Part 10 out of 13
_Two Ladies_. Nay, 't is true.
_Vol_. Look! Here's a letter from him; _the state_ hath another,
_his wife_ another, and I think there's one at home for _you_.
_Men_. I will make my very house reel to night:--A letter for me?
_The Wife_. Yes, certainly, there a letter for you; I saw it.
_Men_. A letter for me! It gives me an estate of seven years'
health; in which time I will make a lip at the physician ... Is he
not wounded? He was wont to come home wounded.
_The Wife_. Oh, no, no, no!
_The Mother_. Oh, he is wounded. I thank the gods for 't.
_Men_. So do I, too, if it be not too much:--_Brings a victory in
his pocket_: The wounds become him.
_Vol. On's brow_, Menenius: he comes the third time home with _the
_Men_.... Is the senate possessed of this?
_Vol_. Good ladies, let's go! Yes, yes, yes: the senate has letters
from the general, wherein he gives _my son_ the whole name of the
_Valeria_. In truth, there's wondrous things spoke of him.
_Men_. Wondrous, ay, I warrant you...
_Vir_. The gods grant them true!
_Vol_. True? Pow wow!
_Men_. True? I'll be sworn they are true. Where's he wounded?
[To the Tribunes, who _come forward_.] Marcius is coming home: he
has--_more cause to be_--PROUD.--Where is he wounded?
_Vol_. I' the shoulder, and i' the left arm: _There will be large
cicatrices to shew the people_, when he shall stand FOR HIS PLACE.
He received in the repulse of _Tarquin_ seven hurts i' the body.
_Men. One_ in the neck, and _two_ in the thigh,--there's _nine_
that _I_ know.
_Vol_. He had, before this last expedition, _twenty-five_ wounds
_Men_. Now it's _twenty-seven_: every gash was an enemy's grave.
[Of course there is no satire intended here at all. This is a Poet who
does not know what he is about.]
But now we come to the blank verse again; for at this moment the shout
that announces the hero's entrance is heard; and, mingling with it,
the martial tones of victory.
_shout and flourish._
Hark! the trumpets!
_Vol. These are the ushers of Marcius: before him_
He carries noise; _behind him he leaves tears_.
Death, that dark spirit, in's nervy arm doth lie;
Which being advanced, declines, and _then men die_.
Then comes the imposing military pageant. A sennet. Trumpets sound,
and enter the hero, '_crowned_' with his _oaken_ garland, sustained by
the generals on either hand, with the victorious soldiers, and a
herald proclaiming before him his victory.
_Herald_. Know, Rome, that all alone Marcius did fight
Within Corioli's gates: where he hath won
With fame, a name to Caius Marcius; these
In honour follows Coriolanus:
Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!
But while Rome is listening to this great story, and the people are
shouting his name, the demi-god catches sight of his mother and of his
wife; and full of private duty and affection, he forgets his state,
his garland stoops, the conqueror is on his knee, in filial
submission. The woman had said truly, '_my boy_ Marcius is coming
home.' And when he greets the weeping Virgilia, who cannot speak but
with her tears, these are the words with which he measures that
Would'st thou have laughed, had I come coffin'd home,
That weep'st to see me triumph? Ah, my dear,
_Such eyes_ the _widows_ in Corioli wear,
And _mothers_ that lack _sons_.
No; these are the Poet's words, rather--'such eyes.'
_Such_ eyes. It was the Poet who could look through the
barriers--those hitherto impervious barriers of an _enemy's town_, and
see in it, at that moment, eyes as beautiful--eyes that had been
'dove's eyes,' too, to those who had loved them, wet with other
tears,--mothers that loved _their_ sons, and 'lacked them'; it was the
Poet to whose _human_ sense those hard hostile walls dissolved and
cleared away, till he could see the Volscian wives clasping _their_
loves, as they 'came coffined home'; it was the Poet who dared to
stain the joy and triumph of that fond meeting, the glory and pride of
that triumphal entry, with those _human_ thoughts; it was he who heard
above the roll of the drum, and the swell of the clarions and
trumpets, and the shout of the rejoicing multitude above the herald's
voice--the groans of mortal anguish in the field, the cries of human
sorrow in the city, the shrieks of mothers that lacked sons, the
greetings of wives whose loves '_came coffined home_.' And he does not
mind aggravating the intense selfishness, and narrowness, and
stolidity of these private passions and affections of the individual
to a truly unnatural and diabolical intensity, by charging on poor
Volumnia and Marcius his own reminiscences; as if they could have
dared to heighten their joy at that moment by counting its cost--as if
they could have looked in the face--as if they could have
comprehended, in its actual dimensions, the theme of their vulgar,
_narrow_, unlearned exultation. But this is a trick this author is
much given to, we shall find, when we come to study him carefully. He
is not scrupulous on such points. He has a tolerable sense of the
fitness of things, too. His dramatic conscience is as nice as another
man's; but he is always ready to sin against it, when he sees reason.
He is much like his own Mr. Slender in one respect, 'he will do
anything in reason'; and his theory of the Chief End of Man appears to
differ essentially from the one which our modern Doctors of '_Art_'
propound incidentally in their criticisms. It is the mother who cries,
when she catches the swell of the trumpets that announce her son's
approach--'_These_ are the ushers of Marcius. Before him he carries
noise.' It is the Poet who adds, _sotto voce, 'behind him he leaves
'You are three,' says Menenius, after some further prolongation of
these private demonstrations, addressing himself to the three
You are three,
That Rome _should_ dote on: yet, _by the faith_ of _men_,
We _have_ some old crab-trees here at home, that will _not_
Be grafted to your relish. Yet WELCOME, WARRIORS:
We call a _nettle_ but a _nettle_; and
The _faults_ of fools, but _folly_.
But the herald is driving on the crowd; and considering how very
public the occasion is, and how very, very private and personal all
this chat is, it does appear to have stopped the way long enough. Thus
hurried, the hero gives hastily a hand 'to HIS WIFE and MOTHER' [stage
direction], but stops to say a word or two more, which has the merit
of being at least to the POET'S purpose, though the common-weal may
appear to be lost sight of in the HERO'S a little; and that delicacy
and reserve of manner, that modesty of nature, which is the
characteristic of this Poet's art, serves here, as elsewhere, to
disguise the internal continuities of the poetic design. The careless
eye will not track it in these finer touches. 'Where some
stretched-mouth rascal' would have roared you out his prescribed
moral, 'outscolding Termagant' with it, the Poet, who is the poet of
truth, and who would have such fellows 'whipped' out of the sacred
places of Art, with a large or small cord, as the case may be, is
content to bring in his '_delicate burdens_,' or to keep sight of
them, at least, with some such reference to them as this--
'Ere in _our own house_ I do shade my head,
The good patricians must be visited;
From whom I have received not only greetings
But with them change of honours'--[_change_.]
That is his visit to the state-house which he is speaking of. It is
the Capitol which is put down in _his_ plan of the city on his way to
his own house. 'The state has a letter from him, and his wife another;
and I think there is one for you, too.'
Volumnia understands that delicate intimation as to _the change_ of
honours, and in return, takes occasion to express to him, on the spot,
her views about the consulship, and the use to which the new
cicatrices are to be converted.
Coriolanus replies to this in words that admit, as this Poet's words
often do, of a double construction; for the Poet is, indeed, lurking
under all this. He is always present, and he often slips in a word for
himself, when his characters are busy, and thinking of their own parts
only. He is very apt to make use of occasions for emphasis, to put in
_one word_ for his speakers, and _two_ for himself. It is irregular,
but he does not stand much upon precedents; it was the only way he had
of writing his life then--
'Know, good mother,
I had rather be _their servant in my way_,
Than _sway with them in theirs_.
_Cominius. On, to_ THE CAPITOL.'
[_Flourish Cornets. Exeunt in state, as before. The Tribunes
And when the great pageant has moved on 'in state, as before'--when
the shouts of the people, and the triumphal swell and din, have died
away, this is the manner in which our two tribunes look at each other.
They know their voices would not make so much as a ripple, at that
moment, in the tide of that great sea of popular ignorance, which it
is their business to sway,--the tide which is setting all one way
then, in one of _its_ monstrous swells, and bearing every living thing
with it,--the tide which is taking the military hero '_On to_ THE
CAPITOL.' But though they cannot then oppose it, they can note it. And
it is thus that they register that popular confirmation at home, of
the soldier's vote on the field.
It is a picture of the hero's return, good for all ages in its living
outline, composed in that 'charactery' which lays the past and future
open. It is a picture good for the Roman hero's entry; 'and were now
the general of our gracious empress, as in _good time he may_, from
Ireland coming, bringing _rebellion_ broached _on his sword_'--would
it, or would it not, suit him?
It is a picture of the hero's return, good for all ages in its main
feature, for all the ages, at least of a brutish popular ignorance, of
a merely instinctive human growth and formation; but it is a picture
taken from the life,--caught,--detained with the secret of that
palette, whose secret none has yet found, and the detail is all, not
_Roman_, but, _Elizabethan_. Those '_variable complexions_,' that one
sees, 'smothering the stalls, bulks, windows, filling the leads,' and
roofs, even to the 'ridges,' all agreeing in one expression, are
Elizabethan. It is an Elizabethan crowd that we have got into, in some
way, and it is worth noting if it were only for that. There goes 'the
seld shown flamen, _puffing_ his way to _win a vulgar station_,' here
is a 'veiled dame' who lets us see that 'war of white and damask in
her nicely gawded cheeks,' a moment;--look at that 'kitchen malkin,'
peering over the wall there with 'her richest lockram' 'pinned on her
reechy neck,' eyeing the hero as he passes; and look at this poor baby
here, this Elizabethan baby, saved, conserved alive, crying himself
'into a _rapture_' while his 'prattling nurse' has ears and eyes for
the hero only, as 'she chats him.' Look at them all, for every
creature you see here, from 'the seld shown flamen' to the 'kitchen
malkin,' belongs soul and body to 'our gracious Empress,' and Essex
and Raleigh are still winning their garlands of the war,--that is when
the scene is taken, but not when it was put in its place and framed in
this composition; for their game was up ere then. England preferred
old heroes and their claims to new ones. 'I fear there will a worse
come in his place,' was the cautious instinct.
_Bru_. All tongues speak of him, and the _bleared sights
Are spectacled to see him_: Your _prattling_ nurse
_Into a rapture lets her baby cry_,
While she chats him: the kitchin malkin pins
Her richest lockram 'bout her reechy neck.
_Clambering the walls_ to eye him: stalls, bulks, windows,
Are smother'd up, leads fill'd, and ridges horsed
With _variable complexions; all agreeing
In earnestness to see him: seld-shown flamens
Do press among the popular throng, and puff
To win a vulgar station_: our veil'd dames
Commit the war of white and damask, in
Their nicely-gawded cheeks to the wanton spoil
Of Phoebus' burning kisses: such a pother,
As if that whatsoever god, who leads him,
Were slyly crept into his human powers,
And gave him graceful posture.
_Sic_. On the sudden,
I warrant him consul.
_Bru. Then our office may,
During his power, go sleep._
_Sic. He cannot temperately transport his honours
.... but will
Lose that he hath won._
_Cru. In that there's comfort._
_Sic_. Doubt not, the _commoners, for whom we stand_,--
[While they resolve upon the measures to be taken, which we shall note
elsewhere, a messenger enters.]
_Bru_. What's the matter?
_Mess_. You are sent for to the Capitol. 'Tis thought,
That _Marcius_ shall be consul: I have seen
The dumb men throng to see him, and the blind
To hear him speak: The matrons flung their gloves,
_Ladies_ and _maids_ the _scarfs_ and _handkerchiefs_,
Upon him as he passed: _the nobles bended,
As to Jove's statue; and the commons made
A shower, and thunder_, with their _caps, and shouts_:
I never saw the like.
_Bru. Lets to the Capitol;
And carry_ with us _ears and eyes for_ THE TIME,
_But hearts_ for the EVENT.
[And let us to the Capitol also, and hear the civic claim of the oaken
garland, the military claim to dispose of the _common-weal_, as set
forth by one who is himself a general 'commander-in-chief' of Rome's
armies, and see whether or no the Poet's own doubtful cheer on the
battle-field has any echo in this place.]
_Com. It is held,
That valour is the chiefest virtue_, and
_Most dignifies the haver_: IF IT BE,
_The man I speak_ of cannot in the world
Be _singly_ counterpois'd.
[If it be? And he goes on to tell a story which fits, in all its
points, a great hero, a true chieftain, brave as heroes of old
romance, who lived when this was written, concluding thus--]
_Com_. He _stopped the fliers_;
And, by his rare example, made the coward
Turn terror into sport: _as waves before
A vessel under sail_, SO MEN OBEY'D,
_And fell below his stem_: his sword, (death's stamp.)
Where it did mark, it took; _from face to foot
He was a thing of blood, whose every motion
Was timed with dying cries_: alone he enter'd
The mortal gate o'the city, which he painted
With shunless destiny, aidless came off,
And with a sudden re-enforcement struck
Corioli, like a planet: now, ALL'S HIS:
When by and by the din of war 'gan pierce
His ready sense: then straight _his doubled spirit_
Re-quicken'd what in flesh was fatigate,
And to the battle came he; where he did
_Run reeking o'er the lives of men, as if
'Twere a perpetual spoil_: and _till we call'd
Both field and city ours, he never stood
To ease his breast with panting_.
_Men_. WORTHY MAN!
_First Sen. He cannot but with measure fit the honours
Which we devise him._
[One more quality, however, his pleader insists on, as additional
proof of this '_fitness_' for though it is a negative one, its
opposite had not been reckoned among the kingly virtues, and the poet
takes some pains to bring that opposite quality into relief,
throughout, by this negative.]
_Com_. Our _spoils_ he kicked at;
And look'd upon things precious, as they were
The common muck o' the world.
_Men_. HE'S RIGHT NOBLE;
_Let him be call'd for._
_First Sen. Call for Coriolanus._
_Off. He doth appear._
At the opening of this scene, two officers appeared on the stage,
'_laying cushions_,' for this is one of those specimens of the new
method of investigation applied to the noblest subjects, 'which
represents, as it were, _to the eye_, the whole order of the
invention,' and into the Capitol stalks now the casque, for this is
that 'step from the casque to the cushion' which the Poet is
considering in the abstract; but it does not suit his purpose to treat
of it in these abstract terms merely, because 'reason cannot be so
sensible.' This, too, is one of those grand historic moments which
this new, select, prepared history must represent to the eye in all
its momentous historic splendour, for this is the kind of popular
instruction which reproduces the past, which represents the historic
event, not in perspective, but as present. And this is the 'business,'
and this is the play in which we are told 'action is eloquence, and
the eyes of the ignorant more learned than the ears.'
The seats of state are prepared for him. 'Call _Coriolanus_,' is the
senate's word. The conqueror's step is heard. 'He does appear.'
_Men_. The senate, Coriolanus, are well pleased
To make thee consul.
_Cor_. I do owe them still
My life, and services.
_Men_. IT THEN REMAINS,
THAT YOU DO SPEAK TO THE PEOPLE.
_Cor_. I do beseech you,
_Let me overleap that custom_.
_Sic. Sir, the people
Must have their voices; neither will they bate
One jot of their ceremony._
_Men. Put them not to't_:--[his friendly adviser says.]
Pray you, go fit you _to the custom_; and
Take to you, _as your predecessors have_,
Your honour, with _your form_.
_Cor_. It is a part
That I shall blush in acting, _and might well
Be taken from the people_.
_Bru. Mark you that!_
_Cor_. To brag unto them,--_Thus I did, and thus_;--
Show them the unaching scars which I should hide,
As if I had received _them for the hire_
Of _their breath only_.
THE POPULAR ELECTION.
'The greater part carries it.
If he would but incline to the people,
There never was a worthier man.'
And yet, after all, that is what he wants for them, and must have or
he is nothing; for as the Poet tells us elsewhere, 'our monarchs and
our outstretched heroes are but the beggar's shadows.' The difficulty
is, that he wishes to take his 'hire' in some more quiet way, without
being rudely reminded of the nature of the transaction.
But the Poet's toils are about him. The man of science has caught the
hero, the king in germ; the dragon wings are not yet spread. He wishes
to exhibit the embryo monarch in this particular stage of his
development, and the scientific process proceeds with as little regard
to the victim's wishes, as if he were indeed that humble product of
nature to which the Poet likens him. 'There's a differency between a
grub and a butterfly; yet your butterfly was a grub.' Just on that
step between 'the casque and the cushion,' the philosopher arrests
For this history denotes, as we have seen, a foregone conclusion. The
scholar has privately anatomized in his study the dragon's wings, and
this theatrical synthesis is designed to be an instructive one. He
wishes to show, in a palpable form, what _is_ and what is _not_,
essential to the mechanism of that greatness which, though it presents
itself to the eye in the contemptible physique, and moral infirmity
and pettiness of the human individual, is yet clothed with powers so
monstrous, so real, so terrific, that all men are afflicted with
them;--this thing in which 'the conditions of a man are so altered,'
this thing which 'has grown from man to dragon, which is more than a
creeping thing.' He will show that after all it is nothing in the
world but the _popular power_ itself, the power of the people
instinctively, unscientifically and unartistically exercised.
The Poet has analysed that so potent name by which men call it, and he
will show upon his stage, by that same method which his followers have
made familiar to us, in other departments of investigation, the
elements of its power. He will let us see how it was those despised
'mechanics,' those 'poor citizens,' with their strong arms and voices,
who were throwing themselves,--in their enthusiasm,--en-masse into
that engine, and only asking to be welded in it; that would have made
of this citizen a thing so terrific. He will show how, after all, it
was the despised _commons_ who were making of that citizen a king, of
that soldier a monarch,--who were changing with the alchemy of the
'shower and thunder they made with their caps and voices,' his oak
leaves and acorns, into gold and jewels.
He will show it on the platform of a state, where that vote is
formally and constitutionally given, and not in a state where it is
only a virtual and tacit one. He will show it in detail. He will cause
the multitude to be _represented_, and pass by _twos_ and _threes_
across his stage, and compel the haughty chief, the would be ruler, to
beg of them, individually, their suffrages, and show them his
claim,--such as it is, the '_unaching scars that he should hide_.'
It is to this Poet's purpose to exhibit that despised element in the
state, which the popular submission creates, that unnoticed element of
the common suffrage which looks so smooth on its surface, which seems
to the haughty chief so little worth his notice, when it goes his way
and bears him on its crest. But the experimenter will undertake to
show what it is by ruffling it, by instigating this chief to put
himself in the madness of his private affections, in the frenzy of his
pride, into open opposition with it. He will show us what it is by
playing with it. He will wake it from its unvisited depths, and bid
his hero strive with it.
He will show what that popular consent, or the consent of 'the
commons' amounts to, in the king-making process, by _omitting it_ or
by _withdrawing it_, before it is too late to withdraw it;--according
to the now well-known rules of that new art of scientific
investigation, which was then getting worked out and cleared, from
this author's own methods of investigation. For it was because this
faculty was in him, so unlike what it was in others, that he was able
to write that science of it, by which other men, stepping into his
armour, have been able to achieve so much.
He will show how those dragon teeth and claws, that were just getting
the steel into them, which would have armed that single will against
the whole, and its _weal_, crumble for the lack of it; he will show us
the new-fledged wings, with all their fresh gauds, collapsing and
dissolving with that popular withdrawal. He will continue the process,
till there is nothing left of all that gorgeous state pageant, which
came in with the flourish of trumpets and the voice of the herald long
and loud, and the echoing thunder of the commons, but a poor grub of a
man, in his native conditions, a private citizen, denied even the
common privilege of citizenship,--with only his wife and his mother
and a friend or two, to cling to him,--turned out of the city gates,
to seek his fortune.
But that is the moment in which the Poet ventures to bring out a
little more fully, in the form of positive statement, that latent
affirmation, that definition of the true nobility which underlies all
the play and glistens through it in many a fine, but hitherto,
unnoticed point; that affirmation which all these negatives conclude
in, that latent idea of the true personal greatness and its essential
relation to the common-weal and the state, which is the predominant
idea of the play, which shapes all the criticism and points all the
satire of it. It is there that the true hero speaks out for a moment
from the lips of that old military heroism, of a greatness which does
not cease when the wings of state drop off from it, of an honour that
takes no stain though all the human voices join to sully it,--the
dignity that rises and soars and gains the point of immutability, when
all the world would have it under foot. But in that nobility men need
training,--_scientific training_. The instinctive, unartistic human
growth, or the empirical unscientific arts of culture, give but a
vulgar counterfeit of it, or at best a poor, sickly, distorted,
convulsive, unsatisfactory type of it, for 'being gentle,
wounded,'--(and it is gentility and nobility and the true aristocracy
that we speak of here,)--'craves a NOBLE CUNNING;' so the old military
chieftain tells us. It is a _cunning_ which his author does not put
_him_ upon practising personally. Practically he represents another
school of heroes. It is the _word_ of that higher heroism in which he
was himself wanting, it is the criticism on his own part, it is the
affirmation which all this grand historic negative is always pointing
to, which the author borrows his lips to utter.
The result in this case, the overthrow of the military hero on his way
to the chair of state, is occasioned by the _premature_ arrogance to
which his passionate nature impels him. For his fiery disposition
refuses to obey the decision of his will, and overleaps in its
passion, all the barriers of that policy which his calmer moments had
prescribed. The result is occasioned by his open display of his
contempt for the people, before he had as yet mastered the
organizations which would make that display, in an unenlightened age,
perhaps, a safe one.
This point of time is much insisted on, and emphasized.
'Let them pull all about mine ears,' cries the hero, as he enters his
own house, after his first encounter with the multitude in their
'Let them pull all about mine ears, present me
_Death on the wheel_, or at wild horses' heels,
Or pile ten hills on the Tarpeian rock
That the precipitation might down stretch
Below the beam of sight, yet will I still--
_Be_ THUS _to them_.'
[For that is the sublime conclusion of these heroics.]
'You do the _nobler_,' responds the Coryphaeus of that chorus of
patricians who accompany him home, and who ought, of course, to be
judges of nobility. But there is another approbation wanted. Volumnia
is there; but she listens in silence. 'I muse,' he continues--
'I muse my mother
Does not approve me further--who was wont
To call them woollen vassals, _things created
To buy and sell with groats_; to show bare heads
In _congregations_, to YAWN, be STILL, AND WONDER,
When one but of my _ordinance_ stood up
To speak of PEACE or WAR. I talk of you [_to Volumnia_.]
Why did you wish me milder? Would you have me
_False to my nature_? [_Softly_] Either say I _play_
The man I am.
_Vol_. O sir, sir, sir,
I would have had you _put your power well on_,
Ere you had worn it out.
_Cor_. Let go.
_Vol_. Lesser had been
The _thwarting of your dispositions_, IF
You had not shown them _how_ you were _disposed_
Ere they lacked _power_ to cross you.
_Cor_. Let them HANG!
_Vol_. _Ay, and_ BURN _too_!
For that was the '_disposition_' which these Commons, if they had
waited but a little longer, might have 'lacked _power to cross_.' That
was the disposition they had thwarted.
But then it is necessary to our purpose, as it was to the author's, to
notice that the collision in this case is a _forced_ one. It grows by
plot. The people are _put up to it_. For there are men in that
commonwealth who are competent to instruct the Commons in the doctrine
of the _common weal_, and who are carefully and perseveringly applying
themselves to that task; though they are men who know how to bide
their time, and they will wait till the soaring insolence of the hero
is brought into open collision with that enlightened popular will.
They will wait till the military hero's quarrel with the commonwealth
breaks out anew. For they know that it lies in the nature of things,
and cannot but occur. The eclat of his victory, and the military pride
of the nation, films it over for a time; but the quarrel is a radical
one, and cannot be healed.
For this chief of soldiers, and would-be head and ruler of the state
knows no _commonwealth_. His soul is not large enough to admit of that
conception. The walls of ignorance, that he shuts himself up in,
darken and narrow his world to the sphere of his own _microcosm_,--
and, therefore, there is a natural war between the world and him. The
_state_ of universal subjection, on the part of others, to his single
exclusive passions and affections, the state in which the whole is
sacrificed to the part, is the only state that will satisfy him. That
is the peace he is disposed to conquer; that is the consummation with
which he would _stay_; that is _his_ notion of _state_. When that
consummation is attained, or when such an approximation to it as he
judges to be within his reach, is attained, then, and not till then,
he is for _conservation_;--_revolution then_ is sin; but, till then he
will have change and overturning--he will fill the earth with rapine,
and fire, and slaughter. But this is just the peace and war principle,
which this man, who proposes a durable and solid peace, and the true
state, a state constructed with reference to true definitions and
axioms,--this is the peace and war principle which the man of science,
on scientific grounds, objects to. 'He likes nor peace nor war' on
those terms. The conclusions he has framed from those solid premises
which he finds in the nature of things, makes him the leader of the
opposition in both cases. In one way or another he will make war on
that peace; he will kindle the revolutionary fires against that
conservation. In one way or another, in one age or another, he will
silence that war with all its pomp and circumstance, with all the din
of its fifes, and drums, and trumpets. He will make over to the
ignominy of ignorant and barbaric ages,--'for we call a nettle but a
nettle,' he will turn into a forgotten pageant of the rude, early,
instinctive ages, the yet brutal ages of an undeveloped humanity, that
triumphant reception at home, of the Conqueror of Foreign States. He
will undermine, in all the states, the ethics and religion of brute
force, till men shall grow sick, at last, of the old, rusty, bygone
trumpery of its insignia, and say, 'Take away those baubles.'
But the hero that we deal with here, is but the pure negation of that
heroism which his author conceives of, aspires to, and will have,
historical, which he defines as the pattern of man's nature in all
men. This one knows no _common_-wealth; the wealth that is wealth in
his eyes, is all his own; the weal that he conceives of, is the weal
that is warm at his own heart only. At best he can go out of his
particular only as far as the limits of his own hearthstone, or the
limits of his clique or caste. And in his selfish passion, when that
demands it, he will sacrifice the nearest to him. As to the Commons,
they are 'but things to buy and sell with groats,' a herd, a mass, a
machine, to be informed with his single will, to be subordinated to
his single wishes; in peace enduring the gnawings of hunger, that the
garners their toil has filled may overflow for him,--enduring the
badges of a degradation which blots out the essential humanity in
them, to feed his pride;--in war offered up in droves, to win the
garland of the war for him. That is the old hero's commonwealth. His
small brain, his brutish head, could conceive no other. The ages in
which he ruled the world with his instincts, with his fox-like
cunning, with his wolfish fury, with his dog-like ravening,--those
brute ages could know no other.
But it is the sturdy European race that the hero has to deal with
here; and though, in the moment of victory, it is ready always to
chain itself to the conqueror's car, and, in the exultation of
conquest, and love for the conqueror, fastens on itself, with joy, the
fetters of ages, this quarrel is always breaking out in it anew: it
does not like being governed with the edge of the sword;--it is not
fond of martial law as a permanent institution.
Two very sagacious tribunes these old Romans happen to have on hand in
this emergency: birds considerably too old to be caught with this
chaff of victory and military virtue, which puts the populace into
such a frenzy, and very learnedly they talk on this subject, with a
slight tendency to anachronisms in their mode of expression, in
language which sounds a little, at times, as if they might have had
access to some more recent documents, than the archives of mythical
Rome could just then furnish to them.
But the reader should judge for himself of the correctness of this
Refusing to join in the military procession on its way to the Capitol,
and stopping in the street for a little conference on the subject,
when it has gone by, after that vivid complaint of the universal
prostration to the military hero already quoted, the conference
_Sic_. On the sudden,
I warrant him consul.
_Bru_. Then _our office_ may,
_During his power_, go sleep.
_Sic_. He cannot temperately transport his honours
From where he should begin, and end; but will
Lose those that he hath won.
_Bru_. In _that_ there's comfort.
_Sic_. Doubt not, the commoners, _for whom we stand_.
But _they, upon their ancient malice_, will
Forget, with the least cause, these _his new honours_;
Which that he'll give them, make as little question
As he is proud to do't.
_Bru_. I heard him swear,
Were _he_ to stand for consul, never would he
Appear i'the market-place, nor on him put
The napless vesture of humility;
Nor, showing (as the _manner is_) his wounds
To the people, beg their stinking breaths.
_Sic_. _'Tis right_.
_Bru_. It was his word: O, he would miss it, rather
Than _carry it, but by the suit o'the gentry to him_,
And the _desire of the nobles_.
_Sic_. _I wish no better_,
Than have him hold _that_ purpose, and to put it
_Bru_. 'Tis most like he will.
_Sic_. It shall be to him then, as our good wills
A sure destruction.
_Bru_. So it must fall out
To him, or our authorities. For an end,
We must suggest the people, in what hatred
He still hath held them; that to his power he would
_Have made them mules, silenced their pleaders_, and
DISPROPERTIED THEIR FREEDOMS: [--note the expression--]
IN HUMAN ACTION AND CAPACITY,
Of no more soul _nor fitness for_ THE WORLD
Than CAMELS in their war; who have their provand
_Only for bearing burdens, and sore blows
For sinking under them_.
_Sic_. _This as you say, suggested
At some time, when his soaring insolence
Shall teach the people_ (which time shall not want)
_If he be put upon't_; and that's as easy
As to set dogs on sheep; will be HIS FIRE
_To_ KINDLE THEIR DRY STUBBLE; AND THEIR BLAZE
SHALL DARKEN HIM FOR EVER.
[There is a history in all men's lives,
Figuring the nature of the times deceased,
The which observed a man may prophesy,
With a near aim of the main chance of things,
As yet not come to life, which in their seeds
And weak beginnings, lie intreasured:
Such things become the hatch and brood of time.--_Henry IV_.]
Coriolanus, elected by the Senate to the consulship, proposes, in his
arrogance, as we have already seen, to dispense with the usual form,
which he understands to be a form merely, of asking the consent of the
people, and exhibiting to them his claim to their suffrages. The
tribunes have sternly withstood this proposition, and will hear of 'no
jot' of encroachment upon the dignity and state of the Commons. After
the flourish with which the election in the Senate Chamber concludes,
and the withdrawal of the Senate, again they stop to discuss,
confidentially, 'the situation.'
_Bru_. You _see_ how he intends to use the people.
_Sic_. May _they perceive his intent_; he will require them
As if he did contemn what they requested
Should be in their power to give.
_Bru_. Come, we'll inform them
Of our proceedings here: on the market-place
I know they do attend us.
And to the market-place we go; for it is there that the people are
collecting in throngs; no bats or clubs in their hands now, but still
full of their passion of gratitude and admiration for the hero's
patriotic achievements, against the common foe; and, under the
influence of that sentiment, wrought to its highest pitch by that
action and reaction which is the incident of the common sentiment in
'the greater congregations,' or 'extensive wholes,' eager to sanction
with their 'approbation,' the appointment of the Senate, though the
graver sort appear to be, even then, haunted with some unpleasant
reminiscences, and not without an occasional misgiving as to the
wisdom of the proceeding. There is a little tone of the former meeting
lurking here still.
_First Cit_. Once, if he do require our voices, we ought not to
_Second Cit_. We may, Sir, if we will.
_Third Cit_. We have power in ourselves to do it, but it is
a power that we have no power to do. Ingratitude is _monstrous_:
and for the multitude to be ungrateful, were to make a monster of
[There are scientific points here. This term 'monstrosity' is one of
the radical terms in the science of nature; but, like many others, it
is used in the popular sense, while the sweep and exactitude of the
scientific definition, or '_form_' is introduced into it.]
--of the which, we, being members, should bring ourselves to be
_First Cit_. And to make us no better thought of, a little help will
serve: for once, when we stood up about the corn, he himself stuck
not to call us the _many_-headed multitude.
_Third Cit_. We have been called so _of many_; not that our heads
are some brown, some black, some auburn, some bald, _but that our
wits are so diversely coloured_: and truly I think, if ALL _our
wits_ were to issue out of ONE skull, they would fly east, west,
north, south; and _their consent_ of _one direct_ way should be at
once to ALL the points o'the compass.
[An enigma; but the sphinx could propound no better one. Truly this
man has had good teaching. He knows how to translate the old priestly
Etruscan into the vernacular.]
_Second Cit_. Think you so? Which way, do you judge, my wit
_Third Cit_. Nay, _your wit_ will not so soon out as _another
man's_ WILL, 'tis _strongly wedged up_ in a block-head: _but if
it were at liberty_ ...
_Second Cit_. You are never without your tricks:--...
_Third Cit_. Are you _all_ resolved to give your voices? _But that's
no matter. The greater part carries it_. I say, if he would _incline
to the people_, there was never a worthier man.
[_Enter Coriolanus and Menenius_.]
Here he comes, and in the _gown_ of _humility_; mark his behaviour.
We are not to stay _all_ together, but to come by him where he
stands, by ones, by twos, and by threes. He's to make his _requests
by particulars_: wherein _every one of us has a single honour_, in
giving him our own voices with our own tongues: _therefore_ FOLLOW
ME, and I'LL DIRECT YOU HOW YOU SHALL GO BY HIM.
[The voice of the true leader is lurking here, and all through
these scenes the '_double_' meanings are thickly sown.]
_All_. _Content, content!_
_Men_. O Sir, you are not right: have you not known
The worthiest men have done it?
_Cor_. What must I say?--
I pray, Sir?--Plague upon't! I cannot bring
My tongue to such a pace:--Look, Sir,--my wounds;--
I got them in my country's service, _when
Some certain of your brethren roar'd, and ran
From the noise of_ OUR OWN DRUMS.
_Men_. O me, the gods!
_You must not speak of that_; you must desire them
To think upon you.
_Cor_. Think upon _me? Hang 'em!_
I would they would forget me, _like the virtues_
Which our _divines lose_ by them.
_Men_. _You'll mar all_;
I'll leave you: Pray you, speak to them, I pray you,
In _wholesome_ manner.
[And now, instead of being thronged with a mob of
citizens--instructed how they are to go by him with the honor of
their _single_ voices they enter 'by twos' and 'threes.']
[Enter two Citizens.]
Cor. Bid them wash their faces,
And keep their teeth clean._--So, here comes a _brace_,
You know the cause, Sir, of my standing here.
_First Cit_. We do, Sir; _tell us what hath brought you to't_,
_Cor. Mine own desert._--[The would-be consul answers.]
_Second Cit_. Your own desert?
_Cor_. Ay, not
Mine own desire.
[His _own_ desert has brought him to the consulship; his _own_
desire would have omitted the conciliation of the people, and
the deference to their will, that with all his desert somehow he
seems to find expected from him.]
_First Cit_. How! not your own desire!
_Cor_. No, Sir.
'Twas never my desire yet,
_To trouble the poor with begging_.
He desires what the poor have to give him however; but he desires to
take it, without begging. But it is the heart of the true hero that
speaks in earnest through that mockery, and the reference is to a
state of things towards which the whole criticism of the play is
steadfastly pointed, a state in which sovereigns were reluctantly
compelled to beg from the poor, what they would rather have taken
without their leave, or, at least, a state in which the _form_ of this
begging was still maintained, though there lacked but little to make
it a form only, a state of things in which a country gentleman might
be called on to sell 'his brass pans' without being supplied, on the
part of the State, with what might appear, to him, any respectable
reason for it, putting his life in peril, and coming off, with a
hair's-breadth escape, of all his future usefulness, if he were bold
enough to question the proceeding; a state of things in which a poor
law-reader might feel himself called upon to buy a gown for a lady,
whose gowns were none of the cheapest, at a time when the state of his
finances might render it extremely inconvenient to do so.
But to return to the Roman citizen, for the play is written by one who
knows that the human nature is what it is in all ages, or, at least,
until it is improved with better arts of culture than the world has
yet tried on it.
_First Cit. You must think, if we give you anything,
We hope to gain by you._
_Cor. Well then_, I pray, YOUR PRICE O'THE CONSULSHIP?
_First Cit_. The price is, Sir, to ask it _kindly_.
Sir, I pray let me ha't: I have wounds to show you,
Which shall be yours in private.--Your good voice, Sir;
What say you?
_Second Cit_. You shall have it, _worthy_ Sir.
_Cor_. A _match_, Sir:
There is in all two worthy voices begg'd:--
_I have your alms_; adieu.
_First Cit_. But this is something _odd_.
_Second Cit. An 'twere to give again_,--But 'tis no matter.
[_Exeunt two Citizens_.]
[_Enter two other Citizens_.]
_Cor_. Pray you now, if it may stand with the tune of your voices,
that I may be consul, I have here _the customary gown_.
_Third Cit_. You have deserved nobly of your country, and you have
not deserved nobly.
_Cor. Your enigma_?
_Third Cit_. You have been a _scourge to her enemies_, you _have
been a rod to her friends_; you have _not_ INDEED, loved the COMMON
_Cor_. You should account me the more virtuous, that I have not been
common in my love. I will, Sir, flatter my sworn brother the people,
to earn a dearer estimation of them; 'tis a condition _they account_
GENTLE: and since the wisdom of their choice is rather to have my
hat than my heart, _I will practise_ the _insinuating nod_, and be
_off to them most counterfeitly_; that is, Sir, I will counterfeit
the bewitchment of _some popular man, and give it bountifully to
the desirers_. Therefore, beseech you, I may be consul.
_Fourth Cit_. We hope to find you _our friend_; and _therefore_
give you our voices heartily.
_Third Cit_. You have received many wounds for your country.
_Cor_. I will not seal your knowledge with showing them. I will make
much of your voices, and so trouble you no further.
_Both Cit_. The gods give you joy, Sir, heartily! [_Exeunt_.]
_Cor_. Most sweet voices!--
Better it is to die, better to starve,
...Rather than fool it so,
Let the high office and the honour go
To one that would do thus.--I am half through;
_The one part suffer'd, the other will I do_.
[_Enter three other Citizens._]
Here come more voices,--
Your Voices: _for your_ voices _I have fought_:
_Watch'd_ for _your voices; for your voices, bear
Of wounds two dozen odd_; battles thrice six,
I have seen and heard of; _for your voices_,
Done many things, _some less, some more_: your voices:
_Indeed, I would be consul_.
_Fifth Cit_. He has done _nobly_, and _cannot go without any honest
_Sixth Cit_. Therefore let him be consul: The gods give him joy, and
make him _good friend to the people_.
_All_. Amen, Amen.--
_God save thee, noble_ consul! [_Exeunt Citizens_.]
_Cor_. WORTHY VOICES!
[_Re-enter Menenius, with the tribunes Brutus, and Sicinius._]
_Men_. You have stood your limitation; and the tribunes
Endue you with the people's voice: _Remains_,
That in the _official marks_ invested, you
_Anon_ do meet the senate.
_Cor_. Is this done?
_Sic_. The _custom_ of _request_ you have discharged:
_The people do admit you_; and are _summon'd_
To meet anon, _upon your approbation_.
_Cor_. Where? At the senate-house?
_Sic. There_ Coriolanus.
_Cor. May I change these garments_?
_Sic_. You may, Sir.
_Cor_. That I'll straight do, and _knowing myself again_,
Repair to the senate house.
_Men_. I'll keep you company.--Will you along.
_Bru. We stay here for the people_.
_Sic_. Fare you well.
[_Exeunt Coriolanus and Menenius_.]
_He has it now_; and by his looks, methinks,
'Tis warm at his heart.
_Bru. With a proud heart he wore
His humble weeds_: Will you dismiss the people?
[This is the popular election: but the afterthought, the review, the
critical review, is that which must follow, for this is not the same
people we had on the stage when the play began. They are the same in
person, perhaps; but it is no longer a mob, armed with clubs,
clamouring for bread, rushing forth to kill their chiefs, and have
corn at their own price. It is a people conscious of their political
power and dignity, an organised people; it is a people with a
constituted head, capable of instructing them in the doctrine of
political duties and rights. It is the tribune now who conducts this
review of the Military Hero's civil claims. It is the careful, learned
Tribune who initiates, from the heights of his civil wisdom, this
great, popular veto, this deliberate 'rejection' of the popular
affirmation. For this is what is called, elsewhere, 'a _negative_
_Sic_. How now, _my masters?_ HAVE YOU CHOSE THIS MAN?
_First Cit_. He has our _voices_, Sir.
_Bru_. We pray the gods he may deserve your loves.
_Second Cit_. Amen, Sir: To my poor unworthy notice,
_He mocked us when he begg'd our voices_.
_Third Cit_. Certainly
He flouted us downright.
_First Cit_. No, 'tis his kind of speech; he did not mock us.
_Second Cit_. Not one amongst us save yourself, but says,
He used us _scornfully_: he should have show'd us
His marks of merit, wounds received for his country.
_Sic_. Why, so he did, I am sure.
_Cit_. No; no man saw 'em. [_Several speak_.]
_Third Cit_. He said he _had_ wounds which he could show in private;
And with his hat, thus waving it in scorn,
'I _would be consul_,' says he,' AGED CUSTOM,
BUT BY YOUR VOICES, WILL NOT SO PERMIT ME;
_Your voices_ THEREFORE:' When we granted that,
Here was,--'I thank you for your voices,--thank you,--
Your most sweet voices:--_now you have left your voices,
I have no further with you:'--Was not this mockery?_
_Sic_. Why, either, were you ignorant to see't?
Or, seeing it, of such _childish friendliness
To yield your voices?_
_Bru_. Could you not have told him
As you were lesson'd--when he had no power,
But was a petty servant to the state,
He was your enemy; ever spake _against_
_Your_ LIBERTIES, and the CHARTERS that you bear
_I'_ THE BODY of the WEAL: and now arriving
A _place of potency, and sway_ o' the state,
If he should still malignantly remain
_Fast foe_ to the plebeii, _your voices might
Be_ CURSES _to_ YOURSELVES.
_Sic_. Thus to have said
As you were fore-advised, had touched his spirit,
And _tried_ his inclination; from him plucked,
Either his gracious promise, which _you might,
As cause had called you up, have_ HELD HIM TO;
_Or else_ it would have galled his surly nature,
_Which easily endures, not article
Tying him to aught_;--so putting him to rage,
You should have ta'en advantage of his choler,
And so left him unelected.
[Somewhat sagacious instructions for these old _Roman_ statesmen to
give, and not so very unlike those which English Commons found
occasion to put in execution not long after.]
_Bru_. Did you perceive he did solicit you _in free contempt_,
When he did need your loves; and do you think
That his contempt shall not be bruising to you,
When, he hath _power to crush_? Why had your bodies
_No heart among you_, or had you tongues
To cry against THE RECTORSHIP of--_judgment_?
_Sic_. Have you
Ere now, _deny'd the asker_, and now again,
On him that _did not ask, but mock_, [with a pretence of asking,]
bestow Your sued for tongues?
_Third Cit_. HE'S NOT CONFIRMED, _we may deny him_ YET.
_Second Cit. And will deny him:
I'll have five hundred voices of that sound_.
_First Cit. I_, twice five hundred, and their friends to _piece
_Bru_. Get you hence instantly, and _tell those friends_,
They have chose a consul that will from them
_Take their liberties_, MAKE THEM OF NO MORE VOICE
THAN DOGS, that are as often BEAT for barking,
As KEPT TO DO SO.
_Sic_. Let them assemble,
And on a safer judgment, ALL REVOKE
Your IGNORANT ELECTION.
A fault on _us, your tribunes_; that WE LABOURED
NO IMPEDIMENT BETWEEN, but that you _must_
Cast your election on him.
_Sic_. Say, you chose him
More after our commandment, than as guided
By your own true affections, and that your minds,
_Pre-occupied_ with what you rather _must_ do,
Than what you _should_, made you _against the grain_
To voice _him_ consul: lay the fault _on us_.
_Bru_. Ay, SPARE us NOT. _Say_ WE READ LECTURES TO YOU,
How youngly _he began to serve his country_,
How long continued, and what _stock_ he springs of;
The noble house o' the _Marcians_, from whence came,
That Ancus Martius, _Numa's_ daughter's son,
Who, after _great Hostilius_, here was _king_:
Of the same house Publius and Quintus were,
_That our best water brought by conduits hither_;
And Censoriuus, _darling of the people_,
And nobly named so, being _censor twice_,
Was his great ancestor.
[Of course this man has never meddled with the classics at all. His
reading and writing comes by nature.]
_Sic. One thus_ descended,
That hath _beside well in his person wrought_,
To be set _high in place, we_ did commend
To your remembrances; but _you have found,
Scaling his present bearing with his past_,
That _he's_ your fixed _enemy_, and REVOKE
_Your sudden approbation_.
_Bru._. Say you ne'er had done't,--
_Harp on that still_,--but by _our putting on_,
And _presently_ when you have drawn your number,
Repair to the Capitol.
_Citizens_. [_Several speak_.] We will so. Almost all
Repent in their election. [Exeunt Citizens.]
_Bru_. Let them go on.
This mutiny were better put in hazard,
Than stay, past doubt, for greater;
If, as his nature is, he fall in rage
With their refusal, both observe and answer
The vantage of his anger.
_Sic_. To the Capitol:
Come, _we'll be there before the stream_ o' the people,
_And this shall seem, as partly'tis, their own
Which_ WE HAVE GOADED ONWARD.
[See the Play of Henry the _Seventh_, Founder of the Elizabethan
Tyranny, by the same author.]
We have witnessed the popular election on the scientific boards: we
have seen, now, in all its scientific detail, the civil confirmation
of the soldier's vote on the battle-field: we have seen it in the
senate-chamber and in the market-place, and we saw it in 'the
smothered stalls, and bulks, and windows,' and on 'the leads and
ridges': we have seen and heard it, not in the shower and thunder that
the commons made with their caps and voices only, but in the scarfs,
and gloves, and handkerchiefs, which 'the ladies, and maids, and
matrons threw.' We have seen each single contribution to this great
public act put in by the Poet's selected representative of classes.
'The kitchen malkin, with her richest lockram pinned on her neck,
clambering the wall to eye him,' spake for hers; 'the seld-shown
flamen, puffing his way to win a vulgar station,' was hastening to
record the vote of his; 'the veiled dame, exposing the war of white
and damask in her nicely-gawded cheeks to the spoil of Phebus' burning
kisses,' was a tribune, too, in this Poet's distribution of the
tribes, and spake out for the veiled dames; 'the prattling nurse' who
will give her baby that is 'crying itself into a rapture there, while
she chats him' her reminiscence of this scene by and by, was there to
give the nurses' approbation.
For this is the vote which the great Tribune has to sum up and count,
when he comes to review at last, 'in a better hour,' these spontaneous
public acts--these momentous acts that seal up the future, and bind
the unborn generations of the advancing kind with the cramp of their
fetters. Not less careful than this is the analysis when he undertakes
to track to its historic source one of those practical axioms, one of
those received beliefs, which he finds determining the human conduct,
limiting the human history, moulding the characters of men,
determining beforehand what they shall be. This is the process when he
undertakes, to get one of these rude, instinctive, spontaneous
affirmations--one of those idols of the market or of the
Tribe--reviewed and criticised by the heads of the Tribe, at least,
'in a better hour,'--criticised and rejected. 'Proceeding by negatives
and exclusion first': this is the form in which this Tribune puts on
record his scientific veto of that 'ignorant election.'
And in this so carefully selected and condensed combination of
historical spectacles--in this so new, this so magnificently
illustrated political history--there is another historic moment to be
brought out now; and in this same form of 'visible history,' one not
less important than those already exhibited.
In the scene that follows, we have, in the Poet's arrangement, the
great historic spectacle of a people 'REVOKING THEIR IGNORANT
ELECTION,' under the instigation and guidance of those same remarkable
leaders, whose voice had been wanting (as they are careful to inform
us) till then in the business of the state; leaders who contrive at
last to inform the people, in plain terms, that they 'are at point to
lose their liberties,' that 'Marcius will have all from them,' and who
apologise for their conduct afterwards by saying, that 'he affected
one sole throne, _without assistance_'; for the time had come when the
Tribune could repeat the Poet's whisper, 'The _one_ side shall have
This so critical spectacle is boldly brought out and exhibited here in
all its actual historical detail. It is produced by one who is able to
include in his dramatic programme the whole sweep of its
eventualities, the whole range of its particulars, because he has made
himself acquainted with the forces, he has ascended, by scientifically
inclusive definition, to the 'powers' that are to be 'operant' in it;
and he who has that 'charactery' of nature, may indeed 'lay the future
open.' We talk of prophecy; but there is nothing in literature to
compare at all with this great specimen of the prophecy of Induction.
There is nothing to compare with it in its grasp of particulars, in
its comprehension and historic accuracy of detail.
But this great speech, which he entreats for leave to make before that
revolutionary movement, which in its weak beginnings in his time lay
intreasured, should proceed any further--this preliminary speech, with
its so vivid political illustration, is not yet finished. The true
doctrine of an instructed scientific election and government, that
'vintage' of politics--that vintage of scientific definitions and
axioms which he is getting out of this new kind of history--that new
vintage of the higher, subtler fact, which this fine selected, adapted
history, will be made to yield, is not yet expressed. The fault with
the popular and instinctive mode of inquiry is, he tells us, that _it
begins with affirmation_--but that is the method for gods, and not
men--men must begin with negations; they must have tables of _review_
of instances, tables of negation, tables of rejection; and _divide_
nature, not with fire, but with the mind, that divine fire. 'If the
mind attempt this affirmation from the first,' he says, '_which it
always will when left to itself_ there will spring up _phantoms, mere
theories_, and _ill-defined notions, with axioms requiring daily
correction_. These will be better or worse, according to the power and
strength of the understanding which creates them. But it is only for
God to recognise forms affirmatively, at the first glance of
contemplation; _men_ can only proceed first by negatives, and then to
conclude with affirmatives, after every species of rejection.' And
though he himself appears to be profoundly absorbed with the nature of
HEAT, at the moment in which he first produces these new scientific
instruments, which he calls tables of _review_, and explains their
'facilities,' he tells us plainly, that they are adapted to _other
subjects_, and that those affirmations which are most essential to the
welfare of man, will in due time come off from them, practical axioms
on matters of universal and incessant practical concern, that will not
want _daily correction_, that will not want revolutionary correction,
to fit them to the exigency.
The question here is not of 'heat,' but of SOVEREIGNTY; it is the
question of the _consulship_, regarded from the ground of the
tribuneship. It is not Coriolanus that this tribune is spending so
much breath on. The _instincts_, which unanalytic, barbaric ages,
enthrone and mistake for greatness and nobility, are tried and
rejected here; and the business of the play is, to get them excluded
from the chair of state. The philosopher will have those instincts
which men, in their 'particular and private natures,' share with the
lower orders of animals, searched out, and put in their place in human
affairs, which is _not_, as he takes it, THE HEAD--the head of the
COMMON-weal. It is not Coriolanus; the author has no spite at all
against him--he is partial to him, rather; it is not _Coriolanus_ but
the instincts that are on trial here, and the man--the so-called
_man_--of instinct, who has no principle of state and sovereignty, no
principle of true _man_liness and nobility in his soul; and the trial
is not yet completed. The author would be glad to have that revolution
which he has inserted in the heart of this play deferred, if that were
possible, though he knows that it is not; he thinks it would be a
saving of trouble if it could be deferred until some true and
scientifically prepared notions, some practical axioms, which would
not need in their turn fierce historical correction--revolutionary
correction--could be imparted to the _common mind_.
But we must follow him in this process of _division_ and exclusion a
little further, before we come in our plot to the revolution. That
revolution which he foresees as imminent and inevitable, he has put on
paper here: but there is another lurking within, for which we are not
yet ripe. This locked-up tribune will have to get abroad; he will have
to get his limits enlarged, and find his way into some new
departments, before ever _that_ can begin.
THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN POLITICS.
'If any man think philosophy and universality to be idle studies, he
doth not consider that all professions are _from thence_ served and
_Advancement of Learning_.
'We leave room on every subject for the human or optative part; for it
is a part of science to make judicious inquiries and wishes.'
As to the _method_ of this new kind of philosophical inquiry, which is
brought to bear here so stedfastly upon the most delicate questions,
at a time when the Play-house was expressly forbidden by a Royal
Ordinance, on pain of dissolution, to touch them--in an age, too, when
Parliaments were lectured, and brow-beaten, and rudely sent home, for
contumaciously persisting in meddling with questions of _state_--in an
age in which prelates were shrilly interrupted in the pulpit, in the
midst of their finest and gravest Sunday discourse, and told, in the
presence of their congregations, to hold their tongues and mind their
own business, if they chanced to touch upon 'questions of church,' on
a day when the Head of the Church herself, in her own sacred person,
in her largest ruff, and 'rustling' in her last silk, happened to be
in her pew;--as to the _method_ of the philosophical investigations
which were conducted under such critical conditions, of course there
was no harm in displaying _that_ in the abstract, as a _method_
merely. As a method of _philosophical_ inquiry, there was no harm in
presenting it in a tolerably lucid and brilliant manner, accompanying
the exhibition with careful, and _apparently specific_, directions as
to the application of it to indifferent subjects. There was no harm,
indeed, in blazoning this method a little, and in soliciting the
attention of the public, and the attention of mankind in general, to
it in a somewhat extraordinary manner, not without some considerable
blowing of trumpets. As a method of _philosophical inquiry_, merely,
what earthly harm could it do? Surely there was no more innocent thing
in nature than 'your philosophy,' then, so far as any overt acts were
concerned; it certainly was the last thing in the world that a king or
a queen need trouble their heads about then. Who cared what methods
the philosophers were taking, or whether this was a new one or an old
one, so that the men of letters could understand it? The modern
Solomon was fain to confess that, for his part, he could not--that it
was beyond his depth; whereas the history of _Henry the Seventh_, by
the same author, appeared to him extremely clear and lively, and quite
within his range, and to _that_ he gave his own personal approbation.
The other work, however, as it was making so much noise in the world,
and promising to go down to posterity, would serve to adorn his reign,
and make it illustrious in future ages.
There was no harm in this philosopher's setting forth his _method_
then, and giving very minute and strict directions in regard to its
applications to 'certain subjects.' As to what the Author of it did
with it himself--that, of course, was another thing, and nobody's
business but his own just then, as it happened.
So totally was the world off its guard at the moment of this great and
greatest innovation in its practice--so totally unaccustomed were men
then to look for anything like _power_ in the quarter from which this
seemed to be proceeding--so impossible was it for this single book to
remove that previous impression--that the Author of the Novum Organum
could even venture to intersperse these directions, with regard to its
specific and particular applications, with pointed and not infrequent
allusions to the comprehensive nature--the essentially comprehensive
nature--of '_the Machine_' whose application to these _certain
instances_ he is at such pains to specify; he could, indeed, produce
it with a continuous side-long glance at this so portentous quality of
Nay, he could go farther than that, and venture to assert openly, over
his own name, and leave on record for the benefit of posterity, _the
assertion_ that this new method of inquiry _does apply_, directly and
primarily, to those questions in which the human race are _primarily
concerned_; that it strikes at once to the heart of those questions,
and was invented to that end.
Such a certificate and warranty of the New Machine was put up by the
hands of the Inventor on the face of it, when he dedicated it to the
human use--when he appealed in its behalf from the criticism of the
times that were near, to those that were far off. Nay, he takes pains
to tell us; he tells us in that same moment, what one who studies the
NOVUM ORGANUM with the key of '_Times_' does not need to be told--can
see for himself--that in his _description of the method_ he has
already contrived to _make the application_, the _universal_ practical
In his PREROGATIVE INSTANCES, the mind of man is brought out already
from its SPECIFIC narrowness, from its own abstract logical conceits
and arrogant prenotions, into that collision with fact--the broader
fact, the universal fact--and subjected to that discipline from it
which is the intention of this logic. It is a 'machine' which is meant
to serve to Man as a '_New' Mind_--the scientific mind, which is in
harmony with nature--a mind informed and enlarged with the universal
laws, the laws of KINDS, instead of the spontaneous uninstructed mind,
instead of the narrow specific mind of a barbaric race, filled with
its own preposterous prenotions and vain conceits, and at war with
universal nature; boldly pursuing its deadly feud with _that_, priding
itself on it, making a virtue of it. It is a machine in which those
human faculties which are the gifts of God to man, as the instruments
of his welfare, are for the first time scientifically conjoined. It is
a Machine in which _the senses_, those hitherto despised instruments
in _philosophy_, by means of a scientific rule and oversight, and with
the aid of scientific instruments, are made available for philosophic
purposes. It is a Machine in which that organization whereby the
universal nature _impresses_ itself on us--reports itself to
us--striking its incessant telegraphs on us, whether we read them or
not, is for the first time brought to the philosopher's aid; and it is
a Machine, also, by which _speculation_, that hitherto despised
instrument in _practice_, is for the first time, brought to the aid of
the man of practice. It is doubly 'New': it is a Machine in which
speculation becomes practical--it is a Machine in which practice
[_Fool_. Canst thou tell why a man's nose stands in the middle of his
_Fool_. Why, to keep his eyes on either side of it, that what he
cannot smell out, he may spy into.]
In 'THE PREROGATIVE INSTANCES,' the universal matter of _fact_ is
already taken up and disposed of in grand masses, under these
headships and chief cases, not in a miscellaneous, but scientific
manner. The Nature of Things is all there; for this is a Logic which
bows the mind of man to the law of the universal nature, and _informs_
and enlarges it with that. It is not a Logic merely in the old sense
of that term. The old Logic, and the cobwebs of metaphysics that grew
out of it, are the things which this Machine is going to puff away,
with the mere whiff and wind of its inroads into nature, and disperse
for ever. It is not a logic merely as logic has hitherto been limited,
but a philosophy. A logic in which the general 'notions of nature'
which are _causes_, powers, simple powers, elemental powers, true
differences, are substituted for those spontaneous, rude, uncorrected,
_specific_ notions,--_pre_-notions of men, which have in that form, as
they stand thus, no correlative in nature, and are therefore
impotent--not true _terms_ and _forms_, but air-words, air-lines,
merely. It is a logic which includes the Mind of NATURE, and her laws;
and not one which is limited to the mind of _Man_, and so fitted to
its _incapacity_ as to nurse him in his natural ignorance, to educate
him in his born foolery and conceit, to teach him to ignore by rule,
and set at nought the infinite mystery of nature.
The universal history, all of it that the mind of man is constituted
to grasp, is here in the general, under these PREROGATIVE INSTANCES,
in the luminous order of the Inventor of this science, blazing
throughout with his genius, and the mind that has abolished its
prenotions, and renounced its rude, instinctive, barbaric tendencies,
and has taken this scientific Organum instead; has armed itself with
the Nature of Things, and is prepared to grapple with all
specifications and particulars.
The author tells us plainly, that those seemingly pedantic
arrangements with which he is compelled to perplex his subject in this
great work of his, the work in which he openly introduces HIS
INNOVATION,--as that--will fall off by and by, when there is no longer
any need of them. They are but the natural guards with which great
Nature, working in the instinct of the philosophic genius, protects
her choicest growth,--the husk of that grain which must have times,
and a time to grow in,--the bark which the sap must stop to build, ere
its delicate works within are safe. They are like the sheaths with
which she hides through frost and wind and shower, until their hour
has come, her vernal patterns, her secret toils, her magic cunning,
her struggling aspirations, her glorious successes, her celestial
In the midst of this studious fog of scholasticism, this complicated
network of superficial divisions, the man of humour, who is always not
far off and ready to assist in the priestly ministrations as he sees
occasion, gently directs our attention to those more simple and
natural divisions of the subject, and those more immediately practical
terms, which it might be possible to use, under certain circumstances,
in speaking of the _same subjects_, into which, however, _these_ are
easily resolvable, as soon as the right point of observation is taken.
Through all this haze, he contrives to show us confidentially, the
outline of those grand natural divisions, which he has already clearly
produced--under their scholastic names, indeed,--in his book of the
Advancement of Learning; but which he cannot so openly continue, in a
work produced professedly, as a practical instrument fit for
application to immediate use, and where the true application is
constantly entering the vitals of subjects too delicate to be openly
glanced at then.
But he gives us to understand, however, that he _has_ made the
application of this method to practice, in a much more _specific,
detailed_ manner, in another place, that he _has_ brought it down from
those more general forms of the Novum Organum, into 'the nobler'
departments, 'the more chosen' departments of that universal field of
human practice, which the Novum Organum takes up in its great outline,
and boldly and clearly claims in the general, though when it comes to
specific applications and particulars, it does so stedfastly strike,
or appear to strike, into that one track of practice, which was the
only one left open to it then,--which it keeps still as rigidly as if
it had no other. He has brought it out, he tells us, from that trunk
of 'universality,' and carried it with his own hand into the minutest
points and fibres of particulars, those points and fibres, those
living articulations in which the grand natural divisions he indicates
here, naturally terminate; the divisions which the philosopher who
'makes the Art and Practic part of life, the _mistress_ to his
Theoric,' must of course follow. He tells us that he _has_ applied it
to PARTICULAR ARTS, to those departments of the human experience and
practice in which the need of a _rule_ is most felt, and where things
have been suffered to go on hitherto, in a specially miscellaneous
manner, and that his axioms of practice in these departments have been
so scientifically constructed from particulars, that he thinks they
will be apt to know their way to particulars again;--that their
specifications are at the same time so comprehensive and so minute,
that he considers them fit for immediate use, or at least so far forth
fitted, as to require but little skill on the part of the
practitioner, to insure them against failure in practice. The process
being, of course, in this application to the exigencies of practice,
necessarily disentangled from those technicalities and relics of the
old wordy scholasticism in which he was compelled to incase and seal
up his meanings, in his _professedly_ scientific works, and especially
in his professedly _practical_ scientific work.
But these so important applications of his philosophy to practice, of
which he issues so fair a prospectus, though he frequently _refers_ to
them, could not then be published. The time had not come, and
personally, he was obliged to leave, before it came. He was careful,
however, to make the best provision which could be made, under such
circumstances, for the carrying out of his intentions; for he left a
will. These works of _practice_ could not then be published; and if
they could have been, there was no public then ready for them. They
could not be _published_; but there was nothing to hinder their being
put under cover. There was no difficulty to a man of skill in packing
them up in a portable form, under lids and covers of one sort and
another, so unexceptionable, that all the world could carry them
about, for a century or two, and not perceive that there was any harm
in them. Very curiously wrought covers they might be too, with some
taste of the wonders of mine art pressing through, a little here and
there. They might be put under a very gorgeous and attractive cover in
one case, and under a very odd and fantastic one in another; but in
such a manner as to command, in both cases, the admiration and wonder
of men, so as to pique perpetually their curiosity and provoke
inquiry, until the time had come and the key was found.
'Some may raise this question,' he says, talking as he does sometimes
in the historical plural of his philosophic chair,--'_this question,
rather than objection_,'--[it was much to be preferred in that form
certainly]--'whether we talk of perfecting NATURAL PHILOSOPHY alone,
according to our method, or _the other sciences such as_--ETHICS,
LOGIC, POLITICS.' A pretty _question_ to raise just then, truly,
though this philosopher sees fit to take it so demurely. 'Whether we
talk of _perfecting politics_ with our method,' Elizabethan
politics,--and not politics only, but whether we talk of _perfecting
'ethics'_ with it also, and 'logic,--common logic,' which last is as
much in need of perfecting as anything, and the beginning of
perfecting of that is the reform in the others. 'We certainly
intend,'--the emphasis here is on the word '_certainly_,' though the
reader who has not the key of the times may not perceive it; 'We
certainly intend to comprehend them ALL.' For this is the author whose
words are most of them emphatic. We must read his sentences more than
once to get all the emphasis. We certainly INTEND to comprehend them
all. 'We are not vain promisers,' he says, emphasizing _that_ word in
another place, and putting this intention into the shape of a
And as _common logic which regulates matters_ by syllogism is applied,
not only to natural, but to every other science, so our inductive
method _likewise_, comprehends them _all_.--Again--[he thinks this
bears repeating, repeating in this connection, for now he is measuring
the claims of this new method, this _new logic_, with the claims of
that which he finds in possession, regulating matters by syllogism,
not producing a very logical result, however:] 'For we form a history,
and tables of invention, for ANGER, FEAR, SHAME, and the like,' [that
is--we _form_ a _history_ and tables of _invention_ for the passions
or affections,] 'and _also_ for EXAMPLES IN CIVIL LIFE, and the MENTAL
OPERATIONS ... as well as for HEAT, COLD, LIGHT, VEGETATION and THE
LIKE,' and he directs us to the Fourth Part of the Instauration, which
he reserves for his noblest and more chosen subjects for the
confirmation of this assertion.
'_But_ since our method of interpretation, after preparing and
arranging a history, does not content itself with examining _the
opinions and desires_ of THE MIND--[hear]--like common logic, but also
inspects THE NATURE of THINGS, we so regulate the mind that it may be
enabled to _apply itself_, in every respect, correctly to _that
nature_.' Our _examples_ in this part of the work, which is but a
small and preparatory part of it, are limited, as you will observe, to
_heat, cold, light, vegetation_, and _the like_; but this is the
explanation of the general intention, which will enable you to
disregard that circumstance in your reading of it.--Those examples
will serve their purpose with the minds that they detain. They are
preparatory, and greatly useful, if you read this new logic from the
height of this explanation, you will have a mind, formed by that
process, able to apply itself, in every respect, correctly to the
subjects omitted here by name, but so clearly claimed, not as the
proper subjects only, but as the _actual_ subjects of the new
investigation. But lest you should not understand this explanation, he
continues--'_On this account_ we deliver _necessary_ and _various_
precepts in _our doctrine of interpretation_, so that we may apply, in
some measure, to the method of discovering _the quality and condition
of the subject matter of investigation_.' And this is the apology for
omitting here, or _seeming_ to omit, _such sciences as_ Ethics,
Politics, and that science which is alluded to under the name of
This is, indeed, a very instructive paragraph, though it is a
gratuitous one for the scholar who has found leisure to read this work
with the aid of that doctrine of _interpretation_ referred to,
especially if he is already familiar with its particular applications
to the noble subjects just specified.
Among the prerogative instances--'suggestive instances' are
included--'such as _suggest or_ point out _that_ which is
_advantageous to mankind_; for _bare power_ and _knowledge_ in
_themselves exalt_, rather than _enrich_, human nature. _We shall have
a better opportunity of discovering these, when we treat of the
application to practice._ BESIDES, in the WORK of INTERPRETATION, we
LEAVE ROOM ON EVERY SUBJECT for the _human or optative_ part; FOR IT
is A PART OF SCIENCE, to make JUDICIOUS INQUIRIES and WISHES.' 'The
_generally_ useful instances. They are such as relate to various
points, and _frequently occur_, sparing by that means _considerable
labour_ and _new trials_. The proper place for speaking of
_instruments_, and _contrivances_, will be that in which we speak of
_application to practice_, and the _method_ of EXPERIMENT. _All that
has hitherto been ascertained and made use of_, WILL BE APPLIED in the
PARTICULAR HISTORY of EACH ART.' [We certainly intend to _include_
them ALL, such as Ethics, Politics, and Common Logic.]
'We have now, therefore, exhibited the species, or _simple elements_
of the _motions_, _tendencies_, and _active powers_, which are most
universal in nature; and no small portion of NATURAL, _that is_,
UNIVERSAL SCIENCE, has been _sketched out_. We do _not_, however, deny
_that_ OTHER INSTANCES can, _perhaps, be added_' (he has confined
himself chiefly to the physical agencies under this head, with a
sidelong glance at others, now and then), 'and our _divisions changed_
to some _more natural order_ of _things_ [hear], and also reduced to a
_less number_ [hear], in which respect we do _not_ allude to any
_abstract_ classification, as if one were to say,'--and he quotes
here, in this apparently disparaging manner, his own grand, new-coined
classification, which he has drawn out with his new method from the
heart of nature, and applied to the human,--which he had to go into
the universal nature to find, that very classification which he has
exhibited _abstractly_ in his Advancement of Learning--_abstractly_,
and, therefore, without coming into any dangerous contact with any
one's preconceptions,--'as if one were to say, that bodies desire the
_preservation, exaltation_, propagation, or fruition of their natures;
or, that motion tends to the preservation and benefit, either of the
UNIVERSE, as in the case of the motions of _resistance_ and
_connection_--those two _universal_ motions and tendencies--or of
EXTENSIVE WHOLES, as in the case of those of the _greater
congregation_.' These are phrases which look innocent enough; there is
no offensive approximation to particulars here, apparently; what harm
can there be in the philosophy of 'extensive wholes,' and 'larger
congregations'? Nobody can call that meddling with 'church and state.'
Surely one may speak of the nature of things in general, under such
general terms as these, without being suspected of an intention to
innovate. 'Have you heard the argument?' says the king to Hamlet. 'Is
there no offence in it?' 'None in the world.' But the philosopher goes
on, and does come occasionally, even here, to words which begin to
sound at little suspicious in such connexions, or would, if one did
not know how _general_ the intention must be in this application of
them. They are _abstract_ terms, and, of course, nobody need see that
they are a different kind of abstraction from the old ones, that the
grappling-hook on all particulars has been abstracted in them. Suppose
one were to say, then, to resume, 'that motion tends to the
preservation and benefit, either of _the universe_, as in the case of
the motions of _resistance_ and _connection_, or of _extensive
wholes_, as in the case of the motions of _the greater congregation_--
[what are these motions, then?]--REVOLUTION and ABHORRENCE of CHANGE,
or of _particular forms_, as in the case of _the others_.' This looks
a little like growing towards a point. We are apt to consider these
motions in certain _specific_ forms, as they appear in those extensive
wholes and larger congregations, which it is not necessary to name
more particularly in this connection, though they are terms of a
'suggestive' character, to borrow the author's own expression, and
belong properly to subjects which this author has just included in
But this is none other than his own philosophy which he seems to be
criticising, and rating, and rejecting here so scornfully; but if we
go on a little further, we shall find what the criticism amounts to,
and that it is only the limitation of it to _the general
statement_--that it is _the abstract_ form of it, which he complains
of. He wishes to direct our attention to the fact, that he does not
consider it good for anything in that general form in which he has put
it in his Book of Learning. This is the deficiency which he is always
pointing out in that work, because this is the deficiency which it has
been his chief labour to supply. Till that defect, that grand defect
which his philosophy exhibits, as it stands in his books of abstract
science, is supplied--that defect to which, even in these works
themselves, he is always directing our attention--he cannot, without
self-contradiction, propound his philosophy to the world as a
practical one, good for human relief.
In order that it should accomplish the ends to which it is addressed,
it is not enough, he tells us in so many words, to exhibit it in the
abstract, in general terms, for these are but 'the husks and shells of
sciences.' It must be brought down and applied to those artistic
reformations which afflicted, oppressed human nature demands--to those
artistic constructions to which human nature spontaneously,
instinctively tends, and empirically struggles to achieve.
'For _although_,' he continues,'_such remarks_--those last
quoted--_be_ just, _unless they terminate in_ MATTER AND CONSTRUCTION,
_according to the_ TRUE DEFINITIONS, _they are_ SPECULATIVE, and of
LITTLE USE.' But in the Novum Organum, those more natural divisions
are reduced to a form in which it IS _possible to commence practice_
with them at once, in certain departments, where there is no objection
to _innovation_,--where the proposal for the relief of the human
estate is met without opposition,--where the new scientific
achievements in the conquest of nature are met with a universal,
unanimous human plaudit and gratulation.
'_In the meantime_,' he continues, after condemning those abstract
terms, and declaring, that unless they terminate in _matter and
construction, according_ to _true definitions_, they are
_speculative_, and of _little use_--'_In the meantime, our
classification will suffice_, and be of much use in the consideration
of the PREDOMINANCE of POWERS, and examining the WRESTLING INSTANCES,
which constitute our PRESENT SUBJECT.' [The subject that was _present_
then. The question.]
So that the Novum Organum presents itself to us, in these passages,
only as a preparation and arming of the mind for a closer dealing with
the nature of things, in particular instances, which are _not_ there
instanced,--for those more critical 'WRESTLING INSTANCES' which the
scientific re-constructions, according to true definitions, in the
higher departments of human want will constitute,--those _wrestling_
instances, which will naturally arise whenever the philosophy which
concerns itself experimentally with the question of the predominance
of powers--the philosophy which includes in its programme the
practical application of the principles of revolution and abhorrence
of change, in 'greater congregations' and 'extensive wholes,' as well
as the principles of _motion_ in 'particular forms'--shall come to be
applied to its nobler, to its noblest subjects. That is the philosophy
which dismisses its technicalities, which finds such words as these
when the question of the predominance of powers, and the question of
revolution and abhorrence of change in the greater congregations and
extensive wholes, comes to be practically handled. This is the way we
philosophise 'when we come to particulars.'
'In _a rebellion_,
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_.'
That is what we should call, in a _general_ way, 'the motion of
revolution' in our book of abstractions; this is the moment in which
it _predominates_ over 'the abhorrence of change,' if not in the
extensive whole--if not in _the whole_ of the greater congregation, in
that part of it for whom this one speaks; and this is the critical
moment which the man of science makes so much of,--brings out so
scientifically, so elaborately in this experiment. But this is a part
of science which he is mainly familiar with. Here is a place, for
instance, where the motion of particular forms is skilfully brought to
the aid of that larger motion. Here we have an experiment in which
these petty motives come in to aid the revolutionary movement in the
minds of the leaders of it, and with their feather's weight turn the
scale, when the abhorrence of change is too nicely balanced with its
antagonistic force for a predominance of powers without it.
'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.
* * * * *
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 _dishonorable graves_.
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_?
Why should that name be sounded more than yours?
Conjure with them;
_Brutus_ will start a spirit as soon as _Caesar_.
_Now in the name_ of _all the gods at once_,
_Upon what meat doth this our_ CAESAR _feed,
That he is grown so great_? 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?
When could they say, till now, that talked of _Rome_,
That _her wide walls_ encompassed _but One Man_?
_Now_ is it _Rome indeed_, and _room enough_,
When there is in it but _One Only Man_.
* * * * *
What you would work me to, I have some aim;
_How I have thought of this_, and of _these times_,
I shall recount hereafter.
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_.'
''T is Caesar _that you mean_: Is it _not_, Cassius?'
'Let it be--WHO IT is: for Romans now
Have thewes and limbs like to their ancestors.
* * * * *
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--
_I_ perhaps _speak this_
Before a willing bondman.
And here is another case where the question of the predominance of
powers arises. In this instance, it is the question of _British_
freedom that comes up; and the _tribute_--not the tax--that a
Caesar--the first Caesar himself, had exacted, is refused 'in a better
hour,' by a people kindling with ancestral recollections, throwing
themselves upon their ancient rights, and '_the natural bravery of
their isle_,' and ready to re-assert their ancient liberties.
The Ambassador of Augustus makes his master's complaint at the British
Court. The answer of the State runs thus, king, queen and prince
taking part in it, as the Poet's convenience seems to require.
'This tribute,' complains the Roman; 'by thee, lately, is left
_Queen_. And, to kill the marvel,
Shall be so ever.
_Prince Cloten_. _There be many Caesars_,
Ere such another Julius. Britain is
_A world by itself_; and we will nothing pay,
For wearing our own noses. [_General principles_.]
_Queen_. That opportunity
_Which then they had to take from us, to resume
We have again._ Remember, sir, my liege,
[It is the people who are represented here by Cymbeline.]
_The kings your ancestors_; together with
The natural bravery of your isle; which stands
As Neptune's park, ribbed and paled in
With rocks unscaleable, and roaring waters;
With sands, that will not bear your enemies' boats,
But suck them up to the top-mast.
* * * * *
_Cloten_. Come, there's no more tribute to be paid: _Our kingdom
is stronger_ than it was at that time; and, as _I said_, there is
no more _such_ Caesars: _other_ of them _may have crooked noses_;
but, to owe _such straight arms_, none.
_Cymbeline_. Son, let your mother end.
_Cloten. We have yet many among us can gripe as hard as Cassibelan_:
I do not say, I am one; but I have a hand.--Why tribute? Why
should we pay tribute? If Caesar can hide the sun from us with a
blanket, or put the moon in his pocket, we will pay him tribute
for light; else, Sir, no more tribute, pray you now.
_Cymbeline_. You must know,
Till the _injurious Romans_ did extort
This tribute from us, _we were free: Caesar's ambition_
.... against all colour, here
Did put the yoke upon us; which to _shake off_,
Becomes a warlike people, _whom we reckon_
_Ourselves to be_. We do say then to Caesar,
_Our_ ancestor was that Mulmutius, _which
Ordained_ OUR LAWS, whose use THE SWORD OF CAESAR
_Hath too much mangled_; whose REPAIR and FRANCHISE,
Shall, by the power we hold, be _our good deed_.
Mulmutius _made our laws_,
Who was the first of BRITAIN which did put
His brows within a golden crown, and called
_Himself_ a KING.
That is the tune when the Caesar comes this way, to a people who have
such an ancestor to refer to; no matter what costume he comes in. This
is Caesar in Britain; and though Prince Cloten appears to incline
naturally to prose, as the medium best adapted to the expression of
his views, the blank verse of Cymbeline is as good as that of Brutus
and Cassius, and seems to run in their vein very much.
It is in some such terms as these that we handle those universal
motions on whose balance the welfare of the world depends--'the
motions of _resistance_ and _connection_,' as the Elizabethan
philosopher, with a broader grasp than the Newtonian, calls them--when
we come to the diagrams which represent particulars. This is the kind
of language which this author adopts when he comes to the
modifications of those motions which are incident to extensive wholes
in the case of the greater congregations; that is, '_revolution_' and
'_abhorrence of change_,' and to those which belong to _particular
forms_ also. For it is the science of life; and when the universal
science touches the human life, it will have nothing less vivacious
than this. It will have the _particular of life_ here also. It will
not have abstract revolutionists, any more than it will have abstract
butterflies, or bivalves, or univalves. This is the kind of 'loud'
talk that one is apt to hear in this man's school; and the clash and
clang that this very play now under review is full of, is just the
noise that is sure to come out of his laboratory, whenever he gets
upon one of these experiments in 'extensive wholes,' which he is so
fond of trying. It is the noise that one always hears on his stage,
whenever the question of 'particular forms' and _predominance of
powers comes_ to be put experimentally, at least, _in this class_ of
For we have here a form of composition in which that more simple and
natural order above referred to is adopted--where those clear
scientific classifications, which this author himself plainly exhibits
in another scientific work, though he disguises them in the Novum
Organum, are again brought out, no longer in the abstract, but
grappling the matter; where, instead of the scientific technicalities
just quoted--instead of those abstract terms, such as 'extensive
wholes,' 'greater congregation,' 'fruition of their natures,' and the
like--we have terms not less scientific, the equivalents of these, but
more living--words ringing with the detail of life in its scientific
condensations--reddening with the glow, or whitening with the calm, of
its ideal intensities--pursuing it everywhere--everywhere, to the last
height of its poetic fervors and exaltations.
And it is because this so vivid popular science has its issue from
this 'source'--it is because it proceeds from this scientific centre,
on the scientific radii, through all the divergencies and
refrangibilities of the universal beam--it is because all this
inexhaustible multiplicity and variety of particulars is threaded with
the fibre of the universal science--it is because all these
thick-flowering imaginations, these 'mellow hangings,' are hung upon
the stems and branches that unite in the trunk of the _prima
philosophia_--it is because of this that men find it so prophetic, so
inclusive, so magical; _this_ is the reason they find _all_ in it. 'I
have either told, or designed to tell, _all_,' says the expositor of
these plays. 'What I cannot speak, I point out with my finger.' For
all the building of this genius is a building on that scientific
ground-plan he has left us; and that is a plan which includes all _the
human_ field. It is the plan of the _Great Instauration_.
VOLUMNIA AND HER BOY.
'My boy _Marcius_ approaches.'
'Why should I war without the walls of Troy,
That find such cruel battle here within?
Each Trojan that is master of his heart,
Let him to field.'
Is not the ground which _Machiavel_ wisely and largely discourseth
concerning governments, that the way to establish and _preserve_
them, is to reduce them _ad principia_; a rule in religion and
nature, _as well as_ in civil administration? [Again.] Was not
_the Persian_ magic a _reduction_ or correspondence of the
_principles_ and _architectures_ of nature to the rules and policy
of governments?'--['_Questions to be asked_.']--_Advancement of