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TO THE READER.
This Figure, that thou here seest put,
It was for gentle Shakespeare cut;
Wherein the graver had a strife
with Nature, to out-doo the life :
0, could he but have drawn his wit
As well in brasse, as he hath hit
His face; the Print would then surpasse
All, that was ever writ in brasse.
But, since he cannot, Reader, looke
Not on his Picture, but his Booke.

B. I.

To the Memory of my beloved, the Author, MR. WILLIAM

SHAKESPEARE: and what he hath left us. To draw no envy (Shakespeare) on thy name,

Am I thus ample to thy Booke, and Fame: While I confesse thy writings to be such,

As neither Man, nor Muse, can praise too much. 'Tis true, and all men's suffrage. But these wayes

Were not the paths I meant unto thy praise : For seeliest Ignorance on these may light,

Which, when it sounds at best, but echoes right; Or blinde Affection, which doth ne’re advance

The truth, but gropes, and urgeth all by chance ; Or crafty Malice, might pretend this praise,

And thinke to ruine, where it seem'd to raise. These are, as some infamous Baud, or Whore,

Should praise a Matron. What could hurt her more ? But thou art proofe against them, and indeed

Above th' ill fortune of them, or the need. I, therefore will begin. Soule of the Age!

The applause ! delight! the wonder of our Stage! My Shakespeare, rise; I will not lodge thee by

Chaucer, or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lye A little further, to make thee a roome:

Thou art a Moniment, without a Tombe, And art alive still, while thy Booke doth live,

;

And we have wits to read, and praise to give. That I not mixe thee so, my braine excuses

I meane with great, but disproportion’d Muses : For, if I thought my judgement were of yeeres,

I should commit thee surely with thy peeres, And tell, how farre thou didst our Lily out-shine,

Or sporting Kyd, or Marlowe's mighty line. And though thou hadst small Latine, and lesse Greeke,

From thence to honour thee, I would not seeke For names ; but call forth thund'ring Æschilus,

Euripides, and Sophocles to us,
Paccuvius, Accius, him of Cordova dead,

To life againe, to heare thy Buskin tread,
And shake a Stage : Or, when thy Sockes were on,

Leave thee alone, for the comparison
Of all, that insolent Greece, or haughtie Rome

Sent forth, or since did from their ashes come.
Triumph, my Britaine, thou hast one to showe,

To whom all Scenes of Europe homage owe. He was not of an age, but for all time!

And all the Muses still were in their prime, When like Apollo he came forth to warme

Our eares, or like a Mercury to charme! Nature her selfe was proud of his designes,

And joy'd to weare the dressing of his lines ! Which were so richly spun, and woven so fit,

As, since, she will vouchsafe no other Wit. The merry Greeke, tart Aristophanes,

Neat Terence, witty Plautus, now not please ;
But antiquated, and deserted lye

As they were not of Nature's family.
Yet must I not give Nature all: Thy Art,

My gentle Shakespeare, must enjoy a part.
For though the Poet's matter, Nature be,

His Art doth give the fashion. And, that he, Who casts to write a living line, must sweat,

(Such as thine are) and strike the second heat

Upon the Muses' anvile: turne the sanie,

(And himselfe with it) that he thinkes to frame;
Or for the lawrell, he may gaine a scorne,

For a good Poet's made, as well as borne.
And such wert thou. Looke how the father's face

Lives in his issue, even so the race
Of Shakespeare's minde, and manners brightly shines

In his well-turned, and true-filed lines :
In each of which, he seems to shake a Lance,

As brandish't at the eyes of Ignorance.
Sweet Swan of Avon! what a sight it were

To see thee in our waters yet appeare,
And make those flights upon the bankes of Thames,

That so did take Eliza, and our James !
But stay, I see thee in the Hemisphere

Advanc'd, and made a Constellation there!
Shine forth, thou Starre of Poets, and with rage,

Or influence, chide or cheere the drooping Stage ;
Which, since thy flight from hence, hath mourn'd like night
And despaires day, but for thy Volume's light.

BEN IONSON. These lines appear to be capable of a double meaning. We do not at all mean to contend that they in any way prove that Bacon was the author of these plays, but only that they do not afford that direct evidence in favour of Shakespeare which might be expected ; and that some of the expressions are clearly susceptible of being applied to Bacon.

Not to dilate upon the exordium, the early lines of which appear to express something of an excuse for praising the book rather than the individual,

we proceed at once to the invocation. That we may not be charged with anything like special pleading, or a desire to deceive, we admit that the lines and phrases selected will be such as seem best to favour the theory we are advocating.

Soul of the age !
Th’ applause, delight! the wonder of our age,

My Shakespeare-rise ! “Soul of the age” seems a term more applicable to Bacon than to Shakespeare; whilst the possessive pronoun “my,” added to Shakespeare, may serve to render his invocation applicable to either the one or the other. The lines,

Thou art a monument without a tomb,
And art alive still while thy book doth live,

And we have wits to read, and praise to give, seem much more applicable to a living than to a

deceased person.

And though thou hast small Latin and less Greek,
From thence to honour thee I would not seek
For names.

The first of these lines has been wrested in every possible way, to make it applicable to William Shakespeare, without success; and though at first sight it might seem even less applicable to Bacon,

upon investigation the reverse will be found to be the case.

There is reason to suppose that Bacon was not greatly proficient in the Greek language, but that he was well acquainted with Latin there can be no doubt : he probably could speak it with fluency. But in that age, when, as has been well observed, Latin occupied the place which French now occupies, and every one who was educated at all, must, of necessity, have been classically educated, a man might have a very considerable knowledge of Latin and Greek, and yet be pronounced by so finished and critical a scholar as Ben Jonson undoubtedly was, to have “small Latin and less Greek.” The observation, and the mode of introducing it in the midst of a panygeric, are highly characteristic of Jonson; and it is just such a hit as he would delight to bestow upon a living great man, whom he considered his inferior in scholarship. That there is some truth in it, is confirmed by contemporary statements; for in Bacon's life in the Biographia Britannica, there is this note : -"Amelot, in his Memoires Historiques, tom. i. page 361, has asserted, upon the pretended authority of Casaubon, that Lord Bacon did not understand Latin. This is as evident a falsehood as

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