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the justice of the distinction which assigns to man the sphere of wisdom, and to woman that of love, though neither belongs exclusively to either.'1 A less commonly known conception of their relative natures is that brought out by Bacon in commenting on a certain proverb of Solomon. He says: He says: Here is distinguished, that fathers have most comfort of the good proof of their sons; but mothers have most discomfort of their ill proof;' and adds, because women have little discerning of virtue, but of fortune.' 2 This idea that man is the better able to appreciate, and is more willing to sacrifice himself for, the Ideal, while woman is more inclined to consider Profit, or Fortune is the basis of the allegory of the Sonnets: the Profit or Fortune which is supposed to result from Love of Beauty being Fame. The other conception that we have noticed is also applicable, as we may without violence alter the words to, which assigns to man the sphere of reason and to woman that of passion, though neither belongs exclusively to either;' for the Love of Ideal Beauty is conformable to wisdom and reason, while the Love of Fame is but passion.
The qualification expressed in both our quotations is fully admitted, and admirably expressed, by the poet; for he figures the better spirit, the better part of himself, that which loves all Beauty, in which is included all Truth, all Good, not merely as a man, but as a man 'right fair'; and the worse spirit, the worse part of himself, that which is concerned with Profit, Fortune, Fame, not merely as a woman, but as a woman 'coloured ill.'
1 Essay Love.
2 Advancement of Learning, 1605 (p. 264, vol. ii., Works, ed. Montagu)
The two spirits are constantly suggesting' him: his worse part, his Love of Fame, tempting the purity of his Love of Beauty with her 'foul pride.' The poet shows his conviction that if the flame of his Love of Beauty is to burn pure and bright, he must be given. wholly to that love; there must be no self-seeking in him; whatever thought of Fame there may be, will obscure his love and perception of Beauty and Truth. Whether the temptation of the worse spirit has had any effect he can only suspect, but as the two are the two parts of himself, and in one sense friends-since Desire of Fame, although injuring his Love of Beauty, makes him wish to increase it, he suspects that Love of Fame has some influence, but will never know; it will only be known at his death, which will be brought about by the worry caused in him by the struggle against his worse part.
Is not this conceit that the poet is compounded of Love of Beauty and Love of Fame as true as simple? Need we enlarge on the theme that the perception and love of Beauty-of Beauty in its widest sense is the essence of the poet? Need we maintain as against possible objectors the opinion that the poet is, even more than other men, sensitive of the world's opinion and eager for its appreciation? And since the greater the result of the poet's love, the greater the pride in that result should not these laws of poet human nature encompass, and find their most marked confirmation in, the greatest of poets? Yet should not the greatest of poets be the most likely to be conscious of the contrast in worth of these two loves--to see indeed that the one is a Love but the other a Lust? Here is what our English
poet second only to Shakespeare says of Poet and Fame, and Love of Fame:
'Alas! what boots it with incessant care
To tend the homely, slighted, shepherd's trade,
To scorn delights and live laborious days.''
And here is what Montaigne wrote a few years before Shakespeare:-'Of all the follies of the world, that which is most universally received is the solicitude of reputation and glory; which we are fond of to that degree as to abandon riches, peace, life, and health, which are effectual and substantial goods, to pursue this vain phantom and empty word, that has neither body nor hold to be taken of it. And of all the irrational humours of men, it should seem that the philosophers themselves are among the last, and the most reluctant to disengage themselves from this: 'tis the most restive and obstinate of all; “quia etiam bene proficientes animos tentare non cessat." 2 There is not any one of which reason so clearly accuses the vanity; but it is so deeply rooted in us that I dare not determine whether any one ever clearly discharged himself from it or no. After you have said all and believed all has been said to its prejudice, it produces so intestine an inclination in opposition to your best
2 "Because it ceases not to assail even the best disciplined minds."-St. Augustin (W. C. Hazlitt).
arguments that you have little power to resist it; for, as Cicero says, even those who most controvert it, would yet that the books they write about it should visit the light under their own names, and seek to derive glory from seeming to despise it.'1
Ruskin, besides saying with Milton and Montaigne that thought of self in connection with one's work is incompatible with the highest wisdom, and that it is probably impossible to eradicate it, bears testimony that it is inimical to perfection in art; all of which is what we hold was so strongly felt by the artist Shakespeare. Ruskin says:-'I will simply tell you, what you will find ultimately to be true, that "sophia" is the form of thought which makes common sense unselfish,-art unselfish, and wit and imagination unselfish. Of all these, by themselves, it is true that they are partly venomous; that, as knowledge puffeth up, so does prudence so does art so does wit; but, added to all these, wisdom, or (you may read it as an equivalent word), added to all these charity, edifieth.' He then goes on to make clear one or two points respecting the action of 'sophia' on art: It is absolutely unselfish, we say, not in the sense of being without desire, or effort to gratify that desire; on the contrary, it longs intensely to see, or know the things it is rightly interested in. But it is not interested specially in itself. In the degree of his wisdom, an artist is unconcerned about his work as his own; concerned about it only in the degree in which he would be, if it were another man's-recognising its precise value, or no value, from that outer standpoint.
1 Montaigne's Essays, Cotton's translation, ed. W. C. Hazlitt, Book I., Chap. 41.
I do not think, unless you examine your minds very attentively, that you can have any conception of the difficulty of doing this. Absolutely to do it is impossible, for we are all intended by nature to be a little unwise, and to derive more pleasure, therefore, from our own success than that of others. But the intense degree of the difference is usually unmeasured by us.' Ruskin then makes a confession, which corresponds to Shakespeare's confessions in the Sonnets, and concludes: 'Now just imagine what this inherently selfish passionunconquerable as you will find it by the most deliberate and maintained efforts-fancy what it becomes when, instead of striving to subdue, we take every means in our power to increase and encourage it; and when all the circumstances around us concur in the deadly cultivation.' 1
As for Shakespeare's 'better angel' of the so-called 'key' sonnet, and 'better part' of Sonnet 39, something like the intensity of Love of Beauty shown in his Sonnets is shown amply in the work of his greatest contemporary among poets-Spenser. He wrote Hymns in Honour of Love and Hymns in Honour of Beauty, in such terms as these:
'Vouchsafe then, O thou most Almighty Spright,
1 The Eagle's Nest, pp. 35-9,