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The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakspere Unfolded by Delia Bacon

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them;--these are the arts that we shall have need to master, if we
would unlock the legacy they have left to us.

The proof of the existence of this special art of delivery and
tradition, and the definition of the objects for which it was
employed, has been derived thus far chiefly from sources of evidence
exterior to the works themselves; but the inventors of it and those
who made use of it in their own speech and writings, are undoubtedly
the persons best qualified to give us authentic and lively information
on this subject; and we are now happily in a position to appreciate
the statements which they have been at such pains to leave us, for the
sake of clearing up those parts of their discourse which were
necessarily obscured at the time. Now that we have in our hands that
key of _Times_ which they have recommended to our use, that knowledge
of times which 'gives great light in many cases to true
interpretations,' it is not possible any longer to overlook these
passages, or to mistake their purport.

But before we enter upon the doctrine of Art which was published in
the first great recognized work of this philosophy, it will be
necessary to produce here some extracts from a book which was not
originally published in England, or in the English language, but one
which was brought out here as an exotic, though it is in fact one of
the great original works of this school, and one of its boldest and
most successful issues; a work in which the new grounds of the actual
experience and life of men, are not merely inclosed and propounded for
written inquiry, but openly occupied. This is not the place to explain
this fact, though the continental relations of this school, and other
circumstances already referred to in the life of its founder, will
serve to throw some light upon it; but on account of the bolder
assertions which the particular form of writing and publication
rendered possible in this case, and for the sake also of the more
lively exhibition of the art itself which accompanies and illustrates
these assertions in this instance, it appears on the whole excusable
to commence our study of the special Art for the delivery and
tradition of knowledge in those departments which science was then
forbidden on pain of death to enter, with that exhibition of it which
is contained in this particular work, trusting to the progress of the
extracts themselves to apologize to the intelligent reader for any
thing which may seem to require explanation in this selection.

It is only necessary to premise, that this work is one of the many
works of this school, in which a grave, profoundly scientific design
is concealed under the disguise of a gay, popular, attractive form of
writing, though in this case the audience is from the first to a
certain extent select. It has no platform that takes in--as the plays
do, with their more glaring attractions and their lower and broader
range of inculcation,--the populace. There is no pit in this theatre.
It is throughout a book for men of liberal culture; but it is a book
for the world, and for men of the world, and not for the cloister
merely, and the scholar. But this, too, has its differing grades of
readers, from its outer court of lively pastime and brilliant aimless
chat to that _esoteric_ chamber, where the abstrusest parts of
sciences are waiting for those who will accept the clues, and
patiently ascend to them.

The work is popular in its form, but it is inwoven throughout with a
thread of lurking meanings so near the surface, and at times so boldly
obtruded, that it is difficult to understand how it could ever have
been read at all without occasioning the inquiry which it was intended
to occasion under certain conditions, but which it was necessary for
this society to ward off from their works, except under these
limitations, at the time when they were issued. For these inner
meanings are everywhere pointed and emphasized with the most bold and
vivid illustration, which lies on the surface of the work, in the form
of stories, often without any apparent relevance in that exterior
connection--brought in, as it would seem, in mere caprice or by the
loosest threads of association. They lie, with the 'allegations' which
accompany them, strewn all over the surface of the work, like 'trap'
on 'sand-stone,' telling their story to the scientific eye, and
beckoning the philosophic explorer to that primeval granite of
sciences that their vein will surely lead to. But the careless
observer, bent on recreation, observes only a pleasing feature in the
landscape, one that breaks happily its threatened dulness; the reader,
reading this book as _books_ are wont to be read, finds nothing in
this phenomenon to excite his curiosity. And the author knows him and
his ways so well, that he is able to foresee that result, and is not
afraid to trust to it in the case of those whose scrutiny he is
careful to avoid. For he is one who counts largely on the
carelessness, or the indifference, or the stupidity of those whom he
addresses. There is no end to his confidence in that. He is
perpetually staking his life on it. Neither is he willing to trust to
the clues which these unexplained stories might seem of themselves to
offer to the studious eye, to engage the attention of the reader--the
reader whose attention he is bent on securing. Availing himself of one
of those nooks of discourse, which he is at no loss for the means of
creating when the purpose of his _essaie_ requires it, he beckons the
confidential reader aside, and thus explains his method to him,
outright, in terms which admit of but one construction. 'Neither these
stories,' he says, 'nor my allegations do always serve simply for
example, authority, or ornament; I do not only regard them for the use
I make of them; they carry sometimes, _besides what I apply them to_,
the seeds of a richer and bolder matter, and sometimes, _collaterally,
a more delicate sound_, both to me myself,--who will say no more about
it _in this place_' [we shall hear more of it in another place,
however, and where the delicate collateral sounds will not be
wanting]--'both to me myself, and _to others who happen to be of my

To the reader, who does indeed happen to be of his ear, to one who has
read the 'allegations' and stories that he speaks of, and the whole
work, and the works connected with it, by means of that knowledge of
the inner intention, and of the method to which he alludes, this
passage would of course convey no new intelligence. But will the
reader, to whom the views here presented are yet too new to seem
credible, endeavour to imagine or invent for himself any form of
words, in which the claim already made in regard to the style in which
the great original writers of this age and the founders of the new
science of the human life were compelled to infold their doctrine,
could have been, in the case of this one at least, more distinctly
asserted. Here is proof that one of them, one who counted on an
_audience_ too, did find himself compelled to infold his richer and
bolder meanings in the manner described. All that need be claimed at
present in regard to the authorship of this sentence is, that it is
written by one whose writings, in their higher intention, have ceased
to be understood, for lack of the '_ear_' to which his bolder and
richer meanings are addressed, for lack of the _ear_, to which the
collateral and more delicate sounds which his words sometimes carry
with them are perceptible; and that it is written by a philosopher
whose learning and aims and opinions, down to the slightest points of
detail, are absolutely identical with those of the principal writers
of this school.

But let us look at a few of the stories which he ventures to introduce
so emphatically, selecting only such as can be told in a sentence or
two. Let us take the next one that follows this explanation--the story
in the very next paragraph to it. The question is _apparently_ of
Cicero, of his style, of his vanity, of his supposed care for his
_fame_ in future ages, of his _real disposition and objects_.

'Away with that eloquence that so enchants us with its _harmony_, that
we should more study it than _things_' [what new soul of philosophy is
this, then, already?]--'unless you will affirm that of _Cicero_ to be
of so supreme perfection as to form _a body_ of itself. And of him, I
shall further add one story we read of to this purpose, wherein _his
nature_ will _much more manifestly be laid open to us_' [than in that
seeming care for his fame in future ages, or in that lower object of
style, just dismissed so scornfully].

'He was to make an oration in public, and found himself a little
straitened _in time_, to _fit his words to his mouth as he had a mind
to do_, when _Eros_, one of his slaves, brought him word that the
_audience was deferred_ till the next day, at which he was so ravished
with joy that _he enfranchised him_.'

The word 'time'--here admits of a double rendering whereby the
_author's_ aims are more manifestly laid open; and there is also
another word in this sentence which carries a 'delicate sound' with
it, to those who have met this author in other fields, and who happen
to be of his counsel. But lest the stories of themselves should still
seem flat and pointless, or trivial and insignificant to the
uninstructed ear, it may be necessary to interweave them with some
further 'allegations on this subject,' which the author assumes, or
appears to assume, in his own person.

'I write my book for _few men_, and for _few years_. Had it been
_matter of duration_, I should have put it into a _better language_.
According to the continual variation that ours has been subject to
hitherto [and we know who had a similar view on this point], who can
expect that the present _form of language_ should be in use fifty
years hence. It slips every day through our fingers; and since I was
born, is altered above one half. We say that it is now perfect: _every
age says the same of the language it speaks_. I shall hardly trust to
that so long as it runs away and _changes_ as it does.

''Tis for good and useful writings to nail and rivet it to them, and
its reputation will go _according to the fortune of our state. For
which reason, I am not afraid to insert herein several private
articles, which will spend their use amongst the men now living_, AND
INTO THEM THAN THE COMMON READER.' But that the inner reading of these
private articles--that reading which lay farther in--to which he
invites the attention of those whom it concerns--was not expected to
spend its use among the men then living, that which follows might seem
to imply. It was that wrapping of them, it was that gross
superscription which 'the fortune of our state was likely to make
obsolete ere long,' this author thought, as we shall see if we look
into his prophecies a little. 'I will not, after all, as I often hear
dead men spoken of, that men should say of _me_: "He _judged_, and
LIVED SO and SO. Could he have spoken when he was dying, he would have
said _so_ or _so_. I knew him better than any."

'So _our_ virtues
Lie in the interpretation of the times,'

'says the unfortunate Tullus Aufidius, in the act of conducting a
Volscian army against the infant Roman state, bemoaning himself upon
the conditions of his historic whereabouts, and beseeching the
sympathy and favourable constructions of posterity--

So our virtues
Lie in the interpretation of the times;
And power unto itself most commendable
Hath not a tomb so evident as a hair
To extol what it hath done.

'The times,' says Lord Bacon, speaking in reference to books
particularly, though _he_ also recommends the same key for the reading
of lives, 'the times in many cases give _great light_ to true

'Now as much as decency permits,' continues the other, anticipating
_here_ that speech which he might be supposed to have been anxious to
make in defence of his posthumous reputation, could he have spoken
when he was dying, and forestalling that criticism which he
foresaw--that odious criticism of posterity on the discrepancy between
_his life_ and _his judgment_--'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 express I point out with my finger_.

'There was never greater circumspection and _military prudence_ than
sometimes is seen among US; can it be that men are afraid to lose
themselves by the way, _that they reserve themselves to the end of the

'There needs no more but to see a man promoted to dignity, though we
knew him but three days before a man of no mark, yet an image of
grandeur and ability insensibly steals into our opinion, and we
persuade ourselves that growing in reputation and attendants, he is
also increased in merit':--

_Hamlet_. Do the boys carry it away?

_Ros_. Ay, that they do, my lord. Hercules and his load too.

_Hamlet_. It is not very strange; for my uncle is king of Denmark,
and those that would make mouths at him while my father lived, give
twenty, forty, fifty, a hundred ducats a-piece for his picture in
little. 'Sblood, there is something _in this, more_ than
_natural_ [talking of the _super_natural], _if philosophy could
find it out_.

'But,' our prose philosopher, whose mind is running much on the same
subjects, continues 'if it happens so that he [this favourite of
fortune] falls again, and is mixed with the common crowd, every one
inquires with wonder into the _cause_ of his having been hoisted so
high. _Is it he_? say they: did he know no more than this _when he was
in_ PLACE?' ['change _places_ ... robes and furred gowns hide all.']
Do _princes_ satisfy _themselves_ with so little? _Truly we were in
good hands_! That which I myself adore in kings, is [note it] _the
crowd of the adorers_. All reverence and submission is due to them,
_except that of the understanding_; my _reason_ is not to bow and
bend, 'tis my _knees_' 'I will not do't' says another, who is in this
one's counsels,

I will not do't
Lest I surcease to honour mine own truth,
And by my body's action, teach my mind
A most inherent baseness. _Coriolanus_.

'Antisthenes one day entreated _the Athenians to give orders that
their asses might be employed in tilling the ground_,--to which it was
answered, "that _those animals were not destined to such a service_."
"That's all one," replied he; "it only sticks at your command; for the
most ignorant and incapable men you employ _in your commands of war_,
immediately become worthy enough _because_--YOU EMPLOY THEM."'

There mightst thou behold the great image of authority. A dog's obeyed
in office.--Lear.

For thou dost know, oh Damon dear,
This realm dismantled was
Of Jove himself; and now reigns here,
A very--very--_Peacock_.
Horatio. You might have rhymed. Hamlet.

'to which,' continues this political philosopher,--that is, to which
preceding anecdote--containing such unflattering intimations with
regard to the obstinacy of nature, in the limits she has set to the
practical abilities of those _animals_, not enlarging their natural
gifts out of respect to the Athenian selection (an anecdote which
supplies a rhyme to Hamlet's verse, and to many others from the same
source)--'_to which the custom of so many people_, who canonize the
KINGS they have chosen _out of their own body_, and are not content
only to honour, but adore them, _comes very near. Those of Mexico_
[for instance, it would not of course do to take any nearer home],
after the ceremonies of _their_ king's coronation are finished, _dare
no more look him in the face_; but, as if they _deified_ him by his
royalty, _among_ the oaths they make him take to _maintain their
religion and laws_, to be valiant, just and mild; he moreover
swears,--_to make the sun run his course in his wonted light,--to
drain the clouds at a fit season,--to confine rivers within their
channels,--and to cause all things necessary for his people to be
borne by the earth_.' '(They told me I was everything. But when the
rain came to wet me once, when the wind would not peace at my
bidding,' says Lear, 'there I found them, there I smelt them out.)'
This, in connection with the preceding anecdote, to which, in the
opinion of this author, it comes properly so very near, may be classed
of itself among the suggestive stories above referred to; but the
bearing of these quotations upon the particular question of style,
which must determine the selection here, is set forth in that which

It should be stated, however, that in a preceding paragraph, the
author has just very pointedly expressed it as his opinion, that men
who are supposed, by common consent, to be so far above the rest of
mankind in their single virtue and judgment, that they are permitted
to govern them at their discretion, should by no means undertake to
maintain that view, by exhibiting that supposed kingly and divine
faculty in the way of _speech_ or _argument_; thus putting themselves
on a level with their subjects, and by meeting them on their own
ground, with their own weapons, giving occasion for comparisons,
perhaps not altogether favourable to that theory of a superlative and
divine difference which the doctrine of a divine right to rule
naturally presupposes. 'For,' he says, 'neither is it enough for those
_who govern and command us, and have all the world in their hand_, to
have a common understanding, and to be able to do what the rest can'
[their faculty of judgment must match their position, for if it be
only a common one, the difference will make it despised]: 'they are
very much below us, if they be not _infinitely above us_. And,
therefore, _silence_ is to them not only a countenance of respect and
gravity, but very often of good profit and policy too; for, Megabysus
going to see _Apelles_ in his _painting_ room, stood a great while
without speaking a word, and at last began to talk of his paintings,
for which he received this rude reproof. '_Whilst thou wast silent_,
thou seemedst to be something great, by reason of thy chains and pomp;
_but now that we have heard thee speak_, there is not the meanest boy
in my shop that does not despise thee.' But after the author's
subsequent reference to 'those animals' that were to be made competent
by a vote of the Athenian people for the work of their superiors, to
which he adds the custom of people who canonize the kings they have
chosen out of their own body, which comes so near, he goes on
thus:--_I differ from this common fashion_, and am more apt to suspect
capacity when I see it accompanied with grandeur of fortune and
_public applause_. We are to consider of what advantage it is, _to
speak when one pleases, to choose the subject one will speak of_--[an
advantage not common with authors then]--TO INTERRUPT OR CHANGE OTHER
the opposition of others, by a nod, a smile, or silence, in the
presence of an assembly that trembles with reverence and respect. _A
man of a prodigious fortune_, coming to give his judgment upon some
slight dispute that was foolishly set on foot at his _table_, began in
these words:--'It can only be a liar or a fool that will say otherwise
than so and so.' '_Pursue this philosophical point with a dagger in
your hand_.'

Here is an author who does contrive to pursue his philosophical
points, however, dagger or no dagger, wherever they take him. By
putting himself into the trick of singularity, and affecting to be a
mere compound of eccentricities and oddities, neither knowing nor
caring what it is that he is writing about, and dashing at haphazard
into anything as the fit takes him,--'Let us e'en fly at anything,'
says Hamlet,--by assuming, in short, the disguise of the elder Brutus;
and, on account of a similar necessity, there is no saying what he
cannot be allowed to utter with impunity. Under such a cover it is,
that he inserts the passages already quoted, which have lain to this
hour without attracting the attention of critics, unpractised happily,
and unlearned also, in the subtleties which tyrannies--such
tyrannies--at least generate; and under this cover it is, that he can
venture now on those astounding political disquisitions, which he
connects with the complaint of the restrictions and embarrassments
which the presence of a man of prodigious fortune at the table
occasions, when an argument, trivial or otherwise, happens to be going
on there. Under this cover, he can venture to bring in here, in this
very connection, and to the very table, even of this man of prodigious
fortune, pages of the freest political discussion, containing already
the finest analysis of the existing political 'situation,' so full of
dark and lurid portent, to the eye of the scientific statesman, to
whom, even then, already under the most intolerable restrictions of
despotism, of the two extremes of social evil, that which appeared to
be the most terrible, and the most to be guarded against, in the
inevitable political changes then at hand, was--not the consolidation
but the dissolution of the state.

For already the horizon of that political oversight included, not the
eventualities of the English Revolutions only, but the darker
contingencies of those later political and social convulsions, from
whose soundless whirlpools, men spring with joy to the hardest
sharpest ledge of tyranny; or hail with joy and national thanksgiving
the straw that offers to land them on it. Already the scientific
statesman of the Elizabethan age could say, casting an eye over
Christendom as it stood then, 'That which most threatens us is, not an
_alteration_ in the entire and solid mass, but its _dissipation_ and

It is after pages of the freest philosophical discussion, that he
arrives at this conclusion--discussion, in which the historical
elements and powers are for the first time scientifically recognized
and treated throughout with the hand of the new master. For this is a
philosopher, who is able to receive into his philosophy the fact, that
out of the most depraved and vicious social materials, by the
inevitable operation of the universal natural laws, there will,
perhaps, result a social adhesion and predominance of powers--a social
'whole,' more capable of maintaining itself than any that Plato or
Aristotle, from the heights of their abstractions, could have invented
for them. He ridicules, indeed, those ideal politics of antiquity as
totally unfit for practical realisation, and admits that though the
question as to that which is absolutely the best form of government
might be of some value _in a new world_, the basis of all alterations
in existing governments should be the fact, that we take a world
already formed to certain customs, and do not beget it, as Pyrrha or
Cadmus did theirs, and by what means soever we may have the privilege
to rebuild and reform it anew, we can hardly _writhe it_ from its
wonted bent, but we shall _break all_. For the subtlest principles of
the philosophy of things are introduced into this discussion, and the
boldest applications of the Shakspere muse are repeated in it.

'That is the way to _lay all flat_,' cries the philosophic poet in the
Roman play, opposing on the part of the Conservatist, the violence of
an oppressed people, struggling for new forms of government, and
bringing out fully, along with their claims, the anti-revolutionary
side of the question. 'That which tempts me out on these journeys,'
continues this foreign philosopher, speaking in his usual ambiguous
terms of his rambling excursive habits and eccentricities of
proceedings, glancing also, perhaps, at his outlandish tastes--'that
which tempts me out on these journeys, is _unsuitableness to the
present manners of_ OUR STATE. _I_ could easily console myself with
this corruption in reference to the _public interest_, but not to _my
own: I_ am _in particular_ too much oppressed:--for, _in my
neighbourhood_ we are of late by _the long libertinage of our civil
wars grown old_ in so _riotous a form of state_, that in earnest _'tis
a wonder how it can subsist_. In fine, I see by our example, that the
society of men is maintained and held together _at what price soever;
in what condition soever they are placed they will close and stick
together_ [see the doctrine of things and their original powers in the
"Novum Organum"]--_moving and heaping up themselves, as uneven bodies,
that shuffled together without order, find of themselves means to
unite and settle_. King Philip mustered up a rabble of the most wicked
and incorrigible rascals he could pick out, and put them altogether in
a city which he had built for that purpose, which bore their name; I
believe that they, even from vices, erected a government among them,
and a commodious and just society.'

'Nothing presses so hard upon a state as innovation'; and let the
reader note here, how the principle which has predominated
historically in the English Revolution, the principle which the fine
Frankish, half Gallic genius, with all its fire and artistic faculty,
could not strike instinctively or empirically, in its political
experiments--it is well to note, how this distinctive element of the
_English_ Revolution--that revolution which is still in progress, with
its remedial vitalities--already speaks beforehand, from the lips of
this foreign Elizabethan Revolutionist. 'Nothing presses so hard upon
a state as innovation; change only gives form to injustice and
prevent and take care that the _decay and corruption_ NATURAL TO ALL
THINGS, do not carry us too far from _our beginnings and principles_;
but to undertake to found so great a mass anew, and to change the
foundations of so vast a building, is for them to do who to _make
clean, efface_, who would reform particular defects by a universal
confusion, and cure diseases by _death_.' Surely, one may read in good
Elizabethan English passages which savor somewhat of this policy. One
would say that the principle was in fact identical, as, for instance,
in this case. 'Sir Francis Bacon (who was always for moderate
counsels), when one was speaking of such a reformation of the Church
of England, as would in effect make it _no church_, said thus to
him:--'Sir, the subject we talk of is the _eye_ of England, and if
there be a speck or two in the eye, we endeavour to take them off; but
he were a strange oculist who would pull out the eye.' [And here is
another writer who seems to be taking, on this point and others, very
much the same view of the constitution and vitality of states, about
these times:--

He's a disease that must be cut away.
Oh, he's a limb that has but a disease;
Mortal to cut it off; to cure it, easy.]

But our Gascon philosopher goes on thus, with his Gascon inspirations:
and these sportive notions, struck off at a heat, these careless
intuitions, these fine new practical axioms of scientific politics,
appear to be every whit as good as if they had been sifted through the
scientific tables of the Novum Organum. They are, in fact, the
identical truth which the last vintage of the Novum Organum yields on
this point. 'The world is unapt for curing itself; _it is so impatient
of any thing that presses it_, that it thinks of nothing but
_disengaging itself_, at what price soever. We see, by a thousand
examples, that it generally cures itself to its cost. The _discharge
of a present evil is no cure, if a general amendment of condition does
not follow_; the surgeon's end is _not only to cut away the dead
flesh_,--that is but the progress of his cure;--he has a care over and
above, _to fill up the wound with better and more natural flesh_, and
_to restore the member to its due state_. Whoever only proposes to
himself to remove that which offends _him_, falls short; _for good_
does not necessarily succeed evil; another evil may succeed, _and a
worse, as it happened in Caesar's killers_, who brought the republic
to _such a pass, that they had reason to repent their meddling with
it_.' 'I fear there will _a worse_ one come in his place,' says a
fellow in Shakespear's crowd, at the first Caesar's funeral; and that
his speech made the moral of the piece, we shall see in the course of
this study.

But though the frantic absolutisms and irregularities of that 'old
riotous form of military government,' which the long civil wars had
generated, seemed of themselves to threaten speedy dissolution, this
old Gascon prophet, with his inexhaustible fund of English shrewdness,
and sound English sense, underlying all his Gasconading, by no means
considers the state as past the statesman's care: 'after all, _we are
not, perhaps, at the last gasp_,' he says. 'The conservation of states
_is a thing that in all likelihood surpasses our understanding_: a
civil government is, as Plato says, "a mighty and powerful thing, and
hard to be dissolved." "States, as great engines, move slowly," says
Lord Bacon; "and are not so soon put out of frame";--that is, so soon
as "the resolution of particular persons," which is his reason for
producing his moral philosophy, or rather his moral _science_, as
_his_ engine for attack upon the state, a science which concerns the
government of every man over himself; "for, as in Egypt, the seven
good years sustained the seven bad; so governments, for a time
well-grounded, do bear out errors following."' But this is the way
that this Gascon philosopher records _his_ conclusions on the same
subject. 'Every thing that totters does not fall. The contexture of so
great a body holds by more nails than one. _It holds even by its
antiquity_, like old buildings from which the foundations are worn
away by time, without rough cast or cement, which yet live or support
themselves by their own weight. Moreover, it is not rightly to go to
work to reconnoitre only the flank and the fosse, to judge of the
security of a place; it must be examined _which way approaches_ can be
question. '_Few vessels sink with their own weight_, and without some
exterior violence. Let us every way cast our eyes. Every thing about
us totters. In all the great states, both of Christendom and
elsewhere, that are known to us, if you will but look, you will there
see evident threats of alteration and ruin. Astrologers need not go to
heaven to foretell, as they do, GREAT REVOLUTIONS' [this is the speech
of the Elizabethan age--'great revolutions'] 'and _imminent
mutations_.' [This is the new kind of learning and prophecy; there was
but one source of it open then, that could yield axioms of this kind;
for this is the kind that Lord Bacon tells us the head-spring of
sciences must be visited for.] 'But _conformity is a quality
antagonist to_ DISSOLUTION. For my part, I despair not, and _fancy I
perceive ways to save us_.'

And _surely_ this is one of the inserted private articles, before
mentioned, which may, or may not be, 'designed to spend their use
among the men now living'; but 'which concern the particular knowledge
of some who will see further into them than the common reader.' If
there had been a 'London Times' going then, and this old outlandish
Gascon Antic had been an English statesman preparing this article as a
leader for it, the question of the Times could hardly have been more
roundly dealt with, or with a clearer northern accent.

But it is high time for him to bethink himself, and 'draw his old
cloak about him'; for, after all, this so just and profound a view of
so grave a subject, proceeds from one who has no aims, no plan, no
learning, no memory;--a vain, fantastic egotist, who writes only
because he will be talking, and talking of himself above all; who is
not ashamed to attribute to himself all sorts of mad inconsistent
humours, and to contradict himself on every page, if thereby he can
only win your eye, or startle your curiosity, and induce you to follow
him. After so long and grave a discussion, suddenly it occurs to him
that it is time for a little miscellaneous confidential chat about
himself, and those certain oddities of his which he does not wish you
to lose sight of altogether; and it is time, too, for another of those
_stories_, which serve to divert the attention when it threatens to
become too fixed, and break up and enliven the dull passages, besides
having that other purpose which he speaks of so frankly. And although
this whole discussion is not without a direct bearing upon that
particular topic, with which it is here connected, inasmuch as the
political situation, which is so clearly exhibited, is precisely that
of the Elizabethan scholar, it is chiefly this little piece of
confidential chat with which it closes, and _its significance in that
connection_, which gives the rest its insertion here.

For suddenly he recollects himself, and stops short to express the
fear that he may have written _something similar to this elsewhere_;
and he gives you to understand--not all at once--but by a series of
strokes, that too bold a repetition _here_, of what he has said
_elsewhere_ might be attended, to him, with serious consequences; and
he begs you to note, as he does in twenty other passages and stories
here and elsewhere, that his _style_ is all hampered with
considerations such as these--that instead of merely thinking of
making a good book, and presenting his subjects in their clearest and
most effective form for the reader;--a thing in itself sufficiently
laborious, as other authors find to their cost, he is all the time
compelled to weigh his words with reference to such points as this. He
must be perpetually on his guard that the identity of that which he
presents here, and that which he presents elsewhere, under other and
very different forms (in much graver forms perhaps, and perhaps in
others not so grave), shall no where become so glaring as to attract
popular attention, while he is willing and anxious to keep that
identity or connection constantly present to the apprehension of the
few, for whom he tells us his book--that is, this book within the
book--is written.

'I fear in these _reveries_ of mine,' he continues, suspending at last
suddenly this bold and continuous application to the immediate
political emergency of those philosophical principles which he has
exhibited in the abstract, in their _common_ and _universal form_,
elsewhere; 'I fear, in these reveries of the _treachery of my memory_,
lest by inadvertence it should make me write the same thing twice. Now
I here set down _nothing new_, these are _common_ thoughts, and
having per-adventure conceived them a hundred times, _I am afraid_ I
_have set them down somewhere else already_. Repetition is everywhere
troublesome, though it were in Homer, _but 'tis ruinous in things that
have only a superficial and transitory_ SHOW. I do not love
inculcation, even in the most profitable things, as in Seneca, and the
practice of his Stoical school displeases me of _repeating upon every
IN GENERAL, and _always_ to re-allege anew;' that is, under the
particular divisions of the subject, _common and universal reasons_.
'What I cannot express I point out with my finger,' he tells you
elsewhere, but it is thus that he continues here.

'My memory grows worse and worse every day. I must _fain for the time
to come_ (collateral sounds), for _hitherto, thank God, nothing has
happened much amiss_, to avoid all preparation, for fear of tying
myself to some obligation upon which I must be forced to insist. To
_be tied and bound to a thing_ puts _me_ quite out, and especially
where I have to depend upon so weak an instrument as my memory. I
never could read this story without being offended at it, with as it
were _a personal_ and natural resentment.' The reader will note that
the question here is of _style_, or method, and of this author's style
in particular, and of his special embarrassments.

'Lyncestes _accused of conspiracy against Alexander_, the day that he
was brought out before the army, according to the custom, to be heard
in his defence, had prepared a _studied speech_, of which, _haggling
and stammering_, he pronounced _some words_. As he was becoming more
perplexed and struggling with his memory, and _trying to recollect
himself_, the soldiers that stood _nearest_ killed him with their
spears, looking upon his confusion and silence as a confession of his
guilt: very fine, indeed! The place, the spectators, the expectation,
would astound a man _even though were there no object in his mind but
to speak well_; but WHAT _when 'tis an harangue upon which his life
depends_?' You that happen to be of my ear, it is my style that we are
speaking of, and there is my story.

'_For my part the very being tied to what I am to say, is enough to
loose me from it_'--that is the cause of his wandering--'_The more I
trust to my memory_, the more do I put myself out of my own power, so
_much as to find it in my own countenance_, and have _sometimes been
very much put to it to conceal the slavery wherein I was bound_,
whereas _my design is_ to manifest in speaking a _perfect
nonchalance_, both of face and accent, and _casual and unpremeditated
motions_, as rising from present occasions, _choosing rather to say
nothing to purpose, than to show that_ I came _prepared to speak
well_; a thing especially unbecoming _a man of my profession_. The
preparation begets a great deal more expectation than it will satisfy;
a man very often absurdly strips himself to his doublet to leap no
further _than he would have done in his gown_.' [Perhaps the
reflecting scholar will recollect to have seen an instance of this
magnificent preparation for saying something to the purpose, attended
with similarly lame conclusions; but, if he does not, the story which
follows may tend to refresh his memory on this point.] 'It is recorded
of the orator Curio, that _when he proposed the division of his
oration_ into three or four parts, it often happened either that he
forgot some one, or added one or two more.' A much more illustrious
speaker, who spoke under circumstances not very unlike those in which
the poor conspirator above noted made his haggling and fatal attempts
at oratory, is known to have been guilty of a similar oversight; for,
having invented a plan of universal science, designed for the relief
of the human estate, he forgot the principal application of it. But
this author says, _I_ have always avoided falling into this
inconvenience, having always hated these promises and announcements,
not only out of distrust of my memory, but also because this method
relishes too much of the _artificial_. You will find no scientific
plan _here_ ostentatiously exhibited; you will find such a plan
elsewhere with all the works set down in it, but the works themselves
will be missing; and you will find the works elsewhere, but it will be
under the cover of a superficial and transitory show, where it would
be ruinous to produce the plan, '_I_ have always _avoided_ falling
into this inconvenience. _Simpliciora militares decent_.' But as he
appears, after all, to have had no military weapon with which to
sustain that straight-forwardness of speech which is becoming in a
military power, and no dagger to pursue his points with, some
artifice, though he professes not to like it, may be necessary, and
the rule which he here specifies is, on the whole, perhaps, not
altogether amiss. ''Tis enough that I have promised to myself never to
take upon me to speak in a place where I owe respect; for as to that
sort of speaking where a man _reads_ his speech, besides that it is
very absurd, it is a mighty disadvantage to those who _naturally could
give it a grace by action_, and to rely upon the mercy of the
readiness of my invention, I will much less do it; 'tis heavy and
perplexed, and such as would never furnish me in sudden and important

'Speaking,' he says in another place, 'hurts and discomposes me,--my
_voice_ is loud and high, so that when I have gone to whisper some
great person about an affair of _consequence, they have often had to
moderate my voice. This story deserves a place here_.

'Some one in a certain Greek school was speaking loud as _I do_. The
master of the ceremonies sent to him to speak _lower_. "Tell him then,
he must send me," replied the other, "the tone he would have me speak
in." To which the other replied, "that he should take the tone from
the ear of him to whom he spake." It was well said, if it be
understood. Speak _according to the affair_ you are speaking about to
the auditor,--(speak according to the business you have in hand, to
the purpose you have to accomplish)--for if it mean, it is sufficient
that he _hears_ you, I do not find it reason.' It is a more artistic
use of speech that he is proposing in his new science of it, for as
Lord Bacon has it, who writes as we shall see on this same subject,
'the _proofs_ and _persuasions_ of _rhetoric_ ought to differ
according to the auditors,' and the Arts of Rhetoric have for their
legitimate end, 'not merely PROOF, but _much more_, IMPRESSION.' 'For
many forms are _equal in signification_ which are _differing in
impression_, as the difference is great in the piercing of that which
is _sharp_, and that which is _flat_, though the _strength_ of the
percussion be the same; for instance, there is no man but will be a
little more raised, by hearing it said, "Your enemies will be glad of
this," than by hearing it said only, "This is evil for you."' But it
is thus that our Gascon proceeds, whose comment on his Greek story we
have interrupted. 'There is a voice to _flatter_, there is a voice to
_instruct_, and a voice to _reprehend_. _I_ would not only have my
voice to reach my hearer, but peradventure _that it strike_ and
_pierce_ him. When I rate my footman in a sharp and bitter tone, it
would be very fine for him to say, "Pray master, speak lower, for I
hear you very well." _Speaking_ is _half his that speaks_, and _half
his that hears_; the last ought to prepare himself to receive it,
according to its motion, as with tennis players; he that receives the
ball, shifts, draws back, and prepares himself to receive it,
according as he sees him move, who strikes the stroke, and according
to the stroke itself.' It is not, therefore, because this author has
failed to furnish the rules of interpretation necessary for
penetrating to the ultimate intention of this new kind of speaking, if
all this affectation of simplicity, and all these absurd contradictory
statements of his, have been suffered hitherto to pass unchallenged.
It is the public mind he has to deal with. 'That which he adores in
kings is the _throng_ of _their adorers_.' If he should take the
public at once into his confidence, and tell them beforehand precisely
what his own opinions were of things in general, if he should set
before them in the outset the conclusions to which he proposed to
drive them, he might indeed stand some chance to have his arguments
interrupted, or changed with a magisterial authority; he would indeed
find it necessary to pursue his philosophical points with a dagger in
his hand.

And besides, this dogmatical mode of teaching does not appear to him
to secure the ends of teaching. He wishes to rouse the human mind to
activity, to compel it to think for itself, and put it on the
inevitable road to his conclusions. He wishes the reader to strike out
those conclusions for himself, and fancy himself the discoverer if he
will. So far from being simple and straightforward, his style is in
the profoundest degree artistic, for the soul of all our modern art
inspired it. He thinks it does no good for scholars to call out to the
active world from the platform of their last conclusions. The truths
which men receive from those didactic heights remain foreign to them.
'We want medicines to arouse the sense,' says Lord Bacon, who proposed
exactly the method of teaching which this philosopher had, as it would
seem, already adopted. 'I bring a trumpet to awake his _ear_, to set
his _sense_ on the attentive bent, and _then_ to speak,' says that
poet who best put this art in practice.

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

And thus, by describing human nature under that term, or by repeating
and stating the common opinions as his own, he is enabled to create an
opposition which could not exist, so long as they remain unconsciously
operative, or infolded in the separate individuality, as a part of its
own particular form.

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

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

'If I converse with a man of mind, and no flincher, who presses hard
upon me, right and left, his imagination raises up mine. The
contradictions of judgments do neither offend nor alter, they only
rouse and exercise me. I could suffer myself to be rudely handled by
my friends. "Thou art a fool; thou knowest not what thou art talking
about." When any one contradicts me, he raises my attention, not my
anger. I advance towards him that contradicts, as to one that
instructs me. _I embrace and caress truth, in what hand soever I find
it, and cheerfully surrender myself, and extend to it my conquered
arms_; and take a pleasure in being reproved, and _accommodate myself
to my accusers_ [aside] (very often more by reason of _civility_ than
amendment); loving to gratify the liberty of admonition, by my
facility of submitting to it, at my own expense. Nevertheless, it is
hard to bring the men of my time to it. They have not the courage _to
correct_, because they have not the courage _to be corrected, and
speak always with dissimulation in the presence of one another_. I
take so great pleasure in being judged and known, that it is almost
indifferent to me in which of THE TWO FORMS I am so. My imagination
does so often contradict and condemn itself, that _it is all one to me
if another do it_. The study of books is a languishing, feeble motion,
that heats not, whereas conversation _teaches_ and _exercises_ at
once.' But what if a book could be constructed on a new principle, so
as to produce the effect of _conference_--of the noblest kind of
conference--so as to rouse the stupid, lethargic mind to a truly
_human_ activity--so as to bring out the common, human form, in all
its latent actuality, from the eccentricities of the individual
varieties? Something of that kind appears to be attempted here.

He cannot too often charge the attentive reader, however, that his
arguments require examination. 'In _conferences_,' he says, 'it is a
rule that every word that _seems_ to be good, is not immediately to be
accepted. One must try it on all points, to see _how it is lodged in
the author_: [perhaps he is not in earnest] _for_ one must not always
_presently yield_ what truth or beauty soever seem to be in the
argument.' A little delay, and opposition, the necessity of hunting,
or fighting, for it, will only make it the more esteemed in the end.
In such a style, 'either the author must stoutly oppose it [that is,
whatsoever beauty or truth is to be the end of the argument in order
to challenge the reader] or draw back, under colour of not
understanding it, [and so piquing the reader into a pursuit of it] or,
sometimes, perhaps, he may aid the point, and carry it _beyond_ its
proper reach [and so forcing the reader to correct him. This whole
work is constructed on this principle]. As when I contend with a
vigorous man, I please myself with anticipating his conclusions; I
ease him of the trouble of explaining himself; I strive to prevent his
imagination, whilst it is yet springing and imperfect; the order and
pertinency of his understanding warns and threatens me afar off. But
as to _these_,--and the sequel explains this relative, for it has no
antecedent in the text--as to these, I deal quite contrary with them.
I _must understand and presuppose nothing but by them_.... Now, if you
come to explain anything to them and confirm them (these readers),
they presently catch at it, and rob you of the advantage of your
interpretation. "It was what I was about to say; it was just _my_
thought, _and if I did not express it so_, it was only for want of
_language_." Very pretty! Malice itself must be employed to correct
this _proud ignorance_--'tis injustice and inhumanity to relieve and
set him right who stands in no need of it, and is the worse for it. _I
love_ to let him step deeper into the mire,'--[luring him on with his
own confessions, and with my assumptions of his case] '_and so deep
that if it be_ possible, they may at least discern their error. FOLLY
answered him who importuned him to harangue his army upon the point of
battle, "that men do not become valiant and warlike on a sudden, _by a
fine oration_, no more than a man becomes a good musician by hearing a
fine song," may properly be said of such an admonition as this;' or,
as Lord Bacon has it, 'It were a strange speech, which spoken, or
_spoken oft_, should reclaim a man from a vice to which he is _by
nature_ subject; it is _order, pursuit, sequence_, and _interchange of
application_, which is mighty in nature.' But the other
continues:--'These are apprenticeships that are to be served
beforehand by a long continued education. We owe this care and this
assiduity of correction and instruction to _our own_, [that is the
school,] but to go to preach to the first passer-by, and to lord it
over the ignorance and folly of the first we meet, is a thing that I
abhor. I rarely do it, even in _my own particular conferences_, and
rather surrender my cause, than proceed to these _supercilious_ and
_magisterial_ instructions.' The clue to the reading of his inner
book. This is what Lord Bacon also condemns, as the _magisterial_
method,--'My _humour_ is unfit, either to speak or write for
_beginners_;' he will not shock or bewilder them by forcing on them
prematurely the last conclusions of science; '_but_ as to things that
are said in _common discourse_ or _amongst other things_, I never
oppose them either by word or sign, how false or absurd soever.'

'Let none _even doubt_,' says the author of the Novum Organum, who
thought it wisest to steer clear _even_ of _doubt_ on such a point,
'whether we are anxious to destroy and demolish _the philosophical
arts and sciences which are now in use_. On the contrary, we readily
cherish their practice, cultivation, and honour; for we by no means
interfere to prevent _the prevalent system_ from encouraging
discussion, adorning discourses, or being employed _serviceably_ in
the chair of the Professor, or the practice of common life, and being
taken in short, by general consent, _as current coin_. Nay, we plainly
declare that the system we offer will not be very _suitable_ for such
purposes, not being easily adapted to _vulgar apprehension, except_ by
EFFECTS AND WORKS. To show our _sincerity_ [hear] in professing our
regard and friendly disposition towards _the received sciences_, we
can refer to the evidence of our published writings, _especially_ our
books on--the Advancement--[the _Advancement_] of Learning.' And the
reader who can afford time for 'a second cogitation,' the second
cogitation which a superficial _and_ interior meaning, of course,
requires, with the aid of the key of times, will find much light on
that point, here and there, in the works referred to, and especially
in those parts of them in which the scientific use of popular terms is
treated. 'We will not, therefore,' he continues, 'endeavour to evince
it (our sincerity) any further by _words_, but content ourselves with
steadily, etc., ... professedly premising that no great _progress_ can
be made by the present methods in the _theory_ and contemplation of
science, _and_ that they can _not_ be made to produce _any very
abundant effects_.' This is the proof of his sincerity in professing
his regard and friendly disposition towards them, to be taken in
connection with his works on the Advancement of Learning, and no doubt
it was sincere, and just to that extent to which these statements, and
the practice which was connected with them, would seem to indicate;
but the careful reader will perceive that it was a regard, and
friendliness of disposition, which was naturally qualified by that
doubly significant fact last quoted.

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

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



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

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

It is a Socratic dialogue, indeed; but it waits for the reader's eye
to open it; he is himself the principal interlocutor in it; there can
be nothing done till he comes in. Whatsoever beauty or truth maybe in
the argument; whatsoever jokes and repartees; whatsoever infinite
audacities of mirth may be hidden under that grave cover, are not
going to shine out for any lazy book-worm's pleasure. He that will not
work, neither shall he eat of this food. 'Up to the _mountains_,' for
_this is hunter's language_, 'and he that strikes the venison first
shall be lord of this feast.' It is an invention whereby the author
will remedy for himself the complaint, that life is short, and art is
long; whereby he will 'outstretch his span,' and make over, not his
learning only but his _living_ to the future;--it is an
instrumentality by which he will still maintain living relations with
the minds of men, by which he will put himself into the most intimate
relations of sympathy, and confidence, and friendship, with the mind
of the few; by which he will reproduce his purposes and his faculties
in them, and train them to take up in their turn that thread of
knowledges which is to be spun on.

But if this design be buried so deeply, is it not _lost_ then? If all
the absurd and contradictory developments--if all the mad
inconsistencies--all the many-sided contradictory views, which are
possible to human nature on all the questions of human life, which
this single personal pronoun was made to represent, in the profoundly
philosophic design of the author, are still culled out by learned
critics, and made to serve as the material of a grave, though it is
lamented, somewhat egotistical biography, is not all this ingenuity,
which has successfully evaded thus far not the careless reader only,
but the scrutiny of the scholar, and the sharp eye of the reviewer
himself, is it not an ingenuity which serves after all to little
purpose, which indeed defeats its own design? No, by no means. That
disguise which was at first a necessity, has become the instrument of
his power. It is that broad _I_ of his, that _I myself_, with which he
still takes all the world; it is that single, many-sided, vivacious,
historical impersonation, that ideal impersonation of the individual
human nature as it is--not as it should be--with all its 'weaved-up
follies ravelled out,' with all its before unconfessed actualities,
its infinite absurdities and contradictions, so boldly pronounced and
assumed by one laying claim to an historical existence, it is this
historical assumption and pronunciation of all the before unspoken,
unspeakable facts of this unexplored department of natural history, it
is this apparent confession with which this magician entangles his
victims, as he tells us in a passage already quoted, and leads them on
through that objective representation of their follies in which they
may learn to hate them, to that globe mirror--that mirror of the age
which he boasts to have hung up here, when he says, 'I have done what
I designed: all the world knows _me in my book_, and my book in _me_.'

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

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

But, if the fact that a new and more vivid kind of writing, issuing
from the heart of the new philosophy of _things_, designed to work new
and extraordinary effects by means of literary instrumentalities,--
effects hitherto reserved for other modes of impression,--if the
fact, that a new and infinitely artistic mode of writing, burying
the secrets of philosophy in the most careless forms of the vulgar
and popular discourse, did, in this instance at least, exist; if
this be proved, it will suffice for our present purpose. What else
remains to be established concerning points incidentally started
here, will be found more pertinent to another stage of this enquiry.

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

'But whatever I deliver myself to be, provided it be such as I really
am, I have my end; neither will I make any excuse for committing to
paper such mean and frivolous things as these; the meanness of the
_subject_ compels me to it.'--'_Human reason is a two-edged_ and a
_dangerous sword_. Observe, in the hand of _Socrates_, her most
intimate and familiar friend, _how many points it has. Thus_, I am
good for nothing but to follow, and suffer myself to be easily carried
away with the crowd.'--'I have this opinion of _these political
controversies_: Be on what side you will, you have as fair a game to
play as your adversary, provided you do not proceed so far as to
jostle _principles that are too manifest to be disputed; and yet,
'tis_ my _notion, in public affairs_ [hear], _there is no government_
so ill, _provided it be ancient_, and has been _constant_, that is not
better than change and alteration. Our manners are infinitely
corrupted, and wonderfully incline to grow worse: of our laws and
customs, _there are many that are barbarous and monstrous:
nevertheless_, by reason of the difficulty of reformation, and the
danger of stirring things, _if I could put something under to stay the
wheel_, and keep it where it is, _I would do so with all my heart_. It
is very easy to beget in a people a contempt of its ancient
observances; _never any man undertook, but he succeeded; but to
establish a better regimen in the stead of that a man has overthrown,
many who have attempted this have foundered in the attempt_. I very
little consult _my prudence_ [philosophic 'prudence'] in my conduct. I
am willing to let it be guided by _public rule_.

'In fine, to return to myself, the only things by which _I_ esteem
_myself_ to be something, is _that wherein never any man_ thought
himself to be defective. _My recommendation is vulgar and common_; for
whoever thought _he_ wanted sense. It would be a _proposition that
would imply a contradiction in itself_; [in such subtleties thickly
studding this popular work, the clues which link it with other works
of this kind are found--the clues to a new _practical human
philosophy_.] 'Tis a disease that never is where it is discerned; 'tis
tenacious and strong; _but the first ray of the patient's sight_ does
nevertheless pierce it through and disperse it, as the beams of the
sun do a thick mist: to _accuse one's self_, would be to _excuse one's
self_ in this case; and to _condemn_, to _absolve_. There never was
porter, or silly girl, that did not think they had sense enough for
their need. The reasons that proceed from the natural arguing of
others, we think that if we had turned our thoughts that way, we
should ourselves have found it out as well as they. _Knowledge,
style_, and such parts as we see in other works, we are readily aware
if they excel our own; but for the simple products of the
_understanding_, every one thinks he could have found out the like,
and is hardly sensible of the weight and difficulty, unless--and then
with much ado--in an extreme and incomparable distance; _and whoever
should be able clearly to discern_ the height of another's judgment,
would be also able _to raise his own to the same pitch_; so that this
is a sort of exercise, from which a man is to expect very little
praise, a kind of composition of small repute. _And, besides, for whom
do you write_?'--for he is merely meeting this common sense. His
object is merely to make his reader confess, 'That was just what I was
about to say, it was just my thought; and if I did not express it so,
it was only for want of language;'--'for whom do you write? _The
learned_, to whom the authority appertains of judging books, know no
other value but that of learning, and allow of no other process of wit
but that of erudition and art. If you have mistaken one of the Scipios
for another, what is all the rest you have to say worth? Whoever is
ignorant of Aristotle, according to their rule, is in some sort
ignorant of himself. _Heavy and vulgar souls_ cannot discern the grace
of a high and unfettered style. Now these two sorts of men make the
_world_. The _third sort_, into whose hands you fall, of souls that
are regular, and strong of themselves, is so rare, that it _justly_
has neither _name nor place amongst us_, and it is pretty well time
lost to aspire to it, or to endeavour to please it.' He will not
content himself with pleasing the few. He wishes to _move_ the world,
and its approbation is a secondary question with him.

'He that should record _my_ idle talk, to the prejudice of the most
paltry law, opinion, or custom of his parish, would do himself a great
deal of wrong, and me too; for, in what I say, I warrant no other
certainty, but 'tis what I _had then in my thought, a thought
tumultuous and wavering_. ["I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet,"
says the offended king. "These words are not mine." _Hamlet_: "Nor
mine _now_."] All I say is by way of discourse. _I should not speak so
boldly, if it were my due to be believed, and so I told a great man,
who complained to me of the tartness and contention of my advice_.'
And, indeed, he would not, in this instance, that is very
certain;--for he has been speaking on the subject of RELIGIOUS
TOLERATION, and among other remarks, somewhat too far in advance of
his time, he has let fall, by chance, such passages as these, which,
of course, he stands ready to recall again in case any one is
offended. ('These words are not mine, Hamlet.' 'Nor mine now.') 'To
_kill men_, a clear and shining light is required, and our life is too
real and essential, to warrant these supernatural and fantastic
accidents.' 'After all 'tis setting a _man's conjectures_ at a very
high price to _cause a man to be roasted alive upon them_.' He does
not look up at all, after making this accidental remark; for he is too
much occupied with a very curious story, which happens to come into
his head at that moment, of certain men, who being more profoundly
asleep than _men usually are_, became, according to certain grave
authorities, what in their dreams they fancied they were; and having
mentioned one case sufficiently ludicrous to remove any unpleasant
sensation or inquiry which his preceding allusion might have
occasioned, he resumes, 'If _dreams can sometimes so incorporate
themselves with effects of life_, I cannot believe that therefore our
will should be accountable to justice. _Which I say, as a man_, who am
neither _judge nor privy counsellor_, nor think myself, by many
degrees, worthy so to be, but a _man of the common sort_, born and
vowed to the obedience of the public realm, both in _words_ and

'_Thought_ is free;--_thought_ is free.'

'Perceiving _you to be ready and prepared on one part_, I propose to
you on the other, with all the care I can, to _clear_ your judgment,
not to enforce it. Truly, _I_ have not only a great many humours, but
_also a great many opinions_ [which I bring forward here, and assume
as mine] that I would _endeavour_ to make _my son dislike_, if I had
one. The _truest_, are not always the most commodious to man; he is of
too _wild_ a composition. "We speak of all things by precept and
resolution," he continues, returning again to this covert question of
toleration, and Lord Bacon complains also that that is the method in
his meridian. They make me hate things that are _likely_, when they
impose them on me for _infallible_. "Wonder is the foundation of all
philosophy"--(or, as Lord Bacon expresses it, "wonder is the seed of
knowledge")--enquiry the progress--ignorance the end. Ay, but there is
a sort of ignorance, _strong and generous_, that yields nothing _in
honour and courage to knowledge_, a knowledge, which to conceive,
requires _no less knowledge_ than knowledge itself.'

'I saw, in my younger days, a report of a process that Corras, a
counsellor of Thoulouse, put in print.'--[The vain, egotistical,
incoherent, rambling old Frenchman, the old Roman Catholic French
gentleman, who is understood to be the author of this new experiment
in letters, was not far from being a middle-aged man, when the
pamphlet which he here alludes to was first published; but his
chronology, generally, does not bear a very close examination. Some
very extraordinary anachronisms, which the critics are totally at a
loss to account for, have somehow slipped into his story. There _was_
a young philosopher in France in those days, of a most precocious, and
subtle, and inventive genius--of a most singularly artistic genius,
combining speculation and practice, as they had never been combined
before, and already busying himself with all sorts of things, and
among other things, with curious researches in regard to ciphers, and
other questions not less interesting at that time;--there was a youth
in France, whose family name was also English, living there with his
eyes wide open, a youth who had found occasion to _invent_ a cipher of
his own even then, into whose hands that publication might well have
fallen on its first appearance, and one on whose mind it might very
naturally have made the impression here recorded. But let us return to
the story.]--'I saw in my younger days, a report of a process, that
Corras, a counsellor of Thoulouse, put in print, of a strange accident
of _two men, who presented themselves the one for the other_. I
remember, and I hardly remember anything else, that he seemed to have
rendered _the imposture of him whom he judged to be guilty, so
wonderful, and so far exceeding both our knowledge and his who was the
judge, that I thought it a very bold sentence that condemned him to be
hanged_. [That is the point.] _Let us take up_ SOME FORM of ARREST,
that shall say, THE COURT _understands nothing of the matter_, more
freely and ingenuously than the Areopagites did, _who ordered the
parties to appear again in a hundred years_.' We must not forget that
these stories 'are not regarded by the author merely for the use he
makes of them,--that they carry, besides what he applies them to, the
seeds of a richer and bolder matter, and sometimes collaterally a
_more delicate sound_, both to the author himself who declines saying
anything more about it _in that place_, and to others who shall happen
to be of his ear!' One already prepared by previous discovery of the
method of communication here indicated, and by voluminous readings in
it, to understand that appeal, begs leave to direct the attention of
the critical reader to the delicate collateral sounds in the story
last quoted.

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

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

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

'But this exceeds all meanness of spirit in _persons of such quality
as they were_, to think to derive any glory from babbling and prating,
_even to the making use of their private letters to their friends, and
so withal that_ though some of them _were never sent, the opportunity
being lost_, they nevertheless published them; with this worthy
excuse, that they were unwilling to lose their labour, and have their
lucubrations thrown away.'--Was it not well becoming two consuls of
Rome, _sovereign magistrates of the republic, that_ commanded the
world, to spend their time in patching up elegant missives, in order
to gain the reputation of being well versed _in their own mother
tongue_? What could a pitiful schoolmaster have done worse, who got
his living by it? If the _acts_ of Xenophon and Caesar had not far
transcended their eloquence, I don't believe they would ever have
taken the pains to _write_ them. They made it their business to
recommend not their _saying_, but their _doing_. The companions of
Demosthenes in the embassy to Philip, extolling that prince as
handsome, eloquent, and a stout drinker, Demosthenes said that those
were commendations more proper for a woman, an advocate, or a sponge.
'Tis not _his profession_ to know either how to hunt, or to dance

Orabunt causas alii, coelique meatus
Describent radio, et fulgentia sidera dicent,
Hic regere imperio populos sciat.

Plutarch says, moreover, that to appear so excellent in these less
necessary qualities, is to produce witness against a man's self, that
he has spent his time and study ill, which ought to have been employed
in the acquisition of more necessary and more useful things. Thus
Philip, King of Macedon, having heard _the great Alexander_, his son,
_sing at a feast_ to the _wonder and envy of the best musicians_
there. 'Art thou not ashamed,' he said to him, 'to _sing so well_?'
And to the same Philip, a musician with whom he was disputing about
something concerning his art, said, '_Heaven forbid, sir, that so
great a misfortune should ever befall you as to understand these
things better than I_.' Perhaps this author might have made a similar
reply, had _his_ been subjected to a similar criticism. And Lord Bacon
quotes this story too, as he does many others, which this author has
_first selected_, and for the same purpose; for, not content with
appropriating his philosophy, and pretending to invent his design and
his method, he borrows all his most significant stories from him, and
brings them in to illustrate the same points, and the points are
borrowed also: he makes use, indeed, of his common-place book
throughout in the most shameless and unconscionable manner. 'Rack his
style, Madam, _rack his style_?' he said to Queen Elizabeth, as he
tells us, when she consulted him--he being then of her counsel
learned, in the case of Dr. Hayward, charged with having written 'the
book of the deposing of Richard the Second, and the _coming in_ of
Henry the Fourth,' and sent to the Tower for that offence. The queen
was eager for a different kind of advice. Racking an author's book did
not appear to her coarse sensibilities, perfectly unconscious of the
delicacy of an author's susceptibilities, a process in itself
sufficiently murderous to satisfy her revenge. There must be some
flesh and blood in the business before ever she could understand it.
She wanted to have 'the question' put to that gentleman as to his
meaning in the obscure passages in that work under the most impressive
circumstances; and Mr. Bacon, _himself_ an author, being of her
counsel learned, was requested to make out a case of treason for her;
and wishes from such a source were understood to be commands in those
days. Now it happened that one of the managers and actors at the Globe
Theatre, who was at that time sustaining, as it would seem, the most
extraordinary relations of intimacy and friendship with the friends
and patrons of this same person, then figuring as the queen's adviser,
had recently composed a tragedy on this very subject; though that
gentleman, more cautious than Dr. Hayward, and having, perhaps, some
learned counsel also, had taken the precaution to keep back the scene
of the deposing of royalty during the life-time of this sharp-witted
queen, reserving its publication for the reign of her erudite
successor; and the learned counsel in this case being aware of the
fact, may have felt some sympathy with this misguided author. 'No,
madam,' he replied to her inquiry, thinking to take off her bitterness
with a merry conceit, as he says, 'for treason I can _not_ deliver
opinion that there is any, but very much felony.' The queen
apprehending it gladly, asked, 'How?' and 'wherein?' Mr. Bacon
answered, 'Because he had stolen many of his sentences and conceits
out of Cornelius Tacitus.' It would do one good to see, perhaps, how
many felonious appropriations of sentences, and quotations, and ideas,
the application he recommends would bring to light in this case.

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

'And could the perfection of eloquence have added any lustre
proportionable to the merit of a great person, certainly Scipio and
Laelius had never resigned the honour of their comedies, with all the
_luxuriancies and delicacies of the Latin tongue_, to an African
slave, for that the work was THEIRS _its beauty and excellency_
SUFFICIENTLY PROVE.' [This is from a book in which the supposed
autograph of Shakspere is found; a work from which he quotes
incessantly, and from which he appears, indeed, to have taken the
whole hint of his learning.] 'Besides Terence himself confesses as
much, and I should take it ill in any one that would _dispossess me_
of that _belief_.' For, as he says in another place, in a certain
deeply disguised dedication which he makes of the work of a friend, a
poet, whose early death he greatly lamented, and whom he is
'determined,' as he says, 'to revive and raise again to life if he
can:' 'As we often judge of the greater by the less, and _as the very
pastimes_ of great men give an honourable idea to the clear-sighted
_of the source_ from which they spring, I hope you will, by this work
of his, rise to the knowledge of himself, and by consequence love and
embrace his memory. In so doing, you will accomplish what he
exceedingly longed for whilst he lived.' But here he continues thus,
'I have, indeed, in my time known some, who, by a knack of writing,
have got both title and fortune, yet disown their apprenticeship,
_purposely corrupt their style,_ and affect ignorance of so vulgar a
quality (which _also our nation observes_, rarely to be seen _in very
learned hands_), carefully seeking a reputation by better qualities.'

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

And it is in the next paragraph to _this_, that he takes occasion to
mention that his stories and allegations do not always serve simply
for example, authority, or ornament; that they are not limited in
their application to the use he ostensibly makes of them, but that
they carry, for those who are in his secret, other meanings, bolder
and richer meanings, and sometimes collaterally a more delicate sound.
And having interrupted the consideration upon Cicero and Pliny, and
their vanity and pitiful desire for honour in future ages, with this
criticism on the limited sphere of statesmen in general, and the
devices to which _Laelius and Scipio_ were compelled to resort, in
order to get _their_ plays published without diminishing the lustre of
their personal renown, and having stopped to insert that most
extraordinary avowal in regard to his two-fold meanings in his
allegations and stories, he returns to the subject of this
correspondence again, for there is more in this also than meets the
ear; and it is not _Pliny_, and _Cicero_ only, whose supposed vanity,
and regard for posthumous fame, as men of letters, is under
consideration. 'But returning to the _speaking virtue_;' he says, 'I
find _no great choice_ between not knowing to speak _anything but
ill_, and not knowing anything but _speaking well_. The sages tell us,
that as to what concerns _knowledge_ there is nothing but
_philosophy_, and as to what concerns _effects_ nothing but _virtue_,
that is generally proper to all degrees and orders. There is something
like _this in these two other_ philosophers, for _they also promise_
ETERNITY to the letters they write to their friends, but 'tis _after
another manner_, and by accommodating themselves _for a good end_ to
the vanity of _another_; for they write to them that if the concern of
making themselves known to future ages, and the thirst of glory, do
yet _detain_ them in the management of public affairs, and make them
fear the solitude and retirement to which they would persuade them;
let them never trouble themselves more about it, forasmuch as they
shall have credit enough with posterity to assure them that, were
there nothing else but the _letters_ thus writ to them, those letters
will render their names as known and famous as their _own public
actions_ themselves could do. [And that--_that_ is the key to the
correspondence between _two other_ philosophers enigmatically alluded
to here.] And besides this difference,' for it is 'these two other
philosophers,' and not Pliny and Cicero, and not Seneca and Epicurus
alone, that we talk of here, 'and besides _this difference, these_ are
not _idle_ and _empty_ letters, that contain nothing but a fine jingle
of well chosen words, and fine couched phrases; but replete and
_abounding with grave and learned discourses_, by which a man may
render himself--not more eloquent but more _wise_, and that instruct
us not to _speak_ but _to do well_'; for that is the rhetorical theory
that was adopted by the scholars and statesmen then alive, whose
methods of making themselves known to future ages he is indicating,
even in these references to the ancients. '_Away_ with that
_eloquence_ which so enchants us with its _harmony_ that we should
more study it than _things_'; for this is the place where the
quotation with which our investigation of this theory commenced is
inserted in the text, and here it is, in the light of these preceding
collections of hints that he puts in the story first quoted, wherein
he says, the nature of the orator will be much more manifestly laid
open to us, than in that seeming care for his fame, or in that care of
his style, for its own sake. It is the story of Eros, the slave, who
brought the speaker word that the audience was _deferred_, when in
composing a speech that he was to make in public, 'he found himself
straitened in _time_, to fit his words to his mouth as he had a mind
to do.'



_Is the storm overblown? I hid me under the dead moon-calf's gaberdine
for fear of the storm.--Tempest_.

BUT as to this love of glory which the stoics, whom this philosopher
quotes so approvingly, have measured at its true worth; as to this
love of literary fame, this hankering after an earthly immortality,
which he treats so scornfully in the Roman statesman, let us hear him
again in another chapter, and see if we can find any thing whereby
_his_ nature and designs will more manifestly be laid open to us. 'Of
all the foolish dreams in the world,' he says, that which is most
universally received, is the solicitude of reputation and glory, which
we are fond of to that degree as to abandon riches, peace, life, and
health, which are effectual and substantial good, to pursue this vain
phantom. And of all the irrational humours of men, it should seem that
the philosophers themselves have the most ado, and do the least
disengage themselves from this the most restive and obstinate of all
the follies. There is not any one view of which _reason_ does so
clearly accuse the vanity, as that; but it is _so deeply rooted in
us_, that I doubt whether any one ever clearly freed himself from it,
or no. _After you have said all, and believed all_ that has been said
to its prejudice, it creates so intestine an inclination _in
opposition to your best arguments_, that you have little power and
firmness to resist it; _for_ (_as Cicero says_) even those who
controvert it, would yet that _the books they write_ should appear
before the world with _their names in the title page_, and seek to
derive glory from seeming to despise it. All other things are
communicable and fall into commerce; we lend our goods--

[It irks me not that men my garments wear.]

and stake our lives for the necessities and service of our friends;
but to communicate one's honour, _and to robe another with one's own
glory_, is very rarely seen. And yet we have some examples of that
kind. Catulus Luctatius, in the Cymbrian war, having done all that in
him lay to make his flying soldiers face about upon the enemy, _ran
himself at last away with the rest, and counterfeited the coward_, to
the end that his men might rather seem to follow their captain, than
to fly from the enemy; and after several anecdotes full of that inner
significance of which he speaks elsewhere, in which he appears, but
only appears, to lose sight of this question of literary honour, for
they relate to _military_ conflicts, he ventures to approach, somewhat
cautiously and delicately, the latent point of his essay again, by
adducing the example of persons, _not_ connected with the military
profession, who have found themselves called upon in various ways, and
by means of various weapons, to take part in these wars; who have yet,
in consequence of certain '_subtleties of conscience_,' _relinquished_
the _honour_ of their successes; and though there is no instance
adduced of that particular kind of disinterestedness, in which an
author relinquishes to another the honour of his title page, as the
beginning might have led one to anticipate; on the whole, the not
indiligent reader of this author's performances here and elsewhere,
will feel that the subject which is announced as the subject of this
chapter, 'Not to communicate a man's honour or glory,' has been,
considering the circumstance, sufficiently illustrated.

'_As women succeeding to peerages_ had, notwithstanding their sex, the
right to assist and give their votes in the causes that appertain to
the jurisdiction of peers; so the ecclesiastical peers,
_notwithstanding their profession_, were obliged to _assist our kings_
in their wars, not only with their friends and servants, but in their
own persons. And he instances the Bishop of Beauvais, who took a
gallant share in the battle of Bouvines, but did not think it _fit for
him to participate in the fruit and glory of that violent and bloody
trade_. He, with his own hand, reduced several of the enemy that day
to his mercy, whom he delivered to the first gentleman he met, either
to kill or to receive them to quarter, _referring that part to another
hand_. As also did William, Earl of Salisbury, to Messire John de
Neale, with a like subtlety of conscience to the other, he would KILL,
_but_ NOT WOUND _him_, and _for that reason_, fought only with a
_mace_. And a certain person in my time, being reproached by the king
that he had _laid hands_ on a _priest_, stiffly and positively denied
it. The case was, he had cudgelled and kicked him.' And there the
author abruptly, for that time, leaves the matter without any allusion
to the case of still another kind of combatants, who, fighting with
another kind of weapon, might also, from similar subtleties of
conscience, perhaps think fit to devolve on others the glory of their

But in a chapter on _names_, in which, if he has not told, he has
_designed to tell all_; and what he could not express, he has at least
pointed out with his finger, this subject is more fully developed. In
this chapter, he regrets that such as write _chronicles in Latin_ do
not leave our names as they find them, for in making of _Vaudemont_
VALLE-MONTANUS, and metamorphosing names to dress them out in Greek or
Latin, we know not where we are, and with the _persons_ of _the men,
lose_ the _benefit_ of the _story_: but one who tracks the inner
thread of this apparently miscellaneous collection of items, need be
at no such loss in this case. But at the conclusion of this apparently
very trivial talk about _names_, he resumes his philosophic humour
again, and the subsequent discourse on this subject, recalls once
more, the considerations with which philosophy sets at nought the loss
of fame, and forgets in the warmth that prompts to worthy deeds, the
glory that should follow them.

'But this consideration--that is the consideration "that it is the
custom in _France_, to call every man, even a stranger, by the name of
any _manor_ or _seigneury_, he may chance to come in possession of,
tends to the total confusion of descents, so that _surnames_ are no
security,"--"for," he says, "a younger brother of a good family,
having a _manor_ left him by his father, by the name of which he has
been known and honoured, cannot handsomely leave it; ten years after
his decease, it falls into the hand of a stranger, who does the same."
Do but judge whereabouts we shall be concerning the knowledge of these
men. This consideration leads me therefore into another subject. Let
us look a little more narrowly into, and examine upon what foundation
we erect this glory and reputation, for which the world is turned
topsy-turvy. Wherein do we place this renown, that we hunt after with
such infinite anxiety and trouble. It is in the end PIERRE or WILLIAM
that bears it, takes it into his possession, and whom only it
concerns. Oh what a valiant faculty is HOPE, that in a mortal subject,
and in a moment, makes nothing of usurping infinity, immensity,
eternity, and of supplying her master's indigence, at her pleasure,
with all things that he can imagine or desire. And this Pierre or
William, what is it but a sound, when all is done, ("What's in a
name?") or three or four dashes with a pen?'

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

As to the name of William, and the amount of personal distinction
which that confers upon its owners, he begins by telling us, that the
name of Guienne is said to be derived from the Williams of our ancient
Aquitaine, 'which would seem,' he says, rather far fetched, were there
not as crude derivations in Plato himself, to whom he refers in other
places for similar precedents; and when he wishes to excuse his
enigmatical style--the titles of his chapters for instance. And by way
of emphasizing this particular still further, he mentions, that on the
occasion when Henry, the Duke of Normandy, the son of Henry the
Second, of England, made a feast in France, the concourse of nobility
and gentry was so great, that for _sport's sake_ he divided them into
_troops, according to their names_, and in the _first troop, which
consisted of Williams_, there were found a hundred and ten knights
sitting at the table of that name, without reckoning the simple
gentlemen and servants.

And here he apparently digresses from his subject for the sake of
mentioning the Emperor _Geta_, 'who distributed the several courses of
his meats by the _first letters of the meats_ themselves, where those
that began with _B_ were served up together; _as_ brawn, beef,
beccaficos, and so of the others.' This appears to be a little out of
the way; but it is not impossible that there may be an allusion in it
to the author's own family name of _Eyquem_, though that would be
rather farfetched, as he says; but then there is _Plato_ at hand,
still to keep us in countenance.

But to return to the point of digression. 'And this Pierre, or
William, what is it but a sound when all is done? _Or_ three or four
dashes with a pen, _so easy to be varied_, that I would fain know to
whom is to be attributed the glory of so many victories, to
_Guesquin_, to Glesquin, or to _Gueaguin_. And yet there would be
something more in the case than in Lucian that Sigma should serve Tau
with a process, for "He seeks no mean rewards." _The quere is here in
good earnest. The point is_, which of _these letters_ is to be
rewarded for so many sieges, battles, wounds, imprisonment, and
services done to the crown of France by this famous constable.
_Nicholas Denisot_ never concerned _himself_ further than _the letters
of his name_, of which he has altered the _whole contexture, to build
up by anagram_ the Count d'Alsinois _whom he has endowed with the
glory of his poetry and painting_. [A good precedent--but here is a
better one.] And the historian Suetonius looked only to the _meaning
of his_; and so, cashiering his _fathers surname, Lenis_ left
Tranquillus _successor to the reputation of his writings_. Who would
believe that the Captain Bayard should have no honour but what he
derives from the great deeds of Peter (Pierre) Terrail, [the name of
Bayard--"the meaning"] and that Antonio Escalin should suffer himself,
to his face, to be robbed of the honour of so many navigations, and
commands at sea and land, by Captain Poulin and the Baron de la Garde.
[The name of Poulin was taken from the place where he was born, De la
Garde from a person who took him in his boyhood into his service.] Who
hinders my groom from calling himself Pompey the Great? But, after
all, what virtue, what springs are there that convey to my deceased
groom, or the other Pompey (who had his head cut off in Egypt), this
glorious renown, and these so much honoured flourishes of the pen?'
Instructive suggestions, especially when taken in connection with the
preceding items contained in this chapter, apparently so casually
introduced, yet all with a stedfast bearing on this question of names,
and all pointing by means of a thread of delicate sounds, and not less
delicate suggestions, to another instance, in which the possibility of
circumstances tending to countervail the so natural desire to
appropriate to the name derived from one's ancestors, the lustre of
one's deeds, is clearly demonstrated.

''Tis with good reason that men decry the hypocrisy that is in war;
for what is more easy to an old soldier than to shift in time of
danger, and to counterfeit bravely, when he has no more heart than a
chicken. There are so many ways to avoid hazarding a man's own
person'--'and had we the use of the Platonic ring, which renders those
invisible that wear it, if turned inwards towards the palm of the
hand, it is to be feared that a great many would often hide
themselves, when they _ought to appear_.' 'It seems that to be known,
_is in some sort to a man's life and its duration in another's
keeping_. I for my part, hold that I am wholly in myself, and that
other life of mine which lies in the knowledge of my friends,
considering it nakedly and simply in itself, I know very well that I
am sensible of no fruit or enjoyment of it but by the vanity of a
fantastic opinion; and, when I shall be dead, I shall be much less
sensible of it, and shall withal absolutely lose the use of those real
advantages that sometimes accidentally follow it. [That was Lord
Bacon's view, too, exactly.] I shall have no more handle whereby to
take hold of reputation, or whereby it may take hold of me: for to
expect that my name should receive it, in the first place, I have no
name that is enough my own. Of two that I have, one is common to all
my race, and even to others also: there is one family at Paris, and
another at Montpelier, whose surname is _Montaigne_; another in
Brittany, and Xaintonge called _De la Montaigne_. The transposition of
_one syllable only_ is enough to ravel our affairs, so that I shall
peradventure share in their glory, and they shall partake of my shame;
and, moreover, my ancestors were formerly surnamed _Eyquem_, a name
wherein a _family well known in England_ at this day is concerned. As
to my other name, any one can _take it that will_, and _so_, perhaps,
I may honour _a porter_ in my own stead. And, besides, though I had a
particular distinction myself, what can it distinguish when I _am no
more_. Can it point out and favour inanity?

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

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

But as to the authority for these readings, Lord Bacon himself will
give us that; for this is the style which he discriminates so sharply
as 'the _enigmatical_,' a style which he, too, finds to have been in
use among the ancients, and which he tells us _has some affinity_ with
that new method of making over knowledge from the mind of the teacher
to that of the pupil, which he terms the method of _progression_--
(which is the method of _essaie_)--in opposition to the received
method, the only method he finds in use, which he, too, calls
the _magisterial_. And this method of progression, with which the
enigmatical has some affinity, is to be used, he tells us, in cases
where knowledge is delivered as a thread to be spun on, where science
is to be removed from one mind to another _to grow from the root_, and
not delivered as trees for the use of the carpenter, where _the root_
is of no consequence. In this case, he tells us it is necessary for
the teacher to descend to _the foundations of knowledge and consent_,
and so to transplant it into another as it grew in his own mind,
'whereas as knowledge is now delivered, there is a _kind of contract
of error_ between the deliverer and the receiver, for he that
delivereth knowledge desireth to deliver it in such a form as may
_best be believed_, and not as may best be _examined_: and he that
receiveth knowledge desireth rather _present satisfaction_ than
_expectant inquiry_, and so rather _not to doubt than not to err,
glory_ making the author not to lay open his weakness, and _sloth_
making the disciple _not to know his strength_.' Now, so very grave a
defect as this, in the method of the delivery and tradition of
Learning, would of course be one of the first things that would
require to be remedied in any plan in which '_the Advancement_' of it
was seriously contemplated. And this method of the delivery and
tradition of knowledge which transfers _the root_ with them, that they
may grow in the mind of the learner, is the method which this
philosopher professes to find wanting, and the one which he seems
disposed to invent. He has made a very thorough survey of the stores
of the ancients, and is not unacquainted with the more recent history
of learning; he knows exactly what kinds of methods have been made use
of by the learned in all ages, for the purpose of putting themselves
into some tolerable and possible relations with the physical majority;
he knows what devices they have always been compelled to resort to,
for the purpose of establishing some more or less effective
communication between themselves and that world to which they
instinctively seek to transfer their doctrine. But this method, which
he suggests here as the essential condition of the growth and
advancement of learning, he does _not_ find invented. He refers to a
method which he calls the enigmatical, which has an affinity with it,
'used in some cases by the discretion of the ancients,' but disgraced
since, 'by the impostures of persons, who have made it as a _false
light_ for their counterfeit merchandises.' The purpose of this latter
style is, as he defines it, 'to remove the _secrets_ of knowledge from
the penetration of the more vulgar capacities, and to reserve them to
_selected auditors_, or to wits of such sharpness as can pierce the
veil.' And that is a method, he tells us, which philosophy can by no
means dispense with in his time, and 'whoever would let in new light
upon the human understanding must still have recourse to it.' But the
method of delivery and tradition in those ancient schools, appears to
have been too much of the dictatorial kind to suit this proposer of
advancement; its tendency was to arrest knowledge instead of promoting
its growth. He is not pleased with the ambition of those old masters,
and thinks they aimed too much at a personal impression, and that they
sometimes undertook to impose their own particular and often very
partial grasp of those universal doctrines and principles, which are
and must be true for all men, in too dogmatical and magisterial a
manner, without making sufficient allowance for the growth of the mind
of the world, the difference of races, etc.

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

'_I can give no account of my life by_ MY ACTIONS, fortune has placed
_them_ too low; _I must do it_ BY MY FANCIES. And when shall I have
done representing the continual agitation and change of my thoughts as
they come into my head, seeing that Diomedes filled six thousand books
upon the subject of grammar.' [The commentators undertake to set him
right here, but the philosopher only glances in his intention at the
voluminousness of the science of _words_, in opposition to the science
of _things_, which he came to establish.] 'What must prating
_produce_, since prating itself, and the first beginning to speak,
stuffed the world with such a horrible load of volumes. So many words
about _words_ only. They accused one Galba, of old, of living idly; he
made answer that every one ought to give account of his _actions_, but
_not_ of his _leisure_. He was mistaken, for _justice_--[the civil
authority]--has cognizance and _jurisdiction_ over those that _do
nothing_, or only PLAY _at_ WORKING.... Scribbling appears to be the
sign of a disordered age. Every man applies himself negligently to the
duty of his _vocation_ at such a time and debauches in it.' From that
central wrong of an evil government, an infectious depravity spreads
and corrupts all particulars. Everything turns from its true and
natural course. Thus _scribbling_ is the sign of a disordered age. Men
write in such times instead of acting; and scribble, or seem to
perhaps, instead of writing openly to purpose.

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

He were no lion, were not Romans hinds.--_Cassius_.

'Some contribute _treachery_, others _injustice_, irreligion,
_tyranny_, _avarice_ and _cruelty, according as they have power; the_
am one.'

_Caesar_ loves no plays as thou dost, Antony.
Such men are dangerous.

Or, as the same poet expresses it in another Roman play:--

This _double worship_,
Where one part does _disdain with cause, the other
Insult without all reason_; where gentry, title, wisdom
Cannot conclude but by the _yea and no_
Of _general ignorance_,--it must omit
Real necessities--and give way the while
To unstable slightness; purpose _so barred_,
It follows, nothing is done to purpose.

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

But the essayist continues:--'It seems as if it were the season for
_vain things_ when _the hurtful oppress us_; in a time when doing ill
is common, to do nothing but what _signifies nothing_ is a kind of
commendation. 'Tis _my_ comfort that _I_ shall be one of the last that
shall be called in question,--for it would be against reason _to
punish the less troublesome_ while we are _infested_ with the
_greater_. _As the physician_ said to one who presented him his finger
to dress, and who, as he perceived, had an ulcer _in his lungs_,
"Friend, it is not now time to concern yourself about your finger's
ends." _And yet_ I saw some years ago, _a person, whose name and
memory I have in very great esteem_, in the very height of our great
disorders, when there was _neither law nor justice put in execution,
nor magistrate that performed his office_,--_no more than there is
now_,--publish I know not what _pitiful reformations_ about _clothes,
cookery_ and _law chicanery_. _These are amusements_ wherewith _to
feed a people that are ill used, to show that they are not totally
forgotten. These others_ do the same, who insist upon _stoutly
defending_ the _forms_ of _speaking_, dances and games to a people
totally abandoned to all sorts of execrable vices--it is for the
Spartans only to fall to combing and curling themselves, when they are
just upon the point of running headlong into some extreme danger of
their lives.

'For _my part_, I have _yet a worse_ custom. I scorn to mend myself by
halves. If my _shoe_ go awry, I let my shirt and my cloak do so too:
when I am out of order I feed on mischief. I abandon myself through
despair, and let myself go towards the precipice, and as the saying
is, throw the helve after the hatchet.' We should not need, perhaps,
the aid of the explanations already quoted, to show us that the author
does not confess this custom of his for the sake of commending it to
the sense or judgment of the reader,--who sees it here for the first
time it may be put into words or put on paper, who looks at it here,
perhaps, for the first time objectively, from the critical stand-point
which the review of another's confession creates; and though it may
have been latent in the dim consciousness of his own experience, or
practically developed, finds it now for the first time, collected from
the phenomena of the blind, instinctive, human motivity, and put down
on the page of science, as a principle in nature, in human nature

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

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

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

--'in this contingency will willingly choose,' continues the other,
'to withdraw from the tempest, and in the meantime, _nature or the
hazards of war may lend me a helping hand_. Betwixt Caesar and Pompey,
I should soon and frankly have declared myself, but amongst the three
robbers that came after, a man must needs _have either hid himself_,
or have gone along with the current of the time, _which I think a man
may lawfully do, when reason no longer rules_.' '_Whither_ dost thou
wandering go?'

'This _medley_ is a little from my subject, I go out of my way but
'tis rather _by licence than oversight_. My fancies _follow_ one
another, _but sometimes at a great distance_, and _look towards one
another_, but 'tis with an _oblique glance_. I have read a DIALOGUE of
PLATO of such a _motley and fantastic_ composition. The _beginning was
about love_, and all the rest ABOUT RHETORIC. _They_ stick not (that
is, the ancients) at these variations, and have a marvellous grace in
letting themselves to be carried away at the pleasure of the winds; or
at least to _seem_ as if they were. The titles of my chapters do not
always comprehend the whole matter, they often denote it _by some mark
only_, as those other titles _Andria Eunuchus_, or these, _Sylla,
Cicero, Torquatus_. I love _a poetic march_, by leaps and skips, 'tis
an art, as Plato says, light, nimble; and _a little demoniacal_. There
are places in _Plutarch_ where _he_ forgets his theme, where the
proposition of _his_ argument is only found _incidentally_, and
stuffed throughout with foreign matter. Do but observe his meanders in
the Demon of Socrates. How beautiful are his variations and
digressions; and then _most of all, when they seem to be_ fortuitous,
[hear] and introduced _for want of heed. 'Tis the indiligent reader_
that loses my subject--_not I. There will always be found some words_
or _other in a corner that are to the purpose, though it lie very
close_ [that is the unfailing rule]. I ramble about indiscreetly and
tumultously: my style and my _wit_ wander at the same rate, [he
wanders _wittingly_]. A _little folly_ is _desirable_ in him _that
will not be guilty of stupidity_, say the precepts, and much more the
_examples_ of our masters. A thousand poets flag and languish after a
_prosaic manner_; but the best old prose, and I strew it here up and
down _indifferently_ for verse, shines throughout with the vigor and
boldness of poetry, and represents some air of its fury. Certainly,
prose must _yield_ the pre-eminence in speaking. "The poet," says
Plato, "when set upon the muse's tripod, pours out with fury, whatever
comes into his mouth, like the pipe of a fountain, _without
considering and pausing upon what he says_, and things come from him
of _various colors_, of _contrary substance_, and with an irregular
torrent": he himself (Plato) is all over poetical, and all the old
theology (_as the learned inform us) is poetry_, and the _first
philosophy_, is the origiual language of the gods.

'I would have the matter _distinguish itself_; it sufficiently shows
_where it changes_, where it concludes, _where it begins, and where it
resumes, without interlacing it with words of connection_, introduced
for the relief of _weak or negligent ears_, and without commenting
myself. Who is he that had not rather not be read at all, than after a
drowsy or _cursory_ manner? Seeing I cannot fix the reader's attention
by the _weight_ of what I write, _maneo male_, if I should chance _to
do it by my intricacies_. [Hear]. I mortally hate obscurity and _would
avoid it if I could. In such an employment_, to whom you will not give
an hour you will give nothing; _and you do nothing for him for whom
you only do, whilst you are doing something else_. To which may be
added, that I have, perhaps, some particular obligation to speak only
_by halves_, to speak _confusedly and discordantly_.'

But this is, perhaps, enough to show, in the way of direct assertion,
that we have here, at least, a philosophical work composed in that
style which Lord Bacon calls 'the enigmatical,' in which he tells us
the _secrets_ of knowledge are reserved for _selected auditors_, or
wits of such sharpness as can pierce the veil; a style which he, too,
tells us was sometimes used by the discretion of the ancients, though
he does not specify either Plutarch or Plato; in that place, and one
which he introduces in connection with his new method of progression,
in consequence of its having, as he tells us, _some affinity_ with it,
and that we have here also a specimen of that new method itself, by
means of which knowledge is to be delivered as a thread to be spun on.

But let us leave, for the present, this wondrous Gascon, though it is
not very easy to do so, so long as we have our present subject in
hand,--this philosopher, whose fancies look towards one another at
such long, such very long distances, sometimes, though not always,
with an _oblique_ glance, who dares to depend so much upon the eye of
his reader, and especially upon the reader of that 'far-off' age he
writes to. It would have been indeed irrelevant to introduce the
subject of this foreign work and its style in this connection without
further explanation, but for the identity of political situation
already referred to, and but for those subtle, interior, incessant

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