From the beginning to the end of our perceptive and imaginative activity, we are synthesizing the material of experience into unities the independent reality of which is beyond proof, nay, beyond the possibility of a shadow of evidence. And yet the life of intelligence, like the joy of contemplation, lies entirely in the formation and inter-relation of these unities.
Thus was composed the comedy of the Tuileries and the Aveugle de Smyrne, which were printed in 1638; Richelieu had likewise taken part in the composition of the Visionnaires of Desmarets, and supported in a rather remarkable scene the rule of the three unities against its detractors. A new comedy, the Grande Pastorale, was in hand.
Integrally, that essay conveyed the idea of two mighty glaciers of theory, each impelling its own moraine of facts toward a stated point of confluence represented by a magnificent postulate where one section, at least, of the Universal Plan would attain fulfilment, and the Eternal Unities would be so far satisfied.
Tracking, with an attention always alert, the whole process of their production to its starting-point in the deep places of the mind, he seems to realise the but half-conscious intuitions of Hogarth or Shakespeare, and develops the great ruling unities which have swayed their actual work; or "puts up," and takes, the one morsel of good stuff in an old, forgotten writer.
Jonson, indignant at the small estimate in which his arduously composed works were received, ill-humoured by their want of success, looked enviously upon Shakspere, who had not been academically schooled; who audaciously overthrew the customs of the antique drama; who made his own rules, or rather, who made himself a rule to others; who created metrics that were peculiarly his; who chose themes hitherto considered non-permissible, and unusual with Greeks and Romans; who flung the 'three unities' to the winds; and who, nevertheless, had an unheard-of success!
We are obliged, in recording this history, to follow accurately that great authority, the "Calendarium Newgaticum Roagorumque Registerium," of which every lover of literature, in the present day knows the value; and as that remarkable work totally discards all the unities in its narratives, and reckons the life of its heroes only by their actions, and not by periods of time, we must follow in the wake of this mighty ark a humble cock-boat.
The unity of action, which assists the mind, is therefore vital: the unities of time and place, which are apparently meant to deceive it, are empty impostures.
So long as the present centralised States exist, universal peace is impossible; we must, therefore, wish for their dismemberment, in order that, on the ruins of these unities based on force and organised from above downwards by despotism and conquest, free unities organised from below upwards may develop as a free federation of communities with provinces, provinces with nations, and nations with the united States of Europe."
Hence Socrates, in the Republic, speaking of the power of dialectic, says that it surrounds all disciplines like a defensive enclosure, and elevates those that use it to the good itself, and the first unities; that it purifies the eye of the soul; establishes itself in true beings, and, the one principle of all things, and ends at last in that which is no longer hypothetical.
'They were scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd, and one looks out over the world and sees great tracts of country and long dismal generations of time, in which the very thought of unity and charity and human bonds knitting men together has faded from the consciousness of the race, and then one turns to blessed, sweet, simple words that say, 'there shall be one flock and one shepherd, and 'I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me. Drawing thus, He will draw them into the eternal, mighty bond of union that shall never be broken, and is all the more precious and all the more true because it is not a unity like the vulgar unities that express themselves in external associations.