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in our tongue, which may be compared and preferred to insolent Greece and haughty Rome."
Or for the laurel, he may gain a scorn,
These lines are little applicable to Shakespeare, whilst they are an exact description of Bacon. Had he never written a line of verse, he would still have been considered a poet, by all who were acquainted with his writings. His poetry is essentially that of a made, not a born poet. It is not that poetry which is excited by the contemplation of external objects; but having drank deep of wisdom and knowledge, the rich flood bursts forth from his full heart and teeming intellect, carrying us along with it in its torrent of passion, whilst the light spray of its exuberant fancy dances around and glitters and gleams upon every object with which it comes in contact. Such too is his wit: it is not the result of animal spirits : no amount of exhilaration would produce it; there is nothing rollicking about it, except when he portrays a character so exceptional as Mercutio. Sickness or distress could not damp or destroy it. He had the materials within him; and his active fancy, roving through the rich storehouse, loaded herself with
its treasures, playfully bringing into juxtaposition things apparently remote and discordant.
Look how the father's face
In his well-turned and true-filed lines. In illustration of these lines, we should be glad to find that the lineaments of Francis Bacon's face resembled those of Sir Nicholas; his form certainly did not. That the mind and manners of the courtly Bacon shine in his “ well-turned and truefiled lines,” no one will for a moment deny; it has been observed, there is “an odour of the court in his meanest characters." It is the absence of all uproariousness, and that tone of high breeding which pervades them, which renders it impossible to believe that Shakespeare, even had be been all that his fondest admirers represent him, could possibly have produced these plays. It is sympathy with this which constitutes the excellence in reading or performing these plays. We may often hear the words delivered with great correctness of tone and emphasis, so that it would be impossible to say that they were badly delivered; yet we feel that there is just that deficiency, which, when we hear Holy Scripture read under similar circumstances, we charactérise as want of devotion.
That Jonson could pen hearty and direct praise, is evidenced by the following lines, which we apprehend cannot by any ingenuity be construed to allude to any other person. They are addressed
TO MR. EDWARD ALLEN.
If Rome so great, and in her wisest age,
There is a curious circumstance in connection with the effigies or portrait published with the folio of 1623. As no picture of Shakespeare was then in existence, and as it does not resemble the Stratford Monument, it must be considered an original production-conceived, it may be, in the same spirit as Ben Jonson's Verses; so that the lines of the engraver, and of the poet, alike shadow forth Bacon, or Shakespeare, indifferently. This supposition is strengthened by the fact that Bacon's
portrait, taken when he was eighteen years of age, an engraving of which is in Basil Montagu's edition of his works, is similar in form to the portrait of Shakespeare published with the folio of 1623. It is simply a head in an oval, and has this motto round the margin:
Si tabula daretur digna animum mallem ; which may well be rendered in the words applied to Shakespeare's portrait:
O could he but have drawn his wit
PARALLEL PASSAGES, AND PECULIAR PHRASES, FROM BACON AND
POETRY and prose, plays and philosophical writings, are generally considered so opposed and antagonistic, that it seems unreasonable to expect to find in them similarity of ideas or coincidences of expression; yet these are to be found in Bacon and Shakespeare. Thus, in the Advancement of Learning :
Poetry is nothing else but feigned history.
Twelfth Night, act i. sc. 2:
Viola. 'Tis poetical.
As You Like It, act iii. sc. 7:
The truest poety is the most feigning.