« AnteriorContinuar »
of either party; the State must be a living body, not a chance concourse of atoms. And here we have one of the two main lines of division between exponents of the Social Compact, the other consisting in the diverse views which they have taken of human nature.
We have men like Rousseau, who try to shelve the difficulty altogether, by making the compact one to which every party is continuously a consenting member. At the other extreme we have Hobbes, who would have the supreme power transferred once and for all to the sovereign. Towards this view Hooker inclines. He looks upon the State as a personality, which outlives its human members, and the compact which formed it as not to be dissolved unless it is revoked by universal agreement.
Now we come to the second line of difference. There is one thing still essential for patriotism. A society of egotists, such as those of whom Hobbes would have us believe our race is composed, could be capable of no disinterested passion about anything at all. Society is for them only a matter of convenience. But Hooker takes a less inhuman view. He is largely under the influence of Aristotle, from whom he derives the theory that the State came into being to the end that men might live, but continues to be in order that they may live well. His view of humanity is coloured by that of St. Augustine. It is the nature of man to seek good, but being under the curse of Adam, he often prefers the lesser good to the greater, and hence the need of laws to check his baser impulses and spur him to the fulfilment of his true nature. The State then, like the Church, is of God, and in the frontispiece the King is seen receiving his sceptre from heaven, while the Church receives the Bible.
A fitting symbol, this, of the Elizabethan ideal at its best. Loyalty to the throne, and the loving study of the Bible, were what had raised England out of the Slough of Despair, and placed her for ever among the leading
nations of the world. The direct discipline of the Church had probably counted for little, except as regards her partial success in maintaining the order which Hooker prized before all things. It is perhaps characteristic of Englishmen that it was rather by private study than organized enthusiasm that they had fostered a spirit fit to cope with the Counter-Reformation. As for the importance of religion to a State, by no one is it more emphatically recognized than by Hooker. 'So natural is religion with Justice that we may boldly deem that there is neither where both are not." The same piety which maketh them that are in authority desirous to please and resemble God by justice, inflameth every way men of action with zeal to do good (as far as their place will permit) unto all. For that, they know, is most noble and divine." It is the same as regards courage, only a religious man will have the constancy to fight well, and it may be noted that Hooker takes a very liberal view of religion, granting some measure of it even to peoples who are not Christian. For atheists, he, like Burke, would have no tolerance.
Thus we see that according to Hooker the State is based primarily on the Divine Law, and next upon the consent and welfare of its members; that it is a continuous living whole, made up of men who have the good implanted in their hearts, though by the frailty of their nature they may not always stand upright. His justification of the Church is worked out upon precisely similar lines. It is not till Burke that we again meet with a doctrine so favourable to the united patriotic feeling, whose growth it is the object of this book to trace.
Splendid, almost miraculous, as had been the achievement of Elizabeth's last years, it was yet far short of ideal perfection. Never, perhaps, has any nation undergone a like spiritual development, or bequeathed so much to posterity in so short a span, but there was yet much
to be accomplished, and long and bitter was the training to be undergone before she could take her place as the successor of Rome and the leader of civilization. It was enough, for the nonce, to have broken the shock of the Counter-Reformation and brought the tyrant's grey hairs with sorrow to the grave, but to step into the place of Spain was beyond her power; and it was good for a while that it should be so, for the tree that shoots up the fastest is seldom sound within, and not the poplar, but the oak is emblematic of England. These years are from one standpoint a little disheartening, for they show not only the fruition, but the limitations of the Elizabethan age. The bravery of our men, the heroism of our leaders, was displayed again and again. Not for the last time, the Low Countries were to see with what decisive effect a contingent of Englishmen could intervene in the warfare of Continental armies. Prince Maurice, the new deliverer of the Netherlands, advancing to take Nieuport, found his own army cut off and in danger of annihilation at the hands of the redoubtable Spaniards. Some troops had already given way; the liberties of Holland hung upon a thread, but the little English force of Vere was equal to the occasion, and bore the brunt of an action which has justly been compared to Inkermann, until the tardy arrival of reinforcements completed the work, and for the first time before Rocroy, the Spanish infantry were fairly beaten on the open field. We need not do more than mention the exploits of Essex at Cadiz, of Mountjoy and Leveson at Kinsale, of Cumberland at Puerto Rico, to prove that the spirit of Drake had not died with him. But for all this, there was a sustained incapacity to use victories to the best advantage, to advance from defence to attack, and from victory to empire. Spasmodic and ill-concerted were the best efforts to bring Philip to his knees. The treasure fleet, which was afterwards to fall a prey to a Dutchman, eluded all our efforts. Lisbon
remained untaken; Cadiz was taken but not held; a naval base was never established in the West Indies. Dissension too often prevailed between the commanders and indiscipline amongst the fleet; the orders of the Government displayed ignorance of the first principles of strategy, and when Hawkins had ceased to be responsible for the finding of the ships, they, too, showed a falling off from the high standard of the Armada year. The heavy taxes which, despite the best efforts of Elizabeth, had to be imposed to meet the expenses of the war, were borne with growing discontent, and murmurs, ominous of the Long Parliament, were heard all over the country. Finally, the Elizabethans showed scant capacity for empirebuilding. Raleigh could see visions, golden and prophetic, but his Plantation of Virginia was a failure, and his own hands were not clean. A deeper truth, perchance, than its author realized lay within that solemn prophecy, But yet the end is not."
HE works of Shakespeare are the quintessence of Elizabethan patriotism. Not the oration of Pericles over the Athenian dead nor the prophecy of Anchises among the shades reveals a nobler intensity of love for the motherland, nor has any poet or orator bodied it, as he did, in such an infinite variety of forms, in prince and soldier and peasant, in a Henry V, in a Brutus, in the ragged mob which followed Cade to London.
Some apology seems necessary for adding to the already immense list of Shakespeare criticisms, the very names of which fill whole volumes of the British Museum catalogue. But we have yet to come across any treatise that deals satisfactorily with this, one of the most important aspects of his work. It is customary to allude in rather vague terms to Shakespeare's patriotism, as if it were a matter of course. Foreign critics find something peculiarly "English" about plays like "Henry V," something crude and almost barbarous, but beyond this they are not wont to go. But Shakespeare's patriotism is something catholic and unique, inconceivable a decade before his time and almost forgotten twenty years after his death, an ideal beyond the scope even of his greatest contemporaries.
Another reason for venturing upon this survey is the almost inconceivable muddle in which, despite the work of Goethe and Schlegel, of Coleridge and Swinburne, the criticism of Shakespeare still remains. The multitude of