Изображения страниц

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 ine afar off. But as to these, -and the sequel explains this relative, for it has no antecedent in the text -- as to these, I deal quite contrary with them. I must understand and presuppose nothing but by them. .... Now, if you come to explain anything to them and confirm them (these readers), they presently catch at it, and rob you of the advantage of your interpretation. It was what I was about to say; it was just my thought, and if I did not express it so, it was only for want of language. Very pretty! Malice itself must be employed to correct this proud ignorance —’tis injustice and inhumanity to relieve and set him right who stands in no need of it, and is the worse for it. I love to let him step deeper into the mire,' [luring him on with his own confessions, and with my assumptions of his case) and so deep that if it be possible, they may at least discern their error. FOLLY AND ABSURDITY ARE NOT TO BE CURED BY BARE ADMONITION. What Cyrus 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 method in Rhetoric exactly, though it was then wholly new. But our Gascon

to describe its freedoms and novelties, its imitations of the living conference, its new vitalities.

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.'

the same

goes on






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.


ERE 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 selfconviction.

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 may be 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 egotisti. cal biography, is not all this ingenuity, which has success. fully evaded thus far not the careless reader only, but the scrutiny of the scholar, and the sharp eye of the reviewer himself, is it not an ingenuity which serves after all to little purpose, which indeed defeats its own design? No, by no means. That disguise which was at first a necessity, has 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 representa

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »