Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakspere Unfolded by Delia Bacon

Part 11 out of 13

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

It is by means of this popular rejection of the Hero's claims, which
the tribunes succeed in procuring, that the Poet is enabled to
complete his exhibition and test of the virtue which he finds in his
time 'chiefest among men, and that which most dignifies the haver';
the virtue which he finds in his time rewarded with patents of
nobility, with patrician trust, with priestly authority, with immortal
fame, and thrones and dominions, with the disposal of the human
welfare, and the entail of it to the crack of doom--no matter what
'goslings' the law of entail may devolve it on.

He makes use of this incident to complete that separation he is
effecting in the hitherto unanalysed, ill-defined, popular notions,
and received and unquestioned axioms of practice--that separation of
the instinctive military heroism, and the principle of the so-called
heroic greatness, from the true principles of heroism and nobility,
the true principle of subjection and sovereignty in the individual
human nature and in the common-weal.

That _martial_ virtue has been under criticism and suspicion torn the
beginning of this action. It was shown from the first--from that
ground and point of observation which the sufferings of the diseased
common-weal made for it--in no favourable light. It was branded in the
first scene, in the person of its Hero, as 'a dog to the commonalty.'
It is one of the wretched 'commons' who invents, in his distress, that
title for it; but the Poet himself exhibits it, not descriptively
only, but dramatically, as something more brutish than that--eating
the poor man's corn that the gods have sent him, and gnawing his
vitals, devouring him soul and body, 'tooth and fell.' It was shown up
from the first as an instinct that men share with 'rats'. It was
brought out from the first, and exhibited with its teeth in the heart
of the common-weal. The Play begins with a cross-questioning in the
civil streets, of that sentiment which the hasty affirmations of men
enthrone. It was brought out from the first--it came tramping on in
the first act, in the first scene--with its sneer at the commons'
distress, longing to make 'a quarry of the _quartered_ slaves, as
high' as the plumed hero of it 'could prick his lance'; and that, too,
because they rebelled at famine, as slaves will do sometimes, when the
common notion of hunger is permitted to instruct them in the principle
of new unions; when that so impressive, and urgent, and unappeasable
teacher comes down to them from the Capitol, and is permitted by their
rulers to induct them experimentally into the doctrine of 'extensive
wholes,' and 'larger congregations,' and 'the predominance of powers.'
And it so happened, that the threat above quoted was precisely the
threat which the founder of the reigning house had been able to carry
into effect here a hundred years before, in putting down an
insurrection of that kind, as this author chanced to be the man to

But the cry of the enemy is heard without; and this same principle,
which shows itself in such questionable proofs of love at home,
becomes with the change of circumstances--patriotism. But the Poet
does not lose sight of its identity under this change. This love, that
looks so like hatred in the Roman streets, that sniffs there so
haughtily at questions about corn, and the price of 'coals,' and the
price of labour, while it loves Rome so madly at the Volscian
gates--this love, that sneers at the hunger and misery of the commons
at home, while it makes such frantic demonstrations against the
_common_ enemy abroad, appears to him to be a very questionable kind
of _love_, to say the least of it.

In that fine, conspicuous specimen of this quality, which the hero of
his story offers him--this quality which the hostilities of nations
deify--he undertakes to sift it a little. While in the name of that
virtue which has at least the merit of comprehending and conserving a
larger unity, a more extensive whole, than the limit of one's own
personality, 'it runs reeking o'er the lives of men, as 'twere a
perpetual spoil'; while under cover of that name which in barbaric
ages limits human virtue, and puts down upon the map the outline of
it--the bound which human greatness and virtue is required to come out
to; while in the name of _country_ it shows itself 'from face to foot
a thing of blood, whose every motion is timed with dying cries,'
undaunted by the tragic sublimities of the scene, this Poet confronts
it, and boldly identifies it as that same principle of state and
nobility which he has already exhibited at home.

That sanguinary passion which the heat of conflict provokes is but the
incident; it is the principle of _acquisition_, it is the natural
principle of absorption, it is the instinct that nature is full of,
that nature is alive with; but the one that she is at war with,
too--at war with in the parts--one that she is forever opposed to, and
conquering in the members, with her mathematical axioms--with her law
of the whole, of 'the worthier whole,' of 'the greater congregation';
it is that principle of acquisition which it is the business of the
state to set bounds to in the human constitution--which gets branded
with _other_ names, very vulgar ones, too, when the faculty of grasp
and absorption is smaller. That, and none other, is the principle
which predominates, and is set at large here. The leashed 'dog' of the
commonalty at home, is let slip here in the conquered town. The teeth
that preyed on the Roman weal there, have elongated and grown wolfish
on the Volscian fields. The consummation of the captor's deeds in the
captured city--those matchless deeds of valor--the consummation for
_Coriolanus_ in _Corioli_, for 'the _conqueror_ in the _conquest_,'
is--'NOW ALL'S HIS.' And the story of the battle without is--'He never
stopped to ease his breast with panting, till he could call both field
and city--OURS.'

The Poet sets down nought in malice, but he will have the secret of
this LOVE, he will have the heart out of it--this love that stops so
short with geographic limits,--that changes with the crossing of a
line into a demon from the lowest pit.

But it is a fair and noble specimen, it is a highly-qualified,
'illustrious instance,' of this instinctive heroic virtue, he has
seized on here, and made ready now for his experiment; and even when
he brings him in, reeking from the fresh battlefield, with the blood
undried on his brow, rejoicing in his harvest, even amid the horrors
of the conquered town, this Poet, with his own ineffable and matchless
grace of moderation, will have us pause and listen while _his_
Coriolanus, ere he will take food or wine in _his_ Corioli, gives
orders that the Volscian who was kind to him personally--the poor man
at whose house he lay--shall be saved, when he is so weary with
slaying Volscians that 'his very memory is tired,' and he cannot speak
his poor friend's name.

He tracks this conqueror home again, and he watches him more sharply
than ever--this man, whose new name is borrowed from his taken town.
CORIOLANUS of CORIOLI. _Marcius_, plain _Caius Marcius_, now no more.
He will think it treason--even in the conquered city he will resent
it--if any presume to call him by that petty name henceforth, or
forget for a breathing space to include in his identity the town--the
town, that in its sacked and plundered streets, and dying cries--that,
with that 'painting' which he took from it so lavishly, though he
scorned the soldiers who took 'spoons'--has clothed him with his
purple honours: those honours which this Poet will not let him wear
any longer, tracked in the misty outline of the past, or in the misty
complexity of the unanalysed conceptions of the vulgar, the fatal
unscientific _opinion_ of the many-headed many; that old coat of arms,
which the man of science will trace now anew (and not here only) with
his new historic pencil, which he will fill now anew--not here
only--which he will fill on another page also, 'approaching his
particular more near'--with all its fresh, recent historic detail,
with all its hideous, barbaric detail.

He is jealous,--this new Poet of his kind,--he is jealous of this love
that makes such work in Volscian homes, in Volscian mother's sons,
under this name, 'that men sanctify, and turn up the white of the eyes
to.' He flings out suspicions on the way home, that it is even
_narrower_ than it claims to be: he is in the city before it; he
contrives to jet a jar into the sound of the trumpets that announce
its triumphant entry; he has thrown over all the glory of its entering
pageant, the suspicion that it is base and mercenary, that it is base
and _avaricious_, though it puts nothing in its pocket, but takes its
hire on its brows.

_Menenius_. Brings a victory in his pocket.
_Volumnia_. On's brows Menenius.

He surprises the mother counting up the cicatrices. He arrests the
cavalcade on its way to the Capitol, and bids us note, in those
private whispers of family confidence, how the Camp and the Capitol
stand in this hero's chart, put down on the road to 'our own house.'
Nay, he will bring out the haughty chieftain in person, and show him
on his stage, standing in his 'wolfish gown,' showing the scars that
_he should hide_, and asking, like a mendicant, for his hire. And
though he does it proudly enough, and as if he did not care for this
return, though he sets down his own services, and expects the people
to set them down, to a disinterested love for his _country_, it is to
this Poet's purpose to show that he was mistaken as to that. It is to
his purpose to show that these two so different things which he finds
confounded under one name and notion in the popular understanding
here, and, what is worst of all, in the practical understanding of the
populace, are two, and not one. That the mark of the primal
differences, the original differences, the difference of things, the
simplicity of nature herself divides them, makes two of them,
two,--not one. He has caught one of those rude, vulgar notions here,
which he speaks of elsewhere so often, those notions which make such
mischief in the human life, and he is severely separating it--he is
separating the martial virtue--from the true heroism, 'with the mind,
that divine fire.' He is separating this kind of heroism from that
cover under which it insinuates itself into governments, with which it
makes its most bewildering claim to the popular approbation.

He is bound to show that the true love of the common-weal, that
principle which recognises and embraces the weal of others as its own,
that principle which enters into and constitutes each man's own
noblest life, is a thing of another growth and essence, a thing which
needs a different culture from any that the Roman Volumnia could give
it, a culture which unalytic, barbaric ages--wanting in all the
scientific arts--could not give it.

He will show, in a conspicuous instance, what that kind of patriotism
amounts to, in the man who aspires to 'the helm o' the State,' while
there is yet no state within himself, while the mere instincts of the
lower nature have, in their turn, the sway and sovereignty in him. He
will show what that patriotism amounts to in one so schooled, when the
hire it asks so disdainfully is withheld. And he will bring out this
point too, as he brings out all the rest, in that large, scenic,
theatric, illuminated lettering, which this popular design requires,
and which his myth furnishes him, ready to his hand. He will have his
'transient hieroglyphics,' his _tableaux vivants_, his 'dumb-shows' to
aid him here also, because this, too, is for the spectators--this,
too, is for the audience whose eyes are more learned than their ears.

It is a natural hero, one who achieves his greatness, and not one who
is merely born great, whom the Poet deals with here. 'He has that in
his face which men love--_authority_.' 'As waves before a vessel under
sail, so men obey him and fall below his stern.' The Romans have
stripped off his wings and turned him out of the city gates, but the
heroic instinct of greatness and generalship is not thus defeated. He
carries with him that which will collect new armies, and make him
their victorious leader. Availing himself of the pride and hostility
of nations, he is sure of a captaincy. His occupation is not gone so
long as the unscientific ages last. The principle of his heroism and
nobility has only been developed in new force by this opposition. He
will have a new degree; he will purchase a new patent of it; he will
_forge_ himself a new and _better_ name, for 'the patricians are
called _good_ citizens.' He will forget Corioli; _Coriolanus_ now no
more, he will conquer _Rome_, and incorporate that henceforth in his
name. He will make himself great, not by the grandeur of a true
citizenship and membership of the larger whole, in his private
subjection to it,--not by emerging from his particular into the self
that comprehends the whole; he will make himself great by subduing the
whole to his particular, the greater to the less, the whole to the
part. He will triumph over the Common-weal, and bind his brow with a
new garland. That is his magnanimity. He will take it from without, if
they will not let him have it within. He will turn against that
country, which he loved so dearly, that same edge which the Volscian
hearts have felt so long. 'There's some among you have _beheld_ me
fighting,' he says. 'Come, _try upon yourselves_ what you have _seen
me_?' He is only that same narrow, petty, pitiful private man he
always was, in the city, and in the field, at the head of the Roman
legions, and in the legislator's chair, when, to right his single
wrong, or because the people would not let him have _all_ from them,
he comes upon the stage at last with Volscian steel, and sits down,
Captain of the Volscian armies, at Rome's gates.

'This morning,' says Menenius, after the reprieve, 'this morning for
ten thousand of your throats, I'd not have given a doit.' But this is
only the same 'good citizen' we saw in the first scene, who longed to
make a quarry of _thousands of the quartered slaves_, as high as he
could prick his lance! That was 'the altitude of his virtue' _then_.
It is the same citizenship with its conditions altered.

So well and thoroughly has the philosopher done his work
throughout--so completely has he filled the Roman story with his
'richer and bolder meanings,' that when the old, familiar scene, which
makes the denouement of the Roman myth, comes out at last in the
representation, it comes as the crowning point of this Poet's own
invention. It is but the felicitous artistic consummation of the
piece, when this hero, in his conflicting passions and instincts,
gives at last, to one private affection and impulse, the State he
would have sacrificed to another; when he gives to his boy's prattling
inanities, to his wife's silence, to the moisture in her eyes, to a
shade less on her cheek, to the loss of a line there, to his mother's
scolding eloquence, and her imperious commands, the great city of the
gods, the city he would have offered up, with all its sanctities, with
all its household shrines and solemn temples, as one reeking, smoking
holocaust, to his wounded honour. That is the principle of the
citizenship that was 'accounted GOOD' when this play began, when this
play was written.

'He was a kind of nothing, _titleless_,--
Till he had forged himself _a name_ i' the fire
_Of burning Rome_.'

That is his modest answer to the military friend who entreats him to
spare the city.

'Though soft-conscienced men may be content to say _it was for his
country_, he did it to please his mother, and to be partly proud.'

Surely that starving citizen who found himself at the beginning of
this play, 'as lean as a rake' with this hero's legislation, and in
danger of more fatal evils, was not so very wide of the truth, after
all, in his surmise as to the principles of _the heroic statesmanship_
and _warfare_, when he ventured thus early on that suggestion. The
State banished him, as an enemy, and he came back with a Volscian army
to make good that verdict. But his sword without was not more cruel
than his law had been within. It was not starving only that he had
voted for. '_Let them hang_,' ay--(_ay_) 'and BURN TOO,' was 'the
disposition' they had 'thwarted',--measuring 'the quarry of _the
quartered slaves_,' which it _would_ make, 'would the nobility but lay
aside their ruth.' That was the disposition, that was the ignorance,
the blind, brutish, demon ignorance, that 'in good time' they had
thwarted. They had ruled it out and banished it from their city on
pain of death, forever; they had turned it out in its single
impotence, and it came back '_armed_;' for this was one of rude
nature's monarchs, and outstretched heroes.

Yet is he conquered and defeated. The enemy which has made war without
so long, which has put Corioli and Rome in such confusion, has its
warfare within also, and it is there that the hero is beaten and
slain. For there is no state or fixed sovereignty in his soul. Both
sides of the city rise at once; there is a fearful battle, and the
red-eyed Mars is dethroned. The end which he has pursued at such a
cost is within his reach at last; but he cannot grasp it. The city
lies there before him, and his dragon wings encircle it; there is
steel enough in the claws and teeth now, but he cannot take it. For
there is no law and no justice of the peace, and no general within to
put down the conflict of changeful, _warring selfs_, to suppress the
mutiny of mutually opposing, mutually _annihilating_ selfish dictates.

In vain he seeks to make his will immutable; for the single passion
has its hour, this 'would-do' changes. With the impression the passion
changes, and the purpose that is _passionate_ must alter with it,
unless pure obstinacy remain in its place, and fulfil the annulled
dictate. For _such_ purpose, one person of the scientific drama tells
us--one who had had some dramatic experience in it,--

'is but _the slave to memory_,
Of violent birth, and poor validity,
Which now, like fruit unripe, stick on the tree,
But fall unshaken when they mellow be.
What to ourselves _in passion_ we propose,
_The passion ending doth the purpose lose_.'

That is Hamlet's verbal account of it, when he undertakes to reduce
his philosophy to rhyme, and gets the player to insert some sixteen of
his lines quietly into the court performance: that is his _verbal_
account of it; but _his_ action, too, speaks louder and more
eloquently than his words.

The principle of identity and the true self is wanting in this
so-called _self_-ishness. For the true principle of self is the peace
principle, the principle of _state_ within and without.

'_To thine own self be true,
And it must follow as_ the night the day,
_Thou canst not then be false to any man_'

That is the doctrine, the scientific doctrine. But it is not the
passionate, but thoughtful Hamlet, shrinking from blood, with his
resolution sicklied o'er with the pale cast of _conscientious_
thought; it is not the humane, conscience-fettered Hamlet, but the man
who aspires to make his single humours the law of the universal world,
in whom the poet will show now this want of state and sovereignty.

He steels himself against Cominius; he steels himself against
Menenius. 'He sits in gold,' Cominius reports, '_his eye red_ as
'twould burn Rome'--a small flambeau the poet thinks for so large a
city. 'He no more remembers his mother than an eight year old horse,'
is the poor old Menenius querulous account of him, when with a cracked
heart he returns and reports how the conditions of a man are altered
in him: but while he is making that already-quoted report of this
superhuman growth and assumption of a divine authority and honour in
the Military Chieftain, the Poet is quietly starting a little piece of
philosophical machinery that will shake out that imperial pageant, and
show the slave that is hidden under it, for it is no _man_ at all,
but, in very deed, a slave, as Hamlet calls it, '_passion's slave_,'
'a pipe for fortune's finger _to sound what stop she please_.' For
that _state_,--that command--depends on that which '_changes_,'--
fortuities, impressions, nay, it has the principle of revolution
within it. It is its nature to change. The single passion cannot
engross the large, many-passioned, complex nature, so rich and various
in motivity, so large and comprehensive in its surveys--the single
passion seeks in vain to subdue it to its single end. That reigning
passion must give way when it is spent, or sooner if its master come.
You cannot make it look to-day as it looked yesterday; you cannot make
it look when its rival affection enters as it looked when it reigned
alone. An hour ago, the hue of resolution on its cheek glowed immortal
red. It was strong enough to defy God and all his creatures; it would
annul all worlds but that one which it was god of.

This is the speech of it on the lips of the actor who comes in to
interpret to us _the thinker's_ inaction, the thinker's irresolution,
for 'it is _conscience_ that makes cowards of us all.' Here is a man
who is resolute enough. _His will_ is not 'puzzled.' _His_ thoughts,
_his_ scruples will not divide and destroy his purpose. _Here_ is THE
UNITY which precedes ACTION. This man is going to be revenged for his
father. 'What would you undertake to do?' 'To cut his throat i' the

'To hell allegiance, vows to the blackest devil.
Conscience and grace to the profoundest pit.
I _dare_ damnation. To this point I stand
That both the worlds _I_ give to negligence,
Let come what comes, _only_ I'll be revenged
Most thoroughly for _my_ father.' [_Only_.]

That is your passionate speech, your speech of fire. That was what the
principle of vindictiveness said when it was _you_, when it mastered
you, and called _itself_ by your name. Ay, it has many names, and many
lips; but it is always _one_. That was what it said an hour ago; and
now it is shrunk away you know not where, you cannot rally it, and you
are there confounded, self-abandoned, self-annulled, a forgery,
belying the identity which your visible form--which your _human_ form,
was made to promise,--a slave,--a pipe for _fortune's_ finger. This is
the kind of action which is criticised in the scientific drama, and
'rejected'; and the conclusion after these reviews and rejections,
'after every species of rejection,'--the _affirmation_ is, that there
is but one principle that is _human_, and that is GOOD yesterday,
to-day, and for ever; and whose is true to that is true, in the human
form, to the self which was, and will be. He cannot then be false to
his yesterday, or tomorrow; he cannot then be false to himself; he
cannot then be false to any man; for that is the self that is one in
us all--that is the self of _reason_ and conscience, not passion.

But as for this affection that is tried here now, that the diagram of
this scene exhibits so tangibly, 'as it were, to the eye,'--this poor
and private passion, that sits here, with its imperial crown on its
head, in the place of God, but lacking His 'mercy,'--this passion of
the petty man, that has made itself so hugely visible with its
monstrous outstretching, that lies stretched out and glittering on
these hills, with its dragon coils unwound, with its deadly
fangs--those little fangs, that crush our private hearts, and torture
and rend our daily lives--exposed in this great solar microscope,
striking the _common-weal_,--as for this petty, usurping passion,
there is a spectacle approaching that will undo it.

Out of that great city there comes a little group of forms, which
yesterday this hero 'could not stay to pick out of that pile which had
offended him,' that was his word,--which yesterday he would have burnt
in it without a scruple. Towards the great Volscian army that
beleaguers Rome it comes--towards the pavilion where the Volscian
captain sits in gold, with his wings outspread, it shapes its course.
To other eyes, it is but a group of Roman ladies, two or three, clad
in mourning, with their attendants, and a prattling child with them;
but, with the first glance at it from afar, the great chieftain
trembles, and begins to clasp his armour. He could think of them and
doom them, in his over-mastering passion of revenge, with its heroic
infinity of mastery triumphant in him,--he could _think_ of them and
doom them; but the impressions of _the senses_ are more vivid, and the
passions wait on them. As that group draws nearer, one sees, by the
light of this Poet's painting, a fair young matron, with subdued mien
and modest graces, and an elder one, leading a wilful boy, with a
'confirmed countenance,' pattering by her side; just such a group as
one might see anywhere in the lordly streets of Palatinus,--much such
a one as one might find anywhere under those thousand-doomed plebeian

But to this usurping 'private,' to this man of passion and affection,
and not reason--this man of private and particular motives only, and
blind partial aims, it is more potent than Rome and all her claims; it
outweighs Rome and all her weal--'it is worth of senators and
patricians a city full, of tribunes and plebeians a sea and land
full'--it outweighs all the Volscians, and their trust in him.

His reasons of state begin to falter, and change their aspects, as
that little party draws nearer; and he finds himself within its
magnetic sphere.

For this is the pattern-man, for the man of mere impression and
instinct. He is full of feeling within his sphere, though it is a
sphere which does not embrace plebeians,--which crushes Volscians with
clarions, and drums, and trumpets, and poets' voices to utter its
exultations. Within that private sphere, his sensibilities are
exquisite and poetic in their depth and delicacy. He is not wanting in
the finer impulses, in the nobler affections of the particular and
private nature. He is not a base, brutal man. Even in his martial
conquests, he will not take 'leaden spoons.' His soul is with a divine
ambition fired to have _all_. It is instinct, but it is the instinct
of the human; it is 'conservation with _advancement_' that he is
blindly pursuing, for this is a generous nature. He knows the heights
that reason lends to instinct in the human kind, and the infinities
that affection borrows from it.

And the Poet himself has large and gentle views of 'this particular,'
scientific views of it, scientific recognitions of its laws, such as
no philosophic school was ever before able to pronounce. Even here, on
this sad and tragic ground of a subdued and debased common-weal, he
will not cramp its utterance--he will give it leave to speak, in all
its tenderness and beauty, in its own sweet native dialect, all its
poetic wildness, its mad verities, its sober impossibilities, even at
the moment in which he asks in statesmanship for the rational motive,
undrenched in humours and affections--for the motive of the weal that
is common, and not for the motive of that which is private and

In vain the hero struggles with his yielding passion, and seeks to
retain it. In vain he struggles with a sentiment which he himself
describes as 'a gosling's instinct,' and seeks to subdue it. In vain
he rallies his pride, and says, 'Let it be _virtuous_ to be
_obstinate_'; and determines to stand 'as if a man were author of
himself, and knew no other kin.' His mother kneels. It is but a frail,
aged woman kneeling to the victorious chieftain of the Volscian hosts;
but to him it is 'as if _Olympus_ to _a mole-hill_ stooped in
supplication.' His boy looks at him with an eye in which great Nature
speaks, and says, 'Deny not'; he sees the tears in the dove's eyes of
the beloved, he hears her dewy voice; we hear it, too, through the
Poet's art, in the words she speaks; and he forgets his part. We reach
the 'grub' once more. The dragon wings of armies melt from him. He is
his young boy's father--he is his fair young wife's beloved.

'O a kiss, long _as_ my exile, sweet _as_ my revenge.'

There's no decision yet. The scales are even now. But there is another
there, waiting to be saluted, and he himself is but a boy--his own
mother's boy again, at her feet. It is she that schools and lessons
him; it is she that conquers him. It _was_ 'her boy,' after all--it
was her boy still, that was 'coming home.'

Well might Menenius say--

'_This Volumnia_ is worth of consuls, senators, patricians,
A city full; of tribunes _such as you_,
A sea and land full.'

But let us take the philosophic report of this experiment as we find
it; for on the carefullest study, when once it is put in its
connections, when once we 'have heard the argument,' we shall not find
anything in it to spare. But we must not forget that this is still
'the election,' the ignorant election of the common-weal which is
under criticism, and though this election has been revoked in the play
already, and this is a banished man we are trying here, there was a
play in progress when this play was played, in which that revocation
was yet to come off; and this Poet was anxious that the subject should
be considered first from the most comprehensive grounds, so that _the
principle of 'the election_' need never again be called in question,
so that the revolution should end in the state, and not in the
principle of revolution.

'My wife comes foremost; then the honoured mould
Wherein this trunk was framed, and in her hand
The grand-child to her blood. But, out, _affection_!
All bond and privilege of nature, break!
_Let it be virtuous to be obstinate_.--
What is that curtsey worth? or those doves' eyes,
Which can _make gods forsworn_?

['He speaks of the people as if he were a god to punish, and not a man
of infirmity.']

'I melt, _and am not_
Of STRONGER EARTH than others.--My mother bows;
As if Olympus to a molehill should
In supplication nod: and my young boy
Hath an aspect of intercession, which
Great Nature cries, 'Deny not!'--Let the Volsces
Plough Rome, and harrow Italy; I'll never
Be such a GOSLING to obey INSTINCT; but stand,
As if a MAN were author of himself,
And knew no other kin.
These eyes are not the same I wore in Rome.

The sorrow that delivers us thus changed,
Makes you think so.

[The objects are altered, not the eyes. We are changed. But it is with
sorrow. She bids him note that alteration, and puts upon it the blame
of his loss of love. But that is just the kind of battery he is not
provided for. His resolution wavers. That unrelenting warrior, that
fierce revengeful man is gone already, and forgot to leave his
part--the words he was to speak are wanting.]

_Cor_. Like a dull actor now,
I have forgot my part, _and I am out_,
_Even to a full disgrace_. Best of my flesh,
Forgive my tyranny; but do not say,
For that, Forgive our Romans.--O, a kiss
Long as my exile, sweet as my revenge!
Now by the jealous queen of heaven, that kiss
I carried from thee, dear; and my true lip
Hath virgin'd it e'er since.--You gods! I prate,
And the _most noble mother of the world_
Leave unsaluted: Sink, my knee, t'the earth; [_Kneels_.]
Of _the deep duty_ more _impression_ show
_Than that of common sons_.

_Vol_. O, stand up bless'd!
Whilst, with no softer cushion than the flint,
I kneel before thee; and unproperly
_Show duty, as mistaken_--

[Note it--'as mistaken,' for this is the kind of learning described
elsewhere, which differs from received opinions, and must, therefore,
pray in aid of similes.]

--and improperly
Show DUTY, as mistaken all the while
Between the child and parent.

[And the prostrate form of that which should command, is represented
in the kneeling mother. The Poet himself points us to this
hieroglyphic. It is the common-weal that kneels in her person, and the
rebel interprets for us. It is the violated law that stoops for

_Cor_. What is this?
Your knees to me? to _your corrected son_?
_Then_ let the pebbles on the hungry beach
Fillip the stars; _then_ let the _mutinous_ winds
Strike the proud cedars 'gainst the fiery sun;
_Murdering impossibility, to make
What cannot be, slight work_.

_Vol_. Thou _art my warrior;
I holp to frame thee_.

[But it is not of the little Marcius only, the hero--the Roman hero in
germ--that she speaks--there is more than her Roman part _here_, when
she adds--]

_Vol_. This is a poor epitome of yours,
Which _by the interpretation_ of _full time_
May show, _like all, yourself_.

[And hear now what benediction the true hero can dare to utter, what
prayer the true hero can dare to pray, through this faltering,
fluctuating, martial hero's lips, when, 'that whatsoever god who led
him' is failing him, and the flaws of impulse are swaying him to and
fro, and darkening him for ever.]

_Cor._ 'The god of soldiers
_With the consent of_ SUPREME JOVE,'--[the Capitolian, the
god of state]--'inform
_Thy thoughts_ with NOBLENESS;'--[_inform thy thoughts._]
'that thou may'st prove
_The shame_ unvulnerable, and stick i'the wars
Like a great sea-mark, _standing every flaw_,
And saving those that eye thee.'

[But _this_ hero's conclusion for himself, and his impulsive nature

'Not of a woman's tenderness to be,
Requires nor child, nor woman's face to see.
I have sat too long.'

But the mother will not let him go, and her stormy eloquence completes
the conquest which that dumb rhetoric had before well nigh achieved.

Yes, Menenius was right in his induction. His abstraction and brief
summing up of 'this Volumnia' and her history, is the true one. She is
very potent in the business of the state, whether you take her in her
first literal acceptation, as the representative mother, or whether
you take her in that symbolical and allusive comprehension, to which
the emphasis on the name is not unfrequently made to point, as 'the
nurse and mother of all humanities,' the instructor of the state, the
former of its nobility, who _in_-forms their thoughts with nobleness,
such nobleness, and such notions of it as they have, and who fits them
for the place they are to occupy in the body of the common-weal.

Menenius has not exaggerated in his exposition the relative importance
of _this_ figure among those which the dumb-show of this play
exhibits. Among the 'transient hieroglyphics' which the diseased
common-weal produces on the scientific stage, when the question of its
CURE is the question of the Play--in that great crowd of forms, in
that moving, portentous, stormy pageant of senators, and consuls, and
tribunes, and plebeians, whose great acts fill the scene--there are
none more significant than these two, whom we saw at first 'seated on
two low stools, sewing'; these two of the wife and mother--the
commanding mother, and the 'gracious silence.'

'This Volumnia'--yes, let her school him, for it is from her school
that he has come: let her conquer him, for she is the conserver of
this harm. It is she who makes of it a tradition. To its utmost bound
of consequences, she is the mother of it, and accountable to God and
man for its growth and continuance. Consuls, and senators, and
patricians, and tribunes, such as we have, are powerless without her,
are powerless against her. The state begins with her; but, instead of
it, she has bred and nursed the destroyer of the state. Let her
conquer him, though her life-blood must flow for it now. This play is
the Cure of the Common-weal, the convulsed and dying Common-weal; and
whether the assault be from within or without, this woman must undo
her work. The tribunes have sent for her now: she must go forth
without shrinking, and slay her son. She was the true mother; she
trained him for the common-weal, she would have made a patrician of
him, but that craved a noble cunning; she was not instructed in it;
she must pay the penalty of her ignorance--the penalty of her
traditions--and slay him now. There is no help for it, for she has
made with her traditions a thing that no common-weal can bear.

Woe for this Volumnia! Woe for the common-weal whose chiefs she has
reared, whose great men and 'GOOD CITIZENS' she has made! Woe for her!
Woe for the _common_-weal, for _her_ boy approaches! The land is
groaning and shaken; the faces of men gather blackness; the clashing
of arms is heard in the streets, blood is flowing, the towns are
blazing. Great Rome will soon be sacked with Romans, for her boy is
coming home; the child of her instinct, the son of her ignorance, the
son of her RELIGION, is _coming home_.

'O mother, mother!
What hast thou done?....
O my mother, mother! O,
You have won _a happy victory to Rome_,--
But for your son--'

Alas for him, and his gentle blood, and noble breeding, and his
patrician greatness! Woe for the unlearned mother's son, who has made
him great with such a training, that Rome's weal and his, Rome's
greatness and his, must needs contend together--that 'Rome's happy
victory' must needs be the blaze that shall darken him for ever!

Yet he storms again, with something like his old patrician fierceness;
and yet not that, the tone is altered; he is humbler and tamer than he
was, and he says himself, 'It is the first time that ever I have
learned to scold'; but he is stung, even to boasting of his old heroic
deeds, when Aufidius taunts him with his un-martial, un-_divine_
infirmity, and brings home to him in very words, at last, the Poet's
suppressed verdict, the Poet's deferred sentence, GUILTY!--of what? He
is but A BOY, his nurse's boy, and he undertook _the state_! He is but
A SLAVE, and he was caught climbing to the imperial chair, and putting
on the purple. He is but 'a _dog_ to the commonalty,' and he was
sitting in the place of God.

Aufidius owns, indeed, to his own susceptibility to these particular
and private affections. When Coriolanus turns to him after that appeal
from Volumnia has had its effect, and asks:--

'Now, good Aufidius,
Were _you in my stead_, say, would _you_ have heard
A mother _less_, or granted _less_, Aufidius?'

He answers, guardedly, 'I was moved _withal_.' But the philosopher has
his word there, too, as well as the Poet, slipped in under the Poet's,
covertly, 'I was _moved_ with-_all_.' [It is the Play of the
Common-weal.] And what should the single private man, the man of
exclusive affections and changeful humours, do with the weal of the
whole? In his noblest conditions, what business has he in the state?
and who shall vote to give him the out-stretched wings and claws of
Volscian armies, that he may say of Rome, _all's mine_, and give it to
his wife or mother? Who shall follow in _his_ train, to plough Rome
and harrow Italy, who lays himself and all his forces at his mother's
feet, and turns back at her word?

_Aufidius_. You lords and HEADS of the STATE, perfidiously
Has he betrayed _your business_, and given up
For certain drops of salt, _your city_ Rome--
I say, _your city_--to _his wife and mother:
Breaking his oath and resolution like
A twist of rotten silk; never admitting
Counsel of the war_, but _at his nurse's tears_
He whined and roar'd away your victory,
That pages blushed at him, and men of heart
_Looked wondering at each other_.

[There is a look which has come down to us. That is
Elizabethan. That is the suppressed Elizabethan.]

_Cor_. Hear'st thou, _Mars_?

_Auf_. Name not _the god_ thou _Boy_ of tears.

_Cor_. _Ha_!

_Auf_. No MORE. [You are no more.]

_Cor_. Measureless liar, thou hast made my heart
Too great for what contains it. _Boy? O Slave_!
.... Boy? False _hound_!

[These are the names that are flying about here, now that the martial
chiefs are criticising each other: it is no matter which side they

'_Boy? O slave_!
... Boy? False hound! ['He is a very dog to the commonalty.']
Alone I did it. BOY?

But it is Volumnia herself who searches to the quick the principle of
this boyish sovereignty, in her satire on the undivine passion she
wishes to unseat. It is thus that she upbraids the hero with his
un_manly_, ungracious, ignoble purpose:--

'Speak to me, son.

Thou hast affected the fine strains of HONOUR,
To imitate the graces of the gods;
To tear with thunder the wide cheeks o' the air,
And yet to charge thy sulphur with a bolt
That should but rive an oak. Why dost not speak?
Think'st thou it honourable for a NOBLE MAN
Still to remember wrongs?

For that is the height of the scientific affirmation also; the other
was, in scientific language, its 'anticipation.' He wants nothing of a
god but an eternity, and a heaven to throne in (slight deficiences in
a god already). 'Yes, mercy, if you paint him truly.' 'I paint him in

DIVINITY, PATRIOTISM. We are getting a number of definitions here,
vague popular terms, scientifically fixed, scientifically cleared,
destined to waver, and be confused and mixed with other and fatally
different things in the popular apprehension no more--when once this
science is unfolded for that whole people for whom it was
delivered--no more for ever.

There is no open dramatic embodiment in this play of the true ideal
nobility, and manliness, and honour, and divinity. This is the false
affirmation which is put upon the stage here, to be tried, and
examined, and rejected. For it is to this Poet's purpose to show--and
very much to his purpose to show, sometimes--what is not the true
affirmation. His method is critical, but his rejection contains the
true definition. The whole play is contrived to shape it here; all
hands combine to frame it. Volscians and Romans conspire to pronounce
it; the world is against this 'one man' and his part-liness, though he
be indeed 'every man.' He himself has been compelled to pronounce it;
for the speaker for the whole is the speaker in each of us, and
pronounces his sentences on ourselves with our own lips. 'Being gentle
wounded craves a noble cunning,' is the word of the noble, who comes
back with a Volscian army to exhibit upon the stage this grand
hieroglyphic, this grand dramatic negative of that nobility.

But it is from the lips of the mother, brought into this deadly
antagonism with the manliness she has trained, compelled now to echo
that popular rejection, that the Poet can venture to speak out, at
last, from the depths of his true heroism. It is this Volumnia who
strikes now to the heart of the play with her satire on this
affectation of the graces of the gods,--this assumption of nobility,
and manliness, and the fine strains of _honour_,--in one who is led
only by the blind demon gods, 'that keep this dreadful pother o'er our
heads,'--in one who is bounded and shut in after all to the range of
his own poor petty private passions, shut up to a poverty of soul
which forbids those assumptions, limited to a nature in which those
_strictly_ human terms can be only affectations, one who concentrates
all his glorious _special_ human gifts on the pursuit of ends for
which the lower natures are also furnished. Honour, forsooth! the fine
strains of honour, and the graces of the gods. Look at that Volscian
army there.

'To tear with thunder _the wide cheeks o' the air,
And yet_ to charge thy sulphur with a bolt
That should but rive an oak.
_Why dost not speak_?'

He can not. There is no speech for that. It does not bear _review_.

'Why dost not speak?
Think'st thou it honourable for a noble man
_Still_ to remember wrongs?'

'Let it be _virtuous_ to be _obstinate_,' let there be no better
principle of that identity which we insist on in men, that firmness
which we call manliness, and the cherished _wrong_ is honour.

It is but an interrogative point, but the height of our affirmation is
taken with it. It is a figure of speech and _intensifies_ the
affirmative with its irony.

'This a consul? No.'

'No more, but e'en a woman, and COMMANDED
By such _poor_ passion as the maid that milks,
And does the meanest chares.' [QUEEN.]

'Give me that _man_ that is not _passion's slave_.

Since my dear soul _was mistress of her choice,
And could of men distinguish her election_,
She hath seal'd thee for herself: _for_ thou hast been
As one, in suffering _all_, that _suffers_ nothing.

But the man who rates so highly 'this single mould of Marcius,' and
the wounded name of it, that he will _forge_ another for it 'i' the
fire of burning Rome,' who will hurt the world to ease the rankling of
his single wrong, who will plough Rome and harrow Italy to cool the
fever of his thirst for vengeance; this is not the man, this is not
the hero, this is not THE GOD, that the scientific review accepts.
Whoso has put him in the chair of state on earth, or in heaven, must
'revoke that ignorant election.' Whatever our 'perfect example in
civil life' may be, and we are, perhaps, not likely to get it openly
in the form of an historic '_composition_' on this author's stage,
whatever name and shape it may take when it comes, this evidently is
not it. This Caius Marcius is dismissed for the present from this
Poet's boards. This curule chair that stands here empty yet, for aught
that we can see, and this crown of 'olives of endless age,' is not for

'Would you proceed especially against Caius Marcius?
Against him first.

'We proceed first by negatives, and conclude after every
species of rejection.'

On the surface of this play, lies everywhere the question of the
Common-Weal, in its relation to the good that is private and
particular, scientifically reviewed, as a question in proportion,--as
the question of the whole against the part,--of the greater against
the less,--nay, as the question of that which is against that which is
not. For it is a treatment which throws in passing, the shadow of the
old metaphysical suspicion and scepticism on that chaotic
unaxiomatical condition of things which the scientific eye discovers
here, for the new philosophy with all its new comprehension of the
actual, with all its new convergency on practice, is careful to inform
us that it observes, notwithstanding the old distinction between
'being and becoming.' This is an IDEAL philosophy also, though the
notions of nature are more respected in it, than the spontaneous
unconsidered notions of men.

It is the largeness of the objective whole, the historic whole and the
faculty in man of comprehending it, and the sense of relation and
obligation to it, as the highest historic law,--the _formal_, the
_essential law_ of _kind_ in him, it is the breadth of reason, it is
the circumference of conscience, it is the _grandeur_ of duty which
this author arrays here scientifically against that oblivion and
ignoring of the _whole_, that forgetfulness of the world, and the
universal tie which the ignorance of the unaided sense and the
narrowness of passion and private affection create, whether in the
one, or the few, or the many. It is the Weal of the whole against the
will of the part, no matter where the limit of that partiality, or
'partliness,' as the '_poor_ citizen' calls it, is fixed whether it be
the selfishness of the single self, or whether the household tie
enlarges its range, whether it be the partiality of class or faction,
or the partiality of kindred or race, or the partiality of geographic
limits, the question of the play, the question of the whole, of the
worthier whole, is still pursued with scientific exaction. It is the
conflict with axioms which is represented here, and not with wordy
axioms only, not with abstractions good for the human mind only, in
its abstract self-sustained speculations, but with historical axioms,
axioms which the universal nature knows, laws which have had the
consent of things since this nature began, laws which passed long ago
the universal commons.

It is the false unscientific state which is at war, not with abstract
speculation merely, but with the nature of things and the received
logic of the universe, which this man of a practical science wishes to
call attention to. It is the crowning and enthroning of that which is
private and particular, it is the anointing of passion and instinct,
it is the arming of the absolute--the demon--will; it is the putting
into the hands of the ignorant part the sceptre of the whole, which
strikes the scientific Reviewer as the thing to be noted here. And by
way of proceeding by negatives first, he undertakes to convey to
others the impression which this state of things makes upon his own
mind, as pointedly as may be, consistently with those general
intentions which determine his proceedings and the conditions which
limit them, and he is by no means timid in availing himself of the
capabilities of his story to that end. The true spectacle of the
play,--the principal hieroglyphic of it,--the one in which this
hieroglyphic criticism approaches the metaphysical intention most
nearly, is one that requires interpretation. It does not report itself
to the eye at once. The showman stops to tell us before he produces
it, that it _is_ a symbol,--that this is one of the places where he
'prays in aid of similes,'--that this is a specimen of what he calls
elsewhere 'allusive' writing. The true spectacle of the play,--the
grand hieroglyphic of it,--is that view of the city, and the woman in
the foreground kneeling _for it_, 'to her _son_, her _corrected_ son,'
begging for pardon of her corrected rebel--hanging for life on the
chance of his changeful moods and passions. It is _Rome_ that lies
stretched out there upon her hills, in all her visible greatness and
claims to reverence; it is Rome with her Capitolian crown, forth from
which the Roman matron steps, and with no softer cushion than the
flint, in the dust at the rebel's feet, kneels '_to show_'--as she
tells us--to show as clearly as the conditions of the exhibition allow
it to be exhibited, DUTY as mistaken,--'_as_ mistaken,'--_all the
while_ between _the child_ and _parent_.

It is Jupiter that stoops; it is Olympus doing obeisance to the
mole-hill; it is the divineness of the universal law--the _formal_ law
in man--that is prostrate and suppliant in her person; and the Poet
exhausts even his own powers of expression, and grows inarticulate at
last, in seeking to convey his sense of this ineffable, impossible,
historical pretension. It is as 'if Olympus to a mole-hill should _in
supplication nod_; it is as if _the pebbles_ on the hungry beach
should _fillip the stars_; as if _the mutinous winds_ should strike
the proud cedars against the fiery sun, _murdering impossibility_, to
make what _can not be_, slight work,'--what can not _be_.

That was the spectacle of the play, and that was the world's spectacle
when the play was written. Nay, worse; a thousandfold more wild and
pitiful, and confounding to the intellect, and revolting to its
sensibilities, was the spectacle that the State offered then to the
philosophic eye. The Poet has all understated his great case. He has
taken the pattern-man in the private affections, the noble man of mere
instinct and passion, and put _him_ in the chair of state;--the man
whom nature herself had chosen and anointed, and crowned with kingly

'As waves before a vessel under sail
So men obeyed him, and fell below his stern,'

'If he would but incline to the people, there never was a
worthier man.'

Not to the natural private affections and instincts, touched with the
nobility of human sense,--not to the loyalty of the husband,--not to
the filial reverence and duty of the son, true to that private and
personal relationship at least; not to the gentleness of the
patrician, true to that private patricianship also, must England owe
her _weal_--such weal as she could beg and wheedle from her lord and
ruler then. Not from the conquering hero with his fresh oakleaf on his
brow, and the command of the god who led him in his speech and
action,--and not from his lineal successor merely, must England beg
her welfare then. It was not the venerable mother, or the gentle wife,
with her dove's eyes able to make gods of earth forsworn, who could
say then, 'The laws of England are at my commandment.'

Crimes that the historic pen can only point to,--not record,--low,
illiterate, brutish stupidities, mad-cap folly, and wanton
extravagancies and caprices, in their ideal impersonations--_these_
were the gods that England, in the majesty of her State, in the
sovereignty of her chartered weal, must abase herself to then. To the
vices of tyranny, to low companions and their companions, and _their_
kindred, the State must cringe and kneel then. To _these_,--men who
meddled with affairs of State,--who took, even at such a time, the
State to be _their_ business,--must address themselves; for these were
the councils in which England's peace and war were settled then, and
the Tribune could enter them only in disguise. His _veto_ could not
get spoken outright, it could only be pronounced in under-tones and
circumlocutions. Not with noble, eloquent, human appeals, could the
soul of power be reached and conquered then--the soul of him 'within
whose eyes sat twenty thousand deaths,' the man of the thirty legions,
to whom this _argument_ must be dedicated. 'Ducking observances,'
basest flatteries, sycophancies past the power of man to utter,
personal humiliations, and prostrations that seemed to teach 'the mind
a most inherent baseness,' _these_ were the weapons,--the required
weapons of the statesman's warfare then. From these 'dogs of the
commonalty' men who were indeed 'noble,' whose 'fame' did indeed 'fold
in the orb o' the world,' must take then, as a purchase or a gift,
deliverance from physical restraint, and life itself. These were the
days when _England's_ victories were 'blubbered and whined away,' in
such a sort, that 'pages blushed at it, and men of heart looked
wondering at each other.'

And, when science began first to turn her eye on history, and propose
to herself the relief of the human estate, as her end, and the
scientific arts as her means, this was the spectacle she found herself
expected to endure; this was the state of things she found herself
called upon to sanction and conserve. She could not immediately reform
it--she must produce first her doctrine of '_true_ forms,' her
scientific definitions and precepts based on them, and her doctrine of
constructions. She could not openly condemn it; but she could
criticise and reject it by means of that method which is 'sometimes
necessary in the sciences,' and to which 'those who would let in new
light upon the human mind must have recourse.' She could seize the
grand hieroglyphic of the heroic past, and make it 'point with its
finger' that which was unspeakable,--her scorn of it. She could borrow
the freedom of the old Roman lips, to repronounce, in her own new
dialect,--not their anticipation of her _veto_ only, but her eternal
affirmation,--the word of her consulship, the rule of her
nobility,--the nobility of being,--being in the human,--the nobility
of manliness,--_the divinity of State_, the _true_ doctrine of
it;--and, to speak _truly, 'Antiquitas seculi, juventus mundi._'



'I do not like the fashion of your garments. You will say they
are _Persian_ attire; but let them be changed.'--
_The King to Tom o' Bedlam._

'Would you proceed especially against _Caius Marcius_?
Against him _first_.'

It is the cure of the Common-weal which this author has undertaken,
for he found himself pre-elected to the care of the people and to the
world's tribuneship. But he handles his subject in the natural,
historical order, in the chronological order,--and not here only, but
in that play of which this is a part,--of which this is the play
within the Play,--in that grand, historical proceeding on the world's
theatre, which it was given to the author of this play to institute.

He begins with the physical wants of men. The hunger, and cold, and
weariness, and all the physical suffering and destitution of that
human condition which is the condition of the many, has arrested his
human eye, with its dumb, patient eloquence, and it is _that_ which
makes the starting point of his revolution. He translates its mute
language, he anticipates its word. He is setting in movement
operations that are intended to make 'coals cheap'; he proposes to
have corn at his own price. He has so much confidence in what his
tongue can do in the way of flattery, that he expects to come back
beloved of all the trades in Rome. He will 'cog their hearts from
them,' and get elected _consul_ yet, with all their voices.

'Scribbling seems to be the sign of a disordered age,' says the
philosopher, who finds so much occasion for the use of that art about
these days. 'It seems as if it were the season for vain things when
the hurtful oppress us; in a time when doing ill is common, to do
nothing but what signifies nothing is a kind of commendation. 'Tis my
comfort that I shall be one of the last that are called in question;
and, whilst the greater offenders are calling to account, I shall have
leisure to amend; for it would be unreasonable to punish _the less
troublesome_, whilst we are infested with _the greater_. As the
physician said to one who presented him his finger to dress, and who,
he perceived, had an ulcer in his lungs, "Friend," said he, "it is not
now time to concern yourself about your fingers-ends". And
_yet_--[_and yet_]--I saw, some years ago, a person whose name and
memory I have in very great esteem, in the very height of our great
disorders, when there was neither law nor justice put in execution,
_nor magistrate_ that performed _his office--no more than there is
now_--publish, I know not what pitiful _reformations_, about _clothes,
cookery, and law chicanery_. These are amusements wherewith to feed a
people that are ill-used, _to show that they are not totally

That is the account of it. That is the history of this innovation,
beginning with books, proposing pitiful reformations in clothes, and
cookery, and law chicanery. That would serve to show an ill-used
people that there was some care for them stirring, some tribuneship at
work already. '_What I say of physic generally_, may serve AS AN
EXAMPLE OF ALL OTHER SCIENCES,' says _this same_ scribbler, under his
scribbling cognomen. 'We certainly _intend_ to comprehend them _all_,'
says the graver authority, 'such as Ethics, Politics, and Logic.'

That is, where we are exactly in this so entertaining performance,
which was also designed for the benefit of an ill-used people; for
this candidate for the chief magistracy is the _Aedile_ also, and
while he stands for his place these spectacles will continue.

It is that physical suffering of 'the poor citizens' that he begins
with here. It is the question of the price of corn with which he opens
his argument. The dumb and patient people are on his stage already;
dumb and patient no longer, but clamoring against the surfeiting and
wild wanton waste of the few; clamoring for their share in God's
common gifts to men, and refusing to take any longer the portion which
a diseased state puts down for them. But he tells us from the outset,
that _this_ claim will be prosecuted in such a manner as to 'throw
forth greater themes for insurrection's arguing.'

Though all the wretched poor were clothed and fed with imperial
treasure, with imperial luxury and splendour--though all the arts
which are based on the knowledge of physical causes should be put in
requisition to relieve their need--though the scientific discoveries
and inventions which are pouring in upon human life from that field of
scientific inquiry which our men of science have already cultivated
their golden harvests, should reach at last poor Tom himself--though
that scientific movement now in progress should proceed till it has
reached the humblest of our human kin, and surrounded him with all the
goods of the private and particular nature, with the sensuous luxuries
and artistic elegancies and refinements of the lordliest home--that
good which is the distinctive human good, that good which is the
constitutional human _end_, that good, that formal and essential good,
which it is the end of this philosophy to bring to man, would not
necessarily be realised.

For _that_, and nothing short of that, the '_advancement_' of the
species to that which it is blindly reaching for, painfully groping
for--its form in nature, its ideal perfection--the advancement of it
to something more noble than the nobility of a nobler kind of
vermin--a state which involves another kind of individual growth and
greatness, one which involves a different, a distinctively 'human
principle' and tie of congregation, is that which makes the ultimate
intention of this philosophy.

The organization of that large, complex, difficult form in nature, in
which the many are united in 'the greater congregation'; that more
extensive whole, of which the units are each, not simple forms, but
the complicated, most highly complex, and not yet subdued complexity,
which the individual form of man in itself constitutes; this so
difficult result of nature's combinations and her laws of combination,
labouring, struggling towards its consummation, but disordered,
threatened, convulsed, asking aid of _art_, is the subject; the cure
of it, the cure and healthful regimen of it, the problem.

And it is a born doctor who has taken it in hand this time; one of
your natural geniuses, with an inward vocation for the art of
_healing_, instructed of nature beforehand in that mystery and
profession, and appointed of her to that ministry. Wherever you find
him, under whatever disguise, you will find that his mind is running
on the structure of _bodies_, the means of their conservation and
growth, and the remedies for their disorders, and decays, and
antagonisms, without and within. He has a most extraordinary and
incurable natural bent and determination towards medicine and cures in
general; he is always inquiring into the anatomy of things and the
qualities of drugs, analysing them and mixing them, finding the art of
their compounds, and modifying them to suit his purposes, or inventing
new ones; for, like Aristotle, to whom he refers for a precedent, he
wishes 'to have a hand in everything.'

But he is not a quack. He has no respect for the old authoritative
prescriptions, if they fail in practice, whether they come in Galen's
name, or another's; but he is just as severe upon 'the empiricutics,'
on the other hand, and he objects to 'a horse-drench' for the human
constitution in the greater congregation, as much as he does in that
distinctively complex delicate structure which the single individual
human frame in itself constitutes.

Menenius [speaking of the letter which Volumnia has told him of, and
putting in a word on this Doctor's behalf, for it is not very much to
the purpose on his own] says, 'It gives me an estate of _seven years'_
health, _during which time I will make a lip at the physician_.' A
lip--_a lip_--and 'what a deal of scorn looks beautiful on it,' when
once you get to see it. But this is the play of 'conservation with
advancement.' It is the cure and preservation of the common-weal, to
which all lines are tending, to which all points and parentheses are
pointing; and thus he continues: 'The _most sovereign prescription_ in
_Galen_ is but empiricutic, and to _this_ preservative of no better
report than a horse-drench.' So we shall find, when we come to try
it--_this_ preservative,--this conservation.

This Doctor has a great opinion of nature. He thinks that 'the
physician must rely on her powers for his cures in the last resort,
and be able to make prescriptions of _them_, instead of making them
out of his own pre-conceits, if he would not have of his cure a
_conceit_ also.' His opinion is, that 'nature is made better by no
mean, but she herself hath made that mean;'--

'So o'er that art
Which you say adds to nature, is an art
That nature makes...
...This is an art
Which does _mend nature_, _change_ it rather: but
_The art itself_ is nature.'

That is the Poet's view, but the Philosopher is of the same opinion.
'Man while _operating_ can only _apply or withdraw_ natural bodies,
nature internally _performs_ the rest.' Those who become _practically_
versed in nature are the mechanic, the mathematician, the alchemist,
and _the magician_, but _all_, as matters now stand with faint efforts
and meagre success.'... 'The syllogism forces _assent_ and not

'_The subtlety of nature is far beyond that of sense or of the
understanding._ The syllogism consists of propositions, these of
words, words are the signs of notions, notions represent things. If
our notions are fantastical, the whole structure falls to the ground;
but they are for the most part improperly abstracted and deduced from

There is the whole of it; there it is in a nut-shell. As we are very
apt to find it in this method of delivery by aphorisms; there is the
shell of it at least. And considering 'the torture and press of the
method,' and the instruments of torture then in use for correcting the
press, on these precise questions, there is as much of the kernel,
perhaps, as could reasonably be looked for, in those particular
aphorisms; and 'aphorisms representing a _knowledge broken_, do
_invite_ men to inquire further;' so _this_ writer of them tells us.

With all his reliance on nature then, and with all his scorn of the
impracticable and arrogant conceits of learning as he finds it, and of
the quackeries that are practised in its name, this is no empiric. He
will not approach that large, complex, elaborate combination of
nature, that laboured fruit of time,--her most subtle and efficacious
agent, so prolific in results that amaze and confound our art,
--he will not approach this great structure with all its unperceived
interior adaptations,--with so much of nature's own work in it,
--hehas too much respect for her own 'cunning hand,' to approach it
without learning,--to undertake its cure with blind ignorant
experiments. He will not go to work in the dark on this structure,
with drug or surgery. This is going to be a scientific cure. 'Before
we proceed any further, _hear me speak_.' He will inquire beforehand
the nature of this particular structure that he proposes to meddle
with, and get its normal state defined at the outset. But that will
take him into the question of structures in general, as they appear in
nature, and the intention of nature in them. He will have a
comparative anatomy to help him. This analysis will not stop with the
social unit, he will analyze him. It will not stop with him. It will
comprehend the principles of all combinations. He will not stop in his
analysis of _this_ complexity till he comes to that which precedes all
combination, and survives it--the original simplicity of nature. He
will come to this cure armed with the universal 'simples;' he will
have all the original powers of nature, 'which are not many,' in his
hands, to begin with; and he will have more than that. He will have
the doctrine of their combinations, not in man only, but _in all the
kinds_;--those despised kinds, that claim such close relationship--
such wondrous relationship with man; and he will not go to the
primitive instinctive nature only for his knowledge on this point. He
will inquire of art,--the empiric art,--and rude accident, what latent
efficacies they have detected in her, what churlish secrets of hers
they have wrung from her. You will find the gardener's and the
farmer's reports, and not the physician's and the surgeon's only,
inserted in his books of policy and ethics. The 'nettles' theory of
the rights of private life, and his policy of foreign relationships,
appears to this learned politician to strengthen his case a little,
and the pertinacious refusal of the 'old crab trees' to lend their
organizations, such as they are, to the fructification of a bud of
nobler kind, is quoted with respect as a decision of nature in another
court, on this same question, which is one of the questions here. For
the principle of conservation as well as the other principles of the
human conduct, appears to this philosopher to require a larger
treatment than our men of learning have given it hitherto.

And this is the man of science who takes so much pains to acknowledge
his preference for 'good _compositions_'--who thinks so much of good
_natural _compositions and their virtues, who is always expressing or
betraying his respect for the happy combinations, the sound results,
the luxuriant and beautiful varieties with which nature herself
illustrates the secret of her fertility, and publishes her own great
volume of examples in the Arts.

First it is the knowledge of the simple forms into which all the
variety of nature is convertible, the definitions which account for
all--that which is always the same in all the difference, that which
is always permanent in all the change; first it is the doctrine of
'those simple original forms, or differences of things, which like the
alphabet are not many, _the degrees and co-ordinations_ whereof make
all this variety,' and then it is the doctrine of _their
combinations_,--the combinations which nature has herself
accomplished, those which the arts have accomplished, and those which
are possible, which have _not_ been accomplished,--those which the
universal nature working in the human, working in each, from the
platform of the human, from that height in her ascending scale of
species, dictates now, demands,--divinely orders,--divinely instructs
us in.

This, and nothing short of this,--this so radical knowledge, reaching
from the summit of the human complexity, to the primaeval depths of
nature,--to the simplicity of the nature that is one in all,--to the
indissoluble laws of being,--the laws of being in the species,--the
law with which the specific law is convertible,--the law which cannot
be broken in the species, which involves loss of species,--loss of
being in the species,--this so large and rich and various knowledge,
comprehending all the varieties of nature in its fields, putting all
nature under contribution for its results, this--this is the knowledge
with which the man of science approaches now, this grand particular.

The reader who begins to examine for himself, for the first time, in
the original books of it, this great system of the Modern Science,
impressed with the received notions in regard to its scope and
intentions, will be, perhaps, not a little surprised and puzzled, to
find that the thing which is, of all others, most strenuously insisted
on by this author, in his own person, next to the worthlessness of the
conceits which have no correspondence with things, is the fact that
the knowledge of the physical causes is altogether inadequate to that
relief of the condition of man, which he finds to be the immediate end
of science; and that it is a system of metaphysics, a new metaphysics,
which he is everywhere propounding to that end,--openly, and with all
the latent force of his new rhetoric.

It is 'metaphysical aid' that he offers us; it is magic, but, 'magic
lawful as eating'; it is a priestly aid that he offers us, the aid of
one who has penetrated to the inner sanctuary of the law,--the priest
of nature, newly instructed in her mind and will, who comes forth from
his long communing with her, with her own 'great seal' in his
hands--with the rod of her enchantments, that old magicians desired to
pluck from her, and did not--with the gift of the new and nobler
miracles of science as the witness of his anointing--with the reading
of 'God's book of power'--with the alphabet of its mystery, as the
proof of his ordaining--with the key of it, hid from the foundation of
the world until now.

The first difference between this metaphysics, and all the metaphysics
that ever went before it or came after it, is, that it is practical.
It carries in its hand, gathered into the simplicity of the causes
that are not many, the secret of all motivity, the secret of all
practice. It tells you so; over and over again, in so many words, it
dares to tell you so. It opens that closed palm a little, and shows
you what is there; it bids you look on while it stirs those lines but
a little, and new ages have begun.

It is a practical metaphysics, and the first word of its speech is to
forbid abstractions--your abstractions. It sets out from that which is
'constant, eternal, and universal'; but from that which is 'constant,
eternal, and universal in nature.' It sets out from that which is
fixed; but it is from the fixed and constant causes: '_forms_' not
'_ideas_.' The simplicity which it seeks is the simplicity into which
the historical phenomena are resolvable; the terms which it seeks are
the terms which do not come within the range of the unscientific
experience; they are the unknown terms of the unlearned; they are the
causes 'which, like the alphabet, are not many'; they are the terms
which the understanding knows, which the reason grasps, and
comprehends in its unity; but they are the convertible terms of all
the multiplicity and variety of the senses, they are the convertible
terms--the _practically_ convertible terms of the known--practically
--that is the difference.

In that pyramid of knowledges which the science of things constitutes;
in that converging ascent to the original simplicity and identity of
nature, beginning at that broad science which makes its base--the
science of Natural History--beginning with the basis of the historical
complexity and difference; in that pyramid of science, that new and
solid pyramid, which the Inductive science--which the inquiry into
causes that are operant in nature builds, this author will not stop,
either on that broad field of the universal history of nature, which
is the base of it, or on that first stage of the ascent which the
platform of 'the physical causes' makes. The causes which lie next to
our experience--the causes, which are variable and many, do not
satisfy him. He gains that platform, and looks about him. He finds
that even a diligent inquiry and observation _there_ would result in
many new inventions beneficial to men; but the knowledge of these
causes 'takes men in narrow and restrained paths'; he wants for the
founding of his rule of art the cause which, under all conditions,
secures the result, which gives the widest possible command of means.
He refuses to accept of the physical causes as the bourne of his
philosophy, in theory or practice. He looks with a great human scorn
on all the possible arts and solutions which lie on _that_ platform,
when the proposal is to stop his philosophy of speculation and
practice _there_. It is not for the scientific arts, which that field
of observation yields, that he begs leave to revive and _re-integrate_
the misapplied and abused name of _natural magic_, which, in the true
sense, is but natural wisdom, or 'PRUDENCE.'

He can hardly stop to indicate the results which the culture of that
field _does_ yield for the relief of the human estate. His eye is
uplifted to that new platform of a solid metaphysics, an historical
metaphysics, which the inductive method builds. His eye is intent
always on that higher stage of knowledge where that which is common to
the sciences is found. He takes the other in passing only. Beginning
with the basis of a new observation and history of nature, he will
found a new metaphysics--an _objective_ metaphysics--the metaphysics
of induction. His logic is but a preparation for _that_. He is going
to collect, by his inductive method, from all nature, from all
species, the principles that are in _all things_; and he is going to
build, on the basis of those _inducted_ principles,--on the sure basis
of that which is constant, and eternal, and universal in nature, the
sure foundations of his universal practice; for, like common logic,
the inductive method comprehends '_all_.' That same simplicity, which
the abstract speculations of men aspire to, and create, _it_ aspires
to and _attains_, by the rough roads, by the laboured stages of
observation and experiment.

He is, indeed, compelled to involve his phraseology here in a most
studious haze of scholasticism. Perspicuity is by no means the quality
of style most in request, when we come to these higher stages of
sciences. Impenetrable mists, clouds, and darkness, impenetrable to
any but the eye that seeks also the whole, involve the heaven-piercing
peak of this new height of learning, this new summit of a scientific
divinity, frowning off--warding off, as with the sword of the
cherubim, the unbidden invaders of this new Olympus, where sit the
gods, restored again,--the simple powers of nature, recovered from the
Greek abstractions,--not 'the idols'--not the impersonated
abstractions, the false images of the mind of man--not the logical
forms of those spontaneous abstractions, emptied of their poetic
content--but the strong gods that make our history, that compose our
epics, that conspire for our tragedies, whether we own them and build
altars to them or not. This is that summit of the _prima philosophia_
where the axioms that command all are found--where the observations
that are common to the sciences, and the precepts that are based on
these, grow. This is that height where the _same_ footsteps of nature,
treading in different substances or matters, lost in the difference
below, are all cleared and identified. This is the height of the forms
of the understanding, of the unity of the reason; not as it is in man
only, but as it is in all matters or substances.

He does not care to tell us,--he _could not_ well tell us, in
_popular_ language, what the true name of that height of learning is:
he could not well name without circumlocution, that height which a
scientific abstraction makes,--an abstraction that attains simplicity
without destroying the concrete reality, an abstraction that attains
as its result only a higher history,--a new and more intelligible
reading of it,--a solution of it--that which is fixed and constant and
accounts for it,--an abstraction whose apex of unity is the highest,
the universal history, that which accounts for all,--the
equivalent,--the scientific equivalent of it.

But whatever it be, it is something that is going to take the place of
the unscientific abstractions, both in theory and practice; it is
something that is going to supplant ultimately the vain indolent
speculation, the inert because unscientific speculation, that seeks to
bind the human life in the misery of an enforced and sanctioned
ignorance, sealing up with its dogmas to an eternal collision with the
universal laws of God and nature,--laws that no dogma or conceit can
alter,--all the unreckoned generations of the life of man. Whatever it
be, it is going to strike with its primeval rock, through all the air
palace of the vain conceits of men;--it is going straight up, through
that old conglomeration of dogmas, that the ages of the human
ignorance have built and left to us. The unity to which all things in
nature, inspired with her universal instinct tend,--the unity of which
the mind and heart of man in its sympathy with the universal whole is
but an expression, that unity of its own which the mind is always
seeking to impart to the diversities which the unreconciled experience
offers it, which it must have in its objective reality, which it will
make for itself if it cannot find it, which it _does_ make in ignorant
ages, by falling back upon its own form and ignoring the historic
reality,--which it builds up without any solid objective basis, by
ignoring the nature of things, or founds on one-sided partial views of
their nature, that unity is going to have its place in the new
learning also--but it is going to be henceforth the unity of
knowledge--not of dogmas, not of belief merely, for knowledge, and not
belief merely,--knowledge, and not opinion, is _power_.

That man is not the only creature in nature, was the discovery of this
philosophy. The founders of it observed that there were a number of
species, which appeared to be maintaining a certain sort of existence
of their own, without being dependent for it on the movements within
the human brain. To abate the arrogance of the species,--to show the
absurdity and ignorance of the attempt to constitute the universe
beforehand within that little sphere, the human skull, ignoring the
reports of the intelligencers from the universal whole, with which
great nature has herself supplied us,--to correct the arrogance and
specific bias of the human learning,--was the first attempt of the new
logic. It is the house of the Universal Father that we dwell in, and
it has 'many mansions,' and 'man is not the best lodged in it.' Noble,
indeed, is his form in nature, inspired with the spirit of the
universal whole, able in his littleness to comprehend and embrace the
whole, made in the image of the universal Primal Cause, whose voice
for us is _human_; but there are other dialects of the divine
also,--there are nobler creatures lodged with us, placed above us;
with larger gifts, with their ten talents ruling over our cities.
There is no speech or language where _their_ voice is not heard. Their
line is gone out through all the earth also, and their words unto the
end of the world; and the poor beetle that we tread on, and the daisy
and the lily in all its glory, and the sparrows that are going 'two
for a farthing,' come in for their place also in this philosophy--the
philosophy of science--the philosophy of the kinds, the philosophy of
the nature that is one in them,--the metaphysics of history.

'Although there exists nothing IN NATURE except individual bodies,
exhibiting distinct individual _effects, according to individual_
LAWS, yet in each branch of LEARNING that very LAW,--_its
investigation, discovery and development_--are the foundation _both of
theory and practice_; this law, therefore, and its _parallel_ in each
_science_, is what we understand by the term, FORM.'

That is a sentence to crack the heads of the old abstractionists.
Before that can be read, the new logic will have to be put in
requisition; the idols of the tribe will have to be dismissed first.
The inveterate and 'pernicious habit of abstraction,'--that so
pernicious habit of the men of learning must be overawed first.

'There exists nothing in nature except _individual_ bodies, exhibiting
distinct _individual_ effects, according to _individual laws_.' The
concrete is very carefully guarded there against that 'pernicious
habit'; it is saved at the expense of the human species, at the
expense of its arrogance. Nobody need undertake to abstract _those_
laws, whatever they may be, for this master has turned his key on
them. They are in their proper place; they are in the things
themselves, and cannot be taken out of them. The utmost that you can
do is to attain to a scientific knowledge of them, one that exactly
corresponds with them. That _correspondence_ is the point in the new
metaphysics, and in the new logic;--_that_ was what was wanting in the
old. 'The investigation, discovery, and development of this law, in
_every branch of learning_, are the foundation both of theory and
practice. This law, therefore, and its _parallel_ in each science, is
what _we_ understand by the term FORM.' The distinction is very
carefully made between the 'cause in nature,' and that which
_corresponds_ to it, in the human mind, the _parallel_ to it in the
sciences; for the notions of men and the notions of nature are
extremely apt to differ when the mind is left to form its notions
without any scientific rule or instrument; and these ill-made
abstractions, which do not correspond with the cause in nature, are of
no efficacy in the arts, for nature takes no notice of them whatever.

There is one term in use here which represents at the same time the
cause in nature, and that which corresponds to it in the mind of
man--the parallel to it in the sciences. When these _exactly
correspond_, one term suffices. The term 'FORM' is preferred for that
purpose in this school. The term which was applied to the abstractions
of the old philosophy, with a little modification, is made to
signalise the difference between the old and the new. The 'IDEAS' of
the old philosophy, the hasty abstractions of it, are '_the idols_' of
the new--the false deceiving images--which must be destroyed ere that
which is fixed and constant _in nature_ can establish its own
parallels in our learning. 'Too untimely a departure, and too remote a
recess from particulars,' is the cause briefly assigned in this
criticism for this want of correspondence hitherto. 'But it is
manifest that Plato, in his opinion of _ideas_, as one that had a wit
of elevation situate as upon a cliff, did descry that forms were the
true object of knowledge, but lost the real fruit of that opinion by
considering of forms as absolutely abstracted from matter, and not
_confined_ and _determined_ by matter.' 'Lost the fruit of that
opinion'--this is the author who talks so 'pressly.' Two thousand
years of human history are summed up in that so brief chronicle. Two
thousand years of barren science, of wordy speculation, of vain
theory; two thousand years of blind, empirical, _unsuccessful_ groping
in all the fields of human practice. 'And so,' he continues,
concluding that summary criticism with a little further development of
the subject, 'and _so_, turning _his opinion_ upon theology, wherewith
all his natural philosophy is infected.' Natural philosophy infected
with 'opinion,'--no matter whose opinion it is, or under what name it
comes to us, whatever else it is good for, is not good for practice.
And this is the philosophy which includes both theory and practice.
'That which in speculative philosophy corresponds to the cause, in
practical philosophy becomes the rule.'

But that which distinguishes this from all others is, that it is the
philosophy of 'HOPE'; and that is the name for it in both its fields,
in speculation _and_ practice. The black intolerable wall, which those
who stopped us on the lower platform of this pyramid of true knowledge
brought us up with so soon--that blank wall with which the inquiry for
the physical causes in nature limits and insults our speculation--has
no place here, no place at all on this higher ground of science, which
the knowledge of true forms creates--this true ground of _the
understanding_, the understanding of nature, and the universal reason
of things. 'He who is acquainted with forms, comprehends the unity of
nature in substances apparently most distinct from each other.'
Neither is that base and sordid limit, with which the philosophy of
physical causes shuts in the scientific arts and their power for human
relief, found here. For this is the _prima philosophia_, where the
universal axioms, the axioms that command all, are found: and the
precepts of the universal practice are formed on them. 'Even the
philosopher himself--openly speaking from this summit--will venture to
intimate briefly to men of understanding' the comprehension of its
base, and the field of practice which it commands. 'Is not the
ground,' he inquires, modestly, '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_?' There
is the 'administrative reform' that will not need reforming, that
waits for the science of _forms_ and constructions. But he proceeds:
'Was not the _Persian_ magic' [and that is the term which he proposes
to restore for '_the part operative_' of this knowledge of forms],
'was not the Persian magic a _reduction_ or correspondence of _the
principles_ and _architecture_ of _nature_ to the _rules_ and _policy_
of _governments_?' There is no harm, of course, in that timid inquiry;
but the student of the _Zenda-vesta_ will be able to get, perhaps,
some intimation of the designs that are lurking here, and will
understand the revived and reintegrated sense with which the term
_magic_ is employed to indicate the part operative of this new ground
of _science_. 'Neither are these only similitudes,' he adds, after
extending these significant inquiries into other departments of
practice, and demonstrating that this is the universality from which
all other professions are nourished: 'Neither are these only
_similitudes_, as men of narrow observation may conceive them to be,
but _the same_ footsteps of nature, treading or printing upon several
subjects or matters.'

'It must, however, be observed, that this method of operating' [which
considers nature as SIMPLE, though in a concrete body] ['I the first
of any, by my _universal being_.' _Michael de Montaigne_.] 'sets out
from what is constant, eternal, and universal _in nature_; and opens
such _broad_ paths to human _power_, as the thought of man can in the
present state of things scarcely comprehend or figure to itself,'

Yes, it is the Philosophy of Hope. The perfection of the human form,
the limit of the human want, is the limit of its practice; the limit
of the human inquiry and demand is the limit of its speculation.

The control of effects which this higher knowledge of nature offers
us--this knowledge of what she is beforehand--the practical certainty
which this _interior_ acquaintance with her, this acquaintance that
identifies her under all the variety of her manifestations, is able to
command--that _comprehensive_ command of results which the knowledge
of _the true causes_ involves--the causes which are always present in
all effects, which are constant under all fluctuations, the same under
all the difference--the '_power_' of _this knowledge_, its power to
relieve human suffering, is that which the discoverer of it insists on
most in propounding it to men; but the mind in which that
'wonder'--that is, 'the seed of knowledge'--brought forth _this_
plant, was _not_ one to overlook or make light of that want in the
human soul, which only knowledge can appease--that love which leads it
to the truth, not for the sake of a secondary good, but because it is
her life.

'Although there is a most intimate connection, and almost an identity
between the ways of human power and human knowledge, yet on account of
the pernicious and inveterate habit of _dwelling_ upon abstractions,
it is by far _the safest_ method to commence and build up sciences
from those foundations which bear a relation to the practical
division, _and to let them mark out and limit the theoretical_.'
Something like that the Poet must have been thinking of, when he spoke
of making 'the art and practic part of life, _the mistress_ to its
theoric;'--'let _that_ mark out and limit the theoretical.'

That inveterate and pernicious habit, which makes this course the
safest one, is one that he speaks of in the Advancement of Learning,
as that which has been of 'such ill desert towards learning,' as 'to
reduce it to certain _empty_ and barren generalities, the mere husks
and shells of sciences,' good for nothing at the very best, unless
they serve to guide us to the kernels that have been forced out of
them, by the torture and _press_ of the method,--the mere outlines and
skeletons of knowledges, 'that do but offer knowledge to scorn of
practical men, and are no more aiding to practice,' as the author of
this universal skeleton confesses, 'than an Ortelius's universal map
is, to direct the way between London and York.'

The way to steer clear of those empty and barren generalities, which
do but offer learning to the scorn of the men of practice is, he says,
to begin on the practical side, and that is just what we are doing
here now in this question of the consulship,--that so practical and
immediately urgent question which was, threatening then to drive out
every other from the human consideration. If learning _had_ anything
to offer on that subject, which would _not_ excite the scorn of
practical men, then certainly was the time to produce it.

We begin on the practical side here, and as to theory, we are rigidly
limited to that which the question of the play requires,--the
practical question marks it out,--we have just as much as is required
for the solution of that, and not so much as a 'jot' more. But mark
the expression:--'it is by far the safest method to commence and build
up sciences'--the particular sciences,--the branches of science--from
_those foundations which bear a relation_ to the practical division.
We begin with a great practical question, and though the treatise is
in a form which seems to offer it for amusement, rather than
instruction, it has at least this advantage, that it does not offer it
in the suspicious form of a theory, or in the distasteful form of a
learned treatise,--a tissue of barren and empty generalities. The
scorn of practical men is avoided, if it were only by its want of
pretension; and the fact that it does not offer itself as a guide to
practice, but rather insinuates itself into that position. We begin
with the practical question, with its most sharply practical details,
we begin with particulars, but that which is to be noted is, 'the
foundations' of the universal philosophy are under our feet to begin
with. At the first step we are on the platform of the prima
philosophia; the last conclusions of the inductive science, the
knowledge of the nature of things, is the ground,--the solid
continuity--that we proceed on. That is the ground on which we build
this practice. That is the trunk from which this branch of sciences is
continued:--that trunk of universality which we are forbidden
henceforth to _scorn_, because all the professions are nourished from
it. That universality which the men of practice scorn no more, since
they have tasted of its proofs, since they have reached that single
bough of it, which stooped so low, to bring its magic clusters within
their reach. Fed with their own chosen delights, with the proof of the
divinity of science, on their sensuous lips, they cry, 'Thou hast kept
the good wine until now.' Clasping on the _magic_ robes for which they
have not toiled or spun, sitting down by companies,--not of
fifties,--not of hundreds,--not of thousands--sitting down by myriads,
to this great feast, that the man of science spreads for them, in
whose eye, the eye of a divine pity looked forth again, and saw them
faint and weary still, and without a shepherd,--sitting down to this
feast, for which there is no sweat or blood on their brows, revived,
rejoicing, gazing on the bewildering basketfuls that are pouring in,
they cry, answering after so long a time, for their part Pilate's
question: _This_, so far as it goes at least, this is _truth_. And the
rod of that enchantment was _plucked_ here. It is but a branch from
this same trunk--this trunk of 'universality,' which the men of
practice _will_ scorn no more, when once they reach the multitudinous
boughs of this great tree of miracles, where the nobler fruits, the
more chosen fruits of the new science, are hidden still.

Continued from that 'trunk,' heavy with its juices, stoops now _this_
branch; its golden 'hangings' mellowed,--time mellowed,--ready to fall
unshaken. Built on _that_ 'foundation,' rises now this fair structure,
the doctrine of _the state_. That knowledge of nature in general, that
_interior_ knowledge of her, that loving insight, which is not baffled
with her most foreign aspects; but detects her, and speaks her word,
as from within, in all, is that which meets us here, that which meets
us at the threshold. Our guide is veiled, but his raiment is priestly.
It is great nature's stole that he wears; he will alter
our--_Persian_. We are walking on the pavements of Art; but it is
Nature's temple still; it is her 'pyramid,' and we are _within_, and
the light from the apex is kindling all; and the dust 'that the rude
wind blows in our face,' and 'the poor beetle that we tread on,' and
the poor 'madman and beggar too,' are glorious in it, and of our
'kin.' Those universal forms which the book of science in the abstract
has laid bare already, are running through all; the cord of them is
visible in all the detail. Their foot-prints, which have been tracked
to the height where nature is one, are seen for the first time
cleared, uncovered here, in all the difference. This many-voiced
speech, that sounds so deep from every point, deep as from the heart
of nature, is _not_ the ventriloquist's artifice, is _not_ a poor
showman's trick. It is great nature's voice--her own; and the magician
who has untied her spell, who knows the cipher of 'the one in all' the
priest who has unlocked her inmost shrine, and plucked out the heart
of her mystery--is 'the Interpreter.'



'Swear by thy double self
And that's an oath of credit.'

'Having thus far proceeded
... Is it not meet
That I did amplify my judgment in
Other conclusions?'

It is the trunk of the _prima philosophia_ then which puts forth these
new and wondrous boughs, into all the fields of human speculation and
practice, filling all our outdoor, penetrating all our indoor life,
with their beauty and fragrance; overhanging every roof, stooping to
every door, with their rich curtains and clusters of ornament and
delight, with their ripe underhanging clusters of axioms of
practice--brought down to particulars, ready for use--with their
dispersed directions overhanging every path,--with their aphorisms
made out of the pith and heart of sciences, 'representing a broken
knowledge, and, _therefore_, inviting the men of speculation to
inquire farther.'

It is from this trunk of a _scientific_ universality, of a useful,
practical, always-at-hand, all-inclusive, historical universality, to
which the tracking of the principles, operant in history, to their
simple forms and '_causes in nature_,' conducts the scientific
experimenter,--it is from this primal living trunk and heart of
sciences, to which the new method of learning conducts us, that this
great branch of scientific practice comes, which this drama with its
'transitory shows' has brought safely down to us;--this two-fold
branch of ethics and politics, which come to us--conjoined--as ethics
and politics came in other systems then not scientific,--making in
their junction, and through all their divergencies, 'the forbidden
questions' of science.

The _science_ of this essentially conjoined doctrine is that which
makes, in this case, the novelty. 'The nature _which is formed_ in
everything,' and not in man only, and the faculty, in man, of
comprehending that wider nature, is that which makes the higher
ground, from which a _science_ of his own specific nature, and the
explanation of its phenomenon, is possible to man. Except from this
height of a _common nature_, there is no such thing as a scientific
explanation of these phenomena possible. And this explanation is what
the specific nature in man, with its _speculative_ grasp of a larger
whole--with its speculative grasp of a universal whole,--with its
instinctive _moral_ reach and comprehension corresponding to
that,--constitutionally demands and 'anticipates.'

And the knowledge of this nature which is formed in everything, and
not in man only, is the beginning, not of a speculative science of the
human nature merely,--it is the beginning,--it is the indispensable
foundation of the arts in which a successful artistic advancement of
that nature, or an artistic cure or culture of it is propounded. The
fact that the 'human nature' is, indeed, what it is called, a
'_nature_,' the fact that the human species is _a species_,--the fact
that the human kind is but a _kind_, neighboured with many others from
which it is isolated by its native walls of ignorance,--neighboured
with many others, more or less known, known and unknown, more or less
_kind_-ly, more or less hostile,--species, kinds, whose dialects of
the universal laws, man has not found,--the fact that the universal,
historic principles are operant in all the specific modifications of
human nature, and control and determine them, the fact that the human
life admits of a scientific analysis, and that its phenomena require
to be traced to their true forms,--this is the fact which is the key
to the new philosophy,--the key which unlocks it,--the key to the part
speculative, and the part operative of it.

And this is the secret of the difference between this philosophy and
all other systems and theories of man's life on earth that had been
before it, or that have come after it. For this new and so solid
height of natural philosophy,--solid,--historical,--from its base in
the divergency of natural history, to its utmost peak of unity,--this
scientific height of a common nature, whose summit is 'prima
philosophia,' with its new universal terms and axioms,--this height
from which man, as a species, is also overlooked, and his spontaneous
notions and theories criticised, subjected to that same criticism with
which history itself is always flying in the face of them,--from which
the specific bias in them is everywhere detected,--this new 'pyramid'
of knowledge is the one on whose rock-hewn terraces the conflict of
_views_, the clash of man's _opinions_ shall not sound: this is the
system which has had, and shall have, no rival.

And this is the key to this philosophy, not where it touches human
nature only, but everywhere where it substitutes for abstract human
notions--specific human notions that are powerless in the arts, or
narrow observations that are restrained and uncertain in the rules of
practice they produce,--powers, true forms, original agencies in
nature, universal powers, sure as nature herself, and her universal

To abase the specific human arrogance, to overthrow 'the idols of the
tribe,' is the ultimate condition of this learning. Man _as man_, is
not a primal, if he be an ultimate, fact in nature. Nature is elder
and greater than he, and requires him to learn of her, and makes
little of his mere conceits and dogmas.

From the height of that new simplicity which this philosophy has
gained--not as the elder philosophies had gained theirs, by pure
contemplation, by hasty abstraction and retreat to the _a priori_
sources of knowledge and belief in man,--which it has gained, too, by
a wider induction than the facts of the human nature can supply--with
the torch of these universal principles cleared of their historic
complexities, with the torch of the nature that is formed in
everything, it enters here this great, unenclosed field of human life
and practice, this Spenserian wilderness, where those old, gnarled
trunks, and tangled boughs, and wretched undergrowths of centuries,
stop the way, where those old monsters, which the action of this play
exposes, which this philosophy is bound to drag out to the day, are

The radical universal fact--the radical universal distinction of the
_double_ nature of GOOD which is formed in everything, and not in man
only, and the two universal motions which correspond to that, the one,
as everything, is a total or substantive in itself, with its
corresponding motion; for this is the principle of selfishness and war
in nature--the principle which struggles everywhere towards decay and
the dissolution of the larger wholes, and not in man only, though the
foolish, unscientific man, who does not know how to track the
phenomena of his own nature to their _causes_,--who has no bridge from
the natural internal phenomena of his own consciousness into the
continent of nature, may think that it is, and reason of it as if it
were;--this double nature of good, 'the one, as a thing, is a total or
substantive in itself, the other as it is, _a part_ or _member_ of a
greater body, whereof the latter is in degree _the greater_ and _the
worthier_, as it tends to the conservation of a more general
form'--this distinction, which the philosopher of this school has laid
down in his work on the scientific advancement of the human species,
with a recommendation that it should be _strongly planted_, which he
has planted there, openly, as the root of a new science of ethics and
policy, will be found at the heart of all this new history of the
human nature; but in this play of the true nobility, and the
scientific cure of the commonweal, it is tracked openly to its most
immediate, obvious, practical application. In all these great
'illustrated' scientific works, which this new school of learning,
with the genius of science for its master, contrived to issue, all the
universally actual and active principles are tracked to their _proper_
specific modifications in man, and not to their development in his
actual history merely; and the distinctive essential law of the human
kind--the law whereby man is man, as distinguished from the baser
kinds, is brought up, and worked out, and unfolded in all its detail,
from the bosom of the universal law--is brought down from its barren
height of isolation, and planted in the universal rule of being, in
the universal law of kinds and essence. This double nature of good, as
it is specifically developed in man, not as humanity only, for man is
not limited to his kind in his intelligence, or in his will, or in his
affections,--this double nature of good, as it is developed in man,
with his contemplative, and moral, and religious grasp of a larger
whole than his particular and private nature can comprehend--with his
large discourse looking before and after, on the one hand, and his
blind instincts, and his narrow isolating senses on the other--with
that distinctive human nature on the one hand, whereby he does, in
some sort, comprehend the world, and not intellectually only--that
nature whereby 'the world is set in his heart,' and not in his mind
only--that nature which by the law of advancement to the perfection of
his form, he struggles to ascend to--that, on the one hand, and that
whereby he is kindred with the lower natures on the other, swayed by a
gosling's instinct, held down to the level of the pettiest, basest
kinds, forbidden to ascend to his own distinctive excellence, allied
with species who have no such intelligent outgoing from particulars,
who cannot grasp the common, whose sphere nature herself has narrowed
and walled in,--these two universal natures of good, and all the
passion and affection which lie on that tempestuous border line where
they blend in the human, and fill the earth with the tragedy of their
confusion,--this two-fold nature, and its tragic blending, and its
true specific human development, whereby man is man, and not
degenerate, lies discriminated in all these plays, tracked through all
their wealth of observation, through all their characterization,
through all their mirth, through all their tempests of passion, with a
line so firm, that only the instrument of the New Science could have
graven it.

Of all the sciences, Policy is the most immersed in matter, and the
hardliest reduced to axiom'; but setting out from that which is
constant and universal in nature, this philosopher is not afraid to
undertake it; and, indeed, that is what he is bent on; for unless
those universal, historical principles, which he has taken so much
pains to exhibit to us clearly in their abstract form, 'terminate in
_matter_ and _construction according_ to _the true_ definitions, they
are speculative and of little use.' The termination of them in matter,
and the new construction according to true definitions, is the
business here. This, which is the hardliest reduced to axiom of any,
is that which lies collected on the Inductive Tables here, cleared of
all that interferes with the result; and the axiom of practice, which
is the 'second vintage' of the New Machine, is expressed before our
eyes. 'For that which in speculative philosophy corresponds to the
cause, in practical philosophy becomes the rule.'

He starts here, with this grand advantage which no other political
philosopher or reformer had ever had before; he has _the true
definition_ in his hands to begin with; not the specific and futile
notions with which the human mind, shut up within itself, seeks to
comprehend and predict and order all, but the solid actual universals
that the mind of man, by the combination and scientific balance of its
faculties, is able to ascend to. He has in his hands, to begin with,
the causes that are universal and constant in nature, with which all
the historical phenomena are convertible,--the motives from which all
movement proceeds, the true original simple powers,--the unknown, into
which all the variety of the known is resolvable, or rather the known
into which all the variety of the unknown is resolvable; the forms
'which are always present _when the particular nature_ is present, and
universally attest that presence; which are always absent when the
particular nature is absent, and universally attest that absence;
which always increase as the particular nature increases; which always
decrease as the particular nature decreases;' that is the kind of
definitions which this philosopher will undertake his moral reform
with; that is the kind of idea which the English philosopher lays down
for the basis of his politics. Nothing less solid than that will suit
the turn of his genius, either in speculation or practice. He does
full justice to the discoveries of the old Greek philosophers, whose
speculation had controlled, not the speculation only, but all the
practical doctrine of the world, from their time to his. He saw from
what height of _genius_ they achieved their command; but that was two
thousand years before, and that was in the south east corner of
Europe; and when the Modern Europe began to think for itself, it was
found that the Greeks could not give the law any longer. It was found
that the _English_ notions at least, and the _Greek_ notions of things
in general differed very materially--essentially--when they came to be
put on paper. When the 'representative men' of those two corners of
Europe, and of those two so widely separated ages of the human
advancement, came to discourse together from their 'cliffs' and
compare notes, across that sea of lesser minds, the most remarkable
differences, indeed, began to be _perceptible_ at once, though the
world has not yet begun to _appreciate_ them. It was a difference that
was expected to tell on the common mind, for a time, principally in
its '_effects_.' Everybody, the learned and the unlearned, understands
now, that after the modern survey was taken, new practical directions
were issued at once. Orders came down for an immediate suspension of
those former rules of philosophy, and the ship was laid on a new
course. 'Plato,' says the new philosopher, 'as one that had a wit of
elevation _situate upon a cliff_, did descry that _forms_ are the true
object of knowledge,' that was his discovery,--'_but_ lost the fruit
of that opinion by'--shutting himself up, in short, in his own
abstract contemplations, in his little world of man, and getting out
his theory of the universe, before hand, from these; instead of
applying himself practically and modestly to the observation of that
universe, in which man's part is _so_ humble. 'Vain man,' says our
oldest Poet, 'vain man would be wise, who is born like a wild ass's

But let us take a specimen of the manner in which the propounder of
the New Ideal Philosophy 'comes to particulars,' with this quite new
kind of IDEAS, and we shall find that they were designed to take in
some of those things in heaven and earth that were omitted, or not
dreampt of in the others,--which were not included in the 'idols.' He
tells us plainly that these are the ideas with which he is going to
unravel the most delicate questions; but he is willing to entertain
his immediate audience, and propitiate the world generally, by trying
them, or rather giving orders to have them tried, on other things
first. He does not pride himself very much on anything which he has
done, or is able to do in these departments of inquiry from which his
instances are here taken, and he says, in this connection:--'We do
not, however, deny that other instances _can perhaps be added_.' In
order to arrive at his doctrine of practice in general, he begins
after the scientific method, not with the study of any one kind of
actions only, he begins by collecting the rules of action in general.
By observation of species he seeks to ascend to the principles common
to them. And he comes to us with a carefully prepared scheme of the
'elementary motions,'--outlined, and enriched with such observations
as he and his school have been able to make under the disadvantages of
that beginning. 'The motions of bodies,' he observes, 'are compounded,
decomposed and combined, no less than the bodies themselves,' and he
directs the attention of the student, who has his eye on practice,
with great emphasis, to those instances which he calls 'instances of
predominance,'--'instances which point out the predominance and
submission of powers, compared' [not in abstract contemplation but in
action,] 'compared with each other, and which,' [not in books but in
action,]--'which is the more _energetic_ and _superior_, or more weak
and inferior.'

'These "elementary notions" direct and are directed by each other,
according to their strength,--quantity, _excitement, concussion_, or
the assistance, or impediments they meet with. For instance, _some
magnets_ support iron sixty times their own weight; _so far_ does the
motion of _lesser congregation_ predominate over _the greater_, but if
the weight be increased _it yields_.'

[We must observe, that he is speaking here of 'the motions,
tendencies, and active powers which are most universal in nature,' for
the purpose of suggesting rules of practice which apply _as widely_;
though he keeps, with the intimation above quoted, principally to this
class of instances.] 'A lever of a certain strength will raise a given
weight, and _so far_ the notion of _liberty_ predominates over that of
_the greater congregation_; but if the weight be _greater_, the former
motion _yields_. A piece of leather, stretched _to a certain point_,
does not break, and _so far_ the motion of continuity _predominates_'
[for it is the question of predominance, and dominance, and
domineering, and lordships, and liberties, of one kind and another,
that he is handling]--'_so far_ the motion of continuity
_predominates_ over that of tension; but if the tension be _greater_,
the leather breaks, and the motion of continuity _yields_. _A certain
quantity_ of water flows through a chink, and _so far_ the motion of
greater congregation _predominates_ over that of continuity; but if

Book of the day: