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CHAPTER V.

BACON'S POWERS OF MIND, IN YOUTH

AND ADVANCED YEARS.

ONE of the most remarkable circumstances, says Macaulay, in the history of Bacon's mind, is the order in which its powers expanded themselves. With him the fruit came first, and remained till the last; the blossoms did not appear till late. In general, the development of the fancy is to the development of the judgment, what the growth of a girl is to the growth of a boy. The fancy attains at an early period to the perfection of its beauty, its power, and its fruitfulness; and as it is first to ripen, it is also first to fade. It has generally lost something of its bloom and freshness before the sterner qualities have reached maturity, and is commonly withered and barren, whilst those faculties still retain all their enegies. It rarely happens that the fancy and the judgment grow together. It happens still more rarely, that the judgment grows faster than the fancy; this seems, however, to have been the case with Bacon. His boyhood

the plays under our consideration, As Schlegel observes :—“This Prometheus not merely forms men-he opens the gates of the magical world of spirits, calls up the midnight ghost, exhibits before us the witches with their unhallowed rites, peoples the air with sportive fairies and sylphs; and these beings, though existing only in the imagination, nevertheless possess such truth and consistency, that, even with such misshapen abortions as Caliban, he extorts the assenting conviction, that, were there such beings, they would so conduct themselves. In a word, as he carries a bold and pregnant fancy into the kingdom of nature, on the other hand, he carries nature into the regions of fancy, which lie beyond the confines of reality. We are lost in astonishment at the close intimacy he brings us into with the extraordinary, the wonderful, and the unheard of.”

Thus we see that Bacon and Shakespeare both flourished at the same time, and might, either of them, have written these works, as far as dates are concerned, and that Bacon not only had the requi. site learning and experience, but also that his wit and poetic faculty were exactly of that peculiar character which we find exhibited in these plays.

CHAPTER V.

BACON'S POWERS OF MIND, IN YOUTH

AND ADVANCED YEARS.

ONE of the most remarkable circumstances, says Macaulay, in the history of Bacon's mind, is the order in which its powers expanded themselves. With him the fruit came first, and remained till the last; the blossoms did not appear till late. In general, the development of the fancy is to the development of the judgment, what the growth of a girl is to the growth of a boy. The fancy attains at an early period to the perfection of its beauty, its power, and its fruitfulness; and as it is first to ripen, it is also first to fade. It has generally lost something of its bloom and freshness before the sterner qualities have reached maturity, and is commonly withered and barren, whilst those faculties still retain all their enegies. It rarely happens that the fancy and the judgment grow together. It happens still more rarely, that the judgment grows faster than the fancy; this seems, however, to have been the case with Bacon. His boyhood

and youth seem to have been singularly sedate. His gigantic scheme of philosophical reform, is said by some writers, to have been planned before he was fifteen, and was undoubtedly planned while he was still young. He observed as vigilantly, meditated as deeply, and judged as temperately, when he gave his first work to the world, as at the close of his long career.

But in eloquence, in sweetness and variety of expression, and in richness of illustration, his later writings are far superior to those of his youth. We will give very short specimens of Bacon's two styles. In 1597, he wrote thus :-“Crafty men condemn studies; simple men admire them; and wise men use them : for they teach not their own use, that is a wisdom without them, and won by observation. Read not to contradict, nor to believe, but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing a correct man. And therefore, if a man write little, he had need of a great memory; if he confer little, have present wit; and if he read little, have much cunning, to seem to know that he doth not. Histories make wise men; poets, witty; mathematicians, subtle ;

natural philosophy, deep; morals, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend.”

The following passage, first published in 1625, will show the extent of the change :

“Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; adversity is the blessing of the New, which carrieth the greater benediction, and the clearer evidence of God's favour. Yet even in the Old Testament, if you listen to David's harp, you will hear as many hearse-like airs as carols; and the pencil of the Holy Ghost hath laboured more in describing the afflictions of Job, than the felicities of Solomon. Prosperity is not without many fears and distates, and adversity is not without comforts and hopes. We see in needleworks and embroideries, it is more pleasing to have a lively work on a sad and solemn ground, than to have a dark and melancholy work upon a lightsome ground. Judge therefore of the pleasures of the heart by the pleasure of the eye. Certainly virtue is like precious odours, most fragrant when they are incensed or crushed; for prosperity doth best discover vice, and adversity doth best discover virtue.”

The phenomenon which Mr. Macaulay remarks upon is so peculiar, that it is clear that he can hardly believe it himself. This seemis, says he, to

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