網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

philosophy. “ And for myself,” he says again, “ I am not raising a capitol or pyramid to the pride of man, but laying a foundation in the human understanding for a holy temple after the model of the world" : 1 yet, he continues, again, “ may God never permit us to give out the dream of our fancy as a model of the world.” ? And, in the play of Richard II., written a year or two after these Masques, we have from himself (perhaps), in the garden scene, an exemplification of his idea of a model as applied to the state and civil affairs, in these lines :

"1 Servt. Why should we, in the compass of a pale,
Keep law and form, and due proportion,
Shewing, as in a model, our firm estate,
When our sea-wall'd garden, the whole land,
Is full of weeds?" Act III. Sc. 4.

And again, thus :

“ O England! model to thy inward greatness,

Like little body with a mighty heart,
What might'st thou do, that honour would thee do,
Were all thy children kind and natural!"

Henry V., Act II., Chor.

In short, the foundations were to be laid, not of physical science only, but of metaphysical science also. We were to have “a scaling-ladder of the intellect,” which, pursuing " the thread of the labyrinth," should disclose “ the several degrees of ascent,” whereby only it was possible for men to climb up to the top of “the magnificent temple, palace, city, and hill” of the great man of the New Atlantis, who wore an aspect “as if he pitied men,” as it had been a Scala Cæli

“ ladder to all high designs," : that hill of the Muses, “ above tempests, always clear and calm ; a hill of the goodliest discovery that man can have, being a prospect upon all the errors and wanderings of the present and former

or

1 Trans. of the Nov. Org. by Spedding, Works (Boston), VIII. 151.
2 Introd. to Nov. Org.
8 Troilus and Cressida.

times : - yea, in some cliff it leadeth the eye beyond the horizon of time, and giveth no obscure divination of times to come :

» 1

"Glos. There is a cliff, whose high and bending head
Looks fearfully in the confined deep:
Bring me but to the very brim of it,
And I 'll repair the misery thou dost bear,
With something rich about me: from that place

I shall no leading need :” – Lear, Act IV. Sc. 1. that same “high and pleasant hill ” of the “ Timon” that was “conceiv'd to scope”:

* This throne, this Fortune, and this bill, methinks,

With one man beckon'd from the rest below,
Bowing his head against the steepy mount
To climb his happiness, would be well express'd

In our condition: "Timon, Act I. Sc. 1. and once arrived at the “ mountain tops” and “ uppermost elevations of nature,"

,"? whence might be had some true glimpse of “ the top of judgment ” 8 and “spring-head” 4 of all science, we might then begin to comprehend“ Philosophy itself:” – Glos. When shall we come to the top of that same hill ? ”

Lear, Act IV. Sc. 6.

In the earlier part of his life, he found it safer and better, and perhaps more in accordance with the bent of his genius, to stand upon the hill of the Muses, where he could avail himself of his representative visible histories, speaking pictures, types and models, fables and parables, to demonstrate and illustrate, or retire and obscure, the secrets and mysteries of religion, policy, or philosophy, after the manner of all ancient poetry, heathen or sacred, and in a style and form and essence that should equal, if not surpass it altogether.

But in the later part of his life, when he had mounted

1 Esser's Masque.
8 Measure for Measure.

2 Scaling-Ladder.
4 Adv. of Learn.

to the height of power in the state, and become the keeper of the King's conscience and his seals, when his faculties had become more "compounded,” and “stiff with age,” yet with matured power and vigor of intellect, he would more boldly enter the judicial palace of the mind," and would venture, by the help of “new found methods and compounds strange” i to complete, and by the help of princely dedications to promulgate, a systematic renovation and instauration of science and philosophy; for, as he himself says, this poesy, “ being as a plant that cometh of the lust of the earth, without a formal seed, it hath sprung up and spread abroad more than any other kind (of learning]: but to ascribe unto it that which is due, for the expressing of affections, passions, corruptions, and customs, we are beholden to poets more than to the philosopher's works; and for wit and eloquence, not much less than to orators' harangues. But it is not good to stay too long in the theatre. Let us now pass to the judicial place or palace of the mind, which we are to approach and view with more reverence and attention

Pry'thee, speak:
Falseness cannot come from thee; for thou look'st
Modest as Justice, and thou seem'st a palace

For the crown'd Truth to dwell in.” - Per., Act V. Sc. 1. For, as we remember, the Muses “give alms continually at their gate ; but few they have ever admitted into their palace.”

And in 1623, he opens the third book of the De Augmentis (taking the elegant and very literal version of Wats) thus :

“All History, excellent King, treads upon the earth, and performs the office of a guide rather than of a light; and Poesy is, as it were, the dream of Knowledge; a sweet pleasing thing, full of variations, and would be thought to be somewhat inspired with divine rapture ; which dreams i Sonnet.

2 Adv. of Learn., Book II.

2

likewise present. But it is time for me to awake, and to raise myself from the earth, cutting the liquid air of Philosophy and Sciences.” And the poet in the “Timon” expresses himself much in the same way:

“My free drift
Halts not particularly, but moves itself
In a wide sea of wax: no levellid malice
Infects one comma in the course I hold,
But flies an eagle flight, bold, and forth on,

Leaving no tract behind.” — Act I. Sc. 1. But here, it was “ fastigia scilicet rerum tantummodo tractans.And before finally taking leave of the stage, he adds, in the De Augmentis, the following very remarkable passage to what he had before said in the Advancement on this subject, viz. :

“ Dramatic poesy, which takes the theatre for the world, is of excellent use, if it be sane. For the discipline as well as the corruption of the theatre may be very great. And in mischiefs of this kind it abounds : the discipline is plainly neglected in our times. Although in modern states, play-acting is esteemed but as a ludicrous thing, except when it is too satirical and biting ; yet among the ancients, it became a means of forming the souls of men to virtue. Even the wise and prudent, and great philosophers, considered it to be, as it were, the plectrum of the mind. And most certainly, what is one of the secrets of nature, the minds of men, when assembled together, are more open to affections and impressions than when they are alone.”

[ocr errors]

$ 7. GESTA GRAYORUM. In December, 1594, less than a year before this Masque was written for Essex, Bacon had taken a principal part in the preparations for the Christmas Revels at Gray's Inn,

i De Aug., (Craik's Bacon, 285).
2 De Aug. Scient., Lib. III. c. 1.
8 Ibrd. II. c. 13.

which were celebrated with especial splendor in that year. A contemporary account of these Revels, drawn up by some unknown author, and entitled “Gesta Grayorum" (first printed in 1688), has been preserved also in Nichols' “ Progresses of Queen Elizabeth,” and it is cited by Mr. Spedding as worthy of credit; from which it appears that Francis Bacon was particularly active and zealous in his efforts to entertain the Queen and her courtiers as well as to sustain the ancient renown of that worshipful society in the field of wit and learned sports. "A still more sumptuous masque was intended,” thinks Nichols, 2 « if we may judge from the following letter from the great Bacon," which (according to Spedding) was found in the Lansdown collection of Lord Burghley's papers, and was most probably addressed to him, though on what precise occasion it is not certainly ascertained. It reads thus:

“ It may please your good Lordship, - I am sorry the joint Masque from the Four Inns of Court faileth ; wherein I conceive there is no other ground of that event but impossibility. Nevertheless, because it falleth out that at this time Gray's Inn is well furnished of gallant young gentlemen, your Lordship may be pleased to know, that rather than this occasion shall pass without some demonstration of affection from the Inns of Court, there are a dozen gentlemen of Gray's Inn, that, out of the honour which they bear to your Lordship and my Lord Chamberlain, to whom at their last Masque, they were so much bounden, will be ready to furnish a Masque; wishing it were in their power to perform it according to their mind, and so for the present I humbly take my leave, resting your Lordship's very humble and much bounden

“FR. BACON."

The letter is without date or address. Nichols connects it with the masque of 1594. Spedding thinks it might

1 Nichols' Prog. Q. Eliz. (London, 1823), III. 262; Letters and Life of Bacon, by Spedding, I. 325.-342, (London, 1861).

2 Prog. Q. Eliz. I. p. xx; Spedd. Lelters and Life, II. 370.

« 上一頁繼續 »