Page images
PDF
EPUB

of

beautiful men of their times. In beauty, that of favour1 is more than that of colour; and that of decent2 and gracious motion more than that of favour. That is the best part of beauty, which a picture cannot express; no nor the first sight of life. There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion. A man cannot tell whether Apelles or Albert Durer5 were the more trifler; whereof the one would make a personage by geometrical proportions; the other, by taking the best parts out of divers' faces, to

1 Favor. Features, looks, a fossiliferous sense of favor, surviving in 'hard-favored,' that is, 'hard-looking,' 'ugly.' He favors his father means 'he looks like his father.' So 'kissing goes by favor' means by 'looks,' not by 'preference,' as is commonly understood.

2 Decent. Fit, becoming. "Let all things be done decently and in order." I. Corinthians xiv. 40.

3 Gracious. Graceful.

"My gracious silence, hail."

Coriolanus. ii. 1.
It is Coriolanus's greeting to his wife, Virgilia, on his return from

war.

✦ Apelles, a celebrated Greek painter of the time of Philip and Alexander of Macedon, 4th century B.C. His most famous picture was the Aphrodite Anadyomene, 'Venus rising from the sea.' Both Cicero and Pliny tell us that the Greek painter of a composite face Bacon alludes to here was not Apelles, but Zeuxis, who was probably a native of Heraclea (Magna Graecia), and lived from 420 to 390 B.C. According to Cicero, when Zeuxis was commissioned to paint a picture of Helena for the temple of Juno Lacinia at Croton, he was allowed, at his own request, the presence of five of the most beautiful maidens of Croton, "ut mutum in simulacrum ex animali exemplo veritas transferatur," that he might transfer the truth of life to a mute image. M. Tullii Ciceronis Rhetoricorum seu De Inventione Rhetorica Liber II. 2, 3. Compare, C. Plinii Se

cundi Naturalis Historiae Liber XXXV. 36. ix.

5 Albrecht Dürer, 1471-1528, a famous German painter, designer of woodcuts, and engraver. He wrote a book on human proportions, Hierinnen sind begriffen vier Bücher von menschlicher Proportion. (Nuremberg. 1528.)

6 More.

Greater.

"Divers. Many. "And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far." Mark viii. 3.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

make one excellent. Such personages, I think, would please nobody but the painter that made them. Not but I think a painter may make a better face than ever was; but he must do it by a kind of felicity,1 (as a musician that maketh an excellent air in music,) and not by rule. A man shall see faces, that if you examine them part by part, you shall find never a good; and yet altogether do well. If it be true that the principal part of beauty is in decent motion, certainly it is no marvel though persons in years seem many times more amiable; pulchrorum autumnus pulcher; 2 for no youth can be comely but by pardon, and considering the youth as to make up the comeliness. Beauty is as summer fruits, which are easy to corrupt, and cannot last; and for the most part it makes a dissolute youth, and an age a little out of countenance; but yet certainly again, if it light well, it maketh virtue shine, and vices blush.

1 felicitate quâdam et casu. Keats seems to have felt that this is true also with regard to his own art:

"When I behold upon the night's starred face
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace

Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance."
Life, Letters, &c. of John Keats, vol. ii. p. 293. S.

2 The autumn of the beautiful is beautiful. A thought from Euripides, quoted in the beginning of Plutarch's Life of Alcibiades. "Euripides would say of persons that were beautiful, and yet in some years, In fair bodies not only the spring is pleasant, but also the autumn." Bacon. Apophthegmes New and Old. 145.

The spiritual beauty of old age as one sees it in the faces of old men and women who have lived good lives is nowhere so finely described as by Edmund Waller:

"The soul's dark cottage, batter'd and decay'd,

Lets in new light through chinks that time has made."
Edmund Waller.

Old Age.

XLIV. OF DEFORMITY.1

DEFORMED persons are commonly even with nature, for as nature hath done ill by them, so do they by nature; being for the most part (as the Scripture saith) void of natural affection; and so they have their revenge of nature. Certainly there is a consent between the body and the mind; and where nature erreth in the one, she ventureth in the other. Ubi peccat in uno, periclitatur in altero. But because there is in man an election touching the frame of his mind, and a necessity in the frame of his body, the stars of natural inclination are sometimes obscured by the sun of discipline and virtue. Therefore it is good to consider of deformity, not as a sign, which is more deceivable; 4 but as a cause, which seldom faileth of the effect. Whosoever hath any thing fixed in his person that doth induce contempt, hath also a perpetual spur in himself to rescue and deliver himself from scorn.

1 Nicholas Chamberlain wrote to Sir Dudley Carleton, December 17, 1612, "Sir Francis Bacon hath set out new Essays, where in a chapter of Deformity, the world takes notice that he paints out his little cousin [Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury] to the life." Court and Times of James I. I. 214. ed. 1848.

2 "Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful." Romans i. 31.

3 Consent. Agreement. "For then will I turn to the people a pure language that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent." Zephaniah iii. 9.

4 Deceivable.

Deceptive, passive form with active sense.
"There's something in 't

That is deceivable."

Shakspere. Twelfth Night. iv. 3.

[ocr errors]

Therefore all deformed persons are extreme1 bold. · First, as in their own defence, as being exposed to scorn; but in process of time by a general habit. Also it stirreth in them industry, and especially of this kind, to watch and observe the weakness of others, that they may have somewhat to repay. Again, in their superiors, it quencheth jealousy towards them, as persons that they think they may at pleasure despise: and it layeth their competitors and emulators asleep; as never believing they should be in possibility of advancement, till they see them in possession. So that upon the matter,2 in a great wit, deformity is an advantage to rising. Kings in ancient times (and at this present in some countries) were wont to put great trust in eunuchs; because they that are envious towards all are more obnoxious and officious towards one. But yet their trust towards them hath rather been as to good spials5 and good whisperers, than good magistrates and officers. And much like is the reason of deformed persons. Still the ground is, they will, if they be of spirit, seek to free themselves from scorn; which must be either by virtue or malice; and therefore let it not be marvelled' if sometimes they prove ex

6

1 Extreme.

Extremely.

2 Matter.

Whole; 'upon the matter' means 'on the whole.' 3 Wont. Accustomed.

4 Obnoxious. Submissive.

5 Spials (espials). Spies.

"The Prince's 'spials have informed me."
Shakspere. 1. King Henry VI. i. 4.

• Malice. Vice. "Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." I. Corinthians v. 8. "Marvel not, my brethren, if the world

7 Marvel. To wonder at. hate you." I. John iii. 13.

cellent persons; as was Agesilaus,1 Zanger2 the son . of Solyman, Æsop, Gasca3 President of Peru; and Socrates may go likewise amongst them; with others.

1 Agesilaus II., King of Sparta from 398 to 361 B.C. He was a man of small stature and lame from his birth, but he developed into a vigorous ruler and great general.

2 Zanger. Jáhangif, Tzihanger, Djangir, Zangir, or Zanger (as the name is variously spelled), 'the Crooked,' was the son of Solyman the Magnificent and Roxalana. Bacon probably read his story in Richard Knolles's Generall Historie of the Turkes, etc. 1603. There it is to the effect that after Solyman, at the instigation of the Sultana Roxalana, had put to death Mustapha, his son by another wife, he bade Zanger go to meet his brother. When Zanger saw his brother lying on the ground strangled, he foresaw his own probable fate, and resolved to anticipate it. He refused to inherit Mustapha's property and position, and committed suicide, much to his father's grief.

3 Pedro de la Gasca, 1485-1561, President of the Royal Audience of Peru, 1546 to 1550, and conqueror of Gonzalo Pizarro, in 1548; for his services in restoring peace and ordered government in Peru, Gasca upon his return to Spain was raised to the bishopric of Palencia, and subsequently to that of Siguenza. Prescott in the Conquest of Peru compares the character of Gasca 'with that of Washington. "Gasca," says Prescott, "was plain in person, and his countenance was far from comely. He was awkward and illproportioned; for his limbs were too long for his body, so that when he rode he appeared to be much shorter than he really was." History of the Conquest of Peru. W. H. Prescott. Book V. Chapter

iv.

Socrates, 470-399 B.C., a famous Greek philosopher. He is the chief character in the Dialogues of Plato, one of his pupils, and is the subject of the Memorabilia of Xenophon, another pupil. His personal appearance was so odd and ugly that he was caricatured by the comic dramatists of his time.

« PreviousContinue »