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am prone to believe they would have sought and found a more pleasing and satisfactory interpretation than the one so generally adopted.
Let us suppose, then, as I have attempted to prove, that in the 126 stanzas preceding this one, Lord Bacon has told us, in allegory, of the manner in which these plays were produced, and given many good reasons why, not wishing to be known as their author, he had disposed of the authorship to Shakespeare. Let us accept as true what he tells us, that he found his highest delight in composing them, that by forsaking that employment to engage in office-seeking and politics, he brought shame and disgrace upon his name, and unending sorrow to his life. His only source of relief was to re-engage in the work which had afforded him so much happiness. He had found that in the attempt to do so, his powers were stronger than ever, his inclinations and tastes had not been changed, and that his strong desire was to enter upon a new field of investigation, which should represent character and life in the intensest modes of crime and passion. It is this change in the aspect of the plays he is now writing that he foreshadows in “My Mistress.” It is Tragedy. He has written Comedies and Histories, but in this mightier field, he has never entered. The public taste is favorable. Tragedy was not popular when he wrote his first plays, and the little tragedy they contained "bore not Beauty's name”
(gave to Tragedy no distinctive character; they were known only as Comedies or Histories). Now, however, it was in favor; it "was Beauty's successive heir." A host of dramatists, Marlow, Lodge, Jonson, and others, were at work upon tragedies, but their portrayal of character was untrue to nature; they faired “the foul [the darkest characters] with art’s false borrow'd face," and thus profaned and disgraced Beauty. For this, among other good reasons, he had made choice of Tragedy.
Since saucy jacks so happy are in this,
He tells us in this stanza of the amusement it affords him to witness the vain efforts and struggles of other writers, to imitate and rival him in the delineation of Truth in his dramas. Their efforts are likened to the exercise of the fingers when playing upon the virginals. The virginals
represent the progress of literary work. Thou, or Truth, is supposed to be the inspirer of the work in hand, in the production of which he uses the fingers of Thy, the thinker or creator, and the jacks or keys to the instrument are the authors themselves. The music, or the matter which the instrument thus formed produces, “confounds” him. Ile would like the opportunity to try his skill, and see if he could not excel those writers. If he could be as well pleased with his own efforts as they seem to be with theirs, he would gladly exchange places with them and produce better work. But as they,“ the saucy jacks,” are so well satisfied, let them work on with the fingers, or slight touches of truth. He will receive it from the lips, the only reliable source.
The expense of spirit in a waste of shame
All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
This stanza, which describes the guilty passion that influenced Claudius to murder his brother, and led to all the grief, sorrow, death, and final destruction of the characters delineated in Hamlet, tells its own story better than any interpretation.
And yet, by heaven, I think My Love as rare
In this stanza the falsities used by contemporaneous writers to describe feminine attractions are ingeniously travestied by the negative accomplishments of his Mistress. Her eyes are unlike the
Coral is redder than her lips. If nothing is white but snow, her breasts are dun. If hairs are wires, black wires grow on her head. He has never seen any damask roses in her cheeks, and has smelled perfumes that are sweeter than her breath. Music is more pleasing to his ear than her voice. He has never seen a goddess move,
but his Mistress walks on the ground like other people; and yet “My Love” (the drama) is as rare and beautiful as any woman whose beauties have been belied by false comparisons, none of which could add a single grace to her person.
In nothing art Thou black save in Thy deeds,
His picture of Thou (Truth) and Thy (Thought), as delineated in the character of Othello, is referred to in this stanza. Othello in his jealous rage is as tyrannical in conduct as others of fairer mould would be. He is in his view the most perfect of all the characters of his creation. But many will pronounce him unnatural, and think him unfitted to represent the character of a lover.
a lover. He will not publicly deny this opinion, but in his own mind, “Myself” (as author), he is certain it is wrong, and to make sure of that, he will fill the play