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WHEN a book is written to demonstrate something, an explanation seems necessary to show why an introduction to it should be written by one who is unable to accept the demonstration. If it may be allowed to use the first personal pronoun in order to distinguish between the writer of this introduction and the author of the book, the needful explanation can be briefly and clearly given,
Though not able to believe that Francis Bacon wrote Shakespeare's Plays—which is the main object of the publication of this book-I nevertheless cannot fail to see very much in the following pages that will throw new light on the style both of Bacon and of Shakespeare, and consequently on the structure and capabilities of the English language.
On one point also I must honestly confess that I am a convert to the author. I bad formerly thought that, considering the popularity of Shakespeare's Plays, it was difficult to explain the total absence from Bacon's works of any allusion to them, and the almost total absence of any phrases that might possibly be borrowed from them. The author has certainly shown that there is a very considerable similarity of phrase and thought between these two great authors. More than this, the Promus seems to render it highly probable, if not absolutely certain, that Francis Bacon in the year 1594 had either heard or read Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Let the reader turn to the passage in that play where Friar Laurence lectures Romeo on too early rising, and note the italicised words :
But where unbruised youth with unstuff'd brain
Romeo and Juliet, ii. 3, 40.
Now let him turn to entries 1207 and 1215 in the followlowing pages, and he will find that Bacon, among a number of phrases relating to early rising, has these words, almost consecutively, 'golden sleep' and 'up-. rouse. One of these entries would prove little or nothing; but anyone accustomed to evidence will perceive that two of these entries constitute a coincidence amounting almost to a demonstration that either (1) Bacon and Shakespeare borrowed from some common and at present unknown source; or (2) one of the two borrowed from the other. Tho author's belief is (pp. 95–7) that the play is indebted for these expressions to the Promus; mine is that the Promus borrowed them from the play. But in any case, if the reader will refer to the author's comments on this passage (pp. 65–7) he will find other similarities between the play and the Promus which indicate borrowing of some sort.
Independently of other interest, many of the notes in the Promus are valuable as illustrating how Bacon's allpervasive method of thought influenced him even in the merest trifles. Analogy is always in his mind. can say Good-morrow,' why should you not also say Good-dawning' (entry 1206) ? If you can anglicise some
French words, why not others ? Why not say "Goodswoear' (sic, entry 1190) for Good-night,' and 'Goodmatens' (1192) for "Good-morning?' Instead of twilight," why not substitute vice-light' (entry 1420) ? Instead of 'impudent,' how much more forcible is * brazed' (entry 1418)! On the lines of this suggestive principle Francis Bacon pursues his experimental path, whether the experiments be small or great—sowing, as Nature sows, superfluous seeds, in order that out of the conflict the strongest may prevail. For before we laugh at Bacon for his abortive word-experiments, we had better wait for the issue of Dr. Murray's great Dictionary which will tell us to how many of these experiments we are indebted for words now current in our language.
Many interesting philological or literary questions will be raised by the publication of the Promus. The phrase "Good-dawning,' for example, just mentioned, is found only once in Shakespeare, put into the mouth of the affected Oswald (Lear, ii. 2, 1), “Good-dawning to thee, friend.' The quartos are so perplexed by this strange phrase that they alter dawning' into 'even,' although a little farther on Kent welcomes the comfortable beams' of the rising sun. Obviously' dawning' is right; but did the phrase suggest itself independently to Bacon and Shakespeare ? Or did Bacon make it current among court circles, and was it picked up by Shakespeare afterwards ? Or did Bacon jot down this particular phrase, not from analogy, but from hearing it in the court ? Here again we must wait for Dr. Murray's Dictionary to help us; but meantiine students of Elizabethan literature ought to be grateful to the author for having raised the question. Again, Bacon has thought it worth while to enter (entry 1189) the phrase 'Good-morrow.' What does this mean? It
is one of the commonest phrases in the plays of Shakespeare, occurring there nearly a hundred times; why, then, did Bacon take note of a phrase so noteworthless ? Because, replies our author (p. 64), the phrases "Goodinorrow and 'Good-night,' although common in the Plays, occur only thirty-one times and eleven respectively in a list of some six thousand works written during or before the time of Bacon. Here a word of caution may be desirable. It is very hard to prove a negative. The inspection of 'six thousand works,' even though some of them may be short single poems, might well tax any mortal pair of eyes.
Not improbably critics will find occasion to modify this statement; and not till the allknowing Dictionary appears shall we be in possession of the whole truth. Nevertheless, the author is probably correct, that the frequency with which Good-morrow' and 'Good-night' are used by Shakespeare is not paralleled in contemporary dramatists; and, after all, there remains the question, why did Bacon think it worth while to write down in a note-book the phrase Good-morrow' if it was at that time in common use ?--surely a question of interest, for the mere raising of which we ought to be grateful to the author.
Of original sayings there are not many that have not been elsewhere reproduced and improved in Bacon's later works. Yet the Promus occasionally supplies sententious maxims, sharp retorts, neat and dexterous phrases of transition,' graceful and well-rounded compliments, which are not only valuable as instances of the elaborate and infinite pains which Bacon was willing to take about niceties of language, but have also a value of their own. I have heard of an educated man whose whole stock in trade in the way of assenting phrases) consisted of the
sentence, 'It naturally could be so. Such a one, and many others whose vocabulary is very little less limited, may do worse than study some of the entries in the following pages, not, indeed, to reproduce them, but to learn how, by working on the same lines in modern English, they may do something to improve and enrich their style.
Analogy and antithesis, antithesis and analogy, these are the secrets of the Baconian force; and although we cannot bring to the use of these instruments the 'brayne cut with facets' (entry 184) which, out of a few elementary facts, could produce results of kaleidoscopic beauty and variety, yet the dullest cannot fail to become less dull if he once gains a glimmering of Bacon's method of utilising language and his system of experimenting with it. Even for mere enjoyment, the world ought not willingly to let die so courtly a compliment as this, for example, jotted down for use at some morning interview, and surely intended for no one less than Queen Gloriana herself, “I have not said all my prayers till I have bid you goodmorrow' (entry 1196). To illustrate the importance of far-fetched efforts, everyone will be glad to be reminded by Bacon of the quotation Quod longe jactum est leviter ferit' (entry 190); but we should give a still heartier welcome to a proverb which should be imprinted on the heart of every would-be poet in this most affected generation: That that is forced is not forcible' (entry 188). Again, how neat is the defence of late rising, 'Let them have long mornings that have not good afternoons' (entry 400); how pretty the antithesis in “That is not so, by your favour;' Verily, by my reason it is so' (entry 206); and how skilfully turned is the epistolary conclusion (entry 116), 'Wishing you all happiness, and myself