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very kind of delusion among the idola specus, and has mentioned it in language which we are inclined to think, shows that he knew himself to be subject to it. It is the vice, he tells us, of subtle minds to attach too much importance to slight distinctions; it is the vice, on the other hand, of high and discursive intellects to attach too much importance to slight resemblances; and he adds, that when this last propensity is indulged to excess, it leads men to catch at shadows instead of substances. Yet we cannot wish that Bacon's wit had been less luxuriant; for, to say nothing of the pleasure it affords, it was in the vast majority of cases employed for the purpose of making obscure truth plain, of making repulsive truth attractive, of fixing in the mind for ever, truth which might otherwise have left but a transient impression.”
To show the identity of this wit with that exhibited in the plays attributed to Shakespeare, we here insert the observations of M. Guizot upon Shakespeare * :
“ The poet's (Shakespeare's) gaze embraced an immense field, and his imagination, traversing it with marvellous rapidity, perceived a thousand distant and singular relations between the objects
* Guizot's Shakespeare and his Times, page 115.
which met his view, and passed from one to another by a multitude of abrupt and curious transitions, which it afterwards imposed upon both the personages of the drama and the spectators. Hence arose the true and great fault of Shakespeare, the only one which originated in himself, and which is sometimes perceptible, even in his finest compositions, and that is a defective appearance of laborious research, which is occasioned, on the contrary, by the absence of labour. Accustomed by the tasts of his age, frequently to connect ideas and expressions by their most distant relations, he contracted the habit of that learned subtlety which perceives and assimilates everything, and leaves no point of resemblance unnoticed.”
Of Bacon's poetical faculty, Mr. Macaulay ob
“ The poetical faculty was powerful in Bacon's mind, but not, like his wit, so powerful as occasionally to usurp the place of his reason, and to tyrannise over the whole man. No imagination was ever at once so strong and so throughly subjugated. It never stirred but at a signal from good sense; it stopped at the first check of good sense. Yet, though disciplined to such obedience, it gave noble proofs of its vigour ; in truth, much
of Bacon's life was passed in a visionary world. He loved to picture to himself the world as it would be, when his philosophy should, in his own noble phrase, ‘have enlarged the bounds of human empire.'
“We might refer to many instances, but we will content ourselves with the strongest—the description of the house of Solomon in the New Atlantis. By most of Bacon's contemporaries, and by some people of our time, this remarkable passage would, we doubt not, be considered as an ingenious rodomontade, a counterpart of the adventures of Sinbad or Baron Munchausen. The truth is, that there is not to be found in any human composition, a passage more eminently distinguished by profound and serene wisdom. The boldness and originality of the fiction are far less wonderful than the nice dis. cernment which carefully excluded from that long list of prodigies, everything that can be proved to lie beyond the mighty magic of induction and of time. Already some parts, and not the least startling parts, of this glorious prophecy have been accomplished, even according to the letter; and the whole, construed according to the spirit, is daily accomplishing all around us." Now, this is precisely that which we find in
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.
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