[Yes, surely it will. It cannot fail of it.]
Men. This is strange. Mar. Go, get you home, you fragments! [fragments.]
[Enter a Messenger.]
Mes. Where's Caius Marcius? Mar. Here; What's the matter? Mes. The news is, Sir, the Volces are in arms. Mar. I am glad on't; then we shall have means to vent Our musty superfluity:—See, our best elders.
[The procession from the Capitol is entering with two of the new officers of the commonwealth, and the two chief men of the army, with other senators.]
First Sen. Marcius, 'tis true, that you have lately told us; The Volsces are in arms.
Mar. They have a leader, Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to't. I sin in envying his nobility: And were I anything but what I am, I would wish me only he.
Com. You have fought together.
Mar. Were half to half the world by the ears, and he Upon my party, I'd revolt, to make Only my wars with him [Hear, hear]. He is a lion. That I am proud to hunt.
First Sen. Then, WORTHY Marcius, Attend upon Cominius to these wars.
It is the relation of the spirit of military conquest, the relation of the military hero, and his government, to the true human need, which is subjected to criticism here; a criticism which is necessarily an after-thought in the natural order of the human development.
The transition 'from the casque to the cushion,' that so easy step in the heroic ages, whether it be 'an entrance by conquest,' foreign or otherwise, or whether the chieftain's own followers bring him home in triumph, and the people, whose battle he has won, conduct him to their chair of state, in either case, that transition appears, to this author's eye, worth going back, and looking into a little, in an age so advanced in civilization, as the one in which he finds himself.
For though he is, as any one who will take any pains to inquire, may easily satisfy himself,—the master in chief of the new science of nature,—and the deepest in its secrets of any, his views on that subject appear to be somewhat broader, his aspirations altogether of another kind, from those, to which his school have since limited themselves. He does not content himself with pinning butterflies and hunting down beetles; his scientific curiosity is not satisfied with classifying ferns and lichens, and ascertaining the proper historical position of pudding-stone and sand-stone, and in settling the difference between them and their neighbours. Nature is always, in all her varieties wonderful, and all 'her infinite book of secrecy,' that book which all the world had overlooked till he came, was to his eye, from the first, a book of spells, of magic lore, a Prospero book of enchantments. He would get the key to her cipher, he would find the lost alphabet of her unknown tongue; there is no page of her composing in which he would scorn to seek it—none which he would scorn to read with it: but then he has, notwithstanding, some choice in his studies. He is of the opinion that some subjects are nobler than others, and that those which concern specially the human kind, have a special claim to their regard, and the secret of those combinations which result in the varieties of shell-fish, and other similar orders of being, do not exclusively, or chiefly, engage his attention.
There is another natural curiosity, which strikes the eye of the founder of the Science of Nature, as quite the most curious and wonderful thing going, so far, at least, as his observation has extended, though he is willing to make, as he takes pains to state, philosophical allowance for the partiality of species in determining this judgment, and is perfectly willing to concede, that if any particular species of shell-fish, for instance, were to undertake a science of things in general, that particular species would, no doubt, occupy the principal place in that system; especially if arts, tending to the improvement and elevation of it, were necessarily based on this larger specific knowledge.
Men, and their proceedings and organisms, men, and their habits and modes of combining, did appear to the eye of this scientific observer quite as well worth observing and noting, also, as bees and beavers, for instance, and their societies; and, accordingly, he made some observations himself, and notes, too, in this particular department of his general science. For, as he tells us elsewhere, he did not wish to map out the large fields of the science of observation in general, and exhibit to the world, in bare description, the method of it, without leaving some specimens of his own, of what might be done with it, in proper hands, under favourable circumstances, selecting for his experiments the principal and noblest subjects—those of the most immediate human concern. And he has not only very carefully laboured a few of these; but he has taken extraordinary pains to preserve them to us in their proper scientific form, with just as little of the ligature of the time on them as it was possible to leave.
It is no kind of beetle or butterfly, then, that this philosopher comes down upon here from the heights of his universal science—his science of the nature of things in general, but that great Spenserian monstrosity,—that diseased product of nature, which individual human nature, in spite of its natural pettiness and helplessness, under certain favourable conditions of absorption and accretion, may be made to yield. It is that dragon of lawless power which was overspreading, in his time, all the common human affairs, and infolding in its gaudy, baleful wings all the life of men,—it is that which takes from the first the speculative eye of this new speculator,—this founder of the science of things, and not of words instead of them. Here is a man of science, a born naturalist, who understands that this phenomenon lies in his department, and takes it to be his business, among other things, to examine it.
It was, indeed, a formidable phenomenon, as it presented itself to his apprehension; and his own words are always the best, when one knows how to read them—
'He sits in state, like a thing made for Alexander.' 'When he walks, he moves like an engine, and the ground shrinks before his treading.' 'He talks like a knell, his hum is a battery; what he bids be done, is finished at his bidding. He wants nothing of a god but eternity, and a heaven to throne in.' 'Yes,' is the answer; 'yes, mercy, if you paint him truly.' 'I paint him in character.'
'Is it possible that so short a time can alter the conditions of a man?' inquires the speculator upon this phenomenon, and then comes the reply—'There's a differency between a grub and a butterfly, yet your butterfly was a grub. This Marcius is grown from MAN TO DRAGON; he has wings, he is more than a creeping thing.'
This is Coriolanus at the head of his army; but in Julius Caesar, it is nature in the wildness of the tempest—it is a night of unnatural horrors, that is brought in by the Poet to illustrate the enormity of the evil he deals with, and its unnatural character—'to serve as instrument of fear and warning unto some MONSTROUS STATE.'
'Now could I, Casca, Name to thee a man most like this dreadful night; That thunders, lightens, opens graves, and roars As doth the lion in the Capitol: A man no mightier than thyself, or me, In personal action, yet prodigious grown, And fearful, as these strange eruptions are.
Casca. Tis Caesar that you mean: Is it not, Cassius?
[I paint him in character.]
Cassius. Let it be—WHO IT IS: For Romans now Have thewes and limbs like to their ancestors.'
'I think he'll be to Rome As is the osprey to the fish, who takes it By sovereignty of nature.'
FLOWER OF WARRIORS
The poet finds, indeed, this monstrosity full-blown in his time. He finds it 'in the civil streets,' 'talking plain cannon', 'humming batteries' in the most unmistakeable manner, with no particular account of its origin to give, without, indeed, appearing to recollect exactly how it came there, retaining only a general impression, that a descent from the celestial regions had, in some way, been effected during some undated period of human history, under circumstances which the memory of man was not expected to be able to recall in detail, and a certificate to that effect, divinely subscribed, was understood to be included among its properties, though it does not appear to have been, on the face of it, so absolutely conclusive as to render a little logical demonstration, on the part of royalty itself, superfluous.
It was not very far from this time, that a very able and loyal servant of the crown undertook, openly, to assist the royal memory on this delicate point; and, though the details of that historical representation, and the manner of it, are, of course, quite different from those of the Play, it will be found, upon careful examination, not so dissimilar in purport as the exterior would have seemed to imply. The philosopher does not feel called upon, in either case, to begin by contradicting flatly, in so many words, the theory which he finds the received one on that point. Even the poet, with all his freedom, is compelled to go to work after another fashion.
'And thus do we, of wisdom, and of reach, With windlasses, and with ASSAYS of BIAS, By indirections find directions out.'
He has his own way of creating an historical retrospect. No one need know that it is a retrospect; no one will know it, perhaps, who has not taken the author's clue elsewhere. The crisis is already reached when the play begins. The collision between the civil want and the military government is at its height. It is a revolution on which the curtain rises. It is a city street filled with dark, angry swarms of men, who have come forth to seek out this government, in the person of its chief, who stop only to conduct their summary trial of it, and then hurry on to execute their verdict.
But the poet arrests this revolution. Before we proceed any further, 'Hear me speak,' he cries, through the lips of the plebeian leader. The man of science demands a hearing, before this movement proceed any further. He has a longer story to tell than that with which Menenius Agrippa appeases his Romans. There is a cry of war in the streets. The obscure background of that portentous scene opens, and the long vista of the heroic ages, with all its pomp and stormy splendours, scene upon scene, grows luminous behind it. The foreground is the same. The arrested mutineers stand there still, with the frown knit in their angry brows, with the weapons of their civil warfare in their hands; there is no stage direction for a change of costume, and none perceives that they have grown older as they stand, and that the shadow of the elder time is on them. But the manager of this stage is one who knows that the elder time of history is the childhood of his kind.
There is a cry of war in that ancient street. The enemy of the infant state is in arms. The people rush forth to conflict with the leader of armies at their head. But this time, for the first time in the history of literature, the philosopher goes with him. The philosopher, hitherto, has been otherwise occupied. He has been too busy with his fierce war of words; he has had too much to do with his abstract generals, his logical majors and minors, to get them in squadrons and right forms of war, to have any eye for such vulgar solidarities. 'All men are mortal. Peter and John are men. Therefore Peter and John are mortal,' he concludes; but that is his nearest and most vivacious approach to historical particulars, and his cell is broad enough to contain all that he needs for his processes and ends. He finds enough and to spare, ready prepared to his hands, in the casual, rude, unscientific observations and spontaneous distinctions of the vulgar. His generalizations are obtained from their hasty abstractions. It has never occurred to him, till now, that he must begin with criticising these terms; that he must begin by making a new and scientific terminology, which shall correspond to terms in nature, and not be air-lines merely;—that he must take pains to collect them himself, from severest scrutiny of particulars, before ever he can arrive at 'the notions of nature,' the universal notions, which differ from the spontaneous specific notions of men, and their chimeras; before ever he can put man into his true relations with nature, before ever he can teach him to speak the word which she responds to,—the words of her dictionary—the word which is power.
This is, in fact, the first time that the philosopher has undertaken to go abroad. It is the first time he has ever been in the army. Softly, invisibly, he goes. There is nothing to show that he is there. As modestly, as unnoticed, as the Times 'own correspondent,' amid all the clang and tumult, the pomp and circumstance of glorious war, he goes. But he is there notwithstanding. There is no breath of scholasticism, no perfume of the cell, that the most vigorous and robust can perceive, in his battle. The scene unwinds with all its fierce reality, undimmed by the pale cast of thought: the shout is as wild, the din as fearful, the martial fury rises, as if the old heroic poet had it still in hand.
But it is not the poet's voice that you hear, bursting forth into those rhythmical ecstasies of heroic passion,—unless that faint tone of exaggeration,—that slight prolonging of it, be his. That mad joy in human blood, that wolfish glare, that lights the hero's eye, gets no reflection in his: those fiendish boasts are not from his lips. Through all the frenzy of that demoniacal scene, he is still himself, with all his human sense about him. Through all the crowded incidents of that day of blood—into which he condenses, with dramatic license, the siege and assault of the city, the conquest and plunder of it, and the conflict in the open field,—he is keeping watch on his hero. He is eyeing him, and sketching him, as critically as if he were indeed an entomological or botanical specimen. He is making a specimen of him, for scientific purposes,—not 'a preservation,'—he does not think much of dried specimens in science. He proposes to dismiss the logical Peter and John, and the logical man himself, that abstract notion which the metaphysicians have been at loggerheads about so long. It is the true heroism,—it is the sovereign flower which he is in search of. This specimen that he is taking here will, indeed, go by the board. He is taking him on his negative table. But for that purpose,—in order to get him on his 'table of rejections,' it is necessary to take him alive. The question is of government, of supreme power, and universal suffrage, of the abnegation of reason, of the annihilation of judgment, in behalf of a superiority which has been understood, heretofore, to admit of no question. The question is of awe and reverence, and worship, and submission. The Poet has to put his sacrilegious hand through the dust that lies on antique time, through the sanctity of prescription and time-honoured usage, through 'mountainous error' 'too highly heaped for truth to overpeer,' in order to make this point in his scientific table. And he wishes to blazon it a little. He will pin up this old exploded hero—this legacy of barbaric ages, to the ages of human advancement—in all his actualities, in all the heroic splendours of his original, without 'diminishing one dowle that's in his plume.'
But this retrospect has not yet reached its limit. It is not enough to go back, in the unravelling of this business, to the full-grown hero on the field of victory. 'For that which, in speculative philosophy, corresponds to the cause in practical philosophy becomes the rule;' and it is the Cure of the Common Weal, which the poet is proposing, and having determined to proceed specially against Caius Marcius, or against him first, he undertakes now to 'delve him to the root.' We are already on the battle field; but before ever a stroke is struck there, before he will attempt to show us the instinct of the warrior in his game,—'he is a lion that I am proud to hunt,'—when all is ready and just as the hunt is going to begin, he steals softly back to Rome; he unlocks the hero's private dwelling, he lays open to us the secrets of that domestic hearth, the secrets of that nursery in which his hero had had his training; he shows us the breasts from which he drew that martial fire; he produces the woman alive who sent him to that field. [Act 1, Scene 3. An apartment in the martial chieftain's house; two women, 'on two low stools, sewing.' 'There is where your throne begins, whatever it be.'] In that exquisite relief which the natural graces of youth and womanhood provide for it, in the young, gentle, feminine wife, desolate in her husband's absence, starting at the rumour of news from the camp, and driving back from her appalled conception, the images which her mother-in-law's fearful speech suggests to her,—in that so beautiful relief, comes out the picture of the Roman matron, the woman in whom the martial instincts have been educated and the gentler ones repressed, by the common sentiments of her age and nation, the woman in whom the common standard of virtue, the conventional virtue of her time, has annihilated the wife and the mother.
Virgilia. Had he died in the business, madam, what then?
Volumnia. Then his good report should have been my son, I therein would have found issue.
It is the multiplied force of a common instinct in the nation, it is the pride of conquest in a whole people, erected into the place of virtue and usurping all its sanctity, which has entered this woman's nature and reformed its yielding principles. It is the Martial Spirit that has subdued her, for she is virtuous and religious. It is her people's god to whom she has borne her son, and in his temple she has reared him.
But the poet is not satisfied with all this. It is not enough to introduce us to the hero's mother and permit us to listen to her confidential account of his birth and training. He will produce the little Coriolanus himself—Coriolanus in germ—he will show us the rudiments of those instincts, which his unscientific education has stimulated into such monstrous 'o'ergrowth' (but not enlightened), so that the hero on the battle-field who is winning there the oaken crown, which he will transmit if he can to his posterity, is only, after all, a boy overgrown,—a boy with his boyishness unnaturally prolonged by his culture,—the impersonation of the childishness of a childish time,—the crowned impersonation of the instinct which is SOVEREIGN in an age of instinct. He shows us the drum and the sword in the nursery, and the boy who would rather look at the military parade than his schoolmaster;—he shows us the little viperous egg of a hero torturing and tearing the butterfly, with his 'confirmed countenance, in one of his father's moods.'
Surely we have reached 'the grub' at last, 'the creeping thing' that will have one day imperial armies in its wings. And we return from this little excursion to the field again, in time for the battle; and when we see the tiger in the man let loose there, and the boy's father comes out in one of his own moods, that we may note it the better; we begin to observe where we are in the human history, and what age of the Advancement of Learning it is that this poet is driving at so stedfastly, and trying to get dated; and whether it is indeed one from which the advancing ages of Learning can accept the bourne of the human wisdom, the limit of that advance.
'And to speak truly [and that after all is the best way of speaking] Antiquitas seculi juventus mundi.'
'Those times are the ancient times, when the world is ancient and not those we account ancient by a computation backward from ourselves.'—Advancement of Learning. But that was put down in a book in which we have only general statements, very wise indeed, and both new and true, most exactly true, but not ready for practice, as the author stops to tell us, and it is practice he is aiming at. That is from a book in which we have only 'the husks and shells of sciences, all the kernel being forced out,' as the author informs us, 'by the torture and press of the method.' But it was a method which saved them, notwithstanding. This is the book that contains the 'nuts,' and this is the kernel that goes in that particular shell or a corner of it, 'Antiquitas seculi juventus mundi.'
There, on the spot, he shows us the process by which a king,—an historic king,—is made. He detects and brings out and blazons, the moment in which the inequality of fortune begins, in the division of the spoils of victory. His hero is not, as he takes pains to tell us, covetous,—unless it be a sin to covet honour, if it be, he is the most offending soul alive;—it is because he is not mercenary, that his soldiers will enrich him. The poet shows us where the throne begins, and the machinery of that engine which the earth shrinks from when it moves. On his stage, it is the moment in which, the soldiers raise their victorious leader from his feet, and carry him in triumph above them. We are there at the ceremony, for this is selected, illuminated history; this, too, is what he calls 'visible history,' but amid all those martial acclamations and plaudits, the philosopher contrives to get in a word.
'He that has effected his good will, has o'ertaken my act.'
From the field he tracks his hero to the chair of state. First we have the news of the victory in the city, and its effect:—
'I'll report it Where senators shall mingle tears with smiles; Where great patricians shall attend, and shrug; I' the end admire; where ladies shall be frighted, And, gladly quaked, hear more; where the dull tribunes, That, with the fusty plebeians, hate thine honours, Shall say against their hearts, We thank the gods Our Rome hath such a soldier.'
Then we have the hero's return—the conqueror's reception; first in the city whose battle he has won, and afterwards his reception in the city he has conquered. Here is the latter:—
'Your native town you entered like a post, And had no welcomes home; but he returns, Splitting the air with noises. And patient fools, Whose children he hath slain, their base throats tear WITH GIVING HIM GLORY.'
'A goodly city is this Antium! City, 'Tis I that made thy widows; many an heir Of these fair edifices, 'fore my wars Have I heard groan and droop. Then know me not, Lest that thy wives with spits, and boys with stones, In puny battle slay me.' [—know me not—lest—' 'Let us kill him, and we will have corn, at our own price.']
But the Poet does not forget that it is the proof of the military virtue, as well as the history of the military power, that he has undertaken; 'the touch of its nobility,' as he himself words it. He is trying it by his own exact scientific standard; he is putting the test to it which the new philosophy, which is the philosophy of nature, authorises.
For, in truth, this philosopher, this civilian, is a little jealous of this simple virtue of valour, which he finds in his time, as in the barbaric ages, still in such esteem, as 'the chiefest virtue, and that which most dignifies the haver.' He is of opinion, that there may be some other profession, beside that of the sword, worth an honest man's attention; that, if the world were more enlightened, there would be another kind of glory, that would make 'the garland of war' shrivel. He thinks that Jupiter, and not Mars, should reign supreme: that there is another kind of distinction and leadership, better worth the public esteem, better deserving the popular gratitude and reverence.
And when he has once taken an analysis of this kind in hand, he is not going to permit any scruples of delicacy to impair the operation. He will invade that graceful modesty in the hero, who shrinks from hearing his exploits narrated. He will analyse that blush, and show us chemically what its hue is made of. He will bring out those retiring honours from the haze and mist which the vague, unanalytic, popular notions, have gathered about them. Tucked up in scarlet, braided with gold, under its forest of feathers, through all its pomp and blazonry, through all its drums; and trumpets, and clarions, undaunted by the popular cry, undaunted by that so potent word of 'patriotism' which guards it from invasion, he will search it out.
For this purpose he will go a little nearer to it than is the heroic poet's wont. When the city is wild with the news of this great victory, and the streets are swarming at the tidings of the hero's approach, he will take his stand with the family party, and beckon us to a place where we can listen to what is going on there, though the heroics and the blank verse must halt for it.
The glee and fluster might appear to a cool spectator a little undignified; but then we are understood to be, like Menenius, old friends of the family, and too much carried away with the excitement of the moment to be very critical.
Volumnia. Honourable Menenius, my boy, Marcius, approaches. For the love of Juno, let's go.
Men. Ha! Marcius coming home!
Vol. Ay, worthy Menenius, and with most prosperous approbation.
Men. Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee. Hoo! Marcius coming home?
Two Ladies. Nay, 't is true.
Vol. Look! Here's a letter from him; the state hath another, his wife another, and I think there's one at home for you.
Men. I will make my very house reel to night:—A letter for me?
The Wife. Yes, certainly, there a letter for you; I saw it.
Men. A letter for me! It gives me an estate of seven years' health; in which time I will make a lip at the physician ... Is he not wounded? He was wont to come home wounded.
The Wife. Oh, no, no, no!
The Mother. Oh, he is wounded. I thank the gods for 't.
Men. So do I, too, if it be not too much:—Brings a victory in his pocket: The wounds become him.
Vol. On's brow, Menenius: he comes the third time home with the oaken garland.
Men.... Is the senate possessed of this?
Vol. Good ladies, let's go! Yes, yes, yes: the senate has letters from the general, wherein he gives my son the whole name of the war.
Valeria. In truth, there's wondrous things spoke of him.
Men. Wondrous, ay, I warrant you...
Vir. The gods grant them true!
Vol. True? Pow wow!
Men. True? I'll be sworn they are true. Where's he wounded? [To the Tribunes, who come forward.] Marcius is coming home: he has—more cause to be—PROUD.—Where is he wounded?
Vol. I' the shoulder, and i' the left arm: There will be large cicatrices to shew the people, when he shall stand FOR HIS PLACE. He received in the repulse of Tarquin seven hurts i' the body.
Men. One in the neck, and two in the thigh,—there's nine that I know.
Vol. He had, before this last expedition, twenty-five wounds upon him.
Men. Now it's twenty-seven: every gash was an enemy's grave.
[Of course there is no satire intended here at all. This is a Poet who does not know what he is about.]
But now we come to the blank verse again; for at this moment the shout that announces the hero's entrance is heard; and, mingling with it, the martial tones of victory.
shout and flourish. Hark! the trumpets!
Vol. These are the ushers of Marcius: before him He carries noise; behind him he leaves tears. Death, that dark spirit, in's nervy arm doth lie; Which being advanced, declines, and then men die.
Then comes the imposing military pageant. A sennet. Trumpets sound, and enter the hero, 'crowned' with his oaken garland, sustained by the generals on either hand, with the victorious soldiers, and a herald proclaiming before him his victory.
Herald. Know, Rome, that all alone Marcius did fight Within Corioli's gates: where he hath won With fame, a name to Caius Marcius; these In honour follows Coriolanus: Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!
But while Rome is listening to this great story, and the people are shouting his name, the demi-god catches sight of his mother and of his wife; and full of private duty and affection, he forgets his state, his garland stoops, the conqueror is on his knee, in filial submission. The woman had said truly, 'my boy Marcius is coming home.' And when he greets the weeping Virgilia, who cannot speak but with her tears, these are the words with which he measures that private joy—
Would'st thou have laughed, had I come coffin'd home, That weep'st to see me triumph? Ah, my dear, Such eyes the widows in Corioli wear, And mothers that lack sons.
No; these are the Poet's words, rather—'such eyes.'
Such eyes. It was the Poet who could look through the barriers—those hitherto impervious barriers of an enemy's town, and see in it, at that moment, eyes as beautiful—eyes that had been 'dove's eyes,' too, to those who had loved them, wet with other tears,—mothers that loved their sons, and 'lacked them'; it was the Poet to whose human sense those hard hostile walls dissolved and cleared away, till he could see the Volscian wives clasping their loves, as they 'came coffined home'; it was the Poet who dared to stain the joy and triumph of that fond meeting, the glory and pride of that triumphal entry, with those human thoughts; it was he who heard above the roll of the drum, and the swell of the clarions and trumpets, and the shout of the rejoicing multitude above the herald's voice—the groans of mortal anguish in the field, the cries of human sorrow in the city, the shrieks of mothers that lacked sons, the greetings of wives whose loves 'came coffined home.' And he does not mind aggravating the intense selfishness, and narrowness, and stolidity of these private passions and affections of the individual to a truly unnatural and diabolical intensity, by charging on poor Volumnia and Marcius his own reminiscences; as if they could have dared to heighten their joy at that moment by counting its cost—as if they could have looked in the face—as if they could have comprehended, in its actual dimensions, the theme of their vulgar, narrow, unlearned exultation. But this is a trick this author is much given to, we shall find, when we come to study him carefully. He is not scrupulous on such points. He has a tolerable sense of the fitness of things, too. His dramatic conscience is as nice as another man's; but he is always ready to sin against it, when he sees reason. He is much like his own Mr. Slender in one respect, 'he will do anything in reason'; and his theory of the Chief End of Man appears to differ essentially from the one which our modern Doctors of 'Art' propound incidentally in their criticisms. It is the mother who cries, when she catches the swell of the trumpets that announce her son's approach—'These are the ushers of Marcius. Before him he carries noise.' It is the Poet who adds, sotto voce, 'behind him he leaves TEARS.'
'You are three,' says Menenius, after some further prolongation of these private demonstrations, addressing himself to the three victorious generals—
You are three, That Rome should dote on: yet, by the faith of men, We have some old crab-trees here at home, that will not Be grafted to your relish. Yet WELCOME, WARRIORS: We call a nettle but a nettle; and The faults of fools, but folly.
But the herald is driving on the crowd; and considering how very public the occasion is, and how very, very private and personal all this chat is, it does appear to have stopped the way long enough. Thus hurried, the hero gives hastily a hand 'to HIS WIFE and MOTHER' [stage direction], but stops to say a word or two more, which has the merit of being at least to the POET'S purpose, though the common-weal may appear to be lost sight of in the HERO'S a little; and that delicacy and reserve of manner, that modesty of nature, which is the characteristic of this Poet's art, serves here, as elsewhere, to disguise the internal continuities of the poetic design. The careless eye will not track it in these finer touches. 'Where some stretched-mouth rascal' would have roared you out his prescribed moral, 'outscolding Termagant' with it, the Poet, who is the poet of truth, and who would have such fellows 'whipped' out of the sacred places of Art, with a large or small cord, as the case may be, is content to bring in his 'delicate burdens,' or to keep sight of them, at least, with some such reference to them as this—
'Ere in our own house I do shade my head, The good patricians must be visited; From whom I have received not only greetings But with them change of honours'—[change.]
That is his visit to the state-house which he is speaking of. It is the Capitol which is put down in his plan of the city on his way to his own house. 'The state has a letter from him, and his wife another; and I think there is one for you, too.'
Volumnia understands that delicate intimation as to the change of honours, and in return, takes occasion to express to him, on the spot, her views about the consulship, and the use to which the new cicatrices are to be converted.
Coriolanus replies to this in words that admit, as this Poet's words often do, of a double construction; for the Poet is, indeed, lurking under all this. He is always present, and he often slips in a word for himself, when his characters are busy, and thinking of their own parts only. He is very apt to make use of occasions for emphasis, to put in one word for his speakers, and two for himself. It is irregular, but he does not stand much upon precedents; it was the only way he had of writing his life then—
'Know, good mother, I had rather be their servant in my way, Than sway with them in theirs. Cominius. On, to THE CAPITOL.' [Flourish Cornets. Exeunt in state, as before. The Tribunes remain.]
And when the great pageant has moved on 'in state, as before'—when the shouts of the people, and the triumphal swell and din, have died away, this is the manner in which our two tribunes look at each other. They know their voices would not make so much as a ripple, at that moment, in the tide of that great sea of popular ignorance, which it is their business to sway,—the tide which is setting all one way then, in one of its monstrous swells, and bearing every living thing with it,—the tide which is taking the military hero 'On to THE CAPITOL.' But though they cannot then oppose it, they can note it. And it is thus that they register that popular confirmation at home, of the soldier's vote on the field.
It is a picture of the hero's return, good for all ages in its living outline, composed in that 'charactery' which lays the past and future open. It is a picture good for the Roman hero's entry; 'and were now the general of our gracious empress, as in good time he may, from Ireland coming, bringing rebellion broached on his sword'—would it, or would it not, suit him?
It is a picture of the hero's return, good for all ages in its main feature, for all the ages, at least of a brutish popular ignorance, of a merely instinctive human growth and formation; but it is a picture taken from the life,—caught,—detained with the secret of that palette, whose secret none has yet found, and the detail is all, not Roman, but, Elizabethan. Those 'variable complexions,' that one sees, 'smothering the stalls, bulks, windows, filling the leads,' and roofs, even to the 'ridges,' all agreeing in one expression, are Elizabethan. It is an Elizabethan crowd that we have got into, in some way, and it is worth noting if it were only for that. There goes 'the seld shown flamen, puffing his way to win a vulgar station,' here is a 'veiled dame' who lets us see that 'war of white and damask in her nicely gawded cheeks,' a moment;—look at that 'kitchen malkin,' peering over the wall there with 'her richest lockram' 'pinned on her reechy neck,' eyeing the hero as he passes; and look at this poor baby here, this Elizabethan baby, saved, conserved alive, crying himself 'into a rapture' while his 'prattling nurse' has ears and eyes for the hero only, as 'she chats him.' Look at them all, for every creature you see here, from 'the seld shown flamen' to the 'kitchen malkin,' belongs soul and body to 'our gracious Empress,' and Essex and Raleigh are still winning their garlands of the war,—that is when the scene is taken, but not when it was put in its place and framed in this composition; for their game was up ere then. England preferred old heroes and their claims to new ones. 'I fear there will a worse come in his place,' was the cautious instinct.
Bru. All tongues speak of him, and the bleared sights Are spectacled to see him: Your prattling nurse Into a rapture lets her baby cry, While she chats him: the kitchin malkin pins Her richest lockram 'bout her reechy neck. Clambering the walls to eye him: stalls, bulks, windows, Are smother'd up, leads fill'd, and ridges horsed With variable complexions; all agreeing In earnestness to see him: seld-shown flamens Do press among the popular throng, and puff To win a vulgar station: our veil'd dames Commit the war of white and damask, in Their nicely-gawded cheeks to the wanton spoil Of Phoebus' burning kisses: such a pother, As if that whatsoever god, who leads him, Were slyly crept into his human powers, And gave him graceful posture.
Sic. On the sudden, I warrant him consul.
Bru. Then our office may, During his power, go sleep.
Sic. He cannot temperately transport his honours .... but will Lose that he hath won.
Cru. In that there's comfort.
Sic. Doubt not, the commoners, for whom we stand,—
[While they resolve upon the measures to be taken, which we shall note elsewhere, a messenger enters.]
Bru. What's the matter?
Mess. You are sent for to the Capitol. 'Tis thought, That Marcius shall be consul: I have seen The dumb men throng to see him, and the blind To hear him speak: The matrons flung their gloves, Ladies and maids the scarfs and handkerchiefs, Upon him as he passed: the nobles bended, As to Jove's statue; and the commons made A shower, and thunder, with their caps, and shouts: I never saw the like.
Bru. Lets to the Capitol; And carry with us ears and eyes for THE TIME, But hearts for the EVENT.
[And let us to the Capitol also, and hear the civic claim of the oaken garland, the military claim to dispose of the common-weal, as set forth by one who is himself a general 'commander-in-chief' of Rome's armies, and see whether or no the Poet's own doubtful cheer on the battle-field has any echo in this place.]
Com. It is held, That valour is the chiefest virtue, and Most dignifies the haver: IF IT BE, The man I speak of cannot in the world Be singly counterpois'd.
[If it be? And he goes on to tell a story which fits, in all its points, a great hero, a true chieftain, brave as heroes of old romance, who lived when this was written, concluding thus—]
Com. He stopped the fliers; And, by his rare example, made the coward Turn terror into sport: as waves before A vessel under sail, SO MEN OBEY'D, And fell below his stem: his sword, (death's stamp.) Where it did mark, it took; from face to foot He was a thing of blood, whose every motion Was timed with dying cries: alone he enter'd The mortal gate o'the city, which he painted With shunless destiny, aidless came off, And with a sudden re-enforcement struck Corioli, like a planet: now, ALL'S HIS: When by and by the din of war 'gan pierce His ready sense: then straight his doubled spirit Re-quicken'd what in flesh was fatigate, And to the battle came he; where he did Run reeking o'er the lives of men, as if 'Twere a perpetual spoil: and till we call'd Both field and city ours, he never stood To ease his breast with panting.
Men. WORTHY MAN!
First Sen. He cannot but with measure fit the honours Which we devise him.
[One more quality, however, his pleader insists on, as additional proof of this 'fitness' for though it is a negative one, its opposite had not been reckoned among the kingly virtues, and the poet takes some pains to bring that opposite quality into relief, throughout, by this negative.]
Com. Our spoils he kicked at; And look'd upon things precious, as they were The common muck o' the world.
Men. HE'S RIGHT NOBLE; Let him be call'd for.
First Sen. Call for Coriolanus.
Off. He doth appear.
At the opening of this scene, two officers appeared on the stage, 'laying cushions,' for this is one of those specimens of the new method of investigation applied to the noblest subjects, 'which represents, as it were, to the eye, the whole order of the invention,' and into the Capitol stalks now the casque, for this is that 'step from the casque to the cushion' which the Poet is considering in the abstract; but it does not suit his purpose to treat of it in these abstract terms merely, because 'reason cannot be so sensible.' This, too, is one of those grand historic moments which this new, select, prepared history must represent to the eye in all its momentous historic splendour, for this is the kind of popular instruction which reproduces the past, which represents the historic event, not in perspective, but as present. And this is the 'business,' and this is the play in which we are told 'action is eloquence, and the eyes of the ignorant more learned than the ears.'
The seats of state are prepared for him. 'Call Coriolanus,' is the senate's word. The conqueror's step is heard. 'He does appear.'
Men. The senate, Coriolanus, are well pleased To make thee consul.
Cor. I do owe them still My life, and services.
Men. IT THEN REMAINS, THAT YOU DO SPEAK TO THE PEOPLE.
Cor. I do beseech you, Let me overleap that custom.
Sic. Sir, the people Must have their voices; neither will they bate One jot of their ceremony.
Men. Put them not to't:—[his friendly adviser says.] Pray you, go fit you to the custom; and Take to you, as your predecessors have, Your honour, with your form.
Cor. It is a part That I shall blush in acting, and might well Be taken from the people.
Bru. Mark you that!
Cor. To brag unto them,—Thus I did, and thus;— Show them the unaching scars which I should hide, As if I had received them for the hire Of their breath only.
THE POPULAR ELECTION.
'The greater part carries it. If he would but incline to the people, There never was a worthier man.'
And yet, after all, that is what he wants for them, and must have or he is nothing; for as the Poet tells us elsewhere, 'our monarchs and our outstretched heroes are but the beggar's shadows.' The difficulty is, that he wishes to take his 'hire' in some more quiet way, without being rudely reminded of the nature of the transaction.
But the Poet's toils are about him. The man of science has caught the hero, the king in germ; the dragon wings are not yet spread. He wishes to exhibit the embryo monarch in this particular stage of his development, and the scientific process proceeds with as little regard to the victim's wishes, as if he were indeed that humble product of nature to which the Poet likens him. 'There's a differency between a grub and a butterfly; yet your butterfly was a grub.' Just on that step between 'the casque and the cushion,' the philosopher arrests him.
For this history denotes, as we have seen, a foregone conclusion. The scholar has privately anatomized in his study the dragon's wings, and this theatrical synthesis is designed to be an instructive one. He wishes to show, in a palpable form, what is and what is not, essential to the mechanism of that greatness which, though it presents itself to the eye in the contemptible physique, and moral infirmity and pettiness of the human individual, is yet clothed with powers so monstrous, so real, so terrific, that all men are afflicted with them;—this thing in which 'the conditions of a man are so altered,' this thing which 'has grown from man to dragon, which is more than a creeping thing.' He will show that after all it is nothing in the world but the popular power itself, the power of the people instinctively, unscientifically and unartistically exercised.
The Poet has analysed that so potent name by which men call it, and he will show upon his stage, by that same method which his followers have made familiar to us, in other departments of investigation, the elements of its power. He will let us see how it was those despised 'mechanics,' those 'poor citizens,' with their strong arms and voices, who were throwing themselves,—in their enthusiasm,—en-masse into that engine, and only asking to be welded in it; that would have made of this citizen a thing so terrific. He will show how, after all, it was the despised commons who were making of that citizen a king, of that soldier a monarch,—who were changing with the alchemy of the 'shower and thunder they made with their caps and voices,' his oak leaves and acorns, into gold and jewels.
He will show it on the platform of a state, where that vote is formally and constitutionally given, and not in a state where it is only a virtual and tacit one. He will show it in detail. He will cause the multitude to be represented, and pass by twos and threes across his stage, and compel the haughty chief, the would be ruler, to beg of them, individually, their suffrages, and show them his claim,—such as it is, the 'unaching scars that he should hide.'
It is to this Poet's purpose to exhibit that despised element in the state, which the popular submission creates, that unnoticed element of the common suffrage which looks so smooth on its surface, which seems to the haughty chief so little worth his notice, when it goes his way and bears him on its crest. But the experimenter will undertake to show what it is by ruffling it, by instigating this chief to put himself in the madness of his private affections, in the frenzy of his pride, into open opposition with it. He will show us what it is by playing with it. He will wake it from its unvisited depths, and bid his hero strive with it.
He will show what that popular consent, or the consent of 'the commons' amounts to, in the king-making process, by omitting it or by withdrawing it, before it is too late to withdraw it;—according to the now well-known rules of that new art of scientific investigation, which was then getting worked out and cleared, from this author's own methods of investigation. For it was because this faculty was in him, so unlike what it was in others, that he was able to write that science of it, by which other men, stepping into his armour, have been able to achieve so much.
He will show how those dragon teeth and claws, that were just getting the steel into them, which would have armed that single will against the whole, and its weal, crumble for the lack of it; he will show us the new-fledged wings, with all their fresh gauds, collapsing and dissolving with that popular withdrawal. He will continue the process, till there is nothing left of all that gorgeous state pageant, which came in with the flourish of trumpets and the voice of the herald long and loud, and the echoing thunder of the commons, but a poor grub of a man, in his native conditions, a private citizen, denied even the common privilege of citizenship,—with only his wife and his mother and a friend or two, to cling to him,—turned out of the city gates, to seek his fortune.
But that is the moment in which the Poet ventures to bring out a little more fully, in the form of positive statement, that latent affirmation, that definition of the true nobility which underlies all the play and glistens through it in many a fine, but hitherto, unnoticed point; that affirmation which all these negatives conclude in, that latent idea of the true personal greatness and its essential relation to the common-weal and the state, which is the predominant idea of the play, which shapes all the criticism and points all the satire of it. It is there that the true hero speaks out for a moment from the lips of that old military heroism, of a greatness which does not cease when the wings of state drop off from it, of an honour that takes no stain though all the human voices join to sully it,—the dignity that rises and soars and gains the point of immutability, when all the world would have it under foot. But in that nobility men need training,—scientific training. The instinctive, unartistic human growth, or the empirical unscientific arts of culture, give but a vulgar counterfeit of it, or at best a poor, sickly, distorted, convulsive, unsatisfactory type of it, for 'being gentle, wounded,'—(and it is gentility and nobility and the true aristocracy that we speak of here,)—'craves a NOBLE CUNNING;' so the old military chieftain tells us. It is a cunning which his author does not put him upon practising personally. Practically he represents another school of heroes. It is the word of that higher heroism in which he was himself wanting, it is the criticism on his own part, it is the affirmation which all this grand historic negative is always pointing to, which the author borrows his lips to utter.
The result in this case, the overthrow of the military hero on his way to the chair of state, is occasioned by the premature arrogance to which his passionate nature impels him. For his fiery disposition refuses to obey the decision of his will, and overleaps in its passion, all the barriers of that policy which his calmer moments had prescribed. The result is occasioned by his open display of his contempt for the people, before he had as yet mastered the organizations which would make that display, in an unenlightened age, perhaps, a safe one.
This point of time is much insisted on, and emphasized.
'Let them pull all about mine ears,' cries the hero, as he enters his own house, after his first encounter with the multitude in their wrath.
'Let them pull all about mine ears, present me Death on the wheel, or at wild horses' heels, Or pile ten hills on the Tarpeian rock That the precipitation might down stretch Below the beam of sight, yet will I still— Be THUS to them.'
[For that is the sublime conclusion of these heroics.]
'You do the nobler,' responds the Coryphaeus of that chorus of patricians who accompany him home, and who ought, of course, to be judges of nobility. But there is another approbation wanted. Volumnia is there; but she listens in silence. 'I muse,' he continues—
'I muse my mother Does not approve me further—who was wont To call them woollen vassals, things created To buy and sell with groats; to show bare heads In congregations, to YAWN, be STILL, AND WONDER, When one but of my ordinance stood up To speak of PEACE or WAR. I talk of you [to Volumnia.] Why did you wish me milder? Would you have me False to my nature? [Softly] Either say I play The man I am.
Vol. O sir, sir, sir, I would have had you put your power well on, Ere you had worn it out.
Cor. Let go.
Vol. Lesser had been The thwarting of your dispositions, IF You had not shown them how you were disposed Ere they lacked power to cross you.
Cor. Let them HANG!
Vol. Ay, and BURN too!
For that was the 'disposition' which these Commons, if they had waited but a little longer, might have 'lacked power to cross.' That was the disposition they had thwarted.
But then it is necessary to our purpose, as it was to the author's, to notice that the collision in this case is a forced one. It grows by plot. The people are put up to it. For there are men in that commonwealth who are competent to instruct the Commons in the doctrine of the common weal, and who are carefully and perseveringly applying themselves to that task; though they are men who know how to bide their time, and they will wait till the soaring insolence of the hero is brought into open collision with that enlightened popular will.
They will wait till the military hero's quarrel with the commonwealth breaks out anew. For they know that it lies in the nature of things, and cannot but occur. The eclat of his victory, and the military pride of the nation, films it over for a time; but the quarrel is a radical one, and cannot be healed.
For this chief of soldiers, and would-be head and ruler of the state knows no commonwealth. His soul is not large enough to admit of that conception. The walls of ignorance, that he shuts himself up in, darken and narrow his world to the sphere of his own microcosm,— and, therefore, there is a natural war between the world and him. The state of universal subjection, on the part of others, to his single exclusive passions and affections, the state in which the whole is sacrificed to the part, is the only state that will satisfy him. That is the peace he is disposed to conquer; that is the consummation with which he would stay; that is his notion of state. When that consummation is attained, or when such an approximation to it as he judges to be within his reach, is attained, then, and not till then, he is for conservation;—revolution then is sin; but, till then he will have change and overturning—he will fill the earth with rapine, and fire, and slaughter. But this is just the peace and war principle, which this man, who proposes a durable and solid peace, and the true state, a state constructed with reference to true definitions and axioms,—this is the peace and war principle which the man of science, on scientific grounds, objects to. 'He likes nor peace nor war' on those terms. The conclusions he has framed from those solid premises which he finds in the nature of things, makes him the leader of the opposition in both cases. In one way or another he will make war on that peace; he will kindle the revolutionary fires against that conservation. In one way or another, in one age or another, he will silence that war with all its pomp and circumstance, with all the din of its fifes, and drums, and trumpets. He will make over to the ignominy of ignorant and barbaric ages,—'for we call a nettle but a nettle,' he will turn into a forgotten pageant of the rude, early, instinctive ages, the yet brutal ages of an undeveloped humanity, that triumphant reception at home, of the Conqueror of Foreign States. He will undermine, in all the states, the ethics and religion of brute force, till men shall grow sick, at last, of the old, rusty, bygone trumpery of its insignia, and say, 'Take away those baubles.'
But the hero that we deal with here, is but the pure negation of that heroism which his author conceives of, aspires to, and will have, historical, which he defines as the pattern of man's nature in all men. This one knows no common-wealth; the wealth that is wealth in his eyes, is all his own; the weal that he conceives of, is the weal that is warm at his own heart only. At best he can go out of his particular only as far as the limits of his own hearthstone, or the limits of his clique or caste. And in his selfish passion, when that demands it, he will sacrifice the nearest to him. As to the Commons, they are 'but things to buy and sell with groats,' a herd, a mass, a machine, to be informed with his single will, to be subordinated to his single wishes; in peace enduring the gnawings of hunger, that the garners their toil has filled may overflow for him,—enduring the badges of a degradation which blots out the essential humanity in them, to feed his pride;—in war offered up in droves, to win the garland of the war for him. That is the old hero's commonwealth. His small brain, his brutish head, could conceive no other. The ages in which he ruled the world with his instincts, with his fox-like cunning, with his wolfish fury, with his dog-like ravening,—those brute ages could know no other.
But it is the sturdy European race that the hero has to deal with here; and though, in the moment of victory, it is ready always to chain itself to the conqueror's car, and, in the exultation of conquest, and love for the conqueror, fastens on itself, with joy, the fetters of ages, this quarrel is always breaking out in it anew: it does not like being governed with the edge of the sword;—it is not fond of martial law as a permanent institution.
Two very sagacious tribunes these old Romans happen to have on hand in this emergency: birds considerably too old to be caught with this chaff of victory and military virtue, which puts the populace into such a frenzy, and very learnedly they talk on this subject, with a slight tendency to anachronisms in their mode of expression, in language which sounds a little, at times, as if they might have had access to some more recent documents, than the archives of mythical Rome could just then furnish to them.
But the reader should judge for himself of the correctness of this criticism.
Refusing to join in the military procession on its way to the Capitol, and stopping in the street for a little conference on the subject, when it has gone by, after that vivid complaint of the universal prostration to the military hero already quoted, the conference proceeds thus:—
Sic. On the sudden, I warrant him consul.
Bru. Then our office may, During his power, go sleep.
Sic. He cannot temperately transport his honours From where he should begin, and end; but will Lose those that he hath won.
Bru. In that there's comfort.
Sic. Doubt not, the commoners, for whom we stand. But they, upon their ancient malice, will Forget, with the least cause, these his new honours; Which that he'll give them, make as little question As he is proud to do't.
Bru. I heard him swear, Were he to stand for consul, never would he Appear i'the market-place, nor on him put The napless vesture of humility; Nor, showing (as the manner is) his wounds To the people, beg their stinking breaths.
Sic. 'Tis right.
Bru. It was his word: O, he would miss it, rather Than carry it, but by the suit o'the gentry to him, And the desire of the nobles.
Sic. I wish no better, Than have him hold that purpose, and to put it In execution.
Bru. 'Tis most like he will.
Sic. It shall be to him then, as our good wills A sure destruction.
Bru. So it must fall out To him, or our authorities. For an end, We must suggest the people, in what hatred He still hath held them; that to his power he would Have made them mules, silenced their pleaders, and DISPROPERTIED THEIR FREEDOMS: [—note the expression—] holding them, IN HUMAN ACTION AND CAPACITY, Of no more soul nor fitness for THE WORLD Than CAMELS in their war; who have their provand Only for bearing burdens, and sore blows For sinking under them.
Sic. This as you say, suggested At some time, when his soaring insolence Shall teach the people (which time shall not want) If he be put upon't; and that's as easy As to set dogs on sheep; will be HIS FIRE To KINDLE THEIR DRY STUBBLE; AND THEIR BLAZE SHALL DARKEN HIM FOR EVER.
[There is a history in all men's lives, Figuring the nature of the times deceased, The which observed a man may prophesy, With a near aim of the main chance of things, As yet not come to life, which in their seeds And weak beginnings, lie intreasured: Such things become the hatch and brood of time.—Henry IV.]
Coriolanus, elected by the Senate to the consulship, proposes, in his arrogance, as we have already seen, to dispense with the usual form, which he understands to be a form merely, of asking the consent of the people, and exhibiting to them his claim to their suffrages. The tribunes have sternly withstood this proposition, and will hear of 'no jot' of encroachment upon the dignity and state of the Commons. After the flourish with which the election in the Senate Chamber concludes, and the withdrawal of the Senate, again they stop to discuss, confidentially, 'the situation.'
Bru. You see how he intends to use the people.
Sic. May they perceive his intent; he will require them As if he did contemn what they requested Should be in their power to give.
Bru. Come, we'll inform them Of our proceedings here: on the market-place I know they do attend us.
And to the market-place we go; for it is there that the people are collecting in throngs; no bats or clubs in their hands now, but still full of their passion of gratitude and admiration for the hero's patriotic achievements, against the common foe; and, under the influence of that sentiment, wrought to its highest pitch by that action and reaction which is the incident of the common sentiment in 'the greater congregations,' or 'extensive wholes,' eager to sanction with their 'approbation,' the appointment of the Senate, though the graver sort appear to be, even then, haunted with some unpleasant reminiscences, and not without an occasional misgiving as to the wisdom of the proceeding. There is a little tone of the former meeting lurking here still.
First Cit. Once, if he do require our voices, we ought not to deny him.
Second Cit. We may, Sir, if we will.
Third Cit. We have power in ourselves to do it, but it is a power that we have no power to do. Ingratitude is monstrous: and for the multitude to be ungrateful, were to make a monster of the multitude,—
[There are scientific points here. This term 'monstrosity' is one of the radical terms in the science of nature; but, like many others, it is used in the popular sense, while the sweep and exactitude of the scientific definition, or 'form' is introduced into it.]
—of the which, we, being members, should bring ourselves to be monstrous members.
First Cit. And to make us no better thought of, a little help will serve: for once, when we stood up about the corn, he himself stuck not to call us the many-headed multitude.
Third Cit. We have been called so of many; not that our heads are some brown, some black, some auburn, some bald, but that our wits are so diversely coloured: and truly I think, if ALL our wits were to issue out of ONE skull, they would fly east, west, north, south; and their consent of one direct way should be at once to ALL the points o'the compass.
[An enigma; but the sphinx could propound no better one. Truly this man has had good teaching. He knows how to translate the old priestly Etruscan into the vernacular.]
Second Cit. Think you so? Which way, do you judge, my wit would fly?
Third Cit. Nay, your wit will not so soon out as another man's WILL, 'tis strongly wedged up in a block-head: but if it were at liberty ...
Second Cit. You are never without your tricks:—...
Third Cit. Are you all resolved to give your voices? But that's no matter. The greater part carries it. I say, if he would incline to the people, there was never a worthier man.
[Enter Coriolanus and Menenius.]
Here he comes, and in the gown of humility; mark his behaviour. We are not to stay all together, but to come by him where he stands, by ones, by twos, and by threes. He's to make his requests by particulars: wherein every one of us has a single honour, in giving him our own voices with our own tongues: therefore FOLLOW ME, and I'LL DIRECT YOU HOW YOU SHALL GO BY HIM.
[The voice of the true leader is lurking here, and all through these scenes the 'double' meanings are thickly sown.]
All. Content, content!
Men. O Sir, you are not right: have you not known The worthiest men have done it?
Cor. What must I say?— I pray, Sir?—Plague upon't! I cannot bring My tongue to such a pace:—Look, Sir,—my wounds;— I got them in my country's service, when Some certain of your brethren roar'd, and ran From the noise of OUR OWN DRUMS.
Men. O me, the gods! You must not speak of that; you must desire them To think upon you.
Cor. Think upon me? Hang 'em! I would they would forget me, like the virtues Which our divines lose by them.
Men. You'll mar all; I'll leave you: Pray you, speak to them, I pray you, In wholesome manner.
[And now, instead of being thronged with a mob of citizens—instructed how they are to go by him with the honor of their single voices they enter 'by twos' and 'threes.']
[Enter two Citizens.]
Cor. Bid them wash their faces, And keep their teeth clean._—So, here comes a _brace_, You know the cause, Sir, of my standing here.
First Cit. We do, Sir; tell us what hath brought you to't,
Cor. Mine own desert.—[The would-be consul answers.]
Second Cit. Your own desert?
Cor. Ay, not Mine own desire.
[His own desert has brought him to the consulship; his own desire would have omitted the conciliation of the people, and the deference to their will, that with all his desert somehow he seems to find expected from him.]
First Cit. How! not your own desire!
Cor. No, Sir. 'Twas never my desire yet, To trouble the poor with begging.
He desires what the poor have to give him however; but he desires to take it, without begging. But it is the heart of the true hero that speaks in earnest through that mockery, and the reference is to a state of things towards which the whole criticism of the play is steadfastly pointed, a state in which sovereigns were reluctantly compelled to beg from the poor, what they would rather have taken without their leave, or, at least, a state in which the form of this begging was still maintained, though there lacked but little to make it a form only, a state of things in which a country gentleman might be called on to sell 'his brass pans' without being supplied, on the part of the State, with what might appear, to him, any respectable reason for it, putting his life in peril, and coming off, with a hair's-breadth escape, of all his future usefulness, if he were bold enough to question the proceeding; a state of things in which a poor law-reader might feel himself called upon to buy a gown for a lady, whose gowns were none of the cheapest, at a time when the state of his finances might render it extremely inconvenient to do so.
But to return to the Roman citizen, for the play is written by one who knows that the human nature is what it is in all ages, or, at least, until it is improved with better arts of culture than the world has yet tried on it.
First Cit. You must think, if we give you anything, We hope to gain by you.
Cor. Well then, I pray, YOUR PRICE O'THE CONSULSHIP?
First Cit. The price is, Sir, to ask it kindly.
Cor. Kindly? Sir, I pray let me ha't: I have wounds to show you, Which shall be yours in private.—Your good voice, Sir; What say you?
Second Cit. You shall have it, worthy Sir.
Cor. A match, Sir: There is in all two worthy voices begg'd:— I have your alms; adieu.
First Cit. But this is something odd.
Second Cit. An 'twere to give again,—But 'tis no matter.
[Exeunt two Citizens.]
[Enter two other Citizens.]
Cor. Pray you now, if it may stand with the tune of your voices, that I may be consul, I have here the customary gown.
Third Cit. You have deserved nobly of your country, and you have not deserved nobly.
Cor. Your enigma?
Third Cit. You have been a scourge to her enemies, you have been a rod to her friends; you have not INDEED, loved the COMMON PEOPLE.
Cor. You should account me the more virtuous, that I have not been common in my love. I will, Sir, flatter my sworn brother the people, to earn a dearer estimation of them; 'tis a condition they account GENTLE: and since the wisdom of their choice is rather to have my hat than my heart, I will practise the insinuating nod, and be off to them most counterfeitly; that is, Sir, I will counterfeit the bewitchment of some popular man, and give it bountifully to the desirers. Therefore, beseech you, I may be consul.
Fourth Cit. We hope to find you our friend; and therefore give you our voices heartily.
Third Cit. You have received many wounds for your country.
Cor. I will not seal your knowledge with showing them. I will make much of your voices, and so trouble you no further.
Both Cit. The gods give you joy, Sir, heartily! [Exeunt.]
Cor. Most sweet voices!— Better it is to die, better to starve, ...Rather than fool it so, Let the high office and the honour go To one that would do thus.—I am half through; The one part suffer'd, the other will I do.
[Enter three other Citizens.]
Here come more voices,— Your Voices: for your voices I have fought: Watch'd for your voices; for your voices, bear Of wounds two dozen odd; battles thrice six, I have seen and heard of; for your voices, Done many things, some less, some more: your voices: Indeed, I would be consul.
Fifth Cit. He has done nobly, and cannot go without any honest man's voice.
Sixth Cit. Therefore let him be consul: The gods give him joy, and make him good friend to the people.
All. Amen, Amen.— God save thee, noble consul! [Exeunt Citizens.]
Cor. WORTHY VOICES!
[Re-enter Menenius, with the tribunes Brutus, and Sicinius.]
Men. You have stood your limitation; and the tribunes Endue you with the people's voice: Remains, That in the official marks invested, you Anon do meet the senate.
Cor. Is this done?
Sic. The custom of request you have discharged: The people do admit you; and are summon'd To meet anon, upon your approbation.
Cor. Where? At the senate-house?
Sic. There Coriolanus.
Cor. May I change these garments?
Sic. You may, Sir.
Cor. That I'll straight do, and knowing myself again, Repair to the senate house.
Men. I'll keep you company.—Will you along.
Bru. We stay here for the people.
Sic. Fare you well.
[Exeunt Coriolanus and Menenius.]
He has it now; and by his looks, methinks, 'Tis warm at his heart.
Bru. With a proud heart he wore His humble weeds: Will you dismiss the people?
[This is the popular election: but the afterthought, the review, the critical review, is that which must follow, for this is not the same people we had on the stage when the play began. They are the same in person, perhaps; but it is no longer a mob, armed with clubs, clamouring for bread, rushing forth to kill their chiefs, and have corn at their own price. It is a people conscious of their political power and dignity, an organised people; it is a people with a constituted head, capable of instructing them in the doctrine of political duties and rights. It is the tribune now who conducts this review of the Military Hero's civil claims. It is the careful, learned Tribune who initiates, from the heights of his civil wisdom, this great, popular veto, this deliberate 'rejection' of the popular affirmation. For this is what is called, elsewhere, 'a negative instance.']
Sic. How now, my masters? HAVE YOU CHOSE THIS MAN?
First Cit. He has our voices, Sir.
Bru. We pray the gods he may deserve your loves.
Second Cit. Amen, Sir: To my poor unworthy notice, He mocked us when he begg'd our voices.
Third Cit. Certainly He flouted us downright.
First Cit. No, 'tis his kind of speech; he did not mock us.
Second Cit. Not one amongst us save yourself, but says, He used us scornfully: he should have show'd us His marks of merit, wounds received for his country.
Sic. Why, so he did, I am sure.
Cit. No; no man saw 'em. [Several speak.]
Third Cit. He said he had wounds which he could show in private; And with his hat, thus waving it in scorn, 'I would be consul,' says he,' AGED CUSTOM, BUT BY YOUR VOICES, WILL NOT SO PERMIT ME; Your voices THEREFORE:' When we granted that, Here was,—'I thank you for your voices,—thank you,— Your most sweet voices:—now you have left your voices, I have no further with you:'—Was not this mockery?
Sic. Why, either, were you ignorant to see't? Or, seeing it, of such childish friendliness To yield your voices?
Bru. Could you not have told him As you were lesson'd—when he had no power, But was a petty servant to the state, He was your enemy; ever spake against Your LIBERTIES, and the CHARTERS that you bear I' THE BODY of the WEAL: and now arriving A place of potency, and sway o' the state, If he should still malignantly remain Fast foe to the plebeii, your voices might Be CURSES to YOURSELVES.
Sic. Thus to have said As you were fore-advised, had touched his spirit, And tried his inclination; from him plucked, Either his gracious promise, which you might, As cause had called you up, have HELD HIM TO; Or else it would have galled his surly nature, Which easily endures, not article Tying him to aught;—so putting him to rage, You should have ta'en advantage of his choler, And so left him unelected.
[Somewhat sagacious instructions for these old Roman statesmen to give, and not so very unlike those which English Commons found occasion to put in execution not long after.]
Bru. Did you perceive he did solicit you in free contempt, When he did need your loves; and do you think That his contempt shall not be bruising to you, When, he hath power to crush? Why had your bodies No heart among you, or had you tongues To cry against THE RECTORSHIP of—judgment?
Sic. Have you Ere now, deny'd the asker, and now again, On him that did not ask, but mock, [with a pretence of asking,] bestow Your sued for tongues?
Third Cit. HE'S NOT CONFIRMED, we may deny him YET.
Second Cit. And will deny him: I'll have five hundred voices of that sound.
First Cit. I, twice five hundred, and their friends to piece 'em.
Bru. Get you hence instantly, and tell those friends, They have chose a consul that will from them Take their liberties, MAKE THEM OF NO MORE VOICE THAN DOGS, that are as often BEAT for barking, As KEPT TO DO SO.
Sic. Let them assemble, And on a safer judgment, ALL REVOKE Your IGNORANT ELECTION.
Bru. Lay A fault on us, your tribunes; that WE LABOURED NO IMPEDIMENT BETWEEN, but that you must Cast your election on him.
Sic. Say, you chose him More after our commandment, than as guided By your own true affections, and that your minds, Pre-occupied with what you rather must do, Than what you should, made you against the grain To voice him consul: lay the fault on us.
Bru. Ay, SPARE us NOT. Say WE READ LECTURES TO YOU, How youngly he began to serve his country, How long continued, and what stock he springs of; The noble house o' the Marcians, from whence came, That Ancus Martius, Numa's daughter's son, Who, after great Hostilius, here was king: Of the same house Publius and Quintus were, That our best water brought by conduits hither; And Censoriuus, darling of the people, And nobly named so, being censor twice, Was his great ancestor.
[Of course this man has never meddled with the classics at all. His reading and writing comes by nature.]
Sic. One thus descended, That hath beside well in his person wrought, To be set high in place, we did commend To your remembrances; but you have found, Scaling his present bearing with his past, That he's your fixed enemy, and REVOKE Your sudden approbation.
Bru.. Say you ne'er had done't,— Harp on that still,—but by our putting on, And presently when you have drawn your number, Repair to the Capitol.
Citizens. [Several speak.] We will so. Almost all Repent in their election. [Exeunt Citizens.]
Bru. Let them go on. This mutiny were better put in hazard, Than stay, past doubt, for greater; If, as his nature is, he fall in rage With their refusal, both observe and answer The vantage of his anger.
Sic. To the Capitol: Come, we'll be there before the stream o' the people, And this shall seem, as partly'tis, their own Which WE HAVE GOADED ONWARD.
[See the Play of Henry the Seventh, Founder of the Elizabethan Tyranny, by the same author.]
We have witnessed the popular election on the scientific boards: we have seen, now, in all its scientific detail, the civil confirmation of the soldier's vote on the battle-field: we have seen it in the senate-chamber and in the market-place, and we saw it in 'the smothered stalls, and bulks, and windows,' and on 'the leads and ridges': we have seen and heard it, not in the shower and thunder that the commons made with their caps and voices only, but in the scarfs, and gloves, and handkerchiefs, which 'the ladies, and maids, and matrons threw.' We have seen each single contribution to this great public act put in by the Poet's selected representative of classes. 'The kitchen malkin, with her richest lockram pinned on her neck, clambering the wall to eye him,' spake for hers; 'the seld-shown flamen, puffing his way to win a vulgar station,' was hastening to record the vote of his; 'the veiled dame, exposing the war of white and damask in her nicely-gawded cheeks to the spoil of Phebus' burning kisses,' was a tribune, too, in this Poet's distribution of the tribes, and spake out for the veiled dames; 'the prattling nurse' who will give her baby that is 'crying itself into a rapture there, while she chats him' her reminiscence of this scene by and by, was there to give the nurses' approbation.
For this is the vote which the great Tribune has to sum up and count, when he comes to review at last, 'in a better hour,' these spontaneous public acts—these momentous acts that seal up the future, and bind the unborn generations of the advancing kind with the cramp of their fetters. Not less careful than this is the analysis when he undertakes to track to its historic source one of those practical axioms, one of those received beliefs, which he finds determining the human conduct, limiting the human history, moulding the characters of men, determining beforehand what they shall be. This is the process when he undertakes, to get one of these rude, instinctive, spontaneous affirmations—one of those idols of the market or of the Tribe—reviewed and criticised by the heads of the Tribe, at least, 'in a better hour,'—criticised and rejected. 'Proceeding by negatives and exclusion first': this is the form in which this Tribune puts on record his scientific veto of that 'ignorant election.'
And in this so carefully selected and condensed combination of historical spectacles—in this so new, this so magnificently illustrated political history—there is another historic moment to be brought out now; and in this same form of 'visible history,' one not less important than those already exhibited.
In the scene that follows, we have, in the Poet's arrangement, the great historic spectacle of a people 'REVOKING THEIR IGNORANT ELECTION,' under the instigation and guidance of those same remarkable leaders, whose voice had been wanting (as they are careful to inform us) till then in the business of the state; leaders who contrive at last to inform the people, in plain terms, that they 'are at point to lose their liberties,' that 'Marcius will have all from them,' and who apologise for their conduct afterwards by saying, that 'he affected one sole throne, without assistance'; for the time had come when the Tribune could repeat the Poet's whisper, 'The one side shall have bale.'
This so critical spectacle is boldly brought out and exhibited here in all its actual historical detail. It is produced by one who is able to include in his dramatic programme the whole sweep of its eventualities, the whole range of its particulars, because he has made himself acquainted with the forces, he has ascended, by scientifically inclusive definition, to the 'powers' that are to be 'operant' in it; and he who has that 'charactery' of nature, may indeed 'lay the future open.' We talk of prophecy; but there is nothing in literature to compare at all with this great specimen of the prophecy of Induction. There is nothing to compare with it in its grasp of particulars, in its comprehension and historic accuracy of detail.
But this great speech, which he entreats for leave to make before that revolutionary movement, which in its weak beginnings in his time lay intreasured, should proceed any further—this preliminary speech, with its so vivid political illustration, is not yet finished. The true doctrine of an instructed scientific election and government, that 'vintage' of politics—that vintage of scientific definitions and axioms which he is getting out of this new kind of history—that new vintage of the higher, subtler fact, which this fine selected, adapted history, will be made to yield, is not yet expressed. The fault with the popular and instinctive mode of inquiry is, he tells us, that it begins with affirmation—but that is the method for gods, and not men—men must begin with negations; they must have tables of review of instances, tables of negation, tables of rejection; and divide nature, not with fire, but with the mind, that divine fire. 'If the mind attempt this affirmation from the first,' he says, 'which it always will when left to itself there will spring up phantoms, mere theories, and ill-defined notions, with axioms requiring daily correction. These will be better or worse, according to the power and strength of the understanding which creates them. But it is only for God to recognise forms affirmatively, at the first glance of contemplation; men can only proceed first by negatives, and then to conclude with affirmatives, after every species of rejection.' And though he himself appears to be profoundly absorbed with the nature of HEAT, at the moment in which he first produces these new scientific instruments, which he calls tables of review, and explains their 'facilities,' he tells us plainly, that they are adapted to other subjects, and that those affirmations which are most essential to the welfare of man, will in due time come off from them, practical axioms on matters of universal and incessant practical concern, that will not want daily correction, that will not want revolutionary correction, to fit them to the exigency.
The question here is not of 'heat,' but of SOVEREIGNTY; it is the question of the consulship, regarded from the ground of the tribuneship. It is not Coriolanus that this tribune is spending so much breath on. The instincts, which unanalytic, barbaric ages, enthrone and mistake for greatness and nobility, are tried and rejected here; and the business of the play is, to get them excluded from the chair of state. The philosopher will have those instincts which men, in their 'particular and private natures,' share with the lower orders of animals, searched out, and put in their place in human affairs, which is not, as he takes it, THE HEAD—the head of the COMMON-weal. It is not Coriolanus; the author has no spite at all against him—he is partial to him, rather; it is not Coriolanus but the instincts that are on trial here, and the man—the so-called man—of instinct, who has no principle of state and sovereignty, no principle of true manliness and nobility in his soul; and the trial is not yet completed. The author would be glad to have that revolution which he has inserted in the heart of this play deferred, if that were possible, though he knows that it is not; he thinks it would be a saving of trouble if it could be deferred until some true and scientifically prepared notions, some practical axioms, which would not need in their turn fierce historical correction—revolutionary correction—could be imparted to the common mind.
But we must follow him in this process of division and exclusion a little further, before we come in our plot to the revolution. That revolution which he foresees as imminent and inevitable, he has put on paper here: but there is another lurking within, for which we are not yet ripe. This locked-up tribune will have to get abroad; he will have to get his limits enlarged, and find his way into some new departments, before ever that can begin.
THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN POLITICS.
'If any man think philosophy and universality to be idle studies, he doth not consider that all professions are from thence served and supplied.'
Advancement of Learning.
'We leave room on every subject for the human or optative part; for it is a part of science to make judicious inquiries and wishes.'
As to the method of this new kind of philosophical inquiry, which is brought to bear here so stedfastly upon the most delicate questions, at a time when the Play-house was expressly forbidden by a Royal Ordinance, on pain of dissolution, to touch them—in an age, too, when Parliaments were lectured, and brow-beaten, and rudely sent home, for contumaciously persisting in meddling with questions of state—in an age in which prelates were shrilly interrupted in the pulpit, in the midst of their finest and gravest Sunday discourse, and told, in the presence of their congregations, to hold their tongues and mind their own business, if they chanced to touch upon 'questions of church,' on a day when the Head of the Church herself, in her own sacred person, in her largest ruff, and 'rustling' in her last silk, happened to be in her pew;—as to the method of the philosophical investigations which were conducted under such critical conditions, of course there was no harm in displaying that in the abstract, as a method merely. As a method of philosophical inquiry, there was no harm in presenting it in a tolerably lucid and brilliant manner, accompanying the exhibition with careful, and apparently specific, directions as to the application of it to indifferent subjects. There was no harm, indeed, in blazoning this method a little, and in soliciting the attention of the public, and the attention of mankind in general, to it in a somewhat extraordinary manner, not without some considerable blowing of trumpets. As a method of philosophical inquiry, merely, what earthly harm could it do? Surely there was no more innocent thing in nature than 'your philosophy,' then, so far as any overt acts were concerned; it certainly was the last thing in the world that a king or a queen need trouble their heads about then. Who cared what methods the philosophers were taking, or whether this was a new one or an old one, so that the men of letters could understand it? The modern Solomon was fain to confess that, for his part, he could not—that it was beyond his depth; whereas the history of Henry the Seventh, by the same author, appeared to him extremely clear and lively, and quite within his range, and to that he gave his own personal approbation. The other work, however, as it was making so much noise in the world, and promising to go down to posterity, would serve to adorn his reign, and make it illustrious in future ages.
There was no harm in this philosopher's setting forth his method then, and giving very minute and strict directions in regard to its applications to 'certain subjects.' As to what the Author of it did with it himself—that, of course, was another thing, and nobody's business but his own just then, as it happened.
So totally was the world off its guard at the moment of this great and greatest innovation in its practice—so totally unaccustomed were men then to look for anything like power in the quarter from which this seemed to be proceeding—so impossible was it for this single book to remove that previous impression—that the Author of the Novum Organum could even venture to intersperse these directions, with regard to its specific and particular applications, with pointed and not infrequent allusions to the comprehensive nature—the essentially comprehensive nature—of 'the Machine' whose application to these certain instances he is at such pains to specify; he could, indeed, produce it with a continuous side-long glance at this so portentous quality of it.
Nay, he could go farther than that, and venture to assert openly, over his own name, and leave on record for the benefit of posterity, the assertion that this new method of inquiry does apply, directly and primarily, to those questions in which the human race are primarily concerned; that it strikes at once to the heart of those questions, and was invented to that end.
Such a certificate and warranty of the New Machine was put up by the hands of the Inventor on the face of it, when he dedicated it to the human use—when he appealed in its behalf from the criticism of the times that were near, to those that were far off. Nay, he takes pains to tell us; he tells us in that same moment, what one who studies the NOVUM ORGANUM with the key of 'Times' does not need to be told—can see for himself—that in his description of the method he has already contrived to make the application, the universal practical application.
In his PREROGATIVE INSTANCES, the mind of man is brought out already from its SPECIFIC narrowness, from its own abstract logical conceits and arrogant prenotions, into that collision with fact—the broader fact, the universal fact—and subjected to that discipline from it which is the intention of this logic. It is a 'machine' which is meant to serve to Man as a 'New' Mind—the scientific mind, which is in harmony with nature—a mind informed and enlarged with the universal laws, the laws of KINDS, instead of the spontaneous uninstructed mind, instead of the narrow specific mind of a barbaric race, filled with its own preposterous prenotions and vain conceits, and at war with universal nature; boldly pursuing its deadly feud with that, priding itself on it, making a virtue of it. It is a machine in which those human faculties which are the gifts of God to man, as the instruments of his welfare, are for the first time scientifically conjoined. It is a Machine in which the senses, those hitherto despised instruments in philosophy, by means of a scientific rule and oversight, and with the aid of scientific instruments, are made available for philosophic purposes. It is a Machine in which that organization whereby the universal nature impresses itself on us—reports itself to us—striking its incessant telegraphs on us, whether we read them or not, is for the first time brought to the philosopher's aid; and it is a Machine, also, by which speculation, that hitherto despised instrument in practice, is for the first time, brought to the aid of the man of practice. It is doubly 'New': it is a Machine in which speculation becomes practical—it is a Machine in which practice becomes scientific.
[Fool. Canst thou tell why a man's nose stands in the middle of his face?
Fool. Why, to keep his eyes on either side of it, that what he cannot smell out, he may spy into.]
In 'THE PREROGATIVE INSTANCES,' the universal matter of fact is already taken up and disposed of in grand masses, under these headships and chief cases, not in a miscellaneous, but scientific manner. The Nature of Things is all there; for this is a Logic which bows the mind of man to the law of the universal nature, and informs and enlarges it with that. It is not a Logic merely in the old sense of that term. The old Logic, and the cobwebs of metaphysics that grew out of it, are the things which this Machine is going to puff away, with the mere whiff and wind of its inroads into nature, and disperse for ever. It is not a logic merely as logic has hitherto been limited, but a philosophy. A logic in which the general 'notions of nature' which are causes, powers, simple powers, elemental powers, true differences, are substituted for those spontaneous, rude, uncorrected, specific notions,—pre-notions of men, which have in that form, as they stand thus, no correlative in nature, and are therefore impotent—not true terms and forms, but air-words, air-lines, merely. It is a logic which includes the Mind of NATURE, and her laws; and not one which is limited to the mind of Man, and so fitted to its incapacity as to nurse him in his natural ignorance, to educate him in his born foolery and conceit, to teach him to ignore by rule, and set at nought the infinite mystery of nature.
The universal history, all of it that the mind of man is constituted to grasp, is here in the general, under these PREROGATIVE INSTANCES, in the luminous order of the Inventor of this science, blazing throughout with his genius, and the mind that has abolished its prenotions, and renounced its rude, instinctive, barbaric tendencies, and has taken this scientific Organum instead; has armed itself with the Nature of Things, and is prepared to grapple with all specifications and particulars.
The author tells us plainly, that those seemingly pedantic arrangements with which he is compelled to perplex his subject in this great work of his, the work in which he openly introduces HIS INNOVATION,—as that—will fall off by and by, when there is no longer any need of them. They are but the natural guards with which great Nature, working in the instinct of the philosophic genius, protects her choicest growth,—the husk of that grain which must have times, and a time to grow in,—the bark which the sap must stop to build, ere its delicate works within are safe. They are like the sheaths with which she hides through frost and wind and shower, until their hour has come, her vernal patterns, her secret toils, her magic cunning, her struggling aspirations, her glorious successes, her celestial triumphs.
In the midst of this studious fog of scholasticism, this complicated network of superficial divisions, the man of humour, who is always not far off and ready to assist in the priestly ministrations as he sees occasion, gently directs our attention to those more simple and natural divisions of the subject, and those more immediately practical terms, which it might be possible to use, under certain circumstances, in speaking of the same subjects, into which, however, these are easily resolvable, as soon as the right point of observation is taken. Through all this haze, he contrives to show us confidentially, the outline of those grand natural divisions, which he has already clearly produced—under their scholastic names, indeed,—in his book of the Advancement of Learning; but which he cannot so openly continue, in a work produced professedly, as a practical instrument fit for application to immediate use, and where the true application is constantly entering the vitals of subjects too delicate to be openly glanced at then.
But he gives us to understand, however, that he has made the application of this method to practice, in a much more specific, detailed manner, in another place, that he has brought it down from those more general forms of the Novum Organum, into 'the nobler' departments, 'the more chosen' departments of that universal field of human practice, which the Novum Organum takes up in its great outline, and boldly and clearly claims in the general, though when it comes to specific applications and particulars, it does so stedfastly strike, or appear to strike, into that one track of practice, which was the only one left open to it then,—which it keeps still as rigidly as if it had no other. He has brought it out, he tells us, from that trunk of 'universality,' and carried it with his own hand into the minutest points and fibres of particulars, those points and fibres, those living articulations in which the grand natural divisions he indicates here, naturally terminate; the divisions which the philosopher who 'makes the Art and Practic part of life, the mistress to his Theoric,' must of course follow. He tells us that he has applied it to PARTICULAR ARTS, to those departments of the human experience and practice in which the need of a rule is most felt, and where things have been suffered to go on hitherto, in a specially miscellaneous manner, and that his axioms of practice in these departments have been so scientifically constructed from particulars, that he thinks they will be apt to know their way to particulars again;—that their specifications are at the same time so comprehensive and so minute, that he considers them fit for immediate use, or at least so far forth fitted, as to require but little skill on the part of the practitioner, to insure them against failure in practice. The process being, of course, in this application to the exigencies of practice, necessarily disentangled from those technicalities and relics of the old wordy scholasticism in which he was compelled to incase and seal up his meanings, in his professedly scientific works, and especially in his professedly practical scientific work.
But these so important applications of his philosophy to practice, of which he issues so fair a prospectus, though he frequently refers to them, could not then be published. The time had not come, and personally, he was obliged to leave, before it came. He was careful, however, to make the best provision which could be made, under such circumstances, for the carrying out of his intentions; for he left a will. These works of practice could not then be published; and if they could have been, there was no public then ready for them. They could not be published; but there was nothing to hinder their being put under cover. There was no difficulty to a man of skill in packing them up in a portable form, under lids and covers of one sort and another, so unexceptionable, that all the world could carry them about, for a century or two, and not perceive that there was any harm in them. Very curiously wrought covers they might be too, with some taste of the wonders of mine art pressing through, a little here and there. They might be put under a very gorgeous and attractive cover in one case, and under a very odd and fantastic one in another; but in such a manner as to command, in both cases, the admiration and wonder of men, so as to pique perpetually their curiosity and provoke inquiry, until the time had come and the key was found.