Skip to main content

Full text of "The philosophy of the plays of Shakspere unfolded"

See other formats

. < 











Aphorisms representing a knowledge broken do invite men to 
inquire further. Loud Bacon. 

You find not the apostrophes, and so miss the accent. 

Love's Labour's Lost. 
Untie the spell— Prospero. 















I. The Proposition xvii 

JI. The Age of Elizabeth, and the Elizabethan Men of 

Letters xxvii 

III. Extracts from thp Lifc of -Ral^** _Pai«i«.v«, s~wi u 


I. The Elizabethan Heroism 333 

II. Criticism of the Martial Government . . . . 35 2 

III. ' Insurrections Arguing ' 3 6 ° 

IV. Political Retrospect 37 2 

V. The Popular Election 3 8 9 

VI. The Scientific Method in PoHtics 4 IQ 

VII. Volumnia and her Boy N 4 2 7 

VIII. Metaphysical Aid 454 

IX. The Cure.— Plan of Innovation.— New Definitions . -473 

X. „ „ „ New Constructions . 497 

XL „ „ „ 'The Initiative' 512 

XII. The Ignorant Election revoked.— A ' Wrestling Instance' . 535 

XIII. Conclusion 5 61 





I. The ' Beginners.' — ['Particular Methods of Tradition.'— *' 

The Double Method of 'Illustration ' and 'Concealment '] 63 
II. Index to the ' Illustrated' and 'Concealed Tradition' of 
the Principal and Supreme Sciences.— The Science of 
Policy .... 
III. The Science of Morality. § 1. The Exemplar of Good ! 
» » » § 11. The Husbandry thereunto, 

or the Cure and Culture of 
the Mind.— Application . izi 
" " » Alteration . 143 

VI. Method of Conveying the Wisdom of the Moderns . I5 g 

9 z 















I. The Death of Tyranny ; or, the Question of the Prerogative 308 
II. Caesar's Spirit • 3 2J 



I. The Elizabethan Heroism 333 

II. Criticism of the Martial Government . . . • 35* 

III. ' Insurrections Arguing ' 3 6 ° 

IV. Political Retrospect 37* 

V. The Popular Election 3 8 9 

VI. The Scientific Method in Pohtics 4 IQ 

VII. Volumnia and her Boy N 4*7 

VIII. Metaphysical Aid 454 

IX. The Cure.— Plan of Innovation.— New Definitions . -473 

XNew Constructions . 497 
n >? " 

vt 'The Initiative 512 

Al. 5J » » 

XII. The Ignorant Election revoked.— A ' Wrestling Instance' . 535 
XIII. Conclusion 5 Sl 


HPHIS Volume contains the argument, drawn from the Plays 
usually attributed to Shakspere, in support of a theory 
which the author of it has demonstrated by historical evidences 
in another work. Having never read this historical demonstra- 
tion (which remains still in manuscript, with the exception of 
a preliminary chapter, published long ago in an American 
periodical), I deem it necessary to cite the author's own ac- 
count of it: — 

1 The Historical Part of this work (which was originally the 
principal part, and designed to furnish the historical key to 
the great Elizabethan writings), though now for a long time 
completed and ready for the press, and though repeated refer- 
ence is made to it in this volume, is, for the most part, omitted 
here. It contains a true and before unwritten history, and 
it will yet, perhaps, be published as it stands; but the vivid 
and accumulating historic detail, with which more recent 
research tends to enrich the earlier statement, and disclosures 
which no invention could anticipate, are waiting now to be 
subjoined to it. 

* The internal evidence of the assumptions made at the 
outset is that which is chiefly relied on in the work now first 
presented on this subject to the public. The demonstration 
will be found complete on that ground; and on that ground 
alone the author is willing, and deliberately prefers, for the 
present, to rest it. 


'External evidence, of course, will not be wanting; there 
will be enough and to spare, if the demonstration here be 
correct. But the author of the discovery was not willing to 
rob the world of this great question; but wished rather to 
share with it the benefit which the true solution of the 
Problem offers — the solution prescribed by those who pro- 
pounded it to the future. It seemed better to save to the 
world the power and beauty of this demonstration, its intel- 
lectual stimulus, its demand on the judgment. It seemed 
better, that the world should acquire it also in the form of criti- 
cism, instead of being stupified and overpowered with the mere 
force of an irresistible, external, historical proof. Persons in- 
capable of appreciating any other kind of proof, — those who 
are capable of nothing that does not ' directly fall under and 
strike the senses/ as Lord Bacon expresses it, — will have their 
time also; but it was proposed to present the subject first to 
minds of another order.' 

In the present volume, accordingly, the author applies 
herself to the demonstration and development of a system of 
philosophy, which has presented itself to her as underlying 
the superficial and ostensible text of Shakspere's plays. Traces 
of the same philosophy, too, she conceives herself to have 
found in the acknowledged works of Lord Bacon, and in those 
of other writers contemporary with him. All agree in one 
system; all these traces indicate a common understanding and 
unity of purpose in men among whom no brotherhood has 
hitherto been suspected, except as representatives of a grand 
and brilliant age, when the human intellect made a marked 
step in advance. 

The author did not (as her own consciousness assures her) 
either construct or originally seek this new philosophy. In 
many respects, if I have rightly understood her, it was at 
variance with her pre-conceived opinions, whether ethical, 
religious, or political. She had been for years a student 


of Shakspere, looking for nothing in his plays beyond what 
the world has agreed to find in them, when she began to see, 
under the surface, the gleam of this hidden treasure. It was 
carefully hidden, indeed, yet not less carefully indicated, as 
with a pointed finger, by such marks and references as could 
not ultimately escape the notice of a subsequent age, which 
should be capable of profiting by the rich inheritance. So, 
too, in regard to Lord Bacon. The author of this volume 
had not sought to put any but the ordinary and obvious inter- 
pretation upon his works, nor to take any other view of his 
character than what accorded with the unanimous judgment 
upon it of all the generations since his epoch. But, as she 
penetrated more and more deeply into the plays, and became 
aware of those inner readings, she found herself compelled to 
turn back to the * Advancement of Learning' for information as 
to their plan and purport; and Lord Bacon's Treatise failed 
not to give her what she sought ; thus adding to the immortal 
dramas, in her idea, a far higher value than their warmest ad- 
mirers had heretofore claimed for them. They filled out the 
scientific scheme which Bacon had planned, and which needed 
only these profound and vivid illustrations of human life and 
character to make it perfect. Finally, the author's researches 
led her to a point where she found the plays claimed for Lord 
Bacon and his associates, — not in a way that was meant to be 
intelligible in their own perilous times, — but in characters 
that only became legible, and illuminated, as it were, in the 
light of a subsequent period. 

The reader will soon perceive that the new philosophy, 
as here demonstrated, was of a kind that no professor could 
have ventured openly to teach in the days of Elizabeth 
and James. The concluding chapter of the present work 
makes a powerful statement of the position which a man, 
conscious of great and noble aims, would then have occupied; 
and shows, too, how familiar the age was with all methods 


of secret communication, and of hiding thought beneath a 
masque of conceit or folly. Applicably to this subject, I 
quote a paragraph from a manuscript of the author's, not 'in- 
tended for present publication : — 

'It was a time when authors, who treated of a scientific 
politics and of a scientific ethics internally connected with it, 
naturally preferred this more philosophic, symbolic method of 
indicating their connection with their writings, which would 
limit the indication to those who could pierce within the veil of 
a philosophic symbolism. It was the time when the cipher, in 
which one could write ' omnia per omnia, 3 was in such request, 
and when < wheel ciphers' and ' doubles' were thought not un- 
worthy of philosophic notice. It was a time, too, when the 
phonographic art was cultivated, and put to other uses than at 
present, and when a l nom de plume' was required for other 
purposes than to serve as the refuge of an author's modesty, 
or vanity, or caprice. It was a time when puns, and charades^ 
and enigmas, and anagrams, and monograms, and ciphers, and 
puzzles, were not good for sport and child's play merely; when 
they had need to be close; when they had need to be solvable, 
at least, only to those who should solve them. It was a time 
when all the latent capacities of the English language were 
put in requisition, and it was flashing and crackling, through 
all its lengths and breadths, with puns and quips, and conceits, 
and jokes, and satires, and inlined with philosophic secrets that 
opened down < into the bottom of a tomb' — that opened into 
the Tower — that opened on the scaffold and the block.' 

I quote, likewise, another passage, because I think the 
reader will see in it the noble earnestness of the author's cha- 
racter, and may partly imagine the sacrifices which this 
research has cost her : — 

' The great secret of the Elizabethan age did not lie where 
any superficial research could ever have discovered it. It was 
not left within the range of any accidental disclosure. It did 


not lie on the surface of any Elizabethan document. The most 
diligent explorers of these documents, in two centuries and a 
quarter, had not found it. No faintest suspicion of it had ever 
crossed the mind of the most recent, and clear-sighted, and 
able investigator of the Baconian remains. It was buried in the 
lowest depths of the lowest deeps of the deep Elizabethan Art ; 
that Art which no plummet, till now, has ever sounded. It 
was locked with its utmost reach of traditionary cunning. It 
was buried in the inmost recesses of the esoteric Elizabethan 
learning. It was tied with a knot that had passed the scrutiny 
and baffled the sword of an old, suspicious, dying, military 
government — a knot that none could cut — a knot that must 
be untied. 

4 The great secret of the Elizabethan Age was inextricably 
reserved by the founders of a new learning, the prophetic and 
more nobly gifted minds of a new and nobler race of men, for 
a research that should test the mind of the discoverer, and frame 
and subordinate it to that so sleepless and indomitable pur- 
pose of the prophetic aspiration. It was ' the device ' by which 
they undertook to live again in the ages in which their achieve- 
ments and triumphs were forecast, and to come forth and rule 
again, not in one mind, not in the few, not in the many, but in 
all. ' For there is no throne like that throne in the thoughts of 
men/ which the ambition of these men climbed and compassed. 

* The principal works of the Elizabethan Philosophy, those 
in which the new method of learning was practically applied to 
the noblest subjects, were presented to the world in the form 
of AN enigma. It was a form well fitted to divert inquiry, 
and baffle even the research of the scholar for a time ; but one 
calculated to provoke the philosophic curiosity, and one which 
would inevitably command a research that could end only 
with the true solution. That solution was reserved for 
one who would recognise, at last, in the disguise of the 
great impersonal teacher, the disguise of a new learning. It 


waited for the reader who would observe, at last, those thick- 
strewn scientific clues, those thick-crowding enigmas, those 
perpetual beckonings from the < theatre' into the judicial palace 
of the mind. It was reserved for the student who would recog- 
nise, at last, the mind that was seeking so perseveringly to 
whisper its tale of outrage, and ' the secrets it was forbid/ It 
waited for one who would answer, at last, that philosophic 
challenge, and say, ' Go on, 1 11 follow thee !' . It was reserved 
for one who would count years as days, for the love of the 
truth it hid ; who would never turn back on the long road of 
initiation, though all ' the idols' must be left behind in its 
stages; who would never stop until it stopped in that new cave 
of Apollo, where the handwriting on the wall spells anew the 
old Delphic motto, and publishes the word that < unties the 

On this object, which she conceives so loftily, the author 
has bestowed the solitary and self-sustained toil of many years. 
The volume now before the reader, together with the histori- 
cal demonstration which it pre-supposes, is the product of 
a most faithful and conscientious labour, and a truly heroic 
devotion of intellect and heart. No man or woman has ever 
thought or written more sincerely than the author of this 
book. She has given nothing less than her life to the work. 
And, as if for the greater trial of her constancy, her theory 
was divulged, some time ago, in so partial and unsatisfactory 
a manner — with so exceedingly imperfect a statement of its 
claims— as to put her at great disadvantage before the 
world. A single article from her pen, purporting to be the 
first of a series, appeared in an American Magazine ; but unex- 
pected obstacles prevented the further publication in that form, 
after enough had been done to assail the prejudices of the 
public, but far too little to gain its sympathy. Another evil 
followed. An English writer (in a ' Letter to the Earl of 
Ellesmere,' published within a few months past) has thought 

PREFACE. xiii 

it not inconsistent with the fair-play, on which his country 
prides itself, to take to himself this lady's theory, and favour 
the public with it as his own original conception, without 
allusion to the author's prior claim. In reference to this 
pamphlet, she generously says : — 

' This has not been a selfish enterprise. It is not a personal 
concern. It is a discovery which belongs not to an individual, 
and not to a people. Its fields are wide enough and rich 
enough for us all; and he that has no work, and whoso will, 
let him come and labour in them. The field is the world's; 
and the world's work henceforth is in it. So that it be known 
in its real comprehension, in its true relations to the weal of 
the world, what matters it? So that the truth, which is dearer 
than all the rest — which abides with us when all others leave 
us, dearest then — so that the truth, which is neither yours 
nor mine, but yours and mine, be known, loved, honoured, 
emancipated, mitred, crowned, adored — who loses anything, 
that does not find it.' * And what matters it,' says the 
philosophic wisdom, speaking in the abstract, ' what name 
it is proclaimed in, and what letters of the alphabet we 
know it by? — what matter is it, so that they spell the name 
that is good for all, and good for each? — for that is the 
real name here? 

Speaking on the author's behalf, however, I am not entitled 
to imitate her magnanimity; and, therefore, hope that the 
writer of the pamphlet will disclaim any purpose of assuming 
to himself, on the ground of a slight and superficial perform- 
ance, the result which she has attained at the cost of many 
toils and sacrifices. 

And now, at length, after many delays and discourage- 
ments, the work comes forth. It had been the author's 
original purpose to publish it in America; for she wished 
her own country to have the glory of solving the enigma 
of those mighty dramas, and thus adding a new and higher 


value to the loftiest productions of the English mind. It 
seemed to her most fit and desirable, that America — having 
received so much from England, and returned so little — should 
do what remained to be done towards rendering this great 
legacy available, as its authors meant it to be, to all future 
time. This purpose was frustrated; and it will be seen in 
what spirit she acquiesces. 

' The author was forced to bring it back, and contribute it 
to the literature of the country from which it was derived, 
and to which it essentially and inseparably belongs. It was 
written, every word of it, on English ground, in the midst of 
the old familiar scenes and household names, that even in our 
nursery songs revive the dear ancestral memories; those ' royal 
pursuivants' with which our mother-land still follows and re- 
takes her own. It was written in the land of our old kings and 
queens, and in the land of our own philosophers and poets 
also. It was written on the spot where the works it unlocks 
were written, and in the perpetual presence of the English 
mind ; the mind that spoke before in the cultured few, and that 
speaks to-day in the cultured many. And it is now at last, 
after so long a time — after all, as it should be — the English 
press that prints it. It is the scientific English press, with 
those old gags (wherewith our kings and queens sought to stop 
it, ere they knew what it was) champed asunder, ground to 
powder, and with its last Elizabethan shackle shaken off, that 
restores, ' in a better hour/ the torn and garbled science com- 
mitted to it, and gives back 'the bread cast on its sure 

There remains little more for me to say. I am not the 
editor of this work ; nor can I consider myself fairly entitled 
to the honor (which, if I deserved it, I should feel to be a very 
high as well as a perilous one) of seeing my name associated 
with the author's on the title-page. My object has been 
merely to speak a few words, which might, perhaps, serve the 


purpose of placing my countrywoman upon a ground of 
amicable understanding with the public. She has a vast pre- 
liminary difficulty to encounter. The first feeling of every 
reader must be one of absolute repugnance towards a person 
who seeks to tear out of the Anglo-Saxon heart the name 
which for ages it has held dearest, and to substitute another 
name, or names, to which the settled belief of the world has 
long assigned a very different position. What I claim for 
this work is, that the ability employed in its composition has 
been worthy of its great subject, and well employed for our 
intellectual interests, whatever judgment the public may pass 
upon the questions discussed. And, after listening to the 
author's interpretation of the Plays, and seeing how wide a 
scope she assigns to them, how high a purpose, and what 
richness of inner meaning, the thoughtful reader will hardly 
return again — not wholly, at all events — to the common view 
of them and of their author. It is for the public to say 
whether my countrywoman has proved her theory. In the 
worst event, if she has failed, her failure will be more 
honorable than most people's triumphs ; since it must fling 
upon the old tombstone, at Stratford-on-Avon, the noblest 
tributary wreath that has ever lain there. 

Nathaniel Hawthorne. 



• One time will owe another.' — Coriolanus. 

THIS work is designed to propose to the consideration, not 
of the learned world only, but of all ingenuous and prac- 
tical minds, a new development of that system of practical 
philosophy from which the SCIENTIFIC ARTS of the Modern 
Ages proceed, and which has already become, just to the ex- 
tent to which it has been hitherto opened, the wisdom, — the 
universally approved, and practically adopted, Wisdom of the 

It is a development of this philosophy, which was de- 
liberately postponed by the great Scientific Discoverers and 
Keformers, in whose Scientific Discoveries and Reformations 
our organised advancements in speculation and practice have 
their origin; — Reformers, whose scientific acquaintance with 
historic laws forbade the idea of any immediate and sudden 
cures of the political and social evils which their science 
searches to the root, and which it was designed to eradicate. ; 

The proposition to be demonstrated in the ensuing pages is 
this: That the new philosophy which strikes out from the 
Court — from the Court of that despotism that names and 
gives form to the Modern Learning, — which comes to us 


from the Court of the last of the Tudors and the first of the 
Stuarts, — that new philosophy which we have received, and 
accepted, and adopted as a practical philosophy, not merely in 
that grave department of learning in which it comes to us 
professionally as philosophy, but in that not less important 
department of learning in which it comes to us in the disguise 
of amusement, — in the form of fable and allegory and para- 
ble, — the proposition is, that this Elizabethan philosophy is, 
in these two forms of it, — not two philosophies, — not two 
Elizabethan philosophies, not two new and wondrous phi- 
losophies of nature and practice, not two new Inductive 
philosophies, but one, — one and the same: that it is philosophy 
in both these forms, with its veil of allegory and parable, and 
without it; that it is philosophy applied to much more im- 
portant subjects in the disguise of the parable, than it is in 
the open statement; that it is philosophy in both these cases, 
and not philosophy in one of them, and a brutish, low-lived, 
illiterate, unconscious spontaneity in the other. 

The proposition is that it proceeds, in both cases, from a 
reflective deliberative, eminently deliberative, eminently con- 
scious, designing mind; and that the coincidence which is 
manifest not in the design only, and in the structure, but in the 
detail to the minutest points of execution, is not accidental. 

It is a proposition which is demonstrated in this volume by 
means of evidence derived principally from the books of this 
philosophy — books in which the safe delivery and tradition 
of it to the future was artistically contrived and triumphantly 
achieved: — the books of a new ' school' in philosophy; books 
in which the connection with the school is not always openly 
asserted; books in which the true names of the authors are 
not always found on the title-page; — the books of a school, too, 
which was compelled to have recourse to translations in some 
cases, for the safe delivery and tradition of its new learning. 

The facts which lie on the surface of this question, which 
are involved in the bare statement of it, are sufficient of them- 
selves to justify and command this inquiry. 

The fact that these two great branches of the philosophy 


of observation and practice, both already virtually recognised 
as that, — the one openly subordinating the physical forces of 
nature to the wants of man, changing the face of the earth 
under our eyes, leaving behind it, with its new magic, the 
miracles of Oriental dreams and fables; — the other, under its 
veil of wildness and spontaneity, under its thick-woven veil 
of mirth and beauty, with its inducted precepts and dispersed 
directions, insinuating itself into all our practice, winding 
itself into every department of human affairs; speaking from 
the legislator's lips, at the bar, from the pulpit, — putting in its 
word every where, always at hand, always sufficient, con- 
stituting itself, in virtue of its own irresistible claims and in 
the face of what we are told of it, the oracle, the great prac- 
tical, mysterious, but universally acknowledged, oracle of our 
modern life; the fact that these two great branches of the 
modern philosophy make their appearance in history at the 
same moment, that they make their appearance in the same 
company of men — in that same little courtly company of 
Elizabethan Wits and Men of Letters that the revival of the 
ancient learning brought out here — this is the fact that strikes 
the eye at the first glance at this inquiry. 

But that this is none other than that same little clique of 
disappointed and defeated politicians who undertook to head 
and organize a popular opposition against the government, 
and were compelled to retreat from that enterprise, the best of 
of them effecting their retreat with some difficulty, others 
failing entirely to accomplish it, is the next notable fact which 
the surface of the inquiry exhibits. That these two so illus- 
trious branches of the modern learning were produced for the 
ostensible purpose of illustrating and adorning the tyrannies 
which the men, under whose countenance and protection they 
are produced, were vainly attempting, or had vainly attempted 
to set bounds to or overthrow, is a fact which might seem of 
itself to suggest inquiry. When insurrections are suppressed, 
when ' the monstrous enterprises of rebellious subjects are 
overthrown, then fame, who is the posthumous sister of the 
giants , — the sister of defeated giants springs up'; so a man 



who had made some political experiments himself that were 
not very successful, tells us. 

The fact that the men under whose patronage and in whose 
service ' Will the Jester ' first showed himself, were men 
who were secretly endeavouring to make political capital of 
that new and immense motive power, that not yet available, 
and not very easily organised political power which was 
already beginning to move the masses here then, and already 
threatening, to the observant eye, with its portentous move- 
ment, the foundations of tyranny, the fact, too, that these men 
were understood to have made use of the stage unsuccessfully 
as a means of immediate political effect, are facts which lie on 
the surface of the history of these works, and unimportant as 
it may seem to the superficial enquirer, it will be found to be 
anything but irrelevant as this inquiry proceeds. The man 
who is said to have contributed a thousand pounds towards 
the purchase of the theatre and wardrobe and machinery, in 
which these philosophical plays were first exhibited, was 
obliged to stay away from the first appearance of Hamlet, in the 
perfected excellence of the poetic philosophic design, in con- 
sequence of being immured in the Tower at that time for an 
attempt to overthrow the government. This was the ostensi- 
ble patron and friend of the Poet; the partner of his treason 
was the ostensible friend and patron of the Philosopher. So 
nearly did these philosophic minds, that were ' not for an age 
but for all time,' approach each other in this point. But the 
protege and friend and well-nigh adoring admirer of the Poet, 
was also the protege and friend and well-nigh adoring admirer 
of the Philosopher. The fact that these two philosophies, in 
this so close juxta-position, always in contact, playing always 
into each other's hands, never once heard of each other, know 
nothing of each other, is a fact which would seem at the first 
blush to point to the secret of these c Know-Nothings,' who 
are men of science in an age of popular ignorance, and there- 
fore have a 'secret'; who are men of science in an age in 
which the questions of science are ' forbidden questions,' and 
are therefore of necessity ' Know-Nothings.' 


As to Ben Jonson, and the evidence of his avowed ad- 
miration for the author of these plays, from the point of 
view here taken, it is sufficient to say in passing, that this 
man, whose natural abilities sufficed to raise him from a 
position hardly less mean and obscure than that of his great 
rival, was so fortunate as to attract the attention of some of 
the most illustrious personages of that time ; men whose obser- 
vation of natures was quickened by their necessities ; men who 
were compelled to employ ' living instruments ■ in the accom- 
plishment of their designs; who were skilful in detecting the 
qualities they had need of, and skilful in adapting means to 
ends. This dramatist's connection with the stage of course 
belongs to this history. His connection with the author of 
these Plays, and with the player himself, are points not to be 
overlooked. But the literary history of this age is not yet 
fully developed. It is enough to say here, that he chanced 
to be honored with the patronage of three of the most illus- 
trious personages of the age in which he lived. He had three 
patrons. One was Sir Walter Kaleigh, in whose service he 
was; one was the Lord Bacon, whose well nigh idolatrous 
admirer he appears also to have been ; the other was Shakspere, 
to whose favor he appears to have owed so much. With 
his passionate admiration of these last two, stopping only 
' this side of idolatry ' in his admiration for them both, and 
being under such deep personal obligations to them both, 
why could he not have mentioned some day to the author of 
the Advancement of Learning, the author of Hamlet — Hamlet 
who also ( lacked advancement?' What more natural than to 
suppose that these two philosophers, these men of a learning 
so exactly equal, might have some sympathy with each other, 
might like to meet each other. Till he has answered that 
question, any evidence which he may have to produce in 
apparent opposition to the conclusions here stated will not 
be of the least value. 

These are questions which any one might properly ask, who 
had only glanced at the most superficial or easily accessible facts 
in this case, and without any evidence from any other source to 



stimulate the inquiry. These are facts which lie on the surface 
of this history, which obtrude themselves on our notice, and 
demand inquiry. 

That which lies immediately below this surface, accessible 
to any research worthy of the name is, that these two so new 
extraordinary developments of the modern philosophy which 
come to us without any superficially avowed connexion, which 
come to us as branches of learning merely, do in fact meet and 
unite in one stem, 'which has a quality of entireness and 
continuance throughout/ even to the most delicate fibre of 
them both, even to the ' roots' of their trunk, * and the strings 
of those roots/ which trunk lies below the surface of that age, 
buried, carefully buried, for reasons assigned; and that it is 
the sap of this concealed trunk, this new trunk of sciences, 
which makes both these branches so vigorous, which makes 
the flowers and the fruit both so fine, and so unlike anything 
that we have had from any other source in the way of literature 
or art. 

The question of the authorship of the great philosophic 
poems which are the legacy of the Elizabethan Age to us, 
is an incidental question in this inquiry, and is incidentally 
treated here. The discovery of the authorship of these works 
was the necessary incident to that more thorough inquiry into 
their nature and design, of which the views contained in this 
volume are the result. At a certain stage of this inquiry, — 
in the later stages of it, — that discovery became inevitable. 
The primary question here is one of universal immediate 
practical concern and interest. The solution of this literary 
problem, happens to be involved in it. It was the necessary 
prescribed, pre-ordered incident of the reproduction and re- 
integration of the Inductive Philosophy in its application to its 
'principal* and 'noblest subjects/ its ' more chosen subjects/ 

The historical KEY to the Elizabethan Art of Tradition, 
which formed the first book of this work as it was originally 
prepared for the press, is not included in the present pub- 
lication. It was the part of the work first written, and the 
results of more recent research require to be incorporated in 


it, in order that it should represent adequately, in that parti- 
cular aspect of it, the historical discovery which it is the object 
of this work to produce. Moreover, the demonstration which 
is contained in this volume appeared to constitute properly a 
volume of itself. 

Those who examine the subject from this ground, will find 
the external collateral evidence, the ample historical confirma- 
tion which is at hand, not necessary for the support of the 
propositions advanced here, though it will, of course, be in- 
quired for, when once this ground is made. 

The embarrassing circumstances under which this great 
system of scientific practice makes its appearance in history, 
have not yet been taken into the account in our interpretation 
of it. We have already the documents which contain the 
theory and rule of the modern civilisation, which is the civil- 
isation of science in our hands. We have in our hands also, 
newly lit, newly trimmed, lustrous with the genius of our 
own time, that very lamp with which we are instructed to 
make this inquiry, that very light which we are told we must 
bring to bear upon the obscurities of these documents, that very 
light in which we are told, we must unroll them ; for they come 
to us, as the interpreter takes pains to tell us, with an * infolded ' 
science in them. That light of ' times, 3 that knowledge of the 
conditions under which these works were published, which 
is essential to the true interpretation of them, thanks to our 
contemporary historians, is already in our hands. What we 
need now is to explore the secrets of this philosophy with 
it, — necessarily secrets at the time it was issued — what we 
need now is to open these books of a new learning in it, and 
read them by it. 

In that part of the work above referred to, from which 
some extracts are subjoined for the purpose of introducing 
intelligibly the demonstration contained in this volume, it was 
the position of the Elizabethan Men of Letters that was ex- 
hibited, and the conditions which prescribed to the founders 
of a new school in philosophy, which was none other than the 
philosophy of practice, the form of their works and the conceal- 


ment of their connection with them — conditions which made 
the secret of an Association of ' Naturalists ' applying science 
in that age to the noblest subjects of speculative inquiry, and 
to the highest departments of practice, a life and death 
secret. The physical impossibility of publishing at that time, 
anything openly relating to the questions in which the weal 
of men is most concerned, and which are the primary ques- 
tions of the science of man's relief, the opposition which stood 
at that time prepared to crush any enterprise proposing openly 
for its end, the common interests of man as man, is the point 
which it was the object of that part of the work to exhibit. 
It was presented, not in the form of general statement merely, 
but in those memorable particulars which the falsified, sup- 
pressed, garbled history of the great founder of this school 
betrays to us; not as it is exhibited in contemporary docu- 
ments merely, but as it is carefully collected from these, and 
from the traditions of ' the next ages/ 

That the suppressed Elizabethan Reformers and Innovators 
were men so far in advance of their time, that they were 
compelled to have recourse to literature for the purpose of 
instituting a gradual encroachment on popular opinions, a 
gradual encroachment on the prejudices, the ignorance, the 
stupidity of the oppressed and suffering masses of the human 
kind, and for the purpose of making over the practical de- 
velopment of the higher parts of their science, to ages in 
which the advancements they instituted had brought the 
common mind within hearing of these higher truths; that 
these were men whose aims were so opposed to the power that 
was still predominant then, — though the ' wrestling ' that 
would shake that predominance, was already on foot, — that 
it became necessary for them to conceal their lives as well as 
their works, — to veil the true worth and nobility of them, to 
suffer those ends which they sought as means, means which 
they subordinated to the noblest uses, to be regarded in their 
own age as their ends; that they were compelled to play this 
great game in secret, in their own time, referring themselves 
to posthumous effects for the explanation of their designs; 


postponing their honour to ages able to discover their worth ; 
this is the proposition which is derived here from the works 
in which the tradition of this learning is conveyed to us. 

But in the part of this work referred to, from which the 
ensuing extracts are made, it was the life, and not merely the 
writings of the founders of this school which was produced in 
evidence of this claim. It was the life in which these dis- 
guised ulterior aims show themselves from the first on the 
historic surface, in the form of great contemporaneous events, 
events which have determined and shaped the course of the 
world's history since then; it was the life in which these in- 
tents show themselves too boldly on the surface, in which 
they penetrate the artistic disguise, and betray themselves to 
the antagonisms which were waiting to crush them; it was 
the life which combined these antagonisms for its suppression; 
it was the life and death of the projector and founder of the 
liberties of the New World, and the obnoxious historian and 
critic of the tyrannies of the Old, it was the life and death of 
Sir Walter Kaleigh that was produced as the Historical Key 
to the Elizabethan Art of Tradition. It was the Man of the 
Globe Theatre, it was the Man in the Tower with his two 
Hemispheres, it was the modern ' Hercules and his load too/ 
that made in the original design of it, the Frontispiece of 
this volume. 

'But stay I see thee in the hemisphere 
Advanced and made a constellation there. 
Shine forth, thou Star of Poets, and with rage 
Or influence, chide or cheer the drooping stage, 
Which since thy flight from hence hath mourned like night, 
And despairs day, but for thy Volume's light. 

[' To draw no envy Shake-spear on thy name, 
Am I thus ample to thy book and fame.' — Ben Jonson.] 

The machinery that was necessarily put in operation for the 
purpose of conducting successfully, under those conditions, any 
honourable or decent enterprise, presupposes a forethought 
and skill, a faculty for dramatic arrangement and successful 
plotting in historic materials, happily so remote from anything 


which the exigencies of our time have ever suggested to us, 
that we are not in a position to read at a glance the history 
of such an age; the history which lies on the surface of such 
an age when such men — men who are men — are at work in 
it. These are the Elizabethan men that we have to interpret 
here, because, though they rest from their labours, their works 
do follow them — the Elizabethan Men of Letters; and we 
must know what that title means before we can read them or 
their works, before we can ' untie their spelV 




The times, in many cases, give great light to true interpretations.* 

Advancement of Learning. 

'On fair ground 
I could beat forty of them.' 

1 1 could myself 
Take up a brace of the best of them, yea the two tribunes* 

1 But now 'tis odds beyond arithmetic, 
And manhood is called foolery when it stands 
Against a falling fabric' — Coriolanus. 

fTVHE fact that the immemorial liberties of the English People, 
-*- and that idea of human government and society which 
they brought with them to this island, had been a second time 
violently overborne and suppressed by a military chieftainship, 
— one for which the unorganised popular resistance was no 
match, — that the English People had been a second time 
1 conquered ' — for that is the word which the Elizabethan 
historian suggests — less than a hundred years before the 
beginning of the Elizabethan Age, is a fact in history which 
the great Elizabethan philosopher has contrived to send down 
to us, along with his philosophical works, as the key to the 
reading of them. It is a fact with which we are all now more 
or less familiar, but it is one which the Elizabethan Poet and 
Philosopher became acquainted with under circumstances 
calculated to make a much more vivid impression on the sen- 
sibilities than the most accurate and vivacious narratives and 
expositions of it which our time can furnish us. 

That this second conquest was unspeakably more degrading 
than the first had been, inasmuch as it was the conquest of a 
chartered, constitutional liberty, recovered and established in 


acts that had made the English history, recovered on battle-fields 
that were fresh, not in oral tradition only; inasmuch as it was 
effected in violation of that which made the name of English- 
men, that which made the universally recognised principle of the 
national life; inasmuch, too, as it was an undivided conquest, the 
conquest of the single will — the will of the ' one only man' — 
not unchecked of commons only, unchecked by barons, un- 
checked by the church, unchecked by council of any kind, the 
pure arbitrary absolute will, the pure idiosyncrasy, the crowned 
demon of the lawless, irrational will, unchained and armed 
with the sword of the common might, and clothed with the 
divinity of the common right; that this was a conquest un- 
speakably more debasing than the conquest 'commonly so 
called,'— this, which left no nobility,— which clasped its collar 
in open day on the proudest Norman neck, and not on the Saxon 
only, which left only one nation of slaves and bondmen— that this 
was a subjugation— that this was a government which the English 
nation had not before been familiar with, the men whose great 
life-acts were performed under it did not lack the sensibility 
and the judgment to perceive. 

A more hopeless conquest than the Norman conquest had 
been, it might also have seemed, regarded in some of the 
aspects which it presented to the eye of the statesman then ; 
for it was in the division of the former that the element of 
freedom stole in, it was in the parliaments of that division 
that the limitation of the feudal monarchy had begun. 

But still more fatal was the aspect of it which its effects on 
the national character were continually obtruding then on the 
observant eye, — that debasing, deteriorating, demoralising 
effect which such a government must needs exert on such a 
nation, a nation of Englishmen, a nation with such memories. 
The Poet who writes under this government, with an appre- 
ciation of the subject quite as lively as that of any more recent 
historian, speaks of * the face of men' as a ' motive'— a motive 
power, a revolutionary force, which ought to be sufficient of 
itself to raise, if need be, an armed opposition to such a govern- 
ment, and sustain it, too, without the compulsion of an oath 


to reinforce it; at least, this is one of the three motives which 
he produces in his conspiracy as motives that ought to suffice to 
supply the power wanting to effect a change in such a govern- 

I If not the face of men, 

The sufferance of our souls, the time's abuse, — 

If these be motives weak, break of betimes^ 

There is no use in attempting a change where such motives 
are weak. 

1 Break off" betimes, 
And every man hence to his idle bed.' 

That this political degradation, and its deteriorating and 
corrupting influence on the national character, was that which 
presented itself to the politician's eye at that time as the most 
fatal aspect of the question, or as the thing most to be depre- 
cated in the continuance of such a state of things, no one who 
studies carefully the best writings of that time can doubt. 

And it must be confessed, that this is an influence which shows 
itself very palpably, not in the degrading hourly detail only 
of which the noble mind is, in such circumstances, the suffer- 
ing witness, and the secretly protesting suffering participator, 
but in those large events which make the historic record. 
The England of the Plantagenets, that sturdy England which 
Henry the Seventh had to conquer, and not its pertinacious 
choice of colours only, not its fixed determination to have the 
choosing of the colour of its own 'Roses' merely, but its inve- 
terate idea of the sanctity of ' lav? permeating all the masses 

— that was a very different England from the England which 
Henry the Seventh willed to his children ; it was a very dif- 
ferent England, at least, from the England which Henry the 
Eighth willed to his. 

That some sparks of the old fire were not wanting, however, 

— that the nation which had kept alive in the common mind 
through so many generations, without the aid of books, the 
memory of that ' ancestor' that ' made its laws,' was not after 
all, perhaps, without a future — began to be evident about the 
time that the history of ' that last king of England who was 


the ancestor' of the English Stuart, was dedicated by the 
author of the Novum Organum to the Prince of Wales, after- 
wards Charles L, not without a glance at these portents. 

Circumstances tending to throw doubt upon the durability 
of this institution — circumstances which seemed to portend 
that this monstrous innovation was destined on the whole to 
be a much shorter-lived one than the usurpation it had dis- 
placed — had not been wanting, indeed, from the first, in 
spite of those discouraging aspects of the question which were 
more immediately urged upon the contemporary observer. 

It was in the eleventh century ; it was in the middle of the 
Bark Ages, that the Norman and his followers effected their 
successful landing and lodgement here; it was in the later 
years of the fifteenth century, — it was when the bell that 
tolled through Europe for a century and a half the closing 
hour of the Middle Ages, had already begun its peals, that 
the Tudor ' came in by battle.' 

That magnificent chain of events which begins in the 
middle of the fifteenth century to rear the dividing line 
between the Middle Ages and the Modern, had been slow 
in reaching England with its convulsions: it had originated 
on the continent. The great work of the restoration of the 
learning of antiquity had been accomplished there: Italy, 
Germany, and France had taken the lead in it by turns; 
Spain had contributed to it. The scientific discoveries which 
the genius of Modern Europe had already effected under that 
stimulus, without waiting for the New Organum, had all 
originated on the continent. The criticism on the institutions 
which the decaying Roman Empire had given to its Northern 
conquerors, — that criticism which necessarily accompanied 
the revival of learning began there. Not yet recovered from 
the disastrous wars of the fifteenth century, suffering from the 
diabolical tyranny that had overtaken her at that fatal crisis, 
England could make but a feeble response as yet to these 
movements. They had been going on for a century before 
the influence of them began to be visible here. But they 
were at work here, notwithstanding : they were germinating 


and taking root here, in that frozen winter of a nation's 
discontent; and when they did begin to show themselves on 
the historic surface, — here in this ancient soil of freedom, — 
in this natural retreat of it, from the extending, absorbing, 
consolidating feudal tyrannies, — here in this ( little world 
by itself — this nursery of the genius of the North — with 
its chief races, with its union of races, its ' happy breed 
of men/ as our Poet has it, who notes all these points, and 
defines its position, regarding it, not with a narrow English 
partiality, but looking at it on his Map of the World, which 
he always carries with him, — looking at it from his * Globe,' 
which has the Old World and the New on it, and the Past and 
the Future, — ' a precious stone set in the silver sea,' he calls it, 
— * in a great pool, a swan's nest : — when that seed of all ages 
did at last show itself above the ground here, here in this 
nursery of hope for man, it would be with quite another kind 
of fruit on its boughs, from any that the continent had been 
able to mature from it. 

It was in the later years of the sixteenth century, in the 
latter half of the reign of Elizabeth, that the Printing press, 
and the revived Learning of Antiquity, and the Reformation, 
and the discovery of America, the new revival of the genius 
of the North in art and literature, and the Scientific Dis- 
coveries which accompanied this movement on the continent, 
began to combine their effects here ; and it was about that 
time that the political horizon began to exhibit to the states- 
man's eye, those portents which both the poet and the 
philosopher of that time, have described with so much 
iteration and amplitude. These new social elements did not 
appear to promise in their combination here, stability to the 
institutions which Henry the Seventh, and Henry the Eighth 
had established in this island. 

The genius of Elizabeth conspired with the anomaly of her 
position to make her the steadfast patron and promoter of 
these movements, — worthy grand-daughter of Henry the 
Seventh as she was, and opposed on principle, as she was, 
to the ultimatum to which they were visibly and stedfastly 


tending; but, at the same time, her sagacity and prudence 
enabled her to ward off the immediate result. She secured 
her throne, — she was able to maintain, in the rocking of 
those movements, her own political and spiritual supremacy,— 
she made gain and capital for absolutism out of them, — the 
inevitable reformation she herself assumed, and set bounds to: 
whatever new freedom there was, was still the freedom of her 
will; she could even secure the throne of her successor: it 
was mischief for Charles I. that she was nursing. The con- 
sequence of all this was — the Age of Elizabeth. 

That was what this Queen meant it should be literally, and 
that was what it was apparently. But it so happened, that her 
will and humours on some great questions jumped with the 
time, and her dire necessities compelled her to lead the 
nation on its own track ; or else it would have been too late, 
perhaps, for that exhibition of the monarchical institution, — 
that revival of the heroic, and <mte-heroic ages, which her 
reign exhibits, to come off here as it did at that time. 

It is this that makes the point in this literary history. This 
is the key that unlocks the secret of the Elizabethan Art of 
Delivery and Tradition. Without any material resources to 
sustain it — strong in the national sentiments, — strong in the 
moral forces with which the past controls the present, — 
strong in that natural abhorrence of change with which nature 
protects her larger growths, — that principle which tyranny 
can test so long with impunity — which it can test with 
impunity, till it forgets that this also has in nature its limits, — 
strono- in the absence of any combination of opposition, to the 
young awakening England of that age, that now hollow image 
of the past, that phantom of the military force that had been, 
which seemed to be waiting only the first breath of the 
popular will to dissolve it, was as yet an armed and terrific 
reality; its iron was on every neck, its fetter was on every 
step, and all the new forces, and world-grasping aims and 
aspirations which that age was generating were held down 
and cramped, and tortured in its chains, dashing their eagle 
wings in vain against its iron limits. 


As yet all England cowered and crouched, in blind ser- 
vility, at the foot of that terrible, but unrecognised embodi- 
ment of its own power, armed out of its own armoury, with 
the weapons that were turned against it. So long as any 
yet extant national sentiment, or prejudice, was not yet 
directly assailed — so long as that arbitrary power was yet 
wise, or fortunate enough to withhold the blow which should 
make the individual sense of outrage, or the feeling of a class 
the common one — so long as those peaceful, social elements, 
yet waited the spark that was wanting to unite them — so 
long ' the laws of England' might be, indeed, at a FalstafF's 
or a Nym's or a Bardolph's * commandment,' for the Poet has 
but put into ' honest Jack's' mouth, a boast that worse men 
than he, made good in his time — so long, the faith, the lives, 
the liberties, the dearest earthly hopes, of England's proudest 
subjects, her noblest, her bravest, her best, her most learned, 
her most accomplished, her most inspired, might be at the mercy 
of a woman's caprices, or the sport of a fool's sheer will and 
obstinacy, or conditioned on some low-lived ' favorites ' whims. 
So long: And how long was that? — who does not know how 
long it was? — that was long enough for the whole Eliza- 
bethan Age to happen in. In the reign of Elizabeth, and in 
the reign of her successor, and longer still, that was the con- 
dition of it — till its last act was finished — till its last word 
was spoken and penned — till its last mute sign was made — 
till all its celestial inspiration had returned to the God who 
gave it — till all its Promethean clay was cold again. 

This was the combination of conditions of which the Eliza- 
bethan Literature was the result. The Elizabethan Men of 
Letters, the organisers and chiefs of the modern civilization 
were the result of it. 

These were men in whom the genius of the North in its 
happiest union of developments, under its choicest and most 
favourable conditions of culture, in its yet fresh, untamed, 
unbroken, northern vigour, was at last subjected to the stimulus 
and provocation which the ancient learning brings with 
it to the northern mind — to the now unimaginable stimulus 


which the revival of the ancient art and learning brought 
with it to the mind of Europe in that age, — already secure, 
in its own indigenous development, already advancing to its 
own great maturity under the scholastic culture — the meagre 
Scholastic, and the rich Romantic culture- of the Mediaeval 
Era. The Elizabethan Men of Letters are men who found 
in those new and dazzling stores of art and literature which 
the movements of their age brought in all their freshly re- 
stored perfection to them, only the summons to their own 
slumbering intellectual activities, — fed with fires that old 
Eastern and Southern civilizations never knew, nurtured in 
the depths of a nature whose depths the northern antiquity 
had made; they were men who found in the learning of 
the South and the East — in the art and speculation that had 
satisfied the classic antiquity — only the definition of their 
own nobler want. 

The first result of the revival of the ancient learning in this 
island was, a report of its < defects/ The first result of that 
revival here was a map- a universal map of the learning and 
the arts which the conditions of man's life require — anew 
map or globe of learning on which lands and worlds, un- 
dreamed of by the ancients, are traced. ' A map or globe' on 
which 'the principal and supreme sciences/ the sciences that 
are essential to the human kind, are put down among « the 
parts that lie fresh and waste, and not converted by the 
industry of man.' The first result of the revival of learning 
here was ' a plot' for the supply of these deficiencies. 

The Elizabethan Men of Letters were men, in whom the 
revival of ' the Wisdom of the Ancients,' which in its last 
results, in its most select and boasted conservations had com- 
bined in vain to save antiquity, found the genius of a happier 
race, able to point out at a glance the defect in it; men who 
saw with a glance at those old books what was the matter with 
them; men prepared already to overlook from the new height 
of criticism which this sturdy insular development of the 
practical genius of the North created, the remains of that lost 
civilization — the splendours rescued from the wreck of em- 


pires, — the wisdom which -had failed so fatally in practice that 
it must needs cross from a lost world of learning to the 
barbarian's new one, to find pupils — that it must needs cross 
the gulf of a thousand years in learning — such work had it 
made of it — ere it could revive, — the wisdom rescued from 
the wreck it had piloted to ruin, not to enslave, and ensnare, 
and doom new ages, and better races, with its futilities, but to 
be hung up with its immortal beacon-light, to shew the track 
of a new learning, to shew to the contrivers of the chart of 
new ages, the breakers of that old ignorance, that old arrogant 
wordy barren speculation. For these men were men who would 
not fish up the chart of a drowned world for the purpose of 
seeing how nearly they could conduct another under different 
conditions of time and races to the same conclusion. And 
they were men of a different turn of mind entirely from those 
who lay themselves out on enterprises having that tendency. 
The result of this English survey of learning was the sanc- 
tioned and organised determination of the modern speculation 
to those new fields which it has already occupied, and its 
organised, but secret determination, to that end of a true 
learning which the need of man, in its whole comprehension 
in this theory of it, constitutes. 

But the men with whom this proceeding originates, the 
Elizabethan Men of Letters, were, in their own time, * the 
Few.' They were the chosen men, not of an age only, but 
of a race, ' the noblest that ever lived in the tide of times ;' men 
enriched with the choicest culture of their age, when that 
culture involved not the acquisition of the learning of the 
ancients only, but the most intimate acquaintance with all 
those recent and contemporaneous developments with which 
its restoration on the Continent had been attended. Was it 
strange that these men should find themselves without 
sympathy in an age like that? — an age in which the masses 
were still unlettered, callous with wrongs, manacled with blind 
traditions, or swaying hither and thither, with the breath of a 
common prejudice or passion, or swayed hither and thither 
by the changeful humours and passions, or the conflicting 



dogmas and conceits of their rulers. That is the reason why 
the development of that age comes to us as a Literature. That 
is why it is on the surface of it Elizabethan. That is the 
reason why the leadership of the modern ages, when it was 
already here in the persons of its chief interpreters and pro- 
phets, could get as yet no recognition of its right to teach and 
rule -could get as yet nothing but paper to print itself on, 
nothing but a pen to hew its way with, nor that, without 
death and danger dogging it at the heels, and threatening it, 
at every turn, so that it could only wave, in mute gesticulation, 
its signals to the future. It had to affect, in that time, 
bookishness and wiry scholasticism. It had to put on sedu- 
lously the harmless old monkish gown, or the jester's cap and 
bells or any kind of a tatterdemalion robe that would hide, 
from head to heel, the waving of its purple. ' Motleys the only 
wear,' whispers the philosopher, peering through his privi- 
leged garb for a moment. King Charles II. had not more 
to do in reserving himself in an evil time, and getting safely 
over to the year of his dominion. 

Letters were the only ships that could pass those seas. But 
it makes a new style in literature, when such men as these, 
excluded from their natural sphere of activity, get driven into 
books, cornered into paragraphs, and compelled to unpack 
their hearts in letters. There is a new tone to the words 
spoken under such compression. It is a tone that the school 
and the cloister never rang with, — it is one that the fancy 
dealers in letters are not able to deal in. They are such words 
as Caesar speaks, when he puts his legions in battle array, — 
they are such words as were heard at Salamis one morning, 
when the breeze began to stiffen in the bay; and though they 
be many, never so many, and though they be musical, as is 
Apollo's lute, that Lacedemonian ring is in each one of them. 
There is great business to be done in them, and their haste 
looks through their eyes. In the sighing of the lover, in the 
jest of the fool, in the raving of the madman, and not m 
Horatio's philosophy only, you hear it. 

The founders of the new science of nature and practice were 


men unspeakably too far above and beyond their time, to take 
its bone and muscle with them. There was no language in 
which their doctrines could have been openly conveyed to an 
English public at that time without fatal misconception. The 
truth, which was to them arrayed with the force of a universal 
obligation, — the truth, which was to them religion, would 
have been, of course, in an age in which a single, narrow- 
minded, prejudiced Englishwoman's opinions were accepted as 
the ultimate rule of faith and practice, ( flat atheism.' What 
was with them loyalty to the supremacy of reason and con- 
science, would have been in their time madness and rebellion, 
and the majority would have started at it in amazement; and all 
men would have joined hands, in the name of truth and justice, 
to suppress it. The only thing that could be done in such 
circumstances was, to translate their doctrine into the language 
of their time. They must take the current terms — the vague 
popular terms — as they found them, and restrict and enlarge 
them, and inform them with their new meanings, with a hint 
to • men of understanding ' as to the sense in which they use 
them. That is the key to the language in which their books 
for the future were written. . 

But who supposes that these men were so wholly super- 
human, so devoid of mortal affections and passions, so made 
up of ' dry light,' that they could retreat, with all those regal 
faculties, from the natural sphere of their activity to the 
scholar's cell, to make themselves over in books to a future in 
which their mortal natures could have no share, — a future 
which could not begin till all the breathers of their world 
were dead? Who supposes that the ' staff' of Prospero was 
the first choice of these chiefs? — these l heads of the State/ 
appointed of nature to the Cure of the Common- Weal. 

The leading minds of that age are not minds which owed 
their intellectual superiority to a disproportionate development 
of certain intellectual tendencies, or to a dwarfed or inferior 
endowment of those natural affections and personal qualifica- 
tions which tend to limit men to the sphere of their particular 
sensuous existence. The mind of this school is the represen- 


tative mind, and all men recognise it as that, because, in its 
products, that nature which is in all men, which philosophy 
had, till then, scorned to recognise, which the abstractionists 
had missed in their abstractions, — that nature of will, and 
sense, and passion, and inanity, is brought out in its true his- 
torical proportions, not as it exists in books, not as it exists in 
speech, but as it exists in the actual human life. It is the 
mind in which this historical principle, this motivity which is 
not reason, is brought in contact with the opposing and con- 
trolling element as it had not been before. In all its earth- 
born Titanic strength and fulness, it is dragged up from its 
secret lurking-places, and confronted with its celestial an- 
tagonist. In all its self-contradiction and cowering unreason, 
it is set face to face with its celestial umpire, and subjected to 
her unrelenting criticism. There are depths in this microcosm 
which this torch only has entered, silences which this speaker 
only has broken, cries which he only knows how to articulate. 

* The soundest disclosing and expounding of men is by their 
natures and ends, 1 so the one who is best qualified to give us 
information on this question tells us, — by their natures and 
ends; 'the weaker sort by their natures, and the wisest by 
their ends ' ; and ' the distance ' of this wisest sort * from the 
ends to which they aspire,' is that ' from which one may take 
measure and scale of the rest of their actions and desires.' 

The first end which these Elizabethan Men of Letters 
grasped at, the thing which they pursued with all the in- 
tensity and concentration of a master passion, was — power, 
political power. They wanted to rule their own time, and 
not the future only. ' You are hurt, because you do not 
reign,' is the inuendo which they permit us to apply to them 
as the key to their proceedings. ' Such men as this are never 
at heart's ease,' Caesar remarks in confidence to a friend, 
' whiles they behold a greater than themselves.' ' Come on 
my right hand, for this ear is deaf,' he adds, * and tell me 
truly what thou think'st of him.' These are the kind of men 
that seek instinctively ' predominance,' not in a clique or 
neighbourhood only, — they are not content with a domestic 


reflection of their image, they seek to stamp it on the state 
and on the woild. These Elizabethan Men of Letters were 
men who sought from the first, with inveterate determination, 
to rule their own time, and they never gave up that point 
entirely. In one way or another, directly or indirectly, they 
were determined to make their influence felt in that age, in 
spite of the want of encouragement which the conditions of 
that time offered to such an enterprise. But they sought that 
end not instinctively only, but with the stedfastness of a 
rational, scientifically enlightened purpose. It was an enter- 
prise in which the intense motivity of that new and so f con- 
spicuous' development of the particular and private nature, 
which lies at the root of such a genius, was sustained by the 
determination of that not less superior development of the 
nobler nature in man, by the motivity of the intellect, by the 
sentiment which waits on that, by the motive of ' the larger 
whole/ which is, in this science of it, * the worthier.' 

We do not need to apply the key of times to those indirectly 
historical remains in which the real history, the life and soul 
of a time, is always best found, and in which the history of 
such a time, if written at all, must necessarily be inclosed ; we 
do not need to unlock these works to perceive the indications 
of suppressed movements in that age, in which the most illus- 
trious men of the age were primarily concerned, the history of 
which has not yet fully transpired. We do not need to find 
the key to the cipher in which the history of that time is 
written, to perceive that there was to have been a change in 
the government here at one time, very different from the one 
which afterwards occurred, if the original plans of these men 
had succeeded. It is not the Plays only that are full of that 
frustrated enterprise. 

These were the kind of men who are not easily baffled. 
They changed their tactics, but not their ends; and the enter- 
prises which were conducted with so much secresy under the 
surveillance of the Tudor, began already to crown themselves as 
certainties, and compare their \ olives of endless age' with the 
J spent tombs of brass' and ' tyrant's crests,' at that sure pro- 


spect which a change of dynasties at that moment seemed to 
open, — a t least, to men who were in a position then to esti- 
mate its consequences. 

That this, at all events, was a state of things that was 
not going to endure, became palpable about that time to 
the philosophic mind. The transition from the rule of a 
sovereign who was mistress of t the situation/ who un- 
derstood that it was a popular power which she was wield- 
ing — the transition from the rule of a Queen instructed 
in the policy of a tyranny, inducted by nature into its arts, 
to the policy of that monarch who had succeeded to her 
throne, and whose ' CREST ' began to be reared here then in 
the face of the insulted reviving English nationality, — this 
transition appeared upon the whole, upon calmer reflection, at 
least to the more patient minds of that age, all that could rea- 
sonably at that time be asked for. No better instrument for 
stimulating and strengthening the growing popular sentiment, 
and rousing the latent spirit of the nation, could have been 
desired by the Elizabethan politicians at that crisis, ' for the 
great labour was with the people' — that uninstructed power, 
which makes the sure basis of tyrannies — that power which 
Mark Antony takes with him so easily — the ignorant, tyran- 
nical, humour-led masses — the masses that still roar their 
Elizabethan stupidities from the immortal groups of Coriolanus 
and Julius Caesar. "We ourselves have not yet overtaken the 
chief minds of this age; and the gulf that separated them from 
those overpowering numbers in their own time, to whose 
edicts they were compelled to pay an external submission, was 
broad indeed. The difficulty of establishing an understanding 
with this power was the difficulty. They wanted that * pulpit* 
from which Brutus and Mark Antony swayed it by turns so 
easily — that pulpit from which Mark Antony showed it 
Caesar's mantle. They wanted some organ of communication 
with these so potent and resistless rulers — some ' chair ' from 
which they could repeat to them in their own tongue the story 
of their lost institutions, and revive in them the memory of 
'the kings their ancestors' —-some school in which they could 


collect them and instruct them in the scientific doctrine of the 
commons, the doctrine of the common-weal and its divine su- 
premacy. They wanted a school in which they could tell them 
stories — stories of various kinds — such stories as they loved 
best to hear — Midsummer stories, or Winter's tales, and stories 
of their own battle-fields — they wanted a school in which they 
could teach the common people History (and not English 
history only), with illustrations, large as life, and a magic 
lantern to aid them, — ' visible history.' 

But to wait till these slow methods had taken effect, would 
be, perhaps, to wait, not merely till their estate in the earth was 
done, but till the mischief they wished to avert was accom- 
plished. And thus it was, that the proposal ' to go the beaten 
track of getting arms into their hands under colour of Csesar's 
designs, and because the people understood them not? came to 
be considered. To permit the new dynasty to come in with- 
out making any terms with it, without insisting upon a defini- 
tion of that indefinite power which the Tudors had wielded 
with impunity, and without challenge, would be to make 
needless work for the future, and to ignore criminally the 
responsibilities of their own position, so at least some 
English statesmen of that time, fatally for their favour 
with the new monarch, were known to have thought. * To 
proceed by process,' to check by gradual constitutional mea- 
sures that overgrown and monstrous power in the state, was 
the project which these statesmen had most at heart. But 
that was a movement which required a firm and enlightened 
popular support. Charters and statutes were dead letters till 
that could be had. It was fatal to attempt it till that was 
secured. Failing in that popular support, if the statesman 
who had attempted that movement, if the illustrious chief, 
and chief man of his time, who headed it, did secretly 
meditate other means for accomplishing the same end — 
which was to limit the prerogative — such means as the 
time offered, and if the evidence which was wanting on 
his trial had been produced in proof of it, who that knows 
what that crisis was would undertake to convict him on 


it now? He was arrested on suspicion. He was a 
man who had undertaken to set bounds to the absolute 
will of the monarch, and therefore he was a dangerous 
man.* The charges that were made against him on that 
shameless trial were indignantly repelled ? ' Do you mix 
me up with these spiders?' (alluding, perhaps, more particu- 
larly to the Jesuit associated with him in this charge). ' Do 
you think I am a Jack Cade or a Kobin Hood ?' he said. But 
though the evidence on this trial is not only in itself illegal, 
and by confession perjured, but the report of it comes to us with 
a falsehood on the face of it, and is therefore not to be taken 
without criticism ; that there was a movement of some kind medi- 
tated about that time, by persons occupying chief places of trust 
and responsibility in the nation — a movement not favourable 
to the continuance of ' the standing departments' in the precise 
form in which they then stood — that the project of an admi- 
nistrative reform had not, at least, been wholly laid aside — that 
there was something which did not fully come out on that trial, 
any one who looks at this report of it will be apt to infer. 

It was a project which had not yet proceeded to any overt 
act; there was no legal evidence of its existence produced on 
the trial; but suppose there were here, then, already, men 
' who loved the fundamental part of state/ more than in such 
a crisis ' they doubted the change of it' — men ' who preferred a 
noble life before a long' — men, too, ' who were more discreet 1 
than they were 'fearful? who thought it good practice to 
* jump a body with a dangerous medicine that was sure of 
death without it;' suppose there was a movement of that kind 
arrested here then, and the evidence of it were produced, 
what Englishman, or who that boasts the English lineage 
to-day, can have a word to say about it? Who had a better 
right than those men themselves, those statesmen, those heroes, 
who had waked and watched for their country's weal so long, 

* He (Sir Walter Kaleigh), together with the Lord Chobham, Sir 
J. Fortescue, and others, would have obliged the king to articles before 
he was admitted to the throne, and thought the number of his country- 
men should be limited. — Osborne's Memorials of King James. 


who had fought her battles on land and sea, and planned 
them too, not in the tented field and on the rocking deck only, 
but in the more ? deadly breach ' of civil office, whose scaling- 
ladders had entered even the tyrant's council chamber, — who 
had a better right than those men themselves to say whether 
they would be governed by a government of laws, or by the 
will of the most despicable ' one-only-man power/ armed with 
sword and lash, that ever a nation of Oriental slaves in their 
political imbecility cowered under? Who were better qualified 
than those men themselves, instructed in detail in all the peril 
of that crisis, — men who had comprehended and weighed with 
a judgment which has left no successor to its seat, all the con- 
flicting considerations and claims which that crisis brought with 
it, — who better qualified than these to decide on the mea- 
sures by which the hideous nuisances of that time should 
be abated; by which that axe, that sword, that rack, that 
stake, and all those burglar's tools, and highwayman's weapons, 
should be taken out of the hands of the mad licentious 
crew with which an evil time had armed them against the 
common- weal — those weapons of lawless power, which the 
people had vainly, for want of leaders, refused before-hand 
to put into their hands. Who better qualified than these 
natural chiefs and elected leaders of the nation, to decide on 
the dangerous measures for suppressing the innovation, which 
the Tudor and his descendants had accomplished in that 
ancient sovereignty of laws, which was the sovereignty of 
this people, which even the Norman and the Plantagenet, 
had been taught to acknowledge? Who better qualified than 
they to call to an account—' the thief,' the ' cut-purse of the 
empire and the rule,' who ' found the precious diadem on a 
shelf, and stole and put it in his pocket' ? 

[' Shall the blessed Sun of Heaven prove a micher, and eat 
blackberries?' A question not to be asked ! Shall the blessed 
' Son of England ' prove a thief, and take purses? A question 
to be asked. ■ The poor abuses of the time want countenance.' 

Lear. Take that from me, my friend, who have the power to 
seal the accuser's lips.] 


Who better qualified could be found to head the dangerous 
enterprise for the deliverance of England from that shame, than 
the chief in whom her Alfred arose again to break from her 
neck a baser than the Danish yoke, to restore her kingdom 
and found her new empire, to give her domains, that the sun 
never sets on, — her Poet, her Philosopher, her Soldier, her 
Legislator, the builder of her Empire of the Sea, her founder 
of new ' States.' 

But then, of course, it is only by the rarest conjunction of 
circumstances, that the movements and plans which such a 
state of things gives rise to, can get any other than the most 
opprobrious name and place in history. Success is their only 
certificate of legitimacy. To attempt to overthrow a govern- 
ment still so strongly planted in the endurance and passivity 
of the people, might seem, perhaps, to some minds in these 
circumstances, a hopeless, and, therefore, a criminal under- 

' That opportunity which then they had to take from us, to 
resume, we have again/ might well have seemed a sufficient 
plea, so it could have been made good. But it is not strange 
that some few, even then, should find it difficult to believe 
that the national ruin was yet so entire, that the ashes of the 
ancient nobility and commons of England were yet so cold, 
as that a system of despotism like that which was exercised 
here then, could be permanently and securely fastened over 
them. It is not strange that it should seem to these impossible 
that there should not be enough of that old English spirit which, 
only a hundred years before, had ranged the people in armed 
thousands, in defence of LAW, against absolutism, enough of 
it, at least, to welcome and sustain the overthrow of tyranny, 
when once it should present itself as a fact accomplished, 
instead of appealing beforehand to a courage, which so many 
instances of vain and disastrous resistance had at last subdued, 
and to a spirit which seemed reduced at last, to the mere 
quality of the master's will. 

That was a narrow dominion apparently to which King 
James consigned his great rival in the arts of government, 


but that rival of his contrived to rear a ' crest ' there which 
will outlast 'the tyrants/ and 'look fresh still' when tombs that 
artists were at work on then ' are spent/ 'And when a soldier 
was his theme, my name — my name [nomme de plume] was 
nor far off? King James forgot how many weapons this man 
carried. He took one sword from him, he did not know that 
that pen, that harmless goose-quill, carried in its sheath 
another. He did not know what strategical operations the 
scholar, who was ' an old soldier * and a politician also, was 
capable of conducting under such conditions. Those were 
narrow quarters for ' the Shepherd of the Ocean/ for the hero 
of the two hemispheres, to occupy so long; but it proved no 
bad retreat for the chief of this movement, as he managed it. 
It was in that school of Elizabethan statesmanship which had 
its centre in the Tower, that many a scholarly English gentle- 
man came forth prepared to play his part in the political 
movements that succeeded. It was out of that school of states- 
manship that John Hampden came, accomplished for his part 
in them. 

The papers that the chief of the Protestant cause prepared 
in that literary retreat to which the Monarch had consigned 
him, by means of those secret channels of communication 
among the better minds which he had established in the reign 
of Elizabeth, became the secret manual of the revolutionary 
chiefs; they made the first blast of the trumpet that summoned 
at last the nation to its feet. ' The famous Mr. Hamden ' (says 
an author, who writes in those 'next ages' in which so many 
traditions of this time are still rife) ' a little before the civil 
wars was at the charge of transcribing three thousand four 
hundred and fifty-two sheets of Sir Walter Kaleigh's MSS., 
as the amanuensis himself told me, who had his close chamber, 
his fire and candle, with an attendant to deliver him the originals 
and take his copies as fast as he could write them. 1 That of itself 
is a pretty little glimpse of the kind of machinery which the 
Elizabethan literature required for its \ delivery and tradition ' 
at the time, or near the times, in which it was produced. That 
is a view of ' an Interior ' ' before the civil wars. 1 It was John 


Milton who concluded, on looking over, a long time afterwards, 
one of the unpublished papers of this statesman, that it was 
his duty to give it to the public. * Having had,' he says, 
'the MS. of this treatise ['The Cabinet Council'] written by 
Sir Walter Ealeigh, many years in my hands, and finding it 
lately by chance among other books and papers, upon reading 
thereof, I thought it a kind of injury to withhold longer the 
work of so eminent an author from the public; it being both 
answerable in style to other works of his already extant, as 
far as the subject would permit, and given me for a true copy 
by a learned man at his death, who had collected several 
such pieces.' 

' A kind of injury? — That is the thought which would 
naturally take possession of any mind, charged with the re- 
sponsibility of keeping back for years this man's writings, 
especially his choicest ones — papers that could not be pub- 
lished then on account of the subject, or that came out with the 
leaves uncut, labouring with the restrictions which the press 
opposed then to the issues of such a mind. 

That great result which the chief minds of the Modern 
Ages, under the influence of the new culture, in that secret 
association of them were able to achieve, that new and all 
comprehending science of life and practice which they made it 
their business to perfect and transmit, could not, indeed, as yet 
be communicated directly to the many. The scientific doctrines 
of the new time were necessarily limited in that age to the 
few. But another movement corresponding to that, simulta- 
neous in its origin, related to it in its source, was also in pro- 
gress here then, proceeding hand in hand with this, playing 
its game for it, opening the way to its future triumph. This 
was that movement of the new time, — this was that conse- 
quence, not of the revival of learning only, but of the growth 
of the northern mind which touched everywhere and directly 
the springs of government, and made 4 bold power look pale,' 
for this was the movement in ' the many.' 

This was the movement which had already convulsed the 
continent ; this was the movement of which Raleigh was from 


the first the soldier; this was 'the cause' of which he 
became the chief. It was as a youth of seventeen, bursting 
from those old fastnesses of the Middle Ages that could not 
hold him any longer, shaking off the films of Aristotle and 
his commentators, that he girded on his sword for the great 
world-battle that was raging already in Europe then. It was 
into the thickest of it, that his first step plunged him. 
For he was one of that company of a hundred English gen- 
tlemen who were waiting but for the first word of permission 
from Elizabeth to go as volunteers to the aid of the Huguenots. 
This was the movement which had at last reached England. 
And like these other continental events which were so slow 
in taking effect in England when it did begin to unfold here 
at last ; there was a taste of ' the island ' in it, in this also. 

It was not on the continent only, that Kaleigh and other 
English statesmen were disposed to sustain this movement. 
It was not possible as yet to bring the common mind openly 
to the heights of those great doctrines of life and practice 
which the Wisdom of the Moderns also embodies, but the 
new teachers of that age knew how to appreciate, as the man 
of science only can fully appreciate, the worth of those 
motives that were then beginning to agitate so portentously 
so large a portion of the English people. The Elizabethan 
politicians nourished and patronised in secret that growing 
faction. The scientific politician hailed with secret delight, 
hailed as the partner of his own enterprise, that new element 
of political power which the changing time began to reveal 
here then, that power which was already beginning to unclasp 
on the necks of the masses, the collar of the absolute will — 
that was already proclaiming, in the stifled undertones of ' that 
greater part which carries it,' another supremacy. They gave 
in secret the right hand of a joyful fellowship to it. At 
home and abroad the great soldier and statesman, who was the 
first founder of the Modern Science, headed that faction. He 
fought its battles by land and sea ; he opened the New World 
to it, and sent it there to work out its problem. 

It was the first stage of an advancement that would not 


rest till it found its true consummation. That infinity which 
was speaking in its confused tones, as with the voice of many- 
waters, was resolved into music and triumphal marches in the 
ear of the Interpreter. It gave token that the nobler nature 
had not died out under the rod of tyranny ; it gave token 
of the earnestness that would not be appeased until the ends 
that were declared in it were found. 

But at the same time, this was a power which the wise men 
of that age were far from being willing to let loose upon 
society then in that stage of its development; very far were 
they from being willing to put the reins into its hands. To 
balance the dangers that were threatening the world at that 
crisis was always the problem. It was a very narrow line that 
the policy which was to save the state had to keep to then. 
There were evils on both sides. But to the scientific mind there 
appeared to be a choice in them. The measure on one side 
had been taken, and it was in all men's hearts, but the abysses 
on the other no man had sounded. l The danger of stirring 
things,' — the dangers, too, of that unscanned swiftness that 
too late ties leaden pounds to his heels were the dangers that were 
always threatening the Elizabethan movement, and defining 
and curbing it. The wisest men of that time leaned to- 
wards the monarchy, the monarchy that was, rather than the 
anarchy that was threatening them. The will of the one 
rather than the wills of the many, the head of the one rather 
than 'the many-headed/ To effect the change which the time 
required without ' wrenching all' — without undoing the work 
of ages — without setting at large from the restraints of 
reverence and custom the chained tiger of an unenlightened 
popular will, this was the problem. The wisest statesmen, the 
most judicious that the world has ever known were here, with 
their new science, weighing in exactest scales those issues. 
We must not quarrel with their concessions to tyranny on the 
one hand, nor with their determination to effect changes on 
the other, until we are able to command entirely the position 
they occupied, and the opposing dangers they had always to 
consider. We must not judge them till they have had their 


hearing. What freedom and what hope there is of it upon the 
earth to-day, is the legacy of their perseverance and endurance. 

They experienced many defeats. The hopes of youth, the 
hopes of manhood in turn grew cold. That the ( glorious day' 
which * flattered the mountain tops' of their immortal morning 
with its sovereign eye would never shine on them; that their 
own, with all its unimagined splendours obscured so long, 
would go down hid in those same 'base clouds,' that for 
them the consummation was to ' peep about to find themselves 
dishonourable graves ' was the conviction under which their 
later tasks were achieved. It did not abate their ardour. They 
did not strain one nerve the less for that. 

Driven from one field, they showed themselves in another. 
Driven from the open field, they fought in secret. ' I will 
bandy with thee in faction, I will o'errun thee with policy, I 
will kill thee a hundred and fifty ways/ the Jester who 
brought their challenge said. The Elizabethan England re- 
jected the Elizabethan Man. She would have none of his 
meddling with her affairs. She sent him to the Tower, and 
to the block, if ever she caught him meddling with them. 
She buried him alive in the heart of his time. She took the 
seals of office, she took the sword, from his hands and put a 
pen in it. She would have of him a Man of Letters. And a 
Man of Letters he became. A Man of Runes. He invented 
new letters in his need, letters that would go farther than the 
sword, that carried more execution in them than the great 
seal. Banished from the state in that isle to which he 
was banished, he found not the base-born Caliban only, to 
instruct, and train, and subdue to his ends, but an Ariel, 
an imprisoned Ariel, waiting to be released, able to conduct 
his masques, able to put his girdles round the earth, and to 
* perform and point ' to his Tempest. 

1 Go bring the rabble, o'er whom I give thee power, here 
to this place,' was the New Magician's word.* 

* Here is another version of it. 

'When Sir Nicholas Bacon, the Lord Keeper, lived, every room in 
Gorhambury was served with a pipe of water from the pond distant 



This is not the place for the particulars of this history or 
for the barest outline of them. They make a volume of 
themselves. But this glimpse of the circumstances under 
which the works were composed which it is the object of this 
volume to open, appeared at the last moment to be required, 
in the absence of the Historical Key which the proper de- 
velopment of them makes, to that Art of Delivery and Tra- 
dition by means of which the secrets of the Elizabethan Age 
have been conveyed to us. 

about a mile off. In the lifetime of Mr. Anthony Bacon the water 
ceased, and his lordship coming to the inheritance could not recover 
the water without infinite charge. When he was Lord Chancellor, he 
built Verulam House close by the pond yard, for a place of privacy 
when he was called upon to dispatch any urgent business. And being 
asked why he built there, his lordship answered that, seeing he could 
not carry the water to his House, he would carry his House to the 




* Our court shall be a little Academe, 
Still and contemplative in living Art.' 

' What is the end of study ? let me know.' 

Love's Labour's Lost. 

"OUT it was not on the New World wholly, that this man 
-*-* of many toils could afford to lavish the revenues which 
the Queen's favour brought him. It was not to that enter- 
prise alone that he was willing to dedicate the eclat and 
influence of his rising name. There was work at home which 
concerned him more nearly, not less deeply, to which that 
new influence was made at once subservient; and in that 
there were enemies to be encountered more formidable than the 
Spaniard on his own deck, or on his own coast, with all his 
war-weapons and defences. It was an enemy which required 
a strategy more subtle than any which the exigencies of camp 
and field had called for. 

The fact that this hero throughout all his great public 
career — so full of all kinds of excitement and action — enough, 
one would say, to absorb the energies of a mind of any or- 
dinary human capacity — that this soldier whose name had 
become, on the Spanish coasts, what the name of ' Cceur de 
Lion 1 was in the Saracen nursery, that this foreign adventurer 
who had a fleet of twenty-three ships sailing at one time on 
his errands — this legislator, for he sat in Parliament as repre- 
sentative of his native shire — this magnificent courtier, who 
had raised himself, without any vantage-ground at all, from a 
position wholly obscure, by his personal achievements and 
merits, to a place in the social ranks so exalted; to a place in 



the state so near that which was chief and absolute — the fact 
that this many-sided man of deeds, was all the time a literary 
man, not a scholar merely, but himself an Originator, a 
Teacher, the Founder of a School — this is the explanatory 
point in this history — this is the point in it which throws 
light on all the rest of it, and imparts to it its true dignity. 

For he was not a mere blind historical agent, driven by 
fierce instincts, intending only their own narrow ends, with- 
out any faculty of comprehensive survey and choice of inten- 
tions ; impelled by thirst of adventure, or thirst of power, or 
thirst of gold, to the execution of his part in the great human 
struggle for conservation and advancement; working like 
other useful agencies in the Providential Scheme — like ' the 
stormy wind fulfilling his pleasure/ 

There is, indeed, no lack of the instinctive element in 
this heroic 'composition;' there is no stronger and more 
various and complete development of it. That 'lumen 
siccum? which his great contemporary is so fond of referring 
to in his philosophy, that dry light which is so apt, he tells us, 
in most men's minds, to get ' drenched' a little sometimes, in 
* the humours and affections/ and distorted and refracted in 
their mediums, did not always, perhaps, in its practical deter- 
minations, escape from that accident even in the philosopher's 
own; but in this stormy, world-hero, there was a latent 
volcano of will and passion; there was, in his constitution, ' a 
complexion' which might even seem to the bystanders to 
threaten at times, by its 'overgrowth,' the 'very pales and 
forts of reason' ; but the intellect was, notwithstanding, in its 
due proportion in him; and it was the majestic intellect that 
triumphed in the end. It was the large and manly compre- 
hension, * the large discourse looking before and after,' it was 
the overseeing and active principle of * the larger whole,' that 
predominated and had the steering of his course. It is the 
common human form which shines out in him and makes that 
manly demonstration, which commands our common respect, in 
spite of those particular defects and o'ergrowths which are apt 
to mar its outline in the best historical types and patterns of it, 


we have been able to get as yet. It was the intellect, and the 
sense which belongs to that in its integrity — it was the truth 
and the feeling of its obligation, which was sovereign with 
him. For this is a man who appears to have been occupied 
with the care of the common-weal more than with anything 
else; and that, too, under great disadvantages and impedi- 
ments, and when there was no honour in caring for it truly, 
but that kind of honour which he had so much of; for this was 
the time precisely which the poet speaks of in that play in 
which he tells us that the end of playing is ' to give to the 
very age and body of the time its form and pressure. 1 This 
was the time when ' virtue of vice must pardon beg, and curb 
and beck for leave to do it good.' It was the relief of man's 
estate, or the Creator's glory, that he busied himself about; 
that was the end of his ends; or if not, then was he, indeed, 
no hero at all. For it was the doctrine of his own school, and 
' the first human principle' taught in it, that men who act 
without reference to that distinctly human aim, without that 
manly consideration and foW-liness of purpose, can lay no 
claim either to divine or human honours; that they are not, in 
fact, men, but failures; specimens of an unsuccessful attempt 
in nature, at an advancement ; or, as his great contemporayr 
states it more clearly, t only a nobler kind of vermin.' 

During all the vicissitudes of his long and eventful public 
life, Raleigh was still persistently a scholar. He carried his 
"books — his ' trunk of books' with him in all his adventurous 
voyages ; and they were his * companions ' in the toil and 
excitement of his campaigns on land. He studied them in 
the ocean-storm ; he studied them in his tent, as Brutus studied 
in his. He studied them year after year, in the dim light which 
pierced the deep embrasure of those walls with which tyranny 
had thought to shut in at last his world-grasping energies. 

He had had some chance to study ' men and manners ' in 
that strange and various life of his, and he did not lack the 
skill to make the most of it; but he was not content with 
that narrow, one-sided aspect of life and human nature, to 
which his own individual personal experience, however varied, 


must necessarily limit him. He would see it under greater 
varieties, under all varieties of conditions. He would know 
the history of it; he would ' delve it to the root/ He would 
know how that particular form of it, which he found on the 
surface in his time, had come to be the thing he found it. He 
would know what it had been in other times, in the beginning, 
or in that stage of its development in which the historic light 
first finds it. He was a man who wished even to know what 
it had been in the Assyrian, in the Phenician, in the Hebrew, in 
the Egyptian-, he would see what it had been in the Greek, and 
in the Roman. He was, indeed, one of that clique of Eliza- 
bethan Naturalists, who thought that there was no more 
curious thing in nature ; and instead of taking a Jack Cade 
view of the subject, and inferring that an adequate know- 
ledge of it comes by nature, as reading and writing do in 
that worthy's theory of education, it was the private opinion of 
this school, that there was no department of learning which a 
scholar could turn his attention to, that required a more severe 
and thorough study and experiment, and none that a man of 
a truly scientific turn of mind would find better worth his 
leisure. And the study of antiquity had not yet come to be 
then what it is now ; at least, with men of this stamp. Such 
men did not study it to discipline their minds, or to get a 
classic finish to their style. The books that such a man as 
this could take the trouble to carry about with him on such 
errands as those that he travelled on, were books that had in 
them, for the eager eyes that then o'er-ran them, the world's 
i news ' — the world's story. They were full of the fresh living 
data of his conclusions. They were notes that the master 
minds of all the ages had made for him ; invaluable aid and 
sympathy they had contrived to send to him. The man who 
had been arrested in his career, more ignominiously than the 
magnificent Tully had been in his, — in a career, too, a thou- 
sand times more noble, — by a Caesar, .indeed, but such a 
Caesar; — the man who had sat for years with the execu- 
tioner's block in his yard, waiting only for a scratch of the 
royal pen, to bring down upon him that same edge which the 


poor Cicero, with all his truckling, must feel at last, — such a 
one would look over the old philosopher's papers with an ap- 
prehension of their meaning, somewhat more lively than that 
of the boy who reads them for a prize, or to get, perhaps, 
some classic elegancies transfused into his mind. 

During the ten years which intervene between the date of 
Raleigh's first departure for the Continent and that of his be- 
ginning favour at home, already he had found means for ekeing 
out and perfecting that liberal education which Oxford had only 
begun for him, so that it was as a man of rarest literary accom- 
plishments that he made his brilliant debut at the English Court, 
where the new Elizabethan Age of Letters was just then 

He became at once the centre of that little circle of high- 
born wits and poets, the elder wits and poets of the Elizabethan 
age, that were then in their meridian there. Sir Philip Sidney 
Thomas Lord Buckhurst, Henry Lord Paget, Edward Earl of 
Oxford, and some others, are included in the cotemporary list 
of this courtly company, whose doings are somewhat mys- 
teriously adverted to by a critic, who refers to the condition of 
1 the Art of Poesy ' at that time. ' The gentleman who wrote 
the late Shepherds' Calendar' was beginning then to attract 
considerable attention in this literary aristocracy. 

The brave, bold genins of Raleigh flashed new life into that 
little nucleus of the Elizabethan development. The new 
* Round Table] which that newly-beginning age of chivalry, 
with its new weapons and devices, and its new and more 
heroic adventure had created, was not yet ' full' till he came 
in. The Round Table grew rounder with this knight's pre- 
sence. Over those dainty stores of the classic ages, over those 
quaint memorials of the elder chivalry, that were spread out 
on it, over the dead letter of the past, the brave Atlantic breeze 
came in, the breath of the great future blew, when the turn 
came for this knight's adventure; whether opened in the prose 
of its statistics, or set to its native music in the mystic melodies 
of the bard who was there to sing it. The Round Table grew 
spheral, as he sat talking by it; the Round Table dissolved, as 


he brought forth his lore, and unrolled his maps upon it; and 
instead of it, — with all its fresh yet living interests, tracked 
out by land and sea, with the great battle-ground of the future 
outlined on it, — revolved the round world. ' Universality' was 
still the motto of these Paladins; but 'the Globe' — the 
Globe, with its two hemispheres, became henceforth their 

The promotion of Ealeigh at Court was all that was needed 
to make him the centre and organiser of that new intellectual 
movement which was then just beginning there. He addressed 
himself to the task as if he had been a man of literary tastes and 
occupations merely, or as if that particular crisis had been a time 
of literary leisure with him, and there were nothing else to be 
thought of just then. The relation of those illustrious literary 
partners of his, whom he found already in the field when he 
first came to it, to that grand development of the English 
genius in art and philosophy which follows, ought not indeed 
to be overlooked or slightly treated in any thorough history of 
it. For it has its first beginning here in this brilliant assem- 
blage of courtiers, and soldiers, and scholars, — this company 
of Poets, and Patrons and Encouragers of Art and Learning. 
Least of all should the relation which the illustrious founder 
of this order sustains to the later development be omitted in 
any such history, — ' the prince and mirror of all chivalry,' the 
patron of the y.oung English Muse, whose untimely fate keeps 
its date" for ever green, and fills the air of this new * Helicon.' 
with immortal lamentations. The shining foundations of that so 
splendid monument of the later Elizabethan genius, which has 
paralyzed and confounded all our criticism, were laid here. 
The extraordinary facilities which certain departments of lite- 
rature appeared to offer, for evading the restrictions which this 
new poetic and philosophic development had to encounter from 
the first, already began to attract the attention of men ac- 
quainted with the uses to which it had been put in antiquity, 
and who knew what gravity of aim, what height of execution, 
that then rude and childish English Play had been made to 
exhibit under other conditions; — men fresh from the study of 


those living and perpetual monuments of learning, which the 
genius of antiquity has left in this department. But the first 
essays of the new English scholarship in this untried field, — 
the first attempts at original composition here, derive, it must 
be confessed, their chief interest and value from that memor- 
able association in which we find them. It was the first essay, 
which had to be made before those finished monuments of art, 
which command our admiration on their own account wholly, 
could begin to appear. It was ' the tuning of the instruments, 
that those who came afterwards might play the better. 1 We 
see, of course, the stiff, cramped hand of the beginner here, 
instead of the grand touch of the master, who never comes till 
his art has been prepared to his hands, — till the details of its 
execution have been mastered for him by others. In some 
arts there must be generations of essays before he can get his 
tools in a condition for use. Ages of prophetic genius, gene- 
rations of artists, who dimly saw afar off, and struggled after 
his perfections, must patiently chip and daub their lives away, 
before ever the star of his nativity can begin to shine. 

Considering what a barbaric age it was that the English 
mind was emerging from then; and the difficulties attending 
the first attempt to create in the English literature, anything 
which should bear any proportion to those finished models of 
skill which were then dazzling the imagination of the English 
scholar in the unworn gloss of their fresh revival here, and 
discouraging, rather than stimulating, the rude poetic experi- 
ment; — considering what weary lengths of essay there are 
always to be encountered, where the standard of excellence is 
so far beyond the power of execution ; we have no occasion to 
despise the first bold attempts to overcome these difficulties 
which the good taste of this company has preserved to us. 
They are just such works as we might expect under those 
circumstances ; — yet full of the pedantries of the new acqui- 
sition, overflowing on the surface with the learning of the 
school, sparkling with classic allusions, seizing boldly on the 
classic original sometimes, and working their new fancies into 
it; but, full already of the riant vigour and originality of the 


Elizabethan inspiration; and never servilely copying a foreign 
original. The English genius is already triumphant in them. 
Their very crudeness is not without its historic charm, when 
once their true place in the structure we find them in, is 
recognised. In the later works, this crust of scholarship has 
disappeared, and gone below the surface. It is all dissolved, 
and gone into the clear intelligence ; — it has all gone to feed 
the majestic current of that new, all-subduing, all-grasping 
originality. It is in these earlier performances that the 
stumbling-blocks of our present criticism are strewn so 
thickly. Nobody can write any kind of criticism of the 
1 Comedy of Errors,' for instance, without . recognizing the 
Poet's acquaintance with the classic model*, — without recog- 
nizing the classic treatment. * Love's Labour's Lost,' ' The 
Taming of the Shrew/ the condemned parts of * Henry 
the VI. / and generally the Poems which are put down in our 
criticism as doubtful, or as the earlier Poems, are just those 
Poems in which the Poet's studies are so flatly betrayed on 
the surface. Among these are plays which were anonymously 
produced by the company performing at the Rose Theatre, 
and other companies which English noblemen found occasion 
to employ in their service then. These were not so much as 
produced at the theatre which has had the honor of giving 
its name to other productions, bound up with them. We shall 
find nothing to object to in that somewhat heterogeneous col- 
lection of styles, which even a single Play sometimes exhibits, 
when once the history of this phenomenon accompanies it. 
The Cathedrals that were built, or re-built throughout, just at 
the moment in which the Cathedral Architecture had attained 
its ultimate perfection, are more beautiful to the eye, perhaps, 
than those in which the story of its growth is told from the 
rude, massive Anglo-Saxon of the crypt or the chancel, to the 
last refinement of the mullion, and groin, and tracery. But 
the antiquary, at least, does not regret the preservation. And 
these crude beginnings here have only to be put in their place, 

* See a recent criticism in ' The Times.' 


to command from the critic, at least, a similar respect. For 
here, too, the history reports itself to the eye, and not less 

It may seem surprising, and even incredible, to the modern 
critic, that men in this position should find any occasion to 
conceal their relation to those quite respectable contributions 
to the literature of the time, which they found themselves 
impelled to make. The fact that they did so, is one that we 
must accept, however, on uncontradicted cotemporary testi- 
mony, and account for it as we can. The critic who published 
his criticisms when i the gentleman who wrote the late 
Shepherd's Calendar' was just coming into notice, however 
inferior to our modern critics in other respects, had certainly 
a better opportunity of informing himself on this point, than 
they can have at present. ' They have writ excellently well/ 
he says of this company of Poets,— this < courtly company/ as 
he calls them, — ' they have writ excellently well, if their 
doings could be found out and made public with the rest.' Sir 
Philip Sidney, Raleigh, and the gentleman who wrote the 
late Shepherd's Calendar, are included in the list of Poets to 
whom this remark is applied. It is Raleigh's verse which is 
distinguished, however, in this commendation as the most 
4 lofty, insolent, and passionate;' a description which applies 
to the anonymous poems alluded to, but is not particularly 
applicable to those artificial and tame performances which he 
was willing to acknowledge. And this so commanding Poet, 
who was at the same time an aspiring courtier and meddler in 
affairs of state, and who chose, for some mysterious reason or 
other, to forego the honours which those who were in the secret 
of his literary abilities and successes, — the very best judges of 
poetry in that time, too, were disposed to accord him, — and 
we are not without references to cases in antiquity ^correspond- 
ing very nearly to this; and which seemed to furnish, at least, 
a sufficient precedent for this proceeding ; — this so successful 
poet, and courtier, and great man of his time, was already in 
a position to succeed at once to that chair of literary pa- 
tronage which the death of Sir Philip Sidney had left vacant. 


Instinctively generous, he was ready to serve the literary 
friends whom he attracted to him, not less lavishly than he 
had served the proud Queen herself, when he threw his gay 
cloak in her obstructed path, — at least, he was not afraid of 
risking those sudden splendours which her favour was then 
showering upon him, by wearying her with petitions on their 
behalf. He would have risked his new favour, at least with 
his ' Cynthia/ — that twin sister of Phoebus Apollo, — to make 
her the patron, if not the inspirer of the Elizabethan genius. 
' When will you cease to be a beggar, Raleigh?' she said to 
him one day, on one of these not infrequent occasions. 'When 
your Majesty ceases to be a most gracious mistress,' was this 
courtier's reply. It is recorded of her, that ' she loved to hear 
his reasons to her demands.' 

But though, with all his wit and eloquence, he could not 
contrive to make of the grand-daughter of Henry the Seventh, 
a Pericles, or an Alexander, or a Ptolemy, or an Augustus, 
or an encourager of anything that did not appear to be 
directly connected with her own particular ends, he did 
succeed in making her indirectly a patron of the literary and 
scientific development which was then beginning to add to 
her reign its new lustre, — which was then suing for leave to 
lay at her feet its new crowns and garlands. Indirectly, he 
did convert her into a patron, — a second-hand patron of those 
deeper and more subtle movements of the new spirit of the 
time, whose bolder demonstrations she herself had been forced 
openly to head. Seated on the throne of Henry the Seventh, 
she was already the armed advocate of European freedom; — 
Raleigh had contrived to make her the legal sponsor for the 
New World's liberties; it only needed that her patronage 
should be systematically extended to that new enterprise for 
the emancipation of the human life from the bondage of 
ignorance, from the tyranny of unlearning, — that enterprise 
which the gay, insidious Elizabethan literature was already 
beginning to flower over and cover with its devices, — it 
only needed that, to complete the anomaly of her position. 
And that through Raleigh's means was accomplished. 


He became himself the head of a little Alexandrian estab- 
lishment. His house was a home for men of learning. He 
employed men in literary and scientific researches on his 
account, whose business it was to report to him their results. 
He had salaried scholars at his table, to impart to him their 
acquisitions, Antiquities, History, Poetry, Chemistry, Mathe- 
matics, scientific research of all kinds, came under his active 
and persevering patronage. Returning from one of his visits 
to Ireland, whither he had gone on this occasion to inspect a 
seignorie which his * sovereign goddess ' had then lately con- 
ferred upon him, he makes his re-appearance at court with 
that so obscure personage, the poet of the ' Faery Queen e,' under 
his wing; — that same gentleman, as the court is informed, 
whose bucolics had already attracted so much attention in 
that brilliant circle. By a happy coincidence, Raleigh, it 
seems, had discovered this Author in the obscurity of his 
clerkship in Ireland, and had determined to make use of his 
own influence at court to push his brother poet's fortunes there ; 
but his efforts to benefit this poor bard personally, do not 
appear to have been attended at any time with much success. 
The mysterious literary partnership between these two, how- 
ever, which dates apparently from an earlier period, con- 
tinues to bring forth fruit of the most successful kind; and 
the ' Faery Queene ' is not the only product of it. 

All kinds of books began now to be dedicated to this new 
and so munificent patron of arts and letters. His biographers 
collect his public history, not from political records only, but 
from the eulogies of these manifold dedications. Ladonnier, 
the artist, publishes his Sketches of the New World through 
his aid. Hooker dedicates his History of Ireland to him; 
Hakluyt, his Voyages to Florida. A work * On Friendship ' is 
dedicated to him ; another ' On Music,' in which art he had 
found leisure, it seems, to make himself a proficient; and as to 
the poetic tributes to him, — some of them at least are familiar 
to us already. In that gay court, where Raleigh and his 
haughty rivals were then playing their deep games, — where 
there was no room for Spenser's muse, and the worth of his 


'Old Song' was grudgingly reckoned, — the 'rustling in silks' 
is long since over, but the courtier's place in the pageant of 
the 'Faery Queene' remains, and grows clearer with the lapse 
of ages. That time, against which he built so perseveringly, 
and fortified himself on so many sides, will not be able to 
diminish there ' one dowle that's in his plume.'* 

In the Lord Timon of the Shakspere piece, which was re- 
written from an Academic original after Kaleigh's consignment 
to the Tower, — in that fierce satire into which so much 
Elizabethan bitterness is condensed, under the difference of 
the reckless prodigality which is stereotyped in the fable, we 
get, in the earlier scenes, some glimpses of this ' Athenian ' 
also, in this stage of his career. 

But it was not as a Patron only, or chiefly, that he aided 
the new literary development. A scholar, a scholar so earnest, 
so indefatigable, it followed of course that he must be, in one 
form or another, an Instructor also; for that is still, under all 
conditions, the scholar's destiny — it is still, in one form or 
another, his business on the earth. But with that tempera- 
ment which was included among the particular conditions of 
his genius, and with those special and particular endowments 
of his for another kind of intellectual mastery, he could not be 
content with the pen — with the Poet's, or the Historian's, or 
the Philosopher's pen — as the instrument of his mental dicta- 
tion. A Teacher thus furnished and ordained, seeks, indeed, 
naturally and instinctively, a more direct and living and 
effective medium of communication with the audience which 
his time is able to furnish him, whether ' few' or many, 
whether f fit' or unfit, than the book can give him. He must 
have another means of ' delivery and tradition,' when the 
delivery or tradition is addressed to those whom he would 
associate with him in his age, to work with him as one 
man, or those to whom he would transmit it in other ages, to 

* He was also a patron of Plays and Players in this stage of his 
career, and entertained private parties at his house with very recherche 
performances of that kind sometimes. 


carry it on to its perfection — those to whom lie would com- 
municate his own highest view, those whom he would inform 
with his patiently -gathered lore, those whom he would histruct 
and move with his new inspirations. For the truth has 
become a personality with him — it is his nobler self. He 
will live on with it. He will live or die with it. 

For such a one there is, perhaps, no institution ready in 
his time to accept his ministry. No chair at Oxford or Cam- 
bridge is waiting for him. For they are, of course, and must 
needs be, the strong-holds of the past — those ancient and 
venerable seats of learning, ' the fountains and nurseries of all 
the humanities,' as a Cambridge Professor calls them, in a 
letter addressed to Raleigh. The principle of these larger 
wholes is, of course, instinctively conservative. Their business 
is to know nothing of the new. The new intellectual move- 
ment must fight its battles through without, and come off 
conqueror there, or ever those old Gothic doors will creak on 
their reluctant hinges to give it ever so pinched an entrance. 
When it has once fought its way, and forced itself within — 
when it has got at last some marks of age and custom on its 
brow — then, indeed, it will stand as the last outwork of that 
fortuitous conglomeration, to be defended in its turn against 
all comers. Already the revived classics had been able to 
push from their chairs, and drive into corners, and shut up 
finally and put to silence, the old Aristotelian Doctors — the 
Seraphic and Cherubic Doctors of their day — in their own 
ancient halls. It would be sometime yet, perhaps, however, 
before that study of the dead languages, which was of course 
one prominent incident of the first revival of a dead learning, 
would come to take precisely the same place in those insti- 
tutions, with their one instinct of conservation and 'abhor- 
rence of change,' which the old monastic philosophy had taken 
in its day; but that change once accomplished, the old 
monastic philosophy itself, religious as it was, was never held 
more sacred than this profane innovation would come to be. 
It would be some time before those new observations and ex- 
periments, which Ealeigh and his school were then beginning 


to institute, experiments and inquiries which the universities 
would have laughed to scorn in their day, would come to be 
promoted to the Professor's chair; but when they did, it would 
perhaps be difficult to convince a young gentleman liberally 
educated, at least, under the wings of one of those ' ancient 
and venerable' seats of learning, now gray in Raleigh's youthful 
West — ambitious, perhaps, to lead off in this popular innova- 
tion, where Saurians, and Icthyosaurians, and Entomologists, 
and Chonchologists are already hustling the poor Greek and 
Latin Teachers into corners, and putting them to silence with 
their growing terminologies — it would perhaps be difficult 
to convince one who had gone through the prescribed course 
of treatment in one of these ' nurseries of humanity,' that the 
knowledge of the domestic habits and social and political 
organisations of insects and shell-fish, or even the experiments 
of the laboratory, though never so useful and proper in their 
place, are not, after all, the beginning and end of a human 
learning. It was no such place as that that this department of 
the science of nature took in the systems or notions of its 
Elizabethan Founders. They were ' Naturalists,' indeed ; but 
that did not imply, with their use of the term, the absence of 
the natural common human sense in the selection of the 
objects of their pursuits. ' It is a part of science to make 
judicious inquiries and wishes,' says the speaker in chief for 
this new doctrine of nature; speaking of the particular and 
special applications of it which he is forbidden to make openly, 
but which he instructs, and prepares, and charges his followers 
to make for themselves. 

One of those innovations, one of those movements in which 
the new ground of ages of future culture is first chalked out — 
a movement whose end is not yet, whose beginning we have 
scarce yet seen — was made in England, not very far from the 
time in which Sir Walter Ealeigh began first to convert the 
eclat of his rising fortunes at home, and the splendour of his 
heroic achievements abroad, and all those new means of influ- 
ence which his great position gave him, to the advancement of 
those deeper, dearer ambitions, which the predominance of the 


nobler elements in his constitution made inevitable with him. 
Even then he was ready to endanger those golden opinions, 
waiting to be worn in their newest gloss, not cast aside so 
soon, and new-won rank, and liberty and life itself, for the 
sake of putting himself into his true intellectual relations with 
his time, as a philosopher and a beginner of a new age in the 
human advancement. For c spirits are not finely touched but 
to fine issues.' 

If there was no Professor's Chair, if there was no Pulpit or 
Bishop's Stall waiting for him, and begging his acceptance of 
its perquisites, he must needs institute a chair of his own, and 
pay for leave to occupy it. If there was no university with 
its appliances within his reach, he must make a university of 
his own. The germ of a new c universality ' would not be 
wanting in it. His library, or his drawing-room, or his 
4 banquet,' will be Oxford enough for him. He will begin it 
as the old monks began theirs, with their readings. Where 
the teacher is, there must the school be gathered together. 
And a school in the end there will be: a school in the end 
the true teacher will have, though he begin it, as the barefoot 
Athenian began his, in the stall of the artisan, or in the chat 
of the Gymnasium, amid the compliments of the morning 
levee, or in the woodland stroll, or in the midnight revel of 
the banquet. 

When the hour and the man are indeed met, when the time 
is ripe, and one truly sent, ordained of that Power which 
chooses, not one only — what uncloaked atheism is that, to 
promulgate in an age like this ! — not the Teachers and 
Kabbies of one race only, but all the successful agents of 
human advancement, the initiators of new eras of man's pro- 
gress, the inaugurates of new ages of the relief of the human 
estate and the Creator's glory — when such an one indeed ap- 
pears, there will be no lack of instrumentalities. With some 
verdant hill-side, it may be, some blossoming knoll or ' mount' 
for his * chair,' with a daisy or a lily in his hand, or in a 
fisherman's boat, it may be, pushed a little way from the 
strand, he will begin new ages. 



The influence of Raleigh upon his time cannot yet be fully 
estimated; because, in the first place, it was primarily of that 
kind which escapes, from its subtlety, the ordinary historical 
record; and, in the second place, it was an influence at the 
time necessarily covert, studiously disguised. His relation to 
the new intellectual development of his age might, perhaps, be 
characterised as Socratic; though certainly not because he 
lacked the use, and the most masterly use, of that same weapon 
with which his younger contemporary brought out at last, in 
the face of his time, the plan of the Great Instauration. In 
the heart of the new establishment which the magnificent 
courtier, who was a ' Queen's delight/ must now maintain, 
there soon came to be a little ' Academe.' The choicest youth 
of the time, ' the Spirits of the Morning Sort,' gathered about 
him. It was the new philosophic and poetic genius of the 
age that he attracted to him ; it was on that philosophic and 
poetic genius that he left his mark for ever. 

He taught them, as the masters taught of old, in dialogues 
— in words that could not then be written, in words that 
needed the master's modulation to give them their significance. 
For the new doctrine had need to be clothed in a language of 
its own, whose inner meaning only those who had found their 
way to its inmost shrine were able to interpret. 

We find some contemporary and traditional references to 
this school, which are not without their interest and historical 
value, as tending to show the amount of influence which it 
was supposed to have exerted on the time, as well as the ac- 
knowledged necessity for concealment in the studies pursued 
in it. The fact that such an Association existed, that it began 
with Raleigh, that young men of distinction were attracted to 
it, and that in such numbers, and under such conditions, that 
it came to be considered ultimately as a ' School, 1 of which he 
was the head-master — the fact that the new experimental 
science was supposed to have had its origin in this association, 
— - that opinions, differing from the received ones, were also 
secretly discussed in it, — that anagrams and other devices were 
made use of for the purpose of infolding the esoteric doctrines of 


the school in popular language, so that it was possible to write 
in this language acceptably to the vulgar, and without violating 
preconceived opinions, and at the same time instructively to 
the initiated, — all this remains, even on the surface of state- 
ments already accessible to any scholar, — all this remains, either 
in the form of contemporary documents, or in the recollections 
of persons who have apparently had it from the most authentic 
sources, from persons who profess to know, and who were at 
least in a position to know, that such was the impression at the 

But when the instinctive dread of innovation was already 
so keenly on the alert, when Elizabeth was surrounded with 
courtiers still in their first wrath at the promotion of the new 
1 favourite/ indignant at finding themselves so suddenly over- 
shadowed with the growing honours of one who had risen 
from a rank beneath their own, and eagerly watching for an 
occasion against him, it was not likely that such an affair as 
this was going to escape notice altogether. And though the 
secresy with which it was conducted, might have sufficed to 
elude a scrutiny such as theirs, there was another, and more 
eager and subtle enemy, — an enemy which the founder of 
this school had always to contend with, that had already, day 
and night, at home and abroad, its Argus watch upon him. 
That vast and secret foe, which he had arrayed against him 
on foreign battle fields, knew already what kind of embodi- 
ment of power this was that was rising into such sudden favour 
here at home, and would have crushed him in the germ — that 
foe which would never rest till it had pursued him to the 
block, which was ready to join hands with his personal ene- 
mies in its machinations, in the court of Elizabeth, as well as 
in the court of her successor, that vast, malignant, indefatigable 
foe, in which the spirit of the old ages lurked, was already at 
his threshold, and penetrating to the most secret chamber of his 
councils. It was on the showing of a Jesuit that these friendly 
gatherings of young men at Raleigh's table came to be 
branded as ' a school of Atheism/ And it was through such 
agencies, that his enemies at court were able to sow suspicions 

e 2 


in Elizabeth's mind in regard to trie entire orthodoxy of his 
mode of explaining certain radical points in human belief, and 
in regard to the absolute ' conformity ' of his views on these 
points with those which she had herself divinely authorised, 
suspicions which he himself confesses he was never afterwards 
able to eradicate. The matter was represented to her, we are 
told, * as if he had set up for a doctor in the faculty and invited 
young gentlemen into his school, where the Bible was jeered 
at/ and the use of profane anagrams was inculcated. The 
fact that he associated with him in his chemical and mathe- 
matical studies, and entertained in his house, a scholar 
labouring at that time under the heavy charge of getting up 
* a philosophical theology,' was also made use of greatly to 
his discredit. 

And from another uncontradicted statement, which dates 
from a later period, but which comes to us worded in terms 
as cautious as if it had issued directly from the school itself, 
we obtain another glimpse of these new social agencies, with 
which the bold, creative, social genius that was then seeking 
to penetrate on all sides the custom-bound time, would have 
roused and organised a new social life in it. It is still the 
second-hand hearsay testimony which is quoted here. ' He is 
said to have set up an Office of Address, and it is supposed 
that the office might respect a more liberal intercourse — a nobler 
mutuality of advertisement, than would perhaps admit of 
all sorts of persons.' ' Kaleigh set up a kind of Office of 
Address/ says another, ' in the capacity of an agency for 
all sorts of persons.' John Evelyn, refers also to that long 
dried fountain of communication which Montaigne first 
proposed, Sir Walter Raleigh put in practice, and Mr. 
Hartlib endeavoured to renew.' 

* This is the scheme described by Sir W. Pellis, which is 
referred traditionally to Raleigh and Montaigne (see Book I. 
chap, xxxiv.) An Office of Address whereby the wants of all 
may be made known to all (that painful and great instru- 
ment of this design), where men may know what is already done 
in the business of learning , what is at present in doing, and what 


is intended to be done, to the end that, by such a general com- 
munication of design and mutual assistance, the wits and endeavours 
of the world may no longer be as so many scattered coals, which, 
for want of union, are soon quenched, whereas being laid to- 
gether they would have yielded a comfortable light and heat. 
[This is evidently, traditional, language] . . . such as advanced 
rather to the improvement of men themselves than their means.' 
— Oldys. 

This then is the association of which Kaleigh was the 
chief; this was the state, within the state which he was 
founding. (' See the reach of this man,' says Lord Coke on 
his Trial.) It is true that the honour is also ascribed to Mon- 
taigne ; but we shall find, as we proceed with this inquiry, that 
all the works and inventions of this new English school, of 
which Raleigh was chief, all its new and vast designs for man's 
relief, are also claimed by that same aspiring gentleman, as 
they were, too, by another of these Egotists, who came out in 
his own name with this identical project. 

It was only within the walls of a school that the great 
principle of the new philosophy of fact and practice, which 
had to pretend to be profoundly absorbed in chemical 
experiments, or in physical observations, and inductions 
of some kind — though not without an occasional hint, of 
a broader intention, — it was only in esoteric language that 
the great principles of this philosophy could begin to be set 
forth in their true comprehension. The very trunk of it, the 
primal science itself, must needs be mystified and hidden in a 
shower of metaphysical dust, and piled and heaped about with 
the old dead branches of scholasticism, lest men should see for 
themselves how broad and comprehensive must be the ultimate 
sweep of its determinations; lest men should see for themselves, 
how a science which begins in fact, and returns to it again, which 
begins in observation and experiment, and returns in scientific 
practice, in scientific arts, in scientific re-formation, might have 
to do, ere all was done, with facts not then inviting scientific 
investigation — with arts not then inviting scientific reform.. 
In consequence of a sudden and common advancement of 



intelligence among the leading men of that age, which left 
the standard of intelligence represented in more than one of 
its existing institutions, very considerably in the rear of its 
advancement, there followed, as the inevitable result, a ten- 
dency to the formation of some medium of expression, — 
whether that tendency was artistically developed or not, in 
which the new and nobler thoughts of men, in which their 
dearest beliefs, could find some vent and limited interchange 
and circulation, without startling the ear. Eventually there 
came to be a number of men in England at this time, — and 
who shall say that there were none on the continent of this 
school, — occupying prominent positions in the state, heading, 
it might be, or ranged in opposite factions at Court, who could 
speak and write in such a manner, upon topics of common 
interest, as to make themselves entirely intelligible to each 
other, without exposing themselves to any of the risks, 
which confidential communications under such circumstances 

For there existed a certain mode of expression, originating 
in some of its more special forms with this particular school, 
yet not altogether conventional, which enabled those who 
made use of it to steer clear of the Star Chamber and its 
sister institution; inasmuch as the terms employed in this 
mode of communication were not in the more obvious inter- 
pretation of them actionable, and to a vulgar, unlearned, or 
stupid conceit, could hardly be made to appear so. There 
must be a High Court of Wit, and a Bench of Peers in that 
estate of the realm, or ever these treasons could be brought 
to trial. For it was a mode of communication which in- 
volved in its more obvious construction the necessary submission 
to power. It was the instructed ear, — the ear of a school, — 
which was required to lend to it its more recondite meanings ; 
— it was the ear of that new school in philosophy which had 
made History the basis of its learning, — which, dealing with 
principles instead of words, had glanced, not without some 
nice observation in passing, at their more * conspicuous' his- 
torical f instances'; — it was the ear of a school which had 


everywhere the great historical representations and diagrams 
at its control, and could substitute, without much hindrance, 
particulars for generals, or generals for particulars, as the 
case might be; it was the ear of a school intrusted with 
discretionary power, but trained and practised in the art of 
using it. 

Originally an art of necessity, with practice, in the skilful 
hands of those who employed it, it came at length to have a 
charm of its own. In such hands, it became an instrument of 
literary power, which had not before been conceived of; a 
medium too of densest ornament, of thick crowding conceits, 
and nestling beauties, which no style before had ever had 
depth enough to harbour. It established a new, and more 
intimate and living relation between the author and his 
reader, — between the speaker and his audience. There was 
ever the charm of that secret understanding lending itself to 
all the effects. It made the reader, or the hearer, participator 
in the artist's skill, and. joint proprietor in the result. The 
author's own glow must be on his cheek, the author's own 
flash in his eye, ere that result was possible. The nice point 
of the skilful pen, the depth of the lurking tone was lost, 
unless an eye as skilful, or an ear as fine, tracked or waited on 
it. It gave to the work of the artist, nature's own style; — it 
gave to works which had the earnest of life and death in 
them the sport of the ' enigma.' 

It is not too much to say, that the works of Kaleigh and 
Bacon, and others whose connection with it it is not necessary 
to specify just here, are written throughout in the language of 
this school. ' Our glorious Willy' — (it is the gentleman who 
wrote the 'Faery Queene' who claims him, and his glories, as 
i ours'), — 4 our glorious Willy' was born in it, and knew no 
other speech. It was that < Round Table' at which Sir Philip 
Sydney presided then, that his lurking meanings, his unspeak- 
able audacities first ! set in a roar.' It was there, in the keen 
encounters of those flashing < wit combats,' that the weapons 
of great genius grew so fine. It was there, where the young 
wits and scholars, fresh from their continental tours, full of the 
gallant young England of their day,— the Mercutios, the 


Benedicts, the Birons, the Longuevilles, came together fresh 
from the Court of Navarre, and smelling of the lore of their 
foreign * Academe/ or hot from the battles of continental 
freedom, — it was there, in those reunions, that our Poet caught 
those gracious airs of his — those delicate, thick-flowering 
refinements — those fine impalpable points of courtly breeding 
— those aristocratic notions that haunt him everywhere. It 
was there that he picked up his various knowledge of men and 
manners, his acquaintance with foreign life, his bits of travel- 
led wit, that flash through all. It was there that he heard 
the clash of aims, and the ocean-storm. And it was there 
that he learned * his old ward.' It was there, in the social 
collisions of that gay young time, with its bold over-flowing 
humours, that would not be shut in, that he first armed 
himself with those quips and puns, and lurking conceits, that 
crowd his earlier style so thickly, — those double, and triple, 
and quadruple meanings, that stud so closely the lines of his 
dialogue in the plays which are clearly dated from that era, — 
the natural artifices of a time like that, when all those new 
volumes of utterance which the lips were ready to issue, were 
forbidden on pain of death to be ' extended,' must needs ( be 
crushed together, infolded within themselves.' 

Of course it would be absurd, or it would involve the most 
profound ignorance of the history of literature in general, to 
claim that the principle of this invention had its origin here. 
It had already been in use, in recent and systematic use, in 
the intercourse of the scholars of the Middle Ages; and its 
origin is coeval with the origin of letters. The free-masonry 
of learning is old indeed. It runs its mountain chain of 
signals through all the ages, and men whom times and kindreds 
have separated ascend from their week-day toil, and hold 
their Sabbaths and synods on those heights. They whisper, 
and listen, and smile, and shake the head at one another; 
they laugh, and weep, and complain together; they sing their 
songs of victory in one key. That machinery is so fine, 
that the scholar can catch across the ages, the smile, or the 
whisper, which the contemporary tyranny had no instrument 
firm enough to suppress, or fine enough to detect. 


* But for her father sitting still on hie, 

Did warily still watch the way she went, 
And eke from far observed with jealous eie, 
Which way his course the wanton Bregog bent. 

Him to deceive, for all his watchful ward, 

The wily lover did devise this slight. 
First, into many parts, his stream he shared, 

That whilst the one was watch' d, the other might 

Pass unespide, to meet her by the way. 

And then besides, those little streams, so broken, 
He under ground so closely did convey, 

That of their passage doth appear no token? 

It was the author of the 'Faery Queene,' indeed, his fine, 
elaborate, fertile genius burthened with its rich treasure, and 
stimulated to new activity by his poetical alliance with 
Ealeigh, whose splendid invention first made apparent the 
latent facilities which certain departments of popular literature 
then offered, for a new and hitherto unparalleled application of 
this principle. In that prose description of his great Poem 
which he addresses to Raleigh, the distinct avowal of a double 
intention in it, the distinction between a particular and general 
one, the emphasis with which the elements of the ideal name, 
are discriminated and blended, furnish to the careful reader 
already some superficial hints, as to the capabilities of such a 
plan to one at all predisposed to avail himself of them. And, 
indeed., this Poet's manifest philosophical and historical ten- 
dencies, and his avowed view of the comprehension of the 
Poet's business would have seemed beforehand to require some 
elbow-room, — some chance for poetic curves and sweeps, — 
some space for the line of beauty to take its course in, which 
the sharp angularities, the crooked lines, the blunt bringing 
up everywhere, of the new philosophic tendency to history 
would scarcely admit of. There was no breathing space for 
him, unless he could contrive to fix his poetic platform so 
high, as^'to be able to override these restrictions without 

' For the Poet thrusteth into the midst, even where it most 
concerneth him; and then recoursing to the things fore-past, and 


divining of things to come, he maketh a pleasing analysis of 

And it so happened that his Prince Arthur had dreamed 
the poet's dream, the hero's dream, the philosopher's dream, 
the dream that was dreamed of old under the Olive shades, the 
dream that all our Poets and inspired anticipators of man's 
perfection and felicity have always been dreaming; but this 
one ' awakening/ determined that it should be a dream no 
longer. It was the hour in which the genius of antiquity 
was reviving ; it was the hour in which the poetic inspiration 
of all the ages was reviving, and arming itself with the know- 
ledge of ' things not dreamt of by old reformers — that know- 
ledge of nature which is power, which is the true magic. For 
this new Poet had seen in a vision that same ' excellent beauty' 
which * the divine' ones saw of old, and * the New Atlantis/ 
the celestial vision of her kingdom ; and being also ' ravished 
with that excellence, and awakening, he determined to seek 
her out. And so being by Merlin armed, and by Timon 
thoroughly instructed, he went forth to seek her in Fairy 
Land' There was a little band of heroes in that age, a little 
band of philosophers and poets, secretly bent on that same 
adventure, sworn to the service of that same Gloriana, though 
they were fain to wear then the scarf and the device of 
another Queen on their armour. It is to the prince of this 
little band — ' the prince and mirror of all chivalry' — that this 
Poet dedicates his poem. But it is Raleigh's device which he 
adopts in the names he uses, and it is Raleigh who thus shares 
with Sydney the honour of his dedication. 

' In that Faery Queene, I mean,' he says, in his prose descrip- 
tion of the Poem addressed to Raleigh, * in that Faery Queene, 
I mean Glory in my general intention ; but, in my particular, 
I conceive the most glorious person of our sovereign the 
Queen, and her kingdom — in Fairy Land. 

' And yet, in some places, I do otherwise shadow her. For 
considering she beareth two persons, one of a most Royal Queen 
or Empress, the other of a most virtuous and beautiful 
lady — the latter part I do express in Bel-Phebe, fashioning 


her name according to your own most excellent conceit of 
< Cynthia,' Phebe and Cynthia being both names of Diana.' 
And thus he sings his poetic dedication : — 

'To thee, that art the Summer's Nightingale, 
Thy sovereign goddess's most dear delight, 
Why do I send this rustic madrigal, 
That may thy tuneful ear unseason quite 1 
Thou, only fit this argument to write, 
In whose high thoughts pleasure hath built her bower, 
And dainty love learn'd sweetly to indite. 
My rhymes, I know, unsavoury are and soure 
To taste the streams, which like a golden showre, 
Flow from thy fruitful head of thy love's praise. 
Fitter, perhaps, to thunder martial stowre,* 
When thee so list thy tuneful thoughts to raise, 
Yet till that thou thy poem wilt make known, 
Let thy fair Cynthia's praises be thus rudely shown.' 

* Of me/ says Raleigh, in a response to this obscure partner 
of his works and arts, — a response not less mysterious, till we 
have found the solution of it, for it is an enigma. 

1 Of me no lines are loved, no letters are of price, 
Of all that speak the English tongue, but those of thy device.' f 

It is to Sidney, Raleigh, and the Poet of the ' Faery-Queene/ 
and the rest of that courtly company of Poets, that the co- 
temporary author in the Art of Poetry alludes, with a special 
commendation of Raleigh's vein, as the ' most lofty, insolent, 
and passionate/ when he says, ' they have writ excellently well, 
if their doings could be found out and made public with the 

* < Shine forth, thou Star of Poets, and with rage 
Or influence chide, or cheer the drooping stage.' 

Ben Jonson. 

t It was a < device' that symbolised all. It was a circle containing 
the alphabet, or the ABC, and the esoteric meaning of it was ■ all in 
each; or all in all, the new doctrine of the unity of science (the 
< Ideas' of the New 'Academe'). That was the token-name under which 
a great Book of this Academy was issued. 




Oliver. Where will the old Duke live? 

Charles. They say he is already in the forest of Arden, and a many 
merry men with him ; and there they live like the old Robin Hood of 
England : they say many young gentlemen flock to him every day ; 
and fleet the time carelessly as they did in the golden world. 

As You Like It. 

Stephano [sings]. 

Flout 'em and skout'em-, and skout'em and flout 'em, 
Thought is free. 
Cal. That 's not the tune. 

[Ariel plays the tune on a tabor and pipe. 
Ste. What is this same ? 

Trin. This is the tune of our catch, played by — the picture of — 

* * ■* * 

BUT all was not over with him in the old England yet — 
the present had still its chief tasks for him. 
The man who had ' achieved ' his greatness, the chief who 
had made his way through such angry hosts of rivals, and 
through such formidable social barriers, from his little seat in 
the Devonshire corner to a place in the state, so commanding, 
that even the jester, who was the ' Mr. Punch' of that day, 
conceived it to be within the limits of his prerogative to call 
attention to it, and that too in ' the presence ' itself* — a place 
of command so acknowledged, that even the poet could call 
him in the ear of England ' her most dear delight' — such a 
one was not going to give up so easily the game he had been 
playing here so long. He was not to be foiled with this great 
flaw in his fortunes even here; and though all his work 
appeared for the time to be undone, and though the eye that 
he had fastened on him was ' the eye' that had in it ' twenty 
thousand deaths/ 

* See 'the knave' commands ' the queen.' — Tarleton. 


It is this patient piecing and renewing of his broken webs, 
it is this second building up of his position rather than the 
first, that shows us what he is. One must see what he con- 
trived to make of those ■ apartments ' in the Tower while he 
occupied them; what before unimagined conveniencies, and 
elegancies, and facilities of communication, and means of oper- 
ation, they began to develop under the searching of his genius: 
what means of reaching and moving the public mind; what 
wires that reached to the most secret councils of state appeared 
to be inlaid in those old walls while he was within them ; what 
springs that commanded even there movements not less strik- 
ing and anomalous than those which had arrested the critical 
and admiring attention of Tarleton under the Tudor administra- 
tion, — movements on that same royal board which Ferdinand 
and Miranda were seen to be playing on in Prosperous cell 
when all was done, — one must see what this logician, who 
was the magician also, contrived to make of the lodging 
which was at first only ' the cell ' of a condemned criminal ; 
what power there was there to foil his antagonists, and crush 
them too, — if nothing but throwing themselves under the 
wheels of his advancement would serve their purpose; one 
must look at all this to see ' what manner of man' this was, 
what stuff' this genius was made of, in whose heats ideas that 
had been parted from all antiquities were getting welded here 
then — welded so firmly that all futurities would not disjoin 
them, so firmly that thrones, and dominions, and principalities, 
and powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this world might 
combine in vain to disjoin them — the ideas whose union was 
the new * birth of time/ It is this life in ' the cell ' — this 
game, these masques, this tempest, that the magician will com- 
mand there — which show us, when all is done, what new stuff 
of Nature's own this was, in which the new idea of combining 
1 the part operative ' and the part speculative of human life — 
this new thought of making * the art and practic part of life 
the mistress to its theoric' was understood in this scholar's 
own time (as we learn from the secret traditions of the school) 
to have had its first germination : this idea which is the idea 
of the modern learning — the idea of connecting knowledge 


generally and in a sytematic manner with the human con- 
duct — knowledge as distinguished from pre-supposition — the 
idea which came out afterwards so systematically and compre- 
hensively developed in the works of his great contemporary 
and partner in arts and learning. 

We must look at this, as well as at some other demonstra- 
tions of which this time was the witness, to see what new 
mastership this is that was coming out here so signally in this 
age in various forms, and in more minds than one ; what soul 
of a new era it was that had laughed, even in the boyhood of 
its heroes, at old Aristotle on his throne; that had made its 
youthful games with dramatic impersonations, and caricatures, 
and travesties of that old book-learning ; that in the glory of 
those youthful spirits — ' the spirits of youths, that meant to 
be of note and began betimes' — it thought itself already com- 
petent to laugh down and dethrone with its ' jests' ; that had 
laughed all its days in secret; that had never once lost a 
chance for a jibe at the philosophy it found in possession of 
the philosophic chairs — a philosophy which had left so many 
things in heaven and earth uncompassed in its old futile 
dreamy abstractions. 

Unless philosophy can make a Juliet, 
Displant a town, reverse a prince's doom, 
Hang up philosophy, 

was the word of the poet of this new school in one of his 
* lofty and passionate' moods, at a much earlier stage of this 
philosophic development. ' See what learning is !' exclaims the 
Nurse, speaking at that same date from the same dictation, 
for there is a Friar * abroad' there already in the action of 
that play, who is undertaking to bring his learning to bear 
upon practice, and opening his cell for scientific consultation 
and ghostly advice on the questions of the play as they happen 
to arise ; and it is his apparent capacity for smoothing, and re- 
conciling, and versifying, not words only, but facts, which 
commands the Nurse's admiration. 

This doctrine of a practical learning, this part operative of 
the new learning for which the founders of it beg leave to 
reintegrate the abused term of Natural Magic, referring to the 


Persians in particular, to indicate the extent of the field which 
their magical operations are intended ultimately to occupy ; 
this idea, which the master of this school was illustrating now 
in the Tower so happily, did not originate in the Tower, as 
we shall see. 

The first heirs of this new invention, were full of it. The 
babbling infancy of this great union of art and learning, whose 
speech flows in its later works so clear, babbled of nothing else: 
its Elizabethan savageness, with its first taste of learning on its 
lips, with its new classic lore yet stumbling in its speech, 
already, knew nothing else. The very rudest play in all this 
collection of the school, — left to show us the march of that 
1 time-bettering age,' the play which offends us most — belongs 
properly to this collection; contains this secret, which is the 
Elizabethan secret, and the secret of that art of delivery and 
tradition which this from the first inevitably created, — yet 
rude and undeveloped, but there. 

We need not go so far, however, as that, in this not pleasant 
retrospect; for these early plays are not the ones to which the 
interpreter of this school would choose to refer the reader, for 
the proof of its claims at present ; — these which the faults of 
youth and the faults of the time conspire to mar : in which 
the overdoing of the first attempt to hide under a cover suited 
to the tastes of the Court, or to the yet more faulty tastes of the 
rabble of an Elizabethan play-house, — the boldest scientific 
treatment of ■ the forbidden questions,' still leaves so much 
upon the surface of the play that repels the ordinary criticism ; 
— these that were first sent out to bring in the rabble of that 
age to the scholar's cell, these in which the new science was 
first brought in, in its slave's costume, with all its native 
glories shorn, and its eyes put out * to make sport* for the 
Tudor — perilous sport! — these first rude essays of a learning 
not yet master of its unwonted tools, not yet taught how to 
wear its fetters gracefully, and wreathe them over and make 
immortal glories of them — still clanking its irons. There is 
nothing here to detain any criticism not yet instructed in the 
secret of this Art Union. But the faults are faults of execu- 


tion merely; the design of the Novum Organum is not more 
noble, not more clear. 

For these works are the works of that same ' school' which 
the Jesuit thought so dangerous, and calculated to affect un- 
favourably the morality of the English nation — the school 
which the Jesuit contrived to bring under suspicion as a school 
in wh'ch doctrines that differed from opinions received on 
essential points were secretly taught, — contriving to infect 
with his views on that point the lady who was understood, at 
that time, to be the only person qualified to reflect on ques- 
tions of this nature; the school in which Raleigh was asserted 
to be perverting the minds of young men by teaching them 
the use of profane anagrams; and it cannot be denied, that 
anagrams, as well as other ' devices in letters/ were made use 
of, in involving ' the bolder meanings' contained in writings 
issued from this school, especially when the scorn with which 
science regarded the things it found set up for its worship 
had to be conveyed sometimes in a point or a word. It is a 
school, whose language might often seem obnoxious to the 
charge of profanity and other charges of that nature to those 
who do not understand its aims, to those who do not know 
that it is from the first a school of Natural Science, whose 
chief department was that history which makes the basis of 
the ' living art,' the art of man's living, the essential art of it, 
— a school in which the use of words was, in fact, more 
rigorous and scrupulous than it had ever been in any other, in 
which the use of words is for the first time scientific, and yet, 
in some respects, more bold and free than in those in which 
mere words, as words, are supposed to have some inherent 
virtue and efficacy, some mystic worth and sanctity in them. 

This was the learning in which the art of a new age and 
race first spoke, and many an old foolish, childish, borrowed 
notion went off like vapour in it at its first word, without any 
one's ever so much as stopping to observe it, any one whose 
place was within. It is the school of a criticism much more 
severe than the criticism which calls its freedom in question. 
It is a school in which the taking of names in vain in general 


is strictly forbidden. t That is the first commandment of it, 
and it is a commandment with promise. 

The man who sits there in the Tower, now, driving that 
same ' goose-pen ' which he speaks of as such a safe instrument 
for unfolding practical doctrines, with such patient energy, is 
not now occupied with the statistics of Noah's Ark, grave as 
he looks; though that, too, is a subject which his nautical 
experience and the indomitable bias of his genius as a western 
man towards calculation in general, together with his notion 
that the affairs of the world generally, past as well as future, 
belong properly to his sphere as a man, will require him to 
take up and examine and report upon, before he will think that 
his work is done. It is not a chapter in the History of the 
World which he is composing at present, though that work 
is there at this moment on the table, and forms the ostensible 
state-prison work of this convict. 

This is the man who made one so long ago in those brilliant 
1 Eound Table' reunions, in which the idea of converting the 
new belles let f res of that new time, to such grave and politic 
uses was first suggested; he is the genius of that company, 
that even in such frolic mad-cap games as Love's Labour's Lost, 
and the Taming of the Shrew, and Midsummer Night's 
Dream, could contrive to insert, not the broad farce and bur- 
lesque on the old pretentious wordy philosophy and pompous 
rhetoric it was meant to dethrone only, and not the most perilous 
secret of the new philosophy, only, but the secret of its organ 
of delivery and tradition, the secret of its use of letters, the 
secret of its * cipher in letters, 1 and not its * cipher in words ' 
only, the cipher in which the secret of the authorship of these 
works was infolded, and in which it was found, but not found 
in these earlier plays, — plays in which these so perilous se- 
crets are still conveyed in so many involutions, in passages so 
intricate with quips and puns and worthless trivialities, so 
uninviting or so marred with their superficial meanings, that 
no one would think of looking in them for anything of any 
value. For it is always when some necessary, but not super- 
ficial, question of the play is to be considered, that the Clown 




and the Fool are most in request, for ' there be of them that 
will themselves laugh to set on some barren spectators to laugh 
too'; and under cover of that mirth it is, that the grave or 
witty undertone reaches the ear of the judicious. 

It is in the later and more finished works of this school that 
the key to the secret doctrines of it, which it is the object of 
this work to furnish, is best found. But the fact, that in the 
very rudest and most faulty plays in this collection of plays, 
which form so important a department of the works of this 
school, which make indeed the noblest tradition, the only 
adequate tradition, the ' illustrated tradition' of its noblest 
doctrine — the fact that in the very earliest germ of this new 
union of ' practic and theoric,' of art and learning, from which 
we pluck at last Advancements of Learning, and Hamlets, and 
Lears, and Tempests, and the Novum Organum, already the 
perilous secret of this union is infolded, already the entire 
organism that these great fruits and flowers will unfold in such 
perfection is contained, and clearly traceable, — this is a fact 
which appeared to require insertion in this history, and not, 
perhaps, without some illustration. 

* It is not amiss to observe,' says the Author of the Advance- 
ment of Learning, when at last his great exordium to the 
science of nature in man, and the art of culture and cure 
that is based on that science is finished — pausing to observe 
it, pausing ere he will produce his index to that science, to 
observe it : 'It is not amiss to observe* [here], he says — 
(speaking of the operation of culture in general on young 
minds, so forcible, though unseen, as hardly any length of 
time, or contention of labour, can countervail it afterwards) — 
f how small and mean faculties gotten by education, yet when 
they fall into great men, or great matters, do work great and 
important effects; whereof we see a notable example in Tacitus, 
of two stage-players, Percennius and Vibulenus, who, by their 
faculty of playing, put the Pannonian armies into an extreme 
tumult and combustion; for, there arising a mutiny among them, 
upon the death of Augustus Caesar, Blaesus the lieutenant had 
committed some of the mutineers, which were suddenly rescued; 


whereupon Vibulenus got to be heard speak [being a stage- 
player] , which he did in this manner. 

i ' These poor innocent wretches appointed to cruel death, you 
have restored to behold the light: but who shall restore my 
brother to me, or life to my brother, that was sent hither in 
message from the legions of Germany to treat of — THE COMMON 
CAUSE? And he hath murdered him this last night by some 
of his fencers and ruffians, that he hath about him for his execu- 
tioners upon soldiers. The mortalest enemies do not deny 
burial ; ivhen I have performed my last duties to the corpse with 
kisses, with tears, command me to be slain besides him, so that 
these, my fellows, for our good meaning and our true hearts to 
THE legion, may have leave to bury us. 3 

c With which speech he put the army into an infinite fury 
and uproar; whereas, truth was, he had no brother, neither 
was there any such matter [in that case], but he played it 
merely as if he had been upon the stage.' 

This is the philosopher and stage critic who expresses a 
decided opinion elsewhere, that ' the play 's the thing/ though 
he finds this kind of writing, too, useful in its way, and for 
certain purposes; but he is the one who, in speaking of the 
original differences in the natures and gifts of men, suggests 
that ' there are a kind of men who can, as it were, divide 
themselves / and he does not hesitate to propound it as his 
deliberate opinion, that a man of wit should have at command 
a number of styles adapted to different auditors and exigencies ; 
that is, if he expects to accomplish anything with his rhetoric. 
That is what he makes himself responsible for from his pro- 
fessional chair of learning; but it is the Prince of Denmark, 
with his remarkable natural faculty of speaking to the point, 
who says, ' Seneca can not be too heavy, nor Plautus too 
light, for — [what? — ] the law of writ — and — the liberty.' 
1 These are the only men, 1 he adds, referring apparently to that 
tinselled gauded group of servants that stand there awaiting 
his orders. 

* My lord — you played once in the university, you say/ he 
observes afterwards, addressing himself to that so politic states- 



man whose overreaching court plots and performances end for 
himself so disastrously. ' That did I, my lord,' replies Polo- 
nius, ' and was accounted a good actor! ' And what did you 
enact?' ' I did enact Julius Caesar. I was killed i' the Capi- 
tol [I] . Brutus killed me.' * It was a brute part of him 
[collateral sounds — Elizabethan phonography] to kill so 
capitol a calf there. — Be the players ready? '( ?). [That is the 

' While watching the progress of the action at Sadlers* 
Wells,' says the dramatic critic of the ' Times,' in the criticism 
of the Comedy of Errors before referred to, directing attention 
to the juvenile air of the piece, to ' the classic severity in the 
form of the play/ and ' that baldness of treatment which is a 
peculiarity of antique comedy' — e while watching the progress 
of the action at Sadlers* Wells, we may almost fancy we are at 
St. Peters College, witnessing the annual performance of the 
Queen's scholars.' That is not surprising to one acquainted 
with the history of these plays, though the criticism which 
involves this kind of observation is not exactly the criticism 
to which we have been accustomed here. But any one who 
wishes to see, as a matter of antiquarian curiosity, or for any 
other purpose, how far from being hampered in the first efforts 
of his genius with this class of educational associations, that 
particular individual would naturally have been, in whose un- 
conscious brains this department of the modern learning is 
supposed to have had its accidental origin, — any one who 
wishes to see in what direction the antecedents of a person in 
that station in life would naturally have biassed, at that time, 
his first literary efforts, if, indeed, he had ever so far escaped 
from the control of circumstances as to master the art of the 
collocation of letters — any person who has any curiosity what- 
ever on this point is recommended to read in this connection 
a letter from a professional cotemporary of this individual — 
one who comes to us with unquestionable claims to our re- 
spect, inasmuch as he appears to have had some care for the 
future, and some object in living beyond that of promoting 
his own immediate private interests and sensuous gratification. 


It is a letter of Mr. Edward Alleyn (the founder of Dulwich 
College), published by the Shakspere Society, to which we are 
compelled to have recourse for information on this interesting 
question; inasmuch as that distinguished cotemporary and 
professional rival of his referred to, who occupies at present so 
large a space in the public eye, as it is believed for the best of 
reasons, has failed to leave us any specimens of his method of 
reducing his own personal history to writing, or indeed any 
demonstration of his appreciation of the art of chirography, in 
general. He is a person who appears to have given a decided 
preference to the method of oral communication as a means of 
effecting his objects. But in reading this truly interesting 
document from the pen of an Elizabethan player, who has 
left us a specimen of his use of that instrument usually so 
much in esteem with men of letters, we must take into account 
the fact, that this is an exceptional case of culture. It is the 
case of a player who aspired to distinction, and who had raised 
himself by the force of his genius above his original social 
level ; it is the case of a player who has been referred to re- 
cently as a proof of the position which it was possible for * a 
stage player' to attain to under those particular social con- 

But as this letter is of a specially private and confidential 
nature, and as this poor player who did care for the future, 
and who founded with his talents, such as they were, a noble 
charity, instead of living and dying to himself, is not to blame 
for his defects of education, — since his acts command our 
respect, however faulty his attempts at literary expression, — 
this letter will not be produced here. But whoever has read 
it, or whoever may chance to read it, in the course of an anti- 
quarian research, will be apt to infer, that whatever educa- 
tional bias the first efforts of genius subjected to influences of 
the same kind would naturally betray, the faults charged upon 
the Comedy of Errors, the leaning to the classics, the taint of 
St. Peter's College, the tone of the Queen's scholars, are hardly 
the faults that the instructed critic would look for. 

But to ascertain the fact, that the controlling idea of that 


new learning which the Man in the Tower is illustrating now 
in so grand and mature a manner, not with his pen only, but 
with his ' living art/ and with such an entire independence of 
classic models, is already organically contained in those earlier 
works on which the classic shell is still visible, it is not neces- 
sary to go back to the Westminster play of these new classics, 
or to the performances of the Queen's Scholars. Plays having 
a considerable air of maturity, in which the internal freedom 
of judgment and taste is already absolute, still exhibit on the 
surface of them this remarkable submission to the ancient 
forms which are afterwards rejected on principle, and by a 
rule in the new rhetoric — a rule which the author of the 
Advancement of Learning is at pains to state very clearly. 
The mildness of which we hear so much, works itself out upon 
the surface, and determines the form at length, as these players 
proceed and grow bolder with their work. A play, second to 
none in historical interest, invaluable when regarded simply 
in its relation to the history of this school, one which may 
be considered, in fact, the Introductory Play of the New 
School of Learning, is one which exhibits very vividly these 
striking characteristics of the earlier period. It is one in which 
the vulgarities of the Play-house are still the cloak of the 
philosophic subtleties, and incorporated, too, into the philo- 
sophic design; and it is one in which the unity of design, that 
one design which makes the works of this school, from first to 
last, as the work of one man, is still cramped with those 
other unities which the doctrines of Dionysus and * the 
mysteries of Eleusis prescribed of old to their interpreters* 
'What is the end of study? What is the end of it?' was 
the word of the New School of Learning. That was its 
first speech. It was a speech produced with dramatic illus- 
trations, for the purpose of bringing out its significance more 
fully, for the purpose of pointing the inquiry unmistake- 
ably to those ends of learning which the study of the learned 
then had not yet comprehended. It is a speech on behalf 
of a new learning, in which the extant learning is produced 
on the stage, in its actual historical relation to those 'ends' 


which the new school conceived to be the true ends of it, 
which are brought on to the stage in palpable, visible re- 
presentation, not in allegorical forms, but in instances, 
1 conspicuous instances,' living specimens, after the manner of 
this school. 

* What is the end of study?' cried the setter forth of this 
new doctrine, as long before as when lore and love were 
debating it together in that ' little Academe' that was yet, 
indeed, to be * the wonder of the world, still and contem- 
plative in living art/ 'What is the end of study?' cries 
already the voice of one pacing under these new olives. That 
was the word of the new school ; that was the word of new 
ages, and these new minds taught of nature — her priests and 
prophets knew it then, already, ' Let fame that all hunt after 
in their lives, 1 they cry — 

Live registered upon our brazen tombs, 
And then grace us in the disgrace of death ; 
When spite of cormorant devouring time, 
The endeavour of this present breath may buy 
That honour which shall bate his scythe's keen edge, 
And make us heirs of all eternity — [of all]. 
* * * * 

Navarre shall be the wonder of the world, 
Our Court shall be a little Academe, 
Still and contemplative in — living art. 

This is the Poet of the Woods who is beginning his ' recrea- 
tions' for us here — the poet who loves so well to take his 
court gallants in their silks and velvets, and perfumes, and 
fine court ladies with all their courtly airs and graces, and all 
the stale conventionalitites that he is sick of, out from under 
the low roofs of princes into that great palace in which the 
Queen, whose service he is sworn to, keeps the State. This 
is the school-master who takes his school all out on holiday 
excursions into green fields, and woods, and treats them to 
country merry-makings, and not in sport merely. This is the 
one that breaks open the cloister, and the close walls that 
learning had dwelt in till then, and shuts up the musty books, 


and bids that old droning cease. This is the one that stretches 
the long drawn aisle and lifts the fretted vault into a grander 
temple. The Court with all its pomp and retinue, the school 
with all its pedantries and brazen ignorance, * High Art' with 
its new graces, divinity, Mar-texts and all, must ' come hither, 
come hither,' and ' under the green- wood tree lie with me/ the 
ding-dong of this philosopher's new learning says, calling his 
new school together. This is the linguist that will find < tongues 
in trees,' and crowd out from the halls of learning the lore of 
ancient parchments with their verdant classics, their * truth in 
beauty dyed.' This is the teacher with whose new alphabet 
you can find < sermons in stones, books in the running brooks/ 
and good,— good— his 'good,' the good of the Xew School, 
that broader 'good' in every thing. < The roof of this court is 
too high to be yours,' says the princess of this out-door scene 
to the sovereignty that claimed it then. 

This is « great Nature's' Poet and Interpreter, and he takes 
us always into ' the continent of nature '; but man is his chief 
end, and that island which his life makes in the universal 
being is the point to which that Naturalist brings home all his 
new collections. This is the Poet of the Woods, but mad- 
man at the summit of his arts, in the perfection of his refine- 
ments, is always the creature that he is « collecting' in them. 
In his wildest glades, this is still the species that he is busied 
with. He has brought him there to experiment on him, and 
that we may see the better what he is. He has brought him 
there to improve his arts, to reduce his conventional savage- 
ness, to re-refine his coarse refinements, not to make a wild- 
man of him. This is the Poet of the Woods; but he is a 
woodman, he carries an axe on his shoulder. He will wake a 
continental forest with it and subdue it, and fill it with his 


For this is the Poet who cries ' Westward Ho ! ' But he 
has not got into the woods yet in this play. He is only on 
the edge of them as yet. It is under the blue roof of that 
same dome which is < too high,' the princess here says, to be- 
long to the pigmy that this Philosopher likes so well to 


bring out and to measure under that canopy — it is ' out 
of doors' that this new speech on behalf of a new learn- 
ing is spoken. But there is a close rim of conventionalities 
about us still. It is a Park that this audacious proposal 
is uttered in. But nothing can be more orderly, for it is 
* a Park with a Palace in it.' There it is, in the back- 
ground. If it were the Attic proscenium itself hollowed into 
the south-east corner of the Acropolis, what more could one 
ask. But it is the palace of the King of — Navarre, who is 
the prince of good fellows and the prince of good learning at 
one and the same time, which makes, in this case, the novelty. 
' A Park with a Palace in it' makes the first scene. 'Another 
part of the same' with the pavilion of a princess and the tents 
of her Court seen in the distance, makes the second; and the 
change from one part of this park to another, though we get 
into the heart of it sometimes, is the utmost license that the 
rigours of the Greek Drama permit the Poet to think of at 
present. This criticism on the old learning, this audacious 
proposal for the new, with all the bold dramatic illustration 
with which it is enforced, must be managed here under these 
restrictions. Whatever ' persons ' the plot of this drama may 
require for its evolutions, whatever witnesses and reporters 
the trial and conviction of the old learning, and the definition 
of the ground of the new, may require, will have to be in- 
duced to cross this park at this particular time, because the 
form of the new art is not yet emancipated, and the Muse of 
the Inductive Science cannot stir from the spot to search 
them out. 

However, that does not impair the representation as it is 
managed. There is a very bold artist here already, with all 
his deference for the antique. We shall be sure to have all 
when he is the plotter. The action of this drama is not com- 
plicated. The persons of it are few; the characterization is 
feeble, compared with that of some of the later plays; but 
that does not hinder or limit the design, and it is all the more 
apparent for this artistic poverty, anatomically clear; while as 
yet that perfection of art in which all trace of the structure 


came so soon to be lost in the beauty of the illustration, is 
yet wanting; while as yet that art which made of its living 
instance an intenser life, or which made with its living art a 
life more living than life itself, was only germinating. 

The illustration here, indeed, approaches the allegorical form, 
in the obtrusive, untempered predominance of the qualities 
represented, so overdone as to wear the air of a caricature, 
though the historical combination is still here. These dia- 
grams are alive evidently; they are men, and not allegorical 
spectres, or toys, though they are * painted in character.* 

The entire representation of the extant learning is drama- 
tically produced on this stage; the germ of the * new ' is here 
also; and the unoccupied ground of it is marked out here as, 
in the Advancement of Learning, by the criticism on the 
deficiences of that which has the field. Here, too, the line of 
the extant culture, — the narrow indented boundary of the 
culture that professed to take all is always defining the new, — 
cutting out the wild not yet visited by the art of man; — only 
here the criticism is much more lively, because here ' we come 
to particulars,' a thing which the new philosophy much insists 
on; and though this want in learning, and the wildness it 
leaves, is that which makes tragedies in this method of ex- 
hibition ; it has its comical aspect also ; and this is the laughing 
and weeping philosopher in one who manages these repre- 
sentations; and in this case it is the comical aspect of the 
subject that is seized on. 

Our diagrams are still coarse here, but they have already 
the good scientific quality of exhausting the subject. It is 
the New School that occupies the centre of the piece. Their 
quarters are in that palace, but the king of it is the Royalty 
(Raleigh) that founded and endowed this School — that was one 
of his secret titles, — and under that name he may sometimes 
be recognized in descriptions and dedications that persons who 
were not in the secret of the School naturally applied in 
another quarter, or appropriated to themselves. l Rex was a 
surname among the Romans,' says the Interpreter of this 
School, in a very explanatory passage, 'as well as King is 


with us.' It is the New School that is under these boughs 
here, but hardly that as yet. 

It is rather the representation of the new classical learning, 
— the old learning newly revived, — in which the new is 
germinating. It is that learning in its first effect on the 
young, enthusiastic, but earnest practical English mind. It 
is that revival of the old learning, arrested, daguerreotyped 
at the moment in which the new begins to stir in it, in minds 
which are going to be the master-minds of ages. 

'Common sense' is the word here already. 'Common 
sense ' is the word that this new Academe is convulsed with 
when the curtain rises. And though it is laughter that you 
hear there now, sending its merry English peals through 
those musty, antique walls, as the first ray of that new beam 
enters them ; the muse of the new mysteries has also another 
mask, and if you will wait a little, you shall hear that tone 
too. Cries that the old mysteries never caught, lamentations 
for Adonis not heard before, griefs that Dionysus never knew, 
shall yet ring out from those walls. 

Under that classic dome which still calls itself Platonic, the 
questions and experiments of the new learning are beginning. 
These youths are here to represent the new philosophy, which 
is science, in the act of taking its first step. The subject is 
presented here in large masses. But this central group, at 
least, is composed of living men, and not dramatic shadows 
merely. There are good historical features peering through 
those masks a little. These youths are full of youthful 
enthusiasm, and aspiring to the ideal heights of learning in 
their enthusiasm. But already the practical bias of their 
genius betrays itself. They are making a practical experi- 
ment with the classics, and to their surprise do not find them 
' good for life.' 

Here is the School, then, — with the classics on trial in the 
persons of these new school-men. That is the central group. 
What more do we want? Here is the new and the old 
already. But this is the old revived — newly revived ; — this 
is the revival of learning in whose stimulus the new is begin- 


ning. There is something in the field besides that. There is 
a * school- master abroad' yet, that has not been examined. 
These young men who have resolved themselves in their secret 
sittings into a committee of the whole, are going to have him 
up. He will be obliged to come into this park here, and 
speak his speech in the ear of that English ' common sense,' 
which is meddling here, for the first time, in a comprehensive 
manner with things in general; he will have to ' speak out loud 
and plain/ that these English parents who are sitting here in 
the theatre, some of * the wiser sort ' of them, at least, may 
get some hint of what it is that this pedagogue is beating into 
their children's brains, taking so much of their glorious youth 
from them — that priceless wealth of nature which none can 
restore to them, — as the purchase. But this is not all. There 
is a man who teaches the grown-up children of the parish in 
which this Park is situated, who happens to live hard by, — 
a man who professes the care and cure of minds. He, too, 
has had a summons sent him; there will be no excuse taken; 
and his examination will proceed at the same time. These 
two will come into the Park together; and perhaps we shall 
not be able to detect any very marked difference in their 
modes of expressing themselves. They are two ordinary, 
quiet-looking personages enough. There is nothing remark- 
able in their appearance; their coming here is not forced. 
There are deer in this Park; and ' book-men' as they are, they 
have a taste for sport also it seems. Unless you should get a 
glimpse of the type, — of the unit in their faces — and that 
shadowy train that the cipher points to, — unless you should 
observe that their speech is somewhat strongly pronounced for 
an individual representation — merely glancing at them in 
passing — you would not, perhaps, suspect who they are. 
And yet the hints are not wanting; they are very thickly 
strewn, — the hints which tell you that in these two men all 
the extant learning, which is in places of trust and authority, 
is represented ; all that is not included in that elegant learning 
which those students are making sport of in those * golden 
books ' of theirs, under the trees here now. 


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 compre- 
hensive 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 Komance, with his ballads and alle- 
gories, — 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 lite- 
rature 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 learn- 
ing, 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 ob- 
serves. 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 phi- 
losophies 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 

King. How well he's read to reason against reading. 
is the inference here. 

JDumain. Proceeded well to stop all good proceeding. 


It is progress that is proposed here also. After trie survey of 
learning * has been well taken, then to make progression 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 wis- 
dom, 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, be- 
cause 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 em- 
barrassments 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, em- 
phasizing that hope with an allusion to the heights of learning, 
as he finds it, and the highest word of it, which seems irre- 
verent, 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 re- 
joinder 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 9 that ' gives us cause to climb in the 


merriment' that makes the subject of this essay. It is litera- 
ture 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 l 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 in- 
congruity. 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 com- 
pel, 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 over- 
hang 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 1 
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, un- 
reduced 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, un- 
broken 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 pro- 
perties 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 prin- 
cess, 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 acknow- 
ledged 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' — in- 
significant 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 representa- 
tion still, in another place. * All the world knows me in my 
book and my book in me, y cries the Egotist of the Mountain. 
It is the first Canto of that great Epic, whose argument runs 
through so many books, that is chaunted 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 f cap of youth,' who 
oppose lore to love, who ' war against their own affections and 


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 school- 
master, 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 philo- 
sophic 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 abstrac- 
tions, whose falseness and failure in practice this school is 
going to expose elsewhere; it is the defect of those abstrac- 
tions 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 
4 king and the beggar,' the actualities which the natural his- 
tory 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, c 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 contem- 
plation and doctrine. 1 The lowness of matter, all the capabili- 
ties 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 Kiddles. 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 spon- 
taneous rudeness of the ill-bred — any more than its doctrine of 
nature is the doctrine of the unlearned. The loftiest refine- 
ments 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 concep- 
tions 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 where 
it 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 
e very-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 wor- 
ship, 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 contem- 
plation, ' 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 

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 Kaleigh'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 melan- 
choly, 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 identi- 
fying him here. There was a method of dramatic compo- 
sition 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 Kaleigh's share in this ' cry of players ' shows 
through very palpably]. 

1 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 pre- 
posterous 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 

'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 f 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 1 to 
see. Why did he see? to overcome. To whom came he? to the 
beggar. What saw he 1 the beggar. Who overcame he ? the beggar. 
The conclusion is victory. On whose side ? etc. 

' Thine in the dearest design of industry.' 


[Dramatic comment.'] 

Boyet. 1 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. 

Holof ernes. [Speaking here, however, not in character but for 'the 
A cademe.'] 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 1 

Nath. Ay, Sir, and very learned [one would say so upon exami- 

Hoi. Let me have a staff, a stanza, a verse ; Lege Domine. 

Nath. [Eeads the 'verses.'] — ' If love make me forsworn,' etc. 

Hoi. 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 
poiDts 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 1 

Jaq. Ay, Sir, from one Monsieur Biron, one of the strange queen's 

Hoi. 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 Ar- 
mado's name or another's, when the point is not to ' miss the accent.'] 
1 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. 


JVatk. Sir, you have done this in the fear of God, very religiously ; 
and as a certain father saith — 

Hoi. 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. 

Hoi. 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 happi- 
ness of LIFE. 

Hoi. And, certes, the text most infallibly concludes it. — Siv, [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. 

Hoi. Satis quod safficit. 

Nath. I praise God for you, Sir : your reasons at dinner have been 
sharp and sententious ; pleasant without scurrility, witty without affec- 
tion, audacious without impudency, learned without opinion, and 
strange without heresy. I did converse this quondam day with a com- 
panion of the king's, who is intituled, nominated, or called Don Adriano 
de Armado. 

Hoi. Novi hominem tanquam te. His manner is lofty, his discourse 
peremptory, his tongue filed, his eye ambitious, and his general be- 
haviour, 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- 

Hoi. 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. Laus deo bone intelligo. 

Hoi. 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.'] 


Nath. Vide sue quis venit 1 

Hoi. Video et gaudeo. 

Arm. Chirra ! 

Eol. 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 pur- 
pose. 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 

Hoi. 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 anonfalleth like a crab on the face of terra — the soil, the 
land, the earth. [A-side glance at the heights and depths of the in- 
congruities which are the subject here.] 

Nath. Truly, Master Holofernes, the epithets are sweetly varied, like 
a scholar at the least, but, etc 

Hoi. 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, un- 
polished, uneducated, unpruned, untrained, or rather unlettered, or 
ratherest unconfirmed fashion, — to insert again my haud credo for a 
deer. . . . Twice sod simplicity, bis coctus! O 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 1 
(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. 

Bull. If a talent be a claw, look how he claws him with a talent. 

Hoi. This is a gift that I have ; simple, simple; a foolish extrava- 
gant 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 50 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 V — let me know. 
1 they have lived long in the alms-basket of WORDS,' is 
the criticism on this learning with which this showman, 
whoever he may be, 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. 1 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 in- 
tellect 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. 
1 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. 

like a book of sports thou 'It read me o'er, 
But there 's more in me than thou 'It 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 turrid and true filed lines, 

In each of which he seems to shake a lance. 

As brandished in the eyes of — [what ? — ] Ignorance ! 

Ben Jonson. 
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 Kaleigh's 
studies, the partner of his plans and toils for so many years, 
Harlot y 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 — l thus must I piece it out. 1 ] 

Shall Rome stand under one man's awe 1 What Eome % 

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 
Eoman foot upon their stage, and the long-stifled, and pent-up 
speech of English freedom, bursting from the old Eoman 
patriot's lips. 

Cassius. And let us swear our resolution. 

Brutus. JVb, 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 lie 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 / know this, know all the world beside. 
That part of tyranny that / 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 1 

Polonius. That did I, my lord ; and was accounted a good actor. 

Hamlet. And what did you enact 1 

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 1 

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 un- 

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 /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, excel- 
lent 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. 











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. 



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. 

rpHE 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 con- 
dition 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 prin- 
cipal and nobler fields, will hardly need to be told that if pro- 
duced 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 com- 
posed 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 
1 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 convey- 
ing 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 deve- 
lopments, — 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 under- 
stood in his own time to have found occasion for the use of 
such an art, in his oral as well as in his written communica- 
tions 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 per- 
sons 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 cotemporary 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/ 

B 2 


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 splen- 
dour 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 neces- 
sarily o°bscured 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 pub- 


lication 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 scien- 
tific 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 attrac- 
tions 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 through- 
out 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 ca- 


price 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 ex- 
plorer 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 phe- 
nomenon 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 atten- 
tion 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 pur- 
pose 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 some- 
times, 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 colla- 
teral 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 ima- 
gine 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 abso- 
lutely identical with those of the principal writers of this 

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. 1 

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 
1 delicate sound • with it, to those who have met this au- 
thor 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 * alle- 
gations on this subject/ which the author assumes, or appears 
to assume, in his own person. 

' 1 write my book for few men, and for few years. Had it 
been matter of duration, I should have put it into a better lan- 
guage. 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 lan- 
guage 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 


common reader.' But that the inner reading of these pri- 
vate 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 wbich ' 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/ 

1 So our virtues 
Lie in the interpretation of the times,' 

says the unfortunate Tullus Aufldius, in the act of conducting 
a Volscian army against the infant Eoman 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 repu- 
tation, could he have spoken when he was dying, and fore- 
stalling that criticism which he foresaw — that odious criticism 
of posterity on the discrepancy between his life and his judg- 
ment — ' Now as much as decency permits, I here discover 
my inclinations and affections. If any observe, he will find 
that / 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 pru- 
dence 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 gameV 


' There needs no more but to Bee 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 ? 

Mos. 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 super- 
natural], if philosophy could find it out. 

f 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. 1 ' I will not do Y 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. 

1 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 in- 
timations 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 de- 
termine 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 judg- 


rnent, that they are permitted to govern them at their dis- 
cretion, 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 superla- 
tive and divine difference which the doctrine of a divine 
right to rule naturally presupposes. ' For/ he says, f 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 judg- 
ment 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. 
4 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 accom- 
panied 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 com- 
mon 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 philo- 
sophical 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 subtle- 
ties which tyrannies — such tyrannies — at least generate; and 
under this cover it is, that he can venture now on those as- 
tounding 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 dis- 
cussion, 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 ex- 
tremes 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 convul- 
sions, 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 recog- 
nized and treated throughout with the hand of the new master. 
For this is a philosopher, who is able to receive into his philoso- 
phy 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 predomi- 
nance 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 polities of antiquity as totally unfit for prac- 
tical 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 intro- 
duced 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. 


1 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 — 
1 that which tempts me out on these journeys, is unsuitableness 
to the present manners of OUR STATE. J 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 slate, that 
in earnest His 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 alto- 
gether 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 

* 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 inno- 
vation; 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. 1 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 coun- 
sels), 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 Eng- 
land, 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.' * 

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 impa- 
tient 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 dis- 
charge 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 

* 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. 

Gh, he's a limb that has but a disease ; 

Mortal to cut it off ; to cure it, easy. 


him, falls short; for good does not necessarily succeed evil; 
another evil may succeed, and a worse, as it happened in Ccesars 
killers, who brought the republic to such a pass, that they had 
reason to repent their meddliny with it. 3 ' 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 

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, under- 
lying 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 dis- 
solved.' ■ 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 them- 
selves 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 ap- 
proaches 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 evi- 
dent 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 pro- 
found a view of so grave a subject, proceeds from one who has 
no aims, no plan, no learning, no memory; — a vain, fantas- 
tic 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 con- 
tradict 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 dis- 
cussion 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 ex- 
press 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 pre- 
senting 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 con- 
stantly present to the apprehension of the few, for whom he 
tells us his book — that is, this book within the book — is 

( 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 princi- 
ciples which he has exhibited in the abstract, in their common 
and universal form, elsewhere ; f 1 fear, in these reveries of 
mine, 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. Kepetition is every- 
where 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 al- 
ways to re-allege anew ;' that is, under the particular divisions of 
the subject, common and universal reasons. ' What T cannot ex- 
press 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 par- 
ticular, 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 strug- 
gling 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 

* For my part the very being tied to what I am to say, is 
enough to loose me from if — that is the cause of his wander- 
ing — *. 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 counte- 
nance, and have sometimes been very much put to it to conceal 
the slavery wherein I was bound, whereas my design is to mani- 
fest in speaking & 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 
shoiv that I came prepared to speak well; a thing especially un- 
becoming 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. y [Perhaps the reflecting 
scholar will recollect to have seen an instance of this magni- 
ficent 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 orution into three or four parts, it often hap- 
pened 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 con- 
spirator 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 appli- 
cation 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 ostenta- 
tiously 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, '/have always avoided 
falling into this inconvenience. Simpliciora militares decent. 1 
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 pur- 
sue his points with, some artifice, though he professes not to 
like it, may be necessary, and the rule which he here spe- 
cifies 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.' 

' Speaking/ he says in another place, ' hurts and discom- 
poses me, — my voice is loud and high, so that when I have 
gone to whisper some great person about an affair of conse- 
quence, they have often had to moderate my voice. This story 
deserves a place here. 

1 Some one in a certain Greek school was speaking loud as I 
do. The master of the ceremonies sent to him to speak lower. 
' Tell him then, he must send me,' replied the other, ' the tone 
he would have me speak in.' To which the other replied, 
' that he should take the tone from the ear of him to whom he 
spake.' It was well said, if it be understood. Speak accord- 
ing to the affair you are speaking about to the auditor, — 
(speak according to the business you have in hand, to the 
purpose you have to accomplish) — for if it mean, it is suffi- 
cient that he hears you, I do not find it reason/ It is a more 
artistic use of speech that he is proposing in his new science of 
it, for as Lord Bacon has it, who writes as we shall see on this 
same subject, * the proofs and persuasions of rhetoric ought to 
differ according to the auditors,' and the Arts of Rhetoric have 
for their legitimate end, ( not merely proof, but much more, 


IMPRESSION.' c For many forms are equal in signification which 
are differing in impression, as the difference is great in the 
piercing of that which is sharp, and that which is flat, though 
the strength of the percussion be the same ; for instance, there 
is no man but will be a little more raised, by hearing it said, 
' Your enemies will be glad of this,' than by hearing it said 
only, ' This is evil for you/ But it is thus that our Gascon 
proceeds, whose comment on his Greek story we have inter- 
rupted. ' There is a voice to flatter, there is a voice to instruct, 
and a voice to reprehend. I would not only have my voice to 
reach my hearer, but peradventure that it strike and pierce 
him. When I rate my footman in a sharp and bitter tone, 
it would be very fine for him to say, ' Pray master, speak 
lower, for I hear you very well/ Speaking is half his that 
speaks, and half his that hears; the last ought to prepare him- 
self to receive it, according to its motion, as with tennis 
players; he that receives the ball, shifts, draws back, and pre- 
pares himself to receive it, according as he sees him move, 
who strikes the stroke, and according to the stroke itself/ It 
is not, therefore, because this author has failed to furnish the 
rules of interpretation necessary for penetrating to the ultimate 
intention of this new kind of speaking, if all this affectation of 
simplicity, and all these absurd contradictory statements of his, 
have been suffered hitherto to pass unchallenged. It is the 
public mind he has to deal with. \ That which he adores in 
kings is the throng of their adorers? If he should take the 
public at once into his confidence, and tell them beforehand 
precisely what his own opinions were of things in general, if 
he should set before them in the outset the conclusions to 
which he proposed to drive them, he might indeed stand 
some chance to have his arguments interrupted, or changed 
with a magisterial authority; he would indeed find it ne- 
cessary to pursue his philosophical points with a dagger in 
his hand. 

And besides, this dogmatical mode of teaching does not 
appear to him to secure the ends of teaching. He wishes to 
rouse the human mind to activity, to compel it to think for 


itself, and put it on the inevitable road to his conclusions. 
He wishes the reader to strike out those conclusions for him- 
self, and fancy himself the discoverer if he will. So far from 
being simple and straightforward, his style is in the profoundest 
degree artistic, for the soul of all our modern art inspired it. 
He thinks it does no good for scholars to call out to the active 
world from the platform of their last conclusions. The truths 
which men receive from those didactic heights remain foreign 
to them. ' We want medicines to arouse the sense/ says Lord 
Bacon, who proposed exactly the method of teaching which 
this philosopher had, as it would seem, already adopted. ' 1 
bring a trumpet to awake his ear, to set his sense on the 
attentive bent, and then to speak/ says that poet who best put 
-this art in practice. 

But here it is the prose philosopher who would meet this 
dull, stupid, custom-bound public on its own ground. He 
would assume all its absurdities and contradictions in his own 
person, and permit men to despise, and marvel, and laugh at 
them in him without displeasure. For whoever will notice 
carefully, will perceive that the use of the personal pronoun 
here, is not the limited one of our ordinary speech. Such an 
one will find that this philosophical I is very broad; that it 
covers too much to be taken in its literal acceptation. Under 
this term, the term by which each man names himself, the 
common term of the individual humanity, he finds it conveni- 
ent to say many things. ( They that will fight custom with 
grammar? he says, ' are fools. When another tells me, or 
when I say to myself, This is a word of Gascon growth ; this a 
dangerous phrase; this is an ignorant discourse; thou art too 
full of figures ; this is a paradoxical saying ; this is a foolish 
expression : thou makest thyself merry sometimes, and men will 
think thou sayest a thing in good earnest, which thou only 
speakest in jest. Yes, say I; but I correct the faults of inad- 
vertence, not those of custom. I have done what I designed/ 
he says, in triumph. ' All the world knows ME in my book, 
and my book in me/ 

And thus, by describing human nature under that term, or 


by repeating and stating the common opinions as his own, he 
is enabled to create an opposition which could not exist, so 
long as they remain unconsciously operative, or infolded in 
the separate individuality, as a part of its own particular 

* My errors are sometimes natural and incorrigible,' he says; 
I but the good which virtuous men do to the public in making 
themselves imitated, /, perhaps, may do in making my manners 
avoided. While I publish and accuse my own imperfections, 
somebody will learn to be afraid of them. The parts that I 
most esteem in myself, are more honoured in decrying than 
in commending my own manners. Pausanias tells us of an 
ancient player upon the lyre, who used to make his scholars 
go to hear one that lived over against him, and played very 
ill, that they might learn to hate his discords and false 
measures. The present time is fitting to reform us backward, 
more by dissenting than agreeing ; by differing than consent- 
ing.' That is his application of his previous confession. And 
it is this present time that he impersonates, holding the mirror 
up to nature, and provoking opposition and criticism for that 
which was before buried in the unconsciousness of a common 
absurdity, or a common wrong. ' Profiting little by good ex- 
amples, I endeavour to render myself as agreeable as I see 
others offensive; as constant as I see others fickle; as good as 
I see others evil/ 

* There is no fancy so frivolous and extravagant that does 
not seem to me a suitable product of the human mind. All 
such whimsies as are in use amongst us, deserve at least to be 
hearkened to; for my part, they only with me import inanity, 
but they import that. Moreover, vulgar and casual opinions are 
something more than nothing in nature. 

1 If I converse with a man of mind, and no flincher, who 
presses hard upon me, right and left, his imagination raises up 
mine. The contradictons of judgments do neither offend nor 
alter, they only rouse and exercise me. I could suffer myself 
to be rudely handled by my friends. ■ Thou art a fool ; thou 
knowest not what thou art talking about.' When any one 


contradicts me, lie raises my attention, not my anger. I ad- 
vance towards him that contradicts, as to one that instructs 
me. I embrace and caress truth, in what hand soever I find it, 
and cheerfully surrender myself, and extend to it my conquered 
arms ; and take a pleasure in being reproved, and accommodate 
myself to my accusers [aside] (very often more by reason of 
civility than amendment); loving to gratify the liberty of ad- 
monition, by my facility of submitting to it, at my own 
expense. Nevertheless, it is hard to bring the men of my 
time to it. They have not the courage to correct, because they 
have not the courage to be corrected, and speak always with 
dissimulation in the presence of one another. 1 take so great 
pleasure in being judged and known, that it is almost indiffer- 
ent to me in which of THE TWO FORMS I am so. My imagi- 
nation does so often contradict and condemn itself, that it is 
all one to me if another do it. The study of books is a languish- 
ing, feeble motion, that heats not, whereas conversation 
teaches and exercises at once.' But what if a book could be 
constructed on a new principle, so as to produce the effect of 
conference — of the noblest kind of conference — so as to rouse 
the stupid, lethargic mind to a truly human activity — so as to 
bring out the common, human form, in all its latent actuality, 
from the eccentricities of the individual varieties? Something 
of that kind appears to be attempted here. 

He cannot too often charge the attentive reader, however, 
that his arguments require examination. * In conferences,' he 
says, ' it is a rule that every word that seems to be good, is not 
immediately to be accepted. One must try it on all points, to 
see how it is lodged in the author : [perhaps he is not in earnest] 
for one must not always presently yield what truth or beauty 
soever seem to be in the argument/ A little delay, and op- 
position, the necessity of hunting, or fighting, for it, will 
only make it the more esteemed in the end. In such a style, 
' either the author must stoutly oppose it [that is, whatsoever 
beauty or truth is to be the end of the argument in order 
to challenge the reader] or draw back, under colour of not 
understanding it, [and so piquing the reader into a pursuit of 


it] or, sometimes, perhaps, he may aid the point, and carry- 
it beyond its proper reach [and so forcing the reader to correct 
him. This whole work is constructed on this principle] . As 
when I contend with a vigorous man, I please myself with 
anticipating his conclusions; I ease him of the trouble of 
explaining himself; I strive to prevent his imagination, whilst 
it is yet springing and imperfect; the order and pertinency 
of his understanding warns and threatens me afar off. But as 
to these, — and the sequel explains this relative, for it has no 
antecedent in the text — as to these, I deal quite contrary 
with them. I must understand and presuppose nothing but by 

them Now, if you come to explain anything to them and 

confirm them (these readers), they presently catch at it, and 
rob you of the advantage of your interpretation. ' It was 
what I was about to say; it was just my thought, and if I did 
not express it so, it was only for want of language. Very 
pretty ! Malice itself must be employed to correct this proud 
ignorance — 'tis injustice and inhumanity to relieve and set 
him right who stands in no need of it, and is the worse for 
it. I love to let him step deeper into the mire," — [luring 
him on with his own confessions, and with my assumptions 
of his case] ' and so deep that if it be possible, they may at 
least discern their error. Folly and absurdity are NOT 
TO be cured by bare admonition. What Cyrus an- 
swered him who importuned him to harangue his army upon 
the point of battle, ' that men do not become valiant and 
warlike on a sudden, by a fine oration, no more than a man 
becomes a good musician by hearing a fine song/ may properly 
be said of such an admonition as this;' or, as Lord Bacon has 
it, ' It were a strange speech, which spoken, or spoken oft, 
should reclaim a man from a vice to which he is by nature 
subject; it is order, pursuit, sequence, and interchange of applica- 
tion, which is mighty in nature.' But the other continues : — 
' These are apprenticeships that are to be served beforehand 
by a long continued education. We owe this care and this 
assiduity of correction and instruction to our own, [that is 
the school,] but to go to preach to the first passer-by, and to 


lord it over the ignorance and folly of the first we meet, is a 
thing that I abhor. I rarely do it, even in my own particular 
conferences, and rather surrender my cause, than proceed to 
these supercilious and magisterial instructions/ The clue to 
the reading of his inner book. This is what Lord Bacon also 
condemns, as the magisterial method, — ' My humour is unfit, 
either to speak or write for beginners-,' he will not shock or 
bewilder them by forcing on them prematurely the last 
conclusions of science; ( but as to things that are said in com- 
mon discourse or amongst other things, I never oppose them 
either by word or sign, how false or absurd soever.' 

1 Let none even doubt,' says the author of the Novum Or- 
ganum, who thought it wisest to steer clear even of doubt on 
such a point, ' whether we are anxious to destroy and demolish 
the philosophical arts and sciences which are now in use. On the 
contrary, we readily cherish their practice, cultivation, and 
honour; for we by no means interfere to prevent the prevalent 
system from encouraging discussion, adorning discourses, or 
being employed serviceably in the chair of the Professor, or 
the practice of common life, and being taken in short, by 
general consent, as current coin. Nay, we plainly declare that 
the system we offer will not be very suitable for such purposes, 
not being easily adapted to vulgar apprehension except by 
EFFECTS AND WORKS. To show our sincerity [hear] in pro- 
fessing our regard and friendly disposition towards the received 
sciences, we can refer to the evidence of our published writings, 
especially our books on — the Advancement — [the Advance- 
ment] of Learning ! And the reader who can afford time for 
e a second cogitation/ the second cogitation which a super- 
ficial and interior meaning, of course, requires, with the aid 
of the key of times, will find much light on that point, here 
and there, in the works referred to, and especially in those 
parts of them in which the scientific use of popular terms is 
treated. ' We will not, therefore,' he continues, ' endeavour 
to evince it (our sincerity) any further by words, but content 

ourselves with steadily, etc., professedly premising 

that no great progress can be made by the present methods 


in the theory and contemplation of science, and that they 
can not be made to produce any very abundant effects? This 
is the proof of his sincerity in professing his regard and 
friendly disposition towards them, to be taken in connection 
with his works on the Advancement of Learning, and no 
doubt it was sincere, and just to that extent to which these 
statements, and the practice which was connected with them, 
would seem to indicate; but the careful reader will perceive 
that it was a regard, and friendliness of disposition, which 
was naturally qualified by that doubly significant fact* last 

But the question of style is still under discussion here, and 
no wonder that with such views of the value of the ' current 
coin/ and with a regard and reverence for the received 
sciences so deeply qualified; or, as the other has it, with a 
humour so unfit either to speak or write for beginners, a style 
which admitted of other efficacies than bare proofs, should 
appear to be demanded for popular purposes, or for beginners. 
And no wonder that with views so similar on this first and so 
radical point, these two. men should have hit upon the same 
method in Rhetoric exactly, though it was then wholly new. 
But our Gascon goes on to describe its freedoms and 
novelties, its imitations of the living conference, its new 

{ May we not,' says the successful experimenter in this very 
style, ' mix with the subject of conversation and communication, 
the quick and sharp repartees which mirth and familiarity 
introduce amongst friends pleasantly and wittingly jesting with 
one another; an exercise for which my natural gaiety renders 
me fit enough, if it be not so extended and serious as the other 
I just spoke of, 'tis no less smart and ingenious, nor of less 
utility as Lycurgus thought. 1 




Here's neither bush nor shrub to bear off any weather at all, 
and another storm brewing. I hear it sing in the wind. My 
best way is to creep under his gaberdine ; there is no other 
shelter hereabout : Misery acquaints a man with strange bed- 
fellows. I will here shroud, till the dregs of the storm be 
past. — Tempest. 

HERE then, in the passages already quoted, we find the plan 
and theory — the premeditated form of a new kind of So- 
cratic performance ; and this whole work, as well as some others 
composed in this age, make the realization of it; an inven- 
tion which proposes to substitute for the languishing feeble 
motion which is involved in the study of books — the kind 
of books which this author found invented when he came — 
for the passive, sluggish receptivity of another's thought, 
the living glow of pursuit and discovery, the flash of self- 

It is a Socratic dialogue, indeed ; but it waits for the reader's 
eye to open it ; he is himself the principal interlocutor in it ; 
there can be nothing done till he comes in. Whatsoever beauty 
or truth maybe in the argument; whatsoever jokes and re- 
partees ; whatsoever infinite audacities of mirth may be hidden 
under that grave cover, are not going to shine out for any 
lazy book-worm's pleasure. He that will not work, neither 
shall he eat of this food. ' Up to the mountains, for this is 
hunters language, c and he that strikes the venison first shall be 
lord of this feast.' It is an invention whereby the author will 


remedy for himself the complaint, that life is short, and art is 
long; whereby he will f outstretch his span/ and make over, 
not his learning only but his living to the future ; — it is an in- 
strumentality by which he will still maintain living relations 
with the minds of men, by which he will put himself into the 
most intimate relations of sympathy, and confidence, and 
friendship, with the mind of the few; by which he will re- 
produce his purposes and his faculties in them, and train them 
to take up in their turn that thread of knowledges which is to 
be spun on. 

But if this design be buried so deeply, is it not lost then? 
If all the absurd and contradictory developments — if all the 
mad inconsistencies — all the many-sided contradictory views, 
which are possible to human nature on all the questions of 
human life, which this single personal pronoun was made to 
represent, in the profoundly philosophic design of the author, 
are still culled out by learned critics, and made to serve as the 
material of a grave, though it is lamented, somewhat egotisti- 
cal biography, is not all this ingenuity, which has success- 
fully evaded thus far not the careless reader only, but the 
scrutiny of the scholar, and the sharp eye of the reviewer 
himself, is it not an ingenuity which serves after all to little 
purpose, which indeed defeats its own design? No, by no 
means. That disguise which was at first a necessity, has be- 
come the instrument of his power. It is that broad / of his, 
that I myself, with which he still takes all the world ; it is 
that single, many-sided, vivacious, historical impersonation, 
that ideal impersonation of the individual human nature as it 
is — not as it should be — with all its ' weaved-up follies ravelled 
out,' with all its before unconfessed actualities, its infinite ab- 
surdities and contradictions, so boldly pronounced and assumed 
by one laying claim to an historical existence, it is this his- 
torical assumption and pronunciation of all the before unspoken, 
unspeakable facts of this unexplored department of natural 
history, it is this apparent confession with which this ma- 
gician entangles his victims, as he tells us in a passage already 
quoted, and leads them on through that objective representa- 


tion of their follies in which they may learn to hate them, to 
that globe mirror— that mirror of the age which he boasts to 
have hung up here, when he says, ' I have done what I de- 
signed : all the world knows me in my book, and my book in me.* 

Who shall say that it is yet time to strip him of the disguise 
which he wears so effectively? With all his faults, and all 
his egotisms, who would not be sorry to see him taken to 
pieces, after all? And who shall quite assure us, that it would 
not still be treachery, even now, for those who have unwound 
his clues, and traversed his labyrinths to the heart of his mys- 
tery,— for those who have penetrated to the chamber of his 
inner school, to come .out and blab a secret with which he still 
works so potently; insensibly to those on whom he works, 
perhaps, yet so potently? But there is no harm done. It 
will still take the right reader to find his way through these 
new devices in letters; these new and vivacious proofs of learn- 
ing; for him, and for none other, they lurk there still. 

To evade political restrictions, and to meet the popular 
mind on its own ground, was the double purpose of the dis- 
guise ; but it is a disguise which will only detect, and not baffle, 
the mind that is able to identify itself with his, and able to 
grasp his purposes; it is a disguise which will only detect the 
mind that knows him, and his purposes already. The enig- 
matical form of the inculcation is the device whereby that 
mind will be compelled to follow his track, to think for itself 
his thoughts again, to possess itself of the inmost secret of his 
intention; for it is a school in whose enigmatical devices the 
mind of the future was to be caught, in whose subtle exercises 
the child of the future was to be trained to an identity that 
should restore the master to his work again, and bring forth 
anew, in a better hour, his clogged and buried genius. 

But, if the fact that a new and more vivid kind of writing, 
issuing from the heart of the new philosophy of things, designed 
to work new and extraordinary effects by means of literary 
instrumentalities,— effects hitherto reserved for other modes 
of impression, — if the fact, that a new and infinitely artistic 
mode of writing, burying the secrets of philosophy in the most 


careless forms of the vulgar and popular discourse, did, in this 
instance at least, exist; if this be proved, it will suffice for our 
present purpose. What else remains to be established con- 
cerning points incidentally started here, will be found more 
pertinent to another stage of this enquiry. 

From beginning to end, the whole work might be quoted, 
page by page, in proof of this ; but after the passages already 
produced here, there would seem to be no necessity for accu- 
mulating any further evidence on this point. A passage or 
two more, at least, will suffice to put that beyond question. 
The extracts which follow, in connection with those already 
given, will serve, at least, to remove any rational doubt on 
that point, and on some others, too, perhaps. 

' But whatever I deliver myself to be, provided it be such 
as I really am, T have my end ; neither will I make any ex- 
cuse for committing to paper such mean and frivolous things 
as these; the meanness of the subject compels me to it.' — 
1 Human reason is a two-edged and a dangerous sword. Observe, 
in the hand of Socrates, her most intimate and familiar friend, 
how many points it has. Thus, I am good for nothing but to 
follow, and suffer myself to be easily carried away with the 
crowd.' — ' 1 have this opinion of these political controversies : 
Be on what side you will, you have as fair a game to play as 
your adversary, provided you do not proceed so far as to 
jostle principles that are too manifest to be disputed; and yet, 
'tis my notion, in public affairs [hear], there is no government so 
ill, provided it be ancient, and has been constant, that is not 
better than change and alteration. Our manners are infinitely 
corrupted, and wonderfully incline to grow worse : of our laws 
and customs, there are many that are barbarous and monstrous : 
nevertheless, by reason of the difficulty of reformation, and the 
danger of stirring things, if 1 could put something under to stay 
the wheel, and keep it where it is, / would do so with all my 
heart. It is very easy to beget in a people a contempt of its 
ancient observances ; never any man undertook, but he succeeded; 
but to establish a better regimen in the stead of that a man has 
overthrown, many who have attempted this have foundered in the 



attempt. I very little consult my prudence [philosophic' pru- 
dence'] in my conduct. I am willing to let it be guided by 

public rule. ,, , 1 

'In fine, to return to myself, the only things by which 1 
esteem myself to be something, is that wherein never any man 
thought himself to be defective. My recommendation is vulgar 
and common; for whoever thought he wanted sense. It would 
be a proposition that would imply a contradiction m itself ; |m 
such subtleties thickly studding this popular work, the clues 
which link it with other works of this kind are found — the 
clues to a new practical human philosophy.-] ' Tis a disease that 
never is where it is discerned; 'tis tenacious and strong; but 
the first ray of the patient's sight does nevertheless pierce it 
through and disperse it, as the beams of the sun do a thick 
mist: to accuse ones self, would be to excuse ones self ^ this 
case; and to condemn, to absolve. There never was porter or 
silly girl, that did not think they had sense enough for their 
need The reasons that proceed from the natural arguing of 
others, we think that if we had turned our thoughts that way, 
we should ourselves have found it out as well as they. Know- 
ledge, style, and such parts as we see in other works we are 
readily aware if they excel our own; but for the simple pro- 
ducts of the understanding, every one thinks he could have 
found out the like, and is hardly sensible of the weight and 
difficulty, unless - and then with much ado -in an extreme 
and incomparable distance; and whoever should be able clearly 
to discern the height of another's judgment, would be also able 
to raise his own to the same pitch; so that this is a sort oi 
exercise, from which a man is to expect very little praise, a 
kind of composition of small repute. And, besides, for whom do 
you writer— for he is merely meeting this common sense. His 
object is merely to make his reader confess, 'That was just 
what I was about to say, it was just my thought; and if 1 did 
not express it so, it was only for want of language; - lor 
whom do you write? The learned, to whom the authority 
appertains of judging books, know no other value but that oi 
learning, and allow of no other process of wit but that ot eru- 




dition and art. If you have mistaken one of the Scipios for 
another, what is all the rest you have to say worth? Who- 
ever is ignorant of Aristotle, according to their rule, is in 
some sort ignorant of himself. Heavy and vulgar souls can- 
not discern the grace of a high and unfettered style. Now 
these two sorts of men make the world. The third sort, 
into whose hands you fall, of souls that are regular, and 
strong of themselves, is so rare, that it justly has neither name 
nor place amongst us, and it is pretty well time lost to aspire 
to it, or to endeavour to please it.' He will not content him- 
self with pleasing the few. He wishes to move the world, 
and its approbation is a secondary question with him. 

'He that should record my idle talk, to the prejudice of the most 
paltry law, opinion, or custom of his parish, would do himself 
a great deal of wrong, and me too; for, in what I say, I war- 
rant no other certainty, but 'tis what I had then in my thought, 
a thought tumultuous and wavering. [' I have nothing with 
this answer, Hamlet/ says the offended king. ( These words 
are not mine.' Hamlet: 'Nor mine now''] All I say is by 
way of discourse. I should not speak so boldly, if it were my 
due to-be believed, and so I told a great man, who complained 
to me of the tartness and contention of my advice' And, indeed, 
he would not, in this instance, that is very certain; — for he 
has been speaking on the subject of religious TOLERATION, 
and among other remarks, somewhat too far in advance of 
his time, he has let fall, by chance, such passages as these, 
which, of course, he stands ready to recall again in case any 
one is offended. ('These words are not mine, Hamlet.' ' Nor 
mine now.') ' To kill men, a clear and shining light is re- 
quired, and our life is too real and essential, to warrant these 
supernatural and fantastic accidents.' ' After all 'tis setting a 
man's conjectures at a very high price to cause a man to be 
roasted alive upon them.' He does not look up at all, after 
making this accidental remark; for he is too much occupied 
with a very curious story, which happens to come into his head 
at that moment, of certain men, who being more profoundly 
asleep than men usually are, became, according to certain grave 



authorities, what in their dreams they fancied they were; and 
having mentioned one case sufficiently ludicrous to remove 
any unpleasant sensation or inquiry which his preceding allu- 
sion might have occasioned, he resumes, ' If dreams can some- 
times so incorporate themselves with effects of life, I cannot 
believe that therefore our will should be accountable to justice. 
Which I say, as a man, who am neither judge nor privy coun- 
sellor, nor think myself, by many degrees, worthy so to be, 
but a man of the common sort, born and vowed to the obedience 
of the public realm, both in words and acts. 

< Thought is free ; — thought is free.' 


1 Perceiving you to be ready and prepared on one part, I pro- 
pose to you on the other, with all the care I can, to clear 
your judgment, not to enforce it. Truly, / have not only a 
great many humours, but also a great many opinions [which I 
bring forward here, and assume as mine] that I would endeavour 
to make my son dislike, if I had one. The truest, are not 
always the most commodious to man ; he is of too wild a 
composition. ' We speak of all things by precept and. resolu- 
tion,' he continues, returning again to this covert question 
of toleration, and Lord Bacon complains also that that is the 
method in his meridian. They make me hate things that 
are likely, when they impose them on me for infallible. 
'Wonder is the foundation of all philosophy' — (or, as Lord 
Bacon expresses it, ' wonder is the seed of knowledge')— en- 
quiry the progress — ignorance the end. Ay, but there is 
a sort of ignorance, strong and generous, that yields nothing in 
honour and courage to knowledge, a knowledge, which to con- 
ceive, requires no less knowledge than knowledge itself.' 

* I saw, in my younger days, a report of a process that Corras, 
a counsellor of Thoulouse, put in print.'— [The vainT egotistical, 
incoherent, rambling old Frenchman, the old Roman Catholic 
French gentleman, who is understood to be the author of this 
new experiment in letters, was not far from being a middle- 
ao-ed man, when the pamphlet which he here alludes to was 



first published ; but bis chronology, generally, does not bear a 
very close examination. Some very extraordinary anachronisms, 
which the critics are totally at a loss to account for, have some- 
how slipped into his story. There was a young philosopher in 
France in those days, of a most precocious, and subtle, and in- 
ventive genius — of a most singularly artistic genius, combining 
speculation and practice, as they had never been combined 
before, and already busying himself with all sorts of things, 
and among other things, with curious researches in regard to 
ciphers, and other questions not less interesting at that time; 
— there was a youth in France, whose family name was also 
English, living there with his eyes wide open, a youth who had 
found occasion to invent a cipher of his own even then, into 
whose hands that publication might well have fallen on its first 
appearance, and one on whose mind it might very naturally 
have made the impression here recorded. But let us return 
to the story.] — l l saw in my younger days, a report of 
a process, that Corras, a counsellor of Thoulouse, put in print, 
of a strange accident of two men, who presented themselves the one 
for the other. I remember, and I hardly remember anything 
else, that he seemed to have rendered the imposture of him 
whom he judged to be guilty, so wonderful, and so far exceeding 
both our knowledge and his who was the judge, that / thought it a 
very bold sentence that condemned him to be hanged. [That is the 
point]. Let us take up SOME form of arrest, that shall 
say, the court understands nothing of the matter, more freely 
and ingenuously than the Areopagites did, who ordered the 
parties to appear again in a hundred years. 1 We must not for- 
get that these stories 'are not regarded by the author merely 
for the use he makes of them, — that they carry, besides what 
he applies them to, the seeds of a richer and bolder matter, 
and sometjmes collaterally a more delicate sound, both to the 
author himself who declines saying anything more about it in 
that place, and to others who shall happen to be of his ear V One 
already prepared by previous discovery of the method of com- 
munication here indicated, and by voluminous readings in it, to 
understand that appeal, begs leave to direct the attention of 


the critical reader to the delicate collateral sounds in the 
story last quoted. 

It is not irrelevant to notice that this story is introduced to 
the attention of the reader, ( who will, perhaps, see farther into 
it than others/ in that chapter on toleration in which it is 
suggested that considering the fantastic, and unscientific, and 
unsettled character of the human beliefs and opinions, and that 
even * the Fathers' have suggested in their speculations on the 
nature of human life, that what men believed themselves 
to be, in their dreams, they really became, it is after all setting 
a man's conjectures at a very high price to cause a man to be 
roasted alive on them ; the chapter in which it is intimated 
that considering the natural human liability to error, a little 
more room for correction of blunders, a little larger chance of 
arriving at the common truth, a little more chance for growth 
and advancement in learning, would, perhaps, on the whole, 
be likely to conduce to the human welfare, instead of sealing up 
the human advancement for ever, with axe and cord and stake 
and rack, within the limits of doctrines which may have been, 
perhaps, the very wisest, the most learned, of which the world 
was capable, at the time when their form was determined. It 
is the chapter which he calls fancifully, a chapter ' on cripples,' 
into which this odd story about the two men who presented 
themselves, the one for the other, in a manner ^0 remarkable, 
is introduced, for lameness is always this author's grievance, 
wherever we find him, and he is driven to all sorts of devices 
to overcome it ; for he is the person who came prepared to 
speak well, and who hates that sort of speaking, where a man 
reads his speech, because he is one who could naturally give 
it a grace by action, or as another has it, he is one who would 
suit the action to the word. 

But it was not the question of 'hanging' only, $r ( roasting 
alive/ that authors had to consider with themselves in these 
times. For those forms of literary production which an author's 
literary taste, or his desire to reach and move and mould the 
people, might incline him to select — the most approved 
forms of popular literature, were in effect forbidden to men, 


bent, as these men were, on taking an active part in the 
affairs of their time. Any extraordinary reputation for excel- 
lence in these departments, would hardly have tended to 
promote the ambitious views of the young aspirant for honors 
in that school of statesmanship, in which the 'Fairy Queen' 
had been scornfully dismissed, as ' an old song.' Even that 
disposition to the gravest and profoundest forms of philoso- 
phical speculation, which one foolish young candidate for ad- 
vancement was indiscreet enough to exhibit prematurely there, 
was made use of so successfully to his disadvantage, that for 
years his practical abilities were held in suspicion on that very 
account, as he complains. The reputation of a Philosopher in 
those days was quite as much as this legal practitioner was 
willing to undertake for his part. That of a Poet might have 
proved still more uncomfortable, and more difficult to sustain. 
His claim to a place in the management of affairs would not 
have been advanced by it, in the eyes of those old statesmen, 
whose favour he had to propitiate. However, he was happily 
relieved from any suspicion of that sort. If those paraphrases 
of the Psalms for which he chose to make himself responsible,— 
if those Hebrew melodies of his did not do the business for 
him, and clear him effectually of any such suspicion in the 
eyes of that generation, it is difficult to say what would. But 
whether his devotional feelings were really of a kind to require 
any such painful expression as that on their own account, may 
reasonably be doubted by any one acquainted at all with his 
general habits of thought and sentiment. These lyrics of the 
philosopher appear on the whole to prove too much ; looked 
at from a literary point of view merely, they remind one for- 
cibly of the attempts of Mr. Silence at a Bacchanalian song. 
{ I have a reasonable good ear in music,' says the unfortunate 
Pyramus, struggling a little with that cerebral development 
and uncompromising facial angle which he finds imposed on 
him. ' I have a reasonable good ear in music : let us have the 
tongs and the bones.' 

1 A man must frame some probable cause, why he should not 
do his best, and why he should dissemble his abilities,' says 


this author, speaking of colour, or the covering of defects; and 
that the prejudice just referred to was not peculiar to the 
English court, the remarkable piece of dramatic criticism 
which we are about to produce from this old Gascon philoso- 
pher's pages, may or may not indicate, according as it is inter- 
preted. It serves as an introduction to the passage in which 
the author's double meaning, and the occasionally double sound 
of his stories is noted. In the preceding chapter, it should be 
remarked, however, the author has been discoursing in high 
strains, upon the vanity of popular applause, or of any applause 
but that of reason and conscience; sustaining himself with 
quotations from the Stoics, whose doctrines on this point he 
assumes as the precepts of a true and natural philosophy; 
and among others the following passage was quoted : — * 
1 Remember him who being asked why he took so much pains 
in an art that could come to the knowledge of but few per- 
sons, replied, ' A few are enough for me. I have enough with 
one, I have enough with never a one.' He said true ; yourself 
and a companion are theatre enough to one another, or you to 
yourself. Let us be to you the whole people, and the whole 
people to you but one. You should do like the beasts of chase 
who efface the track at the entrance into their den.' But this 
author's comprehensive design embraces all the oppositions in 
human nature; he thinks it of very little use to preach to 
men from the height of these lofty philosophic flights, unless 
you first dive down to the platform of their actualities, and by 
beginning with the secret of what they are, make sure that 
you take them with you. So then the latent human vanity, 
must needs be confessed, and instead of taking it all to himself 
this time, poor Cicero and Pliny are dragged up, the latter 
very unjustly, as the commentator complains, to stand the 
brunt of this philosophic shooting. 

' But this exceeds all meanness of spirit in persons of such 
quality as they were, to think to derive any glory from babbling 
and prating, even to the making use of their private letters to 

* Taken from an epistle of Seneca, but including a quotation from a 
letter of Epicurus,, on the same subject. 


their friends, ani so withal that though some of them were never 
sent , the opportunity being lost, they nevertheless published 
them ; with this worthy excuse, that they were unwilling to 
lose their labour, and have their lucubrations thrown away. — 
Was it not well becoming two consuls of Eome, sovereign 
magistrates of the republic, that commanded the world, to spend 
their time in patching up elegant missives, in order to gain 
the reputation of being well versed in their own mother tongue? 
What could a pitiful schoolmaster have done worse, who got 
his living by it? If the acts of Xenophon and Caesar had not 
far transcended their eloquence, I don't believe they would 
ever have taken the pains to write them. They made it their 
business to recommend not their saying, but their doing. The 
companions of Demosthenes in the embassy to Philip, extolling 
that prince as handsome, eloquent, and a stout drinker, De- 
mosthenes said that those were commendations more proper 
for a woman, an advocate, or a sponge. 'Tis not his prof ession 
to know either how to hunt, or to dance well. 

Orabunt causas alii, ccelique meatus 
Describent radio, et fulgentia sidera dicent, 
Hie regere imperio populos sc : at. 

Plutarch says, moreover, that to appear so excellent in these 
less necessary qualities, is to produce witness against a man's 
self, that he has spent his time and study ill, which ought to 
have been employed in the acquisition of more necessary and 
more useful things. Thus Philip, King of Macedon, having 
heard the great Alexander, his son, sing at a feast to the wonder 
and envy of the best musicians there. ' Art thou not ashamed,' 
he said to him, * to sing so well?' And to the same Philip, a 
musician with whom he was disputing about something con- 
cerning his art, said, ' Heaven forbid, sir, that so great a mis- 
fortune should ever befall you as to understand these things better 
than I. Perhaps this author might have made a similar reply, 
had his been subjected to a similar criticism. And Lord 
Bacon quotes this story too, as he does many others, which 
this author has first selected, and for the same purpose; for, not 
content with appropriating his philosophy, and pretending to 


invent his design and his method, he borrows all his most sig- 
nificant stories from him, and brings them in to illustrate the 
same points, and the points are borrowed also: he makes use, 
indeed, of his common-place book throughout in the most 
shameless and unconscionable manner. 'Rack his style, 
Madam, rack his style,' he said to Queen Elizabeth, as he tells 
us, when she consulted him— he being then of her counsel 
learned, in the case of Dr. Hayward, charged with having 
written < the book of the deposing of Richard the Second, and 
the coming in of Henry the Fourth/ and sent to the Tower 
for that offence. The queen was eager for a different kind of 
advice. Racking an author's book did not appear to her 
coarse sensibilities, perfectly unconscious of the delicacy of an 
author's susceptibilities, a process in itself sufficiently murderous 
to satisfy her revenge. There must be some flesh and blood 
in the business before ever she could understand it. She 
wanted to have ' the question' put to that gentleman as to his 
meaning in the obscure passages in that work under the most 
impressive circumstances; and Mr. Bacon, himself an author, 
being of her counsel learned, was requested to make out a case of 
treason for her; and wishes from such a source were understood 
to be commands in those days. Now it happened that one of 
the managers and actors at the Globe Theatre, who was at 
that time sustaining, as it would seem, the most extraordinary 
relations of intimacy and friendship with the friends and 
patrons of this same person, then figuring as the queen's ad- 
viser, had recently composed a tragedy on this very subject; 
though that gentleman, more cautious than Dr. Hayward, and 
having, perhaps, some learned counsel also, had taken the pre- 
caution to keep back the scene of the deposing of royalty 
during the life-time of this sharp-witted queen, reserving its 
publication for the reign of her erudite successor; and the 
learned counsel in this case being aware of the fact, may have 
felt some sympathy with this misguided author. ' No, 
madam/ he replied to her inquiry, thinking to take off her 
bitterness with a merry conceit, as he says, ' for treason I can 
not deliver opinion that there is any, but very much felony/ 


The queen apprehending it gladly, asked, 'How?' and 
'■ wherein ?' Mr. Bacon answered, ' Because he had stolen 
many of his sentences and conceits out of Cornelius Tacitus.' 
It would do one good to see, perhaps, how many felonious 
appropriations of sentences, and quotations, and ideas, the 
application he recommends would bring to light in this case. 

But the instances already quoted are not the only ones 
which this free spoken foreign writer, this Elizabethan genius 
abroad, ventures to adduce in support of this position of his, 
that statesmen — men who aspire to the administration of re- 
publics or other forms of government— if they cannot consent 
on that account to relinquish altogether the company of the 
Muses, must at least so far respect the prevailing opinion on 
that point, as to be able to sacrifice to it the proudest literary 
honours. Will the. .reader be pleased to notice, not merely 
the extraordinary character of the example in this instance, 
but the grounds of the assumption which the critic makes with 
so much coolness. 

f And could the perfection of eloquence have added any 
lustre proportionable to the merit of a great person, certainly 
Scipio and Lselius had never resigned the honour of their 
comedies, with all the luxuriancies and delicacies of the Latin 
tongue, to an African slave, for that the work was THEIKS its 
beauty and excellency sufficiently prove:* besides Te- 
rence himself confesses as much, and / should take it ill in 
any one that would dispossess me of that belief. 1 For, as he says 
in another place, in a certain deeply disguised dedication which 
he makes of the work of a friend, a poet, whose early death 
he greatly lamented, and whom he is ' determined/ as he says, 
' to revive and raise again to life if he can: 'As we often judge 
of the greater by the less, and as the very pastimes of great 
men give an honourable idea to the clear-sighted of the source 
from which they spring, I hope you will, by this work of his, 
rise to the knowledge of himself, and by consequence love and 

* This is from a book in which the supposed autograph of Shakspere 
is found ; a work from which he quotes incessantly, and from which he 
appears, indeed, to have taken the whole hint of his learning. 


embrace his memory. In so doing, you will accomplish what 
he exceedingly longed for whilst he lived.' But here he con- 
tinues thus, * I have, indeed, in my time known some, who, 
by a knack of writing, have got both title and fortune, yet 
disown their apprenticeship, purposely corrupt their style, and 
affect ignorance of so vulgar a quality (which also our nation 
observes, rarely to be seen in very learned hands), carefully seek- 
ing a reputation by better qualities/ 

I once did hold it, as our statists do, a baseness to write fair : 
but now it did me yeoman's service. — Hamlet. 

And it is in the next paragraph to this, that he takes occasion 
to mention that his stories and allegations do not always serve 
simply for example, authority, or ornament; that they are not 
limited in their application to the use he ostensibly makes of 
them, but that they carry, for those who are in his secret, other 
meanings, bolder and richer meanings, and sometimes collate- 
rally a more delicate sound. And having interrupted the con- 
sideration upon Cicero and Pliny, and their vanity and pitiful 
desire for honour in future ages, with this criticism on the 
limited sphere of statesmen in general, and the devices to 
which Ladius and Scipio were compelled to resort, in order to 
get their plays published without diminishing the lustre of 
their personal renown, and 'having stopped to insert that most 
extraordinary avowal in regard to his two-fold meanings in 
his allegations and stories, he returns to the subject of this 
correspondence again, for there is more in this also than meets 
the ear; and it is not Pliny, and Cicero only, whose supposed 
vanity, and regard for posthumous fame, as men of letters, is 
under consideration. ' But returning to the speaking virtue/ 
he says, ' I find no great choice between not knowing to speak 
anything but ill, and not knowing anything but speaking well. 
The sages tell us, that as to what concerns knowledge there is 
nothing but philosophy, and as to what concerns effects nothing 
but virtue, that is generally proper to all degrees and orders. 
There is something like this in these two other philosophers, 
for they also promise eternity to the letters they write to 
their friends, but 'tis after another manner, and by accommo- 


dating themselves for a good end to the vanity of another ; for 
they write to them that if the concern of making themselves 
known to future ages, and the thirst of glory, do yet detain 
them in the management of public affairs, and make them fear 
the solitude and retirement to which they would persuade 
them; let them never trouble themselves more about it, for- 
asmuch as they shall have credit enough with posterity to 
assure them that, were there nothing else but the letters thus 
writ to them, those letters will render their names as known 
and famous as their own public actions themselves could do. 
[And that — that is the key to the correspondence between two 
other philosophers enigmatically alluded to here.] And be- 
sides this difference,' for it is ' these two other philosophers/ 
and not Pliny and Cicero, and not Seneca and Epicurus alone, 
that we talk of here, ' and besides this difference, these are not 
idle and empty letters, that contain nothing but a fine jingle of 
well chosen words, and fine couched phrases; but replete and 
abounding with grave and learned discourses, by which a man 
may render himself — not more eloquent but more wise, and 
that instruct us not to speak but to do well 9 ; for that is the 
rhetorical theory that was adopted by the scholars and states- 
men then alive, whose methods of making themselves known 
to future ages he is indicating, even in these references to the 
ancients. L Away with that eloquence which so enchants us with 
its harmony that we should more study it than things' '; for 
this is the place where the quotation with which our investi- 
gation of this theory commenced is inserted in the text, and 
here it is, in the light of these preceding collections of hints 
that he puts in the story first quoted, wherein he says, the 
nature of the orator will be much more manifestly laid open 
to us, than in that seeming care for his fame, or in that care 
of his style, for its own sake. It is the story of Eros, the 
slave, who brought the speaker word that the audience was 
deferred, when in composing a speech that he was to make in 
public, 'he found himself straitened in time, to fit his words to 
his mouth as he had a mind to do.' 




Is the storm overblown? I hid me under the dead moon-calf's 
gaberdine for fear of the storm. — Tempest. 

TYUT as to this love of glory which the stoics, whom this 
*^ philosopher quotes so approvingly, have measured at its 
true worth ; as to this love of literary fame, this hankering 
after an earthly immortality, which he treats so scornfully in 
the Roman statesman, let us hear him again in another chap- 
ter, and see if we can find any thing whereby his nature and 
designs will more manifestly be laid open to us. ' Of all the 
foolish dreams in the world,' he says, ' that which is most 
universally received, is the solicitude of reputation and glory, 
which we are fond of to that degree as to abandon riches, 
peace, life, and health, which are effectual and substantial 
o-ood, to pursue this vain phantom. And of all the irrational 
humours of men, it should seem that the philosophers them- 
selves have the most ado, and do the least disengage themselves 
from this the most restive and obstinate of all the follies. 
There is not any one view of which reason does so clearly 
accuse the vanity, as that; but it is so deeply rooted in us, that 
I doubt whether any one ever clearly freed himself from it, or 
no. After you have said all, and believed all that has been 
said to its prejudice, it creates so intestine an inclination in 
opposition to your best arguments, that you have little power 
and firmness to resist it ; for (as Cicero says) even those who 
controvert it, would yet that the booh they write should appear 
before the world with their names in the title page, and seek 
to derive glory from seeming to despise it. All other things are 


communicable and fall into commerce; we lend our goods — 

[It irks me not that men my garments wear.] 
and stake our lives for the necessities and service of our 
friends; but to communicate one's honour, and to robe another 
with one's own glory, is very rarely seen. And yet we have 
some examples of that kind. Catulus Luctatius, in the 
Cymbrian war, having done all that in him lay to make his 
flying soldiers face about upon the enemy, ran himself at last 
away with the rest, and counterfeited the coward, to the end that 
his men might rather seem to follow their captain, than to fly 
from the enemy ;' and after several anecdotes full of that inner 
significance of which he speaks elsewhere, in which he ap- 
pears, but only appears, to lose sight of this question of literary 
honour, for they relate to military conflicts, he ventures to 
approach, somewhat cautiously and delicately, the latent point 
of his essay again, by adducing the example of persons, not 
connected with the military profession, who have found them- 
selves called upon in various ways, and by means of various 
weapons, to take part in these wars; who have yet, in conse- 
quence of certain ' subtleties of conscience,' relinquished the 
honour of their successes; and though there is no instance ad- 
duced of that particular kind of disinterestedness, in which an 
author relinquishes to another the honour of his title page, as 
the beginning might have led one to anticipate; on the 
whole, the not indiligent reader of this author's performances 
here and elsewhere, will feel that the subject which is an- 
nounced as the subject of this chapter, ' Not to communicate 
a man's honour or glory,' has been, considering the circum- 
stance> sufficiently illustrated. 

( As women succeeding to peerages had, notwithstanding their 
sex, the right to assist and give their votes in the causes that 
appertain to the jurisdiction of peers; so the ecclesiastical 
peers, notwithstanding their profession, were obliged to assist 
our kings in their wars, not only with their friends and ser- 
vants, but in their own persons. And he instances the Bishop 
of Beauvais, who took a gallant share in the battle of Bouvines, 
but did not think it fit for him to participate in the fruit and 


glory of that violent and bloody trade. He, with his own hand, 
reduced several of the enemy that day to his mercy, whom he 
delivered to the first gentleman he met, either to kill or to 
receive them to quarter, referring that part to another hand. 
As also did William, Earl of Salisbury, to Messire John de 
Neale, with a like subtlety of conscience to the other, he 
would kill, but not wound him, and for that reason, fought 
only with a mace. And a certain person in my time, being 
reproached by the king that he had laid hands on a priest, 
stiffly and positively denied it. The case was, he had cudgelled 
and kicked him.' And there the author abruptly, for that time, 
leaves the matter without any allusion to the case of still another 
kind of combatants, who, fighting with another kind of weapon, 
might also, from similar subtleties of conscience, perhaps think 
fit to devolve on others the glory of their successes. 

But in a chapter on names, in which, if he has not told, he 
has designed to tell all ; and what he could not express, he has 
at least pointed out with his finger, this subject is more fully 
developed. In this chapter, he regrets that such as write 
chronicles in Latin do not leave our names as they find them, 
for in making of Vaudemont Valle-Montanus, and meta- 
morphosing names to dress them out in Greek or Latin, we 
know not where we are, and with the persons of the men, lose 
the benefit of the story : but one who tracks the inner thread 
of this apparently miscellaneous collection of items, need be at 
no such loss in this case. But at the conclusion of this apparently 
very trivial talk about names, he resumes his philosophic hu- 
mour again, and the subsequent discourse on this subject, recals 
once more, the considerations with which philosophy sets at 
nought the loss of fame, and forgets in the warmth that prompts 
to worthy deeds, the glory that should follow them. 

' But this consideration — that is the consideration c that it 
is the custom in France, to call every man, even a stranger, by 
the name of any manor or seigneury, he may chance to come in 
possession of, tends to the total confusion of descents, so that 
surnames are no security/ — 'for/ he says, • a younger brother 
of a good family, having a manor left him by his father, by 


the name of which he has been known and honoured, cannot 
handsomely leave it; ten years after his decease, it falls into 
the hand of a stranger, who does the same. Do but judge 
whereabouts we shall be concerning the knowledge of these 
men. This consideration leads me therefore into another 
subject. Let us look a little more narrowly into, and examine 
upon what foundation we erect this glory and reputation, for 
which the world is turned topsy-turvy. Wherein do we place 
this renown, that we hunt after with such infinite anxiety and 
trouble. It is in the end Pierre or William that bears it, 
takes it into his possession, and whom only it concerns. Oh 
what a valiant faculty is Hope, that in a mortal subject, and 
in a moment, makes nothing of usurping infinity, immensity, 
eternity, and of supplying her master's indigence, at her pleasure, 
with all things that he can imagine or desire. And this Pierre 
or William, what is it but a sound, when all is done, [' What's 
in a name?'] or three or four dashes with a pen?' 

And he has already written two paragraphs to show, that 
the name of William, at least, is not excepted from the 
general remarks he is making here on the vanity of names; 
while that of Pierre is five times repeated, apparently with 
the same general intention, and another combination of sounds 
is not wanting which serves with that free translation the 
author himself takes pains to suggest and defend, to com- 
plete what was lacking to that combination, in order to give 
these remarks their true point and significance, in order to 
redeem them from that appearance of flatness which is not a 
characteristic of this author's intentions, and in his style 
merely serves as an intimation to the reader that there is ( 
something worth looking for beneath it. 

As to the name of William, and the amount of personal 
distinction which that confers upon its owners, he begins by 
telling us, that the name of Guienne is said to be derived from 
the Williams of our ancient Aquitaine, ' which would seem, he 
says, rather far fetched, were there not as crude derivations in Plato 
himself, to whom he refers in other places for similar precedents ; 
and when he wishes to excuse his enigmatical style — the titles 



of his chapters for instance. And by way of emphasizing 
this particular still further, he mentions, that on the occasion 
when Henry, the Duke of Normandy, the son of Henry the 
Second, of England, made a feast in France, the concourse of 
nobility and gentry was so great, that for sport's sake he divided 
them into troops, according to their names, and in the first troop, 
which consisted of Williams, there were found a hundred and 
ten knights sitting at the table of that name, without reckoning 
the simple gentlemen and servants. 

And here he apparently digresses from his subject for the 
sake of mentioning the Emperor Geta, ' who distributed the 
several courses of his meats by the first letters of the meats 
themselves, where those that began with B were served up 
together; as brawn, beef, beccaficos, and so of the others/ 
This appears to be a little out of the way; but it is not impos- 
sible that there may be an allusion in it to the author's own 
family name of Eyquem, though that would be rather far- 
fetched, as he says; but then there is Plato at hand, still to 
keep us in countenance. 

But to return to the point of digression. * And this Pierre, 
or William, what is it but a sound when all is done? Or 
three or four dashes with a pen, so easy to be varied, that I 
would fain know to whom is to be attributed the glory of so 
many victories, to Guesquin, to Glesquin, or to Gueaguin. And 
yet there would be something more in the case than in Lucian 
that Sigma should serve Tau with a process, for ' He seeks 
no mean rewards.' The quere is here in good earnest. The point 
is, which of these letters is to be rewarded for so many sieges, 
■ battles, wounds, imprisonment, and services done to the crown 
of France by this famous constable. Nicholas Denisot never 
concerned himself further than the letters of his name, of 
which he has altered the whole contexture, to build up by ana- 
gram the Count d'Alsinois whom he has endowed with the glory 
of his poetry and painting. [A good precedent — but here is a 
better one.] And the historian Suetonius looked only to the 
meaning of his; and so, cashiering his father 's surname, Lenis 
left Tranquillus successor to the reputation of his writings. Who 


would believe that the Captain Bayard should have no honour 
but what he derives from the great deeds of Peter (Pierre), 
Terrail, [the name of Bayard — ' the meaning'] and that Antonio 
Escalin should suffer himself, to his face, to be robbed of the 
honour of so many navigations, and commands at sea and land, 
by Captain Poulin and the Baron de la Garde. [The name of 
Poulin was taken from the place where he was born, De la 
Garde from a person who took him in his boyhood into his 
service.] Who hinders my groom from calling himself Pom- 
pey the Great? But, after all, what virtue, what springs are 
there that convey to my deceased groom, or the other Pompey 
( who had his head cut off in Egypt), this glorious renown, and 
these so much honoured flourishes of the pen?' Instructive 
suggestions, especially when taken in connection with the pre- 
ceding items contained in this chapter, apparently so casually 
introduced, yet all with a stedfast bearing on this question of 
names, and all pointing by means of a thread of delicate 
sounds, and not less delicate suggestions, to another instance, 
in which the possibility of circumstances tending to counter- 
vail the so natural desire to appropriate to the name derived 
from one's ancestors, the lustre of one's deeds, is clearly demon- 

"Tis with good reason that men decry the hypocrisy that is 
in war; for what is more easy to an old soldier than to shift 
in time of danger, and to counterfeit bravely, when he has no 
more heart than a chicken. There are so many ways to avoid 
hazarding a man's own person* — * and had we the use of the 
Platonic ring, which renders those invisible that wear it, if 
turned inwards towards the palm of the hand, it is to be feared 
that a great many would often hide themselves, when they ought 
most to appear. 1 ' It seems that to be known, is in some sort to 
have a man's life and its duration in another's keeping. I for 
my part, hold that I am wholly in myself, and that other life 
of mine which lies in the knowledge of my friends, considering 
it nakedly and simply in itself, I know very well that I am 
sensible of no fruit or enjoyment of it but by the vanity of a 
fantastic opinion; and, when I shall be dead, I shall be much 

E 2 



less sensible of it, and shall withal absolutely lose the use of 
those real advantages that sometimes accidentally follow it. 
[That was Lord Bacon's view, too, exactly.] I shall have no 
more handle whereby to take hold of reputation, or whereby 
it may take hold of me: for to expect that my name should 
receive it, in the first place, I have no name that is enough 
my own. Of two that I have, one is common to all my race, 
and even to others also: there is one family at Paris, and 
another at Montpelier, whose surname is Montaigne; another 
in Brittany, and Xaintonge called De la Montaigne. The 
transposition of one syllable only is enough to ravel our affairs, 
so that I shall peradventure share in their glory, and they 
shall partake of my shame; and, moreover, my ancestors were 
formerly surnamed Eyquem, a name wherein a family well 
known in England at this day is concerned. As to my other 
name, any one can take it that will, and so, perhaps, I may 
honour a porter in my own stead. And, besides, though I 
had a particular distinction myself, what can it distinguish 
when I am no more. Can it point out and favour inanity? 

But will thy manes such a gift bestow 
As to make violets from thy ashes grow 1 

But of this I have spoken elsewhere.' He has— and to pur- 

But as to the authority for these readings, Lord Bacon him- 
self will give us that; for this is the style which he discrimi- 
nates so sharply as ' the enigmatical, 1 a style which he, too, 
finds to have been in use among the ancients, and which he 
tells us has some affinity with that new method of making over 
knowledges from the mind of the teacher to that of the pupil, 
which he terms the method of progression — (which is the method 
of essaie) — in opposition to the received method, the only 
method he finds in use, which he, too, calls the magisterial. 
And this method of progression, with which the enigmatical 
has some affinity, is to be used, he tells us, in cases where 
knowledge is delivered as a thread to be spun on, where 
science is to be removed from one mind to another to grow 



from the root, and not delivered as trees for the use of the 
carpenter, where the root is of no consequence. In this 
case, he tells us it is necessary for the teacher to descend 
to the foundations of knowledge and consent, and so to transplant 
it into another as it grew in his own mind, 'whereas as 
knowledges are now delivered, there is a kind of contract of 
en-or between the deliverer and the receiver, for he that 
delivereth knowledge desireth to deliver it in such a form as 
may best be believed, and not as may best be examined: and he 
that receiveth knowledge desireth rather present satisfaction 
than expectant inquiry, and so rather not to doubt than not to 
err, glory making the author not to lay open his weakness, 
and sloth making the disciple not to know his strength' Now, 
so very grave a defect as this, in the method of the delivery 
and tradition of Learning, would of course be one of the first 
things that would require to be remedied in any plan in which 
' the Advancement ' of it was seriously contemplated. And this 
method of the delivery and tradition of knowledges which 
transfers the root with them, that they may grow in the mind 
of the learner, is the method which this philosopher professes 
to find wanting, and the one which he seems disposed to in- 
vent. He has made a very thorough survey of the stores of 
the ancients, and is not unacquainted with the more recent 
history of learning ; he^knows exactly what kinds of methods 
have been made use of by the learned in all ages, for the pur- 
pose of putting themselves into some tolerable and possible 
relations with the physical majority; he knows what devices 
they have, always been compelled to resort to, for the purpose of 
establishing some more or less effective communication between 
themselves and that world to which they instinctively seek to 
transfer their doctrine. But this method, which he suggests 
here as the essential condition of the growth and advancement 
of learning, he does not find invented. He refers to a method 
which he calls the enigmatical, which has an affinity with it, 
* used in some cases by the discretion of the ancients,' but dis- 
graced since, ' by the impostures of persons, who have made it 
as a false light for their counterfeit merchandises.' The pur- 


pose of this latter style is, as he defines it, * to remove the 
secrets of knowledges from the penetration of the more vulgar 
capacities, and to reserve them to selected auditors, or to wits 
of such sharpness as can pierce the veil.' And that is a me- 
thod, he tells us, which philosophy can by no means dispense 
with in his time, and * whoever would let in new light upon 
the human understanding must still have recourse to it/ But 
the method of delivery and tradition in those ancient schools, 
appears to have been too much of the dictatorial kind to suit 
this proposer of advancement ; its tendency was to arrest know- 
leges instead of promoting their growth. He is not pleased 
with the ambition of those old masters, and thinks they aimed 
too much at a personal impression, and that they sometimes 
undertook to impose their own particular and often very 
partial grasp of those universal doctrines and principles, 
which are and must be true for all men, in too dogmatical and 
magisterial a manner, without making sufficient allowance 
for the growth of the mind of the world, the difference of 
races, etc. 

But if any doubt in regard to the use of the method de- 
scribed, in the composition of the work now first produced as 
AN example of the use of it, should still remain in any mind ; 
or if this method of unravelling it should seem too studious, 
perhaps the author's own word for it in one more quotation 
may be thought worth taking. 

* / can give no account of my life by MY ACTIONS, fortune 
has placed them too low ; / must do it BY MY fancies. And 
when shall I have done representing the continual agitation 
and change of my thoughts as they come into my head, 
seeing that Diomedes filled six thousand books upon the sub- 
ject of grammar/ [The commentators undertake to set him 
right here, but the philosopher only glances in his intention 
at the voluminousness of the science of words, in opposition 
to the science of things, which he came to establish.] f What 
must prating produce, since prating itself, and the first be- 
ginning to speak, stuffed the world with such a horrible load 
of volumes. So many words about words only. They accused 


one Galba, of old, of living idly; he made answer that every 
one ought to give account of his actions, but not of his leisure. 
He was mistaken, fox justice — [the civil authority] — has cogni- 
zance and jurisdiction over those that do nothing, or only play 
at working .... Scribbling appears to be the sign of a dis- 
ordered age. Every man applies himself negligently to the 
duty of his vocation at such a time and debauches in it.' 
From that central wrong of an evil government, an infectious 
depravity spreads and corrupts all particulars. Everything 
turns from its true and natural course. Thus scribbling is the 
sign of a disordered age. Men write in such times instead 
of acting; and scribble, or seem to perhaps, instead of writing 
openly to purpose. 

And yet, again, that central, and so divergent, wrong is the 
result of each man's particular contribution, as he goes on to 
assert. ' The corruption of this age is made up by the par- 
ticular contributions of every individual man/ — 

He were no lion, were not Romans hinds. — Cassius. 

1 Some contribute treachery, others injustice, irreligion, tyranny, 
avarice and cruelty, according as they have power; the weaker 


these I am one.' 

Ccesar. — He loves no plays as thou dost, Antony. 
Such men are dangerous. 

Or, as the same poet expresses it in another Eoman play: — 

This double worship, 
Where one part does disdain with cause, the other 
Insult without all reason ; where gentry, title, wisdom 
Cannot conclude but by the yea and no 
Of general ignorance, — it must omit 
Real necessities — and give way the while 
To unstable slightness ; purpose so barred, 
It follows, nothing is done to purpose. 

And that is made the plea for an attempt to overthrow the 
popular power, and to replace it with a government contain- 
ing the true head of the state, its nobility, its learning, its 
gentleness, its wisdom. 


But the essayist continues: — 'It seems as if it were the 
season for vain things when the hurtful oppress us; in a time 
when doing ill is common, to do nothing but what signifies 
nothing is a kind of commendation. 'Tis my comfort that / 
shall be one of the last that shall be called in question, — for 
it would be against reason to punish the less troublesome while 
we are infested with the greater. As the physician said to one 
who presented him his finger to dress, and who, as he per- 
ceived, had an ulcer in his lungs. ' Friend, it is not now time 
to concern yourself about your finger's ends/ And yet I saw 
some years ago, a person, whose name and memory I have in very 
great esteem, in the very height of our great disorders, when 
there was neither law nor justice put in execution, nor magistrate 
that performed his office, — no more than there is now,— publish 
I know not what pitiful reformations about clothes, cookery and 
law chicanery. These are amusements wherewith to feed a people 
that are ill used, to show that they are not totally forgotten. 
These others do the same, who insist upon stoutly defending 
the forms of speaking, dances and games to a people totally 
abandoned to all sorts of execrable vices— it is for the Spartans 
only to fall to combing and curling themselves, when they are 
just upon the point of running headlong into some extreme 
danger of their lives. 

For my part, I have yet a worse custom. I scorn to mend 
myself by halves. If my shoe go awry, I let my shirt and my 
cloak do so too: when I am out of order I feed on mischief. 
1 abandon myself through despair, and let myself go towards 
the precipice, and as the saying is, throw the helve after the 
hatchet/ We should not need, perhaps, the aid of the ex- 
planations already quoted, to show us that the author does not 
confess this custom of his for the sake of commending it to 
the sense or judgment of the reader, — who sees it here for the 
first time it may be put into words or put on paper, who 
looks at it here, perhaps, for the first time objectively, from 
the critical stand-point which the review of another's con- 
fession creates; and though it may have been latent in the 
dim consciousness of his own experience, or practically de- 


veloped, finds it now for the first time, collected from the 
phenomena of the blind, instinctive, human motivity, and put 
down on the page of science, as a principle in nature, in 
human nature also. 

But this is indeed a Spartan combing and curling, that the 
author is falling to, in the introductory flourishes (' diversions' 
as he calls them) of this great adventure, that his pen is out 
for now : he is indeed upon the point of running headlong 
into the fiercest dangers; — it is the state, the wretched, dis- 
eased, vicious state, dying apparently, yet full of teeth and 
mischief, that he is about to handle in his argument with 
these fine, lightsome, frolicsome preparations of his, without 
any perceptible ' mittens'; it is the heart of that political evil 
that his time groans with, and begins to find insufferable, 
that he is going to probe to the quick with that so delicate 
weapon. It is a tilt against the block and the rack, and all 
the instruments of torture, that he is going to manage, as 
handsomely, and with as many sacrifices to the graces, as the 
circumstances will admit of. But the political situation which 
he describes so boldly (and we have already seen what it is) 
affects us here in its relation to the question of style only, 
and as the author himself connects it with the point of our 

1 A man may regret,' he says, * the better times, but cannot 
fly from the present, we may wish for other magistrates, but 
we must, notwithstanding, obey those we have; and, perad- 
venture, it is more laudable to obey the bad than the good. 
So long as the image of the ancient and received laws of this 
monarchy shall shine in any corner of the kingdom, there will 
I be. If they happen, unfortunately, to thwart and contradict 
one another, so as to produce two factions of doubtful choice ' 

And my soul aches 
To know, [says Coriolanus] when two authorities are up, 
Neither supreme, how soon confusion 
May enter 'twixt the gap of both, and take 
The one by the other. 

— • in this contingency / will willingly choose,' continues the 


other, * to withdraw from the tempest, and in the meantime, 
nature or the hazards of war may lend me a helping hand. 
Betwixt Csesar and Pompey, I should soon and frankly have 
declared myself, but amongst the three robbers that came 
after, a man must needs have either hid himself or have gone 
along with the current of the time, which I think a man may 
lawfully do, when reason no longer rules. 3 ' Whither dost thou 
wandering go?' 

This medley is a little from my subject, I go out of my 
way but 't is rather by licence than oversight. My fancies follow 
one another, but sometimes at a great distance, and look towards 
one another, but His with an oblique glance. I have read a 
DIALOGUE of Plato of such a motley and fantastic compo- 
sition. The beginning was about love, and all the rest about 
rhetoric. They stick not (that is, the ancients) at these 
variations, and have a marvellous grace in letting themselves 
to be carried away at the pleasure of the winds; or at least 
to seem as if they were. The titles of my chapters do not 
always comprehend the whole matter, they often denote it 
by some mark only, as those other titles Andria Eunuchus, or 
these, Sylla, Cicero, Torquatus. I love a poetic march, by 
leaps and skips, 'tis an art, as Plato says, light, nimble; and 
a little demoniacal. There are places in Plutarch where he 
forgets his theme, where the proposition of his argument is 
only found incidentally, and stuffed throughout with foreign 
matter. Do but observe his meanders in the Demon of 
Socrates. How beautiful are his variations and digressions: 
and then most of all,when they seem to be fortuitous, [hear] and 
introduced for want of heed. 'Tis the indiligent reader that 
loses my subject — not I. There will always be found some 
words or other in a corner that are to the purpose, though it lie 
very close [that is the unfailing rule]. I ramble about indis- 
creetly and tumultously: my style and my wit wander at the 
same rate, [he wanders wittingly.'] A little folly is desirable in 
him that will not be guilty of stupidity, say the precepts, and 
much more the examples of our masters. A thousand poets 
and languish after a prosaic manner ; but the best old 


prose, and I strew it here up and down indifferently for verse, 
shines throughout with the vigor and boldness of poetry, and 
represents some air of its fury. Certainly, prose must yield 
the pre-eminence in speaking. * The poet,' says Plato, * when 
set upon the muse's tripod, pours out with fury, whatever 
comes into his mouth, like the pipe of a fountain, without 
considering and pausing upon what he says, and things come 
from him of various colors, of contrary substance, and with 
an irregular torrent: he himself (Plato) is all over poetical, 
and all the old theology (as the learned inform us) is poetry, 
and the first philosophy, is the origiual language of the 

I would have the matter distinguish itself; it sufficientiy 
shows where it changes, where it concludes, where it begins, and 
where it resumes, without interlacing it with words of connection, 
introduced for the relief of weak or negligent ears, and without 
commenting myself. Who is he that had not rather not be 
read at all, than after a drowsy or cursory manner ? Seeing I 
cannot fix the reader's attention by the weight of what I 
write, maneo male, if I should chance to do it by my intricacies, 
[Hear]. I mortally hate obscurity and would avoid it if I 
could. In such an employment, to whom you will not give an 
hour -you will give nothing; and you do nothing for him for 
whom you only do, whilst you are doing something else. To 
which may be added, that I have, perhaps, some particular 
obligation to speak only by halves, to speak confusedly and 
discordantly. 1 

But this is, perhaps, enough to show, in the way of direct 
assertion, that we have here, at least, a philosophical work com- 
posed in that style which Lord Bacon calls * the enigmatical,' 
in which he tells us the secrets of knowledges are reserved for 
selected auditors, or wit3 of such sharpness as can pierce the 
veil; a style which he, too, tells us was sometimes used by 
the discretion of the ancients, though he does not specify 
either Plutarch or Plato; in that place, and one which he 
introduces in connection with his new method of progression, 
in consequence of its having, as he tells us, some affinity with 


it, and that we have here also a specimen of that new method 
itself, by means of which knowledges are to be delivered as a 
thread to be spun on. 

But let us leave, for the present, this wondrous Gascon, 
though it is not very easy to do so, so long as we have our 
present subject in hand, — this philosopher, whose fancies look 
towards one another at such long, such very long distances, 
sometimes, though not always, with an oblique glance, who 
dares to depend so much upon the eye of his reader, and 
especially upon the reader of that ' far-off' age he writes to. It 
would have been indeed irrelevant to introduce the subject 
of this foreign work and its style in this connection without 
further explanation, but for the identity of political situation 
already referred to, and but for those subtle, interior, incessant 
connections wijh the higher writings of the great Elizabethan 
school, which form the main characteristic of this production. 
The fact, that this work was composed in the country in 
which the chief Elizabethan men attained their maturity, that 
it dates from the time in which Bacon was completing his 
education there, that it covers ostensibly not the period only, 
but the scenes and events of Kaleigh's six years campaigning 
there, as well as the fact alluded to by this author himself, 
in a passage already quoted, — the fact that there was a family 
then in England, very well known, who bore the surname of 
his ancestors, a family of the name of Eyquem, he tells us 
with whom, perhaps, he still kept up some secret corre- 
spondence and relations, the fact, too, which he mentions in 
his chapter on Names, that a surname in France is very 
easily acquired, and is not necessarily derived from one's 
ancestors, — that same chapter in which he adduces so many 
instances of men who, notwithstanding that inveterate innate 
love of the honour of one's own proper name, which is in men 
of genius still more inveterate, — have for one reason or another 
been willing to put upon anagrams, or synonyms, or borrowed 
names, all their honours, so that in the end it is William or Pierre 
who takes them into his possession, and bears them, or it's the 
name of ' an African slave' perhaps, or the name of a ' groom ' 


(promoted, it may be, to the rank of a jester, or even to that of a 
player,) that gets all the glory. All these facts, taken in con- 
nection with the conclusions already established, though insigni- 
ficant in themselves, will be found anything but that for the phi- 
losophical student who has leisure to pursue the inquiry. 

And though the latent meanings, in which the interior 
connections and identities referred to above are found, are not 
yet critically recognised, a latent national affinity and liking 
strong enough to pierce this thin, artificial, foreign exterior, 
appears to have been at work here from the first. For though 
the seed of the richer and bolder meanings from which the 
author anticipated his later harvest, could not yet be reached, 
that new form of popular writing, that effective, and viva- 
cious mode of communication with the popular mind on topics 
of common concern and interest, not heretofore recognised as fit 
subjects for literature, which this work offered to the world 
on its surface, was not long in becoming fruitful. But it was 
on the English mind that it began to operate first. It was in 
England, that it began so soon to develop the latent efficacies 
it held in germ, in the creation of that new and widening 
department in letters — that so new, so vast, and living de- 
partment of them, which it takes to-day all our reviews, and 
magazines, and journals, to cover. And the work itself has 
been from the first adopted, and appropriated here, as heartily 
as if it had been an indigenous production, some singularly 
distinctive product too, of the so deeply characterised English 

But it is time to leave this wondrous Gascon, this new 
f Michael of the Mount/ this man who is * consubstantial with 
his book,' — this ' Man of the Mountain,' as he figuratively 
describes it> Let us yield him this new ascent, this new tri- 
umphant peak and pyramid in science, which he claims to 
have been the first to master, — the unity of the universal 
man, — the historical unity, — the universal human form, col- 
lected from particulars, not contemplatively abstracted, — the 
Inducted Man of the new philosophy. ' Authors, 1 he says, 
' have hitherto communicated themselves to the people by some 


particular and foreign mark ; I, the first of any by my universal 
being, as Michael de Montaigne, I propose a life mean and 
without lustre : all moral philosophy is applied as well to a 
private life as to one of the greatest employment. Every man 
carries the entire form of the human condition. . . I, the first of 
any by my universal being, as Michael, — see the chapter on 
names, — ' as Michael de Montaigne.' ' Let us leave him for 
the present, or attempt to, for it is not very easy to do so, so 
long as we have our present subject in hand. 

For, as we all know, it is from this idle, tattling, ram- 
bling old Gascon — it is from this outlandish looker-on of 
human affairs, that our Spectators and Ramblers and Idlers 
and Tattlers, trace their descent; and the Times, and the Ex- 
aminers, and the Observers, and the Spectators, and the Tri- 
bunes, and Independents, and all the Monthlies, and all the 
Quarterlies, that exercise so large a sway in human affairs 
to-day, are only following his lead; and the best of them 
have not been able as yet to leave him in the rear. But how 
it came to pass, that a man of this particular turn of mind, 
who belonged to the old party, and the times that were then 
passing away, should have felt himself called upon to make 
this great signal for the human advancement, and how it 
happens that these radical connections with other works of 
that time, having the same general intention, are found in the 
work itself, — these are points which the future biographers of 
this old gentleman will perhaps find it for their interest to 
look to. And a little of that more studious kind of reading 
which he himself so significantly solicited, and in so many 
passages, will inevitably tend to the elucidation of them. 




* The secrets of nature have not more gift in taciturnity.' 

Troilus and Cressida. 

' I did not think that Mr. Silence had been a man of this mettle.' 




' Prospero. — Go bring the rabble, 
O'er whom I give thee power, here, to this place.' 


T)UT though a foreign philosopher may venture to give us 
" the clue to it, perhaps, in the first instance, a little more 
roundly, it is not necessary that we should go the Mayor of 
Bordeaux, in order to ascertain on the highest possible authority, 
what kind of an art of communication, what kind of an art 
of delivery and tradition, men, in such circumstances, find 
themselves compelled to invent; — that is, if they would not 
be utterly foiled for the want of it, in their noblest purposes; — 
we need not go across the channel to find the men themselves, 
to whom this art is a necessity, — men so convinced that they 
have a mission of instruction to their kind, that they will 
permit no temporary disabilities to divert them from their 
end, — men who must needs open their school, no matter 
what oppositions there may be, to be encountered, no matter 
what imposing exhibitions of military weapons may be going 
on just then, in their vicinity; and though they should find 
themselves straitened in time, and not able to fit their words 
to their mouths as they have a mind to, though they should 
be obliged to accept the hint from the master in the Greek 
school, and take their tone from the ear of those to whom they 


speak, though many speeches which would spend their use 
among the men then living would have to be inserted in their 
most enduring works with a private hint concerning that 
necessity, and a private reading of them for those whom it 
concerned; though the audience they are prepared to address 
should be deferred, though the benches of the inner school 
should stand empty for ages. We need not go abroad at all 
to discover men of this stamp, and their works and pastimes, 
and their arts of tradition ; — men so filled with that which 
impels men to speak, that speak they must, and speak they 
will, in one form or another, by word or gesture, by word or 
deed, though they speak to the void waste, though they must 
speak till they reach old ocean in his unsunned caves, and 
bring him up with the music of their complainings, though 
the marble Themis fling back their last appeal, though they 
speak, to the tempest in his wrath, to the wind and the rain, 
and the fire and the thunder, — men so impregnated with that 
which makes the human speech, that speak they will, though 
they have but a rusty nail, wherewith to etch their story, on 
their dungeon wall; though they dig in the earth and bury 
their secret, as one buried his of old — that same secret still; 
for it is still those ears — those 'ears' that 'Midas hath' 
which makes the mystery. 

They know that the days are coming when the light will 
enter their prison house, and flash in its dimmest recess; when 
the light they sought in vain, will be there to search out the 
secrets they are forbid. They know that the day is coming, 
when the disciple himself, all tutored in the art of their tradi- 
tion, bringing with him the key of its delivery, shall be there 
to unlock those locked-up meanings, to spell out those anagrams 
to read those hieroglyphics, to unwind with patient loving 
research to its minutest point, that text, that with such tools 
as the most watchful tyranny would give them, they will yet 
contrive to leave there. They know that their buried words 
are seeds, and though they lie long in the earth, they will yet 
spring up with their, 'richer and bolder meanings/ and publish 
on every breeze, their boldest mystery. 


■ For let not men of narrower natures fancy that such action 
is not proper to the larger one, and cannot be historical. For 
there are different kinds of men, our science of men tells us, 
and that is an unscientific judgment which omits 'the particu- 
lar addition, that bounteous nature hath closed in each/ — her 
'addition to the bill that writes them all alike/ For there is 
a kind of men ■ whose minds are proportioned to that which 
may be dispatched at once, or within a short return of time, 
and there is another kind, whose minds are proportioned to 
that which begins afar off, and is to be won with length of 
pursuit,' — so the Coryphseus of those choir that the latter 
kind compose, informs us, 'so that there may be fitly said to 
be a longanimity, which is commonly also ascribed to God as a 

And our English' philosophers had to light what this one calls 
a new f Lamp of Tradition/ before they could make sure of trans- 
mitting their new science, through such mediums as those that 
their time gave them; and a very gorgeous many-branched 
lamp it is, that the great English philosopher brings out from 
that 'secret school of living Learning and living Art' to which he 
secretly belongs, for the admiration of the professionally learned 
of his time, and a very lustrous one too, as it will yet prove to 
be, when once it enters the scholar's apprehension that it was 
ever meant be lighted, when once the little movement that 
turns on the dazzling jet is ordered. 

For we have all been so taken up with the Baconian Logic 
hitherto and its wonderful effects in the relief of the human 
estate, that the Baconian Rhetoric has all this time es- 
caped our notice ; and nobody appears to have suspected that 
there was anything in that worth looking at; any more than 
they suspect that there is anything in some of those other 
divisions which the philosopher himself lays so much stress on 
in his proposal for the Advancement of Learning, — in his pro- 
posal for the advancement of it into all the fields of human 
activity. But we read this proposition still, as James the 
First was expected to read it, and all these departments which 
are brought into that general view in such a dry and formal 



and studiously scholastic manner, appear to be put there 
merely to fill up a space ; and because the general plan of this so 
erudite performance happened to include them. 

For inasmuch as the real scope and main bearing of this 
proposition, though it is in fact there, is of course not there, in 
any such form as to attract the particular attention of the 
monarch to whose eye the work is commended; and inasmuch 
as the new art of a scientific Rhetoric is already put to its 
most masterly use in reserving that main design, for such as 
may find themselves able to receive it, of course, the need of 
any such invention is not apparent on the surface of the work, 
and the real significance of this new doctrine of Art and its 
radical relation to the new science, is also reserved for that 
class of readers who are able to adopt the rules of interpreta- 
tion which the work itself lays down. Because the real ap- 
plications of the New Logic could not yet be openly discussed, 
no one sees as yet, that there was, and had to be, a Rhetoric to 

match it. 

For this author, who was not any less shrewd than the one 
whose methods we have just been observing a little, had also 
early discovered in the great personages of his time, a dispo- 
sition to moderate his voice whenever he went to speak to 
them on matters of importance, in his natural key, for his 
voice too, was naturally loud, and high as he gives us to under- 
stand, though he 'could speak small like a woman'; he too had 
learned to take the tone from the ear of him to whom he spake, 
and he too had learned, that it was not enough merely to 
speak so as to make himself heard by those whom he wished 
to affect. He also had learned to speak according to the affair 
he had in hand, according to the purpose which he wished to 
accomplish. He also is of the opinion that different kinds of 
audiences and different times, require different modes of speech, 
and though he found it necessary to compose his works in the 
style and language of his own time, he was confident that it 
was a language which would not remain in use for many ages; 
and he has therefore provided himself with another, more to 
his mind which he has taken pains to fold carefully within the 


other, and one which he thinks will bear the wear and tear of 
those revolutions that he perceives to be imminent. 

But in consequence of our persistent oversight of this Art of 
Tradition, on which he relies so much, (which is as fine an in- 
vention of his, as any other of his inventions which we find 
ourselves so much the better for), that appeal to** the times that 
are farther off,' has not yet taken effect, and the audience for 
whom he chiefly laboured is still ' deferred.';; 

This so noble and benign art which he calls, with his own 
natural modesty and simplicity, the Art of Tradition, this art 
which grows so truly noble and worthy, so distinctively human, 
in his clear, scientific treatment of it, — in his scientific clearance 
of it from the wildnesses and spontaneities of accident, or the 
superfluities and trickery of an art without science, — that stops 
short of the ultimate, the Human principle, — this so noble art 
of speech or tradition is, indeed, an art which this great teacher 
and leader of men will think it no scorn to labour : it is one on 
which, even such a teacher, can find time to stop; it is one 
which even such a teacher can stop to build from the founda- 
tion upwards, he will not care how splendidly ; it is one on 
which he will spend without stint, and think it gain to spend, 
the wealth of his invention. 

But, at the same time, it is with him a subordinate art. It 
has no worth or substance in itself; it borrows all its worth 
from that which masters and rigorously subdues it to its end. 
Here, too, we find ourselves coming down on all its old cere- 
monial and observance, from that new height which we found 
our foreign philosopher in such quiet possession of, — taking 
his way at a puff through poor Cicero's periods, — those periods 
which the old orator had taken so much pains with, and laugh- 
ing at his pains: — but this English philosopher is more daring 
still, for it is he who disposes, at a word, without any comment, 
just in passing merely, — from his practical stand-point, 1 — of 
1 the flutes and trumpets of the Greeks,' like the other making 
nothing at all in his theory of criticism of mere elegance, 
though it is the Gascon, it is true, who undertakes the more 
lively and extreme practical demonstrations of this theoretical 



contempt of it,— setting .it at nought, and flying in the face of 
it _ writing in as loquacious and homely a style as he possibly 
can, just for the purpose for setting it at nought, though not 
without giving us a glimpse occasionally, of a faculty that would 
enable him to mince the matter as fine as another if he should 
see occasion— as, perhaps, he may. For he talks very emphati- 
cally about his poetry here and there, and seems to intimate that 
he has a gift that way; and that he has, moreover, some works 
of value in that department of letters, which he is anxious to 
' save up ' for posterity, if he can. But here, it is the scholar, 
and not the loquacious old gentleman at all, who is giving us 
in his choicest, selectest, courtliest phrase, in his most stately 
and condensed style, his views of this subject; but that which is 
noticeable is, that the art in its fresh, new upspringing from the 
secret of life and nature, from the soul of things, the art and 
that which it springs from, is in these two so different forms 
identical Here, too, the point of its criticism and review is 
the same. ' Away with that eloquence that so enchants us with 
its harmony that we should more study it than things' ; but here 
the old Roman masters the philosopher, for a moment, and he 
puts in a scholarly parenthesis, ' unless you will affirm that of 
Cicero to be of so supreme perfection as to form a body of itself.' 
But Hamlet, in his discourse with that wise reasoner, and 
unfortunate practitioner, who thought that brevity was the soul 
of wit, and tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, puts 
it more briefly still. 

Polonius. What do you read, my lord 1 
Hamlet. Words, word*, words ! 
' More matter, and less art,' another says in that same treatise 
on art and speculation. Now inasmuch as this art and science 
derives all its distinction and lustre from that new light on the 
human estate of which it was to be the vehicle, somebody must 
find 'the trick of it, so as to be able to bring out that doctrine 
by its help, before we can be prepared to understand the real 
worth of this invention. It would be premature to undertake 
to set it forth fully, till that is accomplished. There must be 
a more elaborate exhibition of that science, before the art of 


its transmission can be fully treated ; we cannot estimate it, till 
we see how it strikes to the root of the new doctrine, how it 
begins with its beginning, and reaches to its end : we cannot 
estimate it till we see its relation, its essential relation, to that 
new doctrine of the human nature, and that new doctrine of 
state, which spring from the doctrine of nature in general, 
which is the doctrine, which is the beginning and the end of 
the new science. 

We find here on the surface, as we find everywhere in this 
comprehensive treatise, much apparent parade of division and 
subdivision, and the author appears to lay much stress upon 
this, and seems disposed to pride himself upon his dexterity in 
chopping up the subject as finely as possible, and keeping the 
parts quite clear of one another; and sometimes, in his distribu- 
tions, putting these points the farthest apart which are the most 
nearly related, though not so far, that they cannot ' look to- 
wards each other/ though it may be, as the other says, ' ob- 
liquely. 1 He evidently depends very much on his arrangement, 
and seems, indeed, to be chiefly concerned about that, when he 
comes to the more critical parts of his subject. But it is to 
the continuities which underlie these separations, to which he 
directs the attention of those to whom he speaks in earnest, 
and not in particular cases only. ( Generally,' he says, ' let this 
be a rule, that all partitions of knowledges be accepted rather 
for lines and VEINS, than for sections and separations, and 
that the continuance and entireness of knowledge be preserved. 
For the contrary hereof, 3 he says, ' is that which has made par- 
while they have not been nourished and maintained from the 
common fountain.' For this is the ONE SCIENCE, the deep, 
the true, the fruitful one, the fruitful because the ONE.' 

These lines, then, which he cautions ns against regarding as 
divisions, which are brought in with such parade of scholasti- 
cism, with such a profound appearance of artifice, will always 
be found by those who have leisure to go below the surface, to 
be but the indications of those natural articulations and branches 
into which the subject divides and breaks itself, and the con- 


ducting lines to that trunk and heart of sciences, that common 
fountain from which all this new vitality, this sudden up- 
springing and new blossoming of learning proceeds, that foun- 
tain in which its flowers, as well as its fruits, and its thick 
embosoming leaves are nourished. 

Here in this Art of Tradition, which comprehends the 
whole subject of the human speeeh from the new ground of 
the common nature in man — that double nature which tends to 
isolation on the one hand, and which makes him a part and a 
member of society on the other; we find it treated, first, as a 
means by which men come simply to a common understanding 
with each other, by which that common ground, that ground of 
community, and communication, and identity, which a common 
understanding in this kind makes, can be best reached; and 
next we find it treated as a means by which more than the 
understanding shall be reached, by which the sentiment, the 
common sentiment, which also belongs to the larger nature, 
shall be strengthened and developed, — by which the counter- 
acting and partial sentiments shall be put in their place, and 
the will compelled; whereby that common human form, which 
in its perfection is the object of the human love and reverence 
shall be scientifically developed; by which the particular 
form with its diseases shall be artistically disciplined and 
treated. This Art of Tradition concerns, first, the understand- 
ing; and secondly, the affections and the will. As man is 
constituted, it is not enough to convince his understanding. 

First, then, it is 'the organ' and 'method' of tradition; and 
next, it is what he calls the illustration of it. First, the object 
is, to bring truth to the understanding in as clear and un- 
obstructed a manner as the previous condition — as the diseases 
and pre-occupations of the mind addressed will admit of, and 
next to bring all the other helps and arts by which the senti- 
ments are touched and the will mastered. First, he will 
speak true, or as true as they will let him; but it is not 
enough to speak true. He must be able to speak sharply too, 
perhaps — or humorously, or touchingly, or melodiously, or 
overwhelmingly, with words that burn. It is not enough, 


perhaps, to reach the ear of his auditor : ' peradventure' he too 
'will also pierce it.' It is not enough to draw diagrams in 
chalk on a black board in this kind of mathematics, where the 
will and the affections are the pupils, and standing ready to 
defy axioms, prepared at any moment to demonstrate prac- 
tically, that the part is greater than the whole, and face down 
the universe with it. ' murdering impossibility to make what 
cannot be, slight work.' It is not enough to have a tradition 
that is clear, or as clear a one as will pass muster with the 
government and with the preconceptions of the people them- 
selves. He must have a pictured one — a pictorial, an illumi- 
nated one — a beautiful one, — he must have what he calls an 
Illustrated Tradition. 

' Why not,' he says. He runs his eye over the human in- 
strumentalities, and this art which we call art — par excellence, 
which he sees setting up for itself, or ministering to ignorance 
and error, and feeding the diseased affections with ■ the sweet 
that is their poison/ he seizes on at once, in behalf of his 
science, and declares that it is her lawful property, ' her slave, 
born in her house/ and fit for nothing in the world but to 
minister to her ; and what is more, he suits the action to the 
word — he brings the truant home, and reforms her, and sets 
her about her proper business. That is what he proposes to 
have done in his theory of art, and it is what he tells us he 
has done himself; and he has : there is no mistake about it. 
That is what he means when he talks about his illustrated tra- 
dition of science — his illustrated tradition of the science of 
human nature and its differences, original? and acquired, and 
the diseases to which it is liable, and the artificial growths 
which appertain to it. It is very curious, that no one has 
seen this tradition — this illustrated tradition, or anything else, 
indeed, that was at all worthy of this new interpreter of mys- 
teries, who goes about to this day as the inventor of a method 
which he was not able himself to put to any practical use; an 
inventor who was obliged to leave his machine for men of a more 
quick and subtle genius, or to men of a more practical turn of 
mind to manage, men who had a closer acquaintance with nature. 


• That which is first to be noted in looking carefully at this 
draught of a new Art of Tradition which the plan of the Ad- 
vancement of Learning includes, — that which the careful reader 
cannot fail to note, is the fact, that throughout all this most 
complete and radical exhibition of the subject (for brief and 
casual as that exhibition seems on the surface, the science and 
art from its root to its outermost branches, is there) — through- 
out all this exhibition, under all the superficial divisions and 
subdivisions of the subject, it is still the method of Progres- 
sion which is set forth here: under all these divisions, there is 
still one point made ; it is still the Art of a Tradition which is 
designed to reserve the secrets of science, and the nobler arts 
of it, for the minds and ages that are able to receive them. 
This new art of tradition, with its new organs and methods, 
and its living and beautiful illustration, when once we look 
through the network of it to the unity within, this new rhetoric 
of science, is in fact the instrument which the philosopher 
would substitute, if he could, for those more cruel weapons 
which the men of his time were ready to take in hand; and it 
is the instrument with which he would forestall those yet more 
fearful political^ convulsions that already seemed to his eye to 
threaten from afar the social structures of Christendom ; it is the 
beautiful and bloodless instrumentality whereby the mind of 
the world is to be wrenched insensibly from its* old place 
without ' breaking all. ' 

For neither does this author, any more than that other, who 
has been quoted here on this point, think it wise for the phi- 
losopher to rush madly out of his study with his Eureka, 
and bawl to the first passer by in scientific terms the last result 
of his science, ' lording it over his ignorance' with what can 
be to him only a magisterial announcement. For what else 
but that can it be, for instance, to tell the poor peasant, on 
his way to market, with his butter and eggs in his basket, 
planting his feet on the firm earth without any qualms or mis- 
givings, and measuring his day by the sun's great toil and re- 
joicing race in heaven, what but this same magisterial teaching 
is it, to stop him, and tell him to his bewildered face that the 


sun never rises or sets, and that the earth is but a revolving 
ball? Instead of giving him a truth you have given him a 
falsehood. You have brought him a truth out of a sphere 
with which he is not conversant, which he cannot ascend to— 
whose truths he cannot translate into his own, without jarring 
all. Either you have told him what must be to him a lie, 
or you have upset all his little world of beliefs with your 
magisterial doctrine, smd confounded and troubled him to no 

But the Method of Progression, as set forth by Lord Bacon, 
requires that the new scientific truth shall be, not nakedly 
and flatly, but artistically exhibited; because, as he tells us, 
'the great labour is with the people, and this people who 
knoweth not the law are cursed/ He will not have it ex- 
hibited in bare propositions, but translated into the people's 
dialect. He would not begin if he could — if there were no 
political or social restriction to forbid it — by overthrowing 
on aU points the popular belief, or wherever it differs from 
the scientific conclusion. It is a very different kind of philo- 
sophy that proceeds in that manner. This is one which com- 
prehends and respects all actualities. The popular belief, even 
to its least absurdity 'is something more than nothing in 
nature ' ; and . the popular belief with all its admixture of 
error, is better than the half-truths of a misunderstood, un- 
translated science; better than these would be in its place. 
That truth of nature which it contains for those who are able 
to receive it, and live by it, you would destroy for them, if 
you should attempt to make them read it prematurely, in your 
language. Any kind of organism which by means of those 
adjustments and compensations, with which nature is always 
ready to help out anything really hers,— any organism that 
is capable of serving as the means of an historical social con- 
tinuance, is already some gain on chaos and social dissolution; 
and is, perhaps, better than a series of philosophical experi- 
ments. The difficulty is not to overthrow the popular errors, 
but to get something better in their place, he tells us; and 
that there are men who have succeeded in the first attempt, and 


very signally failed in the second. Beautiful and vigorous 
unions grew up under the classic mythologies, that dissolved 
and went down for ever, in the sunshine of the classic phi- 
losophies. For there were more things in heaven and 
earth than were included in those last, or dreampt of in 

In your expurgation, of the popular errors, you must be 
sure that the truth they contain, is in some form as strongly, 
as effectively composed in your text, or the popular error is 
truer and better than the truth with which you would replace 
it. This is a master who will have no other kind of teaching 
in his school. His scholars must go so far in their learning as 
to be able to come back to this popular belief, and account for 
it and understand it; they must be as wise as the peasant 
again, and be able to start with him, from his starting point, 
before they can get any diploma in this School of Advancement, 
or leave to practise in it. But when the old is already 
ruinous and decaying, and oppressing and keeping back the 
neWj — when the vitality is gone out of it, and it has become 
deadly instead, when the new is struggling for new forms, 
the man of science though never so conservative from incli- 
nation and principle, will not be wanting to himself and to 
the state in this emergency. He 'loves the fundamental part 
of state more ' than in such a crisis he will ' doubt the change 
of it/ and will not ' fear to jump a body with a dangerous 
physic, that's sure of death without it.' 

First of all then, the condition of this lamp of tradition, 
that is to burn on for ages, is, that it shall be able to adapt 
itself to the successive stages of the advancement it lights. 
It is the inevitable condition of this school which begins 
with the present, which begins with the people, which de- 
scends to the lowest stage of the cotemporary popular belief, 
and takes in the many-headed monster himself, without any 
trimming at all, for its audience, — it is the first condition of 
such a school, conducted by a man of science, that it shall 
have its proper grades of courts and platforms, its selecter 
and selectest audiences. There must be landing places in the 


ascent, points of rendezvous agreed on, where ' the delicate 
collateral sounds' are heard, which only those who ascend can 
hear. There is no jar, — there is no forced advancement in 
this school; there is no upward step for any, who have not 
first been taught to see it, who have not, indeed, already taken 
it. For it is an artist's school, and not a pedant's, or a vague 
speculator's, who knows not how to converge his speculation, 
even upon his mode of tradition. 

The founders of this school trust much in their general plan of 
instruction and relief to the gradual advancement of a common 
intelligence, by means of a scientific, but concealed historical 
teaching. They will teach their lower classes, their ' beginners,' 
as great nature teaches — insensibly; — as great nature teaches 
— in the concrete, ' in easy instances.' For the secret of her 
method is that which they have studied; that is the learning 
which they have mastered ; the spirit of it, which is the poet's 
gift, the quickest, subtlest, most searching, most analytic, most 
synthetic spirit of it, is that with which great nature has 
endowed them. They will speak, as they tell us, as the masters 
always have spoken from of old to them who are without ; they 
will ' open their mouths in parables,' they will f utter their dark 
sayings on the harp. They know that men are already prepared 
by nature's own instruction, to feel in a fact, — to receive in 
historical representations — truths which would startle them in 
the abstract, truths which they are not yet prepared to dis- 
engage from the historical combinations in which they receive 
them; though with every repetition, and especially with the 
pointed, selected, prolonged repetition of the teacher, where 
the * illustrious instance ' is selected and cleared of its 
extraneous incident, and made to enter the mind alone, and 
pierce it with its principle, — with every such repetition, the 
step to that generalization and axiom becomes insensibly 
shorter and more easy. They know that men are already wiser 
than their teachers, in some — in many things; that they 
have all of them a great stock of incommunicative wisdom 
which all their teachers have not been able to make them give 
up, which they never will give up, till the strong man, who 


is stronger, enters with his larger learning out of the same 
book, with his mightier weapons out of the same armory, 
and spoils their goods, or makes them old and worthless, by 
the side of the new, resplendent, magic wealth he brings 
with him. 

The new philosophy of nature has truths to teach which 
nature herself has already been teaching all men, with more 
or less effect, miscellaneously, and at odd hours, ever since 
they were born ; and this philosopher gives a large place in his 
history, to that vulgar, practical human wisdom, whieh all the 
books till his time had been of too high a strain to glance at. 
But 'art is a second nature, and imitateth that dextrously and 
compendiously, which nature performs by ambages and length 
of time.' The scientific interpreter of nature will select, and unite, 
and teach continuously, and pointedly, in grand, ideal, repre- 
sentative fact, in ' prerogative instances/ that which nature has 
but faintly and unconsciously impressed with her method; 
for he has a scientific organum, and what is more, — a great 
deal more, a thousand times more, — he has the scientific genius 
that invented it. His soul is a Novum Organum — his mind is 
a table of rejections that sifts the historic masses, and brings 
out the instances that are to his purpose, the bright, bold in- 
stances that flame forth the doubtful truth, that tell their own 4 
story and need no interpreter, the high ideal instances that 
talk in verse because it is their native tongue and they can no 
other. He has found, — or rather nature lent it to him, 
the universal historic solvent, and the dull, formless, miscel- 
laneous facts of the common human experience, spring up in 
magic orders, in beautiful, transparent, scientific continuities, 
as they arrange themselves by the laws of his thinking. 

For the truth is, and it must be said here, and not here 
only, but everywhere, wherever there is a chance to say it, — 
that Novum Organum was not made to examine the legs of 
spiders with, or the toes of 'the grandfather-long-legs/ or any 
of their kindred; though of course it is susceptible of such an 
application, when it falls into the hands of persons whose 
genius inclines them in those directions; and it is a use, that 


the inventor would not have disdained to put it to himself, if 
he had had time, and if his attention had not been so much 
distracted by the habits and history of that 'nobler kind of 
vermin/ which he found feeding on the human weal in his 
time, and eating out the heart of it. This man was not a fool, 
but a man. He was a naturalist indeed, of the newest and 
highest style, but that did not hinder his being a man at the 
same time. He and his company were the first that set the 
example of going, deliberately, and on principle, out of the 
human nature for knowledge ; but it was that they might re- 
return with better axioms for the culture, and nobility, and 
sway of that form, which, 'though it be but a part in the con- 
tinent of nature/ is as this one openly declares, * the end and 
term of ' natural PHILOSOPHY,' in the intention of MAN." 
His science included the humblest and least agreeable of na- 
ture's performances; his Novum Organum was able to take 
up the smallest conceivable atom of existence, whether animate 
or not, and make a study of it. He has no disrespect for 
caterpillars or any kind of worm or insect; but he is not a 
caterpillar himself, or an insect of any kind, or a Saurian, or 
an Icthyosaurian, but a man ; and it was for the sake of building 
up from a new basis a practical doctrine of human life, that 
he invented that instrument, and put so much fine work 
upon it. 

With his ' prerogative instances,' he will build height 
after height, the solid, but imperceptible stair-way to his summit 
of knowledges, so that men shall tread its utmost floors without 
knowing what heights they are — even as they tread great 
nature 's own solidities, without inquiring her secret. 

The shrewd unlearned man of practice shall take that 
great book of nature, that illustrated digest of it, on his knees, 
to while away his idle hours with, in rich pastime, and smile 
to see there, all written out, that which he faintly knew, and 
never knew that he knew before; he will find there in sharp 
points, in accumulations, and percussions, that which his own 
experience has at length wearily, dimly, worked and worn into 
him. It is his own experience, exalted indeed, and glorified, 


but it is that which beckons him on to that which is yet be- 
yond it; he shall read on, and smile, and laugh, and weep, 
and wonder at the power; but never dream that it is science, 
the new science — the science of nature — the product of the 
new organum of it applied to human nature, and human 
life. The abstract statement of that which the concrete 
exhibition veils, is indeed always there, though it lie never 
so close, in never so snug a corner; but it is there so artisti- 
cally environed, that the reader who is not ready for it, who 
has not learned to disengage the principle from the instance, 
who has had no hint of an illustrated tradition in it, will never 
see it ; or if he sees it, he will think it is there by accident, or 
inspiration, and pass on. 

Here, in this open treatise upon the art of delivering and 
teaching of knowledge, the author lays down, in the most 
impressive terms, the necessity of a style which shall serve as 
a veil of tradition, imperceptible or impenetrable to the un- 
initiated, and admitting l only such as have by the help of a 
master, attained to the interpretation of dark sayings, or are 
able by their own genius to enter within the veil'; and after 
having distributed under many heads, the secret of this 
method of scientific communication, he asserts distinctly that 
there is no other mode of dealing with the popular belief and 
preconception, but the one just described — that same method 
which the teachers of the people have always instinctively 
adopted, whenever that which was new and contrary to the 
received doctrines, was to be communicated. ' For a man of 
judgment/ he says, ' must, of course, perceive, that there 
should be a difference in the teaching and delivery of know- 
ledge, according to the presuppositions, which he finds infused 
and impressed upon the mind of the learner. For that which is 
new and foreign from opinions received, is to be delivered in 
ANOTHER EORM, from that which is agreeable and familiar. 
And, therefore, Aristotle, when he says to Democritus, * if we 
shall indeed dispute and not follow after similitudes,' as if he 
would tax Democritus with being too full of comparisons, 
where he thought to reprove, really commended him/ There 


is no use in disputing in such a case, he thinks. ' For those 
whose doctrines are already seated in popular opinion, have 
only to dispute or prove; but those whose doctrines are beyond 
the popular opinions,, have a double labour ; the one to make 
themselves conceived, and the other to prove and demonstrate ; 
so that it is of necessity with them to have recourse to similitudes 
and translations to express themselves. And, therefore, in 
the infancy of learning, and in rude times, when those concep- 
tions which are now trivial, were then new, the world was full 
of parables and similitudes, for else would men either have 
passed over without mark, or else rejected for paradoxes, 
that which was offered before they had understood or judged. 
So in divine learning, we see how frequent parables and 
tropes are, for it is a rule in the doctrine of delivery, that every 
science which is not consonant with presuppositions and preju- 
dices, must pray in aid of similes and allusions. 1 

The true master of the art of teaching will vary his method 
too, he tells us according to the subject which he handles, — 
and the reader should note particularly the illustration of this 
position, the instance of this general necessity, which the 
author selects for the sake of pointing his meaning here, for 
it is here — precisely here — that we begin to touch the heart 
of that new method which the new science itself prescribed, — 
\ the true teacher will vary his method according to the sub- 
ject which he handles,' for there is a great difference in the 
delivery of mathematics, which are the most abstracted of 
sciences, and policy, which is the most immersed, and the 
opinion that * uniformity of method, in multiformity of matter, 
is necessary, has proved very hurtful to learning, for it tends 
to reduce learning to certain empty and barren — note it, — 
barren — { generalities;' — (so important is the method as that ; 
that it makes the difference between the fruitful and the barren, 
between the old and the new) ' being but the very husks and 
shells of sciences, all the kernel being forced out and expressed 
with the torture and press of the method ; and, therefore, as I 
did allow well of particular topics for invention' — therefore — 
his science requires him to go into particulars, and as the neces- 


sary consequence of that, it requires freedom — 'therefore* — as I 
did allow well of particular topics of invention, 'so do I allow 
likewise of particular methods of tradition.' Elsewhere, — in 
his Novum Organum — he quotes the scientific outlines and 
divisions of this very book, he quotes the very draught and 
outline of the new human science, which is the principal thing 
in it, and tells us plainly that he is perfectly aware that those 
new divisions, those essential differences, those true and radical 
forms in nature, which he has introduced here, in his doctrine 
of human nature, will have no practical effect at all, as they 
are exhibited here ; because they are exhibited in this method 
which he is here criticising, that is, in empty and barren ab- 
stractions, — because it was impossible for him to produce here 
anything but the husks and shells of that principal science, all 
the kernel being forced out and expulsed with the torture and 
press of the method. But, at the same time, he gives us to 
understand, that these same shells and husks may be found in 
another place, with the kernels and nuts in them, and that he 
has not taken so much pains to let us see in so many places, 
what new forms of delivery the new philosophy will require, 
merely for the sake of letting us see, at the same time, that 
when it came to practice, he himself stood by the old ones, 
and contented himself with barren abstractions, and generali- 
ties, the husks and shells of sciences, instead of aiming at 
particulars, and availing himself of these 'particular methods of 

He takes also this occasion to recommend a method which 
was found extremely serviceable at that time; namely, the 
method of teaching by aphorism, ' without any show of an art 
or method ; not merely because it tries the author, since 
aphorisms being made out of the pith and heart of sciences, no 
man can write them who is not sound and grounded,' who has not 
a system with its trunk and root, though he makes no show of 
it, but buries it and shows you here and there the points on 
the surface that are apt to look as if they had some underlying 
connection — not only because it tries the author, but because 
they point to action ; for particulars being dispersed, do best 


agree with dispersed directions; and, moreover, aphorisms 
representing a broken knowledge, invite men to inquire 
farther, whereas methods, carrying the show of a total, do 
secure men as if they were at farthest, and it is the advance- 
ment of learning that he is proposing. 

He suggests again, distinctly here, the rule he so often 
claims he has himself put in practice, elsewhere, that the use 
of confutation in the delivery of science, ought to be very 
sparing; and to serve to remove strong preoccupations and 
prejudgments, and not to minister and excite disputations and 
doubts. For he says in another place, * As Alexander Borgia 
was wont to say of the expedition of the French for Naples, 
that they came with chalk in their hands, to mark up their 
lodgings, and not with weapons to fight, so / like better that 
entry of truth which cometh peaceably, with chalk to mark 
up those minds, which are capable to lodge and harbour it, 
than that which cometh with pugnacity and contention.' 

He alludes here too, in passing, to some other distinctions 
of method, which are already received, that of analysis and 
synthesis, or constitution, that of concealment , or cryptic, 
which he says ' he allows well of, though he has himself stood 
upon those which are least handled and observed.' He brings 
out his doctrine of the necessity of a method which shall in- 
clude particulars for practical purposes also, under another 
head: here it is the limit of rules, — the propositions or precepts 
of arts that he speaks of, and the degree of particularity which 
these precepts ought to descend to. ' For every knowledge/ 
he says, ' may be fitly said to have a latitude and longitude, 
accounting the latitude towards other sciences' (for there are 
rules and propositions of such latitude as to include all arts, all 
sciences) — ' and the longitude towards action, that is, from 
the greatest generality, to the most particular precept : and as 
to the degree of particularity to which a knowledge should 
descend/ though something must, of course, be left in 
all departments to the discretion of the practitioner, he 
thinks it is a question which will bear looking into in a 
general way; and that it might be possible to have rules in 



all departments, which would limit very much the necessity 
of individual experiment, and not leave us so much at the 
mercy of individual discretion in the most serious matters. 
Philosophy, as he finds it, does not appear to be very helpful 
to practice, on account of its keeping to those general propo- 
sitions, so much, as well as on some other accounts, and has 
fallen into bad repute, it seems, among men who find it ne- 
cessary to make, without science, as they best can, rules of 
some sort; — rules that are capable of dealing with that quality 
in particulars which is apt to be called obstinacy in this aspect 
of it. ' For we see remote and superficial generalities do but 
offer knowledge to scorn of practical men, and are no more 
aiding to practice, than an Ortelius's universal map is to direct 
the way between London and York.' And what is this itself but 
a universal map, this map of the advancement of learning? 

All this doctrine of the tradition of sciences, he produces 
under the head of the method of their tradition, but in speak- 
ing of the organ of it, he treats it exclusively as the medium 
of tradition for those sciences which require CONCEALMENT, or 
admit only of a suggestive exhibition. And as he makes, too, 
the claim that he has himself given practical proof, in passing, 
of his proficiency in this art, and appeals to the skilful for the 
truth of this statement, the passage, at least, in which this 
assertion is made, will be likely to repay the inquiry which 
it invites. 

He begins by drawing our attention to the fact, that words 
are not the only representatives of things, and he says ' this is 
not an inconsiderable thing, for while we are treating of the 
coin of intellectual matters, it is pertinent to observe, that as 
money may be made of other materials besides gold and silver, 
so other marks of things may be invented besides words and 
letters. And by way of illustrating the advantages of such a 
means of tradition, under certain disadvantages of position, 
he adduces as much in point, the case of Periander, who being 
consulted how to preserve a tyranny newly usurped, bid the 
messenger attend and report what he saw him do, and went into 
his garden and topped all the Highest flowers ; signifying that 


it consisted in the cutting off and keeping low of the nobility 
and grandees.' And thus other apparently trivial, purely 
purposeless and sportive actions, might have a traditionary 
character of no small consequence, if the messenger were 
only given to understand beforehand, that the acts thus per- 
formed were axiomatical, pointing to rules of practice, that 
the forms were representative forms, whose ' real' exhibition 
of the particular natures in question, was much more vivid 
and effective, much more memorable as well as safe, than any 
abstract statement of that philosophic truth, which is the 
truth of direction, could be. 

As to the ' accidents of words, which are measure, sound, and 
elevation of accent, and the sweetness and harshness of them/ 
even here the new science suggests a new rule, which is not 
without a remarkable relation to that 'particular method of tra- 
dition^ which the author tells us in another place, some parts 
of his new science required. ' This subject/ he says, ' in- 
volves some curious observations in rhetoric, but chiefly 
poesy, as we consider it in respect of the verse, and not of 
the argument ; wherein, though men in learned tongues do tie 
themselves to the ancient measures, yet in modern languages it 
seemeth to me as free to make new measures of verses as of 
dances? The spirit of the new philosophy had a chance to 
speak out there for once, without intending, of course, to 
transcend that particular limit just laid down, namely, the mea- 
sure of verses, and with that literal limitation, to the form 
of the verse, the remark is sufficiently suggestive; for he 
brings out from it at the next step, in the way of formula, 
the new principle, the new Shaksperian principle of rhetoric : 
* In these things the sense is better judge than the art. And of 
the servile expressing antiquity in an unlike and an unfit 
subject, it is well said: — ' Quod tempore antiquum videtur, id 
incongruitate est maxime novum.' ' 

But when he comes to speak specifically of writing as a 
means of tradition, he confines his remarks to that particular 
kind of writing, which is agreed on betwixt particular per- 
sons, and called by the name of cipher, giving excellent 



reasons for this proceeding, impertinent as it may seem, to 
those who think that his only object is to make out a list 
and 'muster-roll of the arts and sciences'; — stopping to tell us 
plainly that he knows what he is about, and that he has not 
brought in 'these private and retired arts/ with so much 
stress, and under so, many heads, in connection with 'the 
principal and supreme sciences,' and the mode of their tradition, 
without having some occasion for it. 

' Ciphers are commonly in letters, or alphabets, but may be 
in words/ he says, proceeding to enumerate the different 
kinds, and furnishing on the spot, some pretty specimens of 
what may be done in the way of that kind which he calls ' dou- 
bles,' a kind which he is particularly fond of; one hears again 
the echo of those delicate, collateral sounds, which our friend, 
over the mountains, warned us of, declining to say any more 
about them in that place. In the later edition, he takes occa- 
sion to say, in this connection, ' that as writing in the received 
manner no way obstructs the manner of pronunciation, but 
leaves that/ree, an innovation in it is of no purpose.' And if 
a cipher be the proper name for a private method of writing, 
agreed on betwixt particular persons, it is certainly the name 
for the method which he proposes to adopt in his tradition of 
the principal sciences; as he takes occasion to inform those 
whom it may concern, in an early portion of the work, and 
when he is occupied in the critical task of putting down some of 
the primary terms. ' I doubt not,' he says, by way of expla- 
nation, ' but it will easily appear to men of judgment, that in 
this and other particulars, wheresoever my conception and notion 
may differ from the ancient, I am studious to keep the ancient 
terms. 1 Surely there is no want of frankness here, so far as the 
men of judgment are concerned at least. And after condemn- 
ing those innovators who have taken a different course, he 
says again, ' But to me on the other side that do desire as 
much as lieth in my pen, to ground a sociable intercourse 
between antiquity and proficience, it seemeth best to keep way 
with antiquity usque ad aras; and therefore to retain the ancient 
terms, though I sometimes alter the uses and definitions, 
according to the moderate proceeding in civil government, 


where, although there be some alteration, yet that holdeth which 
Tacitus wisely noteth ' eadem magistratuum vocabula.' Surely 
that is plain enough, especially if one has time to take into 
account the force and historic reach of that last illustration, 
' eadem magistratuum vocabula.' 

In the later and enlarged edition of his work, he lays much 
stress upon the point that the cipher ' should be free from sus- 
picion,' for he says, ' if a letter should come into the hands of 
such as have a power over the writer or receiver, though the 
cipher itself be trusty and impossible to decipher, it is still sub- 
ject to examination and question, and (as he says himself), [ to 
avoid all suspicion, 1 he introduces there a cipher in letters, which 
he invented in his youth in Paris, ' having the highest perfec- 
tion of a cipher, that of signifying omnia per omnia;* and for 
the same reason perhaps, that of * avoiding all suspicion,' he 
quite omits there that very remarkable passage in the earlier 
work, in which he treats it as a medium of tradition, and takes 
pains to intimate his reasons for producing it in that connection, 
with the principal and supreme sciences. If it was, indeed, any 
object with him to avoid suspicion, and recent disclosures had 
then, perhaps, tended to sharpen somewhat the contemporary 
criticism; he did well, unquestionably, to omit that passage. 
But at the time when that was written, he appears to be chiefly 
inclined to notice the remarkable facilities, which this style 
offers to an inventive genius. For he says, ' in regard of the 
rawness and unskilfulness of the hands through which they pass, 
the greatest matters, are sometimes carried in the weakest 
ciphers. 1 And that there may be no difficulty or mistake as to 
the reading of that passage, he immediately adds, f In the 
enumeration of these private and retired arts, it may be 
thought I seek to make a great muster-roll of sciences, naming 
them for show and ostentation, and to little other purpose. 
But' — note it — f But, let those which are skilful in them judge, 
whether I bring them in only for appearance, or whether, in that 
which I speak of them, though in few words, there be not 
some seed of proficience. And this must be remembered, that 
as there be many of great account in their countries and 


provinces, which, when they come up to the seat of the estate, 
are but of mean rank, and scarcely regarded; so these arts, 
(' these private and retired arts,') being here placed with the 
principal and supreme sciences, seem petty things, YET TO SUCH 

(' Let those which are skilful in them, judge (after that) 
whether I bring them in only for appearance ' or to little other 
purpose ') . 

That apology would seem sufficient, but we must know 
what these labours and studies are, before we can perceive the 
depth of it. And if we have the patience to follow him but 
a step or two further, we shall find ourselves in the way of 
some very direct and accurate information, as to that. For 
we are coming now, in the order of the work we quote from, 
to that very part, which contains the point of all these labours 
and studies, the end of them, — that part to which the science 
of nature in general, and the secret of this art of tradition, 
was a necessary introduction.* 

Thus far, this art has been treated as a means of simply 
transferring knowledge, in such forms as the conditions of the 
Advancement of Learning prescribe, — forms adapted to the 
different stages of mental advancement, commencing with the 
lowest range of the common opinion in his time, — starting 
with the contemporary opinions of the majority, and reserving 
' the secrets of knowledges,' for such as are able to receive 
them. Thus far, it is the Method, and the Organ of the 
tradition of which he has spoken. But it is when he comes 
to speak of what he calls the Illustration of it, that the 
convergency of his design begins to be laid open to us, for 
this work is not what it may seem on the surface, as he takes 
pains to intimate to us — a ' mere muster-roll of sciences.' 

It is when he comes to tell us that he will have his ' truth 

* For this Art of Tradition makes the link between the new 
Logic and the application of it to Human Nature and Human 


in beauty dyed/ that he does not propose to have the new 
learning left in the form of argument and logic, or in the form 
of bare scientific fact, that he does not mean to appeal with it 
to the reason only; that he will have it in a form in which it 
will be able to attract and allure men, and make them in love 
with it, a form in which it will be able to force its way into the 
will and the affections, and make a lodgement in the hearts of 
men, long ere it is able to reach the judgment; — it is not till 
he begins to bring out here, his new doctrine of the true end 
of rhetoric, and the use to which it ought to be put in sub- 
ordination to science, that we begin to perceive the significance 
of the arrangement which brings this theory of an Illustrated 
Art of Tradition into immediate connection with the new 
science of human nature and human life which the Author is 
about to constitute, — so as to serve as an introduction to it — the 
arrangement which interposes this art of Tradition, between 
the New Logic and its application to Human Nature and 
Human Life — to folicy and morality. 

He will not consent to have this so powerful engine of 
popular influence, which the aesthetic art seems, to his eye, to 
offer, left out, in his scheme of scientific instrumentalities: he 
will not pass it by scornfully, as some other philosophers have 
done, treating it merely as a voluptuary art. He will have 
of it, something which shall differ, not in degree only, but in 
kind, from the art of the confectioner. 

He begins by stating frankly his reasons for making so much 
of it in this grave treatise, which is what it professes to be, 
a treatise on Learning and its Advancement. ' For although,' he 
says, ' in true value, it is inferior to wisdom, as it is said by 
God to Moses, when he disabled himself for want of this 
faculty, * Aaron shall be thy speaker, and thou shalt be to him 
as God; 3 yet with people it is the more mighty, and it is just 
that which is mighty with the people — which he tells us in 
another place — is wanting. ' For this people who knoweth 
not the law are cursed.' ' But here he continues, ' for so Solomon 
saith, ( Sapiens corde appellabitur prudens, sed dulcis eloquio 
majora reperiet;' signifying that profoundness of wisdom will 


help a man to a name or admiration/ — (it is something more 
than that which he is proposing as his end) — ' but that it is 
eloquence which prevails in active life; 1 so that the very move- 
ment which brought philosophy down to earth, and put her 
upon reforming the practical life of men, was the movement 
which led her to assume, not instinctively, only, but by theory, 
and on principle, this new and beautiful apparel, this deep 
disguise of pleasure. She comes into the court with her case, 
and claims that this Art, which has been treated hitherto 
as if it had some independent rights and laws of its own, is 
properly a subordinate of hers; a chattel gone astray, and 
setting up for itself as an art voluptuary. 

Works on rhetorics are not wanting, the author reports. 
Antiquity has laboured much in this field. Notwithstanding, 
he says, there is something to be done here too, and the Eliza- 
bethan aesthetics must be begun also in the prima philosophia. 
1 Notwithstanding/ he continues, ' to stir the earth a little 
about the roots of this science, as we have done of the rest; 
the duty and office of Rhetoric is to apply reason to- imagination 
for the better moving of the will ; for we see reason is dis- 
turbed in the administration of the will by three means; by 
sophism, which pertains to logic; by imagination or impres- 
sion, which pertains to rhetoric; and by passion or affection, 
which pertains to morality.' * So in this negotiation within 
ourselves, men are undermined by inconsequences, solicited and 
importuned by impressions and observations, and transported 
by passions. Neither is the nature of man so unfortunately 
built, as that these powers and arts should have force to disturb 
reason and not to establish and advance it. For the end of 
logic is to teach a form of logic to secure reason, not to entrap 
it. The end of morality is to procure the affections to obey 
reason, and not to invade it. The end of rhetoric is to fill the 
imagination to second reason, and not to oppress it. For these 
abuses of arts come in but ex obliquo for caution.' 

That is the real original English doctrine of Art : — that is 
the doctrine of the age of Elizabeth, at least, as it stands in 
that queen's English, and though it may be very far from 


being orthodox at present, it is the doctrine which must deter- 
mine the rule of any successful interpretation of works of art 
composed on that theory. ' And, therefore/ he proceeds to 
say, ' it was great injustice in Plato, though springing out of a 
just hatred of the rhetoricians of his time, to esteem of rhetoric 
but as a voluptuary art, resembling it to cookery that did mar 
wholesome meats, and help unwholesome, by variety of sauces 
to the pleasure of the taste? i And therefore, as Plato said 
eloquently, c That virtue, if she could be seen, would move 
great love and affection, so, seeing that she cannot be showed 
to the sense by corporal shape, the next degree is to show her 
to the imagination in lively representation : for to show her to 
reason only, in subtilty of alignment, was a thing ever derided 
in — Chrysippus and many of the Stoics — who thought to thrust 
virtue upon men by sharp disputations and conclusions, which 
have no sympathy with the will of man* 

1 Again, if the affections in themselves were pliant and 
obedient to reason, it were true there should be no great use 
of persuasions and injunctions to the will, more than of naked 
propositions and proofs ; but in regard of the continual muti- 
nies and seditions of the affections, 

Video meliora proboque 
Deteriora sequor ; 

Reason would become captive and servile, if eloquence of per- 
suasions did not practise and win the imagination from the 
affections part, and contract a confederacy between the reason 
and the imagination, against the affections ; for the affections 
themselves carry ever an appetite to good, as reason doth. The 
difference is — mark it — ' the difference is, that the affection 
beholdeth merely the present ; reason beholdeth the future and 
sum of time. And therefore the present filling the imagination 
most, reason is commonly vanquished ; but after that force of 
eloquence and persuasion hath made things future and remote, 
appear as present, then, upon the revolt of the imagination reason 
prevaileth. y Not less important than that is this art in his 
scheme of learning. No wonder that the department of learning 


which he refers to the imagination should take that prime 
place in his grand division of it, and be preferred deliberately 
and on principle to the two others. 

'Logic differeth from Khetoric chiefly in this, that logic 
handleth reason exact and in truth, and rhetoric handleth it 
as it is planted in popular opinions and manners. And there- 
fore Aristotle doth wisely place rhetoric as between logic on 
the one side, and moral or civil knowledge on the other, (and 
when we come to put'together the works of this author, we 
shall find that that and none other is the place it takes in his 
system, that that is just the bridge it makes in his plan of 
operations.) 'The proofs and demonstrations of logic are 
towards all men indifferent and the same : but the proofs and 
persuasions of rhetoric ought to differ according to the auditors. 

Orpheus in sylvis inter delphinas Arion. 

Which application, in perfection of idea, ought to extend so 
far, that if a man should speak of the same thing to several per- 
sons, he should speak to them all respectively, and several ways; 1 
and there was a great folio written on this plan which came 
out in those days dedicated c to the Great Variety of Eeaders. 
From the most able to him that can but spell' ; (this is just the 
doctrine, too, which the Continental philosopher sets forth we 
see); — though this c politic part of eloquence in private speech,' 
he goes on to say here, ' it is easy for the greatest orators to 
want ; whilst by observing their well graced forms of speech, they 
lose the volubility of application ; and therefore it shall not 
be amiss to recommend this to better inquiry, not being curious 
whether we place it here, or in that part which concerneth 
policy 1 

Certainly one would not be apt to infer from that decided 
preference which the author himself manifests here for those 
stately and well-graced forms of speech, judging merely from 
the style of this performance at least, one would not be in- 
clined to suspect that he himself had ever been concerned in 
any literary enterprises, or was like to be, in which that volu- 
bility of application which he appears to think desirable, was 


successfully put in practice. But we must remember, that he 
was just the man who was capable of conceiving of a variety 
of styles adapted to different exigencies, if we would have the 
key to this style in particular. 

But we must look a little at these labours and studies them- 
selves, which required such elaborate and splendid arts of 
delivery, if we would fully satisfy ourselves, as to whether 
this author really had any purpose after all in bringing them 
in here beyond that of mere ostentation, and for the sake of 
completing his muster-roll of the sciences. Above, we see an 
intimation, that the divisions of the subject are, after all, not 
so l curious' but that the inquiry might possibly be resumed 
again in other connections, and in the particular connection 
specified, namely, in that part which concerneth Policy. 

In that which follows, the new science of human nature 
and human life — which is the end and term of this trea- 
tise, we are told — is brought out under the two heads of 
Morality and Policy; and it is necessary to look into both 
these departments in order to find what application he was 
proposing to make of this art and science of Tradition and 
Delivery, and in order to see what place — what vital place 
it occupied in his system. 



'Policy is the most immersed.' — Advancement of Learning. 

REVERSING the philosophic order, we glance first into 
that new department of science which the author is here 
boldly undertaking to constitute under the above name, be- 
cause in this his own practical designs, and rules of proceeding, 
are more clearly laid open, and the place which is assigned in 
his system to that radical science, for which these arts of 
Delivery and Tradition are chiefly wanting, is distinctly 
pointed out. 

And, moreover, in this department of Policy itself, in mark- 
ing out one of the grand divisions of it, we find him particu- 
larly noticing, and openly insisting on, the form of delivery 
and inculcation which the new science must take here, that is, 
if it is going to be at all available as a science of practice. 

In this so-called plan for the advancement of learning, the 
author proceeds, as we all know, by noticing the deficiencies 
in human learning as he finds it; and everywhere it is that 
radical deficiency, which leaves human life and human 
conduct in the dark, while the philosophers are busied with 
their controversies and wordy speculations. And in that part 
of his inventory where he puts down as wanting a science of 
practice in those every-day affairs and incidents, in which the 
life of man is most conversant, embodying axioms of practice 
that shall save men the wretched mistakes and blunders of 
which the individual life is so largely made up; blunders 
which are inevitable, so long as men are left here, to na- 
tural human ignorance, to uncollected individual experience, 
or to the shrewdest empiricism; — in this so original and in- 
teresting part of the work, he takes pains to tell us at length, 


that that which he has before put down under the head of 
* delivery 3 as a point of form and method, becomes here essen- 
tial as a point of substance also. It is not merely that he will 
have his axioms and precepts of direction digested from the 
facts, instead of being made out of the teacher's own brains, 
but he will have the facts themselves, in all their stub- 
bornness and opposition to the teacher's preconceptions, for 
the body of the discourse, and the precepts accommodated 
thereto, instead of having the precepts for the body of the 
discourse, and the facts brought in to wait upon them. That 
is the form of the practical doctrine. 

He regrets that this part of a true learning has not been 
collected hitherto into writing, to the great derogation of 
learning, and the professors of learning ; for from this proceeds 
the popular opinion which has passed into an adage, that there 
is no great concurrence between wisdom and learning. The 
deficiency here is well nigh total he says : ' but for the wisdom 
of business, wherein man's life is most conversant, there be no 
books of it, except some few scattered advertisements, that 
have no proportion to the magnitude of the subject. For if 
books were written of this, as of the other, I doubt not but 
learned men with mean experience would far excel men of long 
experience without learning, and outshoot them with their own 
bom. Neither need it be thought that this knowledge is too 
variable to fall under precept,' he says; and he mentions the 
fact, that in old Rome, so renowned for practical ability, in 
its wisest and saddest times, there were professors of this learn- 
ing, that were known for general wise men, who used to 
walk at certain hours in the place, and give advice to private 
citizens, who came to consult with them of the marriage of a 
daughter, for instance, or the employing of a son, or of an accu- 
sation, or of a purchase or bargain, and every other occasion 
incident to man's life. There is a pretty scheme laid out truly. 
Have we any general wise man, or ghost of one, who walks 
up and down at certain hours and gives advice on such topics ? 
However that may be, this philosopher does not despair of 
such a science. ' So,' he says, commenting on that Eoman 
custom, ' there is a wisdom of council and advice, even in 


private cases, arising out of a universal insight into the affairs 
of the world, which is used indeed upon particular cases pro- 
pounded, but is gathered by general observation of cases of like 
nature' And fortifying himself with the example of Solomon, 
after collecting a string of texts from the Sacred Proverbs, 
he adds, f though they are capable, of course, of a more divine 
interpretation, taking them as instructions for life, they might 
have received large discourse, if he would have broken them 
and illustrated them, by deducements and examples. Nor was 
this in use with the Hebrews only, but it is generally to be 
found in the wisdom of the more ancient times, that as men 
found out any observation that they thought was good for life, 
they would gather it, and express it in parable, or aphorism, or 

But for fables, they were vicegerents and supplies, where 
examples failed. Now that the times abound with history, 

therefore, he recommends as the form of writing, ' which is of 
all others fittest for this variable argument, discourses upon 
histories and examples: for knowledge drawn freshly, and in 
our view, out of particulars, knoweth the way best to particulars 
again; and it hath much greater life for practice, when the 
discourse attendeth upon the example, than when the example 
attendeth upon the discourse. For this is no point of order 
as it seemeth at first ' (indeed it is not, it is a point as sub- 
stantial as the difference between the old learning of the world 
and the new) — ' this is no point of order, but of substance. 
For when the example is the ground being set down in a his- 
tory at large, it is set down with all circumstances, which may 
sometimes control the discourse thereupon made, and sometimes 
supply it as a very pattern for action; whereas the examples 
which are alleged for the discourse's sake, are cited succinctly 
and without particularity, and carry a servile aspect towards the 
discourse which they are brought in to make good.' 

The question of method is here, as we see, incidentally in- 
troduced; but it is to be noted, and it makes one of the rules 
for the interpretation of that particular kind of style which is 
under consideration, that in this casual and secondary intro- 


duction of a subject, we often get shrewder hints of the 
author's real intention than we do in those parts of the work 
where it is openly and distinctly treated ; at least, these scat- 
tered and apparently accidental hints, — these dispersed direc- 
tions, often contain the key for the ' second ' reading, which he 
openly bespeaks for the more open and elaborate discussion. 

And thus we are able to collect, from every part of this 
proposal for a practical and progressive human learning, based 
on the defects of the unpractical and stationary learning which 
the world has hitherto been contented with, the author's 
opinion as to the form of delivery and inculcation best adapted 
to effect the proposed object under the given conditions. This 
question of form runs naturally through the whole work, and 
comes out in specifications of a very particular and significant 
kind under some of its divisions, as we shall see. But every- 
where we find the point insisted on, which we have just seen 
so clearly brought out, in the department which was to contain 
the axioms of success in private life. Whatever the particular 
form may be, everywhere we come upon this general rule. 
Whatever the particular form may be, everywhere it is to be 
one in which the facts shall have the precedence, and the con- 
clusions shall follow; and not one in which the conclusions 
stand first, and the facts are brought in to make them good. 
And this very circumstance is enough of itself to show that 
the form of this new doctrine will be thus far new, as new 
as the doctrine itself; that the new learning will be found in 
some form very different, at least, from that which the philo- 
sophers and professed teachers were then making use of in their 
didactic discourses, in some form so much more lively than that, 
and so much less oracular, that it would, perhaps, appear at first, 
to those accustomed only to the other, not to be any kind of 
learning at all, but something very different from that. 

But this is not the only point in the general doctrine of 
delivery which we find produced again in its specific appli- 
cations. Through all the divisions of this discourse on Learn- 
ing, and not in that part of it only in which the Art of its 
Tradition is openly treated, we find that the prescribed form 
of it is one which will adapt it to the popular preconceptions; 


and that it must be a form which will make it not only uni- 
versally acceptable, but universally attractive; that it is not 
only a form which will throw open the gates of the new school 
to all comers, but one that will bring in mankind to its benches. 
Not under the head of Method only, or under the head of 
Delivery and Tradition, but in those parts of the work in 
which the substance of the new learning is treated, we find 
dispersed intimations and positive assertions, that the form of 
it is, at the same time, popular and enigmatical, — not openly 
philosophical, and not ' magisterial,' — but insensibly didactic; 
and that it is, in its principal and higher departments — in those 
departments on which this plan for the human relief concen- 
trates its forces — essentially poetical. That is what we 
find in the body of the work ; and the author repeats in detail 
what he has before made a point of telling us, in general, 
under this head of Delivery and Tradition of knowledge, that 
he sees no reason why that same instrument, which is so 
powerful for delusion and error, should not be restored to its 
true uses as an instrument of the human advancement, and a 
vehicle, though a veiled one — a beautiful and universally- 
welcome vehicle — for bringing in on this Globe Theatre the 
knowledges that men are most in need of. 

The doctrine which is to be conveyed in this so subtle and 
artistic manner is none other than the Doctrine of Human 
Nature and Human Life, or, as this author describes it 
here, the Scientific Doctrine of Morality and Policy. It 
is that new doctrine of human nature and human life 
which the science of nature in general creates. It is the 
light which universal science, collected from the continent of 
nature, gives to that insular portion of it ' which is the end 
and term of natural philosophy in the intention of man.' 
Under these heads of Morality and Policy, the whole subject 
is treated here. But to return to the latter. 

The question of Civil Government is, in the light of this 
science, a very difficult one ; and this philosopher, like the one 
we have already quoted on this subject, is disposed to look with 
much suspicion on propositions for violent and sudden renova- 
tions in the state, and immediate abolitions and cures of social 


evil. He too takes a naturalist's estimate of those larger wholes, 
and their virtues, and faculties of resistance. 

' Civil knowledge is conversant about a subject,' he says, 
1 which is, of all others, most immersed in matter, and hardliest 
reduced to axiom. Nevertheless, as Cato, the censor, said, 
( that the Romans were like sheep, for that a man might 
better drive a flock of them than one of them, for, in a flock, 
if you could get SOME few to go right, the rest would follow ;' 
so in that respect, moral philosophy is more difficile than 
policy. Again, moral philosophy propoundeth to itself the 
framing of internal goodness, but civil knowledge requireth 
only an external goodness, for that, as to society, sufficeth. 
Again, States, as great engines, move slowly, and are not so 
soon put out of frame;' (that is what our foreign statist thought 
also) ' 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 the resolution of particular 
persons is more suddenly subverted. These respects do somewhat 
qualify the extreme difficulty of civil knowledge.' 

This is the point of attack, then, — this is the point of 
scientific attack, — the resolution of particular persons. He has 
showed us where the extreme difficulty of this subject appears 
to lie in his mind, and he has quietly pointed, at the same time, 
to that place of resistance in the structure of the state, which 
is the key to the whole position. He has marked the spot 
exactly where he intends to commence his political operations. 
For he has discovered a point there, which admits of being 
operated on, by such engines as a feeble man like him, or a 
few such together, perhaps, may command. It is the new 
science that they are going to converge on that point precise- 
ly, namely the resolution of particular persons. It is the 
novum oryanum that this one is bringing up, in all its finish, 
for the assault of that particular quarter. Hard as that old 
wall is, great as the faculty of conservation is in these old 
structures that hold by time, there is one element running all 
through it, these chemists find, which is within their power, 
namely, the resolution of particular persons. It is the science 



of the conformation of the parts, it is the constitutional struc- 
ture of the human nature, which, in its scientific development, 
makes men, naturally, members of communities, beautiful and 
felicitous parts of states,— it is that which the man of science 
will begin with. If you will let him have that part of the 
field to work in undisturbed, he will agree not to meddle with 
the state. And beside those general reasons, already quoted, 
which tend to prevent him from urging the immediate appli- 
cation of his science to this ' larger whole,' for its wholesale 
relief and cure, he ventures upon some specifications and 
particulars, when he comes to treat distinctly of government 
itself, and assign to it its place in his new science of affairs. If 
one were to judge by the space he has openly given it on his 
paper in this plan for the human advancement and relief, one 
would infer that it must be a very small matter in his estimate 
of agencies; but looking,a little more closely, we find that it is 
not that at all in his esteem, that it is anything but a matter of 
little consequence. It was enough for him, at such a time, to be 
allowed to put down the fact that the art of it was properly 
scientific, and included in his plan, and to indicate the kind of 
science that is wanting to it; for the rest, he gives us to under- 
stand that he has himself fallen on such felicitous times, and finds 
that affair in the hands of a person so extremely learned in it, 
that there is really nothing to be said. And being thrown 
into this state of speechless reverence and admiration, he con- 
siders that the most meritorious thing he can do, is to pass to 
the other parts of his discourse with as little delay as possible. 
It is a very short paragraph indeed for so long a subject; 
but, short as it is, it is not less pithy, and it contains reasons 
why it should not be longer, and why that new torch of 
science which he is bringing in upon the human affairs gene- 
rally, cannot be permitted to enter that department of them in 
his time. f The first is, that it is a part of knowledge secret 
and retired in both those respects in which things are deemed 
secret; for some things are secret because they are hard to 
know, and some because they are not fit to utter. Again, the 
wisdom of antiquity ', the shadows whereof are in the Poets, in 


the description of torments and pains, next unto the crime of 
rebellion, which was the giants' offence, doth detest the crime 
of futility, as in Sisyphus and Tantalus. But this was meant 
of particulars. Nevertheless, even unto the general rules and 
discourses of policy and government, [it extends ; for even here] 
there is due a reverent handling/ And after having briefly 
indicated the comprehension £ of this science,' and shown that 
it is the thing he is treating under other heads, he con- 
cludes, ' but considering that / write to a king who is a master 
of it, and is so well assisted, I think it decent to pass over this 
part in silence, as willing to obtain the certificate which one 
of the ancient philosophers aspired unto; who being silent 
when others contended to make demonstration of their 
abilities by speech, desired it might be certified for his part 
( that there was one that knew how to hold his peace.' 

And having thus distinctly cleared himself of any suspicion 
of a disposition to introduce scientific inquiry and innovation 
into departments not then open to a procedure of that sort, 
his proposal for an advancement of learning in other quarters 
was, of course, less liable to criticism. But even that part of 
the subject to which he limits himself involves, as we shall see, 
an incidental reference to this, from which he here so modestly 
retires, and affords no inconsiderable scope for that genius 
which was by nature so irresistibly impelled, in one way or 
another, to the criticism and reformation of the larger wholes. 
Pie retires from the open assault, but it is only to go deeper 
into his subject. He is constituting the science of that from 
which the state proceeds. He is analyzing the state, and 
searching out in the integral parts of it, that which makes true 
states impossible. He has found the revolutionary forces in 
their simple forms, and is content to treat them in these. He 
is bestowing all his pains upon an art that will develop — on 
scientific principles, by simply attending to the natural laws, 
as they obtain in the human kind, royalties, and nobilities, 
and liege-men of all degrees — an art that will make all kinds 
of pieces that the structure of the state requires. 

H 2 





' Nature craves 
All dues to be rendered to their owners.' 

BUT tins great innovator is busying himself here with 
drawing up a report of THE DEFICIENCIES IN LEARN- 
ING; and though he is the first to propose a plan and method 
by which men shall build up, systematically and scientifically, 
a knowledge of Nature in general, instead of throwing them- 
selves altogether upon their own preconceptions and abstract 
controversial theories, after all, the principal deficiency which 
he has to mark — that to which, even in this dry report, he 
finds himself constrained to affix some notes of admiration — 
this principal deficiency is the Science of Man — the 
SCIENCE of human nature itself. And the reason of this 
deficiency is, that very deficiency before named; it is that 
very act of shutting himself up to his own theories which 
leaves the thinker without a science of himself. ' For it is the 
greatest proof of want of skill, to investigate the nature of any 
object in itself alone; and, in general, those very things which 
are considered as secret, are manifested and common in other 
objects, but will never be clearly seen if the contemplations and 
experiments of men be directed to themselves alone. 7 It is this 
science of Nature in general which makes the science 
of Human Nature for the first time possible; and that is 
the end and term of the new philosophy, — so the inventor of 
it tells us. And the moment that he comes in with that new 
torch, which he has been out into f the continent of nature ' to 
light, — the moment that he comes back with it, into this old 
debateable ground of the schools, and begins to apply it to 


that element in the human life in which the scientific inno- 
vation appears to be chiefly demanded, ' most of the contro- 
vies,' as he tells us very simply — 'most of the controversies, 
wherein moral philosophy is conversant, are judged and deter- 
mined by it.' 

But here is the bold and startling criticism with which he 
commences his approach to this subject; here is the ground 
which he makes at the first step ; this is the ground of his 
scientific innovation ; not less important than this, is the field 
which he finds unoccupied. In the handling of this science he 
says, (the science of ' the Appetite and Will of Man'), ' those 
which have written seem to me to have done as if a man that 
professed to teach to write did only exhibit fair copies of alpha- 
bets and letters joined, without giving any precepts or direc- 
tions for the carriage of the hand, or the framing of the letters; 
so have they made good and fair exemplars and copies, carrying 
the draughts and portraitures of good, virtue, duty , felicity ; pro- 
pounding them, well described, as the true objects and scopes 
of man's will and designs; but how to attain these excellent 
marks, and how to frame and subdue the will of man to become 
true and conformable to these pursuits, they pass it over alto- 
gether, or slightly and unprofitably ; for it is not,' he says, 
'certain scattered glances and touches that can excuse the 
absence of this part of — science. 

1 The reason of this omission/ he supposes, ' to be that 
hidden rock, whereupon both this and many other barks of 
knowledge have been cast away, which is, that men have 
despised to be conversant in ordinary and common matters, the 
judicious direction whereof, nevertheless, is the wisest doctrine; 
for life consisteth not in novelties nor subtleties, but, contrari- 
wise, they have compounded sciences chiefly of a certain re- 
splendent or lustrous mass of matter, chosen to give glory either 
to the subtlety of disputations, or to the eloquence of discourses.' 
But his theory of teaching is, that 4 Doctrine should be such 
as should make men in love with the lesson, and not with the 
teacher ; being directed to the auditor's benefit, and not to the 
author's commendation. Neither needed men of so excellent 


parts to have despaired of a fortune which the poet Virgil 
promised himself, and, indeed, obtained, who got as much 
glory of eloquence, wit, and learning, in the expressing of the 
observations of husbandry as of the herokal acts of Mneas. 

1 Nee sum animi dubius, verbis ea vincere magnum 
Quam sit, et angustis hunc acldere rebus honorum.' ' 

Georg. iii. 289. 

So, then, there is room for a new Virgil, but his theme is 
here; — one who need not despair, if he be able to bring to his 
subject those excellent parts this author speaks of, of getting 
as much glory of eloquence, wit, and learning, in the express- 
ing of the observations of this husbandry, as those have had 
who have sketched the ideal forms of the human life, the 
dream of what should be. The copies and exemplars of good, 
— that vision of heaven, — that idea of felicit}', and beauty, 
and goodness that the human soul brings with it, like a 
memory, — those celestial shapes that the thought and heart 
of man, by a law in nature, project, — that garden of delights 
that all men remember, and yearn for, and aspire to, and will 
have, in one form or another, in delicate air patterns, or 
gross deceiving images, — that large, intense, ideal good which 
men desire — that perfection and felicity, so far above the rude 
mocking realities which experience brings them, — that, that 
has had its poets. No lack of these exemplars the historian 
finds, when he comes to make out his report of the con- 
dition of his kind — where he comes to bring in his inventory 
of the human estate: when so much is wanting, that good he 
reports ' not deficient.' Edens in plenty, — gods, and demi-gods, 
and heroes, not wanting; the purest abstract notions of virtue 
and felicity, the most poetic embodiments of them, are put 
down among the goods which the human estate, as it is, 
comprehends. This part of the subject appears, to the critical 
reviewer, to have been exhausted by the poets and artists that 
mankind has always employed to supply its wants in this field. 
No room for a poet here ! The draught of the ideal Eden is 
finished; — the divine exemplar is finished; that which is 
wanting is, — the husbandry thereunto. 


Till now, the philosophers and poetic teachers had always 
taken their stand at once, on the topmost peak of Olympus, 
pouring down volleys of scorn, and amazement, and reprehen- 
sion, upon the vulgar nature they saw beneath, made out of 
the dust of the ground, and qualified with the essential attri- 
butes of that material, — kindled, indeed, with a breath of 
heaven, but made out of clay, — different kinds of clay, — 
with more or less of the .Promethean spark in it; but always 
clay, of one kind or another, and always compelled to listen 
to the laws that are common to the kinds of that substance. 
And it was to this creature, thus bound by nature, thus doubly 
bound, — • crawling between earth and heaven,' as the poet 
has it, — that these winged philosophers on the ideal cliffs, 
thought it enough to issue their mandates, commanding it to 
renounce its conditions, to ignore its laws, and come up thither 
at a word, — at a leap, — making no ado about it. 

* I can call spirits from the vasty deep.' 
' And so can I, and so can any man ; ' 
Says the new philosopher — 
'But will they come 1 
Will they come — when you do call for them 1 ' 

It was simply a command, that this dirty earth should con- 
vert itself straight into Elysian lilies, and bloom out, at a word, 
with roses of Paradise. Excellent patterns, celestial exemplars, 
of the things required were held up to it ; and endless decla- 
mation and argument why it should be that, and not the other, 
were not wanting: — but as to any scientific inquiry into the 
nature of the thing on which this form was to be superin- 
duced, as to any scientific exhibition of the form itself which 
was to be superinduced, these so essential conditions of the pro- 
posed result, were in this case alike wanting. The position 
which these reformers occupy, is one so high, that the question 
of different kinds of soils, and chemical analyses and experi- 
ments, would not come within their range at all; and 'the 
resplendent or lustrous mass of matter,' of which their 
sciences are compounded, chosen to give glory either to the 
subtilty of disputations or to the eloquence of discourses, would 


not bear any such vulgar admixture. It would make a terrible 
jar in the rhythm, which those large generalizations naturally 
flow in, to undertake to introduce into them any such points 
of detail. 

And the new teacher will have a mountain too ; but it will 
be one that ' overlooks the vale,' and he will have a rock-cut- 
stair to its utmost summit. He is one who will undertake this 
despised unlustrous matter of which our ordinary human life 
consists, and make a science of it, building up its generaliza- 
tions from ils particulars, and observing the actual reality, — 
the thing as it is, freshly, for that purpose ; and not omitting 
any detail, — the poorest. The poets who had undertaken this 
theme before had been so absorbed with the idea of what man 
should be, that they could only glance at him as he is : the idea 
of a science of him, was not of course, to be thought of. There 
was but one name for the creature, indeed, in their vocabulary 
and doctrine, and that was one which simply seized and embodied 
the general fact, the unquestionable historic fact, that he has 
not been able hitherto to attain to his ideal type in nature, or 
indeed to make any satisfactory approximation to it. 

But when the Committee of Inquiry sits at last, and the 
business begins to assume a systematic form, even the science 
of that ideal good, that exemplar and pattern of good, which 
men have been busy on so long, — the science of it, — is put 
down as f wanting,' and the science of the husbandry thereunto, 
1 wholly deficient.^ 

And the report is, that this new argument, notwithstanding 
its every-day theme, is one that admits of being sung also ; and 
that the Virgil who is able to compose ' these Georgics of the 
Mind,' may promise himself fame, though his end is one that 
will enable him to forego it. Let us see if we can find any 
further track of him and his great argument, whether in prose 
or verse; — this poet who cares not whether he has his ' singing 
robes' about him or not, so he can express and put upon record 
his new ' observations of this husbandry.' 

I. The exemplar of good. — ' And surely,' he continues, 
' if the purpose be in good earnest, not to write at leisure that 


which men may read at leisure 1 — note it — that which men may- 
read at leisure — 'but really to instruct and suborn action and 
active life, these georgics of the mind, concerning the hus- 
bandry and tillage thereof, are no less worthy than the heroical 
descriptions of virtue, duty, and felicity ; therefore the main and 
primitive division of moral knowledge, seemeth to be into 


or culture of THE mind, the one describing the nature 
of good, the other prescribing rules how to subdue, apply, 


As to l the nature of good, positive or simple/ the writers on 
this subject have, he says, ' set it down excellently, in describ- 
ing the forms of virtue and duty, with their situations, and 
postures, in distributing them into their kinds, parts, pro- 
vinces, actions, and administrations, and the like : nay, farther, 
they have commended them to man's nature and spirit, with 
great quickness of argument, and beauty of persuasions ; yea, 
and fortified and entrenched them, as much as discourse can do, 
against corrupt and popular opinions. And for the degrees 
and comparative nature of good, they have excellently handled 
it also.' — That part deserveth to be reported for ' excellently 

What is it that is wanting then? What radical, fatal defect 
is it that he finds even in the doctrine of the nature of 
GOOD? What is the difficulty with this platform and exemplar 
of good as he finds it, notwithstanding the praise he has be- 
stowed on it ? The difficulty is, that it is not scientific. It is 
not broad enough. It is special, it is limited to the species, 
but it is not properly, it is not effectively, specific, because it 
is not connected with the doctrine of nature in general. It 
does not strike to those universal original principles, those 
simple powers which determine the actual historic laws and 
make the nature of things itself. This is the criticism, there- 
fore, with which this critic of the learning of the world as he 
finds it, is constrained to qualify that commendation. 

Notwithstanding, if before they had come to the popular and 
received notions of ' vice 1 and 'virtue] 'pleasure* and 'pain, 1 and 


the rest, they had stayed a little longer upon the inquiry con- 
cerning the roots of GOOD and evil, and the strings to 
those roots, they had given, in my opinion, a great light to 
that which followed, and especially if they had consulted with 
nature, they had made their doctrines less prolix and more pro- 
found, which being by them in part omitted, and in part 
handled with much confusion, we will endeavour to resume 
and open in a more clear manner.' Here then, is the prepa- 
ration of the Platform or Exemplar of Good, the scientific 
platform of virtue and felicity; going behind the popular 
notion of vice and virtue, pain and pleasure, and the like, 
he strikes at once to the nature of good, as it is ' formed in 
everything,' for the foundation of this specific science. He 
lays the beams of it, in the axioms and definitions of his 
' prima philosophia' 'which do not fall within the compass of 
of the special parts of science, but are more common and of a 
higher stage, for ' the distributions and partitions of know- 
ledges are not like several lines that meet in one angle, and 
so touch but in a point, but are like branches of a tree that 
meet in a stem which hath a dimension and quantity of entire- 
ness and continuance before it comes to discontinue and break 
itself into arms and boughs/ and it is not the narrow and spe- 
cific observation on which the popular notions are framed, but 
the scientific, which is needed for the New Ethics, — the new 
knowledge, which here too, is power. He must detect and 
recognise here also, he must track even into the nature of man, 
those universal ' footsteps ' which are but ' the same footsteps of 
nature treading or printing in different substances.' ' There is 
formed in everything a double nature of good, the one as every- 
thing is a total or substantive in itself, and the other, as it is a 
part or member of a greater body whereof the latter is in 
degree the greater and the worthier, because it tendeth to the 

conservation of a more general form This double nature 

of good, and the comparison thereof, is much more engraven 
upon MAN, if he degenerate not, unto whom the conservation of 
duty to the public, ought to be much more precious than the 
conservation of life and being ;' and, by way of illustration, he 


mentions first the case of Pompey the Great, 'who being in 
commission of purveyance for a famine at Kome, and being dis- 
suaded with great vehemency by his friends, that he should not 
hazard himself to sea in an extremity of weather, he said 
only to them, 'Necesse est ut earn, non ut vivam? \ But,' he adds, 
\ it nmy be truly affirmed, that there was never any philosophy, 
religion, or other discipline, which did so plainly and highly 
exalt the good which is communicative, and depress the good 
which is private and particular, as the holy faith, well declaring 
that it was the same Go^that gave the Christian law to men, who 
gave those laws of nature to inanimate creatures that we spake 
of before ; for we read that the elected saints of God have wished 
themselves anathematised, and razed out of the book of life, in 
an ecstasy of charity, and infinite feeling of communion.' 

And having first made good his assertion, that this being 
set down, and strongly planted, determines most of the contro- 
versies wherein moral philosophy is conversant, he proceeds to 
develop still further these scientific notions of good and evil, 
which he has gone below the popular notions and into the 
nature of things to find, these scientific notions, which, because 
they are scientific, he has still to go out of the specific nature 
to define; and when he comes to nail down his scientific plat- 
form of the human good with them, when he comes to strike 
their clear and simple lines, deep as the universal constitu- 
tion of things, through the popular terms, and clear up the old 
confused theories with them, we find that what he said of 
them beforehand was true; they do indeed throw great light 
upon that which follows. 

To that exclusive, incommunicative good which inheres in 
the private and particular nature, — and he does not call it any 
hard names at all from his scientific platform; indeed in the 
vocabulary of the Naturalist we are told, that these names are 
omitted, ' for we call a nettle but a nettle, and the faults of 
fools their folly,' — that exclusive good he finds both passive 
and active, and this also is one of those primary distinctions 
which ' is formed in all things/ and so too is the subdivision 
of passive good which follows. ' For there is impressed upon 


all things a triple desire, or appetite, proceeding from love to 
themselves^ one, of preserving and continuing their form; 
another, of advancing and perfecting their form; and a third, 
of multiplying and extending their form upon other things; 
whereof the multiplying or signature of it upon other things, 
is that which we handled by the name of active good.' But 
passive good includes both conservation and perfection, or 
advancement, which latter is the highest degree of passive 
good. For to preserve in state is the less; to preserve with 
advancement is the greater. As to man, his approach or 
assumption to divine or angelical nature is the perfec- 
tion of his form, the error or false imitation of which good is 
that which is the tempest of human life.' So we have heard 
before; but in the doctrine which we had before, it was the 
dogma, — the dogma whose inspiration and divinity each soul 
recognized; to whose utterance each soul responded, as deep 
calleth unto deep, — it was the Law, the Divine Law, and not 
the science of it, that was given. 

And having deduced ' that good of man which is private 
and particular, as far as seemeth fit/ he returns f to that good 
of man which respects and beholds society,' which he terms 
' Duty, because the term of duty is more proper to a mind 
well framed and disposed towards others, as the term of Virtue 
is applied to a mind well formed and composed in itself; though 
neither can a man understand virtue, without some relation to 
society, nor duty, without an inward disposition. 

But he wishes us to understand and remember, now that he 
comes out of the particular nature, and begins to look towards 
society with this term of Duty, that he is still dealing with 
{ the will of particular persons,' that it is still the science of 
morals, and not politics, that he is meddling with. ' This part 
may seem at first/ he says, ' to pertain to science civil and 
politic, but not if it be well observed ; for it concerneth the 
regiment and government of every man over himself } and not 
over others. And this is the plan which he has marked out 
in his doctrine of government as the most hopeful point in 
which to commence political reformations; and one cannot but 


observe, that if this art and science should be successfully cul- 
tivated, the one which he dismisses so briefly would be cleared 
at once of some of those difficulties, which rendered any more 
direct treatment of it at that time unadvisable. This part of 
learning concerneth then ' the regiment and government of 
every man over himself, and not over others.' ' As in archi- 
tecture the direction of the framing the posts, beams, and other 
parts of building, is not the same with the manner of joining 
them and erecting the building; and in mechanicals, the di- 
rection how to frame an instrument or engine is not the 
same with the manner of setting it on work, and employing it; 
and yet, nevertheless, in expressing of the one, you incidentally 
express the aptness towards the other [hear] so the doctrine of 
the conjugation of men in society diflereth from that of their 
conformity thereunto' The received doctrine of that conjuga- 
tion certainly appeared to ; and the more this scientific doctrine 
of the parts, and the conformity thereunto, is incidentally 
expressed, — the more the scientific direction how to frame the 
instrument or engine, is opened, the more this difference be- 
comes apparent. 

But even in limiting himself to the individual human 
nature as it is developed in particular persons, regarding 
society only as it is incidental to that, even in putting down 
his new scientific platform of the good that the appetite and 
will of man naturally seeks, and in marking out scientifically 
its degrees and kinds, he gives us an opportunity to perceive in 
passing, that he is not altogether without occasion for the use 
of that particular art, with its peculiar ' organs' and ' methods' 
and * illustration,' which he recommends under so many heads 
in his treatise on that subject, for the delivery or tradition 
of knowledges, which tend to innovation and advancement — 
knowledges which are ( progressive' and ( foreign from opinions 

This doctrine of duty is sub-divided into two parts; the 
common duty of every man as a man, or A member of A 
STATE, which is that part of the platform and exemplar of 
good, he has before reported as c extant, and well laboured/ 


the other is the respective or special duty of every man in his 
PROFESSION, VOCATION and PLACE; and it is under this 
head of the special and respective duties of places, vocations 
and professions, where the subject begins to grow narrow and 
pointed, where it assumes immediately, the most critical 
aspects, — it is here that his new arts of delivery and tradition 
come in to such good purpose, and stand him instead of other 
weapons. For this is one of those cases precisely, which the 
philosopher on the Mountain alluded to, where an argument is 
set on foot at the table of a man of prodigious fortune, when 
the man himself is present. Nowhere, perhaps, — in his freest 
forms of writing, does he give a better reason, for that so 
deliberate and settled determination, which he so openly 
declares, and everywhere so stedfastly manifests, not to put 
himself in an antagonistic attitude towards opinions, and 
vocations, and professions, as they stood authorized in his 
time. Nowhere does he venture on a more striking compari- 
son or simile, for the purpose of setting forth that point 
vividly, and impressing it on the imagination of the reader. 

1 The first of these [sub-divisions of duty] is extant, and 
well laboured, as hath been said. The second, likewise, I 
may report rather dispersed than deficient ; which manner of 
dispersed argument I acknowledge to be best; [it is one he is 
much given to;] for who can take upon him to write of the 
proper duty, virtue, challenge and right of EVERY several 
vocation, profession and place? [ — truly? — ] For although 
sometimes a looker on, may see more than a gamester, and 
there be a proverb more arrogant than sound, ' that the vale 
best discovereth the hill, 7 yet there is small doubt, that men 
can write best, and most really and materially of their own 
professions,' and it is to be wished, he says, ' as that which 
would make learning, indeed, solid and fruitful, that active 
men would, or could, become writers.' And he proceeds to 
mention opportunely in that connection, a case very much 
in point, as far as he is concerned, but not on the face of it, so 
immediately to the purpose, as that which follows. It will, 
however, perhaps, repay that very careful reading of it, which 


will be necessary, in order to bring out its pertinence in this 
connection. And we shall, perhaps, not lose time ourselves, 
by taking, as we pass, the glimpse which this author sees fit to 
give us, of the facilities and encouragements which existed 
then, for the scientific treatment of this so important question 
of the duties and vices of vocations and professions. 

'In which I cannot but mention, honoris causa, your majesty's 
excellent book, touching the duty of A king' [and he goes on 
to give a description which applies, without much f forcing/ 
to the work of another king, which he takes occasion to intro- 
duce, with a direct commendation, a few pages further on] 
— ' a work richly compounded of divinity, morality, and policy, 
with great aspersion of all other arts; and being, in mine 
opinion, one of the most sound and healthful writings that I 
have read. Not sick of business, as those are who lose them- 
selves in their order, nor of convulsions, as those which cramp 
in matters impertinent; not savoring of perfumes and paintings 
as those do, who seek to please the reader more than nature 
beareth, and chiefly well disposed in the spirits thereof, being 
agreeable to truth, and apt for action? — [this passage contains 
some hints as to this author's notion of what a book should be, 
in form, as well as substance, and, therefore, it would not be 
strange, if it should apply to some other books, as well] — 
' and far removed from that natural infirmity, whereunto 1 
noted those that write in their own professions, to be subject, 
which is that they exalt it above measure; for your majesty hath 
truly described, not a king of Assyria or Persia, in their external 
glory, [and not that kind of king, or kingly author is he talking 
of] but a Moses, or a David, pastors of their people. 

' Neither can I ever lose out of my remembrance, what I 
heard your majesty, in the same sacred spirit of government, 
deliver in a great cause of judicature, which was, that kings 
ruled by their laws, as God did by -the laws of nature, and 
ought rarely to put in use their supreme prerogative, as God 
doth his power of working miracles. And yet, notwithstanding, 
in your book of a free monarchy, you do well give men to un- 
derstand, that you know the plenitude of the power and right of 


a king, as well as the circle of his office and duty. Thus have I 
presumed to allege this excellent writing of your majesty, as a 
prime or eminent example of Tractates, concerning special and 
respective duties/ [It is, indeed, an exemplar that he talks of 
here.] ' Wherein i" should have said as much, if it had been 
written a thousand years since : neither am I moved with cer- 
tain courtly decencies, which I esteem it flattery to praise in 
presence ; no, it is flattery to praise in absence : that is, when 
either the virtue is absent, or — the occasion is absent, and so the 
praise is not natural, but forced, either in truth, or — in time. 
But let Cicero be read in his oration pro Mar cello, which is 
nothing but an excellent TABLE of Casar's virtue, and 
made to his face ; besides the example of many other excellent 
persons, wiser a great deal than such observers, and we will 
never doubt upon a full occasion, to give just praises to present 
or absent? 

The reader who does not think that is, on the whole, a 
successful paragraph, considering the general slipperiness of 
the subject, and the state of the ice in those parts of it, in 
particular where the movements appear to be the most free 
and graceful; such a one has, probably, failed in applying to 
it, that key of ' times,' which a full occasion is expected to 
produce for this kind of delivery. But if any doubt exists in 
any mind, in regard to this author's opinion of the rights of 
his own profession and vocation, and the circle of its office and 
duties, — if any one really doubts what only allegiance this 
author professionally acknowledges, and what kingship it is to 
which this great argument is internally dedicated, it may be 
well to recall the statement on that subject, which he has 
taken occasion to insert in another part of the work, so that 
that point, at least, may be satisfactorily determined. 

He is speaking of ' certain base conditions and courses/ in 
his criticism on the manners of learned men, which he says, 
' he has no purpose to give allowance to, wherein divers pro- 
fessors of learning have wronged themselves and gone too far,' — - 
glancing in particular at the trencher philosophers of the later 
age of the Koman state, ' who were little better than parasites 


in the houses of the great. But above all the rest,' he con- 
tinues, ' the gross and palpable flattery, whereunto, many, not 
unlearned, have abased and abused their wits and pens, turn- 
ing, as Du Bartas saith, Hecuba into Helena, and Faustina 
into Lucretia, hath most diminished the price and estima- 
tion of learning. Neither is the modern dedication, of books 
and writings as to patrons, to be commended : for that books — 
such as are worthy the name of books, ought to have no patrons, 
but — (hear) but — Truth and Reason. And the ancient custom 
was to dedicate them only to private and equal friends, or to 
intitle the books with their names, or if to kings and great 
persons, it was some such as the argument of the book was fit 
and proper for: but these and the like courses may deserve 
rather reprehension than defence. 

* Not that I can tax,' he continues, however, ' or condemn 
the morigeration or application of learned men to men in 
fortune.' And he proceeds to quote here, approvingly, a 
series of speeches on this very point, which appear to be full 
of pertinence ; the first of the philosopher who, when he was 
asked in mockery, ' How it came to pass that philosophers 
were followers of rich men, and not rich men of philosophers,' 
answered soberly, and yet sharply, ' Because the one sort knew 
what they had need of, and the other did not'. And then the 
speech of Aristippus, who, when some one, tender on behalf of 
philosophy, reproved him that he would offer the profession of 
philosophy such an indignity, as for a private suit to fall at 
a tyrant's feet, replied, ' It was not his fault, but it was the 
fault of Dionysius, that he had his ears in his feet'; and, 
lastly, the reply of another, who, yielding his point in disput- 
ing with Csesar, claimed, ' That it was reason to yield to him 
who commanded thirty legions,' and 'these,' he says, 'these, and 
the like applications, and stooping to points of necessity and 
convenience, cannot be disallowed; for, though they may have 
some outward baseness, yet, in a judgment truly made, they are to 
be accounted submissions to the occasion, and not to the person. 1 

And that is just Volumnias view of the subject, as will be 
seen in another place. 



Now, this no more dishonors you at all, 
Than to take in a town with gentle words, 
"Which else would put you to your fortune, and 
The hazard of much blood. — 
And you will rather show our general louts 
How you can frown, than spend a fawn upon them, 
For the inheritance of their loves, and safeguard 
Of what that want might ruin. 
But then, in the dramatic exhibition, the other side comes 

in too: — 

I will not do 't ; 

Lest I surcease to honor mine own truth, 

And by my body's action, teach my mind 

A most inherent baseness.' 
It is the same poet who says in another place: — 

Almost my nature is subdued to that it works in. 
4 But to return,' as our author himself says, after his compli- 
mentary notice of the king's book, accompanied with that 
emphatic promise to give an account of himself upon a full 
occasion, and we have here, apparently, a longer digression to 
apologize for, and return from ; but, in the book we are consi- 
dering, it is, in fact, rather apparent than real, as are most of 
the author's digressions, and casual introductions of imperti- 
nent matter; for, in fact, the exterior order of the discourse is 
often a submission to the occasion, and is not so essential as the 
author's apparent concern about it would lead us to infer; 
indeed he has left dispersed directions to have this treatise 
broken up, and recomposed in a more lively manner, upon a 
full occasion, and when time shall serve; for, at present, this 
too is chiefly well disposed in the spirits thereof. 

And in marking out the grounds in human life, then lying 
w T aste, or covered with superstitious and empirical arts and inven- 
tions, in merely showing the fields into which the inventor of this 
new instrument of observation and inference by rule, was then 
proposing to introduce it, and in presenting this new report, and 
this so startling proposition, in those differing aspects and shift- 
ing lights, and under those various divisions which the art of 
delivery and tradition under such circumstances appeared to 
prescribe; having come, in the order of his report, to that 
main ground of the good which the will and appetite of man 


aspires to, and the direction thereto, — this so labored ground 
of philosophy, — when it was found that the new scientific plat- 
form of good, included — not the exclusive good of the indivi- 
dual form only, but that of those ■ larger wholes/ of which 
men are constitutionally parts and members, and the special 
duty, — for that is the specific name of this principle of integ- 
rity in the human kind, that is the name of that larger law, that 
spiritual principle, which informs and claims the parts, and 
conserves the larger form which is the worthier, — when it was 
found that this part included the particular duty of every man 
in his place, vocation, and profession, as well as the common 
duty of men as men, surely it was natural enough to glance 
here, at that particular profession and vocation of authorship, 
and the claims of the respective places of king and subject in 
that regard, as well as at the duty of the king, and the superior 
advantages of a government of laws in general, as being more 
in accordance with the order of nature, than that other mode 
of government referred to. It was natural enough, since this 
subject lies always in abeyance, and is essentially involved in 
the work throughout, that it should be touched here, in its 
proper place, though never so casually, with a glance at those 
nice questions of conflicting claims, which are more fully 
debated elsewhere, distinguishing that which is forced in time, 
from that which is forced in truth, and the absence of the per- 
son, from the absence of the occasion. 

But the approval of that man of prodigious fortune, to 
whom this work is openly dedicated, is always, with this 
author, who understands his ground here so well, that he 
hardly ever fails to indulge himself in passing, with a good 
humoured, side-long, glance at ' the situation,' this approval is 
the least part of the achievement. That which he, too, adores 
in kings, is 'the throng of their adorers'. It is the sovereignty 
which makes kings, and puts them in its liveries, that he 
bends to ; it is that that he reserves his art for. And this pro- 
posal to run the track of the science of nature through 
this new field of human nature and its higher and highest 
aims, and into the very field of every maris special place, 
and vocation, and profession, could not well be made without 

1 2 


a glance at those difficulties, which the clashing claims of 
authorship, and other professions, would in this case create; 
without a glance at the imperious necessities which threaten 
the life of the new science, which here also imperiously pre- 
scribe the form of its tradition; he could not go by this 
place, without putting into the reader's hands, with one bold 
stroke, the key of its delivery. 

For it is in the paragraph which follows the compliment to 
the king in his character as an author, in pursuing still further 
this subject of vocations and professions, that we find in the 
form of 'fable' and ' allusion;— that form which the author 
himself lays down in his Art of Tradition, as the form of in- 
culcation for new truth,— the precise position, which is the 
key to this whole method of new sciences, which makes the 
method and the interpretation, the vital points, in the writing 
and the reading of them. 

< But, to return, there belongeth farther to the handling ot 
this part, touching the Duties of Professions and Vocations, a 
relative, or opposite, touching the frauds, cautels, impostures and 
vices of every profession, which hath been likewise handled. 
But how? Kather in a satire and cynically, than seriously and 
wisely, for men have rather sought by wit to deride and tra- 
duce m^/a of that which is good in professions, than with 
judgment to discover and sever that which is corrupt. For, 
as Solomon saith, he that cometh to seek after knowledge 
with a mind to scorn and censure, shall be sure to find matter 
for his humour, but no matter for his instruction. But the 
managing of this argument with integrity and truth, which I 
note as deficient, seemeth to me to be one of the best fortifica- 
tions for honesty and virtue that can be planted. For, as the 
fable goeth of the basilisk, that if he see you first, you die for 
it but if YOU SEE HIM first— he dieth; so it is with 
deceits and evil arts, which if they be first espied lose their 
life, but if they prevent, endanger.' [If they see you first, 
you die for it; and not you only, but your science. 

Yet were there but this single plot to lose, 

This mould of Marcius, they to dust should grind it, 

And throw it against the wind.] 


II 7 

' So that we are much beholden/ he continues, ' to Machiavel 
and others that write what men do, and not what they ought 
to do, [perhaps he refers here to that writer before quoted, who 
writes, 'others form men, — '/report him']; 'for it is not pos- 
sible/ continues the proposer of the science of special duties 
of place, and vocation, and profession, ' the critic of this 
department, too, — it is not possible to join the serpentine 
wisdom with the columbine innocency, except men know ex- 
actly all the conditions of the serpent, — that is, all forms and 
natures of evil, for without this, virtue lieth open and un- 
fenced. Nay, an honest man can do no good upon those that 
are wicked, to reclaim them, without the help of the knowledge 
of evil : for men of corrupted minds pre-suppose that honesty 
groweth out of simplicity of manners, and believing of preachers, 
schoolmasters, and meris exterior language ; so as, except you 
can make them perceive that you know the utmost reaches of 
their own corrupt .opinions, they despise all morality/ A 
book composed for the express purpose of meeting the diffi- 
culty here alluded to, has been already noticed in the prece- 
ding pages, on account of its being one of the most striking 
samples of that peculiar style of tradition, which the ad- 
vancement of Learning prescribes, and here is another, in 
which the same invention and discovery appears to be in- 
dicated : — ' Why I can teach you/ — says a somewhat doubt- 
ful claimant to supernatural gifts : 

* Why, I can teach you, cousin, to command 
The devil.' 

' And I can teach thee, coz, to shame the devil ; 
By telling truth ; 

If thou hast power to raise him, bring him hither, 
And I'll be sworn I have power to shame him hence : 
Oh, while you live, tell truth.' 

But this is the style, in which the one before referred to, 
falls in with the humour of this Advancer of Learning. 
As to the rest, I have enjoined myself to dare to say, all 
that I dare to do, and even thoughts that are not to be pub- 
lished, displease me. The worst of my actions and qualities 


do not appear to me so foul, as I find it foul and base 
not to dare to own them. Every one is wary and discreet in 
confession, but men ought to be so in action. I wish that this 
excessive license of mine, may draw men to freedom above 
these timorous and mincing pretended virtues, sprung from our 
imperfections, and that at the expense of my immoderation, I 
may reduce them to reason. A man must see and study his 
vice to correct it, they who conceal it from others, commonly 
conceal it from themselves and do not think it covered enough, 
if they themselves see it ... . the diseases of the soul, the 
greater they are, keep themselves the more obscure ; the most 
sick are the least sensible of them : for these reasons they must 
often be dragged into light, by an unrelenting and pitiless 
hand ; they must be opened and torn from the caverns and se- 
cret recesses of the heart/ ' To meet the Huguenots, who con- 
demn our auricular and private confession, I confess myself in 
public, religiously and purely, — others have published the 
errors of their opinions, I of my manners. I am greedy of 
making myself known, and I care not to how many, provided 
it be truly; or rather, I hunger for nothing, but I mortally 
hate to be mistaken by those Who happen to come across my 
name. He that does all things for honor and glory [as some 
great men in that time were supposed to,] what can he think 
to gain by showing himself to the world in a mask, and by con- 
cealing his true being from the people ? Commend a hunchback 
for his fine shape, he has a right to take it for an affront: if 
you are a coward, and men commend you for your valor, is it 
of you that they speak? They take you for another. Ar- 
chelaus, king of Macedon, walking along the street, somebody 
threw water on his head ; which they who were with him said 
he ought to punish, ' Ay, but,' said the other, 'he did not throw 
the water upon me, but upon him whom he took me to be. 
Socrates being told that people spoke ill of him, ' Not at all/ 
said he, * there is nothing in me of what they say ! / am 
content to be less commended provided I am bettei* known. I may 
be reputed a wise man, in such a sort of wisdom as I take to 
be folly/ Truly the Advancement of Learning would seem 


to be not all in the hands of one person in this time. It 
appears, indeed, to have been in the hands of some persons 
who were not content with simply propounding it, and noting 
deficiencies, but who busied themselves with actively carrying 
out, the precise plan propounded. Here is one who does not 
content himself with merely criticising 'professions and voca- 
tions,' and suggesting improvements, but one who appears to 
have an inward call himself to the cure of diseases. Whoever 
he may be, and since he seems to care so very little for his 
name himself, and looks at it from such a philosophical point 
of view, we ought not, perhaps, to be too particular about it ; 
whoever he may be, he is unquestionably a Doctor of the New 
School, the scientific school, and will be able to produce his 
diploma when properly challenged; whoever he may be, he 
belongs to ' the Globe/ for the manager of that theatre is in- 
cessantly quoting him, and dramatizing his philosophy, and 
he says himself, ' I look on all men as my compatriots, and 
prefer the universal and common tie to the national' 

But in marking out and indicating the plan and method of 
the new operation, which has for its end to substitute a scien- 
tific, in the place of an empirical procedure, in the main 
pursuits of human life, the philosopher does not limit him- 
self in this survey of the special social duties to the special 
duties of professions and vocations. c Unto this part,' he says, 
* touching respective duty, doth also appertain the duties be- 
tween husband and wife, parent and child, master and servant: 
so likewise the laws of friendship and gratitude, the civil bond 
of companies, colleges, and politic bodies, of neighbourhood, and 
all other proportionate duties; not as they are parts of a 
government and society, but as to the framing of the mind of 
particular persons.' 

The reader will observe, that that portion of moral philo- 
sophy which is here indicated, contains, according to this index, 
some extremely important points, points which require learned 
treatment; and in our further pursuit of this inquiry, we 
shall find, that the new light which the science of nature in 
general throws upon the doctrine of the special duties and 


upon these points here emphasized, has been most ably and 
elaborately exhibited by a contemporary of this philosopher, 
and in the form which he has so specially recommended, — with 
all that rhetorical power which he conceives to be the natural 
and fitting accompaniment of this part of learning. And the 
same is true also throughout of that which follows. 

' The knowledge concerning good respecting society, doth 
handle it also not simply alone, but comparatively, whereunto 
belongeth the weighing of duties between person and person, 
case and case, particular and public: as we see in the proceed- 
ing of Lucius Brutus against his own sons, which was so much 
extolled, yet what was said? 

Infelix utcunque ferent ea fata minores. 

So the case was doubtful, and had opinion on both sides. 
[So the philosopher on the mountain tells us, too, for his 
common-place book and this author's happen to be the same.] 
Again we see when M. Brutus and Cassius invited to a supper 
certain whose opinions they meant to feel, whether they were 
fit to be made their associates, and cast forth the question 
touching the killing of a tyrant, — being an usurper, — they 
were divided in opinion' ; [this of itself is a very good specimen 
of the style in which points are sometimes introduced casually 
in passing, and by way of illustration merely] some holding 
that servitude was the extreme of evils, and others that tyranny 
was better than a civil war-, and this question also our philo- 
sopher of the mountain has considered very carefully from his 
retreat, weighing all the pros and cons of it. And it is a ques- 
tion which was treated also, as we all happen to know, in that 
other form of writing for which this author expresses so de- 
cided a preference, in which the art of the poet is brought in 
to enforce and impress the conclusion of the philosopher. 
Indeed, as we proceed further with the plan of this so radical 
part of the subject, we shall find, that the ground indicated 
has everywhere been taken up on the spot by somebody, and 
to purpose. 





' 'Tis an unweeded garden 

That grows to seed ' 


T>UT we have finished now with what he has to say here 
wrf of the exemplar or science of GOOD, and its kinds, and 
degrees, and the comparison of them , the good that is proper to 
the individual, and the good that includes society. He has 
found much fine work on that platform of virtue, and felicity, 
— excellent exemplars, the purest doctrine, the loftiest virtue, 
tried by the scientific standard. And though he has gone 
behind those popular names of vice and virtue, pain and plea- 
sure, and the like, in which these doctrines begin, to the more 
simple and original forms, which the doctrine of nature in 
general and its laws supplies, for a platform of moral science, 
his doctrine is large enough to include all these works, in all 
their excellence., and give them their true place. A reviewer 
so discriminating, then, so far from that disposition to scorn 
and censure, which he reprehends, so careful to conserve that 
which is good in his scientific constructions and reformations, 
so pure in judgment in discovering and severing that which is 
corrupt, a reporter so clearly scientific, who is able to main- 
tain through all this astounding report of the de Sciences in 
human learning, a tone so quiet, so undemonstrative, such a 
one deserves the more attention when he comes now to ' the 
art and practic part' of this great science, to which all other 
sciences are subordinate, and declares to us that he finds it, as 
a part of science, ' WANTING !' not defective, but wanting. 
' Now, therefore, that we have spoken of this fruit of life, 


it remained to speak of the Husbandry that belongeth 
thereunto, without which part the former seemeth to be no 
better than a fair image or statue, which is beautiful to con- 
template, but is without life and motion.' 

But as this author is very far, as he confesses, from wishing 
to clothe himself with the honors of an Innovator, — such 
honors as awaited the Innovator in that time, — but prefers 
always to sustain himself with authority from the past, though 
at the expense of that lustre of novelty and originality, which 
goes far, as he acknowledges, in establishing new opinions, — 
adopting in this precisely the practices, and, generally, to save 
trouble, the quotations of that other philosopher, so largely 
quoted here, who frankly gives his reasons for his procedure, 
confessing that he pinches his authors a little, now and then, 
to make them speak to the purpose; and that he reads them 
with his pencil in his hand, for the sake of being able to 
produce respectable authority, grown gray in trust, with the 
moss of centuries on it, for the views which he has to set 
forth ; culling bits as he wants them, and putting them together 
in his mosaics as he finds occasion ; so now, when we come to 
this so important part of the subject, where the want is so 
clearly reported — where the scientific innovation is so unmis- 
takeably propounded — we find ourselves suddenly involved in 
a storm of Latin quotations, all tending to prove that the 
thing was perfectly understood among the ancients, and that 
it is as much as a man's scholarship is worth to call it in ques- 
tion. The author marches up to the point under cover of a 
perfect cannonade of classics, no less than five of the most 
imposing of the Greek and Latin authors being brought out, 
for the benefit of the stunned and bewildered reader, in the 
course of one brief paragraph, the whole concluding with a 
reference to the Psalms, which nobody, of course, will under- 
take to call in question; whereas, in cases of ordinary diffi- 
culty, a proverb or two from Solomon is thought sufficient. 
For this last writer, with his practical inspiration — with his 
aphorisms, or ' dispersed directions,' which the author prefers 
to a methodical discourse, as they best point to action — with 
his perpetual application of divinity to matters of common 


life, and to the special and respective duties, this, of all the 
sacred writers, is the one which he has most frequent occasion 
to refer to; and when, in his chapter on Policy, he brings out 
openly his proposal to invade the every-day practical life of 
men, in its apparently most unaxiomatical department, with 
his scientific rule of procedure — a proposal which he might not 
have been ' so prosperously delivered of,' if it had been made 
in any less considerate manner — he stops to produce whole 
pages of solid text from this so unquestionably conservative 
authority, by way of clearing himself from any suspicion of 

First, then, in setting forth this so novel opinion of his, that 
the doctrine of the fruit of life should include not the 
scientific platform of good, and its degrees and kinds only, — 
not the doctrine of the ideal excellence and felicity only, but 
the doctrine — the scientific doctrine — the scientific art of the 
Husbandry thereunto ; — in setting forth the opinion, that that 
first part of moral science is but a part of it, and that as human 
nature is constituted, it is not enough to have a doctrine of 
good in its perfection, and the divinest exemplars of it; first 
of all he produces the subscription of no less a person than 
Aristotle, whose conservative faculties had proved so effectual 
in the dark ages, that the opinion of Solomon himself could 
hardly have been considered more to the purpose. \ In such 
full words,' he says; and seeing that the advancement of 
Learning has already taken us on to a place where the 
opinions of Aristotle, at least, are not so binding, we need not 
trouble ourselves with that long quotation now — ' in such full 
words, and with such iteration, doth he inculcate this part, so 
saith Cicero in great commendation of Cato the second, that 
he had applied himself to philosophy — * Non it a disputandi 
causa, sed ita vivendi.' And although the neglect of our times, 
wherein few men do hold any consultations touching the re- 
formation of their life, as Seneca excellently saith, ' De par- 
tibus vitae, quisque deliberat, de summa nemo,' may make this 
part seem superfluous, yet I must conclude with that aphorism 
of Hippocrates, l Qui gravi morbo correpti dolores non sentiunt, 


iis mens aegrotat'; they need medicines not only to assuage 
the disease, but to awake the sense. 

And if it be said that the cure of metis minds belongeth to 
sacred divinity, it is most true; ' but yet Moral Philosophy' — 
that is, in his meaning of the term, Moral Science, the new 
science of nature — ( may be preferred unto her, as a wise ser- 
vant and humble handmaid. For, as the Psalm saith, that 
'the eye of the handmaid looketh perpetually towards the 
mistress,' and yet, no doubt, many things are left to the discretion 
of the handmaid, to discern of the mistress's 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/ That is the doctrine. 
That is the position of the New Science in relation to divinity, 
as defined by the one who was best qualified to place it — that 
is the mission of the New Science, as announced by the new 
Interpreter of Nature, — the priest of her ignored and violated 
laws, — on whose work the seal of that testimony which he 
challenged to it has already been set — on whose work it has 
already been written, in the large handwriting of that Provi- 
dence Divine, whose benediction he invoked, ' accepted ' — 
accepted in the councils from which the effects of life proceed. 

' This part, therefore,' having thus defined his position, he 
continues, * because of the excellency thereof, I cannot but find it 
exceeding STRANGE that it is not reduced to written inquiry; 
the rather because it consisteth of much matter, wherein both 
speech and action is often conversant, and such wherein the 
common talk of men, which is rare, but yet cometh sometimes 
to pass, is wiser than their books. It is reasonable, therefore, 
that we propound it with the more particularity, both for the 
worthiness, and because we may acquit ourselves for reporting it 
deficient ' [with such ' iteration and fulness,' with all his discri- 
mination, does he contrive to make this point] ; ' which seemeth 
almost incredible, and is otherwise conceived — [note it] — and 
is otherwise conceived and presupposed by those themselves 
that have written.' [They do not see that they have missed 
it.] * We will, therefore, enumerate some heads or points 


thereof, that it may appear the better what it is, and whether it 
be extant. 

A momentous question, truly, for the human race. That 
was a point, indeed, for this reporter to dare to make, and 
insist on and demonstrate. Doctrines of the fruit of Life 
— doctrines of its perfection, exemplars of it; but no science — 
no science of the Culture or the Husbandry thereunto — though 
it is otherwise conceived and presupposed by those who have 
written! Yes, that is the position; and not taken in the 
general" only, for he will proceed to propound it with more 
particularity — he will give us the heads of it — he will pro- 
ceed to the articulation of that which is wanting — he will 
put down, before our eyes, the points and outlines of the new 
human science, the science of the husbandry thereto, both for 
the worthiness thereof, and that it may appear the better 
what it is, and whether — whether it be extant. For 
who knows but it may be? Who knows, after all, but the 
points and outlines here, may prove but the track of that argu- 
ment which the new Georgics will be able to hide in the play 
of their illustration, as Periander hid his? Who knows but 
the Naturalist in this field was then already on the ground, 
making his collections? Who knows but this new Virgil, 
who thought little of that resplendent and lustrous mass of 
matter, that old poets had taken for their glory, who seized 
the common life of men, and not the ideal life only, for his 
theme — who made the relief of the human estate, and not 
glory, his end, but knew that he might promise himself 
a fame which would make the old heroic poets' crowns grow 
dim, — who knows but that he — he himself — is extant, con- 
templating his theme, and composing its Index — claiming as 
yet its Index only ? Truly, if the propounder of this argument 
can in any measure supply the defects which he outlines, and 
opens here, — if he can point out to us any new and worthy 
collections in that science for which he claims to break the 
ground — if he can, in any measure, constitute it, he will de- 
serve that name which he aspired to, and for which he was 
willing to renounce his own, ' Benefactor of men/ and not of 
an age or nation. 


But let us see where this new science, and scientific art of 
human culture begins, — this science and art which is to differ 
from those which have preceded it, as the other Baconian arts 
and sciences which began in the new doctrine of nature, 
differed from those which preceded them. 

' First, therefore, in this, as in all things which are practical, 
we ought to cast up our account, what is in our power, and 
what not ? For the one may be dealt with by way of 
alteration, but the other by way of APPLICATION only. 
The husbandman cannot command either the nature of the 
earth or the seasons of the weather, no more can the physician 
the constitution of the patient, and the variety of accidents. So 
in the culture and cure of the mind of man two things 
are without our command, points OF nature, and points 
of fortune : for to the basis of the one, and the conditions 
of the other, our work is limited and tied.' That is the first 
step : that is where the NEW begins. There is no science or 
art till that step is taken. 

In these things, therefore, it is left unto us to proceed by 
application. Vincenda est omnis fortuna ferendo : and so 
likewise — Vincenda est omnis natura ferendo. But when we 
speak of suffering, we do not speak of a dull neglected suffering, 
but of a wise and industrious suffering, which draweth and con- 
triveth use and advantage out of that which seemeth adverse and 
contrary, which is that properly which we call accommodating 
or applying.* 

Now the wisdom of application resteth principally in the 
exact and distinct knowledge of the precedent state or disposition, 
unto which we do apply' — [This is the process which the 
Novum Organum sets forth with so much care], * for we cannot 
fit a garment, except we first take the measure of the body.' 


w hat ? — 'to set down sound and true distributions and descrip- 

d 'Sweet are the uses of it,' and 'blest' indeed 'are they who can 
translate the stubbornness of fortune into so quiet and so sweet a style.' 


natures and DISPOSITIONS, specially having regard to those 
differences which are most radical, in being the fountains and 
causes of the rest, or most frequent in concurrence or commix- 
ture (not simple differences merely, but the most frequent con- 
junctions), wherein it is not the handling of a few of them, in 
passage, the better to describe the mediocrities of virtues, that 
can satisfy this intention' ; and he proceeds to introduce a few 
points, casually, as it were, and by way of illustration, but the 
rule of interpretation for this digest of learning, in this press of 
method is, that such points are never casual, and usually of 
primal, and not secondary import; 'for if it deserve to be con- 
sidered that there are minds which are proportioned to great 
matters, and others to small, which Aristotle handle th, or 
ought to have handled, by the name of magnanimity, doth it 
not deserve as well to be considered, ' that there are minds 
proportioned to intend many matters, and others to few? So 
that some can divide themselves, others can perchance do exactly 
well, but it must be in few things at once ; and so there cometh 
to be a narrowness of mind, as well as a pusillanimity. 
And again, f that some minds are proportioned to that which 
may be despatched at once, or within a short return of time ; 
others to that which begins afar off, and is to be won with 
length of pursuit. 

Jam turn tenditque fovetque. 

So that there may be fitly said to be a longanimity, which is 
commonly also ascribed to God as a magnanimity, 1 Undoubt- 
edly, he considers this one of those differences in the natures 
and dispositions of men, that it is most important to note, 
otherwise it would not be inserted here. ' So farther deserved 
it to be considered by Aristotle that there is a disposition in 
conversation, supposing it in things which do in no sort 
touch or concern a man's self^ to soothe and please-, and a dis- 
position contrary to contradict and cross' ; and deserveth it 
not much better to be considered that there is a disposition, 
not in conversation, or talk, but in matter of more serious 
nature^ and supposing it still in things merely indifferent, to 


take pleasure in the good of another, and a disposition con- 
trariwise to take distaste at the good of another, which is that 
properly which we call good-nature, or ill-nature, benignity or 
malignity.' Is not this a field for science, then, with such dif- 
ferences as these lying on the surface of it, — does not it begin 
to open up with a somewhat inviting aspect? This so remark- 
able product of nature, with such extraordinary ' differences ' 
in him as these, is he the only thing that is to go without a 
scientific history, all wild and unbooked, while our philoso- 
phers are weeping because * there are no more worlds to con- 
quer,' because every stone and shell and flower and bird and 
insect and animal has been dragged into the day and had its 
portrait taken, and all its history to its secretest points scien- 
tifically detected ? 

' And therefore/ says this organizer of the science of nature, 
who keeps an eye on practice, in his speculations, and recom- 
mends to his followers to observe his lead in that respect, at 
least, until the affairs of the world get a little straighter than 
they were in his time, and there is leisure for mere speculation, 
— 'And, therefore,' he resumes, having noted these remarkable 
differences in the natural and original dispositions of men, — 
and certainly there is no more curious thing in science than 
the points noted, though the careful reader will observe that 
they are not curious merely, but that they slant in one di- 
rection very much, and towards a certain kind of practice. 
c And, therefore,' he resumes, noticing that fact, * / cannot 
sufficiently marvel, that this part of knowledge, touching the 
several characters of natures and dispositions should be omitted 
loth in MORALITY and POLICY, considering that it is of so 
great ministry and suppeditation to them BOTH.* But in nei- 
ther of these two departments, which he here marks out, as 
the ultimate field of the naturalist, and his arts, in neither of 

* < The several characters! The range of difference is limited. They 
are comprehensible within a science, as the differences in other species 
are. No wonder, then, 'that he cannot sufficiently marvel that this 
part of knowledge should be omitted.' 


them unfortunately, has the practice of mankind, as yet so 
wholly recovered from that ' lameness, ' which this critical ob- 
server remarked in it in his own time, that these observations 
have ceased to have a practical interest. 

And having thus ventured to express his surprise at this 
deficiency, he proceeds to note what only indications he ob- 
serves of any work at all in this field, and the very quarters 
he goes to for these little accidental hints and beginnings of 
such a science, show how utterly it was wanting in those 
grandiloquent schools of philosophic theory, and those magis- 
terial chairs of direction, which the author found in possession 
of this department in his time. 

* A man shall find in the traditions of astrology, some 
pretty and apt divisions of men's natures,' — so in the discussions 
which occur on this same point in Lear, where this part of 
philosophy comes under a more particular consideration, and 
the great ministry* and suppeditation which it would yield to 
morality and policy is suggested in a different form, this same 
reference to the astrological observations repeatedly occurs. 
The Poet, indeed, discards the astrological theory of these na- 
tural differences in the dispositions of men, but is evidently 
in favour of an observation, and inquiry of some sort, into the 
second causes of these ' sequent effects,' and an anatomy of the 
living subject is in one case suggested, by a person who is 
suffering much from the deficiencies of science in this field, 
as a means of throwing light on it. ' Then let Regan be 
anatomised.' For in the Play, — in the poetic impersonation, 
which has a scientific purpose for its object, the historical 
extremes of these natural differences are touched, and brought 
into the most vivid dramatic oppositions; so as to force from 
the lips of the by-standers the very inquiries and suggestions 
which are put down here; so as to wring from the broken 
hearts of men — tortured and broken on the wheel, which ' blind 
men' call fortune, — tortured and broken on the rack of an 
unlearned and barbaric human society, — or, from hearts that do 
not break with anything that such a world can do, the impe- 
rious direction of the new science* 


* Then let Regan be anatomised, and see what it is that 
breeds about her heart.' He has asked already, ' What is the 
cause of thunder?' But 'his philosopher' must not stop there. 
' Is there any cause—- is there any cause in nature that makes 
these hard hearts?' — 

It is the stars ! 
The stars above us govern our conditions, 
Else one self mate and mate could not beget 
Such different issues. 

< A man shall find in the traditions of astrology some pretty 
and apt divisions of men's natures, ('let them be anatomised^ 
he, too, says,) 'according to the predominance of the planets; 
(this is the ' spherical predominance,' which Edmund does not 
believe in) — ' lovers of quiet, lovers of action, lovers of victory, 
lovers of honour, lovers of pleasure, lovers of arts, lovers of 
change, and so forth/ And here, also, is another very singu- 
lar quarter to go to for a science which is so radical in mo- 
rality; here is a place, where men have empirically hit upon 
the fact that it has some relation to policy. ' A man shall find 
in the wisest sorts of these relations which the Italians make 
touching conclaves, the natures of the several Cardinals, hand- 
somely and livelily painted forth';— and what he has already 
said in the general, of this department, he repeats here under 
this division of it, that the conversation of men in respect to it, 
is in advance of their books; — 'a man shall meet with, in 
every day's conference, the denominations of sensitive, dry, 
formal, real, humorous, 'huomo di prima impressione, huomo 
di ultima impressione, and the like ' : but this is no substitute 
for science in a matter so radical,'—* and yet, nevertheless, this 
observation, wandereth in words, but is not fixed in inquiry. 
For the distinctions are found, many of them, but we conclude 
no precepts upon them'; it is induction then that we want 
here, after all — here also — here as elsewhere : the distinc- 
tions are found, many of them, but we conclude no precepts upon 
them : wherein our fault is the greater, because both HISTORY, 
poesy, and daily EXPERIENCE, are as goodly fields where 


these observations grow ; whereof we make a few poesies to 
hold in our hands, but no man bringeth them to the confec- 
tionary that receipts might be made of them for the use of 
life. 3 ' 

How could he say that, when there was a man then alive, 
who was doing in all respects, the very thing which he puts 
down here, as the thing which is to be done, the thing which 
is of such radical consequence, which is the beginning of the 
new philosophy, which is the beginning of the new reforma- 
tion ; who is making this very point in that science to which 
the others are subordinate ? — how could he say it, when there 
was a man then alive, who was ransacking the daily lives of 
men, and putting all history and poesy under contribution 
for these very observations, one, too, who was concluding 
precepts upon them, bringing them to the confectionary, and 
composing receipts of them for the use of life ; a scholar who 
did not content himself with merely reporting a deficiency 
so radical as this, in the human life ; a man who did not think, 
apparently, that he had fulfilled his duty to his kind, by com- 
posing a paragraph on this subject. 

And how comes it — how comes it that he who is the first 
to discover this so fatal and radical defect in the human science, 
has himself failed to put upon record any of these so vital 
observations? How comes it that the one who is at last able 
to put his finger on the spot where the mischief, where all the 
boundless mischief, is at work here, — where the cure must 
begin, should content himself with observations and collections 
in physical history only ? How comes it that the man who 
finds that all the old philosophy has failed to become operative 
for the lack of this historical basis, who finds it so ' exceeding 
strange, so incredible, 7 who ' cannot sufficiently marvel/ that 
these observations should have been omitted in this science, 
heretofore, — the man who is so sharp upon Aristotle and 
others, on account of this incomprehensible oversight in their 
ethics, — is himself guilty of this very thing ? And how will this 
defect in his work, compare with that same defect which he is 
at so much pains to note and describe in the works of other3 



— others who did not know the value of this history? And 
how can he answer it to his kind, that with the views he has 
dared to put on record here, of the relation, the essential 
relation, of this knowledge to human advancement and 
relief, he himself has done nothing at all to constitute it, except 
to write this paragraph.' 

And yet, by his own showing, the discoverer of this field 
was himself the man to make collections in it ; for he tells us 
that accidental observations are not the kind that are wanted 
here, and that the truth of direction must precede the severity 
of observation. Is this so? Whose note book is it then, that 
has come into our hands, with the rules and plummet of the 
new science running through it, where all the observation 
takes, spontaneously, the direction of this new doctrine of 
nature, and brings home all its collections, in all the lustre of 
their originality, in all their multiplicity, and variety, and 
comprehension, in all the novelty and scientific rigour of 
their exactness, into the channels of these defects of learning? 
And who was he, who thought there were more things in 
heaven and earth, than were dreamt of in old philosophies, 
who kept his tables always by him for open questions? and 
whose tablets — whose many-leaved tablets, are they then, that 
are tumbled out upon us here, glowing with ' all saws, all 
forms, all pressures past, that youth and observation copied 
there.' And if aphorisms are made out of the pith and heart 
of sciences, if ' no man can write good aphorisms who is not 
sound and grounded,' what Wittenberg, what University was 
he bred in? 

Till now there has been no man to claim this new and 
magnificent collection in natural science : it is a legacy that 
came to us without a donor ; — this new and vast collection in 
natural history, which is put down here, all along, as that 
which is wanting — as that which is wanting to the science of 
man, to the science of his advancement to his place in nature, 
and to the perfection of his form, — as that which is wanting to 
the science of the larger wholes, and the art of their conserva- 
tion. There was no man to claim it, for the boast, the very boast 


made on behalf of the thing for whom it was claimed — was — 
he did not know it was worth preserving ! — he did not know that 
this mass of new and profoundly scientific observation — this 
so new and subtle observation, so artistically digested, with all 
the precepts concluded on it, strewn, crowded everywhere with 
those aphorisms, those axioms of practice, that are made out 
of the pith and heart of sciences — he did not know it was of 
any value ! That is his history. That is the sum of it, and 
surely it is enough. Who, that is himself at all above the 
condition of an oyster, will undertake to say, deliberately and 
upon reflection, that it is not? So long as we have that 
one fact in our possession, it is absurd, it is simply disgraceful, 
to complain of any deficiency in this person's biography. 
There is enough of it and to spare. With that fact in our 
possession, we ought to have been able to dispense long ago 
with some, at least, of those details that we have of it. The 
only fault to be found with the biography of this individual as 
it stands at present is, that there is too much of it, and the 
public mind is labouring under a plethora of information. 

If that fact be not enough, it is our own fault and not the 
author's. He was perfectly willing to lie by, till it was. He 
would not take the trouble to come out for a time that had not 
studied his philosophy enough to find it, and to put the 
books of it together. 

Many years afterwards, the author of this work on the 
Advancement of Learning, saw occasion to recast it, and put it 
in another language. But though he has had so long a time 
to think about it, and though he does not appear to have 
taken a single step in the interval, towards the supplying of this 
radical deficiency in human science; we do not find that his 
views of its importance are at all altered. It is still the first 
point with him in the scientific culture of human nature, — the 
first point in that Art of Human Life, which is the end and 
term of Natural Philosophy, as he understands the limits of it. 
We still find the first Article of the Culture of the Mind put 

men,' not the vulgar propensities to virtues and VICES — note 


it — or perturbations and passions, but of such as are more 
internal and radical, which are generally neglected.' ' This is 
a study,' he says, which ' might afford great light TO THE 
sciences.' And again he refers us to the existing supply, 
such as it is, and repeats with some amplification, his previous 
suggestions. ' In astrological traditions, the natures and dis- 
positions of men, are tolerably distinguished according to the 
influence of the planets, where some are said to be by nature 
formed for contemplation, others for war, others for politics. 
Apparently it would be ' great ministry and suppeditation to 
policy,' if one could get the occult sources of such differences 
as these, so as to be able to command them at all, in the 
culture of men, or in the fitting of men to their places. ' But' 
he proceeds, 'so likewise among the poets of all kinds, we 
everywhere find characters of nature, though commonly drawn 
with excess and exceeding the limits of nature? 

Here, too, the philosopher refers us again to the common 
discourse of men, as containing wiser observations on this 
subject, than their books. * But much the best matter of all,' 
he says, * for such a treatise, may be derived from the more 
prudent historians, and not so well from eulogies or panegyrics, 
which are usually written soon after the death of an illustrious 
person, but much rather from a whole body of history, as often 
as such a person appears, for such an inwoven account gives a 
better description than panegyrics .... But we do not mean that 
such characters should be received in ethics, as perfect civil 
images/ They are to be subjected to an artistic process, which 
will bring out the radical principles in the dispositions and 
tempers of men in general, as the material of inexhaustible 
varieties of combination. He will have these historic portraits 
merely 'for outlines and first draughts of the images themselves, 
which, being variously compounded and mixed, afford all kinds 
of portraits, so that an artificial and accurate dissection may be 
made of men's minds and natures, and the secret disposition 
of each particular man laid open, that from the knowledge of the 
whole, the precepts concerning the errors OF the mind 
may be more rightly formed.' Who did that very thing? 


Who was it that stood on the spot and put that design into 
execution ? 

But this is not all; this is only the beginning of the obser- 
vation and study of differences. For he would have also 
included in it, * those impressions of nature which are other- 
wise imposed upon by the mind, by the sex, age, country, 
state OF health, make of body, as of beauty and 
deformity, and the like, which are inherent and not exter- 
nal : and more, he will have included in it — in these practical 
Ethics he will have included — e POINTS OF fortune,' and the 
differences that they make ; he will have all the differences that 
this creature exhibits, under any conditions, put down ; he will 
have his whole nature, so far as his history is able to show it, 
on his table; and not as it is exhibited accidentally, or sponta- 
neously merely, but under the test of a studious inquiry, and 
essay; he will apply to it the trials and vexations of Art, and 
wring out its last confession. This is the practical doctrine of 
this species ; this is what the author we have here in hand, calls 
the science of it, or the beginning of its science. This is one 
of the parts of science which he says is wanting. Let us follow 
his running glimpse of the points here, then, and see whether 
it is extant here, too, and whether there is anything to justify 
all this preparation in bringing it in, and all this exceeding 
marvelling at the want of it. 

' And again those differences which proceed from fortune, 

SITY, constant fortune, variable fortune, rising per saltum, per 
gradus, and the like.' These are articles that he puts down for 
points in his table of natural history s points for the collection of 
instances ; this is the tabular preparation for induction here ; 
for he does not conclude his precepts on the popular, miscella- 
neous, accidental history. That will do well enough for books. 
It won't do to get out axioms of practice from such loose 
material. They have to ring with the proof of another kind 
of condensation. All his history is artificial, prepared history 
more select and subtle and fit than the other kind, he says, — 


prepared on purpose; perhaps we shall come across his tables, 
some day, with these very points on them, filled in with the 
observations of one, so qualified by the truth of direction to 
make them ' severe'. It would not be strange, for he gives us 
to understand that he is not altogether idle in this part of his 
Instauration, and that he does not think it enough to lay out 
work for others, without giving an occasional specimen of his 
own, of the thing which he notes as deficient, and proposes to 
have done, so that there may be no mistake about it as to what 
it really is ; for he appears to think there is some danger of that. 
Even here, he produces a few illustrations of his meaning, that 
it may appear the better what is, and whether it be extant. 

* Aiid therefore we see, that Plautus maketh it a wonder to 
see an old man beneficent. St. Paul concludeth that severity 
of discipline was to be used to the Cretans, (' increpa eos dure'), 
upon the disposition of their country. 'Cretenses semper 
mendaces, malae bestiae, ventres pigri.' Sallust noteth that it is 
usual with KINGS to desire contradictories) { Sed plerumque, 
regies voluntates, ut vehementes sunt sic mobiles saepeque ipsae 
sibi adversae.' Tacitus observeth how rarely the raising of 
the fortune mendeth the disposition. ' Solus Vespasianus 
mutatus in melius.' Pindar maketh an observation that great 
and sudden fortune for the most part defeateth men. So the 
Psalm showeth it more easy to keep a measure in the enjoying 
of fortune, than in the increase of fortune; 'Divitiaa si affluant 
nolite cor apponere.' i These observations, and the like,' — what 
book is it that has so many of e the like 3 ? — ' I deny not but 
are touched a little by Aristotle as in passage in his Rhetorics, 
and are handled in some scattered discourses/ One would think 
it was another philosopher, with pretensions not at all inferior, 
but professedly very much, and altogether superior to those of 
Aristotle, whose short-comings were under criticism here; 'but 
they (these observations) were never incorporated into moral 
philosophy, to which they do ESSENTIALLY appertain, as THE 

doth to agriculture, and the knowledge of the diversity of 
complexions and CONSTITUTIONS doth to the physician; 


except' — note it — 'except we mean to follow the indiscretion 
of empirics, which minister the same medicines to all patients, * 

Truly this does appear to give us some vistas of a science, 
and a * pretty one/ for these particulars and illustrations are 
here, that we may see the better what it is, and whether it be 
extant. That is the question. And it happens singularly 
enough, to be a question just as pertinent now, as it was when 
the philosopher put it on his paper, two hundred and fifty 
years ago. 

There is the first point, then, in the table of this scientific 
history, with its subdivisions and articulations ; and here is the 
second, not less essential. * Another article of this knowledge 
is the inquiry touching the AFFECTIONS; for, as in medicin- 
ing the body,' — and it is a practical science we are on here; it is 
the cure of the mind, and not a word for show, — * as in medi- 
cining the body, it is in order, first, to know the divers com- 
plexions and constitutions; secondly, the diseases; and, lastly, 
the cures; so in medicining of the mind, — after knowledge of 
the divers characters of men's natures, it followeth, in order, to 
know the diseases and infirmities of the mind, which are no 
other than the perturbations and distempers of the affections/ 
And we shall find, under the head of the medicining of the 
body, some things on the subject of medicine in general, which 
could be better said there than here, because the wrath of pro- 
fessional dignitaries, — the eye of the c basilisk,' was not perhaps 
quite so terrible in that quarter then, as it was in some others. 
For though f the Doctors ' in that department, did manage, in 
the dark ages, to possess themselves of certain weapons of their 
own, which are said to have proved, on the whole, sufficiently 
formidable, they were not, as it happened, armed by the State 
as the others then were; and it was usually discretionary with 
the patient to avail himself, or not, of their drugs, and re- 
ceipts, and surgeries; whereas, in the diseased and suffering 
soul, no such discretion was tolerated. The drugs were in- 
deed compounded by the State in person, and the executive 
stood by, axe in hand, to see that they were taken, accompany- 
ing them with such other remedies as the case might seem to 


require ; the most serious operations being constantly per- 
formed without ever taking ' the sense ' of the patient. 

So we must not be surprised to find that this author who 
writes under such liabilities ' ventures to bring out the pith of 
his trunk of sciences, — that which sciences have in common, 
— the doctrine of the nature of things, — what he calls * prima 
philo sophia? when his learned sock is on — a little more strongly 
and fully in that branch of it, with a glance this way, with a 
distinct intimation that it is common to the two, and applies 
here as well. There, too, he complains of the ignorance of 
anatomy, which is just the complaint he has been making here, 
and that, for want of it, ' they quarrel many times with the 
humours which are not in fault, the fault being in the very 
frame and mechanic of the part, which cannot be removed by 
medicine alterative, but must be accommodated and palliated by 
diet and medicines familiar' There, too, he reports the lack of 
medicinal history, and gives directions for supplying it, just 
such directions as he gives here, but that which makes the 
astounding difference in the reading of these reports to-day, is, 
that the one has been accepted, and the other has not ; nay, 
that the one has been read, and the other has not: for how else 
can we account for the fact, that men of learning, in our time, 
come out and tell us deliberately, not merely that this man's 
place in history, is the place of one who devoted his genius to 
the promotion of the personal convenience and bodily welfare 
of men, but, that it is the place of one who gave up the nobler 
nature, deliberately, on principle, and after examination and 
reflection, as a thing past help from science, as a thing lying 
out of the range of philosophy ? How else comes it, that the 
critic to-day tells us, dares to tell us, that this leader's word to 
the new ages of advancement is, that there is no scientific ad- 
vancement to be looked for hei*e ? — how else could he tell us, 
with such vivid detail of illustration, that this innovator and 
proposer of advancement, never intended his Novum Organum 
to be applied to the cure of the moral diseases, to the subduing 
of the will and the AFFECTIONS, — but thought, because the 
old philosophy had failed, there was no use in trying the new; 


— because the philosophy of words, and preconceptions, had 
failed, the philosophy of observation and application, the philo- 
sophy of ideas as they are in nature, and not as they are in the 
mind of man merely, the philosophy of laivs, must fail also ; — 
because argument had failed, art was hopeless ; — because 
syllogisms, based on popular, unscientific notions were of no 
effect, practical axioms based on the scientific knowledge of 
natural causes, and on their specific developments, were going 
to be of none effect also ? If the passages which are now under 
consideration, had been so much as read, how could a learned 
man, in our time, tell us that the author of the ' Advancement 
of Learning ' had come with any such despairful word as that 
to us, — to tell us that the new science he was introducing 
upon this Globe theatre, the science of laws in nature, offered 
to Divinity and Morality no aid, — no ministry, no service 
in the cure of the mind ? And the reason why they have not 
been read, the reason why this part of the ' Advancement of 
Learning,' which is the principal part of it in the intention of 
its author, has been overlooked hitherto is, that the Aj:t of 
Tradition, which is described, here — the art of the Tradition, 
and delivery of knowledges which are foreign from opinions 
received, was in the hand of its inventor, and able to fulfil his 

After the knowledge of the divers characters of men's 
natures then, the next article of this inquiry is the diseases 
and infirmities of the mind, which are no other than the 
perturbations and distempers of the affections. For as 
the ancient politicians in popular estates were wont to compare 
the people to the sea, and the orators to the winds, because the 
sea would of itself be calm and quiet, if the winds did not move 
and trouble it ; so the people would be peaceable and tractable, if 
the seditious orators did not set them in working and agitation; so 
it may be fitly said, that the mind, in the nature thereof, would 
be temperate and stayed, if the affections, as winds, did not put 
it into tumult and perturbation. And here, again, I find, 
strange as before, that Aristotle should have written divers 
volumes of Ethics, and never handled THE affections, 


which is the principal subject thereof-, and yet, in his Rhetorics, 
where they are considered but collaterally, and in a second 
degree, as they may be moved by speech, he findeth place for 
them, and handleth them well for the quantity, but where their 
true place is, he pretermitteth them. (Very much the method 
of procedure adopted by the philosopher who composes that 
criticism ; who also finds a place for the affections in passing, 
where they are considered collaterally, and in a second degree, 
and for the quantity, he handleth them well, and who knows 
how to bring his Rhetorics to bear on them, as well as the 
politicians in popular estates did of old, though for a different 
end; but where their true place is, he, too, pretermitteth. them; 
and, in his Novum Organum, he keeps so clear of them, and 
pretermits them so fully, that the critics tell us he never meant 
it should touch them.) 'For it is not his disputations about 
pleasure and pain that can satisfy this inquiry, no more than 
he that should generally handle the nature of light can be said 
to handle the nature of colours; for pleasure and pain are to 
the particular affections as light is to the particular colours/ 
Is not this a man for particulars, then? And when he comes 
to the practical doctrine, — to the art — to the knowledge, 
which is power, — will he not have particulars here, as well as 
in those other arts which are based on them ? Will he not 
have particulars here, as well as in chemistry and natural phi- 
losophy, and botany and mineralogy; or, when it comes to 
practice here, will he be content, after all, with the old line of 
argument, and elegant disquisition, with the old generalities 
and subtleties of definition, which required no collection of 
particulars, which were independent of observation, or for 
which the popular accidental observation sufficed ? ' Better 
travels, I suppose, had the Stoics taken in this argument, as far 
as I can gather by that which we have at secondhand. But yet 
it is like it was after their manner, rather in subtlety of defini- 
tions, which, in a subject of this nature, are but curiosities, than 
in active and ample descriptions and observations. 
So, likewise, I find some particular writings of an elegant nature, 
touching some of the affections; as of anger, of comfort upon 


adverse accidents, of tenderness of countenance, and others.' 
And such writings were not confined to the ancients. Some 
of us have seen elegant writings of this nature, published 
under the name of the philosopher who composes this criticism, 
and suggests the possibility of essays of a more lively and ex- 
perimental kind, and who seems to think that the treatment 
should be ample, as well as active. 

* But the Poets and Writers of History are the best 
Doctors of this knowledge, where we may find, painted forth 
with great life, how affections are kindled and incited, and how 
pacified and refrained'? — certainly, that is the kind of learning 
we want here: — 'and how, again, contained from act and 
further degree f — very useful knowledge, one would say, and it 
is a pity it should not be \ diffused,' but it is not every poet 
who can be said to have it ; — ' how they disclose themselves — 
how they work — how they vary;' — this is the science of them 
clearly, whoever has it; — how they gather and fortify — how 
they are enwrapped one within another? — yes, there is one Poet, 
one Doctor of this science, in whom we can find that also; — 
1 and how they do fight and encounter one with another, and 
other like particularities.' We all know what Poet it is, to 
whose lively and ample descriptions of the affections and 
passions — to whose particularities — that description best ap- 
plies, and in what age of the world he lived ; but no one, who 
has not first studied them as scientific exhibitions, can begin 
to perceive the force — the exclusive force — of the reference. 
1 Amongst the which, this last is of special use in moral and 
CIVIL matters : how, I say, to set affection against affection, and 
to master one by another, even as we used to hunt beast with 
beast, and fly bird with bird, which otherwise, percase, we 
could not so easily recover.' The Poet has not only exhibited 
this with very voluminous and lively details, but he, too, has 
concluded his precept ; — 

' One fire burns out another's burning ' — 
1 One desperate grief cures with another's languish '— • 
1 Take thou some new infection to thine eye, 
And the rank poison of the old will die.' 

Romeo and Juliet 


* As fire drives out fire, so pity, pity ; 

And pity to the general wrong of Rome 

Hath done this deed on Ccesar? 

Jvlius Caesar. 

for it is the larger form, which is the worthier, in that new 
department of mixed mathematics which this philosopher was 

' One fire drives out one fire, one nail one nail : 
Eights by rights fouler, strength by strengths do fail.' 


And for history of cases, see the same author in Hamlet and 
other plays* 

* This philosopher's prose not unfrequently contains the key of the 
poetic paraphrase ; and the true reading of the line, which has occa- 
sioned so much perplexity to the critics, may, perhaps, be suggested by 
this connection — 'to set affection against affection, and to master one 
by another, even as we hunt beast with beast, and fly bird with bird.' 




Hast thou not learn'd me how 
To make perfumes ? distil ? preserve ? yea, so, 
That our great king himself doth woo me oft 
For my confections ? Having thus far proceeded, 
(Unless thou think'st me devilish,) is't not meet 
That I did amplify my judgment in 
Other conclusions ? Cymbeline. 

npHUS far, it is the science of Man, as he is, that is pro- 
- 1 - pounded. It is a scientific history of the Mind and its 
diseases, built up from particulars, as other scientific histories 
are; and having disposed, in this general manner, of that 
which must be dealt with by way of application, those points 
of nature and fortune, which he puts down as the basis and 
conditions to which all our WORK is limited and tied, we come 
now to that which is within our power — to those points which 
we can deal with by way of alteration, and not of applu 
cation merely ; and yet points which are operating perpetually 
on the human character, changing the will and appetite, and 
altering the conduct, by laws not less sure than those which 
operate in the occult processes of nature, and determine dif- 
ferences behind the scene, or out of the range of our volition. 

And if after having duly weighed the hints we have already 
received of the importance of the subject, we do not any 
longer suffer ourselves to be put off the track, or bewildered by 
the first rhetorical effect of the sentence in which these agencies 
are introduced to our attention, — if we look at that rapid series 
of words, as something else than the points of a period, if we 
stop long enough to recover from the confusion which a mere 
string of names, a catalogue or table of contents, crowded into 
a single sentence, will, of necessity, create, — if we stop long 
enough to see that each one of these words is a point in the 
table of a new science, we shall perceive at once, that after 


having made all this large allowance, this new allowance for 
that which is without our power, there is still a very, very large 
margin of operation, and discovery, and experiment left; that 
there is still a large scope of alteration left — alteration in man 
as he is. For we shall find that these forces which are within our 
power, are the very ones which are making, and always have been 
making, man what he is. Kunning our eye along this table of 
forces and supplies, with that understanding of its uses, we 
shall perceive at once, that we have the most ample material 
here, if it were but scientifically handled ; untried, inexhaustible 
means and appliances for raising man to the height of his 
pattern and original, to the stature of a perfect man. 

It is not the material of this regimen of growth and 
advancement, it is not the Materia Medica that is wanting, — 
it is the science of it. It is the natural history of these forces, 
with the precepts scientifically concluded on them, that is 
wanting. The appliances are here; the scientific application 
of them remains to be made, and until these have been tried, 
it is too early to pronounce on the case ; until these have been 
tried, just as other precepts of the new science have been, 
it is too soon to say that that science of nature, — that know- 
ledge of laws — that foreknowledge of effects, which operates so 
remedially in all other departments of the human life, is 
without application, is of no efficiency here ; until these have 
been tried it is too soon to say that the science of nature is not 
what the man who brought it in on this Globe theatre declared 
it to be, the handmaid of Divinity, the intelligent handmaid and 
minister of religion, to whose discretion in the economy of 
Providence, much, much has evidently been left. 

And it was no assumption in this man to claim, as he did 
claim, a divine and providential authority for this procedure. 
And those who intelligently fulfil their parts in this great en- 
terprise for man's relief, and the Creator's glory, have just as 
clear a right to say, as those of old who fulfilled with such 
means and lights, and inspirations as their time gave them, 
their part in the plan of the human advancement, • it is God 
who worketh in us.' 


' Now come we to those points which are within our com- 
mand, and have force and operation upon the mind, to affect 
the will and appetite, and to alter manners: wherein they 
ought to have handled custom, exercise, habit, edu- 

books, studies: these, as they have determinate use in 
moralities, from these the mind suffereth ; and of these are 
such receipts and regiments compounded and described, as 
may serve to recover or preserve the health and good estate of 
the mind, as far as pertaineth to human medicine; of which 
number we will insist upon some one or two, as an example of 
the rest, because it were too long to prosecute all. 9 But the 
careful reader perceives in that which follows, that the treat- 
ment of this so vital subject, though all that the author has to 
say upon it here, is condensed into these brief paragraphs, is 
not by any means so miscellaneous, as this introduction and 
' the first cogitation' on it, might, perhaps, have prepared him 
to find it. 

To be permitted to handle these forces openly, in the form 
of literary report, and recommendation, would, no doubt, have 
seemed to this inventor of sciences, in his day no small 
privilege. But there was another kind of experiment in them 
which he aspired to. He wished to take these forces in hand 
more directly, and compound recipes, with them, and other 
* regiments ' and cures. For by nature and carefullest study 
he was a Doctor in this degree and kind — and a man thus 
fitted, inevitably seeks his sphere. Very unlearned in this 
science of human nature which he has left us, — much wanting 
in analysis must he be, who can find in the persistent determi- 
nation of such a man to possess himself of places of trust and 
authority, only the vulgar desire for courtly distinction, and 
eagerness for the paraphernalia of office. This man was not 
wanting in any of the common natural sentiments; the private 
and particular nature was large in him, and that good to which 
he gives the preference in his comparison of those exclusive 
aims and enjoyments, is ' the good which is active, and not that 



which is passive 1 ; both as it tends to secure that individual 
perpetuity which is the especial craving of men thus specially 
endowed, and on account of f that affection for variety and pro- 
ceeding ' which is also common to men, and specially developed 
in such men, — an affection which the goods of the passive 
nature are not able to satisfy. * But in enterprises, pursuits and 
purposes of life, there is much variety whereof men are sensi- 
ble with pleasure in their inceptions, progressions, recoils, 
re-integration, approaches and attainings to their ends.' And he 
gives us a long insight into his own particular nature and history 
in that sentence. He is careful to distinguish this kind of 
good from the good of society, ' though in some cases it hath 
an incident to it. For that gigantine state of mind which 
possesseth the troublers of the world, such as was Lucius Sylla, 
and infinite other in smaller model, who would have all men 
happy or unhappy, as they were their friends or enemies, and 
would give form to the world according to their own humours, 
which is the true theomachy, pretendeth and aspireth to active 
good though it recedeth farthest from that good of society, which 
we have determined to be the greater. 1 

In no troubler or benefactor of the world, on the largest 
scale, in no theomachist of any age, whether intelligent and 
benevolent, or demoniacal and evil, had this nature which he 
here defines so clearly, ever been more largely incorporated, 
or more effectively armed. But in him this tendency to per- 
sonal aggrandisement was overlooked, and subordinated by the 
larger nature, — by the intelligence which includes the whole, 
and is able to weigh the part with it, and by the sentiments 
which enforce or anticipate intelligent decision. 

Both these facts must be taken into the account, if we would 
read his history fairly. For he composed for himself a plan of 
living, in which this naturally intense desire for an individual 
perpetuity and renown, and this love of action and enterprise 
for its own sake, was sternly subordinated to the noblest ends 
of living, to the largest good of his kind, to the divine and 
eternal law of duty, to the relief of man's estate and the 
Creator's glory. And without making any claim on his 


behalf, which it would be unworthy to make for one to whom 
the truth was dearer than the opinions of men ; it may be 
asserted, that whatever errors of judgment or passion, we may 
find, or think we find in him, these ends were with him pre- 
dominant, and shaped his course. 

He was not naturally a man of letters, but a man of action, 
intensely impelled to action, and it was because he was for- 
bidden to fulfil his enterprise in person, because he had to 
write letters of direction to those to whom he was compelled 
to entrust it, because he had to write letters to the future, and 
leave himself and his will in letters, that letters became, in his 
hands, practical. He, too, knew what it was to be compelled 
* to unpack his heart in words ' when deeds should have ex- 
pressed it. 

But even words are forbidden him here. After all the pains 
he has taken to show us what the deficiency is which he is 
reporting here, and what the art and science which he is pro- 
posing, he can only put down a few paragraphs on the subject, 
casually, as it were, in passing. Of all these forces which have 
operation on the mind, and with which scientific appliances 
for the human mind should be compounded, he can only e insist 
upon some one or two as an example of the rest.' 

That was all that a writer, who was at the same time a 
public man, could venture on, — a writer who had once been 
under violent political suspicion, and was still eagerly watched, 
and especially by one class of public functionaries, who seemed 
to feel, that with all his deference to their claims, there was 
something there not quite friendly to them, this was all that 
he could undertake to insist upon l in that place.' But a 
writer who had the advantage of being already defunct — a 
writer whose estate on the earth was then already done, and 
who was in no kind of danger of losing either his head or his 
place, could of course manage this part of the subject differ- 
ently. He would not find it too long to prosecute all, perhaps. 
And if he had at the same time the advantage of a foreign 
name and seignorie, he could come out in England at this verj' 
crisis with the freest exhibitions of the points which are here 



only indicated. He could even put them down openly in his 
table of contents, every one of them, and make them the titles 
of his chapters. 

There was a work published in England, in that age, in 
which these forces, of which only the catalogue is inserted here, 
these forces which are in our power, which we can alter, forces 
from which the mind suffer eth, which have operation upon the 
mind to affect the will and appetite, are directly dealt with in 
the most subtle and artistic manner, in the form of literary 
essay; and in the bolder chapters, the author's observations and 
criticisms are clearly put down ; his scientific suggestions of 
alterations and new compounds, his scientific doctrine of care- 
ful alterations^ scientific doctrine of surgery, and adaptation 
of regimen, and cure to different ages, and differing social con- 
ditions, are all promiscuously filed in, and the English public 
swallows it without any difficulty at all, and perceives nothing 
disagreeable or dangerous in it. 

This work contains, also, some of those other parts of the 
new science which have just been reported as wanting, parts 
which are said by the inventor of this science, to have a great 
ministry and suppeditation to policy, as well as morality, and 
the natural history of the creature, which it is here proposed 
to reform, is brought out without any regard whatever to con- 
siderations which would inevitably affect a moralist, looking at 
the subject from any less earnest and practical — from any less 
elevated point of view. 

Of course, it was perfectly competent for a Gascon whose 
gasconading was understood to be without any motive beyond 
that of vanity and egotism, and without any incidence to effects, 
to say, in the way of mere foolery, many things which an 
English statesman could not then so well endorse. And in 
case his personality were called in question, there was the 
mountain to retreat to, and the saint of the mount, in whose 
behalf the goose is annually sacrificed by the English people, 
the saint under whose shield and name the great English phi- 
losopher sleeps. In fact, this personage is not so limited in his 
quarters as the proper name might seem to imply. One does 



not have to go to the south of France to find him. But it is 
certainly remarkable, that a work in Natural History, com- 
posed by the inventors of the science of observation, and the 
first in the field, containing their observations in that part of 
the field too, in which the deficiency appeared to them most 
important, should have been able to pass so long under so thin 
a disguise, under this merest gauze of egotism, unchallenged. 

These essaies, however, have not been without result. They 
have been operating incessantly, ever since, directly upon the 
leading minds, and indirectly upon the minds of men in gene- 
ral, (for many who had never read the book, have all their 
lives felt its influence), and tending gradually to the clearing 
up of the human intelligence in ' the practice part of life ' in 
general, and to the development of a common sense on the 
topics here handled, much more creditable to the species than 
anything that the author could find stirring in his age. When 
the works which the propounders of the Great Instauration 
took pains to get composed by way of filling up their plan of 
it, a little, come to be collected and bound, this one will have 
to find its place among them. 

But here, at home, in his own historical name and figure, in 
his own person, instead of conducting his magnificent scientific 
experiments on that scale which the genius of his activity, and 
the largeness of his good will, would have prescribed to him, 
instead of founding his House of Solomon as he would have 
founded it, (as - that proximity to the throne, when it was the 
throne of an absolute monarch might have enabled him to 
found it, if the monarch he found there had been, indeed, 
what he claimed to be, a lover of learning,) instead of such 
large help and countenance as that of the king, to whom this 
great proposition was addressed, the philosopher of that time 
could not even venture on a literary essay in this field under 
that protection ; it was as much as he could do, it was as much 
as his favor with the king was worth, to slip in here, in this 
conspicuous place, where it would be sure to be found, sooner 
or later, the index of his essaies. 

' It would be too long] he says, ' to inquire here into the 


operation of all these social forces that are making men, that 
are doing more to make them what they are, than nature her- 
self is doing,' for, « know thou/ the Poet of this Philosophy says, 
1 know thou MEN ARE as the TIME IS.' He has included here, 
in these points which he would have scientifically handled, that 
which makes times, that which can be altered, that which Ad- 
vancements of Learning, however, set on foot at first, are sure 
in the end to alter. ' We will insist upon some one or two as 
an example of the rest/ And we find that the points he resumes 
to speak of here, are, indeed, points of primary consequence; 
social forces that do indeed need a scientific control, effects re- 
ported, and precepts concluded. Custom and Habit, Books and 
Studies, and then a kind of culture, which he says, * seemeth 
to be more accurate and elaborate than the rest,' which we 
find, upon examination, to be a strictly religious culture, and 
lastly the method to which he gives the preference, as the most 
compendious and summary in its formative or reforming influ- 
ence, f the electing and propounding unto a man's self good and 
virtuous ends of his life, such as may be in a reasonable sort 
within his compass to attain.' He says enough under these 
heads to show the difficulty of writing on a subject where the 
science has been reported wanting, while the ' Art and Practice* 
is prescribed. 

He lays much stress on custom and habit, and gives some 
few precepts for its management, ' made out of the pith and 
heart of sciences,' but he speaks briefly, and chiefly for the 
purpose of indicating the value he attaches to this point, for he 
concludes his precepts and observations on it, thus. ' Many 
other axioms there are, touching the managing of exercise and 
custom, which being so conducted, — scientifically conducted — 
do prove, iWeei another nature ['almost, can change the 
stamp of nature,' — is Hamlet's word on this point] ; but being 
governed by chance, doth commonly prove but AN APE of 
nature, and bringeth forth that which is lame and counterfeit.' 
For not less than that is the difference between the scientific 
administration of these things, from which the mind suffereth, 
and the blind, hap-hazard one. 


But in proceeding to the next point on which he ventures 
to offer some suggestions, that of books and studies, we 
shall do well to take with us that general doctrine of cure, 
founded upon the nature of things, which he produces under 
the head of the cure of the body, with a distinct allusion to 
its proper application here. And it is well to observe how 
exactly the tone of the criticism in this department, chimes in 
with that of the criticism already reported here. * In the con- 
sideration of the cures of diseases, I find a deficiency in the 
receipts of propriety respecting the particular cures of diseases ; 
for the physicians have frustrated the fruit of tradition, and 
experience, by their magistracies in adding and taking out, and 
changing quid pro quo in their receipts at their pleasure, 
commanding SO OVER the medicine, as the medicine 
cannot command over the disease? that is a piece of criticism 
which appears to belong to the general subject of cure; and 
here is one which he himself stops to apply to a different 
branch of it. 

'But, lest I grow more particular than is agreeable, either to 
my intention or proportion, I will conclude this part with the 
note of one deficiency more, which seemeth to me of greatest 
consequence, which is, that the prescripts in use are too com- 
pendious TO ATTAIN THEIR END; for, to my understanding, 
it is a vain and flattering opinion to think any medicine can be 
so sovereign, or so happy, as that the receipt or use of it can 
work any great effect upon the body of man : it were a strange 
speech, which spoken, or spoken oft, should reclaim a man from 
a vice to which he were by nature subject; it is order, pursuit, 
sequence, and interchange of application which is mighty in 
nature,' (and it is power we are inquiring for here) ' which, 
although it requires more exact knowledge in prescribing, and 
more precise obedience in observing, yet it is recompensed with 
the magnitude of effects/ 

Possessed now of his general theory of cure, we shall better 
understand his particular suggestions in regard to these medi- 
cines and alteratives of the mind and manners, which are here 
under consideration. 


' So if we should handle BOOKS and studies/ he con- 
tinues,, 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 f ' 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 accumula- 
tions 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 re- 
volved — revolved — as they should be, by men in mature years' 
But unlearned people are always beginners. And it is dan- 
gerous to put them upon the task, or to leave them to the task 
of remodelling their beliefs and adapting them to the ad- 
vancing stages of human development. He, too, thinks it 
is easier to overthrow the old opinions, than it is to dis- 
criminate 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 con- 
ducted, 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 effec- 
tive to that end, in the course of a popular advancement, or 
change of any kind, have lost that virtue, let them be ex- 


amined; let the translation of them be scientifically accom- 
plished, 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 inefncacies ; 
for the lack of a leadership which should have been able 
to discriminate for them, and forestall this empirical pro- 

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 demonumj 
because it increaseth temptations, perturbations, and vain 
opinions'? Is not the opinion of Aristotle worthy to be re- 
garded, 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 — 

1 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 learn- 
ing 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. 

1 And doth it not hereof come, that those excellent books 
and discourses of the ancient writers, whereby they have per- 
suaded unto virtue most effectually, by representing her in state 
and majesty, and popular opinions against virtue in their 
parasites 1 coats, fit to be scorned and derided, are of so little 
effect towards honesty of life — 

[Polonius. — Honest, my lord 1 
Hamlet. — Ay, honest.] 

— because they are not read and revolved by men, in their ma- 
ture 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 cor- 
rupted, and made apt to think that there are no true differ- 
ences of things, but according to utility and fortune.' 

By putting in here two or three of those f elegant sentences ' 
which the author has taken out from their connections in his 
discourses, and strung together, by way of making more per- 
ceptible 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. 1 ' 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 1 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 ac- 
quaintance 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 experi- 
ence 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 sub- 
stitute 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. 

1 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 : ' Hsec 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 agen- 
cies 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 con- 
cludes 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 com- 
mends 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. 

1 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 mat- 
ters 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: es- 
pecially 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?' 

1. — 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 

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 substi- 
tute learning for preconception, in the main department of 
human practice, brought out with all the emphasis and signi- 
ficance 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 

'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 gemmae somni portse, quarum altera fertur 
Cornea, qua veris facilis datur exitus umbris : 
Altera candenti perfecta nitens elephanto, 
Sed falsa ad ccelum 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.' 



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. 


fpHIS 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 
1 the parts ' of this science, which the propounder of it is here 
enumerating — that consideration which the concluding pa- 
ragraph 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 con- 
fectionery, 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 expe- 
rience; 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 seve- 
ral characters and tempers of men's natures and dispositions 
1 that the secret disposition of each particular man may be laid 
open, and from a knowledge of the whole, the precepts concern- 
ing 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 abstrac- 
tion, and generalities of the ancient morality, for those obser- 
vations and experiments which it is the legitimate business of 
the poet to conduct, though the poet, in conducting these ob- 
servations 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 phi- 
losophy or mere abstract statement on the other, as correspond- 
ing to the faculty of Reason ; for it is that great radical de- 
partment of learning, which is referred to the Imagination, that 
constitutes in this distribution of learning the third grand divi- 
sion 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 philoso- 
phers 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 j ust 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 ex- 
plains more at large the conditions which this kind of exhi- 
bition 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 charac- 
terised, 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 politi- 
cal 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 in- 
surrectibns. 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 enter- 
prises of rebellious subjects, which are frequently disappointed 
and frustrated by vain fears and empty rumours. Nor is it won- 
der if sometimes a piece of history or other things are intro- 
duced 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 under- 
stand 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 mo- 
dern, 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 pas- 
sage 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 an- 
cients, he concludes in this manner: * But if any one shall, 
notwithstanding this, contend that allegories are always adven- 
titious, 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 hind 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, accom- 
panied 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 think- 
ing 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 ques- 
tion 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 #r«w?r readers— thoseof thedull and 
phlegmatic kind — in the preceding paragraph, and not think- 
ing 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] 1 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 in- 
tended 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, ff 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 under- 
standing, [who was it that proposed to do that?] and conquer 
prejudices without raising animosities, opposition, or disturb- 
ance — [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 Phi- 
losophy? * 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 THEM- 

But he complains of those who have attempted such inter- 

* 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. 1 * 



pretations 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 inter- 
pretation 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 my- 
self, 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?— l I expect to appear new in these 
common things/ But elsewhere, where he lays out the argu- 
ment 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 por- 
traitures 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 
make no point, — could leave no furrow in it? 

' Where souls do couch on flowers, we '11 hand in hand, 
And with our sprightly port make the ghosts gaze : 
Dido and her iEneas 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 limes, 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 de- 
liberat, 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. c And if it be said,' he con- 
tinues, 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 disce?-n of the 
mistress 9 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 

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 appli- 
cation? 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 na- 
ture, puts into our hands, in every other practice, in every 
other -culture and cure, — will you have the rule of this know- 
ledge imposed upon your fields, and orchards, and gardens, 
to assist weak nature in her f 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 de- 
partment of art and science, — this, in which the sum of our 
good and evil is contained, — in a mere oversight of it, in a dis- 
graceful indifference] and carelessness about it, be content to 
accept, without criticism, the machinery of the past — instru- 
mentalities 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 un- 
watched, 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 
1 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 pro- 
gramme, 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, 
4 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 ac- 
credited, 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. 3 

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 ex- 
emplified; 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 f moral knowledge 3 is able to recog- 
nise 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 pri- 
vate 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 quarite,' which he produces, — clothing it 
with the authority and severe exaction of a scientific rule in 
art, — that same ' Primum qucerite ' 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 qucerite' For divinity saith, 'Seek first the 
kingdom of God, and all other things shall be added to you ' ; 
and philosophy saith, 'Primum quaerite bona animicsetera 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 Keve- 
lation 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 investiga- 
tion 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 and suppeditation } to their end? 
Who shall say that the Regimen of the mind, that its Educa- 
tion and healthful culture, as well as its cure, shall be able to 
accept of no instrumentalities from the advancement of learn- 
ing? 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 Provi- 
dence 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 neg- 
lect of means and instruments already in our power; and in 
that book of these new ages in which the doctrine of a suc- 
cessful 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 in- 
strumentality, 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 compe- 
tent to oppose this benefaction ? Alas for such an one ! let us 
take up a lamentation for him. He has stayed too long; he 
is 'lated in the world/ The constitution of things, the uni- 
versal 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 Tra- 
dition, 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. 





Reason cannot be so sensible, nor examples so fit. 

Advancement of Learning. 



npHE 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 Learn- 
ing, — 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. 3 
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 

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 i dis- 
persed 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 mag- 
nitude 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 exact- 
ing 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 pas- 
time 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 our- 
selvers 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 subtilty 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, de- 
signed 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 pur- 
poses of discourse, and mere oratory, to those principles which 
are actual and historical, those simple radical forms and dif- 
ferences on which the doctrine of power and practice must be 

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 pur- 
pose, and now that the times are ripe for the learning which 
they contain, only serves indeed to hinder it. And the illus- 
trations 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. 




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 sub- 
jects, 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 de- 
partment 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 hu- 
man need, which are marked out for it in the Great Instau- 
ration — 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 enterprize, 
for which he was the responsible person in his own time — 
that scheme which he wrote out, and put in among these pub- 
lished 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 710/ a vain promisor. 

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 pro- 
fessing 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 

N 2 


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 de- 
scription of the new method, or the Novum Organum, which 
makes the SECOND ; why don't they go on to the ' new phi- 
losophy 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 In- 
stances; 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 ter- 
minology 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 pro- 
foundly 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 advan- 
tages 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 yef wanting; and the collec- 
tions 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 osten- 
tatiously, 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 con- 
siderable portion of the description of his new method to the 
grounds of l 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 judg- 
ments ; but would rather lead them willingly forward. And al- 
though 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 promises 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. 
i The fourth part of the Instauration/ he says again in his 
formal description of it, ' enters upon philosophy itself, fur- 
nishing 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,* but perfect models, which will ex- 
emplify 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 subtile demonstra- 
tions in mathematics. 1 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 

* 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 philo- 
sophy corresponds to the cause, in practical philosophy becomes the 
rule,' and the axiom of practice, ready for use, is the final result. 


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 sub- 
jects? Where are the diagrams, in which the order of the investi- 
gation 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 inas- 
much as the most able critics have never been able to compre- 
hend that intention fully in their criticism. And it is bound 
up with many others, in which the subjects are not less care- 
fully chosen, and in which the method of inquiry is the same; 
in which that same method that is exhibited in the ' Novum 
Organ urn ' in the abstract, or in its application to the investiga- 
tion of the physical phenomena, is everywhere illustrated in the 
most chosen subjects — in subjects of the noblest kind. This vo- 
lume, 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 hi3 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 ap- 
peals from those nearer ages, and to which he expressly dedi- 
cates 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 \ prin- 
cipal ' part of it. All that is good for anything in it, according 
to the author's own estimate. The rest serves merely l 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 en- 
counter 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 prac- 
tice 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 dis- 
covery is ground already necessarily comprehended in the pre- 
conceptions 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, spe- 


CIMENS — living ones, and that these will occupy the pro- 
minent 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 sub- 
stance, 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 Bhetoric, 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 termi- 
nology 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 an- 

* Let us begin from God,' he says, when he begins to open 
his ground of hope, after he has exposed the wretched con- 
dition of men as he finds them, without any scientific know- 
ledge 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 impor- 
tant, — 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 legiti- 
mate sovereignty, is to be inducted, and the scientific axioms 
of government with it. We want to see the science of ob- 
servation 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 authors answer to it. ' And as common logic which regu- 
lates matters by syllogism, is applied, not only to natural, but 
to every other science, so our inductive method likewise com- 
prehends 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 con- 
tinues, ' 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 satis- 
faction of this class of readers. But this is that same fourth 
part to which he refers us in the other places for the applica- 
tion 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 philo- 
sophy, 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 posession 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 philo- 
sopher 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 philo- 
sophy had tended to enrich their collections in this depart- 
ment, — ' and the aim is better,' says the principal spokesman of 
this school, who quietly proposes to introduce this method into 
politics, l the aim is better when the mark is alive ; notwith- 
standing 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 re- 
quired 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 accomplish- 
ments of their time, had adopted that same method of in- 
fluencing 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 magi- 
cian' 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.' 



* I think the king is but a man, as I am.' — King Henry. 
~*~"-~- j< They told me I was everything.' — Lear. 

f\F 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: — f 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 sup- 
posed 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 reflec- 
tions 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 rigol ' 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 se- 
verely 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 search- 
ing what Lord Bacon reverently tells us, the Scriptures pro- 
nounce to be inscrutable, namely, the hearts of kings, and au- 
daciously laying bare those private passages, those confessions, 
and misgivings, and frailties, for which policy and reverence pre- 
scribe 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. 

So, too, that profoundly philosophical suspicion, that a rose, 
or a violet, did actually smell, to a person occupying this 


ig4 lear's philosopher. 

sublime position, very much as it did to another; a suspicion 
which, in the mouth of a common man, would have been 
literally sufficient to 'make a star-chamber matter of; and all 
that thorough-going analysis of the trick and pageant of 
majesty which follows it, would, of course, come only as a 
graceful concession, from the mouth of that genuine piece of 
royalty, who contrives to hide so much of the poet's own 
< sovereignty of nature, 1 under the mantle of his free and 
princely humours, the brave and gentle hero of Agincourt. 

' Though I speak it to you/ he says, talking in the disguise 
of a ' private/ ' J think the King is but a man as I am, the 
violet smells to him as it doth to me; all his senses, have but 
human conditions. His ceremonies laid by, in his nakedness, 
he appears but a man; and though his affections are higher 
mounted than ours, yet, when they stoop, they stoop with the 
like wing. When he sees reason of fears, as we do, his 
fears, out of doubt, be of the same relish as ours are'; and in 
the same scene, thus the royal philosopher versifies, and 
soliloquises on the same delicate question. 

4 And what have kings that 'privates 7 have not, too, save cere- 
mony, — gave general ceremony? And what art thou, thou idol 
ceremony ? — What is thy soul of adoration ? 

A grave question, for a man of an inquiring habit of mind, 
in those times : let us see how a Poet can answer it. 

'Art thou aught else but 'place, degree and form, 
Creating awe and fear in other men? 
Wherein, thou art less happy, being feared, 
Than they in fearing ?* 

* Again and again this man has told us, and on his oath, that he che- 
rished no evil intentions, no thought of harm to the king ; and those who 
know what criticisms on the state, as it was then, he had authorised, 
and what changes in it he was certainly meditating and preparing the way 
for, have charged him with falsehood and perjury on that account ; but 
this is what he means. He thinks that wretched victim of that most 
irrational and monstrous state of things, on whose head the crown of 
an arbitrary rule is placed, with all its responsibilities, in his infinite 
unfitness for them, is, in fact, the one whose case most of all requires 
relief. He is the one, in this theory, who suffers from this unnatural 
state of things, not less, but more, than his meanest subject. 'Thou 
art less happy being feared, than they in fearing.' 


What drink' st thou oft instead of homage sweet 
But poison 'd flattery ? 0! be sick, great greatness, 
And bid thy ceremony give thee cure. 
Thinkest thou the fiery fever will go out 
"With titles blown from adulation ? 
Will it give place to flexure and low bending V 

Interesting physiological questions ! And though the author, 
for reasons of his own, has seen fit to put them in blank verse 
here, it is not because he does not understand, as we shall see 
elsewhere, that they are questions of a truly scientific character, 
which require to be put in prose in his time — questions of 
vital consequence to all men. The effect of ' poisoned flattery/ 
and ' titles blown from adulation' on the minds, of those to 
whose single will and caprice the whole welfare of the state, 
and all the gravest questions for this life and the next, were 
then entrusted, naturally appeared to the philosophical mind, 
perseveringly addicted to inquiries, in which the practical 
interests of men were involved, a question of gravest moment. 

But here it is the physical difference which accompanies 
this so immense human distinction, which he appears to be in 
quest of; it is the control over nature with which these 
1 farcical titles' invest their possessor, that he appears to be now 
pertinaciously bent upon ascertaining. For we shall find, as 
we pursue the subject, that this is not an accidental point 
here, a casual incident of the character, or of the plot, a thing 
which belongs to the play, and not to the author; but that 
this is a poet who is somehow perpetually haunted with the 
^impression that those who assume a divine right to control, 
>and dispose of their fellow-men, ought to exhibit some sign of 
^their authority ; some superior abilities ; some magical control ; 
some light and power that other men have not. How he came 
by any such notions, the critic of his works is, of course, not 
bound to show ; but that which meets him at the first reading 
is the fact, the incontestable fact, that the Poet of Shakspere's 
stage, be he who he may, is a poet whose mind is in some way 
deeply occupied with this question ; that it is a poet who is 
infected, and, indeed, perfectly possessed, with the idea, that 
the true human leadership ought to consist in the ability to 


196 LEAR'S philosopher. 

extend the empire of man over nature, — in the ability to unite 
and control men, and lead them in battalions against those com- 
mon evils which infest the human conditions, — not fevers only 
but c worser* evils, and harder to be cured, and to the conquest 
of those supernal blessings which the human race have always 
been vainly crying for. ' I am a king that find thee,' he says. 

And having this inveterate notion of a true human regality 
to begin with, he is naturally the more curious and prying in 
regard to the claims of the one which he finds in possession; 
and when by the mystery of his profession and art, he contrives 
to get the cloak of that factitious royalty about him, he asks 
questions under its cover which another man would not think 
of putting. 

4 Canst thou/ he continues, walking up and down the stage 
in King Hal's mantle, inquiring narrowly into its virtues and 
taking advantage of that occasion to ascertain the limits of the 
prerogative — that very dubious question then, — 

1 Canst thou when thou command' st the beggar's knee, 
Command the health of it 1 ' — 

No? what mockery of power is it then? But, this in con- 
nection with the preceding inquiry in regard to the effect of 
titles on the progress of a fever, or the amenability of its pa- 
roxysm, to flexure and low bending, might have seemed per- 
haps in the mouth of a subject to savour somewhat of irony; it 
might have sounded too much like a taunt upon the royal 
helplessness under cover of a serious philosophical inquiry, or 
it might have betrayed in such an one a disposition to pursue 
scientific inquiries farther than was perhaps expedient. But 
thus it is, that the king can dare to pursue the subject, 
answering his own questions. 

'No, thou proud dream 
That play st so subtly with a king's repose ; 
/am a king that find thee; and I know 
'Tis not the the balm, the sceptre, and the ball, 
The sword, the mace, the crown imperial, 
The inter-tissued robe of gold and pearl. 
The farced title— 
What is that?— Mark it: — the farced title!— A bold 
word, one would say, even with a king to authorise it. 


The farced title running 'fore the king, 
The throne he sits on, nor the tide of pomp 
That beats upon the high shore of this world, 
No, not all these, thrice gorgeous ceremony, 
Not all these laid in bed majestical, 
Can sleep so soundly as the wretched slave 
Who, with a body filled, and vacant mind, 
Gets him to rest crammed with distressful bread, 
Never sees horrid night, the child of hell, 
But like a lackey from the rise to set 
Sweats in the eye of Phoebus ; and all night 
Sleeps in Elysium. 

Yes, there we have him, at last. There he is exactly. 
That is the scientific picture of him, 'poor man,' as this 
poet calls him elsewhere. What malice could a philosophic 
poet bear him ? That is the monarchy that men were e sanc- 
tifying themselves with,' and 'turning up the white of the eye 
to/ then. That is the figure that it makes when it comes to 
be laid in its state -bed, upon the scientific table of review, 
not in the formal manner of ' the second part ' of this philo- 
sophy, but in that other manner which the author of the 
Novum Organum, speaks of so frequently, as the one to be 
used in applying it to subjects of this nature. That is the 
anatomy of him, which * our method of inquiry and investiga- 
tion/ brings out without much trouble * when we come to 
particulars/ ■ Truly we were in good hands/ as the other one 
says, who finds it more convenient, for his part, to discourse 
on these points, from a distance. 

That is the figure the usurping monarch's pretensions make 
at the first blush, in the collections from which ' the vintage ' 
of the true sovereignty, and the scientific principles of govern- 
ments are to be expressed, when the true monarchy, the legiti- 
mate, ' one only man power,' is the thing inquired for. This 
one goes to * the negative ' side apparently. A wretched 
fellow that cannot so much as ' sleep o' nights,' that lies there 
on the stage in the play of Henry the Fourth, in the sight of 
all the people, with the crown on his very pillow, by way 
of ' facilitating the demonstration/ pining for the * Elysium.' 
that his meanest subject, — that the poor slave, ' crammed with 
distressful bread/ commands; crying for the luxury that the 

198 leak's philosopher. 

wet seaboy, on his high and giddy couch enjoys; — and from 
whose note-book came that image, dashed with the ocean 
spray, — who saw that seaboy sleeping in that storm? 

But, as for this KING, it is the king which the scientific 
history brings out; whereas, in the other sort of history that 
was in use then, he is hardly distinguishable at all from those 
Mexican kings who undertook to keep the heavenly bodies in 
their places, and, at the same time, to cause all things to be 
borne by the earth which were requisite for the comfort and 
convenience of man; a peculiarity of those sovereigns, of which 
the Man on the Mountains, w r hose study is so well situated 
for observations of that sort, makes such a pleasant note. 

But whatever other view we may take of it, this, it must be 
conceded, is a tolerably comprehensive exhibition, in the general, 
of the mere pageant of royalty, and a pretty free mode of 
handling it; but it is at the same time a privileged and entirely 
safe one. For the liberty of this great Prince to repeat to him- 
self, in the course of a solitary stroll through his own camp at 
midnight, when nobody is supposed to be within hearing, cer- 
tain philosophical conclusions which he was understood to have 
arrived at in the course of his own regal experience, could 
hardly be called in question. And as to that most extraordinary 
conversation in which, by means of his disguise on this occasion, 
he becomes a participator, if the Prince himself were too gene- 
rous to avail himself of it to the harm of the speakers, it would 
ill become any one else to take exceptions at it. 

And yet it is a conversation in which a party of common 
soldiers are permitted to * speak their minds freely ' for once, 
though ' the blank verse has to halt for it,' on questions which 
would be considered at present questions of * gravity/ It is a 
dialogue in which these men are allowed to discuss one of the 
most important institutions of their time from an ethical point 
of view, in a tone as free as the president of a Peace Society 
could use to-day in discussing the same topic, intermingling 
their remarks with criticisms on the government, and personal 
allusions to the king himself, which would seem to be more in 
accordance with the manners of the nineteenth century, than 
with those of the Poet's time. 


But then these wicked and treasonous grumblings being for- 
tunately encountered on the spot, and corrected by the king 
himself in his own august person, would only serve for edifica- 
tion in the end; if, indeed, that appeal to the national pride 
which would conclude the matter, and the glory of that great 
day which was even then breaking in the East, should leave 
room for any reflections upon it. For it was none other than 
the field of Agincourt that was subjected to this philosophic in- 
quiry. It was the lustre of that immortal victory which was 
to England then, what Waterloo and the victories of Nelson 
are now, that was thus chemically treated beforehand. Under 
the cover of that renowned triumph, it was, that these soldiers 
could venture to search so deeply the question of war in gene- 
ral ; it was in the person of its imperial hero, that the statesman 
could venture to touch so boldly, an institution which gave to 
one man, by his own confession no better or wiser than his 
neighbours, the power to involve nations in such horrors. 

But let us join the king in his stroll, and hear for ourselves, 
what it is that these soldiers are discussing, by the camp-fires of 
Agincourt] — what it is that this first voice from the ranks has 
to say for itself. The king has just encountered by the way a 
poetical sentinel, who, not satisfied with the watchword — ' a 
friend, 1 — requests the disguised prince ' to discuss to him, and 
answer, whether he is an officer, or base, common, and popular/ 
when the king lights on this little group, and the discussion 
which Pistol had solicited, apparently on his own behalf, ac- 
tually takes place, for the benefit of the Poet's audience, and 
the answer to these inquiries comes out in due order. 

Court. Brother John Bates, is not that the morning which breaks 
yonder ? 

Bates. I think it be, but we have no great cause to desire the ap- 
proach of day. 

Will. We see yonder the beginning of the day, but I think we shall 
never see the end of it. Who goes there ? 

King Henry. A friend. 

Will. Under what captain serve you ? 

King. Under Sir Thomas Erpingham. 

Witt. A good old commander, and a most kind gentleman : I pray 
you, what thinks he of our estate ? 

200 LEAR'S philosopher. 

King. Even as men wrecked upon a sand, that look to be washed 
off the next tide. 

Bates. He hath not told his thought to the king ? 

King. No ; nor it is not meet that he should ; for though I speak 
it to you, I think the king is but a man as I am. 

And it is here that he proceeds to make that important 
disclosure above quoted, that all his senses have but human 
conditions, and that all his affections, though higher mounted, 
stoop with the like wing ; and therefore no man should in reason 
possess him with any appearance of fear, lest he, by showing it, 
' should dishearten his army.' 

Bates. He may show what outward courage he will ; but, / believe, 
as cold a night as 'tis, he could wish himself in the Thames, up to the 
neck ; and so I would he were, and I by him, at all adventures, so we 
were quit here. 

King. By my troth, I will speak my conscience of the king. I think 
he would not wish himself anywhere but where he is. 

Bates. Then would he were here alone ; so should he be sure to be 
ransomed, and a many poor men's lives saved. 

King. I dare say you love him not so ill as to wish him here alone ; 
howsoever you speak this to feel other men's minds : Me thinks I could not 
die anywhere so contented as in the king's company ; his cause being 
just, and his quarrel honorable. 

Will. Thats more than we know. 

Bates. Ay, or more than we should seek after ; for we know enough, 
if we know we are the king's subjects ; if his cause be wrong, our 
obedience to the king wipes the crime of it out of us. 

Will. But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy 
reckoning to make ; when all those legs and arms and heads chopped 
off in a battle shall join together at the latter day, and cry all — We 
died at such a place ; some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some 
upon their wives left poor behind them : some upon the debts they 
owe ; some upon their children rawly left. I am afeared that few die 
well, that die in battle ; for how can they charitably dispose of any- 
thing when blood is their argument ? Now if these men do not die well, 
it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it ; whom to 
disobey were against all proportion of subjection. 

King. So, if a son that is by his father sent about merchandise, do 
sinfully miscarry upon the sea, the imputation of his wickedness, by your 
rule, should be imposed upon his father that sent him : or if a servant, 
under his master's command, transporting a sum of money, be assailed 
by robbers, and die in many irreconciled iniquities, you may call the 
business of the master the author of the servant's damnation.— But 


this is not so There is no king, be his cause never so spotless, if 

it come to the arbitrement of swords, can try it out with all un- 
spotted soldiers. 

But the king pursues this question of the royal responsibility 
until he arrives at the conclusion that every subject's duty is 


until he shows, indeed, that there is but one ultimate sove- 
reignty ; one to which the king and his subjects are alike 
amenable, which pursues them everywhere, with its demands 
and reckonings, — from whose violated laws there is no escape. 

Will. 'Tis certain, every man that dies ill, the ill is upon his own 
head — [no unimportant point in the theology or ethics of that time] — 
the king is not to answer for it. 

Bates. I do not desire the king should answer for me, and yet I 
determine to fight lustily for him. 

King. I, myself, heard the king say, he would not be ransomed. 

Will. Ay, he said so, to make us fight cheerfully; but when our 
throats are cut, he may be ransomed and we ne'er the wiser. 

King. If I live to see it, I will never trust his word after. 

Will. Mass, you'll pay him then! That's a perilous shot out of an 
elder gun, that a poor and private displeasure can do against a monarch. 
You may as well go about to turn the sun to ice, with fanning in his 
face with a peacock's feather. 

And, indeed, thus and not any less absurd and monstrous, 
appeared the idea of subjecting the king to any effect from 
the subject's displeasure, or the idea of calling him to account — 
this one, helpless, frail, private man, as he has just been con- 
ceded by the king himself to be, for any amount of fraud or 
dishonesty to the nation, for any breach of trust or honour. 
For his relation to the mass and the source of this fearful 
irresponsible power was not understood then. The soldier 
states it well. One might, indeed, as well go about to turn the 
sun to ice, with fanning in his face with a peacock's feather. 
* You'll never trust his word after,' the soldier continues. 
' Come, 'tis a foolish saying.' 

* Y' ar reproof is something too round, 1 is the king's reply. 
It is indeed round. It is one of those round replies that this 
poet is so fond of, and the king himself becomes ' the private ' 
of it, when once the centre of this play is found, and the sweep of 


its circumference is taken. For the sovereignty of law, the 
kingship of the universal law in whomsoever it speaks, awful 
with God's power, armed with his pains and penalties is the 
scientific sovereignty ; and in the scientific diagrams the pas- 
sions, ' the poor and private passions/ and the arbitrary will, 
in whomsoever they speak, no matter what symbols of sove- 
reignty they have contrived to usurp, make no better figure in 
their struggles with that law, than that same which the poet's 
vivid imagination and intense perception of incompatibilities, 
has seized on here. The king struggles vainly against the might 
of the universal nature. It is but the shot out of an ' elder gun; 1 
he might as well ' go about to turn the sun to ice with fanning in 
his face with a peacock's feather.' ' I should be angry with you/ 
continues the king, after noticing the roundness of that reply, 
' I should be angry with you, if the time were convenient.' 

But as to the poet who composes these dialogues, of course 
he does not know whether the time is convenient or not ;— he 
has never reflected upon any of those grave questions which 
are here so seriously discussed. They are not questions in which 
he can be supposed to have taken any interest. Of course he 
does not know or care what it is that these men are talking 
about. It is only for the sake of an artistic effect, to pass away 
the night, and to deepen for his hero the gloom which was to 
serve as the foil and sullen ground of his great victory, that 
his interlocutors are permitted to go on in this manner. 

It is easy to see, however, what extraordinary capabilities 
this particular form of writing offered to one who had any 
purpose, or to an author, who wished on any account, to 
* infold 1 somewhat his meaning ;— that was the term used then 
in reference to this style of writing. For certainly, many 
things dangerous in themselves could be shuffled in under 
cover of an artistic effect, which would not strike at the time, 
amid the agitations, and the skilful checks, and counteractions, 
of the scene, even the quick ear of despotism itself. 

And thus King Lear — that impersonation of absolutism — 
the very embodiment of purejvvill and tyranny in their most 
frantic form, taken out all at once from that hot bath of flatteries 
to which he had been so long accustomed, that his whole self- 


consciousness had become saturated, tinctured in the grain with 
them, and he believed himself to be, within and without, inde- 
structibly, essentially, — ( ay, every inch A KING;' with speeches 
on his supremacy copied, well nigh verbatim, from those 
which Elizabeth's courtiers habitually addressed to her, still 
ringing in his ears, hurled out into a single-handed contest 
with the elements, stripped of all his ' social and artificial 
lendings,' the poor, bare, unaccommodated, individual man, 
this living subject of the poet's artistic treatment, — this 
* ruined Majesty ' anatomized alive, taken to pieces literally 
before our eyes, pursued, hunted down scientifically, and robbed 
in detail of all ' the additions of a king ' — must, of course, be 
expected to evince in some way his sense of it; 'for soul and 
body,' this poet tells us, ' rive not more in parting than great- 
ness going off/ 

Once conceive the possibility of presenting the action, the 
dumb show, of this piece upon the stage at that time, (there 
have been times since when it could not be done,) and the 
dialogue, with its illimitable freedoms, follows without any 
difficulty. For the surprise of the monarch at the discoveries 
which this new state of things forces upon him, - the speeches 
he makes, with all the levelling of their philosophy, with all 
the unsurpassable boldness of their political criticism, are too 
natural and proper to the circumstances, to excite any sur- 
prise or question. 

Indeed, a king, who, nurtured in the flatteries of the palace, 
was unlearned enough in the nature of things, to suppose that 
the name of a king was anything but a shadow when the power 
which had sustained its prerogative was withdrawn, — a king 
who thought that he could still be a king, and maintain ' his 
state ' and l his hundred knights,' and their prerogatives, and 
all his old arbitrary, despotic humours, with their inevitable 
encroachment on the will and humours, and on the welfare of 
others, merely on grounds of respect and affection, or on 
grounds of duty, when not merely the care of ' the state,' but 
the revenues and power of it had been devolved on others — 
such an one appeared, indeed, to the poet, to be engaging in 
an experiment very similar to the one which he found in pro- 

204 leak's philosopher. 

gress in his time, in that old, decayed, riotous form of military 
government, which had chosen the moment of its utter 
dependance on the popular will and respect, as the fitting one 
for its final suppression of the national liberties. It was an 
experiment which was, of course, modified in the play by some 
diverting and strongly pronounced differences, or it would not 
have been possible to produce it then; but it was still the ex- 
periment of the unarmed prerogative, that the old popular tale 
of the ancient king of Britain offered to the poet's hands, and 
that was an experiment which he was willing to see traced to 
its natural conclusion on paper at least; while in the subse- 
quent development of the plot, the presence of an insulted 
trampled outcast majesty on the stage, furnishes a cover of which 
the poet is continually availing himself, for putting the case of 
that other outraged sovereignty, whose cause under one form 
or another, under all disguises, he is always pleading. And in 
the poet's hands, the debased and outcast king, becomes the 
impersonation of a debased and violated state, that had given 
all to its daughters, — the victim of a tyranny not less absolute, 
the victim, too, of a blindness and fatuity on its own part, 
not less monstrous, but not, not — that is the poet's word — not 
yet irretrievable. 

< Thou shalt find 
I will resume that shape, which thou dost think 
I have cast off for ever ; thou shalt, I warrant thee.' 
'Do you mark that, my lord V 

But the question of that prerogative, which has consumed, 
in the poet's time, all the faculties of government constitutes 
only a subordinate part of the action of that great play, into 
which it is here incorporated ; a play which comprehends in 
its new philosophical reaches, in its new and before-unimagined 
subtilties of analysis, the most radical questions of a practical 
human science ; questions which the practical reason of these 
modern ages at the moment of its awakening, found itself 
already compelled to grapple with, and master. 



'Consider him well. — Three of us are sophisticated.' 

, /C^OR this is the grand SOCIAL tragedy. It is the tragedy of an 
A unlearned human society ; it is the tragedy of a civilization 
in which grammar, and the relations of sounds and abstract 
notions to each other have sufficed to absorb the attention of the 
learned, — a civilization in which the parts of speech, and their 
relations, have been deeply considered, but one in which the 
social elements, the parts of life, and their unions, and their pro- 
sody, have been left to spontaneity, and empiricism, and all 
kinds of rude, arbitrary, idiomatical conjunctions, and fortui- 
tous rules ; a civilization in which the learning of ' words ' 
is put down by the reporter — invented — and the learning of 
* things ' — omitted. 

And in a movement which was designed to bring the 
human reason to bear scientifically and artistically upon those 
questions in which the deepest human interests are involved, 
the wrong and misery of that social state to which the New 
Machine, with its new combination of sense and reason, must 
be applied, had to be fully and elaborately brought out and 
exhibited. And there was but one language in which the 
impersonated human misery and wrong, — the speaker for 
countless hearts, tortured and broken on the rude machinery 
of unlearned social customs, and lawless social forces, could 
speak ; there was but one tongue in which it could tell its 
story. For this is the place where science becomes inevitably 
poetical. That same science which fills our cabinets and her- 
bariums, and chambers of natural history, with mute stones 
and shells and plants and dead birds and insects — that same 
science that fills our scientific volumes with coloured pictures 

206 leak's philosopher. 

true as life itself, and letter-press of prose description— that 
same science that anatomises the physical frame with micro- 
scopic nicety, — in the hand of its master, found in the soul, that 
which had most need of science; and his ' illustrated book' of it, 
the book of his experiments in it, comes to us rilled with his 
yet living, ' ever living ' subjects, and resounding with the 
tragedy of their complainings. 

It requires but a little reading of that book to find, that the 
author of it is a philosopher who is strongly disposed to ascer- 
tain the limits of that thing in nature, which men call fortune, 
— that is, in their week-day speech, — they have another name 
for it ' o' Sundays.' He is greatly of the opinion, that the 
combined and legitimate use of those faculties with which man 
is beneficently ' armed against diseases of the world,' would 
tend very much \p limit those fortuities and accidents, those 
wild blows, — those vicissitudes, that men, in their ignorance and 
indolent despair, charge on Fate or ascribe to Providence, 
while at the same time it would furnish the art of accommodat- 
ing the human mind to that which is inevitable. It is not for- 
tune who is blind, but man, he says, — a creature endowed of 
nature for his place in nature, endowed of God with a godlike 
faculty, looking before and after— a creature who has eyes, 
eyes adapted to his special necessities, but one that will not 
use them. 

Acquaintance with law, as it is actual in nature, and inven- 
tions of arts based on that acquaintance, appear to him to open 
a large field of relief to the human estate, a large field of en- 
croachment on that human misery, which men have blindly 
and stupidly acquiesced in hitherto, as necessity. For this is 
the philosopher who borrows, on another page, an ancient 
fable to teach us that that is not the kind of submission which 
is pleasing to God — that that is not the kind of * suffering ' 
that will ever secure his favour. He, for one, is going to 
search this social misery to the root, with that same light 
which the ancient wise man tells us, ' is as the lamp of God, 
wherewith He searcheth the inwardness of all secrets.' 

The weakness and ignorance and misery of the natural man, 
— the misery too of the artificial man as he is, — the misery of 


man in society, when that society is cemented with arbitrary / 
customs, and unscientific social arts, and when the instinctive 
spontaneous demoniacal forces of nature, are at large in it; the 
dependence of the social Monad, the constitutional specific 
human dependence, on the specific human law, — the exquisite 
human liability to injury and wrong, which are but the natu- 
ral indications of those higher arts and excellencies, those 
unborn pre-destined human arts and excellencies, which man 
must struggle through his misery to reach; — that is the scien- 
tific notion which lies at the bottom of this grand ideal repre- 
sentation. It is, in a word, the human social need, in all its 
circumference, clearly sketched, laid out, scientifically, as the 
basis of the human social art. It is the negation of that which 
man's conditions, which the human conditions require; — it is 
the collection on the Table of Exclusion and Kejection, which 
must precede the practical affirmation. 

King. Have you heard the argument 1 Is there no offence in it 1 
Hamlet. None in the world. It's the image of a murder done in 

In the poetic representation of that state of things which 
was to be redressed, the central social figure must, of course, 
have its place. For it is the Poet, the Experimental Poet, 
unseen indeed, deep buried in his fable, his new movements 
all hidden under its old garb, and deeper hidden still, in the 
new splendours he puts on it — it is the Poet — invisible but not 
the less truly, he, — it is the Scientific Poet, who comes upon 
the monarch in his palace at noonday, and says, ' My business 
is with thee, king/ It is he who comes upon the selfish 
arrogant old despot, drunk with Elizabethan flatteries, stuffed 
with ' titles blown from adulation,' unmindful of the true ends 
of government, reckless of the duties which that regal assump- 
tion of the common weal brings with it — it is the Poet who 
comes upon this Doctor of Laws in the palace, and prescribes 
to him a course of treatment which the royal patient himself, 
when once it has taken effect, is ready to issue from the 
hovel's mouth, in the form of a general prescription and state 

208 leak's philosopher. 

1 Take physic, pomp ; 
Expose thyself to fed what wretches feel, 
That thou may'st shake the superflux to them, 
And show the heavens more just. 

Oh, I have taken too little care of this !' 

It is that same Poet who has already told us, confidentially, 
under cover of King Hal's mantle, that * the king himself is 
but a man ' and that * all his senses have but human conditions, 
and that his affections, too, though higher mounted when they 
stoop, stoop with the like wing ; that his ceremonies laid by, 
in his nakedness he appears but a man' ; — it is that same Poet, 
and, in carrying out the purpose of this play, it has come in 
his way now to make good that statement. For it was neces- 
sary to his purpose here, to show that the &tate_is composed 
throughout, down to its most loathsome unimaginable depths 
of neglect and misery, of individual men, social units, clothed 
of nature with the same faculties and essential human dignities 
and susceptibilities to good and evil, and crowned of nature 
with the common sovereignty of reason, — down-trodden, per- 
haps, and wrung and trampled out of them, but elected of 
nature to that dignity ; it was necessary to show this, in order 
that the wisdom of the State which sacrifices to the senses of 
one individual man, and the judgment that is narrowed by the 
one man's senses, the weal of the whole, — in order that the 
wisdom of the State, which puts at the mercy of the arbitrary 
will and passions of the one, the weal of the many, might be 
mathematically exhibited, — might be set down in figures and 
diagrams. For this is that Poet who represents this method 
of inquiry and investigation, as it were, to thejeye. This is 
that same Poet, too, who surprises elsewhere a queen in her 
swooning passion of grief, and bids her murmur to us her 
recovering confession. 

1 No more, but e'en a woman ; and commanded 
By such poor passion, as the maid that milks, 
And does the meanest chares.' 

So busy is he, indeed, in laying by this king's e ceremonies ' 
for him, beginning with the first doubtful perception of a most 
faint neglect, — a falHng^off in the ceremonious affection due 


to majesty c as well in the general dependants as in the duke 
himself and his daughter/ — so faint that the king dismisses it 
from his thought, and charges it on his own jealousy till he is 
reminded of it by another, — beginning with that faint begin- 
ning, and continuing the process not less delicately, through 
all its swift dramatic gradations, — the direct abatement of the 
regal dignities, — the knightly train diminishing, — nay, * fifty 
of his followers at a clap' torn from him, his messenger put in 
the stocks, — and ' it is worse than murder,' the poor king cries 
in the anguish of his slaughtered dignity and affection, * to do 
upon respect such violent outrage,' — so bent is the Poet upon 
this analytic process; so determined that this shaking out of a 
' preconception,' shall be for once a thorough one, so absorbed 
with the dignity of the scientific experiment, that he seems 
bent at one moment on giving a literal finish to this process; 
Nbut the fool's scruples interfere with the philosophical humour 
of the king, and the presence of Mad Tom in his blanket, with 
the king's exposition, suffices to complete the demonstration. 
For not less lively than this, is the preaching and illustration, 
from that new rostrum which this ' Doctor ' has contrived to 
make himself master of. ' His ceremonies laid by, in his 
nakedness he appears but a man,' says King Hal. ' Couldst 
thou save nothing ?' says King Lear to the Bedlamite. ' Why 
thou wert better in thy grave than to answer with thy un- 
covered body this extremity of the skies.' e Is man/ — it is the 
king who generalises, it is the king who introduces this level- 
ling suggestion here in the abstract, while the Poet is content 
with the responsibility of the concrete exhibition — ' fs man no 
more than this? Consider him well. Thou owest the worm no 
silk, the beast no hide, the cat no perfume: — Ha ! here's three £ 
of us are sophisticated. Thou art the thing itself. Unac- 
commodated MAN is no more but such a poor, bare, forked j 
animal, as thou art. Off, off, you lendings.' But ' the fool I 5 
is of the opinion that this scientific process of unwrapping the 
artificial majesty, this philosophical undressing, has already 
gone far enough. 

'Pry'thee, Nuncle, be contented,' he says, * it is a naughty night to 
swim in.' 



For it is the great heath wrapped in one of those storms of 
wind and rain and thunder and lightning, which this wizard 
only of all the children of men knows how to raise, that he 
chooses for his physiological exhibition of majesty, when the 
palace-door has been shut upon it, and the last * additions of a 
king ' have been subtracted. It is a night — 

' Wherein the cub-drawn bear would couch, 
The lion, and the belly-pinched wolf 
Keep their fur dry ' — 

into which he turns his royal patient * unbonneted? 

For the tyranny of wild nature in her elemental uproar must 
be added to the tyranny of the human wildness, the cruelty 
of the elements must conspire, like pernicious ministers, 
with the cruelty of arbitrary human will and passions, the 
irrational, inhuman social forces must be joined by those 
other forces that make war upon us, before the real purpose of 
this exhibition and the full depth and scientific comprehension 
of it can begin to appear. It is in the tempest that Lear finds 
occasion to give out the Poet's text. Is man no more than 
this ? Consider him well. Unaccommodated man in his 
struggle with nature. Man without social combinations, man 
without arts to aid him in his battle with the elements, or with 
arts that fence in his body, and robe it, it may be, in delicate 
and gorgeous apparelling, arts that roof his head with a 
princely dome it may be, and add to his native dignity and 
forces, the means and appliances of a material civilization, but 
leave his nobler nature with its more living susceptibility to 
injury, unsheathed, at the mercy of the brute forces that un- 
scientific civilizations, with their coarse laws, with their cob- 
webs of WORDY learning, with their science of abstractions, 
unmatched with the subtilty of things, are compelled to 
leave at large, uncaught, unentangled. 

Yes, it is man in his relation to nature, man in his depend- 
ence on artificial aid, man in his two-fold dependence on art, 
that this tempest, this double tempest wakes and brings out, 
for us to ' consider,' — to ' consider well ' ; — ' the naked crea- 


ture,' that were better in his grave than to answer with his 
uncovered body that extremity of the skies, and by his side, 
with his soul uncovered to a fiercer blast, his royal brother 
with ' the tempest in his mind, that doth from his senses take 
all feeling else, save what beats there/ 

It is the personal weakness, the moral and intellectual as 
well as the bodily frailty and limitation of faculty, and liability 
to suffering and outrage, the liability to wrong from treachery, 
as well as violence, which are f the common' specific human con- ( ^ 
ditions, common to the King in his palace, and Tom o' Bedlam 
in his hovel ; it is this exquisite human frailty and suscepti- 
bility, still unprovided for, that fills the play throughout, and 
stands forth in these two, impersonated ; it is that which fills 
all the play with the outcry of its anguish. 

And thus it is, that this poor king must needs be brought 
out into this wild uproar of nature, and stripped of his last 
adventitious aid, reduced to the authority and forces that nature 
gave him, invaded to the skin, and ready in his frenzy to 
second the poet's intent, by yielding up the last thread of his 
adventitious and artistic defences. All his artificial, social per- 
sonality already dissolved, or yet in the agony of its dissolution, 
all his natural social ties torn and bleeding within him, there 
is yet another kind of trial for him, as the elected and royal 
representative of the human conditions. For the perpetual, 
the universal interest of this experiment arises from the fact, 
that it is not as the king merely, dissolving like ( a mockery 
king of snow ' that this illustrious form stands here, to undergo 
this fierce analysis, but as the representative, ' the conspicuous 
instance,' of that social name and figure, which all men carry 
about with them, and take to be a part of themselves, that 
outward life, in which men go beyond themselves, by means 
of their affections, and extend their identity, incorporating 
into their very personality, that floating, contingent material 
which the wills and humours and opinions, the prejudices and 
passions of others, and the variable tide of this world's fortunes 
make — that social Name and Figure in which men may die 
many times, ere the physical life is required of them, in whicn 

p 2 

212 leak's philosopher. 

all men must needs live if they will live in it at all, at the 
mercy of these uncontrolled social eventualities. 

The tragedy is complicated, but it is only that same compli- 
cation which the tragedy it stands for, is always exhibiting. 
|The fact that this blow to his state is dealt to him by those to 
.whom nature herself had so dearly and tenderly bound him, 
>nay, with whom she had so hopelessly identified him, is that 
il^Lov^yn^thoufferer. It is that which he seeks to' 
understand in vain. He wishes to reason upon it, but his mind 
cannot master it; under that it is that his brain gives way,— the 
first mental confusion begins there. The blow to his state is a 
subordinate thing with him. It only serves to measure the 
wrong that deals it. The poet takes pains to clear this com- 
plication in the experiment. It is the wound in the affections 
which untunes the jarring senses of ' this child-changed father.' 
It is that which invades his identity. 

'Are you our daughter? Does anyone here know me?' 
That is the word with which he breaks the silence of that 
dumb amazement, that paralysis of frozen wonder which 
Goneril's first rude assault brings on him. ' Why, this is not 
Lear; Ha ! sure it is not so. Does any one here know me ? 
Who is it that can tell me who I am ?' 

But with all her cruelty, he cannot shake her off. He 
curses her; but his curses do not sever the tie. 

' But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter. 
Or rather, a disease that's in my flesh 
Which I must needs call mine. 

Filial ingratitude ! 
Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand 
For lifting food to it?' 

^ For that is the poet's conception of the extent of this social 
life and outgoing— that is the interior of that social whole, in 
which the dissolution he represents here is proceeding,— and that 
is the kind of new phenomenon which the science of man, 
when it takes him as he is, not the abstract man of the schools, 
not the logical man that the Eealists and the Nominalists went 
to blows for, but < the thing itself,' exhibits. As to that other 


4 man,' — the man of the old philosophy, — he was not c worth the 
whistle,' this one thinks. ' His bones were marrowless, his blood 
was cold, he had no speculation in those eyes that he did glare 
with.' The New Philosopher will have no such skeletons in 
a his system. He is getting his general man out of particular 
cases, building him up solid, from a basis of natural history, 
and, as far as he goes, there will be no question, no two words 
about it, as to whether he is or is not. ' For I do take,' says 
the Advancer of Learning, { the consideration in general, and at 
large, of Human Nature, to be fit to be emancipated and made 
a knowledge by itself.' No wonder if some new aspects of these 
ordinary phenomena, these ' common things,' as he calls them, 
should come out, when they too come to be subjected to a 
scientific inquiry, and when the Poet of this Advancement, 
this so subtle Poet of it, begins to explore them. 

And as to this particujar point which he puts down with so 
much care, this point which poor Lear is illustrating here, viz. 
* that our affections carry themselves beyond us,' as the sage of 
the ' Mountain ' expresses it, this is the view the same Poet 
gives of it, in accounting for Ophelia's madness. 

1 Nature is fine in love ; and where 'tis fine, 
It sends some precious instance of itself, 
After the thing it loves.' 

* Your old kind father,' continues Lear, searching to the 
quick the secrets of this ' broken-heartedness,' as people are 
content to call it, this ill to which the human species is 
notoriously liable, though philosophy had not thought it 
worth while before ' to find it out;' 

1 Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all, — 
O that way madness lies ; let me shun that, 
No more of that. 1 

And it is while he is still undergoing the last extreme of 

r the suffering which the human wrong is capable of inflicting 

on the affections, that he comes in the Poet's hands to exhibit 

also the unexplored depth of that wrong, — that monstrous, 

. inhuman social error, that perpetual outrage on nature in her 

) human law, which leaves the helpless human outcast to the 


rough discipline of nature, which casts him out from the 
family of man, from its common love and shelter, and leaves 
him in his vices, and helplessness, and ignorance, to contend 
alone with great nature and her unrelenting consequences. 

' To wilful men 
The injuries that they themselves procure, 
Must be their school-masters,' — 

is the point which the philosophic Kegan makes, as she bids 
them shut the door in her father's face; but it is the common 
human relationship that the Poet is intent on clearing, while 
he notes the special relationship also; he does not limit his 
humanities to the ties of blood, or household sympathies, or 
social gradations. 

But Regan's views on this point are seconded and sustained, 
and there seems to be but one opinion on the subject among 
those who happen to have that castle in possession; at least 
the timid owner of it does not feel himself in a position to 
make any forcible resistance to the orders which his illustrious 
guests, who have * taken from him the use of his own house,' 
have seen fit to issue in it. ' Shut up your doors, (says Cornwall), 
1 Shut up your doors, my lord : 'tis a wild night. 
My Kegan counsels well ; come out o' the storm.' 

And it is because this representation is artistic and dramatic, 
and not simply historical, and the Poet must seek to condense, 
and sum and exhibit in dramatic appreciable figures, the un- 
reckonable, undefinable historical suffering of years, and life- 
times of this vain human struggle, — because, too, the wildest 
threats which nature in her terrors makes to man, had to be 
incorporated in this great philosophic piece; and because, 
lastly, the Poet would have the madness of the human will 
and passion, presented in its true scientific relations, that this 
storm collects into itself such ideal sublimities, and borrows 
from the human passion so many images of cruelty. 

In all the mad anguish of that ruined greatness, and 
wronged natural affection, the Poet, relentless as fortune 
herself in her sternest moods, intent on his experiment only, 
will bring out his great victim, and consign him to the wind 


and the rain, and the lightning, and the thunder, and bid his 
senses undergo their ' horrible pleasure/ 

For_the_ senses, scorned as they had been in philosophy 
hitherto, the senses in this philosophy, have their report also, 
— their full, honest report, to make to us. And the design of 
this piece, as already stated in the general, required in its 
execution, not only that these two kinds of suffering, these 
two grand departments of human need, should be included 
and distinguished in it, but that they should be brought 
together in this one man's experience, so that a deliberate 
comparison can be instituted between them; and the Poet will 
bid the philosophic king, the living * subject' himself, report 
the experiment, and tell us plainly, once for all, whether the 
science of the physical Arts only, is the science which is 
wanting to man; or whether arts — scientific arts — that take 
hold of the moral nature, also, and deal with that not less 
effectively, can be dispensed with; whether, indeed, man is 
in any condition to dispense with the Science and the Art 
which puts him into intelligent and harmonious relations with 
nature in general. 

It was necessary to the purpose of the play to exhibit man's 
dependence on art, by means of his senses and his sensibilities, 
and his intellectual conditions, and all his frailties and liabili- 
ties, — his dependence on art, based on the knowledge of, 
natural laws, universal laws, — constitutions, which include the 
human. It was necessary to exhibit the whole misery, the 
last extreme of that social evil, to which a creature so naturally 
frail and ignorant is liable, under those coarse, fortuitous, 
inartistic, unscientific social conglomerations, which ignorant 
and barbarous ages build, and under the tyranny of those 
wild, barbaric social evils, which our fine social institutions, 
notwithstanding the universality of their terms, and the 
transcendant nature of the forces which they are understood 
to have at their disposal, for some fatal reason or other, do not 
yet succeed in reducing. 

It is, indeed, the whole ground of the Scientific Human Art, 
which is revealed here by the light of this great passion, and 


that, in this Poet's opinion, is none other than the ground of 
the human want, and is as large and various as that. And 
the careful reader of this play, — the patient searcher of its 
subtle lore, — the diligent collector of its thick-crowding 
philosophic points and flashing condensations of discovery, 
will find that the need of arts, is that which is set forth in it, 
with all the power of its magnificent poetic embodiment, and 
in the abstract as well, — the need of arts infinitely more noble 
and effective, more nearly matched with the subtlety of 
nature, and better able to entangle and subdue its oppositions, 
than any of which mankind have yet been able to possess 
themselves, or ever the true intention of nature in the human 
form can be realized, or anything like a truly Human Constitu- 
tion-, or Common- Weal, is possible. 

But let us return to the comparison, and collect the results 
of this experiment.-— For a time, indeed, raised by that storm 
of grief and indignation into a companionship with the wind 
and the rain, and the lightning, and the thunder, the king 
' strives in his little world of man/ — for that is the phrasing of 
the poetic report, to out-scorn these elements. Nay, we our- 
selves hear, as the curtain rises on that ideal representative 
form of human suffering, the wild intonation of that human 
defiance — mounting and singing above the thunder, and 
drowning all the elemental crash with its articulation; for 
this is an experiment which the philosopher will try in the 
presence of his audience, and not report it merely. With 
that anguish in his heart, the crushed majesty, the stricken 
old man, the child-wounded father, laughs at the pains of the 
senses; the physical distress is welcome to him, he is glad of it. 
He does not care for anything that the unconscious, soulless 
elements can do to him, he calls to them from their heights, 
.f$8^ ^ s tnem do their worst. Or it is only as they conspire 
"with that wilful human wrong, and serve to bring home to him 
anew the depth of it, by these tangible, sensuous effects, — it 
is only by that means that they are able to wound him. 

'Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters,' 
that is the argimient. 


1 1 tax you not, you elements, with unkindness.' 

Surely that is logical; that is a distinction not without a dif- 
ference, and appreciable to the human mind, as it is consti- 
tuted, — surely that is a point worth putting in the arts and 

'I never gave you kingdoms, called you children; 
You owe me no subscription ; why, then, let fall 
Your horrible pleasure 1 Here I stand your slave, 
A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man ; 
But yet, I call you servile ministers, 
That have with two pernicious daughters joined 
Your high, engendered battles 'gainst a head 
So old and white as this. O, O, 'tis/owJ.' 

And in his calmer mood, when the storm has done its work 
upon him, and all the strength of his great passion is exhausted, 
— when his bodily powers are fast sinking under it, and like 
the subtle Hamlet's ■ potent poison,' it begins at last to * o'er- 
crow his spirit' — when he is faint with struggling with its 
fury, wet to the skin with it, and comfortless and shivering, 
he still maintains through his chattering teeth the argument; 
he will still defend his first position — 

'Thou thinkst 'tis much that this contentious storm 
Invades us to the skin ; so 'tis to thee. 
But where the greater malady is fixed, 
The lesser is scarce felt.' 

f The tempest in my mind 
Doth from my senses take all feeling else, 
Save what beats there.' 

1 In such a night 
To shut me out ! Pour on, I will endure. 
In such a night as this.'' 

And when the shelter he is at last forced to seek is found, 
at the door his courage fails him ; and he shrinks back into 
the storm again, because ' it will not give him leave to think 
on that which hurts him more? 

So nicely does the Poet balance these ills, and report the 
swaying movement. But it is a poet who does not take 

218 leak's philosopher. 

common-place opinions on this, or on any other such subject. He 
is one whose poetic work does not consist in illustrating these 
received opinions, or in finding some novel and fine expression 
for them. He is observing nature, and undertaking to report 
it, as it is, not as it should be according to these preconceptions, 
or according to the established poetic notions of the heroic 

But there is no stage that can exhibit his experiment here 
in its real significance, excepting that one which he himself 
builds for us; for it is the vast lonely heath, and the Man, the 
pigmy man, on it -and the KINO, the pigmy king, on it; -it 
is all the wild roar of elemental nature, and the tempest in 
that * little world of man,' that have to measure their forces, 
that have to be brought into continuous and persevering 
contest. It is not Gloster only, who sees in that storm what 
' makes him think that a man is but a worm. 1 

Doubtless, it would have been more in accordance with the 
old poetic notions, if this poor king had maintained his 
ground without any misgiving at all; but it is a poet of a 
new order, and not the old heroic one, who has the con- 
ducting of this experiment; and though his verse is not without 
certain sublimities of its own, they have to consist with the 
report of the fact as it is, to its most honest and unpoetic, un- 
heroic detail. 

And notwithstanding all the poetry of that passionate de- 
fiance, it is the physical storm that triumphs in the end. The 
contest between that little world of man and the great out- 
door world of nature was too unequal. Compelled at last to 
succumb, yielding to * the tyranny of the open night, that is 
too rough for nature to endure — the night that frightens the 
very wanderers of the dark, and makes them keep their caves,' 
while it reaches, with its poetic combination of horrors, 
that border line of the human conception which great 
Nature's pencil, in this Poet's hand, is always reaching and 
completing, — 

'Man's nature cannot carry 
The affliction nor the fear* 


— Unable to contend arty longer with * the fretful element ' — 
unable to * outscorn ' any longer ' the to and fro conflicting 
wind and rain ' — weary of struggling with ' the impetuous 
blasts,' that in their ■ eyeless rage ' and 'fury ' care no more for 
age and reverence than his daughters do — that seize his white 
hairs, and make nothing of them — * exposed to feel what 
wretches feel' — he finds at last, with surprise, that art — the 
wretch's art — that can make vile things precious. No longer 
clamoring for * the additions of a king/ but thankful for the 
basest means of shelter from the elements, glad to avail him- 
self of the rudest structure with which art ' accommodates ' man 
to nature, (for that is the word of this philosophy, where it is 
first proposed) — glad to divide with his meanest subject that 
shelter which the outcast seeks on such a night — ready to 
creep with him, under it, side by side — \ fain to hovel with 
swine and rogues forlorn, in short and musty straw ' — surely 
we have reached a point at last where the action of the piece 
itself — the mere * dumb show ' of it — becomes luminous, and 
hardly needs the player's eloquence to tell us what it means. 

Surely this is a little like * the language ' of Periander's 
message, when he bid the messenger observe and report what 
he saw him do. It is very important to note that ideas may be 
conveyed in this way as well as by words, the author of the 
Advancement of Learning remarks, in speaking of the tradition 
of the principal and supreme sciences. He takes pains to 
notice, also, that a representation, by means of these 'transient 
hieroglyphics,' is much more moving to the sensibilities, and 
leaves a more vivid and durable impression on the memory, 
than the most eloquent statement in mere words. f What is 
sensible always strikes the memory more strongly, and sooner 
impresses itself, than what is intellectual. Thus the memory 
of brutes is excited by sensible, but not by intellectual things f 
and thus, also, he proposes to impress that class which Corio- 
lanus speaks of, ' whose eyes are more learned than their ears,' 
to whom ' action is eloquence.' Here we have the advantage of 
the combination, for there is no part of the dumb show, but 
has its word of scientific comment and interpretation. 


'Art cold [to the Fool] ? 
I am cold myself. Where is this straw, my fellow '/ 
The art of our necessities is strange, 
That can make vile things precious. Come, your hovel. 
Come, bring us to this hovel.' 

For this is what that wild tragic poetic resistance and de- 
fiance comes to — this is what the ' unaccommodated man ' 
comes to, though it is the highest person in the state, stripped 
of his ceremonies and artificial appliances, on whom the ex- 
periment is tried. 

' Where is this straw, my fellow? Art cold? I am cold myself. 
Come, your hovel. Come, bring us to this hovel' 

When that royal edict is obeyed, -when the wonders of the 
magician's art are put in requisition to fulfil it, — when the 
road from the palace to the hovel is laid open, — when the 
hovel, where Tom o' Bedlam is nestling in the straw, is pro- 
duced on the stage, and the King — the King — stoops, 
before all men's eyes, to creep into its mouth, — surely we do 
not need ' a chorus to interpret for us ' — we do not need to 
wait for the Poet's own deferred exposition to seize the more 
obvious meanings.- Surely, one catches enough in passing, in 
the dialogues and tableaux here, to perceive that there is 
something going on in this play which is not all play, — 
something that will be earnest, perhaps, ere all is done, — 
something which » the groundlings' were not expected to get, 
perhaps, in < their sixe-penn'orth ' of it at the first performance, 
.— • something which that witty and splendid company, who 
made up the Christmas party at Whitehall, on the occasion of 
its first exhibition there, who sat there * rustling in silk,' 
breathing perfumes, glittering in wealth that the alchemy of 
the storm had not tried, were not, perhaps, all informed of; 
though there might have been one among them, ' a gentleman 
of blood and breeding,' who could have told them what it meant. 

' We construct/ says the person who describes this method 
of philosophic instruction, speaking of the subtle prepared 
history which forces the inductions — - ' we construct tables and 


combinations of instances, upon such a plan, and in such order, 
that the understanding may be enabled to act upon them/ 

' They told me I was everything.' 

* They told me I was everything,' says the poor king himself, 
long afterwards, when the storm has had its ultimate effect 
upon him. 

' To say ay and no to everything that I said ! — [To say] ay and no 
too was NO good divinity. They told me, I had white hairs in my 
beard, ere the black ones were there. When the rain came to wet me 
once, and the wind to make me chatter ; when the thunder would not 
peace at my bidding ; there I found them, there I smelt them out. Go 
to, they are not men of their words : they told me I was everything ; 
His a lie ; I am not ague-proof? 

'/think the king is but a man, as I am' [says King Hal]. 'All his 
senses have the like conditions ; and his affections, though higher 
mounted, when they stoop, stoop with the like wing? 

But at the door of that rude hut the ruined majesty pauses. 
In vain his loving attendants, whom, for love's sake, this Poet 
will still have with him, entreat him to enter. Storm-battered, 
and wet, and shivering as he is, he shrinks back from the 
shelter he has bid them bring him to. .He will not * in. 
Why? Is it because ' the tempest will not give him leave to 
ponder on things would hurt him more.' That is his excuse 
at first; but another blast strikes him, and he yields to ' the to 
and fro conflicting wind and rain/ and says — 

'But I'll go in.' 

Yet still he pauses. Why? Because he has not told us 
why he is there ; — because he is in the hands of the Poet of 
the Human Kind, the poet of ' those common things that our 
ordinary life consisteth of/ who will have of them an argument 
that shall shame that ' resplendent and lustrous mass of matter' 
that old philosophers and poets have chosen for theirs; — 
because the rare accident — the wild, poetic, unheard-of acci- 
dent — which has brought a man, old in luxuries, clothed in 
soft raiment, nurtured in king's houses, into this rude, unaided 


collision with nature; — the poetic impossibility, which has 
brought the one man from the apex of the social structure, 
down this giddy depth, to this lowest social level; — the acci- 
dent which has given the 'one man,' who has the divine 
disposal of the common weal, this little casual experimental 
taste of the weal which his wisdom has been able to provide 
for the many — of the weal which a government so divinely 
ordered, from its pinnacle of personal ease and luxury, thinks 
sufficient and divine enough for the many, — this accident — 
this grand poetic accident — with all its exquisite poetic effects, 
is, in this poet's hands, the means, not the end. This poor 
king's great tragedy, the loss of his social position, his broken- 
heartedness, his outcast suffering, with all the aggravations of 
this poetic descent, and the force of its vivid contrasts - — with 
all the luxurious impressions on the sensibilities which the 
ideal wonders of the rude old fable yield so easily in this Poet's 
hands, — this rare accident, and moving marvel of poetic cala- 
mity,— this 'one man's' tragedy is not the tragedy that this 
Poet's soul is big with. It is the tragedy of the Many, and 
not the One, - it is the tragedy that is the rule, and not the 
exception, - it is the tragedy that is common, and not that 
which is singular, .whose argument this Poet has undertaken 
to manage. 

' Come, bring us to your hovel.' 

The royal command is obeyed ; and the house of that estate, 
which has no need to borrow its title of plurality to establish 
the grandeur of its claim, springs up at the New Magician's 
word, and stands before us on the scientific stage in its colossal, 
portentous, scientific grandeur; and the king — the king — is 
at the door of it: the Monarch is at the door of the Many. 
For the scientific Poet has had his eye on that structure, and 
he will make of it a thing of wonder, that shall rival old 
poets' fancy pieces, and drive our entomologists and concholo- 
gists to despair, and drive them, off the stage with their cu- 
riosities and marvels. There is no need of a Poet's going to 
the supernatural for 'machinery,' this Poet thinks, while 


there's such machinery as this ready to his hands unemployed. 
1 There's something in this more than natural, if philosophy 
could find it out.' There's no need of going to the antique 
for his models ; for he is inventing the arts that will make of 
this an antiquity. 

The Monarch has found his meanest subject's shelter, but at 
the door of it he is arrested — nailed with a nail fastened by 
the Master of Assemblies. He has come down from that 
dizzy height, on the Poet's errand. He is there to speak the 
Poet's word, — to illustrate that grave abstract learning which 
the Poet has put on another page, with a note that, as it stands 
there, notwithstanding the learned airs it has, it is not learning, 
but e the husk and shell ' of it. For this is the philosopher 
who puts it down as a primary Article of Science, that 
governments should be based on a scientific acquaintance with 
1 the natures, dispositions, necessities and discontents of the 
people') and though in his book of the Advancement of 
Learning, he suggests that these points ' ought to be,' con- 
sidering the means of ascertaining them at the disposal of the 
government, ' considering the variety of its intelligences, the 
wisdom of its observations, and the height of the station 
where it keeps sentinel, transparent as crystal? — here he puts 
the case of a government that had not availed itself of those 
extraordinary means of ascertaining the truth at a distance, 
and was therefore in the way of discovering much that was 
new, in the course of an accidental personal descent into the 
lower and more inaccessible regions of the Common Weal it 
had ordered. This is the crystal which proves after all the 
most transparent for him. This is the help for weak eyes 
which becomes necessary sometimes, in the absence of the 
scientific crystal, which is its equivalent. 

The Monarch is at the hovel's door, but he cannot enter. 
Why? Because he is in that school into which his own wise 
Regan, that ' counsels' so f well ' — that Regan who sat at his 
own council-table so long, has turned him ; and it is a school 
in which the lessons must be learned ' by heart, 1 and there is 
no shelter for him from its pitiless beating in this Poet's 

n i\ 


economy, till that lesson he was sent there to learn has been 
learned; and it was a Monarch's lesson, and at the Hovel's 
door he must recite it. He will not enter. Why? Because 
the great lesson of state has entered his soul: with the sharp- 
ness of its illustration it has pierced him: his spirit is dilated, 
and moved and kindling with its grandeur: he is thinking of 
< the Many,' he has forgotten < the One,'— the many, all whose 
senses have like conditions, whose affections stoop with the 
like wing. He will not enter, because he thinks it unregal, 
inhuman, mean, selfish to engross the luxury of the hovel's 
shelter, and the warmth of the ' precious' straw, while he 
knows that he has subjects still abroad with senses like^ his 
own, capable of the like misery, still exposed to its merciless 
cruelties. It was the tenant of the castle, it was the man in 
the house who said, ' Come, let's be snug and cheery here. 
Shut up the door. Let's have a fire, and a feast, and a song,— 
or a psalm, or a prayer, as the case may be; only let it be 
within — no matter which it is' : 

1 Shut up your doors, my lord; 'tis a wild night,— 
My Regan counsels well ; come out o' the storm.' 

But here it is the houseless man, who is thinking of his 
kindred,— his royal family, for whom God has made him re- 
sponsible, out in this same storm unbonneted; and in the 
tenderness of that sympathy, in the searching delicacy of that 
feeling with which he scrutinizes now their case, they seem to 
him less able than himself to resist its elemental ' tyranny? 
For in that ideal revolution— in that exact turn of the wheel 
of fortune— in that experimental ' change of places,' which 
the Poet recommends to those who occupy the upper ones in 
the social structure, as a means of a more particular and prac- 
tical acquaintance with the conditions of those for whom they 
legislate, new views of the common natural human relations; 
new views of the ends of social combinations are perpetually 
flashing on him ; for it is the fallen monarch himself, the late 
owner "and disposer of the Common Weal, it is this strangely 
philosophic, mysteriously philosophic, king — philosophic as 
that Alfred who was going to succeed him— it is the king 


who is chosen by the Poet as the chief commentator and 
expounder of that new political and social doctrine which the 
action of this play is itself suggesting. 

In that school of the tempest; in that one night's personal 
experience of the misery that underlies the pompous social 
structure, with all its stately splendours and divine pretensions; 
in that New School of the Experimental Science, the king has 
been taking lessons in the art of majesty. The alchemy of it 
has robbed him of the external adjuncts and ' additions of a 
king/ but the sovereignty of mercy, the divine right of pity, 
the majesty of the human kindness, the grandeur of the 
common weal, * breathes through his lips' from the Poet's 
heart ' like man new made.' 

'Kent. Good, my lord, enter here. 
Lear. Prythee, go in thyself. Seek thine own ease. 
. But, I'll go in. 
In, boy, — go first — [To the Fool.] 

You, houseless poverty' 

He knows the meaning of that phrase now. 

'Nay get thee in. I'll pray, and then I'll sleep.' 

[Fool goes in.] 
'Poor, naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are 
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,' 

There are no empty phrases in this prayer, the critic of it 
may perceive : it is a learned prayer ; the petitioner knows the 
meaning of each word in it : the tempest is the book in which 
he studied it. 

1 How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides, 
Your looped and windowed raggedness defend you 
From seasons such as these ? 0, 1 have taken 
Too little care of this. [Hear, hear]. Take physic, Pomp ; [Hear.] 
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel. 
That thou mayest shale the swperflux to them, 
And show the Heavens more just' 

That is his prayer. To minds accustomed to the ceremonial 
of a religious worship, ' with court holy water in a dry house' 
only, or to those who have never undertaken to compose a 


226 lear's philosopher. 

prayer for the king and all the royal family at the hovel's 
mouth, and in such immediate proximity to animals of a 
different species, it will not perhaps seem a very pious one. 
But considering that it was understood to have been composed 
during the heathen ages of this realm, and before Christianity 
had got itself so comfortably established as a principle of 
government and social regulations, perhaps it was as good a 
prayer for a penitent king to go to sleep on, as could well be 
invented. Certainly the spirit of Christianity, as it appeared 
in the life of its Founder, at least, seems to be, by a poetic 
anachronism incorporated in it. 

But it is never the custom of this author to leave the dili- 
gent student of his performances in any doubt whatever as to 
his meaning. It is a rule, that everything in the play shall 
speak and reverberate his purpose. He prolongs and repeats 
his burthens, till the whole action echoes with them, till * the 
groves, the fountains, every region near, seem all one mutual 
cry/ He has indeed the Teacher's trick of repetition, but 
then he is * so rare a wondered teacher/ so rich in magical 
resources, that he does not often find it necessary to weary the 
sense with sameness. He is prodigal in variety. It is a 
Proteus repetition. But his charge to his Ariel in getting up 
his Masques, always is, — 

' Bring a corollary, 
Bather than want a spirit.' 

Nay, it would be dangerous, not wearisome merely, to make 
the text of this living commentary continuous, or to bring too 
near together ' those short and pithy sentences' wherein ' the 
scanes of meaning' lie packed so closely, which the action 
unwinds and fashions into its immortal groups. And the 
curtain must fall and rise again, ere the outcast duke,— his 
eyes gouged out by tyranny, turned forth to smell his way 
to Dover,— can dare to echo, word by word, the thoughts of 
the outcast king. 

Led by one whose qualification for leadership is, that he 
is * Madman and Beggar, too,' — for as Gloster explains it to 



us, explaining also at the same time much else that the scenic 
language of the play, the dumb show, the transitory hiero- 
glyphic of it presents, and all the criticism of it, 

1 'T is the Time's Plague when Madmen lead the Blind' — 
groping with such leadership his way to Dover — ' smelling it 
out' — thus it is that his secret understanding with the king, 
in that mad and wondrous philosophical humour of his, betrays 

Oloster. Here, take this purse [to Tom o' Bedlam], thou whom ihe 
heaven's plagues 
Have humbled to all strokes : that I am wretched 
Makes thee the happier : — Heavens, deal so still/ 
Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man 
That slaves your ordinance, that will not see 
Because he doth not peel, feel your power quickly.,; 
So distribution should undo excess. 
And each man have enough. 
Lear. O I have taken 

Too little care of this. Take physic, Pomp ; 
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel, 
That thou may'st shake the superflux to them, 
And show the Heavens more just. 

Truly, these men would seem to have been taking lessons 
in the same school. But it is very seldom that two men in 
real life, of equal learning on any topic, coincide so exactly in 
their trains of thought, and in the niceties of their expression 
in discussing it. The emphasis is deep, indeed, when this 
author graves his meaning with such a repetition. But Kegan's 
stern school-master is abroad in this play, enforcing the philo- 
sophic subtilties, bringing home to the senses the neglected 
lessons of nature; full of errands to * wilful men,' charged with 
coarse lessons to those who will learn through the senses only 
great ^Nature's lore — that ' slave Heaven's ordinance — that 
will not SEE, because they do not feel.' 

Q 2 

228 lear's philosopher. 



Armado. Is there not a ballad, boy, of the King and the Beggar? 

Moth. The world was very guilty of such a ballad some three ages since : 
but, I think, now 'tis not to be found; or, if it were, it would neither 
serve for the writing, nor for the tune. 

Armado. I will have the subject newly writ over, that I may example my di- 
gression by some mighty precedent. Love's Labour's Lost. 

T>UT the king's philosophical studies are not yet completed; 
■*-' for he is in fhe hands of one who does not rely on 
general statements for his effects; one who is pertinaciously 
bent on exploring those subterranean social depths, that the 
king's prayer has just glanced at — who is determined to lay 
bare to the utmost, to carry the torch of his new science into 
the lowest recess of that wild, nameless mass of human neglect 
and misery, which the regal sympathy has embraced for him 
in the general; though not, indeed, without some niceties of 
detail, which shew that the eye of a true human pity has 
collected the terms in which he expresses it. 

That vast, immeasurable mass of social misery, which has 
no learned speech, no tragic dialect — no, or ' it would bear 
such an emphasis,' that ' its phrase of sorrow might conjure 
the wandering stars, and bid them stand like wonder-wounded 
hearers' — that misery which must get a king's robe about 
it, ere, in the Poet's time, it could have an audience, must 
needs be produced here, ere all this play was played, in its 
own native and proper shape and costume, daring as the 
attempt might seem. 

The author is not satisfied with the picturesque details of 
that misery which he has already given us, with its ' looped 
and windowed raggedness/ its ' houseless head/ its ' unfed 
sides' ; it must be yet more palpably presented. It must be 
embodied and dramatically developed; it must be exhibited 
with its proper moral and intellectual accompaniments, too, 


before the philosophic requisitions of this design can be 

To the lowest deeps of the lowest depths of the unfathomed 
social misery of that time, the new philosopher, the Poet of 
the Advancement of Learning, wijl himself descend; and 
drag up to the eye of day, — undeterred by any scruple of 
poetic sensibility, — in his own unborrowed habiliments, with all 
the badges of his position in the state upon him, the creature 
he has selected as one of the representatives of the social state 
as he finds it ; — the creature he has selected as the repre- 
sentative of those loathsome, unpenetrated masses of human life, 
which the unscientific social state must needs generate. 

For the design of this play, in its exhibition of the true 
human need, in its new and large exhibition of the ground 
which the Arts of a true and rational human civilization must 
cover, could not but include the defects of that, which passed 
for civilization then. It involved necessarily, indeed, the 
most searching and relentless criticisms of the existing insti- 
tutions of that time. That cry of social misery which per- 
vades it, in which the natural, and social, and artificial evils 
are still discriminated through all the most tragic bursts of/ 
of passion — in which the true social need, in all its compre- 
hension, is uttered — that wild cry of human anguish, pro- 
longed, and repeated, and reverberated as it is — is all one 
outcry upon the social wisdom of the Poet's time. It con- 
stitutes one continuous dramatic expression and embodiment of 
that so deeply-rooted opinion which the New Philosopher is 
known to have entertained, in regard to the practical knowledge 
of mankind as he found it; his opinion of the real advances 
towards the true human ends which had been made in his 
time; an opinion which he has, indeed, taken occasion to 
express elsewhere with some distinctness, considering the 
conditions which hampered the expression of his philosophical 
conclusions; but it is one which could hardly have been 
produced from the philosophic chair in his time, or from the 
bench, or at the council-table, in such terms as we find him 
launching out into here, without any fear or scruple. 


For those who persuade themselves that it was any part of 
this player's intention to bring out, for the amusement of his 
audiences, an historical exhibition of the Life and Times of 
that ancient Celtic king of Britain, whose legendary name and 
chronicle he has appropriated so effectively, will be prevented 
by that view of the subject from ever attaining the least 
inkling of the matter here. For this Magician has quite other 
work in hand. He does not put his girdles round the earth, 
and enforce and harass with toil his delicate spirits,— he does 
not get out his book and staff, and put on his Enchanter's 
robe, for any such kind of effect as that. For this is not any 
antiquary at all, but the true Prospero; and when a little 
more light has been brought into his cell, his garments will 
be found to be, like the disguised Edgar's — ' Persian.' 

It is not enough, then, in the wild revolutionary sweep 
of this play, to bring out the monarch from his palace, and set 
him down at the hovel's door. It is not enough to open it, 
and shew us, by the light of Cordelia's pity — that sunshine 
and rain at once — the ' swine' in that human dwelling, and 
' the short and musty-straw' there. For the poet himself will 
enter it, and drag out its living human tenant into the day of 
his immortal verse. He will set him up for all ages, on his 
great stage, side by side with his great brother. He will put 
the feet of these two men on one platform, and measure their 
stature — for all their senses have the like conditions, as we 
have heard already; and he will make the king himself own 
the kindred, and interpret for him. For this group must 
needs be completed ' to the eye' ; these two extremes in the 
social scale must meet and literally embrace each other, before 
this Teacher's doctrine of ' man ' — 'man as distinguished 
from other species' — can be artistically exhibited. For it is 
this picture of the unaccommodated man— 'unaccommodated' 
still, with all his empiric arts, with all his wordy philosophy — 
it is this picture of man ' as he is, 1 in the misery of his 
IGNORANCE, in his blind struggle with his law of KIND, which 
is his law of ' BEING,'— unreconciled to his place in the universal 
order, where he must live or have no life — for the beast, 


obedient to his law, rejects from his kinds the degenerate man 
— it is this vivid, condensed, scientific exhibition, this scientific 
collection of the fact of man as he is, in his empiric struggle 
with the law which universal nature enforces, and will 
enforce on him with all her pains and penalties till he learns 
it — it is this ' negation* which brings out the true doctrine of 
man and human society in this method of inquiry. For the 
scientific method begins with negations and exclusions, and 
concludes only after every species of rejection; the other, the 
common method, which begins with ' affirmation,' is the 
one that has failed in practice, the one which has brought 
about just this state of things which science is undertaking to 

But this levelling, which the man of the new science, with 
his new apparatus, with his '■ globe and his machines,' con- 
trives to exhibit here with so much ' facility, 1 is a scientific 
one, designed to answer a scientific purpose merely. The 
experimenter, in this case, is one who looks with scientific fore- 
bodings, and not with hope only, on those storms of violent 
political revolution that were hanging then on the world's 
horizon, and threatening to repeat this process, threatening to 
overwhelm in their wild crash, all the ancient social structures 
— threatening ' to lay all flat' ! That is not the kind of change 
he meditates. His is the subtle, all-penetrating Kadicalism of 
the New Science, which imitates the noiseless processes of 
Nature in its change and Re-formation. 

There is a wild gibberish heard in the straw. The fool 
shrieks, ' Nuncle, come not in here,' and out rushes ' Tom 
©'Bedlam* — the naked creature, as Gloster calls him — with 
his c elf locks,' his ' blanketed loins,' his ( begrimed face/ with 
his shattered wits, his madness, real or assumed — there he 

We know, indeed, in this instance, that there is gentle, 
nay, noble blood, there, under that horrid guise. It is the 
heir of a dukedom, we are told, but an out-cast one, who has 
found himself compelled, for the sake of prolonging life, to 
assume that shape, as other wretches were in the Poet's time 

232 leak's philosopher. 

for that same purpose, — men who had lost their dukedoms, 
too, as it would seem, such as they were, in some way, and 
their human relationships, too. But notwithstanding this 
alleviating circumstance which enables the audience to endure 
the exhibition in this instance, it serves not the less effectually 
in the Poet's hand, as ' thI; conspicuous instance' of that 
lowest human condition which this grand Social Tragedy 
must needs include in its delineations. 

Here are some of the prose English descriptions of this 
creature, which we find already included in the commentaries 
on this tragedy ; and which shew that the Poet has not exag- 
gerated his portrait, and that it is not by way of celebrating 
any Anglo-Saxon or Norman triumph over the barbarisms of 
the joint reigns of Regan and Goneril, that he is produced 

' I remember, before the civil wars, Tom o' Bedlams went 
about begging,' Aubrey says. Handle Holme, in his ' Academy 
of Arms and Blazon,' includes them in his descriptions, as a 
class of vagabonds ' feigning themselves mad.' l The Bedlam 
is in the same garb, with a long staff,' etc., ' but his cloathing 
is more fantastic and ridiculous; for being a madman, he is 
madly decked and dressed all over with rubans, feathers, cuttings 
of cloth, and what not, to make him seem a madman, when he 
is no other than a dissembling knave? 

In the Bellman of London, 1640, there is another description 
of him — ' He sweares he hath been in Bedlam, and will talk 
frantickely of purpose ; you see pinnes stuck in sundry places of 
his naked flesh t especially in his armes, which paine he gladly puts 
himself e to; calls himself by the name of Poore Tom; and 
coming near anybody, cries out, ' Poor Tom's a coW Of these 
Abraham men, some be exceeding merry, and doe nothing but 
sing songs, fashioned out of their own braines; some will 
dance; others will doe nothing but either laugh or weepe; 
others are dogged, and so sullen, both in looke and speech, that 
spying but a small company in a house, they bluntly and 
boldly enter, compelling the servants, through fear, to give 
them what they demand.' 


This seems very wicked, very depraved, on the part of these 
persons, especially the sticking of pins in their bare arms ; but 
even our young dukeling Edgar says — 

1 While I may scape, 
I will preserve myself : and am bethought 
To take the basest and most poorest shape, 
That ever penury, in contempt of man, 
Brought near to beast : my face I'll grime with filth ; 
Blanket my loins ; elf all my hair in knots ; 
And with presented nakedness outface 
The winds, and persecutions of the sky. 
The country gives me proof and precedent 
Of Bedlam beggars, who, with roaring voices, 
Strike in their numUd and mortified bare arms, 
Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary ; 
And with this horrible object, from low farms, 
Poor pelting villages, sheep-cotes and mills, 
Sometime with lunatic bans, sometime with prayers, 
Enforce their charity. — 'Poor Turlygood !' 'poor Tom V 
Thais something yet. Edgar I nothing am.' 

But the poet is not contented with the minuteness of this 
description. This character appears to have taken his eye as 
completely as it takes King Lear's, the moment that he gets a 
glimpse of him ; and the poet betrays throughout that same 
philosophical interest in the study, which the monarch expresses 
so boldly; for beside the dramatic exhibition, and the philo- 
sophical review of him, which King Lear institutes, here is 
an autographical sketch of him, and of his mode of living — 

' What are you there ? Your names 1 ' 

cries Gloster, when he comes to the heath, with his torch, to 
seek out the king and his party; whereupon Tom, thinking 
that an occasion has now arrived for defining his social outline, 
takes it upon him to answer, for his part — 

1 Poor Tom ; that eats the swimming frog, the toad, the tadpole, the 
wall-newt, and the water-[newt] ; that in the fury of his heart, when 
the foul fiend rages, swallows the old rat, and the ditch-dog ; drinks the 
green mantle of the standing pool ; who is whipped from tything to 
tything ' [this is an Anglo-Saxon institution one sees] ; c and stocked, 


234 leak's philosophek. 

punished, and imprisoned ; who hath had three suits to his back ' 
[fallen fortunes here, too], < six shirts to his body, horse to ride, and 
weapon to wear.' 

The Jesuits had beer^b*^^ at 

work in Engl^^r^e^uring professedly to^ms^mLll he 
^Wri5m^ persons; and it appeared, to this 

great practical philosopher, that this creature he has fetched 
up here from the subterranean social abysses of his time, pre- 
sented a very fitting subject for the operations of practitioners 
professing any miraculous or superior influence over the demons 
that infest human nature, or those that have power over 
human fortunes. He has brought him out here thus dis- 
tinctly, for the purpose of inquiring whether there is any 
exorcism which can meet his case, or that of the great human 
multitude, that no man can number, of whose penury and vice 
he stands here as the elected, pre-eminent, royal representative. 
In that survey and report of human affairs, which this author 
felt himself called upon to make, the case of this poor creature 
had attracted his attention, and appeared to him to require 
looking to; and, accordingly, he has made a note of it. 

He is admirably seconded in his views on this subject, by the 
king himself, who, in that fine philosophic humour which his 
madness and his misery have served to develop in him, stands 
ready to lend himself to the boldest and most delicate philo- 
sophical inquiries. For the point to be noted here, — and it 
is one of no ordinary importance, — is, that this mad humour 
for philosophical investigation, which has seized so strangely 
the royal mind, does not appear to be at all in the vein of 
that old-fashioned philosophy, which had been rattling its ab- 
stractions in the face of the collective human misery for so 
many ages. For the helplessness of the human creature in his 
struggle with the elements, and those conditions of his nature 
which put him so hopelessly at the mercy of his own kind and 
kindred, seem to suggest to the royal sufferer, who has the 
advantage of a fresh experience to stimulate his apprehension, 
that there ought to be some relief for the human condition 
from this source, that is, from philosophy; and his inquiries 


and discoveries are all stamped with the unmistakeable impress 
of that fire new philosophy, which was not yet out of the 
mint elsewhere — which was yet undergoing the formative 
process in the mind of its great inventor ; — that philosophy, 
which we are told elsewhere ' has for its principal object, to 
make nature subservient to the wants and state of Man ' ; — and 
which concerns itself for that purpose with ideas as they exist 
in nature, as causes, and not as they exist in the mind of man 
as words merely. 

If there had been, indeed, any intention of paying a marked 
compliment to the philosophy which still held all the mind 
of the world in its grasp, at that great moment in history, in 
which Tom o' Bedlam makes his first appearance on any stage, 
it is not likely that that sage would have been just the person 
appointed to hold the office of Philosopher in' Chi< v f, and 
Councillor extraordinary to his Majesty. 

The selection is indeed made on the part of the king, 
in perfect good faith, whatever the Poet's intent may be; for 
from the moment that this creature makes his appearance, he 
has no eyes or ears for anything else. And he will not be 
parted from him. For this startling juxtaposition was not 
intended by the Poet to fulfil its effect as a mere passing 
tableau vivant. The relation must be dramatically developed ; 
that astounding juxtaposition must be prolonged, in spite of 
the horror of the spectators, and the disgust and rude dis- 
pleasure of the king's attendants. They seek in vain to part 
these two men. The king refuses to stir without him. * He 
will still keep with his philosopher.'' He has a vague idea that 
his regal administration stands in need of some assistance, and 
that philosophy ought to be able to give it, and that the Bed- 
lamite is in some way connected with the subject, but confused 
as the association is, it is a pertinacious one; and, in spite of 
their disgust the king's friends are obliged to take this wretch 
with them. For Gloster does not know, after all, it is ' his own 
flesh and blood* he sees there. He cannot even recognize the 
common kindred in that guise, as the king does, when he 
philosophises on his condition. And the rough aristocratic 

236 leak's philosopher. 

contempt and indifference which is manifested by the king's 
party, as a matter of course, for this poor human victim of 
wrong and misfortune, is made to contrast with their bound- 
less sympathy and tenderness for the king, while the poet, 
aiming at broader relationships, finds the mantle of his human- 
ity wide enough for them, both. 

As for the king,— startled in the midst of those new views of 
human wretchedness which his own sufferings have occa- 
sioned, and while those desires to remedy it, with which his 
penitence is accompanied, are still on his lip, by this wild 
apparition and embodiment of his thought, in that new acces- 
sion of his mental disorder, which the presence of this object 
seems to occasion, that confounding of proximate conceptions, 
which leads him to regard this man as a source of new light 
on human affairs, is one of those exquisite physiological 
exhibitions of which only this scientific artist is capable. 

And, in fact, it must be confessed, that this ' learned Theban' 
himself, notwithstanding the unexpected dignity of his pro- 
motion, does not appear to be altogether wanting in a taste, at 
least, for that new kind of philosophical investigation, which 
seems to be looked for at his hands. The king's inquiries 
appear to fall in remarkably with the previous train of his 
pursuits. In the course of his experiments, he seems himself 
to have struck upon that new philosophic proceeding, which 
has been called ' putting philosophy upon the right road 

Only the philosophic domain which that new road in philo- 
sophy leads to, appears to be very considerably broader, as 
1 Tom ' takes it, than that very vivid, but narrow limitation of 
its fields, which Mr. Macaulay has set down in our time, 
would make it. Indeed, this ' philosopher,' that Lear so much 
inclines to, appears to have included in his investigations the 
two extremes of the new science of practice. He has sounded 
it apparently ' from its lowest note to the top of its key.' 

' What is your study ? ' says the king to him, eyeing him 
curiously, and apparently struck with the practical result — 
anxious to have a word with him in private, but obliged to 
conduct the examination on the stage. 


' How to prevent the fiend,' is Tom's reply. * How to 
prevent the fiend and to kill vermin.' 

This is the Poet who says elsewhere, ' that without good 
nature, men are themselves but a nobler kind of vermin.' 

One cannot but observe, however, that Poor Tom's 
researches in this quite new field of a practical philosophy, do 
not appear to have been followed up since his time with any 
very marked success. One of these departments of < his study' 
has indeed been seized, and is now occupied by whole troops 
of modern philosophers ; but their inquiries, though very in- 
teresting and doubtlessly useful, do not appear to exhibit that 
direct and palpable bearing on practice, to which Tom's pro^ 
gramme so severely inclines. For he is one who would make 
' the art and practic part of life, the mistress to his theoric.' 
And as to that other mysterious object of his inquiries, 
Mr. Macaulay is not the only person who appears to think, 
that that does not come within the range of anything human. 
Many of our scholars are still of the opinion that, ' court holy 
water' is the best application in the world for him ; and the fact 
that he does not appear to get ■ prevented' with it; it is a fact 
which of course has nothing to do with the logical result. 
For our philosophers are still determined to reason it ' thus and 
thus,' without taking into account the circumstance, that ' the 
sequent effect' with which ' nature finds itself scourged,' is not 
touched by their reasons. 

King Lear's own inquiries seem also to include with great 
distinctness, the two great branches of the new philosophical 
inquiry. His mind is indeed very eagerly bent on the pursuit 
of causes. And though in the paroxysms of his mental dis- 
order, he is apt to confound them occasionally, this very con- 
fusion, as it is managed, only serves to develop the breadth of 
the philosophic conception beneath it. 

* He hath no daughters, Sir.' ' Death, traitor! Nothing 
could have subdued nature to such a lowness, but — his un- 
kind daughters' It is, of course, his own new and terrible 
experience which points the inquiry, and though the physical 
causes are not omitted in it, it is not strange that the moral 


should predominate, and that his mind should seem to be very 
curiously occupied in tracking the ethical phenomena to their 
sources ' in nature? 

In the midst of the uproar of the Tempest, he does indeed 
begin with the physical investigation. He puts to his ' learned 
Theban' the question, which no learned Theban had then 
ever suspected of lying within the range of the scholar's 
investigations — that question which has been put to some 
purpose since — 'What is the cause of thunder?' But his 
philosophic inquiry does not stop there,— where all the new 
philosophy has stopped ever since, and where some of our 
scholars declare it was meant to stop, notwithstanding the 
plainest declarations of its inventor to the contrary — with the 
investigation of physical causes. 

For, after all, it is ' the tempest in his mind* that most con- 
cerns him. His philosopher, his practical philosopher, must 
be able to explore the conditions of that, and find the con- 
ductors for its lightnings. ' For where the greater malady is 
fixed, the lesser is scarce felt.' ' Nor rain, wind, thunder, 
lire, are his daughters.' After all, it is Regan's heart that 
appears to him to be the trouble — it is that which must first 
be laid on the table; and as soon- as he decides to have a 
philosopher among ' his hundred,' he gives orders to that 

' Then let them anatomise Regan ; see what breeds about her heart : 
Is there any cause in nature that makes these hard hearts V 

A very fair subject for philosophical inquiry, one would say; 
and, on the whole, as profitable and interesting a one, per- 
haps, as some of those that engage the attention of our men of 
learning so profoundly at present. In these days of enlightened 
scientific procedure, one would hardly undertake the smallest 
practical affair with the aid of any such vague general notions 
or traditional accounts of the properties to be dealt with, as 
those which our learned Thebans appear to find all-sufficient 
for their practices, in that particular department which Lear 
seems inclined to open here as a field for scientific exploration. 


And it is perfectly clear that the author, whoever he 
may be, is very much of Lear's mind on this point, for he 
does not depend upon Lear alone to suggest his views 
upon it. There is never a person of this drama that does not 
do it. 

240 lear's philosopher. 



' All that follow their noses are led by their eyes, but — blind men.' 

fPHE Play is all strewn throughout, and tinctured in the 
grain, with the finest natural philosophy, of that new 
and very subtle and peculiar kind, which belongs to the earlier 
stages of the physical inquiry, and while it was still in the 
hands of its original inventors. Even in physics, there are 
views here which have not been developed any further since 
this author's time. It is not merely in the direct discourse on 
questions of physical science, as in the physician's report of 
the resources of his art, or in Cordelia's invocation to ' all the 
blessed secrets — the unpublished virtues of the earth/ that the 
track of the new physiological science, which this work 
embodies, may be seen. It runs through it all; it betrays 
itself at every turn. But the subtle and occult relations of 
the moral and physical are noted here, as we do not find them 
noted elsewhere, in less practical theories of nature. 

That there is something in the design of this play which 
equires an elaborate and systematic exhibition of the ' special' 
human relationships, natural and artificial, political, social, and 
domestic, almost any reading of it would show. And that 
this design involves, also, a systematic exhibition of the social 
consequences arising from the violation of the natural laws or 
duties of these relationships, and that this violation is every- 
where systematically aggravated, — carried to its last con- 
ceivable extreme, so that all the play is filled with the uproar 


of one continued outrage on humanity ; this is not less evident 
For the Poet is not content with the material which his 
chronicle offered him, already invented to his hands for this 
purpose, but he has deliberately tacked to it, and intricately 
connected with it throughout,, another plot, bearing on the 
surface of it, and in the most prominent statements, the 
author's intention in this respect; which tends not only in the 
most unequivocal manner to repeat and corroborate the im- 
pressions which the story of Lear produces, but to widen the 
dramatic exhibition, so as to make it capable of conveying the 
whole breadth of the philosophic conception. For it is the 
scientific doctrine of MAN that is taught here; and that is, 
that man must be human in all his relations, or ' cease to be. 7 
It is the violation of the essential humanity. It is a 
degeneracy which is exhibited here, and the ' sequent 
effects' which belong naturally to the violation of a law 
that has the force of the universe to sustain it. And it is not 
by accident that the story of the illegitimate Edmund begins 
the piece ; it is not for nothing that we are compelled to stop 
to hear that, before even Lear and his daughters can make 
their entrance. The whole story of the base and base-born one, 
who makes what he calls nature — the rude, brutal, sponta- 
neous nature — his goddess and his law, and ignores the 
human distinction; this part was needed in order to supply 
the deficiences in the social diagrams which the original plot 
presented; and, indeed, the whole story of the Duke of 
Gloster, which is from first to last a clear Elizabethan inven- 
tion, and of which this of Edmund is but a part, was not less 
essential for the same purpose. 

Neither does one need to go very far beneath the surface, to 
perceive a new and extraordinary treatment of the ethical 
principle in this play throughout ; one which the new, artistic, 
practical ' stand-point ' here taken naturally suggested, but one 
which could have proceeded only from the inmost heart of the 
new philosophy. It is just the kind of treatment which the 
proposal to introduce the Inductive method of inquiry into 
this department of the human practice inevitably involved. 


24.2 lear's philosopher. 

A disposition to go behind the ethical phenomena, to pursue 
the investigation to its scientific conclusion, a refusal to accept 
the facts which, to the unscientific observation, appear to be 
the ultimate ones — a refusal to accept the coarse, vague, 
spontaneous notions of the dark ages, as the solution of these 
so essential phenomena, is everywhere betraying and declaring 
itself. Cordelia's agonised invocation and summons to the 
unpublished forces of nature, to be aidant and remediate to the 
good man's distress, is continually echoed by the poet, but 
with a broader application. It is not the bodily malady and in- 
firmity only— it is not that kind of madness, only with which 
the poor king is afflicted in the later stages of the play, which 
appears to him to need scientific treatment— it is not for the cure 
of these alone that he would open his Prospero book, ' nature's 
infinite book of secresy,' as he calls it in Mark Antony — < the 
true magic,' as he calls it elsewhere — the book of the un- 
published laws — the scientific book of ' kinds ' — the book 
of ' the historic laws' — 'the book of God's power.'^ 

All the interior phenomena which attend the violation of 
duty are strictly omitted here. That psychological exhibition 
of it belongs to other plays; and the Poet has left us, as we 
all know, no room to suspect the tenderness of his moral sen- 
sibility, or the depth of his acquaintance with these subjective 
phenomena. The social consequences of the violation of duty 
in all the human relationships, the consequence to others, and 
the social reaction, limits the exhibition here. ^ The object on 
which our sympathies are chiefly concentrated is, as he himself 
is made to inform us — 

' One more sinned against, than sinning.' 
' Oh these eclipses do portend these divisions,' 
says the base-born Edmund, sneeringly. ' Fa sol la mi; he 
continues, producing that particular conjunction of sounds 
which was forbidden by the ancient musicians, on account of 
its unnatural discord. The monkish writers on music call it 
diabolical. It is at the conclusion of a very long and elaborate 
discussion on this question* that he treats us to this prohibited 
piece of harmony; and a discussion in which Gloster refers to 


the influence of the planets, this unnaturalness in all the human 
relations — this universal jangle — ' this ruinous disorder, that 
hunts men disquietly to their graves.' But the 'base' Edmund 
is disposed to acquit the celestial influences of the evil charged 
on them. He does not believe in men being — 

1 Fools, by heavenly compulsion ; knaves and thieves, by spherical 
predominance ; drunkards, liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedi- 
ence of planetary influence ; and all that they are evil in, by a divine 
thrusting on.' 

He has another method of accounting for what he himself is. 
He does not think it necessary to go quite so far, to find the 
origin of his own base, lawless, inhuman, unconscionable dispo- 
sitions. But the inquiries, which are handled so boldly in the 
soliloquies of Edmund, are started again and again elsewhere; 
and the recurrence is too emphatic, to leave any room to doubt 
that the author's intention in the play is concerned in it; and 
that this question of * the several dispositions and characters of 
men,' and the inquiry as to whether there be * any causes in 
nature' of these degenerate tendencies, which he is at such pains 
to exhibit, is, for some reason or other, a very important point 
with him. That which in contemplative philosophy corresponds 
to the cause, in practical philosophy becomes the rule, the founder 
of it tells us. But the play cannot be studied effectually without 
taking into account the fact, that the author avails himself of 
the date of his chronicle to represent that stage of human 
development in which the mysterious forces of nature were still 
blindly deified; and, therefore, the religious invocations with 
which the play abounds, are not, in the modern sense of the 
term, prayers, but only vague, poetic appeals to the unknown, 
unexplored powers in nature, which we call second causes. 
And when, as yet, there was no room for science in the narrow 
premature theories which men found imposed on them — when 
all the new movement of human thought was still ham- 
pered by the narrowness of ? preconceived opinions,' the poet 
was glad to take shelter under the date of his legend now and 
then, here, as in Macbeth and other poems, for the sake of a 


244 leak's philosopher. 

little more freedom in this respect. He is very far from con- 
demning 'presuppositions ' and * anticipations,' but only wishes 
them kept in their proper places, because to bring them into 
the region of fact and induction, and so to falsify the actual 
condition of things — to undertake to face down the powers of 
nature with them, is a merely mistaken mode of proceeding; 
because these powers are powers which do not yield to the 
human beliefs, and the practical doctrine must have respect to 
them. The great battle of that age — the battle of the 
second causes, which the new philosophers were compelled 
to fight in behalf of humanity at the peril of their lives 
— the battle which they fought in the open field with 
Aristotle and Plato — fills all this magnificent poetry with its 

It must be confessed, that those terrible appeals to the 
heavens, into which King Lear launches out in his anguish 
now and then, are anything but pious; but the boldness which 
shocks our modern sensibilities becomes less offensive, if we 
take into account the fact that they are not made to the 
object of our present religious worship, but are mere vague 
appeals, and questioning addresses to the unknown, unexplored 
causes in nature — the powers which lie behind the historical 

For that divine Ideal of Human Nature to which ' our 
large temples, crowded with the shows of peace/ are built 
now, had not yet appeared at the date of this history, in that 
form in which we now worship it, with its triumphant assu- 
rance that it came forth from the heart of God, and declared 
Him. Paul had not yet preached his sermon at Athens, in 
the age of this supposed King of Britain; and though the 
author was indeed painting his own age, and not that, it so 
happened that there was such a heathenish and inhuman, and, 
as he intimates, indeed, quite 'fiendish 1 and diabolical state of 
things to represent here then, that this discrepancy was not so 
shocking as it might have been if he had found a divine 
religion in full operation here. 

' If it be you,' says Lear, falling back upon the theory, 


which Edmund has already discarded, of a divine thrusting 
on — 

1 If it be you that stir these daughters' hearts 
Against their father, fool me not so much 
To bear it tamely ; touch me with noble anger.' 

And here is an echo of the * spherical predominance' which 
Gloster goes into so elaborately in the outset, confessing, much 
to the amusement of his graceless offspring, that he is disposed 
to think, after all, there may be something in it. ' For/ he 
says, * though the wisdom of nature [the spontaneous wisdom] 
can reason IT thus and thus, yet nature finds itself scourged 
by the sequent EFFECT;' and he is talking under the dic- 
tation of a philosopher who, though he ridicules the preten- 
sions of astrology in the next breath, lays it down as a principle 
in the scientific Art, as a chief point in the science of Practice 
and Kelief, that the sequent effects, with which nature finds 
itself scourged, are a better guide to the causes which the 
practical remedy must comprehend, than anything which the 
wisdom of nature can undertake to reason out beforehand, 
without any respect to the sequent effect — 'thus, and — thus.' 
But here is the confirmation of Gloster's view of the subject, 
which the sound-minded Kent, who is not at all metaphysical, 
finds himself provoked to utter; and though this is in the 
Fourth Act, and Gloster's opinions are advanced in the First, 
the passages do, notwithstanding, * look towards each other.' 

' It is the stars. 
The stars above us govern our conditions, 
Else one self mate and mate could not beget 
Such different issues.' 

Of course, it is not the astrological theory of the constitu- 
tional original differences in the human dispositions which the 
honest Kent is made to advocate here, literally and in earnest. 
It is rather the absence of any known cause, and the necessity 
of supposing one in a case where this difference is so obtrusive 
and violent, which he expresses; the stars being the natural 
resort of men in such circumstances, and when other solutions 
fail ; though Poor Tom appears to be in possession of a much 


246 leak's philosopher. 

more orthodox theory for the peculiar disorders in his moral 
constitution: but, at the same time, it must be conceded that 
it is one which does not appear to have led, in his case, to any 
such felicitous practical results as the supposed origin of it 
might have seemed to promise. 

For, indeed, this point of natural differences in the human 
dispositions, though, of course, quite overlooked in the moral 
regimen which. is based on a priori knowledge, and is able to 
dispense with science, and ride over the actual laws; this 
point of difference — not in the dispositions of individuals 
only, but the differences which manifest themselves under the 
varying conditions of age and bodily health, of climate, or 
other physical differences in the same individual, as well as 
under the varying moral conditions of differing social and 
political positions and relations; this so essential point, over- 
looked as it is in the ordinary practice, has seized the clear 
eye of this great scientific practitioner, this Master of Arts, 
and he is making a radical point of it in his new speculation ; 
he is making collections on it, and he will make a main point 
of it in « the part operative ' of his New Science, when he 
comes to make out the outline of it elsewhere, referring us 
distinctly to this place for his collections in it, for his collec- 
tions on this point, as well as on others not less radical. 

Lear himself, in his madness, appears, as we have seen 
already, much disposed to speculate upon this same particular 
question, which Gloster and Edmund and Kent have already 
indicated as ' a necessary question of the play' ; namely, the 
question as* to ' the causes in nature 1 of the phenomena which 
the social condition of man exhibits; that is, the causes of that 
degeneracy, that violation of the essential human law to which 
all the evil is tracked here ; and it is the scientific doctrine, 
that the nature of a thing cannot be successfully studied in 
itself alone. It is not in water or in air only, or in any other 
single substance, that we find the nature of oxygen, or hydrogen, 
or any other of those principles in nature, which the applica- 
tion of this method to another department evolves from things 
which present themselves to the unscientific experience as 


most dissimilar. ' It is the greatest proof of want of skill to 
investigate the nature of any object in itself alone; for the 
same nature which seems concealed and hidden in some in- 
stances, is manifest and almost palpable in others; and, in 
general, those very things which are considered as secret, are 
manifest and common in other objects, but will never be 
clearly seen if the experiments and conclusions of men be 
directed to themselves alone': for it is a part of this doctrine, <__ 
that man is not omitted in the order of nature — that the term ^ 
human nature is not a misnomer. The doctrine of this 
Play is, that those same powers which are at work in man's 
life, are at work without it also; that they are powers which 
belong, in their highest form, to the nature of things in 
general; and that man himself, with all his special distinc- 
tions, is under the law of that universal constitution. The 
scientific remedy for the state of things which this play ex- 
hibits is the knowledge of ' causes in nature,' which must be 
found here, as in the other case, by scientific investigation — 
the spontaneous method leading to no better result here than 
in the other case. Under cover of the excitements of this 
play, this inquiry is boldly opened, and the track of the new 
science is clearly marked in it. 

Poor Lear is, indeed, compelled to leave the practical im- 
provement of his hints for another; and when it comes to the 
open question of the remedy for this state of things, which is 
the term of the inquiry, when he undertakes to put his 
absolute power in motion for the avowed purpose of effecting 
an improvement here, he appears indeed disposed to treat the 
subject in the most savage and despairing manner — that is, 
on his own account ; but the vein of the scientific inquiry still 
runs unbroken through all this burst of passion. For in his 
scorn for that failure in human nature and human life of 
which society, as he finds it, stands convicted — that failure 
to establish the distinctive law of the human kind — that 
failure from which he is suffering so deeply — and in his 
struggle to express that disgust, he proposes, as an improve- 
ment on the state of things he finds, a law which shall oblite- 

248 leak's philosopheb. 

rate that human distinction; though certainly that is anything 
but the Poet's remedy; and the poor king himself does not 
appear to be in earnest, for the moral disgust in which the 
distinctive sentiment of the nobler nature, and the knowledge 
of human good and evil betrays itself, breaks forth in floods of 
passion that overflow all the bounds of articulation before he 
can make an end of it. 

But the radical nature of this question of natural causes, 
which the practical theory of the social arts must comprehend, 
is already indicated in this play, in the very beginning of the 

This author is everywhere bent on graving the scientific 
distinction between those instinctive affections in which men 
degenerate, and tend to the rank of lower natures, and the 
noble natural, distinctively human affections; and when, in 
the first scene, the king betrays the selfishness of that fond 
preference for his younger daughter, — tender, and paternal, 
and deep as it was, — and the depth of those hopes he was 
resting on her kind care and nursery, by the very height of 
that frenzied paroxysm of rage and disappointment, which her 
unflattering and, as it seems to him, her unloving reply, 
creates; — when that l small fault, which showed,' he tells 
us, 'so ugly' in her whom ' he loved most ' — which turned, in 
a moment, all the sweetness of his love for her ' to gall, and like 
an engine, wrenched his nature from its firm place' ; — these are 
the terms in which he undertakes to annul the natural tie, and 
disown her — 

Lear. So young, and so untender ? 

Cordelia. So young, my lord, and true. 

Lear. Let it be so. — Thy truth then be thy dower : 

For, by the sacred radiance of the sun ; 

The mysteries of Hecate, and the night ; 

By all the operations of the orbs, 

From whom we do exist, and cease to be, 

Here I disclaim all my paternal care, 

Propinquity and property of blood, 

And as a stranger to my heart and me 

Hold thee, from this, for ever. The barbarous Scythian, 

Or he that makes his generation messes 


To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom 
Be as well neighbour 'd, pitied, and relieved, 
As thou, my sometime daughter. 

And when 

'This even-handed justice 
Commends the ingredients of his poisoned chalice 
To his own lips ' — 

when his * dog-hearted daughters ! have returned to his own 
bosom the cruel edge of that unnatural wrong which he 
has impiously dared to summon nature herself — violated 
nature - to witness, this is the greeting which the unnatural 
Goneril receives, on her return to her husband, when she 
complains to him of her welcome — 

Goneril. I have been worth the whistle. 

Albany. Goneril ! 

You are not worth the dust which the rude wind 
Blows in your face. — I fear your disposition : 
That nature, which contemns its origin, 
Cannot be bordered certain in itself ; 
She that herself will sliver and disbranch 
From her material sap, perforce must wither, 
And come to deadly use. 

[Prima Philosophia. Axioms which are not limited to the 
particular parts of sciences, but 'such as are more common, 
and of a higher stage.'] 

Goneril. No more ; the text is foolish. 
Albany. Tigers, not daughters, — 

[You have practised on yourself — you have destroyed in 
yourself the nobler, fairer nature which the law of human 
kind — the law of human duty and affection — would have 
given you. Not daughters, — Tigers.'] 

'A father, and a gracious aged man, 
Whose reverence the head-lugged bear would lick, 
Most barbarous, most degenerate !' — 

[degenerate — that is the point — most degenerate] — 

'have you madded. 
If that the heavens do not their visible spirits 

250 lear's philosopher. 

Send quickly down, to tame these vile offences 
'Twill come, 

Humanity must perforce prey on itself, 
Like monsters of the deep.' 

[the land refuses a parallel.] 

And it is the scientific distinction between man and the 
brute creation — it is the law of nature *in the human kind, 
which the Poet is getting out scientifically here, in the face of 
that terrific failure and degeneration in the kind — which he 
paints so vividly, for the purpose of inquiring whether there is 
not, perhaps, after all, some more potent provisioning and 
arming of man for his place in nature, than this state of things 
would lead one to suppose — whether there are not, perhaps, 
some more efficacious ' humanities ' than those mild ones 
which appear to operate so lamely on this barbaric, degenerate 
thing. f Milk-liver' d man!' replies Goneril, speaking not on 
her own behalf only, for the words have a double significance; 
and the Poet glances through them at that sufferance with 
which the state of things he has just noted was endured — - 

' Milk-liver'd man, 

That bear'st a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs ; 
Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning 
Thine honour from thy sufferance ; that not know'st, 
Fools do those villains pity, who are punished 
Before they have done their mischief Where's thy drum ? 
France spreads his banners in our noiseless land ; 
With plumed helm thy slayer begins threats ; 
Whilst thou, a Moral Fool, sit'st still, and cry'st, 
Alack ! why does he so V 

This is found to be an appeal of the Poet's own when all is 
done, and one that goes far into the necessary questions of the 

But Albany, in his rejoinder, returns to the idea of the lost, 
degenerate, dissolute Humanity again. He has talked of tigers, 
and head-lugged bears (and it was necessary to combine the 
proverbial sensitiveness of that animal to that particular mode 
of treatment, with the natural amiability of his disposition in 
general, in order to do justice to the Poet's conception here) ; 


— he has called upon ' the monsters of the deep,' and quoted 
the laws of their societies, in illustration of the state of things 
to which the unscientific human combination appears to him 
to be visibly tending. But this human degeneracy and de- 
formity, which the action of the play exhibits in diagrams — 
the descent to the lower nature from the higher; the voluntary 
descent; the voluntary blindness and narrowness ; the rejection 
of the distinctive human law— of Virtue and Duty, as reason 
and conscience interpret it — appears to the scientific mind to 
require yet other terms and comparisons. These conceits and 
comparisons, drawn from the habits of innocent, though not to 
man agreeable, animals, who have no law but blind instinct, 
do not suffice to convey the Poet's idea of this human dire- 
liction; and, accordingly, he instructs this gentle and noble 
man, whom this criticism best becomes, to complete this view 
of the subject, in his attempt to express the disgust with 
which this inhuman, this more than brutal conduct, in his 
high-born, and gorgeously-robed, and delicately-featured 
spouse, inspires him — 

'See thyself, devil ft- 

nay, he corrects himself — 

Proper deformity [de-formity] seems not in the fiend 

So horrid, as in woman. 
Goneril. O vain fool ! 
Albany. Thou changed and self-covered thing, for shame, 

Be-monster not thy feature. Were it my fitness' — 

for here it is the human, and not the instinctive element — not 
1 the blood' element that rules — 

' Were it my fitness 
To let these hands obey my blood, 
They are apt enough to dislocate and tear 
Thy flesh and bones' 

Kather tiger-like impulses for so mild a gentleman to own 
to ; but the process which he confesses his hands are already 
inclined to undertake, is not half so cruel as the one which 
this woman has practised on herself while she was meditating 

252 LEAR'S philosopher. 

only wrong to another, and pursuing her ' horrible pleasure' 
at the expense of madness and death to another; not half so 
cruel and injurious, for in that act she has trampled down, and 
torn, and dislocated, she has slaughtered in cold blood, the 
divine, angelic form of womanhood — that form of worth and 
celestial aspiration which great nature stamped upon her, and 
gave to her for her law in nature, her type, her essence, her 
ORIGINAL. She has desecrated, not that common form of 
humanity only which the common human sentiment of reason, 
which the human sentiment of duty is everywhere struggling 
to fulfil, but that lovelier soul of humanity —that softer, subtler, 
more gracious, more celestial, more commanding spirit of it, 
which the form of womanhood in its integrity must carry with 
it — which the form of womanhood will carry with it, if it be 
not counterfeit or degenerate, gone down into a lower range, 
' be-monstered ' — ' a changed and self-covered thing.' That is 
the Poet's reading. 

' However,' the Duke of Albany concludes, after that strug- 
gle with his hands he speaks of— chivalrously refusing to let 
them obey that impulse of ' blood,' as a gentleman in such 
circumstances, under any amount of provocation, should — 
true to himself, true to his manliness and to his gentle breeding, 
though his wife is false to hers, and i false to her nature' — 

' Howe'er thou art & fiend, 
A woman's shape doth shield thee. 
Goneril. Marry ! your manhood now.' 

This is indeed a discourse in which the reader must have 
' the text,' or ever he can begin to catch the meaning of those 
philosophic points with which this orator, who talks so ' pressly/ 
studs his lines. 

For the passage which Goneril dismisses with such scorn is 
indeed the text, or it will be, when the word which her com- 
mentary on it contains has been added to it : for it is ' the 
foolishness' of struggling with great Nature, and her LAW of 
KINDS _ it is the folly of ignorance, the stupidity of living 
without respect to nature and its sequent effects, as well as its 
preformed decree — 


(' Perforce must wither, 
And come to deadly use ' — ) 

which this discourse is intended to illustrate. And one who 
has once tracked the dramatic development of this text, 
through all this moving exhibition of human society, and 
its violated rule in nature, will be at no loss to conjecture out 
of what ' New' book it comes, if indeed that book has ever 
been opened to him. 

The whole subject is treated here scientifically — that is, 
from without. The generalizations of the higher stages of 
philosophy — the axioms of a universal philosophy — with all the 
force of their universality, must be brought to bear upon it, 
through all its developments. The universal historical laws, 
in that modification of them which the speciality of the human 
kind creates, must be impartially set forth here. The law of 
duty, as the natural law of human society; the law of 
humanity, as the law, nay, the form, of the HUMAN kind, 
stamped on it with the Creator's stamp, that order from the 
universal law of kinds that gives to all life its special bounds, 
its 'border in itself' — that form so essential, that there is no 
humanity or kind-ness where that is not — that law which we 
hear so much of, in its narrower aspects, under various names, 
in all men's speech, is produced here, in its broader relations, 
as the necessary basis of a scientific social art. And it is this 
author's deliberate opinion as a Naturalist, it is the opinion of 
this School in Natural Science, from which this work pro- 
ceeds, that those who undertake to compose human societies, 
large or small, whether in families, or states, or empires, with- 
out recognising this principle — those who undertake to com- 
pose UNIONS, human unions and societies, on any other 
principle - will have a diabolical jangle of it when all is done. 
For this law of unity, which is written on the soul of man, 
this law of CONSCIENCE within, is written without also ; and 
to erase it within is to get the lesson from without in that 
universal and downright .speech and language which the 
axioms of nature are taught in — it is to get it in that fearful 
school in which nature repeats the doctrine of her violated 

254 lear's philosopher. 

law, for those who are not able to solve and comprehend the 
science of it as it is written — written beforehand — in the 
natural law and constitutions of the human soul. 

1 That nature which contemns its origin 
Cannot be bordered certain in itself? 

[These are the mysteries of day and night, that Lear, in 
his ignorance, vainly invokes, the operations of the orbs from 
whom we do exist and cease to be.~] 

1 She that herself will sliver and disbranch 
From her material sap, perforce must wither, 
And come to deadly use.' 

' The text is — foolish.' 

The teacher who takes it upon himself to get out this text 
from the text-book of Universal Laws, for the purpose of 
conducting it to its practical application in human affairs, 
for the purpose of suggesting the true remedy for those great 
human wants which he exhibits here, is not one of those 
1 Milk-livered men/ those Moral Fools, that Goneril delicately 
alludes to, who bear a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs; 
who have not in their brows an eye discerning their honour 
from their sufferance; who think it enough to sit still under 
the murderous blows of what they call misfortune, fate, Pro- 
vidence, when it is their own im-providence ; who think it is 
enough to sit still, and cry, Alack ! without inquiring what it 
is that makes that lack ; without ever putting the question in 
earnest, ' Why does he so V His Play is all full of the practical 
application of the text, the application of it which Gloster 
sums up in a word — 

* 'Tis the Time's plague when Madmen leaditfEi Blind.'* 

The whole Play is one magnificent intimation, on the part 
of the Poet, that eyes are made to see with ; and that there is 

: I will preach to thee. Mark me : [says Lear] 
When we are born, we cry that we are come 
To this great stage of Fools. [Mark me !'] 


no so natural and legitimate use of them as that which 
human affairs were crying for, through all their lengths and 
breadths, in his time. It is that eye which is one of the 
distinctive features of the human kind; that eye which 
looks before and after, which extends human vision so far 
beyond individual sensuous experience, which is able to 
converge the light of universal truth upon particular ex- 
perience, which is able to bring the infallible guidance of 
universal axioms into all the particulars of human conduct 
— that is the eye which he finds wanting in human affairs. 
The play is pointing everywhere with the Poet's scorn of 
1 Blind Men,' * who will not see because they do not feel/ — 
who wait for the blows of ' fortune/ to teach them the lesson 
of Nature's laws — who wait to be scourged, or dashed to 
pieces with ' the sequent effect/ instead of making use of their 
faculty of reason to ascend to causes, and so ' to trammel up 
the consequence/ 

It is that same combination of human faculties, that 
same combination of sense and reason, which the Novum 
Organum provides for; it is that same scorn of abstract wordy 
speculation, on the one hand, and blind experimental groping, 
on the other, that is everywhere suggested here. But with the 
aid of the persons of the Drama, and their suggestions, the 
new philosophy is carried into departments which it would 
have cost the Author of the Novum Organum and the 
Advancement of Learning his head to look into. He might 
as well have proposed to impeach the Government in Parlia- 
ment outright, as to offer to advance his Novum Organum 
into these fields; fields which it enters safely enough under 
the cover of a spontaneous, inspired, dramatic philosophy, 
though it is a philosophy which overflows continually with 
those practical axioms, those aphorisms, which the Author of 
the Advancement of Learning assures us ' are made of the 
pith and heart of sciences' ; and that * no man can write who is 
not sound and grounded/ But then, if they are only written 
in * with a goose-pen/ they pass well enough for unconscious, 
unmeaning, spontaneous felicities. 

256 lear's philosopher. 

' Canst thou tell why one's nose stands in the middle of his 
face?' says the Fool, in the First Act, by way of entertaining 
his master, when the poor king's want of foresight and ' pru- 
dence' begins to tell on his affairs a little. ' Canst thou tell 
why one's nose stands in the middle of his face? f No.' 
< Why, to keep his eyes on either side of it, that what a man 
cannot smell out he may spy into. 1 

Fool. Canst tell how an oyster makes his shell V 

Lear. No. 

Fool. Nor I neither ; but I can tell why a snail has a house. 

Lear. Why? 

Fool. Why, to put his head in ; not to give it away to his daughters, 
and leave his horns without a case. 

Lear Be my horses ready 1 

Fool. Thy asses are gone about 'em. The reason why the seven stars 
are no more than seven, is a pretty reason. 

Lear. Because they are not eight 1 

Fool. Yes, indeed : Thou wouldest make a good— fool. 

He cannot tell how an oyster makes his shell, but the nose 
has not stood in the middle of his face for nothing. There has 
been some prying on either side of it, apparently; and he has 
pried to such good purpose, that some of the prime secrets of 
the new philosophy appear to have turned up in his researches. 
f To take it again perforce,' mutters the king. ' If thou wert 
my fool, Nuncle, I'd have thee beaten for being OLD before thy 
time. 3 [This is a wit ' of the self-same colour' with that one 
who discovered that the times from which the world's practical 
wisdom was inherited, were the times when the world was 
young. ' They told me I had white hairs in my beard ere the 
black ones were there !'] ( I'd have thee beaten for being old 
before thy time.'— < How's that?'— ' Thou shouldst not have 
been OLD before thou hadst been WISE.' 

And it is in the Second Act that poor Kent, in his misfortunes, 
furnishes occasion for another avowal on the part of this same 
learned critic, of a preference for a practical philosophy, though 
borrowed from the lower species. He comes upon the object 
of his criticism as he sits in the stocks, because he could not 
adopt the style of his time with sufficient earnestness, though 


he does make an attempt ' to go out of his dialect,' but was not 
more happy in it than some other men of his politics were, in 
the Poet's time. 

1 Sir, in good sooth, in sincere verity, 
Under the allowance of your grand aspect, 
Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire 
On flickering Phebui front — 

Cornwall. * What mean'st by this V 

Kent. ' To go out of my dialect, which you discommend so much. 

[Halting in his blank verse for the explanation] : — It is from 
that seat, to which the plainness of this man, with the official 
dignities of his time, has conducted him, that he puts the 
inquiry to that keen observer, whose observations in natural 
history have just been quoted, — 

Kent. How chances that the king comes with so small a trainl 

Fool. An thou had'st been set in the stocks for that question, thou 
had'st well deserved it. 

Kent. Why, fool? 

Fool. We'll set thee to school to an ant, to teach thee there is no 
labouring in the winter. All that follow their noses are led by their eyes, 

but— BLIND MEN. 

Kent. Where learned'st thou that, fool 1 
Fool. Not in the stocks, fool. 

[Not from being punished with the sequent effect; not in 
consequence of an improvidence, that an ant might have taught 
me to avoid.] 

' I have no way, and therefore want no eyes ; says another 

duke, who is also the victim of that e absolute' authority which 

is abroad in this play. * I stumbled when I saw/ and this is 

his prayer. 

Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man 
That slaves your ordinance ; that will not see 
Because he doth not feel, feel your power quickly. 

' Thou seest how this world goes/ says the outcast king, 
meeting this poor outcast duke, just after his eyes had been 
taken out of his head, by the persons then occupying the 
chief offices in the state. ' Thou seest how this world goes.' 
' I see it feelingly,' is the duke's reply. 


258 leak's philosopher. 

Lear. What ! art inadl A man may see how this world goes with no 
eyes. Look with thine ears. 

And his account of how it goes, is — as we shall see — 
one that requires to be looked at with ears, for it contains, 
what one calls elsewhere in this play, — ear-kissing arguments. 
— * Get thee glass eyes,' he says, in conclusion, f and like a 
scurvy politician,' pretend to SEE, the things thou dost not/ 
And that was not the kind of politician, and that was not the 
kind of political eye-sight, to which this statesman, and seer, 
proposed to leave the times, that his legacy should fall on, 
whatever he might be compelled to tolerate in his own. 

' Upon the crown o' the cliff. What thing was that 

Which parted from you V 

1 A poor unfortunate beggar.' [Softly.] 
1 As 1 stood here below, methought his eyes 

Were two full moons ; he had a thousand noses. 

Horns welked and waved, like the enridged sea' 

' Now, Sir, what are you?' says the poor outcast duke to 
his true son, when in disguise he offers to attend him. ' A 
most poor man,' is the reply, ' made lame by fortune's blows; 
who, by the art of known and feeling sorrows, am 
pregnant to good pity. Give me your hand, I'll lead you to 
some BIDING. Bear free and patient thoughts/ is his whisper 
to him. 

Surely this is a poet that has got an inkling, in some way, 
of the new idea of an experimental philosophy, — of a combina- 
tion of the human faculties of sense and reason in some 
organum ; one, too, whose eye passes lightly over the architec- 
tonic gifts of univalves and bivalves, and entomological develop- 
ments of skill and forethought, intent on that great chrysalis, 
which has never been able to publish yet its Creator's glory. 
Here is a naturalist who would not think it enough to combine 
reason with experiment, in wind, and rain, and fire, and thunder, 
who would not think it enough to bring all the unpublished 
virtues of the earth, to the relief of the bodily human maladies. 
It is the Poet, who says elsewhere, * Can'st thou not minister to 


a mind diseased ? No ? Throw physic to the dogs, I'll none of 
it.' It is the poet who says, i Nor wind, rain, fire, thunder, are 
my daughters.' * Nothing could have brought him to such a 
lowness in nature, but his xm-kind daughters.' It is the natural- 
ist who says, 4 Then let Regan's heart be anatomized, and see 
what it is that breeds about it. Is there any cause in nature 
that makes these hard hearts?' 

In short, this play is from the hand of one who thinks that 
the human affairs are of a kind to require scientific investiga- 
tion, scientific foresight and conduct. He is much of Lear's 
opinion on many points, and evidently judges that there would 
be no harm in getting a philosopher enrolled among the king's 
hundred. Not a logician, not a metaphysician, according to 
the common acceptance of these terms; not merely a natural 
philosopher, in the low and limited sense of that term, in. 
which we use it; but a man of science — one who is able, by ^> 
some method or other, to ascend to the actual principles of things, 
and so to base his remedies for the social evils, on the forms which 
are forms, which have efficacy in nature as such, instead of basing 
them on certain chimeras, or so-called logical conclusions of the 
human mind— conclusions which the logic of nature contradicts — 
conclusions to which the universal consent of things is wanting. 

Nature, in the sense in which Edmund uses that term, is not 
this poet's goddess, or his law ; though he regards ' the plague 
of CUSTOM ' and * the curiosity of nations,' and all their fan- 
tastic and arbitrary sway in human affairs, with an eye 
quite as critical — though he looks at ' that old Antic, the law,' 
as he expresses it elsewhere, with an eye quite as severe, on 
the world's behalf, as that which Edmund turns on it, on his 
own ; he is very far from contending for the freedom of that 
savage, selfish, unreclaimed, spontaneous nature, — that lawless 
nature, to which the natural son of Gloster claims 'his ser- 
vices are due.' The poet teaches that the true and successful 
Social Art is, and must be scientific. That it must be based 
on the science of nature in general, and on the science of 
human nature in particular, on a science that recognizes the 
double nature in man, that takes in, its heights as well as its 

s 2 

260 lear's philosopher. 

depths, and its depths as well as its heights, that sounds it 
* from its lowest note to the top of its key/ but it is one thing 
to quarrel with the unscientific, imperfect social arts, and it is 
another to prefer nature in man without arts. The picture of 
1 the Unaccommodated Man,' which forms so prominent a part of 
the representation here, — 'the thing itself,' stripped of its 
social lendings, or setting at nought the social restraints, is 
not by any means an attractive one, as this philosopher does it 
for us. The scientific artist is no better pleased, than the king 
is with this kind of ' nature. 1 It is the imperfection of the 
civilization which still generates, or leaves unchecked these 
savage evils, that he exposes. 

But it is impossible, that the true social arts should be smelt 
out, or stumbled on, by accident, or arrived at by any kind of 
empirical groping; just as impossible as it is, on the other 
hand, that ' the wisdom of nature,' by throwing itself on its 
own internal resources, and reasoning it ' thus and thus' with- 
out taking into account the actual forces, should be able to 
invent them. Those forces which enter into all the plot of 
our human life, unworthy of philosophic note as they had 
seemed hitherto, those terrific, unmeasured strengths, against 
which the human kind are continually dashing themselves in 
their blind experiments, — those engines on which the human 
heart is racked, ' and stretched out so long,'— those rocky 
structures on which its choicest treasures are so wildly wrecked, 
these natural forces, — no matter what artificial combinations of 
them may have been accomplished, — * the causes in nature,' 
of the phenomena of human life, appeared to this philoso- 
pher a very fitting subject for philosophy, and one quite too 
important in its relation to human well-being and the 
Arts that promote it, to be left to mere blundering experi- 
ment ; quite too subtle to be reached by any kind of empirical 
groping, quite too subtle to be entangled with the conclusions 
of the philosophy which he found in vogue in his time, whose 
social efficacies and gifts in exorcisms, he has taken leave to 
connect in some way, with the appearance of Tom o' Bedlam 
in his history; a philosophy which had built up its system in 


defiant scorn of the nature of things; as if ' by reasoning it 
thus and thus,' without any respect to the actual conditions, it 
could undertake to bridle the might of nature, and put a hook 
in the nose of her oppositions. 

It did not seem to this philosopher well, that men who have 
eyes— -eyes that are great nature's gift to them, — her gift to 
them in chief, — eyes that were meant to see with, should go on 
in this groping, star-gazing, fatally-stumbling fashion any 

Lear. [To the Bedlamite.] I do not like the fashion of your 
garments. You will say that they are — Persian: — but let them be 


262 LEAR'S philosopher. 



Brutus. How I have thought of this, and of these times, 
I shall recount hereafter. 

Hamlet. The Play 's the thing. 

Brutus. Tell us the manner of it, gentle Casca. 
Casca. I can as well be hanged as tell the manner 
of it. 

Posthumus. ' Shall's have a Play of this. — 

rpHE fact that the design of this play, whatever it may be, is 
•*■ one deep enough to go down to that place in the social sys- 
tem which Tom o' Bedlam was then peacefully occupying, — think- 
ing of anything else in the world but a social revolution on his 
behalf— to bring him up for observation; and that it is high 
enough to go up to that apex of the social structure on which 
the crown was then fastened, to fetch down the impersonated 
state itself, for an examination not less curious and critical; 
the fact, too, that it was subtle enough to penetrate the retire- 
ment of the domestic life, and bring out its innermost passages 
for scientific criticism ; — the fact that the relation of the Parent 
to the Child, and that of the Child to the Parent, the relation 
of Husband and Wife, and Sister and Brother, and Master and 
Servant, of Peasant and Lord, nay, the transient relation of 
Guest and Host, have each their place and part here, and the 
question of their duty marked not less clearly, than that pro- 
minent relation of the King and his Subjects; — the fact that 
these relations come in from the first, along with the political, 
and demand a hearing, and divide throughout the stage with 
them; the fact of the mere range of this social criticism, as it 
appears on the surface of the play, in these so prominent 
points, — is enough to show already, that it is a Radical of no 
ordinary kind, who is at work behind this drop-scene. 


It was evident, at a glance, that this so extensive bill of 
grievances was not one which any immediate or violent poli- 
tical revolution, or any social reformation which was then in 
contemplation, would be able to meet; and that very circum- 
stance gave to the whole essay its profoundly quiet, conserva- 
tive air. It passed only for one of those common outcries on 
the ills of human life, which men in general are expected, or 
permitted to make, according to their several abilities; one of 
those ' Alacks!' — * why does he so'? which, by relieving the 
mind of the complainant, tend to keep things quiet on the 
whole. This Poet, whoever he was, was making rather more 
ado about it than usual, apparently : but Poets are useful for 
that very purpose; they express other men's emotions for 
them, in a higher key than they could manage it themselves. 

It was the breadth then, — the philosophic comprehension 
of this great philosophic design, which made it possible for 
the Poet to introduce into it, and exhibit in it, so glaringly, 
those evils of his time that were crying out to Heaven then, 
for redress, and could not wait for philosophic revolutions and 

Tom o' Bedlam, strictly speaking, does appear, indeed, to 
have been one of those Elizabethan institutions which were 
modified or annulled, in the course of the political changes 
that so soon followed this exhibition of his case. * Tom ' 
himself, in his own proper person, appears to have been left — 
by accident or otherwise — on the other side of the Revolution- 
ary gulf. * I remember,' says Aubrey, ' before the civil wars, 
Tom o' Bedlams went about begging/ etc. — but one cannot 
help remarking that a very numerous family connection of the 
collateral branches of his house — bearing, on the whole, a 
sufficiently striking family resemblance to this illustrious sub- 
ject of the Poet's pencil, — appear to have got safely over all 
the political and social gulfs that intervene between our time 
and that. And, as to some of those other social evils which 
are exhibited here in their ideal proportions, they are not, 
perhaps, so entirely among the former things which have 
passed away with our reformations, that we should have to go 

264 LEAR'S philosophek. 

to Aubrey's note book to find out what the Poet means. As 
to some of these, at least, it will not be necessary to hunt up 
an antiquary, who can remember whether any such thing ever 
was really in existence here, ( before the civil vjarsJ And, not- 
withstanding all our advancements in Natural Science, and in 
the Arts which attend these advancements ; notwithstanding 
the strong recommendations of the inventors of this Science, — 
Eegan's heart, and that which breeds about it, appear, by a 
singular oversight, to have escaped, hitherto, any truly scien- 
tific inquiry; and the arts for improving it do not appear, 
after all, to have been very materially advanced since the 
time when this order was issued. 

But notwithstanding that the subject of this piece appears 
to be so general, — notwithstanding the fact, that the social 
evils which are here represented include, apparently, the 
universal human conditions, and include evils which are still 
understood to be inherent in the nature of man, and, irre- 
claimable, or not, at least a subject for Art, — and notwith- 
standing the fact that this exhibition professes to borrow all 
its local hues and exaggerations from the barbaric times of 
the Ancient Britons — it is not very difficult to perceive that 
it does, in fact, involve a local exhibition of a different kind ; 
and that, under the cover of that great revolution in the 
human estate, which the philosophic mind was then meditating, 
— so broad, that none could perceive its project, — another 
revolution, — that revolution which was then so near at hand, 
was clearly outlined; and that this revolution, too, is, after 
all, one towards which this Poet appears to ' incline] in a 
manner which would not have seemed, perhaps, altogether 
consistent with his position and assumptions elsewhere, if these 
could have been produced here against him ; and in a manner, 
perhaps, somewhat more decided than the general philosophic 
tone, and the spirit of those large and peaceful designs to 
which he was chiefly devoted, might have led us to anticipate. 
This Play was evidently written at a time when the convic- 
tion that the state of things which it represents could not 
endure much longer, had taken deep hold of the Poet's mind ; 


at a time when those evils had attained a height so unendura- 
ble, — when that evil which lay at the heart of the commonweal, 
poisoning all the social relations with its infection, had grown 
so fearful, that it might well seem, even to the scientific mind, 
to require the fierce ? drug* of the political revolution, — so 
fearful as to make, even to such a mind, the rude surgery of 
the civil wars at last welcome. 

For, indeed, it cannot be denied that the state of things 
which this Play represents, is that with which the author's 
own experience was conversant; and that all the terrible tragic 
satire of it, points — not to that age in the history of Britain 
in which the Druids were still responsible for the national 
culture, — not to that time when the Celtic Triads, clothed 
with the sanctities of an unknown past, still made the standard 
works and authorities in learning, beyond which there was no 
going, — not to the time when the national morality was still 
mystically produced at Stonehenge, in those national colleges, 
from whose mysterious rites the awful sanctities of the oak 
and the mistletoe drove back in confusion the sacrilegious 
inquirer, —not to that time, but to the Elizabethan. 

That instinctive groping and stumbling in all human 
affairs, that pursuit of human ends without any science of 
the natures to be superinduced, and without any science of 
the natures that were to be subjected, — those eyes of moon- 
shine speculation, those glass eyes with which the scurvy 
politician affects to see the things he does not — those thou- 
sand noses that serve for eyes, and horns welked and waved 
like the enridged sea, and all the wild misery of that unlearned 
fortuitous human living, that waits to be scourged with the 

sequent effect, and knows not how to ascend to the cause 

colossally exaggerated as it seems here — heightened every- 
where, as if the Poet had put forth his whole power, and 
strained his imagination, and availed himself of his utmost 
poetic license, to give it, through all its details, its last con- 
ceivable hue of violence, its pure ideal shape, is, after all, but 
a copy, an historical sketch. The ignorance, the stupidity, 
« the blindness; that this author paints, was his own * Time's 

266 leak's philosopher. 

plague'; ' the madness' that ' led it,' was the madness of which 
he was himself a mute and manacled spectator. 

By some singular oversight or caprice of tyranny, or on 
account of some fastidious scruple of the imagination perhaps, 
it does not appear, indeed, to have been the fashion, either^ in 
the reigns of the Tudors or the Stuarts, to pluck out the living 
human eye as Gloster's eyes were plucked out; and that of 
itself would have furnished a reason why this poor duke 
should have been compelled to submit to that particular opera- 
tion, instead of presenting himself to have his ears cut off in a 
sober, decent, civilized, Christian manner; or to have them 
grubbed out, if it happened that the operation had been once 
performed already; or to have his hand cut off, or his head, 
with his eyes in it; or to be roasted alive some noon-day in the 
public square, eyes and all, as many an honest gentleman was 
expected to present himself in those times, without making any 
particular demur or fuss about it. These were operations that 
Englishmen of every rank and profession, soldiers, scholars, 
poets, philosophers, lawyers, physicians, and grave and reverend 
divines, were called on to undergo in those times, and for that 
identical offence of which the Duke of Gloster stood convict- 
ed, opposition to the will of a lawless usurping tyranny, — 
to its merest caprice of vanity or humour, perhaps, —or on 
grounds slighter still, on bare suspicion of a disposition to 
oppose it. 

But then that, of course, was a thing of custom; so much 
so, that the victims themselves often took it in good part, and 
submitted to it as a divine institution, part of a sacred legacy, 
handed down to them, as it was understood, from their more 
enlightened ancestors. 

Now, if the Poet, in pursuance of his more general philo- 
sophic intention, which involved a moving representation of 
the helplessness of the Social Monad — that bodily as well as 
moral susceptibility and fragility, which leaves him open to all 
kinds of personal injury, not from the elements and from 
animals of other species merely or chiefly, but chiefly from his 
own kind, — if the Poet, in the course of this exhibition, had 


caused poor Gloster to be held down in his chair on the stage, 
for the purpose of having his ears pared off, what kind of sen- 
sation could he hope to produce with that on the sensibility of 
an audience, who might have understood without a commen- 
tator an allusion to 'the tribulation of Tower Hill' — spectators 
accustomed to witness performances so much more thrilling, 
and on a stage where the Play was in earnest. And as to 
that second operation before referred to, which might have 
answered the poetic purpose, perhaps; who knows whether 
that may not have been a refinement in civilization peculiar 
to the reign of that amiable and handsome Christian Prince, 
who was still a minor when this Play was first brought out at 
Whitehall ? for it was in his reign that that memorable in- 
stance of it occurred, which the subsequent events connected 
with it chanced to make so notorious. It was a learned and 
very conscientious lawyer, in the reign of Charles the First, 
whose criticism upon some of the fashionable amusements of 
the day, which certain members of the royal family were 
known to be fond of, occasioned the suggestion of this mode 
of satisfying the outraged Majesty of the State, when the 
prying eye of Government discovered, or thought it did, 
remains enough of those previously-condemned appendages on 
this author's person, to furnish material for a second operation. 
1 Methinks Mr. Prynne hath ears !' does not, after all, sound so 
very different from — ' going to pluck out Gloster's other eye,' 
as that the governments under which these two speeches are 
reported, need to be distinguished, on that account only, by 
any such essential difference as that which is supposed to exist 
between the human and divine. Both these operations appear, 
indeed to the unprejudiced human mind, to savour somewhat 
of the diabolical — or of the Dark Ages, rather, and of the 
Prince of Darkness. And, indeed, that 'fiend 3 which haunts 
the Play — which the monster, with his moonshine eyes, ap- 
peared to have a vague idea of — seems to have been as busy 
here, in this department, as he was in bringing about poor 
Tom's distresses. 

But in that steady persevering exhibition of the liabilities 

268 leak's philosopher. 

of individual human nature, the common liabilities which 
throw it upon the COMMON, the distinctive law of humanity, 
for its weal — in that continuous picture of the suffering, 
and ignominy, and mutilation to which it is liable, moral and 
intellectual, as well as physical, where that law of humanity is 
not yet scientifically developed and scientifically sustained — 
the Poet does not always go quite so far to find his details. 
It is not from the Celtic Kegan's time that he brings out those 
ancient implements of state authority into which the feet of 
the poor Duke of Kent, travelling on the king's errands, are 
ignominiously thrust; while the Poet, under cover of the 
Fool's jests, shows prettily their relation to the human 


But then it is a Duke on whom this indignity is practised; 
for it is to be remarked, in passing, that though this Poet is 
evidently bent on making his exhibition a thorough one, 
though he is determined not to leave out anything of im- 
portance in his diagrams, he does not appear inclined to soil 
his fingers by meddling with the lower orders, or to counte- 
nance any innovation in his art in that respect. Whenever 
he has occasion to introduce persons of this class into his 
pieces, they come in and go out, and perform their part in his 
scene, very much as they do elsewhere in his time. Even 
when his Players come in, they do not speak many words on 
their own behalf. They stand civilly, and answer questions, 
and take their orders, and fulfil them. That is all that is 
looked for at their hands. For this is not a Poet who has 
ever given any one occasion in his own time, to distinguish 
him as the Poet of the People. It is always from the 
highest social point of observation that he takes those 
views of the lower ranks, which he has occasion to introduce 
into his Plays, from the mobs of ' greasy citizens' to the de- 
tails of the sheep-shearing feast; and even in Eastcheap 
he keeps it still. 

There never was a more aristocratic poet apparently, and 
though the very basest form of outcast misery 'that ever 
penury in contempt of man brought near to beast,' though the 


basest and most ignoble and pitiful human liabilities, are every 
where included in his plan; he will have nothing but the rich 
blood of dukes and kings to take him through with it — he 
will have nothing lower and less illustrious than these to play 
his parts for him. 

It is a king to whom ' the Farm House? where both fire and 
food are waiting, becomes a royal luxury on his return from 
the HoveVs door, brought in chattering out of the tempest, in 
that pitiful stage of human want, which had made him ready 
to share with Tom o' Bedlam, nay, with the swine, their rude 
comforts. 'Art cold? I am cold myself. Where is this 
straw, my fellow. Your hovel'. — come bring us to your 

It is a king who gets an ague in the storm, who finds the 
tyranny of the night too rough for nature to endure; it is a king 
on whose desolate outcast head, destitution and social wrongs 
accumulate their results, till his wits begin to turn, till his 
mind is shattered, and he comes on to the stage at last, a poor 

Nay, ' Tom' himself, is a duke's son, ws are told; though 
that circumstance does not hinder him from giving, with much 
frankness and scientific accuracy, the particulars of those per- 
sonal pursuits, and tastes, and habits, incidental to that par- 
ticular station in life to which it has pleased Providence to call 

And so by means of that poetic order, which is the Provi- 
dence of this piece, and that design which ' tunes the harmony 
of it,' it is a duke on whom that low correction, f such as 
basest and most contemned wretches are punished with,' is 
exhibited, in spite of his indignant protest. 

Kent. Call not your stocks for me. I serve the king, 

On whose employment I was sent to you. 

You shall do small respect, show too bold malice 

Against the grace and person of my master, 

Stocking his messenger. 
Cornwall. Fetch forth the stocks. 

As I have life and honour, there shall he sit till noon.' 
Regan. Till noon, — till night my lord, and all night too. 

270 leak's philosopher. 

[In vain the prudent and loyal Gloster remonstrates] 
— The king must take it ill 
That he, so slightly valued in his messenger, 
Should have him thus restrained. 
Cornwall I'll answer that. 

Regan. Put in his legs. 

But then it must be confessed that the poet was not without 
some kind of precedent for this bold dramatic proceeding. 
He had, indeed, by means of the culture and diligent use of 
that gift of forethought, with which nature had so largely en- 
dowed him, been enabled thus far to keep his own person free 
from any such tangible encumbrance, though the 'lameness 9 with 
which fortune had afflicted him personally, is always his personal 
grievance; but he had seen in his own time, ancient men and 
reverend,— men who claimed to be the ministers of heaven, 
and travelling on its errands, arrested, and subjected to this 
ludicrous indignity: he had seen this open stop, this palpable, 
corporeal, unfigurative arrest put upon the activity of scholars 
and thinkers in his time, conscientious men, between whose 
master and the state, there was a growing quarrel then, a 
quarrel that these proceedings were not likely to pacify. From 
noon till night, they, too, had sat thus, and all night too, they 
had endured that shameful lodging. 

'When a man is over lusty at legs,' says the Fool, who 
arrives in time to put in an observation or two on this topic, 
and who seems disposed to look at it from a critical point of 
view, concluding with the practical improvement of the subject, 
already quoted — 'When a man is over lusty at legs '— (when 
his will, or his higher intelligence, perhaps, is allowed to 
govern them too freely,) 'he wears wooden nether stocks,' or 
4 cruel garters,' as he calls them again, by way of bestowing on 
this institution of his ancestors as much variety of poetic 
imagery as the subject will admit of. ' Horses are tied by the 
head, dogs and bears by the neck, monkeys by the loins, and 
men by the legs'; and having ransacked his memory to such 
good purpose, and produced such a pile of learned precedents, 
he appears disposed to rest the case with these; for it is a part 


of the play to get man into his place in the scale of nature, 
and to draw the line between him and the brutes, if there be 
any such thing possible ; and the Fool seems to be particularly 
inclined to assist the author in this process, though when we 
last heard of him he was, indeed, proposing to send the prin- 
cipal man of his time ' to school to an ant,' to improve his 
sagacity; intimating, also, that another department of natural 
science, even conchology itself, might furnish him with some 
rather more prudent and fortunate suggestions than those 
which his own brain had appeared to generate ; and it is to be 
remarked, that in his views on this point, as on some others of 
importance, he has the happiness to agree remarkably with 
that illustrious yoke-fellow of his in philosophy, who was just 
then turning his attention to the ' practic part of life' and its 
1 theoric,' and who indulges himself in some satires on this point 
not any less severe, though his pleasantries are somewhat more 
covert. But the philosopher on this occasion, having pro- 
duced such a variety of precedents from natural history, 
appears to be satisfied with the propriety and justice of the 
proceeding, inasmuch as beasts and men seem to be treated 
with impartial consideration in it; and though a certain dis- 
tinction of form appears to obtain according to the species, the 
main fact is throughout identical. 

* Then comes the time,' he says, in winding up that knotted 
skein of prophecy, which he leaves for Merlin to disentangle, for 
* he lives before his time,' as he takes that opportunity to tell us — 
' Then comes the time, who lives to see't, 
That going shall be used with feet. 1 

Yes, it is a duke who is put in the stocks ; it is a duke's son 
who plays the bedlamite; it is a king who finds the hoveFs 
shelter * precious ' ; and it is a queen — it is a king's wife, and 
a daughter of kings — who is hanged; nay more, it is Cordelia 
— it is Cordelia, and none other, whom this inexorable Poet, 
primed with mischief, bent on outrage, determined to turn out 
the heart of his time, and show, in the selectest form, the inmost 
lining of its lurking humanities — it is Cordelia whom he will 
hang. And we forgive him still, and bear with him in all 


these assaults on our taste — in all these thick-coming blows 
on our outraged sensibilities; we forgive him when at last the 
poetic design flashes on us, — when we come to understand the 
providence of this piece, at least, — when we come to see at 
last that there is a meaning in it all, a meaning deep enough 
to justify even this procedure. 

' We are not the first who, with the best meaning, have in- 
curred the worst? says the captive queen herself; nor was she 
the last of that good company, as the Poet himself might have 
testified ; — 

Upon such sacrifices the gods themselves throw incense. 

We forgive the Poet here, as we forgive him in all these 
other pitiful and revolting exhibitions, because we know that 
he who would undertake the time's cure — he who would un- 
dertake the relief of the human estate in any age, must probe 
its evil — must reach, no matter what it costs, its deadliest 

And in that age, there was no voice which could afford to 
lack ' the courtier's glib and oily art.' ' Hanging was the word ' 
then, for the qualities of which this princess was the imper- 
sonation, or almost the impersonation, so predominant were 
they in her poetic constitution. There was no voice, gentle and 
low enough, to speak outright such truth as hers; and ' banish- 
ment' and 'the stocks' would have been only too mild a remedy 
for ' the plainness ' to which Kent declares, even to the teeth 
of majesty, ' honour's bound, when majesty stoops to folly.' 

The kind, considerate Gloster, with all his loyalty to the 
powers which are able to show the divine right of possession, 
and with all his disposition to conform to the times, is greatly 
distressed and perplexed with the outrages which are perpe- 
trated, as it were, under his own immediate sanction and 
authority. He has a hard struggle to reconcile his duty as 
the subject of a state which he is not prepared to overthrow, 
with his humane impulses and designs. He goes pattering 
about for a time, remonstrating, and apologizing, and trying 
' to smooth down,' and ' hush up,' and mollify, and keep peace 


between the offending parties. He stands between the blunt, 
straightforward manliness of the honest Kent on the one hand, 
and the sycophantic servility and self-abnegation, which knows 
no will but the master's, as represented by the Steward, on 
the other. 

' I am sorry for thee,' he says to Kent, after having sought 
in vain to prevent this outrage from being perpetrated in his 
own court — 

'I am sorry for thee, friend : tis the duke's pleasure, 
Whose disposition all the world well knows, 
Will not be rubbed or stopped 7 — 

as he found to his cost, poor man, when he came to have his 
own eyes gouged out by it. He ' saw it feelingly ' then, as he 
remarked himself. 

* I'll entreat for thee/ he continues, in his conversation with 
the disguised duke in the stocks. ' The duke 's to blame in 
this. 'Twill be ill taken? 

And when the king, on his arrival, kept waiting in the 
court, in his agony of indignation and grief, is told that 
Regan and Cornwall are ' sick/ * they are weary/ ' they have 
travelled hard to-night/ denounces these subterfuges, and bids 
Gloster fetch him a better answer, this is the worthy man's 
reply to him — 

1 My dear lord, 

You know the fiery quality of the duke, 

How unremovable and fixed he is 

In his own course.' 

But Lear, who has never had any but a subjective acquaint- 
ance hitherto with reasons of that kind, does not appear able 
to understand them from this point of view — 

Lear. Vengeance ! plague ! death ! confusion ! 

Fiery ? — what quality ? Why Gloster, Gloster, 
I'd speak with the Duke of Cornwall and his wife. 

Gloster. Well, my good lord, I have informed them so. 

Lear. Informed them 1 Dost thou understand me ? 

Gloster. Ay, my good lord. 

But though Gloster is not yet ready to break with tyranny, 


274 lear's philosopher. 

it is not difficult to see which way he secretly inclines; and 
though he still manages his impulses cautiously, and contrives 
to succour the oppressed king by stealth, his courage rises 
with the emergency, and grows bold with provocation. For 
he is himself one of the finer and finest proofs of the times 
which the Poet represents; one, however, which he keeps 
back a little, for the study of those who look at his work most 
carefully. This man stands here in the general, indeed, as the 
representative of a class of men who do not belong exclusively 
to this particular time — men who do not stand ready, as Kent 
and his class do, to fly in the face of tyranny at the first pro- 
vocation ; they are not the kind of men who ' make mouths,' 
as Hamlet says, ' at the invisible event;' — they are the kind 
who know beforehand that to break with the powers that are, 
single-handed, is to sit on the stage and have your eyes gouged 
out, or to undergo some process of mutilation and disfigure- 
ment, not the less painful and oppressive, by this Poet's own 
showing, because it does not happen, perhaps, to be a physical 
one, and not the less calculated, on that account, to impair 
one's usefulness to one's species, it may be. 

But besides that more general bearing of the representation, 
the part and disposition of Gloster afford us from time to time, 
glimpses of persons and things which connect the representa- 
tion more directly with the particular point here noted. Men 
who found themselves compelled to occupy a not less equivocal 
position in the state, look through it a little now and then; and 
here, as in other parts of the play, it only wants the right key 
to bring out suppressed historical passages, and a finer history 
generally, than the chronicles of the times were able to take 

' Alack, alack, Edmund,' says Gloster to his natural son, 
making him the confidant of his nobler nature, putting what 
was then the perilous secret of his humanity, into the danger- 
ous keeping of the base-born one — for this is the Poet's own 
interpretation of his plot; though Lear is allowed to intimate 
on his behalf, that the loves and relations which are recognised 
and good in courts of justice, are not always secured by that 


sanction from similar misfortune; that they are not secured 
by that from those penalties which great Nature herself awards 
in those courts in which her institutes are vindicated. 

' Alack, alack, Edmund, I like not this unnatural dealing ! "When 
I desired their leave that 1 might pity him, they took from me the use of 
mine own house, and charged me on pain of their perpetual displeasure, 
neither to speak of him, entreat for him, nor in any way to sustain him.'' 

1 JiJdmund. Most savage and unnatural.* 
1 Gloster. Go to, say you nothing.' 

[And say you nothing, my cotemporary reader, if you per- 
ceive that this is one of those passages I have spoken of else- 
where, which carries with it another application besides that 
which I put it to]. 

' There is division between the dukes — and a worse matter than that: 
I have received a letter this night, — 'tis dangerous to be spoken ; — 
I have locked the letter in my closet : these injuries the king now bears, 
will be revenged at home' [softly — say you nothing]. \ There is part 
of a power already footed : we must incline to the king. I will seek 
him and privily relieve him. Go you and maintain talk with the duke, 
that my charity be not of him perceived. If he ask for me, I am ill, 
and gone to bed. If I die for it, — as no less is threatened me, — the 
king, my old master — must be relieved. There is some strange thing 
toward, Edmund. Pray you be careful.' 

Even Edmund himself professes to be not altogether with- 
out some experience of the perplexity which the claims of 
apparently clashing duties, and relations in such a time creates, 
though he seems to have found an easy method of disposing of 
these questions. Nature is his goddess and his law (that is, 
as he uses the term, the baser nature, the degenerate, which is 
not nature for man, which is unnatural for the human kind), 
and in his own ' rat'-like fashion, * he bites the holy cords 

1 How, my lord,' he says, in the act of betraying his father's 
secret to the Duke of Cornwall, in the hope of 'drawing to 
himself what his father loses* — ' how I may be censured that 
NATURE, thus gives way to loyalty, something fears me to 
think of. 9 And again, ' I will persevere in my course of loyalty, 
though the conflict be sore between that and my blood. 9 

T 2 

276 leak's philosopher. 

1 Know thou this, 1 he says afterwards, to the officer whom he 
employs to hang Cordelia, ' that men are as the time is. 
Thy great employment will not bear question. About it, I 
say, instantly, and carry it so as I have set it down/ ' I can- 
not draw a cart, nor eat dried oats,' is the officer's reply, who 
appears to be also in the poet's secret, and ready to aid his 
intention of carrying out the distinction between the human 
kind and the brute, ' I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried oats; 
— if it be man's work I will do it/ 

But it is the steward's part, as deliberately explained by 
Kent himself, which furnishes in detail the ideal antagonism 
of that which Kent sustains in the piece; for beside those 
active demonstrations of his disgust, which the poetic order 
tolerates in him, though some of the powers within appear to 
take such violent offence at it, besides these tangible demon- 
strations, and that elaborate criticism, which the poet puts 
into his mouth, in which the steward is openly treated as the 
representative of a class, who seem to the poet apparently, to 
require some treatment in his time, Kent himself is made to 
notice distinctly this literally striking opposition. 

' No contraries hold more antipathy than I, and such a 
knave,' he says to Cornwall, by way of explaining his appa- 
rently gratuitous attack upon the steward. 

No one, indeed, who reads the play with any care, can 
doubt the poet's intention to incorporate into it, for some 
reason or other, and to bring out by the strongest conceivable 
contrasts, his study of loyalty and service, and especially of 
regal counsel, and his criticism of it, as it stood in his time m 
its most approved patterns. * Such smiling rouges as these' 
(' that bite the holy cords atwain'). 

i Smooth every passion 
That in the nature of their lord rebels ; 
Bring oil to fire, snow to their colder moods ; 
Kevenge, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks 
With every gale and vary of their masters, 
As knowing nought like dogs but — following! 

Such rouges as this would not, of course, be wanting in 



such a time as that in which this piece was planned, if 
Edmund's word was, indeed, the true one. ' Know thou this, 
men are as the time is.' 

And even amidst the excitement and rough outrage of that 
scene — in which Gloster's trial is so summarily conducted, 
even in that so rude scene — the relation between the guest 
and his host, and the relation of the slave to his owner, is 
delicately and studiously touched, and the human claim in 
both is boldly advanced, in the face of an absolute authority, 
and age and personal dignity put in their claims also, and 
demand, even at such a moment, their full rights of reverence. 







[Re-enter servants with Gloster.] 
Ingrateful fox ! 'tis he. 
Bind fast his corky arms. 

What mean your graces 1 Good my friends, consider 

You are my guests : do me no foul play, friends. 
Bind him, I say. 

Hard, hard : — filthy traitor ! 
Unmerciful lady as you are, I am none. 
To this chair bind him : — Villain, thou shalt find — 

[Regan plucks his beard]. 
By the kind gods [for these are the gods, whose ' Com- 
mission' is sitting here] 'tis most ignobly done, 
To pluck me by the beard. 
So white, and such a traitor ! 

Naughty lady, 
These hairs, which thou dost ravish from my chin, 
Will quicken and accuse thee. 

/ am your host : 
With robber hands, my hospitable favours 
You should not ruffle thus. * * * 

Tied to the stake, questioned and cross-questioned, and in- 
sulted, finally, beyond even his faculty of endurance, he breaks 
forth, at last, in strains of indignation that overleap all arbi- 
trary and conventional bounds, that are only the more terrible 
for having been so long suppressed. Kent himself, when he 
{ came between the dragon and his wrath/ was not so fierce. 

278 LEAR'S philosopher. 

Cornwall. Where hast thou sent the king 1 
Gloster. To Dover. 
Regan. Wherefore 

To Dover, was't thou not charged at peril ? — 
Cornwall. Wherefore to Dover ? Let him first answer that. 
Regan. Wherefore to Dover ? 
Gloster. Because I would not see thy cruel nails 

Pluck out his poor old eyes, nor thy fierce sister 

In his anointed flesh stick boarish fangs. 

* * * * 

Regan. One side will mock another ; the other too. 
Cornwall. If you ' see vengeance.' 
Servant. Hold your hand, my lord : 

I have served you ever since 1 was a child ; 

But better service have I never done you, 

Than now to bid you hold. 
Regan. How now, you dog ? 

Servant. If you did wear a beard upon your chin, 

I'd shake it on this quarrel : What do you mean ? 
[Arbitrary power called to an account, requested to explain itself.'] 
Cornwall. My villain ! 
Regan. A peasant stand up thus ? 

Thus too, indeed, in that rude scene above referred to, in 
which the king finds his messenger in the stocks, and Regan's 
door, too, shut against him, the same ground of criticism had 
already been revealed, the same delicacy and rigour in the 
exactions had already betrayed the depth of the poetic design, 
and the real comprehension of that law, whose violations are 
depicted here, the scientific law, the scientific sovereignty, the 
law of universal nature; commanding, in the human, that 
specific human excellence, for the degenerate movement is in 
violation of nature, that is not nature but her profanation and 

This is one of those passages, however, which admit, as the 
modern reader will more easily observe than the contemporary 
of the Poet was likely to of a second reading. 

Goneril. Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance 
From those that she calls servants, or from mine 1 
* # * * 

What need you five-and-twenty, ten, or five, 
Ho follow in a house, where twice so many 
Have a command to tend you ? 


Regan. What need one ? 

Lear. O reason not the need : our basest beggars 
Are in the poorest things superfluous. 

[Poor Tom must have his * rubans.'] 
Allow not nature more than nature needs, 
Man's life were cheap as beasts [and that 's not ?iature]. 
Thou art a lady ; 

If only to go warm were gorgeous, 
Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear'st, 
Which scarcely keeps thee warm. — But, for true need, 
You heavens, give me that patience. — Patience I need. 

It is, indeed, the doctrine of the * true need ' that is lurking 
here, and all that puts man into his true place and relations in 
the creative order, whether of submission or control is included 
in it. It is the doctrine of the natural human need, and the 
natural ground and limits of the arts, for which nature has 
endowed man beforehand, with a faculty and a sentiment 
corresponding in grandeur to his need, — large as he is little, 
noble as he is mean, powerful as he is helpless, felicitous as he 
is wretched; the faculty and the sentiment whereby the want 
of man becomes the measure of his wealth and grandeur, — 
whereby his conscious lowness becomes the means of his ascent 
to his ideal type in nature, and to the scientific perfection of 
his form. 

And this whole social picture, — rude, savage as it is, — 
savage as it shews when its sharp outline falls on that fair 
ideal ground of criticism which the doctrine of a scientific 
civilization creates, — is but the Poet's report of the progress 
of human development as it stood in his time, and of the 
gain that it had made on savage instinct then. It is his report 
of the social institutions of his time, as he found them on his 
map of human advancement. It is his report of the wild 
social misery that was crying underneath them, with its 
burthen of new advancements. It is the Poet's Apology for 
his new doctrine of human living, which he is going to 
publish, and leave on the earth, for ' the times that are far off.' 
It is the negative, which is the first step towards that affirma- 
tion, which he is going to establish on the earth for ever, or so 

2 8o LEAR'S philosopher. 

long as the species, whose law he has found, endures on it. 
Down to its most revolting, most atrocious detail, it is still 
the Elizabethan civility that is painted here. Even Goneril's 
unscrupulous mode of disposing of her rival sister, though 
that was the kind of murder which was then regarded with the 
profoundest disgust and horror— (the queen in Cymbeline ex- 
presses that vivid sentiment, when she says: ' If Pisanio have 
given his mistress that confection which I gave him for a cor- 
dial, she is served as I would serve a rat ')— even as to that we 
all know what a king's favourite felt himself competent to un- 
dertake then; and, if the clearest intimations of such men as 
Bacon, and Coke, and Raleigh, on such a question, are of any 
worth, the household of James the First was not without a 
parallel even for that performance, if not when this play was 
written, when it was published. 

It is all one picture of social ignorance, and misery, and 
frantic misrule. It is a faithful exhibition of the degree of 
personal security which a man of honourable sentiments, and 
humane and noble intentions, could promise himself in such a 
time. It shows what chance there was of any man being 
permitted to sustain an honourable and intelligent part in the 
world, in an age in which all the radical social arts were yet 
wanting, in which the rude institutions of an ignorant past 
spontaneously built up, without any science of the natural 
laws, were vainly seeking to curb and quench the Incarnate 
soul of new ages, — the spirit of a scientific human advance- 
ment; and, when all the common welfare was still openly 
intrusted to the unchecked caprice and passion of one selfish, 
pitiful, narrow, low-minded man. 

To appreciate fully the incidental and immediate political 
application of the piece, however, it is necessary to observe 
that notwithstanding that studious exhibition of lawless and 
outrageous power, which it involves, it is, after all, we are 
given to understand, by a quiet intimation here and there, a 
limited monarchy which is put upon the stage here. It is a 
constitutional government, very much in the Elizabethan stage 
of development, as it would seem, which these arbitrary rulers 


affect to be administering. It is a government which professes 
to be one of law, under which the atrocities of this piece are 

And one may even note, in passing, that that high Judicial 
Court, in which poor Lear undertakes to get his cause tried, 
appears to have, somehow, an extremely modern air, consider- 
ing what age of the British history it was, in which it was 
supposed to be constituted, and considering that one of the 
wigs appointed to that Bench had to leave his speech behind 
him for Merlin to make, in consequence of living before his 
time : at all events it is already tinctured with some of the more 
•notorious Elizabethan vices — vices which onr Poet, not content 
with this exposition, contrived to get exposed in another 
manner, and to some purpose, ere all was done. 

Lear. It shall be done, I will arraign them straight ! 
Come, sit thou here, most learned Justice. 

[To the Bedlamite.] 
Thou, sapient Sir, sit here. [ To the Fool]. 

And again,- — 

I'll see their trial first. Bring in the evidence. 
Thou robed man of justice take thy place. 

[To Tom o' Bedlam]. 
And thou, his yokefellow of equity bench by his side. 

To the Fool]. 
You are of ' the Commission ' — sit you too. 

[To Kent]. 

Truly it was a bold wit that could undertake to constitute 
that bench on the stage, and fill it with those speaking forms, 
— speaking to the eye the unmistakeable significance, for these 
judges, two of them, happened to be on the spot in full cos- 
tume, — and as to the third, he was of ' the commission. 7 ' Sit 
you, too.' Truly it was a bold instructor that could under- 
take f to facilitate' the demonstration of ' the more chosen 
subjects/ with the aid of diagrams of this kind. 

Arms ! Arms ! Sword, fire ! Corruption in the place ! 
False justicer, why hast thou let her scape 1 

The tongues of these ancient sovereigns of Britain, ' tang ' 

282 leak's philosopher. 

throughout with Elizabethan ' arguments of state/ and even 
Goneril, in her somewhat severe proceedings against her father, 
justifies her course in a very grave and excellent speech, en- 
riched with the choicest phrases of that particular order of 
state eloquence, in which majesty stoops graciously to a recog- 
nition of the subject nation; — a speech from which we gather 
that the ' tender of a wholesome weal ' is, on the whole, the 
thing which she has at heart most deeply, and though the 
proceeding in question is a painful one to her feelings, a state 
necessity appears to prescribe it, or at least, render it ' discreet. 1 
Even in Gloster's case, though the process to which he is 
subjected, is, confessedly, an extemporaneous one, it appears 
from the Duke of Cornwall's statement, that it was only the 
form which was wanting to make it legal. Thus he apologizes 
for it. — 

Though well we may not pass upon his life 
Without the form of justice, yet our power 
Shall do a courtesy to our wrath, which men 
May blame, but not control. 

Goneril, however, grows bolder at the last, and says out- 
right, * Say if I do, the laws are mine NOT thine.' But it is 
the law which is thine and mine, it is the law which is for Tom 
o' Bedlam and for thee, that great nature speaking at last 
through her interpreter, and explaining all this wild scene, will 
have vindicated. 

Most MONSTROUS, exclaims her illustrious consort ;but at 
the close of the play, where so much of the meaning some- 
times comes out in a word, he himself concedes that the 
government which has just devolved upon him is an absolute 

' For us,' he says, ' AVE will resign, during the life of this 
old Majesty, our absolute power.' 

So that there seems to have been, in fact, — in the minds, too, 
of persons who ought, one would say, to have been best in- 
formed on this subject, — just that vague, uncertain, contradic- 
tory view of this important question, which appears to have 
obtained in the English state, during the period in which the 

THE PLAY. 283 

material of this poetic criticism was getting slowly accumu- 
lated. But of course this play, so full of the consequences of 
arbitrary power, so full of Elizabethan politics, with its ' ear- 
kissing arguments,' could not well end, till that word, too, 
had been spoken outright; and, in the Duke of Albany's resig- 
nation, it slips in at last so quietly, so properly, that no one 
perceives that it is not there by accident. 

This, then, is what the play contains; but those that follow 
the story and the superficial plot only, must, of course, lose 
track of the interior identities. It does not occur to these that 
the Poet is occupied with principles, and that the change of 
persons does not, in the least, confound his pursuit of them. 

The fact that tyranny is in one act, or in one scene, repre- 
sented by Lear, and in the next by his daughters; — the fact 
that the king and the father is in one act the tyrant, and in 
another, the victim of tyranny, is quite enough to confound 
the criticism to which a work of mere amusement is subjected; 
for it serves to disguise the philosophic purport, by dividing it 
on the surface : and the dangerous passages are all opposed and 
neutralised, for those who look at it only as a piece of drama- 
tized, poetic history. 

For this is a philosopher who prefers to handle his principles 
in their natural, historical combinations, in those modified 
unions of opposites, those complex wholes, which nature so 
stedfastly inclines to, instead of exhibiting them scientifically 
bottled up and labelled, in a state of fierce chemical abstrac- 

His characters are not like the characters in the old ■ Moral- 
ities,' which he found on the stage when he first began to turn 
his attention to it, mere impersonations of certain vague, loose, 
popular notions. Those sickly, meagre forms would not 
answer his purpose. It was necessary that the actors in the 
New Moralities he was getting up so quietly, should have 
some speculation in their eyes, some blood in their veins, a 
kind of blood that had never got manufactured in the Poet's 
laboratory till then. His characters, no matter how strong the 
predominating trait, though ' the conspicuous instance ' of it be 

2 8 4 LEAR'S philosopher. 

selected, have all the rich quality, the tempered and subtle 
power of nature's own compositions. The expectation, the 
interest, the surprise of life and history, waits, with its charm, 
on all their speech and doing. 

The whole play tells, indeed, its own story, and scarcely 
needs interpreting, when once the spectator has gained the 
true dramatic stand-point; when once he understands that 
there is a teacher here,— a new one,— one who will not under- 
take to work with the instrumentalities that his time offered to 
him, who begins by rejecting the abstractions which lie at the 
foundation of all the learning of his time, which are not 
scientific, but vague, loose, popular notions, that have 
been collected without art, or scientific rule of rejection, and 
are, therefore, inefficacious in nature, and unavailable for ' the 
art and practic part of life;' a teacher who will build up his 
philosophy anew, from the beginning, a teacher who will begin 
with history and particulars, who will abstract his definitions 
from nature, and have powers of them, and not words only, and 
make them the basis of his science and the material and instru- 
ment of his reform. < I will teach you differences; says Kent 
to the steward, alluding on the part of his author, for he does 
not profess to be metaphysical himself to another kind of dis- 
tinction, than that which obtained in the schools; and accom- 
panying the remark, on his own part, with some practical 
demonstrations, which did not appear to be taken in good 
part at all by the person he was at such pains to instruct in 
his doctrine of distinctions. 

The reader who has once gained this clue, the clue which 
the question of design and authorship involves, will find this 
play, as he will find, indeed, all this author's plays, overflow- 
ing every where with the scientific statement,— the finest 
abstract statement of that which the action, with its moving, 
storming, laughing, weeping, praying diagrams, sets forth in 

the concrete. 

But he who has not yet gained this point,— the critic who 
looks at it from the point of observation which^ the tradi- 
tionary theory of its origin and intent creates, is not in a 

THE PLAY. 285 

position to notice the philosophic expositions of its purport, 
with which the action is all inwoven. No, — though the whole 
structure of the piece should manifestly hang on them, 
though the whole flow of the dialogue should make one 
tissue of them, though every interstice of the play should 
be filled with them, though the fool's jest, and the Bedlamite's 
gibberish, should point and flash with them at every turn ; — 
though the wildest incoherence of madness, real or assumed, 
to its most dubious hummings, — its snatches of old ballads, 
and inarticulate mockings of the blast, should be strung and 
woven with them ; though the storm itself, with its wild ac- 
companiment, and demoniacal frenzies, should articulate its 
response to them; — keeping open tune without, to that human 
uproar; and howling symphonies, to the unconquered demonia- 
cal forces of human life,— for it is the Poet who writes in* the 
storm continues,' — { the storm continues,' — ' the storm con- 
tinues;' — though even Edmund's diabolical '/«, sol, lah, mi,' 
should dissolve into harmony with them, while Tom's live 
fiends echo it from afar, and ' mop and mow ' their responses, 
down to the one that { since possesses chambermaids;' nobody 
that takes the play theory, and makes a matter of faith of it 
merely; nobody that is willing to shut his eyes and open his 
mouth, and swallow the whole upon trust, as a miracle 
simply, is going to see anything in all this, or take any 
exceptions at it. 

Certainly, at the time when it was written, it was not the 
kind of learning and the kind of philosophy that the world 
was used to. Nobody had ever heard of such a thing. The 
memory of man could not go far enough to produce any 
parallel to it in letters. It was manifest that this was nature, 
the living nature, the thing itself. None could perceive the 
tint of the school on its robust creations; no eye could detect 
in its sturdy compositions the stuff that books were made of; 
and it required no effort of faith, therefore, to believe that it 
was not that. It was easy enough to believe, and men were 
glad, on the whole, to believe that it was not that — that it 
was not learning or philosophy — but something just as far 

286 leak's philosopher. 

from that, as completely its opposite, as could well be con- 
ceived of. 

How could men suspect, as yet, that this was the new 
scholasticism, the New Philosophy? Was it strange that they 
should mistake it for rude nature herself, in her unschooled, 
spontaneous strength, when it had not yet publicly transpired 
that something had come at last upon the stage of human 
development, which was stooping to nature and learning of 
her, and stealing her secret, and unwinding the clue to the 
heart of her mystery? How could men know that this was 
the subtlest philosophy, the ripest scholasticism, the last proof 
of all human learning, when it was still a , secret that the 
school of nature and her laws, that the school of natural 
history and natural philosophy, too, through all its lengths 
and breadths and depths, was open ; and that ' the schools' — 
the schools of old chimeras and notions — the schools where 
the jangle of the monkish abstractions and the ' fifes and the 
trumpets of the Greeks' were sounding — were going to get 
shut up with it. 

How should they know that the teacher of the New Philo- 
sophy was Poet also — must be, by that same anointing, a 
singer, mighty as the sons of song who brought their harmo- 
nies of old into the savage earth — a singer able to sing down 
antiquities with his new gift, able to sing in new eras? 

But these have no clue as yet to track him with : they can- 
not collect or thread his thick-showered meanings. He does 
not care through how many mouths he draws the lines of his 
philosophic purpose. He does not care from what long dis- 
tances his meanings look towards each other. But these- 
interpreters are not aware of that. They have not been in- 
formed of that particular. On the contrary, they have been 
put wholly off their guard. Their heads have been turned, 
deliberately, in just the opposite direction. They have no 
faintest hint beforehand of the depths in which the philosophic 
unities of the piece are hidden : it is not strange, therefore, 
that these unities should escape their notice, and that they 
should take it for granted that there are none in it. It is not 

THE PLAY. 287 

the mere play-reader who is ever going to see them. It will 
take the philosophic student, with all his clues, to master 
them. It will take the student of the New School and the 
New Ages, with the torch of Natural Science in his hand, to 
track them to their centre. 

Here, too, as elsewhere, it is the king himself on whom the 
bolder political expositions are thrust. But it is not his 
royalty only that has need to be put in requisition here, to 
bring out successfully all that was working then in this Poet's 
mind and heart, and which had to come out in some way. It 
was something more than royalty that was required to protect 
this philosopher in those astounding freedoms of speech in 
which he indulges himself here, without any apparent scruple 
or misgiving. The combination of distresses, indeed, which 
the old ballad accumulates on the poor king's head, offers from 
the first a large poetic license, of which the man of art — or 
'prudence,' as he calls it — avails himself somewhat liberally. 

With those daughters in the foreground always, and the 
parental grief so wild and loud — with that deeper, deadlier, 
infinitely more cruel private social wrong interwoven with all 
the political representation, and overpowering it everywhere, 
as if that inner social evil were, after all, foremost in the Poet's 
thought — as if that were the thing which seemed crying to 
him for redress more than all the rest — if, indeed, any thought 
of ' giving losses their remedies' could cross a Player's dream, 
when, in the way of his profession, ' the enormous state ' came 
in to fill his scene, and open its subterranean depths, and let 
out its secrets, and drown the stage with its elemental horror; 
— with his daughters in the foreground, and all that magni- 
ficent accompaniment of the elemental war without — with all 
nature in that terrific uproar, and the Fool and the Madman 
to create a diversion, and his friends all about him to hush up 
and make the best of everything — with that great storm of 
pathos that the Magician is bringing down for him — with the 
stage all in tears, by their own confession, and the audience 
sobbing their responses — what the poor king might say be- 
tween his chattering teeth was not going to be very critically 

288 lear's philosopher. 

treated; and the Poet knew it. It was the king, in such cir- 
cumstances, who could undertake the philosophical expositions 
of the action ; and in his wildest bursts of grief he has to 
manage them, in his wildest bursts of grief he has to keep 
to them. 

But it is not until long afterwards, when the storm, and all 
the misery of that night, has had its ultimate effect — its 
chronic effect — upon him, that the Poet ventures to produce, 
under cover of the sensation which the presence of a mad king 
on the stage creates, precisely that exposition of the scene 
which has been, here, insisted on. 

i They flattered me like a dog ; they told me I had white hairs in my 
beard, ere the black ones were there. To say Ay and No to every- 
thing 1 said ! — Ay and No too was no good divinity. When the rain 
came to wet me once, and the wind made me chatter ; when the thunder 
would not peace at my bidding, — there 1 found them, there I smelt them 
out. Go to, they are not men of their words. They told me I was 
everything : H is a lie. I am not ague-proof. 

Gloster. The trick of that voice I do well remember : 

Is 't not THE KING ? 

Lear. Ay, every inch a king : 

When / do stare, see, how the subject quakes? 

But it is a subject he has conjured up from his brain that is 
quaking under his regal stare. And it is the impersonation of 
God's authority, it is the divine right to rule men at its plea- 
sure, with or without laws, as it sees Jit, that stands there, 
tricked out like Tom o' Bedlam, with A CROWN of noisome 
weeds on its head, arguing the question of the day, taking up 
for the divine right, denning its own position : — 

' Is 't not the king 1 

Ay every inch a king : 
When I do stare, see how the subject quakes. 7 

See ; yes, see. For that is what he stands there for, or that 
you may see what it is at whose stare the subject quakes. He 
is there to ' represent to the eye,' because impressions on the 
senses are more effective than abstract statements, the divine 
right and sovereignty, the majesty of the COMMON-weal, the 
rule that protects each helpless individual member of it with 


the strength of all, the rule awful with great nature's sanction, 
enforced with her dire pains and penalties. He is there that 
you may see whether that is it, or not; that one poor wretch, 
that thing of pity, which has no power to protect itself, in 
whom the law itself, the sovereignty of reason, is dethroned. 
That was, what all men thought it was, when this play was 
written; for the madness of arbitrary power, the impersonated 
will and passion, was the state then. That is the spontaneous 
affirmation of rude ages, on this noblest subject, — this chosen 
subject of the new philosophy, — which stands there now to faci- 
litate the demonstration, ' as globes and machines do the more 
subtle demonstrations in mathematics.' It is the ' affirmation' 
which the Poet finds pre-occupying this question; but this is 
the table of review that he stands on, and this ' Instance ' has 
been subjected to the philosophical tests, and that is the reason 
that all those dazzling externals of majesty, which make that 
1 idol ceremony' are wanting here ; that is the reason that his 
crown has turned to weeds. This is the popular affirmative 
the Poet is dealing with ; but it stands on the scientific ' Table 
of Review ,' and the result of this inquiry is, that it goes to * the 
table of negations.' And the negative table of science in 
these questions is Tragedy, the World's Tragedy. ' Is 't not 
the king?' ' Ay, every inch — a King. When I do stare, see 
how the subject quakes.' But the voice within overpowers 
him, and the axioms that are the vintage of science, the in- 
ductions which are the result of that experiment, are forced 
from his lips. ' To say ay and no to everything that / — that 
J — said! To say ay and no too, was no GOOD divinity 
They told me that I was everything. 'T IS A lie. I am 
not ague proof. 1 'T is A lie' — that is, what is called in other 
places a ''negative. 1 

In this systematic exposure of * the particular and private 
nature' in the human kind, and those SPECIAL susceptibilities 
and liabilities which qualify its relationships; in this scientific 
exhibition of its special liability to suffering from the violation 
of the higher law of those relationships — its special liability to 
injury, moral, mental, and physical — a liability from which 



the very one who usurps the place of that law has himself no 
exemption in this exhibition, — which requires that the king 
himself should represent that liability in chief — it was not to 
be expected that this particular ill, this ill in which the human 
wrong in its extreme cases is so wont to exhibit its consum- 
mations, should be omitted. In this exhibition, which was 
designed to be scientifically inclusive, it would have been a 
fault to omit it. But that the Poet should have dared to 
think of exhibiting it dramatically in this instance, and that, 
too, in its most hopeless form — that he should have dared to 
think of exhibiting the personality which was then ' the state' 
to the eye of ' the subject' labouring under that personal dis- 
ability, in the very act, too, of boasting of its kingly terrors — 
this only goes to show what large prerogatives, what boundless 
freedoms and immunities, the resources of this particular 
department of art could be made to yield, when it fell into the 
hands of the new Masters of Arts, when it came to be selected 
by the Art-king himself as his instrument. 

But we are prepared for this spectacle, and with the Poet's 
wonted skill ; for it is Cordelia, her heart bursting with its 
stormy passion of filial love and grief, that, rebel- like, 
seeks to be queen o'er her, though she queens it still, and 
* the smiles on her ripe lips seem not to know what tears are 
in her eyes,' for she has had her hour with her subject grief, 
and l dealt with it alone,' — it is this child of truth and duty, 
this true Queen, this impersonated sovereignty, whom her 
Poet crowns with his choicest graces, on whom he devolves the 
task of prefacing this so critical, and, one might think, per- 
haps, perilous exhibition. But her description does not disguise 
the matter, or palliate its extremity. 

' Why, he was met even now, 
Mad as the vexed sea, singing aloud ;' 

Crowned — 

1 Crowned with rank fumiter, and furrow weeds. 
With hardocks, hemlock, nettles, cuckow flowers, 
Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow 
In our sustaining corn' 



That is the crown; and a very extraordinary symbol of 
sovereignty it is, one cannot help thinking, for the divine right 
to get on its head by any accident just then. Surely that symbol 
of power is getting somewhat rudely handled here, in the course 
of the movements which the * necessary questions of this Play ' 
involve, as the critical mind might begin to think. In the 
botanical analysis of that then so dazzling, and potent, and 
compelling instrument in human affairs, a very careful ob- 
server might perhaps take notice that the decidedly hurtful 
and noxious influences in nature appear to have a prominent 
place; and, for the rest, that the qualities of mildness and idle- 
ness, and encroaching good-for-nothingness, appear to be 
the common and predominating elements. It is when the 
Tragedy reaches its height that this crown comes out. 

A hundred men are sent out to pursue this majesty; not 
now to wait on him in idle ceremony, and to give him the 
'addition of a king*; but — to catch him — to search every 
acre in the high-grown field, and bring him in. He has 
evaded his pursuers: he comes on to the stage full of self-con- 
gratulation and royal glee, chuckling over his prerogative : — 

'No ; they cannot touch me for coining, lam the king himself? 
' thou side-piercing sight !' [Collateral meaning.] 

' Nature 's above Art in that respect. [< So o'er that art which you say 
adds to nature, is an art that Nature makes.'] There's your pres fe 
money. That fellow handles his bow like a crow-keeper : draw me a 
clothier's yard.— Look, look, a mouse ! Peace, peace ; this piece of 
toasted cheese will doH. — There's my gauntlet ; I'll prove it on a giant? 

But the messengers, who were sent out for him, are on his 

Enter a Gentleman, with Attendants. 
Gent. O here he is, lay hand upon him. Sir, 

Your most dear daughter — 
Lear. No rescue 1 What, a prisoner ? I am even 
The natural fool of fortune ! Use me well ; 
You shall have ransom. Let me have a surgeon, 
I am cut to the brains. 
Gent. You shall have anything. 
Lear. No seconds ? All myself ? * * * 
Gent. Good Sir, — 

u 2 


Lear. I will die bravely, like a bridegroom : "What % 
I will be jovial. Come, come ; I am a Icing, 
My masters ; know you that ? 
Gent. You are, a royal one, and we obey you. 
Lear. Then there's life in it. Nay, an you get it, you shall get it by 
running. Sa, sa, sa, sa. [Exit, running ; Attendants follow. 
['Transient hieroglyphic.'] 
Gent. A sight most pitiful in the meanest wretch ; 
Past speaking of, in a king ! 
[not past exhibiting, it seems, however.] 

But, of course, there was nothing that a king, whose mind 
was in such a state, could not be permitted to say with im- 
punity ; and it is in this very scene that the Poet puts into his 
mouth the boldest of those philosophical suggestions which 
the first attempt to find a theory for the art and practical part 
of life, gave birth to : he skilfully reserves for this scene some 
of the most startling of those social criticisms which the action 
this play is everywhere throwing out. 

For it is in this scene, that the outcast king encounters the 
victim of tyranny, whose eyes have been plucked out, and 
who has been turned out to beggary, as the penalty of having 
come athwart that disposition in ' the duke,' that • all the 
world well knows will not be rubbed or stopped'; — it is in 
this scene that Lear finds him smelling his way to Dover, for 
that is the name in the play — the play name — for the place 
towards which men's hopes appear to be turning ; and that 
conversation as to how the world goes, to which allusion has 
been already made, comes off, without appearing to suggest to 
any mind, that it is other than accidental on the part of the 
Poet, or that the action of the play might possibly be con- 
nected with it ! For notwithstanding this great stress, which 
he lays everywhere on forethought and a deliberative rational 
intelligent procedure, as the distinctive human mark, — the cha- 
racteristic feature of a man, — the poor poet himself, does not 
appear to have gained much credit hitherto for the possession 
of this human quality. — 

Lear. Thou seest how this world goes ? 
Gloster. I see it feelingly. 
Lear. "What, art mad 1 — 


[have you not the use of your reason, then? Can you not see 
with that? That is the kind of sight we talk of here. It's 
the want of that which makes these falls. We have eyes with 
which to foresee effects,— eyes which outgo all the senses with 
their range of observation, with their range of certainty and 

1 What, art mad ? A man may see how this world goes with no eyes. 
Look with thine — ears : see how yon justice rails upon yon simple thief. 
Hark, in thine ear : Change places, and, handy-dandy, which is the justice, 
and which is the thief V [Searching social questions, as before. 
* Thou robed man of justice (to the Bedlamite), take thy place ; and 
thou, his yoke-fellow of equity (to the Fool), bench by his side. Thou, 
sapient sir, sit here.'] 

So that it would seem, perhaps, as if wisdom, as well as 
honesty, might be wanting there — the searching subtle wisdom, 
that is matched in subtilty, with nature's forces, that sees true 
differences, and effects true reformations. ' Change places. 
Hark, in thine ear. 1 Truly this is a player who knows how to 
suit the word to the action, and the action to the word; for 
there has been a revolution going on in this play which has 
made as complete a social overturning — which has shaken 
kings, and dukes, and lordlings out of their 'places,' as com- 
pletely as some later revolutions have done. ' Change places !' 
With one duke in the stocks, and another wandering blind in 
the streets — with a dukeling, in the form of mad Tom, to 
lead him, with a king in a hovel, calling for the straw, and 
a queen hung by the neck till she is dead — with mad Tom 
on the bench, and the Fool, with his cap and bells, at his side 
— with Tom at the council-table, and occupying the position 
of chief favourite and adviser to the king, and a distinct pro- 
posal now that the thief and the justice shall change places 
on the spot — with the inquiry as to which is the justice, and 
which is the thief, openly started — one would almost fancy 
that the subject had been exhausted here, or would be, if these 
indications should be followed up. What is it in the way of 
social alterations which the player's imagination could conceive 
of, which his scruples have prevented him from suggesting 

294 leak's philosopher. 

But the mad king goes on with those new and unheard-of 
political and social suggestions, which his madness appears to 
have had the effect of inspiring in him — 

Lear. Thou hast seen a farmer's dog bark at a beggar ? 

Gloster. Ay, sir. 

Lear. And the creature run from the cur? There might'st thou 

behold the great image of Authority : a dog's obeyed in office. 

Through tattered robes small vices do appear ; 

Robes, and furred gowns, hide all. 

[Robes, — robes, and furred gowns !] 
Plate sin with gold, 

And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks ; 

Arm it with rags, a pigmy's straw doth pierce it. 

But that was before Tom got his seat on the bench — that was 
before Tom got his place at the council-table. 

* None does offend, — none — ' 

[unless you will begin your reform at the beginning, and hunt 
down the great rogues as well as the little ones; or, rather, 
unless you will go to the source of the evil, and take away the 
evils, of which these crimes, that you are awarding penalties 
to, are the result, let it all alone, I say. Let's have no more 
legislation, and no more of this JUSTICE, this EQUITY, that takes 
the vices which come through the tattered robes, and leaves 
the great thief in his purple untouched. Let us have no more 
of this mockery. Let us be impartial in our justice, at least] 
1 None does offend, i" sag none. I'll able 'em.' [I'll show 
you the way. Soft. Hark, in thine ear.'] ' Take that of me, 
ray friend, who have the power TO SEAL THE ACCUSER'S LIPS.' 
[Soft, in thine ear.] — 

1 Get thee glass eyes, 
And like a scurvy politician, seem 
To see the things thou dost not. — Now, now, now, NOW. 
* * * # 

I know thee well enough. Thy name is — Gloster. 
Thou must be patient ; we came crying hither. 
Thou know'st the first time that we smell the air 
We wawl and cry. I will preach to thee ; mark me. 


Gloster. Alack, alack, the day ! 

Lear. When we are born, we cry that we are come 

To this great stage of — Fools. 

[Mark me, for I preach to thee — of Fools. 

I am even the natural fool of fortune.] 

— ' matter and impertinency, mixed 

Reason in madness.' — 

— is the Poet's concluding comment on this regal boldness, a 
safe and saving explanation; 'for to define true madness,' as 
Polonius says, ' what is it but to be nothing else but mad/ If 
the c all licensed fool,' as Goneril peevishly calls him, under 
cover of his assumed imbecility, could carry his traditional 
privilege to such dangerous extremes, and carp and philosophize, 
and fling his bitter jests about at his pleasure, surely downright 
madness might claim to be invested with a privilege as large. 
But madness, when conjoined with royalty, makes a double 
privilege, one which this Poet finds, however, at times, none 
too large for his purposes. 

Thus, Hamlet, when his mind is once in a questionable state, 
can be permitted to make, with impunity, profane suggestions 
as to certain possible royal progresses, and the changes to 
which the dust of a Caesar might be liable, without being re- 
minded out of the play, that to follow out these suggestions 
1 would be/ indeed, c to consider too curiously,' and that most 
extraordinary humour of his enables him also to relieve his 
mind of many other suggestions, ' which reason and sanity,' in 
his time, could not have been ' so prosperously delivered of/ 

For what is it that men can set up as a test of sanity in any 
age, but their own common beliefs and sentiments. And what 
surer proof of the king's madness, — what more pathetic indi- 
cation of its midsummer height could be given, than those 
startling propositions which the poet here puts into his mouth, 
so opposed to the opinions and sentiments, not of kings only, 
but of the world at large; what madder thing could a poet 
think of than those political axioms which he introduces under 
cover of these suggestions, — which would lay the axe at the 
root of the common beliefs and sentiments ou which the social 

296 lear's philosopher. 

structure then rested. How could he better show that this 
poor king's wits had, indeed, 'turned;' how could he better 
prove that he was, indeed, past praying for, than by putting 
into his mouth those bitter satires on the state, those satires on 
the 'one only man' power itself,— those wild revolutionary 
proposals, 'hark! in thine ear,— change places. Softly, in 
thine ear,— which is the justice, and which is THE thief?' 
' Take that of me who have the power to seal the accuser's lips. 
None does offend. I say none. Ill able 'em. Look when I 
stare, see how the subject quakes.' These laws have failed, you 
see. They shelter the most frightful depths of wrong. That 
Bench has failed, you see; and that Chair, with all its adjunct 
divinity. Come here and look down with me from this pinna- 
cle, into these abysses. Look at that wretch there, in the form 
of man. Fetch him up in his blanket, and set him at the 
Council Table with his elf locks and begrimed visage and in- 
human gibberish. Perhaps, he will be able to make some sug- 
gestion there ; and those five fiends that are talking in him at 
once, would like, perhaps, to have a hearing there. Make 
him f one of your hundred.' You are of ' the commission,' let 
him bench with you. Nay, change places, let him try your 
cause, and tell us which is the justice, which is the thief, which 
is the sapient Sir, and which is the Bedlamite. Surely, the 
man who authorizes these suggestions must be, indeed, ' far 
gone,' whether he be ' a king or a yeoman.' And mad indeed 
he is. Writhing under the insufficiency and incompetency of 
these pretentious, but, in fact, ignorant and usurping institu- 
tions, his heart of hearts racked and crushed with their failure, 
the victim of this social empiricism, cries out in his anguish, 
under that safe disguise of the Robes that hide all. : ' Take 
these away at least,— that will be something gained. Let us 
have no more of this mockery. None does offend — none — 
I say none. 1 Let us go back to the innocent instinctive brutish 
state, and have done with this vain disastrous struggle of nature 
after the human form, and its dignity, and perfection. Let us 
talk no more of law and justice and humanity and divinity 
forsooth, divinity and the celestial graces, that divinity which 


is the end and perfection of the human form. — Is not woman- 
hood itself, and the Angel of it fallen— degenerate ?'— That is 
the humour of it. — That is the meaning of the savage edicts, 
in which this human victim of the inhuman state, the subject of 
a social state which has failed in some way of the human end, 
undertakes to utter through the king's lips, his sense of the 
failure. For the Poet at whose command he speaks, is the true 
scientific historian of nature and art, and the rude and strug- 
gling advances of the human nature towards its ideal type, 
though they fall never so short, are none of them omitted in 
his note-book. He knows better than any other, what gain 
the imperfect civilization he searches and satirizes and lays bare 
here, has made, with all its imperfections, on the spontaneities 
and aids of the individual, unaccommodated man: he knows 
all the value of the accumulations of ages; he is the very phi- 
losopher who has put forth all his wisdom to guard the state 
from the shock of those convulsions, that to his prescient eye, 
were threatening then to lay all flat. 

'0 let him pass!' is the Poet's word, when the loving 
friends seek to detain a little longer, the soul on whom this 
cruel time has done its work, — its elected sufferer. 
' let him pass ! he hates him 

That would upon the rack of this tough world, 

Stretch him out longer.' 

[Tired with all these, he cries in his own behalf.] 
' Tired with all these, for rest/id death I cry. 
Thou seest how this world goes. I see it feelingly.' 
Albany. The weight of this sad time we must obey, 

Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say, 
The oldest hath borne most : we that are young 
Shall never see so much, nor live so long. 

It needs but a point, a point which the Poet could not well 
put in, — one of those points which he speaks of elsewhere so 
significantly, to make the unmeaning line with which this 
great social Tragedy concludes, a sufficiently fitting conclusion 
for it; considering, at least, the pressure under which it was 
written; and the author has himself called our attention to 
that, as we see, even in this little jingle of rhymes, put in 

29 8 leak's philosopher. 

apparently, only for professional purposes, and merely to get 
the curtain down decently. It is a point, which it takes the 
key of the play — Lord Bacon's key, of ' Times/ to put m. 
It wants but a comma, but then it must be a comma in the 
right place, to make English of it. Plain English, unvar- 
nished English, but poetic in its fact, as any prophecy that 
Merlin was to make. 

' The oldest hath borne most, we that are young 
Shall never see so much, nor live so long.' 

There were boys ' in England then a-bed ;' nay, Some of 
them might have been present that day, for aught we know, 
on which one of the Managers of the Surrey Theatre, the 
owner of the wardrobe and stage-properties, and himself an 
actor, brought out with appropriate decorations and dresses, 
for the benefit of his audience on the Bankside, this little 
ebullition of his genius; —there were boys present then, per- 
haps, whose names would become immortal with the fulfil- 
ment of that prophecy; — there was one at Whitehall, when 
it was brought out there, whose name would be for ever linked 
with it. < We that are young, — the oldest hath borne ^ most. 
We that are young shall never see so much' [I see it feelingly], 
1 Shall never see so much, nor live so, long: 

But there were evils included in that tragic picture, winch 
those who were young then, would not outlive; evils which 
the times that were near with their coarse, fierce remedies, 
would not heal; evils which the Seer and Leader of the Times 
that were far off, would himself make over to their cure;— evils 
in whose cure the Discoverer of the science of Nature, and the 
inventor of the New Magic which is the part operative of it, 
expected to be called upon for an opinion, when the time 
for that extension of his science, < crushed together and infolded 
within itself in these books of Nature's learning, should fully 


Nothing almost sees MIRACLES but misery, says poor Kent, 
in the stocks, waiting for the ' beacon' of the morning, by 

THE PLAY. 299 

whose comfortable beams, he might peruse his letter. c I know/ 
he says, 

' Tis from Cordelia, 
Who hath most fortunately been informed 
Of my obscured course, and shall find time 
From this enormous state — seeking — to give 
Losses their remedies.' 

There is no attempt to demonstrate that the work here pro- 
posed as a study, worthy the attention of the philosophical 
student, is not, notwithstanding a Poem, and a Poet's gift, 
not to his cotemporaries only, but to his kind. What is 
claimed is, indeed, that it is a Poem which, with all its over- 
powering theatrical effects, does, in fact, reserve its true 
poetic wealth, for those who will find the springs of its in- 
most philosophic purport. There is no attempt to show that 
this play belongs to the category of scientific works, according 
to our present limitation of the term, or that there could be 
found any niche for it, on those lower platforms and compart- 
ments of the new science of nature, which our modern works 
of natural science occupy. 

It was inevitably a Poem. There was the essence of all 
Tragedy in the purely scientific exhibition, which the purpose 
of it required. The intention of the Poet to exhibit the 
radical idea of his plot impressively, so as to reach the popular 
mind through its appeal to the sensibilities, involved, of 
course, the finest series of conjunctions of artistic effects, the 
most exquisite characterization, the boldest grouping, the 
most startling and determined contrasts, which the whole 
range of his art could furnish. 

But that which is only the incident of a genuine poetic in- 
spiration, the effect upon the senses, which its higher appeals 
are sure to involve, becomes with those delighting in, and 
capable of appreciating, that sensuous effect merely, its suffi- 
cient and only end, and even a doctrine of criticism based on 
this inversion will not be wanting. But the difficulty of un- 
locking the great Elizabethan poems with any such theory of 
Art, arises from the fact that it is not the theory of Art, which 


lear's philosopher. 

the great Elizabethan Poets adopted, and whether we approve 
of theirs or not, we must take it, such as it was, for our torch 
in this exploration. As to that spontaneity, that seizure, that 
Platonic divination, that poetic ' fury/ which our prose philo- 
sopher scans in so many places so curiously, which he defines 
so carefully and strictly, so broadly too, as the poetic condition, 
that thing which he appears to admire so much, as having 
something a little demoniacal in it withal, that same ' fine' 
thing which the Poet himself speaks of by a term not any less 
questionable, — as to this poetic inspiration, it is not neceSfery 
to claim that it is a thing with which this Poet, the Poet of a 
new era, the Poet, the deliverer of an Inductive Learning, has 
had himself, personally, no acquaintance. He knows what it 
is. But it is a Poet who is, first of all, a man, and he takes 
his humanity with him into all things. The essential human 
principle is that which he takes to be the law and limit of the 
human constitution. He is perfectly satisfied with * the mea- 
sure of a man,' and he gives the preference deliberately, and 
on principle to the sober and rational state in the human mind. 
All the elements which enter into the human composition, all 
the states, normal or otherwise, to which it is liable, have 
passed under his review, and this is his conclusion; and none 
born of woman, ever had a better chance to look at them, for 
all is alike heightened in him, — heightened to the ideal boun- 
dary of nature, in the human form; but that which seems to 
be heightened, most of all, that in which he stands preeminent 
and singular in the natural history of man, would seem to be 
the proportion of this heightening. It is what we have all 
recognized it to be, Nature's largest, most prodigal demonstra- 
tion of her capacities in the human form, but it is, at the same 
time, her most excellent and exquisite balance of composition 
— her most subdued and tempered work. And the reason is, 
that he is not a particular and private man, and the deficien- 
cies and personalities of those from whom he is abstracted, are 
studiously, and by method, kept out of him. For this is the 
•Will' not of one man only; it is the scientific abstract of a phi- 
losophic union. It is a will that has a rule in art as well as 


Certainly he is the very coolest Poet; and the fullest of this 
common earth and its affairs, of any sage that has ever showed 
his head upon it, in prose or metre. The sturdiness with 
which he makes good his position, as an inhabitant, for the 
time being, of this terrestrial ball, and, by the ordinance of 
God, subject to its laws, and liable to its pains and penalties, 
is a thing which appears, to the careful reviewer of it, on the 
whole, the most novel and striking feature of this demonstra- 
tion. He objects, on principle, to seizures and possessions of 
all kinds. He refuses to be taken off his feet by any kind of 
solicitation. He is a man who is never ashamed to have a 
reason,— one that he can produce, and make intelligible to 
common people, for his most exquisite proceedings ; that is, if 
he chooses: but, ' if reasons were plentiful as blackberries,' he 
is not the man to give them on .« compulsion/ His ideas of 
the common mind, his notion of the common human intelli- 
gence, or capacity for intelligence, appears to be somewhat 
different from that of the other philosophers. The common 
sense— the common form— is that which he is always seeking 
and identifying under all the differences. It is that which he 
is bringing out and clothing with the ( inter-tissued robe' and 
all the glories which he has stripped from the extant majesty. 
' Eobes and furred gowns hide all ■ no longer. 

He is not a bard who is careful at all about keeping his 
singing robes about him. He can doff them and work like a 
? navvy' when he sees reason. He is very fond of coming out 
with good, sober, solid prose, in the heart of his poetry. He 
can rave upon occasion as well as another. Spontaneities of all 
kinds have scope and verge enough in his plot; but he always 
keeps an eye out, and they speak no more than is set down 
for them. His Pythoness foams at the mouth too, sometimes, 
and appears to have it all her own way, perhaps; but he 
knows what she is about, and there is never a word in the 
oracle that has not undergone his revision. He knows that 
Plato tells us ' it is in vain for a sober man to knock at the 
door of the Muses'; but he is one who has discovered, scien- 
tifically, the human law; and he is ready to make it good, on 

302 leak's philosopher. 

all sides, against all comers. And, though the Muses knocked 
at his door, as they never had at any other, they could never 
carry him away with them. They found, for once, a sober 
man within, one who is not afraid to tell them, to their teeth, 
'Judgment holds in me, always, a magisterial seat;'— and, 
with all their celestial graces and pretensions, he fetters them, 
and drags them up to that tribunal. He superintends all his 

There never was a Poet in whom the poetic spontaneities 
were so absolutely under control and mastery; and there never 
was one in whose nature all the spontaneous force and faculty 
of genius showed itself in such tumultuous fulness, ready to 
issue, at a word, in such inexhaustible varieties of creative 


Of all the spirits that tend on mortal thoughts there is none 
to match this so delicate and gorgeous Ariel of his,— this 
creature that he keeps to put his girdles round the earth for 
him, that comes at a thought, and brings in such dainty ban- 
quets, such brave pageants in the earth or in the air; there is 
none other that knows so well the spells < to make this place 
Paradise/ But, for all that, he is the merest tool,— the veriest 
drudge and slave. The magician's collar is always on his 
neck; in his airiest sweeps he takes his chain with him. Cali- 
ban himself is not more sternly watched and tutored; and all 
the gorgeous masque has its predetermined order, its severe 
economy of grace; through all the slightest minutiae of its 
detail, runs the inflexible purpose, the rational human purpose, 
the common human sense, the common human aim. 

Yes, it is a Play; but it is the play of a mind sobered 
with all human learning. Yes, it is spontaneous; but it is the 
spontaneity of a heart laden with human sorrow, oppressed 
with the burthen of the common weal. Yes, indeed, it is a 
Poet's work; but it is the work of one who consciously and 
deliberately recognizes, in all the variety of his gifts, in all his 
natural and acquired power, under all the disabilities of his 
position, the one, paramount, human law, and essential obliga- 
tion. Of ' Art,' as anything whatever, but an instrumentality, 



thoroughly subdued, and subordinated to that end, of Art as 
anything in itself, with an independent tribunal, and law with 
an ethic and ritual of its own, this inventor of the one Art, 
that has for its end the relief of the human estate and the 
Creator's glory, knows nothing. Of any such idolatry and 
magnifying of the creature, of any such worship of the gold 
of the temple to the desecration of that which sanctifieth the 
gold, this Art-King in all his purple, this priest and High 
Pontiff of its inner mysteries knows — will know — nothing. 

Yes, it is play; but it is not child's play, nor an idiot's play, 
nor the play of a ' jigging ' Bacchanal, who comes out on this 
grave, human scene, to insult our sober, human sense, with his 
mad humour, making a Belshazzar's feast or an Antonian revel 
of it; a creature who shows himself to our common human 
sense without any human aim or purpose, ransacking all the life 
of man, exploring all worlds, pursuing the human thought to its 
last verge, and questioning, as with the cry of all the race, the 
infinities beyond, diving to the lowest depths of human life 
and human nature, and bringing up and publishing, the before 
unspoken depths of human wrong and sorrow, wringing from 
the hearts of those that died and made no sign, their death- 
buried secrets, articulating everywhere that which before had 
no word — and all for an artistic effect, for an hour's entertain- 
ment, for the luxury of a harmonized t impression, or for the 
mere ostentation of his frolic, to feed his gamesome humour, 
to make us stare at his unconsciousness, to show what gems he 
can crush in his idle cup for a draught of pleasure, or in pure 
caprice and wantonness, confounding all our notions of sense, 
and manliness, and human duty and respect, with the bound- 
less wealth and waste of his gigantic fooleries. 

It is play, but let us thank God it is no such play as that; 
let our common human naturer ejoice that it has not been thus 
outraged in its chief and chosen one, that it has not been thus 
disgraced with the boundless human worthlessness of the 
creature on whom its choicest gifts were lavished. It is play, 
indeed ; but it is no such Monster, with his idiotic stare of un- 
consciousness, that the opening of it will reveal to us. Let us^ 


leak's philosopher. 

all thank God, and take heart again, and try to revive those 
notions of human dignity and common human sense which 
this story sets at nought, and see if we cannot heal that great 
jar in our abused natures which this chimera of the nineteenth 
century makes in it — this night-mare of modern criticism, 
which lies with its dead weight on all our higher art and 
learning — this creature that came in on us unawares, when 
the interpretation of the Plays had outgrown the Play-tradi- 
tion, when * the Play 3 had outgrown ' the Player' 

It is a play in which the manliest of human voices is heard 
sounding throughout the order of it; it is a play stuffed to its 
fool's gibe, with the soberest, deepest, maturest human sense; 
and ' the tears of it,' as we who have tested it know, ' the 
tears of it are wet.' It is a play where the choicest seats, the 
seats in which those who see it all must sit, are ' reserved' ; and 
there is a price to be paid for these : ' children and fools' will 
continue to have theirs for nothing. For after so many gener- 
ations of players had come and gone, there had come at 
last on this human stage — on ' this great stage of fools/ as the 
Poet calls it — this stage filled with * the natural fools of for- 
tune,' having eyes, but seeing not — there had come to it at 
last a man, one who was — take him for all in all — that; one 
who thought it — for a man, enough to be truly that — one 
who thought he was fulfilling his part in the universal order, 
in seeking to be modestly and truly that; one, too, who thought 
it was time that the human part on the stage of this Globe 
Theatre should begin to be reverently studied by man him- 
self, and scientifically and religiously ordered and determined 
through all its detail. 

For it is the movement of the new time that makes this 
Play, and all these Plays: it is the spirit of the newly-begin- 
ning ages of human advancement which makes the inspiration 
of them ; the beginning ages of a rational, instructed — and 
not blind, or instinctive, or demoniacal — human conduct. 

It is such play and pastime as the prophetic spirit and leader- 
ship of those new ages could find time and heart to make and 
■ leave to them, on that height of vision which it was given to 


it to occupy. For an age in human advancement was at last 
reached, on whose utmost summits men could begin to perceive 
that tradition, and eyes of moonshine speculation, and a 
thousand noses, and horns welked and waved like the en- 
ridged sea, when they came to be jumbled together in one 
1 monster/ did not appear to answer the purpose of human 
combination, or the purpose of human life on earth; appeared, 
indeed to be still far, 'far wide' of the end which human 
society is everywhere blindly pushing and groping for, en 

There was a point of observation from which this fortuitous 
social conjunction did not appear to- the critical eye or ear to 
be making just that kind of play and music which human 
nature — singularly enough, considering what kind of condi- 
tions it lights on — is constitutionally inclined to expect and 
demand ; not that, or indeed any perceptible approximation to 
a paradisaical state of things. There was, indeed, a point of 
view — one which commanded not the political mysteries of 
the time only, but the household secrets of it, and the deeper 
secrets of the solitary heart of man, one which commanded 
alike the palace and the hovel, to their blackest recesses^ — 
there was a point of view from which these social agencies ap- 
peared to be making then, in fact, whether one looked with 
eyes or ears, a mere diabolical jangle, and '/«, sol, la, mi,' of 
it, a demoniacal storm music; and from that height of obser- 
vation all ruinous disorders could be seen coming out, and 
driving men to vice and despair, urging them to self-destruc- 
tion even, and hunting them disquietly to their graves. 
' Nothing almost sees miracles but misery;' and this was the 
Age in which the New Magic was invented. 

It was the age in which that grand discovery was made, which 
the Fool undertakes to palm off here as the fruit of his own 
single invention ; and, indeed, it was found that the application 
of it to certain departments of human affairs was more success- 
fully managed by this gentleman in his motley, than by some 
of his brother philosophers who attempted it. It was the age 
in which the questions which are inserted here so safely in the 


306 leak's philosopher. 

Fool's catechism, began to be started secretly in the philo- 
sophic chamber. It was the age in which the identical answers 
which the cap and bells are made responsible for here, were 
written down, but with other applications, in graver authori- 
ties. It is the philosophical discovery of the time, which the 
Fool is undertaking to translate into the vernacular, when he 
puts the question, ' Canst thou tell why one's nose stands in 
the middle of his face?' And we have all the Novum Organum 
in what he calls, in another place, ' the boorish/ when he 
answers it; and all the choicest gems of ' the part operative' of 
the new learning have been rattling from his rattle in every- 
body's path, ever since he published his digests of that doc- 
trine : ' Canst thou tell why one's nose stands in the middle of 
his face?' ' No.' ' Why, to keep his eyes on either side of it, 
that what he cannot smell out he may spy into. 1 And * all 
that follow their noses are led by their eyes, but — blind men. 9 
And ' the reason why the seven stars are seven, is because they 
are not eight;' and the king who makes that answer e would 
have made a good — fool, 1 for it's 'a very pretty reason.' And 
neither times nor men should be ' old before their time' ; 
neither times nor men should be revered, or clothed with autho- 
rity or command in human affairs, ( till they are wise 1 [' Thou 
sapient sir, sit here 1 ] And it is a mistake for a leader of men 
to think that he ' has white hairs in his beard, before the black 
ones are there.' And 'ants,' and 'snails,' and * oysters,' are wiser 
than men in their arts, and practices, and pursuits of ends. It 
was the age in which it was perceived that ' to say ay and no 
to everything' that a madman says, ' is no good divinity 1 ; and 
that it is ' the time's plague when Madmen lead the Blind'; 
and that, instead of good men sitting still, like ' moral fools,' 
and crying out on wrong and mischief, * Alack, why does it 
so?' it would be wiser, and more pious, too, to make use of the 
faculty of learning, with which the Creator has armed Man, 
1 against diseases of the world,' to ascend to the cause, and punish 
that — punish that, ' ere it has done its mischief.' It was the 
age in which it was discovered that ' the sequent effect, with 
which nature finds itself scourged/ is not in the least touched 


by any kind of reasoning * thus and thus,' except that kind 
which proceeds first by negatives, that kind which proceeds 
by a method so severe that it contrives to exclude everything 
but the * the cause in nature' from its affirmation, which c in 
practical philosophy becomes the rule ' — that is, the critical 
method, — which is for men, as distinguished from the sponta- 
neous affirmation, which is for gods. 

It is the beginning of these yet beginning Modern Ages, 
the ages of a practical learning, and scientific relief to the 
human estate, which this Pastime marks with its blazoned, 
illuminated initial. It is the opening of the era in which a 
common human sense is developed, and directed to the common- 
weal, which this Pastime celebrates; the opening of the ages in 
which, ere all is done, the politicians who expect mankind to 
entrust to them their destinies, will have to find something 
better than * glass eyes' to guide them with ; in which it will 
be no longer competent for those to whom mankind entrusts 
its dearest interests to go on in their old stupid, conceited, 
heady courses, their old, blind, ignorant courses, — stumbling, 
and staggering, and groping about, and smelling their way 
with their own narrow and selfish instincts, when it is the 
common-weal they have taken on their shoulders; — running 
foul of the nature of things — quarrelling with eternal neces- 
sities, and crying out, when the wreck is made, * Alack ! why 
does it so?' 

This Play, and all these plays, were meant to be pastime for 
ages in which state reasons must needs be something else than 
' the pleasure* of certain individuals, ■ whose disposition, all the 
world well knows, will not be rubbed or stopped;' or 'the 
quality,' * fiery' or otherwise, of this or that person, no matter 
* how unremoveable and fixed' he may be f in his own course.' 

It was to the ' far off times;' and not to the * near,' it was to 
the advanced ages of the Advancement of Learning, that this 
Play was dedicated by its Author. For it was the spirit of the 
modern ages that inspired it. It was the new Prometheus 
who planned it; the more aspiring Titan, who would bring 
down in his New Organum a new and more radiant gift; it 

x 2 

308 lear's philosopher. 

was the Benefactor and Foreseer, who would advance the rude 
kind to new and more enviable approximations to the celestial 
summits. He knew there would come a time, in the inevit- 
able advancements of that new era of scientific * prudence' and 
forethought which it was given to him to initiate, when all 
this sober historic exhibition, with its fearful historic earnest, 
would read, indeed, like some old fable of the rude barbaric 
past — some Player's play, bent on a feast of horrors — some 
Poet's impossibility. And that — was the Play, — that was the 
Plot. He knew that there would come a time when all this tragic 
mirth — sporting with the edged tools of tyranny — playing a 
round the edge of the great axe itself — would be indeed safe 
play; when his Fool could open his budget, and unroll his 
bitter jests — crushed together and infolded within themselves 
so long — and have a world to smile with him, and not the 
few who could unfold them only. And that — that was ' the 
humour of it.' 

Yes, with all their philosophy, these plays are Plays and 
Poems still. There 's no spoiling the ' tragical mirth' in them. 
But we are told, on the most excellent contemporaneous 
authority — on the authority of one who was in the inmost 
heart of all this Poet's secrets — that 'as we often judge of 
the greater by the less, so the very pastimes of great men 
give an honourable idea to the clear-sighted of THE SOURCE 




Good does not necessarily succeed evil ; another evil may succeed, 
and a worse, as it happened with Caesar's killers, who brought the 
republic to such a pass that they had reason to repent their meddling 
with it. * * * It must be examined in what condition the 
assailant is. — Michael de Montaigne. 

Citizen. I fear there will a worse one come in his place. 

Cassius. He were no lion, were not Romans hinds. 



Casca. 'Tis Caesar that you mean : Is it not, Cassius? 

Cassius. Let it be who it is, for Romans now 

Have thewes and limbs like to their ancestors. 
* * * * 

We all stand up against the spirit of Caesar. 

Julius Caesar. 

"VTES, when that Royal Injunction, which rested alike upon 
-*- the Play-house, the Press, the Pulpit, and Parliament 
itself, was still throttling everywhere the free voice of the 
nation — when a single individual could still assume to himself, 
or to herself, the exclusive privilege of deliberating on all 
those questions which men are most concerned in — questions 
which involve all their welfare, for this life and the life to 
come, certainly ' the Play, the Play was the thing? It was a 
vehicle of expression which offered incalculable facilities for 
evading these restrictions. It was the only one then invented 
which offered then any facilities whatever for the discussion 
of that question in particular — which was already for that age 
the question. And to the genius of that age, with its new 


historical, experimental, practical, determination — with its 
transcendant poetic power, nothing could be easier than to get 
possession of this instrument, and to exhaust its capabilities. 

For instance, if a Roman Play were to be brought out at 
a ll } — an d with that mania for classical subjects which then 
prevailed, what could be more natural ? — how could one 
object to that which, by the supposition, was involved in it? 
And what but the most boundless freedoms and audacities, on 
this very question, could one look for here? What, by the 
supposition, could it be but one mine of poetic treason? If 
Brutus and Cassius were to be allowed to come upon the stage, 
and discuss their views of government, deliberately and confi- 
dentially, in the presence of an English audience, certainly no 
one could ask to hear from their lips the political doctrine then 
predominant in England. It would have been a flat anachro- 
nism, to request them to keep an eye upon the Tower in their 
remarks, inasmuch as all the world knew that the corner-stone 
of that ancient and venerable institution had only then just 
been laid by the same distinguished individual whom these 
patriots were about to call to an account for his military 
usurpation of a constitutional government at home. 

And yet, one less versed than the author in the mystery of 
theatrical effects, and their combinations — one who did not 
know fully what kind of criticism a mere Play, composed by 
a professional play-wright, in the way of his profession, for 
the entertainment of the spectators, and for the sake of the 
pecuniary result, was likely to meet with ; — or one who did 
not know what kind of criticism a work, addressed so strongly 
to the imagination and the feelings in any form, is likely to 
meet with, might have fancied beforehand that the author was 
venturing upon a somewhat delicate experiment, in producing 
a play like this upon the English stage at such a crisis. One 
would have said beforehand, that ' there were things in this 
comedy of Julius Caesar that would never please.' It is diffi- 
cult, indeed, to understand how such a Play as this could ever 
have been produced in the presence of either of those two 
monarchs who occupied the English throne at that crisis in its 


history, already secretly conscious that its foundations were 
moving, and ferociously on guard over their prerogative. 

And, indeed, unless a little of that same sagacity, which was 
employed so successfully in reducing the play of Pyramus and 
Thisbe to the tragical capacities of Duke Theseus' court, had 
been put in requisition here, instead of that dead historical 
silence, which the world complains of so much, we might 
have been treated to some very lively historical details in this 
case, corresponding to other details which the literary history 
of the time exhibits, in the case of authors who came out in 
an evil hour in their own names, with precisely the same doc- 
trines, which are taught here word for word, with impunity; 
and the question as to whether this Literary Shadow, this 
Name, this Veiled Prophet in the World of Letters, ever had 
any flesh and blood belonging to him anywhere, (and from the 
tenor of his works, one might almost fancy sometimes that that 
might have been the case), this question would have come down 
to us experimentally and historically settled. For most un- 
mistakeably, the claws of the young British lion are here, 
under these old Koman togas; and it became the c masters ' to 
consider with themselves, for there is, indeed, { no more fearful 
wild fowl living ' than your lion in such circumstances ; and if 
he should happen to forget his part in any case, and * roar too 
loud,' it would to a dead certainty ' hang them all.' 

But it was only the faint-hearted tailor who proposed to 
* leave out the killing part.' Pyramus sets aside this cowardly 
proposition. He has named the obstacles to be encountered 
only for the sake of magnifying the fertility of his invention 
in overcoming them. He has a device to make all even. 
' Write me a prologue/ he says, e and let the prologue seem to 
say, we will do no harm with our swords; and for the more 
assurance, tell them that I, Pyramus, am. not Pyramus, but 
Bottom, the Weaver; that will put them out oifear? And as to 
the lion, there must not only be ' another prologue, to tell that 
he is not a lion,' but ' you must name his name, and half his face 
must be seen through the lion's neck, and he himself must 
speak through, saying thus, or to the same defect, Ladies, or 



fair ladies, my life for yours. If you think I come hither as a 
lion, it were pity of my life.' 

Te such devices, in good earnest, were those compelled to 
resort who ventured upon the ticklish experiment of present- 
ing heroic entertainments for king's palaces, where ' hanging 
was the word' in case of a fright; but, with a genius like this 
behind the scenes, so fertile in invention, so various in gifts, 
who could aggravate his voice so effectually, giving you one 
moment the pitch of ' the sucking dove,' or ' roaring you like 
any nightingale,' and the next, f the Hercle's vein/ — with a 
genius who knew how to play, not ' the tyrant's part only,' 
but * the lover's, which is more condoling,' and whose sugges- 
tion that the audience should look to their eyes in that case, 
was by no means a superfluous one ; with a genius who had 
all passions at his command, who could drown, at his pleasure, 
the sharp critic's eye, or blind it with showers of pity, or 
* make it water with the merriest tears, that the passion of loud 
laughter ever shed,' with such resources, prince's edicts could 
be laughed to scorn. It was vain to forbid such an one, to 
meddle with anything that was, or had been, or could be. 

But does any one say — ' To what purpose,' if the end were 
concealed so effectually? And does any one suppose, because 
no faintest suspicion of the true purpose of this play, and of 
all these plays, has from that hour to this, apparently ever 
crossed the English mind, at home or abroad, though no sus- 
picion of the existence of any purpose in them beyond that of 
putting the author in easy circumstances, appears as yet to 
have occurred to any one, — does any one suppose that this 
play, and all these plays, have on that account, failed of their 
purpose; and that they have not been all this time, steadily 
accomplishing it? Who will undertake to estimate, for in- 
stance, the philosophical, educational influence of this single 
Play, on every boy who has spouted extracts from it, from the 
author's time to ours, from the palaces of England, to the log 
school-house in the back-woods of America? 

But suppose now, instead of being the aimless, spontaneous, 
miraculous product of a stupid, ' rude mechanical' bent on 


producing something which should please the eye, and flatter 
the prejudices of royalty, and perfectly ignorant of the nature 
of that which he had produced ; — suppose that instead of 
appearing as the work of Starveling, and Snout, and Nick 
Bottom, the Weaver, or any person of that grade and 
calibre, that this play had appeared at the time, as the work 
of an English scholar, as most assuredly it was, profoundly 
versed in the history of states in general, as well as in the 
history of the English state in particular, profoundly versed in 
the history of nature in general, as well as in the history of 
human nature in particular. Suppose, for instance, it had 
appeared as the work of an English statesman, already sus- 
pected of liberal opinions, but stedfastly bent for some reason 
or other, on advancement at court, with his eye still intently 
fixed, however secretly, on those insidious changes that were 
then in progress in the state, who knew perfectly well what 
crisis that ship of state was steering for; query, whether some 
of the passages here quoted would have tended to that ' ad- 
vancement' he 'lacked' Suppose that instead of Julius Caesar, 
' looking through the lion's neck/ and gracefully rejecting the 
offered prostrations, it had been the English courtier, con- 
demned to these degrading personal submissions, who ' roared 
you out,' on his own account, after this fashion. Imagine a 
good sturdy English audience returning the sentiment, thun- 
dering their applause at this and other passages here quoted, in 
the presence of a Tudor or a Stuart. 

One might safely conclude, even if the date had not been 
otherwise settled, that anything so offensive as this never was 
produced in the presence of Queen Elizabeth. King James 
might be flattered into swallowing even such treasonable stuff 
as this; but in her time, the poor lion was compelled to ag- 
gravate his voice after another fashion. Nothing much above 
the sucking-dove pitch, could be ventured on when her quick 
ears were present. He ■ roared you' indeed, all through her 
part of the Elizabethan time; but it was like any nightingale. 
The clash and clang of these Roman Plays were for the less 
sensitive and more learned Stuart. 


Metellus Cimber. Most high, most mighty, 

And most puissant Caesar; 

Metellus Cimber throws before thy seat 

An humble heart : — [Kneeling.'] 

Caesar. I must prevent thee, Cimber. 

These couchings and these lowly courtesies 

Might fire the blood of ordinary men ; 

And turn pre-ordinance, and first decree, 

Into the law of children. 

Be not fond 

To think that Caesar bears such rebel blood, 

That will be thawed from the true quality, 

With that which melteth Fools. (?) I mean, sweet words, 

Low, crooked curtsies, and base spaniel fawning. 

Thy brother by decree is banished ; 

If thou dost bend, and pray, and fawn for him, 

1 spurn thee like a cur, out of my way. 

Know Caesar doth not wrong. 

To appreciate this, one must recall not merely the humilia- 
ting personal prostrations which the ceremonial of the English 
Court required then, but that base prostration of truth and 
duty and honour, under the feet of vanity and will and pas- 
sion, which they symbolized. 

Thus far Caesar, but the subject's views on this point, as 
here set forth, are scarcely less explicit, but then it is a Roman 
subject who speaks, and the Roman costume and features, 
look savingly through the lion's neck. 

One of the radical technicalities of that new philosophy of 
the human nature which permeates all this historical exhibi- 
tion, comes in here, however; and it is one which must be 
mastered before any of these plays can be really read. The 
radical point in the new philosophy, as it applies to the human 
nature in particular, is the pivot on which all turns here, — 
here as elsewhere in the writings of this school, — the distinction 
of 'the double self,' the distinction between the particular and 
private nature, with its unenlightened instincts of passion, 
humour, will, caprice, — that self which is changeful, at war 
with itself, self-inconsistent, and, therefore, truly, no SELF, — 
since the true self is the principle of identity and immutability, 
— the distinction between that ■ private' nature when it is 


developed instinctively as e selfishness/ and that rational im- 
mutable self which is constitutionally present though latent, 
in all men, and one in them all; that noble special human 
form which embraces and reconciles in its intention, the 
private good with the good of that worthier whole whereof 
we are individually parts and members ; ' this is the distinction 
on which all turns here.' For this philosophy refuses, on 
philosophical grounds, to accept this low, instinctive private 
nature, in any dressing up of accidental power as the god of 
its idolatry, in place of that 'divine or angelical nature, which 
is the perfection of the human form,' and the true sovereignty. 
Obedience to that nature, — * the approach to, or assumption 
of,' that, makes, in this philosophy, the end of the human 
endeavour, * and the error and false imitation of that good, 
is that which is the tempest of the human life/ 

But let us hear the passionate Cassius, who is full of indi- 
vidualities himself, and ready to tyrannize with them, but 
somehow, as it would seem, not fond of submitting to the 
4 single self in others. 

* Well, honour is the subject of my story. — 
I can not tell what you, and other men, 
Think of this life ; but for my single self, 
I had as lief not be, as live to be 
In awe of such a thing as I myself. 
I was born free as Caesar ; so were you. 
We both have fed as well : and we can both 
Endure the winter's cold as well as he.' — 

And the proof of this personal equality is then given; and 
it is precisely the one which Lear produces, ' When the wind 
made me chatter, there I found them, — there I smelt them 

1 For once upon a raw and gusty day, 

The troubled Tiber chafing with her shores, etc. 

* * * * 

— Caesar cried, Help me, Cassius, or I sink. 

* * * And this man 
Is now become a god, and Cassius is 

A wretched creature, and must bend his body. 
If Caesar carelessly but nod on him. 


He had a fever when he was in Spain, 
And when the fit was on him — 1 did mark 
How he did shake : 'tis true, this god did shake.' 

[This was a pretty fellow to have about a king's privac) 
taking notes of this sort on his tablets. Among ' those saw 
and forms and pressures past, which youth and observatior 
copied there/ all that part reserved for Caesar and his history, 
appears to have escaped the sponge in some way. 

1 They told me I was every thing, 'tis a lie ! I am not ague 
proof.' — Lear. 

His coward lips did from their colour fly. 

' And that same eye whose bend doth awe the world, 

Did lose his lustre! — Julius Caesar. 

4 — When I do stare see how the subject quakes. — ' Lear.] 
I did hear him groan : 

Aye* and that tongue of his that bade the Romans 

Mark him, and write his speeches in their books. 

Alas ! it cried, ' Give me some drink, Titinius,' 

As a sick girl. Ye gods, it doth amaze me, 

A man of such a feeble temper should 

So get the start of the majestic world, 

And bear the palm alone. 
Brutus. Another general shout ! 

I do believe that these applauses are 

For some new honours that are heap'd on Caesar. 
Cassius. Why man, he doth bestride the narrow world, 

Like a Colossus : and we petty men 

Walk under his huge legs; and peep about 

To find ourselves dishonourable graves. 

Men, at some time, are masters of their fates, 

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, 

But in ourselves that we are underlings. 

Brutus and Caesar : What should be in that Caesar ? 
* * * * 

Now in the names of all the gods at once, 
Upon what meat doth this our Caesar feed 
That he is grown so great 1 Age, thou art shamed : 
Rome, thou hast lost the breed of noble "bloods ! 
When went there by an age, since the great flood, 
But it was famed with more than with One man 1 
When could they say, till now, that talked of Rome, 
That her wide walls encompass'd but One man 1 
Now is it Rome indeed, and room enough, 









When there is in it but one only man. 

[When there is in it (truly) but One only, — Man]. 

! you and I have heard our fathers say, 
There was a Brutus once, that would have brook'd 
The eternal devil to keep his state in Borne, 

As easily as a king. 

What you have said, 

1 will consider ; — what you have to say 

I will with patience hear : and find a time 

Both meet to hear, and answer such high things. 

Till then, my noble friend, chew upon this ; 

Brutus had rather be a villager, 

Than to repute himself a Son of Bome. 

Under these hard conditions, as this time 

Is like to lay upon us. [Chew upon this]. 

I am glad that my weak words 

Have struck but thus much show of fire from Brutus. 

[Re-enter Caesar and his train.] 

The games are done, and Caesar is returning. 

As they pass by, pluck Casca by the sleeve ; 
And he will, after his sour fashion, tell you 
What hath proceeded worthy note to-day. 

I will do so : — But look you, Cassius, 

The angry spot doth glow on Caesar's brow. 

And all the rest look like a chidden train : 

Calphurnia's cheek is pale ; and Cicero 

Looks with such ferret and such fiery eyes, 

As we have seen him in the Capitol, 

Being crossed in conference by some senators. 

Casca will tell us what the matter is. 



Let me have men about me that are fat ; 

Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o' nights : 

Yond' Cassius has a lean and hungry look. 

He thinks too much : such men are dangerous. 

Fear him not, Caesar ; he 's not dangerous : 

He is a noble Boman, and well given. 

Would he were fatter : — But I fear him not ; 

Yet if my name were liable to fear, 

I do not know the man I should avoid 

So soon as that spare Cassius. He reads much : 

He is a great observer, and he looks 

Quite through the deeds of men : he loves no plays, 

As thou dost Antony ; he hears no music : 

Seldom he smiles ; and smiles in such a sort s 


As if he mocked himself, and scored his spirit 
That could be moved to smile at any thing. 
Such men as he are never at heart's ease, 
Whiles they behold a greater than themselves ; 
And therefore are they very dangerous. 
I rather tell thee what is to be feared, 
Than what /fear, for always I am Caesar. 
Come on my right hand, for this ear is deaf, 
And tell me indy what thou think'st of him. 

[Exeunt Caesar and his train. Casca stays behind] 
Casca. You pulled me by the cloak : would you speak with me 1 
Brutus. Ay, Casca, tell us what hath chanced to-day, 

That Caesar looks so sad. 
Casca. Why you were with him. Were you not ? 
Brutus. 1 should not then ask Casca what hath chanced. 
Casca. Why there was a crown offered him : and, being offered, he 
put it by with the back of his hand, thus ; and then the people fell 
a shouting. 

Brutus. What was the second noise for 1 
Casca. Why for that too. 

Brutus. They shouted thrice. What was the last cry for ? 
Casca. Why for that too ? 
Brutus. Was the crown offered him thrice 1 

Casca. Ay marry was't. And he put it by thrice, every time gentler 
than the other ; and at every putting by, mine honest neighbours 

Cassius. Who offered him the crown ? 
Casca. Why, Antony. 

Brutus. Tell us the manner of it, gentle Casca. 

Casca. I can as well be hanged as tell the manner of it. It was 
mere foolery. I did not mark it. I saw Mark Antony offer him a 
crown ; yet 'twas not a crown ;— neither 'twas one of these coronets ; 
—and, as I told you, he put it by once ; but, for all that, to my think- 
ing, he would fain have had it. Then he offered it to him again ; then 
he 'put it by again : but, to my thinking, he was very loth to lay his 
fingers off it. And then he offered it the third time ; he put it the 
third time by ; and still, as he refused it, the rabblement hooted, and 
clapped their chapped hands, and threw up their sweaty night caps, and 
uttered such a deal of stinking breath, because Caesar refused the 
crown, that it had almost choked Caesar ; for he swooned and fell down 
at it : 'and, for mine own part, I durst not laugh, for fear of opening my 
lips and receiving the bad air. 

Cassius. But soft, I pray you : What 1 did Caesar swoon ? 

Casca. He fell down in the market-place, and foamed at mouth, and was 

Brutus. 'T is very like ; he hath the falling sickness. 


Cassius. No, Caesar hath it not ; but you, and I, 

And honest Casca, we have the falling sickness. 

Casca. I know not what you mean by that : but I am sure, Caesar fell 
down. If the tag-rag people did not clap him and hiss him, according 
as he pleased and displeased them, as they use to do the Players in the 
theatre, I am no true man. 

Brutus. What said he, when he came unto himself. 

Casca. Marry, before he fell down, when he perceived the common 
herd was glad when he refused the crown, he plucked me ope his doublet, 
and offered them his throat to cut. — An I had been a man of any occu- 
pation, if I would not have taken him at a word ; I would I might go to 
hell among the rogues : and so he fell. When he came to himself again, 
he said, if he had done or said anything amiss, he desired their wor- 
ships to think it was his infirmity. Three or four wenches, where I 
stood, cried, 'Alas, good soul ! — and forgave him with all their hearts : 
But there's no heed to be taken of them; if Caesar had stabbed their 
mothers, they would have done no less. 

Brutus. And after that, he came thus sad away 1 

Casca. Ay. 

Cassius. Did Cicero say anything ? 

Casca. Ay, he spoke Greek. 

Cassius. To what effect ? 

Casca. Nay, an I tell you that, I '11 ?ie i er look you t the face again. But 
those that understood him, smiled at one another, and shook their heads : 
but for mine own part, it was Greek to me. I could tell you more news, 
too : Marullus and Flavius, for pulling scarfs off Caesar's images, are put 
to silence. Fare you well. There was more foolery yet, if I could 
remember it. 

Brutus says of Casca, when he is gone, * He was quick 
mettle when he went to school ' ; and Cassius replies, * So he is 
now — however he puts on this tardy form. This rudeness is 
a sauce to his good wit, which gives men stomach to digest his 
words with better appetite.' * And so it is/ Brutus returns ; — 
and so it is, indeed, as any one may perceive, who will take 
the pains to bestow upon these passages the attention which 
the author's own criticism bespeaks for them. 

To the ear of such an one, the roar of the blank verse of 
Cassius is still here, subdued, indeed, but continued, through 
all the humour of this comic prose. 

But it is Brutus who must lend to the Poet the sanction of 
his name and popularity, when he would strike home at last 
to the heart of his subject. Brutus, however, is not yet fully 


won: and, in order to secure him, Cassius will this night throw 
in at his window, ' in several hands — as if they came from 
several citizens — writings, in which, OBSCURELY, CAESAR S 
AMBITION SHALL BE GLANCED AT.' And, 'After this,' he 

says, — 

' Let Caesar seat him sure, 
For we will shake him, or worse days endure.' 

But in the interval, that night of wild tragic splendour 
must come, with its thunder-bolts and showers of fire, and 
unnatural horror. For these elements have a true part to per- 
form here, as in Lear and other plays; they come in, not 
merely as subsidiary to the ' artistic effect' — not merely because 
their wild Titanic play forms an imposing harmonious accom- 
paniment to the play of the human passions and their ' wild- 
ness ' — but as a grand scientific exhibition of the element 
which the Poet is pursuing under all its Protean forms - as a 
most palpable and effective exhibition to the sense of that 
identical thing against which he has raised his eternal standard 
of revolt, refusing to own, under any name, its mastery. 

But one can hear, in that wild lurid night, in the streets of 
Rome, amid the cross blue lightnings, what could not have 
been whispered in the streets of England then, or spoken in 
the ear in closets. 

Cicero. [Encountering Casca in the street, with his sword drawn.] 
Good- even, Casca ; brought you Caesar home 1 
Why are you breathless ? and why stare you so ? 
Casca. Are you not moved, when all the sway of earth 
Shakes like a thing unfirm? O Cicero, 
I have seen tempests, when the scolding winds 
Have rived the knotty oaks ; and I have seen 
The ambitious ocean swell, and rage and foam. 
To be exalted with the threatening clouds ; 
But never till to-night, never till now, 
Did I go through a tempest dropping fire. 
Either there is a civil strife in heaven ; 
Or else the world, too saucy with the gods, 
Incenses them to send destruction. 

But the night has had other spectacles, it seems, which, to 
his eye, appeared to have some relation to the coming 



struggle; in answer to Cicero's « Why, saw you anything more 
wonderful?' Thus he describes them. 

1 A common slave, — you know him well by sight. 
Held up his left hand, which did flame and burn 
Like twenty torches join 'd. 
Against the Capitol I met a lion, 
Who glared upon me, and went surly by.' 

[And he had seen, ' drawn on a head/] 

' A hundred ghastly women, 
Transformed with their fears ; who swore they saw 
Men, all in fire, walk up and down the streets. 
And, yesterday, the bird of night did sit, 
Even at noon-day, upon the market-place, 
Hooting, and shrieking.' 

An ominous circumstance, — that last. A portent sure as 
fate. When such things begin to appear, ' men need not go to 
heaven to predict imminent changes/ 

Cicero concedes that ' it is indeed a strange disposed time?' 
and inserts the statement that ' men may construe things after 
their fashion, clean from the purpose of the things themselves.' 
But this is too disturbed a sky for him to walk in, so exit 
Cicero, and enter one of another kind of mettle, who thinks 
1 the night a very pleasant one to honest men f who boasts that 
he has been walking about the streets ( unbraced, baring his 
bosom to the thunder stone,' and playing with * the cross blue 
lightning;' and when Casca reproves him for this temerity, he 

1 You are dull, Casca, and those sparks of life 
That should be in a Roman, you do want, 
Or else you use not.' 

For as to these extraordinary phenomena in nature, he says, 
* If you would consider the true cause 

Why all these things change, from their ordinance. 
Their natures and fore-formed faculties, 
To monstrous quality ; why, you shall find, 
That heaven hath infused them with these spirits, 
To make them instruments of fear, and warning, 
Unto some monstrous state.' 


Now could I, Casca, 
Name to thee a man most like this dreadful night ; 
That thunders, lightens, opens graves, and roars 
As doth the lion in the Capitol : 
A man no mightier than thyself, or me, 
In personal action ; yet prodigious grown, 
And fearful, as these strange eruptions are. 
Casca. 'Tis Caesar that you mean : Is it not, Cassius 1 
Cassius. Let it be who it is : for Romans now 

Have theives and limbs like to their ancestors ; 
But, woe the while ! our fathers' minds are dead, 
And we are govern'd with our mothers 1 spirits ; 
Our yoke and sufferance shows us womanish. 
Casca. Indeed, they say, the senators to-morrow 
Mean to establish Caesar as a king. 
And he shall wear his crown by sea, and land, 
In every place, save here in Italy. 
Cassius. I know where I will wear this dagger then; 
Cassius from bondage will deliver Cassius : 
Therein, ye gods, you make the weak most strong ; 
Therein, ye gods, you tyrants do defeat : 
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 besides, 
That part of tyranny, that J do bear, 
/ can shake off at pleasure. 

Casca. So can I: 

So every bondman in his own hand bears 
The power to cancel his captivity. 
Cassius. And why should Caesar be a tyrant then 1 
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. 
Those that with haste will make a mighty fire, 
Begin it with weak straws : What trash is Rome, 
What rubbish, and what offal, when it serves 
For the base matter to illuminate 
So vile a thing as Caesar ? But, O grief ! 
Where hast thou led me 1 I, perhaps, speak this 
Before a willing bondman ; then I know 
My answer must be made : But I am arm'd 
And dangers are to me indifferent. 

Casca. You speak to Casca ; and to such a man, 

That is no fleering tell-tale. Hold my hand : 
Be factious for redress of all these griefs : 


And I will set this foot of mine as far, 
As who goes farthest. 
Cassius. There's a bargain made. 

This is sufficiently explicit, an unprejudiced listener would 
be inclined to say — indeed, it is difficult to conceive how any 
more positively instructive exhibition of the subject, could 
well have been made. Certainly no one can deny that this 
fact of the personal helplessness, the physical weakness of those 
in whom this arbitrary power over the liberties and lives of 
others is vested, seems for some reason or other to have taken 
strong possession of the Poet's imagination. For how else, 
otherwise should he reproduce it so often, so elaborately under 
such a variety of forms? — with such a stedfastness and perti- 
nacity of purpose? 

The fact that the power which makes these personalities so 
* prodigious/ so ' monstrous,' overshadowing the world, * sham- 
ing the Age' with their ' colossaP individualities, no matter what 
new light, what new gifts of healing for its ills, that age has 
been endowed with, levelling all to their will, contracting all to 
the limit of their stinted nature, making of all its glories but 
'rubbish, offal to illuminate their vileness,' — the fact that 
the power which enables creatures like these, to convulse na- 
tions with their whims, and deluge them with blood, at their 
pleasure, — which puts the lives and liberties of the noblest, 
always most obnoxious to them, under their heel — the fact that 
this power resides after all, not in these persons themselves, — - 
that they are utterly helpless, pitiful, contemptible, in them- 
selves ; but that it exists in the ' thewes and limbs' of those 
who are content to be absorbed in their personality, who are 
content to make muscles for them, in those who are content to 
be mere machines for the ' only one man's' will and passion 
to operate with, — the fact that this so fearful power lies all in 
the consent of those who suffer from it, is the fact which this 
Poet wishes to be permitted to communicate, and which he 
will communicate in one form or another, to those whom it 
concerns to know it. 

It is a fact, which he is not content merely to state, how- 



ever, in so many words, and so have done with it. He will | 
impress it on the imagination with all kinds of vivid represen- 
tation. He will exhaust the splendours of his Art in uttering 
it. He will leave a statement on this subject, profoundly philo- 
sophical, but one that all the world will be able to compre- 
hend eventually, one that the world will never be able to 

The single individual helplessness of the man whom the 
multitude, in this case, were ready to arm with unlimited 
power over their own welfare— that physical weakness, already 
so strenuously insisted on by Cassius, at last attains its climax 
in the representation, when, in the midst of his haughtiest 
display of will and personal authority, stricken by the hands 
of the men he scorned, by the hand of one ' he had just 
spurned like a cur out of his path,' he falls at the foot of 
Pompey's statue — or, rather, ' when at the base of Pompey's 
statua he lies along' - amid all the noise, and tumult, and 
rushing action of the scene that follows — through all its pro- 
tracted arrangements, its speeches, and ceremonials — not un- 
marked, indeed,— the centre of all eyes,— but, mute, motionless, 

a thing of pity, ' A PIECE OF BLEEDING EARTH.' 

That helpless cry in the Tiber, ' Save me, Cassius, or I 
sink!'— that feeble cry from the sick man's bed in Spain, 
' Give me some drink, Titinius !' — and all that pitiful display 
of weakness, moral and physical, at the would-be coronation, 
which Casca's report conveys so unsparingly - the falling down 
in the street speechless, which Cassius emphasises with his 
scornful ' What? did Caesar SWOON?' -all this makes but 
a part of the exhibition, which the lamentations of Mark 
Antony complete : — 

< mighty Caesar, dost thou lie so low ? 

Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils, 

Shrunk to this little measure f 

This f and ' the eye' of the spectator, more learned than 
' his ear/ follows the speaker's eye, and measures it. 

1 Fare thee well. 
But yesterday the word of Caesar might 


Have stood against the world : now lies he there. 
And none so poor, to do him reverence? 

The Poet's tone breaks through Mark Antony's ; the Poet's 
finger points, * now lies he there 9 — there ! 

That form which 'lies there,' with its mute eloquence 
speaking this Poet's word, is what he calls 'a Transient 
Hieroglyphic,' which makes, he says, ' a deeper impression on 
minds of a certain order, than the language of arbitrary signs;' 
and his ' delivery' on the most important questions will be 
found, upon examination, to derive its principal emphasis 
from a running text in this hand. 'For, in such business,' he 
says, ' action is eloquence, and the eyes of the ignorant more 
learned than the ears/ 

Or, as he puts it in another place : ? What is sensible always 
strikes the memory more strongly, and sooner impresses itself, 
than what is intellectual. Thus the memory of brutes is ex- 
cited by sensible, but not by intellectual things. And there- 
fore it is easier to retain the image of a sportsman hunting, than 
of the corresponding notion of invention — of an apothecary- 
ranging his boxes, than of the corresponding notion of dispo- 
sition — of an orator making a speech, than of the term 
Eloquence — or a boy repeating verses, than the term Memory 
— or of A player acting his part, than the corresponding 
notion of— ACTION.' 

So, also, c Tom 0' Bedlam? was a better word for ' houseless 
misery,' than all the king's prayer, good as it was, about 
4 houseless heads, and unfed sides,' in general, and ( looped, 
and windowed raggedness.' 

' We construct,' says this author, in another place — reject- 
ing the ordinary history as not suitable for scientific purposes, 
because it is ' varied, and diffusive, and confounds and disturbs 
the understanding, unless it be fixed and exhibited in due 
order' — we construct ' tables and combinations of instances, 
upon such a plan and in such order, that the understanding 
may be enabled to act upon them.' 




I'll meet thee at Phillippi. 

IN Julius Caesar, the most splendid and magnanimous repre- 
sentative of arbitrary power is selected—' the foremost man 
of all the world,'— even by the concession of those who condemn 
him to death; so that here it is the mere abstract question as 
to the expediency and propriety of permitting any one man to 
impose his individual will on the nation. Whatever person- 
alities are involved in the question here — with Brutus, at 
least — tend to bias the decision in his favour. For so he 
tells us, as with agitated step he walks his orchard on that 
wild night which succeeds his conference with Cassius, revolv- 
ing his part, and reading, by the light of the exhalations 
whizzing in the air, the papers that have been found thrown 
in at his study window. 

1 It must be by his death : and, for my part, 

I know no personal cause to spurn at him, 

But for the general. He would be crown'd : — 

How that might change his nature, there's the question. 

It is the bright day that brings forth the adder ; 

And that craves wary walking. Crown him 1 That ;— 

And then, I grant, we put a sting in him, 

That at his will he may do danger with. 

The abuse of greatness is, when it disjoins 

Remorse from power : And, to speak truth of Caesar, 

I have not known when his affections sway'd 

More than his reason. But 't is a common proof, 

That lowliness is young ambition's ladder, 

Whereto the climber upward turns his face : 

But when he once attains the utmost round, 

He then unto the ladder turns his back, 

Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees 

By which he did ascend : So Caesar may ; 

Then, lest he may, prevent. And, since the quarrel, 

Will bear no colour for the thing he is, 



Fashion it thus ; that what he is, augmented, 

Would run to these, and these extremities : 

And therefore think him as a serpent's egg, 

Which, hatcKd, would, as his kind, grow mischievous ; 

And kill him in the shell.' 

Pretty sentiments these, to set before a king already engaged 
in so critical a contest with his subjects; pleasant entertain- 
ment, one would say, for the representative of a monarchy 
that had contrived to wake the sleeping Brutus in its do- 
minions, — that was preparing, even then, for its own death- 
struggle on this very question, which this Brutus searches to 
its core so untenderly. 

* Have you heard the argument?' says the ' bloat king* in 
Hamlet. ' Is there no offence in it ?' 

Now, let the reader suppose, for one instant, that this work 
had been produced from the outset openly, for what any reader 
of common sense will perceive it to be, with all its fire, an 
elaborate, scholarly composition, the product of the profoundest 
philosophic invention, the fruit of the ripest scholarship of the 
age; — let him suppose, for argument's sake, that it had been 
produced for what it is, the work of a scholar, and a states- 
man, and a courtier, — a statesman already jealously watched, 
or already, perhaps, in deadly collision with this very power 
he is defining here so largely, and tracking to its ultimate 
scientific comprehensions; — and then let the reader imagine, 
if he can, Elizabeth or James, but especially Elizabeth, listen- 
ing entranced to such passages as the one last quoted, with an 
audience disposed to make points of some of the * choice 
Italian ' lines in it. 

Does not all the world know that scholars, men of reverence, 
men of world-wide renown, men of every accomplishment, 
were tortured, and mutilated, and hung, and beheaded, in both 
these two reigns, for writings wherein Caesar's ambition was 
infinitely more obscurely hinted at — writings unspeakably 
less offensive to majesty than this? 

But, then, a Play was a Play, and old Romans would be 
Romans; there was, notoriously, no royal way of managing 
them; and if kings would have tragical mirth out of them, 


they must take their treason in good part, and make them- 
selves as merry with it as they could. The poor Poet was, of 
course, no more responsible for these men than Chaucer was 
for his pilgrims. He but reported them. 

And besides, in that broad, many-sided view of the subject 
which the author's evolution of it from the root involves, — 
in that pursuit of tyranny in essence through all its disguises, 

— other exhibitions of it were involved, which might seem, to 
the careless eye, purposely designed to counteract the effect of 
the views above quoted. 

The fact that mere arbitrary will, that the individual humour 
and bias, is incapable of furnishing a rule of action anywhere, 

— the fact that mere will, or blind passion, whether in the 
One, or the Few, or the Many, should have no part, above all, 
in the business of the state, — should lend no colour or bias to 
its administration, — the fact that ' the general good,' ' the 
common weal,' which is justice, and reason, and humanity, 

— the ' ONE ONLY MAN/ — should, in some way, under some 
form or other, get to the head of that and rule, this is all which 
the Poet will contend for. 

But, alas, how? The unspeakable difficulties in the way 
of the solution of this problem, — the difficulties which the 
radical bias in the individual human nature, even under its 
noblest forms, creates, — the difficulties which the ignorance, 
and stupidity, and passion of the multitude created then, and 
still create, appear here without any mitigation. They are 
studiously brought out in their boldest colours. There's no 
attempt to shade them down. They make, indeed, the 


And it is this general impartial treatment of his subjects 
which makes this author's writings, with all their boldness, 
generally, so safe; for it seems to leave him without any bias 
for any person or any party — without any opinion on any 
topic; for his truth embraces and resolves all partial views, 
and is as broad as nature's own. 

And how could he better neutralise the effect of these 
patriotic speeches, and prove his loyalty in the face of them, 
than to show as he does, most vigorously and effectively, that 


these patriots themselves, so rebellious to tyranny, so opposed 
to the one-man power in others, so determined to die, rather 
than submit to the imposition of the humours of any man, 
instead of law and justice, — were themselves but men, and 
were as full of will and humours, and as ready to tyrannise 
with them, too, upon occasion, as Caesar himself; and were no 
more fit to be trusted with absolute -power than he was, nor, 
in fact, half so fit. 

Caesar does, indeed, send word to the senate — ' The cause 
is in MY WILL, i" will not come; {That is enough, he says, to 
satisfy the senate.') And while the conspirators are exchanging 
glances, and the daggers are stealing from their sheaths, he 
offers the strength of his decree, the immutability ' of his abso- 
lute shall,' to the suppliant for his brother's pardon. 

But then Portia gives us to understand, that she, too, has 
her private troubles; — that even that excellent man, Brutus, 
is not without his moods in his domestic administrations, — for 
on one occasion, when he treats her to ' ungentle looks,' and 
* stamps his foot,' and angrily gesticulates her out of his pre- 
sence, she makes good her retreat, thinking 'it was but the 
effect of humour, which,' she says, ' sometime hath his hour 
with every man ' ; and, good and patriotic as Brutus truly is, 
Cassius perceives, upon experiment, that after all he too is but 
a man, and, with a particular and private nature, as well as a 
larger one f which is the worthier/ and not unassailable through 
that ' single I myself : he, too, may be ' thawed from the true 
quality with that which melteth fools,' — with words that 
flatter ' his particular.' In his conference with him, Cassius ad- 
dresses himself skilfully to this weakness ; — he poises the name 
of Caesar with that of Brutus, and, at the last, he clinches his 
patriotic appeal, with an appeal to his personal sentiment, of 
baffled, mortified emulation; for those writings, thrown in at 
his window, purporting to come from several citizens, ' all 
tended to the great opinion that Rome held of his name;' and, 
alas! the Poet will not tell us that this did not unconsciously 
make, in that pure mind, the feather's-weight that was per- 
haps needed to turn the scale. 



And the very children know, by heart, what a time there 
was between these two men afterwards, these men that had 
* struck the foremost man of all the world/ and had congra- 
tulated themselves that it was not murder, and that they were 
not villains, because it was for justice. Precious disclosures 
we have in this scene. It is this very Cassius, this patriot, 
who had as lief not BE as submit to injustice; who brings his 
avaricious humour, « his itching palm,' into the state, and ' sells 
and marts his offices for gold, to undeservers/ Brutus does 
indeed come down upon him with a most unlimited burst of 
patriotic indignation, which looks, at first, like a mere frenzy 
of honest disgust at wrong in the abstract, in spite of the 
partiality of friendship; but, when Cassius charges him, after- 
wards, with exaggerating his friend's infirmities, he says, 
frankly, ' I did not, till you practised them on ME.' And we find, 
as the dialogue proceeds, that it is indeed a personal matter with 
him : Cassius has refused him gold to pay his legions with. 

And see, now, what kind of taunt it is, that Brutus throws 
in this same patriot's face after it had been proclaimed, by his 
order, through the streets of Rome, that Tyranny 'is dead': 
after Cassius had shouted through his own lungs. 

'Some to the common pulpits, and cry out Liberty, Freedom, En- 
franchisement.' (Enfranchisement ?) 

It would have been strange, indeed, if in so general and 
philosophical a view of the question, that sacred, domestic insti- 
tution, which, through all this sublime frenzy for equal rights, 
maintained itself so peacefully under the patriot's roof, had 
escaped without a touch. 
Brutus says: — 

' Hear me, for I will speak. 
Must I give way and room to your rash choler 1 
Shall I be frighted when a madman stares f 
1 Look when I stare, see how the subject quakes.' 
This sounds, already, as if Tyranny were not quite dead. 

1 Cassius. O ye gods, ye gods, must I endure all this 1 
Brutus. All this 1 ay more : Fret till your proud heart break ; 
Go, show your slaves how choleric you are, 

caesar's spirit. 331 

And bid your bondmen tremble. Must / budge 1 
Must / observe you 1 Must / stand and crouch 
Under your testy humour If By the gods, 
You shall digest the venom of your spleen 
Though it do split you.' 

So it was a mistake, then, it seems; and, notwithstanding 
that shout of triumph, and that bloody flourishing of knives, 
Tyranny was not dead. 

But one cannot help, thinking that that shout must have 
sounded rather strangely in an English theatre just then, and 
that it was a somewhat delicate experiment to give Brutus his 
pulpit on the stage, to harangue the people from. But the 
author knew what he was doing. That cold, stilted harangue, 
that logical chopping on the side of freedom, was not going to 
set fire to any one's blood; and was not there Mark Antony 
that plain, blunt man, coming directly after Brutus,— f with his 
eyes as red as fire with weeping,' with 'the mantle,' of the 
military hero, the popular favourite, in his hand, with his 
glowing oratory, with his sweet words, and his skilful appeal 
to the passions of the people, under his plain, blunt profes- 
sions,— to wipe out every trace of Brutus's reasons, and lead 
them whither he would ; and would not the moral of it all be, 
that with such A people,— with such a power as that, behind 
the state, there was no use in killing Caesars — that Tyranny 
could not die. 

' I fear there will a worse one come in his place.' 

But this is Kome in her decline, that the artist touches here 
so boldly. But what now, if old Rome herself, — plebeian 
Rome, in the deadliest onset of her struggle against tyranny, 
Rome lashed into fury and conscious strength, rising from 
under the hard heel of her oppressors ; what if Rome, in the 
act of creating her Tribunes; or, if Rome, with her Tribunes 
at her head, wresting from her oppressors a constitutional 
establishment of popular rights,— what if this could be exhi- 
bited, by permission; what bounds as to the freedom. of the 
discussion would it be possible to establish afterwards? There 


had been no National Latin Tragedy, Frederic Schlegel sug- 
gests, — because no Latin Dramatist could venture to do this 
very thing ; but of course Caesar or Coriolanus on the Tiber 
was one thing, and Caesar or Coriolanus on the Thames was 
another; and an English author might be allowed, then, to 
say of the one, with impunity, what it would certainly have cost 
him his good right hand, or his ears,, or his head, to say of the 
ot h er _ w hat it did cost the Founder of this school in philo- 
sophy his head, to be suspected of saying of the other. 

Nevertheless, the great question between an arbitrary and a 
constitutional government, the principle of a government which 
vests the whole power of the state in the uncontrolled will of a 
single individual member of it; the whole history and philoso- 
phy of a military government, from its origin in the heroic 
ages, — from the crowning of the military hero on the battle 
field in the moment of victory, to the final consummation of 
its conquest of the liberty of the subject, could be as clearly 
set forth under the one form as the other; not without some 
startling specialities in the filling up, too, with a tone in the 
details now and then, to say the least, not exclusively antique, 
for this was a mode of treating classical subjects in that 
age, too common to attract attention. 

And thus, whole plays could be written out and out, on this 
very subject. Take, for instance, but these two, Coriolanus and 
Julius Caesar, — plays in which, by a skilful distribution of the 
argument and the action, with a skilful interchange of parts 
now and then,— the boldest passages being put alternately 
into the mouths of the Tribunes and Patricians, — that great 
question, which was so soon to become the outspoken question 
of the nation and the age, could already be discussed in all its 
vexed and complicated relations, in all its aspects and bearings, 
as deliberately as it could be to-day ; exactly as it was, in fact, 
discussed not long afterwards in swarms of English pamphlets, 
in harangues from English pulpits, in English parliaments and 
on English battle-fields, — exactly as it was discussed when 
that ' lofty Roman scene ' came ' to be acted over' here, with 
the cold-blooded prosaic formalities of an English judicature. 





* Well, march we on 
To give obedience where 'tis truly owed: 
Meet we the medicine of the sickly weal, 
And with him, pour we in our country's purge 
Each drop of us. 

Or so much as it needs 
To dew the sovereign Flower, and drown the weeds.' — Macbeth. 

' Have you heard the argument?' 



* Mildly is the word.' 

' In a better hour, 
Let what is meet be said it must be meet. 
And throw their power in the dust.' 

TT is the Military Chieftain of ancient Rome who pronounces 
* here the words in which the argument of the Elizabethan 
revolutionist is so tersely comprehended. 

It is the representative of an heroic aristocracy, not one of an- 
cient privilege merely, not one armed with parchments only, claim- 
ing descent from heroes ; but the yet living leaders of the rabble 
people to military conquest, and the only leaders who are 
understood to be able to marshal from their ranks an effective 
force for military defence. 

But this is not all. The scope of the poetic design requires 
here, under the sheath which this dramatic exhibition of an 
ancient aristocracy offers it, the impersonation of another and 
more sovereign difference in men ; and this poet has ends to 
serve, to which a mere historical accuracy in the reproduction 


of this ancient struggle of state-factions, in an extinct Euro- 
pean common-wealth, is of little consequence; though he is 
not wanting in that either, or indifferent to it, when occasion 


From the speeches inserted here and there, we find that this is 
at the same time an aristocracy of learning which is put upon 
the stage here, that it is an aristocracy of statesmanship and 
civil ability, that it is composed of the select men of the state, 
and not its elect only ; that it is the true and natural head of 
the healthful body politic, and not ' the horn of the monster ' 
only. This is the aristocracy which appears to be in session in 
the back ground of this piece at least, and we are not without 
some occasional glimpses of their proceedings, and this is the 
element of the poetic combination which comes out in the dia- 
logue, whenever the necessary question of the play requires it. 
For it is the collision between the civil interests and the in- 
terests which the unlearned heroic ages enthrone, that is 
coming off here. It is the collision between the government 
which uneducated masses of men create and confirm, and re- 
create in any age, and the government which the enlightened 
man ' in a better hour ' demands, which the common sense 
and sentiment of man, as distinguished from the brute, de- 
mands, whether in the one, or the few, or the many. — This is 
the struggle which is getting into form and order here, — here 
first. These are the parties to it, and in the reign of the last 
of the Tudors and the first of the Stuarts, they must be con- 
tent to fight it out on any stage which their time can afford to 
lease to them for that performance, without being over scrupu- 
lous as to the names of the actors, or the historical correctness 
of the costumes, and other particulars; not minding a little 
shuffling in the parts, now and then, if it suits their 
poet's convenience, who has no conscience at all on such points, 
and who is of the opinion that this is the very stage which an 
action of such gravity ought to be exhibited on, in the first place ; 
and that a very careful and critical rehearsal of it here, ought 
to precede the performance elsewhere; though a contrary opinion 
was not then without its advocates. 


It is as the mouth-piece of this intellectual faction in the 
state, while it is as yet an aristocracy, contending with the 
physical force of it, struggling for the mastery of it with its 
numerical majority; it is the Man in the state, the new MAN 
struggling with the chief which a popular ignorance has 
endowed with dominion over him ; it is the hero who contends 
for the majesty of reason and the kingdom of the mind, it is 
the new speaker, the new, and now at last, commanding 
speaker for that law, which was old when this myth was 
named, which was not of yesterday when Antigone quoted 
it, who speaks now from this Roman's lips, theie words of 
doom, — the reflection on the * times deceased,' the prophecy of 
4 things not yet come to life,' the word of new ages. 


When what's not meet, but what must be, was law, 
Then were they chosen : in a better hour 
Let what is meet be said it must be meet, 
And throw their power in the dust.' 

Not in the old, sombre, Etruscan streets of ancient Rome, 
not where the Roman market-place joined the Capitoline hill 
and began to ascend it, crossed the road from Palatinus thither, 
and began to obstruct it, not in the courts and colonnades of 
the primeval hill of palaces, were the terms of this proposal 
found. And not from the old logician's chair, was the sweep 
of their comprehension made; not in any ancient school of 
rhetoric or logic were they cast and locked in that conjunc- 
tion. It was another kind of weapon that the old Roman Jove 
had to take in hand, when amid the din of the Roman forum, 
he awoke at last from his bronze and marble, to his empirical 
struggle, his unlearned, experimental struggle with the wolf 
and her nursling, with his own baptized, red-robed, usurping 
Mars. It was not with any such subtlety as this, that the 
struggle of state forces which, under one name or another, 
sooner or later, in the European states is sure to come, had 
hitherto been conducted. 

And not from the lips of the haughty patrician chief, rising 


from the dust of ages at the spell of genius, to encounter his 
old plebeian vanquishers, and fight his long-lost battles o'er 
again, at a showman's bidding, for a showman's greed — to be 
stung anew into patrician scorn — to repeat those rattling 
volleys of the old martial Latin wrath, * in states unborn ' and 
1 accents then unknown,' for an hour's idle entertainment, for 
' a six-pen'orth or shilling's worth ' of gaping amusement to a 
playhouse throng, not — NOT from any such source came that 

It came from the council-table of a sovereignty that was 
plotting here in secret then the empire that the sun shall not 
set on ; whose beginning only, we have seen. It came from 
the secret chamber of a new union and society of men, — a 
union based on a new and, for the first time, scientific ac- 
quaintance with the nature that is in men, with the sovereignty 
that is in all men. It was the Poet of this society who put 
those words together — the Poet who has heard all its pros and 
cons, who reports them all, and gives to them all their exact 
weight in the new balance of his decisions. 

Among other things, it was understood in this association, 
that the power, which was at that time supreme in England, 
was in fact, though not in name, & popular power, — a power, at 
least, sustained only by the popular will, though men had not, 
indeed, as yet, begun to perceive that momentous circum- 
stance, — a power which, being ' but the horn and noise o' the 
monster,' .was able to oppose its * absolute shall' to the em- 
bodied wisdom of the state, — not to its ancient immemorial 
government only, but to ' its chartered liberties in the body of 
the weal,' and ' to a graver bench than ever frowned in 
Greece'; and the Poet has put on his record of debates on 
those 'questions of gravity,' that were agitating then this 
secret Chamber of Peers, a distinct demand on the part of 
this ancient leadership, — the leadership of * the honoured 
number,' the honourable and right honourable few, that this 
mass of ignorance, and stupidity, and blind custom, and inca- 
pacity for rule, — this combination of mere instinctive force, 
which the physical majority in unlearned times constitutes, 


which supplies, in its want, and ignorance, and passivity, and 
in its passionate admiration of heroism and love of leadership, 
the ready material of tyranny, shall be annihilated, and cease 
to have any leadership or voice in the state ; and this demand 
is put by the Poet into the mouth of one who cannot see from 
his point of observation — with his ineffable contempt for the 
people — what the Poet sees from his, that the demand, as he 
puts it, is simply ' the impossible.' For this is a question in 
the mixed mathematics, and ' the greater part carries it.' 

That instinctive, unintelligent force in the state — that 
blind volcanic force — which foolish states dare to keep pent 
Up within them, is that which the philosopher's eye is intent 
on also; he, too, has marked this as the primary source of 
mischief, — he, too, is at war with it, — he, too, would anni- 
hilate it ; but he has his own mode of warfare for it ; he thinks 
it must be done with Apollo's own darts, if it be done when 
'tis done, and not with the military chieftain's weapon. 

This work is one in which the question of heroism and 
nobility is scientifically treated, and in the most rigid manner, 
1 by line and level,' and through that representative form in 
which the historical pretence of it is tried, — through that scien- 
tific negation, with its merely instinctive, vulgar, unlearned am- 
bition — with its monstrous ' outstretching ' on the one hand, 
and its dwarfish limitations on the other, — through all that 
finely drawn, historic picture of that which claims the human 
subjection, the clear scientific lines of the true ideal type are 
visible, — the outline of the true nobility and government is 
visible, — towering above that detected insufficiency, into the 
perfection of the human form, — into the heaven of the true 
divineness, — into the chair of the perpetual dictatorship, — 
into the consulship whose year revolves not, whose year is the 

Neither is this true affirmation here in the form of a scien- 
tific abstraction merely. It is not here in the general merely. 
' The Instance,' the particular impersonation of nobility and 
heroism, which this play exhibits, is, indeed, the false heroism 
and nobility. It is the hitherto uncriticised, and, therefore, 



uncorrected, popular affirmation on this subject which is em- 
bodied here, and this turns out to be, as usual, the clearest 
scientific negative that could be invented. But in the design, 
and in all the labour of this piece, — in the steadfast purpose 
that is always working out that definition, with its so exquisite, 
but thankless, unowned, unrecognised toil, graving it and 
pointing it Avith its pen of diamond in the rock for ever, ap- 
proving itself ' to the Workmaster ' only, — in this incessant 
design, — in this veiled, mysterious authorship, — an historical 
approximation to the true type of magnanimity and heroism is 
always present. But there is more in it than this. 

It is the old popular notion of heroism which fills the fore- 
ground ; but the Elizabethan heroism is always lurking behind 
it, watching its moment, ready to seize it; and under that 
cover, it contrives to advance and pronounce many words, 
which, in its own name and form, it could not then have been 
so prosperously delivered of. Under the disguise of that his- 
torical impersonation — under the mask of that old Roman 
hero, other, quite other, heroic forms — historic forms — not 
less illustrious, not less memorable, from time to time steal in; 
and ere we know it, the suppressed Elizabethan men are on 
the stage, and the Theatre is, indeed, the Globe; and it is 
shaking and flashing with the iron heel and the thunder of 
their leadership ; and the thrones of oppression are downfalling ; 
and the ages that seemed ' far off,' the ages that were nigh, are 
there — are there as they are here. 

The historical position of the men who could entertain the 
views which this Play embodies, in the age in which it was 
written — the whole position of the men in whom this idea of 
nobility and government was already struggling to become 
historical — flashes out from that obscure back-ground into 
the most vivid historical representation, when once the light — 
' the great light' which ' the times give to true interpretations' 
— has been brought to bear upon it. And it does so happen, 
that that is the light which we are particularly directed to 
hold up to this particular play, and, what is more, to this par- 
ticular point in it. * So our virtues,' says the old Volscian 


captain, Tullus Aufidius, lamenting the limitations of his 
historical position, and apologizing for the figure he makes in 
history — 

' So our virtues 
Lie in the interpretation of the times.' 

[' The times, in many cases, give great light to true inter- 
pretations,' says the other, speaking of books, and the method of 
reading them ; but this one applies that suggestion particularly 
to lives.'] 

'And power, unto itself most commendable, 
Hath not a tomb so evident as a hair 
To extol what it hath done.' 

The spirit of the Elizabethan heroism is indeed here, and 
under the cover of this old Koman story; and under cover of 
those so marked differences in the positions which suffice to 
detain the unstudious eye, through the medium of that which 
is common under those differences, the history of the Eliza- 
bethan heroism is here also. The spirit of it is here, not in 
that subtler nature only — that yet, perhaps, subtler, calmer, 
stronger nature, in which ' blood and judgment were so well 
co-mingled' — so well, in such new degree and proportion, that 
their balance made a new force, a new generative force, in 
history — not in that one only, the one in whom this new 
historic form is visible and palpable already, but in the haugh- 
tier and more unbending historic attitude, at least, of his great 
* co-mate and brother in exile/ It is here in the form of the 
great military chieftain of that new heroic line, who found 
himself, with all his strategy, involved in a single-handed con- 
test with the state and its whole physical strength, in his 
contest with that personal power in whose single arm, in 
whose miserable finger-joints, the state and all its force then 
lay. Under that old, threadbare, martial cloak, — under the 
safe disguise of martial tyranny in ' the few/ — whenever the 
business of the play requires it, whenever ' his cue comes,' he 
is there. Under that old, rusty Koman helmet, his smothered 
speech, his ' speech of fire,' his passionate speech, * forbid so 
long,' drops thick and fast, drops unquenched at last, and 



glows for ever. It is the headless Banquo — ' the blood- 
boltered Banquo'— that stalks through that shadowy back- 
ground all unharmed; his Fleance lives, and in him * Nature's 
copy is eterne.' 

His house of kings, with gold-bound brows, and sceptres in 
their hands, with two-fold balls and sceptres in their hands- 
are here filling the stage, and claiming it to the crack of 
doom; and now he ' smiles/ he smiles upon his baffled foe, 
* and points at them for His/ 

The whole difficulty of this great Elizabethan position, and 
the moral of it, is most carefully and elaborately exhibited 
here. No plea at the bar was ever more finely and eloquently 
laboured. It was for the bar of ' foreign nations and future 
ages' that this defence was prepared: the speaker who speaks 
so ' pressly,' is the lawyer; and there is nothing left unsaid at 
last. But it is not exhibited in words merely. .It is acted. 
It is brought out dramatically. It is presented to the eye as 
well as to the ear. The impossibility of any other mode of 
proceeding under those conditions is not demonstrated in this 
instance by a diagram, drawn on a piece of paper, and handed 
about among the jury; it is not an exact drawing of the street, 
and the house, and the corner where the difficulty occurred, 
with the number of yards and feet put down in ink or pencil 
marks; it is something much more lively and tangible than 
that which we have here, under pardon of this old Roman 

For the story, as to this element of it, is indeed not new. 
The story of the struggle of the few with the many, of the one 
with the many, of the one with ' the many-headed,' is indeed 
an old one. Back into the days of demi-gods and gods it takes 
us. It is the story of the celestial Titan, with his benefactions 
for men, and force and strength, with art to aid them— reluct- 
ant art - compelled to serve their ends, enringing his limbs, 
and driving hard the stakes. Here, indeed, in the Fable,^ in 
the proper hero of it, it is the struggle of the ' partliness' of 
pride and selfish ambition, lifting itself up in the place of God, 
and arraying itself against the common-weal, as well as the 


common-will; but the physical relation of the one to the 
many, the position of the individual who differs from his time 
on radical questions, the relative strength of the parties to this 
war, and the weapons and the mode of warfare inevitably pre- 
scribed to the minority under such conditions — all this is 
carefully brought out from the speciality of this instance, and 
presented in its most general form ; and the application of the 
result to the position of the man who contends for the com- 
mon-weal, against the selfish will, and passion, and narrowness, 
and short-sightedness of the multitude, is distinctly made. 

Yes, the Elizabethan part is here; that all-unappreciated 
and odious part, which the great men of the Elizabethan time 
found forced upon them ; that most odious part of all, which 
the greatest of his time found forced upon him as the condition 
of his greatness. It is here already, negatively denned, in this 
passionate defiance, which rings out at last in the Roman 
street, when the hero's pride bursts through his resolve, when 
he breaks down at last in his studied part, and all considera- 
tions of policy, all regard to that which was dearer to him 
than ' his single mould? is given to the winds in the tempest of 
his wrath, and he stands at bay, and confronts alone ' the beast 
with many heads.' 

It is thus that he measures the man he contends with, 
the antagonist who is but ' the horn and noise of the 
monster' : — 

' Thou injurious Tribune ! 

Within thine eyes sat twenty thousand deaths, 

In thy hands clenched as many millions, in 

Thy lying tongue both numbers, I would say, 

Thou liest, unto thee, with voice as free 

As I do pray the gods' (?) 

But there was a heroism of a finer strain than that at work 
in England then, imitating the graces of the gods to better 
purpose ; a heroism which must fight a harder field than that, 
which must fight its own great battles through alone, without 
acclamations, without spectators; which must come off vic- 
torious, and never count its f cicatrices/ or claim * the war's 


If we would know the secret of those struggles, those hard 
conflicts that were going on here then, in whose results all the 
future ages of mankind were concerned, we must penetrate 
with this Poet the secret of the Roman patrician's house; we 
must listen, through that thin poetic barrier, to the great 
chief himself, the chief of the unborn age of a new civilization 
— the leader, and hero, and conqueror of the ages of Peace — 
as he enters 'and paces his own hall, with the angry fire in 
his eyes, and utters there the words for which there is no 
utterance without — as he listens there anew to the argument 
of that for which he lives, and seeks to reconcile himself 
anew to that baseness which his time demands of him. 

We must seek, here, not the part of him only who endured 

long and much, but was, at last, provoked into a premature 

boldness, and involved in a fatal collision with the state, but 

that of him who endured to the end, who played his life-long 

part without self-betrayal. We must seek, here, not the part 

of the great martial chieftain only, but] the part of that heroic 

chief and leader of men and ages, who discovered, in the 

sixteenth century, when the chivalry of the sword was still 

exalting its standard of honour as supreme, when the law of 

the sword was still the world's law, that brute instinct was not 

the true valour, that there was a better part of it than instinct, 

though he knows and confesses, — though he is the first to 

discover, that instinct is a great matter. We must seek, here, 

the words, the very words of that part which we shall find 

acted elsewhere, — the part of the chief who was determined, 

for his part, * to live and fight another day,' who was not 

willing to spend Azmself in such conflicts as those in which he 

saw his most illustrious contemporaries perish at his side, on 

his right hand and on his left, in the reign of the Tudor, and 

in the reign of the Stuart. And he has not been at all sparing 

of his hints on this subject over his own name, for those who 

have leisure to take them. 

* The moral of this fable is,' he says, commenting in a 
certain place, on the wisdom of the Ancients, i that men should 
not be confident of themselves, and imagine that a discovery of 


their excellences will always render them acceptable. For this 
can only succeed according to the nature and manners of the 
person they court or solicit, who, if he be a man not of the 
same gifts and endowments, but altogether of a haughty and 
insolent behaviour — (here represented by the person of Juno) — 
they must entirely drop the character that carries the least show 
of worth or gracefulness; if they proceed upon any other 
footing it is downright folly . Nor is it sufficient to act the 
deformity of obsequiousness f unless they really change themselves, 
and become abject and contemptible in their persons? This 
was a time when abject and contemptible persons could .do 
what others could not do. Large enterprises, new develop- 
ments of art and science, the most radical social innovations, 
were undertaken and managed, and very successfully, too, in 
that age, by persons of that description, though not without 
frequent glances on their part, at that little, apparently some- 
what contradictory circumstance, in their history. 

But the fables in which the wisdom of the Moderns, and 
the secrets of their sages are lodged, are the fables we are un- 
locking here. Let us listen to these f secrets of policy ' for 
ourselves, and not take them on trust any longer. 

A room in Coriolanuis house. 
[Enter Coriolanus and Patricians.'] 

Cor. Let them pull all about mine ears, present me 
Death on the wheel, or at wild horses' heels, 
Or pile ten hills on the Tarpeian rock 
That the precipitation might down stretch 
Below the beam of sight, yet will I still 
Be thus to them. 

[Under certain conditions that is heroism, no doubt.] 

First Patrician. You do the nobler. 

[For the question is of nobility.] 

Cor. I muse my mother 

Does not approve me further. 

I talk of you. [To Volumnia]. 


Why did you wish me milder ? Would you have me 
False to my nature 1 Kather say I play 
The man I am. 
Vol. O sir, sir, sir, 

I would have had you put your power well on 
Before you had worn it out. 

Lesser had been 
The thwarting of your dispositions, if 
You had not showed them how you were disposed, 
Ere they lacked power to cross you. 

* * * * 

[Enter Menenius and Senators.] 
Men. Come, come, you have been too rough 

Something too rough ; 

You must return, and mend it. 
1 Sen. There's no remedy, 

Unless, by not so doing, our good city 

Cleave in the midst and perish. 
Vol. Pray be counselled : 

/ have a heart as little apt as yours 

But yet a brain [hear] that leads my use of anger 

To better vantage. 
Men. Well said, noble woman ; 

Before he should thus stoop to the herd, but that 

The violent fit o' the time, craves it as PHYSIC 

For the whole state, I would put mine armour on, 

Which I can scarcely bear. 

[It is the diseased common-weal whose case this Doctor 
is undertaking. That is our subject.] 

Cor. What must I do 1 

Men. Keturn to the Tribunes. 

Cor. Well, 

What then ? what then 1 

Men. Eepent what you have spoke. 

Cor. For them ? I can not do it to the gods : 
Must I then do't to them ? 

Vol. You are too absolute ; 

Though therein you can never be too noble 
But when extremities speak. I have heard you say, 
Honor and policy [hear] like unsevered friends 
T the war do grow together : Grant that, and tell me. 
In peace, what each of them by the other loses 
That they combine not there ? 



c °r- Tush ; tush I 

Men. A good demand. 

Vol. If it be honor, in your wars, to seem 

The same you are not, (which for tour best ends 
You adopt your policy,) how is it less, or worse 
That it shall hold companionship in peace 
With honor, as in war; since that to both 
It stands in like request ? 
Gor - Why force you this? [Truly.] 

Vol. Because that now, it lies on you to speak 
To the people, not by your own instruction, 
Nor by the matter which your heart prompts you to, 
But with such words that are but roted in 
Your tongue though but bastards and syllables 
Of no allowance, to your bosom's truth. 
Now this no more dishonors you at all, 
Than to take in a town with gentle words, 
Which else would put you to your fortune, and 
The hazard of much blood. — [Hear.] 
I would dissemble with my nature, where 
My fortune and my friends at stake required 
I should do so in honor, /am in this; 
Your wife, your son, these senators, the nobles, 
And you will rather show our general lowts 
How you can frown, than spend a fawn upon them. 
For the inheritance of their loves, and safe-guard 
Of what that want might ruin [hear] 

Noble lady ! 
Come go with us. Speak fair : you may salve so, 
[It is the diseased common- weal we talk of still.] 
You may salve so, 
Not what is dangerous present, but the loss 
Of what is past. 

[That was this Doctor's method, who was a Doctor of Laws 
as well as Medicine, and very skilful in medicines 'palliative' 
as well as ' alterative.'] 

Vol I pry'thee now, my son, 

Go to them with this bonnet in thy hand, 
And thus far having stretched it (here be with them), 
Thy knee bussing the stones, for in such business 
Action is eloquence, and the eyes of the ignorant 
More learned than the ears — waving thy head, 
Which often thus, correcting thy stout heart, 
Now humble as the ripest mulberry 


That will not hold the handling : or say to them 

Thou art their soldier, and being bred in broils, 

Hast not the soft way, which thou dost confess 

Were Jit for thee to use, as they to claim, 

In asking their good loves ; but thou wilt frame 

Thyself forsooth hereafter theirs, so far 

As thou hast power and person.' 

' Pry'thee now 
Go and be ruled : although 1 know thou hadst rather 
Follow thine enemy in a fiery gulf 
Than natter him in a bower. Here is Cominius. 

\Enter Cominius.] 

Com. I have been V the market-place, and, sir, His fit 
You make strong party, or defend yourself 
By calmness, or by absence. All' s in anger. 
Men, Only fair speech. 

I think 'twill serve, if he 
Can thereto frame his spirit. 

Vol. He must, and will. 

Pry'thee now say you will and go about it. 

Cor. Must I go show them my unbarbed sconce 1 Must I 
With my base tongue, give to my noble heart 
A lie that it must bear ? Well, I will do't : 
Yet were there but this single plot to lose, 
This mould of Marcius, they, to dust should grind it, 
And throw it against the wind ; — to the market-place ; 
You have put me now to such a part, which never 
I shall discharge to the life. 

Com. Come, come, we'll prompt you. 

Vol. I pry'thee now, sweet son, as thou hast said, 

My praises made thee first a soldier [ — Volumnia—], so 
To have my praise for this, perform a part 
Thou hast not done before. 

Cor. Well, I must do't. 

Away my disposition, and possess me 
Some harlot's spirit ! My throat of war be turned, 
Which quired with my drum into a pipe] 
Small as an eunuch's or the virgin voice 
That babies lulls asleep ! The smiles of knaves 
Tent in my cheeks ; and school-boy's tears take up 
The glasses of my sight ! A beggar's tongue 
Make motion through my lips; and my arm'd knees 
Who bowed but in my stirrup, bend like his 
That hath received an alms. I will not do't, 


Lest I surcease to honor mine own truth, 

And by my body's action teach my mind 

A most inherent baseness. 
Vol. At thy choice, thenj 

To beg of thee, it is my more dishonor 

Than thou of them. Come all to ruin ; let 

Thy mother rather feel thy pride, than fear 

Thy dangerous stoutness, for I mock at death 

"With as big a heart as thou. Do as thou list. 

Thy valiantness was mine, thou suck'dst it from me, 

But owe thy pride thyself. 
Cor. Pray be content. 

Mother I am going to the market place, 

Chide me no more. I'll mountebank their loves, 

Cog their hearts from them, and come bach beloved 

Of all the trades in Rome. — [That he will — ] Look I am going. 

Commend me to my wife. I'll return Consul [ — That he will — ] 

Or never trust to what my tongue can do, 

T the way of flattery further. 
Vol. Do your will. [Exit] 

Com. Away, the tribunes do attend you : arm yourself 

To answer mildly ; for they are prepared 

With accusations as I hear more strong 

Than are upon you yet. 
Cor. The word is mildly : Pray you let us go, 

Let them accuse me by invention, I 

Will answer in mine honor. 
Men. Ay, but mildly. 

Cor. Well, mildly be it then, mildly. 

[The Forum. Enter Coriolanus and his party^ 

Tribune. Well, here he comes. 

Men. Calmly, I do beseech you. 

Cor. Ay, as an ostler, that for the poorest piece 

Will bear the knave by the volume. 

The honoured gods 

Keep Pome in safety, and the chairs of justice 

Supplied with worthy men ; plant love among us. 

Throng our large temples with the shows of peace, 

And not our streets with war. 
Sen. Amen ! Amen ! 

Men. A noble wish. 

Thus far the Poet : but the mask through which he speaks 
is wanted for other purposes, for these occasional auto-biogra- 


phical glimpses are but the side play of the great historical 
exhibition which is in progress here, and are introduced in 
entire subordination to its requisitions. 

It is, indeed, an old story into which all this Elizabethan 
history is crowded. That mimic scene in which the great 
historic instances in the science of human nature and 
human life were brought out with such scientific accuracy, and 
with such matchless artistic power and splendour, was, in fact, 
what the Poet himself, who ought to know, tells us it is; with 
so much emphasis,— not merely the mirror of nature in gene- 
ral, but the daguerreotype of the then yet living age, the 
plate which was able to give to the very body of it, its form and 
pressure. That is what it was. And what is more, it was the 
only Mirror, the only Spectator, the only Times, in which the 
times could get reflected and deliberated on then, with any 
degree of freedom and vivacity. And yet there were minds 
here in England then, as acute, as reflective, as able to lead the 
popular mind as those that compose our leaders and reviews to- 
day. There was a mind here then, reflecting not ( ages past ' 
only, but one that had taken its knowledge of the past from 
the present, that found ' in all men's lives,' a history figuring 
the nature of the times deceased; prophetic also: and this was 
the mind of the one who writes ' spirits are not finely touched 
but to fine issues/ 

They had to take old stories, — these sly, ambitious aspirants 
to power, who were not disposed to give up their natural right 
to dictate, for the lack of an organ, or because they found the 
proper insignia of their office usurped : it was necessary that 
they should take old stories, or invent new ones, ' to make those 
slights upon the banks of Thames, that so did take ' not ' Eliza 
and our James' only, but that people of whom ' Eliza and our 
James ' were only ' the outstretched shadows,' ' the monster/ of 
whose ' noise ' these sovereigns, as the author of this play took 
it, were ' but the horn.' 

They had to take old stories of one kind and another, as they 
happened to find them, and vamp them up to suit their pur- 
poses; stories, old or new, they did not much care which. 


Old and memorable ones, so memorable that the world herself 
with her great faculty of oblivion, could not forget them, but 
carried them in her mind from age to age, — stories so memor- 
able that all men knew them by heart, — so the author could 
find one to his purpose, — were best for some things, — for many 
things; but for others new ones must be invented; and cer- 
tainly there would be no difficulty as to that, for lack of gifts 
at least, in the mind whence these old ones were coming out 
so freshly, in the gloss of their new-coined immortality. 

It is, indeed, an old story that we have here, a story of that 
ancient Eome, whose ( just, free and flourishing state,' the author 
of this new science of policy confesses himself, — under his universal 
name, — so childishly enamoured of, that he interests himself in 
it to a degree of passion, though he ■ neither loves it in its birth 
or its decline? — [under its kings or its emperors.] — It is a story 
of Republican Rome, and the difference, the radical difference, 
between the civil magistracy which represented the Roman 
people, and that unconstitutional popular power which the 
popular tyranny creates, is by no means omitted in the exposi- 
tion. That difference, indeed, is that which makes the repre- 
sentation possible ; it is brought out and insisted on, ' theij 
choose their officers f it is a difference which is made much of, for 
it contains one of the radical points in the poetic intention. 

But without going into the argument, the large and com- 
prehensive argument, of this most rich and grave and splendid 
composition, crowded from the first line of it to the last, with 
the results of a political learning which has no match in letters, 
which had none then, which has none now; no, or the world 
would be in another case than it is, for it is a political learning 
which has its roots in the new philosophy, it is grounded in 
the philosophy of the nature of things, it is radical as the 
Prima Philosophia, — without attempting to exhaust the mean- 
ing of a work embodying through all its unsurpassed vigor 
and vivacity of poetic representation, the new philosophic 
statesman's ripest lore, the patient fruits of ' observation 
strange,' — without going into his argument of the whole, 
the reader who merely wishes to see for himself, at a glance, 


in a word, as a matter of curiosity merely; whether the view 
here given of the political sagacity and prescience of the 
Elizabethan Man of Letters, is in the least chargeable with 
exaggeration, has only to look at the context of that revolu- 
tionary speech and proposal, that revolutionary burst of elo- 
quence which has been here claimed as a proper historical issue of 
the age of Elizabeth. He will not have to read very far to 
satisfy himself as to that. It will be necessary, indeed, for 
that purpose, that he should have eyes in his head, eyes not 
purely idiotic, but with the ordinary amount of human specu- 
lation in them, and, moreover, it will be necessary that he 
should use them, — as eyes are ordinarily used in such cases, — 
nothing more. But unfortunately this is just the kind of 
scrutiny which nobody has been able to bestow on this work 
hitherto, on account of those historical obstructions with 
which, at the time it was written, it was found necessary to 
guard such discussions, discussions running into such delicate 
questions in a manner so essentially incomparably free. 

For, in fact, there is no plainer piece of English extant, 
when one comes to look at it. All that has been claimed in 
the Historical part of this work,* may be found here without 
any research, on the mere surface of the dialogue. Looking 
at it never so obliquely, with never so small a fraction of an 
eye, one cannot help seeing it. 

The reader who would possess himself of the utmost mean- 
ing of these passages, one who would comprehend their farthest 
reaches, must indeed be content to wait until he can carry 
with him into all the parts that knowledge of the author's 
general intention in this work, which only a most thorough 
and careful study of it will yield. 

It is, indeed, a work in which the whole question of govern- 
ment is seized at its source — one in which the whole difficulty 
of it is grappled with unflinching courage and veracity. It 
is a work in which that question of classes in the state, which 
lies on the surface of it, is treated in a general, and not exclu- 

* Not published in this volume. 


sive manner; or, where the treatment is narrowed and pointed, 
as it is throughout in the running commentary, it is narrowed 
and pointed to the question of the then yet living age, and to 
those momentous developments of it which, 'in their weak 
beginnings,' the philosophic eye had detected, and not to a 
state of things which had to cease before the first Punic war 
could be begun. 

The question of classes, and their respective claims in 
governments, is indeed incidentally treated here, but in this 
author's own distinctive manner, which is one that is sure to 
take out, always — even in his lightest, most sportive handling 
— the heart of his subject, so as to leave little else but glean- 
ings to the author who follows in that track hereafter. 

For this is one of those unsurpassably daring productions of 
the Elizabethan Muse, which, after long experiment, encou- 
raged by that protracted immunity from suspicion, and stimu- 
lated by the hurrying on of the great crisis, it threw out 
at last in the face and eyes of tyranny, Things which are but 
intimated in the earlier plays — political allusions, which are 
brought out there amid crackling volleys of conceits, under 
cover of a battery of quips and jests — political doctrines, which 
lie there wrapped in thickest involutions of philosophic sub- 
tleties, are all unlocked and open here on the surface: he that 
runs may take them if he will. 




1 Would you proceed especially against Caius Marcius?' 
' Against him first : He 's a very dog to the commonalty.' 

TN this exhibition of the social orders to which human society 
■*- instinctively tends, and that so-called state into which 
human combinations in barbaric ages rudely settles, the prin- 
ciple of the combination — the principle of gradation, and 
subjection, and permanence — is called in question, and ex- 
posed as a purely instinctive principle, as, in fact, only a prin- 
ciple of revolution disguised ; and a higher one, the distinctively 
human element, the principle of KIND, is now, for the first 
time, demanded on scientific grounds, as the essential principle 
of any permanent human combination — as the natural princi- 
ple, the only one which the science of nature can recognise as 
a principle of STATE. 

It is the peace principle which this great scientific war- 
hater and captain of the ages of peace is in search of, with his 
new organum ; though he is philosopher enough to know that, in 
diseased states, wars are nature's own rude remedies, her bar- 
barous surgery, for evils yet more unendurable. He has found 
himself chosen a justice of the peace — the world's peace; and 
it is the principle of permanence, of law and subjection — in a 
word, it is the principle of state, as opposed to revolution and 
dissolution — which he is judging of in behalf of his kind. 
And he makes a business of it. He goes about in his own 
fashion. He gets up this great war -piece on purpose to 
find it. 

He has got a state on his stage, which is ceasing to be a 
state at the moment in which he shows it to us; a state 


which has the war principle — the principle of conquest within 
no longer working in it insidiously as government, but de- 
veloped as war; for it has just overstepped the endurable 
point in its mastery. It is a revolution that is coming off when 
the curtain rises. For the government has been gnawing the 
Soman common- weal at home, with those same teeth it ravened 
the Volscians with abroad, till it has reached the vitals at last, 
and the common-weal has betaken itself to the Volscian's 
weapons: — the people have risen. They are all out when 
the play begins on an armed hunt for their rat-like, gnawing, 
corn-consuming rulers. They are determined to * kill them,* 
and have ' corn at their own price.' { If the wars eat us not, 
they will,' is the word; f and there's all THE LOVE they bear 
us.' * Rome and her rats are at the point of battle/ cries the 
Poet. The one side shall have bale, is his prophecy. * Without 
good nature, he says elsewhere, using the term good in its 
scientific sense, 'men are only a nobler kind of vermin'; 
and he makes a most unsparing application of this principle in 
his criticisms. Many a splendid historical figure is made to 
show its teeth, and rat-like mien and propensities, through all 
the splendour of its disguises, merely by the application of his 
simple philosophical tests. For the question, as he puts it, is 
the question between animal instinct, between mere appetite, 
and reason; and the question incidentally arises in the course 
of the exhibition, whether the common- weal, when it comes 
to anything like common-sense, is going to stand being 
gnawed in this way, for the benefit of any individual, or clique, 
or party. 

For the ground on which the classes or estates, and their 
respective claims to the government, are tried here, is the 
ground of the common- weal ; and the question as to the fitness 
of any existing class in the state for an exclusive, unlimited 
control of the welfare of the whole, is more than suggested. 
That which stops short of the weal of the whole for its end, 
is that which is under criticism here ; and whether it exist in 
* the one,' or ( the few,' or * the many/ — and these are the 
terms that are employed here, — whether it exist in the civil 

A A 



magistracy, sustained by a popular submission, or in the power 
of the victorious military chief, at the head of his still extant 
and resistless armament, it is necessarily rejected as a principle 
of sovereignty and permanence, in this purely scientific view of 
the human conditions of it. It is a question which this author 
handles with a thorough impartiality, in all his political treatises, 
let them come in what name and form they will, with more or 
less clearness, indeed, as the circumstances seem to dictate. 

But nowhere is the whole history of the military government, 
collected from the obscurity of the past, and brought out with 
such inflexible design - with such vividness and strength of 
historic exhibition, as it is here. It is traced to its beginnings 
in the distinctions which nature herself creates, — those phy- 
sical, and moral, and intellectual distinctions, with which she 
crowns, in her happier moods, the large resplendent brows of 
her born kings and masters. It is traced from its origin in the 
crowning of the victorious chief on the field of battle, to the 
moment in which the sword of military conquest is turned 
back on the conquerors by the chief into whose hands they 
gave it; and the sword of conquest abroad becomes, at home, 
the sword of state. 

Nay, this Play goes farther, and embraces the contingency 
of a foreign rule — one, too, in which the conqueror takes his 
surname from the conquest; it brings home ' the enemy of the 
whole state,' as a king, in triumph to the capital, whose streets 
he has filled with mourning; and though the author does not 
tell us in this case, at he does in another, that the nation was 
awed 'with an offertory of standards' in the temple, and that 
' orisons and Te Deums were again sung,' — the victor 'not 
meaning that the people should forget too soon that he came in 
by battle'— points, not much short of that, in the way of speciality , 
are not wanting. More than one conqueror, indeed, looks out 
from this old chieftain's Koman casque. ' There is a little touch 
of Harry in the scene ' ; and though the author goes out of his 
way to tell us that 'he must by no means say his hero is 
covetous,' it will not be the Elizabethan Philosopher's fault, 
if we do not know which Harry it is that says — 


' If you have writ your annals true, 'tis there, 
That like an eagle in a dove-cote, I 
Flutter'd your Volsces' in Corioli : 
Alone, I did it. 

* * * * 

Auf. Read it, noble lords ; 

But tell the traitor, in the highest degree 

He hath abused your powers. 
Cor. Traitor ! — How now ? 
Auf. Ay, traitor, Marcius. 

Cor. Marcius / 

Auf. Ay, Marcius, Caius Marcius ; Dost thou think 

I'll grace thee with that robbery, thy stolen name 

Coriolanus in Corioli ?' — [the conqueror in the conquest.] 

Never, indeed, was ' the garland of war/ whether glistening 
freshly on the hero's brow on the fresh battle-field, or whether 
glittering, transmuted into civic gold and gems, on the brow of 
his hereditary successor, subjected to such a searching process 
before, as that with which the Poet, under cover of an aris- 
tocrat's pretensions, and especially under cover of his preten- 
sions to an elective magistracy, can venture to test it. 

This hero, who ( speaks of the people as if he were a god to 
punish, and not a man of their infirmity,' is on trial for that 
pretension from the first scene of this Play to the last. The 
author has, indeed, his own views of the fickle, ignorant, 
foolish multitude, — such views as any one, who had occasion 
to experiment on it personally, in the age of Elizabeth, would 
not lack the means of acquiring; and amidst those ebullitions 
of wrath, which he pours from his haughty hero's lips, one 
hears at times a tone that sounds a little like some other things 
from the same source, as if the author had himself, in some 
way, been brought to look at the subject from a point of ob- 
servation, not altogether unlike that from which his hero 
speaks; or as if he might, at least, have known how to sym- 
pathise with the haughty and unbending nature, that had been 
brought into such deadly collision with it. But in the dramatic 
representation, though it is far from being a flattering one, we 
listen in vain for any echo of this sentiment. In its rich and 
kindly humour there is no sneer, no satire. It is the loving 

A A 2 


eye of nature's own great pupil — it is the kindly human eye, 
that comes near enough to point those jests, and paint so truly; 
there is a great human heart here in the scene embracing 
the lowly. It was the heart that was putting forth then 
its silent but resistless energies into the ages of the human 
advancement, to take up the despised and rejected masses of 
men from their misery, and make of them truly one kind and 


And though he has had, indeed, his own private expe- 
riences with the multitude, and the passions are, as he inti- 
mates—at least as strong in him as in another, he has his own 
view, also, of the common pitifulness and weakness of the 
human con