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has some slight claim to historical merit. Of the apothegms Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “ They are the one part of Bacon's works which are not worth reading.” Even among them, however, we find such weighty and entertaining observations as the following:
“My Lord St. Albans said that nature did never put her precious jewels into a garret four stories high, and, therefore, that exceeding tall men had ever very empty heads." No. 17.
Like the strawberry wives, that laid two or three great strawberries at the mouth of their pot and all the rest were little ones.” No. 54.
“Cosmus, Duke of Florence, was wont to say of perfidious friends that we read that we should forgive our enemies; but we do not read that we should forgive our friends.” No. 206.
Cato said the best way to keep good acts in memory is to refresh them with new." No. 247.
Bacon's life ended in a fashion that was not out of harmony with the great purpose of his life. While he was driving in his coach on a winter day it occurred to him that cold might be as good a preservative of food as salt. He therefore stopped at a farmhouse and bought a fowl, which he stuffed with snow with his own hands. As a consequence, he contracted a cold from which he did not recover. He died April 9, 1626, and was buried in St. Michael's Church in St. Albans. In the last letter which he wrote he compared himself to the elder Pliny, who lost his life by trying an experiment in connection with the burning of Mt. Vesuvius, and recorded the fact that his own experiment had succeeded excellently.
Alexander Pope's statement, already quoted, that Bacon was the “wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind," is not true. He was not the wisest, because, lacking moral stamina, he stepped aside from his high literary calling into the intrigue and meanness of court life, ruining by the division of his energy between earthly ambition and the honorable desire for fame a career which might have been one of the noblest in the annals of literature. He was not the brightest, for he lived in the age of Shakespeare; and he was not the meanest, for in spite of all his defects of character, he left a legacy which will continue to increase in value as long as civilization continues to advance.
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QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES 1. Give an outline of Bacon's public life.
Reading maketh a full man," wrote Bacon in an essay. What do you
consider the meaning of this statement? 3. What is the difference between the inductive and the deductive methods
of reasoning 4. Give an example of the results obtained by the inductive method. 5. Count the number of words in one of Bacon's essays. Read the essay;
close the book; rewrite the essay in your own words, and find how much of Bacon's thought you are able to express with an equal num
ber of words. 6. Bacon says:
“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” Name three books of
each class. 7. Name a half-dozen contemporaries of Bacon. 8. Compare the points of view of Spenser and Bacon. 9. Do you believe Bacon could have written Shakespeare ? 10. Does Bacon stand highest as man, scientist, or essayist?
Suggested Readings.-Obtain a volume of Bacon's essays and read into it. You will find food for thought and sharp stimulus. The essays entitled “ Of Studies,” Of Revenge,' Of Gardens,” and “Of Beauty are especially recommended. Bacon," by Dean R. W. Church, in the
English Men of Letters Series,” is a good biography. Macaulay's “ Essay on Bacon” is magnificent.
OTHER ELIZABETHAN AND JACOBEAN WRITERS
If Jonson's learned sock be on.”—Milton.
Of the rar'st wits !”—Heywood. QUEEN ELIZABETH reigned 1559–1603, her successor, James I, 1603-1625. The awakened feeling of national power which marked this period, as we have already seen, produced a brilliant summer time of literature. It was so fruitful, indeed, that the spacious times of great Elizabeth are often called the golden age of English literature. It is a mistake, however, to suppose that the great names of Spenser, Bacon, and Shakespeare exhaust its titles to distinction. A host of excellent minor writers also flourished during this period. It is the purpose of this chapter to sketch briefly a few of these.
The chief glory of the age is the drama. No other nation can boast such an output of good plays as were written in England at this time. Save those of Shakespeare, however, these productions are not calculated to interest beginners in literature. A few brief notes on the most important authors and plays will therefore suffice:
George Chapman (1559–1634) was a copious dramatist. Among his best plays are “ All Fools, “ Bussy d'Ambois,” and “Eastward Ho.” The latter, written in conjunction with Ben Jonson and Marston, contained allusions to the Scotch which got the authors into jail, because they enraged James I, who was the son of Mary Queen of Scots. Here is one of the offending passages: “Only a few industrious Scots perhaps, who indeed are dispersed over the face of the whole earth. But as for them, there are no greater friends to Englishmen and England, when they are out on't, in the world, than they are. And for my own part, I would a hundred thousand of them were there (Virginia); for we are all one country now, ye know, and we should find ten times more comfort of them there than we do here." Chapman's greatest achievement was his translation of the “Iliad” and “ Odyssey," which in poetical vigor and beauty is perhaps nearer to the originals than any other English version. No bard has ever been more splendidly eulogized by a brother bard than Chapman in the following sonnet by John Keats: an we do. of the perhaps :
“Much have I travelled in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne,
Yet never did I breathe its pure serene
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
Looked at each other with a wild surmise,
Chapman is also the author of this sentence: “Young men think old men are fools, but old men know young men are fools."
Ben Jonson (1573–1637), after Shakespeare and Marlowe the most conspicuous dramatist of this period, was early left an orphan, was compelled to leave school, for a while worked as a bricklayer, as a soldier in Flanders killed one of the enemy in single combat, failed as an actor, and killed a fellow performer in a duel. His career as a playwright began 1596 with the production of "Every Man in his Humour,” with Shakespeare as one of the actors. His best tragedies are two classical pieces, “Sejanus” and “ Catiline,” and his best comedies “ Volpone, or the Fox”; “ Epicæne, or the Silent Woman”; and “The Alchemist.” Coleridge says that the plot of the last is one of the three best in literature, the others being those of Sophocles's “Edipus the King ” and Fielding's “ Tom Jones.” He also wrote pastoral play called “ The Sad Shepherd,” which in poetic charm belongs in the same class with “The Faithful Shepherdess ” of Fletcher and even challenges comparison with Milton's "Comus.” Like his great namesake, Samuel Johnson, Ben's literary reputation, his love of companionship, and his colloquial powers made him a
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literary dictator. At the Mermaid Club, founded by Sir Walter Raleigh, he met Shakespeare, Beaumont, and Fletcher in wit-combats of which Fuller says:
Many were the wit-combats betwixt Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, which two I behold like a Spanish great gal
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leon and an English man-of-war: Master Jonson, like the former, was built far higher in learning; solid, but slow in his performances. Shakespeare, with the English man-of-war, lesser in bulk, but lighter in sailing, could turn with all tides, tack about and take advantage of all winds, by the quickness of his wit and inventions." Jonson's