Abbildungen der Seite

hor they disclose themselves though repressed and concealed; how they work; how they vary; how they are enwrapped one within another; how they fight and encounter one with another; and many other particularities of this kind; amongst which this last is of special use in moral and civil matters ; how I say, to set affection against affection, and to use the aid of one to master another; like hunters and fowlers who use to hunt beast with beast, and catch bird with bird :"1— as we may find it illustrated in this same play, and, indeed, in many others of this author, in such style, manner, and diction as to leave no room for doubt of his identity.

It is not the purpose of this work to undertake by any complete analysis, or anything like a thorough exposition of the nature, scope, and drift of the several plays, to show in what manner and to what extent the object and intent of these illustrative examples, or models, have been accomplished in them ; nor to consider of their merits as works of art. In the two sections following, some demonstration will be given out of the “As You Like It," and the “ Timon of Athens," as models and instances, first, that these plays were in fact written by Francis Bacon; and second, that they do really answer the purpose supposed, in a very admirable manner. More than this might require another book.


The comedy of “As You Like It” appears to have been written about the year 1600, and before any of the works of Bacon with which it will be compared were published, viz.: the Advancement, the Intellectual Globe, the Natural History, the History of Life and Death, and the De Augmentis. Shakespeare could have drawn nothing for this play from these works of Bacon : nor would Bacon have

1 Trans. of De Aug., by Spedding, Works (Boston), IX. 219-221.

need to learn anything from William Shakespeare, touching the parts of philosophy therein illustrated.

In the main, this play is a story of love and friendship, with some slight exhibition of the accidents of fortune, into which the more important matters and topics are, as it were, collaterally and incidentally interwoven. The plot is taken from Dr. Lodge's novel of "Rosalynd, or Euphues' Golden Legacy,” but nothing of the more distinguishing features, or more notable instruction, is drawn from that source ; and the characters of Jaques, Audrey, and the Clown, are wholly

The author himself speaks more especially in the melancholy Jaques, in Touchstone, the motley-minded gentleman, and in Rosalind, instructed of the great magician"; and the old man Adam furnishes occasion for the discourse of Jaques on the Seven Ages, with a distinct touch of the History of Life and Death. In the garb of the motley fool, Touchstone, who is but another specimen of a “ Jove in a thatch'd house," that

“ hath strange places cramın'd With observation, the which he vents

In mangled forms," lies concealed and (as it were in ambush) the “natural philosopher" himself, with his instances; and with the help of Audrey, a mere " country wench," he will get pretty deep into the philosophy of imagination and the true nature of poetry as “ imaginations feigned.” Rosalind, in the disguise of a boy, has conversed with a magician, since he was three

years old :

Orl. But, my good lord, this boy is forest-born,
And hath been tutor'd in the rudiments
Of many desperate studies by his uncle,
Whom he reports to be a great magician,

Obscured in the circle of this forest." — Act V. Sc. 4. And in Jaques, we have a man, who has got well out of “ the woodlands of nature,” and not only reached the foot of the mountain, but actually ascended nearly to the uppermost elevations, where his station is serene, and his prospect

delightful; and though his “often rumination " has gained him, among others, the title of “the melancholy Jaques," it only wraps himself in “a most humourous sadness.” The matter lies, for the most part, upon “a more disengaged but a more arduous station,” and in that part of “ the double road of active life,” which, though“ steep and rough” at the entrance, becomes “even and level” at the end, terminating in “perfect smoothness ” ; but the scene, though not actually in the woods,” now, is still “partly in the Forest of Arden.” Rosalind is banished by the envious Duke ; Celia, his daughter, her loving friend, determines to escape with her cousin, and they persuade the fool Touchstone to go with them; and so, disguised, Rosalind in boy's clothes, Celia in the dress of a shepherdess, and Touchstone as servant, they become travellers in the woods :

Ros. Well, this is the Forest of Arden.

Touch. Ay, now am I in Arden: the more fool I! When I was at home, I was in a better place: but travellers must be content." — Act II. Sc. 4.

Remembering that the road traversing " the woodlands” was overshadowed as by foliage, and perplexed and entangled with thorns and briers, and that one branch of the double road conducted the traveller to places precipitous and impassable, we may just notice, that the dialogue between Celia and Rosalind, in the beginning, turns upon the condition of their estates; but, says Rosalind, “ Fortune reigns in gifts of the world, not in the lineaments of nature;' and they soon discover that these "paths of contemplation" are beset with thorns and briers, thus : Ros. O, how full of briars is this working-day world!

Cel. They are but burs, cousin, thrown upon thee in holiday foolery; if we walk not in the trodden paths, our very petticoats will catch them.” Act 1. Sc. 3.

So Bacon says: “ Diligence and careful preparation remove the obstacles against which the foot would otherwise stumble, and smooth the path before it is entered;

but he who is sluggish and defers everything to the last moment of execution must needs walk every step as it were amidst briars and thorns, which catch and stop him." -- Tr. of De Aug., IX. Spedd. (Boston), 257.

And Orlando, groping with old Adam in this " uncouth forest,” almost dead “ for food,” meeting the Duke, speaks thus :

Orl. Speak you so gently? Pardon me, I pray you:
I thought that all things had been savage here;
And therefore put I on the countenance
Of stern commandment. But whate'er you are
That in this desert inaccessible,
Under the shade of melancholy boughs,
Lose and neglect the creeping hours of time ; -

You touch'd my vein at first: the thorny point
Of bare distress hath ta'en from me the shew
Of smooth civility: yet am I inland bred,

And know some nurture." — Act II. Sc. 7. Things here were steep, rough, thorny, overshadowed with foliage and melancholy boughs, and rather precipitous and impassable to the traveller. Orlando introduces the old man Adam thus :

* There is an old poor man,
Who after me hath many a weary step
Limp'd in pure love; till he be first suffic'd,
(Oppress'd with two weak evils, age and hunger,)

I will not touch a bit." - Act 11. Sc. 7. And while he is gone to find him out, the Duke and Jaques enter into that famous and very sage discourse upon the Seven Ages of the life of man, taking a wide and deep view of the subject. The Duke begins thus :

Duke S. Thou seest we are not all alone unhappy:
This wide and universal theatre
Presents more woful pageants than the scene

Wherein we play in." Jaques, who has already climbed by regular succession the height of things to a station serene, where he has a prospect of the order of nature and the errors of men, on this universal theatre, and has been a traveller through the universal variety, proceeds to deliver himself of his latest con

- Joq.

templation on the ages of man, in the following manner, which may be compared with the Essay of the Vicissitude of Things (first printed in 1625), which was derived in part from the History of Life and Death, namely:

“In the youth of a state arms do flourish; in the middle age of a state, learning; and then both of them together for a time; in the declining age of a state, mechanical arts and merchandize. Learning hath its infancy, when it is almost childish; then its youth, when it is luxuriant and juvenile; then its strength of years, when it is solid and reduced ["- solidiores et exactiores "']; and lastly, its old age, when it waxeth dry and exhaust [postremo senectus earum obrepit, cum siccæ et exhaustæ fiunt, manente tumen garrulitate"]; but it is not good to look too long upon these turning wheels of vicissitude, lest we become giddy."

Take, now, the speech of Jaques, with the passages interspersed by way of commentary, thus :

All the world 's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts, -

His Acts being seven ages." [There were four ages of a state. “ Meanwhile, the mind also hath certain periods, but they cannot be described by years.” — - Hist. of Life and Death.

" While states and empires pass many periods.” — Masque.
“While your life is nothing but a continual acting upon a stage.” Ibid.)

“At first, the Infant,
Mewling and puking in his nurse's arms:
And then, the whining School-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail

Unwillingly to school": (“Learning, too, hath its infancy”; " then its youth, when it is luxuriant and juvenile."

“The ladder of man's body is this, to be conceived, . to suck, to be weaned, to feed upon pap.”. Hist. of Life and Death.]

"And then the Lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow: Then a Soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard;
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble Reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth: And then the Justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin’d;
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,

« ZurückWeiter »