« السابقةمتابعة »
leaves” (the blank paper upon which his thoughts are to be written for preservation and reference). “This book," composed of fugutive thoughts and collected learning, is to be tested as it progresses by Thou (Truth). "The wrinkles of mouthed graves,” which his glass will truly show, are such selections as he may choose from the writings of the learned men and sages of former ages, being still reminded by the dial of the flight of time. Those that he cannot remember he must transcribe in his book. He will find that they will aid greatly in giving substance and force to his own thoughts when he arranges them in form for use. The true value of “these offices” will be demonstrated when, under the guidance of Thou (Truth), they are applied to the faithful delineation of life and character. It will be seen from this stanza what his leading methods were in the composition of the dramas: first, he gave his own thoughts to the work, careful to make his plots as natural as possible. Then he used the thoughts of others to strengthen his own, and not transcend the truth. It required the mind and skill of a master to succeed in this species of composition, and any one who would adopt it should be conscious of possessing the imagery, brain, cultivation, and application of Bacon before he begins, or he will be sure to end in ridiculous failure. He says as much himself in the two fol. lowing stanzas.
hath got My use,
But Thou art all My art, and dost advance
In this stanza he alludes to a play which was the production of several writers of the period, himself included. “Every alien pen,” he says, has got his use. They are all striving to imitate him. “And under Thee [Thought] their poesy disperse.” It is noticeable that he gives them no credit for Thou (Truth).
As a contrast to their efforts, he tells what Thou (Truth) has done. "Thine [Truth] eyes, that taught the dumb on high [himself (Bacon) of noble parentage, and a nobleman in expectancy] to sing."s By birth and position he was entitled to move in the highest circles, socially and in public life. "And heavy ignorance [Shakespeare, a man without education or culture) aloft to fly” (to enjoy the renown and adulation which, as the imputed author of the dramas, followed him). Thine eyes” (this Truth), that has done so much for him
and Shakespeare, has also “added feathers to the learned's wing” (it has contributed to the literary labors of writers of learning and education), “and given grace a double majesty.” This allusion to “double majesty” must have been the second and third parts of King Henry VI. Guizot is of opinion that Shakespeare was “almost entirely a stranger” to the first part of Henry VI. He says: “The True History of the Contention' and 'The True Tragedy of Richard, Duke of York,' —one served as a matrix, if I may be allowed the expression, for the second part of Henry VI., and the other for the third part.” The “True History” and “The True Tragedy” were performed as carly as 1592. Robert Green, one of the authors, died in September of that year. They were rewritten afterwards, with many changes and additions, and appeared as the second and third parts of Henry VI.
The graceful style of the original plays, supposed to be the conjoint productions of Peele, Green, Marlow, and Shakespeare (or, as I say, Bacon), was what Bacon alluded to by the word "grace" in the line under consideration. “Thino eyes” (Truth) gave to this "grace" "a double majesty," —that is, changed it to the two parts of Henry VI.
The contention among the numerous commentators upon Shakespeare, from Theobald down to the present day, concerning the authorship of
these plays, has been quite as persistent, and in some instances nearly as bitter, as the contention illustrated by the plays themselves. The preponderance of the multitudinous opinions favors a joint authorship for the plays originally by Shakespeare, Marlow, Peele, and Green, the last three learned men and collegians. In an able essay, White very clearly recognizes the style of each. This was probably the work alluded to in the eighty-sixth stanza, which, as the “affable, familiar ghost," Shakespeare assisted by contributing such passages as Bacon supplied.
Bacon represents the “alien pen" as using Thee (Thought) only, and himself as illustrating Thou (Truth). He asks Thought “to be most proud of that part of the play which he compiles, because, though born of thought, it is written under the influence of truth. In that part written by the others, truth has only mended their style, and thought given grace to their art; but truth has been all his art, and has enabled him “to advance as high as learning My rude ignorance” (to place Shakespeare on an equality with them as a writer).
Yet what of Thee Thy poet doth invent
Then thank him not for that which he doth say,
In this stanza he conveys the idea that, having ceased to write, another writer has taken his place, and it would seem is also writing under the sanction of Shakespeare's name. When he was the only writer who used Thy (Thought), “My verse,” (this poem spoke of his own works only). “But now My gracious numbers are decay'd” (now that he has ceased to write dramas), “My sick Muse' (he reluctantly) “doth give another place” (announces a successor). “I grant, sweet love, Thy lovely argument" (the preparation which his successor has made for his play) “deserves the travail of a worthier pen” (deserves a better delineation than he has given it). Yet so much of it as he has taken from Thought, he has returned to Thought again. The virtue which he has represented he took from Thy (Thought), and the beauty that he gives to his characters he found in him. His drama is entitled to no praise for any merit, that he did not find in the material which he collected from others for its construction. In other words, it has no originality, and all that "he owes Thee" (the preparation) “Thou [Truth],