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COMUS—CONANT

man. “Superior in power of affection, more able to keep both the intellectual and the active powers in continual subordination to feeling, women are formed as the natural intermediaries between Humanity and man. The Great Being confides specially to them its moral Providence, maintaining through them the direct and constant cultivation of universal affection, in the midst of all the distractions of thought or action, which are for ever withdrawing men from its influence ... Beside the uniform influence of every woman on every man, to attach him to Humanity, such is the importance and the difficulty of this ministry that each of us should be placed under the special guidance of one of these angels, to answer for him, as it were, to the Great Being. This moral guardianship may assume. three types,—the mother, the wife and the daughter; each having several modifications, as shown in the concluding volume. Together they form the three simple modes of solidarity, or unity with contemporaries,—obedience, union and protection as well as the three degrees of continuity between ages, by uniting us with the past, the present and the future. In accordance with my theory of the brain, each corresponds with one of our three altruistic instincts—veneration, attachment and benevolence.”

How the positive method of observation and verification of real facts has landed us in this, and much else of the same kind, is extremely hard to guess.Conclusion. Seriously to examine slam an encyclopaedic system, that touches life, society and knowledge at every point, is evidently beyond the compass of such an article as this. There is in every chapter a whole group of speculative suggestions, each of which would need a long chapter to itself to elaborate or to discuss. There is at least one biological speculation of astounding audacity, that could be examined in nothing less than a treatise. Perhaps we have said enough to show that after performing a great and claims to real service to thought Comte almost sacrificed his gratitude by the invention of a system that, as such, and independently of detached suggestions, is markedly retrograde. But the world will take what is available in Comte, while forgetting that in his work which is as irrational in one way as Hegel is in another.

See also the article Positivism.

Bibiliography.—Works, Editions and Translations: Cours de philosophie positive (6 vols., Paris, 1830–1842; 2nd ed. with preface by E. Littré, Paris, 1864; 5th ed., 1893–1894; Eng. trans. Harriet Martineau, 2 vols., London, 1853; 3 vols. London and New York, 1896); Discours sur l’esprit positif (Paris, 1844; Eng. trans. with explanation E. S. Beesley, 1905); Ordre et progrés (ib. 1848); Discours sur l’ensemble de positivisme (1848, Eng. trans. J. H. Bridges, London, 1852); Système de politique positive, ou Traité de sociologie (4 vols., Paris, 1852–1854; ed. 1898; Eng. trans. with analysis and explanatory summary by Bridges, F. Harrison, E. S. Beesley and others, 1875–1879); Catéchisme positiviste (Paris, 1852; 3rd ed., 1880; Eng. trans. R. Congreve, Lond. 1858, 3rd ed., 1891; Appel aux Conservateurs (Paris, 1855 and 1898), Synthėse subjective (1856 and 1878); Essai de philos. mathématique (Paris, 1878); P. Descours and H. Gordon Jones, Fundamental Principles of Positive Philos. (trans. 1905), with biog. preface by E. S. Beesley. The Letters of Comte have been published as follows:—the letters to M. Valat and J. S. Mill, in La Critique plilosophique (1877); correspondence with Mde. de Vaux (ib., 1884); Correspondance inédite d’Aug. Comte (1903 foll.); Lettres inédites de J. S. Mill à Aug. Comte publ. avec les résponses sde Comte 1899.

Criticisms.—J. S. Mill, Auguste Comte and Positivism; J. H. Bridges’ reply to Mill, The Unity of Comte’s Life and Doctrines (1866); Herbert Spencer’s essay on the Genesis of Science and pamphlet on The Classification of the Sciences; Huxley’s “Scientific Aspects of Positivism,” in his Lay Sermons; R. Congreve, Essays Political, Science and Religious (1874); J. Fiske, Outlines of Cosmic Philosophy (1874); G. H. Lewes, History of Philosophy, vol. ii.; Edward Caird, The Social Philosophy and Religion of Comte (Glasgow, 1885); Hermann Gruber, Aug. Comte der Begründer des Positivismus. Sein Leben und seine Lehre (Freiburg, 1889) and Der Positivismus vom Tode Aug. Comtes bis auf unsere Tage, 1857–1891 (Freib. 1891); L. Lévy-Bruhl, La Philosophie d’Aug. Comte (Paris, 1900); H. D. Hutton, Comte’s Theory of Man’s Future (1877), Comte, the Man and the Founder (1891), Comte’s Life and Work (1892); W. de Roberty, Aug. Comte et Herbert Spencer (Paris, 1894); J. Watson, Comte, Mill and Spencer. An outline of Philos. (1895 and 1899); Millet, La Souveraineté d’après Aug. Comte (1905); L. de Montesquieu Fezensac, Le Système politique d’Aug. Comte (1907); G. Dumas, Psychologie de deux Messies positivistes (1905).

(J. Mo.; X.)


COMUS (from κῶμος, revel, or a company of revellers), in the later mythology of the Greeks, the god of festive mirth. In classic mythology the personification does not exist; but Comus appears in the Εἰκόνες, or Descriptions of Pictures, of Philostratus, a writer of the 3rd century A.D. as a winged youth, slumbering in a standing attitude, his legs crossed, his countenance flushed with wine, his head—which is sunk upon his breast—crowned with dewy flowers, his left hand feebly grasping a hunting spear, his right an inverted torch. Ben Jonson introduces Comus, in his masque entitled Pleasure reconciled to Virtue (1619), as the portly jovial patron of good cheer, “First father of sauce and deviser of jelly.” In the Comus, sive Phagesiposia Cimmeria; Somnium (1608, and at Oxford, 1634), a moral allegory by a Dutch author, Hendrik van der Putten, or Erycius Puteanus. the conception is more nearly akin to Milton’s, and Comus is a being whose enticements are more disguised and delicate than those of Jonson’s deity. But Milton’s Comus is a creation of his own. His story is one

“Which never yet was heard in tale or song
 From old or modern bard, in hall or bower.”

Born from the loves of Bacchus and Circe, he is “much like his father, but his mother more”—a sorcerer, like her, who gives to travellers a magic draught that changes their human face into the “brutal form of some wild beast,” and, hiding from them their own foul disfigurement, makes them forget all the pure ties of life, “to roll with pleasure in a sensual sty.”


COMYN, JOHN (d. c. 1300), Scottish baron, was a son of John Comyn (d. 1274), justiciar of Galloway, who was a nephew of the constable of Scotland, Alexander Comyn, earl of Buchan (d. 1289), and of the powerful and wealthy Walter Comyn, earl of Mentieth (d. 1258). With his uncle the earl of Buchan, the elder Comyn took a prominent part in the affairs of Scotland during the latter part of the 13th century, and he had interests and estates in England as well as in his native land. He fought for Henry III. at Northampton and at Lewes, and was afterwards imprisoned for a short time in London. The younger Comyn, who had inherited the lordship of Badenoch from his great-uncle the earl of Mentieth, was appointed one of the guardians of Scotland in 1286, and shared in the negotiations between Edward I. and the Scots in 1289 and 1290. When Margaret, the Maid of Norway, died in 1290, Comyn was one of the claimants for the Scottish throne, but he did not press his candidature, and like the other Comyns urged the claim of John de Baliol. After supporting Baliol in his rising against Edward I., Comyn submitted to the English king in 1296; he was sent to reside in England, but returned to Scotland shortly before his death.

Comyn’s son, John Comyn (d. 1306), called the “red Comyn,” is more famous. Like his father he assisted Baliol in his rising against Edward I., and he was for some time a hostage in England. Having been made guardian of Scotland after the battle of Falkirk in 1298 he led the resistance to the English king for about five years, and then early in 1304 made an honourable surrender. Comyn is chiefly known for his memorable quarrel with Robert the Bruce. The origin of the dispute is uncertain. Doubtless the two regarded each other as rivals; Comyn may have refused to join in the insurrection planned by Bruce. At all events the pair met at Dumfries in January 1306; during a heated altercation charges of treachery were made, and Comyn was stabbed to death either by Bruce or by his followers.

Another member of the Comyn family who took an active part in Scottish affairs during these troubled times is John Comyn, earl of Buchan (d. c. 1313). This earl, a son of Earl Alexander, was constable of Scotland, and was first an ally and then an enemy of Robert the Bruce.


CONACRE (a corruption of corn-acre), in Ireland, a system of letting land, mostly in small patches, and usually for the growth of potatoes as a kind of return instead of wages. It is now practically obsolete.


CONANT, THOMAS JEFFERSON (1802–1891), American Biblical scholar, was born at Brandon, Vermont, on the 13th of December 1802. Graduating at Middlebury College in 1823, he became tutor in the Columbian University (now George