But there is another department of art and literature which is put down as a department of 'learning,' and a most grave and momentous department of it too, in that new scheme of learning which this play is illustrating,—one which will also have to be impersonated in this representation,—one which plays a most important part in the history of this School. It is that which gives it the power it lacks and wants, and in one way or another will have. It is that which makes an arm for it, and a long one. It is that which supplies its hidden arms and armour. But neither is this department of learning as it is extant,—as this School finds it prepared to its hands, going to be permitted to escape the searching of this comprehensive satire. There is a 'refined traveller of Spain' haunting the purlieus of this Court, who is just the bombastic kind of person that is wanted to act this part. For this impersonation, too, is historical. There are just such creatures in nature as this. We see them now and then; or, at least, he is not much overdone,—'this child of Fancy,—Don Armado hight.' It is the Old Romance, with his ballads and allegories,—with his old 'lies' and his new arts,—that this company are going to use for their new minstrelsy; but first they will laugh him out of his bombast and nonsense, and instruct him in the knowledge of 'common things,' and teach him how to make poetry out of them. They have him here now, to make sport of him with the rest. It is the fashionable literature,— the literature that entertains a court,—the literature of a tyranny, with his gross servility, with his courtly affectations, with his arts of amusement, his 'vain delights,' with his euphuisms, his 'fire-new words,' it is the polite learning, the Elizabethan Belles Lettres, that is brought in here, along with that old Dryasdust Scholasticism, which the other two represent, to make up this company. These critics, who turn the laugh upon themselves, who caricature their own follies for the benefit of learning, who make themselves and their own failures the centre of the comedy of Love's Labour's Lost, are not going to let this thing escape; with the heights of its ideal, and the grossness of its real, it is the very fuel for the mirth that is blazing and crackling here. For these are the woodmen that are at work here, making sport as they work; hewing down the old decaying trunks, gathering all the nonsense into heaps, and burning it up and and clearing the ground for the new.
'What is the end of study,' is the word of this Play. To get the old books shut, but not till they have been examined, not till all the good in them has been taken out, not till we have made a stand on them; to get the old books in their places, under our feet, and 'then to make progression' after we see where we are, is the proposal here—here also. It is the shutting up of the old books, and the opening of the new ones, which is the business here. But that—that is not the proposal of an ignorant man (as this Poet himself takes pains to observe); it is not the proposition of a man who does not know what there is in books—who does not know but there is every thing in them that they claim to have in them, every thing that is good for life, magic and all. An ignorant man is in awe of books, on account of his ignorance. He thinks there are all sorts of things in them. He is very diffident when it comes to any question in regard to them. He tells you that he is not 'high learned,' and defers to his betters. Neither is this the proposition of a man who has read a little, who has only a smattering in books, as the Poet himself observes. It is the proposition of a scholar, who has read them all, or had them read for him and examined, who knows what is in them all, and what they are good for, and what they are not good for. This is the man who laughs at learning, and borrows her own speech to laugh her down with. This, and not the ignorant man, it is who opens at last 'great nature's' gate to us, and tells us to come out and learn of her, because that which old books did not 'clasp in,' that which old philosophies have 'not dreamt of,'—the lore of laws not written yet in books of man's devising, the lore of that of which man's ordinary life consisteth is here, uncollected, waiting to be spelt out.
King. How well he's read to reason against reading.
is the inference here.
Dumain. Proceeded well to stop all good proceeding.
It is progress that is proposed here also. After the survey of learning 'has been well taken, then to make progession' is the word. It is not the doctrine of unlearning that is taught here in this satire. It is a learning that includes all the extant wisdom, and finds it insufficient. It is one that requires a new and nobler study for its god-like ends. But, at the same time, the hindrances that a practical learning has to encounter are pointed at from the first. The fact, that the true ends of learning take us at once into the ground of the forbidden questions, is as plainly stated in the opening speech of the New Academy as the nature of the statement will permit. The fact, that the intellect is trained to vain delights under such conditions, because there is no earnest legitimate occupation of it permitted, is a fact that is glanced at here, as it is in other places, though not in such a manner, of course, as to lead to a 'question' from the government in regard to the meaning of the passages in which these grievances are referred to. Under these embarrassments it is, we are given to understand, however, that the criticism on the old learning and the plot for the new is about to proceed.
Here it takes the form of comedy and broad farce. There is a touch of 'tart Aristophanes' in the representation here. This is the introductory performance of the school in which the student hopes for high words howsoever low the matter, emphasizing that hope with an allusion to the heights of learning, as he finds it, and the highest word of it, which seems irreverent, until we find from the whole purport of the play how far he at least is from taking it in vain, whatever implication of that sort his criticism may be intended to leave on others, who use good words with so much iteration and to so little purpose. 'That is a high hope for a low having' is the rejoinder of that associate of his, whose views on this point agree with his own so entirely. It is the height of the hope and the lowness of the having—it is the height of the words and the lowness of the matter, that makes the incongruity here. That is the soul of all the mirth that is stirring here. It is the height of 'the style' that 'gives us cause to climb in the merriment' that makes the subject of this essay. It is literature in general that is laughed at here, and the branches of it in particular. It is the old books that are walking about under these trees, with their follies all ravelled out, making sport for us.
But this is not all. It is the defect in learning which is represented here—that same 'defect' which a graver work of this Academy reports, in connection with a proposition for the Advancement of Learning—for its advancement into the fields not yet taken up, and which turn out, upon inquiry, to be the fields of human life and practice;—it is that main defect which is represented here. 'I find a kind of science of "words" but none of "things,"' says the reporter. 'What do you read, my lord?' 'Words, words, words,' echoes the Prince of Denmark. 'I find in these antique books, in these Philosophies and Poems, a certain resplendent or lustrous mass of matter chosen to give glory either to the subtilty of disputations, or to the eloquence of discourses,' says the other and graver reporter; 'but as to the ordinary and common matter of which life consisteth, I do not find it erected into an art or science, or reduced to written inquiry.' 'How low soever the matter, I hope in God for high words,' says a speaker, who comes out of that same palace of learning on to this stage with the secret badge of the new lore on him, which is the lore of practice—a speaker not less grave, though he comes in now in the garb of this pantomime, to make sport for us with his news of learning. For 'Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light for the law of writ and the liberty.'
It is the high words and the low having that make the incongruity. But we cannot see the vanity of those heights of words, till the lowness of the matter which they profess to abstract has been brought into contrast with them, till the particulars which they do not grasp, which they can not compel, have been brought into studious contrast with them. The delicate graces of those flowery summits of speech which the ideal nature, when it energises in speech, creates, must overhang in this design the rude actuality which the untrained nature in man, forgotten of art, is always producing. And it is the might of nature in this opposition, it is the force of 'matter,' it is the unconquerable cause contrasted with the vanity of the words that have not comprehended the cause, it is the futility of these heights of words that are not 'forms' that do not correspond to things which must be exhibited here also. It is the force of the law in nature, that must be brought into opposition here with the height of the word, the ideal word, the higher, but not yet scientifically abstracted word, that seeks in vain because it has no 'grappling-hook' on the actuality, to bind it. There already are the heights of learning as it is, as this school finds it, dramatically exhibited on the one hand; but this, too,—life as it is,—as this school finds it, man's life as it is, unreduced to order by his philosophy, unreduced to melody by his verse, must also be dramatically exhibited on the other hand, must also be impersonated. It is life that we have here, the 'theoric' on the one side, the 'practic' on the other. The height of the books on the one side, the lowness, the unvisited, 'unlettered' lowness of the life on the other. That which exhibits the defect in learning that the new learning is to remedy, the new uncultured, unbroken ground of science must be exhibited here also. But that is man's life. That is the world. And what if it be? There are diagrams in this theatre large enough for that. It is the theatre of the New Academy which deals also in IDEAS, but prefers the solidarities. The wardrobe and other properties of this theatre are specially adapted to exigencies of this kind. The art that put the extant learning with those few strokes into the grotesque forms you see there, will not be stopped on this side either, for any law of writ or want of space and artistic comprehension. This is the learning that can be bounded in the nut-shell of an aphorism and include all in its bounds.
There are not many persons here, and they are ordinary looking persons enough. But if you lift those dominos a little, which that 'refined traveller of Spain' has brought in fashion, you will find that this rustic garb and these homely country features hide more than they promised; and the princess, with her train, who is keeping state in the tents yonder, though there is an historical portrait there too, is greater than she seems. This Antony Dull is a poor rude fellow; but he is a great man in this play. This is the play in which one asks 'Which is the princess?' and the answer is, 'The tallest and the thickest.' Antony is the thickest, he is the acknowledged sovereign here in this school; for he is of that greater part that carries it, and though he hath never fed of the dainties bred in a book, these spectacles which the new 'book men' are getting up here are intended chiefly for him. And that unlettered small knowing soul 'Me'—'still me'—insignificant as you think him when you see him in the form of a country swain, is a person of most extensive domains and occupations, and of the very highest dignity, as this philosophy will demonstrate in various ways, under various symbols. You will have that same me in the form of a Mountain, before you have read all the books of this school, and mastered all its 'tokens' and 'symbols.'
The dramatic representation here is meagre; but we shall find upon inquiry it is already the Globe Theatre, with all its new solidarities, new in philosophy, new in poetry, that the leaves of this park hide—this park that the doors and windows of the New Academe open into—these new grounds that it lets out its students to play and study in, and collect their specimens from—'still and contemplative in living art.' It was all the world that was going through that park that day haply, we shall find. It is all the world that we get in this narrow representation here, as we get it in a more limited representation still, in another place. 'All the world knows me in my book and my book in me,' cries the Egotist of the Mountain. It is the first Canto of that great Epic, whose argument runs through so many books, that is chanted here. It is the war, the unsuccessful war of lore and nature, whose lost fields have made man's life, that is getting reviewed at last and reduced to speech and writing. It is the school itself that makes the centre of the plot in this case; these gay young philosophers with 'the ribands' yet floating in their 'cap of youth,' who oppose lore to love, who 'war against their own affections and THE HUGE ARMY OF THE WORLD'S DESIRES,' ere they know what they are; who think to conquer nature's potencies, her universal powers and causes, with wordy ignorance, with resolutions that ignore them simply, and make a virtue of ignoring them, these are the chief actors here, who come out of that classic tiring house where they have been shut up with the ancients so long, to celebrate on this green plot, which is life, their own defeat, and propose a better wisdom, the wisdom of the moderns. And Holofernes, the schoolmaster, who cultivates minds, and Sir Nathaniel, the curate, who cures them, and Don Armado or Don Adramadio, from the flowery heights of the new Belles Lettres, with the last refinement of Euphuism on his lips, and Antony Dull, and the country damsel and her swain, and the princess and her attendants, are all there to eke out and complete the philosophic design,—to exhibit the extant learning in its airy flights and gross descents, in its ludicrous attempt to escape from those particulars or to grapple, without loss of grandeur, those particulars of which man's life consisteth. It is the vain pretension and assumption of those faulty wordy abstractions, whose falseness and failure in practice this school is going to expose elsewhere; it is the defect of those abstractions and idealisms that the Novum Organum was invented to remedy, which is exhibited so grossly and palpably here. It is the height of those great swelling words of rhetoric and logic, in rude contrast with those actualities which the history of man is always exhibiting, which the universal nature in man is always imposing on the learned and unlearned, the profane and the reverend, the courtier and the clown, the 'king and the beggar,' the actualities which the natural history of man continues perseveringly to exhibit, in the face of those logical abstractions and those ideal schemes of man as he should be, which had been till this time the fruit of learning;—those actualities, those particulars, whose lowness the new philosophy would begin with, which the new philosophy would erect into an art or science.
The foundation of this ascent is natural history. There must be nothing omitted here, or the stairs would be unsafe. The rule in this School, as stated by the Interpreter in Chief, is, 'that there be nothing in the globe of matter, which should not be likewise in the globe of crystal or form;' that is, he explains, 'that there should not be anything in being and action, which should not be drawn and collected into contemplation and doctrine.' The lowness of matter, all the capabilities and actualities of speech and action, not of the refined only, but of the vulgar and profane, are included in the science which contemplates an historical result, and which proposes the reform of these actualities, the cure of these maladies,—which comprehends man as man in its intention,—which makes the Common Weal its end.
Science is the word that unlocks the books of this School, its gravest and its lightest, its books of loquacious prose and stately allegory, and its Book of Sports and Riddles. Science is the clue that still threads them, that never breaks, in all their departures from the decorums of literature, in their lowest descents from the refinements of society. The vulgarity is not the vulgarity of the vulgar—the inelegancy is not the spontaneous rudeness of the ill-bred—any more than its doctrine of nature is the doctrine of the unlearned. The loftiest refinements of letters, the courtliest breeding, the most exquisite conventionalities, the most regal dignities of nature, are always present in these works, to measure these abysses, flowering to their brink. Man as he is, booked, surveyed,—surveyed from the continent of nature, put down as he is in her book of kinds, not as he is from his own interior isolated conceptions only,—the universal powers and causes as they are developed in him, in his untaught affections, in his utmost sensuous darkness,—the universal principle instanced whereit is most buried, the cause in nature found;—man as he is, in his heights and in his depths, 'from his lowest note to the top of his key,'—man in his possibilities, in his actualities, in his thought, in his speech, in his book language, and in his every-day words, in his loftiest lyric tongue, in his lowest pit of play-house degradation, searched out, explained, interpreted. That is the key to the books of this Academe, who carry always on their armour, visible to those who have learned their secret, but hid under the symbol of their double worship, the device of the Hunters,—the symbol of the twin-gods,—the silver bow, or the bow that finds all. 'Seeing that she beareth two persons ... I do also otherwise shadow her.'
It is man's life, and the culture of it, erected into an art or science, that these books contain. In the lowness of the lowest, and in the aspiration of the noblest, the powers whose entire history must make the basis of a successful morality and policy are found. It is all abstracted or drawn into contemplation, 'that the precepts of cure and culture may be more rightly concluded.' 'For that which in speculative philosophy corresponds to the cause, in practical philosophy becomes the rule.'
It is not necessary to illustrate this criticism in this case, because in this case the design looks through the execution everywhere. The criticism of the Novum Organum, the criticism of the Advancement of Learning, and the criticism of Raleigh's History of the World, than which there is none finer, when once you penetrate its crust of profound erudition, is here on the surface. And the scholasticism is not more obtrusive here, the learned sock is not more ostentatiously paraded, than in some critical places in those performances; while the humour that underlies the erudition issues from a depth of learning not less profound.
As, for instance, in this burlesque of the descent of Euphuism to the prosaic detail of the human conditions, not then accommodated with a style in literature, a defect in learning which this Academy proposed to remedy. A new department in literature which began with a series of papers issued from this establishment, has since undertaken to cover the ground here indicated, the every-day human life, and reduce it to written inquiry, notwithstanding 'the lowness of the matter.'
LETTER FROM DON ARMADO TO THE KING.
King [reads], 'Great deputy, the welkin's vicegerent, and sole dominator of Navarre, my soul's earth's god, and body's fostering patron.... So it is,—besieged with sable-coloured melancholy, I did commend the black, oppressing humour to the most wholesome physick of thy health-giving air, and, as I am a gentleman, betook myself to walk. The time when? About the sixth hour: when beasts most graze, birds best peck, and men sit down to that nourishment which is called supper.'
[No one who is much acquainted with the style of the author of this letter ought to have any difficulty in identifying him here. There was a method of dramatic composition in use then, and not in this dramatic company only, which produced an amalgamation of styles. 'On a forgotten matter,' these associated authors themselves, perhaps, could not always 'make distinction of their hands.' But there are places where Raleigh's share in this 'cry of players' shows through very palpably.]
'So much for the time when. Now for the ground which; which I mean I walked upon: it is ycleped thy park. Then for the place where; where I mean I did encounter that obscene and most preposterous event, that draweth from my snow-white pen the ebon-coloured ink, which here thou beholdest, surveyest, or seest, etc....
'Thine in all compliments of devoted and heart-burning heat of duty.
'DON ADRIANO DE ARMADO.'
And in another letter from the same source, the dramatic criticism on that style of literature which it was the intention of this School 'to reform altogether' is thus continued.
... 'The magnanimous and most illustrate King Cophetua, set eye upon the pernicious and indubitate beggar Zenelophon. And it was he that might rightly say, Veni, vidi, vici; which to anatomise in the vulgar, (O base and obscure vulgar!) Videlicet, he came, saw, and overcame... Who came? the king. Why did he come? to see. Why did he see? to overcome. To whom came he? to the beggar. What saw he? the beggar. Who overcame he? the beggar. The conclusion is victory. On whose side? etc.
'Thine in the dearest design of industry.'
_Boyet. I am much deceived but I remember the style.
_Princess_. Else your memory is bad going o'er it erewhile._
Jaquenetta. Good Master Parson, be so good as to read me this letter—it was sent me from Don Armatho: I beseech you to read it.
Holofernes. [Speaking here, however, not in character but for 'the Academe.'] Fauste precor gelida quando pecus omne sub umbra Ruminat, and so forth. Ah, good old Mantuan! I may speak of thee as the traveller doth of Venice
—Vinegia, Vinegia, Chi non te vede, ei non te pregia.
Old Mantuan! Old Mantuan! Who understandeth thee not, loves thee not.—Ut re sol la mi fa.—Under pardon, Sir, what are THE CONTENTS? or, rather, as Horace says in his—What, my soul, verses?
Nath. Ay, Sir, and very learned [one would say so upon examination].
Hol. Let me have a staff, a stanza, a verse; Lege Domine.
Nath. [Reads the 'verses.']—'If love make me forsworn,' etc.
Hol. You find not the apostrophe, and so—miss the accent—[criticising the reading. It is necessary to find the apostrophe in the verses of this Academy, before you can give the accent correctly; there are other points which require to be noted also, in this refined courtier's writings, as this criticism will inform us]. Let me supervise the canzonet. Here are only numbers ratified, but for the elegancy, facility, and golden cadency of poesy, caret. Ovidius Naso was the man. And why, indeed, Naso; but for smelling out the odoriferous flowers of fancy, the jerks of invention. Imitari is nothing; so doth the hound his master, the ape his keeper, the tired horse his rider. [It was no such reading and writing as that which this Academy was going to countenance, or teach.] But, Damosella, was this directed to you?
Jaq. Ay, Sir, from one Monsieur Biron, one of the strange queen's lords.
Hol. I will over-glance the super-script. 'To the snow white hand of the most beauteous lady Rosaline.' I will look again on the intellect of the letter for the nomination of the party writing, to the person written unto (Rosaline).—[Look again.—That is the rule for the reading of letters issued from this Academy, whether they come in Don Armado's name or another's, when the point is not to 'miss the accent.'] 'Your ladyship's, in all desired employment, BIRON.' Sir Nathaniel, this Biron is one of the votaries with the king, and here he hath framed a letter to a sequent of the stranger queen's, which, accidentally or by way of progression, hath miscarried. Trip and go, my sweet; deliver this paper into the royal hand of the king. It may concern much. Stay not thy compliment, I forgive thy duty. Adieu.
Nath. Sir, you have done this in the fear of God, very religiously; and as a certain father saith—
Hol. Sir, tell me not of the father, I do fear colorable colors. But to return to the verses. Did they please you, Sir Nathaniel?
Nath. Marvellous well for the pen.
Hol. I dine to-day at the father's of a certain pupil of mine, where, if before repast, it shall please you to gratify the table with a grace, I will, on my privilege I have with the parent of the foresaid child, or pupil, undertake your ben venuto, where I will prove those verses to be very unlearned, neither savouring of poetry, wit, nor invention. I beseech your society.
Nath. And thank you, too; for society (saith the text) is the happiness of LIFE.
Hol. And, certes, the text most infallibly concludes it.—Sir, [to Dull] I do invite you too, [to hear the verses ex-criticised] you shall not say me nay: pauca verba. Away; the gentles are at their games, and we will to our recreation.
Another part of the same. After dinner.
Re-enter Holofernes, Sir Nathaniel, and Dull.
Hol. Satis quod sufficit.
Nath. I praise God for you, Sir: your reasons at dinner have been sharp and sententious; pleasant without scurrility, witty without affection, audacious without impudency, learned without opinion, and strange without heresy. I did converse this quondam day with a companion of the king's, who is intituled, nominated, or called Don Adriano de Armado.
Hol. Novi hominem tanquam te. His manner is lofty, his discourse peremptory, his tongue filed, his eye ambitious, and his general behaviour, vain, ridiculous and thrasonical. He is too picked, too spruce, too affected, too odd, and, as it were, too peregrinate, as I may call it.
Nath. A most singular and choice epithet! [Takes out his table-book.]
Hol. He draweth out the thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument, ['More matter with less art,' says the queen in Hamlet], I abhor such fantastical phantasms, such insociable and point device companions, such rackers of orthography, as to speak doubt fine when he should say doubt, etc. This is abhominable which he would call abominable; it insinuateth me of insanie; Ne intelligis, domine? to make frantic, lunatic.
Nath. Lans deo bone intelligo.
Hol. Bone—bone for bene: Priscian, a little scratched 'twill serve. [This was never meant to be printed of course; all this is understood to have been prepared only for a performance in 'a booth.']
Enter Armado, etc.
Nath. Videsne quis venit?
Ho. Video et gaudeo.
Hol. Quare Chirra not Sirrah!
But the first appearance of these two book-men, as Dull takes leave them to call them in this scene, is not less to the purpose. They come in with Antony Dull, who serves as a foil to their learning; from the moment that they open their lips they speak 'in character,' and they do not proceed far before they give us some hints of the author's purpose.
Nath. Very reverent sport truly, and done in the testimony of a good conscience.
Hol. The deer was, as you know, in sanguis, ripe as a pomewater, who now hangeth like a jewel in the ear of Coelo, the sky, the welkin, the heaven, and anon falleth like a crab on the face of terra—the soil, the land, the earth. [A-side glance at the heights and depths of the incongruities which are the subject here.]
Nath. Truly, Master Holofernes, the epithets are sweetly varied, like a scholar at the least, but, etc.....
Hol. Most barbarous intimation! [referring to Antony Dull, who has been trying to understand this learned language, and apply it to the subject of conversation, but who fails in the attempt, very much to the amusement and self-congratulation of these scholars]. Yet a kind of insinuation, as it were, in via, in way of explication [a style much in use in this school], facere, as it were, replication, or rather ostentare, to show, as it were, his inclination, after his undressed, unpolished, uneducated, unpruned, untrained, or rather unlettered, or ratherest unconfirmed fashion,—to insert again my haud credo for a deer.... Twice sod simplicity, bis coctus! Oh thou monster ignorance, how deformed dost thou look!
Nath. [explaining] Sir, he hath never fed of the dainties bred in a book; he hath not eat paper, as it were; he hath not drunk ink; his intellect is not replenished; he is only an animal—only sensible in the duller parts;
And such barren plants are set before us that we thankful should be, (Which we of taste and feeling are) for those parts that do fructify in us more than he.
For as it would ill become me to be vain, indiscreet, or a fool, So were there a patch set on learning to see HIM in a school. [That would be a new 'school,' a new 'learning,' patching the 'defect' (as it would be called elsewhere) in the old.]
Dull. You two are book-men. Can you tell me by your wit, etc.
Nath. A rare talent.
Dull. If a talent be a claw, look how he claws him with a talent.
Hol. This is a gift that I have; simple, simple; a foolish extravagant spirit, full of forms, figures, shapes, objects, ideas, apprehensions, motions, revolutions: But the gift is good in those in whom it is acute, and I am thankful for it.
Nath. Sir, I praise the Lord for you, and so may my parishioners; for their sons are well tutored by you, and their daughters profit very greatly under you; you are a good member of the COMMON-WEALTH.
He is in earnest of course. Is the Poet so too? 'What is the end of study?'—let me know.
'O they have lived long in the alms-basket of WORDS,' is the criticism on this learning with which this showman, whoever he may he, explains his exhibition of it. And surely he must be, indeed, of the school of Antony Dull, and never fed with the dainties bred in a book, who does not see what it is that is criticised here;—that it is the learning of an unlearned time, of a barbarous time, of a vain, frivolous debased, wretched time, that has been fed long—always from "the alms-basket of words." And one who is acquainted already with the style of this school, who knows already its secret signs and stamp, would not need to be told to look again on the intellect of the letter for the nomination of the party writing, to the person written to, in order to see what source this pastime comes from,—what player it is that is behind the scene here. 'Whoe'er he be, he bears a mounting mind,' and beginning in the lowness of the actual, and collecting the principles that are in all actualities, the true forms that are forms in nature, and not in man's speech only, the new IDEAS of the New Academy, the ideas that are powers, with these 'simples' that are causes, he will reconstruct fortuitous conjunctions, he will make his poems in facts; he will find his Fairy Land in her kingdom whose iron chain he wears.
'The gentles were at their games,' and the soul of new ages was beginning its re-creations.
For this is but the beginning of that 'Armada' that this Don Armado—who fights with sword and pen, in ambush and in the open field—will sweep his old enemy from the seas with yet.
O like a book of sports thou'lt read me o'er, But there's more in me than thou'lt understand.
Look how the father's face Lives in his issue; even so the race Of Shake-spear's mind and manners brightly shines In his well turn'd and true filed lines, In each of which he seems to shake a lance, As brandished in the eyes of—[what?—]Ignorance!
Ignorance!—yes, that was the word.
It is the Prince of that little Academe that sits in the Tower here now. It is in the Tower that that little Academe holds its 'conferences' now. There is a little knot of men of science who contrive to meet there. The associate of Raleigh's studies, the partner of his plans and toils for so many years, Hariot, too scientific for his age, is one of these. It is in the Tower that Raleigh's school is kept now. The English youth, the hope of England, follow this teacher still. 'Many young gentlemen still resort to him.' Gilbert Harvey is one of this school. 'None but my father would keep such a bird in such a cage,' cries one of them—that Prince of Wales through whom the bloodless revolution was to have been accomplished; and a Queen seeks his aid and counsel there still.
It is in the Tower now that we must look for the sequel of that holiday performance of the school. It is the genius that had made its game of that old love's labour's lost that is at work here still, still bent on making a lore of life and love, still ready to spend its rhetoric on things, and composing its metres with them.
Nor shall death brag thou wanderest in his shade, When in eternal lines to time thou growest.
He is building and manning new ships in his triumphant fleet. But they are more warlike than they were. The papers that this Academe issues now have the stamp of the Tower on them. 'The golden shower,' that 'flowed from his fruitful head of his love's praise' flows no more. Fierce bitter things are flung forth from that retreat of learning, while the kingly nature has not yet fully mastered its great wrongs. The 'martial hand' is much used in the compositions of this school indeed for a long time afterwards.
Fitter perhaps to thunder martial stower When thee so list thy tuneful thoughts to raise,
said the partner of his verse long before.
With rage Or influence chide or cheer the drooping stage,
says his protege.
It was while this arrested soldier of the human emancipation sat amid his books and papers, in old Julius Caesar's Tower, or in the Tower of that Conqueror, 'commonly so called,' that the 'readers of the wiser sort' found, 'thrown in at their study windows,' writings, as if they came 'from several citizens, wherein Caesar's ambition was obscurely glanced at' and thus the whisper of the Roman Brutus 'pieced them out.'
Brutus thou sleep'st; awake, and see thyself. Shall Rome [soft—'thus must I piece it out.'] Shall Rome stand under one man's awe? What Rome? * * * * * The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves that we are underlings. * * * * * Age, thou art shamed.
It was while he sat there, that the audiences of that player who was bringing forth, on 'the banks of Thames,' such wondrous things out of his treasury then, first heard the Roman foot upon their stage, and the long-stifled, and pent-up speech of English freedom, bursting from the old Roman patriot's lips.
Cassius. And let us swear our resolution.
Brutus. No, not an oath: If not the face of men, The sufferance of our soul's, the time's abuse, If these be motives weak, break off betimes, And every man hence to his idle bed; So let high-sighted tyranny range on, Till each man drop by lottery.
It was while he sat there, that the player who did not write his speeches, said—
Nor stony tower, nor walls of beaten brass, Nor airless dungeon, nor strong links of iron, Can be retentive to the strength of spirit; If I know this, know all the world beside, That part of tyranny that I do bear, I can shake off at pleasure.
And why should Caesar be a tyrant then? Poor Man! I know he would not be a wolf, But that he sees the Romans are but sheep: He were no lion, were not Romans hinds.
But I, perhaps, speak this Before a willing bondman.
Hamlet. My lord,—you played once in the university, you say?
Polonius. That did I, my lord; and was accounted a good actor.
Hamlet. And what did you enact?
Polonius. I did enact Julius Caesar. I was killed i'the Capitol; Brutus killed me.
Hamlet. It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf there.—Be the players ready?
Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light. For the law of writ, and the liberty. These are the only men.
Hamlet. Why do you go about to recover the wind of me, as if you would drive me into a toil?
Guild. O my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too unmannerly.
Hamlet. I do not well understand that. Will you play upon this pipe?
Guild. My lord, I cannot.
Hamlet. I pray you.
Guild. Believe me, I cannot.
Hamlet. I do beseech you.
Guild. I know no touch of it, my lord.
Hamlet. 'Tis as easy as lying. Govern these ventages with your fingers and thumb, give it breath with your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent music. Look you, these are the stops.
Guild. But these cannot I command to any utterance of harmony: I have not the SKILL.
Hamlet. Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of ME? You would play upon ME; you would seem to know my stops; you would pluck out the heart of MY MYSTERY; you would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my key; and there is much music, excellent voice in this little organ, yet cannot you make it speak. 'Sblood! do you think I AM EASIER TO BE PLAYED ON THAN A PIPE? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, you cannot PLAY upon me.
Hamlet. Why did you laugh when I said, Man delights not me?
Guild. To think, my lord, if you delight not in man, what lenten entertainment THE PLAYERS shall receive from you. We coted them on the way, and thither are they coming to offer you—SERVICE.
THE ELIZABETHAN ART OF DELIVERY AND TRADITION.
MICHAEL DE MONTAIGNE'S 'PRIVATE AND RETIRED ARTS.'
And thus do we of wisdom and of reach, With windlaces and with assays of bias, By indirections, find directions out; So by my former lecture and advice, Shall you, my son.—Hamlet.
ASCENT FROM PARTICULARS TO THE 'HIGHEST PARTS OF SCIENCES,' BY THE ENIGMATIC METHOD ILLUSTRATED.
Single, I'll resolve you.—Tempest.
Observe his inclination in yourself.—Hamlet.
For ciphers, they are commonly in letters, but may be in words. Advancement of Learning.
The fact that a Science of Practice, not limited to Physics and the Arts based on the knowledge of physical laws, but covering the whole ground of the human activity, and limited only by the want and faculty of man, required, in the reigns of Elizabeth and James the First, some special and profoundly artistic methods of 'delivery and tradition,' would not appear to need much demonstration to one acquainted with the peculiar features of that particular crisis in the history of the English nation.
And certainly any one at all informed in regard to the condition of the world at the time in which this science,—which is the new practical science of the modern ages,—makes its first appearance in history,—any one who knows what kind of a public opinion, what amount of intelligence in the common mind the very fact of the first appearance of such a science on the stage of the human affairs presupposes,—any one who will stop to consider what kind of a public it was to which such a science had need as yet to address itself, when that engine for the diffusion of knowledge, which has been battering the ignorance and stupidity of the masses of men ever since, was as yet a novel invention, when all the learning of the world was still the learning of the cell and the cloister, when the practice of the world was still in all departments, unscientific,—any one at least who will stop to consider the nature of the 'preconceptions' which a science that is none other than the universal science of practice, must needs encounter in its principal and nobler fields, will hardly need to be told that if produced at all under such conditions, it must needs be produced covertly. Who does not know, beforehand, that such a science would have to concede virtually, for a time, the whole ground of its nobler fields to the preoccupations it found on them, as the inevitable condition of its entrance upon the stage of the human affairs in any capacity, as the basis of any toleration of its claim to dictate to the men of practice in any department of their proceedings.
That that little 'courtly company' of Elizabethan scholars, in which this great enterprise for the relief of man's estate was supposed in their own time to have had its origin, was composed of wits and men of learning who were known, in their own time, to have concealed their connection with the works on which their literary fame chiefly depended—that that 'glorious Willy,' who finds these forbidden fields of science all open to his pastime, was secretly claimed by this company—that a style of 'delivery' elaborately enigmatical, borrowed in part from the invention of the ancients, and the more recent use of the middle ages, but largely modified and expressly adapted to this exigency, was employed in the compositions of this school, both in prose and verse, a style capable of conveying not merely a double, but a triple significance; a style so capacious in its concealments, so large in its 'cryptic,' as to admit without limitation the whole scope of this argument, and so involved as to conceal in its involutions, all that was then forbidden to appear,—this has been proved in that part of the work which contains the historical key to this delivery.
We have also incontestable historical evidence of the fact, that the man who was at the head of this new conjunction in speculation and practice in its more immediate historical developments,—the scholar who was most openly concerned in his own time in the introduction of those great changes in the condition of the world, which date their beginning from this time, was himself primarily concerned in the invention of this art. That this great political chief, this founder of new polities and inventor of new social arts, who was at the same time the founder of a new school in philosophy, was understood in his own time to have found occasion for the use of such an art, in his oral as well as in his written communications with his school;—that he was connected with a scientific association, which was known to have concealed under the profession of a curious antiquarian research, an inquiry into the higher parts of sciences which the government of that time was not disposed to countenance;—that in the opinion of persons who had the best opportunity of becoming acquainted with the facts at the time, this inventor of the art was himself beheaded, chiefly on account of the discovery of his use of it in one of his gravest literary works;—all this has been produced already, as matter of historic record merely. All this remains in the form of detailed contemporary statement, which suffices to convey, if not the fact that the forbidden parts of sciences were freely handled in the discussions of this school, and not in their secret oral discussions only, but in their great published works,—if not that, at least the fact that such was the impression and belief of persons living at the time, whether any ground existed for it or not.
But the arts by which these new men of science contrived to evade the ignorance and the despotic limitations of their time, the inventions with which they worked to such good purpose upon their own time, in spite of its restrictions and oppositions, and which enable them to 'outstretch their span,' and prolong and perpetuate their plan for the advancement of their kind, and compel the future ages to work with them to the fulfilment of its ends;—the arts by which these great original naturalists undertook to transfer in all their unimpaired splendour and worth, the collections they had made in the nobler fields of their science to the ages that would be able to make use of them;—these are the arts that we shall have need to master, if we would unlock the legacy they have left to us.
The proof of the existence of this special art of delivery and tradition, and the definition of the objects for which it was employed, has been derived thus far chiefly from sources of evidence exterior to the works themselves; but the inventors of it and those who made use of it in their own speech and writings, are undoubtedly the persons best qualified to give us authentic and lively information on this subject; and we are now happily in a position to appreciate the statements which they have been at such pains to leave us, for the sake of clearing up those parts of their discourse which were necessarily obscured at the time. Now that we have in our hands that key of Times which they have recommended to our use, that knowledge of times which 'gives great light in many cases to true interpretations,' it is not possible any longer to overlook these passages, or to mistake their purport.
But before we enter upon the doctrine of Art which was published in the first great recognized work of this philosophy, it will be necessary to produce here some extracts from a book which was not originally published in England, or in the English language, but one which was brought out here as an exotic, though it is in fact one of the great original works of this school, and one of its boldest and most successful issues; a work in which the new grounds of the actual experience and life of men, are not merely inclosed and propounded for written inquiry, but openly occupied. This is not the place to explain this fact, though the continental relations of this school, and other circumstances already referred to in the life of its founder, will serve to throw some light upon it; but on account of the bolder assertions which the particular form of writing and publication rendered possible in this case, and for the sake also of the more lively exhibition of the art itself which accompanies and illustrates these assertions in this instance, it appears on the whole excusable to commence our study of the special Art for the delivery and tradition of knowledge in those departments which science was then forbidden on pain of death to enter, with that exhibition of it which is contained in this particular work, trusting to the progress of the extracts themselves to apologize to the intelligent reader for any thing which may seem to require explanation in this selection.
It is only necessary to premise, that this work is one of the many works of this school, in which a grave, profoundly scientific design is concealed under the disguise of a gay, popular, attractive form of writing, though in this case the audience is from the first to a certain extent select. It has no platform that takes in—as the plays do, with their more glaring attractions and their lower and broader range of inculcation,—the populace. There is no pit in this theatre. It is throughout a book for men of liberal culture; but it is a book for the world, and for men of the world, and not for the cloister merely, and the scholar. But this, too, has its differing grades of readers, from its outer court of lively pastime and brilliant aimless chat to that esoteric chamber, where the abstrusest parts of sciences are waiting for those who will accept the clues, and patiently ascend to them.
The work is popular in its form, but it is inwoven throughout with a thread of lurking meanings so near the surface, and at times so boldly obtruded, that it is difficult to understand how it could ever have been read at all without occasioning the inquiry which it was intended to occasion under certain conditions, but which it was necessary for this society to ward off from their works, except under these limitations, at the time when they were issued. For these inner meanings are everywhere pointed and emphasized with the most bold and vivid illustration, which lies on the surface of the work, in the form of stories, often without any apparent relevance in that exterior connection—brought in, as it would seem, in mere caprice or by the loosest threads of association. They lie, with the 'allegations' which accompany them, strewn all over the surface of the work, like 'trap' on 'sand-stone,' telling their story to the scientific eye, and beckoning the philosophic explorer to that primeval granite of sciences that their vein will surely lead to. But the careless observer, bent on recreation, observes only a pleasing feature in the landscape, one that breaks happily its threatened dulness; the reader, reading this book as books are wont to be read, finds nothing in this phenomenon to excite his curiosity. And the author knows him and his ways so well, that he is able to foresee that result, and is not afraid to trust to it in the case of those whose scrutiny he is careful to avoid. For he is one who counts largely on the carelessness, or the indifference, or the stupidity of those whom he addresses. There is no end to his confidence in that. He is perpetually staking his life on it. Neither is he willing to trust to the clues which these unexplained stories might seem of themselves to offer to the studious eye, to engage the attention of the reader—the reader whose attention he is bent on securing. Availing himself of one of those nooks of discourse, which he is at no loss for the means of creating when the purpose of his essaie requires it, he beckons the confidential reader aside, and thus explains his method to him, outright, in terms which admit of but one construction. 'Neither these stories,' he says, 'nor my allegations do always serve simply for example, authority, or ornament; I do not only regard them for the use I make of them; they carry sometimes, besides what I apply them to, the seeds of a richer and bolder matter, and sometimes, collaterally, a more delicate sound, both to me myself,—who will say no more about it in this place' [we shall hear more of it in another place, however, and where the delicate collateral sounds will not be wanting]—'both to me myself, and to others who happen to be of my ear.'
To the reader, who does indeed happen to be of his ear, to one who has read the 'allegations' and stories that he speaks of, and the whole work, and the works connected with it, by means of that knowledge of the inner intention, and of the method to which he alludes, this passage would of course convey no new intelligence. But will the reader, to whom the views here presented are yet too new to seem credible, endeavour to imagine or invent for himself any form of words, in which the claim already made in regard to the style in which the great original writers of this age and the founders of the new science of the human life were compelled to infold their doctrine, could have been, in the case of this one at least, more distinctly asserted. Here is proof that one of them, one who counted on an audience too, did find himself compelled to infold his richer and bolder meanings in the manner described. All that need be claimed at present in regard to the authorship of this sentence is, that it is written by one whose writings, in their higher intention, have ceased to be understood, for lack of the 'ear' to which his bolder and richer meanings are addressed, for lack of the ear, to which the collateral and more delicate sounds which his words sometimes carry with them are perceptible; and that it is written by a philosopher whose learning and aims and opinions, down to the slightest points of detail, are absolutely identical with those of the principal writers of this school.
But let us look at a few of the stories which he ventures to introduce so emphatically, selecting only such as can be told in a sentence or two. Let us take the next one that follows this explanation—the story in the very next paragraph to it. The question is apparently of Cicero, of his style, of his vanity, of his supposed care for his fame in future ages, of his real disposition and objects.
'Away with that eloquence that so enchants us with its harmony, that we should more study it than things' [what new soul of philosophy is this, then, already?]—'unless you will affirm that of Cicero to be of so supreme perfection as to form a body of itself. And of him, I shall further add one story we read of to this purpose, wherein his nature will much more manifestly be laid open to us' [than in that seeming care for his fame in future ages, or in that lower object of style, just dismissed so scornfully].
'He was to make an oration in public, and found himself a little straitened in time, to fit his words to his mouth as he had a mind to do, when Eros, one of his slaves, brought him word that the audience was deferred till the next day, at which he was so ravished with joy that he enfranchised him.'
The word 'time'—here admits of a double rendering whereby the author's aims are more manifestly laid open; and there is also another word in this sentence which carries a 'delicate sound' with it, to those who have met this author in other fields, and who happen to be of his counsel. But lest the stories of themselves should still seem flat and pointless, or trivial and insignificant to the uninstructed ear, it may be necessary to interweave them with some further 'allegations on this subject,' which the author assumes, or appears to assume, in his own person.
'I write my book for few men, and for few years. Had it been matter of duration, I should have put it into a better language. According to the continual variation that ours has been subject to hitherto [and we know who had a similar view on this point], who can expect that the present form of language should be in use fifty years hence. It slips every day through our fingers; and since I was born, is altered above one half. We say that it is now perfect: every age says the same of the language it speaks. I shall hardly trust to that so long as it runs away and changes as it does.
''Tis for good and useful writings to nail and rivet it to them, and its reputation will go according to the fortune of our state. For which reason, I am not afraid to insert herein several private articles, which will spend their use amongst the men now living, AND THAT CONCERN THE PARTICULAR KNOWLEDGE OF SOME WHO WILL SEE FURTHER INTO THEM THAN THE COMMON READER.' But that the inner reading of these private articles—that reading which lay farther in—to which he invites the attention of those whom it concerns—was not expected to spend its use among the men then living, that which follows might seem to imply. It was that wrapping of them, it was that gross superscription which 'the fortune of our state was likely to make obsolete ere long,' this author thought, as we shall see if we look into his prophecies a little. 'I will not, after all, as I often hear dead men spoken of, that men should say of me: "He judged, and LIVED SO and SO. Could he have spoken when he was dying, he would have said so or so. I knew him better than any."
'So our virtues Lie in the interpretation of the times,'
'says the unfortunate Tullus Aufidius, in the act of conducting a Volscian army against the infant Roman state, bemoaning himself upon the conditions of his historic whereabouts, and beseeching the sympathy and favourable constructions of posterity—
So our virtues Lie in the interpretation of the times; And power unto itself most commendable Hath not a tomb so evident as a hair To extol what it hath done.
'The times,' says Lord Bacon, speaking in reference to books particularly, though he also recommends the same key for the reading of lives, 'the times in many cases give great light to true interpretations.'
'Now as much as decency permits,' continues the other, anticipating here that speech which he might be supposed to have been anxious to make in defence of his posthumous reputation, could he have spoken when he was dying, and forestalling that criticism which he foresaw—that odious criticism of posterity on the discrepancy between his life and his judgment—'Now as much as decency permits, I here discover my inclinations and affections. If any observe, he will find that I have either told or designed to tell ALL. What I cannot express I point out with my finger.
'There was never greater circumspection and military prudence than sometimes is seen among US; can it be that men are afraid to lose themselves by the way, that they reserve themselves to the end of the game?'
'There needs no more but to see a man promoted to dignity, though we knew him but three days before a man of no mark, yet an image of grandeur and ability insensibly steals into our opinion, and we persuade ourselves that growing in reputation and attendants, he is also increased in merit':—
Hamlet. Do the boys carry it away?
Ros. Ay, that they do, my lord. Hercules and his load too.
Hamlet. It is not very strange; for my uncle is king of Denmark, and those that would make mouths at him while my father lived, give twenty, forty, fifty, a hundred ducats a-piece for his picture in little. 'Sblood, there is something in this, more than natural [talking of the supernatural], if philosophy could find it out.
'But,' our prose philosopher, whose mind is running much on the same subjects, continues 'if it happens so that he [this favourite of fortune] falls again, and is mixed with the common crowd, every one inquires with wonder into the cause of his having been hoisted so high. Is it he? say they: did he know no more than this when he was in PLACE?' ['change places ... robes and furred gowns hide all.'] Do princes satisfy themselves with so little? Truly we were in good hands! That which I myself adore in kings, is [note it] the crowd of the adorers. All reverence and submission is due to them, except that of the understanding; my reason is not to bow and bend, 'tis my knees' 'I will not do't' says another, who is in this one's counsels,
I will not do't Lest I surcease to honour mine own truth, And by my body's action, teach my mind A most inherent baseness. Coriolanus.
'Antisthenes one day entreated the Athenians to give orders that their asses might be employed in tilling the ground,—to which it was answered, "that those animals were not destined to such a service." "That's all one," replied he; "it only sticks at your command; for the most ignorant and incapable men you employ in your commands of war, immediately become worthy enough because—YOU EMPLOY THEM."'
There mightst thou behold the great image of authority. A dog's obeyed in office.—Lear.
For thou dost know, oh Damon dear, This realm dismantled was Of Jove himself; and now reigns here, A very—very—Peacock. Horatio. You might have rhymed. Hamlet.
'to which,' continues this political philosopher,—that is, to which preceding anecdote—containing such unflattering intimations with regard to the obstinacy of nature, in the limits she has set to the practical abilities of those animals, not enlarging their natural gifts out of respect to the Athenian selection (an anecdote which supplies a rhyme to Hamlet's verse, and to many others from the same source)—'to which the custom of so many people, who canonize the KINGS they have chosen out of their own body, and are not content only to honour, but adore them, comes very near. Those of Mexico [for instance, it would not of course do to take any nearer home], after the ceremonies of their king's coronation are finished, dare no more look him in the face; but, as if they deified him by his royalty, among the oaths they make him take to maintain their religion and laws, to be valiant, just and mild; he moreover swears,—to make the sun run his course in his wonted light,—to drain the clouds at a fit season,—to confine rivers within their channels,—and to cause all things necessary for his people to be borne by the earth.' '(They told me I was everything. But when the rain came to wet me once, when the wind would not peace at my bidding,' says Lear, 'there I found them, there I smelt them out.)' This, in connection with the preceding anecdote, to which, in the opinion of this author, it comes properly so very near, may be classed of itself among the suggestive stories above referred to; but the bearing of these quotations upon the particular question of style, which must determine the selection here, is set forth in that which follows.
It should be stated, however, that in a preceding paragraph, the author has just very pointedly expressed it as his opinion, that men who are supposed, by common consent, to be so far above the rest of mankind in their single virtue and judgment, that they are permitted to govern them at their discretion, should by no means undertake to maintain that view, by exhibiting that supposed kingly and divine faculty in the way of speech or argument; thus putting themselves on a level with their subjects, and by meeting them on their own ground, with their own weapons, giving occasion for comparisons, perhaps not altogether favourable to that theory of a superlative and divine difference which the doctrine of a divine right to rule naturally presupposes. 'For,' he says, 'neither is it enough for those who govern and command us, and have all the world in their hand, to have a common understanding, and to be able to do what the rest can' [their faculty of judgment must match their position, for if it be only a common one, the difference will make it despised]: 'they are very much below us, if they be not infinitely above us. And, therefore, silence is to them not only a countenance of respect and gravity, but very often of good profit and policy too; for, Megabysus going to see Apelles in his painting room, stood a great while without speaking a word, and at last began to talk of his paintings, for which he received this rude reproof. 'Whilst thou wast silent, thou seemedst to be something great, by reason of thy chains and pomp; but now that we have heard thee speak, there is not the meanest boy in my shop that does not despise thee.' But after the author's subsequent reference to 'those animals' that were to be made competent by a vote of the Athenian people for the work of their superiors, to which he adds the custom of people who canonize the kings they have chosen out of their own body, which comes so near, he goes on thus:—I differ from this common fashion, and am more apt to suspect capacity when I see it accompanied with grandeur of fortune and public applause. We are to consider of what advantage it is, to speak when one pleases, to choose the subject one will speak of—[an advantage not common with authors then]—TO INTERRUPT OR CHANGE OTHER MEN'S ARGUMENTS, WITH A MAGISTERIAL AUTHORITY, to protect oneself from the opposition of others, by a nod, a smile, or silence, in the presence of an assembly that trembles with reverence and respect. A man of a prodigious fortune, coming to give his judgment upon some slight dispute that was foolishly set on foot at his table, began in these words:—'It can only be a liar or a fool that will say otherwise than so and so.' 'Pursue this philosophical point with a dagger in your hand.'
Here is an author who does contrive to pursue his philosophical points, however, dagger or no dagger, wherever they take him. By putting himself into the trick of singularity, and affecting to be a mere compound of eccentricities and oddities, neither knowing nor caring what it is that he is writing about, and dashing at haphazard into anything as the fit takes him,—'Let us e'en fly at anything,' says Hamlet,—by assuming, in short, the disguise of the elder Brutus; and, on account of a similar necessity, there is no saying what he cannot be allowed to utter with impunity. Under such a cover it is, that he inserts the passages already quoted, which have lain to this hour without attracting the attention of critics, unpractised happily, and unlearned also, in the subtleties which tyrannies—such tyrannies—at least generate; and under this cover it is, that he can venture now on those astounding political disquisitions, which he connects with the complaint of the restrictions and embarrassments which the presence of a man of prodigious fortune at the table occasions, when an argument, trivial or otherwise, happens to be going on there. Under this cover, he can venture to bring in here, in this very connection, and to the very table, even of this man of prodigious fortune, pages of the freest political discussion, containing already the finest analysis of the existing political 'situation,' so full of dark and lurid portent, to the eye of the scientific statesman, to whom, even then, already under the most intolerable restrictions of despotism, of the two extremes of social evil, that which appeared to be the most terrible, and the most to be guarded against, in the inevitable political changes then at hand, was—not the consolidation but the dissolution of the state.
For already the horizon of that political oversight included, not the eventualities of the English Revolutions only, but the darker contingencies of those later political and social convulsions, from whose soundless whirlpools, men spring with joy to the hardest sharpest ledge of tyranny; or hail with joy and national thanksgiving the straw that offers to land them on it. Already the scientific statesman of the Elizabethan age could say, casting an eye over Christendom as it stood then, 'That which most threatens us is, not an alteration in the entire and solid mass, but its dissipation and divulsion.'
It is after pages of the freest philosophical discussion, that he arrives at this conclusion—discussion, in which the historical elements and powers are for the first time scientifically recognized and treated throughout with the hand of the new master. For this is a philosopher, who is able to receive into his philosophy the fact, that out of the most depraved and vicious social materials, by the inevitable operation of the universal natural laws, there will, perhaps, result a social adhesion and predominance of powers—a social 'whole,' more capable of maintaining itself than any that Plato or Aristotle, from the heights of their abstractions, could have invented for them. He ridicules, indeed, those ideal politics of antiquity as totally unfit for practical realisation, and admits that though the question as to that which is absolutely the best form of government might be of some value in a new world, the basis of all alterations in existing governments should be the fact, that we take a world already formed to certain customs, and do not beget it, as Pyrrha or Cadmus did theirs, and by what means soever we may have the privilege to rebuild and reform it anew, we can hardly writhe it from its wonted bent, but we shall break all. For the subtlest principles of the philosophy of things are introduced into this discussion, and the boldest applications of the Shakspere muse are repeated in it.
'That is the way to lay all flat,' cries the philosophic poet in the Roman play, opposing on the part of the Conservatist, the violence of an oppressed people, struggling for new forms of government, and bringing out fully, along with their claims, the anti-revolutionary side of the question. 'That which tempts me out on these journeys,' continues this foreign philosopher, speaking in his usual ambiguous terms of his rambling excursive habits and eccentricities of proceedings, glancing also, perhaps, at his outlandish tastes—'that which tempts me out on these journeys, is unsuitableness to the present manners of OUR STATE. I could easily console myself with this corruption in reference to the public interest, but not to my own: I am in particular too much oppressed:—for, in my neighbourhood we are of late by the long libertinage of our civil wars grown old in so riotous a form of state, that in earnest 'tis a wonder how it can subsist. In fine, I see by our example, that the society of men is maintained and held together at what price soever; in what condition soever they are placed they will close and stick together [see the doctrine of things and their original powers in the "Novum Organum"]—moving and heaping up themselves, as uneven bodies, that shuffled together without order, find of themselves means to unite and settle. King Philip mustered up a rabble of the most wicked and incorrigible rascals he could pick out, and put them altogether in a city which he had built for that purpose, which bore their name; I believe that they, even from vices, erected a government among them, and a commodious and just society.'
'Nothing presses so hard upon a state as innovation'; and let the reader note here, how the principle which has predominated historically in the English Revolution, the principle which the fine Frankish, half Gallic genius, with all its fire and artistic faculty, could not strike instinctively or empirically, in its political experiments—it is well to note, how this distinctive element of the English Revolution—that revolution which is still in progress, with its remedial vitalities—already speaks beforehand, from the lips of this foreign Elizabethan Revolutionist. 'Nothing presses so hard upon a state as innovation; change only gives form to injustice and tyranny. WHEN ANY PIECE IS OUT OF ORDER IT MAY BE PROPPED, one may prevent and take care that the decay and corruption NATURAL TO ALL THINGS, do not carry us too far from our beginnings and principles; but to undertake to found so great a mass anew, and to change the foundations of so vast a building, is for them to do who to make clean, efface, who would reform particular defects by a universal confusion, and cure diseases by death.' Surely, one may read in good Elizabethan English passages which savor somewhat of this policy. One would say that the principle was in fact identical, as, for instance, in this case. 'Sir Francis Bacon (who was always for moderate counsels), when one was speaking of such a reformation of the Church of England, as would in effect make it no church, said thus to him:—'Sir, the subject we talk of is the eye of England, and if there be a speck or two in the eye, we endeavour to take them off; but he were a strange oculist who would pull out the eye.' [And here is another writer who seems to be taking, on this point and others, very much the same view of the constitution and vitality of states, about these times:—
He's a disease that must be cut away. Oh, he's a limb that has but a disease; Mortal to cut it off; to cure it, easy.]
But our Gascon philosopher goes on thus, with his Gascon inspirations: and these sportive notions, struck off at a heat, these careless intuitions, these fine new practical axioms of scientific politics, appear to be every whit as good as if they had been sifted through the scientific tables of the Novum Organum. They are, in fact, the identical truth which the last vintage of the Novum Organum yields on this point. 'The world is unapt for curing itself; it is so impatient of any thing that presses it, that it thinks of nothing but disengaging itself, at what price soever. We see, by a thousand examples, that it generally cures itself to its cost. The discharge of a present evil is no cure, if a general amendment of condition does not follow; the surgeon's end is not only to cut away the dead flesh,—that is but the progress of his cure;—he has a care over and above, to fill up the wound with better and more natural flesh, and to restore the member to its due state. Whoever only proposes to himself to remove that which offends him, falls short; for good does not necessarily succeed evil; another evil may succeed, and a worse, as it happened in Caesar's killers, who brought the republic to such a pass, that they had reason to repent their meddling with it.' 'I fear there will a worse one come in his place,' says a fellow in Shakespear's crowd, at the first Caesar's funeral; and that his speech made the moral of the piece, we shall see in the course of this study.
But though the frantic absolutisms and irregularities of that 'old riotous form of military government,' which the long civil wars had generated, seemed of themselves to threaten speedy dissolution, this old Gascon prophet, with his inexhaustible fund of English shrewdness, and sound English sense, underlying all his Gasconading, by no means considers the state as past the statesman's care: 'after all, we are not, perhaps, at the last gasp,' he says. 'The conservation of states is a thing that in all likelihood surpasses our understanding: a civil government is, as Plato says, "a mighty and powerful thing, and hard to be dissolved." "States, as great engines, move slowly," says Lord Bacon; "and are not so soon put out of frame";—that is, so soon as "the resolution of particular persons," which is his reason for producing his moral philosophy, or rather his moral science, as his engine for attack upon the state, a science which concerns the government of every man over himself; "for, as in Egypt, the seven good years sustained the seven bad; so governments, for a time well-grounded, do bear out errors following."' But this is the way that this Gascon philosopher records his conclusions on the same subject. 'Every thing that totters does not fall. The contexture of so great a body holds by more nails than one. It holds even by its antiquity, like old buildings from which the foundations are worn away by time, without rough cast or cement, which yet live or support themselves by their own weight. Moreover, it is not rightly to go to work to reconnoitre only the flank and the fosse, to judge of the security of a place; it must be examined which way approaches can be made to it, AND IN WHAT CONDITION THE ASSAILANT IS—that is the question. 'Few vessels sink with their own weight, and without some exterior violence. Let us every way cast our eyes. Every thing about us totters. In all the great states, both of Christendom and elsewhere, that are known to us, if you will but look, you will there see evident threats of alteration and ruin. Astrologers need not go to heaven to foretell, as they do, GREAT REVOLUTIONS' [this is the speech of the Elizabethan age—'great revolutions'] 'and imminent mutations.' [This is the new kind of learning and prophecy; there was but one source of it open then, that could yield axioms of this kind; for this is the kind that Lord Bacon tells us the head-spring of sciences must be visited for.] 'But conformity is a quality antagonist to DISSOLUTION. For my part, I despair not, and fancy I perceive ways to save us.'
And surely this is one of the inserted private articles, before mentioned, which may, or may not be, 'designed to spend their use among the men now living'; but 'which concern the particular knowledge of some who will see further into them than the common reader.' If there had been a 'London Times' going then, and this old outlandish Gascon Antic had been an English statesman preparing this article as a leader for it, the question of the Times could hardly have been more roundly dealt with, or with a clearer northern accent.
But it is high time for him to bethink himself, and 'draw his old cloak about him'; for, after all, this so just and profound a view of so grave a subject, proceeds from one who has no aims, no plan, no learning, no memory;—a vain, fantastic egotist, who writes only because he will be talking, and talking of himself above all; who is not ashamed to attribute to himself all sorts of mad inconsistent humours, and to contradict himself on every page, if thereby he can only win your eye, or startle your curiosity, and induce you to follow him. After so long and grave a discussion, suddenly it occurs to him that it is time for a little miscellaneous confidential chat about himself, and those certain oddities of his which he does not wish you to lose sight of altogether; and it is time, too, for another of those stories, which serve to divert the attention when it threatens to become too fixed, and break up and enliven the dull passages, besides having that other purpose which he speaks of so frankly. And although this whole discussion is not without a direct bearing upon that particular topic, with which it is here connected, inasmuch as the political situation, which is so clearly exhibited, is precisely that of the Elizabethan scholar, it is chiefly this little piece of confidential chat with which it closes, and its significance in that connection, which gives the rest its insertion here.
For suddenly he recollects himself, and stops short to express the fear that he may have written something similar to this elsewhere; and he gives you to understand—not all at once—but by a series of strokes, that too bold a repetition here, of what he has said elsewhere might be attended, to him, with serious consequences; and he begs you to note, as he does in twenty other passages and stories here and elsewhere, that his style is all hampered with considerations such as these—that instead of merely thinking of making a good book, and presenting his subjects in their clearest and most effective form for the reader;—a thing in itself sufficiently laborious, as other authors find to their cost, he is all the time compelled to weigh his words with reference to such points as this. He must be perpetually on his guard that the identity of that which he presents here, and that which he presents elsewhere, under other and very different forms (in much graver forms perhaps, and perhaps in others not so grave), shall no where become so glaring as to attract popular attention, while he is willing and anxious to keep that identity or connection constantly present to the apprehension of the few, for whom he tells us his book—that is, this book within the book—is written.
'I fear in these reveries of mine,' he continues, suspending at last suddenly this bold and continuous application to the immediate political emergency of those philosophical principles which he has exhibited in the abstract, in their common and universal form, elsewhere; 'I fear, in these reveries of the treachery of my memory, lest by inadvertence it should make me write the same thing twice. Now I here set down nothing new, these are common thoughts, and having per-adventure conceived them a hundred times, I am afraid I have set them down somewhere else already. Repetition is everywhere troublesome, though it were in Homer, but 'tis ruinous in things that have only a superficial and transitory SHOW. I do not love inculcation, even in the most profitable things, as in Seneca, and the practice of his Stoical school displeases me of repeating upon every subject and at length, THE PRINCIPLES and PRESUPPOSITIONS THAT SERVE IN GENERAL, and always to re-allege anew;' that is, under the particular divisions of the subject, common and universal reasons. 'What I cannot express I point out with my finger,' he tells you elsewhere, but it is thus that he continues here.
'My memory grows worse and worse every day. I must fain for the time to come (collateral sounds), for hitherto, thank God, nothing has happened much amiss, to avoid all preparation, for fear of tying myself to some obligation upon which I must be forced to insist. To be tied and bound to a thing puts me quite out, and especially where I have to depend upon so weak an instrument as my memory. I never could read this story without being offended at it, with as it were a personal and natural resentment.' The reader will note that the question here is of style, or method, and of this author's style in particular, and of his special embarrassments.
'Lyncestes accused of conspiracy against Alexander, the day that he was brought out before the army, according to the custom, to be heard in his defence, had prepared a studied speech, of which, haggling and stammering, he pronounced some words. As he was becoming more perplexed and struggling with his memory, and trying to recollect himself, the soldiers that stood nearest killed him with their spears, looking upon his confusion and silence as a confession of his guilt: very fine, indeed! The place, the spectators, the expectation, would astound a man even though were there no object in his mind but to speak well; but WHAT when 'tis an harangue upon which his life depends?' You that happen to be of my ear, it is my style that we are speaking of, and there is my story.
'For my part the very being tied to what I am to say, is enough to loose me from it'—that is the cause of his wandering—'The more I trust to my memory, the more do I put myself out of my own power, so much as to find it in my own countenance, and have sometimes been very much put to it to conceal the slavery wherein I was bound, whereas my design is to manifest in speaking a perfect nonchalance, both of face and accent, and casual and unpremeditated motions, as rising from present occasions, choosing rather to say nothing to purpose, than to show that I came prepared to speak well; a thing especially unbecoming a man of my profession. The preparation begets a great deal more expectation than it will satisfy; a man very often absurdly strips himself to his doublet to leap no further than he would have done in his gown.' [Perhaps the reflecting scholar will recollect to have seen an instance of this magnificent preparation for saying something to the purpose, attended with similarly lame conclusions; but, if he does not, the story which follows may tend to refresh his memory on this point.] 'It is recorded of the orator Curio, that when he proposed the division of his oration into three or four parts, it often happened either that he forgot some one, or added one or two more.' A much more illustrious speaker, who spoke under circumstances not very unlike those in which the poor conspirator above noted made his haggling and fatal attempts at oratory, is known to have been guilty of a similar oversight; for, having invented a plan of universal science, designed for the relief of the human estate, he forgot the principal application of it. But this author says, I have always avoided falling into this inconvenience, having always hated these promises and announcements, not only out of distrust of my memory, but also because this method relishes too much of the artificial. You will find no scientific plan here ostentatiously exhibited; you will find such a plan elsewhere with all the works set down in it, but the works themselves will be missing; and you will find the works elsewhere, but it will be under the cover of a superficial and transitory show, where it would be ruinous to produce the plan, 'I have always avoided falling into this inconvenience. Simpliciora militares decent.' But as he appears, after all, to have had no military weapon with which to sustain that straight-forwardness of speech which is becoming in a military power, and no dagger to pursue his points with, some artifice, though he professes not to like it, may be necessary, and the rule which he here specifies is, on the whole, perhaps, not altogether amiss. ''Tis enough that I have promised to myself never to take upon me to speak in a place where I owe respect; for as to that sort of speaking where a man reads his speech, besides that it is very absurd, it is a mighty disadvantage to those who naturally could give it a grace by action, and to rely upon the mercy of the readiness of my invention, I will much less do it; 'tis heavy and perplexed, and such as would never furnish me in sudden and important necessities.'