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Title: Narrative and Miscellaneous Papers — Volume 2
Author: De Quincey, Thomas
Language: English
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[Footnote: Thoughts on Some Important Points relating to the System of
the World. By J. P. Nichol, LL.D., Professor of Astronomy in the
University of Glasgow. William Tait, Edinburgh. 1846.]

Some years ago, some person or other, [in fact I believe it was
myself,] published a paper from the German of Kant, on a very
interesting question, viz., the age of our own little Earth. Those who
have never seen that paper, a class of unfortunate people whom I
suspect to form _rather_ the majority in our present perverse
generation, will be likely to misconceive its object. Kant's purpose
was, not to ascertain how many years the Earth had lived: a million of
years, more or less, made very little difference to _him_. What he
wished to settle was no such barren conundrum. For, had there even been
any means of coercing the Earth into an honest answer, on such a
delicate point, which the Sicilian canon, Recupero, fancied that there
was; [Footnote: _Recupero_. See Brydone's Travels, some sixty or
seventy years ago. The canon, being a beneficed clergyman in the Papal
church, was naturally an infidel. He wished exceedingly to refute
Moses: and he fancied that he really had done so by means of some
collusive assistance from the layers of lava on Mount Etna. But there
survives, at this day, very little to remind us of the canon, except an
unpleasant guffaw that rises, at times, in solitary valleys of Etna.]
but which, in my own opinion, there neither is, nor ought to be,--
(since a man deserves to be cudgelled who could put such improper
questions to a _lady_ planet,)--still what would it amount to?
What good would it do us to have a certificate of our dear little
mother's birth and baptism? Other people--people in Jupiter, or the
Uranians--may amuse themselves with her pretended foibles or
infirmities: it is quite safe to do so at _their_ distance; and,
in a female planet like Venus, it might be natural, (though, strictly
speaking, not quite correct,) to scatter abroad malicious insinuations,
as though our excellent little mamma had begun to wear false hair, or
had lost some of her front teeth. But all this, we men of sense know to
be gammon. Our mother Tellus, beyond all doubt, is a lovely little
thing. I am satisfied that she is very much admired throughout the
Solar System: and, in clear seasons, when she is seen to advantage,
with her bonny wee pet of a Moon tripping round her like a lamb, I
should be thankful to any gentleman who will mention where he has
happened to observe--either he or his telescope--will he only have the
goodness to say, in what part of the heavens he has discovered a more
elegant turn-out. I wish to make no personal reflections. I name no
names. Only this I say, that, though some people have the gift of
seeing things that other people never could see, and though some other
people, or other some people are born with a silver spoon in their
mouths, so that, generally, their geese count for swans, yet, after
all, swans or geese, it would be a pleasure to me, and really a
curiosity, to see the planet that could fancy herself entitled to
sneeze at our Earth. And then, if she (viz., our Earth,) keeps but one
Moon, even _that_ (you know) is an advantage as regards some
people that keep none. There are people, pretty well known to you and
me, that can't make it convenient to keep even one Moon. And so I come
to my moral; which is this, that, to all appearance, it is mere
justice; but, supposing it were not, still it is _our_ duty, (as
children of the Earth,) right or wrong, to stand up for our bonny young
mamma, if she _is_ young; or for our dear old mother, if she
_is_ old; whether young or old, to take her part against all
comers; and to argue through thick and thin, which (sober or not) I
always attempt to do, that she is the most respectable member of the
Copernican System.

Meantime, what Kant understood by being old, is something that still
remains to be explained. If one stumbled, in the steppes of Tartary, on
the grave of a Megalonyx, and, after long study, had deciphered from
some pre-Adamite heiro-pothooks, the following epitaph:--'_Hic
jacet_ a Megalonyx, or _Hic jacet_ a Mammoth, (as the case
might be,) who departed this life, to the grief of his numerous
acquaintance in the seventeen thousandth year of his age,'--of course,
one would be sorry for him; because it must be disagreeable at
_any_ age to be torn away from life, and from all one's little
megalonychal comforts; that's not pleasant, you know, even if one
_is_ seventeen thousand years old. But it would make all the
difference possible in your grief, whether the record indicated a
premature death, that he had been cut off, in fact, whilst just
stepping into life, or had kicked the bucket when full of honors, and
been followed to the grave by a train of weeping grandchildren. He had
died 'in his teens,' that's past denying. But still we must know to
what stage of life in a man, had corresponded seventeen thousand years
in a Mammoth. Now exactly this was what Kant desired to know about our
planet. Let her have lived any number of years that you suggest, (shall
we say if you please, that she is in her billionth year?) still that
tells us nothing about the _period_ of life, the _stage_, which she may
be supposed to have reached. Is she a child, in fact, or is she an
adult? And, _if_ an adult, and that you gave a ball to the Solar
System, is she that kind of person, that you would introduce to a
waltzing partner, some fiery young gentlemen like Mars, or would
you rather suggest to her the sort of partnership which takes place at
a whist-table? On this, as on so many other questions, Kant was
perfectly sensible that people, of the finest understandings, may and
do take the most opposite views. Some think that our planet is in that
stage of her life, which corresponds to the playful period of twelve or
thirteen in a spirited girl. Such a girl, were it not that she is
checked by a sweet natural sense of feminine grace, you might call a
romp; but not a hoyden, observe; no horse-play; oh, no, nothing of that
sort. And these people fancy that earthquakes, volcanoes, and all such
little _escapades_ will be over, they will, in lawyer's phrase,
'cease and determine,' as soon as our Earth reaches the age of maidenly
bashfulness. Poor thing! It's quite natural, you know, in a healthy
growing girl. A little overflow of vivacity, a _pirouette_ more or
less, what harm should _that_ do to any of us? Nobody takes more
delight than I in the fawn-like sportiveness of an innocent girl, at
this period of life: even a shade of _espièglerie_ does not annoy
me. But still my own impressions incline me rather to represent the
Earth as a fine noble young woman, full of the pride which is so
becoming to her sex, and well able to take her own part, in case that,
at any solitary point of the heavens, she should come across one of
those vulgar fussy Comets, disposed to be rude and take improper
liberties. These Comets, by the way, are public nuisances, very much
like the mounted messengers of butchers in great cities, who are always
at full gallop, and moving upon such an infinity of angles to human
shinbones, that the final purpose of such boys (one of whom lately had
the audacity nearly to ride down the Duke of Wellington) seems to be--
not the translation of mutton, which would certainly find its way into
human mouths even if riding boys were not,--but the improved geometry
of transcendental curves. They ought to be numbered, ought these boys,
and to wear badges--X 10, &c. And exactly the same evil, asking
therefore by implication for exactly the same remedy, affects the
Comets. A respectable planet is known everywhere, and responsible for
any mischief that he does. But if a cry should arise, 'Stop that
wretch, who was rude to the Earth: who is he?' twenty voices will
answer, perhaps, 'It's Encke's Comet; he is always doing mischief;'
well, what can you say? it _may_ be Encke's, it may be some other
man's Comet; there are so many abroad and on so many roads, that you
might as well ask upon a night of fog, such fog as may be opened with
an oyster knife, whose cab that was (whose, viz., out of 27,000 in
London) that floored you into the kennel.

These are constructive ideas upon the Earth's stage of evolution, which
Kant was aware of, and which will always find toleration, even where
they do not find patronage. But others there are, a class whom I
perfectly abominate, that place our Earth in the category of decaying
women, nay of decayed women, going, going, and all but gone. 'Hair like
arctic snows, failure of vital heat, palsy that shakes the head as in
the porcelain toys on our mantel-pieces, asthma that shakes the whole
fabric--these they absolutely fancy themselves to _see_. They
absolutely _hear_ the tellurian lungs wheezing, panting, crying,
'Bellows to mend!' periodically as the Earth approaches her aphelion.

But suddenly at this point a demur arises upon the total question.
Kant's very problem explodes, bursts, as poison in Venetian wine-glass
of old shivered the glass into fragments. For is there, after all, any
stationary meaning in the question? Perhaps in reality the Earth is
both young and old. Young? If she is not young at present, perhaps she
_will_ be so in future. Old? if she is not old at this moment,
perhaps she _has_ been old, and has a fair chance of becoming so
again. In fact, she is a Phoenix that is known to have secret processes
for rebuilding herself out of her own ashes. Little doubt there is but
she has seen many a birthday, many a funeral night, and many a morning
of resurrection. Where now the mightiest of oceans rolls in pacific
beauty, once were anchored continents and boundless forests. Where the
south pole now shuts her frozen gates inhospitably against the
intrusions of flesh, once were probably accumulated the ribs of
empires; man's imperial forehead, woman's roseate lips, gleamed upon
ten thousand hills; and there were innumerable contributions to
antarctic journals almost as good (but not quite) as our own. Even
within our domestic limits, even where little England, in her south-
eastern quarter now devolves so quietly to the sea her sweet pastoral
rivulets, once came roaring down, in pomp of waters, a regal Ganges
[Footnote: _'Ganges:'_--Dr. Nichol calls it by this name for the
purpose of expressing its grandeur; and certainly in breadth, in
diffusion at all times, but especially in the rainy season, the Ganges
is the cock of the walk in our British orient. Else, as regards the
body of water discharged, the absolute payments made into the sea's
exchequer, and the majesty of column riding downwards from the
Himalaya, I believe that, since Sir Alexander Burnes's measurements,
the Indus ranks foremost by a long chalk.], that drained some
hyperbolical continent, some Quinbus Flestrin of Asiatic proportions,
long since gone to the dogs. All things pass away. Generations wax old
as does a garment: but eternally God says:--'Come again, ye children of
men.' Wildernesses of fruit, and worlds of flowers, are annually
gathered in solitary South America to ancestral graves: yet still the
Pomona of Earth, yet still the Flora of Earth, does not become
superannuated, but blossoms in everlasting youth. Not otherwise by
secular periods, known to us geologically as facts, though obscure as
durations, _Tellus_ herself, the planet, as a whole, is for ever
working by golden balances of change and compensation, of ruin and
restoration. She recasts her glorious habitations in decomposing them;
she lies down for death, which perhaps a thousand times she has
suffered; she rises for a new birth, which perhaps for the thousandth
time has glorified her disc. Hers is the wedding garment, hers is the
shroud, that eternally is being woven in the loom. And God imposes upon
her the awful necessity of working for ever at her own grave, yet of
listening for ever to his far-off trumpet of _palingenesis_.

If this account of the matter be just, and were it not treasonable to
insinuate the possibility of an error against so great a swell as
Immanuel Kant, one would be inclined to fancy that Mr. Kant had really
been dozing a little on this occasion; or, agreeably to his own
illustration elsewhere, that he had realized the pleasant picture of
one learned doctor trying to milk a he-goat, whilst another doctor,
equally learned, holds the milk-pail below. [Footnote: Kant applied
this illustration to the case where one worshipful scholar proposes
some impossible problem, (as the squaring of the circle, or the
perpetual motion,) which another worshipful scholar sits down to solve.
The reference was of course to Virgil's line,--'Atque idem jungat
vulpes, et _mulgeat hircos_.'] And there is apparently this two-
edged embarrassment pressing upon the case--that, if our dear excellent
mother the Earth could be persuaded to tell us her exact age in Julian
years, still _that_ would leave us all as much in the dark as
ever: since, if the answer were, 'Why, children, at my next birth-day I
shall count a matter of some million centuries,' we should still be at
a loss to _value_ her age: would it mean that she was a mere
chicken, or that she was 'getting up in years?' On the other hand, if
(declining to state any odious circumstantialities,) she were to
reply,--'No matter, children, for my precise years, which are
disagreeable remembrances; I confess generally to being a lady of a
certain age,'--here, in the inverse order, given the _valuation_
of the age, we should yet be at a loss for the _absolute_ years
numerically: would a 'certain age,' mean that 'mamma' was a million, be
the same more or less, or perhaps not much above seventy thousand?

Every way, you see, reader, there are difficulties. But two things used
to strike me, as unaccountably overlooked by Kant; who, to say the
truth, was profound--yet at no time very agile--in the character of his
understanding. First, what age now might we take our brother and sister
planets to be? For _that_ determination as to a point in
_their_ constitution, will do something to illustrate our own. We
are as good as they, I hope, any day: perhaps in a growl, one might
modestly insinuate--_better_. It's not at all likely that there
can be any great disproportion of age amongst children of the same
household: and therefore, since Kant always countenanced the idea that
Jupiter had not quite finished the upholstery of his extensive
premises, as a comfortable residence for a man, Jupiter having, in
fact, a fine family of mammoths, but no family at all of 'humans,' (as
brother Jonathan calls them,) Kant was bound, _ex analogo_, to
hold that any little precedency in the trade of living, on the part of
our own mother Earth, could not count for much in the long run. At
Newmarket, or Doncaster, the start is seldom mathematically true:
trifling advantages will survive all human trials after abstract
equity; and the logic of this case argues, that any few thousands of
years by which Tellus may have got ahead of Jupiter, such as the having
finished her Roman Empire, finished her Crusades, and finished her
French Revolution, virtually amounts to little or nothing; indicates no
higher proportion to the total scale upon which she has to run, than
the few tickings of a watch by which one horse at the start for the
Leger is in advance of another. When checked in our chronology by each
other, it transpires that, in effect, we are but executing the nice
manoeuvre of a start; and that the small matter of six thousand years,
by which we may have advanced our own position beyond some of our
planetary rivals, is but the outstretched neck of an uneasy horse at
Doncaster. This is _one_ of the data overlooked by Kant; and the
less excusably overlooked, because it was his own peculiar doctrine,--
that uncle Jupiter ought to be considered a greenhorn. Jupiter may be a
younger brother of our mamma; but, if he is a brother at all, he cannot
be so very wide of our own chronology; and therefore the first
_datum_ overlooked by Kant was--the analogy of our whole planetary
system. A second datum, as it always occurred to myself, might
reasonably enough be derived from the intellectual vigor of us men. If
our mother could, with any show of reason, be considered an old decayed
lady, snoring stentorously in her arm-chair, there would naturally be
some _aroma_ of phthisis, or apoplexy, beginning to form about
_us_, that are her children. But _is_ there? If ever Dr. Johnson
said a true word, it was when he replied to the Scottish judge
Burnett, so well known to the world as Lord Monboddo. The judge, a
learned man, but obstinate as a mule in certain prejudices, had said
plaintively, querulously, piteously,--'Ah, Doctor, we are poor
creatures, we men of the eighteenth century, by comparison with our
forefathers!' 'Oh, no, my Lord,' said Johnson, 'we are quite as strong
as our ancestors, and a great deal wiser.' Yes; our kick is, at least,
as dangerous, and our logic does three times as much execution. This
would be a complex topic to treat effectively; and I wish merely to
indicate the opening which it offers for a most decisive order of
arguments in such a controversy. If the Earth were on her last legs, we
her children could not be very strong or healthy. Whereas, if there
were less pedantry amongst us, less malice, less falsehood, and less
darkness of prejudice, easy it would be to show, that in almost every
mode of intellectual power, we are more than a match for the most
conceited of elder generations, and that in some modes we have energies
or arts absolutely and exclusively our own. Amongst a thousand
indications of strength and budding youth, I will mention two:--Is it
likely, is it plausible, that our Earth should just begin to find out
effective methods of traversing land and sea, when she had a summons to
leave both? Is it not, on the contrary, a clear presumption that the
great career of earthly nations is but on the point of opening, that
life is but just beginning to kindle, when the great obstacles to
effectual locomotion, and therefore to extensive human intercourse, are
first of all beginning to give way? Secondly, I ask peremptorily,--Does
it stand with good sense, is it reasonable that Earth is waning,
science drooping, man looking downward, precisely in that epoch when,
first of all, man's eye is arming itself for looking effectively into
the mighty depths of space? A new era for the human intellect, upon a
path that lies amongst its most aspiring, is promised, is inaugurated,
by Lord Rosse's almost awful telescope.

What is it then that Lord Rosse has accomplished? If a man were aiming
at dazzling by effects of rhetoric, he might reply: He has accomplished
that which once the condition of the telescope not only refused its
permission to hope for, but expressly bade man to despair of. What is
it that Lord Rosse has revealed? Answer: he has revealed more by far
than he found. The theatre to which he has introduced us, is
_immeasurably_ beyond the old one which he found. To say that he
found, in the visible universe, a little wooden theatre of Thespis, a
_tréteau_ or shed of vagrants, and that he presented us, at a
price of toil and of _anxiety_ that cannot be measured, with a
Roman colosseum,--_that_ is to say nothing. It is to undertake the
measurement of the tropics with the pocket-tape of an upholsterer.
Columbus, when he introduced the Old World to the New, after all that
can be said in his praise, did in fact only introduce the majority to
the minority; but Lord Rosse has introduced the minority to the
majority. There are two worlds, one called Ante-Rosse, and the other
Post-Rosse; and, if it should come to voting, the latter would
shockingly outvote the other. Augustus Cæsar made it his boast when
dying, that he had found the city of Rome built of brick, and that he
left it built of marble: _lateritiam invenit, marmoream reliquit_.
Lord Rosse may say, even if to-day he should die, 'I found God's
universe represented for human convenience, even after all the sublime
discoveries of Herschel, upon a globe or spherical chart having a
radius of one hundred and fifty feet; and I left it sketched upon a
similar chart, keeping exactly the same scale of proportions, but now
elongating its radius into one thousand feet.' The reader of course
understands that this expression, founded on absolute calculations of
Dr. Nichol, is simply meant to exhibit the _relative_ dimensions
of the _mundus Ante-Rosseanus_ and the _mundus Post-Rosseanus;_
for as to the _absolute_ dimensions, when stated in miles, leagues
or any units familiar to the human experience, they are too stunning
and confounding. If, again, they are stated in larger units, as for
instance diameters of the earth's orbit, the unit itself that
should facilitate the grasping of the result, and which really
_is_ more manageable numerically, becomes itself elusive of the
mental grasp: it comes in as an interpreter; and (as in some other
cases) the interpreter is hardest to be understood of the two. If,
finally, TIME be assumed as the exponent of the dreadful magnitudes,
time combining itself with motion, as in the flight of cannon-balls or
the flight of swallows, the sublimity becomes greater; but horror
seizes upon the reflecting intellect, and incredulity upon the
irreflective. Even a railroad generation, that _should_ have faith
in the miracles of velocity, lifts up its hands with an '_Incredulus
odi_!' we know that Dr. Nichol speaks the truth; but he _seems_
to speak falsehood. And the ignorant by-stander prays that the doctor
may have grace given him and time for repentance; whilst his more
liberal companion reproves his want of charity, observing that
travellers into far countries have always had a license for lying, as a
sort of tax or fine levied for remunerating their own risks; and that
great astronomers, as necessarily far travellers into space, are
entitled to a double per centage of the same Munchausen privilege.

Great is the mystery of Space, greater is the mystery of Time; either
mystery grows upon man, as man himself grows; and either seems to be a
function of the godlike which is in man. In reality the depths and the
heights which are in man, the depths by which he searches, the heights
by which he aspires, are but projected and made objective externally in
the three dimensions of space which are outside of him. He trembles at
the abyss into which his bodily eyes look down, or look up; not knowing
that abyss to be, not always consciously suspecting it to be, but by an
instinct written in his prophetic heart feeling it to be, boding it to
be, fearing it to be, and sometimes hoping it to be, the mirror to a
mightier abyss that will one day be expanded in himself. Even as to the
sense of space, which is the lesser mystery than time, I know not
whether the reader has remarked that it is one which swells upon man
with the expansion of his mind, and that it is probably peculiar to the
mind of man. An infant of a year old, or oftentimes even older, takes
no notice of a sound, however loud, which is a quarter of a mile
removed, or even in a distant chamber. And brutes, even of the most
enlarged capacities, seem not to have any commerce with distance:
distance is probably not revealed to them except by a _presence_,
viz., by some shadow of their own animality, which, if perceived at
all, is perceived as a thing _present_ to their organs. An animal
desire, or a deep animal hostility, may render sensible a distance
which else would not be sensible; but not render it sensible _as_
a distance. Hence perhaps is explained, and not out of any self-
oblivion from higher enthusiasm, a fact that often has occurred, of
deer, or hares, or foxes, and the pack of hounds in pursuit, chaser and
chased, all going headlong over a precipice together. Depth or height
does not readily manifest itself to _them_; so that any _strong_ motive
is sufficient to overpower the sense of it. Man only has a natural
function for expanding on an illimitable sensorium, the illimitable
growths of space. Man, coming to the precipice, reads his danger; the
brute perishes: man is saved; and the horse is saved by his rider.

But, if this sounds in the ear of some a doubtful refinement, the doubt
applies only to the lowest degrees of space. For the highest, it is
certain that brutes have no perception. To man is as much reserved the
prerogative of perceiving space in its higher extensions, as of
geometrically constructing the relations of space. And the brute is no
more capable of apprehending abysses through his eye, than he can build
upwards or can analyze downwards the ærial synthesis of Geometry. Such,
therefore, as is space for the grandeur of man's perceptions, such as
is space for the benefit of man's towering mathematic speculations,
such is the nature of our debt to Lord Rosse--as being the philosopher
who has most pushed back the frontiers of our conquests upon this
_exclusive_ inheritance of man. We have all heard of a king that,
sitting on the sea-shore, bade the waves, as they began to lave his
feet, upon their allegiance to retire. _That_ was said not vainly
or presumptuously, but in reproof of sycophantic courtiers. Now,
however, we see in good earnest another man, wielding another kind of
sceptre, and sitting upon the shores of infinity, that says to the ice
which had frozen up our progress,--'Melt thou before my breath!' that
says to the rebellious _nebulæ_,--'Submit, and burst into blazing
worlds!' that says to the gates of darkness,--'Roll back, ye barriers,
and no longer hide from us the infinities of God!'

  'Come, and I will show you what is beautiful.'

From the days of infancy still lingers in my ears this opening of a
prose hymn by a lady, then very celebrated, viz., the late Mrs.
Barbauld. The hymn began by enticing some solitary infant into some
silent garden, I believe, or some forest lawn; and the opening words
were, 'Come, and I will show you what is beautiful!' Well, and what
beside? There is nothing beside; oh, disappointed and therefore enraged
reader; positively this is the sum-total of what I can recall from the
wreck of years; and certainly it is not much. Even of Sappho, though
time has made mere ducks and drakes of her lyrics, we have rather more
spared to us than this. And yet this trifle, simple as you think it,
this shred of a fragment, if the reader will believe me, still echoes
with luxurious sweetness in my ears, from some unaccountable hide-and-
seek of fugitive childish memories; just as a marine shell, if applied
steadily to the ear, awakens (according to the fine image of Landor
[Footnote: 'Of Landor,' viz., in his 'Gebir;' but also of Wordsworth in
'The Excursion.' And I must tell the reader, that a contest raged at
one time as to the _original property_ in this image, not much
less keen than that between Neptune and Minerva, for the chancellorship
of Athens.]) the great vision of the sea; places the listener

              'In the sun's palace-porch,
  And murmurs as the ocean murmurs there.'

Now, on some moonless night, in some fitting condition of the
atmosphere, if Lord Rosse would permit the reader and myself to walk
into the front drawing-room of his telescope, then, in Mrs. Barbauld's
words, slightly varied, I might say to him,--Come, and I will show you
what is sublime! In fact, what I am going to lay before him, from Dr.
Nichol's work, is, or at least _would_ be, (when translated into
Hebrew grandeur by the mighty telescope,) a step above even that object
which some four-and-twenty years ago in the British Museum struck me as
simply the sublimest sight which in this sight-seeing world I had seen.
It was the Memnon's head, then recently brought from Egypt. I looked at
it, as the reader must suppose, in order to understand the depth which
I have here ascribed to the impression, not as a human but as a
symbolic head; and what it symbolized to me were: 1. The peace which
passeth all understanding. 2. The eternity which baffles and confounds
all faculty of computation; the eternity which _had_ been, the
eternity which _was_ to be. 3. The diffusive love, not such as
rises and falls upon waves of life and mortality, not such as sinks and
swells by undulations of time, but a procession--an emanation from some
mystery of endless dawn. You durst not call it a smile that radiated
from the lips; the radiation was too awful to clothe itself in
adumbrations or memorials of flesh.

In _that mode_ of sublimity, perhaps, I still adhere to my first
opinion, that nothing so great was ever beheld. The atmosphere for
_this_, for the Memnon, was the breathlessness which belongs to a
saintly trance; the holy thing seemed to live by silence. But there
_is_ a picture, the pendant of the Memnon, there _is_ a dreadful
cartoon, from the gallery which has begun to open upon Lord Rosse's
telescope, where the appropriate atmosphere for investing it
must be drawn from another silence, from the frost and from the
eternities of death. It is the famous _nebula_ in the constellation
of Orion; famous for the unexampled defiance with which it resisted
all approaches from the most potent of former telescopes; famous
for its frightful magnitude and for the frightful depth to which
it is sunk in the abysses of the heavenly wilderness; famous just now
for the submission with which it has begun to render up its secrets to
the all-conquering telescope; and famous in all time coming for the
horror of the regal phantasma which it has perfected to eyes of flesh.
Had Milton's 'incestuous mother,' with her fleshless son, and with the
warrior angel, his father, that led the rebellions of heaven, been
suddenly unmasked by Lord Rosse's instrument, in these dreadful
distances before which, simply as expressions of resistance, the mind
of man shudders and recoils, there would have been nothing more
appalling in the exposure; in fact, it would have been essentially the
same exposure: the same expression of power in the detestable phantom,
the same rebellion in the attitude, the same pomp of malice in the
features to a universe seasoned for its assaults.

The reader must look to Dr. Nichol's book, at page 51, for the picture
of this abominable apparition. But then, in order to see what _I_
see, the obedient reader must do what I tell him to do. Let him
therefore view the wretch upside down. If he neglects that simple
direction, of course I don't answer for anything that follows: without
any fault of mine, my description will be unintelligible. This
inversion being made, the following is the dreadful creature that will
then reveal itself.

_Description of the Nebula in Orion, as forced to show out by Lord
Rosse._--You see a head thrown back, and raising its face, (or eyes,
if eyes it had,) in the very anguish of hatred, to some unknown
heavens. What _should_ be its skull wears what _might_ be an
Assyrian tiara, only ending behind in a floating train. This head rests
upon a beautifully developed neck and throat. All power being given to
the awful enemy, he is beautiful where he pleases, in order to point
and envenom his ghostly ugliness. The mouth, in that stage of the
apocalypse which Sir John Herschel was able to arrest in his eighteen-
inch mirror, is amply developed. Brutalities unspeakable sit upon the
upper lip, which is confluent with a snout; for separate nostrils there
are none. Were it not for this one defect of nostrils; and, even in
spite of this defect, (since, in so mysterious a mixture of the angelic
and the brutal, we may suppose the sense of odor to work by some
compensatory organ,) one is reminded by the phantom's attitude of a
passage, ever memorable, in Milton: that passage, I mean, where Death
first becomes aware, soon after the original trespass, of his own
future empire over man. The 'meagre shadow' even smiles (for the first
time and the last) on apprehending his own abominable bliss, by
apprehending from afar the savor 'of mortal change on earth.'

  ----'Such a scent,' (he says,) 'I draw
  Of carnage, prey innumerable.'

As illustrating the attitude of the phantom in Orion, let the reader
allow me to quote the tremendous passage:--

  'So saying, with delight he snuff'd the smell
  Of mortal change on earth. As when a flock
  Of ravenous fowl, though many a league remote,
  Against the day of battle, to a field,
  Where armies lie encamp'd, come flying, lured
  With scent of living carcasses design'd
  For death, the following day, in bloody fight;
  So scented the grim feature, [Footnote: 'So scented the grim
feature,' [_feature_ is the old word for _form or outline that
is shadowy_; and also for form (shadowy or not) which abstracts from
the _matter_.] By the way, I have never seen it noticed, that
Milton was indebted for the hint of this immortal passage to a superb
line-and-a-half, in Lucan's Pharsalia.] and upturn'd
  His nostril wide into the murky air,
  Sagacious of his quarry from so far.'

But the lower lip, which is drawn inwards with the curve of a conch
shell,--oh what a convolute of cruelty and revenge is _there_!
Cruelty!--to whom? Revenge!--for what? Ask not, whisper not. Look
upwards to other mysteries. In the very region of his temples, driving
itself downwards into his cruel brain, and breaking the continuity of
his diadem, is a horrid chasm, a ravine, a shaft, that many centuries
would not traverse; and it is serrated on its posterior wall with a
harrow that perhaps is partly hidden. From the anterior wall of this
chasm rise, in vertical directions, two processes; one perpendicular,
and rigid as a horn, the other streaming forward before some portentous
breath. What these could be, seemed doubtful; but now, when further
examinations by Sir John Herschel, at the Cape of Good Hope, have
filled up the scattered outline with a rich umbrageous growth, one is
inclined to regard them as the plumes of a sultan. Dressed he is,
therefore, as well as armed. And finally comes Lord Rosse, that
glorifies him with the jewellery [Footnote: _The jewellery of
Stars_. And one thing is very remarkable, viz., that not only the
stars justify this name of jewellery, as usual, by the life of their
splendor, but also, in this case, by their arrangement. No jeweller
could have set, or disposed with more art, the magnificent quadrille of
stars which is placed immediately below the upright plume. There is
also another, a truncated quadrille, wanting only the left hand star
(or you might call it a bisected lozenge) placed on the diadem, but
obliquely placed as regards the curve of that diadem. Two or three
other arrangements are striking, though not equally so, both from their
regularity and from their repeating each other, as the forms in a
kaleidoscope.] of stars: he is now a vision 'to dream of, not to tell:'
he is ready for the worship of those that are tormented in sleep: and
the stages of his solemn uncovering by astronomy, first by Sir W.
Herschel, secondly, by his son, and finally by Lord Rosse, is like the
reversing of some heavenly doom, like the raising of the seals that had
been sealed by the angel, in the Revelations. But the reader naturally
asks, How does all this concern Lord Rosse's telescope on the one side,
or general astronomy on the other? This _nebula_, he will say,
seems a bad kind of fellow by your account; and of course it will not
break my heart to hear, that he has had the conceit taken out of him.
But in what way can _that_ affect the pretensions of this new
instrument; or, if it did, how can the character of the instrument
affect the general condition of a science? Besides, is not the science
a growth from very ancient times? With great respect for the Earl of
Rosse, is it conceivable that he, or any man, by one hour's working the
tackle of his new instrument, can have carried any stunning
revolutionary effect into the heart of a section so ancient in our
mathematical physics? But the reader is to consider, that the ruins
made by Lord Rosse, are in _sidereal_ astronomy, which is almost
wholly a growth of modern times; and the particular part of it
demolished by the new telescope, is almost exclusively the creation of
the two Herschels, father and son. Laplace, it is true, adopted their
views; and he transferred them to the particular service of our own
planetary system. But he gave to them no new sanction, except what
arises from showing that they would account for the appearances, as
they present themselves to our experience at this day. That was a
_negative_ confirmation; by which I mean, that, had their views
failed in the hands of Laplace, then they were proved to be false; but,
_not_ failing, they were not therefore proved to be true. It was
like proving a gun; if the charge is insufficient, or if, in trying the
strength of cast iron, timber, ropes, &c., the strain is not up to the
rigor of the demand, you go away with perhaps a favorable impression as
to the promises of the article; it has stood a moderate trial; it has
stood all the trial that offered, which is always something; but you
are still obliged to feel that, when the ultimate test is applied,
smash may go the whole concern. Lord Rosse applied an ultimate test;
and smash went the whole concern. Really I must have laughed, though
all the world had been angry, when the shrieks and yells of expiring
systems began to reverberate all the way from the belt of Orion; and
positively at the very first broadside delivered from this huge four-
decker of a telescope.

But what was it then that went to wreck? That is a thing more easy to
ask than to answer. At least, for my own part, I complain that some
vagueness hangs over all the accounts of the nebular hypothesis.
However, in this place a brief sketch will suffice.

Herschel the elder, having greatly improved the telescope, began to
observe with special attention a class of remarkable phenomena in the
starry world hitherto unstudied, viz.: milky spots in various stages of
diffusion. The nature of these appearances soon cleared itself up thus
far, that generally they were found to be starry worlds, separated from
ours by inconceivable distances, and in that way concealing at first
their real nature. The whitish gleam was the mask conferred by the
enormity of their remotion. This being so, it might have been supposed
that, as was the faintness of these cloudy spots or _nebulæ_, such
was the distance. But _that_ did not follow: for in the treasury
of nature it turned out that there were other resources for modifying
the powers of distance, for muffling and unmuffling the voice of stars.
Suppose a world at the distance _x_, which distance is so great as
to make the manifestation of that world weak, milky, nebular. Now let
the secret power that wields these awful orbs, push this world back to
a double distance! _that_ should naturally make it paler and more
dilute than ever: and yet by _compression_, by deeper centralization,
this effect shall be defeated; by forcing into far closer neighborhood
the stars which compose this world, again it shall gleam out brighter
when at 2_x_ than when at _x_. At this point of compression, let the
great moulding power a second time push it back; and a second time it
will grow faint. But once more let this world be tortured into closer
compression, again let the screw be put upon it, and once again it
shall shake off the oppression of distance as the dew-drops are shaken
from a lion's mane. And thus in fact the mysterious architect plays at
hide-and-seek with his worlds. 'I will hide it,' he says, 'and it shall
be found again by man; I will withdraw it into distances that shall
seem fabulous, and again it shall apparel itself in glorious light; a
third time I will plunge it into aboriginal darkness, and upon the
vision of man a third time it shall rise with a new epiphany.'

But, says the objector, there is no such world; there is no world that
has thus been driven back, and depressed from one deep to a lower deep.
Granted: but the same effect, an illustration of the same law, is
produced equally, whether you take four worlds, all of the same
magnitude, and plunge them _simultaneously_ into four different
abysses, sinking by graduated distances one below another, or take one
world and plunge it to the same distances _successively_. So in
Geology, when men talk of substances in different stages, or of
transitional states, they do not mean that they have watched the same
individual _stratum_ or _phenomenon_, exhibiting states removed
from each other by depths of many thousand years; how could they?
but they have seen one stage in the case A, another stage in the
case B. They take, for instance, three objects, the same (to use the
technical language of logic) generically, though numerically different,
under separate circumstances, or in different stages of advance. They
are one object for logic, they are three for human convenience. So
again it might seem impossible to give the history of a rose tree from
infancy to age: how could the same rose tree, at the same time, be
young and old? Yet by taking the different developments of its flowers,
even as they hang on the same tree, from the earliest bud to the full-
blown rose, you may in effect pursue this vegetable growth through all
its stages: you have before you the bony blushing little rose-bud, and
the respectable 'mediæval' full-blown rose.

This point settled, let it now be remarked, that Herschel's resources
enabled him to unmask many of these _nebulæ_: stars they were, and
stars he forced them to own themselves. Why should any decent world
wear an _alias_? There was nothing, you know, to be ashamed of in
being an honest cluster of stars. Indeed, they seemed to be sensible of
this themselves, and they now yielded to the force of Herschel's
arguments so far as to show themselves in the new character of
_nebulæ_ spangled with stars; these are the _stellar nebulæ_;
quite as much as you could expect in so short a time: Rome was not
built in a day: and one must have some respect to stellar feelings. It
was noticed, however, that where a bright haze, and not a weak milk-
and-water haze, had revealed itself to the telescope, this, arising
from a case of _compression_, (as previously explained,) required
very little increase of telescopic power to force him into a fuller
confession. He made a clean breast of it. But at length came a dreadful
anomaly. A 'nebula' in the constellation _Andromeda_ turned
restive: another in _Orion_, I grieve to say it, still more so. I
confine myself to the latter. A very low power sufficed to bring him to
a slight confession, which in fact amounted to nothing; the very
highest would not persuade him to show a star. 'Just one,' said some
coaxing person; 'we'll be satisfied with only one.' But no: he would
_not_. He was hardened, 'he wouldn't _split_.' And Herschel
was thus led, after waiting as long as flesh and blood _could_
wait, to infer two classes of _nebulæ_; one that were stars; and
another that were _not_ stars, nor ever were meant to be stars.
Yet _that_ was premature: he found at last, that, though not raised
to the peerage of stars, finally they would be so: they were the
matter of stars; and by gradual condensation would become suns, whose
atmosphere, by a similar process of condensing, would become planets,
capable of brilliant literati and philosophers, in several volumes
octavo. So stood the case for a long time; it was settled to the
satisfaction of Europe that there were two classes of _nebulæ_,
one that _were_ worlds, one that were _not_, but only the pabulum
of future worlds. Silence arose. A voice was heard, 'Let there
be Lord Rosse!' and immediately his telescope walked into Orion;
destroyed the supposed matter of stars; but, in return, created
immeasurable worlds.

As a hint for apprehending the delicacy and difficulty of the process
in sidereal astronomy, let the inexperienced reader figure to himself
these separate cases of perplexity: 1st, A perplexity where the dilemma
arises from the collision between magnitude and distance:--is the size
less, or the distance greater? 2dly, Where the dilemma arises between
motions, a motion in ourselves doubtfully confounded with a motion in
some external body; or, 3dly, Where it arises between possible
positions of an object: is it a real proximity that we see between two
stars, or simply an apparent proximity from lying in the same visual
line, though in far other depths of space? As regards the first
dilemma, we may suppose two laws, A and B, absolutely in contradiction,
laid down at starting: A, that all fixed stars are precisely at the
same _distance_; in this case every difference in the apparent
magnitude will indicate a corresponding difference in the real
magnitude, and will measure that difference. B, that all the fixed
stars are precisely of the same _magnitude_; in which case, every
variety in the size will indicate a corresponding difference in the
distance, and will measure that difference. Nor could we imagine any
exception to these inferences from A or from B, whichever of the two
were assumed, unless through optical laws that might not equally affect
objects under different circumstances; I mean, for instance, that might
suffer a disturbance as applied under hypoth. B, to different depths in
space, or under hypoth. A, to different arrangements of structure in
the star. But thirdly, it is certain, that neither A nor B is the
abiding law: and next it becomes an object by science and by
instruments to distinguish more readily and more certainly between the
cases where the distance has degraded the size, and the cases where the
size being _really_ less, has caused an exaggeration of the
distance: or again, where the size being really less, yet co-operating
with a distance really greater, may degrade the estimate, (though
travelling in a right direction,) below the truth; or again where the
size being really less, yet counteracted by a distance also less, may
equally disturb the truth of human measurements, and so on.

A second large order of equivocating appearances will arise,--not as to
magnitude, but as to motion. If it could be a safe assumption, that the
system to which our planet is attached were absolutely fixed and
motionless, except as regards its own _internal_ relations of
movement, then every change outside of us, every motion that the
registers of astronomy had established, would be objective and not
subjective. It would be safe to pronounce at once that it was a motion
in the object contemplated, _not_ in the subject contemplating.
Or, reversely, if it were safe to assume as a universal law, that no
motion was possible in the starry heavens, then every change of
relations in space, between ourselves and them, would indicate and
would measure a progress, or regress, on the part of our solar system,
in certain known directions. But now, because it is not safe to rest in
either assumption, the range of possibilities for which science has to
provide, is enlarged; the immediate difficulties are multiplied; but
with the result (as in the former case) of reversionally expanding the
powers, and consequently the facilities, lodged both in the science and
in the arts ministerial to the science. Thus, in the constellation
_Cygnus_, there is a star gradually changing its relation to our
system, whose distance from ourselves (as Dr. Nichol tells us) is
ascertained to be about six hundred and seventy thousand times our own
distance from the sun: that is, neglecting minute accuracy, about six
hundred and seventy thousand stages of one hundred million miles each.
This point being known, it falls within the _arts_ of astronomy to
translate this apparent angular motion into miles; and presuming this
change of relation to be not in the star, but really in ourselves, we
may deduce the velocity of our course, we may enter into our _log_
daily the rate at which our whole solar system is running. Bessel, it
seems, the eminent astronomer who died lately, computed this velocity
to be such (viz., three times that of our own earth in its proper
orbit) as would carry us to the star in forty-one thousand years. But,
in the mean time, the astronomer is to hold in reserve some small share
of his attention, some trifle of a side-glance, now and then, to the
possibility of an error, after all, in the main assumption: he must
watch the indications, if any such should arise, that not ourselves,
but the star in _Cygnus_, is the real party concerned, in drifting
at this shocking rate, with no prospect of coming to an anchorage.
[Footnote: It is worth adding at this point, whilst the reader
remembers without effort the numbers, viz., forty-one thousand
years, for the time, (the space being our own distance from the sun
repeated six hundred and seventy thousand times,) what would be the
time required for reaching, in the _body_, that distance to which
Lord Rosse's six feet mirror has so recently extended our
_vision_. The time would be, as Dr. Nichol computes, about two
hundred and fifty millions of years, supposing that our rate of
travelling was about three times that of our earth in its orbit. Now,
as the velocity is assumed to be the same in both cases, the ratio
between the distance (already so tremendous) of Bessel's 61
_Cygni_, and that of Lord Rosse's farthest frontier, is as forty-
one thousand to two hundred and fifty millions. This is a simple rule-
of-three problem for a child. And the answer to it will, perhaps,
convey the simplest expression of the superhuman power lodged in the
new telescope:--as is the ratio of forty-one thousand to two hundred
and fifty million, so is the ratio of our own distance from the sun
multiplied by six hundred and seventy thousand, to the outermost limit
of Lord Rosse's sidereal vision.]

Another class, and a frequent one, of equivocal phenomena, phenomena
that are reconcilable indifferently with either of two assumptions,
though less plausibly reconciled with the one than with the other,
concerns the position of stars that seem connected with each other by
systematic relations, and which yet _may_ lie in very different
depths of space, being brought into seeming connection only by the
human eye. There have been, and there are, cases where two stars
dissemble an interconnection which they really _have_, and other
cases where they simulate an interconnection which they have not. All
these cases of simulation and dissimulation torment the astronomer by
multiplying his perplexities, and deepening the difficulty of escaping
them. He cannot get at the truth: in many cases, magnitude and distance
are in collusion with each other to deceive him: motion subjective is
in collusion with motion objective; duplex systems are in collusion
with fraudulent stars, having no real partnership whatever, but
mimicking such a partnership by means of the limitations or errors
affecting the human eye, where it can apply no other sense to aid or to
correct itself. So that the business of astronomy, in these days, is no
sinecure, as the reader perceives. And by another evidence, it is
continually becoming less of a sinecure. Formerly, one or two men,--
Tycho, suppose, or, in a later age, Cassini and Horrox, and Bradley,
had observatories: one man, suppose, observed the stars for all
Christendom; and the rest of Europe observed _him_. But now, up
and down Europe, from the deep blue of Italian skies to the cold frosty
atmospheres of St. Petersburg and Glasgow, the stars are conscious of
being watched everywhere; and if all astronomers do not publish their
observations, all use them in their speculations. New and brilliantly
appointed observatories are rising in every latitude, or risen; and
none, by the way, of these new-born observatories, is more interesting
from the circumstances of its position, or more _picturesque_ to a
higher organ than the eye--viz., to the human heart--than the New
Observatory raised by the university of Glasgow.[Footnote: It has been
reported, ever since the autumn of 1845, and the report is now,
(August, 1846,) gathering strength, that some railway potentate, having
taken a fancy for the ancient college of Glasgow, as a bauble to hang
about his wife's neck, (no accounting for tastes,) has offered, (or
_will_ offer,) such a price, that the good old academic lady in
this her moss-grown antiquity, seriously thinks of taking him at his
word, packing up her traps, and being off. When a spirit of galavanting
comes across an aged lady, it is always difficult to know where it will
stop: so, in fact, you know, she may choose to steam for Texas. But the
present impression is, that she will settle down by the side of what
you may call her married or settled daughter--the Observatory; which
one would be glad to have confirmed, as indicating that no purpose of
pleasure-seeking had been working in elderly minds, but the instinct of
religious rest and aspiration. The Observatory would thus remind one of
those early Christian anchorites, and self-exiled visionaries, that
being led by almost a necessity of nature to take up their residence in
deserts, sometimes drew after themselves the whole of their own

The New Observatory of Glasgow is now, I believe, finished; and the
only fact connected with its history that was painful, as embodying and
recording that Vandal alienation from science, literature, and all
their interests, which has ever marked our too haughty and Caliph-Omar-
like British government, lay in the circumstance that the glasses of
the apparatus, the whole mounting of the establishment, in so far as it
was a scientific establishment, and even the workmen for putting up the
machinery, were imported from Bavaria. We, that once bade the world
stand aside when the question arose about glasses, or the graduation of
instruments, were now literally obliged to stand cap in hand, bowing to
Mr. Somebody, successor of Frauenhofer or Frauendevil, in Munich! Who
caused _that_, we should all be glad to know, if not the wicked
Treasury, that killed the hen that laid the golden eggs by taxing her
until her spine broke? It is to be hoped that, at this moment, and
specifically for this offence, some scores of Exchequer men,
chancellors and other rubbish, are in purgatory, and perhaps working,
with shirt-sleeves tucked up, in purgatorial glass-houses, with very
small allowances of beer, to defray the cost of perspiration. But why
trouble a festal remembrance with commemorations of crimes or
criminals? What makes the Glasgow Observatory so peculiarly
interesting, is its position, connected with and overlooking so vast a
city, having more than three hundred thousand inhabitants, (in spite of
an American sceptic,) nearly all children of toil; and a city, too,
which, from the necessities of its circumstances, draws so deeply upon
that fountain of misery and guilt which some ordinance, as ancient as
'our father Jacob,' with his patriarchal well for Samaria, has
bequeathed to manufacturing towns,--to Ninevehs, to Babylons, to Tyres.
How tarnished with eternal canopies of smoke, and of sorrow; how dark
with agitations of many orders, is the mighty town below! How serene,
how quiet, how lifted above the confusion and the roar, how liberated
from the strifes of earth, is the solemn Observatory that crowns the
grounds above! And duly, at night, just when the toil of over-wrought
Glasgow is mercifully relaxing, then comes the summons to the laboring
astronomer. _He_ speaks not of the night, but of the day and the
flaunting day-light, as the hours 'in which no man can work.' And the
least reflecting of men must be impressed by the idea, that at wide
intervals, but intervals scattered over Europe, whilst 'all that mighty
heart' is, by sleep, resting from its labors, secret eyes are lifted up
to heaven in astronomical watch-towers; eyes that keep watch and ward
over spaces that make us dizzy to remember, eyes that register the
promises of comets, and disentangle the labyrinths of worlds.

Another feature of interest, connected with the Glasgow Observatory, is
personal, and founded on the intellectual characteristics of the
present professor, Dr. Nichol; in the deep meditative style of his mind
seeking for rest, yet placed in conflict for ever with the tumultuous
necessity in _him_ for travelling along the line of revolutionary
thought, and following it loyally, wearied or not, to its natural home.

In a sonnet of Milton, one of three connected with his own blindness,
he distinguishes between two classes of servants that minister to the
purposes of God. '_His_ state,' says he, meaning God's state, the
arrangement of his regular service, 'is kingly;' that is to say, it
resembles the mode of service established in the courts of kings; and,
in this, it resembles that service, that there are two classes of
ministers attending on his pleasure. For, as in the trains of kings are
some that run without resting, night or day, to carry the royal
messages, and also others--great lords in waiting--that move not from
the royal gates; so of the divine retinues, some are for action only,
some for contemplation. 'Thousands' there are that

  ----'at his bidding speed,
  And post o'er land and ocean without rest.'

Others, on the contrary, motionless as statues, that share not in the
agitations of their times, that tremble not in sympathy with the storms
around them, but that listen--that watch--that wait--for secret
indications to be fulfilled, or secret signs to be deciphered. And, of
this latter class, he adds-that they, not less than the others, are
accepted by God; or, as it is so exquisitely expressed in the closing

  '_They_ also serve, that only stand and wait.'

Something analogous to this one may see in the distributions of
literature and science. Many popularize and diffuse: some reap and
gather on their own account. Many translate, into languages fit for the
multitude, messages which they receive from human voices: some listen,
like Kubla Khan, far down in caverns or hanging over subterranean
rivers, for secret whispers that mingle and confuse themselves with the
general uproar of torrents, but which can be detected and kept apart by
the obstinate prophetic ear, which spells into words and ominous
sentences the distracted syllables of ærial voices. Dr. Nichol is one
of those who pass to and fro between these classes; and has the rare
function of keeping open their vital communications. As a popularizing
astronomer, he has done more for the benefit of his great science than
all the rest of Europe combined: and now, when he notices, without
murmur, the fact that his office of popular teacher is almost taken out
of his hands, (so many are they who have trained of late for the duty,)
that change has, in fact, been accomplished through knowledge, through
explanations, through suggestions, dispersed and prompted by himself.

For my own part, as one belonging to the laity, and not to the
_clerus_, in the science of astronomy, I could scarcely have
presumed to report minutely, or to sit in the character of dissector
upon the separate details of Dr. Nichol's works, either this, or those
which have preceded it, had there even been room left disposable for
such a task. But in this view it is sufficient to have made the general
acknowledgment which already _has_ been made, that Dr. Nichol's
works, and his oral lectures upon astronomy, are to be considered as
the _fundus_ of the knowledge on that science now working in this
generation. More important it is, and more in reconciliation with the
tenor of my own ordinary studies, to notice the philosophic spirit in
which Dr. Nichol's works are framed; the breadth of his views, the
eternal tendency of his steps in advance, or (if advance on that
quarter, or at that point, happens to be absolutely walled out for the
present,) the vigor of the _reconnoissances_ by which he examines
the hostile intrenchments. Another feature challenges notice. In
reading astronomical works, there arises (from old experience of what
is usually most faulty) a wish either for the naked severities of
science, with a total abstinence from all display of enthusiasm; or
else, if the cravings of human sensibility are to be met and gratified,
that it shall be by an enthusiasm unaffected and grand as its subject.
Of that kind is the enthusiasm of Dr. Nichol. The grandeurs of
astronomy are such to him who has a capacity for being grandly moved.
They are none at all to him who has not. To the mean they become
meannesses. Space, for example, has no grandeur to him who has no space
in the theatre of his own brain. I know writers who report the marvels
of velocity, &c., in such a way that they become insults to yourself.
It is obvious that in _their_ way of insisting on our earth's
speed in her annual orbit, they do not seek to exalt _her_, but to
mortify _you_. And, besides, these fellows are answerable for
provoking people into fibs:--for I remember one day, that reading a
statement of this nature, about how many things the Earth had done that
we could never hope to do, and about the number of cannon balls,
harnessed as a _tandem_, which the Earth would fly past, without
leaving time to say, _How are you off for soap?_ in vexation of
heart I could not help exclaiming--'That's nothing: I've done a great
deal more myself;' though, when one turns it in one's mind, you know
there must be some inaccuracy _there_. How different is Dr.
Nichol's enthusiasm from this hypocritical and vulgar wonderment! It
shows itself not merely in reflecting the grandeurs of his theme, and
by the sure test of detecting and allying itself with all the indirect
grandeurs that arrange themselves from any distance, upon or about that
centre, but by the manifest promptness with which Dr. Nichol's
enthusiasm awakens itself upon _every_ road that leads to things
elevating for man; or to things promising for knowledge; or to things
which, like dubious theories or imperfect attempts at systematizing,
though neutral as regards knowledge, minister to what is greater than
knowledge, viz., to intellectual _power_, to the augmented power
of handling your materials, though with no more materials than before.
In his geological and cosmological inquiries, in his casual
speculations, the same quality of intellect betrays itself; the
intellect that labors in sympathy with the laboring _nisus_ of
these gladiatorial times; that works (and sees the necessity of
working) the apparatus of many sciences towards a composite result; the
intellect that retires in one direction only to make head in another;
and that already is prefiguring the route beyond the barriers, whilst
yet the gates are locked.

There was a man in the last century, and an eminent man too, who used
to say, that whereas people in general pretended to admire astronomy as
being essentially sublime, he for _his_ part looked upon all that
sort of thing as a swindle; and, on the contrary, he regarded the solar
system as decidedly vulgar; because the planets were all of them so
infernally punctual, they kept time with such horrible precision, that
they forced him, whether he would or no, to think of nothing but post-
office clocks, mail-coaches, and book-keepers. Regularity may be
beautiful, but it excludes the sublime. What he wished for was
something like Lloyd's list.

_Comets_--due 3; arrived 1.
_Mercury_, when last seen, appeared to be distressed; but made no
_Pallas_ and _Vesta_, not heard of for some time; supposed to
have foundered.
_Moon_, spoken last night through a heavy bank of clouds; out
sixteen days: all right.

Now this poor man's misfortune was, to have lived in the days of mere
planetary astronomy. At present, when our own little system, with all
its grandeurs, has dwindled by comparison to a subordinate province, if
any man is bold enough to say so, a poor shivering unit amongst myriads
that are brighter, we ought no longer to talk of astronomy, but of
_the astronomies_. There is the planetary, the cometary, the
sidereal, perhaps also others; as, for instance, even yet the nebular;
because, though Lord Rosse has smitten it with the son of Amram's rod,
has made it open, and cloven a path through it, yet other and more
fearful _nebulæ_ may loom in sight, (if further improvements
should be effected in the telescope,) that may puzzle even Lord Rosse.
And when he tells his _famulus_--'Fire a shot at that strange
fellow, and make him show his colors,' possibly the mighty stranger may
disdain the summons. That would be vexatious: we should all be incensed
at _that_. But no matter. What's a _nebula_, what's a world,
more or less? In the spiritual heavens are many mansions: in the starry
heavens, that are now unfolding and preparing to unfold before us, are
many vacant areas upon which the astronomer may pitch his secret
pavilion. He may dedicate himself to the service of the _Double
Suns_; he has my license to devote his whole time to the quadruple
system of suns in _Lyra_. Swammerdam spent his life in a ditch
watching frogs and tadpoles; why may not an astronomer give nine lives,
if he had them, to the watching of that awful appearance in
_Hercules_, which pretends to some rights over our own unoffending
system? Why may he not mount guard with public approbation, for the
next fifty years, upon the zodiacal light, the interplanetary ether,
and other rarities, which the professional body of astronomers would
naturally keep (if they could) for their own private enjoyment? There
is no want of variety now, nor in fact of irregularity: for the most
exquisite clock-work, which from enormous distance _seems_ to go
wrong, virtually for us _does_ go wrong; so that our friend of the
last century, who complained of the solar system, would not need to do
so any longer. There are anomalies enough to keep him cheerful. There
are now even things to alarm us; for anything in the starry worlds that
look suspicious, anything that ought _not_ to be there, is, for
all purposes of frightening us, as good as a ghost.

But of all the novelties that excite my own interest in the expanding
astronomy of recent times, the most delightful and promising are those
charming little pyrotechnic planetoids,[Footnote: _'Pyrotechnic
Planetoids:'_--The reader will understand me as alluding to the
periodic shooting stars. It is now well known, that as, upon our own
poor little earthly ocean, we fall in with certain phenomena as we
approach certain latitudes; so also upon the great ocean navigated by
our Earth, we fall in with prodigious showers of these meteors at
periods no longer uncertain, but fixed as jail-deliveries. 'These
remarkable showers of meteors,' says Dr. Nichol, 'observed at different
periods in August and November, seem to demonstrate the fact, that, at
these periods, we have come in contact with two streams of such
planetoids then intersecting the earth's orbit.' If they intermit, it
is only because they are shifting their nodes, or points of
intersection.] that variegate our annual course. It always struck me as
most disgusting, that, in going round the sun, we must be passing
continually over old roads, and yet we had no means of establishing an
acquaintance with them: they might as well be new for every trip. Those
chambers of ether, through which we are tearing along night and day,
(for _our_ train stops at no stations,) doubtless, if we could put
some mark upon them, must be old fellows perfectly liable to
recognition. I suppose, _they_ never have notice to quit. And yet,
for want of such a mark, though all our lives flying past them and
through them, we can never challenge them as known. The same thing
happens in the desert: one monotonous iteration of sand, sand, sand,
unless where some miserable fountain stagnates, forbids all approach to
familiarity: nothing is circumstantiated or differenced: travel it for
three generations, and you are no nearer to identification of its
parts: so that it amounts to travelling through an abstract idea. For
the desert, really I suspect the thing is hopeless: but, as regards our
planetary orbit, matters are mending: for the last six or seven years I
have heard of these fiery showers, but indeed I cannot say how much
earlier they were first noticed,[Footnote: Somewhere I have seen it
remarked, that if, on a public road, you meet a party of four women, it
is at least fifty to one that they are all laughing; whereas, if you
meet an equal party of my own unhappy sex, you may wager safely that
they are talking gravely, and that one of them is uttering the word
_money_. Hence it must be, viz, because our sisters are too much
occupied with the playful things of this earth, and our brothers with
its gravities, that neither party sufficiently watches the skies. And
_that_ accounts for a fact which often has struck myself, viz.,
that, in cities, on bright moonless nights, when some brilliant
skirmishings of the Aurora are exhibiting, or even a luminous arch,
which is a broad ribbon of snowy light that spans the skies, positively
unless I myself say to people--'Eyes upwards!' not one in a hundred,
male or female, but fails to see the show, though it may be seen
_gratis_, simply because their eyes are too uniformly reading the
earth. This downward direction of the eyes, however, must have been
worse in former ages: because else it never _could_ have happened
that, until Queen Anne's days, nobody ever hinted in a book that there
_was_ such a thing, or _could_ be such a thing, as the Aurora
Borealis; and in fact Halley had the credit of discovering it.] as
celebrating two annual festivals--one in August, one in November. You
are a little too late, reader, for seeing this year's summer festival;
but that's no reason why you should not engage a good seat for the
November meeting; which, if I recollect, is about the 9th, or the Lord
Mayor's day, and on the whole better worth seeing. For anything
_we_ know, this may be a great day in the earth's earlier history;
she may have put forth her original rose on this day, or tried her hand
at a primitive specimen of wheat; or she may, in fact, have survived
some gunpowder plot about this time; so that the meteoric appearance
may be a kind congratulating _feu-de-joye_, on the anniversary of
the happy event. What it is that the 'cosmogony man' in the 'Vicar of
Wakefield' would have thought of such novelties, whether he would have
favored us with his usual opinion upon such topics, viz., that
_anarchon ara kai ateleutaion to pan_, or have sported a new one
exclusively for this occasion, may be doubtful. What it is that
astronomers think, who are a kind of 'cosmogony men,' the reader may
learn from Dr. Nichol, Note B, (p. 139, 140.)

In taking leave of a book and a subject so well fitted to draw out the
highest mode of that grandeur, which _can_ connect itself with the
external, (a grandeur capable of drawing down a spiritual being to
earth, but not of raising an earthly being to heaven,) I would wish to
contribute my own brief word of homage to this grandeur by recalling
from a fading remembrance of twenty-five years back a short
_bravura_ of John Paul Richter. I call it a _bravura_, as being
intentionally a passage of display and elaborate execution; and
in this sense I may call it partly 'my own,' that at twenty-five years'
distance, (after one single reading,) it would not have been possible
for any man to report a passage of this length without greatly
disturbing [Footnote: _'Disturbing;'_--neither perhaps should I
much have sought to avoid alterations if the original had been lying
before me: for it takes the shape of a dream; and this most brilliant
of all German writers wanted in that field the severe simplicity, that
horror of the _too much_, belonging to Grecian architecture, which
is essential to the perfection of a dream considered as a work of art.
He was too elaborate, to realize the grandeur of the shadowy.] the
texture of the composition: by altering, one makes it partly one's own;
but it is right to mention, that the sublime turn at the end belongs
entirely to John Paul.

'God called up from dreams a man into the vestibule of heaven, saying,
--"Come thou hither, and see the glory of my house." And to the
servants that stood around his throne he said,--"Take him, and undress
him from his robes of flesh: cleanse his vision, and put a new breath
into his nostrils: only touch not with any change his human heart--the
heart that weeps and trembles." It was done; and, with a mighty angel
for his guide, the man stood ready for his infinite voyage; and from
the terraces of heaven, without sound or farewell, at once they wheeled
away into endless space. Sometimes with the solemn flight of angel wing
they fled through Zaarrahs of darkness, through wildernesses of death,
that divided the worlds of life: sometimes they swept over frontiers,
that were quickening under prophetic motions from God. Then, from a
distance that is counted only in heaven, light dawned for a time
through a sleepy film: by unutterable pace the light swept to
_them_, they by unutterable pace to the light: in a moment the
rushing of planets was upon them: in a moment the blazing of suns was
around them. Then came eternities of twilight, that revealed, but were
not revealed. To the right hand and to the left towered mighty
constellations, that by self-repetitions and answers from afar, that by
counter-positions, built up triumphal gates, whose architraves, whose
archways--horizontal, upright--rested, rose--at altitudes, by spans--
that seemed ghostly from infinitude. Without measure were the
architraves, past number were the archways, beyond memory the gates.
Within were stairs that scaled the eternities above, that descended to
the eternities below: above was below, below was above, to the man
stripped of gravitating body: depth was swallowed up in height
insurmountable, height was swallowed up in depth unfathomable. Suddenly
as thus they rode from infinite to infinite, suddenly as thus they
tilted over abysmal worlds, a mighty cry arose--that systems more
mysterious, that worlds more billowy,--other heights, and other
depths,--were coming, were nearing, were at hand. Then the man sighed,
and stopped, shuddered and wept. His over-laden heart uttered itself in
tears; and he said,--"Angel, I will go no farther. For the spirit of
man aches with this infinity. Insufferable is the glory of God. Let me
lie down in the grave from the persecutions of the infinite; for end, I
see, there is none." And from all the listening stars that shone around
issued a choral voice, "The man speaks truly: end there is none, that
ever yet we heard of." "End is there none?" the angel solemnly
demanded: "Is there indeed no end? And is this the sorrow that kills
you?" But no voice answered, that he might answer himself. Then the
angel threw up his glorious hands to the heaven of heavens; saying,
"End is there none to the universe of God? Lo! also there is no

NOTE.--On throwing his eyes hastily over the preceding paper, the
writer becomes afraid that some readers may give such an interpretation
to a few playful expressions upon the age of our earth, &c., as to
class him with those who use geology, cosmology, &c., for purposes of
attack, or insinuation against the Scriptures. Upon this point,
therefore, he wishes to make a firm explanation of his own opinions,
which, (whether right or wrong,) will liberate him, once and for all,
from any such jealousy.

It is sometimes said, that the revealer of a true religion, does not
come amongst men for the sake of teaching truths in science, or
correcting errors in science. Most justly is this said: but often in
terms far too feeble. For generally these terms are such as to imply,
that, although no function of his mission, it was yet open to him--
although not pressing with the force of an obligation upon the
revealer, it was yet at his discretion--if not to correct other men's
errors, yet at least in his own person to speak with scientific
precision. I contend that it was _not_. I contend, that to have
uttered the truths of astronomy, of geology, &c., at the era of new-
born Christianity, was not only _below_ the purposes of a
religion, but would have been _against_ them. Even upon errors of
a far more important class than any errors in science can ever be,--
superstitions, for instance, that degraded the very idea of God;
prejudices and false usages, that laid waste human happiness, (such as
slavery and many hundreds of other abuses that might be mentioned,) the
rule evidently acted upon by the Founder of Christianity was this--
Given the purification of the fountain, once assumed that the fountains
of truth are cleansed, all these derivative currents of evil will
cleanse themselves. And the only exceptions, which I remember, to this
rule, are two cases in which, from the personal appeal made to his
decision, Christ would have made himself a party to wretched delusions,
if he had not condescended to expose their folly. But, as a general
rule, the branches of error were disregarded, and the roots only
attacked. If, then, so lofty a station was taken with regard even to
such errors as had moral and spiritual relations, how much more with
regard to the comparative trifles, (as in the ultimate relations of
human nature they are,) of merely human science! But, for my part, I go
further, and assert, that upon three reasons it was impossible for any
messenger from God, (or offering himself in that character,) for a
moment to have descended into the communication of truth merely
scientific, or economic, or worldly. And the reasons are these:
_First_, Because it would have degraded his mission, by lowering
it to the base level of a collision with human curiosity, or with petty
and transitory interests. _Secondly_, Because it would have ruined
his mission; would utterly have prostrated the free agency and the
proper agency of that mission. He that, in those days, should have
proclaimed the true theory of the Solar System and the heavenly forces,
would have been shut up at once--as a lunatic likely to become
dangerous. But suppose him to have escaped _that_; still, as a
divine teacher, he has no liberty of caprice. He must stand to the
promises of his own acts. Uttering the first truth of a science, he is
pledged to the second: taking the main step, he is committed to all
which follow. He is thrown at once upon the endless controversies which
science in every stage provokes, and in none more than in the earliest.
Or, if he retires as from a scene of contest that he had not
anticipated, he retires as one confessing a human precipitance and a
human oversight, weaknesses, venial in others, but fatal to the
pretensions of a divine teacher. Starting besides from such
pretensions, he could not (as others might) have the privilege of
selecting arbitrarily or partially. If upon one science, then upon
all,--if upon science, then upon, art,--if upon art and science, then
upon _every_ branch of social economy, upon _every_ organ of
civilization, his reformations and advances are equally due; due as to
all, if due as to any. To move in one direction, is constructively to
undertake for all. Without power to retreat, he has thus thrown the
intellectual interests of his followers into a channel utterly alien to
the purposes of a spiritual mission.

Thus far he has simply failed: but next comes a worse result; an evil,
not negative but positive. Because, _thirdly_, to apply the light
of a revelation for the benefit of a merely human science, which is
virtually done by so applying the illumination of an _inspired_
teacher, is--to assault capitally the scheme of God's discipline and
training for man. To improve by _heavenly_ means, if but in one
solitary science--to lighten, if but in one solitary section, the
condition of difficulty which had been designed for the strengthening
and training of human faculties, is _pro tanto_ to disturb--to
cancel--to contradict a previous purpose of God, made known by silent
indications from the beginning of the world. Wherefore did God give to
man the powers for contending with scientific difficulties? Wherefore
did he lay a secret train of continual occasions, that should rise, by
intervals, through thousands of generations, for provoking and
developing those activities in man's intellect, if, after all, he is to
send a messenger of his own, more than human, to intercept and strangle
all these great purposes? When, therefore, the persecutors of Galileo,
alleged that Jupiter, for instance, could not move in the way alleged,
because then the Bible would have proclaimed it,--as they thus threw
back upon God the burthen of discovery, which he had thrown upon
Galileo, why did they not, by following out their own logic, throw upon
the Bible the duty of discovering the telescope, or discovering the
satellites of Jupiter? And, as no such discoveries were there, why did
they not, by parity of logic, and for mere consistency, deny the
telescope as a fact, deny the Jovian planets as facts? But this it is
to mistake the very meaning and purposes of a revelation. A revelation
is not made for the purpose of showing to idle men that which they may
show to themselves, by faculties already given to them, if only they
will exert those faculties, but for the purpose of showing _that_
which the moral darkness of man will not, without supernatural light,
allow him to perceive. With disdain, therefore, must every considerate
person regard the notion,--that God could wilfully interfere with his
own plans, by accrediting ambassadors to reveal astronomy, or any other
science, which he has commanded men to cultivate _without_
revelation, by endowing them with all the natural powers for doing so.

Even as regards astronomy, a science so nearly allying itself to
religion by the loftiness and by the purity of its contemplations,
Scripture is nowhere the _parent_ of any doctrine, nor so much as
the silent sanctioner of any doctrine. Scripture cannot become the
author of falsehood,--though it were as to a trifle, cannot become a
party to falsehood. And it is made impossible for Scripture to teach
falsely, by the simple fact that Scripture, on such subjects, will not
condescend to teach at all. The Bible adopts the erroneous language of
men, (which at any rate it must do, in order to make itself
understood,) not by way of sanctioning a theory, but by way of using a
fact. The Bible _uses_ (postulates) the phenomena of day and
night, of summer and winter, and expresses them, in relation to their
causes, as _men_ express them, men, even, that are scientific
astronomers. But the results, which are all that concern Scripture, are
equally true, whether accounted for by one hypothesis which is
philosophically just, or by another which is popular and erring.

Now, on the other hand, in geology and cosmology, the case is still
stronger. _Here_ there is no opening for a compliance even with
popular language. _Here_, where there is no such stream of
apparent phenomena running counter (as in astronomy) to the real
phenomena, neither is there any popular language opposed to the
scientific. The whole are abstruse speculations, even as regards their
objects, not dreamed of as possibilities, either in their true aspects
or their false aspects, till modern times. The Scriptures, therefore,
nowhere allude to such sciences, either under the shape of histories,
applied to processes current and in movement, or under the shape of
theories applied to processes past and accomplished. The Mosaic
cosmogony, indeed, gives the succession of natural births; and that
succession will doubtless be more and more confirmed and illustrated as
geology advances. But as to the time, the duration, of this cosmogony,
it is the idlest of notions that the Scriptures either have or could
have condescended to human curiosity upon so awful a prologue to the
drama of this world. Genesis would no more have indulged so mean a
passion with respect to the mysterious inauguration of the world, than
the Apocalypse with respect to its mysterious close. 'Yet the six
_days_ of Moses!' Days! But is any man so little versed in biblical
language as not to know that (except in the merely historical
parts of the Jewish records) every section of time has a secret and
separate acceptation in the Scriptures? Does an _æon_, though a
Grecian word, bear scripturally [either in Daniel or in Saint John] any
sense known to Grecian ears? Do the seventy _weeks_ of the prophet
mean weeks in the sense of human calendars? Already the Psalms, (xc)
already St. Peter, (2d Epist.) warn us of a peculiar sense attached to
the word _day_ in divine ears? And who of the innumerable
interpreters understands the twelve hundred and odd days in Daniel, or
his two thousand and odd days, to mean, by possibility, periods of
twenty-four hours? Surely the theme of Moses was as mystical, and as
much entitled to the benefit of mystical language, as that of the

The sum of the matter is this:--God, by a Hebrew prophet, is sublimely
described as _the Revealer_; and, in variation of his own expression,
the same prophet describes him as the Being 'that knoweth the
darkness.' Under no idea can the relations of God to man be more
grandly expressed. But of what is he the revealer? Not surely of those
things which he has enabled man to reveal for himself, and which he has
commanded him so to reveal, but of those things which, were it not
through special light from heaven, must eternally remain sealed up in
the inaccessible darkness. On this principle we should all laugh at a
revealed cookery. But essentially the same ridicule applies to a
revealed astronomy, or a revealed geology. As a fact, there _is_
no such astronomy or geology: as a possibility, by the _a priori_
argument which I have used, (viz., that a revelation on such fields,
would contradict _other_ machineries of providence,) there _can_ be no
such astronomy or geology. Consequently there _can_ be none such in the
Bible. Consequently there _is_ none. Consequently there can be no
schism or feud upon _these_ subjects between the Bible and the
philosophies outside. Geology is a field left open, with the amplest
permission from above, to the widest and wildest speculations of man.


It is said continually--that the age of miracles is past. We deny that
it is so in any sense which implies this age to differ from all other
generations of man except one. It is neither past, nor ought we to wish
it past. Superstition is no vice in the constitution of man: it is not
true that, in any philosophic view, _primus in orbe deos fecit timor_
--meaning by _fecit_ even so much as _raised into light_. As Burke
remarked, the _timor_ at least must be presumed to preexist, and must
be accounted for, if not the gods. If the fear created the gods, what
created the fear? Far more true, and more just to the grandeur of man,
it would have been to say--_Primus in orbe deos fecit sensus
infiniti_. Even in the lowest Caffre, more goes to the sense of a
divine being than simply his wrath or his power. Superstition, indeed,
or the sympathy with the invisible, is the great test of man's nature,
as an earthly combining with a celestial. In superstition lies the
possibility of religion. And though superstition is often injurious,
degrading, demoralizing, it is so, not as a form of corruption or
degradation, but as a form of non-development. The crab is harsh, and
for itself worthless. But it is the germinal form of innumerable finer
fruits: not apples only the most exquisite, and pears; the peach and
the nectarine are said to have radiated from this austere stock when
cultured, developed, and transferred to all varieties of climate.
Superstition will finally pass into pure forms of religion as man
advances. It would be matter of lamentation to hear that superstition
had at all decayed until man had made corresponding steps in the
purification and development of his intellect as applicable to
religious faith. Let us hope that this is not so. And, by way of
judging, let us throw a hasty eye over the modes of popular
superstition. If these manifest their vitality, it will prove that the
popular intellect does not go along with the bookish or the worldly
(philosophic we cannot call it) in pronouncing the miraculous extinct.
The popular feeling is all in all.

This function of miraculous power, which is most widely diffused
through Pagan and Christian ages alike, but which has the least root in
the solemnities of the imagination, we may call the _Ovidian_. By
way of distinction, it may be so called; and with some justice, since
Ovid in his _Metamorphoses_ gave the first elaborate record of
such a tendency in human superstition. It is a movement of superstition
under the domination of human affections; a mode of spiritual awe which
seeks to reconcile itself with human tenderness or admiration; and
which represents supernatural power as expressing itself by a sympathy
with human distress or passion concurrently with human sympathies, and
as supporting that blended sympathy by a symbol incarnated with the
fixed agencies of nature. For instance, a pair of youthful lovers
perish by a double suicide originating in a fatal mistake, and a
mistake operating in each case through a noble self-oblivion. The tree
under which their meeting has been concerted, and which witnesses their
tragedy, is supposed ever afterwards to express the divine sympathy
with this catastrophe in the gloomy color of its fruit:--

  'At tu, quæ ramis (arbor!) miserabile corpus
  Nunc tegis unius, mox es tectura duorum,
  Signa tene cædis:--pullosque et luctibus aptos
  Semper habe fructus--gemini monumenta cruoris:'

Such is the dying adjuration of the lady to the tree. And the fruit
becomes from that time a monument of a double sympathy--sympathy from
man, sympathy from a dark power standing behind the agencies of nature,
and speaking through them. Meantime the object of this sympathy is
understood to be not the individual catastrophe, but the universal case
of unfortunate love exemplified in this particular romance. The
inimitable grace with which Ovid has delivered these early traditions
of human tenderness, blending with human superstition, is notorious;
the artfulness of the pervading connection, by which every tale in the
long succession is made to arise spontaneously out of that which
precedes, is absolutely unrivalled; and this it was, with his luxuriant
gayety, which procured for him a preference, even with Milton, a poet
so opposite by intellectual constitution. It is but reasonable,
therefore, that this function of the miraculous should bear the name of
_Ovidian_. Pagan it was in its birth; and to paganism its titles
ultimately ascend. Yet we know that in the transitional state through
the centuries succeeding to Christ, during which paganism and
Christianity were slowly descending and ascending, as if from two
different strata of the atmosphere, the two powers interchanged
whatsoever they could. (See Conyer's Middleton; and see Blount of our
own days.) It marked the earthly nature of paganism, that it could
borrow little or nothing by organization: it was fitted to no
expansion. But the true faith, from its vast and comprehensive
adaptation to the nature of man, lent itself to many corruptions--some
deadly in their tendencies, some harmless. Amongst these last was the
Ovidian form of connecting the unseen powers moving in nature with
human sympathies of love or reverence. The legends of this kind are
universal and endless. No land, the most austere in its Protestantism,
but has adopted these superstitions: and everywhere by those even who
reject them they are entertained with some degree of affectionate
respect. That the ass, which in its very degradation still retains an
under-power of sublimity, [Footnote: '_An under-power of sublimity_.'--
Everybody knows that Homer compared the Telamonian Ajax, in a moment of
heroic endurance, to an ass. This, however, was only under a momentary
glance from a peculiar angle of the case. But the Mahometan, too
solemn, and also perhaps too stupid to catch the fanciful colors of
things, absolutely by choice, under the Bagdad Caliphate, decorated a
most favorite hero with the title of the _Ass_--which title is
repeated with veneration to this day. The wild ass is one of the few
animals which has the reputation of never flying from an enemy.] or of
sublime suggestion through its ancient connection with the wilderness,
with the Orient, with Jerusalem, should have been honored amongst all
animals, by the visible impression upon its back of Christian symbols
--seems reasonable even to the infantine understanding when made
acquainted with its meekness, its patience, its suffering life, and
its association with the founder of Christianity in one great
triumphal solemnity. The very man who brutally abuses it, and feels a
hardhearted contempt for its misery and its submission, has a semi-
conscious feeling that the same qualities were possibly those which
recommended it to a distinction, [Footnote: '_Which recommended it to
a distinction_.'--It might be objected that the Oriental ass was often
a superb animal; that it is spoken of prophetically as such; and that
historically the Syrian ass is made known to us as having been
used in the prosperous ages of Judea for the riding of princes. But
this is no objection. Those circumstances in the history of the ass
were requisite to establish its symbolic propriety in a great symbolic
pageant of triumph. Whilst, on the other hand, the individual animal,
there is good reason to think, was marked by all the qualities of the
general race as a suffering and unoffending tribe in the animal
creation. The asses on which princes rode were of a separate color, of
a peculiar breed, and improved, like the English racer, by continual
care.] when all things were valued upon a scale inverse to that of the
world. Certain it is, that in all Christian lands the legend about the
ass is current amongst the rural population. The haddock, again,
amongst marine animals, is supposed, throughout all maritime Europe, to
be a privileged fish; even in austere Scotland, every child can point
out the impression of St. Peter's thumb, by which from age to age it is
distinguished from fishes having otherwise an external resemblance. All
domesticated cattle, having the benefit of man's guardianship and care,
are believed throughout England and Germany to go down upon their knees
at one particular moment of Christmas eve, when the fields are covered
with darkness, when no eye looks down but that of God, and when the
exact anniversary hour revolves of the angelic song, once rolling over
the fields and flocks of Palestine. [Footnote: Mahometanism, which
everywhere pillages Christianity, cannot but have its own face at times
glorified by its stolen jewels. This solemn hour of jubilation,
gathering even the brutal natures into its fold, recalls accordingly
the Mahometan legend (which the reader may remember is one of those
incorporated into Southey's _Thalaba_) of a great hour revolving
once in every year, during which the gates of Paradise were thrown open
to their utmost extent, and gales of happiness issued forth upon the
total family of man.] The Glastonbury Thorn is a more local
superstition; but at one time the legend was as widely diffused as that
of Loretto, with the angelic translation of its sanctities: on
Christmas morning, it was devoutly believed by all Christendom, that
this holy thorn put forth its annual blossoms. And with respect to the
aspen tree, which Mrs. Hemans very naturally mistook for a Welsh
legend, having first heard it in Denbighshire, the popular faith is
universal--that it shivers mystically in sympathy with the horror of
that mother tree in Palestine which was compelled to furnish materials
for the cross. Neither would it in this case be any objection, if a
passage were produced from Solinus or Theophrastus, implying that the
aspen tree had always shivered--for the tree might presumably be
penetrated by remote presentiments, as well as by remote remembrances.
In so vast a case the obscure sympathy should stretch, Janus-like, each
way. And an objection of the same kind to the rainbow, considered as
the sign or seal by which God attested his covenant in bar of all
future deluges, may be parried in something of the same way. It was not
then first created--true: but it was then first selected by preference,
amongst a multitude of natural signs as yet unappropriated, and then
first charged with the new function of a message and a ratification to
man. Pretty much the same theory, that is, the same way of accounting
for the natural existence without disturbing the supernatural
functions, may be applied to the great constellation of the other
hemisphere, called the Southern Cross. It is viewed popularly in South
America, and the southern parts of our northern hemisphere, as the
great banner, or gonfalon, held aloft by Heaven before the Spanish
heralds of the true faith in 1492. To that superstitious and ignorant
race it costs not an effort to suppose, that by some synchronizing
miracle, the constellation had been then specially called into
existence at the very moment when the first Christian procession,
bearing a cross in their arms, solemnly stepped on shore from the
vessels of Christendom. We Protestants know better: we understand the
impossibility of supposing such a narrow and local reference in orbs,
so transcendently vast as those composing the constellation--orbs
removed from each other by such unvoyageable worlds of space, and
having, in fact, no real reference to each other more than to any other
heavenly bodies whatsoever. The unity of synthesis, by which they are
composed into one figure of a cross, we know to be a mere accidental
result from an arbitrary synthesis of human fancy. Take such and such
stars, compose them into letters, and they will spell such a word. But
still it was our own choice--a synthesis of our own fancy, originally
to combine them in this way. They might be divided from each other, and
otherwise combined. All this is true: and yet, as the combination does
spontaneously offer itself [Footnote: '_Does spontaneously offer
itself._'--Heber (Bishop of Calcutta) complains that this constellation
is not composed of stars answering his expectation in point of
magnitude. But he admits that the dark barren space around it
gives to this inferior magnitude a very advantageous relief.] to every
eye, as the glorious cross does really glitter for ever through the
silent hours of a vast hemisphere, even they who are not superstitious,
may willingly yield to the belief--that, as the rainbow was laid in the
very elements and necessities of nature, yet still bearing a pre-
dedication to a service which would not be called for until many ages
had passed, so also the mysterious cipher of man's imperishable hopes
may have been entwined and enwreathed with the starry heavens from
their earliest creation, as a prefiguration--as a silent heraldry of
hope through one period, and as a heraldry of gratitude through the

All these cases which we have been rehearsing, taking them in the
fullest literality, agree in this general point of union--they are all
silent incarnations of miraculous power--miracles, supposing them to
have been such originally, locked up and embodied in the regular course
of nature, just as we see lineaments of faces and of forms in
petrifactions, in variegated marbles, in spars, or in rocky strata,
which our fancy interprets as once having been real human existences;
but which are now confounded with the substance of a mineral product.
Even those who are most superstitious, therefore, look upon cases of
this order as occupying a midway station between the physical and the
hyperphysical, between the regular course of nature and the
providential interruption of that course. The stream of the miraculous
is here confluent with the stream of the natural. By such legends the
credulous man finds his superstition but little nursed; the incredulous
finds his philosophy but little revolted. Both alike will be willing to
admit, for instance, that the apparent act of reverential thanksgiving,
in certain birds, when drinking, is caused and supported by a
physiological arrangement; and yet, perhaps, both alike would bend so
far to the legendary faith as to allow a child to believe, and would
perceive a pure childlike beauty in believing, that the bird was thus
rendering a homage of deep thankfulness to the universal Father, who
watches for the safety of sparrows, and sends his rain upon the just
and upon the unjust. In short, the faith in this order of the physico-
miraculous is open alike to the sceptical and the non-sceptical: it is
touched superficially with the coloring of superstition, with its
tenderness, its humility, its thankfulness, its awe; but, on the other
hand, it is not therefore tainted with the coarseness, with the
silliness, with the credulity of superstition. Such a faith reposes
upon the universal signs diffused through nature, and blends with the
mysterious of natural grandeurs wherever found--with the mysterious of
the starry heavens, with the mysterious of music, and with that
infinite form of the mysterious for man's dimmest misgivings--

  'Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns.'

But, from this earliest note in the ascending scale of superstitious
faith, let us pass to a more alarming key. This first, which we have
styled (in equity as well as for distinction) the _Ovidian_, is
too ærial, too allegoric, almost to be susceptible of much terror. It
is the mere _fancy_, in a mood half-playful, half-tender, which
submits to the belief. It is the feeling, the sentiment, which creates
the faith; not the faith which creates the feeling. And thus far we see
that modern feeling and Christian feeling has been to the full as
operative as any that is peculiar to paganism; judging by the Romish
_Legenda_, very much more so. The Ovidian illustrations, under a
false superstition, are entitled to give the designation, as being the
first, the earliest, but not at all as the richest. Besides that,
Ovid's illustrations emanated often from himself individually, not from
the popular mind of his country; ours of the same classification
uniformly repose on large popular traditions from the whole of
Christian antiquity. These again are agencies of the supernatural which
can never have a private or personal application; they belong to all
mankind and to all generations. But the next in order are more solemn;
they become terrific by becoming personal. These comprehend all that
vast body of the marvellous which is expressed by the word _Ominous_.
On this head, as dividing itself into the ancient and modern, we will
speak next.

Everybody is aware of the deep emphasis which the Pagans laid upon
words and upon names, under this aspect of the ominous. The name of
several places was formally changed by the Roman government, solely
with a view to that contagion of evil which was thought to lurk in the
syllables, if taken significantly. Thus, the town of Maleventum, (Ill-
come, as one might render it,) had its name changed by the Romans to
Beneventum, (or Welcome.) _Epidamnum_ again, the Grecian Calais,
corresponding to the Roman Dover of Brundusium, was a name that would
have startled the stoutest-hearted Roman 'from his propriety.' Had he
suffered this name to escape him inadvertently, his spirits would have
forsaken him--he would have pined away under a certainty of misfortune,
like a poor Negro of Koromantyn who is the victim of Obi.[Footnote:
'_The victim of Obi._'--It seems worthy of notice, that this
magical fascination is generally called Obi, and the magicians Obeah
men, throughout Guinea, Negroland, &c.; whilst the Hebrew or Syriac
word for the rites of necromancy, was _Ob_ or _Obh_, at least
when ventriloquism was concerned.] As a Greek word, which it was, the
name imported no ill; but for a Roman to say _Ibo Epidamnum_, was
in effect saying, though in a hybrid dialect, half-Greek half-Roman, 'I
will go to ruin.' The name was therefore changed to Dyrrachium; a
substitution which quieted more anxieties in Roman hearts than the
erection of a light-house or the deepening of the harbor mouth. A case
equally strong, to take one out of many hundreds that have come down to
us, is reported by Livy. There was an officer in a Roman legion, at
some period of the Republic, who bore the name either of Atrius Umber
or Umbrius Ater: and this man being ordered on some expedition, the
soldiers refused to follow him. They did right. We remember that Mr.
Coleridge used facetiously to call the well-known sister of Dr. Aikin,
Mrs. Barbauld, 'that pleonasm of nakedness'--the idea of nakedness
being reduplicated and reverberated in the _bare_ and the _bald_.
This Atrius Umber might be called 'that pleonasm of darkness;' and one
might say to him, in the words of Othello, 'What needs this iteration?'
To serve under the Gloomy was enough to darken the spirit of hope; but
to serve under the Black Gloomy was really rushing upon destruction.
Yet it will be alleged that Captain Death was a most favorite and
heroic leader in the English navy; and that in our own times, Admiral
Coffin, though an American by birth, has not been unpopular in the same
service. This is true: and all that can be said is, that these names
were two-edged swords, which might be made to tell against the enemy as
well as against friends. And possibly the Roman centurion might have
turned his name to the same account, had he possessed the great
Dictator's presence of mind; for he, when landing in Africa, having
happened to stumble--an omen of the worst character, in Roman
estimation--took out its sting by following up his own
oversight, as if it had been intentional, falling to the ground,
kissing it, and ejaculating that in this way he appropriated the soil.

Omens of every class were certainly regarded, in ancient Rome, with a
reverence that can hardly be surpassed. But yet, with respect to these
omens derived from names, it is certain that our modern times have more
memorable examples on record. Out of a large number which occur to us,
we will cite two:--The present King of the French bore in his boyish
days a title which he would not have borne, but for an omen of bad
augury attached to his proper title. He was called the Duc de Chartres
before the Revolution, whereas his proper title was Duc de Valois. And
the origin of the change was this:--The Regent's father had been the
sole brother of Louis Quatorze. He married for his first wife our
English princess Henrietta, the sister of Charles II., (and through her
daughter, by the way, it is that the house of Savoy, _i.e._ of
Sardinia, has pretensions to the English throne.) This unhappy lady, it
is too well established, was poisoned. Voltaire, amongst many others,
has affected to doubt the fact; for which in his time there might be
some excuse. But since then better evidences have placed the matter
beyond all question. We now know both the fact, and the how, and the
why. The Duke, who probably was no party to the murder of his young
wife, though otherwise on bad terms with her, married for his second
wife a coarse German princess, homely in every sense, and a singular
contrast to the elegant creature whom he had lost. She was a daughter
of the Bavarian Elector; ill-tempered by her own confession, self-
willed, and a plain speaker to excess; but otherwise a woman of honest
German principles. Unhappy she was through a long life; unhappy through
the monotony as well as the malicious intrigues of the French court;
and so much so, that she did her best (though without effect) to
prevent her Bavarian niece from becoming dauphiness. She acquits her
husband, however, in the memoirs which she left behind, of any
intentional share in her unhappiness; she describes him constantly as a
well-disposed prince. But whether it were, that often walking in the
dusk through the numerous apartments of that vast mansion which her
husband had so much enlarged, naturally she turned her thoughts to the
injured lady who had presided there before herself; or whether it arose
from the inevitable gloom which broods continually over mighty palaces,
so much is known for certain, that one evening, in the twilight, she
met, at a remote quarter of the reception-rooms, something that she
conceived to be a spectre. What she fancied to have passed on that
occasion, was never known except to her nearest friends; and if she
made any explanations in her memoirs, the editor has thought fit to
suppress them. She mentions only, that in consequence of some ominous
circumstances relating to the title of _Valois_, which was the
proper second title of the Orleans family, her son, the Regent, had
assumed in his boyhood that of Duc de Chartres. His elder brother was
dead, so that the superior title was open to him; but, in consequence
of those mysterious omens, whatever they might be, which occasioned
much whispering at the time, the great title of Valois was laid aside
for ever as of bad augury; nor has it ever been resumed through a
century and a half that have followed that mysterious warning; nor will
it be resumed unless the numerous children of the present Orleans
branch should find themselves distressed for ancient titles; which is
not likely, since they enjoy the honors of the elder house, and are now
the _children of France_ in a technical sense.

Here we have a great European case of state omens in the eldest of
Christian houses. The next which we shall cite is equally a state case,
and carries its public verification along with itself. In the spring of
1799, when Napoleon was lying before Acre, he became anxious for news
from Upper Egypt, whither he had despatched Dessaix in pursuit of a
distinguished Mameluke leader. This was in the middle of May. Not many
days after, a courier arrived with favorable despatches--favorable in
the main, but reporting one tragical occurrence on a small scale that,
to Napoleon, for a superstitious reason, outweighed the public
prosperity. A _djerme_, or Nile boat of the largest class, having
on board a large party of troops and of wounded men, together with most
of a regimental band, had run ashore at the village of Benouth. No case
could be more hopeless. The neighboring Arabs were of the Yambo tribe--
of all Arabs the most ferocious. These Arabs and the Fellahs (whom, by
the way, many of our countrymen are so ready to represent as friendly
to the French and hostile to ourselves,) had taken the opportunity of
attacking the vessel. The engagement was obstinate; but at length the
inevitable catastrophe could be delayed no longer. The commander, an
Italian named Morandi, was a brave man; any fate appeared better than
that which awaited him from an enemy so malignant. He set fire to the
powder magazine; the vessel blew up; Morandi perished in the Nile; and
all of less nerve, who had previously reached the shore in safety, were
put to death to the very last man, with cruelties the most detestable,
by their inhuman enemies. For all this Napoleon cared little; but one
solitary fact there was in the report which struck him with
consternation. This ill-fated _djerme_--what was it called? It was
called _L'Italie_; and in the name of the vessel Napoleon read an
augury of the fate which had befallen the Italian territory. Considered
as a dependency of France, he felt certain that Italy was lost; and
Napoleon was inconsolable. But what possible connection, it was asked,
can exist between this vessel on the Nile and a remote peninsula of
Southern Europe? 'No matter,' replied Napoleon; 'my presentiments never
deceive me. You will see that all is ruined. I am satisfied that my
Italy, my conquest, is lost to France!' So, indeed, it was. All
European news had long been intercepted by the English cruisers; but
immediately after the battle with the Vizier in July 1799, an English
admiral first informed the French army of Egypt that Massena and others
had lost all that Bonaparte had won in 1796. But it is a strange
illustration of human blindness, that this very subject of Napoleon's
lamentation--this very campaign of 1799--it was, with its blunders and
its long equipage of disasters, that paved the way for his own
elevation to the Consulship, just seven calendar months from the
receipt of that Egyptian despatch; since most certainly, in the
struggle of Brumaire 1799, doubtful and critical through every stage,
it was the pointed contrast between _his_ Italian campaigns and
those of his successors which gave effect to Napoleon's pretensions
with the political combatants, and which procured them a ratification
amongst the people. The loss of Italy was essential to the full effect
of Napoleon's previous conquest. That and the imbecile characters of
Napoleon's chief military opponents were the true keys to the great
revolution of Brumaire. The stone which he rejected became the keystone
of the arch. So that, after all, he valued the omen falsely; though the
very next news from Europe, courteously communicated by his English
enemies, showed that he had interpreted its meaning rightly.

These omens, derived from names, are therefore common to the ancient
and the modern world. But perhaps, in strict logic, they ought to have
been classed as one subdivision or variety under a much larger head,
viz. words generally, no matter whether proper names or appellatives,
as operative powers and agencies, having, that is to say, a charmed
power against some party concerned from the moment that they leave the

Homer describes prayers as having a separate life, rising buoyantly
upon wings, and making their way upwards to the throne of Jove. Such,
but in a sense gloomy and terrific, is the force ascribed under a
widespread superstition, ancient and modern, to words uttered on
critical occasions; or to words uttered at any time, which point to
critical occasions. Hence the doctrine of _euphaemismos_, the
necessity of abstaining from strong words or direct words in expressing
fatal contingencies. It was shocking, at all times of paganism, to say
of a third person--'If he should die;' or to suppose the case that he
might be murdered. The very word _death_ was consecrated and
forbidden. _Si quiddam humanum passus fuerit_ was the extreme form
to which men advanced in such cases. And this scrupulous feeling,
originally founded on the supposed efficacy of words, prevails to this
day. It is a feeling undoubtedly supported by good taste, which
strongly impresses upon us all the discordant tone of all impassioned
subjects, (death, religion, &c.,) with the common key of ordinary
conversation. But good taste is not in itself sufficient to account for
a scrupulousness so general and so austere. In the lowest classes there
is a shuddering recoil still felt from uttering coarsely and roundly
the anticipation of a person's death. Suppose a child, heir to some
estate, the subject of conversation--the hypothesis of his death is put
cautiously, under such forms as, 'If anything but good should happen;'
'if any change should occur;' 'if any of us should chance to miscarry;'
and so forth. Always a modified expression is sought--always an
indirect one. And this timidity arises under the old superstition still
lingering amongst men, like that ancient awe, alluded to by Wordsworth,
for the sea and its deep secrets--feelings that have not, no, nor ever
will, utterly decay. No excess of nautical skill will ever perfectly
disenchant the great abyss from its terrors--no progressive knowledge
will ever medicine that dread misgiving of a mysterious and pathless
power given to words of a certain import, or uttered in certain
situations, by a parent, to persecuting or insulting children; by the
victim of horrible oppression, when laboring in final agonies; and by
others, whether cursing or blessing, who stand central to great
passions, to great interests, or to great perplexities.

And here, by way of parenthesis, we may stop to explain the force of
that expression, so common in Scripture, '_Thou hast said it._' It
is an answer often adopted by our Saviour; and the meaning we hold to
be this: Many forms in eastern idioms, as well as in the Greek
occasionally, though meant _interrogatively_, are of a nature to
convey a direct categorical _affirmation_, unless as their meaning
is modified by the cadence and intonation. _Art thou_, detached
from this vocal and accentual modification, is equivalent to _thou
art_. Nay, even apart from this accident, the popular belief
authorized the notion, that simply to have uttered any great thesis,
though unconsciously--simply to have united verbally any two great
ideas, though for a purpose the most different or even opposite, had
the mysterious power of realizing them in act. An exclamation, though
in the purest spirit of sport, to a boy, '_You shall be our
imperator_,' was many times supposed to be the forerunner and fatal
mandate for the boy's elevation. Such words executed themselves. To
connect, though but for denial or for mockery, the ideas of Jesus and
the Messiah, furnished an augury that eventually they would be found to
coincide, and to have their coincidence admitted. It was an
_argumentum ad hominem_, and drawn from a popular faith.

But a modern reader will object the want of an accompanying design or
serious meaning on the part of him who utters the words--he never meant
his words to be taken seriously--nay, his purpose was the very
opposite. True: and precisely that is the reason why his words are
likely to operate effectually, and why they should be feared. Here lies
the critical point which most of all distinguishes this faith. Words
took effect, not merely in default of a serious use, but exactly in
consequence of that default. It was the chance word, the stray word,
the word uttered in jest, or in trifling, or in scorn, or
unconsciously, which took effect; whilst ten thousand words, uttered
with purpose and deliberation, were sure to prove inert. One case will
illustrate this:--Alexander of Macedon, in the outset of his great
expedition, consulted the oracle at Delphi. For the sake of his army,
had he been even without personal faith, he desired to have his
enterprise consecrated. No persuasions, however, would move the
priestess to enter upon her painful and agitating duties for the sake
of obtaining the regular answer of the god. Wearied with this,
Alexander seized the great lady by the arm, and using as much violence
as was becoming to the two characters--of a great prince acting and a
great priestess suffering--he pushed her gently backwards to the tripod
on which, in her professional character, she was to seat herself. Upon
this, in the hurry and excitement of the moment, the priestess
exclaimed, _O pai, anixaitos ei--O son, thou art irresistible_;
never adverting for an instant to his martial purposes, but simply to
his personal importunities. The person whom she thought of as incapable
of resistance, was herself, and all she meant _consciously_ was--O
son, I can refuse nothing to one so earnest. But mark what followed:
Alexander desisted at once--he asked for no further oracle--he refused
it, and exclaimed joyously:--'Now then, noble priestess, farewell; I
have the oracle--I have your answer, and better than any which you
could deliver from the tripod. I am invincible--so you have declared,
you cannot revoke it. True, you thought not of Persia--you thought only
of my importunity. But that very fact is what ratifies your answer. In
its blindness I recognise its truth. An oracle from a god might be
distorted by political ministers of the god, as in time past too often
has been suspected. The oracle has been said to _Medize_, and in
my own father's time to _Philippize_. But an oracle delivered
unconsciously, indirectly, blindly, that is the oracle which cannot
deceive.' Such was the all-famous oracle which Alexander accepted--such
was the oracle on which he and his army reposing went forth 'conquering
and to conquer.'

Exactly on this principle do the Turks act, in putting so high a value
on the words of idiots. Enlightened Christians have often wondered at
their allowing any weight to people bereft of understanding. But that
is the very reason for allowing them weight: that very defect it is
which makes them capable of being organs for conveying words from
higher intelligences. A fine human intelligence cannot be a passive
instrument--it cannot be a mere tube for conveying the words of
inspiration: such an intelligence will intermingle ideas of its own, or
otherwise modify what is given, and pollute what is sacred.

It is also on this principle that the whole practice and doctrine of
Sortilegy rest. Let us confine ourselves to that mode of sortilegy
which is conducted by throwing open privileged books at random, leaving
to chance the page and the particular line on which the oracular
functions are thrown. The books used have varied with the caprice or
the error of ages. Once the Hebrew Scriptures had the preference.
Probably they were laid aside, not because the reverence for their
authority decayed, but because it increased. In later times Virgil has
been the favorite. Considering the very limited range of ideas to which
Virgil was tied by his theme--a colonizing expedition in a barbarous
age, no worse book could have been selected: [Footnote: '_No worse
book could have been selected._'--The probable reason for making so
unhappy a choice seems to have been that Virgil, in the middle ages,
had the character of a necromancer, a diviner, &c. This we all know
from Dante. Now, the original reason for this strange translation of
character and functions we hold to have arisen from the circumstance of
his maternal grandfather having borne the name of _Magus_. People
in those ages held that a powerful enchanter, exorciser, &c., must have
a magician amongst his _cognati_; the power must run in the blood,
which on the maternal side could be undeniably ascertained. Under this
preconception, they took Magus not for a proper name, but for a
professional designation. Amongst many illustrations of the magical
character sustained by Virgil in the middle ages, we may mention that a
writer, about the year 1200, or the era of our Robin Hood, published by
Montfaucon, and cited by Gibbon in his last volume, says of Virgil,--
that '_Captus a Romanis invisibiliter exiit, ivitque Neapopolim_.'] so
little indeed does the AEneid exhibit of human life in its
multiformity, that much tampering with the text is required
to bring real cases of human interest and real situations within the
scope of any Virgilian sentence, though aided by the utmost latitude of
accommodation. A king, a soldier, a sailor, &c., might look for
correspondences to their own circumstances; but not many others.
Accordingly, everybody remembers the remarkable answer which Charles I.
received at Oxford from this Virgilian oracle, about the opening of the
Parliamentary war. But from this limitation in the range of ideas it
was that others, and very pious people too, have not thought it profane
to resume the old reliance on the Scriptures. No case, indeed, can try
so severely, or put upon record so conspicuously, this indestructible
propensity for seeking light out of darkness--this thirst for looking
into the future by the aid of dice, real or figurative, as the fact of
men eminent for piety having yielded to the temptation. We give one
instance--the instance of a person who, in _practical_ theology,
has been, perhaps, more popular than any other in any church. Dr.
Doddridge, in his earlier days, was in a dilemma both of conscience and
of taste as to the election he should make between two situations, one
in possession, both at his command. He was settled at Harborough, in
Leicestershire, and was 'pleasing himself with the view of a
continuance' in that situation. True, he had received an invitation to
Northampton; but the reasons against complying seemed so strong, that
nothing was wanting but the civility of going over to Northampton, and
making an apologetic farewell. On the last Sunday in November of the
year 1729, the doctor went and preached a sermon in conformity with
those purposes. 'But,' says he, 'on the morning of that day an incident
happened, which affected me greatly.' On the night previous, it seems,
he had been urged very importunately by his Northampton friends to
undertake the vacant office. Much personal kindness had concurred with
this public importunity: the good doctor was affected; he had prayed
fervently, alleging in his prayer, as the reason which chiefly weighed
with him to reject the offer, that it was far beyond his forces, and
chiefly because he was too young [Footnote: '_Because he was too
young_'--Dr. Doddridge was born in the summer of 1702; consequently
he was at this era of his life about twenty-seven years old, and
consequently not so obviously entitled to the excuse of youth. But he
pleaded his youth, not with a view to the exertions required, but to
the _auctoritas_ and responsibilities of the situation.] and had
no assistant. He goes on thus:--'As soon as ever this address' (meaning
the prayer) 'was ended, I passed through a room of the house in which I
lodged, where a child was reading to his mother, and the only words I
heard distinctly were these, _And as thy days, so shall thy strength
be_.' This singular coincidence between his own difficulty and a
scriptural line caught at random in passing hastily through a room,
(but observe, a line insulated from the context, and placed in high
relief to his ear,) shook his resolution. Accident co-operated; a
promise to be fulfilled at Northampton, in a certain contingency, fell
due at the instant; the doctor was detained, this detention gave time
for further representations; new motives arose, old difficulties were
removed, and finally the doctor saw, in all this succession of steps,
the first of which, however, lay in the _Sortes Biblicæ_, clear
indications of a providential guidance. With that conviction he took up
his abode at Northampton, and remained there for the next thirty-one
years, until he left it for his grave at Lisbon; in fact, he passed at
Northampton the whole of his public life. It must, therefore, be
allowed to stand upon the records of sortilegy, that in the main
direction of his life--not, indeed, as to its spirit, but as to its
form and local connections--a Protestant divine of much merit, and
chiefly in what regards practice, and of the class most opposed to
superstition, took his determining impulse from a variety of the
_Sortes Virgilianæ_.

This variety was known in early times to the Jews--as early, indeed, as
the era of the Grecian Pericles, if we are to believe the Talmud. It is
known familiarly to this day amongst Polish Jews, and is called
_Bathcol_, or the _daughter of a voice_; the meaning of which
appellation is this:--The _Urim and Thummim_, or oracle in the
breast-plate of the high priest, spoke directly from God. It was,
therefore, the original or mother-voice. But about the time of
Pericles, that is, exactly one hundred years before the time of
Alexander the Great, the light of prophecy was quenched in Malachi or
Haggai; and the oracular jewels in the breast-plate became
simultaneously dim. Henceforwards the mother-voice was heard no longer:
but to this succeeded an imperfect or daughter-voice, (_Bathcol_,)
which lay in the first words happening to arrest the attention at a
moment of perplexity. An illustration, which has been often quoted from
the Talmud, is to the following effect:--Rabbi Tochanan, and Rabbi
Simeon Ben Lachish, were anxious about a friend, Rabbi Samuel, six
hundred miles distant on the Euphrates. Whilst talking earnestly
together on this subject in Palestine, they passed a school; they
paused to listen: it was a child reading the first book of Samuel; and
the words which they caught were these--_And Samuel died_. These
words they received as a _Bath-col_: and the next horseman from
the Euphrates brought word accordingly that Rabbi Samuel had been
gathered to his fathers at some station on the Euphrates.

Here is the very same case, the same _Bath-col_ substantially,
which we have cited from Orton's _Life of Doddridge_. And Du Cange
himself notices, in his Glossary, the relation which this bore to the
Pagan _Sortes_. 'It was,' says he, 'a fantastical way of divination,
invented by the Jews, not unlike the _Sortes Virgilianæ_ of the
heathens. For, as with them the first words they happened to dip into
in the works of that poet were a kind of oracle whereby they predicted
future events,--so, with the Jews, when they appealed to _Bath-col_,
the first words they heard from any one's mouth were looked upon as a
voice from Heaven directing them in the matter they inquired about.'

If the reader imagines that this ancient form of the practical
miraculous is at all gone out of use, even the example of Dr. Doddridge
may satisfy him to the contrary. Such an example was sure to authorize
a large imitation. But, even apart from that, the superstition is
common. The records of conversion amongst felons and other ignorant
persons might be cited by hundreds upon hundreds to prove that no
practice is more common than that of trying the spiritual fate, and
abiding by the import of any passage in the Scriptures which may first
present itself to the eye. Cowper, the poet, has recorded a case of
this sort in his own experience. It is one to which all the unhappy are
prone. But a mode of questioning the oracles of darkness, far more
childish, and, under some shape or other, equally common amongst those
who are prompted by mere vacancy of mind, without that determination to
sacred fountains which is impressed by misery, may be found in the
following extravagant silliness of Rousseau, which we give in his own
words--a case for which he admits that he himself would have _shut
up_ any other man (meaning in a lunatic hospital) whom he had seen
practising the same absurdities:--

'Au milieu de mes études et d'une vie innocente autant qu'on la puisse
mener, et malgré tout ce qu'on m'avoit pu dire, la peur de l'Enfer
m'agitoit encore. Souvent je me demandois--En quel état suis-je? Si je
mourrois à l'instant même, _serois-je damné_? Selon mes Jansénistes,
[he had been reading the books of the Port Royal,] la chose est
indubitable: mais, selon ma conscience, il me paroissoit que
non. Toujours craintif et flottant dans cette cruelle incertitude,
j'avois recours (pour en sortir) aux expédients les plus risibles, et
pour lesquels je ferois volontiers enfermer un homme si je lui en
voyois faire autant. ... Un jour, rêvant à ce triste sujet, je
m'exerçois machinalement à lancer les pierres contre les troncs des
arbres; et cela avec mon addresse ordinaire, c'est-à-dire sans presque
jamais en toucher aucun. Tout au milieu de ce bel exercise, je m'avisai
de faire une espèce de pronostic pour calmer mon inquiétude. Je me dis
--je m'en vais jeter cette pierre contre l'arbre qui est vis-à-vis de
moi: si je le touche, signe de salut: si je le manque, signe de
damnation. Tout en disant ainsi, je jette ma pierre d'une main
tremblante, et avec un horrible battement de coeur, mais si
heureusement qu'elle va frapper au beau-milieu de l'arbre: ce qui
véritablement n'étoit pas difficile: car j'avois eu soin de le choisir
fort gros et fort près. _Depuis lors je n'ai plus doubté de mon
salut._ Je ne sais, en me rappelant ce trait, si je dois rire ou
gémir sur moimême.'--_Les Confessions, Partie I. Livre VI._

Now, really, if Rousseau thought fit to try such tremendous appeals by
taking 'a shy' at any random object, he should have governed his
sortilegy (for such it may be called) with something more like equity.
Fair play is a jewel: and in such a case, a man is supposed to play
against an adverse party hid in darkness. To shy at a cow within six
feet distance gives no chance at all to his dark antagonist. A pigeon
rising from a trap at a suitable distance might be thought a
_sincere_ staking of the interest at issue: but, as to the massy
stem of a tree 'fort gros et fort près'--the sarcasm of a Roman emperor
applies, that to miss under such conditions implied an original genius
for stupidity, and to hit was no trial of the case. After all, the
sentimentalist had youth to plead in apology for this extravagance. He
was hypochondriacal; he was in solitude; and he was possessed by gloomy
imaginations from the works of a society in the highest public credit.
But most readers will be aware of similar appeals to the mysteries of
Providence, made in public by illustrious sectarians, speaking from the
solemn station of a pulpit. We forbear to quote cases of this nature,
though really existing in print, because we feel that the blasphemy of
such anecdotes is more revolting and more painful to pious minds than
the absurdity is amusing. Meantime it must not be forgotten, that the
principle concerned, though it may happen to disgust men when
associated with ludicrous circumstances, is, after all, the very same
which has latently governed very many modes of ordeal, or judicial
inquiry; and which has been adopted, blindly, as a moral rule, or
canon, equally by the blindest of the Pagans, the most fanatical of the
Jews, and the most enlightened of the Christians. It proceeds upon the
assumption that man by his actions puts a question to Heaven; and that
Heaven answers by the event. Lucan, in a well known passage, takes it
for granted that the cause of Cæsar had the approbation of the gods.
And why? Simply from the event. It was notoriously the triumphant
cause. It was victorious, (_victrix_ causa Deis placuit; sed
_victa_ Catoni.) It was the '_victrix_ causa;' and, _as_ such,
simply because it was 'victrix,' it had a right in his eyes to
postulate the divine favor as mere matter of necessary interference:
whilst, on the other hand, the _victa causa_, though it seemed to
Lucan sanctioned by human virtue in the person of Cato, stood
unappealably condemned. This mode of reasoning may strike the reader as
merely Pagan. Not at all. In England, at the close of the Parliamentary
war, it was generally argued--that Providence had decided the question
against the Royalists by the mere fact of the issue. Milton himself,
with all his high-toned morality, uses this argument as irrefragable:
which is odd, were it only on this account--that the issue ought
necessarily to have been held for a time as merely hypothetic, and
liable to be set aside by possible counter-issues through one
generation at the least. But the capital argument against such doctrine
is to be found in the New Testament. Strange that Milton should
overlook, and strange that moralists in general have overlooked, the
sudden arrest given to this dangerous but most prevalent mode of
reasoning by the Founder of our faith. He first, he last, taught to his
astonished disciples the new truth--at that time the astounding truth--
that no relation exists between the immediate practical events of
things on the one side, and divine sentences on the other. There was no
presumption, he teaches them, against a man's favor with God, or that
of his parents, because he happened to be afflicted to extremity with
bodily disease. There was no shadow of an argument for believing a
party of men criminal objects of heavenly wrath because upon them, by
fatal preference, a tower had fallen, and because _their_ bodies
were exclusively mangled. How little can it be said that Christianity
has yet developed the fulness of its power, when kings and senates so
recently acted under a total oblivion of this great though novel
Christian doctrine, and would do so still, were it not that religious
arguments have been banished by the progress of manners from the field
of political discussion.

But, quitting this province of the ominous, where it is made the object
of a direct personal inquest, whether by private or by national trials,
or the sortilegy of events, let us throw our eyes over the broader
field of omens, as they offer themselves spontaneously to those who do
not seek, or would even willingly evade them. There are few of these,
perhaps none, which are not universal in their authority, though every
land in turn fancies them (like its proverbs) of local prescription and
origin. The death-watch extends from England to Cashmere, and across
India diagonally to the remotest nook of Bengal, over a three thousand
miles' distance from the entrance of the Indian Punjaub. A hare
crossing a man's path on starting in the morning, has been held in all
countries alike to prognosticate evil in the course of that day. Thus,
in the _Confessions of a Thug_, (which is partially built on a
real judicial document, and everywhere conforms to the usages of
Hindostan,) the hero of the horrid narrative [Footnote: '_The hero of
the horrid narrative_.'--Horrid it certainly is; and one incident in
every case gives a demoniacal air of coolness to the hellish
atrocities, viz the regular forwarding of the _bheels_, or grave-
diggers. But else the tale tends too much to monotony; and for a reason
which ought to have checked the author in carrying on the work to three
volumes, namely, that although there is much dramatic variety in the
circumstances of the several cases, there is none in the catastrophes.
The brave man and the coward, the erect spirit fighting to the last,
and the poor creature that despairs from the first,--all are confounded
in one undistinguishing end by sudden strangulation. This was the
original defect of the plan. The sudden surprise, and the scientific
noosing as with a Chilian _lasso_, constituted in fact a main
feature of Thuggee. But still, the gradual theatrical arrangement of
each Thug severally by the side of a victim, must often have roused
violent suspicion, and that in time to intercept the suddenness of the
murder. Now, for the sake of the dramatic effect, this interception
ought more often to have been introduced, else the murders are but so
many blind surprises as if in sleep.] charges some disaster of his own
upon having neglected such an omen of the morning. The same belief
operated in Pagan Italy. The same omen announced to Lord Lindsay's Arab
attendants in the desert the approach of some disaster, which partially
happened in the morning. And a Highlander of the 42d Regiment, in his
printed memoirs, notices the same harbinger of evil as having crossed
his own path on a day of personal disaster in Spain.

Birds are even more familiarly associated with such ominous warnings.
This chapter in the great volume of superstition was indeed cultivated
with unusual solicitude amongst the Pagans--_ornithomancy_ grew
into an elaborate science. But if every rule and distinction upon the
number and the position of birds, whether to the right or the left, had
been collected from our own village matrons amongst ourselves, it would
appear that no more of this Pagan science had gone to wreck than must
naturally follow the difference between a believing and a disbelieving
government. Magpies are still of awful authority in village life,
according to their number, &c.; for a striking illustration of which we
may refer the reader to Sir Walter Scott's _Demonology_, reported
not at second-hand, but from Sir Walter's personal communication with
some seafaring fellow-traveller in a stage-coach.

Among the ancient stories of the same class is one which we shall
repeat--having reference to that Herod Agrippa, grandson of Herod the
Great, before whom St. Paul made his famous apology at Cæsarea. This
Agrippa, overwhelmed by debts, had fled from Palestine to Rome in the
latter years of Tiberius. His mother's interest with the widow of
Germanicus procured him a special recommendation to her son Caligula.
Viewing this child and heir of the popular Germanicus as the rising
sun, Agrippa had been too free in his language. True, the uncle of
Germanicus was the reigning prince; but he was old, and breaking up.
True, the son of Germanicus was not yet on the throne; but he soon
would be; and Agrippa was rash enough to call the Emperor a
_superannuated old fellow_, and even to wish for his death.
Sejanus was now dead and gone; but there was no want of spies: and a
certain Macro reported his words to Tiberius. Agrippa was in
consequence arrested; the Emperor himself condescending to point out
the noble Jew to the officer on duty. The case was a gloomy one, if
Tiberius should happen to survive much longer: and the story of the
omen proceeds thus:--'Now Agrippa stood in his bonds before the
Imperial palace, and in his affliction leaned against a certain tree,
upon the boughs of which it happened that a bird had alighted which the
Romans call _bubo_, or the owl. All this was steadfastly observed
by a German prisoner, who asked a soldier what might be the name and
offence of that man habited in purple. Being told that the man's name
was Agrippa, and that he was a Jew of high rank, who had given a
personal offence to the Emperor, the German asked permission to go near
and address him; which being granted, he spoke thus:--"This disaster, I
doubt not, young man, is trying to your heart; and perhaps you will not
believe me when I announce to you beforehand the providential
deliverance which is impending. However, this much I will say--and for
my sincerity let me appeal to my native gods, as well as to the gods of
this Rome, who have brought us both into trouble--that no selfish
objects prompt me to this revelation--for a revelation it is--and to
the following effect:--It is fated that you shall not long remain in
chains. Your deliverance will be speedy; you shall be raised to the
very highest rank and power; you shall be the object of as much envy as
now you are of pity; you shall retain your prosperity till death; and
you shall transmit that prosperity to your children. But"--and there
the German paused. Agrippa was agitated; the bystanders were attentive;
and after a time, the German, pointing solemnly to the bird, proceeded
thus:--"But this remember heedfully--that, when next you see the bird
which now perches above your head, you will have only five days longer
to live! This event will be surely accomplished by that same mysterious
god who has thought fit to send the bird as a warning sign; and you,
when you come to your glory, do not forget me that foreshadowed it in
your humiliation."' The story adds, that Agrippa affected to laugh when
the German concluded; after which it goes on to say, that in a few
weeks, being delivered by the death of Tiberius; being released from
prison by the very prince on whose account he had incurred the risk;
being raised to a tetrarchy, and afterwards to the kingdom of all
Judea; coming into all the prosperity which had been promised to him by
the German; and not losing any part of his interest at Rome through the
assassination of his patron Caligula--he began to look back
respectfully to the words of the German, and forwards with anxiety to
the second coming of the bird. Seven years of sunshine had now slipped
away as silently as a dream. A great festival, shows and vows, was on
the point of being celebrated in honor of Claudius Cæsar, at Strato's
Tower, otherwise called Cæsarea, the Roman metropolis of Palestine.
Duty and policy alike required that the king of the land should go down
and unite in this mode of religious homage to the emperor. He did so;
and on the second morning of the festival, by way of doing more
conspicuous honor to the great solemnity, he assumed a very sumptuous
attire of silver armor, burnished so highly as to throw back a dazzling
glare from the sun's morning beams upon the upturned eyes of the vast
multitude around him. Immediately from the sycophantish part of the
crowd, of whom a vast majority were Pagans, ascended a cry of
glorification as to some manifestation of Deity. Agrippa, gratified by
this success of his new apparel, and by this flattery, not unusual in
the case of kings, had not the firmness (though a Jew, and conscious of
the wickedness, greater in himself than in the heathen crowd,) to
reject the blasphemous homage. Voices of adoration continued to ascend;
when suddenly, looking upward to the vast awnings prepared for
screening the audience from the noonday heats, the king perceived the
same ominous bird which he had seen at Rome in the day of his
affliction, seated quietly, and looking down upon himself. In that same
moment an icy pang shot through his intestines. He was removed into the
palace; and at the end of five days, completely worn out by pain,
Agrippa expired in the 54th year of his age, and the seventh of his
sovereign power.

Whether the bird, here described as an owl, was really such, may be
doubted, considering the narrow nomenclature of the Romans for all
zoological purposes, and the total indifference of the Roman mind to
all distinctions in natural history which are not upon the very largest
scale. We should much suspect that the bird was a magpie. Meantime,
speaking of ornithoscopy in relation to Jews, we remember another story
in that subdivision of the subject which it may be worth while
repeating; not merely on its own account, as wearing a fine oriental
air, but also for the correction which it suggests to a very common

In some period of Syrian warfare, a large military detachment was
entering at some point of Syria from the desert of the Euphrates. At
the head of the whole array rode two men of some distinction: one was
an augur of high reputation, the other was a Jew called Mosollam, a man
of admirable beauty, a matchless horseman, an unerring archer, and
accomplished in all martial arts. As they were now first coming within
enclosed grounds, after a long march in the wilderness, the augur was
most anxious to inaugurate the expedition by some considerable omen.
Watching anxiously, therefore, he soon saw a bird of splendid plumage
perching on a low wall. 'Halt!' he said to the advanced guard: and all
drew up in a line. At that moment of silence and expectation, Mosollam,
slightly turning himself in his saddle, drew his bow-string to his ear;
his Jewish hatred of Pagan auguries burned within him; his inevitable
shaft went right to its mark, and the beautiful bird fell dead. The
augur turned round in fury. But the Jew laughed at him. 'This bird, you
say, should have furnished us with omens of our future fortunes. But
had he known anything of his own, he would never have perched where he
did, or have come within the range of Mosollam's archery. How should
that bird know our destiny, who did not know that it was his own to be
shot by Mosollam the Jew?'

Now, this is a most common but a most erroneous way of arguing. In a
case of this kind, the bird was not supposed to have any conscious
acquaintance with futurity, either for his own benefit or that of
others. But even where such a consciousness may be supposed, as in the
case of oneiromancy, or prophecy by means of dreams, it must be
supposed limited, and the more limited in a personal sense as they are
illimitable in a sublime one. Who imagines that, because a Daniel or
Ezekiel foresaw the grand revolutions of the earth, therefore they must
or could have foreseen the little details of their own ordinary life?
And even descending from that perfect inspiration to the more doubtful
power of augury amongst the Pagans, (concerning which the most eminent
of theologians have held very opposite theories,) one thing is certain,
that, so long as we entertain such pretensions, or discuss them at all,
we must take them with the principle of those who professed such arts,
not with principles of our own arbitrary invention.

One example will make this clear:--There are in England [Footnote:
'_There are in England_'--Especially in Somersetshire, and for
twenty miles round Wrington, the birthplace of Locke. Nobody sinks for
wells without their advice. We ourselves knew an amiable and
accomplished Scottish family, who, at an estate called Belmadrothie, in
memory of a similar property in Ross shire, built a house in
Somersetshire, and resolved to find water without help from the jowser.
But after sinking to a greater depth than ever had been known before,
and spending nearly £200, they were finally obliged to consult the
jowser, who found water at once.] a class of men who practise the Pagan
rhabdomancy in a limited sense. They carry a rod or rhabdos
(_rhabdos_) of willow: this they hold horizontally; and by the
bending of the rod towards the ground they discover the favorable
places for sinking wells; a matter of considerable importance in a
province so ill-watered as the northern district of Somersetshire, &c.
These people are locally called _jowsers_; and it is probable,
that from the suspicion with which their art has been usually regarded
amongst people of education, as a mere legerdemain trick of
Dousterswivel's, is derived the slang word to _chouse_ for _swindle_.
Meantime, the experimental evidences of a real practical skill in these
men, and the enlarged compass of speculation in these days, have led
many enlightened people to a Stoic _epochey_, or suspension of
judgment, on the reality of this somewhat mysterious art. Now, in the
East, there are men who make the same pretensions in a more showy
branch of the art. It is not water, but treasures which they profess to
find by some hidden kind of rhabdomancy. The very existence of
treasures with us is reasonably considered a thing of improbable
occurrence. But in the unsettled East, and with the low valuation of
human life wherever Mahometanism prevails, insecurity and other causes
must have caused millions of such deposits in every century to have
perished as to any knowledge of survivors. The sword has been moving
backwards and forwards, for instance, like a weaver's shuttle, since
the time of Mahmoud the Ghaznevide, [Footnote: Mahmood of Ghizni,
which, under the European name of Ghaznee, was so recently taken in one
hour by our Indian army under Lord Keane Mahmood was the first
Mahometan invader of Hindostan.] in Anno Domini 1000, in the vast
regions between the Tigris, the Oxus, and the Indus. Regularly as it
approached, gold and jewels must have sunk by whole harvests into the
ground. A certain per centage has been doubtless recovered: a larger
per centage has disappeared for ever. Hence naturally the jealousy of
barbarous Orientals that we Europeans, in groping amongst pyramids,
sphynxes, and tombs, are looking for buried treasures. The wretches are
not so wide astray in what they believe as in what they disbelieve. The
treasures do really exist which they fancy; but then also the other
treasures in the glorious antiquities have that existence for our sense
of beauty which to their brutality is inconceivable. In these
circumstances, why should it surprise us that men will pursue the
science of discovery as a regular trade? Many discoveries of treasure
are doubtless made continually, which, for obvious reasons, are
communicated to nobody. Some proportion there must be between the
sowing of such grain as diamonds or emeralds, and the subsequent
reaping, whether by accident or by art. For, with regard to the last,
it is no more impossible, _prima fronte_, that a substance may exist
having an occult sympathy with subterraneous water or subterraneous
gold, than that the magnet should have a sympathy (as yet occult) with
the northern pole of our planet.

The first flash of careless thought applied to such a case will
suggest, that men holding powers of this nature need not offer their
services for hire to others. And this, in fact, is the objection
universally urged by us Europeans as decisive against their
pretensions. Their knavery, it is fancied, stands self-recorded; since,
assuredly, they would not be willing to divide their subterranean
treasures, if they knew of any. But the men are not in such self-
contradiction as may seem. Lady Hester Stanhope, from the better
knowledge she had acquired of Oriental opinions, set Dr. Madden right
on this point. The Oriental belief is that a fatality attends the
appropriator of a treasure in any case where he happens also to be the
discoverer. Such a person, it is held, will die soon, and suddenly--so
that he is compelled to seek his remuneration from the wages or fees of
his employers, not from the treasure itself.

Many more secret laws are held sacred amongst the professors of that
art than that which was explained by Lady Hester Stanhope. These we
shall not enter upon at present: but generally we may remark, that the
same practices of subterranean deposits, during our troubled periods in
Europe, led to the same superstitions. And it may be added, that the
same error has arisen in both cases as to some of these superstitions.
How often must it have struck people of liberal feelings, as a
scandalous proof of the preposterous value set upon riches by poor men,
that ghosts should popularly be supposed to rise and wander for the
sake of revealing the situations of buried treasures. For ourselves, we
have been accustomed to view this popular belief in the light of an
argument for pity rather than for contempt towards poor men, as
indicating the extreme pressure of that necessity which could so have
demoralized their natural sense of truth. But certainly, in whatever
feelings originating, such popular superstitions as to motives of
ghostly missions did seem to argue a deplorable misconception of the
relation subsisting between the spiritual world and the perishable
treasures of this perishable world. Yet, when we look into the Eastern
explanations of this case, we find that it is meant to express, not any
overvaluation of riches, but the direct contrary passion. A human
spirit is punished--such is the notion--punished in the spiritual world
for excessive attachment to gold, by degradation to the office of its
guardian; and from this office the tortured spirit can release itself
only by revealing the treasure and transferring the custody. It is a
penal martyrdom, not an elective passion for gold, which is thus
exemplified in the wanderings of a treasure-ghost.

But, in a field where of necessity we are so much limited, we willingly
pass from the consideration of these treasure or _khasne_ phantoms
(which alone sufficiently ensure a swarm of ghostly terrors for all
Oriental ruins of cities,) to the same marvellous apparitions, as they
haunt other solitudes even more awful than those of ruined cities. In
this world there are two mighty forms of perfect solitude--the ocean
and the desert: the wilderness of the barren sands, and the wilderness
of the barren waters. Both are the parents of inevitable superstitions
--of terrors, solemn, ineradicable, eternal. Sailors and the children
of the desert are alike overrun with spiritual hauntings, from
accidents of peril essentially connected with those modes of life, and
from the eternal spectacle of the infinite. Voices seem to blend with
the raving of the sea, which will for ever impress the feeling of
beings more than human: and every chamber of the great wilderness
which, with little interruption, stretches from the Euphrates to the
western shores of Africa, has its own peculiar terrors both as to
sights and sounds. In the wilderness of Zin, between Palestine and the
Red Sea, a section of the desert well known in these days to our own
countrymen, bells are heard daily pealing for matins, or for vespers,
from some phantom convent that no search of Christian or of Bedouin
Arab has ever been able to discover. These bells have sounded since the
Crusades. Other sounds, trumpets, the _Alala_ of armies, &c., are
heard in other regions of the Desert. Forms, also, are seen of more
people than have any right to be walking in human paths: sometimes
forms of avowed terror; sometimes, which is a case of far more danger,
appearances that mimic the shapes of men, and even of friends or
comrades. This is a case much dwelt on by the old travellers, and which
throws a gloom over the spirits of all Bedouins, and of every cafila or
caravan. We all know what a sensation of loneliness or 'eeriness' (to
use an expressive term of the ballad poetry) arises to any small party
assembling in a single room of a vast desolate mansion: how the timid
among them fancy continually that they hear some remote door opening,
or trace the sound of suppressed footsteps from some distant staircase.
Such is the feeling in the desert, even in the midst of the caravan.
The mighty solitude is seen: the dread silence is anticipated which
will succeed to this brief transit of men, camels, and horses. Awe
prevails even in the midst of society: but, if the traveller should
loiter behind from fatigue, or be so imprudent as to ramble aside--
should he from any cause once lose sight of his party, it is held that
his chance is small of recovering their traces. And why? Not chiefly
from the want of footmarks where the wind effaces all impressions in
half an hour, or of eyemarks where all is one blank ocean of sand, but
much more from the sounds or the visual appearances which are supposed
to beset and to seduce all insulated wanderers.

Everybody knows the superstitions of the ancients about the
_Nympholeptoi_, or those who had seen Pan. But far more awful and
gloomy are the existing superstitions, throughout Asia and Africa, as
to the perils of those who are phantom-haunted in the wilderness. The
old Venetian traveller Marco Polo states them well: he speaks, indeed,
of the Eastern or Tartar deserts; the steppes which stretch from
European Russia to the footsteps of the Chinese throne; but exactly the
same creed prevails amongst the Arabs, from Bagdad to Suez and Cairo--
from Rosetta to Tunis--Tunis to Timbuctoo or Mequinez. 'If, during the
daytime,' says he, 'any person should remain behind until the caravan
is no longer in sight, he hears himself unexpectedly called to by name,
and in a voice with which he is familiar. Not doubting that the voice
proceeds from some of his comrades, the unhappy man is beguiled from
the right direction; and soon finding himself utterly confounded as to
the path, he roams about in distraction until he perishes miserably.
If, on the other hand, this perilous separation of himself from the
caravan should happen at night, he is sure to hear the uproar of a
great cavalcade a mile or two to the right or left of the true track.
He is thus seduced on one side: and at break of day finds himself far
removed from man. Nay, even at noon-day, it is well known that grave
and respectable men to all appearance will come up to a particular
traveller, will bear the look of a friend, and will gradually lure him
by earnest conversation to a distance from the caravan; after which the
sounds of men and camels will be heard continually at all points but
the true one; whilst an insensible turning by the tenth of an inch at
each separate step from the true direction will very soon suffice to
set the traveller's face to the opposite point of the compass from that
which his safety requires, and which his fancy represents to him as his
real direction. Marvellous, indeed, and almost passing belief, are the
stories reported of these desert phantoms, which are said at times to
fill the air with choral music from all kinds of instruments, from
drums, and the clash of arms: so that oftentimes a whole caravan are
obliged to close up their open ranks, and to proceed in a compact line
of march.'

Lord Lindsay, in his very interesting travels in Egypt, Edom, &c.,
agrees with Warton in supposing (and probably enough) that from this
account of the desert traditions in Marco Polo was derived Milton's
fine passage in Comus:--

  'Of calling shapes, and beckoning shadows dire,
  And aery tongues that syllable men's names
  On sands, and shores, and desert wildernesses.'

But the most remarkable of these desert superstitions, as suggested by
the mention of Lord Lindsay, is one which that young nobleman, in some
place which we cannot immediately find, has noticed, but which he only
was destined by a severe personal loss immediately to illustrate. Lord
L. quotes from Vincent le Blanc an anecdote of a man in his own
caravan, the companion of an Arab merchant, who disappeared in a
mysterious manner. Four Moors, with a retaining fee of 100 ducats, were
sent in quest of him, but came back _re infecta_. 'And 'tis
uncertain,' adds Le Blanc, 'whether he was swallowed up in the sands,
or met his death by any other misfortune; as it often happens, by the
relation of a merchant then in our company, who told us, that two years
before, traversing the same journey, a comrade of his, going a little
aside from the company, saw three men who called him by his name; and
one of them, to his thinking, favored very much his companion; and, as
he was about to follow them, his real companion calling him to come
back to his company, he found himself deceived by the others, and thus
was saved. And all travellers in these parts hold, that in the deserts
are many such phantasms seen, that strive to seduce the traveller.'
Thus far it is the traveller's own fault, warned as he is continually
by the extreme anxiety of the Arab leaders or guides, with respect to
all who stray to any distance, if he is duped or enticed by these
pseudo-men: though, in the case of Lapland dogs, who ought to have a
surer instinct of detection for counterfeits, we know from Sir Capel de
Broke and others, that they are continually wiled away by the wolves
who roam about the nightly encampments of travellers. But there is a
secondary disaster, according to the Arab superstition, awaiting those
whose eyes are once opened to the discernment of these phantoms. To see
them, or to hear them, even where the traveller is careful to refuse
their lures, entails the certainty of death in no long time. This is
another form of that universal faith which made it impossible for any
man to survive a bodily commerce, by whatever sense, with a spiritual
being. We find it in the Old Testament, where the expression, 'I have
seen God and shall die,' means simply a supernatural being; since no
Hebrew believed it possible for a nature purely human to sustain for a
moment the sight of the Infinite Being. We find the same faith amongst
ourselves, in case of _doppelgänger_ becoming apparent to the
sight of those whom they counterfeit; and in many other varieties. We
modern Europeans, of course, laugh at these superstitions; though, as
La Place remarks, (_Essai sur les Probabilités_,) any case,
however apparently incredible, if it is a recurrent case, is as much
entitled to a fair valuation as if it had been more probable
beforehand.[Footnote: _'Is as much entitled to a fair valuation,
under the lans of induction, as if it had been more probable
beforehand'_--One of the cases which La Place notices as entitled to
a grave consideration, but which would most assuredly be treated as a
trivial phenomenon, unworthy of attention, by commonplace spectators,
is--when a run of success, with no apparent cause, takes place on heads
or tails, (_pile ou croix_) Most people dismiss such a case as
pure accident. But La Place insists on its being duly valued as a fact,
however unaccountable as an effect. So again, if in a large majority of
experiences like those of Lord Lindsay's party in the desert, death
should follow, such a phenomenon is as well entitled to its separate
valuation as any other.] This being premised, we who connect
superstition with the personal result, are more impressed by the
disaster which happened to Lord Lindsay, than his lordship, who either
failed to notice the _nexus_ between the events, or possibly
declined to put the case too forward in his reader's eye, from the
solemnity of the circumstances, and the private interest to himself and
his own family, of the subsequent event. The case was this:--Mr.
William Wardlaw Ramsay, the companion (and we believe relative) of Lord
Lindsay, a man whose honorable character, and whose intellectual
accomplishments speak for themselves, in the posthumus memorabilia of
his travels published by Lord L., had seen an array of objects in the
desert, which facts immediately succeeding demonstrated to have been a
mere ocular _lusus_, or (according to Arab notions) phantoms.
During the absence from home of an Arab sheikh, who had been hired as
conductor of Lord Lindsay's party, a hostile tribe (bearing the name of
Tellaheens) had assaulted and pillaged his tents. Report of this had
reached the English travelling party; it was known that the Tellaheens
were still in motion, and a hostile rencounter was looked for for some
days. At length, in crossing the well known valley of the _Wady
Araba_, that most ancient channel of communication between the Red
Sea and Judea, &c., Mr. Ramsay saw, to his own entire conviction, a
party of horse moving amongst some sand-hills. Afterwards it became
certain, from accurate information, that this must have been a
delusion. It was established, that no horseman _could_ have been
in that neighborhood at that time. Lord Lindsay records the case as an
illustration of 'that spiritualized tone the imagination naturally
assumes, in scenes presenting so little sympathy with the ordinary
feelings of humanity;' and he reports the case in these pointed terms:
--'Mr. Ramsay, a man of remarkably strong sight, and by no means
disposed to superstitious credulity, distinctly saw a party of horse
moving among the sand-hills; and I do not believe he was ever able to
divest himself of that impression.' No--and, according to Arab
interpretation, very naturally so; for, according to their faith, he
really _had_ seen the horsemen; phantom horseman certainly, but
still objects of sight. The sequel remains to be told--by the Arabian
hypothesis, Mr. Ramsay had but a short time to live--he was under a
secret summons to the next world. And accordingly, in a few weeks after
this, whilst Lord Lindsay had gone to visit Palmyra, Mr. Ramsay died at

This was a case exactly corresponding to the Pagan _nympholepsis_
--he had seen the beings whom it is not lawful to see and live. Another
case of Eastern superstition, not less determined, and not less
remarkably fulfilled, occurred some years before to Dr. Madden, who
travelled pretty much in the same route as Lord Lindsay. The doctor, as
a phrenologist, had been struck with the very singular conformation of
a skull which he saw amongst many others on an altar in some Syrian
convent. He offered a considerable sum in gold for it; but it was by
repute the skull of a saint; and the monk with whom Dr. M. attempted to
negotiate, not only refused his offers, but protested that even for the
doctor's sake, apart from the interests of the convent, he could not
venture on such a transfer: for that, by the tradition attached to it,
the skull would endanger any vessel carrying it from the Syrian shore:
the vessel might escape; but it would never succeed in reaching any but
a Syrian harbor. After this, for the credit of our country, which
stands so high in the East, and should be so punctiliously tended by
all Englishmen, we are sorry to record that Dr. Madden (though
otherwise a man of scrupulous honor) yielded to the temptation of
substituting for the saint's skull another less remarkable from his own
collection. With this saintly relic he embarked on board a Grecian
ship; was alternately pursued and met by storms the most violent;
larboard and starboard, on every quarter, he was buffeted; the wind
blew from every point of the compass; the doctor honestly confesses
that he often wished this baleful skull back in safety on the quiet
altar from which he took it; and finally, after many days of anxiety,
he was too happy in finding himself again restored to some oriental
port, from which he secretly vowed never again to sail with a saint's
skull, or with any skull, however remarkable phrenologically, not
purchased in an open market.

Thus we have pursued, through many of its most memorable sections, the
spirit of the miraculous as it moulded and gathered itself in the
superstitions of Paganism; and we have shown that, in the modern
superstitions of Christianity, or of Mahometanism, (often enough
borrowed from Christian sources,) there is a pretty regular
correspondence. Speaking with a reference to the strictly popular
belief, it cannot be pretended for a moment, that miraculous agencies
are slumbering in modern ages. For one superstition of that nature
which the Pagans had, we can produce twenty. And if, from the collation
of numbers, we should pass to that of quality, it is a matter of
notoriety, that from the very philosophy of Paganism, and its slight
root in the terrors or profounder mysteries of spiritual nature, no
comparison could be sustained for a moment between the true religion
and any mode whatever of the false. Ghosts we have purposely omitted,
because that idea is so peculiarly Christian [Footnote: '_Because
that idea is so peculiarly Christian_'--One reason, additional to
the main one, why the idea of a ghost could not be conceived or
reproduced by Paganism, lies in the fourfold resolution of the human
nature at death, viz.--1. _corpus_; 2. _manes_; 3. _spiritus_;
4. _anima_. No reversionary consciousness, no restitution of the total
nature, sentient and active, was thus possible. Pliny has a story which
looks like a ghost story; but it is all moonshine--a mere
_simulacrum_.] as to reject all counterparts or affinities from other
modes of the supernatural. The Christian ghost is too awful a presence,
and with too large a substratum of the real, the impassioned, the
human, for our present purposes. We deal chiefly with the wilder and
more ærial forms of superstition; not so far off from fleshly nature as
the purely allegoric--not so near as the penal, the purgatorial, the
penitential. In this middle class, 'Gabriel's hounds'--the 'phantom
ship'--the gloomy legends of the charcoal burners in the German
forests--and the local or epichorial superstitions from every district
of Europe, come forward by thousands, attesting the high activity of
the miraculous and the hyperphysical instincts, even in this
generation, wheresoever the voice of the people makes itself heard.

But in Pagan times, it will be objected, the popular superstitions
blended themselves with the highest political functions, gave a
sanction to national counsels, and oftentimes gave their starting point
to the very primary movements of the state. Prophecies, omens,
miracles, all worked concurrently with senates or princes. Whereas in
our days, says Charles Lamb, the witch who takes her pleasure with the
moon, and summons Beelzebub to her sabbaths, nevertheless trembles
before the beadle, and hides herself from the overseer. Now, as to the
witch, even the horrid Canidia of Horace, or the more dreadful Erichtho
of Lucan, seems hardly to have been much respected in any era. But for
the other modes of the supernatural, they have entered into more
frequent combinations with state functions and state movements in our
modern ages than in the classical age of Paganism. Look at prophecies,
for example: the Romans had a few obscure oracles afloat, and they had
the Sibylline books under the state seal. These books, in fact, had
been kept so long, that, like port wine superannuated, they had lost
their flavor and body. [Footnote: '_Like port wine superannuated, the
Sibylline books had lost their flavor and their body_.'--There is an
allegoric description in verse, by Mr. Rogers, of an ice-house, in
which winter is described as a captive, &c., which is memorable on this
account, that a brother poet, on reading the passage, mistook it, (from
not understanding the allegorical expressions,) either sincerely or
maliciously, for a description of the house-dog. Now, this little
anecdote seems to embody the poor Sibyl's history,--from a stern icy
sovereign, with a petrific mace, she lapsed into an old toothless
mastiff. She continued to snore in her ancient kennel for above a
thousand years. The last person who attempted to stir her up with a
long pole, and to extract from her paralytic dreaming some growls or
snarls against Christianity, was Aurelian, in a moment of public panic.
But the thing was past all tampering. The poor creature could neither
be kicked nor coaxed into vitality.] On the other hand, look at France.
Henry the historian, speaking of the fifteenth century, describes it as
a national infirmity of the English to be prophecy-ridden. Perhaps
there never was any foundation for this as an exclusive remark; but
assuredly not in the next century. There had been with us British, from
the twelfth century, Thomas of Ercildoune in the north, and many
monkish local prophets for every part of the island; but latterly
England had no terrific prophet, unless, indeed Nixon of the Vale Royal
in Cheshire, who uttered his dark oracles sometimes with a merely
Cestrian, sometimes with a national reference. Whereas in France,
throughout the sixteenth century, every principal event was foretold
successively, with an accuracy that still shocks and confounds us.
Francis the First, who opens the century, (and by many is held to open
the book of _modern history_, as distinguished from the middle or
_feudal_ history,) had the battle of Pavia foreshown to him, not
by name, but in its results--by his own Spanish captivity--by the
exchange for his own children upon a frontier river of Spain--finally,
by his own disgraceful death, through an infamous disease conveyed to
him under a deadly circuit of revenge. This king's son, Henry the
Second, read some years _before_ the event a description of that
tournament, on the marriage of the Scottish Queen with his eldest son,
Francis II., which proved fatal to himself, through the awkwardness of
the Compte de Montgomery and his own obstinacy. After this, and we
believe a little after the brief reign of Francis II., arose
Nostradamus, the great prophet of the age. All the children of Henry
II. and of Catharine de Medici, one after the other, died in
circumstances of suffering and horror, and Nostradamus pursued the
whole with ominous allusions. Charles IX., though the authorizer of the
Bartholomew massacre, was the least guilty of his party, and the only
one who manifested a dreadful remorse. Henry III., the last of the
brothers, died, as the reader will remember, by assassination. And all
these tragic successions of events are still to be read more or less
dimly prefigured in verses of which we will not here discuss the dates.
Suffice it, that many authentic historians attest the good faith of the
prophets; and finally, with respect to the first of the Bourbon
dynasty, Henry IV., who succeeded upon the assassination of his
brother-in-law, we have the peremptory assurance of Sully and other
Protestants, countersigned by writers both historical and
controversial, that not only was he prepared, by many warnings, for his
own tragical death--not only was the day, the hour prefixed--not only
was an almanac sent to him, in which the bloody summer's day of 1610
was pointed out to his attention in bloody colors; but the mere record
of the king's last afternoon shows beyond a doubt the extent and the
punctual limitation of his anxieties. In fact, it is to this attitude
of listening expectation in the king, and breathless waiting for the
blow, that Schiller alludes in that fine speech of Wallenstein to his
sister, where he notices the funeral knells that sounded continually in
Henry's ears, and, above all, his prophetic instinct, that caught the
sound from a far distance of his murderer's motions, and could
distinguish, amidst all the tumult of a mighty capital, those stealthy

  ----'Which even then were seeking him
  Throughout the streets of Paris.'

We profess not to admire Henry the Fourth of France, whose secret
character we shall, on some other occasion, attempt to expose. But his
resignation to the appointments of Heaven, in dismissing his guards, as
feeling that against a danger so domestic and so mysterious, all
fleshly arms were vain, has always struck us as the most like
magnanimity of anything in his very theatrical life.

Passing to our own country, and to the times immediately in succession,
we fall upon some striking prophecies, not verbal but symbolic, if we
turn from the broad highway of public histories, to the by-paths of
private memories. Either Clarendon it is, in his Life (not his public
history), or else Laud, who mentions an anecdote connected with the
coronation of Charles I., (the son-in-law of the murdered Bourbon,)
which threw a gloom upon the spirits of the royal friends, already
saddened by the dreadful pestilence which inaugurated the reign of this
ill-fated prince, levying a tribute of one life in sixteen from the
population of the English metropolis. At the coronation of Charles, it
was discovered that all London would not furnish the quantity of purple
velvet required for the royal robes and the furniture of the throne.
What was to be done? Decorum required that the furniture should be all
_en suite_. Nearer than Genoa no considerable addition could be
expected. That would impose a delay of 150 days. Upon mature
consideration, and chiefly of the many private interests that would
suffer amongst the multitudes whom such a solemnity had called up from
the country, it was resolved to robe the King in _white_ velvet.
But this, as it afterwards occurred, was the color in which victims
were arrayed. And thus, it was alleged, did the King's council
establish an augury of evil. Three other ill omens, of some celebrity,
occurred to Charles I., viz., on occasion of creating his son Charles a
knight of the Bath, at Oxford some years after; and at the bar of that
tribunal which sat in judgment upon him.

The reign of his second son, James II., the next reign that could be
considered an unfortunate reign, was inaugurated by the same evil
omens. The day selected for the coronation (in 1685) was a day
memorable for England--it was St. George's day, the 23d of April, and
entitled, even on a separate account, to be held a sacred day as the
birthday of Shakspeare in 1564, and his deathday in 1616. The King
saved a sum of sixty thousand pounds by cutting off the ordinary
cavalcade from the Tower of London to Westminster. Even this was
imprudent. It is well known that, amongst the lowest class of the
English, there is an obstinate prejudice (though unsanctioned by law)
with respect to the obligation imposed by the ceremony of coronation.
So long as this ceremony is delayed, or mutilated, they fancy that
their obedience is a matter of mere prudence, liable to be enforced by
arms, but not consecrated either by law or by religion. The change made
by James was, therefore, highly imprudent; shorn of its antique
traditionary usages, the yoke of conscience was lightened at a moment
when it required a double ratification. Neither was it called for on
motives of economy, for James was unusually rich. This voluntary
arrangement was, therefore, a bad beginning; but the accidental omens
were worse. They are thus reported by Blennerhassett, (History of
England to the end of George I., Vol. iv., p. 1760, printed at
Newcastle-upon-Tyne: 1751.) 'The crown being too little for the King's
head, was often in a tottering condition, and like to fall off.' Even
this was observed attentively by spectators of the most opposite
feelings. But there was another simultaneous omen, which affected the
Protestant enthusiasts, and the superstitious, whether Catholic or
Protestant, still more alarmingly. 'The same day the king's arms,
pompously painted in the great altar window of a London church,
suddenly fell down without apparent cause, and broke to pieces, whilst
the rest of the window remained standing. Blennerhassett mutters the
dark terrors which possessed himself and others.' 'These,' says he,
'were reckoned ill omens to the king.'

In France, as the dreadful criminality of the French sovereigns through
the 17th century began to tell powerfully, and reproduce itself in the
miseries and tumults of the French populace through the 18th century,
it is interesting to note the omens which unfolded themselves at
intervals. A volume might be written upon them. The French Bourbons
renewed the picture of that fatal house which in Thebes offered to the
Grecian observers the spectacle of dire auguries, emerging from
darkness through three generations, _à plusieurs reprises_.
Everybody knows the fatal pollution of the marriage pomps on the
reception of Marie Antoinette in Paris; the numbers who perished are
still spoken of obscurely as to the amount, and with shuddering awe for
the unparalleled horrors standing in the background of the fatal reign

  'That hush'd in grim repose, await their evening prey.'

But in the life of Goethe is mentioned a still more portentous (though
more shadowy) omen in the pictorial decorations of the arras which
adorned the pavilion on the French frontier; the first objects which
met the Austrian Archduchess on being hailed as Dauphiness, was a
succession of the most tragic groups from the most awful section of the
Grecian theatre. The next alliance of the same kind between the same
great empires, in the persons of Napoleon and the Archduchess Marie
Louisa, was overshadowed by the same unhappy omens, and, as we all
remember, with the same unhappy results, within a brief period of five

Or, if we should resort to the fixed and monumental rather than to
these auguries of great nations--such, for instance, as were embodied
in those _Palladia_, or protesting talismans, which capital
cities, whether Pagan or Christian, glorified through a period of
twenty-five hundred years, we shall find a long succession of these
enchanted pledges, from the earliest precedent of Troy (whose palladium
was undoubtedly a talisman) down to that equally memorable, and bearing
the same name, at Western Rome. We may pass, by a vast transition of
two and a half millennia, to that great talisman of Constantinople, the
triple serpent, (having perhaps an original reference to the Mosaic
serpent of the wilderness, which healed the infected by the simple act
of looking upon it, as the symbol of the Redeemer, held aloft upon the
Cross for the deliverance from moral contagion.) This great consecrated
talisman, venerated equally by Christian, by Pagan, and by Mahometan,
was struck on the head by Mahomet the Second, on that same day, May
29th of 1453, in which he mastered by storm this glorious city, the
bulwark of eastern Christendom, and the immediate rival of his own
European throne at Adrianople. But mark the superfetation of omens--
omen supervening upon omen, augury engrafted upon augury. The hour was
a sad one for Christianity; just 720 years before the western horn of
Islam had been rebutted in France by the Germans, chiefly under Charles
Martel. But now it seemed as though another horn, even more vigorous,
was preparing to assault Christendom and its hopes from the eastern
quarter. At this epoch, in the very hour of triumph, when the last of
the Cæsars had glorified his station, and sealed his testimony by
martyrdom, the fanatical Sultan, riding to his stirrups in blood, and
wielding that iron mace which had been his sole weapon, as well as
cognizance, through the battle, advanced to the column, round which the
triple serpent roared spirally upwards. He smote the brazen talisman;
he shattered one head; he left it mutilated as the record of his great
revolution; but crush it, destroy it, he did not--as a symbol
prefiguring the fortunes of Mahometanism, his people noticed, that in
the critical hour of fate, which stamped the Sultan's acts with
efficacy through ages, he had been prompted by his secret genius only
to 'scotch the snake,' not to crush it. Afterwards the fatal hour was
gone by; and this imperfect augury has since concurred traditionally
with the Mahometan prophecies about the Adrianople gate of
Constantinople, to depress the ultimate hopes of Islam in the midst of
all its insolence. The very haughtiest of the Mussulmans believe that
the gate is already in existence, through which the red Giaours (the
_Russi_) shall pass to the conquest of Stamboul; and that
everywhere, in Europe at least, the hat of Frangistan is destined to
surmount the turban--the crescent must go down before the cross.


What is the deadest of things earthly? It is, says the world, ever
forward and rash--'a door-nail!' But the world is wrong. There is a
thing deader than a door-nail, viz., Gillman's Coleridge, Vol. I. Dead,
more dead, most dead, is Gillman's Coleridge, Vol. I.; and this upon
more arguments than one. The book has clearly not completed its
elementary act of respiration; the _systole_ of Vol. I. is
absolutely useless and lost without the _diastole_ of that Vol.
II., which is never to exist. That is one argument, and perhaps this
second argument is stronger. Gillman's Coleridge, Vol. I., deals
rashly, unjustly, and almost maliciously, with some of our own
particular friends; and yet, until late in this summer, _Anno
Domini_ 1844, we--that is, neither ourselves nor our friends--ever
heard of its existence. Now a sloth, even without the benefit of Mr.
Waterton's evidence to his character, will travel faster than that. But
malice, which travels fastest of all things, must be dead and cold at
starting, when it can thus have lingered in the rear for six years; and
therefore, though the world was so far right, that people _do_
say, 'Dead as a door-nail,' yet, henceforward, the weakest of these
people will see the propriety of saying--'Dead as Gillman's Coleridge.'

The reader of experience, on sliding over the surface of this opening
paragraph, begins to think there's mischief singing in the upper air.
'No, reader, not at all. We never were cooler in our days. And this we
protest, that, were it not for the excellence of the subject,
_Coleridge and Opium-Eating_, Mr. Gillman would have been dismissed
by us unnoticed. Indeed, we not only forgive Mr. Gillman, but we
have a kindness for him; and on this account, that he was good, he
was generous, he was most forbearing, through twenty years, to poor
Coleridge, when thrown upon his hospitality. An excellent thing
_that_, Mr. Gillman, till, noticing the theme suggested by this
unhappy Vol. I., we are forced at times to notice its author, Nor is
this to be regretted. We remember a line of Horace never yet properly
translated, viz:--

  'Nec scutica dignum horribili sectere flagello.'

The true translation of which, as we assure the unlearned reader, is--
'Nor must you pursue with the horrid knout of Christopher that man who
merits only a switching.' Very true. We protest against all attempts to
invoke the exterminating knout; for _that_ sends a man to the
hospital for two months; but you see that the same judicious poet, who
dissuades an appeal to the knout, indirectly recommends the switch,
which, indeed, is rather pleasant than otherwise, amiably playful in
some of its little caprices, and in its worst, suggesting only a
pennyworth of diachylon.

We begin by professing, with hearty sincerity, our fervent admiration
of the extraordinary man who furnishes the theme for Mr. Gillman's
_coup-d'essai_ in biography. He was, in a literary sense, our
brother--for he also was amongst the contributors to _Blackwood_--
and will, we presume, take his station in that Blackwood gallery of
portraits, which, in a century hence, will possess more interest for
intellectual Europe than any merely martial series of portraits, or any
gallery of statesmen assembled in congress, except as regards one or
two leaders; for defunct major-generals, and secondary diplomatists,
when their date is past, awake no more emotion than last year's
advertisements, or obsolete directories; whereas those who, in a stormy
age, have swept the harps of passion, of genial wit, or of the
wrestling and gladiatorial reason, become more interesting to men when
they can no longer be seen as bodily agents, than even in the middle
chorus of that intellectual music over which, living, they presided.

Of this great camp Coleridge was a leader, and fought amongst the
_primipili_; yet, comparatively, he is still unknown. Heavy,
indeed, are the arrears still due to philosophic curiosity on the real
merits, and on the separate merits, of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Coleridge as a poet--Coleridge as a philosopher! How extensive are
those questions, if those were all! and upon neither question have we
yet any investigation--such as, by compass of views, by research, or
even by earnestness of sympathy with the subject, can, or ought to
satisfy, a philosophic demand. Blind is that man who can persuade
himself that the interest in Coleridge, taken as a total object, is
becoming an obsolete interest. We are of opinion that even Milton, now
viewed from a distance of two centuries, is still inadequately judged
or appreciated in his character of poet, of patriot and partisan, or,
finally, in his character of accomplished scholar. But, if so, how much
less can it be pretended that satisfaction has been rendered to the
claims of Coleridge? for, upon Milton, libraries have been written.
There has been time for the malice of men, for the jealousy of men, for
the enthusiasm, the scepticism, the adoring admiration of men, to
expand themselves! There has been room for a Bentley, for an Addison,
for a Johnson, for a wicked Lauder, for an avenging Douglas, for an
idolizing Chateaubriand; and yet, after all, little enough has been
done towards any comprehensive estimate of the mighty being concerned.
Piles of materials have been gathered to the ground; but, for the
monument which should have risen from these materials, neither the
first stone has been laid, nor has a qualified architect yet presented
his credentials. On the other hand, upon Coleridge little,
comparatively, has yet been written, whilst the separate characters on
which the judgment is awaited, are more by one than those which Milton
sustained. Coleridge, also, is a poet; Coleridge, also, was mixed up
with the fervent politics of his age--an age how memorably reflecting
the revolutionary agitations of Milton's age. Coleridge, also, was an
extensive and brilliant scholar. Whatever might be the separate
proportions of the two men in each particular department of the three
here noticed, think as the reader will upon that point, sure we are
that either subject is ample enough to make a strain upon the amplest
faculties. How alarming, therefore, for any _honest_ critic, who
should undertake this later subject of Coleridge, to recollect that,
after pursuing him through a zodiac of splendors corresponding to those
of Milton in kind, however different in degree--after weighing him as a
poet, as a philosophic politician, as a scholar, he will have to wheel
after him into another orbit, into the unfathomable _nimbus_ of
transcendental metaphysics. Weigh him the critic must in the golden
balance of philosophy the most abstruse--a balance which even itself
requires weighing previously, or he will have done nothing that can be
received for an estimate of the composite Coleridge. This astonishing
man, be it again remembered, besides being an exquisite poet, a
profound political speculator, a philosophic student of literature
through all its chambers and recesses, was also a circumnavigator on
the most pathless waters of scholasticism and metaphysics. He had
sounded, without guiding charts, the secret deeps of Proclus and
Plotinus; he had laid down buoys on the twilight, or moonlight, ocean
of Jacob Boehmen; [Footnote: 'JACOB BOEHMEN.' We ourselves had the
honor of presenting to Mr. Coleridge, Law's English version of Jacob--a
set of huge quartos. Some months afterwards we saw this work lying
open, and one volume at least overflowing, in parts, with the
commentaries and the _corollaries_ of Coleridge. Whither has this
work, and so many others swathed about with Coleridge's MS. notes,
vanished from the world?] he had cruised over the broad Atlantic of
Kant and Schelling, of Fichte and Oken. Where is the man who shall be
equal to these things? We at least make no such adventurous effort; or,
if ever we should presume to do so, not at present. Here we design only
to make a coasting voyage of survey round the headlands and most
conspicuous seamarks of our subject, as they are brought forward by Mr.
Gillman, or collaterally suggested by our own reflections; and
especially we wish to say a word or two on Coleridge as an opium-eater.

Naturally the first point to which we direct our attention, is the
history and personal relations of Coleridge. Living with Mr. Gillman
for nineteen years as a domesticated friend, Coleridge ought to have
been known intimately. And it is reasonable to expect, from so much
intercourse, some additions to our slender knowledge of Coleridge's
adventures, (if we may use so coarse a word,) and of the secret springs
at work in those early struggles of Coleridge at Cambridge, London,
Bristol, which have been rudely told to the world, and repeatedly told,
as showy romances, but never rationally explained.

The anecdotes, however, which Mr. Gillman has added to the personal
history of Coleridge, are as little advantageous to the effect of his
own book as they are to the interest of the memorable character which
he seeks to illustrate. Always they are told without grace, and
generally are suspicious in their details. Mr. Gillman we believe to be
too upright a man for countenancing any untruth. He has been deceived.
For example, will any man believe this? A certain 'excellent
equestrian' falling in with Coleridge on horseback, thus accosted him--
'Pray, Sir, did you meet a tailor along the road?' '_A tailor_!'
answered Coleridge; '_I did meet a person answering such a description,
who told me he had dropped his goose; that if I rode a little further
I should find it; and I guess he must have meant you._' In Joe Miller
this story would read, perhaps, sufferably. Joe has a privilege; and
we do not look too narrowly into the mouth of a Joe-Millerism. But
Mr. Gillman, writing the life of a philosopher, and no jest-book, is
under a different law of decorum. That retort, however, which silences
the jester, it may seem, must be a good one. And we are desired to
believe that, in this case, the baffled assailant rode off in a spirit
of benign candor, saying aloud to himself, like the excellent
philosopher that he evidently was, 'Caught a Tartar!'

But another story of a sporting baronet, who was besides a Member of
Parliament, is much worse, and altogether degrading to Coleridge. This
gentleman, by way of showing off before a party of ladies, is
represented as insulting Coleridge by putting questions to him on the
qualities of his horse, so as to draw the animal's miserable defects
into public notice, and then closing his display by demanding what he
would take for the horse 'including the rider.' The supposed reply of
Coleridge might seem good to those who understand nothing of true
dignity; for, as an _impromptu_, it was smart and even caustic.
The baronet, it seems, was reputed to have been bought by the minister;
and the reader will at once divine that the retort took advantage of
that current belief, so as to throw back the sarcasm, by proclaiming
that neither horse nor rider had a price placarded in the market at
which any man could become their purchaser. But this was not the temper
in which Coleridge either did reply, or could have replied. Coleridge
showed, in the _spirit_ of his manner, a profound sensibility to
the nature of a gentleman; and he felt too justly what it became a
self-respecting person to say, ever to have aped the sort of flashy
fencing which might seem fine to a theatrical blood.

Another story is self-refuted: 'A hired partisan' had come to one of
Coleridge's political lectures with the express purpose of bringing the
lecturer into trouble; and most preposterously he laid himself open to
his own snare by refusing to pay for admission. Spies must be poor
artists who proceed thus. Upon which Coleridge remarked--'That, before
the gentleman kicked up a dust, surely he would down with the dust.' So
far the story will not do. But what follows is possible enough. The
_same_ 'hired' gentleman, by way of giving unity to the tale, is
described as having hissed. Upon this a cry arose of 'Turn him out!'
But Coleridge interfered to protect him; he insisted on the man's right
to hiss if he thought fit; it was legal to hiss; it was natural to
hiss; 'for what is to be expected, gentlemen, when the cool waters of
reason come in contact with red-hot aristocracy, but a hiss?' _Euge!_

Amongst all the anecdotes, however of this splendid man, often trivial,
often incoherent, often unauthenticated, there is one which strikes us
as both true and interesting; and we are grateful to Mr. Gillman for
preserving it. We find it introduced, and partially authenticated, by
the following sentence from Coleridge himself:--'From eight to fourteen
I was a playless day-dreamer, a _helluo librorum_; my appetite for
which was indulged by a singular incident. A stranger, who was struck
by my conversation, made me free of a circulating library in King's
Street, Cheapside.' The more circumstantial explanation of Mr. Gillman
is this: `The incident indeed was singular. Going down the Strand, in
one of his day-dreams, fancying himself swimming across the Hellespont,
thrusting his hands before him as in the act of swimming, his hand came
in contact with a gentleman's pocket. The gentleman seized his hand,
turning round, and looking at him with some anger--"What! so young, and
yet so wicked?" at the same time accused him of an attempt to pick his
pocket. The frightened boy sobbed out his denial of the intention, and
explained to him how he thought himself Leander swimming across the
Hellespont. The gentleman was so struck and delighted with the novelty
of the thing, and with the simplicity and intelligence of the boy, that
he subscribed, as before stated, to the library; in consequence of
which Coleridge was further enabled to indulge his love of reading.'

We fear that this slovenly narrative is the very perfection of bad
story-telling. But the story itself is striking, and, by the very
oddness of the incidents, not likely to have been invented. The effect,
from the position of the two parties--on the one side, a simple child
from Devonshire, dreaming in the Strand that he was swimming over from
Sestos to Abydos, and, on the other, the experienced man, dreaming only
of this world, its knaves and its thieves, but still kind and generous
--is beautiful and picturesque. _Oh! si sic omnia!_

But the most interesting to us of the _personalities_ connected
with Coleridge are his feuds and his personal dislikes.
Incomprehensible to us is the war of extermination which Coleridge made
upon the political economists. Did Sir James Steuart, in speaking of
vine-dressers, (not _as_ vine-dressers, but generally as
cultivators,) tell his readers, that, if such a man simply replaced his
own consumption, having no surplus whatever or increment for the public
capital, he could not be considered a useful citizen? Not the beast in
the Revelation is held up by Coleridge as more hateful to the spirit of
truth than the Jacobite baronet. And yet we know of an author--viz.,
one S. T. Coleridge--who repeated that same doctrine without finding
any evil in it. Look at the first part of the _Wallenstein_, where
Count Isolani having said, 'Pooh! we are _all_ his subjects,'
_i. e._, soldiers, (though unproductive laborers,) not less than
productive peasants, the emperor's envoy replies--'Yet with a
difference, general;' and the difference implies Sir James's scale, his
vine-dresser being the equatorial case between the two extremes of the
envoy. Malthus again, in his population-book, contends for a mathematic
difference between animal and vegetable life, in respect to the law of
increase, as though the first increased by geometrical ratios, the last
by arithmetical! No proposition more worthy of laughter; since both,
when permitted to expand, increase by geometrical ratios, and the
latter by much higher ratios. Whereas, Malthus persuaded himself of his
crotchet simply by refusing the requisite condition in the vegetable
case, and granting it in the other. If you take a few grains of wheat,
and are required to plant all successive generations of their produce
in the same flower-pot for ever, of course you neutralize its expansion
by your own act of arbitrary limitation. [Footnote: Malthus would have
rejoined by saying--that the flowerpot limitation was the actual
limitation of nature in our present circumstances. In America it is
otherwise, he would say, but England is the very flowerpot you suppose;
she is a flowerpot which cannot be multiplied, and cannot even be
enlarged. Very well, so be it (which we say in order to waive
irrelevant disputes). But then the true inference will be--not that
vegetable increase proceeds under a different law from that which
governs animal increase, but that, through an accident of position, the
experiment cannot be tried in England. Surely the levers of Archimedes,
with submission to Sir Edward B. Lytton, were not the less levers
because he wanted the _locum standi_. It is proper, by the way,
that we should inform the reader of this generation where to look for
Coleridge's skirmishings with Malthus. They are to be found chiefly in
the late Mr. William Hazlitt's work on that subject: a work which
Coleridge so far claimed as to assert that it had been substantially
made up from his own conversation.] But so you would do, if you tried
the case of _animal_ increase by still exterminating all but one
replacing couple of parents. This is not to try, but merely a pretence
of trying, one order of powers against another. That was folly. But
Coleridge combated this idea in a manner so obscure, that nobody
understood it. And leaving these speculative conundrums, in coming to
the great practical interests afloat in the Poor Laws, Coleridge did so
little real work, that he left, as a _res integra_, to Dr. Alison,
the capital argument that legal and _adequate_ provision for the
poor, whether impotent poor or poor accidentally out of work, does not
extend pauperism--no, but is the one great resource for putting it
down. Dr. Alison's overwhelming and _experimental_ manifestations
of that truth have prostrated Malthus and his generation for ever. This
comes of not attending to the Latin maxim--'_Hoc_ age'--mind the
object before you. Dr. Alison, a wise man, '_hoc_ egit:' Coleridge
'_aliud_ egit.' And we see the result. In a case which suited him,
by interesting his peculiar feeling, Coleridge could command

  'Attention full ten times as much as there needs.'

But search documents, value evidence, or thresh out bushels of
statistical tables, Coleridge could not, any more than he could ride
with Elliot's dragoons.

Another instance of Coleridge's inaptitude for such studies as
political economy is found in his fancy, by no means 'rich and rare,'
but meagre and trite, that taxes can never injure public prosperity by
mere excess of quantity; if they injure, we are to conclude that it
must be by their quality and mode of operation, or by their false
appropriation, (as, for instance, if they are sent out of the country
and spent abroad.) Because, says Coleridge, if the taxes are exhaled
from the country as vapors, back they come in drenching showers. Twenty
pounds ascend in a Scotch mist to the Chancellor of the Exchequer from
Leeds; but does it evaporate? Not at all: By return of post down comes
an order for twenty pounds' worth of Leeds cloth, on account of
Government, seeing that the poor men of the ----th regiment want new
gaiters. True; but of this return twenty pounds, not more than four
will be profit, _i.e._, surplus accruing to the public capital;
whereas, of the original twenty pounds, every shilling was surplus. The
same unsound fancy has been many times brought forward; often in
England, often in France. But it is curious, that its first appearance
upon any stage was precisely two centuries ago, when as yet political
economy slept with the pre-Adamites, viz., in the Long Parliament. In a
quarto volume of the debates during 1644-45, printed as an independent
work, will be found the same identical doctrine, supported very
sonorously by the same little love of an illustration from the see-saw
of mist and rain.

Political economy was not Coleridge's forte. In politics he was
happier. In mere personal politics, he (like every man when reviewed
from a station distant by forty years) will often appear to have erred;
nay, he will be detected and nailed in error. But this is the necessity
of us all. Keen are the refutations of time. And absolute results to
posterity are the fatal touchstone of opinions in the past. It is
undeniable, besides, that Coleridge had strong personal antipathies,
for instance, to Messrs. Pitt and Dundas. Yet _why_, we never
could understand. We once heard him tell a story upon Windermere, to
the late Mr. Curwen, then M. P. for Workington, which was meant,
apparently, to account for this feeling. The story amounted to this;
that, when a freshman at Cambridge, Mr. Pitt had wantonly amused
himself at a dinner party in Trinity, in smashing with filberts
(discharged in showers like grape-shot) a most costly dessert set of
cut glass, from which Samuel Taylor Coleridge argued a principle of
destructiveness in his _cerebellum_. Now, if this dessert set
belonged to some poor suffering Trinitarian, and not to himself, we are
of opinion that he was faulty, and ought, upon his own great subsequent
maxim, to have been coerced into 'indemnity for the past, and security
for the future.' But, besides that this glassy _mythus_ belongs to
an æra fifteen years earlier than Coleridge's so as to justify a shadow
of scepticism, we really cannot find, in such an _escapade_ under
the boiling blood of youth, any sufficient justification of that
withering malignity towards the name of Pitt, which runs through
Coleridge's famous _Fire, Famine, and Slaughter_. As this little
viperous _jeu-d'esprit_ (published anonymously) subsequently
became the subject of a celebrated after-dinner discussion in London,
at which Coleridge (_comme de raison_) was the chief speaker, the
reader of this generation may wish to know the question at issue; and
in order to judge of _that_, he must know the outline of this
devil's squib. The writer brings upon the scene three pleasant young
ladies, viz., Miss Fire, Miss Famine, and Miss Slaughter. 'What are you
up to? What's the row?'--we may suppose to be the introductory question
of the poet. And the answer of the ladies makes us aware that they are
fresh from larking in Ireland, and in France. A glorious spree they
had; lots of fun; and laughter _a discretion_. At all times
_gratus puellæ risus ab angulo_; so that we listen to their little
gossip with interest. They had been setting men, it seems, by the ears;
and the drollest little atrocities they do certainly report. Not but we
have seen better in the Nenagh paper, so far as Ireland is concerned.
But the pet little joke was in La Vendee. Miss Famine, who is the girl
for our money, raises the question--whether any of them can tell the
name of the leader and prompter to these high jinks of hell--if so, let
her whisper it.

  'Whisper it, sister, so and so,
  In a dark hint--distinct and low.'

Upon which the playful Miss Slaughter replies:--

  'Letters _four_ do form his name.
  *     *     *     *     *
  He came by stealth and unlock'd my den;
  And I have drunk the blood since then
  Of thrice three hundred thousand men.'

Good: but the sting of the hornet lies in the conclusion. If this
quadriliteral man had done so much for _them_, (though really, we
think, 6s. 8d. might have settled his claim,) what, says Fire, setting
her arms a-kimbo, would they do for _him_? Slaughter replies,
rather crustily, that, as far as a good kicking would go--or (says
Famine) a little matter of tearing to pieces by the mob--they would be
glad to take tickets at his benefit. 'How, you bitches!' says Fire, 'is
that all?

  'I alone am faithful; I
  _Cling to him everlastingly_.'

The sentiment is diabolical. And the question argued at the London
dinner-table was--Could the writer have been other than a devil? The
dinner was at the late excellent Mr. Sotheby's, known advantageously in
those days as the translator of Wieland's _Oberon_. Several of the
great guns amongst the literary body were present; in particular, Sir
Walter Scott; and he, we believe, with his usual good-nature, took the
apologetic side of the dispute. In fact, he was in the secret. Nobody
else, barring the author, knew at first whose good name was at stake.
The scene must have been high. The company kicked about the poor
diabolic writer's head as if it had been a tennis-ball. Coleridge, the
yet unknown criminal, absolutely perspired and fumed in pleading for
the defendant; the company demurred; the orator grew urgent; wits began
to _smoke_ the case, as active verbs; the advocate to _smoke_, as a
neuter verb; the 'fun grew fast and furious;' until at length
_delinquent arose_, burning tears in his eyes, and confessed to an
audience, (now bursting with stifled laughter, but whom he supposed to
be bursting with fiery indignation,) 'Lo! I am he that wrote it.'

For our own parts, we side with Coleridge. Malice is not always of the
heart. There is a malice of the understanding and the fancy. Neither do
we think the worse of a man for having invented the most horrible and
old-woman-troubling curse that demons ever listened to. We are too apt
to swear horribly ourselves; and often have we frightened the cat, to
say nothing of the kettle, by our shocking [far too shocking!] oaths.

There were other celebrated men whom Coleridge detested, or seemed to
detest--Paley, Sir Sidney Smith, Lord Hutchinson, (the last Lord
Donoughmore,) and Cuvier. To Paley it might seem as if his antipathy
had been purely philosophic; but we believe that partly it was
personal; and it tallies with this belief, that, in his earliest
political tracts, Coleridge charged the archdeacon repeatedly with his
own joke, as if it had been a serious saying, viz.--'That he could not
afford to keep a conscience;' such luxuries, like a carriage, for
instance, being obviously beyond the finances of poor men.

With respect to the philosophic question between the parties, as to the
grounds of moral election, we hope it is no treason to suggest that
both were perhaps in error. Against Paley, it occurs at once that he
himself would not have made consequences the _practical_ test in
valuing the morality of an act, since these can very seldom be traced
at all up to the final stages, and in the earliest stages are
exceedingly different under different circumstances; so that the same
act, tried by its consequences, would bear a fluctuating appreciation.
This could not have been Paley's _revised_ meaning. Consequently,
had he been pressed by opposition, it would have come out, that by
_test_ he meant only _speculative_ test: a very harmless doctrine
certainly, but useless and impertinent to any purpose of his system.
The reader may catch our meaning in the following illustration.
It is a matter of general belief, that happiness, upon the whole,
follows in a higher degree from constant integrity, than from the
closest attention to self-interest. Now happiness is one of those
consequences which Paley meant by final or remotest. But we could never
use this idea as an exponent of integrity, or interchangeable
criterion, because happiness cannot be ascertained or appreciated
except upon long tracts of time, whereas the particular act of
integrity depends continually upon the election of the moment. No man,
therefore, could venture to lay down as a rule, Do what makes you
happy; use this as your test of actions, satisfied that in that case
always you will do the thing which is right. For he cannot discern
independently what _will_ make him happy; and he must decide on
the spot. The use of the _nexus_ between morality and happiness
must therefore be inverted; it is not practical or prospective, but
simply retrospective; and in that form it says no more than the good
old rules hallowed in every cottage. But this furnishes no practical
guide for moral election which a man had not, before he ever thought of
this _nexus_. In the sense in which it is true, we need not go to
the professor's chair for this maxim; in the sense in which it would
serve Paley, it is absolutely false.

On the other hand, as against Coleridge, it is certain that many acts
could be mentioned which are judged to be good or bad only because
their consequences are known to be so, whilst the great catholic acts
of life are entirely (and, if we may so phrase it, haughtily)
independent of consequences. For instance, fidelity to a trust is a law
of immutable morality subject to no casuistry whatever. You have been
left executor to a friend--you are to pay over his last legacy to X,
though a dissolute scoundrel; and you are to give no shilling of it to
the poor brother of X, though a good man, and a wise man, struggling
with adversity. You are absolutely excluded from all contemplation of
results. It was your deceased friend's right to make the will; it is
yours simply to see it executed. Now, in opposition to this primary
class of actions stands another, such as the habit of intoxication,
which are known to be wrong only by observing the consequences. If
drunkenness did not terminate, after some years, in producing bodily
weakness, irritability in the temper, and so forth, it would _not_
be a vicious act. And accordingly, if a transcendent motive should
arise in favor of drunkenness, as that it would enable you to face a
degree of cold, or contagion, else menacing to life, a duty would
arise, _pro hac vice_, of getting drunk. We had an amiable friend
who suffered under the infirmity of cowardice; an awful coward he was
when sober; but, when very drunk, he had courage enough for the Seven
Champions of Christendom, Therefore, in an emergency, where he knew
himself suddenly loaded with the responsibility of defending a family,
we approved highly of his getting drunk. But to violate a trust could
never become right under any change of circumstances. Coleridge,
however, altogether overlooked this distinction: which, on the other
hand, stirring in Paley's mind, but never brought out to distinct
consciousness, nor ever investigated, nor limited, has undermined his
system. Perhaps it is not very important how a man _theorizes_
upon morality; happily for us all, God has left no man in such
questions practically to the guidance of his understanding; but still,
considering that academic bodies _are_ partly instituted for the
support of speculative truth as well as truth practical, we must think
it a blot upon the splendor of Oxford and Cambridge that both of them,
in a Christian land, make Paley the foundation of their ethics; the
alternative being Aristotle. And, in our mind, though far inferior as a
moralist to the Stoics, Aristotle is often less of a pagan than Paley.

Coleridge's dislike to Sir Sidney Smith and the Egyptian Lord
Hutchinson fell under the category of Martial's case.

  'Non amo te, Sabidi, nec possum dicere quare,
  Hoc solum novi--non amo te, Sabidi.'

Against Lord Hutchinson, we never heard him plead anything of moment,
except that he was finically Frenchified in his diction; of which he
gave this instance--that having occasion to notice a brick wall, (which
was literally _that_, not more and not less,) when reconnoitring
the French defences, he called it a _revêtement_. And we ourselves
remember his using the French word _gloriole_ rather ostentatiously;
that is, when no particular emphasis attached to the case. But every
man has his foibles; and few, perhaps, are less conspicuously annoying
than this of Lord Hutchinson's. Sir Sidney's crimes were less
distinctly revealed to our mind. As to Cuvier, Coleridge's hatred of
_him_ was more to our taste; for (though quite unreasonable, we fear)
it took the shape of patriotism. He insisted on it, that our British
John Hunter was the genuine article, and that Cuvier was a humbug. Now,
speaking privately to the public, we cannot go quite so far as _that_.
But, when publicly we address that most respectable character, _en
grand costume_, we always mean to back Coleridge. For we are a horrible
John Bull ourselves. As Joseph Hume observes, it makes no difference to
us--right or wrong, black or white--when our countrymen are concerned.
And John Hunter, notwithstanding he had a bee in his bonnet, [Footnote:
_Vide_, in particular, for the most exquisite specimen of pigheadedness
that the world can furnish, his perverse evidence on the once famous
case at the Warwick assizes, of Captain Donelan for poisoning his
brother-in-law, Sir Theodosius Boughton.] was really a great man;
though it will not follow that Cuvier must, therefore, have been a
little one. We do not pretend to be acquainted with the tenth part of
Cuvier's performances; but we suspect that Coleridge's range in that
respect was not much greater than our own.

Other cases of monomaniac antipathy we might revive from our
recollections of Coleridge, had we a sufficient motive. But in
compensation, and by way of redressing the balance, he had many strange
likings--equally monomaniac--and, unaccountably, he chose to exhibit
his whimsical partialities by dressing up, as it were, in his own
clothes, such a set of scarecrows as eye has not beheld. Heavens! what
an ark of unclean beasts would have been Coleridge's private
_menagerie_ of departed philosophers, could they all have been
trotted out in succession! But did the reader feel them to be the awful
bores which, in fact, they were? No; because Coleridge had blown upon
these withered anatomies, through the blowpipe of his own creative
genius, a stream of gas that swelled the tissue of their antediluvian
wrinkles, forced color upon their cheeks, and splendor upon their
sodden eyes. Such a process of ventriloquism never _has_ existed.
He spoke by their organs. They were the tubes; and he forced through
their wooden machinery his own Beethoven harmonies.

First came Dr. Andrew Bell. We knew him. Was he dull? Is a wooden spoon
dull? Fishy were his eyes; torpedinous was his manner; and his main
idea, out of two which he really had, related to the moon--from which
you infer, perhaps, that he was lunatic. By no means. It was no craze,
under the influence of the moon, which possessed him; it was an idea of
mere hostility to the moon. The Madras people, like many others, had an
idea that she influenced the weather. Subsequently the Herschels,
senior and junior, systematized this idea; and then the wrath of
Andrew, previously in a crescent state, actually dilated to a
plenilunar orb. The Westmoreland people (for at the lakes it was we
knew him) expounded his condition to us by saying that he was
'maffled;' which word means 'perplexed in the extreme.' His wrath did
not pass into lunacy; it produced simple distraction; an uneasy
fumbling with the idea; like that of an old superannuated dog who longs
to worry, but cannot for want of teeth. In this condition you will
judge that he was rather tedious. And in this condition Coleridge took
him up. Andrew's other idea, because he _had_ two, related to
education. Perhaps six-sevenths of that also came from Madras. No
matter, Coleridge took _that_ up; Southey also; but Southey with
his usual temperate fervor. Coleridge, on the other hand, found
celestial marvels both in the scheme and in the man. Then commenced the
apotheosis of Andrew Bell: and because it happened that his opponent,
Lancaster, between ourselves, really _had_ stolen his ideas from
Bell, what between the sad wickedness of Lancaster and the celestial
transfiguration of Bell, gradually Coleridge heated himself to such an
extent, that people, when referring to that subject, asked each other,
'Have you heard Coleridge lecture on _Bel and the Dragon_?'

The next man glorified by Coleridge was John Woolman, the Quaker. Him,
though we once possessed his works, it cannot be truly affirmed that we
ever read. Try to read John, we often did; but read John we did not.
This, however, you say, might be our fault, and not John's. Very
likely. And we have a notion that now, with our wiser thoughts, we
_should_ read John, if he were here on this table. It is certain
that he was a good man, and one of the earliest in America, if not in
Christendom, who lifted up his hand to protest against the slave-trade.
But still, we suspect, that had John been all that Coleridge
represented, he would not have repelled us from reading his travels in
the fearful way that he did. But, again, we beg pardon, and entreat the
earth of Virginia to lie light upon the remains of John Woolman; for he
was an Israelite, indeed, in whom there was no guile.

The third person raised to divine honors by Coleridge was Bowyer, the
master of Christ's Hospital, London--a man whose name rises into the
nostrils of all who knew him with the gracious odor of a tallow-
chandler's melting-house upon melting day, and whose memory is embalmed
in the hearty detestation of all his pupils. Coleridge describes this
man as a profound critic. Our idea of him is different. We are of
opinion that Bowyer was the greatest villain of the eighteenth century.
We may be wrong; but we cannot be _far_ wrong. Talk of knouting
indeed! which we did at the beginning of this paper in the mere
playfulness of our hearts--and which the great master of the knout,
Christopher, who visited men's trespasses like the Eumenides, never
resorted to but in love for some great idea which had been outraged;
why, this man knouted his way through life, from bloody youth up to
truculent old age. Grim idol! whose altars reeked with children's
blood, and whose dreadful eyes never smiled except as the stern goddess
of the Thugs smiles, when the sound of human lamentations inhabits her
ears. So much had the monster fed upon this great idea of 'flogging,'
and transmuted it into the very nutriment of his heart, that he seems
to have conceived the gigantic project of flogging all mankind; nay
worse, for Mr. Gillman, on Coleridge's authority, tells us (p. 24) the
following anecdote:--'"_Sirrah, I'll flog you_," were words so
familiar to him, that on one occasion some _female_ friend of one
of the boys,' (who had come on an errand of intercession,) 'still
lingering at the door, after having been abruptly told to go, Bowyer
exclaimed--"Bring that woman here, and I'll flog her."'

To this horrid incarnation of whips and scourges, Coleridge, in his
_Biographia Literaria_, ascribes ideas upon criticism and taste,
which every man will recognise as the intense peculiarities of
Coleridge. Could these notions really have belonged to Bowyer, then how
do we know but he wrote _The Ancient Mariner_? Yet, on consideration,
no. For even Coleridge admitted that, spite of his fine theorizing upon
composition, Mr. Bowyer did not prosper in the practice. Of which he
gave us this illustration; and as it is supposed to be the only
specimen of the Bowyeriana which now survives in this sublunary world,
we are glad to extend its glory. It is the most curious example extant
of the melodious in sound:--

  ''Twas thou that smooth'd'st the rough-rugg'd bed of pain.'

'Smooth'd'st!' Would the teeth of a crocodile not splinter under that
word? It seems to us as if Mr. Bowyer's verses ought to be boiled
before they can be read. And when he says, 'Twas thou, what is the
wretch talking to? Can he be apostrophizing the knout? We very much
fear it. If so, then, you see (reader!) that, even when incapacitated
by illness from operating, he still adores the image of his holy
scourge, and invokes it as alone able to smooth 'his rough-rugg'd bed.'
Oh, thou infernal Bowyer! upon whom even Trollope (_History of
Christ's Hospital_) charges 'a discipline _tinctured_ with more
than due severity;'--can there be any partners found for thee in a
quadrille, except Draco, the bloody lawgiver, Bishop Bonner, and Mrs.

The next pet was Sir Alexander Ball. Concerning Bowyer, Coleridge did
not talk much, but chiefly wrote; concerning Bell, he did not write
much, but chiefly talked. Concerning Ball, however, he both wrote and
talked. It was in vain to muse upon any plan for having Ball
blackballed, or for rebelling against Bell. Think of a man, who had
fallen into one pit called Bell; secondly, falling into another pit
called Ball. This was too much. We were obliged to quote poetry against

  'Letters four do form his name;
  He came by stealth and unlock'd my den;
  And the nightmare I have felt since then
  Of thrice three hundred thousand men.'

Not that we insinuate any disrespect to Sir Alexander Ball. He was
about the foremost, we believe, in all good qualities, amongst Nelson's
admirable captains at the Nile. He commanded a seventy-four most
effectually in that battle; he governed Malta as well as Sancho
governed Barataria; and he was a true practical philosopher--as,
indeed, was Sancho. But still, by all that we could ever learn, Sir
Alexander had no taste for the abstract upon any subject; and would
have read, as mere delirious wanderings, those philosophic opinions
which Coleridge fastened like wings upon his respectable, but
astounded, shoulders.

We really beg pardon for having laughed a little at these crazes of
Coleridge. But laugh we did, of mere necessity, in those days, at Bell
and Ball, whenever we did not groan. And, as the same precise
alternative offered itself now, viz., that, in recalling the case, we
must reverberate either the groaning or the laughter, we presumed the
reader would vote for the last. Coleridge, we are well convinced, owed
all these wandering and exaggerated estimates of men--these diseased
impulses, that, like the _mirage_, showed lakes and fountains
where in reality there were only arid deserts, to the derangements
worked by opium. But now, for the sake of change, let us pass to
another topic. Suppose we say a word or two on Coleridge's
accomplishments as a scholar. We are not going to enter on so large a
field as that of his scholarship in connection with his philosophic
labors, scholarship in the result; not this, but scholarship in the
means and machinery, range of _verbal_ scholarship, is what we
propose for a moment's review.

For instance, what sort of a German scholar was Coleridge? We dare say
that, because in his version of the _Wallenstein_ there are some
inaccuracies, those who may have noticed them will hold him cheap in
this particular pretension. But, to a certain degree, they will be
wrong. Coleridge was not _very_ accurate in anything but in the
use of logic. All his philological attainments were imperfect. He did
not talk German; or so obscurely--and, if he attempted to speak fast,
so erroneously--that in his second sentence, when conversing with a
German lady of rank, he contrived to assure her that in his humble
opinion she was a ----. Hard it is to fill up the hiatus decorously;
but, in fact, the word very coarsely expressed that she was no better
than she should be. Which reminds us of a parallel misadventure to a
German, whose colloquial English had been equally neglected. Having
obtained an interview with an English lady, he opened his business
(whatever it might be) thus--'High-born madam, since your husband have
kicked de bucket'----'Sir!' interrupted the lady, astonished and
displeased. 'Oh, pardon!--nine, ten thousand pardon! Now, I make new
beginning--quite oder beginning. Madam, since your husband have cut his
stick'----It may be supposed that this did not mend matters; and,
reading that in the lady's countenance, the German drew out an octavo
dictionary, and said, perspiring with shame at having a second time
missed fire,--'Madam, since your husband have gone to kingdom come'----
This he said beseechingly; but the lady was past propitiation by this
time, and rapidly moved towards the door. Things had now reached a
crisis; and, if something were not done quickly, the game was up. Now,
therefore, taking a last hurried look at his dictionary, the German
flew after the lady, crying out in a voice of despair--'Madam, since
your husband, your most respected husband, have hopped de twig'----This
was his sheet-anchor; and, as this also _came home_, of course the
poor man was totally wrecked. It turned out that the dictionary he had
used (Arnold's, we think,)--a work of a hundred years back, and, from
mere ignorance, giving slang translations from Tom Brown, L'Estrange,
and other jocular writers--had put down the verb _sterben (to
die)_ with the following worshipful series of equivalents--1. To
kick the bucket; 2. To cut one's stick; 3. To go to kingdom come; 4. To
hop the twig.

But, though Coleridge did not pretend to any fluent command of
conversational German, he read it with great ease. His knowledge of
German literature was, indeed, too much limited by his rare
opportunities for commanding anything like a well-mounted library. And
particularly it surprised us that Coleridge knew little or nothing of
John Paul (Richter). But his acquaintance with the German philosophic
masters was extensive. And his valuation of many individual German
words or phrases was delicate and sometimes profound.

As a Grecian, Coleridge must be estimated with a reference to the state
and standard of Greek literature at that time and in this country.
Porson had not yet raised our ideal. The earliest laurels of Coleridge
were gathered, however, in that field. Yet no man will, at this day,
pretend that the Greek of his prize ode is sufferable. Neither did
Coleridge ever become an accurate Grecian in later times, when better
models of scholarship, and better aids to scholarship, had begun to
multiply. But still we must assert this point of superiority for
Coleridge, that, whilst he never was what may be called a well-mounted
scholar in any department of verbal scholarship, he yet displayed
sometimes a brilliancy of conjectural sagacity, and a felicity of
philosophic investigation, even in this path, such as better scholars
do not often attain, and of a kind which cannot be learned from books.
But, as respects his accuracy, again we must recall to the reader the
state of Greek literature in England during Coleridge's youth; and, in
all equity, as a means of placing Coleridge in the balances,
specifically we must recall the state of Greek metrical composition at
that period.

To measure the condition of Greek literature even in Cambridge, about
the initial period of Coleridge, we need only look back to the several
translations of Gray's _Elegy_ by three (if not four) of the
reverend gentlemen at that time attached to Eton College. Mathias, no
very great scholar himself in this particular field, made himself
merry, in his _Pursuits of Literature_, with these Eton translations.
In that he was right. But he was _not_ right in praising a contemporary
translation by Cook, who (we believe) was the immediate predecessor of
Porson in the Greek chair. As a specimen of this translation,
[Footnote: It was printed at the end of Aristotle's _Poetics_, which
Dr. Cook edited.] we cite one stanza; and we cannot be supposed to
select unfairly, because it is the stanza which Mathias praises in
extravagant terms. "Here," says he, "Gray, Cook, and Nature, do seem to
contend for the mastery." The English quatrain must be familiar to
every body:--

  "The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
    And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
  Await alike the inevitable hour:
    The paths of glory lead but to the grave."

And the following, we believe, though quoting from a thirty-three
years' recollection of it, is the exact Greek version of Cook:--

  'A charis eugenon, charis a basilaeidos achas
  Lora tuchaes chryseaes, Aphroditaes kala ta dora,
  Paith ama tauta tethiake, kai eiden morsimon amar
  Proon kle olole, kai ocheto xunon es Adaen.'

Now really these verses, by force of a little mosaic tesselation from
genuine Greek sources, pass fluently over the tongue; but can they be
considered other than a _cento_? Swarms of English schoolboys, at
this day, would not feel very proud to adopt them. In fact, we remember
(at a period say twelve years later than this) some iambic verses,
which were really composed by a boy, viz., a son of Dr. Prettyman,
(afterwards Tomline,) Bishop of Winchester, and, in earlier times,
private tutor to Mr. Pitt; they were published by Middleton, first
Bishop of Calcutta, in the preface to his work on the Greek article;
and for racy idiomatic Greek, self-originated, and not a mere mocking-
bird's iteration of alien notes, are so much superior to all the
attempts of these sexagenarian doctors, as distinctly to mark the
growth of a new era and a new generation in this difficult
accomplishment, within the first decennium of this century. It is
singular that only one blemish is suggested by any of the contemporary
critics in Dr. Cook's verses, viz., in the word _xunon_, for which
this critic proposes to substitute _ooinon_, to prevent, as he
observes, the last syllable of _ocheto_ from being lengthened by
the _x_. Such considerations as these are necessary to the
_trutinæ castigatio_, before we can value Coleridge's place on the
scale of his own day; which day, _quoad hoc_, be it remembered,
was 1790.

As to French, Coleridge read it with too little freedom to find
pleasure in French literature. Accordingly, we never recollect his
referring for any purpose, either of argument or illustration, to a
French classic. Latin, from his regular scholastic training, naturally
he read with a scholar's fluency; and indeed, he read constantly in
authors, such as Petrarch, Erasmus, Calvin, &c., whom he could not then
have found in translations. But Coleridge had not cultivated an
acquaintance with the delicacies of classic Latinity. And it is
remarkable that Wordsworth, educated most negligently at Hawkshead
school, subsequently by reading the lyric poetry of Horace, simply for
his own delight as a student of composition, made himself a master of
Latinity in its most difficult form; whilst Coleridge, trained
regularly in a great Southern school, never carried his Latin to any
classical polish.

There is another accomplishment of Coleridge's, less broadly open to
the judgment of this generation, and not at all of the next--viz., his
splendid art of conversation, on which it will be interesting to say a
word. Ten years ago, when the music of this rare performance had not
yet ceased to vibrate in men's ears, what a sensation was gathering
amongst the educated classes on this particular subject! What a tumult
of anxiety prevailed to 'hear Mr. Coleridge'--or even to talk with a
man who _had_ heard him! Had he lived till this day, not Paganini
would have been so much sought after. That sensation is now decaying;
because a new generation has emerged during the ten years since his
death. But many still remain whose sympathy (whether of curiosity in
those who did _not_ know him, or of admiration in those who
_did_) still reflects as in a mirror the great stir upon this
subject which then was moving in the world. To these, if they should
inquire for the great distinguishing principle of Coleridge's
conversation, we might say that it was the power of vast combination
'in linked sweetness long drawn out.' He gathered into focal
concentration the largest body of objects, _apparently_ disconnected,
that any man ever yet, by any magic, could assemble, or, _having_
assembled, could manage. His great fault was, that, by not opening
sufficient spaces for reply or suggestion, or collateral notice, he not
only narrowed his own field, but he grievously injured the final
impression. For when men's minds are purely passive, when they are not
allowed to re-act, then it is that they collapse most, and that their
sense of what is said must ever be feeblest. Doubtless there must have
been great conversational masters elsewhere, and at many periods; but
in this lay Coleridge's characteristic advantage, that he was a great
natural power, and also a great artist. He was a power in the art, and
he carried a new art into the power.

But now, finally--having left ourselves little room for more--one or
two words on Coleridge as an opium-eater.

We have not often read a sentence falling from a wise man with
astonishment so profound, as that particular one in a letter of
Coleridge's to Mr. Gillman, which speaks of the effort to wean one's-
self from opium as a trivial task. There are, we believe, several such
passages. But we refer to that one in particular which assumes that a
single 'week' will suffice for the whole process of so mighty a
revolution. Is indeed leviathan _so_ tamed? In that case the
quarantine of the opium-eater might be finished within Coleridge's
time, and with Coleridge's romantic ease. But mark the contradictions
of this extraordinary man. Not long ago we were domesticated with a
venerable rustic, strong-headed, but incurably obstinate in his
prejudices, who treated the whole body of medical men as ignorant
pretenders, knowing absolutely nothing of the system which they
professed to superintend. This, you will remark, is no very singular
case. No; nor, as we believe, is the antagonist case of ascribing to
such men magical powers. Nor, what is worse still, the co-existence of
both cases in the same mind, as in fact happened here. For this same
obstinate friend of ours, who treated all medical pretensions as the
mere jest of the universe, every 'third day was exacting from his own
medical attendants some exquisite _tour-de-force_, as that they
should know or should do something, which, if they _had_ known or
done, all men would have suspected them reasonably of magic. He rated
the whole medical body as infants; and yet what he exacted from them
every third day as a matter of course, virtually presumed them to be
the only giants within the whole range of science. Parallel and equal
is the contradiction of Coleridge. He speaks of opium excess, his own
excess, we mean--the excess of twenty-five years--as a thing to be laid
aside easily and for ever within seven days; and yet, on the other
hand, he describes it pathetically, sometimes with a frantic pathos, as
the scourge, the curse, the one almighty blight which had desolated his

This shocking contradiction we need not press. All readers will see
_that_. But some will ask--Was Mr. Coleridge right in either view?
Being so atrociously wrong in the first notion, (viz., that the opium
of twenty-five years was a thing easily to be forsworn,) where a child
could know that he was wrong, was he even altogether right, secondly,
in believing that his own life, root and branch, had been withered by
opium? For it will not follow, because, with a relation to happiness
and tranquillity, a man may have found opium his curse, that therefore,
as a creature of energies and great purposes, he must have been the
wreck which he seems to suppose. Opium gives and takes away. It defeats
the _steady_ habit of exertion, but it creates spasms of irregular
exertion; it ruins the natural power of life, but it develops
preternatural paroxysms of intermitting power. Let us ask of any man
who holds that not Coleridge himself but the world, as interested in
Coleridge's usefulness, has suffered by his addiction to opium; whether
he is aware of the way in which opium affected Coleridge; and secondly,
whether he is aware of the actual contributions to literature--how
large they were--which Coleridge made _in spite_ of opium. All who
were intimate with Coleridge must remember the fits of genial animation
which were created continually in his manner and in his buoyancy of
thought by a recent or by an _extra_ dose of the omnipotent drug.
A lady, who knew nothing experimentally of opium, once told us, that
she 'could tell when Mr. Coleridge had taken too much opium by his
shining countenance.' She was right; we know that mark of opium
excesses well, and the cause of it; or at least we believe the cause to
lie in the quickening of the insensible perspiration which accumulates
and glistens on the face. Be that as it may, a criterion it was that
could not deceive us as to the condition of Coleridge. And uniformly in
that condition he made his most effective intellectual displays. It is
true that he might not be happy under this fiery animation, and we
fully believe that he was not. Nobody is happy under laudanum except
for a very short term of years. But in what way did that operate upon
his exertions as a writer? We are of opinion that it killed Coleridge
as a poet. 'The harp of Quantock' was silenced for ever by the torment
of opium. But proportionably it roused and stung by misery his
metaphysical instincts into more spasmodic life. Poetry can flourish
only in the atmosphere of happiness. But subtle and perplexed
investigations of difficult problems are amongst the commonest
resources for beguiling the sense of misery. And for this we have the
direct authority of Coleridge himself speculating on his own case. In
the beautiful though unequal ode entitled _Dejection_, stanza six,
occurs the following passage:

  'For not to think of what I needs must feel,
  But to be still and patient all I can;
  _And haply by abstruse research to steal
  From my own nature all the natural man_--
  This was my sole resource, my only plan;
  Till that, which suits a part, infects the whole,
  And now is almost grown the habit of my soul.'

Considering the exquisite quality of some poems which Coleridge has
composed, nobody can grieve (or _has_ grieved) more than ourselves, at
seeing so beautiful a fountain choked up with weeds. But had Coleridge
been a happier man, it is our fixed belief that we should have had far
less of his philosophy, and perhaps, but not certainly, might have had
more of his general literature. In the estimate of the public,
doubtless, _that_ will seem a bad exchange. Every man to his taste.
Meantime, what we wish to show is, that the loss was not absolute, but
 merely relative.

It is urged, however, that, even on his philosophic speculations, opium
operated unfavorably in one respect, by often causing him to leave them
unfinished. This is true. Whenever Coleridge (being highly charged, or
saturated, with opium) had written with distempered vigor upon any
question, there occurred soon after a recoil of intense disgust, not
from his own paper only, but even from the subject. All opium-eaters
are tainted with the infirmity of leaving works unfinished, and
suffering reactions of disgust. But Coleridge taxed himself with that
infirmity in verse before he could at all have commenced opium-eating.
Besides, it is too much assumed by Coleridge and by his biographer,
that to leave off opium was of course to regain juvenile health. But
all opium-eaters make the mistake of supposing every pain or irritation
which they suffer to be the product of opium. Whereas a wise man will
say, suppose you _do_ leave off opium, that will not deliver you
from the load of years (say sixty-three) which you carry on your back.
Charles Lamb, another man of true genius, and another head belonging to
the Blackwood Gallery, made that mistake in his _Confessions of a
Drunkard_. 'I looked back,' says he, 'to the time when always, on
waking in the morning, I had a song rising to my lips.' At present, it
seems, being a drunkard, he has no such song. Ay, dear Lamb, but note
this, that the drunkard was fifty-six years old, the songster was
twenty-three. Take twenty-three from fifty-six, and we have some reason
to believe that thirty-three will remain; which period of thirty-three
years is a pretty good reason for not singing in the morning, even if
brandy has been out of the question.

It is singular, as respects Coleridge, that Mr. Gillman never says one
word upon the event of the great Highgate experiment for leaving off
laudanum, though Coleridge came to Mr. Gillman's for no other purpose;
and in a week, this vast creation of new earth, sea, and all that in
them is, was to have been accomplished. We _rayther_ think, as
Bayley junior observes, that the explosion must have hung fire. But
_that_ is a trifle. We have another pleasing hypothesis on the
subject. Mr. Wordsworth, in his exquisite lines written on a fly-leaf
of his own _Castle of Indolence_, having described Coleridge as 'a
noticeable man with large grey eyes,' goes on to say, 'He' (viz.,
Coleridge) 'did that other man entice' to view his imagery. Now we are
sadly afraid that 'the noticeable man with large grey eyes' did entice
'that other man,' viz., Gillman, to commence opium-eating. This is
droll; and it makes us laugh horribly. Gillman should have reformed
_him_; and lo! _he_ corrupts Gillman. S. T. Coleridge visited
Highgate by way of being converted from the heresy of opium; and the
issue is--that, in two months' time, various grave men, amongst whom
our friend Gillman marches first in great pomp, are found to have faces
shining and glorious as that of AEsculapius; a fact of which we have
already explained the secret meaning. And scandal says (but then what
will not scandal say?) that a hogshead of opium goes up daily through
Highgate tunnel. Surely one corroboration of our hypothesis may be
found in the fact, that Vol. I. of Gillman's Coleridge is for ever to
stand unpropped by Vol. II. For we have already observed, that opium-
eaters, though good fellows upon the whole, never finish anything.

What then? A man has a right never to finish anything. Certainly he
has; and by Magna Charta. But he has no right, by Magna Charta or by
Parva Charta, to slander decent men, like ourselves and our friend the
author of the _Opium Confessions_. Here it is that our complaint
arises against Mr. Gillman. If he has taken to opium-eating, can we
help _that_? If _his_ face shines, must our faces be blackened? He has
very improperly published some intemperate passages from Coleridge's
letters, which ought to have been considered confidential, unless
Coleridge had left them for publication, charging upon the author of
the _Opium Confessions_ a reckless disregard of the temptations which,
in that work, he was scattering abroad amongst men. Now this author is
connected with ourselves, and we cannot neglect his defence, unless in
the case that he undertakes it himself.

We complain, also, that Coleridge raises (and is backed by Mr. Gillman
in raising) a distinction perfectly perplexing to us, between himself
and the author of the _Opium Confessions_ upon the question--Why
they severally began the practice of opium-eating? In himself, it
seems, this motive was to relieve pain, whereas the Confessor was
surreptitiously seeking for pleasure. Ay, indeed--where did he learn
_that_? We have no copy of the _Confessions_ here, so we cannot quote
chapter and verse; but we distinctly remember, that toothache is
recorded in that book as the particular occasion which first introduced
the author to the knowledge of opium. Whether afterwards, having been
thus initiated by the demon of pain, the opium confessor did not apply
powers thus discovered to purposes of mere pleasure, is a question for
himself; and the same question applies with the same cogency to
Coleridge. Coleridge began in rheumatic pains. What then? This is no
proof that he did not end in voluptuousness. For our parts, we are slow
to believe that ever any man did, or could, learn the somewhat awful
truth, that in a certain ruby-colored elixir, there lurked a divine
power to chase away the genius of ennui, without subsequently abusing
this power. To taste but once from the tree of knowledge, is fatal to
the subsequent power of abstinence. True it is, that generations have
used laudanum as an anodyne, (for instance, hospital patients,) who
have not afterwards courted its powers as a voluptuous stimulant; but
that, be sure, has arisen from no abstinence in _them_. There are, in
fact, two classes of temperaments as to this terrific drug--those which
are, and those which are not, preconformed to its power; those which
genially expand to its temptations, and those which frostily exclude
them. Not in the energies of the will, but in the qualities of the
nervous organization, lies the dread arbitration of--Fall or stand:
doomed thou art to yield; or, strengthened constitutionally, to resist.
Most of those who have but a low sense of the spells lying couchant in
opium, have practically none at all. For the initial fascination is for
_them_ effectually defeated by the sickness which nature has associated
with the first stages of opium-eating. But to that other class, whose
nervous sensibilities vibrate to their profoundest depths under the
first touch of the angelic poison, even as a lover's ear thrills on
hearing unexpectedly the voice of her whom he loves, opium is the
Amreeta cup of beatitude. You know the _Paradise Lost_? and you
remember, from the eleventh book, in its earlier part, that laudanum
already existed in Eden--nay, that it was used medicinally by an
archangel; for, after Michael had 'purged with euphrasy and rue' the
eyes of Adam, lest he should be unequal to the mere _sight_ of the
great visions about to unfold their draperies before him, next he
fortifies his fleshly spirits against the _affliction_ of these
visions, of which visions the first was death. And how?

  'He from the well of life three drops instill'd.'

What was their operation?

  'So deep the power of these ingredients pierced,
  _Even to the inmost seat of mental sight_,
  That Adam, now enforced to close his eyes,
  Sank down, and all his spirits became entranced.
  But him the gentle angel by the hand
  Soon raised'----

The second of these lines it is which betrays the presence of laudanum.
It is in the faculty of mental vision, it is in the increased power of
dealing with the shadowy and the dark, that the characteristic virtue
of opium lies. Now, in the original higher sensibility is found some
palliation for the _practice_ of opium-eating; in the greater
temptation is a greater excuse. And in this faculty of self-revelation
is found some palliation for _reporting_ the case to the world,
which both Coleridge and his biographer have overlooked.


The most remarkable instance of a combined movement in society, which
history, perhaps, will be summoned to notice, is that which, in our own
days, has applied itself to the abatement of intemperance. Naturally,
or by any _direct_ process, the machinery set in motion would seem
irrelevant to the object: if one hundred men unite to elevate the
standard of temperance, they can do this with effect only by
improvements in their own separate cases: each individual, for such an
effort of self-conquest, can draw upon no resources but his own. One
member in a combination of one hundred, when running a race, can hope
for no cooperation from his ninety-nine associates. And yet, by a
secondary action, such combinations are found eminently successful.
Having obtained from every confederate a pledge, in some shape or
other, that he will give them his support, thenceforwards they bring
the passions of shame and self-esteem to bear upon each member's
personal perseverance. Not only they keep alive and continually refresh
in his thoughts the general purpose, which else might fade; but they
also point the action of public contempt and of self-contempt at any
defaulter much more potently, and with more acknowledged right to do
so, when they use this influence under a license, volunteered, and
signed, and sealed, by the man's own hand. They first conciliate his
countenance through his intellectual perceptions of what is right; and
next they sustain it through his conscience, (the strongest of his
internal forces,) and even through the weakest of his human
sensibilities. That revolution, therefore, which no combination of men
can further by abating the original impulse of temptations, they often
accomplish happily by maturing the secondary energies of resistance.

Already in their earliest stage, these temperance movements had
obtained, both at home and abroad, a _national_ range of grandeur.
More than ten years ago, when M. de Tocqueville was resident in the
United States, the principal American society counted two hundred and
seventy thousand members: and in one single state (Pennsylvania) the
annual diminution in the use of spirits had very soon reached half a
million of gallons. Now a machinery must be so far good which
accomplishes its end: the means are meritorious for so much as they
effect. Even to strengthen a feeble resolution by the aid of other
infirmities, such as shame or the very servility and cowardice of
deference to public opinion, becomes prudent and laudable in the
service of so great a cause. Nay, sometimes to make public profession
of self-distrust by assuming the coercion of public pledges, may become
an expression of frank courage, or even of noble principle, not fearing
the shame of confession when it can aid the powers of victorious
resistance. Yet still, so far as it is possible, every man sighs for a
still higher victory over himself: a victory not tainted by bribes, and
won from no impulses but those inspired by his own higher nature, and
his own mysterious force of will; powers that in no man were fully

This being so, it is well that from time to time every man should throw
out any hints that have occurred to his experience,--suggesting such as
may be new, renewing such as may be old, towards the encouragement or
the information of persons engaged in so great a struggle. My own
experience had never travelled in that course which could much instruct
me in the miseries from wine, or in the resources for struggling with
it. I had repeatedly been obliged indeed to lay it aside altogether;
but in this I never found room for more than seven or ten days'
struggle: excesses I had never practised in the use of wine; simply the
habit of using it, and the collateral habits formed by excessive use of
opium, had produced any difficulty at all in resigning it even on an
hour's notice. From opium I derive my right of offering hints at all
upon the subjects of abstinence in other forms. But the modes of
suffering from the evil, and the separate modes of suffering from the
effort of self-conquest, together with errors of judgment incident to
such states of transitional torment, are all nearly allied, practically
analogous as regards the remedies, even if characteristically
distinguished to the inner consciousness. I make no scruple, therefore,
of speaking as from a station of high experience and of most watchful
attention, which never remitted even under sufferings that were at
times absolutely frantic.

I. The first hint is one that has been often offered; viz., the
diminution of the particular liquor used, by the introduction into each
glass of some inert substance, ascertained in bulk, and equally
increasing in amount from day to day. But this plan has often been
intercepted by an accident: shot, or sometimes bullets, were the
substances nearest at hand; an objection arose from too scrupulous a
caution of chemistry as to the action upon lead of the vinous acid. Yet
all objection of this kind might be removed at once, by using beads in
a case where small decrements were wanted, and marbles, if it were
thought advisable to use larger. Once for all, however, in cases deeply
rooted, no advances ought ever to be made but by small stages: for the
effect, which is insensible at first, by the tenth, twelfth, or
fifteenth day, generally accumulates unendurably under any bolder
deductions. I must not stop to illustrate this point; but certain it
is, that by an error of this nature at the outset, most natural to
human impatience under exquisite suffering, too generally the trial is
abruptly brought to an end through the crisis of a passionate relapse.

II. Another object, and one to which the gladiator matched in single
duel with intemperance, must direct a religious vigilance, is the
_digestibility_ of his food: it must be digestible not only by its
original qualities, but also by its culinary preparation. In this last
point we are all of us Manichæans: all of us yield a cordial assent to
that Manichæan proverb, which refers the meats and the cooks of this
world to two opposite fountains of light and of darkness. Oromasdes it
is, or the good principle, that sends the food; Ahrimanes, or the evil
principle, that everywhere sends the cooks. Man has been repeatedly
described or even defined, as by differential privilege of his nature,
'A cooking animal.' Brutes, it is said, have faces,--man only has a
countenance; brutes are as well able to eat as man,--man only is able
to cook what he eats. Such are the romances of self-flattery. I, on the
contrary, maintain, that six thousand years have not availed, in this
point, to raise our race generally to the level of ingenious savages.
The natives of the Society and the Friendly Isles, or of New Zealand,
and other favored spots, had, and still have, an _art_ of cookery,
though very limited in its range: the French [Footnote: But judge not,
reader, of French skill by the attempts of fourth-rate artists; and
understand me to speak with respect of this skill, not as it is the
tool of luxury, but as it is the handmaid of health.] have an art, and
more extensive; but we English are about upon a level (as regards this
science) with the ape, to whom an instinct whispers that chestnuts may
be roasted; or with the aboriginal Chinese of Charles Lamb's story, to
whom the experience of many centuries had revealed thus much, viz.,
that a dish very much beyond the raw flesh of their ancestors, might be
had by burning down the family mansion, and thus roasting the pig-stye.
Rudest of barbarous devices is English cookery, and not much in advance
of this primitive Chinese step; a fact which it would not be worth
while to lament, were it not for the sake of the poor trembling
deserter from the banners of intoxication, who is thus, and by no other
cause, so often thrown back beneath the yoke which he had abjured. Past
counting are the victims of alcohol, that, having by vast efforts
emancipated themselves for a season, are violently forced into
relapsing by the nervous irritations of demoniac cookery. Unhappily for
_them_, the horrors of indigestion are relieved for the moment,
however ultimately strengthened, by strong liquors; the relief is
immediate, and cannot fail to be perceived; but the aggravation, being
removed to a distance, is not always referred to its proper cause. This
is the capital rock and stumbling-block in the path of him who is
hurrying back to the camps of temperance; and many a reader is likely
to misapprehend the case through the habit he has acquired of supposing
indigestion to lurk chiefly amongst _luxurious_ dishes. But, on
the contrary, it is amongst the plainest, simplest, and commonest
dishes that such misery lurks, in England. Let us glance at three
articles of diet, beyond all comparison of most ordinary occurrence,
viz., potatoes, bread, and butcher's meat. The art of preparing
potatoes for _human_ use is utterly unknown, except in certain
provinces of our empire, and amongst certain sections of the laboring
class. In our great cities,--London, Edinburgh, &c.--the sort of things
which you see offered at table under the name and reputation of
potatoes, are such that, if you could suppose the company to be
composed of Centaurs and Lapithæ, or any other quarrelsome people, it
would become necessary for the police to interfere. The potato of
cities is a very dangerous missile; and, if thrown with an accurate aim
by an angry hand, will fracture any known skull. In volume and
consistency, it is very like a paving-stone; only that, I should say,
the paving-stone had the advantage in point of tenderness. And upon
this horrid basis, which youthful ostriches would repent of swallowing,
the trembling, palpitating invalid, fresh from the scourging of
alcohol, is requested to build the superstructure of his dinner. The
proverb says, that three flittings are as bad as a fire; and on that
model I conceive that three potatoes, as they are found at many British
dinner-tables, would be equal, in principle of ruin, to two glasses of
vitriol. The same savage ignorance appears, and only not so often, in
the bread of this island. Myriads of families eat it in that early
stage of sponge which bread assumes during the process of baking; but
less than sixty hours will not fit this dangerous article of human diet
to be eaten. And those who are acquainted with the works of Parmentier,
or other learned investigators of bread and of the baker's art, must be
aware that this quality of sponginess (though quite equal to the ruin
of the digestive organs) is but one in a legion of vices to which the
article is liable. A German of much research wrote a book on the
conceivable faults in a pair of shoes, which he found to be about six
hundred and sixty-six, many of them, as he observed, requiring a very
delicate process of study to find out; whereas the possible faults in
bread, which are not less in number, require no study at all for the
defection; they publish themselves through all varieties of misery. But
the perfection of barbarism, as regards our island cookery, is reserved
for animal food; and the two poles of Oromasdes and Ahrimanes are
nowhere so conspicuously exhibited. Our insular sheep, for instance,
are so far superior to any which the continent produces, that the
present Prussian minister at our court is in the habit of questioning a
man's right to talk of mutton as anything beyond a great idea, unless
he can prove a residence in Great Britain. One sole case he cites of a
dinner on the Elbe, when a particular leg of mutton really struck him
as rivalling any which he had known in England. The mystery seemed
inexplicable; but, upon inquiry, it turned out to be an importation
from Leith. Yet this incomparable article, to produce which the skill
of the feeder must co-operate with the peculiar bounty of nature, calls
forth the most dangerous refinements of barbarism in its cookery. A
Frenchman requires, as the primary qualification of flesh meat, that it
should be tender. We English universally, but especially the Scots,
treat that quality with indifference, or with bare toleration. What we
require is, that it should be fresh, that is, recently killed, (in
which state it cannot be digestible except by a crocodile;) and we
present it at table in a transition state of leather, demanding the
teeth of a tiger to rend it in pieces, and the stomach of a tiger to
digest it.

With these habits amongst our countrymen, exemplified daily in the
articles of widest use, it is evident that the sufferer from
intemperance has a harder quarantine, in this island, to support during
the effort of restoration, than he could have anywhere else in
Christendom. In Persia, and, perhaps, there only on this terraqueous
planet, matters might be even worse: for, whilst we English neglect the
machinery of digestion, as a matter entitled to little consideration,
the people of Teheran seem unaware that there _is_ any such
machinery. So, at least, one might presume, from cases on record, and
especially from the reckless folly, under severe illness, from
indigestion, of the three Persian princes, who visited this country, as
stated by their official _mehmander_, Mr. Fraser. With us, the
excess of ignorance, upon this subject, betrays itself oftenest in that
vain-glorious answer made by the people, who at any time are admonished
of the sufferings which they are preparing for themselves by these
outrages upon the most delicate of human organs. They, for _their_
parts, 'know not if they _have_ a stomach; they know not what it
is that dyspepsy means;' forgetting that, in thus vaunting their
_strength_ of stomach, they are, at the same time, proclaiming its
coarseness; and showing themselves unaware that precisely those, whom
such coarseness of organization reprieves from immediate and seasonable
reaction of suffering, are the favorite subjects of that heavier
reaction which takes the shape of _delirium tremens_, of palsy,
and of lunacy. It is but a fanciful advantage which _they_ enjoy,
for whom the immediate impunity avails only to hide the final horrors
which are gathering upon them from the gloomy rear. Better, by far,
that more of immediate discomfort had guaranteed to them less of
reversionary anguish. It may be safely asserted, that few, indeed, are
the suicides amongst us to which the miseries of indigestion have not
been a large concurring cause; and even where nothing so dreadful as
_that_ occurs, always these miseries are the chief hinderance of
the self-reforming drunkard, and the commonest cause of his relapse. It
is certain, also, that misanthropic gloom and bad temper besiege that
class, by preference, to whom peculiar coarseness or obtuse sensibility
of organization has denied the salutary warnings and early prelibations
of punishment which, happily for most men, besiege the more direct and
obvious frailties of the digestive apparatus.

The whole process and elaborate machinery of digestion are felt to be
mean and humiliating when viewed in relation to our mere animal
economy. But they rise into dignity, and assert their own supreme
importance, when they arc studied from another station, viz., in
relation to the intellect and temper; no man dares, _then_, to
despise them: it is then seen that these functions of the human system
form the essential basis upon which the strength and health of our
higher nature repose; and that upon these functions, chiefly, the
general happiness of life is dependent. All the rules of prudence, or
gifts of experience that life can accumulate, will never do as much for
human comfort and welfare as would be done by a stricter attention, and
a wiser science, directed to the digestive system; in this attention
lies the key to any perfect restoration for the victim of intemperance:
and, considering the peculiar hostility to the digestive health which
exists in the dietetic habits of our own country, it may be feared that
nowhere upon earth has the reclaimed martyr to intemperance so
difficult a combat to sustain; nowhere, therefore, is it so important
to direct the attention upon an _artificial_ culture of those
resources which naturally, and by the established habits of the land,
are surest to be neglected. The sheet anchor for the storm-beaten
sufferer, who is laboring to recover a haven of rest from the agonies
of intemperance, and who has had the fortitude to abjure the poison
which ruined, but which also, for brief intervals, offered him his only
consolation, lies, beyond all doubt, in a most anxious regard to
everything connected with this supreme function of our animal economy.
And, as few men that are not regularly trained to medical studies can
have the complex knowledge requisite for such a duty, some printed
guide should be sought of a regular professional order. Twenty years
ago, Dr. Wilson Philip published a valuable book of this class, which
united a wide range of practical directions as to the choice of diet,
and as to the qualities and tendencies of all esculent articles likely
to be found at British tables, with some ingenious speculations upon
the still mysterious theory of digestion. These were derived from
experiments made upon rabbits, and had originally been communicated by
him to the Royal Society of London, who judged them worthy of
publication in their Transactions. I notice them chiefly for the sake
of remarking, that the rationale of digestion, as here suggested,
explains the reason of a fact, which merely _as_ a fact, had not
been known until modern times, viz., the injuriousness to enfeebled
stomachs of all fluid. Fifty years ago--and still lingering
inveterately amongst nurses, and other ignorant persons--there
prevailed a notion that 'slops' must be the proper resource of the
valetudinarian; and the same erroneous notion appears in the common
expression of ignorant wonder at the sort of breakfasts usual amongst
women of rank in the times of Queen Elizabeth. 'What robust stomachs
they must have had, to support such solid meals!' As to the question of
fact, whether the stomachs were more or less robust in those days than
at the present, there is no need to offer an opinion. But the question
of principle concerned in scientific dietetics points in the very
opposite direction. By how much the organs of digestion are feebler, by
so much is it the more indispensable that solid food and animal food
should be adopted. A robust stomach may be equal to the trying task of
supporting a fluid, such as tea for breakfast; but for a feeble
stomach, and still more for a stomach _enfeebled_ by bad habits,
broiled beef, or something equally solid and animal, but not too much
subjected to the action of fire, is the only tolerable diet. This,
indeed, is the one capital rule for a sufferer from habitual
intoxication, who must inevitably labor under an impaired digestion;
that as little as possible he should use of any liquid diet, and as
little as possible of vegetable diet. Beef, and a little bread, (at the
least sixty hours old,) compose the privileged bill of fare for his
breakfast. But precisely it is, by the way, in relation to this
earliest meal, that human folly has in one or two instances shown
itself most ruinously inventive. The less variety there is at that
meal, the more is the danger from any single luxury; and there is one,
known by the name of 'muffins,' which has repeatedly manifested itself
to be a plain and direct bounty upon suicide. Darwin, in his
'Zoonomia,' reports a case where an officer, holding the rank of
lieutenant-colonel, could not tolerate a breakfast in which this odious
article was wanting; but, as a savage retribution invariably supervened
within an hour or two upon this act of insane sensuality, he came to a
resolution that life was intolerable _with_ muffins, but still
more intolerable _without_ muffins. He would stand the nuisance no
longer; but yet, being a just man, he would give nature one final
chance of reforming her dyspeptic atrocities. Muffins, therefore, being
laid at one angle of the breakfast-table, and loaded pistols at
another, with rigid equity the Colonel awaited the result. This was
naturally pretty much as usual: and then, the poor man, incapable of
retreating from his word of honor, committed suicide,--having
previously left a line for posterity to the effect (though I forget the
expression), 'That a muffinless world was no world for him: better no
life at all than a life dismantled of muffins.'--Dr. Darwin was a showy
philosopher, and fond of producing effect, so that some allowance must
be made in construing the affair. Strictly speaking, it is probable
that not the especial want of muffins, but the general torment of
indigestion, was the curse from which the unhappy sufferer sought
relief by suicide. And the Colonel was not the first by many a million,
that has fled from the very same form of wretchedness, or from its
effects upon the genial spirits, to the same gloomy refuge. It should
never be forgotten that, although some other more overt vexation is
generally assigned as the proximate cause of suicide, and often may be
so as regards the immediate occasion, too generally this vexation
borrowed its whole power to annoy, from the habitual atmosphere of
irritation in which the system had been kept by indigestion. So that
indirectly, and virtually, perhaps, all suicides may be traced to
mismanaged digestion. Meantime, in alluding at all to so dreadful a
subject as suicide, I do so only by way of giving deeper effect to the
opinion expressed above, upon the chief cause of relapse into habits of
intemperance amongst those who have once accomplished their
deliverance. Errors of digestion, either from impaired powers, or from
powers not so much enfeebled as deranged, is the one immeasurable
source both of disease and of secret wretchedness to the human race.
Life is laid waste by the eternal fretting of the vital forces,
emanating from this one cause. And it may well be conceived, that if
cases so endless, even of suicide, in every generation, are virtually
traceable to this main root, much more must it be able to shake and
undermine the yet palpitating frame of the poor fugitive from
intemperance; since indigestion in every mode and variety of its
changes irresistibly upholds the temptation to that form of excitement
which, though one foremost cause of indigestion, is yet unhappily its
sole immediate palliation.

III. Next, after the most vigorous attention, and a scientific
attention to the digestive system, in power of operation, stands
_exercise_. Here, however, most people have their own separate
habits, with respect to the time of exercise, the duration, and the
particular mode, on which a stranger cannot venture to intrude with his
advice. Some will not endure the steady patience required for walking
exercise; many benefit most by riding on horseback; and in days when
roads were more rugged, and the springs of carriages less improved, I
have known people who found most advantage in the vibrations
communicated to the frame by a heavy rumbling carriage. For myself,
under the ravages of opium, I have found walking the most beneficial
exercise; besides that, it requires no previous notice or preparation
of any kind; and this is a capital advantage in a state of drooping
energies, or of impatient and unresting agitation. I may mention, as
possibly an accident of my individual temperament, but possibly, also,
no accident at all, that the relief obtained by walking was always most
sensibly brought home to my consciousness, when some part of it (at
least a mile and a half) has been performed before breakfast. In this
there soon ceased to be any difficulty; for, whilst under the full
oppression of opium, it was impossible for me to rise at any hour that
could, by the most indulgent courtesy, be described as within the pale
of morning, no sooner had there been established any considerable
relief from this oppression, than the tendency was in the opposite
direction; the difficulty became continually greater of sleeping even
to a reasonable hour. Having once accomplished the feat of walking at
nine A. M., I backed, in a space of seven or eight months, to eight
o'clock, to seven, to six, five, four, three; until at this point a
metaphysical fear fell upon me that I was actually backing into
'yesterday,' and should soon have no sleep at all. Below three,
however, I did not descend; and, for a couple of years, three and a
half hours' sleep was all that I could obtain in the twenty-four hours.
From this no particular suffering arose, except the nervous impatience
of lying in bed for one moment after awaking. Consequently, the habit
of walking before breakfast became at length troublesome no longer as a
most odious duty, but, on the contrary, as a temptation that could
hardly be resisted on the wettest mornings. As to the quantity of the
exercise, I found that six miles a day formed the _minimum_ which
would support permanently a particular standard of animal spirits,
evidenced to myself by certain apparent symptoms. I averaged about nine
and a half miles a day; but ascended on particular days to fifteen or
sixteen, and more rarely to twenty-three or twenty-four; a quantity
which did not produce fatigue, on the contrary it spread a sense of
improvement through almost the whole week that followed; but usually,
in the night immediately succeeding to such an exertion, I lost much of
my sleep; a privation that, under the circumstances explained, deterred
me from trying the experiment too often. For one or two years, I
accomplished more than I have here claimed, viz., from six to seven
thousand miles in the twelve months. Let me add to this slight abstract
of my own experience, in a point where it is really difficult to offer
any useful advice, (the tastes and habits of men varying so much in
this chapter of exercise,) that one caution seems applicable to the
case of all persons suffering from nervous irritability, viz., that a
secluded space should be measured off accurately, in some private
grounds not liable to the interruption or notice of chance intruders;
for these annoyances are unendurable to the restless invalid; to be
questioned upon trivial things is death to him; and the perpetual
anticipation of such annoyances is little less distressing. Some plan
must also be adopted for registering the number of rounds performed. I
once walked for eighteen months in a circuit so confined that forty
revolutions were needed to complete a mile. These I counted, at one
time, by a rosary of beads; every tenth round being marked by drawing a
blue bead, the other nine by drawing white beads. But this plan, I
found in practice, more troublesome and inaccurate than that of using
ten detached counters, stones, or anything else that was large enough
and solid. These were applied to the separate bars of a garden chair;
the first bar indicating of itself the first decade, the second bar the
second decade, and so on. In fact, I used the chair in some measure as
a Roman abacus, but on a still simpler plan; and as the chair offered
sixteen bars, it followed, that on covering the last bar of the series
with the ten markers, I perceived without any trouble of calculation
the accomplishment of my fourth mile.

A necessity, more painful to me by far than that of taking continued
exercise, arose out of a cause which applies, perhaps, with the same
intensity only to opium cases, but must also apply in some degree to
all cases of debilitation from morbid stimulation of the nerves,
whether by means of wine, or opium, or distilled liquors. In travelling
on the outside of mails, during my youthful days, for I could not
endure the inside, occasionally, during the night-time, I suffered
naturally from cold: no cloaks, &c. were always sufficient to relieve
this; and I then made the discovery that opium, after an hour or so,
diffuses a warmth deeper and far more permanent than could be had from
any other known source. I mention this, to explain, in some measure,
the awful passion of cold which for some years haunted the inverse
process of laying aside the opium. It was a perfect frenzy of misery;
cold was a sensation which then first, as a mode of torment, seemed to
have been revealed. In the months of July and August, and not at all
the less during the very middle watch of the day, I sate in the closest
proximity to a blazing fire; cloaks, blankets, counterpanes,
hearthrugs, horse-cloths, were piled upon my shoulders, but with hardly
a glimmering of relief. At night, and after taking coffee, I felt a
little warmer, and could sometimes afford to smile at the resemblance
of my own case to that of Harry Gill. [Footnote: 'Harry Gill:'--Many
readers, in this generation, may not be aware of this ballad as one
amongst the early poems of Wordsworth. Thirty or forty years ago, it
was the object of some insipid ridicule, which ought, perhaps, in
another place, to be noticed. And, doubtless, this ridicule was
heightened by the false impression that the story had been some old
woman's superstitious fiction, meant to illustrate a supernatural
judgment on hard-heartedness. But the story was a physiologic fact;
and, originally, it had been brought forward in a philosophic work, by
Darwin, who had the reputation of an irreligious man, and even of an
infidel. A bold freethinker he certainly was: a Deist, and, by public
repute, something more.] But, secretly, I was struck with awe at the
revelation of powers so unsearchably new, lurking within old affections
so familiarly known as cold. Upon the analogy of this case, it might be
thought that nothing whatever had yet been truly and seriously felt by
man; nothing searched or probed by human sensibilities, to a depth
below the surface. If cold could give out mysteries of suffering so
novel, all things in the world might be yet unvisited by the truth of
human sensations. All experience, worthy of the name, was yet to begin.
Meantime, the external phenomenon, by which the cold expressed itself,
was a sense (but with little reality) of eternal freezing perspiration.
From this I was never free; and at length, from finding one general
ablution sufficient for one day, I was thrown upon the irritating
necessity of repeating it more frequently than would seem credible, if
stated. At this time, I used always hot water; and a thought occurred
to me very seriously that it would be best to live constantly, and,
perhaps, to sleep in a bath. What caused me to renounce this plan, was
an accident that compelled me for one day to use cold water. This,
first of all, communicated any lasting warmth; so that ever afterwards
I used none _but_ cold water. Now, to live in a _cold_ bath,
in our climate, and in my own state of preternatural sensibility to
cold, was not an idea to dally with. I wish to mention, however, for
the information of other sufferers in the same way, one change in the
mode of applying the water, which led to a considerable and a sudden
improvement in the condition of my feelings. I had endeavored to
procure a child's battledore, as an easy means (when clothed with
sponge) of reaching the interspace between the shoulders; which
interspace, by the way, is a sort of Bokhara, so provokingly situated,
that it will neither suffer itself to be reached from the north, in
which direction even the Czar, with his long arms, has only singed his
own fingers, and lost six thousand camels; nor at all better from the
south, upon which line of approach the greatest potentate in Southern
Asia, viz., No.--, in Leadenhall Street, has found it the best policy
to pocket the little Khan's murderous defiances and persevering
insults. There is no battledore long enough to reach him in either way.
In my own difficulty, I felt almost as perplexed as the Honorable East
India Company, when I found that no battledore was to be had; for no
town was near at hand. In default of a battledore, therefore, my
necessity threw my experiment upon a long hair-brush; and this,
eventually, proved of much greater service than any sponge or any
battledore; for, the friction of the brush caused an irritation on the
surface of the skin, which, more than anything else, has gradually
diminished the once continual misery of unrelenting frost; although
even yet it renews itself most distressingly at uncertain intervals.

IV. I counsel the patient not to make the mistake of supposing that his
amendment will necessarily proceed continuously, or by equal
increments; because this, which is a common notion, will certainly lead
to dangerous disappointments. How frequently I have heard people
encouraging a self-reformer by such language as this:--'When you have
got over the fourth day of abstinence, which suppose to be Sunday, then
Monday will find you a trifle better; Tuesday better still,--though
still it should be only by a trifle; and so on. You may, at least, rely
on never going back; you may assure yourself of having seen the worst;
and the positive improvements, if trifles separately, must soon gather
into a sensible magnitude.' This may be true in a case of short
standing: but, as a general rule, it is perilously delusive. On the
contrary, the line of progress, if exhibited in a geometrical
construction, would describe an ascending path upon the whole, but with
frequent retrocessions into descending curves, which, compared with the
point of ascent that had been previously gained and so vexatiously
interrupted, would sometimes seem deeper than the original point of
starting. This mortifying tendency I can report from experience many
times repeated with regard to opium; and so unaccountably, as regarded
all the previous grounds of expectation, that I am compelled to suppose
it a tendency inherent in the very nature of all self-restorations for
animal systems. They move perhaps necessarily _per saltum_, by,
intermitting spasms, and pulsations of unequal energy.

V. I counsel the patient frequently to call back before his thoughts--
when suffering sorrowful collapses, that seem unmerited by anything
done or neglected--that such, and far worse, perhaps, must have been
his experience, and with no reversion of hope behind, had he persisted
in his intemperate indulgencies; _these_ also suffer their own
collapses, and (so far as things not co-present can be compared) by
many degrees more shocking to the genial instincts.

VI. I exhort him to believe, that no movement on his own part, not the
smallest conceivable, towards the restoration of his healthy state, can
by possibility perish. Nothing in this direction is finally lost; but
often it disappears and hides itself; suddenly, however, to reappear,
and in unexpected strength, and much more hopefully; because such
minute elements of improvement, by reappearing at a remoter stage, show
themselves to have combined with other elements of the same kind: so
that equally by their gathering tendency and their duration through
intervals of apparent darkness, and below the current of what seemed
absolute interruption, they argue themselves to be settled in the
system. There is no good gift that does not come from God: almost his
greatest is health, with the peace which it inherits; and man must reap
_this_ on the same terms as he was told to reap God's earliest
gift, the fruits of the earth, viz.: 'in the sweat of his brow,'
through labor, often through sorrow, through disappointment, but still
through imperishable perseverance, and hoping under clouds, when all
hope seems darkened.

VII. It is difficult, in selecting from many memoranda of warning and
encouragement, to know which to prefer when the space disposable is
limited. But it seems to me important not to omit this particular
caution: The patient will be naturally anxious, as he goes on,
frequently to test the amount of his advance, and its rate, if that
were possible. But this he will see no mode of doing, except through
tentative balancings of his feelings, and generally of the moral
atmosphere around him, as to pleasure and hope, against the
corresponding states, so far as he can recall them from his periods of
intemperance. But these comparisons, I warn him, are fallacious, when
made in this way; the two states are incommensurable on any plan of
_direct_ comparison. Some common measure must be found, and,
_out of himself_; some positive fact, that will not bend to his
own delusive feeling at the moment; as, for instance, in what degree he
finds tolerable what heretofore was _not_ so--the effort of writing
letters, or transacting business, or undertaking a journey, or
overtaking the arrears of labor, that had been once thrown off to a
distance. If in these things he finds himself improved, by tests that
cannot be disputed, he may safely disregard any sceptical whispers from
a wayward sensibility which cannot yet, perhaps, have recovered its
normal health, however much improved. His inner feelings may not yet
point steadily to the truth, though they may vibrate in that direction.
Besides, it is certain that sometimes very manifest advances, such as
any medical man would perceive at a glance, carry a man through stages
of agitation and discomfort. A far worse condition might happen to be
less agitated, and so far more bearable. Now, when a man is positively
suffering discomfort, when he is below the line of pleasurable feeling,
he is no proper judge of his own condition, which he neither will nor
can appreciate. Tooth-ache extorts more groans than dropsy.

VIII. Another important caution is, not to confound with the effects of
intemperance any other natural effects of debility from advanced years.
Many a man, having begun to be intemperate at thirty, enters at sixty
or upwards upon a career of self-restoration. And by self-restoration
he understands a renewal of that state in which he was when first
swerving from temperance. But that state, for his memory, is coincident
with his state of youth. The two states are coadunated. In his
recollections they are intertwisted too closely. But life, without any
intemperance at all, would soon have untwisted them. Charles Lamb, for
instance, at forty-five, and Coleridge at sixty, measured their several
conditions by such tests as the loss of all disposition to involuntary
murmuring of musical airs or fragments when rising from bed. Once they
had sung when rising in the morning light; now they sang no more. The
_vocal_ utterance of joy, for _them_, was silenced for ever.
But these are amongst the changes that life, stern power, inflicts at
any rate; these would have happened, and above all, to men worn by the
unequal irritations of too much thinking, and by those modes of care

  That kill the bloom before its time,
  And blanch without the owner's crime
  The most resplendent hair,

not at all the less had the one drunk no brandy, nor the other any
laudanum. A man must submit to the conditions of humanity, and not
quarrel with a cure as incomplete, because in his climacteric year of
sixty-three, he cannot recover, entirely, the vivacities of thirty-
five. If, by dipping seven times in Jordan, he had cleansed his whole
leprosy of intemperance; if, by going down into Bethesda, he were able
to mount again upon the pinions of his youth,--even then he might
querulously say,--'But, after all these marvels in my favor, I suppose
that one of these fine mornings I, like other people, shall have to
bespeak a coffin.' Why, yes, undoubtedly he will, or somebody
_for_ him. But privileges so especial were not promised even by
the mysterious waters of Palestine. Die he must. And counsels tendered
to the intemperate do not hope to accomplish what might have been
beyond the baths of Jordan or Bethesda. They do enough, if, being
executed by efforts in the spirit of earnest sincerity, they make a
life of _growing_ misery moderately happy for the patient; and,
through that great change, perhaps, more than moderately useful for

IX. One final remark I will make:--pointed to the case, not of the yet
struggling patient, but of him who is fully re-established; and the
more so, because I (who am no hypocrite, but, rather, frank to an
infirmity) acknowledge, in myself, the trembling tendency at intervals,
which would, if permitted, sweep round into currents that might be hard
to overrule. After the absolute restoration to health, a man is very
apt to say,--'Now, then, how shall I use my health? To what delightful
purpose shall I apply it? Surely it is idle to carry a fine jewel in
one's watch-pocket, and never to astonish the weak minds of this world,
by wearing it and flashing it in their eyes.' 'But how?' retorts his
philosophic friend; 'my good fellow, are you not using it at this
moment? Breathing, for instance, talking to me, (though rather
absurdly,) and airing your legs at a glowing fire?' 'Why, yes,' the
other confesses, 'that is all true; but I am dull; and, if you will
pardon my rudeness, even in spite of your too philosophic presence. It
is painful to say so, but sincerely, if I had the power, at this
moment, to turn you, by magic, into a bottle of old port wine, so
corrupt is my nature, that really I fear lest the exchange might, for
the moment, strike me as agreeable.' Such a mood, I apprehend, is apt
to revolve upon many of us, at intervals, however firmly married to
temperance. And the propensity to it has a root in certain analogies
running through our nature. If the reader will permit me for a moment
the use of what, without such an apology, might seem pedantic, I would
call it the instinct of _focalizing_, which prompts such random
desires. Feeling is diffused over the whole surface of the body; but
light is focalized in the eye; sound in the ear. The organization of a
sense or a pleasure seems diluted and imperfect, unless it is gathered
by some machinery into one focus, or local centre. And thus it is that
a general state of pleasurable feeling sometimes seems too
superficially diffused, and one has a craving to intensify or brighten
it by concentration through some sufficient stimulant. I, for my part,
have tried every thing in this world except '_bang_,' which, I
believe, is obtained from hemp. There are other preparations of hemp
which have been found to give great relief from _ennui_; not
ropes, but something lately introduced, which acts upon the system as
the laughing gas (nitrous oxide) acts at times. One farmer in Mid-
Lothian was mentioned to me, eight months ago, as having taken it, and
ever since annoyed his neighbors by immoderate fits of laughter; so
that in January it was agreed to present him to the sheriff as a
nuisance. But, for some reason, the plan was laid aside; and now, eight
months later, I hear that the farmer is laughing more rapturously than
ever, continues in the happiest frame of mind, the kindest of
creatures, and the general torment of his neighborhood. Now, I confess
to having had a lurking interest in this extract of hemp, when first I
heard of it: and at intervals a desire will continue to make itself
felt for some deeper compression or centralization of the genial
feelings than ordinary life affords. But old things will not avail, and
new things I am now able to resist. Still, as the occasional craving
does really arise in most men, it is well to notice it; and chiefly for
the purpose of saying, that this dangerous feeling wears off by
degrees; and oftentimes for long periods it intermits so entirely as to
be even displaced by a profound disgust to all modes of artificial
stimulation. At those times I have remarked that the pleasurable
condition of health does _not_ seem weakened by its want of
centralization. It seems to form a thousand centres. This it is well to
know; because there are many who would resist effectually, if they were
aware of any natural change going on silently in favor of their own
efforts, such as would finally ratify the success. Towards such a
result they would gladly contribute by waiting and forbearing; whilst,
under despondency as to this result, they might more easily yield to
some chance temptation.

Finally, there is something to interest us in the _time_ at which
this temperance movement has begun to stir. Let me close with a slight
notice of what chiefly impresses myself in the relation between this
time and the other circumstances of the case. In reviewing history, we
may see something more than mere convenience in distributing it into
three chambers; ancient history, ending in the space between the
Western Empire falling and Mahomet arising; modern history, from that
time to this; and a new modern history arising at present, or from the
French Revolution. Two great races of men, our own in a two-headed
form--British and American, and secondly, the Russian, are those which,
like rising deluges, already reveal their mission to overflow the
earth. Both these races, partly through climate, or through derivation
of blood, and partly through the contagion of habits inevitable to
brothers of the same nation, are tainted carnally with the appetite for
brandy, for slings, for juleps. And no fire racing through the forests
of Nova Scotia for three hundred miles in the direction of some doomed
city, ever moved so fiercely as the infection of habits amongst the
dense and fiery populations of republican North America.

But it is remarkable, that the whole _ancient_ system of
civilization, all the miracles of Greece and Rome, Persia and Egypt,
moved by the machinery of races that were _not_ tainted with any
such popular _marasmus_. The taste was slightly sowed, as an
_artificial_ taste, amongst luxurious individuals, but never ran
through the laboring classes, through armies, through cities The blood
and the climate forbade it. In this earliest era of history, all the
great races, consequently all the great empires, threw themselves, by
accumulation, upon the genial climates of the south,--having, in fact,
the magnificent lake of the Mediterranean for their general centre of
evolutions. Round this lake, in a zone of varying depth, towered the
whole grandeurs of the Pagan earth. But, in such climates, man is
naturally temperate. He is so by physical coercion, and for the
necessities of rest and coolness. The Spaniard, the Moor, or the Arab,
has no merit in his temperance. The effort, for _him_, would be to
form the taste for alcohol. He has a vast foreground of disgust to
traverse before he can reach a taste so remote and alien. No need for
resistance in his will where nature resists on his behalf. Sherbet,
shaddocks, grapes, these were innocent applications to thirst. And the
great republic of antiquity said to her legionary sons:--'Soldier, if
you thirst, there is the river;--Nile, suppose, or Ebro. Better drink
there cannot be. Of this you may take "at discretion." Or, if you wait
till the _impedimenta_ come up, you may draw your ration of _Posca_'
What was _posca_? It was, in fact, acidulated water; three parts of
superfine water to one part of the very best vinegar. Nothing stronger
did Rome, that awful mother, allow to her dearest children, _i. e._,
her legions. Truest of blessings, that veiling itself in seeming
sternness, drove away the wicked phantoms that haunt the couches of yet
greater nations. 'The blessings of the evil genii,' says an Eastern
proverb, 'these are curses.' And the stern refusals of wisely loving
mothers,--these are the mightiest of gifts.

Now, on the other hand, our northern climates have universally the
taste, latent if not developed, for powerful liquors. And through their
blood, as also through the natural tendency of the imitative principle
amongst compatriots, from these high latitudes the greatest of our
modern nations propagate the contagion to their brothers, though
colonizing warm climates. And it is remarkable that our modern
preparations of liquors, even when harmless in their earliest stages,
are fitted, like stepping-stones, for making the transition to higher
stages that are _not_ harmless. The weakest preparations from
malt, lead, by graduated steps, to the strongest; until we arrive at
the intoxicating porter of London, which, under its local name (so
insidiously delusive) of '_beer_,' diffuses the most extensive

Under these marked circumstances of difference between the ruling races
of antiquity and of our modern times, it now happens that the greatest
era by far of human expansion is opening upon us. Two vast movements
are hurrying into action by velocities continually accelerated--the
great revolutionary movement from political causes concurring with the
great physical movement in locomotion and social intercourse, from the
gigantic (though still infant) powers of steam. No such Titan resources
for modifying each other were ever before dreamed of by nations: and
the next hundred years will have changed the face of the world. At the
opening of such a crisis, had no third movement arisen of resistance to
intemperate habits, there would have been ground for despondency as to
the amelioration of the human race. But, as the case stands, the new
principle of resistance nationally to bad habits, has arisen almost
concurrently with the new powers of national intercourse; and
henceforward by a change equally sudden and unlooked for, that new
machinery, which would else most surely have multiplied the ruins of
intoxication, has become the strongest agency for hastening its


Few people need to be told--that associations exist up and down
Christendom, having the ambitious object of abolishing war. Some go so
far as to believe that this evil of war, so ubiquitous, so ancient and
apparently so inalienable from man's position upon earth, is already
doomed; that not the private associations only, but the prevailing
voice of races the most highly civilized, may be looked on as tending
to confederation against it; that sentence of extermination has
virtually gone forth, and that all which remains is gradually to
execute that sentence. Conscientiously I find myself unable to join in
these views. The project seems to me the most romantic of all romances
in the course of publication. Consequently, when asked to become a
member in any such association, I have always thought it most
respectful, because most sincere, to decline. Yet, as it is painful to
refuse all marks of sympathy with persons whose motives one honors, I
design at my death to bequeath half-a-crown to the chief association
for extinguishing war; the said half-crown to be improved in all time
coming for the benefit of the association, under the trusteeship of
Europe, Asia, and America, but not of Africa. I really dare not trust
Africa with money, she is not able as yet to take care of herself. This
half-crown, a fund that will overshadow the earth before it comes to be
wanted under the provisions of my will, is to be improved at any
interest whatever--no matter what; for the vast period of the
accumulations will easily make good any tardiness of advance, long
before the time comes for its commencing payment; a point which will be
soon understood from the following explanation, by any gentleman that
hopes to draw upon it.

There is in Ceylon a granite _cippus_, or monumental pillar, of
immemorial antiquity; and to this pillar a remarkable legend is
attached. The pillar measures six feet by six, _i. e._ thirty-six
square feet, on the flat tablet of its horizontal surface; and in
height several _riyanas_, (which arc Ceylonese cubits of eighteen
inches each,) but of these cubits, there are either eight or twelve;
excuse me for having forgotten which. At first, perhaps, you will be
angry, viz., when you hear that this simple difference of four cubits,
or six feet, measures a difference for your expectations, whether you
count your expectations in kicks or halfpence, that absolutely strikes
horror into arithmetic. The singularity of the case is, that the very
solemnity of the legend and the wealth of the human race in time,
depend upon the cubical contents of the monument, so that a loss of one
granite chip is a loss of a frightful infinity; yet, again, for that
very reason, the loss of all _but_ a chip, leaves behind riches so
appallingly too rich, that everybody is careless about the four cubits.
Enough is as good as a feast. Two bottomless abysses take as much time
for the diver as ten; and five eternities are as frightful to look down
as four-and-twenty. In the Ceylon legend all turns upon the
inexhaustible series of ages which this pillar guarantees. But, as one
inexhaustible is quite enough for one race of men, and you are sure of
more by ineffable excess than you can use in any private consumption of
your own, you become generous; 'and between friends,' you say, in
accepting my apologies for the doubtful error as to the four cubits,
'what signifies an infinity more or less?'

For the Ceylonese legend is this, that once in every hundred years an
angel visits this granite pillar. He is dressed in a robe of white
muslin, muslin of that kind which the Romans called _aura textilis_--
woven, as might seem, from zephyrs or from pulses of the air, such in
its transparency, such in its gossamer lightness. Does the angel touch
the pillar with his foot? Oh no! Even _that_ would be something, but
even _that_ is not allowed. In his soundless flight across it, he
suffers the hem of his impalpable robe to sweep the surface as softly
as a moon-beam. So much and no more of pollution he endures from
contact with earthly objects. The lowest extremity of his dress,
but with the delicacy of light, grazes the granite surface. And
_that_ is all the attrition which the sacred granite receives in
the course of any one century, and this is all the progress which we,
the poor children of earth, in any one century make towards the
exhaustion of our earthly imprisonment. But, argues the subtle legend,
even _that_ attrition, when weighed in metaphysical scales, cannot
be denied its value; it has detached from the pillar an atom (no matter
that it is an invisible atom) of granite dust, the ratio of which atom
to a grain avoirdupois, if expressed as a fraction of unity, would by
its denominator stretch from the Accountant-General's office in London
to the Milky Way. Now the total mass of the granite represents, on this
scheme of payment, the total funded debt of man's race to Father Time
and earthly corruption; all this intolerable score, chalked up to our
debit, we by ourselves and our representatives have to rub off, before
the granite will be rubbed away by the muslin robe of the proud flying
angel, (who, if he were a good fellow, might just as well give a sly
kick with his heel to the granite,) before time will be at an end, and
the burden of flesh accomplished. But you hear it expressed in terms
that will astonish Baron Rothschild, what is the progress in
liquidation which we make for each particular century. A billion of
centuries pays off a quantity equal to a pinch of snuff. Despair seizes
a man in contemplating a single _coupon_, no bigger than a
visiting card, of such a stock as this; and behold we have to keep on
paying away until the total granite is reduced to a level with a grain
of mustard-seed. But when that is accomplished, thank heaven, our last
generation of descendants will be entitled to leave at Master Time's
door a visiting card, which the meagre shadow cannot refuse to take,
though he will sicken at seeing it; viz., a P. P. C. card, upon seeing
which, the old thief is bound to give receipt in full for all debts and
pretended arrears.

The reader perhaps knows of debts on both sides the Atlantic that have
no great prospect of being paid off sooner than this in Ceylon.

And naturally, to match this order of debts, moving off so slowly,
there are funds that accumulate as slowly. My own funded half-crown is
an illustration. The half-crown will travel in the inverse order of the
granite pillar. The pillar and the half-crown move upon opposite tacks;
and there _is_ a point of time (which it is for Algebra to investigate)
when they will cross each other in the exact moment of their several
bisections--my aspiring half-crown tending gradually towards
the fixed stars, so that perhaps it might be right to make the
man in the moon trustee for that part of the accumulations which rises
above the optics of sublunary bankers; whilst the Ceylon pillar is
constantly unweaving its own granite texture, and dwindling earthwards.
It is probable that each of the parties will have reached its
consummation about the same time. What is to be done with the mustard-
seed, Ceylon has forgotten to say. But what is to be done with the
half-crown and its surplus, nobody can doubt after reading my last will
and testament. After reciting a few inconsiderable legacies to the
three continents, and to the man in the moon, for any trouble they may
have had in managing the hyperbolical accumulations, I go on to
observe, that, when war is reported to have taken itself off for ever,
'and no mistake,' (because I foresee many false alarms of a perpetual
peace,) a variety of inconveniences will arise to all branches of the
United Service, including the Horse Marines. Clearly there can be no
more half-pay; and even more clearly, there is an end to full-pay.
Pensions are at an end for 'good service.' Allowances for wounds cannot
be thought of, when all wounds shall have ceased except those from
female eyes--for which the Horse Guards is too little advanced in
civilization to make any allowance at all. Bargains there will be no
more amongst auctions of old Government stores. Birmingham will be
ruined, or so much of it as depended on rifles. And the great Scotch
works on the river Carron will be hungering for beef, so far as Carron
depended for beef upon carronades. Other arrears of evil will stretch
after the extinction of war.

Now upon my half-crown fund (which will be equal to anything by the
time it is wanted) I charge once and for ever the general relief of all
these arrears--of the poverty, the loss, the bankruptcy, arising by
reason of this _quietus_ of final extinction applied to war. I
charge the fund with a perpetual allowance of half-pay to all the
armies of earth; or indeed, whilst my hand is in, I charge it with
_full_ pay. And I strictly enjoin upon my trustees and executors,
but especially upon the man in the moon, if his unsocial lip has left
him one spark of gentlemanly feeling, that he and they shall construe
all claims liberally; nay, with that riotous liberality which is safe
and becoming, when applied to a fund so inexhaustible. Yes, reader, my
fund will be inexhaustible, because the period of its growth will be
measured by the concurrent deposition of the Ceylon mustard-seed from
the everlasting pillar.

Yet why, or on what principle? It is because I see, or imagine that I
see, a twofold necessity for war--necessity in two different senses--
1st, a physical necessity arising out of man's nature when combined
with man's situation; a necessity under which war may be regarded, if
you please, as a nuisance, but as a nuisance inalienable from
circumstances essential to human frailty. 2dly, a moral necessity
connected with benefits of compensation, such as continually lurk in
evils acknowledged to be such--a necessity under which it becomes
lawful to say, that war _ought_ to exist as a balance to opposite
tendencies of a still more evil character. War is the mother of wrong
and spoliation: war is a scourge of God--granted; but, like other
scourges in the divine economy, war purifies and redeems itself in its
character of a counterforce to greater evils that could not otherwise
be intercepted or redressed. In two different meanings we say that a
thing is necessary; either in that case where it is inexorably forced
on by some sad overruling principle which it is vain to fight against,
though all good men mourn over its existence and view it as an
unconditional evil; or secondly, in that case, where an instrument of
sorrowful consequences to man is nevertheless invoked and postulated by
man's highest moral interests, is nevertheless clamorously indicated as
a blessing when looked at in relation to some antagonist cause of evil
for which it offers the one only remedy or principle of palliation. The
very evil and woe of man's condition upon earth may be oftentimes
detected in the necessity of looking to some other woe as the pledge of
its purification; so that what separately would have been hateful for
itself, passes mysteriously into an object of toleration, of hope, or
even of prayer, as a counter-venom to the taint of some more mortal
poison. Poverty, for instance, is in both senses necessary for man. It
is necessary in the same sense as thirst is necessary (_i. e._
inevitable) in a fever--necessary as one corollary amongst many others,
from the eternal hollowness of all human efforts for organizing any
perfect model of society--a corollary which, how gladly would all of us
unite to cancel, but which our hearts suggest, which Scripture solemnly
proclaims, to be ineradicable from the land. In this sense, poverty is
a necessity over which we _mourn_,--as one of the dark phases that
sadden the vision of human life. But far differently, and with a stern
gratitude, we recognize another mode of necessity for this gloomy
distinction--a call for poverty, when seen in relation to the manifold
agencies by which it developes human energies, in relation to the
trials by which it searches the power of patience and religion, in
relation to the struggles by which it evokes the nobilities of
fortitude; or again, amongst those who are not sharers in these trials
and struggles, but sympathizing spectators, in relation to the
stimulation by which it quickens wisdom that watches over the causes of
this evil, or by which it vivifies the spirit of love that labors for
its mitigation. War stands, or seems to stand, upon the same double
basis of necessity; a primary necessity that belongs to our human
degradations, a secondary one that towers by means of its moral
relations into the region of our impassioned exaltations. The two
propositions on which I take my stand are these. _First_, that
there are nowhere latent in society any powers by which it can
effectually operate on war for its extermination. The machinery is not
there. The game is not within the compass of the cards. _Secondly_,
that this defect of power is, though sincerely I grieve in avowing
such a sentiment, and perhaps (if an infirm reader had his eye
upon me) I might seem, in sympathy with his weakness, to blush
--not a curse, no not at all, but on the whole a blessing from
century to century, if it is an inconvenience from year to year. The
Abolition Committees, it is to be feared, will be very angry at both
propositions. Yet, Gentlemen, hear me--strike, but hear me. I believe
that's a sort of plagiarism from Themistocles. But never mind. I have
as good a right to the words, until translated back into Greek, as that
most classical of yellow admirals. '_Pereant qui ante nos nostra

The first proposition is, that war _cannot_ be abolished. The
second, and more offensive--that war ought not to be abolished. First,
therefore, concerning the first. One at a time. Sufficient for the page
is the evil thereof! How came it into any man's heart, first of all, to
conceive so audacious an idea as that of a conspiracy against war?
Whence could he draw any vapor of hope to sustain his preliminary
steps? And in framing his plot, which way did he set his face to look
out for accomplices? Revolving this question in times past, I came to
the conclusion--that, perhaps, this colossal project of a war against
war, had been first put in motion under a misconception (natural
enough, and countenanced by innumerable books) as to the true
historical origin of wars in many notorious instances. If these had
arisen on trivial impulses, a trivial resistance might have intercepted
them. If a man has once persuaded himself, that long, costly, and
bloody wars had arisen upon a point of ceremony, upon a personal pique,
upon a hasty word, upon some explosion of momentary caprice; it is a
natural inference, that strength of national will and public
combinations for resistance, supposing such forces to have been
trained, organized, and, from the circumstances of the particular
nation, to be permanently disposable for action, might prove
redundantly effective, when pointed against a few personal authors of
war, so presumably weak, and so flexible to any stern counter-volition
as those _must_ be supposed, whose wars argued so much of vicious
levity. The inference is unexceptionable: it is the premises that are
unsound. Anecdotes of war as having emanated from a lady's tea-table or
toilette, would authorize such inference as to the facilities of
controlling them. But the anecdotes themselves are false, or false
substantially. _All_ anecdotes, I fear, are false. I am sorry to
say so, but my duty to the reader extorts from me the disagreeable
confession, as upon a matter specially investigated by myself, that all
dealers in anecdotes are tainted with mendacity. Where is the
Scotchman, said Dr. Johnson, who does not prefer Scotland to truth?
but, however this may be, rarer than such a Scotchman, rarer than the
phoenix, is that virtuous man, a monster he is, nay, he is an
impossible man, who will consent to lose a prosperous anecdote on the
consideration that it happens to be a lie. All history, therefore,
being built partly, and some of it altogether, upon anecdotage, must be
a tissue of lies. Such, for the most part, is the history of Suetonius,
who may be esteemed the father of anecdotage; and being such, he (and
not Herodotus) should have been honored with the title, _Father of
Lies_. Such is the Augustan history, which is all that remains of
the Roman empire; such is the vast series of French memoirs, now
stretching through more than three entire centuries. Are these works,
then, to be held cheap, because their truths to their falsehoods are in
the ratio of one to five hundred? On the contrary, they are better, and
more to be esteemed on that account; because, _now_ they are
admirable reading on a winter's night; whereas, written on the
principle of sticking to the truth, they would have been as dull as
ditch water. Generally, therefore, the dealers in anecdotage are to be
viewed with admiration, as patriotic citizens, willing to sacrifice
their own characters, lest their countrymen should find themselves
short of amusement. I esteem them as equal to Codrus, Timoleon, William
Tell, or to Milton, as regards the liberty of unlicensed printing. And
I object to them only in the exceptional case of their being cited as
authorities for an inference, or as vouchers for a fact. Universally,
it may be received as a rule of unlimited application,--that when an
anecdote involves a stinging repartee, or collision of ideas,
fancifully and brilliantly related to each other by resemblance or
contrast, then you may challenge it as false to a certainty. One
illustration of which is--that pretty nearly every memorable
_propos_, or pointed repartee, or striking _mot_, circulating
at this moment in Paris or London, as the undoubted property of
Talleyrand, (that eminent knave,) was ascribed at Vienna, ninety years
ago, to the Prince de Ligne, and thirty years previously, to Voltaire,
and so on, regressively, to many other wits (knaves or not); until, at
length, if you persist in backing far enough, you find yourself amongst
Pagans, with the very same repartee, &c., doing duty in pretty good
Greek; [Footnote: This is _literally_ true, more frequently than
would be supposed. For instance, a jest often ascribed to Voltaire, and
of late pointedly reclaimed for him by Lord Brougham, as being one that
he (Lord B.) could swear to for _his_, so characteristic seemed
the impression of Voltaire's mind upon the _tournure_ of the
sarcasm, unhappily for this waste of sagacity, may be found recorded by
Fabricius in the _Bibliotheca Græca_, as the jest of a Greek who
has been dead for about seventeen centuries. The man certainly
_did_ utter the jest; and 1750 years ago. But who it was that he
stole it from is another question. To all appearance, and according to
Lord Brougham's opinion, the party robbed must have been M. de
Voltaire. I notice the case, however, of the Greek thefts and frauds
committed upon so many of our excellent wits belonging to the 18th and
19th centuries, chiefly with a view to M. de Talleyrand--that rather
middling bishop, but very eminent knave. He also has been extensively
robbed by the Greeks of the 2d and 3d centuries. How else can you
account for so many of his sayings being found amongst _their_
pages? A thing you may ascertain in a moment, at any police office, by
having the Greeks searched: for surely you would never think of
searching a bishop. Most of the Talleyrand jewels will be found
concealed amongst the goods of these unprincipled Greeks. But one, and
the most famous in the whole jewel-case, sorry am I to confess, was
nearly stolen from the Bishop, not by any Greek, but by an English
writer, viz., Goldsmith, who must have been dying about the time that
his Excellency, the diplomatist, had the goodness to be born. That
famous _mot_ about language, as a gift made to man for the purpose
of _concealing_ his thoughts, is lurking in Goldsmith's Essays.
Think of _that!_ Already, in his innocent childhood, whilst the
Bishop was in petticoats, and almost before he had begun to curse and
to swear plainly in French, an Irish vagabond had attempted to swindle
him out of that famous witticism which has since been as good as a
life-annuity to the venerable knave's literary fame.] sometimes, for
instance in Hierocles, sometimes in Diogenes Lærtius, in Plutarch, or
in Athenæus. Now the thing you know claimed by so many people, could
not belong to all of them: _all_ of them could not be the inventors.
Logic and common sense unite in showing us that it must have belonged
to the moderns, who had clearly been hustled and robbed by the
ancients, so much more likely to commit a robbery than Christians, they
being all Gentiles--Pagans--Heathen dogs. What do I infer from this?
Why, that upon _any_ solution of the case, hardly one worthy
saying can be mentioned, hardly one jest, pun, or sarcasm, which has
not been the occasion and subject of many falsehoods--as having been
_au-(and men)-daciously_ transferred from generation to generation,
sworn to in every age as this man's property, or that man's,
by people that must have known they were lying, until you retire
from the investigation with a conviction, that under any system of
chronology, the science of lying is the only one that has never
drooped. Date from _Anno Domini_, or from the Julian era, patronize
Olympiads, or patronize (as _I_ do, from misanthropy, because nobody
else _will_) the era of Nabonassar,--no matter, upon every road,
thicker than mile-stones, you see records of human mendacity, or (which
is much worse, in my opinion,) of human sympathy with other people's

This digression, now, on anecdotes,[Footnote: The word 'Anecdotes,'
first, I believe, came into currency about the middle of the 6th
century, from the use made of it by Procopius. _Literally_ it
indicated nothing that could interest either public malice or public
favor; it promised only _unpublished_ notices of the Emperor
Justinian, his wife Theodora, Narses, Belisarius, &c. But _why_
had they been unpublished? Simply because scandalous and defamatory:
and hence, from the interest which invested the case of an imperial
court so remarkable, this oblique, secondary and purely accidental
modification of the word came to influence its _general_ acceptation.
Simply to have been previously unpublished, no longer raised any
statement into an anecdote: it now received a new integration
it must be some fresh publication of _personal_ memorabilia; and
these having reference to _human_ creatures, must always be
presumed to involve more evil than good--much defamation
true or false--much doubtful insinuation--much suggestion of things
worse than could be openly affirmed. So arose the word: but the
_thing_ arose with Suetonius, that dear, excellent and hard-
working 'father of lies.'] is what the learned call an _excursus_,
and, I am afraid, too long by half; not strictly in proportion. But
don't mind _that_. I'll make it all right by being too short upon
something else, at the next opportunity; and then nobody can complain.
Meantime, I argue, that as all brilliant or epigrammatic anecdotes are
probably false, (a thing that hereafter I shall have much pleasure in
making out to the angry reader's satisfaction,) but to a dead certainty
those anecdotes, in particular, which bear marks in their construction
that a rhetorical effect of art had been contemplated by the narrator,
--we may take for granted, that the current stories ascribing modern
wars (French and English) to accidents the most inconsiderable, are
false even in a literal sense; but at all events they are so when
valued philosophically, and brought out into their circumstantial
relations. For instance, we have a French anecdote, from the latter
part of the seventeenth century, which ascribes one bloody war to the
accident of a little 'miff,' arising between the king and his minister
upon some such trifle as the situation of a palace window. Again, from
the early part of the eighteenth century, we have an English anecdote,
ascribing consequences no less bloody to a sudden feud between two
ladies, and that feud, (if I remember,) tracing itself up to a pair of
gloves; so that, in effect, the war and the gloves form the two poles
of the transaction. Harlequin throws a pair of Limerick gloves into a
corn-mill; and the spectator is astonished to see the gloves
immediately issuing from the hopper, well ground into seven armies of
one hundred thousand men each, and with parks of artillery to
correspond. In these two anecdotes, we recognize at once the able and
industrious artist arranging his materials with a pious regard to
theatrical effect. This man knows how to group his figures; well he
understands where to plant his masses of light and shade; and what
impertinence it would be in us spectators, the reader suppose and
myself, to go behind the scenes for critical inquiry into daylight
realities. All reasonable men see that, the less of such realities our
artist had to work with, the more was his merit. I am one of those that
detest all insidious attempts to rob men situated as this artist of
their fair fame, by going about and whispering that perhaps the thing
is true. Far from it! I sympathize with the poor trembling artist, and
agree most cordially that the whole story is a lie; and he may rely
upon my support at all times to the extent of denying that any vestige
of truth probably lay at the foundations of his ingenious apologue. And
what I say of the English fable, I am willing to say of the French one.
Both, I dare say, were the rankest fictions. But next, what, after all,
if they were _not?_ For, in the rear of all discussion upon anecdotes,
considered simply as true or _not_ true, comes finally a _valuation_
of those anecdotes in their moral relation, and as to the inferences
which they will sustain. The story, for example, of the French
minister Louvois, and the adroitness with which he fastened upon
great foreign potentates, in the shape of war, that irritability
of temper in his royal master which threatened to consume himself; the
diplomatic address with which he transmuted suddenly a task so delicate
as that of skirmishing daily in a Council Chamber with his own
sovereign, into that far jollier mode of disputation where one replies
to all objections of the very keenest logician, either with round shot
or with grape; here is an anecdote, which (for my own part) I am
inclined to view as pure gasconade. But suppose the story true, still
it may happen that a better valuation of it may disturb the whole
edifice of logical inferences by which it seemed to favor the
speculations of the war abolitionists. Let us see. What _was_ the
logic through which such a tale as this could lend any countenance to
the schemes of these abolitionists? That logic travelled in the
following channel. Such a tale, or the English tale of the gloves,
being supposed true, it would seem to follow, that war and the purposes
of war were phenomena of chance growth, not attached to any instinct so
ancient, and apparently so grooved into the dark necessities of our
nature, as we had all taken for granted. Usually, we rank war with
hunger, with cold, with sorrow, with death, afflictions of our human
state that spring up as inevitably without separate culture and in
defiance of all hostile culture, as verdure, as weeds, and as flowers
that overspread in spring time a fertile soil without needing to be
sown or watered--awful is the necessity, as it seems, of all such
afflictions. Yet, again, if (as these anecdote simply) war could by
possibility depend frequently on accidents of personal temperament,
irritability in a sensual king, wounded sensibilities of pride between
two sensitive ladies, there in a moment shone forth a light of hope
upon the crusade against war.

If _personal_ accidents could, to any serious extent, be amongst
the causes of war, then it would become a hopeful duty to combine
personal influences that should take an opposite direction. If casual
causes could be supposed chiefly to have promoted war, how easy for a
nation to arrange permanent and determinate causes against it! The
logic of these anecdotes seemed to argue that the whole fountains of
war were left to the government of chance and the windiest of levities;
that war was not in reality roused into activity by the evil that
resides in the human will, but on the contrary, by the simple defect of
any will energetic enough or steady enough to merit that name.
Multitudes of evils exist in our social system, simply because no
steadiness of attention, nor action of combined will, has been
converged upon them. War, by the silent evidence of these anecdotes,
seemed to lie amongst that class of evils. A new era might be expected
to commence in new views upon war; and the evil would be half conquered
from the moment that it should be traced to a trivial or a personal

All this was plausible, but false. The anecdotes, and all similar
anecdotes, might be true, but were delusive. The logical vice in them
was--that they substituted an occasion for a cause. The king's ill
temper for instance, acting through the levity and impatience of the
minister, might be the _causa occasionalis_ of the war, but not
its true _causa efficiens_. What _was?_ Where do the true permanent
causes of war, as distinguished from its proximate excitements,
find their lodgment and abiding ground? They lie in the system
of national competitions; in the common political system to which
all individual nations are unavoidably parties; in the system of
public forces distributed amongst a number of adjacent nations, with no
internal principle for adjusting the equilibrium of these forces, and
no supreme _Areopagus_, or court of appeal, for deciding disputes.
Here lies the _matrix_ of war, because an eternal _matrix_ of
disputes lies in a system of interests that are continually the same,
and therefore the parents of rivalships too close, that are continually
different, and so far the parents of alienation too wide. All war is an
instinctive _nisus_ for redressing the errors of equilibrium in
the relative position of nations amongst nations. Every nation's duty,
first, midst, and last, is to itself. No nation can be safe from
continual (because insensible) losses of ground, but by continual
jealousies, watchings, and ambitious strivings to mend its own
position. Civilities and high-bred courtesies pass and ought to pass
between nations; that is the graceful drapery which shrouds their
natural, fierce, and tiger-like relations to each other. But the
glaring eyes, which express this deep and inalienable ferocity, look
out at intervals from below these gorgeous draperies; and sad it is to
think that at intervals the acts and the temper suitable to those
glaring eyes _must_ come forward. Mr. Carter was on terms of the
most exquisite dissimulation with his lions and tigers; but, as often
as he trusted his person amongst them, if, in the midst of infinite
politeness exchanged on all sides, he saw a certain portentous
expression of mutiny kindling in the eyeball of any discontented tiger,
all was lost, unless he came down instantly upon that tiger's skull
with a blow from an iron bar, that suggested something like apoplexy.
On such terms do nations meet in diplomacy; high consideration for each
other does not conceal the basis of enmity on which they rest; not an
enmity that belongs to their feelings, but to the necessities of their
position. Every nation in negotiating has its right hand upon the hilt
of its sword, and at intervals playfully unsheaths a little of its
gleaming blade. As things stand at present, war and peace are bound
together like the vicissitudes of day and night, of Castor and Pollux.
It matters little which bucket of the two is going up at the moment,
which going down. Both are steadfastly tied by a system of alternations
to a revolving wheel; and a new war as certainly becomes due during the
evolutions of a tedious peace, as a new peace may be relied on during
the throes of a bloody war, to tranquillize its wounds. Consequently,
when the arrogant Louvois carried a war to the credit of his own little
account on the national leger of France, this coxcomb well knew that a
war was at any rate due about that time. Really, says he, I must find
out some little war to exhaust the _surplus_ irritability of this
person, or he'll be the death of me. But irritable or not irritable,
with a puppy for his minister or not, the French king would naturally
have been carried headlong into war by the mere system of Europe,
within a very few months. So much had the causes of complaint
reciprocally accumulated. The account must be cleansed, the court roll
of grievances must be purged. With respect to the two English ladies
again, it is still more evident that they could not have _caused_
a war by pulling caps with each other, since the grounds of every war,
what had caused it, and prolonged it, was sure to be angrily reviewed
by Parliament at each annual exposition of the Finance Minister's
Budget. These ladies, and the French coxcomb, could at the utmost have
claimed a distinction--such as that which belonged to a particular
Turkish gunner, the captain of a gun at Navarino, viz., that he, by
firing the first shot without orders, did (as a matter of fact) let
loose and unmuzzle the whole of that dreadful iron hurricane from four
nations which instantly followed, but which (be it known to the gunner)
could not have been delayed for fifty minutes longer, whether he had
fired the unauthorized gun or not.

But now, let me speak to the second proposition of my two-headed
thesis, viz., that war _ought_ not to be abolished, if such an
abolition were even possible. _Prima facie_, it seems a dreadful
doctrine to claim a place for war as amongst the evils that are
salutary to man; but conscientiously I hold it to be such. I hold with
Wordsworth, but for reasons which may or may not be the same, since he
has not stated _his_--

  'That God's most dreaded instrument,
  In working out a pure intent,
  Is man--array'd for mutual slaughter:
  Yea, Carnage is his daughter.'

I am obliged to hold, that supposing so romantic a condition realized
as the cessation of war, this change, unless other evils were
previously abolished, or neutralized in a way still more romantic to
suppose, would not be for the welfare of human nature, but would tend
to its rapid degradation.

One, in fact, of the earliest aspects under which this moral necessity
for war forces itself upon our notice, is its physical necessity. I
mean to say that one of the earliest reasons why war _ought_ to
exist, is because under any mode of suppressing war, virtually it
_will_ exist. Banish war as now administered, and it will revolve
upon us in a worse shape, that is, in a shape of predatory and ruffian
war, more and more licentious, as it enjoys no privilege or sufferance,
by the supposition, under the national laws. Will the causes of war die
away because war is forbidden? Certainly not; and the only result of
the prohibition would be to throw back the exercise of war from
national into private and mercenary hands; and _that_ is precisely
the retrograde or inverse course of civilization; for, in the natural
order of civilization, war passes from the hands of knights, barons,
insulated cities, into those of the universal community. If, again, it
is attempted to put down this lawless _guerilla_ state by national
forces, then the result will be to have established an interminable
warfare of a mixed character, private and public, civil and foreign,
infesting the frontiers of all states like a fever, and in substitution
for the occasional and intermitting wars of high national police,
administered with the dignified responsibility that belongs to supreme
rank, with the humanity that belongs to conscious power, and with the
diminishing havoc that belongs to increasing skill in the arts of
destruction. Even as to this last feature in warfare, which in the war
of brigands and _condottieri_ would for many reasons instantly
decay, no reader can fail to be aware of the marvels effected by the
forces of inventive science that run along side by side with the
advances of civilization; look back even to the grandest period of the
humane Roman warfare, listen to the noblest and most merciful of all
Roman captains, saying on the day of Pharsalia, (and saying of
necessity,) 'Strike at their faces, cavalry,'--yes, absolutely
directing his own troopers to plough up with their sabres the blooming
faces of the young Roman nobility; and then pass to a modern field of
battle, where all is finished by musquetry and artillery amidst clouds
of smoke, no soldier recognizing his own desolations, or the ghastly
ruin of his own right arm, so that war, by losing all its brutality, is
losing half of its demoralization.

War, so far from ending, because war was forbidden and nationally
renounced, on the contrary would transmigrate into a more fearful
shape. As things are at present, (and, observe, they are always growing
better,) what numbers of noble-minded men, in the persons of our
officers (yes, and often of non-commissioned officers,) do we British,
for example, disperse over battle-fields, that could not dishonor their
glorious uniform by any countenance to an act of cruelty! They are eyes
delegated from the charities of our domestic life, to overlook and curb
the license of war. I remember, in Xenophon, some passage where he
describes a class of Persian gentlemen, who were called the
_ophthalmoi_, or _eyes_ of the king; but for a very different
purpose. These British officers may be called the _opthalmoi_, or
eyes of our Sovereign Lady, that into every corner of the battle carry
their scrutiny, lest any cruelty should be committed on the helpless,
or any advantage taken of a dying enemy. But mark, such officers would
be rare in the irregular troops succeeding to the official armies. And
through this channel, amongst others, war, when cried down by act of
Parliament, and precisely _because_ it was cried down, would
become more perilously effective for the degradation of human nature.
Being itself dishonored, war would become the more effective as an
instrument for the dishonoring of its agents. However, at length, we
will suppose the impossible problem solved--war, we will assume, is at
last put down.

At length there is no more war. Though by the way, let me whisper in
your ear, (supposing you to be a Christian,) this would be a
prelibation drawn prematurely from the cup of millennial happiness;
and, strictly speaking, there is no great homage to religion, even thus
far--in figuring _that_ to be the purchase of man for himself, and
through his own efforts, which is viewed by Scripture as a glory
removed to the infinite and starry distance of a millennium, and as the
_teleutaion epigeinaema_, the last crowning attainment of
Christian truth, no longer _militant_ on earth. Christianity it
is, but Christianity when _triumphant_, and no longer in conflict
with adverse, or thwarting, or limiting influences, which only can be
equal to a revolution so mighty. But all this, for the sake of pursuing
the assumption, let us agree to waive. In reality, there are two
separate stations taken up by the war denouncers. One class hold, that
an influence derived from political economy is quite equal to the
flying leap by which man is to clear this unfathomable gulph of war,
and to land his race for ever on the opposite shore of a self-
sustaining peace. Simply, the contemplation of national debts, (as a
burthen which never would have existed without war,) and a computation
of the waste, havoc, unproductive labor, &c., attached to any single
campaign--these, they imagine, might suffice, _per se_, for the
extinction of war. But the other class cannot go along with a
speculation so infirm. Reasons there are, in the opposite scale,
tempting man into war,--which are far mightier than any motives
addressed to his self-interest. Even straining her energies to the
utmost, they regard all policy of the _purse_ as adequate: anything
short of religion, they are satisfied, must be incommensurate to a
result so vast.

I myself certainly agree with this last class; but upon this arises a
delusion, which I shall have some trouble in making the reader
understand: and of this I am confident-that a majority, perhaps, in
every given amount of readers, will share in the delusion; will part
from me in the persuasion that the error I attempt to expose is no
error at all, but that it is myself who am in the wrong. The delusion
which I challenge as such, respects the very meaning and value of a
sacrifice made to Christianity. What is it? what do we properly mean,
by a concession or a sacrifice made to a spiritual power, such as
Christianity? If a king and his people, impressed by the unchristian
character of war, were to say, in some solemn act--'We, the parties
undersigned, for the reasons stated in the body of this document,
proclaim to all nations, that from and after Midsummer eve of the year
1850, this being the eve of St. John the Baptist, (who was the herald
of Christ,) we will no more prosecute any interest of ours, unless the
one sole interest of national defence, by means of war,--and this
sacrifice we make as a concession and act of homage to Christianity,--
would _that_ vow, I ask, sincerely offered, and steadily observed,
really be a sacrifice made to Christianity? Not at all. A sacrifice,
that was truly such, to a spiritual religion, must be a sacrifice not
verbally (though sincerely) dedicating itself to the religion, but a
sacrifice wrought and accomplished by that religion, through and by its
own spirit. Midsummer eve of 1850 could clearly make no spiritual
change in the king or his people--such they would be on the morning
after St. John's day, as on the morning before it--_i. e._, filled
with all elements (though possibly undeveloped) of strife, feud,
pernicious ambition,

The delusion, therefore, which I charge upon this religious class of
war denouncers is, that whilst they see and recognize this infinite
imperfection of any influence which Christianity yet exercises upon the
world, they nevertheless rely upon that acknowledged shadow for the
accomplishment of what would, in such circumstances, be a real miracle;
they rely upon that shadow, as truly and entirely as if it were already
that substance which, in a vast revolution of ages, it will finally
become. And they rely upon this mockery in _two_ senses; first,
for the _endurance_ of the frail human resolution that would thaw
in an hour before a great outrage, or provocation suited to the nobler
infirmities of man. Secondly, which is the point I mainly aim at,
assuming, for a moment, that the resolution _could_ endure,
amongst all mankind, we are all equally convinced, that an evil so vast
is not likely to be checked or controlled, except by some very
extraordinary power. Well, where _is_ it? Show me that power. I
know of none but Christianity. _There_, undoubtedly, is hope. But,
in order that the hope may become rational, the power must become
practical. And practical it is not in the extent required, until this
Christianity, from being dimly appreciated by a section [Footnote
_What_ section, if you please? I, for my part, do not agree with
those that geographically degrade Christianity as occupying but a
trifle on the area of our earth. Mark this; all Eastern populations
have dwindled upon better acquaintance. Persia that _ought_ to
have, at least, two hundred and fifty millions of people, and
_would_ have them under English government, and once was supposed
to have at least one hundred millions, how many millions has she?
_Eight!_ This was ascertained by Napoleon's emissary in 1808,
General Gardanne. Afghanistan has very little more, though some falsely
count fourteen millions. There go two vast chambers of Mahometanism;
not twenty millions between them. Hindostan may _really_ have one
hundred and twenty millions claimed for her. As to the Burman Empire,
I, nor anybody else knows the truth. But, as to China, I have never for
a moment been moved by those ridiculous estimates of the flowery
people, which our simple countrymen copy. Instead of three hundred and
fifty millions, a third of the human race upon the most exaggerated
estimate, read eighty or one hundred millions at most. Africa, as it
regards religion, counts for a cipher. Europe, America, and the half of
Asia, as to space, are Christian. Consequently, the total _facit_,
as regards Christianity, is not what many amiable infidels make it to
be. My dears, your wish was father to that thought.] of this world,
shall have been the law that overrides the whole. That consummation is
not immeasurably distant. Even now, from considerations connected with
China, with New Zealand, Borneo, Australia, we may say, that already
the fields are white for harvest. But alas! the interval is brief
between Christianity small, and Christianity great, as regards space or
terraqueous importance, compared with that interval which separates
Christianity formally professed, from Christianity thankfully
acknowledged by universal man in beauty and power.

Here, therefore, is one spoke in the wheel for so vast a change as war
dethroned, viz., that you see no cause, though you should travel round
the whole horizon, adequate to so prodigious an effect. What could do
it? Why, Christianity could do it. Aye, true; but man disarms
Christianity. And no mock Christianity, no lip homage to Christianity,
will answer.

But is war, then, to go on for ever? Are we never to improve? Are
nations to conduct their intercourse eternally under the secret
understanding that an unchristian solution of all irreconcileable feuds
stands in the rear as the ultimate appeal? I answer that war, going on
even for ever, may still be for ever amending its modes and its results
upon human happiness; secondly, that we not only are under no fatal
arrest in our process of improvement, but that, as regards war, history
shows how steadily we _have_ been improving; and, thirdly, that
although war may be irreversible as the last resource, this last
resource may constantly be retiring further into the rear. Let us speak
to this last point. War is the last resource only, because other and
more intellectual resources for solving disputes are not available. And
_why_ are they not? Simply, because the knowledge, and the logic,
which ultimately will govern the case, and the very circumstances of
the case itself in its details, as the basis on which this knowledge
and logic are to operate, happen not to have been sufficiently
developed. A code of law is not a spasmodic effort of gigantic talent
in any one man or any one generation; it is a slow growth of accidents
and occasions expanding with civilization; dependent upon time as a
multiform element in its development; and presupposing often a
concurrent growth of _analogous_ cases towards the completion of
its system. For instance, the law which regulates the rights of
shipping, seafaring men, and maritime commerce--how slow was its
development! Before such works as the _Consolato del Mare_ had
been matured, how wide must have been the experience, and how slow its
accumulation! During that long period of infancy for law, how many must
have been the openings for ignorant and unintentional injustice! How
differently, again, will the several parties to any transaction
construe the rights of the case! Discussion, without rules for guiding
it, will but embitter the dispute. And in the absence of all guidance
from the intellect, gradually weaving a _common_ standard of
international appeal, it is clear that nations _must_ fight, and
_ought_ to fight. Not being convinced, it is base to pretend that
you _are_ convinced; and failing to be convinced by your neighbor's
arguments, you confess yourself a poltroon (and moreover you
_invite_ injuries from every neighbor) if you pocket your wrongs.
The only course in such a case is to thump your neighbor, and to thump
him soundly for the present. This treatment is very serviceable to your
neighbor's optics; he sees things in a new light after a sufficient
course of so distressing a regimen. But mark, even in this case, war
has no tendency to propagate war, but tends to the very opposite
result. To thump is as costly, and in other ways as painful, as to
_be_ thumped. The evil to both sides arises in an undeveloped
state of law. If rights were defined by a well considered code growing
out of long experience, each party sees that this scourge of war would
continually tend to limit itself. Consequently the very necessity of
war becomes the strongest invitation to that system of judicial logic
which forms its sole limitation. But all war whatsoever stands in these
circumstances. It follows that all war whatever, unless on the brutal
principle of a Spartan warfare, that made war its own sufficient object
and self-justification, operates as a perpetual bounty offered to men
upon the investigation and final adjudication of those disputed cases
through which war prospers. Hence it is, viz., because the true
boundaries of reciprocal rights are for ever ascertaining themselves
more clearly, that war is growing less frequent. The fields open to
injustice (which originally from pure ignorance are so vast)
continually (through deeper and more expansive surveys by man's
intellect--searching--reflecting--comparing) are narrowing themselves;
narrowing themselves in this sense, that all nations under a common
centre of religious civilization, as Christendom suppose, or Islamism,
would not fight--no, and would not (by the national sense of wrong and
right) be permitted to fight--in a cause _confessedly_ condemned
by equity as now developed. The causes of war that still remain, are
causes on which international law is silent--that large arrear of cases
as yet unsettled; or else they are cases in which though law speaks
with an authentic voice, it speaks in vain, because the circumstances
are doubtful; so that, if the law is fixed as a lamp nailed to a wall,
yet the _incidence_ of the law on the particular circumstances,
becomes as doubtful as the light of the lamp upon objects that are
capriciously moving. We see all this illustrated in a class of cases
that powerfully illustrate the good and the bad in war, the why and the
wherefore, as likewise the why _not_, and therefore I presume the
wherefore _not_; and this class of cases belongs to the _lex
vicinitatis_. In the Roman law this section makes a great figure.
And speaking accurately, it makes a greater in our own. But the reason
why this _law of neighborhood_ seems to fill so much smaller a
section in ours, is because in English law, being _positively_ a
longer section, _negatively_ to the whole compass of our law, it
is less. The Roman law would have paved a road to the moon. And what is
_that_ expressed in time? Let us see: a railway train, worked at
the speed of the Great Western Express, accomplishes easily a thousand
miles in twenty-four hours; consequently in two hundred and forty days
or eight months it would run into the moon with its buffers, and break
up the quarters of that Robinson Crusoe who (and without any Friday) is
the only policeman that parades that little pensive appendage or tender
to our fuming engine of an earth. But the English law--oh frightful
reader, don't even think of such a question as its relation in space
and time to the Roman law. That it would stretch to the fixed stars is
plain, but to which of them,--don't now, dear persecuting reader,
unsettle our brains by asking. Enough it is that both in Roman and
English law the rights of neighborhood are past measuring. Has a man a
right to play the German flute, where the partitions are slender, all
day long in the house adjoining to yours? Or, supposing a beneficent
jury (beneficent to _him_) finds this to be no legal nuisance, has
he a right to play it ill? Or, because juries, when tipsy, will wink at
anything, does the privilege extend to the jew's-harp? to the poker and
tongs? to the marrowbones and cleavers? Or, without ranging through the
whole of the _Spectator's_ culinary music, will the bagpipes be
found within benefit of jury law? _War to the knife_ I say, before
we'll submit to _that_. And if the law won't protect us against
it, then we'll turn rebels.

Now this law of neighborhood, this _lex vicinitatis_, amongst the
Romans, righted itself and settled itself, as amongst ourselves it
continues to do, by means of actions or legal suits. If a man poisons
us with smoke, we compel him by an action to eat his own smoke, or (if
he chooses) to make his chimneys eat it. Here you see is a transmuted
war; in a barbarous state, fire and sword would have avenged this
invasion of smoke; but amongst civilized men, paper bullets in the form
of _Qui tam_ and _Scire facias_, beat off the enemy. And on the same
principle, exactly as the law of international rights clears up its
dark places, war gradually narrows its grounds, and the _jus gentium_
defines itself through national attorneys, _i. e._, diplomatists.

For instance, now I have myself seen a case where a man cultivating a
flower-garden, and distressed for some deliverance from his rubbish of
dead leaves, litter, straw, stones, took the desperate resolution of
projecting the whole upon his neighbor's flower-garden. I, a chance
spectator of the outrage, knew too much of this world to lodge any
protest against it, on the principle of mere abstract justice; so it
would have passed unnoticed, but for the accident that his injured
neighbor unexpectedly raised up his head above the dividing wall, and
reproached the aggressor with his unprincipled conduct. This aggressor,
adding evil to evil, suggested as the natural remedy for his own wrong,
that the sufferer should pass the nuisance onwards to the garden next
beyond him; from which it might be posted forward on the same
principle. The aggrieved man, however, preferred passing it back,
without any discount to the original proprietor. Here now, is a ripe
case, a _causa teterrima_, for war between the parties, and for a
national war had the parties been nations. In fact, the very same
injury, in a more aggravated shape, is perpetrated from time to time by
Jersey upon ourselves, and would, upon a larger scale, right itself by
war. Convicts are costly to maintain; and Jersey, whose national
revenue is limited, being too well aware of this, does us the favor to
land upon the coasts of Hampshire, Dorset, &c., all the criminals whom
she cannot summarily send back to self-support, at each jail-delivery.
'What are we to do in England?' is the natural question propounded by
the injured scoundrels, when taking leave of their Jersey escort.
'Anything you please,' is the answer: 'rise if you can, to be dukes:
only never come back hither; since, dukes or _no_ dukes, to the
rest of Christendom, to _us_ of the Channel Islands you will
always be transported felons.' There is therefore a good right of
action, _i.e._, a good ground of war, against Jersey, on the part
of Great Britain, since, besides the atrocious injury inflicted, this
unprincipled little island has the audacity to regard our England, (all
Europe looking on,) as existing only for the purposes of a sewer or
cess-pool to receive _her_ impurities. Some time back I remember a
Scottish newspaper holding up the case as a newly discovered horror in
the social system. But, in a quiet way Jersey has always been engaged
in this branch of exportation, and rarely fails to 'run' a cargo of
rogues upon our shore, once or so in the season. What amuses one
besides, in this Scottish denunciation of the villany, is, that
Scotland [Footnote: To banish them 'forth of the kingdom,' was the
_euphuismus_; but the reality understood was--to carry the knaves,
like foxes in a bag, to the English soil, and there unbag them for
English use.] of old, pursued the very same mode of jail-delivery as to
knaves that were not thought ripe enough for hanging: she carted them
to the English border, unchained them, and hurried them adrift into the
wilderness, saying--Now, boys, shift for yourselves, and henceforth
plunder none but Englishmen.

What I deduce from all this is, that as the feuds arising between
individuals under the relation of neighbors, are so far from tending to
a hostile result, that, on the contrary, as coming under a rule of law
already ascertained, or furnishing the basis for a new rule, they
gradually tighten the cords which exclude all opening for quarrel; not
otherwise is the result, and therefore the usefulness, of war amongst
nations. All the causes of war, the occasions upon which it is likely
to arise, the true and the ostensible motives, are gradually evolved,
are examined, searched, valued, by publicists; and by such means, in
the further progress of men, a comprehensive law of nations will
finally be accumulated, not such as now passes for international law,
(a worthless code that _has_ no weight in the practice of nations,
nor deserves any,) but one which will exhaust the great body of cases
under which wars have arisen under the Christian era, and gradually
collect a public opinion of Christendom upon the nature of each
particular case. The causes that _have_ existed for war are the
causes that _will_ exist; or, at least, they are the same under
modifications that will simply vary the rule, as our law cases in the
courts are every day circumstantiating the particular statute
concerned. At this stage of advance, and when a true European opinion
has been created, a '_sensus communis_,' or community of feeling
on the main classifications of wars, it will become possible to erect a
real Areopagus, or central congress for all Christendom, not with any
commission to suppress wars,--a policy which would neutralize itself by
reacting as a fresh cause of war, since high-spirited nations would arm
for the purpose of resisting such decrees; but with the purpose and the
effect of oftentimes healing local or momentary animosities, and also
by publishing the opinion of Europe, assembled in council, with the
effect of taking away the shadow of dishonor from the act of retiring
from war. Not to mention that the mere delay, involved in the waiting
for the solemn opinion of congress, would always be friendly to pacific
councils. But _would_ the belligerents wait? That concession might
be secured by general exchange of treaties, in the same way that the
cooperation of so many nations has been secured to the suppression of
the trade in slaves. And one thing is clear, that when all the causes
of war, involving _manifest_ injustice, are banished by the force
of European opinion, focally converged upon the subject, the range of
war will be prodigiously circumscribed. The costliness of war, which,
for various reasons has been continually increasing since the feudal
period, will operate as another limitation upon its field, concurring
powerfully with the public declaration from a council of collective

There is, besides, a distinct and separate cause of war, more fatal to
the possibilities of peace in Europe than open injustice; and this
cause being certainly in the hands of nations to deal with as they
please, there is a tolerable certainty that a congress _sincerely_
pacific would cut it up by the roots. It is a cause noticed by Kant in
his Essay on Perpetual Peace, and with great sagacity, though otherwise
that little work is not free from visionary self-delusions: and this
cause lies in the diplomacy of Europe. Treaties of peace are so
constructed, as almost always to sow the seeds of future wars. This
seems to the inexperienced reader a matter of carelessness or laxity in
the choice of expression; and sometimes it may have been so; but more
often it has been done under the secret dictation of powerful courts--
making peaces only as truces, anxious only for time to nurse their
energies, and to keep open some plausible call for war. This is not
only amongst the most extensive causes of war, but the very worst:
because it gives a colorable air of justice, and almost of necessity to
a war, which is, in fact, the most outrageously unjust, as being
derived from a pretext silently prepared in former years, with mere
subtlety of malice: it is a war growing out of occasions, forged
beforehand, lest no occasions should spontaneously arise. Now, this
cause of war could and would be healed by a congress, and through an
easy reform in European diplomacy.[Footnote: One great _nidus_ of
this insidious preparation for war under the very masque of peace,
which Kant, from brevity, has failed to particularize, lies in the
neglecting to make any provision for cases that are likely enough to
arise. A, B, C, D, are all equally possible, but the treaty provides a
specific course of action only for A, suppose. Then upon B or C
arising, the high contracting parties, though desperately and equally
pacific, find themselves committed to war actually by a treaty of
lasting peace. Their pacific majesties sigh, and say--Alas! that it
should be so, but really fight we must, for what says the treaty?]

It is the strongest confirmation of the power inherent in growing
civilization, to amend war, and to narrow the field of war, if we look
back for the records of the changes in this direction which have
already arisen in generations before our own.

The most careless reviewer of history can hardly fail to read a rude
outline of progress made by men in the rights, and consequently in the
duties of war through the last twenty-five centuries. It is a happy
circumstance for man--that oftentimes he is led by pure selfishness
into reforms, the very same as high principle would have prompted; and
in the next stage of his advance, when once habituated to an improved
code of usages, he begins to find a gratification to his sensibilities,
(partly luxurious sensibilities, but partly moral,) in what originally
had been a mere movement of self-interest. Then comes a third stage, in
which having thoroughly reconciled himself to a better order of things,
and made it even necessary to his own comfort, at length he begins in
his reflecting moments to perceive a moral beauty and a fitness in
arrangements that had emanated from accidents of convenience, so that
finally he generates a sublime pleasure of conscientiousness out of
that which originally commenced in the meanest forms of mercenary
convenience. A Roman lady of rank, out of mere voluptuous regard to her
own comfort, revolted from the harsh clamors of eternal chastisements
inflicted on her numerous slaves; she forbade them; the grateful slaves
showed their love for her; gradually and unintentionally she trained
her feelings, when thus liberated from a continual temptation to the
sympathies with cruelty, into a demand for gentler and purer
excitement. Her purpose had been one of luxury; but, by the benignity
of nature still watching for ennobling opportunities, the actual result
was a development given to the higher capacities of her heart. In the
same way, when the brutal right (and in many circumstances the brutal
duty) of inflicting death upon prisoners taken in battle, had exchanged
itself for the profits of ransom or slavery, this relaxation of
ferocity (though commencing in selfishness) gradually exalted itself
into a habit of mildness, and some dim perception of a sanctity in
human life. The very vice of avarice ministered to the purification of
barbarism; and the very evil of slavery in its earliest form was
applied to the mitigation of another evil--war conducted in the spirit
of piratical outrage. The commercial instincts of men having worked one
set of changes in war, a second set of changes was prompted by
instincts derived from the arts of ornament and pomp. Splendor of arms,
of banners, of equipages, of ceremonies, and the elaborate forms of
intercourse with enemies through conferences, armistices, treaties of
peace, &c., having tamed the savagery of war into connection with modes
of intellectual grandeur, and with the endless restraints of
superstition or scrupulous religion,--a permanent light of civilization
began to steal over the bloody shambles of buccaneering warfare. Other
modes of harmonizing influences arose more directly from the bosom of
war itself. Gradually the mere practice of war, and the culture of war
though merely viewed as a rude trade of bloodshed, ripened into an
intellectual art. Were it merely with a view to more effectual carnage,
this art (however simple and gross at first) opened at length into wide
scientific arts, into strategies, into tactics, into castrametation,
into poliorcetics, and all the processes through which the first rude
efforts of martial cunning finally connect themselves with the
exquisite resources of science. War, being a game in which each side
forces the other into the instant adoption of all improvements through
the mere necessities of self-preservation, became continually more

It is interesting to observe the steps by which, were it only through
impulses of self-conservation, and when searching with a view to more
effectual destructiveness, war did and must refine itself from a horrid
trade of butchery into a magnificent and enlightened science. Starting
from no higher impulse or question than how to cut throats most
rapidly, most safely, and on the largest scale, it has issued even at
our own stage of advance into a science, magnificent, oftentimes
ennobling, and cleansed from all horrors except those which (not being
within man's power utterly to divorce from it) no longer stand out as
reproaches to his humanity.

Meantime a more circumstantial review of war, in relation to its
motives and the causes assigned for its justification, would expose a
series of changes greater perhaps than the reader is aware of. Such a
review, which would too much lengthen a single paper, may or may not
form the subject of a second. And I will content myself with saying, as
a closing remark, that this review will detect a principle of steady
advance in the purification and elevation of war--such as must offer
hope to those who believe in the possibility of its absolute
extermination, and must offer consolation to those who (like myself)
deny it.


I take it for granted that every person of education will acknowledge
some interest in the personal history of Immanuel Kant. A great man,
though in an unpopular path, must always be an object of liberal
curiosity. To suppose a reader thoroughly indifferent to Kant, is to
suppose him thoroughly unintellectual; and, therefore, though in
reality he should happen _not_ to regard him with interest, it is
one of the fictions of courtesy to presume that he does. On this
principle I make no apology to the reader for detaining him upon a
short sketch of Kant's life and domestic habits, drawn from the
authentic records of his friends and pupils. It is true, that, without
any illiberality on the part of the public in this country, the
_works_ of Kant are not regarded with the same interest which has
gathered about his _name_; and this may be attributed to three
causes--first, to the language in which they are written; secondly, to
the supposed obscurity of the philosophy which they teach, whether
intrinsic or due to Kant's particular mode of expounding it; thirdly,
to the unpopularity of all speculative philosophy, no matter how
treated, in a country where the structure and tendency of society
impress upon the whole activities of the nation a direction exclusively
practical. But, whatever may be the immediate fortunes of his writings,
no man of enlightened curiosity will regard the author himself without
something of a profounder interest. Measured by one test of power,
viz., by the number of books written directly for or against himself,
to say nothing of those which he has indirectly modified, there is no
philosophic writer whatsoever, if we except Aristotle, who can pretend
to approach Kant in the extent of the influence which he has exercised
over the minds of men. Such being his claims upon our notice, I repeat
that it is no more than a reasonable act of respect to the reader--to
presume in him so much interest about Kant as will justify a sketch of
his life.

Immanuel Kant, [Footnote: By the paternal side, the family of Kant was
of Scotch derivation; and hence it is that the name was written by Kant
the father--_Cant_, that being a Scotch name, and still to be found
in Scotland. But Immanuel, though he always cherished his Scotch
descent, substituted a _K_ for a _C_, in order to adapt it better
to the analogies of the German language.] the second of six
children, was born at Königsberg, in Prussia, a city at that time
containing about fifty thousand inhabitants, on the 22d of April, 1724.
His parents were people of humble rank, and not rich even for their own
station, but able (with some assistance from a near relative, and a
trifle in addition from a gentleman, who esteemed them for their piety
and domestic virtues,) to give their son Immanuel a liberal education.
He was sent when a child to a charity school; and, in the year 1732,
removed to the Royal (or Frederician) Academy. Here he studied the
Greek and Latin classics, and formed an intimacy with one of his
schoolfellows, David Ruhnken, (afterwards so well known to scholars
under his Latin name of Ruhn-kenius,) which lasted until the death of
the latter. In 1737, Kant lost his mother, a woman of excellent
character, and of accomplishments and knowledge beyond her rank, who
contributed to the future eminence of her illustrious son by the
direction which she gave to his youthful thoughts, and by the elevated
morals to which she trained him. Kant never spoke of her to the end of
his life without the utmost tenderness, and acknowledgment of his great
obligations to her maternal care. In 1740, at Michælmas, he entered the
University of Königsberg. In 1746, when about twenty-two years old, he
printed his first work, upon a question partly mathematical and partly
philosophic, viz., the valuation of living forces. The question had
been first moved by Leibnitz, in opposition to the Cartesians, and was
here finally settled, after having occupied most of the great
mathematicians of Europe for more than half a century. It was dedicated
to the King of Prussia, but never reached him--having, in fact, never
been published. [Footnote: To this circumstance we must attribute its
being so little known amongst the philosophers and mathematicians of
foreign countries, and also the fact that D'Alembert, whose philosophy
was miserably below his mathematics, many years afterwards still
continued to represent the dispute as a verbal one.] From this time
until 1770, he supported himself as a private tutor in different
families, or by giving private lectures in Königsberg, especially to
military men on the art of fortification. In 1770, he was appointed to
the Chair of Mathematics, which he exchanged soon after for that of
Logic and Metaphysics. On this occasion, he delivered an inaugural
disputation--[_De Mundi Sensibilis atque Intelligibilis Forma et
Principiis_]--which is remarkable for containing the first germs of
the Transcendental Philosophy. In 1781, he published his great work,
the _Critik der Reinen Vernunft,_ or _Investigation of the Pure
Reason_. On February 12, 1804, he died.

These are the great epochs of Kant's life. But his was a life
remarkable not so much for its incidents, as for the purity and
philosophic dignity of its daily tenor; and of this the best impression
will be obtained from Wasianski's account of his last years, checked
and supported by the collateral testimonies of Jachmann, Rink,
Borowski, and other biographers. We see him here struggling with the
misery of decaying faculties, and with the pain, depression, and
agitation of two different complaints, one affecting his stomach, and
the other his head; over all which the benignity and nobility of his
mind are seen victoriously eminent to the last. The principal defect of
this and all other memoirs of Kant is, that they report too little of
his conversation and opinions. And perhaps the reader will be disposed
to complain, that some of the notices are too minute and
circumstantial, so as to be at one time undignified, and at another
unfeeling. As to the first objection, it may be answered, that
biographical gossip of this sort, and ungentlemanly scrutiny into a
man's private life, though not what a man of honor would choose to
write, may be read without blame; and, where a great man is the
subject, sometimes with advantage. With respect to the other objection,
I know not how to excuse Mr. Wasianski for kneeling at the bed-side of
his dying friend, to record, with the accuracy of a short-hand
reporter, the last flutter of his pulse and the struggles of expiring
nature, except by supposing that the idea of Kant, as a person
belonging to all ages, in his mind transcended and extinguished the
ordinary restraints of human sensibility, and that, under this
impression, he gave _that_ to his sense of a public duty which, it
may be hoped, he would willingly have declined on the impulse of his
private affections.

_The following paper on The Last Days of Kant, is gathered from the
German of Wasianski, Jachmann, Borowski, and others._

My knowledge of Professor Kant began long before the period to which
this little memorial of him chiefly refers. In the year 1773, or 1774,
I cannot exactly remember which, I attended his lectures. Afterwards, I
acted as his amanuensis; and in that office was naturally brought into
a closer connection with him than any other of his pupils; so that,
without any request on my part, he granted me a general privilege of
free admission to his class-room. In 1780 I took orders, and withdrew
myself from all connection with the university. I still continued,
however, to reside in Königsberg; but wholly forgotten, or wholly
unnoticed at least, by Kant. Ten years afterwards, (that is to say, in
1790,) I met him by accident at a party given on occasion of the
marriage of one of the professors. At table, Kant distributed his
conversation and attentions pretty generally; but after the
entertainment, when the company broke up into parties, he came and
seated himself very obligingly by my side. I was at that time a
florist--an amateur, I mean, from the passion I had for flowers; upon
learning which, he talked of my favorite pursuit, and with very
extensive information. In the course of our conversation, I was
surprised to find that he was perfectly acquainted with all the
circumstances of my situation. He reminded me of our previous
connection; expressed his satisfaction at finding that I was happy; and
was so good as to desire that, if my engagements allowed me, I would
now and then come and dine with him. Soon after this, he rose to take
his leave; and, as our road lay the same way, he proposed to me that I
should accompany him home. I did so, and received an invitation for the
next week, with a general invitation for every week after, and
permission to name my own day. At first I was unable to explain the
distinction with which Kant had treated me; and I conjectured that some
obliging friend had spoken of me in his hearing, somewhat more
advantageously than I could pretend to deserve; but more intimate
experience has convinced me that he was in the habit of making
continual inquiries after the welfare of his former pupils, and was
heartily rejoiced to hear of their prosperity. So that it appeared I
was wrong in thinking he had forgotten me.

This revival of my intimacy with Professor Kant, coincided pretty
nearly, in point of time, with a complete change in his domestic
arrangements. Up to this period it had been his custom to eat at a
_table d'hôte_. But he now began to keep house himself, and every
day invited two friends to dine with him, and upon any little festival
from five to eight; for he was a punctual observer of Lord
Chesterfield's rule--that his dinner party, himself included, should
not fall below the number of the Graces--nor exceed that of the Muses.
In the whole economy of his household arrangements, and especially of
his dinner parties, there was something peculiar and amusingly opposed
to the usual conventional restraints of society; not, however, that
there was any neglect of decorum, such as sometimes occurs in houses
where there are no ladies to impress a better tone upon the manners.
The invariable routine was this: The moment that dinner was ready,
Lampe, the professor's old footman, stepped into the study with a
certain measured air, and announced it. This summons was obeyed at the
pace of double quick time--Kant talking all the way to the eating-room
about the state of the weather [Footnote: His reason for which was,
that he considered the weather one of the principal forces which act
upon the health; and his own frame was exquisitely sensible to all
atmospheric influences.]--a subject which he usually pursued during the
earlier part of the dinner. Graver themes, such as the political events
of the day, were never introduced before dinner, or at all in his
study. The moment that Kant had taken his seat, and unfolded his
napkin, he opened the business of dinner with a particular formula--
'_Now, then, gentlemen!_' and the tone and air with which he
uttered these words, proclaimed, in a way which nobody could mistake,
relaxation from the toils of the morning, and determinate abandonment
of himself to social enjoyment. The table was hospitably spread; three
dishes, wine, &c., with a small second course, composed the dinner.
Every person helped himself; and all delays of ceremony were so
disagreeable to Kant, that he seldom failed to express his displeasure
with anything of that sort, though not angrily. He was displeased also
if people ate little; and treated it as affectation. The first man to
help himself was in his eyes the politest guest; for so much the sooner
came his own turn. For this hatred of delay, Kant had a special excuse,
having always worked hard from an early hour in the morning, and eaten
nothing until dinner. Hence it was, that in the latter period of his
life, though less perhaps from actual hunger than from some uneasy
sensation of habit or periodical irritation of stomach, he could hardly
wait with patience for the arrival of the last person invited.

There was no friend of Kant's but considered the day on which he was to
dine with him as a day of pleasure. Without giving himself the air of
an instructor, Kant really was so in the very highest degree. The whole
entertainment was seasoned with the overflow of his enlightened mind,
poured out naturally and unaffectedly upon every topic, as the chances
of conversation suggested it; and the time flew rapidly away, from one
o'clock to four, five, or even later, profitably and delightfully. Kant
tolerated no _calms_, which was the name he gave to the momentary
pauses in conversation, or periods when its animation languished. Some
means or other he always devised for restoring its tone of interest, in
which he was much assisted by the tact with which he drew from every
guest his peculiar tastes, or the particular direction of his pursuits;
and on these, be they what they might, he was never unprepared to speak
with knowledge, and the interest of an original observer. The local
affairs of Königsberg must have been interesting indeed, before they
could be allowed to occupy the attention at _his_ table. And, what
may seem still more singular, it was rarely or never that he directed
the conversation to any branch of the philosophy founded by himself.
Indeed he was perfectly free from the fault which besets so many
_savans_ and _literati_, of intolerance towards those whose
pursuits had disqualified them for any particular sympathy with his
own. His style of conversation was popular in the highest degree, and
unscholastic; so much so, that any stranger who should have studied his
works, and been unacquainted with his person, would have found it
difficult to believe, that in this delightful companion he saw the
profound author of the Transcendental Philosophy.

The subjects of conversation at Kant's table were drawn chiefly from
natural philosophy, chemistry, meteorology, natural history, and above
all, from politics. The news of the day, as reported in the public
journals, was discussed with a peculiar vigilance of examination. With
regard to any narrative that wanted dates of time and place, however
otherwise plausible, he was uniformly an inexorable sceptic, and held
it unworthy of repetition. So keen was his penetration into the
interior of political events, and the secret policy under which they
moved, that he talked rather with the authority of a diplomatic person
who had access to cabinet intelligence, than as a simple spectator of
the great scenes which were unfolding in Europe. At the time of the
French Revolution, he threw out many conjectures, and what were then
accounted paradoxical anticipations, especially in regard to military
operations, which were as punctually fulfilled as his own memorable
conjecture in regard to the hiatus in the planetary system between Mars
and Jupiter,[Footnote: To which the author should have added--and in
regard to the hiatus between the planetary and cometary systems, which
was pointed out by Kant several years before his conjecture was
established by the good telescope of Dr. Herschel. Vesta and Juno,
further confirmations of Kant's conjecture, were discovered in June
1804, when Wasianski wrote.] the entire confirmation of which he lived
to witness on the discovery of Ceres by Piazzi, in Palermo, and of
Pallas, by Dr. Olbers, at Bremen. These two discoveries, by the way,
impressed him much; and they furnished a topic on which he always
talked with pleasure; though, according to his usual modesty, he never
said a word of his own sagacity in having upon _à priori_ grounds
shown the probability of such discoveries many years before.

It was not only in the character of a companion that Kant shone, but
also as a most courteous and liberal host, who had no greater pleasure
than in seeing his guests happy and jovial, and rising with exhilarated
spirits from the mixed pleasures--intellectual and liberally sensual--
of his Platonic banquets. Chiefly, perhaps, with a view to the
sustaining of this tone of genial hilarity, he showed himself somewhat
of an artist in the composition of his dinner parties. Two rules there
were which he obviously observed, and I may say invariably: the first
was, that the company should be miscellaneous; this for the sake of
securing sufficient variety to the conversation: and accordingly his
parties presented as much variety as the world of Königsberg afforded,
being drawn from all the modes of life, men in office, professors,
physicians, clergymen, and enlightened merchants. His second rule was,
to have a due balance of _young_ men, frequently of _very_ young
men, selected from the students of the university, in order to
impress a movement of gaiety and juvenile playfulness on the
conversation; an additional motive for which, as I have reason to
believe, was, that in this way he withdrew his mind from the sadness
which sometimes overshadowed it, for the early deaths of some young
friends whom he loved.

And this leads me to mention a singular feature in Kant's way of
expressing his sympathy with his friends in sickness. So long as the
danger was imminent, he testified a restless anxiety, made perpetual
inquiries, waited with patience for the crisis, and sometimes could not
pursue his customary labors from agitation of mind. But no sooner was
the patient's death announced, than he recovered his composure, and
assumed an air of stern tranquillity--almost of indifference. The
reason was, that he viewed life in general, and therefore, that
particular affection of life which we call sickness, as a state of
oscillation and perpetual change, between which and the fluctuating
sympathies of hope and fear, there was a natural proportion that
justified them to the reason; whereas death, as a permanent state that
admitted of no _more_ or _less_, that terminated all anxiety, and
for ever extinguished the agitation of suspense, he would not allow
to be fitted to any state of feeling, but one of the same enduring and
unchanging character. However, all this philosophic heroism gave way on
one occasion; for many persons will remember the tumultuous grief which
he manifested upon the death of Mr. Ehrenboth, a young man of very fine
understanding and extensive attainments, for whom he had the greatest
affection. And naturally it happened, in so long a life as his, in
spite of his provident rule for selecting his social companions as much
as possible amongst the young, that he had to mourn for many a heavy
loss that could never be supplied to him.

To return, however, to the course of his day, immediately after the
termination of his dinner party, Kant walked out for exercise; but on
this occasion he never took any companion, partly, perhaps, because he
thought it right, after so much convivial and colloquial relaxation, to
pursue his meditations,[Footnote: Mr. Wasianski is wrong. To pursue his
meditations under these circumstances, might perhaps be an inclination
of Kant's to which he yielded, but not one which he would justify or
erect into a maxim. He disapproved of eating alone, or _solipsismus
convictorii_, as he calls it, on the principle, that a man would be
apt, if not called off by the business and pleasure of a social party,
to think too much or too closely, an exercise which he considered very
injurious to the stomach during the first process of digestion. On the
same principle he disapproved of walking or riding alone; the double
exercise of thinking and bodily agitation, carried on at the same time,
being likely, as he conceived, to press too hard upon the stomach.] and
partly (as I happen to know) for a very peculiar reason, viz., that he
wished to breathe exclusively through his nostrils, which he could not
do if he were obliged continually to open his mouth in conversation.
His reason for this was, that the atmospheric air, being thus carried
round by a longer circuit, and reaching the lungs, therefore, in a
state of less rawness, and at a temperature somewhat higher, would be
less apt to irritate them. By a steady perseverance in this practice,
which he constantly recommended to his friends, he flattered himself
with a long immunity from coughs, colds, hoarseness, and every mode of
defluxion; and the fact really was, that these troublesome affections
attacked him very rarely. Indeed I myself, by only occasionally
adopting his rule, have found my chest not so liable as formerly to
such attacks.

At six o'clock he sat down to his library table, which was a plain
ordinary piece of furniture, and read till dusk. During this period of
dubious light, so friendly to thought, he rested in tranquil meditation
on what he had been reading, provided the book were worth it; if not,
he sketched his lecture for the next day, or some part of any book he
might then be composing. During this state of repose he took his
station winter and summer by the stove, looking through the window at
the old tower of Lobenicht; not that he could be said properly to see
it, but the tower rested upon his eye,--obscurely, or but half revealed
to his consciousness. No words seemed forcible enough to express his
sense of the gratification which he derived from this old tower, when
seen under these circumstances of twilight and quiet reverie. The
sequel, indeed, showed how important it was to his comfort; for at
length some poplars in a neighboring garden shot up to such a height as
to obscure the tower, upon which Kant became very uneasy and restless,
and at length found himself positively unable to pursue his evening
meditations. Fortunately, the proprietor of the garden was a very
considerate and obliging person, who had, besides, a high regard for
Kant; and, accordingly, upon a representation of the case being made to
him, he gave orders that the poplars should be cropped. This was done,
the old tower of Lobenicht was again unveiled, and Kant recovered his
equanimity, and pursued his twilight meditations as before.

After the candles were brought, Kant prosecuted his studies till nearly
ten o'clock. A quarter of an hour before retiring for the night, he
withdrew his mind as much as possible from every class of thoughts
which demanded any exertion or energy of attention, on the principle,
that by stimulating and exciting him too much, such thoughts would be
apt to cause wakefulness; and the slightest interference with his
customary hour of falling asleep, was in the highest degree unpleasant
to him. Happily, this was with him a very rare occurrence. He undressed
himself without his servant's assistance, but in such an order, and
with such a Roman regard to decorum and the _to prepon_, that he
was always ready at a moment's warning to make his appearance without
embarrassment to himself or to others. This done, he lay down on a
mattress, and wrapped himself up in a quilt, which in summer was always
of cotton,--in autumn, of wool; at the setting-in of winter he used
both--and against very severe cold, he protected himself by one of
eider-down, of which the part which covered his shoulders was not
stuffed with feathers, but padded, or rather wadded closely with layers
of wool. Long practice had taught him a very dexterous mode of
_nesting_ himself, as it were, in the bed-clothes. First of all,
he sat down on the bedside; then with an agile motion he vaulted
obliquely into his lair; next he drew one corner of the bedclothes
under his left shoulder, and passing it below his back, brought it
round so as to rest under his right shoulder; fourthly, by a particular
_tour d'adresse_, he treated the other corner in the same way, and
finally contrived to roll it round his whole person. Thus swathed like
a mummy, or (as I used to tell him) self-involved like the silk-worm in
its cocoon, he awaited the approach of sleep, which generally came on
immediately. For Kant's health was exquisite; not mere negative health,
or the absence of pain, but a state of positive pleasurable sensation,
and a genial sense of the entire possession of all his activities.
Accordingly, when packed up for the night in the way I have described,
he would often ejaculate to himself (as he used to tell us at dinner)--
'Is it possible to conceive a human being with more perfect health than
myself?' In fact, such was the innocence of his life, and such the
happy condition of his situation, that no uneasy passion ever arose to
excite him--nor care to harass--nor pain to awake him. Even in the
severest winter his sleeping-room was without a fire; only in his
latter years he yielded so far to the entreaties of his friends as to
allow of a very small one. All nursing or self-indulgence found no
quarter with Kant. In fact, five minutes, in the coldest weather,
sufficed to supersede the first chill of the bed, by the diffusion of a
general glow over his person. If he had any occasion to leave his room
in the night-time, (for it was always kept dark day and night, summer
and winter,) he guided himself by a rope, which was duly attached to
his bed-post every night, and carried into the adjoining apartment.

Kant never perspired, [Footnote: This appears less extraordinary,
considering the description of Kant's person, given originally by
Reichardt, about eight years after his death. 'Kant,' says this writer,
'was drier than dust both in body and mind. His person was small; and
possibly a more meagre, arid, parched anatomy of a man, has not
appeared upon this earth. The upper part of his face was grand;
forehead lofty and serene, nose elegantly turned, eyes brilliant and
penetrating; but below it expressed powerfully the coarsest sensuality,
which in him displayed itself by immoderate addiction to eating and
drinking.' This last feature of his temperament is here expressed much
too harshly.] night or day. Yet it was astonishing how much heat he
supported habitually in his study, and in fact was not easy if it
wanted but one degree of this heat. Seventy-five degrees of Fahrenheit
was the invariable temperature of this room in which he chiefly lived;
and if it fell below that point, no matter at what season of the year,
he had it raised artificially to the usual standard. In the heats of
summer he went thinly dressed, and invariably in silk stockings; yet,
as even this dress could not always secure him against perspiring when
engaged in active exercise, he had a singular remedy in reserve.
Retiring to some shady place, he stood still and motionless--with the
air and attitude of a person listening, or in suspense--until his usual
_aridity_ was restored. Even in the most sultry summer night, if
the slightest trace of perspiration had sullied his night-dress, he
spoke of it with emphasis, as of an accident that perfectly shocked

On this occasion, whilst illustrating Kant's notions of the animal
economy, it may be as well to add one other particular, which is, that
for fear of obstructing the circulation of the blood, he never would
wear garters; yet, as he found it difficult to keep up his stockings
without them, he had invented for himself a most elaborate substitute,
which I shall describe. In a little pocket, somewhat smaller than a
watch-pocket, but occupying pretty nearly the same situation as a
watch-pocket on each thigh, there was placed a small box, something
like a watch-case, but smaller; into this box was introduced a watch-
spring in a wheel, round about which wheel was wound an elastic cord,
for regulating the force of which there was a separate contrivance. To
the two ends of this cord were attached hooks, which hooks were carried
through a small aperture in the pockets, and so passing down the inner
and the outer side of the thigh, caught hold of two loops which were
fixed on the off side and the near side of each stocking. As might be
expected, so complex an apparatus was liable, like the Ptolemaic system
of the heavens, to occasional derangements; however, by good luck, I
was able to apply an easy remedy to these disorders which sometimes
threatened to disturb the comfort, and even the serenity, of the great

Precisely at five minutes before five o'clock, winter or summer, Lampe,
Kant's servant, who had formerly served in the army, marched into his
master's room with the air of a sentinel on duty, and cried aloud in a
military tone,--'Mr. Professor, the time is come.' This summons Kant
invariably obeyed without one moment's delay, as a soldier does the
word of command--never, under any circumstances, allowing himself a
respite, not even under the rare accident of having passed a sleepless
night. As the clock struck five, Kant was seated at the breakfast-
table, where he drank what he called _one_ cup of tea; and no
doubt he thought it such; but the fact was, that in part from his habit
of reverie, and in part also for the purpose of refreshing its warmth,
he filled up his cup so often, that in general he is supposed to have
drunk two, three, or some unknown number. Immediately after he smoked a
pipe of tobacco, (the only one which he allowed himself through the
entire day,) but so rapidly, that a pile of glowing embers remained
unsmoked. During this operation he thought over his arrangements for
the day, as he had done the evening before during the twilight. About
seven he usually went to his lecture-room, and from that he returned to
his writing-table. Precisely at three quarters before one he rose from
his chair, and called aloud to the cook,--'It has struck three
quarters.' The meaning of which summons was this:--Immediately after
taking soup, it was his constant practice to swallow what he called a
dram, which consisted either of Hungarian wine, of Rhenish, of a
cordial, or (in default of these) of Bishop. A flask of this was
brought up by the cook on the proclamation of the three quarters. Kant
hurried with it to the eating-room, poured out his _quantum_, left
it standing in readiness, covered, however, with paper, to prevent its
becoming vapid, and then went back to his study, and awaited the
arrival of his guests, whom to the latest period of his life he never
received but in full dress.

Thus we come round again to dinner, and the reader has now an accurate
picture of the course of Kant's day; the rigid monotony of which was
not burthensome to him; and probably contributed, with the uniformity
of his diet, and other habits of the same regularity, to lengthen his
life. On this consideration, indeed, he had come to regard his health
and his old age as in a great measure the product of his own exertions.
He spoke of himself often under the figure of a gymnastic artist, who
had continued for nearly fourscore years to support his balance upon
the slack-rope of life, without once swerving to the right or to the
left. In spite of every illness to which his constitutional tendencies
had exposed him, he still kept his position in life triumphantly.
However, he would sometimes observe sportively, that it was really
absurd, and a sort of insult to the next generation for a man to live
so long, because he thus interfered with the prospects of younger

This anxious attention to his health accounts for the great interest
which he attached to all new discoveries in medicine, or to new ways of
theorizing on the old ones. As a work of great pretension in both
classes, he set the highest value upon the theory of the Scotch
physician Brown, or (as it is usually called, from the Latin name of
its author,) the Brunonian Theory. No sooner had Weikard adopted
[Footnote: This theory was afterwards greatly modified in Germany; and,
judging from the random glances which I throw on these subjects, I
believe that in this recast it still keeps its ground in that country.]
and made it known in Germany, than Kant became familiar with it. He
considered it not only as a great step taken for medicine, but even for
the general interests of man, and fancied that in this he saw something
analogous to the course which human nature has held in still more
important inquiries, viz.: first of all, a continual ascent towards the
more and more elaborately complex, and then a treading back, on its own
steps, towards the simple and elementary. Dr. Beddoes's Essays, also,
for producing by art and curing pulmonary consumption, and the method
of Reich for curing fevers, made a powerful impression upon him; which,
however, declined as those novelties (especially the last) began to
sink in credit. As to Dr. Jenner's discovery of vaccination, he was
less favorably disposed to it; he apprehended dangerous consequences
from the absorption of a brutal miasma into the human blood, or at
least into the lymph; and at any rate he thought, that, as a guarantee
against the variolous infection, it required a much longer probation.
Groundless as all these views were, it was exceedingly entertaining to
hear the fertility of argument and analogy which he brought forward to
support them. One of the subjects which occupied him at the latter end
of his life, was the theory and phenomena of galvanism, which, however,
he never satisfactorily mastered. Augustin's book upon this subject was
about the last that he read, and his copy still retains on the margin
his, pencil-marks of doubts, queries and suggestions.

The infirmities of age now began to steal upon Kant, and betrayed
themselves in more shapes than one. Connected with Kant's prodigious
memory for all things that had any intellectual bearings, he had from
youth labored under an unusual weakness of this faculty in relation to
the common affairs of daily life. Some remarkable instances of this are
on record, from the period of his childish days; and now, when his
second childhood was commencing, this infirmity increased upon him very
sensibly. One of the first signs was, that he began to repeat the same
stories more than once on the same day. Indeed, the decay of his memory
was too palpable to escape his own notice; and, to provide against it,
and secure himself from all apprehension of inflicting tedium upon his
guests, he began to write a syllabus, or list of themes, for each day's
conversation, on cards, or the covers of letters, or any chance scrap
of paper. But these memoranda accumulated so fast upon him, and were so
easily lost, or not forthcoming at the proper moment, that I prevailed
on him to substitute a blank-paper book, which I had directed to be
made, and which still remains, with some affecting memorials of his own
conscious weakness. As often happens, however, in such cases, he had a
perfect memory for the remote events of his life, and could repeat with
great readiness, and without once stumbling, very long passages from
German or Latin poems, especially from the AEneid, whilst the very
words that had been uttered but a moment before dropped away from his
remembrance. The past came forward with the distinctness and liveliness
of an immediate existence, whilst the present faded away into the
obscurity of infinite distance.

Another sign of his mental decay was the weakness with which he now
began to theorize. He accounted for everything by electricity. A
singular mortality at this time prevailed amongst the cats of Vienna,
Basle, Copenhagen, and other places. Cats being so eminently an
electric animal, of course he attributed this epizootic to electricity.
During the same period, he persuaded himself that a peculiar
configuration of clouds prevailed; this he took as a collateral proof
of his electrical hypothesis. His own headaches, too, which in all
probability were a mere remote effect of old age, and a direct one of
an inability [Footnote: Mr. Wasianski is quite in the wrong here. If
the hindrances which nature presented to the act of thinking were now
on the increase, on the other hand, the disposition to think, by his
own acknowledgment, was on the wane. The power and the habit altering
in proportion, there is no case made out of that disturbed equilibrium
to which apparently he would attribute the headaches. But the fact is,
that, if he had been as well acquainted with Kant's writings as with
Kant personally, he would have known, that some affection of the head
of a spasmodic kind was complained of by Kant at a time when nobody
could suspect him of being in a decaying state.] to think as easily and
as severely as formerly, he explained upon the same principle. And this
was a notion of which his friends were not anxious to disabuse him,
because, as something of the same character of weather (and therefore
probably the same general tendency of the electric power) is found to
prevail for whole cycles of years, entrance upon another cycle held out
to him some prospect of relief. A delusion which secured the comforts
of hope was the next best thing to an actual remedy; and a man who, in
such circumstances, is cured of his delusion, '_cui demptus per vim
mentis gratissimus error_,' might reasonably have exclaimed,
'_Pol, me occidistis, amici._'

Possibly the reader may suppose, that, in this particular instance of
charging his own decays upon the state of the atmosphere, Kant was
actuated by the weakness of vanity, or some unwillingness to face the
real fact that his powers were decaying. But this was not the case. He
was perfectly aware of his own condition, and, as early as 1799, he
said, in my presence, to a party of his friends--'Gentlemen, I am old,
and weak, and childish, and you must treat me as a child.' Or perhaps
it may be thought that he shrank from the contemplation of death,
which, as apoplexy seemed to be threatened by the pains in his head,
might have happened any day. But neither was this the case. He now
lived in a continual state of resignation, and prepared to meet any
dispensation of Providence. 'Gentlemen,' said he one day to his guests,
'I do not fear to die. I assure you, as in the presence of God, that if
I were this night to be made suddenly aware that I was on the point of
being summoned, I would raise my hands to heaven, fold them, and say,
Blessed be God! If indeed it were possible that a whisper such as this
could reach my ear--Fourscore years thou hast lived, in which time thou
hast inflicted much evil upon thy fellow-men, the case would be
otherwise.' Whosoever has heard Kant speak of his own death, will bear
witness to the tone of earnest sincerity which, on such occasions,
marked his manner and utterance.

A third sign of his decaying faculties was, that he now lost all
accurate measure of time. One minute, nay, without exaggeration, a much
less space of time, stretched out in his apprehension of things to a
wearisome duration. Of this I can give one rather amusing instance,
which was of constant recurrence. At the beginning of the last year of
his life, he fell into a custom of taking immediately after dinner a
cup of coffee, especially on those days when it happened that I was of
his party. And such was the importance he attached to this little
pleasure, that he would even make a memorandum beforehand, in the
blank-paper book I had given him, that on the next day I was to dine
with him, and consequently that there was to be coffee. Sometimes it
would happen, that the interest of conversation carried him past the
time at which he felt the craving for it; and this I was not sorry to
observe, as I feared that coffee, which he had never been accustomed
to, [Footnote: How this happened to be the case in Germany, Mr.
Wasianski has not explained. Perhaps the English merchants at
Königsberg, being amongst Kant's oldest and most intimate friends, had
early familiarized him to the practice of drinking tea, and to other
English tastes. However, Jachmann tells us, (p. 164,) that Kant was
extravagantly fond of coffee, but forced himself to abstain from it
under a notion that it was very unwholesome.] might disturb his rest at
night. But, if this did not happen, then commenced a scene of some
interest. Coffee must be brought 'upon the spot,' (a word he had
constantly in his mouth during his latter days,) 'in a moment.' And the
expressions of his impatience, though from old habit still gentle, were
so lively, and had so much of infantine naïveté about them, that none
of us could forbear smiling. Knowing what would happen, I had taken
care that all the preparations should be made beforehand; the coffee
was ground; the water was boiling; and the very moment the word was
given, his servant shot in like an arrow, and plunged the coffee into
the water. All that remained, therefore, was to give it time to boil
up. But this trifling delay seemed unendurable to Kant. All
consolations were thrown away upon him: vary the formula as we might,
he was never at a loss for a reply. If it was said--'Dear Professor,
the coffee will be brought up in a moment.'--'_Will_ be!' he would
say, 'but there's the rub, that it only _will_ be:

  Man never _is_, but always _to be_ blest.'

If another cried out--'The coffee is coming immediately.'--'Yes,' he
would retort, 'and so is the next hour: and, by the way, it's about
that length of time that I have waited for it.' Then he would collect
himself with a stoical air, and say--'Well, one can die after all: it
is but dying; and in the next world, thank God! there is no drinking of
coffee, and consequently no--waiting for it.' Sometimes he would rise
from his chair, open the door, and cry out with a feeble querulousness
--'Coffee! coffee!' And when at length he heard the servant's step upon
the stairs, he would turn round to us, and, as joyfully as ever sailor
from the mast-head, he would call out--'Land, land! my dear friends, I
see land.'

This general decline in Kant's powers, active and passive, gradually
brought about a revolution in his habits of life. Heretofore, as I have
already mentioned, he went to bed at ten, and rose a little before
five. The latter practice he still observed, but not the other. In 1802
he retired as early as nine, and afterwards still earlier. He found
himself so much refreshed by this addition to his rest, that at first
he was disposed to utter a _Euraeka_, as over some great discovery
in the art of restoring exhausted nature: but afterwards, on pushing it
still farther, he did not find the success answer his expectations. His
walks he now limited to a few turns in the King's gardens, which were
at no great distance from his own house. In order to walk more firmly,
he adopted a peculiar method of stepping; he carried his foot to the
ground, not forward, and obliquely, but perpendicularly, and with a
kind of stamp, so as to secure a larger basis, by setting down the
entire sole at once. Notwithstanding this precaution, upon one occasion
he fell in the street. He was quite unable to raise himself; and two
young ladies, who saw the accident, ran to his assistance. With his
usual graciousness of manner he thanked them fervently for their
assistance, and presented one of them with a rose which he happened to
have in his hand. This lady was not personally known to Kant; but she
was greatly delighted with his little present, and still keeps the rose
as a frail memorial of her transitory interview with the great

This accident, as I have reason to think, was the cause of his
henceforth renouncing exercise altogether. All labors, even that of
reading, were now performed slowly, and with manifest effort; and those
which cost him any bodily exertion became very exhausting to him. His
feet refused to do their office more and more; he fell continually,
both when moving across the room, and even when standing still: yet he
seldom suffered from these falls; and he constantly laughed at them,
maintaining that it was impossible he could hurt himself, from the
extreme lightness of his person, which was indeed by this time the
merest skeleton. Very often, especially in the morning, he dropped
asleep in his chair from pure weariness: on these occasions he fell
forward upon the floor, and lay there unable to raise himself up, until
accident brought one of his servants or his friends into the room.
Afterwards these falls were prevented, by substituting a chair with
circular supports, that met and clasped in front.

These unseasonable dozings exposed him to another danger. He fell
repeatedly, whilst reading, with his head into the candles; a cotton
night-cap which he wore was instantly in a blaze, and flaming about his
head. Whenever this happened, Kant behaved with great presence of mind.
Disregarding the pain, he seized the blazing cap, drew it from his
head, laid it quietly on the floor, and trod out the flames with his
feet. Yet, as this last act brought his dressing-gown into a dangerous
neighborhood to the flames, I changed the form of his cap, persuaded
him to arrange the candles differently, and had a decanter of water
placed constantly by his side; and in this way I applied a remedy to a
danger, which would else probably have been fatal to him.

From the sallies of impatience, which I have described in the case of
the coffee, there was reason to fear that, with the increasing
infirmities of Kant, would grow up a general waywardness and obstinacy
of temper. For my own sake, therefore, and not less for his, I now laid
down one rule for my future conduct in his house; which was, that I
would, on no occasion, allow my reverence for him to interfere with the
firmest expression of my opinion on subjects relating to his own
health; and in cases of great importance, that I would make no
compromise with his particular humors, but insist, not only on my view
of the case, but also on the practical adoption of my views; or, if
this were refused me, that I would take my departure at once, and not
be made responsible for the comfort of a person whom I had no power to
influence. And this behavior on my part it was that won Kant's
confidence; for there was nothing which disgusted him so much as any
approach to fawning or sycophancy. As his imbecility increased, he
became daily more liable to mental delusions; and, in particular, he
fell into many fantastic notions about the conduct of his servants,
and, in consequence, into a peevish mode of treating them. Upon these
occasions I generally observed a deep silence. But sometimes he would
ask me for my opinion; and when this happened, I did not scruple to
say, 'Ingenuously, then, Mr. Professor, I think that you are in the
wrong.'--'You think so?' he would reply calmly, at the same time asking
for my reasons, which he would listen to with great patience, and
openness to conviction. Indeed, it was evident that the firmest
opposition, so long as it rested upon assignable grounds and
principles, won upon his regard; whilst his own nobleness of character
still moved him to habitual contempt for timorous and partial
acquiescence in his opinions, even when his infirmities made him most
anxious for such acquiescence.

Earlier in life Kant had been little used to contradiction. His superb
understanding, his brilliancy in conversation, founded in part upon his
ready and sometimes rather caustic wit, and in part upon his prodigious
command of knowledge--the air of noble self-confidence which the
consciousness of these advantages impressed upon his manners--and the
general knowledge of the severe innocence of his life--all combined to
give him a station of superiority to others, which generally secured
him from open contradiction. And if it sometimes happened that he met a
noisy and intemperate opposition, supported by any pretences to wit, he
usually withdrew himself from that sort of unprofitable altercation
with dignity, by contriving to give such a turn to the conversation as
won the general favor of the company to himself, and impressed,
silence, or modesty at least, upon the boldest disputant. From a person
so little familiar with opposition, it could scarcely have been
anticipated that he should daily surrender his wishes to mine--if not
without discussion, yet always without displeasure. So, however, it
was. No habit, of whatever long standing, could be objected to as
injurious to his health, but he would generally renounce it. And he had
this excellent custom in such cases, that either he would resolutely
and at once decide for his own opinion, or, if he professed to follow
his friend's, he would follow it sincerely, and not try it unfairly by
trying it imperfectly. Any plan, however trifling, which he had once
consented to adopt on the suggestion of another, was never afterwards
defeated or embarrassed by unseasonable interposition from his own
humors. And thus, the very period of his decay drew forth so many fresh
expressions of his character, in its amiable or noble features, as
daily increased my affection and reverence for his person.

Having mentioned his servants, I shall here take occasion to give some
account of his man-servant Lampe. It was a great misfortune for Kant,
in his old age and infirmities, that this man also became old, and
subject to a different sort of infirmities. This Lampe had originally
served in the Prussian army; on quitting which he entered the service
of Kant. In this situation he had lived about forty years; and, though
always dull and stupid, had, in the early part of this period,
discharged his duties with tolerable fidelity. But latterly, presuming
upon his own indispensableness, from his perfect knowledge of all the
domestic arrangements, and upon his master's weakness, he had fallen
into great irregularities and neglect of his duties. Kant had been
obliged, therefore, of late, to threaten repeatedly that he would
discharge him. I, who knew that Kant, though one of the kindest-hearted
men, was also one of the firmest, foresaw that this discharge, once
given, would be irrevocable: for the word of Kant was as sacred as
other men's oaths. Consequently, upon every opportunity, I remonstrated
with Lampe on the folly of his conduct, and his wife joined me on these
occasions. Indeed, it was high time that a change should be made in
some quarter; for it now became dangerous to leave Kant, who was
constantly falling from weakness, to the care of an old ruffian, who
was himself apt to fall from intoxication. The fact was, that from the
moment I undertook the management of Kant's affairs, Lampe saw there
was an end to his old system of abusing his master's confidence in
pecuniary affairs, and the other advantages which he took of his
helpless situation. This made him desperate, and he behaved worse and
worse; until one morning, in January, 1802, Kant told me, that,
humiliating as he felt such a confession, the fact was, that Lampe had
just treated him in a way which he was ashamed to repeat. I was too
much shocked to distress him by inquiring into the particulars. But the
result was, that Kant now insisted, temperately but firmly, on Lampe's
dismissal. Accordingly, a new servant, of the name of Kaufmann, was
immediately engaged; and on the next day Lampe was discharged with a
handsome pension for life.

Here I must mention a little circumstance which does honor to Kant's
benevolence. In his last will, on the assumption that Lampe would
continue with him to his death, he had made a very liberal provision
for him; but upon this new arrangement of the pension, which was to
take effect immediately, it became necessary to revoke that part of his
will, which he did in a separate codicil, that began thus:--'In
consequence of the ill behavior of my servant Lampe, I think fit,' &c.
But soon after, considering that such a record of Lampe's misconduct
might be seriously injurious to his interests, he cancelled the
passage, and expressed it in such a way, that no trace remained behind
of his just displeasure. And his benign nature was gratified with
knowing, that, this one sentence blotted out, there remained no other
in all his numerous writings, published or confidential, which spoke
the language of anger, or could leave any ground for doubting that he
died in charity with all the world. Upon Lampe's calling to demand a
written character, he was, however, a good deal embarrassed; his stern
reverence for truth being, in this instance, armed against the first
impulses of his kindness. Long and anxiously he sat, with the
certificate lying before him, debating how he should fill up the
blanks. I was present, but in such a matter I did not take the liberty
of suggesting any advice. At last, he took his pen, and filled up the
blank as follows:--'--has served me long and faithfully,'--(for Kant
was not aware that he had robbed him,)--'but did not display those
particular qualifications which fitted him for waiting on an old and
infirm man like myself.'

This scene of disturbance over, which to Kant, a lover of peace and
tranquillity, caused a shock that he would gladly have been spared; it
was fortunate that no other of that nature occurred during the rest of
his life. Kaufmann, the successor of Lampe, turned out to be a
respectable and upright man, and soon conceived a great attachment to
his master's person. Things now put on a new face in Kant's family: by
the removal of one of the belligerents, peace was once more restored
amongst his servants; for hitherto there had been eternal wars between
Lampe and the cook. Sometimes it was Lampe that carried a war of
aggression into the cook's territory of the kitchen; sometimes it was
the cook that revenged these insults, by sallying out upon Lampe in the
neutral ground of the hall, or invaded him even in his own sanctuary of
the butler's pantry. The uproars were everlasting; and thus far it was
fortunate for the peace of the philosopher, that his hearing had begun
to fail; by which means he was spared many an exhibition of hateful
passions and ruffian violence, which annoyed his guests and friends.
But now all things had changed: deep silence reigned in the pantry; the
kitchen rang no more with martial alarums; and the hall was unvexed
with skirmish or pursuit. Yet it may be readily supposed that to Kant,
at the age of seventy-eight, changes, even for the better, were not
welcome: so intense had been the uniformity of his life and habits,
that the least innovation in the arrangement of articles as trifling as
a penknife, or a pair of scissors, disturbed him; and not merely if
they were pushed two or three inches out of their customary position,
but even if they were laid a little awry; and as to larger objects,
such as chairs, &c., any dislocation of their usual arrangement, any
trans position, or addition to their number, perfectly confounded him;
and his eye appeared restlessly to haunt the seat of the mal-
arrangement, until the ancient order was restored. With such habits the
reader may conceive how distressing it must have been to him, at this
period of decaying powers, to adapt himself to a new servant, a new
voice, a new step, &c.

Aware of this, I had on the day before he entered upon his duties,
written down for the new servant upon a sheet of paper the entire
routine of Kant's daily life, down to the minutest and most trivial
circumstances; all which he mastered with the greatest rapidity. To
make sure, however, we went through a rehearsal of the whole ritual; he
performing the manoeuvres, I looking on and giving the word. Still I
felt uneasy at the idea of his being left entirely to his own
discretion on his first _debut_ in good earnest, and therefore I
made a point of attending on this important day; and in the few
instances where the new recruit missed the accurate manoeuvre, a glance
or a nod from me easily made him comprehend his failure.

One part only there was of the daily ceremonial, where all of us were
at a loss, as it was a part which no mortal eyes had ever witnessed but
those of Lampe: this was breakfast. However, that we might do all in
our power, I myself attended at four o'clock in the morning. The day
happened, as I remember, to be the 1st of February, 1802. Precisely at
five, Kant made his appearance; and nothing could equal his
astonishment on finding me in the room. Fresh from the confusion of
dreaming, and bewildered alike by the sight of his new servant, by
Lampe's absence, and by my presence, he could with difficulty be made
to comprehend the purpose of my visit. A friend in need is a friend
indeed; and we would now have given any money to that learned person
who could have instructed us in the arrangement of the breakfast table.
But this was a mystery revealed to none but Lampe. At length Kant took
this task upon himself; and apparently all was now settled to his
satisfaction. Yet still it struck me that he was under some
embarrassment or constraint. Upon this I said--that, with his
permission, I would take a cup of tea, and afterwards smoke a pipe with
him. He accepted my offer with his usual courteous demeanor; but seemed
unable to familiarize himself with the novelty of his situation. I was
at this time sitting directly opposite to him; and at last he frankly
told me, but with the kindest and most apologetic air, that he was
really under the necessity of begging that I would sit out of his
sight; for that, having sat alone at the breakfast table for
considerably more than half a century, he could not abruptly adapt his
mind to a change in this respect; and he found his thoughts very
sensibly disturbed. I did as he desired; the servant retired into an
antiroom, where he waited within call; and Kant recovered his wonted
composure. Just the same scene passed over again, when I called at the
same hour on a fine summer morning some months after.

Henceforth all went right: or, if occasionally some little mistake
occurred, Kant showed himself very considerate and indulgent, and would
remark of his own accord, that a new servant could not be expected to
know all his peculiar ways and humors. In one respect, indeed, this man
adapted himself to Kant's scholarlike taste, in a way which Lampe was
incapable of doing. Kant was somewhat fastidious in matters of
pronunciation; and this man had a great facility in catching the true
sound of Latin words, the titles of books, and the names or
designations of Kant's friends: not one of which accomplishments could
Lampe, the most insufferable of blockheads, ever attain to. In
particular, I have been told by Kant's old friends, that for the space
of more than thirty years, during which he had been in the habit of
reading the newspaper published by Hartung, Lampe delivered it with the
same identical blunder on every day of publication.--'Mr. Professor,
here is Hart_mann's_ journal.' Upon which Kant would reply--'Eh!
what?--What's that you say? Hartmann's journal? I tell you, it is not
Hartmann, but Hartung: now, repeat it after me--not Hartmann, but
Hartung.' Then Lampe, looking sulky, and drawing himself up with the
stiff air of a soldier on guard, and in the very same monotonous tone
with which he had been used to sing out his challenge of--_Who goes
there?_ would roar--'not Hartmann, but Hartung.' 'Now again!' Kant
would say: on which again Lampe roared--'not Hartmann, but Hartung.'
'Now a third time,' cried Kant: on which for a third time the unhappy
Lampe would howl out--'not Hartmann, but Hartung.' And this whimsical
scene of parade duty was continually repeated: duly as the day of
publication came, the irreclaimable old dunce was put through the same
manoeuvres, which were as invariably followed by the same blunder on
the next. In spite, however, of this advantage, in the new servant, and
his general superiority to his predecessor, Kant's nature was too kind
and good, and too indulgent to all people's infirmities but his own,
not to miss the voice and the 'old familiar face' that he had been
accustomed to for forty years. And I met with what struck me as an
affecting instance of Kant's yearning after his old good-for-nothing
servant in his memorandum-book: other people record what they wish to
remember; but Kant had here recorded what he was to forget. 'Mem.:
February, 1802, the name of Lampe must now be remembered no more.'

In the spring of this year, 1802, I advised Kant to take the air. It
was very long since he had been out of doors, [Footnote: Wasianski here
returns thanks to some unknown person, who, having observed that Kant
in his latter walks took pleasure in leaning against a particular wall
to view the prospect, had caused a seat to be fixed at that point for
his use.] and walking was now out of the question. But I thought the
motion of a carriage and the air would be likely to revive him. On the
power of vernal sights and sounds I did not much rely; for these had
long ceased to affect him. Of all the changes that spring brings with
it, there was one only that now interested Kant; and he longed for it
with an eagerness and intensity of expectation, that it was almost
painful to witness: this was the return of a hedge sparrow that sang in
his garden, and before his window. This bird, either the same, or one
of the next generation, had sung for years in the same situation; and
Kant grew uneasy when the cold weather, lasting longer than usual,
retarded its return. Like Lord Bacon, indeed, he had a childlike love
for birds in general, and in particular, took pains to encourage the
sparrows to build above the windows of his study; and when this
happened, (as it often did, from the silence which prevailed in his
study,) he watched their proceedings with the delight and the
tenderness which others give to a human interest. To return to the
point I was speaking of, Kant was at first very unwilling to accede to
my proposal of going abroad. 'I shall sink down in the carriage,' said
he, 'and fall together like a heap of old rags.' But I persisted with a
gentle importunity in urging him to the attempt, assuring him that we
would return immediately if he found the effort too much for him.
Accordingly, upon a tolerably warm day of early [Footnote: Mr.
Wasianski says--_late_ in summer: but, as he elsewhere describes
by the same expression of 'late in summer,' a day which was confessedly
_before_ the longest day, and as the multitude of birds which
continued to sing will not allow us to suppose that the summer could be
very far advanced, I have translated accordingly.] summer, I, and an
old friend of Kant's, accompanied him to a little place which I rented
in the country. As we drove through the streets, Kant was delighted to
find that he could sit upright, and bear the motion of the carriage,
and seemed to draw youthful pleasure from the sight of the towers and
other public buildings, which he had not seen for years. We reached the
place of our destination in high spirits. Kant drank a cup of coffee,
and attempted to smoke a little. After this, he sat and sunned himself,
listening with delight to the warbling of birds, which congregated in
great numbers about this spot. He distinguished every bird by its song,
and called it by its right name. After staying about half an hour, we
set off on our homeward journey, Kant still cheerful, but apparently
satiated with his day's enjoyment.

I had on this occasion purposely avoided taking him to any public
gardens, that I might not disturb his pleasure by exposing him to the
distressing gaze of public curiosity. However, it was known in
Königsberg that Kant had gone out; and accordingly, as the carriage
moved through the streets which led to his residence, there was a
general rush from all quarters in that direction, and, when we turned
into the street where the house stood, we found it already choked up
with people. As we slowly drew up to the door, a lane was formed in the
crowd, through which Kant was led, I and my friend supporting him on
our arms. Looking at the crowd, I observed the faces of many persons of
rank, and distinguished strangers, some of whom now saw Kant for the
first time, and many of them for the last.

As the winter of 1802-3 approached, he complained more than ever of an
affection of the stomach, which no medical man had been able to
mitigate, or even to explain. The winter passed over in a complaining
way; he was weary of life, and longed for the hour of dismission. 'I
can be of service to the world no more,' said he, 'and am a burden to
myself.' Often I endeavored to cheer him by the anticipation of
excursions that we would make together when summer came again. On these
he calculated with so much earnestness, that he had made a regular
scale or classification of them--l. Airings; 2. Journeys; 3. Travels.
And nothing could equal the yearning impatience expressed for the
coming of spring and summer, not so much for their own peculiar
attractions, as because they were the seasons for travelling. In his
memorandum-book, he made this note:--'The three summer months are June,
July, and August'--meaning that they were the three months for
travelling. And in conversation he expressed the feverish strength of
his wishes so plaintively and affectingly, that everybody was drawn
into powerful sympathy with him, and wished for some magical means of
ante-dating the course of the seasons.

In this winter his bed-room was often warmed. This was the room in
which he kept his little collection of books, of about four hundred and
fifty volumes, chiefly presentation-copies from the authors. It may
seem singular that Kant, who read so extensively, should have no larger
library; but he had less need of one than most scholars, having in his
earlier years been librarian at the Royal Library of the Castle; and
since then having enjoyed from the liberality of Hartknoch, his
publisher, (who, in his turn, had profited by the liberal terms on
which Kant had made over to him the copyright of his own works,) the
first sight of every new book that appeared.

At the close of this winter, that is in 1803, Kant first began to
complain of unpleasant dreams, sometimes of very terrific ones, which
awakened him in great agitation. Oftentimes melodies, which he had
heard in earliest youth sung in the streets of Königsberg, resounded
painfully in his ears, and dwelt upon them in a way from which no
efforts of abstraction could release him. These kept him awake to
unseasonable hours; and often when, after long watching, he had fallen
asleep, however deep his sleep might be, it was suddenly broken up by
terrific dreams, which alarmed him beyond description. Almost every
night, the bell-rope, which communicated with a bell in the room above
his own, where his servant slept, was pulled violently, and with the
utmost agitation. No matter how fast the servant might hurry down, he
was almost always too late, and was pretty sure to find his master out
of bed, and often making his way in terror to some other part of the
house. The weakness of his feet exposed him to such dreadful falls on
these occasions, that at length (but with much difficulty) I persuaded
him to let his servant sleep in the same room with himself.

The morbid affection of the stomach began now to be more and more
distressing; and he tried various applications, which he had formerly
been loud in condemning, such as a few drops of rum upon a piece of
sugar, naphtha, [Footnote: For Kant's particular complaint, as
described by other biographers, a quarter of a grain of opium, every
twelve hours, would have been the best remedy, perhaps a perfect
remedy.] &c. But all these were only palliatives; for his advanced age
precluded the hope of a radical cure. His dreadful dreams became
continually more appalling: single scenes, or passages in these dreams,
were sufficient to compose the whole course of mighty tragedies, the
impression from which was so profound as to stretch far into his waking
hours. Amongst other phantasmata more shocking and indescribable, his
dreams constantly represented to him the forms of murderers advancing
to his bedside; and so agitated was he by the awful trains of phantoms
that swept past him nightly, that in the first confusion of awaking he
generally mistook his servant, who was hastening to his assistance, for
a murderer. In the day-time we often conversed upon these shadowy
illusions; and Kant, with his usual spirit of stoical contempt for
nervous weakness of every sort, laughed at them; and, to fortify his
own resolution to contend against them, he wrote down in his
memorandum-book, 'There must be no yielding to panics of darkness.' At
my suggestion, however, he now burned a light in his chamber, so placed
as that the rays might be shaded from his face. At first he was very
averse to this, though gradually he became reconciled to it. But that
he could bear it at all, was to me an expression of the great
revolution accomplished by the terrific agency of his dreams.
Heretofore, darkness and utter silence were the two pillars on which
his sleep rested: no step must approach his room; and as to light, if
he saw but a moonbeam penetrating a crevice of the shutters, it made
him unhappy; and, in fact, the windows of his bed-chamber were
barricadoed night and day. But now darkness was a terror to him, and
silence an oppression. In addition to his lamp, therefore, he had now a
repeater in his room; the sound was at first too loud, but, after
muffling the hammer with cloth, both the ticking and the striking
became companionable sounds to him.

At this time (spring of 1803) his appetite began to fail, which I
thought no good sign. Many persons insist that Kant was in the habit of
eating too much for health. [Footnote: Who these worthy people were
that criticised Kant's eating, is not mentioned. They could have had no
opportunity of exercising their abilities on this question, except as
hosts, guests, or fellow-guests; and in any of those characters, a
gentleman, one would suppose, must feel himself degraded by directing
his attention to a point of that nature. However, the merits of the
case stand thus between the parlies: Kant, it is agreed by all his
biographers, ate only once a day; for as to his breakfast, it was
nothing more than a very weak infusion of tea, (vide Jachmann's
Letters, p. 163,) with no bread, or eatable of any kind. Now, his
critics, by general confession, ate their way, from 'morn to dewy eve,'
through the following course of meals: 1. Breakfast early in the
morning; 2. Breakfast _à la fourchette_ about ten, A.M.; 3. Dinner
at one or two; 4. Vesper Brod; 5. Abend Brod; all which does really
seem a very fair allowance for a man who means to lecture upon
abstinence at night. But I shall cut this matter short by stating one
plain fact; there were two things, and no more, for which Kant had an
inordinate craving during his whole life; these were tobacco and
coffee; and from both these he abstained almost altogether, merely
under a sense of duty, resting probably upon erroneous grounds. Of the
first he allowed himself a very small quantity, (and everybody knows
that temperance is a more difficult virtue than abstinence;) of the
other none at all, until the labors of his life were accomplished.] I,
however, cannot assent to this opinion; for he ate but once a day, and
drank no beer. Of this liquor, (I mean the strong black beer,) he was,
indeed, the most determined enemy. If ever a man died prematurely, Kant
would say--'He has been drinking beer, I presume.' Or, if another were
indisposed, you might be sure he would ask, 'But does he drink beer?'
And, according to the answer on this point, he regulated his
anticipations for the patient. Strong beer, in short, he uniformly
maintained to be a slow poison. Voltaire, by the way, had said to a
young physician who denounced coffee under the same bad name of a 'slow
poison,' 'You're right there, my friend, however; slow it is, and
horribly slow; for I have been drinking it these seventy years, and it
has not killed me yet;' but this was an answer which, in the case of
beer, Kant would not allow of.

On the 22d of April, 1803, his birth-day, the last which he lived to
see, was celebrated in a full assembly of his friends. This festival he
had long looked forward to with great expectation, and delighted even
to hear the progress made in the preparations for it. But when the day
came, the over-excitement and tension of expectation seemed to have
defeated itself. He tried to appear happy; but the bustle of a numerous
company confounded and distressed him; and his spirits were manifestly
forced. He seemed first to revive to any real sense of pleasure at
night, when the company had departed, and he was undressing in his
study. He then talked with much pleasure about the presents which, as
usual, would be made to his servants on this occasion; for Kant was
never happy himself, unless he saw all around him happy. He was a great
maker of presents; but at the same time he had no toleration for the
studied theatrical effect, the accompaniment of formal congratulations,
and the sentimental pathos with which birth-day presents are made in
Germany. [Footnote: In this, as in many other things, the taste of Kant
was entirely English and Roman; as, on the other hand, some eminent
Englishmen, I am sorry to say, have, on this very point, shown the
effeminacy and _falsetto_ taste of the Germans. In particular, Mr.
Coleridge, describing, in The Friend, the custom amongst German
children of making presents to their parents on Christmas Eve, (a
custom which he unaccountably supposes to be peculiar to Ratzeburg,)
represents the mother as 'weeping aloud for joy'--the old idiot of a
father with 'tears running down his face,' &c. &c., and all for what?
For a snuff-box, a pencil-case, or some article of jewellery. Now, we
English agree with Kant on such maudlin display of stage
sentimentality, and are prone to suspect that papa's tears are the
product of rum-punch. Tenderness let us have by all means, and the
deepest you can imagine, but upon proportionate occasions, and with
causes fitted to justify it and sustain its dignity.] In all this, his
masculine taste gave him a sense of something fade and ludicrous.

The summer of 1803 was now come, and, visiting Kant one day, I was
thunderstruck to hear him direct me, in the most serious tone, to
provide the funds necessary for an extensive foreign tour. I made no
opposition, but asked his reasons for such a plan; he alleged the
miserable sensations he had in his stomach, which were no longer
endurable. Knowing what power over Kant a quotation from a Roman poet
had always had, I simply replied--'Post equitem sedet atra cura,' and
for the present he said no more. But the touching and pathetic
earnestness with which he was continually ejaculating prayers for
warmer weather, made it doubtful to me whether his wishes on this point
ought not, partially at least, to be gratified; and I therefore
proposed to him a little excursion to the cottage we had visited the
year before. 'Anywhere,' said he, 'no matter whither, provided it be
far enough.' Towards the latter end of June, therefore, we executed
this scheme; on getting into the carriage, the order of the day with
Kant was, 'Distance, distance. Only let us go far enough,' said he: but
scarcely had we reached the city-gates before the journey seemed
already to have lasted too long. On reaching the cottage we found
coffee waiting for us; but he would scarcely allow himself time for
drinking it, before he ordered the carriage to the door; and the
journey back seemed insupportably long to him, though it was performed
in something less than twenty minutes. 'Is this never to have an end?'
was his continual exclamation; and great was his joy when he found
himself once more in his study, undressed, and in bed. And for this
night he slept in peace, and once again was liberated from the
persecution of dreams.

Soon after he began again to talk of journeys, of travels in remote
countries, &c., and, in consequence, we repeated our former excursion
several times; and though the circumstances were pretty nearly the same
on every occasion, and always terminating in disappointment as to the
immediate pleasure anticipated, yet, undoubtedly, they were, on the
whole, salutary to his spirits. In particular, the cottage itself,
standing under the shelter of tall alders, with a valley stretched
beneath it, through which a little brook meandered, broken by a water-
fall, whose pealing sound dwelt pleasantly on the ear, sometimes, on a
quiet sunny day, gave a lively delight to Kant: and once, under
accidental circumstances of summer clouds and sun-lights, the little
pastoral landscape suddenly awakened a lively remembrance which had
been long laid asleep, of a heavenly summer morning in youth, which he
had passed in a bower upon the banks of a rivulet that ran through the
grounds of a dear and early friend, Gen. Von Lossow. The strength of
the impression was such, that he seemed actually to be living over that
morning again, thinking as he then thought, and conversing with those
that were no more.

His very last excursion was in August of this year, (1803,) not to my
cottage, but to the garden of a friend. But on this day he manifested
great impatience. It had been arranged that he was to meet an old
friend at the gardens; and I, with two other gentlemen, attended him.
It happened that _out_ party arrived first; and such was Kant's
weakness, and total loss of power to estimate the duration of time,
that, after waiting a few moments, he insisted that some hours had
elapsed--that his friend could not be expected--and went away in great
discomposure of mind. And so ended Kant's travelling in this world.

In the beginning of autumn the sight of his right eye began to fail
him; the left he had long lost the use of. This earliest of his losses,
by the way, he discovered by mere accident, and without any previous
warning. Sitting down one day to rest himself in the course of a walk,
it occurred to him that he would try the comparative strength of his
eyes; but on taking out a newspaper which he had in his pocket, he was
surprised to find that with his left eye he could not distinguish a
letter. In earlier life he had two remarkable affections of the eyes:
once, on returning from a walk, he saw objects double for a long space
of time; and twice he became stone-blind. Whether these accidents are
to be considered as uncommon, I leave to the decision of oculists.
Certain it is, they gave very little disturbance to Kant; who, until
old age had reduced his powers, lived in a constant state of stoical
preparation for the worst that could befall him. I was now shocked to
think of the degree in which his burthensome sense of dependence would
be aggravated, if he should totally lose the power of sight. As it was,
he read and wrote with great difficulty: in fact, his writing was
little better than that which most people can produce as a trial of
skill with their eyes shut. From old habits of solitary study, he had
no pleasure in hearing others read to him; and he daily distressed me
by the pathetic earnestness of his entreaties that I would have a
reading-glass devised for him. Whatever my own optical skill could
suggest, I tried; and the best opticians were sent for to bring their
glasses, and take his directions for altering them; but all was to no

In this last year of his life Kant very unwillingly received the visits
of strangers; and, unless under particular circumstances, wholly
declined them. Yet, when travellers had come a very great way out of
their road to see him, I confess that I was at a loss how to conduct
myself. To have refused too pertinaciously, could not but give me the
air of wishing to make myself of importance. And I must acknowledge,
that, amongst some instances of importunity and coarse expressions of
low-bred curiosity, I witnessed, on the part of many people of rank, a
most delicate sensibility to the condition of the aged recluse. On
sending in their cards, they would generally accompany them by some
message, expressive of their unwillingness to gratify their wish to see
him at any risk of distressing him. The fact was, that such visits
_did_ distress him much; for he felt it a degradation to be exhibited
in his helpless state, when he was aware of his own incapacity to meet
properly the attention that was paid to him. Some, however, were
admitted, [Footnote: To whom it appears that Kant would generally
reply, upon their expressing the pleasure it gave them to see him,
'In me you behold a poor superannuated, weak, old man.'] according
to the circumstances of the case, and the state of Kant's spirits at
the moment. Amongst these, I remember that we were particularly pleased
with M. Otto, the same who signed the treaty of peace between France
and England with the present Lord Liverpool, (then Lord Hawkesbury.) A
young Russian also rises to my recollection at this moment, from the
excessive (and I think unaffected) enthusiasm which he displayed. On
being introduced to Kant, he advanced hastily, took both his hands, and
kissed them. Kant, who, from living so much amongst his English
friends, had a good deal of the English dignified reserve about him,
and hated anything like _scenes_, appeared to shrink a little from
this mode of salutation, and was rather embarrassed. However, the young
man's manner, I believe, was not at all beyond his genuine feelings;
for next day he called again, made some inquiries about Kant's health,
was very anxious to know whether his old age were burthensome to him,
and above all things entreated for some little memorial of the great
man to carry away with him. By accident the servant had found a small
cancelled fragment of the original MS. of Kant's 'Anthropologie:' this,
with my sanction, he gave to the Russian; who received it with rapture,
kissed it, and then gave him in return the only dollar he had about
him; and, thinking that not enough, actually pulled off his coat and
waistcoat and forced them upon the man. Kant, whose native simplicity
of character very much indisposed him to sympathy with any
extravagances of feeling, could not, however, forbear smiling good-
humoredly on being made acquainted with this instance of _naïveté_
and enthusiasm in his young admirer.

I now come to an event in Kant's life, which ushered in its closing
stage. On the 8th of October, 1803, for the first time since his youth,
he was seriously ill. When a student at the University, he had once
suffered from an ague, which, however, gave way to pedestrian exercise;
and in later years, he had endured some pain from a contusion on his
head; but, with these two exceptions, (if they can be considered such,)
he had never (properly speaking) been ill. The cause of his illness was
this: his appetite had latterly been irregular, or rather I should say
depraved; and he no longer took pleasure in anything but bread and
butter, and English cheese.[Footnote: Mr. W. here falls into the
ordinary mistake of confounding the cause and the occasion, and would
leave the impression, that Kant (who from his youth up had been a model
of temperance) died of sensual indulgence. The cause of Kant's death
was clearly the general decay of the vital powers, and in particular
the atony of the digestive organs, which must soon have destroyed him
under any care or abstinence whatever. This was the cause. The
accidental occasion, which made that cause operative on the 7th of
October, might or might not be what Mr. W. says. But in Kant's
burthensome state of existence, it could not be a question of much
importance whether his illness were to commence in an October or a
November.] On the 7th of October, at dinner, he ate little else, in
spite of everything that I and another friend then dining with him,
could urge to dissuade him. And for the first time I fancied that he
seemed displeased with my importunity, as though I were overstepping
the just line of my duties. He insisted that the cheese never had done
him any harm, nor would now. I had no course left me but to hold my
tongue; and he did as he pleased. The consequence was what might have
been anticipated--a restless night, succeeded by a day of memorable
illness. The next morning all went on as usual, till nine o'clock, when
Kant, who was then leaning on his sister's arm, suddenly fell senseless
to the ground. A messenger was immediately despatched for me; and I
hurried down to his house, where I found him lying in his bed, which
had now been removed into his study, speechless and insensible. I had
already summoned his physician; but, before he arrived, nature put
forth efforts which brought Kant a little to himself. In about an hour
he opened his eyes, and continued to mutter unintelligibly till towards
the evening, when he rallied a little, and began to talk rationally.
For the first time in his life, he was now, for a few days, confined to
his bed, and ate nothing. On the 12th October, he again took some
refreshment, and would have had his favorite food; but I was now
resolved, at any risk of his displeasure, to oppose him firmly. I
therefore stated to him the whole consequences of his last indulgence,
of all which he manifestly had no recollection. He listened to what I
said very attentively, and calmly expressed his conviction that I was
perfectly in the wrong; but for the present he submitted. However, some
days after, I found that he had offered a florin for a little bread and
cheese, and then a dollar, and even more. Being again refused, he
complained heavily; but gradually he weaned himself from asking for it,
though at times he betrayed involuntarily how much he desired it.

On the 13th of October, his usual dinner parties were resumed, and he
was considered convalescent; but it was seldom indeed that he recovered
the tone of tranquil spirits which he had preserved until his late
attack. Hitherto he had always loved to prolong this meal, the only one
he took--or, as he expressed it in classical phrase, 'coenam
_ducere_;' but now it was difficult to hurry it over fast enough
for his wishes. From dinner, which terminated about two o'clock, he
went straight to bed, and at intervals fell into slumbers; from which,
however, he was regularly awoke by phantasmata or terrific dreams. At
seven in the evening came on duly a period of great agitation, which
lasted till five or six in the morning--sometimes later; and he
continued through the night alternately to walk about and lie down,
occasionally tranquil, but more often in great distress. It now became
necessary that somebody should sit up with him, his man-servant being
wearied out with the toils of the day. No person seemed to be so proper
for this office as his sister, both as having long received a very
liberal pension from him, and also as his nearest relative, who would
be the best witness to the fact that her illustrious brother had wanted
no comforts or attention in his last hours, which his situation
admitted of. Accordingly she was applied to, and undertook to watch him
alternately with his footman--a separate table being kept for her, and
a very handsome addition made to her allowance. She turned out to be a
quiet gentle-minded woman, who raised no disturbances amongst the
servants, and soon won her brother's regard by the modest and retiring
style of her manners; I may add, also, by the truly sisterly affection
which she displayed towards him to the last.

The 8th of October had grievously affected Kant's faculties, but had
not wholly destroyed them. For short intervals the clouds seemed to
roll away that had settled upon his majestic intellect, and it shone
forth as heretofore. During these moments of brief self-possession, his
wonted benignity returned to him; and he expressed his gratitude for
the exertions of those about him, and his sense of the trouble they
underwent, in a very affecting way. With regard to his man-servant in
particular, he was very anxious that he should be rewarded by liberal
presents; and he pressed me earnestly on no account to be parsimonious.
Indeed Kant was nothing less than princely in his use of money; and
there was no occasion on which he was known to express the passion of
scorn very powerfully, but when he was commenting on mean and penurious
acts or habits. Those who knew him only in the streets, fancied that he
was not liberal; for he steadily refused, upon principle, to relieve
all common beggars. But, on the other hand, he was liberal to the
public charitable institutions; he secretly assisted his own poor
relations in a much ampler way than could reasonably have been expected
of him; and it now appeared that he had many other deserving pensioners
upon his bounty; a fact that was utterly unknown to any of us, until
his increasing blindness and other infirmities devolved the duty of
paying these pensions upon myself. It must be recollected, also, that
Kant's whole fortune, which amounted to about twenty thousand dollars,
was the product of his own honorable toils for nearly threescore years;
and that he had himself suffered all the hardships of poverty in his
youth, though he never once ran into any man's debt,--circumstances in
his history, which, as they express how fully he must have been
acquainted with the value of money, greatly enhance the merit of his

In December, 1803, he became incapable of signing his name. His sight,
indeed, had for some time failed him so much, that at dinner he could
not find his spoon without assistance; and, when I happened to dine
with him, I first cut in pieces whatever was on his plate, next put it
into a spoon, and then guided his hand to find the spoon. But his
inability to sign his name did not arise merely from blindness: the
fact was, that, from irretention of memory, he could not recollect the
letters which composed his name; and, when they were repeated to him,
he could not represent the figure of the letters in his imagination. At
the latter end of November, I had remarked that these incapacities were
rapidly growing upon him, and in consequence I prevailed on him to sign
beforehand all the receipts, &c., which would be wanted at the end of
the year; and, afterwards, on my representation, to prevent all
disputes, he gave me a regular legal power to sign on his behalf.

Much as Kant was now reduced, yet he had occasionally moods of social
hilarity. His birth-day was always an agreeable subject to him: some
weeks before his death, I was calculating the time which it still
wanted of that anniversary, and cheering him with the prospect of the
rejoicings which would then take place: 'All your old friends,' said I,
'will meet together, and drink a glass of champagne to your health.'
'That,' said he, 'must be done upon the spot:' and he was not satisfied
till the party was actually assembled. He drank a glass of wine with
them, and with great elevation of spirits celebrated this birth-day
which he was destined never to see.

In the latter weeks of his life, however, a great change took place in
the tone of his spirits. At his dinner-table, where heretofore such a
cloudless spirit of joviality had reigned, there was now a melancholy
silence. It disturbed him to see his two dinner companions conversing
privately together, whilst he himself sat like a mute on the stage with
no part to perform. Yet to have engaged him in the conversation would
have been still more distressing; for his hearing was now very
imperfect; the effort to hear was itself painful to him; and his
expressions, even when his thoughts were accurate enough, became nearly
unintelligible. It is remarkable, however, that at the very lowest
point of his depression, when he became perfectly incapable of
conversing with any rational meaning on the ordinary affairs of life,
he was still able to answer correctly and distinctly, in a degree that
was perfectly astonishing, upon any question of philosophy or of
science, especially of physical geography, [Footnote: _Physical_
Geography, in opposition to _Political_.] chemistry, or natural
history. He talked satisfactorily, in his very worst state, of the
gases, and stated very accurately different propositions of Kepler's,
especially the law of the planetary motions. And I remember in
particular, that upon the very last Monday of his life, when the
extremity of his weakness moved a circle of his friends to tears, and
he sat amongst us insensible to all we could say to him, cowering down,
or rather I might say collapsing into a shapeless heap upon his chair,
deaf, blind, torpid, motionless,--even then I whispered to the others
that I would engage that Kant should take his part in conversation with
propriety and animation. This they found it difficult to believe. Upon
which I drew close to his ear, and put a question to him about the
Moors of Barbary. To the surprise of everybody but myself, he
immediately gave us a summary account of their habits and customs; and
told us by the way, that in the word _Algiers_, the _g_ ought to be
pronounced hard (as in the English word _gear_).

During the last fortnight of Kant's life, he busied himself unceasingly
in a way that seemed not merely purposeless but self-contradictory.
Twenty times in a minute he would unloose and tie his neck
handkerchief--so also with a sort of belt which he wore about his
dressing-gown, the moment it was clasped, he unclasped it with
impatience, and was then equally impatient to have it clasped again.
But no description can convey an adequate impression of the weary
restlessness with which from morning to night he pursued these labors
of Sisyphus--doing and undoing--fretting that he could not do it,
fretting that he had done it.

By this time he seldom knew any of us who were about him, but took us
all for strangers. This happened first with his sister, then with me,
and finally with his servant. Such an alienation distressed me more
than any other instance of his decay: though I knew that he had not
really withdrawn his affection from me, yet his air and mode of
addressing me gave me constantly that feeling. So much the more
affecting was it, when the sanity of his perceptions and his
remembrances returned; but these intervals were of slower and slower
occurrence. In this condition, silent or babbling childishly, self-
involved and torpidly abstracted, or else busy with self-created
phantoms and delusions, what a contrast did he offer to _that_
Kant who had once been the brilliant centre of the most brilliant
circles for rank, wit, or knowledge, that Prussia afforded! A
distinguished person from Berlin, who had called upon him during the
preceding summer, was greatly shocked at his appearance, and said,
'This is not Kant that I have seen, but the shell of Kant!' How much
more would he have said this, if he had seen him now!

Now came February, 1804, which was the last month that Kant was
destined to see. It is remarkable that, in the memorandum book which I
have before mentioned, I found a fragment of an old song, (inserted by
Kant, and dated in the summer about six months before the time of his
death,) which expressed that February was the month in which people had
the least weight to carry, for the obvious reason that it was shorter
by two and by three days than the others; and the concluding sentiment
was in a tone of fanciful pathos to this effect--'Oh, happy February!
in which man has least to bear--least pain, least sorrow, least self-
reproach!' Even of this short month, however, Kant had not twelve
entire days to bear; for it was on the 12th that he died; and in fact
he may be said to have been dying from the 1st. He now barely
vegetated; though there were still transitory gleams flashing by fits
from the embers of his ancient intellect.

On the 3d of February the springs of life seemed to be ceasing from
their play, for, from this day, strictly speaking, he ate nothing more.
His existence henceforward seemed to be the mere prolongation of an
impetus derived from an eighty years' life, after the moving power of
the mechanism was withdrawn. His physician visited him every day at a
particular hour; and it was settled that I should always be there to
meet him. Nine days before his death, on paying his usual visit, the
following little circumstance occurred, which affected us both, by
recalling forcibly to our minds the ineradicable courtesy and goodness
of Kant's nature. When the physician was announced, I went up to Kant
and said to him, 'Here is Dr. A----.' Kant rose from his chair, and,
offering his hand to the Doctor, murmured something in which the word
'posts' was frequently repeated, but with an air as though he wished to
be helped out with the rest of the sentence. Dr. A----, who thought
that, by _posts_, he meant the stations for relays of post-horses, and
therefore that his mind was wandering, replied that all the horses were
engaged, and begged him to compose himself. But Kant went on, with
great effort to himself, and added--'Many posts, heavy posts--then much
goodness--then much gratitude.' All this he said with apparent
incoherence, but with great warmth, and increasing self-possession. I
meantime perfectly divined what it was that Kant, under his cloud of
imbecility, wished to say, and I interpreted accordingly. 'What the
Professor wishes to say, Dr. A----, is this, that, considering the many
and weighty offices which you fill in the city and in the university,
it argues great goodness on your part to give up so much of your time
to him,' (for Dr. A---- would never take any fees from Kant;) 'and that
he has the deepest sense of this goodness.' 'Right,' said Kant,
earnestly, 'right!' But he still continued to stand, and was nearly
sinking to the ground. Upon which I remarked to the physician, that I
was so well acquainted with Kant, that I was satisfied he would not sit
down, however much he suffered from standing, until he knew that his
visitors were seated. The Doctor seemed to doubt this--but Kant, who
heard what I said, by a prodigious effort confirmed my construction of
his conduct, and spoke distinctly these words--'God forbid I should be
sunk so low as to forget the offices of humanity.'

When dinner was announced, Dr. A---- took his leave. Another guest had
now arrived, and I was in hopes, from the animation which Kant had so
recently displayed, that we should to-day have a pleasant party, but my
hopes were vain--Kant was more than usually exhausted, and though he
raised a spoon to his mouth, he swallowed nothing. For some time
everything had been tasteless to him; and I had endeavored, but with
little success, to stimulate the organs of taste by nutmeg, cinnamon,
&c. To-day all failed, and I could not even prevail upon him to taste a
biscuit, rusk, or anything of that sort. I had once heard him say that
several of his friends, who had died of _marasmus_, had closed
their illness by four or five days of entire freedom from pain, but
totally without appetite, and then slumbered tranquilly away. Through
this state I apprehended that he was himself now passing.

Saturday, the 4th of February, I heard his guests loudly expressing
their fears that they should never meet him again; and I could not but
share these fears myself. However, on

Sunday, the 5th, I dined at his table in company with his particular
friend Mr. R. R. V. Kant was still present, but so weak that his head
drooped upon his knees, and he sank down against the right side of the
chair. I went and arranged his pillows so as to raise and support his
head; and, having done this, I said--'Now, my dear Sir, you are again
in right order.' Great was our astonishment when he answered clearly
and audibly in the Roman military phrase--'Yes, _testudine et
facie;_' and immediately after added, 'Ready for the enemy, and in
battle array.' His powers of mind were (if I may be allowed that
expression) smouldering away in their ashes; but every now and then
some lambent flame, or grand emanation of light, shot forth to make it
evident that the ancient fire still slumbered below.

Monday, the 6th, he was much weaker and more torpid: he spoke not a
word, except on the occasion of my question about the Moors, as
previously stated, and sate with sightless eyes, lost in himself, and
manifesting no sense of our presence, so that we had the feeling of
some mighty shade or phantom from some forgotten century being seated
amongst us.

About this time, Kant had become much more tranquil and composed. In
the earlier periods of his illness, when his yet unbroken strength was
brought into active contest with the first attacks of decay, he was apt
to be peevish, and sometimes spoke roughly or even harshly to his
servants. This, though very opposite to his natural disposition, was
altogether excusable under the circumstances. He could not make himself
understood: things were therefore brought to him continually which he
had not asked for; and often it happened that what he really wanted he
could not obtain, because all his efforts to name it were
unintelligible. A violent nervous irritation, besides, affected him
from the unsettling of the equilibrium in the different functions of
his nature; weakness in one organ being made more palpable to him by
disproportionate strength in another. But now the strife was over; the
whole system was at length undermined, and in rapid and harmonious
progress to dissolution. And from this time forward, no movement of
impatience, or expression of fretfulness, ever escaped him.

I now visited him three times a-day; and on

Tuesday, Feb. 7th, going about dinner-time, I found the usual party of
friends sitting down alone; for Kant was in bed. This was a new scene
in his house, and increased our fears that his end was now at hand.
However, having seen him rally so often, I would not run the risk of
leaving him without a dinner-party for the next day; and accordingly,
at the customary hour of one, we assembled in his house on

Wednesday, Feb. 8th. I paid my respects to him as cheerfully as
possible, and ordered dinner to be served up. Kant sat at the table
with us; and, taking a spoon with a little soup in it, put it to his
lips; but immediately put it down again, and retired to bed, from which
he never rose again, except during the few minutes when it was re-

Thursday, the 9th, he had sunk into the weakness of a dying person, and
the corpse-like appearance had already taken possession of him. I
visited him frequently through the day; and, going at ten o'clock at
night, I found him in a state of insensibility. I could not draw any
sign from him that he knew me, and I left him to the care of his sister
and his servant.

Friday, the 10th, I went to see him at six o'clock in the morning. It
was very stormy, and a deep snow had fallen in the night-time. And, by
the way, I remember that a gang of house-breakers had forced their way
through the premises in order to reach Kant's next neighbor, who was a
goldsmith. As I drew near to his bed-side, I said, 'Good morning.' He
returned my salutation by saying, 'Good morning,' but in so feeble and
faltering a voice that it was hardly articulate. I was rejoiced to find
him sensible, and I asked him if he knew me:--'Yes,' he replied; and,
stretching out his hand, touched me gently upon the cheek. Through the
rest of the day, whenever I visited him, he seemed to have relapsed
into a state of insensibility.

Saturday, the 11th, he lay with fixed and rayless eyes; but to all
appearance in perfect peace. I asked him again, on this day, if he knew
me. He was speechless, but he turned his face towards me and made signs
that I should kiss him. Deep emotion thrilled me, as I stooped down to
kiss his pallid lips; for I knew that in this solemn act of tenderness
he meant to express his thankfulness for our long friendship, and to
signify his affection and his last farewell. I had never seen him
confer this mark of his love upon anybody, except once, and that was a
few weeks before his death, when he drew his sister to him and kissed
her. The kiss which he now gave to me was the last memorial that he
knew me.

Whatever fluid was now offered to him passed the oesophagus with a
rattling sound, as often happens with dying people; and there were all
the signs of death being close at hand.

I wished to stay with him till all was over; and as I had been witness
of his life, to be witness also of his departure; and therefore I never
quitted him except when I was called off for a few minutes to attend
some private business. The whole of this night I spent at his bed-side.
Though he had passed the day in a state of insensibility, yet in the
evening he made intelligible signs that he wished to have his bed put
in order; he was therefore lifted out in our arms, and the bed-clothes
and pillows being hastily arranged, he was carried back again. He did
not sleep; and a spoonful of liquid, which was sometimes put to his
lips, he usually pushed aside; but about one o'clock in the night he
himself made a motion towards the spoon, from which I collected that he
was thirsty; and I gave him a small quantity of wine and water
sweetened; but the muscles of his mouth had not strength enough to
retain it, so that to prevent its flowing back he raised his hand to
his lips, until with a rattling sound it was swallowed. He seemed to
wish for more; and I continued to give him more, until he said, in a
way that I was just able to understand,--'It is enough.' And these were
his last words. At intervals he pushed away the bed-clothes, and
exposed his person; I constantly restored the clothes to their
situation, and on one of these occasions I found that the whole body
and extremities were already growing cold, and the pulse intermitting.

At a quarter after three o'clock on Sunday morning, February 12, Kant
stretched himself out as if taking a position for his final act, and
settled into the precise posture which he preserved to the moment of
death. The pulse was now no longer perceptible to the touch in his
hands, feet or neck. I tried every part where a pulse beats, and found
none anywhere but in the left hip, where it beat with violence, but
often intermitted.

About ten o'clock in the forenoon he suffered a remarkable change; his
eye was rigid and his face and lips became discolored by a cadaverous
pallor. Still, such was the effect of his previous habits, that no
trace appeared of the cold sweat which naturally accompanies the last
mortal agony.

It was near eleven o'clock when the moment of dissolution approached.
His sister was standing at the foot of the bed, his sister's son at the
head. I, for the purpose of still observing the fluctuations of the
pulse in his hip, was kneeling at the bed-side; and I called his
servant to come and witness the death of his good master. Now began the
last agony, if to him it could be called an agony, where there seemed
to be no struggle. And precisely at this moment, his distinguished
friend, Mr. R. R. V., whom I had summoned by a messenger, entered the
room. First of all, the breath grew feebler; then it missed its
regularity of return; then it wholly intermitted, and the upper lip was
slightly convulsed; after this there followed one slight respiration or
sigh; and after that no more; but the pulse still beat for a few
seconds--slower and fainter, till it ceased altogether; the mechanism
stopped; the last motion was at an end; and exactly at that moment the
clock struck eleven.

Soon after his death the head of Kant was shaved; and, under the
direction of Professor Knorr, a plaster cast was taken, not a masque
merely, but a cast of the whole bead, designed (I believe) to enrich
the craniological collection of Dr. Gall.

The corpse being laid out and properly attired, immense numbers of
people of every rank, from the highest to the lowest, flocked to see
it. Everybody was anxious to make use of the last opportunity he would
have for entitling himself to say--'I too have seen Kant.' This went on
for many days--during which, from morning to night, the house was
thronged with the public. Great was the astonishment of all people at
the meagreness of Kant's appearance; and it was universally agreed that
a corpse so wasted and fleshless had never been beheld. His head rested
upon the same cushion on which once the gentlemen of the university had
presented an address to him; and I thought that I could not apply it to
a more honorable purpose than by placing it in the coffin, as the final
pillow of that immortal head.

Upon the style and mode of his funeral, Kant had expressed his wishes
in earlier years in a separate memorandum. He there desired that it
should take place early in the morning, with as little noise and
disturbance as possible, and attended only by a few of his most
intimate friends. Happening to meet with this memorandum, whilst I was
engaged at his request in arranging his papers, I very frankly gave him
my opinion, that such an injunction would lay me, as the executor of
his will, under great embarrassments; for that circumstances might very
probably arise under which it would be next to impossible to carry it
into effect. Upon this Kant tore the paper, and left the whole to my
own discretion. The fact was, I foresaw that the students of the
University would never allow themselves to be robbed of this occasion
for expressing their veneration by a public funeral. The event showed
that I was right; for a funeral such as Kant's, one so solemn and so
magnificent, the city of Königsberg has never witnessed before or
since. The public journals, and separate accounts in pamphlets, etc.,
have given so minute an account of its details, that I shall here
notice only the heads of the ceremony.

On the 28th of February, at two o'clock in the afternoon, all the
dignitaries of church and state, not only those resident in Königsberg,
but from the remotest parts of Prussia, assembled in the church of the
Castle. Hence they were escorted by the whole body of the University,
splendidly dressed for the occasion, and by many military officers of
rank, with whom Kant had always been a great favorite, to the house of
the deceased Professor; from which the corpse was carried by torch-
light, the bells of every church in Königsberg tolling, to the
Cathedral which was lit up by innumerable wax-lights. A never-ending
train of many thousand persons followed it on foot. In the Cathedral,
after the usual burial rites, accompanied with every possible
expression of national veneration to the deceased, there was a grand
musical service, most admirably performed, at the close of which Kant's
mortal remains were lowered into the academic vault, where he now rests
among the ancient patriarchs of the University. PEACE BE TO HIS DUST,

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Narrative and Miscellaneous Papers — Volume 2" ***

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