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more leisure than we have, and who are freed from the special difficulties that always attend a first experiment, from carrying our method to higher perfection. True art is progressive.” 1
What, now, was the nature of these writings ? Mr. Spedding says that at one period“ Bacon thought of throwing the exposition of his argument into a dramatic form.” 2 Can there be any doubt that he actually did this? If so, one additional circumstance, now for the first time adverted to, in Gruter's mysterious work, will, we are confident, set it definitely and forever at rest.
In 1645 Gruter published at Leyden an edition of Bacon's De Augmentis, and inserted in it, in accordance with a custom of the time, a pictorial allegory as a frontispiece. We reproduce this picture as our own frontispiece also. In it Bacon appears seated at a table with a large open volume before him. He is pointing to this volume with the index finger of his right hand. With his left arm extended, he is restraining a female figure intent upon carrying a clasped book to a temple, evidently the Temple of Fame, on a distant height. This figure is clad in a beast's skin, and is therefore, we think, the Muse of Tragedy, the word tragedy
1 For the Latin, see Appendix G.
3 Works (Spedding), vii. 363. We find a hint of this in the ' Address to the Great Variety of Readers,' prefixed to the first Shakespeare Folio. Bacon had said in the De Augmentis that he had two methods of communicating his philosophy to the world, — the one, exoteric, or open to all; the other, enigmatic; that is, as he said, designed “by obscurity of delivery to exclude the vulgar (the profane vulgar) from the secrets of knowledge, and to admit those persons only who have received the interpretation of the enigmas through the hands of teachers, or have wits of such sharpness and discernment that they can of themselves pierce the veil.” The readers of the Folio are told, in the Address to which we have referred, to "read him again and again; and if you do not like him, surely you are in some manifest danger not to understand him. And so we leave you to other of his friends who, if you need, can be your guides. If you need them not, you can lead yourselves and others. And such readers we wish him."
This would seem to indicate not only the existence of some hidden inean. ings in the Shake-speare dramas, but also a unity of method and purpose between them and Bacon's acknowledged philosophical works.
being derived from the two Greek words spáryos and qdń, meaning goat and song (literally, goat-song). In ancient Greece the goat was sacred to the drama. At every performance in the theatre, actors and even members of the chorus wore goat-skins.
May we not interpret this allegory as follows ? Bacon is here represented as the author of two works, — one, open and acknowledged; the other, enigmatical, dramatic, and unacknowledged. The restraint exercised upon Gruter in his desire to publish some literary secret about Bacon is suggested by the struggling figure we see with a book, and the nature of the secret itself, not only by the identity of Bacon's companion in the picture, dressed in a goat's skin, but also by the evident relationship existing between the two books, respectively body and soul of the Baconian philosophy.
THE CLASSICAL ELEMENT IN THE PLAYS
1. THE LATIN LANGUAGE
HAKE-SPEARE'S fondness for words derived from
the Latin language, and his use of them in senses true to their original roots, even in in
stances where they had already acquired in English other and sometimes directly opposite meanings, have frequently been noticed. Hallam and Gervinus both call attention to this singular but very scholarly characteristic of the Shake-speare plays. Indeed, the primitive meaning of a Latin word seems generally to have been uppermost in the author's mind, a fact which nothing but a thorough classical education, begun in childhood and culminating somewhat in the ease and naturalness with which one uses one's mother's tongue, can well account for. Some of these words in the same foreign signification may be found, to be sure, in the writings of a few of Shake-speare's contemporaries, but never in obedience to a scholarship so sweeping, so persistent, and so profound. So strong was this idiosyncrasy in Shake-speare and in a minor degree in one or two other playwrights of his time that Ben Jonson, himself a great classical scholar, wrote a comedy to ridicule it.
What is also remarkable is the fact, easily demonstrable, that these Latinized words, many of them coined by the author and used for the first time by him in our language, appear as frequently in the earliest plays as in those of later date.
An exhaustive list of such words as we refer to is here, of course, out of the question, but the following examples may perhaps suffice to show that, not the letter, or knowledge of external forms, only, of the Latin language, but also and especially its inner spirit was an essential part of Shakespeare's mental equipment:
ABRUPTION, from ab-rumpere, to break off, to terminate suddenly. “ Cressida.
The gods grant Troilus. What should they grant? What makes this pretty abruption?”
Troilus and Cressida, iii. 2. First known use of the word in our language.
ABSOLUTE, from absolvere, to free, as from doubt.
“I am absolute 'T was my Cloten.”
Cymbeline, iv. 2. Also, free from imperfection. “A most absolute and elegant horse.”
Henry V., üü. 7. First known use of the word in this classical sense ; now obsolete.
ABSURD, from absurdus, harsb, grating.
66 That's the way
Anthony and Cleopatra, v. 2.
Cleopatra was referring to Cæsar's cruel threats, to destroy her children and make an exhibition of her in the streets of Rome. These were the “absurd intents.”
TO ABUSE, from abuti, to misuse, to deceive, but not necessarily
with any intention to injure. “ The blind rascally boy that abuses every one's eyes." — As You Like It, iv, 1.
“You are much abused, if you
virtue can withstand the King's power.” – Bacon's Advancement of Learning (1605).
Also so used by Caxton, 1477. This sense is preserved in the negative disabuse.
ACTURE, from agere, to act.
“All my offences that abroad you see
A Lover's Complaint. The only instance of the use of this word in the language. It was coined from Latin by the author of the Plays.
ADMITTANCE, from ad-mittere, to admit, as into society.
“ You are a gentleman of excellent breeding, admirable discourse, of great admittance.” – Merry Wives of Windsor, ü. 2.
First known use of the word in this Latin sense; now obsolete.
AFFRONT, from ad frontem, to meet face to face, to accost, without any feeling of hostility.
“ That he, as 't were by accident, may here
Hamlet, iï. 1.
ANTHROPOPHAGI, adopted into the Latin language from the Greek åvOpwmos, man, and paycīv, to eat. “He'll speak like an Anthropophaginian."
Merry Wives, iv. 5. Used in this form but once before, by a preacher in the time of Edward VI.
ANTRE, poetic form of the Latin antrum, cave.
Othello, i. 3.