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From Bacon “We have strict statutes and most “ It has been well said that no biting laws,
one should be wiser than the laws;' Which for these fourteen years we get this must be understood of have let sleep."
waking and not of sleeping laws." Measure for Measure, i. 3 (1623).
De Augmentis (1622).
In the De Augmentis Bacon devotes several aphorisms to the consideration of obsolete laws. He regards such laws as a source of danger in the influence which they naturally exert on the public mind regarding all law. To repeal them from time to time was the one great practical reform which he constantly urged upon the government, and it is the identical reform which the author of 'Measure for Measure' sought to illustrate and enforce in that play. Bacon advised the frequent appointment of commissions to do this work; the Duke in the play actually appoints one.
Judge Holmes calls attention to the fact that both authors make the possession of “power and place" a necessary condition to the accomplishment of this end. “Good thoughts are little better than good dreams, except they be put in act; and that cannot be without power and place,” says Bacon.
“I have deliver'd to Lord Angelo,
A man of stricture and firm abstinence,
My absolute power and place here in Vienna," says the Duke.
Bacon's mind was in a curious state of vacillation regarding the theory of a vacuum in nature. At first he thought that the atoms of which a body is composed must vibrate in a vacuum, as he could not otherwise conceive how bodies contract and expand. This was in 1603. In 1620, when he published the Novum Organum, he said he was in doubt on the subject; but three years later we find him distinctly and emphatically rejecting the theory of a vacuum, whether applied to bodies in space or to the internal constitution of bodies. It is this last state of his mind which is reflected in • Anthony and Cleopatra' of the same date.
SELF-TORTURE IN PROSPECT OF DEATH
The Cardinal in Bed. the most passionate lamentations, “ Cardinal. Bring me unto my and those that fore-run final detrial when you will.
spair, to be accusing, questioning, Died he not in his bed ? Where and torturing of a man's self.” -should be die ?
Colors of Good and Evil (1597). Can I make men live whe'r they
will or no? 0! torture me no more, I will con
Cardinal Beaufort is represented in the drama as having been accessory to the murder of Duke Humphrey, and afterwards (in the above) as “questioning and torturing” himself on the verge (forerunning) of “ final despair.”
THE NOXIOUS IN STUDIES “The prince but studies his com- “There are neither teeth, nor panions
stings, nor venom, nor wreaths and Like a strange tongue, wherein folds of serpents which ought not to gain the language.
to be known. Let no man fear
Bacon refers to this act of presumption several times in his writings, and to the evil effects that flow from it. He mentions twice the case of Timotheus, the Athenian, who, “after he had, in the account he gave to the state of his government, often interlaced this speech, 'And in this Fortune had no part, never prospered in anything he undertook afterwards."
Bacon also cites an instance of the same kind from the life of Julius Cæsar. When it was reported to Cæsar that the omens were unpropitious for his going to the Senate, he was heard to mutter, — “They will be auspicious when I will." His death immediately followed.
NATURE OF WOMAN
From Bacon “This it is to be a peevish girl, “Fortune has somewhat of the That flies her fortune when it nature of a woman, who, if she be follows her.”
too much wooed, is commonly the Two Gentlemen of Verona, v. 2 farther off.” – Advancement of (1623).
53 SECOND CHOICE
“This project “A man ought to have one thing Should have a back, or second, that under another, as, if he cannot might hold,
have that he seeketh in the best If this should blast in proof.” degree, yet to have it in a Hamlet, iv. 7 (1604). second." — Advancement of Learn
CREDITING ONE'S OWN LIE “Who having unto truth, by tell- “It was generally believed that ing oft,
he was indeed Duke Richard. Nay, Made such a sinner of his mem- himself, with long and continual ory
counterfeiting and with oft telling To credit his own lie, he did a lie, was turned by habit almost believe
into the thing he seemed to be; He was indeed the Duke." and from a liar into a believer.” —
Tempest, i. 2 (1623). History of Henry VII. (1621).
A sentiment uttered by Tacitus in his Annals. Bacon quoted the Latin sentence containing it, in the 'Advancement of Learning' (1605), but with an entire misconception of its meaning. He then rendered it thus: “The man who easily believes rumors will as easily manufacture additions to them.” Later in life, however, he seems to have gained a better insight into the passage, the true signification of which, enlarged into a proverb, is, that untruthful persons credit even their own lies. It is so given both in the History of Henry VII.' (1621) and in the 'Tempest' (1623). The qualification
that a lie is to be repeated many times as a condition precedent to such belief is not in Tacitus, but is peculiar alike to Bacon and to Shake-speare, as above.
“Telling oft.” — SHAKE-SPEARE. “Oft telling." — Bacon.
APPROVAL OF ERROR
From Bacon “What damned error, but some “There is scarce any passion sober brow
which has not some branch of Will bless it and approve it with learning to flatter it.” — De Auga text ?”
mentis (1622). Merchant of Venice, iii. 2 (1600).
“If our virtues “What is your virtue, if you Did not go forth of us, 't were all show it not ?" – Gray's Inn Revels alike
(1595). As if we had them not."
“Good thoughts . . . are little Measure for Measure, i. 1 (1623). better than good dreams, except
they be put in act." - Essay of Great Place (1607–12).
JUPITER ASSUMING FORMS OF BEASTS
“Jupiter “The poets tell us that Jupiter Became a bull and bellow'd." in pursuit of his loves assumed
Winter's Tale, iv. 4 (1623). many shapes, — a bull, an eagle, a
“As I slept, methought swan.” — Wisdom of the Ancients Great Jupiter, upon his eagle (1609).
back’d, Appeared to me."
Cymbeline, v. 5 (1623). “You were also, Jupiter, a swan.” Merry Wives of Windsor, v. 5 (1623).
58 CÆSAR DECLINING THE CROWN “ Brutus. Casca, tell ns what hath “Cæsar did extremely affect the
chanc'd to-day that Cæsar name of king; and some were vet looks so sad.
on, as he passed by, in popular