Part 13 out of 13
speculator in revolutions would have been far enough from including
_then_, when such movements were yet untried in modern history, and
the philosopher had to go back to mythical Rome to borrow an
historical frame of one that would contain his piece. The conviction
that the crash was, perhaps, inevitable, that the overthrow of the
existing usurpation, and the restoration of the English subject to his
rights,--a movement then already determined on,--would perhaps involve
these so tragic consequences--the conviction that the revolution was
at hand, was the conviction with which he made his arrangements for
But if any one would like to see now for himself what vigorous grasp
of particulars this inductive science of state involves, what a clear,
comprehensive, and masterly basis of history it rests on, and how
totally unlike the philosophy of prenotions it is in this respect--if
one would see what breadth of revolutionary surges this Artist of the
peace principles was able to span with his arches and sleepers, what
upheavings from the then unsounded depths of political contingencies,
what upliftings from the last depths of the revolutionary abysses,
this science of _stability_, this science of the future STATE, is
settled on,--such a one must explore this work yet further, and be
able to find and unroll in it that revolutionary picture which it
contains--that scientific exhibition which the Elizabethan statesman
has contrived to fold in it of a state in which the elements are
already cleaving and separating, one in which the historical
solidities are already in solution, or struggling towards
it--prematurely, perhaps, and in danger of being surprised and
overtaken by new combinations, not less oppressive and unscientific
than the old.
'Unless philosophy can make a Juliet,
Displant a town, reverse a prince's doom,
Hang up philosophy'--
wrote this Poet's fire of old.
'Canst thou not minister to a _mind_ diseased?'
it writes again. No?
'Throw physic to the dogs, I'll none of it.'
'See now what _learning_ is,' says the practical-minded nurse, quite
dazzled and overawed with that exhibition of it which has just been
brought within her reach, and expressing, in the readiest and largest
terms which her vocabulary supplies to her, her admiration of the
practical bent of Friar Laurence's genius; who seems to be doing his
best to illustrate the idea which another student, who was not _a
Friar_ exactly, was undertaking to demonstrate from his cell about
that time--the idea of the possibility of converging a large and
studious observation of nature in general,--and it is a very large and
curious one which _this Friar_ betrays,--upon any of those ordinary
questions of domestic life, which are constantly recurring for private
solution. And though _this_ knowledge might seem to be 'so variable as
it falleth not under _precept_,' the prose philosopher is of the
opinion that 'a universal insight, and a wisdom of council and advice,
gathered by general observation of cases of _like nature_,' is
available for the particular instances which occur in this department.
And the philosophic poet appears to be of his opinion; for there is no
end to the precepts which he inducts from this 'variable knowledge'
when he gets it on his table of review, in the form of natural
history, in '_prerogative cases_' and 'illustrious instances,' cases
cleared from their accidental and extraneous adjuncts--ideal cases.
And though this poor Friar does not appear to have been very
successful in this particular instance; if we take into account the
fact that 'the Tragedy was the thing,' and that nothing but a tragedy
would serve his purpose, and that all his learning was converged on
that _effect_; if we take into account the fact that this is a
scientific experiment, and that the characters are sacrificed for the
sake of the useful conclusions, the success will not perhaps appear so
questionable as to throw any discredit upon this new theory of the
applicability of _learning_ to questions of this nature.
'Unless philosophy can make a Juliet.' But this is the philosophy that
did that very thing, and the one that made a Hamlet also, besides
'reversing a prince's doom'; for this is the one that takes into
account those very things in heaven and earth which Horatio had
omitted in his abstractions; and this is the philosopher who speaks
from his philosophic chair of '_men_ of good composition,' and who
gives a recipe for composing _them_. 'Unless philosophy can make a
Juliet,' is Romeo's word. 'See now what learning _is_,' is the Nurse's
commentary; for that same _Friar_, demure as he looks now under his
hood, talking of 'simples' and great nature's latent virtues, is the
one that will cog the nurse's hearts from them, and come back beloved
of all the trades in Rome. With his new art of 'composition' he will
compose, not Juliets nor Hamlets only; mastering the radicals, he will
compose, he will dissolve and recompose ultimately the greater
congregation; for the powers in nature are always one, and they are
Let us see now, then, what it is,--this 'universal insight in the
affairs of the world,' this 'wisdom of counsel and advice, gathered
from cases of a _like nature_,' with an observation that includes all
_natures_,--let us see what this new wisdom of counsel is, when it
comes to be applied to this huge growth of the state, this creature of
the ages; and in its great crisis of disorder--shaken, convulsed--
wrapped in elemental horror, and threatening to dissolve into its
primal warring atoms.
'Doctor, the Thanes fly from me.'
'If thou _couldst_, Doctor, cast
The water of MY LAND, _find her disease_,
And purge it to a _sound_ and _pristine health_,
I would applaud thee to the very echo,
That should applaud again.'
'What rhubarb, senna, or what purgative drug,
Would scour _these English_ hence? Hear'st thou of _them_?'
'Cousins, I hope the days are near at hand
That chambers will be safe.'
Let us see, then, what it is that this man will have, who criticises
so severely the learning of other men,--who disposes so scornfully,
right and left, of the physic and metaphysic of the schools as he
finds them,--who daffs the learning of the world aside, and bids it
_pass_. Let us see what the learning is that is not '_words_,' as
Hamlet says, complaining of the reading in his book.
This part has been taken out from its dramatic connections, and
reserved for a separate exhibition, on account of a certain new and
peculiar value it has acquired since it was produced in those
connections. Time has changed it 'into something rich and
strange,'--Time has framed it, and poured her illustration on it: it
is history now. That flaming portent, this aurora that fills the
seer's heaven, these fierce angry warriors, that are fighting here
upon the clouds, 'in ranks, and squadrons, and right forms of war,'
are but the marvels of that science that lays the future open.
'There is a history in all men's lives,
Figuring the nature of the times deceased;
The which observed, a man may prophesy,
With a near aim, of the main chance of things
As yet not come to life, which, _in their seeds_
And _weak beginnings_, lie intreasured.
Such things become the hatch and brood of time.'
'One need not go to heaven to predict imminent changes and
revolutions,' says that other philosopher, who scribbles on this same
subject about these days in such an entertaining manner, and who
brings so many 'buckets' from 'the headspring of sciences,' to water
his plants in this field in particular. 'That which most threatens us
is a divulsion of the whole mass.'
This part is produced here, then, as a specimen of that kind of
prophecy which one does not need to go to heaven for. And the careful
reader will observe, that notwithstanding the distinct disavowal of
any supernatural gift on the part of this seer, and this frank
explanation of the mystery of his Art, the prophecy appears to compare
not unfavourably with others which seem to come to us with higher
claims. A very useful and very remarkable kind of prophecy indeed,
this inductive prophecy appears to be; and the question arises,
whether _a kind_, endowed of God with a faculty of seeing, which
commands the future in so inclusive a manner, and with so near and
sufficient an aim for the most important practical purposes, ought to
be besieging Heaven for a _super_natural gift, and questioning the
ancient seers for some vague shadows of the coming event, instead of
putting this immediate endowment--this 'godlike' endowment--under
There is another reason for reserving this part. In the heat and
turmoil of this great ACT, the Muse of the Inductive Science drops her
mask, and she forgets to take it up again. The hand that is put forth
to draw 'the next ages' into the scene, when the necessary question of
the play requires it, is _bare_. It is the Man of Learning here
everywhere, without any disguise,--the man of the new learning, openly
applying his 'universal insight,' and 'wisdom of counsel and advice,
gathered by general observation of cases of like nature,' to this
great question of 'Policy,' which was then hurrying on, with such
portentous movement, to its inevitable practical solution.
He who would see at last for himself, then, the trick of this
'Magician,' when he 'brings the rabble to his place,' the reader who
would know at last why it is that these old Roman graves 'have waked
their sleepers, oped, and let them forth, by his so potent art'; and
_why_ it is, that at this great crisis in English history, the noise
of the old Roman battle hurtles so fiercely in the English ear, should
read now--but read as a work of natural science in politics, from the
scientific statesman's hands, deserves to be read--this great
revolutionary scene, which the Poet, for reasons of his own, has
buried in the heart of this Play, which he has subordinated with his
own matchless skill to the general intention of it, but which we, for
the sake of pursuing that general intention with the less
interruption, now that the storm appears to be 'overblown,' may safely
reserve for the conclusion of our reading of this scientific history,
and criticism, and rejection of the Military Usurpation of the
The reading of it is very simple. One has only to observe that the
Poet avails himself of the _dialogue_ here, with even more than his
usual freedom, for the purpose of disposing of the bolder passages, in
the least objectionable manner,--interrupting the statement in
critical points, and emphasizing it, by that interruption, to the
careful reader 'of the argument,' but to the spectator, or to one who
takes it as a _dialogue merely_, neutralizing it by that dramatic
opposition. For the political criticism, which is of the boldest,
passes safely enough, by being merely _broken_, and put into the
mouths of opposing factions, who are just upon the point of coming to
blows upon the stage, and cannot, therefore, be suspected of
For the popular magistracy, as it represents the ignorance, and
stupidity, and capricious tyranny of the multitude, and their
unfitness for rule, is subjected to the criticism of the true
consulship, on the one hand, while the military usurpation of the
chair of state, and the law of Conquest, is not less severely
criticized by the true Tribune--the Tribune, whose Tribe is the
Kind--on the other; and it was not necessary to produce, in any _more_
prominent manner, just then, the fact, that _both these offices_ and
_relations_ were combined in that tottering estate of the realm,--that
'old riotous form of military government,' which held then only by the
virtual election of the stupidity and ignorance of the people, and
which, this Poet and his friends were about to put on its trial, for
its _innovations_ in the government, and suppressions of the ancient
estates of this realm,--for its suppression of the dignities and
privileges of the Nobility, and its suppression of the chartered
dignities and rights of the Commons.
_Scene_.--A Street. Cornets. Enter CORIOLANUS with his two military
friends, who have shared with him the conduct of the Volscian wars,
and have but just returned from their campaign, COMINIUS and TITUS
LARTIUS,--and with them the old civilian MENENIUS, who, patrician
as he is, on account of his _honesty_,--a truly patrician
virtue,--is in favour with the people. '_He's_ an honest one. Would
they were _all so_.'
The military element predominates in this group of citizens, and of
course, they are talking of the wars,--the foreign wars: but the
principle of _inroad_ and _aggression_ on the one hand, and _defence_
on the other, the arts of _subjugation_, and _reconciliation_, the
arts of WAR and GOVERNMENT in their most general forms are always
cleared and identified, and tracked, under the specifications of the
_Cor_. Tullus Aufidius then _had made_ NEW HEAD.
_Lart_. He had, my lord, and _that_ it was, which caused
Our swifter COMPOSITION.
_Cor_. So then, the _Volsces_ stand but as at first,
Ready, when _time_ shall _prompt_ them, to make _road_
Upon _us_ again.
_Com_. _They_ [Volsces?] _are worn_, lord consul, so
That we shall hardly in _our ages_ see
_Their_ banners wave again.
* * * * *
[_Enter Sicinius and Brutus._]
_Cor_. Behold! these are the tribunes of the people,
The _tongues_ o' the _common mouth_. I do despise them;
For they do prank them in authority,
Against all _noble_ sufferance.
_Sic_. Pass no further.
_Cor_. Ha! what is that?
_Bru_. It will be dangerous to
Go on: No further.
_Cor_. What makes this CHANGE?
_Men_. _The matter_?
_Com_. Hath he not passed the NOBLES and the COMMONS?
_Cor_. Have I had _children's voices_? [ _Yes._]
_Sen_. Tribunes, give way:--he shall to the market-place.
_Bru_. The people are incensed against him.
Or _all will fall in broil_.
_Cor_. Are these _your herd_?
Must _these_ have voices that can yield them now,
And straight disclaim their tongues?
_You, being their mouths_, why rule you not their teeth?
_Have you not set them on?_
_Men_. Be calm, be calm.
_Cor._ It is a purposed thing, and grows by plot,
To curb the will of the _nobility_:--
_Suffer it, and live with such as cannot rule,
Nor_ ever will be _ruled_.
_Bru_. Call't not a _plot_:
The people cry you mocked them; and of late,
When _corn_ was given them gratis, you repined;
_Scandaled the suppliants for the people; called them
Time-pleasers, flatterers, foes to nobleness._
_Cor_. Why, this was known before.
_Bru_. _Not to them all._
_Cor_. _Have you informed them since?_
_Bru_. How! _I_ inform them?
_Cor_. You are like to do _such business_.
_Bru_. Not unlike,
Each way to better _yours_.
_Cor_. Why _then_ should _I_ be consul? By yon clouds,
Let me deserve so ill as you, and make me
_Your fellow tribune_.
_Sic_. You show too much of _that_,
For which the people stir: If you will pass
To where you are bound, you must inquire your way,--
Which you are out of,--with a _gentler_ spirit;
Or never be so noble as a consul,
Nor yoke with him for tribune.
_Men_. Let's _be calm_.
_Com_. The people are abused;--set on--this paltering
Becomes not Rome: nor has Coriolanus
Deserved this so dishonoured rub, laid falsely
I' the plain way of his merit.
_Cor_. Tell me of _corn_:
_This was my speech_, and I will speak't _again_.
_Men. Not now, not now._
_First Sen_. Not in this heat, sir, _now_.
_Cor. Now_, as I live, I will.--My nobler friends
I crave their pardons:--
For the _mutable_, rank scented _many_, let them
_Regard me, as I do not flatter, and
Therein behold themselves_: I say again,
In soothing _them_, we nourish 'gainst our _senate_,
The cockle of rebellion, insolence, sedition,
Which we ourselves have ploughed for, sowed and scattered,
By mingling them with us, _the honoured number_.
Who lack not _virtue, no_,--nor _power_, but _that_
_Which they have given to_--BEGGARS.
_Men. Well, no more._
_First Sen. No more words, we beseech you._
_Cor_. How, no more:
As for my country, I have shed my blood,
Not fearing outward force, _so_ shall my lungs
_Coin words_ till their decay against those meazels
Which we disdain, should tetter us, yet sought
The very way to catch them.
_Bru_. You speak o' the people,
As if you were a god to punish, not
_A man of their infirmity_.
_Sic. 'T were well_
_We let the people know't._
_Men_. What, what? his _choler_.
Were I _as patient_ as the _midnight sleep,
By Jove,_ 't would be _my mind_.
_Sic_. It is a mind,
That shall remain a poison where it is,
_Not poison any further_.
_Cor_. _Shall remain!_
Hear you this Triton of the minnows? _mark you_
_His absolute_ SHALL?
_Com_. _'Twas from the canon,_
_O good_, but most _unwise patricians_, why
You _grave_, but _reckless senators_, have you thus
_Given Hydra here to choose_ AN OFFICER,
That with his _peremptory shall--being but
The horn and noise o' the monster_--wants not _spirit_
To say, he'll turn _your current_ in _a ditch_,
And make _your channel his? If he have power,
Then_ veil your IGNORANCE:--[that let him have it.]
--if _none, awake_
Your _dangerous_ LENITY.
[Mark it well, for it is not, as one may see who looks at it but a
little, it is not the lost Roman weal and its danger that fires the
passion of this speech. 'Look at this player whether he has not turned
his colour, and has tears in his eyes.' 'What's _Hecuba_ to him or he
to _Hecuba_, that he should weep for her? _What would he do_, had he
the motive and the cue for passion that _I_ have.']
--if none, awake
Your dangerous _lenity. If_ you are _learned_,
Be not as _common fools_; if you are _not_--
What do you draw this foolish line for, that separates you from the
commons? If you are not, there's no nobility. If you are not, what
business have you in these chairs of state?
--if you are not,
_Let them have cushions by you_. You are plebeians,
If _they_ be senators; and _they are no less_,
When _both your voices blended_, the GREATEST TASTE
Most palates _theirs_. _They choose_ their magistrate;
And such a one as _he_, who puts his _shall_,--
[Mark it, his _popular shall_].
His _popular shall_, against a graver bench
Than ever frown'd in Greece! By Jove himself,
It makes the _consuls base_: and _my soul aches_,
_To know_, when two authorities are up,
[Neither able to rule].
_Neither supreme_, how soon confusion
May enter twixt the GAP of BOTH, and take
The one by the other.
_Com._ Well,--on to the _market place_.
_Cor_. Whoever gave that counsel, to give forth
The _corn o' the store-house_ gratis, as 'twas used
_Sometime in Greece_.
[It is not _corn_, but the _property_ of the _state_, and its
appropriation, we talk of here. Whether the _absolute power_ be in the
hands of the _people_ or '_their officer_.' There had been a speech
made on that subject, which had not met with the approbation of the
absolute power then conducting the affairs of this realm; and in its
main principle, it is repeated here. 'That was my speech, and I will
make it again.' 'Not now, not now. Not in this heat, sir, now.' 'Now,
as I live, I will.']
_Men_. Well, well, no more of that,
_Cor_. Though _there_ THE PEOPLE had more _absolute power_,
I say they _nourished disobedience, fed_
The _ruin of the state_.
_Bru_. Why shall the people _give_
One that speaks thus their voice?
_Cor_. I'll give my _reasons_,
More worthier than _their voices_. They know the corn
Was not our RECOMPENSE; resting well assured
_They ne'er did service for it_?
. . . Well, what then?
How shall _this bosom multiplied_, digest;
The senate's courtesy? Let _deeds_ express
_What's like to be their words_. We did request it,
WE _are_ THE GREATER POLL, and in _true fear_
_They gave us our demands_. Thus we debase
The nature of our seats, and make the rabble
Call our _cares, fears:_ which will in time _break ope
The locks o' the senate_, and _bring in the crows
To peck the eagles._
_Mem_. Come, enough.
_Bru_. Enough, with _over measure_.
_Cor_. No, take _more_;
What may be sworn by, _both divine and human_,
Seal what I end withal! This _double_ worship,--
Where _one part_ does _disdain with cause, the other
Insult without all reason_; where _gentry, title, wisdom_,
Cannot conclude, but by the yea and no
Of _General Ignorance_--it _must omit
Real necessities_, and _give way the while
To unstable slightness_. PURPOSE so _barred_ it follows
_Nothing is done to purpose: Therefore_ beseech you,--
[Therefore beseech you].
You that will be less fearful than discreet;
That love the _fundamental part_ of _state_,
More than you doubt the _change_ of't--
There was but one man in England then, able to balance this
revolutionary proposition so nicely--so curiously; 'that love the
_fundamental_ part of state more than you doubt the change of it';
'You that are _less fearful_ than _discreet_'--not so _fearful_ as
A noble life before a long, and wish
To jump a body with a dangerous physic
_That's sure_ of _death without it_,--at once _pluck out
The multitudinous tongue_; let them not lick
The sweet which is their poison; _your dishonour_
MANGLES _true_ JUDGMENT, and bereaves THE STATE
Of that INTEGRITY which should _become it_:
Not having the power to do the good it would,
For the ill which doth control it.
_Bru_. He has said enough.
[One would think so].
_Sic_. He has spoken like a traitor, and shall answer
_As traitors do_.
_Cor_. Thou wretch! despite o'erwhelm thee!
What should the _people do_ with these bald tribunes?
_On whom depending, their obedience fails
To the greater bench_? In a rebellion,
When what's not meet, but what must be was _law_
Then were they chosen: in a better hour,
Let what _is meet_, be said it must be _meet_,
And throw their power i' the _dust_.
_Bru_. MANIFEST TREASON.
_Sic_. _This a Consul_? No.
_Bru_. The Aediles! ho! let him be apprehended.
_Sic_. Go call the people; [_Exit Brutus_] _in whose name, myself_
Attach _thee_ [_thee_] as a traitorous INNOVATOR,
A FOE to the PUBLIC WEAL. Obey, I charge thee,
And follow to thine answer.
_Cor_. Hence, old goat!
_Senators and Patricians. We'll surety him_.
_Cor_. Hence, rotten thing, or I shall shake thy bones
Out of thy garments.
_Sic_. Help, ye citizens.
[_Re-enter Brutus, with the Aediles, and a rabble of citizens._]
_Men_. _On both sides, more respect._
_Sic_. There's HE that would
_Take from you all your power_.
_Bru_. _Seize him, Aediles_.
_Cit_. _Down with him. Down with him_.
_Second Sen_. Weapons! Weapons! Weapons!
[_They all bustle about_ CORIOLANUS.]
Tribunes, patricians:--citizens:--what ho:--
_Men_. _What is about to be? I am out of breath:
Confusion's near! I cannot speak_: you tribunes
To the people.--_Coriolanus_, patience:--
Speak, good Sicinius.
_Sic_. Hear me, people;--_Peace_.
_Cit_. Let's hear _our_ tribune:--Peace,--_Speak, speak, speak_.
_Sic_. _You are at point to lose your liberties_,
Marcius _would have all from you_; Marcius
Whom late you have named for consul.
_Men_. Fye, fye, fye.
That is the way to _kindle_, not to _quench_.
_Sen_. To _unbuild_ the _city and to lay all flat_.
_Sic_. What is the city, but _the people_.
The _people are_ the city.
_Bru_. By the consent of ALL, we were established
The _people's_ magistrates.
_Cit_. You so remain.
_Men_. And so are like to do.
_Cor_. That is the way to lay the city flat,
To bring the _roof_ to the _foundation_;
And bury all which yet _distinctly ranges,
In heaps and piles of ruin_.
_Sic_. _This deserves death._
_Bru_. Or let us stand to our authority,
Or let us lose it:--
Truly, one hears the Revolutionary voices here. Observing the history
which is in all men's lives, 'Figuring the nature of the times
deceased, a man _may prophesy_,' as it would seem, 'with a _near
aim_,'--quite near--'of the _main_ chance of things, as yet, not come
to life, which in their weak beginnings lie intreasured. Such things
become the hatch and brood of _time_,' this Poet says; but art, it
seems, anticipates that process. There appears to be more of the
future here, than of the times deceased.
_Bru_. We do here pronounce
Upon the _part of the people, in whose power
We were elected theirs, Marcius is worthy_
Of _present death._
_Sic_. Therefore, lay hold of him;
Bear him to the rook Tarpeian, and from thence
Into destruction cast him.
_Bru_. AEdiles, seize him.
_Cit_. Yield, Marcius, yield.
_Men_. Hear me, one word.
Beseech you, tribunes, hear me, but a word.
_AEdiles_. Peace, peace.
_Men_. Be that you _seem, truly your country's friend_,
And _temperately_ proceed to what you would
Thus _violently_ redress.
_Bru_. Sir, those _cold ways_
That seem _like prudent helps_, are very _poisonous_.
Where the _disease is violent_.--Lay hands upon him,
And bear him to the rock.
_Cor_. No: I'll die here. [_Drawing his sword_.]
There's some among you have beheld me fighting;
Come _try upon yourselves_, what you have _seen_ me.
_Men_. DOWN with THAT SWORD; tribunes, withdraw awhile.
_Bru_. Lay hands upon him.
_Men_. Help, help, MARCIUS, help!
You that be NOBLE, help him, young and old.
_Cit_. DOWN WITH HIM! DOWN WITH HIM!
'In this _mutiny, the Tribunes, the AEdiles, and the People, are all_
BEAT IN,' so the stage direction informs us, which appears a little
singular, considering there is but _one sword_ drawn, and the
victorious faction does not appear to have the advantage in numbers.
It is, however, only a temporary success, as the victors seem to be
_Men_. Go, get you to _your houses, be gone away_,
All will be nought else.
_Second Sen_. Get you gone.
_Cor_. _Stand fast,
We have as many friends as enemies._
_Men_. Shall it be put to _that_?
_Sen_. _The gods forbid!_
I pry'thee noble friend, home to thy house;
_Leave us to_ CURE THIS CAUSE.
_Men_. _For_ 'tis a sore _upon us,
You cannot tent yourself. Begone, beseech you._
_Com_. Come, Sir, along with us.
_Cor_. I would they were barbarians (as they are,
Though in Rome _littered_) not Romans, (as they are _not_,
Though _calved_ i' the porch o' the Capitol).
Put not _your worthy rage_ into your _tongue_;
_One time_ will _owe another_. [_Hear_.]
_Cor_. On fair ground,
I could beat _forty_ of them.
_Men_. I could _myself_
Take up a _brace_ of the best of them; _yea, the two
_Com_. But now 'tis _odds_ beyond arithmetic:
And MANHOOD is called FOOLERY, _when it stands
Against a falling fabric_.--Will you hence,
Before the tag return? whose rage doth rend
Like interrupted waters, and _o'erbear
What they are used to bear_. [Change of 'predominance.']
_Men_. Pray you, begone:
I'll _try_ whether _my_ old wit be in request
With _those that have but little_; _this_ must be _patched_
With cloth of _any colour_.
_Com_. Nay, come away.
The features of that living impersonation of the heroic faults and
virtues which 'the mirror,' that professed to give to 'the very body
of the time, its form and pressure,' could not fail to show, are
glimmering here constantly in 'this ancient piece,' and often shine
out in the more critical passages, with such unmistakeable clearness,
as to furnish an effectual diversion for any eye, that should
undertake to fathom prematurely the player's intention. For 'the
gentleman who wrote the late Shepherd's Calendar' was not the only
poet of this time, as it would seem, who found the scope of a double
intention, in his poetic representation, not adequate to the
comprehension of his design--who laid on another and another still,
and found the complexity convenient. 'The sense is the best judge,'
this Poet says, in his doctrine of criticism, declining peremptorily
to accept of the ancient rules in matters of taste;--a rule in art
which requires, of course, a corresponding rule of interpretation. In
fact, it is no bad exercise for an ordinary mind, to undertake to
track the contriver of these plays, through all the latitudes which
his art, as he understands it, gives him. It is as good for that
purpose, as a problem in mathematics. But, 'to whom you will not give
an hour, you give nothing,' he says, and 'he had as lief not be read
at all, as be read by a careless reader.' So he thrusts in his
meanings as thick as ever he likes, and those who don't choose to stay
and pick them out, are free to lose them. They are not the ones he
laid them in for,--that is all. He is not afraid, but that he will
have readers enough, ere all is done; and he can afford to wait.
There's time enough.
_First Pat_. This man has marr'd his fortune.
_Men_. His nature is too noble for the world:
_He_ would not _flatter_ Neptune for _his trident_,
Or Jove for _his power_ to _thunder_. His heart's his mouth;
What his breast forges, _that_ his _tongue_ must vent;
And being angry, does forget that _ever
He heard the name of death_.
[_A noise within_.]
Here's goodly work!
_Second Pat_. I would they were _a-bed_!
_Men_. I would they were in Tyber!--_What, the vengeance,
Could he_ not _speak them fair_?
[_Re-enter Brutus and Sicinius with the Rabble_.]
_Sic_. WHERE IS THIS VIPER,
That would _depopulate_ the city, and
BE EVERY MAN HIMSELF?
_Men_. You worthy tribunes--
_Sic_. _He_ shall be thrown down the Tarpeian rock
With rigorous hands; _he hath resisted LAW_,
And therefore law shall scorn him further trial.
['When could they say till now that talked of Rome that _her_ wide
walls encompassed but _one man_?' 'What trash is Rome, what rubbish,
and what offal, when it serves for the base matter to illuminate so
vile a thing as Caesar.']
Than the severity of the PUBLIC POWER,
_Which he so sets at nought_.
_First Cit_. He shall _well_ know
The noble _tribunes_ are the _people's mouths_,
And _we their hands_.
[Historical _principles throughout, with much of that kind of
illustration in which his works are so prolific, an illustration which
is not rhetorical, but scientific, based on the COMMON PRINCIPLES IN
NATURE, which it is his 'primary' business to ascend to, and which it
is his 'second' business to apply to each particular branch of art.
'Neither,' as he tells us plainly, in his Book of Advancement,
'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,' and the tracking of
these historical principles to their ultimate forms, is that which he
recommends for the _disclosing_ of _nature and_ the _abridging_ of
_Sic_. He's a _disease_, that must be cut away.
_Men_. O he's a _limb_, that has but a disease;
Mortal to cut it off; to cure it, easy.
What has he done to Rome, that's worthy death?
_Killing our enemies?_ The blood he hath _lost_,
(Which, I dare vouch, is more than that he hath,
_By many an ounce_), he dropped it for his country.
And what _is left, to lose it by his country,
Were to us all, that do't and suffer it,
A brand to the end o' the world._
There's a piece thrust in here. This is the one of whom he says in
another scene, 'I cannot speak him home.'
_Bru_. _Merely awry_: when he did love his country,
It honour'd him.
_Men_. The _service_ of the _foot_,
Being once _gangren'd_, is not then respected
_For what before it was_?
_Bru_. We'll hear no more:--
Pursue him to his house, and pluck him thence;
Lest his infection, being of catching nature,
_Men_. One word more, one word.
This _tiger-footed_ rage, when it shall find
_The harm_ of _unscann'd swiftness_, will, too late,
_Tie leaden pounds to his_ HEELS. [Mark it, for it is a
_Lest_ PARTIES (as he is _beloved_) _break out_,
And sack great _Rome_ with _Romans_.
_Bru_. If it were so,--
_Sic. What_ do ye talk?
Have we not had a taste of his obedience?
_Our AEdiles smote? Ourselves resisted?--Come:--_
_Men. Consider this; he has been bred i' the wars_,
Since he could draw a sword,--
That has been the breeding of states, and nobility, and their rule,
hitherto, as this play will show you. Consider what _schooling_ these
statesmen have had, before you begin the enterprise of reforming them,
and take your measures accordingly. They are not learned men, you see.
How should they be? There has been no demand for learning. The law of
the sword has prevailed hitherto. When what's not meet but what must
be was law, then were they chosen. Proceed by process.
_Consider_ this; he has been bred i' the WARS
Since he could draw a sword, and is _ill school'd_
In _boulted language_--
[That's the trouble; but there's been a little bolting going on in
--_Meal and bran, together_
He _throws without distinction. Give me leave_
I'll go to him, and undertake to bring him
Where he shall answer by a _lawful form_,
(In peace) to his utmost peril.
_First Sen. Noble tribunes._
It is the _humane way_: the _other_ course
Will prove too bloody; and--
[What is very much to be deprecated in such movements].
--the END of it,
Unknown to the beginning.
_Sic_. Noble Menenius;
Be _you_ then as the People's Officer:
_Masters_,--[and they seem to be that, truly,]--lay down _your
_Bru. Go not home_,
_Sic_. MEET on the MARKET-PLACE,--
[--that is where the 'idols of the market' are--]
_We'll attend you there:
Where_, if you bring not Marcius, we'll proceed
In our _first way_.
_Men_. I'll bring him to you.
Let me desire _your_ company [_To the Senators_] He _must_ come,
Or what is worse will follow.
_Sen_. Pray you, let's to him.
_Enter Sicinius and Brutus_.
_Bru_. In this _point_ charge him _home_, that he affects
TYRANNICAL POWER: if he evade us there,
Enforce him with his envy to _the people_;
And that the spoil, got on the Antiates,
Was _ne'er distributed_.--
_Enter an AEdile_.
What, will he come?
_AEd_. He's coming.
_Bru_. How accompanied?
_AEd_. _With old Menenius_, and those senators
That always favour'd him.
_Sic_. Have you a _catalogue_
Of all the voices that we have procured,
_Set down by_ THE POLL?
_AEd_. _I have; 'tis ready._
_Sic_. Have you collected them BY TRIBES?
_AEd_. I _have_.
_Sic_. Assemble presently the people hither:
And when they hear _me_ say, _it shall be so_
_I_ the RIGHT and STRENGTH o' the COMMONS, be it either
For death, for fine, or banishment, then let them,
If I say _fine_, cry _fine_; if _death_, cry _death_;
Insisting on the OLD _prerogative,
And power i' THE TRUTH, o' THE CAUSE.
[There is a great difference in the delivery of the mathematics,
which are the most abstracted of knowledges, and policy, which is
the most immersed.--_Advancement_ of LEARNING.]
_AEd_. I shall inform them.
_Bru_. And when such time they have begun to cry,
Let them not cease, but with a din confused
Enforce the present execution
Of what we chance to sentence.
_AEd_. Very well.
_Sic_. Make them _be strong_, and _ready for this hint_.
When we shall _hap_ to give't them.
_Bru_. Go about it.
Put him to choler straight. He hath been used
Ever to conquer, and to have his worth
Of contradiction. Being once chafed, he cannot
Be rein'd again to temperance; then he speaks
What's in his heart; and _that_ is there, which looks
_With me to break his neck_. [Prophecy--inductive.]
Well, here he comes.
_Enter_ CORIOLANUS, _and his party_.
_Men_. Calmly, I do beseech you.
_Cor_. Ay, as an ostler, that for the poorest piece
Will bear the knave by the volume. The honour'd gods
Keep _Rome in safety_, and the CHAIRS of JUSTICE
_Supplied_ with WORTHY MEN! _plant_ LOVE _among us_.
Throng OUR LARGE TEMPLES with the _shows_ of PEACE,
And _not_ our STREETS with WAR.
_First Sen_. _Amen, Amen! [Hear, Hear_!]
_Men_. A NOBLE _wish_.
_Re-enter AEdile with Citizens_.
_Sic_. Draw near, ye people.
_Cor_. First hear _me_ speak.
_AEdile_. List to your _tribunes_. Audience: _Peace_, I say.
_Both Tri_. Well, say,--Peace, ho.
_Cor_. Shall I be charged no further than this present?
Must all determine here?
_Sic_. I do demand,
If you submit you to the _people's_ voices,
Allow their _officers_, and are content
To suffer _lawful censure for such faults
As shall be proved upon you_?
_Cor_. I am content.
_Men_. Lo, citizens, he says he is content--
_Cor_. What is the matter,
That being pass'd for consul, with full voice,
I am so dishonour'd, that the very hour
You take it off again?
_Sic_. _Answer to us_.
_Cor_. Say then,'tis true. _I ought so_.
Sic. WE CHARGE YOU, that you have contrived to take
From Rome, all seasoned office, and to wind
Yourself into a_ POWER TYRANNICAL;
_For which_, you are A TRAITOR to the PEOPLE.
_Cor_. How! _Traitor_?
_Men_. Nay, temperately: Your promise.
_Cor_. The fires in the lowest hell fold in the people!
Call me _their traitor_!
_Cit_. To the rock, to the rock with him.
We need not put _new matter_ to his charge:
What you have _seen_ him do, and heard him speak,
_Beating_ your _officers, cursing yourselves_,
Opposing _laws_ with _strokes_, and here defying
Those whose great power must try him; even THIS,
So _criminal_, and in such CAPITAL _kind_,
Deserves the extremest death....
For that he has,
As much as in him lies, from time to time,
Envied against the people; _seeking means_
To _pluck away their power_: as now, at last,
Given hostile strokes, and that, not in the presence
Of dreaded justice, but on the _ministers_
_That do distribute it; in the name o' the people_,
And in the _power of us, the tribunes, we_,
Even from _this instant_, banish him our city,
In _peril of precipitation_
From off the rock Tarpeian, never more
To enter _our_ Rome's gates. I' THE PEOPLE'S NAME
_I say it shall be so_.
_Cit_. _It shall be so, it shall be so_: let him away,
He's banish'd, and it _shall be so_.
_Com_. Hear me, MY MASTERS, and my COMMON FRIENDS.
_Sic_. HE'S SENTENCED: no more hearing.
_Com_. Let me speak:--
_Bru_. THERE'S NO MORE TO BE SAID, BUT HE IS BANISHED,
_As_ ENEMY _to the_ PEOPLE, AND HIS COUNTRY:
IT SHALL BE SO.
_Cit_. IT SHALL BE SO, IT SHALL BE SO.
And this is the story that was set before a king! One, too, who was
just then bestirring himself to get the life of 'that last king of
England who was his ancestor' brought out; a king who was taking so
much pains to get his triple wreath of conquest brightened up, and all
the lines in it laid out and distinguished--one who was taking so much
pains to get the fresh red of that last 'conqueror,' who also 'came in
by battle,' cleared up in his coat of arms, in case his double line of
white and red from the old _Norman_ should not prove sufficient--
sufficient to convince the English nation of his divine right, and
that of his heirs for ever, to dispose of it and its weal at his and
their pleasure, with or without laws, as they should see fit. A pretty
scene this to amuse a king with, whose ancestor, the one from whom he
directly claimed, had so lately seated himself and his line by battle-
-by battle with the English people _on those very questions_; who had
'beaten them in' in their mutinies with his single sword, 'and taken
all from them'; who had planted his chair of state on their suppressed
liberties, and 'the charters that they bore in the body of the weal'--
that chair which was even then beginning to rock a little--while there
was that in the mien and bearing of the royal occupant and his heir
which might have looked to the prescient mind, if things went on as
they were going then, not unlike to break some one's neck.
'Bid them home,'
says the Tribune, after the military hero is driven out by the uprisen
people, with shouting, from the city gates for ever; charged never
more to enter them, on peril of precipitation from the Tarpeian Rock.
'Bid them home:
Say, _their great enemy is gone_, and THEY
STAND _in their ancient strength_.'
But it is in the conquered nation that this scene of the deposing of
the military power is completed. Of course one could not tell
beforehand what effect that cautious, but on the whole luminous,
exhibition of the recent conquest of the English PEOPLE, prepared at
the suggestion and under the immediate criticism of royalty, might
have with the profoundly loyal English people themselves, in the way
of 'striking an awe into them,' and removing any lurking opposition
they might have to the exercise of an arbitrary authority in
government; but with people of the old Volscian pluck, according to
this Poet's account of the matter, an allusion to a similar success on
the part of the Conqueror at a critical moment, and when his _special_
qualifications for government happened to be passing under review, was
not attended with those happy results which appear to have been
expected in the other instance.
'_If_ you have writ _your annals true_, 't is there,
That _like an_ EAGLE in a dove-cote, _I_
Flutter'd your Volsces in Corioli:
_Alone, I did it_.'
[The answer is, in this case,]
'_Why_, noble lords,
_Will you be put in mind_ of his blind fortune,
Which was _your shame_, by this unholy braggart,
'Fore _your own eyes and ears_?
_Cons_. Let him die for't. [Several speak at once.]
_Citizens_ [Speaking _promiscuously_]. Tear him to pieces; do
it presently. He killed _my son_--_my daughter_;--he killed my
cousin Marcus;--he killed _my father_....
O that I had him,
With six Aufidiuses, or more, _his tribe_,
To use _my lawful sword_.
Ay, TRAITOR, Marcius.
Ay, _Marcius_, Caius Marcius. _Dost thou think_
I'll grace thee with that ROBBERY--thy STOLEN NAME,
_Coriolanus_, in CORIOLI?....
[.... Honest, my lord? 'Ay, honest.']
_Cons_. Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill him.'
'Would you proceed especially against _Caius Marcius?_
Against him FIRST.'
Surely, if that 'Heir apparent' to whom the _History_ of HENRY THE
SEVENTH was dedicated by the author, with an urgent recommendation of
the '_rare accidents_' in that reign to the royal notice and
consideration; if that prince had but chanced in some thoroughly
thoughtful mood to light upon this yet more 'ancient piece,' he might
have found here, also, some things worthy of his notice. It cannot be
denied, that the poet's mode of handling the same historical question
is much more bold and clear than that of the professed philosopher.
But probably this Prince was not aware that his father entertained at
Whitehall then, not a literary Historian, merely--a Book-maker, able
to compose narratives of the past in an orderly chronological prosaic
manner, according to the received method--but a Show-man, also, an
Historical Show-man, with such new gifts and arts; a true Magician,
who had in his closet a mirror which possessed the property of
revealing, not the past nor the present only, but the future, 'with a
near aim,' an aim so _near_ that it might well seem 'magical'; and
that a cloud was flaming in it, even then, 'which drizzled blood upon
the Capitol.' This Prince of Wales did not know, any more than his
father did, that they had in their court then an historical scholar,
with such an indomitable passion for the stage, with such a decided
turn for acting--one who felt himself divinely prompted to a part in
that theatre which is the Globe--one who had laid out all for his
share in that. They did not either of them know, fortunately for us,
that they had in their royal train such an Historic Sport-Manager,
such a Prospero for Masques; that there was a true 'Phil-harmonus'
there, with so clear an inspiration of scientific statesmanship. They
did not know that they had in that servant of the crown, so supple, so
'patient--patient as the midnight sleep,' patient 'as the ostler that
for the poorest piece will bear the knave by the volume'--such a born
aspirant for rule; one who had always his eye on the throne, one who
had always in mind their usurpation of it. They did not know that they
had a Hamlet in their court, who never lost sight of his purpose, or
faltered in his execution of it; who had found a scientific ground for
his actions, an end for his ends; who only affected incoherence; and
that it was he who was intriguing to such purpose with the PLAYERS.
The Elizabethan revolutionist was suppressed: then 'Fame, who is the
posthumous sister of rebellion, sprang up.'
'O like a book of sports thou'lt read me o'er,
But there's more in me than thou'lt understand.'
'Henceforth guard thee well,
For I'll not kill thee there, nor there, nor there;
But _by the forge_ that stithied Mars his helm,
I'll kill thee everywhere, yea o'er and o'er.'
'How I have thought of this, and of these times,
I shall recount hereafter, . . .
. . . . . and find a time
Both meet to hear and answer such high things.
_Till then_, my noble friend, _chew upon this_;
Brutus had rather he _a villager_,
Than _to repute himself_ a son of Rome,
Under these hard conditions _as this time_
_Is like to lay upon us_.
Inasmuch as the demonstration contained in this volume has laboured
throughout under this disadvantage, that however welcome that new view
of the character and aims of the great English philosopher, which is
involved in it, as welcome it must be to all true lovers of learning,
it presents itself to the mind of the reader as a view directly
opposed, not merely to what may possibly be his own erroneous
preconceptions of the case; but to facts which are among the most
notable in the history of this country; and not only to facts
sustained by unquestionable contemporary authority, and attested by
public documents,--facts which history has graven with her pen of iron
in the rock for ever, but with other exhibitions of this man's
character, not less, but more painful, for which he is himself singly
responsible;--not the forced exhibition of a confession wrung from him
by authority,--not the craven self-blasting defamation of a glorious
name that was not his to blast,--that was the property of men of
learning in all coming ages, precious and venerable in their eyes for
ever, at the bidding of power,--not that only, but the voluntary
exhibition of those qualities with which he stands charged,--which he
has gone out of his way to leave to us,--memorials of them which he
has collected with his own hands, and sealed up, and sent down to
posterity 'this side up,' with the most urgent directions to have them
read, and examined, and considered deeply,--that posterity, too, to
which he commends, with so much assurance, the care of his honor, the
cure of his fame.
The demonstrated fact must stand. The true mind must receive it.
Because our criticism or our learning is not equal to the task of
reconciling it with that which we know already, or with that which we
_believed_, and thought we _knew_, we must not on that account reject
it. That is to hurt ourselves. That is to destroy the principle of
integrity at its source. We must take our facts and reconcile them, if
we can; and let them take care of themselves, if we can not. God is
greater than we are, and whatever other sacrifices he may require of
us, painful to our human sensibilities, to make way with facts, for
the sake of advancing truths, or for any other reason never so
plausible, is a thing which he never does, and never did require of
any mind. The conclusion that requires facts to be dispensed with, or
shorn, on either side to make it tenable, is not going to stand, let
it come in what name, or with what authority it will; because the
truth of history is, in its least particular, of a universal quality,
and is much more potent than anything that the opinion and will of man
can oppose to it.
To the mind which is able to receive under all conditions the
demonstrated truth, and give to it its full weight,--to the mind to
which truth is religion, this book is dedicated. The facts which it
contains are able to assert themselves,--will be, at least, hereafter.
They will not be dependent ultimately upon the mode of their
exhibition here. For they have the large quality, they have the
solidity and dimensions of historical truth, and are accessible on
more sides than one.
But to those to whom they are already able to commend themselves in
the form in which they are here set forth, the author begs leave to
say, in conclusion, though it must stand for the present in the form
of a simple statement, but a statement which challenges investigation,
that so far from coming into any real collision with the evidence
which we have on this subject from other sources, those very facts,
and those very historical materials on which our views on this subject
have been based hitherto, are, that which is wanting to the complete
development of the views contained here.
It is the true history of these great events in which the hidden great
men of this age played so deep a part; it is the true history of that
great crisis in which the life-long plots of these hidden actors began
to show themselves on the historic surface in scenic grandeur,--in
those large tableaux which history takes and keeps,--which history
waits for,--it is the very evidence which has supplied the principal
basis of the received views on this subject,--it is the history of the
initiation of that great popular movement,--that movement of new ages,
with which the chief of popular development, and the leader of these
ages, has been hitherto so painfully connected in our impressions; it
is that very evidence,--that blasting evidence which the Learning of
the Modern Ages has always carried in its stricken heart,--it is
_that_ which is wanting here. That also is a part of the story which
has begun to be related here.
And those very letters which have furnished 'confirmations strong as
proofs of holy writ' of the impressions which the other historical
evidence, as it stands at present, inevitably creates,--those very
letters which have been collected by the party whose character was
concerned in them, and preserved with so much diligence and
caution,--which we have been asked with so much emphasis to read and
ponder,--which have been recommended to our attention as the very best
means, when all is done, of putting ourselves into sympathetic
relations with the writer, and attaining at last to a complete
understanding of his position, and to a complete acquaintance with his
character and aims,--with his _natural dispositions_, as well as his
deliberate scientific _aims_,--these letters, long as we have turned
from them,--often as we have turned from them,--chilled, confounded,
sick at heart,--unable, in spite of those recommendations, to find in
them any gleam of the soul of these proceedings,--these very letters
will have to be read, after all, and with that very diligence which
the directions enjoin upon us; they will have, when all is done, to
take just that place in the development of this plot which the author,
who always knows what he is about when he is giving directions,
designed them to take. There is one very obvious reason why they
should be studied--why they would have to be studied in the end. They
have on the face of them a claim to the attention of the learned.
There is nothing like them in the history of mankind. For, however
mean and disreputable the acts of men may be, when it comes to
words,--that medium of understanding and sympathy, in which the
identity of the common nature is perpetually declared, even in the
most private conferences,--there is usually an attempt to clothe the
forlorn and shrinking actuality with the common human dignity, or to
make it, at least, passably respectable, if the claim to the heroic is
dispensed with,--even in oral speech. But in writing, in letters,
destined to never so brief and limited an existence, who puts on paper
for the eye of another, for the review of that criticism which in the
lowest, basest of mankind, stands in unimpeachable dignity, prepared
to detect and pass sentence, and cry out as one aggrieved, on the
least failure, or shadow of failure in the best--who puts in
writing,--what tenant of Newgate will put on paper, when it comes to
that, a deliberate display of meanness,--what convicted felon, but
will undertake in that case to give some sort of heroic colour to his
proceedings--some air of suffering virtue to his durance?
But a great man, consciously great, who knows that his most trifling
letter is liable to publication; a great man, writing on subjects and
occasions which insure publicity to his writing; a man of fame,
writing letters expressly for publication, and dedicating them to the
far-off times; a man of poetic sensibilities, alive to the finest
shades of moral differences; one of unparalleled dignity and grandeur
of aims--aims pursued from youth to age, without wavering, under the
most difficult conditions, pursued to their successful issue; a man
whose aim in life it was to advance, and ennoble, and enrich his kind;
in whose life-success the race of men are made glad; such a one
sending down along with the works, in which the nobility and the
deliberate worth and grandeur of his ends are set forth and proved,
memorials of himself which exhibit studiously on the surface of them,
by universal consent, the most odious character in history; this is
the phenomenon which our men of learning have found themselves called
upon to encounter here. To separate the man and the philosopher--to
fly out upon the _man_, to throw him overboard with every expression
of animosity and disgust, to make him out as bad as possible, to
collect diligently every scrap of evidence against him, and set it
forth with every conceivable aggravation--this has been the resource
of an indignant scholarship in this case, bent on uttering its protest
in some form; this has been the defence of learning, cast down from
its excellency, and debased in all men's eyes, as it seemed for ever,
in the person of its high-priest.
The objection to the work here presented to the public is, that it
does not go far enough. From the point of review that the research of
which it is the fruit has now attained, this is the criticism to which
it appears to be liable. From this point of view, the _complaint_ to
be made against it is, that at the place where it stops it leaves, for
want of that part of the evidence which contains it, the historical
grandeur of our great men unrevealed or still obscured. For we _have_
had them, in the sober day-light of our occidental learning, in the
actualities of history, and not in the mists of a poetic past
only--monstrous idealisms, outstretched shadows of man's divinity,
demi-gods and heroes, impersonations of ages and peoples, stalking
through the twilight of the ante-historic dawn, or in the twilight of
a national popular ignorance, embalmed in the traditions of those who
are always 'beginners.' We have had them; we need not look to a
foreign and younger race for them; we have them, fruit of our own
stock; we have had them, not cloaked with falseness, but exposed in
the searching noonday glare of our western science. We have had them,
we have them still, with all their mortal frailty and littleness and
ignorance confessed, with all their 'weaved-up follies ravelled out,'
with all the illimitable capacity of affection and passion and will in
man, with all his illimitable capacity for folly and wrong-doing,
assumed and acknowledged in their own persons, symbolically,
vicariously, assumed and confessed. 'I am very proud, revengeful,
ambitious; with more offences at my beck than I have thoughts to put
them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in.' We
have them, _our_ Interpreters, _our_ Poets, _our_ Reformers, who start
from the actualities--from the actualities of nature in general, and
of the human nature in particular--who make the most careful study of
man as he is, in themselves and in all men, the basis of their
innovation, the beginning of their advancement to the ideal or divine.
We have them; and they, too, they also come to us, with that old
garland of glory on their brows, with that same 'crown' of victory,
which the world has given from of old to those who have taken her
affairs to be their business.
That the historical evidence which lies on the surface of an age, like
that age from which our modern philosophy proceeds, is of a kind to
require, for its unravelling, a different species of criticism from
that which suffices for the historical evidence which our own times
and institutions produce, is a fact which would hardly seem to require
any illustration in the present state of our historical knowledge, in
the present state of our knowledge in regard to the history of this
age in particular; when not the professed scholar only, but every
reader, knows what age in the constitutional history of England, at
least, that age was; when we have here, not the erudite historian
only, with his rich harvests for the scholar, that are _caviare_ to
the multitude, but the Poets of history also, wresting from dull prose
and scholasticism its usurped domains, and giving back to the peoples
their own, to tell us what age this was. The inner history of this
time is indeed still wanting to us; and the reason is, that we have
not yet applied to the reading of its principal documents that key of
times which our contemporary historians have already put into our
hands--that key which, we are told on good authority, is, in certain
cases, indispensable to the true interpretation.
That the direct contemporary testimony on which history depends is, in
this case, vitiated, tainted at its source, and through all its
details--that the documents are all of them, on the face of them,
'suspicious,' and not fit to be received as historical evidence
without the severest scrutiny and re-examination--this is the fact
which remains to be taken into the account here. For this is a case in
which the witnesses come into court, making signs, seeking with mute
gesticulation to attract our attention, pointing significantly to the
difficulties of the position, asking to be cross-examined, soliciting
a second cogitation on what they say, telling us that they mortally
hate obscurity, and would avoid it if they could; intimating that if
their testimony should be re-examined in a higher court, and when the
Star Chamber and the Court of Ecclesiastical Commission are no longer
in session, it might perhaps be found to be susceptible of a different
reading. This is a case in which the party convicted comes in with his
finger on his lips, and an appeal to another tribunal, to another
We all know what age in the history of the immemorial liberties and
dignities of a race--what age in the history of its recovered
liberties, rescued from oppression and recognised and confirmed by
statute, this was. We know it was an age in which the decisions of the
Bench were prescribed to it by a power that had 'the laws of England
at its commandment,' that it was an age in which Parliament, and the
press, and the pulpit, were gagged, and in which that same justice had
charge, diligent charge 'of amusements also, and of those who only
played at working.' That this was a time when the Play House
itself,--in that same year, too, in which these philosophical plays
began first to attract attention, and again and again, was warned off
by express ordinances from the whole ground of 'the forbidden
questions.' We know that this was an age in which not the books of the
learned only were subjected to 'the press and torture which expulsed'
from them all those 'particulars that point to action'--action, at
least, in which the common-weal of men is most concerned; that it was
a time when the private manuscript was subjected to that same
censorship and question, and corrected with those same instruments and
engines, which made then a regular part of the machinery of the press;
when the most secret cabinet of the Statesman and the Man of Letters
must be kept in order for that revision, when his most confidential
correspondence, his private note-book and diary must be composed under
these restrictions; when in the church, not the pulpit only, but the
secrets of the study, were explored for proofs of opposition to the
power then predominant; when the private desk and drawers of the poor
obscure country clergyman were ransacked, and his half-formed studies
of sermons, his rude sketches and hypothetical notes of sermons yet to
be--which might or might not be--put down for private purposes
perhaps, and never intended to be preached--were produced by
Government as an excuse for subjecting him to indignities and
cruelties to which those practised upon the Duke of Kent and the Duke
of Gloster, in the play, formed no parallel.
To the genius of a race in whose mature development speculation and
action were for the first time systematically united, in the
intensities of that great historical impersonation which signalises
its first entrance upon the stage of human affairs, stimulated into
preternatural activity by that very opposition which would have shut
it out from its legitimate fields, and shut it up within those
impossible, insufferable limits that the will of the one man
prescribed to it then,--to that many-sided genius, bent on playing
well its part even under those conditions, all the more determined on
it by that very opposition--kept in mind of its manliness all the time
by that all comprehending prohibition on manhood, that took charge of
every act--irritated all the time into a protesting human dignity by
the perpetual meannesses prescribed to it, instructed in the doctrine
of the human nature and its nobility in the school of that sovereignty
which was keeping such a costly 'crib' here then; 'Let a beast be lord
of beasts,' says Hamlet, 'and your crib shall stand at the king's
mess;' 'Would you have me false to _my nature_? says another,
'_rather_ say I _play_ the _man_ I am'; to that so conscious man,
playing his part under these hard conditions, on a stage so high;
knowing all the time what theatre that was he played it in, how
'_far_' those long-drawn aisles extended; what 'far-off' crowding ages
filled them, watching his slightest movements; who knew that he was
acting 'even in the eyes of all posterity that wear this world out to
the ending doom'; to such a one studying out his part beforehand under
such conditions, it was not one disguise only, it was not one secret
literary instrumentality only, that sufficed for the plot of it. That
toy stage which he seized and converted so effectually to his ends,
with all its masks did not suffice for the exigencies of this
speaker's speech, 'who came prepared to speak well,' and 'to give to
his speech a grace by action.'
Under these circumstances, the art of letter-writing presented itself
to this invention, as a means of accomplishing objects to which other
forms of writing did not admit then of being so readily adapted. It
offered itself to this invention as a means of conducting certain
plots, which inasmuch as they had the weal of men for their object,
were necessarily conducted with secresy then. The whole play of that
dramatic genius which shaped our great dramatic poems, came out, _not_
on the stage, but in these 'plots' in which the weal of the unborn
generations of men was the end; those plots for the relief of man's
estate which had to be plotted, like murders and highway robberies,
then, by bandits that had watch-words, and 'badges' and signals and
private names, and a secret slang of their own.
The minds that conducted this enterprise under these conditions, were
minds conscious of powers equal, at least, to those of the Greeks, and
who thought they had as good a right to invent new methods of literary
communication, or to convert old ones to new uses as the Greeks had in
The speaker for this school was one who could not see why it was not
just as lawful for the moderns to 'invent new measures in verses,' at
least, as in 'dances,' and why it was not just as competent for him to
compose 'supposititious' letters for _his_ purposes, as it was for
Thucydides to compose speeches for _his_; and though eloquence was, in
this case, for the most part, dispensed with, these little every-day
prosaic unassuming, apparently miscellaneous, scraps of life and
business, shewing it up piece-meal as it was in passage, and just as
it happened in which, of course, no one would think of looking for a
comprehensive design, became, in the hands of this artist, an
invention quite as effective as the oratory of the ancient.
The letters which came out on the trial of Essex, in the name of Sir
Antony Bacon, but in which the hand of Mr. Francis Bacon appeared
without much attempt at disguise, were not the only documents of that
kind for which the name of the elder brother, with his more retiring
and less 'dangerous' turn of mind, appeared to be, on the whole, the
least objectionable. An extensive correspondence, which will tend to
throw some light on the contemporary aspect of things when it is
opened, was conducted in that gentleman's name, about those days.
But much more illustrious persons, who were forced by the genius of
this dramatist into his plots, were induced to lend their names and
sanction to these little unobtrusive performances of his, when
occasion served. This was a gentleman who was in the habit of writing
letters and arranging plots, for quite the most distinguished
personages of his time. In fact, his powers were greatly in request
for that purpose. For so far as the question of mere ability was
concerned, it was found upon experiment, that there was nothing he
stopped at. Under a sharp pressure, and when the necessary question of
the Play required it, and nothing else would serve, it was found that
he could compose 'a sonnet' as well as a state paper, or a decision,
or a philosophical treatise. He wrote a sonnet for Essex, addressed to
Queen Elizabeth, on one very important occasion. If it was not any
better than those attempts at lyrical expression in another department
of song, which he has produced as a specimen of his poetical abilities
in general, it is not strange that Queen Elizabeth, who was a judge of
poetry, should find herself able to resist the blandishments of that
effusion. But it was not the royal favourite only, it was not Essex
and Buckingham only, who were glad to avail themselves of these so
singular gifts, devoted to their use by one who was understood to have
no other object in living, but to promote their ends,--one whose vast
philosophic aims,--aims already propounded in all their extent and
grandeur, propounded from the first, as the ends to which the whole
scheme of his life was to be--artistically--with the strong hand of
that mighty artist, through all its detail subordinated, were supposed
to be merged, lost sight of, forgotten in an irrepressible enthusiasm
of devotion to the wishes of the person who happened, at the time, to
be the sovereign's favourite; one whose great torch of genius and
learning was lighted, as it was understood,--lighted and fed, to light
them to their desires. Elizabeth herself, unwilling as she was to add
any thing to the powers with which nature had crowned this man,
instructed by her instinct, that 'such men were dangerous,' was
willing, notwithstanding, to employ his peculiar gifts in services of
this nature; and so was her successor. And the historical fact is,
that an extraordinary amount of business of one kind and another,
passed in consequence through this gentleman's hands in both these
reigns, and perhaps no one was ever better qualified by constitutional
endowments, and by a predominant tendency to what he calls technically
'active good,' for the dispatch of business in which large and distant
results were comprehended. And if in managing plots for these
illustrious personages, he conducted them always with stedfast
reference to his ulterior aims,--if, in writing letters for them, he
wrote them always with the under-tones of his own part,--of his own
immortal part that was to survive 'when tyrants' crests and tombs of
brass were spent' running through them--if, in composing state papers
and concocting legal advice, and legal decisions, he contrived to
insert in them an inner meaning, and to point to the secret history
which contained their solution, who that knows _what_ those times
were, who that knows to what divine ends this man's life was
dedicated, shall undertake to blame him for it.
All these papers were written with an eye to publication; thay were
written for the future, but they were written in that same secret
method, in that same 'cipher' which he has to stop to describe before
he can introduce the subject of 'the principal and supreme sciences,'
with the distinct assurance that as 'matters stand then, it is an art
of great use,' though some may think he introduces it with its kindred
arts, in that place, for the sake of making out a muster-roll of the
sciences, and to _little_ other purpose, and that trivial as these may
seem in such a connexion, 'to those who have spent their labours and
studies in them, they seem great matters,' appealing to 'those who are
skilful in them' to say whether he has not given, in what he has said
of them, 'though in few words,' a proof of his proficiency. This was
the method of writing in which not the principal and supreme sciences
only, but every thing that was fit to be written at all had need to be
'Ciphers are commonly in letters, but may be in words.' Both these
kinds of ciphers were employed in the writings of this school. The
reading of that which is '_in letters_,' the one in which letters are
secretly employed as 'symbols' of esoteric philosophic subtleties, is
reserved for those who have found their way into the esoteric chambers
of this learning. It is reserved for those who have read the 'Book of
Sports and Riddles,' which this school published, and who happen to
have it with them when it happens to be called for; it is reserved for
those who have circumvented Hamlet, and tracked _him_ to his last
lurking place, and plucked out the heart of his mystery; for those who
have been in Prospero's Island, and 'untied his spell.' This point
gained,--the secret of the cipher '_in letters_,'--the secret of 'the
symbols,' and other 'devices' and 'conceits' which were employed in
this school as a medium of secret philosophic correspondence, the
characters in which these men struck through the works they could not
own then, the grand colossal symbol of the school, its symbol of
universality, large as the world, enduring as the ages of the human
kind, and with it--_in it_, their own particular 'marks' and private
signatures,--this mastered,--with the secret of _this_ in our hands,
the cipher '_in words_' presents no difficulties, When we come to read
the philosophical papers of this great firm in letters, with the aid
of that discovery, we shall know what one of the partners of it means,
when he says, that on 'account of the rawness and unskilfulness of the
hands through which they pass, the greatest matters are sometimes
carried in the weakest ciphers.'
It was easy, for instance, in defining the position of the favourite
in the Court of Queen Elizabeth, in recommending a civil rather than a
military greatness as the one least likely to provoke the animosity
and suspicion of government under those conditions, in recommending
that so far from taking umbrage at the advancement of a rival--the
policy of the position prescribed, the deliberate putting forward and
sustaining of another favourite to avert the jealousy and fatal
suspicion with which, under such conditions, the government regards
its favourite, when popularity and the qualities of a military
chieftain are combined in him; it was easy in marking out those grand
points in the conditions of the chief courtiers' policy at that time,
to glance at the position of other men in that same court, seeking for
power under those same conditions--men whose position, inasmuch as the
immediate welfare of society and the destinies of mankind in future
ages were concerned in it, was infinitely more important than that of
the person whose affairs were agitated on the surface of the letter.
It was easy, too, in setting forth the conflicting claims of the 'New
Company and the Old' to the monopoly of the manufacture and dying of
woollens, for instance, to glance at the New Company and the Old whose
claims to the monopoly of another public interest, not less important,
were coming forward for adjustment just about that time, and urging
their respective rights upon the attention of the chief men in the
Or in the discussion of a plan for reforming the king's household, and
for reducing its wanton waste and extravagance--in exhibiting the
detail of a plan for relieving the embarrassments of the palace just
then, which, with the aid of the favourite and his friends, and
_their_ measures for relief, were fast urging on the revolution--it
was easy to indicate a more extensive reform; it was impossible to
avoid a glance, in passing, at the pitifulness of the position of the
man who held all men in awe and bondage then; it was impossible to
avoid a touch of that same pen which writes elsewhere, 'Beggar and
Madman,' too, so freely,--consoling _the Monarch_ with the suggestion
that _Essex_ was also greatly in debt at a time when he was much
sought after and caressed, and instancing the case of other courtiers
who had been in the same position, and yet contrived to hold their
Under the easy artistic disguise of courtly rivalries and opposing
ambitions--under cover, it might be, of an outrageous personal mutual
hostility--it was easy for public men belonging to the same side in
politics, who were obliged to conduct, not only the business of the
state, but their own private affairs, and to protect their own most
sacred interests under such conditions,--it was easy for politicians
trained in such a school, by the skilful use of such artifices, to
play into each other's hands, and to attain ends which in open league
they would have been sure to lose; to avert evils, it might be, which
it would have been vain and fatal for those most concerned in them
openly to resist. To give to a courtier seeking advancement, with
certain ulterior aims always in view, the character of a speculator, a
scholastic dreamer, unable for practice, unfit to be trusted with
state affairs, was not, after all, however pointedly it might be
complained of at the time, so fatal a blow as it would have been to
direct attention, already sufficiently on the alert, to the remarkable
practical gifts with which this same speculator happened, as we all
know, to be also endowed. This courtier's chief enemy, if he had been
in his great rival's secrets, or if he had reflected at all, might
have done him a worse turn than that. The hostilities of that time are
no more to be taken on trust than its friendships, and the exaggerated
expressions of them,--the over-doing sometimes points to another
While indicating the legal method of proceeding in conducting the show
of a trial, to which 'the man whose fame did indeed fold in the orb o'
the world' was to be subjected--a trial in which the decision was
known beforehand--'though,' says our Poet--
'Though well, we may not pass upon _his life_,
Without _the form of justice_;'--
it was easy for the mean, sycophantic, truckling tool of a Stuart--for
the tool of a Stuart's favourite--to insert in such a paper, if not
private articles, private readings of passages, interlinings, pointing
to a history in that case which has not yet transpired; it was easy
for such a one to do it, when the partner of his treasons would have
had no chance to criticise his case, or meddle with it.
In this collection of the apparently miscellaneous remains of our
great philosopher, there are included many important state papers, and
much authentic correspondence with the chief personages and actors of
that age, which performed their part at the time as letters and state
papers, though they were every one of them written with an inner
reference to the position of the writer, and intended to be unfolded
eventually with the key of that position. But along with this
authentic historical matter, cunningly intermingled with it, much that
is '_supposititious_,' to borrow a term which this writer found
particularly to his purpose--supposititious in the same sense in which
the speeches of Thucydides and those of his imitators are
suppositious--is also introduced. There is a great deal of fictitious
correspondence here, designed to eke out that view of this author's
life and times which the authentic letters left unfinished, and which
he was anxious, for certain reasons, to transmit to posterity,--which
he was forbidden to transmit in a more direct manner. There is a good
deal of miscellaneous letter-writing here, and there will be found
whole series of letters, in which the correspondence is sustained on
both sides in a tolerably lively manner, by this Master of Arts; but
under a very meagre dramatic cover in this case, designedly thin,
never meant to serve as a cover with 'men of understanding.' Read
which side of the correspondence you will in these cases, 'here is his
dry hand up and down.'
These fictitious supposititious letters are written in his own name,
as often as in another's; for of all the impersonations, ancient and
modern, historical and poetic, which the impersonated genius of the
modern arts had to borrow to speak and act his part in, there is no
_such_ mask, no so deep, thick-woven, impenetrable disguise, as that
historical figure to which his own name and person is attached;--the
man whom the Tudor and the Stuart admitted to their secrets,--the man
whom the Tudor tolerated, whom the Stuart delighted to honor. In his
rules of policy, he has left us the most careful directions for the
interpretations of the lives of men whose 'impediments' are such, and
whose '_natures_ and _ends_' are so 'differing and dissonant from the
general state of the times in which they live,' that it is necessary
for them to avoid 'disclosing themselves,' 'to be _in the whole
course_ of their lives _close, retired_, reserved, as we see in
Tiberius, _who was never seen at a play_,' men who are compelled, as
it were, 'to act their lives as in a theatre.' 'The _soundest
disclosing_,' he says, 'and _expounding_ of MEN is by their NATURES
_and_ ENDS. The _weaker_ sort of men are best interpreted by their
_natures_, the _wisest_ by their _ends_.' 'Princes are best
_interpreted_ by their _natures_, private persons by their _ends_,
because princes being at the top of human desires, _they_ have, for
the most part, no particular ends _whereto they aspire, by distance
from which_ a man _might take measure and scale of the rest of their
actions and desires_' '_Distance_ from which,'--that is the key for
the interpretation of the lives of private persons of certain unusual
endowments, who propound to themselves under such conditions 'good and
reasonable ends, and such as are within _their_ power to attain.' As
to the worthiness of these ends, we have some acquaintance with them
already in our own experience. The great leaders of the new movements
which make the modern ages--the discoverers of its science of
sciences, the inventors of its art of arts, found themselves in an
enemy's camp, and the policy of war was the only means by which they
could preserve and transmit to us the benefits we have already
received at their hands,--the benefits we have yet to receive from
them. The story of this Interpreter is sent down to us, not by
accident, but by his own design. But it is sent down to us _with_ the
works in which the nobility of his nature is all laid open,--in which
the end of his ends is constantly declared, and constantly
pursued,--it is sent down to us along with the works in which his ends
are _accomplished_, to the times that have found in their experience
_what_ they were. He did not think it too much to ask of ages
experimentally acquainted with the virtue of the aims for which he
made these sacrifices,--aims which he constantly propounded as the end
of his large activity, to note the 'dissonance' between that life
which the surface of these documents exhibits,--between that historic
form, too, which the surface of that time's history exhibits,--and the
nature which is revealed in this life-act,--the soul, the never-shaken
soul of this proceeding.
'The god of soldiers,
With the consent of _supreme Jove_, inform
Thy thoughts with nobleness; that thou may'st prove
_The shame_ UNVULNERABLE, and stick i' the war
Like a _great sea-mark_, standing every flaw,
And saving those that _eye thee_.'
'I would not, as I often hear dead men spoken of, that men should say
of _me_, he _judged_, and _lived_ so and so; I knew him better than
any. Now, as much as decency permits, I _here_ discover my
inclinations and affections. If any _observe_, he will find that I
have either told, or _designed_ to tell all. What I cannot speak, I
point out with my finger.' 'There was never greater circumspection and
_military_ prudence than is sometimes seen among us' ['Naturalists'].
'_Can it be_ that men are afraid to lose themselves by the way, that
they reserve themselves to the end of the game?'
'I mortally hate to be mistaken by those who happen to come across my
_name_. He that does all things for honor and glory, what can _he_
think to gain by showing himself to the world in _a mask_, and by
concealing _his true being_ from the people? If you are a coward, and
men commend you for your valour, is it of you that they speak? They
take you for another. Archelaus, king of Macedon, walking along the
street, somebody threw water on his head, which they who were with him
said he ought to punish: "Ay, _but_," said the other, "he did not
throw the water upon _me_, but upon _him_ whom he took me to be."
_Socrates_ being told by the people, that people spoke ill of him,
"Not at all," said he; "there is nothing _in me_ of what they say. _I_
am content to be less commended, provided I am better known. I may be
reputed a wise man, in _such a sort of wisdom_ as I take to be
folly."'--['_The French Interpreter_.']
This is the man who never in all his life came into the theatre,
content to work behind the scenes, scientifically enlightened as to
the true ends of living, and the means of attaining those ends,
propounding deliberately his _duty_ as a man, his duty to his kind,
his obedience to the law of his higher nature, as his predominant
end,--but not to the harm or oppression of his particular and private
nature, but to its most felicitous conservation and advancement,--at
large in its new Epicurean emancipations, rejoicing in its great
fruition, happy in its untiring activities, triumphing over all
impediments, celebrating in secret lyrics, its immortal triumphs over
'death and all oblivious enmity,' and finding, 'in the consciousness
of good intentions, a more continual joy to nature than all the
provision that can be made for security and repose,'--not reconciled
to the part he was compelled to play in his own time,--his fine, keen
sensibilities perpetually at war with it,--always balancing and
reviewing the nice ethical questions it involved, and seeking always
the 'nobler' solution. 'The one part have I suffered, the other will I
do,'--demonstrating the possibility of making, even under such
conditions, a 'life sublime.'
'All places that the eye of heaven visits
Are, to a wise man, ports and happy havens.'
There is no room here for details; but this is the account of this so
irreconcileable difference between the Man of these Works and the Man
in the Mask, in which he triumphantly achieved them;--this is the
account, in the general, which will be found to be, upon
investigation, the true one. And the more the subject is studied, even
by the light which this work brings to bear upon it, the more the
truth of this statement will become apparent.
But though the details are, by the limits of this volume, excluded
here, it cannot well close, without one word as to _the points_ in
this part of the evidence, which have made the deepest impression on
No man suffered death, or mutilation, or torture, or outrage of any
kind, under the two tyrannies of this age of learning, that it was
possible for this scientific propounder of the law of human
_kind_-ness to avert and protect him from--this anticipator and
propounder of a _human_ civilization. He was far in advance of our
times in his criticism of the barbarisms which the rudest ages of
social experiment have transmitted to us. He could not tread upon a
beetle, without feeling through all that exquisite organization which
was great nature's gift to her Interpreter in chief, great nature's
pang. To anticipate the sovereign's wishes, seeking to divert them
first 'with a merry conceit' perhaps; for, so light as that were, the
motives on which _such_ consequences might depend then--to forestall
the inevitable decision was to arm himself with the powers he needed.
The men who were protected and relieved by that secret combination
against tyranny, which required, as the first condition of its
existence, that its chiefs should occupy places of trust and
authority, ought to come out of their graves to testify against the
calumnies that blast our modern learning, and the virtue--the virtue
of it, at its source. Does any one think that a universal _slavery_
could be fastened on the inhabitants of this island, when wit and
manliness are at their height here, without so much as the project of
an 'underground railway' being suggested for the relief of its
victims? 'I will seek him and _privily_ relieve him. Go _you_ and
_maintain talk with the Duke_ that my charity be not of him
_perceived_. If he ask for _me_, I am ill and gone to bed. Go to; say
you nothing. There is division between the Dukes--[between the
Dukes]--and a worse matter than that. I have received a letter this
night. It is _dangerous to be spoken_. I have _locked the letter_ in
my _closet_. There is _part_ of _a power already_ FOOTED. We must
incline to THE KING. If I die for it, as no less is threatened me, the
king, _my old master_, must be relieved.' _That_ when all is done will
be found to contain some hints as to the manner in which 'charities'
of this kind have need to be managed, under a government armed with
powers so indefinable.
_Cassius_. And let us awear our resolution.
_Brutus_. No, not an oath: If not _the face_ of _men,
The sufferance_ of _our souls_, THE TIMES ABUSE,--
If _these_ be motives weak, _break off betimes_,
And _every man_ hence to his _idle_ bed;
_So_ let high-sighted tyranny _range on_,
Till _each man_ drop _by_ lottery. But if THESE,--
_As I am sure they do_,--bear fire enough
To kindle cowards, and to steel with valour
The melting spirits of women, _then, countrymen_,
What need we any spur but OUR OWN CAUSE
To prick us to redress? what other bond
Than _secret Romans_, that have spoken the word,
And will not falter....
Swear priests and cowards, and men cautelous,
Old feeble carrions, and such suffering souls
That welcome wrongs; unto bad causes swear
Such creatures as men doubt; but do not stain
The _even_ virtue of our enterprise,
_Nor_ the insuppressive mettle of our spirits,
To think that, or _our cause_, or our _performance_,
Did need an oath.'
[Doctrine of the '_secret Romans_.']
As to the rest, it was this man--this man of a scientific 'prudence'
with the abhorrence of change, which is the instinct of the larger
whole, confirmed by a scientific forethought--it was this man who gave
at last _the signal_ for change; not for war. 'Proceed by process' was
his word. Constitutional remedies for the evils which appeared to have
attained at last the unendurable point, were the remedies which he
proposed--this was the _move_ which he was willing, for his part, to
_initiate_.--'We are not, perhaps, at the last gasp. I think I see
ways to save us.'--The proceedings of the Parliament which condemned
him were studiously arranged beforehand by himself,--he wrote the
programme of it, and the part he undertook to perform in it was the
greatest in history. [''Tis the indiligent reader that loses my
subject, not I,' says the 'foreign interpreter' of this style of
writing. 'There will always be found some word or other, _in a
corner_, though it lie very close.' That is the rule for the reading
of the evidence in this case. The word is there, though _it lies very
close_, as it had need to, to be available.]
It was as a baffled, disgraced statesman, that he found leisure to
complete and put in final order for posterity, those noble works,
through which we have already learned to love and honour him, in the
face of this calumny. It was as a disgraced and baffled statesman and
courtier--all lurking jealousies and suspicions at last put to
rest--all possibility of a political future precluded; but as a
_courtier_ still hanging on the king and on the power that controlled
the king, for _life_ and _liberty_; and careful still not to assert
any independence of those same ends, which had always been taken to be
his _ends_; it was in this character that he brought out at last the
Novum Organum; it was in this character that he ventured to collect
and republish his avowed philosophical works; it was in this character
too that he ventured at last to produce that little piece of history
which comes down to us loosely appended to these philosophical
writings. A history of the Second Conquest of the Children of Alfred,
a Conquest which they resisted, in heroic wars, but vainly, for want
of leaders and organization--overborne by the genius of a military
chief whom this historian compares in king-craft with his
contemporaries Ferdinand of Spain, and Louis XI. It is a history which
was dedicated to Charles I., which was corrected in the manuscript by
James I., at the request of the author; and he owed to that monarch's
approval of it, permission to come to town for the purpose of
superintending its publication. It is the History of _the Founding_ of
the Tudor Dynasty: prepared,--as were the rest of these works,--under
the patronage of an insolent favourite with whom it was necessary
'entirely to drop the character that carried with it the least show of
_truth or gracefulness_,' and under the patronage of a monarch with
whom it was not sufficient 'for persons of superior gifts and
endowments to _act_ the deformity of obsequiousness, unless they
really changed themselves and became abject and contemptible in their
'_I_ am in this (_Volumnia_)
Your wife, your son, these senators, the nobles,
And you will rather show our general lowts,
How you can frown, than spend a fawn upon them,
For the _inheritance_ of their loves, and _safeguard_,
Of what that want might ruin.
Away my _disposition_!
When you do find him, or alive or dead,
He will be found like Brutus, LIKE HIMSELF.
'Yet country-men, _O yet_, hold up your heads.
I will proclaim my name about the field.
I am the son of Marcus Cato, HO!
A foe TO TYRANTS, and my country's friend.
'And _I_ am Brutus, Marcus Brutus _I_,
Brutus, MY COUNTRY'S FRIEND, know ME for BRUTUS.'