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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.

How oft, when Thou, my music, music play'st,
Upon that blessed wood whose motion sounds
With Thy sweet fingers, when Thou gently sway'st
The wiry concord that Mine ear confounds,
Do I envy those jacks that nimble leap
To kiss the tender inward of Thy hand,
Whilst My poor lips, which should that harvest reap,
At the wood's boldness by Thee blushing stand !
To be so tickled, they would change their state
And situation with those dancing chips,
O’er whom Thy fingers walk with gentle gait,
Making dead wood more bless'd than living lips.

Since saucy jacks so happy are in this,
Give then Thy fingers, Me, Thy lips to kiss.

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


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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
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjur'd, murtherous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,
Enjoy'd no sooner but despisedl straight,
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had
Past reason hated, as a swallow'd bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad;
Mad in pursuit and in possession so;
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof, and prov'd, a very woe;
Before, a joy propos’d; behind, a dream.

All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

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.

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from My mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:

And yet, by heaven, I think My Love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.


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.

Thou art as tyrannous, so as Thou art,
As those whose beauties proudly make them cruel;
For well Thou know'st, to My dear doting heart
Thou art the fairest and most precious jewel.
Yet, in good faith, some say that Thee behold,
Thy face hath not the power to make love groan:
To say they err I dare not be so bold,
Although I swear it to Myself alone.
And, to be sure that is not false I swear,
A thousand groans, but thinking on Thy face,
One on another's neck, do witness bear,
Thy black is fairest in My judgment's place.

In nothing art Thou black save in Thy deeds,
And thence this slander, as I think, proceeds.

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

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