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and gross were his delusions; and such as furnish frequen; and ample occasion for the triumph of the learned over the poor ignorant shoemaker, who had dared think for himself. But while we remember that these delusions were such as might be anticipated from his utter want of all intellectual discipline, and from his ignorance of rational psychology, let it not be forgotten that the latter defect he had in common with the most learned theologiang of his age. Neither with books nor with book-learned men was he conversant. A meek and shy quietist, his intellectual powers were never stimulated into feverous energy by crowds of proselytes, or by the ambition of proselyting. Jacob Behmen was an enthusiast, in the strictest sense, as not merely distinguished, but as contra-distinguished, from a fanatic. While I in part translate the following observations from a contemporary writer of the Continent, let me be permitted to premise, that I might have transcribed the substance from memoranda of my own, which were written many years before his pamphlet was given to the world ; and that I prefer another's words to my own, partly as a tribute due to priority of publication ; but still more from the pleasure of sympathy in a case where coincidence only was possible. expectation, on reading and considering the books of our author, he not only abandoned his intention, but was constrained by conscience to take up his pen on his side, against his own father. Boehm was a Lutheran, and died in the communion that church, in 1624 His most fam English follower was John Pordage, a physician, born in 1625, who tried to reduce his theosophy to a system, declaring himself to have recognised the truth of it by revelations made to himself. He published several works in favor of Behmen's opinions, which were read in Germany, and are said to have become the standard books of all enthusiasts. S. C.]
9. [By “the following observations” Mr. Coleridge meant those contained in the two next paragraphs, as far as the words “ William Law,” part of which are freely translated from pages 154-56 of Schelling's Darlegung des wahren Verhältnisses der Nutur-philosophie zu der verbesserten Fichte'schen Lehre, Tübingen, 1806.
The whole of the first paragraph is thu taken from Schelling, except the last sentence but one, and the third clause of the fourth.
For parts at the beginning and at the end of the second he was indebted to the following sentences of the Darlegung, pp. 155–6.
-“ So now too may lierr Fichte speak of these enthusiasts with the most heartfelt scholar's pride, although it is not easy to see why he exalts him. Whoever is acquainted with the history of philosophy, during the last two or three centuries, cannot but admit that there appears to have existed a sort of secret and tacit compact among the learned, not to pass beyond a certain limit in speculative science. The privilege of free thought, so highly extolled, has at no time been held valid in actual practice, except within this limit; and not a single stride beyond it has ever been ventured without bringing obloquy on the transgressor.
The few men of genius among the learned class, who actually did overstep this boundary, anxiously avoided the appearance of having so done. Therefore the true depth of science, and the penetration to the inmost centre, from which all the lines of knowledge diverge to their ever distant circumference, was abandoned to the illiterate and the simple, whom unstilled yearning, and an original ebul. liency of spirit, had urged to the investigation of the indwelling and living ground of all things. These, then, because their names had never been enrolled in the guilds of the learned, were per. secuted by the registered livery-men as interlopers on their rights and privileges. All without distinction were branded as fanatics and phantasts; not only those, whose wild and exorbitant imagi. nations had actually engendered only extravagant and grotesque phantasms, and whose productions were, for the most part, poor copies and gross caricatures of genuine inspiration ; but the truly inspired likewise, the originals themselves. And this for no other reason, but because they were the unlearned, men of hum. ble and obscure occupations. When, and from whom among the literati by profession, have we ever heard the divine doxology repeated, I thank thee, O Father! Lord of Heaven and Earth! because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast
self so altogether above them, unless it is because he can write orthographically, can form periods, and has the fashions of authorship at command; while they, according to their simplicity, just as they found it, so gave it utterance. No one, thinks Herr Fichte, that is not already wiser than these men, could learn anything from the perusal of their writings; and so he thinks himself much wiser than they: nevertheless Herr Fichte might give his whole rhetoric, if in all his books put together he had shown the spirit and heart-fulness, which often a single page of many 80called enthusiasts discovers.” Translation. S. C.)
revealed them unto babes." No; the haughty priests of learning not only banished from the schools and marts of science all who had dared draw living waters from the fountain, but drove them out of the very Temple, which, meantime, the buyers, and sellers; and money-changers were suffered to make a den of thieves.
And yet it would not be easy to discover any substantial ground for this contemptuous pride in those literati, who have most distinguished themselves by their scorn of Behmen, Thaulerus,"
10 St. Luke x., 21.
1 [I have ventured to substitute “ Thaulerus” for “ De Thoyras” in the text, having reason to suppose that the latter name was a mistake or misprint for the former.
John Thaulerus or Taulerus, sometimes called Dr. Thaulerus, was a celebrated mystic divine of the fourteenth century, the time and place of whose birth is uncertain. He became a monk of the Dominican order, and died at Strasbourg, according to the epitaph on his tomb, on the 17th of May, 1361.
He wrote several books of divinity in his own native language; the original edition is very rarely found, but they were translated into Latin by Surius, and published at Cologne in 1548. Among them are Exercises on the Life and Passion of Christ, Institutions and Sermons. The Theologia Germanica, also entitled, in the English translation, a little Golden Manual, has been ascribed to him.
Very different judgments have been formed of the character and value of his writings, as is commonly the case with respect to mystical productions, the thoughts and language of which are in a state of glowing fusion, and therefore capable of assuming different appearances, according to the moulds of mind into which they are received. Some behold in them heresy and fanaticism; some hold them good in substance but too capable of perversion ; whilst, on the other hand, many authors of weight and note, both Romanist and Protestant, especially the latter, as Arnd, Müller, Melancthon, and others, have commended them highly and unreservedly. Blosius the Abbot styled their author a sincere maintainer of the Catholic faith By Luther this Mystic is spoken of in a spirit very similar to that manifested by Schelling and Coleridge, respecting the illiterate enthusiasts, whom they uphold against the literati by profession. “I know,” says he, “ that the Doctor is unknown to the schools of Divines, and therefore much despised ; but I have found in him, though his writings are all in the German language, more solid and true divinity than is found in all the Doctors of all the Universities, or than can be found in their opinions." (Luther, toin. i., Latin Jenens., page 86,6, apud Heupelium, folio B. verso.) Dr. Henry More's opinion of him is thus given in the Gen. Biog. Dictionary, whence this account, with the quotation from Luther, is taken:
“ But amongst all the writings of this kind there was none which so
George Fox, and others; unless it be, that they could write or. thographically, make smooth periods, and had the fashions of authorship almost literally at their fingers' ends, while the latter, in simplicity of soul, made their words immediate echoes of their feelings. Hence the frequency of those phrases among them, which have been mistaken for pretences to immediate inspiration; as for instance, “ It was delivered unto me;"_" I strove not to speak ;"_" I said, I will be silent ;"_" But the word was in my heart as a burning fire ;"_" and I could not forbear.” Hence, too, the unwillingness to give offence; hence the foresight, and the dread of the clamors, which would be raised against them, so frequently avowed in the writings of these men, and expressed, as was natural, in the words of the only book with which they were familiar.12 “ Woe is me that I am become a man of strife, and a man of contention- I love peace: the souls of men are dear unto me : yet because I seek for light every one of them doth curse me!" O! it requires deeper feeling, and a stronger ima. ginațion, than belong to most of those, to whom reasoning and fluent expression have been as a trade learnt in boyhood, to conceive with what might, with what inward strivings and commotion, the perception of a new and vital truth takes possession of an un. educated man of genius. His meditations are almost inevitably employed on the eternal, or the everlasting; for “the world is
affected him, as that little book, with which Luther was so prodigiously pleased, entitled “ Theologica Germanica; though he discovered in it, even at that time, several marks of a deep melancholy, and no small errors in matters of philosophy. But that,' says our author, 'which he doth so mightily inculcate, viz. that we should thoroughly put off and extinguish our own proper will, that being thus dead to ourselves, we may live alone to God, and do all things whatsoever by his instinct and plenary permission, was so connatural, as it were, and agreeable to my most intimate reason and conscience, that I could not of anything whatsoever be more clearly and certainly convinced.'” S. C.]
12 An American Indian, with little variety of images, and a still scantier stock of language, is obliged to turn his few words to many purposes, by likenesses so clear and analogies so remote as to give his language the semblance and character of lyric poetry interspersed with grotesques. Something not unlike this was the case of such men as Behmen and Fox with regard to the Bible. It was their sole armory of expressions, their only organ of thought.
not his friend, nor the world's law.” Need we then be surprised, that, under an excitement at once so strong and so unusual, the man's body should sympathize with the struggles of his mind; or that he should at times be so far deluded, as to mistake the tumultuous sensations of his nerves, and the co-existing spectres of his fancy, as parts or symbols of the truths which were opening on him? It has indeed been plausibly observed, that in order to derive any advantage, or to collect any intelligible meaning, from the writings of these ignorant Mystics, the reader must bring with him a spirit and judgment superior to that of the writers themselves :
And what he brings, what needs he elsewhere seek ?13
-a sophism, which I fully agree with Warburton, is unworthy of Milton ; how much more so of the awful Person, in whose mouth he has placed it? One assertion I will venture to make, as suggested by my own experience, that there exist folios on the human understanding, and the nature of man, which would have a far juster claim to their high rank and celebrity, if in the whole huge volume there could be found as much fulness of heart and intellect, as burst forth in many a simple page of George Fox, Jacob Behmen, and even of Behmen’s commentator, the pious and fervid William Law.14
13 [Paradise Regained, b. iv., 1. 325. S. C.)
14 [William Law was born at King's Cliffe, Northamptonshire, in 1689, died April 9, 1761. A list of seventeen religious works written by him is given in the Gent. Mag., Nov., 1800. Towards the latter end of his life he adopted “the mystic enthusiasm of Jacob Behmen,” which tinctured his later writings; and of that author's works he prepared an English edition. (Behmen's, Jacob, Works, to which is prefixed the Life of the Author, with figures illustrating his principles. Left by the Rev. William Law, M.A. London, 1764–81. 4 vols., 4to )
Mr. Southey has the following passage on Law in his Life of Wesley :
“ About this time Wesley became personally acquainted with William Law, a man whose writings completed what Jeremy Taylor, and the treatise De Imitatione Christi, had begun. When first he visited him, he was prepared to object to his views of Christian duty as too elevated to be attainable ; but Law silenced and satisfied hiin by replying, "We shall de well to aim at the highest degrees of perfection, if we may thereby at least attain tu mediocrity.' Law is a powerful writer : it is said that few