صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

“misprision” (concealed truths and phrases). Now, with the approval of his own judgment, Thy returns to his inert condition. While he remained with him he made him proud and vain, ruled him as a king when he had no other work, but now a greater pursuit was before him, and Thy was bereft of his attractions.

The "patent,” or plan of composition adopted by Bacon, has been already explained. The dissolution given to it in this stanza, and the motive assigned for it, show that Bacon had the fullest confidence in his appointment as solicitor, and would never occupy his time again in writing dramas. The prize he had toiled for was almost within his grasp, and his gloomy period of seclusion nearly over. The difficulties and obstructions he was confident would be overcome by his noble young friend, the Earl of Essex, who was giving all his energy, popularity, and powers of persuasion to his application. The story of those labors —of the opposing forces; of the delays; of the vacillating conduct of Elizabeth; of the duplicity of the Cecils; of the faithful devotion of Essex; and the final defeat of Bacon, in all running through seventeen months of the years 1594 and 1595 -- is much too long to be detailed here. There will be frequent occasion to refer to the effect it produced in Bacon's mind, while it was passing, in the consideration given to future Sonnets.

SONNET 88.
When Thou shalt be dispos’d to set Me light,
And place My merit in the eye of scorn,
Upon Thy side against Myself I'll fight,
And prove Thee virtuous, though Thou art foresworn.
With Mine own weakness, being best acquainted,
Upon Thy part I can set down a story
Of faults conceal’d, wherein I am attainted,
That Thou in losing Me shalt win much glory:
And I by this will be a gainer too;
For bending all My loving thoughts on Thee,
The injuries that to Myself I do,
Doing Thee vantage, double-vantage Me.

Such is My love, to Thee I so belong,

That for Thy right Myself will bear all wrong. If it should so happen that while seeking the appointment of solicitor-general, any charges should be arrayed against him by his enemies of a personal character, for the purpose of depreciating his merits and defeating him, he (Bacon as an individual) will defend the purity and virtue of Thy,—the thoughts embodied in the dramas, by fighting against Myself (Bacon as author). His object will be to mislead his opponents and prevent them from suspecting that he had been a writer for the theatre. That fact, if proved against him, would not only defeat him, but drive him into hopeless obscurity. How would he prove Thy's purity? Knowing his own weakness, how the dramas were composed, and what means he had employed, he could “set down a story of faults conceal'd” of which he was guilty. He would show that the dramas were a compilation of

truths, derived from infinite sources. All the great writers of all former ages had contributed to them. They had grown, as he says in the preceding stanza, by misprision, “faults concealed.” Thou (Truth) would win much glory by such a revelation, because it would show that Bacon alone could not have been the author, but that the truth displayed was the product of ages. By thus exposing his patent, “bending all My loving thoughts on Thee," which of course would be done judiciously, he would divert attention from himself, and be a gainer also. Every injury he did to "Myself” (Bacon as author) would benefit Thee (Thought), and prove of double benefit to Bacon as a candidate. Such is My Love (the dramas), so are they composed, and he at this time is so absorbed in electioneering schemes that to obtain the office "Myself” (Bacon as the author) " will bear all wrong.” In other words, he will by all possible means avoid exposure as the author of the dramas.

SONNET 89.

Say that Thou didst forsake Me for some fault,
And I will comment upon that offence;
Speak of My lameness, and I straight will halt,
Against Thy reasons making no defence.
Thou canst not, love, disgrace Me half so ill,
To set a form upon desired change,
As I'll Myself disgrace: knowing Thy will,
I will acquaintance strangle and look strange,

Be absent from Thy walks, and in My tongue
Thy sweet beloved name no more shall dwell,
Lest I (too much profane) should do it wrong,
And haply of our old acquaintance tell.

For Thee against Myself I'll vow debate,
For I must ne'er love him whom Thou dost hate.

Continuing his address to Thou (Truth) in this stanza, he expresses the intention, even though errors may appear in the dramas, of abandoning them altogether to such fate as may be accorded them by the world. “Say that Thou didst forsake Me for some fault” (some passage or passages did not contain the truth), “and I will comment upon that offence” (he will consider the subject).

Speak of My lameness, and I straight will halt, against Thy reasons making no defence” (if the fault is in the metre, he will have no argument with Thou about it). “Thou canst not, love, disgrace Me half so ill, to set a form upon desired change, as I'll Myself disgrace" (any discovery of error which may require that a new form should be set up, or new edition printed to correct or change it, he will not regard). “Knowing Thy will” (knowing his own will to avoid exposure), “I will acquaintance strangle and look strange, be absent from Thy walks, and in My tongue Thy sweet beloved name no more shall dwell” (he will think no more on the subject, it shall be forgotten; he will never recall it, nor even mention it), “lest I (too much profane) should do it wrong, and haply of our old acquaintance tell” (lest he

should be tempted to denounce it, or worse even, accidentally reveal himself as the author. For these reasons he would offer no defence for himself, or for his erroneous composition).

SONNET 90.
Then hate Me when Thou wilt, — if ever, now;
Now, while the world is bent My deeds to cross,
Join with the spite of fortune, make Me bow,
And do not drop in for an after-loss.
Ah, do not, when My heart hath scap'd this sorrow,
Come in the rearward of a conquer'd woe;
Give not a windy night a rainy morrow,
To linger out a purpos'd overthrow.
If Thou wilt leave Me, do not leave Me last,
When other petty griefs have done their spite,
But in the onset come; so shall I taste
At first the very worst of fortune's might,

And other strains of woe, which now seem woe,
Compar'd with loss of Thee will not seem so.

Pursuing the thread of allegory in this stanza, as if conscious of deserving the hatred of Truth for the resolution he has formed to neglect and abandon it, he invites Thou to his revenge. “Then hate Me when Thou wilt,-if ever, now; now, while the world is bent My deeds to cross.At this time Bacon was invoking aid from every quarter in support of his pretensions to the oflice of solicitorgeneral. His life had been so correct, so studious, so isolated, that nothing stronger could be urged against him than that he was not fitted by habits or pursuits for the position, and was extravagant

« السابقةمتابعة »