Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

Bacon made a special study of physiognomy, not only to show how "lineaments of the body disclose the character of the mind," but also how the mind itself is affected by the condition of the body. His object was, of course, to gain a knowledge of physical remedies applicable to mental disease. Shake-speare had made the same investigation.

[blocks in formation]

The "nearest way" for Macbeth was through murder; the nearest way to attain a fortune (says Bacon) is by "dispensations from the laws of charity and integrity." "He that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent" (Essay of Riches').

[blocks in formation]

It will be seen that Bacon and the author of the Plays made the same singular blunder in their earlier writings in the use of the word Sabbaoth (host) for Sabbath (the Hebrew day of rest). Both of them, however, subsequently and (it would appear) simultaneously corrected it; the one in the second edition of the Advancement,' published in 1623, and the other in the folio editions of Richard III.' and the Merchant of Venice," published also in 1623. The same blunder is found in Bacon's 'Confession of Faith,' written before 1603.

407

DISCOURSE OF REASON

"O God! a beast that wants dis-
course of reason
Would have mourn'd longer!"
Hamlet, i. 2 (1603).

"Martin Luther, conducted, no doubt, by an higher Providence, but in discourse of reason."— Advancement of Learning (1603–5).

[blocks in formation]

The word discourse is derived from the Latin discurrere, to run to and fro, that is, in mentality, from one fact or consideration to another, in order that we may compare and judge. It is a strict Latinism, found in the writings of Caxton in the fifteenth, of Eden in the sixteenth, and of Florio in the seventeenth centuries.

"May it not be that in the few instances where Shakespeare uses the phrase in reference to the operations of the mind (I speak with great hesitation 1) that its Latin origin was uppermost in his mind?"-FURNESS' Variorum Edition of Shakespeare, vi. 268.

408

THE FALL OF MAN

From Shake-speare "Ignorance is the curse of God." 2 Henry VI., iv. 7 (1623).

From Bacon

"The true end of knowledge is the restitution of man to the sov ereignty and power (for whensoever he shall be able to call the creatures by their true names he shall again command them) which he had in his first state of creation."- Valerius Terminus.

Ignorance caused man's fall, says Shake-speare.

Knowledge will restore man to his first estate, says Bacon. The Valerius Terminus preceded the 'Advancement of Learning,' the exact date unknown.

1 The fear of the commentators lest they ascribe too much learning to the author of the Plays is pitiable. The fate of Acteon is continually before their eyes.

[blocks in formation]

"O! how thy worth with manners

may I sing,

When thou art all the better part

of me?

What can mine own praise to mine

own self bring?

And what is 't but mine own when
I praise thee?

Even for this let us divided live
And our dear love lose name of

single one,

"The resolution of Erophilus [Love] is fixed; he renounceth Philautia [Self-love] and all her enchantments. For the Queen's recreation, he will confer with his muse; for her defence and honor, he will sacrifice his life in the wars, hoping to be embalmed in the sweet odors of her remembrance; to her service will he consecrate all his watchful endeavors; and will ever bear in his heart the picture of her beauty; in his actions, of her will; and in his forSonnet 39 (1609). tune, of her grace and favor. So that I conclude I have traced him the way to that which hath been granted to some few, amare et sapere, to love and be wise.". Essex Device of Love and Self-love (1595).

That by this separation I may give That due to thee which thou deserv'st alone."

In this sonnet, as indeed throughout the entire body of the Shakespearean Sonnets, the poet is represented as a dual being, himself as a man and himself as a muse, divided and yet one. He even calls himself, in honest recognition of his own worth, the tenth muse; and to this, the "better part " of him, he gives all his love.

Bacon makes a similar distinction in the Essex Device' (1595). Love of the Queen and Self-love here contend for the mastery. The former prevails, because only through the Queen can fame, honor, and power, which are the objects of Self-love, be attained. The two are thus in the last analysis identical. He only who seeks the happiness of another, in total abnegation of self, shall gain his own. "Whoso loseth his life for my sake [in behalf of others], he shall find it.”

[blocks in formation]

She never had so sweet a change- fountain of the great river of the

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »