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in this and the other early plays of Shakespeare is an importation from abroad and we may presume was no more to the taste of better class English people then than it is now. It was in the mode however among court circles in France, and our author has caught its style. Not that his mind is impure, far from it; he is only rather unscrupulous and cannot resist an opportunity for exercising his wit. He is also, at least in his early days, a great follower of high fashion and takes every opportunity to give currency to its modes in our then rather primitive England.

The most interesting thing to notice in this play is the care with which the character of Biron is drawn and the extraordinary power of self-criticism which it displays. He is the central figure of the piece and all the other characters are foils to him. Especially noticeable is the contrast between him and Boyet. Biron is deep, serious, wholly English; Boyet is wholly French. In intellect Biron is head and shoulders above him and every other character in the play, but he lacks the facile accomplishments and social graces of the French exquisite and envies him accordingly. His envy breaks out in the speech :

This fellow picks up wit as pigeons peas

And we that sell by gross? the Lord doth know,
Have not the grace to grace it with such show.

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And so on-I have quoted the passage in full in my article in Appendix I. It is a marvellous description of a French gallant to the life.

Again he girds at him in the speech :

Do not you know my lady's foot by the squire,
And laugh upon the apple of her eye ?

His own inaptitude in social dalliance, as a student turned lover, not, as Boyet, having been born and brought up to it, is brought out by the speech of the Princess :

1 That is, whose stock is less exposed for retail but more solid and wholesale.

None are so surely caught, when they are catch'd,
As wit turn'd fool : folly in wisdom hatch'd
Hath wisdom's warrant, and the help of school,

And wit's own grace to grace a learned fool.
Ros. : The blood of youth burns not with such excess,

As gravity's revolt to wantonness.

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Biron's re-action against the student life is brought out at the opening of the play, where on being asked to subscribe to the conditions of the new Academy, one of which is not to see ladies for three years, he replies "to study now it is too late," and

Small have continual plodders ever won
Save base authority from others' books.

and in his love-sonnet to Rosalind he says,

Study his bias leaves and makes his book thine eyes.

(IV. ii.) and later :

For where is any author in the world
Teaches such beauty as a woman's eye ?

Till then he had always derided love :

And I, forsooth, in love ! I, that have been love's whip ;
A very beadle to a humorous sigh.
What, I! I love! I sue ! I seek a wife !

(III. i.)
In precisely the same vein are some of Bacon's remarks
in his prose works, notably that in the famous essay Of Love :

“ You may observe that amongst all the great and worthy persons (whereof the memory remaineth, either ancient or recent) there is not one that hath been transported to the mad degree of love : which shews that great spirits and great business do keep out this weak passion."

a principle which it is the whole design of Antony and Cleopatra to illustrate. At the same time no writer ever sang the praise of love as an ideal in more glowing language, or was more conscious of the associations of beauty by which it is surrounded. Thus the same Biron, when once he had let himself succumb to its influence, says:

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For revels, dances, masks, and merry hours
Forerun fair Love, strewing her way with flowers.

(III. iii.)

Brilliant and distinguished as Biron is, he is not altogether a nice character. For that he is too self-centred, too much given to self-esteem, and too indifferent to the merits of others. He desires to shine at all costs and is prepared to put everybody right. Never probably was there a juster piece of self-portraiture.

It is significant that almost all the great poetry of the piece is either put into his mouth or spoken in relation to him. Thus when after the speeches of the others his turn comes to propose to Rosalind, the lyrical tone is heightened to a new and finer point :

Studies my lady? mistress, look on me;
Behold the window of my heart, mine eye,
What humble suit attends thy answer there :
Impose some service on me for thy love.

(V. ii.)

So too, Rosalind is made to describe him and his wit in terms of the highest distinction :

Oft I have heard of you, my Lord Biron,
Before I saw you; and the world's large tongue
Proclaims you for a man replete with mocks,
Full of comparisons and wounding flouts,
Which you on all estates will execute
That lie within the mercy of your wit.

(V. iii.)

This was the defect of his qualities, of which the author was well aware in himself; but he was unable to resist a more favourable description of himself in Rosalind's mouth in an earlier passage:

1 Compare the lines in the king's speech (IV. iii.) :

What will Biron say when that he shall hear
Faith so infringed, which such zeal did swear ?
How he will scorn ! how he will spend his wit !
How he will triumph, leap and laugh at it !

Biron they call him; but a merrier man,
Within the limit of becoming mirth,
I never spent an hour's talk withal :
His eye begets occasion for his wit;
For every object that the one doth catch
The other turns to a mirth-moving jest,
Which his fair tongue, conceit's expositor,
Delivers in such apt and gracious words
That aged ears play truant at his tales
And younger hearings are quite ravished;
So sweet and voluble is his discourse.

(II. 1.) What better description could be found of the young Shakespeare, as revealed in the early plays ? The description is also a characteristic example of the author's habit of selfidealisation which I have discussed in the Article in Appendix I., and at greater length in my book on Spenser. In that book also I have drawn attention to Spenser's extraordinary habit of self-praise, and discussed it in relation to Bacon's character. This passage has precisely the same features. There is another description, as I believe, in this play, of the author's genius, put into the mouth of Holofernes (to whom it is quite irrelevant), and prefaced by the affectation of “simplicity" to which I referred in chapter V. of my volume on Spenser as a mannerism of Bacon :

“ This is a gift that I have, simple, simple; a foolish extravagant spirit, full of forms, figures, shapes, objects, ideas, apprehensions, motions, revolutions : these are begot in the ventricle of memory, nourished in the womb of pia mater, and delivered upon the mellowing of occasion. But the gift is good in those in whom it is acute, and I am thankful for it.”

Said in connection with a literary puzzle, a species of exercise of which Bacon was probably very fond. The heaping up of ideas which occurs in this passage is also characteristically Baconian.

This play also, as is well known, contains one of the most striking pieces of evidence of legal knowledge in the author, such as could only have been possessed by one who was intimately acquainted with legal practice. I refer to the extraordinary metaphor put into the mouth of a young woman : My lips are no common, though several they be.

The last passage which I shall adduce in the argument for Baconian origin is that in which Biron renounces literary affectations in favour of the homely directness of his native speech :

Taffeta phrases, silken terms precise,

Three-piled hyperboles, spruce affectation,
Figures pedantical; these summer-flies

Have blown me full of maggot ostentation :
I do forswear them; and I here protest,

By this white glove,-how white the hand, God knows |--
Henceforth my wooing mind shall be express'd
In russet yeas and honest kersey noes.

(V. ii.) There is nothing in the part of Biron in the play to justify this description of his mood and style, and it must be regarded therefore as referring to some habit of the author himself and as a piece of self-expression. I believe myself that it refers to the euphuistic productions whose appearance in England synchronised with Bacon's return from the continent and that it was he who gave the vogue to them, from foreign sources, under the pen-name of another man. It is at least a remarkable coincidence that all that is best and most characteristic in what we call Elizabethan literature is bounded by the compass of Bacon's life. It began about twelve years after his birth and ended absolutely with his death.

It seems legitimate to ask how it came about that the lady of Spenser's and of Shakespeare's early affections should have been represented under the same name, a name which Spenser's supposed commentator “E.K.” informs us was intended to apply to a lady of no mean house, and under the letters of which her real name was to be found. I have stated my conviction in my book on Sidney's Arcadia that this was Mary Sidney, the Countess of Pembroke ; see below at page 24.

Bacon seldom alludes to himself in his writings. De nobis ipsis silemus, he says in one place—“Of ourselves we forbear to speak." But there is one passage in his writings

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