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Here we have a perfect illustration of each one of the five kinds of divination mentioned by Bacon.


From Shake-speare

From Bacon “ Not (1) poppy, nor (3) man- “Simple opiates are . . . (1) the dragora,

plant and seed of the poppy, (2) Nor all the drowsy syrups of the henbane, (3) mandragora. ..." world

Natural History (1622-25). Shall ever medicine to that sweet

sleep Which thou owdst yesterday."

Othello, iii. 3 (1622). “ Cleo. Give me to drink (3) man

dragora. Char. Why, madame ? Cleo. That I might sleep out this

great gap of time My Anthony is away.”

Anthony and Cleopatra, i. 5

(1623). “Upon my secure hour thy uncle

stole, With juice of cursed (2) hebenon

[hen bane] in a vial, And in the porches of mine ear did

pour The leperous distillment.”

Hamlet, i. 5 (1603). Both authors evidently made a study of anæsthetics : Bacon, for his Natural History, which was not published until after his death and which, therefore, could not have been the source of Shake-speare's knowledge of the subject; and Shake-speare, from time to time for several of the Plays, exact dates unknown. Bacon's study was of course original, for he mentions many opiates not found in Shake-speare.

The two authors, still hand in hand as it were, pursued the inquiry farther; they investigated not only artificial

methods of inducing sleep, but also those that cause death to be painless. Under this head Bacon specifies three, two of which are given by Shake-speare. Indeed, the dramatist makes one of his characters (Cleopatra) an avowed specialist (as Bacon was) in this singular branch of science, thus:


From Shake-speare

From Bacon “Bring down the devil, for he must “A man who was banged and not die

afterwards resuscitated, on being So sweet a death as hanging.” asked what he had suffered said

Titus Andronicus, v. 1 (1600). that he felt no pain.” History of “Hast thou the pretty worm of Life and Death (1623). Nilus there,

“ The death that is most without That kills and pains not ?” pain hath been noted to be upon takAnthony and Cleopatra, v. 2 (1623). ing a potion of hemlock. ... The “She (Cleopatra] hath pursued poison of the asp, that Cleopatra conclusions infinite

used, hath some affinity with it.” Of easy ways to die.” Ibid.


The passage quoted above from ‘Hamlet' was doubtless suggested by what Pliny says of hebenon or henbane; namely, that it is a dangerous poison, especially when “ injected into the ear.” Pliny was not translated into English until fifteen years at least after the play of Hamlet' was first drafted.

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RECOGNITION OF FRIENDS “ I have surely seen him ;

“It is mentioned in some stories His favour is familiar to me; Boy, that where children have been exThou hast look'd thyself into my posed, or taken away young from grace,

their parents, and afterward have And art mine own. I know not been brought into their parents' why, nor wherefore."

presence, the parents, though they Cymbeline, v. 5 (1623). have not known them, have felt

a secret joy or other alteration thereupon.” – Natural History (1622–25).

In the above passage from Shake-speare, it is Imogen who comes disguised after a long separation into her father's presence, producing upon him the effect noted in the play and described by Bacon.

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From Bacon “ As the very centre of the earth, “ Bodies fall towards the centre Drawing all things to it."

of the earth.” — Union of the Troilus and Cressida, iv. 2 Kingdoms (1603). (1609).

“ The ancients added the math“I'll believe as soon

ematical fancy that heavy bodies This whole earth may be bor'd, and would adhere to the centre of the that the moon

earth, even if the earth were bored May through the centre creep." through.” History of Heavy and Midsummer-Night's Dream, iii. 2 Light (1623).


The opinion that, if a hole were bored through the earth, bodies falling into it from either end would stop at the centre, or as near the centre as possible, was elaborated by Erasmus, thus :

Curio. If any god should bore through the centre of the earth, quite down to the antipodes in a perpendicular line, and a stone were let fall into it, whither would it go ?

Alphius. To the centre of the earth ; there all heavy bodies rest.
Cur. What if the antipodes should let fall a stone on their side ?

Alp. Then one stone would meet the other about at the centre and stop there.

Cur. But what if by the vehemence of its motion the stone should pass beyond the centre ?

Alp. It would return to the centre again, just as, when thrown up into the air, it returns again to the earth.

Cur. But suppose any one should bore through the earth, but not through the centre itself, as, for instance, one hundred furlongs distant on one side from it, where would a stone fall then ?

Alp. It would go straight to a point opposite the centre and rest there, and at the left hand of the hole if the centre were at the left."

Familiar Colloquies. The 'Familiar Colloquies' was first printed in Latin (as already stated) in 1519, but not translated into English until 1671. Bacon is known to have become thoroughly acquainted with the Latin works of Erasmus as early as 1594.1

From Shake-speare

From Bacon "The body is with the king, “ Although his body-politic of but the king is not with the King of England and his bodybody.” — Hamlet, iv. 3 (1601). politic of King of Scotland be sev

eral and distinct, yet his natural person, which is one, hath an operation upon both and createth a privity between them.” — Speech in Court (1608).

The passage quoted above from ‘Hamlet' seems to have grown out of the new relations then existing between Scotland and the King. James had left Scotland the year before (1603), but he claimed that, though separated in person from its body-politic, he was still united with it as closely as ever. “I am the head; it is my body," said he, in his first address to the English parliament. Bacon became at once a strenuous advocate of the political union of the two kingdoms, one of his arguments being that, although the King in his natural body was not with the body-politic of Scotland, yet the body-politic of Scotland was still with him.”

1 Bacon seems to have caught a glimpse of one of the laws of gravity, – namely, that attraction is in proportion to mass,- for he asserted that while six men might be required to move a certain stone at the surface of the earth, two could easily move the same stone at the bottom of a mine ; the difference in weight being due, of course, to the counteraction of a part of the earth's mass, where the stone is beneath the surface. Indeed, he finally rejected the common opinion that bodies are always drawn toward the centre of the earth (a mathematical point, as he called it), because, he said, bodies can be attracted only by bodies, and not by place. Had he known the other law, discovered by Newton, that attraction is in inverse ratio to the square of the distance, he would have seen his mistake in regard to the stone.

3 See Dr. Robert M. Theobald in Journal of Bacon Society.

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From Shake-speare

From Bacon
“ Our poesy is as a gum which oozes “Poesy is a plant that cometh
From whence 't is nourished.” of the lust of the earth, without a
Timon of Athens, i. 1 (1623). formal seed.” – Advancement of

Learning (1603–5).


A remarkable definition of poetry, given by Bacon eighteen years before it appeared in any form in Shake-speare. “Timon of Athens' was written after Bacon's downfall in 1621.

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WHEN WRONG IS JUSTIFIABLE “ To do a great right, do a “The question is of a great deal little wrong."

of good to ensue of a small inMerchant of Venice, iv. 1 (1600). justice.” – Advancement of Learn

ing (1603-5).

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CIRCUMLOCUTION “ King Richard. Stanley, what “It is strange how long some news with you ?

men will lie in wait to speak someStanley. None good, my liege, to what they desire to say, and how

please you with the hearing, far about they will fetch.”- Essay Nor none so bad, but well may be of Cunning (1625).

reported. King Richard. Heyday, a riddle!

neither good nor bad ? What need'st thou run so many

miles about, When thou may'st tell thy tale

the nearest way? Once more, what news ? "

King Richard III., iv. 4 (1597).

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