twofold
labour brings us back to the idea of humanity which was my starting-


This twofold labour or task, which consists in making the necessary
pass into reality in us and in making out of us reality subject to
the law of necessity, is urged upon us as a duty by two opposing
forces, which are justly styled impulsions or instincts, because
they impel us to realise their object. The first of these
impulsions, which I shall call the sensuous instinct, issues from
the physical existence of roan, or from sensuous nature; and it is
this instinct which tends to enclose him in the limits of time and
to make of him a material being; I do not say to give him matter,
for to do that a certain free activity of the personality would be
necessary, which, receiving matter, distinguishes it from the Ego,
or what is permanent. By matter I only understand in this place the
change or reality that fills time. Consequently the instinct
requires that there should be change, and that time should contain
something. This simply filled state of time is named sensation, and
it is only in this state that physical existence manifests itself.

As all that is in time is successive, it follows by that fact alone
that something is: all the remainder is excluded. When one note on
an instrument is touched, among all those that it virtually offers,
this note alone is real. When man is actually modified, the infinite
possibility of all his modifications is limited to this single mode
of existence. Thus, then, the exclusive action of sensuous impulsion
has for its necessary consequence the narrowest limitation. In this
state man is only a unity of magnitude, a complete moment in time;
or, to speak more correctly, he is not, for his personality is
suppressed as long as sensation holds sway over him and carries time
along with it.

This instinct extends its domains over the entire sphere of the
finite in man, and as form is only revealed in matter, and the
absolute by means of its limits, the total manifestation of human
nature is connected on a close analysis with the sensuous instinct.
But though it is only this instinct that awakens and develops what
exists virtually in man, it is nevertheless this very instinct which
renders his perfection impossible. It binds down to the world of
sense by indestructible ties the spirit that tends higher and it
calls back to the limits of the present, abstraction Which had its
free development in the sphere of the infinite. No doubt, thought
can escape it for a moment, and a firm will victoriously resists its
exigencies; but soon compressed nature resumes her rights to give an
imperious reality to our existence, to give it contents, substance,
knowledge, and an aim for our activity.

The second impulsion, which may be named the formal instinct, issues
from the absolute existence of man, or from his rational nature, and
tends to set free, and bring harmony into the diversity of its
manifestations, and to maintain personality notwithstanding all the
changes of state. As this personality, being an absolute and
indivisible unity, can never be in contradiction with itself, as we
are ourselves for ever, this impulsion, which tends to maintain
personality, can never exact in one time anything but what it exacts
and requires for ever. It therefore decides for always what it
decides now, and orders now what it orders for ever. Hence it
embraces the whole series of times, or what comes to the same thing,
it suppresses time and change. It wishes the real to be necessary
and eternal, and it wishes the eternal and the necessary to be real;
in other terms, it tends to truth and justice.

If the sensuous instinct only produces ACCIDENTS, the formal
instinct gives laws, laws for every judgment when it is a question
of knowledge, laws for every will when it is a question of action.
Whether, therefore, we recognise an object or conceive an objective
value to a state of the subject, whether we act in virtue of
knowledge or make of the objective the determining principle of our
state; in both cases we withdraw this state from the jurisdiction of
time, and we attribute to it reality for all men and for all time,
that is, universality and necessity. Feeling can only say: "That is
true FOR THIS SUBJECT AND AT THIS MOMENT," and there may come
another moment, another subject, which withdraws the affirmation
from the actual feeling. But when once thought pronounces and says:
"THAT IS" it decides for ever and ever, and the validity of its
decision is guaranteed by the personality itself, which defies all
change. Inclination can only say: "That is good FOR YOUR
INDIVIDUALITY and PRESENT NECESSITY?" but the changing current of
affairs will sweep them away, and what you ardently desire to-day
will form the object of your aversion to-morrow. But when the moral
feeling says: "That ought to be," it decides for ever. If you
confess the truth because it is the truth, and if you practice
justice because it is justice, you have made of a particular case
the law of all possible cases, and treated one moment of your life
as eternity.

Accordingly, when the formal impulse holds sway and the pure object
acts in us, the being attains its highest expansion, all barriers
disappear, and from the unity of magnitude in which man was enclosed
by a narrow sensuousness, he rises to the UNITY OF IDEA, which
embraces and keeps subject the entire sphere of phenomena. During
this operation we are no longer in time, but time is in us with its
infinite succession. We are no longer individuals but a species; the
judgment of all spirits is expressed by our own, and the choice of
all hearts is represented by our own act.


On a first survey, nothing appears more opposed than these two
impulsions; one having for its object change, the other
immutability, and yet it is these two notions that exhaust the
notion of humanity, and a third FUNDAMENTAL IMPULSION, holding a
medium between them, is quite inconceivable. How then shall we re-
establish the unity of human nature, a unity that appears completely
destroyed by this primitive and radical opposition?

I admit these two tendencies are contradictory, but it should be
noticed that they are not so in the SAME OBJECTS. But things that do
not meet cannot come into collision. No doubt the sensuous impulsion
desires change; but it does not wish that it should extend to
personality and its field, nor that there should be a change of
principles. The formal impulsion seeks unity and permanence, but it
does not wish the condition to remain fixed with the person, that
there should be identity of feeling. Therefore these two impulsions
are not divided by nature, and if, nevertheless, they appear so, it
is because they have become divided by transgressing nature freely,
by ignoring themselves, and by confounding their spheres. The office
of culture is to watch over them and to secure to each one its
proper LIMITS; therefore culture has to give equal justice to both,
and to defend not only the rational impulsion against the sensuous,
but also the latter against the former. Hence she has to act a
twofold part: first, to protect sense against the attacks of
freedom; secondly, to secure personality against the power of
sensations. One of these ends is attained by the cultivation of the
sensuous, the other by that of the reason.

Since the world is developed in time, or change, the perfection of
the faculty that places men in relation with the world will
necessarily be the greatest possible mutability and extensiveness.
Since personality is permanence in change, the perfection of this
faculty, which must be opposed to change, will be the greatest
possible freedom of action (autonomy) and intensity. The more the
receptivity is developed under manifold aspects, the more it is
movable and offers surfaces to phaenomena, the larger is the part of
the world seized upon by man, and the more virtualities he develops
in himself. Again, in proportion as man gains strength and depth,
and depth and reason gain in freedom, in that proportion man TAKES
IN a larger share of the world, and throws out forms outside
himself. Therefore his culture will consist, first, in placing his
receptivity on contact with the world in the greatest number of
points possible, and is raising passivity to the highest exponent on
the side of feeling; secondly, in procuring for the determining
faculty the greatest possible amount of independence, in relation to
the receptive power, and in raising activity to the highest degree
on the side of reason. By the union of these two qualities man will
associate the highest degree of self-spontaneity (autonomy) and of
freedom with the fullest plenitude of existence, and instead of
abandoning himself to the world so as to get lost in it, he will
rather absorb it in himself, with all the infinitude of its
phenomena, and subject it to the unity of his reason.

But man can invert this relation, and thus fail in attaining his
destination in two ways. He can hand over to the passive force the
intensity demanded by the active force; he can encroach by material
impulsion on the formal impulsion, and convert the receptive into
the determining power. He can attribute to the active force the
extensiveness belonging to the passive force, he can encroach by the
formal impulsion on the material impulsion, and substitute the
determining for the receptive power. In the former case, he will
never be an Ego, a personality; in the second case, he will never be
a Non-Ego, and hence in both cases he will be NEITHER ONE NOR THE
OTHER, consequently he will nothing.

In fact, if the sensuous impulsion becomes determining, if the
senses become law-givers, and if the world stifles personality, he
loses as object what he gains in force. It may be said of man that
when he is only the contents of time, he is not and consequently HE
HAS no other contents. His condition is destroyed at the same time
as his personality, because these are two correlative ideas, because
change presupposes permanence, and a limited reality implies an
infinite reality. If the formal impulsion becomes receptive, that
is, if thought anticipates sensation, and the person substitutes
itself in the place of the world, it loses as a subject and
autonomous force what it gains as object, because immutability
implies change, and that to manifest itself also absolute reality
requires limits. As soon as man is only form, he has no form, and
the personality vanishes with the condition. In a word, it is only
inasmuch as he is spontaneous, autonomous, that there is reality out
of him, that he is also receptive; and it is only inasmuch as he is
receptive that there is reality in him, that he is a thinking force.

Consequently these two impulsions require limits, and looked upon as
forces, they need tempering; the former that it may not encroach on
the field of legislation, the latter that it may not invade the
ground of feeling. But this tempering and moderating the sensuous
impulsion ought not to be the effect of physical impotence or of a
blunting of sensations, which is always a matter for contempt. It
must be a free act, an activity of the person, which by its moral
intensity moderates the sensuous intensity, and by the sway of
impressions takes from them in depth what it gives them in surface
or breadth. The character must place limits to temperament, for the
senses have only the right to lose elements if it be to the
advantage of the mind. In its turn, the tempering of the formal
impulsion must not result from moral impotence, from a relaxation of
thought and will, which would degrade humanity. It is necessary that
the glorious source of this second tempering should be the fulness
of sensations; it is necessary that sensuousness itself should
defend its field with a victorious arm and resist the violence that
the invading activity of the mind would do to it. In a word, it is
necessary that the material impulsion should be contained in the
limits of propriety by personality, and the formal impulsion by
receptivity or nature.


We have been brought to the idea of such a correlation between the
two impulsions that the action of the one establishes and limits at
the same time the action of the other, and that each of them, taken
in isolation, does arrive at its highest manifestation just because
the other is active.

No doubt this correlation of the two impulsions is simply a problem
advanced by reason, and which man will only be able to solve in the
perfection of his being. It is in the strictest signification of the
term: the idea of his humanity; accordingly, it is an infinite to
which he can approach nearer and nearer in the course of time, but
without ever reaching it. "He ought not to aim at form to the injury
of reality, nor to reality to the detriment of the form. He must
rather seek the absolute being by means of a determinate being, and
the determinate being by means of an infinite being. He must set the
world before him because he is a person, and he must be a person
because he has the world before him. He must feel because he has a
consciousness of himself, and he must have a consciousness of
himself because he feels." It is only in conformity with this idea
that he is a man in the full sense of the word; but he cannot be
convinced of this so long as he gives himself up exclusively to one
of these two impulsions, or only satisfies them one after the other.
For as long as he only feels, his absolute personality and existence
remain a mystery to him, and as long as he only thinks, his
condition or existence in time escapes him. But if there were cases
in which he could have at once this twofold experience in which he
would have the consciousness of his freedom and the feeling of his
existence together, in which he would simultaneously feel as matter
and know himself as spirit, in such cases, and in such only, would
he have a complete intuition of his humanity, and the object that
would procure him this intuition would be a symbol of his
accomplished destiny, and consequently serve to express the infinite
to him--since this destination can only be fulfilled in the fulness
of time.

Presuming that cases of this kind could present themselves in
experience, they would awake in him a new impulsion, which,
precisely because the two other impulsions would co-operate in it,
would be opposed to each of them taken in isolation, and might, with
good grounds, be taken for a new impulsion. The sensuous impulsion
requires that there should be change, that time should have
contents; the formal impulsion requires that time should be
suppressed, that there should be no change. Consequently, the
impulsion in which both of the others act in concert--allow me to
call it the instinct of play, till I explain the term--the instinct
of play would have as its object to suppress time in time to
conciliate the state of transition or becoming with the absolute
being, change with identity.

The sensuous instinct wishes to be determined, it wishes to receive
an object; the formal instinct wishes to determine itself, it wishes
to produce an object. Therefore the instinct of play will endeavor
to receive as it would itself have produced, and to produce as it
aspires to receive.

The sensuous impulsion excludes from its subject all autonomy and
freedom; the formal impulsion excludes all dependence and passivity.
But the exclusion of freedom is physical necessity; the exclusion of
passivity is moral necessity. Thus the two impulsions subdue the
mind: the former to the laws of nature, the latter to the laws of
reason. It results from this that the instinct of play, which unites
the double action of the two other instincts, will content the mind
at once morally and physically. Hence, as it suppresses all that is
contingent, it will also suppress all coercion, and will set man
free physically and morally. When we welcome with effusion some one
who deserves our contempt, we feel painfully that nature is
constrained. When we have a hostile feeling against a person who
commands our esteem, we feel painfully the constraint of reason. But
if this person inspires us with interest, and also wins our esteem,
the constraint of feeling vanishes together with the constraint of
reason, and we begin to love him, that is to say, to play, to take
recreation, at once with our inclination and our esteem.

Moreover, as the sensuous impulsion controls us physically, and the
formal impulsion morally, the former makes our formal constitution
contingent, and the latter makes our material constitution
contingent, that is to say, there is contingence in the agreement of
our happiness with our perfection, and reciprocally. The instinct of
play, in which both act in concert, will render both our formal and
our material constitution contingent; accordingly, our perfection
and our happiness in like manner. And on the other hand, exactly
because it makes both of them contingent, and because the contingent
disappears with necessity, it will suppress this contingence in
both, and will thus give form to matter and reality to form. In
proportion that it will lessen the dynamic influence of feeling and
passion, it will place them in harmony with rational ideas, and by
taking from the laws of reason their moral constraint, it will
reconcile them with the interest of the senses.


I approach continually nearer to the end to which I lead you, by a
path offering few attractions. Be pleased to follow me a few steps
further, and a large horizon will open up to you and a delightful
prospect will reward you for the labour of the way.

The object of the sensuous instinct, expressed in a universal
conception, is named Life in the widest acceptation: a conception
that expresses all material existence and all that is immediately
present in the senses. The object of the formal instinct, expressed
in a universal conception, is called shape or form, as well in an
exact as in an inexact acceptation; a conception that embraces all
formal qualities of things and all relations of the same to the
thinking powers. The object of the play instinct, represented in a
general statement, may therefore bear the name of living form; a
term that serves to describe all aesthetic qualities of phaenomena,
and what people style, in the widest sense, beauty.

Beauty is neither extended to the whole field of all living things
nor merely enclosed in this field. A marble block, though it is and
remains lifeless, can nevertheless become a living form by the
architect and sculptor; a man, though he lives and has a form, is
far from being a living form on that account. For this to be the
case, it is necessary that his form should be life, and that his
life should be a form. As long as we only think of his form, it is
lifeless, a mere abstraction; as long as we only feel his life, it
is without form, a mere impression. It is only when his form lives
in our feeling, and his life in our understanding, he is the living
form, and this will everywhere be the case where we judge him to be

But the genesis of beauty is by no means declared because we know
how to point out the component parts, which in their combination
produce beauty. For to this end it would be necessary to comprehend
that combination itself, which continues to defy our exploration, as
well as all mutual operation between the finite and the infinite.
The reason, on transcendental grounds, makes the following demand:
There shall be a communion between the formal impulse and the
material impulse-that is, there shall be a play instinct--because it
is only the unity of reality with the form, of the accidental with
the necessary, of the passive state with freedom, that the
conception of humanity is completed. Reason is obliged to make this
demand, because her nature impels her to completeness and to the
removal of all bounds; while every exclusive activity of one or the
other impulse leaves human nature incomplete and places a limit in
it. Accordingly, as soon as reason issues the mandate, "a humanity
shall exist," it proclaims at the same time the law, "there shall be
a beauty." Experience can answer us if there is a beauty, and we
shall know it as soon as she has taught us if a humanity can exist.
But neither reason nor experience can tell us how beauty can be, and
how a humanity is possible.

We know that man is neither exclusively matter nor exclusively
spirit. Accordingly, beauty, as the consummation of humanity, can
neither be exclusively mere life, as has been asserted by sharp-
sighted observers, who kept too close to the testimony of
experience, and to which the taste of the time would gladly degrade
it; Nor can beauty be merely form, as has been judged by speculative
sophists, who departed too far from experience, and by philosophic
artists, who were led too much by the necessity of art in explaining
beauty; it is rather the common object of both impulses, that is, of
the play instinct. The use of language completely justifies this
name, as it is wont to qualify with the word play what is neither
subjectively nor objectively accidental, and yet does not impose
necessity either externally or internally. As the mind in the
intuition of the beautiful finds itself in a happy medium between
law and necessity, it is, because it divides itself between both,
emancipated from the pressure of both. The formal impulse and the
material impulse are equally earnest in their demands, because one
relates in its cognition to things in their reality and the other to
their necessity; because in action the first is directed to the
preservation of life, the second to the preservation of dignity, and
therefore both to truth and perfection. But life becomes more
indifferent when dignity is mixed up with it, and duty no longer
coerces when inclination attracts. In like manner the mind takes in
the reality of things, material truth, more freely and tranquilly as
soon as it encounters formal truth, the law of necessity; nor does
the mind find itself strung by abstraction as soon as immediate
intuition can accompany it. In one word, when the mind comes into
communion with ideas, all reality loses its serious value because it
becomes small; and as it comes in contact with feeling, necessity
parts also with its serious value because it is easy.

But perhaps the objection has for some time occurred to you, Is not
the beautiful degraded by this, that it is made a mere play? and is
it not reduced to the level of frivolous objects which have for ages
passed under that name? Does it not contradict the conception of the
reason and the dignity of beauty, which is nevertheless regarded as
an instrument of culture, to confine it to the work of being a mere
play? and does it not contradict the empirical conception of play,
which can coexist with the exclusion of all taste, to confine it
merely to beauty?

But what is meant by a MERE PLAY, when we know that in all
conditions of humanity that very thing is play, and only that is
play which makes man complete and develops simultaneously his
twofold nature? What you style LIMITATION, according to your
representation of the matter, according to my views, which I have
justified by proofs, I name ENLARGEMENT. Consequently, I should have
said exactly the reverse: man is serious ONLY with the agreeable,
with the good, and with the perfect, but he PLAYS with beauty. In
saying this we must not indeed think of the plays that are in vogue
in real life, and which commonly refer only to his material state.
But in real life we should also seek in vain for the beauty of which
we are here speaking. The actually present beauty is worthy of the
really, of the actually, present play-impulse; but by the ideal of
beauty, which is set up by the reason, an ideal of the play-instinct
is also presented, which man ought to have before his eyes in all
his plays.

Therefore, no error will ever be incurred if we seek the ideal of
beauty on the same road on which we satisfy our play-impulse. We can
immediately understand why the ideal form of a Venus, of a Juno, and
of an Apollo, is to be sought not at Rome, but in Greece, if we
contrast the Greek population, delighting in the bloodless athletic
contests of boxing, racing, and intellectual rivalry at Olympia,
with the Roman people gloating over the agony of a gladiator. Now
the reason pronounces that the beautiful must not only be life and
form, but a living form, that is, beauty, inasmuch as it dictates to
man the twofold law of absolute formality and absolute reality.
Reason also utters the decision that man shall only PLAY with
beauty, and he SHALL ONLY PLAY with BEAUTY.

For, to speak out once for all, man only plays when in the full
meaning of the word he is a man, and HE IS ONLY COMPLETELY A MAN
WHEN HE PLAYS. This proposition, which at this moment perhaps
appears paradoxical, will receive a great and deep meaning if we
have advanced far enough to apply it to the twofold seriousness of
duty and of destiny. I promise you that the whole edifice of
aesthetic art and the still more difficult art of life will be
supported by this principle. But this proposition is only unexpected
in science; long ago it lived and worked in art and in the feeling
of the Greeks, her most accomplished masters; only they removed to
Olympus what ought to have been preserved on earth. Influenced by
the truth of this principle, they effaced from the brow of their
gods the earnestness and labour which furrow the cheeks of mortals,
and also the hollow lust that smoothes the empty face. They set free
the ever serene from the chains of every purpose, of every duty, of
every care, and they made INDOLENCE and INDIFFERENCE the envied
condition of the godlike race; merely human appellations for the
freest and highest mind. As well the material pressure of natural
laws as the spiritual pressure of moral laws lost itself in its
higher idea of necessity, which embraced at the same time both
worlds, and out of the union of these two necessities issued true
freedom. Inspired by this spirit, the Greeks also effaced from the
features of their ideal, together with DESIRE or INCLINATION, all
traces of VOLITION, or, better still, they made both unrecognisable,
because they knew how to wed them both in the closest alliance. It
is neither charm nor is it dignity which speaks from the glorious
face of the Juno Ludovici; it is neither of these, for it is both at
once. While the female god challenges our veneration, the godlike
woman at the same time kindles our love. But while in ecstacy we
give ourselves up to the heavenly beauty, the heavenly self-repose
awes us back. The whole form rests and dwells in itself--a fully
complete creation in itself--and as if she were out of space,
without advance or resistance; it shows no force contending with
force, no opening through which time could break in. Irresistibly
carried away and attracted by her womanly charm, kept off at a
distance by her godly dignity, we also find ourselves at length in
the state of the greatest repose, an4 the result is a wonderful
impression, for which the understanding has no idea and language no


From the antagonism of the two impulsions, and from the association
of two opposite principles, we have seen beauty to result, of which
the highest ideal must therefore be sought in the most perfect union
and equilibrium possible of the reality and of the form. But this
equilibrium remains always an idea that reality can never completely
reach. In reality, there will always remain a preponderance of one
of these elements over the other, and the highest point to which
experience can reach will consist in an oscillation between two
principles, when sometimes reality and at others form will have the
advantage. Ideal beauty is therefore eternally one and indivisible,
because there can only be one single equilibrium; on the contrary,
experimental beauty will be eternally double, because in the
oscillation the equilibrium may be destroyed in two ways--this side
and that.

I have called attention in the foregoing letters to a fact that can
also be rigorously deduced from the considerations that have engaged
our attention to the present point; this fact is that an exciting
and also a moderating action may be expected from the beautiful. The
TEMPERING action is directed to keep within proper limits the
sensuous and the formal impulsions; the EXCITING, to maintain both
of them in their full force. But these two modes of action of beauty
ought to be completely identified in the idea. The beautiful ought
to temper while uniformly exciting the two natures, and it ought
also to excite while uniformly moderating them. This result flows at
once from the idea of a correlation, in virtue of which the two
terms mutually imply each other, and are the reciprocal condition
one of the other, a correlation of which the purest product is
beauty. But experience does not offer an example of so perfect a
correlation. In the field of experience it will always happen more
or less that excess on the one side will give rise to deficiency on
the other, and deficiency will give birth to excess. It results from
this that what in the beau-ideal is only distinct in the idea, is
different in reality in empirical beauty, The beau-ideal, though
simple and indivisible, discloses, when viewed in two different
aspects, on the one hand a property of gentleness and grace, and on
the other an energetic property; in experience there is a gentle and
graceful beauty, and there is an energetic beauty. It is so, and it
will be always so, so long as the absolute is enclosed in the limits
of time, and the ideas of reason have to be realised in humanity.
For example, the intellectual man has the idea of virtue, of truth,
and of happiness; but the active man will only practise VIRTUES,
will only grasp TRUTHS, and enjoy HAPPY DAYS. The business of
physical and moral education is to bring back this multiplicity to
unity, to put morality in the place of manners, science in the place
of knowledge; the business of aesthetic education is to make out of
beauties the beautiful.

Energetic beauty can no more preserve a man from a certain residue
of savage violence and harshness than graceful beauty can secure him
against a certain degree of effeminacy and weakness. As it is the
effect of the energetic beauty to elevate the mind in a physical and
moral point of view and to augment its momentum, it only too often
happens that the resistance of the temperament and of the character
diminishes the aptitude to receive impressions, that the delicate
part of humanity suffers an oppression which ought only to affect
its grosser part, and that this course nature participates in an
increase of force that ought only to tun? to the account of free
personality. It is for this reason that at the periods when we find
much strength and abundant sap in humanity, true greatness of
thought is seen associated with what is gigantic and extravagant,
and the sublimest feeling is found coupled with the most horrible
excess of passion. It is also the reason why, in the periods
distinguished for regularity and form, nature is as often oppressed
as it is governed, as often outraged as it isi surpassed. And as the
action of gentle and graceful beauty is to relax the mind in the
moral sphere as well as the physical, it happens quite as easily
that the energy of feelings is extinguished with the violence of
desires, and that character shares in the loss of strength which
ought only to affect the passions. This is the reason why, in ages
assumed to be refined, it is not a rare thing to see gentleness
degenerate into effeminacy, politeness into platitude, correctness
into empty sterility, liberal ways into arbitrary caprice, ease into
frivolity, calm into apathy, and, lastly, a most miserable
caricature treads on the heels of the noblest, the most beautiful
type of humanity. Gentle and graceful beauty is therefore a want to
the man who suffers the constraint of matter and of forms, for he is
moved by grandeur and strength long before he becomes sensible to
harmony and grace. Energetic beauty is a necessity to the man who is
under the indulgent sway of taste, for in his state of refinement he
is only too much disposed to make light of the strength that he
retained in his state of rude savagism.

I think I have now answered and also cleared up the contradiction
commonly met in the judgments of men respecting the influence of the
beautiful, and the appreciation of aesthetic culture. This
contradiction is explained directly we remember that there are two
sorts of experimental beauty, and that on both hands an affirmation
is extended to the entire race, when it can only be proved of one of
the species. This contradiction disappears the moment we distinguish
a twofold want in humanity to which two kinds of beauty correspond.
It is therefore probable that both sides would make good their
claims if they come to an understanding respecting the kind of
beauty and the form of humanity that they have in view.

Consequently in the sequel of my researches I shall adopt the course
that nature herself follows with man considered from the point of
view of sesthetics, and setting out from the two kinds of beauty, I
shall rise to the idea of the genus. I shall examine the effects
produced on man by the gentle and graceful beauty when its springs
of action are in full play, and also those produced by energetic
beauty when they are relaxed. I shall do this to confound these two
sorts of beauty in the unity of the beau-ideal, in the same way that
the two opposite forms and modes of being of humanity are absorbed
in the unity of the ideal man.


While we were only engaged in deducing the universal idea of beauty
from the conception of human nature in general, we had only to
consider in the latter the limits established essentially in itself,
and inseparable from the notion of the finite. Without attending to
the contingent restrictions that human nature may undergo in the
real world of phenomena, we have drawn the conception of this nature
directly from reason, as a source of every necessity, and the ideal
of beauty has been given us at the same time with the ideal of

But now we are coming down from the region of ideas to the scene of
reality, to find man in a DETERMINATE STATE, and consequently in
limits which are not derived from the pure conception of humanity,
but from external circumstances and from an accidental use of his
freedom. But although the limitation of the idea of humanity may be
very manifold in the individual, the contents of this idea suffice
to teach us that we can only depart from it by TWO opposite roads.
For if the perfection of man consist in the harmonious energy of his
sensuous and spiritual forces, he can only lack this perfection
through the want of harmony and the want of energy. Thus then,
before having received on this point the testimony of experience,
reason suffices to assure us that we shall find the real and
consequently limited man in a state of tension or relaxation,
according as the exclusive activity of isolated forces troubles the
harmony of his being, or as the unity of his nature is based on the
uniform relaxation of his physical and spiritual forces. These
opposite limits are, as we have now to prove, suppressed by the
beautiful, which re-establishes harmony in man when excited, and
energy in man when relaxed; and which, in this way, in conformity
with the nature of the beautiful, restores the state of limitation
to an absolute state, and makes of man a whole, complete in himself.

Thus the beautiful by no means belies in reality the idea which we
have made of it in speculation; only its action is much less free in
it than in the field of theory, where we were able to apply it to
the pure conception of humanity. In man, as experience shows him to
us, the beautiful finds a matter, already damaged and resisting,
which robs him in IDEAL perfection of what it communicates to him of
its individual mode of being. Accordingly in reality the beautiful
will always appear a peculiar and limited species, and not as the
pure genus; in excited minds in the state of tension, it will lose
its freedom and variety; in relaxed minds, it will lose its
vivifying force; but we, who have become familiar with the true
character of this contradictory phenomenon, cannot be led astray by
it. We shall not follow the great crowd of critics, in determining
their conception by separate experiences, and to make them
answerable for the deficiencies which man shows under their
influence. We know rather that it is man who transfers the
imperfections of his individuality over to them, who stands
perpetually in the way of their perfection by his subjective
limitation, and lowers their absolute ideal to two limited forms of

It was advanced that soft beauty is for an unstrung mind, and the
energetic beauty for the tightly strung mind. But I apply the term
unstrung to a man when he is rather under the pressure of feelings
than under the pressure of conceptions. Every exclusive sway of one
of his two fundamental impulses is for man a state of compulsion and
violence, and freedom only exists in the co-operation of his two
natures. Accordingly, the man governed preponderately by feelings,
or sensuously unstrung, is emancipated and set free by matter. The
soft and graceful beauty, to satisfy this twofold problem, must
therefore show herself under two aspects--in two distinct forms.
First as a form in repose, she will tone down savage life, and pave
the way from feeling to thought. She will, secondly, as a living
image equip the abstract form with sensuous power, and lead back the
conception to intuition and law to feeling. The former service she
does to the man of nature, the second to the man of art. But because
she does not in both cases hold complete sway over her matter, but
depends on that which is furnished either by formless nature or
unnatural art, she will in both cases bear traces of her origin, and
lose herself in one place in material life and in another in mere
abstract form.

To be able to arrive at a conception how beauty can become a means
to remove this twofold relaxation, we must explore its source in the
human mind. Accordingly, make up your mind to dwell a little longer
in the region of speculation, in order then to leave it for ever,
and to advance with securer footing on the ground of experience.


By beauty the sensuous man is led to form and to thought; by beauty
the spiritual man is brought back to matter and restored to the
world of sense. From this statement it would appear to follow that
between matter and form, between passivity and activity, there must
be a middle state, and that beauty plants us in this state. It
actually happens that the greater part of mankind really form this
conception of beauty as soon as they begin to reflect on its
operations, and all experience I seems to point to this conclusion.
But, on the other hand, nothing is more unwarrantable and
contradictory than such a conception, because the aversion of matter
and form, the passive and the active, feeling and thought, is
eternal and I cannot be mediated in any way. How can we remove this
contradiction? Beauty weds the two opposed conditions of feeling and
thinking, and yet there is absolutely no medium between them. The
former is immediately certain through experience, the other through
the reason.

This is the point to which the whole question of beauty leads, and
if we succeed in settling this point in a satisfactory way, we have
at length found the clue that will conduct us through the whole
labyrinth of aesthetics.

But this requires two very different operations, which must
necessarily support each other in this inquiry. Beauty it is said,
weds two conditions with one another which are opposite to each
other, and can never be one. We must start from this opposition; we
must grasp and recognise them in their entire purity and strictness,
so that both conditions are separated in the most definite matter;
otherwise we mix, but we do not unite them. Secondly, it is usual to
say, beauty unites those two opposed conditions, and therefore
removes the opposition. But because both conditions remain eternally
opposed to one another, they cannot be united in any other way than
by being suppressed. Our second business is therefore to make this
connection perfect, to carry them out with such purity and
perfection that both conditions disappear entirely in a third one,
and no trace of separation remains in the whole; otherwise we
segregate, but do not unite. All the disputes that have ever
prevailed and still prevail in the philosophical world respecting
the conception of beauty have no other origin than their commencing
without a sufficiently strict distinction, or that it is not carried
out fully to a pure union. Those philosophers who blindly follow
their feeling in reflecting on this topic can obtain no other
conception of beauty, because they distinguish nothing separate in
the totality of the sensuous impression. Other philosophers, who
take the understanding as their exclusive guide, can never obtain a
conception of beauty, because they never see anything else in the
whole than the parts, and spirit and matter remain eternally
separate, even in their most perfect unity. The first fear to
suppress beauty dynamically, that is, as a working power, if they
must separate what is united in the feeling. The others fear to
suppress beauty logically, that is, as a conception, when they have
to hold together what in the understanding is separate. The former
wish to think of beauty as it works; the latter wish it to work as
it is thought. Both therefore must miss the truth; the former
because they try to follow infinite nature with their limited
thinking power; the others, because they wish to limit unlimited
nature according to their laws of thought The first fear to rob
beauty of its freedom by a too strict dissection, the others fear to
destroy the distinctness of the conception by a too violent union.
But the former do not reflect that the freedom in which they very
properly place the essence of beauty is not lawlessness, but harmony
of laws; not caprice, but the highest internal necessity. The others
do not remember that distinctness, which they with equal right
demand from beauty, does not consist in the exclusion of certain
realities, but the absolute including of all; that is not therefore
limitation, but infinitude. We shall avoid the quicksands on which
both have made shipwreck if we begin from the two elements in which
beauty divides itself before the understanding, but then afterwards
rise to a pure aesthetic unity by which it works on feeling, and in
which both those conditions completely disappear.


Two principal and different states of passive and active capacity of
being determined [Footnote: Bestimmbarkeit] can be distinguished in
man; in like manner two states of passive and active determination.
[Footnote: Bestimmung.] The explanation of this proposition leads us
most readily to our end.

The condition of the state of man before destination or direction is
given him by the impressions of the senses is an unlimited capacity
of being determined. The infinite of time and space is given to his
imagination for its free use; and, because nothing is settled in
this kingdom of the possible, and therefore nothing is excluded from
it, this state of absence of determination can be named an empty
infiniteness, which must not by any means be confounded with an
infinite void.

Now it is necessary that his sensuous nature should be modified, and
that in the indefinite series of possible determinations one alone
should become real. One perception must spring up in it. That which,
in the previous state of determinableness, was only an empty potency
becomes now an active force, and receives contents; but at the same
time, as an active force it receives a limit, after having been, as
a simple power, unlimited. Reality exists now, but the infinite has
disappeared. To describe a figure in space, we are obliged to limit
infinite space; to represent to ourselves a change in time, we are
obliged to divide the totality of time. Thus we only arrive at
reality by limitation, at the positive, at a real position, by
negation or exclusion; to determination, by the suppression of our
free determinableness.

But mere exclusion would never beget a reality, nor would a mere
sensuous impression ever give birth to a perception, if there were
not something from which it was excluded, if by an absolute act of
the mind the negation were not referred to something positive, and
if opposition did not issue out of non-position. This act of the
mind is styled judging or thinking, and the result is named thought.

Before we determine a place in space, there is no space for us; but
without absolute space we could never determine a place. The same is
the case with time. Before we have an instant, there is no time to
us; but without infinite time--eternity--we should never have a
representation of the instant. Thus, therefore, we can only arrive
at the whole by the part, to the unlimited through limitation; but
reciprocally we only arrive at the part through the whole, at
limitation through the unlimited.

It follows from this, that when it is affirmed of beauty that it
mediates for man, the transition from feeling to thought, this must
not be understood to mean that beauty can fill up the gap that
separates feeling from thought, the passive from the active. This
gap is infinite; and, without the interposition of a new and
independent faculty, it is impossible for the general to issue from
the individual, the necessary from the contingent. Thought is the
immediate act of this absolute power, which, I admit, can only be
manifested in connection with sensuous impressions, but which in
this manifestation depends so little on the sensuous that it reveals
itself specially in an opposition to it. The spontaneity or autonomy
with which it acts excludes every foreign influence; and it is not
in as far as it helps thought--which comprehends a manifest
contradiction--but only in as far as it procures for the
intellectual faculties the freedom to manifest themselves in
conformity with their proper laws. It does it only because the
beautiful can become a means of leading man from matter to form,
from feeling to laws, from a limited existence to an absolute

But this assumes that the freedom of the intellectual faculties can
be balked, which appears contradictory to the conception of an
autonomous power. For a power which only receives the matter of its
activity from without can only be hindered in its action by the
privation of this matter, and consequently by way of negation; it is
therefore a misconception of the nature of the mind, to attribute to
the sensuous passions the power of oppressing positively the freedom
of the mind. Experience does indeed present numerous examples where
the rational forces appear compressed in proportion to the violence
of the sensuous forces. But instead of deducing this spiritual
weakness from the energy of passion, this passionate energy must
rather be explained by the weakness of the human mind. For the sense
can only have a sway such as this over man when the mind has
spontaneously neglected to assert its power.

Yet in trying by these explanations to move one objection, I appear
to have exposed myself to another, and I have only saved the
autonomy of the mind at the cost of its unity. For how can the mind
derive at the same time from itself the principles of inactivity and
of activity, if it is not itself divided, and if it is not in
opposition with itself?

Here we must remember that we have before us, not the infinite mind,
but the finite. The finite mind is that which only becomes active
through the passive, only arrives at the absolute through
limitation, and only acts and fashions in as far as it receives
matter. Accordingly, a mind of this nature must associate with the
impulse towards form or the absolute, an impulse towards matter or
limitation, conditions without which it could not have the former
impulse nor satisfy it. How can two such opposite tendencies exist
together in the same being? This is a problem that can no doubt
embarrass the metaphysician, but not the transcendental philosopher.
The latter does not presume to explain the possibility of things,
but he is satisfied with giving a solid basis to the knowledge that
makes us understand the possibility of experience. And as experience
would be equally impossible without this autonomy in the mind, and
without the absolute unity of the mind, it lays down these two
conceptions as two conditions of experience equally necessary
without troubling itself any more to reconcile them. Moreover, this
immanence of two fundamental impulses does not in any degree
contradict the absolute unity of the mind, as soon as the mind
itself, its selfhood, is distinguished from these two motors. No
doubt, these two impulses exist and act in it, but itself is neither
matter nor form, nor the sensuous nor reason, and this is a point
that does not seem always to have occurred to those who only look
upon the mind as itself acting when its acts are in harmony with
reason, and who declare it passive when its acts contradict reason.

Arrived at its development, each of these two fundamental impulsions
tends of necessity and by its nature to satisfy itself; but
precisely because each of them has a necessary tendency, and both
nevertheless have an opposite tendency, this twofold constraint
mutually destroys itself, and the will preserves an entire freedom
between them both. It is therefore the will that conducts itself
like a power--as the basis of reality--with respect to both these
impulses; but neither of them can by itself act as a power with
respect to the other. A violent man, by his positive tendency to
justice, which never fails in him, is turned away from injustice;
nor can a temptation of pleasure, however strong, make a strong
character violate its principles. There is in man no other power
than his will; and death alone, which destroys man, or some
privation of self-consciousness, is the only thing that can rob man
of his internal freedom.

An external necessity determines our condition, our existence in
time, by means of the sensuous. The latter is quite involuntary,
and directly it is produced in us, we are necessarily passive. In
the same manner an internal necessity awakens our personality in
connection with sensations, and by its antagonism with them; for
consciousness cannot depend on the will, which presupposes it. This
primitive manifestation of personality is no more a merit to us
than its privation is a defect in us. Reason can only be required
in a being who is self-conscious, for reason is an absolute
consecutiveness and universality of consciousness; before this is
the case, he is not a man, nor can any act of humanity be expected
from him. The metaphysician can no more explain the limitation
imposed by sensation on a free and autonomous mind than the natural
philosopher can understand the infinite, which is revealed in
consciousness in connection with these limits. Neither abstraction
nor experience can bring us back to the source whence issue our
ideas of necessity and of universality; this source is concealed in
its origin in time from the observer, and its super-sensuous origin
from the researches of the metaphysician. But, to sum up in a few
words, consciousness is there, and, together with its immutable
unity, the law of all that is for man is established, as well as of
all that is to be by man, for his understanding and his activity.
The ideas of truth and of right present themselves inevitable,
incorruptible, immeasurable, even in the age of sensuousness; and
without our being able to say why or how, we see eternity in time,
the necessary following the contingent. It is thus that, without any
share on the part of the subject, the sensation and self-consciousness
arise, and the origin of both is beyond our volition, as it is out
of the sphere of our knowledge.

But as soon as these two faculties have passed into action, and man
has verified by experience, through the medium of sensation, a
determinate existence, and through the medium of consciousness, its
absolute existence, the two fundamental impulses exert their
influence directly their object is given. The sensuous impulse is
awakened with the experience of life--with the beginning of the
individual; the rational impulsion with the experience of law--with
the beginning of his personality; and it is only when these two
inclinations have come into existence that the human type is
realised. Up to that time, everything takes place in man according
to the law of necessity; but now the hand of nature lets him go, and
it is for him to keep upright humanity which nature places as a germ
in his heart. And thus we see that directly the two opposite and
fundamental impulses exercise their influence in him, both lose
their constraint, and the autonomy of two necessities gives birth to
freedom. LETTER XX.

That freedom Is an active and not a passive principle results from
its very conception; but that liberty itself should be an effect of
nature (taking this word in its widest sense), and not the work of
man, and therefore that it can be favoured or thwarted by natural
means, is the necessary consequence of that which precedes. It
begins only when man is complete, and when these two fundamental
impulsions have been developed. It will then be wanting whilst he is
incomplete, and while one of these impulsions is excluded, and it
will be re-established by all that gives back to man his integrity.

Thus it is possible, both with regard to the entire species as to
the individual, to remark the moment when man is yet incomplete, and
when one of the two exclusions acts solely in him. We know that man
commences by life simply, to end by form; that he is more of an
individual than a person, and that he starts from the limited or
finite to approach the infinite. The sensuous impulsion comes into
play therefore before the rational impulsion, because sensation
precedes consciousness; and in this priority of sensuous impulsion
we find the key of the history of the whole of human liberty.

There is a moment, in fact, when the instinct of life, not yet
opposed to the instinct of form, acts as nature and as necessity;
when the sensuous is a power because man has not begun; for even in
man there can be no other power than his will. But when man shall
have attained to the power of thought, reason, on the contrary, will
be a power, and moral or logical necessity will take the place of
physical necessity. Sensuous power must then be annihilated before
the law which must govern it can be established. It is not enough
that something shall begin which as yet was not; previously
something must end which had begun. Man cannot pass immediately from
sensuousness to thought. He must step backwards, for it is only when
one determination is suppressed that the contrary determination can
take place. Consequently, in order to exchange passive against
active liberty, a passive determination against an active, he must
be momentarily free from all determination, and must traverse a
state of pure determinability. He has then to return in some degree
to that state of pure negative indetermination in which he was
before his senses were affected by anything. But this state was
absolutely empty of all contents, and now the question is to
reconcile an equal determination and a determinability equally
without limit, with the greatest possible fulness, because from this
situation something positive must immediately follow. The
determination which man received by sensation must be preserved,
because he should not lose the reality; but at the same time, in so
far as finite, it should be suppressed, because a determinability
without limit would take place. The problem consists then in
annihilating the determination of the mode of existence, and yet at
the same time in preserving it, which is only possible in one way:
in opposing to it another. The two sides of a balance are in
equilibrium when empty; they are also in equilibrium when their
contents are of equal weight.

Thus, to pass from sensation to thought, the soul traverses a medium
position, in which sensibility and reason are at the same time
active, and thus they mutually destroy their determinant power, and
by their antagonism produce a negation. This medium situation in
which the soul is neither physically nor morally constrained, and
yet is in both ways active, merits essentially the name of a free
situation; and if we call the state of sensuous determination
physical, and the state of rational determination logical or moral,
that state of real and active determination should be called the


I have remarked in the beginning of the foregoing letter that there
is a twofold condition of determinableness and a twofold condition
of determination. And now I can clear up this proposition.

The mind can be determined--is determinate--only in as far as it is
not determined; it is, however, determinable also, in as far as it
is not exclusively determined; that is, if it is not confined in its
determination. The former is only a want of determination--it is
without limits, because it is without reality; but the latter, the
aesthetic determinableness, has no limits, because it unites all

The mind is determined, inasmuch as it is only limited; but it is
also determined because it limits itself of its own absolute
capacity. It is situated in the former position when it feels, in
the second when it thinks. Accordingly the aesthetic constitution is
in relation to determinableness what thought is in relation to
determination. The latter is a negative from internal and infinite
completeness, the former a limitation from internal infinite power.
Feeling and thought come into contact in one single point, the mind
is determined in both conditions, the man becomes something and
exists--either as individual or person--by exclusion; in other cases
these two faculties stand infinitely apart. Just in the same manner,
the aesthetic determinableness comes in contact with the mere want
of determination in a single point, by both excluding every distinct
determined existence, by thus being in all other points nothing and
all, and hence by being infinitely different. Therefore, if the
latter, in the absence of determination from deficiency, is
represented as an empty infiniteness, the aesthetic freedom of
determination, which forms the proper counterpart to the former, can
be considered, as a completed infiniteness; a representation which
exactly agrees with the teachings of the previous investigations.

Man is therefore nothing in the aesthetic state, if attention is
given to the single result, and not to the whole faculty, and if we
regard only the absence or want of every special determination. We
must therefore do justice to those who pronounce the beautiful, and
the disposition in which it places the mind, as entirely indifferent
and unprofitable, in relation to knowledge and feeling. They are
perfectly right; for it is certain that beauty gives no separate,
single result, either for the understanding or for the will; it does
not carry out a single intellectual or moral object; it discovers no
truth, does not help us to fulfil a single duty, and, in one word,
is equally unfit to found the character or to clear the head.
Accordingly, the personal worth of a man, or his dignity, as far as
this can only depend on himself, remains entirely undetermined by
aesthetic culture, and nothing further is attained than that, on the
part of nature, it is made profitable for him to make of himself
what he will; that the freedom to be what he ought to be is restored
perfectly to him.

But by this, something infinite is attained. But as soon as we
remember that freedom is taken from man by the one-sided compulsion
of nature in feeling, and by the exclusive legislation of the reason
in thinking, we must consider the capacity restored to him by the
aesthetical disposition, as the highest of all gifts, as the gift of
humanity. I admit that he possesses this capacity for humanity,
before every definite determination in which he may be placed. But
as a matter of fact, he loses it with every determined condition,
into which he may come, and if he is to pass over to an opposite
condition, humanity must be in every case restored to him by the
aesthetic life.

It is therefore not only a poetical license, but also
philosophically correct, when beauty is named our second creator.
Nor is this inconsistent with the fact that she only makes it
possible for us to attain and realise humanity, leaving this to our
free will. For in this she acts in common with our original creator,
nature, which has imparted to us nothing further than this capacity
for humanity, but leaves the use of it to our own determination of


Accordingly, if the aesthetic disposition of the mind must be looked
upon in one respect as nothing--that is, when we confine our view to
separate and determined operations--it must be looked upon in
another respect as a state of the highest reality, in as far as we
attend to the absence of all limits and the sum of powers which are
commonly active in it. Accordingly we cannot pronounce them, again,
to be wrong who describe the aesthetic state to be the most
productive in relation to knowledge and morality. They are perfectly
right, for a state of mind which comprises the whole of humanity in
itself must of necessity include in itself also--necessarily and
potentially--every separate expression of it. Again, a disposition
of mind that removes all limitation from the totality of human
nature must also remove it from every social expression of the same.
Exactly because its "aesthetic disposition" does not exclusively
shelter any separate function of humanity, it is favourable to all
without distinction, nor does it favour any particular functions,
precisely because it is the foundation of the possibility of all.
All other exercises give to the mind some special aptitude, but for
that very reason give it some definite limits; only the aesthetical
leads him to the unlimited. Every other condition, in which we can
live, refers us to a previous condition, and requires for its
solution a following condition; only the aesthetic is a complete
whole in itself, for it unites in itself all conditions of its
source and of its duration. Here alone we feel ourselves swept out
of time, and our humanity expresses itself with purity and integrity
as if it had not yet received any impression or interruption from
the operation of external powers.

That which flatters our senses in immediate sensation opens our weak
and volatile spirit to every impression, but makes us in the same
degree less apt for exertion. That which stretches our thinking
power and invites to abstract conceptions strengthens our mind for
every kind of resistance, but hardens it also in the same
proportion, and deprives us of susceptibility in the same ratio that
it helps us to greater mental activity. For this very reason, one as
well as the other brings us at length to exhaustion, because matter
cannot long do without the shaping, constructive force, and the
force cannot do without the constructible material. But on the other
hand, if we have resigned ourselves to the enjoyment of genuine
beauty, we are at such a moment of our passive and active powers in
the same degree master, and we shall turn with ease from grave to
gay, from rest to movement, from submission to resistance, to
abstract thinking and intuition.

This high indifference and freedom of mind, united with power and
elasticity, is the disposition in which a true work of art ought to
dismiss us, and there is no better test of true aesthetic
excellence. If after an enjoyment of this kind we find ourselves
specially impelled to a particular mode of feeling or action, and
unfit for other modes, this serves as an infallible proof that we
have not experienced any pure aesthetic effect, whether this is
owing to the object, to our own mode of feeling--as generally
happens--or to both together.

As in reality no purely aesthetical effect can be met with--for man
can never leave his dependence on material forces--the excellence of
a work of art can only consist in its greater approximation to its
ideal of aesthetic purity, and however high we may raise the freedom
of this effect, we shall always leave it with a particular
disposition and a particular bias. Any class of productions or
separate work in the world of art is noble and excellent in
proportion to the universality of the disposition and the unlimited
character of the bias thereby presented to our mind. This truth can
be applied to works in various branches of art, and also to
different works in the same branch. We leave a grand musical
performance with our feelings excited, the reading of a noble poem
with a quickened imagination, a beautiful statue or building with an
awakened understanding; but a man would not choose an opportune
moment who attempted to invite us to abstract thinking after a high
musical enjoyment, or to attend to a prosaic affair of common life
after a high poetical enjoyment, or to kindle our imagination and
astonish our feelings directly after inspecting a fine statue or
edifice. The reason of this is that music, BY ITS MATTER, even when
most spiritual, presents a greater affinity with the senses than is
permitted by aesthetic liberty; it is because even the most happy
poetry, having FOR TIS MEDIUM the arbitrary and contingent play of
the imagination, always shares in it more than the intimate
necessity of the really beautiful allows; it is because the best
sculpture touches on severe science BY WHAT IS DETERMINATE IN ITS
CONCEPTION. However, these particular affinities are lost in
proportion as the works of these three kinds of art rise to a
greater elevation, and it is a natural and necessary consequence of
their perfection, that, without confounding their objective limits,
the different arts come to resemble each other more and more, in the
action WHICH THEY EXERCISE ON THE MIND. At its highest degree of
ennobling, music ought to become a form, and act on us with the calm
power of an antique statue; in its most elevated perfection, the
plastic art ought to become music and move us by the immediate
action exercised on the mind by the senses; in its most complete
developmentment, poetry ought both to stir us powerfully like music
and like plastic art to surround us with a peaceful light. In each
art, the perfect style consists exactly in knowing how to remove
specific limits, while sacrificing at the same time the particular
advantages of the art, and to give it by a wise use of what belongs
to it specially a more general character.

Nor is it only the limits inherent in the specific character of each
kind of art that the artist ought to overstep in putting his hand to
the work; he must also triumph over those which are inherent in the
particular subject of which he treats. In a really beautiful work of
art, the substance ought to be inoperative, the form should do
everything; for by the form, the whole man is acted on; the
substance acts on nothing but isolated forces. Thus, however vast
and sublime it may be, the substance always exercises a restrictive
action on the mind, and true aesthetic liberty can only be expected
from the form. Consequently the true search of the master consists
in destroying matter by the form; and the triumph of art is great in
proportion as it overcomes matter and maintains its sway over those
who enjoy its work. It is great particularly in destroying matter
when most imposing, ambitious, and attractive, when therefore matter
has most power to produce the effect proper to it, or, again, when
it leads those who consider it more closely to enter directly into
relation with it. The mind of the spectator and of the hearer must
remain perfectly free and intact; it must issue pure and entire from
the magic circle of the artist, as from the hands of the Creator.
The most frivolous subject ought to be treated in such a way that we
preserve the faculty to exchange it immediately for the most serious
work. The arts which have passion for their object, as a tragedy for
example, do not present a difficulty here; for, in the first place
these arts are not entirely free, because they are in the service of
a particular end (the pathetic), and then no connoisseur will deny
that even in this class a work is perfect in proportion as amidst
the most violent storms of passion it respects the liberty of the
soul. There is a fine art of passion, but an impassioned fine art is
a contradiction in terms, for the infallible effect of the beautiful
is emancipation from the passions. The idea of an instructive fine
art (didactic art) or improving (moral) art is no less contradictory,
for nothing agrees less with the idea of the beautiful than to give
a determinate tendency to the mind.

However, from the fact that a work produces effects only by its
substance, it must not always be inferred that there is a want of
form in this work; this conclusion may quite as well testify to a
want of form in the observer. If his mind is too stretched or too
relaxed, if it is only accustomed to receive things either by the
senses or the intelligence, even in the most perfect combination, it
will only stop to look at the parts, and it will only see matter in
the most beautiful form. Only sensible of the coarse elements, he
must first destroy the aesthetic organisation of a work to find
enjoyment in it, and carefully disinter the details which genius has
caused to vanish, with infinite art, in the harmony of the whole.
The interest he takes in the work is either solely moral or
exclusively physical; the only thing wanting to it is to be exactly
what it ought to be--aesthetical. The readers of this class enjoy a
serious and pathetic poem as they do a sermon; a simple and playful
work, as an inebriating draught; and if on the one hand they have so
little taste as to demand edification from a tragedy or from an
epos, even such as the "Messias," on the other hand they will be
infallibly scandalised by a piece after the fashion of Anacreon and


I take up the thread of my researches, which I broke off only to
apply the principles I laid down to practical art and the
appreciation of its works.

The transition from the passivity of sensuousness to the activity of
thought and of will can be effected only by the intermediary state
of aesthetic liberty; and though in itself this state decides
nothing respecting our opinions and our sentiments, and therefore
leaves our intellectual and moral value entirely problematical, it
is, however, the necessary condition without which we should never
attain to an opinion or a sentiment. In a word, there is no other
way to make a reasonable being out of a sensuous man than by making
him first aesthetic.

But, you might object: Is this mediation absolutely indispensable?
Could not truth and duty, one or the other, in themselves and by
themselves, find access to the sensuous man? To this I reply: Not
only is it possible, but it is I absolutely necessary that they owe
solely to themselves their determining force, and nothing would be
more contradictory to our preceding affirmations than to appear to
defend the contrary opinion. It has been expressly proved that the
beautiful furnishes no result, either for the comprehension or for
the will; that it mingles with no operations, either of thought or
of resolution; and that it confers this double power without
determining anything with regard to the real exercise of this power.
Here all foreign help disappears, and the pure logical form, the
idea, would speak immediately to the intelligence, as the pure moral
form, the law, immediately to the will.

But that the pure form should be capable of it, and that there is in
general a pure form for sensuous man, is that, I maintain, which
should be rendered possible by the aesthetic disposition of the
soul. Truth is not a thing which can be received from without like
reality or the visible existence of objects. It is the thinking
force, in his own liberty and activity, which produces it, and it is
just this liberty proper to it, this liberty which we seek in vain
in sensuous man. The sensuous man is already determined physically,
and thenceforth he has no longer his free determinability; he must
necessarily first enter into possession of this lost determinability
before he can exchange the passive against an active determination.
Therefore, in order to recover it, he must either lose the passive
determination that he had, or he should enclose already in Himself
the active determination to which he should pass. If he confined
himself to lose passive determination, he would at the same time
lose with it the possibility of an active determination, because
thought needs a body, and form can only be realised through matter.
He must therefore contain already in himself the active
determination that he may be at once both actively and passively
determined, that is to say, he becomes necessarily aesthetic.

Consequently, by the aesthetic disposition of the soul the proper
activity of reason is already revealed in the sphere of
sensuousness, the power of sense is already broken within its own
boundaries, and the ennobling of physical man carried far enough,
for spiritual man has only to develop himself according to the laws
of liberty. The transition from an aesthetic state to a logical and
moral state (from the beautiful to truth and duty) is then
infinitely more easy than the transition from the physical state to
the aesthetic state (from life pure and blind to form). This
transition man can effectuate alone by his liberty, whilst he has
only to enter into possession of himself not to give it himself; but
to separate the elements of his nature, and not to enlarge it.
Having attained to the aesthetic disposition, man will give to his
judgments and to his actions a universal value as soon as he desires
it This passage from brute nature to beauty, in which an entirely
new faculty would awaken in him, nature would render easier, and his
will has no power over a disposition which, we know, itself gives
birth to the will. To bring the aesthetic man to profound views, to
elevated sentiments, he requires nothing more than important
occasions; to obtain the same thing from the sensuous man, his
nature must at first be changed. To make of the former a hero, a
sage, it is often only necessary to meet with a sublime situation,
which exercises upon the faculty of the will the more immediate
action; for the second, it must first be transplanted under another

One of the most important tasks of culture, then, is to submit man
to form, even in a purely physical life, and to render it aesthetic
as far as the domain of the beautiful can be extended, for it is
alone in the aesthetic state, and not in the physical state, that
the moral state can be developed. If in each particular case man
ought to possess the power to make his judgment and his will the
judgment of the entire species; if he ought to find in each limited
existence the transition to an infinite existence; if, lastly, he
ought from every dependent situation to take his flight to rise to
autonomy and to liberty, it must be observed that at no moment is he
only individual and solely obeys the law of nature. To be apt and
ready to raise himself from the narrow circle of the ends of nature,
to rational ends, in the sphere of the former he must already have
exercised himself in the second; he must already have realised his
physical destiny with a certain liberty that belongs only to
spiritual nature, that is to say, according to the laws of the

And that he can effect without thwarting in the least degree his
physical aim. The exigencies of nature with regard to him turn only
upon what he does--upon the substance of his acts; but the ends of
nature in no degree determine the way in which he acts, the form of
his actions. On the contrary, the exigencies of reason have
rigorously the form of his activity for its object. Thus, so much as
it is necessary for the moral destination of man, that he be purely
moral, that he shows an absolute personal activity, so much is he
indifferent that his physical destination be entirely physical, that
he acts in a manner entirely passive. Henceforth with regard to this
last destination, it entirely depends on him to fulfil it solely as
a sensuous being and natural force (as a force which acts only as it
diminishes) or, at the same time, as absolute force, as a rational
being. To which of these does his dignity best respond? Of this,
there can be no question. It is as disgraceful and contemptible for
him to do under sensuous impulsion that which he ought to have
determined merely by the motive of duty, as it is noble and
honourable for him to incline towards conformity with laws, harmony,
independence; there even where the vulgar man only satisfies a
legitimate want. In a word, in the domain of truth and morality,
sensuousness must have nothing to determine; but in the sphere of
happiness, form may find a place, and the instinct of play prevail.

Thus then, in the indifferent sphere of physical life, man ought to
already commence his moral life; his own proper activity ought
already to make way in passivity, and his rational liberty beyond
the limits of sense; he ought already to impose the law of his will
upon his inclinations; he ought--if you will permit me the
expression--to carry into the domain of matter the war against
matter, in order to be dispensed from combatting this redoubtable
enemy upon the sacred field of liberty; he ought to learn to have
nobler desires, not to be forced to have sublime volitions. This is
the fruit of aesthetic culture, which submits to the laws of the
beautiful, in which neither the laws of nature nor those of reason
suffer, which does not force the will of man, and which by the form
it gives to exterior life already opens internal life.


Accordingly three different moments or stages of development can be
distinguished, which the individual man, as well as the whole race,
must of necessity traverse in a determinate order if they are to
fulfil the circle of their determination. No doubt, the separate
periods can be lengthened or shortened, through accidental causes
which are inherent either in the influence of external things or
under the free caprice of men; but neither of them can be
overstepped, and the order of their sequence cannot be inverted
either by nature or by the will. Man, in his PHYSICAL condition,
suffers only the power of nature; he gets rid of this power in the
aesthetical condition, and he rules them in the moral state.

What is man before beauty liberates him from free pleasure, and the
serenity of form tames down the savageness of life? Eternally
uniform in his aims, eternally changing in his judgments, self-
seeking without being himself, unfettered without being free, a
slave without serving any rule. At this period, the world is to him
only destiny, not yet an object; all has existence for him only in
as far as it procures existence to him; a thing that neither seeks
from nor gives to him is non-existent. Every phenomenon stands out
before him, separate and cut off, as he finds himself in the series
of beings. All that is, is to him through the bias of the moment;
every change is to him an entirely fresh creation, because with the
necessary IN HIM, the necessary OUT OF HIM is wanting, which binds
together all the changing forms in the universe, and which holds
fast the law on the theatre of his action, while the individual
departs. It is in vain that nature lets the rich variety of her
forms pass before him; he sees in her glorious fulness nothing but
his prey, in her power and greatness nothing but his enemy. Either
he encounters objects, and wishes to draw them to himself in desire,
or the objects press in a destructive manner upon him, and he
thrusts them away in dismay and terror. In both cases his relation
to the world of sense is immediate CONTACT; and perpetually anxious
through its pressure, restless and plagued by imperious wants, he
nowhere finds rest except in enervation, and nowhere limits save in
exhausted desire.

    "True, his is the powerful breast and the mighty hand of the
     A certain inheritance; yet the god welded
     Round his forehead a brazen band;
     Advice, moderation, wisdom, and patience,--
     Hid it from his shy, sinister look.
     Every desire is with him a rage,
     And his rage prowls around limitless."--"Iphigenia in Tauris"

Ignorant of his own human dignity, he is far removed from honouring
it in others, and conscious of his own savage greed, he fears it in
every creature that he sees like himself. He never sees others in
himself, only himself in others, and human society, instead of
enlarging him to the race, only shuts him up continually closer in
his individuality. Thus limited, he wanders through his sunless
life, till favouring nature rolls away the load of matter from his
darkened senses, reflection separates him from things, and objects
show themselves at length in the after-glow of the consciousness.

It is true we cannot point out this state of rude nature as we have
here portrayed it in any definite people and age. It is only an
idea, but an idea with which experience agrees most closely in
special features. It may be said that man was never in this animal
condition, but he has not, on the other hand, ever entirely escaped
from it. Even in the rudest subjects, unmistakable traces of
rational freedom can be found, and even in the most cultivated,
features are not wanting that remind us of that dismal natural
condition. It is possible for man, at one and the same time, to
unite the highest and the lowest in his nature; and if his DIGNITY
depends on a strict separation of one from the other, his HAPPINESS
depends on a skilful removal of this separation. The culture which
is to bring his dignity into agreement with his happiness will
therefore have to provide for the greatest purity of these two
principles in their most intimate combination.

Consequently the first appearance of reason in man is not the
beginning of humanity. This is first decided by his freedom, and
reason begins first by making his sensuous dependence boundless; a
phenomenon that does not appear to me to have been sufficiently
elucidated, considering its importance and universality. We know
that the reason makes itself known to man by the demand for the
absolute--the self-dependent and necessary. But as this want of the
reason cannot be satisfied in any separate or single state of his
physical life, he is obliged to leave the physical entirely and to
rise from a limited reality to ideas. But although the true meaning
of that demand of the reason is to withdraw him from the limits of
time and to lead him up from the world of sense to an ideal world,
yet this same demand of reason, by a misapplication--scarcely to be
avoided in this age, prone to sensuousness--can direct him to
physical life, and, instead of making man free, plunge him in the
most terrible slavery.

Facts verify this supposition. Man raised on the wings of
imagination leaves the narrow limits of the present, in which mere
animality is enclosed, in order to strive on to an unlimited future.
But while the limitless is unfolded to his dazed IMAGINATION, his
heart has not ceased to live in the separate, and to serve the
moment. The impulse towards the absolute seizes him suddenly in the
midst of his animality, and as in this cloddish condition all his
efforts aim only at the material and temporal, and are limited by
his individuality, he is only led by that demand of the reason to
extend his individuality into the infinite, instead of to abstract
from it. He will be led to seek instead of form an inexhaustible
matter, instead of the unchangeable an everlasting change and an
absolute securing of his temporal existence. The same impulse which,
directed to his thought and action, ought to lead to truth and
morality, now directed to his passion and emotional state, produces
nothing but an unlimited desire and an absolute want. The first
fruits, therefore, that he reaps in the world of spirits, are cares
and fear--both operations of the reason; not of sensuousness, but of
a reason that mistakes its object and applies its categorical
imperative to matter. All unconditional systems of happiness are
fruits of this tree, whether they have for their object the present
day or the whole of life, or what does not make them any more
respectable, the whole of eternity, for their object. An unlimited
duration of existence and of well-being is only an ideal of the
desires; hence a demand which can only be put forth by an animality
striving up to the absolute. Man, therefore, without gaining
anything for his humanity by a rational expression of this sort,
loses the happy limitation of the animal over which he now only
possesses the unenviable superiority of losing the present for an
endeavour after what is remote, yet without seeking in the limitless
future anything but the present.

But even if the reason does not go astray in its object, or err in
the question, sensuousness will continue to falsify the answer for a
long time. As soon as man has begun to use his understanding and to
knit together phenomena in cause and effect, the reason, according
to its conception, presses on to an absolute knitting together and
to an unconditional basis. In order merely to be able to put forward
this demand man must already have stepped beyond the sensuous, but
the sensuous uses this very demand to bring back the fugitive.

In fact it is now that he ought to abandon entirely the world of
sense in order to take his flight into the realm of ideas; for the
intelligence temains eternally shut up in the finite and in the
contingent, and does not cease putting questions without reaching
the last link of the chain. But as the man with whom we are engaged
is not yet capable of such an abstraction, and does not find it in
the sphere of sensuous knowledge, and because he does not look for
it in pure reason, he will seek for it below in the region of
sentiment, and will appear to find it. No doubt the sensuous shows
him nothing that has its foundation in itself, and that legislates
for itself, but it shows him something that does not care for
foundation or law; therefore thus not being able to quiet the
intelligence by showing it a final cause, he reduces it to silence
by the conception which desires no cause; and being incapable of
understanding the sublime necessity of reason, he keeps to the blind
constraint of matter. As sensuousness knows no other end than its
interest, and is determined by nothing except blind chance, it makes
the former the motive of its actions, and the latter the master of
the world.

Even the divine part in man, the moral law, in its first
manifestation in the sensuous cannot avoid this perversion, As this
moral law is only prohibited and combats in man the interest of
sensuous egotism, it must appear to him as something strange until
he has come to consider this self-love as the stranger, and the
voice of reason as his true self. Therefore he confines himself to
feeling the fetters which the latter imposes on him, without having
the consciousness of the infinite emancipation which it procures for
him. Without suspecting in himself the dignity of lawgiver, he only
experiences the constraint and the impotent revolt of a subject
fretting under the yoke, because in this experience the sensuous
impulsion precedes the moral impulsion, he gives to the law of
necessity a beginning in him, a positive origin, and by the most
unfortunate of all mistakes he converts the immutable and the
eternal in himself into a transitory accident He makes up his mind
to consider the notions of the just and the unjust as statutes which
have been introduced by a will, and not as having in themselves an
eternal value. Just as in the explanation of certain natural
phenomena he goes beyond nature and seeks out of her what can only
be found in her, in her own laws; so also in the explanation of
moral phenomena he goes beyond reason and makes light of his
humanity, seeking a god in this way. It is not wonderful that a
religion which he has purchased at the cost of his humanity shows
itself worthy of this origin, and that he only considers as absolute
and eternally binding laws that have never been binding from all
eternity. He has placed himself in relation with, not a holy being,
but a powerful. Therefore the spirit of his religion, of the homage
that he gives to God, is a fear that abases him, and not a
veneration that elevates him in his own esteem.

Though these different aberrations by which man departs from the
ideal of his destination cannot all take place at the same time,
because several degrees have to be passed over in the transition
from the obscure of thought to error, and from the obscure of will
to the corruption of the will; these degrees are all, without
exception, the consequence of his physical state, because in all the
vital impulsion sways the formal impulsion. Now, two cases may
happen: either reason may not yet have spoken in man, and the
physical may reign over him with a blind necessity, or reason may
not be sufficiently purified from sensuous impressions, and the
moral may still be subject to the physical; in both cases the only
principle that has a real power over him is a material principle,
and man, at least as regards his ultimate tendency, is a sensuous
being. The only difference is, that in the former case he is an
animal without reason, and in the second case a rational animal. But
he ought to be neither one nor the other: he ought to be a man.
Nature ought not to rule him exclusively; nor reason conditionally.
The two legislations ought to be completely independent and yet
mutually complementary.


Whilst man, in his first physical condition, is only passively
affected by the world of sense, he is still entirely identified with
it; and for this reason the external world, as yet, has no objective
existence for him. When he begins in his aesthetic state of mind to
regard the world objectively, then only is his personality severed
from it, and the world appears to him an objective reality, for the
simple reason that he has ceased to form an identical portion of it.

That which first connects man with the surrounding universe is the
power of reflective contemplation. Whereas desire seizes at once its
object, reflection removes it to a distance and renders it
inalienably her own by saving it from the greed of passion. The
necessity of sense which he obeyed during the period of mere
sensations, lessens during the period of reflection; the senses are
for the time in abeyance; even ever-fleeting time stands still
whilst the scattered rays of consciousness are gathering and shape
themselves; an image of the infinite is reflected upon the
perishable ground. As soon as light dawns in man, there is no longer
night outside of him; as soon as there is peace within him the storm
lulls throughout the universe, and the contending forces of nature
find rest within prescribed limits. Hence we cannot wonder if
ancient traditions allude to these great changes in the inner man as
to a revolution in surrounding nature, and symbolise thought
triumphing over the laws of time, by the figure of Zeus, which
terminates the reign of Saturn.

As long as man derives sensations from a contact with nature, he is
her slave; but as soon as he begins to reflect upon her objects and
laws he becomes her lawgiver. Nature, which previously ruled him as
a power, now expands before him as an object. What is objective to
him can have no power over him, for in order to become objective it
has to experience his own power. As far and as long as he impresses
a form upon matter, he cannot be injured by its effect; for a spirit
can only be injured by that which deprives it of its freedom.
Whereas he proves his own freedom by giving a form to the formless;
where the mass rules heavily and without shape, and its undefined
outlines are for ever fluctuating between uncertain boundaries, fear
takes up its abode; but man rises above any natural terror as soon
as he knows how to mould it, and transform it into an object of his
art. As soon as he upholds his independence toward phaenomenal
nature, he maintains his dignity toward her as a thing of power and
with a noble freedom he rises against his gods. They throw aside the
mask with which they had kept him in awe during his infancy, and to
his surprise his mind perceives the reflection of his own image. The
divine monster of the Oriental, which roams about changing the world
with the blind force of a beast of prey, dwindles to the charming
outline of humanity in Greek fable; the empire of the Titans is
crushed, and boundless force is tamed by infinite form.

But whilst I have been merely searching for an issue from the
material world and a passage into the world of mind, the bold flight
of my imagination has already taken me into the very midst of the
latter world. The beauty of which we are in search we have left
behind by passing from the life of mere sensations to the pure form
and to the pure object. Such a leap exceeds the condition of human
nature; in order to keep pace with the latter we must return to the
world of sense. Beauty is indeed the sphere of unfettered
contemplation and reflection; beauty conducts us into the world of
ideas, without however taking us from the world of sense, as occurs
when a truth is perceived and acknowledged. This is the pure product
of a process of abstraction from everything material and accidental,
a pure object free from every subjective barrier, a pure state of
self-activity without any admixture of passive sensations. There is
indeed a way back to sensation from the highest abstraction; for
thought teaches the inner sensation, and the idea of logical and
moral unity passes into a sensation of sensual accord. But if we
delight in knowledge we separate very accurately our own conceptions
from our sensations; we look upon the latter as something
accidental, which might have been omitted without the knowledge
being impaired thereby, without truth being less true. It would,
however, be a vain attempt to suppress this connection of the
faculty of feeling with the idea of beauty, consequently, we shall
not succeed in representing to ourselves one as the effect of the
other, but we must look upon them both together and reciprocally as
cause and effect. In the pleasure which we derive from knowledge we
readily distinguish the passage from the active to the passive
state, and we clearly perceive that the first ends when the second
begins. On the contrary, from the pleasure which we take in beauty,
this transition from the active to the passive is not perceivable,
and reflection is so intimately blended with feeling that we believe
we feel the form immediately. Beauty is then an object to us, it is
true, because reflection is the condition of the feeling which we
have of it; but it is also a state of our personality (our Ego),
because the feeling is the condition of the idea we conceive of it:
beauty is therefore doubtless form, because we contemplate it, but
it is equally life because we feel it. In a word, it is at once our
state and our act. And precisely because it is at the same time both
a state and an act, it triumphantly proves to us that the passive
does not exclude the active, neither matter nor form, neither the
finite nor the infinite; and that consequently the physical
dependence to which man is necessarily devoted does not in any way
destroy his moral liberty. This is the proof of beauty, and I ought
to add that this ALONE can prove it. In fact, as in the possession
of truth or of logical unity, feeling is not necessarily one with
the thought, but follows it accidentally; it is a fact which only
proves that a sensitive nature can succeed a rational nature, and
vice versa; not that they co-exist, that they exercise a reciprocal
action one over the other, and lastly that they ought to be united
in an absolute and necessary manner. From this exclusion of feeling
as long as there is thought, and of thought so long as there is
feeling, we should on the contrary conclude that the two natures are
incompatible, so that in order to demonstrate that pure reason is to
be realised in humanity, the best proof given by the analysis is
that this realisation is demanded. But, as in the realisation of
beauty or of aesthetic unity, there is a real union, mutual
substitution of matter and of form, of passive and of active, by
this alone is proved the compatibility of the two natures, the
possible realisation of the infinite in the finite, and consequently
also the possibility of the most sublime humanity.

Henceforth we need no longer be embarrassed to find a transition
from dependent feeling to moral liberty, because beauty reveals to
us the fact that they can perfectly co-exist, and that to show
himself a spirit, man need not escape from matter. But if on one
side he is free, even in his relation with a visible world, as the
fact of beauty teaches, and if on the other side freedom is
something absolute and super-sensuous, as its idea necessarily
implies, the question is no longer how man succeeds in raising
himself from the finite to the absolute, and opposing himself in his
thought and will to sensuality, as this has already been produced in
the fact of beauty. In a word, we have no longer to ask how he
passes from virtue to truth, which is already included in the
former, but how he opens a way for himself from vulgar reality to
aesthetic reality, and from the ordinary feelings of life to the
perception of the beautiful.


I have shown in the previous letters that it is only the aesthetic
disposition of the soul that gives birth to liberty, it cannot
therefore be derived from liberty nor have a moral origin. It must
be a gift of nature; the favour of chance alone can break the bonds
of the physical state and bring the savage to duty. The germ of the
beautiful will find an equal difficulty in developing itself in
countries where a severe nature forbids man to enjoy himself, and in
those where a prodigal nature dispenses him from all effort; where
the blunted senses experience no want, and where violent desire can
never be satisfied. The delightful flower of the beautiful will
never unfold itself in the case of the Troglodyte hid in his cavern
always alone, and never finding humanity outside himself; nor among
nomads, who, travelling in great troops, only consist of a
multitude, and have no individual humanity. It will only flourish in
places where man converses peacefully with himself in his cottage,
and with the whole race when he issues from it. In those climates
where a limpid ether opens the senses to the lightest impression,
whilst a life-giving warmth developes a luxuriant nature, where even
in the inanimate creation the sway of inert matter is overthrown,
and the victorious form ennobles even the most abject natures; in
this joyful state and fortunate zone, where activity alone leads to
enjoyment, and enjoyment to activity, from life itself issues a holy
harmony, and the laws of order develope life, a different result
takes place. When imagination incessantly escapes from reality, and
does not abandon the simplicity of nature in its wanderings: then
and there only the mind and the senses, the receptive force and the
plastic force, are developed in that happy equilibrium which is the
soul of the beautiful and the condition of humanity.

What phaenomenon accompanies the initiation of the savage into
humanity? However far we look back into history the phaenomenon is
identical among all people who have shaken off the slavery of the
animal state, the love of appearance, the inclination for dress and
for games.

Extreme stupidity and extreme intelligence have a certain affinity
in only seeking the real and being completely insensible to mere
appearance. The former is only drawn forth by the immediate presence
of an object in the senses, and the second is reduced to a quiescent
state only by referring conceptions to the facts of experience. In
short, stupidity cannot rise above reality, nor the intelligence
descend below truth. Thus, in as far as the want of reality and
attachment to the real are only the consequence of a want and a
defect, indifference to the real and an interest taken in
appearances are a real enlargement of humanity and a decisive step
towards culture. In the first place it is the proof of an exterior
liberty, for as long as necessity commands and want solicits, the
fancy is strictly chained down to the real; it is only when want is
satisfied that it developes without hindrance. But it is also the
proof of an internal liberty, because it reveals to us a force
which, independent of an external substratum, sets itself in motion,
and has sufficient energy to remove from itself the solicitations of
nature. The reality of things is effected by things, the appearance
of things is the work of man, and a soul that takes pleasure in
appearance does not take pleasure in what it receives but in what it

It is self-evident that I am speaking of aesthetical evidence
different from reality and truth, and not of logical appearance
identical with them. Therefore if it is liked it is because it is an
appearance, and not because it is held to be something better than
it is: the first principle alone is a play whilst the second is a
deception. To give a value to the appearance of the first kind can
never injure truth, because it is never to be feared that it will
supplant it--the only way in which truth can be injured. To despise
this appearance is to despise in general all the fine arts of which
it is the essence. Nevertheless, it happens sometimes that the
understanding carries its zeal for reality as far as this
intolerance, and strikes with a sentence of ostracism all the arts
relating to beauty in appearance, because it is only an appearance.
However, the intelligence only shows this vigorous spirit when it
calls to mind the affinity pointed out further back. I shall find
some day the occasion to treat specially of the limits of beauty in
its appearance.

It is nature herself which raises man from reality to appearance by
endowing him with two senses which only lead him to the knowledge of
the real through appearance. In the eye and the ear the organs of
the senses are already freed from the persecutions of nature, and
the object with which we are immediately in contact through the
animal senses is remoter from us. What we see by the eye differs
from what we feel; for the understanding to reach objects overleaps
the light which separates us from them. In truth, we are passive to
an object; in sight and hearing the object is a form we create.
While still a savage, man only enjoys through touch merely aided by
sight and sound. He either does not rise to perception through
sight, or does not rest there. As soon as he begins to enjoy through
sight, vision has an independent value, he is aesthetically free,
and the instinct of play is developed.

The instinct of play likes appearance, and directly it is awakened
it is followed by the formal imitative instinct which treats
appearance as an independent thing. Directly man has come to
distinguish the appearance from the reality, the form from the body,
he can separate, in fact he has already done so. Thus the faculty of
the art of imitation is given with the faculty of form in general.
The inclination that draws us to it reposes on another tendency I
have not to notice here. The exact period when the aesthetic
instinct, or that of art, developes, depends entirely on the
attraction that mere appearance has for men.

As every real existence proceeds from nature as a foreign power,
whilst every appearance comes in the first place from man as a
percipient subject, he only uses his absolute sight in separating
semblance from essence, and arranging according to subjective law.
With an unbridled liberty he can unite what nature has severed,
provided he can imagine his union, and he can separate what nature
has united, provided this separation can take place in his
intelligence. Here nothing can be sacred to him but his own law: the
only condition imposed upon him is to respect the border which
separates his own sphere from the existence of things or from the
realm of nature.

This human right of ruling is exercised by man in the art of
appearance; and his success in extending the empire of the
beautiful, and guarding the frontiers of truth, will be in
proportion with the strictness with which he separates form from
substance: for if he frees appearance from reality he must also do
the converse.

But man possesses sovereign power only in the world of appearance,
in the unstibstantial realm of imagination, only by abstaining from
giving being to appearance in theory, and by giving it being in
practice. It follows that the poet transgresses his proper limits
when he attributes being to his ideal, and when he gives this ideal
aim as a determined existence. For he can only reach this result by
exceeding his right as a poet, that of encroaching by the ideal on
the field of experience, and by pretending to determine real
existence in virtue of a simple possibility, or else he renounces
his right as poet by letting experience encroach on the sphere of
the ideal, and by restricting possibility to the conditions of

It is only by being frank or disclaiming all reality, and by being
independent or doing without reality, that the appearance is
aesthetical. Directly it apes reality or needs reality for effect it
is nothing more than a vile instrument for material ends, and can
prove nothing for the freedom of the mind. Moreover, the object in
which we find beauty need not be unreal if pur judgment disregards
this reality; nor if it regards this the judgment is no longer
aesthetical. A beautiful woman if living would no doubt please us as
much and rather more than an equally beautiful woman seen in
painting; but what makes the former please men is not her being an
independent appearance; she no longer pleases the pure aesthetic
feeling. In the painting, life must only attract as an appearance,
and reality as an idea. But it is certain that to feel in a living
object only the pure appearance, requires a greatly higher aesthetic
culture than to do without life in the appearance.

When the frank and independent appearance is found in man
separately, or in a whole people, it may be inferred they have mind,
taste, and all prerogatives connected with them. In this case, the
ideal will be seen to govern real life, honour triumphing over
fortune, thought over enjoyment, the dream of immortality over a
transitory existence.

In this case public opinion will no longer be feared and an olive
crown will be more valued than a purple mantle. Impotence and
perversity alone have recourse to false and paltry semblance, and
individuals as well as nations who lend to reality the support of
appearance, or to the aesthetical appearance the support of reality,
show their moral unworthiness and their aesthetical impotence.
Therefore, a short and conclusive answer can be given to this
question--How far will appearance be permitted in the moral world?
It will run thus in proportion as this appearance will be
sesthetical, that is, an appearance that does not try to make up for
reality, nor requires to be made up for by it. The aesthetical
appearance can never endanger the truth of morals: wherever it seems
to do so the appearance is not aesthetical. Only a stranger to the
fashionable world can take the polite assurances, which are only a
form, for proofs of affection, and say he has been deceived; but
only a clumsy fellow in good society calls in the aid of duplicity
and flatters to become amiable. The former lacks the pure sense for
independent appearance; therefore he can only give a value to
appearance by truth. The second lacks reality, and wishes to replace
it by appearance. Nothing is more common than to hear depreciators
of the times utter these paltry complaints--that all solidity has
disappeared from the world, and that essence is neglected for
semblance. Though I feel by no means called upon to defend this age
against these reproaches, I must say that the wide application of
these criticisms shows that they attach blame to the age, not only
on the score of the falsez but also of the frank appearance. And
even the exceptions they admit in favour of the beautiful have for
their object less the independent appearance than the needy
appearance. Not only do they attack the artificial colouring that
hides truth and replaces reality, but also the beneficent appearance
that fills a vacuum and clothes poverty; and they even attack the
ideal appearance that ennobles a vulgar reality. Their strict sense
of truth is rightlyl offended by the falsity of manners;
unfortunately, they class politeness in this category. It displeases
them that the noisy and showy so often eclipse true merit, but they
are no less shocked that appearance is also demanded from merit, and
that a real substance does not dispense with an agreeable form. They
regret the cordiality, the energy, and solidity of ancient times;
they would restore with them ancient coarseness, heaviness, and the
old Gothic profusion. By judgments of this kind they show an esteem
for the matter itself unworthy of humanity, which ought only to
value tne matter inasmuch as it can receive a form and enlarge the
empire of ideas. Accordingly, the taste of the age need not much
fear these criticisms, if it can clear itself before better judges.
Our defect is not to grant a value to aesthetic appearance (we do
not do this enough): a severe judge of the beautiful might rather
reproach us with not having arrived at pure appearance, with not
having separated clearly enough existence from the phaenomenon, and
thus established their limits. We shall deserve this reproach so
long as we cannot enjoy the beautiful in living nature without
desiring it; as long as we cannot admire the beautiful in the
imitative arts without having an end in view; as long as we do not
grant to imagination an absolute legislation of its own; and as long
as we do not inspire it with care for its dignity by the esteem we
testify for its works.


Do not fear for reality and truth. Even if the elevated idea of
aesthetic appearance became general, it would not become so, as long
as man remains so little cultivated as to abuse it; and if it became
general, this would result from a culture that would prevent all
abuse of it. The pursuit of independent appearance requires more
power of abstraction, freedom of heart, and energy of will than man
requires to shut himself up in reality; and he must have left the
latter behind him if he wishes to attain to aesthetic appearance.
Therefore a man would calculate very badly who took the road of the
ideal to save himself that of reality. Thus reality would not have
much to fear from appearance, as we understand it; but, on the other
hand, appearance would have more to fear from reality. Chained to
matter, man uses appearance for his purposes before he allows it a
proper personality in the art of the ideal: to come to that point a
complete revolution must take place in his mode of feeling,
otherwise he would not be even on the way to the ideal.
Consequently, when we find in man the signs of a pure and
disinterested esteem, we can infer that this revolution has taken
place in his nature, and that humanity has really begun in him.
Signs of this kind are found even in the first and rude attempts
that he makes to embellish his existence, even at the risk of making
it worse in its material conditions. As soon as he begins to prefer
form to substance and to risk reality for appearance (known by him
to be such), the barriers of animal life fall, and he finds himself
on a track that has no end.

Not satisfied with the needs of nature, he demands the superfluous.
First, only the superfluous of matter, to secure his enjoyment
beyond the present necessity; but afterwards he wishes a
superabundance in matter, an aesthetical supplement to satisfy the
impulse for the formal, to extend enjoyment beyond necessity. By
piling up provisions simply for a future use, and anticipating their
enjoyment in the imagination, he outsteps the limits of the present
moment, but not those of time in general. He enjoys more; he does
not enjoy differently. But as soon as he makes form enter into his
enjoyment, and he keeps in view the forms of the objects which
satisfy his desires, he has not only increased his pleasure in
extent and intensity, but he has also ennobled it in mode and

No doubt nature has given more than is necessary to unreasoning
beings; she has caused a gleam of freedom to shine even in the
darkness of animal life. When the lion is not tormented by hunger,
and when no wild beast challenges him to fight, his unemployed
energy creates an object for himself; full of ardour, he fills the
re-echoing desert with his terrible roars, and his exuberant force
rejoices in itself, showing itself without an object. The insect
flits about rejoicing in life in the sunlight, and it is certainly
not the cry of want that makes itself heard in the melodious song of
the bird; there is undeniably freedom in these movements, though it
is not emancipation from want in general, but from a determinate
external necessity.

The animal works, when a privation is the motor of its activity, and
it plays when the plenitude of force is this motor, when an
exuberant life is excited to action. Even in inanimate nature a
luxury of strength and a latitude of determination are shown, which
in this material sense might be styled play. The tree produces
numberless germs that are abortive without developing, and it sends
forth more roots, branches and leaves, organs of nutrition, than are
used for the preservation of the species. Whatever this tree
restores to the elements of its exuberant life, without using it, or
enjoying it, may be expended by life in free and joyful movements.
It is thus that nature offers in her material sphere a sort of
prelude to the limitless, and that even there she suppresses
partially the chains from which she will be completely emancipated
in the realm of form. The constraint of superabundance or physical
play, answers as a transition from the constraint of necessity, or
of physical seriousness, to aesthetical play; and before shaking
off, in the supreme freedom of the beautiful, the yoke of any
special aim, nature already approaches, at least remotely, this
independence, by the free movement which is itself its own end and

The imagination, like the bodily organs, has in man its free
movement and its material play, a play in which, without any
reference to form, it simply takes pleasure in its arbitrary power
and in the absence of all hindrance. These plays of fancy, inasmuch
as form is not mixed up with them, and because a free succession of
images makes all their charm, though confined to man, belong
exclusively to animal life, and only prove one thing--that he is
delivered from all external sensuous constraint--without our being
entitled to infer that there is in it an independent plastic force.

From this play of free association of ideas, which is still quite
material in nature and is explained by simple natural laws, the
imagination, by making the attempt of creating a free form, passes
at length at a jump to the aesthetic play: I say at one leap, for
quite a new force enters into action here; for here, for the first
time, the legislative mind is mixed with the acts of a blind
instinct, subjects the arbitrary march of the imagination to its
eternal and immutable unity, causes its independent permanence to
enter in that which is transitory, and its infinity in the sensuous.
Nevertheless, as long as rude nature, which knows of no other law
than running incessantly from change to change, will yet retain too
much strength, it will oppose itself by its different caprices to
this necessity; by its agitation to this permanence; by its manifold
needs to this independence, and by its insatiability to this sublime
simplicity. It will be also troublesome to recognise the instinct of
play in its first trials, seeing that the sensuous impulsion, with
its capricious humour and its violent appetites, constantly crosses.
It is on that account that we see the taste, still coarse, seize
that which is new and startling, the disordered, the adventurous and
the strange, the violent and the savage, and fly from nothing so
much as from calm and simplicity. It invents grotesque figures, it
likes rapid transitions, luxurious forms, sharply marked changes,
acute tones, a pathetic song. That which man calls beautiful at this
time, is that which excites him, that which gives him matter; but
that which excites him to give his personality to the object, that
which gives matter to a possible plastic operation, for otherwise it
would not be the beautiful for him. A remarkable change has
therefore taken place in the form of his judgments; he searches for
these objects, not because they affect him, but because they furnish
him with the occasion of acting; they please him, not because they
answer to a want, but because they satisfy a law, which speaks in
his breast, although quite low as yet.

Soon it will not be sufficient for things to please him; he will
wish to please: in the first place, it is true, only by that which
belongs to him; afterwards by that which he is. That which he
possesses, that which he produces, ought not merely to bear any more
the traces of servitude, nor to mark out the end, simply and
scrupulously, by the form. Independently of the use to which it is
destined, the object ought also to reflect the enlightened
intelligence which imagines it, the hand which shaped it with
affection, the mind free and serene which chose it and exposed it to
view. Now, the ancient German searches for more magnificent furs,
for more splendid antlers of the stag, for more elegant drinking
horns; and the Caledonian chooses the prettiest shells for his
festivals. The arms themselves ought to be no longer only objects of
terror, but also of pleasure; and the skilfully worked scabbard will
not attract less attention than the homicidal edge of the sword. The
instinct of play, not satisfied with bringing into the sphere of the
necessary an aesthetic superabundance for the future more free, is
at last completely emancipated from the bonds of duty, and the
beautiful becomes of itself an object of man's exertions. He adorns
himself. The free pleasure comes to take a place among his wants,
and the useless soon becomes the best part of his joys. Form, which
from the outside gradually approaches him, in his dwelling, his
furniture, his clothing, begins at last to take possession of the
man himself, to transform him, at first exteriorly, and afterwards
in the interior. The disordered leaps of joy become the dance, the
formless gesture is changed into an amiable and harmonious
pantomime, the confused accents of feeling are developed, and begin
to obey measure and adapt themselves to song. When, like the flight
of cranes, the Trojan army rushes on to the field of battle with
thrilling cries, the Greek army approaches in silence and with a
noble and measured step. On the one side we see but the exuberance
of a blind force, on the other; the triumph of form and the simple
majesty of law.

Now, a nobler necessity binds the two sexes mutually, and the
interests of the heart contribute in rendering durable an alliance
which was at first capricious and changing like the desire that
knits it. Delivered from the heavy fetters of desire, the eye, now
calmer, attends to the form, the soul contemplates the soul, and the
interested exchange of pleasure becomes a generous exchange of
mutual inclination. Desire enlarges and rises to love, in proportion
as it sees humanity dawn in its object; and, despising the vile
triumphs gained by the senses, man tries to win a nobler victory
over the will. The necessity of pleasing subjects the powerful
nature to the gentle laws of taste; pleasure may be stolen, but love
must be a gift. To obtain this higher recompense, it is only through
the form and not through matter that it can carry on the contest. It
must cease to act on feeling as a force, to appear in the
intelligence as a simple phenomenon; it must respect liberty, as it
is liberty it wishes to please. The beautiful reconciles the
contrast of different natures in its simplest and purest expression.
It also reconciles the eternal contrast of the two sexes, in the
whole complex framework of society, or at all events it seeks to do
so; and, taking as its model the free alliance it has knit between
manly strength and womanly gentleness, it strives to place in
harmony, in the moral world, all the elements of gentleness and of
violence. Now, at length, weakness becomes sacred, and an unbridled
strength disgraces; the injustice of nature is corrected by the
generosity of chivalrous manners. The being whom no power can make
tremble, is disarmed by the amiable blush of modesty, and tears
extinguish a vengeance that blood could not have quenched. Hatred
itself hears the delicate voice of honour, the conqueror's sword
spares the disarmed enemy, and a hospitable hearth smokes for the
stranger on the dreaded hill-side where murder alone awaited him

In the midst of the formidable realm of forces, and of the sacred
empire of laws, the aesthetic impulse of form creates by degrees a
third and a joyous realm, that of play and of the appearance, where
she emancipates man from fetters, in all his relations, and from all
that is named constraint, whether physical or moral.

If in the dynamic state of rights men mutually move and come into
collision as forces, in the moral (ethical) state of duties, man
opposes to man the majesty of the laws, and chains down his will. In
this realm of the beautiful or the aesthetic state, man ought to
appear to man only as a form, and an object of free play. To give
freedom through freedom is the fundamental law of this realm.

The dynamic state can only make society simply possible by subduing
nature through nature; the moral (ethical) state can only make it
morally necessary by submitting the will of the individual to the
general will. The aesthetic state alone can make it real, because it
carries out the will of all through the nature of the individual. If
necessity alone forces man to enter into society, and if his reason
engraves on his soul social principles, it is beauty only that can
give him a social character; taste alone brings harmony into
society, because it creates harmony in the individual. All other
forms of perception divide the man, because they are based
exclusively either in the sensuous or in the spiritual part of his
being. It is only the perception of beauty that makes of him an
entirety, because it demands the co-operation of his two natures.
All other forms of communication divide society, because they apply
exclusively either to the receptivity or to the private activity of
its members, and therefore to what distinguishes men one from the
other. The aesthetic communication alone unites society, because it
applies to what is common to all its members. We only enjoy the
pleasures of sense as individuals, without the nature of the race in
us sharing in it; accordingly, we cannot generalise our individual
pleasures, because we cannot generalise our individuality. We enjoy
the pleasures of knowledge as a race, dropping the Individual in our
judgment; but we cannot generalise the pleasures of the
understanding, because we cannot eliminate individuality from the
judgments of others as we do from our own. Beauty alone can we enjoy
both as individuals and as a race, that is, as representing a race.
Good appertaining to sense can only make one person happy, because
it is founded on inclination, which is always exclusive; and it can
only make a man partially happy, because his real personality does
not share in it. Absolute good can only render a man happy
conditionally, for truth is only the reward of abnegation, and a
pure heart alone has faith in a pure will. Beauty alone confers
happiness on all, and under its influence every being forgets that
he is limited.

Taste does not suffer any superior or absolute authority, and the
sway of beauty is extended over appearance. It extends up to the
seat of reason's supremacy, suppressing all that is material. It
extends down to where sensuous impulse rules with blind compulsion,
and form is undeveloped. Taste ever maintains its power on these
remote borders, where legislation is taken from it. Particular
desires must renounce their egotism, and the agreeable, otherwise
tempting the senses, must in matters of taste adorn the mind with
the attractions of grace.

Duty and stern necessity must change their forbidding tone, only
excused by resistance, and do homage to nature by a nobler trust in
her. Taste leads our knowledge from the mysteries of science into
the open expanse of common sense, and changes a narrow scholasticism
into the common property of the human race. Here the highest genius
must leave its particular elevation, and make itself familiar to the
comprehension even of a child. Strength must let the Graces bind it,
and the arbitrary lion must yield to the reins of love. For this
purpose taste throws a veil over physical necessity, offending a
free mind by its coarse nudity, and dissimulating our degrading
parentage with matter by a delightful illusion of freedom. Mercenary
art itself rises from the dust; and the bondage of the bodily, at
its magic touch, falls off from the inanimate and animate. In the
aesthetic state the most slavish tool is a free citizen, having the
same rights as the noblest; and the intellect which shapes the mass
to its intent must consult it concerning its destination.
Consequently in the realm of aesthetic appearance, the idea of
equality is realised, which the political zealot would gladly see
carried out socially. It has often been said that perfect politeness
is only found near a throne. If thus restricted in the material, man
has, as elsewhere appears, to find compensation in the ideal world.

Does such a state of beauty in appearance exist, and where? It must
be in every finely harmonised soul; but as a fact, only in select
circles, like the pure ideal of the church and state--in circles
where manners are not formed by the empty imitations of the foreign,
but by the very beauty of nature; where man passes through all sorts
of complications in all simplicity and innocence, neither forced to
trench on another's freedom to preserve his own, nor to show grace
at the cost of dignity.







Immanuel Kant was born in Konigsberg, East Prussia, April 22, 1724,
the son of a saddler of Scottish descent. The family was pietist,
and the future philosopher entered the university of his native city
in 1740, with a view to studying theology. He developed, however, a
many-sided interest in learning, and his earlier publications were
in the field of speculative physics. After the close of his period
of study at the university he became a private tutor; then In 1755,
privat-docent; and in 1770, professor. During the first eleven years
of his professorship Kant published little, spending his energies in
the meditation that was to result in the philosophical system of
which the first part was given to the world in his "Critique of Pure
Reason" in 1781. From that time till near the end of the century he
issued volume after volume; yet when he died In 1804 he regarded his
statement of his system as fragmentary.

Of the enormous importance of Kant in the history of philosophy, no
idea can be given here. The important document which follows was
published in 1785, and forms the basis of the moral system on which
he erected the whole structure of belief in God, Freedom, and
Immortality. Kant is often difficult and obscure, and became more so
as he grew older; but the present treatise can be followed, in its
main lines, by any intelligent person who is interested enough in
the fundamental problems of human life and conduct to give it
serious and concentrated attention. To such a reader the subtle yet
clear distinctions, and the lofty and rigorous principles of action,
which it lays down, will prove an intellectual and moral tonic such
as hardly any other modern writer affords.


Ancient Greek philosophy was divided into three sciences: Physics,
Ethics, and Logic. This division is perfectly suitable to the nature
of the thing, and the only improvement that can be made in it is to
add the principle on which it is based, so that we may both satisfy
ourselves of its completeness, and also be able to determine
correctly the necessary subdivisions.

All rational knowledge is either material or formal: the former
considers some object, the latter is concerned only with the form of
the understanding and of the reason itself, and with the universal
laws of thought in general without distinction of its objects.
Formal philosophy is called Logic. Material philosophy, however,
which has to do with determinate objects and the laws to which they
are subject, is again two-fold; for these laws are either laws of
nature or of freedom. The science of the former is Physics, that of
the latter, Ethics; they are also called natural philosophy and
moral philosophy respectively.

Logic cannot have any empirical part; that is, a part in which the
universal and necessary laws of thought should rest on grounds taken
from experience; otherwise it would not be logic, i. e. a canon for
the understanding or the reason, valid for all thought, and capable
of demonstration. Natural and moral philosophy, on the contrary, can
each have their empirical part, since the former has to determine
the laws of nature as an object of experience; the latter the laws
of the human will, so far as it is affected by nature: the former,
however, being laws according to which everything does happen; the
latter, laws according to which everything ought to happen.
[Footnote: The word "law" is here used in two different senses, on
which see Whately's Logic, Appendix, Art. "Law."] Ethics, however,
must also consider the conditions under which what ought to happen
frequently does not.

We may call all philosophy empirical, so far as it is based on
grounds of experience: on the other hand, that which delivers its
doctrines from a priori principles alone we may call pure
philosophy. When the latter is merely formal it is logic; if it is
restricted to definite objects of the understanding it is

In this way there arises the idea of a two-fold metaphysic--a
metaphysic of nature and a metaphysic of morals. Physics will thus
have an empirical and also a rational part. It is the same with
Ethics; but here the empirical part might have the special name of
practical anthropology, the name morality being appropriated to the
rational part.

All trades, arts, and handiworks have gained by division of labour,
namely, when, instead of one man doing everything, each confines
himself to a certain kind of work distinct from others in the
treatment it requires, so as to be able to perform it With greater
facility and. in the greatest perfection. Where the different kinds
of work are not so distinguished and divided, where everyone is a
jack-of-all-trades, there manufactures remain still in the greatest
barbarism. It might deserve to be considered whether pure philosophy
in all its parts does not require a man specially devoted to it, and
whether it would not be better for the whole business of science if
those who, to please the tastes of the public, are wont to blend the
rational and empirical elements together, mixed in all sorts of
proportions unknown to themselves, and who call themselves
independent thinkers, giving the name of minute philosophers to
those who apply themselves to the rational part only--if these, I
say, were warned not to carry on two employments together which
differ widely in the treatment they demand, for each of which
perhaps a special talent is required, and the combination of which
in one person only produces bunglers. But I only ask here whether
the nature of science does not require that we should always
carefully separate the empirical from the rational part, and prefix
to Physics proper (or empirical physics) a metaphysic of nature, and
to practical anthropology a metaphysic of morals, which must be
carefully cleared of everything empirical, so that we may know how
much can be accomplished by pure reason in both cases, and from
whnat sources it draws this its a priori teaching, and that whether
the latter inquiry is conducted by all moralists (whose name is
legion), or only by some who feel a calling thereto.

As my concern here is with moral philosophy, I limit the question
suggested to this: Whether it is not of the utmost necessity to
construct a pure moral philosophy, perfectly cleared of everything
which is only empirical, and which belongs to anthropology? for that
such a philosophy must be possible is evident from the common idea
of duty and of the moral laws. Every one must admit that if a law is
to have moral force, i. e. to be the basis of an obligation, it must
carry with it absolute necessity; that, for example, the precept,
"Thou shalt not lie," is not valid for men alone, as if other
rational beings had no need to observe it; and so with all the other
moral laws properly so called; that, therefore, the basis of
obligation must not be sought in the nature of man, or in the
circumstanced in the world in which he is placed, but a priori
simply in the conceptions of pure reason; and although any other
precept which is founded on principles of mere experience may be in
certain respects universal, yet in as far as it rests even in the
least degree on an empirical basis, perhaps only as to a motive,
such a precept, while it may be a practical rule, can never be
called a moral law.

Thus not only are moral laws with their principles essentially
distinguished from every other kind of practical knowledge in which
there is anything empirical, but all moral philosophy rests wholly
on its pure part. When applied to man, it does not borrow the least
thing from the knowledge of man himself (anthropology), but gives
laws a priori to him as a rational being. No doubt these laws
require a judgment sharpened by experience, in order on the one hand
to distinguish in what cases they are applicable, and on the other
to procure for them access to the will of the man, and effectual
influence on conduct; since man is acted on by so many inclinations
that, though capable of the idea of a practical pure reason, he is
not so easily able to make it effective in concrete in his life.

A metaphysic of morals is therefore indispensably necessary, not
merely for speculative reasons, in order to investigate the sources
of the practical principles which are to be found a priori in our
reason, but also because morals themselves are liable to all sorts
of corruption, as long as we are without that clue and supreme canon
by which to estimate them correctly. For in order that an action
should be morally good, it is not enough that it conform to the
moral law, but it must also be done for the sake of the law,
otherwise that conformity is only very contingent and uncertain;
since a principle which is not moral, although it may now and then
produce actions conformable to the law, will also often produce
actions which contradict it. Now it is only in a pure philosophy
that we can look for the moral law in its purity and genuineness
(and, in a practical matter, this is of the utmost consequence): we
must, therefore, begin with pure philosophy (metaphysic), and
without it there cannot be any moral philosophy at all. That which
mingles these pure principles with the empirical does not deserve
the name of philosophy (for what distinguishes philosophy from
common rational knowledge is, that it treats in separate sciences
what the latter only comprehends confusedly); much less does it
deserve that of moral philosophy, since by this confusion it even
spoils the purity of morals themselves, and counteracts its own end.

Let it not be thought, however, that what is here demanded is
already extant in the propaedeutic prefixed by the celebrated Wolf
[Footnote: Johann Christian Von Wolf (1679-1728) was the author of
treatises on philosophy, mathematics, &c., which were for a long
time the standard text-books in the German Universities. His
philosophy was founded on that of Leibnitz.] to his moral
philosophy, namely, his so-called general practical philosophy, and
that, therefore, we have not to strike into an entirely new field.
Just because it was to be a general practical philosophy, it has not
taken into consideration a will of any particular kind-say one which
should be determined solely from a priori principles without any
empirical motives, and which we might call a pure will, but volition
in general, with all the actions and conditions which belong to it
in this general signification. By this it is distinguished from a
metaphysic of morals, just as general logic, which treats of the
acts and canons of thought in general, is distinguished from
transcendental philosophy, which treats of the particular acts and
canons of pure thought, i. e. that whose cognitions are altogether a
priori. For the metaphysic of morals has to examine the idea and the
principles of a possible pure will, and not the acts and conditions
of human volition generally, which for the most part are drawn from
psychology. It is true that moral laws and duty are spoken of in the
general practical philosophy (contrary indeed to all fitness). But
this is no objection, for in this respect, also the authors of that
science remain true to their idea of it; they do not distinguish the
motives which are prescribed as such by reason alone altogether a
priori, and which are properly moral, from the empirical motives
which the understanding raises to general conceptions merely by
comparison of experiences; but without noticing the difference of
their sources, and looking on them all as homogeneous, they consider
only their greater or less amount. It is in this way they frame
their notion of obligation, which though anything but moral, is all
that can be asked for in a philosophy which passes no judgment at
all on the origin of all possible practical concepts, whether they
are a priori, or only a posteriori.

Intending to publish hereafter a metaphysic of morals, I issue in
the first instance these fundamental principles. Indeed there is
properly no other foundation for it than the critical examination of
a pure practical reason; just as that of metaphysics is the critical
examination of the pure speculative reason, already published. But
in the first place the former is not so absolutely necessary as the
latter, because in moral concerns human reason can easily be brought
to a high degree of correctness and completeness, even in the
commonest understanding, while on the contrary in its theoretic but
pure use it is wholly dialectical; and in the second place if the
critique of a pure practical reason is to be complete, it must be
possible at the same time to show its identity with the speculative
reason in a common principle, for it can ultimately be only one and
the same reason which has to be distinguished merely in its
application. I could not, however, bring it to such completeness
here, without introducing considerations of a wholly different kind,
which would be perplexing to the reader. On this account I have
adopted the title of Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of
Morals, instead of that of a Critical Examination of the pure
practical Reason.

But in the third place, since a metaphysic of morals, in spite of
the; discouraging title, is yet capable of being presented in a
popular form, and one adapted to the common understanding, I find it
useful to separate from it this preliminary treatise on its
fundamental principles, in order that I may not hereafter have need
to introduce these necessarily subtle discussions into a book of a
more simple character.

The present treatise is, however, nothing more than the
investigation and establishment of the supreme principle of
morality, and this alone constitutes a study complete in itself, and
one which ought to be kept apart from every other moral
investigation. No doubt my conclusions on this weighty question,
which has hitherto been very unsatisfactorily examined, would
receive much light from the application of the same principle to the
whole system, and would be greatly confirmed by the adequacy which
it exhibits throughout; but I must forego this advantage, which
indeed would be after all more gratifying than useful, since the
easy applicability of a principle and its apparent adequacy give no
very certain proof of its soundness, but rather inspire a certain
partiality, which prevents us from examining and estimating it
strictly in itself, and without regard to consequences.

I have adopted in this work the method which I think most suitable,
proceeding analytically from common knowledge to the determination
of its ultimate principle, and again descending synthetically from
the examination of this principle and its sources to the common
knowledge in which we find it employed. The division will,
therefore, be as follows:--

1. First section.--Transition from the common rational knowledge of
morality to the philosophical.

2. Second section.--Transition from popular moral philosophy to the
metaphysic of morals.

3. Third section.--Final step from the metaphysic of morals to the
critique of the pure practical reason.




Nothing can possibly be conceived in the world, of even out of it,
which can be called good without qualification, except a Good Will
Intelligence, wit, judgment, and the other talents of the mind,
however they may be named, or courage, resolution, perseverance, as
qualities of temperament, are undoubtedly good and desirable in many
respects; but these gifts of nature may also become extremely bad
and mischievous if the will which is to make use of them, and which,
therefore, constitutes what is called character, is not good. It is
the same with the gifts of fortune. Power, riches, honour, even
health, and the general well-being and contentment with one's
condition which is called happiness, inspire pride, and often
presumption, if there is not a good will to correct the influence of
these on the mind, and with this also to rectify the whole principle
of acting, and adapt it to its end. The sight of a Deing who is not
adorned with a single feature of a pure and good will, enjoying
unbroken prosperity, can never give pleasure to an impartial
rational spectator. Thus a good will appears to constitute the
indispensable condition even of being worthy of happiness.

There are even some qualities which are of service to this good will
itself, and may facilitate its action, yet which have no intrinsic
unconditional value, but always presuppose a good will, and this
qualifies the esteem that we justly have for them, and does not
permit us to regard them as absolutely good. Moderation in the
affections and passions, self-control and calm deliberation are not
only good in many respects, but even seem to constitute part of the
intrinsic worth of the person; but they are far from deserving to be
called good without qualification, although they have been so
unconditionally praised by the ancients. For without the principles
of a good will, they may become extremely bad, and the coolness of a
villain not only makes him far more dangerous, but also directly
makes him more abominable in our eyes than he would have been
without it.

A good will is good not because of what it performs or effects, not
by its aptness for the attainment of some proposed end, but simply
by virtue of the volition, that is, it is good in itself, and
considered by itself is to be esteemed much higher than all that can
be brought about by it in favour of any inclination, nay, even of
the sum total of all inclinations. Even if it should happen that,
owing to special disfavour of fortune, or the niggardly provision of
a stepmotherly nature, this will should wholly lack power to
accomplish its purpose, if with its greatest efforts it should yet
achieve nothing, and there should remain only the good will (not, to
be sure, a mere wish, but the summoning of all means in our power),
then, like a jewel, it would still shine by its own light, as a
thing which has its whole value in itself. Its usefulness or
fruitfulness can neither add to nor take away anything from this
value. It would be, as it were, only the setting to enable us to
handle it the more conveniently in common commerce, or to attract to
it the attention of those who are not yet connoisseurs, but not to
recommend it to true connoisseurs, or to determine its value.

There is, however, something so strange in this idea of the absolute
value of the mere will, in which no account is taken of its utility,
that notwithstanding the thorough assent of even common reason to
the idea, yet a suspicion must arise that it may perhaps really be
the product of mere high-flown fancy, and that we may have
misunderstood the purpose of nature in assigning reason as the
governor of our will. Therefore we will examine this idea from this
point of view.

In the physical constitution of an organized being, that is, a being
adapted suitably to the purposes of life, we assume it as a
fundamental principle that no organ for any purpose will be found
but what is also the fittest and best adapted for that purpose. Now
in a being which has reason and a will, if the proper object of
nature were its conservation, its welfare, in a word, its happiness,
then nature would have hit upon a very bad arrangement in selecting
the reason of the creature to carry out this purpose. For all the
actions which the creature has to perform with a view to this
purpose, and the whole rule of its conduct, would be far more surely
prescribed to it by instinct, and that end would have been attained
thereby much more certainly than it ever can be by reason. Should
reason have been communicated to this favoured creature over and
above, it must only have served it to contemplate the happy
constitution of its nature, to admire it, to congratulate itself
thereon, and to feel thankful for it to the beneficent cause, but
not that it should subject its desires to that weak and delusive
guidance, and meddle bunglingly with the purpose of nature. In a
word, nature would have taken care that reason should not break
forth into practical exercise, nor have the presumption, with its
weak insight, to think out for itself the plan of happiness, and of
the means of attaining it. Nature would not only have taken on
herself the choice of the ends, but also of the means, and with wise
foresight would have entrusted both to instinct.

And, in fact, we find that the more a cultivated reason applies
itself with deliberate purpose to the enjoyment of life and
happiness, so much the more does the man fail of true satisfaction.
And from this circumstance there arises in many, if they are candid
enough to confess it, a certain degree of misology, that is, hatred
of reason, especially in the case of those who are most experienced
in the use of it, because after calculating all the advantages they
derive, I do not say from the invention of all the arts of common
luxury, but even from the sciences (which seem to them to be after
all only a luxury of the understanding), they find that they have,
in fact, only brought more trouble on their shoulders, rather than
gained in happiness; and they end by envying, rather than despising,
the more common stamp of men who keep closer to the guidance of mere
instinct, and do not allow their reason much influence on their
conduct. And this we must admit, that the judgment of those who
would very much lower the lofty eulogies of the advantages which
reason gives us in regard to the happiness and satisfaction of life,
or who would even reduce them below zero, is by no means morose or
ungrateful to the goodness with which the world is governed, but
that there lies at the root of these judgments the idea that our
existence has a different and far nobler end, for which, and not for
happiness, reason is properly intended, and which must, therefore,
be regarded as the supreme condition to which the private ends of
man must, for the most part, be postponed. For as reason is not
competent to guide the will with certainty in regard to its objects
and the satisfaction of all our wants (which it to some extent even
multiplies), this being an end to which an implanted instinct would
have led with much greater certainty; and since, nevertheless,
reason is imparted to us as a practical faculty, i. e. as one which
is to have influence on the will, therefore, admitting that nature
generally in the distribution of her capacities has adapted the
means to the end, its true destination must be to produce a will,
not merely good as a means to something else, but good in itself,
for which reason was absolutely necessary. This will then, though
not indeed the sole and complete good, must be the supreme good and
the condition of every other, even of the desire of happiness. Under
these circumstances, there is nothing inconsistent with the wisdom
of nature in the fact that the cultivation of the reason, which is
requisite for the first and unconditional purpose, does in many ways
interfere, at least in this life, with the attainment of the second,
which is always conditional, namely, happiness. Nay, it may even
reduce it to nothing, without nature thereby failing of her purpose.
For reason recognises the establishment of a good will as its
highest practical destination, and in attaining this purpose is
capable only of a satisfaction of its own proper kind, namely, that
from the attainment of an end, which end again is determined by
reason only, notwithstanding that this may involve many a
disappointment to the ends of inclination.

We have then to develop the notion of a will which deserves to be
highly esteemed for itself, and is good without a view to anything
further, a notion which exists already in the sound natural
understanding, requiring rather to be cleared up than to be taught,
and which in estimating the value of our actions always takes the
first place, and constitutes the condition of all the rest. In order
to do this we will take the notion of duty, which includes that of a
good will, although implying certain subjectve restrictions and
hindrances. These, however, far from concealing it, or rendering it
unrecognisable, rather bring it out by contrast, and make it shine
forth so much the brighter.

I omit here all actions which are already recognised as inconsistent
with duty, although they may be useful for this or that purpose, for
with these the question whether they are done from duty cannot arise
at all, since they even conflict with it. I also set aside those
actions which really conform to duty, but to which men have no
direct inclination, performing them because they are impelled
thereto by some other inclination. For in this case we can readily
distinguish whether the action which agrees with duty is done from
duty, or from a selfish view. It is much harder to make this
distinction when the action accords with duty, and the subject has
besides a direct inclination to it. For example, it is always a
matter of duty that a dealer should not overcharge an inexperienced
purchaser, and wherever there is much commerce the prudent tradesman
does not overcharge, but keeps a fixed price for everyone, so that a
child buys of him as well as any other. Men are thus honestly
served; but this is not enough to make us believe that the tradesman
has so acted from duty and from principles of honesty: his own
advantage required it; it is out of the question in this case to
suppose that he might besides have a direct inclination in favour of
the buyers, so that, as it were, from love he should give no
advantage to one over another. Accordingly the action was done
neither from duty nor from direct inclination, but merely with a
selfish view.

On the other hand, it is a duty to maintain one's life; and, in
addition, everyone has also a direct inclination to do so. But on
this account the often anxious care which most men take for it has
no intrinsic worth, and their maxim has no moral import. They
preserve their life as duty requires, no doubt, but not because duty
requires. On the other hand, if adversity and hopeless sorrow have
completely taken away the relish for life; if the unfortunate one,
strong in mind, indignant at his fate rather than desponding or
dejected, wishes for death, and yet preserves his life without
loving it--not from inclination or fear, but from duty--then his
maxim has a moral worth.

To be beneficent when we can is a duty; and besides this, there are
many minds so sympathetically constituted that, without any other
motive of vanity or self-interest, they find a pleasure in spreading
joy around them and can take delight in the satisfaction of others
so far as it is their own work. But I maintain that in such a case
an action of this kind, however proper, however amiable it may be,
has nevertheless no true moral worth, but is on a level with other
inclinations, e. g. the inclination to honour, which, if it is
happily directed to that which is in fact of public utility and
accordant with duty, and consequently honourable, deserves praise
and encouragement, but not esteem. For the maxim lacks the moral
import, namely, that such actions be done from duty, not from
inclination. Put the case that the mind of that philanthropist were
clouded by sorrow of his own, extinguishing all sympathy with the
lot of others, and that while he still has the power to benefit
others in distress, he is not touched oy their trouble because he is
absorbed with his own; and now suppose that he tears himself out of
this dead insensibility, and performs the action without any
inclination to it, but simply from duty, then first has his action
its genuine moral worth. Further still; if nature has put little
sympathy in the heart of this or that man; if he, supposed to be an
upright man, is by temperament cold and indifferent to the
sufferings of others, perhaps because in respect of his own he is
provided with the special gift of patience and fortitude, and
supposes, or even requires, that others should have the same--and
such a man would certainly not be the meanest product of nature--but
if nature had not specially framed him for a philanthropist, would
he not still find in himself a source from whence to give himself a
far higher worth than that of a good-natured temperament could be?
Unquestionably. It is just in this that the moral worth of the
character is brought out which is incomparably the highest of all,
namely, that he is beneficent, not from inclination, but from duty.

To secure one's own happiness is a duty, at least indirectly; for
discontent with one's condition, under a pressure of many anxieties
and amidst unsatisfied wants, might easily become a great temptation
to transgression of duty. But here again, without looking to duty,
all men have already the strongest and most intimate inclination to
happiness, because it is just in this idea that all inclinations are
combined in one total. But the precept of happiness is often of such
a sort that it greatly interferes with some inclinations, and yet a
man cannot form any definite and certain conception of the sum of
satisfaction of all of them which is called happiness. It is not
then to be wandered at that a single inclination, definite both as
to what it promises and as to the time within which it can be
gratified, is often able to overcome such a fluctuating idea, and
that a gouty patient, for instance, can choose to enjoy what he
likes, and to suffer what he may, since, according to his
calculation, on this occasion at least, he has [only] not sacrificed
the enjoyment of the present moment to a possibly mistaken
expectation of a happiness which is supposed to be found in health.
But even in this case, if the general desire for happiness did not
influence his will, and supposing that in his particular case health
was not a necessary element in this calculation, there yet remains
in this, sas in all other cases, this law, namely, that he should
promote his happiness not from inclination but from duty, land by
this would his conduct first acquire true moral worth.

It is in this manner, undoubtedly, that we are to understand those
passages of Scripture also in which we are commanded to love our
neighbour, even our enemy. For love, as an affection, cannot be
commanded, but beneficence for duty's sake may; even though we are
not impelled to it by any inclination--nay, are even repelled by a
natural and unconquerable aversion. This is practical love, and not
pathological--a love which is seated in the will, and not in the
propensions of sense--in principles of action and not of tender
sympathy; and it is this love alone which can be commanded.

The second [Footnote: The first proposition was that to have moral
worth an action must be done from duty.] proposition is: That an
action done from duty derives its moral worth, not from the purpose
which is to be attained by it, but from the maxim by which it is
determined, and therefore does not depend on the realization of the
object of the action, but merely on the principle of volition by
which the action has taken place, without regard to any object of
desire. It is clear from what precedes that the purposes which we
may have in view in our actions, or their effects regarded as ends
and springs of the will, cannot give to actions any unconditional or
moral worth. In what, then, can their worth lie, if it is not to
consist in the will and in reference to its expected effect? It
cannot lie anywhere but in the principle of the will without regard
to the ends which can be attained by the action. For the will stands
between its a priori principle, which is formal, and its a
posteriori spring, which is material, as between two roads, and as
it must be determined by something, it follows that it must be
determined by the formal principle of volition when an action is
done from duty, in which case every material principle has been
withdrawn from it.

The third proposition, which is a consequence of the two preceding,
I would express thus: Duty is the necessity "of acting from respect
for the law." I may have inclination for an object as the effect of
my proposed action, but I cannot have respect for it, just for this
reason, that it is an effect and not an energy of will. Similarly, I
cannot have respect for inclination, whether my own or another's; I
can at most, if my own, approve it; if another's, sometimes even
love it; i.e. look on it as favourable to my own interest. It is
only what is connected with my will as a principle, by no means as
an effect--what does not subserve my inclination, but overpowers it,
or at least in case of choice excludes it from its calculation--in
other words, simply the law of itself, which can be an object of
respect, and hence a command. Now an action done from duty must
wholly exclude the influence of inclination, and with it every
object of the will, so that nothing remains which can determine the
will except objectively the LAW, and subjectively PURE RESPECT for
this practical law, and consequently the maxim [Footnote: A MAXIM is
the subjective principle of volition. The objective principle (i. e.
that which would also serve subjectively as a practical principle to
all rational beings if reason had full power over the faculty of
desire) is the practical LAW.] that I should follow this law even to
the thwarting of all my inclinations.

Thus the moral worth of an action does not lie in the effect
expected from it, nor in any principle of action which requires to
borrow its motive from this expected effeet. For all these effects--
agreeableness of one's condition, and even the promotion of the
happiness of others--could have been also brought about by other
causes, so that for this there would have been no need of the will
of a rational being; whereas it is in this alone that the supreme
and unconditional good can be found. The pre-eminent good which we
call moral can therefore consist in nothing else than THE CONCEPTION
BEING, in so far as this conception, and not the expected effect,
determines the will. This is a good which is already present in the
person who acts accordingly, and we have not to wait for it to
appear first in the result. [Footnote: It might be here objected to
me that I take refuge behind the word RESPECT in an obscure feeling,
instead of giving a distinct solution of the question by a concept
of the reason. But although respect is a feeling, it is not a
feeling RECEIVED through influence, but is SELF-WROUGHT by a
rational concept, and, therefore, is specifically distinct from all
feelings of the former kind, which may be referred either to
inclination or fear, What I recognise immediately as a law for me, I
recognise with respect. This merely signifies the consciousness that
my will is SUBORDINATE to a law, without the intervention of other
influences on my sense. The immediate determination of the will by
the law, and the consciousness of this is called RESPECT, so that
this is regarded as an EFFECT of the law on the subject, and not as
the CAUSE of it. Respect is properly the conception of a worth which
thwarts my self-love. Accordingly it is something which is
considered neither as am object of inclination nor of fear, although
it has something analogous to both. The OBJECT of respect is the LAW
only, and that, the law which we impose on OURSELVES, and yet
recognise as necessary in itself. As a law, we are subjected to it
without consulting self-love; as imposed by us on ourselves, it is a
result of our will. In the former aspect it has an analogy to fear,
in the latter to inclination. Respect for a person is properly only
respect for the law (of honesty, &c.), of which he gives us an
example. Since we also look on the improvement of our talents as a
duty, we consider that we see in a person of talents, as it were,
the EXAMPLE OF A LAW (viz. to become like him in this by exercise),
and this constitutes our respect. All so-called moral INTEREST
consists simply in RESPECT for the law.]

But what sort of law can that be, the conception of which must
determine the will, even without paying any regard to the effect
expected from it, in order that this will may be called good
absolutely and without qualification? As I have deprived the will of
every impulse which could arise to it from obedience to any law,
there remains nothing but the universal conformity of its actions to
law in general, which alone is to serve the will as a principle, i.
e. I am never to act otherwise than so THAT _I_ COULD ALSO WILL THAT
MY MAXIM SHOULD BECOME A UNIVERSAL LAW. Here now, it is the simple
conformity to law in general, without assuming any particular law
applicable to certain actions, that serves the will as its
principle, and must so serve it, if duty is not to be a vain
delusion and a chimerical notion. The common reason of men in its
practical judgments perfectly coincides with this, and always has in
view the principle here suggested. Let the question be, for example:
May I when in distress make a promise with the intention not to keep
it? I readily distinguish here between the two significations which
the question may have. Whether it is prudent, or whether it is
right, to make a false promise. The former may undoubtedly often be
the case. I see clearly indeed that it is not enough to extricate
myself from a present difficulty by means of this subterfuge, but it
must be well considered whether there may not hereafter spring from
this lie much greater inconvenience than that from which I now free
myself, and as, with all my supposed CUNNING, the consequences
cannot be so easily foreseen but that credit once lost may be much
more injurious to me than any mischief which I seek to avoid at
present, it should be considered whether it would not be more
prudent to act herein according to a universal maxim, and to make it
a habit to promise nothing except with the intention of keeping it.
But it is soon clear to me that such a maxim will still only be
based on the fear of consequences. Now it is a wholly different
thing to be truthful from duty, and to be so from apprehension of
injurious consequences. In the first case, the very notion of the
action already implies a law for me; in the second case, I must
first look about elsewhere to see what results may be combined with
it which would affect myself. For to deviate from the principle of
duty is beyond all doubt wicked; but to be unfaithful to my maxim of
prudence may often be very advantageous to me, although to abide by
it is certainly safer. The shortest way, however, and an unerring
one, to discover the answer to this question whether a lying promise
is consistent with duty, is to ask myself, Should I be content that
my maxim (to extricate myself from difficulty by a false promise)
should hold good as a universal law, for myself as well as for
others? and should I be able to say to myself, "Every one may make a
deceitful promise when he finds himself in a difficulty from which
he cannot otherwise extricate himself"? Then I presently become
aware that while I can will the lie, I can by no means will that
lying should be a universal law. For with such a law there would be
no promises at all, since it would be in vain to allege my intention
in regard to my future actions to those who would not believe this
allegation, or if they overhastily did so, would pay me back in my
own coin. Hence my maxim, as soon as it should be made a universal
law, would necessarily destroy itself.

I do not, therefore, need any far-reaching penetration to discern
what I have to do in order that my will may be morally good.
Inexperienced in the course of the world, incapable of being
prepared for all its contingencies, I only ask myself: Canst thou
also will that thy maxim should be a universal law? If not, then it
must be rejected, and that not because of a disadvantage accruing
from it to myself or even to others, but because it cannot enter as
a principle into a possible universal legislation, and reason
extorts from me immediate respect for such legislation. I do not
indeed as yet discern on what this respect is based (this the
philosopher may inquire), but at least I understand this, that it is
an estimation of the worth which far outweighs all worth of what is
recommended by inclination, and that the necessity of acting from
pure respect for the practical law is what constitutes duty, to
which every other motive must give place, because it is the
condition of a will being good in itself, and the worth of such a
will is above everything.

Thus, then, without quitting the moral knowledge of common human
reason, we have arrived at its principle. And although, no doubt,
common men do not conceive it in such an abstract and universal
form, yet they always have it really before their eyes, and use it
as the standard of their decision. Here it would be easy to show
how, with this compass in hand, men are well able to distinguish,
in every case that occurs, what is good, what bad, conformably to
duty or inconsistent with it, if, without in the least teaching
them anything new, we only, like Socrates, direct their attention
to the principle they themselves employ; and that therefore we do
not need science and philosophy to know what we should do to be
honest and good, yea, even wise and virtuous. Indeed we might well
have conjectured beforehand that the knowledge of what every man
is bound to do, and therefore also to know, would be within the
reach of every man, even the commonest. [Footnote: Compare the note
to the Preface to the Critique of the Practical Reason, p. 111. A
specimen of Kant's proposed application of the Socratic method may
be found in Mr. Semple'a translation of the Metaphysic of Ethics,
p. 290.] Here we cannot forbear admiration when we see how great
an advantage the practical judgment has over the theoretical in
the common understanding of men. In the latter, if common reason
ventures to depart from the laws of experience and from the
perceptions of the senses it falls into mere inconceivabilities and
self-contradictions, at least into chaos of uncertainty, obscurity,
and instability. But in the practical sphere it is just when the
common understanding excludes all sensible springs from practical
laws that its power of judgment begins to show itself to advantage.
It then becomes even subtle, whether it be that it chicanes with
its own conscience or with other claims respecting what is to
be called right, or whether it desires for its own instruction to
determine honestly the worth of actions; and, in the latter case,
it may even have as good a hope of hitting the mark as any philosopher
whatever can promise himself. Nay, it is almost more sure of doing
so, because the philosopher cannot have any other principle, while
he may easily perplex his judgment by a multitude of considerations
foreign to the matter, and so turn aside from the right way. Would
it not therefore be wiser in moral concerns to acquiesce in the
judgment of common reason or at most only to call in philosophy
for the purpose of rendering the system of morals more complete
and intelligible, and its rules more convenient for use (especially
for disputation), but not so as to draw off the common understanding
from its happy simplicity, or to bring it by means of philosophy
into a new path of inquiry and instruction?

Innocence is indeed a glorious thing, only, on the other hand, it is
very sad that it cannot well maintain itself, and is easily seduced.
On this account even wisdom--which otherwise consists more in
conduct than in knowledge--yet has need of science, not in order to
learn from it, but to secure for its precepts admission and
permanence. Against all the commands of duty which reason represents
to man as so deserving of respect, he feels in himself a powerful
counterpoise in his wants and inclinations, the entire satisfaction
of which he sums up under the name of happiness. Now reason issues
its commands unyieldingly, without promising anything to the
inclinations, and, as it were, with disregard and contempt for these
claims, which are so impetuous, and at the same time so plausible,
and which will not allow themselves to be suppressed by any command.
Hence there arises a natural dialectic, i. e. a disposition, to
argue against these strict laws of duty and to question their
validity, or at least their purity and strictness; and, if possible,
to make them more accordant with our wishes and inclinations, that
is to say, to corrupt them at their very source, and entirely to
destroy their worth--a thing which even common practical reason
cannot ultimately call good.

Thus is the common reason of man compelled to go out of its sphere,
and to take a step into the field of a practical philosophy, not to
satisfy any speculative want (which never occurs to it as long as it
is content to be mere sound reason), but even on practical grounds,
in order to attain in it information and clear instruction
respecting the source of its principle, and the correct
determination of it in opposition to the maxims which are based on
wants and inclinations, so that it may escape from the perplexity of
opposite claims, and not run the risk of losing all genuine moral
principles through the equivocation into which it easily falls.
Thus, when practical reason cultivates itself, there insensibly
arises in it a dialectic which forces it to seek aid in philosophy,
just as happens to it in its theoretic use; and in this case,
therefore, as well as in the other, it will find rest nowhere but in
a thorough critical examination of our reason.



If we have hitherto drawn our notion of duty from the common use of
our practical reason, it is by no means to be inferred that we have
treated it as an empirical notion. On the contrary, if we attend to
the experience of men's conduct, we meet frequent and, as we
ourselves allow, just complaints that one cannot find a single
certain example of the disposition to act from pure duty. Although
many things are done in conformity with what duty prescribes, it is
nevertheless always doubtful whether they are done strictly from
duty, so as to have a moral worth. Hence there have, at all times,
been philosophers who have altogether denied that this disposition
actually exists at all in human actions, and have ascribed
everything to a more or less refined self-love. Not that they have
on that account questioned the soundness of the conception of
morality; on the contrary, they spoke with sincere regret of the
frailty and corruption of human nature, which thought noble enough
to take as its rule an idea so worthy of respect, is yet too weak to
follow it, and employs reason, which ought to give it the law only
for the purpose of providing for the interest of the inclinations,
whether singly or at the best in the greatest possible harmony with
one another.

In fact, it is absolutely impossible to make out by experience with
complete certainty a single case in which the maxim of an action,
however right in itself, rested simply on moral grounds and on the
conception of duty. Sometimes it happens that with the sharpest
self-examination we can find nothing beside the moral principle of
duty which could have been powerful enough to move us to this or
that action and to so great a sacrifice; yet we cannot from this
infer with certainty that it was not really some secret impulse of
self-love, under the false appearance of duty, that was the actual
determining cause of the will. We like then to flatter ourselves by
falsely taking credit for a more noble motive; whereas in fact we
can never, even by the strictest examination, get completely behind
the secret springs of action; since, when the question is of moral
worth, it is not with the actions which we see that we are
concerned, but with those inward principles of them which we do not

Moreover, we cannot better serve the wishes of those who ridicule
all morality as a mere chimera of human imagination overstepping
itself from vanity, than by conceding to them that notions of duty
must be drawn only from experience (as from indolence, people are
ready to think is also the case with all other notions); for this is
to prepare for them a certain triumph. I am willing to admit out of
love of humanity that even most of our actions are correct, but if
we look closer at them we everywhere come upon the dear self which
is always prominent, and it is this they have in view, and not the
strict command of duty which would often require self-denial.
Without being an enemy of virtue, a cool observer, one that does not
mistake the wish for good, however lively, for its reality, may
sometimes doubt whether true virtue is actually found anywhere in
the world, and this especially as years increase and the judgment is
partly made wiser by experience, and partly also more acute in
observation. This being so, nothing can secure us from falling away
altogether from our ideas of duty, or maintain in the soul a well-
grounded respect for its law, but the clear conviction that although
there should never have been actions which really sprang from such
pure sources, yet whether this or that takes place is not at all the
question; but that reason of itself, independent on all experience,
ordains what ought to take place, that accordingly actions of which
perhaps the world has hitherto never given an example, the
feasibility even of which might be very much doubted by one who
founds everything on experience, are nevertheless inflexibly
commanded by reason; that, ex. gr. even though there might never yet
have been a sincere friend, yet not a whit the less is pure
sincerity in friendship required of every man, because, prior to all
experience, this duty is involved as duty in the idea of a reason
determining the will by a priori principles.

When we add further that, unless we deny that the notion of morality
has any truth or reference to any possible object, we must admit
that its law must be valid, not merely for men, but for all rational
creatures generally, not merely under certain contingent conditions
or with exceptions, but with absolute necessity, then it is clear
that no experience could enable us to infer even the possibility of
such apodictic laws. For with what right could we bring into
unbounded respect as a universal precept for every rational nature
that which perhaps holds only under the contingent conditions of
humanity? Or how could laws of the determination of OUR will be
regarded as laws of the determination of the will of rational beings
generally, and for us only as such, if they were merely empirical,
and did not take their origin wholly a priori from pure but
practical reason?

Nor could anything be more fatal to morality than that we should
wish to derive it from examples. For every example of it that is set
before me must be first itself tested by principles of morality,
whether it is worthy to serve as an original example, i. e., as a
pattern, but by no means can it authoritatively furnish the
conception of morality. Even the Holy One of the Gospels must first
be compared with our ideal of moral perfection before we can
recognise Him as such; and so He says of Himself, "Why call ye Me
(whom you see) good; none is good (the model of good) but God only
(whom ye do not see)?" But whence have we the conception of God as
the supreme good? Simply from the IDEA of moral perfection, which
reason frames a priori, and connects inseparably with the notion of
a free-will. Imitation finds no place at all in morality, and
examples serve only for encouragement, i. e. they put beyond doubt
the feasibility of what the law commands, they make visible that
which the practical rule expresses more generally, but they can
never authorise us to set aside the true original which lies in
reason, and to guide ourselves by examples.

If then there is no genuine supreme principle of morality but what
must rest simply on pure reason, independent on all experience, I
think it is not necessary even to put the question, whether it is
good to exhibit these concepts in their generality (in abstracto) as
they are established a priori along with the principles belonging to
them, if our knowledge is to be distinguished from the vulgar, and
to be called philosophical. In our times indeed this might perhaps
be necessary; for if we collected votes, whether pure rational
knowledge separated from everything empirical, that is to say,
metaphysic of morals, or whether popular practical philosophy is to
be preferred, it is easy to guess which side would preponderate.

This descending to popular notions is certainly very commendable, if
the ascent to the principles of pure reason has first taken place
and been satisfactorily accomplished. This implies that we first
found Ethics on Metaphysics, and then, when it is firmly
established, procure a hearing for it by giving it a popular
character. But it is quite absurd to try to be popular in the first
inquiry, on which the soundness of the principles depends. It is not
only that this proceeding can never lay claim to the very rare merit
of a true philosophical popularity, since there is no art in being
intelligible if one renounces all thoroughness of insight; but also
it produces a disgusting medley of compiled observations and half-
reasoned principles. Shallow pates enjoy this because it can be used
for every-day chat, but the sagacious find in it only confusion, and
being unsatisfied and unable to help themselves, they turn away
their eyes, while philosophers, who see quite well through this
delusion, are little listened to when they call men off for a time
from this pretended popularity, in order that they might be
rightfully popular after they have attained a definite insight.

We need only look at the attempts of moralists in that favourite
fashion, and we shall find at one time the Special constitution of
human nature (including, however, the idea of a rational nature
generally), at one time perfection, at another happiness, here moral
sense, there fear of God, a little of this, and a little of that, in
marvellous mixture, without its occurring to them to ask whether the
principles of morality are to be sought in the knowledge of human
nature at all (which we can have only from experience); and, if this
is not so, if these principles are to be found altogether a priori
free from everything empirical, in pure rational concepts only, and
nowhere else, not even in the smallest degree; then rather to adopt
the method of making this a separate inquiry, as pure practical
philosophy, or (if one may use a name so decried) as metaphysic of
morals, [Footnote: Just as pure mathematics are distinguished from
applied, pure logic from applied, so if we choose we may alse
distinguish pure philosophy of morals (metaphysic) from applied
(viz. applied to human nature). By this designation we are also at
once reminded that moral principles are not based on properties of
human nature, but must subsist a priori of themselves while from
such principles practical rules must be capable of being deduced for
every rational nature, and accordingly for that of man.] to bring it
by itself to completeness, and to require the public, which wishes
for popular treatment, to await the issue of this undertaking.

Such a metaphysic of morals, completely isolated, not mixed with any
anthropology, theology, physics, or hyperphysics, and still less
with occult qualities (which we might call hypophysical), is not
only an indispensable substratum of all sound theoretical knowledge
of duties, but is at the same time a desideratum of the highest
importance to the actual fulfilment of their precepts. For the pure
conception of duty, unmixed with any foreign addition of empirical
attractions, and, in a word, the conception of the moral law,
exercises on the human heart, by way of reason alone (which first
becomes aware with this that it can of itself be practical), an
influence so much more powerful than all other springs [Footnote: I
have a letter from the late excellent Sulzer, in which he asks me
what can be the reason that moral instruction, although containing
much that is convincing for the reason, yet accomplishes so little?
My answer was postponed in order that I might make it complete. But
it is simply this, that the teachers themselves have not got their
own notions clear, and when they endeavour to make up for this by
raking up motives of moral goodness from every quarter, trying to
make their physic right strong, they spoil it. For the commonest
understanding shows that if we imagine, on the one hand, an act of
honesty done with steadfast mind, apart from every view to advantage
of any kind in this world or another, and even under the greatest
temptations of necessity or allurement, and, on the other hand, a
similar act which was affected, in however low a degree, by a
foreign motive, the former leaves far behind and eclipses the
second; it elevates the soul, and inspires the wish to be able to
act in like manner oneself. Even moderately young children feel this
impression, and one should never represent duties to them in any
other light.] which may be derived from the field of experience,
that in the consciousness of its worth, despises the latter, and can by
degrees become their master; whereas a mixed ethics, compounded
partly of motives drawn from feelings and inclinations, and partly also of
conceptions of reason, must make the mind waver between motives
which cannot be brought under any principle, which lead to good only
by mere accident, and very often also to evil.

From what has been said, it is clear that all moral conceptions have
their seat and origin completely a priori in the reason, and that,
moreover, in the commonest reason just as truly as in that which is
in the highest degree speculative; that they cannot be obtained by
abstraction from any empirical, and therefore merely contingent
knowledge; that it is just this purity of their origin that makes
them worthy to serve as our supreme practical principle, and that
just in proportion as we add anything empirical, we detract from
their genuine influence, and from the absolute value of actions;
that it is not only of the greatest necessity, in a purely
speculative point of view, but is also of the greatest practical
importance to derive these notions and laws from pure reason, to
present them pure and unmixed, and even to determine the compass of
this practical or pure rational knowledge, i. e. to determine the
whole faculty of pure practical reason; and, in doing so, we must
not make its principles dependent on the particular nature of human
reason, though in speculative philosophy this may be permitted, or
may even at times be necessary; but since moral laws ought to hold
good for every rational creature, we must derive them from the
general concept of a rational being. In this way, although for its
application to man morality has need of anthropology, yet, in the
first instance, we must treat it independently as pure philosophy,
i. e. as metaphysic, complete in itself (a thing which in such
distinct branches of science is easily done); knowing well that
unless we are in possession of this, it would not only be vain to
determine the moral element of duty in right actions for purposes of
speculative criticism, but it would be impossible to base morals on
their genuine principles, even for common practical purposes,
especially of moral instruction, so as to produce pure moral dispositions,
and to engraft them on men's minds to the promotion of the greatest
possible good in the world.

But in order that in this study we may not merely advance by the
natural steps from the common moral judgment (in this case very
worthy of respect) to the philosophical, as has been already done,
but also from a popular philosophy, which goes no further than it
can reach by groping with the help of examples, to metaphysic (which
does not allow itself to be checked by anything empirical, and as it
must measure the whole extent of this kind of rational knowledge,
goes as far as ideal conceptions, where even examples fail us), we
must follow and clearly describe the practical faculty of reason,
from the general rules of its determination to the point where the
notion of duty springs from it.

Everything in nature works according to laws. Rational beings alone
have the faculty of acting according to the conception of laws, that
is according to principles, i. e., have a will. Since the deduction
of actions from principles requires reason, the will is nothing but
practical reason. If reason infallibly determines the will, then the
actions of such a being which are recognised as objectively
necessary are subjectively necessary also, i. e., the will is a
faculty to choose that only which reason independent on inclination
recognises as practically necessary, i. e., as good. But if reason
of itself does not sufficiently determine the will, if the latter is
subject also to subjective conditions (particular impulses) which do
not always coincide with the objective conditions; in a word, if the
will does not in itself completely accord with reason (which is
actually the case with men), then the actions which objectively are
recognised as necessary are subjectively contingent, and the
determination of such a will according to objective laws is
obligation, that is to say, the relation of the objective laws to a
will that is not thoroughly good is conceived as the determination
of the will of a rational being by principles of reason, but which
the will from its nature does not of necessity follow.

The conception of an objective principle, in so far as it is
obligatory for a will, is called a command (of reason); and the
formula of the command is called an Imperative.

All imperatives are expressed by the word OUGHT [or SHALL], and
thereby indicate the relation of an objective law of reason to a
will, which from its subjective constitution is not necessarily
determined by it (an obligation). They say that something would be
good to do or to forbear, but they say it to a will which does not
always do a thing because it is conceived to be good to do it. That
is practically GOOD, however, which determines the will by means of
the conceptions of reason, and consequently not from subjective
causes, but objectively, that is on principles which are valid for
every rational being as such. It is distinguished from the PLEASANT,
as that which influences the will only by means of sensation from
merely subjective causes, valid only for the sense of this or that
one, and not as a principle of reason, which holds for every one.
[Footnote 3: The dependence of the desires on sensations is called
inclination, and this accordingly always indicates a WANT. The
dependence of a contingently determinable will on principles of
reason is called an INTEREST. This therefore is found only in the
case of a dependent will, which does not always of itself conform to
reason; in the Divine will we cannot conceive any interest. But the
human will can also TAKE AN INTEREST in a thing without therefore
acting FROM INTEREST. The former signifies the PRACTICAL interest in
the action, the latter the PATHOLOGICAL in the object of the action.
The former indicates only dependence of the will or principles of
reason in themselves; the second, dependence on principles of reason
for the sake of inclination, reason supplying only the practical
rules how the requirement of the inclination may he satisfied. In
the first case the action interests me; in the second the object of
the action (because it is pleasant to me), We have seen in the first
section that in an action done from duty we must look not to the
interest in the object, but only to that in the action itself, and
in its rational principle (viz. the law).]

A perfectly good will would therefore be equally subject to
objective laws (viz. laws of good), but could not be conceived as
OBLIGED thereby to act lawfully, because of itself from its
subjective constitution it can only be determined by the conception
of good. Therefore no imperatives hold for the Divine will, or in
general for a HOLY will; OUGHT is here out of place, because the
volition is already of itself necessarily in unison with the law.
Therefore imperatives are only formulae to express the relation of
objective laws of all volition to the subjective imperfection of the
will of this or that rational being, e. g. the human will.

The former represent the practical necessity of a possible action as
means to something else that is willed (or at least which one might
possibly will). The categorical imperative would be that which
represented an action as necessary of itself without reference to
another end, i. e., as objectively necessary.

Since every practical law represents a possible action as good, and
on this account, for a subject who is practically determinable by
reason, necessary, all imperatives are formulae determining an
action which is necessary according to the principle of a will good
in some respects. If now the action is good only as a means TO
SOMETHING ELSE, then the imperative is HYPOTHETICAL; if it is
conceived as good IN ITSELF and consequently as being necessarily
the principle of a will which of itself conforms to reason, then it

Thus the imperative declares what action possible by me would be
good, and presents the practical rule in relation to a will which
does not forthwith perform an action simply because it is good,
whether because the subject does not always know that it is good, or
because, even if it know this, yet its maxims might be opposed to
the objective principles of practical reason.

Accordingly the hypothetical imperative only says that the action is
good for some purpose, POSSIBLE or ACTUAL. In the first case it is a
Problematical, in the second an Assertorial practical principle. The
categorical imperative which declares an action to be objectively
necessary in itself without reference to any purpose, i. e., without
any other end, is valid as an Apodictic (practical) principle.

Whatever is possible only by the power of some rational being may
also be conceived as a possible purpose of some will; and therefore
the principles of action as regards the means necessary to attain
some possible purpose are in fact infinitely numerous. All sciences
have a practical part, consisting of problems expressing that some
end is possible for us, and of imperatives directing how it may be
attained. These may, therefore, be called in general imperatives of
Skill. Here there is no question whether the end is rational and
good, but only what one must do in order to attain it. The precepts
for the physician to make his patient thoroughly healthy, and for a
poisoner to ensure certain death, are of equal value in this
respect, that each serves to effect its purpose perfectly. Since in
early youth it cannot be known what ends are likely to occur to us
in the course of life, parents seek to have their children taught a
great many things, and provide for their skill in the use of means
for all sorts of arbitrary ends, of none of which can they determine
whether it may not perhaps hereafter be an object to their pupil,
but which it is at all events possible that he might aim at; and
this anxiety is so great that they commonly neglect to form and
correct their judgment on the value of the things which may be
chosen as ends.

There is one end, however, which may be assumed to be actually such
to all rational beings (so far as imperatives apply to them, viz. as
dependent beings), and therefore, one purpose which they not merely
MAY have, but which we may with certainty assume that they all
actually HAVE by a natural necessity, and this is HAPPINESS. The
hypothetical imperative which expresses the practical necessity of
an action as means to the advancement of happiness is Assertorial.
We are not to present it as necessary for an uncertain and merely
possible purpose, but for a purpose which we may presuppose with
certainty and a priori in every man, because it belongs to his
being. Now skill in the choice of means to his own greatest well-
being may be called prudence [The word prudence is taken in two
senses; in the one it may bear the name of knowledge of the world,
in the other that of private prudence. The former is a man's ability
to influence others so as to use them for his own purposes. The
latter is the sagacity to combine all these purposes for his own
lasting benefit. This latter is properly that to which the value
even of the former is reduced, and when a man is prudent in the
former sense, but not in the latter, we might better say of him that
he is clever and cunning, but, on the whole, imprudent. Compare on
the difference between klug and gescheu here alluded to,
Anthropologie, 45, ed. Schubert, p. no.] in the narrowest sense. And
thus the imperative which refers to the choice of means to one's own
happiness, i. e., the precept of prudence, is still always
hypothetical; the action is not commanded absolutely, but only as
means to another purpose.

Finally, there is an imperative which commands a certain conduct
immediately, without having as its condition any other purpose to be
attained by it. This imperative is Categorical. It concerns not the
matter of the action, or its intended result, but its form and the
principle of which it is itself a result, and what is essentially
good in it consists in the mental disposition, let the consequence
be what it may. This imperative may be called that of Morality.

There is a marked distinction also between the volitions on these
three sorts of principles in the DISSIMILARITY of the obligation of
the will. In order to mark this difference more clearly, I think
they would be most suitably named in their order if we said they are
either RULES of skill, or COUNSELS of prudence, or COMMANDS (LAWS)
of morality. For it is LAW only that involves the conception of an
UNCONDITIONAL and objective necessity, which is consequently
universally valid; and commands are laws which must be obeyed, that
is, must be followed, even in opposition to inclination. COUNSELS,
indeed, involve necessity, but one which can only hold under a
contingent subjective condition, viz. they depend on whether this or
that man reckons this or that as part of his happiness; the
categorical imperative, on the contrary, is not limited by any
condition, and as being absolutely, although practically, necessary,
may be quite properly called a command. We might also call the first
kind of imperatives TECHNICAL (belonging to art), the second
PRAGMATIC (to welfare), [It seems to me that the proper
signification of the word pragmatic may be most accurately defined
in this way. For sanctions [see Cr. of Pract. Reas., p. 271] are
called pragmatic which flow properly, not from the law of the states
as necessary enactments, but from precaution for the general
welfare. A history is composed pragmatically when it teaches
prudence, i. e. instructs the world how it can provide for its
interests better, or at least as well as the men of former time.];
the third MORAL (belonging to free conduct generally, that is, to

Now arises the question, how are all these imperatives possible?
This question does not seek to know how we can conceive the
accomplishment of the action which the imperative ordains, but
merely how we can conceive the obligation of the will which the
imperative expresses. No special explanation is needed to show how
an imperative of skill is possible. Whoever wills the end, wills
also (so far as reason decides his conduct) the means in his power
which are indispensably necessary thereto. This proposition is, as
regards the volition, analytical; for, in willing an object as my
effect, there is already thought the causality of myself as an
acting cause, that is to say, the use of the means; and the
imperative educes from the conception of volition of an end the
conception of actions necessary to this end. Synthetical
propositions must no doubt be employed in denning the means to a
proposed end; but they do not concern the principle, the act of the
will, but the object and its realization. Ex. gr., that in order to
bisect a line on an unerring principle I must draw from its
extremities two intersecting arcs; this no doubt is taught by
mathematics only in synthetical propositions; but if I know that it
is only by this process that the intended operation can be
performed, then to say that if I fully will the operation, I also
will the action required for it, is an analytical proposition; for
it is one and the same thing to conceive something as an effect
which I can produce in a certain way, and to conceive myself as
acting in this way.

If it were only equally easy to give a definite conception of
happiness, the imperatives of prudence would correspond exactly with
those of skill, and would likewise be analytical. For in this case
as in that, it could be said, whoever wills the end, wills also
(according to the dictate of reason necessarily) the indispensable
means thereto which are in his power. But, unfortunately, the notion
of happiness is so indefinite that although every man wishes to
attain it, yet he never can say definitely and consistently what it
is that he really wishes and wills. The reason of this is that all
the elements which belong to the notion of happiness are altogether
empirical, i. e. they must be borrowed from experience, and
nevertheless the idea of happiness requires an absolute whole, a
maximum of welfare in my present and all future circumstances. Now
it is impossible that the most clear-sighted, and at the same time
most powerful being (supposed finite), should frame to himself a
definite conception of what he really wills in this. Does he will
riches, how much anxiety, envy, and snares might he not thereby draw
upon his shoulders? Does he will knowledge and discernment, perhaps
it might prove to be only an eye so much the sharper to show him so
much the more fearfully the evils that are now concealed from him,
and that cannot be avoided, or to impose more wants on his desires,
which already give him concern enough. Would he have long life, who
guarantees to him that it would not be a long misery? would he at
least have health? how often has uneasiness of the body restrained
from excesses into which perfect health would have allowed one to
fall? and so on. In short he is unable, on any principle, to
determine with certainty what would make him truly happy; because to
do so he would need to be omniscient. We cannot therefore act on any
definite principles to secure happiness, but only on empirical
counsels, ex. gr. of regimen, frugality, courtesy, reserve, &c.,
which experience teaches do, on the average, most promote well-
being. Hence it follows that the imperatives of prudence do not,
strictly speaking, command at all, that is, they cannot present
actions objectively as practically necessary; that they are rather
to be regarded as counsels (consilia) than precepts (praecepta) of
reason, that the problem to determine certainly and universally what
action would promote the happiness of a rational being is completely
insoluble, and consequently no imperative respecting it is possible
which should, in the strict sense, command to do what makes happy;
because happiness is not an ideal of reason but of imagination,
resting solely on empirical grounds, and it is vain to expect that
these should define an action by which one could attain the totality
of a series of consequences which is really endless. This imperative
of prudence would however be an analytical proposition if we assume
that the means to happiness could be certainly assigned; for it is
distinguished from the imperative of skill only by this, that in the
latter the end is merely possible, in the former it is given; as
however both only ordain the means to that which we suppose to be
willed as an end, it follows that the imperative which ordains the
willing of the means to him who wills the end is in both cases
analytical. Thus there is no difficulty in regard to the possibility
of an imperative of this kind either.

On the other hand the question, how the imperative of morality is
possible, is undoubtedly one, the only one? demanding a solution, as
this is not at all hypothetical, and the objective necessity which
it presents cannot rest on any hypothesis, as is the case with the
hypothetical imperatives. Only here we must never leave out of
consideration that we cannot make out by any example, in other words
empirically, whether there is such an imperative at all; but it is
rather to be feared that all those which seem to be categorical may
yet be at bottom hypothetical. For instance, when the precept is:
Thou shalt not promise deceitfully; and it is assumed that the
necessity of this is not a mere counsel to avoid some other evil, so
that it should mean: thou shalt not make a lying promise, lest if it
become known thou shouldst destroy thy credit, but that an action of
this kind must be regarded as evil in itself, so that the imperative
of the prohibition is categorical; then we cannot show with
certainty in any example that the will was determined merely by the
law, without any other spring of action, although it may appear to
be so. For it is always possible that fear of disgrace, perhaps also
obscure dread of other dangers, may have a secret influence on the
will. Who can prove by experience the non-existence of a cause when
all that experience tells us is that we do not perceive it? But in
such a case the so-called moral imperative, which as such appears to
be categorical and unconditional, would in reality be only a
pragmatic precept, drawing our attention to our own interests, and
merely teaching us to take these into consideration.

We shall therefore have to investigate a priori the possibility of a
categorical imperative, as we have not in this case the advantage of
its reality being given in experience, so that [the elucidation of]
its possibility should be requisite only for its explanation, not
for its establishment. In the mean-time it may be discerned
beforehand that the categorical imperative alone has the purport of
a practical law: all the rest may indeed be called principles of the
will but not laws, since whatever is only necessary for the
attainment of some arbitrary purpose may be considered as in itself
contingent, and we can at any time be free from the precept if we
give up the purpose: on the contrary, the unconditional command
leaves the will no liberty to choose the opposite; consequently it
alone carries with it that necessity which we require in a law.

Secondly, in the case of this categorical imperative or law of
morality, the difficulty (of discerning its possibility) is a very
profound one. It is an a priori synthetical practical proposition;
[Footnote: I connect the act with the will without presupposing any
condition resulting from any inclination, but d priori, and
therefore necessarily (though only objectively, i. e. assuming the
idea of a reason possessing full power over all subjective motives).
This is accordingly a practical proposition which does not deduce
the willing of an action by mere analysis from another already
presupposed (for we have not such a perfect will), but connects it
immediately with the conception of the will of a rational being, as
something not contained in it.] and as there is so much difficulty
in discerning the possibility of speculative propositions of this
kind, it may readily be supposed that the difficulty will be no less
with the practical.

In this problem we will first inquire whether the mere conception of
a categorical imperative may not perhaps supply us also with the
formula of it, containing the proposition which alone can be a
categorical imperative; for even if we know the tenor of such
absolute command, yet how it is possible will require further
special and laborious study, which we postpone to the last section.

When I conceive a hypothetical imperative in general I do not know
beforehand what it will contain until I am given the condition. But
when I conceive a categorical imperative I know at once what it
contains. For as the imperative contains besides the law only the
necessity that the maxims [Footnote: A MAXIM is a subjective
principle of action, and must be distinguished from the objective
principle, namely, practical law. The former contains the practical
rule set by reason according to the conditions of the subject (often
its ignorance or its inclinations), so that it is the principle on
which the subject acts; but the law is the objective principle valid
for every rational being, and is the principle on which it ought to
act that is an imperative.] shall conform to this law, while the law
contains no conditions restricting it, there remains nothing but the
general statement that the maxim of the action should conform to a
universal law, and it is this conformity alone that the imperative
properly represents as necessary. [Footnote: I have no doubt that
"den" in the original before "Imperativ" is a misprint for "der,"
and have translated accordingly. Mr. Semple has done the same. The
editions that I have seen agree in reading "den," and M. Barni so
translates. With this reading, it is the conformity that presents
the imperative as necessary.]

There is therefore but one categorical imperative, namely this: Act
only on that maxim whereby thou canst at the same time will that it
should become a universal law.

Now if all imperatives of duty can be deduced from this one
imperative as from their principle, then, although it should remain
undecided whether what is called duty is not merely a vain notion,
yet at least we shall be able to show what we understand by it and
what this notion means.

Since the universality of the law according to which effects are
produced constiutes what is properly called nature in the most
general sense (as to form), that is the existence of things so far
as it is determined by general laws, the imperative of duty may be
expressed thus: Act as if the maxim of thy action were to become by
thy will a Universal Law of Nature.

We will now enumerate a few duties, adopting the usual division of
them into duties to ourselves and to others, and into perfect and
imperfect duties. [Footnote: It must be noted here that I reserve
the division of duties for a future metaphysic of morals; so that I
give it here only as an arbitrary one (in order to arrange my
examples). For the rest, I understand by a perfect duty one that
admits no exception in favour of inclination, and then I have not
merely external, but also internal perfect duties. This is contrary
to the use of the word adopted in the schools; but I do not intend
to justify it here, as it is all one for my purpose whether it is
admitted or not. [Perfect duties are usually understood to be those
which can be enforced by external law; imperfect, those which cannot
be enforced. They are also called respectively determinate and
indeterminate, officia juris and officia virtutis.]]

I. A man reduced to despair by a series of misfortunes feels wearied
of life, but is still so far in possession of his reason that he can
ask himself whether it would not be contrary to his duty to himself
to take his own life. Now he inquires whether the maxim of his
action could become a universal law of nature. His maxim is: From
self-love I adopt it as a principle to shorten my life when its
longer duration is likely to bring more evil than satisfaction. It
is asked then simply whether this principle founded on self-love can
become a universal law of nature. Now we see at once that a system
of nature of which it should be a law to destroy life by means of
the very feeling whose special nature it is to impel to the
improvement of life would contradict itself, and therefore could not
exist as a system of nature; hence that maxim cannot possibly exist
as a universal law of nature, and consequently would be wholly
inconsistent with the supreme principle of all duty. [Footnote: On
suicide cf. further Metaphysik der Sitten, p. 274.]

2. Another finds himself forced by necessity to borrow money. He
knows that he will not be able to repay it, but sees also that
nothing will be lent to him, unless he promises stoutly to repay it
in a definite time. He desires to make this promise, but he has
still so much conscience as to ask himself: Is it not unlawful and
inconsistent with duty to get out of a difficulty in this way?
Suppose, however, that he resolves to do so, then the maxim of his
action would be expressed thus: When I think myself in want of
money, I will borrow money and promise to repay it, although I know
that I never can do so. Now this principle of self-love or of one's
own advantage may perhaps be consistent with my whole future
welfare; but the question now is, Is it right? I change then the
suggestion of self-love into a universal law, and state the question
thus: How would it be if my maxim were a universal law? Then I see
at once that it could never hold as a universal law of nature, but
would necessarily contradict itself. For supposing it to be a
universal law that everyone when he thinks himself in a difficulty
should be able to promise whatever he pleases, with the purpose of
not keeping his promise, the promise itself would become impossible,
as well as the end that one might have in view in it, since no one
would consider that anything was promised to him, but would ridicule
all such statements as vain pretences.

3. A third finds in himself a talent which with the help of some
culture might make him a useful man in many respects. But he finds
himself in comfortable circumstances, and prefers to indulge in
pleasure rather than to take pains in enlarging and improving his
happy natural capacities. He asks, however, whether his maxim of
neglect of his natural gifts, besides agreeing with his inclination
to indulgence, agrees also with what is called duty. He sees then
that a system of nature could indeed subsist with such a universal
law although men (like the South Sea islanders) should let their
talents rust, and resolve to devote their lives merely to idleness,
amusement, and propagation of their species--in a word, to
enjoyment; but he cannot possibly WILL that this should be a
universal law of nature, or be implanted in us as such by a natural
instinct. For, as a rational being, he necessarily wills that his
faculties be developed, since they serve him, and have been given
him, for all sorts of possible purposes.

4. A fourth, who is in prosperity, while he sees that others have to
contend with great wretchedness and that he could help them, thinks:
What concern is it of mine? Let everyone be as happy as heaven
pleases, or as he can make himself; I will take nothing from him nor
even envy him, only I do not wish to contribute anything to his
welfare or to his assistance in distress! Now no doubt if such a
mode of thinking were a universal law, the human race might very
well subsist, and doubtless even better than in a state in which
everyone talks of sympathy and good-will, or even takes care
occasionally to put it into practice, but on the other side, also
cheats when he can, betrays the rights of men, or otherwise violates
them. But although it is possible that a universal law of nature
might exist in accordance with that maxim, it is impossible to WILL
that such a principle should have the universal validity of a law of
nature. For a will which resolved this would contradict itself,
inasmuch as many cases might occur in which one would have need of
the love and sympathy of others, and in which, by such a law of
nature, sprung from his own will, he would deprive himself of all
hope of the aid he desires.

These are a few of the many actual duties, or at least what we
regard as such, which obviously fall into two classes on the one
principle that we have laid down. We must be ABLE TO WILL that a
maxim of our action should be a universal law. This is the canon of
the moral appreciation of the action generally. Some actions are of
such a character that their maxim cannot without contradiction be
even CONCEIVED as a universal law of nature, far from it being
possible that we should WILL that it SHOULD be so. In others this
intrinsic impossibility is not found, but still it is impossible to
WILL THAT their maxim should be raised to the universality of a law
of nature, since such a will would contradict itself. It is easily
seen that the former violate strict or rigorous (inflexible) duty;
the latter only laxer (meritorious) duty. Thus it has been
completely shown by these examples how all duties depend as regards
the nature of the obligation (not the object of the action) on the
same principle.

If now we attend to ourselves on occasion of any transgression of
duty, we shall find that we in fact do not will that our maxim
should be a universal law, for that is impossible for us; on the
contrary we will that the opposite should remain a universal law,
only we assume the liberty of making an EXCEPTION in our own favour
or (just for this time only) in favour of our inclination.
Consequently if we considered all cases from one and the same point
of view, namely, that of reason, we should find a contradiction in
our own will, namely, that a certain principle should be objectively
necessary as a universal law, and yet subjectively should not be
universal, but admit of exceptions. As however we at one moment
regard our action from the point of view of a will wholly conformed
to reason, and then again look at the same action from the point of
view of a will affected by inclination, there is not really any
contradiction, but an antagonism of inclination to the precept of
reason, whereby the universality of the principle is changed into a
mere generality, so that the practical principle of reason shall
meet the maxim half way. Now, although this cannot be justified in
our own impartial judgment, yet it proves that we do really
recognise the validity of the categorical imperative and (with all
respect for it) only allow ourselves a few exceptions, which we
think unimportant and forced from us.

We have thus established at least this much, that if duty is a
conception which is to have any import and real legislative
authority for our actions, it can only be expressed in categorical,
and not at all in hypothetical imperatives. We have also, which is
of great importance, exhibited clearly and definitely for every
practical application the content of the categorical imperative,
which must contain the principle of all duty if there is such a
thing at all. We have not yet, however, advanced so far as to prove
a priori that there actually is such an imperative, that there is a
practical law which commands absolutely of itself, and without any
other impulse, and that the following of this law is duty.

With the view of attaining to this it is of extreme importance to
remember that we must not allow ourselves to think of deducing the
reality of this principle from the particular attributes of human
nature. For duty is to be a practical, unconditional necessity of
action; it must therefore hold for all rational beings (to whom an
imperative can apply at all) and for this reason only be also a law
for all human wills. On the contrary, whatever is deduced from the
particular natural characteristics of humanity, from certain
feelings and propensions, [Footnote: Kant distinguishes "Hang
(propensio)" from "Neigung (inclinatio)" as follows:--"Hang" is a
predisposition to the desire of some enjoyment; in other words, it
is the subjective possibility of excitement of a certain desire,
which precedes the conception of its object. When the enjoyment has
been experienced, it produces a "Neigung" (inclination) to it, which
accordingly is defined "habitual sensible desire."--Anthropologie,
72, 79; Religion, p. 31.] nay even, if possible, from any particular
tendency proper to human reason, and which need not necessarily hold
for the will of every rational being; this may indeed supply us with
a maxim, but not with a law; with a subjective principle on which we
may have a propension and inclination to act, but not with an
objective principle on which we should be enjoined to act, even
though all our propensions, inclinations, and natural dispositions
were opposed to it. In fact the sublimity and intrinsic dignity of
the command in duty are so much the more evident, the less the
subjective impulses favour it and the more they oppose it, without
being able in the slightest degree to weaken the obligation of the
law or to distinguish its validity.

Here then we see philosophy brought to a critical position, since it
has to be firmly fixed, notwithstanding that it has nothing to
support it either in heaven or earth. Here it must show its purity
as absolute dictator of its own laws, not the herald of those which
are whispered to it by an implanted sense or who knows what tutelary
nature. Although these may be better than nothing, yet they can
never afford principles dictated by reason, which must have their
source wholly a priori and thence their commanding authority,
expecting everything from the supremacy of the law and the due
respect for it, nothing from inclination, or else condemning the man
to self-contempt and inward abhorrence.

Thus every empirical element is not only quite incapable of being an
aid to the principle of morality, but is even highly prejudicial to
the purity of morals, for the proper and inestimable worth of an
absolutely good will consists just in this, that the principle of
action is free, from all influence of contingent grounds, which
alone experience can furnish. We cannot too much or too often repeat
our warning against this lax and even mean habit of thought which
seeks for its principle amongst empirical motives and laws; for
human reason in its weariness is glad to rest on this pillow, and in
a dream of sweet illusions (in which, instead of Juno, it embraces a
cloud) it substitutes for morality a bastard patched up from limbs
of various derivation, which looks like anything one chooses to see
in it; only not like virtue to one who has once beheld her in her
true form. [Footnote: To behold virtue in her proper form is nothing
else but to contemplate morality stripped of all admixture of
sensible things and of every spurious ornament of reward or self-
love. How much she then eclipses everything else that appears
charming to the affections, every one may readily perceive with the
least exertion of his reason, if it be not wholly spoiled for

The question then is this: Is it a necessary law for all rational
beings that they should always judge of their actions by maxims of
which they can themselves will that they should serve as universal
laws? If it is so, then it must be connected (altogether a priori)
with the very conception of the will of a rational being generally.
But in order to discover this connexion we must, however
reluctantly, take a step into metaphysic, although into a domain of
it which is distinct from speculative philosophy, namely, the
metaphysic of morals. In a practical philosophy, where it is not the
reasons of what happens that we have to ascertain, but the laws of
what ought to happen, even although it never does, i. e., objective
practical laws, there it is not necessary to inquire into the
reasons why anything pleases or displeases, how the pleasure of mere
sensation differs from taste, and whether the latter is distinct
from a general satisfaction of reason; on what the feeling of
pleasure or pain rests, and how from it desires and inclinations
arise, and from these again maxims by the co-operation of reason:
for all this belongs to an empirical psychology, which would
constitute the second part of physics, if we regard physics as the
philosophy of nature, so far as it is based on empirical laws. But
here we are concerned with objective practical laws, and
consequently with the relation of the will to itself so far as it is
determined by reason alone, in which case whatever has reference to
anything empirical is necessarily excluded; since if reason of
itself alone determines the conduct (and it is the possibility of
this that we are now investigating), it must necessarily do so a

The will is conceived as a faculty of determining oneself to action
in accordance with the conception of certain laws. And such a
faculty can be found only in rational beings. Now that which serves
the will as the objective ground of its self-determination is the
end, and if this is assigned by reason alone, it must hold for all
rational beings. On the other hand, that which merely contains the
ground of possibility of the action of which the effect is the end,
this is called the means. The subjective ground of the desire is the
spring, the objective ground of the volition is the motive; hence
the distinction between subjective ends which rest on springs and
objective ends which depend on motives valid for every rational
being. Practical principles are formal when they abstract from all
subjective ends, they are material when they assume these, and
therefore particular springs of action. The ends which a rational
being proposes to himself at pleasure as effects of his actions
(material ends) are all only relative, for it is only their relation
to the particular desires of the subject that gives them their
worth, which therefore cannot furnish principles universal and
necessary for all rational beings and for every volition, that is to
say practical laws. Hence all these relative ends can give rise only
to hypothetical imperatives.

Supposing, however, that there were something whose existence has in
itself an absolute worth, something which, being an end in itself,
could be a source of definite laws, then in this and this alone
would He the source of a possible categorical imperative, i. e., a
practical law.

Now I say: man and generally any rational being exists as an end in
himself, not merely as a means to be arbitrarily used by this or
that will, but in all his actions, whether they concern himself or
other rational beings, must be always regarded at the same time as
an end. All objects of the inclinations have only a conditional
worth, for if the inclinations and the wants founded on them did not
exist, then their object would be without value. But the
inclinations themselves being sources of want, are so far from
having an absolute worth for which they should be desired, that on
the contrary it must be the universal wish of every rational being
to be wholly free from them. Thus the worth of any object which is
to be acquired by our action is always conditional. Beings whose
existence depends not on our will but on nature's, have
nevertheless, if they are irrational beings, only a relative value
as means, and are therefore called things; rational beings, on the
contrary, are called persons, because their very nature points them
out as ends in themselves, that is as something which must not be
used merely as means, and so far therefore restricts freedom of
action (and is an object of respect). These, therefore, are not
merely subjective ends whose existence has a worth for us as an
effect of our action but objective ends, that is things whose
existence is an end in itself: an end moreover for which no other
can be substituted, which they should subserve merely as means, for
otherwise nothing whatever would possess absolute worth; but if all
worth were conditioned and therefore contingent, then there would be
no supreme practical principle of reason whatever.

If then there is a supreme practical principle or, in respect of the
human will, a categorical imperative, it must be one which, being
drawn from the conception of that which is necessarily an end for
every one because it is an end in itself, constitutes an objective
principle of will, and can therefore serve as a universal practical
law. The foundation of this principle is: rational nature exists as
an end in itself. Man necessarily conceives his own existence as
being so; so far then this is a subjective principle of human
actions. But every other rational being regards its existence
similarly, just on the same rational principle that holds for me:
[Footnote: This proposition is here stated as a postulate. The
grounds of it will be found in the concluding section.] so that it
is at the same time an objective principle, from which as a supreme
practical law all laws of the will must be capable of being deduced.
Accordingly the practical imperative will be as follows: So act as
to treat humanity, whether in thine own person or in that of any
other, in every case as an end withal, never as means only. We will
now inquire whether this can be practically carried out.

To abide by the previous examples:

Firstly, under the head of necessary duty to oneself: He who
contemplates suicide should ask himself whether his action can be
consistent with the idea of humanity as an end in itself. If he
destroys himself in order to escape from painful circumstances, he
uses a person merely as a mean to maintain a tolerable condition up
to the end of life. But a man is not a thing, that is to say,
something which can be used merely as means, but must in all his
actions be always considered as an end in himself. I cannot,
therefore, dispose in any way of a man in my own person so as to
mutilate him, to damage or kill him. (It belongs to ethics proper to
define this principle more precisely so as to avoid all
misunderstanding, e. g., as to the amputation of the limbs in order
to preserve myself; as to exposing my life to danger with a view to
preserve it, &c. This question is therefore omitted here.)

Secondly, as regards necessary duties, or those of strict
obligation, towards others; he who is thinking of making a lying
promise to others will see at once that he would be using another
man merely as a mean, without the latter containing at the same time
the end in himself. For he whom I propose by such a promise to use
for my own purposes cannot possibly assent to my mode of acting
towards him, and therefore cannot himself contain the end of this
action. This violation of the principle of humanity in other men is
more obvious if we take in examples of attacks on the freedom and
property of others. For then it is clear that he who transgresses
the rights of men, intends to use the person of others merely as
means, without considering that as rational beings they ought always
to be esteemed also as ends, that is, as beings who must be capable
of containing in themselves the end of the very same action.
[Footnote: Let it not be thought that the common: quod tibi non vis
fieri, &c., could serve here as the rule or principle. For it is
only a deduction from the former, though with several limitations;
it cannot be a universal law, for it does not contain the principle
of duties to oneself, nor of the duties of benevolence to others
(for many a one would gladly consent that others should not benefit
him, provided only that he might be excused from showing benevolence
to them), nor finally that of duties of strict obligation to one
another, for on this principle the criminal might argue against the
judge who punishes him, and so on.]

Thirdly, as regards contingent (meritorious) duties to oneself; it
is not enough that the action does not violate humanity in our own
person as an end in itself, it must also harmonise with it. Now
there are in humanity capacities of greater perfection which belong
to the end that nature has in view in regard to humanity in
ourselves as the subject: to neglect these might perhaps be
consistent with the maintenance of humanity as an end in itself, but
not with the advancement of this end.

Fourthly, as regards meritorious duties towards others: the natural
end which all men have in their own happiness. Now humanity might
indeed subsist, although no one should contribute anything to the
happiness of others, provided he did not intentionally withdraw
anything from it; but after all, this would only harmonise
negatively not positively with humanity as an end in itself, if
everyone does not also endeavor, as far as in him lies, to forward
the ends of others. For the ends of any subject which is an end in
himself, ought as far as possible to be my ends also, if that
conception is to have its full effect with me.

This principle, that humanity and generally every rational nature is
an end in itself (which is the supreme limiting condition of every
man's freedom of action), is not borrowed from experience, firstly,
because it is universal, applying as it does to all rational beings
whatever, and experience is not capable of determining anything
about them; secondly, because it does not present humanity as an end
to men (subjectively), that is as an object which men do of
themselves actually adopt as an end; but as an objective end, which
must as a law constitute the supreme limiting condition of all our
subjective ends, let them be what we will; it must therefore spring
from pure, reason. In fact the objective principle of all practical
legislation lies (according to the first principle) in the rule and
its form of universality which makes it capable of being a law (say,
e. g., a law of nature); but the subjective principle is in the end;
now by the second principle the subject of all ends is each rational
being, inasmuch as it is an end in itself. Hence follows the third
practical principle of the will, which is the ultimate condition of
its harmony with the universal practical reason, viz.: the idea of
the will of every rational being as a universally legislative will.

On this principle all maxims are rejected which are inconsistent
with the will being itself universal legislator. Thus the will is
not subject simply to the law, but so subject that it must be
regarded as itself giving the law, and on this ground only, subject
to the law (of which it can regard itself as the author).

In the previous imperatives, namely, that based on the conception of
the conformity of actions to general laws, as in a physical system
of nature, and that based on the universal prerogative of rational
beings as ends in themselves--these imperatives just because they
were conceived as categorical, excluded from any share in their
authority all admixture of any interest as a spring of action; they
were however only assumed to be categorical, because such an
assumption was necessary to explain the conception of duty. But we
could not prove independently that there are practical propositions
which command categorically, nor can it be proved in this section;
one thing however could be done, namely, to indicate in the
imperative itself by some determinate expression, that in the case
of volition from duty all interest is renounced, which is the
specific criterion of categorical as distinguished from hypothetical
imperatives. This is done in the present (third) formula of the
principle, namely, in the idea of the will of every rational being
as a universally legislating will.

For although a will which is subject to laws may be attached to this
law by means of an interest, yet a will which is itself a supreme
lawgiver so far as it is such cannot possibly depend on any
interest, since a will so dependent would itself still need another
law restricting the interest of its self-love by the condition that
it should be valid as universal law.

Thus the principle that every human will is a will which in all its
maxims gives universal laws [Footnote: I may be excused from
adducing examples to elucidate this principle, as those which have
already been used to elucidate the categorical imperative and its
formula would all serve for the like purpose here.] provided it be
otherwise justified, would be very well adapted to be the
categorical imperative, in this respect, namely, that just because
of the idea of universal legislation it is not based on any
interest, and therefore it alone among all possible imperatives can
be unconditional. Or still better, converting the proposition, if
there is a categorical imperative (i.e. a law for the will of every
rational being), it can only command that everything be done from
maxims of one's will regarded as a will which could at the same time
will that it should itself give universal laws, for in that case
only the practical principle and the imperative which it obeys are
unconditional, since they cannot be based on any interest.

Looking back now on all previous attempts to discover the principle
of morality, we need not wonder why they all fail. It was seen that
man was bound to laws by duty, but it was not observed that the laws
to which he is subject are only those of his own giving, though at
the same time they are universal, and that he is only bound to act
in conformity with his own will; a will, however, which is designed
by nature to give universal laws. For when one has conceived man
only as subject to a law (no matter what), then this law required
some interest, either by way of attraction or constraint, since it
did not originate as a law from his own will, but this will was
according to a law obliged by something else to act in a certain
manner. Now by this necessary consequence all the labour spent in
finding a supreme principle of duty was irrevocably lost. For men
never elicited duty, but only a necessity of acting from a certain
interest. Whether this interest was private or otherwise, in any
case the imperative must be conditional, and could not by any means
be capable of being a moral command. I will therefore call this the
principle of Autonomy of the will, in contrast with every other
which I accordingly reckon as Heteronomy? [Footnote: Cp. "Critical
Examination of Practical Reason," p. 184.]

The conception of every rational being as one which must consider
itself as giving in all the maxims of its will universal laws, so as
to judge itself and its actions from this point of view--this
conception leads to another which depends on it and is very
fruitful, namely, that of a kingdom of ends.

By a kingdom I understand the union of different rational beings in
a system by common laws. Now since it is by laws that ends are
determined as regards their universal validity, hence, if we
abstract from the personal differences of rational beings, and
likewise from all the content of their private ends, we shall be
able to conceive all ends combined in a systematic whole (including
both rational beings as ends in themselves, and also the special
ends which each may propose to himself), that is to say, we can
conceive a kingdom of ends, which on the preceding principles is

For all rational beings come under the law that each of them must
treat itself and all others never merely as means, but in every case
at the same time as ends in themselves. Hence results a systematic
union of rational beings by common objective laws, i.e. a kingdom
which may be called a kingdom of ends, since what these laws have in
view is just the relation of these beings to one another as ends and
means. It is certainly only an ideal.

A rational being belongs as a member to the kingdom of ends when,
although giving universal laws in it, he is also himself subject to
these laws. He belongs to it as sovereign when, while giving laws,
he is not subject to the will of any other.

A rational being must always regard himself as giving laws either as
member or as sovereign in a kingdom of ends which is rendered
possible by the freedom of will. He cannot, however, maintain the
latter position merely by the maxims of his will, but only in case
he is a completely independent being without wants and with
unrestricted power adequate to his will.

Morality consists then in the reference of all action to the
legislation which alone can render a kingdom of ends possible. This
legislation must be capable of existing in every rational being, and
of emanating from his will, so that the principle of this will is,
never to act on any maxim which could not without contradiction be
also a universal law, and accordingly always so to act that the will
could at the same time regard itself as giving in its maxims
universal laws. If now the maxims of rational beings are not by
their own nature coincident with this objective principle, then the
necessity of acting on it is called practical necessitation, i. e.,
duty. Duty does not apply to the sovereign in the kingdom of ends,
but it does to every member of it and to all in the same degree.

The practical necessity of acting on this principle, i. e., duty,
does not rest at all on feelings, impulses, or inclinations, but
solely on the relation of rational beings to one another, a relation
in which the will of a rational being must always be regarded as
legislative, since otherwise it could not be conceived as an end in
itself. Reason then refers every maxim of the will, regarding it as
legislating universally, to every other will and also to every
action towards oneself; and this not on account of any other
practical motive or any future advantage, but from the idea of the
dignity of a rational being, obeying no law but that which he
himself also gives.

In the kingdom of ends everything has either Value or Dignity.
Whatever has a value can be replaced by something else which is
equivalent; whatever, on the other hand, is above all value, and
therefore admits of no equivalent, has a dignity.

Whatever has reference to the general inclinations and wants of
mankind has a market value; whatever, without presupposing a want,
corresponds to a certain taste, that is to a satisfaction in the
mere purposeless play of our faculties, has a fancy value; but that
which constitutes the condition under which alone anything can be an
end in itself, this has not merely a relative worth, i. e., value,
but an intrinsic worth, that is dignity.

Now morality is the condition under which alone a rational being can
be an end in himself, since by this alone it is possible that he
should be a legislating member in the kingdom of ends. Thus
morality, and humanity as capable of it, is that which alone has
dignity. Skill and diligence in labour have a market value; wit,
lively imagination, and humour, have fancy value; on the other hand,
fidelity to promises, benevolence from principle (not from
instinct), have an intrinsic worth. Neither nature nor art contains
anything which in default of these it could put in their place, for
their worth consists not in the effects which spring from them, not
in the use and advantage which they secure, but in the disposition
of mind, that is, the maxims of the will which are ready to manifest
themselves in such actions, even though they should not have the
desired effect. These actions also need no recommendation from any
subjective taste or sentiment, that they may be looked on with
immediate favour and satisfaction: they need no immediate propension
or feeling for them; they exhibit the will that performs them as an
object of an immediate respect, and nothing but reason is required
to IMPOSE them on the will; not to FLATTER it into them, which, in
the case of duties, would be a contradiction. This estimation
therefore shows that the worth of such a disposition is dignity, and
places it infinitely above all value, with which it cannot for a
moment be brought into comparison or competition without as it were
violating its sanctity.

What then is it which justifies virtue or the morally good
disposition, in making such lofty claims? It is nothing less than
the privilege it secures to the rational being of participating in
the giving of universal laws, by which it qualifies him to be a
member of a possible kingdom of ends, a privilege to which he was
already destined by his own nature as being an end in himself, and
on that account legislating in the kingdom of ends; free as regards
all laws of physical nature, and obeying those only which he himself
gives, and by which his maxims can belong to a system of universal
law, to which at the same time he submits himself. For nothing has
any worth except what the law assigns it. Now the legislation itself
which assigns the worth of everything, must for that very reason
possess dignity, that is an unconditional incomparable worth, and
the word RESPECT alone supplies a becoming expression for the esteem
which a rational being must have for it. AUTONOMY then is the basis
of the dignity of human and of every rational nature.

The three modes of presenting the principle of morality that have
been adduced are at bottom only so many formulae of the very same
law, and each of itself involves the other two. There is, however, a
difference in them, but it is rather subjectively than objectively
practical, intended namely to bring an idea of the reason nearer to
intuition (by means of a certain analogy), and thereby nearer to
feeling. All maxims, in fact, have--

1. A FORM, consisting in universality; and in this view the formula
of the moral imperative is expressed thus, that the maxims must be
so chosen as if they were to serve as universal laws of nature.

2. A MATTER [Footnote: The reading "Maxima," which is that both of
Rosenkranz and Hartenstein, is obviously an error for "Materie."]
namely, an end, and here the formula says that the rational being,
as it is an end by its own nature and therefore an end in itself,
must in every maxim serve as the condition limiting all merely
relative and arbitrary ends.

3. A COMPLETE CHARACTERISATION of all maxims by means of that
formula, namely, that all maxims ought by their own legislation to
harmonise with a possible kingdom of ends as with a kingdom of
nature. [Footnote: Teleology considers nature as a kingdom of ends;
Ethics regards a possible kingdom of ends as a kingdom of nature. In
the first case, the kingdom of ends is a theoretical idea, adopted
to explain what actually is. In the latter it is a practical idea,
adopted to bring about that which is not yet, but which can be
realised by our conduct, namely, if it conforms to this idea.] There
is a progress here in the order of the categories of UNITY of the
form of the will (its universality), PLURALITY of the matter (the
objects, i. e. the ends), and TOTALITY of the system of these. In
forming our moral JUDGMENT of actions it is better to proceed always
on the strict method, and start from the general formula of the
SAME TIME MAKE ITSELF A UNIVERSAL LAW. If, however, we wish to gain
an ENTRANCE for the moral law, it is very useful to bring one and
the same action under the three specified conceptions, and thereby
as far as possible to bring it nearer to intuition.

We can now end where we started at the beginning, namely, with the
conception of a will unconditionally good. THAT WILL is ABSOLUTELY
GOOD which cannot be evil, in other words, whose maxim, if made a
universal law, could never contradict itself. This principle then is
its supreme law: Act always on such a maxim as thou canst at the
same time will to be a universal law; this is the sole condition
under which a will can never contradict itself; and such an
imperative is categorical. Since the validity of the will as a
universal law for possible actions is analogous to the universal
connexion of the existence of things by general laws, which is the
formal notion of nature in general, the categorical imperative can
also be expressed thus: ACT ON MAXIMS WHICH CAN AT THE SAME TIME
then is the formula of an absolutely good will.

Rational nature is distinguished from the rest of nature by this,
that it sets before itself an end. This end would be the matter of
every good will. But since in the idea of a will that is absolutely
good without being limited by any condition (of attaining this or
that end) we must abstract wholly from every end TO BE EFFECTED
(since this would make every will only relatively good), it follows
that in this case the end must be conceived, not as an end to be
effected, but as an INDEPENDENTLY existing end. Consequently it is
conceived only negatively, i.e., as that which we must never act
against, and which, therefore, must never be regarded merely as
means, but must in every volition be esteemed as an end likewise.
Now this end can be nothing but the subject of all possible ends,
since this is also the subject of a possible absolutely good will;
for such a will cannot without contradiction be postponed to any
other object. The principle: So act in regard to every rational
being (thyself and others), that he may always have place in thy
maxim as an end in himself, is accordingly essentially identical
with this other: Act upon a maxim which, at the same time, involves
its own universal validity for every rational being. For that in
using means for every end I should limit my maxim by the condition
of its holding good as a law for every subject, this comes to the
same thing as that the fundamental principle of all maxims of action
must be that the subject of all ends, i. e., the rational being
himself, be never employed merely as means, but as the supreme
condition restricting the use of all means, that is in every case as
an end likewise.

It follows incontestably that, to whatever laws any rational being
may be subject, he being an end in himself must be able to regard
himself as also legislating universally in respect of these same
laws, since it is just this fitness of his maxims for universal
legislation that distinguishes him as an end in himself; also it
follows that this implies his dignity (prerogative) above all mere
physical beings, that he must always take his maxims from the point
of view which regards himself, and likewise every other rational
being, as lawgiving beings (on which account they are called
persons). In this way a world of rational beings (mundus
intelligibilis) is possible as a kingdom of ends, and this by virtue
of the legislation proper to all persons as members. Therefore every
rational being must so act as if he were by his maxims in every case
a legislating member in the universal kingdom of ends. The formal
principle of these maxims is: So act as if thy maxim were to serve
likewise as the universal law (of all rational beings). A kingdom of
ends is thus only possible on the analogy of a kingdom of nature,
the former however only by maxims, that is self-imposed rules, the
latter only by the laws of efficient causes acting under
necessitation from without. Nevertheless, although the system of
nature is looked upon as a machine, yet so far as it has reference
to rational beings as its ends, it is given on this account the name
of a kingdom of nature. Now such a kingdom of ends would be actually
realised by means of maxims conforming to the canon which the
categorical imperative prescribes to all rational beings, IF THEY
WERE UNIVERSALLY FOLLOWED. But although a rational being, even if he
punctually follows this maxim himself, cannot reckon upon all others
being therefore true to the same, nor expect that the kingdom of
nature and its orderly arrangements shall be in harmony with him as
a fitting member, so as to form a kingdom of ends to which he
himself contributes, that is to say, that it shall favour his
expectation of happiness, still that law: Act according to the
maxims of a member of a merely possible kingdom of ends legislating
in it universally, remains in its full force, inasmuch as it
commands categorically. And it is just in this that the paradox
lies; that the mere dignity of a man as a rational creature, without
any other end or advantage to be attained thereby, in other words,
respect for a mere idea, should yet serve as an inflexible precept
of the will, and that it is precisely in this independence of the
maxim on all such springs of action that its sublimity consists; and
it is this that makes every rational subject worthy to be a
legislative member in the kingdom of ends: for otherwise he would
have to be conceived only as subject to the physical law of his
wants. And although we should suppose the kingdom of nature and the
kingdom of ends to be united under one sovereign, so that the latter
kingdom thereby ceased to be a mere idea and acquired true reality,
then it would no doubt gain the accession of a strong spring, but by
no means any increase of its intrinsic worth. For this sole absolute
lawgiver must, notwithstanding this, be always conceived as
estimating the worth of rational beings only by their disinterested
behaviour, as prescribed to themselves from that idea [the dignity
of man] alone. The essence of things is not altered by their
external relations, and that which abstracting from these, alone
constitutes the absolute worth of man, is also that by which he must
be judged, whoever the judge may be, and even by the Supreme Being.
MORALITY then is the relation of actions to the autonomy of the
will, that is, to the potential universal legislation by its maxims.
An action that is consistent with the autonomy of the will is
PERMITTED; one that does not agree therewith is FORBIDDEN. A will
whose maxims necessarily coincide with the laws of autonomy is a
HOLY will, good absolutely. The dependence of a will not absolutely
good on the principle of autonomy (moral necessitation) is
obligation. This then cannot be applied to a holy being. The
objective necessity of actions from obligation is called DUTY.

From what has just been said, it is easy to see how it happens that
although the conception of duty implies subjection to the law, we
yet ascribe a certain DIGNITY and sublimity to the person who
fulfills all his duties. There is not, indeed, any sublimity in him,
so far as he is subject to the moral law; but inasmuch as in regard
to that very law he is like-wise a legislator, and on that account
alone subject to it, he has sublimity. We have also shown above that
neither fear nor inclination, but simply respect for the law, is the
spring which can give actions a moral worth. Our own will, so far as
we suppose it to act only under the condition that its maxims are
potentially universal laws, this ideal will which is possible to us
is the proper object of respect, and the dignity of humanity
consists just in this capacity of being universally legislative,
though with the condition that it is itself subject to this same

The Autonomy of the Will as the Supreme Principle of Morality

Autonomy of the will is that property of it by which it is a law to
itself (independently on any property of the objects of volition).
The principle of autonomy then is: Always so to choose that the same
volition shall comprehend the maxims of our choice as a universal
law. We cannot prove that this practical rule is an imperative,
i.e., that the will of every rational being is necessarily bound to
it as a condition, by a mere analysis of the conceptions which occur
in it, since it is a synthetical proposition; we must advance beyond
the cognition of the objects to a critical examination of the
subject, that is of the pure practical reason, for this synthetic
proposition which commands apodictically must be capable of being
cognised wholly a priori. This matter, however, does not belong to
the present section. But that the principle of autonomy in question
is the sole principle of morals can be readily shown by mere
analysis of the conceptions of morality. For by this analysis we
find that its principle must be a categorical imperative, and that
what this commands is neither more nor less than this very autonomy.

Heteronomy of the Will as the Source of all spurious Principles of

If the will seeks the law which is to determine it anywhere else
than in the fitness of its maxims to be universal laws of its own
dictation, consequently if it goes out of itself and seeks this law
in the character of any of its objects, there always results
HETERONOMY. The will in that case does not give itself the law, but
it is given by the object through its relation to the will. This
relation whether it rests on inclination or on conceptions of reason
only admits of hypothetical imperatives: I ought to do something
BECAUSE _I_ WISH FOR SOMETHING ELSE. On the contrary, the moral, and
therefore categorical, imperative says: I ought to do so and so,
even though I should not wish for anything else. Ex. gr., the former
says: I ought not to lie if I would retain my reputation; the latter
says: I ought not to lie although it should not bring me the least
discredit. The latter therefore must so far abstract from all
objects that they shall have no INFLUENCE on the will, in order that
practical reason (will) may not be restricted to administering an
interest not belonging to it, but may simply show its own commanding
authority as the supreme legislation. Thus, ex. gr., I ought to
endeavour to promote the happiness of others, not as if its
realization involved any concern of mine (whether by immediate
inclination or by any satisfaction indirectly gained through
reason), but simply because a maxim which excludes it cannot be
comprehended as a universal law [Footnote: I read allgemeines
instead of allgemeinem.] in one and the same volition.

Classification of all Principles of Morality which can be founded on
the Conception of Heteronomy.

Here as elsewhere human reason in its pure use, so long as it was
not critically examined, has first tried all possible wrong ways
before it succeeded in finding the one true way.

All principles which can be taken from this point of view are either
EMPIRICAL or RATIONAL. The FORMER, drawn from the principle of
HAPPINESS, are built on physical or moral feelings; the LATTER,
drawn from the principle of PERFECTION, are built either on the
rational conception of perfection as a possible effect, or on that
of an independent perfection (the will of God) as the determining
cause of our will.

EMPIRICAL PRINCIPLES are wholly incapable of serving as a foundation
for moral laws. For the universality with which these should hold
for all rational beings without distinction, the unconditional
practical necessity which is thereby imposed on them, is lost when
their foundation is taken from the PARTICULAR CONSTITUTION OF HUMAN
NATURE, or the accidental circumstances in which it is placed. The
principle of PRIVATE HAPPINESS, however, is the most objectionable,
not merely because it is false, and experience contradicts the
supposition that prosperity is always proportioned to good conduct,
nor yet merely because it contributes nothing to the establishment
of morality--since it is quite a different thing to make a
prosperous man and a good man, or to make one prudent and sharp-
sighted for his own interests, and to make him virtuous--but because
the springs it provides for morality are such as rather undermine it
and destroy its sublimity, since they put the motives to virtue and
to vice in the same class, and only teach us to make a better
calculation, the specific difference between virtue and vice being
entirely extinguished. On the other hand, as to moral feeling, this
supposed special sense [Footnote: I class the principle of moral
feeling under that of happiness, because every empirical interest
promises to contribute to our well-being by the agreeableness that a
thing affords, whether it be immediately and without a view to
profit, or whether profit be regarded. We must likewise, with
Hutcheson, class the principle of sympathy with the happiness of
others under his assumed moral sense.] the appeal to it is indeed
superficial when those who cannot THINK believe that FEELING will
help them out, even in what concerns general laws: and besides,
feelings which naturally differ infinitely in degree cannot furnish
a uniform standard of good and evil, nor has anyone a right to form
judgments for others by his own feelings: nevertheless this moral
feeling is nearer to morality and its dignity in this respect, that
it pays virtue the honour of ascribing to her IMMEDIATELY the
satisfaction and esteem we have for her, and does not, as it were,
tell her to her face that we are not attached to her by her beauty
but by profit.

Amongst the RATIONAL principles of morality, the ontological
conception of PERFECTION, notwithstanding its defects, is better
than the theological conception which derives morality from a Divine
absolutely perfect will. The former is, no doubt, empty and
indefinite, and consequently useless for finding in the boundless
field of possible reality the greatest amount suitable for us;
moreover, in attempting to distinguish specifically the reality of
which we are now speaking from every other, it inevitably tends to
turn in a circle, and cannot avoid tacitly presupposing the morality
which it is to explain; it is nevertheless preferable to the
theological view, first, because we have no intuition of the Divine
perfection, and can only deduce it from our own conceptions, the
most important of which is that of morality, and our explanation
would thus be involved in a gross circle; and, in the next place, if
we avoid this, the only notion of the Divine will remaining to us is
a conception made up of the attributes of desire of glory and
dominion, combined with the awful conceptions of might and
vengeance, and any system of morals erected on this foundation would
be directly opposed to morality.

However, if I had to choose between the notion of the moral sense
and that of perfection in general (two systems which at least do not
weaken morality, although they are totally incapable of serving as
its foundation), then I should decide for the latter, because it at
least withdraws the decision of the question from the sensibility
and brings it to the court of pure reason; and although even here it
decides nothing, it at all events preserves the indefinite idea (of
a will good in itself) free from corruption, until it shall be more
precisely defined.

For the rest I think I may be excused here from a detailed
refutation of all these doctrines; that would only be superfluous
labour, since it is so easy, and is probably so well seen even by
those whose office requires them to decide for one of these theories
(because their hearers would not tolerate suspension of judgment).
But what interests us more here is to know that the prime foundation
of morality laid down by all these principles is nothing but
heteronomy of the will, and for this reason they must necessarily
miss their aim.

In every case where an object of the will has to be supposed in
order that the rule may be prescribed which is to determine the
will, there the rule is simply heteronomy; the imperative is
conditional, namely, IF or BECAUSE one wishes for this object, one
should act so and so: hence it can never command morally, that is
categorically. Whether the object determines the will by means of
inclination, as in the principle of private happiness, or by means
of reason directed to objects of our possible volition generally, as
in the principle of perfection, in either case the will never
determines itself IMMEDIATELY by the conception of the action, but
only by the influence which the foreseen effect of the action has on
WISH FOR SOMETHING ELSE; and here there must be yet another law
assumed in me as its subject, by which I necessarily will this other
thing, and this law again requires an imperative to restrict this
maxim. For the influence which the conception of an object within
the reach of our faculties can exercise on the will of the subject
in consequence of its natural properties, depends on the nature of
the subject, either the sensibility (inclination and taste), or the
understanding and reason, the employment of which is by the peculiar
constitution of their nature attended with satisfaction. It follows
that the law would be, properly speaking, given by nature, and as
such, it must be known and proved by experience, and would
consequently be contingent, and therefore incapable of being an
apodictic practical rule, such as the moral rule must be. Not only
so, but it is INEVITABLY ONLY HETERONOMY; the will does not give
itself the law, but it is given by a foreign impulse by means of a
particular natural constitution of the subject adapted to receive
it. An absolutely good will, then, the principle of which must be a
categorical imperative, will be indeterminate as regards all
objects, and will contain merely the FORM OF VOLITION generally, and
that as autonomy, that is to say, the capability of the maxims of
every good will to make themselves a universal law, is itself the
only law which the will of every rational being imposes on itself,
without needing to assume any spring or interest as a foundation.

and why it is necessary, is a problem whose solution does not lie
within the bounds of the metaphysic of morals; and we have not here
affirmed its truth, much less professed to have a proof of it in our
power. We simply showed by the development of the universally
received notion of morality that an autonomy of the will is
inevitably connected with it, or rather is its foundation. Whoever
then holds morality to be anything real, and not a chimerical idea
without any truth, must likewise admit the principle of it that is
here assigned. This section then, like the first, was merely
analytical. Now to prove that morality is no creation of the brain,
which it cannot be if the categorical imperative and with it the
autonomy of the will is true, and as an a priori principle
absolutely necessary, this supposes the POSSIBILITY OF A SYNTHETIC
USE OF PURE PRACTICAL REASON, which however we cannot venture on
without first giving a critical examination of this faculty of
reason. In the concluding section we shall give the principle
outlines of this critical examination as far as is sufficient for
our purpose.



The Concept of Freedom is the Key that explains the Autonomy of the

The WILL is a kind of causality belonging to living beings in so far
as they are rational, and FREEDOM would be this property of such
causality that it can be efficient, independently on foreign causes
DETERMINING it; just as PHYSICAL NECESSITY is the property that the
causality of all irrational beings has of being determined to
activity by the influence of foreign causes.

The preceding definition of freedom is NEGATIVE, and therefore
unfruitful for the discovery of its essence; but it leads to a
POSITIVE conception which is so much the more full and fruitful
Since the conception of causality involves that of laws, according
to which, by something that we call cause, something else, namely,
the effect, must be produced [laid down]; [Footnote: (Gesetzt.-There
is in the original a play on the etymology of Gesetz, which does not
admit of reproduction in English. It must be confessed that without
it the statement is not self-evident.)] hence, although freedom is
not a property of the will depending on physical laws, yet it is not
for that reason lawless; on the contrary it must be a causality
acting according to immutable laws, but of a peculiar kind;
otherwise a free will would be an absurdity. Physical necessity is a
heteronomy of the efficient causes, for every effect is possible
only according to this law, that something else determines the
efficient cause to exert its causality. What else then can freedom
of the will be but autonomy, that is the property of the will to be
a law to itself? But the proposition: The will is in every action a
law to itself, only expresses the principle, to act on no other
maxim than that which can also have as an object itself as a
universal law. Now this is precisely the formula of the categorical
imperative and is the principle of morality, so that a free will and
a will subject to moral laws are one and the same.

On the hypothesis then of freedom of the will, morality together
with its principle follows from it by mere analysis of the
conception. However the latter is still a synthetic proposition;
viz., an absolutely good will is that whose maxim can always include
itself regarded as a universal law; for this property of its maxim
can never be discovered by analysing the conception of an absolutely
good will. Now such synthetic propositions are only possible in this
way: that the two cognitions are connected together by their union
with a third in which they are both to be found. The POSITIVE
concept of freedom furnishes this third cognition, which cannot, as
with physical causes, be the nature of the sensible world (in the
concept of which we find conjoined the concept of something in
relation as cause to SOMETHING ELSE as effect). We cannot now at
once show what this third is to which freedom points us, and of
which we have an idea a priori, nor can we make intelligible how the
concept of freedom is shown to be legitimate from principles of pure
practical reason, and with it the possibility of a categorical
imperative; but some further preparation is required.

Freedom must be presupposed as a Property of the Will of all
Rational Beings

It is not enough to predicate freedom of our own will, from whatever
reason, if we have not sufficient grounds for predicating the same
of all rational beings. For as morality serves as a law for us only
because we are RATIONAL BEINGS, it must also hold for all rational
beings; and as it must be deduced simply from the property of
freedom, it must be shown that freedom also is a property of all
rational beings. It is not enough then to prove it from certain
supposed experiences of human nature (which indeed is quite
impossible, and it can only be shown a priori), but we must show
that it belongs to the activity of all rational beings endowed with
a will. Now I say every being that cannot act except UNDER THE IDEA
OF FREEDOM is just for that reason in a practical point of view
really free, that is to say, all laws which are inseparably
connected with freedom have the same force for him as if his will
had been shown to be free in itself by a proof theoretically
conclusive. [Footnote: I adopt this method of assuming freedom
merely AS AN IDEA which rational beings suppose in their actions, in
order to avoid the necessity of proving it in its theoretical aspect
also. The former is sufficient for my purpose; for even though the
speculative proof should not be made out, yet a being that cannot
act except with the idea of freedom is bound by the same laws that
would oblige a being who was actually free. Thus we can escape here
from the onus which presses on the theory. (Compare Butler's
treatment of the question of liberty in his "Analogy," part I., ch.
vi.)] Now I affirm that we must attribute to every rational being
which has a will that it has also the idea of freedom and acts
entirely under this idea. For in such a being we conceive a reason
that is practical, that is, has causality in reference to its
objects. Now we cannot possibly conceive a reason consciously
receiving a bias from any other quarter with respect to its
judgments, for then the subject would ascribe the determination of
its judgment not to its own reason, but to an impulse. It must
regard itself as the author of its principles independent on foreign
influences. Consequently as practical reason or as the will of a
rational being it must regard itself as free, that is to say, the
will of such a being cannot be a will of its own except under the
idea of freedom. This idea must therefore in a practical point of
view be ascribed to every rational being.

Of the Interest attaching to the Ideas of Morality

We have finally reduced the definite conception of morality to the
idea of freedom. This latter, however, we could not prove to be
actually a property of ourselves or of human nature; only we saw
that it must be presupposed if we would conceive a being as rational
and conscious of its causality in respect of its actions, i. e., as
endowed with a will; and so we find that on just the same grounds we
must ascribe to every being endowed with reason and will this
attribute of determining itself to action under the idea of its

Now it resulted also from the presupposition of this idea that we
became aware of a law that the subjective principles of action,
i.e., maxims, must always be so assumed that they can also hold as
objective, that is, universal principles, and so serve as universal
laws of our own dictation. But why then should I subject myself to
this principle and that simply as a rational being, thus also
subjecting to it all other beings endowed with reason? I will allow
that no interest urges me to this, for that would not give a
categorical imperative, but I must take an interest in it and
discern how this comes to pass; for this "I ought" is properly an "I
would," valid for every rational being, provided only that reason
determined his actions without any hindrance. But for beings that
are in addition affected as we are by springs of a different kind,
namely, sensibility, and in whose case that is not always done which
reason alone would do, for these that necessity is expressed only as
an "ought," and the subjective necessity is different from the

It seems then as if the moral law, that is, the principle of
autonomy of the will, were properly speaking only presupposed in the
idea of freedom, and as if we could not prove its reality and
objective necessity independently. In that case we should still have
gained something considerable by at least determining the true
principle more exactly than had previously been done; but as regards
its validity and the practical necessity of subjecting oneself to
it, we should not have advanced a step. For if we were asked why the
universal validity of our maxim as a law must be the condition
restricting our actions, and on what we ground the worth which we
assign to this manner of acting--a worth so great that there cannot
be any higher interest; and if we were asked further how it happens
that it is by this alone a man believes he feels his own personal
worth, in comparison with which that of an agreeable or disagreeable
condition is to be regarded as nothing, to these questions we could
give no satisfactory answer.

We find indeed sometimes that we can take an interest [Footnote:
"Interest" means a spring of the will, in so far as this spring is
presented by Reason. See note, p. 391.] in a personal quality which
does not involve any interest of external condition, provided this
quality makes us capable of participating in the condition in case
reason were to effect the allotment; that is to say, the mere being
worthy of happiness can interest of itself even without the motive
of participating in this happiness. This judgment, however, is in
fact only the effect of the importance of the moral law which we
before presupposed (when by the idea of freedom we detach ourselves
from every empirical interest); but that we ought to detach
ourselves from these interests, i. e., to consider ourselves as free
in action and yet as subject to certain laws, so as to find a worth
simply in our own person whiph can compensate us for the loss of
everything that give worth to our condition; this we are not yet
able to discern in this way, nor do we see how it is possible so to
act--in other words, whence the moral law derives its obligation.

It must be freely admitted that there is a sort of circle here from
which it seems impossible to escape. In the order of efficient
causes we assume ourselves free, in order that in the order of ends
we may conceive ourselves as subject to moral laws: and we
afterwards conceive ourselves as subject to these laws, bjecause we
have attributed to ourselves freedom of will: for freedom and self-
legislation of will are both autonomy, and therefore are reciprocal
conceptions, and for this very reason one must not be used to
explain the other or give the reason of it, but at most only for
logical purposes to reduce apparently different notions of the same
object to one single concept (as we reduce different fractions of
the same value to the lowest terms).

One resource retrains to us, namely, to inquire whether we do not
occupy different points of view when by means of freedom we think
ourselves as causes efficient a priori, and when we form our
conception of ourselves from our actions as effects which we see
before our eyes.

It is a remark which needs no subtle reflection to make, but which
we may assume that even the commonest understanding can make,
although it be after its fashion by an obscure discernment of
judgment which it calls feeling, that all the "ideas" [Footnote: The
common understanding being here spoken of, I use the word "idea" in
its popular sense.] that comes to us involuntarily (as those of the
senses) do not enable us to know objects otherwise than as they
affect us; so that what they may be in themselves remains unknown to
us, and consequently that as regards "ideas" of this kind even with
the closest attention and clearness that the understanding can apply
to them, we can by them only attain to the knowledge of appearances,
never to that of things in themselves. As soon as this distinction
has once been made (perhaps merely in consequence of the difference
observed between the ideas given us from without, and in which we
are passive, and those that we produce simply from ourselves, and in
which we show our own activity), then it follows of itself that we
must admit and assume behind the appearance something else that is
not an appearance, namely, the things in themselves; although we
must admit that as they can never be known to us except as they
affect us, we can come no nearer to them, nor can we ever know what
they are in themselves. This must furnish a distinction, however
crude, between a world of sense and the world of understanding, of
which the former may be different according to the difference of the
sensuous impressions in--various observers, while the second which
is its basis always remains the same. Even as to himself, a man
cannot pretend to know what he is in himself from the knowledge he
has by internal sensation. For as he does not as it were create
himself, and does not come by the conception of himself a priori but
empirically, it naturally follows that he can obtain his knowledge
even of himself only by the inner sense, and consequently only
through the appearances of his nature and the way in which his
consciousness is affected. At the same time beyond these
characteristics of his own subject, made up of mere appearances, he
must necessarily suppose something else as their basis, namely, his
ego, whatever its characteristics in itself may be. Thus in respect
to mere perception and receptivity of sensations he must reckon
himself as belonging to the world of sense, but in respect of
whatever there may be of pure activity in him (that which reaches
consciousness immediately and not through affecting the senses) he
must reckon himself as belonging to the intellectual world, of
which, however, he has no further knowledge. To such a conclusion
the reflecting man must come with respect ito all the things which
can be presented to him: it is probably to be met with even in
persons of the commonest understanding, who, as is well known, are
very much inclined to suppose behind the objects of the senses
something else invisible and acting of itself. They spoil it,
however, by presently sensualizing this invisible again; that is to
say, wanting to make it an object of intuition, so that they do not
become a whit the wiser.

Now man really finds in himself a faculty by which he distinguishes
himself from everything else, even from himself as affected by
objects, and that is Reason. This being pure spontaneity is even
elevated above the understanding. For although the latter is a
spontaneity and does not, like sense, merely contain intuitions that
arise when we are affected by things (and are therefore passive),
yet it cannot produce from its activity any other conceptions than
those which merely serve to bring the intuitions of sense under
rulesf and thereby to unite them in one consciousness, and without
this use of the sensibility it could not think at all; whereas, on
the contrary, Reason shows so pure a spontaneity in the case of what
I call Ideas [Ideal Conceptions] that it thereby far transcends
everything that the sensibility can give it, and exhibits its most
important function in distinguishing the world of sense from that of
understanding, and thereby prescribing the limits of the
understanding itself.

For this reason a rational being must regard himself qua
intelligence (not from the side of his lower faculties) as belonging
not to the world of sense, but to that of understanding; hence he
has two points of view from which he can regard himself, and
recognise laws of the exercise of his faculties, and consequently of
all his actions: first, so far as he belongs to the world of sense,
he finds himself subject to laws of nature (heteronomy); secondly,
as belonging to the intelligible world, under laws which being
independent on nature have their foundation not in experience but in
reason alone.

As a rational being, and consequently belonging to the intelligible
world, man can never conceive the causality of his own will
otherwise than on condition of the idea of freedom. for independence
on the determining causes of the sensible world (an independence
which Reason must always ascribe to itself) is freedom. Now the idea
of freedom is inseparably connected with the conception of autonomy,
and this again with the universal principle of morality which is
ideally the foundation of all actions of rational beings, just as
the law of nature is of all phenomena.

Now the suspicion is removed which we raised above, that there was a
latent circle involved in our reasoning from freedom to autonomy,
and from this to the moral law, viz.: that we laid down the idea of
freedom because of the moral law only that we might afterwards in
turn infer the latter from freedom and that consequently we could
assign no reason at all for this law, but could only [present]
[Footnote: The verb is wanting in the original.] it as a petitio
principii which well disposed minds would gladly concede to us, but
which we could never put forward as a provable proposition. For now
we see that when we conceive ourselves as free we transfer ourselves
into the--world of understanding as members of it, and recognise the
autonomy of the will with its consequence, morality; whereas, if we
conceive ourselves as under obligation we consider ourselves as
belonging to the world of sense, and at the same time to the world
of understanding.

How is a Categorical Imperative Possible?

Every rational being reckons himself qua intelligence as belonging
to the world of understanding, and it is simply as an efficient
cause belonging to that world that he calls his causality a will. On
the other side he is also conscious of himself as a part of the
world of sense in which his actions which are mere appearances
[phenomena] of that causality are displayed; we cannot, however,
discern how they are possible from this causality which we do not
know; but instead of that, these actions as belonging to the
sensible world must be viewed as determined by other phenomena,
namely,--desires and inclinations. If therefore I were only a member
of the world of understanding, then all my actions would perfectly
conform to the principle of autonomy of the pure will; if I were
only a part of the world of sense they would necessarily be assumed
to conform wholly to the natural law of desires and inclinations, in
other words, to the heteronomy of nature. (The former would rest on
morality as the supreme principle, the latter on happiness.), Since,
however, the world of understanding contains the foundation of the
world of sense, and consequently of its laws alsof and accordingly
gives the law to my will (which belongs wholly to the world of
understanding) directly, and must be conceived as doing so, it
follows that, although on the one side I must regard myself as a
being belonging to the world of sense, yet on the other side I must
recognise myself as subject as an intelligence to the law of the
world of understanding, i. e., to reason, which contains this law in
the idea of freedom, and therefore as subject to the autonomy of the
will: consequently I must regard the laws of the world of
understanding as imperatives for me, and the actions which conform
to them as duties.

And thus what makes categorical imperatives possible is this, that
the idea of freedom makes me a member of an intelligible world, in
consequence of which if I were nothing else all my actions would
always conform to the autonomy of the will; but as I at the same
time intuite myself as a member of the world of sense, they ought so
to conform, and this categorical "ought" implies a synthetic a
priori proposition, inasmuch as besides my will as affected by
sensible desires there is added further the idea of the same will
but as belonging to the world of the understanding, pure and
practical of itself, which contains the supreme condition according
to Reason of the former will; precisely as to the intuitions of
sense there are added concepts of the understanding which of
themselves signify nothing but regular form in general, and in this
way synthetic a priori propositions become possible, on which all
knowledge of physical nature rests.

The practical use of common human reason confirms this reasoning.
There is no one, not even the most consummate villain, provided only
that he is otherwise accustomed to the use of reason, who, when we
set before him examples of tionesty of purposea of steadfastness in
following good maxims, of sympathy and general benevolence (even
combined with great sacrifices of advantages and comfort), does not
wish that he might also possess these qualities. Only on account of
his inclinations and impulses he cannot attain this in himself, but
at the same time he wishes to be free from such inclinations which
are burdensome to himself. He proves by this that he transfers
himself in thought with a will free from the impulses of--the
sensibility into an order of things wholly different from that of
his desires in the field of the sensibility; since he cannot expect
to obtain by that wish any gratification of his desires, nor any
position which would satisfy any of his actual or supposable
inclinations (for this would destroy the pre-eminence of the very
idea which wrests that wish from him): he can only expect a greater
intrinsic worth of his own person. This better person, however, he
imagines himself to be when he transfers himself to the point of
view of a member of the world of the understanding, to which he is
involuntarily forced by the idea of freedom, i. e., of independence
on determining causes of the world of sense; and from this point of
view he is conscious of a good will, which by his own confession
constitutes the law for the bad will that he possesses as a member
of the world of sense-a law whose authority he recognises while
transgressing it. What he morally "ought" is then what he
necessarily "would" as a member of the world of the understanding,
and is conceived by him as an "ought" only inasmuch as he likewise
considers himself as a member of the world of sense.

On the Extreme Limits of all Practical Philosophy

All men attribute to themselves freedom of will. Hence come all
judgments upon actions as being such as ought to have been done,
although they have not been done. However, this freedom is not a
conception of experience, nor can it be so, since it still remains,
even though experience shows the contrary of what on supposition of
freedom are conceived as its necessary consequences. On the other
side it is equally necessary that everything that takes place should
be fixedly determined according to laws of nature. This necessity of
nature is likewise tot an empirical conception, just for this
reason, that it involves the motion of necessity and consequently of
a priori cognition. But this conception of a system of nature is
confirmed by experience, and it must even be inevitably presupposed
if experience itself is to be possible, that is, a connected
knowledge of the objects of sense resting on general laws. Therefore
freedom is only an Idea [Ideal Conception] of Reason, and its
objective reality in itself is doubtful, while nature is a concept
of the understanding which proves, and must necessarily prove, its
reality in examples of experience.

There arises from this a dialectic of Reason, since the freedom
attributed to the will appears to contradict the necessity of
nature, and placed between these two ways Reason for speculative
purposes finds the road of physical necessity much more beaten and
more appropriate than that of freedom; yet for practical purposes
the narrow footpath of freedom is the only one on which it is
possible to make use of reason in our conduct; hence it is just as
impossible for the subtlest philosophy as for the commonest reason
of men to argue away freedom. Philosophy must then assume that no
real contradiction will be found between freedom and physical
necessity of the same human actions, for it cannot give up the
conception of nature any more than that of freedom.

Nevertheless, even though we should never be able to comprehend how
freedom is possible, we must at least remove this apparent
contradiction in a convincing manner. For if the thought of freedom
contradicts either itself or nature, which is equally necessary, it
must in competition with physical necessity be entirely given up.

It would, however, be impossible to escape this contradiction if the
thinking subject, which seems to itself free, conceived itself in
the same sense or in the very same relation when it calls itself
free as when in respect of the same action it assumes itself to be
subject to the law of nature. Hence it is an indispensable problem
of speculative philosophy to show that its illusion respecting the
contradiction rests on this, that we think of man in a different
sense and relation when we call him free, and when we regard him as
subject to the laws of nature as being part and parcel of nature. It
must, therefore, show that not only can both these very well co-
exist, but that both must be thought as necessarily united in the
same subject, since otherwise no reason could be given why we should
burden reason with an idea which, though it may possibly without
contradiction be reconciled with another that is sufficiently
established, yet entangles us in a perplexity which sorely
embarrasses Reason in its theoretic employment. This duty, however,
belongs only to speculative philosophy, in order that it may clear
the way for practical philosophy. The philosopher then has no option
whether he will remove the apparent contradiction or leave it
untouched; for in fhe latter case the theory respecting this would
be bonum vacans into the possession of which the fatalist would have
a right to enter, and chase all morality out of its supposed domain
as occupying it without title.

We cannot, however, as yet say that we are touching the bounds of
practical philosophy. For the settlement of that controversy does
not belong to it; it only demands from speculative reason $hat it
should put an end to the discord in which it entangles itself in
theoretical questions, so that practical reason may have rest and
security from external attacks which might make the ground debatable
on which it desires to build.

The claims to freedom of will made even by common reason are founded
on the consciousness and the admitted supposition that reason is
independent on merely subjectively determined causes which together
Constitute what belongs to sensation only, and which consequently
come under the general designation of sensibility. Man considering
himself in this way as an intelligence, places himself thereby in a
different order of things and in a relation to determining grounds
of a wholly different kind when on the one hand he thinks of himself
as an intelligence endowed with a will, and consequently with
causality, and when on the other he perceives himself as a
phenomenon in the world of sense (as he really is also), and affirms
that his causality is subject to external determination according to
laws of nature. [Footnote: The punctuation of the original gives the
following sense: "Submits his causality, as regards its external
determination, to laws of nature." have ventured to make what
appears to be a necessary correction, by simply removing a comma.]
Now he soon becomes aware that both can hold good, nay, must hold
good at the same time. For there is not the smallest contradiction
in saying that a thing in appearance (belonging to the world of
sense) is subject to certain laws, on which the very same as a thing
or being in itself is independent; and that he must conceive and
think of himself in this twofold way, rests as to the first on the
consciousness of himself as an object affected through the senses,
and as to the second on the consciousness of himself as an
intelligence, i. e., as independent on sensible impressions in the
employment of his reason (in other words as belonging to the world
of understanding).

Hence it comes to pass that man claims the possession of a will
which takes no account of anything that comes under the head of
desires and inclinations, and on the contrary conceives actions as
possible to him, nay, even as necessary, which can only be done by
disregarding all desires and sensible inclinations. The causality of
such actions [Footnote: M. Barni translates as if he read desselben
instead of derselben, "the causality of this will." So also Mr.
Semple.] lies in him as an intelligence and in the laws of effects
and actions [which depend] on the principles of an intelligible
world, of which indeed he knows nothing more than that in it pure
reason alone independent on sensibility gives the law; moreover
since it is only in that world, as an intelligence, that he is his
proper self (being as man only the appearance of himself) those laws
apply to him directly and categorically, so that the incitements of
inclinations and appetites (in other words the whole nature of the
world of sense) cannot impair the laws of his volition as an
intelligence. Nay, he does not even hold himself responsible for the
former or ascribe them to his proper self, i. e., his will: he only
ascribes to his will any indulgence which he might yield them if he
allowed them to influence his maxims to the prejudice of the
rational laws of the will.

When practical Reason thinks itself into a world of understanding it
does not thereby transcend its own limits, as it would if it tried
to enter it by intuition or sensation. The former is only a negative
thought in respect of the world of sense, which does not give any
laws to reason in determining the will, and is positive only in this
single point that this freedom as a negative characteristic is at
the same time conjoined with a (positive) faculty and even with a
causality of reason, which we designate a will, namely, a faculty of
so acting that the principle of the actions shall conform to the
essential character of a rational motive, i. e., the condition that
the maxim have universal validity as a law. But were it to borrow an
object of will, that is, a motive, from the world of understanding,
then it would overstep its bounds and pretend to be acquainted with
something of which it knows nothing. The conception of a world of
the understanding is then only a point of view which Reason finds
itself compelled to take outside the appearances in order to
conceive itself as practical, which would not be possible if the
influences of the sensibility had a determining power on man, but
which is necessary unless he is to be denied the consciousness of
himself as an intelligence, and consequently as a rational cause,
energizing by reason, that is, operating freely. This thought
certainly involves the idea of an order and a system of laws
different from that of the mechanism of nature which belongs to the
sensible world, and it makes the conception of an intelligible world
necessary (that is to say, the whole system of rational beings as
things in themselves). But it does not in the least authorize us to
think of it further than as to its formal condition only, that is,
the universality of the maxims of the will as laws, and consequently
the autonomy of the latter, which alone is consistent with its
freedom; whereas, on the contrary, all laws that refer to a definite
object give heteronomy, which only belongs to laws of nature, and
can only apply to the sensible world.

But Reason would overstep all its bounds if it undertook to explain
how pure reason can be practical, which would be exactly the same
problem as to explain how freedom is possible.

For we can explain nothing but that which we can reduce to laws, the
object of which can be given in some possible experience. But
freedom is a mere Idea [Ideal Conception], the objective reality of
which can in no wise be shown according to laws of nature, and
consequently not in any possible experience; and for this reason it
can never be comprehended or understood, because we cannot support
it by any sort of example or analogy. It holds good only as a
necessary hypothesis of reason in a being that believes itself
conscious of a will, that is, of a faculty distinct from mere desire
(namely, a faculty of determining itself to action as an
intelligence), in other words, by laws of reason independently on
natural instincts. Now where determination according to laws of
nature ceases, there all explanation ceases also, and nothing
remains but defence, i. e. the removal of the objections of those
who pretend to have seen deeper into the nature of things, and
thereupon boldly declare freedom impossible. We can only point out
to them that the supposed contradiction that they have discovered in
it arises only from this, that in order to be able to apply the law
of nature to human actions, they must necessarily consider man as an
appearance: then when we demand of them that they should also think
of him qua intelligence as a thing in itself, they still persist in
considering him in this respect also as an appearance. In this view
it would no doubt be a contradiction to suppose the causality of the
same subject (that is, his will) to be withdrawn from all the
natural laws of the sensible world. But this contradiction
disappears, if they would only bethink themselves and admit, as is
reasonable, that behind the appearances there must also lie at their
root (although hidden) the things in themselves, and that we cannot
expect the laws of these to be the same as those that govern their

The subjective impossibility of explaining the freedom of the will
is identical with the impossibility of discovering and explaining an
interest [Footnote: Interest is that by which reason becomes
practical, i. e., a cause determining the will. Hence we say of
rational beings only that they take an interest in a thing;
irrational beings only feel sensual appetites. Reason takes a direct
interest in action then only when the universal validity of its
maxims is alone sufficient to determine the will. Such an interest
alone is pure. But if it can determine the will only by means of
another object of desire or on the suggestion of a particular
feeling of the subject, then Reason takes only an indirect interest
in the action, and as Reason by itself without experience cannot
discover either objects of the will or a Special feeling actuating
it, this latter interest would only be empirical, and not a pure
rational interest. The logical interest of Reason (namely, to extend
its insight) is never direct, but presupposes purposes for which
reason is employed.] which man can take in the moral law.
Nevertheless he does actually take an interest in it, the basis of
which in us we call the moral feeling, which some have falsely
assigned as the standard of our moral judgment, whereas it must
rather be viewed as the subjective effect that the law exercises on
the will, the objective principle of which is furnished by Reason

In order indeed that a rational being who is also affected through
the senses should will what Reason alone directs such beings that
they ought to will, it is no doubt requisite that reason should have
a power to infuse a feeling of pleasure or satisfaction in the
fulfilment of duty, that is to say, that it should have a causality
by which it determines the sensibility according to its own
principles. But it is quite impossible to discern, i. e., to make it
intelligible a priori, how a mere thought, which itself contains
nothing sensible, can itself produce a sensation of pleasure or
pain; for this is a particular kind of causality of which as of
every other causality we can determine nothing whatever a priori, we
must only consult experience about it. But as this cannot supply us
with any relation of cause and effect except between two objects of
experience, whereas in this case, although indeed the effect
produced lies within experience, yet the cause is supposed to be
pure reason acting through mere ideas which offer no object to
experience, it follows that for us men it is quite impossible to
explain how and why the universality of the maxim as a law, that is,
morality, interests. This only is certain, that it is not because it
interests us that it has validity for us (for that would be
heteronomy and dependence of practical reason on sensibility,
namely, on a feeling as its principle, in which case it could never
give moral laws), but that it interests us because it is valid for
us as men, inasmuch as it had its source in our will as
intelligences, in other words in our proper self, and what belongs
to mere appearance is necessarily subordinated by reason to the
nature of the thing in itself.

The question then: How a categorical imperative is possible can be
answered to this extent that we can assign the only hypothesis on
which it is possible, namely, the idea of freedom; and we can also
discern the necessity of this hypothesis, and this is sufficient for
the practical exercise of reason, that is, for the conviction of the
validity of this imperative, and hence of the moral law; but how
this hypothesis itself is possible can never be discerned by any
human reason. On the hypothesis, however, that the will of an
intelligence is free, its autonomy, as the essential formal
condition of its determination, is a necessary consequence.
Moreover, this freedom of will is not merely quite possible as a
hypothesis (not involving any contradiction to the principle of
physical necessity in the connexion of the phenomena of the sensible
world) as speculative philosophy can show: but further, a rational
being who is conscious of a causality [Footnote: Reading "einer" for
"seiner."] through reason, that is to say, of a will (distinct from
desires), must of necessity make it practically, that is, in idea,
the condition of all his voluntary actions. But to explain how pure
reason can be of itself practical without the aid of any spring of
action that could be derived from any other source, i. e. how the
mere principle of the universal validity of all its maxims as laws
(which would certainly be the form of a pure practical reason) can
of itself supply a spring, without any matter (object) of the will
in which one could antecedently take any interest; and how it can
produce an interest which would be called purely moral; or in other
words, how pure reason can be practical--to explain this is beyond
the power of human reason, and all the labour and pains of seeking
an explanation of it are lost.

It is just the same as if I sought to find out how freedom itself is
possible as the causality of a will. For then I quit the ground of
philosophical explanation, and I have no other to go upon. I might
indeed revel in the world of intelligences which still remains to
me, but although I have an idea of it which is well founded, yet I
have not the least knowledge of it, nor can I ever attain to such
knowledge with all the efforts of my natural faculty of reason. It
signifies only a something that remains over when I have eliminated
everything belonging to the world of sense from the actuating
principles of my will, serving merely to keep in bounds the
principle of motives taken from the field of sensibility; fixing its
limits and showing that it does not contain all in all within
itself, but that there is more beyond it; but this something more I
know no further. Of pure reason which frames this ideal, there
remains after the abstraction of all matter, i. e., knowledge of
objects, nothing but the form, namely, the practical law of the
universality of the maxims, and in conformity with this the
conception of reason in reference to a pure world of understanding
as a possible efficient cause, that is a cause determining the will.
There must here be a total absence of springs; unless this idea of
an intelligible world is itself the spring, or that in which reason
primarily takes an interest; but to make this intelligible is
precisely the problem that we cannot solve.

Here now is the extreme limit of all moral inquiry, and it is of
great importance to determine it even on this account, in order that
reason may not on the one hand, to the prejudice of morals, seek
about in the world of sense for the supreme motive and an interest
comprehensible but empirical; and on the other hand, that it may not
impotently flap its wings without being able to move in the (for it)
empty space of transcendent concepts which we call the intelligible
world, and so lose itself amidst chimeras. For the rest, the idea of
a pure world of understanding as a system of all intelligences, and
to which we ourselves as tational beings belong (although we are
likewise on the other side members of the sensible world), this
remains always a useful and legitimate idea for the purposes of
rational belief, although all knowledge stops at its threshold,
useful, namely, to produce in us a lively interest in the moral law
by means of the noble ideal of a universal kingdom of ends in
themselves (rational beings), to which we can belong as members then
only when we carefully conduct ourselves according to the maxims of
freedom as if they were laws of nature.

Concluding Remark

The speculative employment of reason with respect to nature leads to
the absolute necessity of some supreme cause of the world: the
practical employment of reason with a view to freedom leads also to
absolute necessity, but only of the laws of the actions of a
rational being as such. Now it is an essential principle of reason,
however employed, to push its knowledge to a consciousness of its
necessity (without which it would not be rational knowledge). It is
however an equally essential restriction of the same reason that it
can neither discern the necessity of what is or what happens, nor of
what ought to happen, unless a condition is supposed on which it is
or happens or ought to happen. In this way, however, by the constant
inquiry for the condition, the satisfaction of reason is only
further and further postponed. Hence it unceasingly seeks the
unconditionally necessary, and finds itself forced to assume it,
although without any means of making it comprehensible to itself,
happy enough if only it can discover a conception which agrees with
this assumption. It is therefore no fault in our deduction of the
supreme principle of morality, but an objection that should be made
to human reason in general, that it cannot enable us to conceive the
absolute necessity of an unconditional practical law (such as the
categorical imperative must be). It cannot be blamed for refusing to
explain this necessity by a condition, that is to say, by means of
some interest assumed as a basis, since the law would then cease to
be a moral law, i. e. a supreme law of freedom. And thus while we do
not comprehend the practical unconditional necessity of the moral
imperative, we yet comprehend its incomprehensibility, and this is
all that can be fairly demanded of a philosophy which strives to
carry its principles up to the very limit of human reason.




Giuseppe Mazzini, the great political idealist of the Italian
struggle for independence, was born at Genoa, June 22, 1805. His
faith in democracy and his enthusiasm for a free Italy he inherited
from his parents; and while still a student in the University of
Genoa he gathered round him a circle of youths who shared his
dreams. At the age of twenty-two he joined the secret society of the
Carbonari, and was sent on a mission to Tuscany, where he was
entrapped and arrested. On his release, he set about the formation,
among the Italian exiles in Marseilles, of the Society of Young
Italy, which had for its aim the establishment of a free and united
Italian republic. His activities led to a decree for his banishment
from France, but he succeeded in outwitting the spies of the
Government and going on with his work. The conspiracy for a national
rising planned by Young Italy was discovered, many of the leaders
were executed, and Mazsini himself condemned to death.

Almost at once, however, he resumed operations, working this time
from Geneva; but another abortive expedition led to his expulsion
from Switzerland. He found refuge, but at first hardly a livelihood,
in London, where he continued his propaganda by means of his pen. He
went back to Italy when the revolution of 1848 broke out, and fought
fiercely but in vain against the French, when they besieged Rome and
ended the Roman Republic in 1849.

Defeated and broken, he returned to England, where he remained till
called to Italy by the insurrection of 1857. He worked with
Garibaldi for some time; but the kingdom established under Victor
Emmanuel by Cavour and Garibaldi was far from the ideal Italy for
which Mazsini had striven. The last years of his life were spent
mainly in London, but at the end he returned to Italy, where he died
on March 10,1872. Hardly has any age seen a political martyr of a
purer or nobler type.

Massini's essay on Byron and Goethe is more than literary criticism,
for it exhibits that philosophical quality which gives so remarkable
a unity to the writings of Massini, whether literary, social, or


I stood one day in a Swiss village at the foot of the Jura, and
watched the coming of the storm. Heavy black clouds, their edges
purpled by the setting sun, were rapidly covering the loveliest sky
in Europe, save that of Italy. Thunder growled in the distance, and
gusts of biting wind were driving huge drops of rain over the
thirsty plain. Looking upwards, I beheld a large Alpine falcon, now
rising, now sinking, as he floated bravely in the very midst of the
storm and I could almost fancy that he strove to battle with it. At
every fresh peal of thunder, the noble bird bounded higher aloft, as
if in answering defiance. I followed him with my eyes for a long
time, until he disappeared in the east. On the ground, about fifty
paces beneath me, stood a stork; perfectly tranquil and impassive in
the midst of the warring elements. Twice or thrice she turned her
head towards the quarter from whence the wind came, with an
indescribable air of half indifferent curiosity; but at length she
drew up one of her long sinewy legs, hid her head beneath her wing,
and calmly composed herself to sleep.

I thought of Byron and Goethe; of the stormy sky that overhung both;
of the tempest-tossed existence, the lifelong struggle, of the one,
and the calm of the other; and of the two mighty sources of poetry
exhausted and closed by them.

Byron and Goethe--the two names that predominate, and, come what
may, ever will predominate, over our every recollection of the fifty
years that have passed away. They rule; the master-minds, I might
almost say the tyrants, of a whole period of poetry; brilliant, yet
sad; glorious in youth and daring, yet cankered by the worm in the
bud, despair. They are the two representative poets of two great
schools; and around them we are compelled to group all the lesser
minds which contributed to render the era illustrious. The qualities
which adorn and distinguish their works are to be found, although
more thinly scattered, in other poets their contemporaries; still
theirs are the names that involuntarily rise to our lips whenever we
seek to characterize the tendencies of the age in which they lived.
Their genius pursued different, even opposite routes; and yet very
rarely do our thoughts turn to either without evoking the image of
the other, as a sort of necessary complement to the first. The eyes
of Europe were fixed upon the pair, as the spectators gaze on two
mighty wrestlers in the same arena; and they, like noble and
generous adversaries, admired, praised, and held out the hand to
each other. Many poets have followed in their footsteps; none have
been so popular. Others have found judges and critics who have
appreciated them calmly and impartially; not so they: for them there
have been only enthusiasts or enemies, wreaths or stones; and when
they vanished into the vast night that envelops and transforms alike
men and things--silence reigned around their tombs. Little by
little, poetry had passed away from our world, and it seemed as if
their last sigh had extinguished the sacred flame.

A reaction has now commenced; good, in so far as it reveals a desire
for and promise of new life; evil, in so far as it betrays narrow
views, a tendency to injustice towards departed genius, and the
absence of any fixed rule or principle to guide our appreciation of
the past. Human judgment, like Luther's drunken peasant, when saved
from falling on one side, too often topples over on the other. The
reaction against Goethe, in his own country especially, which was
courageously and justly begun by Menzel during his lifetime, has
been carried to exaggeration since his death. Certain social
opinions, to which I myself belong, but which, although founded on a
sacred principle, should not be allowed to interfere with the
impartiality of our judgment, have weighed heavily in the balance;
and many young, ardent, and enthusiastic minds of our day have
reiterated with Bonne that Goethe is the worst of despots; the
cancer of the German body.

The English reaction against Byron--I do not speak of that mixture
of cant and stupidity which denies the poet his place in Westminster
Abbey, but of literary reaction--has shown itself still more
unreasoning. I have met with adorers of Shelley who denied the
poetic genius of Byron; others who seriously compared his poems with
those of Sir Walter Scott. One very much overrated critic writes
that "Byron makes man after his own image, and woman after his own
heart; the one is a capricious tyrant, the other a yielding slave."
The first forgot the verses in which their favorite hailed

    "The pilgrim of eternity, whose fame
     Over his living head like Heaven is bent;"
     [Footnote: Adonais.]

the second, that after the appearance of "The Giaour" and "Childe
Harold," Sir Walter Scott renounced writing poetry. [Footnote:
Lockhart.] The last forgot that while he was quietly writing
criticisms, Byron was dying for new-born liberty in Greece. All
judged, too many in each country still judge, the two poets, Byron
and Goethe, after an absolute type of the beautiful, the true, or
the false, which they had formed in their own minds; without regard
to the state of social relations as they were or are; without any
true conception of the destiny or mission of poetry, or of the law
by which it, and every other artistic manifestation of human life,
is governed.

There is no absolute type on earth: the absolute exists in the
Divine Idea alone; the gradual comprehension of which man is
destined to attain; although its complete realization is impossible
on earth; earthly life being but one stage of the eternal evolution
of life, manifested in thought and action; strengthened by all the
achievements of the past, and advancing from age to age towards a
less imperfect expression of that idea. Our earthly life is one
phase of the eternal aspiration of the soul towards progress, which
is our law ascending in increasing power and purity from the finite
towards the infinite; from the real towards the Ideal; from that
which is, towards that which is to come. In the immense storehouse
of the past evolutions of life constituted by universal tradition,
and in the prophetic instinct brooding in the depths of the human
soul, does poetry seek inspiration. It changes with the times, for
it is their expression; it is transformed with society, for--
consciously or unconsciously--it sings the lay of Humanity;
although, according to the individual bias or circumstances of the
singer, it assumes the hues of the present, or of the future in
course of elaboration, and foreseen by the inspiration of genius. It
sings now a dirge and now a cradle song; it initiates or sums up.

Byron and Goethe summed up. Was it a defect in them? No; it was the
law of the times, and yet society at the present day, twenty years
after they have ceased to sing, assumes to condemn them for having
been born too soon. Happy indeed are the poets whom God raises up at
the commencement of an era, under the rays of the rising sun. A
series of generations will lovingly repeat their verses, and
attribute to them the new life which they did but foresee in the

Byron and Goethe summed up. This is at once the philosophical
explanation of their works, and the secret of their popularity. The
spirit of an entire epoch of the European world became incarnate in
them ere its decease, even as--in the political sphere--the spirit
of Greece and Rome became incarnate before death in Caesar and
Alexander. They were the poetic expression of that principle, of
which England was the economic, France the political, and Germany
the philosophic expression: the last formula, effort, and result of
a society founded on the principle of individuality. That epoch, the
mission of which had been, first through the labors of Greek
philosophy, and afterwards through Christianity, to rehabilitate,
emancipate, and develop individual man--appears to have concentrated
in them, in Fichte, in Adam Smith, and in the French school des
drolls de l'homme, its whole energy and power, in order fully to
represent and express all that it had achieved for mankind. It was
much; but it was not the whole; and therefore it was doomed to pass
away. The epoch of individuality was deemed near the goal; when low
immense horizons were revealed; vast unknown lands in whose
untrodden forests the principle of individuality was an insufficient
guide. By the long and painful labors of that epoch the human
unknown quantity had been disengaged from the various quantities of
different nature by which it had been surrounded; but only to be
left weak, isolated, and recoiling in terror from the solitude in
which it stood. The political schools of the epoch had proclaimed
the sole basis of civil organization to be the right to liberty and
equality (liberty for all), but they had encountered social anarchy
by the way. The philosophy of the epoch had asserted the sovereignty
of the human Ego, and had ended in the mere adoration of fact, in
Hegelian immobility. The Economy of the epoch imagined it had
organized free competition, while it had but organized the
oppression of the weak by the strong; of labor by capital; of
poverty by wealth. The Poetry of the epoch had represented
individuality in its every phase; had translated in sentiment what
science had theoretically demonstrated; and it had encountered the
void. But as society at last discovered that the destinies of the
race were not contained in a mere problem of liberty, but rather in
the harmonization of liberty with association--so did poetry
discover that the life it had hitherto drawn from individuality
alone was doomed to perish for want of aliment; and that its future
existence depended on enlarging and transforming its sphere. Both
society and poetry uttered a cry of despair: the death-agony of a
form of society produced the agitation we have seen constantly
increasing in Europe since 1815: the death-agony of a form of poetry
evoked Byron and Goethe. I believe this point of view to be the only
one that can lead us to a useful and impartial appreciation of these
two great spirits.

There are two forms of individuality; the expressions of its
internal and external, or--as the Germans would say--of its
subjective and objective life. Byron was the poet of the first,
Goethe of the last. In Byron the Ego is revealed in all its pride of
power, freedom, and desire, in the uncontrolled plenitude of all its
faculties; inhaling existence at every pore, eager to seize "the
life of life." The world around him neither rules nor tempers him.
The Byronian Ego aspires to rule it; but solely for dominion's sake,
to exercise upon it the Titanic force of his will. Accurately
speaking, he cannot be said to derive from it either color, tone, or
image; for it is he who colors; he who sings; he whose image is
everywhere reflected and reproduced. His poetry emanates from his
own soul; to be thence diffused upon things external; he holds his
state in the centre of the universe, and from thence projects the
light radiating from the depths of his own mind; as scorching and
intense as the concentrated solar ray. Hence that terrible unity
which only the superficial reader could mistake for monotony.

Byron appears at the close of one epoch, and before the dawn of the
other; in the midst of a community based upon an aristocracy which
has outlived the vigor of its prime; surrounded by a Europe
containing nothing grand, unless it be Napoleon on one side and Pitt
on the other, genius degraded to minister to egotism; intellect
bound to the service of the past. No seer exists to foretell the
future: belief is extinct; there is only its pretence: prayer is no
more; there is only a movement of the lips at a fixed day or hour,
for the sake of the family, or what is called the people; love is no
more; desire has taken its place; the holy warfare of ideas is
abandoned; the conflict is that of interests. The worship of great
thoughts has passed away. That which is, raises the tattered banner
of some corpse-like traditions; that which would be, hoists only the
standard of physical wants, of material appetites: around him are
ruins, beyond him the desert; the horizon is a blank. A long cry of
suffering and indignation bursts from the heart of Byron: he is
answered by anathemas. He departs; he hurries through Europe in
search of an ideal to adore; he traverses it distracted,
palpitating, like Mazeppa on the wild horse; borne onwards by a
fierce desire; the wolves of envy and calumny follow in pursuit. He
visits Greece; he visits Italy; if anywhere a lingering spark of the
sacred fire, a ray of divine poetry, is preserved, it must be there.
Nothing. A glorious past, a degraded present; none of life's poetry;
no movement, save that of the sufferer turning on his couch to
relieve his pain. Byron, from the solitude of his exile, turns his
eyes again towards England; he sings. What does he sing? What
springs from the mysterious and unique conception which rules, one
would say in spite of himself, over all that escapes him in his
sleepless vigil? The funeral hymn, the death-song, the epitaph of
the aristocratic idea; we discovered it, we Continentalists; not his
own countrymen. He takes his types from amongst those privileged by
strength, beauty, and individual power. They are grand, poetical,
heroic, but solitary; they hold no communion with the world around
them, unless it be to rule, over it; they defy alike the good and
evil principle; they "will bend to neither." In life and in death
"they stand upon their strength;" they resist every power, for their
own is all their, own; it was purchased by

     "Superior science--penance--daring-
     And length of watching-strength of mind--and skill
     In knowledge of our fathers."

Each of them is the personification, slightly modified, of a single
type, a single idea--the individual; free, but nothing more than
free; such as the epoch now closing has made him; Faust, but without
the compact which submits him to the enemy; for the heroes of Byron
make no such compact. Cain kneels not to Arimanes; and Manfred,
about to die, exclaims:

     "The mind, which is immortal, makes itself
      Requital for its good and evil thoughts-
      Is its own origin of ill, and end-
      And its own place and time, its innate sense,
      When stripped of this mortality, derives
      No color from the fleeting things without,
      But is absorbed in sufferance or in joy;
      Born from the knowledge of its own desert."

They have no kindred: they live from their own life only they
repulse humanity, and regard the crowd with disdain. Each of them
says: "I have faith in myself"; never, "I have faith in ourselves."
They all aspire to power or to happiness. The one and the other
alike escape them; for they bear within them, untold, unacknowledged
even to themselves, the presentiment of a life that mere liberty can
never give them. Free they are; iron souls in iron frames, they
climb the Alps of the physical world as well as the Alps of thought;
still is their visage stamped with a gloomy and ineffaceable
sadness; still is their soul-whether, as in Cain and Manfred, it
plunge into the abyss of the infinite, "intoxicated with eternity,"
or scour the vast plain and boundless ocean with the Corsair and
Giaour--haunted by a secret and sleepless dread. It seems as if they
were doomed to drag the broken links of the chain they have burst
asunder, riveted to their feet. Not only in the petty society
against which they rebel does their soul feel fettered and
restrained; but even in the world of the spirit. Neither is it to
the enmity of society that they succumb; but under the assaults of
this nameless anguish; under the corroding action of potent
faculties "inferior still to their desires and their conceptions";
under the deception that comes from within. What can they do with
the liberty so painfully won? On whom, on what, expend the exuberant
vitality within them? They are alone; this is the secret of their
wretchedness and impotence. They "thirst for good"--Cain has said it
for them all--but cannot achieve it; for they have no mission, no
belief, no comprehension even of the world around them. They have
never realized the conception of Humanity in the multitudes that
have preceded, surround, and will follow after them; never thought
on their own place between the past and future; on the continuity of
labor that unites all the generations into one whole; on the common
end and aim, only to be realized by the common effort; on the
spiritual post-sepulchral life even on earth of the individual,
through the thoughts he transmits to his fellows; and, it may be--
when he lives devoted and dies. in faith--through the guardian
agency he is allowed to exercise over the loved ones left on earth.

Gifted with a liberty they know not how to use; with a power and
energy they know not how to apply; with a life whose purpose and aim
they comprehend not; they drag through their useless and convulsed
existence. Byron destroys them one after the other, as if he were
the executioner of a sentence decreed in heaven. They fall unwept,
like a withered leaf into the stream of time.

     "Nor earth nor sky shall yield a single tear,
     Nor cloud shall gather more, nor leaf shall fall,
     Nor gale breathe forth one sigh for thee, for all."

They die, as they have lived, alone; and a popular malediction
hovers round their solitary tombs.

This, for those who can read with the soul's eyes, is what Byron
sings; or rather what humanity sings through him. The emptiness of
the life and death of solitary individuality has never been so
powerfully and efficaciously summed up as in the pages of Byron. The
crowd do not comprehend him: they listen; fascinated for an instant;
then repent, and avenge their momentary transport by calumniating
and insulting the poet. His intuition of the death of a form of
society they call wounded self-love; his sorrow for all is
misinterpreted as cowardly egotism. They credit not the traces of
profound suffering revealed by his lineaments; they credit not the
presentiment of a new life which from time to time escapes his
trembling lips; they believe not in the despairing embrace in which
he grasps the material universe--stars, lakes, alps, and sea--and
identifies himself with it, and through it with God, of whom--to him
at least--it is a symbol. They do, however, take careful count of
some unhappy moments, in which, wearied out by the emptiness of
life, he has raised--with remorse I am sure--the cup of ignoble
pleasures to his lips, believing he might find forgetfulness there.
How many times have not his accusers drained this cup, without
redeeming the sin by a single virtue; without--I will not say
bearing--but without having even the capacity of appreciating the
burden which weighed on Byron! And did he not himself dash into
fragments the ignoble cup, so soon as he beheld something worthy the
devotion of his life?

Goethe--individuality in its objective life--having, like Byron, a
sense of the falsehood and evil of the world round him-followed
exactly the opposite path. After having--he, too, in his youth--
uttered a cry of anguish in his Werther; after having laid bare the
problem of the epoch in all its terrific nudity, in Faust; he
thought he had done enough, and refused to occupy himself with its
solution. It is possible that the impulse of rebellion against
social wrong and evil which burst forth for an instant in Werther
may long have held his soul in secret travail; but that he despaired
of the task of reforming it as beyond his powers. He himself
remarked in his later years, when commenting on the exclamation made
by a Frenchman on first seeing him: "That is the face of a man who
has suffered much": that he should rather have said: "That is the
face of a man who has struggled energetically;" but of this there
remains no trace in his works. Whilst Byron writhed and suffered
under the sense of the wrong and evil around him, he attained the
calm--I cannot say of victory--but of indifference. In Byron the man
always ruled, and even at times, overcame the artist: the man was
completely lost in the artist in Goethe. In him there was no
subjective life; no unity springing either from heart or head.
Goethe is an intelligence that receives, elaborates, and reproduces
the poetry affluent to him from all external objects: from all
points of the circumference; to him as centre. He dwells aloft
alone; a mighty watcher in the midst of creation. His curious
scrutiny investigates, with equal penetration and equal interest,
the depths of the ocean and the calyx of the floweret. Whether he
studies the rose exhaling its Eastern perfume to the sky, or the
ocean casting its countless wrecks upon the shore, the brow of the
poet remains equally calm: to him they are but two forms of the
beautiful; two subjects for art.

Goethe has been called a pantheist. I know not in what sense critics
apply this vague and often ill-understood word to him. There is a
materialistic pantheism and a spiritual pantheism; the pantheism of
Spinoza and that of Giordano Bruno; of St. Paul; and of many others-
-all different. But there is no poetic pantheism possible, save on
the condition of embracing the whole world of phenomena in one
unique conception: of feeling and comprehending the life of the
universe in its divine unity. There is nothing of this in Goethe.
There is pantheism in some parts of Wordsworth; in the third canto
of "Childe Harold," and in much of Shelley; but there is none in the
most admirable compositions of Goethe; wherein life, though
admirably comprehended and reproduced in each of its successive
manifestations, is never understood as a whole. Goethe is the poet
of details, not of unity; of analysis, not of synthesis. None so
able to investigate details; to set off and embellish minute and
apparently trifling points; none throw so beautiful a light on
separate parts; but the connecting link escapes him. His works
resemble a magnificent encyclopaedia, unclassified. He has felt
everything but he has never felt the whole. Happy in detecting a ray
of the beautiful upon the humblest blade of grass gemmed with dew;
happy in seizing the poetic elements of an incident the most prosaic
in appearance--he was incapable of tracing all to a common source,
and recomposing the grand ascending scale in which, to quote a
beautiful expression of Herder's "every creature is a numerator of
the grand denominator, Nature." How, indeed, should he comprehend
these things, he who had no place in his works or in his poet's
heart for humanity, by the light of which conception only can the
true worth of sublunary things be determined? "Religion and
politics," [Footnote: Goethe and his Contemporaries.] said he, "are
a troubled element for art. I have always kept myself aloof from
them as much as possible." Questions of life and death for the
millions were agitated around him; Germany re-echoed to the war
songs of Korner; Fichte, at the close of one of his lectures, seized
his musket, and joined the volunteers who were hastening (alas! what
have not the Kings made of that magnificent outburst of
nationality!) to fight the battles of their fatherland. The ancient
soil of Germany thrilled beneath their tread; he, an artist, looked
on unmoved; his heart knew no responsive throb to the emotion that
shook his country; his genius, utterly passive, drew apart from the
current that swept away entire races. He witnessed the French
Revolution in all its terrible grandeur, and saw the old world
crumble beneath its strokes; and while all the best and purest
spirits of Germany, who had mistaken the death-agony of the old
world for the birth-throes of a new, were wringing their hands at
the spectacle of dissolution, he saw in it only the subject of a
farce. He beheld the glory and the fall of Napoleon; he witnessed
the reaction of down-trodden nationalities--sublime prologue of the
grand epopee of the peoples destined sooner or later to be unfolded-
-and remained a cold spectator. He had neither learned to esteem
men, to better them, nor even to suffer with them. If we except the
beautiful type of Berlichingen, a poetic inspiration of his youth,
man, as the creature of thought and action; the artificer of the
future, so nobly sketched by Schiller in his dramas, has no
representative in his works. He has carried something--of this
nonchalance even into the manner in which his heroes conceive love.
Goethe's altar is spread with the choicest flowers, the most
exquisite perfumes, the first-fruits of nature; but the Priest is
wanting. In his work of second creation--for it cannot be denied
that such it was--he has gone through the vast circle of living and
visible things; but stopped short before the seventh day. God
withdrew from him before that time; and the creatures the poet has
evoked wander within the circle, dumb and prayerless; awaiting until
the man shall come to give them a name, and appoint them to a

No, Goethe is not the poet of Pantheism; he is a polytheist in his
method as an artist; the pagan poet of modern times. His world is,
above all things, the world of forms: a multiplied Olympus. The
Mosaic heaven and the Christian are veiled to him. Like the pagans,
he parcels out Nature into fragments, and makes of each a divinity;
like them, he worships the sensuous rather than the ideal; he looks,
touches, and listens far more than he feels. And what care and labor
are bestowed upon the plastic portion of his art! what importance is
given--I will not say to the objects themselves--but to the external
representation of objects! Has he not somewhere said that "the
beautiful is the result of happy position?"[Footnote: In the Kunst
und Alterthum, I think.]

Under this definition is concealed an entire system of poetic
materialism, substituted for the worship of the ideal; involving a
whole series of consequences, the logical result of which was to
lead Goethe to indifference, that moral suicide of some of the
noblest energies of genius. The absolute concentration of every
faculty of observation on each of the objects to be represented,
without relation to the ensemble; the entire avoidance of every
influence likely to modify the view taken of that object, became in
his hands one of the most effective means of art. The poet, in his
eyes, was neither the rushing stream a hundred times broken on its
course, that it may carry fertility to the surrounding country; nor
the brilliant flame, consuming itself in the light it sheds around
while ascending to heaven; but rather the placid lake, reflecting
alike the tranquil landscape and the thunder-cloud; its own surface
the while unruffled even by the lightest breeze. A serene and
passive calm with the absolute clearness and distinctness of
successive impressions, in each of which he was for the time wholly
absorbed, are the peculiar characteristics of Goethe. "I allow the
objects I desire to comprehend, to act tranquilly upon me," said he;
"I then observe the impression I have received from them, and I
endeavor to render it faithfully." Goethe has here portrayed his
every feature to perfection. He was in life such as Madame Von Arnim
proposed to represent him after death; a venerable old man, with a
serene, almost radiant countenance; clothed in an antique robe,
holding a lyre resting on his knees, and listening to the harmonies
drawn from it either by the hand of a genius, or the breath of the
winds. The last chords wafted his soul to the East; to the land of
inactive contemplation. It was time: Europe had become too agitated
for him.

Such were Byron and Goethe in their general characteristics; both
great poets; very different, and yet, complete as is the contrast
between them, and widely apart as are the paths they pursue,
arriving at the same point. Life and death, character and poetry,
everything is unlike in the two, and yet the one is the complement
of the other. Both are the children of fatality--for it is
especially at the close of epochs that the providential law which
directs the generations assumes towards individuals the semblance of
fatality--and compelled by it unconsciously to work out a great
mission. Goethe contemplates the world in parts, and delivers the
impressions they make upon him, one by one, as occasion presents
them. Byron looks upon the world from a single comprehensive point
of view; from the height of which he modifies in his own soul the
impressions produced by external objects, as they pass before him.
Goethe successively absorbs his own individuality in each of the
objects he reproduces. Byron stamps every object he portrays with
his own individuality. To Goethe, nature is the symphony; to Byron
it is the prelude. She furnishes to the one the entire subject; to
the other the occasion only of his verse. The one executes her
harmonies; the other composes on the theme she has suggested. Goethe
better exgresses lives; Byron life. The one is most vast; the other
more deep. The first searches everywhere for the beautiful, and
loves, above all things, harmony and repose; the other seeks the
sublime, and adores action and force. Characters, such as Coriolanus
or Luther, disturbed Goethe. I know not if, in his numerous pieces
of criticism, he has ever spoken of Dante; but assuredly he must
have shared the antipathy felt for him by Sir Walter Scott; and
although he would undoubtedly have sufficiently respected his genius
to admit him into his Pantheon, yet he would certainly have drawn a
veil between his mental eye and the grand but sombre figure of the
exiled seer, who dreamed of the future empire of the world for his
country, and of the world's harmonious development under her
guidance. Byron loved and drew inspiration from Dante. He also loved
Washington and Franklin, and followed, with all the sympathies of a
soul athirst for action, the meteor-like career of the greatest
genius of action our age has produced, Napoleon; feeling indignant--
perhaps mistakenly--that he did not die in the struggle.

When travelling in that second fatherland of all poetic souls--
Italy--the poets still pursued divergent routes; the one experienced
sensations; the other emotions; the one occupied himself especially
with nature; the other with the greatness dead, the living wrongs,
the human memories. [Footnote: The contrast between the two poets is
nowhere more strikingly displayed than by the manner in which they
were affected by the sight of Rome. In Goethe's Elegies and in his
Travels in Italy we find the impressions of the artist only. He did
not understand Rome. The eternal synthesis that, from the heights of
the Capitol and St. Peter, is gradually unfolded in ever-widening
circles, embracing first a nation and then Europe, as it will
ultimately embrace humanity, remained unrevealed to him; he saw only
the inner circle of paganism; the least prolific, as well as least
indigenous. One might fancy that he caught a glimpse of it for an
instant, when he wrote: "History is read here far otherwise than in
any other spot in the universe; elsewhere we read it from without to
within; here one seems to read it from within to without; "but if
so, he soon lost sight of it again, and became absorbed in external
nature." Whether we halt or advance, we discover a landscape ever
renewing itself in a thousand fashions. We have palaces and ruins;
gardens and solitudes: the horizon lengthens in the distance, or
suddenly contracts; huts and stables, columns and triumphal arches,
all lie pell-mell, and often so close that we might find room for
all on the same sheet of paper."

At Rome Byron forgot passions, sorrows, his own individuality, all,
in the presence of a great idea; witness this utterance of a soul
born for devotedhess:--

    "O Rome! my country! city of the soul!
       The orphans of the heart must turn to thee,
      Lone mother of dead empires! and control
       In their shut breasts their petty misery."

When at last he came to a recollection of himself and his position,
it was with a hope for the world (stanza 98) and a pardon for his
enemies. From the fourth canto of Childe Harold, the daughter of
Byron might learn more of the true spirit of her father than from
all the reports she may have heard, and all the many volumes that
have been written upon him.]

And yet, notwithstanding all the contrasts, which I have only hinted
at, but which might be far more elaborately displayed by extracts
from their works; they arrived--Goethe, the poet of individuality in
its objective life--at the egotism of indifference; Byron--the poet
of individuality an its subjective life--at the egotism (I say it
with regret, but it, too, is egotism) of despair: a double sentence
upon the epoch which it was their mission to represent and to close!

Both of them--I am not speaking of their purely literary merits,
incontestable and universally acknowledged--the one by the spirit of
resistance that breathes through all his creations; the other by the
spirit of sceptical irony that pervades his works, and by the
independent sovereignty attributed to art over all social relations-
-greatly aided the cause of intellectual emancipation, and awakened
in men's minds the sentiment of liberty. Both of them--the one,
directly, by the implacable war he waged against the vices and
absurdities of the privileged classes, and indirectly, by investing
his heroes with all the most brilliant qualities of the despot, and
then dashing them to pieces as if in anger;--the other, by the
poetic rehabilitation of forms the most modest, and objects the most
insignificant, as well as by the importance attributed to details--
combated aristocratic prejudices, and developed in men's minds the
sentiment of equality. And having by their artistic excellence
exhausted both forms of the poetry of individuality, they have
completed the cycle cf its poets; thereby reducing all followers in
the same sphere to the subaltern position of imitators, and creating
the necessity of a new order of poetry; teaching us to recognize a
want where before we felt only a desire. Together they have laid an
era in the tomb; covering it with a pall that none may lift; and, as
if to proclaim its death to the young generation, the poetry of
Goethe has written its history, while that of Byron has graven its

And now farewell to Goethe; farewell to Byron! farewell to the
sorrows that crush but sanctify not--to the poetic flame that
illumines but warms not--to the ironical philosophy that dissects
without reconstructing--to all poetry which, in an age where there
is so much to do, teaches us inactive contemplation; or which, in a
world where there is so much need of devotedness, would instil
despair. Farewell to all types of power without an aim; to all
personifications of the solitary individuality which seeks an aim to
find it not, and knows not how to apply the life stirring within it;
to all egotistic joys and griefs:

    "Bastards of the soul;
     O'erweening slips of idleness: weeds--no more-
     Self-springing here and there from the rank soil;
     O'erflowings of the lust of that same mind
     Whose proper issue and determinate end,
     When wedded to the love of things divine,
     Is peace, complacency, and happiness."

Farewell, a long farewell to the past! The dawn of the future is
announced to such as can read its signs, and we owe ourselves wholly
to it.

The duality of the Middle Ages, after having struggled for centuries
under the banners of emperor and pope; after having left its trace
and borne its fruit in every branch of intellectual development; has
reascended to heaven--its mission accomplished--in the twin flames
of poesy called Goethe and Byron. Two hitherto distinct formulae of
life became incarnate in these two men. Byron is isolated man,
representing only the internal aspect of life; Goethe isolated man,
representing only the external.

Higher than these two incomplete existences; at the point of
intersection between the two aspirations towards a heaven they were
unable to reach, will be revealed the poetry of the future; of
humanity; potent in new harmony, unity, and life.

But because, in our own day, we are beginning, though vaguely, to
foresee this new social poetry, which will soothe the suffering soul
by teaching it to rise towards God through humanity; because we now
stand on the threshold of a new epoch, which, but for them, we
should not have reached; shall we decry those who were unable to do
more for us than cast their giant forms into the gulf that held us
all doubting and dismayed on the other side? From the earliest times
has genius been made the scapegoat of the generations. Society has
never lacked men who have contented themselves with reproaching the
Chattertons of their day with not being patterns of self-devotion,
instead of physical or moral suicides; without ever asking
themselves whether they had, during their lifetime, endeavored to
place aught within the reach of such but doubt and destitution. I
feel the necessity of protesting earnestly against the reaction set
on foot by certain thinkers against the mighty-souled, which serves
as a cloak for the cavilling spirit of mediocrity. There is
something hard, repulsive, and ungrateful in the destructive
instinct which so often forgets what has been done by the great men
who preceded us, to demand of them merely an account of what more
might have been done. Is the pillow of scepticism so soft to genius
as to justify the conclusion that it is from egotism only that at
times it rests its fevered brow thereon? Are we so free from the
evil reflected in their verse as to have a right to condemn their
memory? That evil was not introduced into the world by them. They
saw it, felt it, respired it; it was around, about, on every side of
them, and they were its greatest victims. How could they avoid
reproducing it in their works? It is not by deposing Goethe or Byron
that we shall destroy either sceptical or anarchical indifference
amongst us. It is by becoming believers and organizers ourselves. If
we are such, we need fear nothing. As is the public, so will be the
poet. If we revere enthusiasm, the fatherland, and humanity; if our
hearts are pure, and our souls steadfast and patient, the genius
inspired to interpret our aspirations, and bear to heaven our ideas
and our sufferings, will not be wanting. Let these statues stand.
The noble monuments of feudal times create no desire to return to
the days of selfdom.

But I shall be told, there are imitators. I know it too well; but
what lasting influence can be exerted on social life by those who
have no real life of their own? They will but flutter in the void,
so long as void there be. On the day when the living shall arise to
take the place of the dead, they will vanish like ghosts at cock-
crow. Shall we never be sufficiently firm in our own faith to dare
to show fitting reverence for the grand typical figures of an
anterior age? It would be idle to speak of social art at all, or of
the comprehension of humanity, if we could not raise altars to the
new gods, without overthrowing the old. Those only should dare to
utter the sacred name of progress, whose souls possess intelligence
enough to comprehend the past, and whose hearts possess sufficient
poetic religion to reverence its greatness. The temple of the true
believer is not the chapel of a sect; it is a vast Pantheon, in
which the glorious images of Goethe and Byron will hold their
honored place, long after Goetheism and Byronism shall have ceased
to be.

When, purified alike from imitation and distrust, men learn to pay
righteous reverence to the mighty fallen, I know not whether Goethe
will obtain more of their admiration as an artist, but I am certain
that Byron will inspire them with more love, both as man and poet--a
love increased even by the fact of the great injustice hitherto
shown to him. While Goethe held himself aloof from us, and from the
height of his Olympian calm seemed to smile with disdain at our
desires, our struggles, and our sufferings--Byron wandered through
the world, sad, gloomy, and unquiet; wounded, and bearing the arrow
in the wound. Solitary and unfortunate in his infancy; unfortunate
in his first love, and still more terribly so in his ill-advised
marriage; attacked and calumniated both in his acts and intentions
without inquiry or defence; harassed by pecuniary difficulties;
forced to quit his country, home, and child; friendless--we have
seen it too clearly since his death--pursued even on the Continent
by a thousand absurd and infamous falsehoods, and by the cold
malignity of a world that twisted even his sorrows into a crime; he
yet, in the midst of inevitable reaction, preserved his love for his
sister and his Ada; his compassion for misfortune; his fidelity to
the affections of his childhood and youth, from Lord Clare to his
old servant Murray, and his nurse Mary Gray. He was generous with
his money to all whom he could help or serve, from his literary
friends down to the wretched libeller Ashe. Though impelled by the
temper of his genius, by the period in which he lived, and by that
fatality of his mission to which I have alluded, towards a poetic
individualism, the inevitable incompleteness of which I have
endeavored to explain, he by no means set it up as a standard. That
he presaged the future with the prevision of genius is proved by his
definition of poetry in his journal--a definition hitherto
misunderstood, but yet the best I know: "Poetry is the feeling of a
former world and of a future." Poet as he was, he preferred activity
for good, to all that his art could do. Surrounded by slaves and
their oppressors; a traveller in countries where even remembrance
seemed extinct; never did he desert the cause of the peoples; never
was he false to human sympathies. A witness of the progress of the
Restoration, and the triumph of the principles of the Holy Alliance,
he never swerved from his courageous opposition; he preserved and
publicly proclaimed his faith in the rights of the peoples and in
the final

     Yet, Freedom! yet, thy banner torn, but flying,
       Streams, like the thunder-storm, against the wind:
     Thy trumpet voice, though broken now and dying,
       The loudest still the tempest leaves behind.
       The tree hath lost its blossomes, and the rind,
     Chopped by the axe, looks rough and little worth,
       But the sap lasts--and still the seed we find
     Sown deep, even in the bosom of the North,
     So shall a better spring less bitter fruit bring forth."]

triumph of liberty. The following passage from his journal is the
very abstract of the law governing the efforts of the true party of
progress at the present day: "Onwards! it is now the time to act;
and what signifies self, if a single spark of that which would be
worthy of the past [Footnote: Written in Italy.] can be bequeathed
unquenchably to the future? It is not one man, nor a million, but
the SPIRIT of liberty which must be spread. The waves which dash on
the shore are, one by one, broken; but yet the OCEAN conquers
nevertheless. It overwhelms the armada; it wears the rock; and if
the Neptunians are to be believed, it has not only destroyed but
made a world." At Naples, in the Romagna, wherever he saw a spark of
noble life stirring, he was ready for any exertion; or danger, to
blow it into a flame. He stigmatized baseness, hypocrisy, and
injustice, whencesoever they sprang.

Thus lived Byron, ceaselessly tempest-tossed between the ills of the
present and his yearnings after the future; often unequal; sometimes
sceptical; but always suffering--often most so when he seemed to

     "And if I laugh at any mortal thing,
       'Tis that I may not weep."]
      and always loving, even
       when he seemed to curse.

Never did "the eternal spirit of the chainless mind" make a brighter
apparition amongst us. He seems at times a transformation of that
immortal Prometheus, of whom he has written so nobly; whose cry of
agony, yet of futurity, sounded above the cradle of the European
world; and whose grand and mysterious form, transfigured by time,
reappears from age to age, between the entombment of one epoch and
the accession of another; to wail forth the lament of genius,
tortured by the presentment of things it will not see realized in
its time. Byron, too, had the "firm will" and the "deep sense;" he,
too, made of his "death a victory." When he heard the cry of
nationality and liberty burst forth in the land he had loved and
sung in early youth, he broke his harp and set forth. While the
CHRISTIAN Powers were protocolizing or worse--while the CHRISTIAN
nations were doling forth the alms of a few piles of ball in aid of
the CROSS struggling with the Crescent; he, the poet, and pretended
sceptic, hastened to throw his fortune, his genius, and his life at
the feet of the first people that had arisen in the name of the
nationality and liberty he loved.

I know no more beautiful symbol of the future destiny and mission of
art than the death of Byron in Greece. The holy alliance of poetry
with the cause of the peoples; the union--still so rare--of thought
and action--which alone completes the human Word, and is destined to
emancipate the world; the grand solidarity of all nations in the
conquest of the rights ordained by God for all his children, and in
the accomplishment of that mission for which alone such rights
exist--all that is now the religion and the hope of the party of
progress throughout Europe, is gloriously typified in this image,
which we, barbarians that we are, have already forgotten.

The day will come when democracy will remember all that it owes to
Byron. England, too, will, I hope, one day remember the mission--so
entirely English, yet hitherto overlooked by her--which Byron
fulfilled on the Continent; the European role given by him to
English literature, and the appreciation and sympathy for England
which he awakened amongst us.

Before he came, all that was known of English literature was the
French translation of Shakespeare, and the anathema hurled by
Voltaire against the "intoxicated barbarian." It is since Byron that
we Continentalists have learned to study Shakespeare and other
English writers. From him dates the sympathy of all the true-hearted
amongst us for this land of liberty, whose true vocation he so
worthily represented among the oppressed. He led the genius of
Britain on a pilgrimage throughout all Europe.

England will one day feel how ill it is--not for Byron but for
herself--that the foreigner who lands upon her shores should search
in vain in that temple which should be her national Pantheon, for
the poet beloved and admired by all the nations of Europe, and for
whose death Greece and Italy wept as it had been that of the noblest
of their own sons.

In these few pages--unfortunately very hasty--my aim has been, not
so much to criticise either Goethe or Byron, for which both time and
space are wanting, as to suggest, and if possible lead, English
criticism upon a broader, more impartial, and more useful path than
the one generally followed. Certain travellers of the eleventh
century relate that they saw at Teneriffe a prodigiously lofty tree,
which, from its immense extent of foliage, collected all the vapors
of the atmosphere; to discharge them, when its branches were shaken,
in a shower of pure and refreshing water. Genius is like this tree,
and the mission of criticism should be to shake the branches. At the
present day it more resembles a savage striving to hew down the
noble tree to the roots.

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