Skip to Content
Indiana University

Search Options

View Options

The Complete Poetical Works . Naden, Constance, 1858–1889.
no previous


“We receive but what we give, And in our life alone does Nature live; Ours is her wedding garment, ours her shroud.” —S.T. Coleridge

London: Bickers & Son, 1, Leicester Square, W.C.



IN this Complete Edition of the Poems of Constance Naden it has been deemed advisable that the two volumes, “Songs and Sonnets of Springtime” and “A Modern Apostle; The Elixir of Life; The Story of Clarice, and other Poems,” should appear in the order in which they were originally published. No attempt at re‐arrangement has been made. The only additions are “The Better World “ (which is printed on p. 172, immediately after the conclusion of what formed Miss Naden’s first volume of poems) and three miscellaneous pieces, “Winter and Spring,” “The Priest’s Warning,” and “ Night and Morning” (which are printed last of all).

Appended to the present volume will be found a selection of Personal and Press Opinions on the Works of Constance Naden.

page: vii


“See all in self, and but for self [as all inclusive] be born.”

—Pope’s “Dunciad,” 4th Book.

I DO not think I can submit to contemporary readers and serious students of common‐sense philosophy a better précis of the principle underlying both Miss Constance Naden’s verses and prose than by reproduction of the following curt and concise exposition, which adequately expresses the scope and gist both of her Poetry and Philosophy—the former in a more or less informal and cryptic manner, the latter in a more formal and implicit one. The very simplicity of the subject‐matter is the principal obstacle to its acceptance. It resolves all objects into the subject self, and thus deals the coup de grâce to all Dualism whatsoever. So that Anima, an ambiguous misnomer, signifying both Life and Mind, or soul, is shown to be the product, not the germ or source, of the Hyle or Matter—the Brain, by its function, being the sole cause of consciousness, without which all is blank nullity and nihility.

page: viii


Nemo potest exuere seipsum.

“Philosophy tells us that the world is a picture which we ourselves make. There is nothing in the world [including that object itself] which we do not put there. Our whole life, then, is one creative process.”

The above affirmation of Monism and denial of dual subject and object is taken from T. Bailey Saunders’s, M.A. (Oxon.), profound article on “The Origin of Reason,” in No. 160 of the Open Court*. It seems completely to bear out the scientific veridity of my title, and of Hylo‐Idealism, that on the apparitional, phenomenal, or relative theory of the universe, to which we have alone access, Self is to Self, further than which research is vain, the Be‐all and End‐all of sentient and non‐sentient existence. Hence religion is seen to have run its baneful course, and to be superseded by reason,

Reprinted (revised) from theMonist, of Chicago, for January, 1894, edited by Dr. Paul Carus, Ph.D.

See also a lengthy and serious review of that able thinker’s “Translations from Schopenhauer” in the London Athenæum for October 4th, 1890.

page: ix on which Mr. Saunders so lucidly discourses. For, if Self be all‐in all, there can be no room, in such a pleroma, for any Latria or worship, in the religious sense of the word, except Narcissus‐like self‐worship.

We are thus thrown back on, and face to face with, mere physical conditions, out of which ideal concepts proceed, while rigidly excluding all those misnamed “spiritual” ones, which hitherto have played so momentous a rôle in the destiny of humanity *. We thus make hygiene, as defined by Dr. Parkes in the solemn introduction to his manual of that last (and first) of the sciences, as not merely bodily sanitation, though that is already much, but as supreme culture of mind and body (or, to be more scientifically precise, of body merely, including brain), the all‐sufficing surrogate of Divine worship. The old adage, mens sana in corpore sano, should thus read corpus sanum = mens sana, merely. This Volte face turns every extant ethical and mental view topsy‐turvy. As it must do by exploding “thing” altogether, and by substituting our own thoughts for objects of all kinds. It is true, or it may be granted, that there is an objective or distal aspect of subjective thought. But that fact, or admission, in no degree in‐

It is significant and suggestive that no terms have ever been coined to express animistic concepts. Even Spirit, Soul, Lord, God, etc., are purely materialistic ones.

page: x validates the position that the only objects cognisable are those incorporated with, and by, the subject self, from which all “things” proceed. This interpretation of the universe is, inter alia multa, that of the emancipated Baccalaureus in the second part of Goethe’s “Faust,” as enunciated in the lines thus translated by the late Constance Naden:—

“I tell you this is Youth’s [Man’s] supreme vocation! Before me was no world—’tis my creation: ’Twas I who raised the Sun from out the sea; The Moon began her changeful course with me. I gave the signal on that primal night When all the host of heaven burst forth in light. Who but MYSELF saves Man from the dominion Of dogmas cramping, crushing, Philistianian?”

Indeed, it is the very first and last principle of common sense and common place that, before a “thing” is perceptible, it must be made sensible, and where can sensibility (consciousness) lie except in the sensorium which manifests that property? On the ground alone of consciousness or sensation being a somatic office or function it can only be, like all other organic functions, an emanation of the self, and hence we are coerced into the conclusion that all things are but forms of the Ego itself, at once both Creator and Creation.

This non‐animism thus makes each unit of humanity all that has, in pre‐scientific minds where Absolutism page: xi and Dualism is the watchword of the intellect, been predicated as Divine. Where reason, based on positive science, comes into play, or, in other words, when man ceases to be an infant, religion or Theism disappears as a childish illusion utterly incompatible with right reason and rational ethics. All religious ideals and systems— none more than the Christian—are based on hideous immorality. For what can be more iniquitous than the doctrine of the Atonement— i.e. id est , of the vicarious sacrifice of a sinless victim for a sinful criminal? But preceding this ethical crux is the logical fiction. For how can the Parthenogenetic birth of Christ redeem him from the primeval “curse” entailed on all mankind by the mythical “disobedience” of our federal head and representative? From this “curse” virgins are no more exempt than their grandmothers, and thus, on its own data, Christianity is “hoist with its own petard.” Indeed, a replica of Adam’s abiogenetic “creation” would not serve, since earth and air partook of the “curse” entailed on our “first parents.” No God is needed since man is seen to be an Autochthon, and, as such, an Anteus, who derives all the faculties required for existence out of the telluric matrix or humus (living earth) from which he sprang.

As long as the absolute doctrine of dual existence vitiated philosophy—a dual factor, in the guise of an animating principle was, or seemed, a desideratum. But page: xii since the inductive biological theory, which defines life as the sum of the organic functions and a physiological state, was established, man can quite rest content in the satisfactory creed that he himself—each for each— is his own law, standard, criterion, and final court of appeal. Clericals of all denominations are then seen to be self‐evidently “kicking against the pricks,” when, in our fin de siècle age, they attempt to bolster up the obsolete anachronism of animism (Dualism)—a quite impossible task, as I have before shown—from the incompatibility of two such factors as matter, and what they are pleased to call “spirit,” re‐acting on each other.

It is, I repeat, a case of pure fetishism fetichism or ghostism—the same in essence that induced the ancients to formulate their Lares and Penates, Dryads, etc., and, in short, to feign a god, or goddess, for every phenomenon from Jove, launcher of the thunderbolts, to Cloacina of the sewers!

Pope, even, in his “Essay on Man,” written many years after the appearance of Newton’s “Principia,” could not rid himself of the notion that “ruling angels” were required to regulate the spheres. And, long after Pope, poets invoked their muse as a source of inspiration separate from themselves! But, in our age, all such confusion of thought is a really inexcusable blunder, which must, sooner or later, prove a Nemesis to that vicious civilisation which fosters so palpable a delusion. page: xiii Assume, as now we must do, that all objects and ideas, great and small, including the abstract terms, Time, Space, and Immortality, etc., are Brain products, that Cerebration and Thought, or Mind, are one, and the seemingly paradoxical Unity and Identity for which I plead in the title of this exordium is seen to be a categoric imperative. It really is a physiological version of Kant’s negation of Thing in Itself, from which, how ever, he recanted in all his works subsequent to the first edition of the “Critique of Pure Reason.” It was rendered perfectly certain more than sixty years ago—a full lustre before its present opponent, Mr. Gladstone, entered public life—by Wöhler, when he artificially manufactured organic— i.e. id est , “living” out of inorganic— i.e. id est , pseudo‐dead, compounds; a perfect proof that a vital Principle or Anima, in the sense of what is falsely interpreted as “Soul,” in the religious sense of the Anglo‐Saxon term for Life, is a fiction of the human imagination. An omnipotent, disposing Deity must be as much of a fetish as the Pantheon of Olympus. As is clearly seen from so many of these dispositions being failures, as lunacy, suicide, disease, premature death, and other multiform forms of Demoniac Evil. Anti‐theism, therefore, not merely Atheism, as in the eighteenth century, ought to be the charter of our present state; the Latin motto at the head of this Foreword being perfectly expugnable.

page: xiv

Devout nations and communities— i.e. id est , in which the public mind is addicted to religious exercises of Prayer, Praise, and Spiritualism (other‐worldism) generally, are always tardigrade, and even retrograde. This rule is well exemplified in the records of the Protestant Reformation. When Luther visited Rome, saturated as he was with the diabolic and other superstitions of a Thuringian forest coal‐burner, he was filled with disgust at the Atheism then prevalent amid the priesthood and cultured classes. The former openly scoffed at the Christian mysteries as cochonerie. He introduced into his creed, which so long has imposed on Northern Europe and New England, all these degrading arcana. So that, for more than two hundred years, Germany, especially, fell quite to the rear, as compared with France and England, in ethical and intellectual progress. Till the peace of Westphalia in 1648, at the close of the Thirty Years’ War, all was, in that vast region, pure chaos. Indeed, till Frederic the Great’s time, a century later, things were little better. Even to the very close of his reign that “first of German sons,” who was himself a noted Voltairean, as Schiller pathetically laments in his fine poem, “The German Muse,” cherished the opinion, which subsequent events have proved so delusive, that the Germans were “irreclaimable barbarians,” as he also held Shakespeare to be, whose dramas he thought only fit for the savages of Canada. And this though in his page: xv own lifetime Kant, Schelling, Fichte, Bürger, Lessing, Herder, Goethe, Richter, and Schiller’s “Robbers,” which last, no doubt, was especially distasteful to the great king, were already above the horizon. David Hume, it will be remembered, delivered a similar verdict upon the English “barbarians on the banks of the Thames.” He held them as already quite below the pale of Philosophy—a verdict fully corroborated by Lord Bacon in his essay on “The True Greatness of Kingdoms,” and on “The Wisdom of the Ancients.” Commerce he especially held to flourish during the disruption and decay of nations.

R. Lewins, M.D., Surgeon Lieut.‐Col. (Retired).Army and Navy Club, Pall Mall.



To J. C. and Caroline Woodhill.

  • YE who received me, when your hearts were sore,
  • With double welcome, since I came in lieu
  • Of one whose fond embrace I never knew—
  • Your child, my mother, dear for evermore—
  • Who scarce had time to greet the babe she bore,
  • But, dying in her spring, bequeathed to you,
  • Her father and her mother, guardians true,
  • One little life, to tend when hers was o’er:
  • Ye who have watched me from my infant days
  • With tenderest love and care, who treasure yet
  • Quaint sayings, sketches rude, and childish lays;
  • Accept this wreath, entwined in April hours:
  • Yours was the garden where the seed was set,
  • To you I dedicate the opening flowers.

This Dedication and the Motto on the next page were originally prefixed to Miss Naden’s first volume of poems, “Songs and Sonnets of Springtime.”

“Nicht länger wollen diesen Lieder leben Als bis ihr Klang ein fühlend Herz erfreut, Mit schönern Fantasien es umgeben, Zu höheren Gefühlen es geweiht; Zur fernen Nachwelt wollen sie nicht schweben, Sie tönten, sie verhallen in der Zeit, Des Augenblickes Lust hat sie geboren Sie fliehen fort im leichten Tanz der Horen.”


no previous