Possessed now of his general theory of cure, we shall better understand his particular suggestions in regard to these medicines and alteratives of the mind and manners, which are here under consideration.
'So if we should handle BOOKS and STUDIES,' he continues, having handled custom and habit a little and their powers, in that profoundly suggestive manner, 'so if we should handle books and studies, and what influence and operation they have upon manners, are there not divers precepts of great caution and direction?' A question to be asked. And he goes on to make some further enquiries and suggestions which have considerably more in them than meets the ear. They appear to involve the intimation that many of our books on moral philosophy, come to us from the youthful and poetic ages of the world, ages in which sentiment and spontaneous conviction supplied the place of learning; for the accumulations of ages of experiment and conclusion, tend to maturity and sobriety of judgment in the race, as do the corresponding accumulations in the individual experience and memory. 'And the reason why books' (which are adapted to the popular belief in these early and unlearned ages) 'are of so little effect towards honesty of life, is that they are not read and revolved—revolved—as they should be, by men in mature years.' But unlearned people are always beginners. And it is dangerous to put them upon the task, or to leave them to the task of remodelling their beliefs and adapting them to the advancing stages of human development. He, too, thinks it is easier to overthrow the old opinions, than it is to discriminate that which is to be conserved in them. The hints here are of the most profoundly cautious kind—as they have need to be—but they point to the danger which attends the advancement of learning when rashly and unwisely conducted, and the danger of introducing opinions which are in advance of the popular culture; dangers of which the history of former times furnished eminent examples and warnings then; warnings which have since been repeated in modern instances. He proposes that books shall be tried by their effects on manners. If they fail to produce HONESTY OF LIFE, and if certain particular forms of truth which were once effective to that end, in the course of a popular advancement, or change of any kind, have lost that virtue, let them be examined; let the translation of them be scientifically accomplished, so that the main truth be not lost in the process, so that men be not compelled by fearful experience to retrace their steps in search of it, even, perhaps, to the resuming of the old, dead form again, with all its cumbrous inefficacies; for the lack of a leadership which should have been able to discriminate for them, and forestall this empirical procedure.
Speaking of books of Moral science in general, and their adaptation to different ages, he says—'Did not one of the fathers, in great indignation, call POESY "vinum demonum," because it increaseth temptations, perturbations, and vain opinions? Is not the opinion of Aristotle worthy to be regarded, wherein he saith, "That young men are no fit auditors of moral philosophy," because they are not settled from the boiling heat of their affections, nor attempered with time and experience?' [And our Poet, we may remark in passing, seems to have been struck with that same observation; for by a happy coincidence, he appears to have it in his commonplace book too, and he has not only made a note of it, as this one has, but has taken the trouble to translate it into verse. He does, indeed, go a little out of his way in time, to introduce it; but he is a poet who is fond of an anachronism, when it happens to serve his purpose—
'Paris and Troilus, you have both said well; And on the cause and question now in hand Have glozed; but, superficially, not much Unlike young men whom Aristotle thought Unfit to hear moral philosophy.']
The question is, then, as to the adaptations of forms, of moral instruction to different ages of the human development. For when a decided want of 'honesty of life' shows itself, in any very general manner, under the fullest operation of any given doctrine which is the received one, it is time for men of learning to begin to look about them a little; and it is a time when directions so cautious as these should not by any means be despised by those on whom the responsibility of direction, here, is in any way devolved.
'And doth it not hereof come, that those excellent books and discourses of the ancient writers, whereby they have persuaded unto virtue most effectually, by representing her in state and majesty, and popular opinions against virtue in their parasites' coats, fit to be scorned and derided, are of so little effect towards honesty of life—
[Polonius.—Honest, my lord? Hamlet.—Ay, honest.]
'—because they are not read and revolved by men, in their mature and settled years, but confined almost to boys and beginners? But is it not true, also, that much less young men are fit auditors of matters of policy till they have been thoroughly seasoned in religion and morality, lest their judgments be corrupted, and made apt to think that there are no true differences of things, but according to utility and fortune.'
By putting in here two or three of those 'elegant sentences' which the author has taken out from their connections in his discourses, and strung together, by way of making more perceptible points and stronger impressions with them, according to that theory of his in regard to aphorisms already quoted, we shall better understand this passage, for the connection in which it is introduced here tends somewhat to involve and obscure the meaning. 'In removing superstitions,' he tells us, then, in this so pointed manner, 'care should be had the good be not taken away with the bad, which commonly is done when the people is the physician.' 'Things will have their first or second agitation.' [Prima Philosophia—pith and heart of sciences: the author of this aphorism is sound and grounded.] 'If they be not tossed on the waves of counsel, they will be tossed on the waves of fortune.' That last 'tossing' requires a second cogitation. There might have been a more direct way of expressing it; but this author prefers similes in such cases, he tells us. But here is more on the same subject. 'It were good that men in their RENOVATIONS follow the example of time itself, which, indeed, innovateth greatly, but quietly, and by degrees scarce to be perceived;' and 'Discretion in speech is more than eloquence.' These are the sentiments and opinions of that man of science, whose works we are now opening, not caring under what particular name or form we may find them. One or two of these observations do not sound at all like prescience now; but at the time when they were given out as precepts of direction, it required that acquaintance with the nature of things in general which is derived from a large and studious observation of particulars, to put them into a form so oracular.
But this general suggestion with regard to our books of moral philosophy, and their adaptation to the largest effect on the will and appetite under the given conditions of time—conditions which involve the instruction of masses of men, in whom affection predominates— men in whom judgment is not yet matured—men not attempered with the time and experience of ages, by means of those preservations of it which the traditions of learning make; beside this general suggestion in regard to these so potent instrumentalities in manners, he has another to make, one in which this general proposition to substitute learning for preconception in practical matters,—at least, as far as may be, comes out again in the form of criticism, and of a most specially significant kind. It is a point which he touches lightly here; but one which he touches again and again in other parts of this work, and one which he resumes at large in his practical ethics.
'Again, is there not a caution likewise to be given of the doctrines of moralities themselves, some kinds of them, lest they make men too precise, arrogant, incompatible, as Cicero saith of Cato, in Marco Catone: "Haec bona quae videmus divina et egregia ipsius scitote esse propria: quae nonnunquam requirimus, ea sunt omnia non a natura, sed a magistro?"'
And after glancing at the specific subject of remedial agencies which are within the scope of our revision and renovation, under some other heads, concluding with that which is of all others the most compendious and summary, and again the most noble and effectual to the reducing of the mind unto virtue and good estate, he concludes this whole part, this part in which the points and outlines of the new science—that radical human science which he has dared to report deficient, come out with such masterly grasp and precision,—he concludes this whole part in the words which follow,—words which it will take the author's own doctrine of interpretation to open. For this is one of those passages which he commends to the second cogitation of the reader, and he knew if 'the times that were nearer' were not able to read it, 'the times that were farther off' would find it clear enough.
'Therefore I do conclude this part of Moral Knowledge concerning the culture and regiment of the Mind; wherein if any man, considering the facts thereof which I have enumerated, do judge that my labour is to COLLECT INTO AN ART OR SCIENCE, that which hath been pretermitted by others, as matters of common sense and experience, he judgeth well.' The practised eye will detect on the surface here, some marks of that style which this author recommends in such cases: especially where such strong pre-occupations exist; already we perceive that this is one of those sentences which is addressed to the skill of the interpreter; in which, by means of a careful selection and collocation of words, two or more meanings are conveyed under one form of expression. And it may not be amiss to remember here, that this is a style, according to the author's own description of it elsewhere, in which the more involved and enigmatical passages sometimes admit of several readings, each having its own pertinence and value, according to the mental condition of the reader; and that it is a style in which even the delicate, collateral sounds, that are distinctly included in this art of tradition, must come in sometimes in the more critical places, in aid of the interpretation. 'But what if it be an harangue whereon his life depends?'
l.—If any man considering the parts thereof, which I have enumerated, do judge that MY LABOUR IS to collect into an ART or SCIENCE that which hath been PRETER-MITTED by others, he judgeth well.
2.—If any man do judge that my labour is to collect into an ART or SCIENCE that which hath been pretermitted by others AS MATTERS OF COMMON SENSE and EXPERIENCE, he judgeth well.
3.—If any man considering the PARTS THEREOF WHICH I HAVE ENUMERATED, do judge that my labor is to collect into an ART or SCIENCE, that which hath been pretermitted by OTHERS, as matters of common sense and experience, he judgeth well.
But if there be any doubt, about the more critical of these meanings, let us read on, and we shall find the criticism of this great and greatest proposition, the proposition to substitute learning for preconception, in the main department of human practice, brought out with all the emphasis and significance which becomes the close of so great a period in sciences, and not without a little flowering of that rhetoric, in which beauty is the incident, and discretion is more than eloquence.
'But as Philocrates sported with Demosthenes you may not marvel, Athenians, that Demosthenes and I do differ, for he drinketh water, and I drink wine. And like as we read of an ancient parable of the two gates of sleep—
Sunt geminae somni portae, quarum altera fertur Cornea, qua veris facilis datur exitus umbris: Altera candenti perfecta nitens elephanto, Sed falsa ad coelum mittunt insomnia manes.
'So if we put on sobriety and attention we shall find it a sure maxim in knowledge, that the more pleasant liquor of wine is the more vaporous, and the braver gate of ivory sendeth forth the falser dreams.'
METHOD OF CONVEYING THE WISDOM OF THE MODERNS
It is a basilisk unto mine eyes,— Kills me to look on't,
This fierce abridgment Hath to it circumstantial branches, which Distinction should be rich in.
This whole subject is introduced here in its natural and inevitable connection with that special form of Delivery and Tradition which it required. For we find that connection indicated here, where the matter of the tradition, and that part of it which specially requires this form is treated, and we find the form itself specified here incidentally, but not less unmistakeably, that it is in that part of the work where the Art of Tradition is the primary subject. In bestowing on 'the parts' of this science, which the propounder of it is here enumerating—that consideration which the concluding paragraph invites to them, we find, not only the fields clearly marked out, in which he is labouring to collect into an art and science, that which has hitherto been conducted without art or science, and left to common sense and experience, the fields in which these goodly observations grow, of which men have hitherto been content to gather a poesy to carry in their hands,—(observations which he will bring home to his confectionery, in such new and amazing prodigality and selection), but we find also the very form which these new collections, with the new precepts concluded on them, would naturally take, and that it is one in which these new parts of the new science and its art, which he is labouring to constitute, might very well come out, at such a time, without being recognised as philosophy at all,—might even be brought out by other men without science, as matters of common sense and experience; though the world would have to concede, and the longer the study went on, the more it would be inclined to concede, that the common sense and experience was upon the whole somewhat uncommon, and some who perceived its reaches, without finding that it was art or science, would even be inclined to call it preternatural.
And when he tells us, that the first step in the New Science is the dissection of character, and the production and exhibition of certain scientifically constructed portraits, by means of which this may be effected, portraits which shall represent in their type-form by means of 'illustrious instances,' the several characters and tempers of men's natures and dispositions 'that the secret disposition of each particular man may be laid open, and from a knowledge of the whole, the precepts concerning the cures of the mind may be more rightly concluded,'—surely here, to a man of learning, the form,—the form in which these artistically composed diagrams will be found, is not doubtfully indicated.
And when, at the next step, we come to the history of 'the affections,' and are told distinctly that here philosophy, the philosophy of practice, must needs descend from the abstraction, and generalities of the ancient morality, for those observations and experiments which it is the legitimate business of the poet to conduct, though the poet, in conducting these observations and experiments, has hitherto been wanting in the rigor which science requires, when we are told that philosophy must inevitably enter here, that department of learning, of which the true poet is 'the doctor,'—surely here at least, we know where we are. Certainly it is not the fault of the author of the Great Instauration if we do not know what department of learning the collections of the new learning which he claims to have made will be found in—if found at all, must be found in. It is not his fault if we do not know in what department to look for the applications of the Novum Organum to those 'noblest subjects' on which he preferred to try its powers, he tells us. Here at least—the Index to these missing books—is clear enough.
But in his treatment of Poetry, as one of the three grand departments of Human Learning, for not less noble than that is the place he openly assigns to it, though that open and primary treatment of it, is superficially brief, he contrives to insert in it, his deliberate, scientific preference of it, as a means of effective scientific exhibition, to either of the two graver parts, which he has associated with it—to history on the one hand, as corresponding to the faculty of memory, and to philosophy or mere abstract statement on the other, as corresponding to the faculty of Reason; for it is that great radical department of learning, which is referred to the Imagination, that constitutes in this distribution of learning the third grand division of it. He shows us here, in a few words, under different points and heads, what masterly facilities, what indispensable, incomparable powers it has for that purpose. There is a form of it, 'which is as A VISIBLE HISTORY, and is an image of actions as if they were present, as history is, of actions that are past.' There is a form of it which is applied only to express some special purpose or conceit, which was used of old by philosophers to express any point of reason more sharp and subtle than the vulgar, and, nevertheless, now and at all times these allusive parabolical poems do retain much life and vigour because—note it,—note that because,—that two-fold because, because REASON CANNOT be so SENSIBLE, nor EXAMPLES SO FIT. And he adds, also, 'there remains another use of this poesy, opposite to the one just mentioned, for that use tendeth to demonstrate and illustrate that which is taught or delivered; and this other to retire and obscure it: that is, when the secrets and mysteries of religion, policy or philosophy are involved in fables and parables.'
But under the cover of introducing the 'Wisdom of the Ancients,' and the form in which that was conveyed, he explains more at large the conditions which this kind of exhibition best meets; he claims it as a proper form of learning, and tells us outright, that the New Science must be conveyed in it. He has left us here, all prepared to our hands, precisely the argument which the subject now under consideration requires.
'Upon deliberate consideration, my judgment is, that a concealed instruction and allegory, was originally intended in many of the ancient fables; observing that some fables discover a great and evident similitude, relation, and connection with the things they signify, as well in the structure of the fable, as in the propriety of the names whereby the persons or actors are characterised, insomuch that no one could positively deny a sense and meaning to be from the first intended and purposely shadowed out in them'; and he mentions some instances of this kind; and the first is a very explanatory one, tending to throw light upon the proceedings of men whose rebellions, so far as political action is concerned, have been successfully repressed. And he takes occasion to introduce this particular fable repeatedly in similar connections. 'For who can hear that Fame, after the giants were destroyed, sprung up as their posthumous sister, and not apply it to the clamour of parties, and the seditious rumours which commonly fly about upon the quelling of insurrections. Or who, upon hearing that memorable expedition of the gods against the giants, when the braying of Silenus' ass greatly contributed in putting the giants to flight, does not clearly conceive that this directly points to the monstrous enterprises of rebellious subjects, which are frequently disappointed and frustrated by vain fears and empty rumours. Nor is it wonder if sometimes a piece of history or other things are introduced by way of ornament, or if the times of the action are confounded,' [the very likeliest thing in the world to happen; things are often 'forced in time' as he has given us to understand in complimenting a king's book where the person was absent but not the occasion], 'or if part of one fable be tacked to another, for all this must necessarily happen, as the fables were the invention of men who lived in different ages, and had different views, some of them being ancient, others more modern, some having an eye to natural philosophy, others to morality and civil policy.'
This appears to be just the kind of criticism we happen to be in need of in conducting our present inquiry, and the passage which follows is not less to the purpose.
For, having given some other reasons for this opinion he has expressed in regard to the concealed doctrine of the ancients, he concludes in this manner: 'But if any one shall, notwithstanding this, contend that allegories are always adventitious, and no way native or genuinely contained in them, we might here leave him undisturbed in the gravity of that judgment, though we cannot but think it somewhat dull and phlegmatic, and, if it were worth the trouble, proceed to another kind of argument.' And, apparently, the argument he proceeds to, is worth some trouble, since he takes pains to bring it out so cautiously, under so many different heads, with such iteration and fulness, taking care to insert it so many times in his work on the Advancement of Learning, and here producing it again in his Introduction to the Wisdom of the Ancients, accompanied with a distinct assurance that it is not the wisdom of the ancients he is concerning himself about, and their necessities and helps and instruments; though if any one persists in thinking that it is, he is not disposed to disturb him in the gravity of that judgment. He honestly thinks that they had indeed such intentions as those that he describes; but that is a question for the curious, and he has other work on hand; he happens to be one, whose views of learning and its uses, do not keep him long on questions of mere curiosity. It is with the Moderns, and not with the Ancients that he has to deal; it is the present and the future, and not the past that he 'breaks his sleeps' for. Whether the Ancients used those fables for purposes of innovation, and gradual encroachment on error or not, here is a Modern, he tells us, who for one, cannot dispense with them in his teaching.
For having disposed of his graver readers—those of the dull and phlegmatic kind—in the preceding paragraph, and not thinking it worth exactly that kind of trouble it would have cost then to make himself more explicit for the sake of reaching their apprehension, he proceeds to the following argument, which is not wanting in clearness for 'those who happen to be of his ear.'
'Men have proposed to answer two different and contrary ends by the use of Parables, for parables serve as well to instruct and illustrate, as to wrap up and envelope:' [and what is more, they serve at once that double purpose] 'so that for the present we drop the concealed use, and suppose the ancient fables to be vague undeterminate things formed for amusement, still the other use must remain, and can never be given up. And every man of any learning must readily allow that THIS METHOD of INSTRUCTION is grave, sober, exceedingly useful, and sometimes necessary in the sciences, as it opens an easy and familiar passage to the human understanding, IN ALL NEW DISCOVERIES that are abstruse and out of the road of vulgar opinion. Hence, in the first ages, when such inventions and conclusions of the human reason as are now trite and common, were rare and little known, all things abounded with fables, parables, similes, comparisons, allusions, which were not intended to conceal, but to inform and teach, whilst the minds of men continued rude and unpractised in matters of subtlety and speculation, and even impatient, and in a manner incapable of receiving such things as did not directly fall under and strike the senses.' [And those ages were not gone by, it seems, for these are the very men of whom Hamlet speaks, 'who for the most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb-shows and noise.'] 'For as hieroglyphics were in use before writings, so were parables in use before argument. And even to this day, if any man would let NEW LIGHT IN upon the human understanding, [who was it that proposed to do that?] and conquer prejudices without raising animosities, OPPOSITION, or DISTURBANCE—[who was it that proposed to do that precisely]—he must still—[note it]—he must still go in the same path, and have recourse to the like method.' Where are they then? Search and see. Where are they?—The lost Fables of the New Philosophy? 'To conclude, the knowledge of the earlier ages was either great or happy; great, if by design they made use of tropes and figures; happy, if whilst they had other views they afforded matter and occasion to such noble contemplations. Let either be the case, our pains perhaps will not be misemployed, whether we illustrate ANTIQUITY or [hear] THINGS THEMSELVES.
But he complains of those who have attempted such interpretations hitherto, that 'being unskilled in nature, and their learning no more than that of common-place, they have applied the sense of the parables to certain general and vulgar matters, without reaching to their real purport, genuine interpretation and full depth;' certainly it would not be that kind of criticism, then, which would be able to bring out the subtleties of the new learning from those popular embodiments, which he tells us it will have to take, in order to make some impression, at least, on the common understanding. 'Settle that question, then, in regard to the old Fables as you will, our pains will not perhaps be misemployed, whether we illustrate antiquity or things themselves,' and to that he adds, 'for myself, therefore, I expect to appear NEW in THESE COMMON THINGS, because, leaving untouched such as are sufficiently plain and open, I shall drive only those that are either deep or rich.' 'For myself?'—I?—'I expect to appear new in these common things.' But elsewhere, where he lays out the argument of them, by the side of that 'resplendent and lustrous mass of matter,' those heroical descriptions of virtue, duty, and felicity, that others have got glory from, it is some Poet we are given to understand that is going to be found new in them. There, the argument is all—all—poetic, and it is a theme for one who, if he know how to handle it, need not be afraid to put in his modest claim, with those who sung of old, the wrath of heroes, and their arms.
Any one who does not perceive that the passages here quoted were designed to introduce more than 'the wisdom of the ancients', the reader who is disposed to conclude after a careful perusal of these reiterated statements, in regard to the form in which doctrines differing from received opinions must be delivered, taken in connexion, too, with that draught of the new science of the human culture and its parts and points, which has just been produced here,—the reader who concludes that this is, after all, a science that was able to dispense with this method of appeal to the senses and the imagination; that it was not obliged to have recourse to that path;—that the NEW LEARNING, 'the NEW DISCOVERY,' had here no fables, no particular topics, and methods of tradition; that it contented itself with abstractions and generalities, with 'the husks and shells of sciences,'—such an one ought, undoubtedly, to be left undisturbed in that opinion. He belongs precisely to that class of persons which this author himself deliberately proposed to leave to such conclusions. He is one whom this philosopher himself would not take any trouble at all to enlighten on such points. The other reading, with all its gravity, was designed for him. The time for such an one to adopt the reading here produced, will be, when 'those who are incapable of receiving such things as do not directly fall under and strike the senses,' have, at last, got hold of it; when 'the groundlings, who, for the most part are capable of nothing but dumb show and noise,' have had their ears split with it, it will be time enough for him.
This Wisdom of the Moderns, then, to resume with those to whom the appeal is made, this new learning which the Wise Man and Innovator of the Modern Ages tells us must be clothed in fable, and adorned with verse, this learning that must be made to fall under and strike the senses; this dumb show of science, that is but show to him who cannot yet take the player's own version of what it means; this illustrated tradition, this beautiful tradition of the New Science of Human Nature,—where is it? This historical collection, this gallery that was to contain scientific draughts and portraitures of the human character, that should exhaust its varieties,—where is it? These new Georgics of the mind whose argument is here,—where are they? This new Virgil who might promise himself such glory,—such new glory in the singing of them,—where is he? Did he make so deep a summer in his verse, that the track of the precept was lost in it? Were the flowers, and the fruit, so thick, there; was the reed so sweet that the argument of that great husbandry could no point,—could leave no furrow in it?
'Where souls do couch, on flowers, we'll hand in hand, And with our sprightly port make the ghosts gaze: Dido and her Aeneas shall want troops, And all the haunt be ours.'
'The neglect of our times,' says this author, in proposing this great argument, this new argument, of the application of SCIENCE to the Culture and Cure of the Mind, 'the neglect of our times, wherein few men do hold any consultations touching the reformation of their lives, may make this part seem superfluous. As Seneca excellently saith, "De partibus vitae quisquae deliberat, de summa nemo."' And is that, after all,—is that the trouble still? Is it, that that characteristic of Elizabeth's time—that same thing which Seneca complained of in Nero's,—is it that that is not yet obsolete? Is that the reason, this so magnificent part, this radical part of the new discovery of the Modern Ages, is still held 'superfluous?' 'De partibus vitae quisquae deliberat, de summa nemo.' 'Now that we have spoken, and spoken for so many ages, of this fruit of life, it remaineth to speak of the husbandry thereunto.' That is the scientific proposition which has waited now two hundred and fifty years, for a scientific audience. The health of the soul, the scientific promotion of it, the FRUIT OF LIFE, and the observations of its husbandry. 'And if it be said,' he continues, anticipating the first inconsiderate objection, 'if it be said that the cure of mens' minds belongeth to sacred divinity, it is most true; but yet, moral philosophy may be preferred unto her, as a wise servant and humble handmaid. For as the Psalm saith, that the eyes of the handmaid look perpetually towards the mistress, and yet, no doubt, many things are left to the discretion of the handmaid, to discern of the mistress' will; so ought moral philosophy to give a constant attention to the doctrines of divinity, and yet so as it may yield of herself, within due limits, many sound and profitable directions.'
For the times that were 'far off' when that proposition was made, it is brought out anew and reopened. Oh, people of the ages of arts and sciences that are called by this man's name, shall we have the fruits of his new doctrine of KNOWLEDGE, brought to our relief in all other fields, and reject it in this, which he himself laid out, and claimed as its only worthy field? Instructed now in the validity of its claims, by its 'magnitude of effects' in every department of the human practice to which it has yet been applied, shall we permit the department of it, on which his labour was expended, to escape that application? Shall we suffer that wild barbaric tract of the human life which the will and affections of man create,—that tract which he seized,—which it was his labour to collect into an art or science, to lie unreclaimed still?
Oh, Man of the new ages of science, will you have the new fore-knowledge, the magical command of effects, which the scientific inquiry into causes as they are actual in nature, puts into our hands, in every other practice, in every other culture and cure,—will you have the rule of this knowledge imposed upon your fields, and orchards, and gardens, to assist weak nature in her 'conservations' and 'advancements' in these,—to teach her to bring forth here the latent ideals, towards which she struggles and vainly yearns, and can only point to, and wait for, till science accepts her hints;—will you have the Georgics of this new Virgil to load your table with its magic clusters;—will you take the Novum Organum to pile your plate with its ideal advancements on spontaneous nature and her perfections;—will you have the rule of that Organum applied in its exactest rigors, to all the physical oppositions of your life, to minister to your physical safety, and comfort, and luxury, and never relax your exactions from it, till the last conceivable degree of these has been secured; and in this department of art and science,—this, in which the sum of our good and evil is contained,—in a mere oversight of it, in a disgraceful indifference and carelessness about it, be content to accept, without criticism, the machinery of the past—instrumentalities that the unlearned ages of the world have left to us,—arts whose precepts were concluded ages ere we knew that knowledge is power.
Shall we be content to accept as a science any longer, a science that leaves human life and its actualities and particulars, unsearched, uncollected, unreduced to scientific nomenclature and axiom? Shall we be content any longer with a knowledge that is power,—shall we boast ourselves any longer of a scientific art that leaves human nature,—that makes over human nature to the tampering of an unwatched, unchecked empiricism, that leaves our own souls it may be, and the souls in which ours are garnered up, all wild and hidden, and gnarled within with nature's crudities and spontaneities, or choked and bitter with artificial, but unscientific, unartistic repression?
Will you have of that divinely appointed and beautiful 'handmaid,' that was brought in on to this Globe Theatre, with that upward look,—with eyes turned to that celestial sovereignty for her direction, with the sum of good in her intention, with the universal doctrine of practice in her programme, with the relief 'of man's estate and the Creator's glory' put down in her role,—with her new song—with her song of man's nature and life as it is, on her lips—will you have of her, only the minister to your physical luxuries and baser wants? Be it so: but in the name of that truth which is able to survive ages of misunderstanding and detraction, in the name of that honor which is armed with arts of self-delivery and tradition, that will enable it to live again, 'though all the earth o'erwhelm it to men's eyes,' while this Book of the Advancemement of Learning stands, do not charge on this man henceforth, that election.
The times of that ignorance in which it could be thus accredited, are past; for the leader of this Advancement is already unfolding his tradition, and opening his books; and he bids us debase his name no longer, into a name for these sordid fatuities. The Leader of ages that are yet to be,—ages whose nobler advancements, whose rational and scientific advancements to the dignity and perfection of the human form, it was given to him and to his company to plan and initiate,—he declines to be held any longer responsible for the blind, demoniacal, irrational spirit, that would seize on his great instrument of science, and wrest it from its nobler object and intent, and debase it into the mere tool of the senses; the tool of a materialism more base and sordid than any that the world has ever known; more sordid, a thousand-fold, than the materialism of ages, when there was yet a god in the wood and the stone, when there was yet a god in the brick and the mortar. This 'broken science' that has no end of ends, this godless science, this railway learning that travels with restless, ever quickening speed, no whither,—these dead, rattling 'branches' and slivers of arts and sciences, these modern arts and sciences, hacked and cut away from that tree of sciences, from which they sprang, whereon they grew, are his no longer. He declines to be held any longer responsible for a materialism that shelters itself under the name of philosophy, and identifies his own name with it. Call it science, if you will, though science be the name for unity and comprehension, and the spirit of life, the spirit of the largest whole; call it philosophy if you will, if you think philosophy is capable of being severed from that common trunk, in which this philosopher found its pith and heart,—call it science,—call it philosophy,—but call it not, he says,—call it not henceforth 'Baconian.'
For his labor is to collect into an art or science the doctrine of human life. He, too, has propounded that problem,—he has translated into the modern speech, that problem, which the inspired Leader of men, of old propounded. 'What is a man profited if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul; or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?' He, too, has recognized that ideal type of human excellence, which the Great Teacher of old revealed and exemplified; he has found scientifically,—he has found in the universal law,—that divine dogma, which was taught of old by One who spake as having authority—One who also had looked on nature with a loving and observant eye, and found in its source, the Inspirer of his doctrine. In his study of that old book of divinity which he calls the book of God's Power this Modern Innovator has found the scientific version of that inspired command 'Be ye therefore perfect.' This new science of morality, which is 'moral knowledge,' is able to recognise the inspiration and divinity of that received platform and exemplar of good, and pours in on it the light of a universal illustration. And in his new scientific policy, in his scientific doctrine of success, in his doctrine of the particular and private good, when he brings out at last the rule which shall secure it from all the blows of fortune, what is it but that same old 'Primum quaerite' which he produces,—clothing it with the authority and severe exaction of a scientific rule in art,—that same 'Primum quaerite' which was published of old as a doctrine of faith only. 'But let men rather build,' he says, 'upon that foundation, which is as a corner-stone of divinity and philosophy, wherein they join close; namely, that same 'Primum quaerite.' For divinity saith, 'Seek first the kingdom of God, and all other things shall be added to you'; and philosophy saith, 'Primum quaerite bona animi caetera aut aderunt, aut non oberunt.'
And who will now undertake to say that it is, indeed, written in the Book of God,—in the Book of the Providential Design, and Creative Law, or that it is written in the Revelation of a divine good will to men; that those who cultivate and cure the soul—who have a divine appointment to the office of its cure—shall thereby be qualified to ignore its actual laws, or that they shall find in the scientific investigation of its actual history, or in this new—so new, this so wondrous and beautiful science, which is here laid out in all its parts and points on the basis of a universal science of practice,—no 'ministry' to their end? Who shall say that the Regimen of the mind, that its Education and healthful culture, as well as its cure, shall be able to accept of no instrumentalities from the advancement of learning? Who shall say that this department of the human life—this alone, is going to be held back to the past, with bonds and cramps of iron, while all else is advancing; that this is going to be held forever as a place where the old Aristotelian logic, which we have driven out of every other field, can keep its hold unchallenged still,—as a place for the metaphysics of the school-men, the empty conceits, the old exploded inanities of the Dark Ages, to breed and nestle in undisturbed?
Who shall claim that this department is the only one, which that gift, that is the last gift of Creation and Providence to man is forbidden to enter?
Surely it is the authorised doctrine of a supernatural aid, that it is never brought in to sanction indolence and the neglect of means and instruments already in our power; and in that book of these new ages in which the doctrine of a successful human practice was promulgated, is it not written that in no department of the human want, 'can those noble effects, which God hath set forth to be bought as the price of labour, be obtained as the price of a few easy and slothful observances?'
And who that looks on the world as it is at this hour, with all our boasted aids and instrumentalities,—who that hears that cry of sorrow which goes up from it day and night,—who that looks at these masses of men as they are,—who that dares to look at all this vice and ignorance and suffering which no instrumentality, mighty to relieve, has yet reached, shall think to put back,—as if we had no need of it,—this great gift of light and healing,—this gift of power, which the scientific ages are bringing in; this gift which the ages of 'anticipation,' the ages of inspiration and spontaneous affirmation, could only divinely—diviningly—foresee and promise;—this gift which the knowledge of the creative laws, the historic laws, the laws of kind, as they are actual in the human nature and the human life, puts into our hands? Who shall think himself competent to oppose this benefaction? Alas for such an one! let us take up a lamentation for him. He has stayed too long. The constitution of things, the universal laws of being, and the Providence of this world are against him. The track of the advancing ages goes over him. He is at variance with that which was and shall be. The world's wheel goes over him. And whosoever falls on that stone shall be broken, but on whomsoever it falls it shall grind him to powder.
It is by means of the scientific Art of Delivery and Tradition, that this doctrine of the scientific Culture and Cure of the Mind, which is the doctrine of the scientific ages, has been made over to us in the abstract; and it is by means of the rule of interpretation, which this Art of Delivery prescribes, it is by means of the secret of an Illustrated Tradition, or Poetic Tradition of this science, that we are now enabled to unlock at last those magnificent collections in it—those inexhaustible treasures and mines of it—which the Discoverer, in spite of the time, has contrived to leave us, in that form of Fable and Parable in which the advancing truth has always been left,—in that form of Poesy in which the highest truth has, from of old, been uttered. For over all this ground lay extended, then, in watchful strength all safe and unespied, the basilisk of whom the Fable goes, if he sees you first, you die for it,—but if YOU SEE HIM FIRST, HE DIES. And this is the Bishop who fought with a mace, because he would kill his enemy and not wound him.
ELIZABETHAN 'SECRETS OF MORALITY AND POLICY';
THE FABLES OF THE NEW LEARNING.
Reason cannot be so sensible, nor examples so fit. Advancement of Learning.
The object of this Volume is merely to open as a study, and a study of primary consequence, those great Works of the Modern Learning which have passed among us hitherto, for lack of the historical and scientific key to them, as Works of Amusement, merely.
But even in that superficial acquaintance which we have had with them in that relation, they have, all the time, been subtly operating upon the minds in contact with them, and perpetually fulfilling the first intention of their Inventor.
'For,' says the great Innovator of the Modern Ages,—the author of the Novum Organum, and of the Advancement of Learning,—in claiming this department of Letters as the necessary and proper instrumentality of a new science,—of a science at least, 'foreign to opinions received,'—as he claims elsewhere that it is, under all conditions, the inevitable essential form of this science in particular. 'Men have proposed to answer two different and contrary ends by the use of parables, for they serve as well to instruct and illustrate as to wrap up and envelope, so that, though for the present, we drop the concealed use, and suppose them to be vague undeterminate things, formed for AMUSEMENT merely, still the other use remains. 'And every man of any learning must readily concede,' he says, 'the value of that use of them as a method of popular instruction, grave, sober, exceedingly useful, and sometimes necessary in the sciences, as it opens an easy and familiar passage to the human understandings in all new discoveries, that are abstruse and out of the road of vulgar opinion. They were used of old by philosophers to express any point of reason more sharp and subtle than the vulgar, and nevertheless now, and at all times, these allusive parabolical forms retain much life and vigor, because reason cannot be so sensible nor examples so fit.' That philosophic use of them was to inform and teach, whilst the minds of men continued rude and unpractised in matters of subtilty and speculation, and even impatient and in a manner incapable of receiving anything that did not directly fall under and strike the senses. 'And, even to this day, if any man would let new light in upon the human understanding, and conquer prejudices without raising animosities, opposition, or disturbance, he must still go in the same path and have recourse to the like method.'
That is the use which the History and Fables of the New Philosophy have already had with us. We have been feeding without knowing it, on the 'principal and supreme sciences'—the 'Prima Philosophia' and its noblest branches. We have been taking the application of the Inductive Philosophy to the principal concerns of our human life, and to the phenomena of of the human nature itself, as mere sport and pastime; though the precepts concluded, the practical axioms inclosed with it have already forced their way into our learning, for all our learning is, even now, inlaid and glittering with those 'dispersed directions.'
We have profited by this use of them. It has not been pastime merely with us. We have not spent our time in vain on this first stage of an Advancing Learning, a learning that will not cease to advance until it has invaded all our empiricisms, and conquered all our practice; a learning that will recompence the diligence, the exactitude, the severity of observance which it will require here also (when it comes to put in its claim here, as Learning and not Amusement merely), with that same magnitude of effects that, in other departments, has already justified the name which its Inventor gave it—a Learning which will give us here, also, in return for the severity of observance it will require, what no ceremonial, however exacting can give us, that control of effects, with which, even in its humblest departments, it has already fulfilled, in the eyes of all the world, the prophecy which its Inventors uttered when they called it the NEW MAGIC.
That first use of the Histories and Fables of the Modern Learning, we have had already; and it is not yet exhausted. But in that rapid development of a common intelligence, to which the new science of practice has itself so largely contributed, even in its lower and limited developments, we come now to that other and so important use of these Fables, which the philosophic Innovator proposed to drop for the time, in his argument—that use of them, in which they serve 'to wrap up and conceal' for the time, or to limit to the few, who are able to receive them, those new discoveries which are as yet too far in advance of the common beliefs and opinions of men, and too far above the mental habits and capacities of the masses of men, to be safely or profitably communicated to the many in the abstract.
But in order to arrive at this second and nobler use of them, it will be necessary to bestow on them a very different kind of study from any that we have naturally thought it worth while to spend on them, so long as we regarded them as works of pastime merely; and especially while that insuperable obstacle to any adequate examination of them, which the received history of the works themselves created, was still operating on the criticism. The truths which these Parabolic and Allusive Poems wrap up and conceal, have been safely concealed hitherto, because they are not those common-place truths which we usually look for as the point and moral of a tale which is supposed to have a moral or politic intention,—truths which we are understood to be in possession of beforehand, while the parable or instance is only designed to impress the sensibility with them anew, and to reach the will that would not take them from the reason, by means of the senses or the imagination. It is not that spontaneous, intuitive knowledge, or those conventional opinions, those unanalysed popular beliefs, which we usually expect to find without any trouble at all, on the very surface of any work that has morality for its object, it is not any such coarse, lazy performance as that, that we need trouble ourselves to look for here. This higher intention in these works 'their real import, genuine interpretation, and full depth,' has not yet been found, because the science which is wrapped in them, though it is the principal science in the plan of the Advancement of Learning, has hitherto escaped our notice, and because of the exceeding subtlety of it,—because the truths thus conveyed or concealed are new, and recondite, and out of the way of any casual observation,—because in this scientific collection of the phenomena of the human life, designed to serve as the basis of new social arts and rules of practice, the author has had occasion to go behind the vague, popular, unscientific terms which serve well enough for purposes of discourse, and mere oratory, to those principles which are actual and historical, those simple radical forms and differences on which the doctrine of power and practice must be based.
It is pastime no longer. It is a study, the most patient, the most profoundly earnest to which these works now invite us. Let those who will, stay in the playground still, and make such sport and pastime of it there, as they may; and let those who feel the need of inductive rules here also,—here on the ground which this pastime covers—let those who perceive that we have as yet, set our feet only on the threshold of the Great Instauration, find here with diligent research, the ascent to the axioms of practice,—that ascent which the author of the science of practice in general, made it his labour to hew out here, for he undertook 'to collect here into an art or science, that which had been pretermitted by others as matters of common sense and experience.'
It does not consist with the design of the present work to track that draught of a new science of morality and policy, that 'table' of an inductive science of human nature, and human life, which the plan of the Advancement of Learning contains, with all the lettering of its compartments put down, into these systematic scientific collections, which the Fables of the Modern Learning,—which these magnificent Parabolical Poems have been able hitherto to wrap up and conceal.
This work is merely introductory, and the design of it is to remove that primary obstacle to the diligent study of these works, which the present theory of them contains; since that concealment of their true intention and history, which was inevitable at the time, no longer serves the author's purpose, and now that the times are ripe for the learning which they contain, only serves indeed to hinder it. And the illustrations which are here produced, are produced with reference to that object, and are limited strictly to the unfolding of those 'secrets of policy,' which are the necessary introduction to that which follows.
THE MISSING BOOKS OF THE GREAT INSTAURATION; OR, PHILOSOPHY ITSELF.
Did it never occur to the student of the Novum Organum that the constant application of that 'New Machine' by the inventor of it himself, to one particular class of subjects, so constant as to produce on the mind of the careless reader the common impression, that it was intended to be applied to that class only, and that the relief of the human estate, in that one department of the human want, constituted its whole design: did it never occur to the curious inquirer, or to the active experimenter in this new rule of learning, that this apparently so rigorous limitation of its applications in the hands of its author is—under all the circumstances—a thing worthy of being inquired into? Considering who the author of it is, and that it is on the face of it, a new method of dealing with facts in general, a new method of obtaining axioms of practice from history in general, and not a specific method of obtaining them from that particular department of history from which his instances are taken; and, considering, too, that the author was himself aware of the whole sweep of its applications, and that he has taken pains to include in his description of its powers, the assertion,—the distinct, deliberate assertion—that it is capable of being applied as efficiently, to those nobler departments of the human need, which are marked out for it in the Great Instauration—those very departments in which he was known himself to be so deeply interested, and in which he had been all his life such a diligent explorer and experimenter. Did it never occur to the scholar, to inquire why he did not apply it, then, himself to those very subjects, instead of keeping so stedfastly to the physical forces in his illustration of its powers? And has any one ever read the plan of this man's works? Has any one seen the scheme of that great enterprise, for which he was the responsible person in his own time—that scheme which he wrote out, and put in among these published acknowledged works of his, which he dared to produce in his own name, to show what parts of his 'labor,'—what part of chief consequence was not thus produced? Has any one seen that plan of a new system of Universal Science, which was published in the reign of James the First, under the patronage of that monarch? And if it has been seen, what is the reason there has been no enquiry made for those works, in which the author openly proposes to apply his new organum in person to these very subjects; and that, too, when he takes pains to tell us, in reference to that undertaking, that he is not a vain promiser.
There is a pretence of supplying that new kind of history, which the new method of discovery and invention requires as the first step towards its conclusions, which is put down as the THIRD PART of the Instauration, though the natural history which is produced for that purpose is very far from fulfilling the description and promise of that division. But where is the FOURTH part of the Great Instauration? Has anybody seen the FOURTH part? Where is that so important part for which all that precedes it is a preparation, or to which it is subsidiary? Where is that part which consists of EXAMPLES, that are nothing but a particular application of the SECOND; that is, the Novum Organum,—'and to subjects of the noblest kind?' Where is 'that part of our work which enters upon PHILOSOPHY ITSELF,' instead of dealing any longer, or professing to deal, with THE METHOD merely of finding that which man's relief requires, or instead of exhibiting that method any longer in the abstract? Where are the works in which he undertakes to show it in operation, with its new 'grappling hooks' on the matter of the human life—applied by the inventor himself to 'the noblest subjects?' Surely that would be a sight to see. What is the reason that our editors do not produce these so important works in their editions? What is the reason that our critics do not include them in their criticism? What is the reason that our scholars do not quote them? Instead of stopping with that mere report of the condition of learning and its deficiences, and that outline of what is to be done, which makes the FIRST PART or Introduction to this work; or stopping with the description of the new method, or the Novum Organum, which makes the SECOND; why don't they go on to the 'new philosophy itself,' and show us that as well,—the very object of all this preparation? When he describes in the SECOND part his method of finding true terms, or rather the method of his school, when he describes this new method of finding 'ideas,' ideas as they are in nature, powers, causes, the elements of history, or forms, as he more commonly calls them, when he describes this new method of deducing axioms, axioms that are ready for practice, he does, indeed, give us instances; but it so happens, that the instances are all of one kind there. They are the physical powers that supply his examples in that part.
In describing this method merely, he produces what he calls his Tables of Invention, or Tables of REVIEW OF INSTANCES; but where is that part in which he tells us we shall find these same tables again, with 'the nobler subjects' on them? He produces them for careful scrutiny in his second part; and he makes no small parade in bringing them in. He shews them up very industriously, and is very particular to direct the admiring attention of the reader to their adaptation as means to an end. But certainly there is nothing in that specimen of what can be done with them which he contents himself with there, that would lead any one to infer that the power of this invention, which is the novelty of it, was going to be a dangerous thing to society, or, indeed, that they were not the most harmless things in the world. It is the true cause of HEAT, and the infallible means of producing that under the greatest variety of conditions, which he appears to be trying to arrive at there. But what harm can there be in that, or in any other discovery of that kind. And there is no real impression made on any one's mind by that book, that there is any other kind of invention or discovery intended in the practical applications of this method? The very free, but of course not pedantic, use of the new terminology of a new school in philosophy, in which this author indulges—a terminology of a somewhat figurative and poetic kind, one cannot but observe, for a philosopher of so strictly a logical turn of mind, one whose thoughts were running on abstractions so entirely, to construct; his continued preference for these new scholastic terms, and his inflexible adherence to a most profoundly erudite mode of expression whenever he approaches 'the part operative' of his work, is indeed calculated to awe and keep at a distance minds not yet prepared to grapple formally with those 'nobler subjects' to which allusion is made in another place. King James was a man of some erudition himself; but he declared frankly that for his part he could not understand this book; and it was not strange that he could not, for the author did not intend that he should. The philosopher drops a hint in passing, however, that all which is essential in this method, might perhaps be retained without quite so much formality and fuss in the use of it, and that the proposed result might be arrived at by means of these same tables, without any use of technical language at all, under other circumstances.
The results which have since been obtained by the use of this method in that department of philosophy to which it is specially applied in the Novum Organum, give to the inquirer into the causes of the physical phenomena now, some advantages which no invention could supply them. That was what the founders of this philosophy expected and predicted. They left this department to their school. The author of the Novum Organum orders and initiates this inquiry; but the basis of the induction in this department is as yet wanting; and the collections and experiments here require combinations of skill and labour which they cannot at once command. They will do what they can here too, in their small way, just to make a beginning; but they do not lay much stress upon any thing they can accomplish with the use of their own method in this field. It serves, however, a very convenient purpose with them; neither do they at all underrate its intrinsic importance.
But the man who has studiously created for himself a social position which enables him to assume openly, and even ostentatiously, the position of an innovator—an innovator in the world of letters, an advancer of—learning—is compelled to introduce his innovation with the complaint that he finds the mind of the world so stupified, so bewildered with evil, and so under the influence of dogmas, that the first thing to be done is to get so much as a thought admitted of the possibility of a better state of things. 'The present system of philosophy,' he says, 'cherishes in its bosom certain positions or dogmas which it will be found, are calculated to produce a full conviction that no difficult, commanding, and powerful operation on nature ought to be anticipated, through the means of art.' And, therefore, after criticising the theory and practice of the world as he finds it, reporting as well as he can,—though he can find no words, he says, in which to do justice to his feeling in regard to it—the deficiencies in its learning, he devotes a considerable portion of the description of his new method to the grounds of 'hope' which he derives from this philosophic survey, and that that hope is not a hope of a better state of things in respect to the physical wants of man merely, that it is not a hope of a renovation in the arts which minister to those wants exclusively, any very careful reader of the first book of the Novum Organum will be apt on the whole to infer. But the statements here are very general, and he refers us to another place for particulars.
'Let us then speak of hope' he says, 'especially as we are not vain promisers, nor are willing to enforce or ensnare men's judgments; but would rather lead them willingly forward. And although we shall employ the most cogent means of enforcing hope when we bring them TO PARTICULARS, and especially those which are digested and arranged in our Tables of Invention, the subject partly of the SECOND, but—principally—mark it, principally of the FOURTH part of the Instauration, which are, indeed, rather the very objects of our hopes than hope itself.' Does he dare to tell us, in this very connection, that he is not a vain promiser, when no such PART as that to which he refers us here is to be found anywhere among his writings—when this principal part of his promise remains unfulfilled. 'The FOURTH part of the Instauration,' he says again in his formal description of it, 'enters upon philosophy itself, furnishing examples of inquiry and investigation, according to our own method, in certain subjects of the noblest kind, but greatly differing from each other, that a specimen may be had of every sort. By these examples, we mean not illustrations of rules and precepts,' [He will show the facts in such order, in such scientific, select, methodical arrangements, that rules and precepts will be forced from them; for he will show them, on the tables of invention, and rules and precepts are the vintage that flows from the illustrious instances—the prerogative instances—the ripe, large, cleared, selected clusters of facts, the subtle prepared history which the tables of invention collect. The definition of the simple original elements of history, the pure definition is the first vintage from these; but 'that which in speculative philosophy corresponds to the cause, in practical philosophy becomes the rule' and the axiom of practice, ready for use, is the final result.] 'but perfect models, which will exemplify the SECOND PART of this work, and represent, as it were, to the eye the whole progress of the mind, and the continued structure and order of invention in THE MORE CHOSEN SUBJECTS'—note it, in the more chosen subjects; but this is not at all—'after the same manner as globes and machines facilitate the more abstruse and subtle demonstrations in mathematics.' But in another place he tells us, that the poetic form of demonstration is the form to which it is necessary to have recourse on these subjects, especially when we come to these more abstruse and subtle demonstrations, as it opens an easy and familiar passage to the human understanding in all new discoveries, that are abstruse and out of the road of vulgar opinion; and that at the time he was writing out this plan of his works, any one, who would let in new light on the human understanding, and conquer prejudices, without raising animosity, opposition, or disturbance, had no choice—must go in that same path, or none. Where are those diagrams? And what does he mean, when he tells us in this connection that he is not a vain promiser? Where are those particular cases, in which this method of investigation is applied to the noblest subjects? Where are the diagrams, in which the order of the investigation is represented, as it were, to the eye, which serve the same purpose, 'that globes and machines serve in the more abstruse and subtle demonstrations in mathematics?' We are all acquainted with one poem, at least, published about that time, in which some very abstruse and subtle investigations appear to be in progress, not without the use of diagrams, and very lively ones too; but one in which the intention of the poet appears to be to the last degree 'enigmatical,' inasmuch as it has engaged the attention of the most philosophical minds ever since, and inasmuch as the most able critics have never been able to comprehend that intention fully in their criticism. And it is bound up with many others, in which the subjects are not less carefully chosen, and in which the method of inquiry is the same; in which that same method that is exhibited in the 'Novum Organum' in the abstract, or in its application to the investigation of the physical phenomena, is everywhere illustrated in the most chosen subjects—in subjects of the noblest kind. This volume, and another which has been mentioned here, contain the THIRD and FOURTH PARTS of the Great Instauration, whether this man who describes them here, and who forgot, it would seem, to fulfil his promise in reference to them, be aware of it or not.
That is the part of the Great Instauration that we want now, and we are fairly entitled to it, because these are not 'the next ages,' or 'the times which were nearer,' and which this author seldom speaks of without betraying his clear foresight of the political and social convulsions that were then at hand. These are the times, which were farther off, to which he appeals from those nearer ages, and to which he expressly dedicates the opening of his designs.
Now, what is it that we have to find? What is it that is missing out of this philosophy? Nothing less than the 'principal' part of it. All that is good for anything in it, according to the author's own estimate. The rest serves merely 'to pass the time,' or it is good as it serves to prepare the way for this. What is it that we have to look for? The 'Novum Organum,' that severe, rigorous method of scientific inquiry, applied to the more chosen subjects in the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and James I. Tables of Review of Instances, and all that Logic which is brought out in the doctrine of the PREROGATIVE INSTANCES, whereby the mind of man is prepared for its encounter with fact in general, brought down to particulars, and applied to the noblest subjects, and to every sort of subject which the philosophic mind of that age chose to apply it to. That is what we want to find.
'The prerogative instances' in 'the more chosen subjects.' The whole field which that philosophy chose for its field, and called the noblest, the principal, the chosen, the more chosen one. Every part of it reduced to scientific inquiry, put under the rule of the 'Novum Organum'; that is what we want to find. We know that no such thing could possibly be found in the acknowledged writings of this author. Nothing answering to that description, composed by a statesman and a philosopher, with an avowed intention in his writing—an intention to effect changes, too, in the actual condition of men, and 'to suborn practice and actual life,' no such work by such an author could by any means have been got through the press then. No one who studies the subject will think of looking for that FOURTH PART of the Instauration among the author's acknowledged writings. Does he give us any hint as to where we are to look for it? Is there any intimation as to the particular form of writing in which we are to find it? for find it we must and shall, because he is not a vain promiser. The subject itself determines the form, he says; and the fact that the whole ground of the discovery is ground already necessarily comprehended in the preconceptions of the many—that it is ground covered all over with the traditions and rude theories of unlearned ages, this fact, also, imperiously determines the method of the inculcation. Who that knows what the so-called Baconian method of learning really is, will need to be told that the principal books of it will be—books of INSTANCES and PARTICULARS, SPECIMENS—living ones, and that these will occupy the prominent place in the book; and that the conclusions and precepts will come in as abstractions from these, drawn freshly and on the spot from particulars, and, therefore, ready for use, 'knowing the way to particulars again?' Who would ever expect to find the principal books of this learning—the books in which it enters upon philosophy itself, and undertakes to leave a specimen of its own method in the noblest subjects in its own chosen field—who would ever expect to find these books, books of abstractions, books of precepts, with instances or examples brought in, to illustrate or make them good? For this is not a point of method merely, but a point of substance, as he takes pains to tell us. And who that has ever once read his own account of the method in which he proposes to win the human mind from its preconceptions, instead of undertaking to overcome it with Logic and sharp disputations,—who that knows what place he gives to Rhetoric, what place he gives to the Imagination in his scheme of innovation, will expect to find these books, books of a dry didactic learning? Does the student know how many times, in how many forms, under how many different heads, he perseveringly inserts the bold assurance, that the form of poesy and enigmatic allusive writing is the only form in which the higher applications of his discovery can be made to any purpose in that age? Who would expect to find this part in any professedly scientific work, when he tells us expressly, 'Reason cannot be so sensible, nor examples so fit,' as the examples which his scientific terminology includes in the department of Poesy?
All the old historical wisdom was in that form, he says; all the first philosophy was poetical; all the old divinity came in history and parable; and even to this day, he who would let in new light upon the human understanding, without raising opposition or disturbance, must still go in the same path, and have recourse to the like method.
He was an innovator; he was not an agitator. And he claims that mark of a divine presence in his work, that its benefactions come, without noise or perturbation, in aura leni. Of innovations, there has been none in history like that which he propounded, but neither would he strive nor cry. There was no voice in the streets, there was no red ensign lifted, there was no clarion-swell, or roll of the conqueror's drum to signal to the world that entrance. He, too, claims a divine authority for his innovation, and he declares it to be of God. It is the providential order of the world's history which is revealed in it; it is the fulfilment of ancient prophecy which this new chief, laden with new gifts for men, openly announces.
'Let us begin from God,' he says, when he begins to open his ground of hope, after he has exposed the wretched condition of men as he finds them, without any scientific knowledge of the laws and institutes of the universe they inhabit, engaged in a perpetual and mad collision with them; 'Let us begin from God, and show that our pursuit, from its exceeding goodness, clearly proceeds from Him, the Author of GOOD and Father of LIGHT. Now, in all divine works, the smallest beginnings lead assuredly to some results; and the rule in spiritual matters, that the Kingdom of God cometh without observation, is also found to be true in every great work of PROVIDENCE, so that everything glides in quietly, without confusion or noise; and the matter is achieved before men even think of perceiving that it is commenced.' 'Men,' he tells us, 'men should imitate Nature, who innovateth greatly but quietly, and by degrees scarce to be perceived,' who will not dispense with the old form till the new one is finished and in its place.
What is that we want to find? We want to find the new method of scientific inquiry applied to the questions in which men are most deeply interested—questions which were then imperiously and instantly urged on the thoughtful mind. We want to see it applied to POLITICS in the reign of James the First. We want to see it applied to the open questions of another department of inquiry,—certainly not any less important,—in that reign, and in the reign which preceded it. We want to see the facts sifted through those scientific tables of review, from which the true form of SOVEREIGNTY, the legitimate sovereignty, is to be inducted, and the scientific axioms of government with it. We want to see the science of observation and experiment, the science of nature in general, applied to the cure of the common-weal in the reign of James the First, and to that particular crisis in its disease, in which it appeared to the observers to be at its last gasp; and that, too, by the principal doctors in that profession,—men of the very largest experience in it, who felt obliged to pursue their work conscientiously, whether the patient objected or not. But are there any such books as these? Certainly. You have the author's own word for it. 'Some may raise this question,' he says, 'this question rather than objection'—[it is better that it should come in the form of a question, than in the form of an objection, as it would have come, if there had been no room to 'raise the question']—'whether we talk of perfecting natural philosophy' [using the term here in its usual limited sense], 'whether we talk of perfecting natural philosophy alone, according to our method, or, the other sciences—such as, ETHICS, LOGIC, POLITICS.' That is the question 'raised.' 'We certainly intend to comprehend them ALL.' That is the author's answer to it. 'And as common logic which regulates matters by syllogism, is applied, not only to natural, but to every other science, so our inductive method likewise comprehends them ALL.' With such iteration will he think fit to give us this point. It is put in here for those 'who raise the question'—the question 'rather than objection.' The other sort are taken care of in other places. 'For,' he continues, 'we form a history and tables of invention, for anger, fear, shame, and the like; and also for examples in civil life' [that was to be the principal part of the science when he laid out the plan of it in the advancement of learning] 'and the mental operations of memory, composition, division, judgment, and the rest; as well as for heat and cold, light and vegetation, and the like.' That is the plan of the new science, as the author sketches it for the benefit of those who raise questions rather than objections. That is its comprehension precisely, whenever he undertakes to mark out its limits for the satisfaction of this class of readers. But this is that same FOURTH PART to which he refers us in the other places for the application of his method to those nobler subjects, those more chosen subjects; and that is just the part of his science which appears to be wanting. How happens it? Did he get so occupied with the question of heat and cold, light and vegetation, and the like, that after all he forgot this part with its nobler applications? How could that be, when he tells us expressly, that they are the more chosen subjects of his inquiry. This part which he speaks of here, is the missing part of his philosophy, unquestionably. These are the books of it which have been missing hitherto; but in that Providential order of events to which he refers himself, the time has come for them to be inquired for; and this inquiry is itself a part of that movement, in which the smallest beginnings lead assuredly to some result. For, 'let us begin from God,' he says, 'and show that our pursuit, from its exceeding goodness, clearly proceeds from Him, the Author of GOOD, and not of misery; the Father of LIGHT, and not of darkness.'
Of course, it was impossible to get out any scientific doctrine of the human society, without coming at once in collision with that doctrine of the divinity of arbitrary power which the monarchs of England were then openly sustaining. Who needs to be told, that he who would handle that argument scientifically, then, without military weapons, as this inquirer would, must indeed 'pray in aid of similes.' And yet a very searching and critical inquiry into the claims of that institution, which the new philosophy found in possession of the human welfare, and asserting a divine right to it as a thing of private property and legitimate family inheritance,—such a criticism was, in fact, inevitably involved in that inquiry into the principles of a human subjection which appeared to this philosopher to belong properly to the more chosen subjects of a scientific investigation.
And notwithstanding the delicacy of the subjects, and the extremely critical nature of the investigation, when it came to touch those particulars, with which the personal observations and experiments of the founders of this new school in philosophy had tended to enrich their collections in this department,—'and the aim is better,' says the principal spokesman of this school, who quietly proposes to introduce this method into politics, 'the aim is better when the mark is alive;' notwithstanding the difficulties which appeared to lie then in the way of such an investigation, the means of conducting it to the entire satisfaction, and, indeed, to the large entertainment of the persons chiefly concerned, were not wanting. For this was one of those 'secrets of policy,' which have always required the aid of fable, and the idea of dramatising the fable for the sake of reaching in some sort those who are incapable of receiving any thing 'which does not directly fall under, and strike the senses,' as the philosopher has it; those who are capable of nothing but 'dumb shows and noise,' as Hamlet has it; this idea, though certainly a very happy, was not with these men an original one. Men, whose relations to the state were not so different as the difference in the forms of government would perhaps lead us to suppose,—men of the gravest learning and enriched with the choicest accomplishments of their time, had adopted that same method of influencing public opinion, some two thousand years earlier, and even as long before as that, there were 'secrets of morality and policy,' to which this form of writing appeared to offer the most fitting veil.
Whether 'the new' philosopher,—whether 'the new magician' of this time, was, in fact, in possession of any art which enabled him to handle without diffidence or scruple the great political question which was then already the question of the time; whether 'THE CROWN'—that double crown of military conquest and priestly usurpation, which was the one estate of the realm at that crisis in English history, did, among other things in some way, come under the edges of that new analysis which was severing all here then, and get divided clearly with 'the mind, that divine fire,'—whether any such thing as that occurred here then, the reader of the following pages will be able to judge. The careful reader of the extracts they contain, taken from a work of practical philosophy which made its appearance about those days, will certainly have no difficulty at all in deciding that question. For, first of all, it is necessary to find that political key to the Elizabethan art of delivery, which unlocks the great works of the Elizabethan philosophy, and that is the necessity which determines the selection of the Plays that are produced in this volume. They are brought in to illustrate the fact already stated, and already demonstrated, the fact which is the subject of this volume, the fact that the new practical philosophy of the modern ages, which has its beginning here, was not limited, in the plan of its founders, to 'natural philosophy' and 'the part operative' of that,—the fact that it comprehended, as its principal department, the department in which its 'noblest subjects' lay, and in which its most vital innovations were included, a field of enquiry which could not then be entered without the aid of fable and parable, and one which required not then only, 'but now, and at all times,' the aid of a vivid poetic illustration; they are brought in to illustrate the fact already demonstrated from other sources, the fact that the new philosophy was the work of men able to fulfil their work under such conditions, able to work, if not for the times that were nearer, for the times that were further off; men who thought it little so they could fulfil and perfect their work and make their account of it to the Work-master, to robe another with their glory; men who could relinquish the noblest works of the human genius, that they might save them from the mortal stabs of an age of darkness, that they might make them over unharmed in their boundless freedom, in their unstained perfection, to the farthest ages of the advancement of learning,—that they might 'teach them how to live and look fresh' still,
'When tyrants' crests, and tombs of brass are spent.'
That is the one fact, the indestructible fact, which this book is to demonstrate.
'Thou'dst shun a bear; But if thy way lay towards the raging sea, Thou'dst meet the bear i' the mouth.'
PHILOSOPHY IN THE PALACE.
'I think the king is but a man, as I am.'—King Henry. 'They told me I was everything.'—Lear.
OF course, it was not possible that the prerogative should be openly dealt with at such a time, questioned, discussed, scientifically examined, in the very presence of royalty itself, except by persons endowed with extraordinary privileges and immunities, persons, indeed, of quite irresponsible authority, whose right to do and say what they pleased, Elizabeth herself, though they should enter upon a critical analysis of the divine rights of kings to her face, and deliberately lay bare the defects in that title which she was then attempting to maintain, must needs notwithstanding, concede and respect.
And such persons, as it happened, were not wanting in the retinue of that sovereignty which was working in disguise here then, and laying the foundations of that throne in the thoughts of men, which would replace old principalities and powers, and not political dominions merely. To the creative genius which waited on the philosophic mind of that age, making up in the splendour of its gifts for the poverty of its exterior conditions, such persons,—persons of any amount or variety of capacity which the necessary question of its play might require, were not wanting:—'came with a thought.'
Of course, poor Bolingbroke, fevered with the weight of his ill-got crown, and passing a sleepless night in spite of its supposed exemptions, unable to command on his state-bed, with all his royal means and appliances, the luxury that the wet sea boy in the storm enjoys,—and the poet appears, to have had some experience of this mortal ill, which inclines him to put it down among those which ought to be excluded from a state of supreme earthly felicity,—the poor guilty disgusted usurper, discovering that this so blessed 'invention' was not included in the prerogative he had seized, under the exasperation of the circumstances, might surely be allowed to mutter to himself, in the solitude of his own bed-chamber, a few general reflections on the subject, and, indeed, disable his own position to any extent, without expecting to be called to an account for it, by any future son or daughter of his usurping lineage. That extraordinary, but when one came to look at it, quite incontestable fact, that nature in her sovereignty, imperial still, refused to recognize this artificial difference in men, but still went on her way in all things, as if 'the golden standard' were not there, classing the monarch with his 'poorest subject;'—the fact that this charmed 'round of sovereignty,' did not after all secure the least exemption from the common individual human frailty, and helplessness,—this would, of course, strike the usurper who had purchased the crown at such an expense, as a fact in natural history worth communicating, if it were only for the benefit of future princes, who might be disposed to embark in a similar undertaking. Here, of course, the moral was proper, and obvious enough; or close at hand, and ready to be produced, in case any serious inquiry should be made for it; though the poet might seem, perhaps, to a severely critical mind, disposed to pursue his philosophical inquiry a little too curiously into the awful secrets of majesty, retired within itself, and pondering its own position;—openly searching what Lord Bacon reverently tells us, the Scriptures pronounce to be inscrutable, namely, the hearts of kings, and audaciously laying bare those private passages, those confessions, and misgivings, and frailties, for which policy and reverence prescribe concealment, and which are supposed in the play, indeed, to be shrouded from the profane and vulgar eye, a circumstance which, of course, was expected to modify the impression.