صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

a curious Manuscript, entitled a true Historical Relation of the Conversion of Sir Tobie Matthew to the Holy Catholic Church, with the Antecedents and Consequents thereof."

The manuscript, could it now be traced, would make an interesting volume, worthy of publication by the Camden or any other literary society.

Here we may as well reply to some other of our friendly objectors :-“I fear,” says one, “the edge of Mr. Smith's argument is turned by the fact that there are a greater number of blunders, especially geographical and classical errors, in Shakespeare's plays than Lord Bacon could have committed even in his earliest youth. It is to be observed that in all popular knowledge Shakespeare was a master. He does not err in his illustrations drawn from hunting and hawking and natural phenomena, or in such natural history as is learnt from close observation of the habits of animals. He only blunders in things which could only have been derived from book learning, in which Bacon excelled.”

The so-called "blunders,” we contend, are "beauties" in strict accordance with Bacon's exalted notions of poetry, "which, being not tied to the laws of matter, may at pleasure join that which nature hath severed, and sever that which nature hath joined, and so make unlawful matches and divorces of things.”-Advancement of Learning.

Certain boldnesses of expression are no more indications of ignorance, than Bacon's Christian Paradoxes are proofs of profaneness.* Each are emanations of a mind superior to such suspicions.

And our objector surely can never have read Bacon's Natural History, or the following observations in his contemporary, Osborne's, Advice to a Son, part ii. sec. 24:

“And my memory neither doth (nor I believe possibly ever can) direct me to an example more splendid in this kind, than the Lord Bacon, Earl of St. Alban's, who in all companies did appear a good proficient, if not a master, in those arts entertained for the subject of every one's discourse. So as I dare maintain, without the least affectation of flattery or hyperbole, that his most casual talk deserveth to be written, as I have been told, his

* Lord Campbell says :-“ Notwithstanding the stout denial that he (Bacon) was the author of the Paradoxes, I cannot doubt that the publication is from his pen, and I cannot characterise it otherwise than as a profane attempt to ridicule the Christian faith.”- Lives of the Lord Chancellors, vol. ii. p. 430.

We have never yet met with a person who, having read “The Characters of a Believing Christian, in Paradoxes or seeming Contradictions,” has concurred in the judgment pronounced by the Lord Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench.

first or foulest copies required no great labour to render them competent for the nicest judgments : high perfection, attainable only by use and treating with every man in his respective profession, and which he was most versed in.

“So as I have heard him entertain a country lord in the proper terms relating to hawks and dogs, and at another time out-cant a London chirurgeon. Thus he did not only learn himself, but gratify such as taught him, who looked upon their calling as honoured by his notice. Nor did an easy falling into arguments (not unjustly taken for a blemish in the most) appear less than an ornament in him; the ears of his hearers receiving more gratification than trouble; and no less sorry, when he came to conclude, than displeased with any that did interrupt him. Now, the general knowledge he had in all things, husbanded by his wit and dignified with so majestical a carriage he was known to own, struck such an awful reverence in those he questioned, that they durst not conceal the most intrinsic part of their mysteries from him, for fear of appearing ignorant or saucy. All which rendered him no less necessary than admirable at the council-table, when in reference to impositions, monopolies, &c., the meanest manufactures were an usual argument; and, as I have heard, he did in this baffle the Earl of Middlesex, who was born and bred a citizen, &c. Yet without any great (if at all) interrupting his abler studies, as is not hard to be imagined of a quick apprehension, in which he was admirable.”

The Illustrated London News (Oct. 25, 1856) thus epitomises our arguments :-“The sum of Mr. Smith's argument may be expressed in a few words. That these thirty-six plays should have been written by the Warwickshire lad, Shakespeare, is a wonder; that they should have been written by Lord Bacon would have been none." After quoting the Returne from Parnassus, Decker and Meres, and Coleridge's observations on the Poems and Sonnets, the editor proceeds :-“As to his (Shakespeare's) general capacity, manifested by his conversation with other great minds, Fuller bears personal testimony, Many were the Wit Combats,' says he, 'between Shakespeare and Ben Jonson. I beheld them like a Spanish great galleon and an English man-of-war. Master Jonson, like the former, was built far higher in learning, solid, but slow in his performances. Shakespeare-like the latter, lesser in bulk, but lighter in sailingcould turn with all tides, tack about, and take ad

vantage of all winds by the quickness of his wit and invention.'»

We pointed out to the editor, that Fuller was only eight years old when Shakespeare died, and therefore was not likely to have been an eyewitness of these “Wit Combats.” Moreover, the passage from Fuller is misquoted : he did not write, “I beheld,” but “I behold them ”-that is, I picture them to my mind.

It is these picturings and imaginings of circumstances which might have occurred,—and recording them as events which did really happen,—that has encumbered the life and works of Shakespeare with such a mass of error. The keen desire to know something has bred an easy willingness to believe anything ; and Bacon's observation upon Poetry is peculiarly applicable to the life of Shakespeare“because the acts and events of (his) true history have not that magnitude which satisfieth the mind of man," Imagination "feigneth acts and events greater and more heroical.”

Fuller knew so little of, and inquired so little after, Shakespeare, that the entry in his original work stands thus :-"He died anno Domine 16., Nichols notes :-“It is a little remarkable, that Dr. Fuller should not have been able to fill up this

« السابقةمتابعة »