Изображения страниц

ing the formation or unravelling the elements. He pursued beforehand the method of Condillac, beginning with tracing to the original fact, palpably and clearly, so as to pursue step by step the filiation and parentage of the ideas of which this primary fact is the stock, in such a manner that the reader, conducted from total to total, may at any moment test the exactness of his operation, and verify the truth of his results. Such a logical system cuts across the grain of prejudice with a mechanical stiffness and boldness. Hobbes clears science of scholastic words and theories. He laughs down quiddities, he does away with rational and intelligible classifications, he rejects the authority of references.* He cuts, as with a surgeon's knife, at the heart of the most living creeds. He denies the authenticity of the books of Moses, Joshua, and the like. He declares that no argument proves the divinity of Scripture, and that, in order to believe it, every man requires a supernatural and personal revelation. He upsets in half-a-dozen words the authority of this and every other revelation. He reduces man to a mere body, the soul to a function, God, to an unknown existence. His phrases read like equations or mathematical results. In fact it is from mathematics that he derives the idea of all science. He

*Though I reverence those men of ancient times that either have written truth perspicuously, or set it in a better way to find it out ourselves, yet to the antiquity itself, I think nothing due; for if we reverence the age, the present is the oldest.-Hobbes' Works, Moles worth, 11 vols. 8vo, 1839-45, iii. 712.

"To say he hath spoken to him in a dream, is no more than to say he dreamed that God spake to him... To say he hath seen a vision or heard a voice, is to say that he has dreamed between sleeping and waking. To say he speaks by supernatural inspiration, is to say he finds an ardent DESIRE to speak, or some strong opinion of himself for which he can allege no sufficient and natural reason.' Ibid. iii. 361-2.

would reconstitute moral science on the same basis. He assigns to it this foundation when he lays down that sensation is an internal movement caused by an external shock; desire, an internal movement toward an external object; and he builds upon these two notions the whole system of morals Again, he assigns to morals a mathe matical method, when he distinguishes like the geometrician, between two sim ple ideas, which he transforms by de grees into two more complex; and when on the basis of sensation and desire he constructs the passions, the rights, and institutions of man, just as the geometrician out of straight lines and curves constructs all the varieties of figure. To morals he gives a mathe matical aspect, by mapping out the incomplete and rigid construction of human life, like the network of imaginary forms which geometricians have conceived. For the first time there was discernible in him, as in Descartes, but exaggerated and standing out more conspicuously, that species of intellect which produced the classic age in Europe: not the independence of inspiration and genius which marked the Renaissance; not the mature experi mental methods and conceptions of aggregates which distinguish the pres ent age, but the independence of ar gumentative reasoning, which dispensing with the imagination, liberating itself from tradition, badly practising experience, acknowledges its queen in logic, its model in mathematics, its instruments in ratiocination, its audience in polished society, its employment in average truth, its subject-matter in abstract humanity, its formula in ideology, and in the French Revolution at once its glory and its condemnation, its triumph and its close.

But whereas Descartes, in the midst of a purified society and religion noble and calm, enthroned intellli. gence and elevated man, Hobbes, in "From the principal parts of Nature, Rea- the midst of an overthrown society son, and Passion, have proceeded two kinds of and a religion run mad, degraded man learning, mathematical and dogmatical. The and enthroned matter. Through dis former is free from controversy and dispute, because it consisteth in comparing figure and gust of Puritanism, the courtiers remotion only, in which things truth and the induced human existence to an animal terest of men oppose not each other. But in licentiousness; through disgust of the other there is nothing undisputable, because it compares men, and meddles with their Puritanism, Hobbes reduced human right and profit."—Ibid. iv. Epis. ded. nature to its merely animal aspect

The courtiers were practically atheists | to religion, it is but "the fear of an and brutish, as he was atheistic and invisible power, whether this be a fig brutish in the province of speculation. ment, or adopted from history by genThey had established the fashion of eral consent."* Indeed, this was true instinct and egotism; he wrote the for a Rochester or a Charles II.; cow philosophy of egotism and instinct. ards or bullies, superstitious or blasphe They had wiped out from their hearts mers, they conceived of nothing beyond all refined and noble sentiments; he Neither is there any natural right wiped out from the heart all noble and "Before men were bound by contract refined sentiment. He arranged their one with another, each had the right to manners into a tneory, gave them the do what he would against whom he manual of their conduct, wrote down would." Nor any natural friendship beforehand the maxims which they "All association is for the cause cf were to reduce to practice. With advantage or of glory, that is, for love him, as with them, "the greatest good of one's self, not of one's associates. is the preservation of life and limb; The origin of great and durable asso the greatest evil is death, especially ciations is not mutual well-wishing but with pain." Other goods and other mutual fear. The desire of injuring is evils are only the means of these. None innate in all. Man is to man a wolf. seek or wish for any thing but that Warfare was the natural condiwhich is pleasurable. "No man gives tion of men before societies were except for a personal advantage." Why formed; and this not incidentally, but are friendships good things? "Be- of all against all: and this war is of its cause they are useful; friends serve own nature eternal."t Sectarian viofor defence and otherwise." Why do lence let loose, the conflict of ambi we pity one another? "Because we tions, the fall of governments, the imagine that a similar misfortune may overflow of soured imaginations and befall ourselves." Why is it noble to malevolent passions, had raised up this pardon him who asks it? "Because idea of society and of mankind. ́One thus one proves confidence in self." tiæ cum ad multa alia, tam ad præsidium conSuch is the background of the human ferunt. heart. Consider now what becomes of the most precious flowers in these blighting hands. Music, painting, poetry, are agreeable as imitations which recall the past, because if the past was good, it is agreeable in its imitation as a good thing; but if it was bad, it is agreeable in its imitation as being past." To this gross mechanism he reduces the fine arts; it was perceptible in his attempt to translate the Iliad. In his sight, philosophy is a thing of like kind. "Wisdom is serviceable, because it has in it some kind of protection; if it is desirable in itself, it is because it is pleasant." Thus here is no dignity in knowledge. It is ▲ pastime or an assistance; good, as a servant or a puppet is a good thing. Money being more serviceable, is worth more. "Not he who is wise is rich, as the Stoics say; but, on the contrary, he who is rich is wise."† As

[ocr errors]

* His chief works were written between 1646 and 1655.

Sapientia utile. Nam præsidium in se habet nonnullum. Etiam appetibile est per se, id est jucundum. Item pulchrum, quia acquisitu difficilis.

Non enim qui sapiens est, ut dixere stoici, dives est, sed contra qui dives est sapiens es dicendus est.

Ignoscere veniam petenti pulchrum. Nam indicium fiduciæ sui.

Imitatio jucundum: revocat enim præterita Præterita autem si bona fuerint, jucunda sunt terita. Jucunda igitur musica, poesis pictura. repræsentata, quia bona; si mala, quia præ Hobbes' Opera Latina, Molesworth, vol. ii. 98-102.

Metus potentiarum invisibilium, sive ficta illæ sint, sive ab historiis acceptæ sint publice religio est si publice acceptæ non sint, super stitio.-Ibid. iii. 45.

† Omnis igitur societas vel commodi ca asa vel gloriæ, hoc est, sui, non sociorum amore

contrahitur.-Ibid. ii. 161.

Statuendum igitur est, originem magnaru et diuturnarum societatum non a mutua homi num benevolentia, sed a mutuo metu exstitisse. -Ibid.

Voluntas lædendi omnibus quidem inest in statu naturæ.-Ibid. ii. 162.

Status hominum naturalis antequam in societatem coiretur bellum fuerit; neque hos simpliciter, sed bellum omnium in omnes.Ibid. ii. 166.

Bellum sua natura sempiternum.-See 166

↑ Nemo dat nisi respiciens ad bonum sibi.
Amicitia bonæ, nempe utiles. Nam amici- | 7. 16.


When the theatres, which Parlia ment had closed, were re-opened, the change of public taste was soon manifested. Shirley, the last of the grand old school, wrote and lived no longer. Waller, Buckingham, and Dryden were compelled to dish up the plays of Shakspeare and Beaumont and Fletcher, and to adapt them to the modern style. Pepys, who went to see Midsummer Night's Dream, declared that he would never go there again; "for it is the most insipid, ridiculous play that ever I saw in my life."* Comedy was transformed; the fact was, that the public was transformed.

and all, philosophers and people, spectacle of the English Restoration yearned for monarchy and repose. suggests. Men deserved then thi Hobbes, an inexorable logician, would treatment, because they gave birth te have it absolute; repression would this philosophy; they were represented thus be more stern, peace more last- on the stage as they had proved them ing. The sovereign should be un-selves to be in theory and in manners. opposed. Whatsoever he might do against a subject, under whatever pretex, would not be injustice. He ought to decide upon the canonical books. He was pope, and more than pope. Were he to command it, his subjects should renounce Christ, at least with their mouth; the original contract has given up to him, without any reservation, all responsibility of external actions; at least, according to this view, the sectarian will no longer have the pretext of his conscience a harassing the state. To such extremities had the intense weariness and horror of civil war driven a narrow but logical intellect. Upon the secure den in which he had with every effort imprisoned and confined the evil beast of prey, he laid as a final weight, in order that he might perpetuate the captivity of humanity, the whole philosophy and theory not simply of man, but of the remainder of the universe. He reduced judgment to the "combination of two terms," ideas to conditions of the brain, sensations to motions of the body, general laws to simple words, all substance to corpore-ly troubled themselves about probabiliality, all science to the knowledge of sensible bodies, the human being to a body capable of motion given or received; so that man, recognizing himself and nature only under this despised form, and degraded in his conception of himself and of the world, might bow beneath the burden of a necessary authority, and submit in the end to the yoke which his rebellious nature rejects, yet is forced to tolerate.* Such, in brief, is the aim which this

What an audience was that of Shakspeare and Beaumont and Fletcher ! What youthful and delightful souls! In this evil-smelling room in which it was necessary to burn juniper, before that miserable half-lighted stage, before decorations worthy of an alehouse, with men playing the women's parts, illusion enchained them. They scarce

ties; they could be carried in an instant over forest and ocean, from clime to clime, across twenty years of time, through ten battles and all the hurry of adventure. They did not care to be always laughing; comedy, after a burst of buffoonery, resumed its serious or tender tone. They came less to be amused than to muse. In these fresh minds, amidst a woof of passions and dreams, there were hidden passions and brilliant dreams whose imprisoned swarm buzzed indistinctly, waiting for the poet to come and lay bare to them the novelty and the splendor of heav

*Corpus et substantia idem significant, et proinde vox composita substantia incorporea est insignificans æque ac si quis diceret corpus incorporeum.-Hobbes' Opera Latina, Moles-en. Landscapes revealed by a lightworth, iii. 281.

Quidquid imaginamur finitum est. Nulla ergo est idea neque conceptus qui oriri potest a voce hac, infinitum.-Ibid. iii. 20.

Recidit taque ratiocinatio omnis ad duas operationes animi, additionem et substractionem.-Ibid. i. 3.

Nomina signa sunt non rerum sed cogitationem.-Ibid. i. 15.

Veritas enim in dicto non in re consistit.Ibid. i. 31.

Sensio igitur in sentiente nihil aliud esse po test præter motum partium aliquarum intus in sentiente existentium, quæ partes motæ organ orum quibus sentimus partes sunt.-b. i. 317

' Pepys' Diary, ii. Sept. 29, 1662.


ning flash, the gray mane of a long and the tavern or the ante-chamber; let the overhanging billow, a wet forest nook theatre and the street reproduce one where the deer raise their startled another. Comery will give him the heads, the sudden smile and purpling same entertainment as real life; he cheek of a young girl in love, the sub- will wallow equally well there in vullime and various flight of all delicate garity and lewdness; to be present sentiments, a cloak of ecstatic and ro- there will demand neither imagination mantic passion over all,-these were nor wit; eyes and memory are the only the sights and feelings which they requisites. This exact imitation will came to seek, They raised them- amuse him and instruct him at the selves without any assistance to the same time. Filthy words will make hin summit of the world of ideas; they laugh through sympathy; shameles desired to contemplate extreme gener-imagery will divert him by appealing | 1 osity, absolute love; they were not as his recollections. The author, too, onished at the sight of fairy-land; will take care to arouse him by his they entered without an effort into the plot, which generally has the deceiving region of poetical transformation, whose of a father or a husband for its subight was necessary to their eyes. They ject. The fine gentlemen agree with took in at a glance its excesses and its the author in siding with the gallant; caprices; they needed no preparation; they follow his fortunes with interest, they followed its digressions, its whim- and fancy that they themselves have sicalities, the crowding of its abundant the same success with the fair. Add creations, the sudden prodigality of its to this, women debauched, and willing high coloring, as a musician follows a to be debauched; and it is manifest symphony. They were in that tran- how these provocations, these mansient and strained condition in which ners of prostitutes, that interchange the imagination, adult and pure, laden of exchanges and surprises, that carniwith desire, curiosity, force, develops val of rendezvous and suppers, the man all at once, and in that man the impudence of the scenes only stopping most exalted and exquisite feelings. short of physical demonstration, those songs with their double meaning, that coarse slang shouted loudly and replied to amidst tableaux vivants, all

have stirred up the innermost feelings of the habitual practisers of intrigue. And what is more, the theatre gave its sanction to their manners. By representing nothing but vice, it authorized their vices. Authors laid it down as a rule, that all women were impudent hussies, and that all men were brutes. Debauchery in their hands became a matter of course, nay more, a matter of good taste; they profess it. Rochester and Charli II. could quit the theatre highly edi fied; more convinced than they were before that virtue was only a pretence the pretence of clever rascals who wanted to sell themselves dear.

The roisterers took the place of these. They were rich, they had tried to deck themselves with the polish of Frenchmen; they added to the stage move-that stage-imitation of orgie, must able decorations, music, lights, probability, comfort, every external aid; but they wanted heart. Imagine those foppish and half intoxicated men, who saw in love nothing beyond desire, and in man nothing beyond sensuality; Rochester in the place of Mercutio. What part of his soul could compre. hend poesy and fancy? The comedy of romance was altogether beyond his reach; he could only seize the actual world, and of this world but the palpa ble and gross externals. Give him an exact picture of ordinary life, commonplace and probable occurrences, literal mitations of what he himself was and did; lay the scene in London, in the current year copy his coarse words, his brutal jokes, his conversation with the orange girls, his rendezvous in the park, his attempts at French dissertation. Let him recognize himself, let him find again the people and the manners he had just left behind him in


Dryden, who was amongst the first to adopt this view of the matter, did not adopt it heartily. A kind of hary

His Wild Gallant dates from 166a.

mist, the relic of the former age, still | tact or contrivance. In his Spanis floated over his plays. His wealthy im- Friar, the queen, a good encugh wo agination half bound him to the come- man, tells Torrismond that she is going dy of romance. At one time he adapted to have the old dethroned king put to Milton's Paradise, Shakspeare's Tem-death, in order to marry him, Torrispest, and Troilus and Cressida. An- mond, more at her ease. Presently she other time he imitated, in Love in a is informed that the murder is comNunnery, in Marriage à la Mode, in pleted, "What hinders now," says The Mock Astrologer, the imbroglios and she, "but that the holy priest, in secret surprises of the Spanish stage. Some- joins our mutual vows? and then this times he displays the sparkling images night, this happy night, is yours and ard lofty metaphors of the older na- mine." Side by side with this sentional poets, sometimes the affected sual tragedy, a comic intrigue, pushed figures of speech and cavilling wit of to the most indecent familiarity, exCalderon and Lope de Vega. He hibits the love of a cavalier for a marmingles the tragic and the humorous, ried woman, who in the end turns out the overthrow of thrones and the or- to be his sister. Dryden discovers dinary description of manners. But in nothing in this situation to shock him this awkward compromise the poetic He has lost the commonest repugspirit of ancient comedy disappears; nances of natural modesty. Transonly the dress and the gilding remain. lating any pretty broad play, AmphiThe new characters are gross and im tryon for instance, he finds it too pure; moral, with the instincts of a lackey he strips off all its small delicacies, beneath the dress of a lord; which is and enlarges its very improprieties. † the more shocking, because by it Dry- Thus Jupiter says: den contradicts his own talents, being at bottom grave and a poet; he follows the fashion, and not his own mind; he plays the libertine with deliberate forethought, to adapt himself to the taste of the day. He plays the blackguard awkwardly and dogmatically; he is impious without enthusiasm, and in measured periods. One of his gallants cries:

'Is not love love without a priest and altars? The temples are inanimate, and know not What vows are made in them; the priest stands ready

For his hire, and cares not what hearts he couples;

Love alone is marriage." ↑ Hippolita says, "I wished the ball might be kept perpetually in our cloister, and that half the handsome nuns n it might be turned to men, for the sake of the other." Dryden has no "We love to get our mistresses, and purr ver them, as cats do over mice, and let them t a little way; and all the pleasure is to pat hem back again."-Mock Astrologer, ii. 1.

Wildblood says to his mistress: "I am none of those unreasonable lovers that propose to themselves the loving to eternity. A month is commonly my stint. And Jacintha replies: Or would not a fortnight serve our turn?"Ibid.

Frequently one would think Dryden was translating Hobbes, by the harshness of his

[blocks in formation]

For kings and priests are in a



For reverence sake, to be close hypocrites." +

And he proceeds thereupon boldly to
lay bare his own despotism. In reality,
his sophisms and his shamelessness
serve Dryden as a means of decrying
by rebound the arbitrary Divinity of
the theologians. He lets Jupiter say:
"Fate is what I,

By virtue of omnipotence, have made it ;
And power omnipotent can do no wrong!
Not to myself, because I will it so ;
Nor yet to men, for what they are is mine.-
This night I will enjoy Amphitryon's wife;
For when I made her, I decreed her such
As I should please to love." §
This open pedantry is changed into
open lust as soon as Jupiter sees Alc.

Spanish Friar, iii. 3. And jumbled uỊ allusions. This is a mark of the time. Torris with the plot we keep meeting with politica mond, to excuse himself from marrying the queen, says, "Power which in one age in tyranny is ripen'd in the next to true succes sion. She's in possession."-Spanish Friar, iv. 2.


† Plautus' Amphitryon has been imitated by Dryden and Molière. Sir Walter Scott, in the introduction to Dryden's play, says: is, in general, coarse and vulgar, where Molière is witty; and where the Frenchman ven tures upon a doub'e meaning, the Englishmaz always contrives to make a single one." Ibid.


↑ Amphitryon, i. 1.

[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »