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Infus'd itself in thee; for thy de

sires Are wolfish, bloody, starv'd and

ravenous." Merchant of Venice, iv. 1 (1600).

483 DEPOPULATION OF TOWNS From Shake-speare

From Bacon Sicinius. What is the city but "I should be sorry to see within the people ?

this kingdom that piece of Ovid's Citizens.


verse prove true, 'Now there are The people are the city.

crops where Troy was ;' so in . . . . . . . England, instead of a whole town Sicinius. Where is this viper full of people, none but green That would depopulate the city ? 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 ParCoriolanus, iii. 1 (1623). liament (1597).

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.


VAIN SPECULATIONS “ Thus the native hue of resolution “The same unprofitable subIs sicklied o'er with the pale cast of tility or curiosity is of two sorts ; thought ;

either in the subject itself that And enterprises of great pith and they handle, when it is a fruitless moment,

speculation or controversy, or in With this regard, their currents the method of handling, ... that turn awry,

rests not so much upon evidence And lose the name of action."

of truth as upon particular conHamlet, ii. 1 (1604). futations and solutions of every

scruple, cavillation and objection; breeding for the most part one question as fast as it solveth another; . . . 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.



From Shake-speare Hamlet. Why do you go about to recover the wind of me, as if you would drive me into a toil?

From Bacon “The honest and just bounds of observation by one person upon another extend no farther than to un. Guildenstern. O! my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too unmannerly.

Hamlet. I do not well understand that. Will you play upon this pipe ?

. . . . . . Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me. You would play upon me; you would seem to know my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my mystery; you would sound me from the lowest note to the top of my compass. 'S blood! do you think I am easier to be play'd on than a pipe ?” Hamlet, iii. 2 (1603).

derstand him sufficiently, whereby not to give him offence, or whereby to be able to give him faithful counsel, or whereby to stand upon reasonable guard and caution in respect of a man's self; but to be speculative into another man, to the end to know how to work him, or wind him, or govern him, proceedeth from a heart that is double and cloven.” – Advancement of Learning (1603-5).

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 hiin, 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.


From Shake-speare

From Bacon " Life is as tedious as a twice-told "Only think how often you do tale."

the same thing over and over. King John, iii. 4 (1623). 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).


From Shake-speare

From Bacon “O sir, we quarrel in point, by Item, no knight of this order the book. ... You may avoid shall, in point of honor, resort to that, too (lie direct) with an “if. any grammar rules out of the I knew when seven justices could books De Duello; but shall out of not take up a quarrel ; but when his own brave mind and natural the parties were met themselves, courage deliver himself from one of them thought but of an . if,' scorns.” as, 'If you said so, then I said so;'

Gesta Grayorum (1594). 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:

“ 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.

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From Shake-speare

From Bacon Dromio S. There's no time for "A fine is a real agreement ... a man to recover his hair that grows that one man shall have [land] bald by nature.

from another to him and his heirs, Ant. S. May he not do it by or to him for his life, or to him fine and recovery?

and the heirs or heirs male of his Dromio S. Yes, to pay a fine for body, or for years certain. It is a a periwig, and recover the lost hair record of great credit. ... Reof another man."

covery 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).

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

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