صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

Cupid laid by his brand, and fell asleep:
A maid of Dian's this advantage found,
And his love-kindling fire did quickly steep
In a cold valley-fountain of that ground;
Which borrow'd from this holy fire of love
A dateless lively heat, still to endure,
And grew a seething bath, which yet men prove
Against strange maladies a sovereign cure.
But at My Mistress' eye Love's brand new-fir'd,
The boy for trial needs would touch My breast;
I, sick withal, the help of bath desir’d,
And thither hied, a sad distemper'd guest,

But found no cure: the bath for My help lies
Where Cupid got new fire, - My Mistress' eyes,

The little Love-god lying once asleep
Laid by his side his heart-inflaming brand,
Whilst many nymphs that vow'd chaste life to keep
Came tripping by; but in her maiden hand
The fairest votary took up that fire
Which many legions of true hearts had warm’d,
And so the general of hot desire
Was sleeping by a virgin hand disarm’d.
This brand she quenched in a cool well by,
Which from Love's fire took heat perpetual,
Growing a bath and healthful remedy
For men diseas'd; but I, My Mistress' thrall,

Came there for cure, and this by that I prove,
Love's fire heats water, water cools not love.

These two stanzas, the last a reproduction in sentiment of the first, simply state the fact that the god of Love provided, in a spring or well, water that would prove a sovereign cure

for “strange maladies." In order to test it, he caused the writer, who wished to find some remedy for the incessant influence he was under to display life in character, in Tragedy, to go there and bathe. He found no cure.

The bath for his help lies “where Cupid got new fire,-- My Mistress' [Tragedy] eyes."


Lord Campbell says of Bacon's writings: "Of all the compositions in any language I am acquainted with, these will bear to be the oftenest perused, and after every perusal they still present some new meaning and some new beauty." The same observation will apply with broader significance to his life. As often as it has been written, each new biographer has revealed new phases in his character, which relieves it of some of its repulsive features. That he committed great errors, cannot, in the light of his own confessions, be denied; but many of his acts represented as criminal and corrupt take their complexion from the age in which we live, no allowance being made for the laws, customs, habits of life and thought that prevailed during the reigns of Elizabeth and James. Bacon, judged by his contemporaries, was no worse than they; but it was his fortune, whether good or bad, to be more conspicuous by reason of his wonderful genius and prolific pen. Viewed in the light of intellectual achievement, he was the most remarkable man of modern times. If

Greece or Rome ever produced his superior, their histories fail to record it. What he would have accomplished for humanity, if his early hopes and designs had not been thwarted by the death of his father, and the consequent loss of his patrimony, it is impossible to conceive; but that he would have escaped the errors and mistakes of the life he was obliged to adopt, there can be but little doubt, — for, though educated for public life, his tastes, inclinations, and intentions were all at that time wedded to speculative and philosophical pursuits.

It is painfully apparent from his letters to his uncle, Lord Burleigh, begging for some more congenial employment, that it was with a heavy heart that he entered Gray's Inn to fit himself for the profession of the law. Slender means and expensive tastes soon involved him in debt. He became the prey of the money sharks of the time, was arrested, and spent a night in a sponginghouse. This experience, coupled with the natural longing of his nature for that indulgence of taste and curiosity to which he had been accustomed, doubtless suggested the idea of merchandising his thoughts as a means of supplying his purse. When this thought occurred to him, or at what time he began to write his dramas, must be left to conjecture. He entered Gray's Inn in 1580, at the age of twenty. Shakespeare, who was to figure as his coadjutor, came to London from Strat

ford in 1585 or 1586. It was probably after this latter event that he sought for means to put his scheme in execution. One great obstacle must have presented itself. He was the son of a nobleman who had filled the highest offices in the realm, and the nephew of Lord Burleigh, the queen’s great prime minister. The profession he had chosen must in a few years introduce him into the duties and responsibilities of official public life. All his hopes and opportunities for preferment and renown depended upon success in his profession. Next to proficiency in that, nothing was of more importance than a character formed after the models furnished in the lives and conduct of the successful men of the time. He plainly foresaw that to be known as a playwright would blast all his hopes, and assign him to a position among a class to whom all worthy social privileges and chances for favorable recognition were hopelessly denied. How to avoid such a fate, and make his scheme successful, must have given him much anxiety.

I am more than inclined to believe that as a recreation to the study of the law, he had, previous to this time, written the comedy of “Love's Labor's Lost," and gave it that suggestive title to signify that the hours of pleasure spent in composing it were wasted, and of no account. The many beautiful passages it contained, its fertile imagery, and philosophical speculations, were to him like the

« السابقةمتابعة »