‘Thy promises are like Adonis’ gardens
That one day bloom’d and fruitful were the next.’
[1 Henry VI, 1.6.6-7]
The Dauphin’s words in praise of Joan of Arc are undercut by a deep irony. What she promised has indeed come about and with miraculous speed, but victory will prove ephemeral. Her inspirations have somehow violated the natural order. Similarly today, science expects too much of nature, forcing her to flower one day and give fruit the next. This desire to skip the maturing process extends to the way we bring up our children. They are brimful of knowledge, but the emotional life – which requires mulching for the soul’s flowers to appear – is neglected. In place of patience we make brave promises. Our children grow up too soon, and their badge is immaturity.
Take Physic, Pomp!