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From Shake-speare

"For so live the honey-bees.

They have a king."



Henry V., i. 2 (1600).

This is, of course, an error, for bees have no king. But it is one of classical origin. Virgil says:

"The bees of a hive are very obsequious to their king. They attend him in crowds, often raising him on their shoulders and exposing their own bodies in his defence."- Georgics, iv.


The truth is, the author of the Plays drew his knowledge of natural history, not from nature, but from books.

"If this [song] penetrate, I will consider your music the better; if it do not, it is a vice in her ears which horse-hairs... can never mend."

– Cymbeline, ii. 3 (1623). "Your tale, sir, would cure deaf



The Tempest, i. 2 (1623).

From Bacon

"The king in a hive of bees." Apothegm (1624).

"Fresh tears Stood on her cheeks, as doth the honey-dew


Upon a gather'd lily."

Titus Andronicus, iii. 1 (1600). "Like the bee, culling from every flower

The virtuous sweets."


2 Henry IV., iv. 5 (1623).

"To cure deafness is difficult." - Promus (1594–96).

"Nothing is so hard to cure as the ear." - De Augmentis (1622).

"Observe how the mind doth gather this excellent dew of knowledge, like unto that which the poet speaketh of, aërial honey,' distilling and contriving it out of partic ulars natural and artificial, as the flowers of the field and garden."Advancement of Learning (1603-5).

It was the opinion of Aristotle that honey comes from dew, and that bees gather from flowers nothing but wax. Bacon notices this theory in his Natural History, saying of it: "I have heard from one that was industrious in husbandry, that the labor of the bee is about the wax; and that he hath known, in the beginning of May, honey-combs empty of honey, and within a fortnight, when the sweet dews fall, filled like a cellar." Then he states his own opinion, agreeing with the author of the plays: "for honey, the bee maketh or gathereth it." The old superstition lingers with both authors, however, in the term "honey-dew."



From Shake-speare

I do note
That Grief and Patience, rooted in
him, both

Do mingle their spurs together.
Grow, Patience,
And let the stinking elder, Grief,
His perishing root, with the in- 25).
creasing vine."


Cymbeline, iv. 2 (1623).

From Bacon

"Take a service-tree, or a cornelian-tree, or an elder-tree, which we know have fruits of harsh and binding juice, and set them near a vine or fig-tree, and see whether the grapes or figs will not be the sweeter."-Natural History (1622

The ancients believed in the existence of sympathy and antipathy among plants. They cited particularly the case of the colewort and the vine, declaring that the vine, whenever it finds itself creeping near its enemy, the colewort, turns away. Bacon discusses the same subject in his Natural History, and suggests that an experiment be made to determine whether or not the elder-tree (among others) be also inimical to the vine. The author of 'Cymbeline' not only makes mention of the same singular theory, as stated in Pliny and Porta, but also applies it in connection with the vine to the elder-tree (instead of the colewort), as Bacon did.

1 Used transitively, equivalent to killing.

From Shake-speare

Nothing in his life Became him like the leaving it; he



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From Bacon


"Sir Thomas More, at the very instant of death, when he had already laid his head on the fatal As one that had been studied in his block, lifted it up a little and, death, gently raising aside his beard, To throw away the dearest thing which was somewhat long, said, he ow'd,1 'This at least has not offended the king.'"-De Augmentis (1622).

As 't were a careless trifle.”

Macbeth, i. 4 (1623).

The commentators think that the author of 'Macbeth,' in writing the above passage, had in mind the Earl of Essex. This is clearly a mistake. The Earl's conduct on the scaffold was marked by deep seriousness and the most scrupulous regard for propriety. He spent the entire time to the moment of his death either in prayer or in imploring the prayers of others. On the other hand, Bacon pronounces the demeanor of Sir Thomas More on the scaffold as a miracle of human nature, because More died with a jest in his mouth, or threw away

"The dearest thing he ow'd, As 't were a careless trifle." 2





Love's Labor's Lost, v. 1 (1598). umberland MSS. (circa 1598).

1 In the sense of owned.


2 Mr. Spedding's want of discrimination is shown by his comment on above passage from Macbeth': “If Shakspere had not died two years before the death of Sir Walter Raleigh, we must have thought these lines referred to him." And yet Mr. Spedding's own account of Sir Walter Raleigh's behavior on the scaffold that he met his death "with the most unaffected and cheerful composure, the finest humanity, the most courtly grace and good humor, and yet with no unse nseemly levity” — entirely negatives his opinion on this subject.

This is a perfectly serious word, meaning honor in a high degree, with two stem roots and three suffixes, combined according to the rules of medieval Latin. We find it in a charter granted by the See of Rome to a religious house in Genoa in 1187, but not printed until 1644; in Dante's De Vulgare Eloquio, written in or about 1304, translated from the original Latin into Italian and printed for the first time in 1529; in the History of Henry VII.' of Italy by Albertus Musatus, a work composed between 1313 (date of Henry's death) and 1330 (date of the author's death), but first printed in 1635; and in the Complaint of Scotland,' anonymous, published at St. Andrews in 1549.



The several passages in these works are as follows:

"Proinde considerata devotione, quam erga nos, et Ecclesiam Ianuensem, nec non et honorificabilitudinitate Ecclesiæ tuæ, Parochiam quam Ecclesia jam dicta in præsentiarum noscitur obtinere, et à quadraginta annis possedit, tibi et successoribus tuis confirmamus, et præsentis scripti patrocinio communimus."Italia Sacra, Tomus Quartus, page 845 (1187).

"Posset adhuc inveniri plurium syllabarum vocabulum, sive verbum; sed quia capacitatem nostrorum omnium carminum superexcedit, ratione præsenti non videtur obnoxium; sicut est illud onorificabilitudinitate, quod duodenâ perficitur syllabâ in Vulgari, et in grammaticâ tredenâ perficitur, in duobus obliquis."1. Vulgari Eloquio, lib. ii. cap. vii. (cir. 1304).


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"Nam et maturius cum rex prima Italia ostia contigisset, legatos illo dux ipse direxerat cum regalibus exeniis Honorificabilitudinitatis et obsequentiæ ullius causa, quibus etiam inhibitum pedes osculari regios.”— De Gestis Henrici VII. page 17 (1313–1330).

1 Translation of the passage from Dante:

"A name or word might be found with more syllables still; but as it would exceed the capacity of all our lines, it does not appear to fall into the present discussion. Such a word is onorificabilitudinitate, which runs in Italian to twelve syllables, and in Latin to thirteen, in two of the oblique cases."

The case endings to which Dante refers are, of course, the dative and ablative plural, in which the word (as used in 'Love's Labor's Lost') has thirteen syllables, thus: honorificabilitudinitatibus.

"Ther vas ane uther that writ in his verkis, gaudet Honorificabilitudinitatibus."1 Complaint of Scotland (1549).

The first edition of 'Love's Labor's Lost' was printed in 1598; the play was probably written in or about 1588.



From Shake-speare

"I saw him run after a gilded butterfly; and, when he caught it, he let it go again; and after it again."-Coriolanus, i. 3 (1623).

From Bacon

"To be like a child following a bird, which when he is nearest, flyeth away and 'lighteth a little before; and then the child after it again." Letter to Greville (1595).

Professor Nichol refers to this extraordinary parallelism in his Biography of Bacon, showing by dates that Bacon could not have copied from Shake-speare, nor Shake-speare from Bacon. The sentence from Bacon is found in a private letter, written in 1595, but not made public till 1657. The production of 'Coriolanus' is assigned to a date not earlier than 1612. The play was first printed in 1623.

"Cæsar. I am constant as the northern star,

Of whose true fixed and resting quality

There is no fellow in the firmament. The skies are painted with unnumber'd sparks;

They are all fire, and every one doth shine;

But there's but one in all doth hold

his place.



"He [Julius Caesar] referred all things to himself, and was the truest centre of his own actions." -Character of Julius Cæsar (circa 1601).

1 First discovered by Mr. George Stronach of Edinburgh, and communicated to the public by the poet Henry Dryerre, Esq., in the People's Friend (Dundee), May 16, 1898.

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