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From Shake-speare "Sicinius. What is the city but
the people? Citizens.
True, The people are the city.
"I should be sorry to see within this kingdom that piece of Ovid's verse prove true, 'Now there are crops where Troy was;' so in England, instead of a whole town full of people, none but green fields, only a shepherd and a dog. A sharp and vigorous law For we are peremptory to dispatch had need to be made against these This viperous traitor." viperous natures."- Speech in Parliament (1597).
Coriolanus, iii. 1 (1623).
On this subject Bacon took very strong ground. He introduced a bill in favor of towns into the House of Commons; and though the Peers were against him- the Earl of Essex even coming to London expressly to join the opposition - he carried it through triumphantly. The result was one of the greatest victories of his parliamentary career.
Hamlet, iii. 1 (1604).
VAIN SPECULATIONS "Thus the native hue of resolution Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;
"The same unprofitable subtility or curiosity is of two sorts; either in the subject itself that
And enterprises of great pith and they handle, when it is a fruitless
speculation or controversy, or in the method of handling, . . . that rests not so much upon evidence of truth as upon particular confutations and solutions of every scruple, cavillation and objection; breeding for the most part one question as fast as it solveth an
With this regard, their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action."
other; .. so as it is not possible but this quality of knowledge must fall under popular contempt. . . when people see such digladiation about subtilities and matter of no use or moment."— Advancement of Learning (1603–5).
Bacon gives us here an exact description of Hamlet's great soliloquy on Suicide and Doubt. He is discussing the distempers of learning, which he finds to be three in number: "the first, fantastical learning; the second, contentious learning; and the last, delicate learning," - summing them up respectively as "vain imaginations, vain altercations and vain affectations." Under the second head he places "vain matter," which he declares to be "worse than vain words;" matter, like certain substances in nature, that "putrefies and corrupts into worms;" that is, "into subtile, idle, unwholesome and, as it were, vermiculate questions, which have indeed a kind of quickness and life of spirit, but no soundness of matter or goodness of quality."
Colonel Moore, to whom we owe this interesting and instructive parallelism, says:
"Hamlet's question dissolved itself in this manner: one springing up after another before he could get the first one answered. To be or not to be? is death a sleep? is the sleep of death disturbed by dreams? and so on,—all unwholesome questions, 'without soundness of matter, or goodness of quality.'"
The result of indulgence in such speculations is, according to the dramatist, that one loses power of action; according to Bacon, that one becomes subject to popular contempt.
WORKING OTHERS FOR SELFISH ENDS
"Hamlet. Why do you go about to recover the wind of me, as if you would drive me into a toil?
"The honest and just bounds of observation by one person upon another extend no farther than to un
The colloquy between Hamlet and Guildenstern gives us the best conceivable illustration of the precept laid down by Bacon; namely, that while it is right and proper for us to investigate the character of those with whom we deal to the extent of knowing how to help them and how to protect our own interests, we are not justified in going any farther and acquiring secret confidences to any selfish or injurious end. Guildenstern, who was one of Hamlet's old friends, had been summoned by the king to Elsinore for this very purpose, "to work him, or wind hin, or govern him," — and thus to compass Hamlet's death. In doing so, he had, of course, a "double or cloven heart." For this parallelism, also, we are indebted to Colonel Moore.
TEDIUM OF LIFE
From Shake-speare "Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale."
King John, iii. 4 (1623).
"Only think how often you do the same thing over and over. Food, sleep, play, come round in a
perpetual circle; one might wish to die, not only from fortitude, or misery or wisdom, but merely from disgust and weariness of life.”. Advancement of Learning (1603-5).
BOOK ON DUELLING
"O sir, we quarrel in point, by the book. . . . You may avoid that, too (lie direct) with an 'if.' I knew when seven justices could not take up a quarrel; but when the parties were met themselves, one of them thought but of an if,' as, 'If you said so, then I said so;' and they shook hands, and swore brothers. Your 'if' is the only peacemaker; much virtue in 'if.'"
As You Like It, v. 4 (1623).
It is practically certain that the book to which the author
of As You Like It' alludes is one written by Vincentio Saviolo and published in 1594; for a paragraph from one of its chapters is transferred almost bodily into the play, as given above. The paragraph is as follows:
"Item, no knight of this order shall, in point of honor, resort to any grammar rules out of the books De Duello; but shall out of his own brave mind and natural courage deliver himself from
Gesta Grayorum (1594).
"Conditional lies be such as are given conditionally, as if a man should say or write these words: if thou hast said that I have offered my lord abuse, thou liest; or if thou sayest so hereafter, thou shalt lie. Of these kinds of lies, given in this manner, often arise much contention in words."
It is also practically certain that Bacon, who was the chief contriver of the Revels at Gray's Inn in 1594, refers to the same book, and in the same spirit of ridicule, in the "orders of the court;" for he mentions it by its chief title, De Duello. And the book was published in the same year.
FINE AND RECOVERY
"Dromio S. There's no time for a man to recover his hair that grows bald by nature.
Ant. S. May he not do it by fine and recovery ?
"A fine is a real agreement. that one man shall have [land] from another to him and his heirs, or to him for his life, or to him and the heirs or heirs male of his body, or for years certain. It is a record of great credit. . . . Recovery is where, for assurance of
Comedy of Errors, ii. 2 (1623). lands, the parties do agree that one
shall begin an action real against the other, as though he had good right to the land, and at the day appointed he maketh default; and thereupon the court is to give judgment against him. .. By this device, grounded upon strict principles of law, the first tenant loseth the land and hath nothing; but it is by his own agreement, for assurance to him that bought it." - The Use of the Law (date uncertain).
Dromio S. Yes, to pay a fine for a periwig, and recover the lost hair of another man."
The legal procedure involved in a case of fine and recovery is so abstruse that Blackstone, in entering upon the subject in his Commentaries, says: "I am greatly apprehensive that its form and method will not be easily understood by the student who is not yet acquainted with the course of judicial proceedings." But we find the author of the 'Comedy of Errors' so familiar with the law that he actually revels in puns upon it. The explanation is simple. The play was first produced before the judges and lawyers of Gray's Inn, on a festive occasion when Francis Bacon was master of ceremonies, and so clearly the leading spirit that the entire proceedings finally centred upon him as the "conjurer."
William Shakspere, the reputed dramatist, not only took