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Vi. I 





In the following sketch of the literary life of the late 
Frederick Von Schlegel, it is the intention of the 
writer to take a rapid review of that author's princi- 
pal productions, noticing the circumstances out of 
which they grew, and the influence they exerted on 
his age ; giving at the same time a fuller analysis of 
his political and metaphysical systems : — an analysis 
which is useful, nay almost necessary to the elucida- 
tion of very many passage«« in the work, to which this 
memoir is prefixed. Of the inadequacy of his powers 
to the due execution of such a task, none can be more 
fully sensible than the writer himself; but he trusts 
that he will experience from the kindness of the rea- 
der, an indulgence proportionate to the difficulty of 
the undertaking. 

In offering to the British public a translation of 
one of the last works of one among the most illustri- 
ous of German writers, the Translator is aware, that 
after the excellent translation which appeared in 1818 

b 2 


of this author's " History of Literature," and also 
after the admirable translation of his brother's '' Lec- 
tures on Dramatic Literature/' by Mr. Black, his own 
performance must appear in a very disadvantageous 
point of view. But this is a circumstance which only 
gives it additional claims to indulgent consideration. 
The family of the Schlegels seem to have been pe- 
culiarly favoured by the Muses. Elias Schlegel, a 
member of this family, was a distinguished dramatic 
writer in his own time ; and some of his plays are, I 
believe, acted in Germany at the present day. Adol- 
phus Schlegel, the father of the subject of the present 
biography, was a minister of the Lutheran church, 
distinguished for his literary talents, and particularly 
for eloquence in the pulpit. His eldest son, Charles 
Augustus Schlegel, entered with the Hanoverian regi- 
ment to which he belonged into the service of our 
East India Company, and had begun to prosecute 
with success his studies in Sanscrit literature — a field 
of knowledge in which his brothers have since obtain- 
ed so much distinction — when his youthful career was 
unhappily terminated by the hand of death. Augustus 
William Schlegel, the second son, who was destined 
to carry to so high a pitch the literary glory of his fa- 
mily, was born at Hanover in 1769 — a year so propi- 
tious to the birth of genius. Frederick Schlegel was 
bom at Hanover in 1772. Though destined for com- 
merce, he received a highly classical education ; and 
in his sixteenth year prevailed on his father to allow 
him to devote himself to the Belles Lettres. After 
completing his academical course at Gottingen and 
Leipzig, he rejoined his brother, and became associ. 
ated with him in his literary labours. He has him- 
self given us the interesting picture of his own mind 
at this early period. " In my first youth," says he, 
'* from the age of seventeen and upwards, the writings 
of Plato, the Greek tragedians, and Winkelmann'a 


enthusiastic works, formed the intellectual world in 
which I lived, and where I often strove in a youthful 
manner, to represent to my soul the ideas and images 
of ancient gods and heroes. In the year 1789, 1 was 
enabled, for the first time, to gratify my inclination in 
that capital so highly refined by art — Dresden ; and I 
was as much surprised as delighted to see really be- 
fore me those antique figures of gods I had so long 
desired to behold. Among these I often tarried for 
hours, especially in the incomparable collection of 
Mengs*s casts, which were then to be found, disposed 
in a state of little order in the Brühl garden, where I 
often let myself be shut up, in order to remain without 
interruption. It was not the consummate beauty of 
form alone, which satisfied and even exceeded the ex- 
pectation I had secretly formed ; but it was still more 
the life — ^the animation in those Olympic marbles, 
which excited my astonishment ; for the latter quali«- 
ties I had been less able to picture to myself in my 
solitary musings. These first indelible impressions 
were in succeeding years, the firm, enduring ground- 
work for my study of classical antiquity."* Here he 
found the sacred fire, at which his genius lit the torch 
destined to blaze through his life with inextinguish- 
able brightness. 

He commenced his literary career in 1794, with a 
short essay on the different schools of Greek poetry« 
It is curious to watch in this little piece the buddings 
of his mind. Here we see, as it were, the germ of the 
first part of the great work on ancient and modem 
literature, which he published nearly twenty years 
afterwards. We are astonished to find in a youth of 
Cwenty-two an erudition so extensive — an acquaint- 
ance not only with the more celebrated poets and phi- 
losophers of ancient Greece, but also with the obscure, 

* Sammtliche werke, vorrede, p. 8. voL 6. 


recondite Alexandrian poets, known to comparatively 
few scholars even of a maturer age. We admire, too, 
the clearness of analytic arrangement — the admirable 
method of classification, in which the author and his 
brother have ever so far outshone the generality of 
German writers. The essay displays, also, a delicacy 
of observation and an originality of views, which an- 
nounce the great critic. It is, in short, the labour 
of an infant Hercules. 

As this essay gives promise of a mighty critic ; so 
two treatises, which the author wrote in the following 
years, 1795 and 1796 — one entitled " Diotima," and 
which treats of the condition of the female sex in an- 
cient Greece — the other, a parallel between Csesar and 
Alexander, not published, however, till twenty -six 
years afterwards — both show the dawnings of his great 
historical genius. Rarely have the promises of youth 
been so amply fulfilled — rarely has the greeq foliage 
of Spring been followed by fruits so rich and abundant. 
It is interesting to observe the fine, organic develop- 
ment of Schlegel's mental powers — to trace in these 
early productions, the germs of those great historical 
works which it was reserved for his manhood and age 
to achieve. In the latter and most remarkable of these 
essays, he examines the respective merits of Caesar 
and Alexander, considered as men, as generals, and as 
statesmen. To the Macedonian he assigns greater ten- 
derness of feeling, a more generous and lofty disinte- 
restedness of character — and a finer power of percep- 
tion for the beauties of art. To the Roman he ascribes 
greater coolness and sobriety of judgment, an extra- 
ordinary degree of self-controul, a mind tenacious of 
its purpose, but careless as to the means by which it 
was accomplished, an exquisite sense of fitness and 
propriety in the smallest as in the greatest things, yet 
little susceptibility for the beautiful in art. With 
respect to military genius, he shows that Caesar united 


to the fire and rapidity of the Macedonian, greater 
constancy and perseverance ; yet that the temerity of 
Alexander wan not always the effect of impetuous pas* 
sion, but sometimes the result at once of situation 
and deliberate reflection. As regards the political ca* 
pacities of these two great conquerors, he shows that 
CsBsar possessed an over-mastering ascendancy over 
the minds of men — the talent of guiding their wills, 
and making them subservient to his own views and 
interests — ^in short, a consummate skill in the tactics 
of a party-leader« Yet he thinks him destitute of the 
wisdom of a law-giver, or what he emphatically calls, 
the organic geniut of state — the power to found, or 
renovate a constitution. To Alexander, on the con- 
trary, he attributes the plastic genius of legislation — 
the will and the ability to diflfuse among nations the 
blessings of civilization — ^to plant cities, and establish 
Iree, flourishing and permanent communities. 

In the year 1797, Schlegel published his first im- 
portant work, entitled '* the Greeks and the Romans." 
This work was two or three years afterwards followed 
by another, entitled '' History of Greek Poetry." These 
two writings in their original form are no longer to be 
met with — ^for in the new edition of the author's works^ 
they not only have undergone various alterations and 
additions, but have been, as it were, melted into one 
work* Winkelmann's history of art was the model 
which Schlegel proposed to himself in this history of 
Greek poetry ; and we must allow that the noble 
school which that illustrious man, as well as Lessing, 
Herder, and Goethe, had founded in Germany, never 
received a richer acquisition than in the work here 
spoken of. Prior to the illustrious writers I have 
named, Germany had produced a multitude of scholars 
distinguished for profound learning and critical acute'- 
ness ; but their labours may be cpnsidered as only 
ancillary and preliminary to the works of men who. 


with an erudition and a perspicacity never surpassed, 
united a poetical sense and a philosophic discernment 
that could catch the spirit of antiquity, reanimate her 
forms, and place them in all their living freshness 
before our eyes. 

In the first chapter of the '' History of Greek 
Poetry/' Schlegel speaks of the religious rites and 
mysteries of the primitive Greeks, and of the Orphic 
poetry to which they gave rise. Contrary to the opi^ 
nion of many scholars who, though they admit the 
present form of the Orphic hymns to be the work of a 
later period, yet refer their substance to a very remote 
antiquity, Schlege) assigns their origin to the age of 
Hesiod. ^' Enthusiasm," he says, ^' is the character- 
istic of the Orphic poetry — repose that of the Ho- 
meric poems." His observations however on the 
early religion of the Greeks, form, in my humble opi- 
nion, the least satisfactory portion of this work. He 
next gives an interesting account of the state of 
society in Greece in the age of Homer, as well as in 
the one preceding, and shews by a long process of in- 
ductive evidence, how the Homeric poetry was the 
crown and perfection of a long series of Bardic 

He then examines, at great length, the opinions of 
the ancients from the earliest Greek to the latest Ro- 
man critics, on the plan, the diction and poetical 
merits of the Iliad and the Odyssey ; interweaving in 
this review of ancient criticism his own remarks, 
which serve either to correct the errors, supply the 
deficiencies, or illustrate the wisdom of those ancient 
judges of art. After this survey of ancient criticism, 
he proceeds to point out some of the characteristic 
features of the Homeric poems. He enquires what is 
understood by natural poetry, or the poetry of na- 
ture ; shews that it is perfectly compatible with art — 
that there is a wide difference between the natural and 


the rude — that Homer is distinguished as much for 
delicacy of perception, accuracy of delineation, and 
sagacity of judgment, as for fertility of fancy and 
energy of passion. The author next passes in review 
the Hesiodic epos, the middle epos, or the works of 
the Cyclic poets, and lastly, the productions of the 
Ionic, j£olic, and Doric schools of lyric poetry. The 
fragments on the lyric poetry of Greece are particu- 
larly beautiful, and comprise not only excellent criti- 
cisms on the genius of the different lyrists themselves, 
but also most interesting observations on the charac- 
ter, manners, and social institutions of the races that 
composed the Hellenic confederacy. 

It was Schlegel's intention to have given a com- 
plete history of Greek poetry ; but the execution of 
this task was abandoned, not from any want of per- 
severance, as some have imagined, but from some 
peculiar circumstances in the world of letters at that 
period. The literary scepticism of Wolf, supported 
with so much learning and ability, was then convuls- 
ing the German mind ; and while the purity of the 
Homeric text, and the unity and integrity of the 
Homeric poems themselves were so ably contested, 
Schlegel deemed it a hazardous task to attempt to draw 
public attention to any aesthetic enquiries on the elder 
Greek poetry. Hence the second part of this work, 
which treats of the lyric poets, remained unfinished. 
The general qualities, which must strike all in this 
history of Greek poetry are, a masterly acquaintance 
with classical literature — a wariness and circumspec- 
tion of judgment, rare in any writer, especially in 
one so young — a critical perspicacity, that draws its 
conclusions from the widest range of observation — 
and a poetic flexibility of fancy, that can transport 
itself into the remotest periods of antiquity. In a 
word, the author analyzes as a critic, feels as a poet, 
and observes like a philosopher. 


But a new career now expanded before the afdent 
mind of Scblegel. The enterprising spirit of British 
scholars had but twenty years before opened a new in- 
tellectual world to European inquiry : — a world many 
of whose spiritual productions^ disguised in one shape 
or another^ the Western nations had for a long course 
of ages admired and enjoyed^ ignorant as they were of 
the precise region from which they were brought. For 
the. knowledge of the Sanscrit tongue and literature — 
an event in literary importance inferior only to the re- 
vival of Greek learnings and in a religious and philo* 
Sophie point of view^ pregnant^ perhaps^ with greater 
results ; — mankind have been indebted to the influence 
of British commerce ; and it is not one of the least 
services which that commerce has rendered to the 
cause of civilization. In the promotion of Sanscrit 
learning, the merchant princes of Britain emulated the 
noble zeal displayed four centuries before by the mer^ 
chant princes of Florence, in the encouragement and 
diffusion of Hellenic literature. By dint of promises 
and entreaties, they extorted from the Brahmin the 
mystic key, which has opened to us so many wonders 
of the primitive world. And as a great Christian 
philosopher of our age* has observed, it is fortunate 
that India was not then under the dominion of the 
French ; for during the irreligious fever which in- 
flamed and maddened that great people, their insidi- 
ous guides — ^those detestable sophists of the eighteenth 
century — would most assuredly have leagued with the 
Brahmins to suppress the truth, to mutilate the an- 
cient monuments of Sanscrit lore, and thus would have 
for ever poisoned the sources of Indian learning. A 
British society. was established at Calcutta --whose 
object it was to investigate the languages, historical 
antiquities, sciences, and religious and philosophical 

* Count Maifltre. — See his Soirees de St. Petersbourg. 


systems of Asia^ and more especially of Hindostan. 
Sir William Jones — a name that will be revered as 
long as genius, learning, and Christian philosophy 
command the respect of mankind — ^was the sonl of this 
enterprise. He brought to the investigation of Indian 
literature and history, a mind stored with the trea- 
sures of classical and oriental scholarship — a spirit of 
indefatigable activity — and a clear, methodical and 
capacious intellect. No man, too, so fully understood 
the religious bearings of these inquiries, and had so 
well seized the whole subject of Asiatic antiquities in 
its connection with the Bible. But at the period at 
which we have arrived, this great spirit had already 
taken its departure ; nor in its flight had it dropped 
its mantle of inspiration on any of the former associ- 
ates of its labours. For among thp academicians of 
Calcutta, though there were men of undoubted talent 
and learning, there were none who inherited the philo- 
sophic mind of Jones. At this period, too, the fanci- 
ful temerity of a Wilford was bringing discredit on 
the Indian researches — a temerity which would neces- 
sarily provoke a re-action, and lead, as in some recent 
instances, to a prosaic narrow-mindedness, that would 
seek to bring down the whole system of Indian civili- 
zation to the dull level of its own vulgar conceptions. 
Schlegel saw that the moment was critical. He 
saw that the edifice of oriental learning, raised at the 
cost of so much labour by Sir William Jones, was in 
danger of falling to pieces — that all the mighty results 
which Christian philosophy had anticipated from 
these inquiries, would be, if not frustrated, at least 
indefinitely postponed — that a wild, uncritical, extra- 
vagant fancifulness on the one hand» or a dull and 
dogged Rationalism on the other — (equally adverse 
as both are to the cause of historic truth) — would soon 
bring these researches into inextricable confusion ; in 
short, that the time had arrived when they should be 


fairly brought before the more enlarged philosophy of 
Germany. Filled with this idea, and animated by 
that pure zeal for science, which is its own best re- 
ward, Schlegel resolves to betake him to the study of 
the Sanscrit tongue. But for the considerations I have 
ventured to suggest, such a resolution on the part of 
such a man would be surely calculated to excite re- 
gret . we should be inclined to lament that a mind so 
original, already saturated with so much elegant lite- 
rature and solid learning, should be thus doomed in 
the bloom of its existence, to consume years in the 
toilsome acquisition of the most dijfficult of all lan- 

In prosecution of his undertaking, Schlegel re- 
paired in the year 1802, to Paris, which had been long 
celebrated for her professors in the Eastern tongues, 
and where the national library presented to the orien- 
tal scholar, inexhaustible stores of wealth. Here, with 
the able assistance of those distinguished orientalists, 
M. M. de Langlös and Chözy, Schlegel made consider- 
able progress in the study of Persian and Sanscrit 
literature. But while engaged in these laborious pur- 
suits, he contrives to find time to plunge into the then 
almost unexplored mines of Provencal poesy— to un- 
dertake profound researches into the history of the 
middle age, and to deliver lectures on Metaphysics in 
the French language. If these lectures did not meet 
with all the success which might have been hoped for, 
this cannot surprise us, when we consider that the 
gross materialism which had long weighed on the 
Parisian mind, and from which it was then but slowly 
emerging, could ill accord with the lofty Platonism of 
the. German ; nor when we add to the disadvantage 
under which every one labours when speaking in a 
foreign tongue, the fact that nature had not favoured 
this extraordinary man with a happy delivery. From 
Paris, he wrote a series of articles on the early Italian, 


Spanish, Portuguese^ and Provengal poetry. The ar- 
ticle on Portuguese poetry is singularly beautiful, and 
contains, among other things, some remarks as new as 
they are just, on the influence of climate and locality 
in the formation of dialects. It comprises, too, an 
admirable critique on the noble poem of the Lusiad, 
which in allusion to the great national catastrophe 
that so soon followed on its publication, and by which 
the ancient power, energy, and glory of Portugal were 
for ever destroyed, he calls ** the swan-like cry of a 
people of heroes prior to its downfall.'' This essay 
and others of the same period furnish also a proof 
how very soon Frederick Schlegel bad framed his cri* 
tical views and opinions on the various works of art. 
His aesthetic system seems to have been formed at a 
single cast — we might almost say, that from the head 
of this intellectual Jove, the Pallas of criticism had 
leaped all armed. His metaphysical theories, on the 
contrary, appear to have been slowly elaborated — to 
have undergone many modifications and improvements 
in the lapse of years, and never to have been moulded 
into a form of perfect symmetry, until the last years 
of his life. 

During his abode in France, he addressed to a 
friend in Grermany, a series of beautiful letters on the 
difierent schools and epochs of Christian painting. 
The pictorial treasures of a large part of Europe were 
then concentrated in the French capital ; and Schlegel, 
availing himself of this golden opportunity, gave an 
account of the various master-pieces of modem art, 
contained in the public and private collections of 
Paris; interweaving in these notices, general views 
on the nature, object, and limits of Christian painting. 
These letters the author has since revised and enlarg- 
ed ; and they now form one of the most delightful 
volumes in the general collection of his works. 

The three arts, sculpture, music, and painting. 



correspond^ according^ to the author^ to the three parts 
of human consciousness, the body — the soul — and the 
( mind. Sculpture, the most material of the fine arts, 
best represents the beauty of form, and the properties 
of sense : Music explores and gives utterance to the 
deepest feelings of the human soul : but it is reserved 
for the most spiritual of the arts — Painting, to express 
all the mysteries of intelligence — all the divine symbo* 
lism in nature and in man. He shows that the three 
arts have objects very distinct, and which must by no 
means be confounded. But the respective limits of 
these arts have not always been duly observed. Hence, 
confining his observation to painting, there are some 
artists, whom he calls sculpture-painters, like the great 
Angelo— others again musical painters, like Correggio 
and Murillo. 

The various schools of art— the elder Italian — 
the later. Italian — the Spanish — the old German-— 
and the Flemish, pass successively under review. 
The distinctive qualities of the mighty masters in 
each school — the fantastic and truly Dantesque 
wildness of Giotto— the soft outline of Perugino— 
the depth of feeling that characterises Leonardo 
da Vinci — the ideal beauty — the various, the infi- 
nite charm of Raphael — the gigantic conception of 
Angelo — the glowing reality of Titian — the har- 
monious elegance of Correggio — ^the bold vigour of 
Julio Romano — the noble effort of the Caraccis to 
revive in a declining age the style of the great mas* 
ters — the true Spanish earnestness and concentrated 
energy of Murillo — the deep-toned piety of Velasquez 
— the profound and comprehensive understanding 
which distinguishes his own Dürer, whom he calls the 
Shakspeare of painting — the distinctive qualities of 
these great masters, (to name but a few of the more 
eminent) are analysed with incomparable skill, and 
set forth with charming diction. I regret that the 


limits of this introductory memoir will not allow me 
to give an analysis of these enchanting letters ; but I 
cannot forbear observing in conclusion^ that at the 
present moment, when there seems to be an earnest 
wish on all sides to revive the higher art among our« 
selves, whoever would undertake a translation of 
these letters, would, I think, confer a service on the 
public generally, and on our artists in particular. 
To the friends and followers of art, such a work is the 
more necessary, as the illustrious author has in a man 
ner taken up the subject where Winkelmann had left 
off. These letters are followed by others equally admi- 
rable on Gothic architecture, where the characteristic 
qualities of the different epochs in the civil and eccle- 
siastical architecture of the middle age are set forth 
with the same masterly powers of fancy and discrimi- 
natioB. This sublime art seemed to respond best to 
Schlegers inmost feelings. 

But I am now approaching a passage in the life 
of Schlegel, which will be viewed in a different light 
according to the different feelings and convictions of 
my readers. By some his conduct will be considered a 
blameable apostacy from the faith of his fathers — by 
others, a generous sacrifice of early prejudices on the 
altar of truth. To disguise my own approbation of his 
conduct, would be to do violence to my feelings, and 
wrong to my principles ; but to enter into a justifica- 
tion of his motives, would be to engage in a polemical 
discussion, most unseemly in an introduction to a work 
which is perfectly foreign to inquiries of that nature. 
I shall therefore confine myself to a brief statement of 
facts : noticing at the same time, the intellectual con- 
dition of the two great religious parties of Germany, 
immediately prior and subsequent to Schlegel's change 
of religfion. 

It was on bis return from France in the year 1806, 
and in the ancient city of Cologne, that the subject of 


this memoir was received into the bosom of the Catho- 
lic church. There — ^in that venerable city, which was 
so often honoured by the abode of the great founder of 
Christendom— Charlemagne — which abounds with so 
many monuments of the arts, the learning, the opu- 
lence and political greatness of the middle age — where 
the great Christian Aristotle of the thirteenth century 
— Aquinas — had passed the first years of his academic 
course — there, in that venerable minster, too, one of 
the proudest monument3 of Grothic architecture^-^-was 
solemnized in the person of this illustrious man, the 
alliance between the ancient faith and modern science 
of Germany — an alliance that has been productive of 
such important consequences, and is yet pregnant with 
mightier results. 

The purity of the motives which directed Schlegel 
in this, the most important act of his life, few would 
be ignorant or shameless enough to impeach. His 
station — his character — his virtues — all suffice to 
repel the very suspicion of unworthy motives ; and the 
least reflection will shew, that while in a country 
circumstanced like Germany, his change of religion 
could not procure for him greater honours and emolu- 
ments than under any circumstances, his genius would 
be certain to command ; that change would too surely 
expose him to obloquy, misrepresentation, and ca- 
lumny — and what to a heart so sensitive as his, must 
have been still more painful — the alienation, perhaps, 
of esteemed friends. Had he remained a Protestant, he 
would instead of engaging in the service of Austria, 
have in all probability taken to that of Prussia, and 
there doubüess have received the same honours and 
distinctions which have been so deservedly bestowed 
on his illustrious brother. Wo may suppose, also, that 
a man of his mind and character, would not on slight 
and frivolous grounds, have taken a step so import- 
ant ; nor in a matter so momentous, have come to a 


decision, without a full aud anxious investig^ation. 
In fact, his theological learning was extensive — he 
was well-read in the ancient fathers — the schoolmen 
of the middle age, and the more eminent modem di- 
vines ; and though I am not aware that he has devo- 
ted any special treatise to theology, yet the remarks 
scattered through his works, whether on Biblical exe- 
gesis, or dogmatic divinity, are so pregnant, original 
and profound, that we plainly see it was in his power 
to have given to the world a ** sjystema theologicum,'* 
no less masterly than that of bis great predecessor — 
Leibnitz. The works of the early Greek fathers, in- 
deed, he appears to have made a special object of 
scientific research, well knowing what golden gprains 
of philosophy may be picked up in that sacred stream. 
The conversion of Schlegel was hailed with enthusi- 
asm by the Catholics of Germany. This event occurred 
indeed, at a moment equally opportune to himself 
and to the Catholic body. To himself— for though his 
noble mind would never have run a- ground amid the 
miserable shallows of Rationalism, yet had it not then 
taken refuge in the secure haven of Catholicism, it 
might have been sucked down in the rapid eddies of 
Pantheism. To the Catholic body in Germany, this 
event was no less opportune ; and for the reasons that 
shall now be stated. 

Germany, which in the middle age had produced so 
many distinguished poets, artists, and philosophers, 
was, at the Reformation, shorn of much of her in- 
tellectual strength. In the disastrous thirty years' 
war, which that event brought about, she saw her 
universities robbed of their most distinguished orna- 
ments, and the lights, which ought to have adorned 
her at home, shedding their lustre on foreign lands. 
The general languor and exhaustion of the German 
mind, consequent on that fearful and convulsive strug- 
gle, was apparent enough in the literature of the age, 
VOL. I. c 


which ensued after the treaty of Westphalia. To these 
causes^ which produced this general declension of 
German intellect, must be added one which specially 
applies to the Catholic portion of Germany. 

Every great abuse of human reason, by a natural 
revulsion of feeling, inspires a certain dread and dis- 
trust of its powers. This has been more than once 
exemplified in the history of the church. So, at this 
momentous period, some of the Grerman Catholic 
powers sought in obscurantism, a refuge and security 
against religious and political innovations, and denied 
to science that encouragement which she bad a right 
to look for at their hands : — a policy as infatuated 
as it is culpable, for, while ignorance draws down 
contempt and disgrace on religion, it begets in its 
turn, as a melancholy experience has proved, those 
very errors and that very unbelief, against which it 
was designed as a protection. 

Had the court of Austria acceded to the proposal 
of Leibnitz for establishing at Vienna that academy 
of sciences which he afterwards succeeded in founding 
at Berlin, the glory of that great resuscitation of the 
German mind, which occurred in the middle of the 
eighteenth century, would have then probably re* 
dounded to Catholic, rather than to Protestant, Ger- 
many. But the German Catholics, though they started 
later in the career of intellectual improvement, have 
at length reached, and even outstripped, their Protes- 
tant brethren in the race. 

Three or four years before Schlegel embraced the 
Catholic faith, the signal for a return to the ancient 
church was given by the illustrious Count Stol- 
berg. The religious impulse, which this great man 
imparted to German literature, was simultaneous 
with that Christian regeneration of philosophy, com- 
menced in France by the Viscount de Bonald. And 
these two illustrious men, in the noble career which 


five and thirty years* ago they opened in their respec- 
tive countries^ have been followed by a series of gigan- 
tic intellects, who have restored the empire of faith^ 
regenerated art and science^ and renovated, if i may 
so speak, the human mind itself.* 

Forty years* ago, the Catholics of Germany, as I 
said, were in a state of the most humiliating intellec- 
tual inferiority to their Protestant brethren — they 
could point to few writers of eminence in their own 
body — Protestantism was the lord of the ascendant 
in every department of German letters : — and yet so 
well have the Catholics employed the intervening 
time, they now furnish the most valuable portion of a 
literature, in many respects the most valuable in 
Europe. In every branch of knowledge, they can now 
shew writers of the highest order. To name but a 
few of the most distinguished, they have produced the 
two greatest Biblical critics of the age—Hug and 
Scholz — ^profound Biblical exegetists, like Alber, Ac- 
kermann, and, recently, Molitor, who has created a 
new era not only in Biblical literature, but in the 
Philosophy of History — divines, like Wiest, Dob- 
mayer, Schwarz, Zimmer, Brenner, Liebermann, and 
Moehler, distinguished as they are for various and 
extensive learning, and understandings as compre- 
hensive as they are acute — an ecclesiastical historian 
pre-eminent for genius, erudition, and celestial sua- 
vity, like Count Stolberg — ^philosophic archaiologists, 
like Hammer and Schlosser — admirable publicists, 
like Gentz, Adam Müller, and the Swiss Haller — and 
two philosophers, possessed of vast acquirements and 
colossal intellects, like Goerres, and the subject of 
this memoir. In (xermany and elsewhere, Catholic 

* The aristocracy of French literatme, and a very splendid aristo- 
cracy it is, has been for the last twenty years decidedly Catholic. 
The enemies of the chnrch are to be found almost exclnsirely in 
the bourgeoisie, and still more in the canaille, of that literature. 




genius seems only to have slumbered during the 
eighteenth century^ in order to astonish the world by 
a new and extraordinary display of strength. It is 
undoubtedly true that several of the above-named in- 
dividuals originally belonged to the Protestant church 
— and that that church should have given birth to 
men of such exalted genius, refined sensibility, and 
moral worth, is a circumstance which furnishes our 
Protestant brethren with additional claims to our love 
and respect. We hail these first proselytes as the 
pledges of a more general, and surely not a very dis- 
tant, re-union. 

The vigorous graft of talent, which the Catholic 
thus received from the Protestant community, was im- 
parted to a stock, where the powers of vegetation, long 
dormant, began now to revive with renovated strength. 
The old Catholics zealously co-operated with the new 
in the regeneration of all the sciences — and the effects 
of their joint labours have been apparent, not only in 
die transcendent excellence of individual productions, 
but in the new life and energy infused into the learned 
corporations — the universities as well as the institutes 
of science. The mixed universities, like those of 
Bonn, Freyburg> and others, are in a great degree 
supported by Catholic talent ; and the great Catholic 
University of Munich, which the present excellent 
King of Bavaria founded in 1826, already by the ce- 
lebrity of its professors, the number of its scholars, 
and th« admirable direction of the studies, bids fair 
to rival the most celebrated Universities in Ger- 

- ' - - - ■ 

^ The words which the King of Bavaria used at the moment of 
founding this University, are remarkahle. " I do not wish," said he, 
<f that my subjects should be learned at tlie cost of religion, nor reli. 
gious at the cost of learning." — See Baader's opening speech in 1826. 
Phihiophhehe Schriften, page 266. These are goklen words, which 
ought to be engraven on the hearts of all princes. In other words. 


Gratifying as it must have been to Schlegel to see 
by bow many distinguished spirits his example had 
been followed, and to witness the rapid literary im- 
provement of that community in Germany to which 
he had now united himself, he could not expect to 
escape those crosses and contradictions which are> in 
this world, the heritage of the just. The rancorous 
invectives which the fanatic Rationalist — Voss, had 
never ceased to pour out on his own early friend and 
benefactor— -the heavenly - minded Stolberg, excited 
the contempt and disgust of every well-constituted 
mind in the Protestant community. This Cerberus of 
Rationalism opened his deep-mouthed cry on Schlegel 
also, as he set his foot on the threshold of the Catholic 
church. In this instance, the religious bigotry of Voss 
was inflamed and exasperated by literary jealousy. By 
his criticisms, and masterly translation of Homer and 
other Greek poets, this highly gifted man had not only 
rendered imperishable service to German literature, 
but had contributed to infuse a new life into the study 
of classical antiquity. Jealous, therefore of his Greeks, 
whom he worshipped with a sort of exclusive idolatry, 
he looked with distrust and aversion on every attempt 
to introduce the orientals to the literary notice of the 
Germans. He ran down Asiatic literature of every 
age and nation with the most indiscriminate and 
unsparing violence — denounced the intentions of its 

the monarch meant to say, I wish to oonsecrate science by religion, 
and I wish to confirm and extend religion by science. This sove- 
reign is the most enlightened, as well as munificent, patron of learn- 
ing in Europe ; and whether we consider bis zeal in the cause of 
religion — ^his solicitude for the freedom and prosperity of his sub- 
jects — his profound knowledge, as well as active patronage, of art 
and science — and his true-hearted German frankness and probity ; 
he is, in every respect, a worthy namesake of the illustrious Em- 
peror Maximilian. He has assisted in making his capital a tnie 
German Athens ; and, small as it is, it may at this moment compete 
in art, literature, and science, with the proudest cities in Europe.^ 


admirers as evil and sinister; and, in allusion to 
the noble use which Stolberg> Schlegel^ and others 
had made of their oriental learning in support of 
Christianity, petulantly exclaimed on one occasion , 
''The Brahmins have leagued with the Jesuits, in 
order to subvert the Protestant, or (as we should 
translate that word in this country) the Rationalist 

It was in 1808, after several years spent in the study 
of Sanscrit literature, Schlegel published the result of 
his researches and meditations in the celebrated work 
entitled the ''Language and Wisdom of the Indians." 
This work, the first pftrt of which is occupied with a 
comparative examination of the etymology and gram- 
matical structure of the Sanscrit, Persian, Greek, 
Roman, and Grerman languages, the second whereof 
traces the filiation and connection of the different re* 
ligious and philosophical systems that have prevailed 
in the ancient oriental world, and the last of which 
consists of metrical versions from the sacred and di- 
dactic poems of the Hindoos — this work, I say, might 
not ^be inaptly termed a grammar, syntax, and pro- 
sody of philosophy. 

With respect to etymology, Schlegel points out the 
number of Sanscrit words identical in sound and sig- 
nification with words in the Persian, or the Greek, or 
the Latin, or the German, or sometimes even in all 
those languages put together. He excludes words 
which are imitations of natural sounds, and which 
therefore might have been adopted simultaneously by 
nations unknown to each other; and selects those 
words only which are of the most simple and primitive 
signification, such as relate to those intellectual and 
physical objects most closely allied to man ; as also 
auxiliary verbs, pronouns, nouns of number, and pre- 
positions : — woi*ds which are less exposed than any to 
those casual and partial changes which conquest. 


commerce^ and religion, introduce into language. With 
respect to grammatical structure, the author shows 
that the mode of declining nouns, and conjugating 
verbs, of forming the degrees of comparison in ad- 
jectives, of marking the gender and number of sub- 
stantives, of changing or modifying the signification 
of words by prefixed particles, is common to the San- 
scrit, and the other derivative languages above-men- 
tioned. It is from this strong external and internal 
resemblance, these languages have received the appel- 
lation of the Indo-6ermanic. The prior antiquity of 
the Sanscrit the author infers from the greater length 
and fulness of its words, and the richness and refine- 
ment of its grammatical forms ; for, to use his own 
expression, *' words, like coin, are clipped by use, and 
the languages, where abbreviation prevails, are ever 
the most recent.'^ 

The prescient genius of Leibnitz had foretold a cen- 
tury and a half ago, that the study of languages would 
be found one day to throw a great light on history. 
No one better realized this prediction than Schlegel. 
In the first part of this work, he has proved, by his 
own example, that language is not a mere instrument 
of knowledge, but a science in itself; and when I 
consider the noble use he has made of his Sanscrit 
learning ; when I contemplate all the great and bril- 
liant results of his oriental researches, J must recal 
the sort of regret I expressed a few pages above. 
While in the course of the last fifty years, a number 
of distinguished naturalists have carried the torch of 
science into the dark caverns of the earth, traced by 
its light the physical revolutions ,of our globe, and 
discovered the remains of an extinct world of nature ; 
many illustrious philologists have at the same time 
explored the inmost recesses of language, and, by their 
profound researches, brought to light the fossil re- 
mains of early history, discovered the migrations of 


nations and the changes of empire^ and regained the 
lost traces of portions of our species. This remark- 
able parallelism in the moral and physical inquiries 
of the age will be considered fortuitous by those only, 
who have not watched the luminous course of that 
loving Providence, whose hand is equally visible in 
the progress of science, as in every other department 
of human activity. 

But on no branch of historical knowledge have 
the recent philological researches thrown more light 
than on mythology — a science which the present age 
may be said to have created. While illustrious de- 
fenders of the Christian religion — a Count Stolberg* 
in Germany, and still more, an abb£ de la Mennaisf 
in France, treading in the footsteps of the ancient 
fathers, and of the abler modern apologists, like 
Grotius, Huet and others, have victoriously proved 
the existence of a primeval revelation, the diffusion 
and perpetuity of its doctrines among all the nations 
of the world, civilized and barbarous — the compatibi- 
lity of a belief in the unity of the God-head with the 
crime of idolatry, ranked by the apostle, '' among the 
works of the flesh," — the local nature and object of the 
Mosaic law, destined by the Almighty for the special 
use of a people charged with maintaining, in its purity, 
that worship of Jehovah mostly abandoned or n^- 
lected by the nations, who '' though they knew God, 
did not glorify him as God" — and favoured also with 
the promises of '' the good things to come," intrusted 
with the prophetic records of the life and ministry of 
that Messiah, of whose future coming the Gentiles 
had only a vague and obscure anticipation : — while 

• Geschichte der Religion.— 1804-11. 

t Essai sur Tindifference en matiere de religion : 4 vols. 8to. 
Paris, 1823 ; — a work where learning, eloquence, and philosophy 
have laid their richest offerings at the shrine of Christianity. 


these illustrious defenders of religion, I say, were 
proving the agreement of all the Heathen nations 
in the great dogmas of the primitive revelation ; ano« 
ther class of inquirers (and among these was Schlegel) 
laboured to shew the points of divergence in the 
different systems of Heathenism, studied the peculiar 
genius of each, and traced the influence which cli- 
mate, circumstance, and national character have ex- 
erted over all. The object of the former was to point 
out the general threads of primeval truth in the fabric 
of Paganism — that of the latter to trace the later 
and fanciful intertexture of superstition. For in that 
fantastic web, which we call mythology, truth and 
fiction, poetry and history, physics and philosophy^ 
are all curiously interwoven. Hence the arduous na- 
ture of these researches — hence the difficulties and 
perils which await the investigator at almost every 

Of the second part of this work on India, which 
treats of the religious and philosophical systems of the 
early Asiatic nationis, it is the less necessary here to 
speak, as the reader will find the subject amply discuss- 
ed in the course of the following sheets. It may be pro- 
per, however, to observe that the different philosophic 
errors mentioned by Schlegel, as prevalent in the an- 
cient Asiatic world, may all be resolved to two sys- 
tems — Dualism and Pantheism — the two earliest here- 
sies in the history of religion — the two gulfs, into 
which dark, but presumptuous, reason fell, when, re- 
jecting the light of revelation, she attempted to ex- 
plain those unfathomable mysteries — the origin of 
evil on the one hand, and the co-existence of the 
finite and the infinite on the other. 

On the whole, the '' Wisdom of the Indians" is an 
admirable little book, whether we consider the profound 
and extensive philological knowledge it displays — the 
rich variety of historical perceptions it discloses— the 


cloamcss of its arrangement» and the elegant simplicity 
of the style« In the seven and twenty years which have 
elapsed since this production saw the light, the sub- 
jects discussed in it have undergone ample investiga- 
tion — ^many of its observations have passed into the 
current coin of the learned world — truths which it 
vaguely surmised, have since been fully established — 
and the knowledge of Indian literature and philoso- 
phy has been vastly extended ; yet this is one of 
those works which will be always read with a lively 
interest. It is thus that, in despite of the progress of 
classical philology, the writings of the great critical 
restorers of ancient literature have, after the lapse of 
three centuries, retained their place in public estima- 
tion. It is pleasing to watch the stream of learning 
in its various meanderings — to trace it as it winds 
through a broader, but not always a deeper, channel, 
sullied and disturbed not unfrequently by accidental 
pollutions — ^it is* pleasing to trace it to its source, 
where, from underneath the rock, it wells out in all its 
limpid purity. Prior to the publication of this work, 
the Semitic languages of the East were alone, I be- 
lieve« cultivated with much ardour in Germany ; its 
appearance had the effect of directing the national 
energies towards an intellectual region, where they 
were destined to meet with the most brilliant success ; 
and, if Germany may now boast with reason of her 
illustrious professors of Sanscrit ; if France, under the 
Restoration made such rapid progress in oriental lite- 
rature ; if England, roused from her inglorious apa- 
thy, has at last founded an Asiatic society in London, 
and more recently, the Boden professorship at Oxford 
— these events are, in a great degree, attributable to 
the enthusiasm which this little book excited. 

In the year 18 LO, Schlegel delivered, at Vienna, a 
course of lectures on '^ Modern History." This book, 
which was in two volumes, 8vo., has long been out of 


print ; and the volumes destined to contain it in the 
general collection of the author's works, have not yet 
been published. Hence no account of it can be here 
given — a circumstance which I the more regret, as, 
in the opinion of some, it is Schlegers masterpiece. 
It embodied in a sytematic form the views and opi- 
nions contained in a variety of the author's earlier 
historical essays, which are also out of print, and have 
not yet been republished. In it, I know, are to be 
found the detailed proofs and evidences of many posi- 
tions advanced in the second volume of the work, to 
which this Memoir is prefixed. 

We should, however, form a very inadequate esti- 
mate of the services this great writer has rendered to 
literature, and of the influence he has exerted on his 
age, were we to confine our attention solely to his 
larger works. Throughout his whole life, he was an 
assiduous contributor to periodical literature — a spe- 
cies of writing which, in the present age, has been 
cultivated with signal success in England, France 
and Germany. At the commencement of the present 
century, he edited in conjunction with Tieck, Novalis 
and his brother, a ^literary journal, entitied the Athe- 
naeum ; and afterwards successively conducted poli- 
cal and philosophical journals, such as the '' Europa,'" 
—the " Grerman Museum," — and lastiy the " Concor- 
dia ;" giving latterly, also, his zealous support to the 
Vienna Quarterly Review. Some of his earlier cri- 
tiques have already been noticed. Among the shorter 
literary essays, which appeared in the twelve years 
that elapsed from 1800 to 1812, 1 may notice the one 
entitied ** the Epochs of Literature," 1800 ; and which 
may be considered the first rude outline of those im- 
mortal lectures on the ** History of Literature," which 
he delivered in 1812. Often as he has occasion to 
treat the same subject, yet such is the inexhaustible 
wealth of his intellect, he seldom tires by repetition. 



Thus his minutest fragments^ like the sketches .of 
Raphael, are full of interest and variety. Another 
essay of the same year^ ^on the different style ia 
Goethe's earlier and later works/' shews with what a 
discriminating eye the young critic had already scan-, 
ned all the heights and the depths of this wonderful 
poet. Of this great writer, the moral direction of 
some of whose writings he reprobated in the strong- 
est degree, he did not hesitate to say that, like Dante 
in the middle age, he was the founder of a new order 
of poetry — that he had been the first to restore the 
art to the elevation from which, since the commence- 
ment of the seventeenth century, it had sunk — that he 
united the amenity of Homer — the ideal beauty of 
Sophocles — and the wit of Aristophanes. The opi- 
nion which in youth he had formed of the great 
national poet of Germany, his maturer experience fully, 
confirmed. Eight years afterwards he published a long 
and elaborate critique on Goethe's lays, songs, ele- 
gies, and miscellaneous poems. Pre-eminently great 
as Groethe is in every branch of poetry, in songs he 
is allowed to stand perfectly unrivalled. '^ From the 
shores of the Baltic to the frontiers of Alsace," says 
the Baron d'Eckstein, ** the lyric poetry of Goethe lives 
in the hearts and on the lips of an enthusiastic peo- 
ple." In this reviewal we find, among other things, a 
learned and ingenious dissertation on the various 
species of lyric poetry — the lay, the romance, the 
ballad, and the occasional poem ; on the nature, ob- 
ject, and limits of each — their points of resemblance, 
and points of difference, together with observations on 
the fitness of certain metres for certain kinds of poetry. 
From his youth upwards, Schlegel was in the 
habit of seeking, in the delightful worship of the 
muse, a solace and relaxation from his severer and 
more laborious pursuits. Without making preten- 
sions to anything of a very high order his poetry is 


remarkable for a chaste, classical diction, great har* 
mony and flexibility of versification, a sweet elegance 
of fancy, and, at times, depth and tenderness of feeling. 
Friendship, patriotism and piety are the noble themes 
to which he consecrates his strains. What spirit and 
fire in his lines on Mohammed*s flight from Mecca ! 
What a noble burst of nationality in his address to 
the Rhine ! How touching the verses to the memory 
of his much-loved friend, Novalis — that sweet flower 
of poesy and philosophy, cut off in its early bloom ! 
In the lines to Corinna, what lofty consolations are 
administered to that illustrious woman, under the 
persecutions she had to sustain from the Imperial des- 
potism of France ! And in the sonnet entitled '' Peace,'' 
1806, what lessons of exalted wisdom are given to the 
men of our time ! 

The longer poem, entitled '' Hercules Musagetes," 
is among the most admired of the author's pieces. 
His original poems equal in number, though not in 
excellence, those of his brother ; for it would be ab- 
surd to expect that this universal genius should shine 
equally in every department of letters. The flexible, 
graceful, harmonious genius of Augustus William 
Schlegel has at different periods enriched his own 
tongue with the noblest literary treasures of ancient 
and modem Italy, of Portugal , Spain and England ; 
and his immortal translations; which have superior 
merit to any original poems, but those of the highest 
order, are admitted by competent judges to have done 
more than the works of any writer, except Goethe, 
for improving the rhythm and poetical diction of his 
country. The great poetical powers which his short 
original pieces, as well as his translations, display, 
make it a matter of regret that he should have so 
much confined himself to translation, and never ven- 
tured on the composition of a great poem. 

Both these incomparable brothers are minds emi- 


nently poetical, and eminently philosophical. In one 
the poetic element prevails — in the other, the philo- 
sophical element» and, by a great deal, predominates. 
In their early productions we can scarcely discrimi- 
nate the features of these apparently intellectual 
twins : but, as their genius ripens to manhood, the one 
becomes an etherial Apollo, full of grace, energy, and 
majesty — the other an intellectual Hercules, of the 
most gigantic strengtl^ and colossal stature. 

In was in the Spring of 1812 that Schlegel de- 
livered, before a numerous and distinguished audience 
at Vienna, his lectures on ancient and modem litera- 
ture. Of this work, which a Grerman critic has cha- 
racterised '' as a great national possession of the 
Germans," and which has been translated into several 
European languages, and is so well known to the 
English reader by the excellent translation which ap- 
peared in 1818, it is unnecessary to speak at much 
length. Here were concentrated in one focus all those 
radii of criticism that this powerful mind had so long 
emitted. Here, at the bidding of a potent magician, 
the lords of intellect — the mighty princes of litera- 
ture of all times — 

'^ The dead, yet sceptred, sovereigns, who still rule 
Our spirits from their urns" — 

pass before our eyes in stately procession— each with 
his distinct physiognomy — his native port — and 
all clothed with a fresh immortality. Literature is 
considered not merely in reference to art — but in rela- 
tion to the influence it has exerted on the destinies of 
mankind» and to the various modifications which the 
religion, the government, the laws, the manners, and 
habits of different nations have caused it to undergo. 
The first quality that must strike us in this work is 
the admirable arrangement which has formed so many 
and such various materials into one harmonious whole. 


By what an easy and natural transition does the 
author pass from the Greek to the Roman literature ! 
With what admirable skill he passes, in the age of 
Hadrian, from the old Roman to the oriental litera- 
ture, and from the latter back again to the Christian 
literature of the middle age ! How skilfully he baa 
interwoven, in this sketch of oriental letters, the no- 
tices of the ancients and the researches of the modems 
on the East ! The next characteristic of this work is gi- 
gantic learning. To that intimate familiarity with the 
poets, historians, orators and philosophers of classical 
antiquity which his earlier writings had displayed — 
to the profound knowledge of oriental, and especially 
Sanscrit, literature evinced in the above^aoticed work 
OB India ; we now see added a knowledge of the long 
buried treasures of the old German and Provencal 
poetry of the middle age — the scholastic philosophy — 
the principal modern European literatures in their 
several periods of bloom, maturity and decay. What 
a strong light, also, is thrown on some dark passages 
in the history of philosophy ! Where shall we find a 
more curious, graphic, and interesting account of 
the mystics of the middle age, and of the German and 
Italian Platonists of the fifteenth and six,teenth cen- 
turies ! Every page bears the stamp of long and dili- 
gent inquiry, and original investigation. The minute 
traits — the accurate drawing — the freshness and vivid- 
ness of colouring — the truth and life-like reality in 
this whole picture of literature, prove that the artist 
drew from the original, and not a copy. No better 
proof can be adduced of the accuracy ^ as well as extent 
of learning which distinguished this illustrious man 
and his brother, than the fact that their different 
works on classical, oriental and modem literature 
have received the approbation of such scholars, as 
made those several branches of knowledge the special 
objects of their study and inquiry. Thus their labours 


on Greek and Roman poetry met with the hig^b sanc- 
tion of a Heyne^ a Wolf^ and other distinguished 
Hellenists — their works on Sanscrit literature have 
been commended by a Guignault — a Remusat — a 
Chezy, and our own academicians of Calcutta ; and 
their critiques on Shakspeare and the early English 
poets have been approved by the national critics, and 
especially by one who had devoted many years to the 
study of our elder poetry — I mean that able critic and 
accomplished scholar — the late Mr. Gifford. 

The other and more important characteristics of 
this work are delicacy of taste, solidity of judgment, 
vigour and boldness of fancy, and depth and compre- 
hensiveness of understanding. Here we see united, 
though in a more eminent degree, the acuteness, sa- 
gacity, and erudition of Lessing — the high artist- 
like enthusiasm of Winkelmann — and that exquisite 
sense of the beautiful, that vigorous, flexible and ex- 
cursive fancy which made the genius of Herder at 
home in every region of art, and in every clime of 
poesy. The intellectual productions of every age and 
country — ^the primitive oriental world — classical anti- 
quity — the middle age— and modern times, pass under 
review, and receive the same impartial attention — ^the 
same just appreciation — the same masterly characteri- 
zation. In a work so full of beauties, it is difficult to 
make selections — ^but, were I called upon to point out 
specimens of succinct criticism, which, for justness 
and delicacy of discrimination — a poetic soaring of 
conception — and depth of observation, are unsurpas- 
sed, perhaps, in the whole range of literature, I should 
name the several critiques on Homer — Lucretius — 
Dante — Calderon — and Cervantes. The part least 
well done is that which treats of the literature of the 
last two centuries ; but, from the vast multiplicity of 
details, it was impossible for the author, within his 
narrow limits, to do full justice to this part of his 


subject. He has not paid due homage to several of 
the great writers that adorned the'reigu of Louis XIV. 
He drops but one word on Pascal, and passes 
Mallöbranche over in silence; though if ever there 
were writers deserving the notice of the historian 
of literature and philosophy, it was surely those 
two eminent men. In general, Schlegel was too fond 
of crowding his figures within a narrow canvass — 
hence many of them could not be placed in a suitable 
light or position ; and several of his heads appear but 
half-sketched. This is not a mere book of criticism — 
U is a philosophical work in the widest sense of the 
word — ^the genius of the author is ever soaring above 
his subject — ever springing from the lower world of 
art, to those high and aerial regions of philosophy still 
more native to his spirit. To him the beautiful was 
only the sjrmbol of the divine — hence the tone of 
earnestness and solemnity which be carries even into 
aesthetic dissertations. The style too, of this '' history 
of literature" leaves little to be desired. To the light- 
ness, clearness, and elegance of diction which had dis- 
tinguished Schlegel's earlier productions, was here 
united a greater richness and copiousness of expres- 
sion, and a more harmonious fulness and roundness of 
period. From this time« however, (if an Englishman 
may presume to offer an opinion on such a subject,) a 
decline may, I think, be observed in his style. His 
mind, indeed, seemed to gain strength and expansion 
with the advance of years — the horizon of his views was 
perpetually enlarged — and in vastness of conception, 
and profundity of observation, his last philosophical 
works outshine even those of his early manhood. 
Yet to whatever cause we are to attribute the fact — 
whether it be that his last works had not received from 
his hands the same careful revisal — or whether some 
men as they advance in life, become as negligent in 
their style as in their dress — or whether he at last 
VOL. I. d 


gave in to the bad practice so prevalent in Germany^ 
of disregarding the lighter graces of diction— certain 
it is^ that his later writings, much as they may have 
gained in excellence of matter, and presenting, as they 
do, passages perhaps of superior power and splendour, 
are on the whole no longer characterised by the same 
uniform terseness and perspicuity of language. 

With the *• History of ancient and modem lite- 
rature," Schlegel closed bis critical career. He never 
afterwards mounted the tribunal of criticism, except 
on one occasion, when he awarded in favour of the 
early poetical effusions of M. de la Martine, a solemn 
sentence of approbation.* He now devoted himself 
with exclusive ardour to the graver concerns of poli- 
tics and philosophy. Nor can we regret this resolu- 
tion on his part, when we reflect that as far as regttrds 
literature, he had done all that was necessary — ^that 
he bad now only to leave to time to work out his 
eesthetic principles in the German mind — and that 

* In the beautiful critique inserted in the Concordia on M. de 
la Martine's *^ Meditations poetiques/' (1820) Schlegel observes that 
Lord ßyron was the representative of a by-gone poesy, and La 
Martine the hendd of a new Christian poetry that was to come. 
Comparing the three greatest contempamry poets out of his own 
country, Scott, Byron, and La Martine, Schlegel aaw in the prodoc- 
tioiis of the first, the poetry of a vague reminiscence—in those of 
the second, the poetry of despair ; and in those of the last, the 
commencement of a poetry of hope.* Mucli as he reprobated the 
anti-christian spirit and tendency of Lord Bjrron's muse, and much 
as he rejoiced that its pernicious influence was in some degree coun- 
teracted by the noble effusions of the French rhapeodist^ he still 
rendered full justice to the great genius of the British bard. * He 
calls him in one oi his last works, " the wonderful English poet — 
perhaps the greatest — certainly the most remarkable poet of our 
times :"t — an encomium which Byron's admirers may learn to ap- 
preciate, when they remember who his contemporaries were, and 
who the critic was, that pronounced this judgment. 

* See hi« History of Literature, rot. 2. New edition in German. 
t Philorofhie des ebena^pageSl. 


should further elucidation on these topics be required, 
the distinguished Tieck^ and his iUustfious brother 
were at hand to furnish the requisite aid. But in 
metaphysics and political philosophy, what German 
could supply bis place 1 

In the four eventful years which elapsed from 
1806 to 1812» occupations as new to Schlegel as they 
were important and various in themselves, filled up 
the active life of this extraordinary man. In the 
Austrian campaign of 1800, he was employed as se^ 
cretary to the Afchdul^e Charles ; and it is said that 
his eloquent proclamations had considerable effect in 
kindling the patriotism of the Austrian people. It 
was about the same time, he founded a daily paper, 
called " the Austrian Observer," which has since be- 
come the official organ of the Austrian government. 
The establishment of this journal-^ the situation which 
Schlegel had previously held at the head-quarters of 
the Archduke Charles — the diplomatic missions in 
which after the peace of 1814, he was employed by 
Prince Mettemich who^ be it said to the glory of that 
illustrious statesman, ever honoured him with his 
friendship and patronage-^-ahd finally the pension» 
letters of nobility, and office of Aulic Councillor, 
which the emperor was pleased to confer on him, may 
induce some of my readers to suppose that his politi- 
cal views were identified with those of the govern- 
ment, in whose service he was occasionally engaged ; 
and that he was an unqualified admirer of the whole 
foreign and domestic policy of Austria. No concep- 
tion can be more erroneous. As Secretary to the 
Archduke Charles, he knew he lent his support to a 
government which had shown itself the most honest, 
vigilant, and powerful friend of German independence 
— he knew he fought the battle of his country against 
an unholy and execrable tyranny, which, whatever 
shape it mi&rht assume — whether that of a lawless de- 



mocracy or a ruthless despotism — ^was alike inimical 
to Christianity — alike fatal to the peace, the happiness, 
and the liberties of every country it subdued. In the 
next place, it is not usual even in the representative 
system, still less under a government constituted like 
that of Austria, to exact a perfect conformity of poli- 
tical sentiments between diplomatic agents and the 
heads of administration. Again the pension, title, 
and dignity which Schlegel received at the hands of 
the Emperor of Austria, were the well-earned recom- 
pence of distinguished services, and not the badges of 
«ervility. Lastly with respect to the " Austrian Ob- 
server," his motive in establishing that journal was 
purely patriotic. To enkindle the warlike enthusiasm 
of the Austrian people — to unite the weakened, di- 
vided, and distracted states of Germany in a common 
league against a common foe — to procure for his 
country the first of all political blessings — that with- 
out which all others are valueless — national indepen- 
dence ; such was his object in this undertaking — such 
the object of every sincere and reflecting patriot of 
Germany at that period. The leaning towards a sta- 
tionary absolutism, which has marked this journal 
since Schlegel gave up the conduct of it, belongs to 
its present editors ; but that tone of dignified modera- 
tion, which according to the express acknowledgment 
of German Liberals, it carries into the discussion of 
political matters — that aversion from all extreme and 
violent parties and measures in politics, which distin- 
guishes this journal, betray the illustrious hand which 
first set it in motion. 

Nothing, in fact, can be more dissimilar than the 
policy long followed by the Austrian government, and 
that which Schlegel would have recommended, and 
did in fact recommend« What, especially since the 
time of the Emperor Joseph II., has characterized the 
general policy of this government? In respect to 


ecclesiastical matters^ we still see (thoagh the evil 
was mitigated by the piety of the late emperor), we 
still see that government, by a restless, encroaching 
spirit of jealousy, hamper the jurisdiction, and cramp 
the moral and intellectual energies of the clergy.' In 
relation to the people, its sway is mild and paternal^ 
indeed, but at the same time, intrusive, meddling and 
vexatious — ^it is, in short, a dead, mechanical absolu- 
tism, where all spontaneity of popular action has been 
destroyed — all equilibrium of powers overturned — and 
where royalty, by an irregular attraction, has disturb- 
ed, deranged, or compressed the movements of the 
other social bodies. With respect to science, those best 
acquainted with the policy of this government affirm, 
that its patronage is too exclusively confined to the 
mechanical arts and the physical sciences. In short, 
no where has the political materialism of the eighteenth 
century attained a more systematic development than 
in the Austrian government. Yet in that empire are to 
be found all the elements of a great social regeneration ; 
and to a minister desirous of earning enduring fame, to 
a monarch ambitious of living for ever in the hearts of 
a grateful people, the noblest opportunity is presented 
for reviving, renovating, and bringing to perfection 
the free, glorious, but now alas ! mutilated and half- 
effaced institutions of the middle age. 

If such is the policy of the Austrian government 
in relation to the church, to liberty, and to science, it 
^ is needless to observe how entirely opposed it was to 
the views of Schlegel. His whole life was devoted to 
the cultivation and diffusion of elegant literature and 
liberal science ; and any policy which tended to^ob- 
. struct their progress, or shackle the energies of the 
human mind, must have been most adverse to his 
feelings and wishes. As a sincere friend to religious 
liberty, as well as a good Catholic, he must have de- 
plored the bondage under which the church groaned ; 


and how ardetiüy attached be was to the c^use of po^ 
pulsu: freedom^ how utterly averse from any thing like 
absolutism fu p<^itics, the feaderwill soon hate an 
opportunity of judging for himself. 

But hetote I quit this iiubject, ttannot fbfbear 
noticing the very exaggerated ^»taleliientB uometimes 
put forth by party spirit in England^ respecting the 
state of learning in the Austrian empire. Without 
pretending to any personal knowledge of that country, 
there are however a certain numbet of admitted and 
well-attested facts, which prove that however inferior 
in mental cultivation Austria may be to dome other 
states of Catholic as well as Protectant Germany, she 
yet holds a distinguished place in literature and 
science. The very general diffusion of popular edu* 
cation in that country— the great success with which 
all the arts and sciences connected with industry are 
cultivated-^the admirable organization of its medical 
board — the distinguished physicians, theoretical as 
well as practical, whom it has produced — the great 
attention bestowed on strategy and the sciences sub^ 
servient to it^the excellence to which the histrionic 
art has there attained — the universal passion for 
music, and the unrivalled degree of perfecti<m the art 
has there reached ^he acknowledged superiority of the 
Quarterly Review of Vienna, {the Wiener Jaht^ücher) 
—lastly, the fovour, count^ance, and entoumgement 
extended by the Austrian public to the oral lectures 
and published writings of the eminent literary cha- 
racters, whether natives or foreigners> who for the 
last thirty years have thrown such a glory over dieir 
capital — all these incontrovertible facts, I say, prove 
this people to have reached an advanced stage of in- 
tellectual refinement. So far from finding among the 
Viennese that Bseotian dulness of which we sometimes 
hear them accused, Augustus William Schlegel (and 
his testimony is impartial, for he is neither a native 


nor resideiU o( Austria,} confesses* that he discovered 
in then greMt aptness of intelUgpence^ a keen relish 
for the beaatiea of poetry, and much c^ the vivacity of 
theSoulhen temperament. 4nd the crowded audi- 
ences irhich flocked to the philosofthical lectures 
Fiederick Schlegel delivered on various occasions at 
Viennay a metaphysician of equal celebrity might in 
vain look for in another JSuropean capital I could 
name, and which certainly considers itself very en- 
lightened« There is no doubt that this Archduchy of 
Austria, which in the middle age produced some of 
the most celebiated Minnesingers, would with free 
institutioBs amd a more generous policy on the part of 
the government, soon attain that intellectual station, 
to wUch its political greatness, and recent as well as 
ancient military glory alike bid it to aspire. If the 
statesmen that rule the destinies of that country were 
to regard äie matter merely in a political point of 
view, they mighit see what moral dignity, weight and 
importance, the patronage of letters hsA given to the 
Protestant King of Prussia on the one hand, and to 
the Catholic King of Bavaria on tlie other. 

For several yeai^s after ibß peace of 1814, Schlegel 
was one of the representatives of the Court of Vienna 
at the diet of Fraiü&foxt. These diplomatic functions 
occasioned a tenqiorary interruption to his literary 
pursuits — ^an interrmption which will be regretted by 
those only who have not reflected on the advantages 
of active life to the man of letters. The high dignity 
with which he was now invested — the commanding 
view which his station gave hisn of European politics 
— the insight he was enabled to obtain into the poli- 
tical state and relations of Ccrmany — as well as the 
society and conv^araation of some of the most illus- 
^— ^■^— ■"— ^■^■-""^^^^^^^■"^■^■^^^"■^^"^^■^■"^"^^^■^^"^"^■^•^■""'^^■"""•~~"^"^^"~^~ ■ — ^— ^— » 
* See the Preface lo the Lsetiveft on Dramalic Literature, in the 
French translation. 


trious statesmen of the age, were all of iaeiBtimabte 
senice to the Publicist ; and by making him acquaint- 
ed with the excdleneies as well as defects of existing 
governments^ the obstacles which retard the progress 
of improvement^ the ill success which sometimes at- 
tends even well-considered measures of Reform, were 
calculated to check the rashness of speculation, in- 
spire sobriety of judgment, and at the same time 
enlarge his views of political philosophy. In the year 
1818, he returned to Vienna, and resumed his literary 
occupations with renewed ardour. He wrote the fol- 
lowing year in the Vienna Quarterly Review, (the 
Wiener Jahrbücher,) a long and elaborate reviewal of 
M. Rhode's work on primitive history. This reviewal, 
which from its length may fairly be called a treatise, 
contains a clear, succinct, and masterly exposition of 
those views on the early history of mankind, which he 
has on some points more fully developed in the work, 
of which a translation is now given. This article, 
which alternately delights and astonishes us by the 
historical learning, the philological skill, the curious 
geographical lore, and the bold, profound and original 
philosophy it displays, may be considered one of the 
most admirable commentaries ever written on the first 
eleven chapters of the book of Genesis ; and in none 
of his shorter essays has the genius of the illustrious 
writer shone more pre-eminently than this.* 

The year 1820 was marked by the simultaneous 
outbreak of several revolutions in different countries 
of Europe, and by symptoms of general discontent, 
distrust, and agitation in other parts. The violent, 
though transitory volcanic eruptions wjiich convulsed 
and desolated the south of Europe, scattered sparkles 
and ashes on the already burning soil of France, and 
shook on her rocky bed even the ocean-queen. In 
Germany the wild revolutionary enthusiasm which 

* See Sämmtliche werke, vol. x. p. 267. 


pervaded a large portion of the yoath — the frenzied 
joy v^ith which the assassination of Kotzbue had been 
hailed — the wide spread of associations fatal to the 
peace and freedom of mankind^ and the pernicious anti- 
social doctrines proclaimed in many writings, and even 
from some professorial chairs, led tbe different govern- 
ments to measures of severe scrutiny and jealous vigi- 
lance, likely by a re-action to prove dangerous to the 
cause of liberty. The causes of these various social 
phenomena it is not my business here to point out ; 
but I may observe in passing, that these discontents — 
these struggles — these revolutions bad their origin 
partly in natural causes, partly in the errors both of 
governments and nations. The general disjointing of 
all interests— the derangement in the concerns of all 
classes of society produced by the transition from a 
state of long protracted warfare to a state of general 
peace — the blunders committed by the Congress of 
Vienna in the settlement of Europe — the blind recur- 
rence in some European states to the thoroughly worn- 
out absolutism of the eighteenth century, injurious as 
that political system had proved to religion, to social 
order, and to national prosperity — in other countries, 
a rash imitation of the mere outward forms of the 
British constitution, without any true knowledge of 
its internal organism — above all, the deadly legacy of 
anti- christian doctrines, and anti-social principles, 
which the last age had bequeathed to the present^ 
such, independently of minor and more local reasons, 
are the principal causes, to which, I think, the impar- 
tial voice of history will ascribe the political commo- 
tions of that period. It was now evident that the 
great work of European Restoration had been but 
half-accomplished ; and that the malignant Typhon of 
revolution was collecting his scattered members, re- 
cruiting his exhausted energies, and preparing anew 
to assault, oppress, and desolate the world. 


Alanaed at the political aspect of Oermaay and 
Earope, Schlegel deemed die »omeat had airiyed,. 
wbea every friend of Teligion and social order slKMild 
be foand at his post. The iiaportaiice of the straggle 
— the violence of paities — the false line of policy 
adopted by most governments— the errors and delu- 
sions too prevalent even among many of the defen- 
ders of legitimacy, lendeied the warning voice of an 
enlighteaed mediator more necessary than ever. In 
conjunction with his iliiistrions friend, Adam Müller, 
and seme of the RedCToptorists — a most aUe, amiable, 
and exemplary body of ecclesiastics at Vienna — he 
established in 1820, a religious and political joamal, 
entiüed ** Concordia." In a seiies of articles, entitled 
*' Charaoteiistics of the age," and which contain a 
most masterly sketch of the politicid state and pros- 
pects of the principal European countries, Sdilegel 
has given a fuller exposition of his political princi- 
jdes, than in any other of his writings which have 
oome under my notice. The extreme interest and im- 
portance of dbie matters discussed In these artides^ . 
and still more, the light therjr throw on very mmiy pas- 
sa:geB in the following translation, have induced me to 
lay before the reader a rapid analysis of sach parts 
as embody the author's political system« 1 AaB, 
therefore now proceed to this task, premiang that in 
4his analysis I shall occasionally interweave a re- 
mark of my own, to iilnstrate the axttheir's views. — 

There are five essential and eternal oorporatiem 
in human society — die lamily — the cfawch — the state 
— ^the gnild— «nd the school« 

I. The family is the smallest and simplest corpo- 
ration — the ground-work of all the others ; — ^and on 
its right constitution and moral development depend» 
as we shall presently see, the freedom, prosperity, and 
enlightenment of the state, the gnild, and the scfaooL 

II. With respect to the church, its constitution 


under the primitive rorrelation was purdy domestic ; 
religious instructSon and the solemnization of religi* 
ous offices^ being intmsted to the heads of families 
and tribes. In the Mosaic law, the Almighty founded 
a pnblk ministiy in the synagogne^ which was an ad- 
mirabte type of Üie ftitnre constitution of the Chris- 
tian church. Unlike the local and temporary syna- 
gogue, tiie Christian church is peqietual and universal 
— but like the synagogue, it hath a puUic ministry. 
"T%is church, to use Schleg«rs own words, is that 
great and divine corporation which embraces all other 
social ii^Iations, protects them under its vault, crowns 
them with dignity, and lovingly imparts to them die 
power i^f a peculiar consecration^ Hie church is not 
a mere substitute formed to supply or repair the de- 
ficiencies of the other social institutes and corpora«^ 
tions ; but is itself a free, peculiar, independent cor- 
poration, pervading all states, and in its object exalte 
ed for above them — an union and society with Ood, 
from whom it immediately derives its sustaining 

in. Between these two covporations the family^ 
that deep, solid foundation of the social edifice below 
— and the church, that high, expansive and illumined 
vault above-^stands tiie state« Schlegel defines the 
state, *' a corporation anned for the maintenance of 
peace.^ Its existence, says ho, is bound up with all 
the other corporations ; it lives and inov«s in tiieBi ; 
they are its naturid organs ; and as soon «s the Mate, 
whe&er with despotic or anarchical views, attempts 
to impede the natmrid functions of diese organs, to 
disturb or derange their peculiar sphere of action, it 
impairs its own vital powers, and prepares the way 
sooner or later for its own destmction«" 

IV. There are two intermedialie corporations — ^the 

Concordia, page 69. 


guild, ^bicli stands between the family and the 
state; and the school, which stands between the 
church and the state« By the guild, Schlegel under- 
stands '' every species of traffic, industry and com- 
merce, bound together in every part of the world by 
the common tie of money." The object of this corpo- 
ration is the advancement of the material interests 
of the family ; interests which it is the bounden duty 
of the state to protect and promote. 

V. By the school, the author signifies the '' whole 
intellectual culture of mankind — not merely the 
existing republic of letters, but all the tradition of 
science from the remotest ages to the present times/' 
This corporation, I should say, has for its object the 
glorification of the church, the utility of the state» 
and the intellectual activity of the family, or rather 
its individual members. 

But among these primary corporations, it is the 
state which forms the immediate object of the author's 
inquiries. I shall now proceed to lay before the rea- 
der the several characteristics which, according to 
the author, distinguish the Christian state, or the 
state animated with the spirit of Christianity. 

§§ I. The Christian state is without slaves, an<L honours- 

the sanctity of the nuptial tie. 
Christianity first mitigated, and then abolished 
slavery. Slavery is incompatible with the spirit of 
Christianity, not only on account of the maltreatment, 
injuries, and oppression to which it subjects men ; 
not only on account of the dangers to which it ex- 
poses female virtue ; but chiefly and especially, be- 
cause the state of slavery is one inconsistent with 
the dignity of a being made after the likeness of God. 
This complete emancipation of the lower classes from 
the bonds of servitude pre-eminently distinguishes 
the modern Christian states from those of classical 


aotiquity on the one hand, and those of the primitive 
oriental world on the other. In the former, domestic 
and predial slavery were carried to the last degree of 
harshness and seyerity — in the latter, especially in 
India, a totally different form of servitude existed. 
There the innocent descendants of those who had been 
goilty of certain crimes, or who had contracted onlaw- 
ful marriages, were doomed to a state of irremediable 
oppression, debarred from all civil rights, and ex- 
cluded from the very charities of life. The fate of 
these hapless beings was even harder than that of the 
slaves among the ancient Greeks and Romans. As 
the exclusion of a whole class from the rights of 
citizenship and the offices of religion is incompatible 
with the principles of Christian love ; so the here- 
ditary transmission of the sacerdotal dignity is in- 
consistent with the Christian doctrine, which incul- 
cates the necessity of a divine call to the priesthood. 
Hence the incompatibility which exists between the 
system of castes and the Christian religion. 

The author shows that the various species of vas- 
salage are clearly distinguishable from slavery ; yet 
that even these have yielded to the benign spirit of 
Christianity. The existence of slavery in the Chris- 
tian colonies no wise militates against the principle 
here laid down: for the slave-trade has ever been 
condemned by all Christian nations aa wicked and 
unjust ; and slavery, the introduction of which into 
the colonies the church had so strenuously opposed, 
was afterwards tolerated by her only as a necessary 
evil. For, as Schlegel observes with his characteristic 
wisdom, " the sudden abolition of an evil that has 
become an inveterate habit in society, is mostly atr 
tended vrith danger, and frequently works another 
wrong of an opposite kind."* But this is one of those 

* CoDCordia, page 363. 


truths^ which the giddy^ reckless spirit of a spurtoas 
philanthropy can neyer be made to comprehend. 

As the Christian state abhors slavery from its in- 
consistency with the dignity of man, so> for the same 
reason, it guards with jealous vigilance, the sanctity 
and inviolability of the nuptial tie. Polygamy de- 
grades woman from her natural rank in society — de- 
stroys the happiness of private life — poisons the 
very well-springs of education — and connected as it 
too frequently is with a traffic in slaves, plunges the 
male sex into irremediable degradation.* This prac- 
tice is supposed to have originated with the Cainites 
in the ante-diluvian world; but for high and pru- 
dential reasons, it was tolerated rather than approved 
under the Patriarchal dispensation and the Mosaic 
law. In the ancient Asiatic monarchies, especially in 
the period of their decline, this usage sometimes pre- 
vailed to a licentious extent; but in the modem 
Mahometan states, where polygamy is indulged in to 
the most libidinous excess, this defective constitution 
of the family has proved one of the greatest barriers 
to political and intellectual improvement. 

In ancient Greece and Rome, how far superior was 
the legislation on marriage ! How much more health- 
ful and vigorous was the constitution of domestic 
society i What a fine idea do we conceive of the early 
Romaics, when we read that though the law sanctioned 
divorce, yet that for the first five hundred years, no 
individual took advantage of such a law I In the cor- 
rupt ages of Imperial Rome, divorce, permitted and 
practised on the most frivolous pretexts, was pro- 
ductive of more baneful consequences than Polygamy 
in its worst form. 

Polygamy is proscribed in all Christian states. In 
the Catholic church, marriage is raised to the dignity 

* See Concordia. 


of a sacrament ; and divorce is not pennitted^ even 
in the case of adultery. Hereby woman is invested 
with the highest degree of dignity^ and even inflmence 
— the union and happiness of the family are best se- 
cured — and the peace and stability of the state itself 
acquire the strongest guarantees. It is well known 
that some of the ablest divines of the church ot Eng- 
land also ujdiold in all cases the indissolubility of 
the nuptial tie ; and the British legislature, by accord- 
ing divorce only after adultery, and by rendering the 
obtaining of it a matter of difficulty and expense, has 
wisely opposed limitations to the practice. Yet, as 
was truly observed some years ago in parliament, the 
increase in the number of applications for divorce, 
is one among the many signs of the decline of mora- 
lity in this country. 

The principal Protestant churches regard marriage 
as a religious ceremony ; and so the general proposi- 
tion of Schlegel is correct, that all Christian states 
recognize the sanctity of the nuptial bond. And here 
is one of the main causes of the superior happiness, 
freedom and civiliaation enjoyed by Christian nations. 

§§ II. Christian Justice is founded on a system of equity, 
and the Christian state luss from its constitution, an 
essentially pacific tendency. 

Schlegel observes diat the difference between strict 
law and equitable law is the most arduous problem 
in all jurisprudence. Strict law is an abstract law, 
deduced from certain general principles, applied with- 
out the least regard to adventitious circumstances. 
Equity, on the other hand, pays due regard to such 
circumstances, examines into the peculiar state of 
things, and the mutual relations of parties ; and forms 
her decisions not according to the caprice of fancy, 
or the waywardness of feeling, but according to the 
general principles of right, applied to the variable 
circumstances and situations of parties. 


According to the author's definition^ the object of 
the institution of the state is the maintenance of in- . 
ternal and external peace. Justice is the only basis 
of peace ; but justice is here the meatis, and not the end. 
If justice were the end for which the state was con- 
stituted^ then neither external nor internal peace 
could ever be procured or maintained ; for the state 
would then be compelled to wage eternal war against 
all who, at home or abroad, were guilty of injustice, 
and could never lay down its arms till that injustice, 
were removed. 

As peace is essentially the end of that great cor- 
poration called the state ; it follows that the justice 
by which its foreign and domestic policy must be re- 
gulated, is not that strict or absolute justice spoken of 
above, but that temperate or conciliatory equity, which, 
is alone applicable to the concerns of men. The 
maxim, '' a thousand years' wrong cannot constitute 
an hour's right," if applied to civil jurisprudence, 
would introduce interminable confusion, hardship and 
misery in the affairs of private life, and if applied to 
constitutional and international law, would lead to 
perpetual anarchy at home, and to endless^ extermi- 
nating war abroad. 

The Christian religion, as it comes from God, 
is eminently social — ^hence it abhors the principle of 
absolute or inexorable right, whether applied to civil 
or public law — whence the Christian state, or the state 
animated with the spirit of Christianity, is in its ten- 
dency essentially pacific. 

This pacific policy of the state, however, so far 
from excluding, necessarily implies the firm, uncom- ^ 
promising vindication of its rights and interests, whe* 
tber at home or abroad ; and the repression of evil 
doers within, or a just war without, is often the only 
means of attaining the object for which the state was 
constituted — to wit, the maintenance of peace. On 


the other hand, the revolutionary state, or the state 
where, in opposition to existing rights and interests, 
new rights and interests are violently enforced ; and 
where, in subversion of all established institutions, 
new institutions, conceived according to abstract and 
arbitrary theories, are violently introduced ; the revo- 
lutionary state, I say, is, from its nature and origin — 
no matter what form it may assume — necessarily driven 
to a course of iniquitous policy — to disorganizing ty- 
ranny within, and to fierce, relentless hostility without. 
Against the pacific character of the Christian state, 
the bloody wars of Charlemagne with the Saxons, the 
Crusades of a later period, and the religious wars of 
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are commonly 
objected. In the course of the work, to which this 
memoir is prefixed, the reader will find these several 
objections victoriously answered. 

§ III. The Christian state recognizes the legal existence 
of Corporations^ and depends on their organic co-opera- 

The author has before shown that the Christian 
religion, following the principle of conciliatory equity, 
recognizes, without reference to their origin, all ex- 
isting rights and interests. Hence the Christian reli- 
gion can, and has in fact co-existed, with 
every form or species of government. But there are 
some governments which, from their spirit and consti- 
tution, are more congenial than others to Christianity ; 
and it is in this sense we speak of the Christian state. 

We have already seen that there are five essential 
and eternal corporations — the family — the church — 
the state — the guild, and the school. These great 
corporations have each their several and subordinate 
institutions or corporations, which are accidental and 
transitory by nature, and consequently vary with time, 
place, and circumstances. 

The Christian state is that which best secures and 

VOL. I. c 


presenres to those essential corponttionsy and all their 
subordinate institutions, their due sphere of action. 
Hence our author shows that, under certün circum» 
stances, and in certain countries, the Republic, whe- 
ther democratic or aristocratic, may answer that end 
as well or eyen better than monarchy ; and that it is 
mily because, in great empires, monarchy is best cal- 
culated to maintain the free developement and organic 
co-operation of corporations, that it may be called, 
par excellence, the Christian state. But what form of 
monarchy is best adapted for this end ? The absolute 
monarchy* is certainly the least : there tiien remain 
only the representative system, and the constitution of 
the three estates^ or as the Germans call that mode of 
gOTcmment, Stande-verfassung« Schlegel proceeds to 
examine the respective characteristics of those two 
forms of government, and to show the points in which 
they agree, and in which they differ. The constitution 
of estates is the old, legitimate constitution of the 
European states, whether republican or monarchical ; 
but, in too many countries, this noble institution has 
been undermined by despotism, or destroyed by revo- 
lution. On the otiier hand, the representative sys- 
tem is comparatively modem, and, on the continent, 
has, amid the great convulsions produced by the French 
revolution, sprung out of a defective and superficial 
imitation of the British constitution. It is therefore 
to the latter constitution the author, when he has oc- 
casion to treat of the representative system, princi- 
pally directs the attention of his readers. 

As to the points of resemblance between this sys- 
tem, and the states-constitution, both have legislative 

* In a nomber of the Concordia for \%S0, Adam Mikller frankly 
declared his opinion, that all the friends of social order would soon 
concur in the necessity of re-establishing the constitution of the 
three estates. This is language which at Vienna is as bold as it is 


assemblies— in botb^ petitions and remonstrances are 
addressed to the throne, and in both, the grant of sub- 
sidies rests chiefly with the commons; while to the 
enactment of every law, the concurrence of the düBTer- 
ent branches of the legislature is essentially requisite. 
Bot, in many important points, these two forms of go- 
vernment totally differ. In the states-constitution, the 
crown is invested with more power and dignity. With 
more dignity, because to the crown landed estates are 
annexed ; and the sovereign, instead of being a pen- 
sioner on the bounty of his parliament, is the first in- 
dependent proprietor : — with more power, because in 
the representative system, the King, with the single ex- 
ception of choosing an administration, can perform no 
act ffitbottt the sanction of his ministers. Thus in 
this political system, according to the author's remark, 
the substantial power of royalty is vested in the hands 
of the ministry. 

The next point of difference is that the represen-* 
tative system, particularly in England, rests too ex- 
clusively on the material basis of property ; and that 
intelligence is there deprived of an adequate share in the 
national representation.* In the states-constitution, 
where the clerical and scientific classes form a separate 
estate, or distinct branch of the legislature, intelli- 
gence is invested with all the dignity and glory which 
hnman society can confer. The clergy, who are the 
representatives of revealed faith, or the fixed and im- 
mutable part of intelligence, correspond to the aris- 
tocracy, or the representatives of fixed property — 
while the scientific class, repvesenting science, or the 
variable and progressive part «Mf intelligence, corres- 
ponds to the Commons, the representatives of move« 

* Those political changes which since Schlegel's death have oc» 
cnired in the British constitution, while they have deprived property 
of much of its legitimate influence, have caused intelligence to be 
even less represented than heretofore in the legislature. 

t 2 


able property. Hence, Francis Baader has ingpeni^ 
oasly called the clergy the Upper House of intelli- 
gence, and the scientific class, the Lower House.* 

The last point of diflFerence is that, while in many 
of the modern representative systems, municipal cor- 
porations are despised and rejected, they form the 
rery key-stone of the states-constitution. The Re- 
volutionists, who have had so prominent a share in 
the formation of these representative governments, 
know full well that municipal corporations form the 
best security of the rights of the family — the firmest 
ramparts of popular freedom. They are thus objects 
of peculiar hatred to men who, so far from wishing 
the commonalty to obtain stability or cohesion in 
their constitution, are desirous they should ever re- 
main a loose, shifting mass of disunited atoms, ready 
to receive any form or impress which despotism may 
impose. Hence the war which at different times, and 
in diffierent countries, regal or democratic tyranny 
has waged against these admirable institutions. In 
the English constitution, on the other hand, which has 
preserved so many elements of the old Christian mo- 
narchy, the free, municipal institutions have been 
carefully maintained. '' The true internal strength and 
greatness of England, (says Schlegel) consist, as is 
now almost universally admitted by profound political 
observers, far more in the vigour and freedom of mu- 
nicipal corporations, better preserved in that country 
than elsewhere, than in her admired political consti- 
tution itself, "t Defective as many parts of that con- 
stitution appeared to the author, yet on the whole, he 
highly valued the vigorously constituted, but tempe- 
rate and mitigated, aristocracy of 1688. He knew that 
the remnants of the old Christian constitution were 
better preserved there than in any of the great con- 

* Philosophische Schriften, rol. ii. f See Concordia, page 66. 


tinental monarchies:* that the British government 
possessed elements of stability as well as of freedom, 
to which those monarchies, in their existing degene- 
racy, could in vain pretend ; and that the very pecu- 
liarities in the British constitution, to which Jie most 
strongly objected, had their origin in local circum- 
stances, deep-rooted wants, and remote historical 
events. That extreme jealousy of regal power which 
that constitution betrays — that undue preponderance 
of property over intelligence — ^that political predomi- 
nance of the aristocracy, which, though rendered ne- 
cessary by the excessive depression of royalty and of 
the clergy, was certainly calculated to impede the 
oi^anic development of the democracy, and thereby 
to expose the body politic to dangerous revulsions — 
in fine, that fierce collision of parties, which that con- 
stitution nurses and encourages — all reveal the fear- 
ful struggles by which it came into life. The imitar 
tion of this constitution which, by bringing back to 
the European nations the reminiscence of their an- 
cient freedom, has naturally excited their enthusiastic 
admiration — ^the imitation of that constitution, I say, 
difficult at all times, has been rendered in some coun- 
tries utterly impracticable by the studious rejection of 
two of the great hinges on which, for a hundred and 
fifty years, it has turned — I mean the predominance of 
the aristocracy on the one hand, and the free, muni- 
cipal organization of the commonalty on the other. 
In many of the German states, as the author observes, 
Uie representative system works well ; because the 
legislators have had the wisdom to connect the new 
with anterior institutions. 

On the whole, what has been said of the Gothic 
architecture, may be applied to the old Christian mo- 

* According to the just remark of Burke, the states-constitution 
was in latter ages, better preserved in the Republics than in the 
numaxchies of Europe.— See his letters on a regicide peace. 


narchy — it was never brought to perfection« That 
lofty ideal of government, which Christianity had 
traced to the nations of the middle age^— that «dmi-* 
rable constitution, which was a partial reflection of 
the constitution of the church itself, and wherein were 
blended and united the principles of love and intelli« 
gence, stability and activity — ^in other words, where a 
paternal royalty, an enlightened priesthood, a mild 
aristocracy, a loyal, yet free-spirited, commonalty con* 
trolled, aided, balanced, and defended each other — ^that 
lofty ideal has never been — probably never will be— 
fully realized. Yet there are many reasons to suppose 
that a momentous, and not very distant, futurity will be 
charged with realizing, as far as human infirmity will 
permit, this ideal conception of the Christian state. 

Such is an outline of the principal features in 
Schlegel's political system — a system which I have 
endeavoured, as far as my feeble powers permitted, to 
explain, illustrate, and enforce. 

But while in the East of Germany, this great lumi- 
nary and his satellite were shedding their mild radi'*' 
ance of political wisdom, a star of the first magnitude 
rose above the Western horizon of Germany, and 
filled the surrounding heaven with the splendour of 
its light. The illustrious Goerres, already celebrated 
for his profound researches in archeeology, and many 
admirable political writings, published in 1819 his 
work, entitled *' Germany and the Revolution," which 
produced so extraordinary a sensation, and was at 
the time so ably translated by Mr. Black. This work 
was followed in 1821 by that writer's still more won* 
derful production, entitled '' Europe and the Revolu- 
tion,'' a production which in the soundness of its doc- 
trines — ^the generosity of its sentiments— > the depth and 
comprehensiveness of its views — and the copiousness 
and variety of historical illustration brought forward 
in their support— surpasses perhaps all the mighty 


works in defence of social order and liberty which the 
momentooB events of the last fifty years have called 
forth in different parts of Europe. With a few slight 
shades of difference, th^ political views of Ooener 
mainly accord with those of Schlegel ; but, living 
under the free government of Bavaria, the former is 
able boldly to proclaim truths which the latter at 
Vienna was able only to hint, Goerres unites the 
strong, practical sense of Gentz^the masterly learn- 
ing and profound and comprehensive understanding 
of F. Schlegel — ^to great boldness of character, and 
a style of peculiar force and condensation. While 
the political glance of Schlegel was mostly <ttrected 
towards the past — that of Gentz to the present hour—* 
the eye of Goerres is turned more particularly to 
the future. Had the counsels of this illustrious man 
been more generally followed, the perilous crisis, in 
which for the last five years Grermany has been in- 
volved, would have been happily averted, or at least 
better provided against. Himself and Schlegel may 
be considered as the supreme oracles of that illustrious 
school of liberal Conservatives, founded by our great 
Burke, and which numbers besides the eminent Ger- 
mans, whose names have already been mentioned, a 
Baron de Haller in Switzerland — a Viscount de Booald 
in France* — a Count Henri de Merode in Belgium — 
and a Count Maistre in Piedmont : men whose writ« 
ings contain, in a greater or less d^ree, the seeds of 
the future political regeneration of Europe. 

* Among these great conseryatiTes, M. de Bonald is the only 
one who can be regarded as f^Tourable to Absolutism. As long as 
this great writer deals in general propositions, he seldom errs ; bat 
when he comes to apply his principles to practice^ then the political 
prejndioes in which he was bred, and which a too limited coarse of 
reading has fiuled to correct— lead him sometimes into exaggera- 
tions and errors. On the whole he is as inferior to Burke as a 
publicist, as he is superior to him as a metaphysician. 


While engaged in the editorship of the Concordia, 
Schlegel gave a new edition of his works with con- 
siderable improvements and augmentations. Actively 
as his time had been employed, a long period had now 
elapsed since he had given any great production to 
the world ; and he was now preparing those immortal 
works, which were to shed so bright an effulgence 
round the close of his life. In the rapid review which 
has been here taken of his critical, philological and 
historical writings, nothing has been said of his phi- 
losophical pursuits ; and yet philosophy was his dar- 
ling study — philosophy, which the ancients called 
^' the science of divine and human things," was alone 
capable of filling the vast capacity of Schlegel's mind. 
At the age of nineteen, he had already read all the 
works of Plato in their original tongue ; and ajx-and- 
thirty years afterwards, he expressed a vivid recollec- 
tion of the delight and enthusiasm which the perusal 
had excited in his youthful mind. In 1800, he com- 
menced his philosophical career at the University of 
Jena before an admiring audience ; we have already 
seen him at Paris, amid his philological labours, de- 
voting a portion of his time to the cultivation of phi- 
losophy ; and, amid all the struggles and occupations 
of his subsequent life, he would ever and anon snatch 
some moment to pay his homage to this celestial 
maid — this mistress of his heart — this object of his 
earliest enthusiasm and latest worship. 

A very distinguished friend and disciple of Schle- 

gel's, the Baron d'Eckstein asserts that, towards the 
close of the last century, a confederacy was formed 
among some men of the most superior minds for the 
regeneration of natural science — for the revival of the 
lofty physics of remote antiquity, when nature was re- 
garded only as the splendid and almost transparent veil 
of the spiritual world. The members of this intellectual 
association were Scheliing, the two Schlegels, the poet 


Tirek, Novalis, and the celebrated geog^pher Ritter« 
This confederacy was dissolved, when the pantheistical 
tendency of Schelling's philosophy became more ap- ( 
parent ; and Frederick Schlegel, in particular, became 
afterwards the most strenuous and formidable oppo- 
nent of a philosophic system which appeared to him^ 
and rightly enough, only a more subtle and refinedl 
Spinozism. On the true nature of this philosophy; 
however, opinion was much divided ; many religious 
men among the Protestants ranged themselves under 
its banners ; even some of the Orthodox entered into 
terms of accommodation with it ; and the great Ca- 
tholic theologian, Zimmer, thought that, by means of 
this system, he could obtain a clearer conception of 
the great Christian mystery of the Trinity. Enormous 
as may be the errors contained in this philosophy, yet, 
as few philosophic systems are entirely erroneous, the 
philosophy of Schelling, which appears to have under- 
gone a purification in its course, has been attended 
with some beneficial results. It has led to a more pro- 
found and spiritual knowledge of nature — ^it has been, 
to many, a point of transition from the materialism 
and rationalism of the eighteenth century to the Chris- 
tian Religion — ^and, indeed, this effiect it has had on 
its illustrious founder himself, who has for some years 
returned to the bosom of Christianity, and who pro-: 
bably will be remembered by posterity more for his 
recent labours as a profound Christian naturalist, 
Üian for the pantheistic reveries of his youth.* 

* This view of the matter is confirmed by the high authority 
of the great Catholic philosopher — Molitor. Speaking of Schelling 
and his disciples, he says, (in the words of his recent French trans- 
lator,) Quoique leun premier» ouvraget ne reepirent pas encore entiere^ 
ment Teaprit pur et vMtable, mais soient entach^s plus ou moins de 
panth^isme ou de naturalisme, comme cela etoit presque necessaire 
k une ^poque encore si profond^ment enfonc^e dans Tincr^dulit^ et 
Torgueil, cependant leurs principes ont eveilU Tesprit religieux, et 
donn^ une base plus prolbnde aux Veritas de cet ordre. C'est dans 


SchlegeFs earlier philosophical, as well as jiistorical, 
works are no longer to be met with, and have not 
yet been re-pnblished. In the Concordia for 1S20, 
we find an outline of those lectures on the Philosophy 
of life, which the author delivered at Vienna, in the 
year 1827. This work immediately preceded the one 
to which this memoir is prefixed ; and, as it embodies 
those general philosophical principles, of which in 
the latter an application is made to history, a rapid 
analysis of its doctrines, particularly in the psycho- 
logical and ontological parts, will be useful, nay, 
almost necessary, to the elucidation of many passages 
In the following translation« But how can I attempt 
the analysis of a work where the arrangement of a for- 
mal, didactic discussion is studiously avoided — ^where 
the author pours forth his thoughts with all the freedom 
of conversation — high, spiritual conversation — ^where 
such is the exuberant fulness of his ideas, such the 
shadowy subtilty of his perceptions, that even the 
German language, copious and philosophical as it Is, 
seems at times inadequate to their expression. Long 
as Germany had been habituated to the genius of 
Schlegel, she herself seems to have been startled by 
the appearance of a work where the boldest, the most 
unlooked for, the sublimest vistas of philosophy were 
opened to her astonished view* 

ce tens qu'on a retravaill^ toutes leg sdencw, et Ton peat dire que 
ces hommee ont plus contribu^ k conduire vera la religion, qae 
cette multitude de compendium dogmatiques dn siecle dernier. 
He then adds, ** Ou pent se faire une id^ de la direction religieuee 
de la physique par les Merits de Steffens^ Schubert, Pfaff, et Baader. 
Cet esprit conduira encore k de plus grands resultats ; et bientot 
de nouvelles d^courertes ÜEUtes au ciel etoil^, sur la terre et dans 
ton interieur, aussi bien que dans Torganisme, affermiront et met- 
tront dans une nouvelle lumi^re ces hautes Terit^ connues des 
anciens, mais que le sens stupide des modernes rejetait comme des 
songes et des superstitions." p.p. 165-6. Philosophie de la Tradi- 
tion, traduite de l'Allemand. Paris. 1834. 


Bespeaking then the indulgence of the reader, I 
vrill now proceed to lay before him an outline of some 
of the principal ideas on psychology and ontology^ 
contained in the Philosophy of life. 

The consciousness of man is composed of mind, 
BQul, and ^ody. Hie soul is the centre of consdlous« 
ness. The consciousness of man may be best un« 
derstood by comparing it with that of other created 
beings. The existence of brutes is extremely simple^ 
they have only a body — they have no mind — they 
have, properly speaking, no soul — ^at least, their soul 
is completely mingled with their corporeal frame ; so 
that on the destruction of the latter, it reverts to the 
elements, or is absorbed in the general vital energy 
of nature (Natur^-seele)« In the scale of existence 
superior to man, the angelic spirits are represented 
in Holy Writ, and in the Traditions of all nations, 
as pure, intellectual beings, devoid of a gross corporeal 
frame. But have they no body whatsoever? Schlegel 
ascribes to them what he calls in his beautiflil Ian* 
guage, ^' an etherial body of light." This opinon, it 
must be confessed, has comparatively few supporters 
in the modem schools of theology, whether in the 
Catholic or Protestant churches; but it was main-* 
tained by many of the ancient Fathers, and, in modem 
times, it has met with the high sanction of the great 
Leibnitz. Schlegel assigns no reason for his opinion ; 
but I have means of knowing that another great 
Christian philosopher of the age has, in his unpub« 
lished system of metaphysics, adduced very cogent 
arguments in support of this theory. With the ex- 
ception of this subtle, etherial, luminous body, the 
celestial Spirits, according to the author, are nothing 
but intelligence or mind. They have, strictiy speak- 
ing, no soul ; for the distinctive faculties of the soul 
(as will be presently shown) are reason and imagi- 
nation ; and these faculties cannot be ascribed to 


beings in whom an intuitive understanding needs 
not the slow deductions, and analytic process of rea- 
son ; nor wants a medium of communication with 
the world of sense, like imagination. Hence the lines 
of the great German poet fully represent the difference, 
as well as the resemblance, in the intellectual action 
of man and the angelic spirits : 

*' Science, O man, thou shar'st with higher spirits ; 
But Art thou hast alone/' 

Hence the nature of brutes is simple— that of angels 
two-fold — that of men three-fold. 

The third part of human consciousness, the body — 
its organic laws, powers, and properties, the philo«* 
sopher must leave to the naturalist. It is only when 
it has reference to the higher parts of consciousness 
that its properties can be made the matter of his in* 
vestigation. The soul and the mind form the fit and 
peculiar subject of his enquiries. To the mind belong 
the faculties of will and understanding — to the soul, 
those of reason and imagination. Schlegel observes 
it is remarkable that the three different species of 
mental alienation correspond to the three parts of 
human consciousness. Thus monomania springs from 
some error deeply rooted in the mind — ^frenzy is the 
disorder of a soul that has broken loose from all the 
restraints of reason ; and idiotcy arises from some 
organic defect in the brain. The last is the effect of 
physical, the two former the consequence of moral, 
and frequentiy accidental, causes. The author lays 
it down as a general principle, subject, however, to 
many modifications and exceptions, that in man mind 
or thought predominates — in woman soul or feeling 
prevails. Hence in marriage, which is a sacred union 
of souls, the deficiencies in the psychology of either 
sex are happily and mutually supplied. On this sub- 
ject, Schlegel has some of the most touching and beau- 


tiful reflections, which a loving heart and a noble 
fancy have ever inspired. 

Imagination (Einbildungs-kraft) is the inventive 
faculty — Reason (Vernunft) the regulative — Under- 
standing (Verstand) the penetrative, or in a higher 
degree the intuitive — and the Will (Wille) the moral, 
faculty. To these primary faculties, or as the author 
styles them, these main boughs of human conscious- 
ness, four secondary faculties are subservient — the 
memory — the conscience — the passions or natural 
impulses, and the outward senses. The memory is 
the intermediate faculty between the understanding 
and the reason — the conscience the intermediate fa- 
culty between the reason and the will — the passions 
or natural impulses the intermediate faculty between 
the will and the imagination — and the outward senses 
form the connecting link between the imagination 
and the body. 

R eason is the regulative faculty implanted in the 
soul. In real life, it corresponds to what we com- 
monly call judgment, and is that faculty by which 
the transactions of men are regulated, and the reso- 
lutions of the will are brought to maturity, whether 
in sacred or secular concerns. In science, Reason is 
the dialectical or analytic faculty, by which the dis- 
coveries of Imagination and the perceptions of the 
Understanding receive a definite form — the faculty 
of analysis, arrangement, and combination. Reason 
in itself is not inventive — ^it makes no discoveries — 
it is rather a negative than a positive faculty — but 
it is the indispensable arbitress, to whose decision 
Understanding and Imagination must submit their 
various productions. 

Imagination, on the other hand, is the inventive 
faculty in art, poetry and even science. No g^at dis- 
covery, says the author, can be made even in the ma- 
thematics, without imagination. This assertion may 

/ \ 



strike us as strange; but we must remember thai 
Leibnitz declared he was led to his great mathe* 
matical discoyeries by the aid of metaphysics ; and 
that imagination necessarily enters into the compo-* 
sition of a great metaphysical g^&ius, few will be 
disposed to question. Here» howeyer, if I may be 
allowed to offer an opinion, Schlegel does not appear 
to me to have traced, with sufficient distinctness, the 
boundaries between imagination and understanding« 

Understanding is the faculty of apprehension-^ it 
penetrates into the inward essence of things^ and dis- 
cerns the manifestations of the divine or human mind 
in their several revelations and communications. — 
Thus the naturalist, whose eye searches into the in- 
ward life of nature— the statesman, who can fitthom 
the most deep-laid plans of a hostile policy — the 
theologian, who can discover the most hidden sense 
of Scripture, may be said to possess in an eminent 
degree,, the faculty of understanding. 

Will is the other faculty implanted in the mind of 
man — ^tbe faculty on whose good or evil direction 
that of all the other faculties of mind and soul essen- 
tially depends. Independently of the moral direction 
of the will, its innate strength or weakness, its stea- 
diness or vacillation, proportionably augment or di- 
minish the power of all the other faculties. How far 
moderate abilities, when directed by a firm, tenacious, 
perseverant will can avail — ^to what a degree of suc- 
cess tkey may sometimes lead, daily experience may 
serve to convince us. 

Originally aU these faculties, will and under- 
standing, reason and imagination, were harmoniously 
blended and united in the human consciousness ; but 
since, at the fall of man, a dark spirit interposed its 
shadow betwixt him and the Sun of Righteousness, 
disorder and confusion have entered into his mind 
and soul, and troubled their several faculties. Thus 


Ibe understaDding^ often points ont a conrae which 
the will refuses to follow ; and the will, on the other 
hand, is often disposed to pursue the good and right 
path, were the blind or narrow understanding com- 
petent to direct it. Not only are will and under- 
standing in frequent collision with one another, but 
each is. at yarianoe with itself. What the will re- 
solves to-day it shrinks from to-morrow ! How often 
does the understanding view the same subject in a 
different light at different times ! How much do time, 
circumstance, and humour, place the same truth in a 
clearer or obscurer aspect ! The same opposition is 
observable betwixt reason and imagination* Where 
fiincy is the strongest in the bouse, how often doth 
she spurn the warnings of her more homely and un- 
pretending sister — reason. Again, where reason has 
the ascendancy, what groundless aversion, and paltry 
jealousy does she not frequently evince at the superior 
nature of her brilliant sister ! Or, to drop this figu- 
rative language, how oft^i do we behold a man of 
lofty JjnaginatioB very deficient in practical sense ; 
anähü^ain, in your man of strong sense, how frequently 
dull and pedestrian is the fancy ! In real life what a 
deplorable schism exists between poets and artists on 
the one hand, and men of business on the other ! What 
mutual contempt and aversion do they not frequently 
exhibit ! Well, this schism is nothing else than the 
external realisation et the inward conflict between 
reason and imagination« 

With respect to the four secondary faculties — 
memory — conscieBco*— the natural impulses — and the 
outwaid senses — faculties, which, as the author says, 
cannot from their importance be termed subordinate, 
but should rather be called subsidiary or assigned ;«— 
Schlegel shews that, as regards the first, the decay 
of the memory precedes the decline of the reason, 
and its sudden and entire loss brings about the ex- 

I I 

*- '« 


tinction of the latter faculty. In the same way the 
deadness of the conscience argues the utmost depra- 
vity of the will. The conscience is the memory of the 
will, as the memory is the conscience of the under- 

^' The natural impulses/' says Schlegel, ** where 
they appear exalted to passion, are to be regarded 
as nothing else but the motions of a will, that has 
been overpowered by the false illusions of imagina- 
tion. The middle position of the impulses betwixt 
the will and the imagination, as well as the abused 
co-operation of those two faculties in any passion or 
sensual gratification, become habitual, is apparent 
particularly in those inclinations which man has in 
common with the brute, and where the viciousness 
lies only in their excess or violence."* '' Aspiration 
after infinity is natural to man, and belongs essen- 
tially to his being. Whatever is defective or disor- 
derly in his impulses, consists only in their unbounded 
gratification — in the perversion of that aspiration 
after infinity towards perishable, sensual, material, 
and often most unWorthy, objects ; for that aspiration, 
natural as it is to man, where it is pure and genuine, 
can be gratified by no sensual indulgence and no 
earthly possession.^t In the brute, the gratification 
of the natural appetites is regular, uniform^ subject 
to no vicissitudes or excesses, and entails no injury 
on his nature, because undisturbed and unvitiated 
by the false illusions of imagination. 

Lastly, with regard to the outward senses, there 
are, philosophically speaking, but three, sight, hear- 
ing, and touch— for under the last, taste and smell 
are included; and it is remarkable how these seve- 
rally correspond to the three parts of human con- 
sciousness. The sight is pre-eminently the sense of 

• Philosophie der Sprache, p. 118—19. f IWd. p, 121. 


the mind — ^hearing the sense of the soul — while the 
touch is peculiarly the sense of the body ; the sense 
given to the body for its special protection and pre- 
servation. The loss of the first two senses the body 
cafa survive — but it perishes with the utter extinction 
of the last. Those expressions in common parlancci 
a good artist- like eye — a fine musical ear — prove the 
close connexion which mankind has always felt to 
exist between the outer senses and the higher facul« 
ties of man. 

*' Had the soul," says the author, '^ not been ori- 
ginally darkened and troubled — had it remained in a 
clear, luminous repose in its God — then the human 
consciousness would have been of a far more simple 
nature than at present ; for it would have consisted 
only of understanding, sou/, and will. Reason and 
imagination, which are now in such frequent collision 
with the will and understanding, as well as with each 
other, would then have been absorbed in those higher 
faculties. Even the conscience would not then have 
been a special act, or special function of the judg- 
ment — but a tender feeling — a gentle, almost uncon- 
scious pulsation of the soul. The senses and the me- 
mory, those ministrant faculties which, in the present 
dissonance of the human consciousness, form so many 
distinct powers of the soul, would, in its state of har- 
mony, have been mere bodily organs."* 

So much for the author's psychology — let us now 
proceed to the ontological part of the work. 

To the Supreme Being, will and understanding 
belong in a supreme degree ; in him they exist in the 
most perfect harmony — ^will is understanding, and 
understanding will. But with no propriety can the 
faculty of reason be ascribed to the Deity ; and it is 

* Philosophie des Leben?, p. 142. N.B. I have somewhat 
abridged the author's word-. 

VOL. I. f 



remarkable, says the author, that nowhere in Holy 
Writ, nor in the sacred traditions of the primitive 
nations, nor in the writings of the great philosophers 
of antiquity, is the term reason ever used in reference 
to Almighty God. It is only among a few of the 
later, degenerate, and rationalist sects of philosophy, 
the Stoics for example, that the expression Divine 
Reason is ever met with. If such an expression is 
incorrect or unsound, with still less fitness and de« 
coram can the faculty of imagination be assigned to 
the God-head — the very term would shock the under- 
standings, and revolt the inmost feelings, of all men. 
^ The Deity reveals himself unto men in four dif-« 

^ ^ ferent ways — in Scripture, (including of course its 

I '-'- : running and necessary commentary, ecclesiastical Tra- 

dition) ; — in Nature — ^in Conscience, and in History. 

" Holy Writ," says the author, *' as it is delivered 
to us, and as it was begun and founded three-and- 
thirty centuries ago, does not exclude the elder sacred 
traditions of the preceding two thousand four hundred 
years ; or the revelation, which was the common heri- 
tage of the whole human race. On the contrary, it 
contains very explicit allusions to the fact that such 
a revelation was imparted to the first man, as well as 
to that patriarch who, after the destruction of the pri- 
meval world of giants, was the second progenitox of 
mankind. As the sacred knowledge, derived from 
this revelation, flowed on every side, and in copious 
streams over the succeeding generations of men, the 
ancient and holy traditions were soon disfigured, 
and covered over with fictions and fables ; where, amid 
a multitude of remarkable vestiges and glorious traits 
of true religion, immoral mysteries and Bacchanalian 
rites were often intermixed, and truth itself, as in a 
second chaos, buried under a mass of contradictory 
symbols. Thence arose that Babylonish confusion of 
languages, sagas, and symbols, which is universally 


tbimd among the ancient, and even the primitive 
nations. In the great work of the restoration of true 
religion, which accordingly we must regard as a se- 
cond reyelation, or rather as a second stage of reve* 
lation, a rigid proscription of those heathen fictions, 
and of all the immorality connected with them, was 
the first and most essential requisite. But in that 
gospel of creation, which forms the introduction to 
the whole Bible, that elder revelation, accorded to the 
first man and to the second progenitor, is expressly 
laid down as the ground-work ; and in this introduc- 
tion, we shall find the clue to the history and religion 
of the primitive world — ^nay, it is the true Genesis of 
all historical science."* 

Now with respect to the secondary or more indi* 
rect modes, by which the Deity communicates himself 
to men, the author observes that *' Nature, too, is a 
book written on both sides, within and without, in 
which the finger of God is clearly visible : — a species 
of Holy Writ, in a bodily form — a glorious panegyric, 
as it were, on God's omnipotence, expressed in the 
most vivid symbols. Together with these two gpreat 
witnesses of the glory of the Creator, scripture, and 
n^tore — the voice of conscience is an inward revela- 
tion of God — ^the first index of those other two greater 
and more general sources of revealed truths ; while 
History, by laying before our eyes the march of Divine 
Providence— a Providence whose loving agency is 
apparent as well in the lives of individuals as in the 
social career of nations — History, I say, constitutes 
the fourth revelation of Grod."t 

vTe }iave next to consider the conduct of Divine 
Providence in the education of the human race. How 
do we educate the boy T We first endeavour to awaken 
his sense — then we cultivate his soul, or his moral 
— . jj . — . — 

• Philosophie des Lebens, pp. 86—7. f Ibid, p. 85. 



faculties ; while at the same time, we aid the gradual 
unfolding' of his understanding. It is so with the 
divine education of mankind. In the primitive reve- 
P lation, indeed, the first man received the highest in« 
' tellectual illumination ; an illumination which, though 
at his fall it was obscured by sin, still shines with a 
» shorn splendour through all the history and traditions 
of the primeval world. When, however, by the abuse 
he had made of his great intellectual powers, man was 
successively deprived of all those high gifts with which 
he had been originally endowed ; when by the errors 
of idolatry, he had lapsed into a state of intellectual 
I infancy ; then it was necessary that his sense should 
first be awakened to divine things ; and this was ac- 
complished in the Mosaic revelation. But this reve- 
lation was only preparatory to another, destined to 
renovate the soul of humanity, and gradually illumine 
its intelligence. This regeneration of the moral fa- 
culties of man was achieved immediately and directly 
by Christianity ; for, without this moral regeneration^ 
any sudden illumination of the intellect would have 
been hurtful rather than beneficial to mankind. Un- 
der the benign influence of Christianity, the scientific 
enlightenment of the human mind has been wisely 
progressive ; but it seems reserved for the last glorious 
ages of the triumphant church to witness the full 
meridian splendour of human intelligence. Then the 
great scheme of creation will be fulfilled ; and the 
intellectual light, which played around the cradle, 
will brighten the last age, of humanity. 

Let us now proceed to consider Nature in herself, 
and in her relations to God, to the spiritual intelli- 
gences, and to man. 

Nature was originally the beautiful, the faultiess 
work of the Almighty's hand. But the rebel angel in 
bis fall brought disorder and death into all material 
creation. Hence arose that chaos, which the breath 


of creative Power only could remove. Thus, accord- 
ing to the author, a wide interval occurs between the 
first and second verse of Grenesis. " In the begin- 
ning/' says the inspired historian, ** Ood made heaven 
and earth/' that is, as the Nicene Creed explains it, 
the visible and invisible world. ^' And the earth was 
without form, and void : and darkness was upon the 
face of the deep.'' But that void — that darkness — 
that chaos proceeded not from the luminous hand of 
an all-wise and all perfect Maker — ^but from the dis- 
turbing influence of that fiend whom Holy Writ hath 
called, with such unfathomable depth, the '' murderer 
from the beginning." Hence Schlegel terms him in 
his sublime language, *' the author or original of 
death" — (Erfinder des Todes). 

On a subject of such vast importance, I presume 
not to offer an opinion : but I must merely content 
myself with the humble task of analysis. It may be 
proper to observe, however, that this opinion of Schle- 
gel's would seem, from a passage in the work of the 
great Catholic writer — Molitor, to be consonant with 
the tradition of the ancient synagogue. " The Ca- 
bala,*' says he, '' was divided into two parts — the 
theoretical and the practical. The former was com- 
posed of the patriarchal traditions on the holy mystery 
of God, and the divine persons ; on the spiritual crea- 
tion, and the fall of the angels ; on the origin of the 
chaos of matter, and the renovation of the world in the six 
days of creation ; on the creation of man, his fall, and 
the divine ways conducive to his restoration."f 

" Death," says Schlegel, " came by sin into the 
world. As by the fall of the first man, who was not 
created for death, nor originally designed for death, 
death was transmitted to the whole human race ; so 

t See Philosophie de la Tradition, traduit de TAllemand, p. 26. 
Paris, 1834. 


by the preceding fall of him, who was the first and 
most glorious of all created Spirits, death came into 
the universe, that is, the eternal death, whose fire is 
inextinguishable. Hence it is said : ' Darkness was 
upon the face of the deep, and the earth was without 
form, and void' — as the mere tomb-stone of that eter- 
nal death ; ' but the Spirit of God moved over the 
waters, and therein lay the first vital germ of the new 
creation/ "* 

But if such is the origin of Nature, how is its exist- 
ence perpetuated, and what will be its final destiny ? 

Nature, as was said above, is a book of God's reve^ 

lation, written within and without. The outer part of 

this sacred volume attests the supreme power, wisdom, 

and goodness of the Creator in characters too clear and 

luminous to be unperceived or misread by the dullest 

or the most vitiated eye. The inner pages of this 

book comprise a still more glorious revelation of God-r 

but their language is more mysterious, and much 

which they contain seems to have been wisely vrith- 

held, or rather withdrawn from the knowledge of 

mankind. It was this acquaintance with the internal 

J _^ I secrets of Nature, derived partly from revelation, and 

; , . / partly from intuition, which gave the men of the pri- 

' ' / mitive, and especially the antediluvian, world such 

}•> /' S a vast superiority over all the succeeding generations 

. r^ ' j^ . v' ' ^ of mankind. But it was the abuse of that knowledge, 

also, which brought about in the primeval world a 
Satanic delusion, and a gigantic moral and intellec- 
tual corruption, of which we can now scarcely form 
the remotest idea. But this key to the inward science 
of Nature, which was taken away from a corrupt world, 
that had so grossly abused it, seems now about to be 
restored to man, renovated as his soul and intelli- 
gence have been by a long Christian education. The 

* Philosophie des Lebens, p. 126. 




physical researches of the last fifty years^ especially 
in Germany, lead the enquirer more and more to the \ 
knowledge of this important truth, stamped on all the 
pages of ancient tradition, and never effaced from 
the recollection of mankind, to wit, the action of 
spiritual intelligences on the material world. The 
nature of this action is briefly adverted to in the fol- 
lowing passage (among many others to the same 
purport), in the Philosophy of lifo. ** It is espe* 
cially of importance,'* says the author, *^ for the un« 
derstanding of the general system of Nature, to ob« 
serve how the modem chemistry mostly dissolves and 
decomposes all solid bodies, as well as water itself, 
into different forms of elements of air, and thereby 
has taken away from Nature the appearance of 
rigidity and petrifaction. There are every where 
living elemental powers hidden and shut up under 
this appearance of rigidity. The quantity of water 
in the air is so great that it would suffice for more 
than one deluge ; a similar inundation of light would 
occur, if all the light latent in darkness were at once 
set free ; and all things would be consumed by fire, 
if that element in the quantity in which it exists, 
were suddenly let loose. The salutary bonds, by 
which these elemental powers are held in due equili- 
brium, one bound by the other, and kept within its 
prescribed limits, I will not now make a matter of 
investigation ; nor now examine the question, whe- 
ther thtie bonds be not perhaps of a higher kind than 
naturalists commonly suppose," 

The great apostle of the Gentiles represents all 
Nature as sighing for her deliverance from the bond- 
age of death. " Every creature groaneth and tra» 
vaileth in pain, even now." Some chapters in the 
Philosophy of life may be considered as one lumi- 
nous commentary on that text. My limits will per- 
mit me to cite but one passage. 


*^ That planetary world of sense, and the soul of 
the earth imprisoned therein, is only apparently dead. 
Nature only sleeps, and may again be awakened : and 
sleep is, if not the essence, yet a characteristic mark of 
Nature. Every things in Nature hath this quality of 
sleep ; not the animals merely, but the plants also 
sleep ; and in the course of the seasons on the surface 
of the globe, there is a constant alternation between 
waking and slumber.'* . . . ** That soul, he con« 
tinues, which slumbers under the prodigious tomb«' 
stone of outward nature — a soul, which is not alien, 
but half akin to us — is divided between the troubled, 
painful reminiscence of eternal death, in which it ori- 
ginated — and the bright flowers of celestial Hope, 
which grow on the borders of that dark abyss. For 
this earthly Nature, as Holy Writ saith, is indeed sub- 
jected to nothingness — yet without its will, and with«' 
out its fault : so it looks forward in expectation of 
Him who hath so subjected it — ^it looks forward in 
the hope that it may one day be free — one day have a 
share in the general resurrection and consummate re- 
velation of God's glory ; and for this last great day of 
future creation Nature anxiously sighs, and yearns 
from her inmost soul."* 

I will now wind up this analysis with the follow- 
ing passage, in which the distinctive peculiarities 
of the different parts of ontology are shortly stated : 
** The distinctive characteristic of nature is sleep, or 
the struggle between life and death ; the distinctive cha- 
racteristic of man is imagination (for reason is a ULOre 
negative faculty) ; the distinctive characteristic of the 
intelligences superior to man is restless, eternal acti- 
vity, implanted in the very constitution of their being ; 
and the distinctive characteristic of the Deity, in rela« 
tion to his creatures, is infinite condescension." 

* Philosophie des Lebens, p. 129. ^ 


Such is a brief summary of some of the principal 
observations in the psychological and ontological parts 
of the Philosophy of Life. And in this summary it 
has been my intention not so much to give an analysis 
of those parts, as to convey to the reader a clue for the 
better understanding of many passages in the work 
I have translated. The remaining parts of the '^ Phi* 
losophy of Life" are devoted to a variety of ethical, 
political, and aesthetic reflections, which it is unneces- 
sary to enter into here. 

Scarce had Germany recovered from the enthu- 
siasm which this work, (the Philosophy of Life) ex- 
cited ; when its illustrious author delivered, in the 
year 1828, the following course of Lectures on the 
** Philosophy of History," which are now presented to 
the reader in an English garb. Defective as may be 
the medium through which the English reader becomes 
acquainted with this work, he will be enabled to form 
on it a more impartial, as well as more enlightened^ 
judgment than any the translator could pronounce; 
and he will, therefore, only venture to observe that 
it has been considered in every respect worthy of its 
author's high reputation. 

Towards the close of the year 1828, Schlegel re- 
paired to Dresden ; and that city, where the torch of 
his early enthusiasm had been first kindled, was now 
to witness its final extinction. He delivered in this 
city, before a numerous and distinguished auditory, 
nine lectures on the '' Philosophy of Language," (Phi- 
losophie der Sprache), wherein he developed and ex- 
panded those philosophical views already laid down 
in his '* Philosophy of Life." This work is even more 
metaphysical than the one last named — with untiring 
wing, the author here sustains his flight through the 
3ublimest regions of philosophy. This production 
displays at times a gigantic vastness of conception 
which almost appals — we might almost say, that this 


mighty intelligence had in his ardent aspirations 
after Immortality » burst his earthly fetters — or that 
Divine Providence, judging a degenerate world un- 
worthy of hearing such sublime accents, had called 
him to continue his hymn in eternity. On Sunday, 
the llth of January, 1829, he was, between ten and 
eleven o'clock at night, preparing a lecture, which he 
was to deliver mi the following Wednesday. He had 
in his former lectures spoken of Time and Eternity — 
he had called Time a distraction of Eternity — he had 
adverted to those ecstacies of great Saints, which he 
called transitions to Eternity. He was now in this 
lecture discoursing of the different degrees of know* 
ledge attainable by man — of the perception — the no- 
tion — and the idea. He began a sentence with these 
remarkable words : — '^ Das ganz vollendete und voll* 
kommne verstehen selbst aber" — *^ But the consum- 
mate and the perfect knowledge" — when the hand of 
sickness arrested his pen. That consummate and 
perfect knowledge he himself was now destined to 
attain in another and a better world ; for, at one 
o'clock on the same night, he breathed out his pure 
and harmonious soul to heaven. 

His death, though sudden, was not unprovided. 
He had ever lived up to his faith — through his 
writings there runs an under-current of calm, unos- 
tentatious piety ; and I know no writer more deeply 
impressed with a sense of the loving agency of Provi- 
dence. A gentleman, well acquainted with some of his 
most intimate friends, has assured me that, for some 
time prior to his death, he had prosecuted his devo- 
tional exercises with more than ordinary fervour; 
and that on the morning of that Sunday on which his 
last illness seized him, he had 1>een united to his Lord 
in the Holy Communion — a presage and an earnest« 
let us hope, of that intimate union be was destined to 
enjoy in the long and cloudless day of Eternity ! 


The melancholy news of his death» when conveyed 
to his distinguished friend — Adam Müller, then at 
Vienna, gave sach a violent shock to his feelings^ 
that it brought on a stroke of apoplexy, which ter- 
minated his existence. A chain of the most exalted 
sympathies had united those souls in life— what mar- 
vel if the electric stroke, which prostrated the one 
should have laid low the other ! 

Frederick Schlegel married early in life the daughter 
of the celebrated Jewish philosopher Mendelsohn. 
This lady followed her husband in l&is change of reli- 
gion. Mrs. Schlegel is one of the most intellectual 
women in Grermany — she is advantageously known 
to the literary world by her German translation of 
Madame de Stael's Corinne ; and report has acribed 
to her elegant pen several of the poems in her hus- 
band's collection.* 

In conclusion, I will endeavour to recapitulate 
the obligations which literature and scieiice owe to 
the great man, whose literary biography I have at- 
tempted to sketch. 

To have, in common with his illustrious brother, 
established a system of broad, comprehensive, syn- 
thetic criticism, by which the principles o( ancient 
and modem art were unfolded to view — by which we 
were introduced into the intellectual laboratories of 
genius, made to assist at the birth of her mighty con- 
ceptions, and by whose plastic touch the great works 
of ancient and modem poetry were in a manner 
created anew: — to have unlocked the fountains of 
the old Germanic minstrelsy, and refreshed the poe- 
try of his age with a new stream of fictions : — to 

* A complete edition of Frederick SchlegeFs works in fifteen 
Tolumes 8to. was announced in 1822. Of this edition ten volume^ 
only, as I am informed, haye appeared. To these fifteen volumes 
must be added the four which were published in the last years of 
the author's life, making in all nineteen yolumes. 


have been among the first to do for philology what 
the Stagyrite had done for natural history ; by clas-* 
9ifying languages not according to their outward 
fom, but their internal organization, not accord- 
ing to a specious, though often delusive, etymolo- 
gy, but according to grammatical structure : to have 
deciphered the mysterious wisdom of old days, and 
with admirable tact to have caught the spirit of 
the primitive world, as disclosed in its sagas and its 
symbols, its poetry and its philosophy : next to have 
evoked from the dust the better philosophy of ancient 
Greece, and presented her venerable form to the re-» 
newed love and respect of mankind, partly by an 
admirable translation of portions of Plato,* partly 
by luminous critiques, and partly again by the ex*« 
ample of his own philosophy, in form as well as spirit 
so eminently Platonic : then, in the field of modern 
history, to have traced the rise and progress of the 
European states, the genius of their civil and poli- 
tical institutions, the causes and effects of their moral 
and social revolutions, with an extent of learning, 
a spirit of impartiality, and a depth and compre- 
hensiveness of understanding, unsurpassed by pre* 
ceding writers, and in his own age rivalled only 
by his illustrious countryman — Goerres : lastly, to 
have put the crowning glory to a life so full of glo- 
rious achievement by his last philosophical works, 
where a strong and broad light is thrown upon the 
mysteries of psychology, where the most important 
questions of ontology are treated with equal boldness 
and sublimity of thought, and magnificence of fancy. 

* This translation I haye not read, nor would I be at all compe- 
tent to pronounce any opinion on its merits ; but a very able judge, 
the Baron d'Eckstein, has declared that in point of grace, energy, 
and dignity, it surpasses, as far as it goes, the famous translation 
by Schleiermacher. 


while even on physics many bright hints are thrown 
out, which a deeper science will know one day how 
to turn to account : such are the the services which 

this illustrious man has rendered to the cause of lite- 


rature and philosophy. Living in an age which is 
only an epoch of momentous transition from the ado- 
lescence to the virility of the human mind, he was 
evidently, together with some other chosen spirits of his 
time, the precursor of an era of Christian philosophy, 
when, to use the language of a young, but very dis- 
tinguished French writer,* '' the sterile dust of futile 
abstractions will be swept away, and the antique faith 
will appear crowned with all the rays of science." 
" Already," continues the writer just quoted, " even 
infidel science, astonished at her own discoveries, 
which disconcert alike ideology and materialism^ be- 
gins to suspect 

*^ There are more things in heaven and earth 
Than are dreamt of in that philosophy /'f 

♦ The Abh^ Gerbet. 

t N. B. The authorities on which the several facts relative to 
SchlegeFs personal history have been advanced are the following : 
1. The Biographie des Vivans. Paris. 2ndly. An article for July, 
1829, in the French Globe (apparently an abridgment of the account 
of Schlegel in the German work, Conversations Lexicon). 3. A 
fuller and better account of the author in a French work published 
several years ago at Paris, entitled, *' Memoirs of distinguished 
Converts.'' For the knowledge of some facts, the writer is also 
indebted to the interesting journal '' Le Catholique,'* which Schle- 
geFs able friend and disciple, the Baron d*£ckstein, edited at Paris, 
from 1S26 to 1829. 



The most important subject, and the first pro- 
blem of philosophy, is the restoration in man of 
the lost image of God ; so far as this relates 
to science. 

Should this restoration in the internal con- 
sciousness be fully understood and really brought 
about, the object of pure philosophy is attained. 

To point out historically in reference to the 
whole human race, and in the outward conduct 
and experience of life, the progress of this resto- 
ration in the various periods of the world, con- 
stitutes the object of the Philosophy of History. 

In this way, we shall clearly see how, in the 
first ages of the world, the original word of Di- 
vine revelation formed the firm central point of 
faith for the future re-union of the dispersed race 
of man ; how later, amid the various power, in- 
tellectual as well as political, which in the middle 


period of the world, all-ruling nations exerted on 
their times according to the measure allotted to 
them, it was alone the power of eternal love in 
the Christian religion which truly emancipated 
and redeemed mankind : and how, lastly, the pure 
light of this Divine truth, universally diffused 
through the world, and through all science — the 
term of all Christian hope, and Divine promise, 
whose fulfilment is reserved for the last period 
of consummation — crowns in conclusion the pro- 
gress of this restoration. 

Why the progress of this restoration in hu- 
man history, according to the word, the power, 
and the light of God, as well as the struggle 
against all that was opposed to this Divine prin- 
ciple in humanity, can be clearly described and 
pointed out only by a vivid sketch of the differ- 
ent nations, and particular periods of the world ; 
I have alleged the reasons in various passages 
of the present work. With this view, I have, for 
the purpose of my present undertaking, availed 
myself, as far as these discoveries lay within my 
reach, of the rich acquisitions which the recent 
historical researches of the last ten years have 
furnished for the better understanding of the 
primitive world, its spirit, its languages, and 
its monuments. Besides the well-known names 
mentioned with gratitude in the text, of Cham- 
poUion, Abel Remusat, Colebrooke, my bro- 

THE author's preface. Ixxxi 

ther, Augustus William Von Schlegel, the two 
Barons Humboldt; and for what relates to 
natural history, G. H. Schubert; I have to 
name with the utmost commendation for the 
section on China, Windischmann's Philosophy ; 
and for what relates to the Hebrew Traditions, 
drawn from the esoteric doctrines and other 
Jewish sources of information, which are here 
most copiously used, I have been much indebted 
to a very valuable work which appeared at 
Frankfort, 1827, entitled " The Philosophy of 
Tradition," and which reflects the highest honour 
on its anonymous author.* To these I might 
add the names of Niebuhr, and Raumer ; but 
in the later periods of history, we are not so 
much concerned about new researches on certain 
special points as about a right comparison of 
things already known, and a just conception of 
the whole. In the Philosophy of History, his- 
torical events can and ought to be not so much 
matter of discussion, as matter for example and 
illustration ; and if on those points, where the 
researches of the learned into antiquity are as 
yet incomplete, any historical particulars should, 
in despite of my utmost diligence, have been 
imperfectly conceived or represented, yet the 

• The author is now known to be Professor Molitor. Tlic 
second part of this work has just appeared in Germany. Trans. 


Ixxxii THE author's preface. 

main result, I trust, will in no case be thereby 
materially impaired. 

The following sketch of the subject will shew 
the order of the Lectures, and give a general in- 
sight into the plan of the work. The first two 
Lectures embrace^ along with the Introduction, 
the question of man's relation towards the earth, 
the division of mankind into several nations, and 
the two-fold condition of humanity in the pri- 
mitive world. 

The subjects discussed in the seven succeed- 
ing Lectures are as follows : — the antiquity of 
China, and the general system of her empire — 
the mental culture, moral and political institu- 
tions, and philosophy of the Hindoos — the sci- 
ence and corruption of Egypt — the selection of 
the Hebrew people for the maintenance of Di- 
vine revelation in its purity — the destinies and 
special guidance of that nation — next an account 
of those nations of classical antiquity, to whom 
were assigned a mighty historical power, and a 
paramount influence over the world — such as 
the Persians, with their Nature-worship, their 
manners, and their conquests — the Greeks, with 
the spirit of their science, and dominion — and 
the Romans, together with the universal em- 
pire which they were the first to establish in 
Europe. The next five Lectures treat of Chris- 
tianity, its consolidation and wider ditTusion 

THB author's prepack. Ixxxiii 

throughout the world — of the emigration of 
the German tribes, and its consequences — and 
of the Saracenic empire in the brilliant age 
of the first Caliphs. Then follows an account 
of the various epochs and the various stages 
of the progress which the modern European 
nations have made in science and civil polity, 
according to their use and application of the 
light of truth vouchsafed to them. So the 
subjects here treated are — the establishment 
of a Christian imperial dignity in the old Ger- 
man empire — the great schism of the West, 
and the struggles of the middle age and the 
period of the Crusades, down to the discovery 
of the New World, and the new awakening 
of science. The three following Lectures are 
devoted to the Religious Wars, the period 
of lUuminism, and the time of the French 

The eighteenth and concluding Lecture turns 
on the prevailing spirit of the age, and on the 
universal regeneration of society. 

We have yet to make the following observa- 
tions with respect to this undertakings in which 
we have attempted to lay the foundations of a 
new general Philosophy. 

The first awakening and excitement of hu- 
man consciousness to the true perception and 

IXXXiv* THE author's PREFACE« 

knowledge of truth has been already unfolded 
in my work on " the Philosophy of Life." 

To point out now the progressive restora- 
tion in humanity of the effaced image of God^ 
according to the gradation of grace in the va- 
rious periods of the world, from the revelation of 
the beginning, down to the middle revelation of 
redemption and love, and from the latter to the 
last consummation, is the object of this Philo- 
sophy of History. 

A third work, treating of the science of 
thought in the department of faith and nature,. 

will with more immediate reference to the Phi- 
losophy of Language, comprehend the complete 
restoration of consciousness, according to the 
triple divine principle. 

It is my wish that this work should as soon 
as circumstances will permit, speedily follow 
the two works " The Philosophy of Life," and 
" The Philosophy of History," now presented 
to the Public. 

Vienm, Sept. Gth, 1828. 





Memoir of the Literary Life of Frederick Von SchlegeL iii 

Author's Preface. ..... Ixxix 




On the dispute in primitive history, and on the division of 
the human race. . . . • .40 


Of the Constitution of the Chinese Empire.*-The moral 
and poUtical condition of China. — ^The character of Chinese 
intellect and Chinese science. . . . .86 


Of the Institutions of the Indians. — ^The Brahminical caste, 
and the hereditary priesthood. — Of the doctrine of the 
transmig^tion of souls, considered as the basis of Indian 
life, and of Indian philosophy. . . . 126 


A comparative view of the intellectual character of the 
four principal nations in the primitive world — ^the In- 
dians, the Chinese, the Egyptians, and the Hebrews; 
next of the pecuUar spirit and political relations of the 
ancient Persians. . . . • . 167 



Of the Hindoo Philosophy. — Dissertation on Languages. — 
Of the peculiar political Constitution and Theocratic Go- 
vernment of the Hebrews. — Of the Mosaic Genealogy of 
Nations. . . . . . 202 


General considerations upon the nature of man, regarded 
in a historical point of view, and on the two-fold view 
of history. — Of the ancient Pagan Mysteries. — Of the 
universal Empire of Persia. .... 245 


Variety of Grecian life and intellect. — State of education 
and of the fine arts among the Greeks. — ^The origin of 
their philosophy and natural science. — ^Tlieir political de- 
generacy. • • . . • .281 


Character of the Romans. — Sketch 6f their conquests. — 
On strict law, and the law of equity in its application to 
History, and according to the idea of divine justice. — 
Commencement of the Christian dispensation. . .318 


At the 7th line from the top of page xxxviii (Life of Schlegel) 
instead of " put forth by party spirit," read " put forth by ignorance 
or party spirit.*' 




** And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was 
upon the face of the deep ; but the Spirit of God moved 
upon the face of the waters." Gen. i. 2. 

By philosophy of history must not be under- 
stood a series of remarks or ideas upon history, 
formed according to any concerted system, or 
train of arbitrary hypotheses attached to facts. 
History cannot be separated from facts, and de- 
pends entirely on reality ; and thus the Philo- 
sophy of history, as it is the spirit or idea of 
history, must be deduced from real historical 
events, from the faithful record and lively nar- 
ration of facts — it must be the pure emanation 
of the great whole — the on6 connected whole 
of history, and for the right understanding of 
this connexion a clear arrangement is an essen- 

VOL. I. B 


tial condition and an important aid. For al- 
though this great edifice of universal history, 
where the conclusion at least is still wanting, is 
in this respect incomplete, and appears but a 
mighty fragment of which even particular parts 
are less known to us than others ; — yet is this 
edifice sufficiently advanced, and many of its 
great wings and members are sufficiently un- 
folded to our view, to enable us, by a lucid 
arrangement of the different periods of history, 
to gain a clear insight into the general plan of 
the whole. 

It is thus my intention to render as intelli- 
gible as I possibly can the general results and 
the connection of all the past transactions in the 
history of the human race ; to form a true judg- 
ment on the particular portions or sections of 
history, according to their intrinsic nature and 
real value in reference to the general progress 
of mankind, carefully distinguishing what was 
injurious, what advantageous, and what indif- 
ferent; and thereby, as far as is possible to 
the limited perceptions of man, to comprehend 
in some degree that mighty whole. This per- 
ception — this comprehension — this right dis- 
cernment of the great events and general results 
of universal history, is what might be termed 
a science of history; and I would have here 
preferred that term, were it not liable to much 
misconception, and might have been understood 
as referring more to special and learned inqui- 


ries, than the other name I have adopted to 
denote the nature of the present work. 

If we would seize and comprehend the gene- 
ral outline of history, we must keep our eye 
steadily upon it ; and must not suffer our atten- 
tion to be confused by details, or drawn oflF by 
the objects immediately surrounding us. Judg- 
ing from the feelings of the present, nothing so 
nearly concerns our interests as the matter of 
peace or war ; and this is natural, as in a prac- 
tical point of view they are both affairs of the 
highest moment ; while the courageous and suc- 
cessful conduct of the one insures the highest 
degree of glory, and the solid establishment 
and lasting maintenance of the other may be 
considered as the greatest problem of political 
art and human wisdom. But it is otherwise in 
universal history, when this is conceived in a 
comprehensive and enlarged spirit. Then the 
remotest Past, the highest antiquity, is as much 
entitled to our attention as the passing events of 
the day, or the nearest concerns of our own time. 

When a war, indeed, carried on more than 
two thousand years ago, in which the belli- 
gerent parties have long since ceased to exist, 
when every thing has been since changed — 
when a long series of historical catastrophes has 
intervened between that period and our own ; 
when such a warfare, offering as it does but at 
best a remote analogy to the circumstances of 
nearer times, and consequently possessing no 

B 2 



immediate interest» has been investigated by the 
mighty intellect of a Thucydides, pourtrayed by 
him in the highest style of eloquence, and un- 
folded to our view with the most consummate 
knowledge of mankind, of public life, and of the 
most intimate relations of Government ; such a 
warfare then retains a permanent interest, and 
is a lasting source of instruction. We love to 
dive into the minutest details of an event so 
widely removed from us — and such a study is to 
be regarded and prized as highly useful, were it 
only as an exercise of historical reflection, and 
a school of political science. This remark will 
equally hold good, when the internal feuds of a 
less powerful state have been analyzed and laid 
open by the acute perspicacity and delicate dis- 
crimination of a Mach^avelli. And still more, 
perhaps, when a great system of pacification, like 
that which Augustus gave, or promised to give 
to the whole civilized world, and established for 
a certain period at least, has been fathomed by 
the searching eye of a Tacitus, and by his mas- 
terly hand delineated in its ulterior progress and 
remoter effects ; shewing, as he does, how that 
surface, apparently so calm, concealed number- 
less sources of disquiet — an abyss of crime and 
destruction — how that evil principle in the dege- 
nerate government of Rome became more and 
more apparent, and, under a succession of 
wicked rulers, broke out into paroxysms more 
and more fearful. 


As a school of political science and historical 
reflection, the study of these and similar classi- 
cal historical works is of inestimable advantage. 
But independently of this, and considered merely 
in themselves, all those countless battles — those 
endless, and even, for the greater part, useless 
wars, of which the long succession Alls up for so 
many thousand years the annals of all nations, 
are but little atoms compared with the great 
whole of human destiny. The same, with a 
slight distinction, will hold good of so many cele- 
brated treaties of peace in past ages, when these 
have lost all interest for real life and the present 
order of things ; — treaties, which though brought 
about by great labour, and upheld by con- 
summate art, were yet internally defective, and 
sooner or later, and often quickly enough, fell 
to pieces and were destroyed. 

From all these descriptions of ancient wars, 
and treaties of peace, no longer applicable or of 
interest to the present world or present order of 
things, historical philosophy can deduce but 
one, though by no means unimportant, result. 
It is this — that the internal discord, innate in 
man and in the human race, may easily and at 
every moment break out into real and open 
strife — nay, that peace itself — that immutable 
object of high political art, when regarded from 
this point of view, appears to be nothing else 
than a war retarded or kept under by human 
dexterity; for some secret disposition — some 


diseased political matter, is almost ever at hand 
to call it into existence. In the same way as a 
scientific physician regards the health of the 
body, or its right temperature, as a happy equi- 
poise — a middle line not easy to be observed 
between two contending evils — we must ever ex- 
pect in such an organic imperfection a tendency 
to, or the seeds of, disease in one shape or 

Political events form but one part, and not the 
whole, of human history. A knowledge of details, 
however great and various it may be, constitutes 
no science in the philosophic sense of the word» 
for it is in the right and comprehensive con- 
ception of the whole that science consists. 

As the greater part of the nine hundred mil- 
lions of men on the whole surface of the earth, 
according to the highest estimate of a hazard- 
ous calculation, are bom, live and die, without a 
history of them being possible, or without their 
reckoning a fraction in the general history — so 
that the extremely small number of those called 
historical men, forms but a rare exception — so 
there are nations and countries, which in a gene- 
ral comparative survey of nations, serve but as 
a mark or evidence of some particular stage of 
civilization, without of themselves holding any 
place in the general history of our species, or 
conducing to the social progress of mankind, or 
possessing any weight or importance in the 
scale of humanity. 


There is a point of view, indeed, from whi ch 
the matter appears under a different aspect, and 
is really different. To the all-seing eye of Pro- 
vidence, every human life, however brief its du- 
ration, however apparently insignificant, presents 
a point of internal development and crisis, conse- 
quently a species of history, cognizable and 
visible to that Eye only, and therefore not en- 
tirely without an object. But this point of view 
belongs to another order of things, and is no 
longer historical — it has reference to the immor- 
tal destinies of the human soul, and the connec- 
tion of the present life with another world invi- 
sible to us. But our historical science is limited 
to the department of man's present existence ; 
and in our historical enquiries we must not lose 
sight of this principle . 

But the internal development of mind, so far 
as it is historical, belongs as much as the exter- 
nal events of politics to the department of human 
history, and must by no means be excluded from 
it. Among these rare exceptions of historical 
men, must be named that ancient master of 
human acuteness who was the teacher of Alex- 
ander the Great, and who perhaps holds not an 
humbler or less important place in this exalted 
sphere than the conqueror himself, although this 
philosopher, whose genius embraced nature, the 
world and life, was by his own contemporaries 
less honoured and celebrated than by a remote 
posterity. Here in our western world, and long 


after the kingdoms founded by the Macedonian 
conqueror had disappeared, and were forgotten, 
Aristotle for many centuries reigned the abso- 
lute lord of the Christian schools, and directed 
the march of human science and human specu- 
lation in the middle age. Whether he were 
always rightly understood and studied in the 
right way is another question, for here we are 
speaking of his overruling infliience and histo- 
rical importance. Nay, in later times, he has 
materially served the cause of the better natural 
philosophy founded on experience, in which he 
himself accomplished things so extraordinary 
for his age, and was originally, and for a long 
while, the guide and master. 

The first fundamental rule of historical 
science and research, when by these is sought 
a knowledge of the general destinies of mankind, 
is to keep these and every object connected with 
them steadily in view, without losing ourselves 
in the details of special enquiries and particular 
facts, for the multitude and variety of these 
subjects is absolutely boundless; and on the 
ocean of historical science the main subject 
easily vanishes from the eye. In history, as in 
every branch of mental culture, the first ele- 
mentary school - instruction is not merely an 
important, but ap essential, condition to a higher 
and more scientific knowledge. At first indeed 
it is merely a nomenclature of celebrated per- 
sonages and events — a sketch of the great his- 


torical eras, divided according to chronological 
dates, or a geographical plan — which must be 
impressed on the memory, and which serves as 
a basis preparatory to that more vivid and com- 
prehensive knowledge to be obtained in riper 
years. Thus this first knowledge stored up in 
the memory, and necessary for methodizing and 
arranging the mass of historical learning to 
be afterwards acquired, is more a preparation 
for the study of history, than the real science of 
history itself. In the higher grades of academic 
instruction, the lessons on history must vary 
with each one's calling and pursuits — one course 
of historical reading is necessary for the Theo- 
logian, another for the lawyer or civilian. To 
the physician, and in general to the naturalist, 
natural history, and what in the history of 
man is most akin to that science, will ever be 
the most captivating. And the philologist will 
find a boundless field for enquiry in special 
antiquarian researches, particularly now when, 
in addition to classical learning and the more 
common oriental tongues, the languages and 
historical antiquities of the remoter nations of 
Asia have attracted the attention of European 
scholars, and the original sources are becoming 
every day more accessible. 

Even the sphere of modern political history, 
from which for the practical business of govern- 
ment so much is to be learned, will be found 
equally extensive — when, besides the modern 


classical works, we look to the countless mul- 
titude of private memoirs and other historical 
and political writings ; especially at a time and 
in a world where even periodical publications 
and newspapers have become a power and an 
art or a science, and society itself falls more and 
more under the sway of journalism. If in this 
department of politics and statistics, we add 
also the number of unprinted documents, we 
shall find that the archives of many a state 
would alone furnish occupation for more than 
a man's life. 

In all such special departments of historical 
science, the great whole of history is made 
subordinate to some secondary object ; and this 
cannot be otherwise. It may even be advan- 
tageous for the profounder knowledge and more 
skilful exposition of universal history that we 
should seriously investigate some particular 
branch of history ; and, in a science so various, 
select some special subject for more minute en- 
quiry ; but this can never be done without some 
decided predilection — some almost party bias 
towards the subject. Yet such special en- 
quiries are only preparatory or auxiliary to the 
general science or philosophy of history — but 
not that science itself. Thus at the outset of 
my literary cjureer, I devoted a considerable 
time to a very minute study of the Greeks — * 

* Schlegel's first great work was entitled ** the Greeks and 
the Romans," published in the year 1797. 


and subsequently I applied myselfto the Hindoo 
language and philosophy, at that time more 
difficult of access than at the present day. * In 
the struggles of life, and amid the public dan- 
gers of our times, I was alive to a patriotic 
feeling for the history of my own country, and 
recent times; and, perhaps, there are some 
among my present hearers who remember the 
historical lectures I delivered in this spirit 
eighteen years ago in this imperial city, f It is 
now my wish, and the object I propose to myself, 
to discard all antiquarian, oriental or European 
predilections for particular branches of history, 
and to unfold to view, and render completely 
clear and intelligible, the great edifice of uni- 
versal history in all its parts, members and 

The first fundamental rule here laid down, 
with respect to the mode of treating general 
history — namely to keep the attention fixed on 
the main subject, and not to let it be distracted 
or dissipated by a number of minute details — 
concerned more the method of historical science. 
The second rule regards the subject and purport 
of history, and stands in more immediate con- 
nexion with the first portion of this work — that 

* The result of our author's researches on Hindoo literature 
and philosophy was evidenced in his work entitled '^ The IouOl" 
gVL2Lge and Wisdom of the Indians," published in 1808. 

t Schlegel alludes to "The Lectures on Modem History," 
which he delivered at Vienna in the year 1810. 



relating to primitive history. This second fun- 
damental rule of historical science may be thus 
simply expressed : — we should not wish to ex- 
plain every thing. Historical tradition must 
never be abandoned in the philosophy of history 
— otherwise we lose all firm ground and footing. 
But historical tradition, ever so accurately con- 
ceived and carefully sifted, doth not always, es- 
pecially in the early and primitive ages, bring 
with it a full and demonstrative certainty. In 
such cases, we have nothing to do but to record, 
as it is given, the best and safest testimony 
which tradition, so far as we have it, can afibrd ; 
supposing even that some things in that testi- 
mony appear strange, obscure and even enig- 
matical; and perhaps a comparison with some 
other part of historical science— or, if I may so 
speak, stream of tradition, will unexpectedly 
lead to the solution of the difficulty. Extremely 
hazardous is the desire to explain every thing, 
and to supply whatever appears a gap in 
history — for in this propensity lies the first 
cause and germ of all those violent and arbitra- 
ry hypotheses which perplex and pervert the 
science of history far more than the open avowal 
of our ignorance, or the uncertainty of our know- 
ledge : hypotheses which give an oblique direc- 
tion, or an exaggerated and false extension, to a 
view of the subject originally not incorrect. 
And even if there are points which appear not 
very clear to us, or which we leave unexplain- 


ed — this will not prevent us from comprehend- 
ing, so far at least as the limited conception of 
man is able, the great outline of human history, 
though here and there a gap should remain. 

This matter will be best explained by an 
example that will bring us at once to the subject 
we propose to treat. Let us imagine some bold 
Navigators (and what we here suppose by way 
of example has more than once actually oc- 
curred) touching at some island inhabited by 
wild savages in the midst of the great ocean 
between America and Eastern Asia. This is- 
land lies, we suppose, at a very great distance 
from either Continent, and the same will hold 
good of it, though there be a group of islands. 
These savages have but miserable fishing-boats 
made of hollow trunks of trees, by which it is 
not easy to conceive how they could have been 
transported so far. The question now naturally 
occurs how has this race of men come hither ? — 

A PagSLTi natural philosophy, which even 
now dares often enough to raise its voice, would 
be very ready with its answer : " There, it would 
say, you see plainly how every thing has sprung 
from the pap of the earth — the primitive slime 
— there is no need of the far-fetched idea of an 
ims^inary Creator — these self-existing men of 
the earth— these well known autocthones of the 
ancients — these true sons of nature — have risen 
up or crawled out of the fruitful slime of the 


A deeper physiological science would, in- 
dependently of every other consideration, and 
looking merely to the natural organization of 
man, scout this wild chaotic hypothesis re- 
specting his origin from slime. For this organic 
frame of the human body, which has become a 
body of death, is still endowed with many and 
wonderful powers, and still encloses the hidden 
light of its celestial origin. — Without, however, 
entering further into this enquiry, which falls 
not within the limits here prescribed, let us 
rather tacitly believe that although, as the an- 
cient history saith, man was formed out of the 
slime of the earth ; yet it was by the same Hand 
which invisibly conducts each individual through 
life, and has more than once rescued all man- 
kind from the brink of the abyss, that his mar- 
vellous body was framed, into which the Maker 
himself breathed the immortal spirit of life. 
This divine in-dwelling spark in man, the Hea- 
thens themselves, notwithstanding the opinion 
about the autocthones, recognized in the beauti- 
ful tradition or fiction of Prometheus ; and many 
of their first spirits, philosophers, orators and 
poets, and grave and moral teachers, have in 
one form or another, and under a variety of 
figurative expressions, borne frequent and loud 
and repeated testimony to the truth of a higher 
spirit, a divine flame, animating the breast of 
man. This universal faith in the heavenly Pro- 
methean light — or as we should rather say, this 


Spark of our bosoms — ^is the only thing we must 
here pre-suppose, and from which all our his- 
torical deductions must be taken. With the 
opposite doctrine — with the absolute unbelief 
in all which constitutes man really man — no his- 
tory, and no science of history, is possible ; and 
this is the only remark we shall here oppose to 
an infidelity tihat denies the existence of every 
thing high and godly. For the question re- 
specting the creation of man, or as atheism 
terms it, the first springing up of the human 
race, is beyond the limits of history, and must 
be left to the decision of revelation and faith ; 
for the question can be reached by no history, 
no science of history — no historical research. 
History begins, as this will be presently shown, 
with man's second step; which immediately 
follows his concealed origin antecedent to all 

To recur now to the example already given 
of an island situated in the middle of the ocean, 
with its savage inhabitants and their miserable 
fishing-boats — the real solution, as experience 
has really proved, of this apparent difficulty is, 
on a nearer acquaintance with the subject, 
easily found. If, for example, the language and 
traditions of this rude, savage, or at least de- 
graded, tribe, are minutely studied and investi- 
gated, then so striking a resemblance and af- 
finity will be found with the languages and 
traditions of the races in either of the remotely 


situated continents, that the most sceptical 
mind will hardly entertain a doubt respecting 
the common origin of both ; for this community 
in language and traditions is too strong, too 
strikingly evident, to be ascribed with any degree 
of probability to the sport of accident. This 
truth now once firmly established, (for a com- 
munity of language, tradition and race among all 
the nations of the earth is a truth almost unani- 
mously received and acknowledged by those his- 
torical enquirers most versed in nature, and most 
learned in philology of the present age,) it be- 
comes a mere matter of indifference, or one at 
least of minor importance, how and in what way 
this originally savage, or at least barbarized 
tribe first arrived hither ; and it were a mere waste 
of labour to select, among the hundred concei- 
vable or inconceivable accidents and possibilities 
which may have occasioned or led to this ar- 
rival, any particular one as the best explanation, 
and to found thereon some ingenious hypothesis, 
how the land on both sides may have been dif- 
ferently situated, before a closer connexion with 
this little island was broken off by the destruc- 
tive floods ; or in which of the last great ca- 
tastrophes of the earth that disjunction may 
have taken place. We may leave such con- 
jectures to themselves, and, satisfied with the 
main result, proceed further in the historical in- 
vestigation and survey of the earth. For, in 
truth, the earth's surface more narrowly and 


carefully examined, furnishes in reference to 
man and his primitive history, far other and 
weightier problems than those involved in the 
example first selected. 

It is generally known that in a great many 
places situated in various parts of the earth, in 
the interior of mountains and even on plains, 
sometimes near the surface, and sometimes at a 
greater or less depth in the interior of moun- 
tainous chains rising to a very great elevation 
above the level of the sea, there are found whole 
strata of scattered bones belonging to animal 
species either actually existing, or which former- 
ly existed and are now totally extinct — the cha- 
otic remains of an all destroying inundation that 
immediately remind us of the general tradition 
respecting the great Flood. In other places 
again extensive layers of coral, sea-shells, ma- 
rine plants, and other products of the sea, im- 
bedded in the firm soil, prove these tracts of 
land to have been an ancient bottom of the sea. 
According to all appearance, these are not only 
monuments of one great natural revolution, but 
these elemental gigantic sepulchres of the pri- 
mitive world offer to the mind many and 
various problems which more nearly, indeed, 
regard the earth, but as that planet is the habi- 
tation of man, have in consequence an indirect, 
but proximate, reference to mankind and their 
earliest history. A single example will best 
serve to point out among so many things, which 

VOL. I. c 


are no longer perhaps susceptible of explana- 
tion, that which is of most moment to the histo- 
rian ; as well as the limits within which he 
should keep. 

Not long back, about nine years ago, a 
cave was discovered in the county of York- 
shire in England, filled for the most part 
with the bones and skeletons of hyaenas, of the 
same species now found in the southernmost 
point of Africa — the Cape of Good Hope. These 
bones were intermixed with those of tigers, 
bears, wolves, as also of elephants, rhinosceri, 
and other animals, among which were found the 
remains of the old large deer, that is not now to 
be met with in England. The profound Na- 
turalist, Schubert, whom, in subjects of this 
kind, I willingly take for my guide, observes in 
his natural history with respect to this newly 
discovered cavern (which evidently belongs to 
another, long extinct, and anterior world of 
nature) ; that the opinion which would make a 
whole stratum of bones to have been swept 
thither by floods in so sound a state, and from so 
remote a distance, is perfectly inadmissible. He 
shews it to be much more probable that this 
cave was the den of a troop of hyaenas, which 
had dragged thither the bones of the other 
animals ; for this fell and rapacious animal feeds 
by preference on bones, which it knows how to 
break, as it is in the habit of raking up dead 
bodies. — What an immense interval separates 


that now highly civilized state — those flourish-^ 
ing provinces — that country abounding, and al- 
most overteeming with all the fruits of human 
industry, with all the productions of mechanic 
skill; — that cultivated garden, that Island-Queen, 
the mistress of every sea ;— what an immense 
interval separates her from those savage times, 
when troops of hyaenas prowled about the land, 
together with the other gigantic animals of the 
southern zone, and tropic clime ! 

Thus it is natural to suppose that in one of the 
last great revolutions of nature the climate of the 
earth has undergone a total change ; and that ori- 
ginally the now icy north enjoyed a glowing 
warmth, a rich fertility, and all the fulness of 
luxuriant life. A number of still more decisive 
facts declare for this supposition, or, to speak 
more properly, this certainty; since we dis- 
cover in the upper parts of Northern Asia, and 
in general throughout the Polar regions, entire 
forests of palm in the subterraneous strata, as 1 
also well-preserved remains of whole herds of 
elephants, and of many other kindred species 
of animals now totally extinct. Long before 
most of these facts were discovered, Leibnitz 
had conjectured that originally the earth in 
general, even in the north, enjoyed a much 
warmer temperature than in the present period 
of all-ruling and progressive frost; and BufTon 
and others have established on this idea their 
hypothesis of a vast central fire in the interior 



of the earth. The interior parts of the earth 
and its internal depths are a region totally im- 
pervious to the eye of mortal man, and can least 
of all be approached by those ordinary paths of 
hypothesis adopted by naturalists and geolo- 
gists. The region designed for the existence of 
man, and of every other creature endowed with 
organic life, as well as the sphere open to the 
preception of man*s senses, is confined to a 
limited space between the upper and lower 
parts of the earth, exceedingly small in pro- 
portion to the diameter, or even semi-diameter 
of the earth, and forming only the exterior 
surface, or outer skin, of the great body of the 
earth. Even at a very slight depth below the 
earth's surface, all change of seasons ceases, 
and an even temperature eternally prevails, 
approximating rather to cold, than living heat. 
Yet on this side the earth is more easy of access 
than in the upper regions, where not only the 
higher Alps and glaciers are the last attainable 
limit to human daring, but even the pure ether 
of the supernal atmosphere made an aeronaut, 
celebrated for his disaster, learn at his ovm cost, 
how very near is that boundary where, in dead- 
ening cold, all life and all observation cease. 
It is in the physical, as in the moral world — 
where light and heat should exist, there two 
things are necessary — a power to give light 
and communicate heat, and a substance capa- 
ble of receiving and absorbing the one and the 


Other. Where either condition is wanting, there 
reigns eternal darkness, and deadly and eternal 
cold ; and so the fact, that the whole action of 
heat, and of all the life it produces, is confined 
entirely to this lower atmosphere, should awake 
attention rather than create surprise. In all 
matters, even of this sort, we cannot be too 
mindful of the necessity of confining our re- 
searches to that small narrowly circumscribed 
sphere inhabited by man, and of never exceed- 
ing those limits. 

Thus to explain the fact that the habitable 
earth has not, as originally, so warm a tempera- 
ture as the north, we need not have recourse to 
any supposition of a central fire suddenly 
extinguished, like an oven that becomes cold, 
or to any other violent hypothesis of the same 
kind; for this fact may be sufficiently ac- 
counted for by the last great revolution of 
Nature — the general deluge, which as may 
be assumed with great probability, produ- 
ced a change in the heretofore much purer, 
balmier, and more genial atmosphere. That, 
towards the equator, the position of the earth's 
axis has undergone a change, and that thereby 
this great revolution in the earth's climate was 
occasioned, is indeed a bare possibility; but 
until further proof, this must be regarded as a 
purely gratuitous hypothesis. But without sub- 
scribing to these fanciful suppositions, and 
mathematical theories, and without wishing to 


penetrate, with some geologists, into the hidden 
depths of the earth in quest of an imagined central 
fire, we shall find on the inhabited surface of the 
globe, or very near it, many proofs and indica- 
tions of the once superior energy of the prin- 
ciple of fire — a principle whereof volcanoes 
whether subsisting or extinct, and the kindred 
phenomena of earthquakes, may be considered 
the last feeble, surviving effects ; for not basalt 
only, but porphyry, granite, and in general all 
the primary rocks, and those which, according 
to the classifications of geologists, are more 
immediately akin to them, can be proved to be 
of a volcanic nature with as much certainty, as 
we can trace, in the horizontal secondary forma- 
tions, the destructive influence and operation of 
the element of water. Hence this layer of 
subterraneous, though now in general slumber- 
ing fire, with all its volcanic arteries and 
veins of earthquakes, may once have been 
as widely diffused over the surface of the 
globe as the element of water, now occupying 
so large a portion of that surface. As volcanic 
rocks exist in the ocean, or rather at its bottom, 
and as their eruptions burst through the body of 
waters up to the surface of the sea; as their 
volcanic agency gives birth to earthquakes, 
and not unfrequently raises and heaves up new 
islands firom the depths of the ocean; natu- 
ralists have concluded, with reason from these 
various facts, that the volcanic basis of the 


earth's surface though tolerably near, must still 
be somewhat deeper than the bottom of the sea. 
And without stopping to examine the hypothe- 
sis relative to the immeasurable depth of the 
ocean, the opinion which fixes the earth's basis 
at about 30,000 feet, or one geographical mile 
and a half below the surface of the sea, does not 
exceed the modest limits of a well-considered 
probability. In the present period of the globe, 
water is the predominant element on the earth's 
surface. But if that volcanic power which lies 
deeper in the bosom of the earth, and the kin- 
dred principle of fire, had at an earlier epoch 
of nature, the same influence and operation on 
the earth, as water afterwards had ; we can well 
imagine such an influence to have materially 
affected the lower atmosphere, and to have 
rendered the climate of the earth, even in the 
North, totally different from what it is at pre- 

The strata of bones formed by the old flood, 
and the buried remains of a former race of 
animals, call forth a remark, which is not with- 
out importance in respect to the primitive his- 
tory of man : — it is, that among the many bones 
of other large and small land animals, which 
form of themselves a rich and varied collection 
of the subterraneous products of nature, the 
fossile remains of man are scarcely any where 
to be found. It has sometimes happened that 
what Mere at first considered the bones of 


human giants have been afterwards proved to 
have been those of animals. It is so very rare 
an instance to meet in fossile remains with a 
real human bone, skull, jaw-bone or entire 
human skeleton (as in one particular instance 
was found enclosed in a lime-stone, mixed with 
some few utensils and instruments of the primi- 
tive world, such as a stone-knife, a copper axe, 
• an iron club, and a dagger of a very ancient 
form, together with some human bones); that 
the very rareness of the exception serves only to 
confirm the generaL rule. Were we from this 
fact immediately to draw the conclusion that 
during all those revolutions of nature mankind 
had not yet existence, such an hypothesis 
would be rash, groundless, completely at va- 
riance with history — one to which many even 
physical objections, too long to detail here, 
might be opposed. That so very few, and in- 
deed scarcely any human bones are to be found 
among the fossile remains of the primitive world, 
may possibly be owing to the circumstance 
that by the very artificial, hot, and highly 
seasoned food of men, their bones, from their 
chemical nature and qualities, are more liable to 
destruction than those of other animals. I may 
here repeat what I have already had occasion 
to remark, and what is here of especial import- 
ance, as applying particularly to the history 
and circumstances of the primitive world; — 
namely, that all things are not susceptible of an 


entire, satisfactory, and absolutely certain ex- 
planation ; and that yet we may form a tolerably 
correct conception of general facts ; though many 
of the particulars may remain for a time unex- 
plained, or at least not capable of a full explana- 
tion. So on the other hand, it would be prema- 
ture, and little conformable to the grave circum-* 
spection of the historian, to reduce all those 
natural catastrophes (the vouching monuments 
and mysterious inscriptions of which are now 
daily disclosed to the eye of Science as she ex- 
plores the deep sepulchres of the earth) — to 
reduce, I say, all those natural catastrophes 
exclusively to the one nearest to the historical 
times, and which indeed is attested by the clear, 
unanimous tradition of all, or at least of most 
ancient nations ; for several mighty and violent, 
revolutions of nature, of various kinds, though 
of a less general extent, may possibly have 
happened, and very probably did really happen 
simultaneously with, or subsequently, or even 
previously to the last general flood. 

The irruption of the Black Sea into the 
Thracian Bosphorus is regarded by very com- 
petent judges in such matters, as an event per- 
fectly historical, or at least, from its proximity 
to the historical times, as not comparatively of 
so primitive a date. A celebrated Northern 
naturalist has shewn it to be extremely proba- 
ble, that the Caspian Sea, and the lake Aral 
were originally united with the Euxine, and that 


r' - 


on the Other hand the North Sea extended very 
far over land, and even near to those regions, 
leaving some marine plants very different from 
those of the Southern Seas. The sea originally 
must have stretched much farther over the eartli 
and even over many places where now is dry 
land, as may easily be inferred from the great 
and extensive salt-steppes in Asia, Africa, and 
some parts of Eastern Europe, which furnish 
many and irrefragable proofs that the land was 
once occupied by the sea. 

All these great physical changes are not 
necessarily and exclusively to be ascribed to 
the last general deluge. The presumed irrup- 
tion of the Mediterranean into the ocean, as well 
as many other mere partial revolutions in the 
earth and sea, may have occurred much later 
and quite apart from this great event. The 
original magnificence of the climate of the 
North, as displayed in tlie luxuriant richness 
of all organic productions^ is commemorated in 
many traditions of the primitive nations, espe- 
cially those of Southern Asia ; and in these sagas, 
the North is ever made the subject of unconounon 
eulogy. That the North enjoys a certain natu- 
ral pre-eminence appears to be matter of cer- 
tainty, and to be even susceptible of scientific 
demonstration. The northern and southern 
extremities of our planet appear at least to be 
very unlike, if we judge the terraqueous globe 
according to the present state of geographical 


knowledge. While the old and new continents, 
the north of Asia and of America, extend in 
long and wide tracts of land high up towards 
the North Pole, so that the boundaries of land 
cannot be every where perfectly defined ; water 
is the predominant element around the colder 
South Pole, towards which even the southern- 
most point of America, and the remotest Island 
of Polynesia — the extreme verge of land — make 
no near approach ; and beyond these points, so 
far as the boldest navigators have been able to 
penetrate, they have discovered only sea and 
ice, and no where a real Polar region of any 
great extent. Thus the South Pole is the cold 
and watery side, or as we should say in dyna- 
mics, the negative and weaker end of the^ 
earth's body, while the North Pole on the other 
hand appears to be the positive and stronger 
extremity ; for, though the centre of the earth's 
magnetic attraction and magnetic life, accords 
not mathematically with the northern point, yet 
it lies at no very great distance from it. In other 
phenomena of nature, too, the real seat and 
principle of life will be found, not at the mathe- 
matical point, but a little removed from it. 

Another circumstance worthy of consideration 
is, that the Northern firmament possesses by far 
the largest and most brilliant constellations, and 
that though the Southern firmament is embel- 
lished by its own, they are neither in the same 
number, nor of the same beauty. To the im- 


pressions made by such objects, the men of the 
primitive ages were certainly far more alive than 
those of the present day ; and an obscure feeling 
for nature, grounded on the real natural supe- 
rioi:ity of the North, as well as the poetical 
sagas ^ which were in part the natural offspring 
of such feelings, may have contributed to direct 
the stream of the first migrations of nations 
towards the North, and have occasioned the very 
early colonization and settlement of its regions : 
for, in primitive antiquity, a certain presentient 
instinct, it is right to suppose, was much oftener 
the primary cause of those migrations than 
such a spirit of commercial speculation as af- 
terwards animated the Phsenicians and their 
various colonies. We may here also observe 
that even in its present state, the remoter North 
has its own peculiar charms and advantages, 
and that by human industry it may attain to a 
much higher degree of productiveness, than we 
should be at first-sight tempted to suppose. 
In this sense ought to be taken the tradition of 
antiquity, as to the happy and virtuous people 
of the Hyperboreans ; and it is easy to under- 
stand it in this sense without inferring thence 
too many consequences. If on the other hand, 
some able and learned naturalists, led away 
by this fact, appear almost inclined to re- 
gard the region of the North Pole, once in the 
enjoyment of a warm southern temperature, as 
one of the earliest, nay the very earliest abode 

, /• •■• *_' ^^ ■ - I- ' '^ m I 


of the human race : I cannot follow them in 
their hypothesis, opposed as it is to the positive^ 
and unanimous tradition of many and most an- 
cient nations, pointing with one concurrent voice 
to central Asia as man's primitive dwelling- 
place. It appears indeed that the tradition of 
antiquity as to the Island of Atlantis ought to 
be considered historical ; but instead of regard- 
ing this country as an island of the Blessed 
situated in the arctic circle, I think it much 
more natural to refer the whole tradition to an 
obscure nautical knowledge of America, or of 
those adjacent islands at which Columbus first 
touched, and to which the PhaBuician pilots 
(who beyond all doubt circumnavigated Africa) 
may not improbably have been driven in the 
course of their voyage. 

I have laid it down as an invariable maxim 
constantly to follow historical tradition, and to 
hold fast by that clue, even when many things 
in the testimony and declarations of tradition 
appear strange and almost inexplicable, or at 
least enigmatical ; for so soon as in the investi- 
gations of ancient history, we let slip that thread 
of Ariadne, we can find no outlet from the la- 
byrinth of fanciful theories, and the chaos of 
clashing opinions. For this reason I cannot 
concur in the very violent hypothesis which a 
celebrated geologist, towards the close of the 
last century, M. De Luc, has hazarded respect- 
ing the deluge, and which the excellent Stol- 


berg has adopted in his great historical work ;* 
although the author of this theory, so far from 
intending to oppose it to the Mosaic account of 
the deluge, or to set aside the narrative of the 
inspired historian, conceived his hypothesis 
was calculated to furnish the strongest confirm* 
ation and clearest illustration of the sacred 
text. But I cannot reconcile his theory either 
with Holy Writ, or with the general testimony of 
historical tradition. The supposition is this, that 
the deluge was not a general inundation of the 
whole earth, according to the ordinary belief, 
but a mere change of the solid and fluid parts 
of the earth's surface, a dynamical transmuta- 
tion of land and sea, so that what was formerly 
land became sea, and vice versa. This is much 
more than can be found in the old account of 
the Noachian flood, or than a sound critical 
interpretation would infer ; and the supposition 
that the names of rivers and countries occurring 
in the Bible, refer to those objects as they existed 
in the original dry land ; and are again to be 
transferred to similar objects in the new land 
that sprang up with, or after, or out of the 
deluge ; this supposition, I say, bears too evi- 
dently the stamp of arbitrary conjecture, to 
gain admission and credit with those who have 

• The History of Religion by Count Frederick Stolberg ; — ^a 
noble monument raised by genius and learning to the honour of 
Religion . — Tran^. 


taken historical tradition for their guide. If by 
the geological facts which offer, or which we 
think offer, satisfactory proof, not only of the 
general Noachian flood, but of more than one 
deluge and of still more violent catastrophes of 
nature ; if by these geological facts before our 
eyes, such a total revolution and dynamic trans* 
mutation of land and sea were really proved (and 
the character of these proofs I must abandon 
to the investigation and judgment of others) ; 
this great revolution examined in an historical 
point of view, and in reference to the Mosaic 
history, must then be rather referred to that 
elder period, whereof it is said : " The earth 
was without form and void, and darkness was 
upon the face of the deep ; but the Spirit of 
God moved upon the face of the waters." 

These words which announce the presage of a 
new mom of creation, not only represent a darker 
and wilder state of the globe, but very clearly 
show the element of water to be still in predo- 
minant force. Even the division of the elements 
of the waters above the firmament, and of 
the waters below it, on the second day of crea- 
tion — the permanent limitation of the sea for 
the formation and visible appearance of dry 
land, necessarily imply a mighty revolution in 
the earth, and afford additional proof that the 
Mosaic history speaks not only of one, but of 
several catastrophes of nature ; a circumstance 
that has not been near enough attended to in 



the geological interpretation and illustration of 
the Bible. But to the bold and ill-founded 
hypothesis above-mentioned, many geological 
facts may be opposed, for in the midst of vast 
tracts and strata of an ancient bottom of the sea, 
many spots are found covered with the accumu- 
lated remains of land animals, with trunks of 
trees and various other products of vegetation, 
pertaining not to the sea, but to dry land. 

With the clearest and- most indubitable pre- 
cision, the Mosaic history fixes the primitive 
dwelling-place of man in that central region of 
Western Asia situate near two great rivers, and 
amid four inland seas, the Persian and Arabian 
gulfs on the one hand, and the Caspian and 
Mediterranean seas on the other, and which is 
likewise designated for the same purpose by the 
concurrent traditions of most other primitive 
nations. The ancient tradition of the European 
nations as to their own origin and early his- 
tory, conducts the enquirer constantly to the 
Caucasian regions, to Asia Minor, to Phsenicia, 
and to Egypt ; countries all of them contiguous 
to, in the vicinity and even on the coast of, that 
central region. Among the primitive Asiatic 
nations, the Chinese place the cradle of their 
origin and civilization in the north - western 
province of Shensee ; and the Indians fix theirs 
towards the north of the Himalaya mountains. 
Thus this last tradition points to Bactriana, 
which, as it borders on Persia, approximates 


consequently to that central region ; whereof 
the holy and primitive country of the Persian 
Sagas, Atropatena or land of fire, now known 
by the name of Adherbijan forms a part. With 
a clearness and precision which admit of no 
doubt, the Mosaic history designates the two 
great rivers of that central region, the Tigris 
and Euphrates, by the same names which they 
have ever afterwards borne ; and even the name 
of Eden, down to a later period, was affixed to a 
a country near Damascus, and to another in 
Assyria, The third river of Paradise has been 
sought for by some in a more Northerly direc- 
tion — in the region of Mount Caucasus ; and 
though not with equal certainty as in the other 
two instances, they have thought to find it in 
the Phasis. The fourth river towards the South, 
the old Interpreters generally took to be the 
Nile; but the description of its course is so 
widely difierent from the present situation of 
that river, and the present geography of the 
whole of those regions, that here at least a very 
great change must have occurred, in order to 
occasion this discrepancy between the old de- 
scription of this river's course, and the present 
geography of the country. 

In another circumstance, also, which has 
been mostly too little attended to, this disparity 
between the Mosaic description and the present 
conformation of those regions is particularly 
striking. The geography of the rivers of Para- 

VOL. I. D 


dise, at least of two or three, may be easily 
traced, though the fourth remains a matter of 
uncertainty ; but the one source of Paradise in 
which those four rivers had their rise, in order 
thence to spread, and diffuse fertility over the 
whole earth — this one source, which is precisely 
the object of most importance, can no where be 
found on the earth ; whether it be dried or filled 
up, or howsoever it has been removed. In 
attending to some indications in Scripture, and 
without transgressing the due limits of interpre- 
tation, may we not be permitted to conjecture 
that the first chastisement inflicted on man by 
expulsion from his first glorious habitation and 
primeval home^ may have been accompanied by 
a change in Paradise brought about by some 
natural convulsion ? To judge by analogy, and 
from circumstances, which even a passage in 
Holy Writ alludes to, this convulsion must have 
been rather a volcanic eruption, by which even 
at the present day the sources of rivers are 
dried up, and their course completely changed, 
than a mere inundation that we are ever wont 
to regard as the sole possible cause of physical 
revolutions. Many vestiges of such changes 
may perhaps be proved from even geological 
observation ; — thus to cite only one example, 
the dead sea in Palestine itself may be included 
in the number of those lakes that bear very 
evident traces of a volcanic origin. The suppo- 
sition, however, which we have ventured to 


make, must not be looked upon in the light of 
a formal hypothesis, but rather as a question 
dictated by a love of enquiry, and by a desire 
for the further elucidation of a subject not yet 
sufficiently understood. 

Thus have I now taken a general survey 
of the early condition of the globe, considered 
as the habitation of man, and as far as was 
necessary for that object; and in this rapid 
sketch, I have endeavoured, as far as was pos- 
sible for a layman, to place in the clearest light 
the most remarkable and best attested facts and 
discoveries of geology, with a constant attention 
to the testimony of primitive and historical 
tradition. No longer embarrassed by these phy- 
sical discussions, we may now proceed to meet 
the main question : " What relation hath man 
to this his habitation — earth ; what place doth 
he occupy therein ; and what rank doth he 
hold among the other creatures and co-habitants 
of this globe, what is his proper destiny upon, 
and in relation to, the earth, and what is it 
which really constitutes him Man ?" 

The absolute,- and, for that reason. Pagan 
system of natural philosophy spoken of above, 
has indeed in these latter times had the cours^e, 
laudable perhaps in the perverse course which 
it had taken, to rank man with the ape, as a 
peculiar species of the general kind. When in 
its anatomical investigations, it has numbered 
the various characteristics of this human ape, 

D 2 


according to the number of its vertebrae, its 
toes, &c. it concedes to man, as his distinguish, 
ing quality, not what we are wont to call reason, 
perfectibility, or the faculty of speech, but " a 
capacity for Constitutions !" Thus man would 
be a liberal ape ! And so far from disagreeing 
with the author of this opinion, we think man 
may undoubtedly become so to a certain extent, 
although the idea that he was originally nothing 
more than a nobler or better disciplined ape is 
alike opposed to the voice of history, and the 
testimony of natural science. If in the exami- 
nation of man's nature we will confine our view 
exclusively to the lower world of animals, I 
should say that the possible contagion and com- 
munication of various diseases, and organic pro- 
perties and powers of animals, would prove in 
man rather a greater sympathy and affinity of 
organic life and animal blood with the cow, 
the sheep, the camel, the horse and the elephant, 
than with the ape. Even in the venomous ser- 
pent and the mad dog, this deadly affinity of 
blood and this fearful contact of internal life 
exist in a difierent and nearer degree, than 
have yet been discovered in the ape. The 
docility too, of the elephant and other generous 
animals, bears much stronger marks of analogy 
with reason than the cunning of the ape, in 
which the native sense of a sound, unprejudiced 
mind will always recognize an unsuccessful and 
abortive imitation of man. The resemblance of 


physiognomy and cast of countenance in the 
lion, the bull, and the eagle, to the human face — 
a resemblance so celebrated in sculpture and 
the imitative arts, and which was interwoven 
into the whole mythology and symbolism of the 
ancients — this resemblance is founded on far 
deeper and more spiritual ideas than any mere 
comparison of dead bones in an animal skeleton 
can suggest. 

The extremes of error, when it has reached 
the height of extravagance, often accelerate the 
return to truth ; and thus to the assertion that 
man is nothing more than a liberalized ape, we 
may boldly answer that man, on the contrary, 
was originally, and by the very constitution of 
his being, designed to be the lord of creation, 
and, though in a subordinate degree, the legiti- 
mate ruler of the earth and of the world around 
him — the vice-gerent of God in nature. And 
if he no longer enjoys this high prerogative 
to its full extent, as he might and ought to have 
done, he has only himself to blame ; if he exer- 
cises his empire over creatures rather by indirect 
means and mechanical agency than by the im- 
mediate power and native energy of his own 
intellectual pre-eminence, he still is the lord of 
creation, and has retained much of the power 
and dignity he once received, did he but al- 
ways make a right use of that power. 

The distinguishing characteristic of man, 
and the peculiar eminence of his nature and his 


destiny, as these are universally felt and acknow- 
ledged by mankind, are usually defined to con- 
sist, either in reason, or in the faculty of speech. 
But this definition is defective in this respect, 
that, on one hand, reason is a mere abstract 
faculty, which to be judged, requires a psycho- 
logical investigation or analysis ; and that on 
the other hand, the faculty of speech is a mere 
potentiality, or a germ which must be unfolded 
before it can become a real entity. We should 
therefore give a much more correct and compre- 
hensive definition, if, instead of this, we said : 
The peculiar pre-eminence of man consists in 
this — that to him alone among all other of earth's 
creatures, the word has been imparted and com- 
municated. The word actually delivered and 
really communicated is not a mere dead faculty, 
but an historical reality and occurrence ; and for 
that very reason, the definition we have given 
stands much more fitly at the head of history, 
than the other more abstract one. 

In the idea of the word, considered as the 
basis of man's dignity and peculiar destination, 
the internal light of consciousness and of our 

own understanding, is undoubtedly first includ- 
ed — this word is not a mere faculty of speech, 
but the fertile root whence the stately trunk of 
all language has sprung. But the word is not 
confined to this only — it next includes a living, 
working power — it is not merely an object and 
organ of knowledge — an instrument of teaching 


and learning ; but the medium of affectionate 
union and concilatory accommodation, judicial 
arbitrement and efficacious command, or even 
creative productiveness, as our own experience 
and life itself manifest each of those significa- 
tions of the word; and thus it embraces the 
whole plenitude of the excellencies and qualities 
which characterize man. 

Nature too, has her mute language and her 
symbolical writing ; but she requires a discern- 
ing intellect to gain the key to her secrets, to 
unravel her profound enigmas ; and, piercing 
through her mysteries, interpret the hidden 
sense of her word, and thus reveal the fulness 
of her glory. But he, to whom alone among all 
earth's creatures, the word has been imparted 
has been for that reason constituted the lord 
and ruler of thfc earth. As soon, however, as he 
abandons that divine principle implanted in 
his breast ; as soon as he loses that word of life 
which had been communicated and confided to 
him ; he sinks down to a level with nature, and, 
from her lord, becomes her vassal ; and here 
commences the history of man. 




'* In the begiimiiig maa had the word^ and that word was 
from God." 

Thus the divine» Promethean spark in the human 
breast, when more accurately described and ex- 
pressed in less figurative language, springs from 
the word originally communicated or intrusted 
to man, as that wherein consist his peculiar 
nature, his intellectual dignity and his high 
destination. — The pregnant expression borrowed 
above from the New Testament, on the mystery 
and internal nature of God, may with some va- 
riation, and bating, as is evident, the immense 
distance between the creature and the Creator, 
be applied to man and his primitive condition ; 
and may serve as a superscription or introduc- 
tion to primitive history in the following terms : 
'' In the beginning man had the word, and that 


word was from God — and out o£the living power 
communicated to jnan in and by that word, 
came the light of his existence." — This is at least 
the divine foundation of all history — it falls not 
properly within the domain of history, but is 
anterior to it. — To this position the state of 
nature among savages forms no valid objection ; 
for that this was the really original condition of 
mankind is by no. means proved, and is arbitra- 
rily assumed ; nay, on the contrary, the savage 
state must be looked upon as a state of degene- 
racy and degradation — consequently not as the 
first, but as the second, phenomenon in human 
history — as something which, as it has resulted 
from Ulis second step in man's progress, must be 
regarded as of a later origin. 

In history, as in all science and in life itself 
the principal point on which every thing turns, 
and the all-deciding problem, is whether all 
things should be deduced from God, and God him- 
self should be considered the first, nature the 
second, existence — the latter holding undoubtedly 
a very important place ;— or, whether, in the in- 
verse order, the precedency should be given to 
nature, and, as invariably happens in such 
caseä, all things should be deduced from nature 
only, whereby the deity, though not by express, 
unequivocal words, yet in fact is indirectly set 
aside, or remains at least unknown. This question 
cannot be settled, nor brought to a conclusion, 
by mere dialectic strife, which rarely leads to its 


object. It is the will which here mostly decides; 
and, according to the nature and leaning of 
his character, leads the individual to choose 
between the two opposite paths, the one he would 
follow in speculation and in science, in faith 
and in life. 

Thus much at least we may say, in referaiee 
to the science of history, that they who in that 
department will consider nature only, and view 
man but with the eye of a naturalist (specious 
and plausible as their reasons may at first sight 
appear), will never rightly comprehend the world 
and reality of history, and never obtain an 
adequate conception, nor exhibit an intelligible 
representation of its phenomena. — On the other 
hand, if we proceed not solely and exclusively 
from nature, but first from God and that be- 
ginning of nature appointed by God, so this is by 
no means a degradation or misapprehension of 
nature ; nor does it imply any hostility towards 
nature — an hostility which could arise only from 
a very defective, .erroneous, or narrow-minded 
conception of historical philosophy. On the 
contrary, experience has proved that by this 
course of speculation we are led more thoroughly 
to comprehend the glory of God in nature, and 
the magnificence of nature herself — a course of 
speculation quite consistent with the full re- 
cognition of nature's rights, and the share due 
to her in the history and progress of man. 

Regarded in an historical point of view, 


man was created free — there lay two paths before 
him — he had to choose between the one, con- 
ducting to the realms above, and the other, lead- 
ing to the regions below ;— and thus at least he 
was endowed with the faculty of two different 
wills. Had he remained steadfast in his first 
will — that pure emanation of the deity — had he 
remained true to the word which God had com- 
municated to him — he would have had but one 
will. He would, however, have still been free ; 
but his freedom would have resembled that of 
the heavenly spirits, whom we must not imagine 

to be devoid of freedom because they are no 
longer in a state of trial, and can never be 
separated from God. We should, besides, great- 
ly err, if we figured to ourselves the Paradisaic 
state of the first man as one of happy indolence ; 
for, in truth, it was far otherwise designed, and 
it is clearly and expressly said that our first 
parent was placed in the garden of the earth to 
guard and to cultivate it. " To guard," because 
an enemy was to be at hand, against whom it 
behoved to watch and to contend. ** To culti- 
vate," possibly in a very different manner, yet 
still with labour, though, doubtless, a labour 
blessed with far richer and more abundant re- 
compense than afterwards when, on man's ac- 
count, the earth was charged with maledic- 

This first divine law of nature, if we may so 
speak, by virtue of which labour and struggle 


became from the begimiing the destiny of man, 
has retained its full force through all succeeding 
ages, and is applicable alike to every class, 
and every nation, to each individual as well as to 
mankind in general, to the most important, as to 
the most insignificant, relations of society. He 
who weakly shrinks from the struggle, who will 
offer no resistance, who will endure no labour 
nor fatigue, can neither fulfil his own vocation, 
whatever it be, nor contribute aught to the gene- 
ral welfare of mankind. — Bui since man hath 
been the prey of discord, two different wills have 
contended within him for the mastery — a divine 
and a natural will. Even his freedom is no 
longer that happy freedcon of celestial peace — 
the freedom of one who hath conquered and 
triumphed— but a freedom, as we now see it — the 
freedom of undetermined choice — of arduous, 
still undecided, struggle. To return to the divine 
will, or the one conformable to God — to restore 
harmony between the natural and the divine will, 
and to convert and transform more and more the 
lower, earthly and natural will into the higher, 
and divine one, is the great task of mankind in 
general, as of each individual in particular. And 
this return — this restoration — this transforma- 
tion — all the endeavours after such — the progress 
or retrogressions in this path — constitute an 
essential part of universal history, so far as this 
embraces the moral development and intellectual 
march of humanity. — But the fact that man, 


SO soon as he loses the internal sheet-anchor of 
truth and life — so soon as he abandons the 
eternal law of divine ordinance, falls immedi- 
ately under the dominion of nature, and becomes 
her bondsman, each individual may learn from 
his own interior, his own experience, and a survey 
of life ; since the violent, disorderly might of 
passion herself is only a blind power of nature 
acting within us. Although this fact is histo- 
rical, and indeed the first of all historical 
facts, yet as it belongs to all mankind, and 
recurs in each individual, it may be regarded 
as a psychological fact and phenomenon of hu- 
man consciousness. And on this very account 
it does not precisely fall within the limits of 
history, and it precedes all history ; but all the 
consequences or possible consequences of this 
fact, all the consequences that have really 
occurred, are within the essential province of 

The next consequence which, after this in- 
ternal discord had broken out in the conscious- 
ness and life of man, flowed from the develope- 
ment of this principle, was the division of the 
single race of man into a plurality of nations, 
and the consequent diversity of languages. As 
long as the internal harmony of the soul was 
undisturbed and unbroken, and the light of the 
mind unclouded by sin, language could be 
nought else than the simple and beautiful copy 
or expression of internal serenity ; and conse- 


quently there could be but one speech. But 
after the internal word, which had been com- 
municated by God to man, had become ob- 
scured ; after man's connection with his Creator 
had been broken ; even outward language ne- 
cessarily fell into disorder and confusion« The 
simple and divine truth was overlaid with va- 
rious and sensual fictions, buried under illusive 
symbols, and at last perverted into a horrible 
phantom. Even Nature, that, like a clear mirror 
of God's creation^ had originally lain revealed 
and transparent to the unclouded eye of man, be- 
came now more and more unintelligible, strange 
and fearfiil; once fallen away from his God, 
man fell more and more into a state of internal 
conflict and confusion. — ^Thus there sprang up 
a multitude of languages^ alien one from the 
other, and varying with every climate, in pro- 
portion as mankind became morally disunited, 
geographically divided and dispersed, and even 
distinguished by an organic diversity of form ; — 
for when man had once fallen under the power 
and dominion of nature, his physical conforma- 
tion changed with every climate. As a plant 
or animal indigenous to Africa or America has a 
totally difierent form and constitution in Asia, 
so it is with man; and the races of mankind 
form so many specific variations of the same 
kind, from the negro to the copper-coloured 
American and the savage islander of the south 
sea. — ^The expression r€u:es, however, applied to 


man, involves something abhorrent from his 
high uplifted spirit, and debasing to its native 
dignity. — This diversity of races among men 
no one ought to exaggerate in a manner so as 
to raise doubts as to the identity of their origin, 
for, according to a general organic law, which 
indeed is allowed to hold good in the natural 
history of animals, races capable of a prolific 
union must be considered of the same origin, 
and as constituting the same speces.^-Even 
the apparent chaos of different languages may 
be classed into kindred families, which though 
separated by the distance of half the globe,, 
seem still very closely allied. Of these different 
families of tongues, the first and most eminent 
are those which by their internal beauty, and 
by the noble spirit breathing through them and 
apparent in their whole construction, denote for 
the most part a higher origin and divine in- 
spiration ; and, much as all these languages differ 
from each other, they appear, after all, to be 
merely branches of one common stem. 

The American tribes appeared indeed to be 
singularly strange, and to stand at a fearful 
distance from the rest of mankind ; yet the Eu- 
ropean writer* most deeply conversant with 
those nations and their languages has found in 
their traditions and tongues, and even in their 
manners and customs, many positive and incon- 

♦ Schlegel alludes to Alexander Von Humboldt. — Trans. 


testable points of analogy with eastern Asia and 
its inhabitants. ^ '' ^ 

When man had once fallen from virtue, no 
determinable limit could be assigned to his de- 
gradation ; nor how far he might descend by 
degrees, and approximate even to the level of 
the brute ; for, as from his origin he was a being 
essentially free, he was in consequence capable 
of change, and even in his organic powers most 

We must adopt this principle as the only 
clue to guide us in our enquiries, from the negro 
who, as well from his bodily strength and agility 
as from his docile and in general excellent cha- 
racter, is far from occupying the lowest grade 
in the scale of humanity, down to the monstrous 
Patagonian, the almost imbecile Peshwerais, 
and the horrible cannibal of New Zealand, 
whose very portrait excites a shudder in the 
beholder. How, even in the midst of civiliza- 
tion, man may degenerate into the savage state ; 
to what a pitch of moral degradation he may 
descend, those can attest who have had oppor- 
tunities of investigating more closely the cri- 
minal history of great culprits, and even, at some 
periods, the history of whole nations. In fact, 
every revolution is a transient period of bar- 
barism, in which man, while he displays par- 
tial examples of the most heroic virtue and 
generous self-devotion, is often half a savage. 
Nay, a war conducted with great animosity and 


protracted to extremities, may easily degene- 
rate into such a state of savage ferocity : lience 
it is the highest glory of truly civilized nations 
to repress andsubdue by the sentiment of honour, 
by a system of severe discipline, and by a ge- 
nerous code of warfare, respected alike by all 
belligerent parties, that tendency and proneness 
to cruelty and barbarity inherent in man. 

Among the different tribes of savages, there 
are many indeed that appear to be of a cha- 
racter incomparably better and more noble than 
those above mentioned ; yet, after the first ever 
so favourable impression, a closer investigation 
will almost always discover in them very bad 
traits of character and manners. — So far from 
seeking with Rousseau and his disciples for the 
true origin of mankind, and the proper founda- 
tion of the social compact, in the condition even 
of the best and noblest savages ; and so little 
disposed are we to remodel society upon this 
boasted ideal of a pretended state of nature, that 
we regard it, on the contrary, as a state of de- 
generacy and degradation. Thus in his origin, 
and by nature, man is no savage : — he may in- 
deed at any time and in any place, and even at 
the present day, become one easily and rapidly, 
but in general, not by a sudden fall, but by a 
slow and gradual declension ; and we the more 
willingly adopt this view as there are many histo- 
rical grounds of probability that, in the origin of 
mankind, this second fall of man was not im- 



mediate and total, but slow and gradual, and 
that consequently all those tribes which we call 
savage are of the same origin with the noblest 
and most civilized nations, and have only by 
degrees descended to their present state of 
brutish degradation. 

Even the division of the human race into a 
plurality of nations, and the chaotic diversity of 
human tongues, appear, from historical tradition, 
to have become general and complete only at a 
more advanced period; for, in the beginning, 
mention is made but of one separation of man- 
kind into two races or hostile classes. I use 
the general expression historical tradition ; for 
the brief and almost enigmatical, but very 
significant and pregnant, words, in which the 
first great outward discord, or conflict of .man- 
kind in primitive history, is represented in the 
Mosaic narrative, are corroborated in a very 
remarkable degree by the Sagas of other nations, 
among which I may instance in particular those 
of the Greeks and the Indians. Although this 
primitive conflict, or opposition among men, is 
represented in these traditions under various 
local colours, and not without some admixture 
of poetical embellishment, yet this circumstance 
serves only for the better confirmation of the 
fundamental truth, if we separate the essential 
matter from the adventitious details. Before 
I attempt to place in a clearer light this first 
great historical event, which indeed constitutes 


the main subject of all primitive history, by 
showing tlie strong concurrence of the many 
and various authorities attesting it ; it may be 
proper to call your attention to a third funda- 
mental canon of historical criticism, which in- 
deed requires no lengthened demonstration, and 
is merely this, that in all enquiries, particularly 
into ancient and primitive history, we must not 
reject as impossible or improbable whatever 
strikes us at first as strange or marvellous. For 
it often happens that a closer investigation and 
a deeper knowledge of a subject proves those 
things precisely to be true, which at the first 
view or impression, appeared to us as the most 
singular ; while on the other hand, if we persist 
in estimating truth and probability by the sole 
standard of objects vulgar and familiar to our* 
selves ; and if we will apply this exclusive stan- 
dard to a world and to ages so totally different, 
and so widely remote from our own, we shall 
be certainly led into the most violent, and most 
erroneous hypotheses. 

In entering on this subject we must observe 
that, in the Mosaic account, primitive and, what 
we call, universal history, does not properly 
commence with the first man, his creation or 
ulterior destiny, but with Cain — the fratricide 
and curse of Cain. The preceding part of the 
sacred narrative regards, if we may so speak, 
only the private life of Adam, which however 



will always retain a deep significacy for all the 
descendants of the first progenitor. 

The origin of discord in man, and the trans- 
mission of that mischief to all ages and all 
generations, is indeed the first historical fact ; 
but on account of its universality, it forms, at 
the same time, as I have before observed, a 
psychological phenomenon ; and while, in this 
first section of sacred history, everything points 
and refers to the mysteries of religion ; the fra- 
tricide of Cain on the other hand, and the flight 
of that restless criminal to Eastern Asia, are 
the first events and circumstances which pro- 
perly belong to the province of history. In this 
account we see first the foundation of the most 
ancient city, by which undoubtedly we inust un- 
derstand a great, or at least an old and celebrated 
city of Eastern Asia ; and secondly, the origin 
of various hereditary^classes, trades and arts ; 
especially of those connected with the first 
knowledge and use of metals, and which doubt- 

) less hold the first place in the history of human 
arts and discoveries. 

The music, which is attributed to those pri- 
mitive ages, consisted probably rather in a 

/ medicinal or even magical use of that art, than 
in the beautiful system of later melody. Among 
the various works and instruments of smith- 
craft, and productions of art which the know- 
ledge of mines and metals led to, the momentous 
discovery of the sword is particularly mention- 


ed : by the brief enigmatic words which relate 
this discovery, it is difficult to know whether 
we are to understand them as the expression of 
a spirit of warlike enthusiasm, or of a renewed 
curse and dire wailing over all the succeeding 
centuries of hereditary murder, and progres- 
sive evil, under the divine permission. In all 
probability, these words refer to the origin of ^ 
human sacrifices, emanating as they did from 
an infernal design, which we must consider as / 
one Q£jhe_ strongest characteristics of this race; \ 
and those bloody sacrifices of the primitive 
world seem to have stamped on the rites and , 
customs, as well as on the traditions and senti- 
ments, of many nations a peculiar character of 
gloom and Sadness. From this race were de- 
scended not only the inhabitants of cities, but 
nomade tribes, whereof many led, several thou- l 
sand years ago, the same wandering life which 
they follow at the present day in the central 
parts of Eastern Asia; where vast remains of 
primitive mining operations are frequently > 

It is worthy of remark that, among one of /. 
these nations, the Ishudes, who inhabit a metallic ^ 
mountain, we find, if we may so speak, an in- 
verted history of Cain ; mention is made of the 
enmity between the first two brothers of man- 
kind, but all the circumstances are set forth in 
a party-spirit favourable to Cain, It is said that 
the elder brother acquired wealth by gold and 


silver mines, but that the younger, becoming 
envious, drove him away, and forced him to take 
refuge in the East.* 

So is the race of Cain and Cain's sons repre- 
sented from its origin, as one attached to the 
/ arts, versed in the use of inetals, disinclined to 
\ peace, and addicted to habits gf jwarfare and 
violence, as again at a later period, it appears 
in scripture as a haughty and wicked race of 
^--Ori the other hand the peaceful race of 
_^ Patriarchs who lived in a docile reverence of 
God and with a holy simplicity of manners, were 
descended from Seth. This second progenitor 
of mankind occupies a very prominent place 
even in the traditions of oüier nations, which 
make particular mention of the columns of Seth, 
signifying no doubt, in the language of remote 
antiquity, very ancient monuments, and, as it 
were, the stony records of sacred tradition. In 
general the first ten holy Progenitors or Patri- 
archs of the primitive world are mentioned 
under difierent names in the Sagas, not only of 
the Indians, but of several other Asiatic nations, 
though undoubtedly with important variations, 
and not without much poetical colouring. But 
as in these traditions we can clearly discern the 
same general traits of history, this diversity of 

* See Ritter 's Geography, 1st part, page 548, — 1st Edition 
in German. 


representation serves only to corroborate the 
main truth, and to illustrate it more fully and 
forcibly- The views, therefore, of those modern 
theologians, who represent the concurrent testi- 
mony of Gentile nations to the truths of primitive 
history as derived solely from the Mosaic nar- 
rative, and as it were transcribed from a genuine 
copy of our Bible, are equally narrow-minded 
and erroneous. 

It would be more just and more consonant 
with the whole spirit of the primitive world, to 
assert, what indeed may be conceded with little 
difficulty^ that these nations had received much 
from the primeval source of sacred tradition; 
but they regarded as a peculiar possession, and 
represented under peculiar forms, the common 
blessings of primitive revelation ; and, instead of 
preserving in their integrity and purity the 
traditions and oracles of the primitive world, 
they overlaid them with poetical ornament, so 
that their whole traditions wear a fabulous 
aspect, until a nearer and more patient investi- 
gation clearly discovers in them the main fea- 
tures of historic truth. 

Under these two different forms, therefore 
doth Tradition reveal to us the primitive world, 
or in other words, these are the two^^and con- 
ditiojis of humanity which fill the records of 
primiGve history. On the one hand, we see 
a race, lovers of peace, revering God, blessed 
with long life which they spend in patriarchal 


simplicity and innocence, and still no strangers 
to deeper science, especially in all that relates 
to sacred tradition and inward contemplation, 
and transmitting their science to posterity in 
the old or symbolical writing, not in fragile 
volumes, but on durable monuments of^ stone. 
On the other hand, we behold ^ giant race of 
pretended demi-gods, proud, wickeTand violent, 
or, as they are called in the later Sagas of the 
heroic times, the heaven-storming Titans. 

^ , This opposition, and this discord, — this hos- 

tile struggle between the two great divisions of 
the human race, forms the whole tenour of 
primitive history. When the moral harmony of 
man had once been deranged, and two opposite 

. , wills had sprung up within him, a diyinewill 
or a will seeking God, and a natural will or a 

/ . will bent on sensible objects, passionate and 
ambitious, it is easy to conceive how mankind 
from their very origin must have diverged into 
two opposite paths. 

Although this primitive division of mankind 
is now characterized as a difference of races^ 
this is far from being merely the case; and 
that opposition which distracted the primitive 
world had far deeper causes than the mere 
distinction of a noble and a meaner race of men. 
It is somewhat in this manner a German scholar 
of the last generation, divided all nations now 
existing, or which have appeared within the 
later historical ages, into two classes ; wherever 


he imagined he found his favourite Celts and 
their descendants, he had not words strong 
enough to extol their romantic heroism ; while 
he pursued with the most pitiless animosity, over 
the whole face of the earth, the unfortunate 
Mcmguls and all those he deduced from that 
stock. The struggle which divided the primitive 
world into two great parties arose far more from 
the opposition of feelings, and of principles, than 
from difference of extraction. Great as is the 
interval which separates those ages and that 
world from our own, we can easily comprehend 
how this first mighty contest of nations, which 
history makes mention of, was in fact a struggle 
between two religious parties — two hostile sects, 
though indeed under far other forms, and in 
different relations from anything we witness in 
the present state of the world. It was, in one 
word, a contest between religion and impiety, 
conducted however on the mighty scale of the 
primitive world, and with all those gigantic 
powers which, according to ancient tradition, 
the first men possessed.* 

* We must not suppose that the impiety of the Cainites was 
of a dogmat ic kind. How could those primitive men, living so 
near the Fountain-head of revelation, conversing with those who 
had witnessed the rise and first development of man's marvellous 
history, endowed with that quick, intuitive science which, in the 
operations of external nature, revealed to them the agency of 
invisible spirits, witnessing the wondrous manifestations of God s 
love and power, the active ministry of his messengers of light ; 



The Greek Sagas represent this two-fold 
state of mankind in the primitive ante-historical 
ages in a very peculiar manner, as the gradual 
decline and corruption of successive genera- 
tions ; of this kind is the tradition of the ages 
of the world, whereof four or five are numbered. 
The Golden age of human felicity and the brazen 
age of all-ruling violence form die two essential 
terms of this tradition ; and the intermediate 
ages are mere links, or points of transition to 
render the account more complete. 

In the age of Saturn, the first race allied to 
the Gods lived in peace and happiness, and 

and, lastly, engaged themselves in a close communication with 
the infernal powers ; how could they, I say, fall into atheism or 
any other species of speculative unbelief? Their impiety was of 
a more pract ical nature, displaying itself in a daring violation of 
the precepts of Heaven, and in the practice of a dark, mysterious 
magic. By the allurements of sens e, and the fascination of their 
false science, they by degrees inveigled the great mass of man- 
kind into their errors. Their vast powers, supported and 
strengthened by infernal agency, were calculated to introduce 
disorder and confusion in the economy of the moral and physical 
universe, and to let loose on this probationary world the science 
of the abyss. What do I say ? The barrier between the visible 
and invisible world would have been broken down-^Hell would 
have ruled the earth, had not the Almighty by an awful judg- 
ment buried the guilty race of men and their infernal knowledge 
in the waters of the Deluge. In the race of Cham, however, 
which perpetuated so many traditions of Uie early Cainites, some 
fragments of this ante-diluvian science of evil were preserved ; 
and traces of it may still be discerned among the worshippers of 
Siva in India. — Trans, 


were blessed with eternal youth; the earth 
poured forth her fruits and gifts in spontaneous 
abundance, and even the end of human life was 
not a real or painful death, but a gentle slumber 
into another and higher world of immortal spi- 
rits. But the next generation in the age of 
Silver is represented as wicked, devoid of reve- 
rence for the Gods, and giving loose to every 
turbulent passion. In the Brazen age this state 
of crime and disorder reached its highest pitch ; 
lordly violence was the characteristic of the 
rude and gigantic Titans. Their arms were of 
eopper and their instruments and utensils of 
brass, and even, in the construction of their 
edifices, they made use of copper ; for as the 
old poet says, " black iron was not then known ;" 
a circumstance which we must consider as 
strictly historical and as characteristic of the 
primitive nations» Between this and the follow- 
ing age, the better heroic race of poetical and 
even historic tradition is somewhat strangely 
introduced ; and the whole series of generations 
is closed by the Iron age, the present and last 
period of the world — the term of man's progres- 
sive degeneracy. 

This idea of a gradual and deeper degrada- 
tion of human kind in each succeeding age ap- 
pears at first sight not to accord very well with 
the testimony which sacred tradition furnishes 
on man's primitive state ; for it represents the 
two races of the primitive world as cotemporary ; 


and indeed Sfilh, the progenitor of the better 
and nobler race of virtuous Patriarchs, was 
much younger than Cain. However, this con- 
tradiction is only apparent, if we reflect that it 
was the wicked and violent race which drew 
the other into its disorders, and that it was 
from this contamination a giant corruption 
sprang, which continually increased till, with a 
trifling exception, it pervaded the whole mass of 
mankind, and till the justice of God required 
the extirpation of degenerate humanity by one 
universal Flood. 

In the Indian Sagas, the two races of the 
primitive world are represented in a state of 
continual or perpetually renewed warfare: — 
wicked nations of giants attack one or other 
of the two Brahmiiiical races that descend from 
the virtuous Patriarchs ; generous and divinely 
inspired heroes come to their assistance, and 
achieve many wonderful victories over these 
formidable foes. Such is the chief subject of all 
the great epic poems, and most ancient heroic 
Sagas of the Indians. In conformity to their 
present modes of thinking, and to their present 
constitution of society, they describe that fierce 
race of giants as a degraded caste of warriors ; 
and they even give that denomination to many 
nations well known in later history, such as the 
^ Chinese, who bear the same name with them as 
with ourselves ; the Pahlavas, who were a tribe 
of the ancient Medes and Persians, correspond- 


ing to one of the two sacred languages of ancient 
Persia — the Pahlavi — and the lonians or Yava- 
nas according to the Asiatic denomination of the 
primitive Greeks. It may even be a matter of 
doubt, whether a regular caste of warriors, and 
an hereditary priesthood, according to the very 
ancient system of the hereditary division of 
classes, did not exist in the primitive world. 
However great may be the chronological con- 
fusion evinced in these poems and Sagas, how- 
ever much, perhaps, of later history may have 
been interwoven into their ancient narratives, 
and however much of poetical embellishment 
and gigantic hyperbole the whole may have 
received, the leading features of historic truth 
may still be distinguished with certainty in the 
chequered tablet of tradition. For the hostility 
of two rival races in the primitive world, con- 
sidered in itself, and independently of adventi* 
tious circumstances, must be looked upon as a 
positive and well authenticated fact. It might 
perhaps be proved before the tribunal of the 
severest historical criticism that poetry, that 
is to say, primitive historic tradition clothed 
with the ornaments of poetry — is often much 
nearer the truth in its representations of the pri- 
mitive world than a dull Reason, that draws its 
estimate of probability from mere vulgar analo- 
gies, and which sees or affects to see every 
where only stupid and brutish savages. 

A circumstance which we must never lose 




sight of in this inquiry is that man did not 
suffer an immediate and entire loss of those 
^ high powers with which he had been endowed 
) at his origin ; but that the loss was gradual, and 
that for a long time yet he retained much of 
those powers, and that it was indeed the fearful 
abuse of those faculties in his last stage of de- 
generacy which produced that enormous licen- 
tiousness and wickedness spoken of in Holy 
Writ. And this is the real clue to the whole 
purport of primitive history, and to all that ap- 
pears to us in it so full of enigma. This leading 
subject of primitive history — the struggle be- 
tween two races, as it is the first great event in 
universal history, is also of the utmost import- 
ance in the investigation of the subsequent pro- 
gress of nations ; for this original contest and 
opposition among men, according to the two-fold 
direction of the will, a will conformable to that 
of God, and a will carnal, ambitious, and en- 
slaved to Nature, often recurs, though on a 
lesser scale, in later history f or at least we can 
perceive something like a feeble reflection or 
a distant echo of this primal discord. And 
even at the present period, which is certainly 
much nearer to the last than to the first ages 
of the world, it would appear sometimes as if 
humanity were again destined, as at its origin, 
to be more and more separated into two parties, 
or two hostile divisions. And as the greatest of 
German philosophers, Leibnitz^ admirably ob- 


served that the ^ect of atheism would be the last 
in Christendom and in the world; so it is highly 
probable that this sect was the last in the pri- 
mitive world, though stamped with the peculiar 
form which society at that period must have 
given to it, and on a scale of more gigantic 

On this important subject we have another 
observation to make, which refers more properly 
to an incidental circumstance in primitive his- 
tory; for our great business is with the moral 
and intellectual progress of man. But even in 
respect to this more important object, the cir- 
cumstance which we allude to should not be 
passed over in silence, as it tends to exemplify, 
illustrate and confirm the principle we have 
already had occasion to enforce; namely that 
we ought not to estimate by the narrow stand- 
ard of present analogies and vulgar probabili- 
ties, all those facts in primitive nature and in 
primitive history which strike us as so strange, 
mysterious, and marvellous ; provided they be 
really attested by ancient monuments and an- 
cient tradition. We should ever bear in mind 
what a mighty wall of separation — what an 
impassable abyss — divides us from that remote 
world both of nature and of man. I refer to the 
unanimous testimony of ancient tradition re- 
specting the gigantic forms of the first men, and 
their corresponding longevity, far exceeding, as 
it did, the^present ordinary standard of the 

CL, -^ 


duration of human life. With respect to the 
latter circumstance, indeed, there are so very 
many causes contributing to shorten consider- 
ably the length of human life, that we have 
completely lost every criterion by which to 
estimate its original duration; and it would 
be no slight problem for a profound physiolo- 
gical science to discover and explain from a 
deeper investigation of the internal constitution 
of the earth, or of astronomical influences, which 
are often susceptible of very minute applica- 
cations, the primary cause of human longevity. 
By a simpler course of life and diet than the very 
artificial, unnatural and over-refined modes we 
follow, there are even at the present day nu- 
merous examples of a longevity far beyond the 
ordinary duration of human life. In India it is 
by no means uncommon to meet with men, es- 
pecially in the Brahminical caste, more than 
a hundred years of age, and in the enjoyment 
of a robust, and even generative vigour of consti- 
tution. In the labouring class in Russia, whose 
mode of living is so simple, there are examples 
of men living to more than a hundred, a hun- 
dred and twenty, and even a hundred and fifty 
years of age ; and although these instances form 
but rare exceptions, they are less uncommon 
there than in other European countries. There 
are even remarkable cases of old men, who after 
the entire loss of their teeth, have gained a com- 
plete new set as if their constitution had re- 

HISTORY. . 05 

ceived a new sap of life, and a principle of 
second growth. What, in the present physical 
degeneracy of mankind, forms but a rare ex- 
ception, may originally have been the ordinary 
measure of the duration of human life, or at least 
may afford us some trace and indication of such 
a measure ; more especially as other branches of 
natural science offer correspondent analogies. 
On the other side of that great wall of separa- 
tion which divides us from the primitive ages— ^ 
in that remote world so little known to us, a 
standard for the duration of human life very diflFe- 
rent from the present may have prevailed ; and 
such an opinion is extremely probable, support- 
ed as it is by manifold testimony, and confirmed 
by the sacred record of man's divine origin. 

In order better to understand and judge 
more correctly of the biblical number of years 
in human life, we ought never to overlook the 
very religious purport of the symbolical relation 
of numbers in the divine chronology. We should 
thus ever keep ourselves in readiness, as, ac- 
cording to the expression of Holy Writ, the 
hairs on a man's head are numbered — and how 
much more so the years of his life ! — and as 
nothing here must be considered fortuitous, but 
all things as predetermined and regulated ac- 
cording to the views of Providence. Again, as 
the Scripture often mentions that, in the hidden 
decrees of his mercy, the Almighty hath gra- 
ciously been pleased to shorten the duration of 
a determined space of time : — as, for example, a 

VOL. I. F 


course of irreverftible suffering — or on the other 
hand, hath added a certain number of years to 
a determined period of grace, or prolonged the 
duration of a man's life ; it behoves us to exa- 
mine which of these two courses of divine favour 
be in any proposed case discoverable. In the 
extreme longevity of the holy Patriarchs of the 
primitive world — a longevity which as has 
been long proved and acknowledged, must be 
understood with reference only to the common 
astronomical years, the latter course of the di- 
vine goodness is discernible, and human life in 
those ages must be regarded as miraculously 
and supernaturally prolonged.* In the duration 

* Noah affords another striking example of a wonderful 
prolongation or delay of time. The first nine Patriarchs of the 
primitive world propagated their race at the mean or average 
term of the hundredth year of their lives : — dome near that period — 
others considerably earlier — and others again much later. But in 
the case of Noah we find that, to the mean term of a hundred 
years, four hundred were yet added ; and that the Patriarch was 
five hundred years of age when he propagated his race. The 
high motive of this evidently supernatural delay may be traced 
to the fact that, although during this long prophetic period of 
preparation, the holy Seer well foresaw and felt firmly assured of 
the judgments impending over a degenerate and corrupt world, 
it was not equally clear to him that he was destined by God to be 
the second progenitor of mankind, and the renovator of the 
human race. But that great doom of the world, already foretold 
by Enoch, Noah probably expected to be its last end ; and hence 
perhaps might consider the propagation of his race as not alto- 
gether conformable to the divine will, till the hidden decrees of 
the Eternal were more fully and more clearly revealed to him. 


of £iit)oh*s life, that holy prophet of the primi- 
tive world, whose translation was no death, but 
which, as the exit originally designed for man, 
should on that account be considered natural, 
the coincidence with the astronomical number 
of days in the sun's course round the earth is 
the more striking, as in the number of 365 years 
the number 33 is comprised as the root — a 
number which, in every respect and in the most / 
various application, is discovered to be the pri- ( 
mary number of the earth. For, with the slight 
difference of an unit, the number of 365 years 
corresponds to the sum of 333, with the addition 
of 33 ; but the number of days strictly com- 
prised in those 365 years amounts to four times 
33,000, with the addition of four times 330 

With r^ard to the gigantic stature attributed 
to the primitive race of men, by the authentic 
testimony of universal tradition ; — a testimony 
which it is easy to distinguish from mere poeti- 
cal embellishment or exaggeration — it is sin- 
gular that those who are otherwise so disposed 
to apply the analogies of nature to the human 
species, should in this instance at least hold up 
the now ordinary scale of human bulk as the 
only standard of probability and certainty. The 
remains, more than once alluded to, of that pri- 
nodtive world which has perished, show that 
of the elephant, rhinoceros, and hippopotamus, 
the largest of all existing animals, there were 




originally from twenty to thirty different tribes 
and species which are now extinct. Of the 
mammoth, that gigantic animal of antiquity, 
remains of which are found not only in Siberia 
and America, but in the different counties of 
Europe, near Paris, and even in this immediate 
neighbourhood, a great number of variousspecies 
have been also proved to have existed from the 
investigation of these antediluvian remains. 
Even of animals more familiar to us, bones and 
other remains have been discovered of a very 
unusual and truly gigantic size. Bulls' horns 
fastened together by a front-bone — antlers of 
stags, and elephants' tusks have been found, 
which prove those animals to have been of a di- 
mension three, four, and even five times greater 
than they usually are at present. If in this 
elder period of organic nature, and of an animal 
kingdom which has become extinct, this gigan- 
tic style was so very prevalent, is it not rea- 
sonable to infer a similar analogy in the human 
species, so far at least as relates to their phy- 
sical conformation, especially when this ana- 
logy is unanimously attested by the primitive 
Sagas and traditions of all nations ? 

As regards our sacred writings, I must ob- 
serve that they tacitly imply and indeed pretty 
clearly attest the superior stature as well as 
great longevity of the first men; while, on the 
other hand, they represent the really gigantic 
structure of body as an organic degradation 


and degeneracy, originating in the illicit union 
of the two primitive races — the Cainites and the 
Sethites — an union which was the source of 
universal corruption— as the all-destroying de- 
luge was a mighty judgment brought about by 
the pride and wickedness of those giants, and 
was indeed against these principally directed. — 
Even at a l^ter period, the Scripture speaks of 
some nations of giants, that, prior to the intro- 
duction of the Israelites into the promised land, 
occupied several of its provinces, such as Moab, 
Ammon, Bashan, and the country about the 
primitive city of giants— Hebron. These tribes 
are represented as celebrated for valour indeed, 
yet as inclined solely to warfare, wild, and"^ 
wicked; and even the individual giants, that 
appear in the age of Moses and in the history of 
David, are described as peculiarly monstrous 
from their great corporal deformity. The only 
savage tribe now existing, (as far as our present 
knowledge of the globe can enable us to speak,) 
possessed of a very unconunon, enormous and 
almost gigantic stature — the Patagonians of \ 
America, are at the same time noted for their 
personal deformity. With them it is the upper 
part of the body that is of such a dispropor- 
tionate length, for when seen on horseback they 
appear to be real giants, and hence they were 
so accounted at first. When on a closer in- 
spection we see the whole length of their bodies 
in the attitude either of standing or of walking, 


we perceive indeed they are of the very extra- 
ordinary height of from seven to eight feet, but 
not of that gigantic stature which the first im- 
pression led us to suppose, and which may 
so naturally have given rise to exaggerated 

After all this, and what has been above sta- 
ted, I need say no more than frankly declare 
that, as to these two points, the extraordinary 
longevity and gigantic stature of the first men, — 
I never could have the courage to raise a formal 
doubt against the plain declaration of Holy 
Writ, and the general testimony of primitive 
tradition. The fiill explanation, the more correct 
conception, and the perfect comprehension of 
these two facts are perhaps reserved for a later 
period, and the investigations of a deeper phy- 
sical science. 

There exist also monuments, or rather frag- 
ments of edifices, of the most primitive anti- 
quity, which, as they are connected with the 
subject under discussion, are here deserving of 
a slight notice. I allude to those Cyclopean 
walls, which are to be found in several parts of 
Italy, and which those who have once seen 
will not easily forget, nor the singular stamp 
of antiquity they bear. In this very peculiar 
architecture, we see, instead of the stones of the 

usual cubical or oblong form, huge fragments 
of rock rudely cut into the shape of an irregular 

polygon, and skilfully enough joined together. 


Even the great, and often admired, subterra- 
neous aqueduct, or Cloaca of ancient Rome is 
considered as belonging to this cyclopean ar- 
chitecture, remains of which exist also near 
Argos and in several other parts of Greece. 
These edifices were certainly not built ^hy the 
celebrated nations that at a later period ^loccu- 
pied those countries ; for even they regarded them 
as the work and production of a primitive and 
departed race of giants ; and hence the name 
which these monuments received. When we 
consider how very imperfect must have been 
the instruments of those remote ages, and that 
they cannot be supposed to have possessed that 
knowledge in mechanics which the Egyptians, 
for instance, display in the erection of their 
obelisks ; we can easily conceive how men were 
led to imagine that more vigorous arms and 
other powers, than those belonging to the present 
race of men, were necessary to the construction 
of those edifices of rock. 

Thus have we now endeavoured to explain, as 
far as was necessary for our purpose, the origin 
of that dissension, which is inherent in human 
nature, and forms the basis of all history. We 
have in the next place sought to unfold and illus- 
trate the universal tradition, which attest» the 
hostility between the virtuous Patriarch» and 
llie proud Titans of the primitive world, or the 
different and opposite spirit that characterized 
the two primitive raceä of mankind ; assigning, 



at the same time, to savage nations, or to the 
more degraded portions of human kind, their 
proper place in history — a place important un- 
doubtedly, but still secondary in the great 
scheme of humanity. 

These facts, too important to be passed 
over in silence, form the introduction and are, 
as it were, the porch to universal history, and 
to the civilization of the human species in the 
later historical ages. Now that we have seen 
mankind divided and split into a plurality of 
nations, our next task, in the period which fol- 
lows, is to discover the most remarkable and 
most civilized nations, and to observe what 
peculiar form the Word, whether innate in man, 
or communicated to him — the word which may 
be considered as the essence of all the high 
prerogatives and characteristic qualities of man ; 
to observe, we say, what peculiar form the word 
assumed among each of those nations, in their 
language and writing, in their religious tradi- 
tions, their historical Sagas, their poetry, art, 
and science. In the account of ancient nations, 
we shall adopt the ethnographical mode of treat- 
ing history ; and it will be only in modern and 
more recent times that this method will gra- 
dually give place to the synchronical ; and the 
reasons of this change will be suggested by the 

very nature of the subject. In this general sur- 
vey, we must confine ourselves to those mighty 
and celebrated nations who have attained 


to a high degree of intellectual excellence ; 
and we shall select and briefly state remarkable 
traits or extraordinary historical facts illustra- 
tive of the manners, social institutions, political 
refinement, and even political history of every 
nation, worthy of occupying a place in this 
sketch, in order the better to mark the progress 
of the intellectual principle in the peculiar cul- 
ture and modes of thinking of each. It is only 
at a later period that political history becomes 
the main object of attention, and almost the 
leading principle in the progressive march, and 
even the partial retrogressions of mankind. 

In this general picture of the earliest de- 
velopment of the human mind, we can select 
such nations only as are sufiiciently well known, 
or respecting whom the sources of information 
are now at least of easier access ; for were we 
to comprehend in this general survey, nations 
with whom we were less perfectly acquainted, 
we should be led into minute and interminable 
researches, without, after all, perhaps, obtaining 
any new or satisfactory result for the principal 
object in view. In the first period of antiquity 
will figure the Chinese, the Indians and the 
Egyptians, besides the isolated, and the so- 
called chosen people of the Hebrews ; and if I 
commence by the remotest of the civilized coun- 
tries of Asia, China, I beg leave to premise that 
I mean to determine no question of priority as 
to the respective antiquity of those nations, or to 


adjudge any preference to one or other amongst 
them. Indeed their own chronological accounts 
and pretensions, which often deserve the name 
of chronological fictions, turn out, on a closer 
inquiry, to be mere calculations of astronomical 
periods ; and a sound historical criticism will 
not admit that they were originally meant to be 
chronological. Suffice it to say that the three 
nations we have mentioned belonged to the same 
period of the world, and attained to an equals 
or a very similar, degree of moral and intellec- 
tual refinement ; and so in respect to that higher 
object, the chronological dispute becomes un- 
necessary, or is, at least, of minor importance. 
Among those, however, who take an active part 
in these researches, a partiality for one or other 
of these nations, and for their respective anti- 
quity e$isily springs up; for even objects the 
most remote will excite in the human breast the 
spirit of party. In order to keep as free as 
possible from prepossessions of this kind, I have 
adopted a species of geographical division of 
my subject, which, when I come to treat later of 
the different periods of modern history, will give 
place to a more chronological arrangement. I 
said a species of geographical division, for un- 
doubtedly from the special nature of this histo- 
rical enquiry, it must be supposed I shall take 
a different point of view in the geographical 
survey of the earth than ordinarily occurs in 
geographical investigations. The geographies 


for common use properly take as their basis the 
present situation of the different states and 
kingdoms now in existence. But a more scien- 
tific geography adopts the direction of moun- 
tains, and the course of rivers, the vallies pro- 
duced by the former, and the space occupied 
by the waters of the latter, as the leading clue 
to the division and arrangement of the earth. 
Thus in the philosophy of history the series of 
the principal civilized states will form a high, 
commanding chain ; and the philosophic histo- 
rian will have to follow from east to west, or in 
any other direction that history may point out, 
not merely rivers transporting articles of com- 
merce, but the mighty stream of traditions and 
doctrines which has traversed and fertilized the 

As the individuals who can be termed histo- 
rical, form but rare exceptions among mankind, 
so in the whole circumference of the globe, there 
are only a certain number of nations that occupy 
an important and really historical place in the 
annals of civilization. By far the greater part 
of the inhabited or habitable globe, however 
rich and ample a field it may offer to the inves- 
tigations of the naturalist, cannot be included 
in this class, or has not attained to this degree 
of eminence. In the whole continent of Africa 
there is, besides Egypt, only the northern coast 
stretching along the Mediterranean, that is at 
all connected with the history and intellectual 

/^ M •^^ 


progress of the civilized world. The other coasts 
of Africa, including its southernmost cape, fur- 
nish points of importance to commerce, naviga- 
tion, and even some attempts at colonization ; 
while the interior parts of this continent, still so 
little known, possess much to excite the atten- 
tion and wonder of the naturalist ; but beyond 
this, its maritime as well as central regions, 
cannot be said to occupy a place in the intel- 
lectual history, or in the moral progress, of our 
species. It is only since it has formed a pro- 
vince of the Russian empire that the vast ter- 
ritory of Northern Asia has become known to 
us, and has been, as it were, newly discovered. 
From central and eastern Asia, from the south 
of Tartary and the north of China, many mighty 
and conquering nations have issued, that have 
spread the terror of their arms over the face of 
civilization, as far as the frontiers of Europe. 

But, in the march and development of the 
human mind, these nations are far from occupy- 
ing the same eminent station. In this respect, 
also, the fifth continent of the globe, Polynesia 
— though nearly equal to Europe in extent, 
counts as nought. Even America, the largest 
of those continents, occupies here a compara- 
tively subordinate rank ; and it is only in latter 
ages, and since its discovery, that it can be said 
to belong to history. Since that period, indeed, 
the inhabitants of this portion of the world have 
adopted, for the most part, the language, the 


manners, the modes of thinking, and the poli- 
tical Institutions of Europe ; for the still sub- 
sisting remnant of its ancient savages is very 
inconsiderable: so that America may be re- 
garded as a remote dependency, and, as it were, 
a continuation of old Europe on the other side 
of the Atlantic. Great as the re-action may be, 
which this second Europe, sprung up in the 
solitudes of the new world, has during the last 
fifty years exerted on its mother-continent, still 
as this influence forms a part but of very recent 
history, it is only in very modern times that 
America has obtained any historical weight and 

Even in its natural configuration, the new 
world is more widely different from the old, 
than the principal parts of the latter are from 
each other. As in comparing the Northern 
extremity of the earth with its Southern or 
aqueous extremity, we observe a striking dispa- 
rity, and almost complete opposition between 
the two ; so we shall find this to be the case, if, 
in advancing in the opposite direction from 
east to west, we divide the whole surface of 
the earth into two equal parts. On one hand 
that more important division of the earth, ex- 
tending from the Western coast of Africa to the 
Eastern coast of Asia, comprises the three 
ancient continents, which, from the upper to the 
middle part, occupy almost the whole space of 
this half of the globe. Here is the greatest 


quantity of land,, and the animal kingdom, too, 
IS on a more large and magnificent scale. It is 
only at the Southern extremity of this hemis- 
phere that sea and water are predominant; 
and here a continuous chain of islands from the 
southernmost point of Asia reaches to the fifth 
and last portion of the globe — Australia, making 
it a sort of Asiatic dependency. In the Ame- 
rican hemisphere, the element of water is pre- 
dominant, not only at the Southern extremity, 
but towards the middle ; for, large as America 
may be, it can bear no comparison with the 
other continents in respect to extent of surface. 
Our hemisphere is more remarkable even for 
extent of population than for the quantity of 
land. Here indeed is the chief seat of popula- 
tion, and the principal theatre of human history 
and human civilization. 

The entire population of America, which, as 
it is for the most part of European extraction, 
is better known to us than that of many coun- 
tries more contiguous — the entire population of 
America at the highest computation of the 
whole number of inhabitants on the globe, forms 
but a thirtieth part, and at the lowest computa- 
tion, not a four-and-twentieth part of the whole. 
Widely extended as this thinly peopled con- 
tinent is, the whole number of its inhabitants 
scarcely exceeds the population of a single 
great European state, such as either France or 
Germany, whose population, indeed, it about 


equals. Vegetation, indeed, is most rich and 
luxuriant in America ; but the two most gene- 
rous plants reared by human culture, and which 
are so closely connected with the primitive 
history of man — corn and the vine — were origi- 
nally unknown in this quarter of the world. In 
the animal kingdom, America is far inferior to 
the other and more ancient continents of the 
globe. Many of the noblest and most beautiful 
species of animals did not exist there originally ; 
and others again were found most unseemly in 
form, and most degenerate in nature. Some 
species of animals indigenous to that continent 
form but a feeble compensation for the absence 
of others, the most useful and most necessary 
for the purposes of husbandry and the domestic 
uses of man. We may boldly lay it down as a 
general proposition not to be taxed with error 
or exaggeration, that in the new hemisphere, 
vegetation is predominant, while in the old, 
animal force preponderates, and is more fully 
developed. This superiority is apparent not 
only in the comparative extent of population, 
but in the organic structure of the human form. 
Even the African tribes are far superior in 
bodily strength and agility to the aboriginal 
natives of America ; and in point of longevity 
and fecundity, the latter are not to 5e compared 
with the Malayan race, and the Mongul tribes 
in the central or North-eastern parts of Asia, 
and in Southern Tartary, races with whom, in 


other respects, they seem to bear some analogy. 
As the American continent, in other respects 
80 incomplete, is mostly separated from all the 
others ; and its form is more simple and less 
complex than that of the ancient divisions of 
the globe, it well deserves our consideration in 
that point of view ; and it may perhaps furnish 
the general type and true geographical outline 
of a continent in its natural state. A narrow 
isthmus connects the upper half, stretching in a 
widely extended tract towards the North Pole, 
and the inferior part, with its Southern peak ; 
and thus both form, according to general im- 
pression but one and the same continent ; and 
so prove, in fact, how totally the Northern and 
Southern parts of a continent may differ. That 
now in the period when the Euxine was still 
united to the Caspian, when the White sea 
stretched farther into land, and the Ural moun- 
tains formed an island, or were surrounded to 
the North and South by the sea, Asia and 
Europe were probably separated towards the 
North, is a point to which we have already had 
occasion to allude. But if, on the one hand, 
Europe were separated from Asia, it might on 
the other have been easily joined to Africa by 
an isthmus, where it is now divided from it by 
a straight, and so have formed with it one con- 
nected continent ; in the same way as Australia 
is united with Asia, if at least we consider the 
long chain of islands between them as one un- 


broken continuity. Then in truth there would 
have been but three continents of a form similar 
to the above-mentioned one of America ; except 
that the two nobler continents closely entangled 
with one another would not on that account 
have so well preserved the original conforma- 
tion. That it is on the whole more correct, and 
more consonant with nature, as well as with 
theory, to suppose the existence of only three 
original portions of the globe, might be shown 
by much additional evidence. 

But, laying aside these geological facts and 
observations, ideas and conjectures, the philo- 
Sophie historian can reckon over the whole 
surface of the globe but fifteen historical and 
important civilized countries of greater or less 
extent, which can form the subject, and furnish 
the geographical outline of his remarks. This 
historical chain of lands, or this stream of his- 
torical nations from the south-east of Asia to 
the Northern and Western extremities of Eu- 
rope, forms a tract, through both continents, 
which though of considerable breadth, is not, 
in proportion to the extent of these continents, 
of very gr^at magnitude, and which may be 
divided into three classes, coinciding chronolo- 
gically in their several periods of historical 
glory and development with the great eras or 
sections of universal history from the primitive 
ages down to the present times. In the first 
class of these mighty and celebrated civilized 

VOL. I. o 


countries, I would place the three great magni- 
ficent regions in Eastern and Soutliern Asia, 
China, India, between which the ancient Bac- 
triana forms a point of transition and connect- 
ing link — and lastly Persia. In a more westerly 
and somewhat more northerly direction than 
the three countries just named, the second or 
middle class is composed of four or five regions 
remarkable for extent and beauty, and above 
all for their historical importance and celebrity. 
First of all, there is that middle country of 
Western Asia above-mentioned, which is situate 
near two great streams — the Tigris and the 
Euphrates, and bounded by four inland seas^ 
the Persian and Arabian gulfs, and the Caspian 
and Mediterranean seas. Upon this midland 
country of ancient history, in every respect so 
worthy of notice, I have but one observation to 
add, that in this great series of civilized coun- 
tries it occupies nearly the middle place ; for 
the Southern extremity of India is about as far 
removed from it as, in the opposite direction, 
the North of Scotland. And the Eastern part 
of China is not much more distant from this 
region than in the opposite quarter the Western 
coast of the Hesperian Peninsula. Next must 
be included in this class the circumjacent coun- 
tries, Arabia, Egypt, and Asia Minor, together 
with the Caucasian regions. 

As in the flourishing period of her ancient 
history, Greece was in every way far more 


closely connected with Asia Minor, Phoenicia, 
and Egypt, than with the countries of Europe, 
she also must be comprised in this division of 
Central Asia. On the other hand, there is no 
country in Europe which, considered in itself, 
bears so strongly the distinctive geographical 
configuration peculiar to the European conti- 
nent. This peculiar configuration of Europe, 
so well adapted to the purposes of settlement, 
and to the progress of civilization, consists in 
this — that in no other continent does the same 
given space of territory present to the sea so 
extensive and diversified a line of coast, and 
furnish it with so many streams, great and 
small, as Europe shut in, as it is, between two 
inland seas, and the great ocean, and which 
runs out into so many great and commodiously 
situated Peninsulas, and possesses large, magni- 
ficent, and, in part, very anciently and highly 
civilized islands, like Sicily and the British 
Isles. What Europe is in a large way, Greece 
is in a small — a region of coasts, islands and 
peninsulas. Belonging more to one continent 
in its natural conformation, and to the other by 
its historical connexion, Greece forms the point 
of transition and the intermediate link between 
Asia and Europe. 

The other six or seven principal countries in 
Europe, taken according to a strict geographical 
classification, and without paying attention to the 
political variations of territory, whether in anti- 

G 2 


quity, the middle ages, or modern times, form 
the members of the third class. These are first 
the two beautiful peninsulas, Italy and Spain ; 
next France on the North and South washed by 
two different seas, and towards the North, jut- 
ting out into a by no means inconsiderable pe- 
ninsula — further on, the British isles, the ancient 
Germany with its Northern coast stretching 
along two seas, to which must be annexed from 
the ancient consanguinity of their inhabitants, 
the Cimbric and Scandinavian islands and pe- 
ninsulas ; lastly, the vast Sarmatia, towards the 
North and East extending far into Asia, in the 
wide tract from the Euxine to the Frozen sea. 
From Sarmatia, however, must be separated, on 
account of their natural situation, the great 
Danubian countries, extending from the South 
of the Carpathian mountains, down to the other 
mountainous chain northward of Greece — such 
as the ancient Illyricum, Pannonia and Dacia 
— regions which, in a strict geographical point 
of view, must be regarded as forming a distinct 
class. In an historical point of view, the whole 
Northern coast of Africa, stretching along the 
Mediterranean, should be included in this divi- 
sion of European countries, not only from that 
early commercial and colonial connexion, esta- 
blished in the time of the Carthaginian republic, 
and in the first period of the Roman wars and 
conquests; but from the prevalence in that 
country, down to the fourth and fifth centuries. 


of European manners, language and refinement. 
Even during the existence of the Saracenic 
empire, a very close intercourse subsisted for 
many centuries between this coast and Spain. 

Such, according to a general geographical 
survey of the globe, would be the historical 
land-chart of civilization, if I may so express 
myself, which forms the grand outline I must 
steadily keep in view, in the following sketch of 
nations, in which I will endeavour to explain 
with the utmost clearness and precision, and 
point out closely in all its particular bearings, 
the principle laid down in this work respecting 
the internal Word, as the essential characteristic 
of man. 



Of the constitution of the Chinese Empire— the moral and 
political condition of China — the character of Chinese in- 
tellect and Chinese science. 

" Man and the earth," — this has been the subject 
of our previous disquisitions, and might serve as 
the superscription to this first portion of the 
work. In the second part, comprised in the 
four or five following lectures, the subject dis- 
cussed is sacred Tradition, according to the 
peculiar form which it assumed among each of 
the great and most remarkable nations in pri- 
mitive antiquity, and as it is known from the 
visible and universally scattered traces of a 
divine Revelation. It will be our duty to trace, 
with a discriminating eye, the various course 
which, in the lapse of ages, this sacred tradition 
followed among each of those nations ; and at 
the same time to point out, as far as the subject 


will admit of historical proof, the one common 
source whence, as from a centre, issued those 
different streams of tradition to difluse through- 
out all the regions of the earth fertility and life, 
or to be lost and dried up in the sterile sands of 
human error. It will be also our task more 
accurately to define the share allotted to each 
of those leading nations in divine truth, or the 
heritage of higher knowledge which had been 
imparted to them. Closely connected with this 
subject, is the designation of the internal Word, 
constituting as it does the distinguishing mark 
and intellectual being of man and mankind ; 
and which, as it has been variously manifested 
and developed in the language, writings. Sagas, 
history, art and science — in the faith, the life 
and modes of thinking of each of those nations, 
will be described in its most essential traits. 

I shall commence with the Chinese Empire, 
because, among the fifteen historical countries 
included in the line of civilization we have 
drawn above, it occupies the extreme point of 
Eastern Asia. The names of East and West are 
indeed purely relative ; and have not the same 
permanent and definite signification as the North 
or South pole in every portion of the globe 
China lies to the west of Peru; and to North 
America, or Brazil, Europe forms the east or 
north-east point We still however adhere to 
common speech, purely relative as it is, and take 
our point of view from this Asiatic and Euro- 


pean hemisphere, in which we dwell. If we 
would extend in a westerly direction and to 
the great continent of America, which is more 
and more assuming an important place in the 
history of the world, that series of great and 
civilized states, stretching from the south-east 
to the north-west in our mightier, more cele- 
brated, and earlier civilized hemisphere, we 
might add to the before-mentioned fifteen an- 
cient and modern countries three young or 
rising states in the new world, which, springing 
in a three-fold division from British, Spanish, 
and Portuguese extraction, would constitute the 
most recent, or last historical links in this chain 
of communities. 

The Chinese empire is the largest of all the 
Monarchies now existing on the earth, and even 
in this respect may well challenge the attention 
of the historical enquirer. This empire is not 
absolutely the greatest in territorial extent, 
though even in this respect it is scarcely in- 
ferior to the greatest ; but in point of population 
it is in all probability the first. Spain, if we could 
now include in the number of her possessions 
her American colonies, would exceed all em- 
pires in extent. The same may be said of 
Russia, with her annexed colonies, and bound- 
less provinces in the north of Asia. But, 
great as the population of this Tlmpire may 
be, when considered in itself and relatively to 
the other European states, it can sustain no 


comparison with that of China. England with 
the East Indies and her colonial possessions in 
the three divisions of the globe, Polynesia, 
Africa, and America, has indeed a very wide 
extent, and, perhaps, when we include the 
hundred and ten millions that own her sway 
in India, comes the nearest in point of popuia- 
lation to China. Of the amount of the Chinese 
population, which is not with certainty known, 
that of India may furnish a criterion for a con- 
jectural and probable estimate. The British 
ambassador, Lord Macartney received an official 
document, in which the whole population of 
China was computed at the monstrous amount 
of 330 millions. Even if the Chinese possessed 
those exact statistical estimates we have in 
Europe, it would still be a matter of doubt how 
far in such cases we could confide in their vera- 
city, especially in their relations with foreigners 
and Europeans. In another and somewhat ear- 
lier statistical work, composed towards the close 
of the 1 8th century, the population of this em- 
pire is estimated at 147 millions ; and the very 
incredible statement is added, that a hundred 
and fifty years before, or about the middle 
of the 17th century, the Chinese population 
amounted only to 27 millions and a half. This 
rapid rise, or rather this prodigious stride 
in the numbers of a people, would be in utter 
opposition to all principles and observations on 
the growth and progressive increase of popula- 


tion, even iu the most civilized countries. Thus 
even the statistical estimates of the Chinese 
furnish us with no certain information on this 
subject. However as this vast region is every 
where intersected by navigable rivers and ca- 
nals, every where studded with large and highly 
populous cities, and enjoys a climate as genial, 
or even still more genial, and certainly far more 
salubrious than that of India; as, like the latter 
country, it every where presents to the eye the 
richest culture, and is in all appearance as 
much peopled, or over-peopled, we may take 
India, whose total population is not near in- 
cluded in the 110 millions under British rule, as 
furnishing a pretty accurate standard for the 
computation of the Chinese population. Now, 
when we reflect that even the proper China is 
larger than the whole western peninsula of India, 
and that the vast countries dependent on China, 
such as Thibet and southern Tartary are very 
populous, the conjectural calculation of the 
English writer, from whom I have taken these 
critical remarks on the early estimates of Chi- 
nese population, and who reckons it at 150 
millions, may be regarded as a very mode- 
rate computation, and may with perfect safe- 
ty, be considerably raised. Thus then the 
Chinese population is nearly as large as the 
whole population of Europe, and constitutes, 
if not a fourth, at least a fifth, of the total po- 
pulation of the globe. 


I permit myself to indulge in cursory com- 
parisons of this kind, and for the reason that 
the history of civilization, which forms the basis, 
and as it were the outward body, of the phi- 
losophy of history, which should be the inner 
and higher sense of the whole, is deeply in- 
terested in all that refers to the general condi- 
tion of humanity. And such an interest, which 
does not of itself lie in mere statistical calcula- 
tions, but in the outward condition of mankind, 
as the symbol of its inward state, may very 
well attach to comparisons of this nature. 

The interest, however, which the philoso- 
phic historian should take in all that relates 
to humanity in general, and to the various 
nations of the earth, ought not to be regulated 
by the false standard of an indiscriminate equa- 
lity, that would consider all nations of equal 
importance, and pay equal attention to all with- 
out distinction. This would indeed betray an 
indifference to, or at least ignorance of, the 
higher principle implanted in the human breast. 
But this interest should be measured not merely 
by the degree of population in a state, or by 
geographical extent of territory, or by exter- 
nal power, but by population, territory and 
power combined — by moral worth and intellec- 
tual pre-eminence, by the scale of civilization to 
which the nation has attained. The Tongoosses, 
though a very widely diffused race, the Cal- 
mucks, though, compared with the other na- 


tions of central Asia, they have much to claim 
our attention, cannot certainly excite equal 
interest, or hold as high a place in the history 
of human civilization, as the Greeks or the 
Egyptians ; though the territory of Egypt itself 
is certainly not particularly large, nor accord- 
ing to our customary standard of population, 
were its inhabitants in all probability ever very 
numerous. In the same way, the Empire of 
the Moguls, which embraced China itself, has 
not the same high interest and importance in 
our eyes as the Roman Empire either in its 
rise or in its fall. Writers on universal history 
have not however always avoided this fault, 
and have been too much disposed to place all 
nations on the same historical footing, — on the 
false level of an indiscriminate equality ; and to 
regard humanity in a mere physical point of 
view, and according to the natural classifica- 
tion of tribes and races. In these sketches 
of history, the high and the noble is often 
ranked with the low and the vulgar, and neither 
what is truly great, nor what is of lesser im- 
portance, (for this, too, should not be overlooked) 
has its due place in these portraits of man- 

A numerous, or even excessive population is 
undoubtedly an essential element of political 
power in a state ; but it is not the only, nor in 
any respect, the principal symptom or indica- 
tion of the civilization of a country. It is only 


in regard to civilization that the population of 
China deserves our consideration. Although in 
these latter times, when Europe by her political 
ascendency over the other parts of the world 
has proved the high pre-eminence of her arts 
and civilization; England and Russia have 
become the immediate neighbours of China to- 
wards the north and west ; still these territorial 
relations affect not the rest of Europe ; and 
China» when we leave out of consideration its 
very important commerce, cannot certainly be 
accounted a political power in the general sys- 
tem. Even in ancient, as well as in modem 
times, China never figured in the history of 
Western Asia or Europe, and had no connection 
whatever with their inhabitants ; but this great 
country has ever stood apart, like a world 
within itself, in the remote, unknown Eastern 
Asia. Hence the earlier writers on universal 
history have taken little or no notice of this 
great Empire, shut out as it was from the con- 
fined horizon of their views. And this was 
natural, when we consider that the conquests 
and expeditions of the Asiatic nations were 
considered by these writers as subjects of the 
greatest weight and importance. No conque- 
rors have ever marched from China into West- 
ern Asia, like Xerxes, for instance, who passed 
from the interior of Persia to Athens ; or Alex- 
ander the Great, who extended his victorious 
march from his small paternal province of 


M acedon, to beyond the Indus, and almost to 
the borders of the Ganges, though the latter 
river, he was in despite of all his efforts, un- 
able to reach. But the great victorious expe- 
ditions have proceeded not from China, but from 
central Asia, and the nations of Tartary, who 
have invaded China itself; though in these 
invasions the manners, mind, and civilization of 
the Chinese have evinced their power, as their 
Tartar conquerors, in the earliest as in the latest 
times, have after a few generations, invariably 
conformed to the manners and civilization of the 
conquered nation, and become more or less 

Not only the great population and flourish- 
ing agriculture of this fruitful country, but the 
cultivation of ^silk, for which it has been cele- 
brated from all antiquity; the culture of the 
tea-plant, which forms such an important arti- 
cle of European trade ; as well as the knowledge 
of several most useful medicinal productions of 
nature ; and unique and, in their way, excel- 
lent products of industry and manufacture ; 
prove the very high degree of civilization which 
this people has attained to. ^nd how should 
not that people be entitled to a high or one of 
the highest places among civilized nations, which 
had known, many centuries before Europe, 
the art of printing, gun-powder, and the mag- 
net — those three so highly celebrated and va- 
luable discoveries of European skill ? Instead of 


the regular art of printing with transposeable 
letters, which would not suit the Chinese system 
of writing» this people make use of a species of 
lithography, which, to all essential purposes is 
the same, and attended with the same effects. 
Gunpowder serves in China, as it did in Europe 
in the infancy of the discovery, rather for amuse- 
ment and for fire-works, than for the more se- 
rious purpose of warlike fortification and con- 
quest : and though this people are acquainted 
with the magnetic needle, they have never made 
a like extended application of its powers, and 
never employ it either in a confined river and 
coasting navigation, or on the wide ocean, on 
which they never venture. 

The Chinese are remarkable too for the utmost 
polish and refinement of manners, and even for 
a fastidious urbanity and a love of stately cere- 
monial. In many respects indeed their politeness 
and refinement almost equal those of European 
nations, or at least are very superior to what we 
usually designate by the term of oriental man- 
ners — a term which in our sense can apply only 
to the more contiguous Mahometan countries of 
the Levant. Of this assertion we may find a 
sufficient proof in any single tale that pourtrays 
the present Chinese life and manners^ in the 
novel, for instance, translated by M. Remusat.* 
In their present manners and fashions, how- 


• Entitled Ju-Kiao-li, or the Cousins. 


ever, there are many things utterly at variance 
with European taste and feelings ; I need only 
mention the custom of the dignitaries, functi- 
onaries, and men of letters, letting their nails 
grow to the length of birds' claws, and that other 
custom in women of rank, of compressing their 
feet to a most artificial diminutiveness. Both 
customs, according to the recent account of a 
very intelligent Englishman, serve to mark and 
distinguish the upper class ; for the former ren- 
ders the men totally incapable of hard or ma- 
nual labour, and the latter impedes the women 
of rank in walking, or at least gives them a 
mincing gait, and a languid, delicate and in- 
teresting air. These minute traits of manners 
should not be overlooked in the general sketch 
of this nation, for they perfectly correspond to 
many other characteristic marks and indica- 
tions of unnatural stiffness, childish vanity, and 
exaggerated refinement, which we meet with in 
the more important province of its intellectuaL 
exertions. Even in the basis of all intellectual 
culture, the language, or rather the writing of 
the Chinese, this character of refinement pushed 
beyond all bounds and all conception is vi- 
sible, while on the other hand it is coupled 
with great intellectual poverty and jejuneness. 
In a language where there are not much 
more than three hundred, not near four hun- 
dred, and (according to the most recent critical 
investigation,) only 272 monosyllabic primitive 


roots without any kind of grammar ; where the 
not merely various but utterly unconnected 
significations of one and the same word are 
marked in the first place by a varying mo- 
dulation of the voice, according to a fourfold 
method of accentuation ; in the next place, 
and chiefly by the written characters, which 
amount to the prodigious number of eighty 
thousand ; while the Egyptian hieroglyphs do 
not exceed the number^ of eight hundred ; and 
this Chinese system of writing is the most arti- 
ficial in the whole world. An inference which is 
not invalidated by the fact that, out of that great 
number of all actual or possible written cha- 
racters, but a fourth part perhaps is really in 
use, and a still less portion is necessary to be 
learned. As the meaning, especially of more 
complex notions and abstract ideas can be fully 
fixed and accurately determined only by such 
artificial ciphers; the language is far more 
dependent on these written characters than on 
living sound ; for one and the same sound may 
often be designated by 160 difierent characters, 
and have as many significations. It not rarely 
occurs that Chinese, when they do not very well 
understai^d each other in conversation, have 
recourse to writing, and by copying down these 
ciphers are enabled to divine each other's 
meaning, and become mutually intelligible. To 
comprehend rightly this immeasurable chaos of 
originally symbolic, but now merely conventional 

VOL. I. H 



signs — in other words, to be able to read and 
write, though this science involyes great and 
difficult problems even for the most practised, 
constitutes the real subject and purport of the 
scientific education of a Chinese. Indeed it 
furnishes labour sufficient to fill up the life of 
man, for even the European scholars, who have 
engaged in this study, find it a matter of no 
small difficulty to devise a system whereby a 
dictionary, or rather a systematic catalogue of 
all these written characters may be composed, 
to serve as a fit guide on this ocean of Chinese 
signs. — But we shall have again occasion to recur 
to this subject ; and indeed it is only in connexion 
with the peculiar bearings of the Chinese mind 
this writing system can be properly explained 
and understood in its true meaning, or rather its 
meaningless construction and elaborateness. 

Of the external civilization of China, we have 
a striking proof and a standing monument in the 
construction of so many canals that intersect the 
whole country, and in every thing connected 
therewith. As the extraordinary fertility of the 
soil is produced by the many rivers of greater 
or less magnitude that intersect the country, 
but which at the same time threaten the flat 
plains with inundation, it is the first object 
and most important care of government, to avert 
the danger of such inundations, to distribute 
the fertilizing waters in equal abundance over 
the whole country, and thus by means of canals, 


to maintain in all parts the communication by 
water which is at the same time of equal be- 
nefit and importance to industry and internal 
commerce. In no civilized state are establish- 
ments of this kind so extensively diffused and • 
brought to so high a state of perfection as in 
China. The great imperial canal which ex- 
tends to the length of 120 geographical leagues, 
has, it is said, no parallel on the earth. Although 
the construction of canals, and all the regula- 
tions on water-carriage could have attained by 
degrees only to their present state of perfection, 
still this alone would prove the very early at- 
tention which this people had bestowed on the 
arts of civilized life. Mention is often made of 
them in the old Chinese histories and imperial 
annals ; and the canals of China, like the Nile 
in Egypt, were ever the objects of most anxious 
solicitude to the government. These annals, 
whenever they have occasion to speak of those 
great inundations and destructive floods, which 
are of such frequent occurrence in Chinese 
history, invariably represent the attention be- 
stowed on water-courses and water-r^ulations, 
as the most certain mark of a wise^ benevolent, 
and provident administration. On the other 
hand the neglect of this most important of ad- 
ministrative concerns is ever regarded as the 
proof of a wicked, reckless and unfortunate reign ; 
and in these histories some great calamity, or 
even violent catastrophe, is sure to follow, like 



a Stroke of divine vengeance, on this unpardon- 
able neglect of duty. Together with the im- 
perial canal, the great Chinese wall, which ex- 
tends on the Northern frontier of China proper, 
to the length of 150 geographical leagues, is 
another no less important, and still standing 
monument of the comparatively high civiliza- 
tion which this country had very early attained. 
Such is the height and thickness of this wall, 
that it has been calculated that its cubic con- 
tents exceed all the mass of stone employed in 
all the buildings in England and Scotland; 
or again that the same materials would serve to 
construct a wall of ordinary height and mo- 
derate thickness round the whole earth. This 
great wall of China may be considered as a 
characteristic, and as it were a symbol of the 
seqlusive spirit and aversion to every thing 
foreign in person, manners and modes of think- 
ing which distinguish the Chinese state. This 
spirit, however has been as little able as the 
great wall itself, to defend China against foreign 
conquests, or even against the introduction of 
foreign sects. This wall, which was built about 
two centuries before the Christian era, is a his- 
torical monument, which furnishes far stronger 
proof than all the dubious accounts of the 
old annals that even in ancient times, and 
long before the conquest of the M onguls, and 
the establishment of the present dynasty of 
Mantchou Tartars, the empire had been often 


conquered, or at least was constantly exposed 
to Äe invasions of the Tartar tribes of the 

The long succession of the different native 
dynasties of China, Tchin, Han, Tang, and 
Sung, down to the Monguls, which fills the dif- 
fuse annals of the empire, furnishes few im- 
portant data on the intellectual progress of the 
Chinese; and every thing of importance to 
the object of our present inquiries, that can be 
gathered out of the mass of political history, 
may be reduced to a very few plain facts. The 
English writer, whom we have already cited, 
though otherwise inclined to a certain degree of 
scepticism in his views, fixes the commencement 
of the historical ages of authentic history in the 
ancient dynasty of Chow, eleven hundred years 
before the Christian era. The first fact of im- 
portance, as regards the moral and intellectual 
civilization of China, is that this country was 
originally divided into many small principali- 
ties, and, under petty sovereigns, whose power 
was more limited, enjoyed a greater share of 
liberty ; and that it was formed into a great and 
absolute monarchy only two hundred years be- 
fore Christ. The general burning of the books, 
of which more particular mention will be pre- 
sently made, as well as the erection of the great 
wall, are attributed to the first general Emperor 
of all China, Chi-hoangti ; in whose reign, too, 
Japan became a Chinese colony, or received from 



China a political establishment. At a still later 
period, as in the fifth century of our era, and 
again at the time of the Mogul conquest under 
Zingis Khan, China was divided into two king- 
doms, a northern and a southern. But there is 
another fact already mentioned that throws still 
stronger light on tlie high civilization of China 
— it is that at every period, when this empire 
has been conquered by the Moguls and Tartars, 
the conquerors, overcome in their turn by the 
ascendancy of Chinese civilization, have, within 
a short time, invariably adopted the manners, 
laws, and even language of China, and thus its 
institutions have remained, on the whole, unal- 
tered. But here is a circumstance in Chinese 
history particularly worthy of our attention. In 
no state in the world do we see such an entire, 
absolute, and rigid monarchical unity as in that 
of China, especially under its ancient form; 
although this government is more limited by 
laws and manners, and is by no means of that 
arbitrary and despotic character~which we are 
wont to attribute to the more modern oriental 
states. In China, before the introduction of the 
Indian religion of Buddha, there was not even 
a distinct sacerdotal class — there is no nobility, 
no hereditary class with hereditary rights — edu- 
cation, and employment in the service of the 
state, form the only marks of distinction ; and 
the men of letters and government functionaries 
are blended together in the single class of Man- 



dar ins ; but the state is all in all. However, 
this absolute monarchical system has not con* 
duced to the peace, stability, and permanent 
prosperity of the state, for the whole history > 
of China, from beginning to end, displays 
one continued series of seditions, usurpations, > 
anarchy, changes of dynasty, and other violent 
revolutions and catastrophes. This is proved 
by the bare statement of facts, though the offi- 
cial language of the Imperial annals ever con- 
cedes the final triumph to the monarchical 

The same violent revolutions occurred in the 
department of science and of public doctrines, 
as in the instance already cited of the general 
burning of the books by order of the first gene- 
ral Emperor; when the men of letters, or at 
least a party of them, were persecuted, and four 
hundred and sixty followers of Confucius 
burnt. This act of tyranny undoubtedly sup- 
poses a very violent contest between factions — 
an important political struggle between hostile 
sects, and a mighty revolution in the intellec- 
tual world. At the same time, too, a favou- 
rite of this tyrannical prince introduced a new 
system of writing, which has led to the greatest 
confusion, even in subsequent ages. Snch an 
intellectual revolution is doubtless evident on 
the introduction of the Indian religion of^ 
Buddha, or Fo (according to the Chinese ap- 
pellation), which took place precisely three-and- 


thirty years after the foundation of Christianity. 
The conquest of China by the Moguls, under 
Zingis Khan, occurred at the same time that their 
expeditions towards the opposite quarter of 
Europe spread terror and desolation over Russia 
and Poland, as far as the confines of Silesia. 
This conquest produced a re-action, and a po- 
pular revolution, conducted by a common citi- 
zen of China, by name Chow, restored the 
Empire; this citizen afterwards ascended 
the throne, and became the founder of a new 
Chinese dynasty. The Emperors of the pre- 
sent dynasty of Mantchew Tartars, that has 
now governed China since the middle of the 
17th century, are distinguished for their attach- 
ment to the old customs and institutions of 
China, and even to its language and science ; 
and their elevation to the throne has given rise 
to many great scientific enterprises, and has 
been singularly favourable to the investigations 
of those European scholars whose object it is 
to make us better acquainted with China. But 
at the moment I am speaking, a great rebel- 
lion has broken out in the northern part of the 
kingdom, and in the opposite extremity the 
christians are exposed to a more than ordinary 

These few leading incidents in Chinese his- 
tory may suffice to make known the principal 
epochs in the intellectual pr(^ess and civiliza- 
tion of this people. As the constitution and 


development of the human mind are in each of 
those ancient nations closely connected with the 
nature of their language, and even sometimes 
(as in the case of the Chinese) with their system 
of writing, the language of the latter people, 
being on account of its amazing copiousness less 
fit for conversation than for writing, I shall now 
make a few remarks on the very artificial mode 
of Chinese writing, which is perfectly unique in 
its kind ; but I shall confine my observations 
to its general character, and shall forbear enter- 
ing into the vast labyrinth of the 80,000 cipher- 
signs of speech, and all the problems and diffi- 
culties which they involve. The Chinese writ- 
ing was undoubtedly in its origin symbolical; 
though the rude marks of those primitive sym- 
bols can now scarcely be discerned in the 
enigmatical abbreviations, and in the complex 
combinations of the characters at present in 
use. It is no slight problem even for the learned 
of China to reduce with any degree of certainty 
the boundless quantity of their written charac- 
ters to their simple elements and primitive 
roots; in this, however, they have succeeded, 
and have shown that all these elements are to 
be found in the 214 symbols, or keys of writing 
as they call them. The Chinese characters of 
the primitive ages comprise only such represen- 
tations indicated by a few rude strokes, of those 
first simple objects which surround man while 
living in the most simple state of society — such 



good rice. Another example of nearly the same 
kind is given by Remusat with something of 
shyness and reserve ; — the character designating 
woman, when doubled, signifies strife and con- 
tention, and when tripled, immoral and disorderly 
conduct. How widely removed are all these 
coarse and trivial combinations of ideas from an 
. exquisite sense — a deep symbolism of Nature — 
from those spiritual emblems in the Egyptian 
hieroglyphics, so far as they have been deci- 
phered; although these emblems may have 
been, and were in fact applied to the purpose of 
alphabetic usage. In the hieroglyphics there is, 
beside the bare literal meaning, a high symbo- 
lical inspiration, like a soul of life — like the 
breathing of a high in-dwelling spirit, — a deeply 
felt significancy — a lofty and beautiful design 
apparent through the dead character denoting 
any particular name or jact.* 

But independently of this boundless chaos 
of written-characters, the Chinese undoubtedly 
possess a system of scientific symbols, and 
symbolical signs, which constitute the purport 
of the most ancient of their sacred books — the 
I — King — which signifies the book of unity, or. 

* There are some exceptions to the truth of these remarks 
respecting Chinese symbols. For instance, the idea of " dis- 
persion" is expressed in the Chinese writing by the sign of a 
tower. What a beautiful and profound allusion to the great 
events of primitive history ! — Trans, 


as others explain it, the book of changes ; and 
either name will agree with the meaning of 
those symbols which, when rightly understood, 
and conceived in the spirit of early antiquity, 
will appear to be of a very remarkable and 
scientific nature. There are only two primary 
figures or lines, from which proceed originally 
the four symbols and the eight koua or combi 
nations representing nature, which form the 
basis of the high Chinese philosophy. These 
first two primary principles are a straight, un- 
broken line, and a line broken or divided into 
two. If these first simple elements are doubled : 
namely — two straight lines put under each 
other like our arithmetical sign of equation, and 
two broken or divided lines also put together, 
the different lines are formed. According as 
one broken line occupies the upper or the lower 
place, there are two possible variations — when 
put together, there are four possible variations ; 
and these constitute the four symbols. But if 
three lines of these two kinds, the straight and 
the broken, are united or placed under each 
other, so, according to the number or the upper, 
middle or lower place of either species of line, 
there are eight possible combinations, and these 
are the eight koua, which, together with the four 
symbols, refer to the natural elements, and to 
the primary principles of all things, and serve 
as the symbolical expression, or scientific desig- 
nation, of these. 


What is now the real sense and the proper 
signification of those scientific primary lines 
among the Chinese, which exert an influence 
over the whole of their ancient literature, and 
upon which they themselves have written an 
incredible number of learned commentaries? 
Leibnitz supposed them to contain a reference 
to the modern algebraical discoveries, and espe- 
cially to the binary calculation. Other writers, 
especially among the English, drawing their 
observations more firom real life, remark on the 
other hand, that this ancient system of mystical 
lines serves at present the purpose of a sort of 
oracular play of questions, like the turning up 
of cards among Europeans, and is converted 
to many superstitious uses, especially for mak- 
ing pretended discoveries in alchymy, to which 
the Chinese are very much addicted. But this 
is only an abuse of modern times, which no 
longer understand this primitive system of sym- 
bolical signs and lines. The high antiquity of 
these lines and of the eight koua can be the 
less a matter of doubt as even mythology has 
ascribed them to the primitive Patriarch of the 
Chinese — Fohi, who is represented as having 
espied these lines on the back of a tortoise, and 
having thence deduced the written characters ; 
which many of the learned Chinese wish to 
derive from these eight koua or combinations 
of the first symbolical lines. But the French 
scholar, whom I have more than once had occa- 


sion to name, and who is well able to form a 
competent opinion on the subject, is most de- 
cidedly opposed to this Chinese derivation of 
all the written characters from the eight koua ; 
and it would appear, indeed, that the latter 
differ totally from the common system of Chinese 
writing, and must be looked upon as of a dis- 
tinct scientific nature. 

Perhaps we may find a natural explanation 
of the true, and not very hidden sense of these 
signs, by comparing the fundamental doctrines 
in the elder Greek philosophy and science of 
nature. Thus, in the writings of Plato, mention 
is often made of the one and of the other, or of 
unity and duality, as the original elements of 
nature and first principles of all existence. By 
this is meant the doctrine of the first opposition 
and of the many oppositions derived from the 
first ; and also of the possible, and conceivable, 
or required adjustment and compromise between 
the two, and of the restoration of the first unity 
and eternal equality anterior to all opposition, 
and which terminates and absorbs in itself all 
discord. Thus these eight koua, and mathema- 
tical signs or symbolical lines of ancient China, 
would comprise nothing more than a dry outline 
of all dynamical speculation and science. And 
it is therefore quite consistent that the old 
sacred book which contains these principles of 
Chinese science should be termed either the 
book of unity, or the book of changes; for 


doubtless this title refers to the doctrine of an 
absolute unity, as the fundamental principle of 
all things, and to the doctrine of differences, or 
oppositions or changes springing out of that first 
unity. This doctrine of an opposition in all things, 
in thought as in nature — will become more ap- 
parent if we reflect on the new and brilliant dis- 
coveries in natural philosophy. For as in this 
science, the oxygen and hydrogen parts in the 
chemistry of metals, or the positive and negative 
end of electrical phenomena, in the attracting and 
repelling pole of magnetism, reveal such an op- 
position and dynamic play of 4iving powers in 
nature ; so in this philosophy of China, the ab- 
stract doctrine of this opposition and dynamical 
change of existence seems to be laid down with 
a sort of mathematical generality, as the basis 
of all future science. In our higher natural 
philosophy, indeed, all this has been proved 
from facts and experience; and, besides, this 
dynamic life forms but the one element, and the 
one branch of the science to be acquired ; and 
a philosophy founded entirely on this dynamical 
law of existence, without any regard to the 
other and higher principle of internal experience 
and moral life, intellectual intuition and divine 
revelation, would be at best a very partial sys- 
tem, and by no means of general application ; 
or if a general application of such a system were 
made, it must lead to endless mistakes, errors 
and contradictions. That such a system of 


dynamical speculation and science, if extended 
to objects where it cannot be corroborated by- 
facts — to all things divine and human, real, 
possible, or impossible, will undoubtedly lead to 
such a chaotic confusion of ideas ; we have had 
a memorable experience in the German '^ Phi- 
losophy of Nature" of the last generation;* 
a philosophy which consisted in a fanciful play 
of thought with Polarities^ and oppositions^ and 
points of indifference between them, but which 
has been long appreciated in its true worth 
and real nature, and consigned to its proper 

Thus this outline of the old Chinese symbols 
of thought, which have a purely metaphysical 
import, would lay before us the most recent error 
clothed in the most antique form — but the Chinese 
system is in itself very remarkable and import- 
ant. The ftindamental text of the old sacred book 
on this doctrine of unity and oppositions, and 
which may now be easily comprehended, runs 
thus, according to Remusat's literal translation : 
" The great first Principle has engendered or 

* The author alludes to Schelling's philosophy, ivhich is 
called sometimes the " Philosophy of Nature/' and sometimes 
the '' Philosophy of Identity. '* M. Cuvier in his masterly intro- 
duction to his great work on Fossile Remains, mentions some of 
the extravagant theories broached in the department of geology 
alone by those German naturalists, who some years ago attempted 
to apply to natural philosophy, the metaphysical system of 
Schelling. — TVans. 

VOL. 1. I 



■■■ ■■!' ■ 



produced two equations and differences, or pri- 
mary rules of existence ; but the two primary 
rules or two oppositions, namely Yu and Yang» 
or repose and motion (the affirmative and nega- 
tive as we might otherwise call them) have 
produced four signs or symbols ; and the four 
symbols have produced the eight koaa, or fur- 
ther combinations." These eight koua are kien 
or ether, kui or pure water, li or pure fire, tchin 
or thunder, Biun, the wind, kan, common water, 
ken, a mountain, and kuen, the earth. 

On Ulis ancient basis of Chinese philosophy, 
proceeding from indifference to differences, was 
afterwards founded the rationalist system of 
Lao-tseu, whose name occurs somewhat earlier 
than that of Confucius. The Taosse, or disciples 
of -Reason, as the followers of this philosopher 
entitle themselves, have very much degenerated, 
and hav^ become a complete atheistical sect ; 
though the guilt of this must be attributed^ not 
to the founder, but to his disciples only. It is 
however acknowledged that the atheistical prin- 
ciples of this dead science of reason, have been 
very widely diffused throughout the Chinese em- 
pire, and for a certain period were almost gene- 
rally prevalent. 

As it is necessary to keep in view a certain 
chronological order, in our investigations of the 
progressive development of Chinese intellect, I 
may here observe that, as far as European 
research has been able to ascertain, we may 


distinguish three principal and successive epochs 
in the history both of the religion and science 
of China. The first epoch is that of sacred 
tradition, and of the old constitution of the 
Chinese empire, and discloses tliose primitive 
views, and that primitive system of ethics, on 
which the empire was founded^ The second, 
which we may fix about six centuries before our 
era, is the period of scientific philosophy, that 
pursued two opposite paths of enquiry. Confu- 
cius applied his attention entirely to the more 
practical study of ethics, with which, indeed, the 
old constitution, history and sacred traditions 
of the Chinese were very intimately connected ; 
and the pure morality of Confucius which was 
the first branch of Chinese philosophy known 
in Europe, excited to a high degree the enthu- 
siasm of many European scholars, who, by their 
too exclusive admiration, were prevented from 
forming a right estimate of the general character 
of Chinese philosophy. 

Another system of philosophy, purely specu- 
lative and widely difTereiit from the practical 
and ethical doctrine of Confucius, was the sys- 
tem of Lao-tseu and his school, whence issued 
the above-mentioned rationalist sect of Taosse 
that has^at last fallen into atheism. As to the 
question whether Lao-tseu travelled into the 
remote West, or in case he came only as far as 
Western Asia^ whether he derived his system 
/rom the Persian or Egyptian doctrines or me- 





diately from the Greek philosophy — this ques- 
tion I shall not here stop to discuss ; for the 
matter is very doubtful in itself, and, were it 
even proved, still all the doctrines borrowed 
from the West were invested in a form purely 
Chinese, and clothed in quite a native garb. 
Those signs in the I — King, we have already 
spoken of, evidently comprise the germ of such 

/ an absolute, negative, and consequently atheistic 
rationalism — a mechanical play of idle abstrac- 

/ tions. The third epoch in the progress of 
Chinese opinions is formed by the introduction 
of the Indian religion of Buddha or of Fo. The 
great revolution which had previously occurred 
in the old doctrines and manners of China ; and 

/ the ruling spirit of that false and absolute rati- 
onalism, had already paved the way for the 
foreign religion of Buddha, which, of all the 
Pagan imitations of truth, occupies the lowest 

The old sacred traditions of the Chinese are 
not so overlaid, nor disfigured with fictions, as 
those of most other Asiatic nations ; those of the 
Indians, for example, and of the early nations of 
Ps^an Europe ; but their traditions breathe the 
purer spirit of genuine history. Hence the 
poetry of the Chinese is not mythological, like 
that of other nations; but is either lyrical, 
(as in the Shi — King, a book of sacred songs, 
composed or compiled by Confucius) ; or is en- 
tirely confined to the representation of real life, 


and of the social relations (as in the modern 
tales and novels, several of which have been 
translated into the European languages). 

The old traditions of the Chinese have many 
traits of a kindred character with, or at least of 
a strong resemblance to, the Mosaic revelation, 
and even to the sacred traditions of the nations 
of Western Asia, particularly the Persians ; 
and in these traditions we find much that either 
corroborates the testimony of Holy Writ, or at 
least affords matter for further comparison. We 
have before mentioned the very peculiar manner 
in which the Chinese speak of the great Flood, 
and how their first progenitors struggled against 
the savage waters, and how this task was after- 
wards neglected by bad or improvident rulers, 
who in consequence of this neglect were brought 
to ruin, 

I will cite but one instance, where the pa- 
rallel is indeed remarkable. In the I — King 
mention is made of the fallen dragon, or of the 
spirit of the (h*agon that, for his presumption ia 
wishing to ascend to heaven, was precipitated 
into the abyss ; and the words in which this 
event is described are precisely the same, or at 
least very similar to those which our Scriptures 
apply to the rebel angel, and the Persian books 
to Ahriman. However this dragon is whimsi- 
cally, we might almost say, artlessly, made the 
sacred symbol of the Chinese empire and Em- 
peror. The paternal power of the latter is 





' r 



understood in a much too absolute sense : not 
only is the Emperor styled the lord of heaven 
and earth, and even the son of God ; but his will 
it revered as the will of God, or rather com- 
pletely identified with it; and even the most 
determined eulogists of the Chinese constitution 
and manners cannot deny that the monarch is 
almost the object of a real worship. Christi- 
anity teaches that all power is from God ; but 
it does not thereby declare that all power is one 
and the same with God. Even a dominion over 
K nature and her powers Js ascribed to the Em- 
) peror of China, as the illustrious lord of heaven 
and earth. 

Moreover, no hereditary nobility, no classes 

"" separated by distinctions of birth, exist in thTs 
country, as in India. The Emperor, half iden- 
tified with the Deity, had alone the privilege in 

''' ancient times of offering on the sacred heights 
( the great sacrifice to God. Some European 
writers have, from this circumstance, conceived 
the Chinese constitution to be theocratic ; but 
if it be so, it is only in its outward form, or 
original mould; for it would be difficult to 

^ shew in it any trace of a true, vital theocracy. 
All that pomp of sacred ceremony anf re- 
ligious titles, so strangely abused, forms a 
striking contrast with real history, and with 
that long succession of profligate and unfortu- 
nate reigns and perpetual revolutions which fill 
most of the pages of the Chinese annals. We 


should err greatly yrere we to regard all these 
high imperial titles as the mere swell and ex- 
a^eration of Eastern phraseology. The Chi- 
nese speak of their celestial Empire of the ^, 
Medium, as they call their country, in terms 
which no European writer would apply to a 
Christian state, and such indeed as the Scrip- 
tures and religious authors use in reference ^^ 
only to the kingdom of God. They cannot con- 
ceive it possible for the earth to contain two 
emperors at one and the same time, and own 
the sway of more than one such absolute lord 
and master. Hence they look on every solemn 
foreign embassy as a debt of homage ; nor is 
this sentiment the idle effect of vanity, or 
fancy — it is a firm and settled belief, perfectly 
coinciding with the whole system of their re- 
ligious and political doctrines. This political 
idolatry of the state, which the Chinese identify 
witlT the emperor's person, is a pagan error : all 
excess, all exaggeration is sure to produce op- 
position and reaction, or a tendency thereto. 
Hence the pages of Chinese history present 
by the side of this high boasted ideal of ab- 
solute^ power, as a fearful concomitant, and : 
fitting comnaentary, one continuous series of 
political revolutions and catastrophes. Neither 
the pure morality of those ancient books re- 
vered by the Chinese as sacred, whatever be the 
morality of books in which the principle of ra- 
tionalism is so exclusively predominant ; nor all 


the high refinement of philosophic speculation 
in the scientific period of their history, have 
prevented this people from falling into the gross- 
est of idolatries, and adopting a foreign super- 
stition, which of all false religions is unques- 
tionably the most reprehensible. Some persona 
have sought to trace a certain resemblance to 
Christianity in this religion of Fo, partly on ac- 
count of some external institutions, and partly 
on account of the fundamental principle of the 
incarnation, equally perverted and misapplied 
in this superstition, as in the rival mythology 
of Brahma. The enemies of Christianity, since 
the time of Voltaire, have not failed, at the name 
of Bonzis, to throw out many malicious epigrams 
against religion. The similarity here observed 
is not real, but is that caricature resemblance 
the ape bears to man, and which has led many 
naturalists into error ; for the ape has with man 
no real affinity, no true internal sympathy 
in his organic conformation, but merely the 
likeness of a spitefiil parody, such as we may 
suppose an evil spirit to have devised to mock 
the image of God — the masterpiece of creation ; 
and indeed the frailties and corruption of de- 
generate man may well give occasion to such 
a parody. We may lay it down as a general 
principle that the greater the apparent resem- 
blance which a false religion, utterly and fun- 
damentally different in its spiritual character, 
and moral tendency, externally bears to the 


true , the more reprehensible will it be in itself, 
and the greater its hostility to the truth. An 
example near at hand will place the truth of this 
remark in the clearest light. If, for instance, 
Mahomet, instead of merely giving himself out 
as a prophet, had declared he was the son of 
God, the eternal Word, the incarnate Deity, the 
true and real Christ, his religious system would 
certainly have been far more adverse and re- 
pulsive to our feelings than it now is, and would 
have shocked alike every mind trained in the 
intellectual discipline of Europe, brought up 
with Christian feelings, and even unconsciously 
imbued with such. But this is precisely the 
characteristic feature, the peculiar doctrine of 
the religion of Buddha ; for not only is Buddha 
himself worshipped as an incarnate divinity, 
but this prerogative of a divine incarnation has 
been transmitted to his chief priests through 
every generation ; and thus this personal idola- 
try has ever been kept alive. In regard to 
morals, too, a comparison between the religion 
of the Buddhists and of the Mahometans would 
be equally disadvantageous to the former. The 
injurious influence which polygamy, and that 
degradation of the female sex it necessarily 
involves, exert on the manners and intellectual 
character of Mahometan nations, has been often 
observed, and can never be questioned. But 
that that other and opposite abuse of marriage, 


- poly-andry, which is legally established among 
the Buddhist nations, is infinitely more re- 

/ pugnant to, and destructive of morality, and 
more debasing to the male character, must be 
perceptible to the feelings of every individual, 
and can require no comment. I do not find, 
indeed, in the different accounts of China, any 

) mention made of this abominable practice ; and 
it is very possible that in this, as in other cases, 
the good old customs of the Chinese have had 
the ascendancy, and preserved their beneficial 
influence: but in Thibet, the chief seat of 
Buddhism, in many parts of India, and in otlier 
countries where this religion prevails, the un- 
natural custom exists. 

The writer * best versed in the language and 
writings Qf the Buddhist Monguls boasts of 
their superior humanity and mildness of man- 
ners, when compared with the Mahometan 
nations ; but this observation must be taken 
only in a relative sense, and understood of a 
mere outward polish, and superficial refine- 
ment of manner ; for history does not show 
the Monguls to have been at all more hu- 
mane in their conduct. The indescribable 
confusion in the mythological system of the 
Buddhists, their innumerable books of meta- 
physics, all wearisomely prolix and unintelligible, 

* M. Abel Rcmusat. 


according to the explicit avowal of tlie critic 
just now cited, M. Remusat, prove the essen- 
tially false direction of speculation and phi- 
losophy among the Buddhists — a philosophy 
which, by a dialectic or rather ideal course^ has 
been led into a chaos of void abstractions, and 
a pure nihilism ; and more scientific observers 
have ever judged it to be an absolute system of 

It would appear that the Nestorians, or 
other degenerate Christian sects, have exerted 
some influence on Buddhism, and co-operated 
in its farther development ; — so we may well 
imagine that this exotic influence has not tended 
to the amelioration or improvement of a re- 
ligion false in its essence, and fundamentally 
corrupt ; but that its vices and absurdities have 
remained equally flagrant, or, as it is easy to 
suppose, have been aggravated in the progress 
of time. 

This religion of Fo must not be consi- 
dered as resembling Christianity, because its 
followers have monastic institutions, and make 
use of a kind of rosary ; but as the political 
idolatry of the Chinese for their state and 
sovereign is widely difierent from the true prin- 
ciple of Christian government, that all pmver is 
from God, so this false religion of Buddha is 
further removed than any other from Chris- 
tianity : it is on the contrary adverse to our re- 
ligion, and, so far from being half similar to 





Christianity, is a decidedly^ anti - Christian 
cre^d. * "" "^ 

We may thus sum up the result of our en- 
quiries : — among the great nations of primitive 
antiquity who stood the nearest, or at least very 
near, to the source of sacred tradition — the word 
of primitive revelation, — the Chinese hold a 
very distinguished" place ; and many passages 
in their primitive history, many remarkable 
vestiges of eternal truth — the heritage of old 
thoughts — to be found in tlieir ancient classical 

\No Gentile people preserved so long and in such purity the 
worship of the true God as the Chinese. This no doubt must 
be ascribed to the secluded situation of the country — ^to the great 
reverence of the Chinese for their ancestors, as well as to the 
patriarchal mildness of their early governments ; and, we must 
add, to the unpoetical character of the nation itself, which was 
a safeguard against Idolatry. Therd is historical evidence that, up 
to two centuries before the Christian era, idolatry had made httle 
progress among this people. So vivid was their expectation of 
the Messiah — *^*^ the Great Saint who» as Confucius says, was to 
appear in the West'* — so fully sensible were they not only of the 
place of his birth, but of the time of his coming, that, about 60 
years after the birth of our Saviour, they sent their envoys 
to hail the expected Redeemer. These envoys encountered on 
their way the Missionaries of Buddhism coming from India — 
the latter, announcing an incarnate God, were taken to be the 
disciples of the true Christ, and were presented as such to their 
countrymen by the deluded ambassadors. Thus was this re- 
ligion introduced into China, and thus did this phantasmagoria 
of Hell intercept the light of the gospel. So, not in the internal 
spirit only, but in the outward history of Buddhism, a demonia- 
cal intent is very visible. — Tram^ 


works, prove the originally high eminence of 
this people. But at a very early period, their 
science had taken a course completely erro- 
neous, and even their language partly followed 
this direction, or at least assumed a very i^tifT 
and artificial character. Descending from one 
degree of political idolatry to a grade still lower, 
they have at last openly embraced a foreign su- 
perstition — a diabolic mimicry of Christianity, 
which emanated from India, has made Thibet its 
principal seat, prevails in China, and, widely 
diffused over the whole middle Asia, reckons a 
greater number of followers than any other re- 
ligion on the earth. 

-^-r .-'■ tr •■/> -I ,{.*•• ' 7 

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END OF LEttlfnElil. ^^ "^ 


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J'..,..^..'' -j 

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V . , . ^ ■../ ■ ^ ■ ' 

J ' ' J '■ i 

' ,- *'. 


Of the Institutions of the Indians — the Brahminical caste^ and 
the hereditary priesthood. — Of the doctrine of the transmi- 
gration of souls, considered' as the basis of Indian hfe, and 
of Indian philosophy. 

When Alexander the Great had attained the 
object of his most ardent desires and, realizing 
the fabulous expedition of Bacchus and his 
train of followers, had at last reached India, 
the Greeks found this vast region, even on this 
side of the Ganges — (for that river, the peculiar 
object of Alexander's ambition, the conqueror 
in despite of all his efforts, was unable to reach) 
— the Greeks found this country extensive, 
fertile, highly cultivated, populous, and filled 
with flourishing cities, as it was, divided into 
a number of great and petty kingdoms. They 
found there an hereditary division of castes, 
such as still subsists ; although they reckoned 
not four^ but seven castes, a circumstance, how- 


ever, which, as we* shall see later, argues no 
essential difference in the division of Indian 
classes at that period. They remarked, also, 
that the country was divided into two religious 
parties or sects, the Brachmans and the Santa- 
n6ansj_ By the first, the Greeks designated the ' 
followers of the religion of Brahma, as well as 
of Vishnoo and Siva, a religion which still sub- 
sists, and is more deeply rooted and more widely 
diffused and prevalent in India than any other 
religious system ; distinguished as it is by its 
leading dogma of the transmigration of souls, C 
which has exerted the mightiest influence on 
every department of thought, on the whole bear- 
ing of Indian philosophy, and on the whole 
arrangement of Indian life. But by the Greek 
denomination of Sama?ieans we must certainly 
understand the Buddhists, as, among the rude 
nations of central Asia, and in other countries, 
the priests of the religion of Fo bear at this 
day the name of Schamans. These priests in- 
deed -appear to be little better than mere sor- 
cerers and jugglers, as are the priests of all 
idolatrous nations that are sunk to the lowest 
degree of barbarism and superstition. The 
word^itself is pure Indian, and occurs frequently 
in the religious and metaphysical treatises of 
that people ; for originally, and before it had 
received such a mean acceptation among those 
Buddhist nations, it had quite a philosophical 
sense, as it still has in the Sanscrit. This word 


I 4 


, denotes that equability of mind, or that deep 
[ internal equanimity which, according to the 
Indian philosophy, must precede, and is indis- 
( pensably requisite to the perfect union with the 
God-head. In general all the names by which 
Buddha, the priests of his religion, and its im- 
portant and fundamental doctrines are known, 
whether in Thibet, or among the Mongul na- 
tions, in Siam, in Pegu, or in Japan — in general, 
we say, all those names are pure Indian words ; 
for the tradition of all those nations, with unani- 
mous accord, deduces the origin of this sect from 

The name of Buddha, which the Chinese 
have changed, or shortened into that of Fo, is 
rather an honorary appellation, and is expres- 
sive of the divine wisdom with which, in the 
opinion of his followers, he was endowed ; or 
which rather, according to their belief, became 
visible in his person. The period of his exist- 
ence is fixed by many at six hundred years, by 
others again at a thousand years, before the 
Christian era. His real and historical name was 
Gautama ; and it is remarkable that the same 
name was borne by the author of one of the 
principal philosophical systems of the Hindoos, 
the Nyaya philosophy, the leading principles of 
which will be the subject of future consideration, 
when we come to speak of the Indian philoso- 
phy. Indeed, the dialectic spirit, which per- 
vades the Nyaya philosophy would seem to be 


of a kindred nature and lika origin with the 
confiised metaphysics of the Buddhists. But 
the names, notwithstanding their identity, de- 
note two different persons ; although even the 
founder of the dialectic system, like almost all 
other celebrated names in the ancient history, 
traditions and science of the Indians, figures in 
the character of a mythological personage. But 
we must first take a view of the state of man- 
ners, and the state of political civilization, in 
India, in order to be able to form a right judg- 
ment and estimate of the intellectual and scien- 
tific exertions of its inhabitants, and of the 
peculiar nature and tendency of the Indian 

By the manner in which the Greek writers 
speak of the two religious parties, into which 
Alexander found the country divided, it can 
scarcely be doubted that the Buddhists at that 
period were far more numerous, and more ex- 
tensively diffused throughout India, than they 
are at the present day, and this inference is 
even corroborated by many historical vouchers 
of the Indians themselves. Although the Budd- 
hists are now but an obscure sect of dissenters 
in the Western Peninsula, they are still tolerably 
numerous in several of its provinces ; while, on 
the other hand, they have complete possession 
of the whole Eastern and Indochinese peninsula. 
Besides this sect, there are many other religious 
dissenters even in Hindostan ; such for instance, 

VOL. 1. K 


as the sect of Jains^ who steer a middle course 
between the followers of the old and established 
religion of Brahma, and the Buddhists ; for, like 
the latter, they reject the Indian division and 
system of castes. Even the established religion 
itself is divided into three parties, which, though 
they do not form precisely separate sects, still 
are marked by no inconsiderable differences in 
their opinions, views, and conduct : according as 
each of these parties acknowledges the supre- 
macy, or renders a nearly exclusive worship to 
one or other of the three principal Hindoo divini- 
ties, Brahma, Vishnoo, and Siva. And, although 
in the empire of the great Mogul, the number of 
the Mahometan conquerors, and of those that 
accompanied them into India, was very small, 
compared with the mass of the native popu- 
lation, yet, after the total destruction of this , 
empire, there still remain several millions of 
Mahometans in the country. Even the Persian 
language, or a corrupt dialect of it, which these 
conquerors introduced, is still in many places 
in use as the language of ordinary life, trade, 
and business ; in the same way as the Portu- 
guese in the maritime and commercial cities of 
India, or the Lingua Franca in our eastern 
factories, serves as the usual and convenient 
medium of communication. 

The Indian is not the only, or exclusively 
prevailing, language in the whole peninsula; 
in several provinces, as for instance, on the 


southern Goast, and in the Isle of Ceylon, quite a 
different language prevails; and the old culti- 
vated and classical speech of India is there 
unknown. The name of Sanscrit, by which the 
latter is designated, denotes a cultivated or 
highly wrought language; but the Pracrit, 
which is employed together or alternately with 
the Sanscrit in the theatrical pieces of the 
Indians, signifies a natural and artless speech, 
and is not so much a distinct dialect as a softer 
pronunciation of the Sanscrit, which smoothes, 
suppresses, or melts down the hard and crowded 
consonants, and pays less regard to the more 
elaborate grammatical forms of this language. 
The Pracrit, which is used in dramatic pieces, 
particularly in the female parts, stands from its 
more simple grammar, in the same relation to 
the Sanscrit as the softer Italian or Portuguese 
is to the old Latin, without however the same 
heterogeneous alloy. But, independently of 
these variations in the later and beautiful lan- 
guage of Indian poetry, the language of that 
country is split and divided into a number of 
dissimilar and widely dissimilar dialects, such 
as the Malabar, for example; and almost in 
every province the common language undergoes 
a variety of changes ; and this is the case even 
in Bengal. The country of the Upper Ganges, 
especially Benares, is renowned for being the 
chief seat of the Sanscrit tongue, — the place, at 

R 2 


least, where it is best understood, and spoken 
with the greatest purity. 

Those languages which differ totally from 
the Indian belong in part to quite a different 
race of men, mostly, perhaps, to the Malays : 
for, so far is India from being entirely peopled 
by one single race of inhabitants, that we find 
in several of its provinces tribes of an origin 
totally different from that of the Hindoos. This 
great variety in the whole life, manners, and 
political institutions of the Indians, forms a strik- 
ing contrast with the absolute unity, and internal 
uniformity of the Chinese Empire- It was perhaps 
this variety in the moral and political aspect of 
ancient India that gave rise to the denomination 
which it has received in the old sacred Median 
books of Zoroaster, where, in the first fargard^ 
or section of the Vendidat, it is described as the 
fifteenth pure region of the earth, created by 
Ormuzd, and designated by the name of Hapte 
Heando — a name which signifies the seven 
Indias. As India is still split into a multitude 
of sects and religions, and divided into different 
tribes, speaking various languages ; so, as Hero- 
dotus long ago observed, it has for the most part 
been ever composed of a multitude of great and 
petty states, although from its natural bounda- 
ries it might easily have been formed into one 
great monarchy, and really constitutes but one 
country in its geographical circumscription. 

The historian of India would have principally 


to speak of the successes of a long series of . 
foreign conquerors, who, from Alexander the 
Great to Nadir Shah, have invaded this country 
by the North-west side from Persia. The Greeks 
were indeed told that, before Alexander the 
Great, no foreign conqueror had ever invaded 
India ; and even after this invasion, and on the 
death of Sandracottus, when the Indians were 
liberated from the transient dominion of the 
Greeks, they were for a long lapse of ages go- 
verned by native princes ; and their country was 
parcelled out into a number of great and petty 
kingdoms, such as those of Magadha, Ayodha, 
&c. It is a striking incident in the moral , 
and intellectual history of the Hindoos that 
amid all the revolutions under their ancient and 
native rulers, and amid all the later vicissitudes 
of foreign conquest, their peculiar modes of life 
and their institution of castes should have been 
preserved, and, in despite of all the changes of 
time and of empire, should have stood unchang- 
ed, like the one surviving monument of the pri- 
mitive world. In the administration and govern- 
ment of this country, the absolute monarchical 
sway which exists in China, and the unlimited 
despotism of other oriental countries, could never 
be realized; for that hereditary division of 
classes, and those hereditary rights belonging to 
each, which, as they form a part of the Indian 
constitution,have taken such deep root in the soil ; 
and which, as they rest on the immoveable basis 


., '■ '^- ' " ■ Jr -r< - 



of ancient faith, have become, as it were, the 
second nature of this people — ail these present 
an unassailable rampart, which not even a fo- 
reign conqueror could ever succeed in over- 
throwing. We can hence understand what led the 
Greeks to believe and assert that there were Re- 
publican states in India. If from prepossessions, 
which were natural to that people, they asserted 
too much, or thought they saw more than a 
nearer investigation proves to be actually the 
case ; still their assertion is not totally without 
foundation, for the Indian system of castes is in 
many respects more favourable to institutions 
of a Republican nature, or at least Republican 
tendency, than the constitution of any other 
Asiatic state. When those modem writers 
therefore, who were the declared enemies of all 
hereditary rank and hereditary rights, spoke 
with contempt and abhorence of the Indian 
constitution of castes, represented it as the 
peculiar basis of despotism, and even applied 
the name of caste as a party- word to the social 
relations of Europe ; their assertions were false 
and utterly opposed to history. The invectives 
of these writers may be easily accounted for, 
from their very democratic views, or rather from 
their doctrine of absolute equality, as this equa- 
lity itself is ever the attendant of despotism, 
produces it, or proceeds from it, and is one of 
its most distinctive characteristics. In con- 
firmation of what we have said, we may observe. 


that even at the present day most of the cities 
of India possess municipal institutions, which 
are much admired by English writers, who attest 
from their personal experience and observation, 
their salutary influence on individual and pub- 
lic prosperity. In general the English have 
paid very great attention to the jurisprudence 
and civil legislation of India ; as the fundamen- 
tal principle of their Indian government is to 
rule that country according to its own laws, cus- 
toms and privileges ; while, on the contrary, the 
other European powers that once had obtained 
a firm footing in India, formed alliances with, 
and attached themselves by preference to, the 
Mahometan sovereigns of the country. By this 
simple, but enlightened principle in their Indian 
policy and administration, the English have 
obtained the ascendency over all their rivals or 
opponents, and have become complete masters 
of the whole of this splendid region. 

The scholars of Europe began their Indian 
researches by the study and translation of the 
laws and jurisprudence of the Hindoos, the text 

as well as commentaries, and it was only at a 
later period they extended their inquiries to 
other subjects. The Indian jurisprudence is 
undoubtedly a standing proof and monument of 
the comparatively high and very ancient moral 
and intellectural refinement of that people ; and 
a more minute and profound investigation of 
that jurisprudence would no doubt give rise to 


many interesting points of comparison, and to 
many striking analogies, partly with the old 
Athenian, or first Roman laws, partly with the 
Mosaic legislation, and even in some particular 
points, with the Germanic constitution. As the 
caste of warriors in India, who constitute the 
class of landed proprietors, and the aristocracy 
of the country, are founded on exactly the same 
principle as the hereditary nobility of Germany, 
it cannot excite surprise, if we find in India, 
not indeed the elaborate and complex feudality 
of the Germans, but a more simple system 
of fiefs. 

But, according to the plan we have proposed 
to ourselves, in the history of all ancient, and 
especially of the primitive Asiatic nations, the 
matter of greatest moment must be to trace 
their intellectual progress, their scientific la- 
bours, and predominant opinions ; all those views 
of divine and human things, that have a mighty 
influence on life ; and finally the peculiar re- 
ligious feelings and principles of each of those 
ancient nations. In the second part of this 
work, when we shall have to speak of the pro- 
gress of mankind in modern times, we may 
perhaps change our point of view, and find it of 
more importance to trace the mutual relations 
between the external state of society and the 
internal development of intellect. But in that 
remote antiquity, which is contiguous to the 
primitive ages, the points of greatest moment, as 


we have already observed, are the intellectual 
character, the modes of thinking, and the re- 
ligion of those nations. On the other hand, their 
civil legislation, and even their political con- 
stitutions, however important, interesting and 
instructive the closer investigation of those sub- 
jects may be in other respects, can occupy in 
this history but a secondary place ; and it will 
suffice for our purpose to point out some leading ' 
points of legislation that serve as the foundation 
and principle of the moral and intellectual 
character of those nations. In India this lead- 
ing point is the institution of castes, the most 
remarkable feature in all Indian life, and which 
in its essential traits existed in Egypt. This 
singular phenomenon of Indian life has even 
some points of connexion with a capital article 
of their creed, the doctrine of the transmigration 
of souls — a doctrine which will be later the 
subject of our enquiries, and which we shall 
endeavour to place in a nearer and clearer light. 
In shewing the influence of the institution of 
castes on the state of manners in India, I may 
observe, in the first place, that in this division of 
the social ranks there is no distinct class of 
slaves (as was indeed long ago remarked by 
the Grreeks) ; that is to say, no such class of 
bought slaves — no men, the property and mer- 
chandise of their fellow -men — as existed in 
ancient Greece and Rome, as exist even at this 
day among Mahometan nations ; and, as in the 


case of the Negroes, are still to be found in the 
colonial possessions of the Christian and Eu- 
ropean states. The labouring class of the Sudras 
is undoubtedly not admitted to the high pri- 
vileges of the first classes» and is in a state of 
great dependance upon these; but this very 
caste of Sudras has its hereditary and clearly 
defined rights. It is only by a crime that a man 
in India can lose his caste^ and the rights an- 
nexed to it. These rights are acquired by 
birth ; except in the instance of the ofispring of 
unlawfiil marriages between persons of different 
castes. The fate of these hapless wretches is 
indeed hard, — harder, almost, than that of real 
slaves among other nations. Ejected, excom- 
municated as it were, loaded with malediction, 
they are regarded as the outcasts of society, yea 
almost, of humanity itself. This terrible ex- 
clusion, however, from the rights of citizenship 
occurs only in certain clearly specified cases. 
There are even some cases of exception expli- 
citly laid down, where a marriage with a person 
of difierent caste is permitted ; or where at least 
the only consequence to the children of such 
marriage is a degradation to an inferior class of 
society. But the general rule is that a lawful 
marriage can be contracted only with a woman 
of the same caste. Women participate in all the 
rights of their caste ; in the high prerogatives 
of Brahmins, if they are of the sacerdotal 
race (although there are not and never were 



priestesses among the Indians as among the 
other heathen nations of antiquity) ; or in the 
privileges of nobility, if they belong to the caste 
of the Cshatriyas. These privileges which belong 
and are secured to women, and this participa- 
tion in the rights and advantages of their re- 
spective classes, must tend much undoubtedly 
to mitigate the injurious effects of polygamy. 
The latter custom has ever prevailed, and still 
prevails, in India ; though not to the same degree 
of licentiousness, nor with the same unlimited 
and despotic controul, äs in Mahometan coun- 
tries ; but a plurality of wives is there permitted 
only under certain conditions, and with certain 
legal restrictions; consequently in that milder 
form, under which it existed of old in the warm 
climes of Asia, and according to the patriarchal 
simplicity of the yet thinly peopled world. The 
much higher social rank, and better moral con- 
dition of the female sex in India, are apparent 
from those portraits of Indian life which are 
drawn in their beautiful works of poetry, whether 
of a primitive or a later date; and from that 
deep feeling of tenderness, that affectionate 
regard and reverence, with which the cha- 
racter of woman and her domestic relations are 
invariably represented. These few examples 
suffice to show the moral effects of the Indian 
division of castes ; and while they serve to defend 
this institution against a sweeping sentence of 
condemnation, or the indiscriminate censure of 



too partial prejudice, they place the subject in 
its true and proper light, and present alike the 
advantages and defects of the system. 

From its connexion with the general plan of 
my work, I am desirous of entering more deeply 
into the internal principle of this singular divi- 
sion and rigid separation of the social ranks, 
and into the historical origin of this strange con- 
stitution of human society. When the Greeks, 
who accompanied or followed Alexander into 
India, numbered seven instead of four castes in 
that country, they did not judge inaccurately 
the outward condition of things ; but they paid 
not sufficient attention to the Indian notions of 
castes ; and their very enumeration of those 
castes proves they had mistaken some points of 
detail. In this enumeration they assign the 
first rank to the Brachmans^ or wise men ; and 
by the artisans, they no doubt understood the 
trading and manufacturing class of the Yaisyas. 
The councillors and intendants of kings and 
princes do not constitute a distinct caste, but are 
mere officers and Amctionaries ; who, if they 
be lawyers, belong to, and must be taken from, 
the caste of Brahmins; though the other two 
upper castes are not always rigidly excluded 
from these Amotions. The class again that 
tends the breeding of cattle, and lives by the 
chase, forms not a distinct caste, but merely 
follows a peculiar kind of employment. And 
when the Greeks make two castes of the agri- 


culturists and the warriors, they only mean 
to draw a distinction between the labourers and 
the masters^ or the real proprietors of the soil. 
Even the name of Cshatriyas signifies landedpro- 
prietor; and, as in the old Germanic constitution, 
the arriere-ban was composed of landed proprie- 
tors, and the very possession of the soil imposed 
on the nobility the obligation of military service ; 
so, in the Indian constitution, the two ideas of 
property in land, and military service, are indis- 
solubly connected. Some modern enquirers 
have attached very great importance to the 
undoubtedly wide and remarkable separation of 
the fourth or menial caste of Sudras from the 
three upper castes. They have thought they 
perceived, also, a very great diflTerence in the 
bodily structure and general physiognomy of 
this fourth caste from those of the others ; and 
have thence concluded that the caste of Sudras 
is descended from a totally different race, some 
primitive and barbarous people whom a more 
civilized nation, to whom the three upper castes 
must have belonged, have conquered and sub- 
dued, and degraded to that menial condition, 
the lowest grade in the social scale, — a grade to 
which the iron arm of law eternally binds them 
down. This hypothesis is in itself not very 
improbable ; and it may be proved from history 
that the like has really occurred in several 
Asiatic, and even European, countries. In the 
back -ground of old, mighty and civilized nations 


we can almost always trace the primeval inha- 
bitants of the country, who, dispossessed of their 
territory, have been either reduced to servitude 
by their conquerors, or have gradually been 
incorporated with them. These primitive in- 
habitants, when compared with their later and 
more civilized conquerors, appear indeed in 
general rude and barbarous; though we find 
among them a certain number of ancient customs 
and arts, which by no means tend to confirm 
the notion of an original and universal savage 
state of nature. It is possible that the same 
circumstances have occurred in India; though 
this is by no means a necessary inference, for 
humanity, in its progress, follows not one uni- 
form course, but pursues various and widely 
different paths ; and, hitherto at least, no ade- 
quate historical proof has, in my opinion, been 
adduced for the reality of such an occurrence in 
India. It has also been conjectured that the caste 
of warriors, or the princes and hereditary nobility, 
possessed orginally greater power and influence ; 
and that it is only by degrees the race of 
Brahmins has attained to that great preponde- 
rance which it displays in later times, and 
which it even still possesses. We find, indeed, 
in the old epic, mythological, and historical 
poems of the Indians, many passages which 
describe a contest between these two classes, 
and which represent the deified heroes of India 
victoriously defending the wise and pious Brah- 


mins from the attacks of the fierce and preeump- 
tuous Cshatriyas. This account, however, is 
susceptible of another interpretation, and should 
not be taken exclusively in this political sense. 
That in the brilliant period of their ancient and 
national dynasties and governments, the princes 
and warlike nobility possessed greater weight 
and importance than at present, is quite in the 
nature of things, and appears indeed to have 
been undoubtedly the case. From many indi- 
cations in the old Indian traditions and histo- 
ries, it would appear that the caste of Cshatri- 
yas, was partially at least, of foreign extraction ; 
while those traditionary accounts constantly 
represent the caste of Brahmins as the highest 
class, and nobler part, nay, the corner-stone of 
the whole community. 

The origin of an hereditary caste of warriors, 
when considered in itself, may be easily account- 
ed for, and it is no wise contrary to the nature 
of things that, even in a state of society where 
legal rights are yet undefined, the son, especially 
the eldest, should govern and administer the 
territory or property which his deceased father 
possessed, and even in those cases where it was 
necessary, should take possession, administer, 
and defend this property by open force and the 
aid of his dependents. 

But afterwards, when the social relations 
became more clearly fixed by law, and an union 
on a larger scale was formed by a general 


league, as the duties of military service were 
annexed to the soil, so the right to the soil was 
again determined by, and depended on, military 
service ; now, in that primitive period of history, 
such a political union might have been formed 
by a common subordination to a higher power, 
or by a confederacy between several potentates ; 
and this has really been the origin of an he- 
reditary landed nobility in many countries. 

The hereditary continuance or transmission 
of arts and trades, whereby the son pursues the 
occupation of the father, and learns and applies 
what the latter has discqyered, has nothing 
singular in itself, and appears indeed to contain 
its own explanation. But it is not easy, or at 
least equally so, to account for the exclusive 
distribution and the exact and rigid separation 
of castes, particularly by any religious motives 
and principles, which are, however, indubitably 
connected with this institution. Still less can 
we understand the existence of a great heredi- 
tary class of priests, eternally divided from the 
rest of the community, such as existed both in 
India and Egypt. To comprehend this strange 
phenomenon, we must endeavour to discover its 
origin, and trace it back, as far as is possible, 
to the primitive ages of the world. — If, for the 
sake of brevity, I have used the expression, " a 
class of hereditary priests^' I ought to add, in 
order to explain my meaning more clearly, that 
the word priests must not be taken in that li- 


mited sense which antiquity attached to it; 
that the Brahmins are not merely confined to 
the functions of prayer, but are strictly and 
eminently theologians, since they alone are per- 
mitted to read and interpret the Vedas, while 
the other castes can read only with their sanc- 
tion such passages of those sacred writings as 
are adapted to their circumstances, and the 
fourth caste are entirely prohibited from hearing 
any portion of them. The Brahmins are also 
the lawyers and physicians of India, and hence 
the Greeks did not designate them erroneously 
when they termed them the caste of philosophers. 
We have already had occasion to observe 
that the Mosaic narrative, — that first monument 
of all history, (which a very intellectual German 
writer has called the primitive document of the 
human race, and which it indeed is even in a 
mere historical sense, and in the literal accepta- 
tion of the word,) that the Mosaic narrative, we 
say, ascribes to the Cainites the origin of here- 
ditary arts and trades. And there are two 
which are particularly worthy of remark, and to 
which I drew your attention — the knowledge of 
metals, and the art of music. I used the general 
expression, the knowledge of metals, because in 
the primitive ages of the world, the art of work- 
ing mines, or of exploring and extracting metals 
from the earth, was essentially connected with 
the art of preparing and polishing them ; and 
this knowledge of metals was very instrumental 

VOL. I. L 


in forwarding the infant civilization of the primi- 
tive world, as the art of working and polishing 
them has ever contributed to the refinement of 
mankind. By the music of the Cainites, I said we 
were not to understand our own more elaborate 
and sublime system of melody. This art was 
chiefly consecrated in those ancient times, to 
the uses of divine service ; still older, perhaps, 
was the medicinal, or rather the magical, use 
and influence of music. This is at least indicated 
by the tradition and mythology of all nations ; 
and such a supposition is quite conformable to 
the spirit of those early ages ; and I would here 
remind you that, in the primitive symbolical 
writing of the Chinese, the sign of a magician 
represents also a priest — a character which, as 
Remusat has observed, is not to be found in the 
narrow circle of their symbols. I added, that 
the existence of an hereditary caste of warriors 
among the Cainites was possible, and even pro- 
bable ; though not so, in my opinion, the exist- 
ence of an hereditary sacerdotal caste. But 
though such an institution did not emanate from 
the Cainifes, it may at least have been occa- 
sioned by them. As I said before, the Mosaic 
history represents the vast, boundless, prodigi. 
ous corruption of the world in the age imme- 
diately preceding the deluge, as produced solely 
by the union of the better and godly portion 
of mankind with the lawless descendants of 
Cain. Thus this would supposes a certain dread 


and apprehension of any alliance and inter- 
course with a race laden with malediction^ and 
pregnant with calamity. And may not this very 
circumstance have given rise to the establish- 
ment of a distinctly separate and hereditary 
class, not of priests in the later signification of 
that wordy but of men chosen and consecrated 
by God, and entirely devoted to his service? 
and, consequently, is it not among the later 
Sethites, we must look for the origin of this 
institution ? 

We should transport ourselves in imagina- 
tion to the age of the Patriarchs, and then con- 
sider that, with the high powers which they still 
possessed, they must have watched with the 
most jealous and far-sighted solicitude over the 
fate of their posterity, in order to preserve them 
in their original purity and high hereditary 
dignity. The Indian traditions acknowledge and 
revere the succession of the first ancestors of 
mankind, or the holy Patriarchs of the primi- 
tive world, under the name of the seven great 
Rishis^ or sages of hoary antiquity ; though 
they invest their history with a cloud of fictions. 
They place all these Patriarchs in the primitive 
world, and assign them to the race of Brahmins ; 
— a circumstance which cannot here appear 
unfitting. It has been often observed that the 
Indians have no regular histories, no works of 
real historical science ; and the reason is that 
with them the sense of the primitive world is 



Still fresh and lively, and that not only do they 
clothe their ideas in a poetical garb, but all their 
conceptions of human affairs and events are 
exclusively mythological; so that all the real 
events of later historical times are absorbed in 
the element of mythology, or at least strongly 
tinged with its colours. It is in the same way, 
the Panegyrists of the Chinese language remark 
that the almost total absence ' of grammar in 
that language, among a people of such highly 
cultivated intellect, should not be taken merely 
to denote the poverty and jejuneness of the 
infancy of speech, as this in a great measure 
originated in the fact that the profound primi- 
tive «motions, which gave birth to those first 
languages, were too absorbed in the subject of 
their contemplation, too nmch bent on giving 
utterance to the most effective word, or ex- 
pressing themselves with the most condensed 
brevity, to perplex or trouble themselves with 
nicer distinctions, and minor and often super- 
fluous rules. 

The providential care of these first Patri- 
archs for the preservation and prosperity of 
their offspring and race is evinced in those 
Patriarchal scenes described not only in the 
Sagas of other primitive nations, but also in 
the sacred writings of the Hebrews ; and where 
the hoary grand-sire imparts and transmits to 
his sons and grand-sons the power of his bene- 
diction, which was not a mere empty form of 


words, as the special inheritance of each. We 
see, too, that, after assigning the first rank to 
the eldest son, or to some favourite child, per- 
haps, originally chosen and preferred by God» 
the venerable Patriarch utters some words of 
warning which the succeeding history but too 
well justifies ; or darkly indicates a deep, pre- 
sentiment of some great impending calamity. 
But there is, in particular, a passage relative to 
the first great progenitor of mankind which 
deserves to be here noticed. When the calami- 
tous epoch of the first fraternal contest, and the 
first fatal fratricide had elapsed, it is said in 
Holy Writ, ''Adam begat a son in his own 
likeness, after his image, and called his name 
Seth." The first thing that must strike us in 
this passage is the great and humiliating in- 
feriority which it involves. Adam was created 
after the likeness of Almighty God ; but Seth 
is begotten after the likeness of Adam. Yet 
there is no doubt that, from the peculiar style 
and manner of Holy Writ, ä very high pre-emi-^ 
nence was here conferred on Seth. For in the. 
same way as we have seen that the Patriarchs 
were wont to impart their blessings tp their 
sons and their posterity, Adam granted and 
communicated to Seth, as to his first-born in 
this second commencement of the human race,, 
and as his inheritance and exclusive birth-right» 
all those prerogatives and high gifts and powers» 
which he himself had originally received from 


his Creator, and which, on his reconciliation 
with his God, he had once more obtained. 
/^ Nothing similar is said of the other sons and 
( daughters afterwards begotten by Adam, and 

^ through whom other nations have derived their 
descent from the common parent. This cir- 
cumstance confirms and explains that high pre- 
eminence which, according to sacred tradition, 
was conferred on the race of Seth. As to the 
high powers which the father of mankind had 
preserved after his fall, or had a second time 
received, we may well suppose that, after the 
crime and flight of Cain, he would endeavour to 
retrieve his errors by the establishment of the 
better race of Seth, and by a consequent reno- 
vation of humanity. This is not a mere arbi- 
trary supposition, for it is expressly said in 
Holy Writ that the first man, ordained to be 
" the father of the whole earth," (as he is there 
called,) became on his reconciliation with his 
Maker, the wisest of all men, and, according to 
tradition, the greatest of prophets, who, in his 
far-reaching ken, foresaw the destinies of all 
mankind, in all successive ages down to the end 
of the world. All this must be taken in a strict 
historical sense, for the moral interpretation we 
abandon to others. The pre-eminence of the 
Sethites, chosen by God, and entirely devoted 
to his service, must be received as an undoubted 
historical fact, to which we find many pointed 
allusions even in the traditions of the other 


Asiatic nations. Nay the hostility between the 
Sethites and Cainites, and the mutual relations 
of these two races, form the chief clue to the 
history of the primitive world, and even of many 
particular nations of antiquity. That, after the 
violent but transient interruption occasioned by 
the deluge, the remembrance of many things 
might revive, and the same or a similar hostility 
between the two raceSj which had existed in the 
ante - diluvian world, might be a second time 
displayed, is a matter which it is uimecessary 
to examine any further. Equally needless would 
it be to shew that, in the increasing degeneracy 
of man, every thing was soon more and more dis- 
figured and deranged, and finally became for 
the most part undistinguishable, till it was 
afterwards a problem for the historical enquirer 
to reduce to the simple elements of their origin 
the greatest, most extraordinary and most re- 
markable phenomena which still remained, or 
were remembered, of the primitive ages. 

If I think it not impossible that the Indian 
constitution of castes, and its most important 
branch, the Brahminical class — that is to say, 
the moral and general conception of this an- 
cient institution, may be connected with the 
scriptural history and the sacred tradition re- 
specting the race of Seth ; I must observe that 
to this hypothesis an objection can no more be 
taken from the present character and moral 
condition of the Brahmins, than we can estimate 


the high gifts, the great men and the mighty 
Prophets, that the Almighty once accorded 
to the Jewish nation, or such noble natures as 
those of Moses and Elias, by the present fallen 
state of that dispersed people. 

These remarks may suffice to give an idea 
of the most important feature in Indian society. 
Before I attempt to examine the second great 
characteristic of this people,— the doctrine of 
the transmigration of souls, a principle which, 
if it has not produced, has at least given the pe- 
culiar bent to their whole philosophy ; I wish to 
take a general view of Polytheism, particularly 
as our notions of it, chiefly derived from the 
Greeks, are by no means perfectly applicable to 
the primitive nations of Asia. 

We are wont to regard the Grecian mytho- 
logy, and its many-coloured world of fables, only 
as the beautiful efiusion of poetry, or a playAil 
creation of fancy ; and we never think of en- 
quiring deeply or minutely into its details, or of 
examining its moral import and influence. It 
is the more natural that the mythology of the 
Greeks should produce this impression on our 
minds, and that we should regard it in this 
light, as all the higher ideas and severer doc- 
trines on the God-head^ its soveriegn nature and 
infinite might, on the eternal wisdom and pro- 
vidence that conducts and directs all things to 
their proper end, on the infinite Mind, and su- 
preme Intelligence that created all things, and 


that is raised far above external nature ; all these 
higher ideas and severer doctrines have been 
expounded more or less perfectly by Pythagoras, 
or by Anaxagoras and Socrates ; and have been 
developed in the most beautiful and luminous 
manner by Plato and the philosophers that fol- 
lowed him. But all this did not pass into the 
popular religion of the Greeks, and it remained 
for the most part a stranger to these exalted 
doctrines ; and, though we find in this mytho- 
logy many things capable of a deeper import 
and more spiritual signification, yet they appear 
but as rare vestiges of ancient truth — vague 
presentiments — fugitive tones — momentary 
flashes, revealing a belief in a supreme Being, 
an almighty Creator of the universe, and the 
common Father of mankind. 

But it is far otherwise in the Indian mytho- 
logy. There, amid a sensual idolatry of nature 
more passionate and enthusiastic still than that 
of the Greeks, amid Pagan fictions and concep- 
tions far more gigantic than those of the latter, 
we find almost all the truths of natural theology, 
not indeed without a considerable admixture of 
error, expressed with the utmost earnestness and 
dignity. We meet too, in this mythology, with 
the most rigidly scientific and metaphysical 
notions of the Supreme Being, his attributes and 
his relations; and it is the peculiar character 
of the Indian mythology to combine a gigantic 
wildness of fantasy, and a boundless enthusiasm 

v-^ . 



for nature, with a deep mystical import, and a 
profound philosophic sense. If the Pythago- 
reans had succeeded in the design, which they 
in all probability entertained, of rendering their 
lofty notions on the Deity and on man, on the 
immortality of the soul, and the invisible world, 
more generally prevalent, and of introducing 
these ideas into the popular religion ; as it was 
not their intention entirely to reject the vulgar 
creed, but only to mould it to their own princi- 
ples, and impart to it a higher and more spi- 
ritual sense, (an attempt which was afterwards 
made by the New Platonists and the Emperor 
Julian, out of hatred to Christianity, though, as 
the time had then long gone by, their enterprise 
was attended with no permanent effects) ; if the 
Pythagoreans, we say, had succeeded in their 
design, the Greek mjrthology might then have 
borne some resemblance to the Indian, and we 
might have instituted a comparison between 
the two. In the Indian mythology this strange 
combination, this inconsistent junction of the 
sublimest truth with the most sensual enror^ of 
the wildest and most extravagant fiction with 
the most abstract metaphysics, and even the 
purest natural theology (if we may thus call the 
divine Revelation of ihe primitive world) ; this 
strange combination, we say, has not been the 
effect of artful interpolation, but the fruit of 
native growth and of earliest development. 
We must now be on our guard not to admit 


too lightly or too quickly the coincidence of 
certain symbols and conceptions of mythology 
with truths and doctrines familiar to ourselves. 
How much, for instance, would a^man err, who 
would suppose that there was any analogy in the 
Indian symbol and notion of Trimurtij or the 
divine Triad, I do not say with the Christian 
doctrine of the Trinity, but with the opinion 
of either of the Platonic schools on the triple 
essence, or the triple Personality of the one 
God. In this symbol the heads of the three 
principal Hindoo divinities, Brahma, Vishnoo, 
and Siva, the Gods of creation, preservation 
and destruction, are united in one figure ; and 
this union undoubtedly indicates the primary 
energy common to all three. If we examine each 
in particular, we shall see that the attributes 
assigned to Brahma, and the expressions usually 
applied to his person, when divested of their 
poetical garb, and mythic accompaniments, may 
often, almost literally and in strict truth, be 
referred to the Deity. The all-pervading and 
self - transforming Yishnoo is much more the 
wonderful Prometheus of nature, than a real 
and well defined divinity. The third in this di- 
vine Triad, the formidable and destructive Siva, 
has but a very remote analogy with the Deity 
that judges and chastises the world according to 
justice. This God of destruction, whose wor- 
shippers appear to have been formerly the most 
numerous in India, as those of Yishnoo are at 


the present day ; this God of destruction, with 
his serpents and bracelets of human skulls» ap- 
pears evidently to be that demon of corruption 
who brought death into all creation, and who 
here, whimsically and inconsistently enough, has 
been introduced into the symbol, and made a 
part of the Deity itself. This union or confusion 
of Eternal Perfection with the Evil Principle is 
made in another way by the Indian philoso- 
phers ; as some of them explain the doctrine of 
Trimurti, or the divine Triad by reference to 
the Traiguntfauy or the three qualities. These 
three different regions, or degrees, into which, 
according to the Indian doctrine, all existence is 
divided, are the pure world of eternal truth, or 
of light, the middle region of vain appearance 
and illusion, and the abyss of darkness. How- 
ever, it must be observed that the Indians do 
not express the pure and metaphysical idea of 
the Supreme Being by either of the names of 
the two last-mentioned popular divinities ; nor 
do they even denote this idea by the name of 
Brahma, the first person of their trinity, but by 
the word Br ahm ^ a neuter noun which signifies 
the Supreme Being« 

As there were now two conflicting elements 
in the breast of man — the old inheritance or 
original dowry of truth, which God had impart- 
ed to him in Üie primitive revelation ; and error, 
or the foundation for error in his degraded sense 
and spirit now turned from God to Nature — how 

HI8T0RY. 157 

easily must error have sprung up, when the 
precious gem of divine truth was no longer 
guarded with jealous care, nor preserved in its 
pristine purity; ^how much must truth have 
been obscured, as error advanced in all its 
formidable might, and in all its power of seduc- 
tion ; and how soon must not this have happened 
among a people, like the Indians, with whom 
imagination and a very deep^ but still sensual, 
feeling for Nature, were so predominant ! — It was 
thus a wild enthusiasm, and a sensual idolatry 
of Nature, generally superseded the simple wor- 
ship of Almighty God, and Bet aside or disfigured 
the pure belief in the eternal, uncreated Spirit 
The great powers and elements of nature, and 
the vital principle of production and procreation 
through all generations, then the celestial spi- 
rits, or the heavenly host (to speak the language 
of antiquity), the luminous choir of stars, which 
the whole ancient world regarded not as mere 
globes of light or bodies of fire, but as animated 
substances ; next the Genii and tutelar spirits, 
and even the souls of the dead received now 
divine worship ; and men, instead of honouring 
the Creator in these, and of regarding these in 
reference to their Creator, considered them as 
Gods. Such is, when we have once supposed 
that man had turned away from God to Nature, 
such is the natural origin of Polytheism, which 
in every nation assumed a different form accord-* 
ing to the peculiar modes of life, and the pre- 
vailing principles of life, in each. 



Among the Indians this ruling principle of 
existence was the doctrine of the transmigration 
of souls, which appears indeed to be the most 
characteristic of all their opinions, and was by 
its influence on real life, by far the most im- 
portant. We must in the first place remember, 
and keep well in our minds, that, among those 
nations of primitive antiquity, the doctrine of 
the immortality of the soul was not a mere pro- 
bable hypothesis, which, as with many moderns, 
needs laborious researches and diffuse argu- 
mentations in order to produce conviction on 
the mind. Nay, we can hardly give the name 
of faith to this primitive conception ; for it was 
a lively certainty, like the feeling of one's own 
being, and of what is actually present; and 
this firm belief in a future existence exerted its 
influence on all sublunary affairs, and was often 
the motive of mightier deeds and enterprises 
than any mere earthly interest could inspire. 
I said above that the doctrine of the transmi- 
gration of souls was not unconnected with the 
Indian system of castes ; for the most honour- 
able appellation of a Brahmin is Tvija^ that is to 
say, a second time born, or regenerated. On 
one hand this appellation refers to that spiritual 
renovation and second birth of a life of purity 
consecrated to God, as in this consists the true 
calling of a Brahmin, and the special purpose 
of his caste. On the other hand this term refers 
to the belief that the soul, after many transmi- 


grations through various forms of animals, and 
various stages of natural existence, is permitted 
in certain cases, as a peculiar recompense, when 
it has gone through its prescribed cycle of mi- 
grations to return to the world, and be born in 
the class of Brahmins. This doctrine of the 
transmigration of souls through various bodies 
of animals or other forms of existence, and even 
through more than one repetition of human life, 
(whether such migrations were intended as the 
punishment of souls for their viciousness and 
impiety, or as trials for their further purification 
and amendment) — this doctrine which has al- 
ways been, and is still so prevalent in India, was 
held likewise by the ancient Egyptians. This 
accordance in the faith of these two ancient 
nations, established beyond all doubt by his 
torical testimony, is indeed remarkable ; and 
even in the minutest particulars on the course 
of migration allotted to souls, and on the 
stated periods and cycles of that migration, 
the coincidence is often perfectly exact. How 
strangely now it this most singular error mixed 
up, I do not say with truth, but with a feeling 
that is certainly closely akin to primitive truth ! 
When an individual of our own age, out of 
disgust with modem and well-known systems, 
or with the vulgar doctrines, and from a love of 
paradox, adopted this ancient hypothesis of the 
transmigration of souls ; he merely considered 


the bare transmutation of earthly forms.* But 
among those ancient nations this doctrine rested 
on a religious basis, and was connected with a 
sentiment purely religious. In this doctrine there 
was a noble element of truth — the feeling that 
man, since he has gone astray, and wandered so 
far from his God, must needs exert many eflforts, 
and undergo a long and painful pilgrimage be- 
fore he can rejoin the Source of all perfection ; — 
the firm conviction and positive certainty that 
nothing defective, impure, or defiled with earthly 
stains can enter the pure region of perfect spi- 
rits^ or be eternally united to God ; and that 
thus, before it can attain to this blissful end, the 
immortal soul must pass through long trials and 
many purifications. It may now well be con- 
ceived, (and indeed the experience of this life 
would prove it,) that sufiering, which deeply 
pierces the soul, anguish that convulses all the 
members of existence, may contribute, or may 
even be necessary, to the deliverance of the soul 
from all alloy and pollution, as, to borrow a com- 
parison from natural objects, the generous metal 

* Schlegel here alludes to the celebrated Lessing, who in his 
work entitled ** The Education of the Human Race," had main- 
tained the doctrine of the Metempsychosis, a doctrine doubly 
absurd in a Deist, like Lessing, for the metempsychosis was a 
philosophical, though false, explanation of the primitive and 
universal dogma of an intermediate or probationary state of 
souls. — Trans. 


is melted down in fire and purged from its dross. 
It is certainly true that the greater the degene- 
racy and the degradation of man, the nearer is 
his approximation to the brute ; and when the 
transmigration of the immortal soul through the 
bodies of various animals is merely considered 
as the punishment of its former transgressions, 
we can very well understand the opinion which 
supposes that man who, by his crimes and the 
abuse of his reason, had descended to the 
level of the brute, should at last be transformed 
into the brute itself. But what could have given 
rise to the opinion that the transmigration of 
souls through the bodies of beasts was the road 
or channel of amendment, was destined to draw 
the soul nearer to infinite perfection, and even 
to accomplish its total union with the Supreme 
Being, from whom, in all appearance, it seemed 
calculated to remove it further ? And as regards 
a return to the present state and existence of 
man, what thinking person would ever wish to 
return to a life divided and fluctuating as it is, 
between desire and disgust, wasted in internal 
and external strife, and which, though brightened 
by a few scattered rays of tnith, is still encom- 
passed with the dense clouds of error ; — even 
though this return to earthly existence should 
be accomplished in the Brahminical class so 
highly revered in India, or in the princely and 
royal race so highly favoured by fortune ? There 
is in all this a strange mixture and confusion of 

VOL. I. M 


the ideas of this world with those of the next ; 
and how the latter is separated from the former 
by an impassable gulf, they seem not to have been 
sufficiently aware. Both these ancient nations, 
the Egyptians as well as the Indians, regarded 
with few exceptions, the Metempsychosis, not 
as an object of joyful hope, but radier as a car 
lamity impending over the soul ; and whether 
they considered it to be a punishmment for 
earthly transgressions^ or a state of probation — 
a severe but preparatory trial of purification ; 
they still looked on it as a calamity ; which to 
avert or to mitigate, they deemed no attempt, 
no act, no exertion, no sacrifice, ought to be 

In the manner, however, in which these two 
nations conceived this doctrine, there was a 
striking and fundamental difference ; and if the 
leading tenet was the same among both, the views 
which each connected with it were very dissi- 
milar. Deprived, as we are, of the old books 
and original writings of the Egyptians, we are 
unable perfectly to comprehend and seize their 
peculiar ideas on this subject, and state them 
with the same assurance as we can those of the 
Indians, whose ancient writings we now possess 
in such abundance, and which in all main points 
perfectly agree with the accounts of the ancient 
classics. But we are left to infer the ideas of 
the Egyptians on the Metempsychosis only from 
their singular treatment of the dead, and the 


bodies of the deceased; from that sepulchral 
art (if I may use the expression) which with 
them acquired a dignity and importance, and 
was carried to a pitch of refinement, such as we 
find among no other people ; from that careful 
and costly consecration of the corpse, which we 
still regard with wonder and astonishment in 
their mummies and other monuments. That all 
these solemn preparations, and the religious rites 
which accompanied them, that the inscriptions 
on the tombs and mummies had all a religious 
meaning and object, and were intimately con- 
nected with the doctrine of the transmigration 
of souls, can admit of no doubt ; though it is a 
matter of greater difficulty to ascertain with 
precision the peculiar ideas they were meant to 
express. Did the Egyptians believe that the 
soul did not separate immediately from the body 
which it had ceased to animate, but only on the 
entire decay and putrefaction of the corpse? 
Or did they wish by their art of embalmment 
to preserve the body from decay, in order to de- 
liver the soul from the dreaded transmigration ? 
The Egyptian treatment of the dead would 
certainly seem to imply a belief that, for some 
time at least after death, there existed a certain 
connection between the soul and body. Yet we 
cannot adopt this supposition to an unqualified 
extent, as it would be in contradiction with those 
symbolical representations that so frequently 
occur in Egyptian art, and in which the soul 

M 2 


immediately after death is represented as sum- 
moned before the judgment-seat of God, severely 
accused by the hostile d^mon, but defended by 
the friendly and guardian spirit, who employs 
every resource to procure the deliverance and 
acquittal of the soul. Or did the Egyptians 
think that by all these rites, as by so many ma^- 
gical expedients, they would keep off the male- 
volent fiend from the soul, and obtain for it the 
succour of good and friendly divinities? Now 
that the gates of hieroglyphic science have been 
at last opened, we may trust that a further 
progress in the science will disclose to us more 
satisfactory information on all these topics. 

The Indians, however, who ever remained 
total strangers to the mode of burial and treat- 
ment of the dead practised in Egypt, adopted a 
very different course to procure the deliverance 
of the human soul from transmigration : —they 
had recourse to philosophy — to the highest 
aspirings of thought towards God — to a total 
and lasting immersion of feeling in the unfa- 
thomable abyss of the divine essence. They 
have never doubted that by this means a per- 
fect union with the Deity might be obtained 
even in this life, and that thus the soul, freed 
and emancipated from all mutation and migra- 
tion through the various forms of animated 
nature in this world of illusion, might remain 
for ever united with its God. Such is the ob- 
ject to which all the different systems of Indian 


philosophy tend — such is the term of all their 
enquiries. This philosophy contains a multi- 
tude of the sublimest reflections on the separa- 
tion from^ all earthly things, and on the union 
with the God-head ; and there is no high con- 
ception in this department of metaphysics, un- 
known to the Hindoos. But this absorption of 
all thought and all consciousness in God — this 
solitary enduring feeling of internal and eternal 
union with the Deity, they have carried to a 
pitch and extreme that may almost be called 
a moral and intellectual self-annihilation. This 
is the^same philosophy, though in a different 
form, which in the history of European intellect 
and science, has received the denomination of 
mj/sticism. The possible excesses — the perilous 
abyss in this philosophy, have been in general 
acknowledged, and even pointed out in parti- 
cular cases, where egotism or pride has been 
detected under a secret disguise, or where this 
total abstraction of thought and feeling has 
spumed all limit, measure, and law. In general 
however, the European mind, by its more tem- 
perate and harmonious constitution, by the 
greater variety of its attainments, and above all, 
by the purer and fuller light of revealed truth, 
has beeii preserved from those aberrations of 
mysticism which in India have been carried to 
such a fearful extent, not only in speculation, 
but in real life and practice ; and which, trans- 
cending as they do all the limits of human 



nature, far exceed the bounds of possibility, or 
what men have in general considered as such. 
And the apparently incredible things which the 
Greeks related more than two thousand years 
ago, respecting the recluses of India, or Gymno- 
sophists, as they called those Yogis, are found to 
exist even at the present day ; and ocular expe- 
rience has fully corroborated the truth of their 



A comparative view of the intellectual character of the four 
principal nations in the primitive world — the Indians, the 
Chinese, the Egyptians, and the Hebrews ; next of ^the pe- 
culiar spirit and political relations of the ancient Persians. 

As, after discord had broken out among man- 
kind, humanity became split and divided into a 
multitude of nations, races, and languages, into 
hostile and conflicting tribes, castes rigidly 
separated, and classes variously divided; as 
indeed, when once we suppose this original divi- 
sion and primitive opposition in the human race, 
it could not be otherwise from the very nature 
and even destiny of man ; so in a psychological 
point of view, the moral unity of the individual 
man was broken, and his faculties of will and 
understanding became mutually opposed, or 
followed contrary courses. The whole internal 
structure of human consciousness was deranged^ 
and in the present divided state of the human 


faculties, there is no longer the full play of the 
harmonious soul — of the once unbroken spirit — 
but its every faculty hath now but a limited, or, 
to speak more properly, one half of its proper 

The restoration of the full life and entire 
operation of the divided faculties of the human 
soul must be considered now only as a splendid 
exception — the high gift of creative genius, and 
of a more than ordinary strength of character ; 
and such a reunion of faculties must be looked 
upon as the high problem which constitutes the 
ultimate object and ideal term of all the intel- 
lectual and moral exertions of man. When in 
an individual a clear, comprehensive, penetrative 
understanding, that has mastered all sound 
science, is combined with a will not only firm, 
but pure and upright, such an individual has 
attained the great object of his existence ; and 
when a whole generation, or mankind in general, 
present this harmonious concord between science 
on the one hand, and moral conduct and exter- 
nal life, or to characterize them by one word, 
the general will, on the other, which is often in 
utter hostility with science — we may then truly 
say that humanity has attained its destiny. 
The great error of ordinary philosophy, and the 
principal reason that has prevented it from ac- 
complishing its ends, is the supposition it so 
hastily admits that the consciousness of man now 
entirely changed, broken and mutilated, is the 


t ( 

' • ^ ■ ■' ' I i - > • 


same as it was originally, and as it was created 
and fashioned by its Maker ; without observing 
that, since the great primeval Revolution, man 
has not only been outwardly or historically dis- 
united, but even internally and psycholc^ically 
deranged. The moral being of man, a prey to 
internal discord, may be said to be quartered, 
because the four primary faculties of the soul 
and mind of man — Understanding and Will, 
Reason and Imagination, stand in a twofold ex- 
position one to the other, and are, if we may so 
speak, dispersed into the four regions of exist- 
ence. Reason in man is the regulating faculty 
of thought ; and so far it occupies the first place 
in life and the whole system and arrangement of 
life ; but it is unproductive in itself, and even 
in science it can pretend to no real fertility or 
immediate intuition. Imagination on the other 
hand is fertile and inventive indeed, but left to 
itself and without guidance, it is blind, and con- 
sequently subject to illusion. The best will, de- 
void of discernment and understanding, can 
accomplish little good. Still less capable of 
good is a strong, and even the strongest un- 
derstanding, when coupled with a wicked and 
corrupt character ; or should such an under- 
standing be associated with an unsteady and 
changeable will, the individual destitute of 
character, is entirely without influence. 

To prove moreover how all the other facul- 
ties of die soul, or the mind, elsewhere enume- 


rated are but the connecting links— the subor- 
dinate branches* of those four primary faculties ; 
how the general dismemberment of the human 
consciousness reaches even to them ; how they 
diverge from one another, and appear still more 
split and narrowed; to prove this would lead 
me too far, and is the less necessary, as, in the 
peculiar character of particular ages or nations, 
the historical enquirer can observe but those 
four primary faculties mentioned above, as the 
intellectual elements prevalent in each. As in 
the intellectual character of particular men, or 
in any given system of human thought, fiction, 
or science (and these can be better described 
and more closely analyzed than the fleeting and 
transient phenomena of real life and the social 
relations) ; as in every such individual produc- 
tion, I say, of human thought and human action, 
either Reason will preponderate as a systematic 
methodizer and a moral regulator, or a fertile, 
inventive Imagination will be displayed, or a 
clear, penetrative understanding, or again a pe- 
culiar energy of will and strength of character 
will be observed ; so the same holds good in the 
great whole of universal history — in the moral 
and intellectual existence — the character, or the 
mind of particular ages or nations in the ancient 

• The four secondary faculties of human consciousness are, 
according to our author, the memory, the conscience, the im- 
pulses or passions, and the outward senses. — Trans, 


This is apparent not only in the very various 
manner, in which sacred Tradition — the external 
word to man revealed— was conceived, develop- 
ed and disfigured among each of those nations ; 
but in the peculiar form and direction which the 
internal word in man — that is to say his higher 
consciousness and intellectual life assumed 
among each. Such an intellectual opposition evi- 
dently exists between those two great primitive 
nations already characterized, that inhabit the 
extreme East and South of Asia — an. opposition 
between reason and imagination. In regard to 
the intellectual and moral character of nations 
as well as of individuals, Reason is that human 
faculty which is conversant with grammatical 
construction, logical inferences, dialectic con- 
tests, systematic arrangement ; and in practical 
life it serves as the divine regulator, in so far as 
it adheres to the higher order of God. But 
when it refuses to do this, and wishes to deduce 
all from itself and its own individuality, then 
it becomes an egotistical, over-refining, selfish, 
calculating, degenerate Reason, the inventress 
of all the arbitrary systems of science and mo- 
rals, dividing and splitting every thing into sects 
and parties. Imagination must not be consi- 
dered as a mere faculty for fiction, nor confined 
to the circle of art and poetry — it includes a 
faculty for scientific discoveries, nor did a mind 
destitute of all imagination ever make a great 
scientific discovery. There is even a higher, 



purely speculative fency which finds it& proper 
sphere in a mysticism, like the Indian, that has 
already been described. Even if a mysticism, 
like that which constitutes the basis of the 
Indian philosophy, were entirely free from all 
admixture of sensual feelings, and were entirely 
destitute of images, we should certainly not be 
right in refusing on that account to imagination 
its share in this peculiar intellectual pheno- 
menon. That in the intellectual character of 
the Chinese, reason, and not imagination^ was 
the predominent element, it would, after the 
sketch we have before given of that people, and 
which was drawn from the best and most recent 
sources and authorities, be scarcely necessary 
to prove at any length — so clearly is that fact 
established. Originally when the old system of 
Chinese manners was regulated by the pure 
worship of God, not disfigured as among other 
nations by manifold fictions, but breathing the 
better spirit of Confiicius, it was undoubtedly 
in a sound, upright Reason, conformable^ to 
God, that the Chinese placed the foundation of 
their moral and political existence ; since they 
designated the Supreme Being by the name of 
Divine Reason. Although some modem writers 
in our time have, like the Chinese, applied the 
term divine reason to Almighty God ; yet I can- 
not adopt this Chinese mode of speech, since^ 
though according to the doctrine from which I 
start, and the truth of which has been all along 


pre-supposed, the living God is a spirit ; yet it 
by no means follows thence that God is Rea- 
son or Reason God. If we examine the expres- 
sion closely and in its scientific rigour, we 
can with as little propriety attribute to God the 
faculty of reason, as the faculty of imagination. 
The latter prevails in the poetical mythology of - 
ancient Paganism ; the former, when the ex- 
pression is really correct, designates rationalism '-- 
or the modern idolatry of Reason ; and to this 
indeed we niay discern a certain tendency even 
in very early times, and particularly among the 
Chinese. Among the latter people at a tolerably 
early period, a sound, just Reason conformable 
and docile to divine revelation was superseded 
by an egotistical, subtle, over-refining Reason, 
which split into hostile sects, and at last sub- 
Terted the old ediUce of sacred Tradition, to 
re-construct it on a new revolutionary plan. 

Equally, and even still more strongly, appa- 
rent is the predominance of the imaginative 
faculty among the Indians, as is seen even in 
their science and in that peculiar tendency to 
mysticism which this faculty has imparted to 
the whole Indian philosophy. The creative 
fulness of a bold poetical imagination is evinced 
by those gigantic works of architecture which 
may well sustain a comparison with the monu- 
ments of Egypt; by a poetry, which in the 
manifold richness of invention is not inferior to 
that of the Greeks, while it often approximates 


to the beauty of its forms ; and, above all, by a 
mythology which in its leading features, its 
profound import, and its general connexion re- 
sembles the Egyptian, while in its rich clothing 
of poetry, in its attractive and bewitching repre- 
sentations, it bears a strong similarity to that of 
the Greeks. This decided and peculiar cha- 
racter of the whole intellectual culture of the 
Indians, will not permit us to doubt which of 
the various faculties of the soul is there the 
ruling and preponderant element. 

A similar, and equally decided opposition in 
the intellectual character and predominant ele- 
ment of human consciousness is observed be 
tween the Hebrews and Egyptians; though 
this was an opposition of a different kind, and 
of a deeper import. To show this more clearly, 
I will take the liberty of interrupting for a mo- 
ment the order I have hitherto followed, of cha- 
racterizing each nation in regular succession, 
and with as much accuracy and fullness as 
possible; in order by a comparative view, of 
the four principal nations of remote antiquity, to 
draw such a general sketch of the first period 
of universal history as may serve at once for 
a central point in our enquiries, and for the 
ground-work of subsequent remarks. Such a 
comparison will tend to facilitate our survey of 
the primitive ages of the world : and in this 
general combination of the whole, each part 
will appear in a clearer light. 


HISTORY.' 175 

If I wished to characterize in one word the 
peculiar bearing and ruling element of the : 
Egyptian mind ; however unsatisfactory in other 
respects such general designations may be — I 
should say that the intellectual eminence of that ^ 
people was in its scientific profundity — in an 
understanding that penetraied or sought to 
penetrate by magic into all the depths and mys- 
teries of nature, even into their most hidden 
abyss. So thoroughly scientific was the whole 
leaning and character of the Egyptian mind, that 
even the architecture of this people had an astro- 
nomical import, even far more than that of the 
other nations of early antiquity. I have already 
had occasion to speak of the deep and mysteri- 
ous signification of their treatment of the dead. 
In all the natural sciences, in mathematics, as- | 
tronomy, and even in medicine, they were the 
masters of the Greeks ; and even the profound- 
est thinkers among the latter, the Pythagoreans, 
and afterwards the great Plato himself, derived ' 
from them the first elements of their doctrines, ( 
or caught at least the first outline of their mighty 
speculations. Here too, in the birth-place of 
hieroglyphics, was the chief seat of the Myste- 
ries ; and Egypt has at all times been the native 
country of many true, as well as of many false, 
secrets. These few remarks may here serve to 
characterize this people ; we shall later have 
occasion to add many minuter trails to complete 
this brief sketch of the Egyptian intellect. 
Very different was the character of the ancient 

/ < 






/ •. 

, / 

Hebrews, who, in science as well as in art, can 
sustain no comparison with those other nations we 
have spoken of, and to whom we must apply a 
very different criterion of excellence. The moral 
eminence of this people, or the part allotted to it 
in high historical destiny, lies rather in the sphere 
of will, and in a well-regulated conduct of the 
will. Moses himself was undoubtedly, as it is 
said of him, " versed in all the science of the 
Egyptians ;" for he had received a completely 
Egyptian education, which, by the care of an 
Egyptian princess, was of the highest and 
politest kind, and consequently, as the customs 
of the country imply, extremely scientific. Even 
his name according to the credible testimony of 
several ancient writers, was originally Egyptian, 
and afterwards hebraized ; for Moyses^* as he is 
called in the Greek version of the Seventy, sig- 
nifies in Egyptian, ofie saved out of the water. 
But the Hebrew people were far from possess- 
\ ing that Egyptian science of which Moses was 
so great a master ; on the contrary, the Jewish 
legislator seemed to consider the greater part of 
that foreign science, in which he himself was so 
well versed, as of little service to his object; 
and in many instances sought to withhold this 
knowledge from his nation. Many of the Mo- 
saic precepts indeed, especially such as have a 
reference to external life, to subsistence, diet 
and healthy and which are in part at least 



' anded on reasons of climate, are entirely con- 
formable to Egyptian usages, and are found to 
have been practised among that people; for 
these ancient law-givers and founders of Asiatic 
states did not scruple to give even medical pre- 
cepts in their codes of moral legislation^ that 
embraced the minutest circumstances of life. 
Bujt to these precepts and usages the Hebrew 
legislator has imparted in general a higher im- 
port and a religious consecration. We must not 
suppose, however, that he has taken all his laws 
from this source, or make this a matter of re- 
proach to the Jewish law-giver, as many critics 
of our own times have done ; for, to minds en- 
slaved by the narrow spirit of the age, difficult, 
indeed, is it to transport themselves into that 
remote antiquity. It would be a great error, 
also, to suppose äiat all the science which Moses 
had acquired by his Egyptian education, he 
wished to conceal from his nation, and reserve 
for the secret irse of himself and a few confi- 
dential friends. It is evident, if we regard the 
subject only in an historical point of view, that 
a higher and better element, completely foreign 
to the science of Egypt, animated and pervaded 
all the views and conduct of this great man, 
whether we consider him as the founder and 
law-giver of the Hebrew state, or as the guide 
and instructoi* of the Hebrew people. In the 
forty years' sojourn of Moses in the Arabian 
desert with Jethro, one of whose seven daughters 

VOL. I. N 


he married, and who has rightly been accounted 
an Emir, or petty pastoral prince of Arabia, this 
higher principle silently grew up and expanded 
in the breast of this exalted man, until it at last 
burst forth in all the majesty of divine power. 
All that appeared to Moses truly sound and ex- 
cellent in Egyptian customs and science, or ser- 
viceable to his purpose, he adopted and used with 
choice and circumspection. But all that was in- 
compatible with his designs, and which he knew 
to be corrupt, he strenuously rejected, or he 
gave to it a totally different application, and 
established a higher principle in its room. 

In the same way he was not disconcerted by 
the secret arts of the Egyptian sorcerers, for it 
was no difficult matter for him to vanquish them 
in the presence of the king by the higher power 
of God. It is thus we should understand the 
conduct of Moses in reference to the science 
and modes of thinking of the Egyptians ; and 
that conduct will be found not only perfectly 
irreproachable in a human point of view, but 
entitled to our warmest admiration. If for in- 
stance we suppose that Moses, the first and 
greatest writer in the Hebrew tongue, — the 
founder and legislator of that language also, was, 
if not the first that discovered, at least the 
first that fixed and regulated, the Hebrew alpha- 
bet, we may easily conceive him to have taken 
the first ten, as well as the last twelve Hebrew 
letters from the Egyptian hieroglyphics ; for 


even at that early period, the hieroglyphics, 
while they retained their original symbolical 
meaning, had acquired an alphabetical use. 
This supposition is at least extremely probable, 
for many of the Hebrew letters are found in 
precisely the same form in the hieroglyphical 
alphabet ; though our knowledge of this alpha- 
bet is still so very imperfect, and though we 
have deciphered but perhaps a tenth part of all 
the various literal symbols which may there 
exist. But to continue our supposition, Moses 
did not wish to take from the Egyptian hierogly- 
phics more than the twenty -two literal signs ; he 
neglected the other hieroglyphs and natural 
isymbols, for he had no need of them. On the 
contrary, he studiously excluded all natural 
symbols from his religious system, and prohi- 
bited with inexorable severity the chosen peo- 
ple the use of images and all that was most 
remotely connected with such a service. He 
well foresaw that if he made the slightest con- 
cession on this point, and permitted the least 
indulgence, or left the slightest opening to the 
pass:ion for natural and symbolical representa- 
tions, it would be impossible to set any restraint 
on this indulgence, and that the Hebrews when 
they had once swerved from the path marked 
out for them, would follow the same course as 
the Pagan nations. The subsequent history of 
the Jewish nation sufficiently proves how im- 
portant and necessary was that part of the 



Mosaic legislation which proscribed all that wad 
connected with the religious use of images^ 
But wherein consisted the peculiar bent of 
mind, the moral and intellectual character 
traced out to the Hebrews by their legislator 
and all their Patriarchs ? Completely opposed 
to the Egyptian science — to the Egyptian under- 
standing, that dived and penetrated by magical 
power into the profoundest secrets and myste- 
ries of nature, the ruling element of the Hebrew 
Spirit wa9 the will — a will that sought with sin- 
cerity, earnestness and ardour, its God and its 
Maker, far exalted above all nature, went after 
his light when perceived, and followed with 
faith, with resignation, and with unshaken cou- 
rage, his commands, and the slightest sugges- 
tions of his paternal guidance, whether through 
the stormy sea, or across the savage desert. I 
do not mean to assert that the whole nation of 
the Jews was thoroughly, constantly, and uni- 
formly actuated and animated with such a pure 
spirit and such pure feelings — ^many pages of 
their history attest the contrary, and but too 
well manifest how often they were in contradic- 
tion with themselves. But this and this alone 
was the fundamental principle, the first mighty 
impulse, the permanent course of conduct whioh 
Moses and the other leaders and chosen men 
anmog the Hebrews sought to trace out to their 
people — this was the abiding character, the 
great distinctive mark which they had stamped 

X. M.< -'^ / r ' HISTORY. /: . ^ / a;) ^ r ,jai 

upon their nation. This too, was the distinguish- 
ing character of all the primitive Patriarchs, 
as represented in the sacred writings of the Old 

Independently of particular traits of national 
character, and the special destiny of nations, it 
is philosophically certain, or if we may so speak, 
it is a truth grounded on psychological princi- 
ples, that t^ie will and not the understanding is 
in man the principal o^an for the perception 
of divine truths. And by this, we understand a 
wiirihat seeks out with all the earnestness of 
desire the light of truth, which is God, and when 
that light has appeared clear, or begins to appear 
clear, follows with fidelity its guidance, ancl lis- 
tens to the internal voice of truth and all its high 
inspirations. I affirm that in man the under- ^ 
standing is not the principal organ for the per- 
ception of divine truth — that is to say, the mw- 
derstanding alofie. On the understanding alone, 
indeed, the light may dawn and may even be re- 
ceived — but if the will be not there— if the will 
pursue a separate and contrary course ; that light 
of higher knowledge is soon obscured, and soon 
becomes clouded and unsteady ; or, if it should 
still gleam, it is changed into the treacherous 
meteor of illusion. Without the co-operation of a 
good will, this light cannot be preserved or main- 
tained in its purity ; nay, the will must make 
the first advances towards truth ; it must lay the 
first basis for the higher science of divine truth. 


and religious knowledge. In other words, as 
the God whom we acknowledge and revere as 
the Supreme Being is a living God ; so truth, 
which is God, is a living truth — it is only from 
life that it can be derived, by life attained, and 
in life learned. In the present state of man's 
existence, in this period of the world — a period 
of discord, of sunken power, of misery and delu- 
sion — a period, which, as the Indians designate 
our fourth and last epoch of the world by the 
name of Caliyug, is the period of predominant 
woe and misfortune ; in this present life, the 
path marked out for man as leading to the 
knowledge of divine truth and to a higher life, 
is the path of patience, resignation, and perse- 
verance in the struggle of life — a toilsome pro- 
bation cheered and supported by hope. Desire 
or love is the beginning or root of all higher 
science or divine knowledge; perseverance in 
desire, in faith, and in the combat of life forms 
the mid- way of our pilgrimage ; but the term of 
this pilgrimage is only a term of hope. This 
necessary period of preparation, of slow and 
irksome preparation, and gradual progression, 
cannot be avoided or overleaped by the most 
heroic exertions of man. The supreme perfec- 
tion and full contentment of the soul — the inti- 
mate union of the spirit with God — and God 
himself cannot be thus grasped, wrested, and 
held fast by a violent concentration of all our 
thoughts on a single point, by a species of arro- 


gated omnipotence — the self-potency of obsti- 
nate and tenacious thought; as the Indian 
philosophy believes, and as the modern Geiman 
philosophy* for some time seemed to believe, or 
at least attempted. 

The real character, and even history of the 
Jewish people are frequently misunderstood, 
and ill appreciated; because the men of our 
times, who in all their speculations, and what- 
ever may be the nature of their opinions, incline 
ever more and more to the spirit of the ahsolutej 
are unable to seize and enter into the idea of 
that epoch of preparation and progressive ad- 
vancement which was as indispensable for the 
perfection of intellect and knowledge, as of mo- 
ral life itself. The whole historical existence 
and destiny of the Hebrews is confined within 
one of those great epochs of providential dis- 
pensation—it marks but one stage in the won- 
derful march of humanity towards its divine 
goal. The whole existence of this people turned 
on the pivot of hope, and the keystone of its 
moral life projected its far shadows into futurity. 
Herein consists the mighty difference between 
the sacred traditions of the Hebrews and those 
of the other ancient Asiatic nations. When we 
examine the primitive records and sacred books 

* Schlegel here alludes to that sort of intuitive mysticism in 
matters of religion, which was the boast of the adherents of 
Schelling's philosophy, — Trans, 

4-- ■(■;■" :■;■:.,■ , 

( ' •. . .' ♦ / 


^ 184 



7. ■-- 


of these nations, who were so much nearer Üie 
fountain-head of primitive revelation than the 
later nations of the po];ished West ; — when we 
leave out of sight the moral precepts and ordi- 
nances of liturgy comprised In these books ; we 
shall find their historical view is turned back- 
ward towards the glorious Past, and that they 
breathe throughout a melancholy regret for all 
that man and the world have since lost. And 
undoubtedly these primitive traditions contain 
many ancient and beautiful reminiscences of pri- 
meval happiness, for even Nature herself was 
then far difierent from what she is at present, 
more lovely, more akin to the world of spirits, 
peopled and encompassed with celestial genii ; 
and not only the small garden of Eden, but all 
creation, enjoyed a state of Paradisaic innoicence 
and happy infancy, ere strife had commenced 
in the world, and ere death was known. Out of 
the multitude of these holy and affecting recol- 
lections, and out of the whole body of primitive 
traditions, Moses, by a wise law of economy, has 
retained but very little in the revelation, which 
was specially destined for the Hebrew people, 
and has communicated only what appeared to 
him absolutely and indispensably necessary for 
his nation, and for his particular designs, or 
rather the designs of God, in the conduct ofthat 
nation. But the little he has said — the significant 
brevity of the first pages of the ^^losaic history, 
involves much profound truth fbr us in these 


later ages, and comprises very many solutions 
as to the great problems of primitive history, 
did we but know how to extract the simple sense 
with like simplicity. But every thing else, and 
in general the whole tenour of the Mosaic writ- 
ings, like the existence of the Hebrew nation, 
was formed for futurity — and to this were the 
views of the Jewish legislator almost exclusively 
directed. And as all the sacred writings of the 
Old Testament, which, by this direction towards 
futurity, were even in their outward form so 
clearly distinguishable from the sacred books and 
primitive records of other ancient nations ; as all 
these sacred writings, I say, from the first law- 
giver, who in a high spiritual sense, delivered 
from the Egyptian bondage of nature his people 
chosen for that especial object, down to the 
royal and prophetic Psalmist, and down to that 
last voice of warning and of promise that re- 
sounded in the desert, were both in their form 
and meaning eminently prophetic ; so the whole 
Hebrew people may, in a lofty sense, be called 
prophetic, and have been really so in their histo- 
rical existence and wonderful destiny. 

To these four nations, whom we have com- 
pared, in respect to the different shape and 
course which the primitive revelation and sacred 
tradition assumed among them, as well as in 
respect to the diversities in their intellectual 
development, — the contrarieties in the internal 
Word, and higher consciousness of each; — to 


these nations, in order to complete the instruc- 
tive parallel, we may now add a fifth — the 
Persians; a people which in some points was 
similar, in others dissimilar to one or other 
of these nations, and which bearing a nearer 
affinity to some in its doctrines and views of 
life, or even in its language and turn of fancy, 
and more closely connected with others in the 
bonds of political intercourse, may be said to 
occupy a middle place among these nations. 
In ancient history, the Persians form the ^point 
of transition from the first to the second epocE" 
of the world ; and in this they hold the first 
place, in so far as they commenced the career 
of universal conquest ; a passion which passed 
from them to the Greeks, and from these in 
a still fuller extent to the Romans, like some 
noxious humour — some deadly disease trans- 
mitted with augmented virulence through every 
age from generation to generation; and even 
in modern times, this hereditary malady in the 
human race has again broken out. 

But, considered in a spiritual point of view, 
and with regard to their religion and sacred 
traditions, the Persians must be classed with 
the four, great nations of the primitive world, 
and can be compared with them only; for, in 
this respect, they so totally differed from the 
Phoenicians and Greeks, that no comparison can 
be insi|ituted between them and the latter ; and 
no parallel, where the objects are so unlike, 


can be productive of any useful result. To the 
Indians they bore the strongest resemblance in 
their language, poetry, and poetic Sagas ; their 
conquests, which stretched far into the provinces 
of central Asia, brought them in contact with 
the remote eastern Asia, and the celestial Em- 
pire of the Chinese, so completely sequestered 
from the western world ; with Egypt they were 
involved in political contests, till they finally 
subdued it — and in their religious doctrines and 
traditions, they more nearly "approximated to 
the Hebrews ; or their views of God and religion 
wereTmore akin to the Hebrew doctrines than 
those of any other nation. Of the King of 
Heaven, and the Father of eternal light, and of 
the pure world of light, of the eternal Word by 
which all things were created, of the seven 
mighty spirits that stand next to the throne of 
Light and Omnipotence, and of the glory of 
those heavenly hosts which encompass that 
throne ; next, of the origin of evil and of the 
Prince of darkness, the monarch of those rebel- 
lious spirits — the enemies of all good ; they in 
a great measure entertained completely similar, 
or at least very kindred, tenets to those of the 
Hebrews. That, with all these doctrines much 
may have been, or really was, combined, which 
the ancient Hebrews and even we would account 
erroneous, is very possible, and indeed may 
almost naturally be surmised ; but this by no 
means impairs that strong historical resemblance 


we here splBak of. A circumstance well worthy 

of observation is the manner in which Cyrus 

/and tlie Persians are represented in the historical 

-"'^ books of the Old Testament, and are there so 
clearly distinguished from all other Pagan na- 
tions. Among the latter they can with no pro- 
priety be numbered ; nay, they felt towards the 

^— Egyptian Idolatry as strong an abhorence, and 
in political life manifested it more violently, 
than the Hebrews themselves. During their 
\ sway in Egypt, this Idolatry was an object of 
their persecution, and under Cambyseß, they 
pursued a regular plan for its utter extirpation. 
Even Xerxes in his expedition into Greece, de- 

"^ stroyed many temples and erected fire-chapels 
in the whole course of his march ; for it cannot 
be questioned but religious views were ^piinci- 
pally instrumental in giving birth to the Persian 
conquests, at least to those of an earlier date. 
This is a circumstance which should not be 
overlooked, if we would rightly understand the 
whole course of these events, and penetrate into 
the true spirit and original design of these 
mighty movements in tlie world. From their 
fire-worship, we must not be led to accuse the 
ancient Persians of an absolute deification of 
the elements, and of a sensual idolatry of nature ; 
in their religion, which was so eminently spi- 
; ritual, the earthly fire and the earthly sacri- 

( fice were but the signs and the emblems of ano- 
ther devotion and of a higher Power. Symbols 


and figurative representations were in general j 
not so rigidly excluded from their religious sys- 
tem, as from that of the Hebrews. Yet, among 
the Persians, these had a totally different cha- 
racter from those in the Indian or Egyptian 
idolatry. The generous character of the ancient , 
Persians, their life and their manners, which 
display such an exalted sense of nature^ possess 
in themselves sometiiing peculiarly winning 
and captivating for the feelings. The leading 
result of the few observations we have made 
may be comprised in the following general re- 
marks : — 

If a poetical recollection of Paradise sufficed 
for the moral destiny of man — if the pure feel- 
ing, enthusiasm, and admiration for sideral na- 
ture were alone capable of revealing all the 
glory of the celestial abodes, and of tiie heavenly 
hosts, of opening to mental eyes the gates of 
eternal light — if this were the one thing neces- 
sary, and of the first necessity for man — if it 
were, or could be conformable to the will of God, 
that the eternal empire of pure light should be 
diffused over the whole earth by the enthusiasm 
t)f martial glory, by the generous valour and 
heroic magnanimity of a chivalric nobility, such 
as the Persian undoubtedly was — then indeed 
would the Persians hold the pre-emiiifince, or be 
entitled to claim the first rank among those 
four nations that were nearest the source of 
the primitive revelation. But it is otherwise or- 


dained ; the path alone fit and salutary for man, 
and evidently marked out by the will of God, is 
the path of patience and perseverance — the un- 
remitting struggle of slow preparation. Thus, 
as we may easily conceive, it was not the Per- 
sians, distinguished as that nation was by its 
noble character, and by its spiritual views of 
life ; it was not the Egyptians, versed and initi- 
ated as they were in all the mysteries of nature 
and all the depths of science ; — but it was the 
politically insignificant, and, in an earthly point 
of view, the far less important, almost imper- 
ceptible, people of the Hebrews, that were chosen 
to be the medium of transition — the connecting 
link between the primitive revelation and the 
full development of religion in modern times, 
and its last glorious expansion towards the close 
of ages. They are now the carriers, and, we 
may well say, the porters of the designs ofLPro- 
vidence, destined to bear the torch of primitive 
tradition and sacred promise from the beginning 
to the consummation of the world : — while the 
once magnanimous nation of the Persians has 
sunk from that pure knowledge of truth, and 
those high spiritual notions of religion it once 
entertained, down to the anti-chri^ian supersti- 
tion of Mahomet ; and the profound people of 
Egypt has become totally extinct, and is not to 
be traced even in the small community of Coptic 
Christians, who have preserved a feeble rem- 
nant of the ancient language. 


Since now this general sketch of the various 
and contTwry directions which the human mind 
followed in the first ages of history has been 
rendered more clear and definite by a compara- 
tive view of the five principal nations of the 
primitive world, it only remains for us to sub- 
join some important traits in the history of 
each, to complete this picture of the earliest 
nations ; in order to pass over, along with the 
Persians, to the second period of the ancient 
world — a period which is so much nearer to us, 
and appears äo much more clear and open to 
our apprehension. 

The origin of ancient heathenism we must 
seek among the Indians, and not among the 
Chinese, for the reason we have before alleged : 
namely, that, in the primitive ages, the Chinese 
observed a pure, simple, and Patriarchal wor- 
ship ofjthe Deity ; and it was only when under 
the first general and powerful Emperor of China, 
the rationalism introduced by the sect of Taosse 
had brought about a complete revolution m the 
whole system of Chinese faith, manners, and cus- 
toms, that a real form of Paganism — the Indian 
superstition of Buddha — was subsequently intro- 
duced into that country. This subversion of the 
whole system of ancient government — of ancient 
doctrines — and of what among the Chinese was 
inseparably allied with the latter, the early sys- 
tem of writing, was a real revolution in the public 
mind. As the general burning of the sacred 



books, and the persecution and execution of 
many of the learned were measures directed 
solely against the school of Confucius, that ad- 
hered to the old system of morals and govern- 
ment ; it is by no means an arbitrary and baseless 
hypothesis to ascribe to the antagonist party, the 
rationalist sect of Taosse, a great share in this 
violent moral and political revolution ; inasmuch 
as the powerful Emperor Chi-ho-angti must 
have been quite in the interest of this party. 
Although the erection of the great wall of China, 
and the settlement of a Chinese colony in Ja- 
pan, gave external splendour to his reign ; yet 
at home its despotic violence rendered it tho- 
roughly revolutionary. And so this mighty 
catastrophe, which occurred two thousand years 
ago in the Chinese empire, widely removed as 
it is from us by the distance of space and time, 
and different as is the form under which it oc- 
curred, bears nevertheless no slight resemblance 
or analogy to much we have seen and experi- 
enced in our own times. To explain the con- 
tradiction which seems involved in the fact, that 
on one hand we have commended that pure, 
simple, and Patriarchal worship of the Deity by 
the Chinese in the primitive period ; and much 
that denoted the comparatively high state of 
civilization among this people, together with a 
science perverted and degenerate indeed, yet 
carried to a high degree of refinement ; and that, 
oü the other hand, we have pointed out many 


tilings in their primitive writing-system, which 
displayed a great rudeness and poverty of ideas, 
and a very confined circle of symbols, we may 
observe that it is with China, as with many other 
ancient civilized countries, where in the back- 
ground of a ruling and highly polished people, 
a dose investigation will discover a race of 
primitive inhabitants more barbarous, or at 
least less advanced in intellectual refinement. 
Such a race is mentioned by historians as exist- 
ing in different provinces of China under the 
name of Miao — they are precisely characterized 
as an earlier, less polished race of inhabitants, 
and they have indeed been preserved down to 
later times. The historical enquirer meets almost 
always in the first ages of the world with two 
strata of nations, consisting of an elder and a 
younger race ; — in the same way as the geolo- 
gist in his investigation of the earth's surface 
can clearly distinguish a twofold formation of 
mountains and separate periods in the forma- 
tion of that surface. Thus in China the more 
polished new-comers and founders of the subse- 
quent nation and state, accommodated them* 
selves in many respects to the manners and 
customs, the language and even perhaps symbo- 
lical writing of these half savages, as the Euro- 
peans have partly done, when they have wished 
to civilize and instruct the Mexicans and other 
barbarous nations; and as men must always 
act in similar cases, if they would wish success 

VOL. I. o 





to crown their benevolent endeavours. All re- 
searches into the origin of the Chinese nation 
and Chinese civilization ever conduct the en- 
quirer to the north-west, where the province of 
Shensee is situated, and to the countries lying 
beyond. Thus this only serves to confirm the 
opinion, highly probable in itself, and supported 
by such manifold testimony, of the general deri- 
vation of all Asiatic civilization from the great 
central region of Western Asia. 

Agreeably to this opinion, the Indian tradi- 
tions, as we have already mentioned, deduce the 
historical descent of Indian civilization from 
the northern mountainous range of the Hima- 
laya and the country northwards ; and in sup- 
port of this tradition, we may cite the vast ruins, 
the immense subterraneous temples hewn out of 
the rock, in the neighbourhood of the old and 
celebrated city of Bamyan. Though the latter 
city be not in the proper India, but more north- 
ward towards Cabul, in Hindu Cutch, still its 
ruins present to the eye of the spectator the 
peculiar forms and structure of the architecture 
and colossal images of India, (whereof they con- 
tain a great abundance,) such as are observed 
in the other great monumental edifices of the 
Indians at EUore, in the centre of the southern 
province of Deccan, in the Isles of Salsette 
and Elephanta in the neighbourhood of Bombay, 
in the island of Ceylon, and near Mavalipuram 
on the coast of Madras. All these immense tern- 


pies, which have been hewn in the cavities of 
rocks, or have been cut out of the solid rock ; 
and where often many temples are ranged above 
and beside the other, together with the buildings 
for the use of the Brahmins and the swarms of 
pilgrims, occupy in length and breadth the vast 
«pace of half a German mile, and even more. 
These temples fcnrm the regular places of Hindoo 
pilgrimage, whither immense multitudes of pil- 
grims flock from all the countries of India ; 
and an English writer who wrote as an eye 
witness, estimated the multitude at the almost 
incredible number of two millions and a half. 
Together with the colossal images of gods and 
of sacred animals, such as the elephant and 
the nandi, or the bull sacred to Siva, we find 
the rocky walls of these subterraneous temples 
adorned with an almost incalculable number of 
carved figures, representing various scenes fi'om 
the Indian mythology« These figures jut so 
prominently from the rock, that it would almost 
seem as if their backs alone joined the wall. 
The multitude of figures is exceedingly great, 
and in the ruins near Bamyan, the number is 
compitted at twelve thousand ; though this cal- 
culation may not perhaps be very accurate, for 
the thick forests which surround these now de- 
solate ruins are often the repair of tigers and 
serpents, and thus all approach to them is 
attended with danger. Besides in the ruins of 
Bamyan many of the figures, and even some of 

o 2 


the colossal idols, have been destroyed by the 
Mahometans ; for whenever their armies chance 
to pass by these ruins, they never fail to point 
their cannon against the images of those fabu- 
lous divinities, which all Mahometans hold in so 
much abhorrence. 

As to architecture, the perfectioü which this 
art attained among the Indians is evident from 
the beautiful workmanship and varied decora- 
tion of their columns, whole rows of which, like 
a forest of pillars support the massy roof of 
upper rock. Notwithstanding the essential dif- 
ference which must exist in the architecture of 
temples hewn out of rocks, or constructed in the 
cavities of rocks, we shall find that the prevail-' 
\ ing tendency in Indian architecture is towards 
the pyramidal form. On the other hand, it is 
observedlhat the art of vaulting appears to 
have been less known, or at least not to have 
attained great perfection, or been in frequent use. 
We find, too, among these monuments, vast walls 
constructed out of immense blocks of stone, and 
rudely cut fragments of rock, not unlike the 
old Cyclopean structures. The amateurs of such 
subjects have acquired a more accurate know- 
ledge of them by the splendid illustrations which 
the English have published ; for a mere verbal 
description can with difficulty convey a just 
notion of the nature and peculiar character of 
this architecture. Of the political history of 
India, little can be said, for the Indians scarcely 


possess any regular history — any works to 
which we should give the denomination of his- 
torical ; for their history is interwoven and al- 
most confounded with mythology, and is to be 
found only in the old mythological works, espe- 
cially in their two great national and epic 
poems, the Ramayan and the Mahabarat, and 
in the eighteen Puranas (the most select and 
classical of the popular and mythological legends 
of India), and perhaps in the traditionary his- 
tory of particular dynasties and provinces; 
and even the works we have mentioned are not 
merely of a mytho- historical, but in a great 
measure of a theological and philosophical pur- 
port. The more modern history of Hindostan, 
from the first Mahometan conquest at the com- 
mencement of the eleventh century of our era, 
can indeed be traced with pretty tolerable cer- 
tainty ; but as this portion of Indian history is 
unconnected with, and incapable of illustrating 
the true state and progress of the intellectual re- 
finement of the Hindoos, it is of no importance 
to our immediate object. The more ancient his- 
tory of that country, particularly in the earlier 
period, is mostly fabulous, or, to characterize it 
by a softer, and at the same time, more correct 
name, a history purely mythic and traditionary ; 
and it would be no easy task to divest the real 
and authentic history of ancient India of the 
garb of mythology and poetical tradition ; a 
task which at least has not yet been executed 
vith adequate critical acumen. 


Chronology, too, shares the same fiSte with 
the sister science of history, for in the early 
period it is fabulous, and in the more modern^ it 
is often not sufficiently precise and accurate. 
The number of years assigned to the first three 
epochs of the world must be considered as pos* 
sessing an astronomical import, rather than as 
furnishing any criterion for an historical use. 
It is only the fourth and last period of the world 
— the age of progressive misery and all-prevail- 
ing woe, which the Indians term Caliyug, that 
we can in any way consider an historical epoch ; 
and this, the duration of which is computed at 
four thousand years, began about a thousand 
years before the Christian era. Of the progress 
and term of this period of the world, considered 
in reference to the history of mankind, the 
Indians entertain a very simple notion. They 
believe that the condition of mankind will be* 
come at first much worse, but will be afterwards 
ameliorated. The regular historical epoch when 
the chronology of India begins to acquire greater 
certainty, and from which indeed it is ordinarily 
computed, is the age of King Y ikramaditya, 
who reigned in the more civilized part of India, 
somewhat earlier than the Emperor Augustus in 
the West, perhaps about sixty years before our 
era. It was at the court of this monarch that 
flourished nine of the most celebrated sages and 
poets of the second era of Indian literature; 
and among these was Calidas, the author of the 
beautiful dramatic poem of Sacontala, so gene- 


rally known by the English and German trans- 
lations. It was in the age of Yikramaditya, 
that the later poetry and literature of India, of 
which Calidas was so bright an ornament, 
reached its i\ill bloom. The elder Indian poetry, 
particularly the two great epic poems above- 
mentioned, entirely belong to the early and more 
fabulous ages of the world ; so far at least as the 
poets themselves are assigned to those ages, and 
figure in some degree, as fabulous personages. 
We may, however, observe that in the style of 
po(Btry, in att, and even in the language itself, 
there reigns a very great difference betwewi these 
primitive heroic poems, and the works of Calidas 
and other contemporary poets — the difference is 
at least as great as that which exists between 
Homer and Theocritus, or the other Bucolick 
poets of Greece. The oldest of the two epic 
poems of the Indians, the Ramayaria by the 
poet Yalmiki, celebrates Rama, his love for a 
royal princess, the beautiful Bita, and his con- 
queist of Lanka, or the modern Isle of Ceylon. 
Although in the old historical Sagas of the 
Ihdians, we find jxientioii made of far-ruling 
moharchs and all-conquering heroes ; still these 
traditioiis seem toi shew, as in the instance first 
cited, that in the oldest, as ill the latest, times 
pridr to foreign conquest, India was not united 
in one gteät monarchy, but was generally par- ' 
ceiled out into ä variety of states ; and this fact 
servers to prove that such has ever been in gene- 

• t 


ral the political condition of that country. The 
whole body of ancient Indian traditions and 
mythological history is to be found in the other 
great epic of the Indians, the Maha - Barata, 
whose author, or at least compiler, was Vyasa, 
the founder of the Yedanta philosophy, the most 
esteemed, and most prevalent of all the philoso- 
phical systems of the Hindoos. This leads us 
to observe a second remarkable, and singularly 
characteristic, feature in Indian intellect and 
Indian literature, so widely remote from the 
relation between poetry and philosophy among 
other nations, particularly the Greeks. This is 
the clo^ connection, and almost entire fusion 
of poetry and philosophy among this people. 
Many of their more ancient philosophical works 
were composed in metre, though they possess 
productions of a later period, which display the 
highest logical subtilty and analysis. Their 
great old poems, whatever may be the beauty of 
the language, and the captivating interest of the 
narrative, are generally imbued with, and per* 
vaded by, the most profound philosophy ; and 
among this people, even the history of Metaphy- 
sics ascends as far back as the mythic ages. This 
at least holds good of the authors, to whom the 
invention of the leading philosophical systems 
has been ascribed; although the subsequent 
commentaries belong to a much later and more 
historical period. Thus the Mahabarata contains 
as an episode a didactic poem, or philosophic 


cal dialogae between the fabulous personages 
and heroes of the epic» known in Europe by 
the name of the Bhagavatgita, and which has 
recently been ably edited and expounded in 
Germany, by Augustus William Von Schlegel, 
and William Yon Humboldt. The leading prin- 
ciples of the Yedanta philosophy are copiously 
set forth in this poem, which may be regarded 
as a manual of Indian mysticism ; for such is 
the ultimate object of all Indian philosophy; 
and of this peculiar propensity of the Hindoo 
mind we have already cited some remarkable 
traits. For the accomplishment of our more 
immediate object, and in order rightly to under- 
stand the true place which the intellectual cul- 
ture of India occupies in primitive history, a 
general knowledge of Indian philosophy is far 
more important and necessary, than any minute 
analysis and criticism on the manifold beauties 
of the very rich poetry of that country ; and 
this philosophy we shall now endeavour to cha- 
racterize according to its various systems, and 
in its main and essential features. 




Of the Hindoo Philosophy. — Dissertation on Languages. — Of 
the peculiar political Constitution and Theocratic Govern- 
ment of the Hebrews. — ^Of the Mosaic Genealogy of Na- 

The Indian philosophy, from the place it holds 
in the primitive intellectual history of Asia, and 
from the insight it gives us into the character 
and peculiar tendency of the human mind in that 
early period^ possesses a high, almost higher, 
interest than that oflTered by the beautiful and 
captivating poetry of this ancient people. How- 
ever, even the poetry of the Indians contains 
much that refers to, or bears the stamp of, that 
peculiar mystical philosophy which we have 
more than once spoken of. We shall give a 
more correct and comprehensive idea of the 
Indian philosophy, if we observe, beforehand, 
that the six Indian systems which are the most 
prevalent and the most celebrated, and which, 


though in many points differing from the Y edas, 
are not to be regarded as entirely reprehensible 
or heterodox, the six Indian systems» we say, 
must be classed in couples, and that the first of 
each pair treats of the beginning of the subject 
discussed in the second, and the second contains 
the development and extension of the principles 
laid down in the first, or applies those principles 
to another and higher object of enquiry. In the 
whole Indian philosophy, there are in fact only 
three different modes of thought, or three sys- 
tems absolutely divergent , and we shall give a 
sufficiently clear idea of these systems, if we 
say that the ^rst is founded on_n&ture,— the 
second on thought, or on the thinking self ; and 
the third attaches itself exclusively to the reve- 
lation comprised in the V^as. The first sys- 
iemVhich seems to be one of tlie most ancient, I 
bears the name of the Sanchyd philosophy — 
a name which signifies '' the philosophy of Numr 
bers." This is not to be understood in the Py- 
thagorean sense, that numbers are the. principle 
of all things, or according to the very similar 
principle laid down in the Chinese books of 
I — King, where we find the eight koua, or the 
symbolic primary lines of all existence. But 
the Sanchyä system bears this name because 
it reckons successively the first principles of all 
things and of all being to the number of four or 
five-and-twenty. Among these first principles^ 
it assigns the highest place to Nature — the se- 



cond to understandings and by this is meant not 
merely human understanding, but general and 
even Infinite Intelligence ; so that we may con- 
sider this system as a very partial philosophy of 
Nature ; and indeed it has been regarded by 
some Indian writers as atheistical — a censure 
in which the learned Englishman, Mr. Cole- 
brooke, (to whose extracts and notices we are 
indebted for our most precise information on 
this whole branch of Indian literature)* seems 
almost inclined to concur. This system was 
however, by no means a coarse materialism, or 
a denial of the Divinity and of every thing sa- 
cred. The doubts expressed in the passs^es 
cited by Mr. Colebrooke, are directed far more 
against the Creation than against God; they 
regard the motive which could have induced the 
Supreme Being, the Spirit of Infinite perfection 
to create the external world, and the possibility 
of such a creation. 

The Sanchyd Philosophy would be more 
properly designated in our modern Philosophic 
phraseology as a system of complete Dualism, 
where two substances ajre represented as co- 
( ^ \ existent — on one hand, a^ self^xistent energy of 
Nature, which emanated, or eternally emahsctes, 

* The valuable articles by this great Sanscrit scholar on 

. Hindoo philosophy, have excited a greater sensation in France 

^nd Germany, than in his own country. It would be well if the 

Auatic Society were to pubHsh those articles in a separate form. 




from itself; and on the other hand, eternal truth, [^^ ) 
or fEe^upreme and Infinite Mind. 

The^irdlan~fTiiIosopher& in general were so 
inclined to regard the whole outward world of 
sense as the product of illusion, as a vain and - 
idle apparition, tEat we can well imgaine they 
were unaHe to reconcile the creation of such 
a world (which appeared to them a world of 
darkness, or perhaps, on a somewhat higher 
scale, as an intermediate state of illusion) with 
their mystical notion of the infinite perfection 
of the Supreme Being and Eternal Spirit. For 
even in ethics, they were wont to place the idea 
of Supreme Perfection in a state of absolute re- 
pose, but not (at least to an equal degree) in the 
state of active energy or exertion. Great as the 
error of such a system of dualism may be — there 
is yet a mighty difference between a philosophy 
which denies, or at least misconceives, the Crea- 
tion, and one which denies the existence of the 
Deity ; for such atheism never occurred to the 
minds of those philosophers. The doctrine of 
a primary self-existing energy in Nature, or of 
the eternity of the Universe, may in a practical 
point of view, appear as gross an error ; but in 
philosophy we must make accurate distinctions, 
and forbear to place this ancient dualism on the 
same level with that coarse materialism — that 
destructive and atheistic Atomical philosophy, 
or any other doctrines professed by the later 
sects of a dialectic Rationalism. 





Valuable^ undoubtedly, as are such extracts 
and communications from the originals in a 
branch of human science still so little known, 
yet they will not alone suffice, and, without a 
certain philosophic flexibility of talent in the 
enquirer, they will fail to affcurd him a proper 
insight into the true nature, the real spirit and 
tendency of those ancient systems of philosophy. 
That the Indian philosophy, even wh^i it has 
started from the most opposite principles, and 
when its circuitous or devious course has branch- 
ed more or less widely from the common path, 
is sure to wind round, and fall into the one 
general track— the uniform term of all Indian 
philosophy — is well exemplified by the second 
part of the Sanchyd system (called the Yoga 
philosophy), where we find a totally different 
principle proclaimed ; and while it utterly aban- 
dons the primary doctrine of a self-existent 
principle in Nature laid down in the first part of 
the philosophy, it unfolds those maxims of In- 
dian mysticism which recur in every depart- 
naent of Hindoo literature. That total abs(^- 
tion in the one thought of the Deity, that entire 
abstr^i^ction from all the impressions and notions 
of ^euße — that suspension of all outward^ and in 
part even of inward, life efiected by the energy 
of a will tenaciously fixed and entirely concen- 
trated on a single point; and by which, according 
to the belief of the Indians, miraculous power 
and supernatural knowledge are attained,^ — are 


held up in the second part of the Sancby& sys- 
tem as the highest term of all mental exertion« 
The word Yoga signifies the complete union of 
all our thoughts and faculties with God— > by 
whic^ alone the soul can be freed — that is, de- 
livered from the unhappy lot of transmigration ; 
and this^ and this only, forms the object of all 
Indian philosophy. 

The Indian name of Yogi is derived from 
the same word, which designates this philoso- 
phy. The Indian Yogi is a hermit or peni- 
tent who, absorbed in this mystic contemplation, ( 
remains often for years fixed immoveably to a 
single spot. In order to give a lively represen- 
tation of a phenomenon so strange to us, which 
appears totally incredible and almost impossible, 
although it has been repeatedly attested by eye- 
witnesses, and is a well-ascertained historical 
fact ; I will extract from the drama of Sacontalä 
by the poet Calidas, a description of a Yogi, 
remarkable for its vivid accuracy, or, to use 
the expression of the German commentator, its 
fearful beauty. King Dushmanta enquires of 
Indra's charioteer the sacred abode of him^ 
whom he seeks ; and to this the charioteer re- 
plies :* " a little beyond the grove, where you 
see a piou9 Yogi, motionless as a pollard, hold- 
ing his thick bushy hair and fixing his eyes on 

* We have transcribed Sir William Jones's own words, as 
given in his Translation of SacontaUL.^- Tran^. 


Chronology, too, shares the same fSte with 
the sister science of history, for in the early 
period it is fahulous, and in the more modem, it 
is often not sufficiently precise and accurate. 
The number of years assigned to the first three 
epochs of the world must be considered as pos- 
sessing an astronomical import, rather than as 
furnishing any criterion for an historical use. 
It is only the fourth and last period of the world 
— the age of progressive misery and all-prevail- 
ing woe, which the Indians term Caliyug, that 
we can in any way consider an historical epoch ; 
and this, the duration of which is computed at 
four thousand years, began about a thousand 
years before the Christian era. Of the pr<^ess 
and term of this period of the world, considered 
in reference to the history of mankind, the 
Indians entertain a very simple notion. They 
belieTe that the condition of mankind will be- 
come at first much worse, but wi]l be afterwards 
ameliorated. The regulEir historical epoch when 
the chronolt^ of India begins to acquire greater 
certainty, and from which indeed it is ordinarily 
computed, is the age of King Vikramadil 
who reigned in the more civilized part of In' 
somewhat earlier than the Emperor Augii-^tn 
the West, perhaps about sixty years befort 
era. It was at the court of this m«"'^^^ 
flourished nine of the most celebrate 
poets of the second era of Indian ■ 

and among these was Calidan. tlie au \ 

beautiful dramatic poem of Sucout '" 



can be of no avail against historical facts re- 
peatedly attested and undeniably proved. Now 
that men are better acquainted with the wonder- 
ful flexibility of human organization, and with 
those marvellous powers which slumber conceal- 
ed within it, they are less disposed to form light 
and hasty decisions on phenomena of this de- 
scription. The whole is indeed a magical in- 
tellectual self-exaltation, accomplished by the 
energy, of the will concentrated on a single 
point : and this concentration of the mind, when 
carried to this excess, may lead not merely to 
a figurative, but to a real intellectual self-an- 
nihilation, and to the disorder of all thought, 
even of the brain. While on the one hand we 
must remain amazed at the strength of a will so 
tenaciously and perseveringly fixed on an object 
purely spiritual, we must, on the other hand, be 
filled with profound regret at the sight of so 
much energy wasted for a purpose so erroneous, 
and in a manner so appalling. 

The second species of Indian philosophy, 
totally different from the other two kinds, and 
which proceeds not from Nature, but from the 
principle of thought and from the thinking self, 
is comprised in the Ny ay ^ system, whose founder 
was Gautama — a personage whom several of the 
earlier investigators of Indian literature, particu- 
larly Dr. Taylor, in his Translation of the " Pra- 
bodha Chandrodaya,'* — (page 116.) have con- 

VOL. I. p 



Chronology, too, shares the same fiSte with 
the sister science of history, for in the early 
period it is fabulous, and in the more modern^ it 
is often not sufficiently precise and accurate. 
The number of years assigned to the first three 
epochs of the world must be considered as pos- 
sessing an astronomical import, rather than as 
furnishing any criterion for an historical use. 
It is only the fourth and last period of the world 
— the age of progressive misery and all-prevail- 
ing woe, which the Indians term Caliyug, that 
we can in any way consider an historical epoch ; 
and this, the duration of which is computed at 
four thousand years, began about a thousand 
years before the Christian era. Of the progress 
and term of this period of the world, considered 
in reference to the history of mankind, the 
Indians entertain a very simple notion. They 
believe that the condition of mankind will be- 
come at first much worse, but will be afterwards 
ameliorated. The regular historical epoch when 
the chronology of India begins to acquire greater 
certainty, and from which indeed it is ordinarily 
computed, is the age of King Y ikramaditya, 
who reigned in the more civilized part of India, 
somewhat earlier than the Emperor Augustus in 
the West, perhaps about sixty years before our 
era. It was at the court of this monarch that 
flourished nine of the most celebrated sages and 
poets of the second era of Indian literature; 
and among these was Calidas, the authw of the 
beautiful dramatic poem of Sacontala, so gene- 


rally known by the English and German trans- 
lations. It was in the age of Vikramaditya, 
that the later poetry and literature of India, of 
which Calidas was so bright an ornament» 
reached its AiU bloom. The elder Indian poetry, 
particularly the two great epic poems above- 
mentioned, entirely belong to the early and more 
fabulous ages of the world ; so far at least as the 
poets themselves are assigned to those ages, and 
figure in some degree, as fabulous personages. 
We may, however, observe that in the sjyle of 
poetry, in art, and even in the language itself, 
there feigns a very great difference between these 
primitive heroic poems, and the works of Calidas 
and other contemporary poets— the difference is 
at least as great as that which exists between 
Homer and Theocritus, or the other Bucolick 
poets of Greece. The oldest of the two epic 
poems of the Indians, the Ramayaria by the 
poet Yalmiki, celebrates Rama, his love for a 
royal princess, the beautiful Sita, and his con- 
q[uest of Lanka, or the modern Isle of Ceylon. 
Although in the old historical Sagas of the 
Ihdians, we find inentioii made of far-ruling 
moharchs and all-conquering heroes ; still these 
traditions seem to shew, as in the instance first 
cited, that in the oldest, as iH the latest, times 
prior to foreign conquest, India was not united 
in one gteät tüonarchy, but was generally par- ^ 
ceiled out into A variety of states ; and this fact 
serves to prove that such has ever been in gene- 


Chronology, too, shares the same fSte with 
the sister science of history, for in the early 
period it is fabulous, and in the more modem, it 
is often not sufficiently precise and accurate. 
The number of years assigned to the first three 
epochs of the world must be considered as pos- 
sessing an astronomical import, rather than as 
furnishing any criterion for an historical use. 
It is only the fourth and last period of the world 
— the age of progressive misery and all-prevail- 
ing woe, which the Indians term Caliyug, that 
we can in any way consider an historical epoch ; 
and this, the duration of which is computed at 
four thousand years, began about a thousand 
years before the Christian era. Of the progress 
and term of this period of the world, considered 
in reference to the history of mankind, the 
Indians entertain a very simple notion. They 
believe that the condition of mankind will be* 
come at first much worse, but will be afterwards 
ameliorated. The regular historical epoch when 
the chronology of India begins to acquire greater 
certainty, and from which indeed it is ordinarily 
computed, is the age of King Vikramaditya, 
who reigned in the more civilized part of India, 
somewhat earlier than the Emperor Augustus in 
the West, perhaps about sixty years before our 
era. It was at the court of this monarch that 
flourished nine of the most celebrated sages and 
poets of the second era of Indian literature; 
and among these was Calidas, the author of the 
beautiful dramatic poem of Sacontala, so gene- 


rally known by the English and German trans- 
lations. It was in the age of Vikramaditya, 
that the later poetry and literature of India, of 
which Calidas was so bright an ornament» 
reached its AiU bloom. The elder Indian poetry, 
particularly the two great epic poems above- 
mentioned, entirely belong to the early and more 
fabulous ages of tlie world ; so far at least as the 
poets themselves are assigned to those ages, and 
figure in some degree, as fabulous personages. 
We may, however, observe that in the style of 
poetry, in att, and even in the languag^ itself, 
there reigns a very great difference between these 
primitive heroic poems, and the works of Calidas 
and other contemporary poets — the difference is 
at least as great as that which exists between 
Homer and Theocritus, or the other Bucolick 
poets of Greece. The oldest of the two epic 
poems of the Indians, the Ramayaria by the 
poet Yalmiki, celebrates Rama, his love for a 
royal princess, the beautiful Sita, and his con- 
quest of Lanka, or the modern Isle of Ceylon. 
Although in the old historical Sagas of the 
Ihdians, we find inentioii made of far-ruling 
moharchs and ail-conquering heroes ; still these 
traditions seeni td shew, as in the instance first 
cited, that in the oldest, as in the latest, times 
prioir to foreign conquest, India was not united 
in one great tAonarchy, but was generally par- ' 
ceiled out into A variety of states ; and this fact 
serves to prove that such has ever been in gene- 


Chronology, too, shares the same fSte with 
the sister science of history, for in the early 
period it is fabulous, and in the more modern, it 
is often not sufficiently precise and accurate. 
The number of years assigned to the first three 
epochs of the world must be considered as pos- 
sessing an astronomical import, rather than as 
furnishing any criterion for an historical use. 
It is only the fourth and last period of the world 
— the age of progressive misery and all-prevail- 
ing woe, which the Indians term Caliyug, that 
we can in any way consider an historical epoch ; 
and this, the duration of which is computed at 
four thousand years, began about a thousand 
years before the Christian era. Of the progress 
and term of this period of the world, considered 
in reference to the history of mankind, the 
Indians entertain a very simple notion. They 
believe that the condition of mankind will be- 
come at first much worse, but will be afterwards 
ameliorated. The regular historical epoch when 
the chronology of India begins to acquire greater 
certainty, and from which indeed it is ordinarily 
computed, is the age of King Vikramaditya, 
who reigned in the more civilized part of India, 
somewhat earlier than the Emperor Augustus in 
the West, perhaps about sixty years before our 
era. It was at the court of this monarch that 
flourished nine of the most celebrated sages and 
poets of the second era of Indian literature; 
and among these was Qalidas, the author of the 
beautiful dramatic poem of Sacontala, so gene- 


rally known by the English and German trans- 
lations. It was in the age of Vikramaditya, 
that the later poetry and literature of India, of 
which Calidas was so bright an ornament» 
reached its AiU bloom. The elder Indian poetry, 
particularly the two great epic poems above- 
mentioned, entirely belong to the early and more 
fabulous ages of the world ; so far at least as the 
poets themselves are assigned to those ages, and 
figure in some degree, as fabulous personages. 
We may, however, observe that in the style of 
poetry, in art, and even in the language itself, 
there reigns a very great difference between these 
primitive heroic poems, and the works of Calidas 
and other contemporary poets — the difference is 
at least as great as that which exists between 
Homer ietnd Theocritus, or the other Bucolick 
poets of Greece. The oldest of the two epic 
poems of the Indians, the Ramayaria by the 
poet Yaimiki, celebrates Rama, his love for a 
royal princess, the beautiful Sita, and his con- 
q[uest of Lanka, or the modern Isle of Ceylon. 
Although in the old historical Sagas of the 
Ihdians, we find inention made of far-ruling 
liioharchs and all-conquering heroes ; still these 
traditlohs seem to shew, as in the instance first 
cited, that in the oldest, as id the latest, times 
prio* to foreign conquest, India was not united 
in one gteät monarchy, but was generally par- ^ 
ceiled out into A variety of states ; and this fact 
serves to prove that such has ever been in gene- 



Chronology, too, shares the same fSte with 
the sister science of history, for in the early 
period it is fabulous, and in the more modem, it 
is often not sufficiently precise and accurate. 
The number of years assigned to the first three 
epochs of the world must be considered as pos- 
sessing an astronomical import, rather than as 
furnishing any criterion for an historical use. 
It is only the fourth and last period of the world 
— the age of progressive misery and all-prevail- 
ing woe, which the Indians term Caliyug, that 
we can in any way consider an historical epoch ; 
and this, the duration of which is computed at 
four thousand years, began about a thousand 
years before the Christian era. Of the progress 
and term of this period of the world, considered 
in reference to the history of mankind, the 
Indians entertain a very simple notion. They 
believe that the condition of mankind will be- 
come at first much worse, but will be afterwards 
ameliorated. The regular historical epoch when 
the chronology of India begins to acquire greater 
certainty, and from which indeed it is ordinarily 
computed, is the age of King Vikramaditya, 
who reigned in the more civilized part of India, 
somewhat earlier than the Emperor Augustus in 
the West, perhaps about sixty years before our 
era. It was at the court of this monarch that 
flourished nine of the most celebrated sages and 
poets of the second era of Indian literature; 
and among these was Qalidas, the author of the 
beautiful dramatic poem of Sacontala, so gene- 


rally known by the English and Gennan trans- 
lations. It was in the age of Vikramaditya, 
that the later poetry and literature of India, of 
which Calidas was so bright an ornament» 
reached its AiU bloom. The elder Indian poetry, 
particularly the two great epic poems above- 
mentioned, entirely belong to the early and more 
fabulous ages of the world ; so far at least as the 
poets themselves are assigned to those ages, and 
figure in some degree, as fabulous personages. 
We may, however, observe that in the style of 
poetry, in art, and even in the language itself, 
there reigns a very great difference between these 
primitive heroic poems, and the works of Calidas 
and other contemporary poets — the difference is 
at least as great as that which exists between 
Homer and Theocritus, or the other Bucolick 
poets of Greece. The oldest of the two epic 
poems of the Indians, the Ramayaria by the 
poet Yalmiki, celebrates Rama, his love for a 
royal princess, the beautiful Sita, and his con- 
quest of Lanka, or the modern Isle of Ceylon. 
Although in the old historical Sagas of the 
Ihdians, we find tnention made of far-ruling 
moharchs and all-conquering heroes ; still these 
traditions seeni to shew, as in the instance first 
cited, that in the oldest, as id the latest, times 
priöir to fbreign conquest, India was not united 
in one gtekt monarchy, but was generally par- ' 
celled out into A variety of states ; and this facf 
serveB to prove that such has ever been in gene- 


Chronology, too, shares the same tSie with 
the sister science of history, for in the early 
period it is fabulous, and in the more modern^ it 
is often not sufficiently precise and accurate. 
The number of years assigned to the first three 
epochs of the world must be considered as pos- 
sessing an astronomical import, rather than as 
furnishing any criterion for an historical use. 
It is only the fourth and last period of the world 
— the age of progressive misery and all-prevail- 
ing woe, which the Indians term Caliyug, that 
we can in any way consider an historical epoch ; 
and this, the duration of which is computed at 
four thousand years, began about a thousand 
years before the Christian era. Of the progress 
and term of this period of the world, considered 
in reference to the history of mankind, the 
Indians entertain a very simple notion. They 
believe that the condition of mankind will be- 
come at first much worse, but will be afterwards 
ameliorated. The regular historical epoch when 
the chronology of India begins to acquire greater 
certainty, and from which indeed it is ordinarily 
computed, is the age of King Vikramaditya, 
who reigned in the more civilized part of India, 
somewhat earlier than the Emperor Augustus in 
the West, perhaps about sixty years before our 
era. It was at the court of this monarch that 
flourished nine of the most celebrated sages and 
poets of the second era of Indian literature; 
and among these was Qalidas, the author of the 
beautiful dramatic poem of Sacontala, so gene- 


rally known by the English and German trans- 
lations. It was in the age of Vikramaditya, 
that the later poetry and literature of India, of 
which Calidas was so bright an ornament» 
reached its AiU bloom. The elder Indian poetry, 
particularly the two great epic poems above- 
mentioned, entirely belong to the early and more 
fabulous ages of tlie world ; so far at least as the 
poets themselves are assigned to those ages, and 
figure in some degree, as fabulous personages. 
We may, however, observe that in the style of 
poetry, in art, and even in the language itself, 
there reigns a very great difference between these 
primitive heroic poems, and the works of Calidas 
and other contemporary poets — the difference is 
at least as great as that which exists between 
Homer and Theocritus, or the other Bucolick 
poets of Greece. The oldest of the two epic 
poems of the Indians, the Ramayaria by the 
poet Yalmiki, celebrates Rama, his love for a 
royal princess, the beautiful Sita, and his con- 
q[ueist of Lanka, or the modern Isle of Ceylon. 
Although in the old historical Sc^as of the 
Ihdians, we find tnentioii made of far-ruling 
moharchs and all-conquering heroes ; still these 
traditions seeni to shew, as in the instance first 
cited, that in the oldest, as in the latest, times 
prior to foreign conquest, India was not united 
in one gteat monarchy, but was generally par- ' 
ceiled out into A variety of states ; and this fact 
serveB to prove that such has ever been in gene- 


Chronology, too, shares the same fSte with 
the sister science of history» for in the early 
period it is fabulous, and in the more modern, it 
is often not sufficiently precise and accurate. 
The number of years assigned to the first three 
epochs of the world must be considered as pos- 
sessing an astronomical import, rather than as 
furnishing any criterion for an historical use. 
It is only the fourth and last period of the world 
— the age of progressive misery and all-prevail- 
ing woe, which the Indians term Caliyug, that 
we can in any way consider an historical epoch ; 
and this, the duration of which is computed at 
four thousand years, began about a thousand 
years before the Christian era. Of the progress 
and term of this period of the world, considered 
in reference to the history of mankind, the 
Indians entertain a very simple notion. They 
believe that the condition of mankind will be- 
come at first much worse, but will be afterwards 
ameliorated. The regular historical epoch when 
the chronology of India begins to acquire greater 
certainty, and from which indeed it is ordinarily 
computed, is the age of King Vikramaditya, 
who reigned in the more civilized part of India, 
somewhat earlier than the Emperor Augustus in 
the West, perhaps about sixty years before our 
era. It was at the court of this monarch that 
flourished nine of the most celebrated sages and 
poets of the second era of Indian literature; 
and among these was Calidas, the author of the 
beautiful dramatic poem of Sacontala, so gene- 


rally known by the English and German trans- 
lations. It was in the age of Vikramaditya, 
that the later poetry and literature of India, of 
which Calidas was so bright an ornament, 
reached its AiU bloom. The elder Indian poetry, 
particularly the two great epic poems above- 
nientioned, entirely belong to the early and more 
fabulous ages of tlie world ; so far at least as the 
poets themselves are assigned to those ages, and 
figure in some degree, as fabulous personages. 
We may, however, observe that in the style of 
poetry, in art, and even in the language itself, 
there feigns a very great difference between these 
primitive heroic poems, and the works of Calidas 
and other contemporary poets — the difference is 
at least as great as that which exists between 
Homer and Theocritus, or the other Bucolick 
poets of Greece. The oldest of the two epic 
poems oif the Indians, the Ramayaria by the 
poet Yalmiki, celebrates Rama, his love for a 
royal princess, the beautiful Sita, and his con- 
q[uest of Lanka, or the modern Isle of Ceylon. 
Although in the old historical Sagas of the 
Ihdians, we find inention made of far-ruling 
inoharchs and all-conquering heroes ; still these 
traditions seedi to shew, as in the instance first 
cited, that in the oldest, as id the latest, times 
prior to foreign conquest, India was not united 
in one gteät iüonarchy, but was generally par- ' 
celled out into ä variety of states ; and this fact 
serves to prove that such has ever been in gene- 


Chronology, too, shares the same fSte with 
the sister science of history, for in the early 
period it is fabulous, and in the more modem, it 
is often not sufficiently precise and accurate. 
The number of years assigned to the first three 
epochs of the world must be considered as pos- 
sessing an astronomical import, rather than as 
furnishing any criterion for an historical use. 
It is only the fourth and last period of the world 
— the age of progressive misery and all-prevail- 
ing woe, which the Indians term Caliyug, that 
we can in any way consider an historical epoch ; 
and this, the duration of which is computed at 
four thousand years, began about a thousand 
years before the Christian era. Of the progress 
and term of this period of the world, considered 
in reference to the history of mankind, the 
Indians entertain a very simple notion. They 
believe that the condition of mankind will be- 
come at first much worse, but will be afterwards 
ameliorated. The regular historical epoch when 
the chronology of India begins to acquire greater 
certainty, and from which indeed it is ordinarily 
computed, is the age of King Vikramaditya, 
who reigned in the more civilized part of India, 
somewhat earlier than the Emperor Augustus in 
the West, perhaps about sixty years before our 
era. It was at the court of this monarch that 
flourished nine of the most celebrated sages and 
poets of the second era of Indian literature; 
and among these was Calidas, the author of the 
beautiful dramatic poem of Sacontala, so gene- 


rally known by the English and German trans- 
lations. It was in the age of Vikramaditya, 
that the later poetry and literature of India, of 
which Calidas was so bright an ornament» 
reached its AiU bloom. The elder Indian poetry, 
particularly the two great epic poems above- 
mentioned, entirely belong to the early and more 
fabulous ages of tlie world ; so far at least as the 
poets themselves are assigned to those ages, and 
figure in some degree, as fabulous personages. 
We may, however, observe that in the style of 
poetry, in art, and even in the language itself, 
there reigns a very great difference between these 
primitive heroic poems, and the works of Calidas 
and other contemporary poets— the difference is 
at least as great as that which exists between 
Homer and Theocritus, or the other Bucolick 
poets of Greece. The oldest of the two epic 
poems of the Indians, the Ramayaria by the 
poet Yalmiki, celebrates Rama, his love for a 
royal princess, the beautiful Sita, and his con- 
quest of Lanka, or the modern Isle of Ceylon. 
Although in the did historical Sagas of the 
Indians, we find inentioti made of far-ruling 
moharchs and all-conquering herdes ; still these 
traditions seeni td shew, as in the instance first 
cited, that in the oldest, as in the latest, times 
prior td foreign conquest, India was not united 
in one gteat iüonarchy, but was generally par- ^ 
celled out into A variety of states ; and this fact 
serveis to prove that such has ever been in gene- 


roots are, for the most part at least, dyss yllabi c ; 
an3 these roots, which are by this means inter- 
nally flexible, and become as it were living 
and productive, afford room and occasion for a 
more varied grammatical structure. The dis- 
tinguishing character of these languages is a 
very artificial grammar, which enters so com- 
pletely into the primary formation of these lan- 
guages, that the nearer we approach their ori- 
ginal the more regular and systematic do we 
find their structure. In their progress these 
languages are characterized by a poetical full- 
ness and variety in the forms of narration, and 
even by a rigid precision in scientific discus- 

The third and last class are the Semitic lan- 
guages, as they are styled — the Hebrew and the 
Arabic, which, together with their kindred dia- 
lects, form the summit or apex of this pyramid. 
In these languages the ruling principle is that 
all the roots must be tri-syllabic, for each of the 
three letters, of which the root is regularly com- 
posed, counts for a syllable, and is articulated 
as such. Whatever exceptions from this rule 
exist, must be treated as exceptions only. It 
cannot well be doubted that this principle of 
tri-syllabic roots is purposely wrought into the 
whole internal structure of these languages, and 
perhaps not without some deep significancy — 
some presentient feeling implied by that triplicity 


of roots.* In these languages Üie verb is 
the first principle of derivation — the root from 
which every thing is deduced, and hence a cer- 
tain rapidity, fire, and vivacity in the expres- 
sion. But with such formal regularity the rich, 
full, elaborate grammatical forms and structure 
which distinguish the languages of the Indo- 
Greek race, are not at all compatible; — these 
tri-syllabic tongues have a certain tendency to 
monotony, and do not certainly possess that 
poetical variety, and that flexible adaptation to 
scientific purposes, which characterize the se- 
cond class of languages. The general charac- 
teristic of the Semitic tongues is their peculiar 
fitness for prophetic inspiration and for pro- 
found symbolical import — this is their special 
character. We speak here of the language 
itself, and of its internal structure, and not of 
the spirit which may direct it ; and I shall only 
add that the character we have here assigned 
to the Semitic languages is according to the 
declaration of many of the most competent 
judges, more uniformly perceptible in the Arabic 
than in the Hebrew, although the former has 
received a totally different application, and has 
undergone a very diversified culture. Thus 
the Hebrew tongue was eminently adapted 

* Schlegel here supposes that the triplicity of roots in the 
Semitic languages contains a mystic alhision to the Tri-une 
Godhead, the root and principle of all existence. 

VOL. I. Q 

i ) 



to the high spiritual destination of the Hebrew 
people, and was a fit organ of the prophetic 
revelation and promises imparted to that nation ; 
and, even in this respect, this Semitic language 
is worthy of being considered the summit of the 
pyramid of human speech. But it never can 
be regarded as the basis of that pyramid, nor 
the root whence all other tongues have sprung^ 
as many scholars in former times conceived — 
an opinion which would seem tacitly to imply 
that Adam could have spoken no other language 
in Paradise but the Hebrew. But this language 
of the first man created by God — this language 
which God himself had taught him — this word 
of Nature which the Deity imparted to man 
together with the dominion over all other crea- 
tures, and over the whole visible world, may 
have been neither the Hebrew nor the Indian, 
nor any of the other known or existing languages 
of the earth. Possibly it was not a speech 
which we could learn or understand, or which^ 
according to the present scheme of language, 
we can even conceive or imagine. In the same 
way no one is capable of proving or discover- 
ing the geographical site of the one lost source 
in Paradise, whence those four rivers took their 
rise, which are in part to be still traced on the 
earth. As to the Hebrew language, I think that 
a deeper inquiry would shew that it is not so 
far removed firom the Indo-Greek family ; and 
that it is even partially related to it, although 


this affinity may be at first very much concealed 
by the great difference of structure, and by the 
total diversity of grammatical forms. In general 
we must not endeavour to enforce, with too rigic* 
uniformity and too systematic precision, the 
division of languages here marked out. It 
suffices to adhere to one general point of sur- 
vey ; but in other respects so luxuriant, so va- 
rious, so irregular has been the growth of the 
human mind in the region of languages, that it 
may be compared to the expansive life of free, 
uncultivated nature, to the wild variety of the 
thick-grown forest or of the flowery meadow. 

To the second order of languages of the Indo- 
Greek race, probably belongs the great Sclavo-' 
nian family of languages, which, after the others, 
would form the fourth member in this class ; 
but a definite and decisive judgment on this 
matter, I must leave to those philologists who 
are perfectly conversant with this branch of 
human speech. Between the second and third 
class of languages, there are a multitude of in- 
termediate tongues which have sprung up out 
of that intermixture of races and nations, occur- 
ring at all periods of history, and necessarily 
affecting more or less language itself. I allude 
particularly to such languages as are not per- 
fectly monosyllabic, and which have neverthe- 
less a very simple and imperfect, or even a very 
irregular, strange, and awkward grammatical 
structure. Such for instance are some of the 



American languages, which in this respect at 
least cannot be ranked in the third class, while 
they do not bear a closer, or at all close, affinity 
to those of the second. Most of the fragments 
of the earlier languages of Europe which are 
still extant, belong to this intermediate class of 
tongues partaking of both those species, or at 
least holding a middle place between them. 
Such are the Celtic or Gaelic languages, the 
Finnish and other ancient remnants of Ian- 
guage, which must not escape the study of the 
philologist, whose judgment is too frequently 
warped by some patriotic partiality or some 
learned predilection. 

The noble languages of the second class have 
from a remote antiquity become indigenous to 
Europe, and are there now generally prevalent. 
The other fragments of speech which are to be 
found on our Continent by the side of these, 
either bear to them a remote affinity like the 
various Celtic or GsbUc dialects, or lead the 
enquirer to the great Asiatic, perhaps even to 
the African family of tongues ; for we could 
hardly expect to find a native race of languages 
peculiar to this small quarter of the globe, which 
holds the lowest place in point of historical an- 
tiquity. From the historical connexion between 
the North of Africa, and the Southern coasts of 
Western Europe, especially the Hesperian Pe- 
ninsula, (a connection which has subsisted from 
the remotest ages, and has been renewed so 


fi:equently, and in such various forms)» one 
might be induced to suppose that the existence 
of this intercourse would have been attested by 
an affinity between the languages of the two 
countries. But the ablest scholars and critics 
cannot trace in the Basque tongue any affinity 
with the primitive African family, though they 
can discover in it an analogy with the Scythian 
race of Finnish languages. The Magiar lan- 
guage at the other eastern extremity of Europe 
is most decidedly an Asiatic tongue, belonging 
to that class which prevails in the central re- 
gions of Asia; but in its grammatical struc- 
ture it bears some analogy to the languages of 
the second class. If, in conclusion I might be 
allowed to hazard a conjecture, I should say 
that nothing would more materially contribute 
to a comprehensive knowledge of the whole 
system of human language, as well as to a 
deeper insight into its internal principles and 
structure, than the success of the now rising 
school of Egyptian philologists, who, in deci- 
phering the hieroglyphics by the aid of the 
Coptic, endeavour to give us a more accurate 
knowledge, or at least a more minute conception, 
of the old Egyptian tongue. And if we would 
venture the attempt of approximating nearer to 
the primitive speech (the lost or extinct source 
of all languages), we must start from four diffe- 
rent quarters, and thread our way not only 
through the Sanscrit and Hebrew languages, 

I * 



but through the primitive Chinese and the old 
Egyptian, as far as we can trace the latter. 

' How extremely alike ancient Egypt and 
India were to each other, not only in their poli- 
tical Institutions, but in their system of Idola- 
try, in their fundamental doctrines of belief, and 
in their general views of life, we have had am- 
ple opportunity of satisfying ourselves in the 
present age, when both these countries have 
been more accurately surveyed, and more 
closely investigated. In a remarkable expedi- 
tion which occurred in our own times, this 
strong religious sympathy was strikingly dis- 
played in a spontaneous and instantaneous 
burst of feeling. When, in the course of the 
French war in Egypt, an Indian army in British 
pay there landed, and, ascending up the country^ 
came before the old monuments of Upper Egypt» 
the soldiers prostrated themselves on the earth, 
believing they had once more found the Deities 
of their native land. Great, however, as the re- 
semblance between the two nations may be, 
they are still characterized by perceptible diffe- 
rences. On the one hand the Egyptian mind, so 
far as it has been delineated by the Greeks » 
appears to have been more deeply conversant 
and initiated in natural science : and on the 
other hand, the Egyptian idolatry was of a more 
decided cast, and was even more material in its 
fundamental errors than the Indian. The wor- 
ship of animals, especially, was far more general. 


and was not confined to the god Apis, who may 
be compared to the Nandi, the bull sacred to 
Siva, but branched out into a variety of other 
forms. In the progress of Idolatry it needs came 
to pass that what was originally revered only as 
the symbol of a higher principle was gradually 
confounded or identified with that object and 
worshipped, till this error in worship led to 
a more degraded form of Idolatry ; for it should 
be remembered that as error is not merely the 
absence of truth, but a false and counterfeit 
imitation of the truth, it has, like the latter, a 
principle of permanent growth and internal de- 
velopment. Several writers, who, in a general 
review of all heathen religions, have attempted 
to classify them after the manner of naturalists, 
assign the lowest place to the Fetish worship so 
called, which they rank immediately below the 
worship of animals. They make the essence 
of this Fetish worship to consist in the divine 
adoration of a lifeless, corporeal object; while 
they place on higher degrees, in this scale of 
Pagan error, the sensuaJ Nature-worship— the 
apotheosis of particular men — and the adoration 
of the elements, the stars, and the difibrent 
powers of Nature. However just and correct 
this view of the subject may otherwise be, it 
should be remembered that the question agi^ 
tated is not only what were the objects of divine 
worship, but what were the views, intentions, 
and doctrines connected with that worship. For 



it is in these moral views we must look, either 
for the half-effaced vestige of ancient truth, or 
for the fall enormity — the profound abyss of 
error. When we come to examine more closely 
^ the accounts of that Fetish worship (so called) 
which is most widely diffused though the inte- 
rior of Africa, and prevails among some Ame- 
\ rican Jribes, and nations of the North East of 
Asia ; it is easy to perceive, that magical rites 
\ are connected with it, and that all these corpo- 
real objects are but magical instruments and 
conductors of magical power ; and that the reli- 
gion of these nations, sunk undoubtedly to the 
lowest grade of idolatry, comprises nothing 
beyond the rude b^innings of a Pagan magic, 
such as in all probability was practised by the 
Cainites, according to historical indications men- 
tioned in an earlier part of this work. That the 
Egyptian mind had a certain leaning towards 
magic, though towards a magic of a very dif- 
(ferent, more comprehensive, and even more 
^profound and scientific nature, cannot be called 
in question; for all the Hebrew, Greek, and 
native vouchers and authorities are unanimous 
in the assertion. 

But if the different religions of Paganism 
must be classed according to their outward rites 
and outward objects of worship^ the diversity of 
sacrifices would constitute a far better and 
more important standard of classification. We 
are taught that a difference in the mode of sacri- 


fice was the principal cause of the dispute be- > 
tween the first two hostile brothers among men. ! 
Although, if we were to judge from first impres- 
sions and according to human feelings, no sacri- 
fice is so filial, so simple, so appropriate, as 
that of the first fruits of the earth in returning 
Spring, (such for instance as the flower-offering 
of the pious Brahmins, or a similar oblation of 
thanksgiving among the ancient Persians and 
other nations) ; still on account of their deeper 
import and typical character, the pre-eminence 
has ever been allotted to animal-sacrifices ; and 
these among the most civilized nations of Pagan 
antiquity have ever held the foremost place. Of 
this kind is the great sacrifice of the horse* in 
India, where in ancient times the bull was offered 
in sacrifice, till the destruction of the latter ani- 
mal was severely prohibited, and came to be 
considered as a grievous crime. But there was 
ever a symbolical meaning attached to this sort 
of sacrifice,! and the victim selected as it was 
out of the purest and noblest species of domestic 
animals that surround man (such as the bull, 

* The Av^ameda. 

t The reader may derive both pleasure and initruction from 
the perusal of a most masterly Treatise on Sacrifices, by the late 
Count Maistre, inserted at the end of the 2nd volume of his 
Soir4eM de St, Petershmrg, No where have the learning, the 
eloquence, the bold and profound philosophy of the noble author 
been more strikingly displayed, than in that short but admirable 
tract. — Trw- 



the horse or the lamb), was looked upon only as 
the representative of another» and the emblem 
of a far higher victim. 

It is an error to consider ancient Paganism 
as nothing more than mere poetry or agreeable 
fictron. The rites of the ancient Polytheism 
had very distinct and practical objects in view ; 
and were intended either to propitiate the malig- 
nant powers of darkness, or to obtain by their 
agency preternatural power, or on the other 
hand, to conciliate the favour and appease the 
anger of the Deity. And for this object the 
Heathens shrunk from no expedient — deemed 
no price — ^no victim too costly, as the existence 
of human sacrifices, and especially the sacrifice 
of cnildren may serve to convince us ; and I 
cannot conclude this first part of the ancient 
history of the world, without bestowing a more 
particular examination on this extreme aberra- 
tion of Paganism, which passed by inheritance 
from the remoter ages to the second, more civi- 
lized, and, (in many respects) milder era of 
history. The species of human sacrifice most 
widely difiused among all the Phaenician na- 
tions was that in which the idol Moloch, heated 
from below, grasped in his glowing arms the 
infant victim. Even in the Punic city, Carthage, 
this cruel custom long prevailed, and was for a 
long time secretly practised under the Roman 
domination. These sacrifices existed among the 
Greeks and Romans, no less than among the 


/ ' ' ' {- 

Indians and Egyptians ; and the Chinese, so far ' j ^ ' 
atleast as my acquaintance with their authentic ' [ i . ., ^^ ^^ 
records extends, are the only people among 
whom I do not recollect meeting with any men- 
tion of this kind of sacrifice. But in the civi- 
lized states of Greece and Home, this ancient 
custom was in later and milder times gradually 
abolished, or silently supplanted by some equi- 

Besides the sacrifice of children, there was 
another species which was customary and par- 
ticularly striking, and in one respect even more 
worthy the historian's attention — I mean the sa-] ~ 
crifice of pure youths. I may here again enforce 
the maxim which I have before laid down — 
namely^ that error is the most appalling when 
it is connected in its origin, or mixed up in its 
principle, with some confused notion— some pro- 
found, though obscure, feeling of the truth. Bear- 
ing this in mind, we shall find that the enigmatic 
lamentation of Lamech* over his mysterious ^^ 
slaying of a stripling, occurring in the Mosaic 

* '' And Lamech said to his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear 
my voice, ye wives of Lamech, hearken to my speech ; for I have 
slain a man to the wounding of myself, and a stripling to my 
own bruising/'"— Gen. iv 23. This obscure text has long 
perplexed the Commentators : — Schlegel, I think has fiimished 
an explanation as solid as it is ingenious. Thus Lamech to 
whom the introduction of polygamy is generally ascribed, was 
probably, also, the founder of human sacrifices. According to 
our great poet, lust sits enthroned hard by hate. — Trans, 


account of the Cainites, would seem to indicate 
that human saqrifices, and especially this parti- 
cular kind^ had-lheir origin among the race of 
Cain, deeply imbued even at that early period 
with anti-christian errors ; and that an unhappy 
delusion— -a confused anticipation of a real ne- 
cessity and of a future reality, contributed to 
the institution of these sacrifices. Of that great 
mystery of truth, which the holy Patriarch of 
the Hebrews, with a prophetic intuition, had dis- 
cerned in the sacrifice of his well-beloved son 
commanded him by God, but through the divine 
mercy not consummated — of this great mystery, 
we say, a diabolic imitation may have led to the 
human sacrifices by the early Heathens, But 
these sacrifices were more widely difiused, even 
in the Druidical North, and they continued down 
to a much later period than is commonly sup- 
posed, or at present asserted. Thus, for instance, 
the anti-christian Emperor Julian sought to 
revive them, in order to promote the infernal 
purposes of his dark magical rites. We are so 
habituated to look on the divinities and beauti- 
ful fables of ancient Greece, as the fairy cre- 
ations of poetry, that we are painfully surprised 
when we unexpectedly stumble on some histo- 
rical fact, which discloses the true spirit and 
internal essence of polytheism — the fact, for 
instance, that Themistocles himself, the deli- 
verejr of Greece, offered up three youths in 



The profound abyss of error, in which the 
most civilized nations of ancient Heathenism had 
sunk and were lost, becomes the more apparent, 
the more closely it is investigated and the more 
fully it is understood. And on this account, we 
should learn to see how necessary and salutary 
was that slow progression — that gradual prepa- 
ration for a brighter futurity, wherein, as I above 
stated, consisted the peculiar destination and 
spiritual career of the Hebrew people. It is 
only from this its peculiar destination for the 
Future, the Hebrew people presents so high an 
interest to historical philosophy, and holds the 
lofty place assigned to it in the first period of 
human civilization. The later destinies of the 
Jewish nation, and the particular events and 
characters in their later annals, are subjects of 
the highest moment in a history of religion ; for 
they can be rightly understood and fully appre- 
ciated only by their practical application, and 
profound symbolical reference to the circum- 
stances of Christianity. But it is only the po- 
litical constitution of the Jewish state in the 
earliest period of its history — a constitution 
which was so peculiar and unique in itself, so 
entirely without a parallel — that can be the ap- 
propriate subject of consideration in this general 
review of history ; because this constitution was 
connected with the prophetic calling of the 
Hebrew people, and even bore a prophetic cha- 
racter itself. This constitution has been cftUed 


a theocracy, and so it was in the right and old 
signification of that word, by which was meant 
a government under the special and immediate 
providence of God. But in the now ordinary 

k acceptation of the term, which implies a sacer- 
dotal empire or dominion, the Jewish state was 

I at no time and by no means a theocracy. Moses 
was no more a priest than a king ; and after him 
all those men of Desire, as they were called from 
the first circumstances of their institution, or 
men of the desert, because after a preparation 
in the solitude of the desert, they led and con- 
ducted the people in a literal or figurative sense, 
through the wilderness — all these men appoint- 
ed by God, and without any other title or insig- 
nia but the stafi*, which as pilgrims they brought 
out of the desert, governed and directed the 
people under the immediate providence of God. 
If on a certain occasion one of the prophets 
girded on the sword and led out an army — ^this 
was only a transient instance ; and the prophets 
in general were nothing more than the men of 
God, and the divinely appointed conductors of 
the people. When the wish in which the He- 
brews had so long indulged of having a king, 
like the heathen nations, was at last gratified ; 
a wish which in the higher views of Holy Writ, 
was regarded as the culpable illusion of a carnal 
sense ; — the last of the prophets formed a party, 
and constituted in a very peculiar and singular 
manner, a species of political Opposition, which 


was acknowledged to be, and was in fact, per-c^.. 
fectly legitimate and just. And when some of 
them, like Elias for instance, bad received from 
God the supreme and immediate power over 
life and death, as the distinct badge of domi- 
nion ; we cannot wonder that men should have 
followed them, the people have been at their 
bidding, and kings themselves, even though 
they followed not always their counsels, have 
hearkened at least to Üieir warning voice. If 
those who are so fond of playing the part of 
oppositionists in every country, could only once 
rise superior to vulgar forms and formulas, and 
not every where seek for the echo of their mo- 
dern opinions, an attentive study of the cha- 
racter of Elias would hold up to their admiring 
view an oppositionist, who in energy of conduct, 
and in burning zeal for the cause of truth and 
justice, or in other words, of God, could not be 
perhaps easily equalled by any historical per- 
sonage whether of ancient republics, or of 
modem monarchies. 

After the Jewish state had become a king- 
dom of no very great dimensions, it shared the 
destiny of most of the petty states in those re- 
gions ; and was first a province of the Assyro- 
Babylonish empire, then became subject to the 
Persian monarchs, and afterwards to the Greek 
kings of Syria and Egypt, till with these it was 
finally swallowed up in the vast empire of all- 
conquering Rome. 


In that restoration of the Jewish state which 
the Maccabees accomplished in the last period 
of the Greek domination over Judea, the High- 

j Priest acquired a concurrent political power ; a 
power which he even still retained under the op- 
pressive protectorate of the Romans, though his 
functions, which were those of a legislator and 
supreme judge, were confined to the internal go- 
vernment of the state. But this does not consti- 

' tute a really sacerdotal dominion, and the term 
theocracy is as little applicable to such an order 
of things, as to the Greek Patriarchate in the 
Turkish empire. However, the holy city of 
Jerusalem, along with Solomon's old, mighty and 
symbolical temple (whose deep import and pro- 
per signification the Jews themselves at a later 
period no longer understood), still continued to 
be the main centre of the old national existence 
and ancient recollections of the Hebrews, as well 
as of their future hopes and prophetic promises. 
Even after the fearful destruction of Jerusalem, 

- this emblematic idea of the holy city still lived 
in the recollection of mankind, and a long time 
afterwards was, in Christian Europe, an ani- 
mating incentive to the warlike nations of the 
Middle Age. 

In conclusion, we must add some observa- 
tions, referring not so much to the Jewish people 
and their history, as to their most ancient his- 
torical books, and to those general views of 
mankind which they contain, so far as such 


views relate to the general history of the primi- 
tive ages, and are connected with the philosophy 
of history. In the same way as it is neither 
necessary nor practicable to regard the Hebrew 
tongue as the general root or primal source of 
all the languages spoken on the earth, because 
it was the organ of divine revelation; so the 
Mosaic genealogy of nations (^n with as little 
propriety be made the basis of a general history 
of the world ; as has in earlier times been so 
often attempted, but never accomplished with- 
out much violence to the text. Although it 
would be difficult to find in the primitive re- 
cords of the other Asiatic nations an historical 
survey of all the nations on the globe, at once 
so clear, luminous, and instructive ; yet the 
Mosaic revelation had a far different object in 
view than to furnish a school-compendium of 
historical learning. This historical genealogy, 
which in its way cannot be too highly esteemed, 
was evidently destined by Moses more immedi- 
ately for his own people, and his own Book of 
the law ; and in his account of the origin of 
nations, the sacred historian proceeded on views 
and principles very different from ours. For 
instance, with us it is the affinity of languages, 
which forms the chief clue in the arrange- 
ment and classification of the different races of 
mankind ; and, according to this principle, we 
rank the Hebrews with the Phoenicians, and 
regard them as kindred nations. But in the 

VOL. I, R 


Modaic history these two nations, separated by 
mutual hostility, stand at the widest distance 
one from the other; for in manners, religion, 
and feelings, they were diametrically opposed. 

In this investigation, indeed, historical cir- 
cumstances may often occur — such as the po- 
pular commotions and intermixture of nations 
happening at all periods of the world — by which 
the question of the origin and affinity of different 
races undergoes considerable modifications, and 
the whole subject is rendered unsusceptible of a 
systematic division and arrangement. It often 
happens that one race adopts the language of 
another, without on that account losing its na- 
tional identity, or being totally confounded with 
the other ; for, on the contrary, its moral or intel- 
lectual character bears the clear traces of its 
original descent ; so that here, at least, language 
alone will decide nothing. Often a less numerous 
tribe will stamp its own native moral and intel- 
lectual character on a whole people. In general 
the descent of nations can be clearly traced and 
demonstrated in those cases only, where the race 
has been kept up pure, and all marriage and 
connection with other nations been strictly pre- 
vented. But such has been the case among 
certain nations only; and even in those coun- 
tries, where it was the law, it was not in every 
instance rigidly observed, nor constantly main- 
tained ; as is exemplified in the frequent inter- 
marriages of the Hebrews with the Phoenicians, 


severely prohibited as such intermarriages were. 
The ancient law-givers attached, indeed, a very 
high importance to lineage, as is proved by all 
those restrictive laws on marriage, which were 
destined to preserve the purity of descent ; but 
they set a far higher value on the patrimo* 
nial inheritance of ancient customs, institutions, 
doctrines, and intellectual qualities, as consti- 
tuting the true essence of national character, 
and determining the rank which one race should 
hold above another. By Moses, in particular, 
this intellectual character of the different races 
— their feelings — modes of thinking — the whole 
spirit which animated them, in a word — the 
chain of sacred tradition, and its transmission 
and preservation among the different nations — 
all these are regarded of primary importance, 
and they alone furnish us with a clue to the 
discovery of his views. 

The great middle country in Western Asia, 
where the true Eden, the original abode of the 
first man, and great progenitor of mankind, was 
situated, forms the central point in the general 
historical survey of Moses. The wide-spread race 
of Japhet comprehends the Caucasian nations 
in the North, and all its contiguous regions, and 
also those in the central Asia ; — nations which 
were sound, vigorous, comparatively speaking, 
less corrupt, and by no means entirely barba- T 
rous : but which were debarred from liiat near 
and immediate participation in the sacred Tra- 



ditions of primitive revelation, enjoyed by the 
peoples of the Semitic race in that midland coun- 
try, whose distinctive character and high pre- 
eminence, according to Moses, consisted in this 
very participation. To the South, the race of 
Cham includes the degenerate, corrupt, and un- 
godly Egypt (a country which in its native lan- 
guage bore the name of Chemi), and beyond this, 
all the African tribes devoted to the dark rites 
of Qiagic. How entirely subjective in itself— how 
exclusively adapted to his own people, and his 
own national object, is the genealogy of nations 
by Moses, may be proved among other things by 
the fact that, while many great nations in re- 
moter lands, or in the distant Eastern Asia, 
cannot in this historical survey be traced with- 
out difficulty to their proper place, or forced 
therein without violence to the text, twelve or 
thirteen generations are given of the kindred 
Arabian branch, or of Uie hostile Phoenician 
race. If regarded hi this simple point of view, 
the Mosaic genealogy of all the nations through- 
out the inhabited globe will be found very clear, 
and, though the names of some particular races 
remain matter of doubt, this summary is in ge- 
neral pefectly intelligible, and throws a broad 
light on the history of mankind. 



General considerations upon the nature of man, regarded in 
an historical point of view, and on the two-fold view of 
history. — Of the ancient Pagan Mysteries. — Of the 
universal Empire of Persia. 

Instead of the Mosaic genealogy of nations» 
commented on in a hundred different ways, and 
interpreted according to the received views of 
each individual — a genealogy which was consi- 
dered as the necessary basis of every universal 
history, and which by the most false and arbi- 
trary methods was violently strained into an 
adaptation to all the data of history, evidently 
contrary to the real views and mighty object of 
its inspired author ; — instead of this genealogy, 
we say, the sacred records of divine truth fur- 
nish us with a far more profound principle — a 
principle highly simple and comprehensive, and 
which is perfectly applicable to the philosophy 
of history. This is that principle laid down in 


that revelation, at the commencement of all his* 
tory, as the one wherein consists the pecu- 
liar nature — the true essence — and the final 
destiny of man — I mean his likeness to his 
Creator. Now it is this principle which form» 
the ground-work of our whole plan — and now 
that we have reached the conclusion of the first 
period of history, and are about to pass to the 
second, it may be proper to examine more 
minutely the nature of this principle, and to 
give an accurate definition of it. 

According to the difierent notions entertain- 
ed of man's nature, there are but two opposite 
views of history — two mighty and conflicting 
parties in the department of historical science. 
It is quite unnecessary to observe that we in- 
clude not, in either class, such writers as, confin- 
ing themselves to a bare detail of facts, indulge 
not in any general historical views, or even such 
as, vacillating in th^ir opinions, have no clear, 
definite, and consistent views on the subject. 
According to one party, man is merely an ani- 
mal, ennobled and gradually disciplined into 
reason, and finally exalted into genius ; and 
therefore the history of human civilization is but 
the history of a gradual, progressive, and endless 
improvement. This theory may in a certain 
sense be termed the liberalism of historical phi- 
losophy ; and no one perhaps has developed it 
with such clearness and mathematical rigour, 
as a very celebrated French writer, entirely 


possessed with this idea, and who indeed became 
in his time a martyr to these principles.* 

In the contests of opinion, which embrace 
the general relations of society, it is far less 
those dogmas in which each individual seeks 
light, aid, strength and repose for his feelings 
and his conscience, his inward struggles and 
his final hopes — than the single article of faith 
respecting man, and what constitutes his essen- 
tial being, his internal nature, and his higher 
destiny, which determines the Christian or un- 
christian view — the religion or irreligion of his- 
tory, if I may be allowed the expression.' This 
principle of the endless perfectibility of man has 
something in it very accordant with reason ; 
and if this perfectibility be considered as a mere 
possible disposition of the human mind, there is 
doubtless much truth in the theory, but it must 
be borne in mind that the corruptibility of man 
is quite as i^eat as his perfectibility. 

But when this system is applied to the ge- 
neral course of history, it is destitute of any real 
beginning ; for this vague notion of an animal 
capable of infinite improvement is not a begin- 
ning of any series of terms ; and in philosophy, 
as in life and histwy, there is no true and solid 
beginning for any thing out of God. Aiid this 
principle is equally destitute of any right end ; 
for a mere interminable progress is not ä fixed 

* The author alludes to Condorcet. 


term nor positive object. But history present» 
a mass of stubborn facts, which agree not aiway» 
with this abstract law of an infinitely progres- 
sive perfection, and, on the contrary, the annals 
not only of particular nations, but of whole 
periods of the world, would prove that the natu- 
ral march of humanity lay rather in a circuitous 
course. Ihis disagreeable fact is utterly inex- 
plicable according to the rationalist system of 
history — or if it be susceptible o^ explanation, 
it certainly is not reconcileable with the liberal 
view. As often as from the path of endless per- 
fectibility, thus mathematically traced out for 
them, man and mankind swerve in eccentric 
deviations ; or even should their course, like that 
of the planets of our heaven at stated periods, be 
in appearance once retrogressive ; the historical 
enquirer, who starts from this principle, is im- 
mediately disconcerted by such a course of events 
so contrary to his theory; and, in his blind 
indignation in which he involves alike the pre- 
sent and future, as well as the past, and by the 
false light of the passionate spirit of time, he 
pronounces on these a judgment most iniqui- 
tous, or at best extremely partial, certainly at 
least most repugnant to the dictates of trutli. 

But man is not merely a nobler animal, 
fashioned by degrees to reason or dignified into 
genius. His peculiar and distinctive excellence 
—his real essence — his true nature and destiny 
consist in his likeness to God ; and from this 


principle proceeds a view of history totally dif- 
ferent from that we have just described ; for, 
according to it, man's history must be the his- 
tory of the restoration of the likeness to God, 
or of the progress towards that restoration. 
That this sublime origin of man being once 
supposed — the divine image has been much 
altered, impaired, and defaced in the inmost 
recesses of the human breast, both of man in 
particular and of mankind in general, is a truth 
we may learn, independently of the positive 
doctrine of religion; for clearly is it vouched 
and confirmed by the testimony of our own 
feelings, our own experience of life, and a gene- 
ral survey of the world. No man who well knows 
that' the image of God has been stamped on 
the human soul, — an image, whose old, half- 
obliterated characters are still to be found on 
all the pages of primitive history, and whose 
impress, not utterly effaced, every reflecting 
mind may discover in its own interior — can 
ever forego the hope, that, much as that divine 
image may seem, or may in fact be, impaired, 
its restoration is still possible. The man who 
knows from human life, and from his own expe- 
rience, how great and arduous is this work — how 
many obstacles oppose its accomplishment, and 
how easily, even after a partial success, what 
already appeared won, may be again lost ; — the 
man understanding this, will not be at a loss to 
comprehend any pause or retrogression, real or 


apparent, in the inarch of mankind; he will 
judge the fact with more equity, and conse- 
quently more accuracy ; and will, in every case, 
confide in the guidance of that superior Provi- 
dence, clearly visible in this regeneration of the 
world. If, in opposition to the Rationalist theory 
of man's endless perfectibility, we were to de- 
signate the opposite system of history founded 
on man's inborn likeness to his Maker, as the 
legitimacy of historical philosophy; this title 
would not be incorrect, since all divine and 
human laws and rights, as they are found in 
history, depend in their first basis on the sup- 
position of the high dignity and divine destina- 
tion of man. Hence this view of history is the 
only one which restores to man the full rights 
and peculiar prerogatives of his being. Even 
to all other truths it restores their full force and 
rights ; and it alone can do so without detriment 
to its own principle ; for, as this is the simple 
truth, it is therefore complete and Comprehen- 
sive. It must even acknowledge that man, be- 
side his higher dignity and divine destiny, is 
and remains in his outward existence a physical 
creature — and though he be such not in an ex- 
clusive, but only secondary and subordinate 
sense, still, in respect to his external being and 
external development, he may be subject to cer- 
tain natural laws in history. In the same way 
it may admit that man endowed with freedom, 
even when he rejects the religious principle, is 


Still a being gifted with reason ; a being that 
consequently on this foundation incessantly 
works» builds and improves, in good as in evil, 
essentially, interminably, — we might almost say, 
fearfully progressive. This legitimate philoso- 
phy of history, which proceeds from the high, 
divine point of view, should be, as far as the 
limited capacity of man will permit, a recogni- 
tion and a just appreciation of the truth, and 
thereby become a science of history — that is to 
say, of all which under Providence has occurred 
to the human race. Thus it must by no means 
adopt a view of life and of the world, transcend- 
ing the true right and the right truth — it must 
avoid deviating into ultraism— though this term 
of the present day involves in the expression of 
a true idea, some inaccuracy and misconception. 
On the contrary, this religious view of history 
and of life, precisely because it is Buch, can 
never in its historical judgments sanction a 
spirit of harsh, precipitate, unqualified censure. 
For as the Mosaic doctrine of the divine image 
stamped on the human soul, forms the real and 
distinctively Christian theory of man, and con- 
sequently of his history ; so this evidently im- 
plies that, among all the laws of human conduct, 
emanating from this Christian theory, and from 
Christianity itself, the law of love is the first 
and the greatest : — a law which must retain its 
full force and efficacy not only in life, but in 
science also. Yet love or diarity iß by no 9U»i» 


iacompatible with firmness of principle — the 
vacillations of judgment proceed only from in- 
diflference to, or the utter absence of, all prin- 
ciple — the tomb of love, as well as of truth. 

This divine image implanted in the human 
breast is not an isolated thought — a transient 
flash of light, like the kindling spark of Prome- 
theus : nor is it a mere Platonic resemblance to 
the Deity — an ideal speculation of the human 
mind, soaring beyond the range of vulgar con- 
ception. But, as this likeness to God forms the 
fundamental principle of human existence, it is 
interwoven with the internal structure of human 
'■ consciousness ; and the triple nature of the soul 
is intimately connected with the principle of the 
divine resemblance. In its state of discord, the 
human consciousness, in its external operations, 
pursues four opposite paths of direction towards 
reason (vernunft), or imagination (fantasie), or 
understanding (verstand), or will (wille), so long 
as these faculties remain disunited. But, when 
consciousness is restored to its primitive har- 
mony, the internal life of man is threefold in 
mind, soul, and sense ; and to expound and de- 
monstrate this truth, was the purport and object 
of the Philosophy of Life, which I treated of in a 
former course of lectures. And this triple na- 
ture of spiritual life, which, among all creatures, 
characterizes man alone, is most closely allied 
with the triple energy and personality of the one 
Divine Being, and constitutes, as far as the im- 


measurable distance between the creature and 
Creator will permit, the wonderful analogy be- 
tween weak, mutable man, and the infinite Spirit 
of eternal Love. But the original harmony of 
human consciousness — the triple nature of spi- 
ritual life, can be restored in individual man by 
the following means only : — the soul, previously 
distracted, can regain its unity, or become again 
whole, only by a divine illumination ; — when this 
light — the first ray of hope — is humbly received 
and imbibed by the soul. Enlightened by this 
first incipient ray, the mind, the living mind, no 
longer now a cold, dead, abstract understanding, 
is enabled to embrace with faith the pure word 
of truth (which is one with love), and to compre- 
hend this word aright, and, by this word, to 
comprehend the world and its ownself : — while 
the understanding, in its former isolated and 
abstract state, was both internally and exter- 
nally distracted and divided between the phan- 
tasmata of nature and the endless sophisms of 
contentious dialectic. When thus the strong 
hand of all-guiding love, hath loosed the Gordian 
knot which bound the human consciousness in 
inextricable folds; — ^the third fundamental fa- 
culty in man — ^the sense for divine things — is 
then awakened and excited. This is now no 
longer a mere passive feeling for divine things — 
a will undetermined, or incapable of good : but 
it becomes an energy acting on life — an energy 
which is itself life and deed. 


But the progressire march of social man' 
which constitutes the subject of universal his- 
tory, or, as we term it, the formation and 
growth of humanity, are regulated by principles 
somewhat different from those which determine 
the internal life of individual man. Here the 
different stages of development cannot be class* 
ed according to the three fundamental faculties 
of consciousness in individual man ; but the 
principle of development must be sought for in 
the divine impulse, as the same is attested by 
history, and which, in every stage of social pro- 
gress. has been to mankind the source of a new 
life ; though here again from the very nature of 
things, three marked degrees of social advance- 
ment occur. Corresponding to the divine image 
implanted in the breast of individual man — the 
main subject of all history^the Word of divine 
truth originally commiunicated to man, and which 
the sacred traditions of all nations attest in so 
many and such various ways, forms the leading 
clue of historical investigation and judgment, 
during the first stage of the progress of society. 
But ill the second stage of social development, 
which must be fixed ia that full noon-day period 
of refinement, when victorious Power shines forth 
so conspicuously in the ascehdancy obtained by 
nations, to whom universal pre-eminence was 
accorded — the right notion of this po^er, or the 
question how far it were just and godly, or per- 
nicious in its application — whether it were ini- 


ndcal to Gknl, or at least of a mixed nature — 
must constitute the true standard of historical 
investigation. In the third or last stage, how* 
ever, of this progress, which occurs in the mo- 
dem period of the world, the pure truths of 
Christianity, as they influence science and life 
itself, can alone furnish the right clue of histo- 
rical enquiry, and can alone afford any indica^ 
tion as to the ulterior advances of society in 
future ages. Thus then the Wordy the Power^ 
and the Lights form the three- fold divine princi- 
ple, or the moral classification of historical phi^ 
losophy — ^a classification which is founded on 
historical experience and historical reality. 

The existence of a primitive revelation — the 
establishment of Christianity, which was the 
principle and power of a new moral life in so* 
ciety — and the pre-eminence of modern Europe 
in civilization, in which she outshines all other 
portions of the globe, and even in many respects 
most periods of antiquity, are three historical 
data — three mighty facts in civilization, which 
evince the successive stages of human progress 
and improvement. And it is our task to appre- 
ciate in their full extent qach of those different 
degrees of social advancement, and to compre- 
hend and explain them aright in their relative 
bearings to the whole. That the Christian na- 
tions and states of Europe have received, along 
with the light of Divine truth, a high intellec- 
tual, moral and political illumination, no one 



will deny ; and it is equally evident that this 
vital principle of modern society is still involved 
in the crisis of its development — a crisis which 
will form the principal subject of historical 
enquiry in the latter part of this work. 

It is equally undeniable that, in the second 
period of the world, to which I now pass, each of 
those nations that attained to universal empire 
at that epoch, displayed a high intellectual or 
moral energy. This energy was visible in that 
strong, deep sense of nature, which characterized 
the oTdT ancestral faith and pure manners of the 
ancient Persians, and in that high martial en- 
thusiasm, and fervent patriotism, which it so 
easily inspired. The power of inventive genius in 
the sciences, and in the fine arts, none can deny 
to the Greeks ; none can dispute their pre- 
eminence in these ; as, on the other hand, the 
Romans were equally unrivalled in vigour of 
character, and in that nioral energy of will, 
which they exhibited in all their contests with 
other states. Here now the question to be 
asked is, whether that high intellectual and 
moral energy accorded to those nations, thus 
gifted with universal dominion, were always 
well employed : whether that power, exalted as 
it was, were truly divine, or what were the 
earthly and pernicious elements intermixed with 
it ; — whether this power, great and wonderful as 
it was in its way, were in itself adequate to the 
moral and intellectual regeneration of degraded 


humanity ; or whether a power of another, far f 
purer and higher nature were requisite to this 
end. I should think I had amply solved the 
problem involved in the history of that first 
period of the world, which I have here brought 
to a close, if, in this brief historical sketch, I 
have succeeded in proving the existence of an 
original revelation to mankind — the primitive 
word of divine truth — whereof we find the 
clearest indications and scattered traces in the 
sacred traditions of all the primitive nations — 
traces which, wheti viewed apart, appear like 
the broken remnants, the mysterious, and, as 
it were, hieroglyphic characters — of a mighty 
edifice that has been destroyed. I should think, 
too, I had fully accomplished my task, if I have 
succeeded in proving that, however much amid 
the growing degeneracy of mankind, this primal 
word of revelation may have been falsified by 
the admixture of various errors, however much 
it may have been overlaid or obscured by num- 
berless and manifold fictions, inextricably con- 
fused, and disfigured almost beyond the power 
of recognition; still a profound enquiry will 
discover in heathenism many luminous vestiges 
of primitive truth. 

For the old Heathenism (and we must add 
this remark as the result of our enquiries), the 
old Heathenism had a foundation in truth, and, 
thoroughly examined and rightly understood, 
would serve for a confirmation of the same ; 

VOL. I. s 


for the profound researches of recent times on 
ancient mythology, and its historical sources, 
though conducted with the most opposite views, 
lead us more and more to this great end and 
result of all the knowledge of antiquity, or 
at least very near it. Were it possible, or 
could we succeed in separating the pure intui- 
tion into nature and the simple symbols of 
nature, that constituted the basis of all Hea- 
thenism, from the alloy of error, and the incum- 
brances of fiction ; those first hieroglyphic 
traits of the instinctive science of the first men 
would not be repugnant to truth and to a true 
knowledge of nature, but would ofier on the 
contrary, an instructive image of a freer, purer, 
more comprehensive, and more finished philo- 
sophy of life. For, if man, who is the highest 
\ and most central object of nature on the earth, 
had not possessed in the beginning an instinc- 
tive science and immediate insight into nature, 
he could never have attained to this knowledge 
by the resources of art, and by all the aids of 
instruments and machinery, or have acquired 
thereby a true understanding of nature, her 
internal life, and her hidden powers. The sym- 
bolical error which has produced mythology, 
and which has again emanated from mythology 
— I mean the identification of the symbol with 
the object itself, of which, as the latter was some- 
thing higher and more mysterious, the former 
originally was, and should have been, nothing 
more than the mere explanatory emblem-r-the 


symbolical error is comparatively the most ex- 
cusable ; and, for a being constituted like man, 
whose soul is divided between figurative fancy 
and discursive reason, is almost natural, and 
has grown into a psychological habit, and a 
second nature. This error would never have 
arisen, if the confusion of the high and of the 
low, of the principal and of the inferior, of God 
and of Nature, and the inversion of the due 
order of each, had not, in a partial degree at 
least, previously taken place. The fundamental 
error of Paganism lay in the sensual idolatry of 
nature, by which that inversion of things, and 
with them of all moral doctrines, took place ; 
although this destructive error of materialism is 
to be found not only in the heathen religion, but 
in the atomical philosophy and other false sys- 
tems of science. Besides that sensual deification 
of nature, which was the predominant principle 
in the mythology and popular religion of the 
ancients, there was another and capital error — 
magiCj^ which was a dark and abusive applica- 
tion — an illicit perversion of the high powers 
of nature, when these were really understood, 
and the mind, penetrating through her sensible 
and external veil, had caught her true spirit 
and internal life. This loftier, and, on that 
account, more dangerous error was not so pre- 
valent in the popular and poetical religion of 
antiquity, but was chiefly to be found in the 
secret associations of the Pagan Mysteries. — 


Although these Mysteries which, in Greece, ai» 
well as in Egypt, exerted such a mighty in- 
fluence on public opinion, on science, and on the 
whole system of thinking, nay on life itself, dis- 
closed far graver and profounder doctrines than 
the vulgar mythology of the poets, on all the 
great questions relative to the human soul, its 
capacity and original dignity, as well as to the 
hidden powers of Nature and the whole invisible 
world ; still we must not imagine that the in- 
fluence of these Mysteries was always salutary, 
or that their internal constitution and ruling 
spirit were in their ultimate tendency always 
entitled to commendation. We may, in my opi- 
nion, ascribe to the Egyptians much science, 
especially in physics, more perhaps than the 
Greeks in general, and the Pythagoreans in 
particular, had, as far as we yet know, learned 
and borrowed from them ; but we must not ima* 
gine this Egyptian science to have been exempt 
from a gross alloy of error, and the variou» 
abuses of magic. When once the sacred stand- 
ard and clue of truth are lost, when the due 
order of things and of doctrines is once in- 
verted, then the mind of man often associate» 
the sublime, the mysterious, and the wonderful, 
with the mean, the perverse, and the wicked. 
Amid all those false and whimsical images of 
Gods, the mere symbols of Nature, but at least 
very equivocal emblems and hieroglyphs, the 
temple - sleep of the Egyptians might easily 


nourish illusions of error and visions of dark- 
ness; especially where a magical spirit pre- 
vailed, that IS to say, an illicit purpose in the 
application of the high powers of nature — and a 
will instigated to evil by the arts of the demon. 
And in all science the matter of greatest mo- 
ment, and that which determines its value, is its 
relation to the higher and divine truth ; that is 
to say, whether this science be well employed, 
or whether, on the contrary, it be converted to a 
corrupt and destructive use ; whether the due 
order and subordination of inferior Nature, and 
of every thing earthly, towards God and the 
things of God, which are the principal, be rightly 
observed and maintained. But this fundamental 
truth being once supposed, all science, even 
that which penetrates the deepest into Nature 
and her most hidden springs of life, can conduce 
only to the greater glory of the mighty author of 
Nature. All these natural secrets, and their 
true explanations, are to be found in various 
passages, no aces, and allusions in the Old Tes- 
tament, especially in the books of Moses ; they 
are, indeed, to be found there, like so many 
golden grains of science in full weight, but, 
scattered and dispersed, they serve at once to 
adorn and point out the path that leads to an 
object, ever regarded as the most important 
in Holy Writ — namely, the revealing to man 
the wonderful ways of divine Providence in the 
conduct of the human race — the holy ark of the 






covenant of divine mysteries and promises, if I 
may be allowed such an expression. Here every 
thing is subordinate to religion, every thing mi- 
nisters to this higher object — and this is the 
distinctive mark and stamp of truth, even in the 
investigations of Nature, and of its revealed or 
hidden mysteries. 

How a slight deviation from truth may suf- 
fice to give birth in time to a mighty and pro.- 
gressive error, is strongly exemplified in the 
fundamental doctrine of the ancient religion of 
Persia — a doctrine which was at first nothing 
more than a simple veneration of Nature^ts pure 
elements and its primary energies — the sacred 
fire, and above all, light — the air, not the lower 
atmospheric air, but the purer and higher air of 
heaven — the breath that animates and pervades 
the breath of mortal life. In India, too, this 
doctrine must have been very prevalent in the 
primitive ages ; for many and very ancient pas- 
sages of the Vedas refer to these elements, while 
on the other hand, the names of the later Hindoo 
divinities appear to have been entirely unknown 
at that period. This pure and simple veneration 
of nature is perhaps the most ancient, and was 
by far the most generally prevalent in the pri- 
mitive and Patriarchal world. In its original 
conception, it was by no means a deification of 
Nature, or a denial of the sovereignty of God — 
it was only at a later period that the symbol, as 
it so often happens, was confounded with the 


thing itself, and usurped the place of that 
higher Object which it was destined originally to 
represent. And how can we doubt that these 
pure elements and primitive essences of created 
Nature would offer to the first men, who were 
still in a close communication with the Deity, 
not indeed a likeness or resemblance (for in 
man alone is that to be found), nor a mere 
fanciful image, or a poetical figure, but a na- 
tural and true symbol of divine power; — how 
can we doubt this, I say, when we see that, in 
so many passages of Holy Writ (not to say in 
every part), the pure light or sacred fire is 
employed as an image of the all-pervading and 
all-consuming power and omnipotence of God ? 
Not to speak again of those passages of scrip- 
ture, which describe the animating breath and 
inspiration of God as the first source of life, and 
speak of the gentle breath, the light whisper 
of the breeze that announced to the prophet the 
immediate presence of his God, before whom he 
fell prostrate, and mantled himself in awe and 
reverence; arid this surely cannot be under- 
stood as a poetical and figurative expression ! 
Undoubtedly the scriptures often oppose to that 
natural emblem or veil of divine power, in the 
pure elements, an evil, subterraneous and de- 
structive fire — the false light of the fiends of 
error — the poisonous breath of moral contagion. 
And how could it be otherwise? Nature in its 
origin was nought else than a beautiful image— 


a pure emanation — a wonderful creation — a 
sport of omnipotent love ; so, when it was severed 
from its divine original, internally displaced, and 
turned against its Maker, it became vitiated 
in its substance, and fraught with evil. This 
alienation of Nature from God, this inversion of 
the right order in the relations between God and 
Nature, was the peculiar, essential and fimda- 
mental error of ancient Paganism, its false Mys- 
teries, and the abusive application of the higher 
powers of Nature in magical rites. On the 
other hand, we ought to regard every similar 
inversion of things and of ideas, every similar 
derangement in the divine system, though esta- 
blished on the basis of Christianity, and by 
Christian philosophers — we ought^ I say, to re- 
gard every such attempt as being in its essen- 
tial nature and principle a heathen enterprise — 
the foundation of a scientific Paganism, although 
no altars be erected to Apollo, and no Mysteries 
be celebrated in honour of Isis.* 

The pure symbolism of Nature, and the 
whole circle of the primitive symbolical ideas 
of the Egyptians, several of the Greek writers 
attempted to gather out of the mass of idolatrous 
tenets, natural emblems, and hieroglyphic signs 
of speech ; but their researches do not corres- 
pond to the importance of the subject itself, nor 

* This is an allusion to the Pantheistic Naturalism of Schet- 
ling. — Trofu. 


• I 

. : \ HISTORY. 265 

to the present demands of science. It is well 
worthy of remark that the hieroglyphics, as far 
as they have yet been deciphered, do not indi- 
cate in their formation that variety of epochs 
observable in the Chinese system of writing; 
but on the contrary they seem to be all of a 
single cast, and offer the same circle of ideas 
and the same style of emblems. And as images 
of Gods are to be found in a diminutive form 
among the other hieroglyphic signs, we may 
conclude from this circumstance, that all the \ 
hieroglyphics must have had a simultaneous 
origin, and have remained subsequently un- 
changed ; and that their origin must have oc- . 
curred at a time when the Egyptian idolatry had 
already been wrought into a perfect system. 

In the primitive ages, during the first thirty- __ 
three centuries of the world, according to the 
ordinary computation, the various nations into 
which mankind were divided, followed in their 
development a separate and secluded course ; 
and^ two mighty nations, the Indians and the 
Chinese, have remained to this day in this iso- / . 

lated and totally sequestered state. The peculiar / 

character which distinguishes the second from ; 
the first epoch of the world is that, along with 
the first mighty conquests, there existed a much 
closer connection, a mutual influence, an active 
commerce, and various intercourse among many ^ ■ ^ - 
nations, nay, among all the nations of the then J 
civilized world. From this period, when the inter- 



course among nations becomes more intimate. 
History acquires greater clearness, precision, and 
critical exactness ; and this is only six, or at most 

/ ; seven centuries before the Christian era. The 

' first Persian conquerors advanced with rapid 

strides towards the objects of their ambition ; for 

after the founder of the Persian empire — Cyrus, 

v^ had made himself master of the whole central 
region of Western Asia, as well as of the Lesser 
Asia, his successes were soon followed up by the 

^ conquest of Egypt by the arms of Cambyses ; 
and a little subsequent to this, by the great ex- 

"" pedition of Xerxes into Greece, whose valiant de- 
fenders, however, ruined his hopes of conquest. 
Egypt, which in its intellectual character, civi- 

(, lization, and political institutions, had a much 
stronger analogy and affinity with those two 
great primitive states —India and China, shut 
out from the rest of the world, was engaged in 
political relations with the nations of Western 
Asia, and those inhabiting the shores of the 
Mediterranean, such as the Persians, the Phoeni- 
cians, and the Greeks ; and hence a short sketch 
of its political history, down to the period of 
the Persian conquest, as far at least as is neces- 
sary for the elucidation of general history, will 
not be here inappropriate or misplaced. 

The long list of names of kings, belonging to 
more than twenty d3niasties of the ancient Pha- 
raohs, furnishes indeed matter of little interest 
or importance to the philosophic enquirer in his 


researches on universal history. It is, however, 
worthy of remark that many and vast expedi- ^ 
tions appear to have been undertaken in the 
early ages of Egypt ; though, while mention is 
made of such conquests, nothing is said of the 
permanent possession of the conquered coun- ^ 
tries. Sesostris, who, in the lifetime of his 
father, Amenophis, had seized the whole coast 
of Arabia, next vanquished, for the first time, 
Lybia and Ethiopia, afterwards extended his , 
conquests to Bactriana, subdued the Scythian 
nations in the Caucasian countries, in Colchis, 
and as far as the Don, and even took possession 
of Thrace. The descent of the Colchians from 
the Egyptians, or the existence of an Egyptian 
colony in Colchis, was regarded by the ancients 
as an historical fact. The yet more ancient 
King Osymandas is said to have undertaken an 
expedition, attended by an immense army, to 
reconquer Bactriana that had revolted against 
the Egyptian sway ; and the triumphant arms of 
Osiris stretched on one hand as far as the Ganges, 
and on the other as far as the sources of the 
Danube. Here a question arises : — did the 
Egyptians possess heroic poems similar to the ' 
Ramayana and Mahabarata of the Indians, and 
were these marvellous narratives extracted from 
these poems? Or had all these narratives a 
signification purely mythic, as we may easily 
conjecture to be the case in the expedition of 
Osiris ? In those historical ages which are better 


known to us, Egypt was certainly never a con- 
quering power — at least its conquests were 
never of a solid and permanent nature ; though 
even in those times Egypt made some transient 
conquests, or at least expeditions ; and, guilty of 
great political encroachments on other states 
and nations, was often doomed to experience 
from these a vigorous resistance to her attempts. 
A part of Libya, the coast of Arabia contiguous 
to the Red Sea, and the Arabia PetraBa, acknow- 
ledged for a long time the sceptre of the Pha- 
raohs, (and this fact indeed, the various monu- 
ments covered over with hieroglyphics, which 
are found in those countries, would seem to cor- 
roborate) : Ethiopia, too, or at least a consider- 
able portion of that region, was for a long pe- 
riod in the possession of the Egyptian kings. 
The construction of the many ancient and vast 
edifices and monuments which are crowded 
t(^ether in the province of Thebais must, to all 
appearance, have required a greater number of 
hands than the Proper Egypt (a country by no 
means of considerable extent) could have fur- 
nished of itself. As Ethiopia had been con- 
quered by the Egyptians, so the Ethiopians in 
their turn invaded Egypt, and founded there a 
royal dynasty. The second of these Ethiopian 
kings, Tirhaka, sought to stretch his conquests 
as far Libya and the Northern coast of Africa, 
and must have penetrated as far as the columns 
of Hercules, or the modern straits of Gibraltar. 


On the other hand, there is historical evidence 
that even the Carthaginians, at the time when 
the family of Mago had the ascendancy in their 
state, conquered and took possession of the 
Egyptian city of Thebes. The king of Egypt, 
who is known in the historical books of the 
Hebrews by the name of Shishak, and who 
made the transient conquest of Jerusalem, is 
called Sheshonk or Sesonchis in the ancient 
inscriptions of the Pharaohs. 

It is worthy of remark that we find, in the 
old Egyptian monuments, pictures of war-scenes 
representing very strangely-formed, or at least 
very remote, nations, as captives of war, and 
among these, we distinguish some with red hair 
and blue eyes, tattooed on the legs, perfectly 
corresponding to the descriptions which many 
ancients have left us of the Scythian nations. 
At a much earlier period, a Nomade tribe of 
Phoenician, or, most probably, Arabian descent, ( 
had taken possession of the throne of Egypt, 
and had established in that country the national 
dynasty of the Hycsos, that is to say, the Shep- 
herd-kings. Some have wished to connect these 
with the Israelites ; but in the whole history of 
the latter — the hospitable reception of the He- 
brew colony under Joseph — its subsequent op- 
pression — and its final expulsion from Egypt in 
the time of Moses, we can find no trace of any 
such dominion of a pastoral nation of Hebrews, 
or of any dynasty founded by them in Egypt ; 




and even other circumstanceB agree not at all 
with such a supposition. With the neighbouring 
nations and tribes, Egypt had manifold and 
various relations, which, though in some parti- 
culars they might be similar, were far from being 
identical. If it is proved that Sesostris ascend- 
ed the throne immediately after his father had 
succeeded in expelling the Hycsos, it may fairly 
be presumed that as an internal revolt against 
a foreign power and a foreign dynasty is wont 
to enkindle a spirit of martial enthusiasm, which 
easily leads to ulterior and more vigorous un- 
dertakings; the expeditions and conquests of 
Sesostris, though ever «o much exaggerated, are 
not entirely destitute of historical foundation. 
Thus much is certain, that in antiquity there 
existed in many places, comparatively remote 
from Egypt, whole colonies, especially of a 
sacerdotal kind, whose origin was undoubtedly 
Egyptian; and that the first colonies which car- 
ried arts and civilization into Greece, and the 
other countries bordering on the Mediterranean; 
did not come solely from Phcenicia ; for even in 
Greece, the genealogy of many royal families- 
and ancient cities, as well as most, if not all, 
the Mysteries, particularly the Orphic, pointed 
to Egypt as their common parent. And it is 
very possible that in those early ages, in which 
these Egyptian expeditions are said to have 
been undertaken, armed colonies may have emi- 
grated from Egypt, not always influenced how- 

HISTORY. 27 t 

ever by those commercial views which invari- 
ably directed the colonists of Phoenicia; but 
animated by those higher motives of religion, 
which, for example, had such an evident in- 
fluence on the first Persian conquests — by a 
desire to dilSuse the Mjr^ries, and thereby, 
while they bound to Egypt the then still bar- 
barous nations of the West, to raise the latter 
to the more exalted scale of Egyptian civiliza- 
tion. Even domestic troubles and civil discord 
may have been instrumental in producing those 
distant emigrations, which at this distance of 
time appear to us so mysterious and unaccount- 
able. Such civil discord indeed existed in Egypt 
under various forms. The country itself was 
often divided into several kingdoms ; and even 
when united, we observe a great conflict of 
interests between the agricultural province of 
Upper Egypt, and the commercial and manu-, 
factiirmg province of the Lower ; as indeed a 
similar clashing of interests is often to be no- 
ticed in modern states. In the period immedi- 
ately preceding the Persian conquest, the caste 
of warriors, that is to say, the whole class of 
nobility were decidedly opposed to the mo- c 
narchs, because they imagined them to promote 
too much the power of the priesthood ; in the 
same way as the history of India presents a simi- 
lar rivalry or political hostility between the Brah- \ 
mins and the caste of the Cshatriyas. In the 
reign of the Egyptian king Psammetichus, who 


had first checked or repelled the Scythian na- 
tions whose victorious arms then menaced the 
whole of Asia, this disalSection of the native 
nobility obliged this prince to take Greek sol- 
diers into his pay ; and thus at length was the 
defence of Egypt intrusted to an army of foreign 
mercenaries. This circumstance, as well as the 
great commercial intercourse with the Greeks, 
and the number of Greek settlements in Lower 
Egypt, had made this province half Greek even 
prior to the Persian conquest ; and had paved 
the way, and opened the door, to this, as well as 
to the later, conquest by the Greeks : for, in 
general, states and kingdoms, before they suc- 
cumb to a foreign conqueror, are, if not out- 
wardly and visibly, yet secretly and internally 

The classical writers of antiquity begin in 
general their universal history by an account of 
the Assyro-Babylonian empire, which preceded 
the Medo-Persian, and the annals of the early 
mythic ages of this empire are embellished with 
the fabulous victories of Semiramis ; as similar 
fictions indeed are to be found in the primitive 
Sagas of all the other Asiatic nations. How- 
ever, the conquest of Media by Ninus, appears 
to be more historical. The simplest, and for 
that reason, the most correct view of the sub- 
ject is this, that in this great central region of 
Western Asia, four countries were contiguous, 
which often formed separate empires — Babylon 


ftnd Assyria, Media and Persia ; and which» -j 
when united, were governed sometimes by one, ; 
sometimes by another province, according to the , 
country to which the ruling dynasty belonged ; 
while the different capitals of these four coun- 
tries, Babylon, Ninive, Ecbatana, Susa, or Per- 
sepolis alternately formed during their flourish- 
ing period the centre of a great empire. This 
first Assyro - Babylonian universal monarchy, 
as it is called, should not be considered as a 
distinct period of history, but rather as the^ 
most ancient dynasty of a great Asiatic em-r- 
pire^ which was succeeded by a second, the 
Medo-Persian dynasty ; in the same way as the 
successors of Alexander the Great founded in 
this very country a new Greek king^lom, and as at 
a later period the Parthians, whose original seat 
lay to the North-east, re-established in this land 
a native sovereignty, that proved very formida-» 
ble to the Romans. This great middle country 
of Western Asia is the native seat of conquest ; 
it was hence that emanated the spirit of ambi^ 
tion and enterprise, which found indeed in the 
very situation of the country most extraordinary 
facilities. And it is here, too, that Holy Writ 
places the abode of the first universal conqueror 
— the cradle of all ambition and conquest. In 
the very place where the ancient Babylon stood 
there are now immense ruins, to which the inha- 
bitants of the country give the name of Nim- 
rod's castle, and which involuntarily bring to the 

VOL. I. T 


pxodern traveller's mind the old histroy of the 
Tower of Babel ; as these ruins in all probabi- 
lity üodrmed a pogrt of the great temple of Belns, 
which in eight lofty stories rose to a prodigious 
height, and on the pinnacle whereof stood a 
colossal idol of the National Diyinity — the sun. 
Even now the ruinp of this temple, piled in 
immense heaps one upcm the other, and which 
seem as if glazed by some raging fire, produce a 
very profound impression on the mind ; and to 
such a height do Üiey rise that the clouds rest 
on their summit above, while lions couch on 
the walls, or haunt the caverns below. Here^ 
too, we look for the place where were the vast 
terraces, with their hanging or floating gardens^ 
as the ancients called them, and which in a 
country by no means abounding in wood, the 
Assyrian monarch constructed from affection to 
^ his Median spouse. Here the widely scattered 
heaps and mounds of brick, inscribed with the 
cuneal characters of Babylon, attest the exist- 
ence and vast circumference of the mighty ca- 
pital, of whose dimensions no European city, 
but the Asiatic cities only, can famish an ade- 
quate idea. This Babylonish tower has been 
in every age a figure of the heaven-aspiring 
edifice of lordly arrogance, which sooner or later 
is stire to be struck down anjl scattered afar by 
the arm of the divine Nemesis; and in Holy 
Writ itself, the Babylon giddied by the intoxi- 
cating cup of ambition, drunk with the blood of 


nations, is a mighty historical emblem, appli- 
cable to every age from the earliest to the latest 
times, of the mad, people-destroying career of 
a Pagan pride. Here did the evil commence, 
although the first Assyrian empire had no very 
extensive influence on the nations westward, 
and although the real epoch of universal con- 
quest dates from the Persian Cyrus. Yet Üie 
ancient Babylon contrived to maintain her 
power, for, as has so often been exemplified in 
history, she, by the moral contagion of her volup- I 
tuous manners, conqu^ed her conquerors, who 
abandoned the gods of their ancestors, to em- 
brace the sensual nature-worship of the Baby- 
lonians. In the new monarchy founded by 
Cyrus, the Persians (now the ruling nation)^ 
were closely united and politically, at least, in- 
corporated with the once more powerful Medes. 
Yet their race and language were originally very 
difierept, and even at a later period we can still 
observe some traces of mutual jealousy in a 
qhaiige of dynasty, or the forcible dethrone- 
ment of the prince. The institute of the Magi, 
which Cyrus established in his new Persian 
empire, served outwardly at least, to cement this 
lonion ; for the Magi were of the Median race, ) 
and their sacred zend-books were not composed 
in the Persian language, but in two distinct ] 
dialects of Media, if one indeed were not rather 
Bactrian. The Magi were not so much an here- . 
ditary sacerdotal caste, as an order or associa- / 
^ t2 


tion divided into yarious and successive ranks 
and grades, such as existed in the Mysteries — 
the grade of apprenticeship — that of mastership 
-—that of perfect mastership. Foreigners could 
not easily gain admission into this sacerdotal 
order ; and it was only at the express solicita^ 
tion of the King of Persia, at whose court he 
resided, that this extraordinary favour was ac- 
corded to Themistocles. Whether the old Per- 
sian doctrine and system of light * did not un- 
dergo material alterations in the hands of its 
Median restorer, Zoroaster; or whether this 
doctrine were preserved in all its purity by the 
order of the Magi, may well be questioned. It 
is certain at least that that primitive venera- 
tion of nature is found completely disfigured 
, and corrupted in the small existing remnant of 
the sect of Guebers or fire -worshippers. 

On the order of the Magi devolved the import- 
ant trust of the monarch's education — a trust 
which must necessarily have given" them great 
weight and influence in the state. They were in 
high credit at the Persiangates — for that was 
the oriental name given to the capital of the 
empire, and the abode of the prince ; and they 
took the most active part in all the factions that 
encompassed the throne, or that were formed in 
the vicinity of the court. In Greece, and even 

^ In the German " Lichtsage" or Tradition of Light. — Treuu, 


in Egypt, the sacerdotal fraternitieB and asso- 
ciations of initiated, formed by the Mysteries, 
had in general but an indirect, though not unim- 
portant, influence on affairs of state ; but in the 
Persian monarchy they acquired a complete po- 
litical asceiiHency . The next main pillar of the 
Persian monarchy was its nobility, or the princi- 
pal race of the Pasargads, who immediately sur- ' 
rounded the throne, enjoyed the highest prero- 
gatives, and formed indeed the flower of the 
Persian army. The strict moral and military 
education which this nobility received, and of 
which Xenophon has drawn such a beautiful 
ideal sketchy constituted the chief strength of 
the state. And certainly the neglect of this 
old Persian system of education was one of 
the primary causes of the decline of the em- 
pire — a decline which the progressive relax- 
ation and corruption of public morals accele- 
rated with a fearful rapidity. After the first 
mighty impulse, and that severe moral character 
which Cyrus had imparted to Persia, had dis- 
appeared, the same fate befel this empire, as 
has befallen all the great oriental monarchies. 
The same evils, which the domination of pro- 
vincial Satraps — a government of the Seraglio — 
invariably bring along with it — the factions, the 
conspiracies, the changes of dynasty, and the 
other disorders incident to despotism, appear 
in exactly similar colours in the Persian annals ; 
and even in the modem kingdom of Persia, we 


find many of those characteristic traits or usages 
of Asiatic goyemment, as they existed in the 
ancient empire. Even the army for the most 
part consisted of troops levied out of the con- 
quered nations, and the greater were its num- 
bers, the less internal union did it possess. 
Hence we can well conceiye that a small army 
of Greeks, animated by patriotic valour, and 
commanded by generals possessed of a true tac* 
tical eye and genius, were able to oppose to the 
immense hosts of Persia a resistance which in 
a numerical point of view, appears ahnost incre- 
dible, and were even enabled to gain unexpected 
victories over their enemies. We can conceive 
too, how in the time of Alexander the Great, 
three battles should have decided the fate of 
this great empire ; for its moral life and energy 
were gone, and the pillars of the state were 
completely decayed. 

The Persian empire lasted but for the short 
period of two hundred and twenty years, from 
its foundation by Cyrus to the reign of the last 
Darius, whose personal character and &te leave 
such an affecting and tragical impression on 
our minds. The universal conquests of the Per- 
sians, rapid, but transient, acted' on the age with 
all the violence of the elemental pow^^ of na- 
ture. Sudden and rapid, like a wind-storm, they 
invaded and subdued all other states and king- 
doms ; — the expedition of Xerxes into Greece 
was a real inundation of nations — and as the 


destructive fire, after blazing on hi^ and deso- 
lating and consuming all things around, sinks 
quickly again — ^it was so with the Peraian em- ^ 
pire. The dominion of the Persians exerted no ^ 
yery permanent influence on those other na- 
tions whose civilization was anterior to their 
own. Egypt, in despite of the violent persecu- 
tion which she sustained under Cambyses, re- 
mained still the ancient Egypt — and with yet 
greater fidelity did she cling to her ancient cus- 
toms, under the milder sway of the Ptolemies, 
whose government was so much more congenial 
to her spirit and character. Phoenicia, Pales- 
tine, and Asia Minor, also remained essentially 
unchanged. In an historical point of view, the ^ 
main result of the Persian conquests was this — 
they brought the nations of Western Asia and 
of Egypt into a close contact, and a very active , 
and permanent intercourse with the states of 
Greece, and those situated on the shores of the 
Mediterranean. The Persian dominion, and the 
contest of that power with Greece, had indeed a 
very great, though only indirect, influence on 
the latter country, inasmuch as it favoured 
the growth and development of Grecian liberty, 
and at a later period produced the great re- 
action under Alexander the Great. This Greek 
re-action was in its spirit and character some- 
what similar to the previous irruption and am- 
bitious invasion of the Persians ; in Alexander 
at least, we can clearly discover an oriental 



spirit that) not content with the narrow bounda-» 
ries of his hereditary kingdom of Macedon» 
sought to transcend the sphere of Hellenic civi- 
lization, Hellenic doctrines, and Hellenic modes 
of thinking. And I call that an Asiatic enthu* 
siasm which, with resistless impetuosity, bore 
away the Macedonian to the capital of Persia» 
and even beyond the banks of the Indus. 



Variety of Grecian life and intellect. — State of education and of 
the fine arts among the Greeks. — ^The origin of their philo- 
sophy and natural science. — ^Their political degeneracy. 

It would be difficult to point out a more striking 
difference, a more decided opposition in the 
whole circle of the intellectual and moral cha- 
racter and habits of nations, as far at least as 
the sphere of known history extends, than that 
which exists between the seclusive and monoto- 
nous character of Asiatic intellect — the gene- 
rally unchangeable uniformity of oriental man- 
ners and oriental society^ and the manifold 
activity — the varied life of the Greeks, in the 
first flourishing ages of their history. This 
amazing diversity in the moral and intellectual 
habits of the Greeks appears not only in their 
legislation, their forms of government, their 
matiners, occupations, and usages of life, but ia 


their ya;rious and widely dispersed settlements 
and colonies, in their descent, which was com- 
posed of so many heterogeneous elements, in 
the first seeds of their civilization — as well as 
their distribution into hostile tribes and great 
and petty states, and even in their traditions, 
their history, and the arts and forms of art to 
which those gave rise— finally in a science, en- 
gaged in incessant strife, and marching from 
system to system, amid the noise and tumult of 
opposition. In Asia, even in those countries 
such as India, where the poetry, the views of 
life, and the systems of philosophy were ex- 
tremely various, and bore in this respect an 
external resemblance to those of Greece ; where 
even the country in ancient times was never 
permanently united into one compact empire ; 
yet the whole way of thinking, the prevalent 
feeling was entirely monarchical, proceeding 
from, and returning again to, unchangeable 
unity. On the other hand, in Greece, science, 
^like life itself, was thoroughly republican— and 
if we meet with particular thinkers, who leaned 
to this Asiatic doctrine of unity, we must regard 
this as only an exception — a system adopted 
from a love of change, or out of a spirit of oppo^ 
sition to the vulgar and generally received opi- 
nion that all in nature and the world, as well as 
in man, was in a state of perpetual movement, 
constant change, and freedom of life. Even the 
fabulous world of Grecian divinities, as it has 


been painted by their poets, has a republican 
cast; for there every thing is in a^state of 
change, of successire renoration, and of mutual > 
collision in the war of Nature's elements, in the 
hostility of old and new deities of the superior ( 
and inferior Gods— of giants and of heroes — 
presenting, as it does, a state of poetical anar- 
chy. Hence, eyen the historical traditions of 
the Greeks, and the first accounts of their early 
seats, settlements, and the migrations of their 
difierent races, present to the eye of the histori- 
cal enquirer a dense forest of truth and fiction^ 
of fanciful conjecture, absolute fable, and ancient 
and yenerable knowledge— a labyrinth of poetry 
and of history, in whose various and intricate 
mazes it is often difficult for the critic to find 
the true outlet, and to hold fast by the guiding 
clue of Ariadne, when he wishes to adopt a lucid 
arrangement, and assign to each part its due 
place in the system of the whole. The Greek 
tribes and nations inhabited not only the pro- 
per Greece, the Peninsula Peloponnesian, the 
contiguous islands, the Southern plains of the 
Continent (on whose Northern frcmtiers it is often 
difficult to draw the line of demarcation between 
the tribes of Greek and foreign extraction) ; and 
also the Western coasts of Asia Minor; but 
they had founded a number of small states and 
planted many flourishing colonies in the re- 
motest comers of the Euxine, in the Lower 
Egypt, where, long prior to the Persian wars^ 


many Greek settlements existed — along the 
Northern shore o£ Africa, where the flourish- 
ing Cyrene was situated, on the Southern coasts 
of Spain and Gaul, in Sicily, and throughout 
the whole of Southern Italy. Their nayigation 
extended even to the Baltic, as the voyage 
of Pytheas evinces; and, though they did 
not circumnavigate Africa, — a thing which 
it is still doubtful whether the Phaenicians 
accomplished, — they rather surpassed than 
yielded to the latter nation in the activity of 
their trade, and the wealth and extent of 
their Colonies. The stupendous monuments 
and edifices of the Egyptians are indeed of 
more colossal dimensions; yet the works of 
Grecian sculpture and architecture, while some 
of them are on a very laige scale^ are incompa* 
rably more various, more rich in ornament, 
more animated, and beautiful, than those of 
Egypt. The Greeks were not a mere sea-faring 
and commercial people, like the Phoenicians; 
nor did they compete with the Egjrptians in 
those proud monuments of architecture whose 
erection required such thousands of human 
hands ; but they were from their earliest period 
a martial people, well trained to war. Indepen* 
dently of every feeling of patriotic enthusiasm 
and national defence, they looked on war as a 
trade and a living, and they loved it accord* 
ingly. This is proved by the fact that, in the 
age preceding the Persian conquest, and long 


before the Persians waged war with Greece, the 
Kings of Egypt had not only Greek squadrons 
in their service, but that the whole Egyptian 
army was for the most part composed of Grecian 
mercenaries. Such, too, was the case in Car^ 
thage, and, at a later period, in Persia, where 
whole legions and armies of Greeks were en^ 
gaged in the service of the great king. This 
old custom among the Greeks of enlisting in 
the military service of foreign states, may have 
been indeed an excellent preparation for their 
great national wars, though in these the first 
great exploits were achieved by small compa- 
nies of troops from Athens, Sparta, and other 
free states, as well as by a select body of free 
citizens. But this custom could have had no 
very favourable influence on national opinions 
and feelings, and the mutual relations of the 
Greek tribes and states. 

The Republican form of government mostly 
prevailed in the various Greek settlements and 
Colonies, established round the shores of the 
Mediterranean ; for it is to this species of govern- 
ment that maritime nations, commercial cities, 
and petty states almost always incline, as long 
as their territories remain circumscribed. Yet 
in these states, we find a great variety of poli^ 
tical constitutions; for along with that multi-^ 
tude of small commercial Republics, there were 
many, like Sparta and others, that depended ex^ 
clusively, or for the most part, on agriculture 


and the ridies of the soiL In these, the heredi- 
tary nobility, the profrietorB of the soil, formed 
die inrincipal das» ; for in genend the Greek» 
attached a very high importance to the noble 
races and princely families that deduced their 
descent from the old heroic times. The original 
constitution of many, of almost the greater part 
of these small Greek Bepublics, was a tolera- 
bly mild aristocracy, headed by an hereditary 
Prince, or chieftain. In some states, as for 
instance idti Athens, the transition from this old 
ariatocratical government, headed by an here- 
ditary prince, to a thoroughly democratic con«- 
stitution, was but slow and gradual; as the 
memory of their ancient kings, for example, of 
Godrus, who fell in the defence of his country, 
was ever cherished by the Athenian people with 
love and reverence. The popular hatred in 
Athens was directed only against those leaders 
of the state who, like Pisistratus, after having 
obtained their power by means of popular in^ 
fluenee, sought to stretch and perpetuate it by 
force of arms and the use of foreign mercena- 
ries. Yet even Pisistratus possessed great qua- 
lities, and his sway was in general mild, and 
conformable to the laws of Solon; — it cannot 
be denied, however, that his was an usurped 
authority, and one founded on illegitimate force. 
At a later period, and when the Athenian state 
became more and more democratic — ^as there is 
not a more thankless being in all nature than 


the BOTereign people, in its lawless and ca|Hri- 
eious rule^ the people of Athens, jealous of their 
freedom, and too easily deluded by the arts of 
oratorical sophistry, pointed their hatred at all 
the great men and deserving citizens of the 
state. The general Miltiades perished in pri* 
son ; Aristides the just, Cimon and many others 
fell the victims of ostracism, and died in exile, 
as did the great historians, Herodotus and 
Thucydides. Themistocles himself, who had 
been the liberator of Athens and of Greece, 
was obliged to take refuge at the court of the 
Persian monarch, from whom he received pro- 
tection and hospitality. The wisest of the 
Athenians, the master of Plato, who had ever 
proved himself an honest citizen and a valiant 
defender of his country, received the cup of 
poison for his recompence. 

But we no where discover in the early ages 
of Athens, and of the other Greek Republics, 
that hatred to kings and to royalty in general, 
which even the primitive history of Rome dis- 
plays. Nay, in Sparta, amid a Republican 
constitution, the kingly power and dignity were 
preserved inviolate down to the latest period ; 
while in Macedon a new monarchy grew up, 
which at first asserted a sort of Protectorate 
over the other states, and at last established 
a very despotic ascendancy over all Greece^ 
Even in those states where the constitution was 
more democratical, that is to Bay, where it was 


founded, not on an hereditary nobility and the 
possession of the soil, but chiefly on moveable 
property, on trade, and manufactures, we must 
not look for that sort of arithmetical freedom 
and equality which exists in some modern Re^ 
publics, for instance, in the United States of 
America. The number of citizens really free, 
eligible, and possessed of the right of suffrage, 
was exceedingly small when compared with the 
bulk of the population — by far the greater part 
were not so, and a multitude of bought slaves, 
especially in the commercial states, was em«* 
ployed in manufactures, and in the tillage of 
the land. This universally prevalent custom — 
the harsh treatment and oppression of slaves — 
forms a very painful contrast in the ancient 
Republics, little corresponding to our own ideal 
of social happiness, and in itself very degrading 
to humanity. In the interior and more aristocra- 
tic states, slavery assumed another shape — the 
remnant of the original inhabitants of the soil, 
that had survived the conquest of their country, 
such as the Helots of Sparta, and the Penests^ 
of Thessaly, were not merely reduced by the 
conquerors in their newly-founded government» 
to the condition of vassals, as we should term 
them, or even of serfs ; but were degraded to a 
state of absolute slavery, and generally treated 
with great severity. If we except this one 
circumstance, the aristocracy, that ruled in most 
of the ancient Republics of Greece, was on tKe 


whole, tolerably well constituted ; a number of 
accessory circumstances had tended to soften 
its sway, and even, in some instances, it was 
ennobled by high worth. Ancestral manners and 
customs — the very smallness of the states — all 
tended to mitigate its rule — a wise legislation, 
like that of Solon, and of other law-givers ani- 
mated by the same spirit, had at once consoli- 
dated and tempered its power ; while it was 
adorned by republican virtues and many per- 
sonab qualities in those elder and better times, 
ere the ancient simplicity of manners was yet 
totally corrupted. 

In n^ost of the Greek Republics, besides, com- 
merce daily acquired greater influence and im- 
portance, and it was impossible in such a state 
of things that any rigidly exclusive aristocracy 
could have been formed, or could have long 
maintained its ascendancy. Even the priest- 
hood in Greece (for there there was no danger 
of the political predominance of an hereditary 
sacerdotal caste, as in Egypt), even the priest- 
hood, by maintaining ancient manners, customs 
and laws, on which indeed their own existence 
depended, exerted a mild and beneficial influ- 
ence in the state; for they at least formed a 
counterpoise to a mere selfish aristocracy, and 
sometimes opposed the last barrier to democratic 

The Mysteries too, in particular, which, aU 
though they did not at a later period, as in 

VOL. I. u 


their origin, dilSiise a sounder morality thaii 
the popular mythology, yet certainly inculcated 
more serious doctrines» and more spintual views 
of life, exerted, together with the Olympic and 
Isthmian gaq^es, a gentle, and on the whole, a 
very beneficial, influence, and served as a bond 
of connection betM^een the variously divided 
and discordant nations of Greece. Nay these 
public and gjonnastic games, which were cele- 
brated in the festive poetry of the Greeks, 
served to knit more firmly the bond of national 
union, so exceedingly loose among this people ; 
and many times, in a moment of danger, has 
the oracle of Delphi roused and united all the 
sons of Hellas. These political decisions of the 
oracle were not false, so far at least as in these 
critical moments they gave no other counsel to 
the Greeks, but that of patriotic courage, pru- 
dent firmness, and national concord» 

Widely dissimilar as were the Greek tribes 
and nations in their original seats and settle- 
ments, their occupations and modes of living, 
their manners and political institutions, they 
difiered not less in the primitive elements of 
their civilization. The Phoenician Cadmus, ac- 
cording to tradition, brought the alphabet, and 
with it, undoubtedly, many other elements of 
knowledge to the city of Thebes — the Egyptian 
Cecrops laid the ground-work of the old Athe- 
nian manners and government — ^the Thracian 
Orpheus, though his doctrines had much ana- 


^gy to those of Egypt, founded the widely dif- / 
fused Mysteries that bore his name, while he 
sought by song to mitigate the terrors of the* 
lower world, and to overcome the powers of 
darkness. To these many other names might 
be added; and among them many which did 
not deduce their descent, like most indeed, from <; 
Phoenicia and Egypt, but are clearly to be 
traced, as well as the doctrines and sacred cus- ^ 
toms they introduced, to the North ; and, though \ 
they sprang more immediately from* Asiatics on ' 
the northern side of the Caucasus, tliey were 
nearly allied to the nations dwelling further 
towards the North and West. The profound 
and concurrent researches of many modern 
scholars have adduced such numerous and re- 
peated proofs from antiquity, of the existence 
of this Northern stratum in Greek antiquitjes, ^ 
that this branch of Grecian history, formerly 
neglected, must no longer pass unobserved. 
The Greeks were of very various extraction ; 
and in the different countries of Greece we may 
distii^uish, along with the Hellenes, two if not 
more, principal nations, clearly distinct from 
the former. These were the Thracians in the 
Northern provinces, or at least in those imme- 
diately contiguous — a race for the most part of ', 
Northern descent, and, t(^ether with the Indian^ 
the most numerous on the earth according to He- 
rodotus — perhaps of the same origin with the 
nations on the banks of the Danube, or even 

u 2 




those further northward. There were, next, thie 
Pelasgi, the real aborigines of Greece, the author» 
of those gigantic walls and constructions, which 
are known in Italy by the name of Cyclopean, 
and in Greece by that of Pelasgic, and some of 
which still exist, besides several others that ex- 
isted in the Peloponnesus, and which are men- 
tioned by the ancients. These Aborigines, or 
this primitive race of people, occur m many 
countries under the same, or at least very simi- 
lar, traits — to them we must ascribe those mo- 
numents of architecture we have just spoken 
of, a certain knowledge of metals, some rude 
religious rites, without any mythology, which 
was only of later origin, nay without any names 
of specific divinities; — human sacrifices— -man- 
ners and customs, if not absolutely savage, still 
very rude and barbarous, and a constant rest- 
lessness and a disposition to roam. Deucalion 
alone is to be considered as the ancestor of the 
j Hellenes, as all the noble families of kings and 
heroes derived their descent from him, and the 
later tribes of Greece, the iBolians, the Dorians, 
and lonians, took their names from his «ons. 
According to every indication, this people would 
appear to be a Caucasian race of Asiatics, of 
Indian, or at least of a cognate, origin. When 
these Hellenes, iBolians and Dorians, had taken 
possession of Thessaly, of the adjacent coun- 
tries, and the Peloponnesus, and had there 
formed settlements, the Pelasgi were every 


where dispossessed, or oppressed, and thrown ^ 
into the back-ground. But they certainly were 
not entirely extirpated, nor did they emigrate in 
full numbers ; and it is beyond a doubt that 
various causes contributed to unite the old and ^ 
new inhabitants of Greece ; for here intermar- 
riages were not entirely prohibited and rigidly 
prevented, as in India or Egypt, by the institu- 
tion of castes ; and the two nations were gra- 
dually formed into one race and one people, ac^ f 
cording as the circumstances or situation of one 
country or the other favoured such an union. 
And hence we can understand why Herodotus, 
for example, should have attributed to the loni- ^ 
ans in particular much that was Pelasgic, as if 
under this new denomination they were in all 
essential points the ancient Pelasgi, or had 
mingled more with the latter, and were not of 
such a pure Hellenic race as the Dorians : for 
in other respects, the Pelasgi and Hellenes are 
represented as being originally two perfectly 
distinct nations. The people of Thrace, too, 
although they continued as a separate nation to 
a much later period, undoubtedly mingled con- 
siderably with the Hellenic tribes that inhabited 
the borders of Thrace, or that lived among the 
inhabitants of that country. 

The primitive inhabitants of Greece were 
in general extremely rude and barbarous in 
their manners and tenets ; until the noble race 
of Prometheus, the sons of Deucalion, who had 


come from the regions of Mount Caucasus, and 
colonies still more civilized that had emigrated 
from Phcenicia, Egypt, and other countries 
of Asia, exerted their beneficial influence, and 
gave by degrees an entirely new form and 
fashion to the people of Greece, and even to 
the country itself. For that region, which after- 
wards presented so beautiful an aspect, which 
was so richly endowed, and splendidly embel- 
lished by the hand of Nature, was, until it 
had been well cultivated and fertilized, and 
until the power of boisterous elements had been 
.subdued, a complete wilderness, and the scene 
of many violent revolutions of nature; which 
were very naturally considered as a sort of par- 
tial and feeble imitation of the destructive and 
universal flood of elder times, when water was 
the all-prevailing element on the earth. In 
Greece there was an old obscure tradition, of 
the original existence of a continent called 
Lectonia, which occupied a portion of the sub- 
sequent Greek sea, and of which the islands 
form now the only existing remains ; the rest 
of the continent having been sunk and destroy- 
ed, at the very time when the Black Sea, which 
had been originally connected with the Caspian» 
burst through the Bosphorus, and precipitated 
its waves into the Mediterranean. At this very 
remote period, all Thessaly was one vast lake, 
till, in a natural catastrophe of a similar kind, 


the river Peneus burst its way through a defile 


of rocks, and found on outlet into the sea. The 
lake Copais in Baeotia in an inundation over- 
flowed the whole circumjacent flat country in 
the time of Ogyges ; and thus the name and 
tradition of Ogyges served afterwards to desig- 
nate the epoch of those early floods. At a later 
period, and when the civilization of the Greeks 
was more advanced, in the true flourishing 
era of their power and literature, the two prin-_ 
cipal races among this people, the lonians and 
the Dorians, were completely opposed to each / 
other in arts and manners, in government, modes > 
of thinking, and even in philosophy. Athens ' 
was at the head of the Ionic race ; Sparta took 
the lead in the Doric confederacy; and this 
internal discord did not a little contribute 
towards the utter ruin of Greece, and towards 
the consummation of that internal and external 
anarchy that dragged all things into its abyss. 

Now that we enter upon that period when 
all the great political events have been suffici- 
ently described, and partly, at least, set forth 
with incomparable talent, by the great classical 
historians of antiquity ; by a multitude of writers 
that have borrowed from that source, or have 
worked upon those lofty models ; it would be 
idle to repeat what is universally known, and to 
recount, in long historical detail, how, after con- 
tests and struggles of less importance, the glory 
of Greece burst forth in all its lustre in her 
resistance to Persian might ; how, soon after, she 



exhausted her best strength in the great Pelo- 
ponhesian civil war betwixt Sparta and Athens, 
and how both those states ruined themselves 
in the idle ambition of maintaining the iiytfiovta 
as they called it, or the superiority and prepon- 
derance in the political system of Greece ; — how, 
after the short dominion of the Thebans under 
their single great man, Epaminondas, the Mace- 
donians became lords of the ascendant, and 
ruled for a longer time with despotic sway ; — 
and finally how Greece obtained an apparent 
freedom under the generous protection of Rome, 
and was soon after reduced to a state of per- 
manent vassalage under her prefects and her 
legions. This instructive and, we niay well 
say, eternal history may be read, studied, and 
meditated on in all its ample details aiid living 
clearness in the pages of the great classical 
historians of antiquity. The knowledge of all 
these historical facts must be here pre-supposed, 
and I must confine myself to a rapid and lively 
sketch of the intellectual character and moral 
life of the Greeks, in their relation to the rest 
of mankind, and according to the place which 
they occupy in universal history. 

In this point of view, all that is universally 
interesting in the character, life, and intellect of 
the Greeks will be best and most easily classed 
under three categories. The first is the divine 
in their system of art, or the mythology that was' 
so closely interwoven with their traditions and 

HISTORY. 297 , 

their fictions, their whole arrangement of life, 
tHeir customs, and political institutions; and 
which so much excites our astonishment and 
admiration. The second is their science of _ 
Nature — a science so natural to them, and which 
embraced all the objects of Nature and the 
world, as well as of history, and even man hun- 
self, with the utmost clearness of perception, 
sagacity of intellect, and beauty and animation 
of expression — a science that, from its earliest 
infancy down to its complete perfection in the 
writings of Plato and Aristotle, has established 
the lasting glory of the Greeks, and has had 
a deep and abiding influence on the human 
mind, through all succeeding ages. The third 
and last category, in this portrait of the Greek 
intellect and character, is the political rational- . 
ism in Greece's latter days, founded on those 
maxims and principles which had finally tri-^ 
umphed after the most violent contest of parties, 
and under which the state was entirely swayed 
by the arts of eloquence and the power of rhe-i 
toric, now become a real political authority in 
society. All that can be said truly to the honour 
of the ancient Greek states, and their Republican 
virtues, has been briefly noticed above. Their 
decay and general anarchy, and final subjuga- 
tion by Rome, may be well accounted for by the 
decline of the Greek philosophy, and the con- ' 
sequent corruption of morals and doctrine — by 
that dominion of sophists, unparalleled at least 


n ancient history, and who^e pernicious art of 
a false rhetoric was the bane of public lifo, 
government, and all national greatness. 

The marvellous and living Mythology in the 
glorious old poetry of Greece justly occupies 
here the first place, for all arts, even the plastic 
arts, had their origin in this first Homeric 
source. And this fresh living stream of mythic 
fictions and heroic traditions which has flowed, 
and continues to flow, through all ages aqd 
nations in the West, proves to us^ by a mighty 
historical experience, which determines even 
the most difficult problems (and this has been 
universally acknowledged in Christian Europe), 
that all classical education — all high intel- 
lectual refinement, is and should* be grounded 
on poetry — that is to say, on a poetry which, 
like the Homeric, springs out of natural feel- 
ings, and embraces the world with a clear, 
intuitive glance. For there can be no com- 
prehensive culture of the human mind, • — no 
high and harmonious development of its powers, 
and the various faculties of the soul ; unless all 
those deep feelings of life — that mighty, pro- 
ductive energy of human nature, the marvellous 
imagination, be awakened and excited, and by 
that excitement and exertion, attain an expan- 
sive, noble and beautiful form. This the expe- 
rience of all ages has proved, and hence the 
glory of the Homeric poems, and of the whole 
intellectual refinement of the Greeks, which 


has thence sprung, has remained imperish- 
able. Were the mental culture of any people / 
founded solely on a dead, cold, abstract science, 
to the exclusion of all poetry ; such a mere 
mathematical people — with minds thus sharp- 
ened and pointed by mathematical discipline, 
would and could never possess a rich and vari- 
ous intellectual existence; nor even probably 
ever attain to a living science, or a triie science 
of life. The characteristic excellence of this , 
Homeric poetry, and in general of all the Greek 
poetry, is that it observes a wise medium be- 
tween the gigantic fictions of oriental imagina- 
nation, even as the purer creations of Indian 
fancy display; and that distinctness of view, 
that broad knowledge and observation of the 
world, which distinguish the ages of prosaic 
narrative, when the relations of society become 
at once more refined and more complicated. . 
In this poetry, these two opposite, and almost 
incompatible, qualities are blended and united — 
the firesh enthusiasm of the most living feelings 
of nature — a blooming, fertile, and captivating 
fancy, and a clear intuitive perception of life, 
are joined with a delicacy of tact, a purity and 
harmony of taste, excluding all exaggeration-**- 
all false ornament — and which few nations since 


the Greeks, none perhaps in an equal degree, 
certainly none before them, have ever possessed 
to a like extent. 

This poetry was most intimately interwoven 


with the whole public life of the Greeks — the 
public spectacles, games, and popular festivals 
were so many theatres for poetry : nay music 
and the gymnastic exercises were the ground- 
work, and formed almost the whole scope, of a 
high, poUte, and liberal education among the 
Greeks. Both were so in a very wide, compre- 
hensive and significant sense of the term. The 
gymnastic struggles, the peculiar object of the 
public games, and where the human frame 
attained a beautiful form and expansion by 
every species of exercise — the gjonnastic strug- 
gles had a very close connection with, and may 
be said to have formed the basis for, the imita- 
tive arts, especially sculpture^ which, without 
that habitual contemplation of the most exqui- 
site forms afforded by these games, could never 
have acquired so bold, free, and animated a re- 
presentation of the human body. Music, or the 
art of the Muses, included not only the art of 
melody, but the poetry of song. Still the plan 
/ of Grecian education and refinement was ever 
\ of too narrow and too exclusive a character; 
and when, at a later period, rhetoric came to 
form one of its elements, the Greeks considered 
it (what indeed it never should be considered) 
L as a sort of gymnastic exercise for the intellect, 
a species of public spectacle, where eloquence, 
lit;tle solicitous about the truth, only sought to 
display its art or address in the combat. And 
in the same way philosophy, when the Greeks 


attained a knowledge of it» came to be regarded, 
according to the narrow and exclusive principles 
of their system of education, as nothing more 
than a species of intellectual melody, the inter- 
nal harmony of thought and mind—- the music 
of the soul ; till later, by means of the sophists 
and popular sycophants that deluded their age, 
it sunk into the all-destructive abyss of false 
rhetoric, which was the death of true science 
and genuine art, and which, in the shape of 
logic and metaphysics, had as injurious an in- 
fluence on the schools as a false political elo- 
quence had on the state and on public life. 
That principle of harmony which formed the 
leading tenet of the primitive philosophy of 
Greece before the introduction of sophistry, was 
not an ignoble, — it was even a beautiAil, idea, 
although 4t might be far from solving the high 
problems and questions of philosophy, or satis- 
fying the deeper enquiries of the human mind. 

It was from these public games, popular 
festivals, and great poetical exhibitions, which 
had such a mighty and important influence on 
the whole public life of the Greeks, and which 
served to knit so strongly the bonds of the Hel- 
lenic confederacy, that, by means of the odes, 
specifically designed for such occasions, the thea- 
tre, and the whole dramatic art of the Greeks, 
derived their origin. This poetry, which is less 
generally intelligible to other nations and times 
than the Homeric poems, because it enters more 


deeply into the individual life of the Greeks, 
does not display less invention, sublimity, and 
depth of art, from that ideal beauty which per- 
vades its whole character, and from its lofty 
tone of feeling. Even the Doric odes of Pindar, 
amid their milder beauties, rise often to the 
tragic grandeur of the succeeding poets, or to 
the comprehensive and epic fulness of the old 
Maeonian bard. 

No nation has as yet been able to equal the 
charm and amenity of Homer, the elevation of 
JEschylus, and the noble beauty of Sophocles ; 
and perhaps it is wrong even to aspire to their 
excellence, for true beauty and true sublimity 
can never be acquired in Üie path of imitation. 
Euripides, who lived in the times when rhetoric 
was predominant, is ranked with the great poets 
we have named by such critics only, as are 
unable to comprehend and appreciate the whole 
elevation of Grecian intellect, and to discern 
its peculiar and characteristic depth. It is 
worthy of remark, as it serves to show the ge- 
nial propensity of Grecian intellect for the 
boldest contrasts, that these loftiest productions 
of tragedy, and which have retained that cha- 
racter of unrivalled excellence through all suc- 
ceeding ages, were accompanied by the old po- 
pular comedy which, while its inventive fancy 
dealt in the boldest fictions of mythology, and 
in the humorous exhibitions of the Godß, made 
it its peculiar business to fasten on all the follies 


of ordinary life, and to exhibit them to public 
ridicule without the least reserve. 

That the sensual worship of Nature, the basis 
of all Heathenism, and more particularly so of 
the Greek idolatry, must have had a very preju- 
dicial influence on Greek morals ; that the want 
of a solid system of Ethics, founded on God and 
divine truth, must have given rise to great 
corruption even in a more simple period of so- 
ciety ; and that this already prevalent corrup- 
tion must have increased to a frightful extent in 
the general degradation of the state — is a matter 
evident of itself; and it would be no difficult 
task to draw from the pages of the popular 
comedy we have just spoken of, and from other 
sources, a terrific picture of the moral habits of 
the Gre^s. Yet I know not whether such a de- 
scription would be necessary, or even advantage- 
ous, for the purpose of this Philosophy of His- 
tory — the more so, as it would not be difficult to 
draw from similar sources of immorality, and 
from the nbw usual statistics of vice and crime, 
a sketch of the moral condition of one or more 
Christian nations, that would by no means 
accord with the pre-conceived notion of the 
great moral superiority of modem itimes. We 
may thus the more willingly rest contented with 
a general acknowledgment of the great moral 
depravity of mankind, which exists wherever 
mighty powers and strong motives of a superior 
order do not counteract it, and which must have 


broken out more conspicuously there, where, 
as among the Greeks, the prevailing religion was 
/a Paganism that promoted and sanctioned sen- 
suality. In regard to the poetry and plastic 
arts of the Greeks, it must even strike us as a 
matter of astonishment that it is in compara- 
tively but few passages, and few works, this 
Pagan sensuality appears in a manner hurtful 
to dignity of style and harmony of expression. 
It would not at least have surprised us^ had 
this defect been oftener apparent, when we 
consider the doctrines and views of life gene- 
rally prevalent in antiquity ; for it was in most 
cases, less the sterner dictates of morality that 
prevented the recurrence of this defect than an 
exquisite sense of propriety, which even in art 
is the outward drapery that girds and sets off 
beauty. Besides, a mere conventional conceal- 
ment cannot be imposed as a law on the art 
of sculpture; our moral feelings are much less 
offended by the representation of nudity in the 
pure noble style of the best antiques, than by 
the disguised sensuality which marks many 
spurious productions of modern art. In poetry 
and in art, at least in the elder and flourishing 
period, the Greeks have, for the most part, 
attained to internal harmony — in philosophy 
they were much less fortunate^— and least of all 
in public life, which was almost always dis- 
tracted, and at last utterly jarring, dissonant, 
and ruinous. 


I called the science of the Greeks a natural 
science, and in this quality, which it possessed 
in so eminent a degree, it affords us the highest 
instruction, and is of itself extremely interesting ; 
for in its origin, this science proceeded chiefly, 
almost exclusively, from nature — pursued a 
sequestered and solitary path — a stranger to 
poetry and to the mythology which was there 
predominant, far removed from public and poli- 
tical life — and often even in an attitude of hosti- 
lity towards the state. The physical sciences, 
and particularly natural history, were created by 
the Greeks — so was the science of medicine, in 
which Hippocrates is still honoured as the great- 
est maste)*; and geometry and the ancient sys- 
tem of astronomy were handed down to poste- 
rity, considerably enlarged and improved by 
the labours of the Greeks. In the second place, 
Grecian science may be denominated a natural 
science, because, as it directed its attention suc- 
cessively to the various objects of the world, of 
life, and to man himself, it ever took a thoroughly 
natural view of all things, and even in self-know- 
ledge, in practical life, and in history, sought to 
seize and comprehend the nature of man, and' to 
unfold the character of his Being, with the utmost 
precision of language, and according to concep- 
tions derived exclusively from life. Thus when 
Plato and his followers direct their philosophi- 
cal enquiries to objects lying beyond, and far 
exalted above, the sphere of Nature and reallife, 

VOL, 1. X 



we must regard these inquiries as exceptions 
from the ordinary practice of GreciaiTlntellect, 
and from the ruling spirit of its speculations ; 
in the same way as the expeditions of Alexai^er 
the Great form an exceptigjx from t&e usual 
routine of Grecian politics. Lastly, Grecian 
science may be denominated a natural science, 
because philosophy, founded on the old basis of 
poetry and classical culture, allied to history« 
and the language and symbols oi tradition» 
assumed in general a form clear, beautiful, ani- 
mated, and eminently conformable to Nature 
and the mind of man ; and however much this 
philosophy may at times have been lost and 
bewildered in the void of a false dialectic, it 
still never perished in the petrifying chill of ab- 
stract speculations. And even Plato, though 
his philosophy so far transcended the ordinary 
sphere of Grecian intellect, had been well nur- 
tured in Hellenic eloquence, art, and culture — 
and, in all these, was himself the greatest 

With this profound and lofty feeling for 

Nature, did the early philosophers oi Greece, 

who were chiefly lonians, like Thales, Anaxi- 

> menes, and Heraclitus, consider respectively 

water, air, and fire, as the primary powers of 

Nature and of all things ; and it was onlyjAn^L- 

/ agoras, the master of Socrates, who first clearly 

{ expounded the nature of that supreme aftd 

divine Intelligence which created nature and 



regulates the world. Prior to this philosopher, 
Heraclitus had asserted this doctrine, perhaps 
with greater purity — certainly with more depth 
and penetration ; but in his obscure writings it 
is less intelligibly expressed. With his supreme 
Intelligence in Nature, Anaxagoras conjoined 
the o^ocofit/Ma, that is to say, not the real atoms of 
a lifeless matter, but rather the animated sub- 
stance of material life. Thus his doctrine was 
a simple system of dualism, quite in harmony, 
it would seem, with the feelings of those early 
ages, as we have noticed a similar system in 
the history of Indian philosophy. These old 
Ioiftair~phil^ophers in generaP regarded only 
the internal life in Nature and all existence — 
the constant change and endless vicissitude in 
the world and in all things ; and hence many of 
them began to doubt, and at last finally denied, 
the existence of anything steadfast and endur> 
ing. According to that law and march of con- 
trast, which Grecian intellect, whether consci- 
ously or unconsciously, invariably pursued, these 
Ionian philosophers were now opposed by the 
school of Parmenides, which inculcated the doc- 
trine of an all-pervading unity — and taught that 
this principle was the first and last, the sole, { 
true, permanent, and eternal Being. Although 
this system was at first propounded in verse, it 
was by^o means, in its essential and ruling 
spirit, a poetical Pantheism, like that of the In- 
dians — but more congenial with the intellectual 


> — 


habits of the Greeks, it was a Pantheism the- 
\ roughly dialectic, which at first regarded all 
change as an illusion and idle phenomenon, 
and at last positiyely denied the possibility of 
change. Between these two extreme schools 
appeared the great disciple of Socrates, who 
sought, by a path of inquiry completely new, 
completely foreign to the Greeks — by a range 
of speculation which soared far above the world 
of sense, and outward experience, as well as 
above mere logic, to return to the supreme God- 
head, infinitely exalted above all nature— de- 
; riving the notion of the Deity from immediate 
' intuition, primeval revelation, or profound inter« 
nal reminiscence. By this doctrine of reminis- 
cence, which is the fiindamental teneiTof the 
^ Platonic system, this philosophy has a strong 
: coincidence or affinity with the Indian doctrine 
of the Metempsychosis, by the supposition it 
involves of the prior existence of the human 
soul. To such a notion of the pre-existence of 
the soul, in the literal sense of the term, no 
system of Christian philosophy could easily 
subscribe. But if, as there is no reason to pre- 
vent us, we should understand this Platonic 
notion of reminiscence in a more spiritual sense 
— as the awakening or resuscitation of the con- 
sciousness of the divine image implanted in our 
souls — as the soul's perception of that ima^ ; 
this theory would then perfectly coincide with 
the Christian doctrine of the divine image ori- 


ginally stamped on the human soul» and of the 
internal illumination of the soul by the renova- 
tion of that image — and hence we ought in no 
way to be astonished that this Platonic mode of 
thinking, for such it is rather than any exclusive 
system, — as it is the first great philosophy of 
revelation clothed and propounded in an Euro- 
pean form — should have ever appeared so cap- 
tivating to the profound thinkers of Christianity. 
In Plato's time, that host of Sophists who had 
sprung out of the dialectic contests of the earliei 
philosophy, out of its rejection and disbelief of 
everything pennanent, immutable and eternal 
in Nature, in life, and in knowledge, as well as 
out of the democratic spirit of the age, and the 
ever prevailing immorality — in Plato's time» 
that host of Sophists completely bewildered and 
confiised the public mind, poisoned all principle 
and morality in their very source, and accom- 
plished the ruin of society in Greece in general, 
and in Athens in particular. And the masterly 
portrait which Plato has given us of these So- 
phists exhibits well this race, and the pernicious 
influence they exerted over Grecian intellect, 
and the whole circle of Grecian states ; and this 
political influence of the Sophists forms the 
third epoch in the history of Greece, which, by 
means of these popular sycophants, became 
daily more and more democratic, till at last it 
perished in anarchy. 

The more ancient philosophers of Greece 




lived almost all in a state of retirement from 
public life, taking no part in political affairs, or 
evincing very evident sentiments of hostility to 
the governments and republics of their native 
country. They were almost all unfriendly to 
the prevailing principles of democracy ; and 
the ideal governments, which they, as well as 
Plato, have sketched, were all in the spirit of a 
very rigid aristocracy of virtue and law — evinc- 
ing a very marked predilection for that form of 
government as it existed, though in a state c^ 
great degeneracy ^i among the Doric Gred^s. 
Long before Plato, the Pythagoreaus had incul- 
cated doctrines perfectly similBr, or at least of 
a very kindred nature ; and with the view and 
purpose of introducing their principles into pub- 
lic life, by which undoubtedly the governments 
and the whole frame of society in Greece, as 
well as the whole system of Grecian thought, 
would have assumed a totally new and different 
shape. But before the Pythagorean confede- 
racy, which was so widely diffused through the 
Greek states of Southern Italy, was able to 
accomplish its design, the violent re-action of 
an opposite party of thinkers destroyed it, or at 
least deprived it of all ascendancy and political 

The age of Aristotle concurred with that of 
the Macedonian sway to terminate anarchy of 
every kind. To the old evil of a false dialectic, 
which had become an inveterate habit, and, as 


it vere, a second nature to Grecian intellect, 
he endeavoured to oppose his ample and sub- 
stantial logic — and this must be regarded not so 
much as a wonderful Organum^ a living and 
never -failing source of scientific truth, but 
rather as a remedy for that disease of a false, 
sophistical rhetoric, so (nrevalent in his own age, 
and the one immediately preceding — and which 
had brought about the ruin of ajl truths, and an 
universal anarchy of doctrines, even in practical 
life. With a perspicacious, penetrative, and 
comprehensive intellect, he has reduced all the 
philosophic, and cdl the historical science of 
preceding ages and of his own time, to a clear, 
well-ordered system, for the ample instruction 
of posterity :^-in both these sciences, as well as 
in natural history, he has remained, down to the 
latest time, the master-guide. In those parts 
of his philosophy which lie between this natu- ; 
rol science and the old dialectic contests, in its 
primary and fundamental principles, the system 
of Aristotle, when rightly understood, contains 
much that leads to the most dangerous errors, 
especially in his notion of God; though we 
cannot with justice impute to him the abuse 
which has been made of his philosophy in sub- 
sequent ages. Notwithstanding the many ex- 
cellent things which are to be found in the 
Ethics of Aristotle, considered merely as an 
effort of unassisted reason ; yet in all the en- 
quiries after a higher truth — after the first noi- 



tion of the diyine which, in the elder philosphy 
of nature, was so imperfectly understood^ and 
which in the consummate rationalism of Aris- 
totle was completely misapprehended — in all 
these important enquiries, the Stag3nrite is far 
from being such a guide as Plato ; and his phi- 
losophy is not like the Platonic, a scientific 
introduction to the Christian revelation, and to 
the knowledge of divine truths. The later sys- 
tems of philosophy among the Greeks were^ 
with some slight variations of form, mere repe- 
titions, often only mere combinations and com- 
pilations, of the ancient philosophy ; or they ex- 
hibited a thorough degeneracy of science and 
intellect, as in the atomical system of Epicurus, 
which even on life and morals had an atomical 

The Greek states have long since disappear- 
ed from the face of the earth — the republics, as 
well as the Macedonian kingdoms founded by 
Alexander, have long since ceased to exist. 
Many centuries — near two thousand years,. have 
elapsed, since not a vestige remains of all that 
ancient greatness and transitory power. If the 
celebrated battles and other mighty events of 
those ages are still known to us ; if they still 
excite in us a lively interest, it is principally 
because they have been delineated with such 
incomparable beauty, such instructive interest, 
by the great classical writers. It is not the 
republican governments of Greece, nor the 


brief and fleeting period of Grecian liberty, 
which was so soon succeeded by civil war and 
anarchy — it is not the universal empire of Ma- 
cedon, which was but of short duration, and 
was soon swallowed up in the Roman or Parthian 
domination — it is not these that mark out the 
place which Greece occupies in the great whole 
of universal history, nor the mighty and im- 
portant part she has had in the civilization of 
mankind. The share allotted to her was the 
light of sciepce in its most ample extent, and 
in all the clear brilliance of exposition which it 
could derive from art. It is in this intellectual 
sphere only that the Greeks have been gifted 
with extraordinary power, and have exerted a 
mighty influence on after - ages. Plato ands 
Aristotle, far more than Leonidas and Alexander 
the Great, contain nearly the sum and essence 
of all truly permanent and influential, which 
the Greeks have bequeathed to posterity. It is 
evident that I include under these great names 
the whole classical culture which formed the 
basis of this Greek science — the general refine- 
ment of minds — the fine arts, and above all, the 
glorious old poetry of Greece. We have to men- 
tion another department of Greek science, where- 
in from its natural clearness and liveliness, its 
profound observation of man, the most eminent 
success was attained. And the pre-eminence con- 
sists in this — that historical art, as well as histo- 
rical research were originated by the Greeks, 


and that both have attained a degree of perfec- 
tion which has been almost eyer unknown to the 
Asiatic nations, and which even the modems hare 
only imitated by d^rees upon the great modds 
of antiquity. The fether of history, HerodcAus, 
has not been without reason compared to Homer, 
on account of his manifold charms, and the 
clearness and fulness of his narrative. We re- 
main in utter astonishment, when we reflect on 
the depth and extent of his knowledge, re- 
searches, enquiries, and remarks on the history 
and antiquities of the various nations of the 
earth, and of mankind in general. The deeper 
and more comprehensive the researches of the 
modems have been on ancient history, the more 
have their regard and esteem for Herodotus 
increased. The later classical historians dis- 
play much rhetoric ; but this was natural, when 
we consider what a mighty influence rhetoric ex- 
erted on public life, and that it had become an 
all-ruling power in the state. This false rhe- 
toric, that idle pomp of words, the death of all 
genuine poetry and higher art — as the endless 
strifes of a false dialectic, are the ruin of all 
sane and legitimate science, of all precision of 
intellect, and soundness of judgment — this false 
rhetoric, by the exclusively sophistical turn 
which it gave to the public mind and public 
opinion, accelerated the downfal of government, 
and of all public virtues in Greece. 

The third category or sphere of Grecian in- 


tellect and Grecian life which I designated after 
that of divine art» and natural science, and the 
varied knowledge of man» was political rational'' _ 
i$m.* I have used that expression, chiefly in 
reference to the later ages of the Greek Repub* 
lies» as it is the quality which eminently distin- 
guished them from the Asiatic states, and diose 
of modem Europe. 

In the later ages of Athens, and of the other 
democratic states, the rationalist principles of . 
freedom and equality were the sole prevailing 
and recognized maxims of government. Con- 
sidered in this historical point of view, the chief 
difference between the two principal forms of 
government consists in this — that the republic 
is, or at least tends to be, the government of 
Reason ; while monarchy is founded on the ^ 
higher principles of faith and love. But the 
distinction lies rather in the ruling spirit — ^the 
moral principle which animates these two go- 
vernments, than in their mere outward form. 
Republics which are founded on ancient laws 
and customs, on hereditary rights and usages, 
on faith in the sanctity of hereditary right, on 
attachment to ancestral manners (as was un- 
doubtedly the case with the Greek republics in 
the early ages of their history), such states, so 
far from being opposed to the true spirit of mo- 
narchy, are, to all essential purposes, of a kin- 
' ■ I 1 1 t ■ ■— « ■ — ■ ■■ I 1 ■ ■ ■ I .-,.^ 

• In the German Fernunft-Uaat, the government of reason. 



dred nature with it. Such, too, are those happy- 
republics which, content with the narrow limits 
of their power and existence, at peace with 
other states, devoid of ambition, firmly wedded 
to their ancient rights and customs, figure but 
little on the arena of history, and occupy but 
small space in the columns of the gazetteer. 
In a monarchy, attachment to the hereditary 
sovereign and to the royal dynasty is the cor- 
ner-stone and the firmest pillar of the state — 
whole provinces may be conquered, and im- 
portant battles may be lost; but while this 
foundation of love remains unshaken — while 
this principle is in active operation, the edifice 
of the state will stand unmoved. 

The next foundation of monarchy is faith in 
ancient rights — in the heritage of ancestral cus- 
toms and privileges, according to the several re- 
lations of the different classes of the state ; and 
we should beware, in a monarchial government, 
not to touch or violate with an incautious hand, 
or change without necessity, hereditary rights 
and usages which time has consecrated, for such 
heedless changes shake the very foundations of 
the social edifice. When a monarchy is founded 
on a vrritten contract (whether it be intended as 
a sort of treaty of peace, with some party aspir- 
ing to dominion in the state, or be only the suc- 
cessful experiment of some scientific theory of 
political rationalism), such a government, though 
it may preserve the outward form, has ceased in 



all essential points, to be a monarchy accord- 
ing to the old acceptation of the term. An ab- 
absolute government, whatever shape it may 
assume, whether it take the form of republic- 
anism, and adopt the rationalist principles of 
freedom and equality — principles which in the 
nature of things, and according to the very con- 
stitution of human reason, are almost ever inse- 
parable from a spirit of progressive encroach- 
ment in foreign policy, (as is sufficiently proved 
by the inordinate ambition, the insatiable thirst 
of power which distinguished the great republics 
of antiquity, in proportion as they became more 
democratic, and more a prey to anarchy,) or 
whether the absolute government assume the 
lawless and illegitimate sway of a military des- 
potism - such a government may indeed be 
established in a sort of equipoise, circumscribed 
within tolerably reasonable limits, and preserved 
at least in its physical existence by means of 
such a written compact as we have spoken of 
above. But the old Christian state — the stale 
which is founded in faith and love — can be re- 
novated and re-established; not by the mere 
dead letter of any theory, though it should 
contain nothing but the pure dogmatic truth — 
but by faith — ^by love — ^by the religious energy 
of all the great fundamental principles of moral 



Character of the Romans. — Sketch of their conquests. — On 
strict law, and the law of equity in its application to His- 
tory, and according to the idea of divine justice. — Com- 
mencement of the Christian dispensation. 

Instead of tliat astonishing variety in the states, 
the races, the political constitutions, the man- 
ners, styles of art and modes of intellectual cul* 
tivation, which divided from its very origin the 

social existence of Greece — a division which 


gave a more rich and diversified aspect to 
Greek civilization — the ancient history of Italy 
shews us, on the contrary, how every thing 
merged more and more in the one, eternal, im* 
perishable, ever- prosperous, ever -progressive, 
and at last all -devouring, city-^Rome. The 
first ages, indeed, of Italy — the primitive na- 
tions that settled that country — such as the 
Pelasgi, whose early historical existence is at- 
tested by those Cyclopean, or more properly. 


P^iasgic walls and constructions still extant there 
--^he Etruscans, (according to some authors, 
descended from the more northern race of Rhoe* 
tiahsQ from whom the Romans borrowed so many 
of their idolatrous rites and customs — the Sa- 
bines and Samnites, the Latins and the Trojans — 
lastly the Celts in Northern, and the Greeks in 
Souüiern, Italy — all in their several relations to 
one another, and in the various commixture of 
their origin and progress, open a wide field of 
intricate investigation and perplexing research 
to the historical enquirer. But from the general 
point of view taken in universal history, all this 
antiquarian learning soon falls into the back- 
ground, in the presence of that great central 
city which quickly absorbs into itself all the 
ancient states of Italy, and Italy itself, and 
which, though originally composed of many 
heterogeneous elements — Latin, Sabine and 
Etruscan — still was very early moulded into an 
unity of character— and whose ulterior growth 
and progress, slow indeed at first, but soon as 
fearfully rapid as it was immeasurably great, 
principally attracts the notice of the historical 
observer. In the later, and still more in the early, 
ages of Rome, the national idolatry was less 
poetically wrought and adorned than that of the 
Greeks — it was altogether much simpler, ruder 
and more serious than the latter. Even the 
word religio, to take it in its first signification 
as a second tie, corresponds to a far more defi» 




nite and Berious object than can be found in 
the gay my tholc^y of the popular religion of the 
^, ^Greeks. Idolatrous rites were closely inter- 
woven into the whole life of the ancient RomanB. 
As the twins of Mars, Eomulus and Remus» 
who were suckled by the she-M'olf, were called 
the founders of the city ; so Mars himself wad 
honoured by the Romans as their real proge- 
nitor, and principal national divinity — particu- 
larly under the name of Gradivus, that is to 
say the swift for battle, or the strider of the 
earth. The sacred shields of brass which, on 
certain appointed festivals, were borne in the 
military dances, the Palladium, the sceptre of 
the venerable Priam, formed, together with simi- 
lar relics of antiquity, the seven holy pledges 
of the eternal duration and ever flourishing 
increase of the seven-hilled city, which was 
honoured under three different names; one 
whereof was ever kept secret— while the other 
two referred to its blooming strength and ever 
enduring power. The ancient cities of the 
Greeks, those of the Italian nations, whether 
akin to them, or otherwise, possessed indeed 
their tutelary deities, their particular sanctua- 
ries, their highly revered Palladium, some an- 
cient oracles, and certain religious rites and fes- 
tivals consecrated to their honour. But it would 
not be easy to find another example where the 
traditionary reverence, we might almost say, 
the old hereditary deification of the city, had 


from the earliest period, taken such deep root 
in the minds of men ; and where such a formal 
worship was so intimately interwoven with man- 
ners, customs, and even maxims of state, as 
among the Romans. And when an universal 
monarchy had sprung out from this single city, 
it was still that city — it was still eternal Rome 
that was ever regarded, not merely as the cen- 
tre, but as the essence of the . whole — the per- 
sonified conception of the state— the grand idea 
of the empire. The early traditions of the Ro- 
mans which, though from the commencement of 
the city they assume the garb of authentic his- 
tory, (as in the pages of Livy for instance,) yet 
are for a long time to be regarded mostly as 
mere traditions, — evince a fact well entitled to 
our consideration, — as it serves to show how 
that strong, inflexible, but harsh, Roman charac- 
ter, such as the later records of history display, 
manifested itself even in the earliest infancy of 
this people; — it is this, that among no other 
nation, did historical recollections even of the 
remotest antiquity exert such a powerful in- 
fluence on life, or strike so deep a root in the 
minds of men. Nearly five hundred years had 
elapsed since the time of the elder Brutus, 
when, in the Roman world now so mightily 
changed, a citizen appealed to the second Brutus 
in these words — " Brutus, thou sleepest" — as 
if to urge him to that deed which the first 
had perpetrated on the proud Tarquin, and by 

VOL. I. Y 




\^hipb tb^t, celebrated nftme>. had beopme id^Pr 
tified with the idea of a bold deliyerar. Ani 
ardent hatred towards all king»» and toward» 
roysdt^itself, which from that period remained 
ever deeply fixed in the I]U>man miud, charac* 
terised this people ev^n in the most ancient pe- 
riod of their history. If ot only in the remarka 
and reflections of the lat^ Roman historians on 
the first ages of Rome» but^ in facta . themscdviea, 
as. in the case of Spurius Cassias, we may trace 
thq natural concomitant of this hatred*— a pasr 
sionate jealousy of all powerfid party-chiefih^ 
and democratic leaders, who were, perhaps sufrr 
pected» or {u-obably cQnyjicted. of aspking; to 
supreme power in the state, and; aiming at the 
ß^tablishmeqt of t^anny— as if the Romans 
hsAi even then a dear: preseotiment of. the in- 
evitable fate that ai^aited an empire like thelra». 
and of the quarter whence their ruin wpuld 

proceed^ Even in the^ first ages, the Patri* 
cian9^ a^d Plebeians, appear on the historical 
ar^a^ no^only as sepa^rate classes» such as ex- 
isted^ in almost all ancient states, and between 
whom: no matrin)i,oiiaal ties could be fonned ori- 
ginally at.Rome ; bu,t as political ps^es, in a 
state 0^ mutu^ , hpstility , each of which strove, 
to obtain the ascendancy in the forpniL ,ai^ in 
the state. 

The old Romans of. these eaf ly 4imes. were 
strangers to those various sys|en^ of l^slalion, 
those^ rhetorical treatipfM. of jurispradame« con* 

HisT^RV. 323 

ceived^ mostly oh demberatic principles, or to 
those ojl^ösite political theories coniposed in ' ' ^ 

an aristocratic spirit, which the Greeks then 
possei^ediii such abundance. On the contrary , 
the Romans^ lUatiifösted eVen then, in the pri- 
mitive period of their existence, a deep, perspi-^^ 
cacious^, praetical senöe, and a mighty political 
instinct, which showed itself in their first insti- 
tutions of state. Even in the first idea of the 
Tribunate- — as' a regular mode of popular re- 
preäeritation — an element of opposition intro- 
duced' ilito the very constitution of the state — 
there w^s contained the gerin df that mighty 
piolitieal p6wer arid' action, which afterwards a 
mat! of energetic character, like Tiberius Grac- 
chus; knew how to exert. T%is pdwer , had it 
been 'kepit within due limits, might have proved 
ifiost beneficiar to the coriimunity; and a sitigle 
riian, €?ndowed with stich a character, and ani- 
rtttted by the same spirit of a true patriotic op- 
pösitiMi, hai^ often accomplished more at Rome, 
than wlidle pariiaments in modern free states. 
The authority ot- the Censöi*, negative and re- 
strictive in itself, but still not merely judicial — - 
and which over the conduct of persons was very 
extensive— the excöpltional institution of the 
Dictatorship, in the early ages of Rome by no 
me^M so dangerous — were so many just, and 
practical political discoveries of the Romans, 
WhfieK ^ evince their statesman-like genius, and 
WMch *eyen ih later times, among oth'er riatiohi^, 

Y 2 


and nnder various fbrmB» have served as real 
and efiectual elements in the constitution of 

The interest of those two parties — the Ple- 
beians and ^the Patricians — concurred fully but 
in one point — the desire which both had of con- 
stantly invading the neighbouring nations, and 
obtaining landed possessions for themselves, in 
the conquests they made for the state. The 
Plebeians ever and again cherished the hope of 
being able to obtain for their profit, and that of 
the poorer citizens, a sort of distribution of the 
state-lands won in war. But as the Patricians 
were mostly invested with all the high offices 
and dignities in war as well as peace, they knew 
how to turn all the opportunities of conquest 
to their best advantage, however much they 
might on particular occasions postpone their 
private interests as individuals to the general 
interests of the state. Although, so long as 
their ancient principles remained unchanged, 
the Romans were distinguished for the utmost 
disinterestedness in regard to their country, and 
for great simplicity of manners, and even fru- 
gality in private life, they were in all their 
foreign enterprises, even in the earliest times, 
exceedingly covetous of gain, or rather of land ; 
for it was in land, and the produce of the soil, 
that their principal, and almost only wealth 
consisted. The old Romans were a thoroughly 
agricultural people; and it was only at a later 


period that commerce, trades and arts were 
introduced amoiig tfiiem; and even then they 
occupied ,but a subordinate place. Agriculture 
was even highly lionoured by the Romans ; and 
while almost all the celebrated, and in general, 
most of the proper, names among the Greeks 
were derived from gods and heroes, and had a 
poetical lustre, and glorious significancy, it is a 
circumstance characteristic of the Romans, that 
the names of many of their most distinguished 
families, such as Fabius, Lentulus, Piso, Cicero 
and many others were taken from agriculture, 
and from vegetables ; while others again, as 
Secundus, Quintus, Septimus, and Octavius, 
are tolerably prosaic, and are derived from 
the numbers of the old popular reckoning. 
The science of agriculture forms one of the 
few subjects on which the Romans produced 
writers truly original. That of jurisprudence, 
in which they were most at home, which they 
cultivated with peculiar care, and which they 
very considerably enlarged, had its foundation 
in the written laws of the primitive period of 
their history ; and in their elder jurisprudence, 
the Agrarian system very evidently prevails. 
As a robust, agricultural people, they were 
eminently fitted for military service ; and in 
practised vigour and constancy under every 
privation, the Roman infantry with the vigors 
ous masses of its legion, surpassed all military 
bodies that have ever been organized. 


The Roqxaipi 8^te from its p;*igi9, and accord« 
ing to its fir^t con^itution, was nothing else tban 
a yre^ org^^nized school of ^ar^ a pej^aneat 
e§tabIiÄlmic;0;t for cojnquest. Among Qther na- 
^ tioxi^, aß among tjie IRersiana pi>d Grqe^s, tU# 
desire pf n^ilitary glory a;ad thß Ivßt of co^q^e@$ 
was only a temporary enthusiasm, called fotrt]^ 
by SQme speicial ca^se» or some ngkighty m^^i^ß 
— a sud4en sally — the thought pf a mpnotei^jt. 
Among the Romaics it is p^ecis^y the sy^^i^a- 
tically slow ai^d progressive march of theijr ^r^jt 
conquests, their indexible p/eraeyerance, tl^eir 
unremitting actiyity, the vigilant use oi eviery 
advantageous opportunity, which strike the ob- 
server, and explain the cause of tjl^eir mighty 
success in after- times. Th^t unshaJfLe^ con- 
i^tancy under misfortune, which ever charap- 
terised tl^e Romans, they displayed even at thiß 
early period during the conquest of their city by 
the Gauls ^ ^hp^gb this misfortune, like thai; 
people itself, was but a traiisient calaqij^ity. I^ 
general, the Romany never evinced greater 
epergy than when they were overcome, pr when 
they met with an unexpected resistance. Some- 
times in a moipeqt of extreme urgency, thei|* 
generals, like the Consul Decius Muß, taking a 
cl^osen body of troops, invoked the national 
Gods, devoted tl^emselves to death, and rushed 
on the superior forces of the enemy, whereby 
thpugh they fell the victims Pf their zeal, ^ey 
saved the arpiy frppj the fi^enaced ignominy pf 

d^fbeft, and ftdrieved h ^ighkl Vfctoiy. ylPhh 
#iKjh i <3lmtact€^, «ach unshaken fertfttidife und 
pöWeV^eWÄic* liÄdet mfefortuhe, Ve can w^ 
«conceive that in * slate «b coristitiited like 
fheii^ft, th6 Remans, by their indefatigabte ate- 
tivitjr in \rAr, «hould in no v^ great space of 
tfene teive conquered and subdued all the sur- 
rounding nations and Btates of Italy. It was 
thus they successively overcame the kindred 
aÄd confederated tribes of Lätium, ahd the rude 
Sabihes ; tiiat, after a long and tobstinate siege 
of the I'uscan city of Veii, they became masters 
of th» feüiüi^iän league, lords of thfe beautiful 
Ofoiipattiiei, ahd vanquished Ih^ warlike iSamniteS 
An the A^nfn^ r^tbge, ahd on thie coast of the 
Adriatic. They how cäist their eyes on the rich 
pitoVinte^ of Ma^a Grcecia. In the war against 
Tarentum, which was in alliance With Pyfrhus, 
King of lEpiruB, they came lot the first time in 
Contact with tkie great exttd-ltalic Greek JJowerö, 
ahd had to ehcöütiter, in thfe ttmks of the enemy, 
the unwonted spectacle of war-elephants, which 
were there employed according to the Asiatic 
Custom. Aftei^ the loss of Ihfe first battlieö, they 
#fefe vietoriöüä ; and they hoW added Apulia 
ättd Calabria to theii" ciohquestä. Ekch Üep in 
the Career ot victoiy drew afkter it new embar- 
i^i^sttients, h^W occasions, iähd hew matter for 
filtu^e i;räl^. The iilhäbitäilt^ df Syracuse, #ho 
had been fbf some titne göVertied by tyrants, 
fbtih^d oh the ttitezi of Pyrrhti^, ad älliahcö 


with the Carthaginians, then masters of half of 
Sicily, and sought their protection against the 
Romans, who were confederated with their ene- 
mies, another party in the island. This brought 
on the first Punic war with that Republic, then 
mistress of the sea. In this warfare against 
Pyrrhus and the Carthaginians, the Romans, 
who had been hitherto confined within the se- 
cluded circle of the petty states of Italy, ap- 
peared for the first time on the great historical 
theatre of the then political world. In that age 
which was immediately subsequent to the time 
of Alexander the Great, the different Macedo- 
nian and other Greek powers of importance 
formed, together with Egypt and Carthage, a 
variously connected system of states, in one 
respect, not unlike the political system of mo- 
dern Europe, at the end of the 17 th and during 
the greater part of the 18th century. For, accord- 
ing to a principle of the balance of power, each 
state sought to strengthen itself by alliances, 
and to repress an overwhelming ascendancy, 
without on that account at all relaxing its efforts 
for its own aggrandizement. That on one hand, 
the fluctuating condition and internal troubles of 
those countries, and on the other, the fresh youth- 
ful vigour, the steady perseverance and con- 
stancy of the Roman people, would soon put an 
end to this system of equilibrium — to these poli- 
tical oscillations between the different states, 
and bring about the complete triumph and de- 


cided ascendancy of the Romans, might indeed 
have been easily foreseen^ and was in the very 
nature of things. After the first Punic war, 
the Romans to the conquest of Sicily added that 
of Corsica and Sardinia; and they next sub- 
dued the Cisalpine Gauls in the North of Italy. 
When even Hannibal, the most formidable enemy 
the Roman Republic ever had to encounter,, 
and the one who had the most deeply studied 
its true character, and the danger threatening 
the world from that quarter; when even he, 
after the many great victories which, in a long 
series of years, he had obtained over the Ro- 
mans, in the second Punic war; though he 
shook the power, was unable to break the spirit 
of this people; — when this was the case, one 
might regard the great political question of the 
then civilized world as settled ; and it could no 
longer be- a matter of doubt that that city justly 
denominated Strength, and which even from of 
old had been the idol of her sons, (who account- 
ed every thing as nought in comparison with 
her interests); that that city, I say, was des- 
tined to conquer the world, and establish an 
empire, the like whereof had never yet been 
founded by preceding conquerors. The second ' 
Punic war terminated under the elder Scipio 
before the walls of Carthage, and it com- 
pleted the destruction of that rival of Rome, at 
least as a political power. The Princes and 
states that while it was yet time, should have 



Ibrmed a inn «id steadfast IdHgae sgakist ^the 
common fbe, feU now separately rntider tiie 
sword of the irictors, and the yoke of eoBqa^st. 
In the fiirther progress of thßk trfntnpiis, the 
ooaqueri^rs baew how to assume a oiertaiii 4:;ha*- 
racter «rf generosity, a»d gire a certoiiei cokMri* 
af magnanimity to their acCs» in tbe ey^S ^ a 
gazing €»id terrified world. Thns, for instance, 
after the defeat of Philip, King of Maeedote, 
Ihey dec^red to deluded Greece that she was 
free ; and again^ Antiochus the Oreat, whose 
arrogance had given ofibnoe to many^ and whose 
OTerthrow was in consequence the subject of 
very general joy, was ccmipelled to cede the 
Lesser Asia as for a» Mount TaurUiB ; and the 
victors gave away the conquered provinces and 
kingdoms to tiie Princes in their alliance, and 
affected not to ha>re the intention of subduing 
and keeping all for themselves. For it was yet 
much too soon to let the unconquered states and 
nations perceive that all, without distinction, 
were destined, one after tho other, to become the 
provinces of the all-absorbing empire of Rome. 
Thus now overpassing the limits of Greece, the 
Romans had obtained a firm footing In Asia ; 
and this first step was soon enough to be suc- 
ceeded by other and still further advances. 
Historians have often remarked the decisive 
moment when Csesar, after an instant's reflec- 
tion and delay, crossed the Rubicon ; but we 
may ask now, when Rome herself had passed 


ia^ier JS,ubi|3aii, whece was that tustorical limit ^ 
t^^bt ]#f t bpun^^ryrliine of ambition,, after passing 
.which no ceturjB, 90 ibalt w^dt^ possible ; if now, 
wh^ aU right» all justice« every human term 
»fid limit to ambitiom w^e lost sight of, if now 
idolizf^ Rome in the ^Ipes^ of her Pagan pride, 
9fx^ iß. itßf: rapid carieer (>f desibruction, marching 
from iißß crj^e ß^iwßt the world to another, 
fljid 4esceiMUog deeper and deeper into the 
.^byisß of interii^inable, foreign and domestic 
h^Qodshßd, WQ#, from the summit of her tri- 
umphs, to sink beyond redemption, down to 
Caligula and Nero l-^We might point out, as an 
instance of this ever growing and reckless arro^ 
gjOLOce, the moment when the last king of Ma- 
cedon^* not more thsm a century and a half from 
the de^ath of Alexander the Great, was led in 
triumph into the city of the conquerors, a cap- 
tive and in chaiod, to sate the eyes of the JElo« 
inan populace. It entered into the^high designs 
of Providence in the government of the w orld, 
during this middle and second period of uni- 
versal history, that each of the conquering na- 
tions should receive its full measure of justice 
frpu) another worse than itself, emerging sud- 
denly from obscurity, and chosen as the instru- 
ment of its annihilation or subjection. But a 
stiU more decisive example of the spirit of 
üoman conquests wa# the cruel destruction of 

-- — ■ I . : ' " r .."fil l' . ' » 1 1»' " o ■ I t ■■! ■ » I I I ■ 

♦ Perseu9. 



Carthage in the third Punic war, begun without 
any assignable motive and from pure caprice. 
In this case no other resistance could be ex- 
pected than the resistance of despair, which 
here indeed showed itself in all its energy. For 
seventeen days the city was in flames, and the 
numbers that were exterminated amounted to 
seven hundred thousand souls, including the 
women and children sold into slavery ; so that 
this scene of horror served as an early prelude 
to the later destruction of Jerusalem. The 
wiser and more lenient Scipios had been against 
this war of extermination, and had had to con- 
tend with the self-willed rancour of the elder 
Cato ; yet a Scipio conducted this war, and was 
the last conqueror over the ashes of Carthage. 
And this was a man universally accounted to be 
of a mild character and generous nature ; and 
such he really was in other respects and in pri- 
vate life. But this reputation must be appa- 
rently estimated by the Roman standard, for 
whenever Rome and her interests were at stake, 
all mankind and the lives of nations were con- 
considered as of no importance. Besides, it is 
really not in the power of a General to do 
away with the cruelty of any received system 
of warfare. 

The example of the first great re-action of 
nations, too late aroused, was set by Greece in 
the war of the Ach^sat, league. It terminated 
like all the preceding wars ; — Corinth was con- 


Bumed, and its destruction involved that of an 
infinite number of noble and beautiful works 
of art, belonging to the better ages of Greece. 
Among the nations of the North and West that 
lived under a yet free and natural form of go- 
vernment, the Spaniards distinguished them-- 
selves by a peculiar obstinacy of resistance. 
Scipio was unable to conquer Numantia; the 
people who defended their liberty behind this 
rampart, set fire to the city, and the remain- 
ing defenders devoted themselves to a voluntary 
death. In the public triumph which the Romans 
celebrated on this occasion, they were able to 
exhibit only a few brave Lusitanians of a gigan- 
tic size. Now commenced the civil wars : — the 
first was occasioned by Tiberius Gracchus, then 
leader of the popular party at Rome. To un- 
dertake the complete justification of any one 
of the leading men in the Roman parties, 
would be an arduous, not to say impracticable 
task ; yet we may positively assert of the elder 
Gracchus, that he was the best man of his party ; 
as the same observation will apply to the Scipios 
in the opposite party of the Patricians. The 
proposal of Gracchus was this — that the rights 
of Roman citizens should be extended to the 
rest of Italy. It was in the very nature of things 
that such a change, or at least one very similar, 
should now take place, as in fact it did some- 
what later ; for after the conquest of so many 
provinces, the disproportion between the one 


alUrulidg city and the Ya«t r^iöh9 whic!^ k hAd: 
subdued, yrü^ much too gmat to cötltikiüe' lotig. 
The armed insurrection of all the Italian na^ 
C tions that occurred^ soon after, süffldiäntly pit>Te8 
of what vital importance this measure wa» con- 
sidered. But the pride of the ruling Patrii^ians 
was extremely offend^ at this claim -^ they 
regarded it as- an attempt' to subt^rt^ the an- 
cient constitution of the cotintry-^and> iii the 
revolt that eni^ued, Tiberius Gracchus lost his 
life. From that time forward the principles 

_ ^ apparently contended for on both sides wer^ 
mere pretexts*— whether it were the maintfenaiice 

,_^ of the law, and of the ancient^ cotistitution, as 
asserted by the Patricians^— or the just claims 

"- of the people, and the necessary changes which 
the altered circumstances of the timei^ demand- 
ed, as aUeged by the opposite . party. It was 
now an open stnig^e for ascendancy between a 
few factious leaders and their paHisans^^a civil 
1 war carried ^ on between fierce atid> ibMEiidälile 
\ Oligarchs^ 

The efiliston of blood wad still gfedter in the 
troubles whiefa the younger CaiuS GracchtiS 
occasioned, and which Imd the same motive and 
the same object as the preceding coranM^tiens, 
though conducted with more animosity, and 
stained by greater crimes ; and in the Patrician 
party, the noble Soipio, the hero of the third 
Punic war, fell a victim <if amasstnatiöti . M u^r^ 
ders and poisoning were now every day mow 

ui&XQftvY. 335 

QflnunoA ; and ii became tiie piaetice to cbu^^ 
daggers under tlie mantle. On this <)GGa&io& we 
may cite an observation» made not by any father 
of the church, or any Christian moralist ; but 
by a celebrated German historian^ who was ia 
other respects an enthusiastic admirer of the 
Republican heroism of the ancieaits: ''Bome^ 
the mistress of the world/' says he, ''drunks 
widi the' blood of nations, began now to rage 
in her entrails." Of Marius and Sylla^ on 
whom next devolved the conduct of t£e Patri- ( 
cian and Plebeian parties in the civil war^now^ 
conducted on a more extended scale, it is diffi- 
cult to decide which of the two surpassed the ^ 
other in cruelty and blood-thirstiness^ Marius 
was indeed of a ruder, and more savage cha* 
ract^ — but Sylla evinced perhaps a more sys- 
tematic and relentless ferocity« Both were 
great generals ; and. it was only after obtaining: 
splendid victories over forejgn nations that they 
could think of turning their fiiry, against their 
native city, after having spent their rage on the 
rest of mankind. The victories of Marius had 
delivered Ron^ from the mighty dai^er with 
which she had been n^enaced» by the irruption 
of the powerful tribes of the Cimbri and Teu- 
tones— the first. fore-runner of the Great North- ^ 
em migratioii.: Danger served but to arouse the 
Roman people to moire triumphant exertions ; 
and every effort of hostile resistance^ when once 
overcome, tended only; to confirm their universal 



dominion. The greatest and most formidable of 
these efforts of resistance was made by Mithri- 
dates, King of Pontus — it began by the murder 
of eighty thousand Romans in his dominions, 
and the simultaneous revolt of all the Italian 
nations against the Roman sway. No enemy of 
the Romans, since Hannibal, had formed such a 
deep-laid plan as Mithridates, whose intention 
it was to unite in one armed confederacy against 
Rome all the nations of the North, from the 
regions of Mount Caucasus, as far as Gaul and 
the Alps. By his victories over this enemy, 
Sylla prepared to return to Rome, torn and con- 
vulsed by civil war ; and on his entry into the 
city, he treated it with all the infuriated ven- 
geance of a conqueror, proscribed, gave fiiU 
loose to slaughter, and perpetrated the most 
execrable atrocities. We may cite as a strange 
instance of the still surviving greatness of the 
Roman character, the fact, that Sylla, imme- 
diately after all this immense bloodshed, as if 
every thing had passed in perfect conformity to 
law and order, laid down the Dictatorship, re- 
tired peacefully to his estate, and there prepared 
to write his own history. In one respect, how- 
ever, he was a flatterer of the multitude — he 
seems to have thoroughly understood the Roman 
people, for he was the first to introduce the 
games of the circus, those bloody combats of 
animals, those cruel Gladiatorial fights, which 
afterwards, under the Emperors, became like 


bread, one of the most indispensable necessaries 
to the Roman people, and one of the most im« 
portant objects of concern to its rulers. For 
these games, where the Roman eye delighted to 
contemplate men devoted to certain death con- 
tend and wrestle with the most savage animals, 
Pompey on one occasion introduced six hun- 
dred lions on the arena, and Augustus, four 
hundred panthers. Thus did a thirst for blood, 
after having been long the predominant passion 
of the party-leaders of this all-ruling people, be- 
come an actual craving — a festive entertainment 
for the multitude. And yet the Romans of this 
age, when we consider their conduct in war — 
in the battles and victories they won, or the 
strength of character they evinced, whether on 
the tented field, or on the arena of political con- 
tests, displayed an admirable, we might some- 
times say a super-human, energy; so that we 
are often at a loss how to reconcile our admira- 
tion with the detestation which their actions un- 
avoidably inspire. It was as if the iron-footed 
God of war, Gradivus, so highly revered from 
of old by the people of Romulus, actually be- 
strode the globe, and at every step struck out 
new torrents of blood ; or as if the dark Pluto 
had emerged from the abyss of eternal night, 
escorted by all the vengeful spirits of the lower 
world, by all the Furies of passion and insatiable 
cupidity, by the blood-thirsty demons of murder, 
to establish his visible empire, and erect his 

VOL. I. z 



tbrone for ever on the earth. There can be no 
doubt that if the Roman history were divested 
of its accustomed rhetoric, of all the patriotic 
maxims and trite sayings of politicians, and were 
presented with strict and minute accuracy in all 
its living reality, every humane mind would be 
deeply shocked at such a picture of tragic truth, 
and penetrated with the profoundest detestation 
and horror. The licentiousness of Roman man- 
ners, too, was really gigantic ; so that the moral 
corruption of the Greeks appears in comparison 
a mere infant essay in the school of vice. 

The civil wars that next followed had in all 
essential points the same character with the 
first, though the fearfiil recollection, which still 
dwelt in men's minds, of the times of Marius 
and Sylla, tended to introduce at first a certain 
caution in all external proceedings ; but in the 
course of their progress, these wars resumed the 
sanguinary character of the earlier civil con- 
tests. The proper circle of the Roman con- 
quests, whose natural circumference was now 
marked out by all the countries bordering 
on the Mediterranean, was, in the second pe* 
riod of the civil wars, pretty well filled up by 
Caßsar and Pompey — ^by Pompey on the side of 
Asia, and by Caesar on the side of the incompa- 
rably more formidable and more warlike nations 
of the North-western frontier. The conquest of 
Graul was achieved by an uncommon eflusion of 
human blood, even according to a Roman estima- 


tion ; and in the fifty battles related by Caesar to 
have been fought in the Gallic war, in the com- 
plete subjugation of Spain, in the first wars on 
the Germanic , frontiers and in Britain, as well as 
in the North of Africa against Juba, and against 
the son of Mithridates, the number of men left 
on the field is computed at twelve hundred thou- 
sand ; and it is to be observed that as Csesar 
is his own historian, these estimates have in 
part been given by himself. Yet was he praised 
for his goodness and the mildness of his cha- 
racter ; but this praise must be measured by 
the Roman standard, and it is so far true that 
Caesar was by no means vindictive, nor in ge- 
neral subject to passion, nor cruel without a 
motive. But, whenever his interest required it, 
he was careless what blood he spilled. The war 
between Caesar and Pompey extended over all 
the provinces and regions of the Roman world ; 
but, when conqueror, Caesar formed and followed 
up the plan of completing and consolidating his 
victory by a system of lenity and conciliation . 
With all his indefatigable activity and consum- 
mate wisdom, with all the equanimity, pru- 
dence and energy of his character, he appears 
to have been still weak enough to imagine that 
the laurels he had acquired, in a way unequalled 
by any, were insufficient without the diadem — 
at least he gave occasion for such a suspicion. 
And so the second Brutus perpetrated on his 
person the act, for which the elder had been so 




highly commended by all Roman historians. 
To relate the subsequent civil war of Brutus 
and Cassius, the reconciliation between Antony 
and Octavius, which involved the death of 
Cicero, the new rupture and war between the 
latter rivals, would serve only to swell this ac- 
count of Rome and her destinies. These con- 
tests terminated in the establishment of mo- 
narchy, when the bloody proscriptions and civil 
wars of preceding times were forgotten, and 
Octavius, under the name of Augustus, appeared 
as the restorer of general peace, and the first 
absolute monarch of the Roman world ; — a mo- 
narch whose long reign was on the whole very 
happy, when compared with previous times, and 
who during his life was half-deified by his sub- 
jects. Unlimited power was still clothed and 
half veiled in the old republican forms and ex- 
pressions; and the recollection of Caesar's fate 
was too present to the mind of the cautious 
Augustus, for him ever to neglect those forms 
and usages. It would really appear as if the 
world were destined to breathe for a time in 
peace, and to repose awhile from those earlier 
wars, before another and a higher peace de- 
scended, and became visible on the earth — and 
along with that other, higher and divine peace^ 
a new and spiritual combat, waged not with the 
warlike parties of old, nor even with external and 
earthly power, but with the secret and internal 
cause of all those agitations, and all that injus- 
tice in the world. 


A golden age of literature and poetry served 
now to adorn the general peace, which the 
mighty Augustus had conferred on the con- 
quered world. This poetry was however but 
a late harvest which flourished towards the / 
autumn of declining Paganism. Plautus and 
Terence we canTegard merely as tolerably suc- 
cessful imitators of the Greeks. The beautiful 
diction and poetry of Virgil and Horace are in 
a general survey of literature chiefly valuable, 
inasmuch as they gave a noble refinement to a 
language which, in modern ages, and even still 
among ourselves, has been universally current ; 
but all this poetry, including that, which the 
richer, more copious, and more inventive fancy 
of Ovid produced, can be considered by poste- 
rity as only a very thin gleaning after the full 
bloom and rich harvest of Grecian poetry and 
art. The real poetry of the Roman people lay / 
elsewhere thaii in those artificial compositions 
of Greek scholars. It must be sought for in the 
festive games of the circus, which the prudent 
Augustus never neglected — in those theatrical, 
combats, where the Gladiator, wrestling with 
death, knew how to fall and die with dignity,; 
when he wished to obtain the plaudits of the 
multitude — in that circus, in fine, which so often 
afterwards resounded with the cry of an infu- 
riated populace ; — " Christianos ad leones," ; 
" the Christiana to the lions, the Christians to \ 
the lions." 



In the department of history, the case was 
^ very different from what it was In poetry. There 
the strong ptactical sense of the Romans, their 
profound' political sagacity, the far wider circle 
of their political relations, gave them a decided 
; advantage over the Greeks, who can shew no 
, historian, possessed of the simple grandeur of 
Caesar ;-^a style as rapid, and as straight-for- 
^ ward, as the exploits of CsBsar himself; or dis- 
tinguished, like Tacitus, by that deep insight 
into the abyss of human corruption; while to 
Livy must be assigned a place by the side at 
least of the most illustrious Greeks. Among the 
Romans, political eloquence and philosophy, 
by that union of the two, such as prevails in 
Cicero's writings, as well as by the greater mag- 
nitude and practical importance of the subjects 
which both found for discussion, possess a pe- 
culiar charm and value. At this period the 
study of Greek philosophy was regarded and 
prosecuted by the Romans merely as an useful 
auxiliary to eloquence ; and in the general de- 
pravity of morals, and amid the utter indiffer- 
ence for public misery and universal bloodshed, 
the philosophy of Epicurus naturally found the 
most admirers. It was only at a later period, 
when, under the better emperors, some men had 
undertaken the task of the moral regeneration 
of the Roman people and the Roman state, that 
those who entertained this great design sought 
for the last plank of national safety in the.§toical 



philosophy, which harmonized so well with the ; 
austere gravity of the Roman character. Then 
this philosophy obtained numerous followers 
among the Romans, as in earlier times it had ^ 
found favour with many of them, especially 
among the^Jurists. 

In the whole circle of human sciences, juris- 
prudence is that department of intellect, in 
which the Romans have thought with the most 
originality, and have exerted the greatest in- j 
fluence ; and which, by means of their writers, 
has obtained at once a very great degree of re« 
finement, and a very wide (U£bsion. Ceesar had 
formed the project of a general digest of Roman 
laws ; but this great design, like so many others 
he had entertained, was left unexecuted; and 
the age of Augustus at least was distinguisl^ 
by two great lawyers of opposite schools. It is 
by the scientific jurisprudence which they have 
bequeathed to posterity, more than by any thing 
else, that the Romans have exerted a mighty 
influence on after-ages. It must strike us at 
first sight as singular, that a nation which, in its 
external relations, had risen to greatness, and 
indeed had founded its greatness, on so fearful 
an excess of injustice, should have risen to 
such eminence in the science of jurisprudence, 
as the Romans undoubtedly have. But the in- 
justice of their conduct towards other stated and 
nations this people well knew how to conceal 
under legal forms, and establiih on legal titles ; 


and it often happened that, by the inconsistent: 
conduct of other nations, they were able to give 
a colouring of equity to their acts, and shew on 
their side the strict letter of law. 

In the next place, the Roman jurisprudence 
regarded more immediately the relations of pri- 
vate life, and all the artificial forms of civil law ; 
and we can well conceive that a people like the 
/ Romans, distinguished for so sound a judgment 
and such strong practical sense, and whose 
minds were so exclusively bent on civil life, and 
its various relations, should have attained such 
distinction in the science of civil jurisprudence, 
notwithstanding the enormous iniquity of their 
conduct in the wider historical department of 
international law; and here we may find an 
explanation of that apparent contradiction be- 
tween law and injustice, such as we find fi*e- 
quent examples of in human nature and in 
the records of history. 

There is also another element of contradic- 
tion in the Roman law, considered both in itself, 
and in its relation to other codes — a contradic- 
tion which strongly pervaded the whole theory 
of that legislation, and may furnish us with a 
clue to a right judgment on the Roman juris- 
piiidence, and on the influence it has exercised 
on posterity. This is the distinction between 
strict or absolute law, and the law of equity, 
that is to say, the law qualified by historical 
circumstances. In the Germanic law, as it is 

«STORY. 345 

a law of custom and ancient usage, a law quali- 
fied by times and circumstances, the principle f 
of equity is more predominant; and we have, 
indeed, reason to regret that this native and 
original legislation of the modern European na- 
tions should, by the prevailing influence of the 
more scientific jurisprudence of ancient Rome, 
have been cast into the back-ground, in propor- 
tion as those nations began to mistake the true 
character of their historical antiquity. The ' 
Rqman jurisprudence, as it deals in rigid formu- 
las^ and adheres to the strict letter, inclines more - 
towards rigid and absolute law ; and its spirit 
has something akin to the stern international 
policy of the ancient Romans. But is this strict 
and absolute law a fit criterion to apply to 
earthly concerns, can it be a true standard of 
human justice, in its more large and general 
applications to the great transactions of univer- 
sal history, and in its relations to divine justice? 
Every thing absolute (and such undoubtedly is / 
strict law, in the relations of private, and still 
more in those of public life), everything absolute 
is sure to provoke its contrary, and if continued, 
will occasion successive reactions, that can ter- 1 
minate only in the mutual destruction of con- i 
flicting parties — the inevitable result of all 
contests carried to extreme lengths — unless 
some higher principle of peace intervene to 
compose and determine them by a divine law 
of equity^ 


But if this conciliating principle do not pro* 
nonnce its sentence, or if it be not attended to, 
extreme injustice only can spring from this rigid 
and inflexible application of extreme law ; and 
this is quite in the spirit of the old saying of 
the Jurists, which we must here apply in a more 
general sense, in order to estimate with trulJi 
and accuracy the nature of the contests which 
divide the world. " Let justice be done," they 
say (and the word is here used in the juridical 
sense of strict and absolute law), " let justice be 
done, though the world should be ruined." And 
we may well say in reply : — ^Woe to mankind, 
woe to every individual, woe to the world, were 
they doomed to be finally judged according to 
this rigid justice, and this rigid justice only, by 
Him who alone has the power and the right to 
dispense such severe justice unto men, and 
judge them by its rules. But since such full 
and inexorable justice belongs to God only, who 
is incapable of error ; and since all human jus- 
tice is but the temporary delegate of the divine ; 
it should necessarily be mild, indulgent, quali- 
fied by circumstances ; and should on the prin- 
ciple of equity be as lenient as possible, and 
be ever mindfiil of its due limits. And this prin- 
ciple is applicable to the most important as well 
as the most insignificant relations of life, and 
is so thoroughly connected with them all that; 
according as we adopt the one or the other 
principle of strict and absolute law, or of mild 


eguity, the whole of our conduct, opinions, and 
views of the world must differ. The power of 
the" state is only a temporary, and delegated, 
power, destined to accomplish the ends of di- 
vine justice ; and this dignity, indeed, is suffi* 
ciently exalted, and the responsibility attached 
to it sufficiently great ; but this supreme hu- 
man justice, unless it disregard its own limits, 
as well as those of mankind, is not divine jus- 
tice, nor the inmiediate authority of God, nor 
God himself. 

The old hereditary vice and fundamental 
error of the Roman government, and indeed of 
the Roman people, was that political idolatry of ^^ 
thejtate, to which the false theory of strict and 
absolute law was of itself calculated to lead. 
Although the absolute power of Augustus was 
still somewhat veiled under the old forms of the 
Republic, yet even in his reign commenced the 
formal deification of the person of the Prince, 
and, under the succeeding emperors, it exceeded ^ 
all bounds, and descended to the basest forms 
of adulation. And if even this idolatry had 
been paid, not so exclusively to the person of an 
Augustus or a Tiberius, as to the idea of the state 
identified with that person ; and if thus the real 
object of that Pagan worship had been in the 
latest, as in the earliest, times, Rome, the eter- 
nally prosperous, the everlastingly powerful, the 
world-destroying, and people-devouring, Rome, 
to which every thing must fall a sacrifice ; still 







■; i-^^r 


it was not the less a thorough political idolatry. 
And as a sensual worship of Nature eminently 
characterized the poetical religion of the Greelc» 
— as the abusive rites of magic were peculiar 
to the false mysteries of Egypt — so this third 
and greatest aberration of Paganism, — political 
idolatry in its most frightful shape, formed the 
distinguishing character and leading principle 
of the Roman state, from the earliest to the 
latest period of its history. 

Under Augustus the Roman empire was well 
nigh rounded off in extent, since the geogra- 
phical situation, as we before observed, of all 
the countries bordering on the Mediterranean 
might be considered a sufficiently wide natural 
frontier. The counties on the coast of Africa 
were protected by the contiguous deserts; on 
the Northern side of the empire, which wbs 
more menaced by invasion, the strongly fortified 
borders of the Rhine and the Danube formed a 
secure barrier. Towards the eastern and Asiatic 
frontier, the Parthians were indeed a powerful 
and formidable enemy; but there was no pro- 
bability they would ever seek, as the Persians 
had once done, to penetrate so far beyond their 
boundaries ; while, on the other hand, the Ro- 
mans had no real interest in extending their con- 
quests further into that region, or into the inte- 
rior parts of central Asia, as such a policy would 
only lead them further from the centre of their 
empire and. their power, now unalterably fixed 


in Italy and the old, eternal city. The thoughts 
and feelings of all the better Romans were no 
longer turned on the aggrandizement of their 
empire, but solely and exclusively on a great 
internal regeneration of public morals, and as 
far as was practicable, of the state itself, accord- 
ing to those ideal conceptions which they formed 
of old Rome in her better and more prosperous 
days. These projects of social regeneration 
were nearly in the same spirit and of the same 
tendency as those which the better emperors of 
succeeding ages, a Trajan and a Marcus Aure- 
lius actually attempted to accomplish. Others 
again were filled with apprehensions for the 
future; and well indeed might they entertain 
the most alarming presentiments ; for when the 
licentiousness of public morals was growing to a 
more and more fearful height, and a succession 
of indolent emperors was hastening the down- 
fal of the state, the strong fortifications of the 
Northern frontier could afibrd little protection, 
and the nations of the North must burst in 
without resistance upon the empire. This event 
did really occur, though at a much later period ; 
but all that was to precede that event — the 
quarter whence the new principle would rise 
up in the world, that was to overcome Rome 
herself and regenerate mankind — all this was 
certainly not anticipated by any Roman of those 
times, however generous and exalted might be 
his sentiments, and profound and penetrative 


his understaQding. Nay, when this phenomencxi 
did actually appear, it was but too evident that 
they were at first unable to seize and compre- 
hend its meaning and purport. And what was 
then that new power, which was to conquer, and 
did really conquer, the earthly conquerors of the 
world ? The old universal empire of Persia, and 
the subsequent one of Macedcm, had long since 
passed away, and disappeared from the face of 
the earth. The oppressive military despotism 
of Rome had to fear no rival that would at all 
equal her in power. The influence of the Greek 
Philosophy, which had previously sunk into 
great degeneracy, was completely debased under 
the yoke of Roman domination, and barely suf- 
ficed to adorn and dignify the Roman sway, still 
less to work a fundamental change and reform 
in the Roman government. 

It was the divine power of Love, tried in suf- 
ferings, and sacrificing to high Love itself not 
only life, but every earthly desire; and from 
which proceeded the new words of a new life, a 
new light of moral and divine science, that was 
to unfold new views of the world, introduce a 
new organization of society, and give a new 
form to human existence. And such was that 
primitive energy of Christian love, which dis- 
played itself in the internal harmony, and close 
union of the Christian church; in the rapid 
diffusion of its doctrines through all the coun- 
tries and among all the nations of the then 


known world ; in its courageous resistance to 
all the assaults of persecution; in the care- 
ful preservation of its purity from all alloy and 
corruption ; in its firmer consolidation and more 
manifold development in words, and works and 
deeds ; in writings and in life ; that not many 
generations, and but a few centuries had passed 
away, before Christianity became a ruling power 
in the world — an indirect and spiritual power 
indeed, but more than any other active and 

A passage on Elias in the Old Testament, 
which we have already had occasion to cite, 
may be applied to the imperceptible beginnings 
of this great moral revolution, produced in the 
world by a new effort of God's power. When 
the prophet, from the bottom of his soul had 
sighed after death, and had journeyed for the 
space of forty days towards the holy mountain 
of Horeb, the splendour and omnipotence of the 
Deity were revealed to him, and passed before 
his mortal eyes. There came a great and strong 
wind, which overthrew the mountains and split 
the rocks ; but, as the scripture saith, God was 
not in the wind. There came afterwards a vio- 
lent earthquake with fire — but God was neither 
in the earthquake, nor in the fire. Now there 
arose the soft breath and gentle whistling of a 
tender air : in this, Elias recognized the imme- 
diate presence of his God, and in awe and reve- 
rence he veiled his face. Such was the origin 


of Christianity, as compared with the all-sub- 
duing and world-convulsing sway of the con* 
quering nations of preceding ages. 

In the last years of Augustus, the first dei- 
fied Emperor — occurs the birth of our Saviour 
in the time of Tiberius, the foundation of the 
Christian religion ; — and in the reign of Nero, 
the first perfectly authentic record of that great 
event in the Roman history. There is indeed an 
account which says that, previously, Tiberius, 
on the report of the Roman governor, Pontius 
Pilate, had received information of the new reli- 
gion, and had made a formal proposal to the 
Senate to place Christ among the Gods, accord- 
ing to the Roman custom, and to declare him 
worthy of divine honours. It is true indeed, 
that the single testimony of Ter tuUian, on which 
this account rests, is not of such weight and 
historical importance as not to be obnoxious to 
many serious doubts, which perhaps however, 
have been carried somewhat too far. It still 
remains a clear historical testimony on a matter 
of fact ; and as long as this is susceptible of 
a natural explanation, it argues a perverse spi- 
rit of historical criticism, or rather a total ab- 
sence of all criticism, to be ever suspecting 
fabrications, and supposititious writings. That 
an account of this great event might, nay must 
almost necessarily, have been transmitted to 
Rome by the Roman Procurator of the province 
of Judea, is proved by the narrative of Tacitus, 


who connects the name of this governor with 
the first mention of the Christians. Such an 
account may have been easily sent even by 
the Roman captains, who were in Palestine, 
and one of whom we know, as an eye-witness, 
gave such a memorable testimony in favour of 
the Son of God, who had died upon the cross ; 
for, according to the general tradition of the 
church, this man afterwards became a Christian. 
There is again in the character of Tiberius 
nothing at all at variance with this account; for 
however dark, and mistrustful, and cruel, and 
corrupt might be the character of that Emperor, 
we cannot deny he was possessed of a powerful 
and profound understanding. He was by no 
means unsusceptible of religious impressions, 
nor indifferent on matters of religion; but he 
followed therein his own peculiar views and opi- 
nions ; and hence it is quite natural that his at- 
tention should be easily drawn to any extraor- 
dinary religious event. He detested, and even 
persecuted the Egyptian idolatry, and the Jewish 
worship, and ordered that the sacerdotal robes 
and sacred vessels of their priests should be 
burned. He had a strong faith in destiny, wad 
somewhat addicted to astrology, and dreaded 
signs in the heavens. If his hostility towards 
the Jews and his persecution of that nation, be 
alledged as an objection to the truth of this 
narrative, (as if it were absolutely necessary that 
he should have confounded the Christians with 

VOL. I. 2 a 


the Jews) ; we vmy reply that this is a piurd]^ 
arbitrary bypqthesis, and t}iat it is far more 
natural to conplude that, when Tiberias had 
received from Pilate, or other HpinaB cap- 
taio»» certain intelligenpe of the life and dead) 
of our Sayiourp he was no dPlibt informed by 
these eye*witne9ses of the htttred and persecu^ 
tion which our Saviour had ßu^tained from the 
Jews. The single fapt indeed, that Christianily 
was so much opposed to the Pagan worship aad 
the political idolatry of the Romans — as foe 
instance to the sacrifice before the image pf the 
Emperor— was in nil probability not stated nor 
dearly explained in this first account, composed 
by persons very little acquainted with the true 
liature of the new Hev^tion. Otherwise supl^ 
an account would have prpdui^d on a mail ip^- 
bued with Roman prejudices no other impression 
but that of aversion and disgust. The idea and 
proposal itself of r^arding ^tn extraordinary 
man endpwed with wonderful and divine poweri 
as God ^d a? wprthy of divine honours, has 
nodung at cdl imprc^able in itself, or at all ^^ 
consistent with Roman rites c^nd usages» or ^t^ 
Reman opinion« respecting Gods apd deified 
men. The only thing really improbable in t|»e 
whole aflfairt is that the Senate of tl^at time 
should have dared tP oppose ^'^d cpntnidioi 
Tiberius in this matter. However, if the Senate, 
as we may easily imaginot were hostile to tbe 
prppopal of Tiberius, it wa» easy fpr theni to 

. BISTOftY. 355 

Mopt Mlae evi^t fbrffi, aöd üitlirectly to im- 
ftede «fid 8«t ai^ide thid nfmtter, ^Mch a& it re- 
gmded old nafioBfal riteä, fett entirely within 
their jiiriädicticm. But thid circumstance, as we 
said be^N'e, is the only thihg which appears at 
all exaggerated in this account. It is easy to 
understand from this how the proposition of 
Trb^us, which was never carried into execution 
should have £sdlen into complete oblivion, and 
should never have come to the knowledge of 
Tacitnis ; as we may conclude, from bfe account 
of the Christians^ that he' would not otherwise 
have suffered thid crreumstance to pass unno- 
ticed. Singular and remarkable as this ftict tMty 
be, it id of no importance in itself; it forms only 
a smgle incident in the strange and contradic- 
tory ink^ressions which the ^ew religion pro- 
duced on the minds of the Romans. A passage 
of SüJetonitts, in his history of Claudius, wonld 
show that the Christians were confounded with 
die Jeti^s, for, spealdng of that Emperor, he says/ 
'' he expelled the Jews fiK>m the Capital, for, at 
the inMigatioh of CkreHus, they were ever ex- 
citing troubles in the state/' Chrestus in the 
Qreds pronunciation, has the same sound with 
Christus; and we may easily conceive that 
what the Christians said of their invisible Lord 
and Master, that he interdicted them such and 
such Pagan rites, may in a matter so totally 
Grange and ixnintelligible to the Romans, have 
been elBusily misunderstood, as- applying to a 



chief and party - leader actually in existence. 
In the same way, by the troubles spoken of 
in the passage above cited, may be understood 
the accustomed and just refusal of the Chris- 
tians to comply with the illicit demands of the 

A fuller light is thrown on this subject by 
the narrative of Tacitus in his history of Nero ; 
and, however much the Christian religion may 
be misrepresented by the Roman historian, his 
account has still a character thoroughly his- 
torical, and amidst its very misrepresentations, 
is perfectly intelligible, if we take care to distin- 
guish the chief historical traits. When Nero, 
at the height of his crimes and presumption had 
set Rome on fire, in order to have a lively and 
dramatic spectacle of the burning of Troy, he 
afterwards strove to screen himself from the 
odium of this misdeed, and to throw the blame 
entirely upon the Christians, who must have 
been then tolerably numerous in Rome. Tacitus 
thinks they were not the authors of the confla- 
gration laid to their charge; and his feelings 
revolt at the inhuman cruelties which Nero in* 
flicted upon them ; but, he adds, many horrible 
things were said of them, and that it was known 
in particular they were animated by sentiments 
of hatred towards the whole human race. That 
we are to understand by this hatred towards 
the human race nothing more than that rigid 
rejection by the Christians of all the idolatrous 


rites, maxims and doctrines of the Heathen 
world, is perfectly evident of itself. Among the 
horrible things, of which the Christians were 
accused, we are in all probability to understand 
the reports of Thyestes^ for their enemies make 
use of that very term in their accusations ; — ac- 
cusations which were received with eager credu- 
lity by a populace that held them in abhorrence. 
Although this charge was no doubt afterwards 
the effect of malicious calumny,' and deliberate 
falsehood, yet it is very possible that a gross 
misconception may originally have given rise to 
it, and that this accusation^ egregiously false as 
it was, proceeded from an obscure and confused 
knowledge of the mystery of the holy sacrifice, 
and of the reception of the Sacrament in that 
divine feast of love solemnized in the Christian 

Even in the official report, which the better 
and well-meaning younger Pliny transmitted to 
Trajan in the year 120, while he was governor 
of Pontus and Bithynia, we can clearly discern 
Ihe embarrassment of the generous Roman, 
who was at a loss how to consider the new 
religion, so perfectly mysterious and totally 
inexplicable did it appear to him ; and who in 
consequence was quite undetermined what he 
was to do, and how he was to treat the matter. 
He writes that, according to the confessions 
wrung from the Christians by torture, after 
the Roman custom, they were found to en« 

and Teiy penrcme, fiätk or st^petstitiöv; btit 
that m othep FespectB tkey irere people of i!^- 
reproochable mofu}», and wlifo* oit a certaht day 
of the week, Sairday, assemhied in the niotnmg 
to sing the praises of their God Christ, ithä to 
engage thesiselTe» to the foifilmeiit of the mösrt 
unportaftt precepts of virtue, OoA that tliey ttet 
agaiB in the eveniiig to enjoy al simpVe and 
blameleBS repast. He adA» thttt their numhera 
had already inereased to such an extent that 
the altar? oi Pagaaisin^ werie nearly abandoned ; 
and that a great nwnbei^ of wonien, boy» and 
children belonged to their sect. H^ is at a loss 
to know, wi^ respeet to the tatter, whether he 
should ttdl^ iMay dtetfepence itt the degtee of 
pUfnishment wkieh, it appears, they have ineri^ 
tably incurred under the old Roman laws against 
all CNicietieB and fia1^:iiities not san<itioned by 
Üie sti^ ; and o» this subject he d^nü^amfii ftir- 
ther instmcticms from the emperor, ia^ this me- 
morable official letter, which is stilt eiitant, and 
contains the most aneient portrait of Üie Christ 
tians drawn by a Roman handi 

Thus then^ in this period of the world, in this 
deeisiTo criBis between ancient atid modem 
times, in this great central point of history, stood 
two powers of^^osed to each other: — on one 
hand, we behold Tiberius, Caligula and N^^, 
the eartibly godSi and absoUite matäti6rs of the 
world, in all the pomp and splendor of anci^iH 


paganism — dtanding» as it were, on the very 
summit and verge of the old world, now totter- 
ing to its ruin : — and, on the other hand, we 
trace the obscure rise of an almost imperceptible 
point of Light, from which the whole modem 
world was to spring, and whose further progress 
and full development, through all succeeding 
ages, constitutes the true purport of modem 


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