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Title: Anima Poetś

Author: Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Editor: Ernest Hartley Coleridge

Release Date: December 25, 2012 [EBook #41705]

Language: English

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All rights reserved

Entered at Stationers' Hall

Entered at the Library of Congress, Washington

Copyright, 1895

When shall I find time and ease to reduce my pocket-books and memorandums to an Index or Memoriæ Memorandorum? If—aye! and alas! if I could see the last sheet of my Assertio Fidei Christianæ, et eterni temporizantis, having previously beheld my elements of Discourse, Logic, Dialectic, and Noetic, or Canon, Criterion, and Organon, with the philosophic Glossary—in one printed volume, and the Exercises in Reasoning as another—if—what then? Why, then I would publish all that remained unused, Travels and all, under the title of Excursions Abroad and at Home, what I have seen and what I have thought with a little of what I have felt, in the words in which I told and talked them to my pocket-books, the confidants who have not betrayed me, the friends whose silence was not detraction, and the inmates before whom I was not ashamed to complain, to yearn, to weep, or even to pray! To which are added marginal notes from many old books and one or two new ones, sifted through the Mogul Sieve of Duty towards my Neighbour—by 'Εστησε.

    21 June, 1823.



Specimens of the Table Talk of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which the poet's nephew and son-in-law, Henry Nelson Coleridge, published in 1835, was a popular book from the first, and has won the approval of two generations of readers. Unlike the Biographia Literaria, or the original and revised versions of The Friend, which never had their day at all, or the Aids to Reflection, which passed through many editions, but now seems to have delivered its message, the Table Talk is still well known and widely read, and that not only by students of literature. The task which the editor set himself was a difficult one, but it lay within the powers of an attentive listener, possessed of a good memory and those rarer gifts of a refined and scholarly taste, a sound and luminous common sense. He does not attempt to reproduce Coleridge's conversation or monologue or impassioned harangue, but he preserves and [viii]notes down the detached fragments of knowledge and wisdom which fell from time to time from the master's lips. Here are "the balmy sunny islets of the blest and the intelligible," an unvexed and harbourous archipelago. Very sparingly, if at all, have those pithy "sentences" and weighty paragraphs been trimmed or pruned by the pious solicitude of the memorialist, but it must be borne in mind that the unities are more or less consciously observed, alike in the matter of the discourse and the artistic presentation to the reader. There is, in short, not merely a "mechanic" but an "organic regularity" in the composition of the work as a whole. A "myriad-minded" sage, who has seen men and cities, who has read widely and shaped his thoughts in a peculiar mould, is pouring out his stores of knowledge, the garnered fruit of a life of study and meditation, for the benefit of an apt learner, a discreet and appreciative disciple. A day comes when the marvellous lips are constrained to an endless silence, and it becomes the duty and privilege of the beloved and honoured pupil to "snatch from forgetfulness" and to hand down to posterity the great tradition of his master's eloquence. A labour of love so useful and so fascinating was accomplished by the gifted editor of the Table Talk, and it was accomplished once for all. [ix]The compilation of a new Table Talk, if it were possible, would be a mistake and an impertinence.

The present collection of hitherto unpublished aphorisms, reflections, confessions and soliloquies, which for want of a better name I have entitled Anima Poetæ, does not in any way challenge comparison with the Table Talk. It is, indeed, essentially different, not only in the sources from which it has been compiled but in constitution and in aim.

"Since I left you," writes Coleridge in a letter to Wordsworth of May 12, 1812, "my pocket-books have been my sole confidants." Doubtless, in earlier and happier days, he had been eager not merely to record but to communicate to the few who would listen or might understand the ceaseless and curious workings of his ever-shaping imagination, but from youth to age note-books and pocket-books were his silent confidants, his "never-failing friends" by night and day.

More than fifty of these remarkable documents are extant. The earliest of the series, which dates from 1795 and which is known as the "Gutch Memorandum Book," was purchased in 1868 by the trustees of the British Museum, and is now exhibited in the King's Library. It consists, for the most part, of fragments of prose[x] and verse thrown off at the moment, and stored up for future use in poem or lecture or sermon. A few of these fragments were printed in the Literary Remains (4 vols. 1836-39), and others are to be found (pp. 103, 5, 6, 9 et passim) in Herr Brandl's Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the English Romantic School. The poetical fragments are printed in extenso in Coleridge's Poetical Works (Macmillan, 1893), pp. 453-58. A few specimens of the prose fragments have been included in the first chapter of this work. One of the latest note-books, an unfinished folio, contains the Autobiographic Note of 1832, portions of which were printed in Gillman's Life of Coleridge, pp. 9-33, and a mass of unpublished matter, consisting mainly of religious exercises and biblical criticism.

Of the intervening collection of pocket-books, note-books, copy-books, of all shapes, sizes and bindings, a detailed description would be tedious and out of place. Their contents may be roughly divided into diaries of tours in Germany, the Lake District, Scotland, Sicily and Italy; notes for projected and accomplished works, rough drafts of poems, schemes of metre and metrical experiments; notes for lectures on Shakspere and other dramatists; quotations from books of travel, from Greek, Latin, German and Italian classics,[xi] with and without critical comments; innumerable fragments of metaphysical and theological speculation; and commingled with this unassorted medley of facts and thoughts and fancies, an occasional and intermitted record of personal feeling, of love and friendship, of disappointment and regret, of penitence and resolve, of faith and hope in the Unseen.

Hitherto, but little use has been made of this life-long accumulation of literary material. A few specimens, "Curiosities of Literature" they might have been called, were contributed by Coleridge himself to Southey's Omniana of 1812, and a further selection of some fifty fragments, gleaned from note-books 21-1/2 and 22, and from a third unnumbered MS. book now in my possession, were printed by H. N. Coleridge in the first volume of the Literary Remains under the heading Omniana 1809-1816. The Omniana of 1812 were, in many instances, re-written by Coleridge before they were included in Southey's volumes, and in the later issue, here and there, the editor has given shape and articulation to an unfinished or half-formed sentence. The earlier and later Omniana, together with the fragments which were published by Allsop in his Letters, Conversations and Recollections of S. T. Coleridge, in 1836, were included by the late[xii] Thomas Ashe in his reprint of the Table Talk, Bell & Co., 1884.

Some fourteen or fifteen notes of singular interest and beauty, which belong to the years 1804, 1812, 1826, 1829, etc., were printed by James Gillman in his unfinished "Life of Coleridge," and it is evident that he contemplated a more extended use of the note-books in the construction of his second volume, or, possibly, the publication of a supplementary volume of notes or Omniana. Transcripts which were made for this purpose are extant, and have been placed at my disposal by the kindness of Mrs. Henry Watson, who inherited them from her grandmother, Mrs. Gillman.

I may add that a few quotations from diaries of tours in the Lake Country and on the Continent are to be found in the foot-notes appended to the two volumes of Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge which were issued in the spring of the present year.

To publish the note-books in extenso would be impracticable, if even after the lapse of sixty years since the death of the writer it were permissible. They are private memoranda-books, and rightly and properly have been regarded as a sacred trust by their several custodians. But it is none the less certain that in disburthening[xiii] himself of the ideas and imaginations which pressed upon his consciousness, in committing them to writing and carefully preserving them through all his wanderings, Coleridge had no mind that they should perish utterly. The invisible pageantry of thought and passion which for ever floated into his spiritual ken, the perpetual hope, the half-belief that the veil of the senses would be rent in twain, and that he and not another would be the first to lay bare the mysteries of being, and to solve the problem of the ages—of these was the breath of his soul. It was his fate to wrestle from night to morn with the Angel of the Vision, and of that unequal combat he has left, by way of warning or encouragement, a broken but an inspired and inspiring record. "Hints and first thoughts" he bade us regard the contents of his memorandum-books—"cogitabilia rather than cogitata a me, not fixed opinions," and yet acts of obedience to the apostolic command of "Try all things: hold fast that which is good"—say, rather, acts of obedience to the compulsion of his own genius to "take a pen and write in a book all the words of the vision."

The aim of the present work, however imperfectly accomplished, has been to present in a compendious shape a collection of unpublished[xiv] aphorisms and sentences, and at the same time to enable the reader to form some estimate of those strange self-communings to which Coleridge devoted so much of his intellectual energies, and by means of which he hoped to pass through the mists and shadows of words and thoughts to a steadier contemplation, to the apprehension if not the comprehension of the mysteries of Truth and Being.

The various excerpts which I have selected for publication are arranged, as far as possible, in chronological order. They begin with the beginning of Coleridge's literary career, and are carried down to the summer of 1828, when he accompanied Wordsworth and his daughter Dora on a six months' tour on the Continent. The series of note-books which belong to the remaining years of his life (1828-1834) were devoted for the most part to a commentary on the Old and New Testament, to theological controversy, and to metaphysical disquisition. Whatever interest they may have possessed, or still possess, appeals to the student, not to the general reader. With his inveterate love of humorous or facetious titles, Coleridge was pleased to designate these serious and abstruse dissertations as "The Flycatchers."

My especial thanks are due to Amy, Lady[xv] Coleridge, who, in accordance with the known wishes of the late Lord Coleridge, has afforded me every facility for collating my own transcripts of the note-books, and those which were made by my father and other members of my family, with the original MSS. now in her possession.

I have to also thank Miss Edith Coleridge for valuable assistance in the preparation of the present work for the press.

The death of my friend, Mr. James Dykes Campbell, has deprived me of aid which he alone could give.

It was due to his suggestion and encouragement that I began to compile these pages, and only a few days before his death he promised me (it was all he could undertake) to "run through the proofs with my pencil in my hand." He has passed away multis flebilis, but he lived to accomplish his own work both as critic and biographer, and to leave to all who follow in his footsteps a type and example of honest workmanship and of literary excellence.

Ernest Hartley Coleridge.





"O Youth! for years so many and sweet,
'Tis known, that Thou and I were one."

S. T. C.


"We should judge of absent things by the absent. Objects which are present are apt to produce perceptions too strong to be impartially compared with those recalled only by the memory." Sir J. Stewart.

True! and O how often the very opposite is true likewise, namely, that the objects of memory are, often, so dear and vivid, that present things are injured by being compared with them, vivid from dearness!


Love, a myrtle wand, is transformed by the Aaron touch of jealousy into a serpent so vast as to swallow up every other[2] stinging woe, and makes us mourn the exchange.

Love that soothes misfortune and buoys up to virtue—the pillow of sorrows, the wings of virtue.

Disappointed love not uncommonly causes misogyny, even as extreme thirst is supposed to be the cause of hydrophobia.

Love transforms the soul into a conformity with the object loved.


From the narrow path of virtue Pleasure leads us to more flowery fields, and there Pain meets and chides our wandering. Of how many pleasures, of what lasting happiness, is Pain the parent and Woe the womb!

Real pain can alone cure us of imaginary ills. We feel a thousand miseries till we are lucky enough to feel misery.

Misfortunes prepare the heart for the enjoyment of happiness in a better state. The life of a religious benevolent man is an April day. His pains and sorrows [what are they but] the fertilising rain? The sunshine blends with every shower, and look! how full and lovely it lies on yonder hill!

Our quaint metaphysical opinions, in an hour of anguish, are like[3] playthings by the bedside of a child deadly sick.

Human happiness, like the aloe, is a flower of slow growth.

What we must do let us love to do. It is a noble chymistry that turns necessity into pleasure.


1. The first smile—what kind of reason it displays. The first smile after sickness.

2. Asleep with the polyanthus held fast in its hand, its bells dropping over the rosy face.

3. Stretching after the stars.

4. Seen asleep by the light of glowworms.

5. Sports of infants; their excessive activity, the means being the end. Nature, how lovely a school-mistress!... Children at houses of industry.

6. Infant beholding its new-born sister.

7. Kissing itself in the looking-glass.

8. The Lapland infant seeing the sun.

9. An infant's prayer on its mother's lap. Mother directing a baby's hand. (Hartley's "love to Papa," scrawls pothooks and reads what he meant by them.)

10. The infants of kings and nobles. ("Princess unkissed and foully husbanded!")

11. The souls of infants, a vision (vide Swedenborg).[4]

12. Some tales of an infant.

13. Στοργη. The absurdity of the Darwinian system (instanced by) birds and alligators.

14. The wisdom and graciousness of God in the infancy of the human species—its beauty, long continuance, etc. (Children in the wind—hair floating, tossing, a miniature of the agitated trees below which they played. The elder whirling for joy the one in petticoats, a fat baby eddying half-willingly, half by the force of the gust, driven backward, struggling forward—both drunk with the pleasure, both shouting their hymn of joy.) [Letters of S. T. C., 1895, i. 408.]

15. Poor William seeking his mother, in love with her picture, and having that union of beauty and filial affection that the Virgin Mary may be supposed to give.


Poetry, like schoolboys, by too frequent and severe correction, may be cowed into dullness!

Peculiar, not far-fetched; natural, but not obvious; delicate, not affected; dignified, not swelling; fiery, but not mad; rich in imagery, but not loaded with it—in short, a union of harmony and good sense, of perspicuity and conciseness. Thought is the body of such[5] an ode, enthusiasm the soul, and imagery the drapery.

Dr. Darwin's poetry is nothing but a succession of landscapes or paintings. It arrests the attention too often, and so prevents the rapidity necessary to pathos.

The elder languages were fitter for poetry because they expressed only prominent ideas with clearness, the others but darkly.... Poetry gives most pleasure when only generally and not perfectly understood. It was so by me with Gray's "Bard" and Collins' Odes. The "Bard" once intoxicated me, and now I read it without pleasure. From this cause it is that what I call metaphysical poetry gives me so much delight.

[Compare Lecture vi. 1811-12, Bell & Co., p. 70; and Table Talk, Oct. 23, 1833, Bell & Co., p. 264.]


Poetry which excites us to artificial feelings makes us callous to real ones.

The whale is followed by waves. I would glide down the rivulet of quiet life, a trout.

Australis [Southey] may be compared to an ostrich. He cannot fly, but he[6] has such other qualities that he needs it not.

Mackintosh intertrudes not introduces his beauties.

Snails of intellect who see only by their feelers.

Pygmy minds, measuring others by their own standard, cry What a monster, when they view a man!

Our constitution is to some like cheese—the rotten parts they like the best.

Her eyes sparkled as if they had been cut out of a diamond-quarry in some Golconda of Fairyland, and cast such meaning glances as would have vitrified the flint in a murderer's blunderbuss.

[A task] as difficult as to separate two dew-drops blended together on a bosom of a new-blown rose.

I discovered unprovoked malice in his hard heart, like a huge toad in the centre of a marble rock.

Men anxious for this world are like owls that wake all night to catch[7] mice.

At Genoa the word Liberty is engraved on the chains of the galley slaves and the doors of prisons.

Gratitude, worse than witchcraft, conjures up the pale, meagre ghosts of dead forgotten kindnesses to haunt and trouble [his memory].

The sot, rolling on his sofa, stretching and yawning, exclaimed, "Utinam hoc esset laborare."

Truth still more than Justice [is] blind, and needs Wisdom for her guide.


[A Proof of] the severity of the winter—the kingfisher [by] its slow, short flight permitting you to observe all its colours, almost as if it had been a flower.

Little daisy—very late Spring, March. Quid si vivat? Do all things in faith. Never pluck a flower again! Mem.

May 20, 1799

The nightingales in a cluster or little wood of blossomed trees, and a bat wheeling incessantly round and round! The noise of[8] the frogs was not unpleasant, like the humming of spinning wheels in a large manufactory—now and then a distinct sound, sometimes like a duck, and, sometimes, like the shrill notes of sea-fowl.

[This note was written one day later than S. T. C.'s last letter from Germany, May 19, 1799.]

O Heavens! when I think how perishable things, how imperishable thoughts seem to be! For what is forgetfulness? Renew the state of affection or bodily feeling [so as to be the] same or similar, sometimes dimly similar, and, instantly, the trains of forgotten thoughts rise from their living catacombs!

[Sockburn] October 1799

Few moments in life are so interesting as those of our affectionate reception from a stranger who is the dear friend of your dear friend! How often you have been the subject of conversation, and how affectionately!

[The note commemorates his first introduction to Mary and Sarah Hutchinson.]

Friday evening, Nov, 27, 1799

The immoveableness of all things through which so many men were moving—a harsh contrast compared with the universal motion, the harmonious system of motions in the country, and everywhere in Nature. In[9] the dim light London appeared to be a huge place of sepulchres through which hosts of spirits were gliding.

Ridicule the rage for quotations by quoting from "My Baby's Handkerchief." Analyse the causes that the ludicrous weakens memory, and laughter, mechanically, makes it difficult to remember a good story.

Sara sent twice for the measure of George's[A] neck. He wondered that Sara should be such a fool, as she might have measured William's or Coleridge's—as "all poets' throttles were of one size."

Hazlitt, the painter, told me that a picture never looked so well as when the pallet was by the side of it. Association, with the glow of production.

Mr. J. Cairns, in the Gentleman's Diary for 1800, supposes that the Nazarites, who, under the law of Moses, had their heads [shaved] must have used some sort of wigs!

Slanting pillars of misty light moved along under the sun hid by clouds.

Leaves of trees upturned by the stirring wind in twilight—an image of[10] paleness, wan affright.

A child scolding a flower in the words in which he had been himself scolded and whipped, is poetry—passion past with pleasure.

July 20, 1800

Poor fellow at a distance—idle? in this hay-time when wages are so high? [We] come near [and] then [see that he is] pale, can scarce speak or throw out his fishing rod.

[This incident is fully described by Wordsworth in the last of the four poems on "Naming of Places."

Poetical Works of W. Wordsworth, 1889, p. 144.]

September 1, [1800]

The beards of thistle and dandelions flying about the lonely mountains like life—and I saw them through the trees skimming the lake like swallows.

["And, in our vacant mood,
Not seldom did we stop to watch some tuft
Of dandelion seed or thistle's beard,
That skimmed the surface of the dead calm lake,
Suddenly halting now—a lifeless stand!
And starting off again with freak as sudden;
In all its sportive wanderings, all the while,
Making report of an invisible breeze[11]
That was its wings, its chariot and its horse,
Its playmate, rather say, its moving soul."
Ibid. p. 143.]

Luther—a hero, fettered, indeed, with prejudices—but with those very fetters he would knock out the brains of a modern Fort Esprit.

Comment. Frightening by his prejudices, as a spirit does by clanking his chains.

Not only words, as far as relates to speaking, but the knowledge of words as distinct component parts, which we learn by learning to read—what an immense effect it must have on our reasoning faculties! Logical in opposition to real.


Children, in making new words, always do it analogously. Explain this.

Hot-headed men confuse, your cool-headed gentry jumble. The man of warm feelings only produces order and true connection. In what a jumble M. and H. write, every third paragraph beginning with "Let us now return," or "We come now to the consideration of such a thing"—that is, what I said I would come to in the contents prefixed to the chapter.

Dec. 19, 1800

The thin scattered rain-clouds were scudding along the sky; above them,[12] with a visible interspace, the crescent moon hung, and partook not of the motion; her own hazy light filled up the concave, as if it had been painted and the colours had run.

"He to whom all things are one, who draweth all things to one, and seeth all things in one, may enjoy true peace of mind and rest of spirit."—Jeremy Taylor's Via Pacis.

To each reproach that thunders from without may remorse groan an echo.

A prison without ransom, anguish without patience, a sick bed in the house of contempt.

To think of a thing is different from to perceive it, as "to walk" is from to "feel the ground under you;" perhaps in the same way too—namely, a succession of perceptions accompanied by a sense of nisus and purpose.

Space, is it merely another word for the perception of a capability of additional magnitude, or does this very perception presuppose the idea of space? The latter is Kant's opinion.

A babe who had never known greater cruelty than that of being snatched[13] away by its mother for half a moment from the breast in order to be kissed.

To attempt to subordinate the idea of time to that of likeness.

Every man asks how? This power to instruct is the true substratum of philosophy.

Godwin's philosophy is contained in these words: Rationem defectus esse defectum rationis.—Hobbes.

Hartley just able to speak a few words, making a fire-place of stones, with stones for fire—four stones for the fire-place, two for the fire—seems to illustrate a theory of language, the use of arbitrary symbols in imagination. Hartley walked remarkably soon and, therefore, learnt to talk remarkably late.

Anti-optimism! Praised be our Maker, and to the honour of human nature is it, that we may truly call this an inhuman opinion. Man strives after good.

Materialists unwilling to admit the mysterious element of our nature[14] make it all mysterious—nothing mysterious in nerves, eyes, &c., but that nerves think, etc.! Stir up the sediment into the transparent water, and so make all opaque.


As we recede from anthropomorphism we must go either to the Trinity or Pantheism. The Fathers who were Unitarians were anthropomorphites.

EGOTISM January 1801

Empirics are boastful and egotists because they introduce real or apparent novelty, which excites great opposition, [while] personal opposition creates re-action (which is of course a consciousness of power) associated with the person re-acting. Paracelsus was a boaster, it is true; so were the French Jacobins, and Wolff, though not a boaster, was persecuted into a habit of egotism in his philosophical writings; so Dr. John Brown, and Milton in his prose works; and those, in similar circumstances, who, from prudence, abstain from egotism in their writings are still egotists among their friends. It would be unnatural effort not to be so, and egotism in such cases is by no means offensive to a kind and discerning man.

Some flatter themselves that they abhor egotism, and do not suffer it to appear prim‚ facie,[15] either in their writings or conversation, however much and however personally they or their opinions have been opposed. What now? Observe, watch those men; their habits of feeling and thinking are made up of contempt, which is the concentrated vinegar of egotism—it is lætitia mixta cum odio, a notion of the weakness of another conjoined with a notion of our own comparative strength, though that weakness is still strong enough to be troublesome to us, though not formidable.

"—and the deep power of Joy
We see into the Life of Things."


By deep feeling we make our ideas dim, and this is what we mean by our life, ourselves. I think of the wall—it is before me a distinct image. Here I necessarily think of the idea and the thinking I as two distinct and opposite things. Now let me think of myself, of the thinking being. The idea becomes dim, whatever it be—so dim that I know not what it is; but the feeling is deep and steady, and this I call I—identifying the percipient and the perceived.

"O Thou! whose fancies from afar are brought."

March 17, 1801, Tuesday

Hartley, looking out of my study window, fixed his eyes steadily and for some time on the opposite prospect and said, "Will yon mountains always be?" I shewed him the whole magnificent prospect in a looking-glass,[16] and held it up, so that the whole was like a canopy or ceiling over his head, and he struggled to express himself concerning the difference between the thing and the image almost with convulsive effort. I never before saw such an abstract of thinking as a pure act and energy—of thinking as distinguished from thought.


Monday, April 1801, and Tuesday, read two works of Giordano Bruno, with one title-page: Jordani Bruni Nolani de Monade, Numero et Figur‚ liber consequens. Quinque de Minimo, Magno et Mensur‚. Item. De Innumerabilibus Immenso, et Infigurabili seu de Universo et Mundis libri octo. Francofurti, Apud Joan. Wechelum et Petrum Fischerum consortes, 1591.

Then follows the dedication, then the index of contents of the whole volume, at the end of which index is a Latin ode, conceived with great dignity and grandeur of thought. Then the work De Monade, Numero et Figur‚, secretioris nempe Physicæ, Mathematicæ, et Metaphysicæ elementa commences, which, as well as the eight books De Innumerabili, &c., is a poem in Latin hexameters, divided (each book) into chapters, and to each chapter is affixed a prose commentary. If the five books de Minimo, &c., to which this book is consequent are of the same character, I lost nothing in not having it. As to[17] the work De Monade, it was far too numerical, lineal and Pythagorean for my comprehension. It read very much like Thomas Taylor and Proclus, &c. I by no means think it certain that there is no meaning in these works. Nor do I presume even to suppose that the meaning is of no value (till I understand a man's ignorance I presume myself ignorant of his understanding), but it is for others, at present, not for me. Sir P. Sidney and Fulk Greville shut the doors at their philosophical conferences with Bruno. If his conversation resembled this book, I should have thought he would have talked with a trumpet.

The poems and commentaries, in the De Immenso et Innumerabili are of a different character. The commentary is a very sublime enunciation of the dignity of the human soul, according to the principles of Plato.

[Here follows the passage, "Anima Sapiens ——ubique totus," quoted in The Friend (Coleridge's Works, ii. 109), together with a brief résumé of Bruno's other works. See, too, Biographia Literaria, chapter ix. (Coleridge's Works, iii. 249).]


The spring with the little tiny cone of loose sand ever rising and sinking at the bottom, but its surface without a wrinkle.

Monday, September 14, 1801

Northern lights remarkably fine—chiefly a purple-blue—in shooting[18] pyramids, moved from over Bassenthwaite behind Skiddaw. Derwent's birthday, one year old.

September 15, 1801

Observed the great half moon setting behind the mountain ridge, and watched the shapes its various segments presented as it slowly sunk—first the foot of a boot, all but the heel—then a little pyramid ∆—then a star of the first magnitude—indeed, it was not distinguishable from the evening star at its largest—then rapidly a smaller, a small, a very small star—and, as it diminished in size, so it grew paler in tint. And now where is it? Unseen—but a little fleecy cloud hangs above the mountain ridge, and is rich in amber light.

I do not wish you to act from those truths. No! still and always act from your feelings; but only meditate often on these truths, that sometime or other they may become your feelings.

The state should be to the religions under its protection as a well-drawn picture, equally eyeing all in the room.

Quære, whether or no too great definiteness of terms in any language may[19] not consume too much of the vital and idea-creating force in distinct, clear, full-made images, and so prevent originality. For original might be distinguished from positive thought.

The thing that causes instability in a particular state, of itself causes stability. For instance, wet soap slips off the ledge—detain it till it dries a little, and it sticks.

Is there anything in the idea that citizens are fonder of good eating and rustics of strong drink—the one from the rarity of all such things, the other from the uniformity of his life?

October 19, 1801

On the Greta, over the bridge by Mr. Edmundson's father-in-law, the ashes—their leaves of that light yellow which autumn gives them, cast a reflection on the river like a painter's sunshine.

October 20, 1801

My birthday. The snow fell on Skiddaw and Grysdale Pike for the first time.

[A life-long mistake. He was born October 21, 1772.]

Tuesday evening, 1/2 past 6, October 22, 1801

All the mountains black and tremendously obscure, except Swinside. At this time I saw, one after the other, nearly in the same place,[20] two perfect moon-rainbows, the one foot in the field below my garden, the other in the field nearest but two to the church. It was grey-moonlight-mist-colour. Friday morning, Mary Hutchinson arrives.

The art in a great man, and of evidently superior faculties, to be often obliged to people, often his inferiors—in this way the enthusiasm of affection may be excited. Pity where we can help and our help is accepted with gratitude, conjoined with admiration, breeds an enthusiastic affection. The same pity conjoined with admiration, where neither our help is accepted nor efficient, breeds dyspathy and fear.

Nota bene to make a detailed comparison, in the manner of Jeremy Taylor, between the searching for the first cause of a thing and the seeking the fountains of the Nile—so many streams, each with its particular fountain—and, at last, it all comes to a name!

The soul a mummy embalmed by Hope in the catacombs.

To write a series of love poems truly Sapphic, save that they shall have a large interfusion of moral sentiment and calm imagery—love in all the moods of mind, philosophic, fantastic[21]—in moods of high enthusiasm, of simple feeling, of mysticism, of religion—comprise in it all the practice and all the philosophy of love!

Ὁ μυριονους—hyperbole from Naucratius' panegyric of Theodoras Chersites. Shakspere, item, ὁ πολλτος και πολυειδης τη ποικιλοστροφω σοφια. Ὁ μεγαλοφρωνοτατος της αληθειας κηρυξ.—Lord Bacon.

[Compare Biographia Literaria, cap. xv., "our myriad-minded Shakspere" and footnote. Ανηρ μυριονους a phrase which I have borrowed from a Greek monk, who applies it to a Patriarch of Constantinople. I might have said that I have reclaimed rather than borrowed it; for it seems to belong to Shakspere, de jure singulari, et ex privilegio naturæ. Coleridge's Works, iii. 375.]


[A] Presumably George Dyer.




"In a half sleep, he dreams of better worlds,
And dreaming hears thee still, O singing lark,
That singest like an angel in the clouds!"

S. T. C.


No one can leap over his own shadow, but poets leap over death.

The old world begins a new year. That is ours, but this is from God.

We may think of time as threefold. Slowly comes the Future, swift the Present passes by, but the Past is unmoveable. No impatience will quicken the loiterer, no terror, no delight rein in the flyer, and no regret set in motion the stationary. Wouldst be happy, take the delayer for thy counsellor; do not choose the flyer for thy friend, nor the ever-remainer for thine enemy.


Vastum, incultum, solitudo mera, et incrinitissima nuditas.

[Crinitus, covered with hair, is to be found in[23] Cicero, nuditas in Quintilian, but incrinitissima is, probably, Coleridgian Latinity.]

[An old man gloating over his past vices may be compared to the] devil at the very end of hell, warming himself at the reflection of the fire in the ice.

Dimness of vision, mist, &c., magnify the powers of sight, numbness adds to those of touch. A numb limb seems twice its real size.

Take away from sounds the sense of outness, and what a horrible disease would every minute become! A drive over a pavement would be exquisite torture. What, then, is sympathy if the feelings be not disclosed? An inward reverberation of the stifled cry of distress.

Metaphysics make all one's thoughts equally corrosive on the body, by inducing a habit of making momently and common thought the subject of uncommon interest and intellectual energy.

A kind-hearted man who is obliged to give a refusal or the like which will inflict great pain, finds a relief in doing it roughly and fiercely. Explain this and use it in Christabel.

The unspeakable comfort to a good man's mind, nay, even to a criminal,[24] to be understood—to have some one that understands one—and who does not feel that, on earth, no one does? The hope of this, always more or less disappointed, gives the passion to friendship.


Hartley, at Mr. Clarkson's, sent for a candle. The seems made him miserable. "What do you mean, my love?" "The seems, the seems. What seems to be and is not, men and faces, and I do not [know] what, ugly, and sometimes pretty, and these turn ugly, and they seem when my eyes are open and worse when they are shut—and the candle cures the seems."

Great injury has resulted from the supposed incompatibility of one talent with another, judgment with imagination and taste, good sense with strong feeling, &c. If it be false, as assuredly it is, the opinion has deprived us of a test which every man might apply. [Hence] Locke's opinions of Blackmore, Hume's of Milton and Shakspere.

October 25, 1802

I began to look through Swift's works. First volume, containing "Tale of a Tub," wanting. Second volume—the sermon on the Trinity, rank Socinianism, purus putus Socinianism, while the author rails against the Socinians for monsters.

The first sight of green fields with the numberless nodding gold cups,[25] and the winding river with alders on its banks, affected me, coming out of a city confinement, with the sweetness and power of a sudden strain of music.

Mem. to end my preface with "in short, speaking to the poets of the age, 'Primus vestrŻm non sum, neque imus.' I am none of the best, I am none of the meanest of you."—Burton.

"Et pour moi, le bonheur n'a commencé que lorsque je l'ai eu perdu. Je mettrais volontiers sur la porte du Paradis le vers que le Dante a mis sur celle de l'Enfer.

'Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch' entrate.'"

Were I Achilles, I would have had my leg cut off, and have got rid of my vulnerable heel.

In natural objects we feel ourselves, or think of ourselves, only by likenesses—among men, too often by differences. Hence the soothing, love-kindling effect of rural nature—the bad passions of human societies. And why is difference linked with hatred?


Regular post—its influence on the general literature of the country;[26] turns two-thirds of the nation into writers.

Socinianism, moonlight; methodism, a stove. O for some sun to unite heat and light!

Nov. 25, 1802

I intend to examine minutely the nature, cause, birth and growth of the verbal imagination, in the possession of which Barrow excels almost every other writer of prose.

Sunday, December 19

Remember the pear trees in the lovely vale of Teme. Every season Nature converts me from some unloving heresy, and will make a Catholic of me at last.

A fine and apposite quotation, or a good story, so far from promoting, are wont to damp the easy commerce of sensible chit-chat.

We imagine ourselves discoverers, and that we have struck a light, when, in reality, at most, we have but snuffed a candle.

A thief in the candle, consuming in a blaze the tallow belonging to the wick which has sunk out of sight, is an apt simile for a plagiarist from a dead author.

An author with a new play which has been hissed off the stage is not[27] unlike a boy who has launched on a pond a ship of his own making, and tries to prove to his schoolfellows that it ought to have sailed.

Repose after agitation is like the pool under a waterfall, which the waterfall has made.

Something inherently mean in action! Even the creation of the universe disturbs my idea of the Almighty's greatness—would do so but that I perceive that thought with Him creates.

The great federal republic of the universe.

T. Wedgwood's objection to my "Things and Thoughts," because "thought always implies an act or nisus of mind" is not well founded. A thought and thoughts are quite different words from Thought, as a fancy from Fancy, a work from Work, a life from Life, a force and forces from Force, a feeling, a writing [from Feelings, Writings.]

May 10, 1803

To fall asleep. Is not a real event in the body well represented by this phrase? Is it in excess when on first dropping asleep we fall[28] down precipices, or sink down, all things sinking beneath us, or drop down? Is there not a disease from deficiency of this critical sensation when people imagine that they have been awake all night, and actually lie dreaming, expecting and wishing for the critical sensation?

[Compare the phrase, "precipices of distempered sleep," in the sonnet, "No more my visionary soul shall dwell," attributed by Southey to Favell.—Life and Corresp. of R. Southey, i. 224.]


[He] drew out the secrets from men's hearts as the Egyptian enchanters by particular strains of music draw out serpents from their lurking-places.


The rocks and stones put on a vital resemblance and life itself seemed, thereby, to forego its restlessness, to anticipate in its own nature an infinite repose, and to become, as it were, compatible with immoveability.

Bright reflections, in the canal, of the blue and green vitriol bottles in the druggists' shops in London.

A curious, and more than curious, fact, that when the country does not benefit, it depraves. Hence the violent, vindictive passions[29] and the outrageous and dark and wild cruelties of very many country folk. [On the other hand] the continual sight of human faces and human houses, as in China, emasculates [and degrades.]

Monday night, June 8, 1803

"He who cannot wait for his reward has, in reality, not earned it." These words I uttered in a dream, in which a lecture I was giving—a very profound one, as I thought—was not listened to, but I was quizzed.

Tuesday night, July 19, 1803

Intensely hot day; left off a waistcoat and for yarn wore silk stockings. Before nine o'clock, had unpleasant chillness; heard a noise which I thought Derwent's in sleep, listened, and found it was a calf bellowing. Instantly came on my mind that night I slept out at Ottery, and the calf in the field across the river whose lowing so deeply impressed me. Chill + child and calf-lowing—probably the Rivers Greta and Otter. [Letters of S.T.C., 1895, i. 14, note.]

October, 1803

A smile, as foreign or alien to, as detached from the gloom of the countenance, as I have seen a small spot of light travel slowly and sadly along the mountain's breast, when all beside has been dark with the storm.


Never to lose an opportunity of reasoning against the head-dimming,[30] heart-damping principle of judging a work by its defects, not its beauties. Every work must have the former—we know it a priori—but every work has not the latter, and he, therefore, who discovers them, tells you something that you could not with certainty, or even with probability, have anticipated.


I am sincerely glad that he has bidden farewell to all small poems, and is devoting himself to his great work, grandly imprisoning, while it deifies, his attention and feelings within the sacred circle and temple-walls of great objects and elevated conceptions. In those little poems, his own corrections coming of necessity so often—at the end of every fourteen or twenty lines, or whatever the poem might chance to be—wore him out; difference of opinion with his best friends irritated him, and he wrote, at times, too much with a sectarian spirit, in a sort of bravado. But now he is at the helm of a noble bark; now he sails right onward; it is all open ocean and a steady breeze, and he drives before it, unfretted by short tacks, reefing and unreefing the sails, hauling and disentangling the ropes. His only disease is the having been out of his element; his return to it is food to famine; it is both the specific remedy and the condition of health.


Without drawing, I feel myself but half invested with language. Music,[31] too, is wanting to me. But yet, though one should unite poetry, draftsman's skill, and music, the greater and, perhaps, nobler, certainly all the subtler, parts of one's nature must be solitary. Man exists herein to himself and to God alone—yea! in how much only to God! how much lies below his own consciousness!

The tree or sea-weed like appearance of the side of the mountain, all white with snow, made by little bits of snow loosened. Introduce this and the stones leaping rabbit-like down on my sopha of sods. [Vide p. 60.]

The sunny mist, the luminous gloom of Plato.


Nothing affects me much at the moment it happens. It either stupefies me, and I, perhaps, look at a merry-make and dance-the-hay of flies, or listen entirely to the loud click of the great clock, or I am simply indifferent, not without some sense of philosophical self-complacency. For a thing at the moment is but a thing of the moment; it must be taken up into the mind, diffuse itself through the whole multitude of shapes and thoughts, not one of which it leaves untinged, between [not one of] which and it some[32] new thought is not engendered. Now this is a work of time, but the body feels it quicker with me.


On St. Herbert's Island, I saw a large spider with most beautiful legs, floating in the air on his back by a single thread which he was spinning out, and still, as he spun, heaving on the air, as if the air beneath was a pavement elastic to his strokes. From the top of a very high tree he had spun his line; at length reached the bottom, tied his thread round a piece of grass, and reascended to spin another—a net to hang, as a fisherman's sea-net hangs, in the sun and wind to dry.


One excellent use of communication of sorrow to a friend is this, that in relating what ails us, we ourselves first know exactly what the real grief is, and see it for itself in its own form and limits. Unspoken grief is a misty medley of which the real affliction only plays the first fiddle, blows the horn to a scattered mob of obscure feelings. Perhaps, at certain moments, a single, almost insignificant sorrow may, by association, bring together all the little relicts of pain and discomfort, bodily and mental, that we have endured even from infancy.


One may best judge of men by their pleasures. Who has not known men who have passed the day in honourable toil with[33] honour and ability, and at night sought the vilest pleasure in the vilest society? This is the man's self. The other is a trick learnt by heart (for we may even learn the power of extemporaneous elocution and instant action as an automatic trick); but a man's pleasures—children, books, friends, nature, the Muse—O these deceive not.


Even among good and sensible men, how common it is that one attaches himself scrupulously to the rigid performance of some minor virtue or makes a point of carrying some virtue into all its minutiæ, and is just as lax in a similar point, professedly lax. What this is depends, seemingly, on temperament. A makes no conscience of a little flattery in cases where he is certain that he is not acting from base or interested motives—in short, whenever his only motives are the amusement, the momentary pleasure given, &c., a medley of good nature, diseased proneness to sympathy, and a habit of being wiser behind the curtain than his own actions before it. B would die rather than deviate from truth and sincerity in this instance, but permits himself to utter, nay, publish the harshest censure of men as moralists and as literati, and that, too, on his simple ipse dixit, without assigning any reason, and often without having any, save that he himself believes it—believes it because he dislikes the man, and dis[34]likes him probably for his looks, or, at best, for some one fault without any collation of the sum total of the man's qualities. Yet A and B are both good men, as the world goes. They do not act from conscious self-love, and are amenable to principles in their own minds.

BRIGHT OCTOBER October 21, 1803, Friday morning

A drizzling rain. Heavy masses of shapeless vapour upon the mountains (O the perpetual forms of Borrowdale!) yet it is no unbroken tale of dull sadness. Slanting pillars travel across the lake at long intervals, the vaporous mass whitens in large stains of light—on the lakeward ridge of that huge arm-chair of Lodore fell a gleam of softest light, that brought out the rich hues of the late autumn. The woody Castle Crag between me and Lodore is a rich flower-garden of colours—the brightest yellows with the deepest crimsons and the infinite shades of brown and green, the infinite diversity of which blends the whole, so that the brighter colours seem to be colours upon a ground, not coloured things. Little woolpacks of white bright vapour rest on different summits and declivities. The vale is narrowed by the mist and cloud, yet through the wall of mist you can see into a bower of sunny light, in Borrowdale; the birds are singing in the tender rain, as if it were the rain of April, and the decaying foliage were flowers and blossoms. The pillar of smoke[35] from the chimney rises up in the mist, and is just distinguishable from it, and the mountain forms in the gorge of Borrowdale consubstantiate with the mist and cloud, even as the pillar'd smoke—a shade deeper and a determinate form.


A most unpleasant dispute with Wordsworth and Hazlitt. I spoke, I fear, too contemptuously; but they spoke so irreverently, so malignantly of the Divine Wisdom that it overset me. Hazlitt, how easily raised to rage and hatred self-projected! but who shall find the force that can drag him up out of the depth into one expression of kindness, into the showing of one gleam of the light of love on his countenance. Peace be with him! But thou, dearest Wordsworth—and what if Ray, Durham, Paley have carried the observation of the aptitude of things too far, too habitually into pedantry? O how many worse pedantries! how few so harmless, with so much efficient good! Dear William, pardon pedantry in others, and avoid it in yourself, instead of scoffing and reviling at pedantry in good men and a good cause and becoming a pedant yourself in a bad cause—even by that very act becoming one. But, surely, always to look at the superficies of objects for the purpose of taking delight in their beauty, and sympathy with their real or imagined life, is as deleterious to the health and manhood of intellect as, always[36] to be peering and unravelling contrivance may be to the simplicity of the affection and the grandeur and unity of the imagination. O dearest William! would Ray or Durham have spoken of God as you spoke of Nature?

W. H.

Hazlitt to the feelings of anger and hatred, phosphorus—it is but to open the cork and it flames—but to love and serviceable friendship, let them, like Nebuchadnezzar, heat the furnace with a sevenfold heat, this triune, Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-nego, will shiver in the midst of it.

THE ORIGIN OF EVIL Thursday October 27, 1803

I sate for my picture [to Hazlitt]—heard from Southey the "Institution of the Jesuits," during which some interesting idea occurred to me, and has escaped. I made out, however, the whole business of the origin of evil satisfactorily to my own mind, and forced H. to confess that the metaphysical argument reduced itself to this, Why did not infinite Power always exclusively produce such beings as in each moment of their duration were infinite? why, in short, did not the Almighty create an absolutely infinite number of Almighties? The hollowness and impiety of the argument will be felt by considering that, suppose a universal happiness, a perfection of the moral as well as natural world, still the whole objection applies just as forcibly as at this[37] moment. The malignity of the Deity (I shudder even at the assumption of this affrightful and Satanic language) is manifested in the creation of archangels and cherubs and the whole company of pure Intelligences burning in their unquenchable felicity, equally as in the creation of Neros and Tiberiuses, of stone and leprosy. Suppose yourself perfectly happy, yet, according to this argument, you ought to charge God with malignity for having created you—your own life and all its comforts are in the indictment against the Creator—for surely even a child would be ashamed to answer, "No! I should still exist, only in that case, instead of being a man, I should be an infinite being." As if the word I here had even the remotest semblance of a meaning. Infinitely more absurd than if I should write the fraction 11000 on a slate, then rub it out with my sponge, and write in the same place the integral number 555,666,879, and then observe that the former figure was greatly improved by the measure, that it was grown a far finer figure!—conceiting a change where there had been positive substitution. Thus, then, it appears that the sole justification of those who, offended by the vice and misery of the created world, as far as we know it, impeach the power and goodness of the Almighty, making the proper cause of such vice and misery to have been a defect either of power or goodness—it appears, I say,[38] that their sole justification rests on an argument which has nothing to do with vice and misery, as vice and misery—on an argument which would hold equally good in heaven as in hell—on an argument which it might be demonstrated no human being in a state of happiness could ever have conceived—an argument which a millennium would annihilate, and which yet would hold equally good then as now! But even in point of metaphysic the whole rests at last on the conceivable. Now, I appeal to every man's internal consciousness, if he will but sincerely and in brotherly simplicity silence the bustle of argument in his mind and the ungenial feelings that mingle with and fill up the mob, and then ask his own intellect whether, supposing he could conceive the creation of positively infinite and co-equal beings, and whether, supposing this not only possible but real, this has exhausted his notion of creatability? whether the intellect, by an unborn and original law of its essence, does not demand of infinite power more than merely infinity of number, infinity of sorts and orders? Let him have created this infinity of infinites, still there is space in the imagination for the creation of finites; but instead of these, let him again create infinites; yet still the same space is left, it is no way filled up. I feel, too, that the whole rests on a miserable sophism of applying to an Almighty Being such words as[39] all. Why were not all Gods? But there is no all in creation. It is composed of infinites, and the imagination, bewildered by heaping infinites on infinites and wearying of demanding increase of number to a number which it conceives already infinite, deserted by images and mocked by words, whose sole substance is the inward sense of difficulty that accompanies all our notions of infinity applied to numbers—turns with delight to distinct images and clear ideas, contemplates a world, an harmonious system, where an infinity of kinds subsist each in a multitude of individuals apportionate to its kind in conformity to laws existing in the divine nature, and therefore in the nature of things. We cannot, indeed, prove this in any other way than by finding it as impossible to deny omniform, as eternal, agency to God—by finding it impossible to conceive that an omniscient Being should not have a distinct idea of finite beings, or that distinct ideas in the mind of God should be without the perfection of real existence, that is, imperfect. But this is a proof subtle indeed, yet not more so than the difficulty. The intellect that can start the one can understand the other, if his vices do not prevent him. Admit for a moment that "conceive" is equivalent to creation in the divine nature, synonymous with "to beget" (a feeling of which has given to marriage a mysterious sanctity and sacramental significance in[40] the mind of many great and good men)—admit this, and all difficulty ceases, all tumult is hushed, all is clear and beautiful. We sit in the dark, but each by the side of his little fire, in his own group, and lo! the summit of the distant mountain is smitten with light. All night long it has dwelt there, and we look at it and know that the sun is not extinguished, that he is elsewhere bright and vivifying, that he is coming to us, to make our fires needless; yet, even now, that our cold and darkness are so called only in comparison with the heat and light of the coming day, never wholly deserted of the rays.

This I wrote on Friday morning, forty minutes past three o'clock, the sky covered with one cloud that yet lies in dark and light shades, and though one smooth cloud, by the dark colour, it appears to be steppy.

A DREAM AND A PARENTHESIS Friday morning, 5 o'clock

Dozing, dreamt of Hartley as at his christening—how, as he was asked who redeemed him, and was to say, "God the Son," he went on humming and hawing in one hum and haw (like a boy who knows a thing and will not make the effort to recollect) so as to irritate me greatly. Awakening gradually, I was able completely to detect that it was the ticking of my watch, which lay in the pen-place in my desk, on the round table close by my ear, and which, in the diseased state of my nerves, had[41] fretted on my ears. I caught the fact while Hartley's face and moving lips were yet before my eyes, and his hum and haw and the ticking of the watch were each the other, as often happens in the passing off of sleep—that curious modification of ideas by each other which is the element of bulls. I arose instantly and wrote it down. It is now ten minutes past five.

To return to the question of evil—woe to the man to whom it is an uninteresting question, though many a mind over-wearied by it may shun it with dread. And here—N.B.—scourge with deserved and lofty scorn those critics who laugh at the discussion of old questions: God, right and wrong, necessity and arbitrement, evil, &c. No! forsooth, the question must be new, spicy hot gingerbread, from a French constitution to a balloon, change of ministry, or, Which had the best of it in the parliamentary duel, Wyndham or Sheridan? or, at the best, a chymical thing [or] whether the new celestial bodies shall be called planets or asteroids—something new [it must be], something out of themselves—for whatever is in them is deep within them—must be old as elementary nature [but] to find no contradiction in the union of old and novel—to contemplate the Ancient of Days with feelings new as if they then sprang forth at His own Fiat—this marks the mind that feels the[42] riddle of the world, and may help to unravel it. But to return to the question. The whole rests on the sophism of imaginary change in a case of positive substitution. This, I fully believe, settles the question. The assertion that there is in the essence of the divine nature a necessity of omniform harmonious action, and that order and system (not number—in itself base, disorderly and irrational) define the creative energy, determine and employ it, and that number is subservient to order, regulated, organised, made beautiful and rational, an object both of imagination and intellect by order—this is no mere assertion, it is strictly in harmony with the fact. For the world appears so, and it is proved by whatever proves the being of God. Indeed, it is involved in the idea of God.


What is it that I employ my metaphysics on? To perplex our clearest notions and living moral instincts? To extinguish the light of love and of conscience, to put out the life of arbitrement, to make myself and others worthless, soulless, Godless? No, to expose the folly and the legerdemain of those who have thus abused the blessed organ of language, to support all old and venerable truths, to support, to kindle, to project, to make the reason spread light over our feelings, to make our feelings diffuse vital warmth through our reason—these[43] are my objects and these my subjects. Is this the metaphysic that bad spirits in hell delight in?

IN THE VISIONS OF THE NIGHT Nov. 2, 1803, Wednesday morning, 20 minutes past 2 o'clock

The voice of the Greta and the cock-crowing. The voice seems to grow like a flower on or about the water beyond the bridge, while the cock-crowing is nowhere particular—it is at any place I imagine and do not distinctly see. A most remarkable sky! the moon, now waned to a perfect ostrich egg, hangs over our house almost, only so much beyond it, garden-ward, that I can see it, holding my head out of the smaller study window. The sky is covered with whitish and with dingy cloudage, thin dingiest scud close under the moon, and one side of it moving, all else moveless; but there are two great breaks of blue sky, the one stretches over our house and away toward Castlerigg, and this is speckled and blotched with white cloud; the other hangs over the road, in the line of the road, in the shape of an ellipse or shuttle, I do not know what to call it—this is unspeckled, all blue, three stars in it—more in the former break, all unmoving. The water leaden-white, even as the grey gleam of water is in latest twilight. Now while I have been writing this and gazing between-whiles (it is forty minutes past two), the break over the road is swallowed up, and the stars gone; the break[44] over the house is narrowed into a rude circle, and on the edge of its circumference one very bright star. See! already the white mass, thinning at its edge, fights with its brilliance. See! it has bedimmed it, and now it is gone, and the moon is gone. The cock-crowing too has ceased. The Greta sounds on for ever. But I hear only the ticking of my watch in the pen-place of my writing-desk and the far lower note of the noise of the fire, perpetual, yet seeming uncertain. It is the low voice of quiet change, of destruction doing its work by little and little.


O! The impudence of those who dare hold property to be the great binder-up of the affections of the young to the old, &c., and Godwin's folly in his book! Two brothers in this country fought in the mourning coach, and stood with black eyes and their black clothes all blood over their father's grave.

EARLY DEATH November 1803

Poor Miss Dacre! born with a spinal deformity, that prophesied the early death it occasioned. Such are generally gentle and innocent beings. God seems to stamp on their foreheads the seal of death, in sign of appropriation. No evil dares approach the sacred hieroglyphic on this seal of redemption; we on earth interpret early death, but the heavenly spirits, that minister around us, read in it "Abiding innocence."

Something to me delicious in the thought that one who dies a baby[45] presents to the glorified Saviour and Redeemer that same sweet face of infancy which He blessed when on earth, and sanctified with a kiss, and solemnly pronounced to be the type and sacrament of regeneration.

THE NIGHT SIDE OF NATURE November 9, Wednesday night, 45 min. past 6

The town, with lighted windows and noise of the clogged passengers in the streets—sound of the unseen river. Mountains scarcely perceivable except by eyes long used to them, and supported by the images of memory flowing in on the impulses of immediate impression. On the sky, black clouds; two or three dim, untwinkling stars, like full stops on damp paper, and large stains and spreads of sullen white, like a tunic of white wool seen here and there through a torn and tattered cloak of black. Whence do these stains of white proceed all over the sky, so long after sunset, and from their indifference of place in the sky, seemingly unaffected by the west?

November 10, 1/2 past 2 o'clock, morning

Awoke, after long struggles, from a persecuting dream. The tale of the dream began in two images, in two sons of a nobleman, desperately fond of shooting, brought out by the footman to resign their property, and to be made believe that they had none. They were far too[46] cunning for that, and as they struggled and resisted their cruel wrongers, and my interest for them, I suppose, increased, I became they—the duality vanished—Boyer and Christ's Hospital became concerned; yet, still, the former story was kept up, and I was conjuring him, as he met me in the street, to have pity on a nobleman's orphan, when I was carried up to bed, and was struggling up against some unknown impediment—when a noise of one of the doors awoke me. Drizzle; the sky uncouthly marbled with white vapours and large black clouds, their surface of a fine woolly grain, but in the height and key-stone of the arch a round space of sky with dim watery stars, like a friar's crown; the seven stars in the central seen through white vapour that, entirely shapeless, gave a whiteness to the circle of the sky, but stained with exceedingly thin and subtle flakes of black vapour, might be happily said in language of Boccace (describing Demogorgon, in his Genealogia De Gli Dei) to be vestito d'una pallidezza affumicata.

Tuesday night, 1/4 after 7

The sky covered with stars, the wind up—right opposite my window, over Brandelhow, as its centre, and extending from the gorge to Whinlatter, an enormous black cloud, exactly in the shape of an egg—this, the only cloud in all the sky, impressed me with a demoniacal grandeur. O for change of weather!

Sunday morning, Nov. 13, 12 past 2

The sky, in upon Grysdale Pike and onward[47] to the Withop Fells, floored with flat, smooth, dark or dingy clouds, elsewhere starry. Though seven stars and all the rest in the height of the heaven be dimmed, those in the descent bright and frosty. The river has a loud voice, self-biographer of to-day's rain and thunder-showers. The owls are silent; they have been very musical. All weathers on Saturday the twelfth, storm and frost, sunshine, lightning and what not! God be praised, though sleepless, am marvellously bettered, and I take it for granted that the barometer has risen. I have been reading Barrow's treatise "On the Pope's Supremacy," and have made a note on the L'Estrangeism of his style whenever his thoughts rendered it possible for the words to be pert, frisky and vulgar—which, luckily, could not be often, from the gravity of his subjects, the solidity and appropriateness of his thoughts, and that habitual geometrical precision of mind which demanded the most appropriate words. He seems to me below South in dignity; at least, South never sinks so low as B. sometimes.


A pretty optical fact occurred this morning. As I was returning from Fletcher's, up the back lane and just in sight of the river, I saw, floating high in the air, somewhere over Mr. Banks', a noble kite. I continued gazing at it for some time, when, turning suddenly round, I[48] saw at an equi-distance on my right, that is, over the middle of our field, a pair of kites floating about. I looked at them for some seconds, when it occurred to me that I had never before seen two kites together, and instantly the vision disappeared. It was neither more nor less than two pair of leaves, each pair on a separate stalk, on a young fruit tree that grew on the other side of the wall, not two yards from my eye. The leaves being alternate, did, when I looked at them as leaves, strikingly resemble wings, and they were the only leaves on the tree. The magnitude was given by the imagined distance, that distance by the former adjustment of the eye, which remained in consequence of the deep impression, the length of time I had been looking at the kite, the pleasure, &c., and [the fact that] a new object [had] impressed itself on the eye.


In Plotinus the system of the Quakers is most beautifully expressed in the fifth book of the Fifth Ennead (he is speaking of "the inward light"): "It is not lawful to enquire from whence it originated, for it neither approached hither, nor again departs from hence to some other place, but it either appears to us, or does not appear. So that we ought not to pursue it as if with a view of discerning its latent original, but to abide in quiet till it suddenly shines upon us,[49] preparing ourselves for the blessed spectacle, like the eye waiting for the rising sun."


My nature requires another nature for its support, and reposes only in another from the necessary indigence of its being. Intensely similar yet not the same [must that other be]; or, may I venture to say, the same indeed, but dissimilar, as the same breath sent with the same force, the same pauses, and the same melody pre-imaged in the mind, into the flute and the clarion shall be the same soul diversely incarnate.


"ALL things desire that which is first from a necessity of nature, prophesying, as it were, that they cannot subsist without the energies of that first nature. But beauty is not first, it happens only to intellect, and creates restlessness and seeking; but good, which is present from the beginning and unceasingly to our innate appetite, abides with us even in sleep, and never seizes the mind with astonishment, and requires no peculiar reminiscence to convince us of its presence."—Plotinus.

This is just and profound, yet perfect beauty being an abstract of good, in and for that particular form excites in me no passion but that of an admiration so quiet as scarcely to admit of the name passion, but one that, participating[50] in the same root of soul, does yet spring up with excellences that I have not. To this I am driven by a desire of self-completion with a restless and inextinguishable love. God is not all things, for in this case He would be indigent of all; but all things are God, and eternally indigent of God. And in the original meaning of the word essence as predicable of that concerning which you can say, This is he, or That is he (this or that rather than any other), in this sense of the word essence, I perfectly coincide with the Platonists and Plotinists that, if we add to the nature of God either essence or intellect or beauty, we deprive Him of being the Good himself, the only One, the purely and absolutely One.

A MOON-SET Friday, Nov. 25, 1803, morning 45 minutes past

After a night of storm and rain, the sky calm and white, by blue vapour thinning into formlessness instead of clouds, the mountains of height covered with snow, the secondary mountains black. The moon descending aslant the ∨A, through the midst of which the great road winds, set exactly behind Whinlatter Point, marked A. She being an egg, somewhat uncouthly shaped, perhaps, but an ostrich's egg rather than any other (she is two nights more than a half-moon), she set behind the black point, fitted herself on to it like a cap of fire, then became a crescent, then a mountain of fire in the distance, then the peak itself on fire, one[51] steady flame; then stars of the first, second and third magnitude, and vanishing, upboiled a swell of light, and in the next second the whole sky, which had been sable blue around the yellow moon, whitened and brightened for as large a space as would take the moon half an hour to descend through.


Adam travelling in his old age came to a set of the descendants of Cain, ignorant of the origin of the world, and treating him as a madman, killed him. A sort of dream which I had this night.


We ought to suspect reasoning founded wholly on the difference of man from man, not on their commonnesses, which are infinitely greater. So I doubt the wisdom of the treatment of sailors and criminals, because it is wholly grounded on their vices, as if the vices formed the whole or major part of their being.


Abstruse reasoning is to the inductions of common sense what reaping is to delving. But the implements with which we reap, how are they gained? by delving. Besides, what is common sense now was abstract reasoning with earlier ages.


A beautiful sunset, the sun setting behind Newlands across the foot of[52] the lake. The sky is cloudless, save that there is a cloud on Skiddaw, one on the highest mountains in Borrowdale, some on Helvellyn, and that the sun sets in a glorious cloud. These clouds are of various shapes, various colours, and belong to their mountains and have nothing to do with the sky. N.B.—There is something metallic, silver playfully and imperfectly gilt and highly polished, or, rather, something mother-of-pearlish, in the sun-gleams on ice, thin ice.


I have repeatedly said that I could make a volume if only I had noted down, as they occurred to my recollection, the instances of the proverb "Extremes Meet." This night, Sunday, December 11, 1803, half-past eleven, I have determined to devote the last nine pages of my pocket-book to a collection of the same.


The parching air
Burns frore and cold performs the effect of fire.
Paradise Lost, ii. 594.

2. Insects by their smallness, the mammoth by its hugeness, terrible.

3. In the foam-islands in a fiercely boiling pool, at the bottom of a waterfall, there is sameness from infinite change.

4. The excess of humanity and disinterested[53]ness in polite society, the desire not to give pain, for example, not to talk of your own diseases and misfortunes, and to introduce nothing but what will give pleasure, destroy all humanity and disinterestedness, by making it intolerable, through desuetude, to listen to the complaints of our equals, or of any, where the listening does not gratify or excite some vicious pride and sense of superiority.

5. It is difficult to say whether a perfectly unheard-of subject or a crambe bis cocta, if chosen by a man of genius, would excite in the higher degree the sense of novelty. Take, as an instance of the latter, the "Orestes" of Sotheby.

6. Dark with excess of light.

7. Self-absorption and worldly-mindedness (N.B.—The latter a most philosophical word).

8. The dim intellect sees an absolute oneness, the perfectly clear intellect knowingly perceives it. Distinction and plurality lie in the betwixt.

9. The naked savage and the gymnosophist.

10. Nothing and intensest absolute being.

11. Despotism and ochlocracy.


A dirty business! "How," said I, with a great effort to conquer my laziness and a great wish to rest in the generality, "what do you include under the words 'dirty business'"? I note this in order to remember the reluctance the mind has in general to analysis.

The soul within the body—can I, any way, compare this to the reflection[54] of the fire seen through my window on the solid wall, seeming, of course, within the solid wall, as deep within as the distance of the fire from the wall. I fear I can make nothing out of it; but why do I always hurry away from any interesting thought to do something uninteresting? As, for instance, when this thought struck me, I turned off my attention suddenly and went to look for the copy of Wolff which I had missed. Is it a cowardice of all deep feeling, even though pleasurable? or is it laziness? or is it something less obvious than either? Is it connected with my epistolary embarrassments?

["The window of my library at Keswick is opposite to the fireplace. At the coming on of evening, it was my frequent amusement to watch the image or reflection of the fire that seemed burning in the bushes or between the trees in different parts of the garden."—The Friend. Coleridge's Works, ii. 135.]

As I was sitting at the foot of my bed, reading with my face downwards, I saw a phantom of my face upon the nightcap which lay just on the middle of my pillow—it was indistinct but of bright colours, and came only as my head bent low. Was it the action of the rays of my face upon my eyes? that is, did my[55] eyes see my face, and from the sidelong and faint action of the rays place the image in that situation? But I moved the nightcap and I lost it.

Dec. 19, 1803, morning

I have only to shut my eyes to feel how ignorant I am whence these forms and coloured forms, and colours distinguishable beyond what I can distinguish, derive their birth. These varying and infinite co-present colours, what are they? I ask, to what do they belong in my waking remembrance? and almost never receive an answer. Only I perceive and know that whatever I change, in any part of me, produces some change in these eye-spectra; as, for instance, if I press my legs or change sides.


I will at least make the attempt to explain to myself the origin of moral evil from the streamy nature of association, which thinking curbs and rudders. Do not the bad passions in dreams throw light and show of proof upon this hypothesis? If I can but explain those passions I shall gain light, I am sure. A clue! a clue! a Hecatomb ŗ la Pythagoras, if it unlabyrinth me.

December 28, 1803, 11 o'clock

I note the beautiful luminous shadow of my pencil-point which follows it from the candle, or rather goes before it and illuminates the word I am writing. But, to resume, take in the blessed[56]ness of innocent children, the blessedness of sweet sleep, do they or do they not contradict the argument of evil from streamy associations? I hope not, but all is to be thought over and into. And what is the height and ideal of mere association? Delirium. But how far is this state produced by pain and denaturalisation? And what are these? In short, as far as I can see anything in this total mist, vice is imperfect yet existing volition, giving diseased currents of association, because it yields on all sides and yet is—so, too, think of madness!


December 30th, half-past one o'clock, or, rather, Saturday morning, December 31st, put rolled bits of paper, many tiny bits of wick, some tallow, and the soap together. The whole flame, equal in size to half-a-dozen candles, did not give the light of one, and the letters of the book looked by the unsteady flare just as through tears or in dizziness—every line of every letter dislocated into angles, or like the mica in crumbly stones.


The experiment over leaf illustrates my idea of motion, namely, that it is a presence and absence rapidly alternating, so that the fits of absence exist continuously in the feeling, and the fits of presence vice vers‚ continuedly in the eye. Of course I am speaking of motion psy[57]chologically, not physically, what it is in us, not what the supposed mundane cause may be. I believe that what we call motion is our consciousness of motion arising from the interruption of motion, the action of the soul in suffering resistance. Free unresisted action, the going forth of the soul, life without consciousness, is, properly, infinite, that is unlimited. For whatever resists limits, and whatever is unresisted is unlimited. This, psychologically speaking, is space, while the sense of resistance or limitation is time, and motion is a synthesis of the two. The closest approach of time to space forms co-existent multitude.


There is an important distinction between the memory or reminiscent faculty of sensation which young children seem to possess in so small a degree, from their perpetual desire to have a tale repeated to them, and the memory of words and images which the very same children manifestly possess in an unusual degree, even to sealing-wax accuracy of retention and representation.


If Spinoza had left the doctrine of miracles untouched, and had not written so powerfully in support of universal toleration, his ethics would never have brought on him the charge of Atheism. His doctrine, in this respect, is truly[58] and severely orthodox, in the reformed Church; neither do I know that the Church of Rome has authoritatively decided between the Spinosists and Scotists in their great controversy on the nature of the being which creatures possess.


Creation is explained by Joannes Scotus Erigena as only a manifestation of the unity of God in forms—et fit et facit, et creat et creatur. Lib. 4. p. 7.

P. 8. A curious and highly-philosophical account of the Trinity, and completely Unitarian. God is, is wise, and is living. The essence we call Father, the wisdom Son, the life the Holy Spirit. And he positively affirms that these three exist only as distinguishable relations—habitudines; and he states the whole doctrine to be an invention and condescension of Theology to the intellect of man, which must define, and consequently personify, in order to understand, and must have some phantom of understanding in order to keep alive in the heart the substantial faith. They are fuel to the sacred fire—in the empyrean it may burn without fuel, and they who do so are seraphs.


A fine epitheton of man would be "Lord of fire and light." All other creatures whose existence we perceive are mere alms-receivers of both.

A company of children driving a hungry, hard-skinned ass out of a[59] corn-field. The ass cannot by such weaklings be driven so hard but he will feed as he goes.

Such light as lovers love, when the waxing moon steals in behind a black, black cloud, emerging soon enough to make the blush visible which the long kiss had kindled.

All notions [remain] hushed in the phantasms of place and time that still escape the finest sieve and most searching winnow of our reason and abstraction.

A rosemary tree, large as a timber tree, is a sweet sign of the antiquity and antique manners of the house against which it groweth. "Rosemary" (says Parkinson, Theatrum Botanicum [London, 1640] p. 76) "is a herb of as great use with us in these days as any whatsoever, not only for physical but civil purposes—the civil uses, as all know, are at weddings, funerals, &c., to bestow on friends."

Great harm is done by bad poets in trivialising beautiful expressions and images and associating disgust and indifference with the technical forms of poetry.

Advantage of public schools. [They teach men to be] content with school[60] praise when they publish. Apply this to Cottle and J. Jennings.

Religious slang operates better on women than on men. N.B.—Why? I will give over—it is not tanti!

Poem. Ghost of a mountain—the forms, seizing my body as I passed, became realities—I a ghost, till I had reconquered my substance.

The sopha of sods. Lack-wit and the clock find him at last in the Yorkshire cave, where the waterfall is.

[The reference is, no doubt, to Wordsworth's "Idiot Boy," which was composed at Nether Stowey, in 1798. In a letter addressed to John Wilson of June 5, 1802, Wordsworth discusses and discards the use of the word "lackwit" as an equivalent to "idiot." The "Sopha of Sods" was on Latrigg. In her journal for August, 1800, Dorothy Wordsworth records the making of a seat on Windybrow, a part of Latrigg. Possibly this was the "Sopha of Sods."—Life of W. Wordsworth, 1889, i. 268, 403.]

The old stump of the tree, with briar-roses and bramble leaves wreathed[61] round and round—a bramble arch—a foxglove in the centre.

The palm, still faithful to forsaken deserts, an emblem of hope.

The stedfast rainbow in the fast-moving, fast-hurrying hail-mist! What a congregation of images and feelings, of fantastic permanence amidst the rapid change of tempest—quietness the daughter of storm.


I would make a pilgrimage to the deserts of Arabia to find the man who could make me understand how the one can be many. Eternal, universal mystery! It seems as if it were impossible, yet it is, and it is everywhere! It is indeed a contradiction in terms, and only in terms. It is the co-presence of feeling and life, limitless by their very essence, with form by its very essence limited, determinable, definite.


Meditate on trans-substantiation! What a conception of a miracle! Were one a Catholic, what a sublime oration might one not make of it? Perpetual, πανtopical, yet offering no violence to the sense, exercising no domination over the free-will—a miracle always[62] existing, yet perceived only by an act of the free-will—the beautiful fuel of the fire of faith—the fire must be pre-existent or it is not fuel, yet it feeds and supports and is necessary to feed and support the fire that converts it into his own nature.


Errors beget opposite errors, for it is our imperfect nature to run into extremes. But this trite, because ever-recurring, truth is not the whole. Alas! those are endangered who have avoided the extremes, as if among the Tartars, in opposition to a faction that had unnaturally lengthened their noses into monstrosity, there should arise another who had cut off theirs flat to the face, Socinians in physiognomy. The few who retained their noses as nature made them and reason dictated would assuredly be persecuted by the noseless party as adherents of the rhinocerotists or monster-nosed men, which is the case of those αρχασπισται [braves] of the English Church, called Evangelicals. Excess of Calvinism produced Arminianism, and those not in excess must therefore be Calvinists!


To a former friend who pleaded how near he formerly had been, how near and close a friend! Yes! you were, indeed, near to my heart and native to my soul—a part of my being and its natural, even as the chaff to corn. But since[63] that time, through whose fault I will be mute, I have been thrashed out by the flail of experience. Because you have been, therefore, never more can you be a part of the grain.


The full moon glided behind a black cloud. And what then? and who cared? It was past seven o'clock in the morning. There is a small cloud in the east, not larger than the moon and ten times brighter than she! So passes night, and all her favours vanish in our minds ungrateful!


In the chapter on abstract ideas I might introduce the subject by quoting the eighth Proposition of Proclus' "Elements of Theology." The whole of religion seems to me to rest on and in the question: The One and The Good—are these words or realities? I long to read the schoolmen on the subject.


There are thoughts that seem to give me a power over my own life. I could kill myself by persevering in the thought. Mem., to describe as accurately as may be the approximating symptoms. I met something very like this observation where I should least have expected such a coincidence of sentiment, such sympathy with so wild a feeling of mine—in p. 71 of Blount's translation of "The Spanish Rogue," 1623.




"Home-sickness is no baby-pang."—S. T. C.


This evening, and indeed all this day, I ought to have been reading and filling the margins of Malthus. ["An Essay on the Principles of Population, &c., London," 1803, 4to. The copy annotated by Coleridge is now in the British Museum.]

I had begun and found it pleasant. Why did I neglect it? Because I ought not to have done this. The same applies to the reading and writing of letters, essays, etc. Surely this is well worth a serious analysis, that, by understanding, I may attempt to heal it. For it is a deep and wide disease in my moral nature, at once elm-and-oak-rooted. Is it love of liberty, of spontaneity or what? These all express, but do not explain the fact.

Tuesday morning, January 10, 1804

After I had got into bed last night I said to myself that I had been pompously enunciating as a difficulty, a problem of easy and common[65] solution—viz., that it was the effect of association. From infancy up to manhood, under parents, schoolmasters, inspectors, etc., our pleasures and pleasant self-chosen pursuits (self-chosen because pleasant, and not originally pleasant because self-chosen) have been forcibly interrupted, and dull, unintelligible rudiments, or painful tasks imposed upon us instead. Now all duty is felt as a command, and every command is of the nature of an offence. Duty, therefore, by the law of association being felt as a command from without, would naturally call up the sensation of the pain roused from the commands of parents and schoolmasters. But I awoke this morning at half-past one, and as soon as disease permitted me to think at all, the shallowness and sophistry of this solution flashed upon me at once. I saw that the phenomenon occurred far, far too early: I have observed it in infants of two or three months old, and in Hartley I have seen it turned up and layed bare to the unarmed eye of the merest common sense. The fact is that interruption of itself is painful, because and as far as it acts as disruption. And thus without any reference to or distinct recollection of my former theory I saw great reason to attribute the effect, wholly, to the streamy nature of the associative faculty, and the more, as it is evident that they labour under this defect who are most reverie-ish[66] and streamy—Hartley, for instance, and myself. This seems to me no common corroboration of my former thought or the origin of moral evil in general.


A time will come when passiveness will attain the dignity of worthy activity, when men shall be as proud within themselves of having remained in a state of deep tranquil emotion, whether in reading or in hearing or in looking, as they now are in having figured away for an hour. Oh! how few can transmute activity of mind into emotion! Yet there are as active as the stirring tempest and playful as the may-blossom in a breeze of May, who can yet for hours together remain with hearts broad awake, and the understanding asleep in all but its retentiveness and receptivity. Yea, and (in) the latter (state of mind) evince as great genius as in the former.

A SHEAF OF ANECDOTES, Sunday morning, Feb. 5, 1804

I called on Charles Lamb fully expecting him to be out, and intending all the way, to write to him. I found him at home, and while sitting and talking to him, took the pen and note-paper and began to write.

As soon as Holcroft heard that Mary Wollstonecraft was dead, he took a chaise and came with incredible speed to "have Mrs. Godwin opened for a remarkable woman!"

Sunday morning, Feb. 13, 1804

Lady Beaumont told me that when she was a child, previously to her[67] saying her prayers, she endeavoured to think of a mountain or great river, or something great, in order to raise up her soul and kindle it.

Rickman has a tale about George Dyer and his "Ode to the Hero Race." "Your Aunt, Sir," said George to the Man of Figures, "your Aunt is a very sensible woman. Why I read Sir, my Ode to her and she said that it was a very pretty Thing. There are very few women, Sir! that possess that fine discrimination, Sir!"

The huge Organ Pipe at Exeter, larger than the largest at Haarlem, at first was dumb. Green determined to make it speak, and tried all means in vain, till at last he made a second pipe precisely alike, and placed it at its side. Then it spoke.

Sir George Beaumont found great advantage in learning to draw from Nature through gauze spectacles.

At GŲttingen, at Blumenbach's lectures on Psychology, when some anatomical preparations were being handed round, there came in and seated himself by us Englishmen a[68] Hospitator, one, that is, who attends one or two lectures unbidden and unforbidden and gratis, as a stranger, and on a claim, as it were, of hospitality. This Hospes was the uncouthest, strangest fish, pretending to human which I ever beheld. I turned to Greenough and "Who broke his bottle?" I whispered.

Godwin and Holcroft went together to Underwood's chambers. "Little Mr. Underwood," said they, "we are perfectly acquainted with the subject of your studies, only ignorant of the particulars. What is the difference between a thermometer and a barometer?"


It is a pleasure to me to perceive the buddings of virtuous loves, to know their minutes of increase, their stealth and silent growings—

A pretty idea, that of a good soul watching the progress of an attachment from the first glance to the time when the lover himself becomes conscious of it. A poem for my "Soother of Absence."


To J. Tobin, Esq., April 10, 1804.

Men who habitually enjoy robust health have, too generally, the trick, and a very cruel one it is, of imagining that they discover the secret of all their acquaintances' ill health in[69] some malpractice or other; and, sometimes, by gravely asserting this, here there and everywhere (as who likes his penetration [hid] under a bushel?), they not only do all they can, without intending it, to deprive the poor sufferer of that sympathy which is always a comfort and, in some degree, a support to human nature, but, likewise, too often implant serious alarm and uneasiness in the minds of the person's relatives and his nearest and dearest connections. Indeed (but that I have known its inutility, that I should be ridiculously sinning against my own law which I was propounding, and that those who are most fond of advising are the least able to hear advice from others, as the passion to command makes men disobedient) I should often have been on the point of advising you against the two-fold rage of advising and of discussing character, both the one and the other of which infallibly generates presumption and blindness to our own faults. Nay! more particularly where, from whatever cause, there exists a slowness to understand or an aptitude to mishear and consequently misunderstand what has been said, it too often renders an otherwise truly good man a mischief-maker to an extent of which he is but little aware. Our friends' reputation should be a religion to us, and when it is lightly sacrificed to what self-adulation calls a love of telling the truth (in reality a lust of talk[70]ing something seasoned with the cayenne and capsicum of personality), depend upon it, something in the heart is warped or warping, more or less according to the greater or lesser power of the counteracting causes. I confess to you, that being exceedingly low and heart-fallen, I should have almost sunk under the operation of reproof and admonition (the whole too, in my conviction, grounded on utter mistake) at the moment I was quitting, perhaps for ever! my dear country and all that makes it so dear—but the high esteem I cherish towards you, and my sense of your integrity and the reality of your attachment and concern blows upon me refreshingly as the sea-breeze on the tropic islander. Show me anyone made better by blunt advice, and I may abate of my dislike to it, but I have experienced the good effects of the contrary in Wordsworth's conduct to me; and, in Poole and others, have witnessed enough of its ill effects to be convinced that it does little else but harm both to the adviser and the advisee.

[See Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Letter cli., ii. 474, 475.]

PLACES AND PERSONS, Thursday, April 19, 1804

This is Spain! That is Africa! Now, then, I have seen Africa! &c., &c. O! the power of names to give interest. When I first sate down, with Europe on my left and Africa on my right, both distinctly visible, I felt a quickening of the[71] movements in the blood, but still it felt as a pleasure of amusement rather than of thought or elevation; and at the same time, and gradually winning on the other, the nameless silent forms of nature were working in me, like a tender thought in a man who is hailed merrily by some acquaintance in his work, and answers it in the same tone. This is Africa! That is Europe! There is division, sharp boundary, abrupt change! and what are they in nature? Two mountain banks that make a noble river of the interfluent sea, not existing and acting with distinctness and manifoldness indeed, but at once and as one—no division, no change, no antithesis! Of all men I ever knew, Wordsworth himself not excepted, I have the faintest pleasure in things contingent and transitory. I never, except as a forced courtesy of conversation, ask in a stage-coach, Whose house is that? nor receive the least additional pleasure when I receive the answer. Nay, it goes to a disease in me. As I was gazing at a wall in Caernarvon Castle, I wished the guide fifty miles off that was telling me, In this chamber the Black Prince was born (or whoever it was). I am not certain whether I should have seen with any emotion the mulberry-tree of Shakspere. If it were a tree of no notice in itself, I am sure that I should feel by an effort—with self-reproach at the dimness of the feeling; if a striking tree, I fear that the pleasure[72] would be diminished rather than increased, that I should have no unity of feeling, and find in the constant association of Shakspere having planted it an intrusion that prevented me from wholly (as a whole man) losing myself in the flexures of its branches and intertwining of its roots. No doubt there are times and conceivable circumstances in which the contrary would be true, in which the thought that under this rock by the sea-shore I know that Giordano Bruno hid himself from the pursuit of the enraged priesthood, and overcome with the power and sublimity of the truths for which they sought his life, thought his life therefore given him that he might bear witness to the truths, and morti ultra occurrens, returned and surrendered himself! So, here, on this bank Milton used to lie, in late May, when a young man, and familiar with all its primroses, made them yet dearer than their dear selves, by that sweetest line in the Lycidas, "And the rathe primrose that forsaken dies:" or from this spot the immortal deer-stealer, on his escape from Warwickshire, had the first view of London, and asked himself, And what am I to do there? At certain times, uncalled and sudden, subject to no bidding of my own or others, these thoughts would come upon me like a storm, and fill the place with something more than nature. But these are not contingent or transitory, they are nature, even as the elements are nature[73]—yea, more to the human mind, for the mind has the power of abstracting all agency from the former and considering [them] as mere effects and instruments. But a Shakspere, a Milton, a Bruno, exist in the mind as pure action, defecated of all that is material and passive. And the great moments that formed them—it is a kind of impiety against a voice within us, not to regard them as predestined, and therefore things of now, for ever, and which were always. But it degrades the sacred feeling, and is to it what stupid superstition is to enthusiastic religion, when a man makes a pilgrimage to see a great man's shin-bone found unmouldered in his coffin. Perhaps the matter stands thus. I could feel amused by these things, and should be, if there had not been connected with the great name upon which the amusement wholly depends a higher and deeper pleasure, that will [not] endure the co-presence of so mean a companion; while the mass of mankind, whether from nature or (as I fervently hope) from error of rearing and the worldliness of their after-pursuits, are rarely susceptible of any other pleasures than those of amusement, gratification of curiosity, novelty, surprise, wonderment, from the glaring, the harshly-contrasted, the odd, the accidental, and find the reading of the Paradise Lost a task somewhat alleviated by a few entertaining incidents, such as the pandemonium and self-en[74]dwarfment of the devils, the fool's paradise and the transformation of the infernal court into serpents and of their intended applauses into hisses.

["Dear Sir Walter Scott and myself were exact, but harmonious opposites in this—that every old ruin, hill, river or tree called up in his mind a host of historical or biographical associations; whereas, for myself, I believe I should walk over the plain of Marathon without taking more interest in it than in any other plain of similar features."—Table Talk, August 4, 1833, Bell & Co., 1834, p. 242.]


Why do we so very, very often see men pass from one extreme to the other? στοδκαρδια [Stoddart, for instance]. Alas! they sought not the truth, but praise, self-importance, and above all [the sense of] something doing! Disappointed, they hate and persecute their former opinion, which no man will do who by meditation had adopted it, and in the course of unfeigned meditation gradually enlarged the circle and so get out of it. For in the perception of its falsehood he will form a perception of certain truths which had made the falsehood plausible, and can never cease to venerate his own sincerity of intention and Philalethie. For, perhaps, we never hate any opinion, or can do so, till we have impersonated it. We hate the[75] persons because they oppose us, symbolise that opposition under the form and words of the opinion and then hate the person for the opinion and the opinion for the person.

[For some weeks after his arrival at Valetta Coleridge remained as the guest of Dr. John (afterwards Sir John) Stoddart, at that time H.M. Advocate at Malta.]


Facts! Never be weary of discussing and exposing the hollowness of these. [For, in the first place,] every man [is] an accomplice on one side or the other, [and, secondly, there is] human testimony. "You were in fault, I hear," said B to C, and B had heard it from A. [Now] A had said, "And C, God bless her, was perhaps the innocent occasion"! But what a trifle this to the generality of blunders!


[I have no pity or patience for that], blindness which comes from putting out your own eyes and in mock humility refusing to form an opinion on the right and the wrong of a question. "If we say so of the Sicilians, why may not Buonaparte say this of the Swiss?" and so forth. As if England and France, Swiss and Sicilian were the x y z of Algebra, naked names of unknown quantities. [What is this but] to fix morals without morality, and [to allow] general rules to supersede all particular thought? And[76] though it be never acted on in reality, yet the opinion is pernicious. It kills public spirit and deadens national effort.


The little point, or, sometimes, minim globe of flame remains on the [newly] lighted taper for three minutes or more unaltered. But, see, it is given over, and then, at once, the flame darts or plunges down into the wick, then up again, and all is bright—a fair cone of flame, with its black column in it, and minor cone, shadow-coloured, resting upon the blue flame the common base of the two cones, that is, of the whole flame. A pretty detailed simile in the manner of J. Taylor might be made of this, applying it to slow learners, to opportunities of grace manifestly neglected and seemingly lost and useless.


Monday evening, July 9, 1804, about 8 o'clock. The glorious evening star coasted the moon, and at length absolutely crested its upper tip.... It was the most singular and at the same time beautiful sight I ever beheld. Oh, that it could have appeared the same in England, at Grasmere!


In the Jacobinism of anti-jacobins, note the dreariest feature of Jacobins, a contempt for the institutions of our ancestors and of past wisdom, which has generated Cobbetts and[77] contempt of the liberty of the press and of liberty itself. Men are not wholly unmodified by the opinion of their fellow-men, even when they happen to be enemies or (still worse) of the opposite faction.


I saw in early youth, as in a dream, the birth of the planets; and my eyes beheld as one what the understanding afterwards divided into (1) the origin of the masses, (2) the origin of their motions, and (3) the site or position of their circles and ellipses. All the deviations, too, were seen as one intuition of one the self-same necessity, and this necessity was a law of spirit, and all was spirit. And in matter all beheld the past activity of others or their own—and this reflection, this echo is matter—its only essence, if essence it be. And of this, too, I saw the necessity and understood it, but I understood not how infinite multitude and manifoldness could be one; only I saw and understood that it was yet more out of my power to comprehend how it could be otherwise—and in this unity I worshipped in the depth of knowledge that passes all understanding the Being of all things—and in Being their sole goodness—and I saw that God is the One, the Good—possesses it not, but is it.


The visibility of motion at a great distance is increased by all that increases the the distinct visibility of the moving object.[78] This Saturday, August 3, 1804, in the room immediately under the tower in St. Antonio, as I was musing on the difference, whether ultimate or only of degree, between auffassen and erkennen (an idea received and an idea acquired) I saw on the top of the distant hills a shadow on the sunny ground moving very fast and wave-like, yet always in the same place, which I should have attributed to the windmill close by, but the windmill (which I saw distinctly too) appeared at rest. On steady gazing, however, (and most plainly with my spy-glass) I found that it was not at rest, but that this was its shadow. The windmill itself was white in the sunshine, and there were sunny white clouds at its back, the shadow black on the white ground.

SYRACUSE Thursday night at the Opera, September 27, 1804

In reflecting on the cause of the "meeting soul" in music, the seeming recognisance etc., etc., the whole explanation of memory as in the nature of accord struck upon me; accord produces a phantom of memory, because memory is always in accord.

Oct. 5, 1804

Philosophy to a few, religion with many, is the friend of poetry, as producing the two conditions of pleasure arising from poetry, namely tranquillity and the attachment of the affections to generalisations. God, soul, Heaven,[79] the Gospel miracles, etc., are a sort of poetry compared with Lombard Street and Change Alley speculations.

A SERIOUS MEMORANDUM Syracuse, Saturday, Oct. 5, 1804

In company, indeed, with all except a very chosen few, never dissent from anyone as to the merits of another, especially in your own supposed department, but content yourself with praising, in your turn; the really good praises of the unworthy are felt by a good man, and man of genius as detractions from the worthy, and robberies—so the flashy moderns seem to rob the ancients of the honours due to them, and Bacon and Harrington are not read because Hume and Condillac are. This is an evil; but oppose it, if at all, in books in which you can evolve the whole of your reasons and feeling, not in conversation when it will be inevitably attributed to envy. Besides, they who praise the unworthy must be the injudicious: and the eulogies of critics without taste or judgment are the natural pay of authors without feeling or genius—and why rob them? Sint unicuique sua præmia. Coleridge! Coleridge! will you never learn to appropriate your conversation to your company! Is it not desecration, indelicacy, and a proof of great weakness and even vanity to talk to, etc. etc., as if you [were talking to] Wordsworth or Sir G. Beaumont?

Oct. 11, Syracuse, Lecky's, midnight

O young man, who hast seen, felt and known the truth, to whom reality is[80] a phantom and virtue and mind the sole actual and permanent being, do not degrade the truth in thee by disputing. Avoid it! do not by any persuasion be tempted to it! Surely not by vanity or the weakness of the pleasure of communicating thy thoughts and awaking sympathy, but not even by the always mixed hope of producing conviction. This is not the mode, this is not the time, not the place. [Truth will be better served] by modestly and most truly saying, "Your arguments are all consequent, if the foundation be admitted. I do not admit the foundation. But this will be a business for moments of thought, for a Sabbath-day of your existence. Then, perhaps, a voice from within will say to you, better, because [in a manner] more adapted to you, all I can say. But if I felt this to be that day or that moment, a sacred sympathy would at once compel and inspire me to the task of uttering the very truth. Till then I am right willing to bear the character of a mystic, a visionary, or self-important juggler, who nods his head and says, 'I could if I would.' But I cannot, I may not, bear the reproach of profaning the truth which is my life in moments when all passions heterogeneous to it are eclipsing it to the exclusion of its dimmest ray. I might lose my tranquillity, and in acquiring the[81] passion of proselytism lose the sense of conviction. I might become positive! Now I am certain! I might have the heat and fermentation, now I have the warmth of life."

THE YEARNING OF THE FINITE FOR THE INFINITE: Oct. 13, 1804, Saturday, Syracuse

Each man having a spark (to use the old metaphor) of the Divinity, yet a whole fire-grate of humanity—each, therefore, will legislate for the whole, and spite of the De gustibus non est disputandum, even in trifles—and, till corrected by experience, at least, in this endless struggle of presumption, really occasioned by the ever-working spark of the Universal, in the disappointments and baffled attempts of each, all are disposed to [admit] the jus extrinsecum of Spinoza, and recognise that reason as the highest which may not be understood as the best, but of which the concrete possession is felt to be the strongest. Then come society, habit, education, misery, intrigue, oppression, then revolution, and the circle begins anew. Each man will universalise his notions, and, yet, each is variously finite. To reconcile, therefore, is truly the work of the inspired! This is the true Atonement—that is, to reconcile the struggles of the infinitely various finite with the permanent.


Do not be too much discouraged, if any virtue should be mixed, in your consciousness, with affectation and imperfect sincerity,[82] and some vanity. Disapprove of this, and continue the practice of the good feeling, even though mixed, and it will gradually purify itself. Probatum est. Disapprove, be ashamed of the thought, of its always continuing thus, but do not harshly quarrel with your present self, for all virtue subsists in and by pleasure. S. T. C. Sunday evening, October 14, 1804.

But a great deal of this is constitutional. That constitution which predisposes to certain virtues, the Δωρον Θεων, has this τεμενος Νεμεσεως in it. It is the dregs of sympathy, and while we are weak and dependent on each other, and each is forced to think often for himself, sympathy will have its dregs, and the strongest, who have least of these, have the dregs of other virtues to strain off.


All the objections to the opera are equally applicable to tragedy and comedy without music, and all proceed on the false principle that theatrical representations are copies of nature, whereas they are imitations.


When you are harassed, disquieted, and have little dreams of resentment, and mock triumphs in consequence of the clearest perceptions of unkind treatment and strange misconceptions and illogicalities, palpably from bad passion, in any person connected with[83] you, suspect a sympathy in yourself with some of these bad passions—vanity, for instance. Though a sense of wounded justice is possible, nay, probably, forms a part of your uneasy feelings, yet this of itself would yield, at the first moment of reflection, to pity for the wretched state of a man too untranquil and perpetually selfish to love anything for itself or without some end of vanity or ambition—who detests all poetry, tosses about in the impotence of desires disproportionate to his powers, and whose whole history of his whole life is a tale of disappointment in circumstances where the hope and pretension was always unwise, often presumptuous and insolent. Surely an intuition of this restless and no-end-having mood of mind would at once fill a hearer having no sympathy with these passions with tender melancholy, virtuously mixed with grateful unpharisaic self-complacency. But a patient almost, but not quite, recovered from madness, yet on its confines, finds in the notions of madness that which irritates and haunts and makes unhappy.


Malta, Friday, Nov. 23, 1804.

One of the heart-depressing habits and temptations of men in power, as governors, &c., is to make instruments of their fellow-creatures, and the moment they find a man of honour and talents, instead of loving and esteem[84]ing him, they wish to use him. Hence that self-betraying side-and-down look of cunning; and they justify and inveterate the habit by believing that every individual who approaches has selfish designs on them.


Days and weeks and months pass on, and now a year—and the sea, the sea, and the breeze have their influences on me, and [so, too, has the association with] good and sensible men. I feel a pleasure upon me, and I am, to the outward view, cheerful, and have myself no distinct consciousness of the contrary, for I use my faculties, not, indeed, at once, but freely. But, oh! I am never happy, never deeply gladdened. I know not—I have forgotten—what the joy is of which the heart is full, as of a deep and quiet fountain overflowing insensibly, or the gladness of joy, when the fountain overflows ebullient.

The most common appearance in wintry weather is that of the sun under a sharp, defined level line of a stormy cloud, that stretches one-third or half round the circle of the horizon, thrice the height of the space that intervenes between it and the horizon, which last is about half again as broad as the sun. [At length] out comes the sun, a mass of brassy light, himself lost and diffused in his [own] strong splendour.[85] Compare this with the beautiful summer set of colours without cloud.

Even in the most tranquil dreams, one is much less a mere spectator [than in reveries or day-dreams]. One seems always about to do, [to be] suffering, or thinking or talking. I do not recollect [in dreams] that state of feeling, so common when awake, of thinking on one subject and looking at another; or [of looking] at a whole prospect, till at last, perhaps, or by intervals, at least, you only look passively at the prospect.


At Dresden there is a cherry-stone engraved with eighty-five portraits. Christ and the Twelve Apostles form one group, the table and supper all drawn by the letters of the text—at once portraits and language. This is a universal particular language—Roman Catholic language with a vengeance.

The beautifully white sails of the Mediterranean, so carefully, when in port, put up into clean bags; and the interesting circumstance of the Spéronara's sailing without a compass—by an obscure sense of time.


So far from deeming it, in a religious point of view, criminal to spread doubts of God, immortality and virtue (that 3 = 1) in the minds[86] of individuals, I seem to see in it a duty—lest men by taking the words for granted never attain the feeling or the true faith. They only forbear, that is, even to suspect that the idea is erroneous or the communicators deceivers, but do not believe the idea itself. Whereas to doubt has more of faith, nay even to disbelieve, than that blank negation of all such thoughts and feelings which is the lot of the herd of church-and-meeting-trotters.


The Holy Ghost, say the harmonists, left all the solecisms, Hebraisms, and low Judaic prejudices as evidences of the credibility of the Apostles. So, too, the Theophneusty left Cottle his Bristolisms, not to take away the credit from him and give it to the Muses.


His fine mind met vice and vicious thoughts by accident only, as a poet running through terminations in the heat of composing a rhyme-poem on the purest and best subjects, startles and half-vexedly turns away from a foul or impure word.

The gracious promises and sweetnesses and aids of religion are alarming and distressful to a trifling, light, fluttering gay child of fashion and vanity, as its threats and reproaches and warnings—as a little bird which fears as[87] much when you come to give it food as when you come with a desire to kill or imprison it.

That is a striking legend of Caracciolo and his floating corse, that came to ask the King of Naples' pardon.

Final causes answer to why? not to how? and who ever supposed that they did?

O those crinkled, ever-varying circles which the moonlight makes in the not calm, yet not wavy sea! Quarantine, Malta, Saturday, Nov. 10, 1804.


Hard to express that sense of the analogy or likeness of a thing which enables a symbol to represent it so that we think of the thing itself, yet knowing that the thing is not present to us. Surely on this universal fact of words and images depends, by more or less mediations, the imitation, instead of the copy which is illustrated, in very nature Shaksperianised—that Proteus essence that could assume the very form, but yet known and felt not to be the thing by that difference of the substance which made every atom of the form another thing, that likeness not identity—an exact web, every line of direction miraculously the same, but the one worsted, the other silk.


Rival editors have recourse to necromancy to know from Shakspere himself[88] who of them is the fittest to edit and illustrate him. Describe the meeting, the ceremonies of conjuration, the appearance of the spirit, the effect on the rival invokers. When they have resumed courage, the arbiter appointed by them asks the question. They listen, Malone leaps up while the rest lay their heads at the same instant that the arbiter re-echoes the words of the spirit, "Let Malone!" The spirit shudders, then exclaims in the dread and angry utterance of the dead, "No! no! Let me alone, I said, inexorable boobies!"

O that eternal bricker-up of Shakspere! Registers, memorandum-books—and that Bill, Jack and Harry, Tom, Walter and Gregory, Charles, Dick and Jim, lived at that house, but that nothing more is known of them. But, oh! the importance when half-a-dozen players'-bills can be made to stretch through half-a-hundred or more of pages, though there is not one word in them that by any force can be made either to illustrate the times or life or writings of Shakspere, or, indeed, of any time. And, yet, no edition but this gentleman's name burs upon it—burglossa with a vengeance. Like the genitive plural of a Greek adjective, it is Malone, Malone, Malone, Μαλων, Μαλων, Μαλων.

[Edmund Malone's Variorum edition of Shakspere was published in 1790.][89]


It is a remark that I have made many times, and many times, I guess, shall repeat, that women are infinitely fonder of clinging to and beating about, hanging upon and keeping up, and reluctantly letting fall any doleful or painful or unpleasant subject, than men of the same class and rank.


A young man newly arrived in the West Indies, who happened to be sitting next to a certain Captain Reignia, observed by way of introducing a conversation, "It is a very fine day, sir!" "Yes, sir," was the abrupt reply, "and be damned to it; it is never otherwise in this damned rascally climate."


I addressed a butterfly on a pea-blossom thus, "Beautiful Psyche, soul of a blossom, that art visiting and hovering o'er thy former friends whom thou hast left!" Had I forgot the caterpillar? or did I dream like a mad metaphysician that the caterpillar's hunger for plants was self-love, recollection, and a lust that in its next state refined itself into love? Dec. 12, 1804.


Different means to the same end seem to constitute analogy. Seeing and touching are analogous senses with respect to magni[90]tude, figure, &c.—they would, and to a certain extent do, supply each other's place. The air-vessels of fish and of insects are analogous to lungs—the end the same, however different the means. No one would say, "Lungs are analogous to lungs," and it seems to me either inaccurate or involving some true conception obscurely, when we speak of planets by analogy of ours—for here, knowing nothing but likeness, we presume the difference from the remoteness and difficulty, in the vulgar apprehension, of considering those pin-points as worlds. So, likewise, instead of the phrase "analogy of the past," applied to historical reasoning, nine times out of ten I should say, "by the example of the past." This may appear verbal trifling, but "animadverte quam sit ab improprietate verborum pronum hominibus prolabi in errores circa res." In short, analogy always implies a difference in kind and not merely in degree. There is an analogy between dimness and numbness and a certain state of the sense of hearing correspondent to these, which produces confusion with magnification, for which we have no name. But between light green and dark green, between a mole and a lynceus, there is a gradation, no analogy.


Between beasts and men, when the same actions are performed by both, are the means analogous or different only in degree? That is[91] the question! The sameness of the end and the equal fitness of the means prove no identity of means. I can only read, but understand no arithmetic. Yet, by Napier's tables or the House-keepers' Almanack, I may even arrive at the conclusion quicker than a tolerably expert mathematician. Yet, still, reading and reckoning are utterly different things.


In Reimarus on The Instincts of Animals, Tom Wedgwood's ground-principle of the influx of memory on perception is fully and beautifully detailed.

["Observations Moral and Philosophical on the Instinct of Animals, their Industry and their Manners," by Herman Samuel Reimarus, was published in 1770. See Biographia Literaria, chapter vi. and Note, by Mrs. H. N. Coleridge in the Appendix, Coleridge's Works, Harper & Brothers, iii. 225, 717.]


It is often said that books are companions. They are so, dear, very dear companions! But I often, when I read a book that delights me on the whole, feel a pang that the author is not present, that I cannot object to him this and that, express my sympathy and gratitude for this part and mention some facts that self-evidently overset a second, start a doubt about a third, or confirm and carry [on] a fourth thought. At[92] times I become restless, for my nature is very social.


"Well" (says Lady Ball), "the Catholic religion is better than none." Why, to be sure, it is called a religion, but the question is, Is it a religion? Sugar of lead! better than no sugar! Put oil of vitriol into my salad—well, better than no oil at all! Or a fellow vends a poison under the name of James' powders—well, we must get the best we can—better that than none! So did not our noble ancestors reason or feel, or we should now be slaves and even as the Sicilians are at this day, or worse, for even they have been made less foolish, in spite of themselves, by others' wisdom.


I have read with wonder and delight that passage of Reimarus in which he speaks of the immense multitude of plants, and the curious, regular choice of different herbivorous animals with respect to them, and the following pages in which he treats of the pairing of insects and the equally wonderful processes of egg-laying and so forth. All in motion! the sea-fish to the shores and rivers—the land crab to the sea-shore! I would fain describe all the creation thus agitated by the one or other of the three instincts—self-preservation, childing, and child-preservation. Set this by Darwin's theory of the[93] maternal instinct—O mercy! the blindness of the man! and it is imagination, forsooth! that misled him—too much poetry in his philosophy! this abject deadness of all that sense of the obscure and indefinite, this superstitious fetish-worship of lazy or fascinated fancy! O this, indeed, deserves to be dwelt on.

Think of all this as an absolute revelation, a real presence of Deity, and compare it with historical traditionary religion. There are two revelations—the material and the moral—and the former is not to be seen but by the latter. As St. Paul has so well observed: "By worldly wisdom no man ever arrived at God;" but having seen Him by the moral sense, then we understand the outward world. Even as with books, no book of itself teaches a language in the first instance; but having by sympathy of soul learnt it, we then understand the book—that is, the Deus minor in His work.

The hirschkšfer (stag-beetle) in its worm state makes its bed-chamber, prior to its metamorphosis, half as long as itself. Why? There was a stiff horn turned under its belly, which in the fly state must project and harden, and this required exactly that length.

The sea-snail creeps out of its house, which, thus hollowed, lifts him[94] aloft, and is his boat and cork jacket; the Nautilus, additionally, spreads a thin skin as a sail.

All creatures obey the great game-laws of Nature, and fish with nets of such meshes as permit many to escape, and preclude the taking of many. So two races are saved, the one by taking part, and the other by part not being taken.


Wonderful, perplexing divisibility of life! It is related by D. Unzer, an authority wholly to be relied on, that an ohrwurm (earwig) cut in half ate its own hinder part! Will it be the reverse with Great Britain and America? The head of the rattlesnake severed from the body bit it and squirted out its poison, as is related by Beverley in his History of Virginia. Lyonnet in his Insect. Theol. tells us that he tore a wasp in half and, three days after, the fore-half bit whatever was presented to it of its former food, and the hind-half darted out its sting at being touched. Stranger still, a turtle has been known to live six months with his head off, and to wander about, yea, six hours after its heart and intestines (all but the lungs) were taken out! How shall we think of this compatibly with the monad soul? If I say, what has[95] spirit to do with space?—what odd dreams it would suggest! or is every animal a republic in se? or is there one Breeze of Life, "at once the soul of each, and God of all?" Is it not strictly analogous to generation, and no more contrary to unity than it? But IT? Aye! there's the twist in the logic. Is not the reproduction of the lizard a complete generation? O it is easy to dream, and, surely, better of these things than of a £20,000 prize in the lottery, or of a place at Court. Dec. 13, 1804.


To trace the if not absolute birth, yet the growth and endurancy of language, from the mother talking to the child at her breast. O what a subject for some happy moment of deep feeling and strong imagination!

Of the Quintetta in the Syracuse opera and the pleasure of the voices—one and not one, they leave, seek, pursue, oppose, fight with, strengthen, annihilate each other, awake, enliven, soothe, flatter and embrace each other again, till at length they die away in one tone. There is no sweeter image of wayward yet fond lovers, of seeking and finding, of the love-quarrel, and the making-up, of the losing and the yearning regret, of the doubtful, the complete recognition, and of the total[96] melting union. Words are not interpreters, but fellow-combatants.

Title for a Medical Romance:—The adventures, rivalry, warfare and final union and partnership of Dr. Hocus and Dr. Pocus.

Idly talk they who speak of poets as mere indulgers of fancy, imagination, superstition, etc. They are the bridlers by delight, the purifiers; they that combine all these with reason and order—the true protoplasts—Gods of Love who tame the chaos.

To deduce instincts from obscure recollections of a pre-existing state—I have often thought of it. "Ey!" I have said, when I have seen certain tempers and actions in Hartley, "that is I in my future state." So I think, oftentimes, that my children are my soul—that multitude and division are not [O mystery!] necessarily subversive of unity. I am sure that two very different meanings, if not more, lurk in the word One.

The drollest explanation of instinct is that of Mylius, who attributes every act to pain, and all the wonderful webs and envelopes of spiders, caterpillars, etc., absolutely to fits of colic or paroxysms of dry belly-ache!

This Tarantula-dance of repetitions and vertiginous argumentation [97]in circulo, begun in imposture and self-consummated in madness!

While the whole planet (quoad its Lord or, at least, Lord-Lieutenancy) is in stir and bustle, why should not I keep in time with the tune, and, like old Diogenes, roll my tub about?

I cannot too often remember that to be deeply interested and to be highly satisfied are not always commensurate. Apply this to the affecting and yet unnatural passages of the Stranger or of John Bull, and to the finest passages in Shakspere, such as the death of Cleopatra or Hamlet.

A SUNDOG Dec. 15, 1804

Saw the limb of a rainbow footing itself on the sea at a small apparent distance from the shore, a thing of itself—no substrate cloud or even mist visible—but the distance glimmered through it as through a thin semi-transparent hoop.


To be and to act, two in Intellect (that mother of orderly multitude, and half-sister of Wisdom and Madness) but one in essence = to rest, and to move = □ and a ○![98] and out of the infinite combinations of these, from the more and the less, now of one now of the other, all pleasing figures and the sources of all pleasure arise. But the pyramid, that base of stedfastness that rises, yet never deserts itself nor can, approaches to the ○. Sunday. Midnight. Malta. December 16th, 1804.


I can make out no other affinity [in the pyramid] to the circle but by taking its evanescence as the central point, and so, having thus gained a melting of the radii in the circumference [by proceeding to] look it into the object. Extravagance! Why? Does not everyone do this in looking at any conspicuous three stars together? does not every one see by the inner vision, a triangle? However, this is in art; but the prototype in nature is, indeed, loveliness. In Nature there are no straight lines, or [such straight lines as there are] have the soul of curves, from activity and positive rapid energy. Or, whether the line seem curve or straight, yet here, in nature, is motion—motion in its most significant form. It is motion in that form which has been chosen to express motion in general, hieroglyphical from pre-eminence, [and by this very pre-eminence, in the particular instance, made significant of motion in its totality]. Hence, though it[99] chance that a line in nature should be perfectly straight, there is no need here of any curve whose effect is that of embleming motion and counteracting actual solidity by that emblem. For here the line [in contra-distinction to the line in art] is actual motion, and therefore a balancing Figurite of rest and solidity. But I will study the wood-fire this evening in the Palace.

Wednesday Night, 11 o'clock, December 19

I see now that the eye refuses to decide whether it be surface or convexity, for the exquisite oneness of the flame makes even its angles so different from the angles of tangible substances. Its exceeding oneness added to its very subsistence in motion is the very soul of the loveliest curve—it does not need its body as it were. Its sharpest point is, however, rounded, and besides it is cased within its own penumbra.

FOR THE "SOOTHER IN ABSENCE" Friday Morning, Dec. 21, 8 o'clock

How beautiful a circumstance, the improvement of the flower, from the root up to that crown of its life and labours, that bridal-chamber of its beauty and its two-fold love, the nuptial and the parental—the womb, the cradle, and the nursery of the garden!

Quisque sui faber—a pretty simile this would make to a young lady producing beauty by moral feeling.

Nature may be personified as the πολυμηχανος εργανη, an ever[100] industrious Penelope, for ever unravelling what she has woven, for ever weaving what she has unravelled.


Oh, said I, as I looked at the blue, yellow, green and purple-green sea, with all its hollows and swells, and cut-glass surfaces—oh, what an ocean of lovely forms! And I was vexed, teased that the sentence sounded like a play of words! That it was not—the mind within me was struggling to express the marvellous distinctness and unconfounded personality of each of the million millions of forms, and yet the individual unity in which they subsisted.

A brisk gale and the foam that peopled the alive sea, most interestingly combined with the number of white sea-gulls, that, repeatedly, it seemed as if the foam-spit had taken life and wing and had flown up—the white precisely-same-colour birds rose up so close by the ever-perishing white-water wavehead, that the eye was unable to detect the illusion which the mind delighted to indulge in. O that sky, that soft, blue, mighty arch resting on the mountain or solid sea-like plain—what an awful omneity in unity! I know no other perfect union of the sublime with the beautiful,[101] so that they should be felt, that is, at the same minute, though by different faculties, and yet, each faculty be predisposed, by itself, to receive the specific modifications from the other. To the eye it is an inverted goblet, the inside of a sapphire basin, perfect beauty in shape and colour. To the mind, it is immensity; but even the eye feels as if it were [able] to look through with [a] dim sense of the non-resistance—it is not exactly the feeling given to the organ by solid and limited things, [but] the eye feels that the limitation is in its own power, not in the object. But [hereafter] to pursue this in the manner of the old Hamburg poet [Klopstock].


One travels along with the lines of a mountain. Years ago I wanted to make Wordsworth sensible of this. How fine is Keswick vale! Would I repose, my soul lies and is quiet upon the broad level vale. Would it act? it darts up into the mountain-top like a kite, and like a chamois-goat runs along the ridge—or like a boy that makes a sport on the road of running along a wall or narrow fence!


One of the most noticeable and fruitful facts in psychology is the modification of the same feeling by difference of form. The Heaven lifts up my soul, the sight of the ocean seems[102] to widen it. We feel the same force at work, but the difference, whether in mind or body that we should feel in actual travelling horizontally or in direct ascent, that we feel in fancy. For what are our feelings of this kind but a motion imagined, [together] with the feelings that would accompany that motion, [but] less distinguished, more blended, more rapid, more confused, and, thereby, co-adunated? Just as white is the very emblem of one in being the confusion of all.


Mem.—Not to hastily abandon and kick away the means after the end is or seems to be accomplished. So have I, in blowing out the paper or match with which I have lit a candle, blown out the candle at the same instant.


How opposite to nature and the fact to talk of the "one moment" of Hume, of our whole being an aggregate of successive single sensations! Who ever felt a single sensation? Is not every one at the same moment conscious that there co-exist a thousand others, a darker shade, or less light, even as when I fix my attention on a white house or a grey bare hill or rather long ridge that runs out of sight each way (how often I want the German unŁbersekbar!) [untranslatable]—the pretended sight-sensation,[103] is it anything more than the light-point in every picture either of nature or of a good painter? and, again, subordinately, in every component part of the picture? And what is a moment? Succession with interspace? Absurdity! It is evidently only the icht-punct in the indivisible undivided duration.

See yonder rainbow strangely preserving its form on broken clouds, with here a bit out, here a bit in, yet still a rainbow—even as you might place bits of coloured ribbon at distances, so as to preserve the form of a bow to the mind. Dec. 25, 1804.


There are two sorts of talkative fellows whom it would be injurious to confound, and I, S. T. Coleridge, am the latter. The first sort is of those who use five hundred words more than needs to express an idea—that is not my case. Few men, I will be bold to say, put more meaning into their words than I, or choose them more deliberately and discriminately. The second sort is of those who use five hundred more ideas, images, reasons, &c., than there is any need of to arrive at their object, till the only object arrived at is that the mind's eye of the bystander is dazzled with colours succeeding so rapidly as to leave one vague impression that there has been a great blaze of colours all about[104] something. Now this is my case, and a grievous fault it is. My illustrations swallow up my thesis. I feel too intensely the omnipresence of all in each, platonically speaking; or, psychologically, my brain-fibres, or the spiritual light which abides in the brain-marrow, as visible light appears to do in sundry rotten mackerel and other smashy matters, is of too general an affinity with all things, and though it perceives the difference of things, yet is eternally pursuing the likenesses, or, rather, that which is common [between them]. Bring me two things that seem the very same, and then I am quick enough [not only] to show the difference, even to hair-splitting, but to go on from circle to circle till I break against the shore of my hearers' patience, or have my concentricals dashed to nothing by a snore. That is my ordinary mishap. At Malta, however, no one can charge me with one or the other. I have earned the general character of being a quiet well-meaning man, rather dull indeed! and who would have thought that he had been a poet! "O, a very wretched poetaster, ma'am! As to the reviews, 'tis well known he half-ruined himself in paying cleverer fellows than himself to write them," &c.


How far might one imagine all the theory of association out of a system of growth, by applying to the brain and soul what we know[105] of an embryo? One tiny particle combines with another its like, and, so, lengthens and thickens, and this is, at once, memory and increasing vividness of impression. One might make a very amusing allegory of an embryo soul up to birth! Try! it is promising! You have not above three hundred volumes to write before you come to it, and as you write, perhaps, a volume once in ten years, you have ample time.

My dear fellow! never be ashamed of scheming—you can't think of living less than 4000 years, and that would nearly suffice for your present schemes. To be sure, if they go on in the same ratio to the performance, then a small difficulty arises; but never mind! look at the bright side always and die in a dream! Oh!


The evil effect of a new hypothesis or even of a new nomenclature is, that many minds which had familiarised themselves to the old one, and were riding on the road of discovery accustomed to their horse, if put on a new animal, lose time in learning how to sit him; while the others, looking too stedfastly at a few facts which the jeweller Hypothesis had set in a perfectly beautiful whole, forget to dig for more, though inhabitants of a Golconda. However, it has its advantages too, and these have been ably pointed out. It excites contradiction, and is thence a stimulus to new experi[106]ments to support, and to a more severe repetition of these experiments and of other new ones to confute [arguments pro and con]. And, besides, one must alloy severe truth with a little fancy, in order to mint it into common coin.


In the preface of my metaphysical works, I should say—"Once for all, read Kant, Fichte, &c., and then you will trace, or, if you are on the hunt, track me." Why, then, not acknowledge your obligations step by step? Because I could not do so in a multitude of glaring resemblances without a lie, for they had been mine, formed and full-formed, before I had ever heard of these writers, because to have fixed on the particular instances in which I have really been indebted to these writers would have been hard, if possible, to me who read for truth and self-satisfaction, and not to make a book, and who always rejoiced and was jubilant when I found my own ideas well expressed by others—and, lastly, let me say, because (I am proud, perhaps, but) I seem to know that much of the matter remains my own, and that the soul is mine. I fear not him for a critic who can confound a fellow-thinker with a compiler.


Good heavens! that there should be anything at all, and not nothing. Ask the bluntest faculty that pretends to reason, and, if[107] indeed he have felt and reasoned, he must feel that something is to be sought after out of the vulgar track of Change-Alley speculation.

If my researches are shadowy, what, in the name of reason, are you? or do you resign all pretence to reason, and consider yourself—nay, even that in a contradiction—as a passive ○ among Nothings?


How flat and common-place! O that it were in my heart, nerves, and muscles! O that it were the prudential soul of all I love, of all who deserve to be loved, in every proposed action to ask yourself, To what end is this? and how is this the means? and not the means to something else foreign to or abhorrent from my purpose? Distinct means to distinct ends! With friends and beloved ones follow the heart. Better be deceived twenty times than suspect one-twentieth of once; but with strangers, or enemies, or in a quarrel, whether in the world's squabbles, as Dr. Stoddart's and Dr. Sorel in the Admiralty Court at Malta; or in moral businesses, as mine with Southey or Lloyd (O pardon me, dear and honoured Southey, that I put such a name by the side of yours....)—in all those cases, write your letter, disburthen yourself, and when you have done it—even as when you have pared, sliced, vinegared, oiled, peppered and salted your plate of cucumber,[108] you are directed to smell it, and then throw it out of the window—so, dear friend, vinegar, pepper and salt your letter—your cucumber argument, that is, cool reasoning previously sauced with passion and sharpness—then read it, eat it, drink it, smell it, with eyes and ears (a small catachresis but never mind), and then throw it into the fire—unless you can put down in three or four sentences (I cannot allow more than one side of a sheet of paper) the distinct end for which you conceive this letter (or whatever it be) to be the distinct means! How trivial! Would to God it were only habitual! O what is sadder than that the crambe bis cocta of the understanding should be and remain a foreign dish to the efficient will—that the best and loftiest precepts of wisdom should be trivial, and the worst and lowest modes of folly habitual.


I have learnt, sometimes not at all, and seldom harshly, to chide those conceits of words which are analogous to sudden fleeting affinities of mind. Even, as in a dance, you touch and join and off again, and rejoin your partner that leads down with you the dance, in spite of these occasional off-starts—for they, too, not merely conform to, but are of and in and help to form the delicious harmony. Shakspere is not a thousandth part so faulty as the ○○○ believe him. "Thus him that over-rul'd I[109] over-sway'd," etc., etc. I noticed this to that bubbling ice-spring of cold-hearted, mad-headed fanaticism, the late Dr. Geddes, in the "Heri vidi fragilem frangi, hodie mortalem mori."

[Dr. Alexander Geddes, 1737-1802, was, inter alia, author of a revised translation of the Scriptures.]


How often I have occasion to notice with pure delight the depth of the exceeding blueness of the Mediterranean from my window! It is often, indeed, purple; but I am speaking of its blueness—a perfect blue, so very pure an one. The sea is like a night-sky; and but for its planities, it were as if the night-sky were a thing that turned round and lay in the day-time under the paler Heaven. And it is on this expanse that the vessels have the fine white dazzling cotton sails.


Centuries before their mortal incarnation, Jove was wont to manifest to the gods the several creations as they emerged from the divine ideal. Now it was reported in heaven that an unusually fair creation of a woman was emerging, and Venus, fearful that her son should become enamoured as of yore with Psyche (what time he wandered alone, his bow unslung, and using his darts only to cut out her name on rocks and trees, or, at best, to shoot humming[110]birds and birds of Paradise to make feather-chaplets for her hair, and the world, meanwhile, grown loveless, hardened into the Iron Age), entreats Jove to secrete this form [of perilous beauty]. But Cupid, who had heard the report, and fondly expected a re-manifestation of Psyche, hid himself in the hollow of the sacred oak beneath which the Father of Gods had withdrawn as to an unapproachable adytum, and beheld the Idea emerging in its First Glory. Forthwith the wanton was struck blind by the splendour ere yet the blaze had defined itself with form, and now his arrows strike but vaguely.


I have somewhere read, or I have dreamt, a wild tale of Ceres' loss of Proserpine, and her final recovery of her daughter by means of Christ when He descended into hell, at which time she met Him and abjured all worship for the future.

It were a quaint mythological conceit to feign that the gods of Greece and Rome were some of the best of the fallen spirits, and that of their number Apollo, Mars, and the Muses were converted to Christianity, and became different saints.


The ribbed flame—its snatches of impatience, that half-seem, and only seem that half, to baffle its upward rush—the eternal[111] unity of individualities whose essence is in their distinguishableness, even as thought and fancies in the mind; the points of so many cherubic swords snatched back, but never discouraged, still fountaining upwards:—flames self-snatched up heavenward, if earth supply the fuel, heaven the dry light air—themselves still making the current that will fan and spread them—yet all their force in vain, if of itself—and light dry air, heaped fuel, fanning breeze as idle, if no inward spark lurks there, or lurks unkindled. Such a spark, O man! is thy Free Will—the star whose beams are Virtue!




Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide, wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony.

S. T. C.

THE SENSE OF MAGNITUDE Tuesday, Jan. 15, 1805

This evening there was the most perfect and the brightest halo circling the roundest and brightest moon I ever beheld. So bright was the halo, so compact, so entire a circle, that it gave the whole of its area, the moon itself included, the appearance of a solid opaque body, an enormous planet. It was as if this planet had a circular trough of some light-reflecting fluid for its rim (that is the halo) and its centre (that is the moon) a small circular basin of some fluid that still more copiously reflected, or that even emitted light; and as if the interspatial area were somewhat equally substantial but sullen. Thence I have found occasion to meditate on the nature of the sense of magnitude and its absolute dependence on the[113] idea of substance; the consequent difference between magnitude and spaciousness, the dependence of the idea on double-touch, and thence to evolve all our feelings and ideas of magnitude, magnitudinal sublimity, &c., from a scale of our own bodies. For why, if form constituted the sense, that is, if it were pure vision, as a perceptive sense abstracted from feeling in the organ of vision, why do I seek for mountains, when in the flattest countries the clouds present so many and so much more romantic and spacious forms, and the coal-fire so many, so much more varied and lovely forms? And whence arises the pleasure from musing on the latter? Do I not, more or less consciously, fancy myself a Lilliputian to whom these would be mountains, and so, by this factitious scale, make them mountains, my pleasure being consequently playful, a voluntary poem in hieroglyphics or picture-writing—"phantoms of sublimity," which I continue to know to be phantoms? And form itself, is not its main agency exerted in individualising the thing, making it this and that, and thereby facilitating the shadowy measurement of it by the scale of my own body?

Yon long, not unvaried, ridge of hills, that runs out of sight each way, it is spacious, and the pleasure derivable from it is from its running, its motion, its assimilation to action; and here the scale is taken from my life and soul, and[114] not from my body. Space is the Hebrew name for God, and it is the most perfect image of soul, pure soul, being to us nothing but unresisted action. Whenever action is resisted, limitation begins—and limitation is the first constituent of body—the more omnipresent it is in a given space, the more that space is body or matter—and thus all body necessarily presupposes soul, inasmuch as all resistance presupposes action. Magnitude, therefore, is the intimate blending, the most perfect union, through its whole sphere, in every minutest part of it, of action and resistance to action. It is spaciousness in which space is filled up—that is, as we well say, transmitted by incorporate accession, not destroyed. In all limited things, that is, in all forms, it is at least fantastically stopped, and, thus, from the positive grasp to the mountain, from the mountain to the cloud, from the cloud to the blue depth of sky, which, as on the top of Etna, in a serene atmosphere, seems to go behind the sun, all is graduation, that precludes division, indeed, but not distinction; and he who endeavours to overturn a distinction by showing that there is no chasm, by the old sophism of the cumulus or the horse's tail, is still diseased with the formication,[B] the (what is the nosological name of it? [115]the hairs or dancing infinites of black specks seeming always to be before the eye), the araneosis of corpuscular materialism.—S. T. .


The least things, how they evidence the superiority of English artisans! Even the Maltese wafers, for instance, that stick to your mouth and fingers almost so as to make it impossible to get them off without squeezing them into a little pellet, and yet will not stick to the paper.

Everyone of tolerable education feels the imitability of Dr. Johnson's and other-such's style, the inimitability of Shakspere's, &c. Hence, I believe, arises the partiality of thousands for Johnson. They can imagine themselves doing the same. Vanity is at the bottom of it. The number of imitators proves this in some measure.

Of the feelings of the English at the sight of a convoy from England. Man cannot be selfish—that part of me (my beloved) which is distant, in space, excites the same feeling as the[116] "ich"[C] distant from me in time. My friends are indeed my soul!

Jan. 22, 1805.

I had not moved from my seat, and wanted the stick of sealing-wax, nearly a whole one, for another letter. I could not find it, it was not on the table—had it dropped on the ground? I searched and searched everywhere, my pockets, my fobs, impossible places—literally it had vanished, and where was it? It had stuck to my elbow, I having leaned upon it ere it had grown cold! A curious accident, and in no way similar to that of the butcher and his steel in his mouth which he was seeking for. Mine was true accident.

The maxims which govern the Courts of Admiralty, their "betwixt and between" of positive law and the dictates of right reason, resemble the half-way inter jus et æquitatem of Roman jurisprudence. It were worth while to examine the advantages of this as far as it is a real modification, its disadvantages as far as it appears a jumble.

Seeing a nice bed of glowing embers with one junk of firewood well placed, like the remains of an old edifice, and another well-nigh [117]mouldered one corresponding to it, I felt an impulse to put on three pieces of wood that exactly completed the perishable architecture, though it was eleven o'clock, though I was that instant going to bed, and there could be, in common ideas, no possible use in it. Hence I seem (for I write not having yet gone to bed) to suspect that this disease of totalising, of perfecting, may be the bottom impulse of many, many actions, in which it never is brought forward as an avowed or even agnised as a conscious motive.

Mem.—to collect facts for a comparison between a wood and a coal fire, as to sights and sounds and bodily feeling.

I have read somewhere of a sailor who dreamt that an encounter with the enemy was about to take place, and that he should discover cowardice during action. Accordingly he awakes his brother the Captain, and bids him prepare for an engagement. At daybreak a ship is discovered on the horizon and the sailor, mindful of his dream, procures himself to be tied to a post. At the close of the day he is released unwounded but dead from fright. Apply this incident to Miss Edgeworth's Tales, and all similar attempts to cure faults by detailed forewarnings, which leave on the similarly faulty an impression of fatality that extinguishes hope.

What precedes to the voice follows to the eye, as 000.1 and 100. A, B,[118] C—were they men, you would say that "C" went first, but being letters, things of voice and ear in their original, we say that "A" goes first.

There are many men who, following, made 1 = 1000, being placed at head, become useless cyphers, mere finery for form's sake.

Feb. 1, 1805, Friday, Malta

Of the millions that use the pen, how many (query) understand the story of this machine, the action of the slit, eh? I confess, ridiculous as it must appear to those who do understand it, that I have not been able to answer the question off-hand to myself, having only this moment thought of it.

Feb. 3, 1805

The gentlest form of Death, a Sylphid Death, passed by, beheld a sleeping baby—became, Narcissus-like, enamoured of its own self in the sweet counterfeit, seized it and carried it off as a mirror close by the green Paradise—but the reviving air awakened the babe, and 'twas death that died at the sudden loss.


I cannot admit that any language can be unfit for poetry, or that there is any language in which a divinely inspired architect may not sustain the lofty edifice of verse on its two pillars of sublimity and pathos. Yet I[119] have heard Frenchmen, nay, even Englishmen, assert that of the German, which contains perhaps an hundred passages equal to the—

Und ein Gott ist, ein heiliger Wille lebt,
Wie auch der menschliche wanke;—

and I have heard both German and Englishmen (and these, too, men of true feeling and genius, and so many of them that such company of my betters makes me not ashamed to the having myself been guilty of this injustice) assert that the French language is insusceptible of poetry in its higher and purer sense, of poetry which excites emotion not merely creates amusement, which demands continuous admiration, not regular recurrence of conscious surprise, and the effect of which is love and joy. Unfortunately the manners, religion and government of France, and the circumstances of its emergence from the polyarchy of feudal barony, have given a bad taste to the Parisians—so bad a one as doubtless to have mildewed many an opening blossom. I cannot say that I know and can name any one French writer that can be placed among the greater poets, but when I read the inscription over the Chartreuse—

C'est ici que la Mort et la Verité
Elevent leurs flambeaux terribles;
C'est de cette demeure au monde inaccessible
Que l'on passe ŗ l'Eternité

I seem to feel that if France had been for ages a Protestant nation, and[120] a Milton had been born in it, the French language would not have precluded the production of a "Paradise Lost," though it might, perhaps, that of a Hamlet or a Lear.

THE ABSTRACT SELF On Friday night, Feb. 8, 1805

On Friday Night, 8th Feb. 1805, my feeling, in sleep, of exceeding great love for my infant, seen by me in the dream!—yet so as it might be Sara, Derwent, or Berkley, and still it was an individual babe and mine.

"All look or likeness caught from earth,
All accident of kin or birth,
Had pass'd away. There seem'd no trace
Of aught upon her brighten'd face,
Upraised beneath the rifted stone,
Save of one spirit all her own;
She, she herself, and only she,
Shone through her body visibly."
Poetical Works, 1893, p. 172.

This abstract self is, indeed, in its nature a Universal personified, as Life, Soul, Spirit, etc. Will not this prove it to be a deeper feeling, and of such intimate affinity with ideas, so as to modify them and become one with them; whereas the appetites and the feelings of revenge and anger co-exist with the ideas, not combine with them, and alter the apparent effect of this[121] form, not the forms themselves? Certain modifications of fear seem to approach nearest to this love-sense in its manner of acting.

Those whispers just as you have fallen asleep—what are they, and whence?

LITERA SCRIPTA MANET Monday, Feb 11, 1805

I must own to a superstitious dread of the destruction of paper worthy of a Mahometan. But I am also ashamed to confess to myself what pulling back of heart I feel whenever I wish to light a candle or kindle a fire with a Hospital or Harbour Report, and what a cumulus lies on my table, I not able to conjecture of what use they can ever be, and yet trembling lest what I then destroyed might be of some use in the way of knowledge. This seems to be the excess of a good feeling, but it is ridiculous.


It is not without a certain sense of self-reproof, as well as self-distrust, that I ask, or, rather, that my understanding suggests to me the query, whether this divine poem (in so original a strain of thought and feeling honourable to human nature) would not have been more perfect if the third, fourth, and fifth stanzas had been omitted, and the tenth and eleventh transposed so as to stand as the third and fourth. It is not, perhaps not at all, but, certainly, not[122] principally that I feel any meanness in the "needles;" but, not to mention that the words "once a shining store" is a speck in the diamond (in a less dear poem I might, perhaps, have called it more harshly a rhyme-botch), and that the word "restless" is rather too strong an impersonation for the serious tone, the realness of the poem, and seems to tread too closely on the mock-heroic; but that it seems not true to poetic feeling to introduce the affecting circumstance of dimness of sight from decay of nature on an occasion so remote from the το καθολου, and that the fifth stanza, graceful and even affecting as the spirit of the playfulness is or would be, at least, in a poem having less depth of feeling, breaks in painfully here—the age and afflicting infirmities both of the writer and his subject seem abhorrent from such trifling of—scarcely fancy, for I fear, if it were analysed, that the whole effect would be found to depend on phrases hackneyed, and taken from the alms-house of the Muses. The test would be this: read the poem to a well-educated but natural woman, an unaffected, gentle being, endued with sense and sensibility—substituting the tenth and eleventh stanzas for those three, and some days after shew her the poem as it now stands. I seem to be sure that she would be shocked—an alien would have intruded himself, and be found sitting in a circle of dear friends[123] whom she expected to have found all to themselves.


To say that etymology is a science—is to use this word in its laxest and improper sense. But our language, except, at least, in poetry, has dropped the word "lore"—the lehre of the Germans, the logos of the Greek. Either we should have retained the word and ventured on Root-lore, verse-lore, etc., or have adopted the Greek as a single word as well as a word in combination. All novelties appear or are rather felt as ridiculous in language; but, if it had been once adopted, it would have been no stranger to have said that etymology is a logy which perishes from a plethora of probability, than that the art of war is an art apparently for the destruction and subjugation of particular states, but really for the lessening of bloodshed and the preservation of the liberties of mankind. Art and Science are both too much appropriated—our language wants terms of comprehensive generality, implying the kind, not the degree or species, as in that good and necessary word sensuous, which we have likewise dropped, opposed to sensual, sensitive, sensible, etc., etc. Chymistry has felt this difficulty, and found the necessity of having one word for the supposed cause, another for the effect, as in caloric or calorific, opposed to heat;[124] and psychology has still more need of the reformation.


The Queen-bee in the hive of Popish Error, the great mother of the swarm, seems to me their tenet concerning Faith and Works, placing the former wholly in the rectitude, nay, in the rightness of intellectual conviction, and the latter in the definite and, most often, the material action, and, consequently, the assertion of the dividuous nature and self-existence of works. Hence the doctrine of damnation out of the Church of Rome—of the one visible Church—of the absolute efficiency in se of all the Sacraments and the absolute merit of ceremonial observances. Consider the incalculable advantage of chiefly dwelling on the virtues of the heart, of habits of feeling and harmonious action, the music of the adjusted string at the impulse of the breeze, and, on the other hand, the evils of books concerning particular actions, minute cases of conscience, hair-splitting directions and decisions, O how illustrated by the detestable character of most of the Roman Catholic casuists! No actions should be distinctly described but such as manifestly tend to awaken the heart to efficient feeling, whether of fear or of love—actions that, falling back on the fountain, keep it full, or clear out the mud from its pipes, and make it play in its abundance, shining in that[125] purity in which, at once, the purity and the light is each the cause of the other, the light purifying, and the purified receiving and reflecting the light, sending it off to others; not, like the polished mirror, by reflection from itself, but by transmission through itself.


Friday + Saturday, 12-1 o'clock [March 2, 1805.]

What a sky! the not yet orbed moon, the spotted oval, blue at one edge from the deep utter blue of the sky—a MASS of pearl-white cloud below, distant, and travelling to the horizon, but all the upper part of the ascent and all the height such profound blue, deep as a deep river, and deep in colour, and those two depths so entirely one, as to give the meaning and explanation of the two different significations of the epithet. Here, so far from divided, they were scarcely distinct, scattered over with thin pearl-white cloudlets—hands and fingers—the largest not larger than a floating veil! Unconsciously I stretched forth my arms as to embrace the sky, and in a trance I had worshipped God in the moon—the spirit, not the form. I felt in how innocent a feeling Sabeism might have begun. Oh! not only the moon, but the depths of the sky! The moon was the idea; but deep sky is, of all visual impressions, the nearest akin to a feeling. It is more a feeling than a sight,[126] or, rather, it is the melting away and entire union of feeling and sight!


Monday morning, which I ought not to have known not to be Sunday night, 2 o'clock, March 4, 1805.

My dreams to-night were interfused with struggle and fear, though, till the very last, not victors; but the very last, which awoke me, was a completed night-mare, as it gave the idea and sensation of actual grasp or touch contrary to my will and in apparent consequence of the malignant will of the external form, whether actually appearing or, as sometimes happened, believed to exist—in which latter case I have two or three times felt a horrid touch of hatred, a grasp, or a weight of hate and horror abstracted from all [conscious] form or supposal of form, an abstract touch, an abstract grasp, an abstract weight! Quam nihil ad genium Papiliane tuum! or, in other words, This Mackintosh would prove to be nonsense by a Scotch smile. The last [dream], that woke me, though a true night-mare, was, however, a mild one. I cried out early, like a scarcely-hurt child who knows himself within hearing of his mother. But, anterior to this, I had been playing with children, especially with one most lovely child, about two years or two and a half, and had repeated to her, in my dream, "The dews were falling fast," &c., and I[127] was sorely frightened by the sneering and fiendish malignity of the beautiful creature, but from the beginning there had been a terror about it and proceeding from it. I shall hereafter, read the Vision in "Macbeth" with increased admiration.

["Quam nihil ad genium Papiniane tuum," was the motto of The Lyrical Ballads.]

That deep intuition of our oneness, is it not at the bottom of many of our faults as well as virtues? the dislike that a bad man should have any virtues, a good man any faults? And yet, too, a something noble and incentive is in this.


What comfort in the silent eye upraised to God! "Thou knowest." O! what a thought! Never to be friendless, never to be unintelligible! The omnipresence has been generally represented as a spy, a sort of Bentham's Panopticon.[D] O to feel what the pain is to be utterly unintelligible and then—"O God, thou understandest!"


The question should be fairly stated, how far a man can be an adequate, or even a good (as far as he goes) though inadequate [128]critic of poetry who is not a poet, at least, in posse? Can he be an adequate, can he be a good critic, though not commensurate [with the poet criticised]? But there is yet another distinction. Supposing he is not only not a poet, but is a bad poet! What then?


[The] cause of the offence or disgust received by the mean in good poems when we are young, and its diminution and occasional evanescence when we are older in true taste [is] that, at first, we are from various causes delighted with generalities of nature which can all be expressed in dignified words; but, afterwards, becoming more intimately acquainted with Nature in her detail, we are delighted with distinct, vivid ideas, and with vivid ideas most when made distinct, and can most often forgive and sometimes be delighted with even a low image from art or low life when it gives you the very thing by an illustration, as, for instance, Cowper's stream "inlaying" the level vale as with silver, and even Shakspere's "shrill-tongued Tapster's answering shallow wits" applied to echoes in an echofull place.


Of the not being able to know whether you are smoking in the dark or when your eyes are shut: item, of the ignorance in that state of the difference of beef, veal, &c.—it is[129] all attention. Your ideas being shut, other images arise which you must attend to, it being the habit of a seeing man to attend chiefly to sight. So close your eyes, (and) you attend to the ideal images, and, attending to them, you abstract your attention. It is the same when deeply thinking in a reverie, you no longer hear distinct sound made to you. But what a strange inference that there were no sounds!


I love St. Combe or Columba and he shall be my saint. For he is not in the Catalogue of Romish Saints, having never been canonised at Rome, and because this Apostle of the Picts lived and gave his name to an island on the Hebrides, and from him Switzerland was christianised.


"I will write," I said, "as truly as I can from experience, actual individual experience, not from book-knowledge." But yet it is wonderful how exactly the knowledge from good books coincides with the experience of men of the world. How often, when I was younger, have I noticed the deep delight of men of the world who have taken late in life to literature, on coming across a passage the force of which had either escaped me altogether, or which I knew to be true from books only and at second hand! Experience is necessary, no[130] doubt, if only to give a light and shade in the mind, to give to some one idea a greater vividness than to others, and thereby to make it a Thing of Time and actual reality. For all ideas being equally vivid, the whole becomes a dream. But, notwithstanding this and other reasons, I yet believe that the saws against book-knowledge are handed down to us from times when books conveyed only abstract science or abstract morality and religion. Whereas, in the present day, what is there of real life, in all its goings on, trades, manufactures, high life, low life, animate and inanimate that is not to be found in books? In these days books are conversation. And this, I know, is for evil as well as good, but for good, too, as well as evil.

DUTY AND SELF INTEREST Sunday morning 4 o'clock, April 7, 1805

How feebly, how unlike an English cock, that cock crows and the other answers! Did I not particularly notice the unlikeness on my first arrival at Malta? Well, to-day I will disburthen my mind. Yet one thing strikes me, the difference I find in myself during the past year or two. My enthusiasm for the happiness of mankind in particular places and countries, and my eagerness to promote it, seems to decrease, and my sense of duty, my hauntings of conscience, from any stain of thought or action to increase in the same ratio. I remember[131] having written a strong letter to my most dear and honoured Wordsworth in consequence of his "Ode to Duty," and in that letter explained this as the effect of selfness in a mind incapable of gross self-interest—I mean, the decrease of hope and joy, the soul in its round and round flight forming narrower circles, till at every gyre its wings beat against the personal self. But let me examine this more accurately. It may be that the phenomena will come out more honourable to our nature.


It is as trite as it is mournful (but yet most instructive), and by the genius that can produce the strongest impressions of novelty by rescuing the stalest and most admitted truths from the impotence caused by the very circumstance of their universal admission—admitted so instantly as never to be reflected on, never by that sole key of reflection admitted into the effective, legislative chamber of the heart—so true that they lose all the privileges of Truth, and, as extremes meet by being truisms, correspond in utter inefficiency with universally acknowledged errors (in Algebraic symbols Truisms = Falsehoodisms =  ○○)—by that genius, I say, might good be worked in considering the old, old Methusalem saw that "evil produces evil." One error almost compels another. Tell one lie, tell a hundred. Oh, to show this, a priori[132], by bottoming it in all our faculties and by experience of touching examples!

JOHN WORDSWORTH Monday, April 8, 1805

The favourite object of all Oriental tales, and that which, whist it inspired their authors in the East, still inspires their readers everywhere, is the impossibility of baffling Destiny—the perception that what we considered as the means of one thing becomes, in a strange manner, the direct means of the reverse. O dear John Wordsworth! what joy at Grasmere that you were made Captain of the Abergavenny, and so young too! Now it was next to certain that you would in a few years settle in your native hills and be verily one of the Concern! Then came your share in the brilliant action with Linois. (I was at Grasmere in spirit only, but in spirit I was one of the rejoicers—as joyful as any, and, perhaps, more joyous!) This, doubtless, not only enabled you to lay in a larger and more advantageous cargo, but procured you a voyage to India instead of China, and in this circumstance a next to certainty of independence—and all these were decoys of Death! Well, but a nobler feeling than these vain regrets would become the friend of the man whose last words were: "I have done my duty! let her go!" Let us do our duty! all else is a dream, life and death alike a dream. This short sentence would comprise, I believe,[133] the sum of all profound philosophy, of ethics and metaphysics conjointly, from Plato to Fichte!

[Vide Letters of S. T. C., 1895, ii. 495, note.]


The best, the truly lovely in each and all, is God. Therefore the truly beloved is the symbol of God to whomever it is truly beloved by, but it may become perfect and maintained love by the function of the two. The lover worships in his beloved that final consummation of itself which is produced in his own soul by the action of the soul of the beloved upon it, and that final perception of the soul of the beloved which is in part the consequence of the reaction of his (so ameliorated and regenerated) soul upon the soul of his beloved, till each contemplates the soul of the other as involving his own, both in its givings and its receivings, and thus, still keeping alive its outness, its self-oblivion united with self-warmth, still approximates to God! Where shall I find an image for this sublime symbol which, ever involving the presence of Deity, yet tends towards it ever? Shall it be in the attractive powers of the different surfaces of the earth? each attraction the vicegerent and representative of the central attraction, and yet being no other than that attraction itself? By some such feeling as this I can easily believe the mind of Fénelon and Madame Guyon to have coloured its faith in the worship of[134] saints, but that was most dangerous. It was not idolatry in them, but it encouraged idolatry in others. Now, the pure love of a good man for a good woman does not involve this evil, but it multiplies, intensifies the good.


Dreamt that I was saying or reading, or that it was read to me, "Varrius thus prophesied vinegar at his door by damned frigid tremblings." Just after, I woke. I fell to sleep again, having in the previous doze meditated on the possibility of making dreams regular; and just as I had passed on the other side of the confine of dozing, I afforded this specimen: "I should have thought it Vossius rather than Varrius, though, Varrius being a great poet, the idea would have been more suitable to him, only that all his writings were unfortunately lost in the Arrow." Again I awoke. N B.—The Arrow, Captain Vincent's frigate, from which our Malta letters and dispatches had been previously thrown overboard, was taken by the French, in February 1805. This illustrates the connection of dreams.

ORANGE BLOSSOM April 8, 1805

I never had a more lovely twig of orange-blossoms, with four old last year's leaves with their steady green well-placed among them, than to-day, and with a rose-twig of three roses [it] made a very striking nosegay to an English[135]man, The Orange Twig was so very full of blossoms that one-fourth of the number becoming fruit of the natural size would have broken the twig off. Is there, then, disproportion here? or waste? O no! no! In the first place, here is a prodigality of beauty; and what harm do they do by existing? And is not man a being capable of Beauty even as of Hunger and Thirst? And if the latter be fit objects of a final cause, why not the former? But secondly [Nature] hereby multiplies manifold the chances of a proper number becoming fruit—in this twig, for instance, for one set of accidents that would have been fatal to the year's growth if only as many blossoms had been on it as it was designed to bear fruit, there may now be three sets of accidents—and no harm done. And, thirdly and lastly, for me at least—or, at least, at present, for in nature doubtless there are many additional reasons, and possibly for me at some future hour of reflection, after some new influx of information from books or observance-and, thirdly, these blossoms are Fruit, fruit to the winged insect, fruit to man—yea! and of more solid value, perhaps, than the orange itself! O how the Bees be-throng and be-murmur it! O how the honey tells the tale of its birthplace to the sense of sight and odour! and to how many minute and uneyeable insects beside! So, I cannot but think, ought I to be talking to Hartley, and[136] sometimes to detail all the insects that have arts or implements resembling human—the sea-snails, with the nautilus at their head; the wheel-insect, the galvanic eel, etc.

[This note was printed in the Illustrated London News, June 10, 1893.]


In looking at objects of Nature while I am thinking, as at yonder moon dim-glimmering through the dewy window-pane, I seem rather to be seeking, as it were asking for, a symbolical language for something within me that already and for ever exists, than observing anything new. Even when that latter is the case, yet still I have always an obscure feeling as if that new phenomena were the dim awaking of a forgotten or hidden truth of my inner nature. It is still interesting as a word—a symbol. It is Λογος the Creator, and the Evolver! [Now] what is the right, the virtuous feeling, and consequent action when a man having long meditated on and perceived a certain truth, finds another, a foreign writer, who has handled the same with an approximation to the truth as he had previously conceived it? Joy! Let Truth make her voice audible! While I was preparing the pen to write this remark, I lost the train of thought which had led me to it. I meant to have asked something else now forgotten. For the above answers[137] itself. It needed no answer, I trust, in my heart.

[Printed in Life of S. T. C., by James Gillman, 1838, p. 311.]

THE HOPE OF HUMANITY, Easter Sunday, 1805

That beautiful passage in dear and honoured W. Wordsworth's "Michael," respecting the forward-looking Hope inspired pre-eminently by the birth of a child, was brought to my mind most forcibly by my own independent though, in part, anticipated reflections on the importance of young children to the keeping up the stock of Hope in the human species. They seem to be the immediate and secreting organ of Hope in the great organised body of the whole human race, in all men considered as the component atoms of Man—as young leaves are the organs of supplying vital air to the atmosphere.

Thus living on through such a length of years,
The Shepherd, if he loved himself, must needs
Have loved his Helpmate; but to Michael's heart
This son of his old age was yet more dear—
Less from instinctive tenderness, the same
Fond spirit that blindly works in the blood of all—
Than that a child, more than all other gifts
That earth can offer to declining man,
[138] Brings hope with it, and forward-looking thoughts,
And stirrings of inquietude, when they
By tendency of nature needs must fail.
Poetical Works of W. WORDSWORTH, p. 133.

THE NORTHERN EASTER Easter Sunday, 1805

The English and German climates and that of northern France possess, among many others, this one little beauty of uniting the mysteries of positive with those of natural religion—in celebrating the symbolical resurrection of the human soul in that of the Crucified, at the time of the actual resurrection of the "living life" of nature.


Religion consists in truth and virtue, that is, the permanent, the forma efformans, in the flux of things without, of feelings and images within. Well, therefore, does the Scripture speak of the Spirit as praying to the Spirit, "The Lord said to my Lord." God is the essence as well as the object of religion.

A SUPPOSITION Wednesday, April 17, 1805

I would not willingly kill even a flower, but were I at the head of an army, or a revolutionary kingdom, I would do my duty; and though it should be the ordering of the military execution of a city, yet, supposing it to be my duty, I would give the order—and then, in awe, listen to the uproar, even as to a thunder[139]storm—the awe as tranquil, the submission to the inevitable, to the unconnected with myself, as profound. It should be as if the lightning of heaven passed along my sword and destroyed a man.


Does the sober judgement previously measure out the banks between which the stream of enthusiasm shall rush with its torrent-sound? Far rather does the stream itself plough up its own channel and find its banks in the adamant rocks of nature!


There are times when my thoughts—how like music! O that these times were more frequent! But how can they be, I being so hopeless, and for months past so incessantly employed in official tasks, subscribing, examining, administering oaths, auditing, and so forth?


John Tobin dead, and just after the success of his play! and Robert Allen dead suddenly!

O when we are young we lament for death only by sympathy, or with the general feeling with which we grieve for misfortunes in general, but there comes a time (and this year is the time that has come to me) when we lament for death as death, when it is felt for itself, and as itself, aloof from all its consequences. Then[140] comes the grave-stone into the heart with all its mournful names, then the bell-man's or clerk's verses subjoined to the bills of mortality are no longer common-place.

[John Tobin the dramatist died December 7, 1804. His play entitled "The Honeymoon" was published in 1805.

Robert Allen, Coleridge's contemporary and school-friend, held the post of deputy-surgeon to the 2nd Royals, then on service in Portugal. He was a friend of Dr. (afterwards Sir J.) Stoddart, with whom Coleridge stayed on his first arrival at Malta. See Letters of Charles Lamb, Macmillan, 1888, i. 188.]


WŁrde, worthiness, VIRTUE, consist in the mastery over the sensuous and sensual impulses; but love requires INNOCENCE. Let the lover ask his heart whether he can endure that his mistress should have struggled with a sensual impulse for another man, though she overcame it from a sense of duty to him. Women are LESS offended with men, in part, from the vicious habits of men, and, in part, from the difference of bodily constitution. Yet, still, to a pure and truly loving woman this must be a painful thought. That he should struggle with and overcome ambition, desire of fortune, superior beauty, &c., or with objectless desire of any kind, is pleasing, but not that he has[141] struggled with positive, appropriated desire, that is, desire with an object. Love, in short, requires an absolute peace and harmony between all parts of human nature, such as it is; and it is offended by any war, though the battle should be decided in favour of the worthier. This is, perhaps, the final cause of the rarity of true love, and the efficient and immediate cause of its difficulty. Ours is a life of probation. We are to contemplate and obey duty for its own sake, and in order to do this, we, in our present imperfect state of being, must see it not merely abstracted from but in direct opposition to the wish, the inclination. Having perfected this, the highest possibility of human nature, man may then with safety harmonise all his being with this—he may love. To perform duties absolutely from the sense of duty is the ideal, which, perhaps, no human being ever can arrive at, but which every human being ought to try to draw near unto. This is, in the only wise, and, verily, in a most sublime sense, to see God face to face, which, alas! it seems too true that no man can do and live, that is, a human life. It would become incompatible with his organization, or rather, it would transmute it, and the process of that transmutation, to the senses of other men, would be called death. Even as to the caterpillar, in all probability, the caterpillar dies, and he either, which is most probable, does not see[142] (or, at all events, does not see the connection between the caterpillar and) the butterfly, the beautiful Psyche of the Greeks.


Those who in this life love in perfection, if such there be, in proportion as their love has no struggles, see God darkly and through a veil. For when duty and pleasure are absolutely co-incident, the very nature of our organisation necessitates that duty will be contemplated as the symbol of pleasure, instead of pleasure being (as in a future life we have faith it will be) the symbol of duty. For herein lies the distinction between human and angelic happiness. Humanly happy I call him who in enjoyment finds his duty; angelically happy he, who seeks and finds his duty in enjoyment.

Happiness in general may be defined, not the aggregate of pleasurable sensations—for this is either a dangerous error and the creed of sensualists, or else a mere translation or wordy paraphrase—but the state of that person who, in order to enjoy his nature in the highest manifestation of conscious feeling, has no need of doing wrong, and who, in order to do right, is under no necessity of abstaining from enjoyment.

[Vide Life of S. T. C., by James Gillman, 1838, pp. 176-78.]


Thought and reality are, as it were, two distinct corresponding sounds,[143] of which no man can say positively which is the voice and which the echo.

Oh, the beautiful fountain or natural well at Upper Stowey! The images of the weeds which hung down from its sides appear as plants growing up, straight and upright, among the water-weeds that really grow from the bottom of the well, and so vivid was the image, that for some moments, and not till after I had disturbed the water, did I perceive that their roots were not neighbours, and they side-by-side companions. So ever, then I said, so are the happy man's thoughts and things, [or in the language of the modern philosophers] his ideas and impressions.


The two characteristics which I have most observed in Roman Catholic mummery processions, baptisms, etc., are, first, the immense noise and jingle-jingle as if to frighten away the dæmon common-sense; and, secondly, the unmoved, stupid, uninterested faces of the conjurers. I have noticed no exception. Is not the very nature of superstition in general, as being utterly sensuous, cold except where it is sensual? Hence the older form of idolatry, as displayed in the Greek mythology, was, in some sense, even preferable to the Popish. For[144] whatever life did and could exist in superstition it brought forward and sanctified in its rites of Bacchus, Venus, etc. The papist by pretence of suppression warps and denaturalises. In the pagan [ritual, superstition] burnt with a bright flame, in the popish it consumes the soul with a smothered fire that stinks in darkness and smoulders like gum that burns but is incapable of light.

ILLUSION Sunday Midnight, May 12, 1805

At the Treasury, La Valetta, Malta, in the room the windows of which directly face the piazzas and vast saloon built for the archives and Library and now used as the Garrison Ball-room, sitting at one corner of a large parallelogram table well-littered with books, in a red arm-chair, at the other corner of which (diagonally)


Mr. Dennison had been sitting—he and I having conversed for a long time, he bade me good night, and retired—I meaning to retire too, however sunk for five minutes or so into a doze and on suddenly awaking up I saw him as distinctly sitting in the chair, as I had, really, some ten minutes before. I was startled, and thinking of it, sunk into a second doze, out of which awaking as before I saw again the same appearance; not more distinct indeed, but more of his form—for at the first time I had seen only his face and bust—but now I saw as much as I could have seen if he[145] had been really there. The appearance was very nearly that of a person seen through thin smoke distinct indeed, but yet a sort of distinct shape and colour, with a diminished sense of substantiality—like a face in a clear stream. My nerves had been violently agitated yesterday morning by the attack of three dogs as I was mounting the steps of Captain Pasley's door—two of them savage Bedouins, who wounded me in the calf of my left leg. I have noted this down, not three minutes having intervened since the illusion took place. Often and often I have had similar experiences and, therefore, resolved to write down the particulars whenever any new instance should occur, as a weapon against superstition, and an explanation of ghosts—Banquo in "Macbeth" the very same thing. I once told a lady the reason why I did not believe in the existence of ghosts, etc., was that I had seen too many of them myself. N.B. There were on the table a common black wine-bottle, a decanter of water, and, between these, one of the half-gallon glass flasks which Sir G. Beaumont had given me (four of these full of port), the cork in, covered with leather, and having a white plated ring on the top. I mention this because since I wrote the former pages, on blinking a bit a third time, and opening my eyes, I clearly detected that this high-shouldered hypochondriacal bottle-man had[146] a great share in producing the effect. The metamorphosis was clearly beginning, though I snapped the spell before it had assumed a recognisable form. The red-leather arm-chair was so placed at the corner that the flask was exactly between me and it—and the lamp being close to my corner of the large table, and not giving much light, the chair was rather obscure, and the brass nails where the leather was fastened to the outward wooden rim reflecting the light more copiously were seen almost for themselves. What if instead of immediately checking the sight, and then pleased with it as a philosophical case, I had been frightened and encouraged it, and my understanding had joined its vote to that of my senses?

My own shadow, too, on the wall not far from Mr. D.'s chair—the white paper, the sheet of Harbour Reports lying spread out on the table on the other side of the bottles—influence of mere colour, influence of shape—wonderful coalescence of scattered colours at distances, and, then, all going to some one shape, and the modification! Likewise I am more convinced by repeated observation that, perhaps, always in a very minute degree but assuredly in certain states and postures of the eye, as in drowsiness, in the state of the brain and nerves after distress or agitation, especially if it had been accompanied by weeping, and in many[147] others, we see our own faces, and project them according to the distance given them by the degree of indistinctness—that this may occasion in the highest degree the Wraith (vide a hundred Scotch stories, but better than all, Wordsworth's most wonderful and admirable poem, Peter Bell, when he sees his own figure), and, still oftener, that it facilitates the formation of a human face out of some really present object, and from the alteration of the distance among other causes never suspected as the occasion and substratum.

S. T. C.

N.B.—This is a valuable note, re-read by me, Tuesday morning, May 14.

[Compare Table Talk for January 3 and May 1, 1823, Bell & Co., 1884, pp. 20, 31-33. See, too, The Friend, First Landing Place Essay, iii., Coleridge's Works, Harper & Brothers, 1853, ii. 134-137.]


Mem. always to bear in mind that profound sentence of Leibnitz that men's intellectual errors consist chiefly in denying. What they affirm with feeling is, for the most part, right—if it be a real affirmation, and not affirmative in form, negative in reality. As, for instance, when a man praises the French stage, meaning and implying his dislike of Shakspere [and the Elizabethan dramatists].

"Facts—stubborn facts! None of your theory!" A most entertaining and[148] instructive essay might be written on this text, and the sooner the better. Trace it from the most absurd credulity—e.g., in Fracastorius' De Sympathi‚, cap. i. and the Alchemy Book—even to that of your modern agriculturists, relating their own facts and swearing against each other like ships' crews. O! it is the relation of the facts—not the facts, friend!

Speculative men are wont to be condemned by the general. But who more speculative then Sir Walter Raleigh, and he, even he, brought the potato to Europe. Good heavens! let me never eat a roasted potato without dwelling on it, and detailing its train of consequences. Likewise, too, dubious to the philosopher, but to be clapped chorally by the commercial world, he, this mere wild speculatist, introduced tobacco.

For a nation to make peace only because it is tired of war, and, as it were, in order just to take breath, is in direct subversion of the end and object of the war which was its sole justification. 'Tis like a poor way-sore foot traveller getting up behind a coach that is going the contrary way to his.

The eye hath a two-fold power. It is, verily, a window through which you[149] not only look out of the house, but can look into it too. A statesman and diplomatist should for this reason always wear spectacles.

Worldly men gain their purposes with worldly men by that instinctive belief in sincerity. Hence (nothing immediately and passionately contradicting it) the effect of the "with unfeigned esteem," "entire devotion," and the other smooth phrases in letters, all, in short, that sea-officers call oil, and of which they, with all their bluntness, well understand the use.

The confusion of metaphor with reality is one of the fountains of the many-headed Nile of credulity, which, overflowing its banks, covers the world with miscreations and reptile monsters, and feeds by its many mouths the sea of blood.

A ready command of a limited number of words is but a playing cat-cradle dexterously with language.

Plain contra-reasoning may be compared with boxing with fists. Controversy with boxing is the cestus, that is, the lead-loaded[150] glove, like the pugilists in the Æneid. But the stiletto! the envenomed stiletto is here. What worse? (a Germanism) Yes! the poisoned Italian glove of mock friendship.

The more I reflect, the more exact and close appears to me the analogy between a watch and watches, and the conscience and consciences of men, on the one hand, and that between the sun and motion of the heavenly bodies in general and the reason and goodness of the Supreme on the other. Never goes quite right any one, no two go exactly the same; they derive their dignity and use as being substitutes and exponents of heavenly motions, but still, in a thousand instances, they are and must be our instructors by which we must act, in practice presuming a coincidence while theoretically we are aware of incalculable variations.

One lifts up one's eyes to heaven, as if to seek there what one had lost on earth—eyes,
Whose half-beholdings through unsteady tears
Gave shape, hue, distance to the inward dream.


Schiller, disgusted with Kotzebuisms, deserts from Shakspere! What! cannot we condemn a counterfeit and yet remain admirers of the original? This is a sufficient proof that[151] the first admiration was not sound, or founded on sound distinct perceptions [or, if sprung from], a sound feeling, yet clothed and manifested to the consciousness by false ideas. And now the French stage is to be re-introduced. O Germany! Germany! why this endless rage for novelty? Why this endless looking out of thyself? But stop, let me not fall into the pit against which I was about to warn others. Let me not confound the discriminating character and genius of a nation with the conflux of its individuals in cities and reviews. Let England be Sir Philip Sidney, Shakspere, Milton, Bacon, Harrington, Swift, Wordsworth; and never let the names of Darwin, Johnson, Hume, fur it over. If these, too, must be England let them be another England; or, rather, let the first be old England, the spiritual, Platonic old England, and the second, with Locke at the head of the philosophers and Pope [at the head] of the poets, together with the long list of Priestleys, Paleys, Hayleys, Darwins, Mr. Pitts, Dundasses, &c., &c., be the representatives of commercial Great Britain. These have [indeed] their merits, but are as alien to me as the Mandarin philosophers and poets of China. Even so Leibnitz, Lessing, Voss, Kant, shall be Germany to me, let whatever coxcombs rise up, and shrill it away in the grasshopper vale of reviews. And so shall Dante, Ariosto, Giordano Bruno,[152] be my Italy; Cervantes my Spain; and O! that I could find a France for my love. But spite of Pascal, Madame Guyon and MoliŤre, France is my Babylon, the mother of whoredoms in morality, philosophy and taste. The French themselves feel a foreignness in these writers. How indeed is it possible at once to love Pascal and Voltaire?

AN INTELLECTUAL PURGATORY Tuesday morning, May 14, 1805

With any distinct remembrance of a past life there could be no fear of death as death, no idea even of death! Now, in the next state, to meet with the Luthers, Miltons, Leibnitzs, Bernouillis, Bonnets, Shaksperes, etc., and to live a longer and better life, the good and wise entirely among the good and wise, might serve as a step to break the abruptness of an immediate Heaven? But it must be a human life; and though the faith in a hereafter would be more firm, more undoubting, yet, still, it must not be a sensuous remembrance of a death passed over. No! [it would be] something like a dream that you had not died, but had been taken off; in short, the real events with the obscurity of a dream, accompanied with the notion that you had never died, but that death was yet to come. As a man who, having walked in his sleep, by rapid openings of his eyes—too rapid to be observable by others or rememberable by himself[153]—sees and remembers the whole of his path, mixing it with many fancies ab intra, and, awaking, remembers, but yet as a dream.


'Tis one source of mistakes concerning the merits of poems, that to those read in youth men attribute all that praise which is due to poetry in general, merely considered as select language in metre. (Little children should not be taught verses, in my opinion; better not to let them set eyes on verse till they are ten or eleven years old.) Now, poetry produces two kinds of pleasure, one for each of the two master-movements and impulses of man, the gratification of the love of variety, and the gratification of the love of uniformity—and that by a recurrence delightful as a painless and yet exciting act of memory—tiny breezelets of surprise, each one destroying the ripplets which the former had made—yet all together keeping the surface of the mind in a bright dimple-smile. So, too, a hatred of vacancy is reconciled with the love of rest. These and other causes often make [a first acquaintance with] poetry an overpowering delight to a lad of feeling, as I have heard Poole relate of himself respecting Edwin and Angelina. But so it would be with a man bred up in a wilderness by Unseen Beings, who should yet converse and discourse rationally with him—how beautiful would not the first[154] other man appear whom he saw and knew to be a man by the resemblance to his own image seen in the clear stream; and would he not, in like manner, attribute to the man all the divine attributes of humanity, though, haply, he should be a very ordinary, or even a most ugly man, compared with a hundred others? Many of us who have felt this with respect to women have been bred up where few are to be seen; and I acknowledge that, both in persons and in poems, it is well on the whole that we should retain our first love, though, alike in both cases, evils have happened as the consequence.


The excellent fable of the maddening rain I have found in Drayton's "Moon Calf," most miserably marred in the telling! vastly inferior to Benedict Fay's Latin exposition of it, and that is no great thing. Vide his Lucretian Poem on the Newtonian System. Never was a finer tale for a satire, or, rather, to conclude a long satirical poem of five or six hundred lines.

[For excellent use of this fable, see The Friend, No. 1, June 9, 1809, Coleridge's Works, Harper & Brothers, ii. 21, 22.]


Pasley remarked last night (2nd August 1805), and with great precision and originality, that men themselves, in the present age, were not so much degraded as their sentiments.[155] This is most true! almost all men nowadays act and feel more nobly than they think—yet still the vile, cowardly, selfish, calculating ethics of Paley, Priestley, Locke, and other Erastians do woefully influence and determine our course of action.


O the complexities of the ravel produced by time struggling with eternity! a and b are different, and eternity or duration makes them one—this we call modification—the principle of all greatness in finite beings, the principle of all contradiction and absurdity.

THE PASSION FOR THE MOT PROPRE August 3, 1805 Saturday

It is worthy notice (shewn in the phrase "I envy him such and such a thing," meaning only, "I regret I cannot share with him, have the same as he, without depriving him of it, or any part of it,") the instinctive passion in the mind for a one word to express one act of feeling—[one] that is, in which, however complex in reality, the mind is conscious of no discursion and synthesis a posteriori. On this instinct rest all the improvements (and, on the habits formed by this instinct and [the] knowledge of these improvements, Vanity rears all the Apuleian, Apollonian, etc., etc., corruptions) of style. Even so with our Johnson.


There are bulls of action equally as of thought, [for] (not to allude[156] to the story of the Irish labourer who laid his comrade all his wages that he would not carry him down in his hod from the top to the bottom of a high house, down the ladder) the feeling of vindictive honour in duelling, and the feudal revenges anterior to duelling, formed a true bull; for they were superstitious Christians, knew it was wrong, and yet knew it was right—they would be damned deservedly if they did, and, if they did not, they thought themselves deserving of being damned.


The pseudo-poets Campbell, Rogers, etc., both by their writings and moral character tend to bring poetry into disgrace, and, but that men in general are the slaves of the same wretched infirmities, they would [set their seal on this disgrace,] and it would be well. The true poet could not smother the sacred fire ("his heart burnt within him and he spake"), and wisdom would be justified by her children. But the false poet—that is, the no-poet—finding poetry in contempt among the many, of whose praise, whatever he may affirm, he is alone ambitious, would be prevented from scribbling.


The progress of human intellect from earth to heaven is not a Jacob's[157] ladder, but a geometrical staircase with five or more landing-places. That on which we stand enables us to see clearly and count all below us, while that or those above us are so transparent for our eyes that they appear the canopy of heaven. We do not see them, and believe ourselves on the highest.

["Among my earliest impressions I still distinctly remember that of my first entrance into the mansion of a neighbouring baronet, awefully known to me by the name of the Great House [Escot, near Ottery St. Mary, Devon].... Beyond all other objects I was most struck with the magnificent staircase, relieved at well-proportioned intervals by spacious landing-places.... My readers will find no difficulty in translating these forms of the outward senses into their intellectual analogies, so as to understand the purport of The Friend's Landing-Places." The Friend, "The Landing-Place," Essay iv. Coleridge's Works, Harper & Brothers, 1853, ii. 137, 138.]


In the Threnæ or funeral songs and elegies of our old poets, I am often impressed with the idea of their resemblance to hired weepers in Rome and among the Irish, where he who howled the loudest and most wildly was the[158] most capital mourner and was at the head of his trade. So [too] see William Browne's elegy on Prince Henry (Britt. Past. Songs v.), whom, perhaps, he never spoke to. Yet he is a dear fellow, and I love him, that W. Browne who died at Ottery, and with whose family my own is united, or, rather, connected and acquainted.

[Colonel James Coleridge, the poet's eldest surviving brother and Henry Langford Browne of Combe-Satchfield married sisters, Frances and Dorothy Taylor, whose mother was one of five co-heiresses of Richard Duke of Otterton.

It is uncertain whether a William Browne of Ottery St. Mary, who died in 1645, was the author of The Shepherd's Pipe and Britannia's Pastorals. Two beautiful inscriptions on a tomb in St. Stephen's Chapel in the collegiate church of St. Mary Ottery, were, in Southey's opinion (doubtless at Coleridge's suggestion), composed by the poet William Browne.]


God knows! that at times I derive a comfort even from my infirmities, my sins of omission and commission, in the joy of the deep feeling of the opposite virtues in the two or three whom I love in my heart of hearts. Sharp, therefore, is the pain when I find faults in these friends opposite to my virtues. I find no comfort in the notion of average, for I wish to love even more than to be beloved, and am so[159] haunted by the conscience of my many failings that I find an unmixed pleasure in esteeming and admiring, but, as the recipient of esteem or admiration, I feel as a man, whose good dispositions are still alive, feels in the enjoyment of a darling property on a doubtful title. My instincts are so far dog-like that I love beings superior to myself better than my equals. But the notion of inferiority is so painful to me that I never, in common life, feel a man my inferior except by after-reflection. What seems vanity in me is in great part attributable to this feeling. But of this hereafter. I will cross-examine myself.


There are actions which left undone mark the greater man; but to have done them does not imply a bad or mean man. Such, for instance, are Martial's compliments of Domitian. So may we praise Milton without condemning Dryden. By-the-bye, we are all too apt to forget that contemporaries have not the same wholeness, and fixedness in their notions of persons' characters, that we their posterity have. They can hope and fear and believe and disbelieve. We make up an ideal which, like the fox or lion in the fable, never changes.


I have several times seen the stiletto and the rosary come out of the same pocket.

A man who marries for love is like a frog who leaps into a well. He has[160] plenty of water but then he cannot get out.

[Not until national ruin is imminent will Ministers contemplate the approach of national danger]; as if Judgment were overwhelmed like Belgic towns in the sea, and showed its towers only at dead low water.

The superiority of the genus to the particular may be illustrated by music. How infinitely more perfect in passion and its transition than even poetry, and poetry again than painting! And yet how marvellous is genius in all its implements!

[Compare Table Talk, July 6, 1833. H. N. C. foot-note. Bell & Co., 1884, p. 240.]

Those only who feel no originality, no consciousness of having received their thoughts and opinions from immediate inspiration are anxious to be thought original. The certainty, the feeling that he is right, is enough for the man of genius, and he rejoices to find his opinions plumed and winged with the authority of several forefathers.

The water-lily in the midst of the lake is equally refreshed by the rain, as the sponge on the sandy sea-shore.

In the next world the souls of dull good men serve for bodies to the[161] souls of the Shaksperes and Miltons, and in the course of a few centuries, when the soul can do without its vehicle, the bodies will by advantage of good company have refined themselves into souls fit to be clothed with like bodies.

How much better it would be, in the House of Commons, to have everything that is, and by the spirit of English freedom must be legal, legal and open! The reporting, for instance, should be done by shorthandists appointed by Government. There are, I see, weighty arguments on the other side, but are they not to be got over?

Co-arctation is not a bad phrase for that narrowing in of breadth on both sides as in my interpolation of Schiller.

"And soon
The narrowing line of day-light that ran after
The closing door was gone."

Piccolomini, ii. sc. 4, P.W., p. 257.


In order not to be baffled by the infinite ascent of the heavenly angels, the devil feigned that all (the ταγαθου, that is, God himself included) sprang from nothing. And now he has a pretty task to multiply, without[162] paper or slate, the exact number of all the animalcules, and the eggs and embryos of each planet, by some other, and the product by a third and that product by a fourth, and he is not to stop till he has gone through the planets of half the universe, the number of which being infinite, it is considered by the devils in general a great puzzle. A dream in a doze.


A bodily substance, an unborrowed Self—God in God immanent! The Eternal Word! That goes forth yet remains! Crescent and Full and Wane, yet ever entire and one, it dawns, and sets, and crowns the height of heaven. At the same time, the dawning and setting sun, at the same time the zodiac—while each, in its own hour, boasts and beholds the exclusive Presence, a peculiar Orb, each the great Traveller's inn, yet still the unmoving Sun—

Great genial Agent in all finite souls;
And by that action puts on finiteness,
Absolute Infinite, whose dazzling robe
Flows in rich folds, and plays in shooting hues
Of infinite finiteness.

FOR THE "SOOTHER IN ABSENCE." Syracuse, September 26, 1805

I was standing gazing at the starry heaven, and said, "I will go to bed, the next star that shoots." Observe this, in counting fixed numbers previous to doing anything, and deduce[163] from man's own unconscious acknowledgment man's dependence on something more apparently and believedly subject to regular and certain laws than his own will and reason.

To Wordsworth in the progression of spirit, once Simonides, or Empedocles, or both in one—

"Oh! that my spirit, purged by death of its weaknesses, which are, alas! my identity, might flow into thine, and live and act in thee and be thine!"

Death, first of all, eats of the Tree of Life and becomes immortal. Describe the frightful metamorphosis. He weds the Hamadryad of the Tree [and begets a twy-form] progeny. This in the manner of Dante.

Sad drooping children of a wretched parent are those yellowing leaflets of a broken twig, broke ere its June.

We are not inert in the grave. St. Paul's corn in the ground proves this scripturally, and the growth of infants in their sleep by natural analogy. What, then, if our spiritual growth be in proportion to the length and depth of the sleep! With what mysterious grandeur does not this thought invest the grave, and[164] how poor compared with this an immediate Paradise!

I awake and find my beloved asleep, gaze upon her by the taper that feebly illumines the darkness, then fall asleep by her side; and we both awake together for good and all in the broad daylight of heaven.

Forget not to impress as often and as manifoldly as possible the totus in omni parte of Truth, and its consequent interdependence on co-operation and, vice vers‚, the fragmentary character of action, and its absolute dependence on society, a majority, etc. The blindness to this distinction creates fanaticism on one side, alarm and prosecution on the other. Jacobins or soul-gougers. It is an interesting fact or fable that the stork (the emblem of filial or conjugal piety) never abides in a monarchy.

Commend me to the Irish architect who took out the foundation-stone to repair the roof.

Knox and the other reformers were Scopæ viarum—that is, highway besoms.

The Pine Tree blasted at the top was applied by Swift to himself as a prophetic emblem of his own decay. The Chestnut is a[165] fine shady tree, and its wood excellent, were it not that it dies away at the heart first. Alas! poor me!


Modern poetry is characterised by the poets' anxiety to be always striking. There is the same march in the Greek and Latin poets. Claudian, who had powers to have been anything—observe in him this anxious, craving vanity! Every line, nay, every word, stops, looks full in your face, and asks and begs for praise! As in a Chinese painting, there are no distances, no perspective, but all is in the foreground; and this is nothing but vanity. I am pleased to think that, when a mere stripling, I had formed the opinion that true taste was virtue, and that bad writing was bad feeling.


The desire of carrying things to a greater height of pleasure and admiration than, omnibus trutinatis, they are susceptible of, is one great cause of the corruption of poetry. Both to understand my own reasoning and to communicate it, ponder on Catullus' hexameters and pentameters, his "numine abusum homines" [Carmen, lxxvi. 4] [and similar harsh expressions]. It is not whether or no the very same ideas expressed with the very same force and the very same naturalness and simplicity in the versification of Ovid and Tibullus, would[166] not be still more delightful (though even that, for any number of poems, may well admit a doubt), but whether it is possible so to express them and whether, in every attempt, the result has not been to substitute manner for matter, and point that will not bear reflection (so fine that it breaks the moment you try it) for genuine sense and true feeling, and, lastly, to confine both the subjects, thoughts, and even words of poetry within a most beggarly cordon. N.B.—The same criticism applies to Metastasio, and, in Pope, to his quaintness, perversion, unnatural metaphors, and, still more, the cold-blooded use, for artifice or connection, of language justifiable only by enthusiasm and passion.


I confess that it has cost, and still costs, my philosophy some exertion not to be vexed that I must admire, aye, greatly admire, Richardson. His mind is so very vile a mind, so oozy, hypocritical, praise-mad, canting, envious, concupiscent! But to understand and draw him would be to produce a work almost equal to his own; and, in order to do this, "down, proud Heart, down" (as we teach little children to say to themselves, bless them!), all hatred down! and, instead thereof, charity, calmness, a heart fixed on the good part, though the understanding is surveying all. Richardson felt truly the defect of Fielding, or what was not[167] his excellence, and made that his defect—a trick of uncharitableness often played, though not exclusively, by contemporaries. Fielding's talent was observation, not meditation. But Richardson was not philosopher enough to know the difference—say, rather, to understand and develop it.


O there are some natures which under the most cheerless all-threatening nothing-promising circumstances can draw hope from the invisible, as the tropical trees that in the sandy desolation produce their own lidded vessels full of the waters from air and dew! Alas! to my root not a drop trickles down but from the watering-pot of immediate friends. And, even so, it seems much more a sympathy with their feeling rather than hope of my own. So should I feel sorrow, if Allston's mother, whom I have never seen, were to die?


Stoddart passes over a poem as one of those tiniest of tiny night-flies runs over a leaf, casting its shadow, three times as long as itself, yet only just shading one, or at most two letters at a time.


A maidservant of Mrs. Clarkson's parents had a great desire to hear Dr. Price, and accordingly attended his congrega[168]tion. On her return, being asked "Well, what do you think?" &c., "Ai—i," replied she, "there was neither the poor nor the Gospel." Excellent that on the fine respectable attendants of Unitarian chapels, and the moonshine, heartless head-work of the sermons.


The mahogany tables, all, but especially the large dining-table, [marked] with the segments of circles (deep according to the passion of the dice-box plunger), chiefly half-circles, O the anger and spite with which many have been thrown! It is truly a written history of the fiendish passion of gambling. Oct. 12, 1806. Newmarket.


The odes of Pindar (with few exceptions, and these chiefly in the shorter ones) seem by intention to die away by soft gradations into a languid interest, like most of the landscapes of the great elder painters. Modern ode-writers have commonly preferred a continued rising of interest.


The shattering of long and deep-rooted associations always places the mind in an angry state, and even when our own understandings have effected the revolution, it still holds good, only we apply the feeling to and against our former faith and those who still hold it—[a[169] tendency] shown in modern infidels. Great good, therefore, of such revolution as alters, not by exclusion, but by an enlargement that includes the former, though it places it in a new point of view.


After the formation of a new acquaintance, found, by some weeks' or months' unintermitted communion, worthy of all our esteem, affection and, perhaps, admiration, an intervening absence, whether we meet again or only write, raises it into friendship, and encourages the modesty of our nature, impelling us to assume the language and express all the feelings of an established attachment.


The thinking disease is that in which the feelings, instead of embodying themselves in acts, ascend and become materials of general reasoning and intellectual pride. The dreadful consequences of this perversion [may be] instanced in Germany, e.g., in Fichte versus Kant, Schelling versus Fichte and in Verbidigno [Wordsworth] versus S. T. C. Ascent where nature meant descent, and thus shortening the process—viz., feelings made the subjects and tangible substance of thought, instead of actions, realizations, things done, and as such externalised and remembered. On such meagre diet as feelings, evaporated embryos in their[170] progress to birth, no moral being ever becomes healthy.


Empires, states, &c., may be beautifully illustrated by a large clump of coal placed on a fire—Russia, for instance—or of small coal moistened, and by the first action of the heat of any government not absolutely lawless, formed into a cake, as the northern nations under Charlemagne—then a slight impulse from the fall of accident, or the hand of patriotic foresight, splits [the one] into many, and makes each [fragment] burn with its own flame, till at length all burning equally, it becomes again one by universal similar action—then burns low, cinerises, and without accession of rude materials goes out.


Winter slumbering soft, seemed to smile at visions of buds and blooms, and dreamt so livelily of spring, that his stern visage had relaxed and softened itself into a dim likeness of his dream. The soul of the vision breathed through and lay like light upon his face.

But, heavens! what an outrageous day of winter this is and has been! Terrible weather for the last two months, but this is horrible! Thunder and lightning, floods of rain, and volleys of hail, with such frantic winds. December 1806.

[This note was written when S. T. C. was staying with Wordsworth at the[171] Hall Farm, Coleorton.]


In the first [entrance to the wood] the spots of moonlight of the wildest outlines, not unfrequently approaching so near to the shape of man and the domestic animals most attached to him as to be easily confused with them by fancy and mistaken by terror, moved and started as the wind stirred the branches, so that it almost seemed like a flight of recent spirits, sylphs and sylphids dancing and capering in a world of shadows. Once, when our path was over-canopied by the meeting boughs, as I halloed to those a stone-throw behind me, a sudden flash of light dashed down, as it were, upon the path close before me, with such rapid and indescribable effect that my life seemed snatched away from me—not by terror but by the whole attention being suddenly and unexpectedly seized hold of—if one could conceive a violent blow given by an unseen hand, yet without pain or local sense of injury, of the weight falling here or there, it might assist in conceiving the feeling. This I found was occasioned by some very large bird, who, scared by my noise, had suddenly flown upward, and by the spring of his feet or body had driven down the branch on which he was aperch.


[B] When instead of the general feeling of the lifeblood in its equable individual motion, and the consequent wholeness of the one feeling of the skin, we feel as if a heap of ants were running over us—the one corrupting into ten thousand—so in araneosis, instead of the one view of the air, or blue sky, a thousand specks, etc., dance before the eye. The metaphor is as just as, of a metaphor, anyone has a right to claim, but it is clumsily expressed.

[C] I have the same anxiety for my friend now in England as for myself, that is to be, or may be, two months hence.

[D] "A prison so constructed that the inspector can see each of the prisoners at all times without being seen by them."



September 1806—December 1807

Alas! for some abiding-place of love,
O'er which my spirit, like the mother dove,
Might brood with warming wings!
S. T. C.

I had a confused shadow rather than an image in my recollection, like that from a thin cloud, as if the idea were descending, though still in some measureless height.

As when the taper's white cone of flame is seen double, till the eye moving brings them into one space and then they become one—so did the idea in my imagination coadunate with your present form soon after I first gazed upon you.

And in life's noisiest hour
There whispers still the ceaseless love of thee,
The heart's self-solace and soliloquy.


You mould my hopes, you fashion me within,
And to the leading love-throb in my heart
Through all my being, all my pulses beat.
You lie in all my many thoughts like light,
Like the fair light of dawn, or summer light,
On rippling stream, or cloud-reflecting lake—
And looking to the Heaven that beams above you,
How do I bless the lot that made me love you!


In all processes of the understanding the shortest way will be discovered the last and this, perhaps, while it constitutes the great advantage of having a teacher to put us on the shortest road at the first, yet sometimes occasions a difficulty in the comprehension, inasmuch as the longest way is more near to the existing state of the mind, nearer to what if left to myself, on starting the thought, I should have thought next. The shortest way gives me the knowledge best, but the longest makes me more knowing.


When a party man talks as if he hated his country, saddens at her prosperous events, exults in her disasters and yet, all the while, is merely hating the opposite party, and would himself feel and talk as a patriot were he in a foreign land [he is a party man]. The true monster is he (and such alas! there are in[174] these monstrous days, "vollendeter SŁndhaftigkeit"), who abuses his country when out of his country.


Oh the profanation of the sacred word the People! Every brutal Burdett-led mob, assembled on some drunken St. Monday of faction, is the People forsooth, and each leprous ragamuffin, like a circle in geometry, is, at once, one and all, and calls its own brutal self, "us the People." And who are the friends of the People? Not those who would wish to elevate each of them, or, at least, the child who is to take his place in the flux of life and death, into something worthy of esteem and capable of freedom, but those who flatter and infuriate them, as they are. A contradiction in the very thought! For if, really, they are good and wise, virtuous and well-informed, how weak must be the motives of discontent to a truly moral being—but if the contrary, and the motives for discontent proportionably strong, how without guilt and absurdity appeal to them as judges and arbiters? He alone is entitled to a share in the government of all, who has learnt to govern himself. There is but one possible ground of a right of freedom—viz., to understand and revere its duties.

[Vide Life of S. T. C., by James Gillman, 1838, p. 223.]

FOR THE "SOOTHER IN ABSENCE." May 28, 1807 Bristol

How villainously these metallic pencils have degenerated, not only in[175] the length and quantity, but what is far worse, in the quality of the metal! This one appears to have no superiority over the worst sort sold by the Maltese shopkeepers.

Blue sky through the glimmering interspaces of the dark elms at twilight rendered a lovely deep yellow-green—all the rest a delicate blue.

The hay-field in the close hard by the farm-house—babe, and totterer little more [than a babe]—old cat with her eyes blinking in the sun and little kittens leaping and frisking over the hay-lines.

What an admirable subject for an Allston would Tycho Brahe be, listening with religious awe to the oracular gabble of the idiot, whom he kept at his feet, and used to feed with his own hands!

The sun-flower ought to be cultivated, the leaves being excellent fodder, the flowers eminently melliferous, and the seeds a capital food for poultry, none nourishing quicker or occasioning them to lay more eggs.

Serpentium allapsus timet. Quære—allapse of serpents. Horace.—What[176] other word have we? Pity that we dare not Saxonise as boldly as our forefathers, by unfortunate preference, Latinised. Then we should have on-glide, angleiten; onlook anschauen, etc.

I moisten the bread of affliction with the water of adversity.

If kings are gods on earth, they are, however, gods of earth.

Parisatis poisoned one side of the knife with which he carved, and eat of the same joint the next slice unhurt—a happy illustration of affected self-inclusion in accusation.

It is possible to conceive a planet without any general atmosphere, but in which each living body has its peculiar atmosphere. To hear and understand, one man joins his atmosphere to that of another, and, according to the sympathies of their nature, the aberrations of sound will be greater or less, and their thoughts more or less intelligible. A pretty allegory might be made of this.

Two faces, each of a confused countenance. In the eyes of the one, muddiness and lustre were blended; and the eyes of the other[177] were the same, but in them there was a red fever that made them appear more fierce. And yet, methought, the former struck a greater trouble, a fear and distress of the mind; and sometimes all the face looked meek and mild, but the eye was ever the same.

[Qu. S. T. C. and De Quincey?]

Shadow—its being subsists in shaped and definite nonentity.

Plain sense, measure, clearness, dignity, grace over all—these made the genius of Greece.

Heu! quam miserum ab illo lædi, de quo non possis queri! Eheu! quam miserrimum est ab illo lædi, de quo propter amorem non possis queri!

Observation from Bacon after reading Mr. Sheridan's speech on Ireland: "Things will have their first or second agitation; if they be not tossed on the arguments of council, they will be tossed on the waves of fortune."

The death of an immortal has been beautifully compared to an Indian fig, which at its full height declines its branches to the earth, and there takes root again.

The blast rises and falls, and trembles at its height.[178]

A passionate woman may be likened to a wet candle spitting flame.


It is a duty, nay, it is a religion to that power to shew that, though it makes all things—wealth, pleasure, ambition—worthless, yea, noisome for themselves; yet for itself can it produce all efforts, even if only to secure its name from scoffs as the child and parent of slothfulness. Works, therefore, of general profit—works of abstruse thought [will be born of love]; activity, and, above all, virtue and chastity [will come forth from his presence].

The moulting peacock, with only two of his long tail-feathers remaining, and those sadly in tatters, yet, proudly as ever, spreads out his ruined fan in the sun and breeze.

Yesterday I saw seven or eight water-wagtails following a feeding horse in the pasture, fluttering about and hopping close by his hoofs, under his belly, and even so as often to tickle his nostrils with their pert tails. The horse shortens the grass and they get the insects.

Sic accipite, sic credite, ut mereamini intelligere: fides enim debet[179] præcedere intellectum, ut sit intellectus fidei præmium.

S. August. Sermones De Verb. Dom.

Yet should a friend think foully of that wherein the pride of thy spirit's purity is in shrine.

O the agony! the agony!
Nor Time nor varying Fate,
Nor tender Memory, old or late,
Nor all his Virtues, great though they be,
Nor all his Genius can free
His friend's soul from the agony!

[So receive, so believe [divine ideas] that ye may earn the right to understand them. For faith should go before understanding, in order that understanding may be the reward of faith.]

Ὁτε ενθουσιασμος επινευσιν τινα θειαν ἑχειν δοκει και τω μαντικω γενει πλησιαζειν. Strabo Geographicus.

Though Genius, like the fire on the altar, can only be kindled from heaven, yet it will perish unless supplied with appropriate fuel to feed it; or if it meet not with the virtues whose society alone can reconcile it to earth, it will return whence it came, or, at least, lie hid as beneath embers, till some sudden and awakening gust of regenerating Grace, αναζωπυρει, rekindles and reveals it anew.

[Now the inspiration of genius seems to bear the stamp of Divine assent,[180] and to attain to something of prophetic strain.]


I trust you are very happy in your domestic being—very; because, alas! I know that to a man of sensibility and more emphatically if he be a literary man, there is no medium between that and "the secret pang that eats away the heart." ... Hence, even in dreams of sleep, the soul never is, because it either cannot or dare not be any one thing, but lives in approaches touched by the outgoing pre-existent ghosts of many feelings. It feels for ever as a blind man with his protruded staff dimly through the medium of the instrument by which it pushes off, and in the act of repulsion—(O for the eloquence of Shakspere, who alone could feel and yet know how to embody those conceptions with as curious a felicity as the thoughts are subtle!)—as if the finger which I saw with eyes, had, as it were, another finger, invisible, touching me with a ghostly touch, even while I feared the real touch from it. What if, in certain cases, touch acted by itself, co-present with vision, yet not coalescing? Then I should see the finger as at a distance, and yet feel a finger touching which was nothing but it, and yet was not it. The two senses cannot co-exist without a sense of causation. The touch must be the effect of that[181] finger [which] I see, and yet it is not yet near to me, and therefore it is not it, and yet it is it. Why it is is in an imaginary pre-duplication!

N.B.—There is a passage in the second part of Wallenstein expressing, not explaining, the same feeling. "The spirits of great events stride on before the events"—it is in one of the last two or three scenes:—

"As the sun,
Ere it is risen, sometimes paints its image
In the atmosphere, so often do the spirits
Of great events, stride on before the events."

[Wallenstein, Part II., act v. sc. 1. P. W., 1893, p. 351.]


It is worth noting and endeavouring to detect the Law of the Mind, by which, in writing earnestly while we are thinking, we omit words necessary to the sense. It will be found, I guess, that we seldom omit the material word, but generally the word by which the mind expresses its modification of the verbum materiale. Thus, in the preceding page, 7th line, medium is the materiale: that was its own brute, inert sense—but the no is the mind's action, its use of the word.

I think this a hint of some value. Thus, the is a word in constant combination with the passive or material words; but to is an act of the mind, and I had written the detect instead of to detect. Again, when my sense demanded[182] "the" to express a distinct modification of some verbum materiale, I remember to have often omitted it in writing. The principle is evident—the mind borrows the materia from without, and is passive with regard to it as the mere subject "stoff"—a simple event of memory takes place; but having the other in itself, the inward Having with its sense of security passes for the outward Having—or is all memory an anxious act, and thereby suspended by vivid security? or are both reasons the same? or if not, are they consistent, and capable of being co-or sub-ordinated? It will be lucky if some day, after having written on for two or three sheets rapidly and as a first copy, without correcting, I should by chance glance on this note, not having thought at all about it during or before the time of writing; and then to examine every word omitted.


To spend half-an-hour in Cuthill's shop, examining Stephen's Thesaurus, in order to form an accurate idea of its utilities above Scapula, and to examine the Budæo-Tusan-Constantine, whether it be the same or as good as Constantine, and the comparative merits of Constantine with Scapula.

3. To examine Bosc relatively to Brunck, and to see after the new German Anthologia.

4. Before I quit town, to buy Appendix (either No. 1430 or 1431), 8s. or 18s. What a difference![183] ten shillings, because the latter, the Parma Anacreon, is on large paper, green morocco; the former is neat in red morocco, but the type the same.

5. To have a long morning's ramble with De Quincey, first to Egerton's, and then to the book haunts.

6. To see if I can find that Arrian with Epictetus which I admired so much at Mr. Leckie's.

7. To find out D'Orville's Daphnis, and the price. Is there no other edition? no cheap German?

8. To write out the passage from Strada's Prolusions at Cuthill's.

9. Aristotle's Works, and to hunt for Proclus.

10. In case of my speedy death, it would answer to buy a £100 worth of carefully-chosen books, in order to attract attention to my library and to give accession to the value of books by their co-existing with co-appurtenants—as, for instance, Plato, Aristotle; Plotinus, Porphyry, Proclus: Schoolmen, Interscholastic; Bacon, Hobbes; Locke, Berkeley; Leibnitz, Spinoza; Kant and the critical Fichte, and Wissenschaftslehre, Schelling, &c.

[The first edition of Robert Constantin's Lexicon Græco-Lat. was published at Geneva in 1564. A second ed. post correctiones G. Budæi et J. Tusani, at Basle, in 1584.]

παντα ῥει

Our mortal existence, what is it but a stoppage in the blood of life, a[184] brief eddy from wind or concourse of currents in the ever-flowing ocean of pure Activity, who beholds pyramids, yea, Alps and Andes, giant pyramids, the work of fire that raiseth monuments, like a generous victor o'er its own conquest, the tombstones of a world destroyed! Yet these, too, float adown the sea of Time, and melt away as mountains of floating ice.


Has every finite being (or only some) the temptation to become intensely and wholly conscious of its distinctness and, as a result, to be betrayed into the wretchedness of division? Grosser natures, wholly swallowed up in selfishness which does not rise to self-love, never even acquire that sense of distinctness, while, to others, love is the first step to re-union. It is a by-word that religious enthusiasm borders on and tends to sensuality—possibly because all our powers work together, and as a consequence of striding too vastly up the ladder of existence, a great round of the ladder is omitted, namely, love to some, Eine verschiedene, of our own kind. Then let Religion love, else will it not only partake of, instead of being partaken by, and so co-adunated with, the summit of love, but will necessarily include the nadir of love, that[185] is, appetite. Hence will it tend to dissensualise its nature into fantastic passions, the idolatry of Paphian priestesses.


Time, space, duration, action, active passion passive, activeness, passiveness, reaction, causation, affinity—here assemble all the mysteries known. All is known-unknown, say, rather, merely known. All is unintelligible, and yet Locke and the stupid adorers of that fetish earth-clod take all for granted. By the bye, in poetry as well as metaphysics, that which we first meet with in the dawn of our mind becomes ever after fetish, to the many at least. Blessed he who first sees the morning star, if not the sun, or purpling clouds his harbingers. Thence is fame desirable to a great man, and thence subversion of vulgar fetishes becomes a duty.

Rest, motion! O ye strange locks of intricate simplicity, who shall find the key? He shall throw wide open the portals of the palace of sensuous or symbolical truth, and the Holy of Holies will be found in the adyta. Rest = enjoyment and death. Motion = enjoyment and life. O the depth of the proverb, "Extremes meet"!


The "break of the morning"—and from inaction a nation starts up into motion and wide fellow-consciousness! The trumpet of the Archangel—and a world with all its troops[186] and companies of generations starts up into a hundredfold expansion, power multiplied into itself cubically by the number of all its possible acts—all the potential springing into power. Conceive a bliss from self-conscience, combining with bliss from increase of action; the first dreaming, the latter dead-asleep in a grain of gunpowder—conceive a huge magazine of gunpowder and a flash of lightning awakes the whole at once. What an image of the resurrection, grand from its very inadequacy. Yet again, conceive the living, moving ocean—its bed sinks away from under and the whole world of waters falls in at once on a thousand times vaster mass of intensest fire, and the whole prior orbit of the planet's successive revolutions is possessed by it at once (Potentia fit actus) amid the thunder of rapture.


Form is factitious being, and thinking is the process; imagination the laboratory in which the thought elaborates essence into existence. A philosopher, that is, a nominal philosopher without imagination, is a coiner. Vanity, the froth of the molten mass, is his stuff, and verbiage the stamp and impression. This is but a deaf metaphor—better say that he is guilty of forgery. He presents the same sort of paper as the honest barterer, but when you carry it to the bank it is found to be drawn to Outis,[187] Esq. His words had deposited no forms there, payable at sight—or even at any imaginable time from the date of the draft.


The sky, or rather say, the æther at Malta, with the sun apparently suspended in it, the eye seeming to pierce beyond and, as it were, behind it—and, below, the æthereal sea, so blue, so ein zerflossenes, the substantial image, and fixed real reflection of the sky! O! I could annihilate in a deep moment all possibility of the needle-point, pin's-head system of the atomists by one submissive gaze!


A dewdrop, the pearl of Aurora, is indeed a true unio. I would that unio were the word for the dewdrop, and the pearl be called unio marinus.


O for the power to persuade all the writers of Great Britain to adopt the ver, zer, and al of the German! Why not verboil, zerboil; verrend, zerrend? I should like the very words verflossen, zerflossen, to be naturalised:

And as I looked now feels my soul creative throes,
And now all joy, all sense zerflows.

I do not know, whether I am in earnest or in sport while I recommend this ver and zer; that is, I cannot be sure whether I feel, myself, any[188]thing ridiculous in the idea, or whether the feeling that seems to imply this be not the effect of my anticipation of and sympathy with the ridicule of, perhaps, all my readers.


To you there are many like me, yet to me there is none like you, and you are always like yourself. There are groves of night-flowers, yet the night-flower sees only the moon.




Yea, oft alone,
Piercing the long-neglected holy cave
The haunt obscure of old Philosophy,
He bade with lifted torch its starry walls
Sparkle, as erst they sparkled to the flame
Of odorous lamps tended by Saint and Sage.

S. T. C.


If one thought leads to another, so often does it blot out another. This I find when having lain musing on my sofa, a number of interesting thoughts having suggested themselves, I conquer my bodily indolence, and rise to record them in these books, alas! my only confidants. The first thought leads me on indeed to new ones; but nothing but the faint memory of having had these remains of the other, which had been even more interesting to me. I do not know whether this be an idiosyncrasy, a peculiar disease, of my particular memory—but so it is with me—my thoughts crowd each other to death.


Quære—whether we may not, nay ought not, to use a neutral pronoun[190] relative, or representative, to the word "Person," where it hath been used in the sense of homo, mensch, or noun of the common gender, in order to avoid particularising man or woman, or in order to express either sex indifferently? If this be incorrect in syntax, the whole use of the word Person is lost in a number of instances, or only retained by some stiff and strange position of words, as—"not letting the person be aware, wherein offence has been given"—instead of—"wherein he or she has offended." In my [judgment] both the specific intention and general etymon of "Person" in such sentences, fully authorise the use of it and which instead of he, she, him, her, who, whom.


If love be the genial sun of human nature, unkindly has he divided his rays [in acting] on me and my beloved! On her hath he poured all his light and splendour, and my being doth he permeate with his invisible rays of heat alone. She shines and is cold like the tropic fire-fly—I, dark and uncomely, would better resemble the cricket in hot ashes. My soul, at least, might be considered as a cricket eradiating the heat which gradually cinerising the heart produces the embers and ashes from among which it chirps out of its hiding-place.

N.B.—This put in simple and elegant verse, [would pass] as an imitation[191] of Marini, and of too large a part of the madrigals of Guarini himself.


Truth per se is like unto quicksilver, bright, agile, harmless. Swallow a pound and it will run through unaltered and only, perhaps, by its weight force down impurities from out the system. But mix and comminute it by the mineral acid of spite and bigotry, and even truth becomes a deadly poison—medicinal only when some other, yet deadlier, lurks in the bones.


O! many, many are the seeings, hearings, of pure love that have a being of their own, and to call them by the names of things unsouled and debased below even their own lowest nature by associations accidental, and of vicious accidents, is blasphemy. What seest thou yonder? The lovely countenance of a lovely maiden, fervid yet awe-suffering with devotion—her face resigned to bliss or bale; or a bit of flesh; or, rather, that which cannot be seen unless by him whose very seeing is more than an act of mere sight—that which refuses all words, because words being, perforce, generalities do not awake, but really involve associations of other words as well as other thoughts—but that[192] which I see, must be felt, be possessed, in and by its sole self! What! shall the statuary Pygmalion of necessity feel this for every part of the insensate marble, and shall the lover Pygmalion in contemplating the living statue, the heart-adored maiden, breathing forth in every look, every movement, the genial life imbreathed of God, grovel in the mire and grunt the language of the swinish slaves of the Circe, of vulgar generality and still more vulgar association? The Polyclete that created the Aphrodite καλλιπυγος, thought in acts, not words—energy divinely languageless— δια τον Λογον, ου συν επεσι, through the Word, not with words. And what though it met with Imp-fathers and Imp-mothers and Fiendsips at its christening in ts parents' absence!


One of the causes of superstition, and also of enthusiasm, and, indeed, of all errors in matters of fact, is the great power with which the effect acts upon and modifies the remembrance of its cause, at times even transforming it in the mind. Let A have said a few words to B, which (by some change and accommodation of them to the event in the mind of B) have been remarkably fulfilled; and let B remind A of these words which he (A) had spoken, A will instantly forget all his mood, motive, and meaning, at the time of speaking them, nay,[193] remember words he had never spoken, and throw back upon them, from the immediate event, an imagined fulfillment, a prophetic grandeur—himself, in his own faith, a seer of no small inspiration. We yet want the growth of a prophet and self-deceived wonder-worker step by step, through all the stages; and, yet, what ample materials exist for a true and nobly-minded psychologist! For, in order to make fit use of these materials, he must love and honour as well as understand human nature—rather, he must love in order to understand it.

THE CAPTIVE BIRD May 16th, 1808

O that sweet bird! where is it? It is encaged somewhere out of sight; but from my bedroom at the Courier office, from the windows of which I look out on the walls of the Lyceum, I hear it at early dawn, often, alas! lulling me to late sleep—again when I awake and all day long. It is in prison, all its instincts ungratified, yet it feels the influence of spring, and calls with unceasing melody to the Loves that dwell in field and greenwood bowers, unconscious, perhaps, that it calls in vain. O are they the songs of a happy, enduring day-dream? Has the bird hope? or does it abandon itself to the joy of its frame, a living harp of Eolus? O that I could do so!

Assuredly a thrush or blackbird encaged in London is a far less shocking[194] spectacle, its encagement a more venial defect of just feeling, than (which yet one so often sees) a bird in a gay cage in the heart of the country—yea, as if at once to mock both the poor prisoner and its kind mother, Nature—in a cage hung up in a tree, where the free birds after a while, when the gaudy dungeon is no longer a scare, crowd to it, perch on the wires, drink the water, and peck up the seeds. But of all birds I most detest to see the nightingale encaged, and the swallow, and the cuckoo. Motiveless! monstrous! But the robin! O woes' woe! woe!—he, sweet cock-my-head-and-eye, pert-bashful darling, that makes our kitchen its chosen cage.


If we take into consideration the effect of the climates of the North, Gothic, in contra-distinction to Greek and Græco-Roman architecture, is rightly so named. Take, for instance, a rainy, windy day, or sleet, or a fall of snow, or an icicle-hanging frost, and then compare the total effect of the South European roundnesses and smooth perpendicular surface with the ever-varying angles and meeting-lines of the North-European or Gothic styles.

[The above is probably a dropped sentence from the report of the First or Second Lecture[195] of the 1818 series. See Coleridge's Works (Harper and Brothers, 1853), iv. 232-239.]


The demagogues address the lower orders as if they were negroes—as if each individual were an inseparable part of the order, always to remain, nolens volens, poor and ignorant. How different from Christianity, which for ever calls on us to detach ourselves spiritually not merely from our rank, but even from our body, and from the whole world of sense!


The one mighty main defect of female education is that everything is taught but reason and the means of retaining affection. This—this—O! it is worth all the rest told ten thousand times:—how to greet a husband, how to receive him, how never to recriminate—in short, the power of pleasurable thoughts and feelings, and the mischief of giving pain, or (as often happens when a husband comes home from a party of old friends, joyous and full of heart) the love-killing effect of cold, dry, uninterested looks and manners.

THE HALFWAY HOUSE Wednesday night, May 18th, 1808

Let me record the following important remark of Stuart, with whom I never converse but to receive some distinct and rememberable improvement (and if it be not remembered, it is the defect of my memory[196]—which, alas! grows weaker daily—or a fault from my indolence in not noting it down, as I do this)—that there is a period in a man's life, varying in various men, from thirty-five to forty-five, and operating most strongly in bachelors, widowers, or those worst and miserablest widowers, unhappy husbands, in which a man finds himself at the top of the hill, and having attained, perhaps, what he wishes, begins to ask himself, What is all this for?—begins to feel the vanity of his pursuits, becomes half-melancholy, gives in to wild dissipation or self-regardless drinking; and some, not content with these (not slow) poisons, destroy themselves, and leave their ingenious female or female-minded friends to fish out some motive for an act which proceeded from a motive-making impulse, which would have acted even without a motive (even as the terror[E] in nightmare is a bodily sensation, and though it most often calls up consonant images, yet, as I know by experience, can take [197]effect equally without any); or, if not so, yet like gunpowder in a smithy, though it will not go off without a spark, is sure to receive one, if not this hour, yet the next. I had felt this truth, but never saw it before clearly: it came upon me at Malta under the melancholy, dreadful feeling of finding myself to be man, by a distinct division from boyhood, youth, and "young man." Dreadful was the feeling—till then life had flown so that I had always been a boy, as it were; and this sensation had blended in all my conduct, my willing acknowledgment of superiority, and, in truth, my meeting every person as a superior at the first moment. Yet if men survive this period, they commonly become cheerful again. That is a comfort for mankind, not for me!


My inner mind does not justify the thought that I possess a genius, my strength is so very small in proportion to my power. I believe that I first, from internal feeling, made or gave light and impulse to this important distinction between strength and power, the oak and the tropic annual, or biennial, which grows nearly as high and spreads as large as the oak, but in which the wood, the heart is wanting—the vital works vehemently, but the immortal is not with it. And yet, I think, I must have some analogue of genius; because, among other things, when I[198] am in company with Mr. Sharp, Sir J. Mackintosh, R. and Sydney Smith, Mr. Scarlett, &c. &c., I feel like a child, nay, rather like an inhabitant of another planet. Their very faces all act upon me, sometimes, as if they were ghosts, but more often as if I were a ghost among them—at all times as if we were not consubstantial.


"The class that ought to be kept separate from all others"—and this said by one of themselves! O what a confession that it is no longer separated! Who would have said this even fifty years ago? It is the howling of ice during a thaw. When there is any just reason for saying this, it ought not to be said, it is already too late. And though it may receive the assent of the people of "the squares and places," yet what does that do, if it be the ridicule of all other classes?


The general experience, or rather supposed experience, prevails over the particular knowledge. So many causes oppose man to man, that he begins by thinking of other men worse than they deserve, and receives his punishment by at last thinking worse of himself than the truth is.


Expressions of honest self-esteem, in which self was only a diagram of the genus, will excite sympathy at the minute, and yet, even[199] among persons who love and esteem you, be remembered and quoted as ludicrous instances of strange self-involution.


Those who think lowliest of themselves, perhaps with a feeling stronger than rational comparison would justify, are apt to feel and express undue asperity for the faults and defects of those whom they habitually have looked up to as to their superiors. For placing themselves very low, perhaps too low, wherever a series of experiences, struggled against for a while, have at length convinced the mind that in such and such a moral habit the long-idolised superior is far below even itself, the grief and anger will be in proportion. "If even I could never have done this, O anguish, that he, so much my superior, should do it! If even I with all my infirmities have not this defect, this selfishness, that he should have it!" This is the course of thought. Men are bad enough; and yet they often think themselves worse than they are, among other causes by a reaction from their own uncharitable thoughts. The poisoned chalice is brought back to our own lips.


He was grown, and solid from his infancy, like that most useful of domesticated animals, that never runs but with some prudent motive to the mast or the wash-tub and, at no[200] time a slave to the present moment, never even grunts over the acorns before him without a scheming squint and the segment, at least, of its wise little eye cast toward those on one side, which his neighbour is or may be about to enjoy.


Quære, whether the high and mighty Edinburghers, &c., have not been elevated into guardians and overseers of taste and poetry for much the same reason as St. Cecilia was chosen as the guardian goddess of music, because, forsooth, so far from being able to compose or play herself, she could never endure any other instrument than the jew's-harp or Scotch bag-pipe? No! too eager recensent! you are mistaken, there is no anachronism in this. We are informed by various antique bas-reliefs that the bag-pipe was well known to the Romans, and probably, therefore, that the Picts and Scots were even then fond of seeking their fortune in other countries.


"Love is the spirit of life and music the life of the spirit."

Q. What is music? A. Poetry in its grand sense! Passion and order at once! Imperative power in obedience!

Q. What is the first and divinest strain of music? A.—In the intellect—"Be able to will[201] that thy maxims (rules of individual conduct) should be the law of all intelligent being!"

In the heart, or practical reason, "Do unto others as thou wouldst be done by." This in the widest extent involves the test, "Love thy neighbour as thyself, and God above all things." For, conceive thy being to be all-including, that is, God—thou knowest that thou wouldest command thyself to be beloved above all things.

[For the motto at the head of this note see the lines "Ad Vilmum Axiologum." P. W., 1893, p. 138.]


From what reasons do I believe in continuous and ever-continuable consciousness? From conscience! Not for myself, but for my conscience, that is, my affections and duties towards others, I should have no self—for self is definition, but all boundary implies neighbourhood and is knowable only by neighbourhood or relations. Does the understanding say nothing in favour of immortality? It says nothing for or against; but its silence gives consent, and is better than a thousand arguments such as mere understanding could afford. But miracles! "Do you speak of them as proofs or as natural consequences of revelation, whose presence is proof only by precluding the disproof that would arise from their absence?" "Nay, I speak of them as of positive funda[202]mental proofs." Then I dare answer you "Miracles in that sense are blasphemies in morality, contradictions in reason. God the Truth, the actuality of logic, the very logos—He deceive his creatures and demonstrate the properties of a triangle by the confusion of all properties! If a miracle merely means an event before inexperienced, it proves only itself, and the inexperience of mankind. Whatever other definition be given of it, or rather attempted (for no other not involving direct contradiction can be given), it is blasphemy. It calls darkness light, and makes Ignorance the mother of Malignity, the appointed nurse of religion—which is knowledge as opposed to mere calculating and conjectural understanding. Seven years ago, but oh! in what happier times—I wrote thus—

O ye hopes! that stir within me!
Health comes with you from above!
God is with me! God is in me!
I cannot die: for life is love!

And now, that I am alone and utterly hopeless for myself, yet still I love—and more strongly than ever feel that conscience or the duty of love is the proof of continuing, as it is the cause and condition of existing consciousness. How beautiful the harmony! Whence could the proof come, so appropriately, so conformly with all nature, in which the cause and condition of[203] each thing is its revealing and infallible prophecy!

And for what reason, say, rather, for what cause, do you believe immortality? Because I ought, therefore I must!

[The lines "On revisiting the sea-shore," of which the last stanza is quoted, were written in August, 1801. [P.W., 1893, p. 159.] If the note was written exactly seven years after the date of that poem, it must belong to the summer of 1808, when Coleridge was living over the Courier office in the Strand.]


Truly, I hope not irreverently, may we apply to the French nation the Scripture text, "From him that hath nothing shall be taken that which he hath"—that is, their pretences to being free, which are the same as nothing. They, the illuminators, the discoverers and sole possessors of the true philosopher's stone! Alas! it proved both for them and Europe the Lapis Infernalis.


Lord of light and fire? What is the universal of man in all, but especially in savage states? Fantastic ornament and, in general, the most frightful deformities—slits in the ears and nose, for instance. What is the solution? Man will not be a mere thing of[204] nature: he will be and shew himself a power of himself. Hence these violent disruptions of himself from all other creatures! What they are made, that they remain—they are Nature's, and wholly Nature's.


Try to contemplate mankind as children. These we love tenderly, because they are beautiful and happy; we know that a sweet-meat or a top will transfer their little love for a moment, and that we shall be repelled with a grimace. Yet we are not offended.


I am persuaded that the chymical technology, as far as it was borrowed from life and intelligence, half-metaphorically, half-mystically, may be brought back again (as when a man borrows of another a sum which the latter had previously borrowed of him, because he is too polite to remind him of a debt) to the use of psychology in many instances, and, above all, [may be re-adapted to] the philosophy of language, which ought to be experimentative and analytic of the elements of meaning—their double, triple, and quadruple combinations, of simple aggregation or of composition by balance of opposition.

Thus innocence is distinguished from virtue, and vice vers‚. In both of them there is a positive, but in each opposite. A decomposi[205]tion must take place in the first instance, and then a new composition, in order for innocence to become virtue. It loses a positive, and then the base attracts another different positive, by the higher affinity of the same base under a different temperature for the latter.

I stated the legal use of the innocent as opposed to mere not guilty (he was not only acquitted, but was proved innocent), only to shew the existence of a positive in the former—by no means as confounding this use of the word with the moral pleasurable feeling connected with it when used of little children, maidens, and those who in mature age preserve this sweet fragrance of vernal life, this mother's gift and so-seldom-kept keepsake to her child, as she sends him forth into the world. The distinction is obvious. Law agnizes actions alone, and character only as presumptive or illustrative of particular action as to its guilt or non-guilt, or to the commission or non-commission. But our moral feelings are never pleasurably excited except as they refer to a state of being—and the most glorious actions do not delight us as separate acts, or, rather, facts, but as representatives of the being of the agent—mental stenographs which bring an indeterminate extension within the field of easy and simultaneous vision, diffused being rendered visible by condensation. Only for the hero's[206] sake do we exult in the heroic act, or, rather, the act abstracted from the hero would no longer appear to us heroic. Not, therefore, solely from the advantage of poets and historians do the deeds of ancient Greece and Rome strike us into admiration, while we relate the very same deeds of barbarians as matters of curiosity, but because in the former we refer the deed to the individual exaltation of the agent, in the latter only to the physical result of a given state of society. Compare the [heroism of that] Swiss patriot, with his bundle of spears turned towards his breast, in order to break the Austrian pikemen, and that of the Mameluke, related to me by Sir Alexander Ball, who, when his horse refused to plunge in on the French line, turned round and backed it on them, with a certainty of death, in order to effect the same purpose. In the former, the state of mind arose from reason, morals, liberty, the sense of the duty owing to the independence of his country, and its continuing in a state compatible with the highest perfection and development; while the latter was predicative only of mere animal habit, ferocity, and unreasoned antipathy to strangers of a different dress and religion.


If, contrary to my expectations—alas! almost, I fear, to my wishes—I should live, it is my intention to make a catalogue of the Greek[207] and Latin Classics, and of those who, like the author of the Argenis [William Barclay, 1546-1605], and Euphormio, Fracastorius, Flaminius, etc., deserve that name though moderns—and every year to apply all my book-money to the gradual completion of the collection, and buy no other books except German, if the continent should be opened again, except Massinger, Beaumont and Fletcher, and Jonson. The two last I have, I believe, but imperfect—indeed, B. and F. worthless, the best plays omitted. It would be a pleasing employment, had I health, to translate the Hymns of Homer, with a disquisitional attempt to settle the question concerning the personality of Homer. Such a thing in two volumes, well done, by philosophical notes on the mythology of the Greeks, distinguishing the sacerdotal from the poetical, and both from the philosophical or allegorical, fairly grown into two octavos, might go a good way, if not all the way, to the Bipontine Latin and Greek Classics.


I almost fear that the alteration would excite surprise and uneasy contempt in Verbidigno's mind (towards one less loved, at least); but had I written the sweet tale of the "Blind Highland Boy," I would have substituted for the washing-tub, and the awkward stanza in which it is specified, the images sug[208]gested in the following lines from Dampier's Travels, vol. i. pp. 105-6:—"I heard of a monstrous green turtle once taken at the Port Royal, in the Bay of Campeachy, that was four feet deep from the back to the belly, and the belly six feet broad. Captain Rock's son, of about nine or ten years of age, went in it as in a boat, on board his father's ship, about a quarter of a mile from the shore." And a few lines before—"The green turtle are so called because their shell is greener than any other. It is very thin and clear, and better clouded than the Hawksbill, but 'tis used only for inlays, being extraordinary thin." Why might not some mariners have left this shell on the shore of Loch Leven for a while, about to have transported it inland for a curiosity, and the blind boy have found it? Would not the incident be in equal keeping with that of the child, as well as the image and tone of romantic uncommonness?

["In deference to the opinion of a friend," this substitution took place. A promise made to Sara Coleridge to re-instate the washing-tub was, alas! never fulfilled. See Poetical Works of W. Wordsworth, 1859, pp. 197, and 200 footnote.]


Tremendous as a Mexican god is a strong sense of duty—separate from an enlarged and discriminating mind, and gigantic[209] ally disproportionate to the size of the understanding; and, if combined with obstinacy of self-opinion and indocility, it is the parent of tyranny, a promoter of inquisitorial persecution in public life, and of inconceivable misery in private families. Nay, the very virtue of the person, and the consciousness that it is sacrificing its own happiness, increases the obduracy, and selects those whom it best loves for its objects. Eoque immitior quia ipse tolerat (not toleraverat) is its inspiration and watchword.


A nation of reformers looks like a scourer of silver-plate—black all over and dingy, with making things white and brilliant.

A joint combination of authors leagued together to declaim for or against liberty may be compared to Buffon's collection of smooth mirrors in a vast fan arranged to form one focus. May there not be gunpowder as well as corn set before it, and the latter will not thrive, but become cinders?

A good conscience and hope combined are like fine weather that reconciles travel with delight.

Great exploits and the thirst of honour which they inspire, enlarge states by enlarging hearts.

The rejection of the love of glory without the admission of Christianity[210] is, truly, human darkness lacking human light.

Heaven preserve me from the modern epidemic of a proud ignorance!

Hypocrisy, the deadly crime which, like Judas, kisses Hell at the lips of Redemption.

Is't then a mystery so great, what God and the man, and the world is? No, but we hate to hear! Hence a mystery it remains.

The massy misery so prettily hidden with the gold and silver leaf—bracteata felicitas.


If I have leisure, I may, perhaps, write a wild rhyme on the Bell, from the mine to the belfry, and take for my motto and Chapter of Contents, the two distichs, but especially the latter—

Laudo Deum verum, plebem voco, congrego clerum:
Defunctos ploro, pestem fugo, festa decoro.
Funera plango, fulgura frango, sabbata pango:
Excito lentos, dissipo ventos, paco cruentos.

The waggon-horse cels‚ cervice eminens clarumque jactans tintinnabulum[211]. Item, the cattle on the river, and valley of dark pines and firs in the Hartz.

The army of Clotharius besieging Sens were frightened away by the bells of St. Stephen's, rung by the contrivance of Lupus, Bishop of Orleans.

For ringing the largest bell, as a Passing-bell, a high price was wont to be paid, because being heard afar it both kept the evil spirits at a greater distance, and gave the chance of the greater number of prayers pro mortuo, from the pious who heard it.

Names of saints were given to bells that it might appear the voice of the Saint himself calling to prayer. Man will humanise all things.

[It is strange that Coleridge should make no mention of Schiller's "Song of the Bell," of which he must, at any rate, have heard the title. Possibly the idea remained though its source was forgotten. The Latin distichs were introduced by Longfellow in his "Golden Legend."

Of the cow-bells in the Hartz he gives the following account in an unpublished letter to his wife. April-May, 1799. "But low down in the[212] valley and in little companies on each bank of the river a multitude of green conical fir-trees, with herds of cattle wandering about almost every one with a cylindrical bell around its neck, of no inconsiderable size. And as they moved, scattered over the narrow vale, and up among the trees of the hill, the noise was like that of a great city in the stillness of the Sabbath morning, where all the steeples, all at once are ringing for Church. The whole was a melancholy scene and quite new to me."]



[O heaven, 'twas frightful! now run down and stared at
By shapes more ugly than can be remembered—
Now seeing nothing and imagining nothing,
But only being afraid—stifled with Fear!
And every goodly, each familiar form
Had a strange somewhat that breathed terrors on me!

(From my MS. tragedy [S. T. C.]) Remorse, iv. 69-74—but the passage is omitted from Osorio, act iv. 53 sq. P. W., pp. 386-499].




O dare I accuse
My earthly lot as guilty of my spleen,
Or call my destiny niggard! O no! no!
It is her largeness, and her overflow,
Which being incomplete, disquieteth me so!

S. T. C.


My own faculties, cloudy as they may be, will be a sufficient direction to me in plain daylight, but my friend's wish shall be the pillar of fire to guide me darkling in my nightly march through the wilderness.


Thought and attention are very different things. I never expected the former, (viz., selbst-thštige Erzeugung dessen, wovon meine Rede war) from the readers of The Friend. I did expect the latter, and was disappointed. Jan. 3, 1810.

This is a most important distinction, and in the new light afforded by it to my mind, I see more plainly why mathematics cannot be a substitute[214] for logic, much less for metaphysics, that is, transcendental logic, and why, therefore, Cambridge has produced so few men of genius and original power since the time of Newton. Not only it does not call forth the balancing and discriminating power [that I saw long ago] but it requires only attention, not thought or self-production.


"The man who squares his conscience by the law" was, formerly, a phrase for a prudent villain, an unprincipled coward. At present the law takes in everything—the things most incongruous with its nature, as the moral motive, and even the feelings of sensibility resulting from accidents of cultivation, novel-reading for instance. If, therefore, at all times, the law would be found to have a much greater influence on the actions of men than men generally suppose, or the agents were themselves conscious of, this influence we must expect to find augmented at the present time in proportion to the encroachments of the law on religion, the moral sense, and the sympathies engendered by artificial rank. Examine this and begin, for instance, with reviews, and so on through the common legal immoralities of life, in the pursuits and pleasures of the higher half of the middle classes of society in Great Britain.


"Hence (i.e., from servile and thrall-like fear) men came to scan the[215] Scriptures by the letter and in the covenant of our redemption magnified the external signs more than the quickening power of the Spirit."—Milton's Review of Church Government, vol. i. p. 2.

It were not an unpleasing fancy, nor one wholly unworthy of a serious and charitable Christianity, to derive a shadow of hope for the conversion and purification of the Roman Apostasy from the conduct and character of St. Peter as shadowing out the history of the Latin Church, whose ruling pastor calls himself the successor of that saint. Thus, by proud humility, he hazarded the loss of his heavenly portion in objecting to Christ's taking upon himself a lowly office and character of a servant (hence the pomps and vanities with which Rome has tricked out her bishops, &c.), the eager drawing of the fleshly sword in defence of Christ; the denying of Christ at the cross (in the apostasy); but, finally, his bitter repentance at the third crowing of the cock (perhaps Wickliffe and Huss the first, Luther the second, and the third yet to come-or, perhaps Wickliffe and Luther the first, the second may be the present state of humiliation, and the third yet to come). After this her eyes will be opened to the heavenly vision of the universal acceptance of Christ of[216] all good men of all sects, that is, that faith is a moral, not an intellectual act.


On some delightful day in early spring some of my countrymen hallow the anniversary of their marriage, and with love and fear go over the reckoning of the past and the unknown future. The wife tells with half-renewed modesty all the sweet feelings that she disguised and cherished in the courting-time; the man looks with a tear full in his eye and blesses the hour when for the first time (and oh! let it be the last) he spake deep and solemn to a beloved being—"Thou art mine and I am thine, and henceforward I shield and shelter [thee] against the world, and thy sorrows shall be my sorrows, and though abandoned by all men, we two will abide together in love and duty."

In the holy eloquent solitude where the very stars that twinkle seem to be a voice that suits the dream, a voice of a dream, a voice soundless and yet for the ear not the eye of the soul, when the winged soul passes over vale and mountain, sinks into glens, and then climbs with the cloud, and passes from cloud to cloud, and thence from sun to sun—never is she alone. Always one, the dearest, accompanies and even when he melts, diffused in the blue sky, she melts at the same moment into union with the beloved.


That our religious faiths, by the instincts which lead us to[217] metaphysical investigation, are founded in a practical necessity, not a mere intellectual craving after knowledge, and systematic conjecture, is evinced by the interest which all men take in the questions of future existence, and the being of God; while even among those who are speculative by profession a few phantasts only have troubled themselves with the questions of pre-existence, or with attempts to demonstrate the posse and esse of a devil. But in the latter case more is involved. Concerning pre-existence men in general have neither care nor belief; but a devil is taken for granted, and, if we might trust words, with the same faith as a Deity—"He neither believes God or devil." And yet, while we are delighted in hearing proofs of the one, we never think of asking a simple question concerning the other. This, too, originates in a practical source. The Deity is not a mere solution of difficulties concerning origination, but a truth which spreads light and joy and hope and certitude through all things—while a devil is a mere solution of an enigma, an assumption to silence our uneasiness. That end answered (and most easily are such ends answered), we have no further concern with it.


The great change—that in youth and early manhood we psychologise and[218] with enthusiasm but all out of ourselves, and so far ourselves only as we descry therein some general law. Our own self is but the diagram, the triangle which represents all triangles. Afterward we pyschologise out of others, and so far as they differ from ourselves. O how hollowly!


We have been for many years at a great distance from each other, but that may happen with no real breach of friendship. All intervening nature is the continuum of two good and wise men. We are now separated. You have combined arsenic with your gold, Sir Humphry! You are brittle, and I will rather dine with Duke Humphry than with you.


Sara Coleridge says, on telling me of the universal sneeze produced on the lasses while shaking my carpet, that she wishes my snuff would grow, as I sow it so plentifully!

[This points to the summer of 1810, the five months spent at Greta Hall previous to the departure south with Basil Montagu.]


A thing cannot be one and three at the same time! True! but time does not apply to God. He is neither one in time nor three in time, for he exists not in time at all—the Eternal!

The truly religious man, when he is not conveying his feelings and[219] beliefs to other men, and does not need the medium of words—O! how little does he find in his religious sense either of form or of number—it is infinite! Alas! why do we all seek by instinct for a God, a supersensual, but because we feel the insufficiency, the unsubstantiality of all forms, and formal being for itself. And shall we explain a by x and then x by a—give a soul to the body, and then a body to the soul—ergo, a body to the body—feel the weakness of the weak, and call in the strengthener, and then make the very weakness the substratum of the strength? This is worse than the poor Indian! Even he does not make the tortoise support the elephant, and yet put the elephant under the tortoise!

But we are too social, we become in a sort idolaters—for the means we are obliged to use to excite notions of truth in the minds of others we by witchcraft of slothful association impose on ourselves for the truths themselves. Our intellectual bank stops payment, and we pass an act by acclamation that hereafter the paper promises shall be the gold and silver itself—and ridicule a man for a dreamer and reviver of antiquated dreams who believes that gold and silver exist. This may do as well in the market, but O! for the universal, for the man himself the difference is woeful.


The immense difference between being glad to find Truth it, and to[220] find it Truth! O! I am ashamed of those who praise me! For I know that as soon as I tell them my mind on another subject, they will shrink and abhor me. For not because I enforced a truth were they pleased in the first instance, but because I had supported a favourite notion of theirs which they loved for its and their sake, and therefore would be glad to find it true—not that loving Truth they loved this opinion as one of its forms and consequences. The root! the root must be attacked!


Among the evils that attend a conscientious author who writes in a corrupt age, is the necessity he is under of exposing himself even to plausible charges of envy, mortified vanity, and, above all, of self-conceit before those whose bad passions would make even the most improbable charges plausible.

What can he do? Tell the truth, and the whole truth plainly, and with the natural affection which it inspires, and keeping off (difficult task!) all scorn (for to suppress resentment is easy), let him trust the bread to the waters in the firm faith that wisdom shall be justified by her children. Vanity! self-conceit! What vanity, what self-conceit? What say I more than this? Ye who think and feel the same[221] will love and esteem me by the law of sympathy, and value me according to the comparative effect I have made on your intellectual powers, in enabling you better to defend before others, or more clearly to onlook (anschauen) in yourselves the truths to which your noblest being bears witness. The rest I leave to the judgment of posterity, utterly unconcerned whether my name be attached to these opinions or (my writings forgotten) another man's.

But what can I say, when I have declared my abhorrence of the Edinburgh Review? In vain should I tell my critics that were I placed on the rack I could not remember ten lines of my own poems, and that on seeing my own name in their abuse, I regard it only as a symbol of Wordsworth and Southey, and that I am well aware that from utter disregard and oblivion of anything and all things which they can know of me by experience, my name is mentioned only because they have heard that I was Wordsworth's and Southey's friend.


The brightest luminaries of earth give names to the dusky spots in the selenography of Helvetius.

The intrepidity of a pure conscience and a simple principle [may be] compared to a life-boat, and somewhat in the detail, stemming[222] with a little rudder the tumbling ruins of the sea, rebounding from the rocks and shelves in fury.

Duns Scotus affirms that the certainty of faith is the greatest certainty—a dark speech which is explained and proved by the dependence of the theoretic powers on the practical. But Aristotle admits that demonstrated truths are inferior in kind of certainty to the indemonstrable out of which the former are deduced.

Faithful, confident reliance on man and on God is the last and hardest virtue! And wherefore? Because we must first have earned a FAITH in ourselves. Let the conscience pronounce: "Trust in thyself!" Let the whole heart be able to say, "I trust in myself," and those whomever we love we shall rely on, in proportion to that love.

A testy patriot might be pardoned for saying with Falstaff, when Dame Quickly told him "She came from the two parties, forsooth," "The Devil take one party and his Dam the other." John Bull has suffered more for their sake, more than even the supererogatory cullibility of his disposition is able to bear.

Lavater fixed on the simplest physiognomy in his whole congregation, and[223] pitched his sermon to his comprehension. Narcissus either looks at or thinks of his looking glass, for the same wise purpose I presume.

Reviewers resemble often the English jury and the Italian conclave, they are incapable of eating till they have condemned or craned.

The Pope [may be compared to] an old lark, who, though he leaves off soaring and singing in the height, yet has his spurs grow longer and sharper the older he grows.

Let us not, because the foliage waves in necessary obedience to every breeze, fancy that the tree shakes also. Though the slender branch bend, one moment to the East and another to the West, its motion is circumscribed by its connection with the unyielding trunk.


My first cries mingled with my mother's death-groan, and she beheld the vision of glory, ere I the earthly sun. When I first looked up to Heaven consciously, it was to look up after, or for, my mother.


The two sweet silences—first in the purpling dawn of love-troth, when[224] the heart of each ripens in the other's looks within the unburst calyx, and fear becomes so sweet that it seems but a fear of losing hope in certainty; the second, when the sun is setting in the calm eve of confident love, and [the lovers] in mute recollection enjoy each other. "I fear to speak, I fear to hear you speak, so deeply do I now enjoy your presence, so totally possess you in myself, myself in you. The very sound would break the union and separate you-me into you and me. We both, and this sweet room, its books, its furniture, and the shadows on the wall slumbering with the low, quiet fire are all our thought, one harmonious imagery of forms distinct on the still substance of one deep feeling, love and joy—a lake, or, if a stream, yet flowing so softly, so unwrinkled, that its flow is life, not change—that state in which all the individuous nature, the distinction without division of a vivid thought, is united with the sense and substance of intensest reality."

And what if joy pass quick away? Long is the track of Hope before—long, too, the track of recollection after, as in the Polar spring the sun [is seen in the heavens] sixteen days before it really rises, and in the Polar autumn ten days after it has set; so Nature, with Hope and Recollection, pieces out our short summer.


N.B.—In my intended essay in defence of punning (Apology for[225] Paronomasy, alias Punning), to defend those turns of words—

Che l'onda chiara,
El'ombra non men cara—

in certain styles of writing, by proving that language itself is formed upon associations of this kind—that possibly the sensus genericus of whole classes of words may be thus deciphered (as has indeed been attempted by Mr. White, of Clare Hall), that words are not mere symbols of things and thoughts, but themselves things, and that any harmony in the things symbolised will perforce be presented to us more easily, as well as with additional beauty, by a correspondent harmony of the symbols with each other. Thus, heri vidi fragilem frangi, hodie mortalem mori; Gestern seh ich was gebrechliches brechen, heute was sterbliches sterben, compared with the English. This the beauty of homogeneous languages. So Veni, vidi, vici.

[This note follows an essay on Giambattista Strozzi's Madrigals, together with a transcription of twenty-seven specimens. The substance of the essay is embodied in the text of Chapter xvi. of the "Biographia Literaria," and a long footnote. The quotation is from the first madrigal, quoted in the note, which is not included in those transcribed in Notebook 17.—Coleridge's Works, iii. (Harper & Brothers, 1853), pp. 388-393.]


Important suggestion on 4th March, 1810 (Monday night). The law of[226] association clearly begins in common causality. How continued but by a causative power in the soul? What a proof of causation and power from the very law of mind, and cluster of facts adduced by Hume to overthrow it!


It is proud ignorance that, as a disease of the mind, alone superinduces the necessity of the medium of metaphysical philosophy. The errors into which a sound, unaffected mind is led by the nature of things (Thing as the substratum of power)—no errors at all, any more than the motion of the sun. "So it appears"—and that is most true—but when pride will work up these phenomena into a system of things in themselves, then they become most pernicious errors, and it is the duty of true mind to examine these with all the virtues of the intellect—patience, humility, etc.


"By aid of a large portion of mother's wit, Paine, though an unlearned man, saw the absurdity of the Christian religion." Mother's wit, indeed! Wit from his mother the earth—the earthy and material wit of the flesh and its lusts. One ounce of mother-wit may be worth a pound of learning, but a grain of the Father's wisdom is worth a ton of mother-wit—yea! of both together.


"O it is but an infant! 'tis but a child! he will be better as he grows[227] older." "O! she'll grow ashamed of it. This is but waywardness." Grant all this—that they will outgrow these particular actions, yet with what HABITS of feeling will they arrive at youth and manhood? Especially with regard to obedience, how is it possible that they should struggle against the boiling passions of youth by means of obedience to their own conscience who are to meet the dawn of conscience with the broad meridian of disobedience and habits of self-willedness? Besides, when are the rebukes, the chastisements to commence? Why! about nine or ten, perhaps, when, for the father at least, [the child] is less a plaything—when, therefore, anger is not healed up in its mind, either by its own infant versatility and forgetfulness, or by after caresses—when everything is remembered individually, and sense of injustice felt. For the boy very well remembers the different treatment when he was a child; but what has been so long permitted becomes a right to him. Far better, in such a case, to have them sent off to others—a strict schoolmaster—than to breed that contradiction of feeling toward the same person which subverts the very principle of our impulses. Whereas, in a tender, yet obedience-exacting and improvement-enforcing education, though very gradu[228]ally, and by small doses at a time, yet always going on—yea! even from a twelvemonth old—at six or seven the child really has outgrown all things that annoy, just at the time when, as the charm of infancy begins to diminish, they would begin really to annoy.


There are, in every country, times when the few who know the truth have clothed it for the vulgar, and addressed the vulgar in the vulgar language and modes of conception, in order to convey any part of the truth. This, however, could not be done with safety, even to the illuminati themselves in the first instance; but to their successors, habit gradually turned lie into belief, partial and stagnate truth into ignorance, and the teachers of the vulgar (like the Franciscan friars in the South of Europe) became a part of the vulgar—nay, because the laymen were open to various impulses and influences, which their instructors had built out (compare a brook in open air, liable to rainstreams and rills from new-opened fountains, to the same running through a mill guarded by sluice-gates and back-water), they became the vulgarest of the vulgar, till, finally, resolute not to detach themselves from the mob, the mob at length detaches itself from them, and leaves the mill-race dry, the moveless, rotten wheels as day-dormitories for bats and owls, and the old[229] grindstones for wags and scoffers of the taproom to whet their wits on.


When there are few literary men, and the vast 99999910000000 of the population are ignorant, as was the case of Italy from Dante to Metastasio, from causes I need not here put down, there will be a poetical language; but that a poet ever uses a word as poetical—that is, formally—which he, in the same mood and thought, would not use in prose or conversation, Milton's Prose Works will assist us in disproving. But as soon as literature becomes common, and critics numerous in any country, and a large body of men seek to express themselves habitually in the most precise, sensuous, and impassioned words, the difference as to mere words ceases, as, for example, the German prose writers. Produce to me one word out of Klopstock, Wieland, Schiller, Goethe, Voss, &c., which I will not find as frequently used in the most energetic prose writers. The sole difference in style is that poetry demands a severe keeping—it admits nothing that prose may not often admit, but it oftener rejects. In other words, it presupposes a more continuous state of passion. N.B.—Provincialisms of poets who have become the supreme classics in countries one in language but under various states and governments have aided this false idea, as, in[230] Italy, the Tuscanisms of Dante, Ariosto, and Alfieri, foolishly imitated by Venetians, Romans, and Neapolitans. How much this is against the opinion of Dante, see his admirable treatise on "Lingua Volgare Nobile," the first, I believe, of his prose or prose and verse works; for the "Convito" and "La Vita Nuova" are, one-third, in metre.


I would strongly recommend Lloyd's "State Worthies" [The Statesmen and Favourites of England since the Reformation. By David Lloyd. London, 1665-70] as the manual of every man who would rise in the world. In every twenty pages it recommends contradictions, but he who cannot reconcile them for himself, and discover which suits his plan, can never rise in the world. N.B.—I have a mind to draw a complete character of a worldly-wise man out of Lloyd. He would be highly-finished, useful, honoured, popular—a man revered by his children, his wife, and so forth. To be sure, he must not expect to be beloved by one proto-friend; and, if there be truth in reason or Christianity, he will go to hell—but, even so, he will doubtless secure himself a most respectable place in the devil's chimney-corner.


The falseness of that so very common opinion, "Mathematics, aye, that is something! that has been useful—but metaphysics!"[231] Now fairly compare the two, what each has really done.

But [be thou] only concerned to find out truth, which, on what side soever it appears, is always victory to every honest mind.

Christianity, too (as well as Platonism and the school of Pythagoras), has its esoteric philosophy, or why are we forbidden to cast pearls before swine? But who are the swine? Are they the poor and despised, the unalphabeted in worldly learning? O, no! the rich whose hearts are steeled by ignorance of misery and habits of receiving slavish obedience—the dropsical learned and the St. Vitus' [bewitched] sciolist.

In controversy it is highly useful to know whether you are really addressing yourself to an opponent or only to partisans, with the intention of preserving them firm. Either is well, but they should never be commingled.

In her letter to Lord Willoughby Queen Elizabeth hath the word "eloign." There is no exact equivalent in modern use. Neither "withdraw" or "absent" are precisely synonymous.

We understand Nature just as if, at a distance, we looked at the image[232] of a person in a looking-glass, plainly and fervently discoursing, yet what he uttered we could decipher only by the motion of the lips or by his mien.

I must extract and transcribe from the preface to the works of Paracelsus that eloquent defence of technical new words and of old words used in a new sense. The whole preface is exceedingly lively, and (excepting the mountebank defence of intentional obscurity and the attack on logic, as if it were ever intended to be an organon of discovery of material truth and directly, instead of a formal preliminary assisting the mind indirectly, and showing what cannot be truth, and what has not been proved truth,) very just.

The Chinese call the monsoon whirlwind, when more than usually fierce, the elephant. This is a fine image—a mad wounded war-elephant.

The poor oppressed Amboynese, who bear with patience the extirpation of their clove and nutmeg trees, in their fields and native woods, and the cruel taxes on sugar, their staff of life, will yet, at once and universally, rise up[233] in rebellion and prepare to destroy in despair all and everything, themselves included, if any attempt is made to destroy any individual's Tatanaman, the clove-tree which each Amboynese plants at the birth of each of his children. Very affecting!


The man of genius places things in a new light. This trivial phrase better expresses the appropriate effects of genius than Pope's celebrated distich—

"What oft was thought but ne'er so well exprest."

It has been thought distinctly, but only possessed, as it were, unpacked and unsorted. The poet not only displays what, though often seen in its unfolded mass, had never been opened out, but he likewise adds something, namely, light and relations. Who has not seen a rose, or sprig of jasmine or myrtle? But behold those same flowers in a posy or flower-pot, painted by a man of genius, or assorted by the hand of a woman of fine taste and instinctive sense of beauty!


To find our happiness incomplete without the happiness of some other given person or persons is the definition of affection in general, and applies equally to friendship, to the parental and to the conjugal relations. But[234] what is love? Love as it may subsist between two persons of different senses? This—and what more than this? The mutual dependence of their happiness, each on that of the other, each being at once cause and effect. You, therefore, I—I, therefore you. The sense of this reciprocity of well-being, is that which first stamps and legitimates the name of happiness in all the other advantages and favourable accidents of nature, or fortune, without which they would change their essence and become like the curse of Tantalus, insulting remembrances of misery, of that most unquiet of all miseries, means of happiness blasted and transformed by incompleteness, nay, by the loss of the sole organ through which we could enjoy them.

Suppose a wide and delightful landscape, and what the eye is to the light, and the light to the eye, that interchangeably is the lover to the beloved. "O best beloved! who lovest me the best!" In strictest propriety of application might he thus address her, if only she with equal truth could echo the same sense in the same feeling. "Light of mine eye! by which alone I not only see all I see, but which makes up more than half the loveliness of the objects seen, yet, still, like the rising sun in the morning, like the moon at night, remainest thyself and for thyself, the dearest, fairest form of all the thousand forms that derive from thee all their[235] visibility, and borrow from thy presence their chiefest beauty!"


Diamond + oxygen = charcoal. Even so on the fire-spark of his zeal did Cottle place the King-David diamonds, and caused to pass over them the oxygenous blast of his own inspiration, and lo! the diamond becomes a bit of charcoal.


"Ich finde alles eher auf der Erde, so gar Wahrheit und Freude, als Freundschaft."—Jean Paul.[F]

This for the motto—to examine and attest the fact, and then to explain the reason. First, then, there are the extraordinary qualifications demanded for true friendship, arising from the multitude of causes that make men delude themselves and attribute to friendship what is only a similarity of pursuit, or even a mere dislike of feeling oneself alone in anything. But, secondly, supposing the friendship to be as real as human nature ordinarily permits, yet how many causes are at constant war against it, whether in the shape of violent irruptions or unobserved yet constant wearings away by dyspathy, &c. Exemplify this in youth and then in manhood. First, there is the influence of wives, how frequently [236]deadly to friendship, either by direct encroach, or, perhaps, intentional plans of alienation! Secondly, there is the effect of families, by otherwise occupying the heart; and, thirdly, the action of life in general, by the worldly-wise, chilling effects of prudential anxieties.

Corollary. These reflections, however, suggest an argument in favour of the existing indissolubility of marriage.

To be compelled to make it up, or consent to be miserable and disrespected, is indeed a coarse plaister for the wounds of love, but so it must be while the patients themselves are of coarse make and unhealthy humours.


His imagination, if it must be so called, is at all events of the pettiest kind—it is an imaginunculation. How excellently the German Einbildungskraft expresses this prime and loftiest faculty, the power of co-adunation, the faculty that forms the many into one—In-eins-bildung! Eisenoplasy, or esenoplastic power, is contradistinguished from fantasy, or the mirrorment, either catoptric or metoptric—repeating simply, or by transposition—and, again, involuntary [fantasy] as in dreams, or by an act of the will.

[See Biog. Lit., cap. x.; Coleridge's Works, iii. 272. See also Blackwood's Magazine,[237] March 1840, No. ccxciii., Art. The Plagiarisms of S. T. Coleridge.]


Ministers, as in the Admiralty, or War Office, compared to managers of theatres. The numerous absurd claims at length deaden their sense of judgment to real merit, and superinduce in the mind an anticipation of clamorous vanity. Hence the great importance of the public voice, forcing them to be just. This, how illustrated by the life of Nelson—the infamous coldness with which all his claims were received—especially Mr. Wyndham's answer, July 21, 1795. And no wonder! for such is the state of moral feeling even with the English public, that an instance of credulity to an ingenious scheme which has failed in the trial will weigh more heavily on a minister's character than to have stifled in the birth half-a-dozen such men as Nelson or Cochrane, or such schemes as that of a floating army. Nelson's life is a perpetual comment on this.


Of moral discourses and fine moral discussions in the pulpit—"none of your Methodist stuff for me." And, yet, most certain it is, that never were either ministers or congregations so strict in all morality as at the time when nothing but fine moral discourses (that is calculations in self-love) would have driven a[238] preacher from the pulpit—and when the clergy thought it their pulpit-duty to preach Christ and Him crucified, and the why and the wherefore—and that the soberest, law-obeying, most prudent nation in the world would need Him as much as a nation of drunkards, thieves and profligates. How was this? Why, I take it, those old parsons thought, very wisely, that the pulpit was the place for truths that applied to all men, humbled all alike (not mortified one or two, and sent the rest home, scandal-talking with pharisaic "I thank thee, God, I am not as so and so, but I was glad to hear the parson"), comforted all, frightened all, offended all, because they were all men—that private vices depend so much on particular circumstances, that without making the pulpit a lampoon shop, (or, even supposing the genius of him who wrote Isaac Jenkins, without particulars not suited to the pulpit) that it would be a cold generality affair—and that, therefore, they considered the pulpit as one part of their duty, but to their whole congregation as men, and that the other part of their duty, which they thought equally binding on them, was to each and every member of that congregation as John Harris, or James Tomkins, in private conversation—and, like that of Mr. Longford, sometimes to rebuke and warn, sometimes to comfort, sometimes and oftener to instruct, and render them capable of under[239]standing his sermon. In short they would preach as Luther, and would converse as Mr. Longford to Isaac Jenkins.

[The History of Isaac Jenkins, a Moral Fiction. By Thomas Beddoes, M.D., 1793].


With a loving generous man whose activity of intellect is exerted habitually on truth and events of permanent, or, at least, general interest still warmed and coloured by benevolent enthusiasm self-unconsciously, and whose heart-movements are all the property of the few, whom he dearly loves—with such a man, for the vast majority of the wrongs met with in life, that at all affect him, a one-night's sleep provides the oblivion and the cure—he awakes from his slumbers and his resentment at the same moment. Yesterday is gone and the clouds of yesterday. The sun is born again, and how bright and joyous! and I am born again! But O! there may be wrongs, for which with our best efforts for the most perfect suppression, with the absence, nay, the impossibility of anger or hate, yet, longer, deeper sleep is required for the heart's oblivion, and thence renewal—even the long total sleep of death.

To me, I dare avow, even this connects a new soothing with the thought of death, an additional lustre in anticipation to the confidence of resurrection, that such sensations as I have so[240] often had after small wrongs, trifling quarrels, on first awaking in a summer morn after refreshing sleep, I shall experience after death for those few wounds too deep and broad for the vis medicatrix of mortal life to fill wholly up with new flesh—those that, though healed, yet left an unsightly scar which, too often, spite of our best wishes, opened anew at other derangements and indispositions of the mental health, even when they were altogether unconnected with the wound itself or its occasions—even as the scars of the sailor, the relics and remembrances of sword or gun-shot wounds (first of all his bodily frame giving way to ungenial influences from without or from within), ache and throb at the coming in of rain or easterly winds, and open again and bleed anew, at the attack of fever, or injury from deficient or unwholesome food—that even for these I should enjoy the same delightful annihilation of them, as of ordinary wrongs after sleep.

I would say to a man who reminded me of a friend's unkind words or deeds which I had forgiven—Smoking is very well while we are all smoking, even though the head is made dizzy by it and the candle of reason burns red, dim and thick; but, for Heaven's sake, don't put an old pipe to my nose just at breakfast time, among dews and flowers and sunshine.


[F] ["I find all things upon earth, even truth and joy, rather than friendship."]




From all that meets or eye or ear,
There falls a genial holy fear,
Which, like the heavy dew of morn,
Refreshes while it bows the heart forlorn!

S. T. C.


How marked the contrast between troubled manhood, and joyously-active youth in the sense of time! To the former, time like the sun in an empty sky is never seen to move, but only to have moved. There, there it was, and now 'tis here, now distant! yet all a blank between. To the latter it is as the full moon in a fine breezy October night, driving on amid clouds of all shapes and hues, and kindling shifting colours, like an ostrich in its speed, and yet seems not to have moved at all. This I feel to be a just image of time real and time as felt, in two different states of being. The title of the poem therefore (for poem it ought to be) should be time real and time felt (in the sense of time) in active youth, or activity with hope and fullness of aim in any period, and in de[242]spondent, objectless manhood—time objective and subjective.

[The riddle is hard to read, but the underlying thought seems to be that in youth the sense of time is like the apparent motion of the moon through clouds, ever driving on, but ever seeming to stand still; whereas the sense of time in manhood is like the sun, which seems to be stationary, and yet, at short intervals, is seen to have moved. This is time felt in two different states of being. Time real is, as it were, sun or moon which move independently of our perceptions of their movements. The note (1811), no doubt, contains the germ of "Time Real and Imaginary" first published in "Sibylline Leaves" in 1817, which Coleridge in his Preface describes as a "school-boy poem," and interprets thus: "By imaginary time I meant the state of a schoolboy's mind when, on his return to school, he projects his being in his day-dreams, and lives in his next holidays, six months hence!" The explanation was probably an afterthought. "The two lovely children" who "run an endless race" may have haunted his schoolboy dreams, may perhaps have returned to the dreams of his troubled manhood, bringing with them the sense rather than the memory of youth, intermingled with a consciousness that youth was gone for ever, but the composition of the poem dates from 1811, or possibly 1815, when[243] the preparation of the poems for the press would persuade him once more to express his thoughts in verse.]

On the wide level of a mountain's head,
(I knew not where, but 'twas some faery place)
Their pinions, ostrich-like, for sails outspread,
Two lovely children run an endless race,
A sister and a brother!
This far outstript the other;
Yet ever runs she with reverted face,
And looks and listens for the boy behind:
For he, alas! is blind!
O'er rough and smooth with even step he passed,
And knows not whether he be first or last.

[P. W., 1893, p. 187. See, too, Editor's Note, p. 638.]


Elucidation of my all-zermalming, [that is, all-crushing] argument on the subject of ghosts, apparitions, &c.

Night-mare is, I think, always, even when it occurs in the midst of sleep, and not as it more commonly does after a waking interval, a state not of sleep, but of stupor of the outward organs of sense—not in words, indeed, but yet in fact distinguishable from the suspended power of the senses in true sleep, while the volitions of reason, that is the faculty of comparison, &c., are awake[244] though disturbed. This stupor seems to be occasioned by some painful sensations of unknown locality (most often, I believe, in the lower bowel) which, withdrawing the attention to itself from the sense of other realities present, makes us asleep to them, indeed, but otherwise awake. And, whenever the derangement occasions an interruption in the circulation, aided, perhaps, by pressure, awkward position, &c., the part deadened, as the hand, the arm, or the foot and leg, or the side, transmits double touch as single touch, to which the imagination, therefore, the true inward creatrix, instantly out of the chaos of elements or shattered fragments of memory, puts together some form to fit it. And this [imaginatio] derives an over-mastering sense of reality from the circumstance that the power of reason, being in good measure awake, most generally presents to us all the accompanying images very nearly as they existed the moment before, when we fell out of anxious wakefulness into this reverie. For example, the bed, the curtain, the room and its furniture, the knowledge of who lives in the next room, and so forth contribute to the illusion.... In short, the night-mare is not, properly, a dream, but a species of reverie, akin to somnambulism, during which the understanding and moral sense are awake, though more or less confused, and over the terrors of which the reason can exert no[245] influence, because it is not true terror, that is, apprehension of danger, but is itself a specific sensation = terror corporeus sive materialis. The explanation and classification of these strange sensations, the organic material analogous (ideas materiales intermedias, as the Cartesians say) of Fear, Hope, Rage, Shame, and (strangest of all) Remorse, form at present the most difficult, and at the same time the most interesting problem of psychology, and are intimately connected with prudential morals, the science, that is, of morals not as the ground and law of duty, but in their relation to the empirical hindrances and focillations in the realising of the law by human beings. The solution of this problem would, perhaps, throw great doubt on the present [notion] that the forms and feelings of sleep are always the reflections and confused echoes of our waking thoughts and experiences.


What a swarm of thoughts and feelings, endlessly minute fragments, and, as it were, representations of all preceding and embryos of all future thought, lie compact in any one moment! So, in a single drop of water, the microscope discovers what motions, what tumult, what wars, what pursuits, what stratagems, what a circle-dance of death and life, death-hunting life, and life renewed and invigorated by death! The whole world seems here in a many-meaning[246] cypher. What if our existence was but that moment? What an unintelligible, affrightful riddle, what a chaos of limbs and trunk, tailless, headless, nothing begun and nothing ended, would it not be? And yet scarcely more than that other moment of fifty or sixty years, were that our all? Each part throughout infinite diminution adapted to some other, and yet the whole a means to nothing—ends everywhere, and yet an end nowhere.

[Compare the three last lines of "What is Life?"

Is very life by consciousness unbounded?
And all the thoughts, pains, joys of mortal breath,
A war-embrace of wrestling life and death?

P. W., 1893, p. 173.]


The love of Nature is ever returned double to us, not only the delighter in our delight, but by linking our sweetest, but of themselves perishable feelings to distinct and vivid images, which we ourselves, at times, and which a thousand casual recollections, recall to our memory. She is the preserver, the treasurer of our joys. Even in sickness and nervous diseases, she has peopled our imagination with lovely forms which have sometimes overpowered the inward pain and brought with them their old sensations. And even when all men have seemed to desert[247] us and the friend of our heart has passed on, with one glance from his "cold disliking eye"—yet even then the blue heaven spreads it out and bends over us, and the little tree still shelters us under its plumage as a second cope, a domestic firmament, and the low creeping gale will sigh in the heath-plant and soothe us by sound of sympathy till the lulled grief lose itself in fixed gaze on the purple heath-blossom, till the present beauty becomes a vision of memory.


I have never seen the evening star set behind the mountains, but it was as if I had lost a hope out of my soul, as if a love were gone, and a sad memory only remained. O it was my earliest affection, the evening star! One of my first utterances in verse was an address to it as I was returning from the New River, and it looked newly bathed as well as I. I remember that the substance of the sonnet was that the woman whom I could ever love would surely have been emblemed in the pensive serene brightness of that planet, that we were both constellated to it, and would after death return thither.

O meek attendant of Sol's setting blaze,
I hail, sweet star, thy chaste effulgent glow;
On thee full oft with fixed eye I gaze,
[248] Till I methinks, all spirit seem to grow.
O first and fairest of the starry choir,
O loveliest 'mid the daughters of the night,
Must not the maid I love like thee inspire
Pure joy and calm delight?
Must she not be, as is thy placid sphere,
Serenely brilliant? Whilst to gaze awhile
Be all my wish 'mid Fancy's high career
E'en till she quit this scene of earthly toil;
Then Hope perchance might fondly sigh to join
Her image in thy kindred orb, O star benign!

[First printed from MS. Poetical and Dramatic Works, 1877-80; Poetical Works, 1893, p. 11.]


Where health is—at least, though pain be no stranger, yet when the breath can rise, and turn round like a comet at its perihelion in its ellipse, and again descend, instead of being a Sisiphus's stone; and the chest can expand as by its own volition and the head sits firm yet mobile aloft, like the vane of a tower on a hill shining in the blue air, and appropriating sunshine and moonlight whatever weight of clouds brood below—O when health and hope, and if not competence yet a debtless unwealth, libera et læta paupertas, is his, a man may have and love many friends, but yet, if indeed they be friends, he lives with each a several and individual life.


One source of calumny (I say source, because allophoby from[249] hŽautopithygmy is the only proper cause) may be found in this—every man's life exhibits two sorts of selfishness, those which are and those which are not objects of his own consciousness. A is thinking, perhaps, of some plan in which he may benefit another, and during this absorption consults his own little bodily comforts blindly—occupies the best place at the fire-side, or asks at once, "Where am I to sit?" instead of first inquiring after the health of another. Now the error lies here, that B, in complaining of A, first takes for granted either that these are acts of conscious selfishness in A, or, if he allows the truth, yet considers them just as bad (and so perhaps they may be in a certain sense), but forgets that his own life presents the same, judges of his own life exclusively by his own consciousness, that of another by conscious and unconscious in a lump. A monkey's anthropomorph attitudes we take for anthropic.


Try not to become disgusted with active benevolence, or despondent because there is a philanthropy-trade. It is a sort of benefit-club of virtue, supported by the contributions of paupers in virtue, founded by genuine enthusiasts who gain a reputation for the thing—then slip in successors who know how to avail them[250]selves of the influence and connections derived thereby—quite gratuitous, however, and bustling-active—but yet bribe high to become the unpaid physicians of the dispensary at St. Luke's Hospital, and bow and scrape and intrigue, Carlyleise and Knappise for it. And such is the [case with regard to] the slave trade. The first abolitionists were the good men who laboured when the thing seemed desperate—it was virtue for its own sake. Then the quakers, Granville Sharp, etc.—then the restless spirits who are under the action of tyrannical oppression from images, and, gradually, mixed vanity and love of power with it—the politicians + saints = Wilberforce. Last come the Scotchmen—and Brougham is now canvassing more successfully for the seat of Wilberforce, who retires with great honour and regret, from infirmities of age and enoughness. It is just as with the great original benefactors and founders of useful plans, Raleigh, Sir Hugh Middleton, etc.—men of genius succeeded by sharpers, but who often can better carry on what they never could have first conceived—and this, too, by their very want of those qualities and virtues which were necessary to the discovery.


All mere passions, like spirits and apparitions, have their hour of cock-crow, in which they must vanish. But pure love is, therefore,[251] no mere passion; and it is a test of its being love, that no reason can be assigned why it should disappear. Shall we not always, in this life at least, remain animæ dimidiatæ?—must not the moral reason always hold out the perfecting of each by union of both as good and lovely? With reason, therefore, and conscience let love vanish, but let these vanish only with our being.


The sick and sleepless man, after the dawn of the fresh day, is fain to watch the smoke now from this and then from the other chimney of the town from his bed-chamber, as if willing to borrow from others that sense of a new day, of a discontinuity between the yesterday and the to-day which his own sensations had not afforded. [Compare Wordsworth's "Blessed Barrier Between Day and Day," Wordsworth's Third Sonnet to Sleep, Poetical Works, 1889, 354.]


O what wisdom could I talk to a YOUTH of genius and genial-heartedness! O how little could I teach! and yet, though despairing of success, I would attempt to enforce:—"Whenever you meet with a person of undoubted talents, more especially if a woman,[252] and of apparent goodness, and yet you feel uncomfortable, and urged against your nature, and, therefore, probably in vain, to be on your guard—then take yourself to task and enquire what strong reason, moral or prudential, you have to form any intimacy or even familiarity with that person. If you after this (or moreover) detect any falsehood, or, what amounts to the same, proneness and quickness to look into, to analyse, to find out and represent evil or weakness in others (however this may be disguised even from the person's own mind by candour, [in] pointing out the good at the same time, by affectation of speculative truth, as psychologists, or of telling you all their thoughts as open-hearted friends), then let no reason but a strong and coercive one suffice to make you any other than as formal and distant acquaintance as circumstances will permit." And am I not now suffering, in part, for forcing my feelings into slavery to my notions, and intellectual admiration for a whole year and more with regard to ——? [So the MS.] If I played the hypocrite to myself, can I blame my fate that he has, at length, played the deceiver to me? Yet, God knows! I did it most virtuously!—not only without vanity or any self-interest of however subtle a nature, but from humility and a true delight in finding excellence of any kind, and a disposition to fall prostrate before it.


To understand fully the mechanism, in order fully to feel the[253] incomparable excellence of Milton's metre, we must make four tables, or a fourfold compartment, the first for the feet, single and composite, for which the whole twenty-six feet of the ancients will be found necessary; the second to note the construction of the feet, whether from different or from single words—for who does not perceive the difference to the ear between—

"Inextricable disobedience" and
"To love or not: in this we stand or fall"—

yet both lines are composed of five iambics? The third, of the strength and position, the concentration or diffusion of the emphasis. Fourth, the length and position of the pauses. Then compare his narrative with the harangues. I have not noticed the ellipses, because they either do not affect the rhythm, or are not ellipses, but are comprehended in the feet.


Shall I compare man to a clockwork Catamaran, destined to float on in a meaner element for so many moments or hours, and then to explode, scattering its involucrum and itself to ascend into its proper element?

I am persuaded that we love what is above us more than what is under us.

Money—paper money—peace, war. How comes it that all men in all[254] companies are talking of the depreciation, etc. etc.—and yet that a discourse on transubstantiation would not be a more withering sirocco than the attempt to explain philosophically the true cure and causes of that which interests all so vehemently?

All convalescence is a resurrection, a palingenesy of our youth—"and loves the earth and all that live thereon with a new heart." But oh! the anguish to have the aching freshness of yearning and no answering object—only remembrances of faithless change—and unmerited alienation!

The sun at evening holds up her fingers of both hands before her face that mortals may have one steady gaze—her transparent crimson fingers as when a lovely woman looks at the fire through her slender palms.

O that perilous moment [for such there is] of a half-reconciliation, when the coldness and the resentment have been sustained too long. Each is drawing toward the other, but like glass in the mid-state between fusion and compaction a single sand will splinter it.

Sometimes when I earnestly look at a beautiful object or landscape, it[255] seems as if I were on the brink of a fruition still denied—as if Vision were an appetite; even as a man would feel who, having put forth all his muscular strength in an act of prosilience, is at the very moment held back—he leaps and yet moves not from his place.

Philosophy in general, but a plummet to so short a line that it can sound no deeper than the sounder's eyes can reach—and yet—in certain waters it may teach the exact depth and prevent a drowning.

The midnight wild beasts staring at the hunter's torch, or when the hunter sees the tiger's eye glaring on the red light of his own torch.

A summer-sailing on a still peninsulating river, and sweet as the delays of parting lovers.

Sir F[rancis] B[urdett], like a Lapland witch drowned in a storm of her own raising. Mr. Cobbett, who, for a dollar, can raise what, offer him ten thousand dollars, he could not allay.

August, 1811

Why do you make a book? Because my hands can extend but a few score[256] inches from my body; because my poverty keeps those hands empty when my heart aches to empty them; because my life is short, and [by reason of] my infirmities; and because a book, if it extends but to one edition, will probably benefit three or four score on whom I could not otherwise have acted, and, should it live and deserve to live, will make ample compensation for all the aforestated infirmities. O, but think only of the thoughts, feelings, radical impulses that have been implanted in how many thousands by the little ballad of the "Children in the Wood"! The sphere of Alexander the Great's agency is trifling compared with it.


One of the strangest and most painful peculiarities of my nature (unless others have the same, and, like me, hide it, from the same inexplicable feeling of causeless shame and sense of a sort of guilt, joined with the apprehension of being feared and shrunk from as a something transnatural) I will here record—and my motive, or, rather, impulse, to do this seems an effort to eloign and abalienate it from the dark adyt of my own being by a visual outness, and not the wish for others to see it. It consists in a sudden second sight of some hidden vice, past, present or to come, of the person or per[257]sons with whom I am about to form a close intimacy—which never deters me, but rather (as all these transnaturals) urges me on, just like the feeling of an eddy-torrent to a swimmer. I see it as a vision, feel it as a prophecy, not as one given me by any other being, but as an act of my own spirit, of the absolute noumenon, which, in so doing, seems to have offended against some law of its being, and to have acted the traitor by a commune with full consciousness independent of the tenure or inflected state of association, cause and effect, &c.


As the most far-sighted eye, even aided by the most powerful telescope, will not make a fixed star appear larger than it does to an ordinary and unaided sight, even so there are heights of knowledge and truth sublime which all men in possession of the ordinary human understanding may comprehend as much and as well as the profoundest philosopher and the most learned theologian. Such are the truths relating to the logos and its oneness with the self-existent Deity, and of the humanity of Christ and its union with the logos. It is idle, therefore, to refrain from preaching on these subjects, provided only such preparations have been made as no man can be a Christian without. The misfortune is that the majority are Christians only[258] in name, and by birth only. Let them but once, according to St. James, have looked down steadfastly into the law of liberty or freedom in their own souls (the will and the conscience), and they are capable of whatever God has chosen to reveal.


A long line of (!!) marks of admiration would be its aptest symbol! It has given me the eye-ache with dazzlement, the brain-ache with wonderment, the stomach and all-ache with the shock and after-eddy of contradictory feelings. Splendour is there, splendour everywhere—distinct the figures as vivid—skill in construction of events—beauties numberless of form and thought. But there is not anywhere the "one low piping note more sweet than all"—there is not the divine vision of the poet, which gives the full fruition of sight without the effort—and where the feelings of the heart are struck, they are awakened only to complain of and recoil from the occasion. O! it is mournful to see and wonder at such a marvel of labour, erudition and talent concentered into such a burning-glass of factitious power, and yet to know that it is all in vain—like the Pyramids, it shows what can be done, and, like them, leaves in painful and almost scornful perplexity, why it was done, for what or whom.

SILENCE IS GOLDEN September 29th, 1812

Grand rule in case of quarrels between friends or lovers—never to say,[259] hint, or do anything in a moment of anger or indignation or sense of ill-treatment, but to be passive—and even if the fit should recur the next morning, still to delay it—in short, however plausible the motive may be, yet if you have loved the persons concerned, not to say it till their love has returned toward you, and your feelings are the same as they were before. And for this plain reason—you knew this before, and yet because you were in kindness, you never felt an impulse to speak of it—then, surely, not now when you may perpetuate what would otherwise be fugitive.


"That not one of the peculiarities of Christianity, no one point in which, being clearly different from other religions or philosophies, it would have, at least, the possibility of being superior to all, is retained by the modern Unitarians." This remark is occasioned by my reflections on the fact that Christianity exclusively has asserted the positive being of evil or sin, "of sin the exceeding sinfulness"—and thence exclusively the freedom of the creature, as that, the clear intuition of which is, both, the result and the accompaniment of redemption. The nearest philosophy to Christianity is the Platonic, and it is observable that this is the mere anti[260]podes of the Hartleio-Lockian held by the Unitarians; but the true honours of Christianity would be most easily manifested by a comparison even with that "nec pari nec secundo," but yet "omnibus aliis propriore," the Platonic! With what contempt, even in later years, have I not contemplated the doctrine of a devil! but now I see the intimate connection, if not as existent person, yet as essence and symbol with Christianity—and that so far from being identical with Manicheism, it is the surest antidote (that is, rightly understood).




Lynx amid moles! had I stood by thy bed,
Be of good cheer, meek soul! I would have said:
I see a hope spring from that humble fear.

S. T. C.


The first man of science was he who looked into a thing, not to learn whether it could furnish him with food, or shelter, or weapons, or tools, or ornaments, or playwiths, but who sought to know it for the gratification of knowing; while he that first sought to know in order to be was the first philosopher. I have read of two rivers passing through the same lake, yet all the way preserving their streams visibly distinct—if I mistake not, the Rhone and the Adar, through the Lake of Geneva. In a far finer distinction, yet in a subtler union, such, for the contemplative mind, are the streams of knowing and being. The lake is formed by the two streams in man and nature as it exists in and for man; and up this lake the philosopher sails on the junction-line of the[262] constituent streams, still pushing upward and sounding as he goes, towards the common fountain-head of both, the mysterious source whose being is knowledge, whose knowledge is being—the adorable I am in that I am.


I have culled the following extracts from the First Epistle of the First Book of Petrarch's Epistle, that "Barbato Salmonensi." [Basil, 1554, i. 76.]

VultŻs, heu, blanda severi
Majestas, placidæque decus pondusque senectæ!
Non omnia terræ
Obruta! vivit amor, vivit dolor! Ora negatum
Dulcia conspicere; at flere et meminisse relictum est.
Jamque observatio vitæ
Multa dedit—lugere nihil, ferre omnia; jamque
Paulatim lacrymas rerum experientia tersit.
[Heu! et spem quoque tersit]
Pectore nunc gelido calidos miseremur amantes,
Jamque arsisse pudet. Veteres tranquilla tumultus
Mens horret, relegensque alium putat esse locutum.

But, indeed, the whole of this letter deserves to be read and translated. Had Petrarch lived a[263] century later, and, retaining all his substantiality of head and heart, added to it the elegancies and manly politure of Fracastorius, Flaminius, Vida and their corrivals, this letter would have been a classical gem. To a translator of genius, and who possessed the English language as unembarrassed property, the defects of style in the original would present no obstacle; nay, rather an honourable motive in the well-grounded hope of rendering the version a finer poem than the original.

[Twelve lines of Petrarch's Ep. Barbato Salmonensi are quoted in the Biog. Liter. at the end of chapter x.; and a portion of the same poem was prefixed as a motto to "Love Poems" in the Sibylline Leaves, 1817, and the editions of P. W., 1828-9. Coleridge's Works, Harper & Brother, 1853, iii. 314. See, too, P. W., 1893, Editor's Note, pp. 614, 634.]


A fine writer of bad principles or a fine poem on a hateful subject, such as the "Alexis" of Virgil or the "Bathyllus" of Anacreon, I compare to the flowers and leaves of the Stramonium. The flowers are remarkable sweet, but such is the fetid odour of the leaves that you start back from the one through disgust at the other.



Zephyrs that captive roam among these boughs,
Strive ye in vain to thread the leafy maze?
Or have ye lim'd your wings with honey-dew?
Unfelt ye murmur restless o'er my head
And rock the feeding drone or bustling bees
That blend their eager, earnest, happy hum!

Gravior terras infestat Echidna,
Cur sua vipereæ jaculantur toxica linguæ
Atque homini sit homo serpens. O prodiga culpæ
Germina, naturæque uteri fatalia monstra!
Queis nimis innocuo volupe est in sanguine rictus
Tingere, fraternasque fibras cognataque per se
Viscera, et arrosæ deglubere funera famæ.
Quæ morum ista lues!

25th Feb. 1819 Five years since the preceding lines were written on this leaf!! Ah! how yet more intrusively has the hornet scandal since then scared away the bee of poetic thought and silenced its "eager, earnest, happy hum"!


The sore evil now so general, alas! only not universal, of supporting our religion, just as a keen party-man would support his party in Parliament. All must be defended which can give a momentary advantage over any one opponent, no matter how naked it lays the cause[265] open to another, perhaps, more formidable opponent—no matter how incompatible the two assumptions may be. We rejoice, not because our religion is the truth, but because the truth appears to be our religion. Talk with any dignified orthodoxist in the sober way of farther preferment and he will concrete all the grounds of Socinianism, talk Paley and the Resurrection as a proof and as the only proper proof of our immortality, will give to external evidence and miracles the same self-grounded force, the same fundamentality. Even so the old Puritans felt towards the Papists. Because so much was wrong, everything was wrong, and by denying all reverence to the fathers and to the constant tradition of the Catholic Churches, they undermined the wall of the city in order that it might fall on the heads of the Romanists—thoughtless that by this very act they made a Breach for the Arian and Socinian to enter.


The ear-deceiving imitation of a steady soaking rain, while the sky is in full uncurtainment of sprinkled stars and milky stream and dark blue interspace. The rain had held up for two hours or more, but so deep was the silence of the night that the drip from the leaves of the garden trees copied a steady shower.


So intense are my affections, and so despotically am I governed by them[266] (not indeed so much as I once was, but still far, far too much) that I should be the most wretched of men if my love outlived my esteem. But this, thank Heaven! is the antidote. The bitterer the tear of anguish at the clear detection of misapplied attachment, the calmer I am afterwards. It is a funeral tear for an object no more.


February 23, 1816.

I thought I expressed my thoughts well when I said, "There is no superstition but what has a religion as its base [or radical], and religion is only reason, seen perspectively by a finite intellect."


It is a common remark, in medical books for instance, that there are certain niceties which words, from their always abstract and so far general nature, cannot convey. Now this I am disposed to deny, that is, in any comparative sense. In my opinion there is nothing which, being equally known as any other thing, may not be conveyed by words with equal clearness. But the question of the source of the remark is, to whom? If I say that in jaundice the skin looks yellow, my words have no meaning for a man who has no sense of[267] colours. Words are but remembrances, though remembrance may be so excited, as by the a priori powers of the mind to produce a tertium aliquid. The utmost, therefore that should be said is that every additament of perception requires a new word, which (like all other words) will be intelligible to all who have seen the subject recalled by it, and who have learnt that such a word or phrase was appropriated to it; and this may be attained either by a new word, as platinum, titanium, osmium, etc., for the new metals, or an epithet peculiarising the application of an old word. For instance, no one can have attended to the brightness of the eyes in a healthy person in high spirits and particularly delighted by some occurrence, and that of the eye of a person deranged or predisposed to derangement, without observing the difference; and, in this case, the phrase "a maniacal glitter of the eye" conveys as clear a notion as that jaundice is marked by yellow. There is, doubtless, a difference, but no other than that of the commencement of particular knowledge by the application of universal knowledge (that is to all who have the senses and common faculties of men), and the next step of knowledge when it particularises itself. But the defect is not in words, but in the imperfect knowledge of those to whom they are addressed. Then proof is obvious. Desire a[268] physician or metaphysician, or a lawyer to mention the most perspicuous book in their several knowledges. Then bid them read that book to a sensible carpenter or shoemaker, and a great part will be as unintelligible as a technical treatise on carpentering to the lawyer or physician, who had not been brought up in a carpenter's shop or looked at his tools.

I have dwelt on this for more reasons than one: first, because a remark that seems at first sight the same, namely, that "everything clearly perceived may be conveyed in simple common language," without taking in the "to whom?" is the disease of the age—an arrogant pusillanimity, a hatred of all information that cannot be obtained without thinking; and, secondly, because the pretended imperfection of language is often a disguise of muddy thoughts; and, thirdly, because to the mind itself it is made an excuse for indolence in determining what the fact or truth is which is the premise. For whether there does or does not exist a term in our present store of words significant thereof—if not, a word must be made—and, indeed, all wise men have so acted from Moses to Aristotle and from Theophrastus to Linnæus.

The sum, therefore, is this. The conveyal of knowledge by words is in direct proportion to the stores and faculties of observation (internal or external) of the person who hears or[269] reads them. And this holds equally whether I distinguish the green grass from the white lily and the yellow crocus, which all who have eyes understand, because all are equal to me in the knowledge of the facts signified—or of the difference between the apprehensive, perceptive, conceptive, and conclusive powers which I might [try to enunciate to] Doctors of Divinity and they would translate the words by Abra Ca Dabra.

FLOWERS OF SPEECH Sunday, April 30, 1816

Reflections on my four gaudy flower-pots, compared with the former flower-poems. After a certain period, crowded with counterfeiters of poetry, and illustrious with true poets, there is formed for common use a vast garden of language, all the showy and all the odorous words and clusters of words are brought together, and to be plucked by mere mechanic and passive memory. In such a state, any man of common poetical reading, having a strong desire (to be?—O no! but—) to be thought a poet will present a flower-pot gay and gaudy, but the composition! That is wanting. We carry on judgment of times and circumstances into our pleasures. A flower-pot which would have enchanted us before flower gardens were common, for the very beauty of the component flowers, will be rightly condemned as common-place, out of place (for such is a common-place[270] poet)—it involves a contradiction both in terms and thought. So Homer's Juno, Minerva, etc., are read with delight—but Blackmore? This is the reason why the judgment of those who are newlings in poetic reading is not to be relied on. The positive, which belongs to all, is taken as the comparative, which is the individual's praise. A good ear which had never heard music—with what raptures would it praise one of Shield's or Arne's Pasticcios and Centos! But it is the human mind it praises, not the individual. Hence it may happen (I believe has happened) that fashionableness may produce popularity. "The Beggar's Petition" is a fair instance, and what if I dared to add Gray's "Elegy in a Country Churchyard"?


Men who direct what they call their understanding or common-sense by rules abstracted from sensuous experience in moral and super-sensuous truths remind one of the zemmi (mus τυφλος or typhlus), "a kind of rat in which the skin (conjunctiva) is not even transparent over the eye, but is there covered with hairs as in the rest of the body. The eye (= the understanding), which is scarcely the size of the poppy-seed, is perfectly useless." An eel (murœna cœcilia) and the myxine (gastobranchus cœcus) are blind in the same manner, through the opacity of the conjunctiva.


Sir G. Staunton asserts that, in the forests of Java, spiders' webs are[271] found of so strong a texture as to require a sharp-cutting instrument to make way through them. Pity that he did not procure a specimen and bring it home with him. It would be a pleasure to see a sailing-boat rigged with them—twisting the larger threads into ropes and weaving the smaller into a sort of silk canvas resembling the indestructible white cloth of the arindy or palma Christi silkworm.

The Libellulidæ fly all ways without needing to turn their bodies—onward, backward, right and left—with more than swallow-rivalling rapidity of wing, readiness of evolution, and indefatigable continuance.

The merry little gnats (Tipulidæ minimæ) I have myself often watched in an April shower, evidently "dancing the hayes" in and out between the falling drops, unwetted, or, rather, un-down-dashed by rocks of water many times larger than their whole bodies.

OF STYLE Sunday, January 25, 1817

A valuable remark has just struck me on reading Milton's beautiful passage on true eloquence, his apology for Smectymnuus. "For me, reader, though I cannot say," etc.—first, to shew the vastly greater numbers of[272] admirable passages, in our elder writers, that may be gotten by heart as the most exquisite poems; and to point out the great intellectual advantage of this reading, over the gliding smoothly on through a whole volume of equability. But still, it will be said, there is an antiquity, an oddness in the style. Granted; but hear this same passage from the Smectymnuus, or this, or this. Every one would know at first hearing that they were not written by Gibbon, Hume, Johnson, or Robertson. But why? Are they not pure English? Aye! incomparably more so! Are not the words precisely appropriate, so that you cannot change them without changing the force and meaning? Aye! But are they not even now intelligible to man, woman, and child? Aye! there is no riddle-my-ree in them. What, then, is it? The unnatural, false, affected style of the moderns that makes sense and simplicity oddness.


Even to a sense of shrinking, I felt in this man's face and figure what a shape comes to view when age has dried away the mask from a bad, depraved man, and flesh and colour no longer conceal or palliate the traits of the countenance. Then shows itself the indurated nerve; stiff and rigid in all its ugliness the inflexible muscle; then quiver the naked lips, the cold, the loveless; then blinks the turbid[273] eye, whose glance no longer pliant fixes, abides in its evil expression. Then lie on the powerless forehead the wrinkles of suspicion and fear, and conscience-stung watchfulness. Contrast this with the countenance of Mrs. Gillman's mother as she once described it to me. This for "Puff and Slander,"[G] Highgate, 1817.


When the little creature has slept out its sleep and stilled its hunger at the mother's bosom (that very hunger a mode of love all made up of kisses), and coos, and wantons with pleasure, and laughs, and plays bob-cherry with his mother, that is all, all to it. It understands not either itself or its mother, but it clings to her, and has an undeniable right to cling to her, seeks her, thanks her, loves her without forethought and without an afterthought.


Nec mihi, Christe, tua sufficiunt sine te, nec tibi placent mea sine me, exclaims St. Bernard. Nota Bene.—This single epigram is worth (shall I say—O far rather—is a sufficient antidote to) a waggon-load of Paleyan moral and political philosophies.


We all look up to the blue sky for comfort, but nothing appears there,[274] nothing comforts, nothing answers us, and so we die.

Lie with the ear upon a dear friend's grave.

On the same man, as in a vineyard, grow far different grapes—on the sunny south nectar, and on the bleak north verjuice.

The blossom gives not only future fruit, but present honey. We may take the one, the other nothing injured.

Like some spendthrift Lord, after we have disposed of nature's great masterpiece and [priceless] heirloom, the wisdom of innocence, we hang up as a poor copy our [own base] cunning.


The revival of classical literature, like all other revolutions, was not an unmixed good. One evil was the passion for pure Latinity, and a consequent contempt for the barbarism of the scholastic style and terminology. For awhile the schoolmen made head against their assailants; but, alas! all the genius and eloquence of the world was against them,[275] and by an additional misfortune the scholastic logic was professed by those who had no other attainments, namely, the monks, and these, from monkishness, were the enemies of all genius and liberal knowledge. They were, of course, laughed out of the field as soon as they lost the power of aiding their logic by the post-predicaments of dungeon, fire, and faggot. Henceforward speculative philosophy must be written classically, that is, without technical terms—therefore popularly—and the inevitable consequence was that those sciences only were progressive which were permitted by the apparent as well as real necessity of the case to have a scientific terminology—as mathesis, geometry, astronomy and so forth—while metaphysic sank and died, and an empirical highly superficial psychology took its place. And so it has remained in England to the present day. A man must have felt the pain of being compelled to express himself either laxly or paraphrastically (which latter is almost as great an impediment in intellectual construction as the translation of letters and symbols into the thought they represent would be in Algebra), in order to understand how much a metaphysician suffers from not daring to adopt the ivitates and eitates of the schoolmen as objectivity, subjectivity, negativity, positivity. April 29, 1817, Tuesday night.


The sentimental cantilena respecting the benignity and loveliness of[276] nature—how does it not sink before the contemplation of the pravity of nature, on whose reluctance and inaptness a form is forced (the mere reflex of that form which is itself absolute substance!) and which it struggles against, bears but for a while and then sinks with the alacrity of self-seeking into dust or sanies, which falls abroad into endless nothings or creeps and cowers in poison or explodes in havock! What is the beginning? what the end? And how evident an alien is the supernatural in the brief interval!


There are many, alas! too many, either born or who have become deaf and dumb. So there are too many who have perverted the religion of the spirit into the superstition of spirits that mutter and mock and mow, like deaf and dumb idiots. Plans of teaching the deaf and dumb have been invented. For these the deaf and dumb owe thanks, and we for their sakes. Homines sumus et nihil humani a nobis alienum. But does it follow, therefore, that in all schools these plans of teaching should be followed? Yet in the other case this is insisted on—and the Holy Ghost must not be our guide because mysticism and ghosts may come in under this name. Why? Because the deaf and[277] dumb have been promoted to superintendents of education at large for all!


Save only in that in which I have a right to demand of every man that he should be able to understand me, the experience or inward witnessing of the conscience, and in respect of which every man in real life (even the very disputant who affects doubt or denial in the moment of metaphysical arguing) would hold himself insulted by the supposition that he did not understand it—save in this only, and in that which if it be at all must be unique, and therefore cannot be supported by an analogue, and which, if it be at all, must be first, and therefore cannot have an antecedent, and therefore may be monstrated, but cannot be demonstrated.—I am no ghost-seer, I am no believer in apparitions. I do not contend for indescribable sensations, nor refer to, much less ground my convictions on, blind feelings or incommunicable experiences, but far rather contend against these superstitions in the mechanic sect, and impeach you as guilty, habitually and systematically guilty, of the same. Guilty, I say, of superstitions, which at worst are but exceptions and fits in the poor self-misapprehending pietists, with whom, under the name mystics, you would fain confound and discredit all who receive and worship God in spirit and in truth, and in the former as the[278] only possible mode of the latter. According to your own account, your own scheme, you know nothing but your own sensations, indescribable inasmuch as they are sensations—for the appropriate expression even of which we must fly not merely to the indeclinables in the lowest parts of speech, but to human articulations that only (like musical notes) stand for inarticulate sounds—the οι, οι, παπαι of the Greek tragedies, or, rather, Greek oratorios. You see nothing, but only by a sensation that conjures up an image in your own brain, or optic nerve (as in a nightmare), have an apparition, in consequence of which, as again in the nightmare, you are forced to believe for the moment, and are inclined to infer the existence of a corresponding reality out of your brain, but by what intermediation you cannot even form an intelligible conjecture. During the years of ill-health from disturbed digestion, I saw a host of apparitions, and heard them too—but I attributed them to an act in my brain. You, according to your own showing, see and hear nothing but apparitions in your brain, and strangely attribute them to things that are outside your skull. Which of the two notions is most like the philosopher, which the superstitionist? The philosopher who makes my apparitions nothing but apparitions—a brain-image nothing more than a brain-image—and affirm nihil super stare—or you and yours who[279] vehemently contend that it is but a brain-image, and yet cry, "ast superstitit aliquid. Est super stitio alicujus quod in externo, id est, in apparenti non apparet."

What is outness, external and the like, but either the generalisation of apparence or the result of a given degree, a comparative intensity of the same? "I see it in my mind's eye," exclaims Hamlet, when his thoughts were in his own purview the same phantom, yea! in a higher intensity, became his father's ghost and marched along the platform. I quoted your own exposition, and dare you with these opinions charge others with superstition? You who deny aught permanent in our being, you with whom the soul, yea, the soul of the soul, our conscience and morality, are but the tune from a fragile barrel-organ played by air and water, and whose life, therefore, must of course be a pointing to—as of a Marcellus or a Hamlet—"Tis here! 'Tis gone!" Were it possible that I could actually believe such a system, I should not be scared from striking it, from its being so majestical!


The old law of England punishes those who dig up the bones of the dead for superstitious or magical purposes, that is, in order to injure the living. What then are they guilty of who uncover the dormitories of the[280] departed, and throw their souls into hell, in order to cast odium on a living truth?


Darwin possesses the epidermis of poetry but not the cutis; the cortex without the liber, alburnum, lignum, or medulla. And no wonder! for the inner bark or liber, alburnum, and wood are one and the same substance, in different periods of existence.


"It is a mile and a half in height." "How much is that in yards or feet?" The mind rests satisfied in producing a correspondency in its own thoughts, and in the exponents of those thoughts. This seems to be a matter purely analytic, not yet properly synthetic. It is rather an interchange of equivalent acts, but not the same acts. In the yard I am prospective; in the mile I seem to be retrospective. Come, a hundred strides more, and we shall have come a mile. This, if true, may be a subtlety, but is it necessarily a trifle? May not many common but false conclusions originate in the neglect of this distinction—in the confounding of objective and subjective logic?


I like salt to my meat so well that I can scarce say grace over meat without salt. But salt to one's salt! Ay! a sparkling, dazzling, lit-up saloon or subterranean minster in a vast[281] mine of rock-salt—what of it?—full of white pillars and aisles and altars of eye-dazzling salt. Well, what of it?—'twere an uncomfortable lodging or boarding-house—in short, all my eye. Now, I am content with a work if it be but my eye and Betty Martin, because, having never heard any charge against the author of the adage, candour obliges me to conclude that Eliza Martin is "sense for certain." In short, never was a metaphor more lucky, apt, ramescent, and fructiferous—a hundred branches, and each hung with a different graft-fruit—than salt as typical of wit—the uses of both being the same, not to nourish, but to season and preserve nourishment. Yea! even when there is plenty of good substantial meat to incorporate with, stout aitch-bone and buttock, still there may be too much; and they who confine themselves to such meals will contract a scorbutic habit of intellect (i.e., a scurvy taste), and, with loose teeth and tender gums, become incapable of chewing and digesting hard matters of mere plain thinking.


It is thus that the Glanvillians reason. First, they assume the facts as objectively as if the question related to the experimentable of our senses. Secondly, they take the imaginative possibility—that is, that the [assumed] facts involve no contradiction, [as if it were] a scien[282]tific possibility. And, lastly, they [advocate] them as proofs of a spiritual world and our own immortality. This last [I hold to] be the greatest insult to conscience and the greatest incongruity with the objects of religion.

N.B.—It is amusing, in all ghost stories, etc., that the recorders are "the farthest in the world from being credulous," or "as far from believing such things as any man."

If a man could pass through Paradise in a dream, and have a flower presented to him as a pledge that his soul had really been there, and if he found that flower in his hand when he awoke—Aye! and what then?

The more exquisite and delicate a flower of joy, the tenderer must be the hand that plucks it.

Floods and general inundations render for the time even the purest springs turbid.

For compassion a human heart suffices; but for full, adequate sympathy with joy, an angel's.


[G] A projected satire, of which, perhaps, the lines headed "A Character" were an instalment. See P. W., 1893, pp. 195-642. Letters of S. T. C., 1895, ii. 631.




Where'er I find the Good, the True, the Fair,
I ask no names—God's spirit dwelleth there!
The unconfounded, undivided Three,
Each for itself, and all in each, to see
In man and Nature, is Philosophy.

S. T. C.


The moon, rushing onward through the coursing clouds, advances like an indignant warrior through a fleeing army; but the amber halo in which she moves—O! it is a circle of Hope. For what she leaves behind her has not lost its radiance as it is melting away into oblivion, while, still, the other semi-circle catches the rich light at her approach, and heralds her ongress.


It is by strength of mind that we are to untwist the tie or copula of the besom of affliction, which not nature but the strength of imagination had twisted round it, and thus resolve it into its component twigs, and conquer[284] in detail "one down and t'other come on"! Dividendo diminuitur—which forms the true ground of the advantage accruing from communicating our griefs to another. We enable ourselves to see them each in its true magnitude.


After re-perusal of my inefficient, yet not feeble efforts in behalf of the poor little white slaves in the cotton-factories, I ask myself, "But still are we not better than the other nations of Christendom?" Yes—Perhaps. I don't know. I dare not affirm it. Better than the French certainly! Mammon versus Moloch and Belial. But Sweden, Norway, Germany, the Tyrol? No.


There is a species of applause scarcely less genial to a poet, whether bard, musician, or artist, than the vernal warmth to the feathered songsters during their nest-building or incubation—a sympathy, an expressed hope, that is the open air in which the poet breathes, and without which the sense of power sinks back on itself like a sigh heaved up from the tightened chest of a sick man. Alas! alas! alas!


Anonymity is now an artifice to acquire celebrity, as a black veil is worn to make a pair of bright eyes more conspicuous.


For the same reasons that we cannot now act by impulses, but must think,[285] so now must every legislator be a man of sound book-learning, because he cannot, if he would, think or act from the simple dictates of unimproved but undepraved common sense. Newspapers, reviews, and the conversation of men who derive their opinions from newspapers and reviews will secure for him artificial opinions, if he does not secure them for himself from purer and more authentic sources. There is now no such being as a country gentleman. Like their relation, the Dodo, the race is extinct, or if by accident one has escaped, it belongs to the Museum, not to active life, or the purposes of active life.


The more I read and reflect on the arguments of the truly philosophical theists and atheists, the more I feel convinced that the ultimate difference is a moral rather than an intellectual one, that the result is an x y z, an acknowledged insufficiency of the known to account for itself, and, therefore, a something unknown—that to which, while the atheist leaves it a blank in the understanding, the theist dedicates his noblest feelings of love and awe, and with which, by a moral syllogism, he connects and unites his conscience and actions. For the words goodness and wisdom are clearly only reflexes of the effect, just as when we call the[286] unknown cause of cold and heat by the name of its effects, and know nothing further. For if we mean that a Being like man, with human goodness and intellect, only magnified, is the cause, that is, that the First Cause is an immense man (as according to Swedenborg and Zinzendorf), then come the insoluble difficulties of the incongruity of qualities whose very essence implies finiteness, with a Being ex hypothesi infinite.


An excellent instance of the abstraction [from objects of the sense] that results from the attention converging to any one object, is furnished by the oily rags, broken saucers, greasy phials, dabs, crusts, and smears of paints in the laboratory of a Raphael, or a Claude Lorraine, or a Van Huysum, or any other great master of the beautiful and becoming. In like manner, the mud and clay in the modelling hand of a Chantrey—what are they to him whose total soul is awake, in his eye as a subject, and before his eye as some ideal of beauty objectively? The various objects of the senses are as little the objects of his senses, as the ink with which the "Lear" was written, existed in the consciousness of a Shakspere.


The humming-moth with its glimmer-mist of rapid unceasing motion before the humble-bee within the flowering bells and cups[287]—and the eagle level with the clouds, himself a cloudy speck, surveys the vale from mount to mount. From the cataract flung on the vale, the broadest fleeces of the snowy foam light on the bank flowers or the water-lilies in the stiller pool below.


The defect of Archbishop Leighton's reasoning is the taking eternity for a sort of time, a baro major, a baron of beef or quarter of lamb, out of which and off which time is cut, as a brisket or shoulder—while, even in common discourse, without any design of sounding the depth of the truth or of weighing the words expressing it in the hair-balance of metaphysics, it would be more convenient to consider eternity the simul et totum as the antitheton of time.


The extraordinary florency of letters under the Spanish Caliphate in connection with the character and capabilities of Mohammedanism has never yet been treated as its importance requires. Halim II, founder of the University of Cordova, and of numerous colleges and libraries throughout Spain, is said to have possessed a library of six hundred thousand MSS., the catalogue filling forty-four volumes. Nor were his successors behind him in zeal and munificence. That the prime article of Islamism, the uni-personality of God, is one cause of the[288] downfall, say rather of the merely meteoric existence of their literary age, I am persuaded, but the exclusive scene (in Spain) suggests many interesting views. With a learned class Mohammedanism could not but pass into Deism, and Deism never did, never can, establish itself as a religion. It is the doctrine of the tri-unity that connects Christianity with philosophy, gives a positive religion a specific interest to the philosopher, and that of redemption to the moralist and psychologist. Predestination, in the plenitude, in which it is equivalent to fatalism, was the necessary alternative and succedaneum of Redemption, and the Incarnation the only preservative against pantheism on one side, and anthropomorphism on the other. The Persian (Europeans in Asia) form of Mohammedanism is very striking in this point of view.


It is not by individual character that an individual can derive just conclusions respecting a community or an age. Conclusions so drawn are the excuse of selfish, narrow and pusillanimous statesmen, who, by dwelling on the kindred baseness or folly of the persons with whom they come in immediate contact, lose all faith in human nature, ignorant that even in these a spark is latent which would light up and consume the worthless overlay in a national moment. The spirit of a race is the character[289] of a people, the sleep or the awakening of which depends on a few minds, pre-ordained for this purpose, and sometimes by the mere removal of the dead weight of a degenerate Court or nobility pressing on the spring. So I doubt not would it be with the Turks, were the Porte and its seraglio conquered by Russia. But the spirit of a race ought never to be supposed extinct, but on the other hand no more or other ought to be expected than the race contains in itself. The true cause of the irrecoverable fall of Rome is to be found in the fact, that Rome was a city, a handful of men that multiplied its subjects incomparably faster than its citizens, so that the latter were soon dilute and lost in the former. On a similar principle colonists in modern times degenerate by excision from their race (the ancient colonies were buds). This, I think, applies to the Neapolitans and most of the Italian States. A nest of republics keep each other alive; but a patchwork of principalities has the effect of excision by insulation, or rather by compressure. How long did the life of Germany doze under these ligatures! Yet did we not despair wrongfully of the people? The spirit of the race survived, of which literature was a part. Hence I dare not despair of Greece, because it has been barbarised and enslaved, but not split up into puny independent governments under Princes of their own race.[290] The Neapolitans have always been a conquered people, and degenerates in the original sense of the word, de genere—they have lost their race, though what it was is uncertain. Lastly, the individual in all things is the prerogative of the divine knowledge. What it is, our eyes can see only by what it has in common, and this can only be seen in communities where neither excision, nor ligature, nor commixture exists. Despotism and superstition will not extinguish the character of a race, as Russia testifies. But again, take care to understand that character, and expect no other fruit than the root contains in its nature.


Had I proceeded, in concert with R. Southey, with the "Flight and Return of Mohammed," [1799] I had intended to introduce a disputation between Mahomet, as the representative of unipersonal Theism with the Judaico-Christian machinery of angels, genii, and prophets, an idolater with his gods, heroes, and spirits of the departed mighty, and a fetish-worshipper who adored the invisible alone, and held no religion common to all men or any number of men other than as they chanced at the same moment to be acted on by the same influence—even as when a hundred ant-hills are in motion under the same burst of sunshine. And, still, chiefly for the sake of the last[291] scheme, I should like to do something of the kind. My enlightened fetish-divine would have been an Okenist, a zoo-magnetist and (a priest of) the night-side of Nature.

[For the fragment entitled "Mahomet," see P. W., 1893, p. 139, and editor's Note, p. 615.]


Among the countless arguments against the Paleyans state, this too—Can a wise moral legislator have made prudence the true principle-ground, and guide of moral conduct, where in almost all cases in which there is contemplation to act wrong the first appearances of prudence are in favour of immorality, and, in order to ground the contrary on a principle of prudence, it is necessary to refine, to calculate, to look far onward into an uncertain future? Is this a guide, or primary guide, that for ever requires a guide against itself? Is it not a strange system which sets prudence against prudence? Compare this with the Law of Conscience—Is it not its specific character to be immediate, positive, unalterable? In short, a priori, state the requisites of a moral guide, and apply them first to prudence, and then to the law of pure reason or conscience, and ask if we need fear the result if the Judge is pure from all bribes and prejudices.

What then are the real dictates of prudence as drawn from every man's experience in late[292] manhood, and so lured from the intoxication of youth, hope, and love? How cold, how dead'ning, what a dire vacuum they would leave in the soul, if the high and supreme sense of duty did not form a root out of which new prospects budded. What, I say, is the clear dictate of prudence in the matter of friendship? Assuredly to like only, and never to be so attached as to be stripped naked by the loss. A friend may be a great-coat, a beloved a couch, but never, never our necessary clothing, our only means of quiet heart-repose! And, yet, with this the mind of a generous man would be so miserable, that prudence itself would fight against prudence, and advise him to drink off the draught of Hope, spite of the horrid and bitter dregs of disappointment, with which the draught will assuredly finish.

Though I have said that duty is a consolation, I have not affirmed that the scar of the wound of disappointed love and insulted, betrayed fidelity would be removed in this life. No! it will not—nay, the very duty must for ever keep alive feelings the appropriate objects of which are indeed in another world; but yet our human nature cannot avoid at times the connection of those feelings with their original or their first forms and objects; and so far, therefore, from removing the scar, will often and often make the wound open and bleed afresh. But, still, we[293] know that the feeling is not objectless, that the counterfeit has a correspondent genuine, and this is the comfort.


Canzone XVIII. fra le Rime di Dante is a poem of wild and interesting images, intended as an enigma, and to me an enigma it remains, spite of all my efforts. Yet it deserves transcription and translation. A.D. 1806 [? 1807].

"Tre donne intorno al cuor mi son venute," &c.

[After the four first lines the handwriting is that of my old, dear, and honoured friend, Mr. Wade, of Bristol.—S. T. C.]

Ramsgate, Sept. 2nd, 1819.—I begin to understand the above poem, after an interval from 1805, during which no year passed in which I did not reperuse, I might say construe, parse, and spell it, twelve times at least—such a fascination had it, spite of its obscurity! It affords a good instance, by the bye, of that soul of universal significance in a true poet's composition, in addition to the specific meaning.


Great minds can and do create the taste of the age, and one of the contingent causes which warp the taste of nations and ages is, that men of genius in part yield to it, and in part are acted on by the taste of the age.

Common minds may be compared to the component drops of the stream of[294] life—men of genius to the large and small bubbles. What if they break? they are still as good as the rest—drops of water.


In youth our happiness is hope; in age the recollection of the hopes of youth. What else can there be?—for the substantial mind, for the I, what else can there be? Pleasure? Fruition? Filter hope and memory from pleasure, and the more entire the fruition the more is it the death of the I. A neutral product results that may exist for others, but no longer for itself—a coke or a slag. To make the object one with us, we must become one with the object—ergo, an object. Ergo, the object must be itself a subject—partially a favourite dog, principally a friend, wholly God, the Friend. God is Love—that is, an object that is absolutely subject (God is a spirit), but a subject that for ever condescends to become the object for those that meet Him subjectively. [As in the] Eucharist, [He is] verily and truly present to the Faithful, neither [by a] trans nor con, but [by] substantiation.


We might as well attempt to conceive more than three dimensions of space, as to imagine more than three kinds of living[295] existence—God, man, and beast. And even of these the last (division) is obscure, and scarce endures a fixed contemplation without passing into an unripe or degenerated humanity.


My mother told my wife that I was a year younger, and that there was a blunder made either in the baptismal register itself or in the transcript sent for my admission into Christ's Hospital; and Mrs. C., who is older than myself, believes me only 48. Be this as it may, in life, if not in years, I am, alas! nearer to 68.

[S. T. C. was born on October 21, 1772. Consequently, on October 20, 1819, he was not yet forty-seven. He entered his forty-eighth year October 21, 1819.]


N.B.—A sonnet on the child collecting shells and pebbles on the sea-shore or lake-side, and carrying each with a fresh shout of delight and admiration to the mother's apron, who smiles and assents to each "This is pretty!" "Is not that a nice one?" and then when the prattler is tired of its conchozetetic labours lifts up her apron and throws them out on her apron. Such are our first discoveries both in science and philosophy.—S. T. Coleridge, Oct. 21, 1819.


Found Mr. G. with Hartley in the garden, attempting to explain to[296] himself and to Hartley a feeling of a something not present in Milton's works, that is, in "Paradise Lost,"Paradise Regained," and "Samson Agonistes," which he did feel delightedly in the "Lycidas," and (as I added afterwards) in the Italian sonnets compared with the English. And this appeared to me to be the poet appearing and wishing to appear as the poet, and, likewise, as the man, as much as, though more rare than, the father, the brother, the preacher, and the patriot. Compare with Milton, Chaucer's "Fall of the Leaf" and Spenser throughout, and you cannot but feel what Gillman meant to convey. What is the solution? This, I believe—but I must premise that there is a synthesis of intellectual insight including the mental object, the organ of the correspondent being indivisible, and this (O deep truth!) because the objectivity consists in the universality of its subjectiveness—as when it sees, and millions see even so, and the seeing of the millions is what constitutes to A and to each of the millions the objectivity of the sight, the equivalent to a common object—a synthesis of this, I say, and of proper external object which we call fact. Now, this it is which we find in religion. It is more than philosophical truth—it is other and more than historical fact; it is not made up by the addition of the one to[297] the other, but it is the identity of both, the co-inherence.

Now, this being understood, I proceed to say, using the term objectivity (arbitrarily, I grant), for this identity of truth and fact, that Milton hid the poetry in or transformed (not trans-substantiated) the poetry into this objectivity, while Shakspere, in all things, the divine opposite or antithetic correspondent of the divine Milton, transformed the objectivity into poetry.

Mr. G. observed as peculiar to the Hamlet, that it alone, of all Shakspere's plays, presented to him a moving along before him; while in others it was a moving, indeed, but with which he himself moved equally in all and with all, and without any external something by which the motion was manifested, even as a man would move in a balloon—a sensation of motion, but not a sight of moving and having been moved. And why is this? Because of all the characters of Shakspere's plays Hamlet is the only character with which, by contra-distinction from the rest of the dramatis personæ, the fit and capable reader identifies himself as the representation of his own contemplative and strictly proper and very own being (action, etc., belongs to others, the moment we call it our own)—hence the events of the play, with all the characters, move because you stand still. In the other plays, your identity is equally diffused[298] over all. Of no parts can you say, as in Hamlet, they are moving. But ever it is we, or that period and portion of human action, which is unified into a dream, even as in a dream the personal unity is diffused and severalised (divided to the sight though united in the dim feeling) into a sort of reality. Even so [it is with] the styles of Milton and Shakspere—the same weight of effect from the exceeding felicity (subjectively) of Shakspere, and the exceeding propriety (extra arbitrium) of Milton.


The best plan, I think, for a man who would wish his mind to continue growing is to find, in the first place, some means of ascertaining for himself whether it does or no; and I can think of no better than early in life, say after three-and-twenty, to procure gradually the works of some two or three great writers—say, for instance, Bacon, Jeremy Taylor, and Kant, with the De Republic‚, De Legibus, the Sophistes and Politicus of Plato, and the Poetics, Rhetorics, and Politics of Aristotle—and amidst all other reading, to make a point of reperusing some one, or some weighty part of some one of these every four or five years, having from the beginning a separate note-book for each of these writers, in which your impressions, suggestions, conjectures, doubts and judgments are to be recorded with date of each, and so[299] worded as to represent most sincerely the exact state of your convictions at the time, such as they would be if you did not (which this plan will assuredly make you do sooner or later) anticipate a change in them from increase of knowledge. "It is possible that I am in the wrong, but so it now appears to me, after my best attempts; and I must therefore put it down in order that I may find myself so, if so I am." It would make a little volume to give in detail all the various moral as well as intellectual advantages that would result from the systematic observation of the plan. Diffidence and hope would reciprocally balance and excite each other. A continuity would be given to your being, and its progressiveness ensured. All your knowledge otherwise obtained, whether from books or conversation or experience, would find centres round which it would organise itself. And, lastly, the habit of confuting your past self, and detecting the causes and occasions of your having mistaken or overlooked the truth, will give you both a quickness and a winning kindness, resulting from sympathy, in exposing the errors of others, as if you were an alter ego, of his mistake. And such, indeed, will your antagonist appear to you, another past self—in all points in which the falsity is not too plainly a derivation from a corrupt heart and the predominance of bad passion or worldly interests[300] overlaying the love of truth as truth. And even in this case the liveliness with which you will so often have expressed yourself in your private note-books, in which the words, unsought for and untrimmed because intended for your own eye, exclusively, were the first-born of your first impressions, when you were either enkindled by admiration of your writer, or excited by a humble disputing with him reimpersonated in his book, will be of no mean rhetorical advantage to you, especially in public and extemporary debate or animated conversation.


Did you deduce your own being? Even that is less absurd than the conceit of deducing the Divine being? Never would you have had the notion, had you not had the idea—rather, had not the idea worked in you like the memory of a name which we cannot recollect and yet feel that we have and which reveals its existence in the mind only by a restless anticipation and proves its a priori actuality by the almost explosive instantaneity with which it is welcomed and recognised on its re-emersion out of the cloud, or its re-ascent from the horizon of consciousness.


I should like to know whether or how far the delight I feel, and have always felt, in adages or aphorisms of universal or very exten[301]sive application is a general or common feeling with men, or a peculiarity of my own mind. I cannot describe how much pleasure I have derived from "Extremes meet," for instance, or "Treat everything according to its nature," and, the last, "Be"! In the last I bring all inward rectitude to its test, in the former all outward morality to its rule, and in the first all problematic results to their solution, and reduce apparent contraries to correspondent opposites. How many hostile tenets has it enabled me to contemplate as fragments of truth, false only by negation and mutual exclusion?

IGNORE THYSELF July 12, 1822

I have myself too often of late used the phrase "rational self-love" the same as "enlightened self-love." O no more of this! What have love, reason or light to do with self, except as the dark and evil spirit which it is given to them to overcome! Soul-love, if you please. O there is more stuff of thought in our simple and pious fore-elders' adjuration, "Take pity of your poor soul!" than in all the volumes of Paley, Rochefoucauld, and Helvetius!


N.B.—The injurious manner in which men of genius are treated, not only as authors, but even when they are in social company. A is believed to be, or talked of as, a man of unusual talent. People are anxious to[302] meet him. If he says little or nothing, they wonder at the report, never considering whether they themselves were fit either to excite, or if self-excited to receive and comprehend him. But with the simplicity of genius he attributes more to them than they have, and they put questions that cannot be answered but by a return to first principles, and then they complain of him as not conversing, but lecturing. "He is quite intolerable," "Might as well be hearing a sermon." In short, in answer to some objection, A replies, "Sir, this rests on the distinction between an idea and an image, and, likewise, its difference from a perfect conception." "Pray, sir, explain." Because he does not and cannot [state the case as concisely as if he had been appealed to about a hand at] whist, 'tis "Lord! how long he talks," and they never ask themselves, Did this man force himself into your company? Was he not dragged into it? What is the practical result? That the man of genius should live as much as possible with beings that simply love him, from relationship or old association, or with those that have the same feelings with himself; but in all other company he will do well to cease to be the man of genius, and make up his mind to appear dull or commonplace as a companion, to be the most silent except upon the most trivial subjects of any in the company, to turn off questions with a[303] joke or a pun as not suiting a wine-table, and to trust only to his writings.


Few die of a broken heart, and these few (the surgeons tell us) know nothing of it, and, dying suddenly, leave to the dissector the first discovery. O this is but the shallow remark of a hard and unthinking prosperity! Have you never seen a stick broken in the middle, and yet cohering by the rind? The fibres, half of them actually broken and the rest sprained and, though tough, unsustaining? O many, many are the broken-hearted for those who know what the moral and practical heart of the man is!

VOX HIEMALIS Thursday, Sept. 30, 1824

Now the breeze through the stiff and brittle-becoming foliage of the trees counterfeits the sound of a rushing stream or water-flood suddenly sweeping by. The sigh, the modulated continuousness of the murmur is exchanged for the confusion of overtaking sounds—the self-evolution of the One, for the clash or stroke of ever-commencing contact of the multitudinous, without interspace, by confusion. The short gusts rustle and the ear feels the unlithesome dryness, before the eye detects the coarser, duller, though deeper green, deadened and not [yet] awakened into the hues of decay—echoes of spring from the sepulchral vault of winter.[304] The aged year, conversant with the forms of its youth and forgetting all the intervals, feebly reproduces them [as it were, from], memory.

CONSTANCY Friday, June 9, 1826

"Constancy lives in realms above." This exclusion of constancy from the list of earthly virtues may be a poet's exaggeration, but, certainly, it is of far rarer occurrence in all relations of life than the young and warm-hearted are willing to believe, but in cases of exclusive attachment (that is, in Love, properly so-called, and yet distinct from Friendship), and in the highest form of the Virtue, it is so rare that I cannot help doubting whether an instance of mutual constancy in effect ever existed. For there are two sorts of constancy, the one negative, where there is no transfer of affection, where the bond of attachment is not broken though it may be attenuated to a thread—this may be met with, not so seldom, and, where there is goodness of heart, it may be expected—but the other sort, or positive constancy, where the affection endures in the same intensity with the same or increased tenderness and nearness, of this it is that I doubt whether once in an age an instance occurs where A feels it toward B, and B feels it towards A, and vice vers‚.

FLOWERS AND LIGHT April 18, 1826

Spring flowers, I have observed, look best in the day, and by sunshine: but summer and autumnal flower-pots by lamp or candle[305]-light. I have now before me a flower-pot of cherry-blossoms, polyanthuses, double violets, periwinkles, wall-flowers, but how dim and dusky they look! The scarlet anemone is an exception, and three or four of them with all the rest of the flower-glass sprays of white blossoms, and one or two periwinkles for the sake of the dark green leaves, green stems, and flexible elegant form, make a lovely group both by sun and by candle-light.

Grove, Highgate.


What an interval! Heard the singing birds this morning in our garden for the first time this year, though it rained and blew fiercely; but the long frost has broken up, and the wind, though fierce, was warm and westerly.

THE IDEA OF LIFE May 5, 1827

To the right understanding of the most awfully concerning declaration of Holy Writ there has been no greater obstacle than the want of insight into the nature of Life—what it is and what it is not. But in order to this, the mind must have been raised to the contemplation of the Idea—the life celestial, to wit—or the distinctive essence and character of the Holy Spirit. Here Life is Love—communicative, outpouring love. Ergo, the terrestrial or the Life of Nature ever the shadow and opposite[306] of the Divine is appropriative, absorbing appetence. But the great mistake is, that the soul cannot continue without life; for, if so, with what propriety can the portion of the reprobate soul be called Death? What if the natural life have two possible terminations—true Being and the falling back into the dark Will?


The painter-parson, Rev. Mr. Judkin, is about to show off a Romish priest converted to the Protestant belief, on Sunday next at his church, and asked of me (this day, at Mr. Gray's, Friday, 27th July, 1827) whether I knew of any form of recantation but that of Archbishop Tenison. I knew nothing of Tenison's or any other, but expressed my opinion that no other recantation ought to be required than a declaration that he admitted no outward authority superior to, or co-ordinate with, the canonical Scriptures, and no interpreter that superseded or stood in the place of the Holy Spirit, enlightening the mind of each true believer, according to his individual needs. I can conceive a person holding all the articles that distinguish the Romish from the Protestant conception, with this one exception; and, yet, if he did make this exception, and professed to believe them, because he thought they were contained in, or to be fairly inferred from, right reason and the Scriptures, I should consider him as true a Protestant as[307] Luther, Knox, or Calvin, and a far better than Laud and his compeers, however meanly I might think of him as a philosopher and theologian. The laying so great a stress on transubstantiation I have long regarded as the great calamity or error of the Reformation—if not constrained by circumstances, the great error—or, if constrained, the great calamity.

THE NIGHT IS AT HAND August 1, 1828

The sweet prattle of the chimes—counsellors pleading in the court of Love—then the clock, the solemn sentence of the mighty Judge—long pause between each pregnant, inappellable word, too deeply weighed to be reversed in the High-Justice-Court of Time and Fate. A more richly solemn sound than this eleven o'clock at Antwerp I never heard—dead enough to be opaque as central gold, yet clear enough to be the mountain air.




Abergavenny, The, 132

Achilles, 25

Adam, 51

Adar River, 261

Africa, 70, 71

Alexander the Great, 256

Alfieri, 230

Allen, Robert, 139, 140 n

Allston, Washington, 167, 175

Anacreon, 183, 263

Antonio, St., 78

Antwerp, 307

Aphrodite, 192

Apollo, 110

Ariosto, 151, 230

Aristotle, 183, 222, 268, 298

Arne, 270

Arrian, 183

Augustine, St., 179

Bacon, F. (Lord Verulam), 21, 79, 151, 177, 183, 298

Ball, Sir Alexander, 206

Ball, Lady, 92

Barrow, J., 26, 47

Bassenthwaite, 18

Barclay, W. ("Argenis"), 207

Beaumont, Francis, 207

Beaumont, Sir George, 67, 79, 145

Beaumont, Lady, 67

Beddoes, Thomas, M.D., 239 n

Bentham, 127

Berkeley, Bishop, 183

Bernard, Saint, 273

Bernouilli, 152

Beverley, 94

Blackmore, 24, 270

Blount, Sir Edward, 63

Blumenbach, 67

Boccaccio, 46

Bonnet, 152

Borrowdale, 34, 35, 52

Bosch, 182

Boyer, J., 14

Brandelhow, 46

Bristol, 293 n

Brunck, 182

Brougham, Lord, 250

Brown, Dr. J., 14

Browne, William, 158 and n

Bruno, Giordano, 16, 17 n, 72, 73, 151

Buffon, 209

Buonaparte, 75

Burdett, Sir F., 174, 255

Burton, Robert, 25

Cain, 51

Cairns, M. J., 9

[310] Calvin, 307

Cambridge, 214

Campbell, T., 156

Campeachy, Bay of, 208

Caracciolo, 87

Caernarvon Castle, 71

Castle Crag, 34

Castlerigg, 43

Catullus, 165

Cecilia, St., 200

Ceres, 110

Cervantes, 152

Chantrey, 286

Charlemagne, 170

Chartreuse, 119

Chaucer, 296

Chersites, Theodoras, 21

China, 29, 132, 151

Christ's Hospital, 46, 295

Cicero, 23 n

Circe, 192

Clarkson, Thomas, 24

Clarkson, Mrs., 167

Claudian, 165

Clotharius, 211

Cobbett, W., 76, 255

Cochrane (Earl of Dundonald). 237

Coleorton, 171 n

Coleridge, Berkeley, 120

Coleridge, Derwent, 18, 29, 120

Coleridge, Hartley, 3, 13, 15, 24, 40, 41, 65, 66, 96, 135, 296

Coleridge, Colonel James, 158 n.

Coleridge, S. T., 9, 23 n, 64 n, 75 n, 103, 140 n, 157 and n,
158 n, 169, 177 n, 195 n, 196 n, 203 n, 211 n, 225 n,
236 n, 242 n, 246 n, 248 n, 263 n, 273 n, 293 n, 295 and n

Coleridge, Sara (Mrs. S. T.), 9, 218, 295

Coleridge, Sara (Mrs. H. N. Coleridge), 120, 208 n.

Collins, 5

Combe, S., 129

Combe Satchfield, 158 n.

Condillac, 79

Constantine, Budæo-Tusan, 182

Cordova, 287

Cottle, Joseph, 60, 86, 235

Courier Office, 193, 203 n

Cowper, William, 121, 128

Cuthill, Mr., 182, 183

Dampier, Travels of, 208

Dante, 25, 151, 229, 230, 293

Daphnis, D'Orvilles, 183

Darwin, Dr., 5, 92, 151, 280

David, King, 235

Davy, Sir H., 218

Dennison, Mr., 144, 146

De Quincey, 177 n, 183

Diogenes, 97

Domitian, 159

Drayton, 154

Dresden, 85

Dryden, 159

Duke Richard, 158 n

Dundas (Lord Melville), 151

Durham, 35, 36

Dyer, George, 9 n, 67

Edgeworth, Miss, 117

Elizabeth, Queen, 231

[311] Empedocles, 163

Eolus, 193

Epictetus, 183

Erigena, Joannes Scotus, 58

Escot, 157 n

Etna, 114

Euphormio, 207

Exeter, 67

Favell, 28 n

Fay, Benedict, 154

Fénelon, 133

Fichte, 106, 133, 169, 183

Fielding, 166, 167

Flaminius, 207, 263

Fletcher, John, 207

Fracastorius, 148, 207, 263

France, 75, 119, 120, 152

Geddes, Dr. Alexander, 109 n

Geneva, Lake of, 261

Genoa, 7

Germany, 8 n, 151, 169, 284, 289

Gibbon, 272

Gillman, James, 296, 297

Gillman, Mrs., 273

Glanvillians, The, 281

Godwin, W., 13, 66, 68

Goethe, 229

GŲttingen, 67

Grasmere, 76, 132

Gray, Thomas, 5, 270

Greece, 110, 177, 206, 289

Greenough, 68

Greta River, 19, 29, 43, 44

Greta Hall, 218 n

Greville, Fulk, 17

Grysdale Pike, 19, 46

Guarini, 191

Guyon, Madame, 133, 152

Haarlem, 67

Halim II., 287

Hamburg, 101

Harrington, J., 79, 151

Hartz, 211 and n

Hayley, 151

Hazlitt, W., 9, 35, 36

Hebrides, 129

Helvellyn, 52

Helvetius, 301

Henry, Prince, 158

Herbert's, St., Island, 32

Hobbes, 13, 183

Holcroft, 66, 68

Homer, 207, 270

Horace, 176

Hume, David, 24, 79, 102, 151, 272

Huss, 215

Hutchinson, Mary (Mrs. Wordsworth), 8 n, 20

Hutchinson, Sarah, 8 n

India, 132

Ireland, 177

Italy, 152, 229

Java, 271

Jennings, J., 60

Johnson, Dr., 115, 151, 155, 272

Jonson, Ben, 207

Judkin, Rev. Mr., 306

Kant, 12, 106, 151, 169, 183

Keswick, 54 n, 101

Klopstock, 101, 229

Knox, John, 164, 307

Lamb, Charles, 66, 140 n.

Latrigg, 60 n

[312] Laud, 307

Lavater, 223

Leckie, 183

Leibnitz, 147, 151, 152, 183

Leighton, 287

Lessing, 151

Linnæus, 268

Lloyd, Charles, 107

Lloyd, David, 230

Locke, 24, 151, 155, 183, 185

Loch Leven, 208

Lodore, 34

London, 9, 28, 194

Lorraine, Claude, 286

Lupus, 211

Luther, 11, 152, 215, 239, 307

Lyceum, 193

Lyonnet, 94

Mackintosh, Sir J., 6, 126, 198

Malone, E., 88, 89 n

Malta, 75 n, 83, 87, 98, 104, 107, 130, 140 n, 144, 187, 197

Malthus, Rev. J., 64

Marathon, 74 n

Marini, G. B., 191

Martial, 159

Massinger, 207

Mediterranean, 85, 109

Metastasio, 166, 229

Middleton, Sir Hugh, 250

Milton, 14, 24, 72, 73, 120, 151, 152, 159, 161, 215 n, 229, 253, 271, 296, 297, 298

Mohammed, 290, 291 n.

MoliŤre, 152

Montagu, Basil, 218 n.

Moses, 9, 268

Mylius, Johann Christoph., 96

Naples, King of, 87

Naucratius, 21

Nelson, Lord, 237

Newlands, 52

Newmarket, 168

New River, 168

Newton, Sir Isaac, 214

Nile, 20

Norway, 284

Okenist, An, 291

Orleans, 211

Otter River, 29

Otterton, 158 n

Ottery St. Mary, 29, 157 n, 158 n

Ovid, 165

Paine, Tom, 226

Paley, Archdeacon, 35, 151, 155, 265, 301

Paracelsus, 14, 232

Parisatis, 176

Parkinson (Theatrum Botanicum), 59

Pascal, 152

Pasley, Captain, 145, 154

Paul, Jean (Richter), 235

Paul, St., 93, 163

Penelope, Nature a, 100

Peter, St., 215

Petrarch, 262, 263 n

Picts, The, 129

Pindar, 168

Pitt, 151

Plato, 31, 133, 183, 298

[313] Plotinus, 48, 49, 183

Polyclete, 192

Poole, T., 70, 153

Pope, 151, 166, 233

Porphyry, 183

Port Royal, 208

Porte, The, 289

Portugal, 140 n

Price, Dr., 167

Priestley, Dr., 151, 155

Prince, The Black, 71

Proclus, 17, 63, 183

Proserpine, 110

Psyche, 89, 109, 142

Pygmalion, 192

Pyramids, The, 258

Pythagoras, 55, 231

Quintilian, 23 n

Raleigh, Sir W., 148, 250

Raphael, 286

Ray (or Wray), John, 35, 36

Reignia, Captain, 89

Reimarus, Herman Samuel, 91 n, 92

Rhone River, 261

Richardson, Samuel, 166, 167

Rickman, J., 67

Robertson, William, 272

Rochefoucauld, 301

Rock, Captain (son of), 208

Rogers, Samuel, 156

Rome, Church of, 58, 124, 215

Rome, 110, 129, 206, 289

Russia, 170, 289

Scapula, 182

Scarlett (James Lord Abinger), 198

Schelling, 169, 183

Schiller, 150, 161, 181, 211 n, 229

Scott, Sir Walter, 74 n

Scotus, Duns, 222

Sens, 211

Shakspere, 21, 24, 71, 72, 73,
88, 89 n, 97, 108, 115,
127, 128, 145, 147, 150,
151, 152, 161, 180, 286,
297, 298

Sharp, Grenville, 250

Sharp, Richard, 158, 198

Sheridan, R. B., 41, 177

Shield, 270

Sidney, Sir Philip, 17, 151

Simonides, 163

Skiddaw, 18, 19, 52

Smith, Robert, 198

Smith, Sydney, 198

Sorel, Dr., 107

Sotheby, William, 53

South, 47

Southey, 6, 28 n, 36, 107, 158 n, 221, 290

Spain, 70, 152, 287

Spenser, 296

Spinoza, 57, 81, 183

Staunton, Sir G., 271

Stephen's, St., 211

Stephen's Thesaurus, 182

Stewart, Sir James, 1

Stoddart (Dr. afterwards Sir J.), 74, 75 n, 107, 140 n, 167

Stowey, Upper, 143

Stowey, Nether, 60 n

Strabo, Geographicus, 179

Strada, Prolusions of, 183

Strozzi, Giambatista, 225

[314] Stuart, Daniel, 195

Sweden, 284

Swedenborg, 286

Swift, Dean, 24, 151, 164

Swinside, 19

Switzerland, 129

Syracuse, 95

Tantalus, 234

Taylor, Dorothy, 158 n

Taylor, Frances, 158 n

Taylor, Jeremy, 12, 20, 76, 298

Taylor, Thomas, 17

Teme, Valley of, 26

Tenison, Archbishop, 306

Theophrastus, 268

Tiberius, 37

Tibullus, 165

Tobin, J., 68, 139, 140 n

Tyrol, The, 284

Underwood, Mr., 68

Unzer, D., 94

Valetta, 75 n, 144

Van Huysum, 286

Varrius, 134

Vida, 263

Vincent, Captain, 134

Virgil, 263

Virginia, 94

Voltaire, 152

Voss, 151, 229

Vossius, 134

Wade, Mr., 293 n

Wedgwood, T., 27, 91

Whinlatter, 46, 50

White, Mr. (of Clare Hall, Camb.), 225

Wickliffe, 215

Wieland, 229

Wilberforce, 250

Willoughby, Lord, 231

Wilson, John, 60 n

Windybrow, 60 n

Withop Fells, 47

Wollstonecraft, Mary, 66

Wordsworth, Dorothy, 60 n

Wordsworth, John, 132

Wordsworth, William, 4, 10 n, 30, 35, 36, 60 n, 70, 71,
79, 101, 131, 137, 138 n, 147, 151, 163, 169, 171 n,
201 n, 207, 208 n, 221, 251 n

Wyndham, 41, 237

Zinzendorf, 286



Note.Brief paragraphs and sentences to which no title has been given, in the text will be found indexed under the following headings.

Abstruse Research, 53-56

Anecdotes, A Sheaf of, 66-68

Aphorisms and Pithy Sentences, 253-256

Comparisons and Contrasts, 5-7

Country and Town, 28-29

Dreams and Shadows, 172-173

Duty and Experience, 2-3

For the Soother in Absence, 84-85; 86-87; 95-97; 99-100; 115-118; 147-150; 159-161; 162-165; 175-180

Hints for The Friend, 209, 210; 221-223; 230-233

Observations and Reflections, 17-21

Seriores Rosæ, 274

Things Visible and Invisible, 7-14

Thoughts, a Crowd of, 58-61

Thoughts and Fancies, 22-25

Transcripts from my Velvet Pocket Books, 26-28



Abstruse Research, 53-55
Face, the phantom of, 54
Eye-spectra, 55
Reluctance of mind to analyse, 53
Soul within the body. Window at Keswick, 54

A bliss, &c., 264

Adam's death, 51

Alas! they had been friends, &c., 62

Allston, To, 169

All thoughts, all passions, &c., 224

A man's a man, &c., 51

Analogy, 89-91

Anecdote, a genuine, 218

Anecdotes, a Sheaf of, 66-68
Beaumont, Sir G., and gauze spectacles, 67
Beaumont, Lady, her prayers, 67
GŲttingen and the hospes, 67
Godwin, Holcroft, and Underwood, 68
Holcroft and M. Wollstonecraft, 66
Exeter, the organ pipe, 67
Lamb, Charles, a call upon, 66
Rickman and George Dyer, 67

Anticipations in Nature, &c., 136

Aphorisms and Adages, 300-301

Aphorisms and Pithy Sentences, 253-256
Bookmaking, 256
Burdett, Sir Francis, 255
Catamaran, man compared with, 253
Convalescence without love, 254
Half-reconciliation, 254
Hunter, the light of his torch, 255
[317]Love, inspired by superiority, 253
Money, the depreciation of, 254
Peninsulating river, 255
Philosophy, its plummet-line, 255
Sun, the rosy fingers of, 254
Vision and appetite, 255

Architecture and Climate, 194

Art, the pyramid in, 98
An afterthought, 99

As the sparks fly upward, 110

Ascend a step, etc., 158-159

Aspiration, a pious, 213

Association, 226

Association, of streamy, 55

A time to cry out, 220-221

Attention and sensation, 128

Auri sacra fames, 44

Ave Phœbe Imperator, 63

Being, the three estates of, 294

Bells, concerning, 210-212
Clotharius, 211
Latin distichs, 210
Names of bells, 211
Passing bells, 211
Waggon-horse, &c., in the Hartz, 211
Note on Schiller's 'Song of the Bell,' &c., 211

Bibliological memoranda, 182-183

Bird, the captive, 193

Birds caged, especially the robin, 194

Bliss, a land of, 286-287

Book-knowledge and experience, 129

Book-learning for legislators, 285

Books in the air, 206-207

Bright October, 34

Browne, William, of Ottery and Note, 157-158

Bruno, Giordano, 16, 17

Bulls in action, 156

But love is indestructible, 250

Candour another name for cant[318], 75

Catholic reunion, 215

Cast not your pearls, &c., 80-81

Ceres, the conversion of, 110

C'est magnifique, etc., 258

Children of a larger growth, 204

Christabel, a hint for, 223

Chymical analogies, 204-206

Clerical errors, the psychology of, 181-182

Cogitare est laborare, 66

Communicable, the, 32

Comparisons and Contrasts, 5-7
Constitution, the, and rotten cheese, 6
Eyes, meaning glances from, 6
Genoa, "Liberty" on prisons of, 7
Gratitude, the curse of, 7
Intellect, snails of, 6
Mackintosh, the style of, 6
Malice, 6
Minds, pygmy, 6
Poetry, the effect of, 5
Sot, the prayer of, 7
Southey, an ostrich, 6
Trout, his likeness to, 5
Truth, the blindness of, 7
Two dew-drops, 6
Worldly-minded men, like owls, 7

Columba, St., 129

Conceits, verbal, 108

Conscience and immortality, 201-3

Constancy, etc., 304

Conversation, his, a nimiety, &c., 103-104

Converts, the intolerance of, 74

Corruptio optimi pessima, 92, 263

Cottle, an apology for, 86

Cottle, free version of the Psalms, 235

Country and Town, 28-29
Calf-lowing, a reminiscence of Ottery, 29
Coloured bottles, reflections of, 28
Country, depraving effect of, 25
[319]Lecture, dream concerning a, 29
Smiles on men and mountains, 29
Stones like life, and life motionless as stones, 28

Critics, immature, 128

Criticism, a principle of, 30

Criticism, minute, 167

Darwin's "Botanical Garden," 280

Death, the realisation of, 139-140

Delusion, an optical, 47

Devil, the, with a memory, 161-162

Devil, the, a recantation, 259-260

Distemper's worst calamity, 126-127

Distinction in union, 184

Document humain, 168

Dream, a, and a parenthesis, 40

Dreams, order in, 134

Dreams and Shadows, 172-173
Idea, the descent of, 172
Taper's cone of flame, a simile, 172
"As in life's noisiest hour," etc., 172
"You mould my thoughts," etc., 173

Drip, drip, drip, drip, 165

Duty and Experience, 2, 3
Human happiness, 3
Chymistry, a noble, 3
Metaphysical opinion in anguish, 3
Misfortunes a fertilising rain, 2
Pleasure and pain, 2
Real pain a panacea, 2

Duty and self-interest, 130-131

Early death, 44, 45

Easter, the Northern, 138

Education, of, 227-228

Ego, the, 15

Egotism, 14

Empyrean, the, 125

England, the righteousness of, 284

Enthusiasm, 139

Entity, a superfluous[320], 217

Entomology v. ontology, 94

Epigram, a divine, 273

Error, a life-long (his age), 295

Etymology, 123-124

Evil, the origin of, 36-42

Evil produces evil, 131

Experience and book knowledge, 129-130

Experiment, a doubtful, 56

Extremes meet, 52, 53

Facts and Fiction, 75

Fallings from us vanishings, 180-181

"Floods and general inundations," 282

First thoughts and friendship, 251, 252

Flowers and light, 304, 305

Flowers of speech, 269, 270

Form and feeling, 101

Formula, a comprehensive, 306-307

"For compassion a human heart," 282

For the soother in absence, 84-85
Dreams and reveries, 85
Dresden, the engraved cherry-stone, 85
Mediterranean, the white sails on, 85
Outwardly happy but no joy within, 84
Sunset in winter, and summer-set, 84

For the soother in absence, 86-87
Caracciolo and his floating corse, 87
Final causes, 87
Moonlight, crinkled circles on the sea, 87
Religion repels the gay, 86
Vicious thoughts and rhyme-terminations, 86
Diogenes, why not? 97
Interest and satisfaction, 97

For the soother in absence, 95-97
Language, its growth, etc., 95
Medical romance—a title, 96
Mylius, 96
Poets the bridlers of delight, 96
Quintetta, the, in the Syracuse Opera, 95
[321]Recollections of pre-existent state, 96
Tarantula dance of argumentation, 97

For the soother in absence, 99-100
Quisque sui faber, 99
Nature a Penelope, 100
Root to the crown—growth of the flower, 99

For the soother in absence, 115-118
Admiralty Court maxims, 116
Convoy from England, 115
Cyphers, 118
Death and the sleeping baby, 118
Faults and forewarnings, Miss Edgeworth, 117
Johnson, Dr., and Shakspere, 115
Pen-slit, the action of, 118
Sealing-wax—where was it? 116
Totalising, disease of, 116
Voice and eye—precedence and sequence, 118
Wafers, Maltese, 115

For the soother in absence, 147-150
Conscience and watches, 150
Contra-reasoning and controversy, 149
Earthly losses and heaven, 150
Eye, the twofold power of, 149
Facts and the relation of them, 148
Metaphor and reality, 149
Negation begets errors, 147
Speculative men not unpractical, 148
War, the weariness of, no excuse for peace, 148
Word-play a cat's cradle, 149
Worldly men, their belief in sincerity, 149

For the soother in absence, 159-161
Co-arctation, 161
Dull souls may become great poet's bodies, 161
Judgment compared to Belgic towns, 160
Lover married, a frog in a well, 160
Music and the genus and particular, 160
Originality not claimed by the original, 160
Shorthandists for the House of Commons, 161
Stiletto and the rosary, 159
Water-lily and the sponge, 160

For the Soother in Absence, 162-164
Death and the tree of life, 163
Grave, our growth in, 163
Irish architect, 164
Scopæ viarum, 164
Shooting stars and bedtime, 162
Sleep, the lovers', 164
Swift and the pine-tree, 164
Truth and action, 164
Wordsworth, an aspiration, 163
Yellowing leaflets, 163

For the Soother in Absence, 175-180
Affliction and adversity, 176
Allapse of serpents, 176
Atmosphere, every man his own, 176
Augustine, St., and a friend's misjudgment, 179
Blast, the, 178
Blue sky, yellow green at twilight, 175
Greece, the genius of, 177
Hayfield and still life, 175
Heu! quam miserum, 177
Indian fig and death of an immortal, 177
Kings, what kind of gods? 176
Love, the mighty works of, 178
Metallic pencils, 175
Parisatis, and the poisoned knife, 176
Peacock moulting, 178
Shadow, 177
Sheridan, and Bacon, 177
Sunflowers, 175
Strabo Geographicus on genius, 179
Two faces, etc., 176-177
Tycho Brahe, a subject for Allston, 175
Water-wagtails, 178
Woman, a passionate, a simile, 178

French language and poetry, 118-120

Friendship and marriage, 235-236

Genius, 233

Genius, his own, 197-198

[323] German philosophy, his indebtedness to, 106

God, the idea of, 300

Great and little minds, 293

Great men and national worth, 150-152

Hail and farewell, 218

Halfway house, the, 195-197

Happiness made perfect, 142

Hazlitt, W., 36

Health, independence, and friendship, 248

Heart, a broken, 303

Heaviness, may endure, &c., 239, 240

Hesperus, 247, 248

Hinc illa marginalia, 91-92

Hints for the Friend, 209, 210
Authors and Buffon's fan, 209
Conscience good, and fine weather, 209
Great deeds, great hearts, and great states, 209
Hypocrisy, 210
Massy misery, 210
Mystery from wilful deafness, 210
No glory and no Christianity, a total eclipse, 210
Proud ignorance, 210
Reformers like scourers of silver plate, 209

Hints for the Friend, 221-223
Conscience, a pure, like a life-boat, 221
Dame Quickly on parties, 222
Duns Scotus on faith, 222
Foliage, not the trunk, 223
Helvetius, his selenography, 221
Lavater and Narcissus, 223
Pope, the, a simile, 233
Reliance on God and man, 222
Reviewers like jurymen, 223

Hints for the Friend, 230-233
Amboynese, and their clove trees, 232
Eloign, a word of Queen Elizabeth's, 231
Esoteric Christianity, 231
Mathematics and metaphysics, 230
Monsoon, the Chinese elephant, 232
[324]Nature, the perception of, a comparison, 232
Paracelsus, on new words, 232
Partisans or opponents, how to address them, 231

Hope, the moon's halo an emblem of, 238

Humanity, the hope of, 137, 138

Humility, the lover's, 188

Hypothesis, of a new, 105

I will lift up, etc., 101

Idea, the birth of, 109

Idealist, the, at bay, 277-279

"If a man could pass through paradise," 282

Ignore thyself, 301

Illusion (Mr. Dennison and the "bottle man"), 144-147

Imagination 'eisenoplasy,' 236

In a twinkling of an eye, 185-186

In wonder all philosophy began, 185

Incommunicable, the, 31

Infancy and infants, 3, 4

Infinite, the, and the finite, 81

Inopem me copia fecit, 189

Insects, 271
Spiders' webs in Java, 271
Libellulidæ, 271
Tipulidæ minimæ, 271

Islamism, 287, 288

"Kingdom of Heavenite," a, 273

Knave, a treacherous, 28

Knowledge, a royal road to, 298-300

Knowledge and Understanding, 173

Landing places, 157

Law and gospel, 214

Liberty, the cap of, 203

Life, the idea of, 305

Light, the inward, 48

Litera scripta manet, 121

Love, 1-2
Affected by jealousy, 1
[325]soother of misfortune, 2
Disappointed, 2
The transformer, 2

Love, 233-235

Love, the adolescence of, 68

Love, the divine essence, 133-134

Love and duty, 140-142

Love, the ineffable, 191-192

Love and music, 200-201

Lover, the humble complaint of, 190

Loves, of first, 153-154

Lucus a non lucendo, 200

Magnitude, the sense of, 112-115

Maiden's primer, 195

Marriage, the ideal, 216

Mean, the danger of, 62

Means to ends, 107

Mediterranean, the, 100
"A brisk gale and the foam," 100

Memorandum, a serious, 79

Metaphysic, a defence of, 42

Metaphysician, the, at bay, 106

Metaphysic, the aim of his, 42

Milton's blank verse, 253

Milton and Shakspere, 296-8

Mohammed, the flight of, 290-291

Moment, a, and a magic mirror, 245-246

Monition, the rage for, 68-70

Moonlight gleams and massy glories, 171

Moonset, a, 50

Morning, a gem of, 187

Mot propre, the passion for, 155

Mother wit, 226

Motion, the psychology of, 56-57

Multum in parvo, 85

Name it and you break it, 198

Nature, the night side of, 45-47

Ne quid nimis, 89

Nefas est ab hoste doceri[326], 76

Neither bond nor free, 195

Neutral pronoun, a, 190

Night, in the visions of, 43, 44

Nightmare, the hag, 243-245

Noscitur a sociis, 32

Not the beautiful, etc., 49-50

Obduct‚ fronte senectus, 272-273

Observations and Reflections, 17-21
Ashes in autumn, 19
Citizens eat, rustics drink, 19
Definition hostile to images, 19
First cause and source of the Nile, 20
Love poems, a scheme of, 20
Moon, the setting, 18
My birthday, 19
Northern Lights, Derwent's birthday, 18
Shakspere and Naucratius, 21
Soul the mummy, an emblem, 20
Spring with cone of sand, 17
Stability and Instability, the cause of, 19
State, the eye of, 18
Superiors and inferiors, 20
Truths and feelings, 18
Two moon-rainbows, 19

Of a too witty book, 280-281

Official distrust, 83

O star benign! 76

O thou whose fancies, etc., 15-16

Omniscient, the comforter, 127

One music as before, etc. 168

One, the, and the good, 63

One, the many and the, 77

Opera, the, 82

Orange blossom, 134-136

Over-blaming, the danger of, 198

ΠΑΝΤΑ ΡἙΙ, 183-184

Pars altera mei, 49

Partisans and renegades,[327] 173-174

Past and present, 1

People, the spirit of a, 288-290

Petrarch's epistles, 262, 263

Phantoms of sublimity, 170

Philanthropy and self-advertisement, 249, 250

Philosophy the friend of poetry, 78

Pindar, 168

Places and persons, 70-74

Poet, a, on poetry, 294

Poet, the, and the spider, 32

Poetic licence, a plea for, 165-166

Poetry, 4
Correction of, 4
Dr. Darwin, 5
Elder languages, the fitter for, 5
Ode, definition of, 4

Poetry and prose, 229-230

Poets as critics of poets, 127-128

Populace and people, 174

Posterity, a caution to, 159

Practical man, a, 199-200

Praise, the meed of, 284

Presentiments, 256-257

Price, Dr., 167-168

Prophecy, the manufacture of, 192-193

Prudence versus friendship, 291-293

Pseudo-poets, 156

Psychology in youth and maturity, 218

Public opinion and the services, 237

Purgatory, an intellectual, 152-153

Rain, the maddening, 154

Recollection and remembrance, 57

Reimarus and the instinct of animals, 92-95

Religion, spiritual, 138, 218-219

Remedium amoris, 266

Richardson, 166-167

Righteousness, the sun of, 162

Rugit leo, 301-303

Save me from my friends,[328] 264-265

Science and philosophy, 261-262

Scholastic terms, a plea for, 274-275

Schoolman, a Unitarian, 58

Sea, the bright blue, 109

Self, the abstract, 120

Self-absorption and selfishness, 249

Self-esteem, excess of, 198, 199

Self-esteem, defect of, 199

Self-reproof, a measure in, 81-82

Sensations, the continuity of, 102, 103

Sentiment an antidote to casuistry, 124-125

Sentiment, morbid, 169-170

Sentiments below morals, 154

Seriores Rosæ, 274
"Lie with the ear," 274
"Like some spendthrift lord," 274
"On the same man as in a vineyard," 274
"The blossom gives not only," 274
"We all look up," 274

Sermons, ancient and modern, 237-239

Seventeen hundred and sixty yards, etc., 280

Shakspere and Malone, 88

Subject and object, 294

Silence is golden, 259

Simile, a, 76

Sine qua non, 186

Sleepless, the feint of the, 251

Solace, external, his need of, 167

Solvitur suspiciendo, 187

Sonnet, an unwritten, 295

Soul, the embryonic, 104

Spinoza, a poem on spirit or on, 61

Spinoza, the ethics of, 57

Spiritual blindness, 270

Spiritualism and mysticism, 276-277

Spooks, 281

Spring, the breath of, 305

Square, the, the circle, the pyramid, 97

Star, to the evening, 247

Style of Milton, Smectymnuus, etc.,[329] 271

Subject and object, 294

Sundog, a, 97

Sunset, a, 52

Superstition, 143-144

Supposition, a, 138

Syracuse, 78

Taste, an ethical quality, 165

Teleology and nature worship, 35

Temperament and morals, 33

That inward eye, etc., 246, 247

The body of this death, 276

The conclusion of the whole matter, 266

The greater damnation, 279

The mind's eye, 286

"The more exquisite," etc., 282

The night is at hand, 307

"The sunny mist," etc., 31

The tender mercies of the good, 208-209

"The tree or sea-weed like," etc., 31

Theism and Atheism, 285-286

Things Visible and Invisible, 7-14
Anthropomorphism and the Trinity, 14
Anti-optimism, 13
Babe, its sole notion of cruelty, 13
Cairns, J., on the Nazarites, 9
Child scolding a flower, 10
Children's words, analogous, 11
Dandelions, beards of, note, 10
Dyer, George, and poets' throttles, 9
Fisherman, the idle, note, 10
Friends' friends, reception by, note, 8
Godwin, a definition of, 13
Hartley's fire-place of stones, 13
Hazlitt's theory of picture and palette, 9
"Hot-headed men confuse," 11
"How," the substratum of philosophy, 13
Kingfishers' flight, 7
"Little Daisy," etc., 7
[330]London and Nature, 8
Luther, his prejudices, 11
Comment, 11
Materialists and mystery, 14
Nightingale and frogs in Germany, note, 7
Quotations, rage for, 9
Reproaches and remorse, 12
Sickbed and prison, 12
"Slanting pillars of misty light," 9
Space a perception of additional magnitude, 12
Taylor, Jeremy, quotation from Via Pacis, 12
"The thin scattered rain-clouds," 12
Things perishable, thoughts imperishable, 8
Thinking and perceiving, 12
Time and likeness, 13
Upturned leaves, 10

Thoughts, a Crowd of, 58-61
Children and hard-skinned ass, 59
Ghost of a mountain, 60
Light as lovers love, 59
Man, epitheton of, 58
Palm, the, 61
Place and time, 59
Poets' bad and beautiful expressions, 59
Public schools, advantage of, 60
Rainbows stedfast in mist, 61
Rosemary tree, a, 59
Slang, religious, 60
Sopha of sods, note, 60
Stump of a tree, 61

Thought, a mortal agony of, 63

Thought and attention, 213-214

Thoughts and Fancies, 22-25
Achilles and his heel, 25
Devil at the very end of hell, 23
Dimness and numbness, 23
Friendship and comprehension, 24
Green fields after the city, 25
Happiness and paradise, 25
Hartley and the "seems," 24
[331] Kind-hearted men refuse roughly, 23
Limbo, 22
Metaphysics, their effect on the thoughts, 23
Nature for likeness, men for difference, 25
Old world, the, and the new year, 22
Opposite talents not incompatible, 24
Poets and death, 22
Poets, his rank among, 25
Sounds and outness, 23
Swift and Socinianism, 24
Time as threefold, 22

Thought and things, 143

Thoughts-how like music at times! 139

Through doubt to faith, 85

Time an element of grief, 31

Time and eternity, 155

Time, real and imaginary, note, 241-243

Transcripts from my velvet pocket-books, 26-28
Action, the meanness of, 27
Barrow and the verbal imagination, 26
Candle-snuffers not discoverers, 26
Falling asleep, 27
New play compared to toy ship, 27
Plagiarist, a thief in the candle, 26
Post, its influence, 26
Quotation and conversation, 26
Repose after agitation, 27
Socinianism and methodism, 26
Teme, the valley of, 26
Universe, the federal republic of, 27
Wedgwood, T., and thoughts and things, 27

Transubstantiation, 61-62

Truth, 191, 220

Truth, the danger of adapting, &c., 228

Truth, the fixed stars of, 257

Turtle-shell, a, for household tub, 207-208

Unwin, Mrs., Cowper's lines to, 121-123

Unknown, the great, 284

Vain Glory,[332] 203-204

Verbum sapientibus, 102

Ver, zer, and al, 187

Vexation, a complex, 283

Vox hiemalis, 303-304

We ask not whence, etc., 89

Wedgwood, T., and Reimarus, 91

What man has made of man, 264-265

Will, the undisciplined, 64-66

Windmill and its shadow, 77-78

Winter, a mild, 170

Woman's frowardness, 89

Words and things, 225

Words, creative power of, and images, 87

Words, the power of, 266-269

Wordsworth and The Prelude, 30

Wordsworth, John, 132

Worldly wise, 230

Wounded vanity, a salve for, 82-83


Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson & Co. London & Edinburgh

Transcriber's note

A Table of Contents has been created for this version.

The following changes have been made to the text:

Page ix: "ceasless" changed to ceaseless".

Page 73: "wordliness" changed to "worldliness".

Page 173: "PARTIZANS" changed to "PARTISANS".

Page 218: "pyschologise" changed to "psychologise".

Page 253: "strenghth" changed to "strength".

Page 320: "lifelong" changed to "life-long".

Page 320: "Caraccioli" changed to "Caracciolo".

Page 323: "philososhy" changed to "philosophy".

Page 324: "Partizans" changed to "Partisans".

Page 327: "Righteousnesss" changed to "Righteousness".

Page 330: "rainclouds" changed to "rain-clouds'.

Page 330: "hardskinned" changed to "hard-skinned".

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Anima Poetś, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge


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