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The word weed, in the sense in which it is used in the above passages on either side, means garment, but a garment such as one wears to express condition of some sort. Shakespeare makes use of it over and over again in this signification, as the following examples will show: To express bereavement:
“ My mourning weeds are laid aside.” — 3 Henry VI.
It will be observed that in ‘King Lear' Cordelia asks
“With a proud heart he wore
This was the “gown of humility," put on by candidates for office in Rome. To express sex:
“Where lie my maiden weeds." — Twelfth Night.
“In thy woman's weeds.” — Ibid. To express nationality:
“Weeds of Athens he doth wear.” — A Midsummer-Night's Dream.
“I'll disrobe me of these Italian weeds.” — Cymbeline. To express servitude:
“Away with slavish weeds, and servile thoughts !
To express official character :
“Were they but attir'd in grave weeds,
Rome could afford no tribune like to these.” - Titus Andronicus. To express peace (in the garb of a citizen, as distinguished from a soldier's uniform):
“ Hector in his weeds of peace.” — Troilus and Cressida.
Do give a life ; no shepherdess, but Flora,
It is to its use by both authors to signify a disguise (as shown in our parallelism), however, that we wish to call the particular attention of our readers. In Sonnet 76 the word unquestionably is so used.; for, notwithstanding the fact that these sonnets had been in private circulation for years, and were openly published in 1609, as Shakespeare's, the writer confessed in the stanza quoted that every word did almost tell his name. The true name of the author must, therefore, have been concealed.
This inference is greatly strengthened by a confession in one of Bacon's prayers; a prayer composed by him on the occasion of his downfall, and said by Addison to resemble the devotion of an angel rather than that of a man. The confession is in these words :
“ I have loved thy assemblies; I have mourned for the divisions of thy church ; I have delighted in the brightness of thy sanctuary. This vine, which thy right hand hath planted in this nation, I have ever prayed unto thee that it might have the first and the latter rain; and that it might stretch her branches to the seas and to the floods. The state and bread of the poor and oppressed have been precious in mine eyes; I have hated all cruelty and hardness of heart; I have (though in a despised weed) procured the good of all men.”
That Bacon used the word weed in this confession in the sense of a disguise appears from the following considerations : 1. He always uses it, so far as we know, in this sense. See the passages above quoted from him as parallels.
2. He characterizes the composition to which he referred, whatever it was, as “ despised.” No term could have been selected more appropriately expressing public sentiment at that time on the subject of theatrical performances. Playactors were denounced by law as vagabonds; they did not dare to appear on the public streets of London without protection-papers signed by some nobleman who called them his servants; otherwise they were liable to be arrested and to have their ears bored with hot irons, not less (according to the specific provisions of a statute) than one inch in circumference. The theatres themselves were the resorts of the most degraded people of the city. No woman of good character could visit them without wearing a mask.
3. By means of these mysterious compositions he had, as he says, “ procured the good of all men.” Bacon, almost alone among his contemporaries, viewed the drama as an educational institution of high value. He recommended that it be taught, both in theory and in practice, in public schools. He even drafted the plan of a building for the purpose, including dressing-rooms for the actors.
4. Bacon was the acknowledged author of no compositions that were despised. This is proof that his authorship of those described in the prayer was unacknowledged and secret.
From Bacon “Good wine needs no bush."
“ Good wine needs no bush.” – As You Like It, Epilogue (1623). Promus (1594-96).
USELESS LIFE “ • Let me not live," quoth he, “When you cannot be what you • After my flame lacks oil.'” have been, there is no reason why
All's Well, i. 2 (1623). you should wish to live.” – Ibid.
From Bacon “ By my body's action teach my “In what manner and how far mind
do the humors and temperaments A most inherent baseness.”
of the body alter or work upon Coriolanus, iii. 2 (1623). the mind ?” – Advancement of
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.
VICE BY NATURE “What he cannot help in his “It were a strange speech nature,
which, spoken or spoken oft, You account a vice in him!” should cure a man of a vice to
Coriolanus, i. 1 (1623). which he is subject by nature."
THE NEAREST WAY, THE FOULEST
“I fear thy nature; “It is in life as it is in ways; It is too full o' the milk of human the shortest way is commonly the kindness
foulest.” – Advancement of LearnTo catch the nearest way."
ing (1603-5). Macbeth, i. 5 (1623).
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').
From Bacon “Come the next Sabbaoth and I l “Sacred and inspired Divinity, will content you."
the Sabbaoth and port of all men's Richard III., iii. 2 (quarto | | labors.” – Advancement of Learned., 1597).
Jing (first ed., 1605).
“Sacred and inspired Divinity, “Come the next Sabbath and I the Sabbath and port of all men's will content you."
labors.” – Advancement of LearnIbid. (folio ed., 1623).) (ing (second ed., 1623). “ By our holy Sabbaoth have I)
sworn To have the due and forfeit of my
bond.” Merchant of Venice, iv. 1
(quarto ed., 1600). “ By our holy Sabbath have I
sworn To have the due and forfeit of my bond."
Ibid. (folio ed., 1623).)
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.
DISCOURSE OF REASON “ God ! a beast that wants dis- “ Martin Luther, conducted, no course of reason
doubt, by an higher Providence, Would have mourn'd longer!” but in discourse of reason.” – Ad
Hamlet, i. 2 (1603). vancement of Learning (1603-5).